A Little-Known Danger That Truly Sucks

December 16, 2008

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(Not trying to be funny – this is serious stuff…)

This story from the AP tells us that…

WASHINGTON — Unless new anti-drowning drain covers are installed, tens of thousands of public swimming pools and hot tubs could be forced to close Saturday under a sweeping law designed to prevent drain suction from trapping children under water.

The rules apply to pools and spas used by the public, including municipal pools and those at hotels, private clubs, apartment buildings and community centers.

The improved drain systems were outlined in legislation passed by Congress a year ago. Pool and spa operators had a year to comply; Friday is the deadline for installing the new equipment.

And even though the pic is a bit of a giveway, I should emphasize that, when it comes to matters involving product safety in the dark days of Bushco, the trail leads directly to Nancy Nord, who is STILL (and likely will be until 1/20/09) the “acting” chairman (person?) of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

And as you can read beginning from here, the CPSC has basically been (like just about every other agency of government under this cabal) a dumping ground for cronies and members of Dubya’s true “base” that had been subject to oversight in the past from the agencies they have been entrusted to run (as close to “the fox guarding the hen house” as I hope I ever see).

The prior post from May 2007 tells us of Michael Baroody, nominated as the CSPC head prior to Nord, who withdrew himself from consideration partly because of concerns expressed by a certain former Senator from Illinois (here). The May 2007 post also tells us of Hal Stratton, who ran the CPSC before he stepped down and created the current vacancy that has never officially been filled; Stratton’s last job prior to his appointment was chairing the campaign fundraising group Lawyers For Bush in 2000. Before his confirmation hearing, Dem Senator Ron Wyden expressed concern that Stratton “had no demonstrable record on public safety,” but he was confirmed anyway.

So we go from Stratton to Baroody (before he withdrew) to Nord (who was never confirmed), who tells us in the AP story that…

…the agency will focus initially on public baby pools and wading pools, as well as in-ground spas that have flat drain grates on the bottom and just one drain system.

“We will be focusing our initial efforts on the littlest swimmers in the littlest pools,” Nord told reporters.

Nord said, however, that Congress did not give her agency the $7 million needed to enforce the law. As a result, the federal government expects states to take on much of the enforcement responsibility.

God, this is so typical for this woman; as noted here, she blew off a congressional subcommittee investigating dangerous toys for kids – as the embedded Times editorial tells us, Nord “joined industry lobbyists in opposing a Senate bill intended to strengthen her enfeebled agency.”

And despite this, she resisted calls to step down from her “acting” position, as noted here (this is a superb take down of Nord by Rick Perlstein, by the way).

I’ve looked around to determine if Obama has nominated anyone to head the CPSC, and it appears that he has not as of yet (I even read the laughable suggestion of nominating Ralph Nader). So once more, please allow me to nominate this guy, particularly given his experience representing Valerie Lakey and her family here in a manner very much having to do with the exact type of pool safety issue noted in the AP story (which, apparently, Nancy Nord has either no or very little intention of trying to help rectify in any way whatsoever).


Hacks Like Thee

September 22, 2008


I don’t know who else noticed besides your humble narrator, but Ron Fournier and Charles Babington of the AP took turns this weekend writing two stories on the same poll concerning the election.

I’ll give you Fournier first (here)…

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them “lazy,” “violent,” responsible for their own troubles.

The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.

And now Babington (here)…

(The poll) shows that a substantial portion of white Americans still harbor negative feelings toward blacks. It shows that blacks and whites disagree tremendously on how much racial prejudice exists, whose fault it is and how much influence blacks have in politics.

One result is that Barack Obama’s path to the presidency is steeper than it would be if he were white.

And in other news, the sky is blue, water is wet, the Pope is German, and Dubya’s job approval rating is now at 19 percent (here – doesn’t have anything to do with this post, really, but what would I be if I missed an opportunity to take a shot over that?).

Yes, race is an issue, but Fournier and Babington both throw around a lot of statistics from Stanford University (which I’ve never identified as a hotbed of progressive political thought anyway) that I’m not going to waste anyone’s time trying to analyze (I’m a blogger, not an insurance actuary). I put more stock in reporting on this matter like the type that Dave Davies of the Philadelphia Daily News provided here (not trying to impugn him in the post title, by the way).

And if I can “go meta” for a second on this, I just want to make the personal observation that, as a white male living in the Northeast, I no longer feel any implied sense of entitlement or superiority over anyone living in any other region of this country on the matter of race. It’s true that I should not have felt that way anyway, and I’m sorry about that. But after watching or hearing of the conduct of a great many people who I thought knew better than to disqualify Barack Obama merely because of the color of his skin over these last few months, I have to tell you that I have found myself truly sobered into recognizing this fact (and I have found that conduct to be utterly shocking – say what you want, but that’s the way it is, as that news guy used to say).

That being said, though, I would just like to remind us all of this Gallup poll from last February which, among other things, showed steeper numbers for Hillary Clinton in a matchup with John W. McBush when it came to white male voters (40 HRC- 55 McBush versus 45 Obama – 50 McBush) and showed better numbers among overall voters for Obama against McBush than HRC against the Repug nominee (with the exception of voters 65 and older).

