Tuesday Mashup (6/24/14)

June 24, 2014

semi-automatic

  • John Lott is back, opining on his favorite topic (here)…

    (President) Obama also claimed: “The idea, for example, that we couldn’t even get a background check bill in to make sure that if you are going to buy a weapon you have to go through a fairly rigorous process so that we know who you are so that you can’t just walk up to a store and buy a semi-automatic weapon makes no sense.”

    Obama ought to try purchasing a gun himself. He will realize it is not as easy as he thinks to buy a gun. No store in the entire United States can legally sell a semi-automatic gun without conducting a background check. Indeed, That (sic) has been the federal law for two decades now, since 1994.

    Interesting (though not surprising) that Lott has nothing to say about background checks at gun shows – probably because there basically is no such thing for most of the states in this country (take a look at all of the red on the map shown here).

    Also, as noted from here

    …when you compare the United States to nations like Britain and Japan, it becomes clear that firearm ownership contributes to America’s murder problem. The American firearm homicide rate is about 20 times the average among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries (excluding Mexico).

    Harvard researchers Daniel Hemenway and Matthew Miller examined 26 developed countries, and checked whether gun ownership correlated with murder rates. They found that “a highly significant positive correlation between total homicide rates and both proxies for gun availability.” They also didn’t find much evidence that a higher rate of gun murders led to lower rates of other kinds of murder (i.e., stabbings).

    Interestingly, these results tended to hold true even when you exclude the United States and its super-high homicide and gun-ownership rates. “More guns are associated with more homicides across industrialized countries,” Hemenway and Miller conclude.

    Data from inside the United States suggests the same thing. A recent, highly sophisticated study found that, once you control for general crime rates and other confounding factors, “each 1 percentage point increase in proportion of household gun ownership” translated to a 0.9 percent increase in homicides. A meta-analysis — study of studies — found a strong consensus among researchers that access to guns correlated with higher homicide rates in the United States.

    In another screed at Fix Noise (here), Lott complains about that danged “li-bu-ruul media” once again for not reporting that, according to Lott, the trend in this country is that school shootings are going down.

    In response, here is a list from 2012 of school shootings in 36 other countries versus the U.S. – can’t imagine how even a life form as delusional as Lott could think that we have anything to brag about on that front.

    Most recently, Lott launched a cowardly attack against the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America here.

  • Next, I posted a little while ago about the dustup between former Philly Pops artistic director Peter Nero (synonymous with Philly Pops for 33 years, as noted here) and Philly Pops president and chief executive Frank Giordano (who dumped Nero because he supposedly cost too much, even though Giordano ended up with a salary bump to $91K in the bargain as noted here – second bullet).

    Well, it turns out that Nero let a little verbal faux pas slip out recently here, saying that “crooks dressed in $3,000 suits came in who didn’t know a thing about the music business” led to Nero’s departure.

    Please note that Nero did not make personal reference to Giordano above, even though Nero later apologized for his remarks.

    However, Giordano is suing Nero anyway for hurt fee fees, to the tune of $75,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.

    Really?

    Giordano is yet another CEO type who managed to finagle his way to a position of influence over an artistic and cultural institution and pick whatever bones remained before it finally dies or very nearly succumbs (see Bill Marrazzo and WHYY, whichever millionaire owns it now and the Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News, etc.). And in this case, yelling “lawsuit” is the act of a desperate, despicable person who, while he seems to know the price of everything, truly knows the value of nothing, as the saying goes.

  • Further, I give you Larry Kudlow, who I admit has been busy lately (here)…

    “Reinvigorating the leadership” is how one senior House staffer described the ascendency of Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican who won a first-ballot victory for the position of GOP whip. The staffer went on to portray Scalise as not a member of the Washington establishment. Indeed, Scalise is a former chair of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the conservative caucus in the U.S. House. He has had a meteoric rise, and he is someone to be reckoned with.

    ..

    …make no mistake about it, Steve Scalise is a genuine conservative. He was one of only 15 Republican House members to get a 100 percent voting designation by the American Conservative Union.

    National Review contributor Quin Hillyer put it this way: “Scalise will be the most conservative GOP leadership member since Dick Armey.”

    I’m sure Kudlow is right in those latter two sentences, by the way, which definitely isn’t positive as far as I’m concerned (I should note that the former whip was Kevin McCarthy, who will become majority leader upon Eric Cantor’s primary election loss).

