Friday Mashup (2/21/14)

February 21, 2014
  • Jonah Goldberg, apparently vying for the title of Most Idiotic Pundit in the Universe, inflicts the following while bashing Number 44 overall for a variety of alleged reasons (here)…

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to treat carbon dioxide as a “pollutant” is an outrageous expansion of executive power. But Obama (didn’t) tout that as a bullet point (last week at a Democratic retreat); he let the EPA take the political heat for that decision a while ago.

    So much stoo-pid, so little time – as noted here

    In March 2012 the Environmental Protection Agency released a draft rule limiting carbon pollution from new power plants. This standard was promulgated in response to the 2007 Supreme Court ruling requiring the agency to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act if it found that carbon dioxide emissions endangered public health and the environment. The agency published such a finding in 2009, noting that carbon-pollution-associated climate change will increase the frequency of unusually higher temperatures and heat waves.

    Increased temperatures can increase the risk for formation of ground level ozone or smog. Breathing ozone may lead to shortness of breath and chest pain; increased risk of asthma attacks; increased susceptibility to respiratory infections; need for medical treatment and for hospitalization for people with lung diseases, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and premature death. Children and senior citizens are most vulnerable to harm from smog.

    The Environmental Protection Agency held several listening sessions while drafting the proposal, held two public hearings on the proposed rule, and extended the comment period to 73 days. Almost 3 million comments were sent to the agency in favor of reducing carbon pollution from both new and existing power plants—a record for an Environmental Protection Agency rule proposal. The agency is now in the midst of finalizing its rule.

    Actually, based on this, the EPA finalized the rule last December 19th; carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology is “decades old,” though apparently it is still a relatively expensive technology (don’t know enough to say whether or not it should be subsidized by the federal government or if it is already, but if it isn’t, why not?).

    Of course, if Goldberg had an inclination towards actual journalism instead of hack punditry, he might be disposed to try and find that out (yes I know – if I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of spring…).

  • Next, I give you the latest from Repug U.S. Senator John Barrasso via Fix Noise in the “Let’s Bash Number 44” slug fest (here, opining about the fifth anniversary of the stimulus last Monday)…

    President Obama said that he was going to use the money to fund “shovel-ready” construction projects. Many of those projects stalled because of burdensome red tape, and Washington regulations. A couple of years later, the president even joked that “shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”

    In response, to give you an idea of how many jobs were saved or created the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, I would ask that you read the following from here.

    And what have Barrasso and his fellow U.S. Congressional Republican pals done in response (aside from saying that the stimulus “failed” even though they patted themselves on the back for bringing stimulus funds back to their states or congressional districts, as noted here)?

  • Obama’s jobs plan blocked in the Senate in October 2011 (here).
  • A $60 billion infrastructure spending bill was also blocked in the Senate in November 2011 (heregee, ya’ think that would have helped with repairing our roads crumbling from this awful winter? And do you remember this stellar related moment?).
  • Obama’s 2011 American Jobs Act was also blocked in the U.S. House (here).
  • A veterans’ jobs bill was also blocked in the Senate in September 2012 (here).
  • Of course, an extension of unemployment benefits that would create 2 million jobs was also blocked (here).
  • Here’s a more comprehensive list of legislation backed by Obama that has been blocked by Republicans in Congress (and here is another typical Barrasso move).

  • Continuing, I give you the latest from the perpetually angry Brent Bozell (here)…

    Media liberals are howling at the apparent injustice of the “anti-Clinton” Washington Free Beacon website, which has dared to paw through old Hillary Clinton history. The hypocrisy is stunning. Let us recall the avalanche of mean-spirited and sleazy “fair game” the networks assembled for us just a few years ago in the last election cycle.

    Bozell then goes on to list a whole bunch of imagined media slights involving Republicans, which I won’t bother to address here lest this entire subject grow too tiresome than it already is. However, I’m going to say something about this because 1) Without giving away the game too much, I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to be dealing with an upcoming presidential election cycle involving Hillary Clinton, and 2) Our wingnut brethren, if Bozell is any indication, have already decided to start dumping on the former First Lady, Secretary of State and U.S. Senator from New York regardless (it’s ALWAYS good sport for conservatives to dump on the Clintons, which, if nothing else, tells you how pitiable these people truly are).

