Friday Mashup (8/31/12)

August 31, 2012
  • I guess I should start with the proverbial low-hanging fruit, and it’s hard to go lower than Michelle Malkin (here)…

    While all eyes were on the Republican National Convention in Tampa and Hurricane Isaac on the Gulf Coast, the White House was quietly jacking up the price of automobiles and putting future drivers at risk.

    Yes, the same cast of fable-tellers who falsely accused GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney of murdering a steelworker’s cancer-stricken wife is now directly imposing a draconian environmental regulation that will cost untold American lives.

    It’s almost too easy when even the OMIGOD-What-Will-Chris-Christie-Do-Or-Say-Next Philadelphia Inquirer provides the rebuttal, but they do here

    …for an estimated 500,000 people, the mandate that automakers achieve an average fleet fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 also means they’ll be driving to new jobs.

    Many of those jobs will be generated by Detroit, as automakers invest $300 billion in tooling up to build better vehicles, but independent experts predict that other industries will also add jobs as a result of the fuel standards.

    Beyond that, the benefits to the environment will be seen in reduced smog. And the nation should become more secure by being less dependent on foreign oil.

    Given those gains, it’s unfortunate that partisan politics still have Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in an ideological box on this issue. Romney campaign officials this week called the new fuel standards “extreme,” due to the added cost of producing cleaner cars.

    In fact, the mileage standards have earned support from automakers and environmentalists alike. President Obama smartly united the groups by sticking to an aggressive mileage goal while at the same time assuring General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and automakers that the policy would get a sensible, mid-course review.

    Maybe the only thing extreme about the process was its success.

    (Media Matters has more on this here.)

    Oh, and one more thing – Joe Soptic lost his health insurance when his company was taken over by Romney and Bain Capital and he was booted. After that, his wife lost her job due to a shoulder injury (losing her insurance), and she was diagnosed with cancer afterwards. So yes, there is no direct cause-and-effect relationship between Soptic losing his insurance and his wife dying from lack of coverage.

    But can we all agree that Soptic losing his insurance certainly didn’t help his wife’s battle with cancer? (If you want to read more about this, click here…and yes, Glenn Kessler of the so-called “respectable” corporate media really is that big of a dick – and with typical Malkin understatement, she alleges that Obama is saying that Romney killed Soptic’s wife, when of course nobody is saying that, nor, to my knowledge, has anyone on the Obama side ever said that.)

  • Next, Louie Gohmert and The Daily Tucker combined for more idiocy here, including the following…

    Gohmert drew on an observation of former U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen that “our biggest national security threat is our overspending. But there are other national security threats. We’ve had thousands killed and the media’s not talking about it. We need to talk about it.”

    “There have been thousands killed since this president took over — thousands of our military,” Gohmert added. “They beat up on [George W.] Bush every day another soldier was killed. They were out there showing coffins and things. But not with this president.”

    “This president has put in place rules of engagement, that certainly were put there under his command, that are getting our people killed.”

    Gohmert went on to observe Obama’s public promise to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014. The president, he concluded, has “left these guys out there with rules of engagement that don’t allow them to adequately defend themselves.”

    The Texas Republican calls those rules of engagement “politically correct stuff.”

    For the record, this tells us that the Afghanistan rules of engagement were put in place by former Gen. (and head of U.S. forces there) Stanley McChrystal and were modified by incoming Gen. David Petraeus after McChrystal left (and how sad is it for Gohmert that it was so easy to refute him that Fox did it?)

    Yes, people, water is wet, sky is blue, and Louie Gohmert is still the stupidest life form in the entire galaxy (more evidence is here).

    Also, though this is a bit tangential (but it does have to do with foreign policy), I’ve withheld comment until now on the story of the Navy SEAL who basically outed himself as one of the members of the team that killed Osama bin Laden when he wrote a book about it (and by the way, I don’t care if bin Laden was unarmed when he was shot). And I hadn’t planned to say anything until I read this defense of Fix Noise for publishing his name from “Z on TV” himself, David Zurawik.

