Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Stuff

As Atrios says, more like this - a lot more (here...hey teabaggers, nice job on the Patriot Act - you wanna lend a hand here too?)...

...and there are a lot of reasons why it's a good thing that Mubarak is no longer in charge of Egypt, but his criminal treatment of the press (to say nothing of his own people) is certainly one of them (sends a chill up my spine to realize how effective China has been at erasing their own recent past - a heroic one at that - from the memory of today's generation)...

...on a wholly other note, happy 70th birthday to Sergio Mendes (this clip is with his band Brazil 66, later reformed as Brazil 88...this might be my favorite Beatles cover - creates a wholly other mood, an iconic '60s sound for yours truly, including some of the Fellini-esque images of the band members)...

...and here's a whompin' little number to kick-start the weekend (hopefully one with no snow, shockingly enough).

Friday Mashup (2/11/11)

  • With the joyous news that the crook/despot/dictator Hosni Mubarak is finally no longer in charge of Egypt, leave it to Fix Noise to ratchet up the crazy a notch or two about SCARY MUSLIMS! SCARY MUSLIMS! SCARY MUSLIMS! SCARY MUSLIMS!!!! (and with that in mind, I give you Fix Noise “Democrat” Doug Schoen here)…

    President Obama dramatically understated the level of support the Muslim Brotherhood has garnered in Egypt in his Super Bowl interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, and is most likely wrong to have asserted that the Brothers and their allies do not command majority support in the country.

    Egyptians support Islam, its expanded role in the country's civic life, as well as Shariah.

    A broad based analysis of Egyptian public opinion by Lisa Blaydes and Drew Linzerhow bears this conclusion out. They concluded that 60 percent of Egyptians have fundamentalist views, while just 20 percent are secular in their orientation.

    Egyptians also support a more expansive role for Islam in Egyptian life. In Pew polling conducted last year, almost half (48 percent) say that Islam plays a large role in politics in Egypt, and an overwhelming majority – 85 percent – say Islam’s influence in politics is positive. Only 2 percent say its influence is negative. Not surprisingly, almost two-thirds of Egyptians told Zogby that Egyptian life would improve when clerics play a more central role in the political life of the country.

    Egyptians also support the central elements of Shariah Law. For example, 84 percent say that apostates, or those who forsake Islam, should face the death penalty and 77 percent say thieves should have their hands cut off. A majority (54 percent) says men and women should be segregated in the workplace.

    What does this mean for the United States? Almost certainly the next Egyptian government will be hostile to the United States and will pursue policies that are inimical to our interests. In the Zogby poll, 85 percent called themselves unfavorable to the United States and 92 percent described America as one of the two greatest threats to Egyptian interests in the world. The Pew polling bears this point out.
    God, how pathetic Schoen and his ilk truly are (more here); citing a crap Zogby poll is more that a bit of a giveaway.

    In response, I give you the following from here…

    Mohamed ElBaradei told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour the idea that the Muslim Brotherhood, which birthed the terror organization Hamas, is an extremist organization is “total bogus” and that the group is “in no way extremists.”
    And for more on ElBaradei, I would ask that you read this profile; I believe that we’re fortunate in this country that he has emerged as the voice of the opposition (and here is another response to Fix Noise Islamophobia).

    Schoen also tells us the utter nonsense that “Young people (in Egypt) use (their satellite dishes) to get their news principally from Al Jazeera, whose interest in and deference to Islamic fundamentalist and extremist views cannot be underestimated.” In response, I give you this.

    This, though, is basically consistent with the Repug party line that Muslims are incapable of Democratic governance, as noted here (which makes me wonder what Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Iraq Adventure was all about, then…and how weird is it that Grover Norquist, of all people, is the voice of reason on this issue, as noted here?).

    Nobody knows exactly how events will play out in Egypt. And call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger for saying so, but as far as I'm concerned, the Egyptians have earned the right to decide that outcome for themselves (and Atrios says that this is a good point - for what it's worth, I totally agree).

