Wednesday Mashup (10/7/09)

October 7, 2009

  • This tells us the following…

    Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) — At least 47 school-age children in Chicago have been killed in homicides, mostly by guns, since the month President Barack Obama took office.

    The latest youth homicide in his adopted hometown was different only in that the attackers used splintered railroad ties and were captured on video broadcast globally.

    The Sept. 24 attack prompted Obama to send his attorney general and education secretary to Chicago today after the killing tarnished the city’s drive to win the 2016 Olympics.

    Oh, so NOW we’re being told that Chicago lost the 2016 Olympics because of gun violence? What a joke (not the violence, which is all too terrible – just this ridiculous attempt at an explanation).

    And get a load of this…

    Chicago’s violence has long burdened Obama’s political career, including the embarrassment of a missed vote as a state senator that hurt his 2000 bid for Congress.

    You’ve got to be fracking kidding me! What can that POSSIBLY have to do with what this story is supposed to be about?

    Yes, the vote in question was detrimental to Obama at the time, but I think the following should be noted from here (about the vote McCormick goes out of his way to mention)…

    …Obama didn’t help his record in Springfield when he failed to come home from a Hawaiian vacation to vote on the Safe Neighborhoods Act. His vote wouldn’t have made a difference, but Obama’s been a strident supporter of gun control, so a lot of voters thought he’d disappeared when his voice was needed most. Obama takes his family to Hawaii once a year to visit his 80-year-old grandmother, Toot. Both his parents are dead, and Toot is the only living relative he knew growing up. This year he almost canceled the trip because the fight over the Safe Neighborhoods Act went on until December 22. The Obamas managed to get out of town on Thursday, December 23, and planned to fly back the following Tuesday, so Barack could be in Springfield when the legislature reconvened the next day. But on the day of the flight, Obama’s 18-month-old daughter came down with the flu. He decided to stay in Hawaii one more day. If Malia seemed to be recovering, the Obamas would go home together. If not, Barack would fly out alone. On Wednesday Malia was well enough to fly, and the family returned to Illinois.

    “I made an assessment based on the fact that I didn’t want to leave my wife and daughter alone without knowing how serious her condition was, and my assessment was based on the fact that this was a largely political vote, in the sense that either Pate Philip was going to agree to a compromise, in which case the bill was going to pass, or there were going to be negotiations taking place,” he says. “We put our families through so many sacrifices in this process anyway that every once in a while you have to make a decision in terms of what you think is best for your family, and I think that this was one of these decisions. Politically, I took a big hit.”

    And by the way, since John McCormick has no interest in balance here, I believe that it’s incumbent upon yours truly to provide the following information, showing how Obama has balanced supporting common sense gun measures with the legitimate rights of gun enthusiasts and sportsmen (and women).

  • It seems like the latest attempt to kill any semblance of a public option that could still yet emerge in the battle for a health care reform bill is the notion from Republican-lite senators such as Tom Carper and Ben Nelson that states could provide their own “public option” instead of one federally mandated.

    However, as Think Progress tells us here…

    Large progressive states like New York and California will likely embrace this proposal; more conservative states may wait to see if these public plans save money.

    And it’s not clear that they will. State-based public options would enter concentrated markets (already dominated by one or two private insurers) and lack the market clout to negotiate significantly cheaper rates or institute reforms that change the way care is paid for. Existing state-run employer plans (and Medicaid in many states) have already given up on the ‘public’ aspect of their plans and outsourced the work to private insurers. As a result, they have failed to significantly lower health care costs or bring any real change to the market place. In other words, like Carper’s proposal, they are ‘public plans’ in name only.

    And by the way, as noted here…

    The (report by the Commonwealth fund, a health policy research organization) analyzed the rate of growth of U.S. health care spending between 2010 and 2020 under three possible reform scenarios. One plan would include a public option with healthcare providers paid at Medicare rates; another includes a public option with providers paid at rates midway between Medicare and private insurance plans; and the final plan would have no public option, instead relying exclusively on private insurers.

    The researchers found that, compared to cost projections if the nation’s health system remains unchanged, reform would “bend the cost curve” — that is, health care spending will still rise, but at a slower rate. They found that reform that includes a public plan tied to Medicare rates would save nearly $3 trillion through 2020, a public plan with higher reimbursement rates would save $1.97 trillion and an insurance exchange with only private plans would save $1.2 trillion.

    By the way, Keith Olbermann will present an hour-long “Special Comment” tonight on health care on “Countdown.” I’ll either watch on the teevee or online, but I’ll catch it somehow, and I think we all should.

  • And finally here’s some crackpot history from The Old Gray Lady and columnist David Leonhardt (here)…

    Democrats dominated the middle part of the 20th century, thanks in part to their vigorous response to the Great Depression. They used the government to soften the effects of the Depression and to build the modern safety net. But they failed to see the limits of the government’s ability to manage the economy and helped usher in the stagflation of the 1970s.

    In response, I give you Paul Krugman (here)…

    Stagflation was a term coined by Paul Samuelson to describe the combination of high inflation and high unemployment. The era of stagflation in America began in 1974 and ended in the early 80s. Why did it happen?

    Well, the textbooks basically invoke two factors. One was a series of “adverse supply shocks”, mainly the huge runup in the price of oil. The other was excessively expansionary monetary policy, especially in 1972-3, which allowed expectations of inflation to become entrenched.

    But where is the Great Society in all this? Nowhere. The claim that stagflation proved the badness of liberal ideas is pure propaganda, which not even conservative economists believe.

