Thursday Mashup (1/10/13)

January 10, 2013
  • This post at The Hill tells us the following…

    The 112th Congress adjourned last week without reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The failure of Congress to pass either the Senate- or House-approved (S. 1925 or H.R. 4970) versions was the by-product both of partisan wrangling, as well as acerbic personal attacks that were later derided by the Huffington Post as “incendiary and extreme.”

    But the last-ditch negotiations between Vice President Joe Biden and House Leader Eric Cantor side-stepped the most important question of all: Are VAWA-funded programs working?

    Most VAWA funds are directed to beefing up the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence. But according to Angela Moore Parmley, PhD of the Department of Justice, “We have no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women.”

    Really? Then how come we learn from here that “VAWA has dramatically reduced intimate partner violence: the Department of Justice estimates the reduction at 64% from 1993 to 2010. “

    And as noted here

    Since 1994, this landmark legislation has been funding clinics, shelters, and hotlines for victims in crisis across the country, and provided tremendously important tools for law enforcement to crack down on abusers and rapists. Over the past year, VAWA has trained 500,000 law enforcement officers and judicial officials, and provided a national crisis hotline that served 264,000 victims.

    The first Hill column with the anti-VAWA point of view was written by E. Everett Bartlett, president, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments.

    And yes, SAVE is indeed a right-wing “astroturf” group, as noted here. As Laura Basset of HuffPo reported, SAVE’s treasurer “has a major financial interest in reducing immigrant protections,” with SAVE Services having strong ties to a group called Encounter International, which, in one case, matched an American with a Russian bride who claimed that she was beaten regularly by him (not going to pretend that I know the whole story, but I only want to point out what is at least a potential for conflict of interest).

    As far as I’m concerned, SAVE can participate in whatever legal business it chooses. However, it shouldn’t pass itself off as an advocacy group as well.

  • Next, Mikey the Beloved is back for the new Congressional session, this time with a gimmicky bill to freeze the pay of federal workers (here).

    Want to know why this is a bad idea? From here

    Federal employees already have sacrificed $103 billion over 10 years to deficit reduction $60 billion of which has come directly from freezing salaries in 2011 and 2012. President Obama has delayed until April the already-paltry 0.5% adjustment proposed for 2013, so the actual raise would amount to just 0.25% for the fiscal year. Yet even that tiny increase isn’t harsh enough for Congressman Fitzpatrick.

    Rep. Fitzpatrick has decided to add insult to injury, literally, by maligning the federal employees in his district and proposing to punish all federal workers with an entirely unwarranted extension of the pay freeze for all of 2013.

    Reducing the salaries of federal workers through an extended pay freeze is a cheap political ploy, AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. Not only does it inflict tremendous damage on the families of these modestly paid workers, more than half of whom are veterans, but it also hits the communities where these employees live, since they will continue to be unable to afford any kind of economic activity beyond paying for the bare necessities of living.

    Gosh, what a shame those pesky government workers can’t pull down $175K a year like you do, huh Mikey?

    And Fitzpatrick’s U.S. House pal Bob Latta is opposing a medical device tax in the Affordable Care Act (here).

    As noted here, though…

    I heard convincing arguments in favor of the tax from … several executives of medical device making firms in Massachusetts! Bob DeAngelis, an executive with Katahdin, told me that he had no problem with the tax and didn’t see it having much impact on his 150-person firm. “I’m not terribly upset we’re going to have a tax on medical devices. I think it’s overblown,” he said. “Scott Brown says we ‘shouldn’t be taxing the job creators.’ That sounds great but what does that mean. He’s not talking about me. I’m going to hire based on people buying my product.

    Oh, and as noted here, Latta is pretty stinky on the environment too, voting against increased federal protections for Lake Erie, which is a bit of a problem with Latta being from Ohio and all.

  • Further Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Teahadist) agreed recently here with Flush Limbore when the leader of Johnson’s political party drew a line connecting marriage equality with pedophilia.

    I realize this is “water wet, sky blue” stuff, but this is particularly repugnant for Johnson, who is a thoroughly loathsome character in his own right, partly because he once spoke out in support of the Green Bay, WI diocese while it sought to shield itself from litigation over pedophile priests (here).

  • Nixon_YMQUD00Z

  • Continuing, it should be noted that yesterday was the 100th birthday of a certain Richard Milhous Nixon (I also had some related video here), and with that in mind, Fix Noise “Democrat” Doug Schoen referred to Nixon as a “liberal” here (if he were still alive, Number 37 would no doubt have brought the full weight on the Feds down on that toad Schoen in response for such an alleged calumny, which is a comment on Nixon’s paranoia and authoritarian streak more than anything else).

    And central to Schoen’s largely specious argument is the following…

    Though Nixon, and other Republicans in the 1970s, would never have expressed it in this way, our 37th president was a pro-big government, pro-public spending, and pro-social safety net president.

    Nixon was not only a fervent supporter of the Clean Air Act, the first federal law designed to control air pollution on the national level; he also gave us the Environmental Protection Agency. The creation of the EPA represented an expansion of government that would face fierce opposition were it being debated today. The EPA is also one of the agencies on Capitol Hill that the business community most detests—along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which polices working conditions. OSHA is another Nixon creation.

    Well, I’m not sure exactly how “fervent” Nixon was about clean air, but as far as the Clean Water Act is concerned, Nixon was so “fervent” that he vetoed it, and when Congress overrode his veto, Nixon impounded the money (more on Nixon and the environment is here, and here too, to be fair).

    Basically, from a distance, Nixon looks like a giant on the environment partly because our problems with air and water pollution in particular were so horrific that all he had to do was not stand in the way of progress originated by others to look like he was accomplishing something.

    If you want to give Nixon props for being somewhat “green,” I suppose that’s OK, though (more of a comment on future ruinous Repug presidents by comparison, though: mainly The Sainted Ronnie R and his “son”). However, let’s not forget one of Nixon’s most enduring legacies that haunt us to this day, and that is his nurturing and perpetuating of white rage in pursuit of what now looks to be fleeting electoral glory for his party.

  • And as an example of what Tricky Dick has wrought, I give you this bit of pointless fluff from the Roger Ailes BS Factory (here), criticizing Dem U.S. House Rep Sheila Jackson-Lee for saying that entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security are “earned” (with the word in quotes to imply that Jackson-Lee is wrong, which she isn’t – more info here…kind of ridiculous that it still has to be pointed out after all this time).

    And since we’re talking about the TV and online equivalent of rabies after all, I’d like to call attention to the following comment…

    SJL_Gorilla_010713

    And this was one of about 4-5 gorilla-related comments (and the one I highlighted actually got about 5 “likes”).

    Stay classy, Foxies!

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    Friday Mashup (12/28/12)

    December 28, 2012

    Bushmaster

  • I was wondering about something; given the success of the gun buyback days in Los Angeles, CA (here) and Bridgeport, CT (here), why can’t we have a national gun buyback day? Turn in your gun and you get a gift card for $100 to spend wherever you want. Can’t help but be highly stimulative from an economic point of view, people (and right around the time when everyone is running around like the proverbial chickens with their heads cut off over the OMIGOD THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF!!! – I thought Froma Harrop of the Providence, RI Journal had a good column on that here).

    “WHAA??? A NATIONAL gun buyback day? That’s more liberal crazy talk!!!”

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh).

