Friday Mashup (2/14/14)

February 14, 2014
  • This story hits me where I live.

    If it had not been for the winter weather, I very well may have been involved in this disaster in the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I chose not to travel that route today).

    What matters most, of course, is immediate medical attention to the victims, which is currently underway of course. What matters beyond that is somehow allowing everyone trapped on the highway to get out as safely as possible (with their vehicles intact, or, short of that, with their vehicles salvaged somehow). And then, the roadway needs to be cleaned up to the fullest extent possible, of course.

    But at some future point, when everyone involved is OK (hopefully), I want SOMEBODY to ask this question (preferably a politician – put them to work doing something constructive):

    Why the hell is there STILL no light rail, mass transit alternative from Bucks County near the New Jersey/Trenton area to the western PA suburbs and Chester County in particular?

    Yes, I know – NIMBY. But as far as I’m concerned, that was never a good enough explanation. And it DEFINITELY isn’t a good enough explanation in light of this massive chain accident today.

    Commuter trains run near where we live (the R-3 West Trenton line in particular). It’s no big deal – you barely hear them (can’t say the same for the CSX freight trains, which are a whole other story). And they are clean, relatively speaking. There’s no reason why at least one commuter line cannot run from Bucks through Montgomery to Chester County (or even beyond). No, I don’t have any recent data on this, but I don’t know of a circumstance where a mass transit alternative was offered versus negotiating a congested thoroughfare, and that alternative was ignored.

    The time has long since passed for this discussion to be settled once and for all. If anything positive whatsoever can come of this horror today, then let this be it.

    Update 2/15/14: I apologize for being a bit unclear about something – when I’m talking about mass transit from Bucks to Chester counties, I mean that for both directions.

  • And as noted herewow, so Smerky has graduated to the higher (?) ranks of the pundit class now that he has been absorbed by “The Most Trusted Name in News.”

    I think this calls for a brief retrospective of some of his “highlights”:

  • As noted here, he once complained that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels felt that he had to drop out of consideration for the 2012 Repug presidential nomination because of too much scrutiny of Daniels’ personal life, even though our intrepid Philadelphia Inquirer columnist had no qualms about going after former Dem presidential candidate John Edwards.
  • He came out in defense of saner schedules and more rest for air traffic controllers, which is good, without noting of course that the Teahadists in the U.S. House sought to cut the budget of the FAA (here – third bullet).
  • He criticized the de facto discrimination against the jobless in hiring, though he basically said that there’s nothing that the federal government should be able to do about it (here – typical).
  • He once heckled Roger Waters of Pink Floyd for supporting the Palestinians here, and was actually quite proud of his behavior (Smerky, I mean).
  • He tried to mythologize The Sainted Ronnie R here (third bullet), criticizing Obama for criticizing the Supremes over Citizens United, saying Ronnie didn’t do that on Roe v. Wade (no, not much – he just created that stupid “Mexico City” policy to go with his criticism, that’s all).
  • He compared Arianna Huffington to a hooker outing a john here (nice).
  • I will admit that Smerky is cagey enough to know he has to take a page, as it were, from the book of someone like Joe Scarborough, who pretends to be sensible amidst spouting his full-on wingnuttery, particularly over the Clintons.

    So I guess congratulations are in order to Smerky for playing the typical corporate media game and ensconcing himself to an undeserved position of influence (though I guess he also deserves points for honesty based on this).

    And once again, I am compelled to ask the question…this is CNN?

  • Next (and speaking of wingnuttery), you can always rely on more bilious right-wing propaganda from Cal Thomas, and he delivers more of it here (from clownhall.com)…

    In 1976, Jimmy Carter promised never to lie to us, a promise that rested on a perception of his own virtue. Given his sad record, the country might have willingly exchanged veracity for competence.

    Interesting that Thomas would say that now even though he once complimented Carter on the former president’s “worship experience” here (and as noted here, he has a rather infamous track record at proclaiming “doom and gloom” over alleged “values” issue anyway).

  • Further, I give you the following from Repug U.S. House Rep Ted Poe via Fix Noise here

    (The) NSA argues that its employees only carry out the actions necessary to find terrorists and protect our country. They have even claimed that terrorist attacks have been prevented as a result of their actions.

    If this is true, those success stories should be made public. At a Judiciary Committee hearing last week, I asked Deputy Attorney General James Cole how many criminal cases have been filed as a result of this massive spying operation.

    His answer? Maybe one. And he wasn’t even 100% sure of that.

    That’s right, the NSA has launched one of the largest data collection programs in U.S. history that monitors who we call, how long we talk to them, who they called, and where our calls were made from, all in order to “maybe” catch one bad guy.

    In any event, the ends do not justify the means. NSA has trampled on the Fourth Amendment rights of millions of Americans.

    It’s funny in a way that Poe mentions the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution when you consider the following; as noted here, the USA Patriot Act…

    violates the Fourth Amendment, which says the government cannot conduct a search without obtaining a warrant and showing probable cause to believe that the person has committed or will commit a crime.

    Violates the Fourth Amendment by failing to provide notice – even after the fact – to persons whose privacy has been compromised. Notice is also a key element of due process, which is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

    Under the Patriot Act PR/TT orders issued by a judge are no longer valid only in that judge’s jurisdiction, but can be made valid anywhere in the United States. This “nationwide service” further marginalizes the role of the judiciary, because a judge cannot meaningfully monitor the extent to which his or her order is being used. In addition, this provision authorizes the equivalent of a blank warrant: the court issues the order, and the law enforcement agent fills in the places to be searched. That is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment’s explicit requirement that warrants be written “particularly describing the place to be searched.”

    And who voted to renew the Patriot Act three years ago? Why, Ted Poe, as noted here (other idiocy with Poe can be found here…he’s #39 on the list – Poe also opposed the census here; second bullet).

  • Continuing, I came across the following item that made my jaw drop (here)…

    Ask this question to almost anyone, and the resounding answer will be something like: “Yes! It is the American Way. ‘One person, one vote’ is the cornerstone of democracy.”

    True, but interesting in light of this from yet another elitist scumbag (but I digress)…

    Just how deep this sentiment runs can be seen in the recent protests against policies requiring all voters to first produce a photo ID. The protesters seem to feel that any restriction on the unimpeded access to voting undermines our very democracy.

    I support voter ID laws. Without them, a single person could theoretically cast many votes during one Election Day by going to different polling stations; the fraud potential is enormous. If there are people too poor to procure an ID, the small amount of money needed for this purpose should be provided, either by government or private charities.

    Even by the admittedly lame standards of The Daily Tucker, the stoo-pid with this one was thick enough that it could be cut only with a hack saw.

    The author of this column is someone named D.B. Ganz, who apparently wrote something called Uncommon Sense and is published at a site called The Blaze. Since he shows no apparent knowledge of how one votes in this country based on his commentary, please allow me to provide the following information.

    I reside in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (not news I guess considering what I said earlier about the Turnpike), so when I registered to vote, I did so at the Bucks County Court House in Doylestown. Of course, I could have picked up a voter registration application elsewhere or even online, completed it, and mailed it in (or pressed a button and sent it into cyberspace). On the application, it is necessary to enter your basic demographic information, including your address.

    I honestly don’t remember how I found out where my polling location was; I could easily have accessed the Board of Elections link from buckscounty.org and done a bit of searching to find out where it is, or I could have called someone (maybe we were notified by mail?). What matters is that, when I found out where my polling location was (and I go to vote on Election Day or Primary Day), I notify a worker and they check my information to see if I am in their book. I sign the book on the line next to my name and demographic information after checking my info; of course, they now ask me for a voter ID, which they don’t enforce yet (I can provide a driver’s license, so it’s no big deal, even though I object to voter ID in principle of course).

