Wednesday Mashup (6/26/13)

June 26, 2013

  • Yes, we’re still dealing with the fallout from the latest travesty brought to us by the High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR (and by the way, it’s great that the DOMA was ruled unconstitutional, as noted here, but once again, Anthony Kennedy of the Supremes proved why, rightly or wrongly, he’s the most important man in America, or at worst a close second behind Number 44).

    As Think Progress points out here

    (Yesterday), the Supreme Court declared Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 unconstitutional. Section 4 is the formula which determines which jurisdictions are subject to “preclearance” under the law, meaning that new voting laws in those jurisdictions must be reviewed by the Justice Department or a federal court before they can take effect. Although today’s opinion ostensibly would permit Congress to revive the preclearance regime by enacting a new formula that complies with today’s decision, that would require a functioning Congress — so the likely impact of today’s decision is that many areas that were unable to enact voter suppression laws under the Voting Rights Act will now be able to put those laws into effect.

    More on this sorry development is here.

    Of course, the seamy underbelly of wingnuttia has cause to rejoice, and the once-mighty Journal of Rupert The Pirate does so here

    …as Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the Court, “history did not end in 1965.” In the 48 years since, those Southern barriers to voting have disappeared.

    Really? From here

    The jurisdictions that needed pre-clearance under a 1975 revision had a history of discriminating against certain minorities. They include a handful of Southern states, where African Americans faced discrimination, and a number of counties and cities in other states where minorities faced hurdles in voting rights, including two counties in South Dakota, five counties in Florida and three boroughs of New York City.

    And true to form, this tells us that, in “the land of the yellow rose,” a voter ID law and a redistricting map that discriminated against black and Latino residents (and likely would have failed the “preclearance” requirement of the Act) is now advancing through the state legislature (and this tells us that the same thing is happening in South Carolina concerning a voter ID law with the same background as the one in Texas).

    And in Alabama (here)…

    The state currently has at least one major voting law — a requirement that voters produce a photo ID at the polls — awaiting preclearance. The Star’s attempts to reach officials in Chapman’s office for comment on that matter were unsuccessful.

    Local officials are still unsure exactly what the ruling means for Calhoun County. County administrator Ken Joiner said he needed to consult with county attorney Tom Sowa for more insight on the matter. Attempts to reach Sowa were not successful Tuesday.

    Joiner said he didn’t have an estimate of how much money the county spent per year on preclearance for changes to the voting process.

    “There’s no way to tell,” he said. “You’d have to look at all the time spent on it, personnel-wise. But it does cost money, and it’s not a small amount.”

    And concerning Mississippi and North Carolina, I give you the following (here, and this tells us of similar developments in the “illegal to be brown” state of Repug Governor Jan Brewer).

    But before what was once called the “party of Lincoln” give themselves too many “high fives,” they might want to consider this

    The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a central provision of the Voting Rights Act will make it easier for Republicans to hold and expand their power in those mainly Southern states. That will, in turn, make it easier for them to hold the House. It will also intensify the Southern captivity of the GOP, thereby making it harder for Republicans to broaden their appeal and win back the White House.

    Heckuva job, conservatives!

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    And on a related note, please tell me once more that The Daily Tucker is both a “news” and “opinion” site and not just completely the latter, OK?

    Update 6/27/13: I forgot about Arkansas and Virginia, which are noted from here.

  • Next, OMIGOD! It’s OBAMACARE – RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!! (here)…

    As the Obamacare “train wreck” unfolds we continue to learn of the unintended, unnecessary, and burdensome consequences of a law passed without a single bipartisan vote in Congress.

    Despite the President’s promise of lower health care costs, premiums are rising for families and estimates show that because of Obamacare, over 7 million Americans will lose their employer provided insurance.

    In response, allow me to point out the following from here

    When one hears a title of a story like “Seven million will lose insurance under Obama health law”, the rule thumb is to first panic. Should not Obamacare have ensured that that would not occur? When one further dives into the story and realize that it means seven million will lose insurance provided by their employers and not insurability, it presents an excellent segue to discuss America’s healthcare insurance payment system abyss.