  • And speaking of our alleged impending financial doom, our mistake of a U.S. House Rep from PA-08 recently took the time to send me a very professional written correspondence on that subject (of course, what he said was garbage, but at least it looked nice). In it, Mikey claimed that allowing the tax rates from those stinking Bush tax cuts to expire “would result in a tax increase of $4,400 per return in the 8th Congressional District.”

    Notice that Mikey the Beloved didn’t say “per person.” My guess is that he said “per return” to include any businesses in the 8th district, and I’m not terribly sympathetic to the tax liabilities of business since they can get a lot more creative with deductions and ways to shelter their money than I as a member of the “99 percent” can.

    Mikey also said that allowing those stinking tax cuts to expire would “cost 700,000 jobs” according to an analysis from the accounting firm of Ernst and Young.

    Really? As Factcheck.org tells us here

    There’s an important caveat in there that some may miss; the projection assumes the revenue generated by raising taxes on those making over $250,000 would be “used to finance additional government spending.” The report did not examine what would happen if the additional revenue were used to reduce future federal deficits. As we noted when the report was raised during the vice presidential debate, Moody’s chief economist, Mark Zandi, called that omission “odd” and said, “It seems to me that is the more relevant scenario. And my sense is that if they did, the results would be very different.”

    Also…

    There’s another small-print caveat to the Ernst & Young report, the definition of “long run” (when the job losses would supposedly hit). A footnote at the bottom of the report explains that “roughly two-third to three-quarters of the long-run effect is reached within a decade.” In other words, when the report cites the loss of 700,000 jobs, a quarter to a third of those job losses would happen more than a decade from now.

    Also, this tells us that someone named Gary Shapiro is upset here because he thinks, in response to all the “cliff” stuff, we’re going to abandon HR 3606, which is a crowd-funding initiative to try and kick-start job creation (I get concerned about this because I don’t think the proper oversight exists).

    We are talking about HR 3606, right? The bill that President Obama signed into law in April here? That HR 3606?

    Oh, and another thing, Mikey – if you supposedly care so much about the OMIGOD FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF!!! so much, then how come you and your U.S. House “leadership” aren’t in DC right now trying to do something about it (here)?

  • Next, I have to admit that I’m getting a laugh out of the wingnuts’ latest fit of pique, and that would be over CNN’s Piers Morgan and his calling out of the gun nuts for their opposition to any firearms regulation whatsoever (here – more on the petition by James Taranto of the Murdoch Street Journal to get Morgan tossed out of the country follows)….

    “British Citizen and CNN television host Piers Morgan is engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment. We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights,” the drafters of the petition wrote in their introductory statement.

    The petition has already netted more than 13,000 signatures one day after its launch, putting it well on pace to reach its goal of 25,000. That’s the threshold at which the Obama administration has promised to respond to online petitions submitted on the White House website, provided they reach that number in 30 days.

    “Ironic U.S. gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking 2nd Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?,” Morgan tweeted.

    “Your opinion is protected, your presence in the U.S. is not. See Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972),” Taranto replied to Morgan.

    As noted here, Richard Kleindienst was Attorney General under the Nixon Administration (a victim of the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” over Watergate). He was also a litigant in the suit of Kleindienst v. Mandel, in which the U.S. AG was told that he had the power to bar someone’s entry into the U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.

    That had more than a little bit to do with the fact that Belgian journalist Ernest Mandel was a communist sympathizer (anathema back in 1952), which, last I checked, Piers Morgan is not in any way, shape or form.

    Silly wingnuts (and here is an update – too funny).

  • Continuing, this tells that that Number 44 was supposedly “humiliated” because the U.S. was not allowed to join the Regional Co-operative Economic Partnership (RCEP) with Asian countries.

    Meanwhile, this tells us the following…

    The notable absence of the United States should not signal alarm. The RCEP permits external countries to join later and does not prohibit members from acceding to other free-trade groupings, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in which the United States is active.

    Besides, this tells us how Obama made an overture to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in ’09 after he was sworn in – the U.S. was denied entry, but it’s smart to keep a wary eye on this bunch – just file it under this (the SCO was formed in response to #43’s bungled war in Afghanistan…not saying we shouldn’t have gone after bin Laden and it’s possible the SCO would have formed regardless, but let’s just take it as a given that Obama’s wretched predecessor’s actions also gave rise to international responses that aren’t what we wanted).

  • Further, John Stossel wastes our time as follows at clownhall.com (here)…

    (Bill) Gates walks in the footprints of earlier creators, like John D. Rockefeller, who got rich by lowering the price of oil products, and Cornelius Vanderbilt, who did the same for transportation. The clueless media called them robber barons, but they were neither robbers nor barons.

    Call them whatever you want, but let me present the following in response.

    This tells us of the Ludlow Massacre in 1914 in response to oppressive mining conditions for those under the employ of John D. Rockefeller (Want to know where the eight-hour work day and child labor laws came from? As a result of this, which was called the deadliest labor strike in U.S. history, with anywhere from 69 to 199 fatalities).

    This tells us about the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, which actually was set in motion by Vanderbilt the year before by a 10 percent wage cut workers suffered during the century’s worst depression (and it didn’t help that all four major rail lines colluded in underpaying their work force). By the time the strike hit, Vanderbilt had died, but the damage was done.

    Once can only assume that Stossel is continuing his recovery from the head slap he endured from wrestler David Schultz; that could explain this fit of crackpot history.

  • Finally (and speaking once more of sports), Dennis Miller (of all people) recently stated as follows here

    On his program Monday, comedian and radio talk show host Dennis Miller took on the NFL for micromanaging the game in the name of safety.

    Miller’s comments were inspired by a cover story in Time magazine in which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell discussed a proposal to eliminate the kickoff to reduce neck injuries.

    To Miller, the NFL’s adjustments have gotten out of hand. And it may be time, he said, to stop tinkering with the rules and just start all over with a new game.

    “I think we should reboot this whole thing,” Miller said. “I think American football should be shut down by Congress. And I think they should build a new game so people who, and players too, I’ll be candid with you — I know a few players who think that it’s gotten so crazy and so politically correct and so out of its way and you can’t touch a quarterback, now they’re not happy with it.”

    “So why don’t we reboot?” he continued. “Why not let football remain in our memories as something — I don’t think it’s ever the ‘great American game’ like baseball, just because baseball is probably a better game and football innately does have the violence in it — but let’s stop it and leave it at that. Because it turned out that, as guys like [Bob] Costas and [Peter] King were the first to notice, it is a flawed exercise. And come up with a new game where people aren’t constantly thinking, ‘Oh my God. They are just contorting themselves to get around the fact that it is an innately violent game.’”

    I have to admit that this is a bit of an uncomfortable position for yours truly, feeling obliged to defend the oh-so-august-in-their-imaginations National Football League.

    I’m not a bit surprised to hear Miller come down on the sport, thought, when you recall that (as noted here), he was once voted the least favorite “Monday Night Football” personality of all time, coming in behind even O.J. “I’m Still Looking For The ‘Real’ Killer of My Ex-Wife And Her Boyfriend” Simpson.

    But of course, what else can you expect from a guy like Miller, who apparently has to prop up his “fake tough” bona fides by a stunt like this as well as attacking Sandra Fluke, as noted here, who has more character in her fingernail than Miller has in his entire body?


  • Friday Mashup (12/14/12)

    December 14, 2012
  • With all of the ongoing fiscal cliff kabuki going on, it was only a matter of time before deficit scold Judd Gregg made a return appearance, and he did so recently here

    In the parlance of John Wayne, it is a time to stand and deliver.

