Friday Mashup (1/17/14)

January 17, 2014
  • In an otherwise sensible column, Andrew Taylor of the AP inflicts the following here –and of course, since we’re talking about a “villager” like Taylor, the topic MUST be about our supposedly “crushing” debt burden (wrong) and how we’ll have to CUTUCUTCUTCUTCUTCUTCUT so others will have to feel the pain that Taylor won’t have to worry about ever feeling himself on this…

    Excluded are the giant benefit programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps that run on autopilot and are increasingly driving the government deeper into debt.

    Even though the programs that Taylor mentions only account for about 45 percent of federal spending, as noted here.

    And I realize that “run on autopilot” is wingnut code, to say nothing of the fact that it’s wrong anyway since funding legislation still has to be passed by Congress and signed into law by the president; how else can these programs be administered?

    Oh, and as far as supposedly teetering on the edge of a debt apocalypse (or something), I give you Professor Krugman here.

    This type of wankery isn’t unusual for Taylor, who once claimed that President Obama suffered a “slide” in support in 2010 here without providing any, you know, actual data to support that claim.

  • Next (and sticking with financial matters), I give you yet another bad conservative idea on how to supposedly get our federal fiscal house in order (here)…

    After Congress managed in 1986 to largely accomplish the herculean task of tax reform by eliminating the many deductions, exemptions, and credits, those special tax provisions, like desserts, ultimately proved too tempting, betraying erstwhile commitments to diets and good policy alike. The reform was largely undone over time.

    Even the vaunted ‘86 reform left a few things untouched, some habits just proving too difficult to shed. If certainties are limited to death and taxes, a sub-certainty comes in the form of the mortgage interest deduction (MID), which is like the smoking addiction of the tax code.

    We don’t know exactly what will emerge from tax reform discussions, but supposedly everything is on the table (or chopping block, depending on how you see it). Except the MID of course. Defended as a way to encourage homeownership, one would be hard-pressed to come up with a worse way to accomplish this goal.

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh)…

    I’m sick of reading conservatives attack the home mortgage interest deduction. As noted here (quoting a story from Bloomberg News, prior to the 2012 presidential election)…

    Lots of middle class people would be hit hard by that. There is a real political issue here. Give up a mortgage tax deduction (the biggest loophole for the middle class) in order to give trillions of dollars of tax cuts to the rich. It also would make the real estate market much worse because home ownership is subsidized by that deduction.

    I think Romney would lose the suburbs if people understood. Of course, he’ll deny. He wants big tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations and he has a “secret plan” to end the war, I mean to balance the budget.

    Nixon beat George Romney in 1968 primaries, so Mitt became Dick Nixon, just as George Bush II modeled Ronnie Reagan rather than his father. I am tired of Republican “daddy” issues.

    There isn’t a lot that I, as a middle-class homeowner, benefit from when it comes to tax policy and our federal government (except for declining-over-time amounts that we have to pay, which isn’t insignificant I know), but the mortgage interest deduction is definitely one of those benefits (along with deducting state and local taxes; I don’t have a link at the moment, but I’ve seen the idea of getting rid of those deductions floated from conservatives too).

    There’s a reason why Willard Mitt Romney and Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv didn’t touch this with the proverbial ten foot pole. And that’s because they knew that it was a “third rail.”

    However, under the guise of supposedly encouraging “big ideas” or something, I’m sure this will get regurgitated over and over and over, which is why we must be ever vigilant when that happens.

  • Further, it looks like the wingnuts want Rachel Maddow to apologize here for a story saying that a Koch Brothers-affiliated group supported Florida’s totally ridiculous welfare-recipient-drug-testing law; see, the argument is that, because Maddow’s parent employer MSNBC (Microsoft, really) and Comcast, for example, donated to something called the State Policy Network, which counts among its members the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability, then the group is affiliated with Microsoft and Comcast also (hey, if the shoe fits)…

    Well, if this State Policy Network/Florida Foundation for Government Accountability takes money from the Kochs (which doesn’t seem to be in dispute), then what’s the problem with saying that they’re Koch-affiliated?

    Besides, maybe if the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability (which is to say, of course, Charles and David Koch) want to keep a lower profile on this issue (apparently not having the courage of their rotten convictions) then maybe instead of trying to persecute a cable TV personality, they could instead cease and desist from traveling to Georgia, for example, to tell that state how supposedly wonderful Florida’s welfare-recipient-drug-testing law supposedly is (noted here).

  • Continuing, I give you the latest in climate science denialism from Jack Kelly (here)…

    There were more record lows than highs in the United States last year, for the first time since 1993. For the 17th consecutive year, global temperatures were lower than in 1998. Arctic sea ice expanded by about 50 percent, confounding predictions the Arctic would be ice-free by the summer of 2013.

