Friday Mashup (5/23/14)

May 23, 2014

model-s-official-5b-1024x683

  • This from Fix Noise tells us the following…

    Four years have passed since President Obama visited Kansas City’s main airport, rolled up his shirt sleeves and admonished the skeptics who said Smith Electric Vehicles was unlikely to make good on its promises to build 510 experimental electric-powered trucks and buses suitable for commercial use.

    “Come see what’s going on at Smith Electric,” the president said, inspecting a table full of bright green truck batteries in what was once a maintenance hangar for TWA. “I think they’re going to be hard-pressed to tell you that you’re not better off than you would be if we hadn’t made the investments in this plant.”

    The skeptics turned out to be right.

    Despite $32 million in federal stimulus funds and status as one of Obama’s favorite “green” companies, the firm has halted production, having built just 439 of the promised 510 vehicles.

    Gee, “just” 439 out of 510? That happens to be “just” 86 percent, for those of you playing along at home (and the story also tells us that production of the vehicles may resume this summer…money is slow in the pipeline these days, and that’s definitely affecting manufacturing, among other industries).

    I’m not going to say much about the “follow the money” stuff in the linked Washington Examiner story (from Fox), alleging that Smith “stiffed” the “Missouri University of Science and Technology, the state government, and a local electrical supply company, as well as its landlord, the Kansas City city government.” Also adding to the complicated financial picture is the fact that Smith is apparently an American subsidiary of a British firm. The Examiner article alleges impropriety, but upon a couple of reviews, I think there’s no “there” there (sounds to me like some financial stuff that would be normal for a lot of other established firms…I’m open to an opposing point of view on that one).

    I mainly want to point out that how the wingnuts have been attacking the Obama Energy Department and their loans to electric car manufacturers for a little while now, including here where the number of companies that applied for loans versus the number that actually received DOE loans was flipped on purpose (all part and parcel from this playbook).

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    Actually, this issue gives me an excuse to plug this great documentary from a few years ago, telling us that, among other things, we were on track for electric cars in this country before a certain President With The Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History sent us on a merry goose chase in search of hydrogen cars (more on him later; of course, hybrid vehicles are flourishing now also – good news on that front).

  • Next, I give you more corporate media “SKY IS FALLING!!!” wankery from Matt Bai here (opining in part about a perhaps-inevitable Hillary Clinton presidential run)…

    The truth is that, leaving aside all this bravado about happy demographics and the disunion of Republicans, Democrats are scared out of their minds right now. The House is solidly out of reach. The Senate is slipping away. And the White House could be close behind, especially if Clinton doesn’t run, and if Republicans can rally around a credible candidate.

    I’ll admit that the odds are long on the Dems retaking the House, but I think it’s premature at best to say that such a goal is “out of reach,” partly for the reason noted here.

    And as far as the Senate “slipping away,” this tells us that, among other things, Terri Lynn Land in Michigan and former Dubya confidant/Repug lobbyist Ed Gillespie in Virginia aren’t faring too well (and while Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao has pulled out close races before, he’s not currently in a comfortable spot with Dem candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes – the slime is already at work, of course…I Googled Grimes and the first hit I got was a site proclaiming her a liberal, naturally, as well as “Obama’s Nominee for Kentucky”…OOOGA BOOGA, WINGNUTS! Blow that dog whistle a little louder, OK?).

    In addition, I give you the following from kos here

    Republicans are acting as if they’ve already won control of the next Senate, and the media appears happy to play along.

    But despite tens of millions of dollars in attack ads and the right wing’s religious certainty that ObamaCare will ride them to victory, a race-by-race look reveals that Democrats aren’t only competitive in this November’s Senate elections — they’re steadily improving.

    The math is simple: Republicans need to win six seats to take control of the Senate, and are prohibitive favorites in two Democratic-held seats: South Dakota and West Virginia. That means they have to win four of the six competitive Democratic seats — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana and North Carolina — while holding on to two endangered GOP seats in Georgia and Kentucky.

