Friday Mashup (6/13/14)

June 13, 2014
  • This story tells us the following (about the recent idiocy in North Carolina Virginia where Phillip Puckett, a thoroughly compromised Dem in the state senate, agreed to resign for a plumb patronage job that he since has chosen not to accept, and let the Repugs take over that body, denying Medicaid expansion in that state)…

    Puckett’s resignation leads the way for him to get a job as deputy director of the state tobacco commission and for his daughter to be confirmed for a state judgeship. Depending on how you look at it, it’s politics at its worst — or best.

    “Republicans I’ve talked to are chortling,” Larry Sabato, founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told Business Insider. “They think it’s one of the cleverest things they’ve done.”

    “And yet,” he added, “one of them asked me, ‘Do you think Democrats would not have done the same thing if they had the opportunity?’ And of course they would have. It’s yet another reason people hate politicians.”

    Perhaps, but is there a recent example of such an occurrence? You know, engaging in political nonsense that could prevent nearly 400,00 people in the state of North Carolina from receiving health care (here)? And let’s see how many Repugs are “chortling” in light of this.

    And Sabato follows up with the following…

    “This is really about Obamacare,” Sabato said of the dispute. “Forget about Medicaid.”

    I realize that it’s Sabato’s job to comment on the “horse race” political stuff and not necessarily the wonky material about, you know, actual policy and legislation that makes a difference in people’s lives, but if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about on this issue (and he obviously doesn’t), then he should shut up.

    You see, the people affected by the treachery orchestrated by Puckett and the North Carolina Repugs are (again) primarily the poor in his state who are due to receive the benefits of “Obamacare” through Medicaid expansion. Arguing that the two are separate in this case is disingenuous at best and outright lying at worst.

    This is par for the ridiculous course when it comes to Sabato, though; as noted here, he once said that the Swift Boat liars who impugned John Kerry ten years ago (remember that one?) were telling the truth; he also said that it would be “a national disgrace” to continue “the Clinton/Bush dynasty” (another idiotic construct as far as I’m concerned; things were a hell of a lot better for me and everyone I know under Bill than under either of the Bushes); and he also said (in the post I linked to previously) that the Democrats are the “mommy” party while the Repugs are the “daddy” party.

  • Next, I give you some truly ripe stuff from Larry Kudlow (here)…

    The Democrats want a minimum-wage hike. That may sound great on the surface, but it’s actually a big job loser for the lowest-skilled and poorest among us. President Obama and his EPA have launched a war on coal, which will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs if implemented. And then there’s Obamacare, which the CBO estimates will cost at least 2.5 million jobs.

    I don’t know how Kudlow can make that claim about the minimum wage with any degree of seriousness whatsoever (much more on that is available from here).

    And as far as coal goes, I also don’t know how Kudlow can seriously make the claim that Obama has “launched a war on coal,” considering that his administration encourages coal burning by aggressively issuing permits to mine coal on federal land, especially the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, as noted here.

    But wait, there’s more…

    With coal demand at home expected to fall by 20 per cent due to new regulations, and competitive pressure from low-priced natural gas, coal companies are now pushing to increase exports to Asia. … Three new coal-export ports are being proposed for the Pacific coast: two in Washington state and one in Oregon. They could eventually ship up to 100 million tons of coal per year—an amountequivalent to the total volume of coal the U.S. will export this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA). …

    Environmentalists warn that emissions from that volume of coal would dwarf the savings from Obama’s new power plant rule.

    Since 2009, the Obama administration has sold leases for more than two billion tons of coal in the Powder River Basin for rates as low as $1 per ton, drawing the wrath of critics, including some in Congress, who say too much coal is being leased too cheaply. (Coal from the Powder River Basin is worth about $13 per ton.)

    As it reviews its long-term plans for the leases, which could eventually put another 10 billion tons of coal up for auction, the administration has so far resisted calls to include carbon emissions abroad in its decision-making.

    In addition, it looks like Kudlow is trying to propagandize once more about how the Affordable Care Law is a supposed job killer, when in reality (here)…

    The reduction in work hours that equates to 2.5 million jobs “stems almost entirely” from Americans deciding to work less or not at all in order to retain their eligibility for the Affordable Care Act’s expanded Medicaid coverage or government health insurance subsidies, the CBO analysis concludes.

    More on that is here; basically, we’re talking about a reduction in work hours that equates to 2.5 million jobs. Or, to give you an example close to home, maybe Mrs. Doomsy could continue to work on-call for about 20 hours or so a week if she qualified for “Obamacare” instead of having to work a minimum of 32 hours a week for her employer to get health insurance by that way instead (that’s partly a hypothetical and partly reality too, for the record).

    (Oh, and by the way, as you go to the polls later this year, please remember which political party was responsible for a near-catastrophic government shut down last year, and also remember who was one of the shut down’s biggest cheerleaders.)

  • Further, James Jay Carafano waxes hysterical as follows (here)…

    Iraq is a shambles. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Al Qaeda off-shoot that now controls nearly a third of the nation, continues to run amok.

    It’s way past time for the White House to get its head in the game. The disaster unfolding in Iraq and Syria could very quickly spiral into a much, much bigger problem. And some problems are so big that even our president can’t spin his way out.

