Report Card for “Bri-Fi,” 2018

September 10, 2018

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As we know, the mid-term elections are fast approaching, so I thought now was as good a time as any to take a look at what our Wet Noodle 2.0 U.S. House Rep for PA-01 was up to (I’m referring to Brian Fitzpatrick of course).

To begin, it should be noted that Bri-Fi sought to burnish his “pro-life” bona fides by voting for a 20-week abortion ban (that and other votes are noted here – fortunately, as noted here, the ban was rejected by the U.S. Senate in January).

As noted here, though…

Nearly 99 percent of abortions occur before 21 weeks, but when they are needed later in pregnancy, it’s often in very complex circumstances. For example, severe fetal anomalies and serious risks to the woman’s health — the kind of situations where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.

20-week bans are also highly unpopular throughout the country. 61% of all voters say abortion should be legal after 20 weeks. Plus, Democrats (78%), Republicans (62%), and Independents (71%) say this is the wrong issue for lawmakers to be spending time on.

Fitzpatrick also voted for a permanent ban on federal funds for abortions or health coverage that includes abortions (which is pointless because federal funding for abortions is already banned under the Hyde Amendment, named after a serial philanderer in Congress – more here).

When it comes to civil liberties, Fitzpatrick also voted to reauthorize warrantless spying under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA); Republicans managed to make it worse in the process according to some fourth amendment advocates (a group which should include everyone I realize).

As noted here

“Not only does the (reauthorized) bill say you have our blessing to collect communications that contain a target’s email address, it also endorses collecting communications that merely contain a reference to the target,” says Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security program at New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. “So literally if you and I sent an email to each other that had the word ISIS in it, if you and I send an email that talks about ISIS, under this bill the government is authorized to collect it.” (Assuming ISIS is a group that the NSA is specifically targeting.)

The bill does impose a warrant requirement upon the FBI, but the way it’s written appears to weaken privacy protections rather than strengthen them, says Goitein. Under the legislation, FBI agents need a warrant to search the Section 702 database when a criminal investigation has already been opened, but not when national security is involved. That means the FBI can query the database on nothing more than a tip. “It incentivizes doing searches earlier and earlier, when it’s less and less justified,” says Goitein.

Fitzpatrick also voted along with Generalissimo Trump (which he has done about 83 percent of the time according to Nate Silver) in the matter of disciplining VA whistleblowers (here).

Also, as noted here

The U.S. Government Accountability Office’s report says VA whistleblowers are far more likely than their colleagues to face discipline or removal after reporting misconduct.

The number of VA workers fired is up under President Trump. But congressional Democrats and the VA’s union cite VA data showing that the vast majority of those fired in the first five months of 2018 were low-level food service, laundry and custodial staff the majority of whom are veterans. In that same period, only 15 out of 1,096 employees fired were supervisors.

This report comes as the VA’s own inspector general has publicly clashed recently with the VA leadership over access to documents and information about whistleblower adjudication.

A recent NPR investigation showed a pattern of often vicious whistleblower retaliation at the VA in central Alabama and sidelining of whistleblowers in Indiana.

There’s also a news report this week that the VA, under Acting Secretary Peter O’Rourke, is aggressively reassigning or forcing out VA staff members thought to be disloyal to President Trump and his agenda for the agency.

I realize that we’ve had VA issues with both Democratic and Republican presidents (probably the result of too many damn wars and too many of our heroes getting maimed in our country’s service and putting a strain on available resources), but I don’t know of anyone being forced out for being “disloyal” to President Obama.

And speaking of Number 44, Fitzpatrick repeatedly attacked Obama-era rules, including a rule blocking states from defunding Planned Parenthood (here) as well as another rule requiring employers to keep better record of workplace injuries (here). He also voted to overturn a rule prohibiting labor law violators from eligibility for federal contracts, allowing these companies to underpay their workers once more and evade safety regulations (here).

Fitzpatrick also voted to overturn an Obama rule banning drug testing jobless applying for unemployment. As noted here

As things have long stood, states only had the authority to institute drug tests for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash welfare program. Thus far, 13 states have instituted such regimes. But what their experience has proven year after year is that the tests, while costly to administer, turn up very few positive test results. Out of about 250,000 applicants and recipients among these states in 2016, just 369 tested positive; in four states, exactly zero people tested positive for illegal drug use. In the states with positive results, they ranged from a low of 0.07 percent of all applicants to a high of 2.14 percent, rates far below the nearly 10 percent drug use rate among the general population.

Meanwhile, states collectively spent $1.6 million on drug testing, on top of the nearly $2 million spent during the previous two years, despite the apparent ineffectiveness of these programs. That’s money that could instead be used to expand welfare benefits or even drug treatment programs.

Another vote from Fitzpatrick to overturn Internet privacy rules allowed internet service providers, or ISPs, to sell “financial and medical information. Social Security numbers, web browsing history, mobile app usage (and) even the content of your emails and online chats,” according to Sam Gustin of the web site Motherboard (vote is here).

Fitzpatrick also voted to end federal checks preventing more than 167,000 veterans deemed “mentally incompetent” from keeping or purchasing firearms (H.R. 1181). This is part and parcel of Bri-Fi’s utterly craven voting recording in near-total fealty to the NRA. As noted here:

  • In February 2017, Fitzpatrick voted to block the Social Security Administration from sharing information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System on people with mental disorders in order to prevent them from purchasing firearms.
  • In November, 2017 Fitzpatrick voted twice to block the establishment of a select committee on gun violence prevention.
  • In December 2017, Fitzpatrick said he supports concealed carry reciprocity which would force states like Pennsylvania to defer to the concealed carry weapon laws of more pro-gun states like Texas.
  • In February 2018, Fitzpatrick voted to kill consideration of legislation on gun regulations.
  • In March 2018, Fitzpatrick voted to block three bills to close gun safety loopholes including the gun show, internet sale, and classified ad background check loopholes to prevent the sale of guns without a completed background check.
  • Fitzpatrick also voted to prohibit Department of Justice (DOJ) settlements requiring parties to donate monies to outside groups. This may seem a bit obscure, but as a result, the following should be noted from here

    The decision (to distribute settlement funds only to those directly harmed by wrongdoing) by the Justice Department throws into question an upcoming $12 million settlement against Harley-Davidson. As part of the settlement, the motorcycle manufacturer agreed to stop selling illegal after-market devices that increase the air pollution emitted by the motorcycles.

    Harley-Davidson had agreed to donate $3 million to a project to reduce air pollution, the Justice Department said in August. With Sessions’s decision Monday, that settlement’s fate is now up in the air.

    Also, Fitzpatrick voted to get rid of financial protection regulations, otherwise known as the Dodd-Frank Act, put in place to increase financial stability and consumer protections in the wake of the 2008 recession. As Gregg Gelzinis of the Center for American Progress notes here

    The CHOICE Act also allows banks of any size to opt out of a suite of crucial regulations—such as stress testing, living wills, risk-based capital requirements, liquidity requirements and more—if they maintain a leverage ratio of 10 percent. And it repeals the Volcker Rule’s ban on risky proprietary trading bets. A 10 percent leverage ratio is not nearly enough capital to justify such drastic deregulation.

    Furthermore, the CHOICE Act shreds the authority and resources of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the council of financial regulators tasked with looking at risks across the financial system. FSOC would no longer have the power to address dangers that emerge outside of the traditional banking sector, putting taxpayers at risk. The bill also eliminates the Office of Financial Research, which provides data-driven research support to FSOC to help identify emerging risks.

    Tax Cuts_Bri-Fi3 (1)

    And speaking of money matters, Fitzpatrick also voted for his party’s so-called tax reform bill last December, which adds about $1 trillion to the deficit (which, of course, Republicans only care about when they’re trying to utterly gut the social safety net). The non-partisan Tax Policy Center found that after the tax plan has taken full effect in 2027, 80 percent of the benefits would go to the top 1 percent of earners in this country. When it comes to tax cuts, the top 1 percent will get an average cut of $1,022,120, while the middle 20 percent will get an average cut of $420, eviscerating any notion that the middle class are the key beneficiaries of the Republicans’ “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code.”

    As noted here

    Should Trump-state Senate Democrats who voted against the tax bill, like Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Joe Manchin (West Virginia), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), and Jon Tester (Montana), really fear electoral backlash?

    Absolutely not, according to our analysis. In fact, they should highlight their opposition to Trump’s tax bill even in these red states.

    Most polling about the bill has been national, and it suggests broad unpopularity. Our analysis of exclusive national data to model state support for the tax bill suggests that Democrats have little to fear from the GOP law and should embrace progressive policies to mobilize opposition.

    Update 10/5/18: For the record, here is Fitzpatrick’s vote from December, and here is a recent vote to make the tax cuts for the rich permanent – heckuva job!

    And for anyone out there who may have bought into the “trickle down” lie still after all this time, I give you the following (here)…

    In the first six months after the Trump tax cuts were passed, corporate investment in equipment declined, America’s projected long-term deficit swelled by nearly $2 trillion, and wages for the vast majority of American workers fell on an inflation-adjusted basis.

    And there is no sign that reality will start comporting with the GOP’s predictions any time soon. As the Washington Post’s Heather Long notes, Morgan Stanley reported last month that America’s businesses are planning less future capital spending now than they were a few months ago. And that finding is bolstered by a recent survey of 393 businesses from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the audit firm RSM, which found that only 38 percent of those firms plan to increase investment over the next three years.

    Instead of channeling their profits into productive investment, S&P 500 companies are on pace to plow a record-setting $800 billion into buying back their own stocks. The point of such “stock buybacks” is to increase a firm’s share price (and thus, in many cases, the performance-based pay of its CEO) by reducing the supply of shares on the market.

    Oh, and for good measure, it should be noted that, according to Nate Silver, Fitzpatrick voted no to impeachment resolutions against Trump at least twice (I realize this isn’t shocking given that they’re in the same party, but it should be pointed out for the record).

    By himself, as far as I’m concerned, Brian Fitzpatrick hasn’t done nearly enough to merit another two years in the U.S. Congress. Worse, he’s part of a majority that has done nothing whatsoever to rein in a calamitously unqualified individual currently taking up space in An Oval Office.

    Given that, I see absolutely no alternative than to vote for Scott Wallace for Congress from PA-01 on November 6th.


    Up, Up and Away, Trumpsters!

    August 10, 2018

    Space Force Again
    Kind of bringing this site back a little bit for this item (more here)…

    I saw an item from our local news station on Twitter that had a poll about which logo design was most popular for the Trumpian “space force” recently announced here (my contribution to that appears above).

    However, I think asking people about a logo only misses the point a bit. I mean, for such a stirring initiative such as a “Space Force,” don’t you think a “fight song” should be included? You know…something rousing to get the blood going? The whole “spirit of adventure” thing, and like that?

    Well, with that in mind, here is my contribution:

    Space Force, fly in the sky
    Far from Mueller’s legal “reach”
    Or the Manafort trial
    While Rod Rosentein’s impeached
    Here’s to changing the narrative from children in jail
    And Butina, FSB, NRA “fail”
    While our country wonders “Why?”
    Fly, space force fly!