    On the macro level, Republicans are banking that discontent over the Affordable Care Act and President Obama’s unpopularity will prove the keys to the majority. In both cases, the trends aren’t in the GOP’s favor.

    In Gallup polling, Obama’s unpopularity peaked in mid-February, with a 41 percent job approval rating and 54 percent disapproval rating. Early this week, that number was 45 percent approval to 49 percent disapproval, a 9-point shift.

    Similarly, the stunning early ObamaCare success — 8 million signups on the exchange and still counting — has already led to improving poll numbers across the board, like the ABC/Washington Post poll showing support of the law at 49 percent to 48 percent against. In November, the numbers were 40/57.

    I think those numbers are also borne out by this.

    And speaking of Senatorial races, it looks like “Wall Street Scott” Brown isn’t faring too well either (here, engaging in more trickery), despite Bai’s efforts to inflate his candidacy here – second bullet.

  • Further, I give you the latest right-wing propaganda on the Affordable Care Law (here, on the subject of so-called “risk corridors”)…

    The Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature healthcare law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money.

    The move was buried in hundreds of pages of new regulations issued late last week. It comes as part of an intensive administration effort to hold down premium increases for next year, a top priority for the White House as the rates will be announced ahead of this fall’s congressional elections.

    Administration officials for months have denied charges by opponents that they plan a “bailout” for insurance companies providing coverage under the healthcare law.

    They continue to argue that most insurers shouldn’t need to substantially increase premiums because safeguards in the healthcare law will protect them over the next several years.

    I’m automatically suspicious of this story because there are no links to source material that confirms this accusation. Even if it were true, though, I think the following should also be noted (here)…

    The distortion that risk corridors are an insurance company bailout is a frequent theme (not just on Fox but in conservative media generally), but this latest narrative is especially misleading. What the Fox hosts failed to acknowledge is that the estimated $5.5 billion payment doesn’t come from taxpayers, but from the insurance companies themselves. The risk corridor provision transfers money from insurance companies with healthier risk pools to companies with less healthy risk pools with higher than anticipated costs.

    While the federal government may be required to subsidize some of the payment in extreme circumstances, White House officials expect that the entire risk corridor cost over the next year will be borne by the insurance companies themselves.

    And as long as we’re talking about risk corridors, this reminds us that those in the Affordable Care Law are temporary. On the other hand, those in the Medicare Part D scam under Number 43 are permanent (Heaven forbid that conservatives don’t applaud the intrusion into this supposedly sacrosanct, glorious-private-sector concoction…no such complaints about the “corridors” from 2006, of course).

  • Continuing (and in consideration of the upcoming holiday), I give you this from a few days ago…

    With the Department of Veterans Affairs coming under attack, meanwhile down in Texas, on the ranch of the former president, another way was being shown to support our vets. This past week former President George W. Bush brought together wounded veterans and active soldiers to honor them with a mountain bike ride. The message was clear – even when you leave active duty, we will still care for you.

    This from the individual who was taking up space in An Oval Office when the Walter Reed Hospital VA scandal was taking place, and of course the Foxies had precious little to say about it as opposed to the braying they’re doing right now, as noted here.

    (Also, this Fox screed was concocted by Dr. Marc Siegel, who last wrote about “typically unselfish” Number 43 here and the questions surrounding Dubya’s stent procedure – fourth bullet.)

    And as long as I’m talking about Siegel’s piece, I give you another excerpt…

    “Some of the people riding mountain bikes here have PTS (post-traumatic stress),” Bush said. “Mountain biking is helping them get back to as normal a life as possible. And that’s not a VA function, its a private sector function.”

    God, what a baboon – helping our vets isn’t just a “private sector” function – it’s a “function” for everyone whether they’re in public life or not!

