Friday Mashup (9/6/13)

September 7, 2013

  • I give you the following from the Bucks County Courier Times earlier in the week:

    Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick used the national Republican Weekly Address on Saturday to criticize President Barack Obama’s policies for health care and energy.

    “Nearly five years into the Obama presidency, the workers who drive our economy see nothing but roadblocks coming out of Washington,” Fitzpatrick said in the Labor Day weekend speech.

    The 8th District Republican, who recorded the talk Thursday in Philadelphia, has been critical of Obama’s Affordable Care Act in visits to several area chambers of commerce in recent months.

    No word on whether or not Mikey the Beloved has spoken to actual non-Chamber of Commerce residents of PA-08 for their feedback on the Affordable Care Act, by the way (I’ll address his comment about the ACA and the alleged increase in premiums shortly…and in the matter of the Keystone XL pipeline which Mikey also supports, I give you the following from here and here).

    I wonder if it’s supposed to be a bit of a backhanded compliment to Mikey that he was asked to give the Repug response to Obama’s weekly address on what probably is the day when people are least likely to pay attention to it because it’s the last unofficial weekend of summer (and by the way, to respond to “roadblock Mikey” properly, click here).

  • And keeping with the theme of the health care law, I give you the following from here (looks like The Weakly Standard needs a copy editor)…

    A local report from Green Bay, Wisconsin says that health care premiuns (sic) could increase up to 125 percent because of Obamacare:

    Half a million Wisconsinites will soon have to open up their pocket books for health care coverage,” says a local anchor. “And new estimates show, it may be costly. … The state’s office of the commissioner of insurance released estimates of how premium rates for individuals will be changing under the Affordable Care Act.”

    In response, I give you the following from here

    (A Rand Corporation) Analysis suggests that comparisons of average premiums with and without the Affordable Care Act may overstate the potential for premium increases. Sweeping statements about the effects of the Affordable Care Act on premiums should be interpreted very carefully because the law has complex effects that differ depending on individuals’ age and smoking status, the actuarial value of the plan chose, individuals” eligibility for federal tax credits, and state implementation decisions. Once we adjust for age, actuarial value, and tobacco use, nongroup premiums are estimated to remain unchanged at the national level and in many states. Further, after accounting for tax credits, average out-of-pocket premium spending in the nongroup market is estimated to decline or remain unchanged in all states considered and in in the nation overall. [RAND Corporation, Accessed 9/4/13]

    In addition, this may be the most definitive post I’ve seen yet on supposed rate increases under HCR (with further “food for thought” here).

  • Next, I know I’m a little late with this Labor Day-related commentary also based on this from The Philadelphia Inquirer, but here it is anyway…

    Organized labor is so powerful in Philadelphia that people in this town might not realize unions are in real trouble nationally. Labor Day is a good time to reflect on that reality.

    Just a few days ago, union picketers made the local TV news by blasting the amplified sound of a baby’s recorded cries during daily protests of nonunion work at a hotel, disturbing guests and a Center City neighborhood. Weeks earlier, a strike at the Pennsylvania Convention Center threatened a major convention.

    Meanwhile, the political clout of labor leaders such as electricians boss John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty can be calculated by the number of Philadelphia officials who all but genuflect in the presence of a man who controls a significant source of campaign contributions.

    Far be it for me to leap to the defense of “Johnny Doc,” but to say that the Inky is “painting with a broad brush” here is an understatement (a bit surprised that the Inky didn’t also blame the Teamsters for blowing up the inflatable rat that they often do in an effort to shame companies that hire non-union workers; as far as I’m concerned, that’s free speech and I have no problem with it).

    I would only point out once more the contributions of the union movement to workers of all sectors of our economy, some of which are noted here. And I would say that the video noted here shows pretty well that the decline in union membership and the rise of income inequality pretty much go hand in hand.

    The Inquirer points out that the downward trend in union membership began in 1983, which is two years after perhaps the most catastrophic anti-union event perpetrated by our government, and that was the firing of the air traffic controllers as part of the showdown with PATCO (their union at the time) by The Sainted Ronnie R, as noted here, the reverberations of which we are still feeling today.

  • Continuing, I give you some genuine hilarity from Erick (“Son of Erick”) Erickson of Fix Noise here, in response to Number 44 on Syria…

    George W. Bush, getting congressional approval for military operations seven days after the September 11th attack was not bending the arc of history, but John Harwood will probably spend the next week of reporting telling us all exactly how arc bending Barack Obama is.

    Sooo…is “Son of Erick” actually beating on John Harwood for supposedly carrying the water, as they say, of President Obama? And not doing the same for Former President Nutball? Really???

    As noted here, Harwood said the following about Number 43…

    …the 9/11 attacks gave (Bush) enough standing eventually to take the nation to war against Iraq.

    Oh, and as noted here, Harwood also once criticized Obama when Number 44 decided to “move…out from behind speechmaking lecterns.” And as far as Harwood supposedly sucking up to Obama goes, I also give you this.

    And is Erickson referring to the same Harwood who once claimed that Dubya was “doggedly advancing conservative goals on taxes and national security” here? Oh, but according to “Son of Erick,” Harwood should have claimed that Dubya was “bending the arc of history,” or something.

    And as we know, Erickson is always a model for prudence and discretion in his “reporting” of the news stories that touch our lives on a daily basis. Right?

    Gosh, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear Erickson is taking hallucinogenic drugs (and no, I won’t stop linking to that until Harwood apologizes, something I’m sure he’ll never do).

  • Further, I give you the following from former Repug U.S. House Rep Pete Hoekstra, also on the Syria crisis (here)…

    Why did partisanship disrupt our foreign policy unity? Was it due to political opportunism or genuine policy differences?

    We may never know.

    Actually, I think we know right now – as noted here, Hoekstra and Former PA Senator Man-On-Dog tried to circulate a discredited claim about Saddam Hussein’s WMD. Also, as noted here, Hoekstra opined in April 2009 that the reaction of the Obama Administration to the ”enhanced interrogation” methods of our prior ruling cabal “are demonstrating how little President Barack Obama and some Democratic members of Congress understand the dire threats to our nation,” which was particularly stupid on Hoekstra’s part because all Obama wanted to do basically was to “turn the page.”

    (By the way, the same prior post from yours truly notes the truly wretched “sock puppetry” of Hoekstra in the matter of feeding the bogus claim to Time’s Joe Klein that the version of the FISA bill from the Democrats required warrants for every foreign terrorist’s call and that the bill thus gave the same rights to foreign terrorists as American citizens…yes, the Dems eventually caved on FISA, to their shame, but that doesn’t make the Hoekstra/Klein episode any less galling.)

    As noted here, Rachel Maddow basically said that everyone from Bushco should just go away when it comes to opining on Syria, since they were so catastrophically wrong on Iraq (I would argue that that extends to all other foreign policy issues also). Based on this bit of wankery from Hoekstra, I think that goes for him too.

