Thursday Mashup (5/30/13)

May 30, 2013
  • I give you the following hilarity from Politico and stenographer-in-chief Mike Allen (here)…

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in an interview Thursday that House Republicans will “get to the bottom” of an array of White House controversies, while emphasizing jobs as their public message.

    “The Congress has the responsibility to get to the truth,” Boehner said. “Whether it’s Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the whole situation with The Associated Press, our committees are going to do their job to get to the bottom.

    Oh, I believe Boehner will “get to the bottom” all right, but not in a way anyone wants.

    Meanwhile in the land of reality, as noted here from about a year ago…

    With only 58 days left on the legislative calendar for the year, what did House Republicans debate for hours? Jobs, taxes, the debt or poverty? No.

    When Republicans took over the House in January 2011 they asserted they would focus on jobs. Eighteen months later very few bills have been signed into law. The House GOP’s calendar features 151 weekdays off and 109 in session. With 58 days left in Washington from June to December, it’s instructive to see what issues get attention.

    Though the country faces problems effecting millions, Republicans brought a bill to the floor this week making abortion based on the gender of the fetus a federal crime. Never mind that gender based abortions would appear not to be a problem in America — sponsors Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) had difficulty citing substantial evidence of such abortions sweeping the nation. Regardless, their bill made it to the House floor with no hearings and on very short notice.

    “This is an important issue to the American people… that’s why it’s being brought to the floor,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). But a congressional reporter provided a different take. ”I spoke to a GOP aide today and was told ‘we have to feed our rank and file red meat every now and then,’” reported MSNBC’s Luke Russert.

    And Rachel Maddow drove that point home even better in the video from here.

    In addition, this tells us that Boehner “gave up” on construction last year, putting as many as 50,000 jobs at risk, which is part and parcel of doing nothing constructive on this issue, as noted here (actual economists weighing in as opposed to Beltway media talking heads). And it’s not as if the Dems have been sitting on their hands with this stuff; this tells us that the American Jobs Act that originated from the White House continues to languish in the U.S. House with no action, and this tells us that Obama’s job plan was criticized by Boehner and company before it was even released (lather, rinse, repeat).

    Not that you’ll ever read any of this from “Tiger Beat on the Potomac,” as Charles Pierce calls it (and to think that these assclowns actually had the gall to contemplate a “pay wall,” as noted here).

  • Next, I give you more media idiocy with Ron Fournier of the National Journal (here)…

    Liberals hypocritically gave Obama a pass for furthering the same policies they condemned in 2008. Criticism from the left was half-hearted and muted, compared with their Bush-era indignation. On Gitmo, left-wingers rightly blamed the GOP for blocking closure but didn’t shame Obama into using his executive authority to shutter the pit.

    Oh, right – President Hopey Changey forgot to wave his magic wand and make idiots in Congress who are afraid of their own shadows suddenly somehow come to realize that we have not one damn thing to fear if we get everyone out of GITMO who we’re presently holding there (removing one hell of a jihadist recruiting tool) and put them in Supermax prisons while they await a civilian trial, through which we have a better shot of obtaining a conviction than those stinking military commissions. And somehow that the fault of “liberals,” of course.

    Continuing with Fournier…

    Some progressives even tried to justify the Obama administration’s efforts to criminalize the work of a Fox News reporter. Would they be so blasé about a White House targeting MSNBC?

    I guess I’m crazy, but I was always taught that it’s a lot more logical (and again, the name of the game here is to see that justice is served) to let legal matters take their natural course before we have the inevitable rush to judgment.

    Anyway, I think this is a pretty good column from Geoffrey Stone of HuffPo on the James Rosen matter (he of Fix Noise), including the following…

    In general, it is unlawful for one person to solicit another to commit a criminal act. If X persuades Y to kill Z, for example, X can be punished for criminal solicitation of murder. This is a broad principle that, we can assume, ordinarily would apply to Rosen’s apparently successful effort to persuade the source unlawfully to leak the classified information.

    But is Rosen, as a reporter, exempt from the ordinary law of criminal solicitation? Does the First Amendment give a reporter a constitutional right to do what other citizens have no right to do? The claim, of course, is that unlike the situation in which X solicits Y to kill Z, Rosen’s solicitation was undertaken for the public good, because Fox News, after all, has a constitutional right to publish the information. There is, in other words, no good reason to give X a right to solicit Y to kill Z, but there is a good reason to give Rosen a right to persuade the source to disclose the information to him (even though it is a crime for the source to do so). Confused yet?

