Friday, August 31, 2012

Something Not Quite Right Here...


Somehow I doubt this was the combination of title and picture that the Romney campaign wanted to see today.


Set the campaign aside and marvel at the history captured in this photo. That man is minutes away from achieving the goal that had eluded his father - and I'd really love to know what he was thinking at that moment.

OK, moment is over... but this is a perfect example of why I love still photography.

EDIT to add: The caption above is from the Romney campaign, and my editor pointed out that it should be "Photo of HIM and his dad. Object of the the preposition 'of.'" Nothing I can do about that...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Catnip 8/27/12: But That Was Yesterday


The Ferry Building/Port of San Francisco on a glorious sunny Sunday summer afternoon. 1000 px here. May be the last chance I get to relax over the next couple of weeks - we will see how things go. Labor Day weekend is looking good for a little break - so far.

Just a few notes and then I gotta run...

My man Greg Sargent does a great job at ferreting out the pertinent stats in the new ABC/WaPo poll that finds the candidates tied among registered voters. Bottom line: Obama wins on sentiment, even on the economy, hands down. On the issues: Gay marriage and abortion, Obama 14pts, women's issues, Obama 16pts, more likeable, Obama 34pts, policies favor middle class, Obama 37pts, understands economic problems, Obama 7pts. So why aren't we winning this race in a walk? This suggests the persistent problem with Democratic messaging - always playing defense gets you nowhere. Pick up the pace, people.

Republicans are very fractured going into the convention, but you might not notice it. They have a way of pulling together and putting on that uniform face - but pay close attention to the last line in this paragraph: "There are evangelicals, Tea Party adherents, supply-siders who would accept no tax increases and a dwindling band of deficit hawks who might. There are economic libertarians who share little of the passion that social conservatives hold on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. There are neoconservatives who want a hard line against Iran and the Palestinians, and realists who are open to diplomatic deal-cutting. More than anything, the party is racked by the challenge to the establishment from Tea Party outsiders, who are demanding a purge of incumbents who play by a set of rules that many of these Republicans reject." Good article, go read.

Chris Matthews goes ballistic on Priebus and the Republicans for playing the race card. Jonathan Chait points out that is exactly what they are doing, and this is "the last time anyone will try to do this." Romney has to win a vast majority of the white vote to win the election because after this cycle, the demographics rapidly fall out of the Republican's favor, and they know it. Ronald Brownstein has more on the statistics. So, Willie Horton and the Welfare Queens it is - and that strategy is absolutely disgusting. No bar is too low for these guys.

Thomas Edsall spells out in clear detail how the welfare and Medicare ads work together - and shows just how divisive the Romney campaign really is. "The Republican ticket is flooding the airwaves with commercials that develop two themes designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor." Shades of Nixon, anyone?

OK, I'm off. All the best to the people of New Orleans, who shouldn't be far from our thoughts as we deal with this nonsense....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Last Seat on Mount Davis


1000 px for a better look.

Mount Davis is what they call the upper deck at the Coliseum, it's usually covered by green tarp for the A's games. The view is actually better than what you see here - this has a bit of lens distortion for the wide angle. Wasn't allowed to bring in my telephoto lenses (3 inch or less), was quite lucky I got the camera through in the first place since video equipment isn't allowed either, and technically the 7D is a video camera as well.

Looking over the side? Ooo-eee, got a little woozy. It's way up there, above the video boards. You get a nice view of the water and the hills, and the sun shining on you helps with the chilly wind. I've got more pics from all around the stadium, and as usual, if I ever get a spare minute I will get them up.

Way different atmosphere than the A's games. It was a good time, but the camera issue, going through metal detectors, over-zealous rent-a-cops, drunken rowdy fans, fan "rules" that try to curtail that drunken rowdy behavior, all that stuff is kind of oppressive. It's as if every fan is a potential criminal. Makes it hard to relax and enjoy yourself. I'll still go to the A's (different crew and security run those), but I doubt I'll catch another Raiders game unless I get a free ticket or something.

Sad day for the Lions, but it's pre-season, so what the heck. Below is a Lions touchdown in flight.

Off to work again today... no rest in the 24/7 political world!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Catnip 8/23/12: The Dog Days Are Over


Lake Merritt art. This picture is from last spring.

The dogs days are over. "Leave all your love and your loving behind you, Can't carry it with you if you want to survive."

Yeah, there is news...

The NY Times has some harsh words for the Republican Party platform. "The Republican Party has moved so far to the right that the extreme is now the mainstream. The mean-spirited and intolerant platform represents the face of Republican politics in 2012." While they urge Romney to move to the "center", one only has to remember that a) Romney panders to these people and b) look at what's happening in the state legislatures. Think Romney would veto whackadoodle legislation from a Republican Congress? Elect Republicans, and extreme is what the country will become.

Speaking of whackadoodle, a judge in Texas in threatening civil war if Obama is re-elected and hands over "the sovereignty of the United States to the UN." The Birchers are alive and well, thankyouverymuch. Adding another layer of crazy to this story is Grover Norquist, who claims that if Lubbock Co. raises taxes to prepare for the coming UN invasion, there will be "civil unrest." Alrighty then. Let's just cross Texas off the list, shall we?

Sisters are figuring it out for themselves. Romney and the Republicans have a big problem with women voters according to private poll from Planned Parenthood. "At this point in the campaign, women voters already have real, though not deeply engrained, reservations about Mitt Romney. Though just one in five (20%) says they know a lot about Romney and the kind of president he would be, fully 50% say they have doubts and concerns about whether he would make a good president, and by 24 points (44% to 20%) they judge him to be “out of step” on issues affecting women. (By contrast, President Obama is viewed as “in step” by a full 20 points (46% to 26%)." Need real life evidence? New poll from Michigan shows Obama leading Romney 50-39 with women.

Nancy Pelosi points out in USA Today that Democrats worked with Bush when they assumed control of the House in '06. "The Democratic House passed more than 230 key measures, with over 70% receiving bipartisan backing. By the end of 2008, in all, President Bush signed 460 laws passed by the Democratic Congress. Thus far, we can only say the same about 169 laws in the current Republican House. The record is clear: The source of congressional inaction today is a Republican congressional leadership that cannot, or will not, govern; that will not put aside partisanship to work together."

Apparently this election is all about... * drumroll * Bill Clinton. Sorry Ron, you've been replaced. Sargent has a good take on that - it's a subtle way of making the election a choice between the Clinton years and the Bush years. Rings true, doesn't it?

CBO freaks out about the fiscal cliff. The Feds are poised to act. Well, then, do it. China is becoming a weight, slowed by European austerity measures (big clue there, people!) and we need to take steps now. It may be too late already.

You remember Three Mile Island don't you? (Offer not valid for those under 40) Say, how is Palisades these days?

Cold here. Must go bundle up and hit the tunnel...

Romney Energy Policy: Sell America to the Oil Companies

It's a platform that only a Koch bother could love. Hope everyone is enjoying the really hot summer and drought, cause Mitt has plenty more where that came from!

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will lay out policies on Thursday aimed at achieving North American energy independence by 2020 by pursuing a sharp increase in production of oil and natural gas on federal lands and off the U.S. coast.


