Friday Mashup (6/13/14)

June 13, 2014
  • This story tells us the following (about the recent idiocy in North Carolina Virginia where Phillip Puckett, a thoroughly compromised Dem in the state senate, agreed to resign for a plumb patronage job that he since has chosen not to accept, and let the Repugs take over that body, denying Medicaid expansion in that state)…

    Puckett’s resignation leads the way for him to get a job as deputy director of the state tobacco commission and for his daughter to be confirmed for a state judgeship. Depending on how you look at it, it’s politics at its worst — or best.

    “Republicans I’ve talked to are chortling,” Larry Sabato, founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told Business Insider. “They think it’s one of the cleverest things they’ve done.”

    “And yet,” he added, “one of them asked me, ‘Do you think Democrats would not have done the same thing if they had the opportunity?’ And of course they would have. It’s yet another reason people hate politicians.”

    Perhaps, but is there a recent example of such an occurrence? You know, engaging in political nonsense that could prevent nearly 400,00 people in the state of North Carolina from receiving health care (here)? And let’s see how many Repugs are “chortling” in light of this.

    And Sabato follows up with the following…

    “This is really about Obamacare,” Sabato said of the dispute. “Forget about Medicaid.”

    I realize that it’s Sabato’s job to comment on the “horse race” political stuff and not necessarily the wonky material about, you know, actual policy and legislation that makes a difference in people’s lives, but if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about on this issue (and he obviously doesn’t), then he should shut up.

    You see, the people affected by the treachery orchestrated by Puckett and the North Carolina Repugs are (again) primarily the poor in his state who are due to receive the benefits of “Obamacare” through Medicaid expansion. Arguing that the two are separate in this case is disingenuous at best and outright lying at worst.

    This is par for the ridiculous course when it comes to Sabato, though; as noted here, he once said that the Swift Boat liars who impugned John Kerry ten years ago (remember that one?) were telling the truth; he also said that it would be “a national disgrace” to continue “the Clinton/Bush dynasty” (another idiotic construct as far as I’m concerned; things were a hell of a lot better for me and everyone I know under Bill than under either of the Bushes); and he also said (in the post I linked to previously) that the Democrats are the “mommy” party while the Repugs are the “daddy” party.

  • Next, I give you some truly ripe stuff from Larry Kudlow (here)…

    The Democrats want a minimum-wage hike. That may sound great on the surface, but it’s actually a big job loser for the lowest-skilled and poorest among us. President Obama and his EPA have launched a war on coal, which will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs if implemented. And then there’s Obamacare, which the CBO estimates will cost at least 2.5 million jobs.

    I don’t know how Kudlow can make that claim about the minimum wage with any degree of seriousness whatsoever (much more on that is available from here).

    And as far as coal goes, I also don’t know how Kudlow can seriously make the claim that Obama has “launched a war on coal,” considering that his administration encourages coal burning by aggressively issuing permits to mine coal on federal land, especially the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, as noted here.

    But wait, there’s more…

    With coal demand at home expected to fall by 20 per cent due to new regulations, and competitive pressure from low-priced natural gas, coal companies are now pushing to increase exports to Asia. … Three new coal-export ports are being proposed for the Pacific coast: two in Washington state and one in Oregon. They could eventually ship up to 100 million tons of coal per year—an amountequivalent to the total volume of coal the U.S. will export this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA). …

    Environmentalists warn that emissions from that volume of coal would dwarf the savings from Obama’s new power plant rule.

    Since 2009, the Obama administration has sold leases for more than two billion tons of coal in the Powder River Basin for rates as low as $1 per ton, drawing the wrath of critics, including some in Congress, who say too much coal is being leased too cheaply. (Coal from the Powder River Basin is worth about $13 per ton.)

    As it reviews its long-term plans for the leases, which could eventually put another 10 billion tons of coal up for auction, the administration has so far resisted calls to include carbon emissions abroad in its decision-making.

    In addition, it looks like Kudlow is trying to propagandize once more about how the Affordable Care Law is a supposed job killer, when in reality (here)…

    The reduction in work hours that equates to 2.5 million jobs “stems almost entirely” from Americans deciding to work less or not at all in order to retain their eligibility for the Affordable Care Act’s expanded Medicaid coverage or government health insurance subsidies, the CBO analysis concludes.

    More on that is here; basically, we’re talking about a reduction in work hours that equates to 2.5 million jobs. Or, to give you an example close to home, maybe Mrs. Doomsy could continue to work on-call for about 20 hours or so a week if she qualified for “Obamacare” instead of having to work a minimum of 32 hours a week for her employer to get health insurance by that way instead (that’s partly a hypothetical and partly reality too, for the record).

    (Oh, and by the way, as you go to the polls later this year, please remember which political party was responsible for a near-catastrophic government shut down last year, and also remember who was one of the shut down’s biggest cheerleaders.)

  • Further, James Jay Carafano waxes hysterical as follows (here)…

    Iraq is a shambles. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Al Qaeda off-shoot that now controls nearly a third of the nation, continues to run amok.

    It’s way past time for the White House to get its head in the game. The disaster unfolding in Iraq and Syria could very quickly spiral into a much, much bigger problem. And some problems are so big that even our president can’t spin his way out.

    At the top of the list of what the administration should be worrying about—and preparing to deal with—is the potential for an endless three-way civil war in Iraq. With Sunni, Shia and Kurds fighting one another, it would look something like the civil war in Syria—on steroids.

    Of course, back during the supposedly glorious days of Iraq War II, no one could have predicted that the quagmire in Mesopotamia would turn out to be favorable to Iran. Right?

    In response, I give you James Jay Carafano in 2010 (here)…

    Here is what we know for sure. 1) Given the state of Iraq in 2006, the country is in a much better place today that any reasonable observer then dared hope. 2) Iraq is better off than it was in the age of Saddam. Now the country has a future, and it rests in the hands of its people. Bonus: The world is rid one of its most dangerous and bloodthirsty thugs. Yes, it was a heavy price. Freedom rarely comes cheap. 3) The surge worked. The surge never promised a land of “milk and honey.” It just promised to break the cycle of continuous, unrelenting violence, to give the new Iraqi political process a chance, and to allow the Iraqis time to build the capacity for their own security. It did that. 4) Things didn’t turn out the way Bush planned. But the vision — a free Iraq without Saddam — was achieved. Remember, things didn’t turn out the way FDR planned either. He said all the troops would be out of Europe in two years.

    By the way, Carafano wrote the above column on August 19th, the day that Obama announced that all combat operations would end by August 31st, with the full withdrawal scheduled for December 2011 (here). And after that, the attacks started to ramp up again.

    Here is my point – if Carafano said that “this is the way history works” in 2010, acting like he was OK with what Obama was doing, then wasn’t Carafano just as wrong then as he thinks Obama is now (and personally, I think Obama was correct, as opposed to Carafano)?

  • Continuing, I came across this real whopper from Dr. Ben Carson (here – page 2)…

    Over the past year, I have learned a great deal about the press in America. It is not uniformly unfair with nefarious agendas, but a significant portion is. One of the best ways to determine which news organizations are objective and which have an agenda is to keep a scorecard that lists both electronic and print media. When evaluating a story, check off whether it is concentrating on factual reporting or demonization. If there is controversy, determine whether both points of view are considered. If major stories of a political nature are ignored or barely mentioned, that should raise suspicions about objectivity.