    The scandal (yes, Repugs, a legitimate one – at long last, your dreams have come true!) of what is taking place with our veterans and providing the care they need is a bipartisan one, I’ll admit (well, maybe their dreams haven’t come true after all). And I don’t know if Gen. Eric Shinseki should resign as head of the VA or not. If he does, I hope it will not be just in response to a typical attack of conservative umbrage and, at the very least, an administrator at least as competent as Shinseki will be able to transition into the job relatively smoothly (that will make a big difference in how quickly our veterans receive care also, which should of course be the most important consideration). All I’m saying is that we should have a little perspective.

    You want to go after Shinseki? Fine. But let’s remember that the reason so many veterans require care is because of two wars that weren’t started on Obama’s watch (and, in the case of Dubya’s Not So Excellent Adventure in Iraq, this should have been an anticipated consequence of “the surge,” again, before Obama was sworn in).

    And you want to talk about a VA scandal and a certain president? Let’s not forget the following:

  • This tells us about Daniel Cooper of the Bush VA and how he thought his Bible study was more important than taking care of our wounded heroes (along with Dubya’s remark about battle being “romantic”).
  • This tells us how Cooper’s one-time boss Jim Nicholson approved $3.8 million in bonuses for VA executives even though the VA had underestimated the number of Iraq war vets who were expected to seek medical treatment in 2005 by nearly 80,000.
  • And among other things, this (a column from 2007 by Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), tells us that, for years under Dubya, PTSD was misdiagnosed as a “personality disorder” (the column has to do with the nomination of Lt. Gen. James Peake, M.D., to head the VA after Nicholson’s departure).
  • So there’s a lot more all of us can do to pay better attention to our veterans who have sacrificed (and in many cases, continue to sacrifice) for us. And sure, if Obama’s wretched predecessor wants to host a bike run or a golf tournament for them (which still sticks in my craw because of this, and this), then I have to admit that he deserves a bit of credit too, even though he was overwhelmingly responsible for the wars they had to fight that led to the death and injury of our personnel.

    american-flag
    And as long as I’m on this topic, I have a request – people, can you please fly your damn flags on Monday?

    Update: Uh, yep.

  • unemployment-line_000

  • Finally (and speaking of people suffering), according to The Daily Tucker (cherry picking from a Harris poll), nearly 47 percent of unemployed Americans have given up looking for work due to the still-moribund (for just about everyone, anyone I know at least) economy, as noted here.

    In response, this tells you that “Man Tan” Boehner has pissed away just about $5 billion in economic gains due to refusing to renew an extension to unemployment benefits.

    Are you disgusted by that? Good. Click here.

  • Advertisements

    Tuesday Mashup (10/29/13)

    October 29, 2013
  • Last week, Philadelphia’s supposed “newspaper of record” ran a front-page story on “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey…

    I had no objection to reopening the government. My main objection was combining that with several hundred billion dollars of additional debt that’s piled onto our already excessive levels of debt with no reforms whatsoever,” Toomey told The Inquirer. “Nothing that curbs the spending.”

    Gosh, how nice of “No Corporate Tax” Pat not to have an “objection” to “reopening the government” – here is a partial list of everyone who was screwed over by the calamitous antics of Toomey’s political party.

    And as far as Obama and reducing the debt is concerned, I give you this and this.

    Continuing…

    Toomey had sought to distance himself from the GOP’s most strident voices in the latest fight, saying he disagreed with threatening a shutdown to “defund” Obamacare. He called that “a bad idea” that could not succeed with President Obama still in the White House.

    But when the deal to reopen the government after 16 days included plans to increase borrowing authority without finding savings elsewhere, he said it was more than he could stomach.

    I read that last phrase in particular in disbelief because it totally disregards the impact of the ruinous “sequester” – as noted from here

    In fact, Democrats have agreed to the sequester funding levels, not the funding levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act, the law that supposedly set priorities for spending limits. The Tea-Publican economic terrorists have already won. Democrats have agreed to the Ryan budget spending levels that American voters overwhelmingly rejected in the 2012 election.

