Thursday Mashup (10/11/12)

October 11, 2012
  • Gosh, Willard Mitt Romney just looks so presidential here, doesn’t he?…

    Mitt Romney called Monday for a change of course in America’s Middle East policy, accusing President Obama of sitting on the sidelines in the face of a “profound upheaval” across the region. The Republican nominee pledged that, if elected, he would prosecute a far more engaged foreign policy, including helping to arm the opposition in Syria’s bloody civil war.

    “Hope is not a strategy,” Romney said.

    In response, Juan Cole, who I’m sure has forgotten more about Syria and the Middle East in general than Romney will ever know, outlines at least ten reasons here why arming the Syrian rebels would be a terrible idea (let’s see, one of the rebel groups is affiliated with al Qaeda; another, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, is pals with Hamas; flooding the region with weapons makes for an already volatile mix given Israel’s continued intransigence on those godawful settlements, etc.).

    Oh, and it’s not as if Romney’s supposed foreign policy strategy is so different from Obama’s anyway (I mean, to the extent that we can trust Romney at all on this subject, as noted here…and it looks like Romney shook that Etch-a-Sketch, or something, on this issue here).

    Not to be outdone, though, Romney’s fellow U.S. House Repugs carried out another little dog-and-pony show in lieu of actual governance here concerning the attack on our embassy in Libya and the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

    Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the U.S. House responsible for funding government operations? Such as security for our embassy personnel (with Repug Jason Chaffetz being dumb enough to give away the proverbial game here…and by the way, it looks like Chaffetz stepped in deep doo-doo again here)?

  • Next, I give you someone named Jay Greene, who claims to be “a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute” (not something I would advertise if it were me, actually – here)…

    Last week’s presidential debate revealed one area of agreement between the candidates: We need more teachers. “Let’s hire another hundred thousand math and science teachers,” proposed President Obama, adding that “Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers.”

    Mr. Romney quickly replied, “I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers.” He just opposes earmarking federal dollars for this purpose, believing instead that “every school district, every state should make that decision on their own.”

    As noted here and here, Willard Mitt mocked Obama for wanting to hire more teachers, even though, as noted here, 100,000 teachers have lost their jobs over the prior year (yikes!).

    Continuing with Greene…

    Let’s hope state and local officials have that discretion—and choose to shrink the teacher labor force rather than expand it. Hiring hundreds of thousands of additional teachers won’t improve student achievement. It will bankrupt state and local governments, whose finances are already buckling under bloated payrolls with overly generous and grossly underfunded pension and health benefits.

    Concerning those “overly generous and grossly underfunded pension and health benefits”…well, they were “grossly underfunded” for a reason – namely because states were legally obligated to contribute matching amounts but refused to do so (here).

    And get a load of this generalization from Greene…

    Most people expect that more individualized attention from teachers should help students learn. The problem is that expanding the number of hires means dipping deeper into the potential teacher labor pool. That means additional teachers are likely to be weaker than current ones.

    Couldn’t you say that about every occupation if you wanted to, then? Besides, what about degreed teachers who aren’t able to find work in their profession, but instead are working other jobs (such as at Lowe’s, Wal-Mart or Applebee’s until, hopefully, a legitimate teaching job opens up)?

    Also…

    Then there is the trade-off between labor and capital. Instead of hiring an army of additional teachers, we could have developed and purchased innovative educational technology. The path to productivity increases in every industry comes through the substitution of capital for labor. We use better and cheaper technology so that we don’t need as many expensive people. But education has gone in the opposite direction, making little use of technology and hiring many more expensive people.

    I would be shocked to find out if this guy actually had a son or daughter attending a public or parochial school. Having a state-of-the-art white board doesn’t mean a damn thing if all the teacher does is use it for presentations while he/she sits at their desk and catches up on Facebook or their Email instead of using their people skills and training to, y’know, actually teach their students.

    As usual, a Repug thinks so little of anything related to liberal arts that they think technology can totally replace the function that a certain individual committed a great deal of money and a significant amount of time to learn about as part of their course of study.