    Here is my point (took awhile to get there, I know) – I cannot just vote anywhere I want! I have to vote in the area where I live and where I am registered to do so (to prevent to supposed rampant “voter fraud” that the Repugs profess to hate). So that proves that Ganz doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    I actually grew a little curious about Ganz, so I read up on him and found another column where he said that supporting health care reform was “short sighted and cruel,” or something. Which I thought was a really curious observation, seeing that Ganz is, “a long-time student of ancient Jewish texts, primarily the Talmud,” and Israel has universal health care with an individual mandate, as noted here.

  • Finally, and in observance of the recent 205th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, former Bushie Glenn Hubbard tells us the following here

    What would a mobility-enhancing agenda for today propose? A dynamic economy requires support for innovation, market expansion, and entrepreneurial risk-taking. “I know of nothing so pleasant to the mind as the discovery of anything which is at once new and valuable,” Lincoln said. Higher federal spending on basic research, trade-promotion authority, and business-tax reform to reduce marginal tax rates on income from business investments are important.

    Republicans should not be timid here. Lincoln was not: He expanded land ownership (the Homestead Act of 1862), access to higher education (the Morrill Act of 1862, with support for land-grant colleges across the states), and the scale and scope of commerce and trade (the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862, which supported the transcontinental railroad).

    Lincoln’s crusade for economic development was a lifetime political agenda. Just as the opportunity agenda he championed is much bolder than many conservatives appear willing to propose today, he was much less mired in emphasizing inequality than today’s Left. “I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good,” he said. “[But] while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else.”

    Fair enough (aside from the “ooga booga” nonsense about “today’s Left”), but let’s let the following also be known about our 16th president – as noted here, Lincoln definitely fought income inequality, particularly when it profited the banks (though he was once a lawyer for railroad companies also, which wasn’t in any way illegal I realize). And in opposition, Hubbard has called for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit – that’s nice, but that, along with food stamps, housing allowances, heating assistance and Medicaid, have turned into welfare for corporations, subsidized by the taxpayers of course, as noted here.

    And on the subject of labor and capital, please allow me to quote President Lincoln once more (here)…

    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

    I would also like to point out the following about Lincoln (from “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, pg. 104)…

    Lincoln’s abhorrence to hurting another was born of more than simple compassion. He possessed extraordinary empathy – the gift or curse of putting himself in the place of another, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires. The philosopher Adam Smith described this faculty: “By the imagination we place ourselves in his situation…we enter as it were into his body and become in some measure him.” This capacity Smith saw as “the source of our fellow-feeling for the misery of others…by changing places in fancy with the sufferer…we come either to conceive or to be affected by what he feels.” In a world environed by cruelty and injustice, Lincoln’s remarkable empathy was inevitably a source of pain. His sensibilities were not only acute, they were raw. “With his wealth of sympathy, his conscience, and his unflinching sense of justice, he was predestined to sorrow,” observed Helen Nicolay, whose father would become Lincoln’s private secretary.

    Though Lincoln’s empathy was at the root of his melancholy, it would prove an enormous asset to his political career. “His crowning gift of political diagnosis,” suggested Nicolay, “was due to his sympathy…which gave him the power to forecast with uncanny accuracy what his opponents were likely to do.” She described how, after listening to his colleagues talk at a Whig Party caucus, Lincoln would cast off his shawl, rise from his chair, and say: “From your talk, I gather the Democrats will do so and so…I should do so and so to checkmate them.” He proceeded to outline all “the moves for days ahead; making them all so plain that his listeners wondered why they had not seen it that way themselves.” Such capacity to intuit the inner feelings and intentions of others would be manifest throughout his career.

    And based on this signature moment from Hubbard, I would say that he has a thing or two to learn in the empathy department.

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    Thursday Mashup (8/8/13)

    August 8, 2013

    rbby_92

  • Gosh, it looks like RNC Chair Reince Priebus has his proverbial shorts in a knot here, all right…

    The Republican National Committee is threatening not to partner with NBC and CNN on future presidential debates unless they halt production of recently announced programs about Hillary Clinton, according to letters RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sent to network heads.

    NBC announced in July that the network would air a four-hour miniseries about the former first lady called “Hillary,” and CNN Films is producing a documentary about her as well.

    In letters addressed to NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt and CNN President Jeff Zucker on Aug. 5, Priebus warned that RNC members intend to vote on a resolution at their party-wide meeting later this month to shut out the networks from partnering with the party on Republican primary debates if they do not cancel the programs.

    “Out of a sense of fairness and decency and in the interest of the political process and your company’s reputation, I call on you to cancel this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production,” Priebus wrote. “If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor.”

    Somehow I don’t think Priebus knows the meanings of the words “fairness” and “decency,” but that’s a secondary point (and I actually hope the two networks tell him where to go – I realize the ad revenue rules their world and they don’t want to miss out, but all of those debates should be run by the League of Women Voters anyway).

    But to refresh Priebus’s memory in the “political ad masquerading as an unbiased production” department, here and here are prior posts from 2006 concerning the “Path to 9/11” non-documentary that aired on the Disney/ABC/RNC network, full of all kinds of questionable assertions about that dreaded day that (surprise, surprise!) aired two months before the 2006 midterm elections (fortunately, based on the electoral outcome, the strategy backfired).

    And I thought the following was interesting (from here)…

    …I also wonder if Priebus might have motivations of his own for getting some RNC debates off networks. Given that the Republican Party seems no closer than it was in 2012 to reaching a decisive break between its radical and moderate wings, if I were Priebus, I might want to keep that debate between them as far away from mass audiences as possible. Given how far moderate Republicans like Mitt Romney have had to run to the right during their primary campaigns, one of the things that debates do is generate a vast trove of high-quality clips of things that the eventual nominee will eventually have to try to explain away in a shortened general election season. If I were Priebus, I’d want as few of those debates as possible, and I’d want them to happen further from the public eye so my eventual candidate has less baggage that can eventually be hung around her or his neck.

    So we’ll see if our corporate media goes weak in the knees when confronted with the “Ooga Booga! Li-Bu-Ruul Bias!” charge once again (though, based on this, I think the GOP needs a dose of “physician, heal thyself” if they’re so concerned with women voters, among other demographics that they’re losing badly).

    On a related note, I have to tell you that this is a real head-scratcher as far as I’m concerned (h/t Atrios). Normally I definitely side up with David Brock and Media Matters, and I’m sure the NBC miniseries will be nothing but trash TV (and I don’t know how CNN can say they’ll create a “documentary” on HRC without involvement of the news division), but rightly or wrongly, here is where I come down on this.

    First, this furor assumes that cable TV will hold sway over the outcome of the 2016 presidential election (assuming Hillary runs – wink, wink), and to be honest, I don’t know how you can say that. No, I don’t have viewing demographic numbers in front of me at the moment, but I think the very fact that the two cables in question are even contemplating these productions gives you an idea of how hard-up they are ratings-wise (relative to Fox, of course, which is a whole other discussion). And I want to emphasize that I’m talking about holding sway over the general election; from what I read last year, the ratings for the 2,347,618 Republican primary debates actually weren’t bad – if Priebus and Brock have leverage here, this is it (i.e., CNN and NBC wouldn’t want to lose out).