    It is likely more people will eventually lose their job-based insurance simply because companies may realize it is not only about the cost of the premiums they pay for their employees, but the inefficiencies of renegotiating healthcare insurance contracts yearly. They can get rid of their healthcare infrastructure (employees, space, and other overhead), pay a fixed “penalty” and have their employees all join an exchange.

    Basically, as the Kaiser Foundation tells us here, we’re talking about a likely decrease of 7 million in coverage over the next 10 years (Kaiser also tells us that 27 million are likely to gain coverage). And this appears to be true mainly because of the “fiscal cliff” deal towards the end of last year and also because more states didn’t opt for Medicaid expansion, including our illustrious commonwealth of PA under Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett, as noted here.

    So yeah, this is pretty much rank propaganda from U.S. House Teahadists Larry Buchson (who proposed cutting the U.S. foreign aid budget to keep Navy fighter pilots in the air here), Trey Radel (who suggested impeaching President Obama over executive orders on gun violence here), and Phil Roe (who voted against funding for victims of Hurricane Sandy here).

    The model of employer-based health care served this country pretty well for a long time, but it’s a dinosaur. All the Affordable Care Law is doing is hastening the process of extinction, which will happen one way or the other.

    Update 6/27/13: And speaking of Corbett and health care (here)…

    Update 7/9/13: Corbett continues to be an utter embarrassment on this issue (here).

  • Continuing, this tells us the following…

    …over 50 non-profits across the country have launched National Employee Freedom Week, a national campaign which runs June 23-29 focusing on educating employees about all of their rights in the workplace.

    Writer Priya Abraham of the Commonwealth Foundation here in PA tells us in her column about Rob Brough and John Cress, two teachers who have apparently tried to cut ties with their union, to no avail (I don’t know the particulars of their case, and I haven’t been able to find out anything else about it, so I can’t really comment on it).

    What I can point out, though, is that the Commonwealth Foundation (as blogger Ben Waxman tells us here)…

    …is not a “government watchdog group.” It is the Pennsylvania version of the Heritage Foundation– a constant source of right-wing propaganda and misinformation. In the last few months, they have led the opposition to funding for mass transit, expanding healthcare coverage, and legislation designed to protect the rights of workers to organize. All of these positions can be found by looking at their website. Frankly, identifying an organization like the Commonwealth Foundation as simply a “government watchdog group” is bad journalism at best and completely disingenuous at worst.

    Oh, and the Commonwealth Foundation is also responsible for a monstrosity called “Project Goliath,” as noted here.

    And as noted here, Abraham and the Commonwealth Foundation are acting totally in concert with the interests of a host of right-wing organizations attempting to curtail workers’ rights in this country, including Americans for Prosperity (you can just draw a line right back to the Koch Brothers on that one) and the Heritage Foundation, among others.

    And as noted from here

    …every union member already has the freedom to leave his or her union, and keep in mind no one has to join a union to get a job—that’s the law.

    So what’s behind this latest stunt from the same folks who have pushed bills in state legislatures around the country to weaken workers’ rights and silence their voices in the political process?

    It’s pretty simple. Having fewer workers in unions really only benefits profit-driven CEOs and corporations. When workers have less of a say in their workplace, out-of-touch CEOs and corporations can cut costs and increase the bottom line by making employees work more hours for less pay and by offshoring jobs altogether. It’s a power grab by the same people who ship our jobs overseas and offshore their profits to avoid paying taxes—shifting the burden to the rest of us.

    Again, I don’t know what’s up with Brough and Cress, but somehow I have a feeling that their circumstance is yet another exception that the Repugs and their like-minded brethren are trying to turn into a rule (see Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen,” among others).