    You know what? I think Carson is actually onto something here. So, following up on his idea of a “score card,” I came up with the following…

    Story Demonization Factual Reporting
    Here Carson compares gay men and women to bestiality supporters. Bestiality is abhorrent to the gay community and just about every other life form that I know of (duuuh!).
    Here The VA scandal is “A gift from God” according to Carson. The VA scandal is a national bipartisan tragedy, owing primarily to the huge burden of treating our military personnel fighting two wars begun under the prior administration (not a criticism of our military in any way, of course – not their problem that Bushco was a gang of thugs who were asleep on 9/11).
    Here Carson compared the Affordable Care Law to “slavery.” Over 8 million (and counting) citizens of this country now have access to health care, many of whom had no access before.
    Here Carson once said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was right to call America “godless.” Why should we take seriously supposed lessons in morality from a thug who annexed Crimea away from Ukraine (you can go in many other directions here, I’ll admit).
    Here Carson invokes Lenin (no, not the Beatle) in attacking the Affordable Care Law. Sigh – is this really necessary anymore?

    Of course, if you want to do any research about Carson on your own, dear reader (trying to determine “factual reporting” vs. “demonization” without a visual aid, even the one as primitive as I provided), you can always just click here.

  • Update 6/14/14: Turning to Philadelphia-area stuff, it looks like a SEPTA transit strike is underway. I’m not totally familiar with all of the issues, though it apparently involves pension contributions and cost-of-living increases for transit workers (have to read more about it, as they say). It also looks like our illustrious governor, Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett, is going to ask Obama to appoint an executive-level commission, or something, to look into the matter, meaning that the striking workers will have to return to their jobs for a minimum of 240 days.

    I’m noting this particularly because of the following (here)…

    Bucks County Commissioner Charles H. Martin, who serves on SEPTA’s board of directors, said he was not aware of any plans by Bucks officials to handle potential traffic headaches.

    “Frankly, I don’t know what we could do,” he said.

    He said most people employed by the county and working in the county seat of Doylestown already drive to work, and would be unaffected by a Regional Rail strike.

    I know this may be hard for Mr. “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” to comprehend, but not all of the residents of Bucks County work in Doylestown (facepalm).

    Here’s a thought – why not try to encourage businesses to arrange staggered shifts for their employees or set up/encourage telecommuting or flex time options? Do anything you can to try and alleviate further traffic problems that may result from the strike!

    God, what a maroon (Update 6/16/14 – Hopefully, though, the strike won’t be an issue based in part on this)…

  • Finally (and returning to Fix Noise), I give you the following here

    This week, the president is speaking and acting on the issue of student loans for higher education. He appears to truly believe that a college education is important and is taking executive action to help students pay for their education. This seems like a straightforward feel-good issue…except there is a painful irony hiding behind the president’s words and actions.

    A closer look at the president’s Department of Education, sadly, reveals an elitist streak when it comes to higher education. At the same time that the president is speaking grandly about helping students pay for college, his education department is moving forward on a regulation that would severely limit the opportunity for college for a certain type of student — those attending non-traditional, private-sector colleges.

    There’s a hell of a lot of “red meat” and “dog whistle” language in what I suppose is a column that’s primarily an editorial as opposed to actual news (Number 44 is “elitist” and “classist,” etc., whatever the hell that means).

    I suppose this Jean Card person from Fox is responding to this news story (including the following)…

    The Obama administration is proposing to tighten oversight of for-profit colleges through new rules that seek to limit how much debt students can amass in career-training programs.

    The proposal, announced Friday, is the administration’s second try at regulations setting standards for what colleges must do to ensure that graduates of career programs get “gainful employment.”

    The first gainful employment initiative, debated from 2009 to 2011, spawned a huge campaign by for-profit colleges to block new regulation. The colleges, supported by many congressional Republicans and some Democrats, said then that they had been unfairly targeted and that the initiative would hurt low-income students.

    Obama administration officials said they were trying to protect those students from low-quality programs that would saddle them with too much debt.

    The Education Department issued a rule in 2011 that set standards for loan-repayment rates and the ratio of graduates’ debt to income. Programs that failed the tests could be disqualified from participation in the federal student aid, which would essentially shut them down. But in 2012, a federal judge blocked major provisions of that rule, forcing the department to start over.

    The new proposal jettisons the repayment-rate metric. Instead, it would require that the estimated loan payments of typical graduates not exceed 20 percent of discretionary income or 8 percent of total annual income.

    If someone has a principled disagreement with what Obama is trying to do here, then I honestly get that. I do support the president on this, I wish to emphasize, because I don’t see anyone else out there lifting a finger to try in rein in student debt.

    More information on this is available from here, including the following…

    A year ago, President Obama set a national goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. But because of the high costs of college, about two-thirds of graduates take out loans with an average student debt of over $23,000. This debt is particularly burdensome for graduates who choose to enter lower-paying public service careers, suffer setbacks such as unemployment or serious illness, or fail to complete their degree.

    To ensure that Americans can afford their student loan payments, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act gives student borrowers new choices in how they repay their loans. The initiative was developed by the Middle Class Task Force chaired by Vice President Biden, and it will expand the income-based repayment plan for federal student loans that was put in place last summer. More than 1.2 million borrowers are projected to qualify and take part in the expanded IBR program.

    Under this new law, students enrolling in 2014 or later can choose to:

    Limit Payments to 10 Percent of Income: Borrowers choosing the income-based repayment plan will pay no more than 10 percent of their income above a basic living allowance, reduced from 15 percent under current law. The basic living allowance varies with family size and is set at 150 percent of the poverty line, currently equaling about $16,500 for a single individual and $33,000 for a family of four.

    ◦More than 1 million borrowers would be eligible to reduce their monthly payments.

    ◦The payment will be reduced by more than $110 per month for a single borrower who earns $30,000 a year and owes $20,000 in college loans, based on 2009 figures.

    Forgive Any Remaining Debt after 20 Years, or after 10 Years for Those in Public Service: Borrowers who take responsibility for their loans and make their monthly payments will see their remaining balance forgiven after 20 years of payments, reduced from 25 years in current law.

    ◦Public service workers – such as teachers, nurses, and those in military service – will see any remaining debt forgiven after 10 years.

    Fully Funded by Student Loan Reforms: These new initiatives are funded by ending the current subsidies given to financial institutions that make guaranteed federal student loans. Starting July 1, all new loans will be direct loans delivered and collected by private companies under performance-based contracts with the Department of Education. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, ending these wasteful subsidies will free up nearly $68 billion for college affordability and deficit reduction over the next 11 years.

    And by the way, let’s not forget that the ridiculous practice of paying subsidies to financial institutions for basically nothing as part of the student loan process was ended by congressional Democrats in March 2010, with nary a single Republican voting in support (here).

    Oh, and speaking of the “respectful opposition,” this tells us that Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao did what he does best, and that was to launch yet another filibuster, this time of the student loan legislation sponsored by Dem Senator Elizabeth Warren (“come back louder” indeed).

