Friday Mashup (11/30/12)

December 1, 2012
  • To begin, let’s take on the “crazy” right away with Joseph Curl of the formerly Moonie Times (here – a little behind on some of this stuff, I’ll admit)…

    Sure, the president got his minions to drop the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent a couple months before the election (“See? It IS getting better!”). But bam, just like you can be sure that the one relative who drives you nuts will absolutely make it to your house for the holidays, new jobless claims skyrocketed right after Nov. 6, jumping to 439,000 — up 78,000 from the week before the election.

    Oh yes, that Kenyan Muslim socialist pre-zee-zint cooked the unemployment numbers to win the election. Horrors!

    I thought this was a good response to the Ohio/Pennsylvania thing; namely, the state unemployment numbers are a week behind the federal numbers, and the state numbers in question weren’t released until November 10th – the federal Sandy-influenced numbers were released on November 3rd, with New Jersey being the 3rd-highest state in unemployment behind Ohio and PA…a fortuitous break for Obama to be sure, but definitely not an “OMIGOD ANOTHER SCARY MUSLIM BLACK MAN CONSPIRACY!!!” (what matters is whether or not the numbers turn out to be a trend or an aberration, and how much the numbers are attributed to OMIGOD THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF!!!).

    With all of this in mind, Joe Nocera defends the Bureau of Labor Statistics here against the charge (made by Jack Welch and other greed heads) that Obama cooked the numbers (and I thought this was a good response also, with the trend lines providing the key details).

  • Next, this life form at clownhall.com tells us of the supposed “job killing” FDA-required menu labeling guidelines for calories stipulated in Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act (which allegedly requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, including franchises and perhaps some grocery stores, to post calorie information for all products on in-store menu boards).

    I’m not exactly sure how this could be deemed as an issue, since, as noted here, the FDA withdrew food menu guidelines as of January 2011.

  • Continuing, this article from the Murdoch Street Journal tells us the following…

    The former chief executive of Massey Energy Co. said in a rare interview that he has no immediate plans to return to the coal-mining business after a noncompete agreement expires at the end of the year.

    (Don) Blankenship has started a personal website and began posting again on Twitter.

    A controversial figure in the coal industry and West Virginia politics, (Blankenship) has largely kept himself out of the spotlight since retiring from Massey in December 2010, eight months after an explosion—the industry’s worst in 40 years—killed 29 workers at the company’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va.

    In recent weeks, the 62-year-old Mr. Blankenship has launched a red-white-and-blue-themed personal website and began posting again on Twitter, raising speculation that he might be preparing to launch a business venture or even a political campaign.

    Well well now, isn’t that interesting? Imagine the utter nightmare of a Senator Don Blankenship, people.

    In response, there’s a ton of garbage here on Blankenship, including telling us that he considers the science on climate change to be “humorous” (not surprising, given that Blankenship made his fortune in coal) and that mountaintop removal for coal mining is “small afterdamage”; we also learn that Massey disabled the mine methane monitors before the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, so that the miners could “continue to run coal.”

    And speaking of the disaster, Massey under Blankenship also denied time off to the friends of the victims working at the mines so they could go to the funerals (nice).

    Gosh, the campaign slogan just about writes itself, doesn’t it? Vote for Don Blankenship To Risk An Unnatural Death While The Planet Slowly Suffocates.

    I’ll bet the Teahadists are already planning campaign rallies.

  • Finally, fresh off his victory over Dem Kathy Boockvar in the election a few weeks ago, I give you the following involving our wet noodle Repug PA-08 U.S. House rep (here)…

    Just two days after the November election, members of progressive groups filed into Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s office and called on him to oppose cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of any budget deal.
    On Black Friday, as shoppers lined up at Oxford Valley Mall, many likely saw a 30-foot banner at the Woodbourne Road I-95 overpass, compliments of Pennsylvania Working Families that stated, “Tell Rep. Fitzpatrick: Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts.”

    In the meantime, large labor unions took out radio ads targeting Fitzpatrick and fellow Republican Pat Meehan to renew middle class tax breaks.

    Election? What election?

    Oh, I’m sorry – I forgot to point out that this column was written by Mikey’s designated stenographer Gary Weckselblatt (who apparently believes, like a typical Repug, that election losers ought to sit down and shut up, since their opinion no longer matters, as if it ever did to begin with…oh, and speaking of “what election?,” I give you this).

    Continuing…

    (Fitzpatrick) said Obama’s plan to raise rates on the wealthy “presents American families with false choices that lead to more economic stagnation.”

    He called for a “grand bargain” that resolves not only the expiring tax rates but a fix to avoid the Medicare physician payment cuts and the looming debt ceiling.

    “I will vote for a plan which is bipartisan in nature that does not cost jobs,” he said. “My district demands we consider all the options, and to earn my vote any deal presented to Congress must present a vision for putting middle income families back on the path for stability and prosperity. And it must not cost jobs.”

    Earlier this year, the Senate voted to extend tax breaks for all but the top wage earners. The House voted to keep the rates for all.

