Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Mashup (10/28/11)

  • Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer tells us the following (here)…
    New Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput says he isn’t likely to change his mind about creating a window to allow some past victims of sexual abuse by priests to file lawsuits after the statute of limitations in their cases has expired.

    Chaput, in a discussion Thursday with the Inquirer Editorial Board, said statutes of limitations exist for sound legal reasons, and that exceptions should not be made just to allow litigation against the Catholic Church.
    I realize this isn’t exactly “man bites dog” stuff, but it’s important to get Chaput (pronounced “shay-poo,” I think) on the record here. And this sounds a little like that stunt he pulled when he was the Denver Archbishop here – namely, supporting the extension of the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of minors for civil lawsuits, but only if it included public schools (and I was not able to find any evidence of clerical abuse in public schools in that archdiocese; by adding the public schools, though, it would sink the extension since the teachers’ union would protest…I would argue that Chaput knew that would happen).

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

  • Continuing, I give you today’s headlines in illegal surveillance (well, some recent headlines anyway – as noted here)…
    The rise of government surveillance is a troublesome legacy of the September 11 attacks. Today, video cameras are visible everywhere in public places, recording people’s every move. But what about spying that can’t be spotted?

    Ten years after 9/11, new questions are being raised about what the US government is secretly doing on the internet and through satellites, using the Patriot Act and other national security law as justification.

    Two American senators with access to top-secret intelligence raised the alarm in May, suggesting that the invasion of law-abiding Americans’ privacy was being carried out clandestinely - and that people would be shocked if they knew the extent.

    “I want to deliver a warning this afternoon,” Senator Ron Wyden said on May 26 during a Senate debate. “When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry.”

    Exactly what activities US agencies are carrying out remains unclear. Senator Wyden and Senator Mark Udall - also on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence - have been unable to elaborate on their accusations because of official secrecy law.

    However, observers surmise that ordinary people may be caught up in an electronic dragnet searching for terrorists. Civil liberties advocates suggest that intelligence and law-enforcement agencies may be reading and cataloguing people’s e-mails in databases, as well as tracking their mobile phone locations.
    Also, here is more in the annals of this country’s disintegration into a police state regardless of which political party is in charge (looks like this new “rule” says that federal agencies can lie about FOIA requests…doesn’t exactly sound “hopey changey” to me). And for more, here is an entire listing of related stories from the New York Times.

    I’m glad the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd touched on this as a reason for protest in their first official statement here, quite rightly pointing out that our governmental/industrial complex has “sold our privacy as a commodity.”

  • And speaking of the protests, I give you the following from Smerky here…
    Funny, Jack Bogle doesn't look like any of the members of Occupy Wall Street we've been seeing on television.

    I can't picture the legendary founder and former CEO of the Vanguard Mutual Fund Group, clad in Brooks Brothers suit, adjacent to City Hall, or as one of the 50 who were arrested in Atlanta, not to mention those being sprayed with tear gas in Oakland. But that doesn't mean the Main Line patrician and capitalist icon is lacking in sympathy for some of their grievances. Bogle believes attention must be paid to their complaints.

    While the messages coming from Occupy Wall Street often seem to lack cohesion, one mantra has been that the new economy so eloquently described by Bogle has created unprecedented income disparity. A report out Tuesday from the Congressional Budget Office detailed how, in the last three decades, "the share of after-tax household income for the top 1 percent of the population more than doubled, climbing to 17 percent in 2007 from nearly 8 percent in 1979."

    So is Occupy Wall Street channeling Jack Bogle (who has analogized our financial economy to the childhood game of Rock, Paper, Scissors)? I e-mailed and asked him.

    He replied, "I like the idea of the idealism, frustration, and even anger that the Occupy Wall Street movement represents. These (mostly) young citizens can see what their elders (mostly) cannot - that the financial system is responsible for much of the havoc wreaked on our economy, with the penalties paid not by the Wall Street (and Greenwich) financiers and executives who led and participated in the abuse, but by the taxpayers of our nation. That our savers, as a result, are earning close to zero on their hard-earned savings is just one more example of this economic drain and profound unfairness.

    "So long as we have a First Amendment that guarantees the right of the people peaceably to assemble, their right to protest the inequities in our economic and financial system sends an important message to Wall Street: 'Attention must be paid!' In a world increasingly dominated by Goliaths, all those Davids together will make a difference."
    Bogle basically invented mutual fund investing in index funds, claiming that index funds would outperform actively managed funds over time (the success of his company is a testimony to his strategy). He was also a rebel in the sense that the success or failure of Vanguard (more the former than the latter) was based on the performance of its mutual funds (he was fired from Wellington Management for trying to implement this kind of a business model – again, he was proved to be right). So basically, he has always been a bit of a rebel, as well as a visionary; to me, it’s not a bit surprising that he “gets” the Occupy movement.

