Monday Mashup (8/11/14)

August 11, 2014
  • I guess it wasn’t possible to avoid David Horowitz forever (here)…

    Earlier this year, congressman and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan released a proposed budget for 2015. It contains an impressive list of cuts projecting a $5.1 trillion savings over ten years. It is also the height of political stupidity and an example of everything that cripples Republicans in their battles with the left.

    If you are going to make budget cuts, you do it. You don’t telegraph it. Paul Ryan can’t even make budget cuts unless Republicans win the White House and he has just made it harder for them to do it.

    For starters, Ryan’s list of cuts includes the subsidy to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and likely reductions in funding to the Legal Services Corporation. These cuts (and there are many more) may be reasonable from an accounting point of view. Politically, however, what they mean is that the tens of millions of fans of public radio and television will see Ryan and the Republicans as mortal enemies, and so will the poor who benefit from Legal Services, and also their advocates and more importantly all those middle class Americans who have a charitable attitude towards the less fortunate. Republicans should hope that no one hears of Paul Ryan’s plan.

    Of course Republicans will be thrilled by all these proposed cuts. But everyone who understands the importance of fiscal responsibility is probably already a Republican.

    Oh brother – as noted from here

    1981-1989: With full support from congressional Republicans, Reagan begins the worst annual deficits the nation has seen since WWII.

    2001-2009: With full support from congressional Republicans, Bush begins running enormous deficits again as a way of pumping the economy back up from the dot-com crash. Bush hits the accelerator hard enough to double the gross debt that had already been quadrupled during the Reagan-Bush I years. Most of the new annual deficits that add to the debt are due to the Bush Tax Cuts, two wars, and the expansion of government. Bush manages to break the United States for the first time since the Great Depression just as Reagan broke the Soviet Union … by drawing it into military spending that it obviously could not actually afford.

    Also, I know this is “water wet, sky blue” stuff at this point, but this reminds us just how awful Ryan’s budgets truly are; being a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, I’m inclined to lump them all together since they pretty much do the same thing, and that is to stick it to the “47 percent” out there, those dastardly “takers” if you will, and starve the federal government so all it can do is generate tax cuts and military spending (no wonder Horowitz wants those cuts to be put in place without anyone knowing about them first).

    There are lots of other ways to respond to Horowitz, and I guess we can begin by pointing out the following:

  • He accused Media Matters for America of “ignoring the actual facts,” which is truly hilarious given how veracity-challenged Horowitz is (here).
  • He once said here that the Fort Hood killings are the “chickens of the Left” coming home to roost (here).
  • He also said that President Obama sought a “rapprochement with the Islamist regime” of Iran, among other dreck, here (also alleging that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and al Qaeda were allies, when in fact, quite the opposite is true…fifth bullet).
  • In addition, Horowitz cooked up a completely unsubstantiated story about how a college student supposedly failed an exam because he wouldn’t answer a question about why Dubya is a war criminal (I give you The Rude Pundit here, definitely NSFW).
  • In his Daily Tucker screed, Horowitz also says (trafficking in usual violent wingnut imagery) that “Republicans need to punch Democrats in the mouth by using a moral language to describe the atrocities they have committed against minorities and the poor. But they are probably too polite to do so.”

    Actually, inasmuch as those few sane Republicans left have any political smarts at all, they know that the ultra-right fringe as exemplified by Horowitz will drag down their electoral hopes now and always, so they’re trying to distance themselves any way possible (of course, it would be better if they did so for the good of the country they claim to represent, but I guess I’ll take what we can get at this point).

  • Next, I have a bit of an update to some prior Bushco-related posts, as noted from here

    Colombian families whose relatives were massacred by paramilitaries cannot sue the Chiquita Brands fruit company in federal court, the 11th Circuit United States Court of Appeals ruled last week. The victims charged that Chiquita was responsible for the deaths by funding a right-wing paramilitary group.

    A panel of judges decided the victims did not have standing in U.S. court, even though the North Carolina-based banana giant pled guilty to U.S. criminal charges in 2007. The victims were claiming potentially billions of dollars in damages from the company.

    The ruling was a big victory for the banana giant — and for the rights of American companies to finance international terrorism.

    In a general statement sent to ThinkProgress, a Chiquita spokesman said, “Chiquita has long maintained that these cases do not belong in the U.S. courts and that the claims should be dismissed. We are gratified that the U.S. Court of Appeals has now agreed with us.”

    As for the families whose loved ones were murdered, Chiquita says it has “great sympathy for the Colombians who suffered at the hands of these Colombian armed groups” but asserts “the responsibility for the violent crimes committed in that country belongs to the perpetrators, not the innocent people and companies they extorted.”

    As Think Progress tells us, “Chiquita made at least 100 payments — $1.7 million in total — to the United Auto-Defense Forces of Colombia (or AUC, a paramilitary group responsible for the most heinous human rights atrocities committed over the course of Colombia’s 50-year armed conflict) between 1997 and 2004. In the decade prior to that, the company had maintained a similar arrangement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the nominally leftist rebel group chased out of the region by the combined (and coordinated) efforts of the AUC and Colombian military.”

    Also…

    Between 1997 and 2004, 3,778 people were murdered in Uraba, with an additional 60,000 forced into what is now the second-largest internally displaced population in the world. Between 1991 and 2006, 668 unionists were killed from the main banana-workers union alone, according to the National Union School.

    If the testimony of several former high-level paramilitaries can be believed, Chiquita played an integral role in the formation of Uraba’s so-called Quintuple Alliance, a sprawling conspiracy made up of politicians and public servants, large landowners and business interests, military officials, paramilitaries, and narcotraffickers. This would at least partly explain why, in 2001, some 3,400 AK-47 assault rifles sent to the AUC from Nicaraguan trafficking partners were unloaded by a Chiquita subsidiary on a Chiquita dock, the same dock where a company official had recently paid $30,000 in bribe money to Colombian customs officials.

    In its 2007 settlement with the Justice Department, Chiquita assured it never received “any actual security services or actual security equipment in exchange for the [AUC] payments.” Instead, the company says it paid the AUC out of concern for its employees — something it was not generally inclined to express through things like wage increases, favorable labor conditions, or a pesticide-free work environment, according to former members of the banana-workers union.

    I commented on this some time ago here because former Bushco DHS Head Mike (“City of Louisiana”) Chertoff once knew that Chiquita’s payments to the AUC were illegal, but pretty much “kicked the can” because a friend, Roderick Hills of the Chiquita board, was involved (Hills and Chertoff were law school colleagues). And as noted from here, former Bushco Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez played down anti-labor violence in Colombia.

    And while there has been some halting progress in the area of human rights abuses, Colombia is still a horrifically dangerous country (here); they have a refugee crisis that has led children to our southwest border (here – maybe something that we should remember the next time we hear idiocy such as this). And while I lay a lot of the blame at the feet of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, Number 44 definitely doesn’t get a pass either.

  • Further, NRO’s James Sherk tells us that the Obama NLRB has declared war on the franchise model for corporations, or something (here)…

    Would you like to own a small business someday? If so, sorry — the Service Employees International Union would rather you didn’t. The SEIU has convinced the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to eviscerate the franchising model that many small-business owners rely on.

    Under the current model, these small-business owners pay for the right to use a corporate brand. The franchising corporation researches appealing products. It also does marketing to promote the brand. In return, the local franchisees agree to produce those products to fit certain price and quality specifications. The local franchisee handles all the hiring and employment.

    This division of labor cuts the risks of starting a small business, because the franchisee can focus on running the business without having to develop a market niche from scratch. A franchisee opening a new restaurant, for example, doesn’t need to market a new menu. The corporate brand has already done the work. The franchisor similarly does not have to operate thousands of local restaurants remotely.

    Many businesses, from Burger King to Jiffy Lube to the Hair Cuttery, use franchising. It enables many Americans to run small businesses that would otherwise never get off the ground.

    However, unions hate this business model. They find it much easier to organize big businesses than small ones.

    In response, I give you the following from here

    According to the US Department of Labor, fewer than 2 percent of food service workers are unionized. It shows. Employees…are at a major disadvantage when demanding better pay and working conditions. Average wages in the sector have stagnated at just above the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, for two decades. About 13 percent of fast-food workers have employer-sponsored health benefits, compared with 59 percent of the workforce as a whole. Whether through traditional unions or some other vehicle, one of the quickest ways to improve the lot of most restaurant employees would be for them to band together.

    Larger unions often have trouble making inroads into restaurants because of the small-scale nature of the business, with its mom-and-pop eateries and franchised fast-food outlets. Fortunately, less conventional advocates for workers are filling the gap.

    One promising example is New York-based Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which recently expanded its efforts to Boston. The advocacy group is probably best known for a $5.25 million settlement it helped win against celebrity chef Mario Batali in 2012 after servers at several of Batali’s famed restaurants alleged their employer had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, in part by pocketing gratuities. Beyond its workplace justice campaigns, however, ROC-United offers its 10,000 nationwide members benefits such as free job training and an affordable health plan. In Boston, this work should complement local immigrant worker centers, which already help collect unpaid wages, connect employees to enforcement agencies, and provide multilingual education on workers’ rights.

    And in a case of a restaurant in these parts that took gratuities from the staff that they shouldn’t have, I give you this; a shame because we like the place, but that doesn’t give them the right to break the law.

    So yeah, maybe the NLRB ruling on franchises makes it easier for workers to organize. And the problem is?

    As noted from here

    McDonald’s has even warned some franchisees that they were paying their workers too much.

    If McDonald’s thinks it’s the company’s business to correct when workers are being paid too well, shouldn’t it be held responsibly when they’re not paid enough, or are fired illegally? It seems that the NLRB agrees. McDonald’s is, of course, challenging that.

    Yeah, and Mickey D’s is also “challenging” by firing workers who have tried to organize, as noted here.

    Think Progress continues…

    The justification for targeting McDonald’s corporate is based on a computer system the company installs in its stores to monitor labor costs. “Managers at McDonald’s look at something they call the ‘labor number’ on the computer throughout the day,” said Jason Hughes, who has worked at a McDonald’s location in Fremont, CA, for the past two years. “The labor number is how much the store spends on workers versus how much money the store brings in, and I often hear managers worry that ‘labor is too high,’” Hughes said on a call with reporters Thursday afternoon.

    “I knew I wouldn’t be making a lot of money,” said Hughes, “but I thought that a well-known company like McDonald’s would treat me fairly, or at least follow the law. We brought this lawsuit because neither of those things happened.”

    The use of the “labor number” monitoring computers is crucial to these class-action suits’ effort to hold the corporate center of McDonald’s accountable for wage law violations at its stores. According to attorneys who explained the suits to reporters, those computer systems are installed in franchise and corporate-owned McDonald’s locations alike, and they are systematically used to keep workers in unpaid limbo, which violates federal wage and hour laws. “When that labor cost reaches a certain percentage,” Michigan attorney Ed James said, “the franchisees take people off the clock to get it down below that number, then get people to clock back in.” There are about 1,500 workers in Michigan who will be eligible to join the two suits there should it be granted class-action status, according to James.

    Wage theft is rampant in low-wage occupations, and laws against it are difficult to enforce. In California, even workers who successfully prove they were not paid for hours worked and win a judgment in their favor hardly ever see any back pay, because companies simply close down and rebrand rather than pay what they owe.

    And it’s not as if the fast food industry, among other franchisees, enjoys tax breaks already (and why is that, exactly?) as noted here.

    Raising the federal minimum wage would go a long way towards getting rid of the types of abuses carried out by the “golden arches” and their fellow corporate “persons” against their workforces. In addition to simple economic decency and fairness, it’s also good business (here). But don’t expect that there’s a snow ball’s chance in hell that that will ever happen with this Congress (and the lesson is to go out and help elect Democrats to change that, as well as protecting the ones we already have, in case anyone hasn’t figured that out by now).

  • Continuing, Cal Thomas of Fix Noise inflicts the following here

    STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, England – William Shakespeare is not known for his economic expertise, but the advice he gives through Polonius in “Hamlet” may be the best counsel ever offered for individuals and governments.

    After years of debt (90.6 percent of GDP in 2013) and deficit spending, Britain’s ruling Conservative Party is crowing about the latest economic figures that show the country has outpaced the developed world in its economic recovery. Reuters reports that the International Monetary Fund recently upgraded Britain’s projected economic growth this year to 3.2 percent, leading “the world’s big rich economies.” According to UK’s Office for National Statistics, Britain has recovered all of the ground lost during the recession.

    Well, that’s nice, even though our supposedly glorious private sector economy did that very thing two years earlier under Number 44, as noted here, and I don’t think a 0.8 GDP increase is much of anything to crow about (here – and by the way, even though Thomas doesn’t mention the quote for some reason, this is what he’s talking about with the Polonius//Hamlet thing).

    But if Thomas really wants to talk about how The Bard viewed income inequality, he should note the following (here):

    “So distribution should undo excess, and each man have enough.”
    [King Lear, Act 4, Scene 1]

    And when it comes to Thomas and money matters, I give you the following bit of hilarity from here (and speaking of McDonnell…).

  • Finally, it looks like longtime Repug dirty trickster Roger Stone is back to hawk a book timed for the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s registration from office, which we recently observed, as noted here.

    And who is Stone blaming in his book as the supposed mastermind of Watergate? Why, former White House counsel John Dean, of course (removing my tongue from my cheek)…

    Dean began the cover-up shortly after the 1972 election by telling Nixon he had concluded that the White House had nothing to do with the break-in. Nixon would announce this in a press conference.

