Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday Mashup (10/20/11)

  • There’s really not a lot that’s noteworthy in last week’s Area Votes in Congress (here), aside from the fact that the ruling U.S. House Repugs continue to avoid the heavy lifting of legislation that’s actually meaningful; I suspected that Mikey The Beloved voted for that horrible Joe Pitts “Let’s Let Women Die Instead Of Providing A Life-Saving Abortion If It Is Medically Necessary” Act, and he did (here) – also, the House Repugs passed a bill to try and nullify EPA rulemaking (a typically stupid and utterly non-job creating maneuver…more on the EPA shortly), and Pitts was the only Repug in our local delegation to vote against trade adjustment assistance for workers who lost their jobs due to offshoring (figures).

    On the Senate side, “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey opposed the Obama jobs bill and trade penalties against our “good friends” the Chinese, the only member of our local U.S. Senate delegation to do so in both cases (once again, take a bow, all you life forms who voted for this pirate last year).

  • Next, even though he’s at a new location, it’s still “same old, same old” for Former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm (here)…
    This just in from Harry Reid's planet:

    The Democrat believes, "It's very clear that private sector jobs are doing just fine."

    This from the five-term senator from Nevada, where current unemployment is 13.4%. Nevada, the state with the nation's highest foreclosure rate.
    Malcolm also makes some demented remark here about how the Obama jobs bill couldn’t be presented until Number 44 returned from his “island vacation,” or something.

    I will admit that the term “just fine” is relative, but the following should be noted from here in response…
    Since (the Recovery Act was signed into law), the private sector has seen a net gain of 1.4 million jobs; if public-sector employment had just held steady, without any hiring or firing, the economy would have grown by about 2 million jobs over this period. Instead, budget cuts have eliminated 572,000 government workers on net.
    And on the subject of public sector jobs, I give you the following recent history lesson, for Malcolm’s benefit also (ask Man Tan Boehner about life on his “planet” also while you’re at it). And if you’re looking for some bona-fide outrage on the issue of jobs, I think that’s called for in response to this latest nonsense from the Teahadists.

  • Continuing, this little item from The Daily Tucker tells us that the “Occupy Wall Street” movement is “dead ending” while those zany completely not racist (supposedly) teabaggers “march on.”

    Gee, that really doesn’t jibe with these numbers, does it?

  • Further, I give you the following from The Hill (here)…
    Every election has its villain, typically a movement, person or institution that becomes a whipping post for politicians eager to energize political campaign contributors or voters … and sometimes both.

    But in the increasingly polarized world of American politics, the same target for opprobrium that works so well in the early going of a presidential season hard-core party regulars can backfire spectacularly as election day draws nearer. This happens because candidates must reach beyond their base to appeal to independents and members of the other party who can be persuaded to switch sides.

    Our polling indicates that one such “double-edge sword” issue already has surfaced in the 2012 election. While some presidential candidates are attacking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and generally anything that is “green,” it is increasingly apparent that there is a huge divide among voters that will sharply limit the effectiveness of this tactic.
    Uh, yeah, I would say so – as noted here…
    Over at Washington Monthly, Steve Benen writes:

    The very existence of the EPA has never been a partisan issue until now — Nixon created the agency four decades ago — and my fear is Republican activists will loathe the office simply because their national candidates tell them to.

    Kevin Drum responds:

    I’m pretty sure this is wrong. Sure, Bachmann is (surprise!) more extreme than most, but the EPA has been #1 with a bullet on the corporate hate hit parade for a very long time.

    I think they are both right.

    Drum is right that heavily polluting industries and their interest groups like the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Farm Bureau have had it in for the EPA for years. But Benen is also right that the idea of weakening the EPA hasn’t been pushed by candidates or been paid much attention to by voters until relatively recently.

    One explanation for that is the fact that, as Drum writes, “environmental protection has always polled pretty well in the abstract.” While presidents like Reagan and George W. Bush clearly had animosity for the EPA and its mission, they realized such a position was a political loser and decided to undermine the agency by, for the most part*, selecting corrupt and/or incompetent people to run it.
    And attacking the environment is also part of the template created by The Sainted Ronnie R, of course; as this tells us…
    Although it has been pointed out that Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) had been pretty solid on the environment as governor of California, he seemed to take a turn for the worse once he got to the White House. "The Reagan administration adopted an extraordinarily aggressive policy of issuing leases for oil, gas and coal development on tens of millions of acres of national lands -- more than any other administration in history, including the current one," the Wilderness Society's David Alberswerth has reported.

    Perhaps setting the tone for much of his policy, Reagan famously (and bizarrely) said "trees cause more pollution than automobiles do," and that if "you've seen one tree you've seen them all." As president Reagan shocked greens by hiring the notorious James Watt and Anne Gorsuch for the heads of the Department of Interior and the EPA. The industry-friendly appointees worked tirelessly to roll back environmental regulations, from the Clean Air Act to the Clean Water Act. In the administration's first year, there was a 79 percent decline in the number of enforcement cases filed from regional offices to EPA headquarters, and a 69 percent decline in the number of cases filed from the EPA to the Department of Justice.

