Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday Mashup (3/10/11)

  • I give you more hilarity from Irrational Spew over Repug U.S. House Rep Peter King’s SCARY MUSLIM! hearings (here)…

    Washington — Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas) took the spotlight at the Homeland Security Committee’s hearing today, railing against Rep. Peter King, the GOP chairman, and describing his effort to investigate radical Muslims as “playing into al-Qaeda” and “going the same route as Arizona.”

    In a bit of political theater, she held up a copy of the Constitution and continued to speak, even as King banged his gavel.
    And Robert Costa tells us that “the ruckus (as Lee held her copy of the Constitution) caused light laughs throughout the hearing room”; well, I’ll watch the tape later and judge for myself, thank you.

    But isn’t it interesting how it isn’t a “ruckus” when Orange Man and his pals do the same thing (from that little stunt where the Repugs read only excerpts of that document that they liked and not all of it at the beginning of the session…where Mikey The Beloved said there was a “President pro temporary” of the Senate).

  • Next, for something perhaps more amusing than that, someone at The Daily Tucker gives us the following (here, with a bit of a link to the prior item above)…

    And so, let’s make The Huffington Post a “no-blog zone” and a “no-read zone” until their “demands” are met: Because, let’s face it, the miserly few, such as Arianna, are making big bucks in blogging, while throwing mere crumbs to the rest of us.

    Arianna, in fact, jets around the globe — to Greece, Switzerland, Chile, Italy and elsewhere — living the high life. Yes, this is the same Arianna Huffington who recently secured a $315-million sweetheart deal with AOL!

    But will the toiling bloggers at The Huffington Post see one red cent of the proceeds? Come on! Don’t be naïve! Everyone knows that Arianna and her cronies intend to pocket every last dime!

    The left-wing blogging queen is utterly indifferent to the needs of her employees and contributors! She channels Marie Antoinette and says in effect: “Let them eat cake!”

    Indeed, “Huffington’s awareness of the strike was confirmed by her statement at a conference [on] Thursday,” The Daily Caller notes, “when she said, ‘Go ahead, go on strike.’ She also criticized ‘the idea of going on strike when no one really notices.’”

    As Bob Dole once said, “Where’s the outrage?!”

    Oh, we notice, Arianna. We’ve noticed for some time. We’ve noticed your lies and your double standards. But this time you’re not going to win.

    This time the left and the right blogosphere will join together to end your corrupt reign!
    As it says in the Constitution, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”!
    Gosh, I didn’t know one of our founding fathers was Karl Marx (here).

  • Further, it looks like it’s time to deflate the “zombie lie” once more than public employees, in particular federal ones, make more than their private sector counterparts (here - even though Cato, Heritage and Breitbart keep peddling this crap, that doesn’t automatically make it true)…

    Cost-cutting House Republicans on Wednesday made it clear that they are eyeing the salaries of federal workers.

    And they don’t like what they see.

    During a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing, panel Chairman Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) noted that “federal employees on average earned $101,628 in total compensation in 2010, nearly four times more than the average private-sector worker.”

    He argued President Obama’s two-year pay freeze for federal workers, enacted in December, “wasn’t really a freeze” because it did not include all increases. He also decried the fact that Obama’s 2012 budget calls for hiring 15,000 more federal workers.

    Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry shot back that studies showing federal workers earn more than private-sector workers are misleading, and said federal workers should not be denigrated.
    Indeed - and to amplify that, I give you the following from here…

    …as with state and local governments, this line of attack is an apples-to-oranges comparison at best and an outright deception at worst. As FactCheck pointed out:

    The analysis is based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and crudely done by dividing total compensation (salary and benefits) by the number of current federal civilian employees. Comparing such averages is quite misleading, for two reasons:

    First, BEA says the figure is inflated by including compensation that is actually paid to benefit retirees, not just for current workers. The figure is at least several thousand dollars too high, by our calculations.

    Second, the average federal civilian worker is better educated, more experienced and more likely to have management or professional responsibilities than the average private worker.

    Over 44% of federal employees have a college degree, compared to about 19% of private sector workers. More importantly, an assessment of salaries (excluding benefits) by the Office of Personnel Management found that on average comparable federal civilian workers are paid 22 percent less than private workers.
    Lather, rinse, repeat – this is a recording.

  • In addition, we also have this item from The Hill…

    …members of the National Federation of Independent Business consistently rank government regulations and red tape as the most important problems facing businesses today. One in five business owners explain that red tape is their single biggest concern – even over taxes, inflation, and the cost of labor.

    The biggest culprit is the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency is engaged in a number of new, over-reaching regulatory efforts that would cripple the ability of American businesses to compete. While the business community understands the benefits of caring for the environment, the EPA adopts new rules and guidance that create burdensome and costly obligations that provide no quantifiable benefits to human health or the environment.
    I should tell you up front that trying to untangle this is going to be a bit of a chore, but I’m going to give it a shot concerning one facet of our environment. And to understand where we are at this moment, we need to go back in time to the beginning of the prior decade.

