Friday Mashup (11/30/12)

December 1, 2012
  • To begin, let’s take on the “crazy” right away with Joseph Curl of the formerly Moonie Times (here – a little behind on some of this stuff, I’ll admit)…

    Sure, the president got his minions to drop the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent a couple months before the election (“See? It IS getting better!”). But bam, just like you can be sure that the one relative who drives you nuts will absolutely make it to your house for the holidays, new jobless claims skyrocketed right after Nov. 6, jumping to 439,000 — up 78,000 from the week before the election.

    Oh yes, that Kenyan Muslim socialist pre-zee-zint cooked the unemployment numbers to win the election. Horrors!

    I thought this was a good response to the Ohio/Pennsylvania thing; namely, the state unemployment numbers are a week behind the federal numbers, and the state numbers in question weren’t released until November 10th – the federal Sandy-influenced numbers were released on November 3rd, with New Jersey being the 3rd-highest state in unemployment behind Ohio and PA…a fortuitous break for Obama to be sure, but definitely not an “OMIGOD ANOTHER SCARY MUSLIM BLACK MAN CONSPIRACY!!!” (what matters is whether or not the numbers turn out to be a trend or an aberration, and how much the numbers are attributed to OMIGOD THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF!!!).

    With all of this in mind, Joe Nocera defends the Bureau of Labor Statistics here against the charge (made by Jack Welch and other greed heads) that Obama cooked the numbers (and I thought this was a good response also, with the trend lines providing the key details).

  • Next, this life form at clownhall.com tells us of the supposed “job killing” FDA-required menu labeling guidelines for calories stipulated in Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act (which allegedly requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, including franchises and perhaps some grocery stores, to post calorie information for all products on in-store menu boards).

    I’m not exactly sure how this could be deemed as an issue, since, as noted here, the FDA withdrew food menu guidelines as of January 2011.

  • Continuing, this article from the Murdoch Street Journal tells us the following…

    The former chief executive of Massey Energy Co. said in a rare interview that he has no immediate plans to return to the coal-mining business after a noncompete agreement expires at the end of the year.

    (Don) Blankenship has started a personal website and began posting again on Twitter.

    A controversial figure in the coal industry and West Virginia politics, (Blankenship) has largely kept himself out of the spotlight since retiring from Massey in December 2010, eight months after an explosion—the industry’s worst in 40 years—killed 29 workers at the company’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va.

    In recent weeks, the 62-year-old Mr. Blankenship has launched a red-white-and-blue-themed personal website and began posting again on Twitter, raising speculation that he might be preparing to launch a business venture or even a political campaign.

    Well well now, isn’t that interesting? Imagine the utter nightmare of a Senator Don Blankenship, people.

    In response, there’s a ton of garbage here on Blankenship, including telling us that he considers the science on climate change to be “humorous” (not surprising, given that Blankenship made his fortune in coal) and that mountaintop removal for coal mining is “small afterdamage”; we also learn that Massey disabled the mine methane monitors before the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, so that the miners could “continue to run coal.”

    And speaking of the disaster, Massey under Blankenship also denied time off to the friends of the victims working at the mines so they could go to the funerals (nice).

    Gosh, the campaign slogan just about writes itself, doesn’t it? Vote for Don Blankenship To Risk An Unnatural Death While The Planet Slowly Suffocates.

    I’ll bet the Teahadists are already planning campaign rallies.

  • Finally, fresh off his victory over Dem Kathy Boockvar in the election a few weeks ago, I give you the following involving our wet noodle Repug PA-08 U.S. House rep (here)…

    Just two days after the November election, members of progressive groups filed into Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s office and called on him to oppose cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of any budget deal.
    On Black Friday, as shoppers lined up at Oxford Valley Mall, many likely saw a 30-foot banner at the Woodbourne Road I-95 overpass, compliments of Pennsylvania Working Families that stated, “Tell Rep. Fitzpatrick: Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts.”

    In the meantime, large labor unions took out radio ads targeting Fitzpatrick and fellow Republican Pat Meehan to renew middle class tax breaks.

    Election? What election?

    Oh, I’m sorry – I forgot to point out that this column was written by Mikey’s designated stenographer Gary Weckselblatt (who apparently believes, like a typical Repug, that election losers ought to sit down and shut up, since their opinion no longer matters, as if it ever did to begin with…oh, and speaking of “what election?,” I give you this).

    Continuing…

    (Fitzpatrick) said Obama’s plan to raise rates on the wealthy “presents American families with false choices that lead to more economic stagnation.”

    He called for a “grand bargain” that resolves not only the expiring tax rates but a fix to avoid the Medicare physician payment cuts and the looming debt ceiling.

    “I will vote for a plan which is bipartisan in nature that does not cost jobs,” he said. “My district demands we consider all the options, and to earn my vote any deal presented to Congress must present a vision for putting middle income families back on the path for stability and prosperity. And it must not cost jobs.”

