Thursday Mashup (5/30/13)

May 30, 2013
  • I give you the following hilarity from Politico and stenographer-in-chief Mike Allen (here)…

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in an interview Thursday that House Republicans will “get to the bottom” of an array of White House controversies, while emphasizing jobs as their public message.

    “The Congress has the responsibility to get to the truth,” Boehner said. “Whether it’s Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the whole situation with The Associated Press, our committees are going to do their job to get to the bottom.

    Oh, I believe Boehner will “get to the bottom” all right, but not in a way anyone wants.

    Meanwhile in the land of reality, as noted here from about a year ago…

    With only 58 days left on the legislative calendar for the year, what did House Republicans debate for hours? Jobs, taxes, the debt or poverty? No.

    When Republicans took over the House in January 2011 they asserted they would focus on jobs. Eighteen months later very few bills have been signed into law. The House GOP’s calendar features 151 weekdays off and 109 in session. With 58 days left in Washington from June to December, it’s instructive to see what issues get attention.

    Though the country faces problems effecting millions, Republicans brought a bill to the floor this week making abortion based on the gender of the fetus a federal crime. Never mind that gender based abortions would appear not to be a problem in America — sponsors Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) had difficulty citing substantial evidence of such abortions sweeping the nation. Regardless, their bill made it to the House floor with no hearings and on very short notice.

    “This is an important issue to the American people… that’s why it’s being brought to the floor,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). But a congressional reporter provided a different take. ”I spoke to a GOP aide today and was told ‘we have to feed our rank and file red meat every now and then,’” reported MSNBC’s Luke Russert.

    And Rachel Maddow drove that point home even better in the video from here.

    In addition, this tells us that Boehner “gave up” on construction last year, putting as many as 50,000 jobs at risk, which is part and parcel of doing nothing constructive on this issue, as noted here (actual economists weighing in as opposed to Beltway media talking heads). And it’s not as if the Dems have been sitting on their hands with this stuff; this tells us that the American Jobs Act that originated from the White House continues to languish in the U.S. House with no action, and this tells us that Obama’s job plan was criticized by Boehner and company before it was even released (lather, rinse, repeat).

    Not that you’ll ever read any of this from “Tiger Beat on the Potomac,” as Charles Pierce calls it (and to think that these assclowns actually had the gall to contemplate a “pay wall,” as noted here).

  • Next, I give you more media idiocy with Ron Fournier of the National Journal (here)…

    Liberals hypocritically gave Obama a pass for furthering the same policies they condemned in 2008. Criticism from the left was half-hearted and muted, compared with their Bush-era indignation. On Gitmo, left-wingers rightly blamed the GOP for blocking closure but didn’t shame Obama into using his executive authority to shutter the pit.

    Oh, right – President Hopey Changey forgot to wave his magic wand and make idiots in Congress who are afraid of their own shadows suddenly somehow come to realize that we have not one damn thing to fear if we get everyone out of GITMO who we’re presently holding there (removing one hell of a jihadist recruiting tool) and put them in Supermax prisons while they await a civilian trial, through which we have a better shot of obtaining a conviction than those stinking military commissions. And somehow that the fault of “liberals,” of course.

    Continuing with Fournier…

    Some progressives even tried to justify the Obama administration’s efforts to criminalize the work of a Fox News reporter. Would they be so blasé about a White House targeting MSNBC?

    I guess I’m crazy, but I was always taught that it’s a lot more logical (and again, the name of the game here is to see that justice is served) to let legal matters take their natural course before we have the inevitable rush to judgment.

    Anyway, I think this is a pretty good column from Geoffrey Stone of HuffPo on the James Rosen matter (he of Fix Noise), including the following…

    In general, it is unlawful for one person to solicit another to commit a criminal act. If X persuades Y to kill Z, for example, X can be punished for criminal solicitation of murder. This is a broad principle that, we can assume, ordinarily would apply to Rosen’s apparently successful effort to persuade the source unlawfully to leak the classified information.

    But is Rosen, as a reporter, exempt from the ordinary law of criminal solicitation? Does the First Amendment give a reporter a constitutional right to do what other citizens have no right to do? The claim, of course, is that unlike the situation in which X solicits Y to kill Z, Rosen’s solicitation was undertaken for the public good, because Fox News, after all, has a constitutional right to publish the information. There is, in other words, no good reason to give X a right to solicit Y to kill Z, but there is a good reason to give Rosen a right to persuade the source to disclose the information to him (even though it is a crime for the source to do so). Confused yet?

