Tuesday Mashup (2/12/13)

February 12, 2013
  • It looks like VA Repug governor Bob McDonnell was in these parts recently telling the party faithful that the “pity party” is over (here).

    So what does he propose as a “solution” to his party’s recent electoral woes?

    It’s time for Republicans to stop coming across as sour-faced free-market scolds, he said. Conservative principles are not the problem, he said; history has shown small government and free markets to be the world’s best engines for human freedom. The problem? Tone. It’s time for Republicans to be “happy warriors,” he said.

    Yeah, it’s the tone, that’s all.

    Maybe McDonnell should sing and dance while trying to cheat Virginia public employees out of “Obamacare” coverage (here). Either that, or he could sponsor a karaoke night to publicize legislation that, in essence, makes discrimination by university student groups in his state legal (here).

    Or how about a happy hour announcing plans to pay for road construction in VA by taxing the poor (here)? Or an all-night bowling marathon to announce restrictive new anti-abortion regulations that McDonnell certified, as noted here?

    McDonnell and his pals think that all they need to do is dump more perfume on the proverbial pig, and that will be good enough to start reversing his party’s sorry electoral trend. Fine – he should go with that (and as usual on this matter and many others also, I trust the sage words of Professor Krugman, as noted here).

  • Next, I give you the following (here)…

    Subsidies for wind power could lead to the shutdown of nuclear power plants, warned Exelon Corp. CEO Christopher Crane.

    “What worries me is if we continue to build an excessive amount of wind and subsidize wind, the unintended consequence could be that it leads to shutting down plants,” Crane told the Chicago Tribune, adding that states which have subsidized wind power might see jobs disappear if nuclear plants shut down.

    A report by the NorthBridge group found that this “negative pricing” of electricity from wind subsidies means less investment will go into conventional power generation which imperils the reliability of the electrical system.

    This is about what we can expect from Crane; as noted here, the nuke industry has been doing all it can to fight the so-called “production tax credit” that funds wind energy development, stupidly pitting one source of energy development against another (the Think Progress post also tells us that the “study” by the NorthBridge Group, an economic and strategic consulting firm upon which Crane’s alarmism is based, has been described as “deeply flawed” by TP Guest Blogger Richard W. Caperton for the reasons he cites).

    Also, this tells us the following about the phenomenon of “negative pricing”…

    Michael Goggin, (the American Wind Energy Association’s) manager of transmission policy, said negative prices in the wholesale electricity market are rare and occur because there is not sufficient transmission. But the problem, he said, is isolated to certain regions and will be alleviated in the coming months and years as new power lines are built to connect customers to pockets of wind power in Texas and Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

    Goggin also said wind energy is inexpensive, regardless of the tax incentives, because wind power has no fuel cost and has extremely low variable costs for operation and maintenance. The PTC, he said, has very little effect on real-time electricity prices. Electricity prices have also been going “negative” for decades because nuclear reactors exceed power demand at night, he said.

    “Claims that the wind energy production tax credit is causing negative prices are misguided, as negative prices are extremely rare and would occur anyway even if the [production tax credit] did not exist,” Goggin wrote in a blog post this week.

    And as you might expect, TP tells us that Congressional Repugs Lamar Alexander and Mike Pompeo are working with Crane and Exelon in their efforts to “break wind” (sorry…too easy).

  • Continuing, I give you another Ron Fournier special from The National Journal (here)…

    White House officials tell me they feel stung by coverage of the inaugural address. Reporters highlighted the president’s left-leaning stances on immigration, gun control, climate change and gay and women’s rights. Obama’s aides argue that he devoted more inaugural address language to the economy, jobs and the deficit than all other issues combined.

    Still, the perception remains that Obama lost focus on the economy — the top issue in the minds of most voters.

    I cannot possibly imagine that I will ever teach a course in journalism, but if I did and I received something like this from a student, I would fail that person (I know it’s been a little while since we visited with Fournier, but he was notorious for stuff like this when he was employed by the AP).

    For you see, Obama’s “left-leaning” stance on immigration is actually quite popular (here), as is his stance on gun control (here). And while he could’ve done more on the climate, consider his Repug opposition in Congress as well as some coal-state Democrats, including Bob Casey, as noted here (and how can his stance be “left-leaning” when he really hasn’t been able to do much about it?). Also, Obama enjoys majority support on the issue of marriage equality (here), and the LGBT community definitely came out, as they say, for him in ’08 here (and as far as I’m concerned, Fourier’s reference to “women’s rights” is just corporate media shorthand for the Repugs’ war on those dreaded lady parts, and to see whether or not that was successful, look at the results of the last election).

