Friday Mashup (8/22/14)

August 22, 2014
  • I give you the following from Fix Noise “Democrat” Doug Schoen here

    In November, Thomas Foley, a businessman and former ambassador to Ireland, will take on Connecticut Democrat Governor Dannel Malloy in a re-match of the 2010 battle for governor that Foley lost by about 6,500 votes.

    Foley had an easy time in his Republican primary last week, defeating State Senate minority leader John McKinney by over ten points. But taking on the sitting governor will be a difficult task.

    As I’ve discussed in previous pieces on this summer’s primaries, we are in – and have been in – for some major upsets. Chief evidence of this remains Eric Cantor’s stunning defeat as well as Hawaii Democrat Governor Neil Abercrombie’s loss just last week.

    Both Cantor and Abercrombie lost because they alienated core constituencies in their respective parties. For Abercrombie, it was “Liberals, moderates, retirees, teachers, the rich, the poor,” etc., as Daily Kos diarist Skaje points out here. For Cantor, it was teabagging wingnuts who opposed anything having to do with immigration reform (and who, as far as I’m concerned, are partly responsible for this).

    Basically, it looks like Malloy has to give Foley some kind of an opportunity to make inroads against him, and Schoen’s claim that Malloy is supposedly “politicizing” the gun issue by signing onto the common sense reforms that came out of the Sandy Hook massacre doesn’t really count as far as I’m concerned (I was pleasantly surprised to read Schoen wisely dismiss a garbage poll on the contest from Real Clear Politics, one claiming that Foley had a 7-point lead; Schoen said the race is closer to a toss-up, which, given the fact that we haven’t hit the post-Labor Day “sprint” yet in our elections, is probably right – public opinion doesn’t appear to have completely settled one way or the other yet).

    As for Foley, though, I think we should keep the following in mind:

  • He once said to unemployed Connecticut factory workers here that “it’s your fault that the plant is closing” (good one).
  • As noted here, Foley is still working on his “urban strategy” to go against Malloy in places like Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport.
  • And as noted here, Foley has claimed that he can balance budgets by cutting spending without raising taxes (yes, this is a recording), but when it comes to specifics, cue the sound of crickets.
  • Tom Foley looks like another Romney-esque “one percenter” who seems to believe that he merits political office merely by the force of his resume. Hopefully that matter will be settled once and for all after Election Day in a few months.

  • Next, I guess it’s really true that Number 44 wants to be impeached – at least, according to Repug U.S. House Rep Mick Mulvaney here

    “Believe me, let’s make one thing perfectly clear,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina in a radio interview with WQSC 1340 last week. “The only people who want impeachment more than the right wing of the Republican Party is the entire Democrat Party.”

    “Democrat” Party, huh? Bless Mulvaney’s pointed little head…

    “Oh, they’re desperate for impeachment. They would love to be able to talk about impeachment and immigration between now and the November elections. Instead of talking about jobs, and the economy, and health care. They are desperate to change the dialogue, which is exactly why you heard the president starting to talk about his amnesty cause (sic) he’s begging to be impeached.”

    Well, isn’t that just special from Mulvaney? Oh, and by the way, I’d like to point out the following:

  • Mulvaney was one of 67 U.S. House Republicans who voted against relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, as noted here (of course).
  • He said that claims that global warming is, at least, in part man-made are “baseless” here (again, of course).
  • He said in January 2011 that he didn’t “know” what the consequences would be if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, even though a report from the Congressional Research Service laid it out pretty clearly here.
  • And I think this is some overly-artful language from Mulvaney on the question of immigration reform (from here):

    “There are really two good arguments against immigration reform that have nothing to do with immigration,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.). “One is that the president can’t be trusted to enforce all sides of a compromise. … The other one is this tactical question about whether it’s a good idea to do before the election, and I don’t know if that is a settled issue yet.”

    Translated: Republicans can’t do anything on immigration because of that baaad Kenyan Muslim Socialist and because it’s too close to an election and we don’t want to piss off our base.

    And on the question of who really wants Obama to be impeached, I believe this provides some much-needed clarity on the subject.

  • Further, “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey is back to demonize as only he can (here)…

    Medical need is usually a leading factor for prioritization on the lung transplant waiting list. By that criterion, (12-year-old Sarah Murnaghan) would have likely ranked near the top of the donor list for a new lung. But a federal policy prevented children under age 12 from being considered for a mature lung until all adult candidates in the region were ruled out. This made the likelihood of Sarah receiving a life-saving transplant remote, due to the short supply of child donors.

    Sarah’s family took the fight to social media, to the Department of Health and Human Services, and to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. They asked that children under 12 be considered for adult lung transplants – using the same criteria for adult consideration – if doctors substantiated that an adult transplant would be viable.

    As Sarah herself said, “I’m not going for easy, I’m going for possible.”

    After speaking with Sarah’s mother, Janet, I took Sarah’s cause to then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. I asked the secretary to use her authority to make medical need and suitability, rather than age, the primary criteria in determining how organ donations are prioritized. I asked her to free the transplantation network to help children who needed lung transplants.

    My request was not honored.

    Toomey’s editorial goes on to tell us that the Murnaghan family filed a lawsuit to prevent implementation of the policy that prevented their daughter from receiving an adult lung transplant. The judge ruled in favor of the Murnaghans, and she received a first lung transplant that apparently did not go well, but the second transplant was successful, to the point where she “is now breathing on her own and riding her bike with her brothers and sister. She’s proof that adult organs fitted to size can work in children.”

    Only a ghoul would not take heart at this story, and be glad that Sarah Murnaghan received her successful lung transplant. However, I think the following should be noted from here

    …there’s a lot to think about here, not just the poignancy of a 10-year-old’s struggle. Current transplant policies are set up to ensure fairness — as much as possible in a system with too many patients and too few donors. While some political pundits savaged Sebelius as a one-person “death panel,” they ignore the fact that the transplant rules are designed to be democratic, based on need — to keep the rich and politically connected from cutting into line. The 12-year-old dividing line was enacted not to punish kids, but to help them — to make sure adults don’t dip into the severely limited pool of organs that become available from the deaths of children.

    The Murnaghans’ lawsuit could be viewed as cutting in line, too, except that it raises a question of bias, of eligible children being denied adult organs. In such cases, they argue, children should be rated by the other factors that go into eligibility — severity and nature of the need, length of time on a waiting list, etc.

    The numbers explain why a uniform, transparent system is morally and ethically essential. In Pennsylvania, 14 children and 148 adults are now on the list to receive lungs. Ten of those children and 42 adults have been waiting for more than a year for a call. Lungs are one of the most difficult organs to transplant — especially in children, and pediatric donations are rare. As long as demand outpaces supply, one person’s good fortune will be disappointment for others.

    So, far from criticizing one-time HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Toomey should acknowledge that she was only following established procedures based on need.

    But of course why should Toomey actually give credit to anyone having anything to do with the Affordable Care Law? As noted here, he once complained that his wife supposedly faced difficulties in signing up via an exchange, though Toomey neglected to mention in a radio address that she was eventually able to do so.

    If he didn’t deviate from the wingnut script on this then, why should he do so now?

  • Continuing (and sticking with PA politicians and health care issues), it looks like Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett signed a bill into law called the “Down’s Syndrome Education Act,” (originally sponsored by state senator Randy Vulakovich…guess which party?) which mandates that health care providers recite a script to parents who receive the sad news that their son or daughter will be born with Down’s Syndrome (to be fair, Down’s kids are very loving and creative in their way, but it’s definitely an added burden to parents to take care of them, and it’s silly to pretend that that’s not the case – more here).

    Also, I think the following should be noted from here

    According to the text of the legislation, the materials will include “up-to-date, evidence-based information about Down syndrome,” including “physical, developmental, educational and psychosocial outcomes,” life expectancy, and “any other information the department deems necessary.”

    The bill was signed into law July 18, and will take effect 60 days after that date.

    RH Reality Check asked the Pennsylvania Department of Health for the script materials, but a department spokesperson said the materials don’t yet exist. “The bill was signed on July 18 so their research into the matter has just begun,” the spokesperson told RH Reality Check.

    RH Reality Check also asked which organizations have provided information that will be used to develop the script, but that remains unclear. An early version of the bill lists the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Early Intervention, though those organizations were either removed or crossed out in the final version of the legislation.

    By signing a law mandating that doctors read a script that doesn’t yet exist, there is no way to assess if the materials are biased, or comply with scientific consensus—which is not always the case when it comes to government-mandated physician scripts, especially when the targeted patients are pregnant women.

    So a bill (titled “Chloe’s Law,” in reference to an 11-year-old girl whose father advocated for the policy) was signed into law by Corbett mandating what doctors are supposed to tell their patients in the event that they’re going to be parents of a Down’s child…but the script isn’t ready yet? Really??

    Continuing with rhrealitycheck…

    The Pennsylvania Medical Society, a professional association of doctors in the state, opposes the legislation. Their concerns aren’t just the content of the script; they don’t believe the government should be mandating that physicians read specific materials to patients at all.

    Though a disproportionate number of these bills apply only to doctors when they are treating pregnant women, states have gagged or coerced physician communications in recent years for other politicized public health issues. In 2012, Pennsylvania passed what’s been called the “doctor’s gag rule” in regard to chemicals involved in fracking, the process of extracting natural gas that many experts believe is dangerous. Since 2011, many states have passed laws making it illegal for physicians to ask patients about gun ownership or gun storage, against the “clear recommendation” of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    Still, a disproportionate number of these types of bills implemented around the country do apply only to doctors treating pregnant women. The most well-known example is medically unnecessary forced ultrasound examinations.

    Such policies have been called “misinformed consent” laws when they require doctors to relay medically inaccurate information to patients. According to the Guttmacher Institute, five states mandate that doctors relay “medically inaccurate claims of a link between induced abortion and breast cancer.” Seven states falsely assert that women experience only negative emotional responses after having an abortion.

    All told, 32 states mandate counseling designed to dissuade a pregnant women from having an abortion.

    One thing I will say in Corbett’s defense is that an extra $40 million was added to the budget for the Department of Public Welfare for people with intellectual disabilities (and Down’s certainly qualifies), so there is a bit of “walking the walk” as opposed to just “talking the talk” going on here. I don’t know, though, whether or not this is part of Corbett’s “Healthy PA” initiative, which is taking a detour and depriving PA residents of the benefits of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Law (as noted by the author here). Also, this extra $40 million is, I guess, supposed to make up for Corbett’s shortfall of related funding in non-election years, as noted here. However, one would have to be truly naive (and perhaps a bit jaded too I guess) not to see this legislation as a bit of a sop to the “pro-life” crowd (hence the fact that it was linked to the National Catholic Register).

    However, if you’re as fed up with Corbett’s antics on this and other issues as I am, then please click here to do something about it.

    Another thing I want to point out – the link above to the Register article is dated July 21st. I saw the story on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 19th.

    When it comes to News For Republicans brought to you by Philadelphia’s Conservative Newspaper of Record, I would say that they need to work on the whole “timeliness” thing.