    Earlier this year, the Senate voted to extend tax breaks for all but the top wage earners. The House voted to keep the rates for all.

    Asked if at the deadline he would support a version of the Senate plan to protect a potential hit to the middle class, Fitzpatrick said “call me then … you’re asking me a theoretical question.”

    What a profile in courage, my fellow prisoners.

    In response, 350 economists called for investment in jobs instead of “austerity” (which Mikey is basically calling for more of) here (including passage of the American Jobs Act, which continues to gather dust due to inaction from Mikey and his Repug pals in the House). And this is actually better evidence than the prior link that raising the top marginal rate would help job growth, not hurt it.

    And in a related story, as they say (concerning the “A” word), Pastor Gerson pontificates as follows here

    America is entering a period of prolonged austerity. The entitlement commitments made by past generations have been rendered untenable by demographics and health cost inflation. The problem is no one’s particular fault…

    Pardon me while I gag.

    For the reality point of view in response, former Reaganite Bruce Bartlett tells us the following here

    Because of the large deficits Mr. Bush bequeathed Mr. Obama – on Jan. 8, 2009, the C.B.O. projected a deficit for the year of $1.3 trillion that didn’t include any Obama policies – Congress was deeply reluctant to enact a stimulus larger than $787 billion, even though President Obama’s economic advisers thought that one at least twice as large was necessary to turn the economy around. The opposition of every Republican to the 2009 stimulus was a major factor in its inadequate size.

    By way of analogy, suppose you go to your doctor with an illness. He correctly diagnoses it and prescribes the right medicine, but for some reason you are given a dosage only half as large as required. The medicine was enough to improve your condition, but not enough to cure you. You remain sick although you feel better and will remain so until you finally get a full dosage of the proper medicine or your body is able to cure itself, which might take years.
    Note that in this analogy the medicine was properly prescribed; only the dosage was wrong. It would be incorrect to blame the medicine because you are still sick.

    The Republican economists nevertheless blame the medicine itself for the failure of the economy to respond to President Obama’s prescription.

    But it was Republican policies during the Bush administration that brought on the sickness and Republicans in Congress who have denied the economy an adequate dosage of the cure. Now they want to implicitly blame President Obama for causing the recession and the failure of stimulus to fix the problem, asserting that fiscal stimulus is per se ineffective.

    There is a word for this: chutzpah.

    I can think of some words myself, but I really do endeavor to keep this a profanity-free zone, so I’ll just let that go for now (and this tells us that the development by “no one’s particular fault,” according to Gerson, is hammering state economies). And for good measure, Professor Krugman chimes in as follows from here

    …the economic doctrine that demands austerity also rationalizes social injustice and cruelty more broadly, and how this recommends it to authority, rings especially true.

    We might add an insight from another 20th-century economist, Michal Kalecki, who wrote a penetrating 1943 essay on the importance to business leaders of the appeal to “confidence.” As long as there are no routes back to full employment except that of somehow restoring business confidence, he pointed out, business lobbies in effect have veto power over government actions: propose doing anything they dislike, such as raising taxes or enhancing workers’ bargaining power, and they can issue dire warnings that this will reduce confidence and plunge the nation into depression. But let monetary and fiscal policy be deployed to fight unemployment, and suddenly business confidence becomes less necessary, and the need to cater to capitalists’ concerns is much reduced.

    And Gerson actually has the utterly contemptible gall to use the words “austerity” and “morality” in the same sentence of his WaPo screed.

    By the way (returning to Mikey), I’m still waiting for The Treason-Alleging Liar to renounce his “no new taxes” pledge to Grover Norquist, who, last I checked, did not reside in Fitzpatrick’s congressional district (maybe Mikey could be spurred on by some of his Repug playmates who’ve found a collective spine on this issue, as noted here).

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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.


  • Friday Mashup (8/10/12)

    August 10, 2012
  • I give you the following from Missouri Repug Sen. Roy Blunt yesterday (here)…

    In the midst of one of the worst droughts to hit our state in recent history, the Democrat leadership in the Senate made the incredibly poor decision to leave Washington for the August work period before taking up a critical disaster relief package that would have helped farmers, ranchers and families across Missouri — leaving our nation’s producers with greater uncertainty while trying to recover from extreme weather conditions.

    

Actually, in response, the following should be noted from here

    The bill (passed by the House) would restore four disaster aid programs, mostly for livestock producers and tree farmers, that expired last year. The estimated cost, $383 million, would be paid for by shaving some $630 million from two conservation programs. The disaster programs would be restored for the 2012 budget year.

    While there was little dispute over the difficult straits of the livestock industry, there was opposition to the bill from environmental groups disturbed by the cuts to the conservation programs, anti-tax groups who saw the bill as another government bailout and agriculture groups who have been pushing the House to vote on a five-year farm bill that, in addition to making fundamental changes in agriculture safety nets, would restore the disaster relief programs. The current long-term farm bill expires at the end of September.

