Friday Mashup (1/17/14)

January 17, 2014
  • In an otherwise sensible column, Andrew Taylor of the AP inflicts the following here –and of course, since we’re talking about a “villager” like Taylor, the topic MUST be about our supposedly “crushing” debt burden (wrong) and how we’ll have to CUTUCUTCUTCUTCUTCUTCUT so others will have to feel the pain that Taylor won’t have to worry about ever feeling himself on this…

    Excluded are the giant benefit programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps that run on autopilot and are increasingly driving the government deeper into debt.

    Even though the programs that Taylor mentions only account for about 45 percent of federal spending, as noted here.

    And I realize that “run on autopilot” is wingnut code, to say nothing of the fact that it’s wrong anyway since funding legislation still has to be passed by Congress and signed into law by the president; how else can these programs be administered?

    Oh, and as far as supposedly teetering on the edge of a debt apocalypse (or something), I give you Professor Krugman here.

    This type of wankery isn’t unusual for Taylor, who once claimed that President Obama suffered a “slide” in support in 2010 here without providing any, you know, actual data to support that claim.

  • Next (and sticking with financial matters), I give you yet another bad conservative idea on how to supposedly get our federal fiscal house in order (here)…

    After Congress managed in 1986 to largely accomplish the herculean task of tax reform by eliminating the many deductions, exemptions, and credits, those special tax provisions, like desserts, ultimately proved too tempting, betraying erstwhile commitments to diets and good policy alike. The reform was largely undone over time.

    Even the vaunted ‘86 reform left a few things untouched, some habits just proving too difficult to shed. If certainties are limited to death and taxes, a sub-certainty comes in the form of the mortgage interest deduction (MID), which is like the smoking addiction of the tax code.

    We don’t know exactly what will emerge from tax reform discussions, but supposedly everything is on the table (or chopping block, depending on how you see it). Except the MID of course. Defended as a way to encourage homeownership, one would be hard-pressed to come up with a worse way to accomplish this goal.

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh)…

    I’m sick of reading conservatives attack the home mortgage interest deduction. As noted here (quoting a story from Bloomberg News, prior to the 2012 presidential election)…

    Lots of middle class people would be hit hard by that. There is a real political issue here. Give up a mortgage tax deduction (the biggest loophole for the middle class) in order to give trillions of dollars of tax cuts to the rich. It also would make the real estate market much worse because home ownership is subsidized by that deduction.

    I think Romney would lose the suburbs if people understood. Of course, he’ll deny. He wants big tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations and he has a “secret plan” to end the war, I mean to balance the budget.

    Nixon beat George Romney in 1968 primaries, so Mitt became Dick Nixon, just as George Bush II modeled Ronnie Reagan rather than his father. I am tired of Republican “daddy” issues.

    There isn’t a lot that I, as a middle-class homeowner, benefit from when it comes to tax policy and our federal government (except for declining-over-time amounts that we have to pay, which isn’t insignificant I know), but the mortgage interest deduction is definitely one of those benefits (along with deducting state and local taxes; I don’t have a link at the moment, but I’ve seen the idea of getting rid of those deductions floated from conservatives too).

    There’s a reason why Willard Mitt Romney and Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv didn’t touch this with the proverbial ten foot pole. And that’s because they knew that it was a “third rail.”

    However, under the guise of supposedly encouraging “big ideas” or something, I’m sure this will get regurgitated over and over and over, which is why we must be ever vigilant when that happens.

  • Further, it looks like the wingnuts want Rachel Maddow to apologize here for a story saying that a Koch Brothers-affiliated group supported Florida’s totally ridiculous welfare-recipient-drug-testing law; see, the argument is that, because Maddow’s parent employer MSNBC (Microsoft, really) and Comcast, for example, donated to something called the State Policy Network, which counts among its members the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability, then the group is affiliated with Microsoft and Comcast also (hey, if the shoe fits)…

    Well, if this State Policy Network/Florida Foundation for Government Accountability takes money from the Kochs (which doesn’t seem to be in dispute), then what’s the problem with saying that they’re Koch-affiliated?