    Actually, I would argue that the cover-up began on August 1, 1972, when a $25,000 cashier’s check earmarked for the Nixon re-election campaign was found in the bank account of one of the Watergate burglars. As the Watergate timeline article also tells us, further investigation revealed that, in the months leading up to their arrests, more thousands had passed through their bank and credit card accounts, supporting the burglars’ travel, living expenses, and purchases. Several donations (totaling $89,000) were made by individuals who thought they were making private donations to the President’s re-election committee. The donations were made in the form of cashier’s, certified, and personal checks, and all were made payable only to the Committee to Re-Elect the President. However, through a complicated fiduciary set-up, the money actually went into an account owned by a Miami company run by Watergate burglar Bernard Barker. On the backs of these checks was the official endorsement by the person who had the authority to do so, Committee Bookkeeper and Treasurer, Hugh Sloan. Thus a direct connection between the Watergate break-in and the Committee to Re-Elect the President had been established.

    And John Dean didn’t have a damn thing to do with any of that.

    To be fair, though, I suppose there is a bit of a “tit for tat” nature to this, because Dean has also recently published a book called “Nixon’s Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It” based on 1,000 hours of tapes that only he has had transcribed, or so Stone claims. Stone says that Dean should also submit transcripts of the tape “for independent review,” whatever that may mean.

    Stone’s argument seems to be that Dean needs to “come clean” on his alleged activities on March 13,16, 17, 20 and 21st, 1973. I’m not sure why Stone believes that is necessary when the House Judiciary Committee record tells us the following (there’s a lot going on here, and I’ll try to summarize at the end):

    On March 13, 1973 the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in executive session to ask John Dean to testify in the (hearings to confirm L. Patrick Gray as head of the FBI) concerning his contacts with the FBI during the investigation of the Watergate break-in.

    On March 14, 1973 Dean wrote to Senator James 0. Eastland, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and, citing the doctrine of executive privilege, formally refused to testify in the Senate confirmation hearing on the nomination of Gray to be Director of the FBI. On the same day the President met with Dean and White House Special Counsel Richard Moore in his Executive Office Building Office from 9:43 to 10:50 a.m. and from 12:47 to 1:30 p.m. They discussed a press conference scheduled for the next day and making Dean a test case in the courts on executive privilege.

    On March 15, 1973 the President held a press conference. He stated he would adhere to his decision not to allow Dean to testify before the Congress even if it meant defeat of Gray’s nomination as Director of the FBI, because there was “a double privilege, the lawyer-client relationship, as well as the Presidential privilege.” He also stated that he would not be willing to have Dean sit down informally and let Senators question him, but Dean would provide all pertinent information.

    On or about March 16, 1973 E. Howard Hunt (ringleader of the Watergate burglars) met with Paul O’Brien, an attorney for (the Committee to Re-Elect the President). Hunt informed O’Brien that commitments had not been met, that he had done “seamy things” for the White House, and that unless he received $130,000 he might review his options. On March 16, 1973 Hunt also met with Colson’s lawyer, David Shapiro (Charles Colson was Nixon’s special counsel). According to Colson, Hunt requested of Shapiro that Colson act as Hunt’s liaison with the White House, but was told that that was impossible.

    On March 17, 1973 the President met with John Dean in the Oval Office from 1:25 to 2:10 p.m. (On April 11, 1974 the Committee on the Judiciary subpoenaed the President to produce the tape recording of the March 17 meeting. The President has refused to produce that tape but has furnished an edited partial transcript of the meeting. After having listened to the tape recording of the March 17, 1973 meeting, the President on June 4, 1973 discussed with Press Secretary Ron Ziegler his recollections of that March 17 meeting. A tape recording of the June 4 discussion has been furnished to the Committee. The evidence regarding the content of the March 17 meeting presently possessed by the Committee also includes a summary of the March 17 meeting furnished, in June 1973, to SSC Minority Counsel Fred Thompson by White House Special Counsel (Fred) Buzhardt and the SSC testimony of John Dean.)

    In his discussion with Ziegler on June 4, 1973 the President told Ziegler the following regarding the March 17 meeting: Up to March 17, 1973 the President had no discussion with Dean on the basic conception of Watergate, but on the 17th there began a discussion of the substance of Watergate. Dean told the President that Dean had been over this like a blanket. Dean said that (Jeb Magruder, Deputy Director of CRP) was good, but that if he sees himself sinking he’ll drag everything with him. He said no one in the White House had prior knowledge of Watergate, except possibly (Haldeman aide Gordon) Strachan. There was a discussion of whether (White House Chief of Staff H. R.) Haldeman or Strachan had pushed on Watergate and whether anyone in the White House was involved. The President said that Magruder put the heat on, and (Hugh)Sloan (treasurer of the Committee to Re-Elect) starts pissing on Haldeman. The President said that “we’ve got to cut that off. We can’t have that go to Haldeman.” The President said that looking to the future there were problems and that Magruder could bring it right to Haldeman, and that could bring it to the White House, to the President. The President said that “We’ve got to cut that back. That ought to be cut out.” There was also a discussion of the (Daniel) Ellsberg break-in.

    On March 19, 1973 Paul O’Brien met with John Dean in the EOB and conveyed a message from E. Howard Hunt that if money for living and for attorneys’ fees were not forthcoming, Hunt might have to reconsider his options and might have some very seamy things to say about Ehrlichman.

    On March 20, 1973 (Nixon Assistant for Domestic Affairs) John Ehrlichman met with John Dean at the White House. They discussed Howard Hunt’s request for money, the possibility that Hunt would reveal activities of the Plumbers’ operations if the money were not forthcoming, and plans for Dean to discuss the matter with (Attorney General John) Mitchell. According to Dean, Dean discussed the matter with Mitchell by telephone later that evening, but Mitchell did not indicate whether Hunt would be paid. On the afternoon of March 20, 1973 Ehrlichman had a telephone conversation with (White House lawyer) Egil Krogh and told him Hunt was asking for a large amount of money. They discussed the possibility that Hunt might publicly reveal the Plumbers’ operations. Krogh has testified that Ehrlichman stated that Hunt might blow the lid off and that Mitchell was responsible for the care and feeding of Howard Hunt.

    On March 20, 1973 Dean had a conversation with Richard Moore, Special Counsel to the President. Dean told Moore that Hunt was demanding a large sum of money before his sentencing on March 23, and that if this payment were not made, Hunt was threatening to say things that would be very serious for the White House. After this conversation, Dean and Moore met with the President from 1:42 to 2:31 p.m. According to information furnished to the Senate Select Committee by Special Counsel Buzhardt, the President and Moore agreed that a statement should be released immediately after the sentencing of the defendants. According to Moore, following this meeting he told Dean that Dean should tell the President what he knew.

    According to Dean, Dean told Moore that Dean did not think the President understood all of the facts involved in the Watergate and particularly the implication of those facts and that Dean felt he had to lay those facts and implications out for the President.

    On March 20, 1973 John Dean had an evening telephone conversation with the President during which he arranged a meeting with the President for the next morning. According to the edited transcript of this conversation made public by the White House, Dean requested a meeting with the President to go over soft spots and potential problem areas. Dean said that his prior conversation with the President had been “sort of bits and pieces” and that he wanted to paint the whole picture for the President. The President agreed to such a meeting, and the President also instructed Dean to try to write a general statement like one that would state categorically that based on Dean’s investigation Haldeman, Colson and others were not involved in the Watergate matter.

    On the afternoon of March 21, 1973 Dean met with Haldeman and Ehrlichman. Ehrlichman and Dean have testified that the participants at the meeting speculated about John Mitchell’s role in the Watergate affair, and wondered whether Mitchell’s not coming forward was the cause of the beating everyone was taking on the subject of Watergate. Dean and Haldeman have testified that in the late afternoon of March 21, just before their second meeting with the President on that day, Dean told Haldeman that perhaps the solution to the whole thing was to draw the wagons around the White House. According to Haldeman, Dean also said that they should let all the chips fall where they may, because that would not hurt anybody at the White House since no one there had a problem.

    OK, so it sounds to me like, more than anything else, the White House (including Dean of course) was trying to find a way to get Howard Hunt to shut up. And it sounds like that meant trying to get the Committee to Re-Elect and the White House on the same page concerning the Watergate break-in. They were also trying to keep the Senate at arms length so questions wouldn’t come up during the confirmation hearing for L. Patrick Gray. It also sounds to me like John Dean was busy more with trying to get all of this stuff coordinated between the White House and the Committee to Re-Elect in a way that would shield the White House as much as possible (though, in one of the March 21 meetings with Nixon, Dean used the phrase “cancer on the presidency”).

    So my conclusion is as follows: if Dean was supposedly the Watergate “mastermind” as Stone alleges, then Dean was pretty crummy at the job.

    I would argue, though, that Stone has, as best, only a casual relationship with historical scholarship anyway, seeing as how he also produced the following book last year supposedly proving that Lyndon Johnson murdered JFK (here). And I would also that Stone is hardly an impartial observer on the subject of Nixon, seeing as how Stone has a tattoo of our 37th president’s face on his back, as noted here (Stone also acknowledged a certain sexual proclivity in Jeffrey Toobin’s 2008 New Yorker article, describing himself as “a libertarian and a libertine”…just sayin’). And as noted from here (#2), Stone denied having anything to do with the Willie Horton ad that Lee Atwater ran against Michael Dukakis on behalf of Poppy Bush in 1988, and Stone also denied having anything whatsoever to do with the infamous “Brooks Brothers Riot” that halted the Miami Dade vote recount in Florida in November 2000 (I guess this is typical for a guy who says, “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack”…more on Stone is here, and I guess the answer to the Media Matters question is yes).

    Stone also says that Dean proposed Operation Gemstone – actually, according to Wikipedia, it was proposed by Liddy, though Dean was in attendance to hear about it along with Mitchell and Magruder.

    The Watergate break-in and the downfall of Richard Nixon’s presidency, I’m sure, will be written about, studied and analyzed for many years to come because of its cautionary lessons concerning governance and the abuse of presidential power. No doubt many works of scholarship will be added to that body of knowledge for study by future generations (and probably this too).

    And I have a feeling that anything concocted by Roger Stone will not add to that in any way, shape or form.

    Update 8/19/14: From here

    Dean also slammed author Roger Stone, whose book, Nixon’s Secrets: The Rise, Fall, and Untold Truth about the President, Watergate, and the Pardon, questions Dean’s account of the scandal, seeks to defend Nixon, and claims Deep Throat, the secret informant for The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, wasn’t FBI Associate Director Mark Felt — despite the fact that Woodward and Bernstein confirmed his identity in 2005.

    Stone is one of several former Nixon aides who have been defending the disgraced president in recent media appearances. A “professional dirty trickster” with a history of virulent misogyny, Stone believes Nixon should not have been impeached for Watergate. He wrote three op-eds for FoxNews.com in the last few months in which he attacked Dean and other Nixon critics, plugged his book, and claimed that “Nixon was bad but Obama is worse.”

    “This is typical of the alternative universe out there. That is pure bullshit, why would Woodward say it if it is someone else?” Dean said about Stone’s Deep Throat claim. “I don’t care to know anything about Stone. From everything I’ve been told about him I’m not sure you want to put in print.”

    Uh, yep.


  • Friday Mashup (5/23/14)

    May 23, 2014

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  • This from Fix Noise tells us the following…

    Four years have passed since President Obama visited Kansas City’s main airport, rolled up his shirt sleeves and admonished the skeptics who said Smith Electric Vehicles was unlikely to make good on its promises to build 510 experimental electric-powered trucks and buses suitable for commercial use.

    “Come see what’s going on at Smith Electric,” the president said, inspecting a table full of bright green truck batteries in what was once a maintenance hangar for TWA. “I think they’re going to be hard-pressed to tell you that you’re not better off than you would be if we hadn’t made the investments in this plant.”

    The skeptics turned out to be right.

    Despite $32 million in federal stimulus funds and status as one of Obama’s favorite “green” companies, the firm has halted production, having built just 439 of the promised 510 vehicles.

    Gee, “just” 439 out of 510? That happens to be “just” 86 percent, for those of you playing along at home (and the story also tells us that production of the vehicles may resume this summer…money is slow in the pipeline these days, and that’s definitely affecting manufacturing, among other industries).

    I’m not going to say much about the “follow the money” stuff in the linked Washington Examiner story (from Fox), alleging that Smith “stiffed” the “Missouri University of Science and Technology, the state government, and a local electrical supply company, as well as its landlord, the Kansas City city government.” Also adding to the complicated financial picture is the fact that Smith is apparently an American subsidiary of a British firm. The Examiner article alleges impropriety, but upon a couple of reviews, I think there’s no “there” there (sounds to me like some financial stuff that would be normal for a lot of other established firms…I’m open to an opposing point of view on that one).

    I mainly want to point out that how the wingnuts have been attacking the Obama Energy Department and their loans to electric car manufacturers for a little while now, including here where the number of companies that applied for loans versus the number that actually received DOE loans was flipped on purpose (all part and parcel from this playbook).

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    Actually, this issue gives me an excuse to plug this great documentary from a few years ago, telling us that, among other things, we were on track for electric cars in this country before a certain President With The Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History sent us on a merry goose chase in search of hydrogen cars (more on him later; of course, hybrid vehicles are flourishing now also – good news on that front).

  • Next, I give you more corporate media “SKY IS FALLING!!!” wankery from Matt Bai here (opining in part about a perhaps-inevitable Hillary Clinton presidential run)…

    The truth is that, leaving aside all this bravado about happy demographics and the disunion of Republicans, Democrats are scared out of their minds right now. The House is solidly out of reach. The Senate is slipping away. And the White House could be close behind, especially if Clinton doesn’t run, and if Republicans can rally around a credible candidate.

