Thursday Mashup (3/28/13)

March 28, 2013

  • (I’m trying to play catch-up a bit here – sorry if I’m a bit behind on some of this stuff.)

    Recently, Mikey the Beloved opined as follows (here)…

    In days of old, the filibuster was used as a way to prevent the majority from overriding the minority…

    I honestly don’t know if Mikey is living in a time warp these days or not (days of old?), but as noted here from last September, the Repugs (the minority party in the Senate, let’s not forget – and hopefully it will remain that way after next year) have blocked about 375 bills proposed by the Democrats via the filibuster. That’s not “prevent(ing) the majority from overriding the minority” – that’s called obstruction.

    I will grudgingly cede Fitzpatrick’s point that the so-called “talking” filibuster seemed to be preferred by most of those polled in this country as noted here, though the linked post also tells us that those polled are concerned also about other abuses of Senate process by the minority party (and why the hell is Mikey so damn concerned about the Senate anyway?).

    Mikey also tells us the following…

    Last year, the Administration proposed waiving work requirements for welfare recipients, a misguided move, I believe…

    Yes, it would be misguided, if in fact it had been proposed by the Obama White House. The only problem for Mikey is that it didn’t happen (here)…

    The administration’s welfare waiver initiative would strengthen work requirements by empowering states to innovate on strategies that could move 20 percent more of the caseload into sustainable employment. As the government’s directive announcing the initiative notes, “The Secretary is only interested in approving waivers if the state can explain in a compelling fashion why the proposed approach may be a more efficient or effective means to promote employment entry, retention, advancement, or access to jobs that offer opportunities for earnings and advancement that will allow participants to avoid dependence on government benefits.” Republican and Democratic governors — and even Romney and Paul Ryan — have all promoted flexibility before Obama embraced it. [HHS, 7/12/2012]

    Mikey concludes with the following…

    Sadly, I took to the House floor last week to speak about Harry Fawkes, the late and former chairman of the Bucks County Republican Committee. Harry was selfless and magnanimous; everything he did was for the benefit of our county. He was a friend and mentor to many of us in public life today and often said, “good government is good politics.”

    I tried to observe a bit of respectful silence over the passing of Bucks County Repug Poobah Harry Fawkes (probably more than he would afford us), but I think it is now important to recall the following…

  • Fawkes once lamented a win here by Repug Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin over Steve Santarsiero in the Bucks County Commissioners contest because it was too narrow, I guess (with Fawkes claiming that Bucks would turn into “New Jersey West” with a Dem majority of commissioners…typical).
  • Fawkes also encouraged real, honest-to-goodness voter fraud here upon hearing that some PA Repugs registered as Democrats so they could vote for Hillary Clinton in the ’08 primary, after which they would presumably switch their registrations back to Republican again, all in a failed effort to derail Number 44 (creating undue headaches and likely overtime for poll workers who had to process their application forms back and forth…”good government is good politics” – too funny.)
  • Fawkes also accused former PA-08 Congressman Patrick Murphy of “financial improprieties” here with defense contractor (and campaign donor) Kuchera Systems, all because Murphy accepted the donation and returned about $5 grand in earmarks in legislation, one of which benefitted Kuchera (no evidence that Murphy benefitted personally of course – yeah, remember how horrible earmarks were supposed to be, even though they accounted for about one one-hundredths or less of the federal budget?). And as I noted at the time, how ridiculous was it (to say nothing of partisan) to criticize Murphy for this given that Mikey the Beloved, Fawkes’ protégé for jobs both in county and federal government, held onto about $190 grand in donations from political action committees tied to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff (here)?
  • Mikey has a little caveat at the end that these little “Congressman’s notebook” posts of his will appear in his designated house organ twice a month as a way to “shed some light” on what he is doing. I think PA-08, though, would be better served if he were to spend the time he would use writing these posts instead on legislation that actually addresses the needs of his constituents.

  • Next, I turn to one of Mikey’s Repug playmates In the House (here)…

    A Republican lawmaker is concerned about voter registration questions buried in a draft application to receive benefits under President Obama’s healthcare law.

    Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), who leads a House subcommittee on oversight, said the questions’ placement could lead some to believe that voter registration is tied to eligibility for the law’s insurance exchanges.

    “While the healthcare law requires that government agencies collect vast information about Americans’ personal lives, it does not give your department an interest in whether individual Americans choose to vote,” Boustany wrote in a letter Monday to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

    At the end of the Hill article, though, we learn the following (“asked and answered,” if you ask me)…

    Many voters register in the process of receiving or renewing their driver’s license, and applications for Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits usually afford the same chance.

