Friday Mashup (4/25/14)

April 25, 2014
  • Someone named Amber Barno at The Daily Tucker rails as follows here (about a favorite wingnut target)…

    (On 4/16) the New York Times made the audacious choice to publish an article linking military veterans to white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

    Frazier Glenn Miller shot and killed three people at Jewish Community Centers near Kansas City, Missouri earlier this week. He was a former KKK leader and also a former Master Sergeant in the Army who was forced to retire for circulating racist material. That information seemed to be enough for Kathleen Belew, the author of the article, to draw a distinction between veterans, the ‘radical right,’ and their tendency to become an danger to society, and apparently enough for the New York Times to publish it.

    The title of the piece, “Veterans and White Supremacy” and the entire slanderous article are almost as offensive as the picture that accompanied it. It displays a row of soldiers saluting, the way they would to an American flag, while one ‘soldier’ in the middle is posed doing a Nazi salute. It is despicable. It is reckless and it only further contributes to stereotypes that veterans must overcome each and everyday in the civilian world.

    Before I say a word about this, I should note from her bio that Ms. Barno, military advisor for Concerned Veterans for America, is an “Army veteran and former Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot who served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.” She deserves my thanks for her service, and she has it.

    With that out of the way, let me add that the “slanderous” and “offensive” article (that I read and consider reasonable, by the way) does indeed contain a graphic like the one Barno cites. However, I believe the graphic makes it plain to a reasonably intelligent adult that a comparatively small percentage of our veterans become homegrown terrorists, and it isn’t anywhere near as incriminating as she suggests.

    And Concerned Veterans for America…why exactly does that ring a bell?

    Oh, I remember now. It’s because the person in charge of CV of A is Pete Hegseth, who used to head up something called Vets for Freedom, which was a PR factory doing its best to influence public opinion to make sure we kept our military in Iraq and Afghanistan (and as Crooks and Liars notes here, this “veterans” group claimed to support deficit reduction, which to me is a strange issue for a veterans group to be associated with – ahhh, can you smell the Astroturf?).

    And as you might expect, CV is A is tied to the shadowy, “dark money” network of Charles and David Koch (here).

    Barno is right to claim that our returning heroes face a variety of issues that demand our attention, though I don’t think she adds much to that discussion here by climbing on a favorite conservative “hobby horse,” if you will (the old gray lady, that is), and giving it a ride for no good reason.

    And speaking of veterans, former U.S. Army Ranger and Democratic candidate in the PA-08 primary Kevin Strouse wrote an Op-Ed that recently appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times (here). In it, he protested yet another ridiculous Paul Ryan budget that voucherizes Medicare (again), cuts Pell Grants (again), cuts SNAP assistance including food stamps (again), and refuses once more to invest in infrastructure spending (I’m paraphrasing because the Guest Opinion is now behind the paper’s utterly laughable pay wall…and to be fair, his primary opponent Shaughnessy Naughton wrote the following here).


    (And as long as I’m on the subject, I’d like to hear something besides roaring silence on the issue of Paul Ryan and his horrendous budgets from the Roman Catholic Church, notwithstanding symbolic yet still important comments on this subject from Pope Francis. I know the Church in the US is primarily “in bed” with the Republican Party, but I just wish they weren’t so damn obvious about it.)

    I think this merits support of Kevin Strouse from filthy, unkempt liberal blogger types such as yours truly, and if you agree, please click here.

    Update 6/18/14: Another inglorious moment involving Hegseth is here (BENGHAZI BENGHAZI BENGHAZI!!!).

  • Next (and continuing with faith matters), I give you this from someone at Fix Noise named Jay Sekulow…

    The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sent Clemson University a “letter of complaint” detailing (Clemson football coach Dabo) Swinney’s alleged constitutional violations, including such atrocities as the team’s volunteer chaplain writing Bible verses on a whiteboard and the team making available bus transportation to players who wish to attend church.

    In a reasonable constitutional world, this complaint would be ignored by the media and discarded by the university. After all, there’s no evidence that Clemson or Coach Swinney did anything other than expose players to the coach’s religious point of view, a point of view he’s constitutionally entitled to hold and express.

    Players were not compelled to attend church or Bible study, and the university is not paying the volunteer chaplain. So, how could any of these actions “establish” a religion within the meaning of the Establishment Clause (sic).

    In response, I give you the following from here

    Responding to what it says was a complaint sent to it by a member of the public, the FFRF had one of its five staff attorneys investigate the program via open records requests over the constitutionally protected separation between church and state.

    It uncovered a host of issues, from Swinney directly hiring the team chaplain (even Clemson policy says the players should choose), to coaches participating in testimonials and bible studies, to buses being organized to transport the entire team to “Church Day” at a local Baptist Church.

    The letter, in great detail, cites various university policies and case law that are violated by these actions. It’s a thorough letter. And it goes after Swinney, who it claims as a public employee is barred from participating in any official capacity in the religious activities of his players or underlings.

    As a thumbnail, the FFRF says a coach should never discuss religion with a player, let alone stop practice for prayer sessions or sponsor after-hour testimonials. Should a player come to him seeking religious guidance, he should encourage him to seek out the innumerable faith-based groups on a major college campus. Clemson boasts 41 of them, ranging from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to groups and congregations for Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Jews and others. There is even the Secular Student Alliance of Clemson for atheists, agnostics and others.

    “The religious counseling should be outside the athletic department,” (the FFRF’s Annie Laurie) Gaylor said.

    I’ll grant you that there are bigger issues out there to address, and if Swinney is as devout as he appears to be, then he should be commended. However, I also think that he shouldn’t be allowed to proselytize on the job if public money is involved.

