Thursday Mashup (9/25/14)

September 25, 2014
  • Might as well start with the defining issue of the moment – I give you the following from Irrational Spew Online (here)…

    Since he ordered military action in Libya in 2011, President Obama has argued as a matter of routine that Article II of the U.S. Constitution confers such considerable power upon the commander-in-chief that, in most instances at least, Congress’s role in foreign affairs is limited to that of advice bureau. The political ironies of this development are sufficiently rich to stand without much comment. (Imagine, if you will, trying to explain to an average voter in 2008 that by his second term the Democratic candidate for president would have adopted wholesale an interpretation of the Constitution that was championed by the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and John Yoo.) Less obvious, however, is what this means for America and her future. The bottom line: It’s not good.

    (I can just see the perfectly-coiffed Charles Cooke arguing with his oh-so-genteel British accent on “Real Time” about how that nasty Barack Obama has suddenly turned into “Torture” Yoo. Nice try, wingnut.)

    In response, I give you the following (here)…

    To judge the legality of war against ISIS, the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State, we need to be clear about two issues. The first is whether the president can put troops in harm’s way on his own authority. While the Constitution vests in Congress the power to “declare war,” presidents have launched military attacks on their own for many decades. Obama used military force in Libya in 2011; Bill Clinton, in Serbia in 1999; George H.W. Bush, in Panama in 1989; and Ronald Reagan, in Grenada in 1983. In all these cases, and many more (including the Korean War), Congress did not give its consent.

    The White House has not relied on Article II to justify the war on ISIS. This theory is too closely associated with the Bush administration, which used it to justify surveillance and torture that violated statutes. The Obama administration instead pointed to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which gives the president authority to act “against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” The administration has also cited the 2003 AUMF that authorized the president to go to war to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq,” then governed by Saddam Hussein.

    The White House’s defenders argue that the 2001 AUMF gives Obama the authority he needs to fight ISIS because, while ISIS broke from al-Qaida in 2012, it is nonetheless composed of former al-Qaida members (at least in part), who have (or so it is argued by the administration) continuously conducted and sought to conduct attacks against the United States and its citizens and interests.

    Is war with ISIS the right thing to do right now? I don’t have a clue. I’m just some filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, not the President of the United States (God forbid).

    And no, don’t start with this “Well, if this were Dubya, you’d be screaming your head off” business. As usual, Obama is left to clean up a mess which ultimately extends to Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, for good or ill. When Obama starts a war of choice for no good reason and leaves it to his successor to clean up, then talk to me, OK?

    Besides, Congress, in its infinite cowardice, passed the hopelessly-open-ended Authorization to Use Military Force and doesn’t have the spine to try and do anything about that, particularly in an election year. Giving a chief executive that much power without a fixed target or duration is a recipe for bad news – Obama has the precedent, so why shouldn’t he use it if he thinks he has to?

    I know all of this stuff is evolving, and I guess I am too, but this is where I’m at on this issue, for better or worse.

  • Continuing with the “crazy” – Repug U.S. Sen. John Cornyn propagandizes as follows here

    Despite all the challenges facing our country, my colleagues in the majority continue to prioritize political stunts and show votes over serious legislating. Indeed, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. has allowed so few amendments that one of his fellow Senate Democrats recently told Politico, “I got more substance on the floor of the House in the minority than I have as a member of the Senate majority.”

    Actually, if Cornyn wants to blame anyone for alleged negligence in governance, he should look no further than his same-state, same-party counterpart (here)…

    WASHINGTON – In case you weren’t glued to C-Span2 for the last hour, here’s what you missed.

    The Senate voted 67-31 to quash a filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz that would have blocked the Senate from lifting the federal debt ceiling. Cruz voted against cloture, naturally. But the top GOP leaders, fellow Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, sided with Democrats to cut off the filibuster.

    The measure raising the federal credit line through March 2015 sailed through the House on Tuesday, after Speaker John Boehner decided that it would be better to let Democrats own it (only 28 Republicans voted aye) than to dig in, insist on budget concessions, and force a stalemate that would spook world markets and risk a default.

    Cruz announced the same day that he wouldn’t let the Senate raise the debt ceiling via a simple 51-vote majority. The filibuster threat pushed the threshold to 60.

    As GOP strategist John Feehery pointed out, Democrats control 55 votes, so without Cruz’s maneuver, they would have been fully responsible, politically, for raising the debt ceiling. Instead, Cruz put GOP leadership on the spot.

    Cornyn and McConnell – both facing tea party challengers for reelection – took the heat, and voted for cloture.

    Apparently, no senator wanted to be tarred as the one to put the vote over the top, though. At the end, a number of Republicans switched their votes simultaneously, giving political cover to each other and their party leaders. Among the switchers: Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona and Orrin Hatch of Utah.

    The procedural vote was the key. The debt limit itself sailed through on a predictable party-line vote, 55-43.

