Friday Mashup (5/23/14)

May 23, 2014

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  • 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).

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    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.

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    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.

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  • 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.

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    Mike Rosen, No Better Than Our Enemy

    October 12, 2010

    “Worst Persons” (Doug Schoen gets the “bronze” for deciding to speak at a fundraiser for John Gomez for Congress, with Gomez a pal of Sean Inanity – yeah, but Schoen is a “Dem”…sure he is; Ed Gillespie gets the “runner up” for claiming that the Washington Post and the New York Times “completely refudiated” the charge of foreign money being donated to election campaigns by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – in reality, the Times and the WaPo just didn’t ask the right questions about it – the issue is still very much an issue…more on this here; but Mike Rosen of the Denver Post gets the nod for claiming that he wants the “ground zero mosque” to be built, and then he wants an Iranian plane hijacked and flown right into it…moron)

    Update 1 10/14/10: And I would call this something else to keep in mind about the “‘Chamber’ of secrets.”

    Update 2 10/14/10: Here is another news flash for Gillespie & co.


    Friday Mashup Part One (9/24/10)

    September 24, 2010

  • 1) It seems that “Governor Bully” is going to be appearing on “Oprah” shortly today (probably has already by now); as noted here…

    The Oprah Show, which flashes on Garden State screens in just a few hours, features the Oprah-adulation of (Newark Mayor Cory) Booker you expect (she’s given millions herself to…Newark), but also features a warm hug from herself to the Governor. Makes me wonder if her people prepped her to understand that while we’re talking $100 million, he just pulled a $400 million dollar rug out from the rest of New Jersey’s kids.

    Also, I thought this post (cross-posted from Blue Jersey) had some interesting thoughts on that state’s public employee pension crisis, particularly the following…

    …I say we call his bluff.

    If Christie’s “reforms” go through, the NJEA (that state’s most influential teacher’s union…not sure if there are any other such organizations – ed.) ought to turn to him and say: “OK, in that case, we’re out. You are on the hook for all current obligations – but our members are no longer going to contribute. Everyone not vested gets their money back with interest; no one contributes anything more into the system.

    “Instead, WE”LL run the whole thing. We’ll move to defined contribution if we have to, but it will be better than the raw deal you’re proposing. We’ll take over all retirement benefits from now on, and we’ll be overseen by members, a public board, and federal regulators – certainly better than what we have now. So you don’t get to touch our money any more – you’re out.

    “And we’ll negotiate employer contributions with the districts. Try to stop that and we’ll see you in the Supreme Court.”

    In many ways, it would be his worst nightmare. ALL obligations would have to be met by the state’s contributions and investment returns. I’d love to see him weasel out of that one.

    Well, I can dream…

    No word on whether or not Christie would be amenable to this; as noted here, he’s been busy confronting hecklers at GOP campaign events, among other non-NJ-related events (and just what on earth is he doing traveling across the country campaigning for other GOP pols anyway?).

  • 2) Also, I’ve noticed our corporate media suddenly paying attention to American Crossroads, the Karl Rove/Ed Gillespie-fronted GOP fundraising outfit relying on a few well-off donors and corporations (as this tells us, they raised $2.6 million in August).

    That’s not bad, I’ll admit, but as noted here, Act Blue raised about $6.7 million in July and August; split the difference at about $3.35 mil apiece, and that still beats what American Crossroads did over the same period.

    Yes, I know I shouldn’t get preoccupied with the “horserace” political stuff either, but all I’m asking is that you remember this the next time you find yourself hearing more than you’ll ever want to know about Republican party activism (particularly those zany characters with their funny hats and racist/violent signs – more on them in a minute) and next to nothing about what is going on with the other side.

  • 3) Finally, if you’re like me, I’ll bet you’re just chomping at the bit, as it were, when it comes to finding out whether or not the core constituency (or so they think) of the Republican Party supports “Contract on America II” unveiled this week (and I’m talking about those “values voter” “fundies” – here)…

    Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released a statement Thursday morning on the House Republican leadership’s “Pledge to America.”

    “While I have some disappointment that the pledge to honor the values issues such as traditional marriage were not more clearly defined within the document, this is a significant improvement over the 94 Contact with America which was silent on the moral issues. The Pledge is not exceptional, but it is satisfactory, as it does lay a foundation to build upon, and it moves Congressional Republicans to a place of public acknowledgment that values issues are to be a part of the conservative way forward.”

    And I guess it should be thoroughly unsurprising to note that Perkins has said that gays should be allowed to serve “if you want a military that just does parades” (here).

    Despite that somewhat tepid endorsement, Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition stated as follows (here)…

    The agenda embraces time-honored values like traditional marriage and ending taxpayer-funded abortion as well as lower taxes and reduced spending. The message was unmistakable: we will not be divided by a false choice between fiscal responsibility and strong families. We will fight for both, and indeed we must do both if we are to restore America’s promise.

    And I thought this was particularly funny from Reed…

    Pro-family candidates are the most likely to be fiscal conservatives, and Tea Party candidates are the most likely to be pro-life.


    No word on whether or not their “pro-life” bona fides extend to those with whom they disagree of course.

    In a related note, some of our lower life forms are gathering at Shady Brook Farm in Lower Makefield, PA apparently to re-enact “Lord of the Flies,” which should begin any moment (here) – my kingdom for the EPA dome over Springfield from “The Simpsons’ Movie.”


