Friday Mashup (9/27/13)

September 27, 2013
  • I give you the latest in faux indignation from clownhall.com (here)…

    In the case of Obamacare, Members of Congress of both parties did not want to give up their superior health insurance for the system they imposed on the rest of us. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, saw this for the hypocrisy it is and proposed an amendment to the bill that forced members and their staff to do just that. It made the final cut in the bill because to oppose it would be to admit before passage the system progressives sought to force on Americans was inferior to what existed.

    Now that it’s the law, well, that’s a different story. Congress, with significant pressure from President Obama, forced the Office of Personnel Management to “reinterpret” the law to allow significant subsidies (our money) to be paid to them and their staff to cover the cost of premiums. If you’re in a similar income bracket and situation in the private sector you can’t get the deal they gave themselves.

    As noted here from Factcheck.org, the so-called “special subsidy” for the health care law “.. Is Simply A Premium Contribution” The Federal Government Has “Long Made To The Health Insurance Policies Of Its Workers.”

    And “Democrat-controlled Senate “ – bless Derek Hunter’s pointed little wingnut head.

    And get a load of this…

    Once the president started to delay, change and ignore parts of his own law, Republicans should have gone straight to court to force Democrats to implement the law as written or repeal it.

    Ummm – I wonder if this nematode knows that the Affordable Care Act was validated by the U.S. Supreme Court, including the individual mandate? Or that the whole damn thing came from the Heritage Foundation via Willard Mitt Romney anyway?

    Yes, I know – lather, rinse, repeat…

    It gets better…

    When Rush Limbaugh made his Sandra Fluke joke the left mobilized and to this day remain in combat mode. They harass him and his sponsors constantly. Rush apologized, but that wasn’t good enough.

    I’m not even going to make the effort to defend Flush Limbore, who is indefensible on so many levels.

    A joke? Try 46 personal attacks on Fluke, as noted here (and he deserves every bit of the fallout noted here).

    Besides, “the professional left,” or whatever we’re called these days, has nothing on the Teahadists, who hate the Affordable Care Act so much that they even turned on one of their own in Congress, who sponsored a dozen bills to repeal it (here).

    When Republican candidates no one had ever heard of made stupid comments about rape, every Republican was made to answer for them. Democrats had three prominent perverts in the news in San Diego and New York in the last month, people who did abhorrent things – not just say them – and it took weeks for any Democrat to be asked to simply distance themselves from them.

    Bob Filner is out as mayor of San Diego, and Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner both lost their elections. So what logical reason is there for still talking about them?

    Hunter then engages in some truly hilarious guilt by association concerning health care reform and someone named Allan Brauer of the Sacramento, CA “Democrat” Party, lamenting that “were conservatives to treat Allan Brauer the way progressives treat their political opponents, every time he engaged in any political discourse this (and his other comments) would be trotted out like a scarlet letter to discredit him” (I’ll admit that Brauer’s behavior was pretty unconscionable, but for what it’s worth, at least he apologized, as noted here; he had a point about Cruz, but he took it way too far).

    Maybe if conservatives did a little better job of self-policing (despite Hunter’s bleating about every Repug quite rightly having to answer for “legitimate rape” Akin and his pals), then there wouldn’t be a need to call them out, even though Brauer definitely took it to extremes, like I said; an example is Sherri Goforth, the aide to Repug U.S. House Rep Diane Black, who, as noted here, sent an Email depicting Barack Obama as two eyes peering out of a black background (and I am not aware of any apology from Goforth for that disgusting mailer).

  • Next, I have to confess that I’d never seen the phrase “big abortion” used before, until now anyway – I guess it shouldn’t be surprising in the least that it came from Marjorie Dannenfelser (here)…

    The Washington Post got just one thing right in its (recent) editorial: the results of Virginia’s November 5th election will have widespread implications for the fate of abortion facilities – and women – across the Commonwealth. The next occupant of the governor’s mansion will be responsible for enforcing the abortion facility health and safety standards enacted by the General Assembly and the Board of Health last year.

    The Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, has already vowed to unilaterally help existing abortion clinics skirt the regulations. It is this unwavering loyalty to the abortion industry – which has likewise fought tooth and nail against being regulated – instead of the health and safety of women that should give every Virginian pause.

    I think it’s actually grotesque for Dannenfelser to basically say that the abortion restrictions in the “Virginia is for Lovers” state are intended for “the health and safety of women.”

