Friday Mashup (10/17/14)

October 17, 2014

mark-bio

  • By the time you read this, the sickening little demonstration noted here will be over (due to take place around midday today) – more follows…

    The video opens with the black-and-white footage of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s stirring clarion call for equal rights at the 1963 March on Washington.

    It quickly goes full color, and cuts to gruesome close-ups of the bloody remnants of abortions. It is fair to say that what is shown is disturbing.

    On Friday, the images will be displayed on a 10- by 12-foot screen set high on Independence Mall, the heart of Philadelphia’s tourism zone, as the antiabortion group Created Equal brings its high-tech assault on the practice to Philadelphia.

    The video, on a continuous loop, will be played from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to Mark Harrington, Created Equal’s national director.

    “It seems fitting to me that we are launching this campaign in the very place where our nation’s founders penned those words, created equal,” Harrington said. “We are still battling for equal rights. In this case, it is the pre-born who are being discriminated against.”

    I know there are individuals out there who profess to be “pro-life” and who indeed “walk the walk” as opposed to just “talking the talk,” and who have adopted babies, taken in single mothers in desperate situations, staged prayer vigils away from clinics and not interfered with the medically-related activity taking place (and of course not shouted epithets at anyone, thrown blood, tried to wreck cars, or any of that other stupidity, to say nothing of not writing ridiculous garbage in newspapers or calling into talk radio demonizing mothers seeking medical help). To me, those people deserve respect.

    However, most of these individuals in my experience (such as it is) are cut from the same disgusting cloth as Mark Harrington (pictured). And I think it’s particularly vile for Harrington and his ilk to even imagine that his escapades have anything whatsoever to do with the struggle for civil rights in this country.

    There is no good reason whatsoever for Harrington to engage in an activity like this (showing fetuses in the most grotesque situations imaginable, and probably some situations we can’t imagine), trying to force these images down the metaphorical throats of anyone visiting Independence Mall (including very young children, I’m sure), once of the more scenic places in the city (and the weather is nice today, so it should be busy), other than self-promotion.

    And yes, I have a particular axe to grind here because I can still vividly remember the seemingly never-ending pictures of fetuses in jars in the Catholic Standard and Times newspaper after the Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade in 1973, a time when I was still quite young and impressionable. As I’ve said, the images had an impact, but probably not the one the Church intended.

    Harrington has pulled this stunt before, by the way, including Turlington Plaza at the University of Florida (generating this response, including the following)…

    This has nothing to do with being pro-choice, pro-life or pro-anything. Regardless of anyone’s beliefs about abortion — and we all have an opinion there — does anyone feel it is acceptable to make students with abortion experiences feel uncomfortable on their own campus? No matter what the message, presentation is everything. In my opinion, a less-hostile open dialogue would be a more productive model of outreach. There must be another viable medium that doesn’t feel like an ambush. If I were considering abortion, or simply on the fence about my beliefs, these seemingly extremist people are not the ones I would consult.

    Created Equal executive director Mark Harrington says his platform targets “the mushy middle,” people who have no strong stance at either end of the abortion debate spectrum.

    I don’t believe such an audience exists on a university campus. If you do exist, on-the-fence folks, here’s my message to you: engage in civil, fact-based conversations with multiple people from both sides of the issue. Sharing beliefs and creating an open dialogue about social issues is a fundamental aspect of university life. One beauty of our campus is that it fosters constant exposure to new belief systems. No one here is naïve enough to want protection from opposing views. I imagine we all value them greatly. But this sideshow? It’s all a sensational stunt, an exhibition of the outlandish that serves only to needle young women into feeling guilty.

    To the members of Created Equal, thank you for voicing your beliefs and exercising your right to free speech. However, is it too much to ask that women with abortion history or those considering it presently have a peaceful walk across their campus without being confronted by grisly photos of fetuses on coins? Is there not enough humanity in your movement to recognize the benefits of a different approach? Judging from the pamphlets that were available at the exhibit, I know you have other media at your disposal.

    Regardless of my abortion views — which have probably become apparent anyway — it’s important to note these images are not from the typical procedure. Traveling pro-life groups are notorious for using photos of late-term abortions carried out for emergency reasons. Those interested should visit http://www.thisismyabortion.com/ for a glimpse of reality.

    Uh, yep.

  • Next, I don’t want to spend too much time on the waste of protoplasm that is Erick (“Son of Erick”) Erickson, but he concocted the following nonsense here (in a column trying to equate ISIS with the cases of Ebola in this country)…

    The Syrian rebels were too rag-tag and weak to take on ISIS, according to President Obama. But within a week of saying that, he announced to the world that his plan in Syria was to arm those rag-tag rebels and have them do our bidding against ISIS.

    Um…regardless of what you may think of the strategy of arming Syrian rebels against ISIS (not a good option as far as I’m concerned, but preferable to U.S. “boots on the ground”), doesn’t what Erickson describe above seem like a logical course of events? Where is the “there” there?

    It gets better…

    The president also told the American public that Ebola would never come to the United States.

    Not according to factcheck.org, which tells us the following (here)…

    Sen. John McCain claimed on a Sunday talk show that “we were told there would never be a case of Ebola in the United States.” Not exactly. U.S. health officials, early in the outbreak, said it was highly unlikely, but we could not find any instances of them saying it would never happen.