    States must offer an opportunity for voter registration through any office that provides public assistance, according to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

    Of course, “Birther” Boustany (here), being a typical wingnut, is an old hand at blame avoidance; this tells us that, as a medical doctor, he was the target of three malpractice suits (kind of explains his embrace of “tort reform” – I’m sure this is more “cause an effect” stuff too). He also paid $18,250 to receive an English title that turned out to be bogus (as the 9/09 Daily Kos post tells us), and as noted here, he claimed in September 2007 that “sectarian slayings were down” in Iraq, when quite the opposite was true. And as noted here, “Lord” Boustany opposed a provision in the health care law that dedicated $1.1 billion to researching the effectiveness of medical drugs and procedures; what is so appalling is that Boustany had not, in fact, even bothered to read the text of the provision he opposed.

    I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that Boustany and the rest of the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch can’t fathom that lower-income voters don’t have the luxury of making multiple trips (in their luxury vehicles, no doubt, possibly with someone else doing the driving) and need the legally-protected option of registering to vote when they apply for federal government services as part of “one-stop shopping.” And I have no doubt that, given the chance, Boustany would eliminate that option for those less fortunate altogether.

    Which makes the task of ensuring voting integrity (as opposed to the straw man of “voter fraud” supposedly by actual voters) all the more important.

  • Continuing, the Daily Caller whines as follows (here)…

    Democratic New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich founded an environmentalist group with a convicted eco-terrorist in the 1990s.

    Heinrich, who will meet with President Obama in the Oval Office Monday to establish the Rio Grande del Norte as a national monument, was elected to the Senate in 2012 with the financial backing of numerous environmentalist groups.

    Prior to his political career, Heinrich c0-founded and chaired the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. David Foreman, a convicted criminal and founder of the radical environmental “warrior society” Earth First!, was among the other co-founders of the group. He also sat on the board during Heinrich’s tenure as chairman.

    Leave it to Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page to get the story exactly wrong – this tells us the following…

    Foreman’s arrest was the culmination of three years and two million tax dollars spent in an attempt to frame a few Earth First! activists for conspiring to damage government and private property. The FBI infiltrated Earth First! groups in several states with informants and undercover agent-provocateurs. Over 500 hours of tape recordings of meetings, events and casual conversation had been amassed. Phones had been tapped and homes broken in to. The FBI was doing their best to intimidate radical environmentalists across the country, marking them as potential threat to national security.

    Back in the 1970s the FBI issued a memo to their field offices stating that when attempting to break up dissident groups, the most effective route was to forget about hard intelligence or annoying facts. Simply make a few arrests and hold a public press conference. Charges could later be dropped. It didn’t matter; by the time the news hit the airwaves and was printed up in the local newspapers, the damage had already been done.

    It was the FBI’s assertion that the action stopped by the arrests under that Arizona power line in late May, 1989, was to be a test run for a much grander plot involving (Mark) Davis, (Marc) Baker, (Peg) Millet, and the group’s leader, Dave Foreman. The FBI charged the four with the intent to damage electrical transmission lines that lead to the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility in Colorado.

    “The big lie that the FBI pushed at their press conference the day after the arrests was that we were a bunch of terrorists conspiring to cut the power lines into the Palo Verde and Diablo Canyon nuclear facilities in order to cause a nuclear meltdown and threaten public health and safety,” explained Foreman.

    The Counter Punch story also tells us that, in the late 1980s, the FBI launched a unit called THERMCON “in response to an act of sabotage of the Arizona Snowbowl ski lift near Flagstaff, Arizona that occurred in October 1987, allegedly by Davis, Millet and Baker.” One of the THERMCON agents was Michael A. Fain, a fairly inept individual who basically admitted on tape that THERMCON had targeted Foreman (with Fain saying that Foreman “isn’t the guy we need to pop”).

    However, the case proceeded anyway, with this perhaps inevitable result…

    …the case against Foreman, having been deferred almost seven years, was finally reduced in 1996 to a single misdemeanor and a meager $250 in fines. The $2 million the FBI wasted tracking Earth First! over the latter part of the 1980s had only been nominally successful. Yet the alleged ring-leader was still free. Unfortunately, the FBI may have gotten exactly what they wanted all along. Dave Foreman later stepped down as spokesman to Earth First! and inherited quite a different role in the environmental movement — one of invisibility and near silence.

    And to think that Carlson and his ilk have the gall to criticize Foreman for “less-than-level headed statements,” which is a bit hilarious when you also consider this.

