Friday Mashup (10/30/09)

October 30, 2009

  • Over at the AEI blog, Baby Newton Leroy Gingrich opined as follows on Wednesday (here, specifically concerning health care legislation)…

    …Senator Jim Bunning (R-I Hear Voices) recently introduced an amendment that would require legislators to make all bills public for 72 hours, with legislative text and an official budget analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), prior to being considered. Democratic senators blocked the amendment.

    It is unfortunate that the Democratic leadership has decided it would be easier to rush their legislation through rather than honoring the people’s right to know. At healthtransformation.net, we have posted a petition to Washington to support the principle of Senator Bunning’s amendment by requiring Congress to make all bills public for 72 hours before voting.

    Openness is never a bad thing, I realize, even though this is tantamount to a publicity stunt by the about-to-retire Sen. “High And Tight” Bunning (can YOU read a nearly 2,000 page bill in three days? I can’t). And Gingrich is right that the amendment was voted down in the Senate.

    However, this TPM story from last month tells us the following…

    Accepting Republican demands, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to post health care reform legislation online for 72 hours before a final vote on the bill, The Hill reports.

    House Republicans, including Minority Leader John Boehner, have introduced a petition to require three days for lawmakers to read the final bill before voting. Two Democrats, Brian Baird and Walt Minnick, have also signed on. At today’s press conference, Pelosi said she would “absolutely” support the petition.

    Besides, House Bill 3200 has been available from the House HELP site for months (how else do you think Bucks County’s big mouth pundit J.D. Mullane was able to supposedly find his “angel of death” clause?), as has the HELP bill from Sen. Bob Casey’s site, among other places.

    Oh, and the following should be noted from here concerning Mr. Former House Speaker Who Resigned In Disgrace and his alleged “openness”…

    Gingrich was the author of an infamous secret memo to GOP leaders in 1995 titled “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control”, which one of America’s foremost linguists called an outline of a strategy to frame the word “liberal” as “something akin to traitor” in the media. This was in line with his once-described goal of “reshaping the entire nation through the news media” (New York Times,12/14/94).

    And I’m still waiting to hear about Newt’s space-based air traffic control system, by the way (from here).

  • Repug Senators Orrin Hatch and Jim DeMint also inflicted us with the following from the Murdoch Street Journal site today (here, opposing the Net Neutrality rules proposed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski)…

    Ten years ago, we effectively had no broadband marketplace. Dial-up Internet was common, but not ubiquitous. Consumers had a choice of service providers, but they were typically confined to walled gardens of preselected or preferred content. The broadband revolution led us out of that desert. Instead of dog-paddling, we could surf the net, choosing between broadband service offered by traditional phone and cable companies and, now, wireless companies as well.

    Compare that to the last decade of success at government dominated companies like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, GM or Chrysler.

    Of course (as alluded to here, concerning what is probably the “granddaddy” of all the Repug big lies out there, right next to Casey Sr. not being allowed to speak at the ’92 Democratic National Convention because he was pro-life), if it weren’t for the “government,” there probably wouldn’t be an internet at all, something the Journal and their Repug playmates are counting on people to forget (heaven forbid that Al Gore actually get any credit here, right?).

    Also, it’s a good thing Hatch and DeMint opposed the “stim” and the 7.2 billion for “complete broadband and wireless Internet access,” right (here – snark)? Especially since the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a report from the summer of ’08 that lists the U.S. as 15th in broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants (here, with Japan, Francesacre bleu, wingnuts! – and Korea 1, 2 and 3 respectively).

    And it wasn’t that bad “gumint” that was found guilty of violating Net Neutrality principles by “secretly degrading or blocking peer-to-peer traffic — specifically that used by BitTorrent,” was it? Nope, it was Comcast (here).

    And by the way, to learn more about the principles of Net Neutrality (which, not coincidentally, debunk in total this ridiculous Journal column), click here.

  • Finally, House Repug John Shadegg of Arizona patted himself on the back as follows (here)…

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It is a time for women across America to highlight the importance of prevention and to celebrate the millions of breast cancer survivors across our nation. This year, it is also a time to recognize the looming danger of government-run health care and what it could mean for America’s women. If Democrats in Congress pass a bill that allows Washington to take over health care, future generations of American women may be at risk.

    Shadegg then goes on to say that he “offered an amendment that would have ensured that US (breast cancer) survival rates remain high and women had the option of choosing (another health care plan). But Democrats shot it down.”