    This item from Fix Noise shill Jeanine Pirro doesn’t have anything to do with the Erickson column, but it does have something to do with ISIS, so allow me to add it here; namely, Pirro’s claim that Obama released Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, supposed head of this bunch of murderers, in 2009, which is categorically false. And as for Ebola, I guess what you would call of “clearing house” of debunked Ebola-related BS is here. And in conclusion on ISIS, I think this is definitely food for thought also.

  • Further (and sticking with Number 44), it looks like “liberal” Richard Cohen is at it again (here)…

    Tell me something: What do you think would happen if the United States concludes that Iran has been cheating and delaying and is about to pop a fully functional nuclear weapons program? Would President Obama respond by joining Israel to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities to smithereens, or would he stall and equivocate? My bet is the latter and also, just to double down, what I bet the Iranians are betting. They have taken the measure of Obama. He lacks menace.

    Menace is essential in a world leader if he (or she) is going to be feared as well as admired. Obama falls into the admired category — the leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize with mere good intentions, a guy who had a new attitude toward Russia (a reset) and Iran (an approach) and China (a pivot) and, of course, to the Muslim world — an appreciation from a president who had broken the mold. We know him now as someone miscast: a rational man in an irrational world.

    I must tell you that I read over this a few times and thought “do I really want to say something about this idiot” (Cohen, I mean)? Isn’t life already too short?

    And then I thought to myself, sure, why not?

    For one thing, comments like this betray more of Cohen’s mindset than that of the world he supposedly knows something about. Because he apparently craves the “certainty” of a leader who, though perhaps catastrophically wrong, would act as if his thought processes are populated by fevered dreams of something called American Exceptionalism (I know you know who I’m talking about). And if this leader takes us into yet another catastrophic misadventure in the Middle East for no good reason…well, that means that Israel won’t be fighting alone now, will it?

    Call me just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but maybe the reason we have an irrational world (I agree with Cohen on that much) is because we have too many irrational people in charge! And wouldn’t it be nice if we did a better job of recognizing people who actually have their scruples and act like intelligent adults in the face of onslaughts from all over the world (not saying to never question them, but just to try and support them when we believe it is necessary)?

    Given that, then surely Cohen would have noted long ago that Obama is “a rational man in an irrational world” and tried to make sure that his criticisms had at least some basis in reality, right?

    Well…

  • Here, he condemned the White House visit by the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan for five years, as “utterly repellent,” even though Cohen acknowledged that the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s capture are unclear.
  • Here, he embraced the “leading from behind” smear of President Obama (straight out of Drudge, Breitbart, and the like).
  • Here (as he does in his most current column), he makes a misguided push for a strike on Iran.
  • Here, he criticized Obama’s body language and supposed inability to “emote.”
  • Here, he wrote that Europe’s supposed view of Obama is that he’s an “accidental” president, among other nonsense.
  • (By the way, lots of other Cohen-related idiocy can be read from here.)

    Yes, I realize this is part of the whole pundit game about finding ways to be talked about. However, I honestly believe that Cohen thinks he’s right that our president should act in the manner and style deployed here (and no, I haven’t forgotten what led up to that). All to display “menace,” no doubt.

    How pitiably sad for Cohen not to realize that, were Obama to do such a thing, the rest of the world would surely laugh in his face.

  • Continuing (and speaking of pitiably sad), I give you former Ken Blackwell here on the matter of “biosimilar” drugs (more here…and this gives us a refresher on why Blackwell is such a miscreant – hard to believe that it’s been nearly 10 years)…

    Now, it is up to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement the biosimilar approval process. But millions of dollars have been spent on a lobbying effort from Obama’s crony capitalist friends on K Street to protect the interests of biologic drug markers. Initially, they were given a 12-year data exclusivity clause in the Obamacare law. But now, they are fighting through a questionable grassroots campaign, with the goal of distracting the FDA.

    These special interests are demanding unnecessary distinct naming rules for the ingredients in generic drugs, even though Obamacare does not allow for it. Americans with life- threatening diseases do not deserve to suffer thanks to these complicated and underhanded tricks by those in the pockets of Big Pharma.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    I hate to break the news to Blackwell, but both parties are in the hands of “Big Pharma,” as noted here.

    More to the point, this tells us that the 12-to-14-year window Blackwell criticizes “drew applause from CVS Caremark, whose EVP specialty pharmacy services, Dave Golding, participated in an FTC roundtable event on the issue” (the Generic Pharmaceutical Association agreed with Number 44 on this also).

    Not surprisingly, though, naming conventions for generics provoked this letter from 28 members of Congress who opposed the move; I believe the FDA recommendation on that was voluntary, by the way – hard to sift through some of the bureaucratic-ese (and the 28 who signed the letter are the same motley crew of usual conservative suspects, by the way). However, for anyone criticizing naming conventions for generics (which would bring them to parity with name brands, by the way) I have two words; Accutane and Sulindac (read from this link about the misery suffered by those who took these poisons).

    And from here

    “Regulation of these formularies is going to be a huge thing moving forward,” said Paul A. Calvo, a director in the biotechnology group at Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox. “I think as soon as the public heard there is very limited oversight in these areas, they went nuts.”