  • Next, it looks like Darrell Issa is warming up for his festival of pointless “oversight” hearings, as noted here and here, including the following…

    Issa, R-Calif., newly installed as head of the House committee that oversees government regulation, invited nearly 200 industries to send him lists of government rules that "threaten jobs." That's a good place to start. Where it will finish should serve as a test of integrity.

    Issa got back responses extending more than 1,900 pages, which were released to the public for review in advance of a hearing today. Many suggestions, no doubt, will turn out to be useful. But among them are a parade of self-serving pleas wholly at odds with the public interest and many barely connected to jobs.
    Which is particularly devious when considering the following here (and note where reducing the deficit comes on the list, by the way)...

    They are a less-than-gentle reminder of recent scandals caused not by regulatory excess but by regulatory laxity in oversight of food, autos, toys, oil drilling, coal mining and — oh, yes — banks.
    The USA Today editorial also tells us that companies “want relief from a new requirement that they disclose how many times larger a CEO's salary is than the median salary of other workers at the company,” as well as a rule that airlines must enforce “a long-overdue proposal to ensure that pilots get enough sleep before they get into the cockpit,” as well as a proposal that our financial overlords are screaming about that would reduce “swipe fees” for debit or credit card transactions.

    Anybody have the world’s smallest violin handy?

    This tells us that some of the big banks are complying with the regs on promoting ATM fees, while other banks aren’t (you shouldn’t have to get down on your hands and knees to find out what the fee is if you don’t have an account with that institution). And as noted here, Issa will likely use the hearings to go after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac once more, even though 6 percent of Fannie- and Freddie-sponsored loans made (from 2001 to 2008) were 90 days late at some point in their history, while roughly 27 percent of loans that Wall Street folded into mortgage-backed investments were at least 90 days late at some point, as noted here.

    Dem U.S. House Rep Elijah Cummings is noted in the FDL post for calling for a hearing on mortgage foreclosures, though I’m sure Issa will concoct something wholly other than what Cummings has in mind. And as noted here, Cummings has also called for hearings on last year’s Big Branch Mine disaster, while his fellow Dem Carolyn Maloney has sought to emphasize that consumer protections be maintained for children facing dangers from poorly-made cots and playpens, and Dem Mike Quigley “defied anyone not to think about regulation when flying on a commercial airliner or drinking tap water in Chicago.”

    Silly Dems – don’t they realize that Issa and his fellow Repug playmates are now in charge of the House (once more, heckuva job, all you who voted for this bunch of frauds last November)?

  • Finally, I really try not to pay too much attention to J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times, but his wankery is so spectacularly awful that it’s usually impossible to avoid it.

    Here, in a column about parenting where he acts as a moral scold yet again (basically riffing off a theme I’ve encountered from him at least a hundred times already), he says the following…

    In grade school, (kids) are taught that the world is filled with bullies and drugs, which is why they must be subjected to anti-bullying and D.A.R.E. lectures.
    There’s other ripe stuff in this execrable dreck, but I’ll focus on his attack against D.A.R.E. (standing for Drug Abuse Resistance Education) for now.

    To begin, D.A.R.E. is a lot more than a “lecture.” It’s a 10-week program that teaches students not just how to avoid drugs, alcohol, and chemical inhalants, but how to make good choices in their lives and avoid behavior that can be destructive and lead to tragic consequences (the young one recently participated in D.A.R.E. training, so I know something about this). The students participate in exercises to reinforce the concepts taught by the police officer who teaches the class (with occasional assistance from other officers), and this way, the students get the benefit of instruction from law enforcement before they become adults so they are less likely to have a detrimental experience with law enforcement later in their lives (with the cost of D.A.R.E. instruction for kids significantly cheaper than the cost of incarcerating them later as adults).

