Monday, April 30, 2012

Catnip 4/30/12


Hanging out on the Embarcadero.

Here now the news...

Meet the most dangerous man in America: Paul Ryan. Both the New York Times and Jonathan Chait's extensive article at New York Magazine take a good look at who really runs the agenda for the Republican Party The quote from Grover Norquist says it all: "Grover Norquist, the Republican strategist who heads Americans for Tax Reform, said in an interview that he did not expect Mr. Romney to lead as president. He just wants him to sign the bills that put Mr. Ryan’s vision into practice." A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for Tea Party extremism, because these people have no intention of letting him do anything else.

"Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem." The must-read editorial of the year. "We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party." Weeping tears of joy that someone finally is telling it like it is.

Who are you, and what have you done with the United States Senate? From Roll Call: "While President Barack Obama has railed on the trail against a “do-nothing” Congress and House Republicans have struggled to unite around major legislation, the Senate has recently passed sweeping bills on a bipartisan basis. From a two-year transportation bill to U.S. Postal Service reform to the Violence Against Women Act, the Senate has flipped convention on its head by becoming the chamber that works."

Austerity in the states has hurt the recovery. Duh.

Krugman, on college education and the future of America: "What should we do to help America’s young? Basically, the opposite of what Mr. Romney and his friends want. We should be expanding student aid, not slashing it. And we should reverse the de facto austerity policies that are holding back the U.S. economy — the unprecedented cutbacks at the state and local level, which have been hitting education especially hard."

Stephen King lets it rip in The Daily Beast on taxes and the rich: "Tough shit for you guys, because I’m not tired of talking about it. I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them? The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing “Disco Inferno” than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar."

Obama’s energy team is on the march: "President Obama's top energy and environmental officials are casting their work as a core piece of White House efforts to boost the economy while using rough-and-tumble language to parry Republican attacks. Four speeches over four days by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s signal a political all-hands-on-deck approach to defending the White House’s economic record ahead of the 2012 elections."

That's all for now, gotta run, run, run...

Unite Against the War on Women - Sacramento

Capitol? Protest? Lots of great signs? How could I resist?

Sacramento is only a little over and hour and a half away, so on Saturday I decided to drag my sickly butt up there and do what I do - take lots of pictures of people yelling at the government. Big fun. I'm guesstimating there were about 300 people there, pretty fired up and creative crowd. Listened to a few speeches, sang a few songs (I still can't get Helen Reddy out of my head) and off we marched and chanted down the streets of the beautiful capitol of Cal-lee-forn-i-a to a little park where there were more speeches and music and food and what not. Good time. is a new organization born from the Republican attack against women's health care and reproductive rights of the last few years. This was their first nationwide action, expect more to come as this election year wears on. I'm guessing the numbers are going to continue to grow...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Yosemite Range of Light

Yosemite Range of Light from Shawn Reeder on Vimeo.

Sorry no post, haven't been feeling well - but I just had to share this one. Be sure and hit full-screen HD. Read about the project here. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thank You Brandon


Gonna miss this guy. Through all the ups and downs, he never quit on himself or the team. A true gamer, and he'll always be a Tiger to me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Catnip 4/25/12


Because nothing says "welcome to the ball game" like razor wire.

Oakland. Not for wusses.

Here now the news:

This. Must Read. With a capital "R". About Romney's "victory" speech: "In an ideal world, all of this would be a part of the political conversation in an election year. As the standard-bearer for the Republican Party, Mitt Romney would have to answer a few questions: Is it not true that Obama has spent his term cleaning up the wreckage of the last Republican president? Why shouldn’t we hold the GOP responsible for the gridlock of the past three years? How do you intend to fix the economy, if you are touting the same policies as your Republican predecessor?

Of course, none of this will be asked. As he did in this speech, Romney will be allowed to campaign as if the past never happened, and the Republican Party didn’t have a part in producing the current circumstances. His campaign will run on clichés, and angrily swat back at anyone who questions his refusal to acknowledge the people—his fellow Republicans—who created this mess in the first place."

Romney's speech as a wordcloud: Hat tip to BuzzFeed.