    And I think this is all amusing coming from Sekulow anyway, who has no issue with Swinney carrying on as he does, yet somehow was still one of the loudest voices against the so-called “ground zero mosque,” as noted here (Sekulow also supports Hobby Lobby over the so-called “contraception mandate” of the Affordable Care Law, as noted here, basically arguing that religious freedom is conditional for people Sekulow likes, but should be guaranteed regardless for corporations – riiiiight).

  • Further (and returning to The Daily Tucker), I give you this from someone named Mytheos Holt, claiming that …

    The economist Robert Samuelson has pointed out repeatedly that Social Security, far from being insurance against the dangers of old age, which merely gives recipients back what they already paid in. It is, in fact, nothing but “middle class welfare.” Quoting Samuelson:

    Benefits shift; they’re not strictly proportionate to wages but are skewed to favor low-wage earners – a value judgment reflecting who most deserves help; and they aren’t paid from workers’ own “contributions.” But we ignored these realities and encouraged people to think they “earned” benefits and that Social Security is distinct from the larger budget. Politicians, pundits, think-tank experts and journalists engaged in this charade to spare Social Security’s 54 million recipients the discomfort of understanding they’re on welfare.

    Let’s see, “middle-class welfare,” “generational theft” – yep, the dog whistles are at the ready…also, the article claims that lifting the payroll tax cap won’t do anything to keep Social Security solvent (uh, no).

    Here is a more in-depth response from Dean Baker (who knows a thing or two about this stuff), including the following…

    Robert Samuelson is once again calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, ostensibly in the name of generational fairness. Samuelson makes the now common argument that a hugely disproportionate share of government spending goes to these programs that primarily serve the elderly. Of course, using Samuelson logic we should also complain that a hugely disproportionate share of government expenditures go the very wealthy.

    The reason that the wealthy get a disproportionate share of government expenditures is that they bought government bonds which pay interest. The reason that the elderly get a disproportionate share of government benefits is that they paid Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes that were intended to support these programs.

    Samuelson goes on to complain that Social Security has become a “middle-age retirement system,” citing Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute. Samuelson apparently is not familiar with data on life expectancy that shows that workers in the bottom half of the wage distribution have seen relatively small gains in longevity over the last three decades. He is apparently also unfamiliar with Steurele’s calculations on the rate of return that retirees get on their Social Security benefits. For many middle income retirees in the baby boom cohorts it will be less than 1.0 percent and in some cases less than zero, according to Steuerle.

    What is remarkable about Samuelson’s piece is that there is absolutely zero effort to consider any real issues of generational equity in a piece that is ostensibly devoted to the topic. For example, there is no discussion of the fact that the current generation of near retirees experienced an unprecedented period of wage stagnation over their working lifetime. The median hourly wage in 2010 is less than 10 percent higher than it was in 1973.

    By contrast, the Social Security trustees project that average hourly wages will rise by more than 40 percent over the next three decades. While it is possible that income inequality will continue to increase so that these gains again go overwhelmingly to the top, there is no precedent in U.S. history for the level of inequality that this would imply.

    Yes, all of this is obvious. Yes, what we need to do is expand the Social Security entitlement, not do everything we can to kill it. But we need to drive this home every way we can as often as possible (and to help with that, click here).

  • Continuing, I give you the following unintentional bit of hilarity from Irrational Spew Online (here, with the understated claim that, by advocating for renewable energy sources, Chris Hayes, of MSNBC and The Nation, wants to kill 5.7 billion people)…

    There are many more moderate suggestions than Hayes’s on the carbon-cap continuum. But his goofy idea makes clear that all of these involve some diminution in human life: less health, less longevity, fewer opportunities to pursue happiness. At some level that translates into fewer people — a consummation many warmists might devoutly wish, though few would admit that. (As green panics go, overpopulation is long over; global warming is merely on its way out.)

    Hayes is right to equate the battle against fossil fuels with one of history’s greatest moral struggles. He’s just wrong to think he’s on the side of humanity.

    I don’t think Hayes or anyone else who questions our energy consumption should be criticized for it, for the reasons noted here (basically, ignoring other environmental “multipliers” associated with our energy consumption is a rather pin-headed argument to make, and if fewer of those multipliers come from renewables, then what else is there to think about?).

    And overpopulation, as a global threat, is “long over”? Really?

    (Actually, I have a feeling that NRO’s Tim Cavanaugh was referring to this…i.e., 6.8 billion people living as a result of fossil fuels, 1 billion not…don’t have any data to argue with him on that).

    And if Cavanaugh doesn’t want to believe me on the importance of renewables vs. fossil fuels, fine. Read the following from here

    The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is the nation’s largest energy user. In recent years, DoD has launched several initiatives to reduce its fossil Fuel use by improving energy efficiency (i.e., reducing wasted energy) and shifting to renewable energy such as biomass, hydropower, geothermal, wind, and solar to meet operational and installation needs. Energy efficiency and renewable energy can benefit mission effectiveness, the environment, and the bottom line, as outlined in the following excerpt from a 2010 Memorandum of Understanding between DoD and the Department of Energy (DOE):

    Energy efficiency can serve as a force multiplier, increasing the range and endurance of forces in the field while reducing the number of combat forces diverted to protect energy supply lines, as well as reducing long-term energy costs. DoD is also increasing its use of renewable energy supplies and reducing energy demand to improve energy security and operational effectiveness, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in support of U.S. climate change initiatives, and protect the DoD from energy price fluctuations. Solving military challenges through innovation has the potential to yield spin-off technologies that benefit the civilian community as well.

    Which brings me, in a roundabout way I’ll admit, to Hayes’s recent post here. As the moderator of “All In,” I get it that he has the right to have conservatives on his show. But the problem is that all these people do is pollute the information blood stream, if you will, leaving it up to little fish like me in the great, big bloggy ocean, if you will, to speak truth to stoo-pid – mixing my metaphors I guess.