  • Finally (and speaking of women), it looks like Cal Thomas at Fix Noise has the supposed solution to the Repugs and their electoral woes (here)…

    Republicans should place themselves on the side of giving more information to women, empowering them by making it law that they view a sonogram of their baby before they have an abortion. That could possibly lead to fewer abortions, the goal of pro-lifers, and likely make ineffective legislative measures unnecessary.

    OWWWW!!! THE STUPID!!! IT BURNS US!!!!

    So forcing women undergoing an abortion to view a sonogram of their fetus is “empowering”? Really???

    It should also be noted that Thomas is playing some word games here, and I need to clarify that a bit. I am definitely not a medical professional, so I checked to find out whether or not Thomas was really talking about a sonogram or an ultrasound procedure. As nearly as I can determine, they’re both the same thing; the ultrasound apparently has to take place (which can reveal a fetal heartbeat) to produce a sonogram (the hardcopy output of the result of the procedure, which does not of course reveal a heartbeat).

    So basically, we’re talking about an invasive procedure regardless. And to find out what happened when Scott Walker-istan tried to mandate an ultrasound prior to an abortion, read this. And to find out when Virginia tried to do the same thing, read this. And to find out what happened when our just-mentioned PA guv Tom “Just Look The Other Way” Corbett tried the same thing, read this.

    If Cal Thomas and Republicans as a political party really believe that they can legislate on the matter of the quality of women’s health care with impunity, then they will electorally “crash and burn” more severely than they can ever imagine, and it will be completely deserved.

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    Wednesday Mashup (1/16/13)

    January 16, 2013
  • This post at The Hill tells us the following…

    In his op-ed of January 9 (“NLRB Targets secret ballot and private employee information”) Fred Wszolek of the right-wing Workplace Fairness Institute claims that, for the past year, the labor board has “focused almost exclusively on rewarding union bosses with decisions that hurt workers and small businesses.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

    In reality, far-right obstructionism from the GOP Congress and anti-union organizations such as the Workplace Fairness Institute has undermined the board’s efforts to protect workers’ rights and restore a modicum of balance to our labor policy.

    Let’s examine the real record of the past two years:

    As Wszolek states, the board has introduced a new rule, supported by a clear majority of its members, to eliminate unnecessary litigation and deliberate delay before employees get to vote in union certification elections. Academic research demonstrates that employers often use delay as a strategy to undermine employees’ free choice. One large “union avoidance” law firm advises employers that “time is on your side” when it comes to (National Labor Relations Board) NLRB elections – the longer employers delay an election, the longer that employees are subjected to an aggressive anti-union campaign and the less likely that they will vote for unionization.

    Instead of permitting this fair and commonsense change to take effect, however, the GOP Congress and anti-union organizations have adopted every conceivable political and legal maneuver to scuttle the new rule. As a result, American workers are still being denied the opportunity for a timely vote.

    And for other “lowlights” on the right-wing “war on workers” in this country, I give you the following:

  • This tells us how Michigan and Repug Governor Rick Snyder snuck “right to work” legislation through the state house without any hearings or debate (a six-day legislative process undid 70 years of worker protections).
  • U.S. House Repugs blocked the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) from implementing new limits on coal dust — a pollutant contributing to a steep rise in cases of black lung among U.S. coal miners (here).
  • This tells us that, without the Repugs’ attack on public sector workers (to say nothing of actually passing the American Jobs Act), unemployment would probably be around 6 percent by now.
  • This tells us how Boehner, Cantor and their pals oppose a jobs bill for veterans (some legislation in this country actually used to pass without all of this nonsense; this is an example).
  • All of these developments by the U.S. House in particular make this totally predictable, by the way.

  • Next, the right wing wouldn’t be doing what they do best unless they were demonizing those less fortunate than they are, as noted here in another attack on Head Start

    Head Start is an $8 billion per year federal preschool program, designed to improve the kindergarten readiness of low-income children. Since its inception in1965, taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on the program.

    But HHS’ latest Head Start Impact Study found taxpayers aren’t getting a good return on this “investment.” According to the congressionally-mandated report, Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants. In fact, on a few measures, access to the program actually produced negative effects.

