Thursday Mashup (12/20/12)

December 20, 2012
  • I guess this isn’t really “cutting edge,” but this person at The Daily Tucker extols the supposed virtues of whaling here

    There are few activities more pleasurable than whaling. Like chess, the task of hunting giant, seafaring beasts engages all of a man’s wits. But unlike chess, whaling brings man deep into nature, far from the distractions of civilization. That combination is unique — no other sport matches it. That’s why I have never felt more alive, more human, than when I’m whaling.

    Whaling is also great for the economy. During its peak in the mid-nineteenth century, the U.S. whaling industry employed tens of thousands of Americans. Now, of course, it employs very few. Not only would legalizing whaling create jobs, it would spark the revitalization of America’s whaling centers, like New Bedford, Mass., while lowering the price of the whale oil we use to light our lanterns.

    Why, then, do environmental groups and others oppose whaling? It’s simple: racism. Whaling has historically played a central role in many Native American societies. Tribes like the Makah have whaled for centuries and want to continue to do so today. But the anti-whaling bigots will have none of it.

    It’s also possible that anti-whaling activists are Confederate sympathizers who are upset about the Union’s employment of whaling ships during the Civil War.

    (By the way, the author uses the pseudonym “Scoops Delacroix” to avoid prosecution, as the bio tells us.)

    Well, I oppose whaling, and I can assure you that I am most certainly not a Confederate sympathizer (I believe I have a bit more of an appreciation for their point of view after reading “Gods and Generals” by Jeff Shaara, but to me, that still doesn’t absolve them of leading an armed insurrection against this country). And while I readily admit that I’m not perfect on the issue of race and other matters, I do not believe that I’m an intolerant person on that subject.

    As nearly as I can tell, every product that we could obtain from whales can be manufactured synthetically. I will go along with some limited whale hunting by undeveloped nations that would be closely monitored by an international regulatory agency, but that’s it (more information is available from here, and here).

    And I don’t believe that God commands us to throw a harpoon or two into an 880-pound-or-more mammal that could easily kill me if I ever came face to face with it in a large body of open water.

  • Next, I suppose it’s completely inevitable that we revisit the issue of guns once more, which we should do I realize – as noted here

    The incoming chairwoman of the House Republican Conference urged caution in passing new gun laws.

    Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), speaking in an interview with C-SPAN set to air Sunday, was asked whether it was time to review current gun laws in light of a shooting rampage in Connecticut.

    “We need to find out what happened and what drove this individual to this place,” McMorris Rodgers said. “I think we have to be careful about new —suggesting new gun laws. We need to look at what drives a crazy person to do these kind of actions and make sure that we’re enforcing the laws that are currently on the books. And yes, definitely, we need to do everything possible to make sure that something like this never happens again.”

    The text I highlighted above is one of the typical Repug boilerplate responses on this subject; more such responses are noted here; McMorris Rodgers’ is #4, which I want to highlight in particular…

    We only need better enforcement of the laws we have, not new laws. In fact, Congress has passed several laws that cripple the ability for current gun regulations to be enforced the way that they’re supposed to. According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, a series of federal laws referred to as the Tiahrt amendments “limit public access to crime gun trace data, prohibit the use of gun trace data in hearings, pertaining to licensure of gun dealers and litigation against gun dealers, and restrict ATF’s authority to require gun dealers to conduct a physical inventory of their firearms.” Other federal laws “limited the ATF compliance inspections” and grant “broad protections from lawsuits against firearm manufacturers and retail sellers.”

    By the way, as far as comments from a politician go on this subject, I thought this was pretty good; I honestly don’t mean to pat myself on the back, but I’ve been making noise about this for years, and incurring varying degrees of wingnut wrath for it – that’s just the price you pay, but my point is that, while it’s positive to add any voice in support, it’s terrible that it took the slaughter of white children in a well-to-do suburb to do it, whereas people of color in inner cities have been getting slaughtered for years, and I’m talking about all ages here, with nary a peep of outrage from a lot of these people who, quite rightly, are upset now (and in that vein, kudos to Bob Casey for this – a little late to the party, as they say, but at least he showed up).

    And by the way, you can learn about more “fun” involving Cathy McMorris Rodgers here.

    Also, on this subject, I came across this bit of soul-searching from Repug strategist John Feehrey, who has come to a bit of a realization on guns, or so he says.

    Well, I think the silence of Feehrey’s old boss on Capitol Hill, Dennis Hastert, speaks volumes. I realize that he hasn’t been in public life for a little while now, but I think he among others needs to answer for the fact that he supported reducing the waiting period for a gun from three days to one, co-sponsored banning a gun registration and trigger lock law in Washington DC (both noted here), and dragged his proverbial feet in allowing the assault weapons ban to expire in 2004 (here –Dem Rep Jan Schakowsky was absolutely prescient in her remarks).