  • Finally, in case you were wondering how long it would take for the wingnuts to politicize the horrible, cowardly murder of reporter James Foley at the hands of these ISIS butchers – well, three, two, one (here)…

    Will the videotaped execution of James Foley shock America out of our dangerous flirtation with isolationism?

    The gruesome beheading of the 40-year-old photojournalist should scream out a warning to any who still doubt: This isn’t just some war out there. It’s about us.

    “I bet they’re asleep in New York; I bet they’re asleep all over America,” says Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine in “Casablanca” as he finally abandons his own neutrality in World War II.

    Oh brother…

    Yes, Rick Blaine does indeed say that in “Casablanca,” but he does so in a remorseful, drunken stupor in the presence of piano player Sam (Dooley Wilson) after long-lost love Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) visits (noted here). The moment is anything but a display of what some might call “American exceptionalism.”

    I consider Rachel Maddow far smarter than I will ever be on this stuff, and she recently pointed out that we should remember that life forms such as these ISIS characters use murder as a tactic. They want us to jump back into that area of the world “both feet first,” if you will, with an increased military presence, so we can utterly bankrupt ourselves when it comes to our military and economic assets, to say nothing of the invaluable treasure of the men and women in our armed forces, risking life and limb at every moment.

    Am I saying not to fight back? Of course not. I’m only saying that we should do it with intelligence, mindful of the rule of law and the international cooperation so completely necessary to defeat entities such as these ISIS mongrels.

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    After all, I sincerely hope that we haven’t already forgotten what happened the last time we united behind a president who decided to “go with his gut” on the issue of terrorism as well as other matters. Have we?


  • 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).


  • Wednesday Mashup (4/17/13)

    April 17, 2013
    • Someone named Wayne Allyn Root over at Fix Noise opined as follows here

      There are no new jobs. There will be no new jobs. Creating jobs in Obama’s America is like trying to grow healthy plants in a nuclear blast zone. Obama has turned the U.S. economy into a “Hostile Work Environment.” I call it Obamageddon.

      And of course, there are zero citations for anything in this screed, which is totally typical from the media wing of the Republican Party.

      Yes, I’m sure there are smatterings of truth somewhere from Root (and at the very end of his column, he sneaks in a plug for his anti-Obama book, the latest from the right-wing outrage factory), such as payroll taxes going up (an expiration of the payroll tax cut not renewed by Congress, as noted here) and health insurance premiums going up (which has not one damn thing to do with “Obama Care,” since the exchanges aren’t due to go into effect until next year and the individual mandate, creating a whole bunch of new subscribers for the health insurance behemoths in this country, was upheld by The Supremes last year, as noted here).

      The inescapable fact is that the ultimate “power of the purse” in our government rests with the U.S. House, currently run by “Orange Man” Boehner and that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor, not Obama. And as noted here, Boehner couldn’t keep his own caucus together to get a deal even on his laughable “Plan B” on the economy, punting the decision back to Obama and the Senate, as Kevin Drum tells us (which ties back to Boehner’s practice of keeping our economy in perpetual crisis, which is bound to drag down job growth, as noted here). And as noted here, Boehner and his pals continue to sit on Obama’s American Jobs Act.

      And I’m tired of hearing about how “austerity” supposedly is the answer to our problems on the economy, including job growth (the latest debunking is here). And do you want to know where deficit reduction has come from so far? As noted here, 70 percent came from cuts in government programs, which are stimulative to one degree or another, and only 30 percent came from increased revenue (and for good measure, this omnibus post from Jon Perr of Daily Kos gives us all kinds of information on who does a better job of managing the economy between Democrats and Republicans).

      But of course this is typical for Root, who called Obama the “Marxist-in-chief” who has “declared war on capitalism” here (really?).

    • Next, Thomas Sowell at clownhall.com tells us the following (here)…

      Amid all the heated, emotional advocacy of gun control, have you ever heard even one person present convincing hard evidence that tighter gun control laws have in fact reduced murders?

      Actually, yes. And here it is, from here

      Last year, economist Richard Florida dove deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths. The disclaimer here is that correlation is not causation. But correlations can be suggestive:

      Also, here is more related info:

    • This tells us that states with looser gun laws have higher rates of gun violence.
    • This tells us that gun homicides in Missouri increased by 25 percent after the state repealed its background check law.
    • This tells us that members of law enforcement are more likely to be killed in states with weaker gun laws (as I’ve said I don’t know how many times, why the #@!$ can’t we make the discussion about guns start from the point of view of what works best for the police? And yes, I know the answer.).
    • Gosnell_MM_Pic_0417
      And by the way, I’m going to switch gears here, as it were, and add the following graphic concerning the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell (courtesy of Media Matters…I’m sick of reading and listening to wingnut caterwauling over a supposed “liberal bias” cover up on this truly horrific story, as noted here – truly sickening stuff, and Gosnell could quite rightly IMHO face the death penalty if convicted…more is here).

      Update 4/18/13: If Marsha Blackburn is involved, then the stoo-pid is thick enough to cut with a knife (here).

      From our area, Pancake Joe Pitts, Scott Garrett and Mike Kelly signed; go to Blackburn’s web site if you want to experience this idiocy first hand (the last thing I’m going to do is link to it myself – a good response is here).

    • Continuing, it should be pointed out that, while one of Rupert Murdoch’s highest profile vanity rags is quite rightly getting excoriated for journalistic malpractice while reporting the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon (here), it shouldn’t be forgotten that they also committed another affront to decency here

      Fifty years ago (on 4/16), Martin Luther King Jr. penned one of the most enduring documents of the civil-rights struggle while locked in a jail cell in Birmingham, Ala.

      His Letter From Birmingham Jail was a clarion call for the right to civil disobedience. Though first requested by an editor for The New York Times, it was in the pages of The New York Post that these words would first be printed.

      This week, the Times published a very different kind of prison letter. Yesterday its op-ed pages carried an article titled “Gitmo Is Killing Me.” It was written by Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, whom the Times identifies only as “a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay since 2002.”

      Pity the Times didn’t take a look at its own Web site before publishing. There, under a project called “The Guantanamo Docket,” is a Defense Department memo identifying the Yemeni national as “a member of al Qaeda who served on Osama bin Laden’s security detail.”

      The Post also points out that, as noted from here, Moqbel was indeed labeled as “A HIGH RISK . . . as he is likely to pose a threat to US interests.”

      However, when you read Page 3 of the 10-page “jacket” on Moqbel; you find out the following…

      Detainee traveled to Afghanistan, and stayed at a house in the Wazir Akbar Khan District of Kabul. Detainee left his passport at the house in Kabul before going to the frontlines to fight the Northern Alliance. He fought at the front lines north of Kabul as a fighter in the Sadiq Combat Unit, which consisted of approximately 15 or 16 fighters. Detainee received some pay as a fighter which enabled him to purchase needed items such as food and clothing. Detainee denied knowing (Osama bin Laden). After the US and Coalition bombing campaign initiated in Afghanistan, detainee believed it was too dangerous to be an Arab in Afghanistan; therefore, he fled the front-lines in December 2001 and stopped in Kabul. Detainee continued on to Khowst, AF, where he stayed for two weeks while he attempted to flee from Afghanistan.

      So basically, not only did Moqbel not fight against our troops, he was trying to get the hell out of Afghanistan after we invaded.

      And this guy is labeled “A HIGH RISK”? Am I missing something here? And as The Raw Story points out here, Moqbel was never even charged with a crime.

      Turning to Glenn Greenwald on this, we learn the following here (along with the fact that Moqbel is currently in the midst of a hunger strike to protest conditions in Guantanamo, which, when you learn more about it, is a national shame in and of itself, in particular the painful forced feedings endured by the inmates)…

      Moqbel…is Yemeni. More than half of the remaining 166 detainees at the camp are Yemeni. Dozens of those Yemenis (along with dozens of other detainees) have long ago been cleared for release by the US government on the ground that there is no evidence to believe they are a threat to anyone. A total of 87 of the remaining detainees – roughly half – have been cleared for release, of which 58 are Yemeni. Not even the US government at this point claims they are guilty or pose a threat to anyone.

      The Yemeni government not only is willing to take them, but is now demanding their release, using language notably harsh for a US puppet regime:

      “Even Yemen’s president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who generally enjoys close relations with the United States, has directed rare criticism at the Obama administration.

      “‘We believe that keeping someone in prison for over 10 years without due process is clear-cut tyranny,’ Hadi said in a recent interview broadcast over the Arabic language channel of Russia Today. ‘The United States is fond of talking democracy and human rights. But when we were discussing the prisoner issue with the American attorney general, he had nothing to say.'”

      “Clear-cut tyranny”, says Yemen’s president. But in January, 2010, Obama – not Congress, but Obama – announced a moratorium on the release of any Yemeni detainees, even ones cleared for release. As Amnesty International put it at the beginning of this year:

      “But President Obama adopted the USA’s unilateral and flawed ‘global war’ paradigm and accepted indefinite detentions under this framework.

      “Then, in 2010, his administration announced that it had decided that four dozen of the Guantánamo detainees could neither be prosecuted nor released, but should remain in indefinite military detention without charge or criminal trial. The administration also imposed a moratorium on repatriation of Yemeni detainees. and said that 30 such detainees would be held in ‘conditional’ detention based on ‘current security conditions in Yemen’. This moratorium is still in place.”

      I realize that Obama tried to close Guantanamo, but received push-back from Congress (and Greenwald has some interesting commentary on that also from his post). However, the matter of either charging the Guantanamo prisoners or releasing them to their countries of origin (as much as that is feasible considering whether or not they can return) is worthy of something I once heard referred to as “the fierce urgency of now” as opposed to “the somewhat tepid need to address this matter by whoever follows in office sometime after 2016.”

    • Finally, I should note from here that the Pulitzer Prizes in journalism were recently awarded; the New York Times won 4, including a team reporting award for some of the worker abuses at the Apple Foxconn facility in China. Others went to the Washington Post, the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, FLA, the Denver Post, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.Oh, and Bret Stephens of the Murdoch Street Journal won an award for editorial writing.

      OK, I’ll give you a minute to pick yourself up off the floor; no doubt that you experienced a convulsion of laughter over that last sentence that sent you falling out of your chair.

      There’s one problem, though – it’s true.

      Yes, really.

      As the story puts it…

      The Pulitzer citation said Stephens’ columns on American foreign policy and politics are incisive and “often enlivened by a contrarian twist.”

      Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot said in a statement, “We’re delighted to see our colleague Bret Stephens recognized for his influential and popular columns on foreign affairs and politics.”