Romney's energy policies are heavily tilted toward increased production of carbon-based resources, oil, gas and coal, that environmentalists blame for global warming. He is outlining the policy two days after going over some of the details with executives from the oil industry who contributed to his campaign at fund-raising events in Texas.

You wanted to work on an oil rig, didn't you? Run a fracking drill? Pick a number Mitt!

Romney is to predict that a full-blown energy plan will create 3 million jobs in energy sectors and other areas, part of an ambitious effort to create 12 million jobs during a Romney presidency.

Pretty amazing, isn't it? Especially when the oil and gas industry itself says that it could create 1.4 million jobs by 2030 if we put the "right government policies in place." Suppose the Romney people sat in a meeting and said, "Aw, to heck with it, let's just double that number! And speed up that time frame so it happens in my second term!" Sure they did. Why bother with little things like facts?

But wait! There's more! As predicted, Mitt just loves him some renewables now.

"I'm going to take advantage of our energy resources: Oil, coal, gas, nuclear, renewables, wind, solar. North America will be energy independent by the last year of my second term," he said.

But... but... but... in the 59-point plan, it says that renewable energy is a job killer! Really, it does! Right on page 90!

As for job creation, studies show that “green” jobs might actually hurt employment more than they help it. Green energy is capital-intensive and tends to displace labor. Indeed, the track record in Europe shows that new “green” jobs came at a steep cost. Spain’s experience, for example, reveals that each new “green” job created destroyed 2.2 others.

It's true, because the oil companies paid for it to be true! Does Mitt want to kill other jobs by creating green jobs? So confusing!

Yes, I'm being glib, because this is just more utter bullshit from this campaign.

Romney says the wind industry needs to "succeed on its own two feet", even though oil companies would get to drill on your taxpayer supported federal land and the Ryan budget still contains $40 billion in subsidies to oil companies over the next decade. Mitt would subsidize energy research; hey, we need something we can sell to the Chinese so they can create those manufacturing jobs, so it might as well be the new technology that you paid for, right?

We haven't even gotten into the global climate change issue, suffice to say it's astounding that, after all the evidence that has been presented, the Republicans are still insisting that we continue to destroy our environment in the name of keeping the oil industry donating those campaign dollars.

President Obama said there would be a stark contrast in this campaign, and he sure was right.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Catnip 8/22/12: Watch for the Romney Renewable Energy Flip-Flop


Under the freeway. 1000 px for the details.

One fearless prediction to make this morning: Mitt Romney, after trashing Obama's renewable energy efforts, after coming out against the wind production tax credit which has been obstructed by Republicans in Congress and is now costing America jobs in Colorado and Iowa, after citing the now thoroughly discredited oil company study that claimed renewable energy cost us jobs in his 59-point plan 'o nonsense - will now try to fool Americans into believing that he supports renewable energy.

How much you wanna bet? From Morning Energy:

ROMNEY TEASES ENERGY PLAN: Mitt Romney will outline a "comprehensive energy plan" later this week, he said Tuesday at a Houston fundraiser. "We will be, I believe, before the end of this week in New Mexico describing a comprehensive energy plan, particularly as it relates to fossil-based fuels. I know that we have members of the media here right now, so I'm not going to go through that in great detail so I can save a bit of that until a little later in the week," Romney told the attendees of the $50,000-per-ticket event. "But your input is something I wanted to retain before we actually cross the T's and dot the I's on those policies." Romney is scheduled to be in Hobbs, N.M., on Thursday.

And this:

PREVIEW OF THINGS TO COME? Romney reiterated his "all of the above" energy policy at another fundraiser at the Petroleum Club in Midland, Texas, last night. "Oil, coal, gas, nuclear, renewables - it's all of the above, and in a serious way," he said. "And inexpensive, abundant energy will not only create energy jobs like you have here, but also manufacturing and other sectors that use energy will come back to America."

Now, do I expect him to turn into an all-out treehugger? No. He still will be pushing for coal and oil above all others - but watch him slip renewable energy in there because it's popular, and he's taking heat for his position, especially in the swing states mentioned above.

Bottom line: He's going to lie.

But I guess that's not really a fearless prediction after all, is it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Catnip: 8/21/12: Time Keeps On Slippin'


Sunset at the Golden Gate. 1000 px here.

Not a lot of time this morning, here are a few items -

The GOP platform is taking shape for the convention, watch this unfold over the next few days. Some tidbits: No abortion, ever, not rape, not incest, not life of the mother (call it the "Akin" plank), defense of Traditional Marriage and a call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and loss of your mortgage interest tax deduction. Wind energy tax credits gone too. These are just for starters, wait until it's all official.

More wind energy job layoffs, this time at Clipper Windpower of Iowa, recently sold to a California company. 174 positions. "Wind power enthusiasts in Iowa say that sale probably had some bearing on the layoff announcement. A bigger factor, though, may be the deadlock in Congress to extend tax credits for the wind industry. The current credits expire on Dec. 31." Oh, and China is complaining that US government support on renewables is violating free trade rules (pot, meet kettle), but if the Republicans have their way we won't have to worry about that much longer, will we.

Dana Milbank is the latest to call out Romney on the lack of detail in his future plans. "The difference with Obama, though, is he has already established a track record in office. By declining to put meat on the bones of his policy proposals, Romney wouldn’t have any mandate from the voters if he does defeat Obama. In policy speeches, he’s somewhat more specific than he is at typical campaign stops, but even then there’s nothing resembling a comprehensive plan for budget balancing, job creation or tax reform."

Patriot Majority. Sounds like a teabag outfit, doesn't it? Not so fast, it's a liberal group that will start to run ads targeting the Koch brothers attempt to buy our government. "Billionaire oil tycoons Charles and David Koch and their special interest friends are $400 million to buy this year's elections and advance their agenda. What's their payback? Politicians who will pass laws that benefit special interests but hurt the middle class," a narrator in the minute-long spot says." Rumor has it they will throw a million into the pot to run ads through the election.

Gotta run...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Catnip: 8/20/12: The Fog


Every day coming home on the train I'm followed by this wall of fog that slowly covers the Bay area. It's fascinating to see at the ground level, but hard to shoot from a moving train of course. Saturday night, I went into the hills to try and capture it - check out the 1000 px shot of SF being slowly swallowed up. This is the Bay Bridge, that tower sticking up through the cloud is on top of Twin Peaks.

The shoot didn't go exactly as planned - I need to get a tri-pod and remember to take the ISO off of automatic. Faster shutter means very grainy shots when it starts to get dark, so I wasn't thrilled with the results. Will try again if I get the chance.

A few notes to start the week...

Krugman, smash! The professor rips the mask off of the Paul Ryan wonk worship that is currently the favored flavor of the Beltway media. "Ryanomics is and always has been a con game, although to be fair, it has become even more of a con since Mr. Ryan joined the ticket." There's nothing left after Paul gets done. Hello, America, pay attention to this.

