Thursday Mashup (9/27/12)

September 27, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Next, this story tells us the following…

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

    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Food stamps? Really???

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

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

    Dear Mr. President:

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

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

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

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

    Mr. President, this is repugnant.

    In response, I give you this

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    When indeed?

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    Friday Mashup (8/31/12)

    August 31, 2012
  • I guess I should start with the proverbial low-hanging fruit, and it’s hard to go lower than Michelle Malkin (here)…

    While all eyes were on the Republican National Convention in Tampa and Hurricane Isaac on the Gulf Coast, the White House was quietly jacking up the price of automobiles and putting future drivers at risk.

    Yes, the same cast of fable-tellers who falsely accused GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney of murdering a steelworker’s cancer-stricken wife is now directly imposing a draconian environmental regulation that will cost untold American lives.

    It’s almost too easy when even the OMIGOD-What-Will-Chris-Christie-Do-Or-Say-Next Philadelphia Inquirer provides the rebuttal, but they do here

    …for an estimated 500,000 people, the mandate that automakers achieve an average fleet fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 also means they’ll be driving to new jobs.

    Many of those jobs will be generated by Detroit, as automakers invest $300 billion in tooling up to build better vehicles, but independent experts predict that other industries will also add jobs as a result of the fuel standards.

    Beyond that, the benefits to the environment will be seen in reduced smog. And the nation should become more secure by being less dependent on foreign oil.

    Given those gains, it’s unfortunate that partisan politics still have Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in an ideological box on this issue. Romney campaign officials this week called the new fuel standards “extreme,” due to the added cost of producing cleaner cars.

    In fact, the mileage standards have earned support from automakers and environmentalists alike. President Obama smartly united the groups by sticking to an aggressive mileage goal while at the same time assuring General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and automakers that the policy would get a sensible, mid-course review.

    Maybe the only thing extreme about the process was its success.

    (Media Matters has more on this here.)

    Oh, and one more thing – Joe Soptic lost his health insurance when his company was taken over by Romney and Bain Capital and he was booted. After that, his wife lost her job due to a shoulder injury (losing her insurance), and she was diagnosed with cancer afterwards. So yes, there is no direct cause-and-effect relationship between Soptic losing his insurance and his wife dying from lack of coverage.

    But can we all agree that Soptic losing his insurance certainly didn’t help his wife’s battle with cancer? (If you want to read more about this, click here…and yes, Glenn Kessler of the so-called “respectable” corporate media really is that big of a dick – and with typical Malkin understatement, she alleges that Obama is saying that Romney killed Soptic’s wife, when of course nobody is saying that, nor, to my knowledge, has anyone on the Obama side ever said that.)

  • Next, Louie Gohmert and The Daily Tucker combined for more idiocy here, including the following…

    Gohmert drew on an observation of former U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen that “our biggest national security threat is our overspending. But there are other national security threats. We’ve had thousands killed and the media’s not talking about it. We need to talk about it.”

    “There have been thousands killed since this president took over — thousands of our military,” Gohmert added. “They beat up on [George W.] Bush every day another soldier was killed. They were out there showing coffins and things. But not with this president.”

    “This president has put in place rules of engagement, that certainly were put there under his command, that are getting our people killed.”

    Gohmert went on to observe Obama’s public promise to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014. The president, he concluded, has “left these guys out there with rules of engagement that don’t allow them to adequately defend themselves.”

    The Texas Republican calls those rules of engagement “politically correct stuff.”

    For the record, this tells us that the Afghanistan rules of engagement were put in place by former Gen. (and head of U.S. forces there) Stanley McChrystal and were modified by incoming Gen. David Petraeus after McChrystal left (and how sad is it for Gohmert that it was so easy to refute him that Fox did it?)

    Yes, people, water is wet, sky is blue, and Louie Gohmert is still the stupidest life form in the entire galaxy (more evidence is here).

    Also, though this is a bit tangential (but it does have to do with foreign policy), I’ve withheld comment until now on the story of the Navy SEAL who basically outed himself as one of the members of the team that killed Osama bin Laden when he wrote a book about it (and by the way, I don’t care if bin Laden was unarmed when he was shot). And I hadn’t planned to say anything until I read this defense of Fix Noise for publishing his name from “Z on TV” himself, David Zurawik.