    And if you’re not bowled over by that, I give you this from David Zurawik…
    I have had my disagreements with Keith Olbermann the last few years, but I have been watching in admiration lately as night after night he's covered the Occupy protest movement like no one else in the media.

    I am surprised that he has not received more praise for getting to this major story before anyone else and understanding the massive sociology of it better than anyone yet.

    Olbermann understands that Occupy Wall Street is an eruption of the pain millions of Americans are feeling. He sees it as the sign that it is of something deeply disturbing that has happened to the quality of American life and our ability to believe in the future any more.

    And that is especially and heartbreakingly true for young adults who have paid their dues and gone to college only to discover there are no jobs for them. Those college students and young adults who were dancing in the streets on election night in 2008 after seeing TV coverage of Barack Obama in Grant Park are some of the same people sitting in tents in the cold and rain in American cities tonight. And no one in the media speaks to them and is telling their story like Keith Olbermann.

    Olbermann has been telling their story every night while cable channels like CNN have been sending smug, superficial anchor-hosts like Erin Burnett down to the Occupy Wall Street encampment to ridicule those who are protesting. And they are doing it in empty-headed, right-wing, 1960's, pot-and-bongo-drum stereotype-think worthy of Spiro Agnew -- or Pat Buchanon (sp).
    So let me get this straight – on the same day, Smerky indirectly compliments the “Occupy” protests with some reasonable perspective from John Bogle, and “Z on TV” compliments Keith Olbermann concerning the movement also?

    Color me shocked (and kudos to both pundits – nice to not have to dump on them for a change).

    But of course, since we’re talking about the “Occupy” protests, you can always depend on Fix Noise to bring the wingnuttia (here)...
    Tea Party groups across the nation are accusing local and state governments of a double standard – charging them fees to hold rallies in public parks, while allowing Occupy protesters to set up camp for free.

    “I find it extremely frustrating and upsetting,” said Colleen Owens, a spokesperson for the Richmond Tea Party. “It is definitely a slap in the face.”

    Owens is demanding a refund of about $10,000 from the city of Richmond, claiming her group was charged for rallies at Kanawha Plaza but the Occupy protesters have not been charged.

    “We’ve had to pay for the police, the sanitation, we had to pay for emergency personnel, and we event had to buy a $1 million liability policy,” Owens told Fox News.

    She said it was unfair that the protesters have been allowed to essentially break the law by setting up camp in the city park.

    “We’re trying to show this is unfair and biased treatment by the mayor and the city council,” she said. “Either force the occupiers to follow the law that’s on the books or evict them.”

    And what if the city doesn’t administer the law equally?

    “If they are not going to apply the law equally, then they should refund our money,” she said. “They’ve been camped out there for almost two weeks and they have not paid one dime. They are not being held accountable to follow the law, yet we were expected to follow the law.”
    In response, please allow me to point out that police violence has occurred against “Occupy” protests in New York City, Oakland, Arizona, Illinois, and even Australia (Mother Jones put together a complete list to date here – so far, 2,000 have been injured, including Iraq War vet Scott Olsen from Oakland, who suffered a fractured skull and brain swelling after he was allegedly hit in the head by a police projectile, as noted here).

    Memo to the Teahadists: if and when I see anything even remotely like this kind of commitment from you characters on behalf of income inequality (I can dream, can’t I?), I’ll be one of the first people to compliment you on it.

    Otherwise, stop your sniveling and whining over registration fees (or whatever) and shut your respective pie holes.

  • Finally (turning to local politics), here is a recent Guest Opinion in the Bucks County Courier Times from Lower Makefield supervisor candidate (and Dem) Ken Seda on how he plans to enable local government to operate more efficiently without raising taxes; and speaking of that, Independent LMT supervisor candidate Ron Smith tells us about some rather creative financing that benefitted Repug supervisor candidate “Dobby” Dobson here – his “high net worth” property assessment was reduced by 20 percent by the head of the Bucks County Board of Assessments, who just happens to be Dobson’s sister.