    And I’m not talking about this idiotic “conservative vs. liberal” parlor game that has masqueraded for intelligent political discourse in this country for the last 30 years or so. I’m talking about verifiable truth and reality. When Jennifer Stefano starts foaming at the mouth because she thinks Hayes is trying to talk down to her or something, and Paul Wolfowitz basically tries to argue that liberals are too scared to stand up to terrorists or whatever, guess what? The fact that these people tend to be conservative is irrelevant. What matters is that they are wrong. I would also argue that they know that they are wrong and continue to argue anyway, pushing their talking points regardless. And as far as I’m concerned, when people like Stefano or Wolfowitz do that, then they lose the right to engage in a discussion on a nationally televised program featuring news analysis and political commentary.

    Note to Hayes: See what happens when you try to play fair and square with the wingnuts?

  • Finally, I absolutely have to say something about this item from last week…

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Election-year memo to Democratic candidates: Don’t talk about the economic recovery. It’s a political loser.

    So say Democratic strategists in a blunt declaration that such talk skips over “how much trouble people are in, and doesn’t convince them that policymakers really understand or are even focusing on the problems they continue to face.”

    In addition, Stan Greenberg, James Carville and others wrote that in head-to-head polling tests the mere mention of the word “recovery” is trumped by a Republican assertion that the Obama administration has had six years to get the economy moving and its policies haven’t worked.

    Coincidentally or not, Democrats have largely shelved the “R” word.

    God, this makes me want to vomit.

    If the “polling” on the issue of the economy supposedly doesn’t work, then try making the case that the U.S. House Republican “leadership” doesn’t know a damn thing about managing our economy. Worse, they have a vested interest in continued economic hardship since they think that is a winner of an issue for them politically. However, just because that is so doesn’t mean that you roll up your tent, refuse to make a fight, and walk away.

    Because, as noted from here

    As it turns out, (Speaker John) Boehner has decided that every time House Republicans pass a bill that advances House Republican priorities, the party gets to label that a “jobs bill.” The GOP approved more oil drilling? That’s a “jobs bill.” The GOP voted to take away health care benefits from millions of Americans? That’s a “jobs bill,” too. The GOP disapproves of clean-air regulations? “Jobs bill.” The GOP wants more “transparency” in federal spending? “Jobs bill.” Republicans cut food stamps? “Jobs bill.”

    I’m not exaggerating in the slightest; this is all from the list of “jobs bills” the Speaker of the House has pulled together and presented to the public. How many actual jobs would be created if these bills became law? No one knows because Republicans never submitted them for independent economic scrutiny, but GOP leaders are confident the answer is, at a minimum, some.

    How reassuring.

    It’s why the parties so often seem to be talking past one another. For congressional Democrats, jobs bills have to relate to job creation in a meaningful way, then be scored by independent economists to determine how many jobs are likely to be created by the proposed legislation. For congressional Republicans, jobs bills happen to be whatever bills the GOP likes – even anti-abortion bills.

    And as noted here, the following actual jobs-related bills were passed by the House with at-or-near-100-percent opposition from Boehner, Eric Cantor, and his same-party playmates (including Mikey the Beloved, of course)…

  • The American Clean Energy and Security Act
  • The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act
  • Jobs for Main Street Act
  • Small Business Jobs and Credit Act
  • The America COMPETES Act
  • This has led to 49 straight months of private sector job growth (here). And the results would be better if the House decided to get serious on immigration reform (here) and raising the federal minimum wage (here – granted, job growth might be negligible, but it would represent progress, and it would help millions stay in their jobs as opposed to losing them).

    And about Stan Greenberg in particular, I believe the following should be noted from here

    “The Republican focus on Obamacare is backfiring,” says (Greenberg), a top Democratic pollster, who conducted the survey (which found an increasing approval rating for health care reform) with a GOP counterpart. “They’re on the wrong side of the issue.”

    The surprising resurrection of Obamacare is poised to have broad political ramifications come November. During the darkest days of the healthcare.gov rollout last fall, Republicans made what seemed a safe bet that the unpopularity of the law would help deliver another midterm-election romp, just as it did in 2010. The GOP electoral strategy has been supported by millions from the Koch-backed Super PAC Americans for Prosperity, which has been bombarding key Senate swing states with anti-Obama¬care TV ads intended to destroy vulnerable Democratic incumbents like Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina. But so far the impact of these kinds of ads has been modest, registering with voters as both old hat and “overreach,” says Greenberg, the Democratic pollster.

    Public opinion on Obamacare is now shifting. A Pew poll in March found that a 71 percent supermajority either supports Obamacare or wants politicians to “make the law work as well as possible,” compared to just 19 percent of the electorate that wants to see the law fail.

    Though Ted Cruz and the #fullrepeal crowd may still excite the GOP’s Tea Party base, their message is no longer a clear winner among independents in the general election. The House leadership is taking notice. After more than four dozen votes attempting to repeal or roll back Obamacare, the House GOP is scrambling to come up with a policy it could market as a replacement. In a startling admission, GOP House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy acknowledged that the GOP’s old playbook isn’t cutting it anymore. “The country has changed since Obamacare has come in,” he told the Washington Post. “We understand that.”

    House Republicans have learned the hard way that even nibbling around the edges of Obamacare can backfire. In February, the GOP pushed a bill to tweak the mandate that businesses offer health care to all employees working more than 30 hours. Switching to the GOP’s preferred 40-hour standard, it turns out, would add $74 billion to the deficit by 2024 and cause nearly 1 million Americans to lose coverage. That’s the kind of move that would play right into Democratic hands. Says Greenberg, “Democrats do very well when they hit back at Republicans on what people lose.”