    Where we reside, the D.A.R.E. program is paid for by Lower Makefield, PA township; no state or federal monies are involved (the program operates within the Pennsbury School District and is conducted at elementary schools throughout Lower Makefield and Falls Townships).

    And yes, I’ve read about some D.A.R.E. programs that were run badly where the kids got the message that they basically should rat out their friends and their parents to the cops. That is very definitely not the case with the Pennsbury program, run by a thoroughly dedicated officer who has conducted the program for 11 years.

    Is there evidence that D.A.R.E. programs have failed? Sure (it was founded by LA police chief Daryl Gates in 1983, though I don’t think that’s a reason to automatically discount it). But when somebody thinks that “well, my son or daughter has gone through D.A.R.E., so when it comes to teaching them about drugs, alcohol and other dangerous stuff, my work is done,” what else can you expect? Like everything else, the lessons need to be reinforced over time.

    As far as I’m concerned, D.A.R.E. is exactly the type of “small government” local program that does a world of good for the kids, and lets them have a little fun in the bargain. It’s a pity that Mullane can’t descend from his editorial ivory tower long enough to observe that simple fact.
  • Thursday, February 10, 2011

    More Thursday Stuff

    "Inspired by true events" as they say (h/t Daily Kos)...

    ...and in a related story, I never thought I would give those zany teabaggers credit for a thing (including this guy), but I have to for this (I'm afraid the extension will eventually pass anyway under a simple Repug majority - love to be wrong).

    Thursday Stuff

    (Posting is going to be up in the air again - maybe yes, maybe no tomorrow and for a few days.)

    I thought this was a good interview Lawrence O'Donnell conducted with Bill Maher recently; I was meaning to say something about Bill Orally's joke of an interview with President Obama last Sunday, but Maher said it pretty well here I thought (and seriously, Elisabeth Hasselbeck thinks Maher is guilty of chauvinism over a joke like that? God, does the well of self-pity for conservatives in general have no bottom?)...

    ...and here's the nice version of the hit song by Cee Lo Green (and by the way, anybody else besides me notice that, in addition to being totally hot, his all-girl band seriously kicks ass?).

    Wednesday, February 09, 2011

    Wednesday Mashup (2/9/11)

  • I swear, former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm just makes it too easy sometimes (here, in the matter of the announcement that Keith Olbermann has signed with Current TV as its “chief news officer,” which will probably entail some kind of show he will host after he is allowed to appear on the air again – something approximating an actual news story on it is here, not that you’d get anything like that from Malcolm I realize)…

    That way all 23,000 Olbermann viewers will know they're getting the straight KO schtick.
    This tells us that Keith averaged about a million viewers a night.

    In response, I wonder how many people actually read Malcolm’s blog posts each day?

  • Next, the Bucks County Courier Times informs us of the following (here)…

    A new election season heats up in Bucks County this month, but a loose end from the last one - a voter fraud investigation centering on 1,600 absentee ballot applications - still has not been tied up.

    (Republican) Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said this week that county detectives were still investigating. In fact, he said, they conducted some interviews just last weekend.

    "They get regularly interrupted (by other cases) but they're working on it," Heckler said. "They're digging in and we'll see what they come up with."

    The Bucks County Republican Committee challenged more than 1,600 absentee ballot applications it deemed suspicious in the weeks leading up to the November election. Board of elections employees rejected almost 900 ballot applications that were incomplete or questionable, an unprecedented number that made elections officials suspicious.
    I didn’t know the number of absentee ballots in question had reached 900 – of the 600 noted here, though, 82 percent of those rejected were Democratic voters.

    Oh, and did I note that there was no mention in the story at all of the Ciervo/Fitzpatrick voter fraud letter, about which the PA Democratic Party had filed a protest as noted here?

