Tuesday Mashup (6/18/13)

June 18, 2013
  • I give you the following hilarity from The Daily Tucker (here)…

    The House of Representatives voted late (on 6/7) to prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from using taxpayer dollars to buy and stockpile ammunition until they provide a “comprehensive report” to Congress on its ammunition usage, purchase history and contracting practices.

    “Prior to committing taxpayer dollars for ammunition contracts, we must ensure that government agencies justify the necessity and cost to both Congress and the American people,” said Representative Mark Meadows (R.-N.C.), the amendment’s author.

    The House approved the amendment to H.R. 2217, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2014, by a 234-192 vote. Notably, eighteen democrats supported the amendment and only thirteen republicans opposed. Meadows cited concerns over the current practices and purchases of the Department as justification for the proposal.

    As noted here, though…

    Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) said the amendment was unnecessary based on his talks with DHS officials. Carter said the department has since admitted that its ammunition needs are not as great as first reported, and said the department is pursuing a bulk purchase to keep the costs down.


    And just for the record, Mikey the Beloved voted for this idiocy, as noted here. In addition, here are the 18 “Democrats” who went along with it also (a pox on their respective houses):

    Bill Foster (IL-11)
    Brian Higgins (NY-26)
    Charles Rangel (NY-13)
    Collin Peterson (MN-7)
    Daniel Maffei (NY-24)
    Derek Kilmer (WA-6)
    Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
    Jared Polis (CO-2)
    Jim Matheson (UT-4)
    John Garamendi (CA-3)
    Juan Vargas (CA-51)
    Kurt Schrader (OR-5)
    Mike McIntyre (NC-7)
    Nick Rahall (WV-3)
    Pete DeFazio (OR-4)
    Tony Cardenas (CA-29)
    Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2)
    William Owens (NY-21)

    (I’m surprised to see Rangel and DeFazio on that list, since I definitely thought they knew better.)

    By the way, did you know that the notion that DHS is buying up all the ammo is so nutty that it has even been debunked by the NRA (here)? So where did it come from, then? Why, Alex Jones of course (here). I guess stuff like this plays in Meadows’ district, he having won the seat formerly held by the less-than-useless Heath Shuler in a contest against conservadem Hayden Rogers (here).

    And just as a reminder, this tells us that Meadows was one of the U.S. House Repugs who voted against disaster relief funding for the victims of Hurricane Sandy (nice guy).

  • Next, I saw this at CNN recently, and I think it deserves more attention than it received, so…

    The nation benefits when top scientists…contribute their efforts to the federal agencies. But civil service scientists are at a significant competitive disadvantage, thanks to new travel restrictions.

    At first glance, it might sound like a good idea to keep government employees and contractors from traveling to distant cities to meet with colleagues. After all, budgets are tight and travel costs money. Stories about excessive spending at government conferences involving the IRS and GSA have rightly angered taxpayers who have had to tighten their own belts.

    But the Astronomical Society conference is strictly business and the downside of missing it is considerable: The government loses touch, government scientists fall behind and we all lose an opportunity to forge ahead. For NASA, which funds about 300,000 jobs at more than a dozen NASA centers and facilities, its cap of 50 civil service scientists and contractors (or even100, possible only with a waiver) at an American Astronomical Society meeting is very low.

    Science careers are attractive in many ways, but across the country, sequestration is devastating budgets for research. In many disciplines, 10 proposals for new research projects are rejected for every one that is funded. This turns serious scientific progress into a scattershot lottery and discourages students from pursuing the kind of research careers that fuel our economy in the long term.

    Young people are attracted to science through astronomy. Students come to our talks, star parties and classes. Fascination about black holes and dark energy motivates them to study critical subjects like physics, mathematics and computing. Astronomy research experiences for undergraduates — funded by the National Science Foundation, among others — are an effective way to retain students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, majors.

    STEM disciplines are critical for the future of our nation. The skills for astronomy are used in many other fields of science, not to mention areas like data mining and computing that are at the heart of modern businesses.

    As a follow-up, it should be noted that Crazy Tom Coburn sponsored amendments basically barring the National Science Foundation from conducting political science research (and before you cheer that, note the fact that this affects basically “any and all research in any and all disciplines funded by the NSF” as noted in a linked story from The Huffington Post). The Daily Kos post also tells us that Lamar Smith, GOP chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, falsely charged that scientists hid data that supposedly contradicted the science on man-made climate change (wonder if that came from Glenn Beck or Jones, or both?).

    And as noted here, Smith has pushed a bill requiring that the “NSF submit to the committee the technical peer review discussions conducted among NSF scientists who decide on grant awards” (great, just what we need – politicians deciding what scientific development projects should be funded; I might be OK with that if everyone in Congress had the background of, say, Rush Holt, who is a legitimate scientist also, but that is hardly the case).

    Oh, and as noted in the prior Daily Kos post, who did Smith appoint as chairman of the committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight? Only the guy responsible for this. And as noted here, both Smith and Broun are charter members of the Tea Party caucus.

    I’ll let the following excerpt from here sum things up a bit…

    The National Laboratories aren’t just crucial to America’s scientific infrastructure. They are also powerful engines of economic development. Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Solow has calculated that over the past half century, more than half of the growth in our nation’s GDP has been rooted in scientific discoveries — the kinds of fundamental, mission-driven research that we do at the labs. This early-stage research has led to extraordinary real-world benefits, from nuclear power plants to compact fluorescent bulbs to blood cholesterol tests. Because the United States has historically valued scientific inspiration, our government has provided creative scientists and engineers with the support, facilities, and time they need to turn brilliant ideas into real-world solutions.

    Basing funding decisions solely on short-term fiscal goals risks the heart of America’s scientific enterprise and long-term economic growth — diminishing our world leadership in science, technology and in the creation of cutting-edge jobs.

    Sequestration won’t have an immediate, visible impact on American research. Laboratories will continue to open their doors, and scientists and engineers will go to work. But as we choke off our ability to pursue promising new ideas, we begin a slow but inexorable slide to stagnation. We can’t afford to lose a generation of new ideas and forfeit our national future.

    So just remember to “thank” a Teahadist if you ever encounter one of these individuals for our continually depressed economy and employment opportunities, to say nothing of strangling funding for technologies such as those I’ve just noted that could lead to job growth and return us to a measure of middle-class prosperity once again. Heckuva job!

    Update 7/9/13: And here is more on how the sequester supposedly isn’t hurting anyone (here too).

    Update 8/16/13: Ditto here.

  • Continuing (and sticking with the theme of science a bit), I came across this item recently from The Weakly Standard…

    Mention Ronald Reagan to an avowed environmentalist, and you’ll generally elicit a groan. In the conventional telling, the Gipper appointed right-wing extremists to key environmental positions and proceeded to give timber companies and energy interests a free hand to despoil nature. Had Congress not stopped him, the tale goes, all of the environmental progress of the 1970s would have been swept away in the 1980s.

    This tale fits certain historical narratives, and Reagan’s successor, George H. W. Bush, arguably helped promote it by allowing his own appointees, some of them drawn from the ranks of professional environmentalists, to criticize the Reagan administration and its policies.

    Reagan’s actual environmental record is quite a bit more nuanced. It’s true he did not follow the command-and-control regulatory approach favored by his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, or even fellow California Republican Richard Nixon, who created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed both the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. But the approach Reagan did take—endeavoring to protect nature without expanding government or hurting the economy—may offer a blueprint, particularly in these times of sharp partisan division, for a conservation agenda that small government conservatives, libertarians, and conservationists alike can embrace.

