Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Heads Up

heads8150


Random picture from Art Prize.


Ferguson violence broke the mold in three ways — one of which is just unfolding now
Wes Lowery from the WaPo has been a part of Ferguson from August on; first getting arrested for being a journalist who didn't move fast enough, into covering the entire story. He and Marc Fisher take a look at what is unfolding now.

Finally, what distinguishes Ferguson from the crowded historical catalogue of racially-motivated street violence is what has happened in recent weeks: The unseemly buildup to the announcement of the grand jury’s conclusion that no crime was committed in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown has produced an expectation of ugliness. What occurred Monday night — and may continue in the days ahead — is rioting as planned event, so pervasively predicted, so extensively prepared for as to obscure the power and meaning of the protests.

As of this writing, I think he's (and Dylan Scott at TPM, echoing some of the same feeling) wrong about the power being obscured - the sheer size and number across the country has been astounding. Themes from the remnants of Occupy appear, messages about jobs and economic inequality are out there on signs and in interviews with protesters. Will Thanksgiving dampen the protests, or will it pick up again with WalMart strikers on Black Friday?

Sometimes I feel this is rolling into one big on-going movement with a message about power in America, which leads to this...


This Is What Power Looks Like
Rebecca Traister at the New Republic hits on an important underlying theme to the latest news stories - the powerful as victim. Gun-toting Police Officer Wilson, Wealthy Celebrity Cosby, the Revered Institution University of Virginia, have all managed to portray their victims as the problem. There's something to this that needs to be explored further.

They have offered us a clear and chilly view of how power works: How it is communicated to the public and how it is carefully manipulated by those who have it. How the powerful manage to play the victim and turn power into a slippery force that slides right off of them and briefly appears to stick to the very bodies that grievously lack it. This month’s stories have made this transfer of power obvious. Mighty figures and institutions have been described as vulnerable, while those they have harmed are made to seem monstrously huge and threatening.


Poll: Obama's immigration policy popular, but approach isn't
Boom. While people are somewhat uncomfortable with the executive approach, overall the approve of the policy and wish the GOP would stop being jerks about it. (Jon Chait has a very nice piece on how the R "obstruct everything" strategy fails on immigration)

Only 26% of Americans think Obama's plan for those immigrants goes too far, while 50% called it about right and 22% said it doesn't go far enough... when asked for their stance on Obama using an executive order to make those changes, just 41% said they favor the move, while 56% said they oppose it... 76% said the GOP should spend more time passing immigration reform legislation -- something Obama repeatedly prodded his Republican critics, especially in the House, to do -- while just 21% said the party should focus on overturning Obama's policies.


E.P.A. to Introduce Sweeping New Controls on Smog-Causing Ozone Emissions
Will always wonder if it might have been better to take all these actions before the election rather than after.

The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama’s administration.

Gina McCarty has a nice op-ed on the rule at CNN, National Journal has a detailed look and the coming Republican fight. Let the clean air begin.


Supreme Court to review EPA mercury emission rules
This case may have an effect on the rules above, not to mention other EPA mandates. One to watch.

The justices on Tuesday agreed to hear complaints from 21 states and industry groups that regulations first imposed in 2000 on coal- and oil-fired utilities are too expansive and expensive. It was the latest twist in an on-again, off-again effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to cut down on emissions that can pose a health threat, particularly to children and pregnant women who consume fish from polluted waters. The EPA first imposed regulations in 2000 under President Bill Clinton, reversed field in 2005 under President George W. Bush, and reversed itself again in 2012 under President Obama.


Obama Threatens To Veto Corporate Tax Cut Deal For Locking Out Middle Class
Apparently Harry Reid was going to sell us all out on the now-yearly "tax extenders" battle and the WH said "no." Cool beans. Read the link for details.

The administration quickly cried foul over providing billions of dollars in permanent corporate aid without including aid for the middle class. Both Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House press secretary Josh Earnest delivered clear rebukes of the talks on Monday. "An extender package that makes permanent expiring business provisions without addressing tax credits for working families is the wrong approach, at the expense of middle class families," said Lew in a press statement. "Any deal on tax extenders must ensure that the economic benefits are broadly shared."


Why congressional Republicans are losing the battle against themselves
Having the Republicans in the majority just might shine the spotlight on how fractious they really are. With the racist Tea Party now going full guns on immigration, the R "base" just might implode in a ball of unsatisfied rage and take the whole shebang down with 'em.

