Friday Mashup (12/14/12)

December 14, 2012
  • With all of the ongoing fiscal cliff kabuki going on, it was only a matter of time before deficit scold Judd Gregg made a return appearance, and he did so recently here

    In the parlance of John Wayne, it is a time to stand and deliver.

    “Stand” in this context means “stand up to” Republican and Democrat special interests.

    Both parties have, as part of their core elements, groups that do not wish to govern.

    Rather, they wish to stay in the corners of the ring and shout — artificially firing up their constituencies so that they can mine their followers for contributions and power.

    On the left, this is the cause of big labor and the AARP. On the right, it is the cause of the self-anointed definers of religious purity and the anti-tax cabal.

    These groups do not want action.

    That’s partly true, actually – no deal is better than a crappy one (oh, by the way, the last I checked, there was an “ic” in the name of the political party I support, as noted here).

    Oh, and did you know that Gregg helped kill the long-term care component of the Affordable Care Act, according to Charles Pierce here (and in case you don’t make it all the way to the end of either of the first two linked articles, allow me to point out that, since leaving the Senate, Gregg has taken up a nice cushy gig as an “international advisor” to Goldman Sachs…more on the “vampire squid,” as Matt Taibbi calls it, from here).

    And by the way, I could find no citation of John Wayne ever speaking the line “stand and deliver,” though Lee Marvin used it in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” in which Wayne co-starred (Marvin spoke the line to James Stewart).

  • Also, I know that continuing to pick on the media wing of the Republican Party is a bit of cruel sport at a certain point, but they do bring it upon themselves after all; as noted here, Obama campaign donor and Google ex-CEO Eric Schmidt (described as “creepy”) is attacked for sheltering money in Bermuda to avoid U.S. taxes.

    Didn’t we just finish an election where the nominee of the party Fox supports did the same thing in the Cayman Islands, as noted here?

    Boy, does our corporate media think we’re stoo-pid!

  • Continuing, Mike Moritz opined as follows at the Murdoch Street Journal (here)…

    After a seaside area has been designated as wilderness, when is it considered pristine enough by Washington’s standards? Is it after airplanes have been banned from flying over it? After electricity pylons and telephone cables have been removed, cars and bikers prohibited, the roads torn up? When hikers are forbidden access to trails, and kayakers, sailors and snorkelers banished from the water? When eucalyptus trees and other foreign species are eradicated? Or only after Miwok Indians’ arrowheads have been excavated and placed in a museum?

    Apparently it is none of the above, at least according to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Instead, he seems to think that turning a tiny portion of the lovely coastline of California’s Marin County (part of the National Seashore) into the first marine wilderness in the continental United States also requires destroying a family-run oyster operation that has conducted business in the same spot for eight decades.

    So Mr. Salazar recently ordered the business to close within 90 days—a decision that will spell ruin for the Lunny family, owners of Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm, which supplies 40% of California’s oysters.

    The Lunny family, which has made major improvements to the farm operation it took over in 2004, has been hounded for years by a National Park Service with a vendetta so chilling that any rancher on federal lands should be alarmed. Goaded by a clutch of environmental groups, the Park Service has resorted to tactics that might have come straight from Nixon’s dirty-tricks department. For instance, the Park Service alleged that the farm’s oyster boats disturbed the quiet of the area, but the measurements used were revealed to have been taken in New Jersey—and involved jet skis.

    Who exactly is Mike Moritz? As noted here, he’s a well-heeled venture capitalist with Sequoia Capital in Menlo Park, California; he also is a prominent supporter of President Obama, as Wikipedia tells us (I have a suspicion that there’s more going on here, but that’s all I have for the moment).

    More on this is noted in this story (and it looks like the person handling the litigation here is Dan Epstein of the conservative front group “Cause of Action”).

    To me, though (and based on this), Kevin Lunny took a gamble in 2004 and lost (and I think the whole “noise” thing involving the NJ park rangers is much ado about zilch).

    The bottom line, IMHO according to the Daily Kos post, is as follows (from the comments)…

    (The Point Reyes National Seashore, where Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm is located) was PRESERVED (in 1962 by JFK, and designated a marine wilderness in 1976). That means it’s for the environment and recreation FIRST. Ranching was specified in the enabling language as a compatible use so long as it was consistent with the natural resource values. Mariculture was NOT.

    To me, there’s the potential for a rather dangerous precedent to be set here. If the decision to keep the oyster farm stands, then that means that federal laws and treaties affecting natural resources can be overturned by states in the name of preserving commerce.