  • Finally, I should note that BP ran a full-page ad in the Murdoch Street Journal on Thursday with quotes from Tom Donahue of the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers whining about how BP has already paid $10 billion in damages and blaming those dastardly trial lawyers once again – typical.

    In response, I give you the following:

  • This tells us a bit about the lawsuits currently pending against BP, including Florida joining a four-state suit.
  • This tells us that, maybe and just perhaps, the reason why those dastardly trial lawyers are involved is because BP is suing the EPA (so I guess the government isn’t entitled to represent itself?).
  • This basically tells us that accusing settlement victims of “taking money they don’t deserve” isn’t exactly going to “win hearts and minds” either (and the Journal ad cites the “U.S.” Chamber, but doesn’t note that BP is a member).
  • This tells us that the gulf oil spill’s settlement administrator has said that BP’s claims of fraud are “spurious” and “unfounded.”
  • Oh, and by the way, BP wants to “halt the Deepwater Horizon claims process” altogether, as noted here.


    That makes them the scum of the earth as far as I’m concerned.


  • Spy The Beloved Country – 2013 Edition

    June 19, 2013


    Still catching up on some stuff a bit – the following appeared last week in the Murdoch Street Journal (here)…

    Once again, the tanks-have-rolled left and the black-helicopters right have joined together in howls of protest. They were set off by last week’s revelations that the U.S. government has been collecting data that disclose the fact, but not the content, of electronic communications within the country, as well as some content data outside the U.S. that does not focus on American citizens. Once again, the outrage of the left-right coalition is misdirected.

    Libertarian Republicans and liberal—progressive, if you prefer—Democrats see the specter of George Orwell’s “1984” in what they claim is pervasive and unlawful government spying. These same groups summoned “1984” in 2001 after passage of the Patriot Act, in 2008 after renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and many times in between and since.

    Oh, by the way, the author of this “trust your leaders,” feel-good pabulum on behalf of the “one percent” is Michael Mukasey, former Bushco attorney general. And for Mukasey to blame liberals for invoking “1984” is darkly humorous when you consider that he once said the following from here

    “I think one would have to concede that the USA Patriot Act has an awkward, even Orwellian, name, which is one of those Washington acronyms derived by calling the law ‘Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Interrupt and Obstruct Terrorism.’ You get the impression they started with the acronym first, and then offered a $50 savings bond to whoever could come up with a name to fit. Without offering my view on any case or controversy, current or future, I think that that awkward name may very well be the worst thing about the statute.”

    (The end of this post contains a link to a prior post from yours truly where Mukasey definitely supports the Patriot Act, by the way.)

    Continuing…

    Regrettably, those best positioned to defend such surveillance programs are least likely to do so out of obvious security concerns. Without getting into detail here, intelligence agencies, with court authorization, have been collecting data in an effort that is neither pervasive nor unlawful. As to the data culled within the U.S., the purpose is to permit analysts to map relationships between and among Islamist fanatics.

    For example, it would be helpful to know who communicated with the Tsarnaev brothers, who those people were in touch with, and whether there are overlapping circles that would reveal others bent on killing and maiming Americans—sort of a terrorist Venn diagram. Once these relationships are disclosed, information can be developed that would allow a court to give permission to monitor the content of communications.

    In response, this tells us the following (#2 on the list)…

    NSA Deputy Director John Inglis said that 22 NSA officials are authorized to approve requests to query an agency database that contains the cellphone metadata of American citizens. (Metadata includes the numbers of incoming and outgoing calls, the date and time the calls took place, and their duration.) Deputy AG Cole also said that all queries of this database must be documented and can be subject to audits. Cole also said that the NSA does not have to get separate Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approval for each query; instead, the agency merely has to file a monthly report with the court on how many times the database was queried, and how many of those searches targeted the phone records of Americans.

    This, to me, is another holdover from the rancid Bushco regime. There appears to be, more or less, retroactive judicial review going on here. If the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is going to be notified after surveillance has taken place, what the hell is the point of having “judicial review” at all?

    And yes, I know this utterly awful state of affairs was codified into law by a Democratic congress in 2008, one of the most cowardly acts I have ever seen.

    Continuing…

    As to monitoring content abroad, the utility is obvious. At least one conspiracy—headed by Najibullah Zazi and intended to maim and kill New York City subway riders—was disclosed through such monitoring and headed off. Zazi, arrested in 2009, pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

    An opposing point of view on that claim is here, by the way.

    Continuing…

    Because intelligence does not arrive in orderly chronological ranks, and getting useful data is an incremental process that often requires matching information gathered in the past with more current data, storing the information is essential. But, say the critics, information in the hands of “the government” can be misused—just look at the IRS. The IRS, as it happens, has a history of misusing information for political purposes.

    That’s absolutely right, and Mukasey would know, having worked for the administration that was responsible for this.

    Continuing…

    To be sure, there have been transgressions within intelligence agencies, but these have involved the pursuit of an intelligence mission, not a political objective.

    Not according to William Binney, former head of the National Security Agency’s global digital data gathering program (here), noted from here.

    Continuing…

    Consider also that in a post-9/11 world all of those agencies live in dread of a similar attack. That ghastly prospect itself provides incentive for analysts to focus on the intelligence task at hand and not on political or recreational use of information.

    Translated from Mukasey: Don’t question the NSA spying program, or else the terrorists have already won.

    Continuing…

    Some wallow in the idea that they are being watched, their civil liberties endangered, simply because a handful of electrons they generated were among the vast billions being reviewed in a high-stakes antiterrorism effort. Of course, many are motivated politically or ideologically to oppose robust intelligence-gathering aimed at fending off Islamist terrorism. Criticism from that quarter can be left to lie where it fell.

    Speaking of “endangered civil liberties” (from the Source Watch post noted above)…

    As a judge, in October 2001 Mukasey “dismissed concerns by a 21-year old Jordanian immigrant that he had been beaten while in U.S. custody, leaving bruises that were hidden beneath his orange prison jumpsuit.”[9] “‘As far as the claim that he was beaten, I will tell you that he looks fine to me,’ said Judge Mukasey.”[10]

    Continuing…

    Nor do these programs violate the law. Start with the Constitution. The applicable provisions lie in two clauses in the Fourth Amendment. The first bars “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The second provides that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause” established by affidavit, and it requires that warrants describe with particularity what or who is to be seized, and from where.

    Notice that the first clause does not forbid warrantless searches, only unreasonable ones.

    Wow, talk about some legalese hair-splitting! In Mukasey’s legally compromised (IMHO) worldview, a “warrantless” search actually isn’t “unreasonable.”

