Monday Mashup (10/21/13)

October 21, 2013
  • From the “road to hell paved with good intentions” department (still in the wake of the shut down misery), I give you this from Brent Budowsky…

    The president and Congress should agree to enact a one-time, limited-duration tax holiday to permit American companies to repatriate foreign-held capital at a tax rate of 12 percent, and use the revenue to finance a large infrastructure rebuild of American roads, bridges, ports and schools.

    This package would include a clean continuing resolution to reopen and fund the government and a clean extension of the debt ceiling, which would both expire Dec. 31, 2014. Larger talks could begin immediately without the blackmail and extortion of repeated threats to shut down the U.S. government or trigger a U.S. default and global financial crash — tactics that are repugnant to the American way and intensely disapproved of by a large majority of the nation.

    I think Budowsky is a pretty bright guy, but if he’s serious about this, then I think he should also come out in support of the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, sponsored by Democrats Carl Levin of Michigan in the Senate and Lloyd Doggett of Texas in the House (here). Because, as the Daily Kos post tells us, the Institute for Policy Studies has determined just how bad an idea a “tax holiday” would be, listing the “Top 10 Layoff Leaders” of U.S. firms between 2004 and 2011, all of who benefitted from repatriated millions from 2004-2005.

    As far as I’m concerned, if these malefactors really had any interest in helping our economy grow, they never would have offshored the earnings in the first place.

  • Next (and continuing with the corporate media post-mortem on the events of this week), I give you Howard Kurtz of Fix Noise here

    But the Ted Cruz wing is also getting beat up from the conservative side, as in this New York Times column by Ross Douthat (by the way, the “Kurtz Republicans” headline refers not to me, of course, but to Colonel Kurtz of “Apocalypse Now” fame).

    “There is still something well-nigh-unprecedented about how Republicans have conducted themselves of late,” Douthat writes. “It’s not the scale of their mistake, or the kind of damage that it’s caused, but the fact that their strategy was such self-evident folly, so transparently devoid of any method whatsoever.

    I guess this is a bit of “concern trolling” by Kurtz and Douthat; as noted here, there very definitely was a “method” behind the near-catastrophic antics of “Caribbean Cruz” and his playmates this week.

    And this tells us how the fight was set up by, among others, former Reaganite Ed Meese, who, for a time, was in charge of something called the Conservative Action Project (now run by former Repug congressman David McIntosh)…

    The defunding idea, Mr. Meese said, was “a logical strategy.” The idea drew broad support. Fiscal conservatives like Chris Chocola, the president of the Club for Growth, signed on to the blueprint. So did social and religious conservatives, like the Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition.

    The document set a target date: March 27, when a continuing resolution allowing the government to function was to expire. Its message was direct: “Conservatives should not approve a C.R. unless it defunds Obamacare.”

    But the March date came and went without a defunding struggle. In the Senate, Mr. Cruz and Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, talked up the defunding idea, but it went nowhere in the Democratic-controlled chamber. In the House, Mr. Boehner wanted to concentrate instead on locking in the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, and Tea Party lawmakers followed his lead. Outside advocates were unhappy but held their fire.

    “We didn’t cause any trouble,” Mr. Chocola said.

    Yet by summer, with an August recess looming and another temporary spending bill expiring at the end of September, the groups were done waiting.

    “I remember talking to reporters at the end of July, and they said, ‘This didn’t go anywhere,’ ” Mr. Needham recalled. “What all of us felt at the time was, this was never going to be a strategy that was going to win inside the Beltway. It was going to be a strategy where, during August, people would go home and hear from their constituents, saying: ‘You pledged to do everything you could to stop Obamacare. Will you defund it?’ ”

    Heritage Action, which has trained 6,000 people it calls sentinels around the country, sent them to open meetings and other events to confront their elected representatives. Its “Defund Obamacare Town Hall Tour,” which began in Fayetteville, Ark., on Aug. 19 and ended 10 days later in Wilmington, Del., drew hundreds at every stop.

    The Senate Conservatives Fund, led by Mr. DeMint when he was in the Senate, put up a Web site in July called dontfundobamacare.com and ran television ads featuring Mr. Cruz and Mr. Lee urging people to tell their representatives not to fund the law.