    Bozell also mentioned something about the Washington Free Beacon (whatever that is). In response, this Media Matters post tells us that the “Free Beacon” relied on a report from a group called OPSEC to attack Hillary Clinton – this tells us more about the group:

    …OPSEC, a right-wing group made up of retired intelligence and Special Forces operatives, has partisan ties and a history of disingenuously attacking the Obama administration. The group “first surfaced during the 2012 presidential campaign,” when they produced a 22-minute film and TV ads accusing President Obama of “seeking political gain from the May 2011 military operation that killed Osama bin Laden.” (PolitiFact rated the claims made in the ads as “false” and “mostly false.”) Key members of the group have current and former affiliations with the Republican Party, and Reuters uncovered that more than a quarter of OPSEC’s 2012 funding was raised by Campaign Solutions, a political consultancy which represents Republican candidates.

    OPSEC’s president, Scott Taylor, has also previously been accused of “shady campaign tactics” in his multiple bids for Republican state office, and as Business Insider noted, the group’s maneuvers reveal they are more interested in attacking President Obama and the Obama administration than promoting any national security interests. According to OpenSecrets, OPSEC spent almost $500,000 in the 2012 election cycle on “electioneering communications” alone.

    Official investigations have found Secretary Clinton, the Obama administration, and the military did everything within their power to rescue the Americans stationed in Benghazi at the time. The official inquiry into the State Department’s role conducted by the independent, nonpartisan Accountability Review Board found that security at Benghazi was inadequate and offered recommendations for State to prevent future attacks, all of which are being implemented, but found Clinton personally blameless.

    Yes, having to counter the nonsense from Bozell and his ilk is time not spent trying to persuade anyone still on the fence at this point why they should vote for a Democrat in the upcoming and all future election cycles. But this is an exercise that must be done, since the “noise machine” will crank up ever louder, immune to facts and reason as always.

  • Further, I have to comment on the following here (staying with clownhall.com, and apparently still in need of an editor)…

    More than half of Americans oppose Obamacare and 56% claim the law is more about bolstering government control than it is about helping individuals gethealth care (sic).

    The millions kicked off their insurance certainly do not find the policy freeing, neither do millennials forced to pay for healthcare feel liberated.

    Obamacare is precisely the type of overbearing government policy that the Founders would have fought against…

    Oh? So the Founding Fathers would have opposed “Obamacare”?

    This tells us about the U.S. Marine Hospital, founded in 1798, under President John Adams (it eventually became our Public Health Service, led by the Surgeon General). And as noted here, the hospital was also supported by Thomas Jefferson, hardly an acolyte of “big gumint.”

    And did I tell you that Benjamin Franklin co-founded the nation’s first public hospital offering free health care, as noted here (which became Pennsylvania Hospital)? Gosh, I didn’t know our founding fathers were such a bunch of damn socialists (removing my tongue from my cheek).

    As long as I’m on this subject, though, I should point out that this tells us that the number of health care repeal votes in the U.S. House under Republican Party “leadership” has now ballooned to 47. And that means that I’ve fallen behind a bit on my count, based on my pledge to highlight a different U.S. House Republican for each repeal vote:

    Here is the tally so far:

    #1 – #31 is here.
    #32 – #40 is here.
    #41 – #42 is here.

    So without any more ado, let’s pick up the count, shall we?

    meadows

    #43 – Mark Meadows (NC – 11)

    As far as I’m concerned, Meadows is infamous for only one act, but it was a real doozy, and that would be last year’s government shut down; as noted here, he was more responsible for it than any other person in the U.S. Congress.

    And just to refresh our memories, these in part were the results:

  • Disadvantaged women and infants relying on nutrition programs, as well as anyone relying on Head Start, individuals with disabilities and people needing heating assistance were all hurt (here).
  • Processing of veterans’ compensation, pension and education benefits was delayed; the shutdown was projected to drain about $10 billion out of our economy (here).
  • Passport applications were delayed as well, and shutting down sites in the U.S. Parks service hurt tourism as well as related businesses relying on tourist dollars, OSHA halted inspections, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission halted investigations of fraudulent trading practices – processing of Pell Grants and student loan assistance was also slowed (here).
  • FEMA ended up furloughing 86 percent of their employees during the height of the hurricane season (here).
  • So yeah, if Mark Meadows does absolutely nothing else of consequence one way or the other for the remainder of his public life, he will always be remembered for the utterly ruinous 2013 government shutdown, as well he should.

    ellmers

    #44 – Renee Ellmers (NC – 02)

    What a prize of an elected official…

  • Speaking of the shut down, Ellmers voted for it of course, but when asked why she wouldn’t donate her salary, said “I need my paycheck” here (as Laura Clawson says, as if Head Start teachers don’t?).
  • Oh, and an unsecured AR-15 rifle was stolen from her home here (smooth move).
  • Here, she introduced a “bill” to provide “rights” to disabled (injured and amputee) veterans that they already have.
  • As noted here, Ellmers introduced a resolution to honor Jesse Helms (ding ding ding! We have a winner in the “Wingnut of the Week” contest!).
  • Also, I’m not the biggest fan of Clay Aiken either, and I know politics ain’t beanbag as somebody once said, but I thought it definitely showed a lack of class on her part to mock his singing here.
  • reid-ribble-oops

