Friday Mashup (5/10/13)

May 10, 2013
  • I happened to check in to The Gun Report, the blog of New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, and he told us here a couple of days ago that New York State has divested itself of gun-related holdings from its public employee pension plan, following the lead of California. And according to this, Pennsylvania has gun-related holdings in their public employee pension plans which are basically negligible at this point (even though I don’t know what that last sentence in the philly.com piece actually means).

    And as long as I’m on the subject of our beloved commonwealth, this from a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article tells us that our illustrious governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett is proposing a “fix” to the public employee pension plans (actually, he has proposed this for a little while now, but details, or what pass for them, seem to be trickling out at last – a bill number has apparently been assigned in the legislature, and Corbett wants it approved by July 1st).

    As noted here, though…

    Sen. John Blake, D-Archbald, ranking Democrat on the finance panel, said the governor’s plan will add to pension debt instead of reducing it.

    “Moving new employees to a 401(a) will undermine the investment performance of our existing pension systems…,” Blake said. “Further, 401(a) retirement plans are proven to provide lower financial returns and by, disaggregating investment, expose workers with different levels of financial literacy to the vagaries of the markets while sending millions in fees to the financial service industry – money that should instead be invested and managed by experts to guarantee retirement security for our workers.”

    Switching to a defined contribution plan for future hires will leave a less secure retirement for new employees, said state Treasurer Rob McCord, a potential Democratic candidate for governor next year.

    “So far, the 401(k) plans have failed in that regard,” McCord said.

    And of course, it’s not as if Corbett is willing to cut back on his stinking tax cuts for his “pay no price, bear no burden” pals to cover the difference, as noted here.

  • Next, in more “News for the Investor Class,” I give you the following (here)…

    We have our Twinkies back! And our Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Wonder Bread. As The Daily Caller reported on April 24, key assets of bankrupt Hostess Brands have been sold to private equity firms and plans are underway to open new plants. Presumably, the new owners will operate non-union.

    If they don’t blow it.

    To refresh your memory, last fall Hostess Brands, the maker of iconic products such as the aforementioned Twinkies, suspended all operations and began liquidating assets in response to a nationwide strike by the bakery workers’ union. The union was striking over requested concessions the company needed to stay in business. Over the following weeks and months, Hostess let go most of its 18,500 workers as it shut down operations and started trying to sell its valuable brands. The asset sale yielded fruit, and the new Hostess has announced it will open three plants in the near future and start hiring workers.

    Yeah, well, that’s the wingnut spin on this story. Here is the reality point of view (from last November – this is alluded to in the Daily Tucker piece, but of course it isn’t properly documented)…

    Even as it blamed unions for the bankruptcy and the 18,500 job losses that will ensue, Hostess already gave its executives pay raises earlier this year. The salary of the company’s chief executive tripled from $750,000 to roughly $2.5 million, and at least nine other executives received pay raises ranging from $90,000 to $400,000. Those raises came just months after Hostess originally filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

    It is indeed good news that the jobs related to manufacturing items under the Hostess brand are being saved. And based on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story noted in the Daily Tucker post…

    Hostess Brands, which is hiring for several bakeries, including one in Columbus, emphasized Monday that it will not discriminate against applicants on the basis of union membership or activities.

    The strident effort to clear the air on its hiring plans followed comments last week by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dean Metropoulos, who suggested the company would be staffing plants with non-union labor.

    Under the headline “New Twinkie Maker Shuns Union,” Metropoulos reportedly told The Wall Street Journal that the company does “not expect to be involved in the union going forward.”

    In a statement Monday, Hostess Brands said it “intends to hire the most qualified applicants, regardless of their age, race, gender, or prior or current union affiliation.” It added that “none of the company representatives stated or intended to imply that Hostess will be avoiding union-represented employees or job applicants.”

    Of course, I could really be a pointy-headed liberal here and wonder what it says about our glorious system of private enterprise that the manufacture of junk food is a growth industry. But I won’t.

  • Further, I give you this item from “Tiger Beat on the Potomac,” as Charles Pierce quite rightly calls Politico…

    Conservative radio talk show host Craig Bergman is sick of Republicans failing to appeal to environmentalists, and he’s making a documentary to try to bridge the gap.

    He’s behind a new Kickstarter campaign for “Unsustainable,” the documentary underway that Bergman hopes will provide common sense solutions for environmental concerns.

    “We are conservatives but we believe there is a vast swath of common ground,” Bergman told POLITICO. “This is not a right wing, radical, beat ‘em up, red meat movie.”

    He added, “We’re not trying to get into the, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong,’ debate. That’s the whole problem. We’re trying to get into what used to be old fashioned politics, which was two people who would sit down, both wanting the same result, to protect the environment and then deciding how best, under our constitutional framework of liberties and individual rights, do we get there? We haven’t had that on this issue in 30 years.”

    He cited examples of what he considers to be both left and right wing extremism on environmental issues, such as a man in Colorado who was threatened with federal prison for collecting rainwater on his property.

    And he singles out his conservative brethren for making light of environmental issues, including “some of the ridiculous things you hear from some of my compatriots on talk radio, where they say things like, ‘Well, everyone, today is Earth Day so be sure you roll down your windows while your air conditioning is on, hee, hee, hee.’ That does nothing to help the dialogue.”

    “We’ve got hundreds of examples of abuses on the right and abuses on the left.”

    “Hundreds” on “the left,” huh?

    “We are going to take the position that exposes the bad science,” he said. So do you believe in climate change, then?

    “I don’t know that there is a conclusion. That’s part of the problem. It needs to be a dialogue. It does not need to be an absolute definitive, because nobody knows.”

    For the uninitiated, I should note that this is the very definition of “concern trolling” (wonder if this Craig Bergman guy is associated with “No Labels” in any way?).

    Aside from linking to statistical study after statistical study pointing out the obvious (as noted here), I could also mention that the biggest obstacle towards a common sense policy on CO2 emissions and reusable energy are the Teahadists, funded by the Koch Brothers who want us to choke on our fossil fuels while the planet continues to melt (and many of those life forms constitute Bergman’s audience).

