Friday Mashup (11/16/12)

November 16, 2012

  • Memo to the Bucks County Courier Times – stop publishing make-believe headlines (from yesterday) about the market supposedly reacting to the demise of those stinking George W. Bush tax cuts once and for all; as noted here, the real reasons had to do with Hurricane Sandy and weaker-than-expected earnings from Wal-of-China Mart.
  • Also, the Murdoch Street Journal was in a fit of high dudgeon recently here over the Obama Administration (of course) and what the Journal alleges is its failure to detain/imprison/subject to extralegal “rendition”/persuade to vote Republican/kill outright a certain Ali Musa Daqdug…

    The unpleasant post-election surprises keep coming. An Iranian attack on a U.S. drone in the Persian Gulf and l’affaire Petraeus came to light last week, and Monday we learned that the Iraqis plan to release a Hezbollah terrorist with American blood on his hands.

    A senior Iraqi official has told the Administration (Daqdug) may soon walk free to attack again, according to the New York Times.

    I’m sorry that’s all I have on the Journal piece, since it went behind the pay wall and I can’t access the whole thing unless I subscribe.

    (hee hee…excuse me for a minute…“subscribe to the Journal” – too funny.)

    As noted here, though…

    The U.S. believes (Daqduq) is a top threat to Americans in the Mideast, and had asked Baghdad to extradite him even before two Iraqi courts found him not guilty of masterminding the 2007 raid on an American military base in the holy Shiite city of Karbala.

    But the July 30 decision by the Iraqi central criminal court, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, ordered that Daqduq be freed immediately. It also makes it clear that Iraq believes the legal case against Hezbollah commander is over.

    “It is not possible to hand him over because the charges were dropped in the same case,” the three-judge panel ruled. “Therefore, the court decided to reject the request to hand over the Lebanese defendant Ali Mussa Daqduq to the U.S. judiciary authorities and to release him immediately.”

    It should also be noted that, according to the Status of Forces Agreement signed under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History in 2008, the U.S. was required to turn over all Iraqi prisoners by the end of 2011 (and for good measure, Huckleberry Graham said that there would be “hell to pay” if Daqdug were tried in a civilian court – that’s ridiculous as far as I’m concerned, since doing that would be the fastest way to get a conviction against these characters…do Republicans honestly think that terrorists can’t communicate across the globe with the same technology we enjoy? And if one of these life forms like Daqdug ever broke loose on our soil, do they honestly think they would be able to go undercover for very long and concoct plots before they were caught?).

    I guess the Journal and their pals on Capitol Hill are giving us a peek into the Repug playbook for the next two years at least; blame the recent election on those supposedly lazy “minority” voters because they “want stuff” and try to gin up any bit of unpleasantness related to this administration as the new “scandal.”

  • Further, this missed the cutoff for Veterans Day, though I definitely agree with the sentiment that we should do all we can to help our veterans, in particular, to find employment.

    Which makes it all the more imperative for me to tell those numbskulls in charge of the U.S. House to get off the dime and pass Obama’s American Jobs Act, as noted here (Lamborn, along with the rest of his U.S. House same-party playmates, should take note in particular).

  • Next, it looks like the pastoral leader of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is telling the Catholic faithful here to engage in acts of civil disobedience, or something, over the “contraception mandate” of “Obamacare.”

    Of course, he doesn’t say anything about people whose homes were illegally foreclosed, or workers forced to train their replacements before their jobs are sent offshore (here), or people who were illegally disenfranchised or faced that threat due to voter ID laws (here), or teachers working for no pay in PA because Harrisburg somehow can’t find money for them even though our beloved commonwealth has no trouble at all doling out stinking tax cuts for the rich that don’t generate anything except wealth for people who are already wealthy (here), or anyone advocating on behalf of man-made global warming that is slowly suffocating this planet (or fracking protests, as noted here). As far as Charles Chaput is concerned, none of that merits “civil disobedience.”

    But the “contraception mandate” does.