    #45 – Reid Ribble (WI – 08)

  • This tells us that a petition with 120,000 signatures was delivered to Ribble’s office telling him not to include Social Security cuts in fiscal discussions last year, which Ribble intended to do regardless of the fact Social Security does not contribute to the federal deficit…remember the whole “chained CPI” thing, which apparently has come around again as an issue as noted here?
  • And speaking of Social Security, he wants anyone relying on that popular federal program to get it in the proverbial neck, as it were, as noted here.
  • In a truly guttural move, Ribble actually scolded Sister Simone Campbell for asking government to help the poor (nice).
  • Here, Ribble ducked out early from a jobs fair to attend a campaign fundraiser (what a swell guy).
  • Ribble said here that government shouldn’t borrow, even though he personally carries a couple of hundred thousand in debt (the latter isn’t a crime, but don’t be so damn two-faced about it).
  • And OF COURSE he’s a member of the “Koch Caucus” (here).
  • SteveStockman

    #46 – Steve Stockman (TX – 36)

    I don’t know if Stockman is the biggest goof ball on this list or not, but if he isn’t, he’s certainly in the top two…

  • There’s lots of stuff on Stockman from this great post – take your pick.
  • He also thinks Ted Nugent is a patriot (here).
  • Stockman invited the rodeo clown wearing an Obama mask noted here to perform in his district (nice).
  • He apparently went missing also (here), but he turned up later (here), thinking the whole “missing” thing was a joke apparently (of course, if you want to read something really funny, take a look at this…wonder if the Teahadists will do the U.S. Senate Democrats another favor?).
  • As noted here, Stockman is also apparently a fan of that show “Duck Dynasty,” along with a lot of others I know (in response, I give you this…anyone who buys into that show is a total rube).
  • Update 3/4/14: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    Neugebauer

    #47 – Randy Neugebauer (TX – 19)

  • Yes, it’s true – as the picture shows, any discussion of Neugebauer has to begin with his truly infamous episode where he yelled at a U.S. Park Ranger for closing the WWII memorial during the shut down his party initiated (here).
  • He also yelled out “baby killer,” presumably at former Dem U.S. House Rep Bart Stupak, during Stupak’s speech on the House floor at about the same time as the vote for the Affordable Care Law in 2010, which is truly idiotic but particularly in the case of pro-lifer Stupak (here)…and yes, he apologized.
  • Oh, and when asked here, he wouldn’t provide a copy of his birth certificate, even though Neugebauer is a “birther” himself, as noted here (uh oh).
  • Neugebauer was also one of the House Repugs who voted for farm aid (receiving about $4 grand in subsidies) while also voting to cut food stamps (here…also, he’s very definitely a member of the “Koch Caucus” along with Reid Ribble, noted in the link above).
  • So I think that brings the official count up to date; I should also start thinking about a proper commemoration for the eventual 50th repeal vote. Because, knowing this bunch in the House, that vote will surely come.

  • Rep_Holt_Official_Headshot

  • Finally, as long as I’ve devoted so much space to Congressional miscreants, allow me to finish by bidding a fond farewell to a retiring Dem who set, I believe, a sterling example of how Democrats are supposed to advocate for their constituencies and what kind of legislation they are supposed to author and/or support. And that would be Rush Holt of New Jersey (here).

    As noted below (citing what I know is an incomplete list of accomplishments)…

  • He spoke out against the ever-pervasive surveillance state here.
  • On a related note, he sponsored the RESTORE Act in 2007 here (earning the enmity of Joke Line, among others).
  • He was also a visionary on climate change (here).
  • He helped secure $3 million to keep the NJ Technology Center at Ft. Monmouth open (here).
  • He was a staunch defender of Social Security (here).
  • He won congressional approval of a measure to mandate video recording of interrogations (here).
  • Holt once introduced a bill to ensure a paper ballot in elections here (that issue more or less got swept under the rug, but last I checked, it still needed to be addressed).
  • We are truly losing some giants on our side in the House between Holt, Henry Waxman and George Miller. However, it is only right to cycle in new blood, as it were, and to also give thanks for the exemplary precedent set by those who have done their time and have now earned a well-deserved rest, providing the way forward for future heroes on our side, championing future causes for the good of our country. And may we see the day when their hard work comes to joyful fruition for us all.

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    Friday Mashup (2/14/14)

    February 14, 2014
  • This story hits me where I live.

