Friday Mashup (9/21/12)

September 21, 2012

  • Memo to Time Magazine: Even though the Repugs have obstructed legislation in the Senate in an unprecedented fashion, they are not officially in charge of that body in the legislative branch, despite the implication in your headline.
  • And speaking of Time, I came across this column on the recent finding by the Inspector General that Eric Holder and President Obama are blameless in the matter of the “Fast and Furious” gun walking operation; it’s basically a sensible piece, except for this knuckle-headed attempt at false equivalency…

    (Department of Justice Inspector General, Michael Horowitz) does dispense with one unsubstantiated claim from the left side of the aisle. Some Democrats have said Fast and Furious shows lax gun laws are to blame for the weapons trafficking that contributed to agent Terry’s death. Horowitz finds that prosecutor Hurley and ATF agents in the case did believe they didn’t have sufficient probable cause to seize weapons during Fast and Furious, and Horowitz rejects their “narrow view” of “the quality and quantity of evidence that was necessary to take enforcement action.”

    But ultimately Horowitz says it was not the legal view that prevented ATF or U.S. prosecutors from interdicting the guns in Fast and Furious, but a tactical and strategic decision to let the guns walk in order to pursue higher-ups in the gun-running, drug-smuggling and money laundering operation they were investigating.

    I supposed what Horowitz (or Time writer Massimo Calabresi) is saying is that, on some level, the “tactical and strategic decision” to continue the “gun walking” would not have continued if those who made that decision believed that laws were being broken…ergo, no law could have prevented the tragedy? Perhaps, but am I missing something? How about a bigger ATF budget for operational enforcement for starters?

    Calabresi’s column on this subject is a studious work, though, compared to that of Jake Tapper of ABC, who basically chides Obama here for blaming gun walking operations on our prior ruling cabal, even though Tapper makes no mention of Operation Wide Receiver, which predated F&F (and speaking of F&F, isn’t this interesting?).

    Much of the right-wing hectoring over this, though, had to do with some supposed Obama plot to enforce stricter gun control measures (here), which, sadly, is not likely to ever occur (and here is a shocking candidate for the voice of reason on that subject, since the Party of Obama has, except for folks like Frank Lautenberg and Carolyn McCarthy, basically punted on this life-or-death issue).

  • Turning to the subject of racism by the Teahadists (more “water wet, sky blue” stuff I know), I still think this is beyond the pale…

    …a Tea Party group is now threatening to exact revenge upon the (PA) state supreme court for refusing to uphold a law that prevents many low-income, student and minority voters from casting a ballot:

    Oh, and did you know that the New Hampshire Teahadists have been supposedly collecting data on “voter fraud” for years (here)? Any idea where this “data” is located? “Grant’s Tomb,” perhaps? Or maybe a mayonnaise jar underneath Funk and Wagnalls’ porch (a dated “Tonight Show” reference)?

    Or how about the Tea Party Voter ID antics in Ohio, as noted here? Or the Teahadists’ claim that there are supposedly 30,000 “dead voters” in North Carolina, which has resulted in all kinds of headaches for polling station workers trying to figure out whether or not that claim is actually true (here)?

    Let’s dispense once and for all with the ridiculous notion that voter ID laws are aimed at “voter fraud,” shall we? Their aim is to disenfranchise Democratic voters. Period. Full stop.

    And yes, that is indeed racist (gosh, how shocking for a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger such as yours truly to point that out! I may faint!).

  • Next, I give you more hackery from Investor’s Business Daily (here)…

    Politics: The White House claims two ex-SEALs killed in Libya were inept security guards.

    You know what? Let’s just stop it right there, OK?

    This tells us that the Obama Administration is conducting an investigation into the Benghazi embassy attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, among others, the State Department is setting up an independent panel for that purpose as well, and the National Counterterrorism Director testified about the attack at a Senate committee hearing.

    We just got through a bunch of wingnut bloviation on Fast and Furious. Let’s not start over the embassy attack also, OK (yes, I know – I can dream, can’t I?).

    Update 9/23/12: Here’s more on one of the “inept security guards” (the bar is set pretty low with Investor’s Business Daily to begin with, but they still sank too low to reach even that).

  • Finally, it looks like the Potential Repug Presidential Nominee in 2016 haz a sad (here)…

    Asked to weigh in on Mitt Romney’s comments about not caring about 47 percent of Americans, Gov. Christie today went after the media.

    “Some people in the media should just turn in their media credential and get an Obama For President credential the way they focus on things that people said back last May.

    Gee, I wonder if this has anything to do with Governor Bully’s latest snit? Say buh-bye to a high-profile slot in a (God help us) Romney-Ryan administration if he can’t deliver The Garden State for The Mittster.

    Tee hee hee…


  • Thursday Mashup (8/2/12)

    August 2, 2012

    (Note: I’ve had a bit more time to do this recently than I thought, but this won’t be the case very often, for what it’s worth.)