    “Stand” in this context means “stand up to” Republican and Democrat special interests.

    Both parties have, as part of their core elements, groups that do not wish to govern.

    Rather, they wish to stay in the corners of the ring and shout — artificially firing up their constituencies so that they can mine their followers for contributions and power.

    On the left, this is the cause of big labor and the AARP. On the right, it is the cause of the self-anointed definers of religious purity and the anti-tax cabal.

    These groups do not want action.

    That’s partly true, actually – no deal is better than a crappy one (oh, by the way, the last I checked, there was an “ic” in the name of the political party I support, as noted here).

    Oh, and did you know that Gregg helped kill the long-term care component of the Affordable Care Act, according to Charles Pierce here (and in case you don’t make it all the way to the end of either of the first two linked articles, allow me to point out that, since leaving the Senate, Gregg has taken up a nice cushy gig as an “international advisor” to Goldman Sachs…more on the “vampire squid,” as Matt Taibbi calls it, from here).

    And by the way, I could find no citation of John Wayne ever speaking the line “stand and deliver,” though Lee Marvin used it in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” in which Wayne co-starred (Marvin spoke the line to James Stewart).

  • Also, I know that continuing to pick on the media wing of the Republican Party is a bit of cruel sport at a certain point, but they do bring it upon themselves after all; as noted here, Obama campaign donor and Google ex-CEO Eric Schmidt (described as “creepy”) is attacked for sheltering money in Bermuda to avoid U.S. taxes.

    Didn’t we just finish an election where the nominee of the party Fox supports did the same thing in the Cayman Islands, as noted here?

    Boy, does our corporate media think we’re stoo-pid!

  • Continuing, Mike Moritz opined as follows at the Murdoch Street Journal (here)…

    After a seaside area has been designated as wilderness, when is it considered pristine enough by Washington’s standards? Is it after airplanes have been banned from flying over it? After electricity pylons and telephone cables have been removed, cars and bikers prohibited, the roads torn up? When hikers are forbidden access to trails, and kayakers, sailors and snorkelers banished from the water? When eucalyptus trees and other foreign species are eradicated? Or only after Miwok Indians’ arrowheads have been excavated and placed in a museum?

    Apparently it is none of the above, at least according to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Instead, he seems to think that turning a tiny portion of the lovely coastline of California’s Marin County (part of the National Seashore) into the first marine wilderness in the continental United States also requires destroying a family-run oyster operation that has conducted business in the same spot for eight decades.

    So Mr. Salazar recently ordered the business to close within 90 days—a decision that will spell ruin for the Lunny family, owners of Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm, which supplies 40% of California’s oysters.

    The Lunny family, which has made major improvements to the farm operation it took over in 2004, has been hounded for years by a National Park Service with a vendetta so chilling that any rancher on federal lands should be alarmed. Goaded by a clutch of environmental groups, the Park Service has resorted to tactics that might have come straight from Nixon’s dirty-tricks department. For instance, the Park Service alleged that the farm’s oyster boats disturbed the quiet of the area, but the measurements used were revealed to have been taken in New Jersey—and involved jet skis.

    Who exactly is Mike Moritz? As noted here, he’s a well-heeled venture capitalist with Sequoia Capital in Menlo Park, California; he also is a prominent supporter of President Obama, as Wikipedia tells us (I have a suspicion that there’s more going on here, but that’s all I have for the moment).

    More on this is noted in this story (and it looks like the person handling the litigation here is Dan Epstein of the conservative front group “Cause of Action”).

    To me, though (and based on this), Kevin Lunny took a gamble in 2004 and lost (and I think the whole “noise” thing involving the NJ park rangers is much ado about zilch).

    The bottom line, IMHO according to the Daily Kos post, is as follows (from the comments)…

    (The Point Reyes National Seashore, where Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm is located) was PRESERVED (in 1962 by JFK, and designated a marine wilderness in 1976). That means it’s for the environment and recreation FIRST. Ranching was specified in the enabling language as a compatible use so long as it was consistent with the natural resource values. Mariculture was NOT.

    To me, there’s the potential for a rather dangerous precedent to be set here. If the decision to keep the oyster farm stands, then that means that federal laws and treaties affecting natural resources can be overturned by states in the name of preserving commerce.

    And if that happens, does anyone in this country seriously think the right-wing desecration of the environment will come to a halt over the fate of an oyster bed?

  • Next, I just want to add a little more about the decision of the illustrious governor of the commonwealth of PA, Tom Corbett, to let the feds run the health care exchange instead of the state (here)…

    “Health care reform is too important to be achieved through haphazard planning. Pennsylvania taxpayers and businesses deserve more. They deserve informed decision making and a strong plan that responsibly uses taxpayer dollars,” Corbett said in the press release. “Therefore, I have decided not to pursue a state-based health insurance exchange at this time. It would be irresponsible to put Pennsylvanians on the hook for an unknown amount of money to operate a system under rules that have not been fully written.”

    In response, here is some background on the exchanges, which apparently Corbett had no desire to actually read. It should also be noted that both Michael Leavitt, the HSS Secretary under Dubya (who had issues like everyone else in Bushco, but actually “found the nut” for a change here) said that the states should set up the exchanges (with Repug former Senate Majority Leader – and MD – Bill Frist saying the same thing here…see the Leavitt note). In addition, this tells us that, as employers drop Medicare, more seniors are turning to the exchanges for care.

    Oh, and did I note that Corbett committed PA to running its own exchange here (in November of last year…near the bottom of the article)?

    And when it comes to PA and demagoguery on the health care law, you just know that Mikey the Beloved, our mistake of a U.S. Congressional Rep from PA-08, had to have a say (here…and how funny is it to hear a Teahadist like Mikey complaining about President Obama and his “ideology”)…

    (Fitzpatrick) said the scheduled reduction of about 30 percent in Medicare reimbursement payments to health providers at year’s end and the federal debt limit almost certain to be reached this winter should be part of current fiscal cliff negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.

    “Singling out one piece of the puzzle without seeing how all the other pieces can fit together, while politically expedient for some, is reckless and just bad policymaking,” Fitzpatrick said.

    In response, allow me to provide the following from here

    Now it is true that the law envisions reductions in Medicare. And some of that money will help pay for the rest of the law. And there are problems in some places with doctors not being willing to accept Medicare patients. But those two things aren’t actually connected.

    And if THEY aren’t connected on health care, then you’d better believe that the debt limit isn’t either (care for some oranges with your apples and pomegranates, Mikey?). And we are talking about health care here, aren’t we, Mikey?

    Continuing with the NPR story…

    The problem with Medicare pay for doctors actually predates passage of the health law by more than a decade — it’s a preexisting condition, if you will, (Harold Pollack, a professor of public health policy at the University of Chicago) says. “And every year, Congress has to go through the song and dance with something called the doctor fix to prevent Medicare fees from a fairly catastrophic reduction. That has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. Health reform does not cut physician fees.”

    But wait, there’s more (here)…

    (Fitzpatrick), in a statement issued jointly by 11 Republican members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, said Corbett made the right call (on the exchanges).

    “The President’s health care law was passed nearly three years ago and yet the Department of Health and Human Services has yet to issue clear guidance to states…”

    Really, Mikey? Try reading this once more (same link as the one for Corbett).

    There are times when I honestly don’t know how this thoroughly unprincipled liar can bear to look at himself in the mirror.

