Thursday Mashup (4/11/13) (updates)

April 11, 2013

  • I don’t really have much to say here, but credit where it’s due to PA-31 U.S. House Rep Steve Santarsiero for introducing legislation mandating universal background checks for gun purchases in our beloved commonwealth, specifically long guns purchased at private sales (the Inquirer story more or less leads us to believe that those were the only guns that were previously exempt; also, sales between family members without a background check would apparently still be allowed – not completely happy with that, but for the time being, I’ll settle for three-quarters of the proverbial loaf…kudos to Steve – to find out more, including a petition to regulate drilling in the Marcellus Shale, click here).

    Also, I should note that Pat Toomey embodies just about everything I can’t stand in politics, and it remains an utter abomination that he defeated Joe Sestak in the campaign for Arlen Specter’s old seat in 2010. However, I would be remiss not to note his rather shocking cooperation with Dem Senator Joe Manchin on universal background checks (here) – I never thought I’d find myself giving Toomey credit for anything, but he deserves it here (though, of course, being a political animal, he knows the polling numbers on this issue, noted here and here, as well as anybody).

    I will be curious to see how “No Corporate Tax” Pat ends up re-burnishing his wingnut bona fides to work himself back into the good graces of the “American Illiterati,” as John Fugelsang so hilariously puts it, as a result of his good conduct on this issue.

    Update 1 4/16/13: So “We snookered the other side. They haven’t figured it out yet,” according to this insect named Alan Gottleib, huh (here)? Why am I not surprised?

    So Toomey-Manchin makes it a federal crime to set up a national gun registry? Because the wingnuts continue to live under this delusion that Obama is coming for their guns?

    Then ‘can the whole damn thing and try doing it right next time.

    Update 2 4/16/13: Where Crazy Tom Coburn goes, trouble surely follows (here) – just sh*tcan the whole damn thing and start over…better to have no deal than a rotten one.

  • And sticking with the subject of guns for a moment, Rich Lowry inflicts the following here (and why exactly is “America’s Fish Wrap” giving this clown a megaphone…oh, right – it’s more corporate media “balance”)…

    It is true that 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks. Who can be against background checks? Heck, even the NRA wants states to keep more complete records of who is forbidden from purchasing guns.

    Notice the meely-mouthed wording from Lowry here? He could just say “Heck, even the NRA supports universal background checks.”

    Of course, he doesn’t say that because he knows he would be utterly wrong (and as pointed out here, Lowry would still be wrong on the supposed issue of the NRA wanting to keep more complete records of who isn’t allowed to own a gun – how can states possibly do that when the NRA works as hard as they do to erode the gun laws we already have? And the linked story tells us once more that 90 percent of those polled, as well as 85 percent of NRA members, want universal background checks…and that includes Colorado, where James Holmes shot up his victims at the Aurora movie theater playing “The Dark Knight Rises,” as noted here).

    And oh yeah, did you know that the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre supported universal background checks in 1999, as noted here?

    Another thing…Lowry complains that President Obama supposedly “used children as props” in an effort to enact sane guns laws in this country.

    nra-ad1-228x300
    Yeah, don’t you hate that?

  • Next, Alex Nowrasteh propagandized as follows as The Daily Tucker recently (here)…

    H-1Bs are a bellwether for the economy. As growth picks up, so do filings for H-1B applications. As unemployment skyrockets, filings for H-1B applications plummet. The high demand for these visas this year is a good omen for the economy, and hopefully for immigration reform efforts as well. Highly skilled immigrants are generally considered the “sugar” in any immigration reform efforts — they are used to “sweeten” the other controversial elements like legalization.

    After all, highly skilled immigrants tend to speak English, and there’s little fear of them abusing welfare or committing crimes. Their children typically excel at school , are economically successful, and are more culturally integrated than their parents.

    Don’t you just love Nowrasteh’s disgusting inference that non H-1B workers are more likely to be “abusing welfare” and “committing crimes”?

    Meanwhile, this Boston Globe story tells us the following…

    ON JAN. 14, 2010, senior executives at Molina Healthcare in Long Beach, Calif., called their staff together for a somber meeting. The company had done poorly the previous quarter, they announced. Dozens of people in the IT department would have to be let go.

    What the fired employees didn’t know was that the previous day, the US Department of Labor had approved applications for 40 temporary workers from India to be placed at Molina, through a company called Cognizant.

    The fired employees — all US citizens or green card holders — were earning an average of $75,000 a year, plus benefits; the new workers, brought on H-1B visas, earned $50,000, with no benefits, according to a lawsuit filed by the ex-employees. The lawsuit alleges that Molina was flush with cash at the time, and that the real reason employees were fired was their nationality.

    The business model is to replace Americans,” said James Otto, their attorney.

    Not just at Molina, he said. “It’s happening across the country.”

    I’m not even sure why this is considered to be news any more by now, but if nothing else, it needs to be pointed out in response to the disgusting pabulum of Nowrasteh and others.