    The problem with this argument is that, in interpreting the First Amendment, the Supreme Court almost never accepts such claims. For example, suppose someone walks down the street naked to protest laws against obscenity, or speeds to get to a political rally in time to give a speech, or refuses to pay his taxes so he can give larger contributions to his favorite political candidates. In all of these situations there is a speech-related reason why the actor wants an exemption from a law of otherwise general application, but the Court has consistently, and quite reasonably, rejected such claims.

    Similarly, in the Free Press context, suppose a journalist commits an illegal burglary in order to obtain information about a possible scandal, or conducts an illegal wiretap in order to prove that a congressman took a bribe, or steals a sophisticated camera in order to take better photos for her website. In none of these situations will the journalist be able, under current law, to assert a First Amendment right to commit the criminal offense because she did so in order to be a more effective journalist.

    So let’s investigate this matter to find out exactly what Rosen did or didn’t do, OK? And if he is exonerated, then I’ll join the line of individuals pointing out that the Obama Justice Department was completely and utterly wrong to go after him.

    And by the way, if anyone on MSNBC had been accused of doing what Rosen supposedly did, I would say the same thing.

  • Further (and speaking of Former President Nutball and his gang), Kathleen Parker of the WaPo inflicted the following here

    Obama kept Guantanamo because, like Bush, he discovered he couldn’t close it. He kept and boosted security measures, including increasing surveillance and expanding law enforcement powers, even though Bush was loathed for his draconian measures.

    That kind of leads me to believe that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History supported closing Gitmo, but didn’t (well, he did a bit depending on the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, or so he told us here).

    The problem for me, though, is that the ruling, which held basically that the military commissions weren’t good enough, came down in June 2006, and Bush gave a speech three years later here in which he still opposed closing GITMO (typical).

    But to hear Parker tell it, Dubya, in fact, “discovered” he couldn’t close it, maybe in the same way a thief “discovers” a bag of money when trying to rob a bank.

    What exactly was that Pulitzer for again?

  • Continuing, I came across this item which I think is genuinely humorous involving Daryl Metcalfe, representative of our beloved commonwealth of Pennsylvania…

    As chairman of the House’s State Government Committee, Metcalfe has convened a June 5 hearing into campaign-finance disclosure regulations, keying off the activities of Pennsylvanians for Accountability, a liberal group that has sponsored TV ads ripping Gov. Corbett’s record and targeted four GOP House members in vulnerable districts last year.

    Metcalfe told The Inquirer he is interested in greater transparency in campaign funding, and believes that the group may have crossed the line.

    Metcalfe should leave 501(c)(4) social welfare groups alone, argues the Pennsylvania Commercial Action Network, a grassroots conservative business organization that campaigns against what it considers excessive government regulation of private enterprise, and for lower taxes.

    “Although we understand the public’s desire to peek behind the veil of private organizations, we believe a greater public good is served by protecting confidential speakers’ rights,” PaCAN’s managing directors, Matthew Balazik and Skip Salvensen wrote in a May 24 letter to Metcalfe.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

    Oh, right – let’s not investigate liberal 501(c)(4) groups because it might not stop there, and conservative 501(c)(4) groups might get targeted also. Too funny.

    What’s the matter, wingnuts – afraid your little “social welfare” scam would go up in a thicker cloud of smoke that the one curling out of Flush Limbore’s big, fat stogie?

    And it’s not one bit surprising that Metcalfe would find himself right in the middle of something like this, for the following reasons…

  • Here, he sponsored legislation that would end mandatory payment of union dues as a condition of employment in PA (paving the way for so-called “right to work”).
  • Here, he supported voter ID in PA, which, as the post tells us, is tantamount to a “poll tax.”
  • Here, he protested a proclamation on Domestic Violence Awareness Month because it had a “homosexual agenda” (Huh? Oh, right – more “dog whistle” language).
  • Here, Metcalfe presented his version of Arizona’s “illegal to be brown” law for PA.
  • Here, he said that veterans who favor action on climate change are “traitors” (nice).
  • And returning to the Pennsylvania Conservative Action Network, I give you the following from here (in a story about the 2010 U.S. Senate election)…

    The DSCC is a well-established fundraising organization. They have established donors and can raise money nationwide. PaCAN is a relatively new organization and fundraises primarily in Pennsylvania, but has already declared Joe Sestak as unfit for higher office.

    Umm, yeah – “social welfare” only. That’s what PaCAN is about.

    Sure.

  • And finally (and perhaps inevitably), this tells us the following…

    A Washington advocacy group filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the IRS and top Obama administration officials on behalf of 25 Tea Party-related groups, marking the biggest lawsuit to date over the tax agency’s practice of targeting conservatives for additional scrutiny.

