Thursday Mashup (9/27/12)

September 27, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Next, this story tells us the following…

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

    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Food stamps? Really???

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

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

    Dear Mr. President:

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

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

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

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

    Mr. President, this is repugnant.

    In response, I give you this

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    When indeed?


  • A Double-Barreled Dubya Disgrace

    September 14, 2009

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    Via HuffPo, this article from The Atlantic last Friday tells us the following…

    (Last) Thursday’s annual Census Bureau report on income, poverty and access to health care-the Bureau’s principal report card on the well-being of average Americans-closes the books on the economic record of George W. Bush.

    It’s not a record many Republicans are likely to point to with pride.

    On every major measurement, the Census Bureau report shows that the country lost ground during Bush’s two terms. While Bush was in office, the median household income declined, poverty increased, childhood poverty increased even more, and the number of Americans without health insurance spiked. By contrast, the country’s condition improved on each of those measures during Bill Clinton’s two terms, often substantially.

    Bush’s record on poverty is equally bleak. When Clinton left office in 2000, the Census counted almost 31.6 million Americans living in poverty. When Bush left office in 2008, the number of poor Americans had jumped to 39.8 million (the largest number in absolute terms since 1960.) Under Bush, the number of people in poverty increased by over 8.2 million, or 26.1 per cent. Over two-thirds of that increase occurred before the economic collapse of 2008.

    The trends were comparably daunting for children in poverty. When Clinton left office nearly 11.6 million children lived in poverty, according to the Census. When Bush left office that number had swelled to just under 14.1 million, an increase of more than 21 per cent.

    The story is similar again for access to health care. When Clinton left office, the number of uninsured Americans stood at 38.4 million. By the time Bush left office that number had grown to just over 46.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million or 20.6 per cent.

    The trends look the same when examining shares of the population that are poor or uninsured, rather than the absolute numbers in those groups. When Clinton left office in 2000 13.7 per cent of Americans were uninsured; when Bush left that number stood at 15.4 per cent. (Under Bush, the share of Americans who received health insurance through their employer declined every year of his presidency-from 64.2 per cent in 2000 to 58.5 per cent in 2008.)

    When Clinton left the number of Americans in poverty stood at 11.3 per cent; when Bush left that had increased to 13.2 per cent. The poverty rate for children jumped from 16.2 per cent when Clinton left office to 19 per cent when Bush stepped down.

    So the summary page on the economic experience of average Americans under the past two presidents would look like this:

    Under Clinton, the median income increased 14 per cent. Under Bush it declined 4.2 per cent.

    Under Clinton the total number of Americans in poverty declined 16.9 per cent; under Bush it increased 26.1 per cent.

    Under Clinton the number of children in poverty declined 24.2 per cent; under Bush it increased by 21.4 per cent.

    Under Clinton, the number of Americans without health insurance, remained essentially even (down six-tenths of one per cent); under Bush it increased by 20.6 per cent.

    The article also provides comparative information on the presidencies of Poppy Bush and The Sainted Ronnie R, though I would argue that that doesn’t help Dubya at all (I have to admit that I was surprised to learn that real income grew under Reagan, though so did both childhood and adult poverty).

    Also, the New York Times published an extensive feature article yesterday on water pollution focusing on Charleston, West Virginia, though a series of articles will follow this one focusing on other states…

    Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va.

    In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.

    Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.

    “How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?” said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state’s largest banks.

    She and her husband, Charles, do not live in some remote corner of Appalachia. Charleston, the state capital, is less than 17 miles from her home.

    “How is this still happening today?” she asked.

    An excellent question – basically, what we learn from the article is that we’d made a lot of progress in water cleanup efforts until about the last ten years or so, when everything started to slide backwards (we also learn about how politicians have taken their marching orders from the polluters to fire inspectors for trying to do their jobs; the story tells us about a man named Matthew Crum who suffered this fate – as far as I’m concerned, Crum is a great American).

    And a big reason why we’ve fallen down on water safety is as follows (you knew what was coming, didn’t you?)…

    Enforcement lapses were particularly bad under the administration of President George W. Bush, (E.P.A.) employees say. “For the last eight years, my hands have been tied,” said one E.P.A. official who requested anonymity for fear of retribution. “We were told to take our clean water and clean air cases, put them in a box, and lock it shut. Everyone knew polluters were getting away with murder. But these polluters are some of the biggest campaign contributors in town, so no one really cared if they were dumping poisons into streams.”