    This is part and parcel of how Fournier operates, though; as noted here, he told Karl Rove to “keep up the fight” and continue to ignore subpoenas from Congress; in that same post, I also pointed out that Fournier used the occasion of Dubya commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence to attack the Clintons (???) and also said that a “Democratic interest group” aired a TV ad comparing Dubya to Hitler, which was and remains false. He also claimed here that Obama needed Biden to shore up his “weakness” on foreign policy, a “weakness” shared by almost every single other Presidential candidate who has ever run for the job in the last 20 or so years, with the possible exceptions of Poppy Bush, John Kerry, and “Straight Talk” McCain back when he was an actual maverick.

    Unsubstantiated dreck like this exists for one reason only, and that is to propagate the utterly false narrative that Number 44 is really some sort of a closet liberal who (and you just watch!) is going to totally turn over a new leaf one day and resurrect his ACORN army to take everyone’s guns and start dropping money from helicopters for “the poors” and “the blahs” (and this will happen right about at the time when austerity actually creates full employment).

  • Finally, I would like to recall some items to commemorate the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, as noted here (to begin, I didn’t know he could actually do that – I thought part of the job description is that those guys had to “die with their boots on”…shows what I know).
  • Here, he gave a speech about the prophet Muhammad and Islam in which he referred to “jihad” and “holy war” (oops – the apology came soon thereafter).
  • He defended “intelligent design” here and expressed the hope that he would have a “short papacy” (looks like he’ll get his wish).
  • He said that condoms promoted African AIDS, or words to that effect, here (yes, I know Church teaching on that subject, but particularly in that area of the world, condoms save lives).
  • There was a time when he was putting his foot in his mouth on a regular basis (a compilation is here), though he definitely tightened up his message discipline, as they say.
  • He, at best, tolerated “liberation theology” when he should have embraced it (here).
  • Announced “The Ten Commandments For Drivers” here (“Thou shalt not txt OMG!! while changing lanes eastbound on the PA Turnpike weeknights at 6 PM.”)
  • To be fair, I should note that he spoke out strongly in defense of the environment here (Think Progress notes this and other positive and negative moments with Benedict here).
  • There were times when I wanted to smack my open palm against my forehead while Benedict was pope. And make no mistake that the Catholic Church has taken an ever-harder right turn under his watch. But as a Roman Catholic, it would be fundamentally wrong for me not to acknowledge that, until he steps down, he remains the Vicar of Christ, and as such, I’ll pray for his good health.

    Update: John Patrick Shanley has the guts to actually say what I only thought about here.

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    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…


  • On Sotomayor, It’s “Lock And Load” Time For The NRA

    July 30, 2009

    kid-with-gun-sm
    In an example of still more gun-related cowardice by the Democratic Party, Think Progress tells the following from here…

    Noting Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s record on the Second Amendment, Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) told Roll Call that that he is “undecided” on her nomination to the Supreme Court (although he added that he is “leaning toward voting in favor”). Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) expressed similar uncertainty:

    Both senators’ equivocal statements come in the wake of the NRA’s decision to “score” the Sotomayor vote in determining where each lawmaker stands on the NRA’s pro-gun agenda. The NRA claims, falsely, that because Sotomayor once upheld a New York law against a Second Amendment challenge this somehow proves that she is hostile to gun rights. That decision, however, did nothing more than apply well-established law.

    Because lower-court judges are required by law to follow the commands of the Supreme Court, Sotomayor once joined an opinion which followed a Supreme Court case holding that the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to the states. Nevertheless, the NRA launched a smear campaign against Sotomayor this month, claiming that she “deliberately misread Supreme Court precedent to support her incorrect view” in this case.

    (It’s pretty sad when a Repug shows more courage than a Dem on the gun issue, by the way, as Lamar Alexander does in the Think Progress post.)

    Also, as noted here, conservative judges Frank Easterbrook and Richard Posner, both appointed by The Sainted Ronnie R, also held that the Second Amendment did not apply to the states in accordance with a prior ruling from Judge Sotomayor.

    All of this comes in the wake of the vote on an amendment sponsored by Senate Repug John Thune of South Dakota here which basically would have allowed an individual who owned a firearm in a state with looser gun laws to transport it to a state and use it – and thus supersede what could be tougher laws in the state where the gun is transported – as he or she saw fit (or, as Think Progress explained, “31 states currently prohibit ‘habitual drunkards’ from carrying guns. The Thune amendment would render these provisions useless.”).

    As the prior posted linked to above also tells us, the Thune Amendment was barely defeated in the Senate by a vote of 58-39; as noted here, Colorado Democratic Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet voted Yes, as well as PA’s own Bob Casey.