    Besides, maybe if the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability (which is to say, of course, Charles and David Koch) want to keep a lower profile on this issue (apparently not having the courage of their rotten convictions) then maybe instead of trying to persecute a cable TV personality, they could instead cease and desist from traveling to Georgia, for example, to tell that state how supposedly wonderful Florida’s welfare-recipient-drug-testing law supposedly is (noted here).

  • Continuing, I give you the latest in climate science denialism from Jack Kelly (here)…

    There were more record lows than highs in the United States last year, for the first time since 1993. For the 17th consecutive year, global temperatures were lower than in 1998. Arctic sea ice expanded by about 50 percent, confounding predictions the Arctic would be ice-free by the summer of 2013.

    Oh brother – as noted here in response…

    The Met Office in Britain recently pointed out that there are all sorts of reasons why sea ice extent can bounce around from year to year:

    — temperatures naturally vary from one year to the next ;
    — the amount of cloud can affect the amount of surface melting;
    — summer storms can also break up ice, which can accelerate the melting process;
    — settled conditions can be more conducive to ice forming;
    — winds may act to spread out the ice or push it together.

    Those variables can help explain why sea ice didn’t decline in 2013 as much as it did last year: “In 2012 we saw a record low which was storm which swept through the region in summer, but this year’s weather conditions appear to have been less conducive to ice loss,” noted Ann Keen, a sea ice scientist at the Met Office.

    Since things can vary a fair bit year to year, the Met Office advises looking at longer-term trends. And those are easy to see. There was less Arctic ice, on average, in the 2000s than there was in the 1990s. And there was less ice, on average, in the 1990s than there was in the 1980s.

    Clearly the ice is disappearing. Since 1979, Arctic sea-ice extent has been shrinking by about 4 percent per decade, with summer lows getting about 11 percent smaller each decade. And the volume of Arctic sea ice — which is trickier to measure — also keeps tumbling downward.

    And as long as we’re talking about Kelly, allow me to note that we’re coming up on the ninth anniversary of Kelly’s claim that the Iraq War was “all but won” in February 2005 here (proving among other things, that, like the forces affecting our temperatures, Kelly is an expert at generating hot air and apparently not much else).

  • Finally, this tells us that Repug U.S. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma will end his term early due to his battle with prostate cancer. I wish him well with this health issue, but before anyone gets carried away with too many hosannas to this guy, I think we should remember the following:

    On the positive side, he said that liberals were honest about the deficit, or something, here (true). He also wanted $1 trillion in defense cuts for the next 10 years (here).

    On the negative side, he said that President Obama wanted more people to be dependent on government because Obama supposedly was (here). He also said here that Obama was “perilously close” to impeachment, without providing evidence of course (here). Coburn also blocked a transportation bill affecting the FAA that could have ended up putting about 80,000 people out of work because trees and bike paths supposedly posed a threat to public safety (here).

    Oh, and there’s also the matter of Coburn’s role in the scheme to pay off the mistress of his now-disgraced fellow Repug Senate colleague John Ensign, which Coburn originally denied, though it came to light later (here).

    He also scuttled a budget deal with Dick Durbin because he wanted an additional $130 billion in Medicare cuts (here). Coburn also made sure that $2 billion was removed from funding health care for first responders (here).

    As noted here

    This bastard voted YES for tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. He voted YES to exempt them from the estate tax. He voted YES to give these same rich people additional benefits in the form of capital gains tax cuts. Yet, somehow he had the balls to vote NO on taking care of the 9-11 responders who risked everything to respond to the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil on the grounds that it’s too expensive. How can he possibly rationalize this?