    Understandable as far as I’m concerned; background on formularies (basically, lists of prescribed medications for particular illnesses for insurance purposes) can be accessed from here.

    Oh, and speaking of “nuts” (and having to do with bioresearch a bit), I give you this.

  • Finally, I give you this from the Kevin Strouse campaign…

    Contact: Will Block, will@kevinstrouse.com, 610-400-3163
    For Immediate Release: Monday, October 13th, 2014

    Takeaway from Mike Fitzpatrick’s New TV Ad: Veterans Are Tired of Fitzpatrick’s Failures and Deception

    Fitzpatrick Voted Against Reducing the Veterans Disability Claims Backlog

    Bristol, PA – Last week, Fitzpatrick for Congress released its first ad of the general election. Unfortunately, the ad misleads voters about Fitzpatrick’s failed record on veterans’ issues. The facts show that Congressman Fitzpatrick has stood in the way of reducing the veterans disability claims backlog, and has voted against veterans’ interests on multiple occasions.

    The ad shows a doctor walking alongside a disabled veteran in a wheelchair. The exact footage used in the ad is available for purchase on http://www.istockphoto.com as “Man in wheelchair walking with doctor – Stock Video.”

    Strouse campaign spokesman Will Block commented, “This year, we saw Congressman Fitzpatrick jump onto a bandwagon with his colleagues to put a bandaid on a problem that he helped create in the first place. Disabled veterans are real heroes with real stories who deserve a Congressman that will fight for the care that they deserve — not some stock footage that can be purchased online. The fact that Fitzpatrick suddenly cares about the disability backlog, especially when he’s running against a combat veteran, is exactly what’s wrong with politics.”

    Fitzpatrick’s ad claims that he worked with a whistleblower this year to uncover the claims backlog at the Philadelphia Veterans Benefits Administration office. Well, the backlog is nothing new, and the Congressman knows it. In fact, in 2013 he voted against a motion which would have provided funding to hire more adjudicators to cut through the disability claims backlog.

    Block continued, “Fitzpatrick’s anti-veteran record speaks for itself. It’s especially egregious for Fitzpatrick to claim to be working to end the disability claims backlog after voting in 2013 against a measure to do exactly that. These issues at the VA are nothing new — unfortunately, they only seem to matter to Congressman Fitzpatrick in an election year.”

    BACKGROUND:

    Stock Footage Used in Fitzpatrick’s TV Ad: [www.istockphoto.com, Man in wheelchair walking with doctor – Stock Video]

    Fitzpatrick’s TV Ad…aired on 10/8/14:

    Fitzpatrick voted against quicker disability claims processing:

    In 2013, Fitzpatrick voted against a motion to recommit with instructions that would help reduce the backlog of disability claims for veterans. The amendment would add $9.2 million in funding (double the funds in the underlying appropriations bill) to hire an additional 94 claims processors to help reduce the veterans disability claims backlog. The amendment failed 198-227. [MTR on H.R. 2216, Vote #192, 6/04/13]

    Fitzpatrick voted to block the “Veterans Backlog Reduction Act”, which would
    direct the secretary to pay provisional benefits for claims that are still processing: [New York Times, 5/30/14; Vote #180, 5/23/13]

    “From The New York Times: Republican House candidates could also find themselves under pressure to explain their past votes against proposals for more money for veterans programs. Democrats were pointing to a procedural vote in May 2013, when House Republicans opposed a Democratic measure called the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act.”

    ###

    Kevin Strouse is a former Army Ranger, CIA counterterrorism analyst, and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who lives in Middletown, Pa., with his wife, Amy, and two young children, Walter and Charlotte. He is currently Program Director of Teach2Serve, a non-profit that teaches social entrepreneurship to regional high school students. He earned his BA from Columbia University and a Masters in Security Studies from Georgetown University, graduating with honors.

    To help with the Kevin Strouse campaign in the closing days, please click here.


  • Friday Mashup (8/17/12)

    August 18, 2012
  • I’m overdue to clean out my “in” bin, so here goes…

    …a new book — “Who’s Counting?” by John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky — charges that Al Franken’s 2008 defeat of incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman may be directly attributable to felons voting illegally.

    Coleman led on election night, but a series of recounts lasting eight months eventually gave the seat to the former Saturday Night Live star.

    Later, a conservative watchdog group matched criminal records with the voting rolls and discovered that 1,099 felons had illegally cast ballots. State law mandates prosecutions in such cases; 177 have been convicted so far, with 66 more awaiting trial.

    Franken’s eventual margin of “victory”? A mere 312 votes.

    (There are also allegations of Democratic Party voting shenanigans in Washington state and Connecticut that I may attempt to deal with on another day, if only to prove that the parties alleging wrongdoing are utterly wrong once more.)

    In response, this tells us the following…

    I don’t mean to be disrespectful, just instructive, but I’d like to comment on the comments of Sen. Coleman and Gov. Pawlenty. As we know, Coleman won the 2002 Senate election 11 days after incumbent Sen. Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash. Polls showed Wellstone was going to win that election. For Coleman to call Franken “an accidental senator” is tragically ironic, for there are some who believe Coleman was the original accidental senator.

