Monday Mashup Part One (5/3/10)

May 3, 2010

  • 1) Are you as under-whelmed by the entry of billionaire speculator Jeff Greene into the Florida Senate race as I am?

    As the Murdoch Street Journal tells us here, Greene made a fortune on credit default swaps against the collapsing Florida housing market; also, somewhat astutely I think, Greene had previously donated to the campaign of real Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek (here).

    Oh, and I got a kick out of the Journal highlighting the fact that Meek is supposedly a “high roller” because he has $3.8 million in campaign funds; gee, wouldn’t it have been “fair and balanced,” as it were, if they pointed out that presumptive Repug nominee Marco Rubio raised very nearly that amount in the first quarter alone (here)?

    Also, the fact that Greene has brought on board DLC Dems Joe Trippi and especially Doug Schoen tells you all you need to know about Greene’s allegiances (didn’t Terry McAuliffe try this in Virginia, ultimately helping to elect Repug Bob McDonnell as governor?).

  • 2) Also, I’m glad some news organization somewhere on this planet is calling out Laura Bush for that claim that she was supposedly poisoned in Germany in 2007 (here)…

    We see absolutely no evidence to support (these allegations) at all,” said Christian Ploeger, a spokesman for the Fundus Group that owns the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm in northern Germany where the Bushes stayed for a G8 summit.

    “The food was checked by security staff,” he said.

    “I suspect that this may be just to try and sell more copies of the book.”

    Word to that, yo (and how disgusting is it for her to make a charge like that when, for example, the enemies of our ol’ buddy Vlad Putin routinely seemed to be ingesting exotic chemicals that ultimately killed them – I mean, when they weren’t falling out of buildings to their deaths, that is?).

    Oh, and speaking of the former first couple, just when you thought that only David Broder was concocting the dreaded “Bush bounce” stories, I give you this.

  • 3) Finally, I’m scratching my head over this bit of Old Gray Lady wankery from John Harwood (here)…

    Bush administration officials had multiple arguments for war with Iraq. But to anchor their public case, Paul D. Wolfowitz, the former deputy secretary of defense, once explained, “We settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction.”

    For similar reasons, Republicans accused Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats of perpetuating bank bailouts through their proposal for shutting down failing Wall Street institutions. Though the plan explicitly aimed to prevent bailouts, Republicans seized on potential loopholes in hopes of capitalizing on public resentment.

    Senator Bob Corker questioned fellow Republicans’ arguments, helping shift debate toward issues like Senator Blanche Lincoln’s derivatives spinoff plan.

    But Mr. Obama called that argument “cynical and deceptive,” and Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, publicly questioned its credibility. Senate Republican leaders could not hold rank-and-file members against beginning floor debate, especially as Democrats signaled willingness to compromise on disputed provisions.

    OK, the last paragraph is pretty much rooted in the real world, so I think that’s OK. However, the line about “Democrats…perpetuating bank bailouts through their proposal for shutting down Wall Street institutions” is factually wrong.

    As noted here…

    STEPHANIE DHUE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Republicans oppose this idea of a bail-out fund, saying it will institutionalize “too big to fail.”

    FRANK: Well, there is no bail-out fund. Your use of the phrase, frankly, ought to make Mitch McConnell happy, because there is no bail-out fund. A bail-out fund suggests that there is money that is going to help an institution.

    DHUE: So we should call it a “dissolution fund”?

    FRANK: Yes, it is — actually, it is a “funeral expenses fund.” And it’s a dissolution fund, which is, in fact, what we do call it.

    A bail-out fund suggests that you take money from the tax-payers and give it to institutions that have screwed up to keep them alive. None of that applies to our fund. In the first place, what it is is money that is raised from financial institutions, not from the tax-payers. Secondly, it can only be spent to help put the institution to death. What we do in this bill, first of all, is to say that unlike the current law, the regulators don’t have to pay — they don’t have to choose between paying all of the debts and none of the debts. They can pay only those debts of an ongoing — of an institution that are necessary to avoid a collapse.

