Monday Mashup (1/21/13)

January 21, 2013

murrow_0

  • I give you some recent lessons in journalistic priorities from the Bucks County Courier Times:
  • On today’s front page, the banner headline has to do with the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court, which isn’t even today (the decision was handed down on January 22, 1973). That takes up the most real estate on the page.
  • Slightly below the middle fold is a reference to the fact that today is the observation of the holiday and day of service for The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Way, waaay down in the lower left corner is a wire service article reminded us that, oh yeah, President Obama is being sworn in for a second term today.
  • The banner headline and story on the front page yesterday had to do with a home invasion and killing in Hilltown Township, which of course is tragic and merits front-page treatment. Immediately beneath the story, though, is an article about all the pro-gun rallies on Saturday January 19th, with a picture of a woman taking aim at a target presumably on a firing range (the image and words communicate the impression that what you might call the gun culture is something to be admired…um, if they wanted to communicate that, couldn’t they do it some other way that juxtaposing it with a story about a murder on the front page?).
  • The fourth estate freak show drags on…

    Update 1/22/13: To be fair, I should note that the inauguration got the “full spread” front page treatment today, including a nice pic of the Obamas walking down Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • And I suppose it’s logical, then, to turn to this item from Mikey the Beloved (the story is dated from last April, but this definitely is a familiar refrain)…

    Members of Congress average annual salaries of $174,000 per year, according to the government.

    Taxpayers spend an estimated $111,000 per year on each lawmaker’s fringe benefits, medical coverage and pension.
    But all of that could be put on hold indefinitely, under a bill whose 40-plus co-sponsors were joined last week by Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.

    Fitzpatrick on Wednesday scheduled a media teleconference to urge passage of the proposed No Budget, No Pay Act.

    And the author of this gimmick, IMHO, is House “Democrat” Jim Cooper of Tennessee.

    However, since this Courier Times story comes from someone who is apparently an actual reporter as opposed to Mikey’s stenographer Gary Weckselblatt, we also learn the following…

    The federal government has several proposed budgets. The problem is no one can agree on them.

    In February, President Barack Obama released a proposed budget for fiscal year 2013. Republicans balked at the size of government programs and proposed deficit spending.

    In March, Republicans in Congress released their plan. The White House sharply criticized proposed changes to Medicare, Medicaid and food stamp programs.

    Last (April), U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad signaled that no action was likely on any budgets until after the November election.

    So what could be wrong with Mikey’s “No Budget, No Pay” advocacy? Well, for starters, it could potentially violate the 27th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as noted here.

    As Constitutional law professor Adam Winkler tells us…

    “The answer is unclear because the 27th Amendment has never been authoritatively interpreted by the Supreme Court,” Winkler said in an email. “Yet it seems almost certainly unconstitutional. Withholding pay effectively ‘var[ies] the compensation’ of lawmakers. The amendment doesn’t say only raises in pay are invalid. It refers to ‘varying the compensation.’ Just as a ‘bonus’ would vary lawmakers’ compensation, so does withholding money. This logic applies even if the pay is ultimately delivered to lawmakers. By outlawing ‘varying the compensation,’ the 27th Amendment prohibits laws that change when lawmakers receive pay, not just the amount they receive.”

    I see this whole thing ending up on the docket of Hangin’ Judge JR one of these days, and it’s anybody’s guess what will happen after that; wonder if he’d be in the mood for payback by letting the Repugs be dumb enough to cut their own pay, as well as that of everyone else in Congress, when you consider that Roberts has sparred with Congress (and the White House) over judicial funding, as noted here?.

  • Further, I give you the following absurdity from The Weakly Standard (here)…

    Since becoming the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama has delivered 699 speeches using a Teleprompter, according to statistics compiled by CBS reporter Mark Knoller. That number includes campaign speeches, State of the Union addresses, and everything in between.

    All told, according to Knoller, President Obama has made 1,852 speeches, remarks and comments.

    Obama’s given 35 “speeches in which he referred to Slurpees.” He’s held 58 town halls.

    The president’s gone golfing 113 times, playing 52 times close to the White House at Andrews Air Force Base.

    And Obama’s taken 13 vacations, which all told have spanned 83 days.

    These are the priorities for our corporate media as well as movement conservatism these days, my fellow prisoners: counting the number of times President Obama has gone golfing, how many slurpee references he has made in speeches, and how many times he has used a Teleprompter (And yes, I know “fluff” pieces like this are not unexpected for the inauguration, but let’s hope it doesn’t get any lower than this, OK?).