    When Senator Richard M. Burr, a North Carolina Republican, told a reporter that defunding the law was “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” the fund bought a radio ad to attack him. Two other Republican senators up for re-election in 2014, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, were also targeted. Both face Tea Party challengers.

    In Washington, Tea Party Patriots, which created the defunding tool kit, set up a Web site, exemptamerica.com, to promote a rally last month showcasing many of the Republicans in Congress whom Democrats — and a number of fellow Republicans — say are most responsible for the shutdown.

    While conservatives believe that the public will back them on defunding, a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that a majority — 57 percent — disapproves of cutting off funding as a way to stop the law.

    Last week, with the health care exchanges open for business and a number of prominent Republicans complaining that the “Defund Obamacare” strategy was politically damaging and pointless, Mr. Needham of Heritage Action said he felt good about what the groups had accomplished.

    “It really was a groundswell,” he said, “that changed Washington from the outside in.”

    There has been a very definite, coordinated, deep-funded apparatus at work on the right to kill the Affordable Care Law, which most certainly constitutes a “method.” And we saw it come to life in truly hideous fruition over the last few weeks.

    And if anyone thinks that these fools and frauds have been chastened in any way (more here)…

    So now that we’ve returned to something approximating a “status quo” in Washington, D.C. (and I STILL can’t believe how the Dems stuck to their guns and routed Boehner and his pals – kudos), I guess that means that it’s time for the Foxies to return to one of their biggest spectator sports, and that is to blame Number 44 for the supposedly out-of-control federal deficit, that is robbing our kids and our grandkids and our grand-grandkids, or whatever (here – of course, not a peep about the environmental state of this planet, rampant income inequality, waste of alternative energy resources, etc.).

    Which means, I suppose, that it’s time for a reminder on how we got into this fiscal mess in the first place (here). And as noted here, we’re paying down the debt faster than anyone anticipated anyway.

    Oh, and also in the matter of the economy, this tells us what the party of Boehner, Cantor, Ryan, McConnell, etc. has wrought, basically killing any hope of a turnaround just to stick it to that Kenyan Muslim Socialist at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    So what remains as the hot new “boom town” in this country? Tyler Cowen gives us a commercial for Texas here (cheap energy, a potential glut of “high-tech skill” jobs, low taxes, micro-houses – ?).

    Well, that may be all well and good, but what does it matter if the whole damn state is running out of water (here)?

    This is of course to be expected from Cowen, who once claimed here that income inequality made the “99 percent” more industrious, or something (second bullet).

  • Continuing, someone named Todd Starnes decries the quite-appropriate designation of the American Family Association as a “hate group” here.

    Want to know why? Check out some of the quotes from here

    “Homosexuality is a poor and dangerous choice, and has been proven to lead to a litany of health hazards to not only the individuals but also society as a whole.”
    –AFA Action Alert, July 20, 2012

    “[Islam] is, in fact, a religion of war, violence, intolerance, and physical persecution of non-Muslims.”
    –Tim Wildmon, March 6, 2012

    “The homosexual movement is a progressive outgrowth of the sexual revolution of the past 40 years and will lead to the normalization of even more deviant behavior.”
    – Don Wildmon, AFA website, 1999 (still posted as of 2011).

    “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”
    – Bryan Fischer, AFA director of issue analysis for government and public policy, 2010

    Basically, the AFA Is so nuts that they even accused the Foxies of having “gone gay” here.

    I report, you decide (way too damn funny).

  • Further, “Chuckles” Krauthammer of the WaPo basically says that the pro football team for Washington, D.C. should change its nickname because it’s hurtful to a minority group, or something (here).

    I’m not saying that such an argument doesn’t have merit, but I think it’s typically ridiculous for it to come from someone like Krauthammer, who has never been shy about using demeaning language against those with whom he disagrees, to say nothing of propagating outright falsehoods:

  • He called Obama a “narcissist” here (an “evergreen,” I realize).
  • He baselessly (of course) accused the Obama Administration of “lawlessness” in its policy to encourage prosecutors not to seek mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders (here).
  • He also pushed the false claim here that the Obama Administration encouraged government agencies to draft talking points without references to terrorism in the BENGHAZI!!! attacks in order to protect the ongoing investigation (in reality, agencies such as the FBI and CIA made that decision, not the White House).
  • Also, Krauthammer said that the ruinous effect of the sequester were “the most ridiculously hyped Armageddon since the Mayan Calendar” here (spoken like a truly “kept” member of the Beltway political-media-industrial complex).
  • (And this is just for this year – imagine how many links I’d have if I bothered to research, oh, say the last decade of quotes from Krauthammer?)