    Also, here is a letter on behalf of Gene Dolnick and Linda Palsky of the Pennsbury School Board, both running for re-election against Steve Kosmorsky and Chris Cridge, respectively (both minions of the dreaded Simon Campbell). And what would a recap of Bucks County politics be without more questionable dealings from Repug commissioner Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin (here – in response, click here to read about Dem commissioner candidates Diane Marseglia, Det Ansinn, and the rest of the slate from our party).

    We need to get out and vote in support of all of these worthy Dems (or independents) on November 8th, people. We can’t turn back the Repug tide on the national level unless we manage to do it on the local level first.
  • Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Thursday Mashup (10/27/11)

    Interesting poll results from the Bucks County Courier Times here, which tells me any or all of the following: 1) Most of that paper’s readership is not currently in college, 2) Most of that paper’s readership is not currently paying off a student loan, and 3) Most of that paper’s readership would reflexively hate anything this president did regardless of what it was.

    Meanwhile, this tells us the following…
    DENVER, Colorado — US President Barack Obama Wednesday dwelt upon his own struggles with student debt, as he laid out a plan to ease the burden of college loans and reached out to young voters in key swing state.

    The president, on his second visit to the Rocky Mountain electoral battleground of Colorado in a month, said he and his wife Michelle spent years paying off a combined student debt load of $120,000.

    “This is something Michelle and I know about first hand. I’ve been in your shoes. We did not come from a wealthy family,” Obama told students at the University of Colorado.

    “Our folks didn’t have a lot of money. We didn’t even own our own home. We rented most of the time that we were growing up.

    “We were able to land good jobs with a steady income. But it still took us almost 10 years to finally pay off all our student debt,” Obama said.

    “We want you in school. But we shouldn’t saddle you with debt when you’re starting off,” Obama said, referring to the high fees, in the tens of thousands of dollars a year, many US students face on the way to a degree.

    Obama’s plan, to be enacted by executive order, will mean payments would go down for 1.6 million Americans who are stuck with student loan debt, officials said.
    As positive a development as this is, however, there is the following to consider (here)…
    "It's a step in the right direction, but a lot of people who need the relief right now won't be the ones who benefit," said Mark Kantrowitz, who publishes the financial aid websites and "This plan doesn't do anything for a majority of distressed borrowers. It only helps those still in school."
    And by the way, what of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History on this subject? I give you this…
    Making matters worse was a 2005 President George W. Bush decree that student loan debt is the one thing you can’t wriggle away from by declaring personal bankruptcy, says (Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal). “It’s actually worse than a bad mortgage,” he says. “You have to get rid of the future you wanted to pay off all the debt from the fancy school that was supposed to give you that future.”
    Also, for comparison purposes, I thought it was a good idea to include this response from the WaPo on the very same subject…

    Oh, and as long as I’m commenting on the Courier Times, allow me to compliment the paper on its wonderful new layout with its oversized photos and reduced amount of type. If I wanted to subscribe to a third-grader reader trying to pass itself off as a mass circulation almost-daily newspaper, I would do so.

    Update 10/28/11: And for further evidence that Obama is doing the right thing here, I give you this.

  • Next, I give you the latest propaganda from Fix Noise (here)…
    The famous magician Harry Houdini would be proud of President Obama’s efforts to fool Americans into believing that immigration enforcement has increased. His trick is getting the public to focus on the total number of deportations while he hides the details of what those total numbers really reveal.

    Mr. Obama claims that his nearly 400,000 annual deportations of illegal aliens are higher than yearly deportations under President Bush. The claim is true – sort of, but so what? The previous president never adequately addressed the escalating cost and impact of illegal immigration so using his deportation numbers as a benchmark sets the bar very low.
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Oh my freaking God, that is way too damn funny!

    So just because Former Commander Codpiece pretty much chose to ignore ended up not getting anything accomplished on illegal immigration, his numbers are exempt from comparison purposes? Gee, can President Obama use that excuse the next time some wingnut complains about something he may not have paid a lot of attention to for some reason, such as the cost of our military involvement in Libya?

    Meanwhile, from the world of reality, I give you this…
    The eight years of President George W. Bush’s administration saw a marked increase in illegal immigration and a drop in immigration enforcement throughout much of his tenure. For example, the number of illegal aliens arrested in workplace cases fell from nearly 3,000 in 1999 to 445 in 2003, with the number of criminal cases against employers during this period falling from 182 to four. Not surprisingly, by 2005, there were an estimated 10-20 million illegal aliens living in the United States. Even at the end of 2007 after the Bush administration’s enforcement crackdown had been underway; only 92 criminal arrests of employers had taken place, in an economy that, according to the Washington Post, includes 6 million businesses that employ more than 7 million illegal foreign workers.