  • To begin, I give you some true hilarity from Willard Mitt Romney economic guru (and former Bushie – that applies to a lot of the Romney-ites, by the way) Glenn Hubbard here (here’s the “Cliff Notes” version…cut taxes, Austerity! Austerity! Austerity!, and “entitlement reform”)…

    In contrast to the sclerosis and joblessness of the past three years, the Romney plan offers an economic U-turn in ideas and choices. When bolstered by sound trade, education, energy and monetary policy, the Romney reform program is expected by the governor’s economic advisers to increase GDP growth by between 0.5% and 1% per year over the next decade. It should also speed up the current recovery, enabling the private sector to create 200,000 to 300,000 jobs per month, or about 12 million new jobs in a Romney first term, and millions more after that due to the plan’s long-run growth effects.

    You know what? At a certain point, I actually find myself running out of words for this utter nonsense; just click here to read and/or view something approximating the same degree of reality as that statement. And oh yeah, this post pretty well dismantles the magical thinking when it comes to the stated Romney/Hubbard position on this subject.

    (And by the way, nice touch for Hubbard to actually take his disagreement with Obama overseas, as noted here – oh yeah, Dixie Chicks, Dixie Chicks, Dixie Chicks…funny thing, though; they weren’t officially representing our government when they criticized Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History.)

    The Romney people simply are not serious. On this or most any other issue. Period – full stop.

    Update 8/4/12: And as more evidence of their “unseriousness,” I give you this.

  • Oh…mah…gawd – it looks like the Obama people were at fault for Solyndra after all (here)…

    “Political pressure” by a White House eager to tout its stimulus agenda was largely to blame for fast-tracking the ill-fated $535 million Solyndra loan guarantee, according to findings in a massive new congressional report released Thursday morning.

    (And gosh, how many pages were in this “massive” report, I wonder? I mean, all Mikey The Beloved and his pals ever do is complain about the size of the Affordable Care Act legislation – could this be yet another example of the Repugs trying to have it both ways? Perish the thought!)

    Oh, and by the way…

    The report, by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, caps a nearly yearlong investigation by the panel into why the government allegedly ignored red flags to approve the loan. Solyndra, a solar-panel firm, filed for bankruptcy last year.

    Surprised? Oh, and one more thing…

    The report, which follows another GOP-authored congressional study earlier this week on the “Fast and Furious” scandal, is sure to fuel an election-year furor over questionable taxpayer investments in private companies.

    About “Fast and Furious” (or, as I call it, Operation Wide Receiver 2.0), Crooks and Liars tells us the following from here (namely, if the Repugs’ own committee couldn’t fix blame on the White House, what does that tell you?).

    Also, I’ve done the whole “Solyndra!” thing to death, but if anyone still wants to read the reality point of view on this subject, click here.

  • Finally, I know I really should ignore the idiocy of John Stossel, but I guess some stoo-pid is too obnoxious to brush off (here)…

    The Olympics have gone smoothly despite — gasp! — America’s team wearing clothing made in China at the opening ceremony.

    “I’m so upset,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile, and burn them. … We have people in the textile industry who are desperate for jobs.”

    Here, Reid demonstrates economic cluelessness. It seems logical that Americans lose if American clothing is made overseas. But that’s nonsense. First, it’s no surprise the uniforms were made in China. Most clothing is. That’s fine. It saves money. We invest the savings in other things, like the machines that Chinese factories buy and the trucks that ship the Olympic uniforms.

    The Cato Institute’s Daniel Ikenson’s adds: “We design clothing here. We brand clothing here. We market and retail clothing. … Chinese athletes arrived in London by U.S.-made aircraft, trained on U.S.-designed and -engineered equipment, wear U.S.-designed and -engineered footwear, having perfected their skills using U.S.-created technology.”

    That’s free trade. Trade makes us richer.

    Anyone making that stupid argument during a period of mass unemployment rivaling the Great Depression should endure the same head slap that Stossel once endured from wrestler David Schultz (and yes, I know I’m not supposed to encourage violence, but I’ll tip-toe over the line for this occasion).

    Let’s “set the wayback” for seven years ago, shall we (March 2005 to be exact)..this tells us the following…

    SHANGHAI, March 9 – In the first month after the end of all quotas on textiles and apparel around the world, imports to the United States from China jumped about 75 percent, according to trade figures released by the Chinese government.

    The statistics bear some of the first evidence that China’s booming textile and apparel trade, unhampered by quotas, could be prepared to dominate the global textile trade and add to trade tensions around the world. The quotas came to an end on Dec. 31 as a result of an international agreement reached in 1993.