    Best of all is this nonsense from Pat Poprik at the end of the Courier Times story (she being the vice chairwoman of the Bucks County Republican Committee)…

    "We want to make sure people know that voting is protected in the county," she said. "We want people to have a heightened awareness that if someone comes to their door and says it's OK to sign the name of someone else, it's not. It's critical for the nation that votes are legally cast. It's a sacred trust."
    Words like that coming from Poprik are absolutely hilarious; as noted here…

    - In 2008, the (Republican) Bucks County Board of Election relocated a minority serving polling location, a move that led to a lawsuit from concerned voters. [Philadelphia Inquirer, September 28, 2008]

    - Across the state, Pennsylvania Republicans have engaged in widespread efforts to intimidate and disenfranchise voters. In 2004, Republicans tried to relocate 63 Philadelphia polling places, mostly in Democratic and minority serving areas. [Philadelphia Daily News, October 18, 2004]

    - In 2004, Republicans tried to challenge tens of thousands of voters in Philadelphia, a desperate move that was condemned by a legal counsel to the Republican City Committee who said Republicans were being "chicken littles." [Philadelphia Inquirer, October 25, 2004]

    - In 2008, Republicans attempted to institute a "dress code" for voters. Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason worried that voters could wear "musical hats" to the polls. This move was clearly targeted at intimidating voters. [AP, October 5, 2008]
    Both the Ciervo letter and the PA Voter Assistance Office stuff need to be investigated by a U.S. attorney. At this point, I wouldn’t expect satisfaction from Corbett, particularly since he’s going to have his lieutenant governor Jim Cawley giving him pointers on how to make this look as incriminating for the Democrats as possible, actual evidence (or the lack thereof) be damned.

  • Finally, it looks like the Senate minority leader has donned his “born again fiscal conservative” mantle, as noted here…

    This debate (on congressional spending) has completely changed,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, in a floor speech on Tuesday. “Two years ago, the president and Democrats running Congress weren’t debating whether to cut spending. They were debating how much to spend…. Today, the only debate is how much to cut.”
    In response, I give you the following from a conservative Republican on Medicare Part D (here, written two years ago)…

    The human capacity for self-delusion never ceases to amaze me, so it shouldn't surprise me that so many Republicans seem to genuinely believe that they are the party of fiscal responsibility. Perhaps at one time they were, but those days are long gone.

    This fact became blindingly obvious to me six years ago this month when a Republican president and a Republican Congress enacted the Medicare drug benefit, which former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker has called "the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s."
    That quote is debatable as far as I’m concerned, but you get the idea. Continuing…

    (Arizona Repug Congressman Trent) Franks (who voted for Medicare Part D) is not alone among Republicans for whom fiscal responsibility never consists of anything other than talk. The worst, undoubtedly, is DeLay, who actually went so far as to attack Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., last year for his principled vote against the drug benefit, one of only nine Republican senators to do so. (By my count, there are still 24 Republicans in the Senate who voted for the drug benefit, including such alleged conservatives as Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Jon Kyl of Arizona.)
    Also, as noted here, McConnell has flip-flopped on campaign financial disclosure, as well as funding the two wars, $1.3 billion in tax cuts as well as the Medicare expansion, all financed with deficit spending (and McConnell bitched at the Dems for cutting Medicare spending by $500 billion to pay for HCR, when, in ’95, Repugs proposed cutting Medicare by $270 billion over seven years and in ’97 McConnell and McCain proposed cutting it by $115 billion over five years).

    On top of that, I got a bit of a laugh out of this from someone named Tony Kondaks at Fix Noise who posits what supposedly are the four questions that liberals must be asked about the budget (I’ll cut to the proverbial chase and tell you that they are as follows: 1) What is total spending of the federal budget?; 2) What is the federal deficit?; 3) What is the national debt?; and 4) What was the most recent interest payment on the national debt?...don’t worry, he has the answers – sorry that I don’t have those figures tripping from my tongue, not being what appears to be a highly self-satisfied member of the “pain caucus”).

    For the fifty-thousandth-millionth time, we should be preoccupied with job creation instead of the debt. That’s the way to pay down what we owe, with actual for-real job holders paying taxes (you know, like that baaad liberal Bill Clinton did – remember him?).