    Space Force, fly in the sky
    Far from Wilbur Ross, a thief
    While Trump’s new Twitter feud
    With LeBron beggars belief
    Is this just a new stunt for Congress to save
    From voter disgust and the coming “blue wave”?
    Could this be just one more lie?
    Fly, space force fly!

    (I got a kick out of the way MSNBC reported this with the caption “Guardians of the Galaxy” under Mike Pence while he was giving a speech about it. Yeah, I’d say the whole damn thing is pretty cartoonish also.)


    Friday Mashup (5/9/14)

    May 9, 2014
  • This from clownhall.com tells us the following (with the understated headline of “Guns Don’t Cause Gang Violence – Democrats Do”)…

    Between Friday night, and Sunday evening, 28 people had been shot in Rahm Emanuel’s gun control utopia (Chicago). Which, unbelievably, shows an improvement over the previous weekend, which tacked on more than 40 gunshot victims to the city’s climbing statistics. And, heck, with the CPD’s recent scandal surrounding how they classify various crimes, it almost makes you wonder if these numbers are more “ballpark” figures than actual stats.

    I mean, heck, (gun control) hasn’t exactly worked out that well so far, but why not double down? Right? The fact is, the failure of Liberalism has brought the city to its current state of deterioration. The Chicago model of unconstitutional restrictions on keeping and bearing arms has done little more than add fuel to the fire. Politicians, meanwhile, have been more than happy to ignore the easily identifiable, but politically tricky, origins of gang violence, and criminal activity.

    Yeah, well, this is part and parcel of the wingnut caterwauling on guns I realize. However, did you know that the state of Illinois recently passed a concealed carry law, as noted here?

    Well then, isn’t the Michael Schaus post proof, then, that concealed carry leads to more crime?

    And as noted here, the NRA is pushing for a national concealed carry law that would override other more sensible state laws (the party of “state’s rights” strikes again, considering how “simpatico” the NRA is with the “party of Lincoln”). Which is all part and parcel of this (and by the way, Politifact strikes again on the whole “half true” thing – the U.S. has the highest gun casualty rate among “other affluent nations on a per capita basis,” so that settles it as far as I’m concerned).

  • Next, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction” is back to inflict the following (here)…

    The qualifications of a Tommy “Dude” Vietor or Ben Rhodes that placed them in the Situation Room during Obama-administration crises were not years of distinguished public service, military service, prior elected office, a string of impressive publications, an academic career, previous diplomatic postings, or any of the usual criteria that have placed others at the nerve center of America in times of crisis. Their trajectory was based on yeoman partisan PR work, and largely on being young, hip, and well-connected politically. I don’t think either of these operatives has a particular worldview or competency that would promote the interests of the United States. But they do talk well, know the right people, and are hip. Again, they have no real expertise or even ideology other than that.

    (The “Dude” reference, for the uninitiated, has to do with Vietor pretty much laughing off more BENGHAZI!!! idiocy from Bret Baier of Fix Noise, which I think was definitely the correct response.)

    So a certain V.D. Hanson is criticizing Vietor and Rhodes because of their ascent in the Obama Administration from a background of “yeoman partisan PR work.”

    Well then, let’s take a look at Obama’s ruinous predecessor, as long as Hanson has opened that “can of worms”:

  • Longtime Bushie Karen Hughes was a “communications strategist” who, as a member of the White House Iraq Group, helped to sell Number 43’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Iraq (here).
  • And speaking of the quagmire in Mesopotamia, former PR flak Dan Bartlett once said that his boss “never had a ‘stay the course’ strategy” here (liar).
  • When it comes to PR and marketing, though, I don’t think either Hughes or Bartlett can top Andrew Card, who rose to Chief of Staff and notoriously said here that “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August” in response to the question of why Bushco started beating the drums for war in Iraq in earnest in September 2002.
  • Given this, I would say that, when it comes to “yeoman partisan PR work,” Vietor and Rhodes are chumps by comparison (and speaking of Iraq, more “fun” with Hanson is here).

  • Further, I think it’s time to take a look at some true revisionist wingnuttery on The Sainted Ronnie R, first from Michael Barone here

    Second-term presidents over the last generation have tried, with varying results, to achieve breakthroughs. Ronald Reagan, after cutting tax rates in his first term, called for further cuts combined with elimination of tax preferences that had encrusted the tax code.

    House Ways and Means chairman Dan Rostenkowski and Senate Finance chairman Bob Packwood — a Democrat and a Republican — achieved a historic breakthrough with the tax-reform legislation of 1986, thanks in part to intensive coaching from Treasury Secretary James Baker.

    See, the point of Barone’s screed is that Obama isn’t being “bipartisan” enough for his liking, with Barone’s definition of “bipartisan” being, apparently, to get beaten up and let the Republicans do whatever they want (Barone lists other examples of supposed “bipartisanship” that got things done in Washington).

    I guess that, living in the world of reality, it may not be necessary to point out at every opportunity to you, dear reader, that Number 40 raised taxes a dozen times, as noted here. However, since the other side is constantly trying to form reality to their twisted worldview, I believe that I must engage in this exercise.

    And sticking with the decade in which Reagan took up space in An Oval Office, this post from The Daily Tucker discusses a TV program called “The Americans,” which I guess has to do with Soviet-era spies living in this country.

    So what is this show about, exactly…

    In one recent scene, for example, KGB agent Elizabeth goes off on a standard 80s liberal spiel about the Nicaragua war, complete with hypocritical sympathy for Catholic nuns and dissident journalists.

    Well OK then – it looks like this Will Rahn person isn’t a big fan of ‘80s-era political activism in particular.

    In response, I give you the following from here

    I first confronted this pattern while covering Reagan’s hard-line policies toward Central America. The lies started just weeks after Reagan’s 1980 election, when four American churchwomen were raped and murdered by government security forces in rightist-ruled El Salvador.

    On the night of Dec. 2, 1980, two of the women, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, drove a white mini-van to the international airport outside San Salvador. There, they picked up Ita Ford and Maura Clarke who had attended a conference in Nicaragua.

    Leaving the airport, the van turned onto the road that heads into the capital city. At a roadblock, a squad of soldiers stopped the van and took the women into custody. After a phone call apparently to a superior officer, the sergeant in charge said the orders were to kill the women. The soldiers raped them first and then executed the women with high-powered rifles.

    The atrocity was only one of hundreds committed each month by the Salvadoran security forces in a “dirty war” against leftists and their suspected supporters, a conflict that was more mass murder than a war, a butchery that would eventually claim some 70,000 lives. The Dec. 2 atrocity stood out only because Americans were the victims.

    The proper response from U.S. officials would have seemed obvious: to join U.S. Ambassador Robert White in denouncing the brutal rape and murder of four American citizens. But the incoming Reagan foreign policy team didn’t see it that way; Reagan was on the side of the rightist Salvadoran military.

    So, the rape-murder was treated like a public relations problem, best handled by shifting blame onto the victims. Jeane Kirkpatrick, Reagan’s choice for United Nations ambassador, depicted the victims as “not just nuns. The nuns were political activists – on behalf of the [leftist opposition] Frente.”

    Kirkpatrick’s implication was that it wasn’t all that bad to rape and murder “political activists.”

    And as far as the “Fourth Estate” is concerned (here)…

    To conceal the truth about the war crimes of Central America, Reagan also authorized a systematic program of distorting information and intimidating American journalists.

    Called “public diplomacy” or “perception management,” the project was run by a CIA propaganda veteran, Walter Raymond Jr., who was assigned to the National Security Council staff. The explicit goal of the operation was to manage U.S. “perceptions” of the wars in Central America.

    The project’s key operatives developed propaganda “themes,” selected “hot buttons” to excite the American people, cultivated pliable journalists who would cooperate and bullied reporters who wouldn’t go along.

    The best-known attacks were directed against New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner for disclosing Salvadoran army massacres of civilians, including the slaughter of more than 800 men, women and children in El Mozote in December 1981.

    But Bonner was not alone. Reagan’s operatives pressured scores of reporters and their editors in an ultimately successful campaign to minimize information about these human rights crimes reaching the American people. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

    The tamed reporters, in turn, gave the administration a far freer hand to pursue its anticommunist operations throughout Central America.

    Despite the tens of thousands of civilian deaths and now-corroborated accounts of massacres and genocide, not a single senior military officer in Central America was held accountable for the bloodshed.

    The U.S. officials who sponsored and encouraged these war crimes not only escaped any legal judgment, but remained highly respected figures in Washington. Reagan has been honored as few recent presidents have.

    The journalists who played along by playing down the atrocities — the likes of Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer — saw their careers skyrocket, while those who told the truth suffered severe consequences.

    And given the BENGHAZI!!! fever currently sweeping the “leadership” of the U.S. House, I think this is a timely article.

  • Continuing, it looks like VA head Eric Shinseki (who, once again, is a huge improvement over his Bushco counterpart) is in hot water, as noted here

    (Reuters) – Two Republican senators on Tuesday joined veterans groups in calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign amid claims that up to 40 people died while waiting for treatment in the U.S. veterans’ healthcare system.

    Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas, said the Veterans Affairs Department needed a “true transformation … from top to bottom.”

    “I ask the secretary to submit his resignation and I ask President (Barack) Obama to accept that resignation,” Moran said on the Senate floor.

    Assistant Senate Republican leader John Cornyn said: “The president needs to find a new leader to lead this organization out of the wilderness, and back to providing the service our veterans deserve.”

    As noted here, Cornyn voted against a bill to provide $12 billion in medical, educational and job-training benefits for our veterans returning from the wars (to be fair, Moran voted Yes as noted here).

    However, it’s not as if the Kansas senator doesn’t have his own baggage in these matters. He gave conditional-at-best support here to the military sexual assault bill sponsored by Dem Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Moran also voted against the Veterans with Disabilities Act (here), despite the request from former Kansas Sen. (and WWII-disabled vet, of course) Bob Dole that Moran and everyone else in the U.S. Senate support it.

    The Reuters story also tells us the following…

    The American Legion, the biggest U.S. veterans’ group, and Concerned Veterans for America called on Monday for Shinseki, a former Army general twice wounded in Vietnam, to step down.

    I’m not going to take issue with The American Legion, but Concerned Veterans for America…hmmm…

    Oh yeah – as noted here, that’s another “dark money” front group for Chuck and Dave Koch (kind of like “Concerned Women of America” who are apparently trying to torpedo a women’s history museum sponsored by Dem Carolyn Maloney and Repug Marsha Blackburn (!), as noted here, with “Moon Unit” Bachmann opposing it even though the plan is for her to be featured in an exhibit – way too funny).

    Returning to the main topic, I don’t know if Gen. Shinseki should resign as head of the VA or not. However, I think it’s more than a bit hypocritical to blame only him for trying to clean up a mess originated by our prior ruling cabal (which he, among a very select few – and more’s the pity on that – actually stood up to, as noted here).

  • Finally (and speaking of war), I give you former Bushco U.N. rep John “Blow ‘Em Up” Bolton (here, with what you might call some “crackpot history” in concert with his claim that President Obama’s recent far east tour didn’t go well since Obama looked tired, or something)…

    In 1932, Secretary of State Henry Stimson declared his “non-recognition” doctrine regarding Japanese aggression in China and subsequent annexations. Although politically symbolic, Stimson’s high-collared moralisms did nothing to deter further Japanese expansionism.