    Asked if at the deadline he would support a version of the Senate plan to protect a potential hit to the middle class, Fitzpatrick said “call me then … you’re asking me a theoretical question.”

    What a profile in courage, my fellow prisoners.

    In response, 350 economists called for investment in jobs instead of “austerity” (which Mikey is basically calling for more of) here (including passage of the American Jobs Act, which continues to gather dust due to inaction from Mikey and his Repug pals in the House). And this is actually better evidence than the prior link that raising the top marginal rate would help job growth, not hurt it.

    And in a related story, as they say (concerning the “A” word), Pastor Gerson pontificates as follows here

    America is entering a period of prolonged austerity. The entitlement commitments made by past generations have been rendered untenable by demographics and health cost inflation. The problem is no one’s particular fault…

    Pardon me while I gag.

    For the reality point of view in response, former Reaganite Bruce Bartlett tells us the following here

    Because of the large deficits Mr. Bush bequeathed Mr. Obama – on Jan. 8, 2009, the C.B.O. projected a deficit for the year of $1.3 trillion that didn’t include any Obama policies – Congress was deeply reluctant to enact a stimulus larger than $787 billion, even though President Obama’s economic advisers thought that one at least twice as large was necessary to turn the economy around. The opposition of every Republican to the 2009 stimulus was a major factor in its inadequate size.

    By way of analogy, suppose you go to your doctor with an illness. He correctly diagnoses it and prescribes the right medicine, but for some reason you are given a dosage only half as large as required. The medicine was enough to improve your condition, but not enough to cure you. You remain sick although you feel better and will remain so until you finally get a full dosage of the proper medicine or your body is able to cure itself, which might take years.
    Note that in this analogy the medicine was properly prescribed; only the dosage was wrong. It would be incorrect to blame the medicine because you are still sick.

    The Republican economists nevertheless blame the medicine itself for the failure of the economy to respond to President Obama’s prescription.

    But it was Republican policies during the Bush administration that brought on the sickness and Republicans in Congress who have denied the economy an adequate dosage of the cure. Now they want to implicitly blame President Obama for causing the recession and the failure of stimulus to fix the problem, asserting that fiscal stimulus is per se ineffective.

    There is a word for this: chutzpah.

    I can think of some words myself, but I really do endeavor to keep this a profanity-free zone, so I’ll just let that go for now (and this tells us that the development by “no one’s particular fault,” according to Gerson, is hammering state economies). And for good measure, Professor Krugman chimes in as follows from here

    …the economic doctrine that demands austerity also rationalizes social injustice and cruelty more broadly, and how this recommends it to authority, rings especially true.

    We might add an insight from another 20th-century economist, Michal Kalecki, who wrote a penetrating 1943 essay on the importance to business leaders of the appeal to “confidence.” As long as there are no routes back to full employment except that of somehow restoring business confidence, he pointed out, business lobbies in effect have veto power over government actions: propose doing anything they dislike, such as raising taxes or enhancing workers’ bargaining power, and they can issue dire warnings that this will reduce confidence and plunge the nation into depression. But let monetary and fiscal policy be deployed to fight unemployment, and suddenly business confidence becomes less necessary, and the need to cater to capitalists’ concerns is much reduced.

    And Gerson actually has the utterly contemptible gall to use the words “austerity” and “morality” in the same sentence of his WaPo screed.

    By the way (returning to Mikey), I’m still waiting for The Treason-Alleging Liar to renounce his “no new taxes” pledge to Grover Norquist, who, last I checked, did not reside in Fitzpatrick’s congressional district (maybe Mikey could be spurred on by some of his Repug playmates who’ve found a collective spine on this issue, as noted here).


  • Patrick Murphy Faces Some Truly Taxing Nonsense

    March 3, 2010


    It is unbelievable, even for the Bucks County Courier Times, that this “story” was run across the banner of the front page today, including the following…

    Back in December, when he pushed a bill to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in federal agencies, Congressman Patrick Murphy was quick to say he was proud to have the National Taxpayers Union endorse the legislation.

    Last week, when he spoke of his bipartisan plan to end the Market Access Program that could save taxpayers $2 billion over 10 years, Murphy again pointed to the NTU’s endorsement as a fiscal stamp of approval.

    But when the NTU last week released its 31st annual Rating of Congress, it gave Murphy an 8 percent, or an F grade.

    (Actually, they featured Murphy on the front page yesterday in this actual news story where he and his office aided some constituents ripped off by Bernie Madoff, so I guess the paper thought it was time to even the score.)

    Through one of the easier Google searches I’ve ever performed, I found the following link on the National Taxpayers Union. And I learned that James Dale Davidson began the organization in 1969.

    Why is Davidson noteworthy? Well, he is an investor in typically conservative causes, including the Newsmax wingnut web site, and he funded a supposed documentary film investigating the death of Bill and Hillary Clinton aide Vince Foster as part of Richard Mellon Scaife’s “Arkansas Project” (here).

    And who took over the NTU in 1978? That would be Grover Norquist, of “drowning government in a bathtub” fame, or words to that effect (here).