    As for the governor, he has spoken three times about the recount, and he’s been a bit fast and loose with his facts. First, in the early days of the recount, he spread — on Fox News — the completely untrue story about Minneapolis ballots that were supposedly being driven around in the alleged trunk of an unknown and non-existent elections official. He spoke of this days after it was reported that the story was a fable.

    Later, in a call with reporters, he overstated by thousands of percentage points the increase of absentee voters in 2008, trying to say that Franken won the election because of that.

    In fact, Franken won the recount by 49 votes BEFORE absentee ballots were counted.

    Media Matters has a typically thorough takedown of Fund and von Spakovsky here, pretty much destroying their evergreen charges that Al Franken somehow managed to steal the Minnesota U.S. Senatorial election four years ago.

    This is par for the proverbial course for Fund and (in particular) von Spakovsky; this tell us that the latter “served” as a Justice Department lawyer who was also Republican Party chairman in Fulton County, Ga. before going to Washington; while in the Peach State, von Spakovsky worked towards requiring Georgia voters to have photo identification, which (as we now know) disenfranchises primarily Democratic voters.

    In the typically inside-out world of Republican Party politics, this of course makes Fund and von Spakovsky the perfect choices to scream about election impropriety (when others are responsible, of course).

  • Next, I give you more hilarity from Flush Limbore (here), who said that “some guy” apparently told him that President Obama had had the worst grades of any Harvard student (typical).

    Gee, I wonder if that’s why Laurence Tribe, one of Obama’s former professors, once called the president “the best student he ever had” here?

    You know what, Foxies? Why don’t you just stick to doing what you do well (as illustrated below) and leave news/political commentary for the grownups (I can dream, can’t I?).

  • Further, I give you Ken Blackwell at The Daily Tucker (here, regarding veep Joe Biden’s recent “chains” remark – please)…

    So who was it, Mr. Vice President, that broke those slave chains? It was the Republicans. Republican Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and signed the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. It was Republicans who passed the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution that abolished slavery, provided for equal protection for former slaves, and extended the suffrage to them.

    Every vote cast against those constitutional amendments was cast by a Democrat. Every vote cast against every Civil Rights Act in the 19th century was cast by a Democrat.

    …Uh, no. As noted here

    (The 1965 Voting Rights Act) passed the Senate by a vote of 77 to 19 (on May 26th of that year), with 47 Democrats and 30 Republicans in support and 17 Democrats and 2 Republicans opposed.

    And I give you the following from one of those two…

    Before voting against the bill, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who had switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in September 1964, eulogized the Senate as the “final resting place of the Constitution and the rule of law, for it is here that they will have been buried with shovels of emotion under piles of expediency, in the year of our Lord, 1965.”

    And of course, like Fund and von Spakovsky, Blackwell doesn’t know anything about disenfranchising African American voters, among his other exploits as Ohio’s former Secretary of State, as noted here…not much he doesn’t.

  • And finally, this tells us the following…

    Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis (Ala.) will speak at the Republican National Convention later this month in Tampa, Fla., the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced Thursday.

    Davis co-chaired President Obama’s 2008 campaign and seconded his nomination at that year’s Democratic National Convention, but aligned himself with Republicans after losing a Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2010.

    Davis campaigned with Mitt Romney on Wednesday in Virginia.

    Oh, and let it be known that Reince Priebus, the Repug Party chair (and good luck with that when doing the spell check!), said that Davis will “give voice to the frustration and disappointment felt among those who supported President Obama in 2008 and are now hungry for a new direction.”

    I’m not sure that there’s a more pitiable character in our national politics right now than Artur Davis (I mean, what with “Goodhair” Perry, Little Ricky, Baby Newton Leroy, and The Pizza Man having happily receded into the media background).

    So what, is Davis going to go all “crazy Zell Miller” from the 2004 Rethuglican National Convention on us now?

    Well, maybe this provides a clue (in which Davis tries to make common cause with the Teahadists)…

    “Ladies and gentlemen, in 1980, one man, from a small town in Illinois, said I know what they say, I hear the doubts in the wind, but I will not be bowed,” Davis said. “This man, who was supposedly old and faded, issued the same call that a 43-year-old named Jack Kennedy issued in 1960, and said that we can do better.”

    That said, Davis admitted that “we don’t have Ronald Reagan running this year. There was only one. But I want to submit to you, that Ronald Reagan’s values are alive in the Republican Party today.”

    Oh, and if it isn’t disgusting enough for Davis to try and conflate JFK with The Sainted Ronnie R, it should be noted that he also invoked the memory of Rosa Parks too.

    Not to worry, though – I thought Cynthia Tucker definitely got the lowdown on Davis here

    Don’t be fooled by the clichéd announcement (of Davis’s party switch). Davis defected for all the wrong reasons. He left the Democrats out of personal pique — a feeling of rejection left by his humiliating loss in the Alabama Democratic primary for governor.

    For seven years, Davis was a rising star in Democratic circles, a bright and promising member of Congress, a well-educated representative of the post-civil-rights era of black leadership. Elected to Congress in 2002, he defeated 10-year incumbent Earl Hilliard, whose many ethical lapses and support of Middle Eastern tyrants had made him an embarrassment.

