Monday Mashup Part One (5/24/10)

May 24, 2010

  • 1) The them today (as usual) is media wankery; with that in mind, I give you Kevin Ferris from yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer (here, on the subject of how this country is supposedly “post-racial” – no, sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever see that day either)…

    …is the Justice Department up to the job (presumably, of enforcing the type of racial compliance Ferris wants to see)? I’d say no, based on how it handled the voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party on Election Day 2008.

    Two Panthers were “deployed” in “military style uniforms” at a polling station on Fairmount Street, according to the original Justice Department complaint, and one of the men “brandished a deadly weapon” – a nightstick.

    The complaint, initiated during the Bush administration, said the men “made statements containing racial threats and racial insults at both black and white individuals” and “made menacing and intimidating gestures, statements, and movements” toward those helping voters.

    The two men, the national Panthers leader, and the party itself were named in the complaint. When they didn’t respond, the case was won by default. At which point the Justice Department could have sent a message that voter intimidation by armed members of hate groups will not be tolerated.

    But Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department dropped the case against all but the guy with the club. His punishment? He can’t display a weapon at a polling place in Philadelphia through 2012. Hate groups must be shaking in their jackboots.

    (Also, I suppose I should probably get myself exercised over Ferris’s version of what happened last year with the Valley Swim Club in this screed, in which he complains that “This case should have been settled amicably, but lawsuits were filed – including one from the Justice Department. The club declared bankruptcy last fall and this month’s sale is the result.” To which I respond that, yeah, well, the Justice Department is supposed to get involved when people’s civil rights are violated. And I don’t think anything more needs to be said in response – if I do, Ferris will just come back a month later and say the same thing he said before, no matter how wrong it is.)

    However, I know for a fact that the following comment (in response to the “Black Panther” thing) was submitted but not published (from here)…

    Assuming this comment is allowed, I should point out the following. On November 4, 2008, Greg Sargent of TPM followed up on the Black Panther thing, calling Obama campaign volunteer Jacqueline Dischell, who confirmed that two Black Panthers guarded the polling place in question, which was a nursing home. One was an officially designated poll watcher (not sure by whom) and the other was his friend. The one holding the nightstick didn’t stay there all day, leaving hours before the other man. The McCain-Palin campaign heard about them when they both were there, sent some people over to take pictures with their cell phones, and started baiting the two. One of the two men gave someone in the McCain-Palin group “the finger.” Some time later, camera crews from Fox News showed up and started interviewing people at the polling place. That’s the story. There was never any voter intimidation. That’s why Holder slapped the guy with the nightstick on the proverbial wrist and dropped all other charges.

    Adherence to conservative orthodoxy is one thing, Inky (bad as it is). Journalistic malpractice is another.

  • Also, this article appeared in the New York Times today…

    WASHINGTON — Republicans remain confident of making big gains in the fall elections, but as the midterm campaign begins in earnest, they face a series of challenges that could keep the party from fully capitalizing on an electorate clamoring for change in Washington.

    Republicans continue to have much in their favor, and over all appear to be in a stronger position than Democrats. They continue to benefit from a widespread sense among voters that government has gotten too expansive, with Mr. Obama’s health care bill as Exhibit A. The economic recovery remains tepid, with unemployment still high.

    Republicans raised more money than Democrats last month, a reflection of the optimism about the potential for gains in November among the party’s contributors.

    Gee, that’s interesting, particularly given that, as noted here (h/t The Daily Kos)…

    The Republican National Committee announced Friday it raised $6.8 million in April and had $12.4 million on hand at the end of last month. That monthly haul is some $3.5 million less than the Democratic National Committee raised: the DNC took in $10.3 million and had $15.1 million in the bank at the end of the month.

    And talk about having its thumb on the metaphorical scale when it comes to reporting – Jeff Zeleny and Carl Hulse of the Times had no trouble tracking down Republican politicians and operatives, but I guess the Dems were all in hiding wearing tie dye, ingesting hallucinogenic drugs and singing hosannas to Ward Churchill or something (joke), since none could be found for the story.

    And by the way, if you want to know which party is actually trying to help get this country back on its feet, as it were, as opposed to which one isn’t, try reading this.

