Monday Mashup (8/27/12)

August 27, 2012
  • Oh noes! According to Fix Noise, it looks like those baaad Democrats are at it again (here)…

    Tropical Storm Isaac isn’t the only force threatening to rain on the Republican National Convention next week.

    Democrats are planning to break from the tradition of keeping a low profile during the rival party’s convention, dispatching Vice President Biden to the host city and putting other A-list surrogates on the campaign trail to perhaps steal some of the spotlight.

    This tells us that, though Biden had changed his anticipated travel plans to Tampa, he decided to cancel them altogether in light of Tropical Storm Isaac.

    Also, I don’t know what this double-secret unwritten rule about the other party supposedly lying low or something during the other party’s convention is all about.

    Well, maybe I should clarify that a bit; the Repugs did indeed keep a low profile during the 2004 Democratic Party Convention in which the Kerry/Edwards ticket was nominated (as I recall), but as noted here, that didn’t mean that they weren’t busy gathering material to attack the Democratic ticket (and let’s not forget that the 2004 smear-fest included the disgusting mockery of Kerry’s purple heart citations, as noted here, with that imbecile from Texas with the Band-Aid on her chin forever enshrined as one of the worst practitioners).

    And as noted here, Patrick Buchanan put together a fairly detailed blueprint to help the Nixon White House spy on the Democrats during their convention in 1972 (and as noted here, Willard Mitt himself was responsible for mischief in Maine, co-starring the odious Ben Ginsberg of Florida 2000 infamy, and here in Nevada during the recent primary season).

    As long as I’m on the subject, though, this provides some links to convention-related material (including the Repugs outlawing abortion under any circumstances as one of the “planks” in their platform, as noted here – a shame some of these nitwits can’t be hit over the head with it), and this provides a bit of a lesson in unintended consequences (seriously, I hope no one gets hurt from that or weather-related misery).


    And I think it’s waay beyond hilarious that Willard Mitt Romney and his people won’t even allow this guy the chance to speak a single word.

  • Next, this tells us the following…

    Three Republican Federal Election Commissioners have found that unions or corporations can compel employees to campaign for political candidates in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

    In a Statement of Reasons memorandum signed on August 21, 2012, the commissioners contend that the United Public Workers union (UPW) was within its legal right to require employees to “provide support for Hawaii Fist Congressional District candidate Colleen Hanabusa’s candidacy in a special congressional election on May 22, 2010.” The case stemmed from a complaint in which two employees alleged that they were fired after refusing “to comply with a UPW request to sign-wave, phone bank, canvass, and contribute to Hanabusa’s campaign.” The GOP commissioners found that current law and regulations do not prohibit employers from requiring participation…

    Maybe I’m supposed to say this is OK because Hanabusa is a Democrat, but there’s a larger principle involved here; namely, it is that no union or corporate entity should have the legal right to compel anyone on its membership or payroll to vote in a way that is in opposition to their interests or political opinion.

    The three commissioners who said what the UPW did was OK, by the way, are Caroline C. Hunter, Donald F. McGahn II and Matthew S. Petersen. And is it any surprise at all that all three were nominated by George W. Bush?

    And as you might expect, this isn’t the first time that the FEC commissioners in question have run afoul on the issue of free speech, IMHO. Here, Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 criticized Hunter and Petersen for voting not to pursue an investigation against the so-called Economic Freedom Fund. Wertheimer and the Campaign Legal Center alleged that the EFF, a 527 group, “violated the law by failing to register as a political committee and failing to abide by the disclosure requirements and contribution limits that apply to such committees, notwithstanding EFF’s extensive election-related activities immediately prior to the 2006 election.”

    In addition, CREW alleged here that McGahn, Petersen and Hunter were “working in concert with Republican campaign finance attorneys and outside groups to undermine election laws and thwart enforcement of what laws remain after the Citizens United decision.”

    And as noted here

    In April, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) asked the FEC to close the loophole (by which the identities of Super PAC donors did not have to be identified) for “independent expenditures” (versus “political” expenditures) and filed a lawsuit challenging the loophole for “electioneering communications.”

