Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Mashup (1/18/11)

  • I’m a bit overdue to catch up on the wretched blog of J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times, but I did so recently here (misstep with punctuation and all), in response to Obama’s speech at Tucson in the wake of the shooting.

    Concerning which, as far as Mullane is concerned, Obama received a “dead cat” bounce in a poll according to Real Clear Politics.

    Which is funny when you consider that, according to Joe Klein here, not only did Obama receive a “robust” approval rating of 54 percent following the speech according to an ABC/Washington Post poll, but he may have “peaked too soon.”

    Either way, nobody is going to care as we get closer to the 2012 elections (and I can’t stomach the thought of them at this point either).

    And as noted here, Real Clear Politics once “reported” that the Israeli delegation did not attend a speech by Obama at the U.N. without explaining the reason why – it turned out that they did so in observance of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, and they notified the Obama Administration to that effect prior to the speech (once more, in the immortal words of Max Bialystock in “The Producers,” “just say ‘oops’ and get out”).

    Just stick to showing videos of Jonny Quest and snark about the “34,000-year-old” Helen Thomas next time, OK J.D?

  • Next (and speaking of partisan hackery), former Bushco flak Marc Thiessen bloviates as follows at the Washington Post (here)…

    Let's be clear: Republicans have the upper hand in the coming fight over raising the federal debt limit. President Obama will push to raise the limit without giving Republicans the massive spending cuts they demand. But in the end he will cave.
    We’ll see about that (and as noted here, old habits die particularly hard for Thiessen).

    Fortunately, Repug Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that failure to raise the U.S. debt ceiling would cause “financial collapse and calamity throughout the world” here (more on that in a minute from Prof. Krugman).

    So what exactly do U.S. House Repug Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker John Boehner propose? Well, a lot of posturing, if this is any indication.

    They also came up with some scheme called “Cut-go,” which is their version of the “Pay-go” rules implemented by their Democratic predecessors (here). The difference is that, in the Repug “through the looking glass” approach to fiscal matters, “tax cuts are exempted (from Cut-go rules about spending offsets applied to entitlements).”

    And for the record, let it be known here that the debt limit was raised seven times under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, and nobody put on funny hats, paraded around with racist signs or generally made asses of themselves over it (and no, I would not normally encourage deficit spending either, but if and when this country experiences something approximating Clinton-era prosperity again, please let me know, and then I’ll be concerned about paying down the deficit).

    Or, as Krugman tells us here…

    …the moralizers will have none of it. They denounce deficit spending, declaring that you can’t solve debt problems with more debt. They denounce debt relief, calling it a reward for the undeserving.

    And if you point out that their arguments don’t add up, they fly into a rage. Try to explain that when debtors spend less, the economy will be depressed unless somebody else spends more, and they call you a socialist. Try to explain why mortgage relief is better for America than foreclosing on homes that must be sold at a huge loss, and they start ranting like Mr. Santelli. No question about it: the moralizers are filled with a passionate intensity.

    And those who should know better lack all conviction.
    Which brings us back to Thiessen, someone with plenty of conviction, though he hardly knows better.

  • In addition, I found this item at The Daily Tucker, in which someone named Robert Morrison complained that President Obama is supposedly funding the Palestinian Authority at the expense of the Coast Guard (oh, brother).

    I should first point out the following, in response to a similar charge made by Moon Unit Bachmann (here)…

    …Bachmann’s claim that the aid package means Obama “chose” Hamas over Israel is complete nonsense. Beyond that fact that Obama has repeatedly stressed his support for Israel, U.S. aid to Israel easily dwarfs that to the Palestinian territories, and aid to Israel has actually increased under Obama. This fiscal year, the administration budgeted $2.7 billion for Israel, while it plans to give $2.85 billion in FY 2011.

    Beyond this, Bachmann’s claim is based on the false suggestion that aid to Gaza is unprecedented. President Bush continued to fund humanitarian operations in Gaza, even after Hamas won an election and took control in 2006. As the New York Times noted soon after Obama took office, “By seeking to aid Gazans but not Hamas, the administration is following the lead of the Bush administration, which sent money to Gaza through nongovernmental organizations.”
    I will grant the point that the Coast Guard has undergone budget cuts, though. However, the following should be noted from a recent speech by Admiral Bob Papp, the Coast Guard Commandant (first link from here)…

    In early January (2010) after a devastating earthquake in Haiti, followed on April 20 by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, our cutters and crews quickly transitioned from their counter-drug and migrant patrols, to humanitarian assistance and then oil response.

    While the media continuously broadcast our heroic efforts, there was something the public did not see. Our aging fleet suffered major casualties. Of our 12 major cutters assigned to Haitian relief operations, 10 – or 83 percent – suffered severe break-downs. Two were forced to return to port for emergency repairs; one had to proceed to emergency dry dock.

