Friday Mashup (5/10/13)

May 10, 2013
  • I happened to check in to The Gun Report, the blog of New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, and he told us here a couple of days ago that New York State has divested itself of gun-related holdings from its public employee pension plan, following the lead of California. And according to this, Pennsylvania has gun-related holdings in their public employee pension plans which are basically negligible at this point (even though I don’t know what that last sentence in the philly.com piece actually means).

    And as long as I’m on the subject of our beloved commonwealth, this from a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article tells us that our illustrious governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett is proposing a “fix” to the public employee pension plans (actually, he has proposed this for a little while now, but details, or what pass for them, seem to be trickling out at last – a bill number has apparently been assigned in the legislature, and Corbett wants it approved by July 1st).

    As noted here, though…

    Sen. John Blake, D-Archbald, ranking Democrat on the finance panel, said the governor’s plan will add to pension debt instead of reducing it.

    “Moving new employees to a 401(a) will undermine the investment performance of our existing pension systems…,” Blake said. “Further, 401(a) retirement plans are proven to provide lower financial returns and by, disaggregating investment, expose workers with different levels of financial literacy to the vagaries of the markets while sending millions in fees to the financial service industry – money that should instead be invested and managed by experts to guarantee retirement security for our workers.”

    Switching to a defined contribution plan for future hires will leave a less secure retirement for new employees, said state Treasurer Rob McCord, a potential Democratic candidate for governor next year.

    “So far, the 401(k) plans have failed in that regard,” McCord said.

    And of course, it’s not as if Corbett is willing to cut back on his stinking tax cuts for his “pay no price, bear no burden” pals to cover the difference, as noted here.

  • Next, in more “News for the Investor Class,” I give you the following (here)…

    We have our Twinkies back! And our Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Wonder Bread. As The Daily Caller reported on April 24, key assets of bankrupt Hostess Brands have been sold to private equity firms and plans are underway to open new plants. Presumably, the new owners will operate non-union.

    If they don’t blow it.

    To refresh your memory, last fall Hostess Brands, the maker of iconic products such as the aforementioned Twinkies, suspended all operations and began liquidating assets in response to a nationwide strike by the bakery workers’ union. The union was striking over requested concessions the company needed to stay in business. Over the following weeks and months, Hostess let go most of its 18,500 workers as it shut down operations and started trying to sell its valuable brands. The asset sale yielded fruit, and the new Hostess has announced it will open three plants in the near future and start hiring workers.

    Yeah, well, that’s the wingnut spin on this story. Here is the reality point of view (from last November – this is alluded to in the Daily Tucker piece, but of course it isn’t properly documented)…

    Even as it blamed unions for the bankruptcy and the 18,500 job losses that will ensue, Hostess already gave its executives pay raises earlier this year. The salary of the company’s chief executive tripled from $750,000 to roughly $2.5 million, and at least nine other executives received pay raises ranging from $90,000 to $400,000. Those raises came just months after Hostess originally filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

    It is indeed good news that the jobs related to manufacturing items under the Hostess brand are being saved. And based on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story noted in the Daily Tucker post…

    Hostess Brands, which is hiring for several bakeries, including one in Columbus, emphasized Monday that it will not discriminate against applicants on the basis of union membership or activities.

    The strident effort to clear the air on its hiring plans followed comments last week by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dean Metropoulos, who suggested the company would be staffing plants with non-union labor.

    Under the headline “New Twinkie Maker Shuns Union,” Metropoulos reportedly told The Wall Street Journal that the company does “not expect to be involved in the union going forward.”

    In a statement Monday, Hostess Brands said it “intends to hire the most qualified applicants, regardless of their age, race, gender, or prior or current union affiliation.” It added that “none of the company representatives stated or intended to imply that Hostess will be avoiding union-represented employees or job applicants.”

    Of course, I could really be a pointy-headed liberal here and wonder what it says about our glorious system of private enterprise that the manufacture of junk food is a growth industry. But I won’t.

  • Further, I give you this item from “Tiger Beat on the Potomac,” as Charles Pierce quite rightly calls Politico…

    Conservative radio talk show host Craig Bergman is sick of Republicans failing to appeal to environmentalists, and he’s making a documentary to try to bridge the gap.

    He’s behind a new Kickstarter campaign for “Unsustainable,” the documentary underway that Bergman hopes will provide common sense solutions for environmental concerns.

    “We are conservatives but we believe there is a vast swath of common ground,” Bergman told POLITICO. “This is not a right wing, radical, beat ‘em up, red meat movie.”

    He added, “We’re not trying to get into the, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong,’ debate. That’s the whole problem. We’re trying to get into what used to be old fashioned politics, which was two people who would sit down, both wanting the same result, to protect the environment and then deciding how best, under our constitutional framework of liberties and individual rights, do we get there? We haven’t had that on this issue in 30 years.”

    He cited examples of what he considers to be both left and right wing extremism on environmental issues, such as a man in Colorado who was threatened with federal prison for collecting rainwater on his property.

    And he singles out his conservative brethren for making light of environmental issues, including “some of the ridiculous things you hear from some of my compatriots on talk radio, where they say things like, ‘Well, everyone, today is Earth Day so be sure you roll down your windows while your air conditioning is on, hee, hee, hee.’ That does nothing to help the dialogue.”

    “We’ve got hundreds of examples of abuses on the right and abuses on the left.”

    “Hundreds” on “the left,” huh?

    “We are going to take the position that exposes the bad science,” he said. So do you believe in climate change, then?

    “I don’t know that there is a conclusion. That’s part of the problem. It needs to be a dialogue. It does not need to be an absolute definitive, because nobody knows.”

    For the uninitiated, I should note that this is the very definition of “concern trolling” (wonder if this Craig Bergman guy is associated with “No Labels” in any way?).

    Aside from linking to statistical study after statistical study pointing out the obvious (as noted here), I could also mention that the biggest obstacle towards a common sense policy on CO2 emissions and reusable energy are the Teahadists, funded by the Koch Brothers who want us to choke on our fossil fuels while the planet continues to melt (and many of those life forms constitute Bergman’s audience).

    Ordinarily, I would be happy to read about someone trying to achieve some kind of a mutual understanding on an issue. But as far as I’m concerned, the science on this issue has been settled for about 30 years (so, contrary to Bergman’s claim, I would say that EVERYBODY knows, as noted here.)

  • Moving on, Karl Rove concocted the following at the Murdoch Street Journal here

    Thinking strategically about Iran also might have led Mr. Obama to act earlier for regime change in Syria. After two years of fighting, the war is spilling into Lebanon, Iraq and Israel. A million Syrian refugees are flooding into Jordan.

    Of course, the war of choice in Iraq waged by Rove’s old boss created at least two million refugees, as noted here (actually, four million if you count those inside the country). But who’s counting, right?