    In response, it should be noted that Scalise is buds with Darth Cheney (here), wants to fully “repeal and replace” “Obamacare” (here…no surprise either I realize), and thinks climate change is a hoax (of course – here). Also (and which is also predictable, I’m sure), Scalise has a bit of a “Koch” problem (here).

    Yep, Not Your Father’s Republican Party continues to march Forward Into The Past (will the last GOP “moderate” to leave please turn out the lights?).

  • Continuing with unhinged U.S. House Republicans, I give you the following from Ed Whitfield (here)…

    In 2009, President Obama traveled to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and announced at the Climate Change Conference that the United States would reduce our CO2 emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.

    The president did not consult with the Congress or any other job creating groups, but committed the citizens of America to his arbitrary goals. Acting unilaterally, by regulation and executive orders, has become commonplace with this administration.

    Well, didn’t Dubya act “unilaterally” too here (and correctly, shocking as that sounds), when he “order(ed) EPA to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs) from mobile sources, working in coordination with several other federal agencies” after The Supremes ruled that GHGs were indeed a pollutant and subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act (and yes, I’m sure I’ve pointed this out before)?

    And as noted from here, on the positive economic impact of pursuing a common-sense energy agenda de-emphasizing fossil fuels…

    • Climate mitigation investments will have huge economic returns on that investment ranging from energy efficiency reducing total energy bills to new economic activity surrounding the new technologies and businesses seeking to reduce our climate impact.
    • Climate mitigation investments will have huge corollary benefits — such as improved human health (from reduced allergy risks to reduced emergency room visits with asthma attacks to reduced deaths due to fossil fuel pollution), improved visibility at national parks
    • Climate mitigation will reduce the huge risks associated with climate change and will provide an insurance against the potential that climate change implications could be far worse than standard projections suggest (e.g., the risk that the modeling is erring on the too optimistic side).
    Climate mitigation is an investment that will provide huge returns — across a spectrum of economic, social, and environmental fronts.

    It should also be noted that Whitfield and U.S. Senate Dem (and clean energy traitor) Joe Manchin came up with something called H.R. 3826/S. 1905, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act (here). It would repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, authority the agency was accorded under the Clean Air Act, authority affirmed by two decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Of course, as noted here, Whitfield has received about $900,000 in donations from the oil and gas industry, so I would say that this is a handsome return on investment by those cretins, if nothing else.

    One more thing – on the issue of climate, this tells us that we just experienced the hottest May on record…just sayin’.

  • Also, leave it to Matt Bai to find a high-profile Dem who opposes teachers unions (here)…

    So you’re a liberal member of the 1 percent, and you’ve decided to wrest control of the Democratic agenda from change-averse insiders. You want to free the capital from the grip of powerful interest groups. You want to inspire a new set of policies to help America meet the challenges of a fast-transforming economy. Where do you turn for leadership and innovation?

    To the teachers union, of course!

    At least that’s how it seems to have played out at the Democracy Alliance, the group of superrich Democrats who have funneled more than half a billion dollars into liberal groups over the past decade. Earlier this month, the alliance announced that John Stocks, executive director of the National Education Association, would become the chairman of its board.

    The move went largely unnoticed by the Washington media and even most Democrats, who could think of nothing at that moment other than the Memoir That Ate Everything in Its Path. But it tells you something — more than Hillary Clinton’s book does, certainly — about the direction of Democratic politics right now.

    (For the record, let it be known that I don’t give a damn about Hillary Clinton’s memoir. And by the way, CNN, staying with HRC, when it comes to politicians and wealth, how come this is news in 2014, but this wasn’t news in 2000?)

    Bai then uses the recent travesty of Judge Rolf Treu’s ruling on teacher tenure in California (a decision based on a totally made-up claim, as noted here) to attack teachers unions in general.

    Having created this straw man, he then inflicts the following…

    Heed the words of Nick Hanauer, a Seattle-based venture capitalist and school reform advocate, who wrote in a 2012 email that subsequently became public: “It is impossible to escape the painful reality that we Democrats are now on the wrong side of every education reform issue. … There can be no doubt in any reasonable person’s mind that the leadership of our party and most of its elected members are stooges for the teachers union, the ring leaders in all this nonsense.”