    Ordinarily, I would be happy to read about someone trying to achieve some kind of a mutual understanding on an issue. But as far as I’m concerned, the science on this issue has been settled for about 30 years (so, contrary to Bergman’s claim, I would say that EVERYBODY knows, as noted here.)

  • Moving on, Karl Rove concocted the following at the Murdoch Street Journal here

    Thinking strategically about Iran also might have led Mr. Obama to act earlier for regime change in Syria. After two years of fighting, the war is spilling into Lebanon, Iraq and Israel. A million Syrian refugees are flooding into Jordan.

    Of course, the war of choice in Iraq waged by Rove’s old boss created at least two million refugees, as noted here (actually, four million if you count those inside the country). But who’s counting, right?

    “Turd Blossom” also tells us the following…

    (Obama) would also not have sabotaged chances for a U.S. military presence in Iraq by insisting on parliamentary approval of a status-of-forces agreement. A U.S. presence in Iraq would have reduced Iranian influence in Baghdad and diminished the likelihood of sectarian conflict in Iraq.

    Does Rove mean the SOFA approved by the Iraqi parliament before Former President Nutball left office in 11/08 (here)? Any by the way, the terms of the agreement mandated that all US troops would leave.

    Rove also criticized Obama for his moves related to missile defense in Poland and Czechoslovakia, with the goal of getting NATO more involved, a group the Repugs hate, of course…basically, Obama wants NATO to get more involved on the issue of defense against potential short-to-medium-range rockets from Iran, as noted here (part of that whole Kenyan Muslim Marxist notion of making other countries more responsible for their own sovereignty as oppose to us being the “policeman” everywhere, I guess).

    And if Obama is supposed to be so “aloof,” then why did “Bibi” Netanyahu express his “appreciation” for Obama helping Israel defend itself from Palestinian rockets, as noted here? And is Rove seriously going to argue that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History was “close to” German Chancellor Angela Merkel…

    5127738-bush-merkel
    …when the memory of this utter idiocy is still fresh in our minds?

    Rove also alleges that Obama “undercut the new Libyan president, Mohammed Magarief”; I’m only mentioning this nonsense because I have a question.

    How many people out there know that that country has arrested 50 people in connection with the death of Ambassador Stevens and three others, as noted here (“BENGHAZI!!!”)? Show of hands?

  • Continuing (and overlapping on Rove a bit), it looks like David Horowitz has somehow emerged from some foul nether regions somewhere to foist this upon us…

    Obama’s desire for rapprochement with the Islamist regime in Iran has prompted the administration to drag its feet on the sanctions designed to halt Tehran’s nuclear program. For the same reason, the president and his administration were silent when hundreds of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran to call for an end to the dictatorship and were met by an orgy of violence from the mullahs’ thugs.

    Obama was “silent,” huh? Really?

    Continuing…

    The administration’s denial was glaring also in its response to the massacre of 13 unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood by an Islamic fanatic and terrorist, Nidal Malik Hasan, who three and a half years later still has not been brought to trial.

    Unbelievable – through one of the easiest Google searches in my life, I learned from here that the trial of Hasan will begin later this month, on the 29th.

    And as far as I’m concerned, it’s particularly grotesque for Horowitz to bring up the Ft. Hood shootings, which he infamously once said were “the chickens of the left coming home to roost” here (I guess this is the crap you come up with when you are no longer being bankrolled to travel to colleges all over the country to scream about alleged “liberal bias”).

    Continuing, Horowitz rants as follows…

    Obama had previously intervened in Egypt, the largest and most important country in the Middle East, to force the removal of its pro-American leader, Hosni Mubarak. He then promoted the (Muslim) Brotherhood’s ascension to power by portraying it as a “moderate” actor in the democratic process. As the Middle East situation deteriorated, the Muslim Brotherhood became the chief beneficiary of America’s financial, diplomatic, and military support. This same Brotherhood was the driving force behind the Islamist surge, the mentor of Osama bin Laden and the leaders of al-Qaeda, and the creator of Hamas. Rather than being quarantined, the Brotherhood-dominated government in Cairo has received hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid and F-16 bomber jets from the Obama administration that had facilitated its rise to power.

    Oh brother – in response, this tells us the following…

    (In Egypt) The Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda hate each other. The former view the latter as terrorists, and the latter view the former as traitors to the cause. Critics of the Muslim Brotherhood often cite a common ideological ancestor of both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda, Sayyid Qutb, to draw connections between them. But this obscures the depth of the ideological and religious gulf between the two. The willingness of the Brotherhood to pursue its goals through legitimate democratic means, without violence, is precisely the point — and precisely why the Egyptian uprising threatens more extreme groups even if it empowers the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Here’s more from Horowitz…

    In Libya, al-Qaeda terrorists overran an American consular compound and murdered the U.S. ambassador and three brave staffers. The attack took place in a country that had recently been destabilized by Obama’s own intervention to oust its dictator.

    I guess it was inevitable that Horowitz would invoke BENGHAZI!!, but as far as presidents destabilizing countries goes, let’s not forget that, as noted here, U.S. diplomat David Foy was murdered in Pakistan the same day that Number 43 agreed to send nukes to India, as noted here (and I don’t recall hearing a peep of protest at the time from Huckleberry Graham, Gramps McCain, or any other supposed foreign policy Repug Senatorial genius – hat tip to Bob Cesca for that info on Pakistan, as noted here…and by the way, on the whole BENGHAZI!!! thing, isn’t this interesting?).

    I could go on, but you get the idea (and to demonstrate what a supposedly enlightened character Horowitz is, not, here are some of his reactions to people who disagree with him).

  • Also, I give you the latest foul activities of that insect Jesse Watters, promoted as you might expect by Fix Noise here

    (Watters is) headed to Columbia University to get the community’s reaction to the decision to hire Kathy Boudin, a convicted cop killer, and confronts the controversial professor about her actions.