    “Turd Blossom” also tells us the following…

    (Obama) would also not have sabotaged chances for a U.S. military presence in Iraq by insisting on parliamentary approval of a status-of-forces agreement. A U.S. presence in Iraq would have reduced Iranian influence in Baghdad and diminished the likelihood of sectarian conflict in Iraq.

    Does Rove mean the SOFA approved by the Iraqi parliament before Former President Nutball left office in 11/08 (here)? Any by the way, the terms of the agreement mandated that all US troops would leave.

    Rove also criticized Obama for his moves related to missile defense in Poland and Czechoslovakia, with the goal of getting NATO more involved, a group the Repugs hate, of course…basically, Obama wants NATO to get more involved on the issue of defense against potential short-to-medium-range rockets from Iran, as noted here (part of that whole Kenyan Muslim Marxist notion of making other countries more responsible for their own sovereignty as oppose to us being the “policeman” everywhere, I guess).

    And if Obama is supposed to be so “aloof,” then why did “Bibi” Netanyahu express his “appreciation” for Obama helping Israel defend itself from Palestinian rockets, as noted here? And is Rove seriously going to argue that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History was “close to” German Chancellor Angela Merkel…

    5127738-bush-merkel
    …when the memory of this utter idiocy is still fresh in our minds?

    Rove also alleges that Obama “undercut the new Libyan president, Mohammed Magarief”; I’m only mentioning this nonsense because I have a question.

    How many people out there know that that country has arrested 50 people in connection with the death of Ambassador Stevens and three others, as noted here (“BENGHAZI!!!”)? Show of hands?

  • Continuing (and overlapping on Rove a bit), it looks like David Horowitz has somehow emerged from some foul nether regions somewhere to foist this upon us…

    Obama’s desire for rapprochement with the Islamist regime in Iran has prompted the administration to drag its feet on the sanctions designed to halt Tehran’s nuclear program. For the same reason, the president and his administration were silent when hundreds of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran to call for an end to the dictatorship and were met by an orgy of violence from the mullahs’ thugs.

    Obama was “silent,” huh? Really?

    Continuing…

    The administration’s denial was glaring also in its response to the massacre of 13 unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood by an Islamic fanatic and terrorist, Nidal Malik Hasan, who three and a half years later still has not been brought to trial.

    Unbelievable – through one of the easiest Google searches in my life, I learned from here that the trial of Hasan will begin later this month, on the 29th.

    And as far as I’m concerned, it’s particularly grotesque for Horowitz to bring up the Ft. Hood shootings, which he infamously once said were “the chickens of the left coming home to roost” here (I guess this is the crap you come up with when you are no longer being bankrolled to travel to colleges all over the country to scream about alleged “liberal bias”).

    Continuing, Horowitz rants as follows…

    Obama had previously intervened in Egypt, the largest and most important country in the Middle East, to force the removal of its pro-American leader, Hosni Mubarak. He then promoted the (Muslim) Brotherhood’s ascension to power by portraying it as a “moderate” actor in the democratic process. As the Middle East situation deteriorated, the Muslim Brotherhood became the chief beneficiary of America’s financial, diplomatic, and military support. This same Brotherhood was the driving force behind the Islamist surge, the mentor of Osama bin Laden and the leaders of al-Qaeda, and the creator of Hamas. Rather than being quarantined, the Brotherhood-dominated government in Cairo has received hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid and F-16 bomber jets from the Obama administration that had facilitated its rise to power.

    Oh brother – in response, this tells us the following…

    (In Egypt) The Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda hate each other. The former view the latter as terrorists, and the latter view the former as traitors to the cause. Critics of the Muslim Brotherhood often cite a common ideological ancestor of both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda, Sayyid Qutb, to draw connections between them. But this obscures the depth of the ideological and religious gulf between the two. The willingness of the Brotherhood to pursue its goals through legitimate democratic means, without violence, is precisely the point — and precisely why the Egyptian uprising threatens more extreme groups even if it empowers the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Here’s more from Horowitz…

    In Libya, al-Qaeda terrorists overran an American consular compound and murdered the U.S. ambassador and three brave staffers. The attack took place in a country that had recently been destabilized by Obama’s own intervention to oust its dictator.

    I guess it was inevitable that Horowitz would invoke BENGHAZI!!, but as far as presidents destabilizing countries goes, let’s not forget that, as noted here, U.S. diplomat David Foy was murdered in Pakistan the same day that Number 43 agreed to send nukes to India, as noted here (and I don’t recall hearing a peep of protest at the time from Huckleberry Graham, Gramps McCain, or any other supposed foreign policy Repug Senatorial genius – hat tip to Bob Cesca for that info on Pakistan, as noted here…and by the way, on the whole BENGHAZI!!! thing, isn’t this interesting?).

    I could go on, but you get the idea (and to demonstrate what a supposedly enlightened character Horowitz is, not, here are some of his reactions to people who disagree with him).

  • Also, I give you the latest foul activities of that insect Jesse Watters, promoted as you might expect by Fix Noise here

    (Watters is) headed to Columbia University to get the community’s reaction to the decision to hire Kathy Boudin, a convicted cop killer, and confronts the controversial professor about her actions.

    As noted here, however…

    As a member of various radical militant groups during the 1960s and 1970s, Boudin advocated extreme measures to combat what she saw as racism, sexism, and American imperialism. And then, in 1981, she participated in the armed robbery of a Brinks security truck–and although she carried no weapon nor directly caused any injuries, she was, in her own words, “morally responsible for all the tragic consequences that resulted.” Nobody pretends to justify Boudin’s actions–they were repugnant.

    However, in the years that followed, Boudin tried to make amends. At Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, where she was incarcerated, Boudin founded AIDS Counseling and Education, a women’s group that provided support for HIV-infected women, combated stigmatism and harassment in the prison, and made sure that women had access to needed medication. She organized programs for teenagers with incarcerated mothers, taught classes on parenting, and helped Columbia Law School teach inmates about the rights and responsibilities of incarcerated parents. She published scholarship about her work in–among other places–the Harvard Educational Review.

    Yes, what Boudin once did was wrong. But even though Boudin’s conduct and actions with the Weather Underground were awful and remain so, she didn’t engage in violent activity or shoot the Brinks officer whose father wrote the commentary on Fix Noise (I would have a problem with someone interfering with commerce if they were engaged in the destructive activity Boudin was engaged in or blocking a Planned Parenthood clinic, as Watters was involved in here and here).

    And by the way, as long as we’re talking about Planned Parenthood here, I want to say that I think we’re looking at the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell exactly the wrong way – yes, the evidence is horrific, and the full weight of the law should be brought down if he’s found guilty (here).