    In January, the United States imported more than $1.2 billion in textiles and apparel from China, up from about $701 million a year ago. Imports of major apparel products from China jumped 546 percent. Last January, for example, China shipped 941,000 cotton knit shirts, which were limited by quotas; this January, it shipped 18.2 million, a 1,836 percent increase. Imports of cotton knit trousers were up 1,332 percent from a year ago.

    These figures may be understated because China ships a large part of its goods through Hong Kong, and those shipments are not included.

    Fears that China is going to flood the world market with cheap textile exports have already inflamed tensions between Washington and Beijing because of worries about American manufacturing plants being closed and thousands of jobs being lost.

    And sure enough (from here)…

    MOUNT AIRY, N.C. — Jane Knudsen was a 19-year-old mother of two when she went to work in a textile mill here in 1973. Jobs were plentiful: “When you started work, you thought you’d be there until you retired,” she says.

    She didn’t make it. The mill shut down a few years ago. So she took a job with an auto supplier. Then she lost that one. Now 57, she’s a part-time cook at the Surry County jail.

    Here, in the place that inspired Mayberry of The Andy Griffith Show and in textile towns just like it across the Southeast, thousands of workers are starting over again, sometimes painfully, at ages when they thought they’d be planning retirement.

    Mount Airy (pop. 9,500) has lost 3,180 jobs in textile and apparel plant closings since 1999, the North Carolina Employment Security Commission says. The nation has lost 707,000 textile and apparel jobs since January 2000 and nearly 263,000 since a trade pact phased out quotas on textile imports in January 2005, opening the floodgates to imports.

    Those jobs won’t be coming back: The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the three occupations that will lose jobs the fastest (on a percentage basis) from 2008 to 2018 are in textiles. The bureau expects textile and apparel manufacturing jobs will drop 48% to 259,000 from 2008 to 2018.

    What a shame Mrs. Knudsen and other hard-working Americans who had the proverbial rugs pulled out from under them by idiot Washington politicians (cheered on by media stooges like Stossel) can’t land cushy jobs as conservative TV pundits instead.

    Oh, and March 2005 – now who was taking up space in An Oval Office back then? And who is it that the Repugs are doing their best to hide while they make ready for their coronation of Willard Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate in Tampa?


    Heckuva job, Dubya.


  • Another Repug “Fast And Furious” Misfire

    June 8, 2012


    As noted here

    Attorney General Eric Holder is clashing with congressional Republicans seeking more information about a flawed gun-trafficking investigation in Arizona.

    Lawmakers at a House Judiciary Committee hearing asked Holder what he knew in advance of public disclosure of a so-called gun-walking tactic in early 2011. As part of Operation Fast and Furious, agents were told to forego immediate arrests of suspected straw purchasers of guns and instead try to track the guns to higher-ups in gun-smuggling rings.

    Agents lost track of hundreds of guns which flowed south to Mexico, where many were recovered at crime scenes. Two such guns were found in the U.S. at the scene of the killing of border agent Brian Terry.

    Holder says he became aware of the gun-walking tactic at the same time as the public.

    I know it’s really difficult for the wingnuts to accept this, but could it be that Holder is actually telling the truth here? And that there actually isn’t some kind of godawful conspiracy to indiscriminately arm Mexicans so they can cross back over the border and kill us?

    Particularly since, as noted here (from here)…

    A high-ranking Justice Department official was “stunned” when he learned in 2010 that agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) allowed weapons to “walk” across the Mexican border during the Bush administration, according to recently disclosed documents.

    Documents show that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, a career federal prosecutor in a leadership position within the Obama DOJ’s Criminal Division, and other officials worked to keep the attention of the press away from the Bush-era “gun walking” tactics long before the problems with Operation Fast and Furious went public.

    “Been thinking more about ‘Wide Receiver I’,” Weinstein wrote in an email on April 12, 2010. “ATF HQ [headquarters] should/will be embarrassed that they let this many guys walk — I’m stunned, based on what we’ve had to do to make sure not even a single operable weapon walked in [undercover] operations I’ve been involved in planning — and there will be press about that.”

    And it turns out that “Wide Receiver” took place from 2006 until the end of 2007 according to TPM. And by the way, Media Matters also tells us that the ATF was trying to track down the “walked” guns in “Fast and Furious” before border agent Terry was tragically killed by at least one of those weapons.

    If Issa and his pals really want to assign blame for this admitted ATF failure, then maybe they should take a look in the mirror; as noted here, Congress has been playing games with funding the ATF for years. And as noted here, President Obama received praise from Mayors Against Illegal Guns two years ago for increasing ATF funding.

    I should probably encourage Issa to knock off this nonsense, and I do, but the only good thing is that, while these phony-baloney hearings of his are going on (and once more, thanks to all you numbskull voters out there who returned the U.S. House Repugs to power two years ago and enabled this crap), at least he can’t do any more damage to the economy, which he already has done and would do even more based on this.


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