    And vacation days? Really?

    As noted here

    President Bush spent 32% of his presidency on vacation.

    Bush passed Reagan in total vacation days in 2005 with three and a half years left in his presidency. Reagan spent all or part of 335 days in Santa Barbara over his 8 year presidency. Bush spent 487 days at Camp David during his presidency and 490 days at his Crawford, Texas ranch, a total of 977 days.

    When you add the days President Bush spent at Kennebunkport, Maine, he spent a total of 1,020 days away from the White House — close to 3 years. At 1,020 days, Bush was close to being on vacation more days than President John F. Kennedy’s total days in office (1,036). Representatives at the Nixon and Johnson Libraries indicate those two Presidents were on vacation less than 1,000 days during their terms.

    President Obama has been on vacation (now 83) days from 2009 to (2013). At the three year mark into their first terms, George W. Bush spent 180 days at his ranch in Crawford, Texas and Ronald Reagan spent 112 vacation days at his ranch in California. Of course, staff was around all three Presidents on vacations and all White House aides argue that the commander-in-chief is never “out of touch” with work.

    Sure, Dubya and The Sainted Ronnie R were never “out of touch” with work. Of course not.

    Yes, I know I’ve pointed this out before. Yes, I have no doubt that it will be brought up once more and I’ll have to repeat it again since the shame impulse is nowhere to be found within right-wing media (and when it comes to golf, who can forget this infamous Dubya moment?).

  • Finally (and speaking of the prior Bushco regime and our corporate media), this tells us the following…

    Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has joined CBS News as a contributor — just in time for inauguration coverage.

    Rice, who served as secretary of state during President George W. Bush’s second term, made her debut on the network’s “Face the Nation” program Sunday and will be included in inauguration coverage on Monday.

    CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager and president David Rhodes made the announcement Sunday, saying Rice “will use her insight and vast experience to explore issues facing America at home and abroad.”

    Steve Benen does a good job of reminding us about what kind of a job Rice did on behalf of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, but I think it’s important to recall the following also:

  • Here, she was accused by Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, defendants in an espionage trial, of being complicit while AIPAC allegedly dictated US foreign policy from 1999 until the middle of the last decade at least (the post also links to a Think Progress post where Rice admits that Iraq is “a stain on her legacy” – ya’ think?).
  • Here, she “dressed down” a jewelry store clerk because Madame Rice thought he received less than stellar service (typical for the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch).
  • As noted here, she was in the process of buying designer shoes while Katrina hit (terrible optics, if nothing else).
  • Condi and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met (in March ’08) with some of the Kremlin’s political opposition, but did not meet with its most vocal opponents, notably chess legend Garry Kasparov, as noted here.
  • Here, she gave, at the very least, a willing ear to Henry Kissinger, one of history’s most notorious liars, on the question of allowing troop withdrawals (or even the discussion of that topic) while Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Mesopotamia continued to disintegrate.
  • Rice said here that she had no interest in Mideast diplomacy to maintain “the status quo ante” while she was in the process of doing just that (here).
  • And yes, as alluded to earlier, Rice had a lot of company in her “hoocoodanode” mea culpa about 9/11, possibly her worst foreign policy failure of all (here).
  • It’s probably thoroughly naïve of me to feel compelled to point out that it’s not just any media organization that has agreed to give a pay check and air time to another Bushco accomplice, but the Columbia Broadcasting System (which was once called “the Tiffany Network”). CBS, which once employed the man who spoke the following words:

    If we confuse dissent with disloyalty — if we deny the right of the individual to be wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox…then hundreds of millions…who are shopping about for a new allegiance will conclude that we are concerned to defend a myth and our present privileged status. Every act that denies or limits the freedom of the individual in this country costs us the … confidence of men and women who aspire to that freedom and independence of which we speak and for which our ancestors fought.

    No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.

    American traditions and the American ethic require us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst. To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.

    We cannot make good news out of bad practice.

    We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion — a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply.

    Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live.

    murrow_0
    Even though I’m curious to find out what he would have said, I’m still glad that Edward R. Murrow didn’t live to see any of this.


  • Friday Mashup Part 1 (9/4/09)

    September 4, 2009

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  • Zachary Roth at TPM Muckraker brings us the following today…

    The fallout from Mark Sanford’s Argentinian romance is getting increasingly nasty.

    Yesterday, State Senator Jake Knotts, a Republican but a committed Sanford foe, sent a letter to fellow lawmakers, in which he accused unnamed supporters of the bed-hopping chief exec of planting a rumor that Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer — who would become governor if Sanford steps down — is gay.