    The problem with this argument is that, in interpreting the First Amendment, the Supreme Court almost never accepts such claims. For example, suppose someone walks down the street naked to protest laws against obscenity, or speeds to get to a political rally in time to give a speech, or refuses to pay his taxes so he can give larger contributions to his favorite political candidates. In all of these situations there is a speech-related reason why the actor wants an exemption from a law of otherwise general application, but the Court has consistently, and quite reasonably, rejected such claims.

    Similarly, in the Free Press context, suppose a journalist commits an illegal burglary in order to obtain information about a possible scandal, or conducts an illegal wiretap in order to prove that a congressman took a bribe, or steals a sophisticated camera in order to take better photos for her website. In none of these situations will the journalist be able, under current law, to assert a First Amendment right to commit the criminal offense because she did so in order to be a more effective journalist.

    So let’s investigate this matter to find out exactly what Rosen did or didn’t do, OK? And if he is exonerated, then I’ll join the line of individuals pointing out that the Obama Justice Department was completely and utterly wrong to go after him.

    And by the way, if anyone on MSNBC had been accused of doing what Rosen supposedly did, I would say the same thing.

  • Further (and speaking of Former President Nutball and his gang), Kathleen Parker of the WaPo inflicted the following here

    Obama kept Guantanamo because, like Bush, he discovered he couldn’t close it. He kept and boosted security measures, including increasing surveillance and expanding law enforcement powers, even though Bush was loathed for his draconian measures.

    That kind of leads me to believe that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History supported closing Gitmo, but didn’t (well, he did a bit depending on the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, or so he told us here).

    The problem for me, though, is that the ruling, which held basically that the military commissions weren’t good enough, came down in June 2006, and Bush gave a speech three years later here in which he still opposed closing GITMO (typical).

    But to hear Parker tell it, Dubya, in fact, “discovered” he couldn’t close it, maybe in the same way a thief “discovers” a bag of money when trying to rob a bank.

    What exactly was that Pulitzer for again?

  • Continuing, I came across this item which I think is genuinely humorous involving Daryl Metcalfe, representative of our beloved commonwealth of Pennsylvania…

    As chairman of the House’s State Government Committee, Metcalfe has convened a June 5 hearing into campaign-finance disclosure regulations, keying off the activities of Pennsylvanians for Accountability, a liberal group that has sponsored TV ads ripping Gov. Corbett’s record and targeted four GOP House members in vulnerable districts last year.

    Metcalfe told The Inquirer he is interested in greater transparency in campaign funding, and believes that the group may have crossed the line.

    Metcalfe should leave 501(c)(4) social welfare groups alone, argues the Pennsylvania Commercial Action Network, a grassroots conservative business organization that campaigns against what it considers excessive government regulation of private enterprise, and for lower taxes.

    “Although we understand the public’s desire to peek behind the veil of private organizations, we believe a greater public good is served by protecting confidential speakers’ rights,” PaCAN’s managing directors, Matthew Balazik and Skip Salvensen wrote in a May 24 letter to Metcalfe.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

    Oh, right – let’s not investigate liberal 501(c)(4) groups because it might not stop there, and conservative 501(c)(4) groups might get targeted also. Too funny.

    What’s the matter, wingnuts – afraid your little “social welfare” scam would go up in a thicker cloud of smoke that the one curling out of Flush Limbore’s big, fat stogie?

    And it’s not one bit surprising that Metcalfe would find himself right in the middle of something like this, for the following reasons…

  • Here, he sponsored legislation that would end mandatory payment of union dues as a condition of employment in PA (paving the way for so-called “right to work”).
  • Here, he supported voter ID in PA, which, as the post tells us, is tantamount to a “poll tax.”
  • Here, he protested a proclamation on Domestic Violence Awareness Month because it had a “homosexual agenda” (Huh? Oh, right – more “dog whistle” language).
  • Here, Metcalfe presented his version of Arizona’s “illegal to be brown” law for PA.
  • Here, he said that veterans who favor action on climate change are “traitors” (nice).
  • And returning to the Pennsylvania Conservative Action Network, I give you the following from here (in a story about the 2010 U.S. Senate election)…

    The DSCC is a well-established fundraising organization. They have established donors and can raise money nationwide. PaCAN is a relatively new organization and fundraises primarily in Pennsylvania, but has already declared Joe Sestak as unfit for higher office.