E.J. Dionne basically does the same, but in a way that looks towards the big picture on government spending and deficits. The bottom line is this: The Romney-Ryan plan to slash taxes for the rich will greatly exacerbate the debt problem, period. "Despite the fantasies of the trickle-down supply-siders, there is no path to a balanced budget without tax increases. Obama openly supports a tax increase. Romney and Ryan not only oppose higher taxes but also claim they can cut taxes and balance the budget — eventually. If they win, we can look forward to more tax cuts compounding the red ink. Isn’t this what should really concern the deficit hawks?"

The Washington Post agrees with all the above, calling Romney's plan "garbage" in this devastating editorial.

Josh Barro at the Boston Globe puts the Romney-Ryan plan in the stark us vs. them world that the "I got mine" Republicans live in. Who is being divisive?: "Romney understands who Republican base voters are. They skew older, and while they like 'small government' rhetoric, they are not eager for cuts to Medicare and Social Security. That’s why Romney calls for cutting aid to the poor now, and to the old later, at a date when he would no longer be president." The Medicaids story needs to gain more traction, encouraging to see it pop up here and there.

Not sure why the comments of Todd Akin surprise anyone; anti-choicers are always making wild statements to justify their goal of controlling women's bodies. Granted, this was a doozy, but it all plays into the effort to eliminate choice. Ilyse Hogue at The Nation: "Akin's comments appear an awful lot like step one in the GOP's favorite two-step tactic to redefine the world around us: first, more extreme figures voice opinions that would never fly from more politically-palatable ones. The right-wing echo chamber picks up those opinions in the guise of news coverage. Then, the more politically acceptable candidates shift their rhetoric to acknowledge the newly accepted opinion as reality." Shifting the Overton Window once again.

Still, when even Karl Rove has a problem with your statement, you might want to rethink your career path....

More important story on women's health care and family planning services: Romney/Ryan would slash both Title X and Medicaid funding to the point where Planned Parenthood and other clinics that are now serving a substantial population would close down. It's already happening in Texas: "Last year, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) slashed state family planning funds by two-thirds. As a result of those cuts, over 60 clinics (12 of which are Planned Parenthoods) in the Lone Star State have shut their doors, and over one hundred thousand women who previously had access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, STD tests, and birth control have been left without care."

Let's talk about that budget some more, shall we?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)

RIP Scott McKenzie, singer of this seemingly timeless anthem written by John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas. Fun fact: McKenzie co-wrote the Beach Boys hit "Kokomo" in 1988.

One by one they slip away...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Catnip 8/17/12: Ignore Ryan's Medicaid Cuts at Your Peril


Another from Mt. Diablo, more majestic in 1000 px.

Have to go in early today so no long notes, but I did want to highlight an important story: While the campaigns quibble over Medicare, the real health care policy problem is going practically unnoticed - and that's Paul Ryan's devastating cuts to Medicaid.

But Ryan’s plan delivers: It would reduce growth in Medicaid spending by $800 billion in a decade and repeal the Medicaid coverage expansion under the Democrats’ health care law.

All told, the CBO has estimated that the amount of money spent on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program would plummet — from 2 percent of GDP in 2011 to 1.25 percent in 2030 and then 1 percent in 2050.

Block grants would give states vast freedom on how to spend the Medicaid money, without the current federal rules about who gets covered and what coverage they get. Medicaid would no longer be an entitlement for poor children, pregnant women, low-income disabled and elderly Americans in nursing homes.

This is why Romney mentioned nursing homes in his little speech yesterday - to deflect attention from the cuts that Ryan makes, which would throw far more elderly out onto the streets. Here's Biden:

Ryan’s “massive cuts,” Joe Biden said on the campaign trail this week, “could throw 19 million people in distress off of Medicaid, including 1 million seniors, roughly 75 percent of whom are women. How do they think these people in nursing homes are there? Who do they think pays for that? Seventy-five percent of those octogenarians, those elderly — I mean genuinely elderly — persons in homes, they’re there because of Medicaid,” he said.

But back to the low-income citizens and kids. Right now, those people are showing up in emergency rooms, driving up the cost of insurance. Medicaid covers some of the payments to hospitals for this population. Without this safety net, costs are going to explode for hospitals and insurers alike - or, we can start turning people away from care altogether. You get sick, you can't afford it, you die. It really is just that simple.

62 million people a year are served by Medicaid - that's roughly 1 in 5 Americans. Ryan's budget cuts Medicaid by 34%, or $1.4 trillion, in the next decade, and estimates are that up to 30 million people will lose coverage.

As one health care professional says, it would be "total chaos" if this were to happen. Kaiser has a fact sheet here.

We will see if this gains traction - it's a far bigger problem than people realize.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Catnip 8/16/12: To Capture the Speed of Light

O...M...G... check out this video of femto-photography, which can capture the movement of light at a trillion frames per second.

Canon, your move.

Meanwhile, in the slow-motion world....

Romney now speaks for Ryan on Medicare, only problem with that is Romney isn't making any sense on Medicare. The AP destroys Romney's campaign pandering about restoring the $716B, pointing out that the program becomes insolvent sooner without the savings.

The lies about Medicare are making the problem impossible to solve. Greg Sargent points out that only one side is demagogic and spreading falsehoods, and it goes beyond the Medicare argument:"More broadly, the GOP ticket is proposing a tax plan that they say they is revenue neutral without telling you how its deep tax cuts for the rich would be paid for. And only one side is actually willing to take real steps towards compromise on the deficit. As the supercommittee talks showed, Dems are willing to accept Medicare cuts — to a fault, in the minds of liberals — in exchange for tax hikes on the rich. Republicans are not willing to accept tax hikes on the rich in exchange for Medicare cuts."

The media is disgusted with the campaigns for the nasty rhetoric, but apparently no one has told the media they really do have a choice on what aspects of this campaign they want to report on. Sooooo... not sure what we are going to do about that.

Oops! Looks like Congressman Ryan failed to disclose all his income on his regular Congressional disclosure statements. Just a small error about the wife's trust fund, you see, and even though it's "one of the couple's largest assets", it was a minor oversight. Really. Happens all the time. Nothing to see here, move along.

The Dems are coming after the Ryan budget, first lucky contestant is Dan Benishek up in MI-01. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy in a nicer state.

And on that note, Ezra sounds the warning about a Republican "mandate" if the Dems lose - and it's pretty darn scary. "But if Obama loses, Republicans will have won the presidency with a mandate to enact a deeply conservative agenda. Left to his own devices, Romney might have been a relatively pragmatic and cautious president. Instead, the Obama administration’s three-year effort to enshrine the Ryan budget at the heart of the Republican Party would prove to have been a crucial push toward enacting that budget into law." And then you can get ready for that revolution you always dreamed about, because the American people are going to be severely pissed when it all falls apart, as Republican trickle-down economies always do. I would quibble with Klein about the "elevation" of Ryan's budget being all Obama's fault though - the plans have been out there in some shape or form for years, and the Repubs purging of the moderates is what brought them into solid shape.

That rumbling you hear coming out of Brighton? That's George Romney, rolling over in his grave. Alec MacGillis has a great piece on how Mitt Romney is stoking racial resentment with a blatant lie about welfare and seemingly getting away with it.