    In response to Kondaks, here are at least four questions every conservative should be asked: 1) What is the current unemployment rate? (9.0, as noted here, though I don’t attribute that to job gains but people dropping out of the job search…and I’ll be keeping an eye on this number); 2) What was the rate when the Republicans were elected back to the House majority last November? (9.8, as noted here); 3) When looking at Republican vs. Democratic presidents over the last 60 years, which ones have lowered unemployment and which ones haven’t? (Democrats have lowered it and Republicans have raised it, as noted here); and 4) the presidents of which party have added more to the deficit, Republicans or Democrats? (Republicans, as noted here).

    I’ll even throw in a bonus deficit question; what is the percentage of federal spending comprised by the interest on the national debt between 1970 and today? 7.3 percent in 1970 and 6.5 percent today, that’s what (here – interesting to yours truly that the latter number is smaller).

    Of course, it’s disingenuous to criticize anyone for higher spending now to fix our nearly collapsed economy after our financial markets behaved like the biggest casino the world had ever seen throughout all of recorded history under the watch of a Republican president and a mostly Republican congress (and a Republican vice president who said that “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter”).

    And given the fact that about 98 percent of that deficit would still remain after the cuts proposed by the Repugs (here) – well, “this debate” really hasn’t changed at all, has it, Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao?
  • Tuesday, February 08, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    This is the Rachel Maddow clip I was looking for from last night by the way - I call this case closed (I can do without this guy's narration in the beginning, and the head shots and the un-synched audio, and it craps out with about a minute to go, but it is his clip, I realize...I also don't know where he got those figures about congressional salaries; maybe he's right for some members, but I have a feeling Patrick Murphy, for example, while doing OK as he should have, wasn't pulling in three quarters of a mil...I hope all you dunces who voted Republican last November are happy now)...

    Update 2/11/11: Oh yes, the House Repugs are definitely doing the people's business in light of this, aren't they? And by the way, look where the deficit shows up on the issue list.

    ...and every time I think that Sarah Palin can't possibly plummet to new depths of stupidity, she manages to do it as she did here...uh, Aguilera was born in New York and she grew up in PA - where does Palin want to deport her to? Croydon?

    Try watching this video after losing a loved one and tell me how much it matters that she screwed up the national anthem.

    Life is short, people, and you-know-what happens.

    Update 2/10/11: OK, the Palin/Aguilera thing is satire and I got snagged, so my bad here...but seriously, is it that much of a stretch?

    Tuesday Mashup (2/8/11)

    (Note: No updates from yesterday, just fixed the title...)

  • (Oh, and for the record, let it be known that here and here are the latest examples of how this country's political/media/industrial complex has learned absolutely nothing from the Tucson carnage.)

  • This post from Michael Grunwald of Time has to do with an amendment that recently passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 96-1; it has to do with laser pointers aimed at aircraft.

    And in case you were wondering, the person who voted against this eminently sensible move to punish those convicted of this offense with five-year prison terms was none other than the latest Senator Teabag himself, Rand Paul. And Grunwald heartily agrees with what Paul did…

    I'm not trying to deny the seriousness of this particular problem or the idiocy of these particular idiots. Pilots say they can be temporarily blinded when lasers are beamed into their cockpits, and the FAA says it's happened 2,836 times in the past two years. This sounds like a genuine safety hazard. And it sounds as if the laser-pointer industry needs to do a better job in educating consumers about the dangers of its products. So allow me to start this education process:

    Hey, idiots! Stop pointing lasers at planes!

