Wednesday Mashup (4/17/13)

April 17, 2013
  • Someone named Wayne Allyn Root over at Fix Noise opined as follows here

    There are no new jobs. There will be no new jobs. Creating jobs in Obama’s America is like trying to grow healthy plants in a nuclear blast zone. Obama has turned the U.S. economy into a “Hostile Work Environment.” I call it Obamageddon.

    And of course, there are zero citations for anything in this screed, which is totally typical from the media wing of the Republican Party.

    Yes, I’m sure there are smatterings of truth somewhere from Root (and at the very end of his column, he sneaks in a plug for his anti-Obama book, the latest from the right-wing outrage factory), such as payroll taxes going up (an expiration of the payroll tax cut not renewed by Congress, as noted here) and health insurance premiums going up (which has not one damn thing to do with “Obama Care,” since the exchanges aren’t due to go into effect until next year and the individual mandate, creating a whole bunch of new subscribers for the health insurance behemoths in this country, was upheld by The Supremes last year, as noted here).

    The inescapable fact is that the ultimate “power of the purse” in our government rests with the U.S. House, currently run by “Orange Man” Boehner and that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor, not Obama. And as noted here, Boehner couldn’t keep his own caucus together to get a deal even on his laughable “Plan B” on the economy, punting the decision back to Obama and the Senate, as Kevin Drum tells us (which ties back to Boehner’s practice of keeping our economy in perpetual crisis, which is bound to drag down job growth, as noted here). And as noted here, Boehner and his pals continue to sit on Obama’s American Jobs Act.

    And I’m tired of hearing about how “austerity” supposedly is the answer to our problems on the economy, including job growth (the latest debunking is here). And do you want to know where deficit reduction has come from so far? As noted here, 70 percent came from cuts in government programs, which are stimulative to one degree or another, and only 30 percent came from increased revenue (and for good measure, this omnibus post from Jon Perr of Daily Kos gives us all kinds of information on who does a better job of managing the economy between Democrats and Republicans).

    But of course this is typical for Root, who called Obama the “Marxist-in-chief” who has “declared war on capitalism” here (really?).

  • Next, Thomas Sowell at clownhall.com tells us the following (here)…

    Amid all the heated, emotional advocacy of gun control, have you ever heard even one person present convincing hard evidence that tighter gun control laws have in fact reduced murders?

    Actually, yes. And here it is, from here

    Last year, economist Richard Florida dove deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths. The disclaimer here is that correlation is not causation. But correlations can be suggestive:

    Also, here is more related info:

  • This tells us that states with looser gun laws have higher rates of gun violence.
  • This tells us that gun homicides in Missouri increased by 25 percent after the state repealed its background check law.
  • This tells us that members of law enforcement are more likely to be killed in states with weaker gun laws (as I’ve said I don’t know how many times, why the #@!$ can’t we make the discussion about guns start from the point of view of what works best for the police? And yes, I know the answer.).
  • Gosnell_MM_Pic_0417
    And by the way, I’m going to switch gears here, as it were, and add the following graphic concerning the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell (courtesy of Media Matters…I’m sick of reading and listening to wingnut caterwauling over a supposed “liberal bias” cover up on this truly horrific story, as noted here – truly sickening stuff, and Gosnell could quite rightly IMHO face the death penalty if convicted…more is here).

    Update 4/18/13: If Marsha Blackburn is involved, then the stoo-pid is thick enough to cut with a knife (here).

    From our area, Pancake Joe Pitts, Scott Garrett and Mike Kelly signed; go to Blackburn’s web site if you want to experience this idiocy first hand (the last thing I’m going to do is link to it myself – a good response is here).

  • Continuing, it should be pointed out that, while one of Rupert Murdoch’s highest profile vanity rags is quite rightly getting excoriated for journalistic malpractice while reporting the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon (here), it shouldn’t be forgotten that they also committed another affront to decency here

    Fifty years ago (on 4/16), Martin Luther King Jr. penned one of the most enduring documents of the civil-rights struggle while locked in a jail cell in Birmingham, Ala.