    By standards of typical wingnuttia, I have to say that there’s a measure of truth in a lot of what Eli Lehrer points out here, particularly on cap and trade and the so-called Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-layer-depleting, climate change-promoting chlorofluorocarbons, as noted here.

    However, it would be disingenuous to talk about Number 40 on the subject of the environment and not also point out that as good as Reagan was on the stuff noted above, he was awful when it came to exporting health-endangering pesticides that were banned in the U.S., as noted here.

    Lehrer also tells us the following:

    A similar approach was applied in the 1985 farm bill, which required farmers receiving federal subsidies to comply with various conservation standards before they could cultivate erosion-prone soils and forbade the use of federal money to drain wetlands. These standards, currently under fire as Congress considers a huge new farm bill, have saved money while avoiding hundreds of millions of tons of soil erosion and protecting millions of acres of wetlands.

    Does Lehrer mean the 1985 farm bill that Reagan vetoed, which provided badly needed credit to farmers, a veto lowlighted by The Sainted One’s statement that “we should keep the grain and export the farmers” (here)?

    I believe what follows, though, is a more representative sampling of what passed for environmental policy under Reagan (from here, written after his death in 2004)…

    The list of rollbacks attempted by (James Watt and Anne Gorsuch, the leaders Reagan selected to head the Department of Interior and the U.S. EPA, respectively) is as sweeping as those of the current administration. Gorsuch tried to gut the Clean Air Act with proposals to weaken pollution standards “on everything from automobiles to furniture manufacturers — efforts which took Congress two years to defeat,” according to (Phil Clapp, president of National Environmental Trust). Moves to weaken the Clean Water Act were equally aggressive, crescendoing (sic) in 1987 when Reagan vetoed a strong reauthorization of the act only to have his veto overwhelmingly overridden by Congress. Assaults on Superfund were so hideous that Rita Lavelle, director of the program, was thrown in jail for lying to Congress under oath about corruption in her agency division.

    The gutting of funds for environmental protection was another part of Reagan’s legacy. “EPA budget cuts during Reagan’s first term were worse than they are today,” said Frank O’Donnell, director of Clean Air Trust, who reported on environmental policy for The Washington Monthly during the Reagan era. “The administration tried to cut EPA funding by more than 25 percent in its first budget proposal,” he said. And massive cuts to Carter-era renewable-energy programs “set solar back a decade,” said Clapp.

    Topping it all off were efforts to slash the EPA enforcement program: “The enforcement slowdown was staggering,” said a staffer at the House Energy and Commerce Committee who helped investigate the Reagan administration’s enforcement of environmental laws during the early ’80s. “In the first year of the Reagan administration, there was a 79 percent decline in the number of enforcement cases filed from regional offices to EPA headquarters, and a 69 percent decline in the number of cases filed from the EPA to the Department of Justice.”

    And when it comes to Reagan and science, let’s not forget about his episode with the solar panels his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, installed on the White House, mentioned above and also noted here (I don’t want to even imagine how much further along this country would be in clean energy development were it not for that sorry episode in particular; Reagan “almost single-handedly ruined American leadership” in that industry, as noted here).

    What else could we have expected, though, from a guy who once said that 80 percent of the hydrocarbon pollution on earth came from vegetation (uh, no – and as far as signing the strictest air pollution laws in the U.S., as the Reagan hagiographers would have us believe, the credit for that goes to Ronnie’s predecessor as CA governor, Pat Brown, both of which are noted here).

  • Finally (and returning to the Teahadists), I give you the following (here)…

    The bipartisan immigration reform proposal currently under consideration in the Senate should have been introduced in the House first, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Monday.

    “It’s a good thing that for an … immigration bill to pass, it’s gotta pass the House. This is the more difficult hurdle, so let’s start there,” Johnson said in an interview on radio station 1130 WISN. “It could’ve guided the Senate’s actions.”

    That might be the most cowardly anti-immigration argument that I’ve ever heard (sniff, sniff – “the House should have come out with theirs first – WAAAHHH!”).

    I guess Johnson needs a lesson in Congressional procedure. As noted here, the House does indeed have its own version of an immigration bill (which, of course, doesn’t provide a path to legal citizenship for undocumented workers, unless a judge approves it – peachy). If both bills pass (fairly certain despite Johnson in the Senate I think, as well as “Calgary” Cruz, but highly problematic in the U.S. “House of Tea”), then they’ll be worked into a single bill via a House-Senate committee. If the new, merged bill from the committee passes both bodies of Congress, it will go to Number 44 for either his signature or his veto.

    It’s more than a little pathetic to me that Johnson needs to be told this, to say nothing of the fact that dunderheaded voters in Wisconsin voted him into office in the first place (though we have nothing to brag about in PA with “No Corporate Tax” Toomey, despite his recent good work on guns).

    All of this is typical Beltway kabuki in the end, though. No less a Republican Party “elder” than Huckleberry Graham (and what does that tells us about their current state?) has pointed out that it doesn’t matter who his party runs in 2016 if immigration fails (here). Which is a very real possibility.

    That would be a terrible tragedy on personal, human terms, to say nothing of a totally low political farce.

    Update: Your daily dose of fail from “Orange Man” here


  • Wednesday Mashup (1/16/13)

    January 16, 2013
  • This post at The Hill tells us the following…

    In his op-ed of January 9 (“NLRB Targets secret ballot and private employee information”) Fred Wszolek of the right-wing Workplace Fairness Institute claims that, for the past year, the labor board has “focused almost exclusively on rewarding union bosses with decisions that hurt workers and small businesses.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

    In reality, far-right obstructionism from the GOP Congress and anti-union organizations such as the Workplace Fairness Institute has undermined the board’s efforts to protect workers’ rights and restore a modicum of balance to our labor policy.

    Let’s examine the real record of the past two years:

    As Wszolek states, the board has introduced a new rule, supported by a clear majority of its members, to eliminate unnecessary litigation and deliberate delay before employees get to vote in union certification elections. Academic research demonstrates that employers often use delay as a strategy to undermine employees’ free choice. One large “union avoidance” law firm advises employers that “time is on your side” when it comes to (National Labor Relations Board) NLRB elections – the longer employers delay an election, the longer that employees are subjected to an aggressive anti-union campaign and the less likely that they will vote for unionization.

    Instead of permitting this fair and commonsense change to take effect, however, the GOP Congress and anti-union organizations have adopted every conceivable political and legal maneuver to scuttle the new rule. As a result, American workers are still being denied the opportunity for a timely vote.

    And for other “lowlights” on the right-wing “war on workers” in this country, I give you the following:

  • This tells us how Michigan and Repug Governor Rick Snyder snuck “right to work” legislation through the state house without any hearings or debate (a six-day legislative process undid 70 years of worker protections).
  • U.S. House Repugs blocked the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) from implementing new limits on coal dust — a pollutant contributing to a steep rise in cases of black lung among U.S. coal miners (here).
  • This tells us that, without the Repugs’ attack on public sector workers (to say nothing of actually passing the American Jobs Act), unemployment would probably be around 6 percent by now.
  • This tells us how Boehner, Cantor and their pals oppose a jobs bill for veterans (some legislation in this country actually used to pass without all of this nonsense; this is an example).
  • All of these developments by the U.S. House in particular make this totally predictable, by the way.

  • Next, the right wing wouldn’t be doing what they do best unless they were demonizing those less fortunate than they are, as noted here in another attack on Head Start

    Head Start is an $8 billion per year federal preschool program, designed to improve the kindergarten readiness of low-income children. Since its inception in1965, taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on the program.

    But HHS’ latest Head Start Impact Study found taxpayers aren’t getting a good return on this “investment.” According to the congressionally-mandated report, Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants. In fact, on a few measures, access to the program actually produced negative effects.