    One more thing…here is a reminder here that teachers, as well as public sector workers in general, do indeed contribute to economic growth (silly to feel compelled to point that out, but we are where we are – and as long as Greene said that Obama’s call for more teachers is a “Solyndra-like solution”…an idiotic statement because there is no comparison between the Solyndra loan and teachers…the following should be noted from here).

  • Continuing, I give you Fix Noise “Democrat” Pat Caddell here

    A few weeks ago I wrote a piece which was called “The Audacity of Cronyism ” in Breitbart, and my talk today is “The Audacity of Corruption.” What I pointed out was, that it was appalling that Valerie Jarrett had a Secret Service detail. A staff member in the White House who is a senior aide and has a full Secret Service detail, even while on vacation, and nobody in the press had asked why. That has become more poignant, as I said, last week, when we discovered that we had an American ambassador, on the anniversary of 9/11, who was without adequate security—while she still has a Secret Service detail assigned to her full-time, at a massive cost, and no one in the media has gone to ask why.

    This tells us, among other things, that there were multiple teams of armed guards at the Libyan consulate. Also, Dubya designated more of his appointees for Secret Service protection than Obama, as noted here (and yes, this is a recording)

    And based on this, if Caddell is a “Democrat,” then I’m the illegitimate love child of William F. Buckley (and rest assured that I’m not).

  • Further, it’s time to pick the proverbial low-hanging fruit with Thomas Sowell (here, he decries the “name calling” of President Obama and his supporters)…

    In response, Sowell referred to “green bigot” environmentalists here, called Teresa Heinz-Kerry “rich white trash” here, and (just for kicks I suppose) called for a military coup here.

    As usual, a conservative looks in the mirror and sees the reflection of everyone but him (or her) self.

  • Moving on, it looks like Catholics supposedly aren’t supporting Obama after all (oh noes!) according to “The Catholic Association” (here).

    Meanwhile, this Pew poll tells a very different story (praise the Lord!).

  • Finally, I give you the following from The Hill (here)…

    House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is questioning Obama administration financial support for green energy companies in former Vice President Al Gore’s portfolio, calling it part of a “disturbing pattern.”

    Upton is quoted in a Washington Post story on Gore’s success as an investor in green technology companies, which the Post reports has helped boost Gore’s wealth to an estimated $100 million.

    The Post reports that 14 green tech companies that Gore invested in directly or indirectly have “benefited from more than $2.5 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks, part of President Obama’s historic push to seed a U.S. renewable-energy industry with public money.”

    Upton, a frequent critic of federal green energy support, calls the aid “reflective of a disturbing pattern that those closest to the president have been rewarded with billions of taxpayer dollars . . . and benefited from the administration’s green bonanza in the rush to spend stimulus cash.”

    This is utterly farcical, of course, but there’s a method to Upton’s wingnuttery, in case we had any doubt about that.

    Here, Upton called for end to oil subsidies after repeatedly voting to preserve them; this tells us that he has received about $144 K from the oil and gas sector in the way of campaign contributions – and Upton is chair of the House Energy Subcommittee (can you say, “conflict of interest”?); and here, Upton claimed that the passage of the Affordable Care Law was the first occasion where legislation was passed with no support from the Repugs – the only problem is that the first Clinton budget, which ushered in the longest period of prosperity this country has seen (or maybe ever will see) was voted on the same way.

    I would say that one’s notion of a “disturbing pattern” is in the eye of the beholder, wouldn’t you?

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    Monday Mashup Part One (6/7/10)

    June 7, 2010

    I have some leftover items from last week I couldn’t quite get to until now.

  • 1) To begin, I give you the latest in the slow-motion train wreck that is the NJ gubernatorial administration of Chris Christie (here)…

    All seven members of an advisory panel charged with reviewing nominations to New Jersey’s Superior Court resigned Wednesday, with six saying they objected to Gov. Christie’s decision not to renominate Justice John Wallace Jr. to the state Supreme Court.

    The members, all appointed by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, had letters hand-delivered to Christie’s office.

