Friday, November 21, 2014

Home of the Bills


A hearty welcome to our lake effect brothers in cleats. Enjoy the facilities.

Some in G.O.P. Fear That Their Hard-Liners Will Alienate Latino Voters
Ya think? Fortunately vacation is more important than "anarchy, ethnic cleansing and Constitutional crisis."

Among them is Representative Steve King of Iowa, once a fringe figure against immigration and now a voice of rising prominence, to many leaders’ chagrin. Congressional leaders were privately relieved that many Republicans had left Washington for the Thanksgiving holiday before Mr. Obama announced plans for his address, reducing the availability of anti-immigration conservatives for cable-television bookers seeking reactions.

Why Republicans Are So Mad About Obama's Immigration Order
Paul Waldman explains (the latest) Republican angst - Obama's not showing deference, he's backing them into a corner on policy, they never thought he was legitimate in the first place, and there's not a whole lot they can do about it without looking like a bunch of crackpots. Which they will do anyway, because they can't help themselves.

Republicans' greatest fear about this is that Obama will go ahead and do what he wants and they won't be able to stop him, even though they worked so hard to gain full control of Congress after six long years. They won the election, his approval ratings are low, they firmly believe they're right, and yet this president they loathe so much is about to just walk all over them anyway. No wonder they're mad.

Paul Ryan Sad That Obama’s Immigration Plan Hurts Chance to Cut Taxes for the Rich
I call the elevation of Paul Ryan to Chairman of Ways & Means the "Jon Chait Full Employment Act of 2015." This guy is gonna have a field day. Or, year, as the case may be.

The funny thing is that he is using this prospect as some kind of inducement to Obama. But of course Obama doesn’t want to pass a tax reform that lowers revenue and makes the tax code less progressive. He wants taxes to raise more revenue and be more progressive. It’s just bizarre for Ryan to lament that Obama’s plans to make immigration enforcement more humane is costing him the chance to cut taxes for the rich.

Conservatives to GOP leaders: Fight Obama to the end
Greg Sargent points out that yes, a Republican Congress can find all kinds of ways to f this up by attaching riders to important funding legislation - and then blame Obama for "shutting down the government". It would then be up to squishy Dems to stand strong. Would they bail?

Of course, conservatives will demand that GOP leaders pursue this strategy, because they appear to believe that if Republicans hang in there long enough, the shuttering of important government functions will ultimately put pressure on Obama to relent. It’s very possible that the politics of this fight could get very dicey for Democrats. You could see a situation in which a handful of Senate Democrats (who support legislative reform but are uncomfortable with the substance or politics of unilateral action) initially defect and side with Republicans against Obama’s move.

Obama’s advantage is that he has an immigration policy. Republicans don’t.
Ezra Klein points out we still don't know the Rs plan. Will the media start asking what it is?

And what are their alternatives? Impotent rage? A government shutdown? A slow-moving lawsuit? A disastrous impeachment effort? A solemn vow that whatever damage Obama does to the constitutional order, Republicans will double it when they retake the White House? All of these are likelier to wound the GOP than Obama. None of these are likely to benefit the party in 2016. And none of them solve the underlying problem.

After Obama's Immigration Speech
All joking aside, stretching the executive power can lead down a path we really don't want to go. Thomas Mann wants you to remember that this was brought on by unprecedented Republican obstructionism (or, abdication of responsibility, as someone else put it last night), and when that happens, problem-solving falls disproportionately onto the other branches of government. No way to run the three-legged railroad.

Let’s get serious. Republicans used their majority foothold in the House to guarantee that Congress would be the graveyard of serious policymaking, a far cry from the deliberative first branch of government designed by the framers. They have reduced the legislative process to nothing more than a tool in a partisan war to control the levers of public power. The cost of such unrelenting opposition and gridlock is that policymaking initiative and power inevitably will flow elsewhere -- to the executive and the courts.

No, Your Ancestors Didn’t Come Here Legally
A brief explainer on American immigration policy through the years. Unless you are of Chinese descent from the West Coast, they didn't start closing the doors to entry until after WWI. After that, it was a matter of ideology, national quotas, and basically a convoluted mess. Targeting of Mexico and other countries south of the US started in 1965.

Prior to 1875’s Page Act and 1882’s Chinese Exclusion Act, there were no national immigration laws. None. There were laws related to naturalization and citizenship, to how vessels reported their passengers, to banning the slave trade. Once New York’s Castle Garden Immigration Station opened in 1855, arrivals there reported names and origins before entering the U.S. But for all pre-1875 immigrants, no laws applied to their arrival. They weren’t legal or illegal; they were just immigrants.