Jeffrey Sachs at the Financial Times reminds of a painful truth: No matter who wins on Nov. 6th, spending cuts are likely to throw the country into another recession - if not worse. "In bemoaning Mr Obama’s budget, I do not mean to equate it with Mr Ryan’s. Mr Ryan’s budget is nothing short of heartless in the face of the dire crisis facing America’s poor. It is also reckless, guaranteed to leave millions of children without the quality of education and skills they will need as adults. Yet the sad truth is that the Democrats offer no progressive alternative. Both parties are accomplices to the premeditated asphyxiation of the state." With Obama, we have a chance though. With Romney (and a Republican Congress), it will be utter devastation. That's the difference.

Positive signs on the economy, as factory orders rise and builders are feeling confident. "The nation’s economy looked more resilient on Wednesday after reports that factories produced more goods in July and that home builders grew more confident in the housing recovery. At the same time, consumer prices were flat last month, a development that could lift consumer spending and increase growth in the second half of the year."

Serious energy wonks are going to want to check out Energy Secretary Dr. Chu's newest paper on a "sustainable energy future" at Politico's Morning Energy has a breakdown here that's a little easier to digest.

Gotta run. Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Catnip 8/15/12: There's A Reason


Sign above a coffee shop in Oakland. Kind of ties in with our first note...

New demographic to target: The Unlikely Voter. USA Today has the best story of the day, taking a look at those who are eligible and more often than not registered to vote, but don't bother showing up at the polls. There are 90 million of them, 7 million more than our three biggest states (California, Texas and New York) combined. "A nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll of people who are eligible to vote but aren't likely to do so finds that these stay-at-home Americans back Obama's re-election over Republican Mitt Romney by more than 2-1. Two-thirds of them say they are registered to vote. Eight in 10 say the government plays an important role in their lives." Maybe make it mandatory? Would hate to do that, but c'mon people. It's your country too.

The Romney-Ryan team will not be releasing specifics on their budget plans before the election. Shades of Snyder and other Republicans in 2010 that ran for office and wouldn't tell you what they were going to do once they got there. How's that working out for everybody? "It’s official: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have both confirmed in interviews that they will not be revealing the specifics of their tax plan before the election. Which is another way of saying that these two self-styled deficit hawks have no intention of revealing how their plan would actually reduce the deficit, until they’re in the White House. Voters — and, presumably, the news media — are expected to take this on faith." We are going to find out if they can get away with it on the national level - I'm guessing no - but stranger things have happened.

Just continue to lie. Mitt Romney gets called out on the welfare claim. He continues to lie. Now, Mitt Romney gets called out on the Medicare claim. He continues to lie. Too many people to count have called his budget a fantasy, and he continues to lie. Has there ever been a campaign that has been so brazenly dishonest and dishonorable in history? Seriously. We need to check into this.

Michael Tomasky explains why Republicans have to lie - they wouldn't get elected if they told the truth. "What we're going to do here is make sure society's very richest people have a lot more money. Our theory is they will spend it and that will help the whole economy. History hasn't been kind to this idea, but it's our theory and we're sticking to it. These are the people who pay us to run, after all."

Krugman, on how the media coverage will make or break the entire election - and perhaps the country. "So, a memo to the news media: you have now become players in this campaign, not just reporters. Mitt Romney isn’t seeking a debate on the issues; on the contrary, he’s betting that your gullibility and vanity will let him avoid a debate on the issues, including the issue of his own fitness for the presidency. I guess we’ll see if it works."

Worst. Congress. Ever. Another good story from USA Today find that this is the least production Congress since the end of WWII. Why does that make it the worst ever? Because of the need for action created by the Great Recession they that have failed to address, obstruction that hurt the country for political purposes only. "Just 61 bills have become law to date in 2012 out of 3,914 bills that have been introduced by lawmakers, or less than 2% of all proposed laws... In 2011, after Republicans took control of the U.S. House, Congress passed just 90 bills into law.... These statistics make the 112th Congress, covering 2011-12, the least productive two-year gathering on Capitol Hill since the end of World War II." And it shows.

Bill Gates hands a $100,000 prize to the solar-powered toilet. Don't laugh, it's an important development to those areas of the world that do not have complex sewer systems and the water needed to run them available. "About 2.6 billion people, or 40 percent of world's population -- mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia -- lack access to safe sanitation and are forced to defecate in the open, according to Gates," and that makes for huge health problems and accounts for the deaths of 1.5 million children under the age of 5 every year. So, pants off to you, sir.

Off to deal...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Catnip 8/14/12: The Words of the Prophets


Welcome to the War on Chalk. How's this for absurd? "Over the past five years, at least 48 people in 13 American cities have run afoul of authorities for coloring things with chalk. The vast majority were arrested in connection with drawing designs or messages on public streets or sidewalks." Children drawing pictures, menace to society. Meanwhile, police don't respond to burglaries anymore. Priorities.

Back to the unreal world....

Oops. Ryan pick looking like not such a good idea after all. Seniors in Florida are getting the word. "Assailing proposed changes to the retiree health plan is a time-tested line of attack, nowhere more so than here in Florida, where voters 65 and older made up 22 percent of the electorate in the 2008 presidential election. Polls show that a majority of elderly voters nationally oppose changes in Medicare or Social Security, which Mr. Ryan in the past has also proposed altering." Send Sununu to talk to them. He's doing a swell job.

The argument goes like this: When Obama wants to cut Medicare costs, the same ones Republicans want to cut mind you, it's a bad, bad thing. But when Republicans want to both slash funding AND turn the program over to the inefficient and profiteering private sector where you're going to end up paying a whole lot more out of pocket, it's "reform". See how that works?

"Republicans concerned Ryan could cost party House and Senate seats" sez an article in The Hill, complete with Republican anonymous sources freaking right out about the implications of ending Medicare As We Know It and what the voters are going to do to them if they don't run away fast enough. "There are a lot races that are close to the line we're not going to win now because they're going to battle out who's going to kill grandma first, ObamaCare or Paul Ryan's budget,” said one Republican strategist who works on congressional races." Awww. What a shame. Politico has more.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jonathan Chait. Must read on all things Ryan. You're welcome.

Watch out for that landslide talk though. Sure is fun to think about.

The WaPo notices that Romney's budget cuts are much worse than Ryan's. "But Romney would also spend far less than Ryan on non-defense programs, including entitlements. To stick to his budgeting principles, Romney would have to cut $7 trillion from all non-defense programs, and he would have to cut $9.6 trillion if he wanted to balance the budget, as he’s also promised, the CBPP says. The Ryan plan would cut $5.2 trillion from entitlements and non-defense discretionary spending. 'Thus, Governor Romney’s ten-year cuts would range from one-third deeper than those in the Ryan budget to almost twice as deep as the Ryan cuts,' the CBPP concludes." In other words, unworkable insanity.

Remember that time when Paul Ryan scuttled the bipartisan debt reduction deal on the orders of Grover Norquist? Bloomberg does. "Representative Paul Ryan was a pivotal figure in killing the 2010 Bowles-Simpson agreement, which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney now holds out as a model for putting America’s fiscal house in order." Couldn't have President Obama actually solve any problems now, could we?