    I’ll admit that the odds are long on the Dems retaking the House, but I think it’s premature at best to say that such a goal is “out of reach,” partly for the reason noted here.

    And as far as the Senate “slipping away,” this tells us that, among other things, Terri Lynn Land in Michigan and former Dubya confidant/Repug lobbyist Ed Gillespie in Virginia aren’t faring too well (and while Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao has pulled out close races before, he’s not currently in a comfortable spot with Dem candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes – the slime is already at work, of course…I Googled Grimes and the first hit I got was a site proclaiming her a liberal, naturally, as well as “Obama’s Nominee for Kentucky”…OOOGA BOOGA, WINGNUTS! Blow that dog whistle a little louder, OK?).

    In addition, I give you the following from kos here

    Republicans are acting as if they’ve already won control of the next Senate, and the media appears happy to play along.

    But despite tens of millions of dollars in attack ads and the right wing’s religious certainty that ObamaCare will ride them to victory, a race-by-race look reveals that Democrats aren’t only competitive in this November’s Senate elections — they’re steadily improving.

    The math is simple: Republicans need to win six seats to take control of the Senate, and are prohibitive favorites in two Democratic-held seats: South Dakota and West Virginia. That means they have to win four of the six competitive Democratic seats — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana and North Carolina — while holding on to two endangered GOP seats in Georgia and Kentucky.

    On the macro level, Republicans are banking that discontent over the Affordable Care Act and President Obama’s unpopularity will prove the keys to the majority. In both cases, the trends aren’t in the GOP’s favor.

    In Gallup polling, Obama’s unpopularity peaked in mid-February, with a 41 percent job approval rating and 54 percent disapproval rating. Early this week, that number was 45 percent approval to 49 percent disapproval, a 9-point shift.

    Similarly, the stunning early ObamaCare success — 8 million signups on the exchange and still counting — has already led to improving poll numbers across the board, like the ABC/Washington Post poll showing support of the law at 49 percent to 48 percent against. In November, the numbers were 40/57.

    I think those numbers are also borne out by this.

    And speaking of Senatorial races, it looks like “Wall Street Scott” Brown isn’t faring too well either (here, engaging in more trickery), despite Bai’s efforts to inflate his candidacy here – second bullet.

  • Further, I give you the latest right-wing propaganda on the Affordable Care Law (here, on the subject of so-called “risk corridors”)…

    The Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature healthcare law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money.

    The move was buried in hundreds of pages of new regulations issued late last week. It comes as part of an intensive administration effort to hold down premium increases for next year, a top priority for the White House as the rates will be announced ahead of this fall’s congressional elections.

    Administration officials for months have denied charges by opponents that they plan a “bailout” for insurance companies providing coverage under the healthcare law.

    They continue to argue that most insurers shouldn’t need to substantially increase premiums because safeguards in the healthcare law will protect them over the next several years.

    I’m automatically suspicious of this story because there are no links to source material that confirms this accusation. Even if it were true, though, I think the following should also be noted (here)…

    The distortion that risk corridors are an insurance company bailout is a frequent theme (not just on Fox but in conservative media generally), but this latest narrative is especially misleading. What the Fox hosts failed to acknowledge is that the estimated $5.5 billion payment doesn’t come from taxpayers, but from the insurance companies themselves. The risk corridor provision transfers money from insurance companies with healthier risk pools to companies with less healthy risk pools with higher than anticipated costs.

    While the federal government may be required to subsidize some of the payment in extreme circumstances, White House officials expect that the entire risk corridor cost over the next year will be borne by the insurance companies themselves.

    And as long as we’re talking about risk corridors, this reminds us that those in the Affordable Care Law are temporary. On the other hand, those in the Medicare Part D scam under Number 43 are permanent (Heaven forbid that conservatives don’t applaud the intrusion into this supposedly sacrosanct, glorious-private-sector concoction…no such complaints about the “corridors” from 2006, of course).

  • Continuing (and in consideration of the upcoming holiday), I give you this from a few days ago…

    With the Department of Veterans Affairs coming under attack, meanwhile down in Texas, on the ranch of the former president, another way was being shown to support our vets. This past week former President George W. Bush brought together wounded veterans and active soldiers to honor them with a mountain bike ride. The message was clear – even when you leave active duty, we will still care for you.

    This from the individual who was taking up space in An Oval Office when the Walter Reed Hospital VA scandal was taking place, and of course the Foxies had precious little to say about it as opposed to the braying they’re doing right now, as noted here.

    (Also, this Fox screed was concocted by Dr. Marc Siegel, who last wrote about “typically unselfish” Number 43 here and the questions surrounding Dubya’s stent procedure – fourth bullet.)

    And as long as I’m talking about Siegel’s piece, I give you another excerpt…

    “Some of the people riding mountain bikes here have PTS (post-traumatic stress),” Bush said. “Mountain biking is helping them get back to as normal a life as possible. And that’s not a VA function, its a private sector function.”

    God, what a baboon – helping our vets isn’t just a “private sector” function – it’s a “function” for everyone whether they’re in public life or not!

    The scandal (yes, Repugs, a legitimate one – at long last, your dreams have come true!) of what is taking place with our veterans and providing the care they need is a bipartisan one, I’ll admit (well, maybe their dreams haven’t come true after all). And I don’t know if Gen. Eric Shinseki should resign as head of the VA or not. If he does, I hope it will not be just in response to a typical attack of conservative umbrage and, at the very least, an administrator at least as competent as Shinseki will be able to transition into the job relatively smoothly (that will make a big difference in how quickly our veterans receive care also, which should of course be the most important consideration). All I’m saying is that we should have a little perspective.

    You want to go after Shinseki? Fine. But let’s remember that the reason so many veterans require care is because of two wars that weren’t started on Obama’s watch (and, in the case of Dubya’s Not So Excellent Adventure in Iraq, this should have been an anticipated consequence of “the surge,” again, before Obama was sworn in).

    And you want to talk about a VA scandal and a certain president? Let’s not forget the following:

  • This tells us about Daniel Cooper of the Bush VA and how he thought his Bible study was more important than taking care of our wounded heroes (along with Dubya’s remark about battle being “romantic”).
  • This tells us how Cooper’s one-time boss Jim Nicholson approved $3.8 million in bonuses for VA executives even though the VA had underestimated the number of Iraq war vets who were expected to seek medical treatment in 2005 by nearly 80,000.
  • And among other things, this (a column from 2007 by Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), tells us that, for years under Dubya, PTSD was misdiagnosed as a “personality disorder” (the column has to do with the nomination of Lt. Gen. James Peake, M.D., to head the VA after Nicholson’s departure).
  • So there’s a lot more all of us can do to pay better attention to our veterans who have sacrificed (and in many cases, continue to sacrifice) for us. And sure, if Obama’s wretched predecessor wants to host a bike run or a golf tournament for them (which still sticks in my craw because of this, and this), then I have to admit that he deserves a bit of credit too, even though he was overwhelmingly responsible for the wars they had to fight that led to the death and injury of our personnel.

    american-flag
    And as long as I’m on this topic, I have a request – people, can you please fly your damn flags on Monday?

    Update: Uh, yep.

  • unemployment-line_000

  • Finally (and speaking of people suffering), according to The Daily Tucker (cherry picking from a Harris poll), nearly 47 percent of unemployed Americans have given up looking for work due to the still-moribund (for just about everyone, anyone I know at least) economy, as noted here.

    In response, this tells you that “Man Tan” Boehner has pissed away just about $5 billion in economic gains due to refusing to renew an extension to unemployment benefits.

    Are you disgusted by that? Good. Click here.


  • Friday Mashup (5/9/14)

    May 9, 2014
  • This from clownhall.com tells us the following (with the understated headline of “Guns Don’t Cause Gang Violence – Democrats Do”)…

    Between Friday night, and Sunday evening, 28 people had been shot in Rahm Emanuel’s gun control utopia (Chicago). Which, unbelievably, shows an improvement over the previous weekend, which tacked on more than 40 gunshot victims to the city’s climbing statistics. And, heck, with the CPD’s recent scandal surrounding how they classify various crimes, it almost makes you wonder if these numbers are more “ballpark” figures than actual stats.

    I mean, heck, (gun control) hasn’t exactly worked out that well so far, but why not double down? Right? The fact is, the failure of Liberalism has brought the city to its current state of deterioration. The Chicago model of unconstitutional restrictions on keeping and bearing arms has done little more than add fuel to the fire. Politicians, meanwhile, have been more than happy to ignore the easily identifiable, but politically tricky, origins of gang violence, and criminal activity.

    Yeah, well, this is part and parcel of the wingnut caterwauling on guns I realize. However, did you know that the state of Illinois recently passed a concealed carry law, as noted here?

    Well then, isn’t the Michael Schaus post proof, then, that concealed carry leads to more crime?

    And as noted here, the NRA is pushing for a national concealed carry law that would override other more sensible state laws (the party of “state’s rights” strikes again, considering how “simpatico” the NRA is with the “party of Lincoln”). Which is all part and parcel of this (and by the way, Politifact strikes again on the whole “half true” thing – the U.S. has the highest gun casualty rate among “other affluent nations on a per capita basis,” so that settles it as far as I’m concerned).

  • Next, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction” is back to inflict the following (here)…

    The qualifications of a Tommy “Dude” Vietor or Ben Rhodes that placed them in the Situation Room during Obama-administration crises were not years of distinguished public service, military service, prior elected office, a string of impressive publications, an academic career, previous diplomatic postings, or any of the usual criteria that have placed others at the nerve center of America in times of crisis. Their trajectory was based on yeoman partisan PR work, and largely on being young, hip, and well-connected politically. I don’t think either of these operatives has a particular worldview or competency that would promote the interests of the United States. But they do talk well, know the right people, and are hip. Again, they have no real expertise or even ideology other than that.

    (The “Dude” reference, for the uninitiated, has to do with Vietor pretty much laughing off more BENGHAZI!!! idiocy from Bret Baier of Fix Noise, which I think was definitely the correct response.)

    So a certain V.D. Hanson is criticizing Vietor and Rhodes because of their ascent in the Obama Administration from a background of “yeoman partisan PR work.”

    Well then, let’s take a look at Obama’s ruinous predecessor, as long as Hanson has opened that “can of worms”:

  • Longtime Bushie Karen Hughes was a “communications strategist” who, as a member of the White House Iraq Group, helped to sell Number 43’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Iraq (here).
  • And speaking of the quagmire in Mesopotamia, former PR flak Dan Bartlett once said that his boss “never had a ‘stay the course’ strategy” here (liar).
  • When it comes to PR and marketing, though, I don’t think either Hughes or Bartlett can top Andrew Card, who rose to Chief of Staff and notoriously said here that “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August” in response to the question of why Bushco started beating the drums for war in Iraq in earnest in September 2002.
  • Given this, I would say that, when it comes to “yeoman partisan PR work,” Vietor and Rhodes are chumps by comparison (and speaking of Iraq, more “fun” with Hanson is here).

  • Further, I think it’s time to take a look at some true revisionist wingnuttery on The Sainted Ronnie R, first from Michael Barone here

    Second-term presidents over the last generation have tried, with varying results, to achieve breakthroughs. Ronald Reagan, after cutting tax rates in his first term, called for further cuts combined with elimination of tax preferences that had encrusted the tax code.

    House Ways and Means chairman Dan Rostenkowski and Senate Finance chairman Bob Packwood — a Democrat and a Republican — achieved a historic breakthrough with the tax-reform legislation of 1986, thanks in part to intensive coaching from Treasury Secretary James Baker.

    See, the point of Barone’s screed is that Obama isn’t being “bipartisan” enough for his liking, with Barone’s definition of “bipartisan” being, apparently, to get beaten up and let the Republicans do whatever they want (Barone lists other examples of supposed “bipartisanship” that got things done in Washington).

    I guess that, living in the world of reality, it may not be necessary to point out at every opportunity to you, dear reader, that Number 40 raised taxes a dozen times, as noted here. However, since the other side is constantly trying to form reality to their twisted worldview, I believe that I must engage in this exercise.

    And sticking with the decade in which Reagan took up space in An Oval Office, this post from The Daily Tucker discusses a TV program called “The Americans,” which I guess has to do with Soviet-era spies living in this country.

    So what is this show about, exactly…

    In one recent scene, for example, KGB agent Elizabeth goes off on a standard 80s liberal spiel about the Nicaragua war, complete with hypocritical sympathy for Catholic nuns and dissident journalists.

    Well OK then – it looks like this Will Rahn person isn’t a big fan of ‘80s-era political activism in particular.

    In response, I give you the following from here

    I first confronted this pattern while covering Reagan’s hard-line policies toward Central America. The lies started just weeks after Reagan’s 1980 election, when four American churchwomen were raped and murdered by government security forces in rightist-ruled El Salvador.

    On the night of Dec. 2, 1980, two of the women, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, drove a white mini-van to the international airport outside San Salvador. There, they picked up Ita Ford and Maura Clarke who had attended a conference in Nicaragua.

    Leaving the airport, the van turned onto the road that heads into the capital city. At a roadblock, a squad of soldiers stopped the van and took the women into custody. After a phone call apparently to a superior officer, the sergeant in charge said the orders were to kill the women. The soldiers raped them first and then executed the women with high-powered rifles.

    The atrocity was only one of hundreds committed each month by the Salvadoran security forces in a “dirty war” against leftists and their suspected supporters, a conflict that was more mass murder than a war, a butchery that would eventually claim some 70,000 lives. The Dec. 2 atrocity stood out only because Americans were the victims.