  • Further, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction,” as James Wolcott called him, is baaaack to claim, among other things, that Number 44 is going to get rid of the home mortgage interest deduction (here)…

    Such Obama supporters may soon notice that the new federal and state tax rates, the envisioned end to traditional deductions such as those for blue-state high taxes and for mortgage interest, and means testing for most government services are aimed precisely at themselves.

    Meanwhile, Obama’s proposal to get rid of the home mortgage interest deduction “hit a wall of resistance,” as noted here, for earners under $250 K (and may that continue to be the case).

  • Finally (and returning to Fix Noise)…well, it just wouldn’t be the season without more hilarity from this bunch, would it (here)…

    The 2012 White House “Holiday” card spotlights the Obama’s family Portuguese water dog — instead of Christmas.

    The black and white illustration was designed by Iowa artist Larassa Kabel and shows Bo the dog, wearing a scarf, while frolicking in the snow on the South Lawn of a blurred White House.

    The inside of the card reads:”This season, may your home be filled with family, friends, and the joy of the holidays.” The card is signed by the entire First Family — along with Bo’s paw print.

    Vanity Fair deemed this year’s Obama ‘Holiday’ card his best-ever in a posting titled, “Bo Obama: the True Meaning of Christmas.”

    Returning to the world of reality, this tells us the following…

    …White House holiday cards have not included the word ‘Christmas’ during the terms of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It was not included in the final six years of former President Ronald Reagan’s term. This year’s card (December 2005) does not mark a departure from the practices of recent previous administrations.

    And while we’re on the subject of the alleged “war on Christmas” by The Roger Ailes BS Factory, let’s not forget that we have a case of “physician, heal thyself” as noted here.

    God bless us every one.


  • Friday Mashup (11/30/12)

    December 1, 2012
  • To begin, let’s take on the “crazy” right away with Joseph Curl of the formerly Moonie Times (here – a little behind on some of this stuff, I’ll admit)…

    Sure, the president got his minions to drop the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent a couple months before the election (“See? It IS getting better!”). But bam, just like you can be sure that the one relative who drives you nuts will absolutely make it to your house for the holidays, new jobless claims skyrocketed right after Nov. 6, jumping to 439,000 — up 78,000 from the week before the election.

    Oh yes, that Kenyan Muslim socialist pre-zee-zint cooked the unemployment numbers to win the election. Horrors!

    I thought this was a good response to the Ohio/Pennsylvania thing; namely, the state unemployment numbers are a week behind the federal numbers, and the state numbers in question weren’t released until November 10th – the federal Sandy-influenced numbers were released on November 3rd, with New Jersey being the 3rd-highest state in unemployment behind Ohio and PA…a fortuitous break for Obama to be sure, but definitely not an “OMIGOD ANOTHER SCARY MUSLIM BLACK MAN CONSPIRACY!!!” (what matters is whether or not the numbers turn out to be a trend or an aberration, and how much the numbers are attributed to OMIGOD THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF!!!).

    With all of this in mind, Joe Nocera defends the Bureau of Labor Statistics here against the charge (made by Jack Welch and other greed heads) that Obama cooked the numbers (and I thought this was a good response also, with the trend lines providing the key details).

  • Next, this life form at clownhall.com tells us of the supposed “job killing” FDA-required menu labeling guidelines for calories stipulated in Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act (which allegedly requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, including franchises and perhaps some grocery stores, to post calorie information for all products on in-store menu boards).

    I’m not exactly sure how this could be deemed as an issue, since, as noted here, the FDA withdrew food menu guidelines as of January 2011.

  • Continuing, this article from the Murdoch Street Journal tells us the following…

    The former chief executive of Massey Energy Co. said in a rare interview that he has no immediate plans to return to the coal-mining business after a noncompete agreement expires at the end of the year.

    (Don) Blankenship has started a personal website and began posting again on Twitter.

    A controversial figure in the coal industry and West Virginia politics, (Blankenship) has largely kept himself out of the spotlight since retiring from Massey in December 2010, eight months after an explosion—the industry’s worst in 40 years—killed 29 workers at the company’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va.

    In recent weeks, the 62-year-old Mr. Blankenship has launched a red-white-and-blue-themed personal website and began posting again on Twitter, raising speculation that he might be preparing to launch a business venture or even a political campaign.

    Well well now, isn’t that interesting? Imagine the utter nightmare of a Senator Don Blankenship, people.

    In response, there’s a ton of garbage here on Blankenship, including telling us that he considers the science on climate change to be “humorous” (not surprising, given that Blankenship made his fortune in coal) and that mountaintop removal for coal mining is “small afterdamage”; we also learn that Massey disabled the mine methane monitors before the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, so that the miners could “continue to run coal.”

    And speaking of the disaster, Massey under Blankenship also denied time off to the friends of the victims working at the mines so they could go to the funerals (nice).

    Gosh, the campaign slogan just about writes itself, doesn’t it? Vote for Don Blankenship To Risk An Unnatural Death While The Planet Slowly Suffocates.

    I’ll bet the Teahadists are already planning campaign rallies.

  • Finally, fresh off his victory over Dem Kathy Boockvar in the election a few weeks ago, I give you the following involving our wet noodle Repug PA-08 U.S. House rep (here)…

    Just two days after the November election, members of progressive groups filed into Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s office and called on him to oppose cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of any budget deal.
    On Black Friday, as shoppers lined up at Oxford Valley Mall, many likely saw a 30-foot banner at the Woodbourne Road I-95 overpass, compliments of Pennsylvania Working Families that stated, “Tell Rep. Fitzpatrick: Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts.”

    In the meantime, large labor unions took out radio ads targeting Fitzpatrick and fellow Republican Pat Meehan to renew middle class tax breaks.

    Election? What election?

    Oh, I’m sorry – I forgot to point out that this column was written by Mikey’s designated stenographer Gary Weckselblatt (who apparently believes, like a typical Repug, that election losers ought to sit down and shut up, since their opinion no longer matters, as if it ever did to begin with…oh, and speaking of “what election?,” I give you this).

    Continuing…

    (Fitzpatrick) said Obama’s plan to raise rates on the wealthy “presents American families with false choices that lead to more economic stagnation.”

    He called for a “grand bargain” that resolves not only the expiring tax rates but a fix to avoid the Medicare physician payment cuts and the looming debt ceiling.

    “I will vote for a plan which is bipartisan in nature that does not cost jobs,” he said. “My district demands we consider all the options, and to earn my vote any deal presented to Congress must present a vision for putting middle income families back on the path for stability and prosperity. And it must not cost jobs.”

    Earlier this year, the Senate voted to extend tax breaks for all but the top wage earners. The House voted to keep the rates for all.

    Asked if at the deadline he would support a version of the Senate plan to protect a potential hit to the middle class, Fitzpatrick said “call me then … you’re asking me a theoretical question.”

    What a profile in courage, my fellow prisoners.

    In response, 350 economists called for investment in jobs instead of “austerity” (which Mikey is basically calling for more of) here (including passage of the American Jobs Act, which continues to gather dust due to inaction from Mikey and his Repug pals in the House). And this is actually better evidence than the prior link that raising the top marginal rate would help job growth, not hurt it.

    And in a related story, as they say (concerning the “A” word), Pastor Gerson pontificates as follows here

    America is entering a period of prolonged austerity. The entitlement commitments made by past generations have been rendered untenable by demographics and health cost inflation. The problem is no one’s particular fault…

    Pardon me while I gag.