But it’s unlikely that they’ll be particularly effective at that last goal if they’re constantly looking within. Today we also learned that Jonathan Gruber will be testifying before the House, which I guarantee is something that will have lots of members excited. In some ways it’s the perfect microcosm of the GOP’s current status. Republicans will go in sure that they’re really going to stick it to Obama this time, do a lot of gavel-pounding, and find that they accomplished little but giving conservative media something to talk about for another day.

Check out my fav Charlie Pierce for more on this. You won't be sorry.


Congressional Oversight Doesn’t Have to Be a Benghazi-Style Joke
David Dayden shows how Carl Levin's Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations brought the big banksters to heel on consumer protections, derivatives, commodities, the list goes on, most of this stuff way too technical for mass media consumption. Carl called them out, let's hope Warren can fill the very big void when he leaves.

Carl Levin’s career includes plenty of legislative accomplishments. But these investigative accomplishments almost overshadow them. Politicians should not be judged merely by the laws they pass, but the difference they make. Late in his career, Levin showed that aggressive investigation and oversight can drive real policy improvements. Not only will he be sorely missed, but so will that spirit of following the evidence, questioning power and exposing the truth.


Chuck Schumer Is Trash Talking Obamacare Again—And He's Still Not Making Any Sense
Actually, Chuck's bungling of the message points to the biggest problem for Democrats overall - and that is, bungling the message. So, no more Schumer, please. Or, get him a better speechwriter. Beutler is right though (and so is Weigel); Schumer is indulging in a bit of rose-colored glasses revisionist history when he implies that economic stimulus measures could have been bigger. In the end, what could have been a gentle critique that pointed to a better future strategy turned into a bunch of headlines that implied more infighting in the party.

This is an appealing theory, but it's fantastical. The health care reform process didn’t begin in earnest until after the Recovery Act had already passed, at which point Congress' willingness and ability to pass another big deficit-financed stimulus bill had been maxed out. Maybe Schumer has other ideas in mind—labor rights? Housing policy? A different entitlement?—but he’s never laid out what the achievable alternative was, and how the middle-class and Democratic Party would've been better off as a result.


Nancy Pelosi gives 14 million reasons why Chuck Schumer is wrong
Nancy has a point that shouldn't be overlooked: The House passed a bigger economic stimulus and jobs bill, the Senate couldn't manage to boost the measures Chuck is now complaining about. But, keep in mind that the window was very small with the health of both Byrd and Kennedy creating absence, and the seating of Franken delayed. They didn't really have the time that people think they did.

They also took issue with the notion that the House, under Pelosi's speakership, wasn't focused on the economy after Obama was elected. An aide noted that the House passed a jobs bill the Democratic-led Senate did not take up, and the original version of the stimulus bill the House passed was larger than the final version the Senate approved.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Winter of Discontent

frosty8305_1867

This is from January 2010. Ran across it looking for something else. It caught my eye, so here it is.



Why Obama won’t give the Ferguson speech his supporters want
There are forces willing to exploit racial tensions for their own political gain. I don't really need to spell that out, do I? Some observers have cautiously breached the idea that we are in a new (or continuing) version of a Civil War; unfortunately. they are probably right.

If Obama's speeches often aren't as dramatic as they used to be, this is why: the White House believes a presidential speech on a politically charged topic is as likely to make things worse as to make things better. It is as likely to infuriate conservatives as it is to inspire liberals. And in a country riven by political and racial polarization, widening those divides can take hard problems and make them impossible problems.


Where the Ferguson Process Went Wrong, and What It Might Have Gotten Right
Ultimately this may work for the good. Sometimes horrific, glaring errors are the catalysts for change.

Wilson could still face federal prosecution for violating Brown’s civil rights (unlikely) or civil action for wrongful death (less unlikely). But, at this point, the most important product of this debate could be changes in Ferguson—to the police and to the political establishment and to the underlying socio-economic framework that has done so much to spread anger and disillusionment. Those changes wouldn’t bring Michael Brown back to life. But they’d suggest his death, whether or not the result of criminal action, wasn’t in vain.


After Ferguson, can the use of force by police be addressed?
Fits with the above.

Whether racially biased or otherwise, there's little information available about the use of force by police. The FBI reports on "justifiable" police homicides -- there were 410 in 2012 -- but does not report on unjustified homicides, or about nonlethal uses of force. Only a small fraction of the nation's police forces produce reports on misconduct. Simmons and others have said that collecting such data would be a strong first step toward improving police conduct and police relations with the communities they serve.