    The E.P.A. administrators during the last eight years — Christine Todd Whitman, Michael O. Leavitt and Stephen L. Johnson — all declined to comment.

    Of course – however, the following should also be noted…

    In statements, E.P.A. officials noted that from 2006 to 2008, the agency conducted 11,000 Clean Water Act and 21,000 Safe Drinking Water Act inspections, and referred 146 cases to the Department of Justice. During the 2007 to 2008 period, officials wrote, 92 percent of the population served by community water systems received water that had no reported health-based violations.

    The Clean Water Act, (lawmakers and environmentalists say), should be expanded to police other types of pollution — like farm and livestock runoff — that are largely unregulated. And they say Congress should give state agencies more resources, in the same way that federal dollars helped overhaul the nation’s sewage systems in the 1970s.

    Some say changes will not occur without public outrage.

    “When we started regulating water pollution in the 1970s, there was a huge public outcry because you could see raw sewage flowing into the rivers,” said William D. Ruckelshaus, who served as the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Richard M. Nixon, and then again under President Ronald Reagan.

    “Today the violations are much more subtle — pesticides and chemicals you can’t see or smell that are even more dangerous,” he added. “And so a lot of the public pressure on regulatory agencies has ebbed away.”

    And as noted here, The Supreme Court of Hangin’ Judge JR has played a particularly nefarious role in all this, especially in the ruling linked to above which overturned a Court of Appeals verdict and allowed 4.5 million tons of lethal mining waste to be dumped into Alaska’s Lower Slate Lake, with the full knowledge that doing so would exterminate all life in the lake (somehow, though, The Supremes, by a 6-3 ruling… Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens dissented…determined that doing this was “less environmentally damaging than other options” – yep, you read that correctly).

    Fortunately, the Clean Water Restoration Act was introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold here; no vote has been scheduled yet, but one should be with all speed (so many Bushco screwups to fix, so little time, I know).

    Finally, in a Bushco-related matter, The Philadelphia Inquirer decided to give column space to Torture Yoo again today (the appropriate takedown from Will Bunch via Atrios is here).

    Bunch takes on the main issue of Yoo’s past culpability head-on, of course (with Yoo weighing in against the upcoming Holder investigation of course – pathetic that the Inky doesn’t realize that they’re allowing Yoo to, in essence, try to obstruct justice), though Yoo pointed out something of lesser significance in his column that I still want to address anyway…

    Henry L. Stimson, secretary of state under President Herbert Hoover, once explained the shuttering of the United States’ only code-breaking unit with these words: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” Unfortunately, we do not live in a world of gentlemen. Stimson realized this in his next cabinet post, as FDR’s secretary of war on the day of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

    In response, I give you the following from this interesting article about U.S. code breakers during World War II…

    Fifty years ago–and more than a year before Pearl Harbor–Americans scored one of their most brilliant victories of World War II.

    The commander was a Russian immigrant and sometime geneticist named William Frederick Friedman. The nature of the battle might be suggested by Friedman’s intense interest once in the 50,000-word novel “Gadsby,” which Ernest Vincent Wrigh wrote without using the letter “e.” Friedman’s troops were a motley assemblage of academics, math wizards and puzzle freaks. With a left-handed assist from William Shakespeare.

    Together, after 18 baffling months of dead-end days and floor-walking nights that temporarily collapsed Friedman into a mental ward, they broke the Japanese diplomatic code.

    Their collective genius did not foil, of course, the sneak Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States actively into the war. Crossed and sometimes disconnected wires in American intelligence enabled that. But code breaking by Friedman, et al., laid the groundwork for the pivotal victory of the U.S. fleet at Midway in June, 1942. Indeed, code breaking was an essential ingredient of the Allies’ ultimate triumph.

    Yes, the quote from Stimson is accurate, though how Yoo could claim to know what Stimson “realized” 78 years ago is laughable (and assuming some fault lies with Stimson for Pearl Harbor – which, to me, is debatable at best – I cannot think of a word for the egomania of someone criticizing past history who belonged to a regime that had its own problems with “crossed and sometimes disconnected wires in American intelligence,” to the point where the result of that circumstance was observed just about eight years ago today).

    Update 9/15/09: Yep, this egotistical jackass would know all about “five-spiral crashes,” wouldn’t he?

    Update 9/23/09: Of course…


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