    However, in consideration of this item, maybe with proper teen and pre-teen sex-ed and related funding, do you think just one of those tiny lives would have been spared or prevented from conception if, just maybe, Planned Parenthood had been demonized just a little bit less? And if that had been the case, with more P.P. funding, would there have even been a need for Gosnell’s clinic at all?

  • 050813_sergei-bobrovsky_600

  • Finally, turning to the world of sports, congratulations to former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (pictured), now with the Columbus Blue Jackets, for earning a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, the NHL’s highest award to goalies (here). Other nominees are Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks (Niemi, by the way, was once available as a free agent after the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, and the Flyers could have signed him, but instead chose to give $3 million to Jody Shelley, who will probably never be anything more than a goon).

    Here are the other former Flyers currently still active in the NHL 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs:

    Arron Asham (New York Rangers)
    Daniel Carcillo (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Darroll Powe (New York Rangers)
    Dennis Seidenberg (Boston Bruins)
    Harry Zolnierczyk (Anaheim Ducks)
    James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs)
    Jaromir Jagr (Boston Bruins)
    Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings)
    Joffrey Lupul (Toronto Maple Leafs)
    Justin Williams (Los Angeles Kings)
    Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis Blues)
    Luca Sbisa (Anaheim Ducks)
    Mark Eaton (Pittsburgh Penguins)
    Martin Biron (New York Rangers)
    Michal Handzus (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Mike Richards (Los Angeles Kings)
    Patrick Sharp (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Ray Emery (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Steve Eminger (New York Rangers)

    Good luck to one and all.

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    Tuesday Mashup (2/12/13)

    February 12, 2013
  • It looks like VA Repug governor Bob McDonnell was in these parts recently telling the party faithful that the “pity party” is over (here).

    So what does he propose as a “solution” to his party’s recent electoral woes?

    It’s time for Republicans to stop coming across as sour-faced free-market scolds, he said. Conservative principles are not the problem, he said; history has shown small government and free markets to be the world’s best engines for human freedom. The problem? Tone. It’s time for Republicans to be “happy warriors,” he said.

    Yeah, it’s the tone, that’s all.

    Maybe McDonnell should sing and dance while trying to cheat Virginia public employees out of “Obamacare” coverage (here). Either that, or he could sponsor a karaoke night to publicize legislation that, in essence, makes discrimination by university student groups in his state legal (here).

    Or how about a happy hour announcing plans to pay for road construction in VA by taxing the poor (here)? Or an all-night bowling marathon to announce restrictive new anti-abortion regulations that McDonnell certified, as noted here?

    McDonnell and his pals think that all they need to do is dump more perfume on the proverbial pig, and that will be good enough to start reversing his party’s sorry electoral trend. Fine – he should go with that (and as usual on this matter and many others also, I trust the sage words of Professor Krugman, as noted here).

  • Next, I give you the following (here)…

    Subsidies for wind power could lead to the shutdown of nuclear power plants, warned Exelon Corp. CEO Christopher Crane.

    “What worries me is if we continue to build an excessive amount of wind and subsidize wind, the unintended consequence could be that it leads to shutting down plants,” Crane told the Chicago Tribune, adding that states which have subsidized wind power might see jobs disappear if nuclear plants shut down.

    A report by the NorthBridge group found that this “negative pricing” of electricity from wind subsidies means less investment will go into conventional power generation which imperils the reliability of the electrical system.

    This is about what we can expect from Crane; as noted here, the nuke industry has been doing all it can to fight the so-called “production tax credit” that funds wind energy development, stupidly pitting one source of energy development against another (the Think Progress post also tells us that the “study” by the NorthBridge Group, an economic and strategic consulting firm upon which Crane’s alarmism is based, has been described as “deeply flawed” by TP Guest Blogger Richard W. Caperton for the reasons he cites).

    Also, this tells us the following about the phenomenon of “negative pricing”…

    Michael Goggin, (the American Wind Energy Association’s) manager of transmission policy, said negative prices in the wholesale electricity market are rare and occur because there is not sufficient transmission. But the problem, he said, is isolated to certain regions and will be alleviated in the coming months and years as new power lines are built to connect customers to pockets of wind power in Texas and Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

    Goggin also said wind energy is inexpensive, regardless of the tax incentives, because wind power has no fuel cost and has extremely low variable costs for operation and maintenance. The PTC, he said, has very little effect on real-time electricity prices. Electricity prices have also been going “negative” for decades because nuclear reactors exceed power demand at night, he said.

    “Claims that the wind energy production tax credit is causing negative prices are misguided, as negative prices are extremely rare and would occur anyway even if the [production tax credit] did not exist,” Goggin wrote in a blog post this week.

    And as you might expect, TP tells us that Congressional Repugs Lamar Alexander and Mike Pompeo are working with Crane and Exelon in their efforts to “break wind” (sorry…too easy).

  • Continuing, I give you another Ron Fournier special from The National Journal (here)…

    White House officials tell me they feel stung by coverage of the inaugural address. Reporters highlighted the president’s left-leaning stances on immigration, gun control, climate change and gay and women’s rights. Obama’s aides argue that he devoted more inaugural address language to the economy, jobs and the deficit than all other issues combined.

    Still, the perception remains that Obama lost focus on the economy — the top issue in the minds of most voters.

    I cannot possibly imagine that I will ever teach a course in journalism, but if I did and I received something like this from a student, I would fail that person (I know it’s been a little while since we visited with Fournier, but he was notorious for stuff like this when he was employed by the AP).

    For you see, Obama’s “left-leaning” stance on immigration is actually quite popular (here), as is his stance on gun control (here). And while he could’ve done more on the climate, consider his Repug opposition in Congress as well as some coal-state Democrats, including Bob Casey, as noted here (and how can his stance be “left-leaning” when he really hasn’t been able to do much about it?). Also, Obama enjoys majority support on the issue of marriage equality (here), and the LGBT community definitely came out, as they say, for him in ’08 here (and as far as I’m concerned, Fourier’s reference to “women’s rights” is just corporate media shorthand for the Repugs’ war on those dreaded lady parts, and to see whether or not that was successful, look at the results of the last election).

    This is part and parcel of how Fournier operates, though; as noted here, he told Karl Rove to “keep up the fight” and continue to ignore subpoenas from Congress; in that same post, I also pointed out that Fournier used the occasion of Dubya commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence to attack the Clintons (???) and also said that a “Democratic interest group” aired a TV ad comparing Dubya to Hitler, which was and remains false. He also claimed here that Obama needed Biden to shore up his “weakness” on foreign policy, a “weakness” shared by almost every single other Presidential candidate who has ever run for the job in the last 20 or so years, with the possible exceptions of Poppy Bush, John Kerry, and “Straight Talk” McCain back when he was an actual maverick.