    By the way, I really don’t have a dog in the fight, as it were, on the question of the Washington Redskins being renamed – the owner of the Washington Bullets basketball team changed the name to Wizards after the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (he and Rabin were friends), so there is a precedent.


    I just think it’s a little funny that there’s such a brouhaha over the Washington pro football team, but I don’t hear a word spoken about the logo of the Cleveland, Ohio professional baseball team.

  • Finally (and sticking with sports, and minority rights) this tells us that last Friday was the 45th anniversary of the removal of Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the 1968 Olympic Games after their “black power” salute.

    And as noted here

    (Today), that frozen, dramatic moment of 1968 resistance is far more likely to be celebrated than criticized. Smith and Carlos are now routinely lauded for their bravery and daring. As ESPN proclaimed bluntly upon giving Smith and Carlos their Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2008, “They were right.”

    No one was saying that in 1968. Amidst the angry denunciations, there was one column, published in the Chicago American newspaper, that was particularly ugly. The journalist responsible has never deigned to comment or explain, let alone apologize, for why he decided upon the words he chose. The writer became an iconic broadcaster who now sits comfortably as the elder statesman of the sports world. He appears in family friendly movies like The Waterboy and Cars 2. His name is Brent Musburger.

    In 1968 Musburger was a restless, ambitious young sports writer looking to make his name. He found his opportunity when Smith and Carlos made their stand. Musburger didn’t see a demonstration. He saw a target.

    “One gets a little tired of having the United States run down by athletes who are enjoying themselves at the expense of their country,” he wrote. Musburger then infamously called Smith and Carlos “a pair of black-skinned stormtroopers.”

    To this day, mention Musburger’s name to John Carlos and he grits his teeth. This is particularly illustrative because Carlos is fond of saying that he has no hate in his heart toward anyone even after all the isolation and criticism he endured. As he is fond of saying, “Bitterness leads to cancer which leads to death and I have too much work to do to have time for any of that.” Name a nemesis of his from 1968, like Jesse Owens or another member of the media and he responds with a smile and recounts how in private, they buried the hatchet. But not Musburger.

    “We are talking about someone who compared us to Nazis. Think about that. Here we are standing up to apartheid and to a man in Avery Brundage who delivered the Olympics to Hitler’s Germany. And here’s Musburger calling us Nazis. That got around. It followed us. It hurt us. It hurt my wife, my kids. I’ve never been able to confront him about why he did this. Every time I’ve been at a function or an event with Brent Musburger and I walk towards him, he heads the other way.”

    The actions of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Olympic Games long ago showed courage and fortitude. They knew full well the consequences of their actions, and they engaged in them anyway. It’s what real men (and women) do.


    And apparently, Brent Musburger, by his failure to owe up to his callow, hurtful words and deeds (for which he should have apologized long ago), doesn’t know a thing about the behavior of real men.


  • Monday Mashup Part One (9/20/10)

    September 20, 2010

  • 1) We know that our corporate media is just so in love with those zany teabaggers, though only now (with the victory of Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware U.S. Senate Repug primary) are they truly getting wise to the division between the frothing rank and file with their allegedly humorous signs and funny hats and the corporatist bunch fronted by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, among others, that truly calls the shots, and always will.

    However, as the New York Times reported here yesterday, it turns out that there is at least one pretty serious intra-teabagger division, and that would be between the Tea Party Express and Tea Party Patriots…

    Unlike many of the newly energized outsiders who have embraced Tea Party ideals, (Sal) Russo, 63, is a longtime Republican operative who got his start as an aide to Ronald Reagan and later raised money and managed media strategy for a string of other politicians, including former Gov. George E. Pataki of New York. His history and spending practices have prompted some former employees and other Tea Party activists to question whether he is committed to, or merely exploiting, their cause.