    And if that happens, does anyone in this country seriously think the right-wing desecration of the environment will come to a halt over the fate of an oyster bed?

  • Next, I just want to add a little more about the decision of the illustrious governor of the commonwealth of PA, Tom Corbett, to let the feds run the health care exchange instead of the state (here)…

    “Health care reform is too important to be achieved through haphazard planning. Pennsylvania taxpayers and businesses deserve more. They deserve informed decision making and a strong plan that responsibly uses taxpayer dollars,” Corbett said in the press release. “Therefore, I have decided not to pursue a state-based health insurance exchange at this time. It would be irresponsible to put Pennsylvanians on the hook for an unknown amount of money to operate a system under rules that have not been fully written.”

    In response, here is some background on the exchanges, which apparently Corbett had no desire to actually read. It should also be noted that both Michael Leavitt, the HSS Secretary under Dubya (who had issues like everyone else in Bushco, but actually “found the nut” for a change here) said that the states should set up the exchanges (with Repug former Senate Majority Leader – and MD – Bill Frist saying the same thing here…see the Leavitt note). In addition, this tells us that, as employers drop Medicare, more seniors are turning to the exchanges for care.

    Oh, and did I note that Corbett committed PA to running its own exchange here (in November of last year…near the bottom of the article)?

    And when it comes to PA and demagoguery on the health care law, you just know that Mikey the Beloved, our mistake of a U.S. Congressional Rep from PA-08, had to have a say (here…and how funny is it to hear a Teahadist like Mikey complaining about President Obama and his “ideology”)…

    (Fitzpatrick) said the scheduled reduction of about 30 percent in Medicare reimbursement payments to health providers at year’s end and the federal debt limit almost certain to be reached this winter should be part of current fiscal cliff negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.

    “Singling out one piece of the puzzle without seeing how all the other pieces can fit together, while politically expedient for some, is reckless and just bad policymaking,” Fitzpatrick said.

    In response, allow me to provide the following from here

    Now it is true that the law envisions reductions in Medicare. And some of that money will help pay for the rest of the law. And there are problems in some places with doctors not being willing to accept Medicare patients. But those two things aren’t actually connected.

    And if THEY aren’t connected on health care, then you’d better believe that the debt limit isn’t either (care for some oranges with your apples and pomegranates, Mikey?). And we are talking about health care here, aren’t we, Mikey?

    Continuing with the NPR story…

    The problem with Medicare pay for doctors actually predates passage of the health law by more than a decade — it’s a preexisting condition, if you will, (Harold Pollack, a professor of public health policy at the University of Chicago) says. “And every year, Congress has to go through the song and dance with something called the doctor fix to prevent Medicare fees from a fairly catastrophic reduction. That has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. Health reform does not cut physician fees.”

    But wait, there’s more (here)…

    (Fitzpatrick), in a statement issued jointly by 11 Republican members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, said Corbett made the right call (on the exchanges).

    “The President’s health care law was passed nearly three years ago and yet the Department of Health and Human Services has yet to issue clear guidance to states…”

    Really, Mikey? Try reading this once more (same link as the one for Corbett).

    There are times when I honestly don’t know how this thoroughly unprincipled liar can bear to look at himself in the mirror.

  • Further, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction,” as James Wolcott called him, is baaaack to claim, among other things, that Number 44 is going to get rid of the home mortgage interest deduction (here)…

    Such Obama supporters may soon notice that the new federal and state tax rates, the envisioned end to traditional deductions such as those for blue-state high taxes and for mortgage interest, and means testing for most government services are aimed precisely at themselves.

    Meanwhile, Obama’s proposal to get rid of the home mortgage interest deduction “hit a wall of resistance,” as noted here, for earners under $250 K (and may that continue to be the case).

  • Finally (and returning to Fix Noise)…well, it just wouldn’t be the season without more hilarity from this bunch, would it (here)…

    The 2012 White House “Holiday” card spotlights the Obama’s family Portuguese water dog — instead of Christmas.

    The black and white illustration was designed by Iowa artist Larassa Kabel and shows Bo the dog, wearing a scarf, while frolicking in the snow on the South Lawn of a blurred White House.

    The inside of the card reads:”This season, may your home be filled with family, friends, and the joy of the holidays.” The card is signed by the entire First Family — along with Bo’s paw print.

    Vanity Fair deemed this year’s Obama ‘Holiday’ card his best-ever in a posting titled, “Bo Obama: the True Meaning of Christmas.”