    This tells us more about Shadegg’s amendment, which would have…

    … require(d) the Government Accountability Office to perform an annual study of breast cancer survival rates. Based on the study’s findings, if five-year survival rates for breast cancer decreased by more than .1 percent, women and families with at least one female member would be allowed to purchase health insurance that does not meet the requirements set forth in the bill, 22-36.

    So basically, the amendment would not have “ensured” anything, except portability of insurance if the GAO allowed it.

    And as far as Shadegg’s record on women’s health issues is concerned, the following should be noted from here…

    • (He) twice co-sponsored legislation to override the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone (RU 486), a safe and effective early abortion medication. [H.R.3453, 108th Cong. (2003); H.R.1079, 109th Cong. (2005)]
    • Twice co-sponsored legislation crafted establishing “personhood” at the moment of fertilization. [H.R.552, 109th Cong. (2005); H.R.618, 110th Cong. (2007)]
    • Co-sponsored legislation forcing women to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure before receiving abortion care. [H.R.5032, 110th Cong. (2008)]
    • Voted to de-fund Title X, the nation’s only federal program dedicated exclusively to family planning and reproductive-health services. [House vote #614 (8/2/95)]
    • Voted five times to deny federal employees the right to choose a health plan that covers abortion care. [House vote #526 (7/19/95); House vote #320 (7/17/96); House vote #288 (7/16/98); House vote #301 (7/15/99); House vote #422 (7/20/00)]
    • Voted against contraceptive equity for federal employees – a provision of law that ensures health plans cover birth control equally with other prescription medications. [House vote #493 (10/7/98)]
    • Voted twice to eliminate funding completely for all international family-planning programs. [House vote #358 (9/4/97); House vote #360 (8/3/99)]

    And to get an idea of how this has worked for Shadegg’s constituents, this tells us that teen birth rates have risen sharply in his state. Also, this Think Progress post tells us more about Shadegg’s flair for demagoguery; he claimed that the congressional Democrats are trying to give us “full on Russian gulag, Soviet style health care.”

    Actually, given Shadegg’s contempt for basic women’s health care, a gulag might one day be more preferable as a location to obtain services than his own state if it continues on its present, ruinous path.

  • Update 11/7/09: Wow, I’d never consider bringing the young one to my job, and he’s way older than this baby Shadegg uses as a prop here (words fail me).


    Wednesday Mashup (9/30/09)

    September 30, 2009

    Obama_Crist

  • So it looks like Repug Florida Governor Charlie Crist, running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Mel Martinez, is trying to play to the base by claiming that President Obama will fall victim to a “Carter-esque loss” in 2012 here (recalling the loss President Carter suffered to Reagan in 1980).

    Putting aside Crist’s ridiculous attempt at political prognostication for a moment, I would say that his pronouncement (funny when you consider how Crist smartly supported Obama on the “stim” earlier this year, pictured above) has a lot more to do with this than anything else.

    This is how the Republican Party treats anyone showing any impulse for moderation whatsoever. And this is why their only possibility of electoral success lies with Democratic cowardice in the face of positions of popular support, to say nothing of failing to make the case for party causes not enjoying that support (and sadly, either prospect is always a possibility).

  • kaganohanlon31

  • Here is some spin from this New York Times article today about President Obama and his supposed communication problem with Afghanistan U.S. commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal by Times reporter Peter Baker…

    Questions about Mr. Obama’s relationship with General McChrystal have percolated for weeks, following reports that the administration delayed his troop request and kept him from testifying before Congress. “Someone has to explain what the strategy is,” said Frederick W. Kagan, a military expert at the American Enterprise Institute. “I think it’s important for the American people to hear from the commander.”

    And just as a reminder, here is “military expert” Kagan pronouncing that the Iraq civil war is over, recounted in this March 2008 post from Glenn Greenwald, even though Patrick Cockburn of The Independent reported that “a new civil war is threatening to explode in Iraq as American-backed Iraqi government forces fight Shia militiamen for control of Basra and parts of Baghdad” at very nearly the exact same time.

    So basically, I don’t think Kagan can speak with any credibility on anything related to matters of war.

    But Baker’s piece actually gets more interesting…

    Some supporters of the war said Mr. Obama had made a mistake not to consult more directly with his commander.

    “I don’t think I can defend him for being out of touch with his commander,” said Michael E. O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution (in the pic above, O’Hanlon is on the right and Kagan is at the left). “He has other people who advise him. But there’s no one else with the feel on the ground that McChrystal has.”

    See how having fewer meetings with McChrystal than Dubya did with his military people running Iraq translates to Obama being “out of touch with his commander,” according to O’Hanlon.

