Wednesday Mashup Part One (5/12/10)

May 12, 2010

  • In local election news “across the river,” I should let you know that Tony Mack won the right to run against either Eric Jackson (public works director under outgoing Mayor Doug Palmer) or at-large Councilman Manny Segura in the Trenton, NJ mayoral election on June 15th, as noted here.

    And in news involving someone who may end up as a candidate for a Darwin Award, mayoral candidate and author/activist Shahid Watson took over somebody’s house for the purposes of setting up campaign headquarters and will subsequently face charges (here…and just for the record, let it be known that Watson actually received 200 votes; maybe those are other award nominees…?).

  • And in news closer to home, this article from The Hill tells us that 15 out of 18 members of PA’s congressional delegation “signaled their support” for an NBC/Comcast merger; those who didn’t sign the letter favoring the deal were Joe Sestak (D), Mike Doyle (D) and Paul Kanjorski (D).

    What a shame that none of those signatories have anything approximating the spine of Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, who gave Brian Roberts the upbraiding he deserved here (apparently, Comcast is surpassed only by the NRA in the Keystone State when it comes to wielding political clout).

  • Finally, as noted here by U.S. House Repug Joe (“You Lie!”) Wilson of South Carolina, today is “Jerusalem Reunification Day.”

    For a somewhat different perspective, I ask that you read this.

    And to commemorate the day further, a full page ad in the NYT from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Fund claims that former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin “gave his life for his country.”

    That’s true, but not in the way you would commonly understand it; as Wikipedia tells us here, Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a radical right-wing Orthodox Jew who opposed the signing of the Oslo Accords with PLO Leader Yasser Arafat.

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    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 Part 1 (11/30/09)

    November 30, 2009

  • 1) I detected a bit of an inconsistency with the following from Republican political strategist Ed Rollins in this CNN editorial…

    …Michaele and Tareq Salahi want to be famous as stars of reality television. I am all for that. Give them a reality television series and call it “Trial and Jailtime” in the D.C. criminal justice system. This despicable, desperate, duplicitous couple disgraced the Secret Service and embarrassed the president in his home.

    If someone wants to bring charges against these two and investigate how they came face-to-face with the President of the United States the other night at the state dinner for the Indian prime minister and his wife, then I would tend to think that that’s a good idea.

    However, it would have been nice if we had heard such outrage from Rollins and his pals when James Guckert (under the alias “Jeff Gannon”) accessed the White House and was admitted to the White House press briefing room on day press passes for almost two years, even though the following was true:

    • (Gannon had) no media experience other than a two-day training course at The Leadership Institute’s Broadcast School of Journalism.
    • (Gannon) was denied media credentials April 7, 2004, by the “Standing Committee of Correspondents, the press body that oversees the distribution of credentials on Capitol Hill.”
    • (Gannon) was not working for a recognized media outlet.
    • (Gannon) had access to the White House press briefing room before Talon News (a “psuedo-news” organization tied to a right-wing web site; it was the alleged news site Gannon worked for) was operational.

    So to sum up, Rollins thinks that the two gate crashers at the state dinner recently held at the White House should be prosecuted, but neither he nor anyone else in his party thinks Jeff Gannon should pay any price whatsoever, considering that he “somehow bypassed both Secret Service and FBI screening to access the White House press room.”

    And Rollins wrote this for CNN.

    We’ll have to “leave it there.”

  • 2) I felt like I was taking a bit of a trip back in time when I read through this “Politico” rehash of Republican talking points, called “7 ‘Stories’ Obama Doesn’t Want Told” (including the following – I’ll explain in a minute)…

    People used to make fun of Bill Clinton’s misty-eyed, raspy-voiced claims that, “I feel your pain.”

    The reality, however, is that Clinton’s dozen years as governor before becoming president really did leave him with a vivid sense of the concrete human dimensions of policy. He did not view programs as abstractions — he viewed them in terms of actual people he knew by name.

    Obama, a legislator and law professor, is fluent in describing the nuances of problems. But his intellectuality has contributed to a growing critique that decisions are detached from rock-bottom principles.

    Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

    The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

    (Oh, by the way, this is “story” number two of seven – insert your snark here.)