      So, in the spirit of the occasion, here are some examples of Stephens with his “contrarian twist” at work…

    • Here, he lamented the supposed foreign policy failures of the Obama Administration, even though Number 44 had only been sworn into office a month ago.
    • Here, he rather disgustingly compared John Lennon to the former Communist Party strongman who shared most of his last name.
    • Here, he misrepresented the Bush Doctrine and criticized Obama for stepping up a bit on the Darfur crisis, as opposed to Former President Numbskull.
    • Here, he defended “the surge” in Iraq and criticized Obama for not giving Dubya enough credit for it (typical wingnut mythology – any gains experienced as a result had to do more with the so-called “Sunni Awakening” and “Saint Petraeus” handing out bribes like cards from a deck of poker).
    • Here, he criticized other countries for swine flu preparedness (that seems to be a particular sticking point for conservatives for some reason – guess they want unnecessary wholesale casualties to “decrease the surplus population,” as somebody once wrote).
    • Stephens once wrote that “Consistency, principled or foolish, has never been a hobgoblin of the liberal mind.” in a column where he tried to equate the outing of covert U.S. agent Valerie Plame, who made a living tracking loose nukes before Bushco blew her cover, with Eric Holder’s investigation of interrogators who “threatened to kill the children and sexually assault the mother of a key terror suspect,” as noted here (some apples with your oranges, Bret?).
    • Here (as K.O. tells us), he said that those who acknowledged the reality of global warming were “Stalinists” (and why the hell isn’t that man back on the air by now – Keith, I mean?).
    • Here, Stephens decided to look into the future in an effort to try and imagine more scenarios of failure for President Obama.
    • I cannot imagine what persuaded the committee awarding the Pulitzers into such an utterly laughable act as giving an award to this conservative hack (the fourth estate in this country continues to die a slow and inexorable death).

      Cheney
      If Bret Stephens can win a Pulitzer, then Dick Cheney can win the Nobel Peace Prize.

      Update 4/18/13: And as long as I’m discussing the Journal, I should point out that writer Peter Nicholas wrote this “news” story about Obama now choosing to lead, or whatever, in light of the fact that it took him three days to respond to the attempted Christmas plane bombing in 2009 by the guy who nearly blew up his junk instead. That appears to be accurate reporting, though.

      However, I don’t recall reading similar columns from the Journal about Obama’s wretched predecessor now choosing to lead or whatever after he waited six days to respond to the attemped plane attack by would-be show bomber Richard Reid, as noted here (see Myth 3).

      Lather, rinse, repeat…

      Update 4/22/13: And I somehow missed this earlier “gem” from Stephens.

      Update 4/14/17: Stephens recently won a gig as a columnist at The Old Gray Lady, where he no doubt will challenge BoBo as the leading white male practitioner of talking down to women, people of color and LGBTQ gender preferences – I think this is a good column to link to as a rejoinder of sorts (h/t Atrios).


    Friday Mashup (3/1/13)

    March 1, 2013
  • Did you know that conservatives are “leading” on prison “reform”? I mean, the Daily Tucker says it here, so it must be true, right (snark)…

    In conservative states like Texas, Georgia, and South Dakota, conservative policymakers have spearheaded statutory and budgetary reforms that prioritize prison space for violent and dangerous offenders while strengthening cost-effective alternatives that hold nonviolent offenders accountable.

    I have to admit that there’s a smattering of truth in that claim, but as far as I’m concerned, not much.

    To begin, I should point out that you really can’t talk about the state of prisons in this country without talking about the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). And you certainly can’t talk about the state of prisons in Texas without mentioning CCA; as noted here from 2010 about a scheme to privatize prison health care under the banner of “deficit reduction” (sound familiar?)…

    Private prisons are a big business in Texas, where the combination of federal immigration policies and one of the nation’s largest inmate populations has led to a boom in construction over the last two decades. As governor, Perry, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, has supported privatizing everything from public lands to highways, but according to Scott Henson, a criminal-justice watchdog who runs the blog Grits for Breakfast, the governor had remained largely quiet on the prisons issue—until this year.

    That coincided with an influx of campaign contributions from private-prison executives and lobbyists, among them his former top aide, Michael Toomey, a political powerbroker who represents the nation’s largest private corrections contractor…CCA, per its website, “provides health care services to male and female inmates and youthful offenders who are housed in local jails, detention facilities, and correctional institutions around the country.” (Toomey told Mother Jones he had not lobbied Perry’s office or the state Legislature on the prison health care plan; Perry’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.)

    Toomey, who had not contributed directly to any of the governor’s previous gubernatorial campaigns, opened up his wallet for two separate $10,000 donations to Perry two months before Election Day in 2010. Thomas Beasley, the founder of CCA, has given $17,000 to Perry’s campaigns over the last decade. Another private prison firm, the GEO Group, poured $15,000 into Perry’s 2010 reelection effort in 2010 through its eponymous political action committee. Luis Gonzalez, a GEO Group lobbyist, meanwhile, gave $50,000 to Perry’s reelection bid.

    Hmm, I can smell the conflict of interest like some sizzlin’ Texas beef barbecue. Can you?

    Turning to the Peach State, I give you the following (here)…

    For inmates at one Georgia prison, a one minute phone call could cost them five times more than they earn for a day of work.

    The Correction Corporation Of America’s Stewart facility, a private prison in Lumpkin, Georgia, is forcing prisoners to pay five dollars per minute to use the phone, Alternet reports (h/t ThinkProgress). The exorbitant rate would break most people’s budget, but it’s especially costly for inmates that the prison who make just one dollar per day to work at the facility.

    Faced with huge budget shortfalls, states are increasingly relying on privatized prisons to house criminals in their state and the for-profit corporations behind those prisons are coming up with various ways to maximize revenue. The money the Stewart prison is collecting from its 2,000 prisoners to use the phone helped the prison net profits of $35 to $50 million a year, ThinkProgress reports.

    Also, as noted here, what we have in Georgia, among other places, is basically a de facto criminalization of immigration. And turning to South Dakota, this tells us that the inmate population grew from “550 inmates in 1977 to more than 3,600 last year, outpacing the national prison growth rate” (in South Dakota, which comes out to about 500 percent).

    Call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but I wonder if the so-called prison reform movement by conservatives emphasizing decriminalization for non-violent offenses, which apparently is actually accomplishing some good, is also in part a feint so people don’t pay more attention to locking up illegals, which we seem to do in this country in ever-greater numbers, as well as paying attention to what is transpiring from outfits like CCA, aided and abetted by the silence of politicians who could turn over what I’m sure are some pretty unseemly rocks (including the fact that, as noted here, it doesn’t take much to draw a line from CCA back to ALEC and the Kochs – CCA ditched them, but I would argue that they did so because they didn’t need them any more).

    (Oh, and let’s not forget how the supposed “savior” of the Repugs tried to get CCA into “The Sunshine State,” as noted here.)

    Given all of that, I don’t think anyone has a right to crow about how reform-minded we supposedly are in a country where we still incarcerate a higher percentage of our population than any other nation on earth (here).

  • Next (and sticking with Tucker Carlson’s crayon scribble page), someone named Jamie Weinstein brought us the following nonsense here

    Listen to (Minnesota Dem U.S. House Rep Keith) Ellison’s plan to solve our long-term debt problem. He mentions closing tax loopholes and ending certain deductions for large corporations, citing specifically tax breaks for oil companies and special tax deductions for corporate jets. If Congress took Ellison’s advice on these two proposals, America’s deficit would decrease, at the very most, much less than $5 billion dollars a year. Our deficit last year was over $1 trillion. Our total debt is over $16 trillion.

    At best, Ellison is ignorant and/or an idiot.

    (Definitely glad I didn’t watch this clown on “Real Time with Bill Maher” recently; I understand that Maher is, first and foremost, an entertainer, but if he isn’t going to have a conservative who actually makes sense sometimes like David Frum, Rich Galen or Fareed Zakaria, then he really shouldn’t even bother.)

    I don’t know what exactly it says about Weinstein that he bothered to link to “Tiger Beat on the Potomac” for the item about oil industry subsides (worth about $40 billion) and didn’t mention the amount (here). I also don’t know what it says about him that he rather shockingly linked to a Center for American Progress post about closing the corporate jet loophole over 10 years ($3.2 billion) but didn’t provide the details, including how that would fund WIC, Head Start, Special Education, Title 1, and housing vouchers.

    And of course, Weinstein ignores what Prof. Krugman points out here – namely that the Obama Administration has already pursued deficit reduction (with the Budget Control Act and the American Taxpayer Relief Act), and all we need is about $1.2 to $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years to maintain our current debt-to-GDP ratio.

    Ellison has also proposed eliminating the damn sequester already here, along with fellow Dem Rep. Raul Grijalva, which automatically makes these two guys a lot smarter than many of the other horses asses on Capitol Hill (as noted here, Ellison did indeed vote against the Budget Control Act that created the sequester…more on Ellison railing against budget cuts, which really don’t do a hell of a lot to shrink our deficit anyway, here – also, based on this, the case can definitely be made that Obama has cut the deficit by $2.4 trillion already).

    Why Weinstein doesn’t point out any of this is a mystery to me. At best, he is either ignorant and/or an idiot (and speaking of idiots – Hannity, I mean…).

  • Continuing, I came across some true hilarity at clownhall.com here

    Liberals, whose connection with Hispanic America consists of lecturing their nannies about ensuring that little Bayley is raised in a gender neutral environment and doesn’t make toy guns out of his Legos, think all Hispanics are the same.

    In response to the life form named Kurt Schlichter who concocted this dreck, I give you this telling us, among other things, that President Obama is currently faring well with Hispanics.

    But of course it’s the “liberal establishment” that’s being driven by anger and fear.

    Sure it is.

  • Further, I give you the latest in that drama known as “As The Sequester Turns” from that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor (here)…

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Thursday blasted President Obama for touring around the country “scaring people, creating havoc” instead of working on a replacement for the sequester.

    “That’s supposed to be leadership?” Cantor asked on the House floor. “The president says to Americans that their food is going to go un-inspected, and that our borders will be less patrolled and unsafe.

    “His cabinet secretaries are holding press conferences and conducting TV interviews, making false claims about teacher layoffs.”

    I’m not going to bother pointing out once more that Number 44 is fundamentally correct on the impact due to hit us shortly, but instead, I’ll just link to this which lets us know that, as is the case on just about every other subject, Cantor has zero credibility when it comes to talking about the sequester.

    Cantor also said that the House supposedly passed an alternative and said that it’s time for the Senate to do the same – the first item is an utter lie (as noted here), and concerning the second, the Senate Dems offered a replacement, and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao and his pals did what they do best – again (here).

    (And when it comes to the sequester, let’s not forget this.)

    Update: By the way, to get some idea of the cuts coming from the sequester and how they affect PA (and nationally), click here (thanks to the office of U.S. House Rep Allyson Schwartz).

  • LeBron1_LBJ

  • Finally, please allow me to try and leave my imprint on popular culture again after reading this story.

    This item really isn’t about basketball, but to me, it has more than a little bit to do with trying to equate someone idolized in professional sport with a legendary former President of the United States (yes, Vietnam took off on his watch, but you could argue that, between the two of them, Nixon, at a minimum, presided over at least as many casualties as Lyndon B. Johnson…probably more considering that Nixon escalated the war; being the filthy, unkempt liberal that I am, I tend to equate Number 36 more with The Great Society than anything else).

    36_lbj_1
    So for that reason, LBJ, to me, should be this guy…

    lebron-james-cory-mckee
    …and not this guy.