    Continuing…

    And the second simply creates a warrant requirement that is read, with some exceptions, to bar evidence at trial if it is obtained without a valid warrant. The first clause has been read to protect the content of communications in which the speaker has a reasonable expectation of privacy—telephone conversations being an obvious example. It does not protect the fact of communications.

    As far as the “fact” of communications is concerned (here)…

    The National Security Agency has at times mistakenly intercepted the private email messages and phone calls of Americans who had no link to terrorism, requiring Justice Department officials to report the errors to a secret national security court and destroy the data, according to two former U.S. intelligence officials.

    At least some of the phone calls and emails were pulled from among the hundreds of millions stored by telecommunications companies as part of an NSA surveillance program. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, Thursday night publicly acknowledged what he called “a sensitive intelligence collection program” after its existence was disclosed by the Guardian newspaper.

    Yes, it’s commendable that the mistaken intercepts were reported and the data destroyed (or so the story says), but suppose that didn’t happen? Suppose that, in the data mining process, it was falsely recorded that yours truly called an overseas number to book some travel arrangement (not likely, I’ll admit), but the phone number was transposed by accident, and instead, it was interpreted that I called someone with links to the Muslim Brotherhood instead? What about the “fact” of that communication?

    There’s other stuff I could get into on what Mukasey said, but I think this sums things up. To me, the real takeaway comes from here (turning to Mother Jones once again)…

    The problem is that this kind of indefinite data collection makes abuse far more likely in the future. Someday there will be a different president in the White House, there will be a different head of NSA, and there will be different professionals running the program. What will they do with all that data the next time something happens that makes America crazy for a few years? I don’t know, but I do know that if they don’t have the data in the first place they can’t abuse it.

    the future is what we should be talking about. Even if NSA’s programs haven’t been abused yet, that doesn’t mean they’re okay. Likewise, even if they haven’t produced any great benefits yet, that doesn’t mean they’re stupid and useless. It’s the future that matters.

    Oh, and as long as we’re talking about Mukasey, let’s not forget this little episode, where Dem Congressman Jim Moran said that anyone opposing a civilian trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed was “un-American” (worse), but Mukasey responded by saying that Moran should seek counseling from Maj. Nidal Hassan (worst!) – also, here is the link to the post on the Patriot Act I noted above, pointing out that Mukasey supported Section 215 of the Act, which basically invalidates the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.

    Despite the whole “nothing to see here, move along” narrative Mukasey is trying to inflict here, I should note that this tells us that a majority of those polled want those knuckleheads in Congress (and I’m thinking mainly, but not totally, of the House when I say that) to do their jobs and hold hearings on the whole surveillance issue (which should have taken place during Bushco, but better late than never I know…and I know doing that in the House is problematic because of the likely Repug grandstanding, but it still needs to happen). I mean, I think that would be the prudent thing to do so if, say, one day, I’m driving to work and I see or hear a drone flying overhead, at least I’ll have some idea of who sent it there and what’s going on with the damn thing (and hopefully that explanation will be the truth).

    The people of this country want answers on this issue in particular. And they deserve them, including me.


    Thursday Mashup (4/11/13) (updates)

    April 11, 2013

  • I don’t really have much to say here, but credit where it’s due to PA-31 U.S. House Rep Steve Santarsiero for introducing legislation mandating universal background checks for gun purchases in our beloved commonwealth, specifically long guns purchased at private sales (the Inquirer story more or less leads us to believe that those were the only guns that were previously exempt; also, sales between family members without a background check would apparently still be allowed – not completely happy with that, but for the time being, I’ll settle for three-quarters of the proverbial loaf…kudos to Steve – to find out more, including a petition to regulate drilling in the Marcellus Shale, click here).

    Also, I should note that Pat Toomey embodies just about everything I can’t stand in politics, and it remains an utter abomination that he defeated Joe Sestak in the campaign for Arlen Specter’s old seat in 2010. However, I would be remiss not to note his rather shocking cooperation with Dem Senator Joe Manchin on universal background checks (here) – I never thought I’d find myself giving Toomey credit for anything, but he deserves it here (though, of course, being a political animal, he knows the polling numbers on this issue, noted here and here, as well as anybody).

    I will be curious to see how “No Corporate Tax” Pat ends up re-burnishing his wingnut bona fides to work himself back into the good graces of the “American Illiterati,” as John Fugelsang so hilariously puts it, as a result of his good conduct on this issue.

    Update 1 4/16/13: So “We snookered the other side. They haven’t figured it out yet,” according to this insect named Alan Gottleib, huh (here)? Why am I not surprised?

    So Toomey-Manchin makes it a federal crime to set up a national gun registry? Because the wingnuts continue to live under this delusion that Obama is coming for their guns?

    Then ‘can the whole damn thing and try doing it right next time.

    Update 2 4/16/13: Where Crazy Tom Coburn goes, trouble surely follows (here) – just sh*tcan the whole damn thing and start over…better to have no deal than a rotten one.

  • And sticking with the subject of guns for a moment, Rich Lowry inflicts the following here (and why exactly is “America’s Fish Wrap” giving this clown a megaphone…oh, right – it’s more corporate media “balance”)…

    It is true that 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks. Who can be against background checks? Heck, even the NRA wants states to keep more complete records of who is forbidden from purchasing guns.

    Notice the meely-mouthed wording from Lowry here? He could just say “Heck, even the NRA supports universal background checks.”

    Of course, he doesn’t say that because he knows he would be utterly wrong (and as pointed out here, Lowry would still be wrong on the supposed issue of the NRA wanting to keep more complete records of who isn’t allowed to own a gun – how can states possibly do that when the NRA works as hard as they do to erode the gun laws we already have? And the linked story tells us once more that 90 percent of those polled, as well as 85 percent of NRA members, want universal background checks…and that includes Colorado, where James Holmes shot up his victims at the Aurora movie theater playing “The Dark Knight Rises,” as noted here).

    And oh yeah, did you know that the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre supported universal background checks in 1999, as noted here?

    Another thing…Lowry complains that President Obama supposedly “used children as props” in an effort to enact sane guns laws in this country.

    nra-ad1-228x300
    Yeah, don’t you hate that?

  • Next, Alex Nowrasteh propagandized as follows as The Daily Tucker recently (here)…

    H-1Bs are a bellwether for the economy. As growth picks up, so do filings for H-1B applications. As unemployment skyrockets, filings for H-1B applications plummet. The high demand for these visas this year is a good omen for the economy, and hopefully for immigration reform efforts as well. Highly skilled immigrants are generally considered the “sugar” in any immigration reform efforts — they are used to “sweeten” the other controversial elements like legalization.

    After all, highly skilled immigrants tend to speak English, and there’s little fear of them abusing welfare or committing crimes. Their children typically excel at school , are economically successful, and are more culturally integrated than their parents.

    Don’t you just love Nowrasteh’s disgusting inference that non H-1B workers are more likely to be “abusing welfare” and “committing crimes”?