    It takes only about five seconds of thought to see that Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's amendment to impose federal penalties — up to a five-year prison sentence — for attempted plane zapping would be completely useless. How exactly would it be enforced? Would pilots who get lasered in the air contact a federal anti-laser-pointer task force on the ground? Would Tommy Lee Jones be recruited to lead the manhunts? And if a local cop somehow caught a 12-year-old goof-off trying to Luke Skywalker a 747 with a laser pointer he stole from his corporate mom, would the kid go to the federal pen? Sure, it's conceivable that someone with truly menacing intentions would point a laser into a cockpit. But does Congress think there's nothing in the existing federal code that would allow him to be prosecuted for trying to blind a pilot in midflight?

    The 96 Senators who voted for this silliness would say they're just trying to send a message to the public about a dangerous activity. I support this message, as politicians like to say. But that's not really the message they're trying to send. It's more like the line on George H.W. Bush's teleprompter — message: I care. The Senators are lawmakers, so they feel as if they need to make laws to show concern; they're covering their backsides in case a laser-pointing idiot ever does bring down a plane.
    As I’ve said before, it’s a good thing that people like Grunwald haven’t been calling the shots in this country throughout our history. Otherwise, Paul Revere Grunwald would have said, “Why the hell do I have to ride a horse from Boston to Lexington and warn you people? It’s one if by land and two if by sea! Can’t you just watch the Old North Church yourselves to find out if the British are coming?” Or Theodore Roosevelt Grunwald would have said “What? Construct a canal through Panama? With all of that disease down there? The French already tried that. Forget it!” Or John Augustus Roebling Grunwald would have said, “Build a suspension bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn? HAHAHAHA!!”

    Besides, Whitehouse is, in part, trying to correct a legal discrepancy with his amendment – as noted here…

    Interference with commercial airlines is already a federal crime. But current law has a gap that weakens the FBI's ability to investigate laser incidents involving helicopters, said Dave Joly, a spokesman for the FBI in Denver, where 38 laser incidents were reported last year. The law covers mass transportation, but helicopters aren't considered mass-transit aircraft, Joly said.

    There have been many instances of lasers pointed at helicopters, including police helicopters. Helicopters are especially vulnerable because they fly at lower altitudes than planes.

    The vote makes the amendment part of a bill pending before the Senate to authorize FAA programs for the next two years. It also would speed up the FAA's transition from an air traffic control system based on World War II-era radar technology to one based on satellite-based technology.

    The Senate also rejected an amendment by Paul that would have exempted FAA programs from a federal law that requires government contractors to pay construction workers the prevailing local wage.
    So of course, Paul saw an opportunity to ignore the threat of laser pointers and screw over federal employees at the same time (and by the way, Senator-fake-ophthalmology-certification, the “F” in FAA stands for “federal”; it’s not an “S” for “state”).

    And by the way, in response to Grunwald’s snark about enforcement, I give you the following (here)…

    SACRAMENTO, CA—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging Samuel Gregory Liebman, 51, of Roseville California, with interference with an aircraft for pointing a laser at a California Highway Patrol plane.

    The indictment alleges that on August 30, 2010, Liebman struck a CHP Cessna 206 multiple times with a powerful green laser while it was flying.
    So yes, it is possible to arrest and prosecute someone for this act. And in case either Paul or Grunwald don’t believe me, let’s see how they react went a pilot’s vision is impaired while a plane or helicopter in which they’re a passenger begins its descent (though this is par for the course when it comes to Grunwald’s wankery, as noted here).

  • And I guess that’s an appropriate transition to John Harwood in yesterday’s New York Times, in the matter of President Obama’s efforts to make nice with the “pay no price, bear no burden” crowd (here)…

    Export promotion, infrastructure development and support for innovation through improvements in research and education all represent goals that business shares with an administration hungry to spur investment and job creation.
    Really? Then why, as Bill Scher asks here, has the “U.S.” Chamber done all it possibly could to support those zany teabaggers, who hate any government spending unless it affects their entitlements?