    Soooo…Fox “did nothing wrong” even though Zurawik admits that he has a “low regard” for the network? And Zurawik thinks Penguin Group, the book publisher, is just “a big commercial publishing house that exists first and foremost to make money”? And I suppose the Fox TV network is a non-for-profit enterprise, then? And Zurawik quite rightly doesn’t trust Fox, to the point where he waited for corroboration on the SEAL’s name from the AP – that’s fine, but doesn’t “Z” realize that Fox let the genie out of the proverbial bottle, not the AP, and it would have been awfully difficult for the AP to try and put the brakes on that story? And Zurawik also says that “anyone who writes such a book has no reasonable expectation of privacy”?

    Gee, under that logic, then “All The President’s Men” by Woodward and Bernstein (of course) should never have seen the light of day, since Mark Felt (who outed himself as Deep Throat before he died) should have had “no reasonable expectation of privacy”?

    As noted here, the SEAL who went public with his identity (his pseudonym is “Mark Owen”) so he could get a book published blaming Obama has subsequently put his life in danger for it. And that is unfortunate.

    Yes, he served his country, and he deserves our thanks. But am I the only one who thinks that going public like that was a pretty damn stupid thing to do, if for no other reason than because people who don’t like us can now use that information to try and go after his family, friends, and other service members who once served with him?

  • Continuing, I should note that I read this about Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv-In-His-Pocket Paul Ryan’s speech the other night, and I’m glad to see that he has been busted on the myriad lies and half-truths he uttered in front of an audience of willing sycophants and TV viewers, some of which I’m sure may be (and perhaps still are) undecided.

    The point of me commenting like this isn’t to add to the chorus of people proclaiming quite rightly that Ryan is a liar. Here’s what I’m wondering about; Ryan tells everyone who will listen that he’s a Roman Catholic.

    Well, aside from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (who also quite rightly have said that what Ryan espouses has nothing to do with their faith and the faith that Ryan claims to practice, or words to that effect, here), where is the voice of the head of the archdiocese of Ryan’s congressional district?

    Well, apparently Tom Gallagher of the National Catholic Reporter was wondering the same thing; the following is an excerpt from here (dated last May)…

    I looked up Rep. Ryan’s congressional district in Wisconsin and to determine whether it was within the Milwaukee archdiocese’s jurisdiction or within the jurisdiction of the Madison diocese. I emailed the Offices of Communication for both dioceses and asked for a clarification.

    I wanted to see whether Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee or Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison have publicly reached out to Rep. Ryan to discuss his “moral failure” of a federal budget proposal and his acute misunderstanding of Catholic social teaching.

    What I found was both interesting and distressing.

    Instead of hearing back from (Julie) Wolf (communications director for the Milwaukee archdiocese), I heard from Jerry Topczewski, who it turns out is a seasoned public relations executive and chief of staff for Archbishop Listecki. He offered this response:

    “Archbishop Listecki has not made any public statements that I am aware of regarding the budget proposal nor, to my knowledge, has he spoken to Congressman Ryan regarding the budget proposal. Although a portion of Congressman Ryan’s congressional district overlaps the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Congressman Ryan lives in the Diocese of Madison. Recently, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the USCCB, made some comments regarding the budget proposal in a response to a reporter’s question. You may want to review his comments.”

    I followed up with this email question:

    Is it accurate to conclude then that Archbishop Listecki plans no formal engagement with Rep. Ryan with respect to the Congressman’s “understanding” of Catholic social teaching and Rep. Ryan’s budget proposal?

    Mr. Topczewski: “No.”

    My next follow-up email question:

    So going forward, will Archbishop Listecki publicly engage Rep. Ryan about his ‘understanding’ of Catholic social teaching and its application to the federal budget?

    Mr. Topczewski: “I haven’t asked him.”

    My next email question:

    Will you kindly present my questions to Archbishop Listecki and ask him to respond to the questions?

    Mr. Topczewski: “It is Confirmation season, so the Archbishop’s schedule is very busy. If I get the chance to ask him, I will let you know.”

    I asked if I could have responses by this past Friday so I could file this story, but I have not heard back. If Mr. Topczewski responds to these questions, I will be sure to give him and Archbishop Listecki plenty of space.

    Gallagher’s story also tells us that Morlino’s office said “This is an issue where the Congressman [Ryan] speaks well for himself. He is very aware of the demands of lay mission in the Church and he is free to carry that mission out as he does. There is no need for us, nor are we in a position, to enter into this discussion.”

    Oh, and did I point out that Archbishop Listecki referred to the church as a “corporation” here (as an astute commenter noted, if Listecki really believed that, then why does the church still have tax-exempt status…Update: The corporation comment probably same from the same mindset as this)?