    “The panel has understood a judge serving honorably and effectively, with competence and integrity, will achieve tenure in judicial office,” states one letter signed by six of the members. “This understanding is supported by the intent of the framers of our constitution and is firmly grounded in our traditions and history, and has been followed consistently for over 60 years by all governors of both political parties.”

    “You have expressed publicly a profoundly different view of the governor’s appointive responsibilities,” the letter continues. “This was exemplified by your actions and remarks in refusing to reappoint Justice John Wallace to the Supreme Court, a jurist who indisputably exemplified all the qualifications for honorable judicial services. It is a view that is inconsistent with an independent judiciary.

    “Because of our abiding commitment to the independence of the judiciary, we cannot in good conscience continue to serve on the Judiciary Advisory Panel.”

    The six members were retired state Supreme Court justices James H. Coleman and Stewart Pollock, the cochairmen, and Alan B. Handler and Deborah T. Poritz; a lawyer in private practice, Carlos G. Ortiz; and a university professor, Susan Lederman.

    The seventh, retired Appellate Division judge Harold B. Wells III, a Republican, sent a brief, separate letter saying he had resigned for “personal reasons.”

    This is kind of interesting I suppose, given that Christie, a former U.S. attorney, is assumed to have a respect for the functions of the judiciary over that of partisan politics. Clearly, though, the latter holds sway with him, which should be no surprise I know.

    Oh, and did you also know that Christie wants to put the State Commission on Investigation’s budget under the Office of the Comptroller, thereby putting the state’s investigative agency, which should be independent, under Christie’s purview (here)?

    Lastly, this Inquirer editorial tells us today that Christie and his State Education Commissioner Bret Schundler brokered a deal with the New Jersey Education Association that addressed key issues – such as merit pay, which the union has long opposed. However, that deal is now off the table because Christie and Schundler apparently weren’t “on the same page,” which could end up costing the state millions of dollars in federal education funds.

    I hope all of those Democrats who sat on their hands during the NJ gubernatorial election last year are proud of themselves (to say nothing of Repugs and independents who supported this thug).

  • 2) Also, I tried really, really hard to avoid saying anything over the Gore divorce last week (I mean, it’s not like there isn’t a whole bunch of more important stuff going on), but it just got so thick that I had to weigh in (one pundit somewhere said something like divorce may be a defining “baby boomer” moment, or something…as Atrios says, our discourse is ruled by fools).

    And this column by Linda Chavez was the proverbial last straw…

    I know it’s wishful thinking to hope that the Gores will reconsider their decision. But they have already survived many ordeals that would challenge even the strongest of marriages — their son’s near-fatal accident, myriad political campaigns, including the 2000 presidential election whose outcome dragged on forever, Tipper’s battle against depression and who knows what private disappointments, slights, and pains.

    The Gores, like most couples, made a vow when they married to remain together “until death do us part.” Couples make those vows in front of family and friends and with the blessings of religious institutions and the state. They are not private promises; they are public affirmations. So if the Gores decide to break those vows, they’ve hurt all of us, not just each other, and they’ve chipped away at the very institution of marriage. Let’s hope they don’t move from separation to divorce, for all our sakes.

    Oh, please…

    What is sad here is that Chavez actually makes some good points about the effect of divorce on kids, but for her to claim that the Gore’s divorce “hurts all of us” is pathetic.

    Well then, do infidelities of public figures “hurt us” also? What about David Vitter (who, for some reason, always seems to get a pass on this subject even though he’s been “busted” at least twice)? John Ensign? Mark Sanford? Mark Souder (for whom Michael Gerson unctuously asked for “grace” here)? And yes, to be fair, John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer (and of course, Bill Clinton)?

    At least the Gores realized that it was time to part, and they have done so. There are a myriad of reasons why couples stay together and a myriad of reasons why they don’t. And as long as moral scolds like Chavez feel like it’s their duty to pass judgment, how about giving the Clintons some credit for enduring all they have and raising a daughter for whom they should be proud?