    And for anyone thinking that I’m making a mountain out of a proverbial molehill, let me point out the conservative apoplexy that would result if a serial killer was ever brought to trial who happened to be named Ronald Reagan: Irrational Spew, The Weakly Standard and others would be making every possible effort to make sure this person was referred to in the press as “Ronald B. Reagan,” “Ronald W.T. Reagan,” “Ronald Cleophus Reagan”…whatever – you see my point.

    Now I promise I won’t bring up this subject again unless and until the day comes when a superstar hockey player arrives from the Canadian junior leagues, holds out for a multi-million dollar contract, acts in a generally boorish way towards fans across the National Hockey League…and his name happens to be Jerry Francis Kinkaid :-).


  • Wednesday Mashup (1/16/13)

    January 16, 2013
  • This post at The Hill tells us the following…

    In his op-ed of January 9 (“NLRB Targets secret ballot and private employee information”) Fred Wszolek of the right-wing Workplace Fairness Institute claims that, for the past year, the labor board has “focused almost exclusively on rewarding union bosses with decisions that hurt workers and small businesses.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

    In reality, far-right obstructionism from the GOP Congress and anti-union organizations such as the Workplace Fairness Institute has undermined the board’s efforts to protect workers’ rights and restore a modicum of balance to our labor policy.

    Let’s examine the real record of the past two years:

    As Wszolek states, the board has introduced a new rule, supported by a clear majority of its members, to eliminate unnecessary litigation and deliberate delay before employees get to vote in union certification elections. Academic research demonstrates that employers often use delay as a strategy to undermine employees’ free choice. One large “union avoidance” law firm advises employers that “time is on your side” when it comes to (National Labor Relations Board) NLRB elections – the longer employers delay an election, the longer that employees are subjected to an aggressive anti-union campaign and the less likely that they will vote for unionization.

    Instead of permitting this fair and commonsense change to take effect, however, the GOP Congress and anti-union organizations have adopted every conceivable political and legal maneuver to scuttle the new rule. As a result, American workers are still being denied the opportunity for a timely vote.

    And for other “lowlights” on the right-wing “war on workers” in this country, I give you the following:

  • This tells us how Michigan and Repug Governor Rick Snyder snuck “right to work” legislation through the state house without any hearings or debate (a six-day legislative process undid 70 years of worker protections).
  • U.S. House Repugs blocked the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) from implementing new limits on coal dust — a pollutant contributing to a steep rise in cases of black lung among U.S. coal miners (here).
  • This tells us that, without the Repugs’ attack on public sector workers (to say nothing of actually passing the American Jobs Act), unemployment would probably be around 6 percent by now.
  • This tells us how Boehner, Cantor and their pals oppose a jobs bill for veterans (some legislation in this country actually used to pass without all of this nonsense; this is an example).
  • All of these developments by the U.S. House in particular make this totally predictable, by the way.

  • Next, the right wing wouldn’t be doing what they do best unless they were demonizing those less fortunate than they are, as noted here in another attack on Head Start

    Head Start is an $8 billion per year federal preschool program, designed to improve the kindergarten readiness of low-income children. Since its inception in1965, taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on the program.

    But HHS’ latest Head Start Impact Study found taxpayers aren’t getting a good return on this “investment.” According to the congressionally-mandated report, Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants. In fact, on a few measures, access to the program actually produced negative effects.

    The HHS’ scientifically-rigorous study tracked 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either a group receiving Head Start services or a group that did not participate in Head Start. It followed their progression from ages three or four through the end of third grade. The third-grade evaluation is a continuation to HHS’ first-grade study, which followed children through the end of first grade.

    The first-grade evaluation found that any benefits the children may have accrued while in the Head Start program had dissipated by the time they reached first grade.

    Now I am definitely not an expert in education or statistics, but I thought it best to try and make sense of the report that Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation is referencing (from here) to try and verify her claims. And it is true that the study indicated that the effects of math instruction dissipated somewhat once the 3 and 4-year-olds left Head Start and enrolled in public school. However, as far as I’m concerned, that begs the following question: how would the kids have fared if they had received no Head Start instruction at all?

    Besides, the report also tells us the following:

    At the end of the Head Start year, there was strong evidence that the Head Start group demonstrated better skills on the following six child outcomes related to children’s language and literacy development: (1) Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) (vocabulary); (2) Woodcock-Johnson III (WJIII) Letter-Word Identification; (3) WJIII Spelling; (4) WJIII Pre-Academic Skills; (5) Color Identification; and (6) Letter Naming.

    Parents of children in the Head Start group reported that their children had greater emerging literacy skills at the end of Head Start than did parents of children in the control group.

    And as far as “cognitive” impacts go (also from the report)…

    At the end of 3rd grade, the most striking sustained subgroup finding was related to children from high risk households. For this subgroup, children in the 3-year old cohort demonstrated sustained cognitive impacts across all the years from pre-K through 3rd grade. At the end of 3rd grade, the Head Start children from high risk households showed favorable impacts on the ECLS-K Reading Assessment, the WJIII Letter-Word Identification, and the teacher-reported reading/language arts skills. This was in contrast to the impacts for children in lower and moderate risk households, for whom there were no impacts.

    Oh, and for the record, someone from the American Enterprise Institute also lambasted Head Start in similar terms over a 1998 study here. And as noted here (third bullet), Joe Klein engaged in some typical sock puppetry over Head Start as well, citing an unnamed Obama Administration official who called Head Start a “jobs program” (if this person truly believes that, then he/she should have had the intestinal fortitude to go on the record). And as noted here from about two years ago…

    [T]he Frederick County, Maryland, Board of County Commissioners voted to end the county’s contribution to its Head Start program, cutting overall funding for the program by more than 50 percent. Two of the Republican officials justified their decision to cut Head Start — which provides early childhood education to the children of low-income parents — by saying that women should really be married and home with their kids, thus rendering the program unnecessary…

    Typical for a bunch of troglodytes, I guess (the point of Head Start isn’t to turn poor kids into geniuses, but to give them help so they can compete with children who have better means than they do…and if they somehow do become geniuses, all the better).

  • Further, in case anyone was wondering what former Iraq war cheerleader Michael O’Hanlon was up to, wonder no more (here, in a column in which he basically praises outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton)…

    It is the president, and not Clinton, who bears considerable responsibility for at least two mistakes in the region. Obama raised hopes that his presidency could lead to a better rapport with Iran — hopes dashed by the stolen 2009 Iranian elections. He also sought to get Israel to freeze settlement activity as a precondition for peace talks. That idea was reasonably motivated, but ineffective.

    I must, however, acknowledge Clinton’s shortcomings in at least two policy debates. On Syria, we remain at a loss for what to do. The administration’s caution, while understandable, has become counterproductive in light of the tragedy there. A more forward-leaning U.S. support for the opposition looks warranted.

    Sooo…it’s Obama’s fault that Iran’s 2009 elections were a joke and “Bibi” isn’t going to stop building those damn settlements anytime soon. I guess Number 44 wasn’t “transformative” enough.

    O’Hanlon also tells us the following…

    This is not to say that Clinton was an historic secretary of state. Even an admirer, such as myself, must acknowledge that few big problems were solved on her watch, few big victories achieved. There was no equivalent of success in the Cold War, or Henry A. Kissinger’s work on President Richard M. Nixon’s opening to China. There is not likely to be a Clinton Doctrine to rival George Kennan’s containment policy, or the various doctrines associated with Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

    As noted here, George Kennan (who had more foreign policy knowledge in his fingernail than O’Hanlon has in his whole body) spent some of the last years of his life railing against Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History’s war of choice in Mesopotamia, which O’Hanlon supported at a time when he should have followed Kennan’s example instead (here).

  • Continuing, U.S. House Rep of Kansas Mike Pompeo (R-Koch) propagandizes as follows (here, courtesy of “Tiger Beat On The Potomac” as Esquire’s Charles Pierce calls Politico– funny)…

    …energy prices, most particularly natural gas prices, will not be materially affected by exports at levels that are likely to occur. Natural gas prices are projected to go up regardless of exports. They are already rising from less than $2.00 per million cubic feet earlier this year to $3.50 currently.

    As noted here, though…

    The glut of recent gas production was initially driven not by new technologies or discoveries, but by high prices. In the years from 2005 through 2008, as conventional gas supplies dried up due to depletion, prices for natural gas soared to $13 per million BTU (prices had been in $2 range during the 1990s). It was these high prices that provided an incentive for using expensive technology to drill problematic reservoirs. Companies flocked to the Haynesville shale formation in Texas, bought up mineral rights, and drilled thousands of wells in short order. High per-well decline rates and high production costs were hidden behind a torrent of production—and hype. With new supplies coming on line quickly, gas prices fell below $3 MBTU, less than the actual cost of production in most cases.

    So it sounds basically like the natural gas “bubble” has deflated somewhat and Pompeo is trying to re-inflate it (Gosh, you mean we’re set up for another “bubble to bust” cycle? Color me shocked!).

    This about par for the course with Pompeo…

  • As noted here, he called global warming graduate school-level internships “radical,” even though they were developed under Number 43, not President Hopey Changey.
  • He also opposed tax breaks/subsidies for wind energy companies, even though he has never had a problem with same for Big Oil (here – by the way, as noted here, this country is on a path to energy self-sufficiency partly as a result of production of biofuels).
  • In a non-energy development, he compared Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain here (see, Clapper had what I guess Pompeo would call the temerity to say that Iran hadn’t decided whether or not they want to build a nuke, an assessment shared by our “friends” in Israel).
  • And as noted here, Pompeo is one of the Repugs leading the loudest charge against the EPA and its supposed “job killing” agenda (when someone discovers an actual job that was actually killed by an actual EPA regulation enacted by this administration, let me know, OK?).
  • Pompeo also opposed the creation of a CPSC database that “would allow people to make informed decisions on product safety, having access to injury reports on things like toys, cribs, and strollers” here.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat (too easy I know, but I gotta say it)…

  • Finally, as noted here, the Obama Administration commendably faced up to the issue of guns today, with 23 executive orders and pending legislation that, unfortunately, faces a very real prospect of defeat (but for now, let’s think positive).

    Prior to that, though (as noted here),

    A Texas congressman vowed to try to impeach President Obama if he moves ahead with plans to control guns by executive order and onetime U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese says it is not far-fetched.

    Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican from the Houston area, called Obama’s plans to skirt Congress and implement some controls administratively “an unconstitutional and unconscionable attack on the very founding principles of this republic.” He also threatened to defund the White House.

    “I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment,” Stockman said.

    Meese, who was the nation’s top law enforcement officer in the Reagan administration, told Newsmax Stockman would have support for such a move – and a good case.

    “It would not be legal. It would not be constitutional,” Meese said. “And, indeed, if he tried to override the Second Amendment in any way, I believe it would be an impeachable offense.

    I think it’s hilarious for Fix Noise or anyone else in the wingnutosphere to obtain the supposed legal counsel of former Reaganite Ed Meese, of all people (I guess Alberto Gonzales was busy).