    At the top of the list of what the administration should be worrying about—and preparing to deal with—is the potential for an endless three-way civil war in Iraq. With Sunni, Shia and Kurds fighting one another, it would look something like the civil war in Syria—on steroids.

    Of course, back during the supposedly glorious days of Iraq War II, no one could have predicted that the quagmire in Mesopotamia would turn out to be favorable to Iran. Right?

    In response, I give you James Jay Carafano in 2010 (here)…

    Here is what we know for sure. 1) Given the state of Iraq in 2006, the country is in a much better place today that any reasonable observer then dared hope. 2) Iraq is better off than it was in the age of Saddam. Now the country has a future, and it rests in the hands of its people. Bonus: The world is rid one of its most dangerous and bloodthirsty thugs. Yes, it was a heavy price. Freedom rarely comes cheap. 3) The surge worked. The surge never promised a land of “milk and honey.” It just promised to break the cycle of continuous, unrelenting violence, to give the new Iraqi political process a chance, and to allow the Iraqis time to build the capacity for their own security. It did that. 4) Things didn’t turn out the way Bush planned. But the vision — a free Iraq without Saddam — was achieved. Remember, things didn’t turn out the way FDR planned either. He said all the troops would be out of Europe in two years.

    By the way, Carafano wrote the above column on August 19th, the day that Obama announced that all combat operations would end by August 31st, with the full withdrawal scheduled for December 2011 (here). And after that, the attacks started to ramp up again.

    Here is my point – if Carafano said that “this is the way history works” in 2010, acting like he was OK with what Obama was doing, then wasn’t Carafano just as wrong then as he thinks Obama is now (and personally, I think Obama was correct, as opposed to Carafano)?

  • Continuing, I came across this real whopper from Dr. Ben Carson (here – page 2)…

    Over the past year, I have learned a great deal about the press in America. It is not uniformly unfair with nefarious agendas, but a significant portion is. One of the best ways to determine which news organizations are objective and which have an agenda is to keep a scorecard that lists both electronic and print media. When evaluating a story, check off whether it is concentrating on factual reporting or demonization. If there is controversy, determine whether both points of view are considered. If major stories of a political nature are ignored or barely mentioned, that should raise suspicions about objectivity.

    You know what? I think Carson is actually onto something here. So, following up on his idea of a “score card,” I came up with the following…

    Story Demonization Factual Reporting
    Here Carson compares gay men and women to bestiality supporters. Bestiality is abhorrent to the gay community and just about every other life form that I know of (duuuh!).
    Here The VA scandal is “A gift from God” according to Carson. The VA scandal is a national bipartisan tragedy, owing primarily to the huge burden of treating our military personnel fighting two wars begun under the prior administration (not a criticism of our military in any way, of course – not their problem that Bushco was a gang of thugs who were asleep on 9/11).
    Here Carson compared the Affordable Care Law to “slavery.” Over 8 million (and counting) citizens of this country now have access to health care, many of whom had no access before.
    Here Carson once said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was right to call America “godless.” Why should we take seriously supposed lessons in morality from a thug who annexed Crimea away from Ukraine (you can go in many other directions here, I’ll admit).
    Here Carson invokes Lenin (no, not the Beatle) in attacking the Affordable Care Law. Sigh – is this really necessary anymore?

    Of course, if you want to do any research about Carson on your own, dear reader (trying to determine “factual reporting” vs. “demonization” without a visual aid, even the one as primitive as I provided), you can always just click here.

  • Update 6/14/14: Turning to Philadelphia-area stuff, it looks like a SEPTA transit strike is underway. I’m not totally familiar with all of the issues, though it apparently involves pension contributions and cost-of-living increases for transit workers (have to read more about it, as they say). It also looks like our illustrious governor, Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett, is going to ask Obama to appoint an executive-level commission, or something, to look into the matter, meaning that the striking workers will have to return to their jobs for a minimum of 240 days.

    I’m noting this particularly because of the following (here)…

    Bucks County Commissioner Charles H. Martin, who serves on SEPTA’s board of directors, said he was not aware of any plans by Bucks officials to handle potential traffic headaches.

    “Frankly, I don’t know what we could do,” he said.

    He said most people employed by the county and working in the county seat of Doylestown already drive to work, and would be unaffected by a Regional Rail strike.

    I know this may be hard for Mr. “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” to comprehend, but not all of the residents of Bucks County work in Doylestown (facepalm).

    Here’s a thought – why not try to encourage businesses to arrange staggered shifts for their employees or set up/encourage telecommuting or flex time options? Do anything you can to try and alleviate further traffic problems that may result from the strike!

    God, what a maroon (Update 6/16/14 – Hopefully, though, the strike won’t be an issue based in part on this)…

  • Finally (and returning to Fix Noise), I give you the following here

    This week, the president is speaking and acting on the issue of student loans for higher education. He appears to truly believe that a college education is important and is taking executive action to help students pay for their education. This seems like a straightforward feel-good issue…except there is a painful irony hiding behind the president’s words and actions.

    A closer look at the president’s Department of Education, sadly, reveals an elitist streak when it comes to higher education. At the same time that the president is speaking grandly about helping students pay for college, his education department is moving forward on a regulation that would severely limit the opportunity for college for a certain type of student — those attending non-traditional, private-sector colleges.

    There’s a hell of a lot of “red meat” and “dog whistle” language in what I suppose is a column that’s primarily an editorial as opposed to actual news (Number 44 is “elitist” and “classist,” etc., whatever the hell that means).