In Which the President Speaks About My Grandmother
The reason I included the above is that I thought about it too, during that speech. How did my great-great-grandparents find the reception in this country when they first arrived? I have no idea. It's lost to time. But I know that I'm a European mutt, not originally of this continent, and the people granted relief last night were once my own.

But, for now, when I saw the video of the people who were most directly affected by the president's actions, the people with a glimmer of hope in their eyes, the people waving the little flags a little more vigorously, I knew that the president had the moral and historical high ground on this issue. I saw my grandmother among them, come to America and a job folding sheets for the swells, first in Boston and then in Worcester. The heart of the experience is the same. The hope is the same. And the rest is all for later.

Falling Wages at Factories Squeeze the Middle Class
Why is Michigan now a poor state, with income per capita in the bottom ten? Because we eliminated good paying auto parts and other manufacturing jobs an replaced them with temp positions that pay half the price and no benefits. As the auto sector fell, other manufacturing sectors (like furniture, i.e. Steelcase) were free to lower their standards as well.

Pressured by temporary hiring practices and a sharp decrease in salaries in the auto parts sector, real wages for manufacturing workers fell by 4.4 percent from 2003 to 2013, NELP researchers found, nearly three times the decline for workers as a whole.

Read the whole thing for the story of Michigan in a nutshell. The statistics now match the previous predictions.

Thursday, November 20, 2014



This was the former Michigan AAA building in Detroit. They tore it down this summer, so I'm glad I got some shots of it before it met the wrecking ball.

Stuff is happening:

At Long Last, Immigration Action
The President will advocate for sane immigration policy, and the NYT is ON IT. Good read.

The right will falsely label Mr. Obama’s actions lawless. They are a victory for problem-solving over posturing, common sense over cruelty, and lawful order over a chaotic status quo.

Washington Holds Its Breath Over Immigration Speech
Here's the thing: Republicans can pass their own plan, or they can pound salt. Defunding the agency that deals with immigration is not an option.

Officials of the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee have concluded that the government agency most responsible for implementing any new executive order — the Citizenship and Immigration Services — would not be hindered if government funds are cut off; it operates entirely on revenue it generates through immigration applications. In short, lawmakers have no fiscal leverage over the agency, which could keep operating even if the rest of the government was shut down.

Note to GOP: Just Because Right-Wingers Are Blind With Rage Doesn't Mean Obama's Immigration Action Is Illegal
And here's the other thing: This is legal, it's been done before (but maybe not on this large of a scale), and we can't address every issue based on a measure of the Conservative Outrage Meter, because the damn thing is obviously broken.

The standard they’re proposing instead is completely capricious and self-serving: That the right's reactive character is an inviolable norm, and that conservative outrage should thus help settle all other normative questions. If you submit deportation discretion to this standard, then every executive action save for the most trivial will be subject to the “can the conservative movement whip up a shitstorm” test.

Republicans are officially the "Boy Who Cried Wolf Party." EVERYTHING is a disaster, until policy kicks in and works, lo and behold, and then it's not. See: Obamacare, DOE "Solyndra" programs, auto bailouts, the (falling) deficit, Ebola in US, "terrorists crossing the border", gay marriage, climate change, on and on and on.... When have they been right about anything they screech about?

Obama's plan of action on immigration may derail Republican agenda
Wait, this splits the Republican base to the point where they can't function for all the poutrage? What a pity.

That's largely because the question of how to handle the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. bitterly divides Republicans, and the party has been unable to agree on an alternative to the president's plan. To many, stark warnings from Boehner and McConnell sound more like pleas to the president to avoid reenergizing the GOP's conservative wing, whose leaders are already threatening to link the president's immigration plan to upcoming budget talks. Another government shutdown is not what McConnell and Boehner had in mind when their party won control of Congress this month.

Doing the right thing is the best negotiating stance
Bottom line again: R's can participate at any time. If they choose not to, so be it. There are lives in the balance.

Instead, he's saying I'm doing this and if you don't like it, pass a bill I can sign and I'll rescind it. He's not foreclosing compromise he's just saying that he's not going to wait any longer for them to do what they keep saying they are going to do and never actually do it. I don't know how it's going to work politically but he has nothing to lose by trying it. And actual humans will benefit. Good.

Warren Torches GOP On Economy: We Tried It, It Was 'Nearly Catastrophic'
This. This speech. This reality. This. This. This. The NBC/WSJ poll pointed out that everyone in America (except the rich) thinks the system works against them. First priority is to change the opinion that government always fails. You've got thirty years of Reaganism to undo - and Warren is the one pointing the way. And from that, all else will flow.

"People across this country get it. Sure, there’s a lot of work to be done and there’s a long way to go before Democrats can reclaim the right to say that we’re fighting for America’s working people, that we’re fighting to build a future not just for some of our children but for all of our children," Warren said. "No, we’re not there yet but don’t forget the good news. Our agenda is America’s agenda."