    Oh brother – as noted here in response…

    The Met Office in Britain recently pointed out that there are all sorts of reasons why sea ice extent can bounce around from year to year:

    — temperatures naturally vary from one year to the next ;
    — the amount of cloud can affect the amount of surface melting;
    — summer storms can also break up ice, which can accelerate the melting process;
    — settled conditions can be more conducive to ice forming;
    — winds may act to spread out the ice or push it together.

    Those variables can help explain why sea ice didn’t decline in 2013 as much as it did last year: “In 2012 we saw a record low which was storm which swept through the region in summer, but this year’s weather conditions appear to have been less conducive to ice loss,” noted Ann Keen, a sea ice scientist at the Met Office.

    Since things can vary a fair bit year to year, the Met Office advises looking at longer-term trends. And those are easy to see. There was less Arctic ice, on average, in the 2000s than there was in the 1990s. And there was less ice, on average, in the 1990s than there was in the 1980s.

    Clearly the ice is disappearing. Since 1979, Arctic sea-ice extent has been shrinking by about 4 percent per decade, with summer lows getting about 11 percent smaller each decade. And the volume of Arctic sea ice — which is trickier to measure — also keeps tumbling downward.

    And as long as we’re talking about Kelly, allow me to note that we’re coming up on the ninth anniversary of Kelly’s claim that the Iraq War was “all but won” in February 2005 here (proving among other things, that, like the forces affecting our temperatures, Kelly is an expert at generating hot air and apparently not much else).

  • Finally, this tells us that Repug U.S. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma will end his term early due to his battle with prostate cancer. I wish him well with this health issue, but before anyone gets carried away with too many hosannas to this guy, I think we should remember the following:

    On the positive side, he said that liberals were honest about the deficit, or something, here (true). He also wanted $1 trillion in defense cuts for the next 10 years (here).

    On the negative side, he said that President Obama wanted more people to be dependent on government because Obama supposedly was (here). He also said here that Obama was “perilously close” to impeachment, without providing evidence of course (here). Coburn also blocked a transportation bill affecting the FAA that could have ended up putting about 80,000 people out of work because trees and bike paths supposedly posed a threat to public safety (here).

    Oh, and there’s also the matter of Coburn’s role in the scheme to pay off the mistress of his now-disgraced fellow Repug Senate colleague John Ensign, which Coburn originally denied, though it came to light later (here).

    He also scuttled a budget deal with Dick Durbin because he wanted an additional $130 billion in Medicare cuts (here). Coburn also made sure that $2 billion was removed from funding health care for first responders (here).

    As noted here

    This bastard voted YES for tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. He voted YES to exempt them from the estate tax. He voted YES to give these same rich people additional benefits in the form of capital gains tax cuts. Yet, somehow he had the balls to vote NO on taking care of the 9-11 responders who risked everything to respond to the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil on the grounds that it’s too expensive. How can he possibly rationalize this?

    He also helped to block federal flood insurance here, along with an extension of unemployment benefits here (past is prologue, I guess). And he also told a woman distraught at a town hall over her husband’s brain injury that expecting help from the government was “an inaccurate statement,” or something here (nice guy…and of course, Coburn’s sheep-like minions in attendance applauded – somebody elects these fools, people).

    Tom Coburn made his name as someone who supposedly was a prudent fiscal conservative, but who was in fact a heartless shill on behalf of the “pay no price, bear no burden” one percent of this country, with the accompanying media hagiography provided for him by all-too-willing Beltway corporate media stenographers (as well as Number 44 himself, who didn’t do us any favors on Coburn either).

    He merely reinforced, and did his best to accelerate actually, the already ruinous right-wing political realignment and economic inequality of this country. And I’d be hard-pressed to come up a worse possible epitaph than that.

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    Friday Mashup (5/10/13)

    May 10, 2013
  • I happened to check in to The Gun Report, the blog of New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, and he told us here a couple of days ago that New York State has divested itself of gun-related holdings from its public employee pension plan, following the lead of California. And according to this, Pennsylvania has gun-related holdings in their public employee pension plans which are basically negligible at this point (even though I don’t know what that last sentence in the philly.com piece actually means).

    And as long as I’m on the subject of our beloved commonwealth, this from a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article tells us that our illustrious governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett is proposing a “fix” to the public employee pension plans (actually, he has proposed this for a little while now, but details, or what pass for them, seem to be trickling out at last – a bill number has apparently been assigned in the legislature, and Corbett wants it approved by July 1st).

    As noted here, though…

    Sen. John Blake, D-Archbald, ranking Democrat on the finance panel, said the governor’s plan will add to pension debt instead of reducing it.

    “Moving new employees to a 401(a) will undermine the investment performance of our existing pension systems…,” Blake said. “Further, 401(a) retirement plans are proven to provide lower financial returns and by, disaggregating investment, expose workers with different levels of financial literacy to the vagaries of the markets while sending millions in fees to the financial service industry – money that should instead be invested and managed by experts to guarantee retirement security for our workers.”