    For the reality point of view in response, former Reaganite Bruce Bartlett tells us the following here

    Because of the large deficits Mr. Bush bequeathed Mr. Obama – on Jan. 8, 2009, the C.B.O. projected a deficit for the year of $1.3 trillion that didn’t include any Obama policies – Congress was deeply reluctant to enact a stimulus larger than $787 billion, even though President Obama’s economic advisers thought that one at least twice as large was necessary to turn the economy around. The opposition of every Republican to the 2009 stimulus was a major factor in its inadequate size.

    By way of analogy, suppose you go to your doctor with an illness. He correctly diagnoses it and prescribes the right medicine, but for some reason you are given a dosage only half as large as required. The medicine was enough to improve your condition, but not enough to cure you. You remain sick although you feel better and will remain so until you finally get a full dosage of the proper medicine or your body is able to cure itself, which might take years.
    Note that in this analogy the medicine was properly prescribed; only the dosage was wrong. It would be incorrect to blame the medicine because you are still sick.

    The Republican economists nevertheless blame the medicine itself for the failure of the economy to respond to President Obama’s prescription.

    But it was Republican policies during the Bush administration that brought on the sickness and Republicans in Congress who have denied the economy an adequate dosage of the cure. Now they want to implicitly blame President Obama for causing the recession and the failure of stimulus to fix the problem, asserting that fiscal stimulus is per se ineffective.

    There is a word for this: chutzpah.

    I can think of some words myself, but I really do endeavor to keep this a profanity-free zone, so I’ll just let that go for now (and this tells us that the development by “no one’s particular fault,” according to Gerson, is hammering state economies). And for good measure, Professor Krugman chimes in as follows from here

    …the economic doctrine that demands austerity also rationalizes social injustice and cruelty more broadly, and how this recommends it to authority, rings especially true.

    We might add an insight from another 20th-century economist, Michal Kalecki, who wrote a penetrating 1943 essay on the importance to business leaders of the appeal to “confidence.” As long as there are no routes back to full employment except that of somehow restoring business confidence, he pointed out, business lobbies in effect have veto power over government actions: propose doing anything they dislike, such as raising taxes or enhancing workers’ bargaining power, and they can issue dire warnings that this will reduce confidence and plunge the nation into depression. But let monetary and fiscal policy be deployed to fight unemployment, and suddenly business confidence becomes less necessary, and the need to cater to capitalists’ concerns is much reduced.

    And Gerson actually has the utterly contemptible gall to use the words “austerity” and “morality” in the same sentence of his WaPo screed.

    By the way (returning to Mikey), I’m still waiting for The Treason-Alleging Liar to renounce his “no new taxes” pledge to Grover Norquist, who, last I checked, did not reside in Fitzpatrick’s congressional district (maybe Mikey could be spurred on by some of his Repug playmates who’ve found a collective spine on this issue, as noted here).


  • Wednesday Mashup (11/21/12)

    November 22, 2012

  • Yep, Thanksgiving will soon be upon us; one way to tell is that the Bucks County Courier Times ran its full-page ad for the Surplus City Gun Mart (well whaddaya know…a Yugo Zastava AK-47 PAP M70 is on sale for $675! Now here comes another angry comment thread started by a gun owner pissed off at me for not saying whether or not it was a full or semi-automatic).
  • Continuing, it looks like the punditocracy is still licking its collective wounds over the Repug election losses suffered two weeks ago – Ross Douthat opined as follows in the New York Times recently (here)…

    Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values — reason rather than superstition, tolerance rather than bigotry, equality rather than hierarchy. But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.

    Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do — one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

    Yes, you only need government if you’re “assimilating downward,” according to Douthat.

    Apparently it’s necessary for me to point out that one of our major political parties subjected this country earlier this year to all kinds of fear mongering about the supposed horrors of contraception (and I’ll note that again later), which would definitely help to reduce teen pregnancy (here – sorry to re-inflict “Little Ricky” on everybody again), and that same political party did all it could do to oppose the DREAM Act, which would encourage educational opportunity for Hispanics born of undocumented workers as a condition of citizenship (with the “E” in DREAM standing for “education” – hard to believe that Orrin Hatch was a co-sponsor of the original bill introduced in 2001 with Dick Durbin). And here’s a hint; that party isn’t the Democrats.

    I suppose it’s just “the soft bigotry of low expectations” for Douthat to assume that the only way Hispanics would support the Dems would be if they were getting a handout, but apparently that’s what we have here (with that awful phrase coined by Douthat’s fellow traveler and Bushie Michael Gerson, who, if nothing else, saw the need to reach out to Hispanics for real, albeit for political expediency, in a way Douthat apparently does not).

  • Next, I give you some true hilarity from Michael Barone of Irrational Spew Online (here)…

    Barack Obama attended more than 200 fundraisers for his presidential campaign, but he refrained from raising money for congressional Democrats.

    That proved to be a wise move for him, as were his strategists’ decisions to run heavy ad campaigns against Mitt Romney and to build an even more effective turnout machine in target states.

    But it proved to be less than helpful to his party. Democrats did gain two Senate seats thanks to clueless Republican candidates and Republicans’ failure to produce better turnout.

    But Democrats got beaten badly in races for the U.S. House and state legislatures. That’s clear when you compare the number of House Democrats after this year’s election with the number of House Democrats after 2008.

    In response, allow me to add this, which tells us that the U.S. House Repugs lost eight seats and the Dems picked up eight seats from 2010 until now (incremental progress to be sure, but progress all the same).

    Also, I’ve read some of my lefty brethren, including the folks doing God’s work at Think Progress, decrying the fact that the Repugs gerrymandered congressional districts to favor their party’s incumbents (and as noted here, when you look at net vote totals, the Dems were chosen more than the Repugs, though not by much). I have no doubt that the gerrymandering charge is true, but the Dems aren’t completely innocent on this either, since, as nearly as I can tell, that’s what happened to the gone-and-definitely-not-missed Repug U.S. House Rep Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland (I’m not going to tell you the Dems are perfect, just that the Repugs are better at seizing power and holding onto it by any means necessary).

  • Continuing, Jon Meacham of Time tells us the following; namely, that Number 44 should try to imitate Number 3’s second term (here)…

    At his core, from year to year and age to age, Thomas Jefferson was a politician who sought office and, once in office, tried to solve the problems of his day and set a course for the future within the constraints of his time and place. That he often did so with skill and effectiveness is a tribute to his life and is, I think, the heart of his legacy.

    Far be it for me to criticize a towering intellect like Jefferson, but I will only note the following from here; namely, that Jefferson’s second term wasn’t particularly “ducky.” The biggest thing he did wrong was to try and institute an embargo in an effort to remain neutral in France’s war with Great Britain; the embargo failed, severely hurting the commerce of the northeast states, and by basically entering the Napoleonic Wars on the anti-British side, Jefferson’s actions paved the way to our involvement in the War of 1812.

    Every president in my experience who is elected to a second term faces some kind of travail, either of his own making or not. And believe me when I tell you that I don’t wish that on President Obama, since he has already inherited enough trouble without having to create any more.

  • Further, there are some on my ideological side who have quite rightly taken Charles Lane of the WaPo to task, but I’ve more or less given him a pass. That is, until now; here, he basically says that the income tax deduction for state and local taxes should be eliminated because it benefits “blue” states that “need to live within their means” (see, they have “their expensive urban school systems, bloated pension liabilities and all” – with “urban” being a code for those oh-so-bad Obama voters who “want stuff”).