    If it had not been for the winter weather, I very well may have been involved in this disaster in the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I chose not to travel that route today).

    What matters most, of course, is immediate medical attention to the victims, which is currently underway of course. What matters beyond that is somehow allowing everyone trapped on the highway to get out as safely as possible (with their vehicles intact, or, short of that, with their vehicles salvaged somehow). And then, the roadway needs to be cleaned up to the fullest extent possible, of course.

    But at some future point, when everyone involved is OK (hopefully), I want SOMEBODY to ask this question (preferably a politician – put them to work doing something constructive):

    Why the hell is there STILL no light rail, mass transit alternative from Bucks County near the New Jersey/Trenton area to the western PA suburbs and Chester County in particular?

    Yes, I know – NIMBY. But as far as I’m concerned, that was never a good enough explanation. And it DEFINITELY isn’t a good enough explanation in light of this massive chain accident today.

    Commuter trains run near where we live (the R-3 West Trenton line in particular). It’s no big deal – you barely hear them (can’t say the same for the CSX freight trains, which are a whole other story). And they are clean, relatively speaking. There’s no reason why at least one commuter line cannot run from Bucks through Montgomery to Chester County (or even beyond). No, I don’t have any recent data on this, but I don’t know of a circumstance where a mass transit alternative was offered versus negotiating a congested thoroughfare, and that alternative was ignored.

    The time has long since passed for this discussion to be settled once and for all. If anything positive whatsoever can come of this horror today, then let this be it.

    Update 2/15/14: I apologize for being a bit unclear about something – when I’m talking about mass transit from Bucks to Chester counties, I mean that for both directions.

  • And as noted herewow, so Smerky has graduated to the higher (?) ranks of the pundit class now that he has been absorbed by “The Most Trusted Name in News.”

    I think this calls for a brief retrospective of some of his “highlights”:

  • As noted here, he once complained that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels felt that he had to drop out of consideration for the 2012 Repug presidential nomination because of too much scrutiny of Daniels’ personal life, even though our intrepid Philadelphia Inquirer columnist had no qualms about going after former Dem presidential candidate John Edwards.
  • He came out in defense of saner schedules and more rest for air traffic controllers, which is good, without noting of course that the Teahadists in the U.S. House sought to cut the budget of the FAA (here – third bullet).
  • He criticized the de facto discrimination against the jobless in hiring, though he basically said that there’s nothing that the federal government should be able to do about it (here – typical).
  • He once heckled Roger Waters of Pink Floyd for supporting the Palestinians here, and was actually quite proud of his behavior (Smerky, I mean).
  • He tried to mythologize The Sainted Ronnie R here (third bullet), criticizing Obama for criticizing the Supremes over Citizens United, saying Ronnie didn’t do that on Roe v. Wade (no, not much – he just created that stupid “Mexico City” policy to go with his criticism, that’s all).
  • He compared Arianna Huffington to a hooker outing a john here (nice).
  • I will admit that Smerky is cagey enough to know he has to take a page, as it were, from the book of someone like Joe Scarborough, who pretends to be sensible amidst spouting his full-on wingnuttery, particularly over the Clintons.

    So I guess congratulations are in order to Smerky for playing the typical corporate media game and ensconcing himself to an undeserved position of influence (though I guess he also deserves points for honesty based on this).

    And once again, I am compelled to ask the question…this is CNN?

  • Next (and speaking of wingnuttery), you can always rely on more bilious right-wing propaganda from Cal Thomas, and he delivers more of it here (from clownhall.com)…

    In 1976, Jimmy Carter promised never to lie to us, a promise that rested on a perception of his own virtue. Given his sad record, the country might have willingly exchanged veracity for competence.

    Interesting that Thomas would say that now even though he once complimented Carter on the former president’s “worship experience” here (and as noted here, he has a rather infamous track record at proclaiming “doom and gloom” over alleged “values” issue anyway).

  • Further, I give you the following from Repug U.S. House Rep Ted Poe via Fix Noise here

    (The) NSA argues that its employees only carry out the actions necessary to find terrorists and protect our country. They have even claimed that terrorist attacks have been prevented as a result of their actions.

    If this is true, those success stories should be made public. At a Judiciary Committee hearing last week, I asked Deputy Attorney General James Cole how many criminal cases have been filed as a result of this massive spying operation.

    His answer? Maybe one. And he wasn’t even 100% sure of that.

    That’s right, the NSA has launched one of the largest data collection programs in U.S. history that monitors who we call, how long we talk to them, who they called, and where our calls were made from, all in order to “maybe” catch one bad guy.

    In any event, the ends do not justify the means. NSA has trampled on the Fourth Amendment rights of millions of Americans.

