Wednesday Mashup (10/24/12)

October 24, 2012
  • Mikey The Beloved’s PR’s service notified us of the following recently (here)…

    Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is criticizing the Veterans Administration for awarding bonuses to employees at a time when there’s a massive disability claims backlog, improper payments have made national news and a systematic pattern of mail destruction is plaguing the agency.

    Fitzpatrick, the 8th District Republican, said the Philadelphia regional office, where the problems have occurred, has received $1.4 million worth of bonuses in the past three years.

    “These are taxpayer dollars being spent to reward a system that is in chronic failure,” he said. “If employees at the Veterans Administration are getting bonuses when they’re failing, what incentive do they have to fix the problem, and who’s holding them accountable?”

    By the way, it should be noted that the bonuses were discovered by the VA’s Inspector General, not Congress, something Mikey’s loyal stenographer Gary Weckselblatt dutifully omitted (here), leaving the reader the impression that Mikey and his pals in Congress somehow discovered it themselves. It should also be noted that a bill has been introduced to curb VA bonuses, as noted here.

    All of this is nothing but typical grandstanding, though, when you find out that the party of Fitzpatrick, Boehner, Cantor, Todd Akin, etc. decided that veterans’ benefits should be on the budgetary “chopping block,” as noted here. And it’s not as if Mikey has such a shining voting record concerning our vets, as noted here.

    Besides, does Mikey really want a comparison between current VA head Eric Shinseki and Bushco’s Jim Nicholson (here)? It looks like the current benchmark is 125 days to turnaround claims, but it was 145-150 under Bushco (still too long, but better). And this tells us how Nicholson underestimated VA funding requirements by $2.6 billion, expecting to provide care originally for about 25,000 of our military in 2005, though he ended up having to more than quadruple that figure. Oh, and there was that matter of veterans’ info that fell prey to identity theft under Nicholson’s tenure also (here).

    And for good measure, this tells you about Number 44’s efforts overall on behalf of our veterans.

    If you’re as fed up with Mikey’s antics as I am (not just on veterans issues, but everything), then click here to donate to Kathy Boockvar or help with the “get out the vote” effort (less than two weeks to go).

  • Next, I give you the following from one of Mikey’s U.S. House playmates, and that would be Sam Graves of Missouri (here – I can’t find anyone running against Graves, so I assume he’s unopposed; love to be wrong because Graves needs an opponent)…

    The Obama administration’s relentless government expansion has become a disturbing pattern. Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) report today (October 23) is a devastating list of the president’s failures and misplaced policies. The common thread is the drastic expansion of government’s role, without being too picky about the means. The attitude seems to be that nothing can or should stand in the way of this big government agenda – not the law, not the people’s representatives, not the deliberative legislative process envisioned by our nation’s founders.

    As chairman of the Committee on Small Business, I follow closely the effect of these decisions on small businesses. Job creators are frozen by the Administration’s tax and regulatory policies, and the fear of more.

    Taxes are a big part of the cloud of uncertainty looming over our job creators.

    To begin, I don’t know how Graves can claim that Obama has “expanded” government when he has, in fact, shrunk it, so much so that he was actually attacked for that in a campaign ad by Willard Mitt Romney and Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv here. On top of that, this tells us that two Goldman Sachs economists pointed out that “uncertainty” is just a normal part of an economic recovery, and we’re starting to come out of that (with the caveat being that I personally don’t consider our repeated cycle over the last 30 years or so of going from bubble to bust economically as “normal”).

    Here is more on Graves, including his support for “Jesus Q. Nutbar,” otherwise known as Todd Akin, his vote in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (abortion already isn’t federally funded because of the Hyde Amendment – this is a recording), his vote in favor of a government shutdown over the debt ceiling hissy fit even though he voted to raise the debt ceiling in 2004, etc.

    As I always say, there are people out there who actually vote for these characters.

  • And speaking of characters, the Old Gray Lady recently opined here on The Republican Former 43rd President Who Shall Not Be Named…

    He does not speak on the stump or appear in television ads. Campaign audiences rarely hear his name.

    But aside from President Obama and Mitt Romney, no one has shaped the 2012 election more than George W. Bush — on the economy and on the foreign policy issues in the spotlight during the final presidential debate on Monday.

    For Mr. Romney, the battered reputation of Mr. Bush represents a burden to minimize in a tight race for the White House. The two have not appeared together this year.

    When an audience member asked about Mr. Bush in the debate last week, Mr. Romney separated himself from what he characterized as Mr. Bush’s shortcomings on the budget deficit and on trade with China.

    For Mr. Obama, Mr. Bush’s economic record offers a shield against voters’ wrath over high unemployment and slow growth; majorities in polls describe the nation’s economic woes as something the incumbent inherited rather than caused.