    Unsubstantiated dreck like this exists for one reason only, and that is to propagate the utterly false narrative that Number 44 is really some sort of a closet liberal who (and you just watch!) is going to totally turn over a new leaf one day and resurrect his ACORN army to take everyone’s guns and start dropping money from helicopters for “the poors” and “the blahs” (and this will happen right about at the time when austerity actually creates full employment).

  • Finally, I would like to recall some items to commemorate the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, as noted here (to begin, I didn’t know he could actually do that – I thought part of the job description is that those guys had to “die with their boots on”…shows what I know).
  • Here, he gave a speech about the prophet Muhammad and Islam in which he referred to “jihad” and “holy war” (oops – the apology came soon thereafter).
  • He defended “intelligent design” here and expressed the hope that he would have a “short papacy” (looks like he’ll get his wish).
  • He said that condoms promoted African AIDS, or words to that effect, here (yes, I know Church teaching on that subject, but particularly in that area of the world, condoms save lives).
  • There was a time when he was putting his foot in his mouth on a regular basis (a compilation is here), though he definitely tightened up his message discipline, as they say.
  • He, at best, tolerated “liberation theology” when he should have embraced it (here).
  • Announced “The Ten Commandments For Drivers” here (“Thou shalt not txt OMG!! while changing lanes eastbound on the PA Turnpike weeknights at 6 PM.”)
  • To be fair, I should note that he spoke out strongly in defense of the environment here (Think Progress notes this and other positive and negative moments with Benedict here).
  • There were times when I wanted to smack my open palm against my forehead while Benedict was pope. And make no mistake that the Catholic Church has taken an ever-harder right turn under his watch. But as a Roman Catholic, it would be fundamentally wrong for me not to acknowledge that, until he steps down, he remains the Vicar of Christ, and as such, I’ll pray for his good health.

    Update: John Patrick Shanley has the guts to actually say what I only thought about here.


  • Thursday Mashup (2/7/13)

    February 8, 2013

  • With the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers having just played another Super Bowl (the Ravens won, of course)…well, you just knew there would be a story like this (a little late here, I know)…

    The Parents Television Council urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday to take action against CBS for airing a curse word during its coverage of Sunday’s Super Bowl.

    Immediately after the game ended, an exuberant Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens’s quarterback, could be heard saying “f—ing awesome” to one of his teammates.

    “Despite empty assurance after empty assurance from the broadcast networks that they would never air indecent material, especially during the Super Bowl, it has happened again,” Tim Winter, the Parents Television Council’s president, said in a statement.

    “No one should be surprised that a jubilant quarterback might use profane language while celebrating a career-defining win, but that is precisely the reason why CBS should have taken precautions,” he said. “Joe Flacco’s use of the f-word, while understandable, does not absolve CBS of its legal obligation to prevent profane language from being broadcast — especially during something as uniquely pervasive as the Super Bowl.”

    I should let Tim Winter know that, when the Phillies won the World Series in ’08, the team held a party at Citizens Bank Park, and everyone on the team as well as the coaches and the announcers spoke to the fans. In the course of the festivities, Chase Utley unleashed an “F” blast heard all over the place, and I don’t recall that anyone fell down and died or turned into a pillar of salt.

    Simply put, this is just another excuse for a “values” freeloader like Winter to let everyone know he’s still around (“I’ll take ‘Desperately Trying To Remain Relevant’ for 100, Alex!” – more here). And here is more on the Parents Television Council, including the fact that it was founded by the perpetually angry Brent Bozell.

    In other Super Bowl news, this tells us who was upset over the performance of Beyoncé at halftime, and this tells us that at least one person was upset by the performance of the national anthem by Alycia Keys because she was sitting down, even though she was apparently quite good also (full disclosure: I saw a few minutes of the second quarter, including the fake field goal and Dwayne Johnson’s milk commercial, both of which I thought were pretty cool, and that was about it).

    You know what, people? If you don’t like what you’re watching, then change the channel and tune into something else. Or, if you want to do something really “cutting edge,” try reading a book or a newspaper instead (or maybe this blog :-)).

  • Next, I’m going to go for more “low-hanging fruit” here with Kristol Mess on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense (here)…

    Our brave men and women in uniform deserve better than Chuck Hagel. Are there any courageous liberal voices who will find it within themselves to say so? Are there a few courageous Democrats in the United States Senate who will announce that they will not consent to a secretary of defense unqualified for that high office? Is there even one Democratic senator who will hearken to President Kennedy’s admonition, “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much”?

    I’ll admit that I really don’t have a lot to add, only to point out from here that Hagel earned two Purple Hearts, an Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his military service.

    And when it came to the prospect of serving our country, the only thing Kristol did was run away with all speed (here).

    And Kristol is the one trying to invoke courage…

    I understand that there are substantive disagreements people have with the Hagel nomination. But let’s make them on a fair appraisal and not on the partisan spin of one side or another (including more on Kristol’s ridiculous charge here that Hagel is “anti-Israel” and said that Iraq was a war for oil…Hagel didn’t say that last part either, though that is most definitely correct).

    Aside from Number 44’s sometimes ridiculous attempts to be “post-partisan,” I don’t know why he could not have settled for a Democrat as Secretary of Defense instead. But I have no substantive disagreement with Hagel; his service is commendable, and at least he recognized that we needed to stop digging the proverbial hole in Iraq and said as much. So I’m inclined to give him a chance.

    Which of course means that the Repugs in the U.S. Senate will do everything possible to obstruct Hagel even more (here).

  • Continuing, I give you more corporate media tut-tutting from Howard Kurtz here

    Now it’s true that Fox or Rush can boost or batter any lawmaker, and that they can help drive a controversy into the broader mainstream media. But we’re talking here about the president of the United States. He has an army, a navy and a bunch of nuclear weapons, not to mention an ability to command the airwaves at a moment’s notice. And he’s complaining about a cable channel and a radio talk show host?

    Sooo…as far as Kurtz is concerned, Number 44 is supposed to just shut up and take any nonsense doled out by The Roger Ailes BS Factory?

    But Kurtz of course has no issue with attacking Fix Noise himself, and rightly so, calling out Sean Inanity here for defending a typically scurrilous race baiting mess from The Daily Tucker. Also, the Foxies couldn’t wait to report the ruling by The Supremes that the health care law was unconstitutional last June…of course, the problem is that such a ruling was never handed down (here). And Kurtz called out Bill Orally here for not apologizing for messing up on the health care ruling in particular (if O’Reilly apologized for all of his screw-ups, he wouldn’t have time to do anything else, though he did issue a mea culpa the next day).

    Media Matters provided a better take-down of Kurtz here; I guess Kurtz thinks the Repugs are supposed to run the show, he and his media pals are supposed to be the referees, and the Dems are supposed to retreat to a neutral corner and be quiet (a perfect formula for electoral losses by our side, by the way).