    And sticking to our guns, so to speak…well, we know what Ann Coulter is, but I thought her drivel was particularly obnoxious here, extoling the supposed virtues of concealed carry laws (and citing more statistical misinformation from John Lott to do so).

    In response, Bob Cesca tells us here that, according to a U of P medical study, “people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun.”

    Cesca also tells us the following…

    PROPAGANDA: Banning guns won’t stop mass shootings because of the outlaws, blah blah blah.

    REALITY: Once again, totally not true. Australia, May 1996, a lone gunman killed 35 people and wounded an additional 23. Subsequently, Australia passed a very strict gun control law that included a buy-back program that managed to recover 600,000 assault rifles and other arms — 20 percent of all the known firearms in Australia. There were no more private sales of firearms, there were stringent registration laws, and, as with other nations, you had to prove to authorities that you had a specific reason for purchasing a firearm. And no, according to Slate, self-defense wasn’t a valid excuse. What happened after that?

    Violent crime and gun-related deaths did not come to an end in Australia, of course. But as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog pointed out in August, homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides. The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Studies found a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks. Robberies involving a firearm also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, home invasions did not increase, contrary to fears that firearm ownership is needed to deter such crimes. But here’s the most stunning statistic. In the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass shootings in the country. There hasn’t been a single one in Australia since.

    One of the thoughts on my mind about this issue is as follows; we’re taught to do so much from a defensive posture in our lives, which makes sense since the need for protection is self-evident. Here is one example; any driving instructor worth his or her salt tells the student to drive defensively and try to avoid situations that could lead to auto accidents.

    Well, why don’t we apply that thinking to guns? Buying more guns is taking an aggressive posture that could (and often does) lead to violent behavior. I mean, going back to the driving analogy, we’re not taught that looking for ways to cause accidents will make us safer, are we?

    (At least, I hope not.)

    And by the way, kudos to the mayor of Bridgeport, CT near Newtown for this; instead of destroying the guns, he should send them to Texas (removing my tongue from my cheek).

  • Continuing, there are those on our side who claim that President Obama received a “mandate” with 51 percent of the popular vote (I don’t agree with that, thought I wish it were true, and he should govern like he did anyway), which kicked off another round of wingnut caterwauling, as noted here.

    Funny how many of those same folks believed that a certain Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History had a “mandate” also with the same percentage when he was re-elected, as noted here (and I definitely didn’t agree with that either).

  • Finally (and on a somewhat related note), I give you the following from a former half-term-before-she-quit-to-cash-in governor of Alaska here

    When asked last night by Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren about Time magazine’s selection of President Obama as the 2012 person of the year, Palin responds, “Time magazine, you know, I think there’s some irrelevancy there, to tell you the truth. I mean, consider their list of the most influential people in the country and the world—some who have made that list: yours truly. That ought to tell you something right there regarding the credence that we should give Time magazine and their list of people.”

    This may come as a shock, but I actually agree with that.

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    After all, in addition to Palin, this guy was also named Number One (and not once, but twice).


  • Friday Mashup (5/25/12)

    May 25, 2012
  • To begin, I give you the comic stylings of Mann Coulter, on how that Kenyan Muslim socialist wealth redistributor in the White House is supposedly such a spendthrift (here)…

    …Obama didn’t come in and live with the budget Bush had approved. He immediately signed off on enormous spending programs that had been specifically rejected by Bush. This included a $410 billion spending bill that Bush had refused to sign before he left office. Obama signed it on March 10, 2009. Bush had been chopping brush in Texas for two months at that point. Marketwatch’s Nutting says that’s Bush’s spending.

    Obama also spent the second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Fund (TARP). These were discretionary funds meant to prevent a market meltdown after Lehman Brothers collapsed. By the end of 2008, it was clear the panic had passed, and Bush announced that he wouldn’t need to spend the second half of the TARP money.

    I realize that there are probably too many layers of stoo-pid to cut through here, but let’s just focus on the patently absurd claim that “the (financial) panic had passed…by the end of 2008.”

    As noted here

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The U.S. economy suffered its biggest slowdown in 26 years in the last three months of 2008, according to the government’s first reading about the fourth quarter released Friday.

    Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation’s economic activity, fell at an annual rate of 3.8% in the fourth quarter, adjusted for inflation.

    That’s the largest drop in GDP since the first quarter of 1982, when the economy suffered a 6.4% decline.

    More to the point, I’m not going to play this game about Obama and spending, since he didn’t create the deficit to begin with (yes, he added to it, but you have to spend to invest and demand has to come from somewhere). I would only ask that you consider the following from here, and I would also ask that you keep all of this in mind assuming those wretched George W. Bush tax cuts finally die once and for all in 2013 and “Taxmageddon” (ugh) kicks in next year with spending cuts negotiated with that fraud U.S. House “leadership,” which, in all probability, will sink us into recession officially once again (thank you, o zany Teahadists).