    And things are no better in the House, of course; I give you the following…

    Congressman Fitzpatrick votes to protect the ultra-wealthy and votes against making college more affordable for America’s students and families

    Today, Congressman Fitzpatrick voted with Republicans to block H.R. 4582 “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act,” the House version of Senator Warren’s companion bill that would allow students to refinance their loans at much lower rates than they are currently paying today.

    Congressman Fitzpatrick’s Republican budget charges students $40 billion more in loan interest, in order to pay for more tax breaks for those who need help the least, like special interests and the wealthiest Americans. Today’s vote was the latest in a record that clearly places the interests of banks above those of students.

    “Once again, Congressman Fitzpatrick gave us a clear view of his priorities when he voted with the Republicans against a bill that would lower the cost of education for students. Congressman Fitzpatrick has no problem standing up for tax breaks for the bankers and special interests he is supposed to regulate as a member of the House Financial Services Committee–but when it comes to helping Bucks County students and their families pay for college, Fitzpatrick turns his back on them” Strouse said.

    Strouse added, “Congressman Fitzpatrick continues to vote to protect the interests of wealthy bankers, while ignoring the needs of the middle-class. If America is going to succeed in a 21st century economy, we need to have the best-educated, best-trained workforce possible, and Congressman Fitzpatrick voting against making college more affordable for students in Pennsylvania’s 8th District is exactly the kind of representation we do not need in Washington.”

    ###

    Kevin Strouse is a former Army Ranger, CIA counterterrorism analyst, and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who lives in Middletown, Pa., with his wife, Amy, and two young children, Walter and Charlotte. He is currently Program Director of Teach2Serve, a non-profit that teaches social entrepreneurship to local high school students. He earned his BA from Columbia University and a Masters in Security Studies from Georgetown University, graduating with honors.

    To support Kevin Strouse in his campaign against Mikey the Beloved (and stand up on this among many other important issues), please click here.


  • Friday Mashup (8/30/13)

    August 30, 2013

    sexism-2

  • I came across this item from clownhall.com and columnist Walter Williams, and I thought it best to offer it pretty much with just my opinion on it and no links to other stuff (he’s upset because his employer, George Mason University – first sign of trouble – apparently has told him that he has to attend some kind of sexual harassment prevention training; sounds like it was mandated across the board for all university employees)…

    I’m guilty of gross violation of equality of opportunity, racism and possibly sexism. Back in 1960, when interviewing people to establish a marital contract, every woman wasn’t given an equal opportunity. I discriminated against not only white, Indian, Asian, Mexican and handicapped women but men of any race. My choices were confined to good-looking black women. You say, “Williams, that kind of discrimination doesn’t harm anyone!” Nonsense! When I married Mrs. Williams, other women were harmed by having a reduced opportunity set.

    I’ve read this paragraph about four times, and I still can’t totally get my head around (as they say) the unbelievable egotism of that remark, to say nothing of sexism.

    I will give Williams points for consistency, though. As noted here from about three years ago, he was cited by Ed Schultz for saying pretty much the same thing, equating mistreatment from a private business as the same thing as what one does when picking a spouse (at the time, he also complimented a caller for the caller’s wife being “under control” or something). The line about other women “having a reduced opportunity set” when Williams decided to marry is an obnoxious new wrinkle, though.

    This, to me, is part of what lies in the coal-black heart of movement conservatism, my fellow prisoners, and that is a loathing bordering on outright animosity towards anyone or anything that isn’t in their little club (women, minorities, LGBT individuals, the poor, the elderly, children, anyone who has paid into a government entitlement of any kind who, quite rightly, now expects a payout for any one of a number of reasons, etc.).

    One more thing – if my employer told me “Doomsy, we just implemented a company-wide policy dictating that everyone has to take a sexual harassment awareness course within a year,” guess what? I would do it and be grateful for the opportunity to still collect a paycheck (though I’m sure Williams, who occasionally sits in for the OxyContin addict on his radio show, has at least one other “revenue stream” to draw on if his employer fires his sorry ass to enforce a principle…how lucky can a guy get?).

  • Next, I have to admit a bit of perverse curiosity to see how the wingnutosphere covered the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech; I saw some truly ponderous piffle that I decided to ignore…but then I happened to come across this from Jennifer Rubin of Jeff Bezos Daily…

    President Obama has consistently and deliberately tried to identify with Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln and FDR. It’s not enough to let pundits and the public make these analogies, the president goes out of his way to announce his connection with these historical giants, no matter how strained the analogy. Who can blame him? He’s a president whose approval is under water, whose domestic agenda is stalled and whose foreign policy is in utter disarray. A failing president naturally wants to walk in others’ shoes.

    As far as Obama’s approval rating being “under water,” this from Fix Noise (yeah, I know) has him at 42 percent – not great I know, but a number Obama’s wretched predecessor would have grabbed with both hands, as it were, if he had the chance.

    And speaking of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History and a “connection with…historical giants, no matter how strained the analogy,” I give you this from the 2000 Rethuglican National Convention in the City of Brotherly Love (and as noted here, Rubin is a Dubya cheerleader from waay back)…

    Mr. Chairman, delegates, and my fellow citizens … I accept your nomination. Thank you for this honor. Together, we will renew America’s purpose.

    Our founders first defined that purpose here in Philadelphia … Ben Franklin was here. Thomas Jefferson. And, of course, George Washington — or, as his friends called him, “George W.”

    And that was before he was even “elected” (sorry to make you revisit that).

    And another thing – the only way Obama “associated” with Dr. King was to make a speech to commemorate the anniversary. How does that qualify as “associating”? Others, including veep Joe Biden, gave speeches – does that mean Biden is “associating” with Dr. King too? If not, why not?

    Actually, given all of this, I think the former ombudsman for the WaPo is definitely onto something here.

  • Continuing, I came across a bit of a curious item here

    MSNBC’s Karen Finney on Monday hung up on conservative talker Hugh Hewitt after he repeatedly asked her during an interview on his radio show to say whether Alger Hiss was a communist.

    Hewitt had Finney on his program to discuss her statement on her weekend show that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s rhetoric on health care is reminiscent of the “fear stoking” of Joe McCarthy, who she said “also wanted to take his country back, then it was from the communists who had supposedly infiltrated it.” While Cruz’s mission might be different than McCarthy’s, Finney told viewers of her show “Disrupt,” “the rhetoric sounds eerily the same.”

    Well, apparently, after Finney called into Hewitt’s show, the host started badgering her with questions asking her if she knew of any communists that had infiltrated the U.S. government during the McCarthy era. And things predictably went downhill from there to the point where Hewitt started badgering Finney also with the Alger Hiss stuff.

    When I heard about this, the following question occurred to me: why would Finney call into the Hewitt show in the first place? Did she honestly think Hewitt would be interested in having a serious discussion of whether or not “Calgary” Cruz was really using tactics a la Joe McCarthy? How would she not know that, typical for right-wing media, she would be attacked immediately for some minor or even imaginary point, with the fairly substantive issue she raised being totally ignored?

    As far as I’m concerned, a phrase used to describe our politics any more with a variation of the name “McCarthy” in it is a bit trite by now. I’m not saying we should ignore real or potential demagogues, only that, if we’re going to engage in accusations, we should be as precise as we can be.

