Thursday Mashup (9/25/14)

September 25, 2014
  • Might as well start with the defining issue of the moment – I give you the following from Irrational Spew Online (here)…

    Since he ordered military action in Libya in 2011, President Obama has argued as a matter of routine that Article II of the U.S. Constitution confers such considerable power upon the commander-in-chief that, in most instances at least, Congress’s role in foreign affairs is limited to that of advice bureau. The political ironies of this development are sufficiently rich to stand without much comment. (Imagine, if you will, trying to explain to an average voter in 2008 that by his second term the Democratic candidate for president would have adopted wholesale an interpretation of the Constitution that was championed by the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and John Yoo.) Less obvious, however, is what this means for America and her future. The bottom line: It’s not good.

    (I can just see the perfectly-coiffed Charles Cooke arguing with his oh-so-genteel British accent on “Real Time” about how that nasty Barack Obama has suddenly turned into “Torture” Yoo. Nice try, wingnut.)

    In response, I give you the following (here)…

    To judge the legality of war against ISIS, the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State, we need to be clear about two issues. The first is whether the president can put troops in harm’s way on his own authority. While the Constitution vests in Congress the power to “declare war,” presidents have launched military attacks on their own for many decades. Obama used military force in Libya in 2011; Bill Clinton, in Serbia in 1999; George H.W. Bush, in Panama in 1989; and Ronald Reagan, in Grenada in 1983. In all these cases, and many more (including the Korean War), Congress did not give its consent.

    The White House has not relied on Article II to justify the war on ISIS. This theory is too closely associated with the Bush administration, which used it to justify surveillance and torture that violated statutes. The Obama administration instead pointed to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which gives the president authority to act “against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” The administration has also cited the 2003 AUMF that authorized the president to go to war to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq,” then governed by Saddam Hussein.

    The White House’s defenders argue that the 2001 AUMF gives Obama the authority he needs to fight ISIS because, while ISIS broke from al-Qaida in 2012, it is nonetheless composed of former al-Qaida members (at least in part), who have (or so it is argued by the administration) continuously conducted and sought to conduct attacks against the United States and its citizens and interests.

    Is war with ISIS the right thing to do right now? I don’t have a clue. I’m just some filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, not the President of the United States (God forbid).

    And no, don’t start with this “Well, if this were Dubya, you’d be screaming your head off” business. As usual, Obama is left to clean up a mess which ultimately extends to Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, for good or ill. When Obama starts a war of choice for no good reason and leaves it to his successor to clean up, then talk to me, OK?

    Besides, Congress, in its infinite cowardice, passed the hopelessly-open-ended Authorization to Use Military Force and doesn’t have the spine to try and do anything about that, particularly in an election year. Giving a chief executive that much power without a fixed target or duration is a recipe for bad news – Obama has the precedent, so why shouldn’t he use it if he thinks he has to?

    I know all of this stuff is evolving, and I guess I am too, but this is where I’m at on this issue, for better or worse.

  • Continuing with the “crazy” – Repug U.S. Sen. John Cornyn propagandizes as follows here

    Despite all the challenges facing our country, my colleagues in the majority continue to prioritize political stunts and show votes over serious legislating. Indeed, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. has allowed so few amendments that one of his fellow Senate Democrats recently told Politico, “I got more substance on the floor of the House in the minority than I have as a member of the Senate majority.”

    Actually, if Cornyn wants to blame anyone for alleged negligence in governance, he should look no further than his same-state, same-party counterpart (here)…

    WASHINGTON – In case you weren’t glued to C-Span2 for the last hour, here’s what you missed.

    The Senate voted 67-31 to quash a filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz that would have blocked the Senate from lifting the federal debt ceiling. Cruz voted against cloture, naturally. But the top GOP leaders, fellow Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, sided with Democrats to cut off the filibuster.

    The measure raising the federal credit line through March 2015 sailed through the House on Tuesday, after Speaker John Boehner decided that it would be better to let Democrats own it (only 28 Republicans voted aye) than to dig in, insist on budget concessions, and force a stalemate that would spook world markets and risk a default.

    Cruz announced the same day that he wouldn’t let the Senate raise the debt ceiling via a simple 51-vote majority. The filibuster threat pushed the threshold to 60.

    As GOP strategist John Feehery pointed out, Democrats control 55 votes, so without Cruz’s maneuver, they would have been fully responsible, politically, for raising the debt ceiling. Instead, Cruz put GOP leadership on the spot.

    Cornyn and McConnell – both facing tea party challengers for reelection – took the heat, and voted for cloture.

    Apparently, no senator wanted to be tarred as the one to put the vote over the top, though. At the end, a number of Republicans switched their votes simultaneously, giving political cover to each other and their party leaders. Among the switchers: Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona and Orrin Hatch of Utah.

    The procedural vote was the key. The debt limit itself sailed through on a predictable party-line vote, 55-43.

    Everybody got that? Cornyn (who at the time was facing a Tea Party challenge from the otherwise laughable Steve Stockman) wanted to crow about how he’s supposedly holding the line on spending, but he and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao also wanted the political cover to make that claim while, in reality, they (in a shocking moment of sensibility) actually voted to raise the debt ceiling.

    And Cornyn blames Harry Reid for not being “serious about solving the problems at hand”…

    Here are more “lowlights” of what Cornyn and fellow Repugs have wrought in the U.S. Senate…

  • They blocked a minimum wage hike here.
  • They obstructed on jobless benefits here.
  • They also obstructed on veterans’ benefits here.
  • They also killed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s student loans bill (which would have actually reduced the deficit, bringing in $72 billion in new revenues by implementing the so-called Buffet Rule, an added surcharge tax on millionaires to ensure that they pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes, as noted here).
  • Cornyn, in his column, also said that “our colleagues in the House of Representatives have sent over scores and scores of bills on job creation, taxes, health care, immigration, and other issues, only to have Senator Reid declare them dead on arrival.”

    Um, no – on the issue of job creation, Steve Benen tells us here that…

    …of the remaining 40 “jobs bills” on the list, very few can credibly be described as actual jobs bills.

    For example, the first 14 bills on the list of 40 – more than a third of the overall list – are giveaways to the oil and gas industries. The bills expand drilling, expand fracking, expand pipelines, expand mining, expands coal-ash projects, and “protect” coal plants. How many jobs would this collection of energy bills actually create? The heralded list from the Speaker’s office didn’t say, but the total would likely be pretty modest.

    Boehner can prove me wrong by getting an independent score on the collection of bills, but I have a hunch if all of these bills were combined into one package, they still wouldn’t produce as many jobs as extended unemployment benefits. Besides, the point of these bills is to help polluters, ExxonMobil, and energy companies. We can debate such efforts on the merits, but to consider every giveaway to Big Oil a “jobs bill” is hard to take seriously.

    OK, but that’s 14 out of 40. What about the rest of the list? Several of the “jobs bills” attack the Affordable Care Act, and there’s simply no evidence that taking health care benefits away from millions of American families will create jobs.

    The list of “jobs bills” includes the Farm Bill. The list of “jobs bills” includes Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint. The list of “jobs bills” includes a pointless measure intended to stop President Obama from allowing state experimentation with welfare reform.

    The list of “jobs bills” includes a measure to increase federal spending “transparency.” The list of “jobs bills” includes a framework on cybersecurity.

    I hate to break this to Speaker Boehner, but a lot of these measures aren’t what any sensible person would call a proper “jobs bill.” They may or may not have merit on their own, and they may or may not require some modicum of new hiring, but legitimate legislative efforts to create lots of jobs – such as the American Jobs Act, unveiled in 2011 and killed by congressional Republicans soon after – aim higher.