  • Finally, it looks like Teahadist nematode Phil Gingrey has entered the race for the soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Senate seat of Saxby Chambliss, as noted here.

    Given that, I think it’s instructive to look at what Gingrey “brings to the table,” as noted here.

    (And by the way, I am hardly gloating on this subject – given the fact that five incumbent U.S. Senate Democrats are stepping down also, as noted here, I would say that we have more than a little bit of work to do in that area.)

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    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.


  • Tuesday Mashup (7/31/12)

    July 31, 2012
  • I got a laugh out of this item from “Deadeye Dick” Cheney recently…

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney said President Barack Obama is “one of our weakest presidents” and worse than Jimmy Carter.

    “Obviously, I’m not a big fan of President Obama,” Cheney said in an interview that aired Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think he’s been one of our weakest presidents. I fundamentally disagree with him, philosophically. You’d be hard put to find any Democratic president that I’ve disagreed with more.”

    “Worse than Jimmy Carter, from your perspective?” ABC’s Jon Karl asked him.

    “Yes.”

    (Oh, and by the way, here is another example of journalistic malpractice from corporate media hack Jon Karl.)

    And one more thing – allow me to present the following in response:

    Approval rating upon leaving office (Jimmy Carter) – 34 percent
    Approval rating upon leaving office (Dick Cheney) – 13 percent

    I rest my case.

  • Further, I give you the following from some Fix Noise bimbette (here)…

    Warning: Bailout alert!

    The Obama administration has decided it’s time to spread the wealth some more, just in time for the election.

    Who’s getting it this time? Broke college grads.

    Obama’s team wants these borrowers to be able to wipe out their private student loans through bankruptcy.

    Again the administration is forgetting there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    Oh yes, how dare those mooching, in-debt college students go looking for a “big gumint” handout, right (oh, and by the way, “Foxies,” you can have more than one sentence in a paragraph).

    In response, please allow me to point out how the ruinous 109th Congress rewrote the bankruptcy law that is now devastating both credit card and student loan debtors, as noted here.

    Of course, anyone defaulting on their home, car or credit card payments can declare bankruptcy, cumbersome though that process now is, but students carrying student loan debt cannot. And Obama is merely trying to level the playing field (which, of course, is all it takes to start another round of wingnut harrumphing).

  • Silly in-debt college students – don’t they know that corporate “welfare” is the only type approved by Republicans?

  • Continuing, “Pope” Douthat whined as follows recently at the New York Times (here)…

    “Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday,” Michelle Obama said. “It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well … Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to the four walls of the church. He was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day.”

    But Mrs. Obama’s words notwithstanding, there seems to be a great deal of confusion about this point in the Western leadership class today.

    You can see this confusion at work in the Obama White House’s own Department of Health and Human Services, which created a religious exemption to its mandate requiring employers to pay for contraception, sterilization and the days-after pill that covers only churches, and treats religious hospitals, schools and charities as purely secular operations. The defenders of the H.H.S. mandate note that it protects freedom of worship, which indeed it does. But a genuine free exercise of religion, not so much.

    If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.

    I think this commentary is particularly stupid considering the fact that the recent merger in these parts between Abington Memorial and Holy Redeemer Hospitals was canceled after widespread outcry among doctors, clergy, and community organizations (here)…

    “It was clear that the outrage and betrayal was felt unanimously throughout the hospital,” wrote the 20 residents in Abington’s OB-GYN program, in a letter they released after the meeting. “There is strong opposition to having our medical practice dictated by Catholic doctrine rather than our patients’ best interests and standard of care.”

    Lisa Jambusaria of Los Angeles, who is in the final year of her 4-year ob-gyn residency training at Abington, said she would never have applied there if she had known abortions would be banned. Although the hospital performs fewer than 100 abortions per year, many involve women carrying defective fetuses that would not survive beyond birth, or women whose own health is endangered by the pregnancy.

    “We are one of the rare hospitals that provides these (abortion) services,” Jambusaria said. “We get these referrals all the time.”

    So, instead of resorting to typical right-wing polarizing language next time, why doesn’t Douthat actually base his argument in science, best medical practice and medical community need instead of ideology (yes, I know asking the question is futile, but I’m inclined to do it anyway).

    (And by the way, on the subject of belief and mental health, I’ll offer this and merely say that this is consistent with my own experience.)

  • Finally, I give you yet another example of why our corporate media, for the most part, shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    See (as noted here), “Chuckles” Krauthammer of the WaPo opined as follows recently…

    Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer took a victory lap Sunday evening after White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer’s claim that the White House did not return a Winston Churchill bust to the British Embassy was discredited.