    So basically, on the issue of Paul Ryan’s thorough and complete misunderstanding of Church teaching on the economy, the Catholic Church hierarchy (in Ryan’s district in this case) did what it does best…

    Heckuva job.

    Update 9/1/12: Say Amen, somebody (here).

  • Finally, did you know that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History has “moved on with his life”? That’s what his brother said here the other night at the Repug Smear Fest And Misinformation Festival in Tampa…

    “He has moved on with his life,” (Jeb) Bush said. “I send him emails once every two weeks to say, ‘all I meet are people that love you,’ which is true. I am not making that up. In this hall people were saying, ‘I worked for your brother, history will prove him right on a lot of things.’ There’s a lot of goodwill for George W. Bush, but he also knows that he needs to stay out of the way. Back to this idea that you blame W. for everything: the common cold, breakout bacne (sic?), rain; so I think he smartly has taken a step back and let the Romney-Ryan ticket take the attention that they deserve.”

    Oh, and did you know that Jeb also said, in essence, that President Obama needs a “spanking” here? What a professional comment to direct at the head of state.

    And I’m so happy that Dubya has “moved on.” Aren’t you?

    I wonder if the families and friends of the victims of his completely and totally unnecessary war in Iraq have “moved on” too?

    I mean, it’s not like Dubya couldn’t ask them and find out. All he has to do is search this list for some names. He could use that as a starting point and then do what he does best, which is to turn over a tiresome chore (in this case, tracking down the people to ask) to somebody else.

    Actually, I could help him out with that. Dubya is supposedly living in a Dallas suburb now. Well, according to this list, Peter Burks, Simon Cox, Brian Grant, and Jeffrey Green all came from Dallas. He could pick up the phone, call some people and he wouldn’t even have to dial out of his area code. And it’s not like he doesn’t have the spare time on his hands these days.

    But of course, he’ll do nothing of the sort. And that’s because the Republicans don’t want the reality of real people experiencing real problems to penetrate their bubble of unreality, where, as Bill Maher famously said, “the only thing that gets in is Fox News and the only things to come out are misspelled signs and babies.”

    With that in mind, I have a question: how can we expect a party of unreality to know how to govern on the national level in the world of reality?

    That should be a question all of us ask in the voting booth this November.


  • Friday Mashup (5/25/12)

    May 25, 2012
  • To begin, I give you the comic stylings of Mann Coulter, on how that Kenyan Muslim socialist wealth redistributor in the White House is supposedly such a spendthrift (here)…

    …Obama didn’t come in and live with the budget Bush had approved. He immediately signed off on enormous spending programs that had been specifically rejected by Bush. This included a $410 billion spending bill that Bush had refused to sign before he left office. Obama signed it on March 10, 2009. Bush had been chopping brush in Texas for two months at that point. Marketwatch’s Nutting says that’s Bush’s spending.

    Obama also spent the second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Fund (TARP). These were discretionary funds meant to prevent a market meltdown after Lehman Brothers collapsed. By the end of 2008, it was clear the panic had passed, and Bush announced that he wouldn’t need to spend the second half of the TARP money.

    I realize that there are probably too many layers of stoo-pid to cut through here, but let’s just focus on the patently absurd claim that “the (financial) panic had passed…by the end of 2008.”

    As noted here

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The U.S. economy suffered its biggest slowdown in 26 years in the last three months of 2008, according to the government’s first reading about the fourth quarter released Friday.

    Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation’s economic activity, fell at an annual rate of 3.8% in the fourth quarter, adjusted for inflation.

    That’s the largest drop in GDP since the first quarter of 1982, when the economy suffered a 6.4% decline.

    More to the point, I’m not going to play this game about Obama and spending, since he didn’t create the deficit to begin with (yes, he added to it, but you have to spend to invest and demand has to come from somewhere). I would only ask that you consider the following from here, and I would also ask that you keep all of this in mind assuming those wretched George W. Bush tax cuts finally die once and for all in 2013 and “Taxmageddon” (ugh) kicks in next year with spending cuts negotiated with that fraud U.S. House “leadership,” which, in all probability, will sink us into recession officially once again (thank you, o zany Teahadists).

    (Oh, and for the record, here is the chart Coulter is talking about…when you find that supposed $410 billion dollar spending bill Obama signed off on instead of Dubya, let me know, OK?)

  • Next, one of my pet causes resurfaced in the news yesterday (here)…

    WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican, joked that he was witnessing “sort of a Lazarus moment.” On that score, at least, Mr. Corker got no quarrel from his Democratic colleagues.