You know how I've been going on and on about the wind production tax credit this year? Well, thanks to your obstructionist GOP House, Vestas is now starting to lay off workers in Colorado. Can we call them "job-killers" now? 90 of their 450 workers in Pueblo, shown the door. "Elsewhere in the statement, Vestas tied the layoffs directly to the failure of Congress to extend a wind energy tax credit set to expire this year." President Obama will raise the issue again today in Iowa.

And by the way, even though Paul Ryan claims he hated the stimulus and government spending on green energy, turns out that didn't stop him from putting his hands in the till for some green energy projects for his district. "Ryan’s letters to the energy secretary praising the energy initiatives as he sought a portion of the funding are in sharp contrast to the House Budget Committee chairman’s image as a Tea Party movement favorite adamantly opposed to federal spending on such programs." Millions of those "wasteful" stimulus dollars flowed into Janesville thereafter. Hypocrite much?

If you haven't been reading "The Chronicles of Mitt", you really should. Brilliant. Follow them here.

More subversive messages from Ogawa...


Monday, August 13, 2012

Catnip 8/13/12: The Largest Shiny Object Yet


The Townsend Building from AT&T. Don't think I've posted this before, and if I have, my apologies. Mitt Romney ruined my weekend and I haven't had much time to do anything else but read....

Are you ready to end the New Deal and the Great Society all in one election? This is how we do it...

"The largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history." Mother Jones lays out the charts on how the Ryan plan will literally gut every function of the US government to bestow large tax cuts on the wealthy. You weren't using your national parks or the FBI or those food-safety inspectors, were you?

Romney may be trying to run from Ryan's plan now, but as Jonathan Cohn points out, Romney's numbers make the budget cuts much worse. "But if policymakers exempted Social Security from the cuts, as Romney has suggested, and cut Medicare, Medicaid, and all other entitlement and discretionary programs by the same percentage — to meet Romney’s spending cap, defense spending target, and balanced budget requirement — then non-defense programs other than Social Security would have to be cut 29 percent in 2016 and 59 percent in 2022. Without the balanced budget requirement, the cuts would be smaller but still massive, reaching 40 percent in 2022."

Social issues? Ryan is as far right as they come. Although he has vaguely mouthed support of gay rights, he has voted against them every single time. And abortion rights? Forget it. Ryan would criminalize some forms of birth control. Maybe all of them if he had his way.

Ryan is red meat for the Palinesque base to be sure, with Romney all but ignored on these intial appearances. Will that be enough to put Romney over the top? Ed Kilgore doesn't think so. I tend to agree.

Ryan on energy. He would kill green energy efforts, he would personally profit from expanding oil drilling, and the Koch Brothers are among his biggest campaign donors. 'Nuff said.

The choice of Ryan and the embrace of Tea Party philosophy and economic plans represent the death of the moderate Republican. Even St. Ronnie wouldn't be welcome in today's GOP. "The Ryan budget is a repudiation of Hamiltonian conservatism, Eisenhower-style fiscal conservatism, George W. Bush’s 'compassionate conservatism,' and even Ronald Reagan’s conviction that 'Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.'" Sorry Ron, you're out.

Jonathan Chait said it better on Saturday: "Over time the movement and the party have grown synonymous, and Ryan’s nominations represents a moment when the conservative movement ceased to control the politicians from behind the scenes and openly assumed the mantle of power." Be sure and read his excellent and extensive piece on Ryan from April.

Another must-read is Ryan Lizza's profile in the New Yorker. Lizza traveled to Janesville to see what makes this guy tick. Turns out Ryan loved earmarks and stimulus spending as a Congressman, and they are fueling the recovery town after GM pulled the plug on the plant there.

Did you know that Paul Ryan charged his constituents an entry fee to his local town hall meet and greets? How about the time when he laughed at a 71-year old man questioning cuts to Medicare and SS, who was then removed by the police, and later thrown to the ground and cuffed? Real knee-slapper, that one.

Ryan took advantage of insider information to avoid taking a personal hit during the Crash of '08. "Instead of doing anything to help, Ryan left the meeting (with Paulson and Bernanke) and on that very same day Paul Ryan sold shares of stock he owned in several troubled banks and reinvested the proceeds in Goldman Sachs, a bank that the meeting had disclosed was not in trouble." A man of character, indeed.

Romney's dilemma: "Over and again Romney will be asked whether he supports Ryanism. If he says yes he looks like the bottom, not the top of the ticket. If he says no, he reinforces rather than ends the impression, already taking hold of independent voters, that he is a shifty opportunist who will do whatever it takes, say whatever has to be said, co-opt whomever it takes, to change the furnishings at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If he asserts himself by neutering Mr Ryan, he will incur the wrath of the very hard-core Tea Partiers he is now so eager to appease." He won't neuter Ryan, he'll just continue to lie about everything, hoping the media won't hold him accountable. That won't fly during the debates, though.

Off to face what promises to be an interesting day...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Catnip 8/10/12: Thanks For Playing


Um, I don't think so. Nice try though.

Have to go in early today so no long notes, but just wanted to make this point, written Thursday night...

John Nichols, The Nation:

Ryan scares people who live outside the “bubble” of a modern conservative movement that thinks the wealthiest country in the world is “broke” and that Ayn Rand is an literary and economic seer.

The House Budget Committee chairman imagines himself as a high priest speaking unfortunate truths about debts and deficits, the unforgiving foe of social spending who would gladly sacrifice Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on the altar of debt reduction. Ryan has branded himself well within Republican circles, so well that he has parlayed himself into contention for the vice presidential nod. To get that nomination, however, Ryan must count on the prospect that the party that takes as its symbol the memory-rich elephant will suddenly suffer a spell of forgetfulness. That’s because the Republican congressman from Wisconsin, for all his bluster, is anything but a consistent advocate for fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets. He is, in fact, a hypocrite,

Or, to be more precise, a hypocritical big spender—at least when Wall Street, the insurance industry and the military-industrial complex call.

Krugman has pointed out that Ryan is a fiscal fraud before, too. I consider him the most dangerous man in America, not only because of his Randian fantasies that the Republicans would surely carry out if giving the chance, but because of this:

CNN/ORC Poll of 1,010 adults, August 7-8, 2012.

We'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you have never heard of them.

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan

Favorable 27%
Unfavorable 19%
Never heard of 38%
No opinion 16%

That's over 50% who don't know, or worse yet, don't care. Now, I expect that to change if he is nominated of course, and I don't expect that his favorables will improve once it's understood that he would gut SS and Medicare/Medicaid... but will people pay attention, or will they think it's just another election lie, when in fact it's the truth?

Another interesting stat: 31% of Republicans in the poll didn't know who Paul Ryan is, either.

Sometimes I forget that I live in a bubble myself, and that there are a lot of people out there that, even though they do declare a party preference out of tribal loyalty, they really aren't paying attention to who these people are and what they are doing now or plan to do in the future.

You begin to understand how it all goes wrong sometimes. I pray that this election isn't one of those times.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Catnip 8/9/12: Romney Going Galt?


Add Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to my pile of politician pictures. She was walking around down at the Art & Soul Festival last weekend.

Back to the nation, already in progress...