    And in a similar vein, I give you this

    Brookings interviewed numerous corporations for that study. The report stirred up a storm with such statements as “employers have a difficult time recruiting residents with the skills they need, largely blaming the weak foundation of secondary education in the United States…employers complain that there is a shortage of skilled workers…[some employers] mentioned that they must recruit at over 50 college campuses in the United States to find 100 [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] employees.”

    #Gene Nelson of San Luis Obispo, a PhD in radiation biophysics and an opponent of H-1B, calls the Brookings study “pathetic baloney.” He and fellow anti-H-1B activists make a good case that the program is basically a scheme to lower the overall wage level in the engineering/computer profession, thus jacking up corporate profits and paving the way for absurdly high top-management pay.

    And as noted in the video from here, an entire cottage industry has evolved of firms instructing potential employers how to run ads in order not to hire American workers and go the H-1B route instead (“gosh, well…you see, we just didn’t have a choice…all those baad American workers were busy collecting welfare and committing crimes…”).

    It would be nice to see one of these corporate bastards convicted of some type of malfeasance over this stuff, then get put out of business with each member of the management team sentenced to 20 years of hard labor on a rock pile.

    And let’s see now, Alex Nowrasteh, Alex Nowrasteh…why does that name sound familiar?

    Oh yeah, I remember now! He’s the son of Cyrus Nowrasteh, the propagandizing tool behind that “Path to 9/11” monstrosity that was posted about here and here (the wingnut apple doesn’t rot far from the tree, now does it?).

    (The late, great blog Outsourced America used to be all over this stuff – sigh.)

  • Continuing, it looks like we’ll have to deal with another crappy example of Repug non-governance (here)…

    This week House Republicans will introduce the misleadingly titled “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013.” Touted by Republicans as a new comp time initiative that will give hourly-paid workers the flexibility to meet family responsibilities, it is neither new nor about giving these workers much needed time off to care for their families. The bill rehashes legislation Republicans passed in the House in 1997, some 16 years ago, and that they introduced again in most subsequent Congresses. Its major effect would be to hamstring workers – likely increasing overtime hours for those who don’t want them and cutting pay for those who do.

    Oh, but don’t you see? The Repugs are all about “choice.” As in, so-called “exempt” workers (who can’t collect overtime) have a choice now to work the hours denied to “non-exempt” employees who could collect the overtime before, but now cannot, since the exempt employees will do the work for them and the employers will pocket the difference in the way of bonuses for themselves. Witness our glorious free market enterprise system at work!

    And what if the “non-exempt” employee wants the money instead of the hours, and/or the “exempt” employee chooses not to do more work for free?

    unemployment-line_000
    Does this picture mean anything to any of us? Sure it does (especially after reading Alex Nowrasteh extolling the supposed virtues of H-1B workers, right?).

    And by the way, I want to emphasize that I’m not criticizing the author of this Hill column, who is Eileen Appelbaum, Senior Economist, Center for Economic and Policy Research (kudos to her for this, actually).

    So who is responsible for this latest legislative fraud? Why, that would be U.S. House Repug Martha Roby of Alabama (with the “blessing” of that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor, of course), as noted here.

    And as also noted here, it looks like Roby is a tool (“tool-ette”?) of the banksters, and yes, she supported Paul Ryan’s budget big time (here), and here is more of that “get big gumint out of the private sector, because Freedom!” stuff from Roby and the rest of her ilk.

    This latest bit of smoke and mirrors from the ruling clown show in the U.S. House will do nothing to address some of the iniquities faced by workers in this country as noted here (yes, I know the Forbes story is from November 2009, but based on my Google searching on this stuff, I haven’t found any improvements, sad to say).

    Update 5/8/13: And it looks like Roby is at it again (here).

  • Further, Jake Tapper decided to placate the other side over the latest bit of faux indignation (here)…

    On his CNN program Monday afternoon, Jake Tapper took a moment to look at the “buried lead” that is Fox News reporter Jana Winter facing jail time for refusing to out her confidential sources in a Colorado case. “Where is the public outrage?” Tapper asked his audience.

    In July 2012, during a “huge scoop,” Winter cited anonymous law enforcement sources when reporting that Aurora, Colo., theater shooter James Holmes had once given his psychiatrist a notebook detailing his plans for a killing spree. Tapper wrote on his CNN blog that her reporting on the story revealed how “the system failed” the victims, and that her scoop allowed the “public to judge how well the judicial, and mental health, and other systems are working.”

    “Instead of a focus on how the system failed, we’re talking about whether Winter should go to jail for reporting on Holmes’s journal, which was found in a mail room after the attack,” Tapper lamented.

    And so, Tapper wanted to know, “where’s the public outrage?

    Please…

    To begin, this stuff has been going on for years (as noted here), wrong as it is I’ll admit, but I didn’t hear anyone from Fix Noise or their fellow travelers complaining out loud when it involved the New York Times, the Washington Post, the AP, et cetera, et cetera.

    However, as noted here (with the headline asking a very good question), “By acquiring the notebook, however, it was clear that Winter had been in contact with an individual who violated the gag order imposed on anyone with information about the ongoing Holmes trial.”