    His Letter From Birmingham Jail was a clarion call for the right to civil disobedience. Though first requested by an editor for The New York Times, it was in the pages of The New York Post that these words would first be printed.

    This week, the Times published a very different kind of prison letter. Yesterday its op-ed pages carried an article titled “Gitmo Is Killing Me.” It was written by Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, whom the Times identifies only as “a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay since 2002.”

    Pity the Times didn’t take a look at its own Web site before publishing. There, under a project called “The Guantanamo Docket,” is a Defense Department memo identifying the Yemeni national as “a member of al Qaeda who served on Osama bin Laden’s security detail.”

    The Post also points out that, as noted from here, Moqbel was indeed labeled as “A HIGH RISK . . . as he is likely to pose a threat to US interests.”

    However, when you read Page 3 of the 10-page “jacket” on Moqbel; you find out the following…

    Detainee traveled to Afghanistan, and stayed at a house in the Wazir Akbar Khan District of Kabul. Detainee left his passport at the house in Kabul before going to the frontlines to fight the Northern Alliance. He fought at the front lines north of Kabul as a fighter in the Sadiq Combat Unit, which consisted of approximately 15 or 16 fighters. Detainee received some pay as a fighter which enabled him to purchase needed items such as food and clothing. Detainee denied knowing (Osama bin Laden). After the US and Coalition bombing campaign initiated in Afghanistan, detainee believed it was too dangerous to be an Arab in Afghanistan; therefore, he fled the front-lines in December 2001 and stopped in Kabul. Detainee continued on to Khowst, AF, where he stayed for two weeks while he attempted to flee from Afghanistan.

    So basically, not only did Moqbel not fight against our troops, he was trying to get the hell out of Afghanistan after we invaded.

    And this guy is labeled “A HIGH RISK”? Am I missing something here? And as The Raw Story points out here, Moqbel was never even charged with a crime.

    Turning to Glenn Greenwald on this, we learn the following here (along with the fact that Moqbel is currently in the midst of a hunger strike to protest conditions in Guantanamo, which, when you learn more about it, is a national shame in and of itself, in particular the painful forced feedings endured by the inmates)…

    Moqbel…is Yemeni. More than half of the remaining 166 detainees at the camp are Yemeni. Dozens of those Yemenis (along with dozens of other detainees) have long ago been cleared for release by the US government on the ground that there is no evidence to believe they are a threat to anyone. A total of 87 of the remaining detainees – roughly half – have been cleared for release, of which 58 are Yemeni. Not even the US government at this point claims they are guilty or pose a threat to anyone.

    The Yemeni government not only is willing to take them, but is now demanding their release, using language notably harsh for a US puppet regime:

    “Even Yemen’s president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who generally enjoys close relations with the United States, has directed rare criticism at the Obama administration.

    “‘We believe that keeping someone in prison for over 10 years without due process is clear-cut tyranny,’ Hadi said in a recent interview broadcast over the Arabic language channel of Russia Today. ‘The United States is fond of talking democracy and human rights. But when we were discussing the prisoner issue with the American attorney general, he had nothing to say.'”

    “Clear-cut tyranny”, says Yemen’s president. But in January, 2010, Obama – not Congress, but Obama – announced a moratorium on the release of any Yemeni detainees, even ones cleared for release. As Amnesty International put it at the beginning of this year:

    “But President Obama adopted the USA’s unilateral and flawed ‘global war’ paradigm and accepted indefinite detentions under this framework.

    “Then, in 2010, his administration announced that it had decided that four dozen of the Guantánamo detainees could neither be prosecuted nor released, but should remain in indefinite military detention without charge or criminal trial. The administration also imposed a moratorium on repatriation of Yemeni detainees. and said that 30 such detainees would be held in ‘conditional’ detention based on ‘current security conditions in Yemen’. This moratorium is still in place.”