Don't know whether to laugh or be thoroughly disgusted that the media is getting the vapors over the Bain cancer death ad. Mitt's flat-out lying about every single issue comes by the minute (check out today's claim about Obama's "war on religion" for the latest), but let a Dem SuperPac play fast and loose with a timeline on an ad where the substance of the argument is true? Oh, the horror! Steve Benen takes it to Mark Halperin for the latest clutching of the villager pearls. And let's just pretend we didn't hear the part where the Romney spokeperson claims this woman wouldn't have died had she lived in Romney's Massachusetts, where Obamacare is already in place.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities released another extensive look at the Romney/Ryan plan. Figure a 22% cut across the board on top of the 8% cut mandated by the sequester deal. Roughly you are looking at a 30% cut to all states on spending for education, law enforcement, environmental, yada yada yada - and even steeper cuts to Medicaid, which is a separate animal. Lots to parse, and it's all about gutting the function of the United States government. You stop and think about that for a moment.

Another trashing of the Romney/Ryan tax plan, this time coming from the right. At the same time, you have to big money on the right pushing Paul Ryan for Veep. Will all these "experts" suddenly get onboard and find new ways to spin the plan if that happens? The Wall Street Journal is already there, calling Ryan "serious" when it's obvious to everyone that Ryan doesn't have a serious plan - and that's scary too.

David Frum nails it: "The clamor you are hearing for Paul Ryan for VP is not about helping the Romney candidacy. It's about controlling the Romney campaign—and ultimately the Romney presidency. It's about forcing a platform on Romney, and then dictating the agenda for that presidency's first year. The platform happens to be suicidal, and the agenda impossible, but that does not matter to the Ryan advocates. They take the old Tammany Hall point of view: 'Better to lose an agenda than lose control of the party.'"

Ezra, supposedly still on vacation, takes yet another punch at the Romney/Ryan plan today, arguing that because it deosn't offer out details and doesn't add up, it spells doom for real tax reform. He's right.

The Hamilton Project takes a look at government job cuts, and comes to some startling conclusions: Not only are they depressing the economy now, they portend big problems for the future. "Additionally, we report on the results of a new analysis that finds that the cuts in public school teachers are projected to reduce the future earnings of today’s students by more than five times as much as the current budget savings." Things like that. Go read.

Obama will be pushing the wind energy production tax credit today in Colorado, home to turbine maker Vestas who is threatening layoffs if it isn't extended soon. From Morning Energy: "The Obama campaign sees Romney’s stance on wind as a major vulnerability for the GOP candidate, particularly because the tax credit has support from both Republicans and Democrats in many states." Yup, yup and yup. Wedge issue time.

Shout-out to Mark Schauer who pens a very nice column in Bridge today about fuel-efficient, clean energy cars. "This investment in clean cars demonstrates a sound commitment to sustainability, growth in local communities, and jobs and the economy. It also prepares us to take on our automotive and manufacturing competitors around the world." With gas prices back over $4 a gallon here due to the refinery fire, it's a nice reminder that we need to keep moving in this direction.

Hottest. Month. Ever. The WSJ seems to think that it won't push food prices up all that much - but they will go up.

And with that, I'm off to the beautiful Bay area weather, where it's supposed to be in the 100s on the other side of the hills, and a very nice upper 70s, low 80s around the water. Amazing temperature differences within the span of a few miles.

Mayor Quan talks to some constituents -


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Catnip 8/8/12: What IS the Matter With Kansas?


Wind Cave on Mount Diablo that went clear through the rock. These formations aren't actually carved by the wind though; they are due to evaporation of the water in the sandstone. Read the story here.

Win some, lose some, onward to November...

Election day. Well well. Let's start with home. Disappointed that Trevor didn't win, disappointed that Roy Schmidt did. As long as voters do not hold the brazen liars and crooks accountable for their actions, don't be surprised when your elected officials are brazen liars and crooks. Next chance GR, November. Sorry to lose Hansen from Congress; he's a cool guy. And hey, how's everybody liking Ruth Johnson over Jocelyn Benson? That working out for you?

Moderate Republicans are purged from the Kansas state Senate. Biggest story from yesterday's primaries could be this: "Conservative Republicans who've been working to push GOP moderates out of state legislatures in a large section of the country have scored big victories in Kansas, where a state Senate that has been an obstacle to fiscal and social policy changes is likely to have a solid majority on the right next year." Kansas is already total wingnut, hard to see how it could get any worse - but keep an eye on what policy they pass next year.

Missouri split the crazy base and ended up with McCaskill's pick for an opponent for the US Senate race there: Todd Akin, hater of gays, liberals, Medicare, voting rights... you know the drill. Only problem is: He might win. Careful what you pray for, Claire. McCaskill is already up with a website that focuses on Akin's... um... "colorful" policy positions.

The Big Dog weighs in on Romney's dishonest dog-whistle ad concerning welfare, a little too late in the evening to make a difference in yesterday's news cycle. Still, nice to hear from the authority. Guessing that Mitt doesn't care and is working on his next Big Lie as we speak.

Reports this morning that Romney signed off on a plan that helped Marriott and others avoid paying taxes, costing the government "billions." "'Son of Boss' and its related shelters represented perhaps the largest tax avoidance scheme in history, costing the U.S. many billions in lost corporate tax revenues. In response, the government initiated legal challenges that resulted in complete disallowance of the losses claimed by Marriott and other corporations." Romney approved "fictional" tax losses of $70 million for the Marriott Corporation in the 90's. Made it up out of thin air, which, yes, is illegal.

Could be why America is just not that into you, Mitt. Unfavorables are climbing by the day.

Economist Brad DeLong grabs a team and absolutely destroys Romney's joke of a "jobs" plan. It's utter nonsense folks. How many more have to weigh in before the MSM picks up on the story?

The world is noticing Mitt's attack on green energy jobs though. The world is not pleased. Especially when you consider that Republican governors of all stripes have championed renewable energy efforts in their states. Clean green energy is one of the rare areas that enjoys bipartisan consensus; Mittens may have picked the wrong Koch horse on this. Hope so, anyway.

A lot of hot air, this time the good kind. "The American Wind Energy Association said Tuesday that wind power has reached 50 gigawatts of electric generating capacity. 'U.S. wind turbines now power the equivalent of nearly 13 million American homes, or as many as in Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, Alabama and Connecticut combined,' AWEA said in a statement." That's the equivalent of 11 nuclear plants, or 44 coal-fired plants. Nifty graphic here.

I'm hearing rumors that Kathleen Sebelius is actually a "radical". Must go investigate. Didn't know she had it in her. Perhaps Kansas needs to be questioned about its intentions. Until next time....

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Catnip 8/7/12: Zombie Reagan Says "Vote!"


Vote! Michigan and Missouri are holding primaries today - I sent my absentee out weeks ago (yes, still a Michigan resident), proudly cast my vote for Trevor Thomas in Michigan's CD-03. Wishing him all the best. I see the establishment lined up against him, and to be honest I'm really glad I'm not there because I would have been pitching a fit about the nasty ads. Says a lot about the direction of the MDP - and it's obviously not about casting an eye to the younger voters and the future of the party. So be it.