    As noted here, however…

    As a member of various radical militant groups during the 1960s and 1970s, Boudin advocated extreme measures to combat what she saw as racism, sexism, and American imperialism. And then, in 1981, she participated in the armed robbery of a Brinks security truck–and although she carried no weapon nor directly caused any injuries, she was, in her own words, “morally responsible for all the tragic consequences that resulted.” Nobody pretends to justify Boudin’s actions–they were repugnant.

    However, in the years that followed, Boudin tried to make amends. At Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, where she was incarcerated, Boudin founded AIDS Counseling and Education, a women’s group that provided support for HIV-infected women, combated stigmatism and harassment in the prison, and made sure that women had access to needed medication. She organized programs for teenagers with incarcerated mothers, taught classes on parenting, and helped Columbia Law School teach inmates about the rights and responsibilities of incarcerated parents. She published scholarship about her work in–among other places–the Harvard Educational Review.

    Yes, what Boudin once did was wrong. But even though Boudin’s conduct and actions with the Weather Underground were awful and remain so, she didn’t engage in violent activity or shoot the Brinks officer whose father wrote the commentary on Fix Noise (I would have a problem with someone interfering with commerce if they were engaged in the destructive activity Boudin was engaged in or blocking a Planned Parenthood clinic, as Watters was involved in here and here).

    And by the way, as long as we’re talking about Planned Parenthood here, I want to say that I think we’re looking at the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell exactly the wrong way – yes, the evidence is horrific, and the full weight of the law should be brought down if he’s found guilty (here).

    However, in consideration of this item, maybe with proper teen and pre-teen sex-ed and related funding, do you think just one of those tiny lives would have been spared or prevented from conception if, just maybe, Planned Parenthood had been demonized just a little bit less? And if that had been the case, with more P.P. funding, would there have even been a need for Gosnell’s clinic at all?

  • 050813_sergei-bobrovsky_600

  • Finally, turning to the world of sports, congratulations to former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (pictured), now with the Columbus Blue Jackets, for earning a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, the NHL’s highest award to goalies (here). Other nominees are Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks (Niemi, by the way, was once available as a free agent after the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, and the Flyers could have signed him, but instead chose to give $3 million to Jody Shelley, who will probably never be anything more than a goon).

    Here are the other former Flyers currently still active in the NHL 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs:

    Arron Asham (New York Rangers)
    Daniel Carcillo (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Darroll Powe (New York Rangers)
    Dennis Seidenberg (Boston Bruins)
    Harry Zolnierczyk (Anaheim Ducks)
    James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs)
    Jaromir Jagr (Boston Bruins)
    Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings)
    Joffrey Lupul (Toronto Maple Leafs)
    Justin Williams (Los Angeles Kings)
    Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis Blues)
    Luca Sbisa (Anaheim Ducks)
    Mark Eaton (Pittsburgh Penguins)
    Martin Biron (New York Rangers)
    Michal Handzus (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Mike Richards (Los Angeles Kings)
    Patrick Sharp (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Ray Emery (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Steve Eminger (New York Rangers)

    Good luck to one and all.

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    Thursday Mashup 10/18/12

    October 18, 2012
  • I give you The Daily Tucker (here)…

    Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. No doubt, the billions spent on the act have improved overall water quality. Yet as someone who regularly rowed on Washington, D.C.’s Potomac River during college, I know that the Clean Water Act and the EPA are still in murky water.

    The author then goes on to lament the fact that storm runoff (i.e., trash) ends up in the Potomac, which he encounters while rowing. So, for that reason, he considers the Clean Water Act “40 years of inefficient solutions.”

    Seriously.

    Now I don’t know how culpable the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (DCWSA) is for this circumstance (that is where the author squarely lays the blame). However, the author also tells us that he’s a member of the Property and Environment Research Center (note the order of “property” and “environment,” by the way) which, as noted here, “(is linked) to a long list of the country’s most powerful right-wing foundations and organizations committed to deregulation of industry and to the privatization of public assets” (David Currie, the author of this piece, keeps harking back to “market-based solutions,” which for our purposes here is wingnut code for letting business do whatever it wants).

    However, I think it’s still idiotic to consider the Clean Water Act to be a “failure” focus solely on the ongoing pollutions challenges not addressed by the Clean Water Act (here); Obama Administration EPA head Lisa Jackson, citing the Act’s accomplishments here, said it “has kept tens of billions of pounds of sewage, chemicals and trash out of the nation’s waterways during the past 40 years. The federal law, which includes regulations governing drinking water and requiring improvements in the environmental health of rivers, lakes and seas, has dramatically improved both human health and the environment.”

    Also concerning the Act, this tells us that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has encouraged Congress to reauthorize the CWA; I guess Boehner, Cantor, Mikey the Beloved and their pals won’t do it because they consider it to be an unwarranted regulatory intrusion, or something. In addition, the National Clean Water Network tells us here what new assaults the life forms running the U.S. House are planning against the Act and the environment overall (with this Romney advisor telling us he, and by extension, his party’s presidential nominee, wants to “reverse this trend of ownership of public lands,” as if that’s supposedly so awful).

    I guess this is par for the Repug course when you consider that the law was originally vetoed here by then-president Richard Nixon because it was supposedly too expensive, which prompted a statesman-like response from Sen. Ed Muskie, asking what the “cost” was for our health and a safe environment.

    And while I wish Number 44 would distance himself from his electoral opponent on this issue, this tells us that “stim” funds were committed to cleanup of our waterways, and here, Dem Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, introduced H.R. 6249 – the Water Protection and Reinvestment Act in the House of Representatives, legislation to “establish a Clean Water Trust Fund, which is revenue neutral, does not add to the federal debt, (and raises) approximately $9 billion a year for the Trust Fund.”

    However, given this, do you honestly believe “Orange Man” and his pals will budge one inch in favor of doing the right thing?