    Thirty years after it was signed in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the United Nations treaty that governs the world’s oceans is undergoing one of its periodic resurrections in Congress. A Senate committee on Wednesday summoned three top national security officials to make yet another plea for the agreement, in the face of narrow, but stubborn, opposition.

    The Senate has never ratified the treaty, despite the support of Republican and Democratic presidents, the Pentagon, environmental advocates, the oil and gas industry — virtually anyone who deals “with oceans on a daily basis,” in the words of Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the Republican who recently lost a primary, who is a supporter.

    So long has the “Law of the Sea” treaty been stalled on Capitol Hill that its opponents — a handful of conservative Republicans who view it as an infringement on American sovereignty — have taken to calling it “LOST, ” an uncharitable, if apt, acronym.

    Memo to Mark Landler and The Old Grey Lady – the correct acronym is UNCLOS, as in “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.” And nice job not to use the correct acronym anywhere in the story and thus propagate another wingnut talking point (tell me once again how liberal the New York Times supposedly is…by the way, the story tells us that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified at the invitation of Sen. John Kerry, head of the Foreign Relations Committee).

    I’ve been posting to one degree or another about this topic for the last five years because, as noted here (from October 2007)…

    The Law of the Sea Convention was concluded in 1982 and went into force in 1994. President Reagan opposed U.S. participation because of one provision dealing with deep seabed mining. That provision was amended in 1994 to satisfy U.S. concerns and signed by President Clinton, but the Senate ignored it.

    (In 2004), the Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously in favor of the treaty but the full Senate, then in Republican hands, did not take it up.

    The treaty recognizes sovereign rights over a country’s continental shelf out to 200 nautical miles and beyond if the country can provide evidence to substantiate its claims. It gives Arctic countries 10 years after they ratify the treaty to prove their claims under the polar ice cap. The United States, with its Alaskan coast, is the only Arctic nation not party to the treaty.

    Also (as noted here)…

    …unless the United States joins up, it could very well lose out in what is shaping up as a mad scramble to lay claim to what are believed to be immense deposits of oil, gas and other resources under the Arctic ice — deposits that are becoming more and more accessible as the earth warms and the ice melts.

    So who exactly is standing in the way of ratifying UNCLOS in the Senate (besides perpetual climate denier Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, I mean)?

    The Times tells us…

    Senator James Risch of Idaho said it would oblige the United States to adhere to international agreements to stem greenhouse gas emissions. “That’s got Kyoto written all over it,” he said, referring to the climate change treaty rejected by the United States.

    Mr. Risch seemed particularly rankled by Mrs. Clinton’s contention that the treaty’s opponents were driven by “ideology and mythology,” not facts. “I hope you weren’t scoffing at us,” he said. “I’m one of those that fall into that category.”

    Which is totally not surprising since Risch is one of the “44 Congressional Darlings of the Koch Brothers” Caucus; as noted here, Risch isn’t even in the top tier of recipients – he’s from the second-level “gang of eight” that received about $87 grand total (and don’t you know that “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey is on that list too).

    The political gamesmanship on this issue (which plays into both our military and economic well-being, to say nothing of the future survival of this planet) is something more representative of a third-world, pseudo Marxist-Leninist tribal backwater than a country that is supposedly the leader of industrialized nations. And the fact that it has gone on now for 30 years with no end in sight is so absurd as to be beyond parody.

    Update 7/18/12: OWWWW, TEH STUPID!!! IT BURNS US!!!

  • Finally, I give you the following hilarity from Michelle Malkin (here, in the matter of the resignation of Gregory Jaczko as the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission)…

    (Nevada Dem Senator Harry) Reid connived to install Jaczko at the NRC to carry on their shared crusade against the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste facility in Nye County, Nevada. Despite assurances that he would recuse himself, Jaczko proceeded to meddle aggressively in the issue. After the Obama administration named Jaczko chairman of the safety panel in 2009, all hell broke loose — and then some.

    Oh, and by the way, Jaczko was named to the NRC in 2005. Now who would have been president back then?


    Hmmm, let me think…

    Continuing…

    Out of fear that researchers would confirm positive safety data, Jaczko ordered NRC staff to halt a technical evaluation of Yucca Mountain. Then he used the lack of data to order a complete work stoppage on the long-obstructed project. Last summer, the NRC inspector general determined that Jaczko “strategically withheld” information from the rest of the panel, manipulated agendas, and “was not forthcoming about his intent” to shut down Yucca by any means necessary.