    But Davis ¬— who is nothing if not ambitious — made a serious misjudgment in 2010, forfeiting his secure post as representative of Alabama’s 7th congressional district to run for governor of that state. As a black Democrat, he would never have been elected to the helm of one of the most conservative states in the union, but he was widely expected to win the nomination.

    That was before Davis fell prey to an unfortunate fallacy about moderation and bucked President Obama’s health care plan. Though Alabama, my home state, has one of the nation’s highest rates of uninsured, Davis refused to support the health care plan.

    There is much in (Davis’s) analysis that is wrong and wrongheaded. For example, Davis credits Bill Clinton for a period of robust economic growth, but says “this is not Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party” — borrowing from Mitt Romney’s recent rhetoric. Both men willfully ignore one of Clinton’s bravest acts: He pressed Congress to raise taxes, which set the stage for that growth.

    And on the subject of identity politics, Davis is just as wrong. The GOP may have grown more sophisticated about executing its southern strategy, but it remains a tool for dividing voters along racial lines. Davis’ marriage of convenience is unlikely to be a happy one.

    I know it’s easy to forget that our 40th president was once a Democrat who switched political parties because it suited his political ambitions also. But if Davis has any aspirations towards anything near that height of political power and has made this move with that goal in mind, then it is inevitable that he will find out what “frustration and disappointment” truly means beyond any and all doubt.


  • Wednesday Mashup (4/25/12)

    April 25, 2012

    (Testing, testing…is this thing still on :-)?)

    OK, allow me to back up and do some ‘splainin’ here…

    I pretty much walked away from this site about a year and a half ago out of total disgust, keeping Blogger as my main platform for this kind of thing. Not with WordPress as a blogging platform, I wish to emphasize, but with the impending Dem loss of the U.S. House, including the PA-08 seat of Patrick Murphy to “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick (guilty of this recent, particularly heinous moment which, in a manner utterly true to form, has been thoroughly ignored by his house organ, the Bucks County Courier Times). Also, at the time, I wasn’t sure if the Senate would fall either, but thanks to the intervention of the teabaggers, who made sure that “Yes, Wiccan” O’Donnell was nominated in Delaware along with Sharron Angle in Nevada and John Raese in West Virginia, the Senate remained under the control of the Dems. I wanted the post with the Rachel Maddow video to remain as the first thing a reader saw at this site as a “J’Accuse!” gesture of sorts (I think it’s safe to say that, after all this time, I’ve made my point).

    Well, Blogger is now thoroughly hosed when it comes to fairly long, textual posts and I have neither the time nor the desire to figure out how to deal with the problem. So, on the infrequent, oft chance that I am able to generate content again, I’m planning to do so here for the immediate future.

  • And with that boring pretext out of the way, allow me to bring you the following from the New York Times on Monday (from here)…

    Under federal labor law, employees have the right to join together to seek better pay and working conditions, with or without a union. If an employer tries to punish organizers, employees have the right to seek protection from the National Labor Relations Board. But employees still don’t have the right to be informed of their rights.

    Last August, the N.L.R.B. issued a rule requiring employers to post a notice in the workplace telling employees of their rights. The rule was prompted by the board’s finding that young employees, recent immigrants and workers in nonunion workplaces were generally unaware of the law’s guarantees and protections.

    The backlash was furious. The National Association of Manufacturers sued to block the rule in federal court in Washington, D.C. The United States Chamber of Commerce sued in federal court in South Carolina. In both cases, industry claimed that the law did not expressly permit the board to require employers to post a notice.

    And yes, to answer the question, those opposing the notice were acting typically ridiculous, thus inspiring this video.

    If you want to understand exactly how much this notice (at the very least) needs to be posted, click here to find out how Target has been fighting the efforts of its workforce to form a union (including making a video using unionized actors, believe it or not), click here to read how T-Mobile workers were trying to do the same thing (its parent company in Germany employs a unionized workforce, though that isn’t the case here – Dem U.S. House Rep Tim Bishop and Dem Sen. Richard Blumenthal supported the effort, as noted here), and this tells us how workers at Station Casinos started a seven-day hunger strike in an effort to unionize, and have faced a campaign of illegal intimidation and firings as a result.

  • Next, Ken Blackwell is back to attack Hillary Clinton (some things never change), including taking a shot at the new START treaty (here – in response, this tells us the following)…

    The treaty commits the former Cold War enemies to each reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 – 30% lower than the previous ceiling.

    Mr Obama said it was an important milestone, but “just one step on a longer journey” of nuclear disarmament.

    Mr Medvedev said the deal would create safer conditions throughout the world.

    If ratified by lawmakers in both countries, the treaty will replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) of 1991, which has expired.

    Update: My bad – should have noted that, despite the caterwauling of Repug Sen. Jon Kyl, the treaty was ratified by the Senate, as noted here, and a particularly brainless update is here.

    Blackwell also whines as follows…

    This is the same Russia whose foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, Hillary famously gifted with a red “Re-set” button on their first meeting. That was to signal the new administration in Washington wouldn’t fuss about Russia’s 2008 aggression against the Republic of Georgia.