    The HHS’ scientifically-rigorous study tracked 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either a group receiving Head Start services or a group that did not participate in Head Start. It followed their progression from ages three or four through the end of third grade. The third-grade evaluation is a continuation to HHS’ first-grade study, which followed children through the end of first grade.

    The first-grade evaluation found that any benefits the children may have accrued while in the Head Start program had dissipated by the time they reached first grade.

    Now I am definitely not an expert in education or statistics, but I thought it best to try and make sense of the report that Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation is referencing (from here) to try and verify her claims. And it is true that the study indicated that the effects of math instruction dissipated somewhat once the 3 and 4-year-olds left Head Start and enrolled in public school. However, as far as I’m concerned, that begs the following question: how would the kids have fared if they had received no Head Start instruction at all?

    Besides, the report also tells us the following:

    At the end of the Head Start year, there was strong evidence that the Head Start group demonstrated better skills on the following six child outcomes related to children’s language and literacy development: (1) Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) (vocabulary); (2) Woodcock-Johnson III (WJIII) Letter-Word Identification; (3) WJIII Spelling; (4) WJIII Pre-Academic Skills; (5) Color Identification; and (6) Letter Naming.

    Parents of children in the Head Start group reported that their children had greater emerging literacy skills at the end of Head Start than did parents of children in the control group.

    And as far as “cognitive” impacts go (also from the report)…

    At the end of 3rd grade, the most striking sustained subgroup finding was related to children from high risk households. For this subgroup, children in the 3-year old cohort demonstrated sustained cognitive impacts across all the years from pre-K through 3rd grade. At the end of 3rd grade, the Head Start children from high risk households showed favorable impacts on the ECLS-K Reading Assessment, the WJIII Letter-Word Identification, and the teacher-reported reading/language arts skills. This was in contrast to the impacts for children in lower and moderate risk households, for whom there were no impacts.

    Oh, and for the record, someone from the American Enterprise Institute also lambasted Head Start in similar terms over a 1998 study here. And as noted here (third bullet), Joe Klein engaged in some typical sock puppetry over Head Start as well, citing an unnamed Obama Administration official who called Head Start a “jobs program” (if this person truly believes that, then he/she should have had the intestinal fortitude to go on the record). And as noted here from about two years ago…

    [T]he Frederick County, Maryland, Board of County Commissioners voted to end the county’s contribution to its Head Start program, cutting overall funding for the program by more than 50 percent. Two of the Republican officials justified their decision to cut Head Start — which provides early childhood education to the children of low-income parents — by saying that women should really be married and home with their kids, thus rendering the program unnecessary…

    Typical for a bunch of troglodytes, I guess (the point of Head Start isn’t to turn poor kids into geniuses, but to give them help so they can compete with children who have better means than they do…and if they somehow do become geniuses, all the better).

  • Further, in case anyone was wondering what former Iraq war cheerleader Michael O’Hanlon was up to, wonder no more (here, in a column in which he basically praises outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton)…

    It is the president, and not Clinton, who bears considerable responsibility for at least two mistakes in the region. Obama raised hopes that his presidency could lead to a better rapport with Iran — hopes dashed by the stolen 2009 Iranian elections. He also sought to get Israel to freeze settlement activity as a precondition for peace talks. That idea was reasonably motivated, but ineffective.

    I must, however, acknowledge Clinton’s shortcomings in at least two policy debates. On Syria, we remain at a loss for what to do. The administration’s caution, while understandable, has become counterproductive in light of the tragedy there. A more forward-leaning U.S. support for the opposition looks warranted.

    Sooo…it’s Obama’s fault that Iran’s 2009 elections were a joke and “Bibi” isn’t going to stop building those damn settlements anytime soon. I guess Number 44 wasn’t “transformative” enough.

    O’Hanlon also tells us the following…

    This is not to say that Clinton was an historic secretary of state. Even an admirer, such as myself, must acknowledge that few big problems were solved on her watch, few big victories achieved. There was no equivalent of success in the Cold War, or Henry A. Kissinger’s work on President Richard M. Nixon’s opening to China. There is not likely to be a Clinton Doctrine to rival George Kennan’s containment policy, or the various doctrines associated with Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

    As noted here, George Kennan (who had more foreign policy knowledge in his fingernail than O’Hanlon has in his whole body) spent some of the last years of his life railing against Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History’s war of choice in Mesopotamia, which O’Hanlon supported at a time when he should have followed Kennan’s example instead (here).

  • Continuing, U.S. House Rep of Kansas Mike Pompeo (R-Koch) propagandizes as follows (here, courtesy of “Tiger Beat On The Potomac” as Esquire’s Charles Pierce calls Politico– funny)…

    …energy prices, most particularly natural gas prices, will not be materially affected by exports at levels that are likely to occur. Natural gas prices are projected to go up regardless of exports. They are already rising from less than $2.00 per million cubic feet earlier this year to $3.50 currently.

    As noted here, though…

    The glut of recent gas production was initially driven not by new technologies or discoveries, but by high prices. In the years from 2005 through 2008, as conventional gas supplies dried up due to depletion, prices for natural gas soared to $13 per million BTU (prices had been in $2 range during the 1990s). It was these high prices that provided an incentive for using expensive technology to drill problematic reservoirs. Companies flocked to the Haynesville shale formation in Texas, bought up mineral rights, and drilled thousands of wells in short order. High per-well decline rates and high production costs were hidden behind a torrent of production—and hype. With new supplies coming on line quickly, gas prices fell below $3 MBTU, less than the actual cost of production in most cases.

    So it sounds basically like the natural gas “bubble” has deflated somewhat and Pompeo is trying to re-inflate it (Gosh, you mean we’re set up for another “bubble to bust” cycle? Color me shocked!).

    This about par for the course with Pompeo…

  • As noted here, he called global warming graduate school-level internships “radical,” even though they were developed under Number 43, not President Hopey Changey.
  • He also opposed tax breaks/subsidies for wind energy companies, even though he has never had a problem with same for Big Oil (here – by the way, as noted here, this country is on a path to energy self-sufficiency partly as a result of production of biofuels).
  • In a non-energy development, he compared Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain here (see, Clapper had what I guess Pompeo would call the temerity to say that Iran hadn’t decided whether or not they want to build a nuke, an assessment shared by our “friends” in Israel).
  • And as noted here, Pompeo is one of the Repugs leading the loudest charge against the EPA and its supposed “job killing” agenda (when someone discovers an actual job that was actually killed by an actual EPA regulation enacted by this administration, let me know, OK?).
  • Pompeo also opposed the creation of a CPSC database that “would allow people to make informed decisions on product safety, having access to injury reports on things like toys, cribs, and strollers” here.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat (too easy I know, but I gotta say it)…

  • Finally, as noted here, the Obama Administration commendably faced up to the issue of guns today, with 23 executive orders and pending legislation that, unfortunately, faces a very real prospect of defeat (but for now, let’s think positive).

    Prior to that, though (as noted here),

    A Texas congressman vowed to try to impeach President Obama if he moves ahead with plans to control guns by executive order and onetime U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese says it is not far-fetched.

    Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican from the Houston area, called Obama’s plans to skirt Congress and implement some controls administratively “an unconstitutional and unconscionable attack on the very founding principles of this republic.” He also threatened to defund the White House.

    “I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment,” Stockman said.

    Meese, who was the nation’s top law enforcement officer in the Reagan administration, told Newsmax Stockman would have support for such a move – and a good case.