    Despite the failure of past amnesties and the fact that these increase illegal immigration, Bush repeatedly pushed mass legalization (amnesty) schemes for illegal immigrants using the well-worn line that they “are doing jobs Americans will not” or “are not” doing. One scheme was the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act 2007 which was defeated by widespread popular opposition.
    We have needed comprehensive immigration reform in this country for way too damn long, including the DREAM Act and a path to citizenship for the illegal/undocumented/whatever the #$@! you want to call them workers if they do the right thing (“pay the fine and get in line,” people – I know I’ve said this before, but why the hell can’t the Dems come up with catchy slogans for their good ideas the way the Repugs can come up with catchy slogans for their bad ones?).

  • Finally, The formerly Moonie Times haz a sad over the WaPo supposedly going after the Teahadists and Republicans in general (by the way, try hyperlinking to the actual stuff you’re supposedly criticizing instead of your own lame content)...
    The fury with which America’s left-leaning establishment has chronicled the country’s fiscal challenges is indeed fascinating to those of us who follow such activities.

    The Washington Post’s editorial and op-ed pages are full of grand indictments against all things Tea Party, GOP Congress and the leading Republican presidential contenders.

    The headlines of many recent opinion pieces reflect the unbridled vitriol: “Those reckless Republicans,” “The Tea Party, united only by anger and the Internet,” “Conservative zealotry vs. economic reality,” “Racism and the Tea Party movement,” and “The GOP’s carjacking on Capitol Hill” - is but a sampling of recent reviews produced by the establishment’s opinion makers.
    In response, I give you this…
    In an October 18 editorial titled, "The Wall Street Whiners: The 'Occupy' movement is made up of lots of losers," The Washington Times called the Occupy Wall Street protesters "crybabies" and "complainers" who "are desperate to blame others for their poor life choices."
    As usual, conservatives look into a mirror and see the reflection of everyone but themselves (oh, and here is another conspiracy theory on OWS making the rounds that I'm happy to help destroy).
  • Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Wednesday Mashup (10/26/11)

  • Here’s a lesson for the Dems – want to know how to beat the Teahadists? Take them head on, as noted here…
    Oregon Democrat Brad Avakian, who’s running in an upcoming special House election, released a TV ad last week in which he declares he is “ticked off” at “these tea party Republicans.”

    “People are excited to see someone stand up to these thugs in Congress,” Avakian told POLITICO, arguing that he’s the only Democrat in the crowded primary field who has embraced a muscular approach against the tea party. “They haven’t been there,” he said of his opponents.

    He’s not alone: Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi, another candidate facing a competitive primary, has turned his virulent opposition to smashmouth GOP Rep. Joe Walsh into the central thrust of his campaign, painting himself as the most committed tea party adversary in the race. Krishnamoorthi’s campaign recently put out a press release noting that “Raja’s record of standing up to Joe Walsh is long and well documented,” pointing out that he’s written anti-Walsh op-eds, launched a petition drive targeting the congressman and even personally confronted the Republican at one of his town halls.

    Florida Democrat Patrick Murphy, who’s running for the seat held by Rep. Allen West, widely regarded as the tea party’s favorite son, said he detects a strong desire among Democrats to embrace an aggressive posture toward the conservatives who have shifted Capitol Hill rightward. Murphy pointed to the swelling Occupy Wall Street movement, which is railing against the corporate world in cities across the country, as evidence that the left is energized and looking for politicians willing to espouse a forceful, anti-conservative message.

    “We said, ‘Look, if we’re going to counter this, we need to tap into the countermovement,’ and that’s the progressives out there,” said Murphy. “I think it’s important for us to be the anti-Allen West candidate, to tap into that kind of nationwide movement.”

    Murphy, a construction company executive, recently purchased an ad on the liberal Daily Kos website that features a picture of West and asks viewers, “What are you prepared to do to stop the tea party?” It adds: “Speak now, or forever drink the tea.”
    The Politico story also tells us that Lois Frankel is running for the Democratic Party nomination to face West in Florida next year and using much of the same anti-Teahadist rhetoric, and Tammy Duckworth is opposing Krishnamoorthi in Illinois for the right to run against deadbeat dad Walsh (also, New Mexico Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Bernalillo County commissioner, is running in a three-candidate primary for an Albuquerque-based seat in much the same fashion).

    And let’s not forget that Florida’s Patrick Murphy is not to be confused with this guy.