    I wonder if Chaput knows that these people are advocating civil disobedience also. Does that make Chaput a “tenther” after all, I wonder?

    And I wonder what Chaput has to say about this (or that former Eagle Scout, Bucks County family man Mikey the Beloved, he of the six kids including three daughters)?

  • Continuing, I give you the following from here

    (Reuters) – Corporate America is raising the volume of its plea that the U.S. government avert a year-end “fiscal cliff” that could send the nation back into recession, but chief executives aren’t pushing the panic button just yet.

    No, they’re just bleating like stuck pigs as loudly as they can in an effort to tilt the economic scales as far in their favor as possible, that’s all.

    Continuing…

    Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) CEO Brian Moynihan said on Tuesday that worries about the cliff have companies holding off on spending.

    “That uncertainty continues to hold back the recovery,” Moynihan said, speaking at an investor conference in New York.

    I always believed worrying about “uncertainty” was a crock, particularly when a better case can be made that the lack of demand was much more of a culprit, but I think this post from Professor Krugman points that out pretty well; if you look at the graph and read Krugman’s analysis, then I think you can claim that the two most recent “spikes” of uncertainty on the graph were due to the Eurozone crisis (largely out of our hands) as well as the debt ceiling debacle that Boehner, Cantor and his pals are poised to repeat (definitely under our control).

    And that’s particularly ridiculous coming from Moynihan of “Skank of America”; as noted here, in a story about the utterly craven and self-serving “Fix The Debt” coalition…

    After a decade of risky and reckless mortgage lending, Bank of America survived the 2008 financial crash with the help of a $45 billion bailout. Today, Bank of America sits on $128 billion in cash — $18 billion of it is overseas —and much of that is sitting in the company’s 115 tax haven subsidiaries.

    Last year, after investors saw their stock price decline 58 percent and 30,000 Bank of America employees lost their jobs to layoffs, (Moynihan) saw his compensation quadruple to more than $8 million. His predecessor, Ken Lewis, raked in more than $50 million in the two years before the housing bubble that Bank of America had help inflate burst in 2008.

    Instead of running around going “OMIGOD THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF OMIGOD OMIGOD!!!,” just let those Bush tax cuts die once and for all and then have Obama get together in the spring with the Senate and House “leadership” to eliminate the cap on earnings subject to Social Security withholding, preserve the home mortgage interest deduction, close some loopholes for the one percent, eliminate any tax breaks for offshoring of jobs, raise the top-end marginal rate a percentage or two and then wait for “Recovery Summer 2013.”

    (Yes, I know – if I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of spring…)

  • Moving on, this Brion McClanahan guy over at The Daily Tucker recently compiled his list of the five worst presidents here, and that would include both Roosevelts, Abraham Lincoln (seriously), Woodrow Wilson, and Lyndon Johnson (tied with Number 44).

    Number 1 is Lincoln because Number 16’s presidential predecessor Franklin Pierce opposed him (with Pierce, at the very least, being tainted a bit by scandal over his association with Jefferson Davis, Pierce’s former Secretary of War who later became president of the Confederacy; nothing was ever proved, though), and McClanahan also cites Roger Taney as someone who opposed Lincoln, with Taney being the author of the Dred Scott decision (here), so there’s no moral high ground there either.

    FDR is Number 2 on the list according to McClanahan because the New Deal was “obviously” unconstitutional; in response, I give you this (concerning conservatives and their so-called “Constitution in Exile” movement – and I’m pretty sure that “25 percent of Americans being dependent on government,” assuming that’s even true, had something to do with…oh, let me guess…that little dustup called WORLD WAR FREAKING TWO!!!)

    Woodrow Wilson is Number 3 on McClanahan’s list for “dragging the U.S. into World War I,” which is particularly funny since, at the time of his presidency, Wilson was criticized for not allowing U.S. entry into the war soon enough after the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 (we entered the war in 1917).