    Years later, when President Roosevelt finally imposed sanctions that could actually inhibit Japan’s military, the increasing likelihood of war against the Nazis was apparent. Pearl Harbor followed, but one can ask if stronger U.S. Asia policies in the 1930’s might have caused a different result.

    Yes, “one” can ask indeed if “one” were a total moron, I suppose. As noted from here

    In 1933, President (Franklin D.) Roosevelt proposed a Congressional measure that would have granted him the right to consult with other nations to place pressure on aggressors in international conflicts. The bill ran into strong opposition from the leading isolationists in Congress, including progressive politicians such as Senators Hiram Johnson of California, William Borah of Idaho, and Robert La Follette of Wisconsin. In 1935, controversy over U.S. participation in the World Court elicited similar opposition. As tensions rose in Europe over Nazi Germany’s aggressive maneuvers, Congress pushed through a series of Neutrality Acts, which served to prevent American ships and citizens from becoming entangled in outside conflicts. Roosevelt lamented the restrictive nature of the acts, but because he still required Congressional support for his domestic New Deal policies, he reluctantly acquiesced.

    The isolationists were a diverse group, including progressives and conservatives, business owners and peace activists, but because they faced no consistent, organized opposition from internationalists, their ideology triumphed time and again. Roosevelt appeared to accept the strength of the isolationist elements in Congress until 1937. In that year, as the situation in Europe continued to grow worse and the Second Sino-Japanese War began in Asia, the President gave a speech in which he likened international aggression to a disease that other nations must work to “quarantine.” At that time, however, Americans were still not prepared to risk their lives and livelihoods for peace abroad. Even the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 did not suddenly diffuse popular desire to avoid international entanglements. Instead, public opinion shifted from favoring complete neutrality to supporting limited U.S. aid to the Allies short of actual intervention in the war. The surprise Japanese attack on the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 served to convince the majority of Americans that the United States should enter the war on the side of the Allies.

    And as noted from here

    By 1940, the (Second Sino-Japanese) war descended into stalemate. The Japanese seemed unable to force victory, nor the Chinese to evict the Japanese from the territory they had conquered. But western intervention in the form of economic sanctions (most importantly oil) against Japan would transform the nature of the war. It was in response to these sanctions that Japan decided to attack America at Pearl Harbor, and so initiate World War II in the Far East.

    OK, so, to review:

  • Sanctions against Japan were probably necessary in hindsight, but to try and make the argument that Roosevelt sought them too late and Pearl Harbor might have been prevented is ridiculous. If anything, if sanctions had been imposed earlier, an attack might have happened earlier (again, not saying that sanctions were wrong) when we would have been less adequately prepared to fight it than we were.
  • As the article states above, there was not enough of a “push back” against the isolationist sentiment Roosevelt faced across the political spectrum at home after World War I. And he needed those same senators opposing military action to support the New Deal.
  • I’m not a bit surprised, however, to find out that Bolton knows nothing about that period of history, given that he finished his column with the following (again, using this totally inaccurate reading to justify another attack on Number 44)…

    In December, 1937, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of all people observed that, “It is always best and safest to count on nothing from the Americans but words.”

    5_fig002
    And the fact that Bolton would say that without a single word of acknowledgment of the price this country paid to defeat the Axis Powers in World War II (particularly repugnant as we approach Memorial Day) tells you how callow and ignorant he truly is.


  • Wednesday Mashup (7/24/13)

    July 24, 2013
  • Time to “bring the crazy” once more (here)

    Attorney General Eric Holder – the first and only sitting Cabinet member in 225 years to be cited for contempt of Congress – has politicized the United States Department of Justice to the breaking point.

    Shortly after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman innocent of murder on Saturday night, Holder announced that DOJ would conduct a criminal civil rights investigation.

    The FBI had previously conducted a lengthy investigation that found no evidence that Trayvon Martin’s death stemmed from racial motives.

    Disregarding the Florida jury and the FBI, Holder is prolonging a deeply unjust and unwarranted investigation in response to demands from Rev. Al Sharpton and his ilk.

    Holder has no legal grounds on which to stand. The federal government’s limited constitutional powers do not extend to commonplace murders, whose prosecution is the job of the states.

    The authors of this piece of dookey from Fix Noise are former Bushies John C. “Torture” Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, and Robert J. Delahunty, former special counsel to our prior ruling cabal.

    To me, this is particularly amusing (in a dark kind of way, I’ll admit) given the fact that, as noted here, Yoo and Delahunty once collaborated on “secret legal opinions” that “included assertions that the president could use the nation’s military within the United States to combat terrorism suspects and to conduct raids without obtaining search warrants.”

    And they say that Eric Holder has “politicized the United States Department of Justice to the breaking point.”

    Pot, meet kettle.

    Besides, as noted here from Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page, Holder is blamed for not doing enough on the Trayvon Martin murder (with the claim that the tip line on George Zimmerman is pretty much lip service from the Obama Administration on this issue).

    Geez, wingnuts, will you please get your propaganda straight?

  • Next, I don’t really have a lot to add, but I wanted to highlight the following from U.S. House Rep (and Senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee) George Miller of California here (telling us that “fourteen members of Congress voted to keep millions of dollars of their own federal farm subsidies but not to extend nutrition aid for low-income working families”)…

    …14 Republican members of Congress, who each voted for a Farm Bill that excluded a nutrition title for the first time in four decades, have received more than $7.2 million in government farm subsidies, or an average of $515,279 in handouts. At the same time, they have a combined net worth of as much as $124.5 million, according to public records.

    In stark contrast, the typical household receiving aid under the farm bill through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has a gross monthly income of only $744, and their average monthly SNAP benefit—which every member detailed in this report voted against extending— is just $281.

    And the fourteen are (drum roll, please)…

    Robert Aderholt (AL-04)

    Blake Farenthold (TX-27)

    Stephen Fincher (TN-08)

    Vicky Hartzler (MO-04)

    John Kline (MN-02)

    Doug LaMalfa (CA-01)

    Tom Latham (IO-03)

    Frank Lucas (OK-03)

    Cynthia Lummis (WY-AL)

    Randy Neugebauer (TX-18)

    Kristi Noem (SD-AL)

    Marlin Stutzman (IN-03)

    Mac Thornberry (TX-13)

    David Valadao (CA-21)

    I’ll keep an eye on these characters, probably most of whom are Teahadists; hopefully, as worthy Dems come forward to challenge them, I’ll be able to update this post accordingly.

  • Continuing, it looks like, when it comes to the whole “liberals are as bad as conservatives, and to prove it, here is more false equivalence” beat, Politico is on it, all right (here)…

    For the first time in Colorado history, two state lawmakers will face recall elections for their support of tougher gun control measures.

    Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on Thursday setting the date for the recall elections of the pair of Democratic state senators.

    Under pressure of a campaign by the NRA, Senate State President John Morse and Pueblo Sen. Angela Giron will face the first recall effort in Colorado history.

    Oh noes! Could it be that Dems are facing electoral trouble for supporting common-sense gun legislation?

    Uh, no (well, not to this point anyway) – as noted here from about a week ago…

    Today, Mother Jones is reporting on the status of recall campaigns backed by the NRA after Colorado Democrats dared to pass stronger gun laws in their state.

    This sort of fight is to be expected, if laws to curb gun violence are passed anywhere — after all, the NRA and its gunmaker masters profit from gun violence coming and going. They need gun violence to encourage sales, both from the violent and those afraid enough to get their own guns.

    And while I don’t mean to make light of the recall campaigns in Colorado, it’s good to see that they haven’t worked out very well so far.

    There’s more from the Mother Jones story linked to the Daily Kos post, including the precious little item about Jaxine Bubis, running against state senate president John Morse, and her foray into erotic fiction (let me guess – “The elongated barrel shimmered and glistened, sleek, cool and confident. He revealed it to me for only an instant before he shoved it into the holster fastened against his hip, tied to the inside of his muscular thigh. He kept the firing pin at the ready, cocked, if you will.”).

    OK, I’ll stop.

    And oh yeah, did you know that Colorado apparently wants to secede from itself? As noted here

    “The people of rural Colorado are mad, and they have every right to be,” U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, Colo., told Denver’s 9 News last month. “The governor and his Democrat colleagues in the statehouse have assaulted our way of life, and I don’t blame people one bit for feeling attacked and unrepresented by the leaders in our state.”

    Bless Gardner’s pointed little Repug head – surprised that he somehow didn’t make the list of 14 above. But not to worry

    This sounds like it’s going in the same direction as the Repug efforts to recall Democrats in Wisconsin who stood up to Gov. Hosni Mubarak Walker, as noted here (and let us do what we can to ensure the same result in both states by clicking here – the recall election in Colorado against Morse and Giron is scheduled for September 10th).

    Update 7/29/13: Fine – go ahead and shoot each other, wingnuts, but leave everybody else alone, OK (here).

  • Further, in case anyone out there was wondering what former Repug U.S. House Rep (and one-time presidential candidate – no, really) Thad McCotter was up to…well, wonder no more.

    Here, he opines on the sad story of The Motor City, which, as we know, recently declared bankruptcy. However, if you’re looking for a way forward from “Mad Thad,” keep looking (instead, he offers what one would consider the typical bromides, such as the following)…

    Only when this realization – this practical optimism – is matched to Detroit’s titanic resilience will the redemption commence. If bankruptcy is viewed as a challenge rather than an epitaph, an abandoned property will become an opportunity, a humble hope will become a bustling shop, a neighborhood will become a community, a community will become a family, and a redeemed Detroit will become a reality.

    Oh, and I also give you this…

    As our city has gone from “The Arsenal of Democracy” to the “Motor City” to the “The D” to “The Done,” Detroit’s outlook has become one of pessimistic resilience; she expects the worst and works to survive it. Integral to this ability to survive is the capacity to detach herself from the worst as it occurs. To wit, Detroit’s gut reaction to the “news” the city is bankrupt was? “No shit.”

    Such language from a supposedly up-standing Catholic like Thad; what a bold and brazen article!

    Oh, and let’s not forget this too…

    Finally, admittedly: as a longstanding object of national derision, Detroit knows that in some quarters her bankruptcy has been met with gloating. Fine, but know this: if she does not rise from these ashes, Detroit will become an ominous milestone of American decline, from which no quarter will be spared.

    The notion that Detroit’s fall will necessarily trigger a wave of big-city bankruptcies in this country was debunked here by Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (Professor Krugman had a word or two to say about that here). Yes, there is much to do when it comes to investing in this country (jobs, infrastructure, etc.), but while the checklist is pretty long, that doesn’t mean that we have cause for a panic.

    Turning to someone like McCotter on these matters is a stretch anyway, though; I realize that, being a Michigan resident, he’s a candidate for a column like this, but he’s no stranger to wingnut demagoguery – as noted here, he once provided a lesson in “how to speak Democrat,” let’s not forget (charming).

    Duncan_Donuts2
    And by the way, speaking of The Daily Tucker (where McCotter’s piece originated), it looks like, based on the above pic, it is still in need of a copy editor.