    Second, can you really honestly say that there are that many people without an opinion on the Clintons one way or the other at this point (people likely to be swayed by these two productions, which I’m sure will be heavy on the “entertainment” and very light on the facts and historical context)? So basically, I don’t care if CNN and NBC go ahead with these productions; I have a feeling that there will be salacious stuff with no basis in reality (I can see it now…the closet door of the darkened room pops open while Bill and Gennifer Flowers are engaged in carnal acts, and Hillary, holding a gun, shoots Vince Foster, who was trying to talk Bill out of it…fade to black), but there will probably also be complimentary stuff too. As I said earlier, my beef with Priebus is that he’s alleging preferential treatment from the networks, when he definitely benefitted from some of that in the “Path to 9/11” mess.

    A final observation: how big of a dope is Reince Priebus anyway to end up doing something that ends up playing into the hands of David Brock and Media Matters (and as noted here, just when I was about to post this, Priebus said something else that would qualify as “gobsmacked,” I guess – what a maroon).

    (Last but not least, I think this is full of great observations from kos).

    Update 8/9/13: And I would say that this sums up most of what I’ve been saying for the last eight years or so.

  • Next, I give you the following pro-fracking commercial that recently appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer (here)…

    The Marcellus Shale formation – the second-largest natural-gas field in the world – has been a blessing for Pennsylvania’s workers and our economy.

    Almost a quarter-million people in Pennsylvania work to produce natural gas from the Marcellus Shale or in related industries. Thanks to the growth of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, the Marcellus has been responsible for more than 150,000 new hires in the past three years – almost three-quarters of them state residents. The average salary in core fracking industries is more than $90,000 a year. In 2010 alone, oil and gas development utilizing fracking contributed more than $11 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy.

    Fracking is safe and environmentally friendly. In Pennsylvania, more than a dozen state and federal regulatory agencies oversee all aspects of fracking, from well development to pipeline construction. Properly constructed wells leave a very small environmental imprint, and about 99.5 percent of the solution used to free natural gas from shale formations is just water and sand.

    Pennsylvania leads the country in developing safe, effective fracking technologies and policies – and other states are starting to follow suit.

    If fracking is so “safe” and “environmentally friendly,” then how come the fracking companies, after paying out large settlements to people whose properties have been ruined by fracking, make those folks sign gag orders, extending not just to the parents, but to their kids also, as noted here? (An update is here.) Or, as noted from here, “these gag orders are the reason [drillers] can give testimony to Congress and say there are no documented cases of contamination,” said Earthworks organizer Sharon Wilson.

    And as noted from here, Pennsylvania is 33rd in the nation in employment; that’s OK, but nothing to brag about as far as I’m concerned.


    The writer of this column, Kevin Colosimo, serves as a managing partner at Burleson LLP in Pittsburgh, and is a trustee at large for the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation in Kentucky (I sincerely hope that he is based in Pittsburgh and not Kentucky, since the former is smack in the middle of the Marcellus Shale but the latter isn’t, as you can see from the gray area in the map above – it would be pretty low down for him to be praising something that has no chance of blowing up in his face, an expression you can actually take literally when talking about fracking).

  • Continuing, It’s time to find out what our wet noodle PA-08 rep is up to (from his web site here)…

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) ignited a bipartisan push Thursday (8/1) with Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) to ensure our nation’s veterans play a critical role in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure with the introduction of the Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act.

    “Our fighting men and women are the most highly skilled workforce in history,” said Fitzpatrick, “We must leverage their unprecedented skills to get our economy moving once again.”

    “Rebuilding our nation’s transportation infrastructure is one of my top priorities and is absolutely essential to growing our economy and creating jobs,” said Bustos, “The brave veterans who served us so honorably deserve our full support and that starts with making sure they have good-paying jobs here at home.”

    “With the unemployment rate for returning veterans remaining far too high, it is common sense that they should have access to the contracting preferences available for transportation projects,” Bustos continued.

    This is more distracting feel-good pabulum that is yet another feint to burnish Mikey’s alleged “moderate” bona fides while his utterly lunatic U.S. House “leadership” fiddles as our country burns.

    And that is because, as noted here, Dem U.S. House Rep Rosa DeLauro introduced the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2013 on June 27th, but no vote was scheduled (there was no other activity of any kind, apparently). On top of that, the Water Infrastructure Resiliency Act was introduced by Dem U.S. House Rep Lois Capps on February 15th here (same story).

    “Oh, there you go again, telling us that it’s only the Dems who are doing the right thing. How typical!”

    Well, guess what? As noted here, Republican U.S. House Rep Tom Marino of PA also introduced the Energy Infrastructure Improvement Act, and that is currently in the same limbo as the other two bills (the people who have signed on as cosponsors automatically makes me suspicious about the bill’s intent, but it is no less worthy of a vote than the other two). So the utter, craven failure of the House Speaker and Majority Leader cuts both ways.

    With that in mind, this tells us why the federal government should have a role in infrastructure projects, along with the attendant benefits (for example, does anything think we actually would have our highway transportation system from coast to coast if it had been left up totally to the states?). And this tells us how the Repugs have blocked transportation infrastructure projects, thus hindering our recovery (though they have no trouble with funding infrastructure in places like Afghanistan, as noted here).

    Mikey and Cheri Bustos can introduce all of the bills giving the military preference on infrastructure jobs that they want (which is fine by me and commendable, actually), but it won’t matter if there’s no infrastructure funding forthcoming from this wretched Congress.

    Besides, on the subject of the military, I never found out why Mikey voted against a combat pay increase (here) or a guarantee to pay our military in the event of a government shut down (here).

    With all this in mind, if you really want to do right by someone from our military, click here.

    Update 8/16/13: And it looks like Mikey wants to ultimately phase out credits for wind here, which, as far as I’m concerned, is a dumb idea (would the cost savings make that much of a difference?). Wonder if he’d dare do the same thing for Big Oil, as noted here? Do I even need to ask (seeing as he once voted to cut funding of clean energy here)?

  • Further, it’s time to bring “teh stupid” with Fix Noise here

    Vague terrorist threats shutting down nineteen of our embassies, Russian strongman Putin thumbing his nose at President Obama, Iran jerking our chain – the U.S. hasn’t looked this cowardly on the world stage since the Jimmy Carter administration.

    Here at home, too, we’ve gone back to the Carter future; unemployment is high, Keynesian economics are all the rage, our professorial president is increasingly whiny and ineffectual; all that’s missing is a cardigan sweater and that infernal violin.

    I know you know what’s coming – wait for it anyway (and here is food for thought on the whole “Keynesian” stuff)…

    President George W. Bush is widely scorned these days for attempting to export democracy to the peoples of other lands; Mr. Obama, like Carter before him, has sought kindness and justice from the likes of Hugo Chavez and Bashar-Al-Assad. Which is more naïve?

    Naivete is costly. Both the Carter and Obama administrations have been distinguished by the rare murder of an ambassador.

    So was the administration of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History; this tells us that U.S. Ambassador David Foy was murdered in Pakistan in 2006 (and if you want to real the real story of what happened under Number 43 on this score, click here).

    This Liz Peek person also tells us that Carter didn’t win an agreement on Pershing missiles in Europe to counter the Soviet SS-20 missiles; in response, the following should be noted from here

    (In 1979) Presidents Carter and Brezhnev (sic – Brezhnev was the Soviet Premier) sign SALT II treaty, setting ceiling of 2,400 strategic missiles and bombers on each side, to be reduced to 2,250 by 1981. After Soviets in- vade Afghanistan, US withdraws SALT II from Senate, but both governments say they will abide by provisions. In December NATO decides to deploy 572 US Pershing II and cruise missiles in Europe starting in late 1983 to counter threat from Soviet SS-20s targeted on European cities.