    Continuing…

    Mr. Bush’s former aides chafe at criticism of his record from fellow Republicans, as well as from Democrats. Tony Fratto, a spokesman in the Bush White House and the Treasury Department, rebutted both of Mr. Romney’s barbs from the debate last week.

    “There are good reasons why we didn’t balance the budget,” like the fight against terrorism, Mr. Fratto said. On trade, “we were very effective with the Chinese” in paving the way for a rise in the value of its currency, to the benefit of American businesses.

    Oh, by the way, I should note that this column was written by John Harwood. That explains the cowardly tactic of paraphrasing a supposed reason from a former Bushie, basically acting as Fratto’s stenographer instead of showing the courage of whatever convictions Harwood has and making Fratto go on the record with an exact quote.

    Also, It’s funny to hear Fratto justify, on the one hand, whatever it was that Dubya supposedly did for China’s currency (color me skeptical on that one), while, on the other hand, Romany criticizes China as a currency manipulator here (actually getting something right for a change…see “Blind Squirrel” and “Nut”). Which one is it?

    The real howler from Fratto, though, is the line about how the GLOBAL WAR ON TERRA! TERRA! TERRA! was supposedly responsible for Dubya’s wretched non-management of our government’s finances under his watch; this provides the reality point of view on that subject (#3 in particular).

  • I guess that’s a bit of a transition to this idiocy from Investor’s Business Daily (here)…

    Election ’12: From Moscow to Caracas to Havana, something disturbing is happening: Dictators with long records of enmity toward the U.S. are endorsing Obama for president. What does that say about the Obama presidency?

    Fresh from abusing Venezuela’s opposition after his own rigged re-election, Chavez declared, “If I were American, I would vote for Obama. He is my candidate.” It was his second direct endorsement of Obama in a week. After that, he spooled off his plans to impose socialism on his country.

    Around the same time, Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuba’s ruling communist capo Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, told CNN: “As a citizen of the world, I would like for (Obama) to win.”

    She added: “Obama deserves a second chance and he needs greater support to move forward with his projects which I believe come from the heart.”

    One or two silly endorsements from movie stars or Honey Boo Boo are one thing.

    But with this president, there’s a sustained and disturbing pattern of America’s enemies signaling preference for Obama over the alternative as U.S. president.

    In the case of Chavez and the Castro oligarchs, it’s obvious enough that Obama governs in a way that resembles their own — increasing state employees and state dependency, ruling by decree, singling out companies for punishment, and engaging in a cult of personality where the state is replaced by the leader.

    You want to talk about presidents and dictators, IBD? Really?

    OK, then, let’s go way back to here, where Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger endorsed the murderous brutality of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, playing a role in the coup that ousted Socialist (for real) Chilean President Salvador Allende and installed Pinochet, igniting a “reign of terror which Pinochet’s secret police extended around the South American continent and across the globe.”

    Also, let’s go here, where The Sainted Ronnie R made nice with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and our former pal in Iraq, none other than Saddam Hussein himself.

    And as far as Reagan’s “son” is concerned, the following should be noted from here, according to human rights attorney Scott Horton, as well as Glenn Greenwald (doing Tricky Dick and The Gipper each one better, you could say)…

    “We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship. The constitutional rights we learned about in high school civics were suspended. That was thanks to secret memos crafted deep inside the Justice Department that effectively trashed the Constitution. What we know now is likely the least of it.”

    And as far as Obama “increasing state employees” (not totally sure what “state” IBD is talking about here)…well, once again, I give you the reality point of view here.

  • Finally, I give you the latest from the right wing umbrage factory, The Daily Tucker in particular (here)…

    If you ever wanted a glimpse into potentially just how rabidly left-of-center your average MSNBC viewer is, you had an opportunity this morning during the “What have we learned today?” segment on “Morning Joe.”

    As the Tuesday broadcast of “Morning Joe” was wrapping up, co-host Mika Brzezinski introduced viewers to 9-year-old Annabelle.

    “I have Annabelle,” Brzezinski said. “She is nine and a half. She has four brothers so she kind of feels my pain this morning. But Annabelle, who do you think should win the election, Annabelle?”

    Annabelle replied, “Mitt Romney,” which was met with a chorus of boos on the show’s live set at Racks Downtown Eatery and Tavern in Boca Raton, Fla.’s Mizner Park.

    “Booing a 9-year-old girl?” co-host Willie Geist said. “Clean it up.”

    Um, if you actually watch the video, you’ll see people laughing over it, OK? In other words, it…was…a…joke.

    (By the way, if you want to hear an audience booing someone or voicing disapproval for real over a political matter, click here.)