    Here is my question – where is Winter’s editor in this fiasco? Does she even have one?

    It should also be noted that, on the subject of reporters and leaking or withholding information, Tapper has no grounds to criticize anybody. As noted here and here, he misrepresented the position of our prior ruling cabal on the issue of firing anyone who had anything to do with leaking the identity of Valerie Plame; Tapper said that Bushco would only fire someone who had broken the law – Plame’s husband, diplomat Joe Wilson, pointed out that the administration’s former PR flak Scott McClellan said they would fire anyone involved in the leak whether they’d broken the law or not (and as you’ll recall, Karl Rove, just about named by Time reporter Matthew Cooper, was allowed to leave on his own terms).

    I’ll admit that there’s room to question both the behavior of Winter and the judge here. However, you can’t go against a court ruling on revealing information that could be prejudicial to a trial (and by the way, you’d better believe that Holmes’s lawyers are concocting some way to try and get a potential guilty verdict overturned on grounds of a mistrial over this). And please spare me the wailing and gnashing of teeth…”oh, that baad mainstream media won’t cover this First Amendment catastrophe because it involves Fox.”

  • Finally, it’s time to turn to South Carolina U.S. Senator Huckleberry Graham (here).

    As we know, President Obama submitted his budget to Congress, which included the horrendous formula known as “Chained C.P.I.” as part of calculating Social Security benefits (opposed by 2.3 million people, as noted here).

    Of course, being a Repug, Graham just loves anything that sticks it to the “99 percent.” So how did he communicate what he thought of the budget?

    “The president is showing a bit of leg here,” Graham said.

    Now, if you’re of a certain age (and I am, which I’m a bit loathe to admit at times), one of the first images that comes into your mind when you hear that expression is that of actress Claudette Colbert in the movie “It Happened One Night” raising the hem of her dress to reveal a bit of leg, as it were, while trying to hitch hike, in an effort to get a car to slow down and look at her and offer a ride (the joke that works rather well in the movie is that her co-star Clark Gable first tried the more traditional means of sticking out his thumb, which obviously failed).

    I don’t suppose that Graham knows this, though his handlers obviously do, including the Repug Party marketers and image makers who are compensated handsomely for trying to pull the proverbial wool over our eyes on a 24/7/365 basis.

    My point (finally) is that, as opposed to saying, “We agree with some of what the president is proposing, but we want a closer look before we commit to anything” or similar language, Graham attempts to almost feminize Obama here, and thus, further trying to disrespect and delegitimize him (can you imagine the outcry if, say, Al Franken had said that about Dubya?).

    After all, you can’t truly be a Repug unless you’re shamelessly demagoguing your enemies and accusing them of the same tactics you’re practicing yourself, can you?

    Of course, Graham really doesn’t have any room to raise gender-bending talking points about anyone when you consider this…does he?


  • Friday Mashup (9/14/12)

    September 14, 2012

  • Really, Foxies? Our embassies are being “overrun” (here)?

    Not according to this

    KHARTOUM/TUNIS (Reuters) – Fury about a film that insults the Prophet Mohammad tore across the Middle East on Friday with protesters attacking U.S. embassies and burning American flags as the Pentagon rushed to bolster security at its missions.

    The obscure California-made film triggered an attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya’s city of Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans on Tuesday, the anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001 al Qaeda attacks on the United States.

    In Tunis, at least five people were wounded by police gunfire near the U.S. embassy, and a Reuters reporter said a big fire had erupted within the embassy compound. Protesters had earlier leapt over the compound wall.

    Witnesses said Sudanese police fired tear gas at thousands of protesters to stop them approaching the U.S. embassy outside Khartoum, but some jumped over the wall. A Reuters reporter heard gunfire from the scene.

    In a related story, I thought this was a highly interesting development concerning the former “sugar daddy” of one-time Repug presidential hopeful Former Senator Man-On-Dog (somehow I have a feeling that Not Your Father’s Republican Party has a hand, however small it may be, in all of this anti-Muslim propaganda that has currently inflamed an area that is highly flammable already – fits in too nicely with the whole “October Surprise” mentality)…I think this is worthwhile reading on this subject also (Update: More good stuff from C&L here…worthy of a donation, I’d say).

  • And yes, we are indeed in the “silly season” when Frank Bruni of the New York Times can write about the recent Democratic National Convention and concoct the following (here)…

    AT their party’s ebullient convention last week, the Democratic politicians with an eye on the 2016 presidential contest were out in full force and almost in full stride, never mind that 2012 has yet to be settled.

    Martin O’Malley, the Maryland governor, popped up here, there and everywhere. Mark Warner, the Virginia senator, was nearly as ubiquitous. And Joe Biden made the fiery most of a prime speaking slot just before President Obama’s.

    But all of them knew that their efforts would probably be for naught and their aspirations in vain if a certain someone who was then half a world away decided to reach — again — for the White House. Like a poltergeist in a pantsuit, Hillary Clinton haunted Charlotte.

    I give you Clinton Derangement Syndrome on display, my fellow prisoners.