    Indeed, independent analysts determined the American Jobs Act would have created over 1 million U.S. jobs in just one year. Can the same be said for Boehner’s misleading list of 40? Common sense suggests otherwise, though we can’t say for sure since the Speaker’s office hasn’t sought an independent analysis.

    And by the way, who can forget Cornyn’s singularly rancid defense of the wretched Patriot Act here?

  • Next, it’s time for the latest adventures with Louisiana Repug Gov. Bobby (“Don’t Call Me Piyush”) Jindal here

    Like many liberals, President Obama believes in making energy less affordable, and more scarce, for the American people. That’s why, even as crude oil production has skyrocketed on private lands—rising 61% in just the last four years—it has fallen on publicly-owned property in the same time span. The administration is deliberately squandering the opportunities that affordable energy can bring by refusing to develop all the energy resources owned by the American people.

    This column is meant to publicize Jindal’s 47-page proposal on energy with the understated title of “Organizing Around Abundance: Making America an Energy Superpower.”

    As Meteor Blades of Daily Kos notes here

    …Jindal’s plan is pretty much the standard right-wing blueprint: a minor manifesto filled with the same ideas that the string-pullers in the fossil-fuel industry have been promoting for decades: support for more drilling (including fracking) of oil and gas, more digging of coal, chopping of environmental regulations, opening up more federal land to drillers and diggers, building more nuclear power plants, finishing the Keystone XL pipeline and ending the ban on exporting crude oil.

    There’s also a complaint about the “activist” Supreme Court majority, which ruled 5-4 in 2007 that the Environmental Protection Agency is obligated to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

    The Jindal plan does offer some lip service to renewable energy. But mostly this section is just boilerplate about the rapid, no-longer-can-be-ignored growth of renewable installations. The rest of the section is an argument against the tax incentives designed to ramp up the generating of electricity from wind, solar, geothermal and hydro sources. Though hardly original, the governor proposes that the still toddling renewables industries compete on a “level playing field” with the mature fossil fuel industry. In other words, not level competition at all.

    Also, as noted here on the whole drilling on “publicly-owned property” thing, the feds have the right to own and drill on states’ lands, and any claim to revert back to the states wouldn’t stand up in court; besides, what we’re talking about basically here is more $$ for corporations vs. taxpayers, and 71 percent of those polled oppose it.

    Continuing (from Jindal)…

    If we develop our untapped energy resources, our nation could see a new burst of economic growth and prosperity. One study, noting the benefits of unconventional oil and gas exploration, found that this fracking revolution created 2.1 million jobs in 2012—and could create another 1.8 million jobs between now and 2025.

    In response (here)…

    A study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 21st Century Energy Institute says the extraction of “unconventional” shale oil and gas through horizontal hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – has meant a job boom even in states that don’t actually have shale deposits, with 1.7 million jobs already created and a total of 3.5 million projected by 2035.

    The study was released in two phases in October and December, and a third phase is forthcoming.
    Skeptics with environmental and citizens groups have questioned the numbers and also the benefits that these jobs actually provide to local communities. Many industry jobs are not filled by local residents, and a boom town effect, including escalating cost of living and other social problems, has been documented in places where an extraction industry rapidly arises.

    They also say the study doesn’t account for the economic impacts of possible environmental problems and copious water use, or impacts on other industries and quality of life.

    “We’re definitely seeing some local jobs – anyone with a CDL and a dump truck can get work hauling gravel or pipes or produced water,” said Paul Feezel, a resident of Carroll County, Ohio, the epicenter of the state’s fracking boom.

    “There’s definitely more money floating around in the community, people buying new cars and agricultural equipment,” he said. “I’m told churches are seeing higher donations because people are tithing part of their signing bonus. But when you see the rigs and even the welders on the pipeline jobs, the license plates are all out-of-state.”

    (More on fracking is coming up a bit later, by the way, including one increased “cost of living” measurement.)

    Jindal yet again (here)…

    Most importantly, our plan to promote energy abundance stands in direct contrast to the Obama administration’s tired policies of energy scarcity and sluggish growth.

    In response, I think the headline here says it all, and it isn’t necessarily something I support…even though parts of Florida are gorgeous, I think they would deserve any of the environmental ruin this might cause (that’s what you get when you either vote for Republicans or don’t even bother to vote, period).

  • Further, did you know that (here)…

    Over 90 percent of funding for a diesel reduction program paid for by the stimulus law was misspent, according to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

    An audit analyzing $26.3 million in funding to non-profit organizations and state governments meant to reduce truck emissions and create jobs found that the program had “significant financial management issues.”

    OMIGOD, it looks like that Kenyan Marxist Socialist in the White House is at it again!

    There’s just one problem, as noted here

    Only six projects out of the 160 so-called “Diesel Emission Reduction Act” stimulus projects awarded by the EPA were reviewed by the inspector general. The entire grant program cost taxpayers about $294 million, but the IG only looked at a $26 million share of it.

    You know, it’s pretty sad for Fix Noise that they need to be fact-checked by the formerly Moonie Times, but I guess that’s where we are all right.

    Why does this matter? Well, in part because of the following from March 2009 (here)…

    EPA March 20 announced the availability of $20 million under the stimulus law for its Clean Diesel Emerging Technologies Program, $156 million for the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program, and $30 million for the agency’s SmartWay Clean Diesel Finance Program. Guidance documents for the programs now encourage applicants to quantitatively project annual GHG reductions in funding requests, along with traditional measures including cuts in nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and fine particulate matter. In a press release, EPA said grantees will use the funding to implement projects that will cut thousands of tons of diesel emissions and “reduce premature deaths, asthma attacks and other respiratory ailments, lost work days, and many other health impacts every year.”

    More on the awards for the $20 million Clean Diesel refinance program can be found from here.

    Oh, and remember that Cornyn guy I mentioned earlier? Well, as it turns out, both he and former Repug Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison wrote two letters “asking for consideration of grants for clean diesel projects in San Antonio and Houston,” that came from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, even though each voted against the so-called “stimulus” twice (both the ARRA and the “stimulus” are the same thing, it should be pointed out), as noted here.

    Also, this tells us that about $1 million in stimulus funds were allocated for clean diesel projects in Ohio, this tells us that about $1.7 was allocated for clean diesel projects in South Dakota, this tells us about stimulus funds used for clean diesel projects in Connecticut, and this tells us about clean diesel projects underway in Michigan.

    So it looks like the administration of Number 44 is helping the states to make inroads on the issue of toxic emissions from vehicles contributing to the pollution affecting our climate. Too bad that Obama can’t do anything about pundit pollution too.

  • Continuing, it looks like someone named Casey Given at The Daily Tucker says that liberals are, in fact, anti-science after all because we oppose fracking for natural gas (here)…

    A study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is casting serious doubt on one of the environmental movement’s favorite talking points — namely, that fracking contaminates drinking water. The report, conducted by five professors from renowned universities such as Duke, Dartmouth, and Stanford, concluded that a number of water contaminations near fracking sites were most likely caused by well leaks — not fracking itself.

    Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for short, is a well stimulation technique that has been standard practice in the energy industry for over sixty years. The way it works is drillers pump a mixture of mostly water onto rocks deep below the earth’s surface to release trapped oil and gas.

    To begin, if fracking is supposed to be so damn wonderful, how come former VP “Deadeye Dick” Cheney obtained an exemption for the practice from the Safe Water Drinking Act in 2005, as noted here – more here?