    I suppose this Jean Card person from Fox is responding to this news story (including the following)…

    The Obama administration is proposing to tighten oversight of for-profit colleges through new rules that seek to limit how much debt students can amass in career-training programs.

    The proposal, announced Friday, is the administration’s second try at regulations setting standards for what colleges must do to ensure that graduates of career programs get “gainful employment.”

    The first gainful employment initiative, debated from 2009 to 2011, spawned a huge campaign by for-profit colleges to block new regulation. The colleges, supported by many congressional Republicans and some Democrats, said then that they had been unfairly targeted and that the initiative would hurt low-income students.

    Obama administration officials said they were trying to protect those students from low-quality programs that would saddle them with too much debt.

    The Education Department issued a rule in 2011 that set standards for loan-repayment rates and the ratio of graduates’ debt to income. Programs that failed the tests could be disqualified from participation in the federal student aid, which would essentially shut them down. But in 2012, a federal judge blocked major provisions of that rule, forcing the department to start over.

    The new proposal jettisons the repayment-rate metric. Instead, it would require that the estimated loan payments of typical graduates not exceed 20 percent of discretionary income or 8 percent of total annual income.

    If someone has a principled disagreement with what Obama is trying to do here, then I honestly get that. I do support the president on this, I wish to emphasize, because I don’t see anyone else out there lifting a finger to try in rein in student debt.

    More information on this is available from here, including the following…

    A year ago, President Obama set a national goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. But because of the high costs of college, about two-thirds of graduates take out loans with an average student debt of over $23,000. This debt is particularly burdensome for graduates who choose to enter lower-paying public service careers, suffer setbacks such as unemployment or serious illness, or fail to complete their degree.

    To ensure that Americans can afford their student loan payments, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act gives student borrowers new choices in how they repay their loans. The initiative was developed by the Middle Class Task Force chaired by Vice President Biden, and it will expand the income-based repayment plan for federal student loans that was put in place last summer. More than 1.2 million borrowers are projected to qualify and take part in the expanded IBR program.

    Under this new law, students enrolling in 2014 or later can choose to:

    Limit Payments to 10 Percent of Income: Borrowers choosing the income-based repayment plan will pay no more than 10 percent of their income above a basic living allowance, reduced from 15 percent under current law. The basic living allowance varies with family size and is set at 150 percent of the poverty line, currently equaling about $16,500 for a single individual and $33,000 for a family of four.

    ◦More than 1 million borrowers would be eligible to reduce their monthly payments.

    ◦The payment will be reduced by more than $110 per month for a single borrower who earns $30,000 a year and owes $20,000 in college loans, based on 2009 figures.

    Forgive Any Remaining Debt after 20 Years, or after 10 Years for Those in Public Service: Borrowers who take responsibility for their loans and make their monthly payments will see their remaining balance forgiven after 20 years of payments, reduced from 25 years in current law.

    ◦Public service workers – such as teachers, nurses, and those in military service – will see any remaining debt forgiven after 10 years.

    Fully Funded by Student Loan Reforms: These new initiatives are funded by ending the current subsidies given to financial institutions that make guaranteed federal student loans. Starting July 1, all new loans will be direct loans delivered and collected by private companies under performance-based contracts with the Department of Education. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, ending these wasteful subsidies will free up nearly $68 billion for college affordability and deficit reduction over the next 11 years.

    And by the way, let’s not forget that the ridiculous practice of paying subsidies to financial institutions for basically nothing as part of the student loan process was ended by congressional Democrats in March 2010, with nary a single Republican voting in support (here).

    Oh, and speaking of the “respectful opposition,” this tells us that Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao did what he does best, and that was to launch yet another filibuster, this time of the student loan legislation sponsored by Dem Senator Elizabeth Warren (“come back louder” indeed).

    And things are no better in the House, of course; I give you the following…

    Congressman Fitzpatrick votes to protect the ultra-wealthy and votes against making college more affordable for America’s students and families

    Today, Congressman Fitzpatrick voted with Republicans to block H.R. 4582 “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act,” the House version of Senator Warren’s companion bill that would allow students to refinance their loans at much lower rates than they are currently paying today.

    Congressman Fitzpatrick’s Republican budget charges students $40 billion more in loan interest, in order to pay for more tax breaks for those who need help the least, like special interests and the wealthiest Americans. Today’s vote was the latest in a record that clearly places the interests of banks above those of students.

    “Once again, Congressman Fitzpatrick gave us a clear view of his priorities when he voted with the Republicans against a bill that would lower the cost of education for students. Congressman Fitzpatrick has no problem standing up for tax breaks for the bankers and special interests he is supposed to regulate as a member of the House Financial Services Committee–but when it comes to helping Bucks County students and their families pay for college, Fitzpatrick turns his back on them” Strouse said.

    Strouse added, “Congressman Fitzpatrick continues to vote to protect the interests of wealthy bankers, while ignoring the needs of the middle-class. If America is going to succeed in a 21st century economy, we need to have the best-educated, best-trained workforce possible, and Congressman Fitzpatrick voting against making college more affordable for students in Pennsylvania’s 8th District is exactly the kind of representation we do not need in Washington.”