    And with that in mind, I give you this particularly repulsive excerpt from McClananhan (guilt by association big time)…

    It is no coincidence that two of the bloodiest military conflicts in American history took place under progressive presidents (Wilson and FDR). That alone should place them near the bottom of historical rankings.

    So what’s the order after that? TR is Number 4, presumably because he ushered in the progressive era (though of course McClanahan gives him no credit for this), and Number 5 is Lyndon Johnson, for supposedly taking us off the gold standard, when in fact FDR started us down that road in 1933 and Richard Nixon took us off the standard once and for all in 1971 (McClanahan also tries to perpetuate the wingnut mythology that that Great Society and anti-poverty programs of the Johnson administration were a failure – I think that notion got slapped down pretty well by Joseph Califano here).

    As we can all see, the wingnutosphere is particularly good at inflating its own self-sustaining bubble of misinformation, and this dreck from McClanahan is just another example.

    However, we all saw what happened when movement conservative thought met reality on November 6th. And given the fact that the right wing never seems to learn, I’m sure we’ll see it again.

  • Finally, here is the latest on the efforts of individuals in 30 states to file secession petitions (too funny).

    So these folks really want to go, huh? Well, they might want to consider some stuff from here; namely, that they’ll have to negotiate their own commerce with other states; they likely won’t have access to basic cable or other satellite systems since all of that is regulated by the FTC; they will no longer be eligible for federal funds if a disaster strikes like a hurricane; they will no longer benefit from assistance from the National Guard (think “national” here); all inmates incarcerated at state and federal levels must be released because without federal funding, many of these law enforcement protection services will be slashed dramatically (that goes for fire protection services and emergency medical services, too); medications, chemicals, food items, and other usable material or ingestible items will no longer be federally tested or regulated for safety (no more FDA); most of your state’s banking systems will no longer be FDIC insured, so you might as well kiss those greenbacks goodbye forever; any seceding state or commonwealth will have to support its own infrastructure without federal funds, including bridges, trains, highways, airports; no more help with making sure your air is safe to breathe or your water is safe to drink, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

    And in the case of Texas in particular…well, somehow I have a feeling that Mexico would take the opportunity to settle an old score or two, which poses no issue at all as far as I’m concerned.

    So, in other words…


    Works for me.

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    Monday Mashup (7/9/12)

    July 10, 2012
  • All class, Tucker – not sure what else I can add to an atrocity like this.
  • Next, I give you the latest propaganda from Investor’s Business Daily (here)…

    Political leaders continue to peddle the snake oil that we can spend our way back to prosperity.

    Many Americans believe President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Keynesian conversion beat back the Great Depression. It’s pure myth. In the 1930s, the United States doubled government outlays relative to GDP. The unemployment rate didn’t fall; instead, it jumped from 3.2% in 1929 to 25.2% in 1933 — an outcome contrary to Keynes’ doctrine.

    I think it’s utterly hilarious that IBD only considers four years of FDR’s entire term of office in its “analysis.” (if you want to read about historical U.S. unemployment rates from 1920 until the present day, click here).

    In response, I give you the following from Professor Krugman (here)…

    …there were big moves in years when nothing much was happening to military spending, notably the slump from 1929 to 1933 and the recovery from 1933 to 1936. But every year in which there was a big spending increase was also a year of strong growth, and the reduction in military spending after World War II was a year of sharp output decline.

    Yes, the unemployment numbers got worse later in the 1930s. However, that was due to a cut in government spending, not an increase (here).

    And if you don’t want to believe me, then believe that noted “Keynesian” Willard Mitt Romney himself, who said here that spending cuts would lead to “recession or depression.”

    If you want to know the real story on the drag on job growth, though, click here (and yes, I know all of this is a recording, but as long as the other side keeps lying through its metaphorical teeth…).