    And here is another choice item from Peek…

    Who today believes that ObamaCare is the best possible answer to reining in the cost of healthcare?

    I do, for one, based on this (#1 just for starters).

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh).

  • RS_Media_Friendly_0802

  • Finally, I have to tell you that I’ve been quietly fuming for the last week or so about this pic from The Philadelphia Inquirer over the Rolling Stone story on Dzhokhar Tsarnev and his brother and their alleged involvement in the Boston Marathon bombing (sticking with terrorism).

    Yes, I get the fact that Tsarnev the younger was photographed with a background that would normally be reserved for a rock star that is popular at the moment. However, the cover makes it clear that the magazine quite rightly considers him to be a “monster” (how that constitutes “too friendly” for the tastes of the Inquirer is something I cannot fathom).

    Also I wonder how many of the people who screamed about the magazine’s cover actually took the time to read the story by Janet Reitman? Like just about everything else I’ve ever read in Rolling Stone, it was thoroughly researched and written very well. The story takes you inside the life of this kid, including his family, friends, and lifestyle (I was surprised by how plentiful pot apparently is on college campuses, if the Cambridge area is any indication – I didn’t know parts of the first “Harold and Kumar” movie were a documentary; yes, I’ve been out of that loop for a long time). In addition, while I respect the fact that Tsarnev and his family faced great financial difficulty, I cannot imagine how two parents could emigrate back to Russia two years ago (though they were separated for a time) and leave their four kids at the mercy of whatever fate befell them in this country, including Dzhokhar, his older brother (who really did call the shots) and his two sisters, who ended up in arranged marriages and apparently disappeared (and yes, I know this is partly a cultural issue, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s no excuse on the part of the parents).

    It’s hard to say what exactly led to the Tsarnev Brothers’ murderous and terroristic behavior – whether or not their impulse for violence existed all along, how much of their radicalism was fostered by the disintegration of their family and older brother Tamerlan’s burning desire for jihad (Tamerlan was a Golden Gloves boxer), et cetera. But this to me is a hallmark of good reporting; the story makes you think about it enough to try and connect those dots on your own.

    Does the story make me feel sorry for either of the Tsarnevs? Hell no! The older brother got what he deserved as far as I’m concerned, and at a minimum, I hope the younger one rots in prison (the story tells us that Dhzokhar apparently had a pretty casual attitude while the carnage went on and the manhunt ended up shutting down the city of Boston – let’s give him the rest of his life to think about his behavior, unless he ends up getting a date with a needle).

    It’s easy to bash Rolling Stone as some kind of a nutty, left-wing-hippie publication. That of course is utterly wrong (and I thought the paper has done a good job trying to defuse the cover controversy). It’s obviously a lot harder to give it credit for crafting exemplary journalism. What a pity.

    Update: And I guess it would be a good idea to link to the Rolling Stone piece too, wouldn’t it (here).


  • Tuesday Mashup (6/18/13)

    June 18, 2013
  • I give you the following hilarity from The Daily Tucker (here)…

    The House of Representatives voted late (on 6/7) to prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from using taxpayer dollars to buy and stockpile ammunition until they provide a “comprehensive report” to Congress on its ammunition usage, purchase history and contracting practices.

    “Prior to committing taxpayer dollars for ammunition contracts, we must ensure that government agencies justify the necessity and cost to both Congress and the American people,” said Representative Mark Meadows (R.-N.C.), the amendment’s author.

    The House approved the amendment to H.R. 2217, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2014, by a 234-192 vote. Notably, eighteen democrats supported the amendment and only thirteen republicans opposed. Meadows cited concerns over the current practices and purchases of the Department as justification for the proposal.

    As noted here, though…

    Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) said the amendment was unnecessary based on his talks with DHS officials. Carter said the department has since admitted that its ammunition needs are not as great as first reported, and said the department is pursuing a bulk purchase to keep the costs down.


    And just for the record, Mikey the Beloved voted for this idiocy, as noted here. In addition, here are the 18 “Democrats” who went along with it also (a pox on their respective houses):

    Bill Foster (IL-11)
    Brian Higgins (NY-26)
    Charles Rangel (NY-13)
    Collin Peterson (MN-7)
    Daniel Maffei (NY-24)
    Derek Kilmer (WA-6)
    Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
    Jared Polis (CO-2)
    Jim Matheson (UT-4)
    John Garamendi (CA-3)
    Juan Vargas (CA-51)
    Kurt Schrader (OR-5)
    Mike McIntyre (NC-7)
    Nick Rahall (WV-3)
    Pete DeFazio (OR-4)
    Tony Cardenas (CA-29)
    Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2)
    William Owens (NY-21)

    (I’m surprised to see Rangel and DeFazio on that list, since I definitely thought they knew better.)

    By the way, did you know that the notion that DHS is buying up all the ammo is so nutty that it has even been debunked by the NRA (here)? So where did it come from, then? Why, Alex Jones of course (here). I guess stuff like this plays in Meadows’ district, he having won the seat formerly held by the less-than-useless Heath Shuler in a contest against conservadem Hayden Rogers (here).

    And just as a reminder, this tells us that Meadows was one of the U.S. House Repugs who voted against disaster relief funding for the victims of Hurricane Sandy (nice guy).

  • Next, I saw this at CNN recently, and I think it deserves more attention than it received, so…

    The nation benefits when top scientists…contribute their efforts to the federal agencies. But civil service scientists are at a significant competitive disadvantage, thanks to new travel restrictions.

    At first glance, it might sound like a good idea to keep government employees and contractors from traveling to distant cities to meet with colleagues. After all, budgets are tight and travel costs money. Stories about excessive spending at government conferences involving the IRS and GSA have rightly angered taxpayers who have had to tighten their own belts.

    But the Astronomical Society conference is strictly business and the downside of missing it is considerable: The government loses touch, government scientists fall behind and we all lose an opportunity to forge ahead. For NASA, which funds about 300,000 jobs at more than a dozen NASA centers and facilities, its cap of 50 civil service scientists and contractors (or even100, possible only with a waiver) at an American Astronomical Society meeting is very low.

    Science careers are attractive in many ways, but across the country, sequestration is devastating budgets for research. In many disciplines, 10 proposals for new research projects are rejected for every one that is funded. This turns serious scientific progress into a scattershot lottery and discourages students from pursuing the kind of research careers that fuel our economy in the long term.

    Young people are attracted to science through astronomy. Students come to our talks, star parties and classes. Fascination about black holes and dark energy motivates them to study critical subjects like physics, mathematics and computing. Astronomy research experiences for undergraduates — funded by the National Science Foundation, among others — are an effective way to retain students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, majors.

    STEM disciplines are critical for the future of our nation. The skills for astronomy are used in many other fields of science, not to mention areas like data mining and computing that are at the heart of modern businesses.

    As a follow-up, it should be noted that Crazy Tom Coburn sponsored amendments basically barring the National Science Foundation from conducting political science research (and before you cheer that, note the fact that this affects basically “any and all research in any and all disciplines funded by the NSF” as noted in a linked story from The Huffington Post). The Daily Kos post also tells us that Lamar Smith, GOP chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, falsely charged that scientists hid data that supposedly contradicted the science on man-made climate change (wonder if that came from Glenn Beck or Jones, or both?).