    But there is no bail-out. There is no public money. And more importantly, the institution is dead. Not a penny can be spent until the shareholders lose everything, the CEO is fired, the board of directors is fired, the company is basically dissolved.

    Of course, since Senate Democrats lack the spine of House Democrats, the fund was dropped, as noted here; also, for reasons that utterly escape me, President Obama bought into the wingnut talking point that the fund would be used for bailouts, when, as Barney Frank already pointed out, no such thing would have occurred.

    It should also be noted that the whole “bailout fund” talking point has been echoed everywhere by our corporate media, including former Bushco flak Dana Perino here, who defended the GOP’s actions on financial reform, saying the party was “leading” (as noted here, though, this is one of many topics about which she is not an expert – claims from the prior post include misinformation about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the entire question of whether or not our economy was even in a recession as far as she knew while her boss’s term in office mercifully concluded).

    And just to make sure that Perino’s misinformation is current on financial matters, I give you this also.

    Oh, and one more thing, Harwood – Iraq’s WMD were never found (apparently it is necessary for me to remind you of that).


  • Friday Mashup Part One (3/19/10)

    March 19, 2010

  • 1) Time to get the WHAAAmbulance for “Governor Appalachian Argentinean Trail” based on this…

    Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina agreed Thursday to pay $74,000 to settle charges that his personal travel and campaign spending violated state ethics laws, but he continued to deny wrongdoing.

    In November, the State Ethics Commission charged Mr. Sanford with 37 ethics violations, including spending taxpayer money on business-class flights, using state aircraft for personal travel and spending campaign funds for noncampaign expenses. The charges surfaced in the wake of his confession last summer to an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina.

    Mr. Sanford will pay $2,000 per charge and avoid a hearing. But though he chose not to contest the charges, he insisted he had been held to a stricter and less fair standard than previous governors.

    Really? As noted here…

    How can there be accountability in South Carolina when it seems that there is a direct collusion between the Republican Party, the U.S. Attorney’s office, (the SC State Law Enforcement Divison), and the media to keep these politicians that abuse their elected position in power, and, at worst, mitigate the penalty they get for even the most egregious of crimes they commit?

    The State newspaper would have SC citizen’s believe that the most important thing happening in the state is that taxes on cigarettes should be raised to help alleviate the budget shortfall. In the meantime, you have the Town of Lexington City Council believing they are above the law. You have various police departments in South Carolina abdicating their responsibility, not once, but over and over, in order to protect GOP politician’s (sic).

    The Docudharma post, in addition to Sanford, mentions Repug State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald (a Bushco appointee), and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer. All have benefited to one degree or another from the cozy treatment received by the state’s Republican establishment.

    Given this, Sanford shut just shut up and be grateful that he’s still governor, which is enough of a travesty by itself (and that state’s attorney general is little better based on this).

  • 2) Partly out of a sense of masochism I suppose, I’m prone to check the Fix Noise site for the latest wingnut propaganda, and Dana Perino obliged as follows here…

    One of the most humbling parts of serving as the White House press secretary is getting to meet so many of our brave military men and women. It is hard to explain how they affected me — they are professional, courageous, and enthusiastic, as well as serene and grounded. Their decision to volunteer to serve our country — despite the hardships and dangers — made my decisions seem easy by comparison. One of the great joys of having been the press secretary, however, is to have a chance to help vets I get to meet — like Dave Sharpe.

    Dave Sharpe came home from serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and realized his life would never be the same. Unfortunately, due to what he experienced while fighting for his country, he struggled to re-acclimate back into his post-deployment world. He told me he lived in a state of constant despair and could not see a way back to happiness. His official diagnosis was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition affecting millions of our nation’s veterans.

    A friend of his thought that meeting up with a rescue dog could help Dave feel better. He introduced him to a pit-bull puppy named Cheyenne. Their bond was immediate. One night, Dave says he reached a turning point when he woke up pounding on the wall and saw Cheyenne looking up at him. From there, he started to gain control of the difficult emotions he was feeling and drastically improved his condition. Dave says that he and Cheyenne are proof that there’s an incredible human-animal bond that exists and that it can help people many struggling with PTSD.