    As far as Stockman is concerned, Think Progress tells us the following here

    In his first House tenure, Stockman received criticism for his office’s handling of a letter that appeared to be evidence in the Oklahoma City bombings — a note his office was slow to deliver to the FBI and also sent to the National Rifle Association. He also wrote a controversial letter to the Department of Justice objecting to raids of anti-government “citizen militia” groups.

    Last week, Stockman proposed a repeal of all gun-free school zones, claiming that such laws have “placed our children in even greater danger.”

    Yep, don’t have to worry about Stockman’s wingnut bona fides, all right.

    As for Meese, it should be noted that his former boss, The Sainted Ronnie R (who, more and more, wouldn’t stand an electoral chance in his own party were he to run today), understood the need for common-sense gun laws, as noted here (along with the two who followed him in office, as noted here).

    And it’s really funny for a white-collar crook like Meese to give anyone a lecture in the law; as noted here

    Meese’s personal ethical problems stemmed from his involvement in the Wedtech scandal, when he was accused of various financial improprieties (i.e., not reporting lobbying income on his tax returns that, in all probability, would have come from Wedtech, a company that lobbied the Reagan Administration for a $32 million contract to make engines for the Army, despite the Army’s conclusion that Wedtech didn’t have the infrastructure or the capability to do the work). In his public capacity, Meese came under fire in November 1987 for his alleged role in the Iran-Contra affair; he failed to give President Reagan sound legal advice, did not investigate the scandal fully, and may have participated in a cover-up. Several days after this story broke in the press, 3,000 Federal prisoners who had arrived in the U.S. on the Mariel boatlifts from Cuba took 130 other inmates hostages in 2 prisons in protest of a diplomatic accord that would have deported them. (The contention is made) that the same character flaws which were apparent in Meese through the Wedtech and Iran-Contra investigations led to serious mismanagement of the prison riots. Progress toward a resolution of the riots occurred only when Meese began to lose authority as a negotiator.

    Yep, ol’ Eddie sure made a bee line to NSA headquarters when the Iran-Contra scandal broke to make sure the most incriminating documents were shredded the letter of the law was followed.

    In closing, I just want to point out another item from Think Progress; as noted here, the NRA ran an ad in opposition to Obama that mentioned the president and Michelle’s two daughters.

    Wow.

    Sopranos_5556530_Sm1
    In the words of Bill Maher referencing the Valerie Plame scandal, even the mob doesn’t go after your family.


  • Thursday Mashup (1/10/13)

    January 10, 2013
  • This post at The Hill tells us the following…

    The 112th Congress adjourned last week without reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The failure of Congress to pass either the Senate- or House-approved (S. 1925 or H.R. 4970) versions was the by-product both of partisan wrangling, as well as acerbic personal attacks that were later derided by the Huffington Post as “incendiary and extreme.”

    But the last-ditch negotiations between Vice President Joe Biden and House Leader Eric Cantor side-stepped the most important question of all: Are VAWA-funded programs working?

    Most VAWA funds are directed to beefing up the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence. But according to Angela Moore Parmley, PhD of the Department of Justice, “We have no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women.”

    Really? Then how come we learn from here that “VAWA has dramatically reduced intimate partner violence: the Department of Justice estimates the reduction at 64% from 1993 to 2010. “

    And as noted here

    Since 1994, this landmark legislation has been funding clinics, shelters, and hotlines for victims in crisis across the country, and provided tremendously important tools for law enforcement to crack down on abusers and rapists. Over the past year, VAWA has trained 500,000 law enforcement officers and judicial officials, and provided a national crisis hotline that served 264,000 victims.

    The first Hill column with the anti-VAWA point of view was written by E. Everett Bartlett, president, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments.

    And yes, SAVE is indeed a right-wing “astroturf” group, as noted here. As Laura Basset of HuffPo reported, SAVE’s treasurer “has a major financial interest in reducing immigrant protections,” with SAVE Services having strong ties to a group called Encounter International, which, in one case, matched an American with a Russian bride who claimed that she was beaten regularly by him (not going to pretend that I know the whole story, but I only want to point out what is at least a potential for conflict of interest).

    As far as I’m concerned, SAVE can participate in whatever legal business it chooses. However, it shouldn’t pass itself off as an advocacy group as well.

  • Next, Mikey the Beloved is back for the new Congressional session, this time with a gimmicky bill to freeze the pay of federal workers (here).

    Want to know why this is a bad idea? From here

    Federal employees already have sacrificed $103 billion over 10 years to deficit reduction $60 billion of which has come directly from freezing salaries in 2011 and 2012. President Obama has delayed until April the already-paltry 0.5% adjustment proposed for 2013, so the actual raise would amount to just 0.25% for the fiscal year. Yet even that tiny increase isn’t harsh enough for Congressman Fitzpatrick.

    Rep. Fitzpatrick has decided to add insult to injury, literally, by maligning the federal employees in his district and proposing to punish all federal workers with an entirely unwarranted extension of the pay freeze for all of 2013.

    Reducing the salaries of federal workers through an extended pay freeze is a cheap political ploy, AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. Not only does it inflict tremendous damage on the families of these modestly paid workers, more than half of whom are veterans, but it also hits the communities where these employees live, since they will continue to be unable to afford any kind of economic activity beyond paying for the bare necessities of living.

    Gosh, what a shame those pesky government workers can’t pull down $175K a year like you do, huh Mikey?

    And Fitzpatrick’s U.S. House pal Bob Latta is opposing a medical device tax in the Affordable Care Act (here).

    As noted here, though…

    I heard convincing arguments in favor of the tax from … several executives of medical device making firms in Massachusetts! Bob DeAngelis, an executive with Katahdin, told me that he had no problem with the tax and didn’t see it having much impact on his 150-person firm. “I’m not terribly upset we’re going to have a tax on medical devices. I think it’s overblown,” he said. “Scott Brown says we ‘shouldn’t be taxing the job creators.’ That sounds great but what does that mean. He’s not talking about me. I’m going to hire based on people buying my product.

    Oh, and as noted here, Latta is pretty stinky on the environment too, voting against increased federal protections for Lake Erie, which is a bit of a problem with Latta being from Ohio and all.

  • Further Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Teahadist) agreed recently here with Flush Limbore when the leader of Johnson’s political party drew a line connecting marriage equality with pedophilia.

    I realize this is “water wet, sky blue” stuff, but this is particularly repugnant for Johnson, who is a thoroughly loathsome character in his own right, partly because he once spoke out in support of the Green Bay, WI diocese while it sought to shield itself from litigation over pedophile priests (here).

  • Nixon_YMQUD00Z

  • Continuing, it should be noted that yesterday was the 100th birthday of a certain Richard Milhous Nixon (I also had some related video here), and with that in mind, Fix Noise “Democrat” Doug Schoen referred to Nixon as a “liberal” here (if he were still alive, Number 37 would no doubt have brought the full weight on the Feds down on that toad Schoen in response for such an alleged calumny, which is a comment on Nixon’s paranoia and authoritarian streak more than anything else).

    And central to Schoen’s largely specious argument is the following…

    Though Nixon, and other Republicans in the 1970s, would never have expressed it in this way, our 37th president was a pro-big government, pro-public spending, and pro-social safety net president.

    Nixon was not only a fervent supporter of the Clean Air Act, the first federal law designed to control air pollution on the national level; he also gave us the Environmental Protection Agency. The creation of the EPA represented an expansion of government that would face fierce opposition were it being debated today. The EPA is also one of the agencies on Capitol Hill that the business community most detests—along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which polices working conditions. OSHA is another Nixon creation.

    Well, I’m not sure exactly how “fervent” Nixon was about clean air, but as far as the Clean Water Act is concerned, Nixon was so “fervent” that he vetoed it, and when Congress overrode his veto, Nixon impounded the money (more on Nixon and the environment is here, and here too, to be fair).

    Basically, from a distance, Nixon looks like a giant on the environment partly because our problems with air and water pollution in particular were so horrific that all he had to do was not stand in the way of progress originated by others to look like he was accomplishing something.

    If you want to give Nixon props for being somewhat “green,” I suppose that’s OK, though (more of a comment on future ruinous Repug presidents by comparison, though: mainly The Sainted Ronnie R and his “son”). However, let’s not forget one of Nixon’s most enduring legacies that haunt us to this day, and that is his nurturing and perpetuating of white rage in pursuit of what now looks to be fleeting electoral glory for his party.

  • And as an example of what Tricky Dick has wrought, I give you this bit of pointless fluff from the Roger Ailes BS Factory (here), criticizing Dem U.S. House Rep Sheila Jackson-Lee for saying that entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security are “earned” (with the word in quotes to imply that Jackson-Lee is wrong, which she isn’t – more info here…kind of ridiculous that it still has to be pointed out after all this time).

    And since we’re talking about the TV and online equivalent of rabies after all, I’d like to call attention to the following comment…

    SJL_Gorilla_010713

    And this was one of about 4-5 gorilla-related comments (and the one I highlighted actually got about 5 “likes”).

    Stay classy, Foxies!


  • Wednesday Mashup (10/24/12)

    October 24, 2012
  • Mikey The Beloved’s PR’s service notified us of the following recently (here)…

    Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is criticizing the Veterans Administration for awarding bonuses to employees at a time when there’s a massive disability claims backlog, improper payments have made national news and a systematic pattern of mail destruction is plaguing the agency.

    Fitzpatrick, the 8th District Republican, said the Philadelphia regional office, where the problems have occurred, has received $1.4 million worth of bonuses in the past three years.

    “These are taxpayer dollars being spent to reward a system that is in chronic failure,” he said. “If employees at the Veterans Administration are getting bonuses when they’re failing, what incentive do they have to fix the problem, and who’s holding them accountable?”

    By the way, it should be noted that the bonuses were discovered by the VA’s Inspector General, not Congress, something Mikey’s loyal stenographer Gary Weckselblatt dutifully omitted (here), leaving the reader the impression that Mikey and his pals in Congress somehow discovered it themselves. It should also be noted that a bill has been introduced to curb VA bonuses, as noted here.

    All of this is nothing but typical grandstanding, though, when you find out that the party of Fitzpatrick, Boehner, Cantor, Todd Akin, etc. decided that veterans’ benefits should be on the budgetary “chopping block,” as noted here. And it’s not as if Mikey has such a shining voting record concerning our vets, as noted here.

    Besides, does Mikey really want a comparison between current VA head Eric Shinseki and Bushco’s Jim Nicholson (here)? It looks like the current benchmark is 125 days to turnaround claims, but it was 145-150 under Bushco (still too long, but better). And this tells us how Nicholson underestimated VA funding requirements by $2.6 billion, expecting to provide care originally for about 25,000 of our military in 2005, though he ended up having to more than quadruple that figure. Oh, and there was that matter of veterans’ info that fell prey to identity theft under Nicholson’s tenure also (here).

    And for good measure, this tells you about Number 44’s efforts overall on behalf of our veterans.

    If you’re as fed up with Mikey’s antics as I am (not just on veterans issues, but everything), then click here to donate to Kathy Boockvar or help with the “get out the vote” effort (less than two weeks to go).