  • Further, Mark Krikorian of Irrational Spew Online takes a shot here at Denise Rich, former wife of fugitive financier (and Bill Clinton and Repug BFF) Marc Rich, for doing the “expat” thing and renouncing her U.S. citizenship (which, apparently, about 1,700 former citizens do a year – color me shocked)…

    I have no quarrel with people who want to emigrate. But to do so for tax reasons (which may or may not be the motivation in this instance) is, as David French put it in an exchange about Eduardo Saverin, “pathetic. Not punishable, but pathetic.”

    Why not punishable? Hey, why do the “half wingnut” when you can go “full on” with the crazy, you know?

    Well, given Krikorian’s staking out of the “America, Love It Or Leave It” ground, you would think that one of his conservative simpatico pals would be all too happy to mete out something that they approximate to justice on this score, wouldn’t you?

    Then please explain the following to me from here

    Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has a status update for Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin: Stop attempting to dodge your taxes by renouncing your U.S. citizenship or never come to back to the U.S. again.

    In September 2011, Saverin relinquished his U.S. citizenship before the company announced its planned initial public offering of stock, which will debut this week. The move was likely a financial one, as he owns an estimated 4 percent of Facebook and stands to make $4 billion when the company goes public. Saverin would reap the benefit of tax savings by becoming a permanent resident of Singapore, which levies no capital gains taxes.

    At a news conference this morning, Sens. Schumer and Bob Casey, D-Pa., will unveil the “Ex-PATRIOT” – “Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy” – Act to respond directly to Saverin’s move, which they dub a “scheme” that would “help him duck up to $67 million in taxes.”

    So two Democrats are the ones going after Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin, not, say, “Diaper Dave” Vitter and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao.

    Well, that must be why Krikorian’s fellow traveler Jeff Jacoby considers Schumer and Casey to be demagogues here, even though Krikorian is the one trying to wax poetic about those leaving the U.S. trying to sever “the mystic chords of memory” (and from the strange political bedfellows department, I give you this).

    (By the way, my thoroughly unscientific and not-grounded-in-economic-facts-and-figures analysis says that we should just leave Saverin alone, people – let’s try fixing real problems instead, such as closing the corporate tax loopholes we currently tolerate, OK?)

  • Finally, I checked in with Pastor Gerson of the WaPo today, and found that he’s still doing a predictable job of opining about matters of almost no consequence (he’s in favor of circumcision because it’s proclaimed in the Old Testament – hey, whatever).

    And I really wouldn’t care if it weren’t for the second paragraph from here

    Along with the Cologne judge (in Germany, who ruled that ritual circumcision is a “crime”), most critics of circumcision also regard it as a violation of individual self-determination, which raises religious-liberty issues larger than a single snip.

    A strain of modern liberalism contends that only individuals and their rights are real in the legal sense — and there is no other acceptable sense. It is the role of the state to defend individual self-determination against oppressive institutions, including religious institutions. Since circumcision is coerced, it is unjust. The same claim might be made — and has been made — of early religious indoctrination of any kind. Liberalism thus leads to an aggressive form of assimilation to the values of the liberal order.

    Really? Then I guess every Jewish person here is just a damn stinkin’, Mumia-lovin’, Kenyan-Muslim-Socialist-supporting tree hugger, huh?

    Basically, I don’t care that much one way or the other – I think it should be left up to the family (though this is certainly important to consider). There are sanitary reasons in favor of it (full disclosure: I had it way back when), but just because a family opts out of it doesn’t mean that they’ve fallen prey to “an aggressive form of (liberal) assimilation.”

    You gotta hand it to Gerson, though, coming up with a new and different way to completely distract us from the issues that truly matter (economy, jobs, environment, civil liberties, Afghanistan, etc.).

    Yep, the guy is sure a cut-up (sorry…couldn’t resist).


  • A Timely Recovery Lesson

    February 19, 2009

    fdr1a
    I don’t have much to add to this great McClatchy commentary by Steven Conn of the History News Service, so here it is…

    Since the economic crisis we’re now in is being compared to the Great Depression, the solutions being offered are being routinely compared to the New Deal. Republicans in particular have been quick to pronounce the New Deal a failure as a way of justifying their opposition to the new stimulus package and any other federal response to our new Great Depression.