    As noted here (from November 2011)…

    The regulations, commissioned by the state legislature and written by the Virginia Department of Health, are largely unrelated to patient health and safety. They would treat abortion clinics as if they are hospitals if the clinics provide five or more first-trimester abortions a month and would enforce architectural design standards that will be almost impossible for most clinics to meet.

    For instance, a clinic must have 5-foot-wide hallways, 8-foot-wide areas outside of procedure rooms, specific numbers of toilets and types of sinks and all of the latest requirements for air circulation flow and electrical wiring. Each clinic must also have a parking spot for every bed, despite the fact that first-trimester abortions don’t require an overnight stay. Further, Department of Health employees will be allowed to enter an abortion facility at any time without notice or identification.

    Virginia Board of Health member Jim Edmundson tried to introduce a number of amendments…that would lessen the severity of the clinic restrictions and give some facilities a chance to comply. However, all but one of the amendments were rejected without a vote. For instance, he tried to distinguish between first-trimester surgical abortions and first-trimester medication abortions, so that the regulations would only apply to surgical procedures, but the amendment was not even seconded.

    “The board is not even seconding proposed amendments being offered,” said Patrick Hurd, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeast Virginia, who observed the comment and voting process in Richmond on Thursday. “They’re so intimidated by the presence of the attorney general, they’re not even allowing these things to come up for a vote.”

    The attorney general being Ken Cuccinelli, the guy currently losing to Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s race…

    “(As of November 2011), none of our facilities would be in compliance with these regulations,” said Paulette McElwain, president and CEO of the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, which has five clinics in the state that provide abortions.

    The point of the regulation changes was to outlaw abortion clinics from practicing in Virginia, period, endangering the health of women seeking a perfectly legal medical procedure.

    Which is exactly what Dannenfelser and her minions want.

    And as noted here, Dannenfelser defended the odious Roy Blunt Amendment, in which the Missouri Repug U.S. Senator tried to “grant employers significant discretion in deciding what kind of health care they want to provide workers” (translated, that means employers could refuse to provide coverage for anything whatsoever to do with those dreaded, icky lady parts). Dannefelser also claimed that Planned Parenthood generated about $300 million in “profit,” which was properly debunked by Politifact (this and a lot more stuff on Dannenfelser can be accessed from here).

  • Continuing, it looks like former CIA head and General David Petraeus was the subject of recent protests when he spoke at City College of New York.

    For the wingnut perspective, I give you this from Fix Noise…

    FOX’s Jesse Watters confronted S. Sandor John, a professor of Latin American studies, about encouraging the student body to pester General Petraeus.

    John said “Students and faculty […] are not okay with a death squad organizer and somebody who organized drone attacks.”

    Jesse also spoke with CUNY students who supported Petraeus’ presence on campus, calling the General a “great professor”

    I don’t know what’s funnier – the fact that the Foxies don’t even bother to acknowledge the charges against Petraeus (here and here), or that Jesse Watters is actually given the imprimatur of respectability (here).

    Meanwhile, I think I should make note of the reality perspective from the same event (here)…

    A new video was just released of police brutalizing one of the City University of New York (CUNY) students protesting a fundraiser featuring former CIA Director and CUNY Macaulay Honors College adjunct professor David Petraeus.

    That video – taken from a new angle than the ones previously released and first featured here on The Dissenter – shows about a dozen police officers swarming a student, slamming him against the hood of a car and holding him there.

    Once pinned down, the video shows a white-shirted officer punch him in the head a couple times and another officer punch him in the head from another angle. He also had his head held in place from the back of neck with a nightstick when pinned down on the ground after being pulled from the car. [*Note: This takes place 5:50 into the embedded video segment.]

    The brutal blows were met with screams and shouts from students, no defense to policemen on a mission.

    Six students eventually were arrested, now known as the “CUNY 6.” They face charges of disorderly conduct, riot, resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration and will have a date in court on October 16.

    And though this is an important story, it really isn’t one with major import on foreign or domestic policy (not saying it shouldn’t be, though).

    Here is my point; if Fix Noise sanitized something like this, which will probably end up as little more than a blip on the media radar, imagine how they “report” national or international stories of actual consequence.

  • Further, “Pastor” Gerson at the WaPo goes there on Francis and teh gay here (mentioning the Pope’s namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, who knew “the power of a dramatic gesture”)…

    So Francis observed: “Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person.”

    This teaching — to always consider the person — was disorienting from the beginning. The outsiders get invited to the party. The prodigal is given the place of honor. The pious complain about their shocking treatment. The gatekeepers find the gate shut to them. It is subversive to all respectable religious order, which is precisely the point. With Francis, the argument gains a new hearing.