    But not to worry… Given says that, because it has been supposedly proven that well casings are the culprit for groundwater contamination, can we stop picking on fracking? In response, I believe the well casings have to be leaking something other than, say, air or untreated water, or else none of this would matter (sounds to me that, by that logic, if you’re still bleeding from a gunshot wound but you’re bandaged, it’s the bandage’s fault that you’re still bleeding instead of the bullet’s fault, if you will).

    I’ll tell you what, though; I’ll humor Given and grant him his point about fracking. Well then, what does he say about the study noted here, in which scientists tells us that injecting fracking wastewater underground is causing earthquakes?

    Given also tells us that the fracking is great because it means that, in North Dakota (for example), the minimum wage is about $15 an hour. What good does that do when the rent on a one-bedroom apartment goes for about $1K a month (here)?

  • Finally (and in what is becoming a regular feature here I guess), I give you the following from Kevin Williamson (here, on the subject of rape on college campuses)…

    The subject is a maddening one. President Obama repeated the endlessly reiterated but thoroughly debunked claim that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in her college years. The actual rate is sort of an interesting problem, the information being so inconsistent and contradictory that one almost suspects that it is so by design.

    Much of the scholarly literature estimates that the actual rate is more like a tenth of that one-in-five rate, 2.16 percent, or 21.6 per 1,000 to use the conventional formulation. But that number is problematic, too, as are most of the numbers related to sexual assault, as the National Institute of Justice, the DoJ’s research arm, documents. For example, two surveys conducted practically in tandem produced victimization rates of 0.16 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively – i.e., the latter estimate was eleven times the former. The NIJ blames defective wording on survey questions.

    As noted here, “the NIJ is notable among U.S. governmental research organizations because it is headed by a political appointee of the President rather than by a scientist or a member of the civil service.” To me, it’s more than a little off to rely on an NIJ study into this subject because I think it demands a scientific analysis.

    Fortunately, a scientific analysis was conducted into this subject by the CDC. And that is where the “one in five” number came from, as noted here (more is here).

    We also learn the following from the CDC link…

    Rape, and other forms of sexual violence, is preventable. Recognizing this, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. This landmark legislation established the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program at CDC. The goal of the RPE program is to strengthen sexual violence prevention efforts at the local, state, and national level. It operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and six U.S. territories.

    And concerning the VAWA, I think the following should be noted from here

    …with Ray Rice in the news and the anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) upon us, it’s worth taking a minute to think about the connection between our everyday lives and what Congress can, and should, do to improve them.

    VAWA protects women from domestic violence. Period. It gives prosecutors stronger tools to crack down on domestic abuse and expands victims’ services for women. Since it became law two decades ago, VAWA has impacted the lives of millions of women and children around the country. It has protected women from abuse, provided support for women and children to escape violent situations, and improved the ability of law enforcement to handle this complicated issue. It has made a real difference.

    Which is why it mattered that House Republicans blocked VAWA reauthorization for 500 days. It mattered that House Republicans refused to strengthen the law and voted down an additional $4 million that would have bolstered prevention and prosecution programs.

    And it matters that Republican candidates like Representative Steve Southerland (FL-02) are now claiming to support VAWA in their re-election campaigns even though they voted against it in Congress.

    It matters to the women who need these protections. It matters to the women who call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help, which saw an 84 percent increase in calls after the Ray Rice incident hit the news (and which is, by the way, funded partially by VAWA).

    Of course, now that he’s running for re-election, Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao (here) is distancing himself from VAWA opposition any way possible (one way to respond is to click here).

    To me, both the CDC study and the issue of renewal of the VAWA is part of a larger mosaic, if you will, having to do with enlightened gender relations and mutual respect (I haven’t had a lot to say on this, aside from pointing out the absurdity of Janay Rice being more mad at the media on this than she is at her husband, and I’m not trying to criticize her by saying that, because I don’t think I have much of a right to pontificate). If we did a better job of accomplishing those two objectives, then there would be no need to quantify and study all the many ways that we fall short.

    And as noted from here, we still have a long way to go.

    Update 9/26/14: Well, it looks like the proverbial stopped clock was right one of two times here (h/t Atrios).

    Update 9/30/14: Update 9/30/14: Why do I have a feeling that Williamson is going to go the way of Robert Weissberg and John Derbyshire based on garbage like this?

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    Thursday Mashup (9/4/14)

    September 4, 2014
  • Since we have a new terrorist threat in the Middle East, that means that it’s time for our corporate media to return to the same babbling idiots for more non-solutions, including Pete Hegseth (here)…

    As any war fighter knows, the enemy always gets a vote on the battlefield. Just because we quit the Iraq war in 2011, doesn’t mean our enemies did.

    Case in point: the rise ISIS — now a self-declared Islamic State — in Iraq and Syria. Last week, it shook the collective American consciousness with its beheading of U.S. journalist and New Hampshire native, James Foley. But that was merely the latest demonstration of their brutal, systematic — and growing — radical Islamic movement.

    While the situation is complex, and blame shared, it is now clear that President Obama’s single-minded rush to remove all U.S. forces from Iraq — while simultaneously botching our (non)-policy in Syria — created the power vacuum these barbaric Islamists have rushed to fill.

    You know, it’s really tedious to keep mentioning over and over and over again that our troops were withdrawn from Mesopotamia at the end of 2011 because of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) negotiated under Obama’s ruinous predecessor, which I still believe was the right thing to do (here). And speaking of Number 43, let’s not forget for a second his role in the murderous fiasco in which we currently find ourselves, as noted here.

    And by the way, though Hegseth served for 9 months in Iraq (which is 9 months more than I did, I’ll admit), I don’t know how he can be proclaimed a military genius of sorts since he apparently was supposed to serve for 4 years in ROTC, as noted here

    Naming your Iraqi interpreter “John Kerry” is funny – for you – in Iraq. Reporting that fact to the Family Research Council is not, perhaps, in the best tradition of a non-partisan military. And suggesting in your hometown paper that Senator Durbin “handed our enemies a propaganda victory” is quite clearly inappropriate.

    It is unclear to me how Mr. Hegseth had time to complete…active duty required by his ROTC scholarship. And yet this person had the gall to argue with General Wesley Clark – 34-year veteran who won the Silver Star for Valor for commanding his unit after being shot 4 times – that the Webb amendment would give too much time off to soldiers and ruin unit cohesion. This he knew from his “firsthand experiences” Of course Pete switched units after just a few of his NINE MONTHS in Iraq, so obviously, well, he has no idea that the hell he’s talking about.

    I also give you the following from Hegseth:

  • Here, Hegseth was upset that a BENGHAZI!! suspect wouldn’t be tortured; he also claimed that there was somehow a timing factor involved to help the not-yet-officially-announced presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton (uh huh, sure…).
  • Here, Hegseth also tells us pretty much that he has a problem with women in combat.
  • Hegseth also said here that he believed that “Redskin” was meant as a term of respect (uh, no).
  • This tells us (among other details) that Hegseth’s group, Concerned Veterans for America, has ties to Chuckie and Dave Koch (figures – first bullet).
  • I’ve tried to take it easy actually on Pete Hegseth in the past in deference to his military service. However, I believe that the trail of ooze he has created as a result of his smarmy activities in politics and punditry have made it impossible for me to do that any longer.

  • And keeping with the subject of MOAR WAARRR, I give you the following from Anne Applebaum of the WaPo (here – h/t Atrios)…

    Over and over again — throughout the entirety of my adult life, or so it feels — I have been shown Polish photographs from the beautiful summer of 1939: The children playing in the sunshine, the fashionable women on Krakow streets. I have even seen a picture of a family wedding that took place in June 1939, in the garden of a Polish country house I now own. All of these pictures convey a sense of doom, for we know what happened next. September 1939 brought invasion from both east and west, occupation, chaos, destruction, genocide. Most of the people who attended that June wedding were soon dead or in exile. None of them ever returned to the house.