    The proper response from U.S. officials would have seemed obvious: to join U.S. Ambassador Robert White in denouncing the brutal rape and murder of four American citizens. But the incoming Reagan foreign policy team didn’t see it that way; Reagan was on the side of the rightist Salvadoran military.

    So, the rape-murder was treated like a public relations problem, best handled by shifting blame onto the victims. Jeane Kirkpatrick, Reagan’s choice for United Nations ambassador, depicted the victims as “not just nuns. The nuns were political activists – on behalf of the [leftist opposition] Frente.”

    Kirkpatrick’s implication was that it wasn’t all that bad to rape and murder “political activists.”

    And as far as the “Fourth Estate” is concerned (here)…

    To conceal the truth about the war crimes of Central America, Reagan also authorized a systematic program of distorting information and intimidating American journalists.

    Called “public diplomacy” or “perception management,” the project was run by a CIA propaganda veteran, Walter Raymond Jr., who was assigned to the National Security Council staff. The explicit goal of the operation was to manage U.S. “perceptions” of the wars in Central America.

    The project’s key operatives developed propaganda “themes,” selected “hot buttons” to excite the American people, cultivated pliable journalists who would cooperate and bullied reporters who wouldn’t go along.

    The best-known attacks were directed against New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner for disclosing Salvadoran army massacres of civilians, including the slaughter of more than 800 men, women and children in El Mozote in December 1981.

    But Bonner was not alone. Reagan’s operatives pressured scores of reporters and their editors in an ultimately successful campaign to minimize information about these human rights crimes reaching the American people. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

    The tamed reporters, in turn, gave the administration a far freer hand to pursue its anticommunist operations throughout Central America.

    Despite the tens of thousands of civilian deaths and now-corroborated accounts of massacres and genocide, not a single senior military officer in Central America was held accountable for the bloodshed.

    The U.S. officials who sponsored and encouraged these war crimes not only escaped any legal judgment, but remained highly respected figures in Washington. Reagan has been honored as few recent presidents have.

    The journalists who played along by playing down the atrocities — the likes of Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer — saw their careers skyrocket, while those who told the truth suffered severe consequences.

    And given the BENGHAZI!!! fever currently sweeping the “leadership” of the U.S. House, I think this is a timely article.

  • Continuing, it looks like VA head Eric Shinseki (who, once again, is a huge improvement over his Bushco counterpart) is in hot water, as noted here

    (Reuters) – Two Republican senators on Tuesday joined veterans groups in calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign amid claims that up to 40 people died while waiting for treatment in the U.S. veterans’ healthcare system.

    Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas, said the Veterans Affairs Department needed a “true transformation … from top to bottom.”

    “I ask the secretary to submit his resignation and I ask President (Barack) Obama to accept that resignation,” Moran said on the Senate floor.

    Assistant Senate Republican leader John Cornyn said: “The president needs to find a new leader to lead this organization out of the wilderness, and back to providing the service our veterans deserve.”

    As noted here, Cornyn voted against a bill to provide $12 billion in medical, educational and job-training benefits for our veterans returning from the wars (to be fair, Moran voted Yes as noted here).

    However, it’s not as if the Kansas senator doesn’t have his own baggage in these matters. He gave conditional-at-best support here to the military sexual assault bill sponsored by Dem Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Moran also voted against the Veterans with Disabilities Act (here), despite the request from former Kansas Sen. (and WWII-disabled vet, of course) Bob Dole that Moran and everyone else in the U.S. Senate support it.

    The Reuters story also tells us the following…

    The American Legion, the biggest U.S. veterans’ group, and Concerned Veterans for America called on Monday for Shinseki, a former Army general twice wounded in Vietnam, to step down.

    I’m not going to take issue with The American Legion, but Concerned Veterans for America…hmmm…

    Oh yeah – as noted here, that’s another “dark money” front group for Chuck and Dave Koch (kind of like “Concerned Women of America” who are apparently trying to torpedo a women’s history museum sponsored by Dem Carolyn Maloney and Repug Marsha Blackburn (!), as noted here, with “Moon Unit” Bachmann opposing it even though the plan is for her to be featured in an exhibit – way too funny).

    Returning to the main topic, I don’t know if Gen. Shinseki should resign as head of the VA or not. However, I think it’s more than a bit hypocritical to blame only him for trying to clean up a mess originated by our prior ruling cabal (which he, among a very select few – and more’s the pity on that – actually stood up to, as noted here).

  • Finally (and speaking of war), I give you former Bushco U.N. rep John “Blow ‘Em Up” Bolton (here, with what you might call some “crackpot history” in concert with his claim that President Obama’s recent far east tour didn’t go well since Obama looked tired, or something)…

    In 1932, Secretary of State Henry Stimson declared his “non-recognition” doctrine regarding Japanese aggression in China and subsequent annexations. Although politically symbolic, Stimson’s high-collared moralisms did nothing to deter further Japanese expansionism.

    Years later, when President Roosevelt finally imposed sanctions that could actually inhibit Japan’s military, the increasing likelihood of war against the Nazis was apparent. Pearl Harbor followed, but one can ask if stronger U.S. Asia policies in the 1930’s might have caused a different result.

    Yes, “one” can ask indeed if “one” were a total moron, I suppose. As noted from here

    In 1933, President (Franklin D.) Roosevelt proposed a Congressional measure that would have granted him the right to consult with other nations to place pressure on aggressors in international conflicts. The bill ran into strong opposition from the leading isolationists in Congress, including progressive politicians such as Senators Hiram Johnson of California, William Borah of Idaho, and Robert La Follette of Wisconsin. In 1935, controversy over U.S. participation in the World Court elicited similar opposition. As tensions rose in Europe over Nazi Germany’s aggressive maneuvers, Congress pushed through a series of Neutrality Acts, which served to prevent American ships and citizens from becoming entangled in outside conflicts. Roosevelt lamented the restrictive nature of the acts, but because he still required Congressional support for his domestic New Deal policies, he reluctantly acquiesced.

    The isolationists were a diverse group, including progressives and conservatives, business owners and peace activists, but because they faced no consistent, organized opposition from internationalists, their ideology triumphed time and again. Roosevelt appeared to accept the strength of the isolationist elements in Congress until 1937. In that year, as the situation in Europe continued to grow worse and the Second Sino-Japanese War began in Asia, the President gave a speech in which he likened international aggression to a disease that other nations must work to “quarantine.” At that time, however, Americans were still not prepared to risk their lives and livelihoods for peace abroad. Even the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 did not suddenly diffuse popular desire to avoid international entanglements. Instead, public opinion shifted from favoring complete neutrality to supporting limited U.S. aid to the Allies short of actual intervention in the war. The surprise Japanese attack on the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 served to convince the majority of Americans that the United States should enter the war on the side of the Allies.

    And as noted from here

    By 1940, the (Second Sino-Japanese) war descended into stalemate. The Japanese seemed unable to force victory, nor the Chinese to evict the Japanese from the territory they had conquered. But western intervention in the form of economic sanctions (most importantly oil) against Japan would transform the nature of the war. It was in response to these sanctions that Japan decided to attack America at Pearl Harbor, and so initiate World War II in the Far East.

    OK, so, to review:

  • Sanctions against Japan were probably necessary in hindsight, but to try and make the argument that Roosevelt sought them too late and Pearl Harbor might have been prevented is ridiculous. If anything, if sanctions had been imposed earlier, an attack might have happened earlier (again, not saying that sanctions were wrong) when we would have been less adequately prepared to fight it than we were.
  • As the article states above, there was not enough of a “push back” against the isolationist sentiment Roosevelt faced across the political spectrum at home after World War I. And he needed those same senators opposing military action to support the New Deal.
  • I’m not a bit surprised, however, to find out that Bolton knows nothing about that period of history, given that he finished his column with the following (again, using this totally inaccurate reading to justify another attack on Number 44)…

    In December, 1937, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of all people observed that, “It is always best and safest to count on nothing from the Americans but words.”

    5_fig002
    And the fact that Bolton would say that without a single word of acknowledgment of the price this country paid to defeat the Axis Powers in World War II (particularly repugnant as we approach Memorial Day) tells you how callow and ignorant he truly is.


  • Tuesday Mashup (4/15/14)

    April 15, 2014

    equal pay

  • I know my “A” list “betters” have already pilloried Beltway media stenographer Ruth Marcus who said here in Jeff Bezos Daily that the Senate Dems’ language on equal pay for women is “revolting,” but I feel compelled to “pile on” anyway.

    And that is because what is really revolting is the fact that congressional Republicans have blocked the legislation Marcus ridicules three times now, including the occasion noted here from June 2012 (as the story notes, the equal pay issue sprung from the Lilly Ledbetter Law, passed and signed by Obama to correct yet another awful Supreme Court decision, this one limiting workers’ rights to sue for alleged pay discrimination – no word from Marcus on whether or not she thinks any of that is “revolting” also).

    With all of this in mind, I think it’s time to revisit the following lowlights from Marcus:

  • As noted here, Marcus also criticized Mary Cheney for supporting marriage equality (actually, opposing her sister Liz’s opposition to same, and yes, I know this puts me in the utterly weird position of actually defending a member of the family of Dick Cheney).
  • Marcus also said here once said that “80 percent of people with employer-sponsored health insurance would be unaffected” by a 2007 health care proposal from Dubya that would have led to smaller Social Security payouts for workers who participated.
  • She also sprang to the defense of former Bushie “Abu” Gonzales here.
  • Here, “Glenzilla” took Marcus to task in a discussion about NSA leaker Edward Snowden (yep, Greenwald is definitely someone who gives it to you straight, whether you like it or not).
  • Marcus had a problem here with recess appointments under Obama, but not under Dubya since her husband benefitted from it.
  • A whole bunch of stuff on Marcus can be accessed from here (some duplicate items I’ll admit).
  • It’s pretty disheartening to be a Dem when you don’t see your candidates mixing it up with the Repugs they claim to be running against, instead opting for some “sensible centrist” BS campaign that inevitably loses elections. And that is just fine with Marcus and her effete brethren, tut-tutting over that nasty rabble who dares to hold her to account while she hob-knobs with the “smart set” and politely asks to pass the sweet and sour shrimp.

  • And speaking of corporate media wankery, I give you this prize from Matt Bai (in the matter of “Wall Street Scott” Brown taking his act on the road to New Hampshire)…

    Constituency-shopping now isn’t only viable for a glamorous candidate like Hillary Clinton, an Arkansan by way of Illinois who followed RFK’s path to a Senate seat from New York. In a sense, most of our leading politicians now are carpetbaggers of one kind or another. Barack Obama is from Hawaii or Illinois or even Kansas, depending on how you look at it. Mitt Romney was a Massachusetts governor with a political base in Utah. The Bushes are from Maine and Texas and Florida.

    Yes, but not a one of them tried to flip from one Congressional seat to another representing constituencies from completely separate states, did they?

    Oh, and let’s not forget how Bai also once claimed that we lefties “demand…partisan government,” or something, here.

  • Next, it looks like Murdoch Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens is in a particularly crabby mood today, lashing out at Republicans and Democrats alike and basically arguing that Rand Paul should win the Repug presidential nomination (God, how can we seriously be talking about that already?) “because maybe what the GOP needs is another humbling landslide defeat” (here).

    See, our Pulitzer Prize-winning (ugh) scribe is mad at Paul (the junior senator from a state with eight electoral votes, as Stephens puts it) because the “ophthalmologist” criticized “Deadeye Dick” Cheney and the rest of Bushco for waging war in Mesopotamia to make scads and scads of dough for Halliburton (I think you can chalk this up to the broken clock that is right no more than twice a day).

    So how does Stephens put it?

    …It’s the signature question of every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind. Cheney. Halliburton. Big Oil. The military-industrial complex. Neocons. 9/11. Soldiers electrocuted in the shower. It all makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

    Is Stephens seriously trying to argue that the documented incidents of our soldiers electrocuted in showers in Iraq and Afghanistan (I must have slept through the scathing congressional hearings that took place over that one…right?) are instead the work of “every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind?”

    As repugnant as that false equivalency is, it is totally in character for Stephens, given his prior commentary on Iraq as noted here.

  • Further, this story seemed to come and go about the U.S. potentially allowing international control over domain names that used to be under our purview, but I thought it rated a mention (especially since that moonbat Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee was caterwauling about it in the House)…

    The “domain name system” is sort of like the phone book for the Internet—it’s the tool your computer used to convert the URL “Time.com” into the unique code of numbers and letters that are the actual address for this website—and it has historically been owned by the United States but administered through the international nonprofit ICANN. The Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters Act (a name excruciatingly eked out of the DOTCOM Act acronym) would, if passed into law, prevent the Obama Administration from going through with its plan to permanently turn control of the Internet’s domain name system over to an international authority comprised of various Internet stakeholders. Under the DOTCOM Act, that handover would be delayed at least until the completion of a government study into the implications of such a move.

    I honestly don’t know enough about this issue to comment much one way or the other, but here is my question – how come there are so many congressional representatives on both sides who are apparently up in arms over a real or imagined threat to the Internet from non-U.S. “actors,” but these same folks apparently have no issue with the telcos running completely roughshod over any attempts to maintain a free and open internet in this country via Net Neutrality?

    Yes, I know the answer (ka-ching!), but I need to ask anyway.

  • Continuing, I haven’t bothered to find out what “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction” (as James Wolcott calls him) has been up to for a little while now, so I give you the latest from a certain V.D. Hanson here (looks like it’s more indignation over supposed liberal persecution)…

    What if you supported equality for all Americans regardless of their sexual preference, but — like presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 and about half the country today — opposed making gay marriage legal?