  • Further, somebody named Chris Edwards over at Irrational Spew Online concocted the following from here (there’s a lot I could get into from his joke of an opinion column, but I’ll focus on the following for now)…

    High-speed rail represents another federal effort to create a one-size-fits-all solution for the country. The economic justification for high-speed rail is weak, yet the Obama administration is trying to impose its grand rail vision on the whole nation. Such infrastructure decisions should be left to the states. If California wants to blow its own money on a boondoogle (sp) rail system, it can do so, but the federal government shouldn’t foist the costs on the rest of us.

    Yeah, don’t you hate it when the federal government engages in its “boondoogle” projects (if you’re going to be snarky, learn how to spell first, OK?).

    To begin, this tells us that Repug Governors Lex Luthor Scott, John Kasich and Scott Walker all turned down high speed rail funds (in Scott’s case, to the disappointment of John Mica, U.S. House Repug and Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee). Also (and taking a page out of Edwards’ playbook I’m sure), Erick (“Son of Erick”) Erickson cropped comments by former Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to make it sound like the latter supported the Chinese over this country on infrastructure (uh, no).

    More to the point, this tells us why the federal government should have a role in infrastructure projects, along with the attendant benefits (for example, does anything think we actually would have our highway transportation system from coast to coast if it had been left up totally to the states?). And this tells us how the Repugs have blocked transportation infrastructure projects, thus hindering our recovery (though they have no trouble with funding infrastructure in places like Afghanistan, as noted here).

    And as long as Edwards decided to take a shot at the “Big Dig” project in Massachusetts, the following should be noted from here

    The Big Dig is a marvel, even considering the construction problems that have surfaced since the project officially concluded in 2007. Traffic jams still occur in Boston but nothing like those on the elevated Central Artery and en route to and from Logan Airport when the only access was through the Sumner and Callahan Tunnels. A trip from the South Shore to Logan, which on weekdays was a crawl and stall through the tunnel, is now a breeze.

    The birth of a new Boston waterfront is not just a boon for tourists. The Seaport District finally is taking off. A few years ago the Institute of Contemporary Art was a lonely addition near the federal courthouse. Now the area is filled with new restaurants, a neighborhood of galleries and 1,700 new apartments built or planned. The new housing is a lure for young college grads especially; they have been leaving Boston in large part because of expensive housing costs and a dearth of apartments close to downtown offices.

    All this means more business – housing and entertainment dollars that add more money to the state’s bottom line. A good chunk of that money goes back to the cities and towns in the form of local aid, something lawmakers conveniently forget when they rail against what they call a Boston project. The capital city will always be the state’s primary economic engine, so what’s good for Boston is good for residents from Plymouth to the Berkshires.

    And as if we need another reality check on this issue, allow me to provide the following from here.

  • Finally, it looks like former Repug U.S. House Rep and (still, to my knowledge) deadbeat dad Joe Walsh is forming his own Teahadist Super Pac for the 2014 midterm congressional elections here (dear God, are we in this cycle already??!!).

    So let’s backtrack for a minute and look at where we are, OK?

    The name of Walsh’s former peer in the House, Steve King of Iowa, gets floated around a bit as the potential Repug candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Iowa formerly held by the departing Dem Tom Harkin (here).

    Karl Rove responds with this.

    And now, Joe Walsh responds also here (aren’t circular firing squads fun?).

    All of which makes me want to say the following (for the primary election anyway)…

    GO STEVE, GO!


  • Friday Mashup (12/7/12)

    December 8, 2012
  • In a column that otherwise has some sensible moments in it, Michael Sivy of Time concocts the following from here

    While it is true that a large deficit in any particular year is not a problem, longer term trends do matter. If national debt is relatively low – less than 50% of annual GDP, say – there’s plenty of room to spend in the short run and then balance the budget later. This is basically what happened over the course of the combined Reagan and Clinton administrations. The result was an economic boom that lasted more than 20 years.

    The article likes to a chart of GDP stretching back to The Sainted Ronnie R, claiming that prosperity was built on low debt from then until now, which is hilarious when you consider this (so much so that Reagan raised the debt ceiling 17 times, as noted here, with #43, Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, doing so 7 times…by the way, Number 40 commendably raised the taxes on capital gains relative to wages, as noted here).

    Between the administrations of Reagan and Number 42, Poppy Bush presided over an economic downturn that, albeit relatively brief, was just long enough to pave the way for Bill Clinton’s election (interesting that Sivy managed to forget that – of course, if he had, what passes for his argument would have fallen apart).

    Not to be outdone, Teahadist Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin also tried to claim that Reagan was responsible for Clinton’s success here before he was slapped down by Bob Shrum (and how funny is it for Johnson to claim that all he needed was lower tax rates to start his business when you consider this?).

  • gwb_13-george-w-bush

  • Continuing, I know I just mentioned the ever-odious predecessor to President Obama above, but it bears repeating that yesterday (12/6) was the sixth anniversary of the findings of the Iraq Study Group, which announced in 2006 what just about any sentient being already knew by that point. And that is that Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Mesopotamia was an abysmal failure.

    And how did the overmatched man-child in An Oval Office respond? With this. And ultimately, as all of his horrendously awful decisions did, leading to this.

  • Next, we have U.S. Senate Repug Jeff Sessions from Alabama making a lot of noise here at Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for supposedly encouraging food stamp use by Mexican immigrants, or something.

    I wonder if Sessions knows that the number of his constituents who have signed up for food stamps has increased by 20 percent, as noted here? Or that food stamps are actually an economic stimulus, as noted here?

    Of course, why deal with reality when there are political talking points to propagate instead, right?

  • Turning to the pages of the Murdoch Street Journal, Turd Blossom himself (no escaping from Dubya’s awful legacy is there?) propagandizes as follows here

    …there are considerable downsides for Mr. Obama if the nation goes over the fiscal cliff. His approval rating (51% in the most recent Gallup Poll weekly average) will probably drop, as it did during the July 2011 debt-ceiling battle. While Congress’s standing dipped a little then, the president’s Gallup rating sank to 38% in August 2011 (from 47% at the start of the year). It didn’t get back to 50% until April 2012.

    As noted here, even though Obama’s approval numbers were admittedly not great during that farce, he and the Senate Dems polled better than Orange Man and his Repug pals in the U.S. House.

    Continuing…

    By contrast, when Mr. Obama and Republicans amicably agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two more years following the 2010 midterm elections, his job-approval rating rose to 49% from 43% over the course of 10 days. Deadlock, controversy and stalemate cause Mr. Obama’s numbers to drop. Bipartisan agreement causes them to rise.

    Rove is actually partly right on this; shocking, I know – of course, the part he doesn’t mention is that the GOP congressional numbers slipped by comparison also, as noted here (and of course, the vote was so “amicable” that Boehner called it “chicken (crap),” as noted here).