    Soooo…Fox “did nothing wrong” even though Zurawik admits that he has a “low regard” for the network? And Zurawik thinks Penguin Group, the book publisher, is just “a big commercial publishing house that exists first and foremost to make money”? And I suppose the Fox TV network is a non-for-profit enterprise, then? And Zurawik quite rightly doesn’t trust Fox, to the point where he waited for corroboration on the SEAL’s name from the AP – that’s fine, but doesn’t “Z” realize that Fox let the genie out of the proverbial bottle, not the AP, and it would have been awfully difficult for the AP to try and put the brakes on that story? And Zurawik also says that “anyone who writes such a book has no reasonable expectation of privacy”?

    Gee, under that logic, then “All The President’s Men” by Woodward and Bernstein (of course) should never have seen the light of day, since Mark Felt (who outed himself as Deep Throat before he died) should have had “no reasonable expectation of privacy”?

    As noted here, the SEAL who went public with his identity (his pseudonym is “Mark Owen”) so he could get a book published blaming Obama has subsequently put his life in danger for it. And that is unfortunate.

    Yes, he served his country, and he deserves our thanks. But am I the only one who thinks that going public like that was a pretty damn stupid thing to do, if for no other reason than because people who don’t like us can now use that information to try and go after his family, friends, and other service members who once served with him?

  • Continuing, I should note that I read this about Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv-In-His-Pocket Paul Ryan’s speech the other night, and I’m glad to see that he has been busted on the myriad lies and half-truths he uttered in front of an audience of willing sycophants and TV viewers, some of which I’m sure may be (and perhaps still are) undecided.

    The point of me commenting like this isn’t to add to the chorus of people proclaiming quite rightly that Ryan is a liar. Here’s what I’m wondering about; Ryan tells everyone who will listen that he’s a Roman Catholic.

    Well, aside from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (who also quite rightly have said that what Ryan espouses has nothing to do with their faith and the faith that Ryan claims to practice, or words to that effect, here), where is the voice of the head of the archdiocese of Ryan’s congressional district?

    Well, apparently Tom Gallagher of the National Catholic Reporter was wondering the same thing; the following is an excerpt from here (dated last May)…

    I looked up Rep. Ryan’s congressional district in Wisconsin and to determine whether it was within the Milwaukee archdiocese’s jurisdiction or within the jurisdiction of the Madison diocese. I emailed the Offices of Communication for both dioceses and asked for a clarification.

    I wanted to see whether Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee or Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison have publicly reached out to Rep. Ryan to discuss his “moral failure” of a federal budget proposal and his acute misunderstanding of Catholic social teaching.

    What I found was both interesting and distressing.

    Instead of hearing back from (Julie) Wolf (communications director for the Milwaukee archdiocese), I heard from Jerry Topczewski, who it turns out is a seasoned public relations executive and chief of staff for Archbishop Listecki. He offered this response:

    “Archbishop Listecki has not made any public statements that I am aware of regarding the budget proposal nor, to my knowledge, has he spoken to Congressman Ryan regarding the budget proposal. Although a portion of Congressman Ryan’s congressional district overlaps the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Congressman Ryan lives in the Diocese of Madison. Recently, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the USCCB, made some comments regarding the budget proposal in a response to a reporter’s question. You may want to review his comments.”

    I followed up with this email question:

    Is it accurate to conclude then that Archbishop Listecki plans no formal engagement with Rep. Ryan with respect to the Congressman’s “understanding” of Catholic social teaching and Rep. Ryan’s budget proposal?

    Mr. Topczewski: “No.”

    My next follow-up email question:

    So going forward, will Archbishop Listecki publicly engage Rep. Ryan about his ‘understanding’ of Catholic social teaching and its application to the federal budget?

    Mr. Topczewski: “I haven’t asked him.”

    My next email question:

    Will you kindly present my questions to Archbishop Listecki and ask him to respond to the questions?

    Mr. Topczewski: “It is Confirmation season, so the Archbishop’s schedule is very busy. If I get the chance to ask him, I will let you know.”

    I asked if I could have responses by this past Friday so I could file this story, but I have not heard back. If Mr. Topczewski responds to these questions, I will be sure to give him and Archbishop Listecki plenty of space.