    I have to tell you that I’m having a hard time coming up with the words to describe how obscene it is that a charter member of Bushco like Perino can actually pretend to care about our veterans when you consider the following (this post by Jon Soltz of VoteVets from last year tells us of the steps to correct this the Obama Administration took in its first 100 days)…

    (Funding of veterans care was) the shame of the Bush administration. The Department of Veterans Affairs was consistently underfunded…The low-point came when then-Secretary Jim Nicholson had to come groveling to Congress for more than a billion dollars in emergency funding, admitting that the administration had not prepared for the boom in returning veterans in need of care, as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The underfunding had dramatic consequences across the board – from research and treatment into Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the shameful commonplace practice of veterans having to duct tape their prosthetic limbs, because the VA couldn’t get them decent ones.

    The gap between DOD care and VA care was more like a chasm for many veterans in need of care. Brian McGough, who is now legislative director for VoteVets.org, suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. The gap in his care between active and veteran status was so big that he had to apply for unemployment insurance, because of the delay in getting the disability benefits he was due.

    And this post by Bob Geiger tells us of Jonathan Schulze, a Marine who earned two Purple Hearts but grew so despondent from PTSD upon his return to Minnesota that he eventually took his own life (when the VA under Bushco was notified that Schulze was suicidal, Schulze was told that he was 26th in line for care).

    I will acknowledge that the story of Dave Sharpe and his pit bull puppy is just the sort of “aww, isn’t that nice,” feel good bit of fluff to lull Fix Noise’s audience of dutifully compliant lemmings into complacency while the harder issue of why the hell our prior ruling cabal had no clue about how to treat our dead or wounded heroes goes unaddressed.

    Still, I’ll grant that Perino’s story is symbolic if nothing else, because, as far as a member of our military under Bushco was concerned, it truly was a dog’s life.

  • 3) Finally, I give you the following from Repug U.S. House Rep Dana Rohrabacher of California (another Bushco insult to our veterans)…

    Yesterday, the libertarian Cato Institute hosted a panel discussion on conservatism and the war in Afghanistan with Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN). When the conversation shifted to the war in Iraq, Rohrabacher said that “once President Bush decided to go into Iraq, I thought it was a mistake because we hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan,” but that once Bush “decided to go in,” he “felt compelled” to “back him up.” He then added that “the decision to go in, in retrospect, almost all of us think that was a horrible mistake.”

    As Think Progress tells us, McClintock wasn’t in Congress when the Iraq war was authorized, and Duncan opposed the vote, some truly rare courage for a Repug. However, Dana Rohrabacher has no such excuse (and a particularly awful admission on today of all days, the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the war).

    And, as noted here (in a post written by Retired U.S. Army Reserves Colonel Ann Wright)…

    “I HOPE IT’S YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS THAT DIE” said US Representative Dana Rohrabacher to American citizens who questioned the Bush Administration’s unlawful extraordinary rendition policies.

    Congressional hearings provide a deep insight into the inner spirit of our elected representatives-and sometimes, the insight is not pretty.

    On April 17, we witnessed Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) unleash his unbridled anger onto members of the European Parliament’s committee on Human rights who were invited guests and witnesses in the House Foreign Affairs European subcommittee hearing. The European Parliamentary human rights committee had issued a report in January, 2007 sharply critical of the Bush administration’s extraordinary rendition program in which persons from all over the world were detained by either CIA or local police and then flown by CIA jet (torture taxi) to other countries where they were imprisoned (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Djibouti, Morocco, Yemen. The report was equally critical of European governments for allowing the unlawful flights to take place.

    And let’s not forget Rohrabacher’s untidy dealings with the Taliban and a certain founder of al Qaeda, as noted here.

    So basically, Rohrabacher is now admitting to a friendly audience of Cato Institute flunkies that, gee, maybe Iraq was a bad idea after all. This was after he wished death upon the family members of those who opposed the “extraordinary rendition” of Bushco (and yes, I know Clinton practiced rendition also, but nothing like his successor did).