    Everybody got that? Cornyn (who at the time was facing a Tea Party challenge from the otherwise laughable Steve Stockman) wanted to crow about how he’s supposedly holding the line on spending, but he and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao also wanted the political cover to make that claim while, in reality, they (in a shocking moment of sensibility) actually voted to raise the debt ceiling.

    And Cornyn blames Harry Reid for not being “serious about solving the problems at hand”…

    Here are more “lowlights” of what Cornyn and fellow Repugs have wrought in the U.S. Senate…

  • They blocked a minimum wage hike here.
  • They obstructed on jobless benefits here.
  • They also obstructed on veterans’ benefits here.
  • They also killed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s student loans bill (which would have actually reduced the deficit, bringing in $72 billion in new revenues by implementing the so-called Buffet Rule, an added surcharge tax on millionaires to ensure that they pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes, as noted here).
  • Cornyn, in his column, also said that “our colleagues in the House of Representatives have sent over scores and scores of bills on job creation, taxes, health care, immigration, and other issues, only to have Senator Reid declare them dead on arrival.”

    Um, no – on the issue of job creation, Steve Benen tells us here that…

    …of the remaining 40 “jobs bills” on the list, very few can credibly be described as actual jobs bills.

    For example, the first 14 bills on the list of 40 – more than a third of the overall list – are giveaways to the oil and gas industries. The bills expand drilling, expand fracking, expand pipelines, expand mining, expands coal-ash projects, and “protect” coal plants. How many jobs would this collection of energy bills actually create? The heralded list from the Speaker’s office didn’t say, but the total would likely be pretty modest.

    Boehner can prove me wrong by getting an independent score on the collection of bills, but I have a hunch if all of these bills were combined into one package, they still wouldn’t produce as many jobs as extended unemployment benefits. Besides, the point of these bills is to help polluters, ExxonMobil, and energy companies. We can debate such efforts on the merits, but to consider every giveaway to Big Oil a “jobs bill” is hard to take seriously.

    OK, but that’s 14 out of 40. What about the rest of the list? Several of the “jobs bills” attack the Affordable Care Act, and there’s simply no evidence that taking health care benefits away from millions of American families will create jobs.

    The list of “jobs bills” includes the Farm Bill. The list of “jobs bills” includes Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint. The list of “jobs bills” includes a pointless measure intended to stop President Obama from allowing state experimentation with welfare reform.

    The list of “jobs bills” includes a measure to increase federal spending “transparency.” The list of “jobs bills” includes a framework on cybersecurity.

    I hate to break this to Speaker Boehner, but a lot of these measures aren’t what any sensible person would call a proper “jobs bill.” They may or may not have merit on their own, and they may or may not require some modicum of new hiring, but legitimate legislative efforts to create lots of jobs – such as the American Jobs Act, unveiled in 2011 and killed by congressional Republicans soon after – aim higher.

    Indeed, independent analysts determined the American Jobs Act would have created over 1 million U.S. jobs in just one year. Can the same be said for Boehner’s misleading list of 40? Common sense suggests otherwise, though we can’t say for sure since the Speaker’s office hasn’t sought an independent analysis.

    And by the way, who can forget Cornyn’s singularly rancid defense of the wretched Patriot Act here?

  • Next, it’s time for the latest adventures with Louisiana Repug Gov. Bobby (“Don’t Call Me Piyush”) Jindal here

    Like many liberals, President Obama believes in making energy less affordable, and more scarce, for the American people. That’s why, even as crude oil production has skyrocketed on private lands—rising 61% in just the last four years—it has fallen on publicly-owned property in the same time span. The administration is deliberately squandering the opportunities that affordable energy can bring by refusing to develop all the energy resources owned by the American people.

    This column is meant to publicize Jindal’s 47-page proposal on energy with the understated title of “Organizing Around Abundance: Making America an Energy Superpower.”

    As Meteor Blades of Daily Kos notes here

    …Jindal’s plan is pretty much the standard right-wing blueprint: a minor manifesto filled with the same ideas that the string-pullers in the fossil-fuel industry have been promoting for decades: support for more drilling (including fracking) of oil and gas, more digging of coal, chopping of environmental regulations, opening up more federal land to drillers and diggers, building more nuclear power plants, finishing the Keystone XL pipeline and ending the ban on exporting crude oil.

    There’s also a complaint about the “activist” Supreme Court majority, which ruled 5-4 in 2007 that the Environmental Protection Agency is obligated to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

    The Jindal plan does offer some lip service to renewable energy. But mostly this section is just boilerplate about the rapid, no-longer-can-be-ignored growth of renewable installations. The rest of the section is an argument against the tax incentives designed to ramp up the generating of electricity from wind, solar, geothermal and hydro sources. Though hardly original, the governor proposes that the still toddling renewables industries compete on a “level playing field” with the mature fossil fuel industry. In other words, not level competition at all.

    Also, as noted here on the whole drilling on “publicly-owned property” thing, the feds have the right to own and drill on states’ lands, and any claim to revert back to the states wouldn’t stand up in court; besides, what we’re talking about basically here is more $$ for corporations vs. taxpayers, and 71 percent of those polled oppose it.