    And as noted here, Smith has pushed a bill requiring that the “NSF submit to the committee the technical peer review discussions conducted among NSF scientists who decide on grant awards” (great, just what we need – politicians deciding what scientific development projects should be funded; I might be OK with that if everyone in Congress had the background of, say, Rush Holt, who is a legitimate scientist also, but that is hardly the case).

    Oh, and as noted in the prior Daily Kos post, who did Smith appoint as chairman of the committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight? Only the guy responsible for this. And as noted here, both Smith and Broun are charter members of the Tea Party caucus.

    I’ll let the following excerpt from here sum things up a bit…

    The National Laboratories aren’t just crucial to America’s scientific infrastructure. They are also powerful engines of economic development. Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Solow has calculated that over the past half century, more than half of the growth in our nation’s GDP has been rooted in scientific discoveries — the kinds of fundamental, mission-driven research that we do at the labs. This early-stage research has led to extraordinary real-world benefits, from nuclear power plants to compact fluorescent bulbs to blood cholesterol tests. Because the United States has historically valued scientific inspiration, our government has provided creative scientists and engineers with the support, facilities, and time they need to turn brilliant ideas into real-world solutions.

    Basing funding decisions solely on short-term fiscal goals risks the heart of America’s scientific enterprise and long-term economic growth — diminishing our world leadership in science, technology and in the creation of cutting-edge jobs.

    Sequestration won’t have an immediate, visible impact on American research. Laboratories will continue to open their doors, and scientists and engineers will go to work. But as we choke off our ability to pursue promising new ideas, we begin a slow but inexorable slide to stagnation. We can’t afford to lose a generation of new ideas and forfeit our national future.

    So just remember to “thank” a Teahadist if you ever encounter one of these individuals for our continually depressed economy and employment opportunities, to say nothing of strangling funding for technologies such as those I’ve just noted that could lead to job growth and return us to a measure of middle-class prosperity once again. Heckuva job!

    Update 7/9/13: And here is more on how the sequester supposedly isn’t hurting anyone (here too).

    Update 8/16/13: Ditto here.

  • Continuing (and sticking with the theme of science a bit), I came across this item recently from The Weakly Standard…

    Mention Ronald Reagan to an avowed environmentalist, and you’ll generally elicit a groan. In the conventional telling, the Gipper appointed right-wing extremists to key environmental positions and proceeded to give timber companies and energy interests a free hand to despoil nature. Had Congress not stopped him, the tale goes, all of the environmental progress of the 1970s would have been swept away in the 1980s.

    This tale fits certain historical narratives, and Reagan’s successor, George H. W. Bush, arguably helped promote it by allowing his own appointees, some of them drawn from the ranks of professional environmentalists, to criticize the Reagan administration and its policies.

    Reagan’s actual environmental record is quite a bit more nuanced. It’s true he did not follow the command-and-control regulatory approach favored by his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, or even fellow California Republican Richard Nixon, who created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed both the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. But the approach Reagan did take—endeavoring to protect nature without expanding government or hurting the economy—may offer a blueprint, particularly in these times of sharp partisan division, for a conservation agenda that small government conservatives, libertarians, and conservationists alike can embrace.

    By standards of typical wingnuttia, I have to say that there’s a measure of truth in a lot of what Eli Lehrer points out here, particularly on cap and trade and the so-called Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-layer-depleting, climate change-promoting chlorofluorocarbons, as noted here.

    However, it would be disingenuous to talk about Number 40 on the subject of the environment and not also point out that as good as Reagan was on the stuff noted above, he was awful when it came to exporting health-endangering pesticides that were banned in the U.S., as noted here.

    Lehrer also tells us the following:

    A similar approach was applied in the 1985 farm bill, which required farmers receiving federal subsidies to comply with various conservation standards before they could cultivate erosion-prone soils and forbade the use of federal money to drain wetlands. These standards, currently under fire as Congress considers a huge new farm bill, have saved money while avoiding hundreds of millions of tons of soil erosion and protecting millions of acres of wetlands.

    Does Lehrer mean the 1985 farm bill that Reagan vetoed, which provided badly needed credit to farmers, a veto lowlighted by The Sainted One’s statement that “we should keep the grain and export the farmers” (here)?

    I believe what follows, though, is a more representative sampling of what passed for environmental policy under Reagan (from here, written after his death in 2004)…

    The list of rollbacks attempted by (James Watt and Anne Gorsuch, the leaders Reagan selected to head the Department of Interior and the U.S. EPA, respectively) is as sweeping as those of the current administration. Gorsuch tried to gut the Clean Air Act with proposals to weaken pollution standards “on everything from automobiles to furniture manufacturers — efforts which took Congress two years to defeat,” according to (Phil Clapp, president of National Environmental Trust). Moves to weaken the Clean Water Act were equally aggressive, crescendoing (sic) in 1987 when Reagan vetoed a strong reauthorization of the act only to have his veto overwhelmingly overridden by Congress. Assaults on Superfund were so hideous that Rita Lavelle, director of the program, was thrown in jail for lying to Congress under oath about corruption in her agency division.

    The gutting of funds for environmental protection was another part of Reagan’s legacy. “EPA budget cuts during Reagan’s first term were worse than they are today,” said Frank O’Donnell, director of Clean Air Trust, who reported on environmental policy for The Washington Monthly during the Reagan era. “The administration tried to cut EPA funding by more than 25 percent in its first budget proposal,” he said. And massive cuts to Carter-era renewable-energy programs “set solar back a decade,” said Clapp.

    Topping it all off were efforts to slash the EPA enforcement program: “The enforcement slowdown was staggering,” said a staffer at the House Energy and Commerce Committee who helped investigate the Reagan administration’s enforcement of environmental laws during the early ’80s. “In the first year of the Reagan administration, there was a 79 percent decline in the number of enforcement cases filed from regional offices to EPA headquarters, and a 69 percent decline in the number of cases filed from the EPA to the Department of Justice.”

    And when it comes to Reagan and science, let’s not forget about his episode with the solar panels his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, installed on the White House, mentioned above and also noted here (I don’t want to even imagine how much further along this country would be in clean energy development were it not for that sorry episode in particular; Reagan “almost single-handedly ruined American leadership” in that industry, as noted here).

    What else could we have expected, though, from a guy who once said that 80 percent of the hydrocarbon pollution on earth came from vegetation (uh, no – and as far as signing the strictest air pollution laws in the U.S., as the Reagan hagiographers would have us believe, the credit for that goes to Ronnie’s predecessor as CA governor, Pat Brown, both of which are noted here).

  • Finally (and returning to the Teahadists), I give you the following (here)…

    The bipartisan immigration reform proposal currently under consideration in the Senate should have been introduced in the House first, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Monday.

    “It’s a good thing that for an … immigration bill to pass, it’s gotta pass the House. This is the more difficult hurdle, so let’s start there,” Johnson said in an interview on radio station 1130 WISN. “It could’ve guided the Senate’s actions.”

    That might be the most cowardly anti-immigration argument that I’ve ever heard (sniff, sniff – “the House should have come out with theirs first – WAAAHHH!”).

    I guess Johnson needs a lesson in Congressional procedure. As noted here, the House does indeed have its own version of an immigration bill (which, of course, doesn’t provide a path to legal citizenship for undocumented workers, unless a judge approves it – peachy). If both bills pass (fairly certain despite Johnson in the Senate I think, as well as “Calgary” Cruz, but highly problematic in the U.S. “House of Tea”), then they’ll be worked into a single bill via a House-Senate committee. If the new, merged bill from the committee passes both bodies of Congress, it will go to Number 44 for either his signature or his veto.

