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    Here, Berlusconi sought immunity from prosecution while in office (Italy’s constitutional court repealed it).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?

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    Wednesday Mashup (10/7/09)

    October 7, 2009

  • This tells us the following…

    Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) — At least 47 school-age children in Chicago have been killed in homicides, mostly by guns, since the month President Barack Obama took office.

    The latest youth homicide in his adopted hometown was different only in that the attackers used splintered railroad ties and were captured on video broadcast globally.

    The Sept. 24 attack prompted Obama to send his attorney general and education secretary to Chicago today after the killing tarnished the city’s drive to win the 2016 Olympics.

    Oh, so NOW we’re being told that Chicago lost the 2016 Olympics because of gun violence? What a joke (not the violence, which is all too terrible – just this ridiculous attempt at an explanation).

    And get a load of this…

    Chicago’s violence has long burdened Obama’s political career, including the embarrassment of a missed vote as a state senator that hurt his 2000 bid for Congress.

    You’ve got to be fracking kidding me! What can that POSSIBLY have to do with what this story is supposed to be about?

    Yes, the vote in question was detrimental to Obama at the time, but I think the following should be noted from here (about the vote McCormick goes out of his way to mention)…

    …Obama didn’t help his record in Springfield when he failed to come home from a Hawaiian vacation to vote on the Safe Neighborhoods Act. His vote wouldn’t have made a difference, but Obama’s been a strident supporter of gun control, so a lot of voters thought he’d disappeared when his voice was needed most. Obama takes his family to Hawaii once a year to visit his 80-year-old grandmother, Toot. Both his parents are dead, and Toot is the only living relative he knew growing up. This year he almost canceled the trip because the fight over the Safe Neighborhoods Act went on until December 22. The Obamas managed to get out of town on Thursday, December 23, and planned to fly back the following Tuesday, so Barack could be in Springfield when the legislature reconvened the next day. But on the day of the flight, Obama’s 18-month-old daughter came down with the flu. He decided to stay in Hawaii one more day. If Malia seemed to be recovering, the Obamas would go home together. If not, Barack would fly out alone. On Wednesday Malia was well enough to fly, and the family returned to Illinois.

    “I made an assessment based on the fact that I didn’t want to leave my wife and daughter alone without knowing how serious her condition was, and my assessment was based on the fact that this was a largely political vote, in the sense that either Pate Philip was going to agree to a compromise, in which case the bill was going to pass, or there were going to be negotiations taking place,” he says. “We put our families through so many sacrifices in this process anyway that every once in a while you have to make a decision in terms of what you think is best for your family, and I think that this was one of these decisions. Politically, I took a big hit.”

    And by the way, since John McCormick has no interest in balance here, I believe that it’s incumbent upon yours truly to provide the following information, showing how Obama has balanced supporting common sense gun measures with the legitimate rights of gun enthusiasts and sportsmen (and women).

  • It seems like the latest attempt to kill any semblance of a public option that could still yet emerge in the battle for a health care reform bill is the notion from Republican-lite senators such as Tom Carper and Ben Nelson that states could provide their own “public option” instead of one federally mandated.

    However, as Think Progress tells us here…

    Large progressive states like New York and California will likely embrace this proposal; more conservative states may wait to see if these public plans save money.

    And it’s not clear that they will. State-based public options would enter concentrated markets (already dominated by one or two private insurers) and lack the market clout to negotiate significantly cheaper rates or institute reforms that change the way care is paid for. Existing state-run employer plans (and Medicaid in many states) have already given up on the ‘public’ aspect of their plans and outsourced the work to private insurers. As a result, they have failed to significantly lower health care costs or bring any real change to the market place. In other words, like Carper’s proposal, they are ‘public plans’ in name only.

    And by the way, as noted here…

    The (report by the Commonwealth fund, a health policy research organization) analyzed the rate of growth of U.S. health care spending between 2010 and 2020 under three possible reform scenarios. One plan would include a public option with healthcare providers paid at Medicare rates; another includes a public option with providers paid at rates midway between Medicare and private insurance plans; and the final plan would have no public option, instead relying exclusively on private insurers.

    The researchers found that, compared to cost projections if the nation’s health system remains unchanged, reform would “bend the cost curve” — that is, health care spending will still rise, but at a slower rate. They found that reform that includes a public plan tied to Medicare rates would save nearly $3 trillion through 2020, a public plan with higher reimbursement rates would save $1.97 trillion and an insurance exchange with only private plans would save $1.2 trillion.

    By the way, Keith Olbermann will present an hour-long “Special Comment” tonight on health care on “Countdown.” I’ll either watch on the teevee or online, but I’ll catch it somehow, and I think we all should.

  • And finally here’s some crackpot history from The Old Gray Lady and columnist David Leonhardt (here)…

    Democrats dominated the middle part of the 20th century, thanks in part to their vigorous response to the Great Depression. They used the government to soften the effects of the Depression and to build the modern safety net. But they failed to see the limits of the government’s ability to manage the economy and helped usher in the stagflation of the 1970s.

    In response, I give you Paul Krugman (here)…

    Stagflation was a term coined by Paul Samuelson to describe the combination of high inflation and high unemployment. The era of stagflation in America began in 1974 and ended in the early 80s. Why did it happen?

    Well, the textbooks basically invoke two factors. One was a series of “adverse supply shocks”, mainly the huge runup in the price of oil. The other was excessively expansionary monetary policy, especially in 1972-3, which allowed expectations of inflation to become entrenched.

    But where is the Great Society in all this? Nowhere. The claim that stagflation proved the badness of liberal ideas is pure propaganda, which not even conservative economists believe.

    What a shame that David Leonhardt doesn’t even read his own newspaper.


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