NBC poll: Public attitudes clear as mud
Steve Benen breaks down the poll and finds that America is pretty messed up when it comes to who can address what they say are their priorities.

A majority of Americans believe the government should “do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people,” rather than leaving issues to businesses and individuals … though the election results, which most of the country is happy about, guarantee that won’t happen. There’s ample room for discussion about the contradictions, but one thing seems indisputable: if Republicans look at the 2014 as a broad national mandate for a far-right agenda and hardball partisan tactics, they’re badly misreading the political landscape.

Banks Had Unfair Advantage From Commodity Units: Senator
Our country is going to miss Carl Levin.

In a report on Goldman Sachs (GS) Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co., a Senate panel said the firms have eroded the line separating banking from commercial activities to the detriment of consumers and the financial system. The holdings give banks access to non-public information that could move markets and increase the likelihood that industrial accidents will spur taxpayer bailouts, the report said... The investigation, which is the focus of a two-day public hearings that start today, is a swan song for retiring Levin, a Michigan Democrat who’s long been a scourge of the banking industry. His 2010 showcase of Goldman Sachs’s mortgage trades helped crystallize the financial crisis in the minds of the American public and left a stain on the bank that it has yet to fully erase.

GOP to double down on ‘voodoo’ economics?
We are getting the Ryan budget. That means more tax cuts for the wealthy and more program cuts for the poor, period, full stop. In a perfect world, you'd turn Liz Warren loose on this RIGHT NOW before it gets off the ground. Why can't the Dems ever get out in front of the next Big Lie, when it's obvious what's coming?

Ryan’s goal is to slash high end taxes and to balance the budget in 10 years. He says he’ll make up the lost revenues by closing some loopholes, but “dynamic scoring” is also a crucial piece of this puzzle. Liberals warn that “dynamic scoring” should only be used in limited ways, because its accuracy is very uncertain, but conservatives like it because it allows them to claim tax cuts will produce more revenue from economic growth, reducing the need for the hard choices required to make up that revenue in the plan itself.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fall on the Keweenaw


Keweenaw Peninsula, right outside Copper Harbor.

Happy Birthday to my Dad, 73 years today! Hope you have an excellent day. Love you!

Senate Defeats Bill on Keystone XL Pipeline in Narrow Vote
One last stand - but at least they took a stand. This will pass in the next Congress, whether Obama vetoes or not is anyone's guess.

Tuesday’s vote exposed to public view some of the contours and rifts in the Democratic Party, where many senators feel they have too often bent over backward to accommodate Ms. Landrieu and protect her Senate seat — one of the last remaining Democratic seats in the South. They finally revolted, in what they said was a vote of principle against legislation they believe would harm the environment.

Sheldon Whitehouse revealed an important truth about governance in the 60-vote Senate, "We will have more tools in the minority than we had in the majority." It's unfortunate, but it's true. Look for more "principled stands" to come as the perpetual campaign season rolls along next year.

A Citizen’s Guide to Buying Political Access
Start small, buy your local state legislator, is what this article ultimately suggests. The key here though is the flat-out admission that political access is bought and sold, you have to have money to play, and the idea that these guys serve for the public good is but a quaint notion of yesteryear.

A recent study provides some confirmation of what many voters have long assumed: Campaign donations buy access to politicians. Precisely how much money it takes to gain access is up for debate — and it will vary across offices — but even politicians themselves have admitted that big donors get special treatment.

Dana Milbank seems to think that Dems can't sell a populist approach because they are endebted to big money along with the Republicans. What he forgets is that there are rich liberals too, they are concerned with the greater good, and if you don't think Tom Steyer had an influence on that Keystone vote, you're crazy. They might not be as rich as the Kochs', but they generally have public opinion on their side. They don't call it "populist" for nothing.

Here's Why Conservatives Will Never Give Up Their War on Obamacare
This is easy, but Brian Beutler writes a great argument to explain. Bottom line: Conservatives would eliminate the New Deal and the Great Society if they thought they could get away with it. The next Congress is going to do everything they can to mess it all up without calling for outright repeal of all social programs. Broken government is their speciality, after all.

Conservatives don’t just oppose distributive programs that help the poor and working class—these programs drive them batty in and of themselves. That Obamacare patched up the single biggest hole in the federal safety net, and in so doing extended government-sponsored health benefits to people through every stage of life, intensifies this reaction. Obamacare effectively settled a decades-long debate over the nation’s character in the left’s favor, and did so on a partisan basis. How could conservatives not be incensed?

Complicate and underfund, program loses popularity because it becomes inadequate and a pain to deal with, turn around and cry "see, it doesn't work!", and then simply eliminate. That's the master strategy.