    Switching to a defined contribution plan for future hires will leave a less secure retirement for new employees, said state Treasurer Rob McCord, a potential Democratic candidate for governor next year.

    “So far, the 401(k) plans have failed in that regard,” McCord said.

    And of course, it’s not as if Corbett is willing to cut back on his stinking tax cuts for his “pay no price, bear no burden” pals to cover the difference, as noted here.

  • Next, in more “News for the Investor Class,” I give you the following (here)…

    We have our Twinkies back! And our Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Wonder Bread. As The Daily Caller reported on April 24, key assets of bankrupt Hostess Brands have been sold to private equity firms and plans are underway to open new plants. Presumably, the new owners will operate non-union.

    If they don’t blow it.

    To refresh your memory, last fall Hostess Brands, the maker of iconic products such as the aforementioned Twinkies, suspended all operations and began liquidating assets in response to a nationwide strike by the bakery workers’ union. The union was striking over requested concessions the company needed to stay in business. Over the following weeks and months, Hostess let go most of its 18,500 workers as it shut down operations and started trying to sell its valuable brands. The asset sale yielded fruit, and the new Hostess has announced it will open three plants in the near future and start hiring workers.

    Yeah, well, that’s the wingnut spin on this story. Here is the reality point of view (from last November – this is alluded to in the Daily Tucker piece, but of course it isn’t properly documented)…

    Even as it blamed unions for the bankruptcy and the 18,500 job losses that will ensue, Hostess already gave its executives pay raises earlier this year. The salary of the company’s chief executive tripled from $750,000 to roughly $2.5 million, and at least nine other executives received pay raises ranging from $90,000 to $400,000. Those raises came just months after Hostess originally filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

    It is indeed good news that the jobs related to manufacturing items under the Hostess brand are being saved. And based on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story noted in the Daily Tucker post…

    Hostess Brands, which is hiring for several bakeries, including one in Columbus, emphasized Monday that it will not discriminate against applicants on the basis of union membership or activities.

    The strident effort to clear the air on its hiring plans followed comments last week by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dean Metropoulos, who suggested the company would be staffing plants with non-union labor.

    Under the headline “New Twinkie Maker Shuns Union,” Metropoulos reportedly told The Wall Street Journal that the company does “not expect to be involved in the union going forward.”

    In a statement Monday, Hostess Brands said it “intends to hire the most qualified applicants, regardless of their age, race, gender, or prior or current union affiliation.” It added that “none of the company representatives stated or intended to imply that Hostess will be avoiding union-represented employees or job applicants.”

    Of course, I could really be a pointy-headed liberal here and wonder what it says about our glorious system of private enterprise that the manufacture of junk food is a growth industry. But I won’t.

  • Further, I give you this item from “Tiger Beat on the Potomac,” as Charles Pierce quite rightly calls Politico…

    Conservative radio talk show host Craig Bergman is sick of Republicans failing to appeal to environmentalists, and he’s making a documentary to try to bridge the gap.

    He’s behind a new Kickstarter campaign for “Unsustainable,” the documentary underway that Bergman hopes will provide common sense solutions for environmental concerns.

    “We are conservatives but we believe there is a vast swath of common ground,” Bergman told POLITICO. “This is not a right wing, radical, beat ‘em up, red meat movie.”

    He added, “We’re not trying to get into the, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong,’ debate. That’s the whole problem. We’re trying to get into what used to be old fashioned politics, which was two people who would sit down, both wanting the same result, to protect the environment and then deciding how best, under our constitutional framework of liberties and individual rights, do we get there? We haven’t had that on this issue in 30 years.”

    He cited examples of what he considers to be both left and right wing extremism on environmental issues, such as a man in Colorado who was threatened with federal prison for collecting rainwater on his property.

    And he singles out his conservative brethren for making light of environmental issues, including “some of the ridiculous things you hear from some of my compatriots on talk radio, where they say things like, ‘Well, everyone, today is Earth Day so be sure you roll down your windows while your air conditioning is on, hee, hee, hee.’ That does nothing to help the dialogue.”

    “We’ve got hundreds of examples of abuses on the right and abuses on the left.”

    “Hundreds” on “the left,” huh?

    “We are going to take the position that exposes the bad science,” he said. So do you believe in climate change, then?

    “I don’t know that there is a conclusion. That’s part of the problem. It needs to be a dialogue. It does not need to be an absolute definitive, because nobody knows.”

    For the uninitiated, I should note that this is the very definition of “concern trolling” (wonder if this Craig Bergman guy is associated with “No Labels” in any way?).

    Aside from linking to statistical study after statistical study pointing out the obvious (as noted here), I could also mention that the biggest obstacle towards a common sense policy on CO2 emissions and reusable energy are the Teahadists, funded by the Koch Brothers who want us to choke on our fossil fuels while the planet continues to melt (and many of those life forms constitute Bergman’s audience).