    And as you can see from the NTU Wikipedia article, the winner of the supposed “Taxpayer’s Friend” award from the group in 2007 was Jim DeMint (and as noted here, DeMint’s supposed plan for economic growth involves – you guessed it – tax cuts that would result in a pittance of new employment and piling on of additional debt for years to come).

    And by the way, buried way, waaay down in the NTU story today is the following information…

    NTU’s ratings, which don’t deal with degrees of liberal or conservative but simply how members of Congress vote on spending issues, has issued the chambers failing grades for three decades.

    I would have thought that even the Courier Times would know how far they could go when it came to right-wing pandering before they realized that they were merely performing sock puppetry on behalf of wingnuts disguised as supposed paragons of fiscal prudence. Silly me.


    Why, Oh Weyrich?

    December 18, 2008

    weyrich_051002weyrichMike Allen of The Politico tells us here that conservative godfather Paul Weyrich has died (fits that Allen would report on something like that)…

    Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform wrote this tribute: “Paul Weyrich created institutions and networks that incubated new and old powerful policies and strategies to advance liberty. … He brought leaders of various freedom impulses together. Most of the successes of the Conservative movement since the 1970s flowed from structures, organizations, and coalitions he started, created or nurtured. Paul also lived a balanced life with work, family and his faith. We will miss his puns and wisdom and hard work.”

    Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online, who had the first word of his passing, called Weyrich “a Washington conservative institution” and “a patriot who lived a long life serving his nation.”

    Yep, with endorsements from characters such as these, something must surely be up, right? Well, before it all “gets too thick,” if you know what I mean, I would ask that you consider some more stuff on Weyrich that will probably be glossed over as the corporate media hosannas start pouring in.

    As Wikipedia tells us here, he began his career in journalism before he got a job as press secretary for Colorado Repug Senator Gordon L. Allott in 1967. From there, he met a guy named Jack Wilson, who was an aide to Joseph Coors, head of Coors Brewery, and…

    …in 1973, with the financial backing of Coors, Weyrich and Ed Feulner founded the Heritage Foundation as a think tank to counterbalance prevailing sentiment on taxation and regulation, which they considered to be anti-business.

    From there, Weyrich either launched or helped to launch a variety of conservative-friendly organizations that greased the skids for the wretched right-wing ascendancy this country experienced under The Sainted Ronnie R and from which we will probably be trying to extricate ourselves forever (Weyrich co-founded the “Moral Majority” with Jerry Falwell and coined the phrase).

    And as Wikipedia also tells us, “Katherine Yurica has written that Weyrich guided Eric Heubeck in writing The Integration of Theory and Practice, the Free Congress Foundation’s strategic plan (the FCF was an organization founded by Weyrich NOT dedicated to erasing the separation of church and state – wink, wink) published in 2001 by the foundation,[18] which she says calls for the use of deception, misinformation and divisiveness to allow conservative evangelical Christian Republicans to gain and keep control of seats of power in the government of the United States.”

    Among Weyrich’s many lowlights, it should be noted that he and Pat Robertson used the Mark Foley congressional page scandal to spread a truly odious falsehood about gay men (namely, that they’re prone to commit acts of sex abuse against children) here.

    Weyrich also said that, upon his return to the United States after his tour of duty in Vietnam, John Kerry testified that our soldiers had committed “unspeakable atrocities,” which turned out to be false. In reality, however (as Media Matters also notes here), “Kerry simply recounted in his Senate testimony the stories of other Vietnam veterans who returned to the United States and related their personal experiences in the (so-called) Winter Soldier Investigation. There is no credible evidence of a Winter Soldier witness being discredited (though one witness claimed in September (2004) that he lied in his testimony).”

    It should be noted, though, that Weyrich supported rail mass transit (possibly because of his spinal condition that left him in a wheelchair prior to the amputation of his legs after an accident), and he also opposed outsourcing, which goes to show that he did possess some redeeming qualities. However, this is not what people will truly remember about him (and here he is, a demagogue until the very end, claiming a few days ago that Barack Obama “wants to see to it that gay marriage is accepted nationally” and claiming that Obama supporters such as yours truly want “unlimited taxpayer-funded abortions” and also – wait for it – the dreaded return of the Fairness Doctrine…I might as well not even waste my time trying to refute that lie anymore; I’m offended that an organization that purports to represent my faith gave this cretin a forum).

    Basically, whenever you or I hear of a story defaming a Democrat without substantiation, or any demographic or constituency that tends to support that party (unions, LBGT individuals, immigrants, etc.), it is very possible that the talking point or narrative in one form or another originated from an origination either founded by Weyrich or one for which he was an ideological fellow traveler. Such is the depth and breadth of his wingnuttery.

    What a truly pitiable legacy.


    More Taxing Norquist Nonsense

    November 26, 2008

    The guy who wanted to “drown (Government) in a bathtub” is back with more propaganda about our economy, as noted here; fortunately, he was immediately called out for the lying fraud that he is.


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