    It’s more than a little pathetic to me that Johnson needs to be told this, to say nothing of the fact that dunderheaded voters in Wisconsin voted him into office in the first place (though we have nothing to brag about in PA with “No Corporate Tax” Toomey, despite his recent good work on guns).

    All of this is typical Beltway kabuki in the end, though. No less a Republican Party “elder” than Huckleberry Graham (and what does that tells us about their current state?) has pointed out that it doesn’t matter who his party runs in 2016 if immigration fails (here). Which is a very real possibility.

    That would be a terrible tragedy on personal, human terms, to say nothing of a totally low political farce.

    Update: Your daily dose of fail from “Orange Man” here


  • Thursday Mashup (8/23/12)

    August 23, 2012
  • I’ve had this editorial from the Murdoch Street Journal kicking around for the last week or so, but I haven’t gotten around to it until now (sad face)…

    …the Romney campaign says it expects to increase revenues by increasing the rate of economic growth to 4%, up from less than 2% this year and in 2011. (Separately from tax reform, but clearly relevant to budget deficits, Mr. Romney says he’d gradually reduce spending to 20% of the economy from the Obama heights of 24%-25%.)

    In response, it should be noted from here that Obama is responsible for the lowest level of government spending since President Eisenhower.

    Continuing with the Journal…

    The Tax Policy Center also ignores the history of tax cutting. Every major marginal rate income tax cut of the last 50 years—1964, 1981, 1986 and 2003—was followed by an unexpectedly large increase in tax revenues, a surge in taxes paid by the rich, and a more progressive tax code—i.e., the share of taxes paid by the richest 1% rose.

    As noted from here, “the Reagan tax cuts DECREASED revenues over what they would have been, at least over the short (10-year) term.”

    And as far as the “son” of The Sainted Ronnie R…

    …real individual income tax receipts declined 25.06% from 2001 to 2009. Even total receipts declined -13.93% over that period. Finally, real GDP grew just 13.36% from 2001 to 2009. This was the lowest real GDP growth over any 8-year span since 13.33% from 1966 to 1976.

    And when it comes to comparing Number 44 with Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History on the economy (here), private sector job creation under Obama is better in about three years-plus than it was under GWB in eight (though Dubya is better in public sector job creation, believe it or not, mainly because he didn’t have to deal with the Teahadists who refuse to spend any money on that area of employment).

    And on the matter of Obama and the economy, did each “stim” job really cost about $738 grand, as alleged here?

    Uh, no.

  • Further, I give you the following (here)…

    (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday overturned a key Obama administration rule to reduce harmful emissions from coal-burning power plants, sparking a rally in coal company shares and relief among utility firms.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said in a 2-1 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency had exceeded its mandate with the rule, which was to limit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants in 28 mostly Eastern states and Texas.

    In the latest setback for the EPA, the court sent the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule back for revision, telling the agency to administer its existing Clean Air Interstate Rule – the Bush-era regulation that it was updating – in the interim. The EPA said it was reviewing the ruling.

    And of course, this was more good news for Republicans (a typical response is here), even though dday at firedoglake tells us the following (here)…

    This is a clear example of the power of federal judicial appointments. Two George W. Bush appointees at the DC Circuit Court just rolled back pollution regulations to the George W. Bush parameters. As a result, according to the EPA’s statistics, 30,000 Americans will die prematurely, hundreds of thousands will fall ill, and 240 million will be exposed to increased emissions of pollutants.

    Court appointments matter a great deal. And a combination of unprecedented Senate obstructionism and needless delays from the White House in naming appointees has a deleterious effect.

    The ruling could have implications on other EPA regulations, especially as it values state anti-pollution laws above the federal government. Environmentalists want the EPA to appeal, possibly to a full panel of the Circuit Court, but of course then it eventually gets kicked up to the Supreme Court. The last SCOTUS rulings on greenhouse gas emissions have been favorable, but the good neighbor rule covers other forms of pollution, and really attempts to resolve a dispute between the states, so you could easily see a different outcome.

    (This is another less-than-glorious moment for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals particularly on the environment…as noted here, the court upheld an EPA decision a few days earlier, though as a result, it will lead to more manufacture of corn ethanol, which is both worse for the environment and particularly stupid with people hungry during a time of drought and the lousy economy…rather see the corn on dinner plates than in gas tanks.)

    To his credit, Dem U.S. House Rep Edward Markey of Massachusetts had the following to say about the cross-state pollution ruling here

    “I urge the Obama administration to appeal this misguided decision by the courts so that Massachusetts and other states impacted by harmful emissions from old, polluting coal plants can clean up their air,” Markey said after the ruling was announced Tuesday.

    Even Tom Carper (D-Skank Of America But Formerly MBNA) recognized that something smelled here, and it wasn’t just cross-state contaminants (here)…

    (Carper), who previously tried to pass legislative fixes for CAIR, also called for EPA to appeal the ruling and suggested he may try again to get Congress to act. Carper chairs the Senate Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee.

    “I will be working with this administration, the impacted states and my colleagues to ensure we find a swift solution to ensure all states do their fair share to clean up our air if that appeal is not successful,” he said.

    In addition, we should all note the following (here, from last November)…

    In their zeal to allow industry an unfettered right to pollute, however, anti-EPA representatives in Congress might be overreaching. A new poll by Ceres, a nonprofit environmental coalition, shows that 88 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans surveyed oppose efforts to stop EPA pollution rules from taking effect on power plants. And while critics of stiffer regulations decry the economic costs and job-killing effects of the rules, they’re selective about which costs count. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that the air-toxics rule on power plants could create up to 158,000 jobs by 2015, even after counting jobs lost due to higher electricity rates.

    “The fear of not having clean air is a clear-cut issue according to the voting public,” said Geoff Garin of Hart Research Associates, which helped conduct the poll. Voters, he added, also “firmly believe EPA should be allowed to do its job without interference from Congress.”

    (Or interference from the courts also, I would guess.)

    And of course, who among others in his party supported the so-called TRAIN Act, which would have blocked a legislative resolution on cross-state pollution? Gee, let me think really hard now.

    To do something about it, click here.

    Update 8/24/12: And I give you another garbage ruling from this court of morons.

  • Finally, local radio big mouth Dom Giordano was allowed to propagandize in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, with predictable results (here)…

    What supporter of voter identification said the following in 2005?

    “Some critics of voter IDs think the government cannot do this job, but Mexico and most poor countries in the world have been able to register and give IDs to almost all their citizens. Surely the United States can do it, too. Free photo IDs would also empower minorities, who are often charged exorbitant fees for cashing checks because they lack proper identification.”

    Was it Gov. Corbett? One of the Koch brothers? Karl Rove?

    No, it was former President Jimmy Carter, summarizing some of his findings as co-chairman of the Commission on Federal Election Reform.

    Nice to cherry-pick what Carter actually said in support of your flimsy argument, isn’t it? Typical…

    In response, I give you the following from here

    In 2005, we (primarily, Carter and legendary Repug “fixer” James Baker) led a bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform and concluded that both parties’ concerns were legitimate — a free and fair election requires both ballot security and full access to voting. We offered a proposal to bridge the partisan divide by suggesting a uniform voter photo ID, based on the federal Real ID Act of 2005, to be phased in over five years. To help with the transition, states would provide free voter photo ID cards for eligible citizens; mobile units would be sent out to provide the IDs and register voters. (Of the 21 members of the commission, only three dissented on the requirement for an ID.)