    In retrospect, all of them now look naive. Instead of celebrating weddings, they should have dropped everything, mobilized, prepared for total war while it was still possible. And now I have to ask: Should Ukrainians, in the summer of 2014, do the same? Should central Europeans join them?

    OK, so Applebaum says that we should prepare for war with Russia because September 2014 really is just like September 1939, dammit! Because one day 75 years in the future some pundit from another galaxy will visit what remains of Earth, find all our hashtags, blog posts and Instagram messages and wonder how we could have been so reckless to not rise up and thwart our ol’ buddy Vlad Putin and his global designs when we had the chance. Am I right?

    It’s interesting to me that Applebaum would have such misty water-colored memories of Poland now, though she didn’t feel that way about the Poles a few years ago, accusing “Allied governments” including that country of “cowardice” when Russia faced off with the country of Georgia a few years ago, as noted here (maybe a little “sock puppetry” on Applebaum’s part on behalf of her husband, who at the time was a Polish foreign minister?).

    (But to answer the question…yes, actually; the thought of war anywhere IS “a hysterical idea.”)

  • Next, in light of the story about the merger between Burger King and Tim Horton’s of Canada as part of BK’s “inversion” scheme, “Chuckles” Krauthammer (also of Jeff Bezos, Inc., where it’s best to keep employees completely in the dark, apparently) has the perfect solution (here)…

    What is maddening is that the problem is so easily solved: tax reform that lowers the accursed corporate rate. Democrats and Republicans agree on this. After the announcement of the latest inversion, Burger King buying Tim Hortons and then moving to Canada, the president himself issued a statement conceding that corporate tax reform — lower the rates, eliminate loopholes — is the best solution to the inversion problem.

    It’s also politically doable. Tax reform has unique bipartisan appeal. Conservatives like it because lowering rates stimulates the economy and eliminating loopholes curbs tax-driven economic decisions that grossly misallocate capital.

    The appeal to liberals is economic fairness. By eliminating loopholes, tax reform levels the playing field. Today, the more powerful companies can afford the expensive lobbyists who create the loopholes and the expensive lawyers who exploit them.

    Of course, even Krauthammer admits that, though the nominal corporate rate is about 35 percent, the effective rate (which any halfway decent corporate accountant should be able to obtain) is about 13 percent.

    I’ll tell you what, though – I’ll go Krauthammer one better; as noted here, Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich proposes that we eliminate the corporate income tax but set capital gains taxes at the same rate as ordinary income.

    As Reich explains…

    “In many cases, depending on the structure of the market, a significant share of the actual burden of paying the corporate income tax is often borne instead by employees in the form of lower wages, or consumers in the form of higher prices.”

    Is such an idea a panacea? No. But if this is the best way to take away “inversion” incentives for “U.S.” corporations while making corporate “persons” behave in a decent manner (in a move which is bound to be economically stimulative, by the way), then at the very least, I think it should be crafted into legislation for a congressional vote.

    I just have one request; please don’t use this as yet another excuse to try to take away the federal home mortgage interest deduction or deductions for state and local taxes again, OK?

    And as long as I’m mentioning the paper formerly run by Katharine Graham, I think this needs to be pointed out as well, unfortunately.

  • Further, it looks like we got us another “big gumint” Obama conspiracy on our hands, and Michael Bastasch of The Daily Tucker is ON IT, PEOPLE!!! (here)…

    Republicans are accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of preparing to take control over vast swaths of land under the guise of protecting the country’s water resources. Lawmakers warn this could erode private property rights.

    The EPA has consistently denied they are trying to use the Clean Water Act to expand their regulatory reach, but Republicans say they have a smoking gun that shows the agency is up to something.

    Their proof? The EPA paid private contractors to assemble detailed maps of waterways and wetlands in all 50 states. The EPA maps were made in 2013, shortly after the agency proposed expanding its authority under the Clean Water Act. The maps were kept secret by the agency, but were obtained by Republicans on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

    And if you guessed that Repug U.S. House Texas moron (redundant?) Lamar Smith is involved, then you win a free barrel of toxic sludge…

    “These maps show the EPA’s plan: to control a huge amount of private property across the country,”(Smith), the science committee’s chairman, wrote in a letter to the EPA demanding more answers on why they have a detailed map of U.S. waterways.

    In response, I give you the following from here

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jointly released a proposed rule to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. Determining Clean Water Act protection for streams and wetlands became confusing and complex following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Monday, April 21, 2014. The public comment period will be open for 182 days and will close on Monday, October 20, 2014.

    And by the way, the rule definition was requested by a rather lengthy list of individuals and agencies, including Repug Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, the New York City DEP, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Clean Water Action, and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), among many, many others.

    So, as nearly as I can determine, the maps were created in concert with the rule definition (40 CFR Parts 110, 112, 116, 117, 122, 230, 232, 300, 302, and 401) published in the Federal Register to clarify recent Supreme Court decisions. That would make sense because that’s the best way to determine the practical impact of the rule (which, as noted above, is still open for public comment – if Smith doesn’t like it, he is more than welcome to voice his opposition).

    But of course, Smith isn’t really so concerned with encouraging a dialogue on science and the environment as he is on trying to muzzle it, as noted here, so I don’t expect an intelligent response from him about the rule or much of anything else, really.

    Couric_Sawyer_Head
    (And keep it classy as always, Tucker, OK?)

  • Continuing, it looks like Louisiana Gov. Bobby (“Don’t Call Me Piyush”) Jindal is desperately trying to remain relevant once more, as noted here

    (Jindal) filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in federal court Wednesday, claiming that the Department of Education has illegally manipulated grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the controversial Common Core standards.

    In the suit, Jindal argues that the Education Department’s $4.3 billion grant program “effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum” in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content. The suit asks a judge to declare the department’s actions unconstitutional and to keep it from disqualifying states from receiving Race to the Top funds based on a refusal to use Common Core or to participate in one of two state testing consortia tied to the department’s grant program.

    Well, the Teahadists should be amused anyway. As for the actual grownups, though, I give you the following from here

    Louisiana adopted the Common Core standards in 2010 and worked toward full implementation by 2014-15. The initiative was on the right track, with Mr. Jindal’s staunch support. The Common Core standards “will raise expectations for every child,” he said in 2012.

    Late last year, as Common Core critics emerged, Mr. Jindal, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, began raising “concerns.” “Let’s face it,” he said last month. “Centralized planning didn’t work in Russia, it’s not working with our health care system and it won’t work in education.” Last week, he completed his reversal on the heels of a fundraising visit to South Carolina, saying he wants state officials to develop “Louisiana standards and Louisiana tests for Louisiana students.”

    How are those Louisiana standards working out so far? Louisiana’s fourth-graders rank 49th among the states in math proficiency. Eighth-graders rank 48th. Meanwhile, Tennessee and Washington, D.C., began raising standards in 2010 and now lead the country in reading and math score gains. In 1993, Massachusetts reformed its school system, placing rigorous standards front and center. It is now first in many education rankings.

    So apparently, Jindal didn’t have either the foresight/imagination/basic intelligence/all of the above to realize that Common Core needed modifications at the very least for Louisiana. But since he also saw that he could gain some kind of political traction by switching sides, he decided to adopt his current cowardly position.