  • Finally, I give you John Harwood of “the old gray lady” (here)…

    Democrats see more opportunity in attacking the Tea Party right’s stance toward programs that, however pricey, have built durable constituencies. In the Times/CBS poll, Tea Party enthusiasts expressed more support than other Americans for cuts in Social Security, Medicare, education and defense.

    I haven’t seen a poll anywhere conducted on behalf of any group noting the same degree of support for this country’s defense spending as I’ve seen for support of Social Security and Medicare, by the way.


    The Achilles’ heel for Democrats is the political zeitgeist of 2010. Costly stimulus and health care bills make it hard to argue that the Obama administration is making government leaner; now the specter of an untamed oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico clouds the argument for effective government, too.

    You can legitimately question some of what the Obama Administration has done in the Gulf, though BP said early on that they knew what they were doing when they plainly didn’t, but how is the aftermath of the spill NOT an indictment of the laissez-faire capitalist BS of Dubya and his pals?

    Particularly when you consider the following (here)…

    Despite obvious hazards and dangers, as well as inadequate safety practices, a succession of administrations, including Barack Obama’s, have backed corporate strategies strongly favoring the exploitation of oil and gas reservoirs in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and other environmentally sensitive areas.

    On the government’s side, this outlook was first fully articulated in the National Energy Policy (NEP) adopted by President George W. Bush on May 17, 2001. Led by former Halliburton CEO Vice President Dick Cheney, the framers of the policy warned that the United States was becoming ever more dependent on imported energy, thereby endangering national security. They called for increased reliance on domestic energy sources, especially oil and natural gas. “A primary goal of the National Energy Policy is to add supply from diverse sources,” the document declared. “This means domestic oil, gas, and coal.”

    As the NEP made clear, however, the United States was running out of conventional, easily tapped reservoirs of oil and natural gas located on land or in shallow coastal waters. “U.S. oil production is expected to decline over the next two decades, [while] demand for natural gas will most likely continue to outpace domestic production,” the document noted. The only solution, it claimed, would be to increase exploitation of unconventional energy reserves — oil and gas found in deep offshore areas of the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf, Alaska, and the American Arctic, as well as in complex geological formations such as shale oil and gas. “Producing oil and gas from geologically challenging areas while protecting the environment is important to Americans and to the future of our nation’s energy security,” the policy affirmed. (The phrase in italics was evidently added by the White House to counter charges — painfully accurate, as it turned out — that the administration was unmindful of the environmental consequences of its energy policies.)

    The Deepwater Horizon explosion, we assuredly will be told, was an unfortunate fluke: a confluence of improper management and faulty equipment. With tightened oversight, it will be said, such accidents can be averted — and so it will be safe to go back into the deep waters again and drill for oil a mile or more beneath the ocean’s surface.

    Don’t believe it. While poor oversight and faulty equipment may have played a critical role in BP’s catastrophe in the Gulf, the ultimate source of the disaster is big oil’s compulsive drive to compensate for the decline in its conventional oil reserves by seeking supplies in inherently hazardous areas — risks be damned.

    So long as this compulsion prevails, more such disasters will follow. Bet on it.

    In which case the utterly unscrupulous and ruthless demand for oil by BP and other corporate bad actors will be an “Achilles’ heel” not just for a politician regardless of party, but of the entire planet.

  • More Ferris Fairy Tales On Gov. “Pawlenty Of Nothing”

    June 1, 2009

    I guess, by the standards of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s right-wing agit-prop editorials, yesterday’s screed by Kevin Ferris suggesting that a potential New Jersey Repug Governor Chris Christie (gulp) would govern like Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty was comparatively tame.

    I mean, no human being on earth knows at this moment whether or not Christie would take his cue from the guy who was once the co-chair of John McCain’s VP selection committee (so Pawlenty shares part of the blame for the Sarah Palin selection, dontcha know), but I suppose this is the Repug talking point du jour, so Ferris must dutifully oblige (I wish I could recall where I read that all he does is change to point size on the type of RNC press releases and pass them off as his own columns – funny).