    And speaking of the Times (a bit late to clean out my “in” bin, I’ll admit), The Moustache of Understanding gives us a description of what constitutes a “hard working day” for our corporate media (here, singing the praises once more over how wonderful “globalization” allegedly is)…

    Technology and globalization are wiping out lower-skilled jobs faster, while steadily raising the skill level required for new jobs. More than ever now, lifelong learning is the key to getting into, and staying in, the middle class.

    There is a quote attributed to the futurist Alvin Toffler that captures this new reality: In the future “illiteracy will not be defined by those who cannot read and write, but by those who cannot learn and relearn.” Any form of standing still is deadly.

    I covered the Republican convention, and I was impressed in watching my Times colleagues at how much their jobs have changed. Here’s what a reporter does in a typical day: report, file for the Web edition, file for The International Herald Tribune, tweet, update for the Web edition, report more, track other people’s tweets, do a Web-video spot and then write the story for the print paper. You want to be a Times reporter today? That’s your day. You have to work harder and smarter and develop new skills faster.

    I’m sorry, but with all due respect to the many hard-working news professionals of the Times, Friedman really should shut his jowling yap over the supposedly heroic efforts of his fourth-estate brethren.

    Particularly when you consider this

    According to a recent survey from Millennial Branding and Payscale, Millenials really are most likely to be employed in service industry jobs. So, all those jokes about post-graduation latte pouring and t-shirt folding haven’t been in vain. And while it might be comforting to think of these jobs as necessary way stations on the path to an upwardly mobile future – especially if you’re someone who holds one – there’s mounting evidence that the American labor market may never return to its pre-recession composition. The future is already here and it brings with it low-wage temporary or contract work as a way of life.

    I know of at least one college graduate with a BA in education who can’t find work in our school district, so she waits tables at an Applebee’s instead. A friend of mine works for a company where someone with an MBA in finance was just hired as an executive assistant (her most visible job within the company appears to be filling up Outlook meeting calendars for the owner). Many of the folks living in the development of Le Manse Doomsy are never home because they’re either working at least two jobs or longer hours at one, or both.

    We have an employment crisis in this country. And we have had one for some time. And we’ll still have one whether or not President Obama is returned for another term or (God help us) Former Governor Etch-A-Sketch, Weather Vane Willard Mitt and Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv take over this fall.

    So you’ll forgive me if I tell you that I don’t give a crap about what an allegedly hard time Tom Friedman’s fellow journos have it at The Times, what with having to labor under the oppressive yolk of “tweeting,” filming Web videos, reading other “tweets” and filing news reports with an occasional update before it’s time for happy hour.

    And all the while, Obama’s American Jobs Act continues to sit in the U.S. House for a year and counting (here), having been stalled by “Man Tan” Boehner and that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor.

  • Next, I have a little “compare and contrast” from a couple of days ago in the matter of Obama HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; first, I give you Jake Tapper of ABC News (here)…

    President Obama was notified today by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that one of his key Cabinet officials violated the Hatch Act, the law that restricts the political activity of anyone employed or holding office in the Executive Branch except for the President and Vice President.

    Carolyn Lerner, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel concluded that Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act when she served as the Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker at the February 25, 2012 gala for the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    The event was billed as official travel, and she appeared at the event in an official capacity, but in her remarks – which departed from her official text – she advocated for the election of Lt. Governor Walter Dalton in his primary and general election race for governor, and for the re-election of President Obama, saying, “one of the imperatives is to make sure that we not only come together here in Charlotte to present the nomination to the president, but we make sure that in November he continues to be president for another four years.”

    After media inquiries following those remarks, the Department of Health and Human Services “retroactively reclassified the event as political,” the OSC report states, and reimbursed the federal government for the costs of her travel.

    When asked about her remarks in an interview with OSC investigators, the report says Sebelius “expressed regret for the statements” regarding Dalton “since there were ‘other primary opponents who were close by.’” She said her “‘shout out’ came across ‘as an endorsement.’” She allowed that her comments about President Obama were “a mistake” and an example of her again going “off script.” “I clearly made a mistake,” Sebelius said. “I was not intending to use an official capacity to do a political event.”

    Lerner did not recommend that any action be taken against Sebelius.

    On the same day concerning the same story, the Daily Tucker screeched as follows (here)…

    The Federal Times (a Gannett publication, I think) suggests that Sebelius may be fired for her illegal activity. “The finding could possibly cost Sebelius her job,” the outlet reported. “Although OSC did not recommend any specific punishment, and said Obama will decide how to punish her, Hatch Act violators are usually fired.”

    Dan Epstein, the president of good-government group Cause of Action, told The Daily Caller that since Sebelius is a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee, she isn’t entitled to a review from the Merit Systems Protection Board — one that that could reduce her penalty if she were a career staffer.

    “Sebelius doesn’t get (Merit Systems Protection Board – I guess Tucker doesn’t have any copy/style editors) Review so there’s no ability for the MSPB to lower the penalty to a suspension and the Board isn’t entitled to review,” Epstein said. “If Sebelius wasn’t a cabinet member or a PAS (Presidentially Appointed and Senate Confirmed) OSC would proceed by filing a complaint with the MSPB.”