    I’d pay good money to see Bill Maher get in Rohrabacher’s face about this next time the congressman appears on “Real Time.” However, I’m not holding my breath on that.


  • The $25 Billion Question

    December 3, 2008

    From today’s White House evasions with Press Secretary Dana Perino (here)…

    Q Dana, it sounds to me like you’re not ruling out more than $25 billion for the automakers. Is that correct?

    MS. PERINO: I’m saying I’m not ruling anything out. I think that we need to see their plans —

    Q You say you’re not ruling anything out.

    MS. PERINO: I’m not ruling anything in or out. I think that we just need — it’s too early — let us have a chance to look at their plans and let them have their chance to testify, and let’s see what support it can get on Capitol Hill.

    Q Isn’t that a movement from previously? I mean, you were pretty firm on no more than $25 billion previously allocated money, that was it. It sounds like now you’re saying you might go over that.

    MS. PERINO: Well, I don’t recall ever being asked a question if we would actually do more than $25 billion. The debate that we were having over the past few weeks as we laid — put forward our plan was that we thought that the money that had already been appropriated for the auto industry should be used for the auto industry, and all that Congress would need to do was amend the 136 program and allow those funds to be used now rather than just for the specific costs that they were — or the specific issues that they were going to be allowed to use.

    I don’t remember being asked if we would do more than $25 billion, and I didn’t say.

    Q Well, as I remember it, I think you were pretty clear, and I know that (Commerce Secretary Carlos) Gutierrez was clear, that the administration opposes more than $25 billion. Is that still true?

    MS. PERINO: I don’t remember saying that. We can go back and check the record —

    OK, let’s check, then; here are the minutes from Perino’s November 18th press conference:

    Q Just to make sure I’m clear on something. The Democrats want the $25 billion from DOE, plus the $25 billion from TARP financial rescue (for the automakers). The administration’s support stops at the $25 billion that exists from DOE, and nothing more?

    MS. PERINO: At this point, right. But our money is tied to one key point, which is can these companies make the tough decisions necessary to restructure and be viable. And that’s what the taxpayer should be asking.

    Q Right. But there’s nothing beyond $25 billion?

    MS. PERINO: In our proposal, no. But I would be surprised if the car companies were actually asking for anything more than that $25 billion right now. But they’ll have a chance to testify on Capitol Hill this afternoon and you’ll hear more from them.

    Q But would you concede then that ultimately the long-term cost could be far more than the DOE figures that are now being talked about?

    MS. PERINO: It’s hard to say. What we want is for these companies to be able to succeed. We think that we can provide them access to the money that’s been — already been appropriated for the purpose of helping the automakers modernize themselves, that that would be an appropriate thing to do. But we are not in favor of even an additional $25 billion in taxpayer money on top of that.

    Q But are you saying that you would be — you wouldn’t be in favor of the additional $25 billion, even if they could prove future viability?

    MS. PERINO: No, I think we’re going to just draw the line at $25 billion that has already been appropriated through the DOE program.

    (By the way, I italicized the text above because I thought it was a particularly brainless comment by Perino.)

    I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty definite to me; meanwhile, the automakers are working on plans for using the $34 billion they have requested, to be allocated among all three companies, as noted here (Ford, GM and Chrysler – Ford to me sounds like they’re in the best shape, with Alan Mulally telling Congress they may not even need the requested $9 billion at all, while GM tries to sell off profitable lines to make up the difference and Chrysler…well, I don’t think Chrysler has a clue, to be honest with you; way to go, Bob “Let’s Ruin Home Depot Some More While I Get A Nice Parachute” Nardelli).

    And I would ask that you compare that with the $700 billion of TARP funds that, apparently, have been scattered to the wind (or into the coffers of the investor class, based on this – yes, I supported TARP because I think people will eventually act like adults and do their due diligence here; if I end up wrong on that in the end, I’ll owe up to it).


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