    Continuing (from Jindal)…

    If we develop our untapped energy resources, our nation could see a new burst of economic growth and prosperity. One study, noting the benefits of unconventional oil and gas exploration, found that this fracking revolution created 2.1 million jobs in 2012—and could create another 1.8 million jobs between now and 2025.

    In response (here)…

    A study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 21st Century Energy Institute says the extraction of “unconventional” shale oil and gas through horizontal hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – has meant a job boom even in states that don’t actually have shale deposits, with 1.7 million jobs already created and a total of 3.5 million projected by 2035.

    The study was released in two phases in October and December, and a third phase is forthcoming.
    Skeptics with environmental and citizens groups have questioned the numbers and also the benefits that these jobs actually provide to local communities. Many industry jobs are not filled by local residents, and a boom town effect, including escalating cost of living and other social problems, has been documented in places where an extraction industry rapidly arises.

    They also say the study doesn’t account for the economic impacts of possible environmental problems and copious water use, or impacts on other industries and quality of life.

    “We’re definitely seeing some local jobs – anyone with a CDL and a dump truck can get work hauling gravel or pipes or produced water,” said Paul Feezel, a resident of Carroll County, Ohio, the epicenter of the state’s fracking boom.

    “There’s definitely more money floating around in the community, people buying new cars and agricultural equipment,” he said. “I’m told churches are seeing higher donations because people are tithing part of their signing bonus. But when you see the rigs and even the welders on the pipeline jobs, the license plates are all out-of-state.”

    (More on fracking is coming up a bit later, by the way, including one increased “cost of living” measurement.)

    Jindal yet again (here)…

    Most importantly, our plan to promote energy abundance stands in direct contrast to the Obama administration’s tired policies of energy scarcity and sluggish growth.

    In response, I think the headline here says it all, and it isn’t necessarily something I support…even though parts of Florida are gorgeous, I think they would deserve any of the environmental ruin this might cause (that’s what you get when you either vote for Republicans or don’t even bother to vote, period).

  • Further, did you know that (here)…

    Over 90 percent of funding for a diesel reduction program paid for by the stimulus law was misspent, according to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

    An audit analyzing $26.3 million in funding to non-profit organizations and state governments meant to reduce truck emissions and create jobs found that the program had “significant financial management issues.”

    OMIGOD, it looks like that Kenyan Marxist Socialist in the White House is at it again!

    There’s just one problem, as noted here

    Only six projects out of the 160 so-called “Diesel Emission Reduction Act” stimulus projects awarded by the EPA were reviewed by the inspector general. The entire grant program cost taxpayers about $294 million, but the IG only looked at a $26 million share of it.

    You know, it’s pretty sad for Fix Noise that they need to be fact-checked by the formerly Moonie Times, but I guess that’s where we are all right.

    Why does this matter? Well, in part because of the following from March 2009 (here)…

    EPA March 20 announced the availability of $20 million under the stimulus law for its Clean Diesel Emerging Technologies Program, $156 million for the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program, and $30 million for the agency’s SmartWay Clean Diesel Finance Program. Guidance documents for the programs now encourage applicants to quantitatively project annual GHG reductions in funding requests, along with traditional measures including cuts in nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and fine particulate matter. In a press release, EPA said grantees will use the funding to implement projects that will cut thousands of tons of diesel emissions and “reduce premature deaths, asthma attacks and other respiratory ailments, lost work days, and many other health impacts every year.”

    More on the awards for the $20 million Clean Diesel refinance program can be found from here.

    Oh, and remember that Cornyn guy I mentioned earlier? Well, as it turns out, both he and former Repug Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison wrote two letters “asking for consideration of grants for clean diesel projects in San Antonio and Houston,” that came from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, even though each voted against the so-called “stimulus” twice (both the ARRA and the “stimulus” are the same thing, it should be pointed out), as noted here.

    Also, this tells us that about $1 million in stimulus funds were allocated for clean diesel projects in Ohio, this tells us that about $1.7 was allocated for clean diesel projects in South Dakota, this tells us about stimulus funds used for clean diesel projects in Connecticut, and this tells us about clean diesel projects underway in Michigan.

    So it looks like the administration of Number 44 is helping the states to make inroads on the issue of toxic emissions from vehicles contributing to the pollution affecting our climate. Too bad that Obama can’t do anything about pundit pollution too.

  • Continuing, it looks like someone named Casey Given at The Daily Tucker says that liberals are, in fact, anti-science after all because we oppose fracking for natural gas (here)…

    A study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is casting serious doubt on one of the environmental movement’s favorite talking points — namely, that fracking contaminates drinking water. The report, conducted by five professors from renowned universities such as Duke, Dartmouth, and Stanford, concluded that a number of water contaminations near fracking sites were most likely caused by well leaks — not fracking itself.

    Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for short, is a well stimulation technique that has been standard practice in the energy industry for over sixty years. The way it works is drillers pump a mixture of mostly water onto rocks deep below the earth’s surface to release trapped oil and gas.

    To begin, if fracking is supposed to be so damn wonderful, how come former VP “Deadeye Dick” Cheney obtained an exemption for the practice from the Safe Water Drinking Act in 2005, as noted here – more here?

    But not to worry… Given says that, because it has been supposedly proven that well casings are the culprit for groundwater contamination, can we stop picking on fracking? In response, I believe the well casings have to be leaking something other than, say, air or untreated water, or else none of this would matter (sounds to me that, by that logic, if you’re still bleeding from a gunshot wound but you’re bandaged, it’s the bandage’s fault that you’re still bleeding instead of the bullet’s fault, if you will).

    I’ll tell you what, though; I’ll humor Given and grant him his point about fracking. Well then, what does he say about the study noted here, in which scientists tells us that injecting fracking wastewater underground is causing earthquakes?

    Given also tells us that the fracking is great because it means that, in North Dakota (for example), the minimum wage is about $15 an hour. What good does that do when the rent on a one-bedroom apartment goes for about $1K a month (here)?

  • Finally (and in what is becoming a regular feature here I guess), I give you the following from Kevin Williamson (here, on the subject of rape on college campuses)…

    The subject is a maddening one. President Obama repeated the endlessly reiterated but thoroughly debunked claim that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in her college years. The actual rate is sort of an interesting problem, the information being so inconsistent and contradictory that one almost suspects that it is so by design.

    Much of the scholarly literature estimates that the actual rate is more like a tenth of that one-in-five rate, 2.16 percent, or 21.6 per 1,000 to use the conventional formulation. But that number is problematic, too, as are most of the numbers related to sexual assault, as the National Institute of Justice, the DoJ’s research arm, documents. For example, two surveys conducted practically in tandem produced victimization rates of 0.16 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively – i.e., the latter estimate was eleven times the former. The NIJ blames defective wording on survey questions.

    As noted here, “the NIJ is notable among U.S. governmental research organizations because it is headed by a political appointee of the President rather than by a scientist or a member of the civil service.” To me, it’s more than a little off to rely on an NIJ study into this subject because I think it demands a scientific analysis.

    Fortunately, a scientific analysis was conducted into this subject by the CDC. And that is where the “one in five” number came from, as noted here (more is here).

    We also learn the following from the CDC link…

    Rape, and other forms of sexual violence, is preventable. Recognizing this, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. This landmark legislation established the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program at CDC. The goal of the RPE program is to strengthen sexual violence prevention efforts at the local, state, and national level. It operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and six U.S. territories.

    And concerning the VAWA, I think the following should be noted from here

    …with Ray Rice in the news and the anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) upon us, it’s worth taking a minute to think about the connection between our everyday lives and what Congress can, and should, do to improve them.

    VAWA protects women from domestic violence. Period. It gives prosecutors stronger tools to crack down on domestic abuse and expands victims’ services for women. Since it became law two decades ago, VAWA has impacted the lives of millions of women and children around the country. It has protected women from abuse, provided support for women and children to escape violent situations, and improved the ability of law enforcement to handle this complicated issue. It has made a real difference.

    Which is why it mattered that House Republicans blocked VAWA reauthorization for 500 days. It mattered that House Republicans refused to strengthen the law and voted down an additional $4 million that would have bolstered prevention and prosecution programs.

    And it matters that Republican candidates like Representative Steve Southerland (FL-02) are now claiming to support VAWA in their re-election campaigns even though they voted against it in Congress.

    It matters to the women who need these protections. It matters to the women who call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help, which saw an 84 percent increase in calls after the Ray Rice incident hit the news (and which is, by the way, funded partially by VAWA).

    Of course, now that he’s running for re-election, Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao (here) is distancing himself from VAWA opposition any way possible (one way to respond is to click here).

    To me, both the CDC study and the issue of renewal of the VAWA is part of a larger mosaic, if you will, having to do with enlightened gender relations and mutual respect (I haven’t had a lot to say on this, aside from pointing out the absurdity of Janay Rice being more mad at the media on this than she is at her husband, and I’m not trying to criticize her by saying that, because I don’t think I have much of a right to pontificate). If we did a better job of accomplishing those two objectives, then there would be no need to quantify and study all the many ways that we fall short.

    And as noted from here, we still have a long way to go.

    Update 9/26/14: Well, it looks like the proverbial stopped clock was right one of two times here (h/t Atrios).

    Update 9/30/14: Update 9/30/14: Why do I have a feeling that Williamson is going to go the way of Robert Weissberg and John Derbyshire based on garbage like this?

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    Wednesday Mashup (7/24/13)

    July 24, 2013
  • Time to “bring the crazy” once more (here)

    Attorney General Eric Holder – the first and only sitting Cabinet member in 225 years to be cited for contempt of Congress – has politicized the United States Department of Justice to the breaking point.

