Wednesday Mashup (11/21/12)

November 22, 2012

  • Yep, Thanksgiving will soon be upon us; one way to tell is that the Bucks County Courier Times ran its full-page ad for the Surplus City Gun Mart (well whaddaya know…a Yugo Zastava AK-47 PAP M70 is on sale for $675! Now here comes another angry comment thread started by a gun owner pissed off at me for not saying whether or not it was a full or semi-automatic).
  • Continuing, it looks like the punditocracy is still licking its collective wounds over the Repug election losses suffered two weeks ago – Ross Douthat opined as follows in the New York Times recently (here)…

    Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values — reason rather than superstition, tolerance rather than bigotry, equality rather than hierarchy. But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.

    Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do — one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

    Yes, you only need government if you’re “assimilating downward,” according to Douthat.

    Apparently it’s necessary for me to point out that one of our major political parties subjected this country earlier this year to all kinds of fear mongering about the supposed horrors of contraception (and I’ll note that again later), which would definitely help to reduce teen pregnancy (here – sorry to re-inflict “Little Ricky” on everybody again), and that same political party did all it could do to oppose the DREAM Act, which would encourage educational opportunity for Hispanics born of undocumented workers as a condition of citizenship (with the “E” in DREAM standing for “education” – hard to believe that Orrin Hatch was a co-sponsor of the original bill introduced in 2001 with Dick Durbin). And here’s a hint; that party isn’t the Democrats.

    I suppose it’s just “the soft bigotry of low expectations” for Douthat to assume that the only way Hispanics would support the Dems would be if they were getting a handout, but apparently that’s what we have here (with that awful phrase coined by Douthat’s fellow traveler and Bushie Michael Gerson, who, if nothing else, saw the need to reach out to Hispanics for real, albeit for political expediency, in a way Douthat apparently does not).

  • Next, I give you some true hilarity from Michael Barone of Irrational Spew Online (here)…

    Barack Obama attended more than 200 fundraisers for his presidential campaign, but he refrained from raising money for congressional Democrats.

    That proved to be a wise move for him, as were his strategists’ decisions to run heavy ad campaigns against Mitt Romney and to build an even more effective turnout machine in target states.

    But it proved to be less than helpful to his party. Democrats did gain two Senate seats thanks to clueless Republican candidates and Republicans’ failure to produce better turnout.

    But Democrats got beaten badly in races for the U.S. House and state legislatures. That’s clear when you compare the number of House Democrats after this year’s election with the number of House Democrats after 2008.

    In response, allow me to add this, which tells us that the U.S. House Repugs lost eight seats and the Dems picked up eight seats from 2010 until now (incremental progress to be sure, but progress all the same).

    Also, I’ve read some of my lefty brethren, including the folks doing God’s work at Think Progress, decrying the fact that the Repugs gerrymandered congressional districts to favor their party’s incumbents (and as noted here, when you look at net vote totals, the Dems were chosen more than the Repugs, though not by much). I have no doubt that the gerrymandering charge is true, but the Dems aren’t completely innocent on this either, since, as nearly as I can tell, that’s what happened to the gone-and-definitely-not-missed Repug U.S. House Rep Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland (I’m not going to tell you the Dems are perfect, just that the Repugs are better at seizing power and holding onto it by any means necessary).

  • Continuing, Jon Meacham of Time tells us the following; namely, that Number 44 should try to imitate Number 3’s second term (here)…

    At his core, from year to year and age to age, Thomas Jefferson was a politician who sought office and, once in office, tried to solve the problems of his day and set a course for the future within the constraints of his time and place. That he often did so with skill and effectiveness is a tribute to his life and is, I think, the heart of his legacy.

    Far be it for me to criticize a towering intellect like Jefferson, but I will only note the following from here; namely, that Jefferson’s second term wasn’t particularly “ducky.” The biggest thing he did wrong was to try and institute an embargo in an effort to remain neutral in France’s war with Great Britain; the embargo failed, severely hurting the commerce of the northeast states, and by basically entering the Napoleonic Wars on the anti-British side, Jefferson’s actions paved the way to our involvement in the War of 1812.

    Every president in my experience who is elected to a second term faces some kind of travail, either of his own making or not. And believe me when I tell you that I don’t wish that on President Obama, since he has already inherited enough trouble without having to create any more.