    “Thus the point is that by Close of Business on September 12, 2012, the President has been informed of a Hatch Act violation and yet has decided not to fire Sebelius,” Epstein added. “The President has therefore decided to overlook the improper political activities of his appointees when in their official capacities. He has effectively said it is okay to politicize the executive branch.”

    WAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Oh, give me a freaking break! Sebelius was probably jet lagged or something and forgot where she was. Grow up!

    And I don’t know what the hell Cause of Action is (I hardly think it’s a “good government group”), but this tells us that Epstein recently alleged that there are 174 “secret” ACORN (!!!!!) organizations (cue the scary sounding background music – of course, in the world of reality, we know that ACORN no longer exists).

    Besides, as noted here, I’ll “see” Tucker Sebelius’s mistake and “raise” him Lurita Doan of the Bushco GSA, who actually oversaw Hatch Act violations, though she was too busy playing stupid in front of the House Oversight Committee under Dem Henry Waxman to be nailed without a subpoena.

    Update 9/18/12: Leave it to The Daily Tucker to double down on the stoo-pid here.

  • Continuing, I give you this choice nugget from Repug U.S. House Rep Joe (“You Lie!”) Wilson of South Carolina (from here, attacking President Obama on foreign policy…again)…

    President Ronald Reagan’s national security approach of providing peace through strength kept the United States and our allies safe for decades.

    I know the bar is already set pretty low for Wilson, but I think it’s particularly disgusting for him to invoke the memory of The Sainted Ronnie R a mere two days after we observed the anniversary of the worst foreign-based attack in our history, made possible in no small part because Number 40 decided to arm the mujahedeen in Afghanistan (including bin Laden) against the former Soviet Union (here).

  • Finally, it looks like Repug senators John Thune and Kelly Ayotte, among other culprits, are all aghast over President Obama supposedly not “leading” in the matter of increasing defense spending in his proposed budget (here).

    In response, this tells us the following from last May…

    The White House today reacted to news that representations of President Obama’s budget had been voted down by the House and Senate by decrying the introduction of the amendments, by Republicans, as “gimmicks.”

    “Gimmicks are not solutions,” White House press secretary Jay Carney emailed to ABC News. “The American people overwhelmingly support a balanced approach to our long-term budget challenges. That’s the approach the President supports. The sooner Republicans drop their intransigence and join the American people in supporting a balanced approach, the sooner Congress will be able to come together and reach a compromise.”

    I guess the Repugs figure that we’ll just forget about their playing political games at the behest of their campaign contributors as opposed to practicing actual governance for the benefit of the people they were ostensibly elected to represent.

    It would be truly depressing if it turned out that they were right.


  • Wednesday Mashup Part One (5/12/10)

    May 12, 2010

  • In local election news “across the river,” I should let you know that Tony Mack won the right to run against either Eric Jackson (public works director under outgoing Mayor Doug Palmer) or at-large Councilman Manny Segura in the Trenton, NJ mayoral election on June 15th, as noted here.

    And in news involving someone who may end up as a candidate for a Darwin Award, mayoral candidate and author/activist Shahid Watson took over somebody’s house for the purposes of setting up campaign headquarters and will subsequently face charges (here…and just for the record, let it be known that Watson actually received 200 votes; maybe those are other award nominees…?).

  • And in news closer to home, this article from The Hill tells us that 15 out of 18 members of PA’s congressional delegation “signaled their support” for an NBC/Comcast merger; those who didn’t sign the letter favoring the deal were Joe Sestak (D), Mike Doyle (D) and Paul Kanjorski (D).

    What a shame that none of those signatories have anything approximating the spine of Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, who gave Brian Roberts the upbraiding he deserved here (apparently, Comcast is surpassed only by the NRA in the Keystone State when it comes to wielding political clout).

  • Finally, as noted here by U.S. House Repug Joe (“You Lie!”) Wilson of South Carolina, today is “Jerusalem Reunification Day.”

    For a somewhat different perspective, I ask that you read this.

    And to commemorate the day further, a full page ad in the NYT from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Fund claims that former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin “gave his life for his country.”

    That’s true, but not in the way you would commonly understand it; as Wikipedia tells us here, Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a radical right-wing Orthodox Jew who opposed the signing of the Oslo Accords with PLO Leader Yasser Arafat.


  • Wednesday Mashup (12/16/09)

    December 16, 2009

    Trying to get caught up a bit here with some stuff…

  • 1) Yesterday at the LA Times, former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm observed as follows (here)…

    It seems President Obama is not quite there yet in fulfilling his hopeful campaign promise to change the harsh partisan tone in the nation’s capitol.

    This Media Matters post reminds us that Malcolm criticized Obama for lighting the White House Christmas Tree. And leaving it lit.

    Seriously.

    So I would say Malcolm has some work to do on the whole “partisan tone” thing also.

