Thursday Mashup (7/17/14)

July 17, 2014
  • As the family and I were about to embark on our vacation (more later on that), I found out that Richard Mellon Scaife had died.

    For the uninitiated (maybe one or two of you out there), I should point out that Scaife founded The Arkansas Project. As noted from here

    The Arkansas Project was created and funded with the sole objective of digging up, and if necessary fabricating, any information that could be used to defame the Clintons and those around them. Over the course of several years, Scaife allocated approximately 2.4 million dollars to the [American] Spectator for sole use in its “investigative” efforts to defame and humiliate Clinton… efforts which resulted in the “revelation” (“fabrication” is perhaps more accurate in most cases) of tabloidesque stories such as the “Troopergate” and Whitewater scandals, Paula Jones’ allegations of sexual harassment, and the legitimization and continuation of conspiracy theories about the death of Deputy White House Counsel and close Clinton friend Vince Foster, among others…

    The “investigative” efforts of those involved in the Arkansas Project eventually led, albeit indirectly, to Clinton’s impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky scandal…

    Over the next thirty years, Scaife alone would contribute $200 million to conservative causes (“The Right’s Big Moneyman”). This growth and expansion of conservative journalism and conservative think tanks, which together formed a cohesive social and political movement, continued throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, bolstered by the Presidency of Ronald Reagan.

    Indeed – as noted from here

    Scaife’s money has established or supported “activist think tanks that have created and marketed conservative ideas from welfare reform to enhanced missile defense; public interest law firms that have won important court cases on affirmative action, property rights and how to conduct the national census; organizations and publications that have nurtured conservatism on American campuses; academic institutions that have employed and promoted the work of conservative intellectuals; watchdog groups that have critiqued and harassed media organizations, and many more.”

    By the way, as the first Daily Kos post points out (the one where Scaife announces his illness and, yet again, creates an opportunity to smear his targets – “oh, woe is me – oppressed by liberals again even though I’m gravely ill”), Scaife’s political donations actually extended back to the Nixon Administration, and Newt Gingrich credited Scaife’s involvement in GOPAC as the main reason for Gingrich’s political ascendancy.

    Ritchie-and-Richard-Mellon-Scaife
    More on Scaife’s family history (basically, the story of how he accumulated his financial largesse) is here. Also, this tells us some of the seamy details of Scaife’s divorce; normally I would leave stuff like that alone, but as long as he punished the Clintons over personal details that, as far as I’m concerned, we never needed to know, I don’t know why Scaife shouldn’t receive the same treatment.

    Before there was Fix Noise and the plethora of conservative web sites out there (to say nothing of right-wing talk radio), there was Richard Mellon Scaife, along with the Birchers, the Klan, John Podhoretz and Commentary Magazine, and of course William F. Buckley and the National Review, along with Paul Weyrich (and I suppose I’m forgetting other infamous right-wing notables). Scaife did his very best to maintain the conservative outrage machine that, once marginalized, now permeates what passes for our political dialogue, enforcing its narratives over just about every policy discussion that takes place affecting this country; the entirely predictable outcome is that we never seem to be able to resolve a critical problem of any type whatsoever (this book documents Scaife’s attacks on the Clintons better than I ever could).

    I don’t know the disposition of Scaife’s remains. However, if he received a burial, then I think the resulting toxicity of the location would necessitate that it be designated as a Superfund cleanup site.

  • Next, I give you the latest from the utterly cretinous Mark Meadows, U.S. House Repug from North Carolina, here

    It was only a matter of time before the new unity government between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, proved to be a deadly agreement for both Palestinians and Israelis.

    I saw the writing on the wall as soon as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) chose to embrace the terrorist group, effectively ending hopes of a peace agreement between the PLO and Israel.

    Really? Then I wonder why Meadows didn’t have anything to say (nothing I could track down anyway) when President Obama’s wretched predecessor did the same thing here?

    Oh, you dumb libtard, I hear some of you cry…yeah, GWB supported the unity government, but he withheld funding for the PLO.