    If you were the CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, you would be forced to resign your position.

    Awww…

    The departure of Brendan Eich, as far as I’m concerned, was nothing more than the free market, so beloved by Hanson and his playmates, at work. And that would be the same free market that dispatched Martin Bashir from his job as an MSNBC commentator, even though he apologized for an inference about Sarah Palin that was admittedly sickening (matched only by Palin’s original comments about slavery).

    abughraibhood
    Oh, and as long as we’re talking about a supposed liberal “inquisition,” let’s not forget that this image (the closest thing to an honest-to-goodness, for real inquisition that I can recall) can be traced back to the foul, fetid Bushco reign, with that gang being comprised of anything but liberals.

    Besides, if Hanson honestly cared about free speech in the workplace, then he might want to read this column from Slate’s Jamelle Bouie on the subject, particularly the following…

    …let’s grant that…Eich’s forced resignation is an attack on speech, and that this is an ugly bout of bullying against someone who hasn’t expressed his views in the context of his job. If that’s true, then Eich is just the highest profile victim of a status quo that threatens countless workers.

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act might protect workers from discrimination on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin, but almost everything else is fair game for private employers who want to get rid of workers. Not only can you be fired for your political views—for sporting the wrong bumper sticker on your car, for instance—or for being “sexually irresistible” to your boss, but in most states (29, to be precise), you can be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identification, no questions asked.

    In any case, there’s nothing conservatives can do about Eich’s resignation. But they can join with labor activists and others to push for greater worker protections, like the Employee Non-Discrimination Act. For as much as employer flexibility is important to a dynamic economy, it’s also true that no one should fear firing for the people they love, the identity they claim, or the donations they make.

    Simply put, if conservatives are frustrated by the treatment of Eich for his role in Proposition 8, then they should be outraged by the treatment of ordinary people at the hands of the people who employ them.

    More on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is here, which has been introduced in congressional sessions for just about 20 years and has been stalled every time (the latest version has passed the Senate and is currently stuck in the U.S. House…shocking, I know).

    Update 4/16/14: And as long as I included that pic, here is an update.

  • On we go – this from The Daily Tucker tells us the following…

    Senate Republicans warn that President Obama’s new focus on agricultural methane emissions could mean a tax on livestock emissions — including cow flatulence.

    South Dakota Sen. John Thune and fellow GOP senators sent a letter to Obama administration officials urging them not to regulate livestock emissions as part of the president’s crusade against global warming.

    Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” would require the dairy industry to reduce methane emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The Agriculture Department, Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency are set to put together a “Biogas” roadmap to reduce methane emissions.

    Republicans argue that Obama’s methane reduction plan could lead to “heavy-handed” regulations that would “have detrimental implications on livestock operations across the country.”

    The EPA is currently barred from regulating methane emissions from livestock production through an “annual appropriations rider” that expires every year. But this does not mean the EPA will not try again, warn Republicans.

    Of course, EPA head Gina McCarthy (as the piece tells us) said that the EPA has no plan to try and regulate methane emissions from “cow flatulence.” Which is a shame, actually.

    And that is because, as noted here, “cow flatulence and indigestion is really no joke: measuring and reducing methane emissions from all of the world’s livestock is a serious area of study.”

    Continuing…

    …there is general agreement that livestock farming worldwide is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, producing 80 million metric tons of methane a year, or about 28% of global methane emissions from human-related activities.

    Meanwhile, researchers at the University of New Hampshire had to defend their $700,000 Department of Agriculture grant to study reducing emissions from cow burps at organic dairy farms, when it wound up on Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s list of the most wasteful government programs.

    Researchers in Argentina don’t think cow farts are a laughing matter either. They have strapped plastic tanks to cows’ backs in order to trap and measure the amount of methane each animal produces (a 1200-pound cow produced 800 to 1000 liters of emissions each day). With about 55 million head of cattle grazing on grasslands in its beef industry, Argentina has a significant stake in understanding this source of its greenhouse gases (which could be as high as 30 percent of its total emissions).

    And as noted from here

    Most of the planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution in the United States comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but the gas is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on future global warming.

    So go ahead and keep making your “Apocalypse Cow” jokes, wingnuts, while our planet slowly melts, our waters dry up and we all choke to death on our own fumes. Heckuva job!

  • Kathleen_Sebelius_official_portrait

  • Finally, I just wanted to say thanks to departing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who probably will get only a speck of the credit she is due for helping to ensure that the Affordable Care Act became law; millions of Americans have benefitted and will benefit by obtaining health coverage when they would have otherwise been denied, in no small part because of her efforts (I thought this was a well-done appreciation – this also).

  • Friday Mashup (11/15/13)

    November 15, 2013
  • I’ve been a bit delinquent in linking to sites where you can provide assistance in some way to the victims of the horrific events in the Philippines recently, and I apologize for that:

    Here is a link to the Red Cross (blood donations, supplies, etc.).

    Here is a link to Oxfam America (financial contributions will assist with providing food, clean water, medicine, and shelter).

    Here is a link to World Vision (same as above).

  • Next (and turning to the kids in this country), this tells us that Dem U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Dem U.S. House Rep George Miller and Repug U.S. House Rep Richard Hanna support the Strong Start for America’s Children Act – more follows…

    According to a draft, the bill would expand early childhood education from birth to age five over a decade. It would give states funding to expand preschool to all four-year-olds in low-income families who earn below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, or about $47,000 for a family of four, based on the number of children that would be served. States would also have to qualify by meeting quality standards and by already providing state-funded Kindergarten. The states would start out having to match 10 percent of the federal money and then increase that match to an equal share by the 10th year, although the match would be reduced for those that serve half or more of their eligible four-year-olds. If a state achieves universal access to preschool for four-year-olds, it could then start working on serving three-year-olds so long as that access remains for the older children.

    The bill doesn’t just address preschool, but also high-quality childcare for infants and young children. States could set aside 15 percent of the money for high-quality education and care for infants and toddlers. It would authorize a new partnership between Early Head Start and those who offer childcare to improve the quality of the care while changing the block grant that supports childcare so that it can raise the quality and ease eligibility. The Department of Health and Human Services would also convert Head Start programs that currently serve low-income four-year-olds into programs to serve three-year-olds and younger.

    The Think Progress post also tells us that the U.S. is 21st in the world when it comes to the percentage of GDP it spends on preschool, even though “the benefits of access to high-quality learning at a young age have been well documented,” as Think Progress points out.

    More on the bill can be found from here (a link to Congressman Miller’s web site).


    So what say you on this, Mikey the Beloved?

    Well, this links to the Education page of Fitzpatrick’s web site, where we learn that he supports tying student loan interest rates to the market, he also supports the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act, which is commendable– and of course, NO LABELS NO LABELS NO LABELS BLAH BLAH BLAH.

    If he comes out in favor of the Miller/Hanna legislation, I’ll update this post accordingly.

  • Continuing, I give you the following from Doug Schoen of Fix Noise…

    It’s official: ObamaCare is a failure.

    Data released by the administration shows that only 100,000 Americans have signed up while the administration has been touting a 500,000-person enrollment goal for October.

    Reuters is reporting that ObamaCare has only reached three percent of its enrollment target for 2014 in 12 states.

    “Hold me accountable for the debacle. I am responsible,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a House committee. And while I appreciate Secretary Sebelius’s willingness to take responsibility, we’re past the point where blame and pointing fingers will do us any good.

    We need a fresh start with health care. Going back to square one is the only way we’re going to make any progress. We still have an opportunity, albeit a waning one, to make this right.

    (By the way, I apologize for not being able to link back to Fix Noise on this. For some reason, the page this appeared on is no longer valid. A real head-scratcher, that.)

    And all of this from an operation that has not shown an iota of objectivity on this issue (and Schoen is very definitely a part of that regime).

    I think that more context is needed on this matter, and Think Progress provides some here (I realize that I’m echoing a lot of what they’ve posted recently – I see a lot of other good sites, but I don’t see anyone else doing their type of reporting on this stuff).

    To me, the most important takeaway from Igor Volsky’s post is that the enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Law reflect pretty much those of Commonwealth Care in 2007 (the coverage instituted in Massachusetts by then-Governor Willard Mitt Romney) and Medicare Part D under Dubya.

    (By the way, Schoen actually has a bit of a point in highlighting what President Clinton said about the Affordable Care Act numbers. I don’t mean that to second what Schoen says in any way, but only to respectfully add in response that The Big Dog should shut his trap on this, particularly since his commendable expansion of children’s health insurance in 1997 followed a similar enrollment pattern also.)

    It should also be noted from here that those in need of medical coverage still view the Affordable Care Law favorably, and as noted here, the Kaiser Family Foundation (the only people who should be trusted when it comes to measuring public response on this as far as I’m concerned) tells us that, based on their data, approval of health care reform is “inching upward,” and non-Republicans basically aren’t excited by all of the breathless “reporting” out there when it comes to web site glitches and what not.

    Oh, and just as a reminder, this tells us how much of a “Democrat” Doug Schoen really is.

  • Further (and sticking with the health care law), I give you this from The Hill…

    A House bill that would allow insurance companies the option of offering old healthcare plans is gaining dozens of co-sponsors ahead of a vote this week.

    Sixty-eight House members signed on to the bill Tuesday alone, giving the measure sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) a total of 156 co-sponsors.

    Nearly all of the sponsors so far are Republicans, but two Democrats have joined the Keep Your Health Plan Act: Reps. John Barrow (Ga.) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.). Both are top 2014 targets for the GOP; each Democrat represents a district easily won by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.

    This is a really difficult issue, made so in no small part because of our utterly brain-dead corporate media which refuses to do its job of educating and informing us, though I admit this matter is pretty convoluted at times. So I, in my admittedly imperfect manner, will try to do so here.

    (And by the way, to prove my point, the news networks with initials for names could provide some historical context to similar legislation as Igor Volsky at Think Progress did previously. Short of that, they could also point out that it’s ridiculous to hold Obama responsible for the machinations of private insurers, though admittedly he was a bit mush-mouthed on the whole question of whether or not we would keep our health care plans or have to look for coverage on an exchange; one again, those who seek to undermine him have found some new, creative way to do so and give the majority of the country the old “middle finger raised on high” in the process.)

    To begin, this tells us that there are two competing bills out there when it comes to people keeping their health insurance coverage. The bill by Sen. Mary Landrieu, while imperfect, represents a workable “bridge,” I think, to help with the transition. However, the Upton bill supported by Barrow and McIntyre is yet another back-door attempt to undermine the law by making “grandfathered” coverage permanent (here).

    This is a typical move for Barrow and McIntyre, by the way; as noted here, they opposed the Affordable Care Law from the beginning (also noted here). And Barrow actually benefitted from campaign funds from the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce in the 2010 election cycle, when 21 incumbent Dems were defeated in U.S. House races because our media fell in love with the racist-sign-and-funny-hat crowd and the Repugs claimed that they would be better at managing the economy (here).

    As for McIntyre, this “Democrat” voted with the Repugs here for that typically idiotic bill to prevent DHS from using taxpayer dollars to buy and stockpile ammunition until they provide a “comprehensive report” to Congress on its ammunition usage, purchase history and contracting practices (authored by Teahadist Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who, more than anyone else, is to blame for the government shutdown…he authored that letter to Obama saying he, and 79 of his playmates, would block a continuing resolution to keep the government going unless “Obamacare” was defunded – by the way, the DHS bill was a paean to the Teahadists who were worried that that danged li-bu-ruul Obama was going to use that agency to seize all of the ammunition instead of taking their guns away – yep, crazy is as crazy does).

    Oh, and speaking of the shut down, McIntyre was one of the U.S. House Dems who sponsored government “a la carte” during the shutdown, along with Barrow, on at least one related vote here (way to fold like card tables, people…maybe the reason why your seats are “weakly held” is because you lack the courage of what are supposed to be your convictions).

    And this tells us how Barrow and McIntyre voted to cut renewable energy funding (by the way, this Daily Kos post to me is shocking because Mikey the Beloved actually does something good here, and that is to support the Army Corps of Engineers in changing current guidance on how the federal government defines waters subject to the Clean Water Act, and yes, this is a good thing in this context…of course, Mikey probably knew the bill wouldn’t pass in this House, so it’s not as if he’ll ever have to pay a price for it, and can instead try to burnish some imaginary “centrist” cred here).

    Also, Barrow and McIntyre both voted in favor of H 368 Section 2 to defund the government, as noted here.

    I realize that, were we to lose John Barrow and Mike McIntyre, it would be a harder road for the Dems to eventually retake the House. But with votes like these, I cannot possibly imagine why we should spend any money whatsoever or contribute anything else to help them in their upcoming campaigns (and as usual, what Digby sez here – h/t Atrios).

  • Buckyballs

  • Finally, I came across an Op-Ed in the Murdoch Street Journal written by former Bushie Nancy Nord about the so-called “Buckyballs” case – I can’t link to it unless I subscribe (too funny), so I went to Nord’s blog instead to read more about it (here)…

    A number of manufacturers make small powerful magnet desk toys and manipulatives. Buckyballs had the largest share of that market. Even though Buckyballs were not intended for or primarily sold to children, when reports of ingestion started coming in, the company making them, Maxfield and Oberton, stepped up with an aggressive safety education program to warn against the danger of children swallowing powerful magnets.

    Even though that education program was fully discussed with and encouraged by the agency, the CPSC then demanded a recall and decided to sue the company when it disagreed with its demand—all before the safety education program could be fully put into place. A principle tenet of the agency’s case is that warnings were not sufficient to protect the public. Yet, the only evidence it has to support that contention is its speculative conclusions, since the aggressive safety campaign envisioned by the industry was prematurely shut down by the agency.