    This is all beyond a joke anyway when you consider that Chavez, as noted by Bob Somerby here, once said that Gore gave a “confusing” speech in 2002 in which “Gore said that a unilateral War on Saddam (Hussein) would hurt the ongoing War on Terror, because it would alienate various nations on whom we must rely for intelligence” (and fellow Beltway hyena Mort Kondracke dutifully echoed Chavez also).

    Like almost everything else Al Gore has said, the passage of time has proven these words to be damn prescient as well. And Chavez’s ridicule has “hurt all of us” a lot more than the Gore’s divorce ever could.

  • 3) Finally, I give you the late Irving Kristol’s boy here…

    So the one part of government the Obama administration—which is spending unprecedented amounts on every domestic department of government—has decided to squeeze is the military. This is outrageous and pathetic—taking money out of the already inadequate baseline defense budget to pay for a domestic spending spree.

    The linked New York Times story from last week tells us the following…

    The goal is to force all of the Defense Department agencies and organizations, and all of the armed services, to save enough money in their management, personnel policies and logistics to guarantee 3 percent real growth each year, beyond inflation, in the accounts that pay for combat operations.

    Current budget plans project growth of only 1 percent in the Pentagon budget, after inflation, over the next five years.

    “Given the nation’s fiscal situation, there is an urgency to doing this, rather than shifting more of the nation’s resources toward national defense,” William J. Lynn III, the deputy defense secretary, said in an interview.

    (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates’s spending orders offer a considerable incentive to the armed services. Each dollar in spending cuts found by a military department would be reinvested in the combat force of that branch, and not siphoned away for other purposes.

    Senior officials acknowledge that powerful constituencies are expected to line up in opposition to cuts of favorite programs — with criticism anticipated from the defense industry, Congress, military headquarters, Pentagon personnel and retirees.

    “We will need to address the reasons things are in the budget in order to be able to reduce overhead,” Mr. Lynn said. “We are going to have to be engaged in dialogue with industry, with Congress, with other agencies, with the White House and inside the Pentagon — all the stakeholders.”

    The new directives are aimed at three distinct areas of spending.

    The first is management and personnel, overhead, logistics and base operations, and support missions.

    The second is the war-fighting accounts themselves. Major targets for the next fiscal year already identified by the Pentagon leadership, and supported by the White House, include canceling a program to buy an alternative engine for the F-35 warplane and ending production of the C-17 cargo aircraft. Officials said a range of lower-priority programs would also be under review.

    The third area is Mr. Gates’s own Defense Department staff and agencies.

    And in case you were wondering how much this country spends on defense, this tells you that this country’s spending isn’t even close to any other in the world.

    There is only one good thing I can say about Kristol Mess’s post, and it is that he uses hyperlinks effectively (would that the Philadelphia Inquirer decided to follow suit one of these days).

  • Update: And heaven forbid that this falls under the “budget axe” also…


    Friday Mashup (2/19/10)

    February 19, 2010

  • I haven’t paid much attention to Christine Flowers of the Philadelphia Daily News lately, but she came up with a whopper today in her column about “anti-social networking,” in which gangs reportedly use Facebook, etc. to congregate for juvenile delinquency…

    It’s beyond frightening – and frustrating – to think that this is what is being spawned in our urban incubators these days, clueless, rudderless and amoral boys and girls who don’t give a damn about private property and the safety of others. Their anti-social, criminal behavior shouldn’t be cleaned up with euphemisms.

    In recent times, bleeding hearts who have more sympathy for the lawless than for their victims have urged understanding. Argued against stiff sentences. Opposed placing these baby felons into adult proceedings and have even, somehow, convinced the Supreme Court that minors shouldn’t be eligible for capital punishment, no matter how heinous their crimes.

    Notice that Flowers didn’t say anything about “rural incubators” (so clever with the wingnut code, Christine).

    And Flowers is right that The Supremes ruled against juvenile capital punishment in 2005, as noted here. However, we should keep in mind the following…

    (Justice Anthony) Kennedy’s (majority) opinion rested in large part on the fact that 30 states, including the 12 states that have no capital punishment, forbid the death penalty for offenders younger than 18. That number represented an increase of five since the court upheld the juvenile death penalty in 1989.