    I realize that Obama tried to close Guantanamo, but received push-back from Congress (and Greenwald has some interesting commentary on that also from his post). However, the matter of either charging the Guantanamo prisoners or releasing them to their countries of origin (as much as that is feasible considering whether or not they can return) is worthy of something I once heard referred to as “the fierce urgency of now” as opposed to “the somewhat tepid need to address this matter by whoever follows in office sometime after 2016.”

  • Finally, I should note from here that the Pulitzer Prizes in journalism were recently awarded; the New York Times won 4, including a team reporting award for some of the worker abuses at the Apple Foxconn facility in China. Others went to the Washington Post, the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, FLA, the Denver Post, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.Oh, and Bret Stephens of the Murdoch Street Journal won an award for editorial writing.

    OK, I’ll give you a minute to pick yourself up off the floor; no doubt that you experienced a convulsion of laughter over that last sentence that sent you falling out of your chair.

    There’s one problem, though – it’s true.

    Yes, really.

    As the story puts it…

    The Pulitzer citation said Stephens’ columns on American foreign policy and politics are incisive and “often enlivened by a contrarian twist.”

    Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot said in a statement, “We’re delighted to see our colleague Bret Stephens recognized for his influential and popular columns on foreign affairs and politics.”

    So, in the spirit of the occasion, here are some examples of Stephens with his “contrarian twist” at work…

  • Here, he lamented the supposed foreign policy failures of the Obama Administration, even though Number 44 had only been sworn into office a month ago.
  • Here, he rather disgustingly compared John Lennon to the former Communist Party strongman who shared most of his last name.
  • Here, he misrepresented the Bush Doctrine and criticized Obama for stepping up a bit on the Darfur crisis, as opposed to Former President Numbskull.
  • Here, he defended “the surge” in Iraq and criticized Obama for not giving Dubya enough credit for it (typical wingnut mythology – any gains experienced as a result had to do more with the so-called “Sunni Awakening” and “Saint Petraeus” handing out bribes like cards from a deck of poker).
  • Here, he criticized other countries for swine flu preparedness (that seems to be a particular sticking point for conservatives for some reason – guess they want unnecessary wholesale casualties to “decrease the surplus population,” as somebody once wrote).
  • Stephens once wrote that “Consistency, principled or foolish, has never been a hobgoblin of the liberal mind.” in a column where he tried to equate the outing of covert U.S. agent Valerie Plame, who made a living tracking loose nukes before Bushco blew her cover, with Eric Holder’s investigation of interrogators who “threatened to kill the children and sexually assault the mother of a key terror suspect,” as noted here (some apples with your oranges, Bret?).
  • Here (as K.O. tells us), he said that those who acknowledged the reality of global warming were “Stalinists” (and why the hell isn’t that man back on the air by now – Keith, I mean?).
  • Here, Stephens decided to look into the future in an effort to try and imagine more scenarios of failure for President Obama.
  • I cannot imagine what persuaded the committee awarding the Pulitzers into such an utterly laughable act as giving an award to this conservative hack (the fourth estate in this country continues to die a slow and inexorable death).

    Cheney
    If Bret Stephens can win a Pulitzer, then Dick Cheney can win the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Update 4/18/13: And as long as I’m discussing the Journal, I should point out that writer Peter Nicholas wrote this “news” story about Obama now choosing to lead, or whatever, in light of the fact that it took him three days to respond to the attempted Christmas plane bombing in 2009 by the guy who nearly blew up his junk instead. That appears to be accurate reporting, though.

    However, I don’t recall reading similar columns from the Journal about Obama’s wretched predecessor now choosing to lead or whatever after he waited six days to respond to the attemped plane attack by would-be show bomber Richard Reid, as noted here (see Myth 3).

    Lather, rinse, repeat…

    Update 4/22/13: And I somehow missed this earlier “gem” from Stephens.