    “I suggest Mr. Pfeiffer bring this to a short, painless and honorable conclusion: a simple admission that he got it wrong and that my assertion was correct,” Krauthammer wrote in a Sunday evening blog post. “An apology would be nice, but given this White House’s arm’s-length relationship with truth — and given Ryan Zimmerman’s hot hitting — I reckon the Nationals will win the World Series before I receive Pfeiffer’s mea culpa.”

    Oh, and by the way, as long as the Nationals were mentioned – yeah, as I type this, the Phillies are in full-sell mode and the Nats are clearly ascendant – I’d like to say something.

    First of all, good for the Nats…there are seasons of losing as well as seasons of winning, and the roles clearly are reversed at the moment. But the D.C. team should at least try to be gracious. By that I mean that they should stop their whining about those oh-so-bad-mannered Philly fans (I probably should have said this in May when the Phils last went there, though they’re slated to play there again beginning tonight). At least we came to watch you when you were lousy (and believe me that it isn’t easy to put up with New York or especially Boston fans at Citizens Bank Park, but we’ve gone along with it…their money is the same color as ours).

    So shut up and chalk it up to past history, OK? Nobody likes a winner with a chip on his shoulder.

    Now, back to Krauthammer – the following is noted in the Daily Tucker piece…

    It turns out there are two Churchill busts, one that had been in the White House since the 1960s and another that Prime Minister Tony Blair loaned President George W. Bush at the outset of the Bush administration. Pfeiffer admitted as much in an update to his blog post. Obama returned the loaned bust to the Brits when he moved into the White House, and the original bust was moved to the White House residence, where it is today.

    Do you want to know why Krauthammer refuses to give up on this, even though he is manifestly wrong? Because he was rooked into believing that the Obama Administration told the Brits what they could do with their bust of Churchill because of some nutball conspiracy theory by Glenn Beck, as noted here (namely, Beck circulated the urban legend that the return was an Obama Administration protest over Britain’s involvement in the Kenyan Mau Mau revolution of the 1950s).

    Wikipedia tells us that Charles Krauthammer is published in 275 newspapers and media outlets in this country. I can think of no greater evidence of the utter failure of our corporate media to educate and inform than that simple fact.


  • Wednesday Mashup (2/17/10)

    February 17, 2010

    (Trying to clear out a bit of a backlog here, I know…)

  • 1) In the Sunday New York Times, N. Gregory Mankiw wrote the following here…

    The president seems to understand that the fiscal plan presented in his budget is not sustainable and, as such, is not really a plan at all. That is why the budget prominently calls for a fiscal commission that will be charged with “identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation.” The goal, the budget says, is “to stabilize the debt-to-G.D.P. ratio at an acceptable level once the economy recovers.”

    In other words, President Obama’s long-term fiscal strategy is to appoint a commission to figure out a long-term fiscal strategy.

    Yep, kind of like the commission Mankiw’s former boss formed to come up with his Social Security privatization scam (here). And it’s funny to hear Mankiw’s criticism of Obama’s budget commission idea (which I don’t agree with either for now, truth be told) when this tells us how generally unserious conservatives are on this issue (how can you propose to balance a budget over time without discussing tax increases or other revenue enhancement)?

  • 2) Also last Sunday in the Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg engaged in the following bit of wankery (here, criticizing President Obama for balancing his work schedule with that of his family)…

    So far at least, Washington does not seem to have raised any eyebrows. When Mr. Obama told lawmakers why he was leaving the health talks, “We all said, ‘Absolutely, get out of here, go,’ ” said Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat, who was there.

    Yet even in today’s father-friendly world, Mr. Obama’s balancing act is not risk-free — especially in an economy where so many ordinary Americans are struggling. Critics could accuse him of slacking off when the country is in need.

    And of course for emphasis, Stolberg includes a quote favorable to that notion from Republican political strategist John Feehery.

    Meanwhile, this tells us that Obama’s predecessor absolutely shattered the vacation record set by The Sainted Ronnie R (still awaiting comment on that from Feehery).

    For the first time in a long time, we have a president helping to raise one or more kids (the two Bush daughters were already grown), and that makes family time particularly important.

    Besides, the one legitimate vacation Obama got was last summer, and right in the middle of it, Ted Kennedy died. So I think it’s particularly crappy to begrudge the man of the precious family time he is able to enjoy.

  • 3) And finally, the Times Sunday Magazine carried a story titled “How Christian Were The Founders,” in which our corporate media remains preoccupied with trying to find some proof that the individuals who truly risked their lives, fortunes and sacred honor during our country’s genesis (oops) intended this country to be a Christian nation.