    Mr. Russo’s group, based in California, is now the single biggest independent supporter of Tea Party candidates, raising more than $5.2 million in donations since January 2009, according to federal records. But at least $3 million of that total has since been paid to Mr. Russo’s political consulting firm or to one controlled by his wife, according to federal records.

    While most of that money passed through the firms to cover advertising and other expenses, that kind of self-dealing raises red flags about possible lax oversight and excessive fees for the firms, campaign finance experts said.

    “They are the classic top-down organization run by G.O.P. consultants, and it is the antithesis of what the Tea Party movement is about,” said Mark Meckler, a national spokesman for Tea Party Patriots, a coalition of grass-roots organizations that does not endorse or contribute to candidates.

    As noted here, though…

    The association with GOP causes and candidates disturbs those involved with the Tea Party Patriots who say they are working against the perception that the movement is merely a raucous arm of the GOP.

    “Our biggest problem right now has been that the Republican Party is trying to make us part of them,” said Dawn Wildman of San Diego, the California co-coordinator for Tea Party Patriots. “We’re not all Republicans, and that notion is insulting to even those of us like myself who are Republicans.”

    Hey, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck (or screams to the top of its lungs about “death panels” like a duck)…

    And I got a bit of a kick out of this from yesterday’s Times story…

    Mr. Russo estimated that Russo & Marsh, and his wife’s company, King Media Group, had been paid about $250,000 a year for their work with the Tea Party cause.

    An analysis of Federal Election Commission records by The Times puts the total amount paid — for commissions, services and wages to executives and staff members — at nearly $700,000 in the last 20 months, or about 13 percent of the $5.2 million the committee has spent. (By comparison, media buyers for candidates’ campaigns typically take a 6 percent to 15 percent commission, according to one consultant.)

    But the campaign finance records for the Tea Party Express also showed payments totaling more than $10,000 for stays at casino hotels, as well as bills for meals at expensive restaurants near Mr. Russo’s offices, including nearly $5,000 at Chops Steak House, which former staff members said the Tea Party Express frequented after work.

    “I was kind of shocked,” said Kelly Eustis, who served as political director at the Tea Party Express until leaving last fall. “It kind of turned me off.”

    Mr. Russo disputes that there was any lavish spending. “There have been a lot of cheap shots taken,” he said. “This has not been a profitable activity for us. We have plowed every penny back into this thing.”

    Uh huh, sure (and keep telling me how those teabaggers are totally an organic creation without corporate support…yeah, that’s a good one).

  • 2) Next, I give you the following from The Weakly Standard (here)…

    The Florida Democratic Party sent out a mailer last week detailing Republican congressional challenger Allen West’s 2005 tax lien and court orders to pay delinquent credit card bills. West is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein.

    The mailer includes a reproduction of the $11,081 tax lien filed against West in Marion County, Indiana, and paid off four months later. The document, pulled from public records, includes a column titled “Identifying Number” that shows West’s nine-digit Social Security number. Although the number isn’t specifically identified as a Social Security number, West campaign manager Josh Grodin said there is no mistaking what the number is.

    I will grant you that this probably wasn’t the most astute move by the Klein campaign, particularly since the lien against West was paid off a few months later. But before we start to drown in GOP crocodile tears over the publishing of sensitive information, let’s consider the following from 2008, shall we (from here, specifically concerning Ohio)…

    1) A Republican sheriff in Greene County, Ohio, has demanded social security and other records from 302 local voters whose ballots he apparently wants to negate. Sheriff Gene Fischer has requested registration cards and address forms for all Greene County residents who voted in a special session established in Ohio allowing new voters to register and vote on the same day. The process was challenged in court by the GOP. The Ohio Supreme Court turned down that challenge, and allowed the same-day voting to proceed. But now Fischer claims telephone calls complaining about the potential for voter fraud have prompted him to go after the information.

    It is widely assumed that the same-day registration/voting option was exercised primarily by students who lean heavily Democratic. In 2004, African-American students from Wright State, Central State and Wilberforce were regularly challenged on their registration credentials and forced to endure waiting in lines to vote for hours. Students at Cedarville, a Christian school, made no such reports. Sheriff Fischer’s targeting of historically black college students, the core of Obama-mania, is intended to send a chilling effect through the ranks of these Democratic voters.