    Ordinarily, I would be happy to read about someone trying to achieve some kind of a mutual understanding on an issue. But as far as I’m concerned, the science on this issue has been settled for about 30 years (so, contrary to Bergman’s claim, I would say that EVERYBODY knows, as noted here.)

  • Moving on, Karl Rove concocted the following at the Murdoch Street Journal here

    Thinking strategically about Iran also might have led Mr. Obama to act earlier for regime change in Syria. After two years of fighting, the war is spilling into Lebanon, Iraq and Israel. A million Syrian refugees are flooding into Jordan.

    Of course, the war of choice in Iraq waged by Rove’s old boss created at least two million refugees, as noted here (actually, four million if you count those inside the country). But who’s counting, right?

    “Turd Blossom” also tells us the following…

    (Obama) would also not have sabotaged chances for a U.S. military presence in Iraq by insisting on parliamentary approval of a status-of-forces agreement. A U.S. presence in Iraq would have reduced Iranian influence in Baghdad and diminished the likelihood of sectarian conflict in Iraq.

    Does Rove mean the SOFA approved by the Iraqi parliament before Former President Nutball left office in 11/08 (here)? Any by the way, the terms of the agreement mandated that all US troops would leave.

    Rove also criticized Obama for his moves related to missile defense in Poland and Czechoslovakia, with the goal of getting NATO more involved, a group the Repugs hate, of course…basically, Obama wants NATO to get more involved on the issue of defense against potential short-to-medium-range rockets from Iran, as noted here (part of that whole Kenyan Muslim Marxist notion of making other countries more responsible for their own sovereignty as oppose to us being the “policeman” everywhere, I guess).

    And if Obama is supposed to be so “aloof,” then why did “Bibi” Netanyahu express his “appreciation” for Obama helping Israel defend itself from Palestinian rockets, as noted here? And is Rove seriously going to argue that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History was “close to” German Chancellor Angela Merkel…

    5127738-bush-merkel
    …when the memory of this utter idiocy is still fresh in our minds?

    Rove also alleges that Obama “undercut the new Libyan president, Mohammed Magarief”; I’m only mentioning this nonsense because I have a question.

    How many people out there know that that country has arrested 50 people in connection with the death of Ambassador Stevens and three others, as noted here (“BENGHAZI!!!”)? Show of hands?

  • Continuing (and overlapping on Rove a bit), it looks like David Horowitz has somehow emerged from some foul nether regions somewhere to foist this upon us…

    Obama’s desire for rapprochement with the Islamist regime in Iran has prompted the administration to drag its feet on the sanctions designed to halt Tehran’s nuclear program. For the same reason, the president and his administration were silent when hundreds of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran to call for an end to the dictatorship and were met by an orgy of violence from the mullahs’ thugs.

    Obama was “silent,” huh? Really?

    Continuing…

    The administration’s denial was glaring also in its response to the massacre of 13 unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood by an Islamic fanatic and terrorist, Nidal Malik Hasan, who three and a half years later still has not been brought to trial.

    Unbelievable – through one of the easiest Google searches in my life, I learned from here that the trial of Hasan will begin later this month, on the 29th.

    And as far as I’m concerned, it’s particularly grotesque for Horowitz to bring up the Ft. Hood shootings, which he infamously once said were “the chickens of the left coming home to roost” here (I guess this is the crap you come up with when you are no longer being bankrolled to travel to colleges all over the country to scream about alleged “liberal bias”).

    Continuing, Horowitz rants as follows…

    Obama had previously intervened in Egypt, the largest and most important country in the Middle East, to force the removal of its pro-American leader, Hosni Mubarak. He then promoted the (Muslim) Brotherhood’s ascension to power by portraying it as a “moderate” actor in the democratic process. As the Middle East situation deteriorated, the Muslim Brotherhood became the chief beneficiary of America’s financial, diplomatic, and military support. This same Brotherhood was the driving force behind the Islamist surge, the mentor of Osama bin Laden and the leaders of al-Qaeda, and the creator of Hamas. Rather than being quarantined, the Brotherhood-dominated government in Cairo has received hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid and F-16 bomber jets from the Obama administration that had facilitated its rise to power.

    Oh brother – in response, this tells us the following…

    (In Egypt) The Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda hate each other. The former view the latter as terrorists, and the latter view the former as traitors to the cause. Critics of the Muslim Brotherhood often cite a common ideological ancestor of both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda, Sayyid Qutb, to draw connections between them. But this obscures the depth of the ideological and religious gulf between the two. The willingness of the Brotherhood to pursue its goals through legitimate democratic means, without violence, is precisely the point — and precisely why the Egyptian uprising threatens more extreme groups even if it empowers the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Here’s more from Horowitz…

    In Libya, al-Qaeda terrorists overran an American consular compound and murdered the U.S. ambassador and three brave staffers. The attack took place in a country that had recently been destabilized by Obama’s own intervention to oust its dictator.