    He also helped to block federal flood insurance here, along with an extension of unemployment benefits here (past is prologue, I guess). And he also told a woman distraught at a town hall over her husband’s brain injury that expecting help from the government was “an inaccurate statement,” or something here (nice guy…and of course, Coburn’s sheep-like minions in attendance applauded – somebody elects these fools, people).

    Tom Coburn made his name as someone who supposedly was a prudent fiscal conservative, but who was in fact a heartless shill on behalf of the “pay no price, bear no burden” one percent of this country, with the accompanying media hagiography provided for him by all-too-willing Beltway corporate media stenographers (as well as Number 44 himself, who didn’t do us any favors on Coburn either).

    He merely reinforced, and did his best to accelerate actually, the already ruinous right-wing political realignment and economic inequality of this country. And I’d be hard-pressed to come up a worse possible epitaph than that.

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    Thursday Mashup (9/27/12)

    September 27, 2012

  • If Mike Fitzpatrick is running in another election, that must mean that it’s time for more smears and partisan garbage (here)…

    Republicans injected one of the region’s most emotionally charged murder cases into a tight Bucks County-based Congressional race late Wednesday night, attempting to tie Democratic challenger Kathryn Boockvar to convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal because of legal work Boockvar’s husband (Jordan Yeager) performed in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

    Republicans point to work Yeager did while he and Boockvar were partners in their own firm. In 2000 Yeager represented Abu-Jamal’s literary agent, who was arrested and charged with petty crimes while protesting his (sic) Abu-Jamal’s conviction. The agent, Frances Goldin, was 75 at the time and was one of 95 people arrested in the demonstration. The prominent agent, an Abu-Jamal supporter, later paid a fine and was sentenced to one year’s probation.

    Yeager, while at a separate Philadelphia firm, worked in 1996 as an attorney for Veronica Jones, a woman who initially gave testimony against Abu-Jamal but later recanted, saying she had been pressured by police when she provided the first version of her story. Yeager told reporters in 1996 police were also trying to intimidate her with arrests on old charges after she changed her story.

    The calls make no mention of the time frame of Yeager’s work. Republican Web ads include a grainy photo of Abu-Jamal alongside an image of Boockvar, who was in her teens at the time of Abu-Jamal’s conviction.

    Umm, so I guess the “issue” is that Yeager represented Mumia Abu-Jamal’s agent and a supporter after Abu-Jamal’s conviction, all of which is still thoroughly legal – ?????

    I guess it isn’t surprising that there’s no “there” there since we’re talking about our wet noodle PA-08 Repug U.S. House rep, who was mute while the state Republican Committee circulated a mailer claiming that Ginny Schrader (Fitzpatrick’s Dem 2004 opponent when running for the House) supported Hezbollah (here), a particularly odious charge since half of her family is Jewish. And this also isn’t surprising coming from the guy who also stood mute in 2006 while the Army service of former rep Patrick Murphy was questioned by two veterans, one who served in another branch of the military and one who served in the Army in a completely different time frame from the one in which Murphy served (here).

    I don’t know how the polling is going in this race, but even though this is right of out Mikey’s slimy playbook, the fact that he felt he had to resort to it must mean he’s more anxious about the final result than I thought.

  • And speaking of underhanded Repugs, I give you this from Mikey’s pal John Mica…

    Since taking office, the current administration has rebuffed nearly all attempts by Congress to create jobs and improve our economy. Voters will understand this at the polls. The rate of poverty, the number of food stamp recipients and soaring unemployment, especially among minorities, are all factors working strongly against the President’s campaign at this time. They are particularly poignant in Florida and the I-4 Corridor.

    Isn’t it darkly humorous to see how those who are disadvantaged actually show up on the radar of Republican Party politicians during election time, though they seem to be invisible to the “Party of Lincoln” at every other moment?

    As noted here, if you’re going to talk about poverty, you need to talk about unemployment. With that in mind, this tells us that Mica proposed a six-year transportation reauthorization bill last year that “would cut transportation funding to a level that is 20 percent less than the last reauthorization bill signed by President Bush in 2005.”