  • 2) Also, Matthew Continetti resurrected the zombie lie that tax cuts create jobs here at The Weakly Standard yesterday…

    If the Democrats were smart, they would read Greg Mankiw’s op-ed in the Sunday Times, where he points out that “successful stimulus relies almost entirely on cuts in business and income taxes. Failed stimulus relies mostly on increases in government spending.”

    In response, I give you the following from The New Yorker written in 2003 (sounds prescient now)…

    the President’s tax cuts may in the end destroy more jobs than they create. As tax revenues fall and the deficit increases, interest rates will rise, and the higher cost of borrowing will impede business investment and hiring. The reborn supply-side economists who devised the President’s plan would dispute this, except that many of them were fired or encouraged to quit in the Administration’s recent purge of its financial team.

    The article also tells us that Mankiw himself noted the damage caused by the deficits inevitably resulting from tax cuts (yes I know, water wet, sky blue…).

    And as noted here by Brad DeLong, Mankiw recently claimed that you can’t measure jobs saved from an economic stimulus, though Mankiw claimed exactly the opposite in 2003.

    Also concerning economic policy, Joe “You Lie!” Wilson told us the following at The Hill today (here)…

    In the past two years, the debt ceiling has been raised four times. This week, Congress debated raising the debt ceiling by $1.8 trillion. Congress continues spend, spend, and spend – ultimately passing our debts onto our grandchildren.

    That’s funny when you consider what happened when Wilson’s party ran our government nearly into the ground in the earlier part of this decade; as noted here…

    During 2002, debt subject to limit increased enough to reach the current statutory debt limit, $5.95 trillion. Legislation increased the limit to $6.4 trillion in June 2002.

    In December 2002, the Administration asked Congress for another increase in the debt limit. As the limit was approached in February 2003, the Treasury resorted to accounting measures at its disposal to avoid exceeding the limit. The adoption of the FY 2004 budget resolution conference report by Congress in early April 2003 triggered legislation in the House increasing the debt limit by $984 billion, deemed passed by the House, and sent to the Senate. In May, the Senate passed the increase, which the President signed on May 27, 2003…

    By the spring of 2004, the Treasury began asking for another increase in the debt limit. Congress did not act to raise the debt limit before recessing in mid-October 2004. The Secretary of the Treasury soon notified Congress that he was taking allowed actions to avoid exceeding the debt limit. He also said that these actions would suffice only through mid-November when the Treasury would exhaust its ability to finance all federal activities. In an after-election session, Congress passed and the President signed legislation raising the debt limit by $800 billion.

    And not that it would do him any good on health care at this point, but Harry Reid should note the following…

    In 2005, Congress included debt limit raising reconciliation instructions in the FY 2006 budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 95). The adoption of the budget resolution also triggered the automatic passage in the House of a debt limit increase (H.J. Res. 47). No action on raising the limit was taken during calendar year 2005. The Secretary of the Treasury sent letters to Congress on December 22, 2005, and February 6 and March 6, 2006 asking for a debt-limit increase and warning that the Treasury would exhaust its options to avoid reaching the debt limit by mid-March. The Senate passed H.J. Res. 47 on March 16, after rejecting several amendments. The President signed it into law (P.L. 109-182) on March 20. The law increased the debt limit by $781 billion to $8.965 trillion.

    So, as you can see above, the debt limit increased by $3 trillion under Repug “governance” from 2002 to 2006 (and we went from a $230 billion surplus when Clinton left to a $2.8 trillion deficit by ’06).

    And by the way, the best way to get back at Wilson for his demagoguery (to say nothing of his rudeness) is to contribute to his opponent Rob Miller, who is competing for Wilson’s seat in Congress; to help Miller, click here.

  • 3) And finally, I haven’t said much lately about developments concerning Tiger Woods, since his story isn’t something I typically comment on, I know.

    However, I noticed that he was dropped as a corporate spokesman by Accenture, the consulting and outsourcing/offshoring company that spun off from the Arthur Andersen accounting firm in January 2001.

    And before we feel sorry for Accenture over this, consider the following (from February 2008, here)…

    Techdirt brings us the news that in January, the U.S. Patent Office granted a patent to two scientists who work for the consulting firm Accenture for “rapid knowledge transfer among workers.”

    Specifically, transferring knowledge from “experts” in one location to “apprentices” in another, via a Web-based set of templates. As the patent reads: “One application is a system for transferring knowledge in the context of outsourcing job functions of workers.”

    So, no more of that icky hands-on training of the foreign worker who will then perform your job for a fraction of your wages — a “level of personal interaction [that] has proved to be very costly.” Now, it can all be done online, for a fraction of the cost.

    Apparently, Accenture has come up with some means to facilitate the transfer of information from this country to someone offshore who can (in theory) do the job for less. And as we know, such knowledge is the life blood of not only a business, but someone’s career as well.

    And of course, this also adds to the deficit, though our corporate media will never bother to inform us of that, of course.

    So considering the news that this company has severed its advertising relationship with someone who is probably the pre-eminent golfer of easily the last ten years because it turns out that he was also a serial philanderer, I have only this to say.

    I think Woods is too good for them.