    Gallagher’s story also tells us that Morlino’s office said “This is an issue where the Congressman [Ryan] speaks well for himself. He is very aware of the demands of lay mission in the Church and he is free to carry that mission out as he does. There is no need for us, nor are we in a position, to enter into this discussion.”

    Oh, and did I point out that Archbishop Listecki referred to the church as a “corporation” here (as an astute commenter noted, if Listecki really believed that, then why does the church still have tax-exempt status…Update: The corporation comment probably same from the same mindset as this)?

    So basically, on the issue of Paul Ryan’s thorough and complete misunderstanding of Church teaching on the economy, the Catholic Church hierarchy (in Ryan’s district in this case) did what it does best…

    Heckuva job.

    Update 9/1/12: Say Amen, somebody (here).

  • Finally, did you know that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History has “moved on with his life”? That’s what his brother said here the other night at the Repug Smear Fest And Misinformation Festival in Tampa…

    “He has moved on with his life,” (Jeb) Bush said. “I send him emails once every two weeks to say, ‘all I meet are people that love you,’ which is true. I am not making that up. In this hall people were saying, ‘I worked for your brother, history will prove him right on a lot of things.’ There’s a lot of goodwill for George W. Bush, but he also knows that he needs to stay out of the way. Back to this idea that you blame W. for everything: the common cold, breakout bacne (sic?), rain; so I think he smartly has taken a step back and let the Romney-Ryan ticket take the attention that they deserve.”

    Oh, and did you know that Jeb also said, in essence, that President Obama needs a “spanking” here? What a professional comment to direct at the head of state.

    And I’m so happy that Dubya has “moved on.” Aren’t you?

    I wonder if the families and friends of the victims of his completely and totally unnecessary war in Iraq have “moved on” too?

    I mean, it’s not like Dubya couldn’t ask them and find out. All he has to do is search this list for some names. He could use that as a starting point and then do what he does best, which is to turn over a tiresome chore (in this case, tracking down the people to ask) to somebody else.

    Actually, I could help him out with that. Dubya is supposedly living in a Dallas suburb now. Well, according to this list, Peter Burks, Simon Cox, Brian Grant, and Jeffrey Green all came from Dallas. He could pick up the phone, call some people and he wouldn’t even have to dial out of his area code. And it’s not like he doesn’t have the spare time on his hands these days.

    But of course, he’ll do nothing of the sort. And that’s because the Republicans don’t want the reality of real people experiencing real problems to penetrate their bubble of unreality, where, as Bill Maher famously said, “the only thing that gets in is Fox News and the only things to come out are misspelled signs and babies.”

    With that in mind, I have a question: how can we expect a party of unreality to know how to govern on the national level in the world of reality?

    That should be a question all of us ask in the voting booth this November.

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    Thursday Mashup (9/16/10)

    September 16, 2010

  • 1) This story has been buzzing around a bit; it’s at philly.com, but I also came across it here…

    The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response has embarrassed Pennsylvania’s Governor. Governor Ed Rendell apologized Tuesday to groups whose peaceful protests or events, from an animal rights demonstration to a gay and lesbian festival, were the subject of regular anti-terrorism bulletins being distributed by his homeland security director. Rendell said that the information was useless to law enforcement agencies and that distributing it was tantamount to trampling on constitutional rights. Bulletins also went to members of Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry because of several acts of vandalism at drilling sites.

    A Philadelphia rally organized by a nonprofit group to support Rendell’s push for higher spending on public schools even made a bulletin, as did a protest at a couple of Rendell news conferences in recent weeks as he pressed for a tax on the natural gas industry.

    “This is ludicrous. This is absolutely ludicrous,” Rendell said. “And I apologize to any of the groups who had this information disseminated about their activities. They have the right to protest.”

    Basically, as the ACLU tells us here via Daily Kos, PA’s Homeland Security Director James Powers authorized the ITRR to spy – and quite probably harass in the process – opponents of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale (with ITRR granted a contract for this type of surveillance by the state…one of the questions quite rightly posed by Rendell when he found out about this was why PA was contracting with the ITRR, when the PA State Police is capable of this type of investigation and response from law enforcement…if need be…also).