    Meanwhile, this Boston Globe story tells us the following…

    ON JAN. 14, 2010, senior executives at Molina Healthcare in Long Beach, Calif., called their staff together for a somber meeting. The company had done poorly the previous quarter, they announced. Dozens of people in the IT department would have to be let go.

    What the fired employees didn’t know was that the previous day, the US Department of Labor had approved applications for 40 temporary workers from India to be placed at Molina, through a company called Cognizant.

    The fired employees — all US citizens or green card holders — were earning an average of $75,000 a year, plus benefits; the new workers, brought on H-1B visas, earned $50,000, with no benefits, according to a lawsuit filed by the ex-employees. The lawsuit alleges that Molina was flush with cash at the time, and that the real reason employees were fired was their nationality.

    The business model is to replace Americans,” said James Otto, their attorney.

    Not just at Molina, he said. “It’s happening across the country.”

    I’m not even sure why this is considered to be news any more by now, but if nothing else, it needs to be pointed out in response to the disgusting pabulum of Nowrasteh and others.

    And in a similar vein, I give you this

    Brookings interviewed numerous corporations for that study. The report stirred up a storm with such statements as “employers have a difficult time recruiting residents with the skills they need, largely blaming the weak foundation of secondary education in the United States…employers complain that there is a shortage of skilled workers…[some employers] mentioned that they must recruit at over 50 college campuses in the United States to find 100 [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] employees.”

    #Gene Nelson of San Luis Obispo, a PhD in radiation biophysics and an opponent of H-1B, calls the Brookings study “pathetic baloney.” He and fellow anti-H-1B activists make a good case that the program is basically a scheme to lower the overall wage level in the engineering/computer profession, thus jacking up corporate profits and paving the way for absurdly high top-management pay.

    And as noted in the video from here, an entire cottage industry has evolved of firms instructing potential employers how to run ads in order not to hire American workers and go the H-1B route instead (“gosh, well…you see, we just didn’t have a choice…all those baad American workers were busy collecting welfare and committing crimes…”).

    It would be nice to see one of these corporate bastards convicted of some type of malfeasance over this stuff, then get put out of business with each member of the management team sentenced to 20 years of hard labor on a rock pile.

    And let’s see now, Alex Nowrasteh, Alex Nowrasteh…why does that name sound familiar?

    Oh yeah, I remember now! He’s the son of Cyrus Nowrasteh, the propagandizing tool behind that “Path to 9/11” monstrosity that was posted about here and here (the wingnut apple doesn’t rot far from the tree, now does it?).

    (The late, great blog Outsourced America used to be all over this stuff – sigh.)

  • Continuing, it looks like we’ll have to deal with another crappy example of Repug non-governance (here)…

    This week House Republicans will introduce the misleadingly titled “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013.” Touted by Republicans as a new comp time initiative that will give hourly-paid workers the flexibility to meet family responsibilities, it is neither new nor about giving these workers much needed time off to care for their families. The bill rehashes legislation Republicans passed in the House in 1997, some 16 years ago, and that they introduced again in most subsequent Congresses. Its major effect would be to hamstring workers – likely increasing overtime hours for those who don’t want them and cutting pay for those who do.

    Oh, but don’t you see? The Repugs are all about “choice.” As in, so-called “exempt” workers (who can’t collect overtime) have a choice now to work the hours denied to “non-exempt” employees who could collect the overtime before, but now cannot, since the exempt employees will do the work for them and the employers will pocket the difference in the way of bonuses for themselves. Witness our glorious free market enterprise system at work!

    And what if the “non-exempt” employee wants the money instead of the hours, and/or the “exempt” employee chooses not to do more work for free?

    unemployment-line_000
    Does this picture mean anything to any of us? Sure it does (especially after reading Alex Nowrasteh extolling the supposed virtues of H-1B workers, right?).

    And by the way, I want to emphasize that I’m not criticizing the author of this Hill column, who is Eileen Appelbaum, Senior Economist, Center for Economic and Policy Research (kudos to her for this, actually).

    So who is responsible for this latest legislative fraud? Why, that would be U.S. House Repug Martha Roby of Alabama (with the “blessing” of that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor, of course), as noted here.

    And as also noted here, it looks like Roby is a tool (“tool-ette”?) of the banksters, and yes, she supported Paul Ryan’s budget big time (here), and here is more of that “get big gumint out of the private sector, because Freedom!” stuff from Roby and the rest of her ilk.

    This latest bit of smoke and mirrors from the ruling clown show in the U.S. House will do nothing to address some of the iniquities faced by workers in this country as noted here (yes, I know the Forbes story is from November 2009, but based on my Google searching on this stuff, I haven’t found any improvements, sad to say).

    Update 5/8/13: And it looks like Roby is at it again (here).

  • Further, Jake Tapper decided to placate the other side over the latest bit of faux indignation (here)…

    On his CNN program Monday afternoon, Jake Tapper took a moment to look at the “buried lead” that is Fox News reporter Jana Winter facing jail time for refusing to out her confidential sources in a Colorado case. “Where is the public outrage?” Tapper asked his audience.

    In July 2012, during a “huge scoop,” Winter cited anonymous law enforcement sources when reporting that Aurora, Colo., theater shooter James Holmes had once given his psychiatrist a notebook detailing his plans for a killing spree. Tapper wrote on his CNN blog that her reporting on the story revealed how “the system failed” the victims, and that her scoop allowed the “public to judge how well the judicial, and mental health, and other systems are working.”

    “Instead of a focus on how the system failed, we’re talking about whether Winter should go to jail for reporting on Holmes’s journal, which was found in a mail room after the attack,” Tapper lamented.

    And so, Tapper wanted to know, “where’s the public outrage?

    Please…

    To begin, this stuff has been going on for years (as noted here), wrong as it is I’ll admit, but I didn’t hear anyone from Fix Noise or their fellow travelers complaining out loud when it involved the New York Times, the Washington Post, the AP, et cetera, et cetera.

    However, as noted here (with the headline asking a very good question), “By acquiring the notebook, however, it was clear that Winter had been in contact with an individual who violated the gag order imposed on anyone with information about the ongoing Holmes trial.”

    Here is my question – where is Winter’s editor in this fiasco? Does she even have one?

    It should also be noted that, on the subject of reporters and leaking or withholding information, Tapper has no grounds to criticize anybody. As noted here and here, he misrepresented the position of our prior ruling cabal on the issue of firing anyone who had anything to do with leaking the identity of Valerie Plame; Tapper said that Bushco would only fire someone who had broken the law – Plame’s husband, diplomat Joe Wilson, pointed out that the administration’s former PR flak Scott McClellan said they would fire anyone involved in the leak whether they’d broken the law or not (and as you’ll recall, Karl Rove, just about named by Time reporter Matthew Cooper, was allowed to leave on his own terms).