    It’s funny in a way that Poe mentions the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution when you consider the following; as noted here, the USA Patriot Act…

    violates the Fourth Amendment, which says the government cannot conduct a search without obtaining a warrant and showing probable cause to believe that the person has committed or will commit a crime.

    Violates the Fourth Amendment by failing to provide notice – even after the fact – to persons whose privacy has been compromised. Notice is also a key element of due process, which is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

    Under the Patriot Act PR/TT orders issued by a judge are no longer valid only in that judge’s jurisdiction, but can be made valid anywhere in the United States. This “nationwide service” further marginalizes the role of the judiciary, because a judge cannot meaningfully monitor the extent to which his or her order is being used. In addition, this provision authorizes the equivalent of a blank warrant: the court issues the order, and the law enforcement agent fills in the places to be searched. That is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment’s explicit requirement that warrants be written “particularly describing the place to be searched.”

    And who voted to renew the Patriot Act three years ago? Why, Ted Poe, as noted here (other idiocy with Poe can be found here…he’s #39 on the list – Poe also opposed the census here; second bullet).

  • Continuing, I came across the following item that made my jaw drop (here)…

    Ask this question to almost anyone, and the resounding answer will be something like: “Yes! It is the American Way. ‘One person, one vote’ is the cornerstone of democracy.”

    True, but interesting in light of this from yet another elitist scumbag (but I digress)…

    Just how deep this sentiment runs can be seen in the recent protests against policies requiring all voters to first produce a photo ID. The protesters seem to feel that any restriction on the unimpeded access to voting undermines our very democracy.

    I support voter ID laws. Without them, a single person could theoretically cast many votes during one Election Day by going to different polling stations; the fraud potential is enormous. If there are people too poor to procure an ID, the small amount of money needed for this purpose should be provided, either by government or private charities.

    Even by the admittedly lame standards of The Daily Tucker, the stoo-pid with this one was thick enough that it could be cut only with a hack saw.

    The author of this column is someone named D.B. Ganz, who apparently wrote something called Uncommon Sense and is published at a site called The Blaze. Since he shows no apparent knowledge of how one votes in this country based on his commentary, please allow me to provide the following information.

    I reside in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (not news I guess considering what I said earlier about the Turnpike), so when I registered to vote, I did so at the Bucks County Court House in Doylestown. Of course, I could have picked up a voter registration application elsewhere or even online, completed it, and mailed it in (or pressed a button and sent it into cyberspace). On the application, it is necessary to enter your basic demographic information, including your address.

    I honestly don’t remember how I found out where my polling location was; I could easily have accessed the Board of Elections link from buckscounty.org and done a bit of searching to find out where it is, or I could have called someone (maybe we were notified by mail?). What matters is that, when I found out where my polling location was (and I go to vote on Election Day or Primary Day), I notify a worker and they check my information to see if I am in their book. I sign the book on the line next to my name and demographic information after checking my info; of course, they now ask me for a voter ID, which they don’t enforce yet (I can provide a driver’s license, so it’s no big deal, even though I object to voter ID in principle of course).

    Here is my point (took awhile to get there, I know) – I cannot just vote anywhere I want! I have to vote in the area where I live and where I am registered to do so (to prevent to supposed rampant “voter fraud” that the Repugs profess to hate). So that proves that Ganz doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    I actually grew a little curious about Ganz, so I read up on him and found another column where he said that supporting health care reform was “short sighted and cruel,” or something. Which I thought was a really curious observation, seeing that Ganz is, “a long-time student of ancient Jewish texts, primarily the Talmud,” and Israel has universal health care with an individual mandate, as noted here.

  • Finally, and in observance of the recent 205th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, former Bushie Glenn Hubbard tells us the following here

    What would a mobility-enhancing agenda for today propose? A dynamic economy requires support for innovation, market expansion, and entrepreneurial risk-taking. “I know of nothing so pleasant to the mind as the discovery of anything which is at once new and valuable,” Lincoln said. Higher federal spending on basic research, trade-promotion authority, and business-tax reform to reduce marginal tax rates on income from business investments are important.

    Republicans should not be timid here. Lincoln was not: He expanded land ownership (the Homestead Act of 1862), access to higher education (the Morrill Act of 1862, with support for land-grant colleges across the states), and the scale and scope of commerce and trade (the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862, which supported the transcontinental railroad).

    Lincoln’s crusade for economic development was a lifetime political agenda. Just as the opportunity agenda he championed is much bolder than many conservatives appear willing to propose today, he was much less mired in emphasizing inequality than today’s Left. “I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good,” he said. “[But] while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else.”