    The 29-page lawsuit named Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and several IRS officials — including Lois Lerner, the division director who refused to testify before Congress last week. The suit claims the constitutional rights of 25 Tea Party and other conservative groups were violated when tax workers singled them out for a drawn-out vetting process.

    The American Center for Law and Justice is arguing that the Obama administration overstepped its authority and violated the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act as well as the IRS’ own rules and regulations.

    “The whole timeline and the whole narrative that the White House has put forth does not hold up to the truth,” ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow told Fox News on Wednesday.

    In its suit, the ACLJ wants the government to admit wrongdoing. The suit also seeks to protect the groups from future IRS retaliation as well as compensatory and punitive monetary damages.

    For what, exactly? Hurt fee-fees?

    Also, this tells us that the American Center for Law and Justice was established in 1990 by Pat Robertson, employs 50 people, and has an operating budget of $14,650,162 based on data from 2004.

    Oh, but the Teahadists are “grass roots-based,” aren’t they?

    And just as a reminder, here are some of their more stellar moments…

    And finally…

    (Funny, but I always thought that word was spelled with an “e.”)

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    Thursday Mashup (11/1/12)

    November 2, 2012

  • Only in the utterly bizarro world of the Washington Times could Obama or any other president find himself (or herself one day – ?) in a position where they need to defend a prompt and proactive response to a disaster affecting multiple states.
  • Also, I came across this item from supposed “values warrior” Michael Medved of clownnhall.com (here)…

    Catholic clergy and lay leaders, for instance, regularly acknowledge that nothing has done more to erase anti-Catholic prejudice than the emergence of the pro-life movement after Roe v. Wade. The close cooperation of traditional Catholics and evangelical Protestants in building opposition to abortion on demand destroyed the insulting old stereotypes of hard-drinking, garlic-reeking, immigrant papists versus sweaty Bible Belt snake handlers and led both groups to new respect for one another.

    Yeah, I’m sure glad those “insulting old stereotypes” that Medved has to go out of his way to tell us about have been destroyed. Aren’t you?

    In response, I give you the following from here

    Right-wingers politically love abortion. It’s a reliably contentious social wedge issue that gives their Teapublican candidates a twenty-point spot in every campaign. That’s why, while pretending to hate the 1973, 7-2 Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade, they really don’t. The brighter among them fully realize that if Roe v. Wade were ever to be overturned, there would be two immediate and unacceptable consequences. The loss of that political wedge issue and the necessity of pregnant Pro Lifers to go underground to have their own inevitable abortions, just like their liberal sisters. It’s instructive to note that in New York City, once abortions became legal, there was a 45% annual drop in maternal mortality, a figure matched by North Carolina at about the same time.

    The fact is that no matter how much Roe v. Wade faux-opposition is evidenced, no matter how morally superior the right-wing ladies (and their gentleman supporters) purport to be, no matter their participation in numerous anti-abortion marches waving their ‘liberals are baby-killers’ placards, no matter their bowed heads at their preachers latest anti-abortion rant, no matter what their sanctimonious spokespeople spew out on Fox…there are just as many conservative women aborting, or mighty close to it, as their liberal counterparts.

    Let’s look at some objective, apolitical numbers from the non-partisan Guttmacher Institute. First, a shocker. Nearly 22% of all pregnancies end in abortion. A total of 3 in 10 women will have an abortion by age 45. More than half of abortions are performed on women in the 20s age range. Since Roe v. Wade, there have been well over 50 million abortions. How many of those abortions do you think were performed on right-wing women? None? That’s what they would have you believe. None. Without citing a single statistic, do you really think all 50 million women who had those abortions were liberals? Just given the fact that there are more teen pregnancies in Red States, some of which would end in abortion, would give lie to that fact.

    And while the results of the study published here aren’t quite four years old, I cannot imagine that the results have changed much over that time, particularly since, as the Think Progress post also notes, a study with similar results was conducted in 2005 also.

    But I don’t suppose that’s something you’ll hear from an author of a couple of “Golden Turkey” movie books who decided to “rebrand” as a right-wing media mouthpiece (oh, but I guess that’s an “insulting old stereotype,” isn’t it? Ooopsie!).

  • Next, somebody decided to pay attention to the demented ramblings of the “Motor City Madman” again (here), telling us, among other supposed pearls of wisdom, that “America got softer and learned to get away with mediocrity and outright slovenliness.”