    Until recently, Greenberg had been advising Democrats to move beyond Obamacare and turn to bread-and-butter issues like jobs and the minimum wage. “The strongest attack on Republicans,” he says, “is that they’re obsessed with Obamacare instead of critical issues like dealing with the economy.” But his new poll has Greenberg rethinking that counsel. “Until now, this is an issue where the intensity has been on the other side,” he says. But defending Obamacare, he adds, has emerged as “a values argument for our base.” Greenberg now believes Democrats “ought to lean much more strongly” to campaign on the virtues of Obamacare as a means of boosting progressive turnout. “Not apologizing for Obamacare and embracing it actually wins the argument nationally,” he says. “And it produces much more engagement of Democratic voters. That’s a critical thing in off-year elections.”

    So instead of walking around on eggshells, as it were, run an ad leading off with “Obamacare” and tout its successes (kind of like this), then point out that the same people who were wrong about that were entrusted with helping Obama to manage the economy, and they’ve failed on that score too.

    Sure, talk about women’s issues in the workplace (which ultimately are family issues anyway). But give voters a reason to vote for you by pointing out how different you are from the opposition, or else you’ll lose.

    And one more thing – don’t accept political commentary from the AP’s David Espo as gospel (here).


  • 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.

  • Wednesday Mashup (11/21/12)

    November 22, 2012

  • Yep, Thanksgiving will soon be upon us; one way to tell is that the Bucks County Courier Times ran its full-page ad for the Surplus City Gun Mart (well whaddaya know…a Yugo Zastava AK-47 PAP M70 is on sale for $675! Now here comes another angry comment thread started by a gun owner pissed off at me for not saying whether or not it was a full or semi-automatic).
  • Continuing, it looks like the punditocracy is still licking its collective wounds over the Repug election losses suffered two weeks ago – Ross Douthat opined as follows in the New York Times recently (here)…

    Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values — reason rather than superstition, tolerance rather than bigotry, equality rather than hierarchy. But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.

    Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do — one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

    Yes, you only need government if you’re “assimilating downward,” according to Douthat.

    Apparently it’s necessary for me to point out that one of our major political parties subjected this country earlier this year to all kinds of fear mongering about the supposed horrors of contraception (and I’ll note that again later), which would definitely help to reduce teen pregnancy (here – sorry to re-inflict “Little Ricky” on everybody again), and that same political party did all it could do to oppose the DREAM Act, which would encourage educational opportunity for Hispanics born of undocumented workers as a condition of citizenship (with the “E” in DREAM standing for “education” – hard to believe that Orrin Hatch was a co-sponsor of the original bill introduced in 2001 with Dick Durbin). And here’s a hint; that party isn’t the Democrats.

    I suppose it’s just “the soft bigotry of low expectations” for Douthat to assume that the only way Hispanics would support the Dems would be if they were getting a handout, but apparently that’s what we have here (with that awful phrase coined by Douthat’s fellow traveler and Bushie Michael Gerson, who, if nothing else, saw the need to reach out to Hispanics for real, albeit for political expediency, in a way Douthat apparently does not).

  • Next, I give you some true hilarity from Michael Barone of Irrational Spew Online (here)…

    Barack Obama attended more than 200 fundraisers for his presidential campaign, but he refrained from raising money for congressional Democrats.

    That proved to be a wise move for him, as were his strategists’ decisions to run heavy ad campaigns against Mitt Romney and to build an even more effective turnout machine in target states.

    But it proved to be less than helpful to his party. Democrats did gain two Senate seats thanks to clueless Republican candidates and Republicans’ failure to produce better turnout.

    But Democrats got beaten badly in races for the U.S. House and state legislatures. That’s clear when you compare the number of House Democrats after this year’s election with the number of House Democrats after 2008.

    In response, allow me to add this, which tells us that the U.S. House Repugs lost eight seats and the Dems picked up eight seats from 2010 until now (incremental progress to be sure, but progress all the same).

    Also, I’ve read some of my lefty brethren, including the folks doing God’s work at Think Progress, decrying the fact that the Repugs gerrymandered congressional districts to favor their party’s incumbents (and as noted here, when you look at net vote totals, the Dems were chosen more than the Repugs, though not by much). I have no doubt that the gerrymandering charge is true, but the Dems aren’t completely innocent on this either, since, as nearly as I can tell, that’s what happened to the gone-and-definitely-not-missed Repug U.S. House Rep Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland (I’m not going to tell you the Dems are perfect, just that the Repugs are better at seizing power and holding onto it by any means necessary).

  • Continuing, Jon Meacham of Time tells us the following; namely, that Number 44 should try to imitate Number 3’s second term (here)…

    At his core, from year to year and age to age, Thomas Jefferson was a politician who sought office and, once in office, tried to solve the problems of his day and set a course for the future within the constraints of his time and place. That he often did so with skill and effectiveness is a tribute to his life and is, I think, the heart of his legacy.

    Far be it for me to criticize a towering intellect like Jefferson, but I will only note the following from here; namely, that Jefferson’s second term wasn’t particularly “ducky.” The biggest thing he did wrong was to try and institute an embargo in an effort to remain neutral in France’s war with Great Britain; the embargo failed, severely hurting the commerce of the northeast states, and by basically entering the Napoleonic Wars on the anti-British side, Jefferson’s actions paved the way to our involvement in the War of 1812.

    Every president in my experience who is elected to a second term faces some kind of travail, either of his own making or not. And believe me when I tell you that I don’t wish that on President Obama, since he has already inherited enough trouble without having to create any more.

  • Further, there are some on my ideological side who have quite rightly taken Charles Lane of the WaPo to task, but I’ve more or less given him a pass. That is, until now; here, he basically says that the income tax deduction for state and local taxes should be eliminated because it benefits “blue” states that “need to live within their means” (see, they have “their expensive urban school systems, bloated pension liabilities and all” – with “urban” being a code for those oh-so-bad Obama voters who “want stuff”).