    The HHS’ scientifically-rigorous study tracked 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either a group receiving Head Start services or a group that did not participate in Head Start. It followed their progression from ages three or four through the end of third grade. The third-grade evaluation is a continuation to HHS’ first-grade study, which followed children through the end of first grade.

    The first-grade evaluation found that any benefits the children may have accrued while in the Head Start program had dissipated by the time they reached first grade.

    Now I am definitely not an expert in education or statistics, but I thought it best to try and make sense of the report that Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation is referencing (from here) to try and verify her claims. And it is true that the study indicated that the effects of math instruction dissipated somewhat once the 3 and 4-year-olds left Head Start and enrolled in public school. However, as far as I’m concerned, that begs the following question: how would the kids have fared if they had received no Head Start instruction at all?

    Besides, the report also tells us the following:

    At the end of the Head Start year, there was strong evidence that the Head Start group demonstrated better skills on the following six child outcomes related to children’s language and literacy development: (1) Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) (vocabulary); (2) Woodcock-Johnson III (WJIII) Letter-Word Identification; (3) WJIII Spelling; (4) WJIII Pre-Academic Skills; (5) Color Identification; and (6) Letter Naming.

    Parents of children in the Head Start group reported that their children had greater emerging literacy skills at the end of Head Start than did parents of children in the control group.

    And as far as “cognitive” impacts go (also from the report)…

    At the end of 3rd grade, the most striking sustained subgroup finding was related to children from high risk households. For this subgroup, children in the 3-year old cohort demonstrated sustained cognitive impacts across all the years from pre-K through 3rd grade. At the end of 3rd grade, the Head Start children from high risk households showed favorable impacts on the ECLS-K Reading Assessment, the WJIII Letter-Word Identification, and the teacher-reported reading/language arts skills. This was in contrast to the impacts for children in lower and moderate risk households, for whom there were no impacts.

    Oh, and for the record, someone from the American Enterprise Institute also lambasted Head Start in similar terms over a 1998 study here. And as noted here (third bullet), Joe Klein engaged in some typical sock puppetry over Head Start as well, citing an unnamed Obama Administration official who called Head Start a “jobs program” (if this person truly believes that, then he/she should have had the intestinal fortitude to go on the record). And as noted here from about two years ago…

    [T]he Frederick County, Maryland, Board of County Commissioners voted to end the county’s contribution to its Head Start program, cutting overall funding for the program by more than 50 percent. Two of the Republican officials justified their decision to cut Head Start — which provides early childhood education to the children of low-income parents — by saying that women should really be married and home with their kids, thus rendering the program unnecessary…

    Typical for a bunch of troglodytes, I guess (the point of Head Start isn’t to turn poor kids into geniuses, but to give them help so they can compete with children who have better means than they do…and if they somehow do become geniuses, all the better).

  • Further, in case anyone was wondering what former Iraq war cheerleader Michael O’Hanlon was up to, wonder no more (here, in a column in which he basically praises outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton)…

    It is the president, and not Clinton, who bears considerable responsibility for at least two mistakes in the region. Obama raised hopes that his presidency could lead to a better rapport with Iran — hopes dashed by the stolen 2009 Iranian elections. He also sought to get Israel to freeze settlement activity as a precondition for peace talks. That idea was reasonably motivated, but ineffective.

    I must, however, acknowledge Clinton’s shortcomings in at least two policy debates. On Syria, we remain at a loss for what to do. The administration’s caution, while understandable, has become counterproductive in light of the tragedy there. A more forward-leaning U.S. support for the opposition looks warranted.

    Sooo…it’s Obama’s fault that Iran’s 2009 elections were a joke and “Bibi” isn’t going to stop building those damn settlements anytime soon. I guess Number 44 wasn’t “transformative” enough.