    OK, all well and good. But riddle me this – name for me one president who has had to deal with this type of nonsense from a U.S. Congress related to funding in that area of the world (here)…

    The House Appropriations Committee (recently) approved a 2015 foreign operations bill that bars aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) from some $440 million in proposed funding.

    The Senate’s version of its 2015 foreign operations bill, which includes similar language barring funding to the PA, was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 19.

    Unlike previous years, when the House banned funding for a government over which Hamas “exercises undue influence,” this year’s language targets any type of power-sharing government “that results from an agreement with Hamas.”

    It also imposes strict conditions under which Obama can waive the funding ban. According to language approved last week, Obama must not only certify that the new government recognizes Israel, renounces violence and commits to honor previous agreements, but that it acknowledges Israel as “a Jewish state.”

    Also…

    A much more restrictive bill, introduced in April by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., failed to attract sufficient support by Senate colleagues.

    Labeled the “Stand With Israel Act,” the bill aimed to rescind the president’s right to waive funding for any type of Palestinian unity government.

    Congressional action on the funding halt comes at a time of unprecedented coordination between the PA’s Fatah-commanded security force (PSF) and thousands of Israeli ground troops maneuvering through the West Bank in search of three victims of an alleged Hamas kidnapping.

    Israeli security officials have urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fervently opposed to the Hamas-led government, to refrain from diplomatic or other action that could trigger collapse of ongoing coordination with the PSF.

    Similarly, supporters of Israel who champion a two-state peace deal between Israel and the PA warn that a precipitous halt in US funding will undermine PA President Mahmoud Abbas and ultimately harm Israeli security interests.

    “Funding for the PA’s security services is in Israel’s national security interests,” said Ori Nir, spokesman for the Washington-based Americans for Peace Now public policy organization.

    In a (sic) interview Wednesday, Nir warned that pulling the plug on US aid would harm Israel as much as the PA.

    “Israeli military commanders in the West Bank will tell you just how valuable their security coordination with the PA is. Many deaths of innocent Israelis have been avoided due to this coordination, as has the eruption of mass Palestinian violence,” said Nir, an Arabic-speaking former Israeli journalist who specialized in Palestinian affairs.

    He noted that Abbas has vehemently condemned the June 12 abduction and vowed to uphold security coordination with Israel, which he described as a “sacred” top priority for the new consensus government.

    And as I’m sure many of us know by now, the three Israelis abducted were found dead; it should not be necessary to point out what an indefensible criminal act that is.

    But returning to Washington, D.C. for a minute – according to that supposedly brilliant Republican Party intellectual Rand Paul (try not to laugh too hard), Obama is supposed to agree to an absurdist scheme like this that would limit his own presidential power and could possibly exacerbate an already bad situation, in an area of the world that knows almost nothing but bad situations anymore.

    I defy you to give me an example of a president who has ever had to deal with these types of restrictions from a U.S. Congress on a foreign policy issue.

    If the Repugs on Capitol Hill ever decide to get their act together in this conflict, then I have no problem with them deciding to withhold funding to the new “unity” government. But when that doesn’t turn out to be the quick fix that the wingnuts crave (on this or any issue), then don’t run kicking and screaming to sympathetic media about how that alleged Kenyan Muslim Socialist on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue hates anything having to do with the state of Israel (which, let’s not forget, awarded Obama this – and to read about more lowlights with Meadows, click here).

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

    The president of a Washington state company cited as an example of the Export-Import Bank’s usefulness came out against its re-authorization Tuesday.

    Edmund Schweitzer III, founder and president of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, expressed this opinion in a letter to the editor of the Spokesman-Review.

    “Some Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories customers have used the Ex-Im Bank for financing, at their choosing. SEL does not depend on it, nor encourage it,” he writes. “If the Ex-Im Bank were to disappear, I believe buyers and sellers would find attractive commercial options unencumbered by politics and special interests.”