  • Also, did you know that Mr. “Binders Full of Women” is supposedly better on LGBT Issues than Obama? The author of this piece says so anyway (sticking with The Daily Tucker)…

    While we applaud President Obama for supporting the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — a failed policy that Governor Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan have said they will not reinstate — and while we give President Obama credit for coming to the Dick Cheney position on marriage equality, the truth is that Obama’s administration has been devastating for average gay people and their families.

    Really? Why, just stick a rainbow decal from that Toyota Sienna minivan on my forehead and Color Me Shocked!

    How can that be, given that Romney and his running mate, Mr. Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv, both support the ridiculous Defense of Marriage Act, as noted here (well, Mitt was better on this in 1994, as noted here, opposing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and supporting the Employee Non-Discrimination Act – I guess he “shook that Etch-a-Sketch” and came up with a new answer…and isn’t this interesting concerning DOMA?).

    This takes us to a Think Progress post asking Romney six questions on LGBT issues that he should answer (and answering in the affirmative would definitely go against his party’s platform, such as it is). But until Romney does answer them (and holds to that answer without changing his mind for at least five minutes), there’s no reason to take him seriously on this subject.

    And as long as we’re discussing the Repug presidential nominee, I think this column asks a very good question (and one that definitely should be discussed in the debates – maybe for the last one I hope), and that is how Willard Mitt feels about torture (he can even call it “enhanced interrogation” if he wants – I have to tell you, though, that I think the answer is here, and it’s not a good one).

    Related to that item, I give you this, telling us about some of the “war heads” who would likely comprise a Romney foreign policy team, including PNAC’s Eliot Cohen, “Baghdad” Dan Senor, and Cofer Black of the aptly-named (but no longer – currently “XE”) Blackwater, along with former Bushie John Lehman and someone named Pierre Prosper.

    But as far as Romney and foreign policy goes (and tied to his utter debate flameout on Libya), this tells us about more of Willard Mitt’s “do as I say, not as I do” BS.

  • Further, I give you “Pastor” Gerson of the WaPo, lecturing the Dems (Biden in particular) on “civility” here (a bit behind in the news cycle on this, I’ll admit)…

    At the height of a close election, it is worth a reminder that civility is the essential democratic virtue. Civility is not the same thing as niceness. The high stakes of politics can produce intense disagreements. But manners — even cold, formal ones — communicate a modicum of mutual respect and preserve the possibility of cooperation. John Stuart Mill called democracy “government by discussion.” Biden has left our discussion more toxic — and Obama’s task more difficult.

    Of course, this was written before the Tuesday debate, it should be noted.

    This is the same Michael Gerson, by the way, who once said here that President Obama was “delusional” and the reconciliation process (used by both parties and embraced by that fine, upstanding Roman Catholic Repug VP nominee) was “dirty.” Also, the same Gerson held up “Straight Talk” McCain as a supposed model of civility here, even though McCain once asked “how do we beat the bitch?” in reference to Hillary Clinton (when “Senator Honor and Virtue” thought she would be the ’08 Dem presidential nominee), and said that Chelsea Clinton was “ugly” because “her father was Janet Reno.”

    I give you another lesson in wingnut code; when Gerson and his ilk talk about “civility,” what that means is a Democrat is supposed to sit down, shut up, and let a Repug take charge.

  • Finally, turning to sports, this tells us that Spencer Hawes, who I believe is still with the Sixers (haven’t found evidence to the contrary), has taken to the Twitter thingie to endorse Romney.

    Which I would care less about, were it not for the fact that he did it like this:

    Hawes made it clear earlier this year that he is not a supporter of noted basketball fan President Obama, or of the president’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. When the Supreme Court handed down its ruling that the healthcare reform legislation is constitutional in June, Hawes tweeted: “Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave. We might as well be in Russia in 1983.”

    He went on to refer to the Obama administration as communist in several tweets, and added:

    Just drove by a bald eagle who appeared to be crying. Coincidence @BarackObama?

    Ha and ha, wingnut.

    Oh yes, Hawes is so “established” that they traded for Andrew Bynum and his questionable knees and signed the human punch line that is Kwame Brown (here).

    When it comes to playing center for the Sixers, if Hawes is the answer, then the question is too scary to contemplate (just add him to the list of failed centers for that team – Matt Geiger, Jeff Ruland coming off injury, etc.).

    In the meantime, tells Hawes to try driving the lane against Dwight Howard the next time he opposes the Lakers.

    And then let me know when I should call 911.


  • Thursday Mashup (10/11/12)

    October 11, 2012
  • Gosh, Willard Mitt Romney just looks so presidential here, doesn’t he?…

    Mitt Romney called Monday for a change of course in America’s Middle East policy, accusing President Obama of sitting on the sidelines in the face of a “profound upheaval” across the region. The Republican nominee pledged that, if elected, he would prosecute a far more engaged foreign policy, including helping to arm the opposition in Syria’s bloody civil war.

    “Hope is not a strategy,” Romney said.

    In response, Juan Cole, who I’m sure has forgotten more about Syria and the Middle East in general than Romney will ever know, outlines at least ten reasons here why arming the Syrian rebels would be a terrible idea (let’s see, one of the rebel groups is affiliated with al Qaeda; another, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, is pals with Hamas; flooding the region with weapons makes for an already volatile mix given Israel’s continued intransigence on those godawful settlements, etc.).

    Oh, and it’s not as if Romney’s supposed foreign policy strategy is so different from Obama’s anyway (I mean, to the extent that we can trust Romney at all on this subject, as noted here…and it looks like Romney shook that Etch-a-Sketch, or something, on this issue here).

    Not to be outdone, though, Romney’s fellow U.S. House Repugs carried out another little dog-and-pony show in lieu of actual governance here concerning the attack on our embassy in Libya and the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

    Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the U.S. House responsible for funding government operations? Such as security for our embassy personnel (with Repug Jason Chaffetz being dumb enough to give away the proverbial game here…and by the way, it looks like Chaffetz stepped in deep doo-doo again here)?

  • Next, I give you someone named Jay Greene, who claims to be “a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute” (not something I would advertise if it were me, actually – here)…

    Last week’s presidential debate revealed one area of agreement between the candidates: We need more teachers. “Let’s hire another hundred thousand math and science teachers,” proposed President Obama, adding that “Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers.”