    This high casualty rate was not cause by a lack of oversight by Commands, or poor maintenance by our crews. Rather, the simple fact is that for a very long time we have been relying on outdated and rapidly aging ships. Our fleet of 12, 378-foot high endurance cutters has an average age of 40 years. Let me say that again – the average age of our high endurance cutters is 40 years old. Compare that to 14-years for a U.S. Navy ship. I can tell you, while the Navy is also faced with budget challenges, they don’t perform their missions with such antiquated assets.

    Maintaining old ships is costly – both in dollars and mission performance. In FY09 we spent 3.5 times our budgeted maintenance funds to keep our high endurance cutters operational. Even so, we lost 569 patrol days to engineering casualties – that equates to an astounding one-quarter of the total available patrol days. This is unacceptable.

    Now the good news is the acquisition project to replace 12 high endurance cutters is well underway. They will be replaced with 8 National Security Cutters – known as the Legend Class. To date, 2 of the 8 NSCs are in service – The 3rd, the Cutter STRATTON, was recently christened by Michelle Obama in July, and is 75% complete. And, we’ve just signed a contract for the 4th.

    The new NSC provides much-needed state of the art communications, detection, and security systems and also features excellent crew habitability. They measure 418-feet, and feature increased range and endurance (60–90 day patrol cycles), better sea keeping, and higher transit speeds. They are equipped with multiple small boats; more powerful armament (57mm medium caliber deck gun and a 20mm Close-In Weapon System); a large flight deck and dual hangars for helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles; chemical, biological and radiological environmental hazard detection and defense; and improved Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment.

    Simply stated, the NSC is the most sophisticated and capable cutter the Coast Guard has ever operated.

    There’s a genuine need for high endurance cutters – they are the asset of choice for long range security and law enforcement missions that are required to be conducted in heavy seas – or far from shore. Besides protecting the Nation’s fisheries stocks, recent operational examples include the joint CG-Navy response to the Carnival cruise ship Splendor disabled by fire off Mexico – and the 738-ft merchant vessel Golden Seas that lost propulsion in the treacherous Bering Sea, posing a potential environmental disaster if forced aground. Both of these responses required high-endurance cutters.
    Oh, and speaking of the Coast Guard, I have a question for President Obama; though, based on this, another boneheaded policy by your predecessor is at fault here, can you please tell me what the hell the Guard is doing in Afghanistan?

  • Finally, get ready to be inundated in a few weeks with a ton of “Reaganalia” over the 100th birthday of The Gipper himself, with this being a preview from Paul Kengor (here)…

    Reagan had been highly active in confronting Alzheimer’s from the start of his presidency. He would make eight separate statements on the disease, averaging one for each year in the White House. In these, he called Alzheimer’s “devastating,” an “indiscriminate killer of mind and life.”

    His final presidential statement came November 5, 1988. It is chilling to read now, as it foretells Reagan’s own condition in his final years, and given that it came precisely six years to the day (November 5, 1994) when Reagan would announce to the world that he himself had the disease:

    “Alzheimer’s disease ranks among the most severe of afflictions, because it strips people of their memory and judgment and robs them of the essence of their personalities,” explained Reagan. “As the brain progressively deteriorates, tasks familiar for a lifetime, such as tying a shoelace or making a bed, become bewildering. Spouses and children become strangers. Slowly, victims of the disease enter profound dementia.”

    That was Reagan himself in the end—robbed of his essence. It was an eerie harbinger of what was to come.
    Kengor’s column also goes on to tell us of how Reagan interceded on behalf of the daughter of actress Rita Hayworth, with the screen legend suffering from Alzheimer’s disease herself (and Reagan exchanging supportive correspondence with Hayworth’s daughter and hosting a gala in Hayworth’s name to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research).

    What a shame that Number 40 couldn’t extend that same degree of support to those in this country in need of mental health services; as noted here…

    By the middle of the 1970s, groups representing the mentally ill, their families, and those who cared for them had reached a consensus on the need for reform. This culminated in the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act (in 1980). This implementation, though not without its problems, was seen as a progressive step forward. However the costs of these reforms were unacceptable in the new neoconservative climate and ran counter to the interests of capital. Reagan, who never presumed to support social policy, promised to cut federal spending and ensure a "favorable business climate." So under Reagan the new law was rescinded. This signaled that for Reagan's administration, social policy was of lower priority than fiscal policy.
    This was part of an effort to make mental health treatment a function of state government as opposed to the federal government (a similar perspective is offered here...and you can argue about the wisdom of this policy based on the Tucson shootings as far as I'm concerned).

    Also, I have no issue with anyone offering support for Reagan over the likelihood that he was afflicted with Alzheimer’s while he was president. However, I don’t think this is an issue that should be treated so benignly either.

    If he was unable to carry out the functions of his office due to his mental state, then those responsible for allowing him to do so should be held accountable, even if many of them have gone onto their eternal reward, or punishment, as the case may be.
  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    I rarely bother to look at Mullane these days, but it's pretty funny to watch him in action whenever Obama does something that defies his grotesque charicature. His gross level of pettiness is like if Pee Wee Herman dumbed down.