    O’Hanlon also tells us the following…

    This is not to say that Clinton was an historic secretary of state. Even an admirer, such as myself, must acknowledge that few big problems were solved on her watch, few big victories achieved. There was no equivalent of success in the Cold War, or Henry A. Kissinger’s work on President Richard M. Nixon’s opening to China. There is not likely to be a Clinton Doctrine to rival George Kennan’s containment policy, or the various doctrines associated with Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

    As noted here, George Kennan (who had more foreign policy knowledge in his fingernail than O’Hanlon has in his whole body) spent some of the last years of his life railing against Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History’s war of choice in Mesopotamia, which O’Hanlon supported at a time when he should have followed Kennan’s example instead (here).

  • Continuing, U.S. House Rep of Kansas Mike Pompeo (R-Koch) propagandizes as follows (here, courtesy of “Tiger Beat On The Potomac” as Esquire’s Charles Pierce calls Politico– funny)…

    …energy prices, most particularly natural gas prices, will not be materially affected by exports at levels that are likely to occur. Natural gas prices are projected to go up regardless of exports. They are already rising from less than $2.00 per million cubic feet earlier this year to $3.50 currently.

    As noted here, though…

    The glut of recent gas production was initially driven not by new technologies or discoveries, but by high prices. In the years from 2005 through 2008, as conventional gas supplies dried up due to depletion, prices for natural gas soared to $13 per million BTU (prices had been in $2 range during the 1990s). It was these high prices that provided an incentive for using expensive technology to drill problematic reservoirs. Companies flocked to the Haynesville shale formation in Texas, bought up mineral rights, and drilled thousands of wells in short order. High per-well decline rates and high production costs were hidden behind a torrent of production—and hype. With new supplies coming on line quickly, gas prices fell below $3 MBTU, less than the actual cost of production in most cases.

    So it sounds basically like the natural gas “bubble” has deflated somewhat and Pompeo is trying to re-inflate it (Gosh, you mean we’re set up for another “bubble to bust” cycle? Color me shocked!).

    This about par for the course with Pompeo…

  • As noted here, he called global warming graduate school-level internships “radical,” even though they were developed under Number 43, not President Hopey Changey.
  • He also opposed tax breaks/subsidies for wind energy companies, even though he has never had a problem with same for Big Oil (here – by the way, as noted here, this country is on a path to energy self-sufficiency partly as a result of production of biofuels).
  • In a non-energy development, he compared Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain here (see, Clapper had what I guess Pompeo would call the temerity to say that Iran hadn’t decided whether or not they want to build a nuke, an assessment shared by our “friends” in Israel).
  • And as noted here, Pompeo is one of the Repugs leading the loudest charge against the EPA and its supposed “job killing” agenda (when someone discovers an actual job that was actually killed by an actual EPA regulation enacted by this administration, let me know, OK?).
  • Pompeo also opposed the creation of a CPSC database that “would allow people to make informed decisions on product safety, having access to injury reports on things like toys, cribs, and strollers” here.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat (too easy I know, but I gotta say it)…

  • Finally, as noted here, the Obama Administration commendably faced up to the issue of guns today, with 23 executive orders and pending legislation that, unfortunately, faces a very real prospect of defeat (but for now, let’s think positive).

    Prior to that, though (as noted here),

    A Texas congressman vowed to try to impeach President Obama if he moves ahead with plans to control guns by executive order and onetime U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese says it is not far-fetched.

    Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican from the Houston area, called Obama’s plans to skirt Congress and implement some controls administratively “an unconstitutional and unconscionable attack on the very founding principles of this republic.” He also threatened to defund the White House.

    “I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment,” Stockman said.

    Meese, who was the nation’s top law enforcement officer in the Reagan administration, told Newsmax Stockman would have support for such a move – and a good case.

    “It would not be legal. It would not be constitutional,” Meese said. “And, indeed, if he tried to override the Second Amendment in any way, I believe it would be an impeachable offense.

    I think it’s hilarious for Fix Noise or anyone else in the wingnutosphere to obtain the supposed legal counsel of former Reaganite Ed Meese, of all people (I guess Alberto Gonzales was busy).