    Let us not forget that any actions by any government official that runs contrary to the wishes of Malkin and her ilk automatically constitutes a conspiracy of one type or another (And any proof of “positive safety data,” by the way? What on earth does that phrase even mean?).

    Continuing…

    (Jaczko) kept the panel in the dark on other matters, too. After the Fukushima meltdown in Japan, Jaczko ordered his staff to hoard safety findings and keep them from other commissioners while he made unilateral policy decisions against their will.

    In the course of his investigation, the NRC inspector general heard from numerous commission staffers about Jaczko’s “unprofessional behavior” and outbursts of anger that created an “intimidating workplace environment.” The report said Jaczko told investigators he “regretted” his temper tantrums.

    Last fall, the entire commission sent an extraordinary letter to the White House expressing “grave concerns” about Jaczko the Jerk’s continued boorishness. “We believe that his actions and behavior are causing serious damage to this institution and are creating a chilled work environment at the NRC,” wrote NRC commissioners George Apostolakis and William D. Magwood IV (Democrats) and William C. Ostendorff and Kristine L. Svinicki (Republicans). Commission staff detailed how Jaczko’s “shaking angry” rage fests caused at least one woman to cry, and prompted Svinicki to have a staffer accompany her whenever she was in Jaczko’s presence.

    In response, I give you the following from here

    In the wake of the (nuclear accident in Japan), Jaczko sought recommendations for US nuclear safety. The Near-Term Task Force (NTTF) Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Accident produced a collection of basic (and, as discussed here, rather weak) recommendations last summer. Chairman Jaczko tried to start the process of turning those recommendations into rules–a process that could stretch beyond five years–but met objections from each of the other four commissioners. Jaczko also wanted lessons learned from Fukushima included in construction and licensing permits granted to four AP1000 reactors (two to be built in Georgia, two in South Carolina), but the chairman was outvoted four-to-one by his fellow NRC members.

    Doesn’t sound to me like Jaczko “kept the (NRC) panel in the dark” and “made unilateral policy decisions against their will” (of course, Malkin’s lies fall under the heading of “sky is blue and water is wet”…what would be newsworthy would be if she were actually telling the truth).

    Continuing…

    (Another) (and most often referenced) complaint fired at Jaczko was that he had created a “hostile work environment,” especially for women. Though Svinicki, the only woman on the commission, lamented Jaczko’s tone, the specific “charge” (if it can be called that) was brought by Commissioner William Magwood. Magwood said there were female staffers that Jaczko had brought to tears, though none of those women personally came forward (because, it was said last year, they did not want to relive the humiliation).

    The story gained extra prominence when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY; Kentucky, by the way, home to a nuclear waste nightmare called Paducah) attempted to use this alleged incident to disrupt the rising narrative of the Republican “war on women.” McConnell and others from his side of the aisle took to the microphones to denounce the administration’s treatment of whistleblowers and praise the apparently brave and much put-upon Svinicki.

    In what seems to be a rare case where the public’s relative lack of interest in nuclear regulation can be called a positive, McConnell’s gambit failed. . .

    . . . at least in derailing the “War on Women” story. (It also probably owes much to the GOP actually continuing its war on women.)

    But when it came to serving the nuclear industry, McConnell’s contribution to the ouster of Jaczko will likely be rewarded. . . with industry contributions of the monetary kind.

    (The nuclear industry, it should be noted, was not a fan of Jaczko because of his emphasis on safety, particularly in light of the Fukushima accident. Something else that should be noted is that President Obama nominated Svinicki, a Republican, to the commission for a second term this year over the objections of Harry Reid and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California.)

    Was Jaczko a tyrant on the job? Probably, maybe…I don’t care (unless he was doing anything illegal, which is another story). What I do care about is that someone takes his place as NRC head who isn’t a craven industry shill and who would actually pay attention to safety considerations (such a person would no doubt also earn Malkin’s enmity, a life form who, as noted here, knows a thing or two herself about meltdowns).


  • Greece Is The Word

    May 8, 2010

    (For Friday money mania, that is…)

    I had to laugh when reading this L.A. Times “Top of the Ticket” post which, shockingly, didn’t involve former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm…

    In Athens, government workers are rioting in the streets, protesting cuts in their salaries, benefits and pensions. Three bankers burned to death after protesters set their building on fire while they were at work. Police are using tear gas. Officials in France and Germany, which is underwriting much of Greece’s debt of $141 billion, are watching with alarm.