    Most of Harwood’s article has to do with fluffing Bruce Josten, the chamber’s “top lobbyist,” in the vain hope that he’ll show some sort of conciliation towards Obama, who has done more than meet these selfish asswipes half way, though we also learn the following…

    Mr. Josten dismissed Mr. Obama’s recently announced regulatory strategy, ostensibly intended to reduce unnecessary burdens on business. “It’s a rehash of Clinton’s, which was a rehash of Carter’s,” Mr. Josten said.
    Actually, I guess the fact that Josten even bothered to acknowledge Harwood’s existence is a bit of a coup for Harwood, given that, as noted here, Josten usually finds a slavishly favorable environment to peddle his propaganda at Fix Noise (with humanoid Megyn Kelly acting accordingly).

    And Heaven forbid that the “U.S.” Chamber come clean on its overseas funding, with Josten fulfilling his role as a Chamber “pit bull” here (and though I suppose it looks good to those supposedly omniscient independent voters out there for Obama to meet these cretins more than halfway, they are still utterly despicable, as noted here).

  • Next, I give you former loyal Bushie Mitch Daniels, who, as noted in yesterday’s Murdoch Street Journal here, inflicted probably the most full-throated demagoguery against the health care law yet seen, and that’s saying something…

    Unless you're in favor of a fully nationalized health-care system, the president's health-care reform law is a massive mistake. It will amplify all the big drivers of overconsumption and excessive pricing: "Why not, it's free?" reimbursement; "The more I do, the more I get" provider payment; and all the defensive medicine the trial bar's ingenuity can generate.

    All claims made for it were false.
    Wow, could Daniels paint with an even broader brush here? And this is particularly funny since, as presidential candidate, he of course rails against the health care law, but as Indiana governor, as noted here, he asked for additional Medicaid funding from the Obama Administration.

    And in response, Think Progress points out the following here…

    Rather than comparing between comprehensive packages that provide a basic array of essential services — nobody is proposing covering hair plugs, as some conservatives have proposed — this former OMB director suggests that skimpy plans should also be available for purchase. People should be able to “buy what they need,” he argues, ignoring the fact that insurance should not be a grab bag: there is absolutely no way to predict what illness one will develop in the future and that this very real inability has led to widespread undercoverage and bankruptcy. If an individual purchases a very basic plan and then develops cancer in five years, what good is a “consumer driven” plan if it doesn’t cover chemotherapy?
    And oh yeah, as Dubya’s OMB director, Daniels, as noted here, “displayed a disturbing tendency to make dishonest claims for political advantage on federal budget issues.”

    Which, to me, automatically disqualifies him from any serious economic discussion (at least he isn’t telling baby boomers to apologize, as noted here).

  • Also, say hello to the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Hal Rogers of Kentucky (here)…

    Rogers beat Reps. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) to win the gavel of the Appropriations panel following the midterm elections. But the post is very different than it was last year, when Democrats had control of the House, and very different from when Republicans ran the lower chamber from 1995 through 2006.

    The goal for Rogers is to cut now, cut later and keep on cutting throughout the 112th Congress. He used to be a big fan of earmarks, like his Kentucky colleague, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). But amid the Tea Party’s rise, both Rogers and McConnell have embraced an earmark moratorium.
    To begin, let’s dispense with the mythology that Congress has forsaken earmarks; as noted here, “members of both parties requested nearly 40,000 earmarks worth more than $130 billion for fiscal year 2011” (and for the umpteenth time, allow me to say that I could care less about earmarks since they amount to such a tiny fraction of the federal budget anyway, though they should be disclosed).

    And Rogers is indeed a fan of earmarks, to the point that, as noted here, Rogers’ hometown newspaper has dubbed him the “prince of pork.” This includes “the tiny airport that received $17 million in federal dollars but has so little traffic that the last commercial airline pulled out in February (last year – the “airport to nowhere?”). And then there’s the Hal Rogers Parkway, which was formerly known as the Daniel Boone Parkway before being (renamed for you-know-who).”

    Rogers also routed funding to his daughter’s nonprofit organization, as the DCCC tells us, and Rogers’ son was hired by a firm for which Rogers helped secure a $4 million contract.