    As far as Stockman is concerned, Think Progress tells us the following here

    In his first House tenure, Stockman received criticism for his office’s handling of a letter that appeared to be evidence in the Oklahoma City bombings — a note his office was slow to deliver to the FBI and also sent to the National Rifle Association. He also wrote a controversial letter to the Department of Justice objecting to raids of anti-government “citizen militia” groups.

    Last week, Stockman proposed a repeal of all gun-free school zones, claiming that such laws have “placed our children in even greater danger.”

    Yep, don’t have to worry about Stockman’s wingnut bona fides, all right.

    As for Meese, it should be noted that his former boss, The Sainted Ronnie R (who, more and more, wouldn’t stand an electoral chance in his own party were he to run today), understood the need for common-sense gun laws, as noted here (along with the two who followed him in office, as noted here).

    And it’s really funny for a white-collar crook like Meese to give anyone a lecture in the law; as noted here

    Meese’s personal ethical problems stemmed from his involvement in the Wedtech scandal, when he was accused of various financial improprieties (i.e., not reporting lobbying income on his tax returns that, in all probability, would have come from Wedtech, a company that lobbied the Reagan Administration for a $32 million contract to make engines for the Army, despite the Army’s conclusion that Wedtech didn’t have the infrastructure or the capability to do the work). In his public capacity, Meese came under fire in November 1987 for his alleged role in the Iran-Contra affair; he failed to give President Reagan sound legal advice, did not investigate the scandal fully, and may have participated in a cover-up. Several days after this story broke in the press, 3,000 Federal prisoners who had arrived in the U.S. on the Mariel boatlifts from Cuba took 130 other inmates hostages in 2 prisons in protest of a diplomatic accord that would have deported them. (The contention is made) that the same character flaws which were apparent in Meese through the Wedtech and Iran-Contra investigations led to serious mismanagement of the prison riots. Progress toward a resolution of the riots occurred only when Meese began to lose authority as a negotiator.

    Yep, ol’ Eddie sure made a bee line to NSA headquarters when the Iran-Contra scandal broke to make sure the most incriminating documents were shredded the letter of the law was followed.

    In closing, I just want to point out another item from Think Progress; as noted here, the NRA ran an ad in opposition to Obama that mentioned the president and Michelle’s two daughters.

    Wow.

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    In the words of Bill Maher referencing the Valerie Plame scandal, even the mob doesn’t go after your family.


  • 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.


  • Peddling NEA Nonsense With The “Moonie Times”

    September 15, 2009

    nea_logoWow, the Washington Times must be onto something in this editorial today (titled “NEA Scandal Time Line”)…

    Nov. 10, 2008: A former National Endowment for the Arts chief is named to the Obama transition team. Bill Ivey, NEA head under Bill Clinton, will handle arts and cultural issues in the transition.

    Jan. 13, 2009: Arts groups lobby the Obama transition team for stimulus money. As part of a larger group, Americans for the Arts, the Literary Network and Theatre Communications Group propose to the transition team that more than $1 billion be funneled through the NEA as part of the stimulus plan. All three would later endorse the Obama administration’s health care initiative. Robert L. Lynch, head of Americans for the Arts, meets twice with transition officials.

    Late January: An Obama transition official proposes linking NEA grantees to the White House. “I worked hard to try to forge a link between the arts agencies and mainstream policy in the West Wing of the White House. I know that there is serious consideration being given to placing an arts-and-culture portfolio within the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Engagement in the Domestic Policy Council. I worked hard to get that done and I think that will happen,” says former NEA chief Bill Ivey.

    So…am I to understand that the head of the NEA under President Clinton, who also served as a member of the Obama transition team, lobbied for more than $1 billion of stimulus funding, and then “worked hard to try to forge a link between the arts agencies and mainstream policy in the West Wing of the White House”? And did I mention that he also worked for Bill Clinton?