    (Oh, and for the record, here is the chart Coulter is talking about…when you find that supposed $410 billion dollar spending bill Obama signed off on instead of Dubya, let me know, OK?)

  • Next, one of my pet causes resurfaced in the news yesterday (here)…

    WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican, joked that he was witnessing “sort of a Lazarus moment.” On that score, at least, Mr. Corker got no quarrel from his Democratic colleagues.

    Thirty years after it was signed in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the United Nations treaty that governs the world’s oceans is undergoing one of its periodic resurrections in Congress. A Senate committee on Wednesday summoned three top national security officials to make yet another plea for the agreement, in the face of narrow, but stubborn, opposition.

    The Senate has never ratified the treaty, despite the support of Republican and Democratic presidents, the Pentagon, environmental advocates, the oil and gas industry — virtually anyone who deals “with oceans on a daily basis,” in the words of Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the Republican who recently lost a primary, who is a supporter.

    So long has the “Law of the Sea” treaty been stalled on Capitol Hill that its opponents — a handful of conservative Republicans who view it as an infringement on American sovereignty — have taken to calling it “LOST, ” an uncharitable, if apt, acronym.

    Memo to Mark Landler and The Old Grey Lady – the correct acronym is UNCLOS, as in “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.” And nice job not to use the correct acronym anywhere in the story and thus propagate another wingnut talking point (tell me once again how liberal the New York Times supposedly is…by the way, the story tells us that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified at the invitation of Sen. John Kerry, head of the Foreign Relations Committee).

    I’ve been posting to one degree or another about this topic for the last five years because, as noted here (from October 2007)…

    The Law of the Sea Convention was concluded in 1982 and went into force in 1994. President Reagan opposed U.S. participation because of one provision dealing with deep seabed mining. That provision was amended in 1994 to satisfy U.S. concerns and signed by President Clinton, but the Senate ignored it.

    (In 2004), the Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously in favor of the treaty but the full Senate, then in Republican hands, did not take it up.

    The treaty recognizes sovereign rights over a country’s continental shelf out to 200 nautical miles and beyond if the country can provide evidence to substantiate its claims. It gives Arctic countries 10 years after they ratify the treaty to prove their claims under the polar ice cap. The United States, with its Alaskan coast, is the only Arctic nation not party to the treaty.

    Also (as noted here)…

    …unless the United States joins up, it could very well lose out in what is shaping up as a mad scramble to lay claim to what are believed to be immense deposits of oil, gas and other resources under the Arctic ice — deposits that are becoming more and more accessible as the earth warms and the ice melts.

    So who exactly is standing in the way of ratifying UNCLOS in the Senate (besides perpetual climate denier Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, I mean)?

    The Times tells us…

    Senator James Risch of Idaho said it would oblige the United States to adhere to international agreements to stem greenhouse gas emissions. “That’s got Kyoto written all over it,” he said, referring to the climate change treaty rejected by the United States.

    Mr. Risch seemed particularly rankled by Mrs. Clinton’s contention that the treaty’s opponents were driven by “ideology and mythology,” not facts. “I hope you weren’t scoffing at us,” he said. “I’m one of those that fall into that category.”

    Which is totally not surprising since Risch is one of the “44 Congressional Darlings of the Koch Brothers” Caucus; as noted here, Risch isn’t even in the top tier of recipients – he’s from the second-level “gang of eight” that received about $87 grand total (and don’t you know that “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey is on that list too).

    The political gamesmanship on this issue (which plays into both our military and economic well-being, to say nothing of the future survival of this planet) is something more representative of a third-world, pseudo Marxist-Leninist tribal backwater than a country that is supposedly the leader of industrialized nations. And the fact that it has gone on now for 30 years with no end in sight is so absurd as to be beyond parody.

    Update 7/18/12: OWWWW, TEH STUPID!!! IT BURNS US!!!

  • Finally, I give you the following hilarity from Michelle Malkin (here, in the matter of the resignation of Gregory Jaczko as the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission)…

    (Nevada Dem Senator Harry) Reid connived to install Jaczko at the NRC to carry on their shared crusade against the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste facility in Nye County, Nevada. Despite assurances that he would recuse himself, Jaczko proceeded to meddle aggressively in the issue. After the Obama administration named Jaczko chairman of the safety panel in 2009, all hell broke loose — and then some.

    Oh, and by the way, Jaczko was named to the NRC in 2005. Now who would have been president back then?