    Of course, Lane doesn’t even take into account that, regardless of what happens with the budget and the Beltway “fiscal cliff” kabuki, “blue” states will end up paying most of the bill anyway (here). Also, here is an example of “red state socialism” that doesn’t do anything to help our finances either (and Lane, imagining himself as a supposed fiscal guru here, once claimed that cutting the minimum wage was a supposed means to stimulate job growth.

    (I’ll tell you what – I’ll just let Atrios, using that Twitter thingie, have the last word here.)

  • Finally, this Jim Treacher idiot over at The Daily Tucker tells us the following (here)…

    When last we heard from Sandra Fluke, she had parlayed the worldwide fame she earned by being insulted by Rush Limbaugh into a spot on the Obama campaign. Her public appearances have been very successful, with attendance numbers sometimes breaking double digits.

    I was going to try and paraphrase Treacher some more, but I’m not going to bother; putting it as simply as I can, he is criticizing Fluke for her claim that an unintended pregnancy can be a barrier to a career or educational opportunity (which, as noted here, ties into a Guttemacher Institute study that claims the very same thing).

    (Also, though I’m sure Treacher and his fellow wingnuts don’t care, I’m going to provide this link anyway, telling us that the U.N. has declared that contraception is a “human right.”)

    Beyond that, let’s not forget how Fluke ended up in the spotlight; as noted below from here

    Fluke, then a 30-year-old law student at Georgetown, was invited by Democrats to speak at a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the new Administration rules on Conscience Clause exceptions in health care.[20] The exception applies to church organizations themselves, but not to affiliated nonprofit corporations, like hospitals, that do not rely primarily on members of the faith as employees.[21] In addition, another exception was created for religious institutions in which an employee can seek birth control directly from the insurance company instead of the religious-based nonprofit.[22] Democrats requested the committee add Sandra Fluke to the first panel, which was composed of clergy and theologians. Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-California) refused, stating that Fluke lacked expertise, was not a member of the clergy, and her name was not submitted in time.[20][23] Democratic members criticized the decision not to include Fluke since it left that panel with only male members,[24] when the hearing covered contraception coverage.[25]

    So basically, if the Repugs had allowed Fluke to speak at the hearing instead of engaging in a typical hissy fit, then that probably would have been the end of it. But no.

    When I worked on the phones for President Obama and the Democrats a couple of days before the election, I had the opportunity to meet Sandra Fluke; she and Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood stopped by. It was hard for me to recall a more unassuming individual; if anything, she was effusive in her praise of our efforts and tried to downplay her own accomplishments. I made sure to thank her for standing up to Rush Limbaugh and the other blowhards on the right on the contraception issue, and if anything, she was embarrassed by my compliment.

    I started this post writing about Ross Douthat and his column about the Dems and Hispanics. And yes, it’s true that Republican alienation of this very powerful voting bloc had a lot to do with their losses on November 6th.

    But make no mistake that this bunch also lost because of their shameful, despicable words and actions to a hell of a lot of women in this country. And the Sandra Fluke case is Exhibit A on that sorry score.

    And if the Repugs choose to learn absolutely nothing and repeat their grotesque actions two years from now, then they will entirely deserve the electoral losses they will inevitably suffer once again.


  • Saturday Mashup (10/27/12)

    October 28, 2012
  • As we all await “Frankenstorm,” I think it’s important to recall the fact that, as Atrios sez here, our weather satellite capabilities are in a bit of disrepair.

    One root cause? Well, as noted here

    The Obama Administration included a sizeable increase for NOAA to get started on JPSS in the FY2011 budget. Unfortunately, that request was swept up in congressional turmoil as Republicans regained control of the House. Decisions on the FY2011 budget were delayed until half way through that fiscal year and many programs — including JPSS — were held to their previous year’s level. Since the FY2010 level reflected the NPOESS program where NOAA and DOD were sharing the costs, it was less than half of what NOAA needed for JPSS.

    The program fared better in FY2012, receiving $924 million of the $1.07 billion requested, but the damage was done. NOAA is concerned that there is very likely to be a “data gap” when existing satellites expire before the first JPSS is launched. Kathy Sullivan, Deputy Administrator of NOAA, said yesterday that there may still be a data gap even if Congress agrees to the funding level for JPSS included in the FY2013 request.

    Take a bow, Teahadists.

  • Also, it looks like the long Italian arm of the law has finally caught up with former Prime Minister “Uh-Oh” Silvio Berlusconi, as noted here

    (Berlusconi) has been handed a jail sentence and barred from office after being found guilty of tax fraud.

    The Milan court sentenced him to four years but later cut it to one year because of an amnesty law.

    Mr Berlusconi condemned the sentence as “intolerable judicial harassment”. He will remain free pending appeals.

    There was a time when I kept a close watch on Berlusconi because I thought, to use a trite phrase from our “dead tree” media, he made “good copy.”

    Here, Berlusconi sought immunity from prosecution while in office (Italy’s constitutional court repealed it). Here, he once compared himself to Jesus, made headlines with a “fishy” entrepreneur (keeping in mind that, in Europe generally, male politicians are looked upon favorably if they engage in multiple romantic liaisons – don’t know if that’s changing or not), and pledged not to have sex until after an election (and Berlusconi took a “page,” more or less, out of former Bushco Attorney General John Ashcroft here).

    Berlusconi also claimed here that those who lost their homes in the tragic Abruzzo earthquake should consider their time in aid camps “a weekend of camping.”

    And as I always say, you can always tell something about someone by their choice of friends (here).

  • Continuing, this tells us the following…

    In an unusual cascade of events Thursday, three state legislators who sponsored a bill that would limit welfare benefits to women who became pregnant from rape but failed to alert authorities and name their attacker removed their names from the bill.

    The primary sponsor of the bill, State Rep. RoseMarie Swanger (R., Lebanon), defended the bill early in the day, only to repudiate portions of it within three hours.

    The bill attempted to put a “family cap” and, as a result, “withhold extra money to welfare recipients who gave birth while receiving cash assistance known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF” (such caps were passed in 23 states in the ‘90s, including New Jersey, as the Inquirer tells us).

    Continuing with the story…

    One part of Swanger’s proposal would exclude from the cap any woman who gave birth to a child as the result of rape or incest.

    But to qualify for that exclusion, the woman must prove she reported the crime and identified her attacker, if he was known to her.

    That provision is a deviation from most cap bills.

    “A rape victim won’t get a benefit if she doesn’t report the rape,” Swanger said early Thursday afternoon, defending the bill. “Isn’t that reasonable? Why wouldn’t you report rape?

    But about three hours later, after The Inquirer had interviewed several people about the legislation, Swanger called the newspaper to say the bill would not go forward as written.

    “The rape part is not what I requested,” Swanger said.

    She went on to say that she had asked the House research staff to help draft the proposal, and to base her bill on existing New Jersey legislation.

    Um…it sound to me like an actual grownup in her party (which one, I wonder?) got to Swanger and told her that the attempt at excluding welfare recipients from the cap this way was an incredibly, horribly, bad idea (the Inquirer story by Alfred Lubrano also tells us the following)…

    Experts on rape said that the bill’s authors don’t understand the nature of sexual assault. Most women don’t report being attacked, and are often victimized by partners or husbands, making them loath to tell authorities.

    By trying to create a cap, Pennsylvania is actually bucking trends, according to Rochelle Finzel, program director at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group that assists legislators.