    “It would not be legal. It would not be constitutional,” Meese said. “And, indeed, if he tried to override the Second Amendment in any way, I believe it would be an impeachable offense.

    I think it’s hilarious for Fix Noise or anyone else in the wingnutosphere to obtain the supposed legal counsel of former Reaganite Ed Meese, of all people (I guess Alberto Gonzales was busy).

    As far as Stockman is concerned, Think Progress tells us the following here

    In his first House tenure, Stockman received criticism for his office’s handling of a letter that appeared to be evidence in the Oklahoma City bombings — a note his office was slow to deliver to the FBI and also sent to the National Rifle Association. He also wrote a controversial letter to the Department of Justice objecting to raids of anti-government “citizen militia” groups.

    Last week, Stockman proposed a repeal of all gun-free school zones, claiming that such laws have “placed our children in even greater danger.”

    Yep, don’t have to worry about Stockman’s wingnut bona fides, all right.

    As for Meese, it should be noted that his former boss, The Sainted Ronnie R (who, more and more, wouldn’t stand an electoral chance in his own party were he to run today), understood the need for common-sense gun laws, as noted here (along with the two who followed him in office, as noted here).

    And it’s really funny for a white-collar crook like Meese to give anyone a lecture in the law; as noted here

    Meese’s personal ethical problems stemmed from his involvement in the Wedtech scandal, when he was accused of various financial improprieties (i.e., not reporting lobbying income on his tax returns that, in all probability, would have come from Wedtech, a company that lobbied the Reagan Administration for a $32 million contract to make engines for the Army, despite the Army’s conclusion that Wedtech didn’t have the infrastructure or the capability to do the work). In his public capacity, Meese came under fire in November 1987 for his alleged role in the Iran-Contra affair; he failed to give President Reagan sound legal advice, did not investigate the scandal fully, and may have participated in a cover-up. Several days after this story broke in the press, 3,000 Federal prisoners who had arrived in the U.S. on the Mariel boatlifts from Cuba took 130 other inmates hostages in 2 prisons in protest of a diplomatic accord that would have deported them. (The contention is made) that the same character flaws which were apparent in Meese through the Wedtech and Iran-Contra investigations led to serious mismanagement of the prison riots. Progress toward a resolution of the riots occurred only when Meese began to lose authority as a negotiator.

    Yep, ol’ Eddie sure made a bee line to NSA headquarters when the Iran-Contra scandal broke to make sure the most incriminating documents were shredded the letter of the law was followed.

    In closing, I just want to point out another item from Think Progress; as noted here, the NRA ran an ad in opposition to Obama that mentioned the president and Michelle’s two daughters.

    Wow.

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    In the words of Bill Maher referencing the Valerie Plame scandal, even the mob doesn’t go after your family.


  • Monday Mashup (1/7/13)

    January 7, 2013

    (I know I’m a news cycle or two behind on some of this stuff, but this is the best I can do.)

  • It looks like I’m not the only one who thinks that PA Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of Penn State isn’t a stinking dead dog of a case (here)…

    There have been a lot of embarrassing days for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and, by association, Penn State, but Wednesday was the worst of all.

    After months of trying to heal from the most horrifying scandal and cover-up in the history of American colleges and universities, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett undid a year’s worth of goodwill by announcing in a bizarrely timed news conference that the state is suing the NCAA to overturn the strong Jerry Sandusky scandal sanctions Corbett himself welcomed less than six months ago.

    The crux of Corbett’s case is that the unprecedented NCAA sanctions were “overreaching and unlawful” and an “attack” on the economy of the state.

    But, on July 23, 2012, Corbett welcomed the NCAA sanctions, saying, “The appalling actions of a few people have brought us once again into the national spotlight. We have taken a monster off the streets and while we will never be able to repair the injury done to these children, we must repair the damage to this university. Part of that corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed by the NCAA on Penn State University and its football program.”

    So which one is it, Governor? This couldn’t have anything to do with trying to convince football coach Bill O’Brien to stay at Penn State and not bolt to the NFL, could it? (Although, after that performance Wednesday, one would think O’Brien would know that ripping the scab off the terrible wounds at Penn State is the last thing that will encourage already wary recruits to commit.)

    Christine Brennan’s well-done article in USA Today also points out the following…

    The fact that Corbett has the audacity to say these things with a straight face is mind-boggling. One could even ask why he’s still the governor, because his actions – inaction, actually – played an integral part in the entire, horrifying Sandusky saga. Corbett was the attorney general when his office took over the Sandusky case in early 2009. As we know now, even then, there was plenty of graphic and stunning testimony from at least one young man, then known as Victim No. 1, not to mention the story of another victim that had been covered up for 10 years.

    Yet it took Corbett’s state prosecutors nearly three years to charge Sandusky.

    Nearly three years.

    And to answer the question Brennan poses above as to the real reason behind this utterly pointless lawsuit (to say nothing of a waste of taxpayer money), she tracks down one of the biggest pieces of the proverbial puzzle by pointing out that a certain Tom Corbett was indeed PA’s attorney general while the Sandusky monstrosities were happening. Also, as noted here, Corbett needs to shore up his base as they say for an upcoming gubernatorial re-election bid, trailing a generic Democrat 47 to 37 percent.

    USA Today also tells us that Corbett has yet to discuss the suit with incoming PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who is facing a bit of a test on this issue herself. If she caves and goes along, then that will speak volumes as to how much she truly cares about the rule of law versus political expediency (and let’s not forget that she stood mute during Corbett’s “fetal ultrasound bill” nonsense while her Dem challenger Patrick Murphy rightly stood up and decried another hateful right-wing stunt…for now, though, Kane deserves the benefit of the doubt).

    (Oh, and an update here tells us that Corbett first went along with the NCAA sanctions against Penn State but has apparently changed his mind because he didn’t have all the information in front of him at first, or something – no word in the story as to whether or not Corbett’s nose grew when he said that.)

  • Next, Jeffrey Goldberg concocted the following in the Philadelphia Inquirer (here)…

    Myth: Renewing the assault-weapons ban is the clear answer.

    By my definition, any device that can fire a metal projectile at a high rate of speed into a human body is assaultive. How deadly a shooting is depends as much on the skill and preparation of the shooter as on what equipment he uses. It may be beneficial to ban large-capacity magazines and other exceptionally deadly implements. But we shouldn’t be under the illusion that this will stop mass killings.

    I know of no one arguing that that is the case; the issue is trying to make it as difficult as possible for those killings to take place. And as Think Progress points out here

    One of the principal weapons used by James Eagan Holmes in the horrific Dark Knight Rises shooting would have been subject to a series of sharp restrictions under the now-expired federal Assault Weapons ban. The AR-15 rife carried by Holmes, a civilian semi-automatic version of the military M-16, would have been defined as a “semiautomatic assault weapon” under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. If the law was still in force, semiautomatic assault weapons would have been outright banned.

    The post also tells us that there were loopholes in the 1994 bill that allowed gun manufacturers to legally produce slightly modified AR-15s, though a 2008 bill closed them.

    The Inky piece above is a little less wanker-ific for Goldberg on this subject relative to his other tripe; as noted here about another gun column he wrote for The Atlantic…

    Goldberg’s macho obsession reveals itself further in the stories he tells of shootings in progress that were allegedly stopped by good guys with guns. It’s telling that in every single one of these stories, he seriously misrepresents the facts — check out (Salon’s Alex) Seitz-Wald’s piece for the details of this.

    In fact, in the real world, it is very rare for people to successfully defend themselves with guns when they are unexpectedly attacked; indeed, such attempts often prove counterproductive. Seitz-Wald has more on this, but I urge you to check out this fascinating video, which illustrates the general point. Overall, the serious health and safety risks of owning a gun almost always outweigh the negligible benefits. That is generally true at the individual level. It is definitely true on the level of society as a whole.