    The court weighs death penalty laws according to what a 1958 ruling called the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society,” and looks to state legislation and jury verdicts to decide whether a “national consensus” has developed against a previously accepted practice.

    In 2002, the court voted 6 to 3 to strike down the death penalty for the moderately mentally retarded, which it had upheld 5 to 4 in 1989. In the 2002 case, Atkins v. Virginia, the court noted that the number of death penalty states banning that practice had grown from two in 1989 to 13 in 2002, while none had gone the other way.

    The recent shift of states against the juvenile death penalty, though less dramatic than the evidence the court found sufficient in the mental-retardation case, was enough to carry the day, Kennedy concluded.

    For the Supreme Court itself, perhaps the most significant effect of yesterday’s decision is to reaffirm the role of international law in constitutional interpretation.

    The European Union, human right lawyers from the United Kingdom and a group of Nobel Peace laureates had urged the court in friend-of-the-court briefs to strike down the juvenile death penalty.

    Even a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger such as yours truly opposes destruction to people and/or property, no matter who the alleged perpetrators are. But is Flowers seriously contemplating the death penalty here for a bunch of dumb kids who vandalize a department store?

  • Also, Dick Polman of the Inquirer weighed in on the brewing travesty concerning the production on the Kennedys currently being worked on for The History Channel here (I got into this here)…

    (Filmmaker Robert) Greenwald is unhappy that the top guy on the Kennedy film project is Joel Surnow, a conservative who created the Fox show “24.” Greenwald insists, however, that he’s not trying to censor anybody. But judge for yourself whether Greenwald ally Ted Sorenson, a former Kennedy aide and one of the earliest Kennedy hagiographers, is threatening censorship when he warns that “there will be hell to pay if anyone is ever foolish enough to put this banal, repetitive, old hat lists of libels and slanders on the air.”

    This bid to, at minimum, pre-spin an unproduced docudrama is foolish for many reasons. Attacking the partial early drafts of any film script is akin to attacking a singer-songwriter on the basis of how his new material sounds as it’s taking shape in early studio sessions. In that sense, Greenwald’s campaign is an attack on the artistic process itself. Things change. There are endless revisions, additions, and deletions. Perhaps the Kennedy flamekeepers should take chill pills and let this process play out; as Stephen Kronish, the project’s writer – and a self-described liberal Democrat – reportedly said the other day, “Next year, when it’s done and it’s on the air, if people want to criticize it, so be it.”

    Soo…Polman thinks that Sorenson, Greenwald etc. are supposed to know this stuff is going on…and say and do nothing?

    Polman points out that Greenwald and others have objected to scenes where “JFK” is making out with some floosie in a swimming pool while a crisis develops, as well as a remark about Kennedy needing sex to prevent migraines, and Polman responds that both of those episodes have been documented.

    However, there is also a moment in this production when Joe Kennedy Sr. breaks a crucifix over his knee, when there is no record anywhere of that ever having occurred. Further, there is no mention whatsoever of the Cuban Missile Crisis. What the hell kind of a Kennedy “documentary” is this, then (Polman would have learned this from Greenwald’s approximately-twelve-minute film, which you can view from the link to my prior post, in which Greenwald features Sorenson, along with historians Thurston Clarke, David Nasaw, Nigel Hamilton – who is hardly a Kennedy fan – and Rick Perlstein, as noted here).

    The point of all of these individuals is that, if Surnow wants to make some trash biopic on the Kennedys, that’s his right, Polman’s editorializing to the contrary. However, such a mess has no place on The History Channel (and it’s more than a little disingenuous for Polman to mention “The Reagans,” since that didn’t show on The History Channel either; it ended up on the Showtime cable network, which has a significantly smaller audience than CBS, where it was originally slated to run before the right-wing outcry).

  • Finally, as we wind down towards the weekend, it’s time for some comedy from Matthew Continetti of The Weakly Standard (here, concerning a certain presidential election)…

    In 2000, George W. Bush’s solid lead collapsed the weekend before the election when media broke the news of his 1976 DUI. Florida was the result.