    Last month the six FEC commissioners killed — on a 3-3 vote — a motion to begin consideration of Van Hollen’s suggestions. By law, the agency may have only three members of any political party. By tradition, the president chooses three commissioners and the other party’s Senate leader chooses three. The three Republican appointees — Commissioners Caroline Hunter, Donald McGahn II and Matthew Petersen — were the three “no” votes. The same trio also made headlines last month when they took the view that even coordination between Super PACs and candidates might not qualify as coordination between Super PACs and candidates.

    The lawsuit is still pending.

    Because of these loopholes, virtually none of the funders behind the Super PAC attack ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will be disclosed until well after the voters there have cast their ballots. And the funders behind 501(c)(4) attack ads may never be known.

    So while it was the Supreme Court’s majority that opened the floodgates for corporate money in our elections, it is the deadlocked FEC that is keeping voters from even knowing where that money comes from.


    Someday, the legacy of this assclown will truly be dead, buried, and long forgotten. And that day can’t come soon enough.

  • Finally, I thought Mr. Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv-Behind-His-Back made a startling revelation here

    Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) began resurrecting some of President Obama’s most famous gaffes on the campaign trail Tuesday, reminding a crowd assembled at a Pennsylvania steel plant of the president’s remark four years ago that some voters are “clinging to their guns and religion.”

    “Remember this other time when he said people want to cling to their guns and religion?” Ryan said. “Hey, I’m a Catholic deer hunter, I’m happy to be clinging to my guns and religion.”

    Ryan has repeatedly cited his Catholic faith while campaigning in swing states in recent days.

    Well, putting aside this concerning Ryan and how he allegedly practices his “faith,” as noted here, I’m beginning to wonder now if what Obama originally said was a “gaffe” after all.

    I mean, Ryan just validated Obama’s point, didn’t he?

    Does that mean that we’ll now hear an apology from William Kristol and John McCain for their allegations of Obama’s supposed elitism for stating what is plainly obvious (and what Ryan, in a rare moment of candor for him, just admitted – noted here)? Or an apology from Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, George Will, Kevin Ferris or J.D. Mullane, among many others (with the latter claiming that Obama expressed “bigotry” in his remarks, as noted here)?

    Or from “Joe Scar,” as noted here?

    (Yes, I know – cue the sound of crickets…)

    In ’08, then-candidate Obama stepped on a “third rail,” if you will, because, as an African American politician (and, Heaven forbid, a Democrat), you just aren’t supposed to talk about “cultural” issues affecting white people. You…just…aren’t.

    Given this, it is a tribute to his consummate political skill (as well as the craven cluelessness of his opposition) that he was subsequently elected to anything whatsoever.

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    Monday Mashup Part 1 (11/30/09)

    November 30, 2009

  • 1) I detected a bit of an inconsistency with the following from Republican political strategist Ed Rollins in this CNN editorial…

    …Michaele and Tareq Salahi want to be famous as stars of reality television. I am all for that. Give them a reality television series and call it “Trial and Jailtime” in the D.C. criminal justice system. This despicable, desperate, duplicitous couple disgraced the Secret Service and embarrassed the president in his home.

    If someone wants to bring charges against these two and investigate how they came face-to-face with the President of the United States the other night at the state dinner for the Indian prime minister and his wife, then I would tend to think that that’s a good idea.

    However, it would have been nice if we had heard such outrage from Rollins and his pals when James Guckert (under the alias “Jeff Gannon”) accessed the White House and was admitted to the White House press briefing room on day press passes for almost two years, even though the following was true:

    • (Gannon had) no media experience other than a two-day training course at The Leadership Institute’s Broadcast School of Journalism.
    • (Gannon) was denied media credentials April 7, 2004, by the “Standing Committee of Correspondents, the press body that oversees the distribution of credentials on Capitol Hill.”
    • (Gannon) was not working for a recognized media outlet.
    • (Gannon) had access to the White House press briefing room before Talon News (a “psuedo-news” organization tied to a right-wing web site; it was the alleged news site Gannon worked for) was operational.