    The top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, said that while he would vote for the disaster relief measure, “this bill is a sad substitute for what is really needed, a long-term farm policy.” He said that while the legislation would help cattle and sheep farmers, “dairy and specialty crop producers will be left hurting and there is no assistance for pork and poultry producers.”

    Another Agriculture Committee Democrat, Jim Costa of California, said he opposed the bill. “The drought relief package that we are voting on I believe is sadly more about giving the Republican leadership relief when they go back to their districts in August than helping our nation’s farmers, ranchers and dairymen.”

    The Senate in June passed, on a bipartisan vote, a five-year farm bill that revises crop subsidy programs, eliminating direct payments to farmers even when they don’t plant crops, and authorizes nearly $100 billion a year for subsidy, conservation and food stamp programs. The House Agriculture Committee last month approved similar legislation.

    But the House GOP leadership has resisted bringing the bill to the floor, leery of a potential rebellion from conservative lawmakers against spending levels in the bill — particularly the nearly $80 billion a year for the food stamp program, which provides food aid to some 46 million people. Some Democrats, in turn, oppose the House bill because it cuts 2 percent, or $1.6 billion a year, from the food stamp program.

    And cutting the food stamp program, which officially goes by the acronym SNAP, is particularly dumb for the following reason (here)…

    Food stamps are good policy because they have a multiplicative effect. In fact, it almost has double the impact. A USDA study finds that for “Every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates a total of $9.20 in community spending.”

    It’s not as if the program is being overused. From 1995 to 2000, enrollment in the program dropped precipitously without a corresponding drop in the rate of poverty. Even during the current recession, in which enrollment doubled, only around 2/3 of eligible recipients took advantage of the program. The Brookings Institution speculates that this is because former welfare recipient are seldom informed that they remain eligible for food stamps. Brookings estimates “in a typical month in 2001, 17.3 million people in 7.5 million households received food stamps at an annual cost of $20 billion.” While that is nothing to scoff at, the annual price tag is cheap for an effective social safety net. Particularly because it has a compelling societal purpose (preventing people from starving due to circumstances beyond their control) and is narrowly tailored to working people, usually with children.

    So to recap, those numbskulls in the House could have passed the Senate’s farm relief bill, which contained the disaster relief program and would have taken care of the problem – BUT NOOOOO!!! (heckuva job, teabaggers). Maybe Blunt ought to focus his ire at the “Republic” Party “leadership” in the House, then (fat chance, I know).

    And the mention of Roy Blunt is all the excuse I need to link to this video once more (WordPress won’t allow me to embed videos any longer unless I upgrade, which I don’t intent to do yet – and by the way, here is another less-than-shining Blunt moment, which was supported by our own Sen. Bob Casey…an explanation, Senator?).

  • Next, I hate to frighten anyone, but it looks like “Obamacare” will leave 30 million uninsured, according to this.

    By 2022, that is.

    Oh, and this person from clownhall.com criticizes Number 44 for originally saying that health care reform would cost a trillion dollars, though (according to Kate Pavlich) it will now supposedly cost 2.6 trillion over the next 10 years or so.

    Well, in response, this from Ezra Klein says that repeal would cost $1 trillion, and the law will deliver another trillion in savings over the next two decades (here).

    Pavlich also reports on the following…

    CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] now estimate that the ACA, in comparison with prior law before the enactment of the ACA, will reduce the number of nonelderly people without health insurance coverage by 14 million in 2014 and by 29 million or 30 million in the latter part of the coming decade, leaving 30 million nonelderly residents uninsured by the end of the period,” the report said.

    “Before the Supreme Court’s decision, the latter number had been 27 million,” states the report.

    That’s actually a good point (shocking, I know); as noted here

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has updated its analysis of the Affordable Care Act in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the individual mandate, but ruling that the federal government cannot withhold federal funds from states that refuse to expand their Medicaid programs.

    Since some states are refusing to open their Medicaid programs to their residents, the CBO concluded that costs to the federal government would drop by $84 billion over 11 years and 6 million fewer people will be covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Half of that population will find insurance in the state-based health insurance exchanges, while the remaining 3 million will likely remain uninsured:

    So, because Hangin’ Judge JR and The Supremes decided not to let the feds manage their health care dollars properly, a net of (in all likelihood) 3 million people will remain uninsured (adding to the 27 million already cited).

    Also, from here

    Why (health care is) more expensive in the U.S.

    Prices, efficiency and insurance administration are the most important reasons U.S. spending is higher than spending in other countries. One study estimated that relative to other major industrialized nations, the U.S. pays 70 percent higher prices for drugs, has substantial excess capacity and low productivity in outpatient facilities, and spends six times more on insurance administration.

    …also…

    Medical malpractice is not a major driver of spending trends. Premiums for liability coverage and defensive medicine do contribute to health spending at any moment in time, but they are not a large factor nor are they a significant factor in the overall growth of health care spending.