    I don’t want to get too “lost in the woods” here, so I’ll try to sum up by saying that Bai opposes the direction taken by the group Democracy Alliance now that John Stocks, executive director of the National Education Association (and someone opposed by Hanauer) will become chairman of the board. Even though, as Bai puts it, “the problem here has nothing to do with Stocks personally, whom I’ve never met, and who has been described to me as a thoughtful and open-minded guy. It also has nothing to do with teachers generally, many of whom are nothing short of heroic, and who are struggling to adapt to the turmoil in their industry, same as the rest of us.”

    Gee, wouldn’t it have been worth Bai’s time to try and reach out to Stocks and get a quote or two for this column?

    Oh sorry, silly me – I forgot that it’s more important for Bai to push the “Dems caught in the grip of a supposedly hopelessly compromised teachers union” narrative in a column full of supposedly high-minded corporate media Beltway puffery than it is to write about real people and real issues.

    And speaking of real people and real issues, I thought this letter was a good response to Hanauer, including the following…

    …you say that it’s not the hard-working, dedicated teachers who are ruining education but rather their nasty, child-hating union. I grew up as an upper middle class white boy in the American South, where all of the white grownups had their favorite Black people—the cook, the person who looked after the kids, the guy who took care of the cattle for a share of the corn crop. But God forbid that one of those favorites be seen gathering on a street corner with Black people from out of town, or at an NAACP meeting, or having coffee with a union representative. At the first hint of any organized activity, our grownups would turn on their favorite Black people faster than a summer squall could dump an inch of rain on the pasture. Suddenly the individuals who had been so tender, wise, and trustworthy were scary, too stupid to know better, and not to be let into the house. Everybody loved the solitary black person, nobody liked it when they started to bunch up and talk crazy.

    That’s kind of the way it is with teachers. Everybody loves a teacher, nobody likes the big, bad teachers’ union. As long as they’re staying after school to give the extra help to the kids who need it or reaching into their own pockets to pay for the supplies that the state doesn’t anymore, teachers are saints. But when they collectively advocate for decent wages, adequate health care, and working conditions that don’t erode by the minute they’re a threat to the moral fabric of the state.

    And as long as I’m on the subject of education, I thought this was a good post about the battle in the Philadelphia school district between public and charter schools (yes, I’m sure there are excesses in public schools, but after just having paid for the education of a parochial school student who recently graduated, I can tell you that that’s hardly a panacea either).

  • Finally, this tells us that we recently observed the 50th anniversary of the disappearance of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, three civil rights workers were trying to register African Americans to vote in Mississippi; their bodies were found 44 days later (the incident helped to propel the Civil Rights Act to passage – Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of the crime in 2005).

    And though this event wasn’t as awful as the murders, it was still a defining moment that tried to legitimize, if not actually whitewash, that tragedy (and as noted here, past is definitely prologue from the party of The Sainted Ronnie R when it comes to race).

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    An Armey Higher-Ed Atrocity

    October 7, 2010

    “Worst Persons” (Repug Party Chair Bill Fairbrother of Williamson County, Texas gets the “bronze” for some rather creative accounting involving meals and doughnuts; former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez gets the runner-up for his “may have offended” sort-of apology involving Jon Stewart and Jews supposedly running the media; but Dick Armey of FreedomWorks gets the top honor for calling for an end to all federal student loan funding, including Pell grants, as well as the claim that Texas supposedly doesn’t rely on the federal “gumint” for this stuff…uh, wrong – actually, the state of the “yellow rose” gets about A BILLION DOLLARS in aid!)


    Another Dose Of “Health Care Hijinks Thursday”

    August 20, 2009

    Thus sayeth former Repug presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney (here)…

    WASHINGTON — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says President Barack Obama is struggling to get a health care bill because he has been too deferential to the liberal wing of his party.

    Interviewed from Boston Thursday on CBS’s “The Early Show,” Romney said he thinks the president must shoulder the blame for the gridlocked situation surrounding health care legislation. He said Obama gave too much influence to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others.

    Romney said that “if the president wants to get something done, he needs to put aside the extreme liberal wing of his party.”