    That being said, I don’t know if Cruz is really the Joe McCarthy of our era or not (no many culprits to choose from, unfortunately…Steve King, Louie Gohmert, Steve Stockman…almost a new one every week). What I do know is that, when the comparison to McCarthy was mentioned to Cruz, he embraced it, as noted here (to me, the correct answer should have been “I don’t appreciate that comparison, I wish you wouldn’t make it, and I defy you to show me how it is appropriate,” which of course would lead to a substantive discussion – exactly the sort of thing Cruz doesn’t want, apparently).

    And in the matter of Alger Hiss, I don’t know whether he was a communist or not. I do know that he was convicted of perjury, not espionage, and he spent the rest of his life trying to clear his name (and in a bit of a historical quirk, he managed to outlive his chief accuser, then-Republican U.S. House Representative Richard Nixon of Whittier, CA, by two years).

  • Further (and I don’t know if anyone else will care about this except me, but here I go anyway), I came across the following item from The Weakly Standard…

    President Obama and Attorney General Holder met with a group of 18 mayors at the White House on Tuesday afternoon. The meeting was billed as a discussion “with mayors from cities around the country to discuss reducing youth violence.” And although Republicans hold about a quarter of mayoral positions in the fifty largest cities in the U.S., only one Republican mayor was in attendance at the meeting: Greg Ballard of Indianapolis. The remaining mayors included sixteen Democrats and one independent.

    According to recent data, there are twelve Republicans among the mayors of the fifty largest U.S. cities. Twelve of the eighteen cities represented at the White House meeting are among those fifty.

    OK, so the inference is pretty clear here that President Obama wanted to meet pretty much with Democratic mayors and nobody else. Got it.

    So, with that in mind, I put together the following table from the information linked to Wikipedia nested in the Standard post on the 50 largest U.S. cities as well as other information in the Standard post, and I came up with the following table (R stands for Republican, D for Democrat, and I for Independent, in case you had any doubt about that).

    Name City R D I Attended
    Bach, Steve Colorado Springs X
    Ballard, Greg Indianapolis X Y
    Barrett, Tom Milwaukee X Y
    Bartlett, Jr., Dewey Tulsa X
    Berry, Richard Albuquerque X
    Bing, Dave Detroit X
    Bloomberg, Michael NYC X
    Booker, Cory Newark, NJ X Y
    Brewer, Carl Wichita X
    Brown, Alvin Jacksonville X
    Castro, Julian San Antonio X
    Cluck, Robert Arlington, TX X
    Coleman, Michael Columbus, OH X
    Cook, John El Paso X
    Cornett, Mick Oklahoma City X
    Dean, Karl Nashville X
    Emanuel, Rahm Chicago X
    Filner, Bob (for now) San Diego X
    Fischer, Greg Louisville X
    Foster, Bob Long Beach X
    Garcetti, Eric LA X
    Goodman, Carolyn Las Vegas X
    Gray, Vincent Washington, D.C. X Y
    Hales, Charlie Portland, OR X
    Hancock, Mike Denver X
    Jackson, Frank Cleveland X
    James, Sly Kansas City, MO X Y
    Johnson, Kevin Sacramento X Y
    Kinsey, Patsy Charlotte X
    Landrieu, Mitch New Orleans X Y
    Lee, Ed San Francisco X
    Leffingwell, Lee Austin X
    Mallory, Mark Cincinnati X Y
    McFarlane, Nancy Raleigh X
    McGinn, Mike Seattle X
    Menino, Thomas Boston X
    Nutter, Michael Philadelphia X Y
    Parker, Annise Houston X Y
    Price, Betsy Fort Worth X
    Quan, Jean Oakland X Y
    Rawlings, Mike Dallas X
    Rawlings-Blake, Stephanie Baltimore X Y
    Reed, Chuck San Jose X Y
    Reed, Kasim Atlanta X
    Regalado, Tomas Miami X
    Rothschild, Jon Colorado Springs X
    Rybak, R.T. Minneapolis X Y
    Sessoms, Will Virginia Beach X
    Slay, Francis St. Louis X Y
    Smith, Scott Mesa X
    Stanton, Greg Phoenix X
    Stothert, Jean Omaha X
    Swearengin, Ashley Fresno X
    Walling, Dayne Flint X Y
    Ward, Molly Hampton X Y
    Wharton, A.C. Memphis X Y

    What we learn is that, as the Standard tells us, 11 Republican mayors were indeed absent.

    Do you know, however, how many Democratic mayors were absent also? 23, that’s how many.

    And they are as follows:

    Bing, Dave
    Brewer, Carl
    Brown, Alvin
    Castro, Julian
    Cook, John
    Dean, Karl
    Emmanuel, Rahm
    Filner, Bob (for now)
    Fischer, Greg
    Foster, Bob
    Garcetti, Eric
    Hales, Charlie
    Hancock, Mike
    Jackson, Frank
    Kinsey, Patsy
    Leffingwell, Lee
    Hales, Charlie
    Hancock, Mike
    Jackson, Frank
    Rawlings, Mike
    Reed, Kasim
    Rothschild, Jon
    Stanton, Greg

    I should add that I do not have any information from the White House on who was actually invited (and I‘m assuming the Standard is correct in who actually attended), so the table above reflects a bit of guesswork on my part from the available information.

    I realize that the wingnutosphere really doesn’t have a reason to exist unless it’s trying to gin up one type of “scandal” or another, but as these things go, this one is pretty “weak tea.”

  • Finally, it seems that conservatives overall are all lovey-dovey with actor Ashton Kutcher over a speech he recently gave at the Teen Choice Awards, in which he stated the following (recounted here by Cal Thomas of Fix Noise, self-appointed spokesman for supposedly all things moral)…

    Following screams from young female fans in the audience, Kutcher silenced them with a motivational message that bordered on inspiration. He told them: “I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. … I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a steppingstone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job.”

    Kutcher wasn’t through: “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart and being thoughtful and being generous. Everything else is c–p … that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it. Be smart, be thoughtful and be generous.”

    If only Washington politicians would think and talk this way.

    Actually, one of them did recently, stating the following from here (and yes, he’s African American – probably just gave it away)…

    We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices. Growing up, I made a few myself. And I have to confess, sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. But one of the things you’ve learned over the last four years is that there’s no longer any room for excuses. I understand that there’s a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: ‘excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness.’ We’ve got no time for excuses – not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven’t. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that’s still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned. And whatever hardships you may experience because of your race, they pale in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured – and overcame.

    “Be a good role model and set a good example for that young brother coming up. If you know someone who isn’t on point, go back and bring that brother along. The brothers who have been left behind – who haven’t had the same opportunities we have – they need to hear from us. We’ve got to be in the barbershops with them, at church with them, spending time and energy and presence helping pull them up, exposing them to new opportunities, and supporting their dreams.


    And yes, it was this guy (and by the way, Mr. President, on an unrelated but much more urgent matter, please read this).

    But of course, talking down to others and implying (or even saying outright) that they are somehow immoral or inferior, as Thomas does here about Hollywood and Washington politicians overall, is definitely taking a page, as it were, out of the movement conservative playbook.


    Which, more than anyone else, was written by this guy.