    At least Fix Noise actually had the good sense to tell Rove to take a seat for a while (here), though he’ll no doubt be back. Wonder if the Journal is keen to do the same thing?

  • Finally (and sticking with President Obama), I give you the latest bit of right-wing umbrage here

    “2016: Obama’s America,” a conservative documentary, raked in more money than all the 15 films being considered for the Best Documentary Academy Award combined. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday announced “2016″ won’t even get a shot to win a nomination for the award.

    Gerald Molen, the Oscar-winning producer of “Schindler’s List” and “2016,” blames Hollywood’s “bias against anything from a conservative point of view” for the Academy Award snub, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

    The film, directed by conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, earned $33.4 million nationwide, making it the highest-grossing documentary of the year.

    “Dinesh warned me this might happen,” Molen told THR. “The action confirms my opinion that the bias against anything from a conservative point of view is dead on arrival in Hollywood circles. The film’s outstanding success means that America went to see the documentary in spite of how Hollywood feels about it.”

    For his part, D’Souza jokingly thanked the Academy for “not nominating our film.”

    You want to know why this piece of propaganda didn’t receive an Oscar nomination? Read the following from here

    Why is the film called “2016”? D’Souza’s one-sided argument ultimately stoops to fear-mongering of the worst kind, stating in no uncertain terms that, if the president is reelected, the world four years from now will be darkened by the clouds of economic collapse, World War III (thanks to the wholesale renunciation of our nuclear superiority) and a terrifyingly ascendant new “United States of Islam” in the Middle East. These assertions are accompanied by footage of actual dark clouds and horror-movie music.

    The real bogeyman isn’t Obama, who D’Souza acknowledges can come across as an appealing and charismatic leader. That honor is shared by several men D’Souza refers to as Obama’s “founding fathers,” in an unsubtle dig at the president’s patriotism. It’s a group that includes communist Frank Marshall Davis; former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers; academic Edward Said, whose views are described as anti-Zionist; liberal Harvard professor Roberto Unger; and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a proponent of so-called black liberation theology.

    None of the names of these putative villains is new, which gives “2016” the air of a “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequel, pandering to the franchise’s hard-core fans, while boring everyone else.

    More on D’Souza and his history of hateful fictions can be found here.

    Here is another reason why I’m not particularly sympathetic to any conservative argument about supposedly being slighted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which sounds all high-falutin’ I know, though it is hardly that, despite the way they get dressed up at the Oscars) – anybody out there besides me remember a 1994 documentary called “Hoop Dreams”?

    As Wikipedia tells us…

    The film follows William Gates and Arthur Agee, two African-American teenagers who are recruited by a scout from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominantly white high school with an outstanding basketball program, whose alumni include NBA great Isiah Thomas. Taking 90-minute commutes to school, enduring long and difficult workouts and practices, and acclimatising to a foreign social environment, Gates and Agee struggle to improve their athletic skills in a job market with heavy competition. Along the way, their families celebrate their successes and support each other during times of economic hardship caused from the school change.

    The film raises a number of issues concerning race, class, economic division, education and values in contemporary America. It also offers one of the most intimate views of inner-city life to be captured on film. Yet it is also the human story of two young men, their two families and their community, and the joys and struggles they live from their recruitment in 1987 through their college freshman year (1991-92).

    Wikipedia also tells us that the film ended up earning about $11 million, which I know is a third of what this anti-Obama nonsense pulled in (I would argue that it will continue to earn money in video rentals, though obviously not as much as it earned years ago).

    Here is the kicker, though – as Roger Ebert and others have pointed out, “Hoop Dreams” was easily the best documentary the year it was made, and it wasn’t nominated for anything either (and good luck trying to find a conservative agenda in the compelling stories of William Gates and Arthur Agee).

    Of course, Molen and D’Souza could try to make a film following up on Gates and Agee if they felt compelled to right the wrong of that film’s denial of a nomination years ago, as opposed to their own.

    And I would expect that to take place at about the time hell freezes over (and speaking of Ebert, best wishes to him, on the mend as noted here).


  • Friday Mashup Part One (9/24/10)

    September 24, 2010

  • 1) It seems that “Governor Bully” is going to be appearing on “Oprah” shortly today (probably has already by now); as noted here…

    The Oprah Show, which flashes on Garden State screens in just a few hours, features the Oprah-adulation of (Newark Mayor Cory) Booker you expect (she’s given millions herself to…Newark), but also features a warm hug from herself to the Governor. Makes me wonder if her people prepped her to understand that while we’re talking $100 million, he just pulled a $400 million dollar rug out from the rest of New Jersey’s kids.

    Also, I thought this post (cross-posted from Blue Jersey) had some interesting thoughts on that state’s public employee pension crisis, particularly the following…

    …I say we call his bluff.

    If Christie’s “reforms” go through, the NJEA (that state’s most influential teacher’s union…not sure if there are any other such organizations – ed.) ought to turn to him and say: “OK, in that case, we’re out. You are on the hook for all current obligations – but our members are no longer going to contribute. Everyone not vested gets their money back with interest; no one contributes anything more into the system.

    “Instead, WE”LL run the whole thing. We’ll move to defined contribution if we have to, but it will be better than the raw deal you’re proposing. We’ll take over all retirement benefits from now on, and we’ll be overseen by members, a public board, and federal regulators – certainly better than what we have now. So you don’t get to touch our money any more – you’re out.

    “And we’ll negotiate employer contributions with the districts. Try to stop that and we’ll see you in the Supreme Court.”

    In many ways, it would be his worst nightmare. ALL obligations would have to be met by the state’s contributions and investment returns. I’d love to see him weasel out of that one.

    Well, I can dream…

    No word on whether or not Christie would be amenable to this; as noted here, he’s been busy confronting hecklers at GOP campaign events, among other non-NJ-related events (and just what on earth is he doing traveling across the country campaigning for other GOP pols anyway?).

  • 2) Also, I’ve noticed our corporate media suddenly paying attention to American Crossroads, the Karl Rove/Ed Gillespie-fronted GOP fundraising outfit relying on a few well-off donors and corporations (as this tells us, they raised $2.6 million in August).

    That’s not bad, I’ll admit, but as noted here, Act Blue raised about $6.7 million in July and August; split the difference at about $3.35 mil apiece, and that still beats what American Crossroads did over the same period.

    Yes, I know I shouldn’t get preoccupied with the “horserace” political stuff either, but all I’m asking is that you remember this the next time you find yourself hearing more than you’ll ever want to know about Republican party activism (particularly those zany characters with their funny hats and racist/violent signs – more on them in a minute) and next to nothing about what is going on with the other side.