    In response, this tells us how the Obama Administration, far from acting like wallflowers while the Russia/Georgia conflict simmers, brokered the following deal…

    At the end of last year, the final roadblock to Russian entry into the (World Trade Organization) was Georgia’s insistence that Russia agree to increase transparency of trade across Russia’s borders into Georgia’s breakaway autonomies of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. (WTO rules allow every member the right to veto a country’s membership, and Georgia, as a member, could do so with Russia.) The August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia led to Russian military occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Moscow’s recognition of the autonomies as independent states. Even before the war, however, Russia controlled both sides of the crossings into Abkhazia and South Ossetia and staunchly refused access to either Georgia or international monitors.

    While Russian membership in the WTO has been a priority of the Obama administration’s Russia policy, the administration has also made a point not to pressure Georgia into giving its consent. The administration thus insisted to Moscow that it had to negotiate the conditions for its accession directly with Tbilisi, while it underlined to Tbilisi the importance the United States placed on a successful agreement.

    The result is, on paper, a spectacular success. The WTO agreement provides a novel mechanism for monitoring trade between Russia and Georgia across Abkhazia and South Ossetia (as well as at their third, already functioning, land crossing in undisputed territory). Both governments have agreed to report data on trade to the WTO and to affix electronic seals on outbound cargo to facilitate the tracking of goods. They have also agreed to allow a private company to confidentially monitor trade and to recommend, on the basis of that monitoring, the inspection of cargo by either party. Finally, the agreement establishes a mechanism for arbitrating disputes.

    Blackwell should really avoid anything more substantive than attacking children’s television programs, as noted here, which is actually more of his speed.

  • Finally, someone named John Hawkins at Clownhall.com presented five “devastating” numbers that supposedly show Number 44’s “incompetence” (here).

    1) The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.”

    This is from an analysis from Mark Knoller of CBS News, who, as noted here, has a history of absolving Former Commander Codpiece of any financial wrongdoing and laying all blame at the feet of Number 44.

    Besides, as Media Matters points out…

    In 2001, President George W. Bush inherited a surplus, with projections by the Congressional Budget Office for ever-increasing surpluses, assuming continuation of the good economy and President Bill Clinton’s policies. But every year starting in 2002, the budget fell into deficit. In January 2009, just before President Obama took office, the budget office projected a $1.2 trillion deficit for 2009 and deficits in subsequent years, based on continuing Mr. Bush’s policies and the effects of recession. Mr. Obama’s policies in 2009 and 2010, including the stimulus package, added to the deficits in those years but are largely temporary.

    The second graph shows that under Mr. Bush, tax cuts and war spending were the biggest policy drivers of the swing from projected surpluses to deficits from 2002 to 2009. Budget estimates that didn’t foresee the recessions in 2001 and in 2008 and 2009 also contributed to deficits. Mr. Obama’s policies, taken out to 2017, add to deficits, but not by nearly as much. [The New York Times, 7/23/11]

    Continuing…

    2) This country has already lost its AAA rating, we’re 15 trillion dollars in debt, we have 100 trillion dollars in unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities…

    The reason we lost our Triple-A rating was because of the dithering of Man-Tan Boehner and that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor on raising the debt ceiling. The debt was mentioned previously, and Social Security (which, as noted here, is projected to drop off funding to about 70-80 percent in 20 years, which is still more funding than what is paid out today…more here) has nothing to do with the deficit. And yes, we need to look at Medicare, but even that isn’t the biggest driver of the debt.

    3) We’re now up to 1,091 days without a budget despite the fact that it’s the most basic function of Congress and it’s required by law.

    Oh brother – as noted here

    HONOLULU — President Obama agreed on Friday to delay a request to Congress to expand the government’s borrowing authority by $1.2 trillion, allowing lawmakers time to return from recess and register their views on it.

    The delay, which a White House official said would be only a few days, will not jeopardize the operations of the government, as last summer’s impasse over the debt ceiling did. The budget agreement of Aug. 2, which broke that deadlock, has made it highly unlikely that Congressional Republicans could block an increase in the debt limit through the 2012 election. Since signing legislation to codify that agreement, Mr. Obama has already obtained two increases totaling $900 billion.

    And as noted here, Boehner and his pals are making noise like they might renege on the debt deal later this year (figures).

    4) One of the great ironies of this election is the still rabid support that black Americans have for Barack Obama. This is kind of like Columbine High School throwing a “We Sure Do Miss You” Memorial Rally for Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

    Let’s see, tasteless, racist, and utterly inaccurate all at once? Yep, pretty much.

    And as noted here

    During an exchange with Fox News analyst Juan Williams during a debate in South Carolina on Jan. 16, Gingrich defended previous statements that poor kids lack a strong work ethic, that they should be put to work as janitors (child labor laws be damned), and that black Americans should “demand jobs, not food stamps.”

    “Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?” Williams asked.

    “No,” Gingrich responded, to roaring applause and rolling laughter. “I don’t see that.”

    “It sounds as if you’re speaking to belittle people,” Williams added later in the exchange.

    “Well, first of all, Juan,” Gingrich said, “the fact is, more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.”

    This statement, while technically true, is no more reliable as a factual observation than other conservatives’ claims that Obama has governed during the highest unemployment spike in decades, or that his presidency has overseen the biggest national debt in history.

    All three statements may be true on their face, but they lay responsibility for the greatest recession since the Great Depression at the feet of a man who wasn’t even president when the economic floor caved.