    In the interest of fairness, I’ll present the following from Ferris’ column…

    Lawmakers in St. Paul, like their counterparts across the country, have been wrestling with a deficit, in this case about $4.6 billion over two years. To fill the hole, Democrats who control the Legislature wanted to raise taxes – income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, alcohol taxes, cigarette taxes.

    (Pawlenty) said no, not in this recession. Period. He meant it.

    When the Legislature sent him a plan for $1 billion in new taxes May 8, Pawlenty vetoed it.

    Democrats hoped to override with the help of a few Republican lawmakers, as had happened last year with Pawlenty’s veto of a gasoline-tax increase. But this year the GOP backed the governor.

    At midnight on May 18, as the regular session was ending, Democrats rammed a similar bill through the legislature, prompting Veto No. 2.

    All right, some Democrats thought, let the term end and the governor will call a special session to deal with the budget crisis. We’ll give a little on spending, he’ll give a little on taxes. Business as usual.

    Nope. Here’s what Pawlenty said on Fox & Friends on May 21: “The legislature went home for the year, thank goodness. And instead of calling them back to have a summer-long fight about the budget, I’m going to take the steps, as conditions warrant, to shave down the budget to get it back in balance.”

    OK, now you get the idea.

    In response, here is Wayne Cox of Minnesota Citizens for Tax Justice…

    Estimates are that between 20,000 and 30,000 mainly private-sector jobs will be lost as a result of Governor Pawlenty’s succeeding in forcing through his all-cuts/no-new taxes approach.

    The job losses will be a surprise to many. Blame that on Stockholm Syndrome.

    The Capitol press gave the public a daily diet of Pawlenty and Rep. Marty Seifert railing that taxes kill jobs. Unreported went the testimony of State Economist Tom Stinson that state budget cuts would cost more jobs than a similar dollar amount of tax increases.

    Pawlenty had it exactly wrong. The public had it right. Pawlenty vetoed the tax increases on high income and alcohol that a Star Tribune poll showed two-thirds of Minnesotans viewed as preferable to his level of budget cuts.

    In past years whenever Pawlenty forced Republican legislators to walk the plank with him like this, many were defeated by Democrats the following year. Expect the same next year. When Pawlenty was first elected governor, 60 percent of the seats in the Minnesota House were Republicans. They now hold only slightly more than a third.

    Republicans used to talk about big tent and small tent. Because of Pawlenty, they have added a special category: pup tent.

    Heh, heh…

    The editorial by Cox does point out, though, that Pawlenty has enhanced his national reputation among the Grover Norquist tax ideologues, for whatever that’s worth (not enough by itself to win a trip to the White House), so the Minnesota governor can now consider himself as a member of the same club of no-tax, cut-spending, budget-be-damned Repug automatons as Mark Sanford and Governor Ahh-nold (with the latter being a particularly egregious example, as noted here, though in fairness I should note that I’m not sure that anyone could successfully govern The Golden State).

    And anybody who thinks Christie wouldn’t try to elevate his national profile as Pawlenty has, given the chance, must think that Flush Limbore actually isn’t the head of the party (though I’ll admit that political egomania is definitely a bipartisan affliction – and all of this assumes Christie will defeat fellow Repug Steve Lonegan in the primary tomorrow; Christie is leading, but we’ll see).

    And as noted here, Pawlenty vetoed at least 34 bills sponsored by the Democratic state legislature, including a gasoline tax increase to pay for bridge repairs after the I-35W collapse (that veto was overridden, fortunately).

    Finally, on the matter of the fiscal well being of his state, let’s not forget that the ongoing battle between winner Al Franken and sore loser Norm Coleman has thus far cost $50 million dollars (here). Now I’ll conceded that both individuals have accepted funds from outside of Minnesota in the process, I’m sure, and I’ll admit that I don’t know whether or not Pawlenty could legally certify the election while court actions are ongoing (this New York Times story says that Pawlenty could be directed to do that by the state supreme court).

    However, in an era where Pawlenty’s state as well as many others are facing fiscal hardship, it’s way beyond scandalous for him to say nothing while Coleman’s costly antics continue (kind of anachronistic for a “fiscal conservative,” wouldn’t you say?).

    Update 6/2/09: To get ready for a 2012 White House run, I’m sure (here)…

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