    I’ll admit that there’s room to question both the behavior of Winter and the judge here. However, you can’t go against a court ruling on revealing information that could be prejudicial to a trial (and by the way, you’d better believe that Holmes’s lawyers are concocting some way to try and get a potential guilty verdict overturned on grounds of a mistrial over this). And please spare me the wailing and gnashing of teeth…”oh, that baad mainstream media won’t cover this First Amendment catastrophe because it involves Fox.”

  • Finally, it’s time to turn to South Carolina U.S. Senator Huckleberry Graham (here).

    As we know, President Obama submitted his budget to Congress, which included the horrendous formula known as “Chained C.P.I.” as part of calculating Social Security benefits (opposed by 2.3 million people, as noted here).

    Of course, being a Repug, Graham just loves anything that sticks it to the “99 percent.” So how did he communicate what he thought of the budget?

    “The president is showing a bit of leg here,” Graham said.

    Now, if you’re of a certain age (and I am, which I’m a bit loathe to admit at times), one of the first images that comes into your mind when you hear that expression is that of actress Claudette Colbert in the movie “It Happened One Night” raising the hem of her dress to reveal a bit of leg, as it were, while trying to hitch hike, in an effort to get a car to slow down and look at her and offer a ride (the joke that works rather well in the movie is that her co-star Clark Gable first tried the more traditional means of sticking out his thumb, which obviously failed).

    I don’t suppose that Graham knows this, though his handlers obviously do, including the Repug Party marketers and image makers who are compensated handsomely for trying to pull the proverbial wool over our eyes on a 24/7/365 basis.

    My point (finally) is that, as opposed to saying, “We agree with some of what the president is proposing, but we want a closer look before we commit to anything” or similar language, Graham attempts to almost feminize Obama here, and thus, further trying to disrespect and delegitimize him (can you imagine the outcry if, say, Al Franken had said that about Dubya?).

    After all, you can’t truly be a Repug unless you’re shamelessly demagoguing your enemies and accusing them of the same tactics you’re practicing yourself, can you?

    Of course, Graham really doesn’t have any room to raise gender-bending talking points about anyone when you consider this…does he?


  • Thursday Mashup (1/24/13)

    January 24, 2013

  • The Bucks County Courier Times decided to give column space to Mikey the Beloved recently; I’m sure you can guess what happened next (here).

    He leads off as follows…

    Each morning, like so many parents across Bucks and Montgomery counties, when I drive my children to school and drop them off, I expect them to spend their day in a safe environment where their biggest concern is a test they have that day.

    OK, we have a problem right away…

    As a member of the U.S. Congress, Mikey spends most of his time during business hours in Washington, D.C. Does he honestly expect us to believe that he is also dropping off his kids each morning also? What, does he have some kind of private air transportation that takes him from Bucks County to the Capitol each morning too?

    Mikey then fills us this column almost entirely with platitudes and self-referential nonsense, as well as stuff he could have easily lifted from other news accounts, before he gets to the following…

    I am focused on effective responses. I am currently working on legislation to strengthen the national background check system and close the loopholes to ensure that dangerous people will not be able to purchase any firearm in any state.

    In addition to the legislation I am currently working to introduce, I have expressed my willingness to examine the president’s proposals and work with him on achieving common-sense reforms that will truly make our communities safer.

    As usual, Mikey is desperately short on specifics, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, for now.

    However, he also tells us the following…

    The president’s solution is to ban every citizen from being able to purchase some guns. I believe a more effective approach will be to ban some citizens from being able to purchase any guns. A study by our own University of Pennsylvania commissioned by the United States Department of Justice, the same type of study President Obama has vowed to fund, has concluded that the firearm controls of the 1990s were not effective.

    I can’t find the study Fitzpatrick is referring to – I’m not alleging that he’s lying, I’m just saying I can’t find it (would have been nice if it had been linked to the Courier Times column, but as I’ve pointed out, we’re talking about the fourth estate freak show here). I couldn’t find the study at Fitzpatrick’s U.S. House web site either.

    I will cede Mikey’s point a bit by saying that it has been hard to quantify the benefits of the 1994 ban (pointed out by David Corn here), but I will say that there is a body of evidence out there that at least can raise some questions one way or the other, as noted here (besides, as noted here, one reason why we don’t have the most reliable data on this is because the NRA fights our efforts to obtain it…nothing but the sound of crickets from Mikey on that one).

    And as far as I’m concerned, the “takeaway” from this is the graph of “Guns per 100 people” in various countries, with a lot of other give-and-take stuff, but to me, what matters is just how many guns there are in this country per citizen, which definitely doesn’t make me happy (“U-S-A! U-S-A!”).

    Yep, this is pretty much nothing but another piece of PR fluff from Mikey’s press service. No doubt he’ll be back with more in about a month or so, so stay tuned.

  • Next, I give you the following from what purports to be an actual news story (here)…

    Obama secured a $787 billion stimulus package, an auto-industry bailout, new Wall Street regulations and health-care legislation that, for the first time, promised insurance coverage for nearly all Americans.

    But the political cost of moving that agenda was steep. The partisanship he had pledged to end only deepened, and many of the independent voters decisive in his election abandoned him.

    In his news conference last week, Obama blamed his reputation for aloofness in Washington on the partisan divide he once pledged to mend.

    Republicans, he said, believe it is politically dangerous to be seen with him given the antipathy many in their deep-red districts feel toward him.

    Even his supporters say he should attempt to change that, using those Republicans who supported the final fiscal cliff deal as an initial call sheet that could also include GOP governors and business leaders and others who may offer help.

    …many supporters say Obama, preoccupied with reelection, has withdrawn from the world over the past year at a dangerous time and must step back in quickly.

    Are you starting to smell the same journalistic trick that I do here, people? Lots of anonymous attribution in support of utterly wankerific talking points?

    It’s Obama’s fault that he failed to “end…partisanship” (as if anyone could do that in Washington, D.C.).

    It’s Obama’s fault that he has a “reputation for aloofness” to the point where Republicans “believe it is politically dangerous to be seen with him,” which “even his supporters” say he should “change” (as if Obama is supposed to be concerned about how his governance affects the electability of Republicans).

    It’s Obama’s fault that “many supporters say” he has “withdrawn from the world” (which, to me, is a pretty serious insinuation that he lacks the capacity for governance, which is not just wrong, but calumnious).

    The author of this steaming pile of dookey, by the way, is Scott Wilson (and of course, since we’re talking about the WaPo as part of Corporate Media Central, the Repugs aren’t criticized at all for their antics… there’s a reminder later that Obama was a community organizer, which is true. He was also a U.S. Senator, which doesn’t get mentioned nearly as much as it should).

    And as it turns out, Wilson is a serial offender – here, he took a quote and turned it inside out to give the impression that Obama doesn’t like people (please), and here, he definitely sanitized the wingnuttery also.