Where Was Republicans' Concern for "Political Norms" When They Took the Debt Ceiling Hostage?
Brian Beutler takes us down memory lane on all the times that Republicans had broken the norms when it came to getting what they want. Give it a read for a refresher on IOKIYAR. And oh wow, I had forgotten this one (Norm Ornstein didn't):

Two years ago, unilateral suspension of Obamacare requirements sat high on Mitt Romney’s 2012 agenda and Republicans loved it. They never considered it a threat to the right-size of the legislative branch, or worried that Mitt Romney was promising to exercise imperial powers. Romney didn’t win, and thus his plan to dismantle Obamacare from within the executive branch never came to pass.


Rand Paul Knows What Real ‘Executive Overreach’ Looks Like
* sigh * Rand has a point. We can't have these quasi-wars; Congress needs to weigh-in on the extended use of military force. We haven't formally declared war since WWII, although we've certainly been involved in many actions since.

In moving to force Congress to formally decide whether to declare war on the Islamic State militants that the US is already fighting, the senator from Kentucky is highlighting the failure of Republican congressional leaders (or, for the most part, their Democratic counterparts) to take seriously what should always be the most concerning example of executive overreach. This is the executive action that troubled the founders above all others: warmaking by presidents in the absence of a declaration of war by the Congress.


GOP leaders uniting around plan to avoid shutdown
All the barks, none the bites. Government funded through fiscal September, short-term on immigration enforcement. But some foolishness may still happen.

GOP aides and lawmakers say they expect the leadership to consider additional legislation to address the executive order, but there have been no decisions made on what those bills would look like. There are lots of ideas: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has signaled he would hold up some of Obama’s executive branch nominees, others privately have been musing about shutting the government down, refusing to invite the president to give his State of the Union address or censuring the president. Many in congressional leadership think these ideas are nonsensical, since it will not serve any practical purpose.


Republicans Shouldn't Take Midterms as a Mandate, Poll Suggests
Not so sure I trust "polls" after the misleading '14 fiasco, but maybe they are better at capturing public sentiment rather than who is actually going to get up off their ass and go vote for who they say they are. So, big caveats on polls of 500 people from NH - which this is. But it sure sounds about right.

That's the message from respondents in a Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm New Hampshire Poll, which shows 44 percent of likely general election voters say the 2014 midterm results do not provide a mandate for the Republicans to “carry out a new agenda.” Rather, the voters are split, with 46 percent saying President Barack Obama should give ground to get things done, while 44 percent say he should stop the GOP from going “too far.”


Terry McAuliffe is unhappy – with Democrats
In this interview with TMac, Politico's Alex Burns sums up the 2016 message quite nicely. So, thanks, I guess. It's just this simple:

McAuliffe, a close friend of Hillary and Bill Clinton, calls it an urgent, hair-on-fire priority for Democrats to learn how to tie together an assertive, socially liberal message with close-to-home concerns about opportunity and economic competitiveness.


Charles E. Schumer to Urge Democrats to ‘Embrace Government’
Not sure is spelling out Chuck's name like that was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek reference, but what the heck. He's got it right, but let's work on the language, mmmkay? The Reagan "Government is Bad" Disciples have a thirty year head start. This won't happen overnight, but it needs to happen.

“If people don’t believe government can deliver, they’ll follow the Republican path,” he will say. “That leaves the job to Democrats. If we run away from government, the negative misperceptions about it will take root, and even if people support our ideas, they won’t believe government can deliver. We must convince the middle class that the only way out of their morass is by embracing a strong and effective government, not demeaning it or running from it,” he will add.


Economy in U.S. Expands 3.9%, More Than Previously Forecast
As always, fine print. While things are slowly getting better, wages into wallets are still an issue.

Today’s report also included revisions to second-quarter personal income. Wages and salaries rose by $51.9 billion, revised down from an initially reported $102.5 billion gain. Preliminary data showed they climbed by $66 billion in the third quarter.


John McCain 'Strongly Encouraging' Lindsey Graham To Consider 2016 Run
No, seriously.

“I think there's an old saying that if you are a United States senator that unless you are under indictment, or detoxification that you can automatically consider yourself a candidate,” McCain joked. “I think we should let a thousand flowers bloom. I think that the process is wide open right now, and I think not only will members of the Senate be considered, but I think some of our successful Republican governors will also be interested.”

Monday, November 24, 2014

We Are Superior

superiorfalls9212

Standing in Michigan, the falls are in Wisconsin. I say we take 'em back.


All this happened before Hagel quit.