Here now some news:

Zombie Reagan returns to play the welfare queen card. And once again, Mitt is flat-out lying about the President's position, and doing a total flip-flop on the position he held as governor. Par for the course of this campaign. Has anyone added up all the falsehoods yet? Has there ever been a campaign that has been this dishonest in history? "Romney might look like he’s not concerned about the needs of the 'very poor.' An Obama campaign official highlights a Truth Team fact sheet published last month, which argues that the president is merely giving states the kind of waiver flexibility Republicans have long wanted (including Romney in 2005)."

Romney ripped-off the Italian government for millions while he was at Bain. Fascinating (and telling of character) story from Bloomberg. James Downie at Morning Plum: "I’ve written before about what Romney’s 'profit-first' approach to leadership: It’s a more-than-acceptable path for business leaders, but voters should know they won’t be the ones benefiting from a Romney presidency."

"Romney Hood." Say it often. It needs to become a thing.

Priorities USA hits back with a chilling ad about how an employee that was laid-off in a Bain takeover lost his insurance - and his wife came down with cancer. Real world consequences of Mitt's "profit before people" policies. Greg Sargent: "It’s about creating a frame to make it easier for voters to accept that as difficult as it might be to believe, Romney really would implement policies that would benefit the rich at the expense of the middle class."

Christine Todd Whitman says that Romney needs to stand up to the radicals in the Republican base. Good luck with that, because they are the ones paying the bills and running his campaign. (See: lying, above)

Ezra tears apart the Romney campaign on the lack of detail in Mitt's policy plans: "It should not be considered partisan to demand details from the two men campaigning to be president. Both Republicans and Democrats should want to know the specifics of Romney’s tax plan. Both liberals and conservatives should insist that Romney reveal his plans to regulate the financial system. But so far, Romney has refused to give voters the most basic information about what he would do as president. That means he has refused to give voters the most basic information necessary for them to make an informed choice this November. That’s not acceptable. And neither voters nor the media should accept it."

About that fracking: Yet another report ties high pressure injection wells to earthquakes, this time in Texas.

We Can't Wait for renewable energy (see picture in post below), so the White House is going to expedite some solar and wind projects. Good. "The Obama administration on Tuesday said it will expedite seven renewable energy infrastructure projects-- several in battleground states--to power about 1.5 million homes. The proposed projects include wind and solar plants in Arizona, California, Wyoming and Nevada to be run by companies such as First Solar Inc. (FSLR) and NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE), the White House said in a press release. The White House said additional projects to be expedited will be announced in the coming weeks."

Off to see if the smoke has cleared the horizon...

Monday, August 06, 2012

Richmond Chevron Fire from the BART

Richmond Chevron Fire

This was color-corrected for the dirty BART window, so the sky is probably a little bluer than it actually is.... view from West Oakland near where the train crosses over the freeway.

Now am familiar with the term "shelter in place", as Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo, and others are being told to close windows and stay inside....

Catnip 8/6/12: Baby Please Don't Go


Two different places, two different situations, same sentiment expressed.

Friday night, a band of around 100 protesters (the last remnants of Occupy?) marched down the street in Oakland, smashing car windows. They attacked Obama HQ, which is across the street from the Fox, as you can see in the reflection. While some frustration with the Obama administration is to be expected from the left, attacks like this only serve to discredit the movement and really turn off the citizens of Oakland that support Obama with all their heart - and there are many of those. Bad move. Could be why crowds that once numbered in the thousands have now dwindled to a few roving vandals here.

Bottom picture: A's fans begging the team to stay. Reports this morning have Mayor Quan meeting with MLB officials and developers on a new ballpark near the Port/waterfront/downtown area. Sounds like a plan. Make it happen. The Giants will never allow the team in San Jose, and Oakland needs the economic benefit, not to mention the identity as a major league city.

The rest of the news....

Economist Jared Bernstein points out the obvious flaw in Paul Ryan's (and Mitt Romney's) fantasy-fueled budget plan: It won't work. The direct quote: "Have never come anywhere close to working", to be more precise. More: "It's thus no more plausible nor responsible to tout such an unrealistic vision from the right than it would be for an American politician to proclaim his allegiance to the ideas of Karl Marx and write down plans for confiscating wealth and socializing the means of production." Budgets need to be based on reality, not ideology, and the reality is that trickle-down economics is a proven failure. also takes an extensive look at the Romney/Ryan budget today, and comes to the same conclusion as everyone else: It will give the wealthy huge tax cuts, raise taxes on the middle class, makes dubious claims about job growth, and the math doesn't work anyway. "But Romney is not arguing that more jobs and growth should compensate for a tax system that puts a greater burden, or a larger share of a reduced burden, on middle-income taxpayers. He’s promising that the share of taxes won’t change. He has failed to prove that’s possible. And based on available evidence, we don’t see that it is."

Romney to the Fed: "Don't help the economy! My plan is better!" Uh huh. See above.

The Tampa Bay Times, home of the Republican convention, calls out the Romney plan today as well. "Too often candidates get away with fanciful claims that they can cut taxes without reducing defense spending or worsening the deficit. Romney's attempt was properly called out by a group of number-crunchers. If he has a dispute with the results, he needs to provide specifics on just how he will provide massive tax relief to those at the top without adding to the tax burdens of average people." Bottom line in all of this: Romney does not have a workable plan for the nation's budget or economy, period.

Wonder if the Des Moines Register is sorry that they endorsed Romney in the primaries now that he has attacked wind energy production. Today's editorial makes a strong defense for the industry.

Romney's claims on misspent green energy stimulus money earns two Pinocchios from Kessler. Mitt is lying, surprise, surprise. Seeing the pattern yet? If you want an even bigger whopper from the Romney campaign, check out the claims he is making on veteran's voting rights in Ohio. Complete and total falsehood.

The GOP abandons "teh gay" as a wedge issue. Those of us who remember 2004 couldn't be happier. Best line comes from James Downie writing for PlumLine today: "The fact that gay marriage foes’ latest stand is taking place in a fast food restaurant hardly bodes well for the movement’s long-term health. For years now, majority support for gay marriage has been an question of when, not if, and now we’re rapidly approaching the point where such foes are rightly consigned to the fringe of American politics." If only we could do the same with trickle-down economics.

"We Now Have Our Smallest Government in 45 Years." Amazing chart shows the drop. "So how badly has this actually hurt the job market? The Hamilton folks estimate that, if the share of government workers was back to 2007 levels, we'd have about 1.7 million more jobs than we do today."

The Sierra Club tracks the Big Oil Money that is attacking renewable energy. Worth a read, especially in light of the new report that shows that extreme weather we are experiencing is being caused by man-made climate change.

Nine states have accounted for $350 million in ad spending so far. From the AP: "Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida... account for 120 of the 270 electoral votes a presidential candidate needs... while the rest of the country is virtually ad-free, the Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns, along with a host of mostly Republican-leaning independent groups, are going at it in those really competitive states. Voters in just 67 of the country's 210 media markets are confronted by campaign ads on local stations."

Mars, bitches! (look it up) Congratulations to NASA and the U!S!A! on the Curiosity rover. Proof that we still got it, if we only try.

Oakland loves their team....