    I don’t know anything about how businesses operate in Washington State, but when it comes to reauthorizing the export-import bank, Kevin Strouse, Dem candidate for the PA-08 U.S. House seat currently held by Mikey the Beloved, had this to say…

    Bristol, PA — (On 7/10/14) (Strouse), former Army Ranger and Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 8th District, called on Congressman Fitzpatrick to sign on to a bipartisan letter urging Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to bring export-import bank reauthorization to the floor for a vote.

    This letter, supported by the Chamber of Commerce, urges House Leadership to reauthorize the federally backed export-import bank, which was founded in 1934 to help American businesses finance foreign sales. The bank has a long history of bipartisan support as a common sense tool for supporting American business and creating jobs. If Congress fails to act by September 30th, the bank’s charter will expire.

    Kevin Strouse remarked that reauthorizing the bank is a common sense solution for economic growth in the 8th District. “Congressman Fitzpatrick and his Tea Party allies have created such a culture of dysfunction in Washington that they won’t even allow their Republican Congress to pass a historically bipartisan, pro-business measure. We need new leaders in Washington who can put an end to this senseless dysfunction and work towards common sense solutions to help spur economic opportunity and create jobs for the middle class,” said Strouse.

    Strouse continued, “There are 23 businesses in the 8th District directly impacted by this issue–failure to immediately act to reauthorize the export-import bank would be only the latest example of Congressman Fitzpatrick and this Republican Congress allowing their self-interested dysfunction to hurt Pennsylvania’s economy and jobs…”

    Sounds like common sense to me, as opposed to the idiocy routinely inflicted by Mikey and his pals in Congress (to help Kevin, click here).

  • Continuing (and staying with PA politics on the state level this time), I came across this item from the Philadelphia Inquirer…

    High-powered Democrats have asked political novice Steve Cickay to withdraw from what is viewed as a pivotal Bucks County state Senate race, according to sources familiar with the discussions, and give way to Shaughnessy Naughton – who lost in the May primary in her bid for a congressional seat.

    Leading party operatives, including former Gov. Ed Rendell and State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Philadelphia), believe Naughton’s name recognition and her ability to appeal to female voters make her a stronger candidate to take on two-term incumbent Chuck McIlhinney, the sources said.

    Naughton, 35, also could use whatever leftover campaign funds she stockpiled during her congressional run for a state Senate bid, two election-law experts said, potentially giving her more resources to challenge McIlhinney than Cickay, who has struggled with fund-raising.

    The race could be crucial for state Democrats, who are eager to wrangle control of the Senate from Republicans but have a limited number of winnable seats statewide, political experts say.

    So far, Cickay, 59, has shown little desire to leave the race, saying he’s gotten a positive response while campaigning.

    “I start something, I finish it,” he said in an interview. “I feel an obligation to these people that voted for me. . . . I feel I owe it to them to finish.”

    (Before I comment on the substance of this story, I’d like to point out something to the supposed “webmaster” at philly.com. I saw this story in the hardcopy edition of the paper, and I tried multiple search combinations using keywords from this article, both at Google’s main page and also at the philly.com site, and the only way I managed to come across the link to the story was from another post by a local aggregator. Basically, I don’t know how philly.com’s search algorithms are constructed, but in my admittedly imperfect opinion, I would say that they need work.)

    OK, now to the story…I didn’t include the excerpt above pointing out that Shaughnessy Naughton reported about $158,000 in cash on hand as of April 30th from her recent PA-08 primary contest won by Kevin Strouse. I also didn’t note that Cickay had only $1,717 in cash on hand as of June 9, according to campaign records, compared with more than $150,000 for McIlhinney.

    So yeah, it’s entirely possible that, if Cickay stays in the race and keeps Naughton out, he could get completely wiped out by McIlhinney in the general election (and Ed Rendell supported Naughton in the PA-08 Dem primary a little while ago, just for the record).

    But while I begrudge nothing to Naughton, who has the right to seek any elective office she chooses, I want to say something in defense of Steve Cickay.