    As we stated in our 2005 report, voter ID laws are not a problem in and of themselves. Rather, the current crop of laws are not being phased in gradually and in a fair manner that would increase — not reduce — voter participation. The recent decision by the Department of Homeland Security to delay putting in place the Real ID Act for at least five years suggests that states should move to photo ID requirements gradually and should do more to ensure that free photo IDs are easily available.

    And as noted here, PA’s onerous “voter fraud” law is in response to not one actual example of actual fraud (as noted here, though, ALEC has invested heavily in trying to railroad voter ID laws in statehouses from sea to shining sea…chalk all this up to “return on investment”; and just to refresh our memories, genius PA state house rep Mike Turzai had the following to say about the law here).

    Besides, Giordano is the last person who has the right to screech about voting impropriety – as noted here from 2008, he said he would change his party allegiance from Republican to Democratic so he could vote for Hillary Clinton (PA’s primaries are closed by party), then (perhaps) change his allegiance back to Republican for the general election (of course, it wouldn’t be necessary to do that by November, though I’m sure he’d change it back over time).

    Hey, ya’ think that PA election workers racked up just a bit of overtime because some of Giordano’s knuckle-dragging listeners tried the same stupid trick? Wonder if any registrations got mixed up because poll workers were deluged by Teahadists who were scared of that Kenyan Muslim socialist wealth redistributor?

    Gee Inky, I wonder what do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do column is coming up next? Perhaps Willard Mitt Romney himself on the virtues of clipping coupons from the Sunday newspaper circulars?

    Update 9/11/12: In the matter of PA and voter ID…well, it’s not called “Pennsyltucky” for nothing (here).


  • Tuesday Mashup (7/31/12)

    July 31, 2012
  • I got a laugh out of this item from “Deadeye Dick” Cheney recently…

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney said President Barack Obama is “one of our weakest presidents” and worse than Jimmy Carter.

    “Obviously, I’m not a big fan of President Obama,” Cheney said in an interview that aired Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think he’s been one of our weakest presidents. I fundamentally disagree with him, philosophically. You’d be hard put to find any Democratic president that I’ve disagreed with more.”

    “Worse than Jimmy Carter, from your perspective?” ABC’s Jon Karl asked him.

    “Yes.”

    (Oh, and by the way, here is another example of journalistic malpractice from corporate media hack Jon Karl.)

    And one more thing – allow me to present the following in response:

    Approval rating upon leaving office (Jimmy Carter) – 34 percent
    Approval rating upon leaving office (Dick Cheney) – 13 percent

    I rest my case.

  • Further, I give you the following from some Fix Noise bimbette (here)…

    Warning: Bailout alert!

    The Obama administration has decided it’s time to spread the wealth some more, just in time for the election.

    Who’s getting it this time? Broke college grads.

    Obama’s team wants these borrowers to be able to wipe out their private student loans through bankruptcy.

    Again the administration is forgetting there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    Oh yes, how dare those mooching, in-debt college students go looking for a “big gumint” handout, right (oh, and by the way, “Foxies,” you can have more than one sentence in a paragraph).

    In response, please allow me to point out how the ruinous 109th Congress rewrote the bankruptcy law that is now devastating both credit card and student loan debtors, as noted here.

    Of course, anyone defaulting on their home, car or credit card payments can declare bankruptcy, cumbersome though that process now is, but students carrying student loan debt cannot. And Obama is merely trying to level the playing field (which, of course, is all it takes to start another round of wingnut harrumphing).

  • Silly in-debt college students – don’t they know that corporate “welfare” is the only type approved by Republicans?

  • Continuing, “Pope” Douthat whined as follows recently at the New York Times (here)…

    “Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday,” Michelle Obama said. “It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well … Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to the four walls of the church. He was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day.”

    But Mrs. Obama’s words notwithstanding, there seems to be a great deal of confusion about this point in the Western leadership class today.

    You can see this confusion at work in the Obama White House’s own Department of Health and Human Services, which created a religious exemption to its mandate requiring employers to pay for contraception, sterilization and the days-after pill that covers only churches, and treats religious hospitals, schools and charities as purely secular operations. The defenders of the H.H.S. mandate note that it protects freedom of worship, which indeed it does. But a genuine free exercise of religion, not so much.

    If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.

    I think this commentary is particularly stupid considering the fact that the recent merger in these parts between Abington Memorial and Holy Redeemer Hospitals was canceled after widespread outcry among doctors, clergy, and community organizations (here)…

    “It was clear that the outrage and betrayal was felt unanimously throughout the hospital,” wrote the 20 residents in Abington’s OB-GYN program, in a letter they released after the meeting. “There is strong opposition to having our medical practice dictated by Catholic doctrine rather than our patients’ best interests and standard of care.”

    Lisa Jambusaria of Los Angeles, who is in the final year of her 4-year ob-gyn residency training at Abington, said she would never have applied there if she had known abortions would be banned. Although the hospital performs fewer than 100 abortions per year, many involve women carrying defective fetuses that would not survive beyond birth, or women whose own health is endangered by the pregnancy.

    “We are one of the rare hospitals that provides these (abortion) services,” Jambusaria said. “We get these referrals all the time.”

    So, instead of resorting to typical right-wing polarizing language next time, why doesn’t Douthat actually base his argument in science, best medical practice and medical community need instead of ideology (yes, I know asking the question is futile, but I’m inclined to do it anyway).

    (And by the way, on the subject of belief and mental health, I’ll offer this and merely say that this is consistent with my own experience.)

  • Finally, I give you yet another example of why our corporate media, for the most part, shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    See (as noted here), “Chuckles” Krauthammer of the WaPo opined as follows recently…

    Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer took a victory lap Sunday evening after White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer’s claim that the White House did not return a Winston Churchill bust to the British Embassy was discredited.

    “I suggest Mr. Pfeiffer bring this to a short, painless and honorable conclusion: a simple admission that he got it wrong and that my assertion was correct,” Krauthammer wrote in a Sunday evening blog post. “An apology would be nice, but given this White House’s arm’s-length relationship with truth — and given Ryan Zimmerman’s hot hitting — I reckon the Nationals will win the World Series before I receive Pfeiffer’s mea culpa.”

    Oh, and by the way, as long as the Nationals were mentioned – yeah, as I type this, the Phillies are in full-sell mode and the Nats are clearly ascendant – I’d like to say something.

    First of all, good for the Nats…there are seasons of losing as well as seasons of winning, and the roles clearly are reversed at the moment. But the D.C. team should at least try to be gracious. By that I mean that they should stop their whining about those oh-so-bad-mannered Philly fans (I probably should have said this in May when the Phils last went there, though they’re slated to play there again beginning tonight). At least we came to watch you when you were lousy (and believe me that it isn’t easy to put up with New York or especially Boston fans at Citizens Bank Park, but we’ve gone along with it…their money is the same color as ours).

    So shut up and chalk it up to past history, OK? Nobody likes a winner with a chip on his shoulder.

    Now, back to Krauthammer – the following is noted in the Daily Tucker piece…

    It turns out there are two Churchill busts, one that had been in the White House since the 1960s and another that Prime Minister Tony Blair loaned President George W. Bush at the outset of the Bush administration. Pfeiffer admitted as much in an update to his blog post. Obama returned the loaned bust to the Brits when he moved into the White House, and the original bust was moved to the White House residence, where it is today.