    Oh, and I give you this from the Daily Tucker item…

    “Booing a 9-year-old girl, a lot of these people must have come down from Philly or something,” Time magazine’s Joe Klein added.

    Oh, ha and ha, Joe (yes, we know the “short hand” by heart…Philly, the place where they booed Santa Claus, etc., etc.).

    Well, maybe I’m being a little thin-skinned myself here I’ll admit, but as long as Klein is bad-mouthing Philadelphia, let me share this item I happened to come across recently (here)…

    We can all agree that Philly gets a bad rap in the national media, especially when we witness wedding parties duking it out at the Society Hill Sheraton (“One dead, 3 held in wedding free-for-all,” Oct. 8). However, just a few blocks away, a number of Philadelphians showed their true colors.

    My 19-year-old daughter, a freshman at Drexel University, was out with one of her classmates on Church Street in Old City on the afternoon of Oct. 4. Her classmate (a Dallas native) was a few steps ahead when my daughter started to black out and have a seizure. A passerby saw what was happening and quickly caught her just before her head hit the sidewalk. Her friend turned around to see my daughter convulsing on the sidewalk. The friend then saw people pour out of nearby shops, offering assistance, bringing water and blankets, and calling 911. EMTs arrived within minutes and rushed her to the ER at Hahnemann.

    Fortunately, my daughter came out of it fairly quickly and is now OK.

    Her friend from Dallas was blown away at the random acts of kindness and how quickly everyone responded. As a parent, I thank God, the guardian angels watching over my daughter, and the good Samaritan who caught my daughter before she split her head open on the sidewalk.

    I am equally thankful for the other Philadephians who stepped up, did the right thing, and showed my daughter how kind and caring we can be as residents of this great city. This story will never make the national media, but it is a story that will be in our hearts for all eternity.

    John Pogas
    Hatfield, PA

    And if I were to venture a guess, I’m sure there were more than a few sports fans in the crowd that came to the aid of the daughter of Mr. Pogas.

    One more thing – I’m sure none of the people in Boca Raton Klein was bitching about ever acted as sock puppets for one-time U.S. House Rep Pete Hoekstra (here).


  • Thursday Mashup (8/2/12)

    August 2, 2012

    (Note: I’ve had a bit more time to do this recently than I thought, but this won’t be the case very often, for what it’s worth.)

  • To begin, I give you some true hilarity from Willard Mitt Romney economic guru (and former Bushie – that applies to a lot of the Romney-ites, by the way) Glenn Hubbard here (here’s the “Cliff Notes” version…cut taxes, Austerity! Austerity! Austerity!, and “entitlement reform”)…

    In contrast to the sclerosis and joblessness of the past three years, the Romney plan offers an economic U-turn in ideas and choices. When bolstered by sound trade, education, energy and monetary policy, the Romney reform program is expected by the governor’s economic advisers to increase GDP growth by between 0.5% and 1% per year over the next decade. It should also speed up the current recovery, enabling the private sector to create 200,000 to 300,000 jobs per month, or about 12 million new jobs in a Romney first term, and millions more after that due to the plan’s long-run growth effects.

    You know what? At a certain point, I actually find myself running out of words for this utter nonsense; just click here to read and/or view something approximating the same degree of reality as that statement. And oh yeah, this post pretty well dismantles the magical thinking when it comes to the stated Romney/Hubbard position on this subject.

    (And by the way, nice touch for Hubbard to actually take his disagreement with Obama overseas, as noted here – oh yeah, Dixie Chicks, Dixie Chicks, Dixie Chicks…funny thing, though; they weren’t officially representing our government when they criticized Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History.)

    The Romney people simply are not serious. On this or most any other issue. Period – full stop.

    Update 8/4/12: And as more evidence of their “unseriousness,” I give you this.

  • Oh…mah…gawd – it looks like the Obama people were at fault for Solyndra after all (here)…

    “Political pressure” by a White House eager to tout its stimulus agenda was largely to blame for fast-tracking the ill-fated $535 million Solyndra loan guarantee, according to findings in a massive new congressional report released Thursday morning.

    (And gosh, how many pages were in this “massive” report, I wonder? I mean, all Mikey The Beloved and his pals ever do is complain about the size of the Affordable Care Act legislation – could this be yet another example of the Repugs trying to have it both ways? Perish the thought!)

    Oh, and by the way…

    The report, by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, caps a nearly yearlong investigation by the panel into why the government allegedly ignored red flags to approve the loan. Solyndra, a solar-panel firm, filed for bankruptcy last year.

    Surprised? Oh, and one more thing…

    The report, which follows another GOP-authored congressional study earlier this week on the “Fast and Furious” scandal, is sure to fuel an election-year furor over questionable taxpayer investments in private companies.