    So what exactly did Knotts have to say in Bauer’s defense?

    “Ain’t a homosexual bone in his body. That boy is a good boy. It’s a just an attempt to prevent Andre from become governor.”

    Of course, heaven forbid that Bauer actually had “a homosexual bone” in his body. In that event, I suppose Bauer would automatically plummet in the eyes of residents of the Palmetto State (below Sanford, of course) and no longer be “a good boy.”

    Oh, and please tell us when Opie and Aunt Bee return from shopping for a hickory switch and a piece of gingham from the “Piggly Wiggly” in Mount Pilot, OK, Mr. Knotts (any relation to Don)?

  • peril

  • And staying below that Mason-Dixon Line, I give you the following from Tennessee Repug U.S. House Rep Marsha Blackburn (here)…

    President Obama made a decision very early in the health care debate that doomed the process to failure. He decided to let Congress write the proposed bills, with very little input from the White House. Then he made another decision that just added to the problem. He decided that he wanted health care reform passed before Congress left for the August recess.

    Her piece at The Hill’s Congress blog is chock full of this type of unsubstantiated misinformation that I won’t dignify any further. Instead, I’ll present the following from here (I found this from the site’s interactive U.S. map)…

    How Health Insurance Reform will Benefit Tennessee

    LOWER COSTS FOR RESIDENTS OF TENNESSEE

    • Ending the Hidden Tax – Saving You Money: Right now, providers in Tennessee lose over $1.2 billion in bad debt which often gets passed along to families in the form of a hidden premium “tax”.1 Health insurance reform will tackle this financial burden by improving our health care system and covering the uninsured, allowing the 133 hospitals2 and the 18,560 physicians3 in Tennessee to (provide) better care for their patients.

    • Health Insurance Premium Relief: Premiums for residents of Tennessee have risen 77% since 2000.4 Through health insurance reform, 817,500 to 937,800 middle class Tennessee residents will be eligible for premium credits to ease the burden of these high costs.5

    • Strengthening Small Businesses: 74,592 employers in Tennessee are small businesses.6 With tax credits and a health insurance exchange where they can shop for health plans, insurance coverage will become more affordable for them.

    • Reforms that Reduce Your Costs: Under health insurance reform, insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive. Insurance companies will also have to abide by yearly limits on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses, helping 32,900 households in Tennessee struggling under the burden of high health care expenses.7

    INCREASE YOUR CHOICES: PROTECTING WHAT WORKS AND FIXING WHAT’S BROKEN

    • Insurance Stability and Security: Health insurance reform will strengthen our system of employer-based health insurance, with an additional 56,400 people in Tennessee potentially getting insurance through their work.8 Health insurance reform will also ensure that you will always have guaranteed choices of quality, affordable health insurance if you lose your job, switch jobs, move or get sick.

    • Eliminating Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions, Health Status or Gender: 10% of people in Tennessee have diabetes9, and 34% have high blood pressure10 – two conditions that insurance companies could use as a reason to deny you health insurance. Health insurance reform will prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on your health, and it will end discrimination that charges you more if you’re sick or a woman.

    • One-Stop Shopping – Putting Families in Charge: With the new health insurance exchange, you can easily and simply compare insurance prices and health plans and decide which quality affordable option is right for you and your family. These proposals will help the 845,700 residents of Tennessee who currently do not have health insurance to obtain needed coverage, and it will also help the 306,700 Tennessee residents who currently purchase insurance in the individual insurance market.11

    • Guaranteeing Choices: The largest health insurer in Tennessee holds 45% of the market, which limits the choices that you have for finding coverage.12 With a competitive public insurance option, you will have more choices and increased competition that holds insurance companies accountable.

    ASSURE QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICANS

    • Preventive Care for Better Health: 41% of Tennessee residents have not had a colorectal cancer screening, and 22% of women have not had a mammogram in the past 2 years.13 By requiring health plans to cover preventive services for everyone, investing in prevention and wellness, and promoting primary care, health insurance reform will work to create a system that prevents illness and disease instead of just treating it when it’s too late and costs more.

    • Improving Care for Children and Seniors: 21% of children in Tennessee have not visited a dentist in the past year,14and 30% of seniors did not receive a flu vaccine15. Health reform will ensure coverage for kids’ dental, vision, and hearing needs, and will promote quality coverage for America’s seniors, including recommended immunizations.