    Of course, Lane doesn’t even take into account that, regardless of what happens with the budget and the Beltway “fiscal cliff” kabuki, “blue” states will end up paying most of the bill anyway (here). Also, here is an example of “red state socialism” that doesn’t do anything to help our finances either (and Lane, imagining himself as a supposed fiscal guru here, once claimed that cutting the minimum wage was a supposed means to stimulate job growth.

    (I’ll tell you what – I’ll just let Atrios, using that Twitter thingie, have the last word here.)

  • Finally, this Jim Treacher idiot over at The Daily Tucker tells us the following (here)…

    When last we heard from Sandra Fluke, she had parlayed the worldwide fame she earned by being insulted by Rush Limbaugh into a spot on the Obama campaign. Her public appearances have been very successful, with attendance numbers sometimes breaking double digits.

    I was going to try and paraphrase Treacher some more, but I’m not going to bother; putting it as simply as I can, he is criticizing Fluke for her claim that an unintended pregnancy can be a barrier to a career or educational opportunity (which, as noted here, ties into a Guttemacher Institute study that claims the very same thing).

    (Also, though I’m sure Treacher and his fellow wingnuts don’t care, I’m going to provide this link anyway, telling us that the U.N. has declared that contraception is a “human right.”)

    Beyond that, let’s not forget how Fluke ended up in the spotlight; as noted below from here

    Fluke, then a 30-year-old law student at Georgetown, was invited by Democrats to speak at a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the new Administration rules on Conscience Clause exceptions in health care.[20] The exception applies to church organizations themselves, but not to affiliated nonprofit corporations, like hospitals, that do not rely primarily on members of the faith as employees.[21] In addition, another exception was created for religious institutions in which an employee can seek birth control directly from the insurance company instead of the religious-based nonprofit.[22] Democrats requested the committee add Sandra Fluke to the first panel, which was composed of clergy and theologians. Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-California) refused, stating that Fluke lacked expertise, was not a member of the clergy, and her name was not submitted in time.[20][23] Democratic members criticized the decision not to include Fluke since it left that panel with only male members,[24] when the hearing covered contraception coverage.[25]

    So basically, if the Repugs had allowed Fluke to speak at the hearing instead of engaging in a typical hissy fit, then that probably would have been the end of it. But no.

    When I worked on the phones for President Obama and the Democrats a couple of days before the election, I had the opportunity to meet Sandra Fluke; she and Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood stopped by. It was hard for me to recall a more unassuming individual; if anything, she was effusive in her praise of our efforts and tried to downplay her own accomplishments. I made sure to thank her for standing up to Rush Limbaugh and the other blowhards on the right on the contraception issue, and if anything, she was embarrassed by my compliment.

    I started this post writing about Ross Douthat and his column about the Dems and Hispanics. And yes, it’s true that Republican alienation of this very powerful voting bloc had a lot to do with their losses on November 6th.

    But make no mistake that this bunch also lost because of their shameful, despicable words and actions to a hell of a lot of women in this country. And the Sandra Fluke case is Exhibit A on that sorry score.

    And if the Repugs choose to learn absolutely nothing and repeat their grotesque actions two years from now, then they will entirely deserve the electoral losses they will inevitably suffer once again.


  • Monday Mashup Part One (5/24/10)

    May 24, 2010

  • 1) The them today (as usual) is media wankery; with that in mind, I give you Kevin Ferris from yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer (here, on the subject of how this country is supposedly “post-racial” – no, sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever see that day either)…

    …is the Justice Department up to the job (presumably, of enforcing the type of racial compliance Ferris wants to see)? I’d say no, based on how it handled the voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party on Election Day 2008.

    Two Panthers were “deployed” in “military style uniforms” at a polling station on Fairmount Street, according to the original Justice Department complaint, and one of the men “brandished a deadly weapon” – a nightstick.

    The complaint, initiated during the Bush administration, said the men “made statements containing racial threats and racial insults at both black and white individuals” and “made menacing and intimidating gestures, statements, and movements” toward those helping voters.

    The two men, the national Panthers leader, and the party itself were named in the complaint. When they didn’t respond, the case was won by default. At which point the Justice Department could have sent a message that voter intimidation by armed members of hate groups will not be tolerated.

    But Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department dropped the case against all but the guy with the club. His punishment? He can’t display a weapon at a polling place in Philadelphia through 2012. Hate groups must be shaking in their jackboots.

    (Also, I suppose I should probably get myself exercised over Ferris’s version of what happened last year with the Valley Swim Club in this screed, in which he complains that “This case should have been settled amicably, but lawsuits were filed – including one from the Justice Department. The club declared bankruptcy last fall and this month’s sale is the result.” To which I respond that, yeah, well, the Justice Department is supposed to get involved when people’s civil rights are violated. And I don’t think anything more needs to be said in response – if I do, Ferris will just come back a month later and say the same thing he said before, no matter how wrong it is.)

    However, I know for a fact that the following comment (in response to the “Black Panther” thing) was submitted but not published (from here)…

    Assuming this comment is allowed, I should point out the following. On November 4, 2008, Greg Sargent of TPM followed up on the Black Panther thing, calling Obama campaign volunteer Jacqueline Dischell, who confirmed that two Black Panthers guarded the polling place in question, which was a nursing home. One was an officially designated poll watcher (not sure by whom) and the other was his friend. The one holding the nightstick didn’t stay there all day, leaving hours before the other man. The McCain-Palin campaign heard about them when they both were there, sent some people over to take pictures with their cell phones, and started baiting the two. One of the two men gave someone in the McCain-Palin group “the finger.” Some time later, camera crews from Fox News showed up and started interviewing people at the polling place. That’s the story. There was never any voter intimidation. That’s why Holder slapped the guy with the nightstick on the proverbial wrist and dropped all other charges.