  • 3) Finally, if you’re like me, I’ll bet you’re just chomping at the bit, as it were, when it comes to finding out whether or not the core constituency (or so they think) of the Republican Party supports “Contract on America II” unveiled this week (and I’m talking about those “values voter” “fundies” – here)…

    Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released a statement Thursday morning on the House Republican leadership’s “Pledge to America.”

    “While I have some disappointment that the pledge to honor the values issues such as traditional marriage were not more clearly defined within the document, this is a significant improvement over the 94 Contact with America which was silent on the moral issues. The Pledge is not exceptional, but it is satisfactory, as it does lay a foundation to build upon, and it moves Congressional Republicans to a place of public acknowledgment that values issues are to be a part of the conservative way forward.”

    And I guess it should be thoroughly unsurprising to note that Perkins has said that gays should be allowed to serve “if you want a military that just does parades” (here).

    Despite that somewhat tepid endorsement, Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition stated as follows (here)…

    The agenda embraces time-honored values like traditional marriage and ending taxpayer-funded abortion as well as lower taxes and reduced spending. The message was unmistakable: we will not be divided by a false choice between fiscal responsibility and strong families. We will fight for both, and indeed we must do both if we are to restore America’s promise.

    And I thought this was particularly funny from Reed…

    Pro-family candidates are the most likely to be fiscal conservatives, and Tea Party candidates are the most likely to be pro-life.


    No word on whether or not their “pro-life” bona fides extend to those with whom they disagree of course.

    In a related note, some of our lower life forms are gathering at Shady Brook Farm in Lower Makefield, PA apparently to re-enact “Lord of the Flies,” which should begin any moment (here) – my kingdom for the EPA dome over Springfield from “The Simpsons’ Movie.”


  • Karl Rove “Goes There” On Katrina And The BP Spill

    May 27, 2010

    roveAs noted here…

    Today in the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove pens an op-ed titled: “Yes, the Gulf Spill is Obama’s Katrina.” He predictably places blame on Obama for a “lethargic,” “slow,” and “unacceptable” response to the BP oil spill. But the real significance of the op-ed is not what Rove has to say about Obama; rather, it’s that Rove is implicitly acknowledging that Bush screwed up the response to Katrina. Rove is essentially trying to make the case that Obama mismanaged a disaster almost as terribly as he and Bush did.

    This is breaking news because, for years, despite all the evidence to the contrary, Rove has defended his administration’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina.

    And “Bush’s Brain” began his at-least-once-a-month-Obama-bashing screed today as follows…

    As President Obama prepares to return to the Gulf Coast Friday, he is receiving increasing criticism for his handling of the oil spill. For good reason: Since the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up on April 20, a lethargic Team Obama has delayed or blown off key decisions requested by state and local governments and left British Petroleum in charge of developing a plan to cap the massive leak.

    The “delayed or blown off key decisions” is a typical Repug smear, of course. And I think it’s more than a little perverse that the people who now criticize Obama for letting BP take the lead on this before the company finally owed up to the fact that they didn’t know what they were doing would probably be the first to complain that Number 44 is staging some kind of a “big gumint” takeover of the oil biz if the situation weren’t so catastrophic.

    And as far as the part about “state and local governments,” I think the following should be kept in mind from here (concerning Louisiana’s governor “Kenneth The Page”)…

    For their part, White House officials are puzzled by Jindal’s increasing criticism of their efforts. The governor and his staff have been in nearly constant contact with Obama’s team since the first days of the spill, and those interactions have been cordial and businesslike, with little of the sharp rhetoric of his most recent public statements, administration officials maintain.

    “Everything he’s asked for, he’s gotten, except for the sand idea, which has some real possible problems,” said one official familiar with the situation.

    On Monday, Jindal met with administration officials, emerging to tell reporters he was frustrated with federal efforts to place containment booms around endangered coastal wetlands before the brown tide of oil seeps into fragile marshland.

    Jindal said the administration had deployed 815,569 feet of hard containment boom, but claimed the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security have yet to act on a request for 5 million additional feet of hard boom that he made on May 2, less than two weeks after the spill started.

    “It is clear that the resources needed to protect our coast are not here,” he said. “Boom, skimmers, vacuums and jack-up barges are all in short supply. Every day oil sits and waits for clean up, more of our marsh dies.”

    Allen, who is coordinating the federal response, told reporters Monday that he will consider the request once the demands of a multistate “contingency plan” for the spill are met.

    Democratic critics aren’t the only ones put off by Jindal. Some Republicans favor the more laidback approach of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman, who has stood up for the oil industry and suggested that liberal environmentalists are exploiting the catastrophe to curtail deep sea drilling.

    “Haley has actually taken the smarter approach, from a national perspective,” said a GOP operative close to both politicians. “Haley doesn’t have oil on his beaches. … But he has taken the long view, that this shouldn’t kill an important source of energy. Bobby has been a little frantic, running around, much more concerned about how he’ll look on tonight’s TV news.”

    “Liberal environmentalists trying to curtail deep sea drilling” – I’ll laugh over that absurdity if any species of ocean life ends up living in the Gulf after this tragedy is over, assuming it ever is.

    As Think Progress tells us above, though, the real takeaway here is Turd Blossom’s admission that he and his boss screwed up on Katrina after years of typical denials.

    Though, as recently as last March, he said the following (here, to sell his book of course)…

    Rove insisted, as the White House did at the time, that it wasn’t clear how desperate the situation was. He blamed local and state officials in Louisiana for the failure to communicate and said the federal government lacked “real-time information” on what was going on in New Orleans. Critics have said all he had to do was turn on the television to see how desperate the situation was.

    “The media did not have real-time information. The media led people to believe there were snipers,” Rove said, which kept rescuers out of some neighborhoods. “You didn’t know about the suffering at the convention center until the government did. But the government should have known about it earlier. That’s one of the big reforms to come out of Katrina.”

    So it was the fault of the media and “local and state officials” during Katrina. Who of course are utterly blameless now, as opposed to Obama (and I thought this was interesting on the supposed “snipers” in New Orleans after Katrina hit; also, here is a pretty comprehensive post on all the ways that the prior ruling cabal of which Rove was a charter member did all it could to exacerbate Katrina’s impact).

    If any heads are going to roll on Team Obama, I would say that Ken Salazar’s should be on the proverbial chopping block, though the first person to go has done so, as noted here (not sure what Elizabeth Birnbaum or any other human being could have done to undo the mess of the Minerals Management Service in less than a year, but there you are).

    Rove has always been one of the all-time greats, I hate to admit, when it comes to peddling just enough dookey in a public forum that seems believable to the easily led but repellant enough to not quite enough people to do anything about it. However, there are limits to all human faculties, particularly the sense of smell, and on this occasion, he has vigorously cleared that threshold.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go buy a case of Glade so I can fumigate my workspace.