    Yep, that’s the same Michael O’Hanlon who (as noted here) advocated for the Iraq “surge” in the pages of the Times despite the fact that seven active duty force members wrote an Op-Ed that also appeared in the Times at about that same time saying that the surge wasn’t working.

    As Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones tells us…

    What O’Hanlon refuses to recognize is that the surge was designed to slow violence in Iraq only in service of political ends. Going on the offensive against the insurgents is fine, but it’s only an important development if Iraqi politicians seize the opening and make progress towards a reconciled nation and a functioning government. They haven’t done that. They haven’t even come close.

    Without political progress, the surge (and the military success O’Hanlon believes it is having) is just another swing in the cycle of war. We’re doing better now, but the insurgents will return with new and different tactics in a few months.

    And as Stein also notes, we lost more troops in Iraq during June-July-August of 2007 than at any other same-month period of time during the war, despite O’Hanlon’s surge cheerleading.

    On second thought, though, I suppose O’Hanlon is a subject matter expert when it comes to being “out of touch.” I hope that is the only reason why the Times would be interested in his otherwise worthless opinion.

  • 091509PimpandHo3wf

  • Finally, here is some true Fix Noise comedy on the matter of the ACORN controversy…

    The courts should vindicate the First Amendment rights of the reporters and media outlets involved in breaking the ACORN scandal wide open.

    The intrepid duo of independent reporters James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles (pictured above), working undercover, caught ACORN workers in Baltimore and other locations across the country on tape, talking about these workers’ willingness to help the undercover pair engage in tax fraud, housing fraud, prostitution, and even smuggling in underage girls from abroad to be prostitutes in a brothel that would be obtained with ACORN’s help.

    “Intrepid duo” – tee hee hee (here)…

    Well anyway, given the legitimate news story about questions surrounding the contracting of Sarah Palin’s house on Lake Lucille and the concurrently contracted Wasilla Sports Complex (here), I think the above description can be edited as follows…

    The courts should vindicate the First Amendment rights of the reporters and media outlets involved in breaking the story of alleged favors involving the construction of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s house on a two-acre site along scenic Lake Lucille in Wasilla, assessed at $532,500 (3,500 square feet with four bedrooms and four baths), wide open.

    The intrepid duo of independent reporters Wayne Barrett of The Village Voice and Huffington Post blogger Shannyn Moore reported that Palin steered contracts for the 2003 construction of the Wasilla Sports Complex before leaving office as Wasilla mayor the previous fall, in return for work building her home about the same time.

    And Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin and her team of barracudas can huff and puff all they want, but the last time I checked, the truth was always a sound defense regarding a question of libel.

    And the only ones who are alleged to have broken any laws here are “journalists” O’Keefe and Giles, as noted here.


  • Pletka Poses North Korea Nuke Nonsense

    June 5, 2009

    pletka200In case anyone out there still wonders how it could be that those considered to be knowledgeable by the insular Beltway punditocracy can be granted a forum to spout their drivel over and over even though they have been shown up as consistently wrong at every turn, I offer up the case of the AEI’s Danielle Pletka.

    In today’s Washington Post, she tells us the following (from here, in an opinion piece with the charming title of “Negotiating For The Other Side”)…

    …the Clinton administration and that of George W. Bush fell into the same negotiating trap with North Korea. The Clinton team was so wedded to the prospect of a nuclear-free North Korea that the president and secretary of state were willing to ignore intelligence indicating that Pyongyang was cheating on its agreement. When evidence surfaced that North Korea was diverting fuel-oil shipments to military industries in contravention of the Agreed Framework, Robert Gallucci, the agreement’s negotiator, blamed the Pentagon for having insisted on such restrictions. The Bush administration was little better. Indeed, Bush’s North Korea envoy, Christopher Hill, came to personify negotiator’s Stockholm syndrome, reportedly demanding that intelligence regarding North Korean noncompliance with its denuclearization commitments be vetted through him and cutting off the flow of information to diplomats with contrarian views on the wisdom of his approach to Pyongyang.

    I wish I could verify what Pletka said about Gallucci, but despite much Googling, I cannot. However, regarding the matter of cheating on the Agreed Framework, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times tells us the following (from here, and corroborated by Gallucci here in the 14th comment)…

    It is true that North Korea MAY HAVE cheated by trying to set up a second path toward nuclear weapons, involving enriching uranium. We know that North Korea imported some equipment that would have been used for enriching uranium, and when confronted in the fall of 2002, North Korea seemed to admit that it had something going on. But we don’t know if there was ever a formal program launched, and there’s zero evidence that a weapon was actually made. The intelligence community believes it wasn’t. So, yes, North Korea probably cheated on the agreement, but not in a serious way that produced a weapon (and the U.S. didn’t fully implement the agreement, either).

