Friday Mashup Part One (7/30/10)

July 30, 2010

  • 1) The Philadelphia Inquirer, in a shockingly sensible editorial today, tells us the following (here)…

    Former governors can choose many career paths. Some of them become college presidents. Some go on the lecture circuit.

    And then there’s Tom Ridge, who is set to become a paid shill for the natural-gas drillers swarming his native state.

    The Marcellus Shale Coalition, which represents natural-gas companies, has been negotiating to hire Ridge’s lobbying firm. The industry wants the ex-governor’s help with a campaign to educate the public about the benefits of drilling.

    It’s unclear how much Ridge will be paid, but he doesn’t come cheap. The tiny impoverished nation of Albania, for example, reportedly paid Ridge nearly $500,000 per year to lobby for its membership in NATO.

    Ex-governors are free to enrich themselves however they choose. But there’s something obnoxious about a former governor talking up an industry that poses serious environmental risks, and has already spent millions on lobbying to forestall paying its fair share of state business taxes.

    Yep, I would tend to agree with that, especially since, as noted here about the Josh Fox film “Gasland” on this subject, the industry has already wrought havoc with the lives of many across this country by fouling their water supplies in the process of trying to extract natural gas.

    And I can just picture Ridge trying to implement a color-coded alert system like the one he put into place when he headed up the DHS under Bushco – my guess is that it would go something like this:

    LOW – Water OK for drinking, washing clothes, bathing, etc…enjoy it while you can.

    GUARDED – Slimy film? What slimy film?

    ELEVATED – Hey, let’s not forget that xylene and naphthalene can break down those pesky algae and mineral deposits, OK?

    HIGH – Now I know what happened to the “wastewater” from the EOG Resources blowout.

    SEVERE – Don’t stand too close when you turn on your tap, or else…well, ever see “Ghost Rider”?

    This further amplifies my concerns…the post by Amy Wilson tells us that Stone Energy (which, God help us, could be “the BP of natural gas extraction” as one commenter put it) was granted the first permitted, non-test well approved in the Delaware River Basin, a watershed that serves 15 million people, including the Greater Philadelphia area.

    As far as I’m concerned, we can’t talk seriously in this state about natural gas exploration under we do a hell of a lot more research into this subject than we already have (another fight in the ongoing battle against “disaster capitalism”).

  • 2) Turning to our media, it seems that Christiane Amanpour will debut as host of “This Week” this Sunday morning, replacing Jake Tapper and George Stephanopoulos.

    And as you might expect, Tucker Carlson’s crayon scribble page is already throwing stones at her (here)…

    Her selection for the post, however, has caused a surprisingly potent backlash. Putting aside issues such as the suitability of a foreign affairs reporter for a show on domestic politics and reports of behind-the scenes opposition to her appointment, most of the criticism has concentrated on Amanpour’s political views and her allegedly biased reporting. In one form or another, this kind of criticism has dogged Amanpour for a very long time.

    ZOMG! A well-traveled journalist interjecting informed commentary into news coverage, instead of reading from a teleprompter like a well-coiffed corporate media cipher (wonder how loud and long Edward R. Murrow would have laughed at characters like Carlson in response)?

    And I realize that a conservative screaming about bias is about as newsworthy as a rooster cackling at the sunrise, but still, let’s look at what Carlson is alleging here.

    So he based his charge on a New York Times story here on Amanpour, in which the profile quotes an anonymous “insider” who “has doubts about Amanpour’s commitment to objective journalism”…

    “I have winced at some of what she’s done, at what used to be called advocacy journalism,” (the source) said. “She was sitting in Belgrade when that marketplace massacre happened (in the ‘90s), and she went on the air to say that the Serbs had probably done it. There was no way she could have known that. She was assuming an omniscience which no journalist has.”

    So basically, the charge that Amanpour’s reporting is “biased,” which has thus caused “a surprisingly potent backlash,” is based on a single eyewitness account in a New York Times story.

    And by the way, did I note that the Times story was written in 1994?

    I’ll tell you what, Tucker: if Amanpour opens the show with film footage of George W. Bush morphing into Che Guevara, and the set for the show now contains a poster of Ward Churchill, and she professes her undying love for Al Gore, then talk to us about “bias,” OK?

    Otherwise, shut up and give her a chance.

  • Update 8/2/10: I see Carlson has company (here – h/t Atrios).