    (Oh, and typical for Gerson, he snuck in a dig earlier in his column about “progressive“ churches on “a panting, unsuccessful search for relevance” – as is usually the case, you’re left wondering what he said for a second or two before you realize just how insulting it really was).

    Gerson really shouldn’t say anything about the gays, though, given his de facto endorsement of Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria (here). Basically, Gerson piled on then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 for the latter’s relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, when in fact Gerson was (still is?) a member of…

    ..the Falls Church in Falls Church, Va. (Gerson’s) congregation and the nearby Truro Church, (which) played the key role in leading 11 Virginia parishes out of the Episcopal Church after the Church consecrated Gene Robinson, an openly gay man as bishop in 2003. Most of these parishes joined the Church of Nigeria, which Akinola leads.

    Yep, I would say that you could classify this under “the power of a dramatic gesture” also; besides, let’s not be in a rush to throw plaudits at the still-new Pope on the question of human sexuality, particularly in light of this.

  • Finally (and returning to the health care law), I give you the following from Mikey The Beloved’s stenographer in chief, Gary Weckselblatt of the Bucks County Courier Times (here)…

    Democrats and Republicans each reside within their own truth.

    That was never more evident than the recent GOP House vote to fund all government operations, with the notable exception of President Barack Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act.

    Moments after the 230-189 vote for the Continuing Resolution — only two Democrats and one Republican switched sides — the political spin machines worked to churn raw cream into sweet butter over an impending government shutdown.

    The headline on press releases from Congressmen Mike Fitzpatrick, R-8, Middletown, and Patrick Meehan, R-7, Drexel Hill, said the vote meant government would continue running.

    For Democrats such as Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, D-13, Jenkintown, however, a government shutdown and the nation’s default were looming.

    One vote and the two parties’ opinions are as divergent as Oscar and Felix.

    I’ve had to endure some truly awful columns from Gary Weckselblatt over the years, but this may actually be the worst of all. It is the ultimate embodiment of the “both sides are just as bad” narrative. This might as well be called “The Health Care Reform Issue Is Too Confusing For Me To Understand, So Instead, I’m Just Going To Give Up And Write Nothing But Snark.”

    I’ll tell you what – here is an actual news story with actual reporting, something Weckselblatt is apparently incapable of crafting, even though it’s supposed to be his job (more is also here and here)…

    The House of Representatives passed a 2014 continuing resolution Friday with a vote of 230 to 189. The $986.3 billion stopgap bill would fund the government until Dec. 15, preventing a government shutdown, but it’s expected to be dead on arrival in the Senate, as it also defunds the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

    It was the 42nd vote the GOP has taken to repeal the new health care law. The Senate is expected to restore funding and return the bill to the House. If lawmakers cannot agree on a funding measure by Sept. 30, there will be a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

    So yes, the Republicans in the House passed the continuing resolution to fund the government, stripping out the funding for the Affordable Care Act in the process. So they are technically correct in saying that they passed the CR over to the Senate.

    Now that it’s there, the bill will have the funding for the Act reinserted into it when the filibuster of “Calgary” Cruz eventually ends with the conclusion of the “filibuster” by “Calgary” Cruz (which, ostensibly, is the reason for his filibuster antics, though in reality the point is to gin up more phony outrage, to say nothing of dollars from campaign contributors, for his 2016 presidential run). And when the funding is reinserted, the bill will be sent back to the House, where it likely will fail to pass.

    So Schwartz’s remark is based on that eventuality (smartly moving a step or two ahead of things –she’s such a bright lady that she should run for governor :-)). And guess who now shares that view?

    Boehner_Time_Shutdown_0926
    Oh, and a budget deal has to be approved by September 30th, the end of the government calendar year, or else we really will have a default for real (though Treasury has said October 17th, I believe). Of course, Obama could just reconsider doing this (yes, I know it’s a trick, but if it keeps the government running)…

    Also, if you want to know the polling on this issue, just look at this – it’s been pretty consistent for awhile now (the hell with Terry Madonna – yes, there are a lot opposed, but a lot are in favor also…what matters are the trends). And though this is a bit funny, it’s also a bit pathetic too (approval for the ACA rose 8 points among Repugs when it wasn’t called “Obamacare”).

    This is all a consequence of the truly lazy “reporting” on this issue, as noted here, and embodied by Weckselblatt – he really should stop stealing from his employer with this crap and click here at long last (i.e., take my advice and apply at Pottery Barn – probably looking for seasonal hires about now).