    OH MAW GAWD!!!! SOMEBODY CALLS THE NEW YORK TIMES IMMEDIATELY!!!

    OK, OK, I’m messing around a bit here. The editorial calls it a “scandal” that, allegedly through the influence of that dastardly NEA, arts groups supported the Obama administration on health care reform.

    And as far as the editorial is concerned, that’s pretty much it.

    Uh huh.

    Well, I think what we have here is a case of wingnut media trying to work that teabaggin’ “base” into a lather over an alleged dustup with one of the right’s favorite targets (more on that in a minute).

    And besides, if the NEA is really “in cahoots” as they say with the Obama Administration, then they have a funny way of showing it; as noted here, they oppose the $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” program from Obama partly because it uses test scores for evaluating teachers and calls for an increase in the number of charter schools (kind of hard for me to work up opposition to that, as long as it’s balanced with funding for more teachers and better salaries – as far as I’m concerned, if we really paid people what they were worth in this country, teachers would make more money than anyone else).

    Note: Sorry the Education Week link isn’t cooperating…

    But more to the point, here is a list of “stim” grants to the NEA (including such “subversive” organizations as the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, Inc., and the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts).

    And as noted here in a March story, the NEA puts people to work and keeps them in their jobs, and as a result…

    The NEA says it receives far more requests than it is able to fund. During a grant cycle ended Oct. 31, 2008, one category—Access to Artistic Excellence—received more than 1,300 applications requesting $73.5 million. Of those requests, only 886 organizations received a total of just $20.3 million in funding.

    “The same will happen with the stimulus fund program,” said a representative from the NEA Office of Communications. “It is very rare that an application is funded at the full amount requested.”

    In Chicago, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations generate $1.09 billion in revenue, support 30,134 jobs, and deliver over $103 million in tax revenue to local and state government, according to the Illinois Arts Alliance. In Illinois, 23,643 creative enterprises employ 132,882 people, according to Americans for the Arts.

    At the same time, approximately 129,000 artists were unemployed in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2008, a jump of 50,000, or 63 percent from 2007, according to NEA research.

    While the artist unemployment rate is comparable to the 8.1 percent unemployment rate for the U.S. workforce in general, the unemployment rate among artists has risen more rapidly. Artist unemployment grew by 2.4 percentage points between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008, while unemployment rates among professional workers and the general population grew by only 1.0 and 1.9 percentage points, respectively.

    But as far as the NEA being a “target,” screeching from The Heritage Foundation and other conservative outlets is typical; this 1997 post tells us, with the requisite harrumphing, of an NEA-funded project called “Ten Cents a Dance,” a three-vignette video in which “two women awkwardly discuss their mutual attraction.” It “depicts anonymous bathroom sex between two men” and includes an “ironic episode of heterosexual phone sex” (funny coming from a source sympathetic to the political party of Larry Craig).

    Also, I would argue that Baby Newton Leroy Gingrich’s attack on the NEA when he was former House Speaker was one of the reasons why he was removed from power – I believe people in this country, for the most part, have enough good sense to see the merit of public funding of the NEA (and, indirectly, public television).

    And finally, this Fix Noise epistle tells us the following…

    “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, he said.”These sorts of programs (including the NEA of course) really do need to be funded by the patrons that go to the performances — not by the federal government.”

    Applause
    Which begs the question, who exactly do you think “the government” is?

    Update 9/17/09: David Mastio, Senior Editor for Online Opinion of The Washington Times, replied today and told me the following…

    “The NEA we were writing about and the NEA in the following paragraph are not the same NEA. Not that I am one to call the kettle black, cause I have written out the name of the teacher/NEA instead of the Art/NEA and then had to go back and fix it.”

    I appreciate his response, but I reread the editorial and couldn’t find any reference to the NEA as the National Education Association. If I missed the reference and anyone else finds it, feel free to let me know.

    Update 9/28/09: Sure sounds like the National Endowment for the Arts to me based on this.


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