    To me, this prompts the following question: with “Democrats” like these, who needs Republicans?

    I realize that such laws pertain primarily to smaller caliber weapons, but I cannot help but wonder whether or not such an amendment by Thune or anyone else (assuming the dark day ever comes when it passes and is signed into law, thus ensuring my political opposition to any person responsible for such an atrocity, be they a Dem or a Repug) could somehow make it easier for someone to sneak a decidedly more lethal weapon (such as an assault rifle) into a public place.

    And with that in mind, I should note that last July 18th marked the 25th anniversary of the San Ysidro, CA McDonald’s massacre, in which James Oliver Huberty murdered 22 people (including himself) and injured 19 with a 9 mm Uzi semi-automatic (the primary weapon fired in the massacre), a Winchester pump-action 12-gauge shotgun, and a 9 mm Browning HP (as noted here by Wikipedia).

    I tried really hard to find some principled Democratic opposition to the NRA and the pro-gun forces in this country, but unfortunately, aside from Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, I couldn’t. However, I was able to find the following from columnist Mark Shields here from last April, in which a legendary Repug with whom I frequently disagreed spoke what I would call “truth to power” on assault weapons…

    Washington and the leadership of both political parties in the city need a collective vertebrae transplant. Just listen to what one of the country’s great conservative leaders, the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., said about these assault weapons in 1990: “I am completely opposed to selling automatic weapons. I don’t see any reason why they ever made semi-automatics. I’ve been a member of the NRA. I collect, make and shoot guns. I’ve never used an automatic or a semi-automatic for hunting. There’s no need to. They have no place in anybody’s arsenal.”

    So much for the sportsman’s argument for assault rifles of the kind that the Binghamton (NY) killer used to fire, according to police, 98 shots in one minute.

    Shortly before Goldwater made his position so abundantly clear, the then-California Attorney General John Van de Kamp, a Democrat, stood on the floor of the Assembly in Sacramento holding in his hands an AK-47 semi-automatic weapon and said to the legislative body’s 80 members: “Ladies and gentlemen, take a look at your watches and start counting. You are lucky that I am the attorney general and not some nut. Because if I had the ammunition, I could shoot every member of the Assembly by the time I finish this sentence — about 20 seconds.”

    But 1994 will forever be remembered as the year when Democrats lost their heart for standing up to the gun lobby. The Democratic-controlled Congress and President Bill Clinton had enacted a ban on 19 types of automatic weapons. That ban had passed the House on a 216-214 vote, guided by the then-Clinton White House adviser (and now Obama White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel — and it was blamed by many Democrats for their party’s November loss, for the first time in 40 years, of House control.

    (By the way, I read the comments to Shields’ column, one of which chided him for not knowing the difference – as far as the commenter was concerned – between a fully-automatic machine gun and a semi-automatic rifle…as if that would have made any of the victims described by Shields “less dead” as a result.)

    And on the matter of the Dems’ ’94 loss of Congress owing to the assault weapons ban, I thought New York Times editorialist Dorothy Samuels made the following good points last May here…

    It is hard to make a case that the assault weapons ban was decisive in 1994.

    The law certainly enraged many N.R.A. members and might explain the loss of certain Democratic seats. However, there were other major factors in the Democrats’ 1994 loss, starting with perceived Democratic arrogance and corruption (overdrafts at the House bank came to symbolize that).

    Add to that voter unhappiness with Mr. Clinton’s budget, his health care fiasco, the Republican Party’s success in recruiting appealing candidates, and that ingenious Republican vehicle for nationalizing the elections known as the “Contract With America.” The contract, by the way, did not mention guns.

    Mr. Clinton’s successful 1996 re-election campaign actually stressed his gun control achievements. James and Sarah Brady spoke in prime time at the ’96 Democratic convention, and Clinton campaign ads trumpeted his role in enacting the assault weapons ban and the ’93 Brady law requiring background checks for gun buyers.

    And returning to the Shields column once more, I would advise Casey, Udall, Bennet and the other “chicken Dems” on this issue to read the following…

    President Obama has long been on record for a permanent ban on assault weapons. But one respected Capitol Hill Democrat, a longtime champion of gun control, despairs: “These (recent) killings have, unfortunately, not moved the needle.”

    What would be required to get this Congress to act? “It would take at least a major massacre of kindergarteners.”

    I can think of no more damning indictment of our politicians – and really, our country’s collective retreat on this issue – than that.