And though Hillary Clinton fared better than Obama in a McBush matchup when it came to rating the two Dems on their experience, I personally think that’s a wash given the fact that our corporate media would have recycled every conceivable negative Clinton narrative to negate her edge had she won the nomination. I think it works to Obama’s advantage that he’s more of a “blank slate,” the nonstop Tony Rezko-Reverend Wright caterwauling by Fox Noise and right-wing attack radio notwithstanding (a lot harder for Broderella, for example, to go sniffing around in the Obama’s underwear drawer than the Clinton’s).

Also, please keep in mind here that I would have been happy with Hillary as the nominee (yes, really). She and Obama were both excellent candidates, but what decided it for me was the precision of Obama’s campaign, versus all of the pratfalls from the people who were supposed to be serving Hillary (and both she and her husband had their stumbles also – those contrasts told me how each of them would have governed). I’m not trying to use “analysis” from Fournier, Babington or anyone else to justify my selection (and either way, that selection would have been historic from the moment John Edwards left the campaign, which, we now know, was an act of providence).

I don’t know how much of an issue race is going to play in this election, and I have news for you: nobody else does either. And unless the AP is going to walk us step by step through exactly how this study was conducted (e.g., they note that photos of Caucasians versus African-Americans were shown to measure responses in the Stanford study; why can’t we see the photos?), they shouldn’t try acting like they do (at the very least, the Fournier and Babington pieces should have been labeled “analysis”; why was even that slight gesture too much trouble?).

Update: As soon as I pressed Enter on this, I realized I’d forgotten to point out that there are a bunch of nested links for both the Fournier and Babington pieces providing more information on the survey methodology, though it takes some digging to get to this information.

Update 9/23/08: This is a recording…


This Just In! The “Stinky Inky” Is Clueless Again!

September 13, 2008

From 9/10…I apologize for the overuse of exclamation points, but I think the emphasis is deserved; this editorial from today’s conservative Philadelphia newspaper of record deserved to be buried in our cat’s litter box, not featured in a place of prominence as determined by the Inquirer…

Here’s some “Breaking News” from MSNBC: The cable news channel has dumped two of its high-profile yakkers – Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews – from the anchor seats of its political coverage. David Gregory, a legitimate news broadcaster, will lead the political coverage going forward.

Oh, and by the way, here and here are examples of “legitimate” news broadcaster David Gregory in action; I assure you that I could find many more if I wanted to, but life is short (and by the way, here’s Greenwald again on this).

Liberal bloggers are upset by the move, arguing that MSNBC caved in to pressure from John McCain’s campaign and the right wing. Criticizing the media has been a cheap but effective tool by the McCain camp – but on this score MSNBC has no one to blame but itself.

The short-lived Olbermann-Matthews anchor duo was a misguided ploy designed to boost ratings. The experiment backfired when the coverage veered off into on-air spats between the anchors that began to sound more like talk radio.

Oh, and we could NEVER allow that to happen on behalf of the Democrats, can we now? Even though I cannot determine exactly what it was that either one of them said or did (I know Matthews took offense to Olbermann’s “yakking” hand gesture before they interviewed Steny Hoyer – who had a good laugh over the whole thing – and Olbermann chided Joe Scarborough to “bring a shovel” the next time he decided to heap praise on John W. McBush during the Democratic National Convention; other than that, your guess is as good as mine as to what the offenses were, the typical Governor Gidget/McBush whining notwithstanding).

And another thing; it is absolutely preposterous to imagine even for a second that Chris Matthews is actually left of center (another shining example of Tweety “riding the tire swing” is noted here).

The move left the cable network open to valid criticism of having a liberal bias. Serious news readers, such as NBC anchor Brian Williams, seemed put out by how the biased bickering was cheapening the news value.

And never forget how kind Williams once was to bloggers in general, as noted here; no doubt this endeared him to the Inky and Brian Tierney of Philadelphia Media Holdings, L.L.C.

There has been a blurring of news and opinion, especially at the cable networks, where talking heads manage to yammer on and on for hours without actually saying much.

Of late, MSNBC has emerged as the liberal counterweight to the conservative Fox News Channel. Both are preaching to their respective choirs rather than providing objective news coverage and useful analysis.

This time, MSNBC went too far by putting blatantly biased commentators in the role of news anchors. Even Fox knows better than to have Bill O’Reilly anchor its political coverage. So far, anyway.

Unfortunately, the real losers have been viewers hungry for substantive political coverage of the issues.

And never forget also the “substantive political coverage” the Inky brought you here, featuring Chris Satullo’s preoccupation with the cost of John Edwards’ haircut (again, the messenger has been discredited, but the point remains – if the link “blows up,” blame Blogger, not yours truly).

Also, under the category of “the blurring of news and opinion,” I don’t know how the Inky can possibly claim with any degree of seriousness that that doesn’t happen at other corporate media TV channels (almost beyond redundant to feature Faux News yet again, but this link tells us the role that “journalists” Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham played in the network’s “news coverage” of the presidential election four years ago – instructive if, for no other reason, to see exactly how they decided to “dumb down” coverage then as now).

However, I must give the Inky points for noting that media consumers in this country desperately need reliable sources of information to learn about the issues and make the right decisions on November 4th this year. They are entirely correct.

And that is why we now read the New York Times instead.

Update 10/7/08: Here’s more of “legitimate” news broadcaster David Gregory in action (and still more “legitimate” broadcasting – keep “riding the tire swing,” Gregory).


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