  • Further, there are some on my ideological side who have quite rightly taken Charles Lane of the WaPo to task, but I’ve more or less given him a pass. That is, until now; here, he basically says that the income tax deduction for state and local taxes should be eliminated because it benefits “blue” states that “need to live within their means” (see, they have “their expensive urban school systems, bloated pension liabilities and all” – with “urban” being a code for those oh-so-bad Obama voters who “want stuff”).

    Of course, Lane doesn’t even take into account that, regardless of what happens with the budget and the Beltway “fiscal cliff” kabuki, “blue” states will end up paying most of the bill anyway (here). Also, here is an example of “red state socialism” that doesn’t do anything to help our finances either (and Lane, imagining himself as a supposed fiscal guru here, once claimed that cutting the minimum wage was a supposed means to stimulate job growth.

    (I’ll tell you what – I’ll just let Atrios, using that Twitter thingie, have the last word here.)

  • Finally, this Jim Treacher idiot over at The Daily Tucker tells us the following (here)…

    When last we heard from Sandra Fluke, she had parlayed the worldwide fame she earned by being insulted by Rush Limbaugh into a spot on the Obama campaign. Her public appearances have been very successful, with attendance numbers sometimes breaking double digits.

    I was going to try and paraphrase Treacher some more, but I’m not going to bother; putting it as simply as I can, he is criticizing Fluke for her claim that an unintended pregnancy can be a barrier to a career or educational opportunity (which, as noted here, ties into a Guttemacher Institute study that claims the very same thing).

    (Also, though I’m sure Treacher and his fellow wingnuts don’t care, I’m going to provide this link anyway, telling us that the U.N. has declared that contraception is a “human right.”)

    Beyond that, let’s not forget how Fluke ended up in the spotlight; as noted below from here

    Fluke, then a 30-year-old law student at Georgetown, was invited by Democrats to speak at a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the new Administration rules on Conscience Clause exceptions in health care.[20] The exception applies to church organizations themselves, but not to affiliated nonprofit corporations, like hospitals, that do not rely primarily on members of the faith as employees.[21] In addition, another exception was created for religious institutions in which an employee can seek birth control directly from the insurance company instead of the religious-based nonprofit.[22] Democrats requested the committee add Sandra Fluke to the first panel, which was composed of clergy and theologians. Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-California) refused, stating that Fluke lacked expertise, was not a member of the clergy, and her name was not submitted in time.[20][23] Democratic members criticized the decision not to include Fluke since it left that panel with only male members,[24] when the hearing covered contraception coverage.[25]

    So basically, if the Repugs had allowed Fluke to speak at the hearing instead of engaging in a typical hissy fit, then that probably would have been the end of it. But no.

    When I worked on the phones for President Obama and the Democrats a couple of days before the election, I had the opportunity to meet Sandra Fluke; she and Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood stopped by. It was hard for me to recall a more unassuming individual; if anything, she was effusive in her praise of our efforts and tried to downplay her own accomplishments. I made sure to thank her for standing up to Rush Limbaugh and the other blowhards on the right on the contraception issue, and if anything, she was embarrassed by my compliment.

    I started this post writing about Ross Douthat and his column about the Dems and Hispanics. And yes, it’s true that Republican alienation of this very powerful voting bloc had a lot to do with their losses on November 6th.

    But make no mistake that this bunch also lost because of their shameful, despicable words and actions to a hell of a lot of women in this country. And the Sandra Fluke case is Exhibit A on that sorry score.

    And if the Repugs choose to learn absolutely nothing and repeat their grotesque actions two years from now, then they will entirely deserve the electoral losses they will inevitably suffer once again.

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    Tuesday Mashup (9/18/12)

    September 19, 2012
  • I know this is a bit behind the news cycle, what with Willard Mitt Romney basically writing off 47 percent of this country as believing that we’re “dependent” on government, or something (here…oh yeah, like Romney isn’t, insofar as “government” decides what his tax rate is), but I still think this needs to be discussed, particularly the following…

    Mitt Romney (sought) to bolster his support among Latino voters Monday with an address to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, hitting President Obama on the economy and vowing to reform the nation’s “broken” immigration system.

    “No one is exempt from the pain of this economy, but the Hispanic community has been particularly hard hit,” Romney will say, according to excerpts from his address. “While national unemployment is 8.1 percent, Hispanic unemployment is over 10 percent. Over 2 million more Hispanics are living in poverty today than the day President Obama took office.”