    So to sum up, Rollins thinks that the two gate crashers at the state dinner recently held at the White House should be prosecuted, but neither he nor anyone else in his party thinks Jeff Gannon should pay any price whatsoever, considering that he “somehow bypassed both Secret Service and FBI screening to access the White House press room.”

    And Rollins wrote this for CNN.

    We’ll have to “leave it there.”

  • 2) I felt like I was taking a bit of a trip back in time when I read through this “Politico” rehash of Republican talking points, called “7 ‘Stories’ Obama Doesn’t Want Told” (including the following – I’ll explain in a minute)…

    People used to make fun of Bill Clinton’s misty-eyed, raspy-voiced claims that, “I feel your pain.”

    The reality, however, is that Clinton’s dozen years as governor before becoming president really did leave him with a vivid sense of the concrete human dimensions of policy. He did not view programs as abstractions — he viewed them in terms of actual people he knew by name.

    Obama, a legislator and law professor, is fluent in describing the nuances of problems. But his intellectuality has contributed to a growing critique that decisions are detached from rock-bottom principles.

    Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

    The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

    (Oh, by the way, this is “story” number two of seven – insert your snark here.)

    So basically, what we have here is a “reboot,” if you will, of the Al Gore “Ozone Man” narrative of the 2000 election (as the punditocracy told us, Gore was intellectual, not a “common man” like George W. Bush, couldn’t decide whether or not he was an “alpha male” and was therefore a liar, etc. – I know I’m leaving some other contrived mythology on Gore, but you get the idea).

    And it’s appropriate actually that Harris would mention MoDo here since, perhaps more than anyone else (here), she piled onto the former veep during the campaign over Gore’s “obsessions about global warming and the information highway”; she also compared Gore to the “wackadoo wing of the Democratic Party” for his criticism of the Iraq war; and has repeatedly furthered numerous falsehoods about Gore, such as that Gore once claimed to have “invented the Internet” (guess there was no way to avoid that one) and that author Naomi Wolf advised Gore on his wardrobe.

    And by the way, I would not have blamed Dowd or anyone else if what they wrote was legitimate, verifiable criticism instead of corporate media idiocy.

    But getting back to Obama, John Harris of Politico takes note of the president’s “peculiar” bow to the Japanese emperor and concludes with the following…

    Obama’s best hope of nipping bad storylines is to replace them with good ones rooted in public perceptions of his effectiveness.

    Of course, there’s no word on whether or not Harris and his playmates will actually take note of those “good ones” (such as Obama’s speech before Congress on health care and not taking the bait of the oafish Joe “You Lie” Wilson) as opposed to rehashing the bad ones instead for the millionth time.

  • Update 1 12/1/09: And while The Politico concocts dookey like this, blogger Nathan Newman actually went to work and reported on achievements of the Obama Administration here (of course, too bad that reality conflicts with Harris’s dumb narratives – hat tip to Chris Bowers of Open Left).

    Update 2 12/1/09: “Spock this” indeed – ha, ha, ha.

  • 3) And finally, here is more unintentional comedy from “Z on TV”…

    A consensus is starting to build that says so far, Barack Obama has been a lot better at playing a president on TV than actually being one in 2009.

    Maybe it is the arrival of the holidays and the inescapable realization that our president has seemed to be mostly indifferent to the millions of Americans who are out of work and can’t even start to think of holiday cheer. While the White House has been focused in recent months on such misguided campaigns as trying to beat Fox News into submission for daring to criticize him, more and more Americans are wondering why the president hasn’t heard their growing cries of desperation. That’s what the intensity and outrage of the town halls were really about during the summer. But the tin ears in the administration didn’t hear it. They were too busy booking the president on every talk show on television — as long as it wasn’t on Fox News.

    You know, it’s really hilarious to read someone like Zurawik criticize Obama for “playing president” (and any proof on this emerging “consensus,” by the way?) after less than a year in office after we all had to endure the antics of Commander Codpiece since he was installed into An Oval Office in November 2000 (I’ll tell you what, Z – let me know if Obama “drops in” on our troops with a plastic Thanksgiving turkey like 43 did here, and maybe I’ll take you seriously, OK?).

