Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday Mashup (6/30/11)

  • Gosh, didn’t Little Tommy Friedman just tell us the other day that “China had a peaceful internal transformation from Maoist Communism to capitalism”? If so, then please explain this (here)…
    China has boomed during three decades of economic reform, and has in many respects tried to distance itself from the Mao era, when tens of millions died from deprivation and state-directed violence. But Communist Party leaders still promote the myths and icons of that time to instill patriotism and loyalty in the population.

    The latest iteration, started by the ambitious party chief of Chongqing, Bo Xilai, is centered on singing Communist classics, and has been copied by central leaders for a nationwide mobilization to celebrate the 90th anniversary.

    Party officials have told schools, state-owned companies and neighborhood committees to organize choirs to sing red songs and stage musical numbers, celebrating Maoist classics like “The East is Red” and “Without the Communist Party There Would be No New China.” In Chongqing, even prisons are holding singalongs, and one psychiatric hospital has prescribed it for patients.

    The revival has moved well beyond just red songs in this municipal area of 31 million, whose urban core is built on foggy hills overlooking the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers. In initiatives reminiscent of the Mao era, the government has ordered each cadre to live with a family in the countryside for a month, transmitted Maoist slogans to residents via text message, and told Chongqing Satellite Television to fill prime-time hours with educational red programming and cut all commercial advertising.
    I wonder if this supposedly benevolent world economic power will remind its people of the following (here)…
    Within the first two decades of communist China’s existence, upwards of 60–70 million people died. They died from purges, murder, malnutrition, starvation, the collectivization of agriculture and an overall complete transformation of society through totalitarian communism. This happened primarily under the Great Leap Forward (1957–60) and the Cultural Revolution (1966–69).

    An entire nation and its people were forcibly molded into one gigantic social laboratory. Private possessions were eliminated, from clothes and hygiene products, to pots and pans, to the most basic liberties, from speech to press to conscience. “Private fires” for cooking food were banned, with the only permissible smoke being that which emanated from collective kitchens.
    And yes, I know who and what Paul Kengor is, but if anyone has proof that he’s wrong, please let me know.

  • And in other news, a certain V.D. Hanson is still an idiot (here)…
    …one thing seems unclear: How does an attack on private jet travel square with (Obama’s) present efforts to wow Wall Street fat cats and the junkets to Vail, Martha’s Vineyard, and Costa del Sol? Or for that matter with the once tax-exempt Kerry yacht, the private-jet networking of green capitalist Al Gore, and Nancy Pelosi’s government-paid-for jet flights back to the Bay Area?
    As I remarked to a friend recently, sometimes when I write these posts, I feel like a hotel maid or something like that, as in, “I just cleaned up one mess, and here you go making another!”

    As noted here…
    (The supposed Pelosi plane controversy is) just as dumb today as it was in February of 2007. That's when frustrated Republicans, aided by the press, completely manufactured the claim that the new Speaker of the House was going all diva on the Pentagon and demanding use of huge military planes to fly her and her pals around the country.

    Virtually none of the allegations were true. In fact, the line of attack became so irresponsible that even the Bush White House stepped in to wave the GOP and the press off the "silly" story.
    The Media Matters post also tells us that Pelosi supposedly demanded a 42-seat Air Force carrier.

    Uh, no.

  • Update: And yes, I realize Hanson was trying to attack Obama about the corporate jet tax loophole - here is a response.

  • Continuing, I really should tend to the latest corporate media garbage; as noted here, Mark Halperin called President Obama a “dick” because Number 44 had what Halperin considered the gall, I suppose, to criticize Congress on not raising the debt ceiling yet, with remarks along the lines of “Sasha and Malia (the first daughters) get their homework done a day early,” or something (and yes, Halperin apologized).

    As noted here…
  • Halperin was typically wrong on the supposed “grand bargain” of deficit reduction (here).

  • He said Obama didn’t have an alternative to Paul Ryan’s budget (remember that one?), even though Number 44 presented his budget in February (here).

  • Halperin told us Obama gave an economic “soliloquy” here (see, other “regular guy” politicians just talk to us, but effete Kenyan Marxist former community organizers who are too busy killing bin Laden to show us his Hawaiian birth certificate give “soliloquies” – sure).

  • He called financial reform “typically ignorant” Washington overreach here.

  • Halperin said Obama was more “polarizing” than Dubya or Bill Clinton here, as if it’s somehow Obama’s fault that the ratio between Dem approval and Repug disapproval is higher because the Repugs are often so irrational with their cases of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

  • He said Obama hasn’t installed an “economics commander in chief,” or something, which I’m sure would be news to Tim Geithner, whether you like the guy or not (here).

  • Halperin resurrected one of the all-time zombie lies here, saying the former PA Governor Bob Casey, Sr. was denied the opportunity to speak at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because he was pro-life (Actually, it’s because he didn’t endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket – at least one other pro-life Dem was given the opportunity to speak…I will research this further if anyone compels me to do so, but I know this is correct).