    This link to Kaiser.edu provides more information on the cost controls in the Affordable Care Act (yes, this information is repetitive, but it’s necessary to try and offset the constant misinformation coming from the wingnutosphere on this, among other issues).

  • Finally, Pastor Gerson at the WaPo has some veep advice for Willard Mitt Romney (doesn’t everybody, or so it seems?) here

    A few thoughts on Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick: This kind of story is a perfect example of the limits of political reporting. Speculation is unavoidable, but the number of people with actual knowledge of the selection process is tiny — the candidate, his wife, a few close advisers. And their political interests lie in the maintenance of secrecy and the cultivation of suspense. Until the announcement, commentary on this subject is essentially content-free.

    But the trend of the last few weeks favors Chris Christie.

    Uh, Gerson? I hate to break the news to you, but the Philadelphia Inquirer already has the market cornered on all of the “let’s fluff the Garden State guv in the hope that he hits it big nationally and gives us some sort of bragging rights of a weird fashion” stories, as noted here.

    Also, Christie has been shockingly sane when it comes to the Global Now And Forever You Godless Democrat Party Kenyan Muslim Lovin’ Socialist War On Terra! Terra! Terra!, as noted here in his highly articulate and reasoned defense of judicial appointee Sohail Mohammed (again, sorry I can’t embed the video).

    In addition to all of this, a recent poll on the terms most commonly associated with Christie indicate that “bully” and “arrogant” are the most common associations with him (Maybe that’s something the Mittster wants? Can’t say). It should also be noted that Christie’s approval, for now, seems to be plateauing at about 54 percent (not that bad, but not enough to launch a Christie “juggernaut”).

    You know what? Romney seems to be having such a pickle when it comes to naming a veep that I think I should put forward a suggestion:

    How about this guy? After all (as noted here), he now has a 43 percent approval rating, he’s already done the job (albeit horribly), and he’s guaranteed to deliver all of those “values voters” who will sit on their hands on Election Day if Romney nominates, say, Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman for the ticket instead (and you know he’s rested and might be looking for something to do).

    And there’s nothing to prevent a president from serving in the executive branch again, as long as he doesn’t come from the same state as the person at the top of the ticket.

    So whaddaya say, Willard Mitt? RomneyBush in 2012? Plutocracy today, plutocracy tomorrow, plutocracy forever!

    (No I’m not serious. But it would make the campaign more fun, wouldn’t it? :-))


  • Monday Mashup (7/9/12)

    July 10, 2012
  • All class, Tucker – not sure what else I can add to an atrocity like this.
  • Next, I give you the latest propaganda from Investor’s Business Daily (here)…

    Political leaders continue to peddle the snake oil that we can spend our way back to prosperity.

    Many Americans believe President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Keynesian conversion beat back the Great Depression. It’s pure myth. In the 1930s, the United States doubled government outlays relative to GDP. The unemployment rate didn’t fall; instead, it jumped from 3.2% in 1929 to 25.2% in 1933 — an outcome contrary to Keynes’ doctrine.

    I think it’s utterly hilarious that IBD only considers four years of FDR’s entire term of office in its “analysis.” (if you want to read about historical U.S. unemployment rates from 1920 until the present day, click here).

    In response, I give you the following from Professor Krugman (here)…

    …there were big moves in years when nothing much was happening to military spending, notably the slump from 1929 to 1933 and the recovery from 1933 to 1936. But every year in which there was a big spending increase was also a year of strong growth, and the reduction in military spending after World War II was a year of sharp output decline.

    Yes, the unemployment numbers got worse later in the 1930s. However, that was due to a cut in government spending, not an increase (here).

    And if you don’t want to believe me, then believe that noted “Keynesian” Willard Mitt Romney himself, who said here that spending cuts would lead to “recession or depression.”

    If you want to know the real story on the drag on job growth, though, click here (and yes, I know all of this is a recording, but as long as the other side keeps lying through its metaphorical teeth…).

  • Further, Mark Krikorian of Irrational Spew Online takes a shot here at Denise Rich, former wife of fugitive financier (and Bill Clinton and Repug BFF) Marc Rich, for doing the “expat” thing and renouncing her U.S. citizenship (which, apparently, about 1,700 former citizens do a year – color me shocked)…

    I have no quarrel with people who want to emigrate. But to do so for tax reasons (which may or may not be the motivation in this instance) is, as David French put it in an exchange about Eduardo Saverin, “pathetic. Not punishable, but pathetic.”

    Why not punishable? Hey, why do the “half wingnut” when you can go “full on” with the crazy, you know?

    Well, given Krikorian’s staking out of the “America, Love It Or Leave It” ground, you would think that one of his conservative simpatico pals would be all too happy to mete out something that they approximate to justice on this score, wouldn’t you?

    Then please explain the following to me from here

    Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has a status update for Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin: Stop attempting to dodge your taxes by renouncing your U.S. citizenship or never come to back to the U.S. again.