    Romney (touted) his economic plan, repeating pledges to “create 12 million jobs by the end of my first term” and vowing to balance the nation’s budget.

    Which I’m sure will happen when the Candyland Magic Spaceship arrives and The Sainted Ronnie R rises from the dead once and for all (still waiting for details, assuming they even exist)…

    “As business-men and -women, and as Hispanics, you understand the threat President Obama’s spending poses for our future,” says Romney. “Many Hispanics have sacrificed greatly to help build our country and our economy, and to leave for their children a brighter future. Today, those sacrifices are being squandered by a president who cannot stop spending.

    Too funny…and in the matter of who spent the most, Number 44 or Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, this tells us that Obama has flattened out the spending versus his ruinous predecessor.

    However, on the matter of the former Massachusetts governor and Hispanics, this tells us that Ann Romney wants Latino voters to get past their “biases,” this tells us how Romney’s policies would hurt Hispanics, and this tells us that The Mittster supports Crazy Steve King, who thinks it’s fine to build an electric, barbed-wire fence to keep out illegal aliens.

    Of course, if Mitt were to find enough Hispanic voters in the other 53 percent group (you know, the “job creators” living off their investment income who just feel oh so put upon because of the rabble clamoring for a “big gumint” handout which are pretty much table scraps by comparison – who should just “go Galt” and be done with it)…well, then that would be a whole other story, huh?

  • Next, it seems that James Sensenbrenner of the U.S. House is in high dudgeon over…well, I’ll let him explain it (here)…

    The latest mandate handed down from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is so ridiculous, even I was shocked. The EPA has now mandated how much gasoline you must buy at certain gas stations. Say hello to the Obama Administration’s four gallon minimum.

    This unprecedented EPA overreach applies when filling up at a gas station that provides both E15 and E10, gasoline with 15 or 10 percent of ethanol, respectively, from the same hose.

    At the insistence of the ethanol industry, the Obama Administration is pushing E15 into the marketplace, regardless of the serious concerns about the fuel’s impact on drivers. From its inception, E15 is a study in the consequences of government interference in the marketplace. The EPA’s decision to set a minimum purchase requirement is just the most recent example.

    Well, before a U.S. House Repug gets his or her shorts in the proverbial knot, let’s provide the following reminder (from here)…

    A 2007 U.S. law enacted under President George W. Bush known as the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS, requires refiners to mix 13.2 billion gallons of renewable fuels, such as ethanol, with gasoline in 2012 and 15 billion gallons by 2015.

    The Tulsa World story also tells us that lawmakers are trying to get the Obama White House to lower the standard because of the severe drought that has hit much of the south and Midwest this year, severely impacting corn yields (hard to imagine that Obama wouldn’t relent on this, particularly in an election year).

    And for the pro-ethanol point of view, I give you this

    Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the ethanol trade group Renewable Fuels Association, criticized the latest attack (from Sensenbrenner).

    “For nearly 30 years, ethanol has been a safe and effective component in gasoline use to the point that all engine makers today warranty their products for E10 use,” Hartwig said via email. “Nothing short of an end to America’s production of renewable fuels will satisfy those that share Mr. Sensenbrenner’s point of view. We don’t intend to let that happen.”

    And (from here)…

    More than 150 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, mostly Republicans representing poultry, cattle and dairy states, sent a letter to the EPA urging a waiver (of the EPA mandate). Twenty-five U.S. senators, about evenly divided by party, wrote a similar letter earlier. No Nebraska or Iowa member of Congress signed the letters.

    The waiver demands are not justified, (Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol) said.

    “The drought’s the problem, not the Renewable Fuel Standard,’’ he said.

    Oh, and for anyone who thinks that Sensenbrenner is a neutral observer here, I give you this; basically, he would love to see development of ethanol and other renewables come screeching to a halt for good.

    I have to admit that this whole matter puts me in a bit of a quandary, since I’m hardly the first person who will rush to defend corn-based ethanol, particularly in a year with this kind of bad weather affecting corn yields (I’d like to see corn on people’s dinner plates as opposed to inside their gas tanks). However, to me the environment trumps all other considerations; relax the EPA standard for now (I think, based on this, the science is pretty set on this issue), but don’t do away with it altogether.

    And if that hurts Sensenbrenner’s “war chest” any, then, as the Speaker of the House infamously stated, “so be it.”