    Also, a poll from June commissioned by opponents of health care reform finds majority support for a public option across the country (I haven’t been able to find polling numbers for the entire state of Tennessee, though I know it’s favored in the district of “Bush Dog” Jim Cooper).

    I suppose, though, that this is about what you would expect from someone who said “we’re not going to cry ‘emergency’ every time we have a ‘Katrina’” (here), even though Blackburn supported the emergency Katrina appropriation all the same (sounds like the “blind squirrel finding the nut” again).

  • DanBush

  • Former Bushie (and Indiana governor) Mitch Daniels (left in the pic) opines as follows in the Murdoch Street Journal today (on the matter of states having to get their fiscal houses in order due to the recession) …

    …the political impulse to protect government largess leads many states to aggravate their dilemma. Already more than half have raised taxes, often on businesses, serving only to chase them and their tax payments away and into the open arms of states like Indiana. Our traffic flow of interested investors is as heavy as it was in 2007. Since January we have welcomed the consolidation of more than 30 firms that closed up shop elsewhere and chose us as the low-cost, enterprise-friendly environment among their current locations.

    Indiana was near bankruptcy five years ago but is relatively solvent today because we have spent the intervening years making hard choices. We have reformed state procurement, contracted out some jobs, cut costs, and relentlessly scrutinized expenditures in pushing for annual improvement in departments large and small. We’ve also reduced the number of state employees by some 5,000 from the 2004 level.

    In contrast to the national pattern, our per capita state spending has cut, on average, 1.4% each of the past five years. Indiana is now the sixth thriftiest state by this measure. And if we Hoosiers are realizing that we need to re-examine what we can afford to have our government do, what must they be thinking in Albany, Lansing or Trenton?

    Yep, typical Bushie…never misses an opportunity to score a political point or two against those baad “blue states” (even though Obama won Indiana last year).

    To me, this is a case of “right message, wrong messenger.” I’m not going to comment on what may or may not be working in Indiana, since I don’t know enough about the state to say anything. And fiscal prudence is always a good thing wherever you live.

    However, Brad DeLong tells us here of a moment when Daniels could have stood up to his White House pals and, as a result, probably relieved some of the burden we currently face (Daniels was Bushco’s OMB director at the time)…

    One of the threads of Ron Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty is that Mitch Daniels simply did not do his job as Bush’s OMB Director. The OMB Director is the principal–indeed, the only–voice inside the White House for fiscal prudence, for trying to ensure that the money the government spends is spent well and that the resources the government raises are adequate for the spending plans the White House evolves. While he was Bush OMB Director, Daniels simply did not do his job.

    Page 219:

    Mitch Daniels became agitated. He blurted out, “Well, yes, but if you can’t do the right thing when you’re at 85 percent approval, then when can you do the right thing? I think it’s time to say no.” Everyone looked with surprise at Daniels–he has a way of expressing what others are thinking but don’t say. Often, he’d find himself doubling back when he got an arched brow from Cheney or Rove…

    And page 296:

    The Commerce Secretary echoed much of what had been said…. As usual, not a real discussion, O’Neill thought as he looked over at [Mitch] Daniels…. He knew Daniels was focused on the perils of rising deficits, but it would take gumption to air those concerns in a room full of tax cut ideologues. “I think we need to balance concerns,” Daniels said…. “You need to be out front on the economy, but I am concerned that this package may not do it. The budget hole is getting deeper… we are projecting deficits all the way to the end of your second term.” From across the table came glares from the entire Bush political team. Daniels paused…. “Ummmm. On balance, then, I think we need to do a [tax cut] package… accelerate the rate cuts and the double taxation of dividends…” O’Neill looked with astonishment at Daniels… turn 180 degrees in midsentence…

    And Daniels was just as wrong here on pending cap-and-trade legislation, by the way.

  • fastfood_huge.52.263738

  • Finally, I give you the comedy stylings of Michael G. Franc and James Sherk of the National Review Online (here)…

    Why has teenage unemployment jumped so sharply? In part the deteriorating economy. But also because Congress voted to put teenagers out of work. The August employment report is the first after the minimum wage increase took effect at the end of July. Of course, that is not what Congress said it wanted to do when it raised the minimum from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour.

    But no matter what Congress sets the minimum wage at the true minimum wage is always zero. Employers do not have to hire workers, and they will not when hiring an additional worker brings in less money than that workers adds to the company. Consider an unskilled teenage worker whose labor increases a restaurant’s earnings by $7.00 an hour. The restaurant will pay up to $7.00 an hour to hire that worker. But when Congress raises the minimum wage to $7.25 that worker will lose his job. No restaurant will hire workers for a loss. Any business that did so would quickly go bankrupt. By raising the minimum wage Congress voted to lay off every worker who produces less than $7.25 an hour.

