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?


  • Wednesday Mashup (4/25/12)

    April 25, 2012

    (Testing, testing…is this thing still on :-)?)

    OK, allow me to back up and do some ‘splainin’ here…

    I pretty much walked away from this site about a year and a half ago out of total disgust, keeping Blogger as my main platform for this kind of thing. Not with WordPress as a blogging platform, I wish to emphasize, but with the impending Dem loss of the U.S. House, including the PA-08 seat of Patrick Murphy to “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick (guilty of this recent, particularly heinous moment which, in a manner utterly true to form, has been thoroughly ignored by his house organ, the Bucks County Courier Times). Also, at the time, I wasn’t sure if the Senate would fall either, but thanks to the intervention of the teabaggers, who made sure that “Yes, Wiccan” O’Donnell was nominated in Delaware along with Sharron Angle in Nevada and John Raese in West Virginia, the Senate remained under the control of the Dems. I wanted the post with the Rachel Maddow video to remain as the first thing a reader saw at this site as a “J’Accuse!” gesture of sorts (I think it’s safe to say that, after all this time, I’ve made my point).

    Well, Blogger is now thoroughly hosed when it comes to fairly long, textual posts and I have neither the time nor the desire to figure out how to deal with the problem. So, on the infrequent, oft chance that I am able to generate content again, I’m planning to do so here for the immediate future.

  • And with that boring pretext out of the way, allow me to bring you the following from the New York Times on Monday (from here)…

    Under federal labor law, employees have the right to join together to seek better pay and working conditions, with or without a union. If an employer tries to punish organizers, employees have the right to seek protection from the National Labor Relations Board. But employees still don’t have the right to be informed of their rights.

    Last August, the N.L.R.B. issued a rule requiring employers to post a notice in the workplace telling employees of their rights. The rule was prompted by the board’s finding that young employees, recent immigrants and workers in nonunion workplaces were generally unaware of the law’s guarantees and protections.

    The backlash was furious. The National Association of Manufacturers sued to block the rule in federal court in Washington, D.C. The United States Chamber of Commerce sued in federal court in South Carolina. In both cases, industry claimed that the law did not expressly permit the board to require employers to post a notice.

    And yes, to answer the question, those opposing the notice were acting typically ridiculous, thus inspiring this video.

    If you want to understand exactly how much this notice (at the very least) needs to be posted, click here to find out how Target has been fighting the efforts of its workforce to form a union (including making a video using unionized actors, believe it or not), click here to read how T-Mobile workers were trying to do the same thing (its parent company in Germany employs a unionized workforce, though that isn’t the case here – Dem U.S. House Rep Tim Bishop and Dem Sen. Richard Blumenthal supported the effort, as noted here), and this tells us how workers at Station Casinos started a seven-day hunger strike in an effort to unionize, and have faced a campaign of illegal intimidation and firings as a result.

  • Next, Ken Blackwell is back to attack Hillary Clinton (some things never change), including taking a shot at the new START treaty (here – in response, this tells us the following)…

    The treaty commits the former Cold War enemies to each reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 – 30% lower than the previous ceiling.

    Mr Obama said it was an important milestone, but “just one step on a longer journey” of nuclear disarmament.

    Mr Medvedev said the deal would create safer conditions throughout the world.

    If ratified by lawmakers in both countries, the treaty will replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) of 1991, which has expired.

    Update: My bad – should have noted that, despite the caterwauling of Repug Sen. Jon Kyl, the treaty was ratified by the Senate, as noted here, and a particularly brainless update is here.

    Blackwell also whines as follows…

    This is the same Russia whose foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, Hillary famously gifted with a red “Re-set” button on their first meeting. That was to signal the new administration in Washington wouldn’t fuss about Russia’s 2008 aggression against the Republic of Georgia.

    In response, this tells us how the Obama Administration, far from acting like wallflowers while the Russia/Georgia conflict simmers, brokered the following deal…

    At the end of last year, the final roadblock to Russian entry into the (World Trade Organization) was Georgia’s insistence that Russia agree to increase transparency of trade across Russia’s borders into Georgia’s breakaway autonomies of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. (WTO rules allow every member the right to veto a country’s membership, and Georgia, as a member, could do so with Russia.) The August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia led to Russian military occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Moscow’s recognition of the autonomies as independent states. Even before the war, however, Russia controlled both sides of the crossings into Abkhazia and South Ossetia and staunchly refused access to either Georgia or international monitors.

    While Russian membership in the WTO has been a priority of the Obama administration’s Russia policy, the administration has also made a point not to pressure Georgia into giving its consent. The administration thus insisted to Moscow that it had to negotiate the conditions for its accession directly with Tbilisi, while it underlined to Tbilisi the importance the United States placed on a successful agreement.

    The result is, on paper, a spectacular success. The WTO agreement provides a novel mechanism for monitoring trade between Russia and Georgia across Abkhazia and South Ossetia (as well as at their third, already functioning, land crossing in undisputed territory). Both governments have agreed to report data on trade to the WTO and to affix electronic seals on outbound cargo to facilitate the tracking of goods. They have also agreed to allow a private company to confidentially monitor trade and to recommend, on the basis of that monitoring, the inspection of cargo by either party. Finally, the agreement establishes a mechanism for arbitrating disputes.

    Blackwell should really avoid anything more substantive than attacking children’s television programs, as noted here, which is actually more of his speed.

  • Finally, someone named John Hawkins at Clownhall.com presented five “devastating” numbers that supposedly show Number 44’s “incompetence” (here).

    1) The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.”

    This is from an analysis from Mark Knoller of CBS News, who, as noted here, has a history of absolving Former Commander Codpiece of any financial wrongdoing and laying all blame at the feet of Number 44.