  • Finally, this column from Clintonite Joel Klein and Bushco’s Margaret Spellings tells us the following…

    …America is now five years late in updating No Child Left Behind, the signature national education law governing K-12 public schools. While both of us agree that the law needs significant changes, the one thing it doesn’t need is to be ignored.

    …in response, I give you the following from the reality-based community (here)…

    The Obama administration has given 10 states a waiver from the federal law known as No Child Left Behind — once a bipartisan hope to raise education standards, but now generally regarded as too cumbersome and draconian.

    The White House announced the first round of waivers for 10 states Thursday morning. The administration had said that it would grant the waivers because efforts to revise the 10-year-old law have become bogged down in Congress even though members of both political parties agree that the law has problems and is in need of major changes.

    “After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child Left Behind, my administration is giving states the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility,” President Obama said in a statement released with the announcement.

    “Today, we’re giving 10 states the green light to continue making reforms that are best for them. Because if we’re serious about helping our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone. Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.”

    Obama is scheduled to make a formal announcement later Thursday and will call on Congress to go back to work on revising the law, which was designed to get students up to standards in reading and mathematics by 2014. States sought the waivers because they have been unable to meet the goal and could face sanctions from the federal government for the failure.

    The first states to receive the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee, the White House said. The administration said it is continuing to work with New Mexico, the only state not to receive a waiver in this first round.

    Twenty-eight other states along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have said they would seek a waiver.

    The states are all seeking waivers because they know that NCLB is an underfunded crock with thoroughly unattainable goals, pretty much a PR scam to help line the pockets of well-heeled players in the “learning” bidness (including a Bush family member, as noted here) who gave generously to our prior ruling cabal in the way of campaign donations.

    And of course, Spellings will defend NCLB to the bitter end, even though, as noted here, it piloted unproven programs such as “Reading First” to “promote teaching methods.” Also, Spellings fought the efforts of the Democratic U.S. House to reform NCLB (back when grownups were actually in charge, including our former PA-08 congressman Patrick Murphy), as noted here.

    Also, Spellings said that Head Start “must have strong ties to local school systems” or something, even though her boss proposed cutting Head Start by about $100 million in 2008, as Media Matters noted here.

    The June 2008 post above from yours truly noted that Spellings was once mentioned as a candidate to run for governor of Texas. To most functioning adults with a reasonably adequate brain capacity, this would seem to be a ludicrous notion.

    However, given this story of Spellings’ attack on a PBS cartoon character some years ago while plying her foul craft for her former handlers, it appears that she would be a perfect match for the job.


  • Thursday Mashup (9/17/09)

    September 17, 2009

    NN_27obama2

  • Congratulations to President Obama for abandoning the idiotic, let’s-just-light-some-money-on-fire-since-it-would-accomplish-the-same-thing concept of strategic missile defense, as noted here (and somehow, I never understood how getting Russia POed at the expense of some enthusiasm from the Czechs and some half-hearted cooperation from Poland, as noted here, was beneficial to this country).

    And I’m sure Edward Teller is doing disapproving somersaults in Gehenna, where he no doubt resides at this moment.

  • Rove

  • The Murdoch Street Journal allowed “Bush’s Brain” to spew more bilious nonsense today (from here)…

    On Friday, I was at DePauw University in Indiana debating former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. It was two days after Barack Obama’s big speech before a joint session of Congress and Mr. Dean is a strong advocate for his party’s agenda and a medical doctor, so I expected him to defend the president’s idea of adding a “trigger” to health-care reform to ease its passage and thereby guarantee a government takeover of our health-care system.

    But Mr. Dean turned out to be tougher on triggers than I was. He called them a “terrible” idea.

    It’s now becoming clear that Mr. Obama’s speech failed to rally voters and failed to inspire Democrats to follow their president’s lead.

    Nice try, Turd Blossom.

    As noted here, the reason Dr. Dean opposes “triggers” (en route to a “government takeover of our health care system” – waaay too funny) is because they’re “a means by which politicians kick the policy can down the road—maybe forever, and end up, ultimately doing nothing” (actually, David Sirota points that out here). It’s not because Dean opposes health care reform – quite the opposite, actually.

    And as far as whether or not Obama’s speech was a failure, this Gallup poll from today tells us that “Obama’s approval ratings on the economy (46%) and healthcare (43%) are holding steady over the last two months.”