    I guess it was inevitable that Horowitz would invoke BENGHAZI!!, but as far as presidents destabilizing countries goes, let’s not forget that, as noted here, U.S. diplomat David Foy was murdered in Pakistan the same day that Number 43 agreed to send nukes to India, as noted here (and I don’t recall hearing a peep of protest at the time from Huckleberry Graham, Gramps McCain, or any other supposed foreign policy Repug Senatorial genius – hat tip to Bob Cesca for that info on Pakistan, as noted here…and by the way, on the whole BENGHAZI!!! thing, isn’t this interesting?).

    I could go on, but you get the idea (and to demonstrate what a supposedly enlightened character Horowitz is, not, here are some of his reactions to people who disagree with him).

  • Also, I give you the latest foul activities of that insect Jesse Watters, promoted as you might expect by Fix Noise here

    (Watters is) headed to Columbia University to get the community’s reaction to the decision to hire Kathy Boudin, a convicted cop killer, and confronts the controversial professor about her actions.

    As noted here, however…

    As a member of various radical militant groups during the 1960s and 1970s, Boudin advocated extreme measures to combat what she saw as racism, sexism, and American imperialism. And then, in 1981, she participated in the armed robbery of a Brinks security truck–and although she carried no weapon nor directly caused any injuries, she was, in her own words, “morally responsible for all the tragic consequences that resulted.” Nobody pretends to justify Boudin’s actions–they were repugnant.

    However, in the years that followed, Boudin tried to make amends. At Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, where she was incarcerated, Boudin founded AIDS Counseling and Education, a women’s group that provided support for HIV-infected women, combated stigmatism and harassment in the prison, and made sure that women had access to needed medication. She organized programs for teenagers with incarcerated mothers, taught classes on parenting, and helped Columbia Law School teach inmates about the rights and responsibilities of incarcerated parents. She published scholarship about her work in–among other places–the Harvard Educational Review.

    Yes, what Boudin once did was wrong. But even though Boudin’s conduct and actions with the Weather Underground were awful and remain so, she didn’t engage in violent activity or shoot the Brinks officer whose father wrote the commentary on Fix Noise (I would have a problem with someone interfering with commerce if they were engaged in the destructive activity Boudin was engaged in or blocking a Planned Parenthood clinic, as Watters was involved in here and here).

    And by the way, as long as we’re talking about Planned Parenthood here, I want to say that I think we’re looking at the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell exactly the wrong way – yes, the evidence is horrific, and the full weight of the law should be brought down if he’s found guilty (here).

    However, in consideration of this item, maybe with proper teen and pre-teen sex-ed and related funding, do you think just one of those tiny lives would have been spared or prevented from conception if, just maybe, Planned Parenthood had been demonized just a little bit less? And if that had been the case, with more P.P. funding, would there have even been a need for Gosnell’s clinic at all?

  • 050813_sergei-bobrovsky_600

  • Finally, turning to the world of sports, congratulations to former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (pictured), now with the Columbus Blue Jackets, for earning a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, the NHL’s highest award to goalies (here). Other nominees are Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks (Niemi, by the way, was once available as a free agent after the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, and the Flyers could have signed him, but instead chose to give $3 million to Jody Shelley, who will probably never be anything more than a goon).

    Here are the other former Flyers currently still active in the NHL 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs:

    Arron Asham (New York Rangers)
    Daniel Carcillo (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Darroll Powe (New York Rangers)
    Dennis Seidenberg (Boston Bruins)
    Harry Zolnierczyk (Anaheim Ducks)
    James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs)
    Jaromir Jagr (Boston Bruins)
    Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings)
    Joffrey Lupul (Toronto Maple Leafs)
    Justin Williams (Los Angeles Kings)
    Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis Blues)
    Luca Sbisa (Anaheim Ducks)
    Mark Eaton (Pittsburgh Penguins)
    Martin Biron (New York Rangers)
    Michal Handzus (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Mike Richards (Los Angeles Kings)
    Patrick Sharp (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Ray Emery (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Steve Eminger (New York Rangers)

    Good luck to one and all.


  • Tuesday Mashup (2/12/13)

    February 12, 2013
  • It looks like VA Repug governor Bob McDonnell was in these parts recently telling the party faithful that the “pity party” is over (here).

    So what does he propose as a “solution” to his party’s recent electoral woes?

    It’s time for Republicans to stop coming across as sour-faced free-market scolds, he said. Conservative principles are not the problem, he said; history has shown small government and free markets to be the world’s best engines for human freedom. The problem? Tone. It’s time for Republicans to be “happy warriors,” he said.

    Yeah, it’s the tone, that’s all.

    Maybe McDonnell should sing and dance while trying to cheat Virginia public employees out of “Obamacare” coverage (here). Either that, or he could sponsor a karaoke night to publicize legislation that, in essence, makes discrimination by university student groups in his state legal (here).

