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.

  • Some Friday News Musings (Updates)

    February 6, 2009

    (This post is a bit long, but I think this needs to be said.)

    In yesterday’s Philadelphia Daily News, columnist Stu Bykofsky theorized about the future of newspapers and proposed the rather ridiculous idea of charging subscribers $5 a month to read philly.com content (in response to a grilling the Inquirer apparently received from Philadelphia Magazine; I didn’t read the magazine article, which is OK because I’m not commenting on that, only what Bykofsky said in response).

    And as dumb as that is, a similar line of thought about charging for content was echoed here.

    Oh, and “Byko” also said that the next time Google decides to “pick up” (re: steal, to Byko’s way of thinking) philly.com content, Google should be sued for a billion dollars.

    Yes, he really said that, people.

    You see, cousins, Byko still believes that news professionals such as he should be the sole gatekeepers of content (this is a variation, by the way, on the argument that former Inquirer editor Chris Satullo advocated, that bloggers should work to fill in reporting gaps for budgetary reasons when it comes to covering zoning hearings or city council/county/township management board meetings and the like because the paper didn’t have the “bandwidth” or budget to do it themselves; some bloggers are really good at that stuff I’ll admit, but I always found that argument by Satullo overly simplistic, to say nothing of disingenuous).

    Or, as Byko puts it…

    Bloggers can’t replace newspapers.

    The million bloggers comment mostly on what was revealed by resource-rich newspapers. No matter how many eyeballs they attract, blogs rarely “break through” because they are so many and so scattered. They lack newspapers’ broad-based public square, where the masses assemble. They also lack the public megaphone and spotlight, which may be the print press’ most important weapons.

    I’m not arguing that; I readily admit that, were I unable to access news content to support what I argue in my posts, about 2/3rds of what I typically write would disappear.

    But Byko assumes here that news professionals are, in each case, the sole originators of news stories. I don’t have any numbers to verify how many stories are initiated from an editor or some informal contact providing a tip, or research on the part of a reporter. However, I also don’t know how many news stories are originated from someone working in a public relations capacity of one type or another who is looking to “leak” information to a reporter who happens to be the fortunate recipient of something that ultimately leads to a story or opinion column.

    Simply stated, yeah, I’ll buy the argument that most reporters generate stories through hard work. But sometimes stories come their way through luck, and for Byko to more or less imply that the former is always the case is creating an undeserved mythology as far as I’m concerned.

    And Byko also says that bloggers rarely “break through” because they are “scattered”; if by that he means that there are so many of us doing our thing that we don’t get the hit count of someone established or recognized by traditional news sources, then I’ll give him that also. But I’m not sure what that has to do with generating good content.

    He continues…

    Was it a blogger who turned a spotlight, and publicly shamed, the Postal Service (in Philadelphia) for dumping mail? No, that was the Daily News. Did a blogger have the resources in time, talent and staff to drag DHS onto the front pages and into the grand-jury room? No, that was the Inquirer. Every day newspapers run stories that would not otherwise be told.

    Was it the New York Times, Washington Post or Inquirer who provided the ground-breaking coverage in the “Scooter” Libby trial that led to his conviction on charges of obstructing a criminal investigation? No, Byko – that was firedoglake, Glenn Greenwald, and a contingent of “A” listers who doggedly pursued the story while individuals such as Bob Woodward decried their efforts (of course, Woodward was hardly without blemish himself on that story, as noted here).

    However, this is where Byko really goes “off the deep end”…

    Do all (any?) bloggers have the training or the inclination to post only what is verifiable? Working for a newspaper means you have been vetted by virtue of education or experience, and you hew to ethical norms of accuracy, honesty and objectivity. Do we always succeed? No. But almost all of us make an honest effort, and we have angels on our shoulders (called editors) to ensure that we do.

    That’s why I’ll trust the Associated Press’ reporting of President Obama’s recovery plan over anything I’ll read at DailyKos.com or TownHall.com.

    I don’t know if Byko has ever read any posts at townhall.com or not (they can speak for themselves and try to justify their musings if they want; I only go there when I’m desperate for parody content that I can rip apart from time to time), but those last two paragraphs tell me that he doesn’t have a clue as to what is posted at The Daily Kos.