    And yet, Goldberg is simply incapable of thinking clearly on this point. Instead, he spouts libertarian gibberish and wanks off to macho fantasies about whipping out his penis substitute and blowing the bad guys away. Toward the end of the article, he writes, “I am sympathetic to the idea of armed self-defense because it does often work” (not!) and “because encouraging learned helplessness is morally corrupt.”

    Does Goldberg believe that the majority of Americans, including a large majority of American women, who do not own guns are “morally corrupt”? What, exactly, is “morally corrupt” about leaving the business of armed defense to the trained professionals in our police departments and military who make this their life’s work? Isn’t one of the fundamental reasons of forming any kind of government in the first place to provide for a common defense, instead of having to bear the totality of that burden all by yourself? Did Goldberg ever take political science 101?

    Maybe not, or maybe for Goldberg, common sense is merely a “suggested elective.”

  • Continuing, it looks like the corporate media campaign to proclaim the Speaker of the U.S. House as a Republican statesman of some type is kicking into overdrive, with Ross Douthat of the New York Times performing a bit of fluffery noted here.

    Aside from Douthat’s ridiculous attack on Chris Christie for “Governor Bully” rightly calling out Boehner for refusing to hold a vote on aid primarily to New Jersey and New York as a result of Hurricane Sandy, we also get this from the Times’ conservative quota hire columnist…

    …Boehner has done his country a more important service over the last two years than almost any other politician in Washington.

    That service hasn’t been the achievement of a grand bargain with the White House, which he has at times assiduously sought. Nor has it been the sweeping triumph over liberalism that certain right-wing activists expect him to somehow gain. Rather, it’s been a kind of disaster management — a sequence of bomb-defusal operations that have prevented our dysfunctional government from tipping into outright crisis.

    I think it’s hilarious to read this from Douthat as he utterly whitewashes Boehner’s role in contributing to “dysfunctional government” that has risked “tipping into outright crisis” (please note the following)…

  • Here, Boehner basically made noise to the effect that he would take the debt ceiling hostage again in upcoming negotiations, even though he said here that doings so in 2011 would lead to “financial disaster.”
  • Here, Boehner allowed another vote to repeal the health care law, this one from Moon Unit Bachman (Boehner could have put his foot down and said no, but of course he didn’t want to risk the almost-perpetual rage of the Teahadists).
  • This tells us that Boehner’s supposed “Plan B’ at deficit reduction would have cut taxes for the richest 1 percent of earners and raised them for the poor (as Atrios and many others have pointed out, the Repugs claim to care about the deficit, but in fact they want to use that as a cudgel to attack “New Deal” and “Great Society” social programs).
  • Here, Boehner said that there’s “no difference” if revenue comes from the middle class or the super rich (the latter has had a nice, cushy ride for the last 10 years at least).
  • Here, Boehner threatened filibuster reform, which is particularly funny since that has nothing to do with the U.S. House, but it is a matter for the U.S. Senate.
  • There’s a lot more I could get into about Orange Man and how he has done more than his share to contribute to the utter mess in Washington, but instead of listing it all, I’ll merely link back to here if you want to read further (and here is another example of Douthat acting as the press secretary for another Republican politician, perhaps the most infamous one of this still-new century).

  • gwb_13-george-w-bush

  • And speaking of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, The Daily Tucker propagandized as follows recently (here, using the business of Fluffy Head bringing the illegal ammunition onto “Meet The Press” despite being warned by the D.C. police not to do so)…

    (David) Gregory’s soft-glove treatment of Obama stands in contrast to the media’s treatment of President George W. Bush in 2003, and especially before the 2004 election.

    Shortly before the 2004 election, Bush was slammed by numerous media outlets for not securing the large stockpiles of weapons in Iraq. For example, in late October 2004, the New York Times ran front-page articles about missing weapons from the Al Qaqaa, creating a mini media scandal.

    But before and after the 2012 election, Obama escaped scrutiny from the established media outlets.

    Number One, I don’t know what that previous sentence even means. Number Two, trying to draw a comparison between the attack in Benghazi which, tragically, claimed the life of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others and the missing Al Qa’qaa explosives is particularly ridiculous. As Wikipedia tells us here (quoting from a Frank Rich New York Times column in May 2005)…

    It’s also because of incompetent Pentagon planning that other troops may now be victims of weapons looted from Saddam’s munitions depots after the fall of Baghdad. Yet when The New York Times reported one such looting incident, in Al Qaqaa, before the election, the administration and many in the blogosphere reflexively branded the story fraudulent. But the story was true. It was later corroborated not only by United States Army reservists and national guardsmen who spoke to The Los Angeles Times but also by Iraq’s own deputy minister of industry, who told The New York Times two months ago that Al Qaqaa was only one of many such weapon caches hijacked on America’s undermanned post-invasion watch.

    Staying with Number 43 for a minute, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction” alleged here that Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi in Libya dismantled his WMD because Saddam Hussein did also. In response, this tells us that Gaddafi first said he’d do that in December 2003, when the debate about Saddam Hussein and his alleged WMD was still raging (more is here).

    And while we’re still on this wretched subject, Jennifer Rubin of the WaPo tells us here that Dubya is supposed to be such a humanitarian…please; I guess the wingnuts have given up on the “Bush bounce” at last and are merely settling for a “bump” at this point.

    In response, this tells us that, over a year since we left Iraq under the SOFA, there are still about 500,000 “displaced persons” (i.e., refugees) as a result of the war of choice in Iraq waged by President Obama’s wretched predecessor.

  • Finally (switching back to sports), this tells us that the NHL lockout is over, the third of its type over the 20-year reign of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

    I hope you’ll excuse me if I’m not bubbling over with joy at the moment.

    Of course, many “Stepford” Flyers fans in this area are deliriously happy at this moment, if the social media activity is any indication. They can’t wait for the orange-and-black to hit the ice again.

    Count me out (and I think this covers a lot of how I feel about this).

    Of all the professional sports leagues, the NHL can probably afford this type of a spat between players and management the least mainly because of the comparative pittance the sport generates in TV revenue versus MLB, the NFL or the NBA. And while I’m not totally enamored with the players’ role in this mess, it should be noted for emphasis that they did not strike during any of the three stoppages, but were locked out by ownership each time.

    And I guess it would make me a bit too much of a cynic to put out the possibility at least that maybe the owners decided to cave a bit because they realized they were losing too much money.

    It really gets me, though, that, as I said, there are far too many people in this area of the country who are just willing to let bygones be bygones and put down the dough for a ticket to a Flyers game like nothing ever happened.

    You know what? There are lots of venues for college or minor-league professional hockey out there that you can support if you love the game (the Trenton Titans for one are closer to my turf), and you won’t have to wonder if the entire league will shut down when it comes time once more to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. And you’re bound to have a seat closer to the action (ice hockey, on any level, remains a truly great live spectator sport).

    And that is all I will support when it comes to ice hockey for a little while. The NHL took all of the excitement and interest it has generated in the game to date (helped in no small measure by the great run of the Los Angeles Kings that led to their first-ever Stanley Cup win last season) and pissed it down the drain. Now they have to win me back (and firing Bettman would be a nice first step in that direction).

    I don’t like hostage taking when it comes to politics. And I certainly don’t like it when it comes to our professional sports also.