    Mr. Romney quickly replied, “I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers.” He just opposes earmarking federal dollars for this purpose, believing instead that “every school district, every state should make that decision on their own.”

    As noted here and here, Willard Mitt mocked Obama for wanting to hire more teachers, even though, as noted here, 100,000 teachers have lost their jobs over the prior year (yikes!).

    Continuing with Greene…

    Let’s hope state and local officials have that discretion—and choose to shrink the teacher labor force rather than expand it. Hiring hundreds of thousands of additional teachers won’t improve student achievement. It will bankrupt state and local governments, whose finances are already buckling under bloated payrolls with overly generous and grossly underfunded pension and health benefits.

    Concerning those “overly generous and grossly underfunded pension and health benefits”…well, they were “grossly underfunded” for a reason – namely because states were legally obligated to contribute matching amounts but refused to do so (here).

    And get a load of this generalization from Greene…

    Most people expect that more individualized attention from teachers should help students learn. The problem is that expanding the number of hires means dipping deeper into the potential teacher labor pool. That means additional teachers are likely to be weaker than current ones.

    Couldn’t you say that about every occupation if you wanted to, then? Besides, what about degreed teachers who aren’t able to find work in their profession, but instead are working other jobs (such as at Lowe’s, Wal-Mart or Applebee’s until, hopefully, a legitimate teaching job opens up)?

    Also…

    Then there is the trade-off between labor and capital. Instead of hiring an army of additional teachers, we could have developed and purchased innovative educational technology. The path to productivity increases in every industry comes through the substitution of capital for labor. We use better and cheaper technology so that we don’t need as many expensive people. But education has gone in the opposite direction, making little use of technology and hiring many more expensive people.

    I would be shocked to find out if this guy actually had a son or daughter attending a public or parochial school. Having a state-of-the-art white board doesn’t mean a damn thing if all the teacher does is use it for presentations while he/she sits at their desk and catches up on Facebook or their Email instead of using their people skills and training to, y’know, actually teach their students.

    As usual, a Repug thinks so little of anything related to liberal arts that they think technology can totally replace the function that a certain individual committed a great deal of money and a significant amount of time to learn about as part of their course of study.

    One more thing…here is a reminder here that teachers, as well as public sector workers in general, do indeed contribute to economic growth (silly to feel compelled to point that out, but we are where we are – and as long as Greene said that Obama’s call for more teachers is a “Solyndra-like solution”…an idiotic statement because there is no comparison between the Solyndra loan and teachers…the following should be noted from here).

  • Continuing, I give you Fix Noise “Democrat” Pat Caddell here

    A few weeks ago I wrote a piece which was called “The Audacity of Cronyism ” in Breitbart, and my talk today is “The Audacity of Corruption.” What I pointed out was, that it was appalling that Valerie Jarrett had a Secret Service detail. A staff member in the White House who is a senior aide and has a full Secret Service detail, even while on vacation, and nobody in the press had asked why. That has become more poignant, as I said, last week, when we discovered that we had an American ambassador, on the anniversary of 9/11, who was without adequate security—while she still has a Secret Service detail assigned to her full-time, at a massive cost, and no one in the media has gone to ask why.

    This tells us, among other things, that there were multiple teams of armed guards at the Libyan consulate. Also, Dubya designated more of his appointees for Secret Service protection than Obama, as noted here (and yes, this is a recording)

    And based on this, if Caddell is a “Democrat,” then I’m the illegitimate love child of William F. Buckley (and rest assured that I’m not).

  • Further, it’s time to pick the proverbial low-hanging fruit with Thomas Sowell (here, he decries the “name calling” of President Obama and his supporters)…

    In response, Sowell referred to “green bigot” environmentalists here, called Teresa Heinz-Kerry “rich white trash” here, and (just for kicks I suppose) called for a military coup here.

    As usual, a conservative looks in the mirror and sees the reflection of everyone but him (or her) self.

  • Moving on, it looks like Catholics supposedly aren’t supporting Obama after all (oh noes!) according to “The Catholic Association” (here).

    Meanwhile, this Pew poll tells a very different story (praise the Lord!).

  • Finally, I give you the following from The Hill (here)…

    House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is questioning Obama administration financial support for green energy companies in former Vice President Al Gore’s portfolio, calling it part of a “disturbing pattern.”

    Upton is quoted in a Washington Post story on Gore’s success as an investor in green technology companies, which the Post reports has helped boost Gore’s wealth to an estimated $100 million.

    The Post reports that 14 green tech companies that Gore invested in directly or indirectly have “benefited from more than $2.5 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks, part of President Obama’s historic push to seed a U.S. renewable-energy industry with public money.”

    Upton, a frequent critic of federal green energy support, calls the aid “reflective of a disturbing pattern that those closest to the president have been rewarded with billions of taxpayer dollars . . . and benefited from the administration’s green bonanza in the rush to spend stimulus cash.”

    This is utterly farcical, of course, but there’s a method to Upton’s wingnuttery, in case we had any doubt about that.

    Here, Upton called for end to oil subsidies after repeatedly voting to preserve them; this tells us that he has received about $144 K from the oil and gas sector in the way of campaign contributions – and Upton is chair of the House Energy Subcommittee (can you say, “conflict of interest”?); and here, Upton claimed that the passage of the Affordable Care Law was the first occasion where legislation was passed with no support from the Repugs – the only problem is that the first Clinton budget, which ushered in the longest period of prosperity this country has seen (or maybe ever will see) was voted on the same way.

    I would say that one’s notion of a “disturbing pattern” is in the eye of the beholder, wouldn’t you?