    Wednesday Mashup (5/13/09)

    May 13, 2009


    Nothing really in particular to note here except the following…

  • I got a kick out of this Onion News Network story, dancing on that razor’s edge between news and satire again; My favorite line? “For the first time in my life I know who the secretary of the treasury is…(and) I don’t like it.”
  • Health_Care_xfMVTPCRkFutFv-325

  • Please click here to access an online petition urging Congress to support President Obama’s health care initiative.
  • EARTH_CC_GW
    Also, I was intrigued by this story in today’s New York Times, which tells us…

    WASHINGTON — An internal government memorandum that came to light on Tuesday challenged the scientific and economic basis of a proposed Environmental Protection Agency finding that climate-altering gases are a threat to human health and welfare.

    The undated and unsigned government document, marked “Deliberative — Attorney Client Privilege,” was compiled by the White House Office of Management and Budget from comments offered by various agencies. A White House official said that many of the criticisms and suggestions came from holdovers from the administration of President George W. Bush and had been rejected by Obama appointees.

    Some of the objections mirror longstanding criticism of the proposed E.P.A. action (to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act) from Republicans and business lobbies who say that the Clean Air Act is the wrong instrument for combating global warming and that such regulation will have devastating effects on the economy.

    Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, waved the document at Lisa P. Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, at a hearing of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Mr. Barrasso called it a “smoking gun” that proved that the proposed finding was based on politics, not science.

    “This misuse of the Clean Air Act will be a trigger for overwhelming regulation and lawsuits based on gases emitted from cars, schools, hospitals and small business,” Mr. Barrasso said. “This will affect any number of other sources, including lawn mowers, snowmobiles and farms. This will be a disaster for the small businesses that drive America.”

    Ms. Jackson replied that the E.P.A. was obligated by the Supreme Court to decide whether heat-trapping gases pose a danger to human health and the environment. She said much of the analysis behind the proposed finding had been completed before she assumed office in January. She added that the comments reflected “people’s opinions” and were not binding on the agency.

    Well, well, I would call that some well-orchestrated political theater by a puppet of some of this country’s most notorious energy interests (and I say that based on this article, which tells us the following about Barrasso)…

    John Barrasso has received $136,400 in oil contributions during the 110th congress. $110,500 of those dollars were from industry PACS.[5] These numbers make Barrasso one of the top recipients of oil and coal money in the Senate. In addition to oil money, Barrasso has accepted $82,250 in coal contributions during the 110th congress. $70,000 of those dollars were from industry PACS [6].

    Oh, and by the way, John, who exactly is it that’s in charge of your party again (here)?

    Update 5/14/09: So NOW we know who wrote that supposed “smoking gun” memo, according to Barrasso (here – yeah, way to look legitimate by appearing with Glenn Beck…but you STILL won’t say Flush Limbore runs your party, will you?).

    Crime_Scene_cri0613_s

  • I have to admit that I’m truly puzzled by this story, which indicates more maneuvers by the pro-gun lobby in this country, specifically the following…

    The 10th Amendment (to the Constitution) declares that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” It inspired the so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” three decades ago that swept the West, preventing the federal takeover of public lands pushed by the Carter Administration and propelling the self-proclaimed Sagebrush Rebel, Ronald Reagan, to the Presidency. Now it is being invoked by pro-gun advocates to press for state rather than federal regulation of gun manufacturers. (See pictures of America’s gun culture.)

    (Now) Montana has passed a law allowing local gun manufacturers to sidestep federal regulations as long as the weapons they make are sold within the territory of the state. “It’s a gun bill, but it’s another way of demonstrating the sovereignty of the state of Montana,” Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer said, according to AP, as he signed the bill into law in mid-April. “I like big guns, I like little guns, I like pistols, I like rifles, and I would like to buy a gun that’s made in Montana.”

    And yes, the support of this bill by Schweitzer, who was and may yet be again a rising star in the Democratic Party, was most definitely NOT a shining moment for him.

    However, the real “gotcha” part of the story for me comes near the end…

    The irony is that most of the major gun manufacturers are located in blue states – Smith and Wesson in Massachusetts, Colt in Connecticut. Other large manufacturers, like Browning located in Utah, are engaged in global commerce. Montana’s bill will apply to boutique gun manufacturers who make expensive, custom-made hunting rifles, usually purchased by affluent hunters and collectors.

    Putting aside the utterly farcical notion that any weapon manufactured in a state that passes one of these laws such as Montana would NEVER, under any circumstance, travel outside the borders of that state, possibly to be used in the commission of a crime (with Paul Helmke of Handgun Control saying that such a law wouldn’t hold up because “there are rules when you’re part of the Union”) am I to understand, then, that this law would mandate that these guns could only be purchased and used in the state in which they were manufactured? What the hell kind of business sense (or lack thereof) does THAT show?

    Guess that kind of explains why this state has a region known as “the flathead” (the jokes write themselves sometimes, people).


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