    Umm, yeah – “social welfare” only. That’s what PaCAN is about.

    Sure.

  • And finally (and perhaps inevitably), this tells us the following…

    A Washington advocacy group filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the IRS and top Obama administration officials on behalf of 25 Tea Party-related groups, marking the biggest lawsuit to date over the tax agency’s practice of targeting conservatives for additional scrutiny.

    The 29-page lawsuit named Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and several IRS officials — including Lois Lerner, the division director who refused to testify before Congress last week. The suit claims the constitutional rights of 25 Tea Party and other conservative groups were violated when tax workers singled them out for a drawn-out vetting process.

    The American Center for Law and Justice is arguing that the Obama administration overstepped its authority and violated the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act as well as the IRS’ own rules and regulations.

    “The whole timeline and the whole narrative that the White House has put forth does not hold up to the truth,” ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow told Fox News on Wednesday.

    In its suit, the ACLJ wants the government to admit wrongdoing. The suit also seeks to protect the groups from future IRS retaliation as well as compensatory and punitive monetary damages.

    For what, exactly? Hurt fee-fees?

    Also, this tells us that the American Center for Law and Justice was established in 1990 by Pat Robertson, employs 50 people, and has an operating budget of $14,650,162 based on data from 2004.

    Oh, but the Teahadists are “grass roots-based,” aren’t they?

    And just as a reminder, here are some of their more stellar moments…

    And finally…

    (Funny, but I always thought that word was spelled with an “e.”)


  • Tuesday Mashup (2/12/13)

    February 12, 2013
  • It looks like VA Repug governor Bob McDonnell was in these parts recently telling the party faithful that the “pity party” is over (here).

    So what does he propose as a “solution” to his party’s recent electoral woes?

    It’s time for Republicans to stop coming across as sour-faced free-market scolds, he said. Conservative principles are not the problem, he said; history has shown small government and free markets to be the world’s best engines for human freedom. The problem? Tone. It’s time for Republicans to be “happy warriors,” he said.

    Yeah, it’s the tone, that’s all.

    Maybe McDonnell should sing and dance while trying to cheat Virginia public employees out of “Obamacare” coverage (here). Either that, or he could sponsor a karaoke night to publicize legislation that, in essence, makes discrimination by university student groups in his state legal (here).

    Or how about a happy hour announcing plans to pay for road construction in VA by taxing the poor (here)? Or an all-night bowling marathon to announce restrictive new anti-abortion regulations that McDonnell certified, as noted here?

    McDonnell and his pals think that all they need to do is dump more perfume on the proverbial pig, and that will be good enough to start reversing his party’s sorry electoral trend. Fine – he should go with that (and as usual on this matter and many others also, I trust the sage words of Professor Krugman, as noted here).

  • Next, I give you the following (here)…

    Subsidies for wind power could lead to the shutdown of nuclear power plants, warned Exelon Corp. CEO Christopher Crane.

    “What worries me is if we continue to build an excessive amount of wind and subsidize wind, the unintended consequence could be that it leads to shutting down plants,” Crane told the Chicago Tribune, adding that states which have subsidized wind power might see jobs disappear if nuclear plants shut down.

    A report by the NorthBridge group found that this “negative pricing” of electricity from wind subsidies means less investment will go into conventional power generation which imperils the reliability of the electrical system.

    This is about what we can expect from Crane; as noted here, the nuke industry has been doing all it can to fight the so-called “production tax credit” that funds wind energy development, stupidly pitting one source of energy development against another (the Think Progress post also tells us that the “study” by the NorthBridge Group, an economic and strategic consulting firm upon which Crane’s alarmism is based, has been described as “deeply flawed” by TP Guest Blogger Richard W. Caperton for the reasons he cites).

    Also, this tells us the following about the phenomenon of “negative pricing”…

    Michael Goggin, (the American Wind Energy Association’s) manager of transmission policy, said negative prices in the wholesale electricity market are rare and occur because there is not sufficient transmission. But the problem, he said, is isolated to certain regions and will be alleviated in the coming months and years as new power lines are built to connect customers to pockets of wind power in Texas and Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

    Goggin also said wind energy is inexpensive, regardless of the tax incentives, because wind power has no fuel cost and has extremely low variable costs for operation and maintenance. The PTC, he said, has very little effect on real-time electricity prices. Electricity prices have also been going “negative” for decades because nuclear reactors exceed power demand at night, he said.