  • Friday Mashup (12/28/12)

    December 28, 2012

    Bushmaster

  • I was wondering about something; given the success of the gun buyback days in Los Angeles, CA (here) and Bridgeport, CT (here), why can’t we have a national gun buyback day? Turn in your gun and you get a gift card for $100 to spend wherever you want. Can’t help but be highly stimulative from an economic point of view, people (and right around the time when everyone is running around like the proverbial chickens with their heads cut off over the OMIGOD THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF!!! – I thought Froma Harrop of the Providence, RI Journal had a good column on that here).

    “WHAA??? A NATIONAL gun buyback day? That’s more liberal crazy talk!!!”

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh).

  • And speaking of our alleged impending financial doom, our mistake of a U.S. House Rep from PA-08 recently took the time to send me a very professional written correspondence on that subject (of course, what he said was garbage, but at least it looked nice). In it, Mikey claimed that allowing the tax rates from those stinking Bush tax cuts to expire “would result in a tax increase of $4,400 per return in the 8th Congressional District.”

    Notice that Mikey the Beloved didn’t say “per person.” My guess is that he said “per return” to include any businesses in the 8th district, and I’m not terribly sympathetic to the tax liabilities of business since they can get a lot more creative with deductions and ways to shelter their money than I as a member of the “99 percent” can.

    Mikey also said that allowing those stinking tax cuts to expire would “cost 700,000 jobs” according to an analysis from the accounting firm of Ernst and Young.

    Really? As Factcheck.org tells us here

    There’s an important caveat in there that some may miss; the projection assumes the revenue generated by raising taxes on those making over $250,000 would be “used to finance additional government spending.” The report did not examine what would happen if the additional revenue were used to reduce future federal deficits. As we noted when the report was raised during the vice presidential debate, Moody’s chief economist, Mark Zandi, called that omission “odd” and said, “It seems to me that is the more relevant scenario. And my sense is that if they did, the results would be very different.”

    Also…

    There’s another small-print caveat to the Ernst & Young report, the definition of “long run” (when the job losses would supposedly hit). A footnote at the bottom of the report explains that “roughly two-third to three-quarters of the long-run effect is reached within a decade.” In other words, when the report cites the loss of 700,000 jobs, a quarter to a third of those job losses would happen more than a decade from now.

    Also, this tells us that someone named Gary Shapiro is upset here because he thinks, in response to all the “cliff” stuff, we’re going to abandon HR 3606, which is a crowd-funding initiative to try and kick-start job creation (I get concerned about this because I don’t think the proper oversight exists).

    We are talking about HR 3606, right? The bill that President Obama signed into law in April here? That HR 3606?

    Oh, and another thing, Mikey – if you supposedly care so much about the OMIGOD FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF!!! so much, then how come you and your U.S. House “leadership” aren’t in DC right now trying to do something about it (here)?

  • Next, I have to admit that I’m getting a laugh out of the wingnuts’ latest fit of pique, and that would be over CNN’s Piers Morgan and his calling out of the gun nuts for their opposition to any firearms regulation whatsoever (here – more on the petition by James Taranto of the Murdoch Street Journal to get Morgan tossed out of the country follows)….

    “British Citizen and CNN television host Piers Morgan is engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment. We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights,” the drafters of the petition wrote in their introductory statement.

    The petition has already netted more than 13,000 signatures one day after its launch, putting it well on pace to reach its goal of 25,000. That’s the threshold at which the Obama administration has promised to respond to online petitions submitted on the White House website, provided they reach that number in 30 days.

    “Ironic U.S. gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking 2nd Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?,” Morgan tweeted.

    “Your opinion is protected, your presence in the U.S. is not. See Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972),” Taranto replied to Morgan.

    As noted here, Richard Kleindienst was Attorney General under the Nixon Administration (a victim of the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” over Watergate). He was also a litigant in the suit of Kleindienst v. Mandel, in which the U.S. AG was told that he had the power to bar someone’s entry into the U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.

    That had more than a little bit to do with the fact that Belgian journalist Ernest Mandel was a communist sympathizer (anathema back in 1952), which, last I checked, Piers Morgan is not in any way, shape or form.

    Silly wingnuts (and here is an update – too funny).

  • Continuing, this tells that that Number 44 was supposedly “humiliated” because the U.S. was not allowed to join the Regional Co-operative Economic Partnership (RCEP) with Asian countries.

    Meanwhile, this tells us the following…

    The notable absence of the United States should not signal alarm. The RCEP permits external countries to join later and does not prohibit members from acceding to other free-trade groupings, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in which the United States is active.

    Besides, this tells us how Obama made an overture to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in ’09 after he was sworn in – the U.S. was denied entry, but it’s smart to keep a wary eye on this bunch – just file it under this (the SCO was formed in response to #43’s bungled war in Afghanistan…not saying we shouldn’t have gone after bin Laden and it’s possible the SCO would have formed regardless, but let’s just take it as a given that Obama’s wretched predecessor’s actions also gave rise to international responses that aren’t what we wanted).

  • Further, John Stossel wastes our time as follows at clownhall.com (here)…

    (Bill) Gates walks in the footprints of earlier creators, like John D. Rockefeller, who got rich by lowering the price of oil products, and Cornelius Vanderbilt, who did the same for transportation. The clueless media called them robber barons, but they were neither robbers nor barons.

    Call them whatever you want, but let me present the following in response.

    This tells us of the Ludlow Massacre in 1914 in response to oppressive mining conditions for those under the employ of John D. Rockefeller (Want to know where the eight-hour work day and child labor laws came from? As a result of this, which was called the deadliest labor strike in U.S. history, with anywhere from 69 to 199 fatalities).

    This tells us about the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, which actually was set in motion by Vanderbilt the year before by a 10 percent wage cut workers suffered during the century’s worst depression (and it didn’t help that all four major rail lines colluded in underpaying their work force). By the time the strike hit, Vanderbilt had died, but the damage was done.

    Once can only assume that Stossel is continuing his recovery from the head slap he endured from wrestler David Schultz; that could explain this fit of crackpot history.

  • Finally (and speaking once more of sports), Dennis Miller (of all people) recently stated as follows here

    On his program Monday, comedian and radio talk show host Dennis Miller took on the NFL for micromanaging the game in the name of safety.

    Miller’s comments were inspired by a cover story in Time magazine in which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell discussed a proposal to eliminate the kickoff to reduce neck injuries.

    To Miller, the NFL’s adjustments have gotten out of hand. And it may be time, he said, to stop tinkering with the rules and just start all over with a new game.

    “I think we should reboot this whole thing,” Miller said. “I think American football should be shut down by Congress. And I think they should build a new game so people who, and players too, I’ll be candid with you — I know a few players who think that it’s gotten so crazy and so politically correct and so out of its way and you can’t touch a quarterback, now they’re not happy with it.”

    “So why don’t we reboot?” he continued. “Why not let football remain in our memories as something — I don’t think it’s ever the ‘great American game’ like baseball, just because baseball is probably a better game and football innately does have the violence in it — but let’s stop it and leave it at that. Because it turned out that, as guys like [Bob] Costas and [Peter] King were the first to notice, it is a flawed exercise. And come up with a new game where people aren’t constantly thinking, ‘Oh my God. They are just contorting themselves to get around the fact that it is an innately violent game.’”

    I have to admit that this is a bit of an uncomfortable position for yours truly, feeling obliged to defend the oh-so-august-in-their-imaginations National Football League.

    I’m not a bit surprised to hear Miller come down on the sport, thought, when you recall that (as noted here), he was once voted the least favorite “Monday Night Football” personality of all time, coming in behind even O.J. “I’m Still Looking For The ‘Real’ Killer of My Ex-Wife And Her Boyfriend” Simpson.