    I’ve done a little bit of poking around and I found out the following here about PA Homeland Security Director Powers; as you can read, he spent 30 years in U.S. Army Special Forces, attaining the rank of colonel. It’s highly possible that he circulated with some big names in the defense biz (which would figure since, as noted here, he was following the U.S. DoD Training Manual, which treats protests of the type over the Marcellus Shale drilling as “low-level terrorism”).

    Kudos to Rendell for putting the brakes on this as soon as he heard about it; also, I think you can be safe in assuming that there will be more forthcoming on this story.

  • Update 9/18/10: More here via Atrios…

    Update 9/26/10: I would say that this is a good reason to protest drilling in the Marcellus Shale (dear God).

  • 2) Also, Michael Smerconish of the Philadelphia Daily News had what I thought was a somewhat interesting observation on the whole Pastor Terry Jones/Almost Burning the Quran thing (here – a lot of this is a rehash from last week’s column by Christine Flowers, by the way, but at the time, I was on Jones-Mania-Overload if you will, so I didn’t bother to say anything)…

    Politicians can’t treat fringe players like they are world leaders. This story was energized by the likes of Gen. David Petraeus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama. The more they talked, the more credibility the object of their ire got from the media.

    OK, but Smerky then tells us the following a little later…

    Let’s be clear. Petraeus was right. So were Gibbs, Clinton and Holder. The president was right, too, especially in his assessment of the event as a stunt.

    But by engaging the instigator – even though they were condemning his actions – Petraeus, Gibbs, Clinton, Holder and Obama created the impression that he was a serious person.

    The result? Round-the-clock media attention, which in turn fueled international outrage toward the U.S. And even though the organizer didn’t actually end up burning any Qurans, the attention he received was enough to inspire copycats.

    Ummm…so Gen. David Petraeus was right to call attention to that nut because his actions could pose harm to our troops (noted here), but Petraeus was wrong because he contributed to “round-the-clock media attention” also?

    Well then, I suppose it’s up to everybody to just ignore religious or pseudo-religious figures who incite passion in an attempt to garner publicity for themselves. OK.

    Just remember, though, that that includes this guy also.

  • 3) Finally, I give you the following from the campaign of Patrick Murphy for U.S. Congress:

    We knew it was coming. It was only a matter of time.

    Big Oil has officially put me on their list.

    This week the corporate front group Americans for Prosperity bought TV and radio ads attacking me.

    Americans for Prosperity is the comically named corporate front group for the oil industry. They have the distinction of being the primary corporate sponsors for those “grassroots” Tea Party rallies. Now they have decided to back my opponent, and it’s no wonder why.

    Americans for Prosperity uses their vast corporate resources to advance their radical agenda. This was the group that fought so that oil companies like BP could drill wherever they wanted to, however they wanted to. Then when things went wrong, they fought to make sure that BP could carry on like nothing ever happened. These are my opponent’s new best friends.

    My opponent has sold his campaign to the far-right. Americans for Prosperity is just one of many groups he has courted by simply molding his beliefs to fit with theirs. He has been rewarded for his “flexibility.”

    All my opponent had to do was deny the existence of global warming, turn his back on working families, and pledge his allegiance to corporate tax breaks instead of investing in American jobs. This time his reward was $22,000 in character attacks against me.

    Now we know who is in my opponent’s corner. Now we know whose interests he fights for – BP and Big Oil, not us.

    Well, I want you to know that while my opponent knows he can count on his friends from Big Oil, I know I can count on you. I need your help to fight back against Mike’s pile of corporate cash.

    Please, contribute $25, $50 or even $100 today, and help me reach my goal of $22,001 so we can show these corporate interests that we are NOT backing down.

    Together, we can show my opponent and his Big Oil buddies that the people own this seat now – and it’s not for sale.

    Thank you as always for your incredible friendship and support.

    God, this is so disgustingly typical of Mikey.

    He couldn’t even win the PA-08 seat to begin with in 2004 without some truly foul campaigning against Ginny Schrader, trying to link her to Hezbollah (and worse, as noted here, a particularly rank stunt since Schrader’s husband was a Jew).