  • Tuesday Mashup Part One (8/10/10)

    August 10, 2010

  • 1) Robert Borosage pretty much echoes my sentiments here in response to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and his complaints about “the professional left” supposedly not paying proper homage to the Obama Administration (h/t Daily Kos).

    And I thought this excerpt from here was particularly mystifying…

    Gibbs said the professional left is not representative of the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama.

    Progressives, Gibbs said, are the liberals outside of Washington “in America,” and they are grateful for what Obama has accomplished in a shattered economy with uniform Republican opposition and a short amount of time.

    As noted here by Atrios, though, it seems as if Gibbs is “walking back” these insipid remarks somewhat (and I’m sure either Broderella, Doug Schoen and/or their pals are writing another one of their “tut-tut” columns about those nasty bloggers in response and how this country craves bipartisanship above all else and anyone disagreeing with the elite Beltway pundits should just sit down and shut up).

    Update 8/12/10: Well, I got the gender wrong, but the WaPo is definitely the primary “font” of DC “conventional wisdom,” so this isn’t surprising in the least.

    I don’t have much to add here, but as others smarter than me have noted, this election is going to be about jobs, jobs, jobs. And as I’ve followed what this administration has done on the economy, it has borne out the fact that Obama, on financial matters, is basically a disciple of Milton Friedman, which he pretty much stated in “The Audacity of Hope,” inasmuch he has tried to let our wretched economy wheeze itself back to health (and anyone who argues that Obama is a Keynesian doesn’t know what they’re talking about).

    However, I believe the Obama Administration fundamentally miscalculated the amount of resistance it would face from corporate America in helping to revive employment. There was a time when I cringed and wrote off the employment numbers as a “lagging indicator,” but at this point, having progressed about a year into our supposed “recovery,” I think it is going to take more active government intervention (and more “carrots” for employers) to make a dent in the wretched degree of joblessness we currently face (again, not an original observation I know, and something that should’ve dawned on this bunch much earlier, cries of “socialism” be damned).

    On the subject of corporate resistance, this 2008 article tells us the following…

    Chief Executive magazine’s most recent polling of 751 CEOs shows that GOP presidential candidate John McCain is the preferred choice for CEOs. According to the poll, which is featured on the cover of Chief Executive’s most recent issue, by a four-to-one margin, CEOs support Senator John McCain over Senator Barack Obama. Moreover, 74 percent of the executives say they fear that an Obama presidency would be disastrous for the country.

    “The stakes for this presidential election are higher than they’ve ever been in recent memory,” said Edward M. Kopko, CEO and Publisher of Chief Executive magazine. “We’ve been experiencing consecutive job losses for nine months now. There’s no doubt that reviving the job market will be a top priority for the incoming president. And job creating CEOs repeatedly tell us that McCain’s policies are far more conducive to a more positive employment environment than Obama’s.”

    Basically, they didn’t want Obama, but they got him.

    And they’re not going to lift a finger to help him unless they’re prodded into doing so somehow (and blaming the “professional left” for this circumstance won’t help either).

  • Update 1: Yep, and what kos sez here too…

    Update 2: I know the wingnuts will have fun with this little spat, but some fights are worth having (here, and kudos to those who stood up).

  • 2) Also, it looks like the Tea Partiers are running out of money based on this (awwww)…

    The movement’s money problems suggest what may be the tea party’s central paradox — that the very anti-establishment sentiment that spawned it may keep it from having the resources it needs to become a sustainable political force.

    Many of the newly engaged activists who joined the movement regard traditional political fundraising as representative of the corrupt politics they abhor.

    “When you start chasing the money, you start having to compromise, and that’s where a lot of D.C. organizations go wrong,” said Everett Wilkinson, a South Florida financial adviser who runs two of the biggest tea party groups in Florida. “If we stay trim and we keep our overhead small, we won’t have to raise a lot of money and we won’t have to compromise. No one owns us.”

    Anecdotal evidence from Wilkinson and others suggests that many groups are being financed out of the pockets of a handful of organizers and activists.

    I guess their fundraising efforts weren’t helped by the recent paltry showing at their gathering in Philadelphia starring their hero Breitbart (here). And as noted here, RNC Chairman Michael Steele is “the gift that keeps on giving” when it comes to GOP fundraising and other matters.

    And another thing – did you know that “American Crossroads,” the Repug Party outfit founded primarily by former Bushies Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, is primarily funded by four billionaires (here)?

    As concerned as I am about tone-deaf Dems like Robert Gibbs (noted in the prior post), at least I and others of my political persuasion can take comfort from the ineptness of the opposition party.

  • 3) Finally, looks like Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin spoke today on the death of former Senator Ted Stevens in a plane crash (here – sorry about the loss)…

    It’s with great sadness that Todd and I hear the reports coming in of Senator Ted Stevens’ passing in the plane crash near Dillingham. In our land of towering mountains and larger than life characters, none were larger than the man who in 2000 was voted “Alaskan of the Century.” This decorated World War II pilot was a warrior and a true champion of Alaska.

    Of course, this is a departure from Palin’s statement here from October 2008 in which she basically threw Ted “under the bus” (snowmobile?), telling him that he “needs to step aside” due to the ethics investigation which ultimately removed him from office, though Obama AG Eric Holder eventually asked a judge to dismiss the charges the charges were eventually dismissed by Obama AG Eric Holder (here).


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