    Hmm, “mediocrity and outright slovenliness,” huh? Why does that ring a bell? Still thinking

    Continuing…

    Nugent: The soul-stirring, grinding, defiant soul music by the original black masters will remain inspiring and timeless for eternity to real music lovers everywhere. Howling Wolf, Bo Diddly (sic), Chuck Berry, Little Richard, all things Motown, James Brown, Wilson Picket, Otis Redding, and all the gifted musicians since who celebrate that musical authority will always make me dance and squirm. Detroit continues to produce masterful musical talent like Kid Rock, Eminem, Jack White, Chad Smith, drummer for the Chili Peppers and Chickenfoot, and others that always deliver that original soul with their own style and touch. I just wrapped up the most exciting, high-energy, ferocious tour of my life in 2012, and the best, most intense music of my life was propelled by Mick Brown on drums, Greg Smith on bass and Derek St. Holmes on guitar and vocals and record-setting gung-ho audiences who crave such excellence and passion just like we do.

    I was just wondering as I read this – does Nugent know that Chad Smith and the Chilis support President Obama (about whom Ted said he’d rather be “dead or in jail” if Number 44 wins re-election here…since Nugent was dumb enough to give himself those two alternatives, I don’t really care which one he chooses).

  • Further, I happened to stumble across the following partisan screed from Jennifer Rubin at the WaPo here, who claimed that Willard Mitt Romney has supposedly “locked up” independents…

    The Romney-Ryan campaign and independent Republican pollsters are buoyed by the indisputable and near universal polling fact in the presidential race: Mitt Romney is winning big among independents. The conservative polling and research firm Resurgent Republic released its final batch of polling, finding Romney leads President Obama among Independents by a 51 to 39 percent margin nationally. By comparison George W. Bush won independents by 2 points in 2000 and lost independents by one point in 2004.

    Oh, and according to Repug pollster Whit Ayres, what supposedly turned it around was the debates; well, maybe the first one, but after that, I’m not buying…Ayres, by the way, said here that the Repugs could “run on” the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld ruling, in which the Supremes declared that the Bush administration’s proposal to use military commissions for the trials of terrorism detainees violated the Geneva Conventions and could not be enacted without congressional approval (uh, yeah…right – regarding Ayres, I mean).

    Besides, as we learn from here

    Where most political commentators output is the product of briefings, gossip and personal perception, (pollster Nate) Silver deals in cold, hard facts. And at the moment, Silver’s facts are being fired like bullets into the heart of the Romney campaign.

    Simply put, Romney is trying to generate momentum by simply proclaiming that momentum exists, even though the statistical evidence definitely tells us something wholly other (here).

    (Oh, and by the way, class act by Joe Scar to tell everyone Silver is wrong but not to respond to Silver’s gesture in response here…to update, it looks like Scarborough agreed to donate to the Red Cross, so good for him; it looks like he sort of responded – stay tuned).

    Update 11/7/12: The short answer to this, I’m sure, is never, unfortunately.

  • And I swear, I should just ignore The Moustache of Understanding, but I didn’t again (here, in which Tom Friedman returns to his hometown in Minnesota to use his supposed wisdom to inform us of how St. Louis Park is supposed to be a political bellwether)…

    Many business-oriented Republicans here are not only voting for Klobuchar but are giving her money, because they’ve become frustrated by the far-right lurch of the state G.O.P., explained Lawrence Jacobs, a politics expert at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. The state is home to many global companies that would accept some tax increases to build better infrastructure and schools in order to have better-educated workers. And the Republican-dominated Chamber of Commerce here is leading the charge for open immigration, so Minnesota can bring in more knowledge workers from India to enrich its work force.

    I would slap a Franklin down on the table right now to see Friedman show up for work tomorrow and find out that Ravi Kumaristan Patel is now sitting behind his desk, and Friedman has to teach him his job before Friedman is laid off.

    (And by the way, that comment is not meant to belittle Indians. If someone receives an opportunity and they make the most of it, good for them. My problem is with the hiring managers and HR numbskulls who decide to give that opportunity to someone new to this country at the expense of a seasoned professional who has spent his or her life here building a career but is having an extraordinarily hard time finding work, all for the sake of a would-be employer saving about $5K or a little more in salary and benefits.)

    And Friedman finishes with the following…

    In the 1990s, centrist Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, brought their party back from a similar ideological ledge; they and the country and my home state are better for it.

    To me, that is highly debatable. Yes, this country had a really good run under Clinton, and there’s no denying it. However, did you know that The Heritage Foundation, of all people, called the ’96 Clinton budget “a bold privatization document” here?