    But of course, what else can you expect from a guy like Miller, who apparently has to prop up his “fake tough” bona fides by a stunt like this as well as attacking Sandra Fluke, as noted here, who has more character in her fingernail than Miller has in his entire body?


  • Tuesday Mashup Part One (8/10/10)

    August 10, 2010

  • 1) Robert Borosage pretty much echoes my sentiments here in response to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and his complaints about “the professional left” supposedly not paying proper homage to the Obama Administration (h/t Daily Kos).

    And I thought this excerpt from here was particularly mystifying…

    Gibbs said the professional left is not representative of the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama.

    Progressives, Gibbs said, are the liberals outside of Washington “in America,” and they are grateful for what Obama has accomplished in a shattered economy with uniform Republican opposition and a short amount of time.

    As noted here by Atrios, though, it seems as if Gibbs is “walking back” these insipid remarks somewhat (and I’m sure either Broderella, Doug Schoen and/or their pals are writing another one of their “tut-tut” columns about those nasty bloggers in response and how this country craves bipartisanship above all else and anyone disagreeing with the elite Beltway pundits should just sit down and shut up).

    Update 8/12/10: Well, I got the gender wrong, but the WaPo is definitely the primary “font” of DC “conventional wisdom,” so this isn’t surprising in the least.

    I don’t have much to add here, but as others smarter than me have noted, this election is going to be about jobs, jobs, jobs. And as I’ve followed what this administration has done on the economy, it has borne out the fact that Obama, on financial matters, is basically a disciple of Milton Friedman, which he pretty much stated in “The Audacity of Hope,” inasmuch he has tried to let our wretched economy wheeze itself back to health (and anyone who argues that Obama is a Keynesian doesn’t know what they’re talking about).

    However, I believe the Obama Administration fundamentally miscalculated the amount of resistance it would face from corporate America in helping to revive employment. There was a time when I cringed and wrote off the employment numbers as a “lagging indicator,” but at this point, having progressed about a year into our supposed “recovery,” I think it is going to take more active government intervention (and more “carrots” for employers) to make a dent in the wretched degree of joblessness we currently face (again, not an original observation I know, and something that should’ve dawned on this bunch much earlier, cries of “socialism” be damned).

    On the subject of corporate resistance, this 2008 article tells us the following…

    Chief Executive magazine’s most recent polling of 751 CEOs shows that GOP presidential candidate John McCain is the preferred choice for CEOs. According to the poll, which is featured on the cover of Chief Executive’s most recent issue, by a four-to-one margin, CEOs support Senator John McCain over Senator Barack Obama. Moreover, 74 percent of the executives say they fear that an Obama presidency would be disastrous for the country.

    “The stakes for this presidential election are higher than they’ve ever been in recent memory,” said Edward M. Kopko, CEO and Publisher of Chief Executive magazine. “We’ve been experiencing consecutive job losses for nine months now. There’s no doubt that reviving the job market will be a top priority for the incoming president. And job creating CEOs repeatedly tell us that McCain’s policies are far more conducive to a more positive employment environment than Obama’s.”

    Basically, they didn’t want Obama, but they got him.

    And they’re not going to lift a finger to help him unless they’re prodded into doing so somehow (and blaming the “professional left” for this circumstance won’t help either).

  • Update 1: Yep, and what kos sez here too…

    Update 2: I know the wingnuts will have fun with this little spat, but some fights are worth having (here, and kudos to those who stood up).

  • 2) Also, it looks like the Tea Partiers are running out of money based on this (awwww)…

    The movement’s money problems suggest what may be the tea party’s central paradox — that the very anti-establishment sentiment that spawned it may keep it from having the resources it needs to become a sustainable political force.

    Many of the newly engaged activists who joined the movement regard traditional political fundraising as representative of the corrupt politics they abhor.

    “When you start chasing the money, you start having to compromise, and that’s where a lot of D.C. organizations go wrong,” said Everett Wilkinson, a South Florida financial adviser who runs two of the biggest tea party groups in Florida. “If we stay trim and we keep our overhead small, we won’t have to raise a lot of money and we won’t have to compromise. No one owns us.”

    Anecdotal evidence from Wilkinson and others suggests that many groups are being financed out of the pockets of a handful of organizers and activists.

    I guess their fundraising efforts weren’t helped by the recent paltry showing at their gathering in Philadelphia starring their hero Breitbart (here). And as noted here, RNC Chairman Michael Steele is “the gift that keeps on giving” when it comes to GOP fundraising and other matters.

    And another thing – did you know that “American Crossroads,” the Repug Party outfit founded primarily by former Bushies Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, is primarily funded by four billionaires (here)?

    As concerned as I am about tone-deaf Dems like Robert Gibbs (noted in the prior post), at least I and others of my political persuasion can take comfort from the ineptness of the opposition party.

  • 3) Finally, looks like Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin spoke today on the death of former Senator Ted Stevens in a plane crash (here – sorry about the loss)…

    It’s with great sadness that Todd and I hear the reports coming in of Senator Ted Stevens’ passing in the plane crash near Dillingham. In our land of towering mountains and larger than life characters, none were larger than the man who in 2000 was voted “Alaskan of the Century.” This decorated World War II pilot was a warrior and a true champion of Alaska.

    Of course, this is a departure from Palin’s statement here from October 2008 in which she basically threw Ted “under the bus” (snowmobile?), telling him that he “needs to step aside” due to the ethics investigation which ultimately removed him from office, though Obama AG Eric Holder eventually asked a judge to dismiss the charges the charges were eventually dismissed by Obama AG Eric Holder (here).


  • Friday Mashup Part One (7/30/10)

    July 30, 2010

  • 1) The Philadelphia Inquirer, in a shockingly sensible editorial today, tells us the following (here)…

    Former governors can choose many career paths. Some of them become college presidents. Some go on the lecture circuit.

    And then there’s Tom Ridge, who is set to become a paid shill for the natural-gas drillers swarming his native state.

    The Marcellus Shale Coalition, which represents natural-gas companies, has been negotiating to hire Ridge’s lobbying firm. The industry wants the ex-governor’s help with a campaign to educate the public about the benefits of drilling.

    It’s unclear how much Ridge will be paid, but he doesn’t come cheap. The tiny impoverished nation of Albania, for example, reportedly paid Ridge nearly $500,000 per year to lobby for its membership in NATO.

    Ex-governors are free to enrich themselves however they choose. But there’s something obnoxious about a former governor talking up an industry that poses serious environmental risks, and has already spent millions on lobbying to forestall paying its fair share of state business taxes.

    Yep, I would tend to agree with that, especially since, as noted here about the Josh Fox film “Gasland” on this subject, the industry has already wrought havoc with the lives of many across this country by fouling their water supplies in the process of trying to extract natural gas.

    And I can just picture Ridge trying to implement a color-coded alert system like the one he put into place when he headed up the DHS under Bushco – my guess is that it would go something like this:

    LOW – Water OK for drinking, washing clothes, bathing, etc…enjoy it while you can.

    GUARDED – Slimy film? What slimy film?

    ELEVATED – Hey, let’s not forget that xylene and naphthalene can break down those pesky algae and mineral deposits, OK?

    HIGH – Now I know what happened to the “wastewater” from the EOG Resources blowout.

    SEVERE – Don’t stand too close when you turn on your tap, or else…well, ever see “Ghost Rider”?

    This further amplifies my concerns…the post by Amy Wilson tells us that Stone Energy (which, God help us, could be “the BP of natural gas extraction” as one commenter put it) was granted the first permitted, non-test well approved in the Delaware River Basin, a watershed that serves 15 million people, including the Greater Philadelphia area.