    Update: And this generates a sigh of relief on Syria, by the way – how much do you want to bet that, had Number 43 still been in charge, bombs would be dropping all over the place with scores dead and unaccounted for (and legitimate this time) WMDs all over the Middle East, threats of terrorism would be erupting from all over the region, and the demented child-king in An Oval Office would have sneered at the world, saying, “Are you with us or are you against us?” (with families of military members anxious over which God-forsaken location on earth their loved ones would be sent this time).


  • Monday Mashup (8/27/12)

    August 27, 2012
  • Oh noes! According to Fix Noise, it looks like those baaad Democrats are at it again (here)…

    Tropical Storm Isaac isn’t the only force threatening to rain on the Republican National Convention next week.

    Democrats are planning to break from the tradition of keeping a low profile during the rival party’s convention, dispatching Vice President Biden to the host city and putting other A-list surrogates on the campaign trail to perhaps steal some of the spotlight.

    This tells us that, though Biden had changed his anticipated travel plans to Tampa, he decided to cancel them altogether in light of Tropical Storm Isaac.

    Also, I don’t know what this double-secret unwritten rule about the other party supposedly lying low or something during the other party’s convention is all about.

    Well, maybe I should clarify that a bit; the Repugs did indeed keep a low profile during the 2004 Democratic Party Convention in which the Kerry/Edwards ticket was nominated (as I recall), but as noted here, that didn’t mean that they weren’t busy gathering material to attack the Democratic ticket (and let’s not forget that the 2004 smear-fest included the disgusting mockery of Kerry’s purple heart citations, as noted here, with that imbecile from Texas with the Band-Aid on her chin forever enshrined as one of the worst practitioners).

    And as noted here, Patrick Buchanan put together a fairly detailed blueprint to help the Nixon White House spy on the Democrats during their convention in 1972 (and as noted here, Willard Mitt himself was responsible for mischief in Maine, co-starring the odious Ben Ginsberg of Florida 2000 infamy, and here in Nevada during the recent primary season).

    As long as I’m on the subject, though, this provides some links to convention-related material (including the Repugs outlawing abortion under any circumstances as one of the “planks” in their platform, as noted here – a shame some of these nitwits can’t be hit over the head with it), and this provides a bit of a lesson in unintended consequences (seriously, I hope no one gets hurt from that or weather-related misery).


    And I think it’s waay beyond hilarious that Willard Mitt Romney and his people won’t even allow this guy the chance to speak a single word.

  • Next, this tells us the following…

    Three Republican Federal Election Commissioners have found that unions or corporations can compel employees to campaign for political candidates in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

    In a Statement of Reasons memorandum signed on August 21, 2012, the commissioners contend that the United Public Workers union (UPW) was within its legal right to require employees to “provide support for Hawaii Fist Congressional District candidate Colleen Hanabusa’s candidacy in a special congressional election on May 22, 2010.” The case stemmed from a complaint in which two employees alleged that they were fired after refusing “to comply with a UPW request to sign-wave, phone bank, canvass, and contribute to Hanabusa’s campaign.” The GOP commissioners found that current law and regulations do not prohibit employers from requiring participation…

    Maybe I’m supposed to say this is OK because Hanabusa is a Democrat, but there’s a larger principle involved here; namely, it is that no union or corporate entity should have the legal right to compel anyone on its membership or payroll to vote in a way that is in opposition to their interests or political opinion.

    The three commissioners who said what the UPW did was OK, by the way, are Caroline C. Hunter, Donald F. McGahn II and Matthew S. Petersen. And is it any surprise at all that all three were nominated by George W. Bush?

    And as you might expect, this isn’t the first time that the FEC commissioners in question have run afoul on the issue of free speech, IMHO. Here, Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 criticized Hunter and Petersen for voting not to pursue an investigation against the so-called Economic Freedom Fund. Wertheimer and the Campaign Legal Center alleged that the EFF, a 527 group, “violated the law by failing to register as a political committee and failing to abide by the disclosure requirements and contribution limits that apply to such committees, notwithstanding EFF’s extensive election-related activities immediately prior to the 2006 election.”

    In addition, CREW alleged here that McGahn, Petersen and Hunter were “working in concert with Republican campaign finance attorneys and outside groups to undermine election laws and thwart enforcement of what laws remain after the Citizens United decision.”

    And as noted here

    In April, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) asked the FEC to close the loophole (by which the identities of Super PAC donors did not have to be identified) for “independent expenditures” (versus “political” expenditures) and filed a lawsuit challenging the loophole for “electioneering communications.”

    Last month the six FEC commissioners killed — on a 3-3 vote — a motion to begin consideration of Van Hollen’s suggestions. By law, the agency may have only three members of any political party. By tradition, the president chooses three commissioners and the other party’s Senate leader chooses three. The three Republican appointees — Commissioners Caroline Hunter, Donald McGahn II and Matthew Petersen — were the three “no” votes. The same trio also made headlines last month when they took the view that even coordination between Super PACs and candidates might not qualify as coordination between Super PACs and candidates.

    The lawsuit is still pending.

    Because of these loopholes, virtually none of the funders behind the Super PAC attack ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will be disclosed until well after the voters there have cast their ballots. And the funders behind 501(c)(4) attack ads may never be known.

    So while it was the Supreme Court’s majority that opened the floodgates for corporate money in our elections, it is the deadlocked FEC that is keeping voters from even knowing where that money comes from.


    Someday, the legacy of this assclown will truly be dead, buried, and long forgotten. And that day can’t come soon enough.

  • Finally, I thought Mr. Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv-Behind-His-Back made a startling revelation here

    Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) began resurrecting some of President Obama’s most famous gaffes on the campaign trail Tuesday, reminding a crowd assembled at a Pennsylvania steel plant of the president’s remark four years ago that some voters are “clinging to their guns and religion.”

    “Remember this other time when he said people want to cling to their guns and religion?” Ryan said. “Hey, I’m a Catholic deer hunter, I’m happy to be clinging to my guns and religion.”

    Ryan has repeatedly cited his Catholic faith while campaigning in swing states in recent days.

    Well, putting aside this concerning Ryan and how he allegedly practices his “faith,” as noted here, I’m beginning to wonder now if what Obama originally said was a “gaffe” after all.

    I mean, Ryan just validated Obama’s point, didn’t he?

    Does that mean that we’ll now hear an apology from William Kristol and John McCain for their allegations of Obama’s supposed elitism for stating what is plainly obvious (and what Ryan, in a rare moment of candor for him, just admitted – noted here)? Or an apology from Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, George Will, Kevin Ferris or J.D. Mullane, among many others (with the latter claiming that Obama expressed “bigotry” in his remarks, as noted here)?

    Or from “Joe Scar,” as noted here?

    (Yes, I know – cue the sound of crickets…)

    In ’08, then-candidate Obama stepped on a “third rail,” if you will, because, as an African American politician (and, Heaven forbid, a Democrat), you just aren’t supposed to talk about “cultural” issues affecting white people. You…just…aren’t.

    Given this, it is a tribute to his consummate political skill (as well as the craven cluelessness of his opposition) that he was subsequently elected to anything whatsoever.


  • Friday Mashup (8/17/12)

    August 18, 2012
  • I’m overdue to clean out my “in” bin, so here goes…

    …a new book — “Who’s Counting?” by John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky — charges that Al Franken’s 2008 defeat of incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman may be directly attributable to felons voting illegally.