    Meanwhile, as noted here (and with not a peep of protest from Mikey or Mica), the American Jobs Act continues to sit in the House with no action (and this tells us that Medicaid expansion in the Sunshine State, which would help to alleviate the plight of some of those in poverty, would hardly “bust the budget” as Rick Scott, Mica’s fellow Floridian and Repug, claim here…when Scott isn’t trying to illegally purge voter rolls, that is).

  • Next, this story tells us the following…

    The House Ethics Committee on Tuesday officially cleared Rep. Maxine Waters of all ethics charges after nearly three years of investigating the California Democrat.

    

Members of the panel handed the lawmaker a gigantic victory by voting unanimously to find her not guilty of allegations that she tried to secure federal money during the financial crisis for a bank in which her husband owned stock.

    “It appears that Rep. Waters recognized and made efforts to avoid a conflict of interest with respect to OneUnited,” the committee said on Tuesday.

    Basically, Waters’ grandson represented OneUnited Bank and lobbied for TARP funds, but Waters made sure OneUnited didn’t get any because it would have been a conflict of interest (Waters’ husband would have reaped a significant windfall). All of which makes me wonder why this was investigated in the first place.

    Oh, and by the way, this development proves yet again that Michelle Malkin is an idiot (here).

  • Further, this item in USA Today caught my eye…

    Income is growing much faster in Republican-leaning “red states” than in Democratic-tilting “blue states” or the pivotal swing states that will decide the 2012 presidential election, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

    Personal income in 23 red states has risen 4.6% since the recession began in December 2007, after adjusting for inflation. Income is up just 0.5% in 15 blue states and Washington, D.C., during that time. In the dozen swing states identified by USA TODAY that could vote either way Nov. 6, income has inched ahead 1.4% in 4 ½ years.

    The big drivers of red state income growth: energy and government benefit payments such as food stamps.

    Food stamps? Really???

    Well then, shouldn’t those recipients automatically vote for President Obama? I mean, the Teahadists call him the “food stamp president,” after all, as noted here.

  • Continuing, I give you the following fit of umbrage from The Daily Tucker (here, from someone named Thomas Kilgannon)…

    Dear Mr. President:

    On September 14, at Andrews Air Force Base, you paid tribute to four Americans who lost their lives in the service of our country. These individuals were killed by terrorists who carried out an orchestrated attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Along with their families, friends and co-workers, you met the caskets containing the remains of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty and Sean Smith.

    In closing your tribute to these men, you said that “the flag they served under now carries them home.” Indeed it did. American flags draped the caskets of each of these patriots and were solemnly presented to their families “on behalf of a grateful nation.” As you know, the manner in which the American flag is placed on a casket, and how it is folded, are rich in meaning. The protocol symbolically unites the deceased with America’s first patriots, who won our independence.

    This month, in the course of a few days, Americans saw contrasting images of our flag in the news media. As described above, they watched you at Andrews AFB, a familiar ceremony in which the flag is proudly and prominently displayed to convey American resolve, but also a sense of national mourning. On the other hand, American citizens saw video footage showing angry Muslims desecrating the Stars and Stripes to demonstrate the depth of their hatred for America. Their understanding of how important our flag is to us is precisely the reason they burn it.

    Last week, as fundamentalist Muslim mobs burned American flags, it was revealed that you, Mr. President, took our nation’s banner, modified it with your political logo, and offered it for sale on your website. The modified American flag was designed for your personal and political profit.

    Mr. President, this is repugnant.

    In response, I give you this

    Here we go again with the right trying to turn a total non-issue into a firestorm. FOX News is LIVID that the Obama online store is now “selling copies of an American flag painting that replaces the 50 stars in the blue field with the president’s campaign logo.”