    ###

    Kevin Strouse is a former Army Ranger, CIA counterterrorism analyst, and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who lives in Middletown, Pa., with his wife, Amy, and two young children, Walter and Charlotte. He is currently Program Director of Teach2Serve, a non-profit that teaches social entrepreneurship to local high school students. He earned his BA from Columbia University and a Masters in Security Studies from Georgetown University, graduating with honors.

    To support Kevin Strouse in his campaign against Mikey the Beloved (and stand up on this among many other important issues), please click here.

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    Friday Mashup (6/7/13)

    June 7, 2013

    1004_Cover-Who-Stole-the-American-Dream

  • Before I say another word, I have to put in a plug for this terrific book. Writer Hedrick Smith does a great job of explaining exactly how we have come to our current predicament in this country when it comes to the economy primarily, but also when it comes to the climate crisis, our seemingly permanent political-military-industrial surveillance state, and the urgent need for electoral reform, which kind of hovers over most every other problem (made it just about all the way through…I’ll say something else when I finish). He also provides recommendations on what we can do to turn things around (think more civic involvement on every level for starters). We all should read this.
  • Turning to the other stuff, somehow I missed this little item from last week; another stellar moment from our wet noodle PA-08 Republican U.S. House Rep…

    Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and his Republican House colleagues have voted 37 times to repeal various portions of the Affordable Care Act.

    Now, a bill he has sponsored along with a Nevada Republican would maintain several consumer protections and access to health insurance coverage in the highly unlikely event Democrats would join in to repeal the health care measure.

    “This bill gives us a practical way to keep the popular parts of the Affordable Care Act while Congress finds a solution to fix the unpopular parts that have many Americans deeply concerned,” Fitzpatrick said Tuesday.

    Fitzpatrick, R-8, has teamed with Joe Heck, R-Nev., an osteopathic physician, to write the Ensuring Quality Health Care for All Americans Act of 2013.

    Well, bless Mikey’s pointed little head (and as noted from here, “unpopular” in this context is code for “Yeah, well, get rid of this stuff and you’ve basically gutted health care reform”)…

    In order to preserve the current system of private health insurance while barring insurance companies from unsavory practices such as denying claims based on pre-existing conditions, every American must buy into the insurance risk pool. Otherwise, sick Americans would only purchase coverage when convenient while forgoing it while they are healthy, creating a vicious cycle that would drive health insurance premiums through the roof and eventually destroy the insurance industry. In turn, hospitals wouldn’t receive compensation for their services, thus bankrupting care providers, too.

    H.R. 2165 would also eliminate the various taxes that fund Obamacare, meaning that poor Americans wouldn’t be able to access an expanded Medicaid pool. Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion is expected to provide basic health coverage to over 21 million low-income Americans by 2022.

    I don’t know where Justin Kevin Strouse, one of two declared Dem opponents against Fitzpatrick for 2014, comes down on the issue of the Affordable Care Act (might be a good idea for him to defend it – just sayin’), but to learn more about him and help his campaign, click here (and by the way, Mikey also voted for this mess).

    And keeping it local (and related to health care), I came across this item also from Mikey’s PR factory…

    A year ago, state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo publicly criticized Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal to cut 20 percent from the budget of human services and turn seven line items into one block grant.

    He described the plan as a “disaster” and fought to have a portion of the money restored.

    Today, the Republican chair of the House Human Services Committee again opposes the Republican governor. DiGirolamo has come out in favor of a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, the expansion of Medicaid eligibility for the working poor.

    “A lot of people might not like Obamacare, but whether you like it or not it’s the law of the land,” said DiGirolamo, who represents Bensalem. “We have to make a decision that’s best for Pennsylvania.”

    DiGirolamo is definitely not one of my favorite people, but I think he’s what was once known as a fairly moderate Republican on a lot of issues; he also knows the political calculus of how strong a voting bloc senior citizens are in PA and in this country overall. For whatever reason exactly, he deserves credit for this.

    But of course, we have to have the full-on insane right-wing screeching over this story too, apparently…

    Jennifer Stefano, state director of Americans for Prosperity, called the Medicaid system “broken,” and said those who receive care through Medicaid “experience worse health outcomes than those who are without coverage at all.”

    One-third of Pennsylvania’s doctors will not accept new Medicaid patients, she said, because of the program’s “convoluted, multi-layered regulations and low compensation rates.”

    She praised Corbett “for not buying into this failed aspect of the president’s health care law.”

    (Typical for the Courier Times not to properly identify AFP with the Koch Brothers, by the way.)

    As you might have guessed, Stefano has attacked Medicaid before, and she was just as wrong then as she is now (here – fifth bullet).

  • Next, did you know that the IRS “scandal” involving former director Douglas Shulman (you know, the ones where the Teahadists were “targeted” when they applied for 501(c)(4) status as “social welfare” organizations that supposedly didn’t engage in political activity) was part of a scheme involving Obama aide Stephanie Cutter to basically ramrod health care into law?

    No – living in the world of reality, I don’t expect that you would (or, as Carol Platt Liebau puts it here)…

    May 2009 – Cutter moves to White House from Treasury Department
    January 2010 – Citizens United is handed down; Democrats are hysterical
    March 2010 – IRS begins targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups
    April 2010 – Cutter assigned to sell health care reform; if meetings with Shulman didn’t occur before, presumably they did so afterwards.