    Yes, there are a lot of meandering posts where someone more or less theorizes about his or her view of things without verification (the blogger Hunter does that from time to time, for example, but I find his – ? – prose enjoyable to read, and when I do my own research on his topics, I just about always find that he – ? – is spot-on). However, that’s why the site has its “rec list” and prioritizes posts as warranted by their quality, as well as how pertinent they are to ongoing news events.

    You want to read about the workings of Congress? I don’t know of anyone with more expertise than TDK blogger Kagro X. How about science? Has Byko ever read one of DarkSyde’s posts?

    Also, does Byko have any idea how closely Eschaton and Calculated Risk, among other notable blogs, have been following the meltdown of our financial markets and the response of our government, for good or ill?

    And for overall political analysis, I don’t know anybody who “nails it” with the frequency of Digby at Hullabaloo (and I’ve often found sites such as Open Left, Talk Left and Liberal Oasis to possess interesting content, and that’s not even taking into account the legion of “B” list sites, if you will, like Take It Personally and The Existentialist Cowboy that always have something interesting to say also).

    Also, as long as I’m commenting on the “crossover” between established journalists and bloggers, allow me to compliment the Bucks County Courier Times for publishing this excellent analysis of Bernard Goldberg’s hack-tacular new book last Saturday; when the Courier Times is further ahead of the curve than the Inky when it comes to interesting editorial content…well, that says something, doesn’t it?


    Is it arrogant to think that members of the Mainstream Media are a tad more impartial and professional than self-appointed “citizen journalists”?

    If they’re all the same to you, I’m a “citizen dentist.” Call me. I can get that molar out fast.

    Actually, Byko, I hope you’re an expert at removing feet instead of teeth from one’s mouth, since you need to “heal thyself” first.

    As far as I’m concerned, here’s the deal; You and your “dead tree” pals need us about as much as we need you, maybe more. We need you because operations such as the Inquirer and Daily News contain salaried news professionals who often do legitimately good work upon which we can comment given our particular viewpoint (and, despite what Byko claims, I see corroboration of those commentaries in blogs more often than not).

    And you need us because we’re slowly taking away your share of the market (some bloggers faster than others, I readily admit), and, if nothing else, you need to learn from us about how to reach an audience that consumes news in ways that few imagined months or years ago.

    To me, there is no reason why, when I navigate to philly.com or any traditional (MSM, if you must) news sources, I should not be able to link to Eschaton, Glenn Greenwald at Salon, FDL, The Daily Kos, Booman Tribune, Hullabaloo, The Huffington Post, or other “A” listers from the portal page instead of from a favored links list by a notable commentator or reporter at that site such as Dick Polman or Will Bunch (to keep with the philly.com example). And I don’t know if Byko has noticed or not, but if you watch someone like, say, Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, he will interview reporter Howard Fineman of Newsweek or WaPo columnist E.J. Dionne (as he did last night), but he will also interview Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com or Ezra Klein of The American Prospect (and last I checked, Olbermann’s ratings among the demographics that truly matter to advertisers were pretty good – trailing Fox, but closing, and leaving CNN in the dust), as well as other bloggers and online writers.

    Oh, but the problem is that all of this leads to the inevitable schism of linking to “liberal” versus “conservative” content, doesn’t it? Heaven forbid that a newspaper owned by Brian Tierney of Philadelphia Media Holdings L.L.C. should “stain” itself with an association with some foul-mouthed hippie bloggers, right?

    Well, guess what, Byko (and Tierney, by extension)? How about letting the marketplace decide, huh? Put up some rotating links from philly.com to the blogs I noted above along with, say, National Review Online, Red State, Power Line, Little Green Footballs, Captain’s Quarters or whatever (not an authority on the “winger” sites, I readily admit) and see what happens to your site’s “hit” count.

    I hope that you aren’t afraid of what will likely be the greater scrutinizing of everyone’s content from discriminating news consumers who would welcome such a development, though I’m sure that Byko, established “citizen dentist” that he is, would have nothing to fear, considering the sterling, Pulitzer-quality work he generates in machine-like fashion (like, uh, this?).