    Adherence to conservative orthodoxy is one thing, Inky (bad as it is). Journalistic malpractice is another.

  • Also, this article appeared in the New York Times today…

    WASHINGTON — Republicans remain confident of making big gains in the fall elections, but as the midterm campaign begins in earnest, they face a series of challenges that could keep the party from fully capitalizing on an electorate clamoring for change in Washington.

    Republicans continue to have much in their favor, and over all appear to be in a stronger position than Democrats. They continue to benefit from a widespread sense among voters that government has gotten too expansive, with Mr. Obama’s health care bill as Exhibit A. The economic recovery remains tepid, with unemployment still high.

    Republicans raised more money than Democrats last month, a reflection of the optimism about the potential for gains in November among the party’s contributors.

    Gee, that’s interesting, particularly given that, as noted here (h/t The Daily Kos)…

    The Republican National Committee announced Friday it raised $6.8 million in April and had $12.4 million on hand at the end of last month. That monthly haul is some $3.5 million less than the Democratic National Committee raised: the DNC took in $10.3 million and had $15.1 million in the bank at the end of the month.

    And talk about having its thumb on the metaphorical scale when it comes to reporting – Jeff Zeleny and Carl Hulse of the Times had no trouble tracking down Republican politicians and operatives, but I guess the Dems were all in hiding wearing tie dye, ingesting hallucinogenic drugs and singing hosannas to Ward Churchill or something (joke), since none could be found for the story.

    And by the way, if you want to know which party is actually trying to help get this country back on its feet, as it were, as opposed to which one isn’t, try reading this.

  • Finally, I give you John Harwood of “the old gray lady” (here)…

    Democrats see more opportunity in attacking the Tea Party right’s stance toward programs that, however pricey, have built durable constituencies. In the Times/CBS poll, Tea Party enthusiasts expressed more support than other Americans for cuts in Social Security, Medicare, education and defense.

    I haven’t seen a poll anywhere conducted on behalf of any group noting the same degree of support for this country’s defense spending as I’ve seen for support of Social Security and Medicare, by the way.

    Also…

    The Achilles’ heel for Democrats is the political zeitgeist of 2010. Costly stimulus and health care bills make it hard to argue that the Obama administration is making government leaner; now the specter of an untamed oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico clouds the argument for effective government, too.

    You can legitimately question some of what the Obama Administration has done in the Gulf, though BP said early on that they knew what they were doing when they plainly didn’t, but how is the aftermath of the spill NOT an indictment of the laissez-faire capitalist BS of Dubya and his pals?

    Particularly when you consider the following (here)…

    Despite obvious hazards and dangers, as well as inadequate safety practices, a succession of administrations, including Barack Obama’s, have backed corporate strategies strongly favoring the exploitation of oil and gas reservoirs in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and other environmentally sensitive areas.

    On the government’s side, this outlook was first fully articulated in the National Energy Policy (NEP) adopted by President George W. Bush on May 17, 2001. Led by former Halliburton CEO Vice President Dick Cheney, the framers of the policy warned that the United States was becoming ever more dependent on imported energy, thereby endangering national security. They called for increased reliance on domestic energy sources, especially oil and natural gas. “A primary goal of the National Energy Policy is to add supply from diverse sources,” the document declared. “This means domestic oil, gas, and coal.”

    As the NEP made clear, however, the United States was running out of conventional, easily tapped reservoirs of oil and natural gas located on land or in shallow coastal waters. “U.S. oil production is expected to decline over the next two decades, [while] demand for natural gas will most likely continue to outpace domestic production,” the document noted. The only solution, it claimed, would be to increase exploitation of unconventional energy reserves — oil and gas found in deep offshore areas of the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf, Alaska, and the American Arctic, as well as in complex geological formations such as shale oil and gas. “Producing oil and gas from geologically challenging areas while protecting the environment is important to Americans and to the future of our nation’s energy security,” the policy affirmed. (The phrase in italics was evidently added by the White House to counter charges — painfully accurate, as it turned out — that the administration was unmindful of the environmental consequences of its energy policies.)

    The Deepwater Horizon explosion, we assuredly will be told, was an unfortunate fluke: a confluence of improper management and faulty equipment. With tightened oversight, it will be said, such accidents can be averted — and so it will be safe to go back into the deep waters again and drill for oil a mile or more beneath the ocean’s surface.

    Don’t believe it. While poor oversight and faulty equipment may have played a critical role in BP’s catastrophe in the Gulf, the ultimate source of the disaster is big oil’s compulsive drive to compensate for the decline in its conventional oil reserves by seeking supplies in inherently hazardous areas — risks be damned.

    So long as this compulsion prevails, more such disasters will follow. Bet on it.

    In which case the utterly unscrupulous and ruthless demand for oil by BP and other corporate bad actors will be an “Achilles’ heel” not just for a politician regardless of party, but of the entire planet.


  • Monday Mashup Part One (5/17/10)

    May 17, 2010

    Three items from “the old gray lady” here, people…

  • I’m usually a fan of Gail Collins of the New York Times, but I have to wonder what she was thinking when she wrote the following in an otherwise sensible column on Saturday…

    “Do you support allowing people to carry loaded guns into an American airport?” Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey asked the attorney general at a recent Appropriations Committee hearing.

    The proper answer to this question would seem to be: “Huh?” However, Eric Holder is a dignified guy, so he settled for “very worrisome.”

    Lautenberg has a knack for proposing laws against things that most people would presume were illegal already. You may remember him from such past hits as “Let’s Not Let Convicted Felons Buy Weapons at Gun Shows” and “Don’t Sell Assault Rifles to People on the Terrorist Watch List.”