Ezra's review: "Romney never makes the turn to how he would achieve this America. Believing in it is apparently enough. The end result isn't so much a preview of how Romney would govern the country as a game of "I Spy: America the Beautiful" edition. I'm not a pollster. I don't know if the American people want to hear about policy. Perhaps they prefer gauzy generalities. Perhaps they're more interested in what candidates think of America than what they want to do for America. But if this is what the general election is going to be like, then it's not going to be a clash of visions. It's going to be a clash of adjectives. And in that case, it really will be the economy, stupid, as the American people will have nothing in particular to vote for." Romney formula: Take the words "freedom" and "America", and say them often. Apparently it polls well.

House Republicans are backing away from the draconian Ryan budget. Don't let them get away with it. They already voted for it. It's on record and everything.

Andrew Kaczynski at BuzzFeed kindly digs up this article from 2007 that shows Mitt Romney loved him some taxes back with he was governor of Massachusetts. Thing is, he raised them for the poor and disabled in the form of fines and fee increases. Massachusetts "led the nation during Romney's first year, raising fees and fines by $501 million." IOKIYAR.

Woe to those in the swing states, for the ad wars are coming for you. Yesterday it was Crossroads targeting Senate races with a million dollar buy, today it's a million from President Obama's SuperPac and the League of Conservation Voters targeting Colorado and Nevada on Romney's cozy relationship with Big Oil.

When Karl Rove warns that you've gone "over the top" with accusations made for political purposes (re: Secret Service, GSA), you know you have a problem.

Speaking of "over the top", Boehner indicates that if Obama is re-elected, it's the end for America. Sargent: "This is really crazy stuff, but such lurid invocations of impending Big Government Apocalpyse have become par for the course among today’s Republican leaders. Paul Ryan, who has become the intellectual leader of the party on fiscal matters, claims we are approaching a ”tipping point beyond which the nation will be unable to change course.” Government. It's the new "terrorist" or "gay marriage", as the Republicans only know how to sell and/or inspire fear. All you know is you're supposed to be afraid. (See: Romney attacks on Obama, victory speech)

Harry Reid draws a line on Keystone. We will see if it sticks.

This is bad: "Durable goods orders tumbled 4.2 percent (in March), the largest decline since January 2009, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday after a downwardly revised 1.9 percent increase in February." Durable goods are basically a leading indicator/overall measure of economic growth.

President Obama is hitting the media circuit. Besides the Fallon appearance last night, there will be a cover of the Rolling Stone story, and Greg Sargent points out a L.A. Times as well as a National Journal article today. Get ready to get re-acquainted with the President's personal story over the next few months. He's a nice guy.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Catnip 4/24/12


SF City Hall. Amazing gilded building. Huge. Want to catch it at sunrise someday (it faces east) so I can capture the shiny gold. 1000 px here.

A bit of news:

Primary day! But no one is paying all that much attention. "New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Connecticut will each hold contests, with a total of 231 delegates at stake." ABC has their usual great run-down here. Only question is: Will Newt quit after tonight?

Remember how Rick Snyder (and many other Republican candidates) refused to offer details on their plans for governance as they were campaigning in 2010? Mitt Romney does. "The tactic is, of course, by design for a candidate eager to make the general election a referendum on Obama's first term. The less voters know about Romney, the more they may focus on Obama. By avoiding difficult policy decisions, Romney gives his opponents less fuel for political attacks." And then you get to be really pissed off when they get in office and cut taxes for the wealthy while they steal from your community. it's going to be harder to pull that vagueness off in a national general election though - see health care plan from yesterday - so we will see what he can get away with as time goes on.

Why you gonna lose the House, Orange Man? I thought the 'Murican Peepul were behind all your policies 100%, as you are fond of telling us. Or, are you just trying to scare up more moola from the rabble? It has to be one or the other. I'm guessing the latter.

While Boehner cries the crocodile tears for his unpopular House, conservative groups are spending up to $100 million to take the Senate. "Already, they have committed at least $17 million to television commercials in more than a dozen states from Florida to Hawaii, in most cases dwarfing what their Democratic opponents have spent. Their plans call for an effort that will exceed $100 million by Election Day, strategists for these groups said, far surpassing their efforts in 2010, a high-water mark for outside money in politics." Pretty sure the "high water mark" is going to get passed in every single category this year. (Update: Rove's Crossroads SuperPac is launching a $1.2 million blitz in key Senate races today.)