    “Claims that the wind energy production tax credit is causing negative prices are misguided, as negative prices are extremely rare and would occur anyway even if the [production tax credit] did not exist,” Goggin wrote in a blog post this week.

    And as you might expect, TP tells us that Congressional Repugs Lamar Alexander and Mike Pompeo are working with Crane and Exelon in their efforts to “break wind” (sorry…too easy).

  • Continuing, I give you another Ron Fournier special from The National Journal (here)…

    White House officials tell me they feel stung by coverage of the inaugural address. Reporters highlighted the president’s left-leaning stances on immigration, gun control, climate change and gay and women’s rights. Obama’s aides argue that he devoted more inaugural address language to the economy, jobs and the deficit than all other issues combined.

    Still, the perception remains that Obama lost focus on the economy — the top issue in the minds of most voters.

    I cannot possibly imagine that I will ever teach a course in journalism, but if I did and I received something like this from a student, I would fail that person (I know it’s been a little while since we visited with Fournier, but he was notorious for stuff like this when he was employed by the AP).

    For you see, Obama’s “left-leaning” stance on immigration is actually quite popular (here), as is his stance on gun control (here). And while he could’ve done more on the climate, consider his Repug opposition in Congress as well as some coal-state Democrats, including Bob Casey, as noted here (and how can his stance be “left-leaning” when he really hasn’t been able to do much about it?). Also, Obama enjoys majority support on the issue of marriage equality (here), and the LGBT community definitely came out, as they say, for him in ’08 here (and as far as I’m concerned, Fourier’s reference to “women’s rights” is just corporate media shorthand for the Repugs’ war on those dreaded lady parts, and to see whether or not that was successful, look at the results of the last election).

    This is part and parcel of how Fournier operates, though; as noted here, he told Karl Rove to “keep up the fight” and continue to ignore subpoenas from Congress; in that same post, I also pointed out that Fournier used the occasion of Dubya commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence to attack the Clintons (???) and also said that a “Democratic interest group” aired a TV ad comparing Dubya to Hitler, which was and remains false. He also claimed here that Obama needed Biden to shore up his “weakness” on foreign policy, a “weakness” shared by almost every single other Presidential candidate who has ever run for the job in the last 20 or so years, with the possible exceptions of Poppy Bush, John Kerry, and “Straight Talk” McCain back when he was an actual maverick.

    Unsubstantiated dreck like this exists for one reason only, and that is to propagate the utterly false narrative that Number 44 is really some sort of a closet liberal who (and you just watch!) is going to totally turn over a new leaf one day and resurrect his ACORN army to take everyone’s guns and start dropping money from helicopters for “the poors” and “the blahs” (and this will happen right about at the time when austerity actually creates full employment).

  • Finally, I would like to recall some items to commemorate the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, as noted here (to begin, I didn’t know he could actually do that – I thought part of the job description is that those guys had to “die with their boots on”…shows what I know).
  • Here, he gave a speech about the prophet Muhammad and Islam in which he referred to “jihad” and “holy war” (oops – the apology came soon thereafter).
  • He defended “intelligent design” here and expressed the hope that he would have a “short papacy” (looks like he’ll get his wish).
  • He said that condoms promoted African AIDS, or words to that effect, here (yes, I know Church teaching on that subject, but particularly in that area of the world, condoms save lives).
  • There was a time when he was putting his foot in his mouth on a regular basis (a compilation is here), though he definitely tightened up his message discipline, as they say.
  • He, at best, tolerated “liberation theology” when he should have embraced it (here).
  • Announced “The Ten Commandments For Drivers” here (“Thou shalt not txt OMG!! while changing lanes eastbound on the PA Turnpike weeknights at 6 PM.”)
  • To be fair, I should note that he spoke out strongly in defense of the environment here (Think Progress notes this and other positive and negative moments with Benedict here).
  • There were times when I wanted to smack my open palm against my forehead while Benedict was pope. And make no mistake that the Catholic Church has taken an ever-harder right turn under his watch. But as a Roman Catholic, it would be fundamentally wrong for me not to acknowledge that, until he steps down, he remains the Vicar of Christ, and as such, I’ll pray for his good health.

    Update: John Patrick Shanley has the guts to actually say what I only thought about here.


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