    Coleman led on election night, but a series of recounts lasting eight months eventually gave the seat to the former Saturday Night Live star.

    Later, a conservative watchdog group matched criminal records with the voting rolls and discovered that 1,099 felons had illegally cast ballots. State law mandates prosecutions in such cases; 177 have been convicted so far, with 66 more awaiting trial.

    Franken’s eventual margin of “victory”? A mere 312 votes.

    (There are also allegations of Democratic Party voting shenanigans in Washington state and Connecticut that I may attempt to deal with on another day, if only to prove that the parties alleging wrongdoing are utterly wrong once more.)

    In response, this tells us the following…

    I don’t mean to be disrespectful, just instructive, but I’d like to comment on the comments of Sen. Coleman and Gov. Pawlenty. As we know, Coleman won the 2002 Senate election 11 days after incumbent Sen. Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash. Polls showed Wellstone was going to win that election. For Coleman to call Franken “an accidental senator” is tragically ironic, for there are some who believe Coleman was the original accidental senator.

    As for the governor, he has spoken three times about the recount, and he’s been a bit fast and loose with his facts. First, in the early days of the recount, he spread — on Fox News — the completely untrue story about Minneapolis ballots that were supposedly being driven around in the alleged trunk of an unknown and non-existent elections official. He spoke of this days after it was reported that the story was a fable.

    Later, in a call with reporters, he overstated by thousands of percentage points the increase of absentee voters in 2008, trying to say that Franken won the election because of that.

    In fact, Franken won the recount by 49 votes BEFORE absentee ballots were counted.

    Media Matters has a typically thorough takedown of Fund and von Spakovsky here, pretty much destroying their evergreen charges that Al Franken somehow managed to steal the Minnesota U.S. Senatorial election four years ago.

    This is par for the proverbial course for Fund and (in particular) von Spakovsky; this tell us that the latter “served” as a Justice Department lawyer who was also Republican Party chairman in Fulton County, Ga. before going to Washington; while in the Peach State, von Spakovsky worked towards requiring Georgia voters to have photo identification, which (as we now know) disenfranchises primarily Democratic voters.

    In the typically inside-out world of Republican Party politics, this of course makes Fund and von Spakovsky the perfect choices to scream about election impropriety (when others are responsible, of course).

  • Next, I give you more hilarity from Flush Limbore (here), who said that “some guy” apparently told him that President Obama had had the worst grades of any Harvard student (typical).

    Gee, I wonder if that’s why Laurence Tribe, one of Obama’s former professors, once called the president “the best student he ever had” here?

    You know what, Foxies? Why don’t you just stick to doing what you do well (as illustrated below) and leave news/political commentary for the grownups (I can dream, can’t I?).

  • Further, I give you Ken Blackwell at The Daily Tucker (here, regarding veep Joe Biden’s recent “chains” remark – please)…

    So who was it, Mr. Vice President, that broke those slave chains? It was the Republicans. Republican Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and signed the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. It was Republicans who passed the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution that abolished slavery, provided for equal protection for former slaves, and extended the suffrage to them.

    Every vote cast against those constitutional amendments was cast by a Democrat. Every vote cast against every Civil Rights Act in the 19th century was cast by a Democrat.

    …Uh, no. As noted here

    (The 1965 Voting Rights Act) passed the Senate by a vote of 77 to 19 (on May 26th of that year), with 47 Democrats and 30 Republicans in support and 17 Democrats and 2 Republicans opposed.

    And I give you the following from one of those two…

    Before voting against the bill, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who had switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in September 1964, eulogized the Senate as the “final resting place of the Constitution and the rule of law, for it is here that they will have been buried with shovels of emotion under piles of expediency, in the year of our Lord, 1965.”

    And of course, like Fund and von Spakovsky, Blackwell doesn’t know anything about disenfranchising African American voters, among his other exploits as Ohio’s former Secretary of State, as noted here…not much he doesn’t.

  • And finally, this tells us the following…

    Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis (Ala.) will speak at the Republican National Convention later this month in Tampa, Fla., the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced Thursday.

    Davis co-chaired President Obama’s 2008 campaign and seconded his nomination at that year’s Democratic National Convention, but aligned himself with Republicans after losing a Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2010.

    Davis campaigned with Mitt Romney on Wednesday in Virginia.

    Oh, and let it be known that Reince Priebus, the Repug Party chair (and good luck with that when doing the spell check!), said that Davis will “give voice to the frustration and disappointment felt among those who supported President Obama in 2008 and are now hungry for a new direction.”

    I’m not sure that there’s a more pitiable character in our national politics right now than Artur Davis (I mean, what with “Goodhair” Perry, Little Ricky, Baby Newton Leroy, and The Pizza Man having happily receded into the media background).

    So what, is Davis going to go all “crazy Zell Miller” from the 2004 Rethuglican National Convention on us now?

    Well, maybe this provides a clue (in which Davis tries to make common cause with the Teahadists)…

    “Ladies and gentlemen, in 1980, one man, from a small town in Illinois, said I know what they say, I hear the doubts in the wind, but I will not be bowed,” Davis said. “This man, who was supposedly old and faded, issued the same call that a 43-year-old named Jack Kennedy issued in 1960, and said that we can do better.”

    That said, Davis admitted that “we don’t have Ronald Reagan running this year. There was only one. But I want to submit to you, that Ronald Reagan’s values are alive in the Republican Party today.”

    Oh, and if it isn’t disgusting enough for Davis to try and conflate JFK with The Sainted Ronnie R, it should be noted that he also invoked the memory of Rosa Parks too.

    Not to worry, though – I thought Cynthia Tucker definitely got the lowdown on Davis here

    Don’t be fooled by the clichéd announcement (of Davis’s party switch). Davis defected for all the wrong reasons. He left the Democrats out of personal pique — a feeling of rejection left by his humiliating loss in the Alabama Democratic primary for governor.

    For seven years, Davis was a rising star in Democratic circles, a bright and promising member of Congress, a well-educated representative of the post-civil-rights era of black leadership. Elected to Congress in 2002, he defeated 10-year incumbent Earl Hilliard, whose many ethical lapses and support of Middle Eastern tyrants had made him an embarrassment.

    But Davis ¬— who is nothing if not ambitious — made a serious misjudgment in 2010, forfeiting his secure post as representative of Alabama’s 7th congressional district to run for governor of that state. As a black Democrat, he would never have been elected to the helm of one of the most conservative states in the union, but he was widely expected to win the nomination.

    That was before Davis fell prey to an unfortunate fallacy about moderation and bucked President Obama’s health care plan. Though Alabama, my home state, has one of the nation’s highest rates of uninsured, Davis refused to support the health care plan.

    There is much in (Davis’s) analysis that is wrong and wrongheaded. For example, Davis credits Bill Clinton for a period of robust economic growth, but says “this is not Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party” — borrowing from Mitt Romney’s recent rhetoric. Both men willfully ignore one of Clinton’s bravest acts: He pressed Congress to raise taxes, which set the stage for that growth.

    And on the subject of identity politics, Davis is just as wrong. The GOP may have grown more sophisticated about executing its southern strategy, but it remains a tool for dividing voters along racial lines. Davis’ marriage of convenience is unlikely to be a happy one.