    We could come up with anecdotes forever to argue one way or the other as to how tolerant these people really were on this subject, but I would merely like to put out the following from the Nobel Prize-winning book “John Adams” by David McCullough, pg. 222, in which McCullough describes how Adams addressed the subject in the first Constitution of Massachusetts…

    …While it did not guarantee freedom of religion, it affirmed the “duty” of all people to worship “The Supreme Being, the great creator and preserver of the universe,” and that no one was to be “hurt, molested or restrained in his person, liberty or estate for worshipping God in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience,” provided he did not disturb the public peace.

    If “live and let live” was good enough for John Adams, then it’s good enough for me too.


  • Wednesday Mashup (12/16/09)

    December 16, 2009

    Trying to get caught up a bit here with some stuff…

  • 1) Yesterday at the LA Times, former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm observed as follows (here)…

    It seems President Obama is not quite there yet in fulfilling his hopeful campaign promise to change the harsh partisan tone in the nation’s capitol.

    This Media Matters post reminds us that Malcolm criticized Obama for lighting the White House Christmas Tree. And leaving it lit.

    Seriously.

    So I would say Malcolm has some work to do on the whole “partisan tone” thing also.

  • 2) Also, Matthew Continetti resurrected the zombie lie that tax cuts create jobs here at The Weakly Standard yesterday…

    If the Democrats were smart, they would read Greg Mankiw’s op-ed in the Sunday Times, where he points out that “successful stimulus relies almost entirely on cuts in business and income taxes. Failed stimulus relies mostly on increases in government spending.”

    In response, I give you the following from The New Yorker written in 2003 (sounds prescient now)…

    the President’s tax cuts may in the end destroy more jobs than they create. As tax revenues fall and the deficit increases, interest rates will rise, and the higher cost of borrowing will impede business investment and hiring. The reborn supply-side economists who devised the President’s plan would dispute this, except that many of them were fired or encouraged to quit in the Administration’s recent purge of its financial team.

    The article also tells us that Mankiw himself noted the damage caused by the deficits inevitably resulting from tax cuts (yes I know, water wet, sky blue…).

    And as noted here by Brad DeLong, Mankiw recently claimed that you can’t measure jobs saved from an economic stimulus, though Mankiw claimed exactly the opposite in 2003.

    Also concerning economic policy, Joe “You Lie!” Wilson told us the following at The Hill today (here)…

    In the past two years, the debt ceiling has been raised four times. This week, Congress debated raising the debt ceiling by $1.8 trillion. Congress continues spend, spend, and spend – ultimately passing our debts onto our grandchildren.

    That’s funny when you consider what happened when Wilson’s party ran our government nearly into the ground in the earlier part of this decade; as noted here…

    During 2002, debt subject to limit increased enough to reach the current statutory debt limit, $5.95 trillion. Legislation increased the limit to $6.4 trillion in June 2002.

    In December 2002, the Administration asked Congress for another increase in the debt limit. As the limit was approached in February 2003, the Treasury resorted to accounting measures at its disposal to avoid exceeding the limit. The adoption of the FY 2004 budget resolution conference report by Congress in early April 2003 triggered legislation in the House increasing the debt limit by $984 billion, deemed passed by the House, and sent to the Senate. In May, the Senate passed the increase, which the President signed on May 27, 2003…

    By the spring of 2004, the Treasury began asking for another increase in the debt limit. Congress did not act to raise the debt limit before recessing in mid-October 2004. The Secretary of the Treasury soon notified Congress that he was taking allowed actions to avoid exceeding the debt limit. He also said that these actions would suffice only through mid-November when the Treasury would exhaust its ability to finance all federal activities. In an after-election session, Congress passed and the President signed legislation raising the debt limit by $800 billion.

    And not that it would do him any good on health care at this point, but Harry Reid should note the following…

    In 2005, Congress included debt limit raising reconciliation instructions in the FY 2006 budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 95). The adoption of the budget resolution also triggered the automatic passage in the House of a debt limit increase (H.J. Res. 47). No action on raising the limit was taken during calendar year 2005. The Secretary of the Treasury sent letters to Congress on December 22, 2005, and February 6 and March 6, 2006 asking for a debt-limit increase and warning that the Treasury would exhaust its options to avoid reaching the debt limit by mid-March. The Senate passed H.J. Res. 47 on March 16, after rejecting several amendments. The President signed it into law (P.L. 109-182) on March 20. The law increased the debt limit by $781 billion to $8.965 trillion.