    In September 2011, Saverin relinquished his U.S. citizenship before the company announced its planned initial public offering of stock, which will debut this week. The move was likely a financial one, as he owns an estimated 4 percent of Facebook and stands to make $4 billion when the company goes public. Saverin would reap the benefit of tax savings by becoming a permanent resident of Singapore, which levies no capital gains taxes.

    At a news conference this morning, Sens. Schumer and Bob Casey, D-Pa., will unveil the “Ex-PATRIOT” – “Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy” – Act to respond directly to Saverin’s move, which they dub a “scheme” that would “help him duck up to $67 million in taxes.”

    So two Democrats are the ones going after Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin, not, say, “Diaper Dave” Vitter and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao.

    Well, that must be why Krikorian’s fellow traveler Jeff Jacoby considers Schumer and Casey to be demagogues here, even though Krikorian is the one trying to wax poetic about those leaving the U.S. trying to sever “the mystic chords of memory” (and from the strange political bedfellows department, I give you this).

    (By the way, my thoroughly unscientific and not-grounded-in-economic-facts-and-figures analysis says that we should just leave Saverin alone, people – let’s try fixing real problems instead, such as closing the corporate tax loopholes we currently tolerate, OK?)

  • Finally, I checked in with Pastor Gerson of the WaPo today, and found that he’s still doing a predictable job of opining about matters of almost no consequence (he’s in favor of circumcision because it’s proclaimed in the Old Testament – hey, whatever).

    And I really wouldn’t care if it weren’t for the second paragraph from here

    Along with the Cologne judge (in Germany, who ruled that ritual circumcision is a “crime”), most critics of circumcision also regard it as a violation of individual self-determination, which raises religious-liberty issues larger than a single snip.

    A strain of modern liberalism contends that only individuals and their rights are real in the legal sense — and there is no other acceptable sense. It is the role of the state to defend individual self-determination against oppressive institutions, including religious institutions. Since circumcision is coerced, it is unjust. The same claim might be made — and has been made — of early religious indoctrination of any kind. Liberalism thus leads to an aggressive form of assimilation to the values of the liberal order.

    Really? Then I guess every Jewish person here is just a damn stinkin’, Mumia-lovin’, Kenyan-Muslim-Socialist-supporting tree hugger, huh?

    Basically, I don’t care that much one way or the other – I think it should be left up to the family (though this is certainly important to consider). There are sanitary reasons in favor of it (full disclosure: I had it way back when), but just because a family opts out of it doesn’t mean that they’ve fallen prey to “an aggressive form of (liberal) assimilation.”

    You gotta hand it to Gerson, though, coming up with a new and different way to completely distract us from the issues that truly matter (economy, jobs, environment, civil liberties, Afghanistan, etc.).

    Yep, the guy is sure a cut-up (sorry…couldn’t resist).


  • Friday Mashup Part One (10/15/10)

    October 15, 2010

    (Note: After today, posting of actual content is going to be iffy for probably about another week at least.)

  • 1) Let’s start with Jonah Goldberg and get him out of the way as soon as I can (here)…

    This is why I never lend out my iPhone when I visit leper colonies:

    Goldberg then includes a story about how quickly germs can be spread from the touch screens of iPhones to one’s fingertips, something of particularly note with the onset of the flu season a month or so away.

    But for Jonah’s information, leprosy, though it is in decline (as noted here), is definitely not something to joke about. As the Wikipedia article tells us…

    Although the forced quarantine or segregation of patients is unnecessary in places where adequate treatments are available, many leper colonies still remain around the world in countries such as India (where there are still more than 1,000 leper colonies),[11] China,[12] Romania,[13] Egypt, Nepal, Somalia, Liberia, Vietnam,[14] and Japan.[15]

    If Goldberg is searching for something to laugh about, though, maybe he should tale a look at this.

  • 2) Next, I give you the following from Christopher Rugaber of the AP here…

    Numerous polls show voters blame President Barack Obama and his party for the slow economic recovery and the 9.6 percent unemployment rate — not much better than the 9.7 percent rate when the year began.

    I know I’ve linked to this a few times already, but I’ll continue to do so whenever lazy reporters like Rugaber say this stuff without any sourcing to back it up.

  • 3) Also, tomorrow is the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Iraqi constitution, as noted here. And at the time, a certain Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History said the following…

    “This is a very positive day for the Iraqis and, as well, for world peace,” Bush said in brief remarks to reporters. “Democracies are peaceful countries. The vote today in Iraq stands in stark contrast to the attitudes and philosophy and strategy of al Qaeda and its terrorist friends and killers.”

    I wish I could tell you that everything is just hunky dory in Mesopotamia now, but alas I cannot – as noted here…

    Washington waits and waits while constantly demanding that Iraq’s government function properly—that its leaders compromise and work together, that it at least provide electricity, trash pick-up, and minimal services to its citizens. Yet all this is impossible because of the structure of government America set up there. Hopelessly dysfunctional, it was doomed from the start.