    Shortly after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman innocent of murder on Saturday night, Holder announced that DOJ would conduct a criminal civil rights investigation.

    The FBI had previously conducted a lengthy investigation that found no evidence that Trayvon Martin’s death stemmed from racial motives.

    Disregarding the Florida jury and the FBI, Holder is prolonging a deeply unjust and unwarranted investigation in response to demands from Rev. Al Sharpton and his ilk.

    Holder has no legal grounds on which to stand. The federal government’s limited constitutional powers do not extend to commonplace murders, whose prosecution is the job of the states.

    The authors of this piece of dookey from Fix Noise are former Bushies John C. “Torture” Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, and Robert J. Delahunty, former special counsel to our prior ruling cabal.

    To me, this is particularly amusing (in a dark kind of way, I’ll admit) given the fact that, as noted here, Yoo and Delahunty once collaborated on “secret legal opinions” that “included assertions that the president could use the nation’s military within the United States to combat terrorism suspects and to conduct raids without obtaining search warrants.”

    And they say that Eric Holder has “politicized the United States Department of Justice to the breaking point.”

    Pot, meet kettle.

    Besides, as noted here from Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page, Holder is blamed for not doing enough on the Trayvon Martin murder (with the claim that the tip line on George Zimmerman is pretty much lip service from the Obama Administration on this issue).

    Geez, wingnuts, will you please get your propaganda straight?

  • Next, I don’t really have a lot to add, but I wanted to highlight the following from U.S. House Rep (and Senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee) George Miller of California here (telling us that “fourteen members of Congress voted to keep millions of dollars of their own federal farm subsidies but not to extend nutrition aid for low-income working families”)…

    …14 Republican members of Congress, who each voted for a Farm Bill that excluded a nutrition title for the first time in four decades, have received more than $7.2 million in government farm subsidies, or an average of $515,279 in handouts. At the same time, they have a combined net worth of as much as $124.5 million, according to public records.

    In stark contrast, the typical household receiving aid under the farm bill through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has a gross monthly income of only $744, and their average monthly SNAP benefit—which every member detailed in this report voted against extending— is just $281.

    And the fourteen are (drum roll, please)…

    Robert Aderholt (AL-04)

    Blake Farenthold (TX-27)

    Stephen Fincher (TN-08)

    Vicky Hartzler (MO-04)

    John Kline (MN-02)

    Doug LaMalfa (CA-01)

    Tom Latham (IO-03)

    Frank Lucas (OK-03)

    Cynthia Lummis (WY-AL)

    Randy Neugebauer (TX-18)

    Kristi Noem (SD-AL)

    Marlin Stutzman (IN-03)

    Mac Thornberry (TX-13)

    David Valadao (CA-21)

    I’ll keep an eye on these characters, probably most of whom are Teahadists; hopefully, as worthy Dems come forward to challenge them, I’ll be able to update this post accordingly.

  • Continuing, it looks like, when it comes to the whole “liberals are as bad as conservatives, and to prove it, here is more false equivalence” beat, Politico is on it, all right (here)…

    For the first time in Colorado history, two state lawmakers will face recall elections for their support of tougher gun control measures.

    Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on Thursday setting the date for the recall elections of the pair of Democratic state senators.

    Under pressure of a campaign by the NRA, Senate State President John Morse and Pueblo Sen. Angela Giron will face the first recall effort in Colorado history.

    Oh noes! Could it be that Dems are facing electoral trouble for supporting common-sense gun legislation?

    Uh, no (well, not to this point anyway) – as noted here from about a week ago…

    Today, Mother Jones is reporting on the status of recall campaigns backed by the NRA after Colorado Democrats dared to pass stronger gun laws in their state.

    This sort of fight is to be expected, if laws to curb gun violence are passed anywhere — after all, the NRA and its gunmaker masters profit from gun violence coming and going. They need gun violence to encourage sales, both from the violent and those afraid enough to get their own guns.

    And while I don’t mean to make light of the recall campaigns in Colorado, it’s good to see that they haven’t worked out very well so far.

    There’s more from the Mother Jones story linked to the Daily Kos post, including the precious little item about Jaxine Bubis, running against state senate president John Morse, and her foray into erotic fiction (let me guess – “The elongated barrel shimmered and glistened, sleek, cool and confident. He revealed it to me for only an instant before he shoved it into the holster fastened against his hip, tied to the inside of his muscular thigh. He kept the firing pin at the ready, cocked, if you will.”).

    OK, I’ll stop.

    And oh yeah, did you know that Colorado apparently wants to secede from itself? As noted here

    “The people of rural Colorado are mad, and they have every right to be,” U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, Colo., told Denver’s 9 News last month. “The governor and his Democrat colleagues in the statehouse have assaulted our way of life, and I don’t blame people one bit for feeling attacked and unrepresented by the leaders in our state.”