    Neither is anywhere near being passed. Or even coming up for a vote.

    Yeah, well, as noted here, people on the terror watch list are able to buy guns about 91 percent of the time, though the NRA rank-and-file membership (which has just about always acted more sensibly than its leadership) basically disapproves of this idiocy (here).

    Also, this story in the Times tells us that the U.S. Senate voted to allow Amtrak passengers to carry unloaded and locked handguns in checked baggage (and as I noted at the time, Amtrak train baggage is not “checked,” and anyone who thinks it is has obviously never ridden on Amtrak, or else they would know better…update: please see comment).

    Neither Collins nor anyone else should “presume” what is illegal and what isn’t. That’s exactly how the wingnuts are successful, by filling that information void with their propaganda that gets repeated to the point where it becomes “conventional wisdom.”

  • Also, it appears that John Harwood has been doing hallucinogenic drugs again, or something, based on this…

    Three United States Senate primaries on Tuesday offer new signs of the election-year intentions of America’s dyspeptic voters.

    A few voters, anyway.

    By the way, for those of you who haven’t eaten a Thesaurus for lunch or something, I should point out that “dyspeptic” means disgruntled.

    In Kentucky, Rand Paul’s bid for the Republican nomination will again test the strength of the Tea Party right against the establishment, represented by Trey Grayson.

    In Arkansas, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s attempt to oust the incumbent Democrat, Senator Blanche Lincoln, will measure the left’s resistance to compromise in the age of Obama.

    Oh, that’s cute (and Harwood then goes on to talk about Specter and Sestak in PA and how that race could show whether or not “partisan inconstancy is too much to bear”).

    If Harwood would decide to give a rest to his wankery for a minute and do some actual reporting, he would learn, among other things, that the Arkansas Democratic primary is actually a three-person contest between Lincoln, Halter and D.C. Morrison, the “Ralph Nader” candidate, if you will (harking back to Bush/Gore 2000…still painful, I’ll admit), who has zero chance of winning, though he could take just enough votes away from Lincoln in particular to keep her from getting 50 percent of the vote and thus force a runoff between her and Halter in June (all of this, along with more of Lincoln’s putrid record, is noted here).

    Also, the supposed “resistance to compromise” by “the left” has not a damn thing to do with an odious ad sponsored by a business group sympathetic to Lincoln criticizing Halter for offshoring of jobs to India; the highly questionable veracity of the ad is noted here, along with the fact that, though Lincoln has criticized it, that hasn’t stopped her from using imagery from the ad in a mailer (unfortunately, the ad appears to have succeeded in its goal so far; it is particularly galling for Lincoln to imply that she gives a damn about workers in this country when she opposes the Employee Free Choice Act).

    I sincerely hope that Harwood’s readers don’t grow “dyspeptic” over his preoccupation with “resistance to compromise” and “partisan inconstancy” as opposed to the reality point of view.

  • Finally, I give you The Moustache of Understanding (here)…

    … in a world where our demand for Chinese-made sneakers produces pollution that melts South America’s glaciers …

    Uh, you wanna run that one by me again, Mr. “The Mall Is Flat” (and by the way, how did the stock of General Growth Properties do last week)?

    So it’s supposed to be our fault that the sneakers we may buy at a big-box retail store come from some country made by someone paid a starvation wage under conditions of oppression most of us cannot imagine?

    In response, I give you David Sirota (here)…

    This is Tom Friedman’s world view – a view that has made him the shining star of what economist Jeff Faux calls “The Party of Davos.” It is a view we see not only in his writing about the UAE, but in his book “The World Is Flat.” His vision is of a world that is terrific for wealthy people like Friedman. He writes glowingly of booming metropolises in India, China and the UAE. But he refuses to go even one inch beneath the alluring veneer and actually look at day-to-day life for non-elites in the countries he trumpets as “modernizing models.”

    That’s not by accident, because Friedman is not stupid. His utopia is a world where a tiny handful of very rich people use “free” trade to move their capital wherever they please, exploit the most oppressed workers on the planet, and underwrite dictatorships who disenfranchise citizens. It is a world where the term “shared prosperity” means hundreds of billions of dollars being shared only between a tiny group of sheiks, dictators, businessmen and political elites. It is a world where the President of the United States simultaneously talks about his supposed desire to spread democracy, then publicly fawns all over the world’s worst dictators, and then wonders why anti-Americanism is on the rise.

    That world is a dream for someone like Friedman – it means he and his fellow class warriors get to continue living the high life, no matter how much anti-Western resentment their rhetoric and policies breed throughout the world, no matter how much economic destruction they are wreaking on ordinary people.

    And oh yeah, Friedman also says “We’ve become absorbed by shorter and shorter-term thinking.”

    As in “the next six months”?


  • Monday Mashup Part One (5/3/10)

    May 3, 2010

  • 1) Are you as under-whelmed by the entry of billionaire speculator Jeff Greene into the Florida Senate race as I am?

    As the Murdoch Street Journal tells us here, Greene made a fortune on credit default swaps against the collapsing Florida housing market; also, somewhat astutely I think, Greene had previously donated to the campaign of real Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek (here).

    Oh, and I got a kick out of the Journal highlighting the fact that Meek is supposedly a “high roller” because he has $3.8 million in campaign funds; gee, wouldn’t it have been “fair and balanced,” as it were, if they pointed out that presumptive Repug nominee Marco Rubio raised very nearly that amount in the first quarter alone (here)?

    Also, the fact that Greene has brought on board DLC Dems Joe Trippi and especially Doug Schoen tells you all you need to know about Greene’s allegiances (didn’t Terry McAuliffe try this in Virginia, ultimately helping to elect Repug Bob McDonnell as governor?).