  • Next, I give you the following from one of Mikey’s U.S. House playmates, and that would be Sam Graves of Missouri (here – I can’t find anyone running against Graves, so I assume he’s unopposed; love to be wrong because Graves needs an opponent)…

    The Obama administration’s relentless government expansion has become a disturbing pattern. Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) report today (October 23) is a devastating list of the president’s failures and misplaced policies. The common thread is the drastic expansion of government’s role, without being too picky about the means. The attitude seems to be that nothing can or should stand in the way of this big government agenda – not the law, not the people’s representatives, not the deliberative legislative process envisioned by our nation’s founders.

    As chairman of the Committee on Small Business, I follow closely the effect of these decisions on small businesses. Job creators are frozen by the Administration’s tax and regulatory policies, and the fear of more.

    Taxes are a big part of the cloud of uncertainty looming over our job creators.

    To begin, I don’t know how Graves can claim that Obama has “expanded” government when he has, in fact, shrunk it, so much so that he was actually attacked for that in a campaign ad by Willard Mitt Romney and Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv here. On top of that, this tells us that two Goldman Sachs economists pointed out that “uncertainty” is just a normal part of an economic recovery, and we’re starting to come out of that (with the caveat being that I personally don’t consider our repeated cycle over the last 30 years or so of going from bubble to bust economically as “normal”).

    Here is more on Graves, including his support for “Jesus Q. Nutbar,” otherwise known as Todd Akin, his vote in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (abortion already isn’t federally funded because of the Hyde Amendment – this is a recording), his vote in favor of a government shutdown over the debt ceiling hissy fit even though he voted to raise the debt ceiling in 2004, etc.

    As I always say, there are people out there who actually vote for these characters.

  • And speaking of characters, the Old Gray Lady recently opined here on The Republican Former 43rd President Who Shall Not Be Named…

    He does not speak on the stump or appear in television ads. Campaign audiences rarely hear his name.

    But aside from President Obama and Mitt Romney, no one has shaped the 2012 election more than George W. Bush — on the economy and on the foreign policy issues in the spotlight during the final presidential debate on Monday.

    For Mr. Romney, the battered reputation of Mr. Bush represents a burden to minimize in a tight race for the White House. The two have not appeared together this year.

    When an audience member asked about Mr. Bush in the debate last week, Mr. Romney separated himself from what he characterized as Mr. Bush’s shortcomings on the budget deficit and on trade with China.

    For Mr. Obama, Mr. Bush’s economic record offers a shield against voters’ wrath over high unemployment and slow growth; majorities in polls describe the nation’s economic woes as something the incumbent inherited rather than caused.

    Continuing…

    Mr. Bush’s former aides chafe at criticism of his record from fellow Republicans, as well as from Democrats. Tony Fratto, a spokesman in the Bush White House and the Treasury Department, rebutted both of Mr. Romney’s barbs from the debate last week.

    “There are good reasons why we didn’t balance the budget,” like the fight against terrorism, Mr. Fratto said. On trade, “we were very effective with the Chinese” in paving the way for a rise in the value of its currency, to the benefit of American businesses.

    Oh, by the way, I should note that this column was written by John Harwood. That explains the cowardly tactic of paraphrasing a supposed reason from a former Bushie, basically acting as Fratto’s stenographer instead of showing the courage of whatever convictions Harwood has and making Fratto go on the record with an exact quote.

    Also, It’s funny to hear Fratto justify, on the one hand, whatever it was that Dubya supposedly did for China’s currency (color me skeptical on that one), while, on the other hand, Romany criticizes China as a currency manipulator here (actually getting something right for a change…see “Blind Squirrel” and “Nut”). Which one is it?

    The real howler from Fratto, though, is the line about how the GLOBAL WAR ON TERRA! TERRA! TERRA! was supposedly responsible for Dubya’s wretched non-management of our government’s finances under his watch; this provides the reality point of view on that subject (#3 in particular).

  • I guess that’s a bit of a transition to this idiocy from Investor’s Business Daily (here)…

    Election ’12: From Moscow to Caracas to Havana, something disturbing is happening: Dictators with long records of enmity toward the U.S. are endorsing Obama for president. What does that say about the Obama presidency?

    Fresh from abusing Venezuela’s opposition after his own rigged re-election, Chavez declared, “If I were American, I would vote for Obama. He is my candidate.” It was his second direct endorsement of Obama in a week. After that, he spooled off his plans to impose socialism on his country.

    Around the same time, Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuba’s ruling communist capo Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, told CNN: “As a citizen of the world, I would like for (Obama) to win.”

    She added: “Obama deserves a second chance and he needs greater support to move forward with his projects which I believe come from the heart.”

    One or two silly endorsements from movie stars or Honey Boo Boo are one thing.

    But with this president, there’s a sustained and disturbing pattern of America’s enemies signaling preference for Obama over the alternative as U.S. president.

    In the case of Chavez and the Castro oligarchs, it’s obvious enough that Obama governs in a way that resembles their own — increasing state employees and state dependency, ruling by decree, singling out companies for punishment, and engaging in a cult of personality where the state is replaced by the leader.

    You want to talk about presidents and dictators, IBD? Really?

    OK, then, let’s go way back to here, where Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger endorsed the murderous brutality of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, playing a role in the coup that ousted Socialist (for real) Chilean President Salvador Allende and installed Pinochet, igniting a “reign of terror which Pinochet’s secret police extended around the South American continent and across the globe.”

    Also, let’s go here, where The Sainted Ronnie R made nice with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and our former pal in Iraq, none other than Saddam Hussein himself.

    And as far as Reagan’s “son” is concerned, the following should be noted from here, according to human rights attorney Scott Horton, as well as Glenn Greenwald (doing Tricky Dick and The Gipper each one better, you could say)…

    “We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship. The constitutional rights we learned about in high school civics were suspended. That was thanks to secret memos crafted deep inside the Justice Department that effectively trashed the Constitution. What we know now is likely the least of it.”

    And as far as Obama “increasing state employees” (not totally sure what “state” IBD is talking about here)…well, once again, I give you the reality point of view here.

  • Finally, I give you the latest from the right wing umbrage factory, The Daily Tucker in particular (here)…

    If you ever wanted a glimpse into potentially just how rabidly left-of-center your average MSNBC viewer is, you had an opportunity this morning during the “What have we learned today?” segment on “Morning Joe.”

    As the Tuesday broadcast of “Morning Joe” was wrapping up, co-host Mika Brzezinski introduced viewers to 9-year-old Annabelle.

    “I have Annabelle,” Brzezinski said. “She is nine and a half. She has four brothers so she kind of feels my pain this morning. But Annabelle, who do you think should win the election, Annabelle?”

    Annabelle replied, “Mitt Romney,” which was met with a chorus of boos on the show’s live set at Racks Downtown Eatery and Tavern in Boca Raton, Fla.’s Mizner Park.

    “Booing a 9-year-old girl?” co-host Willie Geist said. “Clean it up.”

    Um, if you actually watch the video, you’ll see people laughing over it, OK? In other words, it…was…a…joke.

    (By the way, if you want to hear an audience booing someone or voicing disapproval for real over a political matter, click here.)

    Oh, and I give you this from the Daily Tucker item…

    “Booing a 9-year-old girl, a lot of these people must have come down from Philly or something,” Time magazine’s Joe Klein added.

    Oh, ha and ha, Joe (yes, we know the “short hand” by heart…Philly, the place where they booed Santa Claus, etc., etc.).

    Well, maybe I’m being a little thin-skinned myself here I’ll admit, but as long as Klein is bad-mouthing Philadelphia, let me share this item I happened to come across recently (here)…

    We can all agree that Philly gets a bad rap in the national media, especially when we witness wedding parties duking it out at the Society Hill Sheraton (“One dead, 3 held in wedding free-for-all,” Oct. 8). However, just a few blocks away, a number of Philadelphians showed their true colors.

    My 19-year-old daughter, a freshman at Drexel University, was out with one of her classmates on Church Street in Old City on the afternoon of Oct. 4. Her classmate (a Dallas native) was a few steps ahead when my daughter started to black out and have a seizure. A passerby saw what was happening and quickly caught her just before her head hit the sidewalk. Her friend turned around to see my daughter convulsing on the sidewalk. The friend then saw people pour out of nearby shops, offering assistance, bringing water and blankets, and calling 911. EMTs arrived within minutes and rushed her to the ER at Hahnemann.

    Fortunately, my daughter came out of it fairly quickly and is now OK.

    Her friend from Dallas was blown away at the random acts of kindness and how quickly everyone responded. As a parent, I thank God, the guardian angels watching over my daughter, and the good Samaritan who caught my daughter before she split her head open on the sidewalk.

    I am equally thankful for the other Philadephians who stepped up, did the right thing, and showed my daughter how kind and caring we can be as residents of this great city. This story will never make the national media, but it is a story that will be in our hearts for all eternity.

    John Pogas
    Hatfield, PA

    And if I were to venture a guess, I’m sure there were more than a few sports fans in the crowd that came to the aid of the daughter of Mr. Pogas.

    One more thing – I’m sure none of the people in Boca Raton Klein was bitching about ever acted as sock puppets for one-time U.S. House Rep Pete Hoekstra (here).


  • Friday Mashup (9/14/12)

    September 14, 2012

  • Really, Foxies? Our embassies are being “overrun” (here)?

    Not according to this

    KHARTOUM/TUNIS (Reuters) – Fury about a film that insults the Prophet Mohammad tore across the Middle East on Friday with protesters attacking U.S. embassies and burning American flags as the Pentagon rushed to bolster security at its missions.

    The obscure California-made film triggered an attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya’s city of Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans on Tuesday, the anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001 al Qaeda attacks on the United States.

    In Tunis, at least five people were wounded by police gunfire near the U.S. embassy, and a Reuters reporter said a big fire had erupted within the embassy compound. Protesters had earlier leapt over the compound wall.

    Witnesses said Sudanese police fired tear gas at thousands of protesters to stop them approaching the U.S. embassy outside Khartoum, but some jumped over the wall. A Reuters reporter heard gunfire from the scene.

    In a related story, I thought this was a highly interesting development concerning the former “sugar daddy” of one-time Repug presidential hopeful Former Senator Man-On-Dog (somehow I have a feeling that Not Your Father’s Republican Party has a hand, however small it may be, in all of this anti-Muslim propaganda that has currently inflamed an area that is highly flammable already – fits in too nicely with the whole “October Surprise” mentality)…I think this is worthwhile reading on this subject also (Update: More good stuff from C&L here…worthy of a donation, I’d say).

  • And yes, we are indeed in the “silly season” when Frank Bruni of the New York Times can write about the recent Democratic National Convention and concoct the following (here)…

    AT their party’s ebullient convention last week, the Democratic politicians with an eye on the 2016 presidential contest were out in full force and almost in full stride, never mind that 2012 has yet to be settled.

    Martin O’Malley, the Maryland governor, popped up here, there and everywhere. Mark Warner, the Virginia senator, was nearly as ubiquitous. And Joe Biden made the fiery most of a prime speaking slot just before President Obama’s.