    Also, I think the following should be noted about Common Core from here

    Question 1. Where do you think the drive for Common Core standards is coming from?

    Alfie Kohn: I don’t think we have to speculate; the answer is pretty clear: While some educational theorists have long favored national standards — and got nowhere with the idea in the ’90s — the current successful push has come principally from corporate executives, politicians, and testing companies. This time they managed to foster the illusion that because the federal government, per se, isn’t mandating it, they’re not really “national” but just “core” standards, even though all but four states have signed on. It’s rather like the effort to reframe vouchers as “choice.” They’ve also been very shrewd this time about co-opting the education organizations by soliciting their counsel. These groups are so desperate for a “seat at the table” of power that they’ve agreed to confine the discussion to the content of the standards rather than asking whether the whole idea makes sense for children.

    If your question is read more broadly — not just “Who are the players?” but “What’s the ideological underpinning?” — then all you have to do is look at the rhetoric on the Core Standards website, read the defenses published elsewhere, listen to the speeches: This move toward even greater top-down control and uniformity is almost always justified in terms of “competing in the global economy.” It’s not about doing well, but about beating others. And it’s not about intellectual depth and passion for learning, but about dollars and cents.

    And I also give you this

    Education Secretary Arne Duncan dismissed Jindal’s move as purely political.

    “Gov. Jindal was a passionate supporter before he was against it. So this, from that situation, is about politics. It’s not about education,” Duncan said in an interview on CBS This Morning.

    And if you want to find out how well this is really playing with the folks back home, as it were, then I think you should read this.

  • On we go – I took particular interest in this item

    Temple University has become the latest focal point for groups concerned about the spreading wave of campus anti-Semitism and academic-based Holocaust minimizing.

    Temple student Daniel Vessal, a fellow with CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), was drawn into a verbal exchange with anti-Israel activists at the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) table during an official college event on August 20, 2014. Vessal, in his junior year at the Temple University Fox School of Business, studying Management Information Systems and Entrepreneurship, was allegedly called a “kike,” “Zionist pig,” and “baby killer.” He was slapped so hard at the SJP table that he was sent to the hospital. A police investigation and legal action are underway. The assaultive SJP supporter has purportedly apologized, according to a published SJP statement, which states: “I’m sorry for what I did. I admit I lost my temper.”

    With lightning speed, 14 Jewish organizations reacted to the assault, releasing a joint public letter of protest to Temple University. The letter complained:

    A university campus should be the setting for thoughtful discussion and intellectual debate. Such an atmosphere should be encouraged by all responsible student groups. Unfortunately, Students for Justice in Palestine is not such a group. It has a proven track record of intimidation, harassment, and incitement merging into anti-Semitism against Israel and its supporters on campus.

    The swift-response joint letter was spearheaded by StandWithUs, which has become the nation’s pre-eminent campus pro-Israel advocacy group. Additional signatories included Americans for Peace and Tolerance, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), David Horowitz Freedom Center, Hasbara Fellowships, Proclaiming Justice to The Nations, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center Campus Outreach, The Lawfare Project, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

    I do not begrudge any of the Jewish organizations in their response to the alleged attack on Daniel Vessal. There is no place for abusive language and real or implied violence in something that should resemble informed dialogue.

    However, I take personal offense at anyone who would consider my alma mater to be an “anti-Semetic hotspot” (yes, I saw the words of Adjunct Professor Alessio Lerro about how the Jews are allegedly using the Holocaust for political advantage – in the course of vigorous debate, you’re going to hear indefensible language I’ll admit; I have no problem acknowledging that our universities are more or less laboratories of free thought, or should be, even sometimes coming from organizations as the thoroughly disreputable group noted here).

    HuffPo writer Edwin Black does tell us that “More than 137,000 individual donations were made to Temple between 2010 and 2012 alone, according to university records examined. The university’s benefactors include many major gifts from Jewish donors and foundations arising from or controlled by Jewish individuals.” That’s the journalistically responsible thing to note in a piece like this.

    I would add that Temple is also home to The Myer & Rosaline Feinstein Center for American Jewish Life as part of Temple’s College of Liberal Arts, which was founded in May 1990 (here). As the center’s website tells us: “Its mission is simple: Inspiring Inquiry. In collaboration with institutions in Philadelphia and beyond, the Feinstein Center invites the public to join conversations about Jewish culture, politics, history, and identity across time and space.”

    And as noted from here

    Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, also acknowledged rising tensions on campuses and in communities.

    “It’s an unfortunate byproduct of a conflict that has gone on too long and should be stopped immediately,” he said. “But no overseas conflict can justify any form of anti-Semitism or intolerant action or speech.”

    If charges arise from this incident at Temple, then so be it. Otherwise, let’s put the intolerant generalizations aside, shall we?

  • Finally, I have to tell you that I came across this truly hilarious item from Hunter at Daily Kos; he’s taking to task a writer at Irrational Spew Online named Armond White who came up with a list of the 20 films that “destroyed art, social unity, and spiritual confidence,” as far as White is concerned.

    Number 20 is Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”; of course, forget for a moment that we’re talking about a towering cinematic achievement about passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, definitely original in that the story proceeds through dialogue and various other plot lines without much in the way of what you would call “action.”

    Also on White’s list is “Wall-E,” which is also not surprising since it features characters imitating American behavior in many ways who have been basically exiled into outer space because the planet they once inhabited is now thoroughly despoiled, though there is a bit of environmental hope at the end. And, as you might have expected, “The Dark Knight” made the list because it “undermine(s) heroism, overturn(s) social mores, and embrace(s) anarchy.”

    (I thought the “Batman” movies by Christopher Nolan were a bit of a nod to the “one percent” since they present their wheeling and dealing as important to the survival of Gotham City, though there are also “Occupy”-related themes, particularly in the last one, where the villain Bane uses them to give Gotham the illusion of hope while the city lives in terror, cut off from everyone else. Basically, I think that’s what makes those movies great art; you can look at them from a couple of different mindsets and create different impressions, with not one better or worse than another.)

    As you might have expected, though, Number One on White’s list is “Good Night and Good Luck” about the faceoff between CBS news legend Edward R. Murrow and communist-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy. I’m not going to get into the history of that encounter here; if you want to read more, feel free to click here.

    In the article about the program “See It Now,” where Murrow stood up to McCarthy and allowed the Wisconsin senator an opportunity for rebuttal, we learn that the broadcast did a good job of cutting McCarthy down to size, as it were. What isn’t as readily obvious is the aftermath to Murrow, the program, and the network. CBS ended up losing sponsors in droves (including Alcoa), the program was cut from an hour to a half-hour, and it was moved from prime time to Sunday afternoons. And oh yeah, the loss of sponsors also led to layoffs in the news division, and Murrow’s “cred” within the corporation was irreparably damaged as a result (all of this is portrayed in the movie).

    The moral? If somehow you are remunerated or rewarded for telling the truth in the face of great opposition, especially of the corporate variety, count your blessings, because that probably won’t happen. A clear conscience and the ability to look yourself in the mirror, though highly satisfying, is probably the only positive outcome you will get.


  • Thursday Mashup (10/10/13)

    October 10, 2013
  • Cal Thomas of Fix Noise decided to weigh in recently on the supposed virtues of five different Republican governors across this country (here); I thought it best to offer excerpts of his commentary followed by my response…

    (Oh, and never forget that, according to the Foxies, it’s not a “shut down,” but a “slim down” – I’m sure the parents and kids dependent on food services and immunizations, as well as low-income people who need help with their utilities, to say nothing of our veterans on active duty wondering if their spouses can obtain day care for their kids, among many others, don’t look at it that way.)