    There is simply no way Iraq’s government could or can succeed. Think first how we destroyed its civil structure—its police, civil service, most of its functions of government, even schoolteachers were fired en masse. Then it’s easier to comprehend that Washington also set up an unworkable government. Indeed, an article in the American Prospect, “The Apprentice,” indicates that wrecking Iraq as a nation state was intentional.

    “The constitution may well be more of a prelude to civil war than a step forward,” warned another expert in 2005, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Rather than an inclusive document, it is more a recipe for separation based on Shiite and Kurdish privilege,” he wrote, as quoted in an article by Robin Wright in the Washington Post. The Post report also warned that “the Shiite and Kurdish militias are the de facto security forces in their territories and are loyal to their own political leaders.”

    By 2006, then CIA director Michael Hayden was acknowledging that in Iraq, “the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible.” He added, “We and the Iraqi government do not agree on who the enemy is … . It’s a legitimate question whether strengthening the Iraqi security forces helps or hurts, when they are viewed as a predatory element.”

    Washington’s neoconservatives may look benignly on an Iraq whose dysfunctional government serves as an excuse to keep the region occupied with 50,000 troops and massive air bases. But America’s “mission accomplished” has created an unstable, economically devastated nation that will be yet another constant source of instability for the whole Middle East.

    And this is from a conservative publication, people.

  • 4) Finally, Michael Gerson profiled Christopher Hitchens today in the WaPo (here). And don’t ask me about the column, because I barely read a word of it. And that’s because I’m tired of our media wasting precious online type and column inches over this guy.

    I’m sorry that Hitchens is dying from cancer. I hope his passing from this world comes with as little pain as possible. But somehow I can’t help but get the feeling that our media is hanging with this man through every final hour and second waiting for some moment of clarity in which he’ll exclaim, “Oh God, praise Jesus! You were right all along, and I was wrong!”

    That clearly isn’t going to happen (I have a low regard generally for Hitchens, but I’ll give him credit for remaining true to his beliefs).

    And I also think it’s more than a little disingenuous for our corporate media to give Hitchens a “deathbed conversion” and ignore moments like the one here, where (speaking of Iraq) he criticized Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes for making the rather astute connection between the war and the flooding of cheap credit in the early part of this decade to inflate the housing bubble, in which our ruling cabal turned our economy into a casino.

    Also (linked to the post), Hitchens claimed that Martin Luther King, Jr. “doesn’t deserve his acclaim,” and Hillary Clinton is “an aging and resentful female.”

    And last but perhaps least, I give you this Hitchens moment from an episode of “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

    So, let us allow Hitchens to leave us with as little fanfare as possible, please. I will grant that he should be allowed the dignity to spend his final days as he chooses (which he denied to those caught up in the Iraq maelstrom that he considered “worth the price,” but there you are).

    Before he goes, though, I’ll give him the salute that he so gleefully gave his detractors on the Bill Maher program…


  • Friday Mashup Part One (6/18/10)

    June 18, 2010

    (Note: There may not be much posting for most of next week, maybe towards Thursday and Friday a bit, and definitely no posting on Tuesday.)

  • 1) I couldn’t get through the week without encountering the latest anti-Obama nonsense from former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm here…

    America’s favorability rating in Egypt has dropped from 27% to 17% — the lowest figure recorded there in five years. In Turkey, a NATO ally, confidence in Obama has fallen from 33% to 23%. Opposition to key aspects of U.S. foreign policy remains pervasive and many Muslim publics continue to view the U.S as a military threat.

    Never mind that, despite the Malcolm headline that “Obama’s ‘hopey, changey’ fading abroad now too” (sic), the “Top of the Ticket” hack tells us that “confidence in Obama remains high in European countries.”

    Citing the same Pew study, the New York Times tells us the following (here)…

    According to a survey of nearly 25,000 people in 22 countries published Thursday by the Pew Research Center, the popularity of the United States has risen most notably over the past year among respondents in Russia and China. Both countries are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and are essential to American efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

    Positive attitudes toward Mr. Obama himself remain overwhelmingly strong among America’s West European allies, according to the survey, with 90 percent of Germans, 87 percent of French and 84 percent of Britons expressing confidence in Mr. Obama to do the right thing in world affairs, compared with 65 percent of Americans surveyed.

    Among the more surprising results of the survey was the substantial improvement in Russian attitudes toward the United States. Of those surveyed, 57 percent said they had a favorable view of the United States, an increase of 13 percentage points over the previous year. Among Russians who say their country has an enemy, more than one-third, 35 percent, name the United States as its biggest enemy.

    Oh, and here is another Malcolm moment, guffawing over Chris Dodd quite rightly laying at least partial blame for the Deepwater Horizon disaster at the feet of the husband of Malcolm’s former employer (the rig wasn’t built when Obama occupied the White House, you shill).