One Man Should Not Dictate Immigration Policy
The Imperial Speaker is the real problem here.

Still, his expansion of that authority makes me uneasy. After all, this is a case where poll after poll shows that large majorities of the country favor comprehensive immigration reform. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill over a year ago by a wide margin. And there's little question that the Senate bill has majority support in the House too. So not only is the will of Congress clear, but the president has also made it clear that he'd sign the bill if Congress passed it. The only thing stopping it is one man.

That should make us all a bit troubled. John Boehner may be acting legally. But is he acting properly?


With immigration action, Obama calls his opponents’ bluff
They are screwed, and they know it. That's why they scream so loudly. And that's why both McConnell and Boehner have seen double digit increases in their R unfavorables in one week.

Many of them claim they agree with the substance of what Obama did and also that Congress should pass a broader immigration bill. If this is true, then why should they spend all their energy trying to undo the constructive steps he has just taken? If they punt and simply join the rancid attacks on Obama as an “emperor” and a “monarch,” they will demonstrate for all to see that the GOP really is dominated by its right wing and that those of more measured views are simply too timid to take on their internal adversaries.


Blow: Bigger Than Immigration
Breaking! The President is a black guy. Therefore, GOP will tie him to "lawlessness" every chance they get. Because dog whistle.

This hostility and animosity toward this president is, in fact, larger than this president. This is about systems of power and the power of symbols. Particularly, it is about preserving traditional power and destroying emerging symbols that threaten that power. This president is simply the embodiment of the threat, as far as his detractors are concerned, whether they are willing or able to articulate it as such.


Immigration tests GOP governors considering 2016 bids
Two Words: Pete Wilson. You've been warned. California is not the whole world, but there is no path to 270 without big states that have growing Latino populations.

That decision presents potential GOP contenders with a complicated situation, in which they have to balance their outrage at Obama without diminishing their ability to preach to voters that they are above the Washington dysfunction. They also face the conundrum of trying to court the party's most conservative voters, while looking forward to the general election. Whoever is the GOP nominee will need to make huge strides with Latino voters for the Republican Party to win the White House.

The AP has another weasel roundup here.


A Deep 2016 Republican Presidential Field Reflects Party Divisions
The NYT takes a look at the fact that the Clown Car is nowhere big enough to hold all the clowns.

But the eventual choice for the nomination will not merely speak to philosophical direction. Republicans also confront a generational decision: They have several energetic governors and senators in their 40s and early 50s lining up to run. Yet there is also an older group of potential candidates, such as Mr. Bush and Mitt Romney, who could arrest the ambitions of the next generation of Republicans but whose experience could be appealing.


World locked into 'alarming' global warming: World Bank
Another study that backs up all the other studies, and history will not be kind to this generation when they realize that we knew it was happening and didn't do enough to mitigate it.

The report, which called on a large body of scientific evidence, found that global warming of close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial times – up from 0.8°C today – is already locked into Earth's atmospheric system by past and predicted greenhouse gas emissions. Such an increase could have potentially catastrophic consequences for mankind, causing the global sea level to rise more than 30 centimeters by 2100, droughts to become more severe and placing almost 90 percent of coral reefs at risk of extinction.


The Koch Brothers' Next Frontier
So far the attempts to roll back renewable energy standards in the states hasn't worked: Repubs are reluctant to pull the plug on local businesses that have created jobs in their districts. But, the Kochs' didn't get where they are by giving up. Look for more well-funded primary challenges to state legislators that support green energy. Michigan is one to watch next year as our energy bill from '08 is up for revision/renewal.

The coalition's only major success so far this year was in Ohio, where—with just a minimal advocacy push—a bill to freeze the state's mandate won passage. Koch-backed groups gave their blessing to the measure before it was signed into law in June. But AFP was absent from the lobbying effort that secured the legislation's passage, largely because the organization had chosen to focus its attention on Kansas and North Carolina, where it looked as if repeal had a better chance. Then, this spring, to the surprise of political onlookers in the state, Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy muscled a freeze bill through the Legislature.


Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels
Creates jobs, saves environment, cheaper than fossil. This is very important to note, don't you think?

The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas. Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant. Those prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show that even without those subsidies, alternative energies can often compete with traditional sources.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Home of the Bills

ford6576b

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

Care

care6502

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

keweenaw9043

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

monterey7917

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
Good.

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

quincy9094

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

shoals8405

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

deershield9347

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

ahmeek8868

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.

Watch.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where the Deer Are

deersare8657

... I'm not telling.

Shaking off the rust.

News:

* 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