    And as I was about to put the wraps on this post, I came across this item (h/t Atrios) from Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly, opining on a similar column by Ron Fournier, who is an old hand at manufacturing the old “equivalency” narrative. I was struck by this excerpt in particular…

    At the risk of getting maudlin about it all, I’d say we all lose when respected journalists look at something like Boehner’s debt limit bill and see it as no worse than the President saying we ought to pay our bills and keep that separate from our differences over spending and taxing. The Equivalency Formula makes it impossible to see clown clothes, and thus encourages clowns to cut capers even more.

    And to take the circus metaphor to its logical conclusion, the calliope will keep playing, along with the parade of jugglers and fire-eaters while the acrobats swing high above, until one day, the show closes, the cleanup begins, the ring shuts down and the pitched tents are rolled up and put away for good, and we have nothing left.


  • Thursday Mashup (5/30/13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Continuing with Fournier…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What exactly was that Pulitzer for again?

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

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

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

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

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

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For what, exactly? Hurt fee-fees?

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

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

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

    And finally…

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


  • Tuesday Mashup (2/12/13)

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

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

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

    Yeah, it’s the tone, that’s all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • More AP Fournier Follies On “Obama Care”

    September 10, 2009

    FOURNIER_RonBoy, did Ron Fournier of the AP come up with some utterly craptacular nonsense on Obama’s health care reform speech last night (here)…

    WASHINGTON — Barack Obama faces the same obstacles that plagued former President Bill Clinton during a health care standoff 15 years ago. But Obama took a strikingly different path around them Wednesday night, choosing the promise of compromise over Clinton’s sharp-edged veto pen.

    For Clinton, the my-way-or-the-highway approach backfired. The legislation died, Republicans won control of Congress just 10 months later and health care fell from the public agenda, though Clinton himself recovered to win a second term.

    I’m surprised that Fournier didn’t tell us that little fairies in the shape of elephants flew around and spread pixie dust that brainwashed the voters of this country into rejecting “big gumint” and those dastardly tax-and-spend liberals. That makes about as much sense as what he just said about the 1994 congressional election which (pathetically) gave the Repugs control of the U.S. House for the first time in 40 years.

    I will grant you that there was a bit of overreach by the Clinton Administration, particularly on the issue of gays in the military (which, really, shouldn’t be an issue – I think Obama is handling this better by letting former Iraq war vet Patrick Murphy lead the effort to repeal DADT in the House, though it would be nice to hear some opposition to the ridiculous Defense of Marriage Act by the president himself, which would only help repeal of DADT).

    Update 9/12/09: By the way, speaking of the Defense of Marriage Act, I thought this was good news.

    And I will also grant that what happened with health care contributed to the perception also, though the following should be noted from here (I know I got into this in an earlier post, but I think it bears repeating – a lot)…

    In mid-August, former President Clinton…argued that blaming his administration’s decision to hand a (health care) bill to Congress was an inaccurate depiction of what occurred and not a reason the effort failed.

    As keynote speaker at the Netroots Nation conference of progressive/liberal bloggers in Pittsburgh, Mr. Clinton sarcastically denounced what he considers the false, revisionist history: “Everybody knows that Hillary presented this horribly complicated, 1,300-page bill, which would have broken the back of the federal statutes. And what she should’ve done was refused to present a bill and just have her committee issue a report to Congress with recommendations.”

    In reality, Mr. Clinton said, the bill-writing was dictated by Congress: “We actually pleaded with the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to let us send a report with recommendations and have them write the bill, and he said, ‘I will not take this up unless you send me a bill.’ ”

    Mr. Clinton recalled that the chairman at the time — Representative Dan Rostenkowski, whom President Clinton later pardoned for a mail-fraud conviction — countered that without a presidential bill, interest groups would swarm all over his committee. The lobbyists would overwhelm the lawmakers, in other words.

    And according to Mr. Clinton, the chairman argued: “There’s not enough base-level knowledge in the Congress to resist it, and we will never get anywhere. This will not happen unless you give a bill.”

    Also, the Clinton budget had passed the year before, which would eventually ensure economic prosperity which lasted through the rest of his administration. However, at the time, the Repugs (cheered on by our corporate media stenographers on this and everything else, including the failure of health care reform) did nothing but harp about tax increases to Medicare and Social Security. That, along with their caterwauling about the assault weapons ban, gave Baby Newton Leroy Gingrich an opening to yammer on and on about his Contract on America.