    But all of them knew that their efforts would probably be for naught and their aspirations in vain if a certain someone who was then half a world away decided to reach — again — for the White House. Like a poltergeist in a pantsuit, Hillary Clinton haunted Charlotte.

    I give you Clinton Derangement Syndrome on display, my fellow prisoners.

    And speaking of the Times (a bit late to clean out my “in” bin, I’ll admit), The Moustache of Understanding gives us a description of what constitutes a “hard working day” for our corporate media (here, singing the praises once more over how wonderful “globalization” allegedly is)…

    Technology and globalization are wiping out lower-skilled jobs faster, while steadily raising the skill level required for new jobs. More than ever now, lifelong learning is the key to getting into, and staying in, the middle class.

    There is a quote attributed to the futurist Alvin Toffler that captures this new reality: In the future “illiteracy will not be defined by those who cannot read and write, but by those who cannot learn and relearn.” Any form of standing still is deadly.

    I covered the Republican convention, and I was impressed in watching my Times colleagues at how much their jobs have changed. Here’s what a reporter does in a typical day: report, file for the Web edition, file for The International Herald Tribune, tweet, update for the Web edition, report more, track other people’s tweets, do a Web-video spot and then write the story for the print paper. You want to be a Times reporter today? That’s your day. You have to work harder and smarter and develop new skills faster.

    I’m sorry, but with all due respect to the many hard-working news professionals of the Times, Friedman really should shut his jowling yap over the supposedly heroic efforts of his fourth-estate brethren.

    Particularly when you consider this

    According to a recent survey from Millennial Branding and Payscale, Millenials really are most likely to be employed in service industry jobs. So, all those jokes about post-graduation latte pouring and t-shirt folding haven’t been in vain. And while it might be comforting to think of these jobs as necessary way stations on the path to an upwardly mobile future – especially if you’re someone who holds one – there’s mounting evidence that the American labor market may never return to its pre-recession composition. The future is already here and it brings with it low-wage temporary or contract work as a way of life.

    I know of at least one college graduate with a BA in education who can’t find work in our school district, so she waits tables at an Applebee’s instead. A friend of mine works for a company where someone with an MBA in finance was just hired as an executive assistant (her most visible job within the company appears to be filling up Outlook meeting calendars for the owner). Many of the folks living in the development of Le Manse Doomsy are never home because they’re either working at least two jobs or longer hours at one, or both.

    We have an employment crisis in this country. And we have had one for some time. And we’ll still have one whether or not President Obama is returned for another term or (God help us) Former Governor Etch-A-Sketch, Weather Vane Willard Mitt and Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv take over this fall.

    So you’ll forgive me if I tell you that I don’t give a crap about what an allegedly hard time Tom Friedman’s fellow journos have it at The Times, what with having to labor under the oppressive yolk of “tweeting,” filming Web videos, reading other “tweets” and filing news reports with an occasional update before it’s time for happy hour.

    And all the while, Obama’s American Jobs Act continues to sit in the U.S. House for a year and counting (here), having been stalled by “Man Tan” Boehner and that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor.

  • Next, I have a little “compare and contrast” from a couple of days ago in the matter of Obama HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; first, I give you Jake Tapper of ABC News (here)…

    President Obama was notified today by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that one of his key Cabinet officials violated the Hatch Act, the law that restricts the political activity of anyone employed or holding office in the Executive Branch except for the President and Vice President.

    Carolyn Lerner, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel concluded that Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act when she served as the Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker at the February 25, 2012 gala for the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    The event was billed as official travel, and she appeared at the event in an official capacity, but in her remarks – which departed from her official text – she advocated for the election of Lt. Governor Walter Dalton in his primary and general election race for governor, and for the re-election of President Obama, saying, “one of the imperatives is to make sure that we not only come together here in Charlotte to present the nomination to the president, but we make sure that in November he continues to be president for another four years.”

    After media inquiries following those remarks, the Department of Health and Human Services “retroactively reclassified the event as political,” the OSC report states, and reimbursed the federal government for the costs of her travel.

    When asked about her remarks in an interview with OSC investigators, the report says Sebelius “expressed regret for the statements” regarding Dalton “since there were ‘other primary opponents who were close by.’” She said her “‘shout out’ came across ‘as an endorsement.’” She allowed that her comments about President Obama were “a mistake” and an example of her again going “off script.” “I clearly made a mistake,” Sebelius said. “I was not intending to use an official capacity to do a political event.”

    Lerner did not recommend that any action be taken against Sebelius.

    On the same day concerning the same story, the Daily Tucker screeched as follows (here)…

    The Federal Times (a Gannett publication, I think) suggests that Sebelius may be fired for her illegal activity. “The finding could possibly cost Sebelius her job,” the outlet reported. “Although OSC did not recommend any specific punishment, and said Obama will decide how to punish her, Hatch Act violators are usually fired.”

    Dan Epstein, the president of good-government group Cause of Action, told The Daily Caller that since Sebelius is a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee, she isn’t entitled to a review from the Merit Systems Protection Board — one that that could reduce her penalty if she were a career staffer.

    “Sebelius doesn’t get (Merit Systems Protection Board – I guess Tucker doesn’t have any copy/style editors) Review so there’s no ability for the MSPB to lower the penalty to a suspension and the Board isn’t entitled to review,” Epstein said. “If Sebelius wasn’t a cabinet member or a PAS (Presidentially Appointed and Senate Confirmed) OSC would proceed by filing a complaint with the MSPB.”

    “Thus the point is that by Close of Business on September 12, 2012, the President has been informed of a Hatch Act violation and yet has decided not to fire Sebelius,” Epstein added. “The President has therefore decided to overlook the improper political activities of his appointees when in their official capacities. He has effectively said it is okay to politicize the executive branch.”

    WAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Oh, give me a freaking break! Sebelius was probably jet lagged or something and forgot where she was. Grow up!

    And I don’t know what the hell Cause of Action is (I hardly think it’s a “good government group”), but this tells us that Epstein recently alleged that there are 174 “secret” ACORN (!!!!!) organizations (cue the scary sounding background music – of course, in the world of reality, we know that ACORN no longer exists).

    Besides, as noted here, I’ll “see” Tucker Sebelius’s mistake and “raise” him Lurita Doan of the Bushco GSA, who actually oversaw Hatch Act violations, though she was too busy playing stupid in front of the House Oversight Committee under Dem Henry Waxman to be nailed without a subpoena.

    Update 9/18/12: Leave it to The Daily Tucker to double down on the stoo-pid here.

  • Continuing, I give you this choice nugget from Repug U.S. House Rep Joe (“You Lie!”) Wilson of South Carolina (from here, attacking President Obama on foreign policy…again)…

    President Ronald Reagan’s national security approach of providing peace through strength kept the United States and our allies safe for decades.

    I know the bar is already set pretty low for Wilson, but I think it’s particularly disgusting for him to invoke the memory of The Sainted Ronnie R a mere two days after we observed the anniversary of the worst foreign-based attack in our history, made possible in no small part because Number 40 decided to arm the mujahedeen in Afghanistan (including bin Laden) against the former Soviet Union (here).

  • Finally, it looks like Repug senators John Thune and Kelly Ayotte, among other culprits, are all aghast over President Obama supposedly not “leading” in the matter of increasing defense spending in his proposed budget (here).

    In response, this tells us the following from last May…

    The White House today reacted to news that representations of President Obama’s budget had been voted down by the House and Senate by decrying the introduction of the amendments, by Republicans, as “gimmicks.”

    “Gimmicks are not solutions,” White House press secretary Jay Carney emailed to ABC News. “The American people overwhelmingly support a balanced approach to our long-term budget challenges. That’s the approach the President supports. The sooner Republicans drop their intransigence and join the American people in supporting a balanced approach, the sooner Congress will be able to come together and reach a compromise.”

    I guess the Repugs figure that we’ll just forget about their playing political games at the behest of their campaign contributors as opposed to practicing actual governance for the benefit of the people they were ostensibly elected to represent.

    It would be truly depressing if it turned out that they were right.


  • Some Thoughts On The Affordable Care Law Ruling

    June 28, 2012

    (Note: I am loathe to use the wingnut shorthand of “Obamacare,” which, I believe, belongs to Newsmax, Drudge, the Murdoch Street Journal, The Daily Tucker, NRO, and the other usual suspects, but NEVER on a lefty blog or a site that has anything whatsoever to do with the Democratic Party.)

    I just have some random observations here and not much of anything else.

    To begin, I have to admit that I expected the individual mandate to be struck down and the health care law to be basically maimed. The fact that it has been strengthened by The High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR (and with JR himself casting the deciding vote) is a cosmic wonder to yours truly (oh, and please explain to me again how Justice Anthony Kennedy is supposedly a moderate, since he basically wanted to can the entire law, as noted here?).

    However, something we need to remind ourselves (lost amidst all of the propaganda on this issue) is the fact that the Affordable Care Act is basically the product of a conservative think tank and a Republican former governor of Massachusetts (one Willard Mitt Romney, who of course is running away from that shocking stroke of common sense with all speed). It was borne from the fact that health care costs continue to rise for U.S. businesses and hurt competitiveness (to say nothing of the misery faced by the uninsured), and the Act, fully implemented, would make use of health care exchanges set up by the states with federal funds, with said exchanges being composed of private insurers offering competitive coverage at what should be affordable rates because of competition in that market for real at long last (really, when you think about it, this was a win-win for Roberts…he guts the individual mandate and the wingnuts love him, but he rules as he did today and helps businesses anyway while doing the right thing for a change).

    So, when you hear about Eric Cantor and the rest of his foul ilk saying that they will try once again to repeal it, as noted here (which they can’t do for the moment anyway, as noted here), try to imagine the horrific real-world impact of that action. And while you consider that, realize once more why it’s important to make sure the Democrats hold the Senate in November and President Obama is re-elected (if, God help us, the Repugs take over the entire federal government, this bit of good news won’t mean anything since they’ll abolish the Affordable Care Law once and for all – of course, electing Democrats in the House and re-installing a “D” trifecta among the executive and both legislative branches will enshrine the law even further).

    Oh, and speaking of the elections, I have a message for Kathy Boockvar (running against Mikey the Beloved, who has also pledged to repeal the law) and every other Democrat seeking federal office:

    Forget the polls saying “well, gee, a majority of the U.S. opposes the law, but they favor the provisions.” To me, the only way that cockeyed explanation makes sense is when you consider how our corporate media has completely and utterly FAILED to educate and inform its viewers and readers on this issue (here). It looks like, then, it’s up to Democratic politicians and filthy, unkempt liberal blogger types such as yours truly to try and right that egregious wrong.

    For now, though, we have a cause for celebration, as well as a huge sigh of relief.

    Update 6/29/12: Nail. Hammer. Head.


    Wednesday Mashup (4/25/12)

    April 25, 2012

    (Testing, testing…is this thing still on :-)?)