    As far as I’m concerned, we can’t talk seriously in this state about natural gas exploration under we do a hell of a lot more research into this subject than we already have (another fight in the ongoing battle against “disaster capitalism”).

  • 2) Turning to our media, it seems that Christiane Amanpour will debut as host of “This Week” this Sunday morning, replacing Jake Tapper and George Stephanopoulos.

    And as you might expect, Tucker Carlson’s crayon scribble page is already throwing stones at her (here)…

    Her selection for the post, however, has caused a surprisingly potent backlash. Putting aside issues such as the suitability of a foreign affairs reporter for a show on domestic politics and reports of behind-the scenes opposition to her appointment, most of the criticism has concentrated on Amanpour’s political views and her allegedly biased reporting. In one form or another, this kind of criticism has dogged Amanpour for a very long time.

    ZOMG! A well-traveled journalist interjecting informed commentary into news coverage, instead of reading from a teleprompter like a well-coiffed corporate media cipher (wonder how loud and long Edward R. Murrow would have laughed at characters like Carlson in response)?

    And I realize that a conservative screaming about bias is about as newsworthy as a rooster cackling at the sunrise, but still, let’s look at what Carlson is alleging here.

    So he based his charge on a New York Times story here on Amanpour, in which the profile quotes an anonymous “insider” who “has doubts about Amanpour’s commitment to objective journalism”…

    “I have winced at some of what she’s done, at what used to be called advocacy journalism,” (the source) said. “She was sitting in Belgrade when that marketplace massacre happened (in the ‘90s), and she went on the air to say that the Serbs had probably done it. There was no way she could have known that. She was assuming an omniscience which no journalist has.”

    So basically, the charge that Amanpour’s reporting is “biased,” which has thus caused “a surprisingly potent backlash,” is based on a single eyewitness account in a New York Times story.

    And by the way, did I note that the Times story was written in 1994?

    I’ll tell you what, Tucker: if Amanpour opens the show with film footage of George W. Bush morphing into Che Guevara, and the set for the show now contains a poster of Ward Churchill, and she professes her undying love for Al Gore, then talk to us about “bias,” OK?

    Otherwise, shut up and give her a chance.

  • Update 8/2/10: I see Carlson has company (here – h/t Atrios).

  • 3) And speaking of heroic women (I consider them to be that, anyway), Paul Krugman, in yet another spot-on column about why President Obama hasn’t done much to energize his “base” in spite of all of his accomplishments (and no, I don’t think it’s excusable for anyone to sit on his or her hands, as it were, in response – what Dante Atkins sez here in that vein), mentions Frances Perkins, who, as noted here…

    …championed many aspects of the New Deal, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration and its successor the Federal Works Agency, and the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act. With The Social Security Act she established unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans. She pushed to reduce workplace accidents and helped craft laws against child labor. Through the Fair Labor Standards Act, she established the first minimum wage and overtime laws for American workers, and defined the standard 40-hour work week. She formed governmental policy for working with labor unions and helped to alleviate strikes by way of the United States Conciliation Service, Perkins resisted having American women be drafted to serve the military in World War II so that they could enter the civilian workforce in greatly expanded numbers.[2]

    There have been so many hard-won battles by progressives in the name of fair wages and working conditions as well as health and retirement benefits that it’s really difficult to list them all here, though, as you can see above, Perkins was involved in a lot of them.

    And I don’t know of any other secular figure in our public life who is recognized by an organized religion as Perkins is; Wikipedia tells us that she is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on May 13.


  • Monday Mashup Part One (6/28/10)

    June 28, 2010

  • 1) In response to this pic, I only wish to ask the following question…

    This is CNN?

  • 2) Also, Tyler Cowen of the New York Times wrote an entire column yesterday about our economy with not a single mention of this country’s chronic unemployment (here).

    Meanwhile, in the reality-based community, Paul Krugman gives us the following (here)…

    We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

    And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world — most recently at last weekend’s deeply discouraging G-20 meeting — governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending.

    In the face of this grim picture, you might have expected policy makers to realize that they haven’t yet done enough to promote recovery. But no: over the last few months there has been a stunning resurgence of hard-money and balanced-budget orthodoxy.

    As far as rhetoric is concerned, the revival of the old-time religion is most evident in Europe, where officials seem to be getting their talking points from the collected speeches of Herbert Hoover, up to and including the claim that raising taxes and cutting spending will actually expand the economy, by improving business confidence. As a practical matter, however, America isn’t doing much better. The Fed seems aware of the deflationary risks — but what it proposes to do about these risks is, well, nothing. The Obama administration understands the dangers of premature fiscal austerity — but because Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress won’t authorize additional aid to state governments, that austerity is coming anyway, in the form of budget cuts at the state and local levels.

    And who will pay the price for this triumph of orthodoxy? The answer is, tens of millions of unemployed workers, many of whom will go jobless for years, and some of whom will never work again.

    What a shame that those in the “pain caucus” such as Cowen, who seem to have no problem whatsoever with a national unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, apparently can’t or won’t find an appreciation for the plight of those worse off than they are.

  • 3) And in the department of corporate media illogic, Ross Douthat of the Times tells us the following today about Afghanistan (here)…

    Advocates of a swift withdrawal tend to see Biden as their ally, and in a sense they’re right. His plan would reduce America’s footprint in Afghanistan, and probably reduce American casualties as well.

    But in terms of the duration of American involvement, and the amount of violence we deal out, this kind of strategy might actually produce the bloodier and more enduring stalemate.

    It wouldn’t actually eliminate the American presence, for one thing. Instead, such a plan would concentrate our forces around the Afghan capital, protecting the existing government while seeking deals with some elements of the insurgency. History suggests that such bargains would last only as long as American troops remained in the country, which means that our soldiers would be effectively trapped — stuck defending a Potemkin state whose leader (whether Hamid Karzai or a slightly less corrupt successor) would pose as Afghanistan’s president while barely deserving the title of mayor of Kabul.

    At the same time, by abandoning any effort to provide security to the Afghan people and relying instead on drone strikes and special forces raids, this approach would probably produce a spike in the kind of civilian casualties that have already darkened America’s reputation in the region.

    Shorter Douthat…

    We have to stay in Afghanistan and execute McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy, including rules of engagement that allow our people to get killed easier than they might otherwise, because if we pull out (and Heaven forbid we execute some cowardly li-bu-ruul strategy like that), we’ll just have to go back in and start all over, and in the process, kill more people than we are now. Is that about right?

    But just remember that Douthat tells us that “success is the only way out.”

    With all of this in mind, I give you the following from U.S. House Rep Dennis Kucinich (here)…

    In a little more than a year the United States flew $12 billion in cash to Iraq, much of it in $100 bills, shrink wrapped and loaded onto pallets. Vanity Fair reported in 2004 that “at least $9 billion” of the cash had “gone missing, unaccounted for.” $9 billion. Today, we learned that suitcases of $3 billion in cash have openly moved through the Kabul airport.

    One U.S. official quoted by the Wall Street Journal said, “A lot of this looks like our tax dollars being stolen.” $3 billion. Consider this as the American people sweat out an extension of unemployment benefits. Last week, the BBC reported that “the US military has been giving tens of millions of dollars to Afghan security firms who are funneling the money to warlords.” Add to that a corrupt Afghan government underwritten by the lives of our troops. And now reports indicate that Congress is preparing to attach $10 billion in state education funding to a $33 billion spending bill to keep the war going. Back home millions of Americans are out of work, losing their homes, losing their savings, their pensions, and their retirement security. We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war.

    Bring our troops home. End the war. Secure our economy.

    Amen to that.


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