    Indeed – as the graph from the linked article indicates, the Senate “continuing resolution” funding request (taking the sequester into account) was $72 billion below the proposed budget for 2014. How much more in the way of “funding savings” does Toomey expect us to cough up by emptying our pockets and looking under the seat cushions (as it were)?

    The rest of the article is right-wing political insider crap and really deserves no further comment, so I won’t provide any.

    Update 10/31/13: Wonder what Toomey has to say about this (cue the sound of crickets).

  • Next, former Bushie Peter Schaumber haz a sad over Richard Griffin’s nomination to the NLRB (here)…

    For the second time in a year and a half, a powerful official may be appointed to the National Labor Relations Board without the Senate scrutiny his nomination requires.

    President Obama’s controversial nomination of Richard Griffin, Jr. for general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board was voted out of committee without a hearing, and the full Senate will vote on Griffin without a meaningful debate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) set a cloture vote limiting debate for October 28. The Senate’s Democratic leadership has shown again that it is willing to dispense with a necessary element of the democratic process to serve the interests of Big Labor.

    Maybe the lack of “Senate scrutiny” is due to the fact that Griffin’s nomination, as well as that of Sharon Block to the NLRB, was filibustered, as noted here (third bullet)…

    When Obama took office, the NLRB only had two members. In April 2009, Obama nominated three people to serve on the NLRB – Mark Pearce (D), Craig Becker (D) and Brian Hayes (R). Yet Senate Republicans’ silent filibusters were effective in preventing a Senate vote on these nominees.

    In March 2010, Obama recess appointed Becker and Pearce to the board. In June, the Senate confirmed Pearce and Hayes, but continued to block Becker.

    When Becker’s recess appointment expired on Jan. 3, 2012, the NLRB didn’t have a quorum to make decisions. Confronted with Senate Republicans intent on undermining the NLRB’s authority, Obama made three recess appointments – Sharon Block (D), Richard Griffin (D) and Terence Flynn (R) – to guarantee a fully functioning board. These members joined Pearce and Hayes, who left the board in December 2012.

    Oh, and if you think the party of Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao was gumming up the Senate to a fare thee well already, get a load of this case on the docket of The Supremes, which could enable the Repugs to wreak even more havoc (and as the Media Matters post tells us, the ruling of unconstitutionality by the D.C. Circuit Court on the recess appointments by the Obama Administration of Block and Griffin was “extreme” and “contradictory to settled executive branch practice” according to the Constitutionality Law Center).

    Fortunately, based on this, it looks like two other competent Democrats got through all the ridiculous obstruction by the Senate minority party and were named to the NLRB.

    And Peter Schaumber, Peter Schaumber…why does that name ring a bell?

    Oh yeah – this tells us the following from April of last year…

    WASHINGTON — A top labor adviser to GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stepped down from his volunteer role with the campaign not long before he was publicly implicated in a federal ethics investigation, according to a Romney campaign aide.

    The inspector general of the National Labor Relations Board has asked federal investigators to examine whether Peter Schaumber, a former NLRB board member and erstwhile Romney adviser, may have been involved in violations of the Hatch Act, the federal law that prohibits civil servants from engaging in partisan politics.

    The Hatch Act request stems from an earlier investigation by the labor board’s inspector general that found that NLRB board member Terence Flynn had allegedly violated the agency’s ethical code by sharing sensitive information with outsiders, including Schaumber, while serving as counsel last year. Flynn was notified Dec. 5 that he was being investigated. According to the aide, Schaumber left the campaign in December. The NLRB investigation first became public in March and now appears to be widening.

    In fact, the former campaign of Willard Mitt even scrubbed all mention of Schaumber from its web site last year (here).

    Tee hee hee…

  • Continuing, I give you the following from Debra Saunders (here)…

    During the Obama years, a potent mythology has taken root in Democratic circles. In this narrative, Democrats are victims, martyrs even, whereas Republicans are wily tricksters.