    As noted here, there were three rulings by the Ninth Circuit Court (in 2001, 2002 and 2005) that, to varying degrees, ruled on the question of whether or not the remains of chemical pesticides in water bodies constituted a pollutant. Basically, the decisions trended towards ruling that the pesticides were pollutants if residue remained in the water, but were not pollutants if they didn’t (fairly logical enough). However, the Bushco EPA issued a rule in 2006 that exempted the application of aquatic pesticides in compliance with (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) from the (Clean Water Act). As the article tells us…

    (The) EPA explained that aquatic pesticides that are sprayed or otherwise applied consistent with FIFRA are not “chemical wastes” because “they are products that EPA has evaluated and registered for the purpose of controlling target organisms, and are designed, purchased, and applied to perform that purpose.”
    So what happened in response?

    Environmental and industry groups subsequently challenged EPA’s final rule in eleven circuit courts throughout the United States. The petitions for review were consolidated in the Sixth Circuit by an order of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. National Cotton Council v. EPA, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 45 (6th Cir. 2009).
    And as a result…

    ..the (Sixth Circuit) Court rejected EPA’s argument that excess and residual pesticides should be exempt from NPDES permitting requirements because they do not qualify as pollutants at the time of discharge.
    And further…

    ..the Court held that EPA’s final rule was not a reasonable interpretation of the CWA since the plain language of the terms “chemical waste” and “biological materials” unambiguously include aquatic pesticides. Accordingly, the Court vacated EPA’s final rule. The Court did not analyze arguments addressing the relationship between the CWA and FIFRA.
    So basically, we have the Obama Administration trying to comply with a ruling on what constitutes chemical wastes in our water that was necessitated by a typically wrongheaded interpretation by the regime of Former President Nutball which said that aquatic pesticide residue didn’t constitute chemical waste because we say it didn’t.

    And as far as U.S. House Repug Bob Gibbs’ complaint about the Army Corps of Engineers is concerned, the following should be noted from here…

    During the presidency of George W. Bush, it appeared that the federal attitude toward the practice (of mountaintop removal mining) was more permissive. Anti-mining activists viewed the election of Barack Obama as producing a president more sympathetic to their cause.

    Shortly after taking office, the Obama administration announced it was taking steps to reduce the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal. The Environmental Protection Agency began more rigorous reviews of the valley fill permit applications being considered by the Army Corps of Engineers and announced new guidance for agencies considering water pollution permits.
    To be fair, I should point out that Gibbs is a U.S. House rep from Ohio, where (last I checked) mountaintop removal does not take place (as opposed to the Ohio Valley). However, as noted here, the mining industry was Gibbs’ biggest campaign contributor for the 2010 election cycle, so it’s fairly easy to see that they’re behind this wrongheaded attack on the Obama Administration, which is trying to comply legally with its response to yet another example of Bushco overreach (and here is another example, with repercussions for our beloved commonwealth in particular).

  • Finally, I really don’t have a lot to add to this New York Times story on the civil war currently raging in Libya, but I just wanted to highlight this example of a kind of courage for which mere words do not suffice…

    “I never thought I would come here this way,” said Dr. Rida Mazagri, a soft-spoken volunteer neurosurgeon from Charleston, W.Va., who arrived two weeks ago. “But we have been waiting for 30 years for a spark. We’re not going to let it extinguish. Either he leaves or he finishes all of us. This land does not accept both of us here.”

    Dr. Mazagri said he felt helpless as he watched the war from afar, a once-disdainful expatriate who no longer felt estranged from his native country. After days of watching television, he had had enough. “ ‘Change the call schedule,’ ” he recalled telling his colleagues at the hospital. “ ‘I’m leaving. When I’m going to come back, I have no idea.’ ”

    He booked a ticket that took him to Atlanta, Rome and Cairo, then went overland across a border that had crumbled to Benghazi, the capital of opposition-held Libya.

    “It’s like a member of your family is ill and they might die without you saying goodbye,” said the doctor, 50, who grew up in Tripoli but left 23 years ago.

    Doctors here say 100 volunteers have joined him, from the United States, Egypt and South Africa, as well as from towns stretching from Benghazi to the Green Mountain region to Tobruk in the east. Aid organizations have sent supplies from Egypt and Qatar, and relief workers have managed to recover the dead and wounded from a mercurial battlefield where they said government troops seized two of their own this week.

    The staff takes pride in an oasis of organization in a region without it.

    “It functions,” said Dr. Walid Saad, a surgeon who was scheduled to begin training in the United States this summer. “It’s not like the cities, where there are no police. It’s not like the rest of the country, where there are no more structures of government.”
    Dr. Mazagri works at a hospital in Ajdabiya Hospital, a place where “the wounded come first” which “bears the scars of three weeks of fighting.”

    The story by Anthony Shadid of the Times has numerous anecdotes of courage by heroic souls of that country trying to free themselves from the grip of a demonic ruling nut case. We should offer our prayers and support for now, and whatever else we are able to provide with the passage of time (hopefully not too much time for those risking all).

    Oh, and speaking of countries under the grip of a demonic ruling nut case, I give you this.

  • Update: This doesn’t have anything to do with anything else at this post, but I think it is horrific enough to rate a mention on its own.

    Your Republican Party on the job, ladies and gentlemen.

    What country am I living in again?

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