    By the way, it should be noted that this is hardly the first moment of nuttiness from Swanger. Here, she tried to ban Sharia law from being enacted in Pa, which, last I checked, has no chance of being enacted anywhere in this country. Swanger also sponsored English-only legislation here, and here, she was one of 37 (!) state representatives who introduced legislation to make 2012 the “Year of the Bible” (and I suppose they planned to make 2013 the “Year of the Koran” as well?).

    Also, the Inquirer notes that Teahadist “Janet” Stefano (I think they’re referring to Jennifer) has latched onto this issue in much the same way a leech attaches itself to a human host and creates scar tissue (and you can thank Stefano for helping “Mikey the Beloved” Fitzpatrick to lurch ever further into wingnuttia also, as noted here – fourth bullet).

  • Next, I give you something truly shocking (or at least they think so) from The Daily Tucker here (still in need of a copy editor, apparently)…

    In a 1999 legislative vote, then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama was the sole state senator to not vote for for (sic) a bill that would protect sexual assault victims from having the details of their cases revealed publicly.

    On May 11 of that year, Obama voted “present” on a bill, ultimately made law, that allows victims of sex crimes to request that their cases be sealed from public view following a criminal conviction. Illinois Senate voting records show that Obama was the only senator who did not vote in favor of the bill.

    Obama’s unique objection to voting for a bill meant to protect victims of sex crimes is a substantial departure from the picture he has attempted to paint for women voters.

    (And once again, The Daily Tucker completely obliterates the line between “hard news” and “opinion.”)

    Actually, it isn’t a “unique objection” and “a substantial departure” at all; as noted here from four years ago…

    In a January 22 “Analysis” article about the previous night’s Democratic presidential debate, the Associated Press purported to provide Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) response to criticism over the number of “present” votes he took in the Illinois legislature, but left out a part of his answer in which he responded to a specific point in the AP article. The AP quoted Obama saying: “[O]n issue after issue that is important to the American people, I haven’t simply followed, I have led.” But the AP did not note that Obama also responded specifically to the issue of his “present” vote on a particular bill that the AP mentioned having to do with sexual abuse. The AP omitted the part of the exchange in which Obama said, “I actually sponsored the bill” on sexual abuse, but that “after I had sponsored it and helped to get it passed, it turned out that there was a legal provision in it that was problematic and needed to be fixed so that it wouldn’t be struck down.”

    So Obama voted “present” to keep the bill alive so it could be fixed later (as opposed to throwing a hissy fit over something he found objectionable like most politicians do and killing the bill outright).

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh)…

  • Finally (and speaking of Number 44), Kathleen Parker of the WaPo performs some rather typical corporate media jujitsu here, blaming President Obama for responding to crap initiated by his opposition political party…

    It is no accident that the war of competing economic theories has devolved into the same old culture war, beginning with the debate about the contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act.

    Oh yes, the “debate” over the so-called contraception mandate, begun in part by PA U.S. House Rep Mike Kelly, who compared it to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor here (not President Obama, but Republican U.S. House Rep Mike Kelly).

    Continuing…

    Ever since, the Obama campaign has strategically tried to push the Republican Party and Mitt Romney into a corner by advancing the war-on-women narrative.

    That Obama has had ample help from certain outspoken players (Missouri and Indiana Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, respectively, to name the most notorious) has only made Romney’s challenges greater. But the war against women has always been a red herring.

    Random comments by a couple of outliers provided wind for Obama’s sails.

    “A couple of outliers”? Seriously (including RoseMarie Swanger, as noted earlier)?

    This from Think Progress tells us that at least 9 Republican politicians have banned abortions for victims of rape or incest, in true Mourdock-ian fashion. Even more than that, this tells us that the ban is part of the Republican 2012 campaign platform!

    What exactly was that Pulitzer for again?


  • Wednesday Mashup (10/24/12)

    October 24, 2012
  • Mikey The Beloved’s PR’s service notified us of the following recently (here)…

    Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is criticizing the Veterans Administration for awarding bonuses to employees at a time when there’s a massive disability claims backlog, improper payments have made national news and a systematic pattern of mail destruction is plaguing the agency.

    Fitzpatrick, the 8th District Republican, said the Philadelphia regional office, where the problems have occurred, has received $1.4 million worth of bonuses in the past three years.

    “These are taxpayer dollars being spent to reward a system that is in chronic failure,” he said. “If employees at the Veterans Administration are getting bonuses when they’re failing, what incentive do they have to fix the problem, and who’s holding them accountable?”

    By the way, it should be noted that the bonuses were discovered by the VA’s Inspector General, not Congress, something Mikey’s loyal stenographer Gary Weckselblatt dutifully omitted (here), leaving the reader the impression that Mikey and his pals in Congress somehow discovered it themselves. It should also be noted that a bill has been introduced to curb VA bonuses, as noted here.

    All of this is nothing but typical grandstanding, though, when you find out that the party of Fitzpatrick, Boehner, Cantor, Todd Akin, etc. decided that veterans’ benefits should be on the budgetary “chopping block,” as noted here. And it’s not as if Mikey has such a shining voting record concerning our vets, as noted here.

    Besides, does Mikey really want a comparison between current VA head Eric Shinseki and Bushco’s Jim Nicholson (here)? It looks like the current benchmark is 125 days to turnaround claims, but it was 145-150 under Bushco (still too long, but better). And this tells us how Nicholson underestimated VA funding requirements by $2.6 billion, expecting to provide care originally for about 25,000 of our military in 2005, though he ended up having to more than quadruple that figure. Oh, and there was that matter of veterans’ info that fell prey to identity theft under Nicholson’s tenure also (here).

    And for good measure, this tells you about Number 44’s efforts overall on behalf of our veterans.

    If you’re as fed up with Mikey’s antics as I am (not just on veterans issues, but everything), then click here to donate to Kathy Boockvar or help with the “get out the vote” effort (less than two weeks to go).

  • Next, I give you the following from one of Mikey’s U.S. House playmates, and that would be Sam Graves of Missouri (here – I can’t find anyone running against Graves, so I assume he’s unopposed; love to be wrong because Graves needs an opponent)…

    The Obama administration’s relentless government expansion has become a disturbing pattern. Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) report today (October 23) is a devastating list of the president’s failures and misplaced policies. The common thread is the drastic expansion of government’s role, without being too picky about the means. The attitude seems to be that nothing can or should stand in the way of this big government agenda – not the law, not the people’s representatives, not the deliberative legislative process envisioned by our nation’s founders.

    As chairman of the Committee on Small Business, I follow closely the effect of these decisions on small businesses. Job creators are frozen by the Administration’s tax and regulatory policies, and the fear of more.

    Taxes are a big part of the cloud of uncertainty looming over our job creators.

    To begin, I don’t know how Graves can claim that Obama has “expanded” government when he has, in fact, shrunk it, so much so that he was actually attacked for that in a campaign ad by Willard Mitt Romney and Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv here. On top of that, this tells us that two Goldman Sachs economists pointed out that “uncertainty” is just a normal part of an economic recovery, and we’re starting to come out of that (with the caveat being that I personally don’t consider our repeated cycle over the last 30 years or so of going from bubble to bust economically as “normal”).

    Here is more on Graves, including his support for “Jesus Q. Nutbar,” otherwise known as Todd Akin, his vote in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (abortion already isn’t federally funded because of the Hyde Amendment – this is a recording), his vote in favor of a government shutdown over the debt ceiling hissy fit even though he voted to raise the debt ceiling in 2004, etc.

    As I always say, there are people out there who actually vote for these characters.

  • And speaking of characters, the Old Gray Lady recently opined here on The Republican Former 43rd President Who Shall Not Be Named…

    He does not speak on the stump or appear in television ads. Campaign audiences rarely hear his name.