    So basically, what we have here is a “reboot,” if you will, of the Al Gore “Ozone Man” narrative of the 2000 election (as the punditocracy told us, Gore was intellectual, not a “common man” like George W. Bush, couldn’t decide whether or not he was an “alpha male” and was therefore a liar, etc. – I know I’m leaving some other contrived mythology on Gore, but you get the idea).

    And it’s appropriate actually that Harris would mention MoDo here since, perhaps more than anyone else (here), she piled onto the former veep during the campaign over Gore’s “obsessions about global warming and the information highway”; she also compared Gore to the “wackadoo wing of the Democratic Party” for his criticism of the Iraq war; and has repeatedly furthered numerous falsehoods about Gore, such as that Gore once claimed to have “invented the Internet” (guess there was no way to avoid that one) and that author Naomi Wolf advised Gore on his wardrobe.

    And by the way, I would not have blamed Dowd or anyone else if what they wrote was legitimate, verifiable criticism instead of corporate media idiocy.

    But getting back to Obama, John Harris of Politico takes note of the president’s “peculiar” bow to the Japanese emperor and concludes with the following…

    Obama’s best hope of nipping bad storylines is to replace them with good ones rooted in public perceptions of his effectiveness.

    Of course, there’s no word on whether or not Harris and his playmates will actually take note of those “good ones” (such as Obama’s speech before Congress on health care and not taking the bait of the oafish Joe “You Lie” Wilson) as opposed to rehashing the bad ones instead for the millionth time.

  • Update 1 12/1/09: And while The Politico concocts dookey like this, blogger Nathan Newman actually went to work and reported on achievements of the Obama Administration here (of course, too bad that reality conflicts with Harris’s dumb narratives – hat tip to Chris Bowers of Open Left).

    Update 2 12/1/09: “Spock this” indeed – ha, ha, ha.

  • 3) And finally, here is more unintentional comedy from “Z on TV”…

    A consensus is starting to build that says so far, Barack Obama has been a lot better at playing a president on TV than actually being one in 2009.

    Maybe it is the arrival of the holidays and the inescapable realization that our president has seemed to be mostly indifferent to the millions of Americans who are out of work and can’t even start to think of holiday cheer. While the White House has been focused in recent months on such misguided campaigns as trying to beat Fox News into submission for daring to criticize him, more and more Americans are wondering why the president hasn’t heard their growing cries of desperation. That’s what the intensity and outrage of the town halls were really about during the summer. But the tin ears in the administration didn’t hear it. They were too busy booking the president on every talk show on television — as long as it wasn’t on Fox News.

    You know, it’s really hilarious to read someone like Zurawik criticize Obama for “playing president” (and any proof on this emerging “consensus,” by the way?) after less than a year in office after we all had to endure the antics of Commander Codpiece since he was installed into An Oval Office in November 2000 (I’ll tell you what, Z – let me know if Obama “drops in” on our troops with a plastic Thanksgiving turkey like 43 did here, and maybe I’ll take you seriously, OK?).

    And as far as Obama being “indifferent” to Americans out of work, all I can ask is which party supported the “Stim” and which one didn’t (and which president signed it into law – this tells us that the ARRA “added roughly 2.3 percentage points to real GDP growth in the second quarter “ and created or saved between 660,000 and 1.1 million jobs…and I didn’t recall hearing a plan for a “stimulus” from the Palin/McBush ticket last year).

    Also, as far as Obama appearing on every talk show except Fix Noise, is “Z” aware that Obama was interviewed here by Major Garrett on November 19th? And another thing… anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the corporate “Astro-turf” support behind the teabaggers and their faux outrage over the summer is suffering from a serious case of reality avoidance anyway (here).

    And finally, how’s this for a “Z” “mea culpa”…

    Don’t blame me on this one, folks. I have been saying this since early in the year, and generally catching hell for it even from some of my colleagues.

    If you, Z, as a salaried media pundit who writes for a living, don’t even have the fortitude to take some criticism, then stick to writing about TV “reality” shows and Tiger Woods’ vehicle accident instead (or the White House “gate crashers” I noted previously), and leave political criticism for those who do even a bare minimum of research to make their case.


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