    Well, as least the “extreme liberal wing” of the Democratic Party isn’t calling for Hezbollah-style universal health care, as Romney did here, saying the following…

    …”Did you notice in Lebanon, what Hezbollah did? Lebanon became a democracy some time ago and while their government was getting underway, Hezbollah went into southern Lebanon and provided health clinics to some of the people there, and schools. And they built their support there by having done so. That kind of diplomacy is something that would help America become stronger around the world and help people understand that our interest is an interest towards modernity and goodness and freedom for all people in the world. And so, I want to see America carry out that kind of health diplomacy…”

    Also, Joan Vennochi of The Boston Globe informs us of the following (here)…

    Because of the liberals’ embrace of the “public option,’’ today’s debate is as polarizing as it was back when Bill and Hillary Clinton unsuccessfully pushed health care reform.

    Notwithstanding the gun-toting, teabaggin’ town hall disruptors courtesy of Dick Armey and Rick Scott and their havoc (which has more to do with “polarization” than anything), I think Vennochi and her ideological fellow travelers should read the following (from here)…

    Just 34% of voters nationwide support the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats if the so-called “public option” is removed. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 57% oppose the plan if it doesn’t include a government-run health insurance plan to compete with private insurers.

    But of course, the ongoing fight to keep the public option (which, it should be emphasized, is the only way that we’ll see cost savings for real out of health care reform) is the “fault” of those baaaad liberals only, let’s not forget (putting aside the fact this country by and large is way ahead of the politicians and the pundits…as usual).
     
    Continuing, I give you Calvin Woodward of the AP (here)…

    President Barack Obama’s lack of a detailed plan for overhauling health care is letting critics fill in the blanks in the public’s mind. In reality, Washington is not working on “death panels” or nationalization of health care.

    You want a detailed plan? Take a look at this (the House version). And how ridiculous is it that the Clintons were blamed for being too detailed and “secretive” on health care, and Obama gets blamed for not being detailed enough?

    And by the way, I think claiming that Obama doesn’t have a detailed plan as the reason for the wingnuttery that has propagated on this issue, as opposed to our somnambulant lapdog press calling truth to bullshit (sorry, can’t think of another word that works), is a typically disgusting copout.
     
    And finally (from here)…

    (Obama) said the first thing he wanted to correct was the idea that the proposed overhaul would force some people into different health care plans. “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan,” he said, repeating one of his stock lines.

    That’s not true, however, according to FactCheck.org, an independent truth squad run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

    “He can’t make that promise to everyone,” concluded FactCheck’s analysis, one of several that point out that the Democrats’ health care plan could lead to employers switching plans, and thus forcing their employees into different plans and perhaps to different doctors.

    And under health care reform, it’s possible that absolutely nothing will change if you have coverage through your employer, like Obama says.
     
    With all due respect to FactCheck.org, how the hell are they or anyone else supposed to know for certain what decisions employers will make concerning health coverage as a result of reform?

    The point is that, as has been repeated many, many, many times, what we have presently is unsustainable. It costs all of us too much, primarily because there is not enough competition against a public plan that would hold down costs (I’m not going to tell you it would function perfectly, but considering Medicare and Medicaid – and health care through the VA is also provided through our government, let’s not forget – I would say there’s plenty of precedent for us to enact a government-run option for a client base consisting of people other than our seniors and our military).

    I’ll tell you what – let’s try a hypothetical here, OK?

    So you have good health insurance through your employer – terrific. What if something catastrophic happens, namely a job loss? And you fought Obama and the Dems on health care, and legislation passes without a private plan, and then you have to try and obtain coverage on your own, but you end up getting denied because you suffer from acid reflux (and yes, I know of a case where this has actually happened…and don’t talk to me about how a “mandate” will ensure that you cannot be denied coverage; without a public option, the insurance companies will have already figured out how to “game” the new system before Obama signs it into law).

    Guess what? You’re screwed.

    This isn’t a fight for liberals only. It’s a fight for everyone. And our corporate media’s refusal to report this story in that fashion is yet another inglorious failure of their duty to enlighten, educate and inform.

    Update 1: Wow, I didn’t know there were so many liberals 🙂 (h/t Atrios)

    Update 2 8/21/09: I thought this was a good post on the difference between a public option and a co-op (of course, CNN is too busy “reporting” on “naked pole dancing” and rehashing an old story of Tom Ridge telling us he was pressured into issuing color-coded terror alerts before elections…GEE, YA’ THINK??!!…to cover this themselves).