Gas prices. Dropping. Three straight weeks now. If the President gets the blame for high gas prices, shouldn't he get credit for the fall? No? Didn't think so.

The House will push ahead for "Drill, Baby, Drill" on federal lands anyway this week. Or, as it's know by its real name, "Lease, Baby, Lease"; land and water opened so oil companies can increase their bottom line by acquiring these options and selling on the market. Remember, they don't want to do the physical work of exploration and drilling (that costs money!) - this is about holding paper and declaring profit so the stock holders are pleased.

Social Security, in peril once again. Don't we go through this doom and gloom scare every other year or so?

"RNC Spokeswoman: Republican Economic Platform Will Be The Bush Program, ‘Just Updated’." I really can't add anything to that...

ALEC and Grover Norquist are now working to repeal RPS standards in the states. As you may or may not know, 29 states plus Washington DC require a certain percentage of their energy to come from renewable/clean sources - and those standards have been a big job creator, as well as and incentive that helps us to reduce fossil fuel use. The Koch brothers can't have that, now, can they?

Chuck Grassley watches too many Bond movies.

Short one today - have to mess with my desktop computer now. Have a great day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Catnip 4/23/12


My Dad, paraphrasing: "You can't go to California, you'll never come back. You'll discover it's Narnia." Or something like that. Well, if there is a Narnia in San Francisco, it's Buena Vista Park. The city's oldest public park, it's a mountain with shady paths and monstrous trees and spectacular views of the city. Takes your breath away in more ways than one. I will grant you that I was there on a beautiful, sunny, hot day - and rumor has it the fog is an issue a lot of the time - but, wow. Just wow. I didn't want to leave.

Above is one view that features the Bay and the mountains beyond, and this one doesn't even contain any famous landmarks like the Golden Gate. Stunning. Check out 1000 px.

Here now the news:

That liberal media: "Obama did not have a single week of coverage that was more positive than negative. The negative coverage was driven by several factors, including the sustained attacks against him by the Republican field, a rise in gas prices, the uncertain pace of economic recovery and the Supreme Court challenge to his health care law," says a study of election coverage from the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism. The report also finds that the news treated Romney as the de facto nominee after the Michigan primary: "After Michigan, the report said, "news coverage of (Romney's) candidacy became measurably more favorable and the portrayal of his rivals -- particularly Rick Santorum -- began to be more negative and to shrink in volume."

FOX fabricates an Obama quote? And the media repeats it over and over again? Get out! "The “silver spoon” comment in the context of the speech seemed to be a swipe against Romney, whose father George Romney was the top executive of a major car company and a former governor of Michigan. But the President was able to maintain plausible deniability until Steve Doocy of Fox News came along. While interviewing Romney on live TV Thursday, Doocy quoted Obama as saying, “Unlike some people, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.” But Obama never prefaced his statement with the words “unlike some people,” as evident in the video of the speech (9:22 minute mark). The words do not appear in the official transcript either. Regardless, the unspoken words were imputed to Obama in a Washington Post article, a New York Post editorial and conservative blogs after Doocy’s segment."

E.J. Dionne Jr.: "We are about to have the worst presidential campaign money can buy. The Supreme Court’s dreadful Citizens United decision and a somnolent Federal Election Commission will allow hundreds of millions of dollars from a small number of very wealthy people and interests to inundate our airwaves with often vicious advertisements for which no candidate will be accountable." New York state's innovative attempt at campaign finance reform may hold the answer. Go read.

Who is buying the Republican Party? We may never know. Three stories today point to the dark money, and Romney's failure to disclose. From Bloomberg, some fundraising numbers from the SuperPacs: "As they did in 2010, Republican super-political action committees and groups organized as tax-exempt public policy organizations are out-raising the Democrats with the help of multi-million dollar donations from wealthy individuals and corporations." And a hat tip to Greg Sargent for the next two - Taegan Goddard, from USA Today: “More than $8 out of every $10 collected during the first three months of this year by two conservative groups associated with Republican strategist Karl Rove, for instance, went to a non-profit branch that does not have to reveal its donors.” And this, from Jae C. Hong at the WaPo: "MITT ROMNEY’S contemptuous attitude toward the importance of public disclosure is increasingly troubling. Whether it involves the details of his personal finances or the identity of his big fundraisers, the presumptive Republican is setting a new, low bar for transparency — one that does not augur well for how the Romney White House would conduct itself if he were elected."