    Or how about a happy hour announcing plans to pay for road construction in VA by taxing the poor (here)? Or an all-night bowling marathon to announce restrictive new anti-abortion regulations that McDonnell certified, as noted here?

    McDonnell and his pals think that all they need to do is dump more perfume on the proverbial pig, and that will be good enough to start reversing his party’s sorry electoral trend. Fine – he should go with that (and as usual on this matter and many others also, I trust the sage words of Professor Krugman, as noted here).

  • Next, I give you the following (here)…

    Subsidies for wind power could lead to the shutdown of nuclear power plants, warned Exelon Corp. CEO Christopher Crane.

    “What worries me is if we continue to build an excessive amount of wind and subsidize wind, the unintended consequence could be that it leads to shutting down plants,” Crane told the Chicago Tribune, adding that states which have subsidized wind power might see jobs disappear if nuclear plants shut down.

    A report by the NorthBridge group found that this “negative pricing” of electricity from wind subsidies means less investment will go into conventional power generation which imperils the reliability of the electrical system.

    This is about what we can expect from Crane; as noted here, the nuke industry has been doing all it can to fight the so-called “production tax credit” that funds wind energy development, stupidly pitting one source of energy development against another (the Think Progress post also tells us that the “study” by the NorthBridge Group, an economic and strategic consulting firm upon which Crane’s alarmism is based, has been described as “deeply flawed” by TP Guest Blogger Richard W. Caperton for the reasons he cites).

    Also, this tells us the following about the phenomenon of “negative pricing”…

    Michael Goggin, (the American Wind Energy Association’s) manager of transmission policy, said negative prices in the wholesale electricity market are rare and occur because there is not sufficient transmission. But the problem, he said, is isolated to certain regions and will be alleviated in the coming months and years as new power lines are built to connect customers to pockets of wind power in Texas and Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

    Goggin also said wind energy is inexpensive, regardless of the tax incentives, because wind power has no fuel cost and has extremely low variable costs for operation and maintenance. The PTC, he said, has very little effect on real-time electricity prices. Electricity prices have also been going “negative” for decades because nuclear reactors exceed power demand at night, he said.

    “Claims that the wind energy production tax credit is causing negative prices are misguided, as negative prices are extremely rare and would occur anyway even if the [production tax credit] did not exist,” Goggin wrote in a blog post this week.

    And as you might expect, TP tells us that Congressional Repugs Lamar Alexander and Mike Pompeo are working with Crane and Exelon in their efforts to “break wind” (sorry…too easy).

  • Continuing, I give you another Ron Fournier special from The National Journal (here)…

    White House officials tell me they feel stung by coverage of the inaugural address. Reporters highlighted the president’s left-leaning stances on immigration, gun control, climate change and gay and women’s rights. Obama’s aides argue that he devoted more inaugural address language to the economy, jobs and the deficit than all other issues combined.

    Still, the perception remains that Obama lost focus on the economy — the top issue in the minds of most voters.

    I cannot possibly imagine that I will ever teach a course in journalism, but if I did and I received something like this from a student, I would fail that person (I know it’s been a little while since we visited with Fournier, but he was notorious for stuff like this when he was employed by the AP).

    For you see, Obama’s “left-leaning” stance on immigration is actually quite popular (here), as is his stance on gun control (here). And while he could’ve done more on the climate, consider his Repug opposition in Congress as well as some coal-state Democrats, including Bob Casey, as noted here (and how can his stance be “left-leaning” when he really hasn’t been able to do much about it?). Also, Obama enjoys majority support on the issue of marriage equality (here), and the LGBT community definitely came out, as they say, for him in ’08 here (and as far as I’m concerned, Fourier’s reference to “women’s rights” is just corporate media shorthand for the Repugs’ war on those dreaded lady parts, and to see whether or not that was successful, look at the results of the last election).

    This is part and parcel of how Fournier operates, though; as noted here, he told Karl Rove to “keep up the fight” and continue to ignore subpoenas from Congress; in that same post, I also pointed out that Fournier used the occasion of Dubya commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence to attack the Clintons (???) and also said that a “Democratic interest group” aired a TV ad comparing Dubya to Hitler, which was and remains false. He also claimed here that Obama needed Biden to shore up his “weakness” on foreign policy, a “weakness” shared by almost every single other Presidential candidate who has ever run for the job in the last 20 or so years, with the possible exceptions of Poppy Bush, John Kerry, and “Straight Talk” McCain back when he was an actual maverick.

    Unsubstantiated dreck like this exists for one reason only, and that is to propagate the utterly false narrative that Number 44 is really some sort of a closet liberal who (and you just watch!) is going to totally turn over a new leaf one day and resurrect his ACORN army to take everyone’s guns and start dropping money from helicopters for “the poors” and “the blahs” (and this will happen right about at the time when austerity actually creates full employment).