    Update 4/14/17: Stephens recently won a gig as a columnist at The Old Gray Lady, where he no doubt will challenge BoBo as the leading white male practitioner of talking down to women, people of color and LGBTQ gender preferences – I think this is a good column to link to as a rejoinder of sorts (h/t Atrios).

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Thursday Mashup (10/11/12)

October 11, 2012
  • Gosh, Willard Mitt Romney just looks so presidential here, doesn’t he?…

    Mitt Romney called Monday for a change of course in America’s Middle East policy, accusing President Obama of sitting on the sidelines in the face of a “profound upheaval” across the region. The Republican nominee pledged that, if elected, he would prosecute a far more engaged foreign policy, including helping to arm the opposition in Syria’s bloody civil war.

    “Hope is not a strategy,” Romney said.

    In response, Juan Cole, who I’m sure has forgotten more about Syria and the Middle East in general than Romney will ever know, outlines at least ten reasons here why arming the Syrian rebels would be a terrible idea (let’s see, one of the rebel groups is affiliated with al Qaeda; another, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, is pals with Hamas; flooding the region with weapons makes for an already volatile mix given Israel’s continued intransigence on those godawful settlements, etc.).

    Oh, and it’s not as if Romney’s supposed foreign policy strategy is so different from Obama’s anyway (I mean, to the extent that we can trust Romney at all on this subject, as noted here…and it looks like Romney shook that Etch-a-Sketch, or something, on this issue here).

    Not to be outdone, though, Romney’s fellow U.S. House Repugs carried out another little dog-and-pony show in lieu of actual governance here concerning the attack on our embassy in Libya and the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

    Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the U.S. House responsible for funding government operations? Such as security for our embassy personnel (with Repug Jason Chaffetz being dumb enough to give away the proverbial game here…and by the way, it looks like Chaffetz stepped in deep doo-doo again here)?

  • Next, I give you someone named Jay Greene, who claims to be “a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute” (not something I would advertise if it were me, actually – here)…

    Last week’s presidential debate revealed one area of agreement between the candidates: We need more teachers. “Let’s hire another hundred thousand math and science teachers,” proposed President Obama, adding that “Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers.”

    Mr. Romney quickly replied, “I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers.” He just opposes earmarking federal dollars for this purpose, believing instead that “every school district, every state should make that decision on their own.”

    As noted here and here, Willard Mitt mocked Obama for wanting to hire more teachers, even though, as noted here, 100,000 teachers have lost their jobs over the prior year (yikes!).

    Continuing with Greene…

    Let’s hope state and local officials have that discretion—and choose to shrink the teacher labor force rather than expand it. Hiring hundreds of thousands of additional teachers won’t improve student achievement. It will bankrupt state and local governments, whose finances are already buckling under bloated payrolls with overly generous and grossly underfunded pension and health benefits.

    Concerning those “overly generous and grossly underfunded pension and health benefits”…well, they were “grossly underfunded” for a reason – namely because states were legally obligated to contribute matching amounts but refused to do so (here).

    And get a load of this generalization from Greene…

    Most people expect that more individualized attention from teachers should help students learn. The problem is that expanding the number of hires means dipping deeper into the potential teacher labor pool. That means additional teachers are likely to be weaker than current ones.

    Couldn’t you say that about every occupation if you wanted to, then? Besides, what about degreed teachers who aren’t able to find work in their profession, but instead are working other jobs (such as at Lowe’s, Wal-Mart or Applebee’s until, hopefully, a legitimate teaching job opens up)?

    Also…

    Then there is the trade-off between labor and capital. Instead of hiring an army of additional teachers, we could have developed and purchased innovative educational technology. The path to productivity increases in every industry comes through the substitution of capital for labor. We use better and cheaper technology so that we don’t need as many expensive people. But education has gone in the opposite direction, making little use of technology and hiring many more expensive people.

