Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday Mashup Part Two (8/10/10)

(Part One is here...also, I had a couple of items in my “in” bin from the weekend that I’m just getting to now.)

  • Timed somewhat for the 36th anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation from office over the Watergate scandal, Adam Nagourney of the New York Times reported the following (here)…

    Officials at the National Archives have curated a searing recollection of the Watergate scandal, based on videotaped interviews with 150 associates of Richard M. Nixon, an interactive exhibition that was supposed to have opened on July 1. But the Nixon Foundation — a group of Nixon loyalists who controlled this museum until the National Archives took it over three years ago — described it as unfair and distorted, and requested that the archives not approve the exhibition until its objections are addressed.

    The foundation went so far as to invoke Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, noting that those presidents surreptitiously taped White House conversations before Nixon stepped on the scene.

    Bob Bostock, a former Nixon aide who designed the original Watergate exhibit and has been enlisted by the foundation to challenge the installation, filed a 132-page letter of objection to the archives last week, claiming that the exhibit lacked the context needed to help young visitors learning about Watergate to understand exactly what Nixon did.

    “Taping and wiretapping go back as far as F.D.R.,” Mr. Bostock said. “It lacks the context it needs: that Nixon was not the first president to do some of these things and that some of these things had been going on with many of his predecessors, in some cases, much more than he did.”
    It really cracks me up here that the Nixon people are acting like the fact that he taped conversations was the issue, forgetting, by design I'm sure, that the issue wasn't the actual taping, but the contents of what was taped...hush money to Watergate burglar Howard Hunt and the rest of them, what a pain in the ass Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox was as far as Nixon was concerned, some of the rough language that shocked people at the time, etc.

    Richard Nixon wasn't named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Watergate cover-up by a grand jury on March 1, 1974 merely because of the existence of the taping system (the grand jury also indicted White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, assistant to the President John Ehrlichman, AG John Mitchell, Republican official Robert Mardian, Special Counsel Charles Colson, Haldeman aide Gordon Strachan and Kenneth Parkinson of the Committee to Re-Elect the President in the cover-up).

    Richard Nixon wasn't maligned by individuals of diverse political persuasions merely because of the existence of a taping system in the White House, but for schemes such as formulating a plan with Haldeman to have the CIA impede the FBI's investigation of the Watergate break-in. He is also held in low regard by a great many Americans because of his "deliberate, contrived, continued and continuing deception of the American people," according to John Doar, Chief Counsel for the United States House Committee on the Judiciary, which he said in 1974 a few months before Nixon's resignation.

    And I, for one, can’t wait to view the exhibit at the National Archives.

  • Also (speaking of Republican chief executives), Former President Highest Disapproval Rating in Gallup Poll History told us the following (from here – more certifiable idiocy courtesy of Matt Bai of the Times)…

    Once, in what seems like another eon of Republican politics, George W. Bush dreamed of building a multiethnic party that would achieve dominance in a nation where the words “majority” and “minority” were losing their meaning. Mr. Bush was adamant, in the days after the terrorist attacks of 2001, that American Muslims not become the targets of public resentment, and he later pushed a plan to offer illegal immigrants a path toward citizenship.
    In response, I give you the following (here)…

    In the days after the horror of the 11 September attacks, President George W Bush made a point of saying Muslims per se were not America's enemy.

    But in the five years since then, he has taken less care to emphasise that message, US Muslim leaders are saying.

    They are upset about his use of terms like "Islamic fascists", which he used this week both for Hezbollah and the suspected bomb plotters held in the UK.

    "It offends the vast majority of moderate Muslims," Ahmed Younis said.

    "The use of the term casts a shadow upon Islam and bolsters the argument that there is a clash of civilisations between Islam and the West," Mr Younis, the national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (Mpac), told the BBC.
    Also (returning to Bai)…

    When Mr. Bush, a Texan fluent both in Spanish and in immigration policy
    Ugh – Bai is such a dope; as noted here, Dubya is fluent in English only (and based on this, even that claim is debatable).

  • Update 8/12/10: And Bai remains a dope, as noted here (h/t Atrios).

  • Further, we should all welcome former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm back from vacation; he told us the following from here…

    Although polls show frustrated Americans now hold Obama responsible for the nation's lagging economic condition…
    Uh, no.

    Also, it appears that Malcolm has dug out his crystal ball through which he can peer into the political future (to wit)…

    A year from now if Obama's political standing continues its national slide presaging a possible Jimmy Carteresque single term…
    I’ll tell you what – just click here to read what Media Matters has to say in response (in particular to the Obama/Bush stuff).

  • Finally, Joe Pitts is at it again (here, on the subject of what to do if you lose your employer-based health insurance)…

    Congress recognized this problem in 1986 and gave Americans the right to continue their employee coverage in the Combined Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

    However, COBRA benefits come with a hefty cost. The unemployed must cover the full monthly cost of benefits plus a 2 percent administrative fee. This is typically more than $1,000 a month. Paying for COBRA benefits can quickly eat through a family’s savings and unemployment benefits.

    That’s why I voted for federal COBRA subsidies over the last two years that helped to pay for up to 65 percent of the cost of continuing benefits. Congress recently failed to pass an extension for this program. However, I support legislation that would continue this temporary benefit without increasing the deficit and without increasing taxes.
    As you may expect, Pancake Joe doesn’t bother to cite his votes, but this tells us that he voted No to a bill that, in part “would appropriate $79 billion to fund unemployment checks and COBRA health benefits for the long-term jobless and help states meet Medicaid obligations, among other social safety-net outlays.”


    The problem with COBRA is that when you need it, you can’t afford it. I’ve heard this over and over from people. Constituents asked me to find a solution, and so I’ve introduced H.R. 6001, the COBRA Affordability Act. My bill would allow Americans to save up for future COBRA payments tax-free.

    While my bill would not benefit current COBRA participants, it would provide a means for those currently working to plan for the possibility of future unemployment. Right now, COBRA benefits must be paid for out of personal savings, with no tax benefit.

    My legislation would allow workers to contribute to a new COBRA Premium Payment Account with pre-tax dollars. Individuals could contribute up to $2,500 a year to these accounts. The bill has a cumulative contribution cap of just under $12,000 per individual and just over $27,000 for a family. The caps are indexed to a government measure of medical price inflation and were established based on the average cost of buying COBRA benefits for two years.
    Soo…individuals can only contribute up to $12,000 and families up to $27,000 under Joe’s “cumulative contribution cap”? At that point, then, these folks are “maxed out”?

    And of course, this assumes that people will actually be able to save that much money for their own coverage (wonder how many years that will take)?

    Meanwhile, this tells us that “In 2008, the full annual cost of employer-sponsored health insurance averaged $4,704 for an individual policy and $12,680 for a family policy.8” (and you can be sure that those amounts have risen over the last two years; the only question is by how much).

    And keeping the Kaiser numbers in mind, under Pitts’s “plan” that he’s so proud of, individuals would only be able to afford their COBRA coverage for not quite three years and probably less ($4,704 divided by $12,000) and families for less than that ($12,680 divided by $27,000).

    And as Pitts tells us, his bill wouldn’t do a damn thing for anyone trying to pay for their COBRA benefits now (and not everyone who is unemployed qualifies for COBRA, it should be noted), because they weren’t clairvoyant and/or thrifty enough to anticipate their unemployment and squirrel away the money they need in advance.

    Once more, I must implore any voters of PA-16 who may be reading this to do the right thing and click here. As long as he is allowed to take up space in the House so he can vote No, Pitts’s very presence is a danger to working men and women and families across this whole country, not just in his own district.
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