    Congressman Steve Austria, R-Ohio, is so angry at the New Deal that he told an audience recently that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal actually caused the Great Depression: quite an achievement given that the Great Depression was already three years deep by the time FDR was elected.

    Whatever you think of the Obama administration’s proposals, to declare the New Deal a failure gets the history fundamentally wrong. The legacy that FDR created proved remarkably successful and remarkably enduring.

    The New Deal operated at three levels: first, the programs established by the New Deal worked immediately to bring economic relief; second, the long-term changes the New Deal made to the structure of our economy brought the cycles of the economy under better control; and, finally, the New Deal re-shaped the social contract between our citizens and our government.

    We usually associate the New Deal with the programs it created to put people to work, such as the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Republicans hated these programs. They denounced the WPA as “We Putter Around.” The new Republican National Committee chairman, Michael Steele, recently parroted this accusation when he tried to explain that the government never creates jobs, just work.

    But the New Deal did provide jobs to hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans, and while they “puttered” those workers managed to build tens of thousands of bridges, paved countless miles of roads, and planted 3 billion trees.

    It’s certainly true that those programs by themselves did not end the Great Depression, though they did ease the crisis for the families who gained an income because of the New Deal. So while these short-term programs operated, the New Deal created a set of long-term structural changes to the economy whose impact lasted well beyond the Great Depression.

    A few examples: Our bank deposits are protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the integrity of stock market transactions is guaranteed, or is supposed to be, by the Securities and Exchange Commission, both created as part of the New Deal. Most important, with the passage of Social Security in 1935 future generations of American workers could look forward to a more secure old age.

    Few would argue that these New Deal initiatives have been anything but successful in the roughly 75 years since their creation. Former President George W. Bush wanted to privatize Social Security and do away with FDIC. Notice that Republicans aren’t talking about that any more.

    Finally, the New Deal altered the relationship between government and the economy. After World War II, Republicans and Democrats agreed that the government should take a more active role in regulating the economy, that it should use economic policy to promote the greatest good for the greatest number, and that it was obligated to provide a social safety net. They might quibble over the details, but there was a broad consensus around these points.

    The result of that consensus was the greatest expansion of the middle class the country has ever experienced. The growth of the economy from the 1940s through the 1960s was widely shared. Conversely, when the economy did go into recession during those decades, the supporting frameworks set up by the New Deal helped keep those downturns relatively short.

    In the early 1980s, under the leadership of Ronald Reagan, conservative Republicans set about dismantling this system. Regulations were gutted or not enforced, the social safety net was largely unraveled, and government tax policy shifted money from the middle class to the wealthiest. Since 1980 the result has been a nasty recession in the early 1990s, caused by the failure to regulate the savings and loan industry, and two devastating downturns, one in the early 1980s and the one we’re in right now.

    More than that, during the 30 years in which we’ve moved away from the New Deal, the middle class has stagnated. As wealth and assets have shifted to the top 10 percent, the middle class has survived largely on credit cards and home equity loans. Now millions have no way to pay that piper.

    The system the New Deal initiated kept us from experiencing a second Great Depression for nearly half a century. We are in our current mess in large measure because we dismantled that system. Republicans would have us be afraid of a new New Deal. But based on the track record of the original, a new New Deal is just what we need.

    And just to provide “balance,” allow me to present the wingnuttia viewpoint from Repug U.S. House rep Paul Ryan from Wisconsin (who, according to this, racked up about $50,000 on trips paid for by conservative policy groups, received a 0 rating from the Children’s Defense Fund Action Council, voted to eliminate the so-called “Paris Hilton tax,” and didn’t even bother to complete the 2004 National Political Awareness Test; so much for Ryan’s notion of transparency).

    Update: This should be the last word on the stimulus, but I’m sure it won’t be.

    Update 2/27/09: That Paul Ryan can sure “wow ’em,” can’t he?


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