Gaming the System
Charlie Pierce gazes his wise eye on the idea floated by my great state to rig the Electoral College. Get ready for more national scorn when our Tea Party Legislature comes in next January.

But this proposal will fit quite nicely into the electoral dreamland fashioned by Anthony Kennedy. In Citizens United, he deregulated and legalized influence peddling. This proposal will deregulate and legalize election fraud. And the country will go on as before, because there has been a four-decade exercise in convincing the public that their franchise is ultimately worthless unless it is used as a weapon against the many imaginary Others. Voting is no longer thought to be a constructive act. It is merely an instrument of revenge, a conjuring act for the implacable political Id.

If so, let's use it to our advantage, OK? The Meekhof Era will give us plenty to revenge, if we but try.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Keystone Day


Monterey. I suggest you go there.

Keystone Day. As I write this, the vote is set for tonight, and rumor has it that Senate Democrats are set to put it over the top. Another says they are stuck at 59. Arms will be twisted, and big money will be deployed. Some green-themed news...

Landrieu Tries to Gather Enough Votes on Keystone Pipeline
The WH can stall off due to the Nebraska court case, pushing this into January. If so, maybe we do the smart thing and get something out of it. President much smarter than Senate Dems.

If that is the case, people familiar with the president’s thinking say that in 2015 he might use Keystone as a bargaining chip: He would offer Republicans approval of it in exchange for approval of one of his policies.

The Greening of Barack Obama
Legacy time. And if Hillary taps Podesta, we have a chance to make it stick. Politico being Politico, they cite more than a few naysayers here, but the policy achievements will far outwiegh the politics in the eyes of history.

What changed, according to political and environmental sources close to the president, was Obama’s awareness that the environment is one of the few areas where a president can act unilaterally and to broad effect. Rallying nations and individuals alike to curb greenhouse-gas pollution is one mountaintop that Obama can climb, with or without Congress.

Kochworld's 2014 Lesson: It's All About Victimhood
Remember kids, the Koch Brothers are the victims here. How dare you ask them to be responsible citizens that contribute to society? Since you can expect more of the same in '16, the Dems would do well to figure out a counter argument to this crap right now.

So earlier this year, AFP dropped its economic argument against Obamacare in favor of TV ads with a bit more human drama, spotlighting people who had to drive twice as far to get to a doctor, for instance. Watch for AFP to continue with ads about environmental regulations putting business owners under water and Medicaid expansion causing doctor overload, Phillips said. "I'm just going to say this, though it probably comes out sounding like a joke: We need to keep taking back victimhood," Phillips said. "The Democrats cannot own that."

Will Republicans Need a New Message on Climate Change in 2016?
Of course they will. And given the victimhood above, they will offer mixed messages on it - but look for them to try and grab at this "populist" issue too.

“I think there will be a political problem for the Republican Party going into 2016 if we don’t define what we are for on the environment,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said. “I don’t know what the environmental policy of the Republican Party is.”... Inglis warned that the 2016 electoral map looks much worse for Senate Republicans than it did in 2014, when Democrats were competing in solidly Republican, or Republican-leaning, states. Younger voters, who are more likely to be concerned about the issue, also are expected to turn out in larger numbers given that it is a presidential year.

Revealed: Keystone company's PR blitz to safeguard its backup plan
TransCanada is prepping a backup to Keystone called Energy East, a plan that runs through Canada alone. If you oppose it, get ready to face a well-funded PR team that will attack you will "oppo research." Example: The spill in the Kalamazoo River is mentioned, the "good guy" ads from Enbridge followed, BP and the Gulf, the Koch Industry ads, so on, and we are entering the age of the permanent propaganda on behalf of oil interests.

In the five strategy documents, made available to the Guardian by the campaign group Greenpeace, representatives from Edelman’s offices in Calgary propose an exhaustive strategy to push through the Energy East project including mobilisation of third-party supporters and opposition research against pipeline opponents... Industry mobilised a million activists and generated more than 500,000 pro-Keystone comments during the public comment period, one of the documents says. “It’s not just associations or advocacy groups building these programs in support of the industry. Companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and Halliburton (and many more) have all made key investments in building permanent advocacy assets and programs to support their lobbying, outreach and policy efforts,” the documents say.

Will Corporate Lobbyists and Conservative AGs Kill a Model Environmental Cleanup?
The Chesapeake Bay is plagued with runoff pollution that causes algae blooms and dead zones. The states surrounding the Bay, along with the EPA, came up with a plan to clean it up. "Conservatives" and their wealthy supporters are not pleased because they are afraid that they will be made to clean up their own backyard next. So, they are suing to stop it. The Big Lie here is the claim that clean up hurt the states' economy.