    Fair enough (aside from the “ooga booga” nonsense about “today’s Left”), but let’s let the following also be known about our 16th president – as noted here, Lincoln definitely fought income inequality, particularly when it profited the banks (though he was once a lawyer for railroad companies also, which wasn’t in any way illegal I realize). And in opposition, Hubbard has called for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit – that’s nice, but that, along with food stamps, housing allowances, heating assistance and Medicaid, have turned into welfare for corporations, subsidized by the taxpayers of course, as noted here.

    And on the subject of labor and capital, please allow me to quote President Lincoln once more (here)…

    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

    I would also like to point out the following about Lincoln (from “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, pg. 104)…

    Lincoln’s abhorrence to hurting another was born of more than simple compassion. He possessed extraordinary empathy – the gift or curse of putting himself in the place of another, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires. The philosopher Adam Smith described this faculty: “By the imagination we place ourselves in his situation…we enter as it were into his body and become in some measure him.” This capacity Smith saw as “the source of our fellow-feeling for the misery of others…by changing places in fancy with the sufferer…we come either to conceive or to be affected by what he feels.” In a world environed by cruelty and injustice, Lincoln’s remarkable empathy was inevitably a source of pain. His sensibilities were not only acute, they were raw. “With his wealth of sympathy, his conscience, and his unflinching sense of justice, he was predestined to sorrow,” observed Helen Nicolay, whose father would become Lincoln’s private secretary.

    Though Lincoln’s empathy was at the root of his melancholy, it would prove an enormous asset to his political career. “His crowning gift of political diagnosis,” suggested Nicolay, “was due to his sympathy…which gave him the power to forecast with uncanny accuracy what his opponents were likely to do.” She described how, after listening to his colleagues talk at a Whig Party caucus, Lincoln would cast off his shawl, rise from his chair, and say: “From your talk, I gather the Democrats will do so and so…I should do so and so to checkmate them.” He proceeded to outline all “the moves for days ahead; making them all so plain that his listeners wondered why they had not seen it that way themselves.” Such capacity to intuit the inner feelings and intentions of others would be manifest throughout his career.

    And based on this signature moment from Hubbard, I would say that he has a thing or two to learn in the empathy department.


  • Friday Mashup (2/7/14)

    February 7, 2014
  • I recently read an Op-Ed in the Bucks County Courier Times that supported a bill from PA Repug State Representative Bryan Cutler that would stop the collection of union dues from pay checks, noted in this story (sorry I don’t have the editorial, but it went behind the Courier Times pay wall…I’ll let you, dear reader, take a minute or two to contemplate the truly uproarious notion of a pay wall for the Bucks County Courier Times before I continue).

    The Pennlive story linked to above, in part, tells us the following…

    At a news conference Monday, (Cutler), R-Lancaster County, said his proposal to end government deducting union dues from workers’ paychecks was common sense. Unions use a portion of dues — about 10 percent — for political ads and lobbying, and members can make voluntary political contributions deducted from their paychecks. Knowing a portion of the money is political, the state shouldn’t touch it, Cutler said.

    “I’m not refuting the group’s rights to engage in this kind of activity,” Cutler said. “What I am questioning is the appropriateness of the government collecting political money.” Not surprisingly, the unions see it differently.

    “What is this really about?” asked David Broderic, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association. “I think what this is really about is preventing people from making voluntary payroll deductions and have the effect of silencing the voice of middle-class Pennsylvanians.”

    Here’s the solution for this alleged problem – leave it up to the individual who is allowing the dues to be collected from his or her paycheck to make the decision, since, as noted above, the contribution is voluntary.

    Besides, under this alleged logic from Cutler, we should also pass a law to make sure that employers don’t automatically deduct 401(k) contributions, for example. Where does it end?

    Oh, but he only wants employers to stop deducting union dues, since that’s political, of course. Dues which are voluntary, let’s not forget (and Cutler says he doesn’t care how the dues are used; no word on whether or not his nose grew when he said that).

    And as a point of reference, this tells us that Dem Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri vetoed a similar scheme by Republican legislators (and this tells us more on who is ultimately responsible for this ridiculous legislation – yep, it’s the Kochs and the PA Commonwealth Foundation).

    The wingnuts and their media acolytes, including the oh-so-august-in-their-imaginations Courier Times Editorial Board, know how deeply unpopular PA Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett is, and they’re pulling out all the stops to try and get him re-elected. That’s what this is about, pure and simple (and here is more typical right-wing idiocy on this subject).

  • Next, I give you some true hilarity from former Repug U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (here)…

    When did all these folks on the left become “progressives,” and what does it mean?