  • Finally, it’s time to turn to matters in PA-08, where we in these parts are of course represented by Repug “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick; this recent Guest Opinion from his PR factory tells us the following…

    As our nation’s economy begins to recover, it is imperative that the United States bring manufacturing jobs back to America. This goal has been at the top of my agenda, And so I was pleased to read the series published in the Courier Times and Intelligencer: “Made in the USA.”

    The series highlighted local, small businesses and the importance of domestic manufacturing and its impact on manufacturers’ bottom line, their employees, customers, and communities.

    And from that point, Mikey launches into an entire self-congratulatory narrative about his supposedly tireless focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs,” including this…

    According to my revitalization plan, “Made in America,” stands for quality, value, and ingenuity — all important to industry, and ones clearly conveyed through the newspaper’s “Made in the USA” series. Without a doubt, the role of government is important. To bring manufacturing back to America, we must promote a variety of federal and national initiatives: lowering taxes and promoting certainty to encourage businesses to remain in the United States, reining in overreaching ineffective and onerous federal regulation to help businesses grow, engaging in “Buy American” and other pro-growth initiatives, and encouraging workforce development.

    Umm, I don’t really see bringing down unemployment anywhere in that list (which is, of course, nothing but RNC boilerplate anyway). Do you?

    And get a load of this…

    In Congress I’ve supported countless bills that empower small businesses and manufacturers, some of which resulted from my meetings with business owners, manufacturers and workers in Bucks and Montgomery counties.

    And I’m sure some of those supposedly countless bills to invigorate the economy were noted here.

    Here are a couple of questions; if Fitzpatrick supposedly cares so much about the economy, then why didn’t he encourage his Repug “leadership” of “Man Tan” Boehner and that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor to schedule votes on two bills that could make a difference – the Workforce Investment Act sponsored by Dem John Tierney of Massachusetts (here) and the Innovative Technologies Assessment Act sponsored by Chris Van Hollen of Maryland (here)? Or, better yet, why didn’t he sign on as a co-sponsor to one or both of the bills (Dem senior House Rep Steny Hoyer also had some good ideas – some of which dovetail with Mikey’s a bit – here…of course, Hoyer had his at least three months prior to Mikey’s).

    More typical for the party in charge of the House, though, are stories like this one, where congressional Dems walked out on an Education and Workforce Committee hearing run by chairman John Kline of Minnesota; Kline was trying to consolidate 35 job-training bills apparently without much Dem input and designating them for funding to the states as block grants (and indiscriminately cutting funding for the bills in the process). To me, this is asking for trouble (Kline’s actions, I mean).

    Indeed, when actual economists (as opposed to Beltway talking heads) are asked about the impact of the Repugs’ supposed “jobs, jobs, jobs” agenda, we find out that it won’t, in fact, create actual, like, y’know…jobs, as noted here (and more on Mikey when it comes to this subject can be read from here).

    Something tells me, however, that Mikey and his PR factory at the Courier Times are getting a little skittish about next year’s election. I’m not sure what else could explain the paper’s “hit piece” of an Op-Ed that it printed yesterday on Kevin Strouse, who could be considered the front-runner at this point in the Democratic primary for the right to face Mikey in the general election (the supposedly august Courier Times Op-Ed board said that they don’t have confidence in Strouse, even though they apparently have spent no time whatsoever yet actually talking to him).

    The editorial did follow the standard anti-Dem formula, though…

    Reference to Nancy Pelosi? Check.
    Sneaky inference that that’s where he gets all of his campaign dough? Check.
    Note that he’s not a “longtime resident” of Bucks County? Check.
    Statement that he’s a product of “pure party politics” (as if Fitzpatrick isn’t)? Check.

    This is all the more reason to support Strouse, as far as I’m concerned (or Shaughnessy Naughton – either Dem would be better than two more years of Mikey the Beloved).

    To help Kevin Strouse, click here.


  • Tuesday Mashup (4/23/13)

    April 23, 2013

  • I’m a little late I know with this item noting that Earth Day was yesterday (here), and with that in mind, here is a Media Matters post about related stories that are basically going untold by our corporate media (yes, I know they’re from last year, but I haven’t detected that things have changed much).

    Also, on the subject of the environment, Think Progress brings us a pretty exhaustive list of the members of Congress belonging to the “climate zombie caucus” (many of whom continue to take up space on Capitol Hill), and this tells us that, according to the wingnuts, Earth Day is nothing but a communist plot anyway (never mind that that it became law under Republican President Richard Nixon). Also, this tells us about the sordid doings of “Doc” Hastings, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources.

    Want to know why all of this matters? Well, for starters (as a Roman Catholic), I give you this.

  • Also, leave it to the Murdoch Street Journal to regurgitate any and all wingnut talking points, particularly on health care reform as noted here (and by the way, if the Democrats ever run a House committee again and link from that committee’s site to, say, an MSNBC story, I’m sure the wingnut harrumphing will be heard from the mountaintops)…

    Congressional Republicans have mapped out another way to obstruct ObamaCare, thanks to the incompetence of its architects. It’s a shame certain absolutists on the right are mounting another self-defeating rebellion in the name of the impossible.

    The insurrection comes as the Health and Human Services Department has already burned through all the dollars appropriated by the Affordable Care Act for implementation. HHS is now demanding an extra $5.9 billion to set up the law’s insurance exchanges—$2 billion more than it estimated it would take last year—but both Senate Democrats and the House denied the request last month.

    HHS responded by announcing that it would simply steal however many dollars it needs from a separate ObamaCare slush fund. Supposedly devoted to “prevention,” this cash has been funneled to everything from bike-path signs to patronage for liberal pressure groups lobbying for fast-food taxes. Now HHS is reaching into this till for at least $454 million this year, with no accountability.

    Yep, ridiculous is as ridiculous does – as noted here

    …the Affordable Care Act set aside $15 billion over 10 years to support prevention and preventive services through the Prevention and Public Health Fund—the largest commitment ever made by the U.S. government to prevent illness and injury before it occurs and keep people healthy in the first place.

    Attacks on the prevention fund began almost as soon as it was passed. Some Republicans called it a “slush fund,” tried to kill it entirely and then to reduce its funding. Early this year, the fund was slashed to maintain unemployment benefits and avoid cutting pay to doctors in the Medicare program (the so-called “doc fix”).

    Despite the hostility, in 2011, the CDC awarded nearly $300 million in Community Transformation Grants to states, cities and tribes across the country to create safe, walkable streets, promote healthy food environments, support worksite wellness, help children get after-school exercise and reduce people’s exposure to tobacco. One grant went to Oklahoma City, where Republican Mayor Mick Cornett has used the money to boost his efforts to make the city a healthier place.

    Besides, as noted here, the Affordable Care Act incorporates the prevention recommendations from at least two separate pieces of legislation, one from former U.S. House Rep Mike Castle and one from U.S. Senator Mark Kirk.

    And by the way, they’re both Republicans.

  • Continuing, this tells us the following (Update here)…

    Travelers could be in for longer waits at the airport this week, after the Federal Aviation Administration imposed furloughs on air traffic controllers despite claims by some lawmakers that the agency could have complied with the sequester in other ways.

    The FAA went ahead with the furloughs on Sunday, citing the automatic budget cuts that went into effect last month. Some delays appeared in the late evening in and around New York, and according to the FAA were spreading on Monday.

    Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said last week that the FAA “has made zero effort” to avoid the furloughs.

    “The FAA’s decision is a dangerous political stunt that could jeopardize the safety and security of air travelers,” he said in a statement.

    The FAA has estimated there could be flight delays of about 90 minutes during peak periods.

    And if there’s someone who knows all about a “dangerous political stunt,” it’s Tom Coburn.

    You see, Coburn has been obstructing on FAA funding for at least a year and a half, as noted here, to the point where former U.S. Repug Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison called him out, though not by name (Harry Reid came a little closer to that here).

    And by the way, I’m tired of listening to Coburn whine about how dysfunctional Washington is. If he doesn’t like it there so much, then why doesn’t he just get the hell out? It’s not like he doesn’t have other options, right?

  • gwb_13-george-w-bush

  • Further, just when you thought he was gone for good (here)…

    Former President George W. Bush said he feels “no need to defend himself” over the high-profile decisions that marked his two terms in office, saying he will leave those judgments to history.

    “There’s no need to defend myself,” Bush said in an interview with USA Today. “I did what I did and ultimately history will judge.”

    Bush, along with President Obama and former Presidents Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Carter, will be on hand to open the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas on Thursday.

    Here’s a news flash for Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History; half of those polled here from last November still blame him more than Number 44 for the still-perpetually-wretched economy. And this tells us that his approval rating has “skyrocketed” to 35 percent (only the previously mentioned Richard Milhous Nixon, who was faced with impeachment over Watergate that likely would have resulted in a conviction, is more unpopular, as noted here).

    In a really twisted way I’ll admit, Dubya is actually the proverbial “gift that keeps on giving.” By continuing to remind us that he still enjoys the company of mostly decent people everywhere, he is a walking, talking, breathing example of Repug executive “governance” at its very worst, and a perpetual reminder of why his party should never be allowed to wield that degree of power ever again.

    Update 4/25/13: Amen.

  • Finally, I should note that I’m really pissed off about this story, but not for the reason you may think.

    If the kid wearing the T-shirt in question (14-year-old Jared Marcum) didn’t violate any school dress code, then he should have been left alone. Yes, many NRA members continue to gin up their outrage over their crass misinterpretation of the Second Amendment (which, thanks to Hangin’ Judge JR and the Supremes, now has the force of law courtesy of the Heller decision), but this is all we need…another wingnut pity party over being supposedly persecuted and harassed by those oh-so-dastardly liberals trying to take away our freedom!

    I also know that teachers are allowed to make subjective judgments in these situations, and that should be respected too. However, now as a result of this, I’m sure we’ll also have some deep-pocketed pro-gun outfit filing a lawsuit to ensure that anyone on any grounds of any West Virginia school is allowed to carry a concealed weapon (besides, how about a calm, rational discussion with Marcum instead?).

    You want all this nonsense to end, people? Elect Democrats and bug them to pass common sense gun laws. That way, maybe teachers will be less inclined to overreact.

    And by the way, the story tells us that Logan County students wore NRA t-shirts today in solidarity with Marcum.

    thousands-march-against-gun-violence-washington-photos_2
    Heckuva job!


  • Thursday Mashup (4/11/13) (updates)

    April 11, 2013

  • I don’t really have much to say here, but credit where it’s due to PA-31 U.S. House Rep Steve Santarsiero for introducing legislation mandating universal background checks for gun purchases in our beloved commonwealth, specifically long guns purchased at private sales (the Inquirer story more or less leads us to believe that those were the only guns that were previously exempt; also, sales between family members without a background check would apparently still be allowed – not completely happy with that, but for the time being, I’ll settle for three-quarters of the proverbial loaf…kudos to Steve – to find out more, including a petition to regulate drilling in the Marcellus Shale, click here).