    I realize the Inquirer isn’t in the business of giving a plug to another newspaper, one that is a rival in a portion of its coverage area, so I don’t expect them to note how prominent a voice Cickay is on the Op-Ed page of the Bucks County Courier Times. In the midst of the interminable flotsam of wingnuttery that frequents that section, Cickay is a tireless voice on behalf of the environment, the middle class, and the economy overall, as well as women, LGBT individuals, the poor, the sick, and the elderly; Steve’s commentary is a welcome reprieve from the avalanche of duuuh! that all too often fills up editorial column space in that paper. And you know his words carry an impact based on the parade of mischaracterizations and insults from the great unwashed in response to his thoughtful commentary.

    As much as I don’t like the Repugs, sometimes I honestly think they’ve learned the lesson that all politics are ultimately local, as opposed to the Democrats on occasions such as this one. And I’m sure Naughton could put up a real scrap against McIlhinney, but Steve Cickay has been doing that all along, and I think it’s wrong to just tell him to go away because of paltry funding numbers.

    If you’re so inclined to help Steve as much as your means allows (an uphill fight to be sure), please click here.

  • Finally, I just want to take a minute and report that your humble narrator and the family spent last week at Martha’s Vineyard (we were sent there to scout locations for the Obamas – joke). The weather was perfect, and it was a welcome respite that we all needed. We were able to frequent the Net Result for lobsters at Vineyard Haven, the Art Cliff Diner (same location) as well as Nancy’s and Coup de Ville in Oak Bluffs; we also took jaunts to Menemsha, Edgartown, and Chillmark. We were saddened a bit to hear about the beach erosion at Squibnocket and the encroachment upon the shoreline at Aquinnah, which has put the light house in jeopardy (if you can help with the effort to save it, click here…I should note that Aquinnah is the Wampanoag Indian geographic reference for Gay Head – the Wampanoags settled there long ago; you can come up with your own scatological references if you wish).

    And to answer your question, no, I’m definitely not rich. It just made sense for us to spend the money we would probably have spent on a Jersey shore rental on a location we already know, and one that is surrounded by water and everything else we were looking for in the way of a summer break (also, speaking of the Vineyard, we recently observed the 15th anniversary of the tragic plane crash in that area that took the life of John Kennedy, Jr., his wife and her sister).

    The reason why I’m telling you this is because, in addition to the connector bridge from 95 to 195 East outside of Providence, RI (when we last made the trip in ’08, that area was nothing but construction full of closed lanes and cattle chutes – now, the transition from 95 onto the bridge and 195 is effortless), there was something else we noticed during our travels that was new.

    wind_turbine
    And that was these things that dotted the landscape across Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including the Vineyard. And they actually aren’t eyesores.

    As noted here, Connecticut has committed to 23 percent of its total energy portfolio from renewable sources (including wind) by 2020. Also, this tells us that Rhode Island and Massachusetts are “on the leading edge of offshore wind energy development.”

    I’ll admit that I’m a bit torn on this issue, because I don’t support the so-called Cape Wind project to install 133 wind turbines in the middle of Nantucket Sound (more here). Yes, I get it that that’s the highest concentration of wind in the area, but I honestly think more work needs to be done to estimate what would be a cataclysmic impact to the Sound’s ecosystem.

    I wondered, though, what would possibly be a driving force behind the embrace of wind power in those three states (although, technically, Massachusetts is a commonwealth, similar to PA in that regard). And it occurred to me that all three are run by Democratic governors: Dannel Malloy in Connecticut, Lincoln Chaffee in Rhode Island, and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts.

    So just remember, people – if you want renewable energy, vote for Democrats, gubernatorial candidates in particular (including this guy).

    One final comment about the trip; this isn’t meant as a knock on any public radio station in our area, but absolutely none of them compare with WMVY, which has a terrific song mix (I could count on one hand the songs I head multiple times during the week) and engaging personalities; hell, I could even tolerate the commercials. It was truly a pleasure to listen to the station during the week, just as it was six years ago, particularly since they were off the air for a time but managed to return unbroken, as it were, as noted here. Well done!

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    Monday Mashup (8/3/09)

    August 3, 2009

  • This column of “analysis” courtesy of the AP’s Liz Sidoti tells us the following…

    Obama is approaching (the challenges of his agenda, including health care reform) as he did the (election) in 2008 — at least in style, for top advisers recognize that Obama himself is his presidency’s best asset.