    These are questions that deserve a little discussion because we are no longer being governed by various varieties of liberals but rather by folks who call themselves “progressives,” a label that is enthusiastically disseminated by their allies in the press such as The New York Times and NPR.

    These people’s purpose in governing is to redistribute wealth.

    This has been announced in a rather brash, but at least forthright, way by the new mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. It is also the goal, albeit less explicitly stated, of the tax policies of President Obama.

    The term for this in an earlier era would have been “socialism.” So why not use that word?

    The answer is, obviously, political.

    Obviously.

    Oh, and by the way, I’ve never lived under a socialist form of government, and neither has Gregg (and I sincerely hope I never do). When you hear talk about a “socialist” leader, do you know who is being discussed?

    Adolf-Hitler-572
    This guy, that’s who (Gregg basically admits that later in his column).

    And “word games”? Does Gregg mean the type that he played here, when he referred to “reconciliation,” used to pass health care reform as “arcane,” even though he approved of the process himself prior to that? Or when he referred to health care reform while in the Senate as “socialized medicine” here (an appropriate observation on the recent birthday of The Sainted Ronnie R)? Or, at the time when he was called upon for specifics on deficit reduction, he said that the MSNBC hosts who were apparently impertinent enough (as far as Gregg was concerned) to ask for specifics were “irresponsible” and “duplicitous” here (STILL can’t believe Obama once considered Gregg for commerce secretary)?

    As far as Gregg’s point about not knowing the difference between a liberal and a progressive, the best explanation I’ve seen on that came from David Sirota here, who said, in essence, that a liberal looks for taxpayer funds to achieve a desired goal, while a progressive seeks to do that through legislation or some other means of governmental reform.

    Gregg, as far as I’m concerned, was a waste of space as a U.S. Senator, and he definitely is not proving to be more than that (probably less, on balance) as a pundit.

    Update 2/10/14: How does it feel to be a token, Dr. Carson? (here)

  • Further, OMIGOD! Run for your lives! It’s the “Obamacare” Navigators!! (here)…

    In his State of the Union address, President Obama mentioned fixing a broken health care system. Unfortunately, the president provided no specifics about how to fix errors already experienced during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such as securing ethical and well-screened insurance navigators who handle personal information of health insurance enrollees.

    Dropping the ball on consumer protections, the federal government’s inadequate screening and training process for navigators exposes consumers to serious risks of fraud and identity theft.

    Proof? Anywhere in sight? Hello??

    Meanwhile, Dr. Kavita Patel tells us about the navigator selection and training process here

    They’re really just trying to sign people up for health care…. They went through the requisite 20 hours of training … [they] are people who know the health care system, are from nonprofits in the communities, community health centers. And they actually have gone through a longer period of health care training that will help to get people signed up. … A lot of what they are trying to do is just meet the demands, there are so many people asking questions.

    Let’s not forget also that the Affordable Care Act navigators have been baselessly tied to unions and ACORN (an organization which, let’s not forget, no longer exists) among other related falsehoods noted here.

    And of course, this (and this) tell us that ALEC (the author of this Daily Tucker piece belongs to this outfit – yep, Chuck and Dave are at it again!) isn’t exactly an impartial observer on this issue anyway.

  • Continuing, this tells us the following…

    Lawmakers are pushing to impose federal standards for protecting the country’s electric grid from attack in the wake of a new report about a sniper assault on a California electrical substation last year that has raised fears the power grid is vulnerable to terrorism.

    The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she and fellow senators plan to ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has jurisdiction over the electric grid’s reliability, to “set minimum security standards for critical substations.”

    The April 16, 2013 the attack on Pacific Gas & Electric’s Metcalf transmission substation involved snipping AT&T fiber-optic lines to knock out phone and 911 service, and firing shots into a PG&E substation, causing outages. The assault had not been widely publicized until The Wall Street Journal reported new details in a story on Wednesday.

    Actually, Congress was ready to pass something in 2010 called the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense (GRID) Act here (maybe not the catchiest acronym, but it gets to the point), which “amends the Federal Power Act to give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority to issue emergency orders to protect the electricity grid from a cyber-attack, electromagnetic weapon attack, a geomagnetic storm, or a direct physical attack on the bulk-power system or defense critical electric infrastructure.”

    The Act, believe it or not, passed the U.S. House unanimously. However, it died in the U.S. Senate. Why?

    Because Repug U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska killed it, that’s why (here). And as nearly as I can determine, she objected to the regulatory enforcement provisions.

    As noted here from 2011…

    Murkowski, R-Alaska, today called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to immediately initiate a formal process to address electricity reliability issues raised by the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory agenda.