    But aside from President Obama and Mitt Romney, no one has shaped the 2012 election more than George W. Bush — on the economy and on the foreign policy issues in the spotlight during the final presidential debate on Monday.

    For Mr. Romney, the battered reputation of Mr. Bush represents a burden to minimize in a tight race for the White House. The two have not appeared together this year.

    When an audience member asked about Mr. Bush in the debate last week, Mr. Romney separated himself from what he characterized as Mr. Bush’s shortcomings on the budget deficit and on trade with China.

    For Mr. Obama, Mr. Bush’s economic record offers a shield against voters’ wrath over high unemployment and slow growth; majorities in polls describe the nation’s economic woes as something the incumbent inherited rather than caused.

    Continuing…

    Mr. Bush’s former aides chafe at criticism of his record from fellow Republicans, as well as from Democrats. Tony Fratto, a spokesman in the Bush White House and the Treasury Department, rebutted both of Mr. Romney’s barbs from the debate last week.

    “There are good reasons why we didn’t balance the budget,” like the fight against terrorism, Mr. Fratto said. On trade, “we were very effective with the Chinese” in paving the way for a rise in the value of its currency, to the benefit of American businesses.

    Oh, by the way, I should note that this column was written by John Harwood. That explains the cowardly tactic of paraphrasing a supposed reason from a former Bushie, basically acting as Fratto’s stenographer instead of showing the courage of whatever convictions Harwood has and making Fratto go on the record with an exact quote.

    Also, It’s funny to hear Fratto justify, on the one hand, whatever it was that Dubya supposedly did for China’s currency (color me skeptical on that one), while, on the other hand, Romany criticizes China as a currency manipulator here (actually getting something right for a change…see “Blind Squirrel” and “Nut”). Which one is it?

    The real howler from Fratto, though, is the line about how the GLOBAL WAR ON TERRA! TERRA! TERRA! was supposedly responsible for Dubya’s wretched non-management of our government’s finances under his watch; this provides the reality point of view on that subject (#3 in particular).

  • I guess that’s a bit of a transition to this idiocy from Investor’s Business Daily (here)…

    Election ’12: From Moscow to Caracas to Havana, something disturbing is happening: Dictators with long records of enmity toward the U.S. are endorsing Obama for president. What does that say about the Obama presidency?

    Fresh from abusing Venezuela’s opposition after his own rigged re-election, Chavez declared, “If I were American, I would vote for Obama. He is my candidate.” It was his second direct endorsement of Obama in a week. After that, he spooled off his plans to impose socialism on his country.

    Around the same time, Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuba’s ruling communist capo Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, told CNN: “As a citizen of the world, I would like for (Obama) to win.”

    She added: “Obama deserves a second chance and he needs greater support to move forward with his projects which I believe come from the heart.”

    One or two silly endorsements from movie stars or Honey Boo Boo are one thing.

    But with this president, there’s a sustained and disturbing pattern of America’s enemies signaling preference for Obama over the alternative as U.S. president.

    In the case of Chavez and the Castro oligarchs, it’s obvious enough that Obama governs in a way that resembles their own — increasing state employees and state dependency, ruling by decree, singling out companies for punishment, and engaging in a cult of personality where the state is replaced by the leader.

    You want to talk about presidents and dictators, IBD? Really?

    OK, then, let’s go way back to here, where Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger endorsed the murderous brutality of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, playing a role in the coup that ousted Socialist (for real) Chilean President Salvador Allende and installed Pinochet, igniting a “reign of terror which Pinochet’s secret police extended around the South American continent and across the globe.”

    Also, let’s go here, where The Sainted Ronnie R made nice with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and our former pal in Iraq, none other than Saddam Hussein himself.

    And as far as Reagan’s “son” is concerned, the following should be noted from here, according to human rights attorney Scott Horton, as well as Glenn Greenwald (doing Tricky Dick and The Gipper each one better, you could say)…

    “We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship. The constitutional rights we learned about in high school civics were suspended. That was thanks to secret memos crafted deep inside the Justice Department that effectively trashed the Constitution. What we know now is likely the least of it.”

    And as far as Obama “increasing state employees” (not totally sure what “state” IBD is talking about here)…well, once again, I give you the reality point of view here.

  • Finally, I give you the latest from the right wing umbrage factory, The Daily Tucker in particular (here)…

    If you ever wanted a glimpse into potentially just how rabidly left-of-center your average MSNBC viewer is, you had an opportunity this morning during the “What have we learned today?” segment on “Morning Joe.”

    As the Tuesday broadcast of “Morning Joe” was wrapping up, co-host Mika Brzezinski introduced viewers to 9-year-old Annabelle.

    “I have Annabelle,” Brzezinski said. “She is nine and a half. She has four brothers so she kind of feels my pain this morning. But Annabelle, who do you think should win the election, Annabelle?”

    Annabelle replied, “Mitt Romney,” which was met with a chorus of boos on the show’s live set at Racks Downtown Eatery and Tavern in Boca Raton, Fla.’s Mizner Park.

    “Booing a 9-year-old girl?” co-host Willie Geist said. “Clean it up.”

    Um, if you actually watch the video, you’ll see people laughing over it, OK? In other words, it…was…a…joke.

    (By the way, if you want to hear an audience booing someone or voicing disapproval for real over a political matter, click here.)

    Oh, and I give you this from the Daily Tucker item…

    “Booing a 9-year-old girl, a lot of these people must have come down from Philly or something,” Time magazine’s Joe Klein added.

    Oh, ha and ha, Joe (yes, we know the “short hand” by heart…Philly, the place where they booed Santa Claus, etc., etc.).

    Well, maybe I’m being a little thin-skinned myself here I’ll admit, but as long as Klein is bad-mouthing Philadelphia, let me share this item I happened to come across recently (here)…

    We can all agree that Philly gets a bad rap in the national media, especially when we witness wedding parties duking it out at the Society Hill Sheraton (“One dead, 3 held in wedding free-for-all,” Oct. 8). However, just a few blocks away, a number of Philadelphians showed their true colors.

    My 19-year-old daughter, a freshman at Drexel University, was out with one of her classmates on Church Street in Old City on the afternoon of Oct. 4. Her classmate (a Dallas native) was a few steps ahead when my daughter started to black out and have a seizure. A passerby saw what was happening and quickly caught her just before her head hit the sidewalk. Her friend turned around to see my daughter convulsing on the sidewalk. The friend then saw people pour out of nearby shops, offering assistance, bringing water and blankets, and calling 911. EMTs arrived within minutes and rushed her to the ER at Hahnemann.

    Fortunately, my daughter came out of it fairly quickly and is now OK.

    Her friend from Dallas was blown away at the random acts of kindness and how quickly everyone responded. As a parent, I thank God, the guardian angels watching over my daughter, and the good Samaritan who caught my daughter before she split her head open on the sidewalk.

    I am equally thankful for the other Philadephians who stepped up, did the right thing, and showed my daughter how kind and caring we can be as residents of this great city. This story will never make the national media, but it is a story that will be in our hearts for all eternity.

    John Pogas
    Hatfield, PA

    And if I were to venture a guess, I’m sure there were more than a few sports fans in the crowd that came to the aid of the daughter of Mr. Pogas.

    One more thing – I’m sure none of the people in Boca Raton Klein was bitching about ever acted as sock puppets for one-time U.S. House Rep Pete Hoekstra (here).


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