    So, as you can see above, the debt limit increased by $3 trillion under Repug “governance” from 2002 to 2006 (and we went from a $230 billion surplus when Clinton left to a $2.8 trillion deficit by ’06).

    And by the way, the best way to get back at Wilson for his demagoguery (to say nothing of his rudeness) is to contribute to his opponent Rob Miller, who is competing for Wilson’s seat in Congress; to help Miller, click here.

  • 3) And finally, I haven’t said much lately about developments concerning Tiger Woods, since his story isn’t something I typically comment on, I know.

    However, I noticed that he was dropped as a corporate spokesman by Accenture, the consulting and outsourcing/offshoring company that spun off from the Arthur Andersen accounting firm in January 2001.

    And before we feel sorry for Accenture over this, consider the following (from February 2008, here)…

    Techdirt brings us the news that in January, the U.S. Patent Office granted a patent to two scientists who work for the consulting firm Accenture for “rapid knowledge transfer among workers.”

    Specifically, transferring knowledge from “experts” in one location to “apprentices” in another, via a Web-based set of templates. As the patent reads: “One application is a system for transferring knowledge in the context of outsourcing job functions of workers.”

    So, no more of that icky hands-on training of the foreign worker who will then perform your job for a fraction of your wages — a “level of personal interaction [that] has proved to be very costly.” Now, it can all be done online, for a fraction of the cost.

    Apparently, Accenture has come up with some means to facilitate the transfer of information from this country to someone offshore who can (in theory) do the job for less. And as we know, such knowledge is the life blood of not only a business, but someone’s career as well.

    And of course, this also adds to the deficit, though our corporate media will never bother to inform us of that, of course.

    So considering the news that this company has severed its advertising relationship with someone who is probably the pre-eminent golfer of easily the last ten years because it turns out that he was also a serial philanderer, I have only this to say.

    I think Woods is too good for them.


  • Monday Mashup (10/26/09)

    October 26, 2009

    Obama_Chicken

  • I just have three words for this one: stay classy, Repugs.
  • zurawik_8413

  • Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik criticized the Obama Administration’s “thin-skinned, heavy-handed minions” here over the mindlessly obvious observation that Fix Noise is the media wing of the Republican Party.

    Well, I don’t know how thin-skinned “Z on TV” is, but I have some evidence that he, at the very least, is a bit “heavy-handed” himself…

  • Here, Z. compares K.O and Rachel Maddow to Nazis (nice).
  • He said here that Fix Noise was “seriously questioning the administration of President Barack Obama as it pushes an agenda of massive social change not seen since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal” (when does Fix Noise “seriously” do anything, unless it’s Shep Smith going off-script and telling the truth?).
  • Z. compared K.O. to Joe McCarthy here with no proof (of course).
  • Here, Zurawik joined the hallelujah chorus deriding Dan Rather’s “disastrous” 2004 report on Dubya’s National Guard service; the criticism of “Z” focused on document minutiae but not the substance of the report describing how, among other pieces of this puzzle, “former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes in his first ever interview (said) that he had pulled strings to get the future president into the National Guard,” as noted by story producer Mary Mapes.
  • Here, Zurawik said he wants the White House to be “rally(ing) the spirits of the unemployed and the millions of others who fear they will soon lose jobs” instead of criticizing Fix Noise (huh?)
  • Oh, and “Z” expressed a bit of umbrage here over the fact that MSNBC airs episodes of “Locked Up” over the weekends in between news coverage here (and who else actually cares about that?).
  • Well then, on further review as they say, if “Z” gets worked into a froth over such a mindless objection (the “Locked Up” business), then maybe he is a bit thin-skinned after all.

  • Update 10/29/09: God, Zurawik is such a tool (here – h/t Atrios).

    PMW_jones_narrowweb__300x369,0

  • I try to avoid Zurawik’s fellow villager pundit Kathleen Parker, but her most recently concocted dreck (here) on the amendment sponsored by Sen. Al Franken in response to the ordeal suffered by KBR contractor Jamie Leigh Jones (pictured) is too odious to ignore…

    The amendment, which passed Oct. 6 by a 68 to 30 vote, was intended to prevent the Pentagon from contracting with companies that require employees to resolve disputes over sexual assault and discrimination through arbitration rather than through the courts.

    The impetus behind the amendment was the 2005 horror story of (Jones), then a 20-year-old employee of Halliburton/KBR in Iraq, who alleged that she was drugged, gang-raped and held captive for 24 hours in a shipping container without food or water. When Jones sought legal recourse, the defense contractor argued that, under its employment contract, she had to pursue her complaint through arbitration rather than the courts.