    It’s “More Health Care Hijinks” Monday!

    August 10, 2009

  • I stumbled across some truly wankerific punditry by Sheryl Gay Stolberg in the New York Times yesterday in which she attempted to draw a faux equivalency between the “teabaggers” disrupting the town hall meetings (with this as the next logical step in their hooliganism, unfortunately) and members of the SEIU and other Dem-simpatico organizations trying to ensure order at these meetings and make their points in favor of reform. And I was all set to lay into Stolberg for it, but the good people at Media Matters did it for me here (h/t Eschaton).

    However, it looks like Stolberg’s playmate John Harwood is picking up right where she left off here…

    Spontaneous or contrived, the shouting, shoving and other shenanigans at lawmakers’ town-hall-style meetings point to one probable outcome: the demise of bipartisan health care negotiations.

    Those negotiations have proceeded tortuously all summer, with centrists on the Senate Finance Committee maneuvering around obstacles erected by the Democratic left, the Republican right and the White House.

    And what exactly would those “obstacles” be, Harwood? The public option, for example, supported by 70 percent of those polled, as Bob Cesca notes here?

    Or, as noted here (from July 30th)…

    When given a fairly detailed description of the plan they are pushing, Americans registered strong approval, with 56% saying they favor the plan versus 38% who oppose it.

    Many of these details, such as requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, haven’t been the focus of the congressional debate, which has centered on more controversial issues.

    Americans are persuadable but are not sold on what they hear on the news. Specific plans sell, but the opposition is well financed and quite skilled at obstruction.

    Uh, yep. And continuing with Harwood…

    …the rowdy start of the August Congressional recess has galvanized activists on both ends of the ideological spectrum. That makes it tougher for negotiators to stake out a middle ground — especially in conservative locales that Democratic centrists call home.

    “There are groups that are out there trying to disrupt public meetings with specific strategies that they have put on the Internet,” Senator Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat and one of the Finance Committee negotiators, said in an interview. “I mean, is that what we’ve come to in the United States, that we’re going to have people basically functioning as thugs?”

    Do you see where Harwood is going with this? The bland descriptor “groups…with specific strategies” from Kent Conrad (a guy who, as noted here, laughed when ads were run in his district reminding him of how important it is to do this right and include a public option) is used to tar those on both sides of this debate equally. And that of course leaves it to the Democratic “centrists” (re: Evan Bayh’s coalition of cowards in the Senate and the hopelessly compromised “Bush Dogs” in the House) to ensure that nothing of substance actually occurs anyway.

    Harwood also tells us the following…

    The backdrop is political danger for the president’s party, with fat budget deficits and high unemployment increasing the risk of traditional midterm election losses. In Mr. Conrad’s view, 2010 “could be a very challenging year.”

    Uh, Kent? Try unsucking your thumb, do your job and forget about the midterms, OK? If you won’t deliver, then there’s no sense worrying, since the result could be a foregone conclusion.

    Revamping one-sixth of the United States economy without Republican help would compound those anxieties. Yet many Democrats perceive greater risk in failing to deliver as Washington’s governing party — and stand ready to act under special “reconciliation” rules that would heighten partisan tensions by blocking Republican filibusters.

    And by the way, do you know who supports using reconciliation personally doesn’t support reconciliation on health care (which the Repugs used to ramrod Dubya’s horrific tax cuts through Congress when they were in charge) but acknowledged that the Dems could use it (update from comment below)? That noted “liberal” Dr. Bill Frist (here), that’s who.

    Also, on the subject of how those supporting health care reform are part of the same amorphous blob standing in the way of their prized notion of “bipartisanship” (to Harwood and Conrad’s thinking), I should point out that I actually have viewed some YouTube videos filmed by conservatives in St. Louis and Tampa where misbehavior against them is alleged, and as is always the case with these people, the films are heavily edited, no one is identified, and what you inevitably see is the aftermath of something having occurred that we know nothing about.

    On the other hand, if you watch any video filmed by a progressive (Mike Morrill in particular), everything and everyone is identified, questions are asked and answers are provided (if the respondents reply, that is), and you have the full context of what is going on. I know this is obvious stuff to people who pay attention, but I thought it should be pointed out anyway.