    Here are the excerpts from Thomas’s column…

    Bobby Jindal (Louisiana) who wants you to know that his state’s GDP has grown by $36 billion since 2008, nearly twice the national rate. That puts Louisiana eighth best in the country and third best in the South.

    …Jindal (also) says his state has become a “national leader” in charter schools with 80 percent of New Orleans students enrolled in them.

    Actually, as noted here, the majority of the schools cited in a report that Jindal presented on “Meet the Press” received C, D, and F grades (with many F grades showing as “No Action” instead).

    Jindal also said here that racism is the fault of minorities for supposedly not being “American” enough here; also, this presents more “cold light of day” stuff in response to Jindal’s supposed successes, including his support of tax cuts for the wealthy and tax hikes for everyone else (of course) and his refusal to provide health care for his state’s poorest citizens.

    Back to Thomas…

    John Kasich (Ohio) closed an $8 billion shortfall without raising taxes and cut taxes by $3 billion. He eliminated the “death tax,” modernized Medicaid, eliminated the bureaucratic Department of Development and created a private, nonprofit corporation — JobsOhio — to “respond to job creators’ needs at their pace instead of at ‘the speed of statute.’”

    It should also be noted from here that Kasich, along with “Goodhair” Perry of Texas, denied $731 million in unemployment funds for their states (and under Kasich’s supposed “jobs” program, unemployment actually went up; no word on whether or not these events took place “at the speed of statute”).

    Oh, and did you know that, according to here, Ohio is 47th in private-sector job creation?

    Back to Thomas…

    Susana Martinez (New Mexico) boosted funding for education and Medicaid without raising taxes; cooperated with a Democratic legislature, passing the New Mexico Jobs Package, which reduced the tax rate on businesses from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent; moved the state from 38th in the nation in export growth three years ago to first today; turned a structural deficit into a surplus and enacted comprehensive tax reform.

    Martinez also vetoed a minimum wage increase (here) and cut in half the budget for the only agency in the entire state devoted to recruiting businesses for jobs (here).

    And as noted from here, Martinez overstepped her authority when she fired two members and the executive director of Public Employee Labor Relations Board, as ruled by the state supreme court. She also vetoed a business tax increase that the state’s businesses actually lobbied for to shore up the state’s unemployment compensation fund (so much for “comprehensive tax reform”).

    Back to Thomas…

    Nikki Haley (South Carolina) pushed through tax reform on small businesses, which she claims, resulted in South Carolina having the fastest growing manufacturing sector on the East Coast and creating 38,000 new jobs, which have contributed $9 billion in new investment.

    Of the five governors on this supposedly “got it right” list, Haley may be the most hilarious citation of them all (unintentionally so, I realize).

    As noted here, South Carolina is basically #35 in job growth (they were 46th in August 2012, so I guess that’s some progress…don’t know whether they still have the third-highest youth unemployment rate of nearly 20 percent). Also, this tells us how unemployed residents of her state took to sending Haley postcards as a gesture not to forget about them while she traveled all over the country on behalf of Willard Mitt Romney.

    Haley’s response (one of them, anyway)? As noted here, she ordered state workers to act “cheerful” on the phone (uh huh).

    And here are some more numbers telling you the awful story of a state whose residents apparently have decided to give Not Your Father’s Republican Party every single thing they want…

    Here in SC unionization is actually illegal. As you all can see, SC is a vibrant, thriving, beacon of hope for all states to look up to:

    –41st in age 25 and over with High School diploma
    –1st in the country in mobile homes as a % of total housing
    –42nd in disposable personal income
    –9th in families below poverty
    –9th in individuals below poverty
    –38th in median family income

    And back to Thomas one last time…

    Scott Walker (Wisconsin) reversed a $3.6 billion deficit he inherited and turned it into a surplus. He provided nearly $1 billion in tax relief for families and businesses that sparked a two-year job growth, which he says is the best in the state under any governor in 10 years.

    Yes indeed, what would a list like this be without Hosni Mubarak Walker? For starters, this is what Politifact said about Walker’s “two-year job growth” claim (too funny – actually, as noted here, Wisconsin was 11th in job creation before Walker took over, but now they’re 38th). And if the state was really generating jobs, then why would Walker be so desperate that he’s blaming the stuff in Syria for its puny growth (here)?

    Also, if Walker is supposed to be so smart with the money, how come Wisconsin keeps increasing its long-term borrowing (here – this and a lot more stuff on the guy who, more than anyone else, embodies the Koch Brothers method of “governance” can be found here).

    And while we’re on the subject of Republican governors, this tells us (returning to the BLS link) that, at best, the land of “Governor Bully” is 41st in the country when it comes to unemployment (50 is the worst).

    However, you wouldn’t know that from this bit of fluffery from Matt Katz of The Philadelphia Inquirer here

    WAYNE, N.J. – In the first debate between candidates who disagree on just about everything, Gov. Christie on Tuesday presented a positive view of an economically strong New Jersey recovering from Hurricane Sandy while his challenger, State Sen. Barbara Buono, described a state struggling under “Romney-style” economics and far-right social conservatism.

    The one-hour debate at William Paterson University, aired live on CBS3, began with a heavy focus on gay marriage, which Buono, a Democrat, supports and the Republican governor opposes, before moving on to property taxes, the minimum wage, and the Affordable Care Act.

    Buono sought to frame Christie as a governor committed to running for president – an assertion that Christie didn’t exactly deny – while Christie described Buono as a tax-and-spend partisan in the mold of former Gov. Jon S. Corzine. On that issue, Buono did not respond to Christie’s challenge to walk back one of the 154 tax and fee increases she voted for as an assemblywoman and later as a state senator.

    Buono is down as much as 33 points in polls and suffering from a severe cash disadvantage, so the debate was seen as her best opportunity to introduce herself to voters and land punches on the popular incumbent. Although she dropped a few zingers, Christie didn’t commit gaffes, and the debate lacked the sound bites that can go viral via social media.

    Yes, I know the odds are long here, but there’s no percentage at all if we do nothing; to do what you can to help Barbara Buono and Milly Silva, please click here.

  • Next, it looks like former Bushie Ari Ari Bobari is leaving CNN (awwww) to spend more time propagandizing and spewing bilious garbage with his family, or something (here – and don’t you know that “Tiger Beat on the Potomac” is ON IT, PEOPLE??!!).

    Well, given this career change/detour/whatever, I thought that it was a good time to look back on some of his most notorious lowlights:

  • Here, he told a mother whose son died in his former boss’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Iraq that “there are going to be a lot more mothers” like you (nice guy – Ari being a member of “Freedom’s Watch,” a bunch of Iraq war cheerleaders including Ed Snider, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers).
  • He once called for the late Helen Thomas to be fired for supposedly hateful comments, though when it comes to Flush Limbore and Glenn Beck, silence is golden, as the song goes (here).
  • He also falsely claimed that Obama had a proposal to eliminate charitable deductions here, for which he wasn’t called out by Wolf Blitzer (shocking, I know).
  • And did you know that Fleischer secretly worked to undermine the relationship that the Susan G. Komen foundation once had with Planned Parenthood, as noted here?
  • Despite all of this, I’m sure Ari will never want for clients, as noted here when golfer Tiger Woods hired Fleischer to help “repair” his image, though they quickly parted ways because Fleischer’s reputation was so bad that it harmed Woods’ rehabilitation (here…God, worse than a philandering husband? Nice one, Ari!).

    And how thoughtful of Ari to provide this bit of idiocy to make this post even more timely.