    And as noted here

    Additionally, in a May 6 Washington Post article, staff writers Scott Wilson and Robert Barnes wrote that “[a]s White House press secretary Robert Gibbs put it, Obama is looking for ‘somebody who understands how being a judge affects Americans’ everyday lives.’ Congressional conservatives have reacted anxiously to that qualification, fearing that it means a nominee who is more interested in making the law than in interpreting it.” But the Post did not note Obama’s statements indicating that he supports a nominee who “honors our constitutional traditions” and “respects … the appropriate limits of the judicial role.”

    Looks like Wilson and his pals at the Post (and elsewhere) try to provide the openings in the “mainstream” reporting that the wingnuts can enlarge exponentially to propagate their right-wing BS (just thought I should point that out, that’s all).

  • Continuing, it looks like “Blow ‘Em Up” Bolton is at it again (here)…

    The US and Western response to date has been disjointed and with decidedly mixed results. If President Obama doesn’t soon jettison his ideological blinders about the threat of international terrorism, we could see a series of further attacks — not unlike the 1990s series that culminated in the 9/11 strikes.

    It’s typically disingenuous and cowardly (to say nothing of inaccurate) for Bolton to assume some linkage between the Clinton Administration and the ruinous one that followed on the 9/11 attacks…perhaps in terms of facing a threat from the same foe, but that’s all (and speaking of the Clintons, I’m sure there’s no apology in sight from Bolton for this).

    Oh, and while arguing that Obama is allegedly soft on al Qaeda, or something (pretty funny when you consider who got bin Laden in comparison with Bolton’s former boss), Bolton also downplayed the fact that Obama got Anwar al-Awlaki (yes, it’s a slippery slope since Awlaki was an American citizen, but it’s typically preposterous for Bolton to argue that Obama is supposedly soft on al Qaeda and omit this… also particularly disingenuous since Bolton gave Obama credit for it here – of course, Bolton contorted himself to try and find a way to give Dubya props too).

    Here is more on Bolton, including the targets he wanted to go after following Dubya’s pre-emptive war in Iraq (as I once said about Charles Krauthammer, Bolton is awfully generous with the blood of other people’s kids). Also, Bolton makes it sound like a question as to whether or not the Taliban is really in charge in Afghanistan, even though the headline here says it all about the potential for the Taliban to rule in at least parts of Afghanistan as part of a possibly brokered peace deal (regarding Bolton’s claim that Obama’s policies have led to a Taliban resurgence – I don’t think they’ve had to “resurge,” or something, since they’ve been players all along since Bolton’s boss outsourced the Afghan war to Pakistan in the prior decade).

    We all know what a “true believer” Bolton is, people. I just think we need to remind ourselves of that fact from time to time (and let us not forget that, as noted from the article in The Nation, Bolton would have been in a position to actually create further chaos in the world once more instead of mere propaganda had we – gulp! – sworn in Willard Mitt Romney recently instead of President Obama for a second term).

  • Finally, in a thoroughly logical career progression, this tells us that former Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, allegedly a Democrat, will now become a lobbyist for the insurance industry…

    Nelson is joining a public affairs firm and becoming the chief of an insurance commissioners’ group.

    The former senator has been named CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). He will be the group’s chief spokesman and primary advocate in Washington. NAIC is made up of state insurance regulators and helps coordinate their oversight across the country.

    And for the occasion, I thought I’d bring you a sample of what you might call Ben Nelson’s Greatest Hits…

  • This tell us that Nelson was the only Dem senator to vote against confirming Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
  • Along with Max Baucus, Jon Tester and Mark Warner, he voted to block tax legislation that would have punished U.S. firms that export jobs here.
  • Here, Nelson engaged in typically pointless obstruction that delayed jobless benefits.
  • Nelson also blocked financial reform legislation here.
  • Here, he was offered a job within the Dubya White House in order to step aside so it would be easier for Mike Johanns to get elected instead, which ultimately happened anyway (can’t remember too many Democrats so “graced” by Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History; the story is a response to the alleged job offer from the Obama Administration to “Admiral Joe” Sestak…I honestly don’t remember what that supposed scandal was all about).
  • It should also be pointed out that Nelson actually has a background in insurance, particularly with NAIC, who are guilty of the following as noted here

    The NAIC’s resolution urged Congress and the White House to gut the only real consumer pricer (sp) protection in the Affordable Care Act. That protection, the “medical loss ratio” rule, requires insurers to spend 80% to 85% of their premium income on health care, and limit overhead, commissions and profit to 15% to 20%. The idea is to get insurers to operate more efficiently and cut bloat to keep premiums down. It’s already working–for instance in Connecticut, where regulators report major insurers filing for premium reductions, not increases.

    Such relief will be over if Congress or the White House do what the NAIC asked–to remove broker sales commissions of a few percent up to 20% of the premium from the overhead percentage. Premiums would shoot up, profits would grow and consumers would pay.

    Consumer advocates are counting on the White House and Congress (at least the Senate) to reject the fake arguments and arm-twisting of the industry, and listen to actual consumers.

    Yep, it sounds like the would-be beneficiary of the “cornhusker kickback,” had it ever come to pass in final legislation for the Affordable Care Act, will be right at home.

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh).


  • Monday Mashup (1/21/13)

    January 21, 2013

    murrow_0

  • I give you some recent lessons in journalistic priorities from the Bucks County Courier Times:
  • On today’s front page, the banner headline has to do with the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court, which isn’t even today (the decision was handed down on January 22, 1973). That takes up the most real estate on the page.
  • Slightly below the middle fold is a reference to the fact that today is the observation of the holiday and day of service for The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Way, waaay down in the lower left corner is a wire service article reminded us that, oh yeah, President Obama is being sworn in for a second term today.
  • The banner headline and story on the front page yesterday had to do with a home invasion and killing in Hilltown Township, which of course is tragic and merits front-page treatment. Immediately beneath the story, though, is an article about all the pro-gun rallies on Saturday January 19th, with a picture of a woman taking aim at a target presumably on a firing range (the image and words communicate the impression that what you might call the gun culture is something to be admired…um, if they wanted to communicate that, couldn’t they do it some other way that juxtaposing it with a story about a murder on the front page?).
  • The fourth estate freak show drags on…

    Update 1/22/13: To be fair, I should note that the inauguration got the “full spread” front page treatment today, including a nice pic of the Obamas walking down Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • And I suppose it’s logical, then, to turn to this item from Mikey the Beloved (the story is dated from last April, but this definitely is a familiar refrain)…

    Members of Congress average annual salaries of $174,000 per year, according to the government.

    Taxpayers spend an estimated $111,000 per year on each lawmaker’s fringe benefits, medical coverage and pension.
    But all of that could be put on hold indefinitely, under a bill whose 40-plus co-sponsors were joined last week by Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.