    Last year, there was a hyped-up fable about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. President Barack Obama told “60 Minutes,” “When I first came into office, the head of the Senate Republicans said, ‘My No. 1 priority is making sure President Obama’s a one-term president.'” Sen. Dianne Feinstein even told the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board she heard McConnell speaking to that effect on the Senate’s opening day.

    The thing is that the quote in question first appeared nearly two years later — in an October 2010 interview with the National Journal’s Major Garrett.

    And guess what? Saunders is absolutely right.

    That being said, I think the following should be noted from here

    WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington.

    The event — which provides a telling revelation for how quickly the post-election climate soured — serves as the prologue of Robert Draper’s much-discussed and heavily-reported new book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.”

    According to Draper, the guest list that night (which was just over 15 people in total) included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, several years removed from his presidential campaign, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) — who, Draper writes, had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz.

    For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform.

    “If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority,” Draper quotes McCarthy as saying. “We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

    The conversation got only more specific from there, Draper reports. Kyl suggested going after incoming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for failing to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes while at the International Monetary Fund. Gingrich noted that House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) had a similar tax problem. McCarthy chimed in to declare “there’s a web” before arguing that Republicans could put pressure on any Democrat who accepted campaign money from Rangel to give it back.

    So basically, GOP obstruction of this president began on the very day he was inaugurated. Imagine the howls of outrage had a similar meeting been held by the Democratic congressional leadership the night of January 21, 2001.

    To use a parlance you’re sure to understand, wingnuts, you “built this.” Have the courage and basic human decency to own up to it, OK?

  • Further, I have some health-care-related items for discussion, beginning with this one

    Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan says the troubled Obamacare rollout could potentially vindicate the tea party for the government shutdown.

    “During three and a half years, from 1942 to ’45, the United States government built, with the help of the industrialists, got hundreds of thousands of aircraft, 1600 ships. We armed the United States — 12 million men, Russia, the British Empire — destroyed two of the greatest empires on earth,” Buchanan told “On The Record” host Greta Van Susteren on Thursday. “And you mean to tell me these folks in that amount of time, and with $500 million can’t create a website?

    Oh, yes, Obamacare website, Obamacare website, Obamacare website…yes, it’s bad, but cut them some slack, OK? I mean, it’s not as if hugely popular federal government entitlements (which I supposed the Affordable Care Law is, to an extent) haven’t had trouble during the roll out phase before (here – and by the way, we also can’t seem to be able to build a commuter tunnel from New Jersey to NYC either – here…hopefully voters in the Garden State will remember this before they rush off to give Governor Bully four more years in about a week…and to do something to prevent that, click here).

    And potentially “vindicate” the Teahadists for the government shut down, huh? Well, this tells us what this country thinks of those wheezing old white, middle-aged-and-older crybabies, and this tells us that the Affordable Care Law, while still trying to win approval despite everything currently going on, is gaining traction to a degree, despite Republican efforts to kill it in its infancy.

    Turning to Indiana, this also from The Daily Tucker tells us the following…

    Obamacare will cause 11,000 low-income residents of Indiana to lose their existing health coverage.

    Oh brother… in fact, it was known in September that, under Repug Governor Mike Pence, the 11,000 or so residents would be moved from the state exchange and have to enroll because, as the Journal-Gazette tells us here, “the income eligibility threshold (will) drop significantly, from up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level to up to 100 percent.”

    And get a load of this…

    The Obama administration demanded that an Indiana health insurance program for the poor alter its eligibility requirements and recommended that booted patients seek out Obamacare plans instead.

    I don’t know how accurate “demanded” is, but what I do know is that, like every other Repug governor I can think of, Pence turned up his nose at Medicaid expansion (in essence, free money) to cover the cost of enrolling everyone in his state who was eligible under existing guidelines. So of course the guidelines had to be modified, booting off about 11,000 “Hoosiers” (and here is more Pence nonsense on this issue).