  • Finally, I would like to recall some items to commemorate the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, as noted here (to begin, I didn’t know he could actually do that – I thought part of the job description is that those guys had to “die with their boots on”…shows what I know).
  • Here, he gave a speech about the prophet Muhammad and Islam in which he referred to “jihad” and “holy war” (oops – the apology came soon thereafter).
  • He defended “intelligent design” here and expressed the hope that he would have a “short papacy” (looks like he’ll get his wish).
  • He said that condoms promoted African AIDS, or words to that effect, here (yes, I know Church teaching on that subject, but particularly in that area of the world, condoms save lives).
  • There was a time when he was putting his foot in his mouth on a regular basis (a compilation is here), though he definitely tightened up his message discipline, as they say.
  • He, at best, tolerated “liberation theology” when he should have embraced it (here).
  • Announced “The Ten Commandments For Drivers” here (“Thou shalt not txt OMG!! while changing lanes eastbound on the PA Turnpike weeknights at 6 PM.”)
  • To be fair, I should note that he spoke out strongly in defense of the environment here (Think Progress notes this and other positive and negative moments with Benedict here).
  • There were times when I wanted to smack my open palm against my forehead while Benedict was pope. And make no mistake that the Catholic Church has taken an ever-harder right turn under his watch. But as a Roman Catholic, it would be fundamentally wrong for me not to acknowledge that, until he steps down, he remains the Vicar of Christ, and as such, I’ll pray for his good health.

    Update: John Patrick Shanley has the guts to actually say what I only thought about here.


  • Thursday Mashup (12/10/09)

    December 10, 2009

  • 1) The Philadelphia Inquirer Op-Ed board wrote the following today (from here)…

    One would think political leaders would have learned some lessons in the wake of the scandal surrounding the firings of U.S. attorneys in the George W. Bush administration.

    But apparently Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) and some of his colleagues didn’t get the memo about restoring confidence in the Justice Department.

    Turns out Baucus, 67, nominated his girlfriend to be the U.S. attorney in Montana. Melodee Hanes, 53, a top aide to the senator, was one of three names Baucus submitted for the plum post earlier this year.
    Hanes later withdrew her name from the list, and President Obama nominated one of Baucus’ other choices to be the top federal prosecutor in Montana.

    I’ll grant you that this doesn’t quite pass the “smell test,” nor does Baucus’ explanation that he submitted Hanes’ name as a Montana federal prosecutor in February, but reconsidered when their relationship “intensified” in March, with Hanes ultimately settling in the Justice Department (and the press played no role in this whatsoever – uh huh).

    But, true to fashion, the Inquirer tried to hammer the proverbial square peg into the round hole here by invoking the U.S. Attorneys’ scandal under the previous administration (and how cute is the Inky here only noting cases of Democratic patronage, because, as we know, IOKIYAR).

    As nearly as I can tell from the individuals the Inky lists here who benefited from their connections, here’s the difference: these people are all competent professionals (including Brendan Johnson, son of Dem Senator Tim of South Dakota, as noted here). The problem in the attorneys’ scandal wasn’t that the fired attorneys weren’t competent – they were, including David Iglesias – but that, as Max Blumenthal of HuffPo notes here, they were replaced (or, at least, that was the plan, perhaps not completely realized) by Bushco bottom-feeders (graduates of Pat Robertson’s phony-baloney law school, including Monica Goodling at the DOJ who was in charge of staffing) who would have no problem bringing political-only cases to try and discredit Democrats.

    When the DOJ under Eric Holder decides to engage in these tactics, let me know. Otherwise, Inky, save your self-righteous indignation for Adam Lambert, Tiger Woods, or this city’s thug/murderer/crooked politician of the week, OK?

  • 2) Not to be outdone, though (and fresh from its dunderheaded decision to allow Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin column space on its Op-Ed page to do her full-mooner global denialist bit – or, as Jon Stewart has said, “Poor Al Gore, undone by the very Internet he invented…oh, the iron-nee!”), Kaplan Test Prep Daily (otherwise known as the WaPo) allowed Kristol Mess to opine on President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech today.

    And in a startling development for anyone who actually isn’t an ideological quisling and neocon enabler, Kristol believes that what Obama said mirrored a speech by Number 43 in 2002.

    Before I say anything, though, I’ll merely present the same excerpts and let you decide.

    “proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale….

    “We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

    “But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation,…I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.

    “So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace….

    “But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.”

    — President Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize speech, Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009

    Now, here’s former Commander Codpiece…

    “Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction….

    “North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.

    “Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom….

    “States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

    “We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction….

    “We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

    — George W. Bush, State of the Union speech, Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 2002

    Now I don’t know about you, but I checked out on what Kristol said as soon as Dubya mentioned WMD.