Romney's amnesia campaign, and how Republican obstruction works. Krugman: "Which brings me to another aspect of the amnesia campaign: Mr. Romney wants you to attribute all of the shortfalls in economic policy since 2009 (and some that happened in 2008) to the man in the White House, and forget both the role of Republican-controlled state governments and the fact that Mr. Obama has faced scorched-earth political opposition since his first day in office. Basically, the G.O.P. has blocked the administration’s efforts to the maximum extent possible, then turned around and blamed the administration for not doing enough." I have seen that movie before. It doesn't end well for the Democrats, but the recovering economy may save them from the same fate as 2010.

Robert Draper has written a book about the obstructionist freshman class of Republicans in the 112th House, and comes to this conclusion: "The book, which will be released Tuesday, shows just how much energy had to be expended on the 87 freshmen who took their oath in January 2011, many of them holding office for the first time. Accounting for nearly 40 percent of Boehner’s conference, the freshmen exercised their clout early and often, imposing their will on the rest of the House Republicans...Many freshmen viewed GOP leaders warily from the outset and compelled Boehner’s team to make the rookies the constant focus of its attention. 'I didn’t come to Washington to be part of a team,” Rep. Raúl R. Labrador (R-Idaho) told the book’s author.'" Obviously.

All the obstruction has led to this - Obama and the executive order: "But increasingly in recent months, the administration has been seeking ways to act without Congress. Branding its unilateral efforts “We Can’t Wait,” a slogan that aides said Mr. Obama coined at that strategy meeting, the White House has rolled out dozens of new policies — on creating jobs for veterans, preventing drug shortages, raising fuel economy standards, curbing domestic violence and more. Each time, Mr. Obama has emphasized the fact that he is bypassing lawmakers." Good for him. And us.

Time to take a look at the Romney-Ryan radical "You're On Your Own" health care plan for America. From the LA Times: "The centerpiece of Romney's plan would overhaul the way most Americans get their health coverage: at work. He would do so by giving Americans a tax break to buy their own health plans. That would give consumers more choices, but also more risk. Critics and independent analysts say the impact would probably leave a larger number of Americans without insurance...Romney would make a parallel change in Medicare — giving seniors the ability to shop for their own health plans with vouchers rather than use the existing government-run program. That proposal, which resembles a budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), would represent the biggest change to the federal entitlement program since its creation in 1965....the shift could force seniors to pay thousands of dollars more for their care, according to analyses of similar proposals by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The third leg of Romney's plan would convert the Medicaid program for poor and disabled Americans into a series of block grants to states." Can't afford to buy insurance and then wait for a "tax credit"? Too bad for you.

That's it for now... but that's enough, isn't it?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Message

This is a good one. Listen.

Here's the stats on what Republican leadership in the House has done in the 112th's first session, "The Most Anti-Environment House in the History of Congress", courtesy on the House Democrats Committee on Energy & Commerce:

In the first session, the House Republicans voted 191 times to weaken environmental protections.

The House of Representatives averaged more than one anti-environmental vote for every day the House was in session in 2011. More than one in five of the legislative roll call votes taken in 2011 – 22% – were votes to undermine environmental protections.

On average, 228 Republican members of the House – 94% of the Republican members – voted for the anti-environment position during these roll call votes. On average, 164 Democratic members of the House – 86% of the Democratic members – voted for the pro-environment position.

The anti-environment votes cut across a broad array of issues and included 27 votes to block action to address climate change, 77 votes to undermine Clean Air Act protections, 28 votes to undermine Clean Water Act protections, and 47 votes to weaken protection of public land and coastal waters. The Environmental Protection Agency was the target of 114 of these votes; the Department of the Interior was the target of 35 of these votes; and the Department of Energy was the target of 31 of these votes.

The full report is available here.

The choice really is simple. You can vote for the people who want to pollute and rape the planet of all our natural resources, or you can vote for the party that wants to move in a direction that puts us on the path to renewable energy and sustainability.

When it comes to climate change, there is a part of me that thinks it's too late already - the only thing we can do now is try to mitigate some of the damage and start to prepare for the aftermath of what has already been done.