    With the death of John Murtha, I wonder if we’re now going to see the same level of animus directed towards another Appropriations committee chair who has been generous with earmark funding towards his congressional district.

    Don’t hold your breath.

  • Finally, I came across this yesterday in the New York Times and was so dumbfounded by it that I felt I had to say something…

    SAN ANTONIO — Some of the world’s pre-eminent experts on bias discovered an unexpected form of it at their annual meeting.

    Discrimination is always high on the agenda at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s conference, where psychologists discuss their research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities. But the most talked-about speech at this year’s meeting, which ended Jan. 30, involved a new “outgroup.”

    It was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

    “This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.
    Oh, please. So now we’re talking about unconscious indoctrination of conservatives by liberals?

    I suppose this is typical for Haidt, who has written pap equating liberals with the teabaggers (appearing here in the Journal, of course). And passages like this are more than a little bit of a giveaway as far as I’m concerned…

    In the tea partiers' scheme of things, the federal government got into the business of protecting the American people—from market fluctuations as well as from their own bad decisions—under Franklin D. Roosevelt. During the Great Depression, most Americans recognized that capitalism required safety nets here and there. But Lyndon Johnson's effort to build the Great Society, and particularly welfare programs that reduced the incentives for work and marriage among the poor, went much further.
    A lot of people just got done celebrating the 100th birthday of a guy who made it his career over the last 40 or so years of his life to tell us over and over again that government can’t do anything right. And now along comes Haidt to re-enforce that message under the guise of fighting some sort of liberal bias.

    I’ll tell you what, Dr. Haidt – tell me when liberals are guilty of stuff like this, and I’ll take your bias charge (the conscious or unconscious variety) seriously. Until then, stop making excuses for conservatives, who hasn’t had a new idea about actual governance since a former Tampico, IL sports announcer started peddling investor class hallucinogenic fantasies about “Morning in America.”

  • Update: The link to Haidt's Journal article is acting up a bit - I think you have to subscribe to read it (heh) apologies.

    Monday, February 07, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    (Hopefully back to posting tomorrow...)

    Oh, and you can now cue the Bucks County Courier Times to leap to the defense of Mikey The Beloved, claiming that he has the health benefits of his wife, who's a schoolteacher, and how dare Durbin say such things to hurt "bipartisanship" (of course, if you're not a teacher or a member of Congress, you can pound sand as far as Mikey and the Repugs are concerned...Rachel Maddow had a great feature tonight on what the House Repugs are actually doing, which is typical "values" BS, trying to repeal health care of course, and after that, pretty much nothing - I'll try to get the video...and of course, Cantor sends one of his sycophants to tell the media "Well, at least we're not spending money like those Democrats," which is particularly hilarious when you consider this)...

    ...and I know Patrick Leahy is trying to add judicial oversight provisions to the Patriot Act, but the thing is still a stinking dead dog that erodes our civil liberties by the day, by the hour actually (and the fact that it is supported by a conservative lickspittle like James Jay Carofano is the icing on the proverbial cake)...

    Update 2/10/11: I agree with Rand Paul on practically nothing, but if he's serious, kudos to him for this. addition, I suppose it's a good thing that the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl - I really didn't have a rooting interest and am sick of the NFL generally largely because of this, but I have to admit that this was a cool ad...

    ...and RIP Gary Moore.

    Sunday, February 06, 2011

    Sunday Stuff

    (Probably no posting tomorrow, by the way...)

    And with all of the Reaganalia in full swing, I thought this was appropriate (God rest Phil Hartman)...

    ...and here is more humor for the occasion...

    ...and you're not going to believe the words you're hearing from Reagan here in 1948 when he was a progressive Democrat - can you imagine what this country could be like now had he stayed true to those principles?...

    ...but he didn't of course, and here is a song that is, in part, a response to his idiotic policy of "constructive engagement."