    I know it’s easy to forget that our 40th president was once a Democrat who switched political parties because it suited his political ambitions also. But if Davis has any aspirations towards anything near that height of political power and has made this move with that goal in mind, then it is inevitable that he will find out what “frustration and disappointment” truly means beyond any and all doubt.


  • Abyseeinya, Little Ricky

    July 15, 2010

    Santorum_Card
    As noted here, yesterday marked the final “regular” (???) column in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Former Senator Man-On-Dog himself, Little Ricky Santorum. And, true to form, he conjured up all kinds of “Oooga Booga!” scenarios in response to the news that “a federal district court judge in… Boston ruled that the majority of Republicans and Democrats in Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act for the one purpose forbidden by law: ‘to disadvantage a group of which it disapproves’.”

    To which I reply, well…duuuuh! And of course, it is also appropriate that Santorum ended his stint at the Inky by taking another shot at Beantown, as he did here.

    As noted here, “The (Boston) ruling relied on two arguments: that the law interfered with the rights of states guaranteed in the 10th Amendment, and that it violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause. “

    Am I the only one who finds it ironic that a “tenther,” “states rights” argument was used to refute a position or belief most commonly held by Tea Party wingnuts?

    Well anyway, I should note that, on the occasion of Santorum’s final Inquirer column, it really behooves us all to take a look back at some of his less stellar moments (I’m just providing excerpts here – if I included all of them, it would take two days to write this post)…

  • Said President Obama was “detached from the American experience” here
  • Said Obama’s “charm offensive” was a bust in Muslim nations, though the numbers state otherwise (here)…
  • Blamed President Clinton for inflating the housing bubble here (seriously)…
  • Argued here that if a government-run public option had been included in health care reform, it would have meant fewer dollars for the life sciences industry in Philadelphia…
  • Defended Dutch filmmaker and politician Geert Wilders from Muslim attacks without noting that Wilders had drawn a correlation between the Koran and Mein Kampf here
  • Criticized Joe Biden for blocking a resolution he sponsored against Iran when he was senator, though Santorum voted against a resolution penalizing companies doing business with Iran (here)…
  • Asked (and answered), “But are any treatments with embryonic stem cells being used today? No,” and also asked/answered, “Are there any anticipated in the near future? No,” and he was wrong on both counts (here)…
  • Said that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was “replacing legitimate popular elections” here (uh, no – if that country rids itself of him, they’ll be able to do it without our help)
  • Criticized Obama for trying to control the manipulation of gas prices on the futures market here – meanwhile, he voted No on a bill to reduce our oil usage by 40 percent instead of 5 percent by 2025, voted Yes on terminating Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards for vehicles within 15 months, and voted Yes to defund renewable and solar energy…
  • Kept up the same theme as his signoff column about how “teh gay” is trying to destroy marriage here
  • And just to let you know that I actually agreed with Santorum once in a great, great while, I did so in response to this column in which he criticized a PA voter for switching his party allegiance from Republican to Democratic in 2008 to vote for the “weaker” Dem presidential candidate in the primary election (Pennsylvania has “closed,” primaries, I should point out).
  • Finally, for what it’s worth, this was my reaction when I first heard that The Inquirer was going to give Santorum a “soap box” for his blather.
  • So there you have it, and with that, one “regular” right-wing ideologue columnist for philly.com bites the dust (don’t worry, though, since they still have at least three more between Kevin Ferris, Christine Flowers and John Yoo).

    And I have no doubt that we’ll hear from Little Ricky again – I’m sure either The National Review or The Daily Caller is beckoning, probably among others.


    Joe Biden On Health Care

    September 3, 2009

    Nothing like fighting the winguttery with the facts, is there?


    Thursday Mashup (8/6/09)

    August 6, 2009

  • From the “We Decide, Then Report” file, John Lott tells us the following from Fix Noise (here, taking an off day from compiling statistics on how much safer we would be if we all had assault rifles, no doubt)…

    Only in Washington could a program that is spending money 13 times faster than was planned be labeled a “success.” The “cash-for-clunkers” program ground to a halt last week because in less than a week, a program that was supposed to last until November 1, had spent the entire $1 billion allocated to it. Let’s just hope that the government takeover of the rest of the health care industry doesn’t result in similar “success.”

    Meanwhile, in the reality based community (here)…

    The Obama administration’s much-maligned “cash-for-clunkers” trade-in system has made an immediate and indisputable impact on the struggling U.S. auto industry, with consumers flocking to dealerships in numbers not seen in years and auto companies posting strong sales they directly attribute to the government program.

    Ford announced on Monday that their July U.S. auto sales were up a strong 2.3% over results from one year ago, a result that company executives linked to “cash-for-clunkers.”

    And as noted here, the Senate is expected to vote on authorizing $2 billion more of funding for the program today.

    Yes, I’ve read that this is expected to create a mini “auto bubble” also (funny – I wish more people noting that had paid attention to the housing and dot.com “bubbles” as well), with a likely dropoff to occur when the program ends, but who knows for sure? And how can it be a bad thing when the auto industry shows signs of life?

    As noted here…

    If the Senate approves the additional money, it’s likely to lead automakers to increase production and bring back laid-off workers. Many automakers reported low inventories due to increased sales from the program at the end of July. Already Hyundai Motor Co. has added a day of production to its Montgomery, Ala., plant, and Ford is considering increases.

    Ford’s chief financial officer, Lewis Booth, said Wednesday night the company would decide this month and make an announcement in early September.

    Among states, Michigan has taken most advantage of the program, requesting more than $44 million in vehicle vouchers. California dealers had requested nearly $40 million in vouchers, and Ohio had sought nearly $38 million.

    Senate passage would send the legislation to the White House for Obama’s signature and assure consumers there will be no interruption in the program that has led to packed car dealerships nationwide.

    The deals are aimed at boosting auto sales, which have been at their lowest levels in two decades.

    Which of course means that the program is opposed by the Repugs, including Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, a state which, to the best of my knowledge, manufactures no automobiles whatsoever (maybe armored, but that’s it).

  • As noted here, President Obama is going to visit Bozeman, MT next week to pitch health care reform. As this story tells us, this is the first visit of a sitting president to this area of “big sky country.”

    (And gosh, J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times actually didn’t trash health care reform today, but wrote about a “missing ape sculpture” instead…insert your snark here).

    Maybe while Obama and his entourage are staying over, someone could remind Repug State Rep Michael More that introducing language in a bill that could be potentially interpreted to justify an armed insurrection against this country isn’t a good idea (here).

  • And the both the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are coming under attack for the following based on this (as if Obama doesn’t have enough to do – he’s been in An Oval Office for how long now? Six months and two weeks?)…

    President Obama got lots of attention last month for his drop-in visit to Ghana after the G20 meeting in Italy, where he blasted African leaders for misruling the continent and condemning its people to poverty and backwardness. “Repression can take many forms, and too many nations, even those that have elections, are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty,” said Obama. “No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end.”

    They were fine words. But not much else. Obama didn’t single out any particular leader for criticism, and he gave the speech in Ghana, one of Africa’s handful of functional democracies. In her own trip to Africa this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit bright spots like South Africa, Cape Verde, and Liberia. But she also has a perfect opportunity to name and shame the continent’s worst leaders. There’s only one problem: she’s going to blow it.