    Returning to the world of reality, this tells us the following…

    …White House holiday cards have not included the word ‘Christmas’ during the terms of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It was not included in the final six years of former President Ronald Reagan’s term. This year’s card (December 2005) does not mark a departure from the practices of recent previous administrations.

    And while we’re on the subject of the alleged “war on Christmas” by The Roger Ailes BS Factory, let’s not forget that we have a case of “physician, heal thyself” as noted here.

    God bless us every one.


  • The Heart Of The Wingnut “Valance” Of Power?

    August 14, 2009

    close_libertyvalance(Giving health care reform a break for now…)

    While progressive activists are meeting at Netroots Nation in Pittsburgh at this moment (the duties of a job and family life do not permit such an endeavor for yours truly, but oh well), Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner has been moderating comments concerning the movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance by John Ford, in addition to trying to propagate wingnut talking points and narratives that I won’t dignify here (for the uninitiated, here is a pretty good synopsis of the film from Wikipedia).

    Lopez addresses women primarily in her post, but I have a thing or two to say also…

    In my continuing Claremont Institute–sponsored John Ford/John Wayne movie marathon here in Newport Beach, last night I watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. After The Searchers, this is the second Ford/Wayne movie I’ve ever seen (I grew up in Chelsea, Manhattan; cut me a break!). What terrified me about it — really, about us — is that Jay Marini, who watches it with groups frequently, explaining that young women increasingly like the Jimmy Stewart character, Ransom Stoddard, whereas women used to go for the Wayne character, Tom Doniphon.

    God help us.

    In a tribute to the Duke earlier this summer, Nicholas Tucker summed the movie up well:

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a story about the death of the American West. John Wayne does more than simply play the title character; he also serves as a clear symbol of the American spirit, and his heroic sacrifice in this film is John Ford’s meditation on the paradox of American individualism.

    Wayne plays Tom Doniphon, the only man tough enough to stand up to Liberty Valance, the local thug. It is the arrival of Ransom Stoddard, an idealistic lawyer, that forces Tom to shoot Liberty, and in the process he sacrifices his own happiness, his own way of life, and the woman he loves.

    The core of Wayne’s appeal is not his swagger or his charm, but his willingness to act and accept the consequences, even when it means the end of his own way of life. Although we see his character dead, largely forgotten, it is Stoddard’s wife who puts the cactus blossoms on his coffin, an unspoken confession of her own love for him. She speaks for us all. We may be married to the security and safety of Stoddard’s government, but John Ford reminds us that it is the cactus roses of Tom Doniphon that grow in the heart of every American.

    (Lopez again) Corner ladies, tell me all hope is not lost.

    I’m sure it will not surprise you in the least that I related more to the Stoddard character in the movie, who represents idealism and sacrifice (I believe) more than the Tom Doniphon character (though he undoubtedly does also – and I think it speaks volumes to wingnut insecurity generally that the fact that the sympathies of many women resting with the James Stewart character is a problem for Lopez; he is pictured above with Vera Miles).

    After all, it is the Stoddard character who is continually beaten up and abused by Liberty Valance (played by Lee Marvin, one of many iconic performances in the film), though he perseveres, even building a school house to teach the town’s children (and Hallie, played by Miles, who was Doniphon’s girlfriend until Stewart showed up). As it turns out, it is her pleading that ends up motivating Doniphon to defend Stoddard in the gun fight (Doniphon, of course, is the one who kills Valance, though Stoddard is alleged to be the hero, and that’s how the legend emerges).

    But as usual, in the “all or nothing” world view of most conservatives I’ve encountered in my life, it is Doniphon who is strong and Stoddard who is weak, and there is no gray area. Although, had Doniphon not interceded on Stoddard’s behalf and Stoddard had been killed by Valance, another “tenderfoot,” as Doniphon called Stoddard, surely would have come along and ultimately ended up winning over the town and advancing his political fortunes (with Doniphon acting a bit like Bogie in Casablanca by sacrificing for the girl he loves on behalf of a “greater good”…in real life, though, the politics of John Wayne and lefty Humphrey Bogart could not have been less alike).

    I just wanted to chime in here and say some words in defense of the Stewart/Stoddard character in the movie, as long as Lopez had apparently taken such an affront to the sympathies of her “sisters” now residing with the emoting eschewer of violence as opposed to the strong, sturdy “man of action” (though in real life, Stewart was a hero of World War II and Wayne did not see combat, a fact for which Wayne was apparently persecuted to no end by Ford).

    So that’s my movie critique for the day (and given Lopez’s attitude about Stewart in Valance, I can only imagine what she thought of him in Vertigo).


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