Enjoy today, wherever you are.

Update: Thanks to Paddy at the Political Carnival for the cross-post. More eyeballs = good thing!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Catnip 4/20/12


I don't think the A's were thinking about renewable energy jobs when they created this slogan, but for me, it was like a sign (ha!) that this is the Bay area team I must adopt. Besides, I live in Oakland, I'm ten minutes by train from the stadium, and the tickets are a lot cheaper and easier to get than the Giants. So, let's go A's. The Coliseum may be a 60s era concrete montrosity, but it's got a great view of the hills from the upper deck and it's not a bad place to see a ball game. I look forward to spending time there this summer...

Some environmental links for Earth Day:

ICYMI, all the major environmental groups endorsed President Obama on Wednesday. The Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action and Environment America are on-board for the President's re-election, and with good reason: "League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski described the presidential election as 'a clear choice between someone who’s going to be a champion and someone who’s best buddies with Big Oil and climate deniers.'" While it's no surprise that environmentalists would get behind the President, this is the first time the groups have endorsed in concert.

Word this morning is that Democrats are now pressuring President Obama to relent on the Keystone Pipeline project. "With gas prices sticking near $4 a gallon, unemployment high in many states and demonstrable support for the project in numerous polls, many Democrats — especially those from states where pipelines are commonplace — are beginning to sound almost indistinguishable from Speaker John A. Boehner, who called Mr. Obama 'increasingly isolated' in his opposition to expanding the project." Other Keystone news: TransCanada suggested an alternate route through environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska this week.

Problem with the Republican talking points on Keystone: A report from The Nation shows the pipeline will not create the number of jobs the GOP likes to claim, and it will do nothing to lower gas prices - it may even increase them.

Mother Jones takes a look at the money that dirty energy is spending to influence this election season, and it's scary. $16.75 million so far this year has bought them "5 out of 7 general election commercials airing in key swing states" are concerning energy., and usually those ads are very misleading. (see: Keystone, above)

A new report shows that Americans are starting to link weather extremes to climate change. The study was conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, and found that "a solid majority of the public feels that global warming is real, a result consistent with other polls that have asked the question in various ways. When invited to agree or disagree with the statement, “global warming is affecting the weather in the United States,” 69 percent of respondents in the new poll said they agreed, while 30 percent disagreed." Another important stat to note: 35 percent of the public reported being affected by extreme weather in the past year.

The EPA lays down the law on fracking: "The regulations — which would also target emissions from compressors, oil storage tanks and other oil-and-gas sector equipment — would cut 95 percent of smog-forming and toxic emissions from wells developed with fracking, the EPA said."

Hybrid and electric cars saw record sales in March, as consumers looked for relief from the gas pump and new models caught the buyer's eye. "Consumers bought a record 52,000 gas-electric hybrids and all-electric cars in March, up from 34,000 during the same month last year. The two categories combined made up 3.64 percent of total U.S. sales, their highest monthly market share ever, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank." The new Toyota Prius models are doing well, as are electrics from Nissan and GM. The Volt sold a record 2,289 in March, and sales of the Leaf doubled to 579.

Floating wind turbines in the Great Lakes? It's a possibility. Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center, Grand Valley State University, and blade manufacturer Energetx Composites are seeking federal funding for tests that would keep the turbines out of sight of land and take advantage of the stronger winds away from shore. A new project in Japan would bolt turbines to barges to put them out in the deep waters of the Pacific. While offshore technology is still expensive, countries like Great Britain and South Korea are leading the way on testing the turbines that will eventually make them economically feasible.

Today is the two-year anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf, and wouldn't you know it, all the little sea critters are coming up deformed or missing altogether. Nope, no problem here, drill baby drill, right?

Renewable energy now.

The beat goes on...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Catnip 4/19/12

RIP Greg Ham. I met him way back in 1982 at a concert in Charlevoix, Michigan. Great band, great show.