    And as far as Obama being “indifferent” to Americans out of work, all I can ask is which party supported the “Stim” and which one didn’t (and which president signed it into law – this tells us that the ARRA “added roughly 2.3 percentage points to real GDP growth in the second quarter “ and created or saved between 660,000 and 1.1 million jobs…and I didn’t recall hearing a plan for a “stimulus” from the Palin/McBush ticket last year).

    Also, as far as Obama appearing on every talk show except Fix Noise, is “Z” aware that Obama was interviewed here by Major Garrett on November 19th? And another thing… anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the corporate “Astro-turf” support behind the teabaggers and their faux outrage over the summer is suffering from a serious case of reality avoidance anyway (here).

    And finally, how’s this for a “Z” “mea culpa”…

    Don’t blame me on this one, folks. I have been saying this since early in the year, and generally catching hell for it even from some of my colleagues.

    If you, Z, as a salaried media pundit who writes for a living, don’t even have the fortitude to take some criticism, then stick to writing about TV “reality” shows and Tiger Woods’ vehicle accident instead (or the White House “gate crashers” I noted previously), and leave political criticism for those who do even a bare minimum of research to make their case.


  • Try Driving To Stay Alive Instead

    July 22, 2009

    cellphoneOver the last few days, the New York Times has provided extensive coverage on the issue of driving while talking on a cell phone (hands-on or hands-free) and texting (Matt Richtel is the author of the thorough reporting on this issue, particularly last Sunday but today also).

    Last Sunday’s report featured the following information…

    A 2003 Harvard study estimated that cell phone distractions caused 2,600 traffic deaths every year, and 330,000 accidents that result in moderate or severe injuries.

    Yet Americans have largely ignored that research. Instead, they increasingly use phones, navigation devices and even laptops to turn their cars into mobile offices, chat rooms and entertainment centers, making roads more dangerous.

    A disconnect between perception and reality worsens the problem. New studies show that drivers overestimate their own ability to safely multitask, even as they worry about the dangers of others doing it.

    Device makers and auto companies acknowledge the risks of multitasking behind the wheel, but they aggressively develop and market gadgets that cause distractions.

    Police in almost half of all states make no attempt to gather data on the problem. They are not required to ask drivers who cause accidents whether they were distracted by a phone or other device. Even when officers do ask, some drivers are not forthcoming.

    The federal government warns against talking on a cell phone while driving, but no state legislature has banned it. This year, state legislators introduced about 170 bills to address distracted driving, but passed fewer than 10.

    Five states and the District of Columbia require drivers who talk on cell phones to use hands-free devices, but research shows that using headsets can be as dangerous as holding a phone because the conversation distracts drivers from focusing on the road.

    Oh, and as noted here (and as Richtel tells us today), the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration recommended in 2002 and 2003 that cell phones not be used except in emergencies. However, as the story tells us, “that recommendation was kept from the public, partly over worries that members of Congress and other public officials would consider the proposal a move by the NHTSA that ‘crossed the line into lobbying,’” The New York Times reported, according to MSNBC (as noted here, the NHTSA administrator at the time was Dr. Jeffrey Runge).

    (Bushco, working to screw you over, as always – even though they’re gone, their wretched legacy lives on).

    The Times’ Sunday story began with the tale of Christopher Hill, a good driver and a good person by all appearances who experienced a horrendous lapse in judgment when talking on a cell phone; he ran a red light in his Ford Ranger pickup truck and didn’t notice Linda Doyle, a driver in a small sport utility vehicle, until the last second. As the story tells us, Hill hit her going 45 miles per hour (and) she was pronounced dead shortly after the accident.

    The story also tells us that David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah and a leading researcher in the field of distracted driving, said “we’ve spent billions on air bags, antilock brakes, better steering, safer cars and roads, but the number of fatalities has remained constant…Our return on investment for those billions is zero (because) we’re using devices in our cars.”