    Bless Gardner’s pointed little Repug head – surprised that he somehow didn’t make the list of 14 above. But not to worry

    This sounds like it’s going in the same direction as the Repug efforts to recall Democrats in Wisconsin who stood up to Gov. Hosni Mubarak Walker, as noted here (and let us do what we can to ensure the same result in both states by clicking here – the recall election in Colorado against Morse and Giron is scheduled for September 10th).

    Update 7/29/13: Fine – go ahead and shoot each other, wingnuts, but leave everybody else alone, OK (here).

  • Further, in case anyone out there was wondering what former Repug U.S. House Rep (and one-time presidential candidate – no, really) Thad McCotter was up to…well, wonder no more.

    Here, he opines on the sad story of The Motor City, which, as we know, recently declared bankruptcy. However, if you’re looking for a way forward from “Mad Thad,” keep looking (instead, he offers what one would consider the typical bromides, such as the following)…

    Only when this realization – this practical optimism – is matched to Detroit’s titanic resilience will the redemption commence. If bankruptcy is viewed as a challenge rather than an epitaph, an abandoned property will become an opportunity, a humble hope will become a bustling shop, a neighborhood will become a community, a community will become a family, and a redeemed Detroit will become a reality.

    Oh, and I also give you this…

    As our city has gone from “The Arsenal of Democracy” to the “Motor City” to the “The D” to “The Done,” Detroit’s outlook has become one of pessimistic resilience; she expects the worst and works to survive it. Integral to this ability to survive is the capacity to detach herself from the worst as it occurs. To wit, Detroit’s gut reaction to the “news” the city is bankrupt was? “No shit.”

    Such language from a supposedly up-standing Catholic like Thad; what a bold and brazen article!

    Oh, and let’s not forget this too…

    Finally, admittedly: as a longstanding object of national derision, Detroit knows that in some quarters her bankruptcy has been met with gloating. Fine, but know this: if she does not rise from these ashes, Detroit will become an ominous milestone of American decline, from which no quarter will be spared.

    The notion that Detroit’s fall will necessarily trigger a wave of big-city bankruptcies in this country was debunked here by Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (Professor Krugman had a word or two to say about that here). Yes, there is much to do when it comes to investing in this country (jobs, infrastructure, etc.), but while the checklist is pretty long, that doesn’t mean that we have cause for a panic.

    Turning to someone like McCotter on these matters is a stretch anyway, though; I realize that, being a Michigan resident, he’s a candidate for a column like this, but he’s no stranger to wingnut demagoguery – as noted here, he once provided a lesson in “how to speak Democrat,” let’s not forget (charming).

    Duncan_Donuts2
    And by the way, speaking of The Daily Tucker (where McCotter’s piece originated), it looks like, based on the above pic, it is still in need of a copy editor.

  • Finally, it’s time to turn to matters in PA-08, where we in these parts are of course represented by Repug “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick; this recent Guest Opinion from his PR factory tells us the following…

    As our nation’s economy begins to recover, it is imperative that the United States bring manufacturing jobs back to America. This goal has been at the top of my agenda, And so I was pleased to read the series published in the Courier Times and Intelligencer: “Made in the USA.”

    The series highlighted local, small businesses and the importance of domestic manufacturing and its impact on manufacturers’ bottom line, their employees, customers, and communities.

    And from that point, Mikey launches into an entire self-congratulatory narrative about his supposedly tireless focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs,” including this…

    According to my revitalization plan, “Made in America,” stands for quality, value, and ingenuity — all important to industry, and ones clearly conveyed through the newspaper’s “Made in the USA” series. Without a doubt, the role of government is important. To bring manufacturing back to America, we must promote a variety of federal and national initiatives: lowering taxes and promoting certainty to encourage businesses to remain in the United States, reining in overreaching ineffective and onerous federal regulation to help businesses grow, engaging in “Buy American” and other pro-growth initiatives, and encouraging workforce development.

    Umm, I don’t really see bringing down unemployment anywhere in that list (which is, of course, nothing but RNC boilerplate anyway). Do you?

    And get a load of this…

    In Congress I’ve supported countless bills that empower small businesses and manufacturers, some of which resulted from my meetings with business owners, manufacturers and workers in Bucks and Montgomery counties.

    And I’m sure some of those supposedly countless bills to invigorate the economy were noted here.

    Here are a couple of questions; if Fitzpatrick supposedly cares so much about the economy, then why didn’t he encourage his Repug “leadership” of “Man Tan” Boehner and that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor to schedule votes on two bills that could make a difference – the Workforce Investment Act sponsored by Dem John Tierney of Massachusetts (here) and the Innovative Technologies Assessment Act sponsored by Chris Van Hollen of Maryland (here)? Or, better yet, why didn’t he sign on as a co-sponsor to one or both of the bills (Dem senior House Rep Steny Hoyer also had some good ideas – some of which dovetail with Mikey’s a bit – here…of course, Hoyer had his at least three months prior to Mikey’s).

    More typical for the party in charge of the House, though, are stories like this one, where congressional Dems walked out on an Education and Workforce Committee hearing run by chairman John Kline of Minnesota; Kline was trying to consolidate 35 job-training bills apparently without much Dem input and designating them for funding to the states as block grants (and indiscriminately cutting funding for the bills in the process). To me, this is asking for trouble (Kline’s actions, I mean).