    With U.S. debt also mounting — much of it owed to the Chinese — pundits are beginning to wonder if those street protests in Greece are a window on America’s future. These are not riots from the Right — the “tea party” is angry about deficit spending, but hardly the kind of movement that would target businesses or government cutbacks. These are attacks on capitalism from the Left.

    And of course, this segues ever-so-nicely into a Michelle Malkin post about SEIU workers supposedly “march(ing) in the streets of San Francisco last fall over budget cuts and layoffs” (and how is that illegal?) and the Times also notes acts of vandalism in the same paragraph to smear the SEIU with some old-fashioned “guilt by association.”

    All of this is meant to imply that the rioting in Greece could happen here also, which I find to be extremely unlikely.

    And the Murdoch Street Journal, in a shockingly lucid moment, tells us why here…

    Ruled by neo-Marxists at the time, Greece scraped into the EU in 1981 and has since lagged behind the rest of the club. Before the advent of the euro, inflation was four times the bloc average. The political-economic default in that era was for the Athens government to devalue its currency, instantly reducing the standard of living of its citizens but avoiding pro-growth reforms.

    Athens got an exemption from the EU’s debt rules in order to join the single currency bloc in 2001, a year before euro notes and coins went into circulation. The country rode the wave of the stable currency, low inflation and low interest rates throughout the good times of the euro’s first decade. Membership in the euro was an incentive for Greek politicians to institute fiscal discipline and carry through reforms to improve their competitiveness. They did neither, preferring the easy path of low-cost borrowing, which is how they got into their current mess.

    As a euro member, Greece no longer has the option of debasing its currency, which was one of the main arguments for creating and joining the euro bloc. This means the burden of adjustment for years of borrowing is now falling on the Greek government, which is where it rightly belongs. The realization of this adjustment is what has Greek civil servants marching in the streets. The government could help ease the pain if it pushed such pro-growth reforms as a flat tax and moved Greece up in the Doing Business categories.

    Of course, since we’re talking about the Journal, they make sure to sneak in a dig at “the welfare state model of development, dominated by public unions, onerous regulations, high taxes and the political allocation of capital” also.

    Also, as told here by U.S. House Repug Cathy McMorris-Rodgers…

    The Obama administration should protect U.S. taxpayers and publicly oppose a European bailout (through the IMF). At the very least, the president should be upfront and forthright about the potential costs of such a bailout. And he should take ownership of his decision by acknowledging he has tools at his disposal to stop a bailout, if he chooses to use them.

    In response, I give you Paul Krugman today in the New York Times (here)…

    So how does this end? Logically, I see three ways Greece could stay on the euro.

    First, Greek workers could redeem themselves through suffering, accepting large wage cuts that make Greece competitive enough to add jobs again. Second, the European Central Bank could engage in much more expansionary policy, among other things buying lots of government debt, and accepting — indeed welcoming — the resulting inflation; this would make adjustment in Greece and other troubled euro-zone nations much easier. Or third, Berlin could become to Athens what Washington is to Sacramento — that is, fiscally stronger European governments could offer their weaker neighbors enough aid to make the crisis bearable.

    The trouble, of course, is that none of these alternatives seem politically plausible.

    What remains seems unthinkable: Greece leaving the euro. But when you’ve ruled out everything else, that’s what’s left.

    If it happens, it will play something like Argentina in 2001, which had a supposedly permanent, unbreakable peg to the dollar. Ending that peg was considered unthinkable for the same reasons leaving the euro seems impossible: even suggesting the possibility would risk crippling bank runs. But the bank runs happened anyway, and the Argentine government imposed emergency restrictions on withdrawals. This left the door open for devaluation, and Argentina eventually walked through that door.

    If something like that happens in Greece, it will send shock waves through Europe, possibly triggering crises in other countries. But unless European leaders are able and willing to act far more boldly than anything we’ve seen so far, that’s where this is heading.

    So basically, we pay now or pay later, people (another miracle of our global economy).

    Oh, and given the utter unlikelihood of violence transpiring in this country over our own budget shortfalls (as the Journal tells us, the U.S. is still in much better shape), I have some advice for U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who said in the L.A. Times story that “Never in my decades in Congress have I seen a public so outraged by deficits and debt…It is enough to look across the Atlantic at Greece’s extreme economic crisis and understand it can happen here. If we don’t change course, it will happen here.”

    God Steny, grow a pair, willya?

    Update 5/14/10: What Paul Krugman sez here…


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