    Also, I should note that Pat Toomey embodies just about everything I can’t stand in politics, and it remains an utter abomination that he defeated Joe Sestak in the campaign for Arlen Specter’s old seat in 2010. However, I would be remiss not to note his rather shocking cooperation with Dem Senator Joe Manchin on universal background checks (here) – I never thought I’d find myself giving Toomey credit for anything, but he deserves it here (though, of course, being a political animal, he knows the polling numbers on this issue, noted here and here, as well as anybody).

    I will be curious to see how “No Corporate Tax” Pat ends up re-burnishing his wingnut bona fides to work himself back into the good graces of the “American Illiterati,” as John Fugelsang so hilariously puts it, as a result of his good conduct on this issue.

    Update 1 4/16/13: So “We snookered the other side. They haven’t figured it out yet,” according to this insect named Alan Gottleib, huh (here)? Why am I not surprised?

    So Toomey-Manchin makes it a federal crime to set up a national gun registry? Because the wingnuts continue to live under this delusion that Obama is coming for their guns?

    Then ‘can the whole damn thing and try doing it right next time.

    Update 2 4/16/13: Where Crazy Tom Coburn goes, trouble surely follows (here) – just sh*tcan the whole damn thing and start over…better to have no deal than a rotten one.

  • And sticking with the subject of guns for a moment, Rich Lowry inflicts the following here (and why exactly is “America’s Fish Wrap” giving this clown a megaphone…oh, right – it’s more corporate media “balance”)…

    It is true that 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks. Who can be against background checks? Heck, even the NRA wants states to keep more complete records of who is forbidden from purchasing guns.

    Notice the meely-mouthed wording from Lowry here? He could just say “Heck, even the NRA supports universal background checks.”

    Of course, he doesn’t say that because he knows he would be utterly wrong (and as pointed out here, Lowry would still be wrong on the supposed issue of the NRA wanting to keep more complete records of who isn’t allowed to own a gun – how can states possibly do that when the NRA works as hard as they do to erode the gun laws we already have? And the linked story tells us once more that 90 percent of those polled, as well as 85 percent of NRA members, want universal background checks…and that includes Colorado, where James Holmes shot up his victims at the Aurora movie theater playing “The Dark Knight Rises,” as noted here).

    And oh yeah, did you know that the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre supported universal background checks in 1999, as noted here?

    Another thing…Lowry complains that President Obama supposedly “used children as props” in an effort to enact sane guns laws in this country.

    nra-ad1-228x300
    Yeah, don’t you hate that?

  • Next, Alex Nowrasteh propagandized as follows as The Daily Tucker recently (here)…

    H-1Bs are a bellwether for the economy. As growth picks up, so do filings for H-1B applications. As unemployment skyrockets, filings for H-1B applications plummet. The high demand for these visas this year is a good omen for the economy, and hopefully for immigration reform efforts as well. Highly skilled immigrants are generally considered the “sugar” in any immigration reform efforts — they are used to “sweeten” the other controversial elements like legalization.

    After all, highly skilled immigrants tend to speak English, and there’s little fear of them abusing welfare or committing crimes. Their children typically excel at school , are economically successful, and are more culturally integrated than their parents.

    Don’t you just love Nowrasteh’s disgusting inference that non H-1B workers are more likely to be “abusing welfare” and “committing crimes”?

    Meanwhile, this Boston Globe story tells us the following…

    ON JAN. 14, 2010, senior executives at Molina Healthcare in Long Beach, Calif., called their staff together for a somber meeting. The company had done poorly the previous quarter, they announced. Dozens of people in the IT department would have to be let go.

    What the fired employees didn’t know was that the previous day, the US Department of Labor had approved applications for 40 temporary workers from India to be placed at Molina, through a company called Cognizant.

    The fired employees — all US citizens or green card holders — were earning an average of $75,000 a year, plus benefits; the new workers, brought on H-1B visas, earned $50,000, with no benefits, according to a lawsuit filed by the ex-employees. The lawsuit alleges that Molina was flush with cash at the time, and that the real reason employees were fired was their nationality.

    The business model is to replace Americans,” said James Otto, their attorney.

    Not just at Molina, he said. “It’s happening across the country.”

    I’m not even sure why this is considered to be news any more by now, but if nothing else, it needs to be pointed out in response to the disgusting pabulum of Nowrasteh and others.

    And in a similar vein, I give you this

    Brookings interviewed numerous corporations for that study. The report stirred up a storm with such statements as “employers have a difficult time recruiting residents with the skills they need, largely blaming the weak foundation of secondary education in the United States…employers complain that there is a shortage of skilled workers…[some employers] mentioned that they must recruit at over 50 college campuses in the United States to find 100 [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] employees.”

    #Gene Nelson of San Luis Obispo, a PhD in radiation biophysics and an opponent of H-1B, calls the Brookings study “pathetic baloney.” He and fellow anti-H-1B activists make a good case that the program is basically a scheme to lower the overall wage level in the engineering/computer profession, thus jacking up corporate profits and paving the way for absurdly high top-management pay.

    And as noted in the video from here, an entire cottage industry has evolved of firms instructing potential employers how to run ads in order not to hire American workers and go the H-1B route instead (“gosh, well…you see, we just didn’t have a choice…all those baad American workers were busy collecting welfare and committing crimes…”).

    It would be nice to see one of these corporate bastards convicted of some type of malfeasance over this stuff, then get put out of business with each member of the management team sentenced to 20 years of hard labor on a rock pile.

    And let’s see now, Alex Nowrasteh, Alex Nowrasteh…why does that name sound familiar?

    Oh yeah, I remember now! He’s the son of Cyrus Nowrasteh, the propagandizing tool behind that “Path to 9/11” monstrosity that was posted about here and here (the wingnut apple doesn’t rot far from the tree, now does it?).

    (The late, great blog Outsourced America used to be all over this stuff – sigh.)

  • Continuing, it looks like we’ll have to deal with another crappy example of Repug non-governance (here)…

    This week House Republicans will introduce the misleadingly titled “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013.” Touted by Republicans as a new comp time initiative that will give hourly-paid workers the flexibility to meet family responsibilities, it is neither new nor about giving these workers much needed time off to care for their families. The bill rehashes legislation Republicans passed in the House in 1997, some 16 years ago, and that they introduced again in most subsequent Congresses. Its major effect would be to hamstring workers – likely increasing overtime hours for those who don’t want them and cutting pay for those who do.

    Oh, but don’t you see? The Repugs are all about “choice.” As in, so-called “exempt” workers (who can’t collect overtime) have a choice now to work the hours denied to “non-exempt” employees who could collect the overtime before, but now cannot, since the exempt employees will do the work for them and the employers will pocket the difference in the way of bonuses for themselves. Witness our glorious free market enterprise system at work!

    And what if the “non-exempt” employee wants the money instead of the hours, and/or the “exempt” employee chooses not to do more work for free?

    unemployment-line_000
    Does this picture mean anything to any of us? Sure it does (especially after reading Alex Nowrasteh extolling the supposed virtues of H-1B workers, right?).

    And by the way, I want to emphasize that I’m not criticizing the author of this Hill column, who is Eileen Appelbaum, Senior Economist, Center for Economic and Policy Research (kudos to her for this, actually).

    So who is responsible for this latest legislative fraud? Why, that would be U.S. House Repug Martha Roby of Alabama (with the “blessing” of that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor, of course), as noted here.

    And as also noted here, it looks like Roby is a tool (“tool-ette”?) of the banksters, and yes, she supported Paul Ryan’s budget big time (here), and here is more of that “get big gumint out of the private sector, because Freedom!” stuff from Roby and the rest of her ilk.

    This latest bit of smoke and mirrors from the ruling clown show in the U.S. House will do nothing to address some of the iniquities faced by workers in this country as noted here (yes, I know the Forbes story is from November 2009, but based on my Google searching on this stuff, I haven’t found any improvements, sad to say).

    Update 5/8/13: And it looks like Roby is at it again (here).

  • Further, Jake Tapper decided to placate the other side over the latest bit of faux indignation (here)…

    On his CNN program Monday afternoon, Jake Tapper took a moment to look at the “buried lead” that is Fox News reporter Jana Winter facing jail time for refusing to out her confidential sources in a Colorado case. “Where is the public outrage?” Tapper asked his audience.

    In July 2012, during a “huge scoop,” Winter cited anonymous law enforcement sources when reporting that Aurora, Colo., theater shooter James Holmes had once given his psychiatrist a notebook detailing his plans for a killing spree. Tapper wrote on his CNN blog that her reporting on the story revealed how “the system failed” the victims, and that her scoop allowed the “public to judge how well the judicial, and mental health, and other systems are working.”

    “Instead of a focus on how the system failed, we’re talking about whether Winter should go to jail for reporting on Holmes’s journal, which was found in a mail room after the attack,” Tapper lamented.

    And so, Tapper wanted to know, “where’s the public outrage?

    Please…

    To begin, this stuff has been going on for years (as noted here), wrong as it is I’ll admit, but I didn’t hear anyone from Fix Noise or their fellow travelers complaining out loud when it involved the New York Times, the Washington Post, the AP, et cetera, et cetera.

    However, as noted here (with the headline asking a very good question), “By acquiring the notebook, however, it was clear that Winter had been in contact with an individual who violated the gag order imposed on anyone with information about the ongoing Holmes trial.”

    Here is my question – where is Winter’s editor in this fiasco? Does she even have one?

    It should also be noted that, on the subject of reporters and leaking or withholding information, Tapper has no grounds to criticize anybody. As noted here and here, he misrepresented the position of our prior ruling cabal on the issue of firing anyone who had anything to do with leaking the identity of Valerie Plame; Tapper said that Bushco would only fire someone who had broken the law – Plame’s husband, diplomat Joe Wilson, pointed out that the administration’s former PR flak Scott McClellan said they would fire anyone involved in the leak whether they’d broken the law or not (and as you’ll recall, Karl Rove, just about named by Time reporter Matthew Cooper, was allowed to leave on his own terms).

    I’ll admit that there’s room to question both the behavior of Winter and the judge here. However, you can’t go against a court ruling on revealing information that could be prejudicial to a trial (and by the way, you’d better believe that Holmes’s lawyers are concocting some way to try and get a potential guilty verdict overturned on grounds of a mistrial over this). And please spare me the wailing and gnashing of teeth…”oh, that baad mainstream media won’t cover this First Amendment catastrophe because it involves Fox.”

  • Finally, it’s time to turn to South Carolina U.S. Senator Huckleberry Graham (here).

    As we know, President Obama submitted his budget to Congress, which included the horrendous formula known as “Chained C.P.I.” as part of calculating Social Security benefits (opposed by 2.3 million people, as noted here).

    Of course, being a Repug, Graham just loves anything that sticks it to the “99 percent.” So how did he communicate what he thought of the budget?

    “The president is showing a bit of leg here,” Graham said.

    Now, if you’re of a certain age (and I am, which I’m a bit loathe to admit at times), one of the first images that comes into your mind when you hear that expression is that of actress Claudette Colbert in the movie “It Happened One Night” raising the hem of her dress to reveal a bit of leg, as it were, while trying to hitch hike, in an effort to get a car to slow down and look at her and offer a ride (the joke that works rather well in the movie is that her co-star Clark Gable first tried the more traditional means of sticking out his thumb, which obviously failed).