Here now the news:

Ezra absolutely nails the budget problem in Congress. Remember how we were talking about Bowles-Simpson? As you could probably guess, it went nowhere yesterday: "They don't want Senate Democrats to pass a budget. After all, they loathe everything Obama and the Democrats have even hinted at putting forward. They want Senate Democrats to offer a budget that they can attack. They want a budget process where they can force Senate Democrats to take embarrassing and uncomfortable votes. And then, ideally, they want that budget to fail, as that way, they can keep making fun of the Democrats for their inability to pass a budget." Back to my original statement on Friedman, Dems, repeat this until it sinks in - Republicans don't want to compromise with you.

Obama throws down the gauntlet on the budget deal, threatens veto and shutdown if the Republicans keep screwing around. This sets up a scenario for a huge battle with Congress right before the election. While people aren't paying attention now - remember this day.

Harold Meyerson takes a look at how we can grow the middle class again (hint: unions that can bargain for more money) and finds this statistic: "Today, the federal hourly minimum wage is $7.25, which annualizes to a munificent $15,080. Had the minimum wage increased in line with productivity since 1968, when the wage reached its highest level as a percentage of the median wage, it would be $21.72, by the calculations of John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. But since the 1970s, all additional income from productivity increases has gone to the nation’s wealthiest 10 percent, according to economists Robert Gordon and Ian Dew-Becker."

"Who is winning the clash of visions?" from Greg Sargent. Note these numbers: "The (NYT/CBS) poll also finds that 67 percent say the government should do more to help improve the situation of middle class Americans; 52 percent say government shold do more to improve the housing market; 57 percent think the wealthy pay less than their fair share in taxes; and that 51percent think capital gains should be taxed as ordinary income. People say they dislike government in the abstract, but when the talk turns to specifics, suddenly active government doesn’t look so bad."

So, they like the Obama/Dem prescription for what ails us, but then we find this, from ABC: "And in a fresh Quinnipiac University national poll released this morning, just 38 percent of American voters said they approve of the way the president is handling the economy. By a 47 to 43 percent margin, voters also see Mitt Romney as better on the economy than Obama. By an even larger — 44 to 31 percent margin — voters pick Romney as better on gas prices." And this, from the NYT: "A rising number of Americans see improvement in the economy, but a persistent wariness about their own financial circumstances is allowing Mitt Romney to persuade voters that he could improve their economic prospects more than President Obama." Something is not adding up when it comes to the "vision" thing. Why do Republicans have any credibility on the economy?

More on the Quinnipiac poll: Obama leads Romney by 4 pts., 46-42, but as you see above (and other places) it's going to be close. The GOP culls out the numbers on independents, and it's not pretty. Bottom line: "Indies disapprove of his job on the economy, 28%/67% for -39%. Indies don't think Obama deserves reelection by 37%/58% for -21%. Indies favor Romney, overall, by 7%." Snapshot in time, as my man Rick Albin would say.

All that leads to "The fight for 'the persuadables'", from Alex Burns and Maggie Haberman from Politico. In the end, the entire race is going to come down to some undecided guy named Joe currently living in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Better go find him quick.

The New Republic has a great story on the shotgun marriage of Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans. Like most shotgun marriages of convenience, it's doomed.

There's more, but I gotta catch a train. May add to this a little later in the day...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Catnip 4/18/2012

Here now the news:

Dead heat. New CBS/New York Times poll (two links in there) shows Obama and Romney tied at 46 each, more results will be released tonight during the CBS Evening News. Ever since that weird outlier they had, I've been suspicious of their numbers...

A new poll on Congress from United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection shows that Americans don't have a lot of faith in our elected representatives to get anything done. "Perhaps it’s not surprising, after a year in which Congress has been marked by eleventh-hour standoffs over everything from raising the debt ceiling to extending the payroll-tax cut, that the public would be so pessimistic about the ability of lawmakers to get much done. The decline of faith in institutions is a mainstay of modern life, but it’s hard to think of another institution that now garners such little confidence." The numbers aren't pretty.

Chris Cillizza of The Fix picks out another shocking poll number for Romney/Republicans, this time from Pew: "The number that really stands out is that among women between the ages of 18-29, Obama is beating Romney by 45 points. Yes, 45. While Obama is leading Romney among all 18-29 years old by 28 points (61 percent to 33 percent), the fact he is down by such a vast margin among young women has to set off red flags in Republican world."