    Meanwhile, the Obama campaign tweeted that the print — entitled “Our Stripes: Flag Print” and designed by Ross Bruggink and Dan Olson of Studio MPLS — is “a poster to say there are no red states or blue states, only the United States.” Sadly, those who are staunchly red staters seem to want to take that unifying message and turn it into something extremely divisive. They’re crying foul, saying it’s creepy, “un-American,” “offensive,” “insulting,” and “stoops to new lows.” Ay yi yi!

    To be fair, I could see how any deviation from what we know the American flag to look like today in 2012 might upset people. It’s a sensitive subject. Especially those who have served in the military under that flag. And those people are entitled to their thoughts and feelings surrounding the image of the American flag.

    That said, you would think someone who considers themselves a “patriot,” a proud American, would be passionate about American values, which includes freedom of speech and expression. That’s all this is.

    The American flag has been used in political campaigns for probably over a century by both of the major political parties and some others (and by the way, I have no evidence that Kilgannon served).

    But let’s buy this phony-baloney premise for a minute, though. Let’s say that the image of the flag should never be used for political campaigns.


    Well then, what do you call this (from the GOP online store)? Call me crazy, but doesn’t that look suspiciously like an image of the flag behind that airplane (a subtle “9/11” reminder also)?

    I would say that “repugnant” is as “repugnant” does.


    Update 10/24/12: Oh, and by the way, wouldn’t this guy be guilty of appropriating the flag for political purposes too?

  • Finally, it looks like we lost the war in Afghanistan; we must, because wingnut columnist Jack Kelly said so (here)…

    As of Monday, 1,493 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan, 70 percent of them since Barack Obama became president. About 15 percent of NATO troops killed this year have been killed by our purported Afghan allies. “Green on blue” attacks were virtually unheard of four years ago.

    I guess, in a way, it’s a good thing that Kelly is saying something about the Afghanistan war, because we should all be paying more attention and clamoring to get our military out of there; of course, with the Repugs moving further and further into crazyland every day, that gives Dems and excuse to move more and more to “the sensible center,” as our pampered Beltway pundits like to refer to it. I’m not saying that to excuse our staying in The Land Where Empires Crumble, I hasten to add. I’m just saying that our goal should have been only to take out bin Laden and al Qaeda and then leave, but we are where we are.

    My problem, though, is that this criticism is coming from a guy who claimed that Dubya’s Iraq war was “all but won” in February 2005 here (I also cannot help but wonder what kind of a comment Kelly is making about our military, since, if someone had said this about Iraq under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, something like this would have happened – in fact, something like that did…also, as noted here, a big part of the reason why we’re in the mess we’re in there is that Dubya outsourced the Afghan war to Pakistan, providing a minimal amount of U.S. troops in Afghanistan while concentrating on Iraq instead).

    Or to put it another way, as journalist Douglas Anders wrote in February 2004 (here)…

    “Every Saturday morning I look forward to the Jack Kelly column on the Op-Ed page of the Blade. As surely as things fall down, Kelly can be counted on to recycle half-informed (not to mention half-formed) arguments from the right side of the blogosphere, and dutifully march forth to make the GOP sanctioned argument of the week. His modus operandi is simple and unvarying: report the facts that support his thesis, ignore everything that undermines it and end with an overblown claim that Democrats (or the ‘nay-sayers’ or peacenicks or Bush-critics) are nothing more than unrepentant liars. He rarely lies outright (though I have caught a few), but his one-sided presentation of the facts always produces a deeply deceptive column. I warn you, if you try to make pro-Republican arguments based on what you read in a Jack Kelly column, you will quickly establish that you are an easily hoodwinked fool. There are good honest conservatives out there, but Jack Kelly isn’t one of them, he exists to regurgitate the GOP line of the day.”

    And finally, I give you Kelly himself from his infamous 2005 column…

    “…when will journalists be held to account for getting every major development in the war on terror wrong?”

    When indeed?


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