  • Thursday Mashup (9/27/12)

    September 27, 2012

  • If Mike Fitzpatrick is running in another election, that must mean that it’s time for more smears and partisan garbage (here)…

    Republicans injected one of the region’s most emotionally charged murder cases into a tight Bucks County-based Congressional race late Wednesday night, attempting to tie Democratic challenger Kathryn Boockvar to convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal because of legal work Boockvar’s husband (Jordan Yeager) performed in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

    Republicans point to work Yeager did while he and Boockvar were partners in their own firm. In 2000 Yeager represented Abu-Jamal’s literary agent, who was arrested and charged with petty crimes while protesting his (sic) Abu-Jamal’s conviction. The agent, Frances Goldin, was 75 at the time and was one of 95 people arrested in the demonstration. The prominent agent, an Abu-Jamal supporter, later paid a fine and was sentenced to one year’s probation.

    Yeager, while at a separate Philadelphia firm, worked in 1996 as an attorney for Veronica Jones, a woman who initially gave testimony against Abu-Jamal but later recanted, saying she had been pressured by police when she provided the first version of her story. Yeager told reporters in 1996 police were also trying to intimidate her with arrests on old charges after she changed her story.

    The calls make no mention of the time frame of Yeager’s work. Republican Web ads include a grainy photo of Abu-Jamal alongside an image of Boockvar, who was in her teens at the time of Abu-Jamal’s conviction.

    Umm, so I guess the “issue” is that Yeager represented Mumia Abu-Jamal’s agent and a supporter after Abu-Jamal’s conviction, all of which is still thoroughly legal – ?????

    I guess it isn’t surprising that there’s no “there” there since we’re talking about our wet noodle PA-08 Repug U.S. House rep, who was mute while the state Republican Committee circulated a mailer claiming that Ginny Schrader (Fitzpatrick’s Dem 2004 opponent when running for the House) supported Hezbollah (here), a particularly odious charge since half of her family is Jewish. And this also isn’t surprising coming from the guy who also stood mute in 2006 while the Army service of former rep Patrick Murphy was questioned by two veterans, one who served in another branch of the military and one who served in the Army in a completely different time frame from the one in which Murphy served (here).

    I don’t know how the polling is going in this race, but even though this is right of out Mikey’s slimy playbook, the fact that he felt he had to resort to it must mean he’s more anxious about the final result than I thought.

  • And speaking of underhanded Repugs, I give you this from Mikey’s pal John Mica…

    Since taking office, the current administration has rebuffed nearly all attempts by Congress to create jobs and improve our economy. Voters will understand this at the polls. The rate of poverty, the number of food stamp recipients and soaring unemployment, especially among minorities, are all factors working strongly against the President’s campaign at this time. They are particularly poignant in Florida and the I-4 Corridor.

    Isn’t it darkly humorous to see how those who are disadvantaged actually show up on the radar of Republican Party politicians during election time, though they seem to be invisible to the “Party of Lincoln” at every other moment?

    As noted here, if you’re going to talk about poverty, you need to talk about unemployment. With that in mind, this tells us that Mica proposed a six-year transportation reauthorization bill last year that “would cut transportation funding to a level that is 20 percent less than the last reauthorization bill signed by President Bush in 2005.”

    Meanwhile, as noted here (and with not a peep of protest from Mikey or Mica), the American Jobs Act continues to sit in the House with no action (and this tells us that Medicaid expansion in the Sunshine State, which would help to alleviate the plight of some of those in poverty, would hardly “bust the budget” as Rick Scott, Mica’s fellow Floridian and Repug, claim here…when Scott isn’t trying to illegally purge voter rolls, that is).

  • Next, this story tells us the following…

    The House Ethics Committee on Tuesday officially cleared Rep. Maxine Waters of all ethics charges after nearly three years of investigating the California Democrat.

    

Members of the panel handed the lawmaker a gigantic victory by voting unanimously to find her not guilty of allegations that she tried to secure federal money during the financial crisis for a bank in which her husband owned stock.

    “It appears that Rep. Waters recognized and made efforts to avoid a conflict of interest with respect to OneUnited,” the committee said on Tuesday.

    Basically, Waters’ grandson represented OneUnited Bank and lobbied for TARP funds, but Waters made sure OneUnited didn’t get any because it would have been a conflict of interest (Waters’ husband would have reaped a significant windfall). All of which makes me wonder why this was investigated in the first place.

    Oh, and by the way, this development proves yet again that Michelle Malkin is an idiot (here).

  • Further, this item in USA Today caught my eye…

    Income is growing much faster in Republican-leaning “red states” than in Democratic-tilting “blue states” or the pivotal swing states that will decide the 2012 presidential election, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

    Personal income in 23 red states has risen 4.6% since the recession began in December 2007, after adjusting for inflation. Income is up just 0.5% in 15 blue states and Washington, D.C., during that time. In the dozen swing states identified by USA TODAY that could vote either way Nov. 6, income has inched ahead 1.4% in 4 ½ years.

    The big drivers of red state income growth: energy and government benefit payments such as food stamps.

    Food stamps? Really???

    Well then, shouldn’t those recipients automatically vote for President Obama? I mean, the Teahadists call him the “food stamp president,” after all, as noted here.

  • Continuing, I give you the following fit of umbrage from The Daily Tucker (here, from someone named Thomas Kilgannon)…

    Dear Mr. President:

    On September 14, at Andrews Air Force Base, you paid tribute to four Americans who lost their lives in the service of our country. These individuals were killed by terrorists who carried out an orchestrated attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Along with their families, friends and co-workers, you met the caskets containing the remains of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty and Sean Smith.

    In closing your tribute to these men, you said that “the flag they served under now carries them home.” Indeed it did. American flags draped the caskets of each of these patriots and were solemnly presented to their families “on behalf of a grateful nation.” As you know, the manner in which the American flag is placed on a casket, and how it is folded, are rich in meaning. The protocol symbolically unites the deceased with America’s first patriots, who won our independence.

    This month, in the course of a few days, Americans saw contrasting images of our flag in the news media. As described above, they watched you at Andrews AFB, a familiar ceremony in which the flag is proudly and prominently displayed to convey American resolve, but also a sense of national mourning. On the other hand, American citizens saw video footage showing angry Muslims desecrating the Stars and Stripes to demonstrate the depth of their hatred for America. Their understanding of how important our flag is to us is precisely the reason they burn it.