    Indeed, when actual economists (as opposed to Beltway talking heads) are asked about the impact of the Repugs’ supposed “jobs, jobs, jobs” agenda, we find out that it won’t, in fact, create actual, like, y’know…jobs, as noted here (and more on Mikey when it comes to this subject can be read from here).

    Something tells me, however, that Mikey and his PR factory at the Courier Times are getting a little skittish about next year’s election. I’m not sure what else could explain the paper’s “hit piece” of an Op-Ed that it printed yesterday on Kevin Strouse, who could be considered the front-runner at this point in the Democratic primary for the right to face Mikey in the general election (the supposedly august Courier Times Op-Ed board said that they don’t have confidence in Strouse, even though they apparently have spent no time whatsoever yet actually talking to him).

    The editorial did follow the standard anti-Dem formula, though…

    Reference to Nancy Pelosi? Check.
    Sneaky inference that that’s where he gets all of his campaign dough? Check.
    Note that he’s not a “longtime resident” of Bucks County? Check.
    Statement that he’s a product of “pure party politics” (as if Fitzpatrick isn’t)? Check.

    This is all the more reason to support Strouse, as far as I’m concerned (or Shaughnessy Naughton – either Dem would be better than two more years of Mikey the Beloved).

    To help Kevin Strouse, click here.


  • A Double-Barreled Dubya Disgrace

    September 14, 2009

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    Via HuffPo, this article from The Atlantic last Friday tells us the following…

    (Last) Thursday’s annual Census Bureau report on income, poverty and access to health care-the Bureau’s principal report card on the well-being of average Americans-closes the books on the economic record of George W. Bush.

    It’s not a record many Republicans are likely to point to with pride.

    On every major measurement, the Census Bureau report shows that the country lost ground during Bush’s two terms. While Bush was in office, the median household income declined, poverty increased, childhood poverty increased even more, and the number of Americans without health insurance spiked. By contrast, the country’s condition improved on each of those measures during Bill Clinton’s two terms, often substantially.

    Bush’s record on poverty is equally bleak. When Clinton left office in 2000, the Census counted almost 31.6 million Americans living in poverty. When Bush left office in 2008, the number of poor Americans had jumped to 39.8 million (the largest number in absolute terms since 1960.) Under Bush, the number of people in poverty increased by over 8.2 million, or 26.1 per cent. Over two-thirds of that increase occurred before the economic collapse of 2008.

    The trends were comparably daunting for children in poverty. When Clinton left office nearly 11.6 million children lived in poverty, according to the Census. When Bush left office that number had swelled to just under 14.1 million, an increase of more than 21 per cent.

    The story is similar again for access to health care. When Clinton left office, the number of uninsured Americans stood at 38.4 million. By the time Bush left office that number had grown to just over 46.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million or 20.6 per cent.

    The trends look the same when examining shares of the population that are poor or uninsured, rather than the absolute numbers in those groups. When Clinton left office in 2000 13.7 per cent of Americans were uninsured; when Bush left that number stood at 15.4 per cent. (Under Bush, the share of Americans who received health insurance through their employer declined every year of his presidency-from 64.2 per cent in 2000 to 58.5 per cent in 2008.)

    When Clinton left the number of Americans in poverty stood at 11.3 per cent; when Bush left that had increased to 13.2 per cent. The poverty rate for children jumped from 16.2 per cent when Clinton left office to 19 per cent when Bush stepped down.

    So the summary page on the economic experience of average Americans under the past two presidents would look like this:

    Under Clinton, the median income increased 14 per cent. Under Bush it declined 4.2 per cent.

    Under Clinton the total number of Americans in poverty declined 16.9 per cent; under Bush it increased 26.1 per cent.

    Under Clinton the number of children in poverty declined 24.2 per cent; under Bush it increased by 21.4 per cent.

    Under Clinton, the number of Americans without health insurance, remained essentially even (down six-tenths of one per cent); under Bush it increased by 20.6 per cent.

    The article also provides comparative information on the presidencies of Poppy Bush and The Sainted Ronnie R, though I would argue that that doesn’t help Dubya at all (I have to admit that I was surprised to learn that real income grew under Reagan, though so did both childhood and adult poverty).

    Also, the New York Times published an extensive feature article yesterday on water pollution focusing on Charleston, West Virginia, though a series of articles will follow this one focusing on other states…

    Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va.

    In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.

    Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.

    “How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?” said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state’s largest banks.

    She and her husband, Charles, do not live in some remote corner of Appalachia. Charleston, the state capital, is less than 17 miles from her home.

    “How is this still happening today?” she asked.

    An excellent question – basically, what we learn from the article is that we’d made a lot of progress in water cleanup efforts until about the last ten years or so, when everything started to slide backwards (we also learn about how politicians have taken their marching orders from the polluters to fire inspectors for trying to do their jobs; the story tells us about a man named Matthew Crum who suffered this fate – as far as I’m concerned, Crum is a great American).