    (I think it’s also important to consider that, back then, the concept of conservative movement, ideologue Repugs wasn’t as commonly accepted as it is now, unfortunately. By that I mean that, though voters were unhappy enough with Poppy Bush not to elect him to a second term in 1992, there were still enough grownups in charge of the Republican Party who voters thought could actually perform the hard work of governance, to the point where those voters gave their party congressional power in ’94. However, I always thought that Gingrich’s flameout, as well as that of a certain dancing former exterminator, was at least as telling as his ascent – that is, voters woke up and realized what wingnuts they both truly were, aided by the Monica Whatsername inquisition.)

    So basically, for Fournier to assign the failure of health care reform to pass in ’94 as the sole reason for the Dems’ loss of Congress is laughable. And though it’s possible that that scenario could be repeated if somehow health care reform doesn’t pass in this session, that would also take place if the voters assumed that the Repug party could be trusted again as they once were in the early ‘90s. And it’s a whole new ballgame on that score, my fellow prisoners.

    And here’s more Fournier dreck…

    Liberals were frustrated that a progressive revolution had not yet materialized under Clinton’s watch. Even worse, Republican and Democratic skeptics alike wondered whether he had the stomach for a fight.

    Clinton responded that night 15 years ago by brandishing a pen and declaring: “If you send me legislation that does not guarantee every American private health insurance that can never be taken away, you will force me to take this pen, veto the legislation, and we’ll come right back here and start all over again.”

    From that flourish of political arrogance followed every bad decision that doomed health care reform — a task force headed by his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, meeting in secret to craft a Byzantine plan with little congressional input.

    It died upon arrival.

    As noted above, former House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski was the one who wanted Clinton to produce a bill instead of Congress.

    But Fournier isn’t done, folks…

    Obama knows there is no chance of having a truly two-party approach to health care reform, and only a slim chance of dragging more than two or three Republicans aboard a Democratic bill.

    But he also knows — his pollsters surely have told him — that the public craves at least the appearance of bipartisanship.

    An Associated Press-GfK poll released hours before his address shows that eight in 10 Americans say it’s important that any plan that passes Congress have the support of both parties.

    According to this, that is actually correct (does it say something that the only place where I can obtain this information is a Repug-friendly site?), believe it or not (the bottom of the post tells us that the poll sampling included 39 percent Democrats and 33 percent Republicans…presumably, the other 28 percent were independents or undecided – I cannot locate any other sampling information on this poll).

    However, I think the following should be emphasized (here)…

    Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

    The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector.

    Yet the survey also revealed considerable unease about the impact of heightened government involvement, on both the economy and the quality of the respondents’ own medical care. While 85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, 77 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their own care.

    I think concern about the impact on the economy is understandable given its sorry state at the moment.

    So, we have Fournier’s poll telling us that 8 in 10 Americans support a poll with input from both parties. And we have the New York Times/CBS poll telling us that Americans strongly support health care reform and the public option (though they are justly concerned about the numbers behind those reforms).

    Well, armed with that information, you would think the Repugs would have put together at least a semblance of legislation to address those concerns (presumably, the papers some of them were waving in the air during Obama’s speech last night – and don’t worry, I won’t say that they were imitating Neville Chamberlain since that would invite more stupid comparisons between Obama and you-know-who).

    However, as we read from here…

    Top Republicans in the House today unveiled a GOP health-care plan, stressing that they were looking forward to working with President Obama and Nancy Pelosi.

    The plan, devised by the House Republican Health Care Solutions Group, promotes specifically targeting groups among the nation’s uninsured that could be covered by the existing system as well as keeping health insurance within the private sector.

    Another area that is not touched upon within the GOP plan is cost. When pressed on the issue by reporters, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) struck back.

    “We are not going to have a bill that is larger than the GDP of most countries,” he said, an apparent reference to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate on the Kennedy plan and other floated numbers — in the trillions of dollars — for the potential cost of other Democratic-backed plans.

    He then went on to say the numbers for the GOP plan would come after the Democrats are done scoring their own legislation. When pressed harder for a ballpark estimate of the cost of the plan, Camp responded, “We do have ideas about that” before reiterating the GOP’s idea of insuring Americans under the age of 25.

    So, as usual, they have something to amplify their talking points from their core constituencies (as well as fodder for more feigned umbrage), but nothing with enough detail to serve as a basis for serious legislation.