    I don’t suppose that Graham knows this, though his handlers obviously do, including the Repug Party marketers and image makers who are compensated handsomely for trying to pull the proverbial wool over our eyes on a 24/7/365 basis.

    My point (finally) is that, as opposed to saying, “We agree with some of what the president is proposing, but we want a closer look before we commit to anything” or similar language, Graham attempts to almost feminize Obama here, and thus, further trying to disrespect and delegitimize him (can you imagine the outcry if, say, Al Franken had said that about Dubya?).

    After all, you can’t truly be a Repug unless you’re shamelessly demagoguing your enemies and accusing them of the same tactics you’re practicing yourself, can you?

    Of course, Graham really doesn’t have any room to raise gender-bending talking points about anyone when you consider this…does he?


  • Friday Mashup (4/5/13)

    April 5, 2013

    Carson_Turbo

  • This tells us that the crybabies were out in force recently (for anyone unfamiliar with the admittedly dated boomer reference in the pic, rest assured that it’s appropriate)…

    The Bucks County commissioners should officially vote to assure all residents of its unwavering support of legal gun ownership in America.

    That was the request put forward Wednesday by gun-rights advocates stirred up by a recent inquiry led by Commissioner Diane Marseglia.

    During a retirement board meeting in March, Marseglia asked for and received support for a review of pension plan investments in companies that manufacture, distribute or sell guns.

    No further action was taken by the board, though the move has sparked outrage from some gun owners.

    Andrew Rumbold of Perkasie said Marseglia’s inquiry was only further evidence that “our constitutions, both federal and state, are coming under attack.”

    Oh yes, how dare that baaad Dem Bucks Commissioner Diane Marseglia try to get the county out of the business of helping to subsidize the wholesale death and carnage industry.

    And the outcry from the methane dispensers in attendance yielded the following reaction from Mr. “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” and his accomplice…

    The commissioners quickly responded. During the meeting, Charley Martin put on his National Rifle Association ball cap. Rob Loughery spoke briefly about his 12-gauge shotgun.

    And as they did so, the process of human evolution no doubt came to a standstill for an unspecified period (somewhere, Barney Fife is smiling as he forgets to load the bullet into his gun).

    Rumbold
    And speaking of Andrew Rumbold (pictured above), it should come as absolutely no surprise that he once ran for the PA Republican committee along with Simon Campbell and Jennifer Stefano (if it sounds like the Teahadists and reeks like the Teahadists…) but was apparently sued for his efforts by the three “endorsed” Repug committee candidates, George F. Komelasky, Joseph Cullen and “Skip” Goodnoe (here).

    Nothing like a wingnut circular firing squad, is there?


    And in other Bucks County political news, it looks like Mikey the Beloved has his first Dem challenger for 2014, and that would be Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Kevin Strouse, as noted here (more info is here).

  • Next, this tells us the following (speaking of weaponry)…

    “The U.S. has a system for controlling arms exports that, though too complex, is basically reasonable.”

    According to HuffPo here, the “basically reasonable” U.S. exported about $66 billion in arms in 2011, while Russia, our nearest competition in that area, sold $4.8 billion.

    This is tied into the following story as noted by Think Progress of an Arms Trade Treaty that was recently passed by the U.N., which, by all appearances, seems to have been necessitated by our cornering of that market all over the world (“We’re Number One! We’re Number One! U-S-A! U-S-A!”).

  • And keeping with the theme of world stuff, Claudia Rosett of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies recently opined as follows in the Murdoch Street Journal (here, about how Iran is trying to win favor throughout the U.N. – I’m sure there’s at least a kernel of truth here, but as far as I’m concerned, Israel should manage its own problems and leave us out of it)…

    Unlike in the case of Iraq—where the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein exposed troves of financial records that helped explain how Baghdad persuaded the U.N. to ignore its own sanctions against Iraq—there is no access right now to Iran’s internal records. Perhaps with time, more will become clear.

    In the matter of U.S. sanctions against Iraq, this from John Pilger of antiwar.com tells us the following…

    In 1999, I traveled to Iraq with Denis Halliday, who had resigned as assistant secretary-general of the United Nations rather than enforce a punitive UN embargo on Iraq. Devised and policed by the United States and Britain, the extreme suffering caused by these “sanctions” included, according to Unicef, the deaths of half a million Iraqi children under the age of five.

    Ten years later, in New York, I met the senior British official responsible for the imposition of sanctions. He is Carne Ross, once known in the UN as “Mr.Iraq.” I read to him a statement he made to a parliamentary select committee in 2007: “The weight of evidence clearly indicates that sanctions caused massive human suffering among ordinary Iraqis, particularly children. We, the US and UK governments, were the primary engineers and offenders of sanctions and were well aware of this evidence at the time but we largely ignored it or blamed it on the Saddam government. [We] effectively denied the entire population a means to live.”

    I said, “That’s a shocking admission.”

    “Yes, I agree,” he replied. “I feel very ashamed about it.”

    So should we all (And nothing like creating a whole new generation of terrorists that we can arbitrarily decide to kill with our flying death robots, is there?).

  • Further (and returning to this country), this tells us of the consequences of PA’s illustrious governor Tom (“Space Cadet”) Corbett’s refusal to accept additional billions of dollars in Medicaid funds for our beloved commonwealth (though this does tie into the theme of victimizing those who can afford it the least…not much else to add here except maybe this).
  • Continuing, it looks like Dennis Miller has some competition in the “wingnut alleged comedian” category based on this

    Comedian Evan Sayet says he transformed from a self-described “brain-dead liberal” to a “9/13 Republican” because of his liberal friends’ failure to recognize the evil that motivated the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks on America.

    “What surprised me, what rocked my world, is what I metaphorically call 9/12. That’s the days, the weeks, the months and now the years after 9/11 and my liberal friends’ response to it,” Sayet told The Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas.

    “Here’s the most obvious case of good versus evil of my lifetime — perhaps the only case of good versus evil that hit anywhere close to home — and not only were the liberals on the side of the terrorists, but they were engaging in the most horrible slanders against the victims.”

    Oh, and for good measure, “Political analyst Michael Barone says Sayet has ‘crossed the line from funny to important’” according to The Daily Tucker.

    Yep, I would say that Sayet has crossed a line all right, but not in the way that he imagines (of course, he offers no proof whatsoever to back up his utterly scurrilous charges, and I for one have no desire to do the research on this that he should have done himself).

    Also, this tells us that Sayet was to have been featured on the right-wing comedy network sponsored by Ed Snider, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers (as far as I’m concerned, the concept itself writes its own punch line…and yes, kudos to the team for playing better recently, but I can’t get excited about a possible first-round win and likely second-round loss in the playoffs, assuming they even make it).

    We also learn from the Daily Caller post that Sayet is (or, at least, was) a fan of that dastardly liberal Bruce Springsteen, particularly in reference to songs by “The Boss” about cars.

    This brings to mind the following lyric: “The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive” (I’ll admit, however, that it’s a stretch to consider Sayet to be a “hero” about anything).

  • Staying with Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page, this tells us the following…

    Convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal has received three nominations on a web page for the “Unsung Hero” project from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

    The project, launched during Black History Month, allows users to highlight influential civil rights leaders in exchange for an email address and postal code.

    The NAACP displays about 100 nominations, including the pro-Mumia nominations, on the website for its 2013 “Unsung Heroes” project, which asks the public for nominations, under the title, “Your Heroes.” Abu-Jamal, a former member of the Black Panther Party, was convicted for the December 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, stemming from a shootout that resulted after Abu-Jamal approached Faulkner, who had pulled over Abu-Jamal’s younger brother at a traffic stop.

    Of course, let’s forget shall we that the NAACP page has nominations of many other meritorious individuals as well as that of the convicted killer of Officer Faulkner (this reminds me of the urban legend of MoveOn.org supposedly awarding first prize to a commercial about an attempt to assassinate George W. Bush, or something). The post from The Daily Tucker also tells us that, as a test, this Patrick Howley person submitted a couple of bogus nominations but they were filtered, while the Mumia Abu-Jamal nominations weren’t.

    I just have a couple of points in response:

    1) Is Howley prepared to state, once and for all and on the record, that neither he nor anyone else at The Daily Tucker had anything to do with the three M A-J nominations?
    2) Does this Howley person realize that he has done far more to publicize the cause for M A-J than any other left-wing site that I have yet seen? The post tells us about a “Free Mumia” rally in Philadelphia on April 24th and a new documentary about Jamal that has just been released.

    The best thing to do about Mumia Abu-Jamal is ignore him and let him rot, especially since the question about capital punishment is no longer in play.

  • Obama-laughing

  • Finally, I have to tell you that I’m currently boiling mad at this guy, for the reasons noted here.

    It’s not enough that, as noted here, his administration didn’t bother to investigate fraudulent lending practices as he said he would. Now, he’s putting proposals to cut Medicare and Social Security on the table in an effort to make Republicans (and by extension, the Beltway media-political complex) like him at long last (of course, Social Security doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the deficit or the debt, but this is where we are).

    Congressional Republicans are truly lucky. They have at their disposal, between Obama in the White House and Harry Reid in the Senate, the most utterly feckless Democratic “opposition” on the federal level that I have ever seen.

    Mr. President, you’re a smart man. Try to get this through your head. Follow through on these boneheaded ideas (which Congress probably won’t do anyway, since they apparently know the electoral calculus better than you do) and, at the very least, you will give over all branches of the federal government to the Republicans by 2016 by utterly and completely demoralizing your base to the point where they won’t turn out to the polls in the numbers that will be needed. And this country can’t survive another turn like that.

    Try representing the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party for a change.

    Update 1: And once more, the Obama Administration gives me grist to justify my griping (here).

    And by the way, I want to emphasize something. It’s not just the fact that the supposed effort to investigate mortgage fraud was an utter sham. It’s not just the cave-in on what has been referred to as “chained CPI.” And it’s not just the administration’s opposition to contraception for women under 17.

    It’s part of the whole bloody, stinking pattern of this administration to often (and usually on crucial issues) run against the needs and wishes of its base (and as I’ve said in the past, as much as I detested Dubya and our prior ruling cabal in the White House, they had a laser focus on the people who got them where they were and they acted accordingly, at least as long as Turd Blossom took up residence there also).

    No, I don’t expect the Obama Administration to do everything I want. I couldn’t possibly expect that out of anyone in good conscience. But I DON’T expect them, nor should anyone expect them, to cater so slavishly to an opposition constituency that HAS ONLY HATED THEM IN THE PAST and WILL DO NOTHING BUT HATE THEM NOW AND FOR ALL TIME, and in the process, tie the proverbial millstone around the neck of the Democratic Party that it will have to carry through election cycles in the immediate and forseeable future.

    Update 2: And oh yeah, remember the economy (here)?

    Update 4/10/13: So let me guess…2.3 million people are wrong and you’re right (here)?