    But the George W. Bush administration abandoned the Agreed Framework, and North Korea then pulled out its plutonium fuel rods and made about six bombs. If there was a uranium program, it still hasn’t produced any weapons.

    So the upshot was that North Korea produced 1-2 weapons in the George H.W. Bush administration, 0 in the eight years of Clinton, and about 6 in the eight years of George W. Bush. That makes the Clinton policy of negotiation with North Korea look pretty successful, and the hard-line policies of Bush 43 horrific.

    And by the way, on the matter of Hill “demanding that intelligence regarding North Korean noncompliance with its denuclearization commitments be vetted through him and cutting off the flow of information to diplomats with contrarian views” (assuming this is not merely Pletka’s spin and it can actually be believed), I think it should be noted that Hill was continually undercut by “Deadeye Dick” Cheney, as noted here, and was probably trying to head off his interference in particular.

    Pletka continues…

    Too often U.S. negotiators are diplomatic gamblers who, in a quest for progress or a place in the history books, weaken American national security in the hope that their next throw of the dice will bring success. Some negotiators have shown themselves willing to shade the truth to Congress; others have politicized intelligence. Proponents of the negotiations game argue that entangling adversaries in a process buys time and security. But as North Korea’s most recent nuclear test proves, the time that negotiations buy helps only our adversaries.

    So far beyond a joke to hear Pletka say that “negotiators” have been known to “shade the truth” to Congress and have “politicized intelligence,” since she, for the most part, was a cheerleader for a presidential regime who did these dark deeds like no other.

    But this is typical for Pletka, a hard-core neocon who fronted for Iraqi National Congress con man Ahmed Chalabi, cut her “teeth,” as it were, working for Jesse Helms (as noted here), and has been a torture cheerleader, among her various other misdeeds (with more of her delusional behavior on display here).


    An AEI/NYT Obama Afghan Slam

    March 23, 2009

    obama_sm
    In today’s New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes about how President Obama conducts himself in military affairs in comparison to Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History here and tells us the following…

    Mr. Obama’s critics accuse him of trying to minimize the role of commander in chief. Several former Bush advisers said they were shocked that he had sent troops to Afghanistan without a formal public explanation.

    “The contrast to Bush could hardly be more striking,” said Thomas Donnelly, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, calling it “L.B.J. and Vietnam-type behavior.”

    Oh, that’s a good one – leave it to this AEI idiot to conjure up some imaginary linkage between Obama, who inherited the Afghan mess, and LBJ, who escalated the Vietnam War based on the faulty recommendations of his advisors, borne of their own hubris and disregard for the consequences (and here is Donnelly’s bio, by the way – if you can find actual military service in there, please let me know, because I couldn’t track it down).

    I don’t agree with Obama’s plans to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, but the plan to do so has effectively been leaked to the media already; I don’t know what constitutes “a formal public explanation” in Stolberg’s book (this from Brave New Films basically argues that sending the 17,000 is kind of a silly “centrist Dem” strategy that really isn’t likely to achieve a military objective – either you go with the McCain/Holy Joe scheme of sending a massive force, which we really don’t have to spare at this point anyway, or you “walk away from the table” and rely on regional diplomacy).

    Besides, the supposed lack of a “formal” explanation is hardly the issue here (Stolberg herself tells us that the Obama Administration is still in the planning stages on that). Dubya received the “formal” recommendations of the Iraq Study Group (focus on diplomacy, draw down in Iraq and redeploy to Afghanistan) in December 2006, but chose to do the exact opposite with the “surge” in January 2007 (as noted here, that ran counter to his policy as of June 2005 to withhold more troops, lest we “undermine our strategy of letting the Iraqis take the lead” – and what about the “formal” casualty count, as noted here?).

    Basically, what good does a “formal” explanation do when it is beholden to the whims of a commander-in-chief who ignores recommendations of his counselors and acts in opposition to his own professed policy (and by the way, as K.O. noted the other night, there is no “formal” mention of Iraq in Dubya’s bio as part of his library’s web site…all class).

    Obama still deserves the benefit of the doubt here IMHO, “formal” announcements or not. If he starts zig-zagging and contradicting himself on this issue and other matters as his predecessor did, THEN it would be OK to “pile on” as far as I’m concerned (and let’s keep the “Vietnam” comparisons in mothballs until then, please).


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