    The strategy comes with a risk of overexposure, a diluting of the Obama “brand” advisers are so careful to protect. Many politicians over the years have had difficulty translating campaign success into governing success.

    Probably most all politicians, I’d imagine…

    So far, it seems that Obama’s postelection campaigning has helped convert his popularity into support for his policies. He successfully lobbied for passage of the economic stimulus only to watch the public grow skeptical of its effects.

    I swear, I just find this stuff people – I honestly don’t look that hard for it (and by the way, this projects that 750,000 “stim” jobs will be added by August – and yes, I know the data is from the White House, but Obama economic adviser Christina Romer will be reporting to Congress regularly, so there’ll be plenty of chances to “call BS” if that is needed).

    And the AP actually even ends up in deeper doo-doo here than in Sidoti’s “watch the public grow skeptical of (the stim’s) effects” horse hockey…

    WASHINGTON (AP) – The success of President Barack Obama’s ambitious agenda _ from health care and climate change to education _ could depend on how quickly he recovers from the sharp drop in support among white voters after criticizing a white policeman’s arrest of a black Harvard scholar.

    Obama’s impromptu comments about the incident could become a defining moment. Nearly immediately after Obama’s remark that police had “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates, his approval rating plummeted among whites, dropping over two days from 53 percent to 46 percent in a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

    If Obama is to have success with the policy changes he wants, he can’t afford to shed white support. Not to mention the disaster that losing the affections of many in the blue-collar, Reagan Democrat constituency would spell for any re-election campaign.

    Silly me – I never considered a seven-point slide as a “plummet,” but I’m just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, so what do I know? And can anyone seriously explain to me why some pundit would care about how a politician’s actions would affect a likely re-election campaign that is three years away???

    (Oh, there goes Obama losing those “disaffected white people” again? Why, whatever shall we do??!!).

    In response to both Sidoti and Loven, this tells us the following (quoting the same Pew poll)…

    While the American public has grown more critical of Obama’s handling of the economy and budget deficit over the last few months, majorities continue to express optimism about his ability to fix the economy and deal with the budget deficit in the long term. As in June and April, more than six-in-ten (63%) say they are optimistic that Obama’s policies will improve the economy, and more than half (55%) say they are optimistic that he can reduce the budget deficit over time. The views of political independents account in part for the disparity between Obama’s sinking approval ratings and the continued optimism that he will succeed. Independents remain largely optimistic, but critical of the way the president is currently dealing with the economy and budget deficit. In contrast, partisans tend to see it just one way – Democrats mostly approve of Obama’s performance and are overwhelmingly optimistic about his policies. Republicans mostly disapprove and are pessimistic.

    Trying to right our economy from the ruinous Bushco reign will be a long, hard slog (like me, I’m sure you heard Obama and most Democrats use words to that effect). Basically, these approval numbers won’t mean much one way or the other for at least a year (with the gubernatorial elections this year and the congressional/gubernatorial ones next year as the best indicators as to whether or not voters believe that the “stim” is working – to be realistic, though, what else could Obama and the congressional Dems have done?).

    And by the mid-terms of 2010 and beyond, the only ones who will still care about the Gates/Crowley dustup are people who probably wouldn’t vote for Obama anyway.

  • I also encountered this somewhat interesting item (only somewhat) from J.D. Mullane’s column in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday (see, Bucks County’s Journalistic Mistake did some preliminary shopping to try and replace his 1998 Chrysler Town and Country Minivan, and in the process, tells us the following about the “Cash for Clunkers” program, which hopefully will get more money from the Senate shortly, as noted here)…

    According to its Web site, Cash for Clunkers is “a $1 billion government program that helps consumers buy or lease a more environmentally friendly vehicle from a participating dealer when they trade in a less fuel-efficient car or truck. The program is designed to energize the economy; boost auto sales and put safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the nation’s roadways.”

    Fine, fine. I just want a deal. If it makes a few global warmists happy, it’s win-win.