    Funny, but I don’t hear Democrats questioning the work ethic of men and women of color. And I know that’s a little tangential to job numbers, but it does have something to do with stigmatizing the employment prospects for a rather significant demographic in this country.

    And in terms of economic policies that actually help African Americans, Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett said here that unemployment funds are a stimulus of sorts, earning her the right-wing umbrage noted here.

    More to the point, though, this tells us the following…

    Even here, the black employment outlook is mixed. Black men appear to have gained jobs since February 2011 in manufacturing, construction and the service sector. And while government employment held steady this month, deep staff cuts in state and local government have hit black women particularly hard. Indeed, government agencies, a sector that has slashed about 500,000 jobs since February 2010, employed just over one-quarter of black women before the recession began. That has caused the number of black women with jobs to fall, although that number held steady in February, (Bill Rodgers, a Rutgers University economist who studies inequality) said.

    The issue is spending to create demand not just to spur hiring for a racial class, but an economic class that will lift all of the proverbial boats, as it were.

    And concluding with Hawkins…

    5) The average unemployment rate during George Bush’s time in office was roughly 5.3% as compared to 8.2% today, which is part of the longest streak of over 8% unemployment since the Great Depression. However, because of the way the unemployment rate is calculated, even those horrific numbers don’t give you the full sense of the Mt. Krakatoa-like havoc that Barack Obama has wreaked on the job market.

    In response, please click here to read each of the three charts, including the last one, showing job losses from Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History and job gains under the current occupant of An Oval Office.

    Oh, and one more thing: Hawkins begins his screed with the following…

    Whether you’ve had some form of head trauma that has caused you to like Barack Obama or like all good hearted people, you can’t stand him, his performance has objectively been terrible.

    I realize that violent imagery and veiled threats of physical harm are right out of the typical right-wing playbook (along with typically pejorative, “us versus them” rhetoric about how all “good hearted” people can’t stand Obama), but I would just like for this fool Harkins to consider something here.

    This is a picture of the late actress Natasha Richardson, who died three years ago last March. She fell while on a skiing trip and, indeed, suffered the “head trauma” that Harkins apparently thinks is something to use to ridicule those with whom he disagrees. She left behind a grieving husband and two young boys.

    Find a conscience somehow, you contemptible guttersnipe.


  • Tuesday Mashup Part One (7/6/10)

    July 6, 2010

  • 1) I recently came across this interesting item at The Daily Beast pertaining to a certain 43rd President of the United States. It seems that, in the aftermath of 9/11 (recounted by author Randall Lane)…

    …the State Department hired a highly regarded Washington-based custom media company, TMG, which in turn hired me. Working with a squad of Arab-born Americans, including a smart, opinionated Libyan, a poetic Syrian, and a diligent Palestinian, I would craft America’s public face for the part of the world that hated us most, as translated via the cover and substance of a glossy magazine.

    The magazine came to be known as “Hi!” – the thinking was that, even if the name was highly unoriginal, at least it was an English word that everyone seemed to know.

    It sounded good so far. However…

    …as the memory of 9/11 began to fade, so did the magazine’s utopian mission. Congressmen began complaining that rather than show young Arabs how Western society works, Hi! should tell them why American policies are right. The initiative’s leadership got incrementally political: The undersecretary for public diplomacy, a former advertising CEO named Charlotte Beers, was replaced by a veteran from the previous Bush administration, Margaret Tutwiler, and then, eventually, by President Bush’s top image-maker, Karen Hughes. A State Department panel of ham-fisted political appointees now began actively reviewing our content before we printed it, as the new war in Iraq turned increasingly unpopular.

    One of my favorite sections loosely translated to “Window on America.” It was a simple conceit: a photo essay showing what America actually looks like, unfiltered. A bass fishing tournament, a breast-cancer walk, the Puerto Rican Day parade—these were exotic images to most Arabs, too often poisoned about the United States by their inflammatory local press. But during one review meeting, held before a star chamber of 10 high-level State Department officials, the co-leader specifically took offense to a photograph from a classic Western scene: campers and pack mules heading out on a rugged weekend expedition.

    Our team always remained vigilant about cultural sensibilities, avoiding the bottoms of shoes, or bare arms, or other seemingly innocuous images that could backfire with the Arab audience. This official’s concerns, however, were more parochial. She held up the offending photo, as wholesome as a Norman Rockwell painting, and pointed to a pack mule that, by other names, might be known as a donkey. This has to go, she said. Too pro-Democrat. And out it went.

    As we know from the dark Bushco days, politics trumped all else (as it did here, when Karen Hughes refused to answer some pretty “vanilla” questions from Sen. John Kerry about whether or not she had any knowledge concerning former CIA agent Valerie Plame, though Hughes was still confirmed for a top PR job with the State Department – by the way, on that subject, Plame’s husband Joe Wilson wrote the New York Times Op-Ed refuting the so-called “Niger letter” about Saddam Hussein supposedly receiving uranium from that country seven years ago today…how time flies).

  • 2) Also, Ken Blackwell returns to spread more propaganda at clownhall.com (here), this time about NPR…

    Pro-lifers have long understood the issue of media bias. Years ago, the late, pro-choice David Shaw wrote a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times showing how biased his own newspaper was when reporting on abortion. Shaw showed that bias came through not just on stories about abortion. Shaw showed how even stories that related to surgery on unborn children were skewed or spiked to avoid anything that might have a pro-life message.