  • Monday Mashup Part 1 (11/30/09)

    November 30, 2009

  • 1) I detected a bit of an inconsistency with the following from Republican political strategist Ed Rollins in this CNN editorial…

    …Michaele and Tareq Salahi want to be famous as stars of reality television. I am all for that. Give them a reality television series and call it “Trial and Jailtime” in the D.C. criminal justice system. This despicable, desperate, duplicitous couple disgraced the Secret Service and embarrassed the president in his home.

    If someone wants to bring charges against these two and investigate how they came face-to-face with the President of the United States the other night at the state dinner for the Indian prime minister and his wife, then I would tend to think that that’s a good idea.

    However, it would have been nice if we had heard such outrage from Rollins and his pals when James Guckert (under the alias “Jeff Gannon”) accessed the White House and was admitted to the White House press briefing room on day press passes for almost two years, even though the following was true:

    • (Gannon had) no media experience other than a two-day training course at The Leadership Institute’s Broadcast School of Journalism.
    • (Gannon) was denied media credentials April 7, 2004, by the “Standing Committee of Correspondents, the press body that oversees the distribution of credentials on Capitol Hill.”
    • (Gannon) was not working for a recognized media outlet.
    • (Gannon) had access to the White House press briefing room before Talon News (a “psuedo-news” organization tied to a right-wing web site; it was the alleged news site Gannon worked for) was operational.

    So to sum up, Rollins thinks that the two gate crashers at the state dinner recently held at the White House should be prosecuted, but neither he nor anyone else in his party thinks Jeff Gannon should pay any price whatsoever, considering that he “somehow bypassed both Secret Service and FBI screening to access the White House press room.”

    And Rollins wrote this for CNN.

    We’ll have to “leave it there.”

  • 2) I felt like I was taking a bit of a trip back in time when I read through this “Politico” rehash of Republican talking points, called “7 ‘Stories’ Obama Doesn’t Want Told” (including the following – I’ll explain in a minute)…

    People used to make fun of Bill Clinton’s misty-eyed, raspy-voiced claims that, “I feel your pain.”

    The reality, however, is that Clinton’s dozen years as governor before becoming president really did leave him with a vivid sense of the concrete human dimensions of policy. He did not view programs as abstractions — he viewed them in terms of actual people he knew by name.

    Obama, a legislator and law professor, is fluent in describing the nuances of problems. But his intellectuality has contributed to a growing critique that decisions are detached from rock-bottom principles.

    Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

    The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

    (Oh, by the way, this is “story” number two of seven – insert your snark here.)

    So basically, what we have here is a “reboot,” if you will, of the Al Gore “Ozone Man” narrative of the 2000 election (as the punditocracy told us, Gore was intellectual, not a “common man” like George W. Bush, couldn’t decide whether or not he was an “alpha male” and was therefore a liar, etc. – I know I’m leaving some other contrived mythology on Gore, but you get the idea).

    And it’s appropriate actually that Harris would mention MoDo here since, perhaps more than anyone else (here), she piled onto the former veep during the campaign over Gore’s “obsessions about global warming and the information highway”; she also compared Gore to the “wackadoo wing of the Democratic Party” for his criticism of the Iraq war; and has repeatedly furthered numerous falsehoods about Gore, such as that Gore once claimed to have “invented the Internet” (guess there was no way to avoid that one) and that author Naomi Wolf advised Gore on his wardrobe.

    And by the way, I would not have blamed Dowd or anyone else if what they wrote was legitimate, verifiable criticism instead of corporate media idiocy.

    But getting back to Obama, John Harris of Politico takes note of the president’s “peculiar” bow to the Japanese emperor and concludes with the following…

    Obama’s best hope of nipping bad storylines is to replace them with good ones rooted in public perceptions of his effectiveness.

    Of course, there’s no word on whether or not Harris and his playmates will actually take note of those “good ones” (such as Obama’s speech before Congress on health care and not taking the bait of the oafish Joe “You Lie” Wilson) as opposed to rehashing the bad ones instead for the millionth time.

  • Update 1 12/1/09: And while The Politico concocts dookey like this, blogger Nathan Newman actually went to work and reported on achievements of the Obama Administration here (of course, too bad that reality conflicts with Harris’s dumb narratives – hat tip to Chris Bowers of Open Left).

    Update 2 12/1/09: “Spock this” indeed – ha, ha, ha.

  • 3) And finally, here is more unintentional comedy from “Z on TV”…

    A consensus is starting to build that says so far, Barack Obama has been a lot better at playing a president on TV than actually being one in 2009.

    Maybe it is the arrival of the holidays and the inescapable realization that our president has seemed to be mostly indifferent to the millions of Americans who are out of work and can’t even start to think of holiday cheer. While the White House has been focused in recent months on such misguided campaigns as trying to beat Fox News into submission for daring to criticize him, more and more Americans are wondering why the president hasn’t heard their growing cries of desperation. That’s what the intensity and outrage of the town halls were really about during the summer. But the tin ears in the administration didn’t hear it. They were too busy booking the president on every talk show on television — as long as it wasn’t on Fox News.