    And Fournier concludes his piece with this…

    Why wave a veto pen when Obama can make a pass at bipartisanship and declare victory over whatever Democrats muscle through Congress? He’s a good politician, and knows it.

    Obama must figure he can make a half a loaf look like a bakery.

    Well (taking Fournier’s trite metaphor a bit further), what else is Obama supposed to do when the Repugs don’t even bother to leave him any crumbs?

    Also, Media Matters has more on Fournier here.

    Update: Funny how Fournier didn’t mention the Bill Kristol ’93 memo that kos noted here, isn’t it (though Huckleberry Graham remembers, of course).


    Hacks Like Thee

    September 22, 2008


    I don’t know who else noticed besides your humble narrator, but Ron Fournier and Charles Babington of the AP took turns this weekend writing two stories on the same poll concerning the election.

    I’ll give you Fournier first (here)…

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them “lazy,” “violent,” responsible for their own troubles.

    The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.

    And now Babington (here)…

    (The poll) shows that a substantial portion of white Americans still harbor negative feelings toward blacks. It shows that blacks and whites disagree tremendously on how much racial prejudice exists, whose fault it is and how much influence blacks have in politics.

    One result is that Barack Obama’s path to the presidency is steeper than it would be if he were white.

    And in other news, the sky is blue, water is wet, the Pope is German, and Dubya’s job approval rating is now at 19 percent (here – doesn’t have anything to do with this post, really, but what would I be if I missed an opportunity to take a shot over that?).

    Yes, race is an issue, but Fournier and Babington both throw around a lot of statistics from Stanford University (which I’ve never identified as a hotbed of progressive political thought anyway) that I’m not going to waste anyone’s time trying to analyze (I’m a blogger, not an insurance actuary). I put more stock in reporting on this matter like the type that Dave Davies of the Philadelphia Daily News provided here (not trying to impugn him in the post title, by the way).

    And if I can “go meta” for a second on this, I just want to make the personal observation that, as a white male living in the Northeast, I no longer feel any implied sense of entitlement or superiority over anyone living in any other region of this country on the matter of race. It’s true that I should not have felt that way anyway, and I’m sorry about that. But after watching or hearing of the conduct of a great many people who I thought knew better than to disqualify Barack Obama merely because of the color of his skin over these last few months, I have to tell you that I have found myself truly sobered into recognizing this fact (and I have found that conduct to be utterly shocking – say what you want, but that’s the way it is, as that news guy used to say).

    That being said, though, I would just like to remind us all of this Gallup poll from last February which, among other things, showed steeper numbers for Hillary Clinton in a matchup with John W. McBush when it came to white male voters (40 HRC- 55 McBush versus 45 Obama – 50 McBush) and showed better numbers among overall voters for Obama against McBush than HRC against the Repug nominee (with the exception of voters 65 and older).

    And though Hillary Clinton fared better than Obama in a McBush matchup when it came to rating the two Dems on their experience, I personally think that’s a wash given the fact that our corporate media would have recycled every conceivable negative Clinton narrative to negate her edge had she won the nomination. I think it works to Obama’s advantage that he’s more of a “blank slate,” the nonstop Tony Rezko-Reverend Wright caterwauling by Fox Noise and right-wing attack radio notwithstanding (a lot harder for Broderella, for example, to go sniffing around in the Obama’s underwear drawer than the Clinton’s).

    Also, please keep in mind here that I would have been happy with Hillary as the nominee (yes, really). She and Obama were both excellent candidates, but what decided it for me was the precision of Obama’s campaign, versus all of the pratfalls from the people who were supposed to be serving Hillary (and both she and her husband had their stumbles also – those contrasts told me how each of them would have governed). I’m not trying to use “analysis” from Fournier, Babington or anyone else to justify my selection (and either way, that selection would have been historic from the moment John Edwards left the campaign, which, we now know, was an act of providence).

    I don’t know how much of an issue race is going to play in this election, and I have news for you: nobody else does either. And unless the AP is going to walk us step by step through exactly how this study was conducted (e.g., they note that photos of Caucasians versus African-Americans were shown to measure responses in the Stanford study; why can’t we see the photos?), they shouldn’t try acting like they do (at the very least, the Fournier and Babington pieces should have been labeled “analysis”; why was even that slight gesture too much trouble?).

    Update: As soon as I pressed Enter on this, I realized I’d forgotten to point out that there are a bunch of nested links for both the Fournier and Babington pieces providing more information on the survey methodology, though it takes some digging to get to this information.

    Update 9/23/08: This is a recording…


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