  • 2) Also, I’m glad some news organization somewhere on this planet is calling out Laura Bush for that claim that she was supposedly poisoned in Germany in 2007 (here)…

    We see absolutely no evidence to support (these allegations) at all,” said Christian Ploeger, a spokesman for the Fundus Group that owns the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm in northern Germany where the Bushes stayed for a G8 summit.

    “The food was checked by security staff,” he said.

    “I suspect that this may be just to try and sell more copies of the book.”

    Word to that, yo (and how disgusting is it for her to make a charge like that when, for example, the enemies of our ol’ buddy Vlad Putin routinely seemed to be ingesting exotic chemicals that ultimately killed them – I mean, when they weren’t falling out of buildings to their deaths, that is?).

    Oh, and speaking of the former first couple, just when you thought that only David Broder was concocting the dreaded “Bush bounce” stories, I give you this.

  • 3) Finally, I’m scratching my head over this bit of Old Gray Lady wankery from John Harwood (here)…

    Bush administration officials had multiple arguments for war with Iraq. But to anchor their public case, Paul D. Wolfowitz, the former deputy secretary of defense, once explained, “We settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction.”

    For similar reasons, Republicans accused Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats of perpetuating bank bailouts through their proposal for shutting down failing Wall Street institutions. Though the plan explicitly aimed to prevent bailouts, Republicans seized on potential loopholes in hopes of capitalizing on public resentment.

    Senator Bob Corker questioned fellow Republicans’ arguments, helping shift debate toward issues like Senator Blanche Lincoln’s derivatives spinoff plan.

    But Mr. Obama called that argument “cynical and deceptive,” and Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, publicly questioned its credibility. Senate Republican leaders could not hold rank-and-file members against beginning floor debate, especially as Democrats signaled willingness to compromise on disputed provisions.

    OK, the last paragraph is pretty much rooted in the real world, so I think that’s OK. However, the line about “Democrats…perpetuating bank bailouts through their proposal for shutting down Wall Street institutions” is factually wrong.

    As noted here…

    STEPHANIE DHUE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Republicans oppose this idea of a bail-out fund, saying it will institutionalize “too big to fail.”

    FRANK: Well, there is no bail-out fund. Your use of the phrase, frankly, ought to make Mitch McConnell happy, because there is no bail-out fund. A bail-out fund suggests that there is money that is going to help an institution.

    DHUE: So we should call it a “dissolution fund”?

    FRANK: Yes, it is — actually, it is a “funeral expenses fund.” And it’s a dissolution fund, which is, in fact, what we do call it.

    A bail-out fund suggests that you take money from the tax-payers and give it to institutions that have screwed up to keep them alive. None of that applies to our fund. In the first place, what it is is money that is raised from financial institutions, not from the tax-payers. Secondly, it can only be spent to help put the institution to death. What we do in this bill, first of all, is to say that unlike the current law, the regulators don’t have to pay — they don’t have to choose between paying all of the debts and none of the debts. They can pay only those debts of an ongoing — of an institution that are necessary to avoid a collapse.

    But there is no bail-out. There is no public money. And more importantly, the institution is dead. Not a penny can be spent until the shareholders lose everything, the CEO is fired, the board of directors is fired, the company is basically dissolved.

    Of course, since Senate Democrats lack the spine of House Democrats, the fund was dropped, as noted here; also, for reasons that utterly escape me, President Obama bought into the wingnut talking point that the fund would be used for bailouts, when, as Barney Frank already pointed out, no such thing would have occurred.

    It should also be noted that the whole “bailout fund” talking point has been echoed everywhere by our corporate media, including former Bushco flak Dana Perino here, who defended the GOP’s actions on financial reform, saying the party was “leading” (as noted here, though, this is one of many topics about which she is not an expert – claims from the prior post include misinformation about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the entire question of whether or not our economy was even in a recession as far as she knew while her boss’s term in office mercifully concluded).

    And just to make sure that Perino’s misinformation is current on financial matters, I give you this also.

    Oh, and one more thing, Harwood – Iraq’s WMD were never found (apparently it is necessary for me to remind you of that).


  • More Monday Economic Harwood Hackery

    March 8, 2010


    John Harwood of the New York Times really served up the laffs in this “Caucus” column today…

    For President Obama and Congressional Democrats, public opinion this past year has mostly gone in the wrong direction — on his job performance, on health care and economic stimulus, on midterm elections.

    It’s interesting to me that Harwood would say that, given this poll that appeared in his own newspaper last month saying that those surveyed still trusted Obama over Republicans, though three-quarters of those surveyed said they disapproved of Congress, the highest percentage since the survey started in 1977 (often, though, this is a case where the institution is vilified, though those surveyed often hold a more favorable opinion of their legislators).

    Harwood also tells us the following…

    Three-fifths of Americans supported tougher regulation of Wall Street in April 2009, according to Pew Research Center polling. Despite rising disaffection with government, three fifths still supported it last month.

    Of course, heaven forbid that Harwood would actually cite a number to support his claim of “rising disaffection with government.”

    Also, when it comes to the possibility of a financial regulation bill from the Senate…

    The ranking Banking Committee Republican, Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, has returned to discussions with (Sen. Chris) Dodd, after earlier reaching an impasse and watching his junior colleague, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, step up as Mr. Dodd’s Republican interlocutor.

    I don’t really have a criticism of Harwood on this item, but I just wanted to point out the following concerning Dodd’s “interlocutor” (here).

    And Harwood gives us a real whopper near the end…

    …financial regulation gives Democrats a rare opportunity to tap the Tea Party populism that Republicans have exploited on health care.

    If Harwood thinks any Democrat whatsoever can achieve common cause with those uninformed, Obama-hating, conspiracy-theory-crazed, primarily white, middle-aged fools wearing their funny hats and carrying their detestable signs, then he must be taking hallucinogenic drugs.


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