Much of the resistance to the EPA’s plan, called the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, is coming from outside of the states involved with the bay cleanup. Twenty-one state attorneys general — most from states that opposed Obama in 2012, such as Texas, Wyoming and Alaska — filed an amicus brief in the appeals process. Only one of the states, West Virginia, is in the affected region... A collection of legislators, mostly representing districts from outside the area and almost entirely Republican, also filed an amicus brief, writing that the decision “would allow the EPA to usurp this traditional state authority over economic development and land-use management decisions.” The legislators also said the suit would have a negative impact on bay states’ economies.

Fixed Fortunes: Biggest corporate political interests spend billions, get trillions
Stunning figures, but keep in mind this study includes the various bail-outs that kept us from falling into a Depression 2.0. Still, it proves a point - the money flows to the top and is for all intents guaranteed, while regular folks are merely lucky to get some of the crumbs.

After examining 14 million records, including data on campaign contributions, lobbying expenditures, federal budget allocations and spending, we found that, on average, for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 from the government. The $4.4 trillion total represents two-thirds of the $6.5 trillion that individual taxpayers paid into the federal treasury.

Coal Rush in India Could Tip Balance on Climate Change
Why the China agreement was so important - we need to work on India.

India’s power minister, Piyush Goyal, said at a recent conference in New Delhi in response to a question. “The West will have to recognize we have the needs of the poor.” Mr. Goyal has promised to double India’s use of domestic coal from 565 million tons last year to more than a billion tons by 2019, and he is trying to sell coal-mining licenses as swiftly as possible after years of delay. The government has signaled that it may denationalize commercial coal mining to accelerate extraction.

Hydrogen Cars Join Electric Models in Showrooms
Around the turn of the century, these were predicted to be the "next big thing." Looks like they finally got the technology down, but, like electric, the infrastructure to power up is a problem. Producing hydrogen at this point is expensive and carbon intense. Fascinating read though. Fuel cells do have some advantages.

Dr. Chu, now a professor at Stanford University, is still among the skeptics — he, like Mr. Musk, sees electric batteries as the more promising path. But he said advances in solar and wind technologies made producing hydrogen by splitting water more economical. “I began to see more possibilities of clean hydrogen production,” he said in an interview last month. Other technologies could emerge, too. A hydrogen station in Fountain Valley, about 45 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, is in front of a wastewater treatment plant, because the hydrogen comes from human waste.

Second Texas Textbook Publisher Drops Climate-Denial Entry Amid Backlash

McGraw-Hill's announcement comes less than a week before the board votes to adopt a new set of social-studies textbooks in Texas. The news also comes days after Pearson Education, the largest textbook publisher in the world, moved to cut passages from its proposed textbook that had faced similar climate criticism. Here's what McGraw-Hill's textbook previously stated: "Scientists agree that Earth's climates are changing. Not all individuals, however, agree on the causes of these changes." That section will now be cut from the textbook.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunset at Quincy


Some stuff.

Krugman: When Government Succeeds
Republicans set their hair on fire when it came to Ebola in America (no outbreak), green energy programs (turned a profit), the deficit (falling fast) and Obamacare (working, containing costs, and people like it). Question really is: Why are they still taken seriously? (cynical answer: ratings and clicks)

The moral of these stories is not that the government is always right and always succeeds. Of course there are bad decisions and bad programs. But modern American political discourse is dominated by cheap cynicism about public policy, a free-floating contempt for any and all efforts to improve our lives. And this cheap cynicism is completely unjustified. It’s true that government-hating politicians can sometimes turn their predictions of failure into self-fulfilling prophecies, but when leaders want to make government work, they can.

Playing Politics With Tar Sands Oil
Right on cue, here's another ongoing Big Lie from Republicans, still in progress. Tar sands oil from Keystone will not bring us energy independence or create thousands of permanent jobs. Democrats have turned this into a "both sides" in a doomed attempt to save Landrieu - and this comes after numerous ads across the country during election season that trumpeted D candidates as protectors of the environment. Branding, undermined, big time.

They are almost entirely acts of political theater, designed in the House to favor the extractive industries, and in the Senate to prop up the troubled runoff election campaign of Mary Landrieu, a Democrat and co-sponsor of the Senate bill who is desperate to claim credit for getting the pipeline approved.

How Badly Do Republicans Want Tax Reform? (Maybe Not That Badly)
On deck for the next misdirection: Tax reform. But that's for next year.

The answer depends, it would seem, on the tender emotions of Republicans, who are already complaining that tax reform might have to be scrapped if Obama is mean to them. While the president seems capable of fighting his opposition on one issue and negotiating with them on another, so far Republicans are acting like some moody toddler, ready to start bawling and breaking toys at the first hint of frustration.

Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse
Wall Street guy and auto industry savior Steve Rattner notices that our low, low, low taxes are too low, and are exacerbating the income inequality problem.

That’s because our taxes, while progressive, are low by international standards and our social welfare programs — ranging from unemployment benefits to disability insurance to retirement payments — are consequently less generous. Conservatives may bemoan the size of our government; in reality, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, total tax revenues in the United States this year will be smaller on a relative basis than those of any other member country.

Blow: Partisanship Breaks the Government
Republicans were rewarded for malfeasance. Expect more of the same. Broken government is the goal.

While these battles may offer some ephemeral partisan gain — mostly for Republicans — they will suppress support for all three branches of government and further diminish public faith in the efficacy of government as a whole. According to a June poll by Gallup, “Americans’ confidence in all three branches of the U.S. government has fallen, reaching record lows for the Supreme Court (30 percent) and Congress (7 percent), and a six-year low for the presidency (29 percent).” While the blood sport of these clashes is likely to enthrall pundits and policy wonks, I fear that it won’t be good for the republic — particularly Democrats.

The Harder Part
George Packer notices the mandate to posture.

When the Republicans talk about proving that they can govern, they don’t mean that they intend to solve the country’s core problems. The bills that the leadership has vowed to bring to the floor include corporate tax reform, fast-track trade agreements, construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a repeal of the tax on medical devices. Most of these proposals are marginal enough to betray a tactical mind-set: the purpose is not to address important issues but to corner the President with bipartisan votes and improve the G.O.P.’s image ahead of 2016.

Republicans have no incentive to moderate or govern
David Atkins wonders if the press will keep giving the Rs a pass in the pursuit of horserace coverage. Unlike the cons election victories, press ratings are falling like a rock and they might want to sing a new tune eventually.

The self-evident thesis of respected political scientists Mann and Ornstein that Republicans have become singularly extreme over the last few decades has been met with stunning silence by centrist press institutions. Meanwhile, five-alarm fire issues like climate change and record inequality receive little attention because they’re not ones on which Tip-n-Ronnie style bipartisanship in a lunch meeting hammered out by McCain, Hagel and Lieberman will save the day.

Obama pursues a can-do approach
Mild-mannered EJ Dionne Jr. says "go for it."

In truth, he is paying close attention to the feelings of a very important group of voters — the tens of millions who supported him two years ago but were so dispirited that they stayed away from the polls on Nov. 4. They are hoping Obama will show them that political engagement is worth the effort. Republicans did a brilliant job in the campaign playing on the idea that Obama is weak, passive and without a game plan. That was the not-so-hidden meaning of all their television ads about the Islamic State, Ebola and immigration. So Obama has made clear that he won’t be weak and passive and that he has a game plan.

How Republicans Co-Opted Populism
Again, if Democrats don't take a Warrenesque approach to economics and government benefits, Republicans will. You saw hints of it in the campaign. Get in front of this, now.

A common attack was a 2010 throwback: Obamacare cut your Medicare... Less bogus but still hypocritical were the Social Security attacks done by the National Republican Congressional Committee on Democrats who had expressed support for the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan... Republicans, who supposedly hate class warfare, were also not above excoriating Democrats simply because of their personal wealth.

Still reeling, Democrats debate big-money strategy
Rarely is it asked, "Are our Dem operatives learning?" You can look at this list of takeaways from the election and go "Duh!" I would quibble on the "lost causes" category - you must compete everywhere. To ignore a top race is to ignore everything connected, i.e., bottom of the ticket, to that race. (I would point to MI-03 as a great example. A better challenge to Amash, maybe we don't lose our progressive mayor.) Even nominal amounts will force Rs to respond, and divert their focus/resources.

Top operatives said that many Democrats decided at the start of this past cycle to avoid a national economic message because voters weren’t necessarily feeling the positive effects of the country’s recovery from the Great Recession. In hindsight, however, many believe outside groups and campaigns should have emphasized the difference between Democratic and Republican economic policies.

One of the problems of '14: The targeting was too targeted. Every ad featured older white people and their issues. Became obvious after awhile, and neglected the rest of the electorate. If you needed non or casual voters to turn out, why didn't you address them?

Why Hillary 2016 Thinks She Can Expand Obama's Electoral Map
All of the above may not matter. For all the hand-wringing about Dems losing white folk, we forget why the term "Bubba vote" was coined in the first place.

Clinton has a record of appealing to white working-class voters -- especially women -- and they could be enough when paired with the Obama coalition to pull out a win.

Take nothing for granted.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Shallow Waters Ahead


This is the White Shoal Fresnel lens that sat 20 miles to the west of the Straits of Mackinac for 75 years. Replaced in 1983 with better technology.

Just some stuff while I mess around.