    “Aggressive safety campaign envisioned by the industry”? As noted here, Craig Zucker, the head of Maxfield and Oberton (the company that made Buckyballs) apparently had at least one opportunity to get this product off the market in 2010; despite that, he still wasn’t able, apparently, to market this product or package it in a way that protected kids, enough to prevent the choking and digestion problems like the ones encountered this year.

    And as I read more about this, I found out that this case has become sort of a lightning rod for the wingnuts, who of course perpetually hate any “big gumint regulation” of any kind (here, though I admit that there is a bit of a twist noted below)…

    Over the last three weeks, more than 2,200 people have placed orders for $10-to-$40 sets of magnetic stacking balls, rising to the call of a saucy and irreverent social media campaign against a government regulatory agency.

    The money from the sales of the so-called Liberty Balls goes to a legal-defense fund. At the crux of the battle is an arcane legal tussle that has caught the attention of a number of mainstream business organizations and free-market legal groups.

    It involves an effort by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall Buckyballs, sets of tiny, powerfully magnetic stacking balls that the magazines Rolling Stone and People once ranked on their hot products lists.

    Last year, the commission declared the balls a swallowing hazard to young children and filed an administrative action against the company that made the product, demanding it recall all Buckyballs, and a related product called Buckycubes, and refund consumers their money. The company, Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, challenged the action, saying labels on the packaging clearly warned that the product was unsafe for children.

    But the fuss now has less to do with safety. After Maxfield & Oberton went out of business last December, citing the financial toll of the recall battle, lawyers for the product safety agency took the highly unusual step of adding the chief executive of the dissolved firm, Craig Zucker, as a respondent in the recall action, arguing that he controlled the company’s activities. Mr. Zucker and his lawyers say the move could ultimately make him personally responsible for the estimated recall costs of $57 million.

    While the “responsible corporate officer” doctrine (also known as the Park doctrine) has been used frequently in criminal cases, allowing for prosecutions of individual company officers in cases asserting corporate wrongdoing, experts say its use is virtually unheard-of in an administrative action where no violations of law or regulations are claimed.

    So the reason why Zucker is manufacturing his so called “Liberty Balls” (akin to “Freedom Fries” or “Freedom Toast” from back in the day, apparently) is to raise money for his legal defense over what appears to be a highly unusual action by the CPSC, naming him as a respondent in the recall of his dangerous product.

    The Times also tells us the following…

    Conservative legal groups like Cause of Action, a nonprofit that targets what it considers governmental overreach, have been watching the proceedings with interest and weighing taking some action.

    “This really punishes entrepreneurship and establishes a bad precedent for businesses working to create products for consumers,” said Daniel Z. Epstein, the group’s executive director. “It undermines the business community’s ability to rely upon the corporate form.”

    Mr. Epstein once worked for a foundation run by Charles G. Koch, who, with his brother David, has funded numerous conservative and antigovernment or antiregulatory causes. He would not disclose the donors behind Cause of Action. The Washington Legal Foundation, which promotes pro-business and free-market positions, has weighed in with a background paper titled “C.P.S.C.’s Misuse of R.C.O. Doctrine Bodes Ill for C.E.O.’s and Consumers.”

    So of course the Koch Brothers have found a way to worm themselves into this mess.

    Anyone have any idea why the CPSC would do such a thing? I would guess that the following provides a hint (here)…

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission, stymied in attempts to get a manufacturer to foot the bill, persuaded several prominent retailers to voluntarily join the agency in a recall of Buckyballs, the super-magnet desk toys which have seriously damaged the intestines of children who swallow them.

    The CPSC sought the cooperation of retailers after the manufacturer of Buckyballs abruptly dissolved the company late last year. The agency tried unsuccessfully to get the former CEO of Buckyballs to pay for the recall, and has sued the corporate parent, Maxfield & Oberton, in an administrative complaint.

    To me, it sounds like the CPSC was actually being pretty damn vigilant, taking action to get a dangerous product off the market while the owner of that product apparently didn’t want to be bothered with aiding in that effort (and again, there had been a recall three years earlier, so Zucker should have been aware that there could still be a problem…and yes, I know we’re not really talking about a toy per se, but we’re still talking about something that is a danger to the public).

    And speaking of that, while we’re supposed to be preoccupied with shareholder return or possibly damaging this country’s entrepreneurial spirit or whatever, it might be a good idea to consider the damage these “Buckyballs” have caused (from here)…

    9 year old girl was playing with an antique/toy lamp that used buckyball magnets as the string to pull the light on, took some of the magnets and placed in her mouth, accidentally swallowed about 5-7 of them. Patient underwent multiple exposures to radiation via XRays, anesthesia, and an endoscopy in an attempt to retrieve them. Magnets were in small intestine by the time endoscopy was performed, required more XRays to follow magnets around the bowel. Fortunate for the child, they passed without incident.

    The doctor stated that her 2 years old patient swallow 62 rare earth magnets and suffered intestinal perforation. The doctor stated it’s believed that the incident happened while the child was playing with the magnets without supervision.

    The doctor stated that the 62 magnets were removed from his intestines and stomach. The child was currently admitted at the intensive care unit and will be in the hospital for approximately 5-7 days. The doctor stated that soon after his release from the hospital the child would have to follow up with the pediatric surgeon as well as with his regular pediatrician.

    Ingestion of 4 bucky ball magnets. Patient presented to the emergency department with abdominal pain and distension, decreased oral intake and vomiting. The magnets were removed from the colon endoscopically.

    Caller states that he is a physician and attended twelve year old boy who put thirty 5mm magnetic balls into his urethra and into his bladder.

    Physicians attempted to remove the Bucky balls using a cystoscope for greater than one hour but this was unsuccessful with only three being removed and a one and a half hour surgery was performed by cutting into his stomach to his bladder for removal of the remaining twenty seven balls.

    Child was in Yale New Haven Hospital overnight then returned home.

    Caller wanted to report this action so that CPSC would have knowledge of other ways that magnetic balls can be dangerous for young people.

    I actually found myself becoming enraged as I read about this, I have to admit; I know I’ve got a mile or two on the odometer, as the saying goes, but I can remember a time when we would say or do anything and spare no expense to protect our kids from danger of any kind, and the hell with how much somebody responsible for that danger has to pay or what punishment they have to undergo (I’ve got two words to say in response to the “punish(ing) entrepreneurship” crap, and they’re not Happy Birthday).

    And how utterly typical, by the way, for Nancy Nord to leap to Zucker’s defense.

    And that is because Nord was possibly the very worst head of the Consumer Products Safety Commission who has ever held the office (as I know I’ve said before, in addition to Iraq, 9/11, tilting the Supreme Court in favor of corporations into remote posterity and its other horrendous judicial appointments, Bushco’s worst legacy is the fact that they managed to install some of the very worst human beings imaginable as heads of federal agencies…see Norton, Gale; Kempthorne, Dirk; Chertoff, Michael; Brown, Michael; Doan, Lurita, Chao, Elaine, and Nord, along with too many others).

    As noted here

  • Nord blew off a hearing on defective toys because the hearing also would have included the testimony of child safety advocates (and Nord’s CPSC didn’t decide to test products until an incident was reported, and they negotiated every word of a recall alert with the manufacturer of a defective product).
  • Her CSPC was clearly understaffed and underfunded, where a “fox running the hen house” mentality ran rampant (oh, and she actually opposed a bill that would have increased the funding of her agency).
  • She also blew off pool safety alerts, and this tells you about Nord’s far-less-than-stellar response on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (or CPSIA) of 2008.
  • So go ahead and tell me how much the Consumer Products Safety Commission is supposedly guilty of regulatory overreach in the “Buckyballs” case, and how we’re unjustly attacking poor Craig Zucker, who apparently couldn’t be bothered to aid in the recent recall when it was found out just how dangerous his product really was.

    Actually, Zucker could do me a little favor if he wanted to (I’m sure he doesn’t), and I would take it easy on him from that point forward.

    He could actually pay a visit to the child who had to have his stomach cut open to his bladder to remove Zucker’s stinking product.


  • Wednesday Mashup (7/24/13)

    July 24, 2013
  • Time to “bring the crazy” once more (here)

    Attorney General Eric Holder – the first and only sitting Cabinet member in 225 years to be cited for contempt of Congress – has politicized the United States Department of Justice to the breaking point.

    Shortly after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman innocent of murder on Saturday night, Holder announced that DOJ would conduct a criminal civil rights investigation.

    The FBI had previously conducted a lengthy investigation that found no evidence that Trayvon Martin’s death stemmed from racial motives.

    Disregarding the Florida jury and the FBI, Holder is prolonging a deeply unjust and unwarranted investigation in response to demands from Rev. Al Sharpton and his ilk.

    Holder has no legal grounds on which to stand. The federal government’s limited constitutional powers do not extend to commonplace murders, whose prosecution is the job of the states.

    The authors of this piece of dookey from Fix Noise are former Bushies John C. “Torture” Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, and Robert J. Delahunty, former special counsel to our prior ruling cabal.

    To me, this is particularly amusing (in a dark kind of way, I’ll admit) given the fact that, as noted here, Yoo and Delahunty once collaborated on “secret legal opinions” that “included assertions that the president could use the nation’s military within the United States to combat terrorism suspects and to conduct raids without obtaining search warrants.”

    And they say that Eric Holder has “politicized the United States Department of Justice to the breaking point.”

    Pot, meet kettle.

    Besides, as noted here from Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page, Holder is blamed for not doing enough on the Trayvon Martin murder (with the claim that the tip line on George Zimmerman is pretty much lip service from the Obama Administration on this issue).

    Geez, wingnuts, will you please get your propaganda straight?

  • Next, I don’t really have a lot to add, but I wanted to highlight the following from U.S. House Rep (and Senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee) George Miller of California here (telling us that “fourteen members of Congress voted to keep millions of dollars of their own federal farm subsidies but not to extend nutrition aid for low-income working families”)…

    …14 Republican members of Congress, who each voted for a Farm Bill that excluded a nutrition title for the first time in four decades, have received more than $7.2 million in government farm subsidies, or an average of $515,279 in handouts. At the same time, they have a combined net worth of as much as $124.5 million, according to public records.

    In stark contrast, the typical household receiving aid under the farm bill through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has a gross monthly income of only $744, and their average monthly SNAP benefit—which every member detailed in this report voted against extending— is just $281.

    And the fourteen are (drum roll, please)…

    Robert Aderholt (AL-04)

    Blake Farenthold (TX-27)

    Stephen Fincher (TN-08)

    Vicky Hartzler (MO-04)

    John Kline (MN-02)

    Doug LaMalfa (CA-01)

    Tom Latham (IO-03)

    Frank Lucas (OK-03)

    Cynthia Lummis (WY-AL)

    Randy Neugebauer (TX-18)

    Kristi Noem (SD-AL)

    Marlin Stutzman (IN-03)

    Mac Thornberry (TX-13)

    David Valadao (CA-21)

    I’ll keep an eye on these characters, probably most of whom are Teahadists; hopefully, as worthy Dems come forward to challenge them, I’ll be able to update this post accordingly.

  • Continuing, it looks like, when it comes to the whole “liberals are as bad as conservatives, and to prove it, here is more false equivalence” beat, Politico is on it, all right (here)…

    For the first time in Colorado history, two state lawmakers will face recall elections for their support of tougher gun control measures.

    Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on Thursday setting the date for the recall elections of the pair of Democratic state senators.

    Under pressure of a campaign by the NRA, Senate State President John Morse and Pueblo Sen. Angela Giron will face the first recall effort in Colorado history.

    Oh noes! Could it be that Dems are facing electoral trouble for supporting common-sense gun legislation?

    Uh, no (well, not to this point anyway) – as noted here from about a week ago…

    Today, Mother Jones is reporting on the status of recall campaigns backed by the NRA after Colorado Democrats dared to pass stronger gun laws in their state.

    This sort of fight is to be expected, if laws to curb gun violence are passed anywhere — after all, the NRA and its gunmaker masters profit from gun violence coming and going. They need gun violence to encourage sales, both from the violent and those afraid enough to get their own guns.

    And while I don’t mean to make light of the recall campaigns in Colorado, it’s good to see that they haven’t worked out very well so far.

    There’s more from the Mother Jones story linked to the Daily Kos post, including the precious little item about Jaxine Bubis, running against state senate president John Morse, and her foray into erotic fiction (let me guess – “The elongated barrel shimmered and glistened, sleek, cool and confident. He revealed it to me for only an instant before he shoved it into the holster fastened against his hip, tied to the inside of his muscular thigh. He kept the firing pin at the ready, cocked, if you will.”).

    OK, I’ll stop.

    And oh yeah, did you know that Colorado apparently wants to secede from itself? As noted here

    “The people of rural Colorado are mad, and they have every right to be,” U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, Colo., told Denver’s 9 News last month. “The governor and his Democrat colleagues in the statehouse have assaulted our way of life, and I don’t blame people one bit for feeling attacked and unrepresented by the leaders in our state.”

    Bless Gardner’s pointed little Repug head – surprised that he somehow didn’t make the list of 14 above. But not to worry

    This sounds like it’s going in the same direction as the Repug efforts to recall Democrats in Wisconsin who stood up to Gov. Hosni Mubarak Walker, as noted here (and let us do what we can to ensure the same result in both states by clicking here – the recall election in Colorado against Morse and Giron is scheduled for September 10th).

    Update 7/29/13: Fine – go ahead and shoot each other, wingnuts, but leave everybody else alone, OK (here).