    I’m pretty much speechless as I read that – so I guess Liebau’s none-too-subtle timeline alleges that not only did that Kenyan Muslim Socialist pre-zee-dint seek to target the teabaggers, but he wanted to shove some “big gumint” health care scheme down their throats also (with the willing assistance of Number 44’s army of ACORN volunteers and the New Black Panther Party, I’m sure…I watched a little bit of “The Last Word” last night, and apparently, this is a preview of the new Repug nonsense on attacking the health care law).

    And here’s another shaky pillar in what passes for Liebau’s argument…

    So whether or not the stated purpose of the meetings was about ObamaCare — unless Shulman’s politics are very different from the lefty leanings of his wife — it isn’t hard to imagine Shulman and Cutter exchanging some congruent views.

    That might be true if Shulman shared Cutter’s political worldview, as it were, which is unlikely given that Shulman was an appointee of Former President Nutball, as noted here. Of course, given that there’s no “there” there in Liebau’s charge, you could rightly wonder how much it matters anyway.

    And I think what Liebau is arguing is that, somehow, Power violated the Hatch Act that bans government officials from political activity. I don’t buy that; besides, Power truly has nothing on former Bushie Lurita Doan in that department (here), who basically endured humiliation in the court of public opinion for it, and rightly so, but she avoided jail time or any kind of punitive sanction for it.

    This is typical for Liebau, though, who, as noted here, also alleged with no proof that the Obama Administration once offered a job to former Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff in exchange for dropping out of that election (and based on this, it looks like Romanoff has declared that he will challenge Repug incumbent Mike Coffman in CO-06 for next year).

  • However much I may disagree with Liebau, though, she’s got nothing on Fred Barnes when it comes to “catapulting the propaganda,” as noted here

    Faced with such obstacles (my note: the already-mentioned IRS stuff, the AP/James Rosen stuff and BENGHAZI! BENGHAZI! BENGHAZI!), the president could focus instead on his own domestic agenda—if he had one. He doesn’t. He’s paying the price for a re-election campaign that was based on attacking his opponent, Mitt Romney, and not much else. In the president’s State of the Union address in February, he endorsed a $9 minimum wage and universal prekindergarten for 4-year-olds, but those proposals lack a popular mandate. If he had campaigned for them last year, they might have better prospects now.

    In response, this recent Gallup poll tells us 71% want an increase in the minimum wage to $9. And while I can’t find approval numbers on pre-k funding, this tells us that we’re a little past that point anyway, unfortunately.

    Continuing with Barnes…

    The exclusion of Republicans from a role in crafting ObamaCare has also backfired. By failing to ensure that the GOP had some influence on the health-care law, the president gave them no reason to support its implementation.

    This tells us the Republican proposals included in the health care bill (don’t know how many were included when the bill was signed into law – I’d be interested in finding out a comparison of Democratic vs. Republican amendments to see which ones got in and which ones didn’t, but I can’t locate that information at the moment. And of course, Barnes really didn’t even try to locate that either, did he?).

    Continuing…

    Then, after the November election, Mr. Obama spurned conciliation. He upped the ante, calling for higher spending, a new economic stimulus and an increase in the debt limit without congressional approval. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell laughed out loud when he heard the proposal.

    And maybe, just maybe, that’s one of the reasons why Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao is currently the most unpopular U.S. Senator in this country, as noted here.

    Oh, and on the subject of “increasing the debt limit without congressional approval,” which would have entailed minting a trillion-dollar debt coin, if you will, by the Treasury, Obama rejected the idea, for the record (yet more Barnes propaganda – a big time Barnes slap-down is here).

  • Continuing on the topic of Obama Administration “scandals,” it looks like Fix Noise is trying to trump up yet another one here

    The former White House adviser and longtime Obama friend nominated Wednesday as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has a history of controversial comments that could haunt her in confirmation — including likening U.S. foreign policies to those of the Nazis.

    In a March 2003 New Republic magazine essay, Samantha Power wrote that American foreign policy needs a “historical reckoning” which would entail “opening the files” and “acknowledging the force of a mantra we have spent the last decade promoting in Guatemala, South Africa, and Yugoslavia.”

    She continued: “Instituting a doctrine of the mea culpa would enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors. When (German Chancellor Willy) Brandt went down on one knee in the Warsaw ghetto, his gesture was gratifying to World War II survivors, but it was also ennobling and cathartic for Germany. Would such an approach be futile for the United States?”

    I read through this entire screed, and I can’t find a single instance of claims by Power that invoke the Nazis. Unless of course someone at this joke of a “news” site saw the name Willy Brandt and automatically made the association (and to find out how incorrect an association that is, all you need to do is read this).

    So what else is supposedly wrong with Power? Well…

    …others say her views on the Middle East spark concerns about her position on Israel. She once suggested the possibility of military intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

    As you read that, keep in mind that Fix Noise and their fellow wingnuts spent much of last year pumping up the presidential candidacy of one Willard Mitt Romney. And in the godawful circumstance of a Romney victory last November, he would have reunited many of the truly bad actors of the fetid Bushco years, particularly on foreign policy, where we heard about nothing but military intervention on Iran, which would have been a cataclysmic mistake (here – a more thorough debunking of the claim that Power supported invading Israel can be found from here).