    Sweeping More “Turd Blossom” BS Under The “Afghan Rug”

    October 22, 2009

    rove“Bush’s Brain” opined as follows in the Murdoch Street Journal yesterday…

    In an interview with CNN’s John King on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said President Obama is now asking tough questions about Afghanistan “that have never been asked on the civilian side, the political side, the military side and the strategic side.” It was a not so subtle dig at Mr. Obama’s predecessor and was meant to distract from the White House’s mishandling of the war.

    The Bush administration did in fact conduct a top-to-bottom strategic review of Afghanistan in 2008. That review was provoked by two developments.

    The first was that Pakistan’s government wobbled starting in 2006. It cut deals with tribes that created safe havens for the Taliban and al Qaeda and then became distracted from fighting terrorism as President Pervez Musharraf was pressured to leave office and replaced by a new democratic government. The second was al Qaeda’s decision to refocus its efforts on Afghanistan after having been driven from Iraq.

    In response, I’d like to provide this link that tells us that, while the threat of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq was quite real, to say nothing of the suicide attacks, “Pentagon documents leaked to the Washington Post (around April 2006) regarding Zarqawi have revealed that Al Qaeda in Iraq is fabricated.” And just to refresh our memories, this McClatchy story tells us the pains the Bushco regime went through to try and fabricate a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

    And as far as the Obama White House’s supposed “mishandling of the war,” Cenk Uygur “keeps his eye on the ball,” so to speak, by telling us the following (here)…

    Right now, there is a debate as to what President Obama should do in Afghanistan. As there should be. Should he send in more troops? Does it make sense to escalate the war without a viable partner in the Afghan government? Will this be his Vietnam? Woh, woh, woh whose Vietnam?

    What is not being talked about enough is the disastrous situation George Bush left for Obama in Afghanistan (as he did in just about every aspect of government). What the hell did Bush do in Afghanistan for over seven years? Apparently, not a damn thing.

    Do you know how many troops Bush had in Afghanistan in early 2008? He had an unbelievably small contingent of 26,000 troops in the whole country. At the same time, he had 160,000 troops in Iraq. I don’t know if you know this, but Iraq did not attack us. The people who did attack us on 9/11 lived in … Afghanistan.

    So Bush had 26K troops in Afghanistan, and we’re debating about whether or not we should have almost four times that amount now.

    And before any of this occurred, Afghanistan had been our radar, as it were, since the Soviets were driven out of the country, mainly for the following reason (as noted here)…

    The strategic location of Afghanistan can scarcely be overstated. The Caspian Basin contains up to $16 trillion worth of oil and gas resources, and the most direct pipeline route to the richest markets is through Afghanistan.

    The Alternet article discusses in length how the American company Unocal (aided by an Arabian company, Delta Oil) fought Bridas, an Argentine energy company, who had leases to drill for oil in the region…

    …and by November of 1996 (Bridas) had signed an agreement with General Dostum of the Northern Alliance and with the Taliban to build a pipeline across Afghanistan.

    Unocal wanted exclusive control of the trans-Afghan pipeline and hired a number of consultants in its conflict with Bridas: Henry Kissinger, Richard Armitage (now Deputy Secretary of State in the Bush Administration), Zalmay Khalilzad (a signer of the PNAC letter to President Clinton) and Hamid Karzai.

    Unocal wooed Taliban leaders at its headquarters in Texas, and hosted them in meetings with federal officials in Washington, D.C.

    Unocal and the Clinton Administration hoped to have the Taliban cancel the Bridas contract, but were getting nowhere. Finally, Mr. John J. Maresca, a Unocal Vice President, testified to a House Committee of International Relations on February 12, 1998, asking politely to have the Taliban removed and a stable government inserted. His discomfort was well placed.

    Six months later terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and two weeks after that President Clinton launched a cruise missile attack into Afghanistan. Clinton issued an executive order on July 4, 1999, freezing the Taliban’s U.S.-held assets and prohibiting further trade transactions with the Taliban.

    Mr. Maresca could count that as progress. More would follow.

    Immediately upon taking office, the new Bush Administration actively took up negotiating with the Taliban once more, seeking still to have the Bridas contract vacated, in exchange for a tidy package of foreign aid. The parties met three times, in Washington, Berlin, and Islamablad, but the Taliban wouldn’t budge.

    Behind the negotiations, however, planning was underway to take military action if necessary. In the spring of 2001 the State Department sought and gained concurrence from both India and Pakistan to do so, and in July of 2001, American officials met with Pakistani and Russian intelligence agents to inform them of planned military strikes against Afghanistan the following October. A British newspaper told of the U.S. threatening both the Taliban and Osama bin Laden — two months before 9/11 — with military strikes.

    According to an article in the UK Guardian, State Department official Christina Rocca told the Taliban at their last pipeline negotiation in August of 2001, just five weeks before 9/11, “Accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.”

    And Think Progress tells us of the following from here, as the Iraq war and the neglected Afghanistan war dragged on…

    JANUARY 24, 2006: Army has become “thin green line”
    Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a “thin green line” that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon. [AP, 1/24/06]

    OCTOBER 4, 2006: Iraq and Afghanistan war vets say military is overstretched, underequipped. 63 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans believe the Army and Marine Corps are overextended. 67 percent of Army and Marine veterans believe their forces are overextended. [VoteVets Action Fund, 10/4/2006]

    OCTOBER 19, 2006: Staff on the House Veterans Affairs Committee report that the “number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) doubled — from nearly 4,500 to more than 9,000 — from October 2005 through June 2006.” [McClatchy, 10/18/2006]

    And Bush’s “boy genius” tells us more…

    There is also the heavy whiff of politics in the administration’s war deliberations. The president’s senior political adviser, David Axelrod, apparently attends war cabinet meetings—something I did not do as President Bush’s senior political adviser.

    For Rove to imply that he separated the wars from politics is laughable in the extreme; here is another reminder…

    Implying that Democratic Party liberals were little better than traitors, Rove continued, “Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said: we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said: we must understand our enemies. Conservatives see the United States as a great nation engaged in a noble cause; liberals see the United States and they see … Nazi concentration camps, Soviet gulags, and the killing fields of Cambodia.”

    Yep, I would call that an example of the “heavy whiff” of something, but not politics (certainly befitting of Rove’s nickname, though).

    “Decisive support” of a new Afghan strategy is certainly required, though (one to help remedy the failures of the old strategy, or what passed for one, by Rove and the rest of the disreputable Bushco bunch).

    Update 10/25/09: I guess it shouldn’t at this point any more, but it continually astonishes me how much our lapdog press seems to crave pro-Bushco BS like this (a “secret plan,” huh?).

    Update 10/27/09: And silly me for thinking that Rove was telling the truth about supposedly not participating in “war cabinet meetings”; maybe he didn’t, but he’s a liar for saying that he never participated in high-level national security meetings, as noted here.


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