    I would be shocked to find out if this guy actually had a son or daughter attending a public or parochial school. Having a state-of-the-art white board doesn’t mean a damn thing if all the teacher does is use it for presentations while he/she sits at their desk and catches up on Facebook or their Email instead of using their people skills and training to, y’know, actually teach their students.

    As usual, a Repug thinks so little of anything related to liberal arts that they think technology can totally replace the function that a certain individual committed a great deal of money and a significant amount of time to learn about as part of their course of study.

    One more thing…here is a reminder here that teachers, as well as public sector workers in general, do indeed contribute to economic growth (silly to feel compelled to point that out, but we are where we are – and as long as Greene said that Obama’s call for more teachers is a “Solyndra-like solution”…an idiotic statement because there is no comparison between the Solyndra loan and teachers…the following should be noted from here).

  • Continuing, I give you Fix Noise “Democrat” Pat Caddell here

    A few weeks ago I wrote a piece which was called “The Audacity of Cronyism ” in Breitbart, and my talk today is “The Audacity of Corruption.” What I pointed out was, that it was appalling that Valerie Jarrett had a Secret Service detail. A staff member in the White House who is a senior aide and has a full Secret Service detail, even while on vacation, and nobody in the press had asked why. That has become more poignant, as I said, last week, when we discovered that we had an American ambassador, on the anniversary of 9/11, who was without adequate security—while she still has a Secret Service detail assigned to her full-time, at a massive cost, and no one in the media has gone to ask why.

    This tells us, among other things, that there were multiple teams of armed guards at the Libyan consulate. Also, Dubya designated more of his appointees for Secret Service protection than Obama, as noted here (and yes, this is a recording)

    And based on this, if Caddell is a “Democrat,” then I’m the illegitimate love child of William F. Buckley (and rest assured that I’m not).

  • Further, it’s time to pick the proverbial low-hanging fruit with Thomas Sowell (here, he decries the “name calling” of President Obama and his supporters)…

    In response, Sowell referred to “green bigot” environmentalists here, called Teresa Heinz-Kerry “rich white trash” here, and (just for kicks I suppose) called for a military coup here.

    As usual, a conservative looks in the mirror and sees the reflection of everyone but him (or her) self.

  • Moving on, it looks like Catholics supposedly aren’t supporting Obama after all (oh noes!) according to “The Catholic Association” (here).

    Meanwhile, this Pew poll tells a very different story (praise the Lord!).

  • Finally, I give you the following from The Hill (here)…

    House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is questioning Obama administration financial support for green energy companies in former Vice President Al Gore’s portfolio, calling it part of a “disturbing pattern.”

    Upton is quoted in a Washington Post story on Gore’s success as an investor in green technology companies, which the Post reports has helped boost Gore’s wealth to an estimated $100 million.

    The Post reports that 14 green tech companies that Gore invested in directly or indirectly have “benefited from more than $2.5 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks, part of President Obama’s historic push to seed a U.S. renewable-energy industry with public money.”

    Upton, a frequent critic of federal green energy support, calls the aid “reflective of a disturbing pattern that those closest to the president have been rewarded with billions of taxpayer dollars . . . and benefited from the administration’s green bonanza in the rush to spend stimulus cash.”

    This is utterly farcical, of course, but there’s a method to Upton’s wingnuttery, in case we had any doubt about that.

    Here, Upton called for end to oil subsidies after repeatedly voting to preserve them; this tells us that he has received about $144 K from the oil and gas sector in the way of campaign contributions – and Upton is chair of the House Energy Subcommittee (can you say, “conflict of interest”?); and here, Upton claimed that the passage of the Affordable Care Law was the first occasion where legislation was passed with no support from the Repugs – the only problem is that the first Clinton budget, which ushered in the longest period of prosperity this country has seen (or maybe ever will see) was voted on the same way.

    I would say that one’s notion of a “disturbing pattern” is in the eye of the beholder, wouldn’t you?


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