  • Next, I give you a real howler (here)…
    On life support. Dead man walking. Down for the count. He’s toast. Stick a fork in him; he’s done. Pick your own metaphorical cliché as long as it acknowledges that this president is a goner. If you need proof, consider Gallup’s recent assessment of the president’s job-approval numbers: “Only one elected president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, had a lower 11th-quarter average than Obama.” And we all know what happened to Mr. Peanut. Gallup brings the president’s lousy numbers to the bottom line by showing that Obama is losing to a generic Republican in its surveys, as well as in a head-to-head with the leading Republican, Mitt Romney.
    I don’t know what David Hill is a doctor of, but it definitely isn’t punditry; as noted here…
    ...President Barack Obama leads the Republican frontrunners in the crucial swing state of Ohio.

    According to a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, Ohioans would choose Obama over leading Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney by 45 percent to 41 percent, and has a wider lead over candidates Herman Cain and Rick Perry. He leads Perry by an 11-point margin (47 percent to 36 percent) and Cain by 8 points (47 percent to 39 percent).

    Obama has widened his lead over Romney and Perry since last month, and this is the first time Quinnipiac has pitted him against Cain. In September, Obama had a narrow 3-point lead over Perry, which he has now tripled. Last month, he and Romney were statistically tied, 44 percent to 42 percent, but the president has edged forward since.
    And this is from The Daily Tucker, people!

  • Continuing, it looks like Repug U.S. House Rep John Kline is going after the NLRB again here (that party’s non-jobs agenda drags on)…
    House Republicans are again moving forward with legislation to limit the power of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

    On Wednesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee is scheduled to mark up legislation sponsored by its chairman, Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.). The bill, known as the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, would negate several of the labor board’s actions this year, including a proposed regulation to speed up union elections.
    In response, I give you the following (here)...
    What a bunch of bullshit...the NLRB is doing its job! God forbid employees get equal footing to the employer. Groups like (the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the life forms behind Kline’s bogus bill) are fronts for the 1% to prevent the 99% from being able to get ahead. They do not care about fairness in the workplace; all these bastards care about is the almighty dollar.

    Here is a list of RILA members...I suggest you contact them and let them know what you think of their group—looks like I will buying a lot more locally (I am sure going to miss Apple products though).
    What a shame – I’ve enjoyed shopping at Best Buys and Target, among other stores from the link…it will be tough to come up with alternatives to these outfits, but I’ll give it a shot.

    Update 10/27/11: Here is a terrific response to Kline from an actual small business owner.

  • Further, I’ve got a couple of items pertaining to Occupy Wall Street – it seems Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News encountered some “one percenters” in the City of Brotherly Love who believe they pay enough taxes, thank you (here)…
    In rough economic terms, the top 1 percent control about 40 percent of America's wealth. I asked if that was fair.

    "Not particularly," shrugs (Center City lawyer George) Bochetto.

    "People who work hard and make money get to keep it, and people who do not work hard or are not industrious should not be given a free ride for the rest of their lives," says (former Philadelphia mayoral candidate and magnate Tom) Knox.

    (Renee) Amoore (of the M/WBE-certified economic development, health care, and management consulting firm called the Amoore Group) says, "We do pay our taxes and we reach out to help other people, too."

    Since Amoore, the deputy chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, knows presidential candidate Herman Cain, I asked if she agrees with his statement that if you are not rich, blame yourself.

    "You know what? Yes, I do," she says, adding "you can be rich in different ways."
    When the love of my family pays the mortgage and the utility bill, I’ll let you know (nice attempt to divert the argument).
    Bochetto says that although "if you were a minority, it was a much rougher road," the 99 percenters who are complaining "could have been more determined, more focused and taken advantage of opportunities that are available to everybody."

    Knox agrees that Cain has a point, but "some people never had the opportunity."

    The flip side of Cain's remark was the crack from Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren that no one ever got rich on his own.

    "She's a little quacky there," says Knox. "What she's trying to say is the help that you get is streetlights, roads, police. Who the hell paid for the streetlights, roads, police? That's your taxes. The 1 percent is paying 50 or 60 percent of the taxes."
    Really? While that one percent has seen its income “explode,” as Think Progress notes here? And can someone tell me how the top 1 percent can be paying 50-60 percent of the taxes when they take in a quarter of the nation’s income (here)?

    To be fair, there is some other even-handed stuff in here, such as admitting that a return to the high-end rate of 50 percent that we last saw under The Sainted Ronnie R might not be so bad (good luck with that, unfortunately). However, they all decry the supposedly failed “stimulus,” when I don’t see a better idea from any of them instead (and on that, I give you this).