    Fitzpatrick on Wednesday scheduled a media teleconference to urge passage of the proposed No Budget, No Pay Act.

    And the author of this gimmick, IMHO, is House “Democrat” Jim Cooper of Tennessee.

    However, since this Courier Times story comes from someone who is apparently an actual reporter as opposed to Mikey’s stenographer Gary Weckselblatt, we also learn the following…

    The federal government has several proposed budgets. The problem is no one can agree on them.

    In February, President Barack Obama released a proposed budget for fiscal year 2013. Republicans balked at the size of government programs and proposed deficit spending.

    In March, Republicans in Congress released their plan. The White House sharply criticized proposed changes to Medicare, Medicaid and food stamp programs.

    Last (April), U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad signaled that no action was likely on any budgets until after the November election.

    So what could be wrong with Mikey’s “No Budget, No Pay” advocacy? Well, for starters, it could potentially violate the 27th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as noted here.

    As Constitutional law professor Adam Winkler tells us…

    “The answer is unclear because the 27th Amendment has never been authoritatively interpreted by the Supreme Court,” Winkler said in an email. “Yet it seems almost certainly unconstitutional. Withholding pay effectively ‘var[ies] the compensation’ of lawmakers. The amendment doesn’t say only raises in pay are invalid. It refers to ‘varying the compensation.’ Just as a ‘bonus’ would vary lawmakers’ compensation, so does withholding money. This logic applies even if the pay is ultimately delivered to lawmakers. By outlawing ‘varying the compensation,’ the 27th Amendment prohibits laws that change when lawmakers receive pay, not just the amount they receive.”

    I see this whole thing ending up on the docket of Hangin’ Judge JR one of these days, and it’s anybody’s guess what will happen after that; wonder if he’d be in the mood for payback by letting the Repugs be dumb enough to cut their own pay, as well as that of everyone else in Congress, when you consider that Roberts has sparred with Congress (and the White House) over judicial funding, as noted here?.

  • Further, I give you the following absurdity from The Weakly Standard (here)…

    Since becoming the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama has delivered 699 speeches using a Teleprompter, according to statistics compiled by CBS reporter Mark Knoller. That number includes campaign speeches, State of the Union addresses, and everything in between.

    All told, according to Knoller, President Obama has made 1,852 speeches, remarks and comments.

    Obama’s given 35 “speeches in which he referred to Slurpees.” He’s held 58 town halls.

    The president’s gone golfing 113 times, playing 52 times close to the White House at Andrews Air Force Base.

    And Obama’s taken 13 vacations, which all told have spanned 83 days.

    These are the priorities for our corporate media as well as movement conservatism these days, my fellow prisoners: counting the number of times President Obama has gone golfing, how many slurpee references he has made in speeches, and how many times he has used a Teleprompter (And yes, I know “fluff” pieces like this are not unexpected for the inauguration, but let’s hope it doesn’t get any lower than this, OK?).

    And vacation days? Really?

    As noted here

    President Bush spent 32% of his presidency on vacation.

    Bush passed Reagan in total vacation days in 2005 with three and a half years left in his presidency. Reagan spent all or part of 335 days in Santa Barbara over his 8 year presidency. Bush spent 487 days at Camp David during his presidency and 490 days at his Crawford, Texas ranch, a total of 977 days.

    When you add the days President Bush spent at Kennebunkport, Maine, he spent a total of 1,020 days away from the White House — close to 3 years. At 1,020 days, Bush was close to being on vacation more days than President John F. Kennedy’s total days in office (1,036). Representatives at the Nixon and Johnson Libraries indicate those two Presidents were on vacation less than 1,000 days during their terms.

    President Obama has been on vacation (now 83) days from 2009 to (2013). At the three year mark into their first terms, George W. Bush spent 180 days at his ranch in Crawford, Texas and Ronald Reagan spent 112 vacation days at his ranch in California. Of course, staff was around all three Presidents on vacations and all White House aides argue that the commander-in-chief is never “out of touch” with work.

    Sure, Dubya and The Sainted Ronnie R were never “out of touch” with work. Of course not.

    Yes, I know I’ve pointed this out before. Yes, I have no doubt that it will be brought up once more and I’ll have to repeat it again since the shame impulse is nowhere to be found within right-wing media (and when it comes to golf, who can forget this infamous Dubya moment?).

  • Finally (and speaking of the prior Bushco regime and our corporate media), this tells us the following…

    Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has joined CBS News as a contributor — just in time for inauguration coverage.

    Rice, who served as secretary of state during President George W. Bush’s second term, made her debut on the network’s “Face the Nation” program Sunday and will be included in inauguration coverage on Monday.

    CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager and president David Rhodes made the announcement Sunday, saying Rice “will use her insight and vast experience to explore issues facing America at home and abroad.”

    Steve Benen does a good job of reminding us about what kind of a job Rice did on behalf of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, but I think it’s important to recall the following also:

  • Here, she was accused by Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, defendants in an espionage trial, of being complicit while AIPAC allegedly dictated US foreign policy from 1999 until the middle of the last decade at least (the post also links to a Think Progress post where Rice admits that Iraq is “a stain on her legacy” – ya’ think?).
  • Here, she “dressed down” a jewelry store clerk because Madame Rice thought he received less than stellar service (typical for the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch).
  • As noted here, she was in the process of buying designer shoes while Katrina hit (terrible optics, if nothing else).
  • Condi and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met (in March ’08) with some of the Kremlin’s political opposition, but did not meet with its most vocal opponents, notably chess legend Garry Kasparov, as noted here.
  • Here, she gave, at the very least, a willing ear to Henry Kissinger, one of history’s most notorious liars, on the question of allowing troop withdrawals (or even the discussion of that topic) while Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Mesopotamia continued to disintegrate.
  • Rice said here that she had no interest in Mideast diplomacy to maintain “the status quo ante” while she was in the process of doing just that (here).
  • And yes, as alluded to earlier, Rice had a lot of company in her “hoocoodanode” mea culpa about 9/11, possibly her worst foreign policy failure of all (here).
  • It’s probably thoroughly naïve of me to feel compelled to point out that it’s not just any media organization that has agreed to give a pay check and air time to another Bushco accomplice, but the Columbia Broadcasting System (which was once called “the Tiffany Network”). CBS, which once employed the man who spoke the following words:

    If we confuse dissent with disloyalty — if we deny the right of the individual to be wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox…then hundreds of millions…who are shopping about for a new allegiance will conclude that we are concerned to defend a myth and our present privileged status. Every act that denies or limits the freedom of the individual in this country costs us the … confidence of men and women who aspire to that freedom and independence of which we speak and for which our ancestors fought.

    No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.

    American traditions and the American ethic require us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst. To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.

    We cannot make good news out of bad practice.

    We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion — a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply.

    Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live.

    murrow_0
    Even though I’m curious to find out what he would have said, I’m still glad that Edward R. Murrow didn’t live to see any of this.


  • A Remembrance

    September 11, 2010

    Update: Please read this; also, if you possess an American flag, today is a good day to fly or display it.


    Tuesday Mashup (8/3/10)

    August 3, 2010

  • 1) Even the animals are feeling the effects of the wars (here)…

    Gina was a playful 2-year-old German shepherd when she went to Iraq as a highly trained bomb-sniffing dog with the military, conducting door-to-door searches and witnessing all sorts of noisy explosions.

    She returned home to Colorado cowering and fearful. When her handlers tried to take her into a building, she would stiffen her legs and resist. Once inside, she would tuck her tail beneath her body and slink along the floor. She would hide under furniture or in a corner to avoid people.

    A military veterinarian diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder _ a condition that some experts say can afflict dogs just like it does humans.

    “She showed all the symptoms and she had all the signs,” said Master Sgt. Eric Haynes, the kennel master at Peterson Air Force Base. “She was terrified of everybody and it was obviously a condition that led her down that road.”

    A year later, Gina is on the mend. Frequent walks among friendly people and a gradual reintroduction to the noises of military life have begun to overcome her fears, Haynes said.

    Haynes describes her progress as “outstanding.”

    I came across this after reading another spot-on column by Bob Herbert today on Iraq and Afghanistan (describing the effects on humans who are serving and those non-serving who are sick of the wars and want to end them, bring our people home, do our best to try and heal their wounds and fix our country as well).

    And by the way, the VA recently finalized regulations on processing PTSD claims as of July 13th; to learn more about the regs and obtain related information, click here.

  • 2) And in news of the California gubernatorial contest, Repug Meg Whitman is outspending Dem Jerry Brown 86-1 (here).

    And she still trails (here).

  • 3) Also, Joke Line is at it again (here, on the matter of the upcoming congressional elections)…

    The total damage assessment will have to wait until election day. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the Democrats’ losses may fall short of the 1994 wipeout–the loss of the Senate is still a prohibitive longshot. But the House is in jeopardy, especially–as always–its most moderate members. It will be interesting to see if a House composed entirely of radical Republicans and safe-seat liberal troglodytes is any more successful than the current disaster. I suspect not.

    I’d like to introduce Joke to a concept called “reporting,” and by that I mean that he should bother to read the information from this link listing the accomplishments of the 110th Congress, which he, being a scion of villager punditry, considers a “disaster.”

    Has this congress had its share of pratfalls? Yes. However, let’s consider them in light of the good that has been done, outpacing the wretched, Repug-run 109th, shall we?

    Do I actually think Klein will bother to take me up on this, though?

    I suspect not.

  • 4) Finally, this tells us the following…

    Angry relatives of 9/11 victims last night clashed with supporters of a planned mosque near Ground Zero at a raucous community-board hearing in Manhattan.

    After four hours of public debate, members of Community Board 1 finally voted 29-1 in support of the project. Nine members abstained, arguing that they wanted to table the issue and vote at a later date.

    The board has no official say over whether the estimated $100 million mosque and community center gets built. But the panel’s support, or lack of it, is considered important in influencing public opinion.

    Holding up photos of loved ones killed in the Twin Towers and carrying signs such as, “Honor 3,000, 9/11 — No mosque!” opponents of the proposed Cordoba House on Park Place called the plan an insult to the terror-attack victims.

    “That is a burial ground,” said retired FDNY Deputy Chief Al Santora, referring to the fact that victims’ remains were scattered for blocks.

    Santora’s 23-year-old son, Christopher, was the youngest firefighter to die that day.

    “I do have a problem with having a mosque on top of the site where [terrorists] can gloat about what they did,” said Santora, with his wife, Maureen, by his side.

    I’m not taking sides on this one way or the other, but I just wanted to note the following in response.

    This tells us about the Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association, Inc. (SSMA); here is how the group came to be formed as a result of a horrific WWII battle…

    At dawn, on October 14, 1943, in foul weather, the 8th Army Air Force, also known as the Mighty 8th, dispatched 291 B-17 bombers to the town of Schweinfurt Germany, a flight of some 800 miles. Since this city was vital to the ball bearing industry, it was at the top of the list of strategic targets for the allied forces and had already received a first attack on August 17, 1943.

    The bombers were initially protected by friendly fighter escort, which were forced to turn back about half way to the targets. Arriving at the target, the bombers were attacked by an estimated 1,100 enemy fighters firing cannon and large caliber rockets manned by the German Lufwaffenhelfer (LWH) or flak-helpers. The vicious attacks were continued and repulsed until the bombers reached the English Channel on the return flight to England.

    The battle brought great loss to both sided. Sixty heavy bombers and 600 airmen perished. Many lost their lives in the burning, badly damaged, crashed planes. Many became prisoners of war. Fifteen additional aircraft were so damaged they could never fly again. On the ground, 276 people died and countless more were injured. Businesses and homes were razed. Valuable and treasured possessions perished. Consequently, October 14, 1943 – Mission 115, became known as “Black Thursday” in American military history and one of the greatest air battles of World War II.

    Thirty years later some of the survivors from the Mighty 8th, including Colonel Budd Peaslee, S/Sgt. Phillip Taylor and 1st Lt. William Allen, decided to form an organization to commemorate their fallen comrades-in-arms. They called it the Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association, Inc. (SSMA), giving it direct connection to the second air raid on Schweinfurt.

    The story also tells us that…

    “(on) the 50th Anniversary, two Germans, Dr. Helmut Katzenberger and Vomar Wilckens came to the reunion in New Orleans to present to the group information they had on that fateful day. Then in 1996, the SSMA members invited more of their former enemies, including Georg Schaefer, whose grandfather founded one of the “targeted” ball bearing factories, to attend their reunion in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Schaefer, now retired from the Board of Directors of FAG Kuglefischer, had served, along with his classmates, in one of the 8.8 cm Flakbatteries around Schweinfurt. He brought many artifacts from “Black Thursday”. Many of these artifacts are permanently included in the Second Schweinfurt display at the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia.

    It was at this reunion that the Americans suggested erecting a joint memorial remembering this mission. Mr. Schaefer presented this idea to his fellow Luftwafferhelfers, who embraced the idea and June 16, 1998 a German American Memorial was dedicated on a former air raid bunker site in Schweinfurt.”

    It should be noted that, concerning the proposed mosque near the WTC site, a memorial to the victims of the attacks has been proposed, as noted here.

    I’m not saying that the mosque is a good idea at this point. I’m also not saying that the wishes of the friends and families shouldn’t be paramount here (they should).

    All I’m saying is that an earlier generation of combatants was able to put aside its differences to the point where they could construct a memorial honoring the sacrifices made by both sides.

    I’m just saying that it’s possible to do that. That’s all.


  • Top Posts & Pages