  • Continuing, I give you more nonsense from Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page that appeared on 10/08 (here)…

    After meeting with Wall Street executives to discuss the impending debt ceiling crisis last week, President Obama appeared on CNBC. He said that not lifting the debt ceiling would lead to catastrophic results. The White House appears determined to drum up fear to achieve their goal of increasing the limit without concessions. Inciting panic in the financial sector only benefits the White House in their apparent pursuit of general hysteria.

    It seems, however, that the financial sector chose not to play along.

    DJIA_1008
    What appears above is a snapshot of the Dow Jones Industrial Average from last Tuesday (lather, rinse, repeat…).

  • Further, we have Mikey the Beloved trying to burnish his imaginary “centrist” bona fides by supporting “one-at-a-time” legislation to fund particular areas of government that he likes (here). How decent of him.

    However, as noted by Kevin Strouse, running for the Dem nomination to challenge Fitzpatrick next year (from here)…

    Strouse, a former Army Ranger and CIA officer, said that the bills are piecemeal solutions and that veterans in particular should not be used as leverage. He highlighted the work the Veterans Benefits Administration has done to attack the 12-month backlog of claims submitted by veteran soldiers. The continued shutdown threatens to erase the office’s efforts to process the paperwork, Strouse said.

    Also, I’ll let you in on the little “con” that Mikey and his pals are trying to pull; the language they use is “well, we’ll vote for a ‘clean’ CR to fund the government when the bill is brought to the floor for a vote”…but our wet noodle PA-08 rep won’t support such a vote.

    If you’re as fed up with this crap as I am, then click here to support Kevin Strouse, which would be a step in the right direction; our goal is to retire Mikey to private live once and for all in 2014 (…and getting mocked by the Taliban, as noted here – every time I think we can’t sink lower on this, we do).

  • Finally, I came across this item from clownhall.com and Dennis Prager…

    Rejection of the old is a reason the left has contempt for the Bible. To progressives, the idea of having 2,000 and 3,000-year-old texts guide a person’s behavior today is ludicrous.

    The wingnuts really do make it too easy sometimes; I give you the following verses from here (yes, the holy book of my faith does inform my opinions and, I think, provides the appropriate context for political developments – I hope that the Bible informs my actions too, but I guess that’s debatable)…

    Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. 4 Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked (Psalm 82:3-4).

    My response is here.

    Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse (Proverbs 19:1).

    My response is here.

    The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern (though I guess the above quote would fit also – Proverbs 29:7).

    My response is here.

    Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14)

    My response is here.

    And finally, from here

    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James 2:26).

    My response is here (and here).


    Let us pray.


  • Friday Mashup (5/24/13)

    May 24, 2013
  • I get it that this Andrew Marcus character is trying to hawk his “documentary” called “Hating Breitbart” on the site of The Daily Tucker, and he’s pretty much trying to do whatever he can to get people to pay attention to him, but even by wingnut standards (low as they are), I would say that trying to draw some sort of equivalence between John Podesta of the Center for American Progress and H.R. Haldeman, former chief of staff to President Richard Nixon, is pretty lame (here)…

    In “Hating Breitbart,” John Podesta emerges as someone who perfectly embodies the left’s penchant for creating an environment of corruption, abuse and personal attacks. As the co-chairman of Obama’s 2008-2009 transition team, Podesta obviously enjoys a very close relationship to this White House. Today he runs the Center for American Progress, a far-left think tank, and exerts a great deal of influence in media circles. The political culture he has helped create is exactly what Andrew Breitbart so passionately resisted and despised.

    Let me be clear: I have no evidence that Podesta has been personally involved in any of the scandals that are currently rocking the Obama presidency. But what I do know about Podesta is that his Center for American Progress has been instrumental in dehumanizing Obama’s political opponents. In doing so, he has created fertile ground for these scandals to take root.

    As far as “scandals” that are “rocking” the Obama presidency (and, as usual, there’s no actual evidence of wrongdoing on Podesta’s part, just more guilt by association), this tells us that the stuff on the IRS and the Teahadists, the AP and Eric Holder and BENGHAZI!! are pretty much being met with a collective yawn (to the point where even Republican staffers are wondering if the elected officials they support have lost what little is left of their minds here).

    And this is just REALLY way too damn funny from Marcus (page 3)…

    Ultimately, it’s people like H.R. Haldeman and John Podesta who build the nests and turn the eggs — though Richard Nixon’s crimes pale in comparison to what has been recently alleged of the Obama administration. Congress was never able to establish any broad-based abuse of the IRS against Nixon’s “enemies list,” but even Nixon’s comparatively modest abuses merited an article of impeachment. Obama’s IRS has already admitted to misconduct. Who knows what other scandalous evidence may ultimately emerge?

    Let me know if and when John Podesta is convicted of perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice and sentenced to 18 months in the federal pen, OK, as noted here (although this is cause for a bit of concern about CAP, though when it comes to undisclosed foreign donations to the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce, it’s a speck by comparison – here).

    And as far as the “Obama vs. Nixon” stuff goes, here is my answer.

  • Next, it looks like former Repug Senator and potential Obama Commerce Secretary Judd Gregg has decided to cash in, as noted here

    Former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) has been named CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), a powerhouse trade group for Wall Street.

    The top job at SIFMA was one of the hottest openings on K Street, and it comes with a hefty payday. The group’s last leader, Tim Ryan, earned $2.9 million in compensation in 2010, according to the group’s tax form for that year.

    Gregg said he plans to use his new platform to champion the message that Wall Street is good for the economy.

    “I suspect what I’m going to be doing is what we have talked about, which is reorient ourselves on the issue of how you communicate the importance of this industry to people on Main Street America and their jobs,” Gregg told reporters on a conference call.

    SIFMA, which represents financial giants such as Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, lobbies extensively on Capitol Hill and at regulatory agencies, and has been particularly active on the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

    (“Particularly active” being Beltway media-code-speak for trying to gut Dodd-Frank every way possible, as noted here, which is what I think this is really all about anyway.)

    And as noted here, “Skank” of America was one of the banks that made yet another fortune off fees charged to the city of Detroit while that once-great metropolis restructured its debt (and as noted here, the financial rogue colossus recently asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit over the mortgages Countrywide wrote for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac…totally on their own and without any prompting from anyone, BOA took over Countrywide in 2008).

    And as far as Morgan Stanley is concerned, this tells us about the toxic CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations) they peddled, which basically were collections of mortgage-backed securities that the investment banking geniuses at M-S knew would blow up, so they sold them to the Chinese…what a cunning plan; antagonize the country holding the single largest volume of our debt among all others. Brilliant!

    And these are the people Gregg will be shilling for in his cushy new gig.

    “Them that’s got shall get, them that’s not shall lose…”

  • Continuing, I’d at first planned to stay away from commenting on the tornado disaster in Moore, Oklahoma earlier this week (and if you are able to assist in any way, please click here), but I really felt like I had to say something in response to this from Seth Borenstein of the AP (here…kind of laughable to me that he’s the “science” writer after reading this)…

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Everything had to come together just perfectly to create the killer tornado in Moore, Okla.: wind speed, moisture in the air, temperature and timing. And when they did, the awesome energy released over that city dwarfed the power of the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima.

    I don’t have any information to contest that claim, but I think, based on this, that any comparison between the Moore tornado and the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion is ridiculous. And that is because, as deadly as the Moore tornado was, it was only the wind at work, not the combination of wind, blast-furnace heat and radiation that was inflicted on Hiroshima (and I’ve heard many scholarly arguments against dropping the bomb, including that of Oliver Stone in his “Untold History of the United States” here, but sorry – I still believe it was the right thing to do; Stone, for example, argued that the Soviet Union would have assisted the U.S. in an invasion of mainland Japan, but I don’t think his evidence on that is totally credible).