    Too funny (the Dubya DUI story broke too late to matter, just before November 4th) – as noted here…

    Bush took an early lead in the polls but his opponent, Vice-President Al Gore, bounced back after the Democratic convention, when he started sounding a populist theme. The media had a field day with Bush’s tendencies to malapropisms and Gore hammered at his foreign policy weaknesses and lack of experience. There was also some criticism of an alleged subliminal messages in a Bush campaign ad in which the word “Democrats” morphed into “rats” for a split-second. Bush immediately pulled the ads, and continued to display his people skills. “What Bush does with people is establish a direct, personal connection,” wrote reporter Nicholas Lemann in the New Yorker. Lemann claims that Bush has “a talent for establishing a jovial connection with an unusually large number of people.” The polls drew close and a series of three debates in October was expected to be decisive. Gore, portrayed as a man with more command of policies and details, was expected to win. However, Bush more than held his own, and his folksiness made Gore look stiff by comparison. In a second debate Gore was more agreeable, and the two candidates declared much common ground. However, Gore’s dramatic mood shift made him appear insincere to some voters. Bush remained adamantly “on message,” repeatedly sounding his issues of education reform, social security privatization, and tax cuts, while downplaying controversial issues such as abortion.

    And I would argue that former Commander Clueless was aided in no small part by some big-time media love in 1999-2000; how many “Bush as a regular guy” stories did we hear, as opposed to variations on this theme when it came to Gore?

    Continetti concludes, by the way, by saying that “in politics, ignorance rules.”

    Spoken like a true Republican.


  • Monday Mashup Part 1 (11/30/09)

    November 30, 2009

  • 1) I detected a bit of an inconsistency with the following from Republican political strategist Ed Rollins in this CNN editorial…

    …Michaele and Tareq Salahi want to be famous as stars of reality television. I am all for that. Give them a reality television series and call it “Trial and Jailtime” in the D.C. criminal justice system. This despicable, desperate, duplicitous couple disgraced the Secret Service and embarrassed the president in his home.

    If someone wants to bring charges against these two and investigate how they came face-to-face with the President of the United States the other night at the state dinner for the Indian prime minister and his wife, then I would tend to think that that’s a good idea.

    However, it would have been nice if we had heard such outrage from Rollins and his pals when James Guckert (under the alias “Jeff Gannon”) accessed the White House and was admitted to the White House press briefing room on day press passes for almost two years, even though the following was true:

    • (Gannon had) no media experience other than a two-day training course at The Leadership Institute’s Broadcast School of Journalism.
    • (Gannon) was denied media credentials April 7, 2004, by the “Standing Committee of Correspondents, the press body that oversees the distribution of credentials on Capitol Hill.”
    • (Gannon) was not working for a recognized media outlet.
    • (Gannon) had access to the White House press briefing room before Talon News (a “psuedo-news” organization tied to a right-wing web site; it was the alleged news site Gannon worked for) was operational.

    So to sum up, Rollins thinks that the two gate crashers at the state dinner recently held at the White House should be prosecuted, but neither he nor anyone else in his party thinks Jeff Gannon should pay any price whatsoever, considering that he “somehow bypassed both Secret Service and FBI screening to access the White House press room.”

    And Rollins wrote this for CNN.

    We’ll have to “leave it there.”

  • 2) I felt like I was taking a bit of a trip back in time when I read through this “Politico” rehash of Republican talking points, called “7 ‘Stories’ Obama Doesn’t Want Told” (including the following – I’ll explain in a minute)…

    People used to make fun of Bill Clinton’s misty-eyed, raspy-voiced claims that, “I feel your pain.”

    The reality, however, is that Clinton’s dozen years as governor before becoming president really did leave him with a vivid sense of the concrete human dimensions of policy. He did not view programs as abstractions — he viewed them in terms of actual people he knew by name.

    Obama, a legislator and law professor, is fluent in describing the nuances of problems. But his intellectuality has contributed to a growing critique that decisions are detached from rock-bottom principles.

    Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

    The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

    (Oh, by the way, this is “story” number two of seven – insert your snark here.)

    So basically, what we have here is a “reboot,” if you will, of the Al Gore “Ozone Man” narrative of the 2000 election (as the punditocracy told us, Gore was intellectual, not a “common man” like George W. Bush, couldn’t decide whether or not he was an “alpha male” and was therefore a liar, etc. – I know I’m leaving some other contrived mythology on Gore, but you get the idea).

    And it’s appropriate actually that Harris would mention MoDo here since, perhaps more than anyone else (here), she piled onto the former veep during the campaign over Gore’s “obsessions about global warming and the information highway”; she also compared Gore to the “wackadoo wing of the Democratic Party” for his criticism of the Iraq war; and has repeatedly furthered numerous falsehoods about Gore, such as that Gore once claimed to have “invented the Internet” (guess there was no way to avoid that one) and that author Naomi Wolf advised Gore on his wardrobe.

    And by the way, I would not have blamed Dowd or anyone else if what they wrote was legitimate, verifiable criticism instead of corporate media idiocy.

    But getting back to Obama, John Harris of Politico takes note of the president’s “peculiar” bow to the Japanese emperor and concludes with the following…

    Obama’s best hope of nipping bad storylines is to replace them with good ones rooted in public perceptions of his effectiveness.

    Of course, there’s no word on whether or not Harris and his playmates will actually take note of those “good ones” (such as Obama’s speech before Congress on health care and not taking the bait of the oafish Joe “You Lie” Wilson) as opposed to rehashing the bad ones instead for the millionth time.

  • Update 1 12/1/09: And while The Politico concocts dookey like this, blogger Nathan Newman actually went to work and reported on achievements of the Obama Administration here (of course, too bad that reality conflicts with Harris’s dumb narratives – hat tip to Chris Bowers of Open Left).

    Update 2 12/1/09: “Spock this” indeed – ha, ha, ha.

  • 3) And finally, here is more unintentional comedy from “Z on TV”…

    A consensus is starting to build that says so far, Barack Obama has been a lot better at playing a president on TV than actually being one in 2009.

    Maybe it is the arrival of the holidays and the inescapable realization that our president has seemed to be mostly indifferent to the millions of Americans who are out of work and can’t even start to think of holiday cheer. While the White House has been focused in recent months on such misguided campaigns as trying to beat Fox News into submission for daring to criticize him, more and more Americans are wondering why the president hasn’t heard their growing cries of desperation. That’s what the intensity and outrage of the town halls were really about during the summer. But the tin ears in the administration didn’t hear it. They were too busy booking the president on every talk show on television — as long as it wasn’t on Fox News.

    You know, it’s really hilarious to read someone like Zurawik criticize Obama for “playing president” (and any proof on this emerging “consensus,” by the way?) after less than a year in office after we all had to endure the antics of Commander Codpiece since he was installed into An Oval Office in November 2000 (I’ll tell you what, Z – let me know if Obama “drops in” on our troops with a plastic Thanksgiving turkey like 43 did here, and maybe I’ll take you seriously, OK?).

    And as far as Obama being “indifferent” to Americans out of work, all I can ask is which party supported the “Stim” and which one didn’t (and which president signed it into law – this tells us that the ARRA “added roughly 2.3 percentage points to real GDP growth in the second quarter “ and created or saved between 660,000 and 1.1 million jobs…and I didn’t recall hearing a plan for a “stimulus” from the Palin/McBush ticket last year).

    Also, as far as Obama appearing on every talk show except Fix Noise, is “Z” aware that Obama was interviewed here by Major Garrett on November 19th? And another thing… anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the corporate “Astro-turf” support behind the teabaggers and their faux outrage over the summer is suffering from a serious case of reality avoidance anyway (here).

    And finally, how’s this for a “Z” “mea culpa”…

    Don’t blame me on this one, folks. I have been saying this since early in the year, and generally catching hell for it even from some of my colleagues.