    This will “lift all boats” better than any cockamamie scheme to extort payment for content. And everyone would be much better informed for the bargain.

    And let’s not forget that we have arrived at this state because traditional journalism, particularly given the media mergers of the last decade or so (and the subsequent consolidation of the corporate voice above all others that followed) has collectively failed in its duty to inform and educate us by refusing to separate fact from fallacy, truth from tirades, and substance from spin during some of the most calamitous times that our country has ever seen.

    And were that not true, I can most definitely tell you that this blog would not exist.

    Update 3/21/09: “Physician, heal thyself,” as it were (here).

    Update 4/7/09: Eric Schmidt echoes what I’m trying to say here.

    Update 4/9/09: Yep, this sounds like the last word to me.

    Not Enough Lipstick To Smear Onto This Pig

    December 10, 2008

    dubya_in_doubtI may keep coming back to this article that appeared on Sunday in the Austin American-Statesman in which Bushco insiders try to paint a rosy picture of Dubya’s legacy; it is ripe with posting material, but there are a couple of excerpts that I should reply to immediately, so I will do so here.

    The first is from none other than Turd Blossom himself…

    Rove also blames Washington partisanship for the scandals and subpoenas embedded in the Bush legacy, including leaks involving a clandestine CIA agent’s identity.

    He offered himself as an example.

    “You’ll notice there was outrage when it was thought that I was the person behind outing Valerie Plame. And then when it came out that it was the sainted (Deputy Secretary of State) Richard Armitage, there was no interest. I don’t remember seeing anybody camped out on his doorstep like they were camped out on mine. (It’s) because he was part of the acceptable culture of Washington, and I was not. I was one of those Texans who came up. He was one of those perpetual I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you’ll-scratch-mine Washington leakers,” Rove vented.

    As I once said, please allow me to reply with this thoughtful and reasoned observation…


    Oh, boo hoo for Karl! Aww, let’s pretend to feel sorry the life form who once said, “Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers” (more “golden moments” with Karl appear here).

    More to the point, this Media Matters post tells us…

    …A Newsweek article by (author Michael) Isikoff, posted on the magazine’s website on August 27, reveals the authors’ contention that Armitage was (reporter Bob) Novak’s primary source for his July 14, 2003, column, which first publicly identified Plame as a CIA operative.

    However, as Media Matters noted, then-Time magazine White House correspondent Matthew Cooper, in his first-person account (subscription required) of his testimony before the grand jury in the CIA leak investigation, identified Rove as his original source for Plame’s identity and Libby as his confirming source. Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller identified Libby as her primary source for Plame’s identity. (Reporter David) Corn noted in an August 27 entry on his Capital Games weblog for The Nation that Armitage’s role in the Plame leak — whatever it may have been — does not undermine the allegation that there was a “concerted action” by “multiple people in the White House” to “discredit, punish, or seek revenge against” Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

    Nice try, Karl.

    And the American-Statesman article also quotes Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, as follows…

    Spellings said that when she went to work in Bush’s 1994 gubernatorial campaign, she found a “glass-half-full guy if ever there was one.”

    “His attitude is good. He is obviously reflective, but I think he feels he gave it his all, and I think he feels that he has accomplished a lot,” Spellings said. “I think he’s the same George Bush I’ve always known.”

    I actually agree with that; more’s the pity (and by the way, this tells us about the “Reading First” scam perpetrated as part of the even-bigger Every Child Left Behind con with Spellings’ blessing, this tells us of how Dubya’s brother Neil made a bundle marketing his utterly useless “Curriculum on Wheels,” or COWs, as part of NCLB, again with Spellings’ consent, and this tells us that Spellings “loves” Dubya….eeeewwwww!).

    To conclude…

    “I think he is smart and able and has a great big heart and is a good human being,” Spellings said. “I’m sad that more Americans don’t see him as I do. Maybe they will eventually. I certainly hope so.”

    We’ve seen all of this life form we ever want to see. And after 1/20/09, I pray to God I never see him again (or, failing that, as little of him as possible).

    (And once more, I should note that K.O. gave a hell of a smack down last night to Dubya apologists everywhere, but the video is unavailable from MSNBC – wankers.)

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