    OK, allow me to back up and do some ‘splainin’ here…

    I pretty much walked away from this site about a year and a half ago out of total disgust, keeping Blogger as my main platform for this kind of thing. Not with WordPress as a blogging platform, I wish to emphasize, but with the impending Dem loss of the U.S. House, including the PA-08 seat of Patrick Murphy to “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick (guilty of this recent, particularly heinous moment which, in a manner utterly true to form, has been thoroughly ignored by his house organ, the Bucks County Courier Times). Also, at the time, I wasn’t sure if the Senate would fall either, but thanks to the intervention of the teabaggers, who made sure that “Yes, Wiccan” O’Donnell was nominated in Delaware along with Sharron Angle in Nevada and John Raese in West Virginia, the Senate remained under the control of the Dems. I wanted the post with the Rachel Maddow video to remain as the first thing a reader saw at this site as a “J’Accuse!” gesture of sorts (I think it’s safe to say that, after all this time, I’ve made my point).

    Well, Blogger is now thoroughly hosed when it comes to fairly long, textual posts and I have neither the time nor the desire to figure out how to deal with the problem. So, on the infrequent, oft chance that I am able to generate content again, I’m planning to do so here for the immediate future.

  • And with that boring pretext out of the way, allow me to bring you the following from the New York Times on Monday (from here)…

    Under federal labor law, employees have the right to join together to seek better pay and working conditions, with or without a union. If an employer tries to punish organizers, employees have the right to seek protection from the National Labor Relations Board. But employees still don’t have the right to be informed of their rights.

    Last August, the N.L.R.B. issued a rule requiring employers to post a notice in the workplace telling employees of their rights. The rule was prompted by the board’s finding that young employees, recent immigrants and workers in nonunion workplaces were generally unaware of the law’s guarantees and protections.

    The backlash was furious. The National Association of Manufacturers sued to block the rule in federal court in Washington, D.C. The United States Chamber of Commerce sued in federal court in South Carolina. In both cases, industry claimed that the law did not expressly permit the board to require employers to post a notice.

    And yes, to answer the question, those opposing the notice were acting typically ridiculous, thus inspiring this video.

    If you want to understand exactly how much this notice (at the very least) needs to be posted, click here to find out how Target has been fighting the efforts of its workforce to form a union (including making a video using unionized actors, believe it or not), click here to read how T-Mobile workers were trying to do the same thing (its parent company in Germany employs a unionized workforce, though that isn’t the case here – Dem U.S. House Rep Tim Bishop and Dem Sen. Richard Blumenthal supported the effort, as noted here), and this tells us how workers at Station Casinos started a seven-day hunger strike in an effort to unionize, and have faced a campaign of illegal intimidation and firings as a result.

  • Next, Ken Blackwell is back to attack Hillary Clinton (some things never change), including taking a shot at the new START treaty (here – in response, this tells us the following)…

    The treaty commits the former Cold War enemies to each reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 – 30% lower than the previous ceiling.

    Mr Obama said it was an important milestone, but “just one step on a longer journey” of nuclear disarmament.

    Mr Medvedev said the deal would create safer conditions throughout the world.

    If ratified by lawmakers in both countries, the treaty will replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) of 1991, which has expired.

    Update: My bad – should have noted that, despite the caterwauling of Repug Sen. Jon Kyl, the treaty was ratified by the Senate, as noted here, and a particularly brainless update is here.

    Blackwell also whines as follows…

    This is the same Russia whose foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, Hillary famously gifted with a red “Re-set” button on their first meeting. That was to signal the new administration in Washington wouldn’t fuss about Russia’s 2008 aggression against the Republic of Georgia.

    In response, this tells us how the Obama Administration, far from acting like wallflowers while the Russia/Georgia conflict simmers, brokered the following deal…

    At the end of last year, the final roadblock to Russian entry into the (World Trade Organization) was Georgia’s insistence that Russia agree to increase transparency of trade across Russia’s borders into Georgia’s breakaway autonomies of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. (WTO rules allow every member the right to veto a country’s membership, and Georgia, as a member, could do so with Russia.) The August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia led to Russian military occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Moscow’s recognition of the autonomies as independent states. Even before the war, however, Russia controlled both sides of the crossings into Abkhazia and South Ossetia and staunchly refused access to either Georgia or international monitors.

    While Russian membership in the WTO has been a priority of the Obama administration’s Russia policy, the administration has also made a point not to pressure Georgia into giving its consent. The administration thus insisted to Moscow that it had to negotiate the conditions for its accession directly with Tbilisi, while it underlined to Tbilisi the importance the United States placed on a successful agreement.

    The result is, on paper, a spectacular success. The WTO agreement provides a novel mechanism for monitoring trade between Russia and Georgia across Abkhazia and South Ossetia (as well as at their third, already functioning, land crossing in undisputed territory). Both governments have agreed to report data on trade to the WTO and to affix electronic seals on outbound cargo to facilitate the tracking of goods. They have also agreed to allow a private company to confidentially monitor trade and to recommend, on the basis of that monitoring, the inspection of cargo by either party. Finally, the agreement establishes a mechanism for arbitrating disputes.

    Blackwell should really avoid anything more substantive than attacking children’s television programs, as noted here, which is actually more of his speed.

  • Finally, someone named John Hawkins at Clownhall.com presented five “devastating” numbers that supposedly show Number 44’s “incompetence” (here).

    1) The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.”

    This is from an analysis from Mark Knoller of CBS News, who, as noted here, has a history of absolving Former Commander Codpiece of any financial wrongdoing and laying all blame at the feet of Number 44.

    Besides, as Media Matters points out…

    In 2001, President George W. Bush inherited a surplus, with projections by the Congressional Budget Office for ever-increasing surpluses, assuming continuation of the good economy and President Bill Clinton’s policies. But every year starting in 2002, the budget fell into deficit. In January 2009, just before President Obama took office, the budget office projected a $1.2 trillion deficit for 2009 and deficits in subsequent years, based on continuing Mr. Bush’s policies and the effects of recession. Mr. Obama’s policies in 2009 and 2010, including the stimulus package, added to the deficits in those years but are largely temporary.

    The second graph shows that under Mr. Bush, tax cuts and war spending were the biggest policy drivers of the swing from projected surpluses to deficits from 2002 to 2009. Budget estimates that didn’t foresee the recessions in 2001 and in 2008 and 2009 also contributed to deficits. Mr. Obama’s policies, taken out to 2017, add to deficits, but not by nearly as much. [The New York Times, 7/23/11]

    Continuing…

    2) This country has already lost its AAA rating, we’re 15 trillion dollars in debt, we have 100 trillion dollars in unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities…

    The reason we lost our Triple-A rating was because of the dithering of Man-Tan Boehner and that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor on raising the debt ceiling. The debt was mentioned previously, and Social Security (which, as noted here, is projected to drop off funding to about 70-80 percent in 20 years, which is still more funding than what is paid out today…more here) has nothing to do with the deficit. And yes, we need to look at Medicare, but even that isn’t the biggest driver of the debt.

    3) We’re now up to 1,091 days without a budget despite the fact that it’s the most basic function of Congress and it’s required by law.

    Oh brother – as noted here

    HONOLULU — President Obama agreed on Friday to delay a request to Congress to expand the government’s borrowing authority by $1.2 trillion, allowing lawmakers time to return from recess and register their views on it.

    The delay, which a White House official said would be only a few days, will not jeopardize the operations of the government, as last summer’s impasse over the debt ceiling did. The budget agreement of Aug. 2, which broke that deadlock, has made it highly unlikely that Congressional Republicans could block an increase in the debt limit through the 2012 election. Since signing legislation to codify that agreement, Mr. Obama has already obtained two increases totaling $900 billion.

    And as noted here, Boehner and his pals are making noise like they might renege on the debt deal later this year (figures).

    4) One of the great ironies of this election is the still rabid support that black Americans have for Barack Obama. This is kind of like Columbine High School throwing a “We Sure Do Miss You” Memorial Rally for Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

    Let’s see, tasteless, racist, and utterly inaccurate all at once? Yep, pretty much.

    And as noted here

    During an exchange with Fox News analyst Juan Williams during a debate in South Carolina on Jan. 16, Gingrich defended previous statements that poor kids lack a strong work ethic, that they should be put to work as janitors (child labor laws be damned), and that black Americans should “demand jobs, not food stamps.”

    “Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?” Williams asked.

    “No,” Gingrich responded, to roaring applause and rolling laughter. “I don’t see that.”

    “It sounds as if you’re speaking to belittle people,” Williams added later in the exchange.

    “Well, first of all, Juan,” Gingrich said, “the fact is, more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.”

    This statement, while technically true, is no more reliable as a factual observation than other conservatives’ claims that Obama has governed during the highest unemployment spike in decades, or that his presidency has overseen the biggest national debt in history.

    All three statements may be true on their face, but they lay responsibility for the greatest recession since the Great Depression at the feet of a man who wasn’t even president when the economic floor caved.

    Funny, but I don’t hear Democrats questioning the work ethic of men and women of color. And I know that’s a little tangential to job numbers, but it does have something to do with stigmatizing the employment prospects for a rather significant demographic in this country.

    And in terms of economic policies that actually help African Americans, Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett said here that unemployment funds are a stimulus of sorts, earning her the right-wing umbrage noted here.

    More to the point, though, this tells us the following…

    Even here, the black employment outlook is mixed. Black men appear to have gained jobs since February 2011 in manufacturing, construction and the service sector. And while government employment held steady this month, deep staff cuts in state and local government have hit black women particularly hard. Indeed, government agencies, a sector that has slashed about 500,000 jobs since February 2010, employed just over one-quarter of black women before the recession began. That has caused the number of black women with jobs to fall, although that number held steady in February, (Bill Rodgers, a Rutgers University economist who studies inequality) said.

    The issue is spending to create demand not just to spur hiring for a racial class, but an economic class that will lift all of the proverbial boats, as it were.

    And concluding with Hawkins…

    5) The average unemployment rate during George Bush’s time in office was roughly 5.3% as compared to 8.2% today, which is part of the longest streak of over 8% unemployment since the Great Depression. However, because of the way the unemployment rate is calculated, even those horrific numbers don’t give you the full sense of the Mt. Krakatoa-like havoc that Barack Obama has wreaked on the job market.

    In response, please click here to read each of the three charts, including the last one, showing job losses from Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History and job gains under the current occupant of An Oval Office.

    Oh, and one more thing: Hawkins begins his screed with the following…

    Whether you’ve had some form of head trauma that has caused you to like Barack Obama or like all good hearted people, you can’t stand him, his performance has objectively been terrible.

    I realize that violent imagery and veiled threats of physical harm are right out of the typical right-wing playbook (along with typically pejorative, “us versus them” rhetoric about how all “good hearted” people can’t stand Obama), but I would just like for this fool Harkins to consider something here.

    This is a picture of the late actress Natasha Richardson, who died three years ago last March. She fell while on a skiing trip and, indeed, suffered the “head trauma” that Harkins apparently thinks is something to use to ridicule those with whom he disagrees. She left behind a grieving husband and two young boys.

    Find a conscience somehow, you contemptible guttersnipe.


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