    He couldn’t even defend the seat in 2006 without trying to slime Patrick Murphy’s military service with the assistance of Young Philadelphia Republican Kevin Kelly (here).

    And now, having lost the seat, he can’t compete for it once more without more odious campaign garbage as noted above (and in all three instances, he’s tried to disavow any knowledge of what went on or make sure he has an “out” for himself).

    Let’s help Patrick however our means may allow and send Mikey packing for good by clicking here (and don’t strain too much listening for a response of protest from the teabaggers, who profess to oppose politics as usual…if the issue has anything to do with Mikey, you can rely on hearing nothing but the sound of crickets).


  • Petraeus Splits From Iraq With His Rep Intact

    September 17, 2008

    (Please “mouse over” for photo attribution.)

    As noted here, Gen. David H. Petraeus has left Iraq to assume his duties stateside as commander at USCENTCOMM in Tampa, Florida, overseeing all Middle East operations.

    Based on this prior post, though, I have some questions…

  • Do either Gen. Petraeus or his successor, Gen. Raymond Odierno, have an exit strategy for Iraq prepared for the day when we, at long last, leave the pit of Mesopotamia?
  • Given Petraeus’ quote that “a successful counterinsurgency strategy could take 9-10 years,” about where are we now in that timeframe?
  • Can either Gen. Petraeus or Gen. Odierno provide a status on Mosul, which Petraeus once described as “a textbook case of doing counterinsurgency the right way,” even though the mayor of Mosul defected to the insurgents?
  • Does Gen. Petraeus have a clue as to what happened to the $2.3 billion that we provided to train and expand the Iraqi Army that somehow ended up in foreign bank accounts (Petraeus oversaw the training program)?
  • Is the Pentagon now keeping track of fatalities by car bombs and sectarian assassinations, questions that were raised by That Ad against Petraeus last September (I noted that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would probably be the better person to answer that, but I’d ask Petraeus anyway)?
  • Can we look forward to another glowing Op-Ed on Iraq from Petraeus timed for just before the election similar to the one he wrote in 2004 (here)?
  • And given the preceding question concerning the September 2004 WaPo editorial which reeked of self-promotion and image enhancement, I would ask that you consider the following from the recent profile of Petraeus in The New Yorker by Steve Coll here…

    Indeed, because of the reductions in Iraq’s violence, General Petraeus has been cast in the Presidential campaign’s emerging narrative as a sort of Mesopotamian oracle, one that must be consulted or honored by the two remaining candidates. In July, Senator Barack Obama went to Iraq and saw the General; he was rewarded, courtesy of Petraeus’s energetic press aides, with an iconic photograph, printed in many dozens of newspapers, which showed the Senator aboard a command helicopter, smiling confidently at the General’s side. A few weeks later, Senator John McCain, while speaking at a nationally televised forum hosted by the evangelist Rick Warren, invoked Petraeus as one of the three wisest people he knew; McCain called the General “one of the great military leaders in American history.” Afterward, on the campaign trail, the Republican Senator attacked Obama for not being as staunch an acolyte of Petraeus as McCain has been.

    And, as noted here, Senator McBush and Holy Joe both basically wanted to turn over the Congressional oversight function of the war to Petraeus (though, as I noted here earlier, I was disturbed by Petraeus’ analysis of a wave of suicide bombings in July of last year; he called the wave a “mini Tet,” which to me showed a blatant disregard for the fact that, at the time of Tet, most of this country still supported the Vietnam War, though support for Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Middle East Adventure basically evaporated long ago).

    Finally, I have to seriously question the timing of Petraeus’ departure; though I do not mean to cast aspersions on Gen. Odierno, I think leaving shortly before the planned “laying down of arms” by the Sunni Awakening councils to the al-Maliki government shows, to some degree, the desire to “beat it out of Dodge” while the getting is good – it would be more logical to have the person whom many regard (rightly or wrongly) as the main reason for the “success” of the “surge” to remain and ensure as smooth a transition as possible (assuming anyone can “ensure” anything in Iraq).


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