    Also, please note that Knox didn’t say that Warren was wrong, only that she was “quacky.” Well, among other choice items, this story in Philadelphia Magazine tells us how Knox tried to eviscerate an employee pension fund to pay off creditors, which resulted in a lawsuit the employees eventually won (if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…).

    And speaking of right-wing economic delusions, I give you the following from Matt Mackowiak of the formerly Moonie Times here…
    The Obama campaign clearly sees political benefit in supporting the Occupy movement, and the president has voiced public support. But Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen recently argued in the Wall Street Journal, “President Obama and the Democratic leadership are making a critical error in embracing the Occupy Wall Street movement - and it may cost them the 2012 election.”
    Citing the Schoen poll is particularly humorous when you find out how the “Fix Noise Democrat” jiggered the results here (and here is Mackowiak from about a year ago deriding the Dems’ attempt at conciliation with the “loyal opposition” - first bullet).

  • Finally, I really don’t have much to add here, but I just wanted to point out that today would have been the 100th birthday of gospel music legend Mahalia Jackson; I won’t be able to embed videos for at least a few more days (a little early for “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” though I suppose that’s a tune that can be appreciated all year long), so instead, I’ll just provide the link above that tells us her inspirational story.
  • Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Tuesday Mashup (10/25/11)

  • For the record, I just want to say that I think the NAACP is right here, and the city of Philadelphia is wrong, even though they have a right to refuse the advertising – too bad if the truth hurts.

  • Also, it looks like someone named Aaron Klein is in high wingnut dudgeon over the Occupy Wall Street protests (here)…
    The visible protest is by and large a data point on a historic timeline of young people confronting a tired old regime; in that sense, it's a periodic renaissance, the refreshment that society needs to move from one epoch to another.

    In the present instance, however, there's an undercurrent moving in the opposite direction, a careful manipulation of participants by a deeply non-democratic band. Behind the current Occupy Wall Street protests is a "red army" of radicals seeking no less than to provoke a new, definitive economic crisis, with their goal being the full collapse of the U.S. financial system, with the ensuing chaos to be rebuilt into a utopian socialist vision.
    Funny, but that sounds an awful lot like something Glenn Beck would say, as noted here (with Beck having been promoted by Klein, of course, as noted here).

    Update 10/27/11: And speaking of nutty OWS conspiracy theories, I give you this.

  • Next, I give you “Son of Solyndra” (cue scary theme music) from someone named Mark Hemingway at The Weakly Standard (here, referencing a quote from President Obama about clean energy)…
    With the collapse of taxpayer subsidized solar panel maker Solyndra, and the revelation that a Democratically-connected electric car company took large Energy Department loans and is making those cars in Finland, Obama had better hope that voters don't hold him to his own standards.
    Ha and ha – as noted here…
    ABC News has published a lengthy article on its website that misleadingly suggests taxpayers are being ripped off because a car company that got a federal loan guarantee is assembling its vehicles in Finland. The story is headlined "Car Company Gets U.S. Loan, Builds Cars In Finland."

    In fact, the article reports that the company, Fisker Automotive, has created 100 auto-plant jobs in Delaware in addition to 500 manufacturing jobs in Finland. Fisker's founder also told ABC that his company has spent the federal money it has received on marketing, engineering, and design work done in the United States, not on the Finnish jobs.
    As noted here, though, Hemingway is a serial misinformer on this as well as other topics (way beyond pathetic that this is the best he and his ilk can do when it comes to manufacturing an Obama “scandal”).

  • Continuing, I give you the following from The Hill (here)…
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed two new air quality rules that pose substantial threats to both employment and the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers. The first is the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) that would cap key emissions crossing state lines and the second is the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology Rule (MACT) that would set absolute limits in mercury and other chemical emissions. As designed, the Utility MACT would be the most expensive direct rule in EPA history. Indeed, the EPA itself has estimated it would impose costs of about $11 billion a year on the U.S. economy, though third-party estimates of compliance costs are considerably higher.

    For example, a recent analysis by National Economic Research Associates (NERA) finds that complying with the proposed standards would cost power companies close to $18 billion per year for the next 20 years. Some coal-fired plants would be so expensive to retrofit they would simply be shut down. The NERA study also projects that about 48 gigawatts of coal generation would be retired over the next five years, representing a 13 percent decline.
    Geez oh man, $11 billion? $18 billion?