  • 3) And speaking of heroic women (I consider them to be that, anyway), Paul Krugman, in yet another spot-on column about why President Obama hasn’t done much to energize his “base” in spite of all of his accomplishments (and no, I don’t think it’s excusable for anyone to sit on his or her hands, as it were, in response – what Dante Atkins sez here in that vein), mentions Frances Perkins, who, as noted here…

    …championed many aspects of the New Deal, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration and its successor the Federal Works Agency, and the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act. With The Social Security Act she established unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans. She pushed to reduce workplace accidents and helped craft laws against child labor. Through the Fair Labor Standards Act, she established the first minimum wage and overtime laws for American workers, and defined the standard 40-hour work week. She formed governmental policy for working with labor unions and helped to alleviate strikes by way of the United States Conciliation Service, Perkins resisted having American women be drafted to serve the military in World War II so that they could enter the civilian workforce in greatly expanded numbers.[2]

    There have been so many hard-won battles by progressives in the name of fair wages and working conditions as well as health and retirement benefits that it’s really difficult to list them all here, though, as you can see above, Perkins was involved in a lot of them.

    And I don’t know of any other secular figure in our public life who is recognized by an organized religion as Perkins is; Wikipedia tells us that she is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on May 13.

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    Monday Mashup Part 1 (8/31/09)

    August 31, 2009

    Terra

  • I guess you can file this under a new category for this site called “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.”

    With all of the back-and-forth from former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge about whether or not he was pressured by Bushco to mess around with the “color-coded alert” system (he admitted he was here, but more recently, he seemed to be “walking back” that one here), I realized that it was incumbent upon yours truly to be more aware of developments concerning this vital function of our government (and I feel much better about the fact that this is now under the control of Janet Napolitano versus Mike “City of Louisiana” Chertoff).

    So, to what corporate media outlet should I venture to satisfy my thirst for knowledge? Why, Fix Noise of course!

    And as I looked over their site’s special section on Homeland Security, I found the following:

    Dubya_DHS
    As you can see, they are stuck in a pre-1/21/09 time warp.

    And that reminds me of the quote that Jessica Lange, portraying the legendary country music singer Patsy Cline in “Sweet Dreams,” once uttered to her husband Charley Dick, played by Ed Harris: “Well, people in hell want ice water; that don’t mean that they get it.”

  • jeb21rq

  • And speaking of the Bushes, Michael Barone wrote the following today at creators.com about the Kennedys (there’s a connection I think, and I’ll get to it; the title of Barone’s piece is “The End of America’s Experiment With Royalty”)…

    Other political families — the Adamses, the Harrisons, the Tafts — produced multiple generations of national politicians but generated nothing like mass enthusiasm. The sons of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt set out on political careers but never got very far.

    The Kennedy boys — John, Robert and Edward — were different. They won three elections to the House, 12 elections to the Senate and one to the presidency. From 1960 to 1980, they were major presences, active or off to the side, in every presidential contest.

    The next generation of Kennedys has had mostly disappointing political careers. Joe Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy made it to Congress; Kathleen Townsend and Mark Shriver failed to do so; Maria Shriver made it to the governor’s mansion in Sacramento, but Townsend failed to do so in Annapolis; Caroline Kennedy will not follow her father and uncles in the Senate.

    I suspect the royal status the Kennedys temporarily achieved in our democratic republic will seem bizarre to future generations. Perhaps it already does even for those of us who can remember the 1960s.

    I realize that the whole “royalty” thing concerning the Kennedys is all “sooo sixties,” as Barone observes (as in the “Mad Men” era as opposed to the Woodstock era), but there are some who believe that there is still somewhat of a legend concerning another family that has lived in the presidential spotlight for twelve years, including the last eight. And it’s not as if Barone hasn’t done his part to perpetuate that “dynasty” also.

    This tells us of Barone urging Dubya to appoint his brother Jeb as a “special envoy to the Americas” (with Barone channeling Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council for the Americas), and this tells us of Barone urging Florida governor Charlie Crist to appoint Jeb Bush as a senator to fill the seat vacated by Mel Martinez prior to a special election (at least Ted Kennedy won his seat in ’62 in another special election without benefit of an appointment…I had some thoughts on Jeb Bush also here).

    I wonder if the fact that Barone has taken it upon himself to act as the Jeb Bush Employment Agency “will seem bizarre to future generations” also?