    And columnist Joseph Palermo tells us the following here

    The Democratic leadership at (around 1992-1994) apparently believed that by capitulating to the Republican-Blue Dog agenda on “free trade” (NAFTA), and screwing over labor unions, one of the key Democratic constituencies, the GOP and their Blue Dog brethren would cooperate on health care reform. It was a monumental error in judgment that cost the Democratic Party dearly. Health care reform was just as popular among the public then as it is today.

    The Democrats showed the country that even with majorities in both houses of Congress and the presidency they could not deliver largely due to Blue Dog obstructionism. All the Democrats had to show for their efforts going into the 1994 midterm elections was a very pissed off labor movement and a failed attempt to help working people attain affordable health care. On election day Democrats stayed home and the Newt Gingrich “revolution” seized Washington launching a fourteen-year period of misrule the consequences of which we are still dealing with today.

    Ironically, in the 1980s, the Democratic Party had sustained itself better than during the Clinton years because it was forced to mobilize against the administrations of Reagan and Bush the Elder. In the 1990s, once the Blue Dogs and their champion Bill Clinton was in power the Democratic Party experienced a precipitous decline in power and influence nationally, which paved the way for the Tom DeLay/George W. Bush years.

    And let’s not forget how “darlings” of the Democratic Leadership Council (which remade the party in its corporatist image prior to Clinton’s election) such as Mark Warner and Harold Ford rallied to the defense of Bain Capital when the latter’s “fee fees” got a little hurt earlier in this wretched election cycle, as noted here (actually, this is probably closer to what I originally had in mind…a related post is here).

    I realize none of this is going to change the hopelessly jaded point of view of “Mr. Suck. On. This.” But every time it occurs to me that the Democratic Party of today has not one blessed word to say about poverty, gun control, the environment or this country’s ever-perpetuating economic inequality, I thank the corporatist “Bush Dog” Dems who set us down that sorry path (and while it may be a little cold to cite 1992 as the milestone for that, that is the clearest demarcation point I can find).

  • Finally (and speaking Dubya’s wretched reign), I give you this

    Twenty-three million people unemployed or underemployed, a $16-trillion debt and repeated trillion-dollar deficits.

    Boo.

    The scariest thing this Halloween has nothing to do with witches and goblins or even the Munsters remake (ugh). The scariest thing in America right now is the continued awful economy.

    An incumbent president running for re-election in a down economy – we’ve heard that story before. Only when we heard it last time, George W. Bush was running for re-election in 2004 and the economy was in remarkably fine shape.

    BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

    Oh dear God, that’s funny – in response, I give you the following from here (from September ’04)…

    The (Labor Department) report could give a lift to the Bush campaign, coming just hours after the Republicans renominated him. The president and his advisers like to point to the nearly 1.7 million jobs created since August 2003.

    But the Kerry campaign notes that despite the recent job gains, the economy has still lost about 1 million jobs since Bush took office in early 2001, meaning Bush is likely to become the first president since the Depression era’s Herbert Hoover to complete his term with an overall drop in U.S. payrolls.

    Roger Altman, senior economic advisor to Kerry, told CNNfn that even with the most recent gain, the administration’s job performance has been weak.

    “You need about 150,000 new jobs a month to keep even with growth in population,” he said. “Taken in proper context, it’s just not a very good record.”

    The report showed less strength in the labor market than in the spring, when the economy created an average of nearly 300,000 jobs a month from March through May.

    But after two months of weak reports, the latest number and the revisions to June and July brought the three-month average to just over 100,000.

    In its report, the department said manufacturing and construction showed gains and the service sector added 108,000 jobs. Education and health services posted a seasonally adjusted 45,000 gain, and the government added 24,000 jobs.

    Average hourly wages rose 5 cents to $15.77. Over the last 12 months average hourly wages have risen 2.3 percent, not keeping pace with the rate of inflation.

    “The report is still a poor one given what has come before, but not terrible,” economist Robert Brusca of FAO Economics wrote in a note after the report. “There is no reason to think it is weak enough to put the Fed on hold.” But Brusca said a rate hike at that meeting would be a mistake, given the economy’s mediocre strength.

    “The outlook remains poor,” said University of Maryland Business School professor Peter Morici. “Production cutbacks at Ford and GM, mediocre personal income growth and record trade deficits all bode poorly for economic growth and jobs creation.”

    And as long as we’re talking about Dubya, Obama and jobs, I give you what should be the last word here (and to help Number 44, click here).

    Update 11/2/12: More evidence is here.


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