    If you, Z, as a salaried media pundit who writes for a living, don’t even have the fortitude to take some criticism, then stick to writing about TV “reality” shows and Tiger Woods’ vehicle accident instead (or the White House “gate crashers” I noted previously), and leave political criticism for those who do even a bare minimum of research to make their case.


  • “America’s Assignment Editor” Gives Diane Her Marching Orders

    November 5, 2009

    Wow, I’m so glad Diane Sawyer treated this interview with former vice president Al Gore with the seriousness it deserved, considering that our planet has been slowly melting for years (and taking her cue from a certain crying conservative TV demagogue here).

    Oh, and here’s another series of clips featuring Diane in action.

    Oh, yes, Diane, the whole “climate crisis” thing is just an excuse for Gore to become “the world’s first carbon billionaire.”

    Sure it is.


    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).


    More “Cap And Trade” Carping From The Murdoch Street Journal

    June 26, 2009

    earth_cc_gwColumnist Kimberly A. Strassel tells us the following today (from here, in a column timed for the scheduled vote on the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in the House)…

    Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as “deniers.” The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

    Wow, “smearing” someone by calling them a “denier.” What delicate sensibilities!

    The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. — 13 times the number who authored the U.N.’s 2007 climate summary for policymakers.

    Strassel then goes on to list a bunch of people who are predisposed to dispute the legitimate science that has been plainly obvious for years on this; it’s silly to try and bring these people around on this because, if they won’t budge by now, then they never will. And she also cites Australian politician Steve Fielding, who came to this country to lean more about the climate crisis from the Heartland Institute, which is kind of like trying to learn more about progressive Democratic policy and legislation from the American Enterprise Institute (i.e., you can expect to hear only negative feedback).

    And as far as Strassel’s claim that “the number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling,” that’s interesting, because this poll tells us the following…

    A survey out this week categorizes Americans according to their attitudes towards climate change – and the two most skeptical camps seem to be shrinking while worry becomes the mainstream view.

    The poll, conducted last fall by Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale and George Mason University’s Edward Malbach, lists the respondents as Alarmed over climate change (18 percent), Concerned (33 percent), Cautious (19 percent), Disengaged (12 percent), Doubtful (11 percent), and Dismissive (7 percent). And it should be noted that the numbers in each category fluctuated only slightly from the last time the poll was conducted in 2007.

    Here’s what I think is going on; people generally know we have to deal with this, but there isn’t uniform agreement on exactly how (though, as noted here – and contrary to what Strassel tells us – there is overwhelming agreement from scientists on this).

    And that is why the Waxman-Markey bill was conceived, which, as noted here, is intended to…

    …create millions of clean energy jobs, put America on the path to energy independence, and cut global warming pollution.” said (Chairman Henry A. Waxman of the Energy and Commerce Committee). “Our goal is to strengthen our economy by making America the world leader in new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.”

    This is also in line with the Kyoto Protocol, which, as noted here, is “a ‘cap and trade’ system that imposes national caps on the emissions of Annex I countries” (with those countries defined in the Wikipedia article). And just to remind everyone, “although a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, (the U.S.) has neither ratified nor withdrawn from the Protocol.”

    So the intent of Waxman-Markey is to put “cap and trade” in place, thus making Kyoto ratification a formality (Obama said here the U.S. would participate in the protocol after he was elected last November). And Nate Silver provides what I think is interesting information on what he calls the “environmental indifference point” here, as well as a state-by-state projection of what Waxman-Markey could cost here (a small price to pay for our planet’s survival).

    And as far as the Repugs are concerned, we can always count on them and their acolytes to continue spreading misinformation on this most vital issue, with MIT Professor John Reilly telling “Man Tan” Boehner to stop misrepresenting him here. However, as they do, keep in mind that areas of the world that can least afford it are paying for our inaction (here).

    Strassel is partly right, though. Something is “swelling,” but as noted here, it’s hardly “the number of global warming skeptics.”

    The question, though, is whether or not action now will be enough, or in time to matter.

    (And oh yeah, I forgot to link to this debunked fiction earlier.)


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