    And the story also tells us that that goes for hands-free phones also (echoing today’s findings), which also demands more of our time behind the wheel than we can spare when trying to avoid accidents on the road.

    Also…

    Some states have overcome opposition to pass restrictions. Joe Simitian, a state senator in California, managed to get his hands-free legislation, an effort he began in 2001, passed in 2006. He argued, based on data collected by the California Highway Patrol, that drivers using cell phones caused more fatalities than all the drivers distracted by eating, children, pets or personal hygiene.

    In each previous year, the bill was killed — after lobbying by cell phone carriers, including Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. Mr. Simitian said that in the first two years, he would visit the offices of his colleagues on the Transportation Committee on the day of the vote and “find three cell phone industry lobbyists sitting in the legislator’s office,” Mr. Simitian said. “They’d just smile.”

    He said they fought him even though their brochures said that distracted driving was dangerous. The exception was Verizon Wireless, which supported his efforts from the start.

    Opposition gradually eased, and his bill requiring use of headsets while driving took effect in July 2008. In the first six months the California law was in effect, a preliminary California Highway Patrol estimate showed that fatalities dropped 12.5 percent — saving 200 lives. Mr. Simitian said it was too soon to determine whether the law or other factors caused the drop.

    Mr. Simitian said one reason political opposition eased was that fellow legislators saw the dangers firsthand. “They’d come to me and say: ‘You may be bringing me around. I almost got creamed at the corner,’ ” he recalled.

    For its part, the cell phone industry trade group said it had dropped its objection to restricting cell phone use by drivers — it now is neutral on the subject — because it decided the industry should play no role in trying to shape public policy on the issue. “The change came after we had an epiphany that, if you will, we’re in the business of providing service, and how they use that service is at their discretion,” said Mr. Walls, the industry spokesman.

    But Mr. Windsor from Nationwide Mutual and others are skeptical of the cell phone industry’s explanation. They believe its position changed because its business has changed to rely less on total minutes that people spend talking. Cell phone companies’ growth is coming more from customers surfing the Internet, downloading games and using other data services — things that people typically do less of behind the wheel.

    Mr. Simitian believes that a ban on talking on cell phones while driving would save even more lives. But he hasn’t proposed one, and has no plans to. “It’s a political nonstarter,” he said. “It’ll be a cold day in hell before people give up their phones altogether in cars.”

    At this point, I need to share the following observation. We recently drove the Doomsymobile to the Jersey shore and back as well as to the Phillies game and back on Monday and counted about half a dozen people playing with their cell phones looking to retrieve messages, check a contact list, or God knows what else. And they were doing this both while stuck in traffic and trying to maintain their speed on the highway (and I’ve lost count of the number of distracted drivers I have to share the road with who are engrossed in cell phone conversations).

    (I don’t know if anyone else out there besides me is old enough to remember this, but back when high schools offered driver education – I don’t know whether that has been chopped from school budgets or not, but if it has, it should be reinstituted – a requirement of the training was to watch this horrendously scary short film called “Signal 30” I believe, which shows the aftermath of an auto accident. As far as I’m concerned, this should be required viewing for anyone attempting to receive a driver’s license.)

    Now that I’m finished with my rant on this subject, I’ll provide this link to a post with extensive information on PA cell phone legislation, and this tells us of a cell phone driving bill that was recently defeated in the PA State House by a narrow margin (and yes, people do a whole host of nutty things behind the wheel, and I’ll admit that I haven’t exactly been a “saint” either at times, but the amendment offered by Rep Chris Ross concerning “changing the CD in a car, eating or drinking while driving, shaving, putting on makeup and driving with your pet animal on your lap” is just a bit of overkill).

    I realize that, ultimately, what we are trying to do here is legislate good behavior (a quixotic effort at best, I know), particularly given that the whole “gadgets” biz cares only about feeding our perceived need to endanger our lives while we entertain ourselves (and a spot-on column by MoDo today amplifies that point also).

    What we need, however, is a “push back” of common sense in response (and let us all hope and pray for no more lost lives before that day finally arrives).


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