  • Further, in case anyone out there was wondering what former Repug U.S. House Rep (and one-time presidential candidate – no, really) Thad McCotter was up to…well, wonder no more.

    Here, he opines on the sad story of The Motor City, which, as we know, recently declared bankruptcy. However, if you’re looking for a way forward from “Mad Thad,” keep looking (instead, he offers what one would consider the typical bromides, such as the following)…

    Only when this realization – this practical optimism – is matched to Detroit’s titanic resilience will the redemption commence. If bankruptcy is viewed as a challenge rather than an epitaph, an abandoned property will become an opportunity, a humble hope will become a bustling shop, a neighborhood will become a community, a community will become a family, and a redeemed Detroit will become a reality.

    Oh, and I also give you this…

    As our city has gone from “The Arsenal of Democracy” to the “Motor City” to the “The D” to “The Done,” Detroit’s outlook has become one of pessimistic resilience; she expects the worst and works to survive it. Integral to this ability to survive is the capacity to detach herself from the worst as it occurs. To wit, Detroit’s gut reaction to the “news” the city is bankrupt was? “No shit.”

    Such language from a supposedly up-standing Catholic like Thad; what a bold and brazen article!

    Oh, and let’s not forget this too…

    Finally, admittedly: as a longstanding object of national derision, Detroit knows that in some quarters her bankruptcy has been met with gloating. Fine, but know this: if she does not rise from these ashes, Detroit will become an ominous milestone of American decline, from which no quarter will be spared.

    The notion that Detroit’s fall will necessarily trigger a wave of big-city bankruptcies in this country was debunked here by Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (Professor Krugman had a word or two to say about that here). Yes, there is much to do when it comes to investing in this country (jobs, infrastructure, etc.), but while the checklist is pretty long, that doesn’t mean that we have cause for a panic.

    Turning to someone like McCotter on these matters is a stretch anyway, though; I realize that, being a Michigan resident, he’s a candidate for a column like this, but he’s no stranger to wingnut demagoguery – as noted here, he once provided a lesson in “how to speak Democrat,” let’s not forget (charming).

    Duncan_Donuts2
    And by the way, speaking of The Daily Tucker (where McCotter’s piece originated), it looks like, based on the above pic, it is still in need of a copy editor.

  • Finally, it’s time to turn to matters in PA-08, where we in these parts are of course represented by Repug “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick; this recent Guest Opinion from his PR factory tells us the following…

    As our nation’s economy begins to recover, it is imperative that the United States bring manufacturing jobs back to America. This goal has been at the top of my agenda, And so I was pleased to read the series published in the Courier Times and Intelligencer: “Made in the USA.”

    The series highlighted local, small businesses and the importance of domestic manufacturing and its impact on manufacturers’ bottom line, their employees, customers, and communities.

    And from that point, Mikey launches into an entire self-congratulatory narrative about his supposedly tireless focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs,” including this…

    According to my revitalization plan, “Made in America,” stands for quality, value, and ingenuity — all important to industry, and ones clearly conveyed through the newspaper’s “Made in the USA” series. Without a doubt, the role of government is important. To bring manufacturing back to America, we must promote a variety of federal and national initiatives: lowering taxes and promoting certainty to encourage businesses to remain in the United States, reining in overreaching ineffective and onerous federal regulation to help businesses grow, engaging in “Buy American” and other pro-growth initiatives, and encouraging workforce development.

    Umm, I don’t really see bringing down unemployment anywhere in that list (which is, of course, nothing but RNC boilerplate anyway). Do you?

    And get a load of this…

    In Congress I’ve supported countless bills that empower small businesses and manufacturers, some of which resulted from my meetings with business owners, manufacturers and workers in Bucks and Montgomery counties.

    And I’m sure some of those supposedly countless bills to invigorate the economy were noted here.

    Here are a couple of questions; if Fitzpatrick supposedly cares so much about the economy, then why didn’t he encourage his Repug “leadership” of “Man Tan” Boehner and that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor to schedule votes on two bills that could make a difference – the Workforce Investment Act sponsored by Dem John Tierney of Massachusetts (here) and the Innovative Technologies Assessment Act sponsored by Chris Van Hollen of Maryland (here)? Or, better yet, why didn’t he sign on as a co-sponsor to one or both of the bills (Dem senior House Rep Steny Hoyer also had some good ideas – some of which dovetail with Mikey’s a bit – here…of course, Hoyer had his at least three months prior to Mikey’s).

    More typical for the party in charge of the House, though, are stories like this one, where congressional Dems walked out on an Education and Workforce Committee hearing run by chairman John Kline of Minnesota; Kline was trying to consolidate 35 job-training bills apparently without much Dem input and designating them for funding to the states as block grants (and indiscriminately cutting funding for the bills in the process). To me, this is asking for trouble (Kline’s actions, I mean).

    Indeed, when actual economists (as opposed to Beltway talking heads) are asked about the impact of the Repugs’ supposed “jobs, jobs, jobs” agenda, we find out that it won’t, in fact, create actual, like, y’know…jobs, as noted here (and more on Mikey when it comes to this subject can be read from here).

    Something tells me, however, that Mikey and his PR factory at the Courier Times are getting a little skittish about next year’s election. I’m not sure what else could explain the paper’s “hit piece” of an Op-Ed that it printed yesterday on Kevin Strouse, who could be considered the front-runner at this point in the Democratic primary for the right to face Mikey in the general election (the supposedly august Courier Times Op-Ed board said that they don’t have confidence in Strouse, even though they apparently have spent no time whatsoever yet actually talking to him).

    The editorial did follow the standard anti-Dem formula, though…

    Reference to Nancy Pelosi? Check.
    Sneaky inference that that’s where he gets all of his campaign dough? Check.
    Note that he’s not a “longtime resident” of Bucks County? Check.
    Statement that he’s a product of “pure party politics” (as if Fitzpatrick isn’t)? Check.

    This is all the more reason to support Strouse, as far as I’m concerned (or Shaughnessy Naughton – either Dem would be better than two more years of Mikey the Beloved).

    To help Kevin Strouse, click here.


  • 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 (3/7/13)

    March 7, 2013
  • Another day, another supposed “scandal” according to Fix Noise (here)…

    President Obama’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is already running into resistance from the fossil fuel industry over concerns that she would escalate a “war” on oil, coal and natural gas.

    EPA veteran Gina McCarthy was one of three nominees Obama announced at the White House late Monday morning. He also tapped MIT scientist Ernest Moniz to head the Energy Department and Walmart’s Sylvia Mathews Burwell as his next budget chief.

    All will have to undergo Senate confirmation. And McCarthy — given her background and the controversial nature of the agency she wants to lead — could face the toughest screening.

    “Today’s announcement that the president wants Gina McCarthy to serve as the next EPA administrator is a clear indication that the administration will continue a war on affordable energy,” Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, said in a statement.

    Oh yes, the EPA is so “controversial,” isn’t it? How dare they do their best to ensure that our water is safe to drink, our air is safe to breathe, and our landscapes aren’t hopelessly fouled by toxic waste! Damn tree huggers…

    Oh, and I almost forgot this choice item…

    Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said the nomination makes clear that Obama “wants to continue pursuing an aggressive climate agenda at EPA.”

    I guess “aggressive climate agenda” is wingnut code for making sure that we don’t take a deep breath and end up coughing up a lung as we exhale, in addition to being exposed to airborne particulates that could cause (or exacerbate) asthma, chronic bronchitis or heart disease, among other health concerns (I mean, it has to be that since, according to Inhofe, God has protected us from man-made global warming – really).

    And speaking of Inhofe…well, he once said that “I supported Regina McCarthy’s nomination today because I think she possesses the knowledge, experience, and temperament to oversee a very important office at EPA” (here, in a post that also includes praise of McCarthy from the following other Repugs: former CT governor Jodi Rell, former Ohio U.S. Senator George Voinovich, and Charles Warren, a former top EPA regulator who now represents industries such as steel companies).

    I think McCarthy deserves the benefit of the doubt thus far, though this could end up to be yet another case of the Repugs getting exactly what they want but carrying on with their caterwauling like spoiled brats anyway.

  • Next, I give you the following item based on the recent passing of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez…

    In a longer statement on his website, (Dem U.S. House Rep Jose) Serrano acknowledged that Chavez was a “controversial leader.” The New York lawmaker insisted Chavez helped Venezuela, because he tried to help the poor and disenfranchised. Serrano invited him to visit his district in 2005.

    The Republican National Committee pounced on Serrano’s tweet, issuing a statement that it was “simply insulting that a Democrat congressman would praise the authoritarian ruler Hugo Chavez.” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., told WPLG in Miami that she is “ashamed” by the comments made by Serrano and Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass.

    The Florida congresswoman singled out Kennedy because he issued a statement saying his “thoughts and prayers are with President Chavez’s family.” Ros-Lehtinen told the Miami TV station that condolences should go to Venezuelans who came to America to escape the Chavez regime.

    I will acknowledge that Chavez was one of these “one step forward, two or three steps back” kind of guys who rose to power pledging aid to the poor, and he delivered on that a bit, though he also did a poor job of managing his country’s economy as it transitioned from a “bubble to bust” cycle, typical for a country upon which oil remains a key exported commodity. And as Think Progress reminds us here, Chavez also demonized his opposition, attacking the press when it dared to criticize him, and he also helped to cultivate a particularly virulent strain of anti-Semitism.

    However, Ros-Lehtinen has no room to be “ashamed” of anybody when it comes to freedom of speech (and yeah, “Democrat” congressman – funny one, RNC).

    If I were a resident of the Sunshine State, I’d be “ashamed” of her for claiming to care about jobs first and foremost but waging war on those dreaded lady parts instead, along with (of course) tax cuts and trying to overturn those pesky government regulations that are supposedly holding back our “job creators” (here).

    I would also be “ashamed” of her for first blasting Democrats for an anti-terrorism bill in response to the 9/11 Commission recommendations before she (and Steve King, her partner in wingnuttery) voted for the bill anyway (here).

    I would also be “ashamed” of her for supporting tax breaks for Big Oil and Social Security privatization (no evidence that she has ever changed her mind on that – here).

    Oh, and I think Ros-Lehtinen should also be “ashamed” of doing her part to scuttle the International Protecting Girls By Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010 (a bill which doesn’t even mention family planning or abortion, by the way, as HuffPo’s Amanda Terkel points out here). Or, as Conor Williams of the Washington Post pointed out, “How can Republicans explain efforts to defeat a human rights bill because of $67 million in potential spending while simultaneously pushing for a tax cut deal for wealthy Americans that will add $858 billion to the deficit? Is this at all credible?”

    When it comes to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and her playmates, if you even have to ask a question like that, chances are that you already know the answer.

  • Continuing, I wanted to point out the following here

    HARRISBURG – They can’t breathe. They don’t bleed. They don’t digest food.

    But, as Mitt Romney famously blurted, corporations are people – at least under the law. In theCitizens United decision in 2010, for instance, the Supreme Court recognized that corporations have the constitutional right of free speech, something most people assumed belonged to actual carbon-based life-forms.

    The court struck down limits on corporate election spending, ruling them the same as banning speech. It helped unleash an estimated $933 million in spending by outside groups and wealthy people in the 2012 presidential race.

    And that was why David Cobb was preaching in a steamy and too-small hotel meeting room at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit here Friday night, selling the salvation of a constitutional amendment that would restrict rights to “natural persons only,” giving government the power to regulate corporations, and declaring that campaign expenditures are not speech.

    “Corporations are ruling us, as surely as masters once ruled slaves, as surely as kings once ruled subjects,” said Cobb, a former Texas trial lawyer and 2004 Green Party presidential nominee. “We don’t have a functioning democracy in this country. The word we should be using is plutocracy. . . . It really chaps my hide.”

    Cobb is one of the leaders of Move to Amend, a sprawling coalition of lefty groups worried about the corrosive influence of money in politics and intent on upending Citizens United. More than that, Cobb said, the idea of legal personhood gives corporations disproportionate power over the political system.

    I applaud the efforts of Cobb and those who belong to the coalition – it’s a huge fight, but one that must be waged, I know.

    However, I wanted to take a very slight issue with something Cobb said below…

    Move to Amend is gathering force, with more than 272,000 supporters and 175 local affiliates, including one in Pittsburgh. Activists have persuaded 500 city and county governments to pass resolutions of support, including in Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre.

    The initiative would curb unions’ ability to finance campaigns, too.

    Support crosses political divisions. True-blue New Jersey’s Legislature backed a resolution, as did super-red Montana voters in a referendum – the same day they voted for Romney.

    “We’re true believers,” Cobb said in an interview. “We’re Elmer Gantry. We’re not going to compromise.”

    For the uninitiated, that’s a reference to the book by Sinclair Lewis in which the lead character was a charismatic huckster who once set out to become a lawyer but decided to turn to evangelism instead (played brilliantly by Burt Lancaster in the 1960 movie, for which he won an Academy Award). I’d be a little leery of invoking that kind of a comparison…just sayin’.

  • Further, someone named Michael Warren at The Weakly Standard criticized Bruce Braley, the Dem running to replace Iowa’s Tom Harkin for the latter’s U.S. Senate seat, for Braley’s claim that any proposed Senate budget has been filibustered; Warren says that only a simple majority is needed to pass a budget (here).

    That actually is true, shockingly enough. However, as noted here, the Senate needs to clear the 60-vote threshold to enact the budget (more parliamentary minutiae concerning “the world’s greatest deliberative body”…wonder how the DC punditocracy came up with that, by the way?).

    So that would make Braley partly right after all (and to find out more about Braley, click here).