    You know, it’s really hilarious to read someone like Zurawik criticize Obama for “playing president” (and any proof on this emerging “consensus,” by the way?) after less than a year in office after we all had to endure the antics of Commander Codpiece since he was installed into An Oval Office in November 2000 (I’ll tell you what, Z – let me know if Obama “drops in” on our troops with a plastic Thanksgiving turkey like 43 did here, and maybe I’ll take you seriously, OK?).

    And as far as Obama being “indifferent” to Americans out of work, all I can ask is which party supported the “Stim” and which one didn’t (and which president signed it into law – this tells us that the ARRA “added roughly 2.3 percentage points to real GDP growth in the second quarter “ and created or saved between 660,000 and 1.1 million jobs…and I didn’t recall hearing a plan for a “stimulus” from the Palin/McBush ticket last year).

    Also, as far as Obama appearing on every talk show except Fix Noise, is “Z” aware that Obama was interviewed here by Major Garrett on November 19th? And another thing… anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the corporate “Astro-turf” support behind the teabaggers and their faux outrage over the summer is suffering from a serious case of reality avoidance anyway (here).

    And finally, how’s this for a “Z” “mea culpa”…

    Don’t blame me on this one, folks. I have been saying this since early in the year, and generally catching hell for it even from some of my colleagues.

    If you, Z, as a salaried media pundit who writes for a living, don’t even have the fortitude to take some criticism, then stick to writing about TV “reality” shows and Tiger Woods’ vehicle accident instead (or the White House “gate crashers” I noted previously), and leave political criticism for those who do even a bare minimum of research to make their case.


  • Not Enough Lipstick To Smear Onto This Pig

    December 10, 2008

    dubya_in_doubtI may keep coming back to this article that appeared on Sunday in the Austin American-Statesman in which Bushco insiders try to paint a rosy picture of Dubya’s legacy; it is ripe with posting material, but there are a couple of excerpts that I should reply to immediately, so I will do so here.

    The first is from none other than Turd Blossom himself…

    Rove also blames Washington partisanship for the scandals and subpoenas embedded in the Bush legacy, including leaks involving a clandestine CIA agent’s identity.

    He offered himself as an example.

    “You’ll notice there was outrage when it was thought that I was the person behind outing Valerie Plame. And then when it came out that it was the sainted (Deputy Secretary of State) Richard Armitage, there was no interest. I don’t remember seeing anybody camped out on his doorstep like they were camped out on mine. (It’s) because he was part of the acceptable culture of Washington, and I was not. I was one of those Texans who came up. He was one of those perpetual I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you’ll-scratch-mine Washington leakers,” Rove vented.

    As I once said, please allow me to reply with this thoughtful and reasoned observation…

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

    Oh, boo hoo for Karl! Aww, let’s pretend to feel sorry the life form who once said, “Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers” (more “golden moments” with Karl appear here).

    More to the point, this Media Matters post tells us…

    …A Newsweek article by (author Michael) Isikoff, posted on the magazine’s website on August 27, reveals the authors’ contention that Armitage was (reporter Bob) Novak’s primary source for his July 14, 2003, column, which first publicly identified Plame as a CIA operative.

    However, as Media Matters noted, then-Time magazine White House correspondent Matthew Cooper, in his first-person account (subscription required) of his testimony before the grand jury in the CIA leak investigation, identified Rove as his original source for Plame’s identity and Libby as his confirming source. Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller identified Libby as her primary source for Plame’s identity. (Reporter David) Corn noted in an August 27 entry on his Capital Games weblog for The Nation that Armitage’s role in the Plame leak — whatever it may have been — does not undermine the allegation that there was a “concerted action” by “multiple people in the White House” to “discredit, punish, or seek revenge against” Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

    Nice try, Karl.

    And the American-Statesman article also quotes Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, as follows…

    Spellings said that when she went to work in Bush’s 1994 gubernatorial campaign, she found a “glass-half-full guy if ever there was one.”

    “His attitude is good. He is obviously reflective, but I think he feels he gave it his all, and I think he feels that he has accomplished a lot,” Spellings said. “I think he’s the same George Bush I’ve always known.”

    I actually agree with that; more’s the pity (and by the way, this tells us about the “Reading First” scam perpetrated as part of the even-bigger Every Child Left Behind con with Spellings’ blessing, this tells us of how Dubya’s brother Neil made a bundle marketing his utterly useless “Curriculum on Wheels,” or COWs, as part of NCLB, again with Spellings’ consent, and this tells us that Spellings “loves” Dubya….eeeewwwww!).

    To conclude…

    “I think he is smart and able and has a great big heart and is a good human being,” Spellings said. “I’m sad that more Americans don’t see him as I do. Maybe they will eventually. I certainly hope so.”

    We’ve seen all of this life form we ever want to see. And after 1/20/09, I pray to God I never see him again (or, failing that, as little of him as possible).

    (And once more, I should note that K.O. gave a hell of a smack down last night to Dubya apologists everywhere, but the video is unavailable from MSNBC – wankers.)


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