Keystone Left Behind as Canadian Oil Pours Into U.S.
Stopping Keystone would be a great symbolic victory, but keep in mind the oil is coming regardless.

Canadian exports to the Gulf rose 83 percent in the past four years... While Keystone was delayed, other projects increased the flow of crude south. Average U.S. imports of Canadian crude rose to a record 3 million barrels a day in August, a 48 percent increase from five years earlier... “Keystone is kind of old news,” Sandy Fielden, director of energy analytics at Austin, Texas-based consulting company RBN Energy, said Nov. 12 in an e-mail. “Producers have moved on and are looking for new capacity from other pipelines.”

Ryan Budget Debate Takes New Turn After Republican Takeover
They will pass the Ryan budget now. Vouchers for Seniors! will play nicely in 2016, dontyathink?

It advocated about $5 trillion in federal spending cuts over a decade by revamping and constraining the growth of Medicare, and cutting healthcare, food stamps, education and farm spending.... Domestic programs would have been reduced by $791 billion from fiscal 2016 to 2024, while defense spending would be $483 billion more than envisioned under current law.

Obama: ‘No Reason’ for Government Shutdown on Immigration
Partial government shutdown? What would it look like if just DHS was taken offline? And here's to hoping that the President does this sooner rather than later, and that he shoves it so far down their throats that they will have to move it out of their way to tie their shoes. Times up. No more playing around.

Under the option, Congress could block funding for agencies involved in immigration, such as the Department of Homeland Security, so that a presidential veto would lead to a shutdown of only the agencies covered in the bill. The tactic means the final decision about immigration spending in the current fiscal year would fall to the next Congress, with Republicans in control of both chambers.

New Senators Tilt G.O.P. Back Toward Insiders
The Tea Party is now the Establishment. The press still has trouble seeing it. Republicans will strike while they have the chance.

They are a counterintuitive fit with the anti-government, anti-establishment fervor that has energized the Republican Party of late. And their victories seem hard to reconcile with the strong hostility toward government institutions that dominated the recent midterm elections.... But the appeal of the citizen legislator has faded, and voters in this year’s midterm elections sometimes showed little inclination to return political amateurs to office... “The American public is no longer giving people time to turn the ship around. They’re wanting it done in two years. So in two years if we don’t perform, the same kind of wave election is coming back in 2016 except in the opposite direction.”

How the G.O.P. Can Court the Working Class
If Democrats don't spout a Warrenesque rhetoric on the economy, the Republicans will.

Democrats handily won voters with family incomes below $50,000 in this year’s midterm elections, and Republicans handily won those with incomes above $100,000... A new Republican economic approach could still revolve around cutting taxes, but the cuts would no longer be focused on the affluent... But it would be a mistake to dismiss the intra-Republican debate as mere theater. Yes, government programs tend to help middle- and low-income families more than the rich. On the other hand, many government programs don’t work as well as they were meant to. There is certainly a coherent argument for letting the middle class and poor keep more of their income, rather than paying for inefficient government programs.

Hillary Clinton's 'Confrontational' Side Illustrated in New Transcripts
"Hillary was mean!" To which some of us would say, "Oh thank God." Given the performance on messaging from the current WH, asses do need to be kicked. Afterthought: Would a man get this kind of headline? Get #ReadyForDoublestandard

Panetta: There’s no question that she was smart, she was dedicated, she understood the issue and people were a little intimidated by her. There were several meetings where she basically walked in and let everybody have it, very different from what the president would do. If she thought something was going wrong, she’d say it. She was much more confrontational in that sense.

Off to walk in the snow.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Don't Swerve


Not the best of shots as the sun caused a dash reflection through the windshield, but I couldn't resist showing that I finally caught a deer by one of the deer signs.

Slowed to a stop. No one behind me. Waited. Deer looked at me. Grabbed camera, took a couple shots. Deer looked at me. Was about to start moving forward, when the deer decided that was the time to run in front of my car to cross the road. Because that's what they do.

MDOT has tried again this year to run a "Don't Swerve" campaign, but it's hard to fight reflex when something big comes into your peripheral vision fast. Good luck on making that split decision to "just hit" whatever it is. If you see one ahead of you on the side of the road though, start slowing down and hope they turn back the other way...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Stamping the Ore


The remains of the Ahmeek Mill in Tamarack City, Michigan. That is a Nordberg Compound Steam Stamp, one of eight at the mill that processed 7,000 tons of ore a day. One other exists in Colorado, the rest were sold for scrap.

Lots of noise out there today. My computer doesn't want me to process it (like that stamp, ha) because Flash keeps crashing Chrome. So, off to try and fix that. In the meantime, the following is all you need to know...

*This. Just, this.