    Now, we have National Public Radio (NPR) lining up to support the pro-abortion side in the ongoing struggle over this issue. Managing Editor David Sweeney recently issued a memorandum to staff ordering them to use only the politically correct designations for the contending sides in the debate: abortion rights advocates is the approved way of referring to those who favor liberalized abortion; abortion rights opponents is the only way NPR will refer, from now on, to pro-lifers.

    This should not come as any great shock to us. NPR has long been hostile to conservatives and traditional values. The part I object to most strenuously, that I think we should all object to, is that NPR takes public tax money to spread its pro-abortion bias.

    Sooo…Blackwell accuses NPR of bias over a matter of semantics (at least abortion rights opponents aren’t supposed to be referred to as “anti-choicers,” which may push more right-wing buttons, as it were, even though that is an entirely accurate description).

    Well then, if NPR is supposed to be so hostile to the wingnuts, perhaps he can explain why Mara Liasson, an NPR correspondent, regularly appears on Fix Noise (here), even though, as Think Progress points out, “(while) NPR’s ethics guidelines allow journalists to appear on other media outlets, they clearly state that journalists should not ‘encourage punditry and speculation’.“

    Or maybe Blackwell can explain why the supposedly “liberal” Liasson would lie about polling results here, claiming that the Dems were in trouble based on polling Repug-represented voting districts that supposedly voted for Obama, even though, as pointed out in the post, one of those districts in Minnesota represented by Moon Unit Bachmann voted for “Straight Talk” McCain and a certain moose-hunting former governor who quit halfway through her term.

    Besides, the last I checked, NPR still provided a paycheck for the odious Matthew Continetti (here), which is all the proof I need to tell me the direction taken recently by that once-fine news organization.

  • 3) Also, it seems that Elliott Abrams, of Iran-Contra infamy, is unhappy with President Obama over the matter of space exploration (here)…

    This past week, the current NASA administrator revealed what our current president thinks about space. “When I became the NASA administrator, [Obama] charged me with three things,” NASA head Charles Bolden told al-Jazeera. “One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”

    This quote is entirely believable. Mr. Bolden was not told that he must advance American interests in space, but instead to become part of the big Obama program of engagement with the “international community.” His achievements will be measured by whether he can “reach out” to make people “feel good,” and those people aren’t even Americans; no, his “perhaps foremost” job is to make Muslims around the world “feel good” about their past.

    (By the way, I know that when Obama’s predecessor took up space in An Oval Office, that I rarely, if at all, referred to him as “President Bush.” Well, let it be known that conservatives are guilty of the same thing when it comes to Obama.)

    Part of me honestly doesn’t wish to dignify Abrams’ idiocy here, but part of me also realizes that what he says is too stupid to be ignored.

    This tells us (in a story from last April) that the goals in space as outlined by President Obama include a manned expedition to Mars by sometime after 2035; as the story also tells us…

    Obama said he will scrap the Constellation moon program, and its Ares rockets, to develop new rockets, propulsion systems and a crew capsule that have yet to be designed. Constellation’s Orion space capsule will be used instead as a lifeboat for the Earth-orbiting space station.

    Sometime after 2025, the rockets should be ready to go, and the first target for a landing by astronauts will be an asteroid. The moon will be bypassed, since “we’ve already been there,” Obama said.

    By 2035, systems would be in place for journeys to Mars, with orbiting missions around the Red Planet preceding an attempted landing, Obama said.

    And when Obama made this announcement, he did so in the company of former astronaut Buzz Aldrin (to deflect criticism from fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong, among others).

    But I suppose the thought of a president pursuing a goal of a manned mission to Mars is really pretty loopy as far as Abrams is concerned (and what exactly qualifies him to speak as an expert on space anyway?).

    Sure it is (i.e., Obama’s predecessor wanted to go to Mars too – insert your snark here).

  • 4) And finally, the following letter appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today…

    I am a Vietnam veteran helicopter pilot and spent a year flying combat missions. Because of the constant exposure to the noise of the helicopter, a machine gun firing only feet from my ear, the enemy firing at us at every landing zone and explosions all around me, I lost a great deal of hearing. Of course, as a young man I was too proud to admit it. Now many years later I applied to the Veterans Administration hoping to get help with the cost of hearing aids.

    My initial application was in November 2009 and during the ensuing seven months I received two letters from the VA titled “sorry for the delay.” Finally in frustration I called Congressman Murphy’s office. I was treated with utmost courtesy and respect and two days later a VA representative called me with two scheduled appointments for the following week. At those appointments I was finally given a hearing test, they had my military records which clearly showed a hearing loss when I left the service and I was assured that the hearing aids “wouldn’t be a problem.”

    I have read many letters to the editor complaining that Congressman Murphy did not represent the interests of his constituents. My experience is the direct opposite: He absolutely represents my interests with actions in addition to words. He will have my vote for as long as the Eighth District is fortunate enough to have such an outstanding representative.

    Sandy Kaplan
    Lower Makefield, PA

    As always, to reward good behavior, click here.


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