  • And what would health care demagoguery be without more from J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday (here)…

    At the National Constitution Center a week ago, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter looked spectral as a crowd of hundreds booed and jeered him and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a “town hall” meeting on health care.

    Across the country, members of Congress have been confronted by constituents demanding answers to questions regarding the prospect that the Obama Administration intends a GM-style takeover of medical care.

    See, never forget that, as far as J.D. is concerned, those who stand up and make every effort to shout down a member of Congress or someone in the Obama Administration from speaking on this issue or addressing a legitimate constituent concern, to say nothing of resorting to violence (such as hanging a member of Congress in effigy), are not bought-and-paid-for thugs courtesy of Dick Armey or Rick Scott, among others. They’re “constituents.”

    Sure they are.

    Anyway, Mullane then decides to confront Bob Casey, Jr. on this since he’s been “laying low,” which – shockingly – makes sense for J.D. since Casey is on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, from which the Senate bill has originated (I believe there is only one bill in the Senate, but I’m not positive). And in so doing, Mullane does his very best “cherry picking” of the draft bill…

    …under “Shared Responsibility” (p. 103), it mandates each citizen to purchase health insurance, or be fined. This means if you are healthy and young and starting out life on a shoestring budget and you need to spend your thin resources on rent and car payments, Bob Casey, Jr. has a message: Tough. Pay us, kid, or else.

    Then, something bizarre. On page 411 under “Data Analysis, Detection and Quality,” the bill instructs the health and human services secretary to “develop standards for the measurement of gender.”

    Unless Sen. Casey and his committee colleagues have top secret information, there are only two measurements of gender: (A) male and (B) female.

    And as a result, according to J.D…

    Casey Jr. told (a Politico) reporter that he wants Pennsylvanians to know that 10 Republicans who sit with him on the Health, Energy, Labor and Pensions committee voted against the committee’s mammoth health care reform bill.

    Republicans voted against national health care? Gee, stop the presses.

    My response…

    I read pgs. 103-107 of the draft of the Affordable Health Choices Act, and I think the following should be noted (by the way, you cannot directly access the .pdf from Casey’s web site – you need to go from the Casey site to the HELP Committee site and find the link there).

    What Subtitle D – Shared Responsibility for Health Care discusses beginning on pg. 103 is the individual tax liability for anyone who didn’t have “qualifying coverage.” However, there are exemptions noted in the draft of the legislation, such as for someone who didn’t have qualifying coverage for less than 90 days, for someone who does not reside in a “participating State or an establishing State” (as such terms are defined in section 3104 of the Public Health Service Act…I read over the legalese on that, and I’m a bit fuzzy on it, to tell you the truth), someone who is an enrolled member of a federally recognized Indian tribe, someone for whom affordable health care coverage is not available, or someone for whom “a payment…would otherwise represent an exceptional financial hardship.”

    Also, under his “measurement of gender” remarks concerning pg. 411, I hate to break the news to J.D., but there are lots of LGBT individuals out there who have health care needs also and thus deserve coverage.

    Of course for good measure, Mullane harks back at the end of the column to Casey’s father who “chose principle over party – paid the price for it, too.”

    Well, as long as J.D. decided to mention Casey Sr., the following should also be noted about Senator Casey’s father, PA’s former governor (here)…

    He lobbied unsuccessfully for universal health care in his state, but, failing that, as The New York Times reported in its May 31 obituary, “he did sign a bill providing health insurance for children whose families were too poor to pay for it but whose incomes were too high to be eligible for public assistance.”

    So Bob Casey, Sr. supported universal health care in his state, for which he “paid the price” at the hands of PA’s Repugs, J.D.’s ideological playmates (and which Casey’s son is now trying to help enact on the national level)?

    Gee, stop the presses.

  • And finally, as a response to the tactics of the town hall meeting disruptors, at least one Dem congressman has had enough (here), from Stephen Hayes at The Weakly Standard)…

    “The war’s on,” Representative Baron Hill (D-IN) told the Indianapolis Star. And his opponents are “political terrorists.”

    Hill is not holding town hall meetings. Why? “I’m trying to control the event,” Hill said. “What I don’t want to do is create an opportunity for the people who are political terrorists to blow up the meeting and not try to answer thoughtful questions.”