    Last week, as fundamentalist Muslim mobs burned American flags, it was revealed that you, Mr. President, took our nation’s banner, modified it with your political logo, and offered it for sale on your website. The modified American flag was designed for your personal and political profit.

    Mr. President, this is repugnant.

    In response, I give you this

    Here we go again with the right trying to turn a total non-issue into a firestorm. FOX News is LIVID that the Obama online store is now “selling copies of an American flag painting that replaces the 50 stars in the blue field with the president’s campaign logo.”

    Meanwhile, the Obama campaign tweeted that the print — entitled “Our Stripes: Flag Print” and designed by Ross Bruggink and Dan Olson of Studio MPLS — is “a poster to say there are no red states or blue states, only the United States.” Sadly, those who are staunchly red staters seem to want to take that unifying message and turn it into something extremely divisive. They’re crying foul, saying it’s creepy, “un-American,” “offensive,” “insulting,” and “stoops to new lows.” Ay yi yi!

    To be fair, I could see how any deviation from what we know the American flag to look like today in 2012 might upset people. It’s a sensitive subject. Especially those who have served in the military under that flag. And those people are entitled to their thoughts and feelings surrounding the image of the American flag.

    That said, you would think someone who considers themselves a “patriot,” a proud American, would be passionate about American values, which includes freedom of speech and expression. That’s all this is.

    The American flag has been used in political campaigns for probably over a century by both of the major political parties and some others (and by the way, I have no evidence that Kilgannon served).

    But let’s buy this phony-baloney premise for a minute, though. Let’s say that the image of the flag should never be used for political campaigns.


    Well then, what do you call this (from the GOP online store)? Call me crazy, but doesn’t that look suspiciously like an image of the flag behind that airplane (a subtle “9/11” reminder also)?

    I would say that “repugnant” is as “repugnant” does.


    Update 10/24/12: Oh, and by the way, wouldn’t this guy be guilty of appropriating the flag for political purposes too?

  • Finally, it looks like we lost the war in Afghanistan; we must, because wingnut columnist Jack Kelly said so (here)…

    As of Monday, 1,493 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan, 70 percent of them since Barack Obama became president. About 15 percent of NATO troops killed this year have been killed by our purported Afghan allies. “Green on blue” attacks were virtually unheard of four years ago.

    I guess, in a way, it’s a good thing that Kelly is saying something about the Afghanistan war, because we should all be paying more attention and clamoring to get our military out of there; of course, with the Repugs moving further and further into crazyland every day, that gives Dems and excuse to move more and more to “the sensible center,” as our pampered Beltway pundits like to refer to it. I’m not saying that to excuse our staying in The Land Where Empires Crumble, I hasten to add. I’m just saying that our goal should have been only to take out bin Laden and al Qaeda and then leave, but we are where we are.

    My problem, though, is that this criticism is coming from a guy who claimed that Dubya’s Iraq war was “all but won” in February 2005 here (I also cannot help but wonder what kind of a comment Kelly is making about our military, since, if someone had said this about Iraq under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, something like this would have happened – in fact, something like that did…also, as noted here, a big part of the reason why we’re in the mess we’re in there is that Dubya outsourced the Afghan war to Pakistan, providing a minimal amount of U.S. troops in Afghanistan while concentrating on Iraq instead).

    Or to put it another way, as journalist Douglas Anders wrote in February 2004 (here)…

    “Every Saturday morning I look forward to the Jack Kelly column on the Op-Ed page of the Blade. As surely as things fall down, Kelly can be counted on to recycle half-informed (not to mention half-formed) arguments from the right side of the blogosphere, and dutifully march forth to make the GOP sanctioned argument of the week. His modus operandi is simple and unvarying: report the facts that support his thesis, ignore everything that undermines it and end with an overblown claim that Democrats (or the ‘nay-sayers’ or peacenicks or Bush-critics) are nothing more than unrepentant liars. He rarely lies outright (though I have caught a few), but his one-sided presentation of the facts always produces a deeply deceptive column. I warn you, if you try to make pro-Republican arguments based on what you read in a Jack Kelly column, you will quickly establish that you are an easily hoodwinked fool. There are good honest conservatives out there, but Jack Kelly isn’t one of them, he exists to regurgitate the GOP line of the day.”

    And finally, I give you Kelly himself from his infamous 2005 column…

    “…when will journalists be held to account for getting every major development in the war on terror wrong?”

    When indeed?


  • Tuesday Mashup (7/17/12)

    July 18, 2012
  • To begin, here’s former Bushie Doug Feith in the pages of the Murdoch Street Journal yesterday (here)…

    In the 16 months since the revolt began (in Syria), the Obama administration has neither promoted humanitarian “safe zones” on Syria’s Turkish border, nor provided arms to the rebels. It has not helped establish a no-fly zone, nor has it supported NATO military strikes against Assad’s forces.

    In response, I would tend to side with foreign policy expert Joshua Landis, who said here that Obama was “smart” to stay out of Syria for the following reason…

    “America is not good at nation-building in the Arab World. We’ve seen this in Iraq. We’ve seen this in Afghanistan. Syria is not an easier country. It has the same divisions.”

    Uh, yep. And besides, as noted here, Obama promised to provide “non-lethal” aid to the rebels and stepped up sanctions against both Iran and Syria here (not a panacea I know, but something).

    And besides, as noted here

    For Obama, military engagement with Syria may not be feasible from either a policy and political perspective. Syria, unlike Libya, has greater defense capabilities, and administration officials doubt a bombing campaign could be accomplished quickly and relatively bloodlessly. Engaging U.S. forces in Syria would also run counter to Obama’s foreign policy campaign narrative, which is built on being the president who ends wars, with the Iraq conflict coming to a close under his watch and the Afghanistan campaign winding down.