    See how our corporate media cousins have moved from magnifying perceived misdeeds of the Obama Administration to now forecasting what they will do wrong instead; Newsweek must be in possession of tarot cards, tea leaves, an Ouija board, and maybe even Harry Potter’s wand…amazing!

    The article specifically singles out Umaru Yar’Adua of Nigeria, Mwai Kibaki, of Kenya and Joseph Kabila of the Congo as people who are particularly bad actors. And yes, Hillary Clinton has said here that not having a USAID agency head named by the White House is “frustrating beyond words.”

    But I think the following should be considered (from here)…

    The Obama administration inherited a foreign aid system starved of civilian experts and burdened by a bewildering array of mandates. USAID’s full-time staff shrank by 40 percent over the past two decades, but the assistance it oversees doubled, to $13.2 billion in 2008. The agency has a skeleton crew of technical experts, with four engineers for the entire world, Clinton noted recently. Increasingly, USAID has become a conduit for money flowing to contractors, who have limited supervision from the agency.

    As USAID has weakened, foreign assistance programs have proliferated across government agencies, especially the military, causing duplication and confusion. Meanwhile, aid budgets have been saddled with presidential directives, “buy America” provisions and congressional earmarks that raise the cost of aid and reduce its effectiveness, development specialists say.

    “In the USAID budget, every dollar has three purposes: help build an Air Force base, support the University of Mississippi, get some country to vote our way,” said the Rev. David Beckmann, president of the aid group Bread for the World, describing the plethora of political claims attached to aid. The development program, he said, “is a mess.”

    The waste of billions of U.S. reconstruction dollars in Iraq and the growing role of development in the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan have given new urgency to long-running debates about reforming the aid system.

    And as noted here (last year)…

    …the United States currently provides economic aid and security assistance to such repressive African regimes as Swaziland, Congo, Cameroon, Togo, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Gabon, Egypt, and Tunisia. None of these countries holds free elections, and all have severely suppressed their political opposition.

    Among the worst of these African tyrannies has been the regime of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. Obiang has been in power even longer than the 28-year reign of (Robert) Mugabe and, according to a recent article in the British newspaper The Independent, makes the Zimbabwean dictator “seem stable and benign” by comparison. Obiang originally seized power in a 1979 coup by murdering his uncle, who had ruled the country since its independence from Spain in 1968. Under his rule, Equatorial Guinea nominally allowed the existence of opposition parties as a condition of receiving foreign aid in the early 1990s. But the four leading candidates withdrew from the last presidential election in December 2002 in protest of irregularities in the voting process and violence against their supporters. In that election, Obiang officially received more than 97 percent of the vote (down from 99.5 percent in the previous election.)

    Though the U.S. State Department acknowledged that the election was “marred by extensive fraud and intimidation,” the Congress and the administration devoted none of the vehement condemnation that was so evident after the recent, similarly marred election process in Zimbabwe.

    One major reason for the difference in response is oil. The development of vast oil reserves over the past decade has made Equatorial Guinea one of the wealthiest countries in Africa in terms of per capita gross domestic product. Virtually all of the oil revenues, however, goes to Obiang and his cronies. The dictator himself is worth an estimated $1 billion, making him the wealthiest leader in Africa; his real estate holdings include two mansions in Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the country’s population lives on only a few dollars a day, and nearly half of all children under five are malnourished. The country’s major towns and cities lack basic sanitation and potable water, while conditions in the countryside are even worse.

    During his most recent visit to Washington in 2006, Obiang was warmly received by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who praised the dictator as “a good friend” of the United States. Not once during their joint appearance did she mention the words “human rights” or “democracy.” At the same press conference, Obiang praised his regime’s “extremely good relations with the United States” and his expectation that “this relationship will continue to grow in friendship and cooperation.” None of the assembled reporters raised any questions about the regime’s notorious human rights record or its lack of democracy, instead using the opportunity to ask Secretary Rice questions about the alleged threat from Iran.

    Does Obama have work to do in Africa? Yes. Does our Democratic Congress? Uh huh. And our media? Bueller?

    Did Dubya have work to do? Next question.

    Now, Newsweek, since we’ve settled all this for now, can you just report stories like grownups again for a change?

  • And finally, this tells us the following…

    After a period of relatively low bankruptcy filings during 2006-07, U.S. consumer bankruptcies rose sharply in 2008 and continue to climb in 2009. Consumer filings reached 126,434 in July, the highest monthly total since the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) was implemented in October 2005, and pushed the consumer total for the first seven months of 2009 past 800,000 filings.

    Just to refresh our memories, here are the brave souls who opposed this horrible law (all Dems)…

    Daniel Akaka
    Barbara Boxer
    Maria Cantwell
    Jon Corzine
    Mark Dayton
    Christopher Dodd
    Byron Dorgan
    Dick Durbin
    Russ Feingold
    Dianne Feinstein
    Tom Harkin
    Ted Kennedy
    John Kerry
    Frank Lautenberg
    Patrick Leahy
    Carl Levin
    Joe Lieberman
    Barbara Mikulski
    Patty Murray
    Barack Obama
    Jack Reed
    Jay Rockefeller
    Paul Sarbannes
    Chuck Schumer
    Ron Wyden

    And here are the cowards who supported it (Dems are noted)…

    Wayne Allard
    Lamar Alexander
    George Allen
    Kay Bailey Hutchison
    Max Baucus (d)
    Evan Bayh (d)
    Bob Bennett
    Joe Biden (d)
    Jeff Bingaman (d)
    Christopher “Kit” Bond
    Sam Brownback
    Jim Bunning
    Conrad Burns
    Richard Burr
    Robert Byrd (d)
    Tom Carper (d)
    Lincoln Chaffee
    Saxby Chambliss
    Tom Coburn
    Thad Cochran
    Norm Coleman
    Susan Collins
    John Cornyn
    Kent Conrad (d)
    Larry Craig
    Mike Crapo
    Jim DeMint
    Mike DeWine
    Elizabeth Dole
    Pete Domenici
    John Ensign
    Mike Enzi
    Bill Frist
    Lindsay Graham
    Charles Grassley (he sponsored it)
    Judd Gregg
    Chuck Hagel
    Orrin Hatch
    John Isakson
    Jim Inhofe
    Daniel Inouye (d)
    Jim Jeffords (i)
    Tim Johnson (d)
    Herb Kohl (d)
    Jon Kyl
    Mary Landrieu (d)
    Blanche Lincoln (d)
    Trent Lott
    Richard Lugar
    Mel Martinez
    John McCain
    Mitch McConnell
    Lisa Murkowski
    Ben Nelson (d)
    Bill Nelson (d)
    Mark Pryor (d)
    Harry Reid (d)
    Pat Roberts
    Ken Salazar (d)
    Rick Santorum
    Jeff Sessions
    Richard Shelby
    Gordon Smith
    Olympia Snowe
    Arlen Specter (d?)
    Debbie Stabenow (d)
    Ted Stevens
    John Sununu
    Jim Talent
    Craig Thomas
    John Thune
    David Vitter
    George Voinovich
    John Warner

    (And Hillary Clinton voted Present, which I think is questionable also.)

    A pox on those “Yes” voters for all time…


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