    I guess the “Foxies” realized that claiming that Obama supposedly didn’t honor our vets on Memorial Day here wasn’t going to fly (here), so it was time to journey down the rabbit hole over something else (and on the matter of politicians and Memorial Day, I wonder why “Senator Honor and Virtue” gets a complete and total pass here from our corporate media for staging his little Syria visit on the day when we honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation?).

  • And as long as we’re on the subject of members of our prior ruling cabal, I give you Michael Hayden, former CIA director (here)…

    In the case of the Associated Press report on a Yemen-based bomb plot, the source had apparently penetrated an al Qaeda network and there were hopes that he could continue to be exploited.

    In the Fox News report on North Korea’s intention to test a nuclear weapon, James Rosen told us not just that the United States judged that Pyongyang would respond to impending sanctions with a test. He pointedly added that a source in North Korea had told us so.

    These kinds of stories get people killed. While at CIA I recounted to a group of news bureau chiefs that, when an agency presence in a denied area had been revealed in the media, two assets had been detained and executed. The CIA site there wrote: “Regret that we cannot address this loss of life with the person who decided to leak our mission to the newspapers.”

    I actually think that’s well said. However, the column also contains this…

    A quick survey of former Bush administration colleagues confirmed my belief that a proposal to sweep up a trove of AP phone records or James Rosen’s e-mails would have had a half-life of about 30 seconds in that administration.

    Really? I’m sure James Risen of the New York Times would disagree – as noted here

    ABC News reported on May 15, 2006, that senior federal law enforcement officials had informed them that the government was tracking the phone numbers of journalists without the journalists’ knowledge as part of an effort to root out the journalists’ confidential sources. . . I was mentioned by name as one of the reporters whose work the government was looking into.

    The only reason why the Bush gang didn’t do the same stuff the Obama DOJ is doing now is because the technology wasn’t available to them (and rest assured that I’m not condoing it either way).

    As noted here, though, Hayden has received a “do-over” from our corporate media on the issue of warrantless surveillance before (maybe all of his military hardware shone too brightly in the klieg lights and distracted anyone practicing actual journalism, or something).

  • Also, someone name Alan Gottlieb opined as follows in the Philadelphia Inquirer (here)…

    The right of self-defense is the oldest human right, and the British experiment with public disarmament failed as miserably as our own gun bans in Chicago and Washington, D.C. The 10-year Clinton ban on so-called assault weapons was just as ineffective against crime.

    As far as I’m concerned, you cannot conclusively make that claim – this tells us the NRA and Wayne LaPierre mischaracterized a study on the 1994 to 2003 assault weapons ban to claim that it was ineffective (shocking for the NRA to wax propagandistic on this, I know)…

    To the contrary, it found some encouraging signs, like an average 40 percent drop in the number of assault weapons used in crimes (some cities saw a drop of over 70 percent) and some benefit from the ban on high-capacity magazines.

    But mostly, the study was inconclusive. Not enough time had passed for the ban’s effect to be fully felt and there were too many loopholes to get a good read on its effect. For instance, the number of high-capacity magazines in the country actually increased during time of the ban because it was still legal to import magazines made in other countries before the law went into effect. Meanwhile, numerous other variables contributed to the drop in crime during that decade, including better policing and the end of the crack epidemic.

    In his testimony, (Cato Institute law professor David) Kopel zeroed in on this passage from the study: ‘We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.’

    By the same token, the study didn’t rule out the ban as a contributor to the drop in crime. Just because something can’t be proven does not mean that the opposite is automatically true.

    This is part and parcel of the death industry’s efforts to hide the consequences of their relentless propagation of weapons of violence in this country (though, as noted here, there is some rather fragmented evidence that stronger gun laws reduce violent crime, though, again, that needs to be studied by an independent body such as the Centers for Disease Control – the only problem is that Congress, acting with craven and thoroughly corrupted stupidity, has denied federal funds for such an endeavor, as noted here).

    And on this subject, the “takeaway” from this Daily Kos post is that 55 percent of those polled think we can pass common-sense gun legislation in this country without interfering with the rights of legitimate sportsmen (even if Gottlieb is likely not one of those included – and not that I think Mr. “We Snookered The Other Side” is playing straight on this issue anyway).

  • Oh, and here is one more item of all the IRS stuff (here)…

    As The Daily Caller has reported, at least five different IRS offices in Cincinnati, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; Chicago, Illinois; Laguna Niguel and El Monte, California; improperly demanded extensive information from conservative groups applying for tax-exempt nonprofit status between 2010 and 2012. The IRS demanded copies of training materials distributed by conservative groups, as well as personal information on college interns and even the contents of a religious group’s prayers.

    Horrors! The IRS “demanded” information from the Teahadists who were applying for tax-exempt status having to do with a section of the tax code applying to “social welfare” groups that prohibits political activity, even though these groups most definitely engaged in activities that were political, as noted here (with Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson saying that the problem wasn’t that too much information was asked for, but that information was requested only from conservative organizations, apparently…and sorry, but I checked the links and couldn’t substantiate the “prayer” claim either).

    TDC_Kinky_0603
    I really wish The Daily Tucker would just stick to doing what it does best (and I guess the pic above portrays that).

  • 1-29 Podgo catholic 7

  • Finally, I don’t know how many other people besides me noted the recent passing of Father Andrew Greeley (here); I don’t have much to add, but I thought E.J. Dionne of the WaPo penned a nice remembrance here.