    In a letter to FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, Murkowski requested the commission provide, within six months, a thorough analysis of the cumulative impact that proposed EPA regulations could have on the reliability of the nation’s power grid. Murkowski mentioned the Utility MACT and Cross State Air Pollution rules specifically as being of concern, and said FERC should conduct its analysis in concert with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the Electric Reliability Organization it has certified.

    “The pace and aggressiveness of these environmental regulations should be adjusted to reflect and consider the overall risk to the bulk power system,” Murkowski said, quoting NERC’s 2010 Special Reliability Scenario Assessment. “The regional nature of the nation’s power system does not allow for the seamless transfer of power from any point in the country to any other, which means power outages could occur in a particular region even though excess generation exists elsewhere.”

    And how exactly is that different from what we have right now anyway? Do you know, dear reader, that Texas has its own grid, for example?

    It’s not a bit out of character to see Murkowski objecting to increased regulatory enforcement given her prior related votes as noted here (hooked on fossil fuel donations also, as noted here). However, her “dependency,” if you will, manifest in her opposition to increased regulatory enforcement, has now led us to the point where we’re exposing our vital infrastructure to increased risk of attack, to say nothing of the slow suffocation of this planet as a whole.

  • Finally, I shouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see conservatives dumping on the grave of the recently deceased Pete Seeger, as Paul Kengor does here

    Seeger’s most disturbing work as a Marxist minstrel was his crooning for “The Almanacs,” which historian Ron Radosh – himself a former red-diaper baby – calls a “communist folk-singing group.” At varying times, “The Almanacs” included Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, and Will Geer, later known as “Grandpa” on TV’s “The Waltons.” Seeger founded the group in 1941.

    The most egregious work by “The Almanacs” was its propaganda for the insidious American Peace Mobilization, which Congress identified as “one of the most seditious organizations which ever operated in the United States” and “one of the most notorious and blatantly communist fronts ever organized.” Founded in 1940, the objective of the American Peace Mobilization was to keep America out of the war against Hitler. This also meant no Lend-Lease money to Britain.

    Why did the American Peace Mobilization take such a position? It did so because Hitler signed an alliance with Stalin. For American communists, any friend of Stalin was a friend of theirs. They literally swore an oath, formally pledging to a “Soviet America” and to “the triumph of Soviet power in the United States.” They were unflinchingly devout Soviet patriots.

    I’m not going to try and unpackage all of this stuff from Kengor – I’m sure there’s truth scattered amidst the wingnuttery – but I do want to point out something about those who opposed this country’s entry into World War II.

    Kengor’s column doesn’t mention the America First Committee, which also opposed entry into World War II. And who were members of that group, you ask?

    As noted here

    Progressive senators may have helped the Committee, but its most important supporters were a core group of Republican Chicago businessmen. Chief among them was General Robert Wood, CEO of Sears, Roebuck, who had replaced the impossibly young R. Douglas Stuart as president of America First. Wood had served during the First World War as acting Quartermaster General of the army. After joining Marshall Field in the immediate post-war period, he later moved to Sears, Roebuck, eventually becoming president, and finally, in 1939, chairman of the board. Like (progressive Senator Gerald) Nye (of North Dakota), Wood had originally supported some of Roosevelt’s policies, including the AAA, the SEC and Social Security. But he had rebelled against excessive taxation that he believed was undermining capitalism.[22] Other Chicago businessmen, such as meat packers Jay Hormel and Philip Swift, and William J. Grace, head of one of Chicago’s largest investment firms, had never supported the president. All became key Committee members. Colonel Robert J. McCormick, owner of the Chicago Tribune, was the most influential of all. A passionate Roosevelt hater and Anglophobe, his paper became an important disseminator of AFC propaganda.

    Soooo…because Robert Wood, CEO of Sears Roebuck, Jay Hormel, William J. Grace and Robert J. McCormick also opposed entry into World War II, does that make them “unflinchingly devout Soviet patriots” also?

    That’s what happens when you paint with a broad brush, of course – sometimes you splatter people unintentionally (and yeah, I’m aware of that too).

    It’s typically low for Kengor to attack Pete Seeger after the man is dead and can’t defend himself. However, to be fair, I know I take a lot of well-deserved shots at The Sainted Ronnie R and Jesse Helms, for example, and they can’t defend themselves either. Still, though, I think they should be held to a separate standard since they were entrusted to act in the interest of a particular constituency.

    As for Seeger and his world-renowned ability to move people through his craft, I’m sure that, had he pursued a career in public life, he would have enriched himself materially to a greater degree than he did by taking the course he chose.

    28pete-seeger3
    I would argue, though, that Seeger’s gift to all of us, through his music and activism, is greater than any material sum that could ever be amassed by anyone on earth.


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