    Reagan's Superfund director, Rita Lavelle, was sent to jail after a Congressional investigation into alleged corruption (called "Sewergate"). Lavelle returned to prison in 2005 after being accused of fraud in a case of faked environmental cleanup in the private sector.

    Reagan also rolled back Carter's CAFE standards for car gas mileage, slashed funding for renewable energy (sending the burgeoning industry into a freefall it still hasn't recovered from), signed an executive order that forces unworkable evacuation plans on communities surrounding nuclear power plants, and unceremoniously ripped the solar panels off the White House. Reagan may have been a nice man, but he drove us right back into oil addiction, some say setting the stage for years of global conflict and indirect funding of terrorism.
    I don’t know how “nice” The Sainted Ronnie R really was (this may shed some more light on that), but if he’d really been someone who cared about doing the right thing, he would not have included such self-righteous ideologues in his cabinet, particularly in the EPA (and more on James Watt is here, by the way, the guy who notoriously claimed that the “electorate” is composed of “liberals and Americans,” and that fans of The Beach Boys were “riff raff”…oh, and he also was responsible for horrific environmental exploitation in strip mining, wilderness devastation and despoilment due to offshore oil exploration).

    It should also be noted that, as much as this is partly a history lesson, it’s also a candidate for the “past is prologue” file; as noted here, Repug U.S. Senators “Diaper Dave” Vitter and Jim Inhofe, along with U.S. House nematode Darrell Issa, accused John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, of “scientific misconduct” (as if those three nitwits would be in a position to judge)…
    The lawmakers also questioned an EPA assessment on the dangers posed by formaldehyde -- the National Research Council earlier this year claimed the assessment did not adequately back up some of its claims, including claims that the chemical causes leukemia and respiratory tract cancers.
    Memo to Issa, Inhofe and Vitter; you think formaldehyde isn’t a big deal? Fine. Try living in a post-Katrina FEMA trailer for a few months and let me know how that works for you (here).

  • Finally, the formerly Moonie Times is here to tell us who the big winner was of the recent Republican presidential candidates’ beauty pageant (here)…
    The unavoidable takeaway from the debate is that the GOP’s field of candidates looks worse today than during the very first debate on May 5. Conservatives and independents desperate for change in the White House already were worrying that none of the current crop of challengers was capable of beating President Obama next year. Tuesday’s fracas in Las Vegas didn’t help as the competitors dropped their gloves and leveled sucker punches at each other, notably at the erstwhile leaders in the polls. Blood was drawn from Mitt Romney, Herman Cain showed a few unprotected weak spots, and Rick Perry was left limping badly after the melee. Washington insiders - even those who support him - are disappointed with all the Texas governor’s debate performances so far and are starting to whisper that he doesn’t look strong enough for a bruising, prime-time national campaign.

    The longer the pre-primary season drags on without any frontrunner rising above the rest of the pack, the greater the opportunity becomes for a candidate in the middle of the rankings to surge late, create a brief, timely wave of excitement and run away with the nomination. The familiar face getting the most attention behind the scenes now is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. There’s a consensus that he has come off as both the smartest and most solid over the course of all the debates thus far. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin - one of the most popular conservative political celebrities not in the race - raised eyebrows by announcing her opinion that Mr. Gingrich won Tuesday night’s standoff.
    Can you feel the Newt-mentum, people??!!

    In response, I give you that noted political pundit J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times (here)…
    It was sad to see Newt Gingrich, once a titan of conservative politics, reduced to a pale, chubby figure on stage at a Bucks County Moose Lodge, pleading for cash.

    “I will tell you flatly,” he said, “I need all the money you can give.”

    Gingrich’s hapless campaign swung through Doylestown on Tuesday. The ex-Speaker of the House aims to be Republican nominee for president. Fat chance.

    Gingrich, 68, has an uneasy relationship with the party’s conservative foot soldiers, whose checkbooks he attempted to conjure with road-tested applause lines about illegal immigration, liberal activist judges and “the elite media.”

    But grumblings about “Mr. Newt,” as he is sometimes affectionately called by the Republican faithful, surrounded him, even among the stalwarts in the standing-room-only crowd of Kitchen Table Patriots of Bucks County.

    His three marriages. His $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s. His flip-floppery on controlling pollution through the controversial “cap and trade” scheme. Gingrich has been a global warmist since the 1980s, and was still a man-made climate change enthusiast as recently as 2008. Not now, though.
    Oh, and check this out…
    Most unforgettable, if not unforgivable, is the 2008 TV commercial on global warming he made with former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a liberal much loathed by the right.

    In the ad, Gingrich and Pelosi sit together on a couch, awkwardly reading scripted lines.

    “We don’t always see eye to eye, do we Newt?” Pelosi says.

    “No,” Newt says, “But we do agree our country must take action to address climate change.”

    It is so infamous that if a conservative says, “Newt on the couch with Pelosi,” every conservative within earshot knows what it means. It’ll ruin your day, if not keep you from writing a campaign check.
    God, providing aid and comfort to that America-hating shrew Nancy The Li-Bu-ruul? How iconoclastic can you get?

    And by the way, Baby Newton Leroy, any word on that space-based air traffic control system (here)?
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