  • mccain_two

  • And finally, this story tells us that Sen. John McCain…

    …(said) his private comments about harsh interrogation methods were misrepresented by the Bush Administration in a recently released legal document intended to justify a six-day course of sleep deprivation for one CIA detainee in November 2007…

    The newly declassified memo by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel mentions a secret briefing McCain and other members of Congress received sometime before Oct. 17, 2006. The memo says the lawmakers were told about six CIA interrogation techniques, including prolonged sleep deprivation.

    The memo recounts McCain’s reaction this way: “[S]everal Members of Congress, including the full memberships of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and Senator McCain, were briefed by General Michael Hayden, Director of the CIA, on the six techniques that we discuss herein,” writes Steven G. Bradbury, a deputy assistant attorney general in the July 20, 2007, memo, which cites a CIA summary of the discussions. “In those classified and private conversations, none of the Members expressed the view that the CIA detention and interrogation program should be stopped, or that the techniques at issue were inappropriate.” (See TIME’s photos: “The (Mis)Adventures of the CIA.”)

    A spokeswoman for McCain said that contrary to those claims, the Arizona Republican repeatedly raised objections in private meetings, including one with Hayden, about the use of sleep deprivation as an interrogation technique. “Senator McCain clearly made the case that he was opposed to unduly coercive techniques, especially when used in combination or taken too far – including sleep deprivation,” says Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for McCain.

    It’s commendable that Sen. McCain voiced his objections to sleep deprivation as a “harsh interrogation method” (again, assuming his spokeswoman is telling us what really happened). However, as noted here from February ’08…

    …Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former prisoner of war, has spoken strongly in favor of implementing the Army Field Manual standard (for all intelligence agencies also…a standard that bans water boarding, by the way). When confronted today with the decision of whether to stick with his conscience or cave to the right wing, McCain chose to ditch his principles and instead vote(d) to preserve water boarding:

    I realize our corporate media would collectively wet its metaphorical pants, as it were, as opposed to calling out this man on such inconsistencies (I’d give fluffyhead David Gregory a picture of our 7th president if he ever did that), so it is up to us filthy, unkempt liberal blogger types such as yours truly to do so.

    McCain deserves our eternal thanks and gratitude for his sacrifice on behalf of our country. But that doesn’t mean that, when it comes to his votes in public service, the “hero” narrative should obscure some rather craven political calculation that ends up endangering our military, which would be more subject to the “harsh methods” we used on others in defiance of laws we signed ourselves years ago.


  • Admiral Joe Aims For The Big Chair

    May 4, 2009

    sestak_familyAs reported here by TPM, Dem PA-07 U.S. House Rep. Joe Sestak will meet with Andy Stern of the Service Employees International Union, with more details forthcoming I’m sure. This comes after Sestak claimed he was “thinking of getting in” to the PA Senate race next year in which Snarlin’ Arlen Specter plans to defend his seat against Pat Toomey (and my suspicion is that, if former governor Tom Ridge decides to “primary” Toomey, he’s going to crash and burn as he finds out why Specter bailed on the Repugs in the first place – Smerky, among other people, was puffing up Ridge recently here).

    I have to admit that I’m pretty torn on Admiral Joe. I followed his exploits fairly closely for a time after he was elected in 2006, but I bailed on him for the reasons noted here. Basically, he bombed on the three big issues important to yours truly: 1) Impeaching Bush (of course, he had a lot of company there); 2) Unwarranted surveillance and the NSA data mining that took place before 9/11 and continues, with the Obama Administration moving to quash related lawsuits; and 3) Supporting and enforcing Iraq withdrawal timelines tied to war funding to the fullest extend possible.

    However, I think it’s important that we pitch in on his behalf all the same (as well as Joe Torsella – this links to his site and Sestak’s, where Admiral Joe leaves a none-too-subtle hint of his intentions). For all my misgivings, Sestak has still voted as a credible Democrat, as Howie Klein notes here.

    And it is plainly obvious by now, as Think Progress points out here, that Arlen Specter, despite his professed loyalty to his new party, has no intention whatsoever of voting, or even acting, like a Democrat. He deserves not one speck of the support committed to him from the party establishment of this state, as well as anyone in D.C. who has pledged to help him. It should come as no surprise to anyone that his move is based on crass partisan political maneuvering and not one thing more.

    Update 5/5/09: God, Arlen, you sooo need to be “primaried” (here…and he regrets voting for the racist who took his place on the Judiciary Committee here – huh?).


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