    So far so good with Parker – but…

    No one hearing details of the alleged assault wants to be on the side of those who attacked her — or the company that refused to help her. If you’re a remotely savvy politician, that’s not a battle you want to join.

    How about a politician possessing a modicum of basic human decency? What does “savvy” have to do with trying to comprehend Jones’ horrifying ordeal?

    One might assume, therefore, that there must be some reasonable explanation for 30 Republican senators taking a position that would invite vilification. It’s true that Halliburton donates seven times more campaign money to Republicans than to Democrats, according to http://CampaignMoney.com. Then again, while we’re crunching numbers, journalists donate disproportionately to Democrats — more than five times as much as they give to the GOP.

    The implication that campaign funding for either party had anything whatsoever to do with deciding to do the right thing here is almost too repugnant for words.

    And the only fault that Parker can find with the 30 senators who opposed the Franken amendment is that they “haven’t been brilliant in explaining their position” (of course, for these 30 utterly clueless and heartless life forms, they’re lucky I suppose that Parker is here to explain their position for them).

    See, according to Parker, the amendment was opposed by the 30 senators, the Department of Defense and the White House because if was “overbroad,” which may or may not be true. However, according to TPM here…

    The White House does say it supports “the intent of the amendment,” spokesman Tommy Vietor told TPM.

    Vietor also said the White House is working with legislators to rework the amendment “to make sure it is enforceable.”

    The Senate legislation, part of a defense appropriations bill, must still be merged with a House bill before it can be signed.

    And just as a reminder, here are more details on what Jones endured, which led to the Franken amendment…

    Ms Jones was working in Iraq during Iraqi Operation Freedom for KRB when she was brutally sexually assaulted. When she reported the gang rape, she was held imprisoned in a shipping container by two armed KBR guards until she could call the Embassy to reach her father, after which she was rescued.

    Ms Jones needed reconstructive surgery due to the brutal nature of her attack. Reconstructive surgery! And the assailants claim it was “consensual”. Her breasts were misshapen and torn from the wall of her chest, among other painful injuries she sustained.

    Of course, far be it for Parker to include all of this in her screed, a typically “through the looking glass” bit of bogus Beltway blather trying to defend the utterly indefensible.

    I think I speak for many when I say that I think Jones is a hero. I cannot comprehend her bravery, and the very least we can do to honor it is to pass the amendment with whatever modifications for enforceability are necessary so that it is signed into law at the earliest possible moment.

    Which would thus subvert the obstruction of at least 30 ignorant white men who only want Jones to shut up and go away.


  • Friday Mashup (10/16/09)

    October 16, 2009

  • I really try not to waste everyone’s time with trying to refute the nonsense of some of the right-wing media’s most visible suspects, but I have to say something about a certain Flush Limbore being denied a shot at owning the St. Louis Rams football team.

    As noted here, this has provided an opportunity to assorted culprits in the wingnutosphere to claim that Flush lost out because of “political correctness,” resurrecting some quotes that may have been falsely attributed to him (such as supposedly claiming that James Earl Ray deserved a posthumous Medal of Honor and slavery keep the streets safe…or something).

    Yes, well, I have an extremely hard time feeling sympathy for an individual who used some really cowardly code language to criticize Donavan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles (I’ve gotten ticked off at McNabb in the past, speaking for only myself, but I would never imagine that there was a “social concern” in somehow allowing him to become a top-flight NFL quarterback). And for more supposedly “color-blind” Limbore commentary, click here.

    Also, aside from his typical race-baiting antics, Limbore seems to have a preoccupation with a particular portion of the anatomy (Salon.com took note of that here; I’ll merely let you choose to read the incidents in question for yourself, dear reader, to find out how truly odious an individual he is).

    Beyond all of this, sportswriter Dave Zirin of The Nation tells us the following here (from HuffPo)…

    (Flush’s) ownership group, led by St. Louis Blues boss Dave Checketts, dumped Rush without ceremony or pity. Checketts issued a statement saying, “It has become clear that his involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions; endangering our bid to keep the team in St. Louis. As such, we have decided to move forward without him and hope it will eventually lead us to a successful conclusion.”