  • 2) And not to be outdone, “Z on TV” himself, David Zurawik, pointed out here that the audience for Obama’s Oval Office address to the country about the Gulf disaster “dip(ped)” to 32 million viewers.

    That’s still pretty good when you consider that, as noted here, 37.8 million people watched his swearing-in and inaugural address last year (compared to less than half that for Dubya when he was sworn in in 2005 – what a shame so many people missed out on hearing 43’s pax-Americana flowery fairy tales concocted first and foremost by Bushie acolyte Michael Gerson).

  • 3) That actually is a nice transition to this, which is the WaPo columnist’s piece today on Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, who seems to be trying to interject some sanity into his party (good luck with that one)…

    If there were a WMD attack, death would come to straights and gays, pro-life and pro-choice,” (Daniels) told (Gerson). “If the country goes broke, it would ruin the American dream for everyone. We are in this together. Whatever our honest disagreements on other questions, might we set them aside long enough to do some very difficult things without which we will be a different, lesser country?”

    Now before we get all misty-eyed over Daniels, thinking he might be emerging from “the dark side,” let it be known that, were he to occupy An Oval Office as the commander-in-chief, he would bring back the awful “Mexico City Policy,” which banned the use of federal funds for family-planning groups that offered abortions abroad (which, let it be known, reduced the overall funding provided to particular NGOs, closing off their access to USAID-supplied condoms and other forms of contraception, as Wikipedia tells us here).

    Gerson also tells us the following…

    I was a colleague of Daniels when he was director of the Office of Management and Budget. It was his job to say “no” to splendid policy proposals, which he did with good-humored enthusiasm. Raining on parades was both a profession and a hobby.

    Well, Mitchy didn’t do such a hot job of “raining” on the Iraq war “parade” when it mattered; as noted here…

    In 2002, Daniels helped discredit a report by Assistant to the President on Economic Policy Lawrence B. Lindsey estimating the cost of the Iraq War at between $100-$200 billion. Daniels called this estimate “very, very high” and stated that the costs would be between $50-$60 billion.[9] As of 2007, the cost of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has exceeded $400 billion, and the Congressional Budget Office in August 2007 estimated that appropriations would eventually reach $1 trillion or more.[10]

    Oh, and one more thing about Daniels – no more lame apologies for supposed “baby boomer” wrongdoing, as he inflicted upon us here, OK?


  • Monday Mashup Part One (6/7/10)

    June 7, 2010

    I have some leftover items from last week I couldn’t quite get to until now.

  • 1) To begin, I give you the latest in the slow-motion train wreck that is the NJ gubernatorial administration of Chris Christie (here)…

    All seven members of an advisory panel charged with reviewing nominations to New Jersey’s Superior Court resigned Wednesday, with six saying they objected to Gov. Christie’s decision not to renominate Justice John Wallace Jr. to the state Supreme Court.

    The members, all appointed by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, had letters hand-delivered to Christie’s office.

    “The panel has understood a judge serving honorably and effectively, with competence and integrity, will achieve tenure in judicial office,” states one letter signed by six of the members. “This understanding is supported by the intent of the framers of our constitution and is firmly grounded in our traditions and history, and has been followed consistently for over 60 years by all governors of both political parties.”

    “You have expressed publicly a profoundly different view of the governor’s appointive responsibilities,” the letter continues. “This was exemplified by your actions and remarks in refusing to reappoint Justice John Wallace to the Supreme Court, a jurist who indisputably exemplified all the qualifications for honorable judicial services. It is a view that is inconsistent with an independent judiciary.

    “Because of our abiding commitment to the independence of the judiciary, we cannot in good conscience continue to serve on the Judiciary Advisory Panel.”

    The six members were retired state Supreme Court justices James H. Coleman and Stewart Pollock, the cochairmen, and Alan B. Handler and Deborah T. Poritz; a lawyer in private practice, Carlos G. Ortiz; and a university professor, Susan Lederman.

    The seventh, retired Appellate Division judge Harold B. Wells III, a Republican, sent a brief, separate letter saying he had resigned for “personal reasons.”

    This is kind of interesting I suppose, given that Christie, a former U.S. attorney, is assumed to have a respect for the functions of the judiciary over that of partisan politics. Clearly, though, the latter holds sway with him, which should be no surprise I know.

    Oh, and did you also know that Christie wants to put the State Commission on Investigation’s budget under the Office of the Comptroller, thereby putting the state’s investigative agency, which should be independent, under Christie’s purview (here)?

    Lastly, this Inquirer editorial tells us today that Christie and his State Education Commissioner Bret Schundler brokered a deal with the New Jersey Education Association that addressed key issues – such as merit pay, which the union has long opposed. However, that deal is now off the table because Christie and Schundler apparently weren’t “on the same page,” which could end up costing the state millions of dollars in federal education funds.