    And if you want to read something REALLY funny, check this out…

    Those Democrats will soon notice that seniors are worried about Mr. Obama’s proposed Medicare cuts and that Hispanics–the fastest growing part of the electorate–are slipping away from the president. Gallup polls reveal his support among Hispanics fell 14 points to 67% over the summer.

    And now, for the reality point of view (here)…

    The Latino vote comprised 9 percent of the electorate nationwide in 2008, a figure that totals over 11 million voters. This turnout represents a jump of over 3 million voters since 2004, when 7.6 million Latinos cast ballots, and is approximately double the Latino turnout of 2000. Ominously for Republicans, the Latino vote broke overwhelmingly Democratic in 2008. After supporting Democratic candidate John Kerry by a 56-44 percent margin against George W. Bush in 2004, Latinos gave Democratic candidate Barack Obama their support at a 67-31 percent margin against John McCain. As the New York Times showed, Latinos’ movement towards Democrats was one of the biggest demographic shifts from 2004 to 2008.

    The reason behind this shift, according to political pundits and strategists of both parties, was the Republicans’ tarnished brand related to the issue of immigration. As Latino polling expert Sergio Bendixen stated, “the debate over immigration started driving Hispanic voters toward the Democratic party, and the economic black hole clinched it.”

    Can the Dems take any voting bloc for granted, particularly for next year and 2012? Of course not (and though I’m glad to see Obama step up immigration enforcement among employers hiring illegals, that could have a “blowback” if not combined with some common-sense immigration reform, a subject upon which the Repugs also played “kick the can” when they were in charge).

    But any non-partisan individual would have to be muay loco to think that addressing health care reform would be negative in any way towards Hispanics in particular (of course, Rove doesn’t have a non-partisan molecule in his body).

  • FOS_thumbnail%20rockwell%20four%20freedoms%20speech

  • I came across the following post from author Thomas Frank (What’s The Matter with Kansas?) at The Huffington Post today, and I thought he made some good points…

    There are few things in politics more annoying than the right’s utter conviction that it owns the patent on the word “freedom” that when its leaders stand up for the rights of banks to be unregulated or capital gains to be untaxed, that it is actually and obviously standing up for human liberty, the noblest cause of them all.

    Equally annoying is the silence of Democratic Party leaders on the subject. They spend their careers hearing this fatuous argument from the other side, but challenging conservatism’s claim to freedom seems to be beyond their powers. Or beneath their dignity. Or something.

    Today they’re paying for that high-mindedness. While Democrats fussed with the details of health care reforms, conservatives spent months telling the nation that the real issue is freedom, that what’s on the line is American liberty itself.

    Any increase in the size or duties of government, the right tells us, necessarily subtracts from our freedom. Government is, by its very nature, a destroyer of liberties; the Obama administration, specifically, is promising to interfere with the economy and the health care system so profoundly that Washington will soon have us all in chains.

    With that in mind, I’d like to propose some of my own personal “freedoms” that, I think, coincide with much of what I try to do here online and elsewhere to support the Democratic Party and promote reasoned, informed discourse:

  • I have the freedom to speak out against right-wing (and occasionally left-wing) demagoguery masquerading as fact, whose sole purpose is to obfuscate, misinform and/or propagandize, in as respectful a manner as I can (though the occasional bad word may slip through – I should allow some “wiggle room” here).
  • I have the freedom to do this at social networking sites such as this one, as well as through any other means of electronic communication using the most up-to-date technological tools at my disposal (I’m not real big on the idea of Twitter, for example, but I suppose I’ll have to “get with it” at some point). Pursuant to that, I have the freedom to disregard comments expressed in response to my stated opinion that only serve to denigrate me personally, as well as comments that do not apply to my stated position and only serve to obfuscate, misinform and/or propagandize on an unrelated topic.
  • I also have the freedom to communicate my point of view in print media and also in conversations with others in an attempt to inform and possibly influence their opinion.
  • I also have the freedom to venture to other online sites or forums where opinions contrary to my own are expressed in an attempt to inform others, in the hope of influencing their opinions as well.
  • In the event that the exercise stated above leads to personal attacks, I have the freedom to thoroughly defend myself against any aggressive act which results from respectfully voicing my opinion.
  • I also have the freedom to listen to respectful voices of dissent and allow for the possibility that my own opinion may be influenced by the reasoned attempt of others to do the same as I would do.
  • I can’t think of any others at the moment. If anybody else wants to chime in, feel free to do so.


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