Warren said that she and Reid began discussing the position in the last week or so, and that she wanted the position so that she could be in the weekly leadership meetings where decisions on the agenda are made. "This is a seat at the table. ... I plan to use it to make sure that people around this country have a real hearing," she said. "I want a chance to be at the table when the Democratic leadership is making decisions. It gives me a better chance to fight for what I believe in."

Ladies and gentlemen, the concerns of regular people finally have a seat at the Gilded Senate table. I believe you're going to like what you see. One thing is for sure, the media will be on her as much as they are on Reid - and I think he knows to let her take the lead on articulating policy to the masses.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where the Deer Are


... I'm not telling.

Shaking off the rust.


* Of course the Ryan Budget is back. Did you expect anything different?

* Elizabeth Warren in Senate leadership. Fall to my knees weeping with joy moment. I want this woman moving legislation, not out on the campaign trail. You going to leave the Senate in the hands of Dick Durbin? Stop raiding the talent.

* The Gruber affair. God who cares. Despite the whirling of the rightwing poutrage machine, it's really just business as usual.

* Climate as a 2016 campaign issue. Coral Davenport, NYT has a good look. So does Greg Sargent. The spin will be different by then, but the problem will surely remain.

* Rumors of a Keystone veto. Good. Keystone is but a symptom of the overall climate problem, but it's nice when the President puts his money where his mouth is. One overlooked problem though: They're going to put that crap on trains that might roll through your hometown. Bad things happen when they blow up. Be careful what you wish for.

* Once again, the DOE green company loans (i.e. Solyndra) made the taxpayers a profit. This was ignored the first time it was pointed out, I don't expect parades with the release of new numbers. But one can dream.

Good Reads:

Mike Grunwald, on the US-China climate agreement. It's not that they wanta, it's that they hafta:

It’s because the economics of coal keep getting worse. The costs of pollution controls are getting higher, and cleaner alternatives are getting much cheaper. Solar prices have dropped 80 percent in six years. Even fossil-friendly Republican states like Oklahoma and Georgia have been swapping out coal plants for wind and solar plants—not to reduce emissions, but to save money.

The costs of renewables are reaching parity now, and will continue to grow cheaper - especially if China goes on a green binge to clear the air.

E.J. Dionne Jr., on the impending SCOTUS Obamacare follies. The punch is in the last paragraph. Not the first time I've seen this sentiment, and the implications are very scary indeed.

Here’s a hypothetical for you: First, the Supreme Court issues a ruling that installs a conservative president. Then, he appoints two conservative Supreme Court justices who then join with three of their colleagues to make mincemeat of the greatest achievement of a progressive president elected by a clear majority. If such a thing happened in any other country, would we still call it a democratic republic?

Here's another from Linda Greenhouse at NYT. "Politicians in robes." Got everyone's attention this morning.

Jonathan Cohn points out that Obama is having a great week, what with the Ebola-free America and climate progress and all. Gallup sees it, someone tell the Villagers, hmmmmkay?

Josh Barro goes to More Tax Cuts! Kansas. The race to the bottom continues, as revenue shortfalls brought on by massive tax cuts threaten, well, every public service imaginable. But they voted for it, so... what can you do except stand back and watch?

Ed Kilgore addresses the pundit CW myths that have popped up after the Dempocalypse last week. Moral of the story, as always, don't believe the spin. The truth is a lot more complex than the clickbait.

Bob Reich says Hillary need to get on the populist wave. I think she knows that. But good piece regardless.

Joan Walsh on the Landrieu gambit reveals a bigger problem (or, the biggest problem, really): Democrats chasing votes they'll never get, and turning off your real supporters as a result. There is a reason people don't bother to turn out at midterms, and you're looking at it.

Life in My Red State (yes, Michigan is a red state at the state level, as the Rise of the Meekhof is going to prove in very short order):

* "Religious Freedom" will be paired with any attempt to give the LGB (but not T!) community equal rights, so it looks like we might just pass on it for now. House Dems put their foot down, much applause for that.

* The feds may have to step in again eventually when it comes to our Legislature's bigotry towards LGBT. Sad that it takes so long.

* The NRA is the first "sponsor" to cash in during Lame Duck 2014.

* Aramark is still a problem, but I doubt you'll see the issue raised by pols. The Comcast of food service, they donate to Dems too, probably the reason why outside groups had to make it an issue in the election. Anyhoo, we still have protests over the food and now reports of moonshine being made from supplies in the Aramark kitchens.

* Next up: A huge tax increase to fix the roads. D's, do not be surprised if (when) R's use it against you in the next election. Kinda the way things work around here, but you should know that by now.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Moon Wide


Beautiful morning. And Happy Father's Day. This is the gift I tried to share with my Dad, telling him to get out and look before the moon slipped below the horizon for another day...

Nothing like Michigan in the summer. Enjoy.