    Do you want to know why Krauthammer refuses to give up on this, even though he is manifestly wrong? Because he was rooked into believing that the Obama Administration told the Brits what they could do with their bust of Churchill because of some nutball conspiracy theory by Glenn Beck, as noted here (namely, Beck circulated the urban legend that the return was an Obama Administration protest over Britain’s involvement in the Kenyan Mau Mau revolution of the 1950s).

    Wikipedia tells us that Charles Krauthammer is published in 275 newspapers and media outlets in this country. I can think of no greater evidence of the utter failure of our corporate media to educate and inform than that simple fact.


  • Thursday Mashup (6/3/10)

    June 3, 2010

  • 1) File this one under “A Headline I Wished I’d Seen When A Certain 43rd President Took Up Space In An Oval Office.”
  • 2) And speaking of presidents, I give you some true hilarity from Repug strategist Cheri Jacobus here from The Hill…

    Obama has big problems. No doubt about that. To be considered as incompetent as Jimmy Carter, and as sleazy as Rod Blagojevich, is no one’s idea of “good news” on even the worst of days in the White House.

    President Obama’s protracted fumbling of the BP oil spill and the mess in the Gulf of Mexico is going to have long-term consequences for him. As it stands now, the nation is stunned at the lack of competence or ability to convey that he is capable of leading a charge to get this thing under control. Throwing everything but the kitchen sink — literally — into the hole is hardly comforting. At this point, many Americans might even be asking, “What would Jimmy Carter do?” because even the worst of the worst seems better than what we’ve got now.

    I realize that this is typical in the world of accountability-free punditry, but here, the numbers I see are a lot closer to 39 percent approval of Obama’s handling of the spill with up to 55 percent disapproving which, though not good numbers, are not apocalyptic either (and again, it’s a bit ironic that those who are screaming the loudest about Obama getting the government involved in the oil refining industry are those who also screamed the loudest when the government became involved with the “banksters” and the auto companies).

    Also, to get a pretty good snapshot of just how bad it is in the Gulf (and I think calling it a “spill” at this point is, unfortunately, too benign), I would suggest reading this Times of London article, particularly the first four paragraphs.

  • Update: Yep, it looks like our somnambulant corporate media is finally paying attention (here, though I certainly don’t put Think Progress in that category).

  • 3) Finally on the subject of our chief executives, I give you Former Senator Man-On-Dog in the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday (here)…

    Are Obama’s efforts to make friends in Muslim countries working? A Gallup poll released last week suggests that his charm offensive is a bust in some key Muslim nations.

    The poll examined public approval of U.S. leadership in those countries today compared with that under President George W. Bush in 2008. The approval rating in Iraq, at 30 percent, was down from 35 percent under Bush. Lebanon’s, at 25 percent, was the same as under Bush. Egypt’s and the Palestinian territories’, at 19 and 16 percent respectively, were up from 6 and 13 percent.

    Seriously, Little Ricky? You’re actually going to try comparing Obama’s overseas popularity to that of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History?

    Well, since Santorum doesn’t include a link to the poll in question (and I looked but couldn’t find the exact poll also), I should point out the following from here in a poll from last September (the latest information I could find)…

    …77 per cent of European citizens support Obama’s handling of international affairs, while only 19 per cent found former President George W Bush doing the same.

    It also revealed that 75 per cent of Europeans have confidence in Obama’s ability to combat terrorism and two thirds now have a favourable view of America.

    “We see a remarkable shift in trans-Atlantic opinion from the previous administration,” The Telegraph quoted Craig Kennedy, the president of the German Marshall Fund, as saying.

    And if he’s really interested to learn about one famous Englishman’s opinion of our most recent president, perhaps Little Ricky should take note of Sir Paul’s “library” anecdote here (special “I’m Looking Through You” citation…thanks again for “The Concert For NYC” right after the attack).


  • Some Monday “Byko” Blather on Carter and Race

    September 21, 2009

    Stu_BykofskyStu (“I’m Thinking Another 9/11 Would Help America,” here) Bykofsky really should have just gulped down a fistful of Xanax and gone over to lie down in a corner instead of spitting out his utter dreck of a column today, but he concocted his idiotic screed anyway.

    See, “Byko” is in a lather over President Carter’s recent comment that the anti-Obama sentiment in this country is race-based, something which I think is pretty evident based on this.

    So he thusly piled on (I could take time to refute all of it, but this sampling is pretty indicative – and by the way, he makes it sound like Carter and Muammar Qadhafi were buds, but it was Dubya who signed an executive order restoring the Libyan government’s immunity from terror-related lawsuits and dismissing all of the pending compensation cases in the US, not Carter, as noted here – also, if there’s one person Carter would not be friends with, it is Fidel Castro, since the latter played the former like a fiddle in the matter of the Mariel Boat Lift)…

    (Carter’s) remark paralleled the equally hair-trigger opinion of the Philadelphians who hung the “racist” tag on anyone who objected to the Eagles’ hiring of Michael Vick.

    Uh, I objected to the Eagles’ signing of Vick (here), and I didn’t get any comments branding me a racist (and I most definitely support President Carter in this matter).

    Also…

    In his latest ramble, Old Mushmouth said the “overwhelming portion” of those loudly opposing President Obama are racists.

    He hasn’t created so many waves since he was in a waterborne battle with an enraged swamp rabbit.

    In reality, there’s a racial strain in most national discussions involving Obama, but it is irrational to think r-a-c-e is animating all, or even most, of the animosity.

    See the prior post on Noel Sheppard for proof that Carter is right, “Byko” (and by the way, I don’t know what the hell “Byko” is talking about with that comment about a “racial strain” that somehow isn’t “animating…the animosity”; “Byko” also introduces more faux equivalency between those who opposed Clinton over a blow job and those who opposed Dubya for lying us into war with an enemy that had nothing to do with 9/11, expanding our country’s policy of rendition beyond all reason or adherence to the law, trashing the environment and civil liberties, staffing his administration with hacks and flunkies in charge of government agencies, acting as if he actually cared about those “values voters” his party plays for fools every four years, etc.)…

    Also…

    Predictably, anyone disagreeing with Carter was immediately tarred as a racist. That’s what MSNBC’s semi-rational ranter Keith Olbermann bayed last Wednesday. If you diss Carter, he suggested, you are a racist and a right-wing nutjob.

    From this transcript (and I hate to admit that “Byko” is partly correct, even though Olbermann was dead-on, but “Byko” left out the rant of a certain Flush Limbore)…

    OLBERMANN: Carter and courage: The former president elaborates on his comments about racism being at the core of some of the rage against the president.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: There is an inherent feeling among many people in this country that an African-American ought not to be president.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    OLBERMANN: And he gets the “all too predictable” reactionary blowback from the racists he‘s talking about.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: Jimmy Carter is the nation‘s hemorrhoid folks.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    OLBERMANN: Well, I got to defer to him here, the nation‘s (BLEEP) hole would know about the nation‘s hemorrhoid.

    Oh, and by the way, Byko, when you decide to actually provide meaningful, factual information to support your ridiculous claim that that “individual rights (are) being usurped by a federal government growing like kudzu,” let me know, OK?

    Meanwhile, I’ll breathlessly await word on how much money Philadelphia Newspapers lost this week, or how their brilliant plan to have one group of rich Philadelphians headed by Bruce Toll bail out another group of rich Philadelphians headed by Bruce Toll is progressing.


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