    And get a load of this bit of wankery (returning to Borenstein)…

    Scientists know the key ingredients that go into a devastating tornado. But they are struggling to figure out why they develop in some big storms and not others. They also are still trying to determine what effects, if any, global warming has on tornadoes.

    Really? I guess, as far as Borenstein and his denialist pals are concerned, 97 percent of a consensus on the subject just isn’t good enough, as noted here (h/t Wonkette…think “more extreme weather patterns,” and maybe this too).

  • Further, I thought I should let you know what at least one of Willard Mitt Romney’s confidants is up to now that we haven’t sworn The Mittster in as our 45th president (thank God), along with Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv as his veep – I’m referring to Glenn “Give It Your Best Shot” Hubbard here

    The United States itself has a larger GDP and higher productivity than 10 years ago, but its long-term growth rate has slowed by half. That’s a reflection of internal imbalance – budget deficits, heavy taxes that hinder incentives to work and innovate, unfunded entitlements and more.

    Actually, there’s no freaking demand, you soulless parasite, as noted here (unless he considers that to be part of the “and more,” and the sequester is doing absolutely nothing to help of course, as noted here…and isn’t this encouraging also – not!).

  • Finally, I’d like to point out the utterly obvious fact that Memorial Day weekend is basically upon us, and it is quite appropriate for us to ponder the sacrifices made by the men and women in our military who have given much (and, in many cases, given all), and say a prayer of two in gratitude, wish good thoughts for them, visit cemeteries to pay our respects, and engage in all manner of solemn events for the occasion to express our gratitude (or assist the VA and/or veterans groups as our means allows).

    The heroism we appreciate on this occasion takes place in the name of maintaining our freedom, a thought that occurred to me as I read an otherwise generic (in its wingnuttery, I mean) opinion column from Repug Louisiana Governor Bobby “Don’t Call Me Piyush” Jindal here (and I apologize in advance for conflating notions of honor and courage here with rank political claptrap)…

    Look at liberalism across every issue, from healthcare to energy to spending, and one thing is crystal clear: Liberals don’t believe in the dynamic and transformative power of freedom. Bigger government and more power in the hands of a few means the interests of the public will be violated.

    With this idiocy in mind, I’d like to offer the following in response from Mike Malloy (here)…

    Why do conservatives hate freedom? The question may be startling. After all, don’t conservatives claim they are protecting liberty in America against liberal statism, which they compare to communism or fascism? But the conservative idea of “freedom” is a very peculiar one, which excludes virtually every kind of liberty that ordinary Americans take for granted.

    In the cases of freedom from racial discrimination and freedom from sexual repression, American conservatives have been solidly on the side of government repression of the powerless and unprivileged. The same is true with respect to workers’ rights, debtors’ rights and criminal rights.

    To listen to their Jacksonian rhetoric, American conservatives are the champions of the little guy against the “elites.” But not, it appears, in the workplace or the bank. The American right is opposed to anything — minimum wage laws, unions, workplace regulations — that would increase the bargaining power of workers relative to their bosses.

    What would America look like, if conservatives had won their battles against American liberty in the last half-century? Formal racial segregation might still exist at the state and local level in the South. In some states, it would be illegal to obtain abortions or even for married couples to use contraception. In much of the United States, gays and lesbians would still be treated as criminals. Government would dictate to Americans with whom and how they can have sex. Unions would have been completely annihilated in the public as well as the private sector. Wages and hours laws would be abolished, so that employers could pay third-world wages to Americans working seven days a week, 12 hours a day, as many did before the New Deal. There would be far more executions and far fewer procedural safeguards to ensure that the lives of innocent Americans are not ended mistakenly by the state.

    That is the America that the American right for the last few generations has fought for. Freedom has nothing to do with it.

    4991033-american-flag
    And with that in mind, please allow me to extend best wishes to one and all for a happy and healthy Memorial Day weekend.


  • I’m Sure Gordon Jones Would Like His Life Back Too, Hayward

    June 5, 2010

    Along with his 10 former co-workers who also perished on the Deepwater Horizon rig; more here…


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

    May 27, 2010

    roveAs noted here…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Rousting Another Repug Ruse On The “Stim” (Updates)

    October 12, 2009

    no_090904_p06_cartoon
    Uh oh, here comes another “Dems are doomed in 2010” story, highlighting our moribund economy (I would say that it’s too early to make blanket generalizations, though that will never stop our corporate media, of course)…

    The longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression has claimed 7.2 million jobs since it began in December 2007. Analysts figure 750,000 more jobs could disappear over the next six months.

    If you add in people who have stopped looking for work, or who are working part time when they want a full-time job, the unemployment rate is a whopping 17 percent, according to the Labor Department.

    “If you’ve got an effective unemployment rate of 17 percent and if this goes on for any length of time, a year or more, then everyone’s cushion will run out,” said Republican consultant Rich Galen. “There are going to be serious implications, culturally and politically.”

    Galen said it’s understandable that Republicans would use the state of the economy to pound Obama and Democrats who control Congress. Still, “it’s not something we should either make fun of, be amused by or play politics with,” he said.

    Oh, this is to laugh truly, my fellow prisoners (Update 10/13/09…and as far as the Repugs supposedly gaining ground, the only issue has to do with the Dems losing theirs, as noted here).

    Galen thinks the Repugs shouldn’t “play politics” with the economy, huh?

    Seriously, has this man been living under a rock for the past six months or so? I ask that because his party has done NOTHING BUT THAT since President Obama was inaugurated!

    I’m sure Repug U.S. House Rep Trent Franks of Arizona (who, as noted here, has flipped back and forth so many times on the question of Obama’s birth certificate that it’s a wonder he isn’t in traction) wasn’t “playing politics” when he told the lie about the stim funds for the rail from Disneyland to the Moonlight Bunny Ranch (here).

    And I’m sure Louisiana Governor Bobby (Don’t Call Me Piyush) Jindal wasn’t “playing politics” when he faced off with fellow Repug U.S. House Rep “Joseph” Cao from his state about light rail funding (here). And I’m also sure Jindal wasn’t “playing politics” when he made light of “stim” funding for volcano monitoring (here) shortly before Mount Redoubt erupted (here).

    And I’m sure other Repug party members weren’t “playing politics” when they stripped pandemic preparedness funds from the “stim” here (just remember that as cases of H1N1 start piling up).

    And I’m sure Repug Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison weren’t “playing politics” with the economy when they voted against stim funds before they realized that they needed NASA funding and, at the last minute, decided that it should come from the stim here.

    And I’m sure Repug U.S. House Reps John Mica and Don Young weren’t “playing politics” when, as McClatchy tells us here, they “touted projects” from the stim bill that they also opposed.

    I guess this is to be expected from a partisan like Galen, I realize, who claimed here that former Repug presidential candidate Fred (Find My Pulse ’08) Thompson wasn’t dropping out in early January ’08 (which was true), though Grampa “Law And Order “ ended up bailing three weeks later after his microscopic vote total in South Carolina, as noted here.

    And oh yeah, one of the Repugs making the most noise about the stim according to the story is a certain House Minority Leader, who, based on this, has to answer for his own antics as well.

    Update 10/13/09: I forgot about this guy also.

    Update 10/19/09: And how could I forget about this waste of space also (once again, no word on whether or not he ever found his flag lapel pin).

    Update 10/21/09: More to add to the list here…


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