Can't resist that third rail. From the NYT, here comes Bowles-Simpson from the Senate. It has absolutely no chance of passing, but we are going to talk about messing with Social Security anyway. That will make for some nice ads, right?: "Unlike the budget plan passed in the House, Mr. Conrad’s outline would not touch the president’s health care law, but it would phase out the employer tax deduction for health care and include additional health care cuts. It would lay down parameters to overhaul Social Security to slow its growth. And it would set out prescriptions for a simpler tax code that eliminates or reduces scores of tax deductions, taxes dividends and capital gains as ordinary income, and lowers individual and corporate tax rates. The goal would be to raise revenues by $2.6 trillion over 10 years, Mr. Sessions said, something he could not accept."

Wonkbook peaks behind the WSJ paywall to show us that the tide of the recovery doesn't seem to be lifting all boats at the same rate: "The Wall Street Journal reports that new numbers out of the Labor Department show that between the mid-2009 -- the technical end of the recession -- and the first quarter of 2012, workers in the top 10% of the income distribution saw their wages rise by 7% percent. Workers in the bottom 10% only saw their wages rise by 2.5%.... And that's just wages. Financial markets and corporate profits, which many of the richest Americans depend on for their wealth, have recovered far faster than the labor market or the housing sector. So if you're a middle-class American family that owns your home, your main asset likely hasn't recovered, and you may still be out of a job. If you're a wealthy investor, your portfolio has likely reached new heights, or come very near to it."

Here come the tax cuts! House Republicans will push the envelope, even as Politico questions their courage and unity. I'll take that bet.

Who is going to pay for more tax cuts? Your retirement account, that's who! While the Senate mulls Social Security, the House will go after the rest of your retirement money. "The painful trade-offs of tax reform came into sharper focus Tuesday as lawmakers for the first time began considering specific tax breaks to reduce or otherwise change, starting with laws that allow millions of Americans to avoid taxes while saving for retirement. Tax incentives for employer pensions, 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts and other savings programs rank among the largest breaks in the tax code, costing Washington more than $200 billion a year in lost revenue." Tax cuts for the wealthy is "economic freedom" for the "job creators", but tax breaks for you is "lost revenue". Understand how this works?

You can probably kiss HUD goodbye. Now that it's been identified and put in the spotlight, the sharks are considering just how they will start taking big chunks out of it.

High gas prices are lowering fuel consumption. "As prices have neared and in some cases topped $4 a gallon, drivers have cut their consumption of gasoline to its lowest levels in a decade, driving less and buying cars that are more fuel-efficient." Seems we have adjusted to $4 a gallon; the next freakout will probably be $5.

Steve Benen points to what he politely calls the GOP's "Sympathy Gap". "It's not just that conservative Republicans are indifferent to those who are struggling; the larger truth appears to be that these GOP policymakers seem to have disdain for these Americans, even during difficult economic times." Yup. Why else would they suggest taking food from hungry children? Who would do such a thing?

Not sure what it's going to take to make Tom Friedman and the centrist Democrats understand that the Republicans don't want to compromise with you. It's like watching some love-sick puppy swoon over the cheerleader that is never, ever going to give them the time of day. It's sad, and after a while it gets too painful to watch. And eventually it becomes the "enthusiasm gap." Lather, rinse, repeat. (Update: Ed Kilgore destroys Friedman in this piece. Wow, was that fun.)

Tip 'o the hat to Jamie Moyer, who at 49 became the oldest pitcher to win a game in the bigs. Seven innings, six hits, no earned runs, and the dude never broke 80 mph. Salute!

The Weight

For Levon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Catnip 4/17/2012

Tax day!: "According to a new poll from CNN/ORC, some 68 percent agree that "the current tax system benefits the rich and is unfair to ordinary workers," while just under three in 10 disagreed with that characterization."

Unpopular Mitt: New ABC/WaPo poll shows a very wide gap between Obama and Romney. A few choice stats: "Obama has a 29-point advantage in favorability over Romney among Americans with household incomes less than $50,000 a year, favorable views of Obama are 36 points higher than Romney's among adults younger than 40, Obama's favorable score is 9 points higher than Romney's among married adults – but this swells to a 37-point advantage among those who are not married." Wowza.

Polls, polls, polls: Nate Silver reminds us not to read too much into these early general election polls - and points to the trends we should be watching. Party pooper.