    Check this out…
    According to the EPA, by 2014 the required emissions reductions (as mandated by the CSAPR) will annually avoid:

    • 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths
    • 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks
    • 19,000 hospital and emergency room visits
    • 1.8 million lost work days or school absences
    • 400,000 aggravated asthma attacks

    Compared to 2005, EPA estimates that by 2014 this rule and other federal rules will lower power plant annual emissions in the CSAPR region by:

    • 6.4 million tons per year of SO2 - a 73 percent reduction
    • 1.4 million tons per year of NOX - a 54 percent reduction

    The final rule, according to EPA estimates, yields $120 to $280 billion in annual health and welfare benefits in 2014, which outweighs the estimated annual costs of CSAPR of $800 million in 2014, along with the roughly $1.6 billion per year in capital investments already under way as a result of (the Clean Air Interstate Rule, or CAIR, implemented in 2005 and scheduled to be phased out by CSAPR).
    And by the way, updating the Clean Air Act regulations creates jobs. And that’s not “blowing smoke” (or ozone too, for that matter).

    Update 10/26/11: Oh, and speaking of regulations, I give you this.

  • Finally (and in the spirit of the season somewhat), I give you the following from the formerly Moonie Times (claiming, with typical inside-out conservative “logic,” that opposing voter ID laws is an attack on voter integrity)…
    Against obvious voter fraud like Al Franken’s car-trunk ballots in Minnesota in 2008 as well as the typically vigorous turnout from cemeteries in Chicago and other large cities, Republican legislators are trying to even the playing field or at least keep it from resembling the Dawn of the Dead.
    In response, I give you the following from here…
    On The Beltway Boys, co-host Fred Barnes echoed the discredited rumor that ballots in the (U.S. Senate race in Minnesota between Norm Coleman and Al Franken in 2008) were mishandled, stating: "We've seen, under some questionable circumstances, Franken gaining, you know, 32 ballots from the trunk of somebody's car that had been sitting there for a few days. I mean, I find that a bit suspicious." In fact, state officials refuted rumors that the ballots were handled improperly, and a lawyer for Coleman's campaign, who initially raised questions about those ballots, reportedly said afterward that he had been assured the ballots were not tampered with. [11/15/08]
    However, if Robert Knight and Fred Barnes are interested in an actual voting horror story (a stretch, I know), they should read this.
  • Monday, October 24, 2011

    Monday Mashup (10/24/11)

    (Note: Posting will continue to be sporadic, with no videos for the foreseeable future.)

  • So much stoo-pid from Bernard Goldberg here (accusing Number 44 of the dreaded “class warfare”)…
    Pitting Americans against each other simply for personal political gain would be bad enough. But for a president who rode into office on a magic carpet of lofty promises about hopes and dreams to make America a better, post-partisan place, this is truly despicable.
    Do you want to know what else is “truly despicable,” Bernie? Claiming that that dreaded “liberal media” of yours didn’t report on then candidate-Barack Obama’s association with William Ayres until the last month of the presidential campaign in 2008 even though Sarah Palin raised it as an issue on the campaign trail, when in fact Palin didn’t mention it before October 2008 when the New York Times report in question had already appeared (here).

    Never mind that the poor aren’t poor because the rich are rich. In fact, if we had fewer rich people we’d probably have more poor people, since rich people are the ones who invest their money in companies that produce jobs. And even if the rich paid 100 percent of their income in taxes it would barely put a dent in the national debt and wouldn’t create a single job.
    Oh, brother – as noted here from last month…
    WASHINGTON — President Obama will unveil a plan on Monday that uses entitlement cuts, tax increases and war savings to reduce the federal deficit by more than $3 trillion over the next 10 years, administration officials said.

    The plan, which Mr. Obama will lay out Monday morning at the White House, is the administration’s opening move in sweeping negotiations on deficit reduction to be taken up by a joint House-Senate committee over the next two months. If a deal is not enacted by Dec. 23, cuts could take effect automatically across government agencies.

    Mr. Obama will call for $1.5 trillion in tax increases, primarily on the wealthy, through a combination of letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire, closing loopholes and limiting the amount that high earners can deduct. The proposal also includes $580 billion in adjustments to health and entitlement programs, including $248 billion to Medicare and $72 billion to Medicaid. Administration officials said that the Medicare cuts would not come from an increase in the Medicare eligibility age.
    And of course, we know what happened when Obama unveiled his proposal (and here is more hilarity from “Ding Dong” Bernie – fourth bullet). Also, based on this, it looks like, when it comes to "class warfare," this country wants to see more of it, not less.