    About “Fast and Furious” (or, as I call it, Operation Wide Receiver 2.0), Crooks and Liars tells us the following from here (namely, if the Repugs’ own committee couldn’t fix blame on the White House, what does that tell you?).

    Also, I’ve done the whole “Solyndra!” thing to death, but if anyone still wants to read the reality point of view on this subject, click here.

  • Finally, I know I really should ignore the idiocy of John Stossel, but I guess some stoo-pid is too obnoxious to brush off (here)…

    The Olympics have gone smoothly despite — gasp! — America’s team wearing clothing made in China at the opening ceremony.

    “I’m so upset,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile, and burn them. … We have people in the textile industry who are desperate for jobs.”

    Here, Reid demonstrates economic cluelessness. It seems logical that Americans lose if American clothing is made overseas. But that’s nonsense. First, it’s no surprise the uniforms were made in China. Most clothing is. That’s fine. It saves money. We invest the savings in other things, like the machines that Chinese factories buy and the trucks that ship the Olympic uniforms.

    The Cato Institute’s Daniel Ikenson’s adds: “We design clothing here. We brand clothing here. We market and retail clothing. … Chinese athletes arrived in London by U.S.-made aircraft, trained on U.S.-designed and -engineered equipment, wear U.S.-designed and -engineered footwear, having perfected their skills using U.S.-created technology.”

    That’s free trade. Trade makes us richer.

    Anyone making that stupid argument during a period of mass unemployment rivaling the Great Depression should endure the same head slap that Stossel once endured from wrestler David Schultz (and yes, I know I’m not supposed to encourage violence, but I’ll tip-toe over the line for this occasion).

    Let’s “set the wayback” for seven years ago, shall we (March 2005 to be exact)..this tells us the following…

    SHANGHAI, March 9 – In the first month after the end of all quotas on textiles and apparel around the world, imports to the United States from China jumped about 75 percent, according to trade figures released by the Chinese government.

    The statistics bear some of the first evidence that China’s booming textile and apparel trade, unhampered by quotas, could be prepared to dominate the global textile trade and add to trade tensions around the world. The quotas came to an end on Dec. 31 as a result of an international agreement reached in 1993.

    In January, the United States imported more than $1.2 billion in textiles and apparel from China, up from about $701 million a year ago. Imports of major apparel products from China jumped 546 percent. Last January, for example, China shipped 941,000 cotton knit shirts, which were limited by quotas; this January, it shipped 18.2 million, a 1,836 percent increase. Imports of cotton knit trousers were up 1,332 percent from a year ago.

    These figures may be understated because China ships a large part of its goods through Hong Kong, and those shipments are not included.

    Fears that China is going to flood the world market with cheap textile exports have already inflamed tensions between Washington and Beijing because of worries about American manufacturing plants being closed and thousands of jobs being lost.

    And sure enough (from here)…

    MOUNT AIRY, N.C. — Jane Knudsen was a 19-year-old mother of two when she went to work in a textile mill here in 1973. Jobs were plentiful: “When you started work, you thought you’d be there until you retired,” she says.

    She didn’t make it. The mill shut down a few years ago. So she took a job with an auto supplier. Then she lost that one. Now 57, she’s a part-time cook at the Surry County jail.

    Here, in the place that inspired Mayberry of The Andy Griffith Show and in textile towns just like it across the Southeast, thousands of workers are starting over again, sometimes painfully, at ages when they thought they’d be planning retirement.

    Mount Airy (pop. 9,500) has lost 3,180 jobs in textile and apparel plant closings since 1999, the North Carolina Employment Security Commission says. The nation has lost 707,000 textile and apparel jobs since January 2000 and nearly 263,000 since a trade pact phased out quotas on textile imports in January 2005, opening the floodgates to imports.

    Those jobs won’t be coming back: The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the three occupations that will lose jobs the fastest (on a percentage basis) from 2008 to 2018 are in textiles. The bureau expects textile and apparel manufacturing jobs will drop 48% to 259,000 from 2008 to 2018.

    What a shame Mrs. Knudsen and other hard-working Americans who had the proverbial rugs pulled out from under them by idiot Washington politicians (cheered on by media stooges like Stossel) can’t land cushy jobs as conservative TV pundits instead.

    Oh, and March 2005 – now who was taking up space in An Oval Office back then? And who is it that the Repugs are doing their best to hide while they make ready for their coronation of Willard Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate in Tampa?


    Heckuva job, Dubya.


  • Tony Auth Nails It Again

    July 10, 2009

    auth_0710
    No pun intended I assure you, but I’ve been “burning up” over this story for a couple of days, and kudos to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s cartoonist for articulating why perfectly.


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