    Besides, as Media Matters points out…

    In 2001, President George W. Bush inherited a surplus, with projections by the Congressional Budget Office for ever-increasing surpluses, assuming continuation of the good economy and President Bill Clinton’s policies. But every year starting in 2002, the budget fell into deficit. In January 2009, just before President Obama took office, the budget office projected a $1.2 trillion deficit for 2009 and deficits in subsequent years, based on continuing Mr. Bush’s policies and the effects of recession. Mr. Obama’s policies in 2009 and 2010, including the stimulus package, added to the deficits in those years but are largely temporary.

    The second graph shows that under Mr. Bush, tax cuts and war spending were the biggest policy drivers of the swing from projected surpluses to deficits from 2002 to 2009. Budget estimates that didn’t foresee the recessions in 2001 and in 2008 and 2009 also contributed to deficits. Mr. Obama’s policies, taken out to 2017, add to deficits, but not by nearly as much. [The New York Times, 7/23/11]

    Continuing…

    2) This country has already lost its AAA rating, we’re 15 trillion dollars in debt, we have 100 trillion dollars in unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities…

    The reason we lost our Triple-A rating was because of the dithering of Man-Tan Boehner and that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor on raising the debt ceiling. The debt was mentioned previously, and Social Security (which, as noted here, is projected to drop off funding to about 70-80 percent in 20 years, which is still more funding than what is paid out today…more here) has nothing to do with the deficit. And yes, we need to look at Medicare, but even that isn’t the biggest driver of the debt.

    3) We’re now up to 1,091 days without a budget despite the fact that it’s the most basic function of Congress and it’s required by law.

    Oh brother – as noted here

    HONOLULU — President Obama agreed on Friday to delay a request to Congress to expand the government’s borrowing authority by $1.2 trillion, allowing lawmakers time to return from recess and register their views on it.

    The delay, which a White House official said would be only a few days, will not jeopardize the operations of the government, as last summer’s impasse over the debt ceiling did. The budget agreement of Aug. 2, which broke that deadlock, has made it highly unlikely that Congressional Republicans could block an increase in the debt limit through the 2012 election. Since signing legislation to codify that agreement, Mr. Obama has already obtained two increases totaling $900 billion.

    And as noted here, Boehner and his pals are making noise like they might renege on the debt deal later this year (figures).

    4) One of the great ironies of this election is the still rabid support that black Americans have for Barack Obama. This is kind of like Columbine High School throwing a “We Sure Do Miss You” Memorial Rally for Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

    Let’s see, tasteless, racist, and utterly inaccurate all at once? Yep, pretty much.

    And as noted here

    During an exchange with Fox News analyst Juan Williams during a debate in South Carolina on Jan. 16, Gingrich defended previous statements that poor kids lack a strong work ethic, that they should be put to work as janitors (child labor laws be damned), and that black Americans should “demand jobs, not food stamps.”

    “Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?” Williams asked.

    “No,” Gingrich responded, to roaring applause and rolling laughter. “I don’t see that.”

    “It sounds as if you’re speaking to belittle people,” Williams added later in the exchange.

    “Well, first of all, Juan,” Gingrich said, “the fact is, more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.”

    This statement, while technically true, is no more reliable as a factual observation than other conservatives’ claims that Obama has governed during the highest unemployment spike in decades, or that his presidency has overseen the biggest national debt in history.

    All three statements may be true on their face, but they lay responsibility for the greatest recession since the Great Depression at the feet of a man who wasn’t even president when the economic floor caved.

    Funny, but I don’t hear Democrats questioning the work ethic of men and women of color. And I know that’s a little tangential to job numbers, but it does have something to do with stigmatizing the employment prospects for a rather significant demographic in this country.

    And in terms of economic policies that actually help African Americans, Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett said here that unemployment funds are a stimulus of sorts, earning her the right-wing umbrage noted here.

    More to the point, though, this tells us the following…

    Even here, the black employment outlook is mixed. Black men appear to have gained jobs since February 2011 in manufacturing, construction and the service sector. And while government employment held steady this month, deep staff cuts in state and local government have hit black women particularly hard. Indeed, government agencies, a sector that has slashed about 500,000 jobs since February 2010, employed just over one-quarter of black women before the recession began. That has caused the number of black women with jobs to fall, although that number held steady in February, (Bill Rodgers, a Rutgers University economist who studies inequality) said.

    The issue is spending to create demand not just to spur hiring for a racial class, but an economic class that will lift all of the proverbial boats, as it were.

    And concluding with Hawkins…

    5) The average unemployment rate during George Bush’s time in office was roughly 5.3% as compared to 8.2% today, which is part of the longest streak of over 8% unemployment since the Great Depression. However, because of the way the unemployment rate is calculated, even those horrific numbers don’t give you the full sense of the Mt. Krakatoa-like havoc that Barack Obama has wreaked on the job market.

    In response, please click here to read each of the three charts, including the last one, showing job losses from Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History and job gains under the current occupant of An Oval Office.

    Oh, and one more thing: Hawkins begins his screed with the following…

    Whether you’ve had some form of head trauma that has caused you to like Barack Obama or like all good hearted people, you can’t stand him, his performance has objectively been terrible.

    I realize that violent imagery and veiled threats of physical harm are right out of the typical right-wing playbook (along with typically pejorative, “us versus them” rhetoric about how all “good hearted” people can’t stand Obama), but I would just like for this fool Harkins to consider something here.

    This is a picture of the late actress Natasha Richardson, who died three years ago last March. She fell while on a skiing trip and, indeed, suffered the “head trauma” that Harkins apparently thinks is something to use to ridicule those with whom he disagrees. She left behind a grieving husband and two young boys.

    Find a conscience somehow, you contemptible guttersnipe.


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