  • Friday Mashup Part 1 (9/4/09)

    September 4, 2009

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  • Zachary Roth at TPM Muckraker brings us the following today…

    The fallout from Mark Sanford’s Argentinian romance is getting increasingly nasty.

    Yesterday, State Senator Jake Knotts, a Republican but a committed Sanford foe, sent a letter to fellow lawmakers, in which he accused unnamed supporters of the bed-hopping chief exec of planting a rumor that Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer — who would become governor if Sanford steps down — is gay.

    So what exactly did Knotts have to say in Bauer’s defense?

    “Ain’t a homosexual bone in his body. That boy is a good boy. It’s a just an attempt to prevent Andre from become governor.”

    Of course, heaven forbid that Bauer actually had “a homosexual bone” in his body. In that event, I suppose Bauer would automatically plummet in the eyes of residents of the Palmetto State (below Sanford, of course) and no longer be “a good boy.”

    Oh, and please tell us when Opie and Aunt Bee return from shopping for a hickory switch and a piece of gingham from the “Piggly Wiggly” in Mount Pilot, OK, Mr. Knotts (any relation to Don)?

  • peril

  • And staying below that Mason-Dixon Line, I give you the following from Tennessee Repug U.S. House Rep Marsha Blackburn (here)…

    President Obama made a decision very early in the health care debate that doomed the process to failure. He decided to let Congress write the proposed bills, with very little input from the White House. Then he made another decision that just added to the problem. He decided that he wanted health care reform passed before Congress left for the August recess.

    Her piece at The Hill’s Congress blog is chock full of this type of unsubstantiated misinformation that I won’t dignify any further. Instead, I’ll present the following from here (I found this from the site’s interactive U.S. map)…

    How Health Insurance Reform will Benefit Tennessee

    LOWER COSTS FOR RESIDENTS OF TENNESSEE

    • Ending the Hidden Tax – Saving You Money: Right now, providers in Tennessee lose over $1.2 billion in bad debt which often gets passed along to families in the form of a hidden premium “tax”.1 Health insurance reform will tackle this financial burden by improving our health care system and covering the uninsured, allowing the 133 hospitals2 and the 18,560 physicians3 in Tennessee to (provide) better care for their patients.

    • Health Insurance Premium Relief: Premiums for residents of Tennessee have risen 77% since 2000.4 Through health insurance reform, 817,500 to 937,800 middle class Tennessee residents will be eligible for premium credits to ease the burden of these high costs.5

    • Strengthening Small Businesses: 74,592 employers in Tennessee are small businesses.6 With tax credits and a health insurance exchange where they can shop for health plans, insurance coverage will become more affordable for them.

    • Reforms that Reduce Your Costs: Under health insurance reform, insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive. Insurance companies will also have to abide by yearly limits on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses, helping 32,900 households in Tennessee struggling under the burden of high health care expenses.7

    INCREASE YOUR CHOICES: PROTECTING WHAT WORKS AND FIXING WHAT’S BROKEN

    • Insurance Stability and Security: Health insurance reform will strengthen our system of employer-based health insurance, with an additional 56,400 people in Tennessee potentially getting insurance through their work.8 Health insurance reform will also ensure that you will always have guaranteed choices of quality, affordable health insurance if you lose your job, switch jobs, move or get sick.

    • Eliminating Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions, Health Status or Gender: 10% of people in Tennessee have diabetes9, and 34% have high blood pressure10 – two conditions that insurance companies could use as a reason to deny you health insurance. Health insurance reform will prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on your health, and it will end discrimination that charges you more if you’re sick or a woman.

    • One-Stop Shopping – Putting Families in Charge: With the new health insurance exchange, you can easily and simply compare insurance prices and health plans and decide which quality affordable option is right for you and your family. These proposals will help the 845,700 residents of Tennessee who currently do not have health insurance to obtain needed coverage, and it will also help the 306,700 Tennessee residents who currently purchase insurance in the individual insurance market.11

    • Guaranteeing Choices: The largest health insurer in Tennessee holds 45% of the market, which limits the choices that you have for finding coverage.12 With a competitive public insurance option, you will have more choices and increased competition that holds insurance companies accountable.

    ASSURE QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICANS

    • Preventive Care for Better Health: 41% of Tennessee residents have not had a colorectal cancer screening, and 22% of women have not had a mammogram in the past 2 years.13 By requiring health plans to cover preventive services for everyone, investing in prevention and wellness, and promoting primary care, health insurance reform will work to create a system that prevents illness and disease instead of just treating it when it’s too late and costs more.

    • Improving Care for Children and Seniors: 21% of children in Tennessee have not visited a dentist in the past year,14and 30% of seniors did not receive a flu vaccine15. Health reform will ensure coverage for kids’ dental, vision, and hearing needs, and will promote quality coverage for America’s seniors, including recommended immunizations.

    Also, a poll from June commissioned by opponents of health care reform finds majority support for a public option across the country (I haven’t been able to find polling numbers for the entire state of Tennessee, though I know it’s favored in the district of “Bush Dog” Jim Cooper).

    I suppose, though, that this is about what you would expect from someone who said “we’re not going to cry ‘emergency’ every time we have a ‘Katrina’” (here), even though Blackburn supported the emergency Katrina appropriation all the same (sounds like the “blind squirrel finding the nut” again).