  • And how can we forget this little “Photoshop” number from Halperin involving Sen. “There’s Something About Mary” Landrieu?
  • Also, I thought this Atrios post today was particularly timely (time for another blogger ethics panel, I guess).

    I’m in total agreement with kos on this (big surprise, I guess). MSNBC or any other corporate media outlet shouldn’t can Halperin because he was uncivil; they should do it because he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

    Oh, and here is another interesting postscript, IMHO, concerning the original matter that Halperin so stupidly commented on (Heaven forbid that actual work would get in the way of "Orange Man" and his tee time, to say nothing of the other flotsam currently in charge of the U.S. House).

  • Further (local stuff coming up), it’s been awhile since I checked on our PA-31 State House Rep Steve Santarsiero; here is the latest…
    HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Rep. Steven J. Santarsiero, D-Bucks, this week voted against a bill that would strip away victims' right to be fully compensated for their injuries and instead protect those responsible for those injuries – including corporate wrongdoers who harm innocent victims.

    Santarsiero said the legislation (S.B. 1131) would repeal "joint and several liability" in Pennsylvania, a legal concept that ensures injured parties in civil cases receive full compensation even if some parties responsible for the injury are unable or unwilling to pay.

    Santarsiero said under current law, a victim who has been injured or harmed by more than one wrongdoer is permitted to recover 100 percent of his/her damages from any one of the wrongdoers who are found legally liable. Under this proposed legislation, wrongdoers would only be responsible for the percentage of damage they are found liable for. If one party doesn’t have money to pay their share of the damage, the victim would not be able to recover that amount.

    "Repealing the joint and several liability law would significantly erode an injured person's ability to be made whole," Santarsiero said. "Victims of wrongdoing need and deserve protection under Pennsylvania law."
    HARRISBURG, June 29 – State Rep. Steven J. Santarsiero, D-Bucks, today released the following statement after the House of Representatives approved a $27.149 billion state budget bill for the 2011-12 fiscal year:

    "I voted 'no' on the state budget because it puts a disproportionate burden on students in Pennsylvania, while at the same time letting big corporations and big oil and natural gas companies off the hook from having to pay their fair share of taxes.

    "This budget slashes funding to our public schools by nearly $1 billion – an unprecedented attack on public education that will hurt our kids and cause school districts to raise local taxes in order to make up for the loss in revenue.

    "Both of our local schools will feel the pain of this budget, receiving significant decreases in total education funding for 2011-12. Council Rock will receive $904,824 less in total education funding, while Pennsbury will see a $1.706 million decrease.

    "The Pennsylvania Constitution requires that the General Assembly provide for 'the maintenance of a thorough and efficient public education' for the children of our Commonwealth. This budget, and some of the other legislation that the Republican majority is trying to pass, would not maintain public education. On the contrary, they would dismantle public education.

    "With its devastating cuts to higher education – $200 million – this budget shows an incredible lack of foresight into the best interests of Pennsylvania's future and a shocking misplacement of priorities.

    "What makes this budget especially harsh is the fact that we have at least $700 million in surpluses that could be used to restore many of these painful cuts. In addition, we are sitting on a great economic boon with our rich supply of Marcellus Shale natural gas, yet Republicans are choosing to ignore this potential revenue source.

    "I would understand if there were not other sources of revenue available, but those things are there and yet Republicans have not proposed to take advantage of either.

    "This budget is NOT a no-tax budget, as Republicans are claiming. It is a TAX-SHIFT budget, with middle-class homeowners and seniors being forced to pick up the tab through higher local property tax hikes.
    And speaking of the person primarily responsible for this atrocity, this article from Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News yesterday tells us more about the often-cozy ties between one Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett and the natural gas industry, dating back to Corbett’s election as PA Attorney General in 2004.

    Just another day in the life of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, virtually a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party; heckuva job, voters (and to contact Steve, click here).

  • Finally, today is the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling that the New York Times and the Washington Post could publish the “Pentagon Papers”; as noted here, they were recently declassified and publicly released (with Daniel Ellsberg and New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan as the primary individuals behind the story...more here).

    In the matter of the Wikileaks case (which I and a whole lot of other people consider to be today’s equivalent of the Pentagon Papers case), Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said here that she believed a case involving Wikileaks would one day be heard before the High Court, which I suppose is inevitable (and to me, the only reason why “Scalito” and company wouldn’t be deferential to the executive branch of our government would be in the event that it was still headed by a Democrat).

    And speaking of both Number 44 and Wikileaks, this tells us what we can do on behalf of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged “Wikileaker,” if you will, to Julian Assange (the last I checked, the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing still applied, didn’t it, Mr. “Constitutional Scholar” President?).
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