  • Friday Mashup (2/1/13)

    February 1, 2013
  • It’s been a little while since I checked in with former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm of Investor’s Business Daily, but, kind of like the dull toothache you experience when you bite down a little too hard on a freezer pop, he has returned, Obama-baiting rhetoric and “Democrat” Party references in tow (here, and as is almost always the case accompanied by polling numbers that don’t come close to telling the whole story)…

    Predictably perhaps, the nation’s economy, which President Obama has vowed to repair even more often than he golfs, earns the least satisfaction from Americans, according to the new Gallup survey. Only one-in-five Americans (20%), presumably among those still employed, are somewhat or very satisfied with the economy. That’s down 27 points since the same 2005 Gallup survey.

    Inquiring minds giving Malcolm more attention than he deserves would be wondering I’m sure why the Dubya loyalist would go back to 2005. Why, that was at the peak of our last economic bubble under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating in Gallup Poll History, of course (you know, so Malcolm could skew the numbers as much as he could).

    And let me note also that, while only 20 percent of this country is satisfied with the economy, Gallup also tells us here that 14 percent approve of our wretched U.S. Congress.

    So with an economic approval of only 20 percent, Obama’s actual approval number would be about that or near Congressional approval if Malcolm were correct to blame Number 44 exclusively, right?

    Uh, no (48 percent, to be exact).

  • Next, Repug U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch tells us here that upgrading our system of background checks in this country prior to approving to gun purchases would lead to a “reduction in liberty,” or something.

    Really?

    To get an idea of why Hatch said that, you need only read this; basically, like all Repugs in Congress, Hatch is worried about saying or doing anything whatsoever that could bite him in the ass from the Limbaugh-Hannity-Drudge faction that was once the fringe, but pretty much calls the shots now in his party (Hatch easily won re-election last year, but the fundraising pretty much never stops any more in the absence of public-money-only campaign financing).

    Hatch also doesn’t want to do anything whatsoever to shut off that flow of dough from the NRA, which has graced him with about $136 grand to date, as noted here.

  • Continuing, I give you the latest from Stu Bykofsky at philly.com on immigration (here)…

    If we fail to get enforcement – not just at the border, but in the workplace – we will “invite” millions more “guests” to arrive illegally, and we will repeat the same drama again.

    That’s a recipe for disaster.

    In response, this tells us that, after about 30-40 years of steadily increasing immigration to this country from Mexico (legal and otherwise), the pace has slowed down. Also, this tells us that PA Repug U.S. House Rep Lou Barletta (who I discussed here) said recently that there basically was no point to pursuing immigration reform for unskilled workers since, well, they’ll just become Democrats anyway (nice guy).

    Think Progress has the nonsense from Barletta and a lot more important stuff on this issue from here (and on the question of Obama and enforcement, the following should be noted from here).

    Update 2/3/13: More “epic fail” from Barletta is here – voters in his district who supported this clown must be so proud (I’m sure Barletta needs special protection from an would-be assailant brandishing a spoon).

  • And speaking of policies from the Obama Administration, I give you this

    Smith & Nephew eliminated nearly 100 jobs in Memphis and Andover, Mass., on Thursday, Jan. 31, as the medical device company cuts expenses in an effort to offset tax hikes included in the Affordable Care Act.

    The Affordable Care Act includes a 2.3 percent medical device tax, which took effect Jan. 1.

    The London-based company, which employs about 1,800 people in Memphis, said the new tax will cost the industry about $30 billion over 10 years.

    “(The tax) has impacted a number of companies across the U.S.,” said Joe Metzger, senior vice president of corporate communications. “Smith & Nephew is not immune from this added expense burden.”

    Smith & Nephew announced in February 2012 that it would reduce its global workforce by 7 percent over the next three years. Several other companies announced similar plans, including Stryker and Medtronic.

    I’m sorry about the Smith & Nephew workers in this country who are now out of a job, of course. However, the company still was able to pursue a deal worth about $782 million in cash last year to acquire Healthpoint Biotherapeutics, a “big name” among bio-pharma companies (here). Didn’t they anticipate what they thought would be the “rainy day” of more medical device taxes to protect their workers?

    And I wonder if a $22 million settlement in a bribery case had anything to do with their sudden financial hardship (here and here)?

  • Finally, with the return of a new Congressional session last month, that marked a return of the old Repug U.S. House wingnut extraordinaire Steve King of Iowa (here, among other idiocies)…

    Mr. Obama’s executive elimination of all work requirements of “welfare to work” violated the 1996 welfare reform work legislation, which was signed by President Clinton. Mr. Obama violated the Constitution by waiving provisions that the law specifically stated could not be waived by the president.

    It should be noted that Politifact had something to say about that urban legend of sorts here when it was uttered by Former Senator Man-On-Dog during the Repug presidential primary last year (just add this to the ever-growing catalog of King wingnuttia, much of which is chronicled here).


  • Thursday Mashup (1/24/13)

    January 24, 2013

  • The Bucks County Courier Times decided to give column space to Mikey the Beloved recently; I’m sure you can guess what happened next (here).

    He leads off as follows…

    Each morning, like so many parents across Bucks and Montgomery counties, when I drive my children to school and drop them off, I expect them to spend their day in a safe environment where their biggest concern is a test they have that day.

    OK, we have a problem right away…

    As a member of the U.S. Congress, Mikey spends most of his time during business hours in Washington, D.C. Does he honestly expect us to believe that he is also dropping off his kids each morning also? What, does he have some kind of private air transportation that takes him from Bucks County to the Capitol each morning too?

    Mikey then fills us this column almost entirely with platitudes and self-referential nonsense, as well as stuff he could have easily lifted from other news accounts, before he gets to the following…

    I am focused on effective responses. I am currently working on legislation to strengthen the national background check system and close the loopholes to ensure that dangerous people will not be able to purchase any firearm in any state.

    In addition to the legislation I am currently working to introduce, I have expressed my willingness to examine the president’s proposals and work with him on achieving common-sense reforms that will truly make our communities safer.

    As usual, Mikey is desperately short on specifics, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, for now.

    However, he also tells us the following…

    The president’s solution is to ban every citizen from being able to purchase some guns. I believe a more effective approach will be to ban some citizens from being able to purchase any guns. A study by our own University of Pennsylvania commissioned by the United States Department of Justice, the same type of study President Obama has vowed to fund, has concluded that the firearm controls of the 1990s were not effective.

    I can’t find the study Fitzpatrick is referring to – I’m not alleging that he’s lying, I’m just saying I can’t find it (would have been nice if it had been linked to the Courier Times column, but as I’ve pointed out, we’re talking about the fourth estate freak show here). I couldn’t find the study at Fitzpatrick’s U.S. House web site either.

    I will cede Mikey’s point a bit by saying that it has been hard to quantify the benefits of the 1994 ban (pointed out by David Corn here), but I will say that there is a body of evidence out there that at least can raise some questions one way or the other, as noted here (besides, as noted here, one reason why we don’t have the most reliable data on this is because the NRA fights our efforts to obtain it…nothing but the sound of crickets from Mikey on that one).

    And as far as I’m concerned, the “takeaway” from this is the graph of “Guns per 100 people” in various countries, with a lot of other give-and-take stuff, but to me, what matters is just how many guns there are in this country per citizen, which definitely doesn’t make me happy (“U-S-A! U-S-A!”).

    Yep, this is pretty much nothing but another piece of PR fluff from Mikey’s press service. No doubt he’ll be back with more in about a month or so, so stay tuned.

  • Next, I give you the following from what purports to be an actual news story (here)…

    Obama secured a $787 billion stimulus package, an auto-industry bailout, new Wall Street regulations and health-care legislation that, for the first time, promised insurance coverage for nearly all Americans.

    But the political cost of moving that agenda was steep. The partisanship he had pledged to end only deepened, and many of the independent voters decisive in his election abandoned him.

    In his news conference last week, Obama blamed his reputation for aloofness in Washington on the partisan divide he once pledged to mend.

    Republicans, he said, believe it is politically dangerous to be seen with him given the antipathy many in their deep-red districts feel toward him.

    Even his supporters say he should attempt to change that, using those Republicans who supported the final fiscal cliff deal as an initial call sheet that could also include GOP governors and business leaders and others who may offer help.

    …many supporters say Obama, preoccupied with reelection, has withdrawn from the world over the past year at a dangerous time and must step back in quickly.

    Are you starting to smell the same journalistic trick that I do here, people? Lots of anonymous attribution in support of utterly wankerific talking points?

    It’s Obama’s fault that he failed to “end…partisanship” (as if anyone could do that in Washington, D.C.).

    It’s Obama’s fault that he has a “reputation for aloofness” to the point where Republicans “believe it is politically dangerous to be seen with him,” which “even his supporters” say he should “change” (as if Obama is supposed to be concerned about how his governance affects the electability of Republicans).

    It’s Obama’s fault that “many supporters say” he has “withdrawn from the world” (which, to me, is a pretty serious insinuation that he lacks the capacity for governance, which is not just wrong, but calumnious).

    The author of this steaming pile of dookey, by the way, is Scott Wilson (and of course, since we’re talking about the WaPo as part of Corporate Media Central, the Repugs aren’t criticized at all for their antics… there’s a reminder later that Obama was a community organizer, which is true. He was also a U.S. Senator, which doesn’t get mentioned nearly as much as it should).

    And as it turns out, Wilson is a serial offender – here, he took a quote and turned it inside out to give the impression that Obama doesn’t like people (please), and here, he definitely sanitized the wingnuttery also.

    And as noted here

    Additionally, in a May 6 Washington Post article, staff writers Scott Wilson and Robert Barnes wrote that “[a]s White House press secretary Robert Gibbs put it, Obama is looking for ‘somebody who understands how being a judge affects Americans’ everyday lives.’ Congressional conservatives have reacted anxiously to that qualification, fearing that it means a nominee who is more interested in making the law than in interpreting it.” But the Post did not note Obama’s statements indicating that he supports a nominee who “honors our constitutional traditions” and “respects … the appropriate limits of the judicial role.”

    Looks like Wilson and his pals at the Post (and elsewhere) try to provide the openings in the “mainstream” reporting that the wingnuts can enlarge exponentially to propagate their right-wing BS (just thought I should point that out, that’s all).

  • Continuing, it looks like “Blow ‘Em Up” Bolton is at it again (here)…

    The US and Western response to date has been disjointed and with decidedly mixed results. If President Obama doesn’t soon jettison his ideological blinders about the threat of international terrorism, we could see a series of further attacks — not unlike the 1990s series that culminated in the 9/11 strikes.

    It’s typically disingenuous and cowardly (to say nothing of inaccurate) for Bolton to assume some linkage between the Clinton Administration and the ruinous one that followed on the 9/11 attacks…perhaps in terms of facing a threat from the same foe, but that’s all (and speaking of the Clintons, I’m sure there’s no apology in sight from Bolton for this).

    Oh, and while arguing that Obama is allegedly soft on al Qaeda, or something (pretty funny when you consider who got bin Laden in comparison with Bolton’s former boss), Bolton also downplayed the fact that Obama got Anwar al-Awlaki (yes, it’s a slippery slope since Awlaki was an American citizen, but it’s typically preposterous for Bolton to argue that Obama is supposedly soft on al Qaeda and omit this… also particularly disingenuous since Bolton gave Obama credit for it here – of course, Bolton contorted himself to try and find a way to give Dubya props too).