  • DanBush

  • Former Bushie (and Indiana governor) Mitch Daniels (left in the pic) opines as follows in the Murdoch Street Journal today (on the matter of states having to get their fiscal houses in order due to the recession) …

    …the political impulse to protect government largess leads many states to aggravate their dilemma. Already more than half have raised taxes, often on businesses, serving only to chase them and their tax payments away and into the open arms of states like Indiana. Our traffic flow of interested investors is as heavy as it was in 2007. Since January we have welcomed the consolidation of more than 30 firms that closed up shop elsewhere and chose us as the low-cost, enterprise-friendly environment among their current locations.

    Indiana was near bankruptcy five years ago but is relatively solvent today because we have spent the intervening years making hard choices. We have reformed state procurement, contracted out some jobs, cut costs, and relentlessly scrutinized expenditures in pushing for annual improvement in departments large and small. We’ve also reduced the number of state employees by some 5,000 from the 2004 level.

    In contrast to the national pattern, our per capita state spending has cut, on average, 1.4% each of the past five years. Indiana is now the sixth thriftiest state by this measure. And if we Hoosiers are realizing that we need to re-examine what we can afford to have our government do, what must they be thinking in Albany, Lansing or Trenton?

    Yep, typical Bushie…never misses an opportunity to score a political point or two against those baad “blue states” (even though Obama won Indiana last year).

    To me, this is a case of “right message, wrong messenger.” I’m not going to comment on what may or may not be working in Indiana, since I don’t know enough about the state to say anything. And fiscal prudence is always a good thing wherever you live.

    However, Brad DeLong tells us here of a moment when Daniels could have stood up to his White House pals and, as a result, probably relieved some of the burden we currently face (Daniels was Bushco’s OMB director at the time)…

    One of the threads of Ron Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty is that Mitch Daniels simply did not do his job as Bush’s OMB Director. The OMB Director is the principal–indeed, the only–voice inside the White House for fiscal prudence, for trying to ensure that the money the government spends is spent well and that the resources the government raises are adequate for the spending plans the White House evolves. While he was Bush OMB Director, Daniels simply did not do his job.

    Page 219:

    Mitch Daniels became agitated. He blurted out, “Well, yes, but if you can’t do the right thing when you’re at 85 percent approval, then when can you do the right thing? I think it’s time to say no.” Everyone looked with surprise at Daniels–he has a way of expressing what others are thinking but don’t say. Often, he’d find himself doubling back when he got an arched brow from Cheney or Rove…

    And page 296:

    The Commerce Secretary echoed much of what had been said…. As usual, not a real discussion, O’Neill thought as he looked over at [Mitch] Daniels…. He knew Daniels was focused on the perils of rising deficits, but it would take gumption to air those concerns in a room full of tax cut ideologues. “I think we need to balance concerns,” Daniels said…. “You need to be out front on the economy, but I am concerned that this package may not do it. The budget hole is getting deeper… we are projecting deficits all the way to the end of your second term.” From across the table came glares from the entire Bush political team. Daniels paused…. “Ummmm. On balance, then, I think we need to do a [tax cut] package… accelerate the rate cuts and the double taxation of dividends…” O’Neill looked with astonishment at Daniels… turn 180 degrees in midsentence…

    And Daniels was just as wrong here on pending cap-and-trade legislation, by the way.

  • fastfood_huge.52.263738

  • Finally, I give you the comedy stylings of Michael G. Franc and James Sherk of the National Review Online (here)…

    Why has teenage unemployment jumped so sharply? In part the deteriorating economy. But also because Congress voted to put teenagers out of work. The August employment report is the first after the minimum wage increase took effect at the end of July. Of course, that is not what Congress said it wanted to do when it raised the minimum from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour.

    But no matter what Congress sets the minimum wage at the true minimum wage is always zero. Employers do not have to hire workers, and they will not when hiring an additional worker brings in less money than that workers adds to the company. Consider an unskilled teenage worker whose labor increases a restaurant’s earnings by $7.00 an hour. The restaurant will pay up to $7.00 an hour to hire that worker. But when Congress raises the minimum wage to $7.25 that worker will lose his job. No restaurant will hire workers for a loss. Any business that did so would quickly go bankrupt. By raising the minimum wage Congress voted to lay off every worker who produces less than $7.25 an hour.

    I have no word on what formula these two pundits know of or came up with to compute the profit an employee generates for his or her employer and how that determines that person’s wage (sooo…then these two shouldn’t be paid the same amount if their online “hit” count goes down, for example?), but I believe this post from about a year ago debunks the rap that an increase in the minimum wage leads to greater unemployment…

    It ascribes a significant part of the problem of high teenage unemployment rates to high state minimum wages (or “maximum folly” according to the editorial). This claim disintegrates, however, under even the most cursory examination. Here’s why. Teenage unemployment rose from 13.1% to 17% between 2000 and 2004. According to the (Wall Street) Journal’s argument, the increases in teen unemployment should have been higher in states with higher minimum wages than in those with low minimum wages. What actually happened was the reverse: Teenage unemployment rose 3.4% in the high minimum wage states, compared to 4.2% in the others.

    So in response, I have a question to ask Franc and Sherk (assuming their line of reasoning is applied to themselves and they end up having to seek other employment)…

    Can I have fries with that?


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