    In addition, as noted here

    U.S. President George W. Bush had a falling out with the Assad regime over Iraq and vigorously contested its domination of Lebanon, but his hardball tactics weren’t really designed to undermine its grip on power. American officials denounced the lack of democracy in Syria and held high profile meetings with secular opposition leaders, but gave the cold shoulder to the Muslim Brotherhood. Washington wanted Syrian cooperation in Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza, and for that it needed a stable government capable of honoring its commitments.

    Though outraged by the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri (in Western capitals, arguably the most personally well-liked Mideast leader of his day), European governments steadily reconciled with Damascus as its allies subsequently battled for supremacy over Lebanon’s pro-Western March 14 coalition. When EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana visited Assad in March 2007, the subject of reform and human rights in Syria didn’t even come up.[3]

    I don’t know if it would have mattered if Former Commander Codpiece had bothered to broker the subject with Assad, but there’s no percentage at all in ignoring the subject altogether.

    Continuing with Feith, I give you the following…

    By refusing to act on Syria, the president is missing an opportunity to advance U.S. security interests in the Middle East, while benefiting Iran, the principal sponsor of the Assad regime. And by suggesting that America lacks international legal authority to act, he is undermining U.S. sovereignty. Presidents have traditionally striven to bolster America’s sovereignty and freedom of action, but Mr. Obama evidently sides with the global legalists who see national sovereignty as a problem to be overcome, not a principle to be cherished.

    Oh brother…

    I’ll tell you what – when it comes to overseas matters such as this, particularly in the Middle East, I inevitably turn to Juan Cole, who provides more typically cogent analysis here as to why we should stay out of arming the Syrian rebels.

    And let’s not forget Feith’s awful track record on Middle East foreign policy management overall, noted in horrendous detail by yours truly here (as well as the ludicrous charge that Obama is “anti-Israel” here).

  • Next, I give you the following from The Daily Tucker (here)…

    In 2010, Florida Democrats mercilessly attacked then-candidate Rick Scott over his record at Columbia/HCA, a company Scott founded that eventually became the largest private, for-profit health care company in the U.S. Democratic candidate Alex Sink spent much of the campaign alleging impropriety and scandal because Columbia/HCA paid $1.7 billion in fines to the U.S. government, never mind that Gov. Scott was never charged or even questioned in the matter.

    For the record, it should be pointed out that Lex Luthor Scott was investigated for the following, as noted here

    …federal investigators found that Scott took part in business practices at Columbia/HCA that were later found to be illegal — specifically, that Scott and other executives offered financial incentives to doctors in exchange for patient referrals, in violation of federal law, according to lawsuits the Justice Department filed against the company in 2001.

    The doctor payments were among 10 different kinds of fraud identified by the Justice Department in its 10-year probe of the company, records show. Three years after Scott left Columbia/HCA, the company admitted wrongdoing, pleading guilty to 14 felonies — most committed during Scott’s tenure — in addition to paying two sets of fines totaling $1.7 billion…

    Whether or not Scott was aware of his company’s questionable conduct, the breadth of the problems raises questions about Scott’s leadership, management experts say.

    Oh, and by the way, this isn’t technically illegal either (not as far as we know), but it still stinks to high heaven (take a bow, all you voters in the Mickey Mouse state who elected this fraud over Alex Sink two years ago).

  • Finally, I give you the following hilarity from BoBo (here)…

    Let’s say you are president in a time of a sustained economic slowdown. You initiated a series of big policies that you thought were going to turn the economy around, but they didn’t work — either because they were insufficient or ineffective. How do you run for re-election under these circumstances?

    Do you spend the entire campaign saying that things would have been even worse if you hadn’t acted the way you did? No. That would be pathetic.

    OK, to begin with, this tells us that the stimulus was successful (should be conventional wisdom by now…oh well), as was the bailout of the auto industry (sorry, BoBo).

    And on the subject of “things would have been even worse” had Obama not won election, I think we should consider the following from this March 2008 article in Salon…

    On domestic policy, (Repug presidential candidate John) McCain’s nostrums for the bad economy are job training and “tax cuts.” As Paul Krugman once pointed out, “tax cuts” were Bush’s response to each and every economic problem that arose, however unrealistic they were. Half of all the benefits of Bush’s 2003 tax cut went to millionaires, and the sad impact on ordinary Americans of consequent lack of services and the diversion of wealth to the wealthy, has now become amply apparent. The more economically literate Republicans have caught on to Bush’s “tax cut” shell game. Ironically, John McCain used to be one of them, declining to sign on to some of Bush’s tax cuts. No more.

    By “tax cuts,” Republicans such as McCain mean lowering specific federal taxes on income and capital gains. This step would harm federal income, which will fall anyway if there is an extended recession, and would mainly benefit Americans in the top income brackets. A federal government with less income will be less able to pay for the services and job training ordinary workers and middle-class people need, especially in bad times. Moreover, in a recession, you want the government to spend more money, not less, which cannot be accomplished by reducing its income. McCain, like Bush, seems firmly stuck in 1929.

    This isn’t surprising I suppose, when you consider that John W. McBush said repeatedly that he didn’t know much about the economy, or words to that sorry effect, as noted here. Also, on the subject of Obama’s alleged “socialism” (please – some interesting food for thought on that here), I should point out that McBush’s VP nominee, Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin Dontcha Know, set up something in Alaska, with everyone in the state getting about $3 grand each from oil company fees, that looks more like socialism than anything concocted by Number 44, as noted here.

    Oh, and did you know that BoBo once said that President Obama wouldn’t fit in at an Applebee’s salad bar, or something (particularly funny since Applebee’s doesn’t have salad bars, as noted here), and told our chief executive to “Go visit a factory for once” a matter of days after he had already done so (here)?

    But of course, we can’t expect BoBo to admit that he, along with Mr. “Chunky Reese Witherspoon” himself, are nothing but conservative quota hires for The Old Grey Lady, installed to merely propagate right-wing talking points as opposed to undergoing the frequently arduous work of crafting enlightening commentary whose stated purpose is to educate and inform, providing the vital information upon which we citizens can make informed decisions.

    That would be pathetic.


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