    Out of curiosity, though, I decided to do a search on some keywords between the two speeches, and I think this actually shows even more how dissimilar they are (and if a keyword appears under one list but not another, such as “protect,” it’s because I could find it in only one of the speeches…didn’t see the point in listing a 0)…

    Obama:

    Law (or some variation) – 1
    Protect -1
    Defend – 1
    War – 2
    Danger – 1
    Threat (or some variation) – 1
    Rage – 1
    Peace – 2
    Al Qaeda – 1

    Bush:

    Terror (or some variation) – 6
    Weapon (or some variation) – 6
    Danger – 3
    Destruction (or some variation) – 4
    Hate (or some variation) – 1
    Starve (or some variation) – 1
    Freedom – 1
    Threat (or some variation) – 3
    Al Qaeda – 0
    Peace – 1

    Yep, as far as Kristol’s wankery is concerned, this is indeed a case of “plus ça change.”

  • Update: I realized later that I made an exception to the “0” thing with the al Qaeda reference, but that’s the only one.

  • 3) Also, former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm is back to tell us the following (here, speaking of Palin – trying to mention her a time or two before I try honoring my New Years’ Resolution to ignore her)…

    Almost nearly not quite one-in-five Americans believes (sic) that President Obama has accomplished enough to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize that he had to go to Norway in December to collect.

    At this point, my attitude is “yeah, whatever”; I mean, it’s not as if Obama hasn’t already pointed out that he’s not sure he deserves it either (actually, I think Obama has more of a problem with this, which I thought was uncharacteristically bad form).

    But once more, Malcolm uses this as an opportunity to try and get a good word in for “Sister Sarah”…

    Meanwhile, the favorability rating of Republican Sarah Palin, an unemployed itinerant author, have climbed back up to 46% from a summertime low of 39%.

    I’ll just ignore for now the fact that Palin has absolutely nothing to do with Obama and point out, yet again, that Malcolm is wrong based on this (and “honorary peace prizes” available to all who just ignore him for the wanker he is – just because I take it upon myself to call out this hopeless partisan doesn’t mean anyone else is obligated to also).

  • 4) And finally, over at The Hill, Repug U.S. House Rep Frank Lucas inflicted the following nonsense here…

    We like to say that we have the safest, most abundant, most affordable food and fiber supply in the world. But this isn’t just a boastful expression, it is a reality. Our farmers and ranchers are responsible for feeding folks living in our country and throughout the world.

    But, cap and tax legislation threatens that safe, abundant and affordable food and fiber supply. The agriculture industry, as we know it, will not survive under the heavy burdens of a cap and tax policy.

    Actually, as you read Lucas’ screed, you find that he incorrectly used the proper phrase “cap and trade” three times instead of the Frank Luntz-approved “cap and tax.” Lucas had better be careful, or else he’ll get sent back to “the factory” for reprogramming.

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

    Lucas’ concern is short term, about decreasing profit for farmers due to increases in the cost of farming and ranching, assuming that farming technology will not respond to the incentive for increased efficiency by becoming more efficient. But he ignores the larger picture. What happens if global warming is allowed to proceed as greenhouse gases skyrocket? What happens to Oklahoma? According to Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science the future will look like this:

    With severe drought from California to Oklahoma, a broad swath of the south-west is basically robbed of having a sustainable lifestyle.

    And Lucas is acting in a particularly brainless fashion when you consider that his state was a big part of the “Dust Bowl” in the 1930s, a phenomenon which, as noted here…

    … was caused by severe drought coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation, fallow fields, cover crops and other techniques to prevent erosion.

    And as noted here…

    Opponents complain that the bill would be too costly, raising the prices of energy, fuel and consumer goods. That’s based on the mindless notion that doing nothing to fight climate change would have zero economic cost. Yet if the globe warms as much as climatologists predict, the cost of adapting would dwarf the cost of prevention. A report released last week by the U.S. Global Change Research Program found that, without efforts to stem the problem, average temperatures in the U.S. could rise by 7 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. The result: large-scale flooding and destruction along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, ruined crops in the Midwest, rampant fires in California, worsening incidence of insect-borne and plant diseases, skyrocketing heat deaths and a host of other woes.

    For what it’s worth, I should note that I started blogging around the middle of 2005, and I would guess that I’ve probably posted about a couple of dozen times at least about global warming, including this one. And at this point, despite the many, many, many, many, many times I’ve presented scientific evidence to support what I say, the climate change deniers have, if anything, gathered steam in response to the vast majority of people who understand the scientific basis in fact behind the claim that something should have been done about this years ago and must certainly be done about it now.

    And at this point, I don’t feel like being tolerant towards the deniers any more.

    Anyone who argues that global warming isn’t occurring is a stone-cold moron. You’d have better luck trying to convince me that gravity doesn’t exist and the earth doesn’t revolve around the sun.

    And who cares how much of it is man made (quite a bit, I believe) or not? Why does that somehow reduce the urgency as to whether or not we should act in response?


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