    And a big reason why we’ve fallen down on water safety is as follows (you knew what was coming, didn’t you?)…

    Enforcement lapses were particularly bad under the administration of President George W. Bush, (E.P.A.) employees say. “For the last eight years, my hands have been tied,” said one E.P.A. official who requested anonymity for fear of retribution. “We were told to take our clean water and clean air cases, put them in a box, and lock it shut. Everyone knew polluters were getting away with murder. But these polluters are some of the biggest campaign contributors in town, so no one really cared if they were dumping poisons into streams.”

    The E.P.A. administrators during the last eight years — Christine Todd Whitman, Michael O. Leavitt and Stephen L. Johnson — all declined to comment.

    Of course – however, the following should also be noted…

    In statements, E.P.A. officials noted that from 2006 to 2008, the agency conducted 11,000 Clean Water Act and 21,000 Safe Drinking Water Act inspections, and referred 146 cases to the Department of Justice. During the 2007 to 2008 period, officials wrote, 92 percent of the population served by community water systems received water that had no reported health-based violations.

    The Clean Water Act, (lawmakers and environmentalists say), should be expanded to police other types of pollution — like farm and livestock runoff — that are largely unregulated. And they say Congress should give state agencies more resources, in the same way that federal dollars helped overhaul the nation’s sewage systems in the 1970s.

    Some say changes will not occur without public outrage.

    “When we started regulating water pollution in the 1970s, there was a huge public outcry because you could see raw sewage flowing into the rivers,” said William D. Ruckelshaus, who served as the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Richard M. Nixon, and then again under President Ronald Reagan.

    “Today the violations are much more subtle — pesticides and chemicals you can’t see or smell that are even more dangerous,” he added. “And so a lot of the public pressure on regulatory agencies has ebbed away.”

    And as noted here, The Supreme Court of Hangin’ Judge JR has played a particularly nefarious role in all this, especially in the ruling linked to above which overturned a Court of Appeals verdict and allowed 4.5 million tons of lethal mining waste to be dumped into Alaska’s Lower Slate Lake, with the full knowledge that doing so would exterminate all life in the lake (somehow, though, The Supremes, by a 6-3 ruling… Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens dissented…determined that doing this was “less environmentally damaging than other options” – yep, you read that correctly).

    Fortunately, the Clean Water Restoration Act was introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold here; no vote has been scheduled yet, but one should be with all speed (so many Bushco screwups to fix, so little time, I know).

    Finally, in a Bushco-related matter, The Philadelphia Inquirer decided to give column space to Torture Yoo again today (the appropriate takedown from Will Bunch via Atrios is here).

    Bunch takes on the main issue of Yoo’s past culpability head-on, of course (with Yoo weighing in against the upcoming Holder investigation of course – pathetic that the Inky doesn’t realize that they’re allowing Yoo to, in essence, try to obstruct justice), though Yoo pointed out something of lesser significance in his column that I still want to address anyway…

    Henry L. Stimson, secretary of state under President Herbert Hoover, once explained the shuttering of the United States’ only code-breaking unit with these words: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” Unfortunately, we do not live in a world of gentlemen. Stimson realized this in his next cabinet post, as FDR’s secretary of war on the day of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

    In response, I give you the following from this interesting article about U.S. code breakers during World War II…

    Fifty years ago–and more than a year before Pearl Harbor–Americans scored one of their most brilliant victories of World War II.

    The commander was a Russian immigrant and sometime geneticist named William Frederick Friedman. The nature of the battle might be suggested by Friedman’s intense interest once in the 50,000-word novel “Gadsby,” which Ernest Vincent Wrigh wrote without using the letter “e.” Friedman’s troops were a motley assemblage of academics, math wizards and puzzle freaks. With a left-handed assist from William Shakespeare.

    Together, after 18 baffling months of dead-end days and floor-walking nights that temporarily collapsed Friedman into a mental ward, they broke the Japanese diplomatic code.

    Their collective genius did not foil, of course, the sneak Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States actively into the war. Crossed and sometimes disconnected wires in American intelligence enabled that. But code breaking by Friedman, et al., laid the groundwork for the pivotal victory of the U.S. fleet at Midway in June, 1942. Indeed, code breaking was an essential ingredient of the Allies’ ultimate triumph.

    Yes, the quote from Stimson is accurate, though how Yoo could claim to know what Stimson “realized” 78 years ago is laughable (and assuming some fault lies with Stimson for Pearl Harbor – which, to me, is debatable at best – I cannot think of a word for the egomania of someone criticizing past history who belonged to a regime that had its own problems with “crossed and sometimes disconnected wires in American intelligence,” to the point where the result of that circumstance was observed just about eight years ago today).

    Update 9/15/09: Yep, this egotistical jackass would know all about “five-spiral crashes,” wouldn’t he?

    Update 9/23/09: Of course…


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