    I hope all of those Democrats who sat on their hands during the NJ gubernatorial election last year are proud of themselves (to say nothing of Repugs and independents who supported this thug).

  • 2) Also, I tried really, really hard to avoid saying anything over the Gore divorce last week (I mean, it’s not like there isn’t a whole bunch of more important stuff going on), but it just got so thick that I had to weigh in (one pundit somewhere said something like divorce may be a defining “baby boomer” moment, or something…as Atrios says, our discourse is ruled by fools).

    And this column by Linda Chavez was the proverbial last straw…

    I know it’s wishful thinking to hope that the Gores will reconsider their decision. But they have already survived many ordeals that would challenge even the strongest of marriages — their son’s near-fatal accident, myriad political campaigns, including the 2000 presidential election whose outcome dragged on forever, Tipper’s battle against depression and who knows what private disappointments, slights, and pains.

    The Gores, like most couples, made a vow when they married to remain together “until death do us part.” Couples make those vows in front of family and friends and with the blessings of religious institutions and the state. They are not private promises; they are public affirmations. So if the Gores decide to break those vows, they’ve hurt all of us, not just each other, and they’ve chipped away at the very institution of marriage. Let’s hope they don’t move from separation to divorce, for all our sakes.

    Oh, please…

    What is sad here is that Chavez actually makes some good points about the effect of divorce on kids, but for her to claim that the Gore’s divorce “hurts all of us” is pathetic.

    Well then, do infidelities of public figures “hurt us” also? What about David Vitter (who, for some reason, always seems to get a pass on this subject even though he’s been “busted” at least twice)? John Ensign? Mark Sanford? Mark Souder (for whom Michael Gerson unctuously asked for “grace” here)? And yes, to be fair, John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer (and of course, Bill Clinton)?

    At least the Gores realized that it was time to part, and they have done so. There are a myriad of reasons why couples stay together and a myriad of reasons why they don’t. And as long as moral scolds like Chavez feel like it’s their duty to pass judgment, how about giving the Clintons some credit for enduring all they have and raising a daughter for whom they should be proud?

    This is all beyond a joke anyway when you consider that Chavez, as noted by Bob Somerby here, once said that Gore gave a “confusing” speech in 2002 in which “Gore said that a unilateral War on Saddam (Hussein) would hurt the ongoing War on Terror, because it would alienate various nations on whom we must rely for intelligence” (and fellow Beltway hyena Mort Kondracke dutifully echoed Chavez also).

    Like almost everything else Al Gore has said, the passage of time has proven these words to be damn prescient as well. And Chavez’s ridicule has “hurt all of us” a lot more than the Gore’s divorce ever could.

  • 3) Finally, I give you the late Irving Kristol’s boy here…

    So the one part of government the Obama administration—which is spending unprecedented amounts on every domestic department of government—has decided to squeeze is the military. This is outrageous and pathetic—taking money out of the already inadequate baseline defense budget to pay for a domestic spending spree.

    The linked New York Times story from last week tells us the following…

    The goal is to force all of the Defense Department agencies and organizations, and all of the armed services, to save enough money in their management, personnel policies and logistics to guarantee 3 percent real growth each year, beyond inflation, in the accounts that pay for combat operations.

    Current budget plans project growth of only 1 percent in the Pentagon budget, after inflation, over the next five years.

    “Given the nation’s fiscal situation, there is an urgency to doing this, rather than shifting more of the nation’s resources toward national defense,” William J. Lynn III, the deputy defense secretary, said in an interview.

    (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates’s spending orders offer a considerable incentive to the armed services. Each dollar in spending cuts found by a military department would be reinvested in the combat force of that branch, and not siphoned away for other purposes.

    Senior officials acknowledge that powerful constituencies are expected to line up in opposition to cuts of favorite programs — with criticism anticipated from the defense industry, Congress, military headquarters, Pentagon personnel and retirees.

    “We will need to address the reasons things are in the budget in order to be able to reduce overhead,” Mr. Lynn said. “We are going to have to be engaged in dialogue with industry, with Congress, with other agencies, with the White House and inside the Pentagon — all the stakeholders.”

    The new directives are aimed at three distinct areas of spending.

    The first is management and personnel, overhead, logistics and base operations, and support missions.

    The second is the war-fighting accounts themselves. Major targets for the next fiscal year already identified by the Pentagon leadership, and supported by the White House, include canceling a program to buy an alternative engine for the F-35 warplane and ending production of the C-17 cargo aircraft. Officials said a range of lower-priority programs would also be under review.

    The third area is Mr. Gates’s own Defense Department staff and agencies.

    And in case you were wondering how much this country spends on defense, this tells you that this country’s spending isn’t even close to any other in the world.

    There is only one good thing I can say about Kristol Mess’s post, and it is that he uses hyperlinks effectively (would that the Philadelphia Inquirer decided to follow suit one of these days).

  • Update: And heaven forbid that this falls under the “budget axe” also…


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