  • Next, we have a crackpot history lesson from Joe Nocera of the New York Times, from a Saturday column (commemorating I suppose the anniversary of Robert Bork’s defeated nomination for Supreme Court Justice in 1987)…
    …The Bork fight, in some ways, was the beginning of the end of civil discourse in politics. For years afterward, conservatives seethed at the “systematic demonization” of Bork, recalls Clint Bolick, a longtime conservative legal activist. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution coined the angry verb “to bork,” which meant to destroy a nominee by whatever means necessary. When Republicans borked the Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright less than two years later, there wasn’t a trace of remorse, not after what the Democrats had done to Bork. The anger between Democrats and Republicans, the unwillingness to work together, the profound mistrust — the line from Bork to today’s ugly politics is a straight one.

    I’ll tell you what – I see you Robert Bork, Nocera, and raise you Abe Fortas.

    Who is Abe Fortas, you may ask? Only a sitting Supreme Court associate justice nominated to the High Court by President Lyndon Johnson, and subsequently confirmed; he accepted $15,000 for nine speaking engagements at the American University Law School. And for that, he was forced to step down from the bench in 1969.

    Let me emphasize that – Fortas was a sitting Justice who was forced to step down over the payment of $15,000 for speaking fees. Now try contrasting that with Silent Clarence Thomas, whose wife, Ginny, has made a tidy little income over that godawful Citizens United ruling, among other decisions involving her husband (here).

    Oh, and Nocera fails to mention the fact that then-Solicitor General Bork was the one who ended up firing Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus refused to do so (here).

    I’m really tired of hearing conservatives whine about “what might have been,” since, for the most part, they’ve managed to do quite well for themselves anyway, thank you very much. And Nocera is not going to win any “brownie points” by coming to their defense.

    Am I saying that Democrats are innocent when it comes to torpedoing presidential nominees? Of course not. I’m just saying that I’d like to see people like Nocera provide the context that he should to stories of political skullduggery so I don’t have to do his job for him.

  • And speaking of New York Times’ writers catering to wingnuts, I give you this additional item from Peter Baker; it seems that Our Gal Condi Rice, along with every other Bushco miscreant, has written a book (Cheney didn’t like her, Rumsfeld was dismissive, Dubya thought she was encouraging civil war in Mesopotamia, blah blah blah) …
    For the most part, though, Ms. Rice defends the most controversial decisions of the Bush era, including the invasion of Iraq. The wave of popular uprisings known as the Arab Spring this year, she writes, has vindicated Mr. Bush’s focus on spreading freedom and democracy.
    Uh, no.

  • Finally, I should note that last Saturday was the 30th anniversary of the decertification of the PATCO air traffic controllers as a result of their firing by The Sainted Ronnie R. And with that in mind, I give you the following…
    In 1981, members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), an independent labor union not affiliated with the AFL-CIO, voted overwhelmingly to strike the government. Within 48 hours of the walkout, Reagan (who ironically had been supported in his campaign by PATCO), fired the lot of them and ordered the FAA to hire permanent replacements.

    Replacing strikers in this manner wasn’t against the law, but it had always been considered a “nuclear option” not to be used. Strikers often were fired, to be sure, but when a contract settlement came within reach, the last item to be negotiated usually was a “return to work agreement” essentially rehiring the workers with full seniority, and often with back pay.

    Carter, no supporter of unions (even though labor overwhelmingly backed him in his run for the presidency) had set the table for Reagan by authorizing a campaign of harassment of PATCO leaders while he was still president. Twelve months before the government’s contract with PATCO was set to expire, Carter formed a “Management Strike Contingency Force” to prepare for a strike and plot the recruitment of replacement workers...

    Kirkland, miffed that the controllers had not consulted him before striking, denounced Reagan’s strike-breaking strategy, but formally ordered AFL-CIO unions not to get involved in supporting the strike. A year later, PATCO was decertified, its members never to be rehired.
    As the story tells us, the union was later reformed as NATCA, but as a result of the PATCO firing, “(the practice) of ‘permanently replacing’ striking workers quickly became standard operation procedure in private industry and helped employer after employer either face down strikes or break them.”

    And as noted here from last April (based on another story about sleepy air traffic controllers)…
    Every place where people work for a living has safety issues of some kind. Who is looking out for them? Who is looking out for us? Anyone who thinks market forces give a damn about health or safety is living on a different planet.

    Unions - they're not just about a decent day's pay for an honest day of work.
    Funny, but wasn’t this supposed to do something about that sort of thing?