    2) U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith, a Reagan appointee, has approved a GOP lawsuit demanding that the state give county boards of elections great leeway in attacking new voter registration forms. The decision, framed under the Help America Vote Act, would allow Republican challengers access to data from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security agency to challenge new voters. The Judge noted that Ohio law permits challenges to absentee ballots, thousands of which have been pouring in to elections boards. If allowed to stand, it could give the GOP the right to shred ballots already cast in the Buckeye State, with the precedent possibly being used to further enable a GOP nationwide disenfranchisement campaign. Smith gave Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner a week to respond. Brunner has stated she will appeal.

    4) The New York Times has reported that boards of elections in at least nine crucial states, including Ohio, have violated federal law in conducting purges and have been illegally using Social Security data bases as part of those purges.

    And besides, I’d rather have a candidate I support commit a boneheaded mistake like this than threaten his opponent to “make him scared to come out of his house” (third item here).

  • 3) Finally, the formerly-Moonie times is here to tell us about the next phony “war” (as opposed to the real on in Afghanistan and the unofficial one in Iraq, where combat operations have officially “ended” – here), and that would be over our household appliances (I wish I were making this up)…

    Modern technology has delivered a solution to this pesky problem of consumers not doing as they’re told (supposedly in In last year’s $814 billion stimulus package, President Obama poured 3.4 billion tax dollars into subsidies for “smart grid” projects designed to centralize control over major appliances that use electricity. The program, of course, is marketed as an advance that will deliver new options and savings to the consumer. The two-way communication underlying the concept, however, eventually will make it possible for big-ticket electrical items to be controlled remotely. In 1977, then-President Jimmy Carter called on every American “to lower the thermostat settings in all homes and buildings to no more than 65 degrees during the daytime and to a much lower setting at night.” Now the smart grid enables Big Brother to turn it down for you.

    I can see it now – the ultimate revenge of Rosie The Robot on “The Jetsons,” who I suppose finally got tired of picking up George’s slippers and cleaning out Astro’s dog food bowl and made a deal with Spacely Sprockets to take over the household….BWAHAHAHHAHA!!! (Cue diabolical laughter).

    Meanwhile, in the world of reality, this tells us more about a “smart” grid…

    The function of an Electrical grid is not a single entity but an aggregate of multiple networks and multiple power generation companies with multiple operators employing varying levels of communication and coordination, most of which is manually controlled. Smart grids increase the connectivity, automation and coordination between these suppliers, consumers and networks that perform either long distance transmission or local distribution tasks.

    • Transmission networks move electricity in bulk over medium to long distances, are actively managed, and generally operate from 345kV to 800kV over AC and DC lines.
    • Local networks traditionally moved power in one direction, “distributing” the bulk power to consumers and businesses via lines operating at 132kV and lower.

    This paradigm is changing as businesses and homes begin generating more wind and solar electricity, enabling them to sell surplus energy back to their utilities.

    Wow, what a concept – actually being able to sell power back to Exelon or whomever.

    Also (from here)…

    Early results suggest that residential consumers will change their consumption patterns in response to real-time feedback on electricity usage. Real-time, or “direct,” feedback is typically provided by an in-home display that communicates with a consumer’s smart meter as part of a larger advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). In a 2009 survey of North American pilot projects, Ahmad Faruqui of the Brattle Group found that consumers reduced their usage from 3% to 18% in response to direct feedback from an in-home display. Another recent report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found that real-time usage feedback resulted in average energy savings of 9% across surveyed programs. As utilities proceed with scheduled AMI deployments, additional consumers will have the opportunity to participate in demand response programs through the use of in-home displays.

    But I’m sure we’ll receive more warnings from wingnut media that we can’t possibly proceed with something like this. After all, Iman Rauf may be secretly trying to make sure all of our solar panels will be pointed towards Mecca, and Osama bin Laden (remember him?) may be trying turn our Kitchen-Aid mixers into nuclear warheads while the kids are sleeping and we’re “upstairs with the wife.”

    (And the really sad part is that there’s probably somebody out there who thinks I’m serious.)


  • Top Posts & Pages