Team Romney is short a few endorsements as of this writing: John Boehner hasn't endorsed yet yet, the explanation from "House sources" is that he "has been leaning on his upcoming role as chairman of the Republican National Convention in August as the reasoning for his continued silence." Oooo-kay. (instant update - as soon as I published this, reports are that Boehner says he will support Romney). And Rick Santorum is staying mum for now as well. "'"We still have delegates, many of them committed, and we want to make sure that our delegates get a chance to go to the convention and have a say,' Santorum said." Herman Cain walked back his Gingrich endorsement in a radio interview, and then refused to comment to ABC News. Governor Perry said through a spokesperson that he would endorse the eventual nominee, but would stick with Gingrich as long as he is in the race. And last but certainly not sane, Michelle Bachmann said that she is "seriously looking into" endorsing Romney. Unity!

Republicans come for the hungry: From Wonkbook: "House Republicans think the Pentagon is in trouble. Under current law -- which includes the "sequester" that Democrats and Republicans agreed to in the debt-ceiling deal -- it's scheduled to take more than $500 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. Republicans are desperately trying to find alternative savings. And, on Monday, they named one of them: Cuts to food stamps. 'An average family of four would face an 11 percent cut in monthly benefits after Sept. 1 and, even more important, tighter enforcement of rules would require that households exhaust most of their liquid assets before qualifying for help," reports David Rogers. "This hits hardest among the long-term unemployed, who would be forced off the rolls until they have spent down their savings to less than $2,000 in many cases.'" Politico story on this here.

Republicans come for housing for the poor: You knew the second Romney said he would abolish HUD that some would be eager to do just that. Forbes: "There is no reason the federal government should be in this business. Unlike health care, there is nothing fundamentally unworkable about a private market in housing that requires heavy government regulation and subsidy. Withdrawing federal housing subsidies would force states and localities to cough up the money needed to offset their costly housing policies—or to relax housing regulations so that the market could drive home prices and rents down."

Republicans plan to spend a cool $1 billion dollars to defeat Obama: That would buy a lot of housing and food, don'tcha think?

Muddy up that water: From TPM: "Democrats warn of GOP war against women. Mitt Romney, and the rest of the GOP, say the real aggressors in that war are President Obama and the Democrats. Democrats insist that Republicans want to end Medicare as we know it. Camp Romney says President Obama’s health care law will end Medicare as we know it. Democrats say House GOP budget fails the fundamental test of fairness. House GOP budget guru Paul Ryan fires back, “The President’s budget is not just a failure of math, but it also fails the fundamental test of fairness.' All that’s missing are press releases that scream, “I know you are but what am I?!” Call it the Pee Wee Herman election." It's a great tactic to create confusion in those that aren't paying close attention.

Deem and pass: The House will consider the Ryan budget as passed as they work on specific spending targets from here on out. The budget cuts $5 trillion (with a t) more than President Obama's budget, and makes changes to Medicare. Among other things.

Making friends:Or, not. "Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) lashes out at his Senate colleagues in a new book published Tuesday, calling the upper chamber "heavily sedated" and suggesting that some 90 percent of senators should be fired." If you say so Tom.

The primary for Gabby Giffords seat is today - the general will be held June 12th. The winner will have to turn right around and run again in November.

Obama tackles gas prices: From the AP: "President Barack Obama wants Congress to strengthen federal supervision of oil markets, increase penalties for market manipulation and empower regulators to increase the amount of money energy traders are required to put behind their transactions." You hit the word "Congress" and your hope stops right there, but thanks for trying.

Richard Cohen picks up on the mendacity theme, and comes up with the line of the day: "Business is business. It’s what you do. It is not who you are. Lying isn’t a sin. It’s a business plan."

The DNC helps out with this new video:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thursday, April 05, 2012



The lights of AT&T Park. First week with the Giants fans around the neighborhood for the exhibition games with the A's. Going to be interesting when the season really gets underway....

Monday, April 02, 2012



Rough day for my adopted west coast town.

Say a prayer for all the victims of gun violence, for it happens every day, and it happens everywhere, and it's a shame that we seem to be so numb to it all.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Port Walkers


Lucas swears these weren't the inspiration for the Walkers... but you have to wonder.

1000 px here.



See a lot of this. It's almost as if something happened in 1906...