  • Also, this tells us about the lawsuit that Beef Products, Inc. filed against ABC News, Diane Sawyer, and anyone else under the sun that has had anything to do with the term “pink slime” going viral concerning their meat product; I don’t really care about our supposedly august corporate media facing legal action, nor am I longing to hear another “gee whiz” account of social media in action doing good (though credit should go where it is supposed to, I know), but I do care about how BPI’s product ended up in supermarkets, school kitchens and fast food restaurants.

    And with that in mind, this 2009 New York Times story referenced in the Reuters account tells us the following:

    Eight years ago, federal officials were struggling to remove potentially deadly E. coli from hamburgers when an entrepreneurial company from South Dakota came up with a novel idea: injecting beef with ammonia.

    The company, Beef Products Inc., had been looking to expand into the hamburger business with a product made from beef that included fatty trimmings the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. The trimmings were particularly susceptible to contamination, but a study commissioned by the company showed that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella.

    Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the company’s ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli “to an undetectable level.” They decided it was so effective that in 2007, when the department began routine testing of meat used in hamburger sold to the general public, they exempted Beef Products.

    With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.

    But government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.

    Within the U.S.D.A., the treated beef has been a source of friction for years. The department accepted the company’s own study as evidence that the treatment was effective. School lunch officials, who had some doubts about its effectiveness, required that Beef Products meat be tested, as they do all beef used by the program.

    School lunch officials said that in some years Beef Products testing results were worse than many of the program’s two dozen other suppliers, which use traditional meat processing methods. From 2005 to 2009, Beef Products had a rate of 36 positive results for salmonella per 1,000 tests, compared to a rate of nine positive results per 1,000 tests for the other suppliers, according to statistics from the program. Beef Products said its testing regime was more likely to detect contamination.

    Well, that’s about what you would expect BPI to say, wouldn’t you?

    So who was the U.S.D.A. head who approved the scheme around 2002 to inject ammonia into the beef, leaving it tainted and rendered as “pink slime”? Why, that would be Bushco’s Ann Veneman.

    And who was in charge of the U.S.D.A. in 2007 when the decision was made to exempt Beef Products, Inc. from testing before selling their “Franken meat” to the general public? Why, that would be Bushco’s Mike Johanns (yeah, the same guy who passed that resolution defunding ACORN that was later ruled to be unconstitutional – here and here).

    Oh, and isn’t it just such a coincidence that BPI’s Eldon Roth was a “Top 10” contributor to Johanns during the latter’s career in public life, as noted here?

    Meanwhile, it looks like McDonald’s has ended its association with BPI and its “pink slime” burgers based on this, and we can thank UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver for that.

    What a shame that we can’t pursue any kind of action against Veneman and Johanns for this stuff (an appropriate sentence would be to force them to eat this garbage, keeping the stomach pumps at the ready if needed).

  • goldberg

  • Finally, I read this from The Doughy Pantload yesterday, and I really had to work hard to compose myself after doing so…

    One thing nearly everybody agrees upon is that the “sequester” is a silly sideshow to the real challenge facing America: unsustainable spending on entitlements. Ironies abound. Democrats, with large support from young people, tend to believe that we must build on the legacy bequeathed to us by the New Deal and the Great Society. Republicans, who marshaled considerable support from older voters in their so-far losing battle against ObamaCare, argue that we need to start fresh.

    Perhaps it’s time for both sides to consider an underappreciated fact of American life: The system we are trying to perpetuate was created for the explicit benefit of the so-called greatest generation, the most coddled and cared for cohort in American history.

    You son of a bitch…

    OK, let me back up and point something out here. As you can note from the rest of this post and what I generally try to do at this site, I often provide multiple links to content in the process of making my case.

    To respond to this contemptible gutter snipe, though, I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my family.

    My father was a World War II veteran who served in Europe for five years before he came home, went to college on the GI bill, and earned a Master’s degree before he began a lengthy and somewhat-high-profile career in government service. My mother was primarily a homemaker, though she also worked as an office manager in the medical field for many, many years (I was tempted to tell her about this garbage from Goldberg, but she’s in frail health and the last thing I want to do is cause some medical problem because of this idiot).

    And if you want to go back even further than that, my grandfather served in World War I. He was a member of the “Bonus March” (you can Google it) and ended up doing anything he possibly could when the Great Depression hit (dig ditches, selling pencils – he and my grandmother had to take on boarders when my mom was a little girl). None of this makes my family and I particularly special, I know.

    Oh yeah, The Great Depression – something Goldberg barely mentions in his ridiculous column. It went on for about 10 years, though it varied across the country. Around the middle of the 1930s it appeared to be letting up (in the days before credit cards, let’s not forget), but somebody came up with the bright idea of “austerity” (Past is Prologue 101) and it all went south again, with things starting to turn around at about 1938 or so (going from my mom’s recollections).

    So what happens when the Depression ends? Why only World War Freaking Two, that’s all (and yes, I know there’s a good argument to be made that that was really the end of the Depression, marking a return to full employment…I get that).

    So let’s jump ahead to 1945 or so (’46, in the case of my parents). Whoever survived the Depression and the war comes home and goes to work creating what will likely turn out to be the greatest run of peacetime industrial productivity and prosperity this country has ever seen, primarily for the “baby boomers” (I guess I’m bringing up the rear on that demographic, as they say).

    Now, I’m not going to buy into this Tom Brokaw “Greatest Generation” hagiography either; notwithstanding what I just pointed out, the men and women of my parents’ era were not beings descended from ivory towers or Doric temples. They were just dumped into inexplicably awful circumstances, showing legendary courage and resolve to be sure, but prone to imperfections, as are we all.

    However, you can rest assured that they were definitely not “the most coddled and cared for cohort in American history” either.

    And I’d like to venture a guess about something – if I were to ask some of them what they thought about what Goldberg said, I think they would probably feel more than a bit of disgust, but then they would derive satisfaction from the fact that they ended up building a way of life that allows a fungible little nematode like Goldberg the freedom to concoct this bile without fear of retribution from a fuhrer, emperor, or some other totalitarian leader.

    In other words, to use a somewhat misinterpreted phrase that grew trite over the last election, my parents “built it.”

    And the pride from that monumental accomplishment is something Goldberg will never, ever know or understand.


  • Tuesday Mashup (9/18/12)

    September 19, 2012
  • I know this is a bit behind the news cycle, what with Willard Mitt Romney basically writing off 47 percent of this country as believing that we’re “dependent” on government, or something (here…oh yeah, like Romney isn’t, insofar as “government” decides what his tax rate is), but I still think this needs to be discussed, particularly the following…

    Mitt Romney (sought) to bolster his support among Latino voters Monday with an address to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, hitting President Obama on the economy and vowing to reform the nation’s “broken” immigration system.

    “No one is exempt from the pain of this economy, but the Hispanic community has been particularly hard hit,” Romney will say, according to excerpts from his address. “While national unemployment is 8.1 percent, Hispanic unemployment is over 10 percent. Over 2 million more Hispanics are living in poverty today than the day President Obama took office.”

    Romney (touted) his economic plan, repeating pledges to “create 12 million jobs by the end of my first term” and vowing to balance the nation’s budget.

    Which I’m sure will happen when the Candyland Magic Spaceship arrives and The Sainted Ronnie R rises from the dead once and for all (still waiting for details, assuming they even exist)…

    “As business-men and -women, and as Hispanics, you understand the threat President Obama’s spending poses for our future,” says Romney. “Many Hispanics have sacrificed greatly to help build our country and our economy, and to leave for their children a brighter future. Today, those sacrifices are being squandered by a president who cannot stop spending.

    Too funny…and in the matter of who spent the most, Number 44 or Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, this tells us that Obama has flattened out the spending versus his ruinous predecessor.

    However, on the matter of the former Massachusetts governor and Hispanics, this tells us that Ann Romney wants Latino voters to get past their “biases,” this tells us how Romney’s policies would hurt Hispanics, and this tells us that The Mittster supports Crazy Steve King, who thinks it’s fine to build an electric, barbed-wire fence to keep out illegal aliens.

    Of course, if Mitt were to find enough Hispanic voters in the other 53 percent group (you know, the “job creators” living off their investment income who just feel oh so put upon because of the rabble clamoring for a “big gumint” handout which are pretty much table scraps by comparison – who should just “go Galt” and be done with it)…well, then that would be a whole other story, huh?

  • Next, it seems that James Sensenbrenner of the U.S. House is in high dudgeon over…well, I’ll let him explain it (here)…

    The latest mandate handed down from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is so ridiculous, even I was shocked. The EPA has now mandated how much gasoline you must buy at certain gas stations. Say hello to the Obama Administration’s four gallon minimum.

    This unprecedented EPA overreach applies when filling up at a gas station that provides both E15 and E10, gasoline with 15 or 10 percent of ethanol, respectively, from the same hose.

    At the insistence of the ethanol industry, the Obama Administration is pushing E15 into the marketplace, regardless of the serious concerns about the fuel’s impact on drivers. From its inception, E15 is a study in the consequences of government interference in the marketplace. The EPA’s decision to set a minimum purchase requirement is just the most recent example.

    Well, before a U.S. House Repug gets his or her shorts in the proverbial knot, let’s provide the following reminder (from here)…

    A 2007 U.S. law enacted under President George W. Bush known as the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS, requires refiners to mix 13.2 billion gallons of renewable fuels, such as ethanol, with gasoline in 2012 and 15 billion gallons by 2015.

    The Tulsa World story also tells us that lawmakers are trying to get the Obama White House to lower the standard because of the severe drought that has hit much of the south and Midwest this year, severely impacting corn yields (hard to imagine that Obama wouldn’t relent on this, particularly in an election year).

    And for the pro-ethanol point of view, I give you this

    Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the ethanol trade group Renewable Fuels Association, criticized the latest attack (from Sensenbrenner).

    “For nearly 30 years, ethanol has been a safe and effective component in gasoline use to the point that all engine makers today warranty their products for E10 use,” Hartwig said via email. “Nothing short of an end to America’s production of renewable fuels will satisfy those that share Mr. Sensenbrenner’s point of view. We don’t intend to let that happen.”

    And (from here)…

    More than 150 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, mostly Republicans representing poultry, cattle and dairy states, sent a letter to the EPA urging a waiver (of the EPA mandate). Twenty-five U.S. senators, about evenly divided by party, wrote a similar letter earlier. No Nebraska or Iowa member of Congress signed the letters.

    The waiver demands are not justified, (Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol) said.

    “The drought’s the problem, not the Renewable Fuel Standard,’’ he said.

    Oh, and for anyone who thinks that Sensenbrenner is a neutral observer here, I give you this; basically, he would love to see development of ethanol and other renewables come screeching to a halt for good.

    I have to admit that this whole matter puts me in a bit of a quandary, since I’m hardly the first person who will rush to defend corn-based ethanol, particularly in a year with this kind of bad weather affecting corn yields (I’d like to see corn on people’s dinner plates as opposed to inside their gas tanks). However, to me the environment trumps all other considerations; relax the EPA standard for now (I think, based on this, the science is pretty set on this issue), but don’t do away with it altogether.

    And if that hurts Sensenbrenner’s “war chest” any, then, as the Speaker of the House infamously stated, “so be it.”

  • Finally, this column from Clintonite Joel Klein and Bushco’s Margaret Spellings tells us the following…

    …America is now five years late in updating No Child Left Behind, the signature national education law governing K-12 public schools. While both of us agree that the law needs significant changes, the one thing it doesn’t need is to be ignored.

    …in response, I give you the following from the reality-based community (here)…

    The Obama administration has given 10 states a waiver from the federal law known as No Child Left Behind — once a bipartisan hope to raise education standards, but now generally regarded as too cumbersome and draconian.

    The White House announced the first round of waivers for 10 states Thursday morning. The administration had said that it would grant the waivers because efforts to revise the 10-year-old law have become bogged down in Congress even though members of both political parties agree that the law has problems and is in need of major changes.

    “After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child Left Behind, my administration is giving states the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility,” President Obama said in a statement released with the announcement.

    “Today, we’re giving 10 states the green light to continue making reforms that are best for them. Because if we’re serious about helping our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone. Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.”

    Obama is scheduled to make a formal announcement later Thursday and will call on Congress to go back to work on revising the law, which was designed to get students up to standards in reading and mathematics by 2014. States sought the waivers because they have been unable to meet the goal and could face sanctions from the federal government for the failure.

    The first states to receive the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee, the White House said. The administration said it is continuing to work with New Mexico, the only state not to receive a waiver in this first round.

    Twenty-eight other states along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have said they would seek a waiver.

    The states are all seeking waivers because they know that NCLB is an underfunded crock with thoroughly unattainable goals, pretty much a PR scam to help line the pockets of well-heeled players in the “learning” bidness (including a Bush family member, as noted here) who gave generously to our prior ruling cabal in the way of campaign donations.

    And of course, Spellings will defend NCLB to the bitter end, even though, as noted here, it piloted unproven programs such as “Reading First” to “promote teaching methods.” Also, Spellings fought the efforts of the Democratic U.S. House to reform NCLB (back when grownups were actually in charge, including our former PA-08 congressman Patrick Murphy), as noted here.

    Also, Spellings said that Head Start “must have strong ties to local school systems” or something, even though her boss proposed cutting Head Start by about $100 million in 2008, as Media Matters noted here.

    The June 2008 post above from yours truly noted that Spellings was once mentioned as a candidate to run for governor of Texas. To most functioning adults with a reasonably adequate brain capacity, this would seem to be a ludicrous notion.

    However, given this story of Spellings’ attack on a PBS cartoon character some years ago while plying her foul craft for her former handlers, it appears that she would be a perfect match for the job.


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