    I have no word on what formula these two pundits know of or came up with to compute the profit an employee generates for his or her employer and how that determines that person’s wage (sooo…then these two shouldn’t be paid the same amount if their online “hit” count goes down, for example?), but I believe this post from about a year ago debunks the rap that an increase in the minimum wage leads to greater unemployment…

    It ascribes a significant part of the problem of high teenage unemployment rates to high state minimum wages (or “maximum folly” according to the editorial). This claim disintegrates, however, under even the most cursory examination. Here’s why. Teenage unemployment rose from 13.1% to 17% between 2000 and 2004. According to the (Wall Street) Journal’s argument, the increases in teen unemployment should have been higher in states with higher minimum wages than in those with low minimum wages. What actually happened was the reverse: Teenage unemployment rose 3.4% in the high minimum wage states, compared to 4.2% in the others.

    So in response, I have a question to ask Franc and Sherk (assuming their line of reasoning is applied to themselves and they end up having to seek other employment)…

    Can I have fries with that?


  • Health Care Hijinks From Two WATB Dems

    May 12, 2009

    baby,crying,tantrum-thumb(And here’s the “straight dope” on the abbreviation, as it were.)

    With the latest news of these magical cost savings suddenly realized by those who have crafted our wonderful for-profit health care system in this country (here), as well as the inevitable attack from industry-friendly and Obama and Dem-unfriendly groups (here), we know now that the battle for health care reform is underway for real.

    Another sign of that development is the inevitable whining from some of the more notorious members of the “Bush Dog” congressional Democrats about how they don’t like the process of crafting legislation that provides coverage for all, as noted here from the New York Times, including this excerpt…

    The lawmakers, members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, said they were “increasingly troubled” by their exclusion from the bill-writing process.

    They expressed their concerns in a letter delivered Monday to three House committee chairmen writing the bill, which House leaders hope to pass this summer.

    Representative Mike Ross, an Arkansas Democrat who is chairman of the coalition’s health task force, said: “We don’t need a select group of members of Congress or staff members writing this legislation. We don’t want a briefing on the bill after it’s written. We want to help write it.”

    Another coalition member, Representative Jim Cooper of Tennessee, did not sign the letter, but expressed similar concerns.

    “Especially in the House,” Mr. Cooper said, “there’s too much of this attitude that if it’s bipartisan, that just means you didn’t negotiate hard enough. I hear that a lot from folks. They are almost looking for ways to eliminate Republican support.”

    Many of my blogging brethren have expressed the following sentiment already, but please allow me to add my voice to the chorus.

    Representative Cooper, for that statement and many, many other reasons similar to it, please make it official and join the Republican Party. I’m sure they’d welcome you with open arms (more about Cooper on this issue shortly).

    Before that, though, please allow me to point out the following about Dem Rep Mike Ross…

    For someone who claims to be supporting his constituents, let it be known here that he opposed amending that horrible 2005 bankruptcy law to allow for homeowners to restructure their mortgages (a lot cheaper to do that than to repossess a home).

    Also, Ross pretty much nailed the “Bush Dog” trifecta of caving to Dubya on Iraq war funding without a troop withdrawal timeline (here, along with Cooper), granting greater surveillance powers to the now-happily-departed Bushco cabal (here, also along with Cooper – I’m sure there are still plenty of “sleepers” from Dubya’s dark days still buried in agencies now overseen by the Obama Administration, though), and joining the “Drill, Baby, Drill” chorus in the ANWR and off the Florida coast (here).

    And as far as Cooper is concerned, Mike Lux of Open Left tells us the following from here…

    I was part of the Clinton White House team on the health care reform issue in 1993/94, and no Democrat did more to destroy our chances in that fight than Jim Cooper.

    So basically, I don’t consider either one of these guys to be real credible on this issue.

    And besides, is it too much trouble to ask that, the next time you’re unhappy with your party leadership for one reason or another, you keep it in the caucus first and leave the media out of it?

    Update 5/14/09: A big hat tip goes out to Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com for this (kind of tells you who has Ross and Cooper’s backs, as it were – and yes, I know Patrick Murphy is on this list; I’ll care if he ever becomes the same obstructionist as the other two “Bush Dog” jokers in this post).


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