    Hmmm, let me think…

    Continuing…

    Out of fear that researchers would confirm positive safety data, Jaczko ordered NRC staff to halt a technical evaluation of Yucca Mountain. Then he used the lack of data to order a complete work stoppage on the long-obstructed project. Last summer, the NRC inspector general determined that Jaczko “strategically withheld” information from the rest of the panel, manipulated agendas, and “was not forthcoming about his intent” to shut down Yucca by any means necessary.

    Let us not forget that any actions by any government official that runs contrary to the wishes of Malkin and her ilk automatically constitutes a conspiracy of one type or another (And any proof of “positive safety data,” by the way? What on earth does that phrase even mean?).

    Continuing…

    (Jaczko) kept the panel in the dark on other matters, too. After the Fukushima meltdown in Japan, Jaczko ordered his staff to hoard safety findings and keep them from other commissioners while he made unilateral policy decisions against their will.

    In the course of his investigation, the NRC inspector general heard from numerous commission staffers about Jaczko’s “unprofessional behavior” and outbursts of anger that created an “intimidating workplace environment.” The report said Jaczko told investigators he “regretted” his temper tantrums.

    Last fall, the entire commission sent an extraordinary letter to the White House expressing “grave concerns” about Jaczko the Jerk’s continued boorishness. “We believe that his actions and behavior are causing serious damage to this institution and are creating a chilled work environment at the NRC,” wrote NRC commissioners George Apostolakis and William D. Magwood IV (Democrats) and William C. Ostendorff and Kristine L. Svinicki (Republicans). Commission staff detailed how Jaczko’s “shaking angry” rage fests caused at least one woman to cry, and prompted Svinicki to have a staffer accompany her whenever she was in Jaczko’s presence.

    In response, I give you the following from here

    In the wake of the (nuclear accident in Japan), Jaczko sought recommendations for US nuclear safety. The Near-Term Task Force (NTTF) Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Accident produced a collection of basic (and, as discussed here, rather weak) recommendations last summer. Chairman Jaczko tried to start the process of turning those recommendations into rules–a process that could stretch beyond five years–but met objections from each of the other four commissioners. Jaczko also wanted lessons learned from Fukushima included in construction and licensing permits granted to four AP1000 reactors (two to be built in Georgia, two in South Carolina), but the chairman was outvoted four-to-one by his fellow NRC members.

    Doesn’t sound to me like Jaczko “kept the (NRC) panel in the dark” and “made unilateral policy decisions against their will” (of course, Malkin’s lies fall under the heading of “sky is blue and water is wet”…what would be newsworthy would be if she were actually telling the truth).

    Continuing…

    (Another) (and most often referenced) complaint fired at Jaczko was that he had created a “hostile work environment,” especially for women. Though Svinicki, the only woman on the commission, lamented Jaczko’s tone, the specific “charge” (if it can be called that) was brought by Commissioner William Magwood. Magwood said there were female staffers that Jaczko had brought to tears, though none of those women personally came forward (because, it was said last year, they did not want to relive the humiliation).

    The story gained extra prominence when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY; Kentucky, by the way, home to a nuclear waste nightmare called Paducah) attempted to use this alleged incident to disrupt the rising narrative of the Republican “war on women.” McConnell and others from his side of the aisle took to the microphones to denounce the administration’s treatment of whistleblowers and praise the apparently brave and much put-upon Svinicki.

    In what seems to be a rare case where the public’s relative lack of interest in nuclear regulation can be called a positive, McConnell’s gambit failed. . .

    . . . at least in derailing the “War on Women” story. (It also probably owes much to the GOP actually continuing its war on women.)

    But when it came to serving the nuclear industry, McConnell’s contribution to the ouster of Jaczko will likely be rewarded. . . with industry contributions of the monetary kind.

    (The nuclear industry, it should be noted, was not a fan of Jaczko because of his emphasis on safety, particularly in light of the Fukushima accident. Something else that should be noted is that President Obama nominated Svinicki, a Republican, to the commission for a second term this year over the objections of Harry Reid and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California.)

    Was Jaczko a tyrant on the job? Probably, maybe…I don’t care (unless he was doing anything illegal, which is another story). What I do care about is that someone takes his place as NRC head who isn’t a craven industry shill and who would actually pay attention to safety considerations (such a person would no doubt also earn Malkin’s enmity, a life form who, as noted here, knows a thing or two herself about meltdowns).


  • Pap On “Wingnuts: The Next Generation”

    February 26, 2010

    Concerning “filmmaker” James O’Keefe, I think this clarification from law professor Jonathan Turley on the charges against O’Keefe is important, as well as this information about O’Keefe’s “pimp” costume.

    And after watching some videos about the goings-on at the recent Bund rally CPAC conference, I think the group should change its name to the Infested of Political Extremists Conservative Action Conference (IPECAC), though I must admit that I would be inclined to gag at them regardless of what they’re called.


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