    Hill is not alone. Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi believe that “drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.” Just like Democrats argued when they condemned unruly Iraq War protesters.

    I’m not aware of anyone protesting Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Iraq who ended up threatening anyone either face to face or over the phone, or who shut down a town hall meeting, or (as noted previously) ended up leaving a gun behind at one of their appearances.

    Some apples with your oranges, Hayes?


  • Armey Throws Us A “Curve”

    February 4, 2009

    armeysm650
    As part of the seemingly endless “piling on” exercise by our corporate media in response to the Obama stimulus plan, I present selected excerpts (as much as can be tolerated, anyway) of today’s opinion column by former House Repug Dick (“Barney Fag”) Armey from Texas (go figure, huh?); this is his rationale for criticizing Obama’s proposal to spend up to about a trillion dollars to put this country back on its feet (in the Murdoch Street Journal, of course)…

    Years ago I developed the “Armey Curve” to explain the negative burden government has on prosperity. The idea, borrowing liberally from Arthur Laffer’s curve (which demonstrates that tax revenues fall when the tax burden gets so high that it no longer pays to work), is that at some point the burden of government spending exceeds the private economy’s ability to carry it. “Stimulus” spending often does more harm than good, because it takes more money out of the system than it creates and thereby destroys jobs and leads to stagnation and diminished prosperity for all.

    Oh yes, the “Laffer Curve”; Armey and the Journal argue that the curve theory proves that U.S. business tax rates are so high that they discourage the type of investment that creates jobs, and merely lowering the rate would have the same effect as the proposed stimulus (two caveats: 1) This is a variation of all the crappy “supply side” economics hokum we’ve been fed for about the last 30 years or so, and 2) I am not an economist and am merely paraphrasing from this article, which also tells us that)…

    I don’t know where we fit on the Laffer curve (concerning corporate tax rates). Frankly, I think our tax code is so distorted by random loopholes that it’s probably impossible to make a blanket statement; for some businesses, we’re probably taxing them enough effectively reduce the tax revenues received from them; for many others (can you say oil company?), we’re clearly not.

    But the idea that (the curve referenced in the article) produced by the WSJ folks has any meaning at all is simply laughable.

    And as noted here…

    Taken together, (Dubya’s) tax cuts were even bigger than the ones Ronald Reagan introduced in his first term. In 1981, Reagan slashed income-tax rates by about a quarter, claiming that the government’s revenues would actually rise as the tax cuts unleashed the economy’s potential. This claim, which Arthur Laffer, one of the originators of supply-side economics, formalized in his famous “Laffer curve,” turned out to be wildly optimistic, and the budget deficit soared. In the ensuing years, a panicked Congress reversed some of Reagan’s tax cuts, and the White House quietly accepted the rollbacks, which increased tax revenues. When the International Monetary Fund recently compared Bush’s fiscal record with Reagan’s, it concluded that “the revenue effect of the Reagan tax cuts was considerably smaller than in the current period.”

    According to the White House, in fiscal 2004 the three Bush tax cuts will cost the United States Treasury about $241 billion in revenues, which is about two per cent of the gross domestic product. (The Congressional Budget Office, which is nonpartisan, puts the 2004 cost of the tax cuts at closer to three hundred billion dollars.) The lost revenue has wreaked havoc with the budget. In 1999, the federal government had a surplus of $125.6 billion; this year, according to the latest official forecast, it will have a deficit of about $450 billion. The 2001 recession and the jump in spending on defense and homeland security since 9/11 are responsible for some of this reversal, but even the Bush Administration concedes that tax cuts caused about a third of it.

    Oh, and Armey also brings us this lovely bit of language…

    It’s clear why Keynes’s popularity endures in Congress (my note: John Maynard Keynes being the economist whose theories served as the basis for to the New Deal programs of FDR, though Obama is actually more of a Milton Friedman disciple, and that would be obvious were we not so bad off at the moment). Intellectual cover for a spending spree will always be appreciated there. But it’s harder to see any justification for the perverse form of fiscal child abuse that heaps massive debts on future generations.

    You got that? Armey considers the Obama stimulus “fiscal child abuse” (and aside from being a repugnant choice of words, that ignores the profligate waste that occurred when Armey’s party ran Congress basically unchecked from 2000 to 2006).

    But then again, what else can we expect from a character assassin and a chauvinist?


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