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    And just when you thought we were done with this guy, along comes Dr. Marc Siegel (who?), who inflicts the following from here

    From Benghazi to the health of former President George W. Bush, wild unsubstantiated assertions by the news media take the place of real reporting. Fox News is left to set the record straight, yet frequently it doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

    OK, I’ll stop. Continuing…

    The stent placement in President Bush’s coronary artery is the latest example of the world of Fox News versus wild speculation.

    The subsequent media firestorm and unsubstantiated August debate over whether Bush’s heart procedure was needed has culminated in yet another round of anti-journalistic speculation this week more than two months after the fact.

    I had attempted back then to report the facts about the severity of President Bush’s lesion, and the appropriateness of his treatment by his team of doctors in Dallas, led by Dr. Tony Das, who inserted the potentially lifesaving stent.

    My source for the real medical facts back in August was the president’s senior spokesperson, Freddy Ford.

    President Bush, typically unselfish, was not responding to criticism with anything personal or political but was concerned for the reputation of his doctors who he felt were being falsely maligned.

    Um…the dookey’s getting pretty deep quickly, so I’d better respond with this by Steven M. Greer, M.D…

    A recent short article in an obscure Washington, DC wonky journal triggered national media when it asserted that President George W. Bush’s (43rd President) coronary artery disease was far more dangerous than originally reported in August. NBC Nightly news picked up the story along with numerous other national outlets. The headline was “President Bush had a 95% blockage of the artery”.

    When President Bush first received a coronary stent in August, after a routine “Executive Physical” exam at the Texas Cooper Clinic found coronary artery disease, the national TV and print news (and this author) widely reported that the stent was unnecessary and did little to reduce his chance of future heart attack. A Washington Post Op-Ed went on to use the Bush case as an example of expensive ineffective therapy in the American healthcare system. A contrarian view came from Fox News’ Dr. Marc Siegel in his USA Today Op-Ed.

    On October 15th, in response to the NBC, Dr. Siegel appeared on afternoon Fox News to scream to the world that “We got this story first” and send the message, “Told you so. The Bush stent was critical to saving his life and the doctors in Texas were Super Heroes”. During his segment, Dr. Siegel insinuated that he is very close with President Bush and that President Bush personally informed him of the details of his coronary artery lesion, location, etc.

    Dr. Siegel’s behavior seemed so erratic and manic that the credibility of his comments were in question. We emailed him to clarify a few points, and he promptly replied by telephone. What ensued was a bizarre series of calls.

    I’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to read the rest of Dr. Greer’s post about his communication with Dr. Siegel (yep, it’s pretty unusual, all right).

    Not being a medical professional, I don’t have the first clue as to whether or not George W. Bush actually needed a stent or not to correct his heart issue. And despite the ruin he oversaw while he occupied space in An Oval Office, I don’t wish ill on him. I don’t wish anything particularly good for him, either. I wish he would continue to just go away and stay away.

    I wanted to take a moment and comment on this, though, because this stuff is about as serious as it gets. A decision about this type of a procedure should be made after careful consultation with the appropriately degreed medical professional (I know, duuuh!). And unless time is of the essence (which it often is with a heart-related blockage), a second opinion is a good idea. There are tradeoffs to this type of a procedure, and they should be discussed along with the benefits (and preferably not with someone who doubles as a pundit for Fix Noise).

  • Finally (for folk in Bucks County, PA, Lower Makefield in particular), I just wanted to point out that a week from today is Election Day (that would be November 5th). Click here to support Deb Wachspress and Josh Waldorf for the Pennsbury School Board (this is our chance to boot Simon Campbell, people – what more do I need to say?), and click here to support John Lewis and Mark Moffa for Lower Makefield Supervisors.

    Because…

    Every_Election_Matters


  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Advertisements