    What a shame that David Leonhardt doesn’t even read his own newspaper.

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    Monday Mashup (10/5/09)

    October 5, 2009

  • I have to tell you that I, for one, am already sick of this narrative that “ooh, Obama suffered such a loss of prestige over visiting Copenhagen to lobby on behalf of Chicago for the 2016 Olympics, only to see Chicago eliminated in the first round” (and this reads like it was dictated directly from the RNC…why don’t you try commenting on some of this instead?).

    As noted here, “Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Spanish King Juan Carlos (also came) to support Rio de Janeiro and Madrid” in their bids for the Games, with da Silva eventually winning the Rio bid.

    Which, to me, begs the following question: I wonder if King Juan Carlos suffered a “loss of prestige” over the elimination of Madrid?

    And as Think Progress notes here, the tourist Visa policies instituted by Dubya and his pals may have had more than a bit to do with the “Windy City’s” early elimination, though I’m sure you won’t hear a word of that from our beloved corporate media (more related commentary from Paul Krugman appears here, in which he quite rightly compares the Repugs to “bratty 13-year-olds” on this and other matters).

  • Update: And it will be interesting to see how our corporate media spins this against Obama, though they will try of course.

  • This Pew study tells us what we already knew, and it is that most stories having to do with everyday Americans were absent from the coverage of the economic crisis (and by the way, speaking of strange media coverage, can anyone hazard a guess as to why the Inky decided to publish a column by former sports columnist Bill Lyon about former Phillies closer Brad Lidge in its “Currents” section yesterday, which is supposed to pass for Sunday Review and Opinion?).
  • I just have three words to say in response to this: pot, meet kettle.
  • Another point over which Obama has been beaten up lately is the supposed controversy over speaking directly with Gen. Stanley McChrystal “only once since June” (not counting recently), reiterated by Turd Blossom here as part of Obama’s alleged “hands off” style (yes, I know this is about what we can expect from the supposed political genius whose fingerprints are all over our current foreign policy and domestic miseries).

    (By the way, let’s not forget that McChrystal is Number 47 on this list.)

    Of course, being a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, I would consider President Obama’s interactions with his generals as nothing more than following the chain of command. But what do I know?

    bushmiers
    You want a portrayal of “hands-off style,” Karl? Here it is, you dirtbag (based on this, and we know what happened a month after this photo was taken – your good buddy decided to go “clear brush” for awhile and then go and sit dumbfounded in a Florida classroom while this country burned).

  • And comparing Obama to his predecessor once more, it should be noted that (from here), our current president has chosen not to meet with the Dalai Lama, a move intended to avert the rage of our “good friends” the Chinese.

    However, Obama’s predecessor did decide to meet with the Tibetan leader, as noted here. And before you think to yourself that, “gee, Bush actually had a spine on this while the ‘aloof’ Obama…another pointless editorial slam disguised as news aimed at Number 44…didn’t,” consider that Bush had to more or less make amends with the country holding the vast majority of our debt by attending the Olympic games in Beijing last year in the face of protests from other countries over China’s atrocious record on human rights.

    You tell me who made the right moves here and who didn’t.


  • A “Friday Funny” On Iraq (Sort Of)

    October 2, 2009

    Yesterday at The Weakly Standard, I came across this item…

    Goldfarb_Iraq_Victory

    (Update: The text in the red block says “This is what victory looks like”; didn’t realize that that would be hard to read – sorry…)

    What good news, I thought to myself.

    So I clicked on the link and it took me to this article by Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent, in which we learn the following…

    All U.S. military actions in Iraq now occur “by, with and through” the Iraqi security forces, “within the framework of the security agreement.” (Gen. Raymond Odierno) praised the departure of U.S. combat forces from Iraqi cities on June 30 as a “major milestone” whose “positive psychological impact has been profound.” He called the Iraqi security forces capable.

    Nine months after implementing the security agreement and three months after leaving the cities “we continue to make consistent…progress,” Odierno said. Reduced attacks “of all types” to levels not seen since the “summer of 2003.” He’s got charts! Overall attacks have decreased 85 percent over the last two years, to 594 in August of 2009. “Ethno-sectarian deaths” have decreased 77 percent. Only 19 ethno-sectarian incidents over Ramadan 2009, compared to 978 in 2006. There are “high-profile attacks” that continue, but Odierno brings out stats to show their decline even after June 30. “There was a clear security lapse on 19 August in Baghdad, but I do not believe it was the result of any systematic security problems,” Odierno said, referring to massive Baghdad bombings occurring that day, saying the government “responded effectively … enabled by U.S. forces, and they continue to reassess their security posture.” Extremist efforts to re-spark sectarian violence “have failed.”

    Assuming I could overlook the approximately 4,348 casualties we our country alone have has suffered over Dubya’s war of choice (to say nothing of thousands of our wounded/traumatized military personnel, as well as the price paid by innocent Iraqis and the subsequent millions displaced by the world’s worst refugee crisis), is this an occasion for me to give anyone who supported this monstrous debacle since Day One even a smidgeon of credit?

    Not really; as noted here (also from Gen. Odierno’s testimony)…

    “I’m not sure we will ever see anyone declare victory in Iraq, because first off, I’m not sure we’ll know for 10 years or five years,” Army Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters at the Pentagon.

    Lather, rinse, repeat (silly wingnuts)…

    Update: And speaking of conservative idiocy (including the Standard), after reading this, please read this.


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