    Here is more on Bolton, including the targets he wanted to go after following Dubya’s pre-emptive war in Iraq (as I once said about Charles Krauthammer, Bolton is awfully generous with the blood of other people’s kids). Also, Bolton makes it sound like a question as to whether or not the Taliban is really in charge in Afghanistan, even though the headline here says it all about the potential for the Taliban to rule in at least parts of Afghanistan as part of a possibly brokered peace deal (regarding Bolton’s claim that Obama’s policies have led to a Taliban resurgence – I don’t think they’ve had to “resurge,” or something, since they’ve been players all along since Bolton’s boss outsourced the Afghan war to Pakistan in the prior decade).

    We all know what a “true believer” Bolton is, people. I just think we need to remind ourselves of that fact from time to time (and let us not forget that, as noted from the article in The Nation, Bolton would have been in a position to actually create further chaos in the world once more instead of mere propaganda had we – gulp! – sworn in Willard Mitt Romney recently instead of President Obama for a second term).

  • Finally, in a thoroughly logical career progression, this tells us that former Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, allegedly a Democrat, will now become a lobbyist for the insurance industry…

    Nelson is joining a public affairs firm and becoming the chief of an insurance commissioners’ group.

    The former senator has been named CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). He will be the group’s chief spokesman and primary advocate in Washington. NAIC is made up of state insurance regulators and helps coordinate their oversight across the country.

    And for the occasion, I thought I’d bring you a sample of what you might call Ben Nelson’s Greatest Hits…

  • This tell us that Nelson was the only Dem senator to vote against confirming Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
  • Along with Max Baucus, Jon Tester and Mark Warner, he voted to block tax legislation that would have punished U.S. firms that export jobs here.
  • Here, Nelson engaged in typically pointless obstruction that delayed jobless benefits.
  • Nelson also blocked financial reform legislation here.
  • Here, he was offered a job within the Dubya White House in order to step aside so it would be easier for Mike Johanns to get elected instead, which ultimately happened anyway (can’t remember too many Democrats so “graced” by Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History; the story is a response to the alleged job offer from the Obama Administration to “Admiral Joe” Sestak…I honestly don’t remember what that supposed scandal was all about).
  • It should also be pointed out that Nelson actually has a background in insurance, particularly with NAIC, who are guilty of the following as noted here

    The NAIC’s resolution urged Congress and the White House to gut the only real consumer pricer (sp) protection in the Affordable Care Act. That protection, the “medical loss ratio” rule, requires insurers to spend 80% to 85% of their premium income on health care, and limit overhead, commissions and profit to 15% to 20%. The idea is to get insurers to operate more efficiently and cut bloat to keep premiums down. It’s already working–for instance in Connecticut, where regulators report major insurers filing for premium reductions, not increases.

    Such relief will be over if Congress or the White House do what the NAIC asked–to remove broker sales commissions of a few percent up to 20% of the premium from the overhead percentage. Premiums would shoot up, profits would grow and consumers would pay.

    Consumer advocates are counting on the White House and Congress (at least the Senate) to reject the fake arguments and arm-twisting of the industry, and listen to actual consumers.

    Yep, it sounds like the would-be beneficiary of the “cornhusker kickback,” had it ever come to pass in final legislation for the Affordable Care Act, will be right at home.

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh).


  • Friday Mashup (12/28/12)

    December 28, 2012

    Bushmaster

  • I was wondering about something; given the success of the gun buyback days in Los Angeles, CA (here) and Bridgeport, CT (here), why can’t we have a national gun buyback day? Turn in your gun and you get a gift card for $100 to spend wherever you want. Can’t help but be highly stimulative from an economic point of view, people (and right around the time when everyone is running around like the proverbial chickens with their heads cut off over the OMIGOD THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF!!! – I thought Froma Harrop of the Providence, RI Journal had a good column on that here).

    “WHAA??? A NATIONAL gun buyback day? That’s more liberal crazy talk!!!”

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh).

  • And speaking of our alleged impending financial doom, our mistake of a U.S. House Rep from PA-08 recently took the time to send me a very professional written correspondence on that subject (of course, what he said was garbage, but at least it looked nice). In it, Mikey claimed that allowing the tax rates from those stinking Bush tax cuts to expire “would result in a tax increase of $4,400 per return in the 8th Congressional District.”

    Notice that Mikey the Beloved didn’t say “per person.” My guess is that he said “per return” to include any businesses in the 8th district, and I’m not terribly sympathetic to the tax liabilities of business since they can get a lot more creative with deductions and ways to shelter their money than I as a member of the “99 percent” can.

    Mikey also said that allowing those stinking tax cuts to expire would “cost 700,000 jobs” according to an analysis from the accounting firm of Ernst and Young.

    Really? As Factcheck.org tells us here

    There’s an important caveat in there that some may miss; the projection assumes the revenue generated by raising taxes on those making over $250,000 would be “used to finance additional government spending.” The report did not examine what would happen if the additional revenue were used to reduce future federal deficits. As we noted when the report was raised during the vice presidential debate, Moody’s chief economist, Mark Zandi, called that omission “odd” and said, “It seems to me that is the more relevant scenario. And my sense is that if they did, the results would be very different.”

    Also…

    There’s another small-print caveat to the Ernst & Young report, the definition of “long run” (when the job losses would supposedly hit). A footnote at the bottom of the report explains that “roughly two-third to three-quarters of the long-run effect is reached within a decade.” In other words, when the report cites the loss of 700,000 jobs, a quarter to a third of those job losses would happen more than a decade from now.

    Also, this tells us that someone named Gary Shapiro is upset here because he thinks, in response to all the “cliff” stuff, we’re going to abandon HR 3606, which is a crowd-funding initiative to try and kick-start job creation (I get concerned about this because I don’t think the proper oversight exists).

    We are talking about HR 3606, right? The bill that President Obama signed into law in April here? That HR 3606?

    Oh, and another thing, Mikey – if you supposedly care so much about the OMIGOD FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF!!! so much, then how come you and your U.S. House “leadership” aren’t in DC right now trying to do something about it (here)?

  • Next, I have to admit that I’m getting a laugh out of the wingnuts’ latest fit of pique, and that would be over CNN’s Piers Morgan and his calling out of the gun nuts for their opposition to any firearms regulation whatsoever (here – more on the petition by James Taranto of the Murdoch Street Journal to get Morgan tossed out of the country follows)….

    “British Citizen and CNN television host Piers Morgan is engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment. We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights,” the drafters of the petition wrote in their introductory statement.

    The petition has already netted more than 13,000 signatures one day after its launch, putting it well on pace to reach its goal of 25,000. That’s the threshold at which the Obama administration has promised to respond to online petitions submitted on the White House website, provided they reach that number in 30 days.

    “Ironic U.S. gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking 2nd Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?,” Morgan tweeted.

    “Your opinion is protected, your presence in the U.S. is not. See Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972),” Taranto replied to Morgan.

    As noted here, Richard Kleindienst was Attorney General under the Nixon Administration (a victim of the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” over Watergate). He was also a litigant in the suit of Kleindienst v. Mandel, in which the U.S. AG was told that he had the power to bar someone’s entry into the U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.

    That had more than a little bit to do with the fact that Belgian journalist Ernest Mandel was a communist sympathizer (anathema back in 1952), which, last I checked, Piers Morgan is not in any way, shape or form.

    Silly wingnuts (and here is an update – too funny).

  • Continuing, this tells that that Number 44 was supposedly “humiliated” because the U.S. was not allowed to join the Regional Co-operative Economic Partnership (RCEP) with Asian countries.

    Meanwhile, this tells us the following…

    The notable absence of the United States should not signal alarm. The RCEP permits external countries to join later and does not prohibit members from acceding to other free-trade groupings, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in which the United States is active.

    Besides, this tells us how Obama made an overture to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in ’09 after he was sworn in – the U.S. was denied entry, but it’s smart to keep a wary eye on this bunch – just file it under this (the SCO was formed in response to #43’s bungled war in Afghanistan…not saying we shouldn’t have gone after bin Laden and it’s possible the SCO would have formed regardless, but let’s just take it as a given that Obama’s wretched predecessor’s actions also gave rise to international responses that aren’t what we wanted).

  • Further, John Stossel wastes our time as follows at clownhall.com (here)…

    (Bill) Gates walks in the footprints of earlier creators, like John D. Rockefeller, who got rich by lowering the price of oil products, and Cornelius Vanderbilt, who did the same for transportation. The clueless media called them robber barons, but they were neither robbers nor barons.

    Call them whatever you want, but let me present the following in response.

    This tells us of the Ludlow Massacre in 1914 in response to oppressive mining conditions for those under the employ of John D. Rockefeller (Want to know where the eight-hour work day and child labor laws came from? As a result of this, which was called the deadliest labor strike in U.S. history, with anywhere from 69 to 199 fatalities).

    This tells us about the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, which actually was set in motion by Vanderbilt the year before by a 10 percent wage cut workers suffered during the century’s worst depression (and it didn’t help that all four major rail lines colluded in underpaying their work force). By the time the strike hit, Vanderbilt had died, but the damage was done.

    Once can only assume that Stossel is continuing his recovery from the head slap he endured from wrestler David Schultz; that could explain this fit of crackpot history.

  • Finally (and speaking once more of sports), Dennis Miller (of all people) recently stated as follows here

    On his program Monday, comedian and radio talk show host Dennis Miller took on the NFL for micromanaging the game in the name of safety.

    Miller’s comments were inspired by a cover story in Time magazine in which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell discussed a proposal to eliminate the kickoff to reduce neck injuries.

    To Miller, the NFL’s adjustments have gotten out of hand. And it may be time, he said, to stop tinkering with the rules and just start all over with a new game.

    “I think we should reboot this whole thing,” Miller said. “I think American football should be shut down by Congress. And I think they should build a new game so people who, and players too, I’ll be candid with you — I know a few players who think that it’s gotten so crazy and so politically correct and so out of its way and you can’t touch a quarterback, now they’re not happy with it.”

    “So why don’t we reboot?” he continued. “Why not let football remain in our memories as something — I don’t think it’s ever the ‘great American game’ like baseball, just because baseball is probably a better game and football innately does have the violence in it — but let’s stop it and leave it at that. Because it turned out that, as guys like [Bob] Costas and [Peter] King were the first to notice, it is a flawed exercise. And come up with a new game where people aren’t constantly thinking, ‘Oh my God. They are just contorting themselves to get around the fact that it is an innately violent game.’”

    I have to admit that this is a bit of an uncomfortable position for yours truly, feeling obliged to defend the oh-so-august-in-their-imaginations National Football League.

    I’m not a bit surprised to hear Miller come down on the sport, thought, when you recall that (as noted here), he was once voted the least favorite “Monday Night Football” personality of all time, coming in behind even O.J. “I’m Still Looking For The ‘Real’ Killer of My Ex-Wife And Her Boyfriend” Simpson.

    But of course, what else can you expect from a guy like Miller, who apparently has to prop up his “fake tough” bona fides by a stunt like this as well as attacking Sandra Fluke, as noted here, who has more character in her fingernail than Miller has in his entire body?


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