    Under the program, which is modeled on a European plan, the U.S. government will credit a car buyer up to $4,500 toward the car purchase. I checked the Department of Transportation Web site. My clunker qualifies.

    With three kids, I need a minivan. It’s practical. But, under Cash for Clunkers, I cannot get the same vehicle. The 2009 Town and Country does not qualify, since it gets a combined city/highway mileage of just 18 mpg, a measly one more mile per gallon than my present heap.

    However, what does qualify me for $4,500 is either impractical (Toyota Yaris), an ego crusher (“Smart Car”), or both (Prius).

    I’m not sure exactly how J.D. completed the online form here aside from what he tells us, but a cursory review of the vehicle selections tells us that Mullane could have also selected a Saturn VUE Hybrid, which ranks 20th out of the 26 most affordable hybrid SUVs (MSRP $28,160, 32 MPG Hwy, 25 MPG City). It has a 2.4L engine with 172hp, so I’ll admit that it might not have the “jump” Mullane would want, but it would be economical anyway.

    The Chevy Colorado is also available (a 4-door, up to 6 passenger compact pickup, with a standard 2.9 liter, 185-horsepower engine that achieves 18 MPG in the city and 26 mpg on the highway). This is a bit more of a heavy duty vehicle that Mullane could drive anywhere (probably a bumpy ride for the kids, though).

    And if our hero really wants to splurge on price, he could go for the Buick Enclave Minivan ($35-$43K), with its 3.7L engine and 16 City – 21 Highway mileage estimates (notice that the lower the mileage estimates, the more expensive the vehicle).

    Now I don’t know whether or not a buyer would receive a credit or a voucher in the amount of $4500 for each of these vehicles, but I’m merely trying to point out that there is a more diverse selection out there than Mullane would have us believe.

    Oh, and by the way, good luck retiring on that $35,000 “nest egg.”

  • Finally, I came across this column recently from John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News, in which he laments the fact that President Obama is heading to Martha’s Vineyard for a vacation shortly…

    … I wonder if folks newly or recently unemployed (the national unemployment rate of 9.5 percent is the highest since 1983, more than a quarter-century ago) forced to cancel family vacations are cheered by Obama headed to The Vineyard.

    It’s an island off the south coast of Cape Cod, an exclusive summer haven for the rich and famous, including the Clintons, David Letterman, actors such as Meg Ryan and Bill Murray, TV network types such as Mike Wallace and Diane Sawyer – in other words, hardly a slice of Americana.

    Those who view Obama as an elitist will have new ammunition.

    Now before I begin, I should note that Baer is a bit more of a “straight shooter” than most; he says at the beginning that, though he’s criticizing Obama, he also tells us that he didn’t appreciate the frequent vacations by Commander Codpiece during wartime either (who, let’s not forget, set a record for the most vacation days while in office, shattering the mark previously set by The Sainted Ronnie R).

    But if there’s one thing I get incredibly tired of reading, it’s someone waxing indignant about Martha’s Vineyard because it’s supposed to be some place where only the hoi poloi congregate.

    That, most definitely, is not true (I should put this post in a place where I can merely recycle it every year, since this comes up every summer). Me, the missus and the young one have visited the island three times, and I can tell you that we most definitely are not likely to be caricatured in a “New Yorker” cartoon anytime soon (well, hopefully not one by Gahan Wilson, anyway).

    There’s the touristy part (Vineyard Haven), the part where middle class families have established themselves over time, including Portuguese and African Americans (Oak Bluffs), the “old money” part of the island (Edgartown), the places where the celebrity enclaves are probably located (Chillmark, West Tisbury, Lambert’s Cove, as well as Chappy), and the section where most of those who fish for an income as well as for recreation congregate (“Menemsha,” where “Jaws” was filmed). There’s a lot more to the island than that, but that’s enough for now.

    And actually, I’d like to think that, because everybody can, for the most part, get along, live their lives and enjoy themselves (no easy feat on and island with virtually no traffic lights – I haven’t been able to find one, anyway), the island is more of a “slice of Americana” than most people, including Baer, will ever realize.


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