    His comments came the day after Rush insisted on his show that they would fight this to the bitter end. But Checketts, like most owners a long time donor to right wing causes, had no desire to link arms with Limbaugh for a public crusade. You might think Rush would have gone on the air to slam Checketts’s absence of a spine. You might think he would have called out the hypocrisy of NFL owners who give prodigiously to right wing candidates and causes, but insist on doing it in the shadows. You might think he would rail against those who see their conservative support as something sordid and best done behind closed doors. You might think Rush would howl at the moon at those who think that being an open, unreconstructed right winger, actually hurts the almighty bottom line. You might think he would say that the right wing has failed a major test by refusing to back him. Or maybe you might think he would take a different tack and accept personal responsibility for why a group of billionaires wouldn’t want his presence affecting their bottom line.

    But no.

    Flush “accept personal responsibility”? That makes about as much sense as the Eagles continuing to run that idiotic “wildcat” formation with Michael Vick, which, thus far, has generated comic relief but not much else.

  • This Op-Ed on the Fix Noise site from Doug Schoen tells us the following…

    The White House is making a profound political mistake by targeting Fox News and deliberately deciding to exclude them from interviews and access to the administration. And not only that, they are making a mistake on both a practical and a political level.

    Frankly, it just doesn’t make sense.

    Actually, what doesn’t make sense here is Schoen’s supposition that the White House intends to cut off access to the “news network”; as White House Communications Director Anita Dunn pointed out here…

    “Obviously [the President] will go on Fox because he engages with ideological opponents. He has done that before and he will do it again… when he goes on Fox he understands he is not going on it as a news network at this point. He is going on it to debate the opposition.”

    And here is more Schoen shilling for his corporate “betters” by the way (so he definitely knows about “profound political mistakes” – and it gets better with Schoen)…

    Fox News’ news programs are straightforward.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    Most importantly, Fox News’ audience involves a substantial number of independents and moderate Republicans who should have access to, and might be persuaded by, some of the administration’s arguments. To simply believe that you can target Democrats and some of the independents through the rest of the mainstream media, and write off an audience of between two and four million people, is just plain illogical.

    I love the way that Schoen basically assumes that the “blogosphere” (still don’t like that word, but can’t think of a better one) doesn’t exist, as if our corporate media is the only means by which voters can be accessed.

    And if you want to get an idea as to exactly why the Obama White House would look upon Fix Noise this way, I think this story gives a bit of a hint (and I think you can consider this as a response to Dunn’s entirely accurate comments, by the way).

  • Update: Goodthis is all they understand.

    Update 10/19/09: Yep, I think this is curious also (h/t Atrios).

    Update 10/21/09: And here is some perspective on this, by the way.

  • Finally, U.S. House Rep Virginia Foxx wrote the following from here…

    This week I introduced the Fairness in Representation Act, legislation that requires the Census Bureau to determine the number of illegal immigrants in the United States.

    The decennial census is not currently required to collect data regarding the legal status of immigrants in the U.S. This means that states with high numbers of illegal immigrants stand to gain additional seats in Congress in the once-every-10-years process of reapportionment. This also means that the law-abiding residents of states with low numbers of illegal immigrants stand to lose seats to those states with high numbers of illegal immigrants.

    That is not fair and equal representation in Congress.

    Sooo…basically, because the Repugs couldn’t get their act together on immigration reform when they ran Congress, they decided to “punt” the whole issue of trying to find out exactly how many illegal immigrants we have in this country to the Census Bureau.

    Nice; also, this USA Today story tells us about the obstacles that Senate Repugs “Diaper Dave” Vitter and Bob Bennett ran into when they tried to do the same thing as Foxx, namely as follows…

    The amendment comes less than six months before 2010 Census questionnaires are mailed to 135 million households. About 425 million forms have already been printed, according to the bureau. Some are in different languages; others are duplicates that will go to houses that do not respond to the first mailing.

    The Census Bureau is launching an outreach campaign to persuade Americans that next year’s national head count will be a simple, painless process.

    The “Take 10” campaign promotes the idea that the Census form has only 10 questions and should take just 10 minutes to answer. Adding questions would require designing new forms. “It’s operationally impossible,” says Steve Jost, Census associate communications director. “The forms are printed, folded. We have bilingual forms. … We’re printing 1.5 million forms a day.”

    Some Latino groups such as the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders are calling for immigrants to boycott the Census unless laws are changed to give those here illegally a chance to gain legal status.

    “Already the public fears that the Census is too intrusive,” says Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, which opposes both the amendment and the boycott.

    “Asking about citizenship status “would raise more questions in the public mind about how confidential the Census is,” Vargas says.

    Just file this under another failed attempt at intelligent governance by this country’s minority political party in Washington, D.C. (and God help any illegals who could be victims of hate crime, since Foxx has an awful record on that score too, as noted here).

  • Update 10/21/09: More from the New York Times on this here…


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