Friday, August 03, 2012

Catnip 8/3/12: Give 'Em a Month to Think About It


Setting sun through the Elihu M. Harris State of California Building in downtown Oakland.

Taxes and jobs and taxes that may or may not lead to jobs... so glad the weekend is here...

Some hard numbers on the jobs report, big picture style: "The economy has now added private sector jobs for 29 straight months, for a total of 4.5 million jobs during that period... After losing millions of manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 532,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010 – the strongest growth for any 30-month period since June 1989... Since February 2010, State and local governments have lost 485,000 jobs." Steve Benen has a lovely chart for some perspective.

The House GOP passed their "fast track" for "tax reform" yesterday, unnoticed by almost everyone. The budget plan is the Romney/Ryan blueprint of what they would do should they come into power: "Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said the plan could create an average tax windfall of $330,000 for millionaires and increase the tax bill for middle-class Americans by $4,500." Once again, the Republicans will not specify what tax loopholes they would close to finance massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and are promising that trickle-down magic will take care of the deficit. Some good news: No Democrats voted for the plan.

Ad fact check time: The new Obama ad that hits Romney for raising taxes on the middle class (see directly above) is rated as accurate at the WaPo. Fascinating that the Republicans lie about nearly everything, and they are lying about what would happen if these plans were put into action, but on what they intend to do with the tax code - they are telling the truth. They will cut taxes for the rich, period, and they aren't shy about that.

Ezra spells the Romney math out in more detail for Bloomberg today, the words "mathematically impossible" loom large: "The truth is that Romney is afraid to put his plan on the table. He has promised to reduce the deficit, but refused to identify the spending he would cut. He has promised to reform the tax code, but refused to identify the deductions and loopholes he would eliminate. The only thing he has put on the table is dessert: a promise to cut marginal tax rates by 20 percent across the board and to do so without raising the deficit or reducing the taxes paid by the top 1 percent. The Tax Policy Center took Romney at his word. They also did what he hasn’t done: They put his plan on the table."

Jonathan Chait has a great take on the tax trap that Romney has set for himself: "Romney isn’t offering a policy blueprint for what deductions he would take away, let alone a plausible scenario to pass such a plan even if it did exist. He’s just using the mystical economic pixie dust of the nonexistent corporate tax reform plan in order to hold out the hope of some missing ingredient, some unmeasurable X factor, to keep his proposal in the safe dreamworld where the cruel tyranny of math cannot apply." Real question is: Will the public pay attention?

Annnnnd back to that tax reform, Senate Finance Committee version, which proves Chait's point. Some good news: The wind energy tax credit was extended for a year on a bipartisan vote, thank you Chuck. But here is the kicker - everyone else wants their tax credits extended too, and in the end, only 20 of 75 "tax extenders" were eliminated from the budget. "All told, the measure would add $143 billion to next year’s budget deficit, according to of­ficial estimates, with about $40 billion going to the special-interest breaks." But what would it cost us in jobs if they were eliminated?

No matter, we have another month to think about it. Congress left a mountain of work undone, ran out the door and headed off for vacation until after the conventions. By the time they get back the heat and the scrutiny and the posturing will be turned up to 11 on the dial. That will help get things done, right? Can't wait!

No rest for the wicked media though - gotta run.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Catnip 8/2/12: Tax Plans in the Wind


Wind farm visible to the north of Mount Diablo. There is another looking south too. Don't know the names, maybe will travel and find out up close some day...

Back to the attempted destruction of America, already in progress...

Looks like the reverse Robin Hood tax plans of Mitt Romney and the GOP are not going over well with.... well, anyone who crunches numbers for a living. Ezra tackles Romney's plan (while on vacation!) and comes to the same conclusion as the rest: Romney would have to make massive cuts to spending on the country to promise tax cuts for the wealthy, and the fact that he won't identify those cuts leaves it to the experts to fill in the blanks. "The size of the tax cut he’s proposing for the rich is larger than all of the tax expenditures that go to the rich put together. As such, it is mathematically impossible for him to keep his promise to make sure the top one percent keeps paying the same or more."

The Congressional Republican tax "reform" plan concocted by Dave Camp and Paul Ryan doesn't fare any better. The CBPP scored the measure, and came up with these five points: 1) Fail to require any deficit reduction and, in fact, invite higher deficits. 2) Cut individual income tax rates well below the already unaffordable Bush levels. 3) Slash the top corporate tax rate and eliminate taxes on foreign profits. 4) Not identify specific measures to broaden the tax base. 5) Not protect low- and moderate-income Americans. Bottom line: It explodes the deficit while increasing taxes on the masses. "The bills’ absence of a firm deficit-reduction requirement, combined with their requirements for costly and regressive tax rate cuts, illustrate the danger that the tax reform process could become a trap, producing legislation that boosts deficits, reduces tax code progressivity, and widens after-tax income inequality."

19 Democrats voted with the Republicans to protect the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Here is the list. One Republican defected from the ranks - Tim Johnson of Illinois, who is retiring this year.

Segregation by income is on the rise. While this has always been the norm to some extent, now more than ever the poor live with the poor, and the rich live with the rich, and never the two shall understand each other. "The analysis finds that 28% of lower-income households in 2010 were located in a majority lower-income census tract, up from 23% in 1980, and that 18% of upper- income households were located in a majority upper-income census tract, up from 9% in 1980.3." Segregation by race is still more prevalent though.

Lookit the Chevy Volt go. "Rival General Motors Co. said sales of its plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt rose again in July to 1,849, up over the 125 the company sold in July 2011 and over the 1,760 sold in June. For the first seven months, GM has sold 10,666 Volts, up 270 percent over the same period last year." The Golden State is key - 1 in 3 Volts are now sold in California.

Chuck Grassley to the rescue! The esteemed (cough) Senator from Iowa will defy Mitt Romney's plans and introduce an amendment to a Senate "tax extenders" (credits) bill to save the wind production tax credit. "The Senate Finance Committee today is scheduled to mark up the tax extenders package first announced Wednesday — but they’ve got more than 100 amendments to work through first. The deal included soon-to-expire tax credits for biofuels and energy efficiency, but left out the wind production tax credit. The PTC, though, will get a vote via two amendments from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the original author of the wind production tax credit." Huge battle over other extenders though - consevatives want to take out credits for other renewable energy measures, and again, this probably goes nowhere in the House, but stay tuned.

Iowa wind Republicans have some friends out there. Republicans from Colorado, home of turbine maker Vestas (who is threatening to layoff "most" of their Colorado employees), still want to see the wind tax credit extended. "Eight out of nine of Colorado’s Congressional delegation signed a letter to Congressional leadership in February urging the wind energy tax credit extension," and are more or less are standing by that. And oh look, Colorado is a highly-contested swing state too. How interesting.

The Fed will do nothing to help the economy, but they are "ready for action" if things don't improve. Thanks, Ben. You're a real pal.

The Obama campaign has a handy state map that shows you how Republicans have attacked women's health care and the right to choice across the nation over the past year or so. Pretty scary.

A coffee company in New York has a new brew that contains "200% more caffeine" than your average dark roast Arabica beans. Gonna haffa get me some of that.

And I'm off....