Thursday, November 29, 2012

Catnip 11/29/12: Happy Now?

happily7206

Not yet....

‘Fiscal cliff’ talks bogged down by dispute over cost of retirement programs: "Democrats complained that Republicans have yet to name their price for enacting legislation that would preserve tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans next year while raising revenue from the wealthiest 2 percent. Republicans, meanwhile, insisted that it is up to President Obama to offer a plan to restrain the cost of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — the government’s biggest and fastest-growing programs — in exchange for GOP concessions on taxes."

Dem leaders: Cuts to Medicare benefits off the table in deficit negotiations: "Democratic party leaders on Wednesday argued that they had already put Medicare cuts on the table in deficit talks, but they ruled out any reduction to benefits... "We're willing to talk and to put everything on the table for discussion — at least this Democrat is," Becerra said. "But the moment you want to privatize Social Security, or voucherize Medicare, or block-grant Medicaid — that's where you lose us. Because we want to strengthen those programs, not let them die on the vine."

CBO: Extending unemployment benefits could save 300,000 jobs next year. “It would cost $30 billion to extend the program for another year. But doing so could save 300,000 jobs by the end of 2013, compared with what would happen under current law…The two programs that are soon set to shrink are the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides up to 47 weeks of additional benefits (depending on a state's jobless rate) and the Extended Benefits program, which provides another 20 weeks to certain eligible workers.”

Medicaid expansion would benefit Hispanics. “Hispanics — one of Democrats’ key voting blocs — will be the biggest beneficiaries if President Obama’s healthcare law is fully implemented, the law’s supporters said Wednesday. Jennifer Ng'andu, director of the Health and Civil Rights Policy Project at the National Council of La Raza, said Hispanics would see the biggest gains in healthcare coverage if the law is fully implemented, meaning every state opts in to the optional Medicaid expansion.”

Senate Committee Considers Requiring Warrants For Access To Cloud Data: "Today the Senate Judiciary Committee debates major changes to federal agencies’ and law enforcement’s ability to access the content of digital communications by updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to require warrants for the first time for cloud data over 180 days old. Somewhat ironically, the ECPA changes are tied to legislation lobbied for by Netflix that would reduce the privacy of video viewing habits by requiring only one-time consent to share viewing history."

THE WAY TO WIN-"Obama's e-mail fundraising team tested hundreds of grabby subject lines: "The most successful-'Hey'- brought in millions of dollars," Bloomberg BusinessWeek's Josh Green reports. "The campaign would test multiple drafts and subject lines-often as many as 18 variations-before picking a winner to blast out to tens of millions of subscribers. 'When we saw something that really moved the dial, we would adopt it,' says Toby Fallsgraff, the campaign's e-mail director, who oversaw a staff of 20 writers ...It quickly became clear that a casual tone was usually most effective...A blockbuster in June simply read, 'I will be outspent.' According to testing data...that outperformed 17 other variants and raised more than $2.6 million. Another unexpected hit: profanity."

GALLUP-Ds, Rs DIVERGE ON CAPITALISM, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: "Democrats react significantly more positively to the term 'federal government' than they do to the term 'capitalism,' while the opposite is true for Republicans. But both Democrats and Republicans are highly positive about the terms 'small business,' 'free enterprise,' and 'entrepreneurs.' Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and Democrats and Democratic leaners also differ in how they react to the terms 'big business' and 'socialism.' Republicans are more positive about the former; Democrats are more positive about the latter."

Senate passes amendment keeping biofuel investments in defense bill: “The Senate approved an amendment to the defense authorization bill Wednesday that would restore the military's ability to invest in biofuels. Sen. Mark Udall's (D-Colo.) amendment, 2985, strikes Section 313 of the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 3254, which bars the military from purchasing biofuels that cost more than petroleum and from spending money to scale up biofuel refineries. Those supporting the amendment, which passed on a 62-37 vote, said it would save lives and money.”

DISTRIBUTED WIND LOBBIES ON HILL: Several members of the Distributed Wind Energy Association were on the Hill yesterday to push for an extension of a 30 percent of investment tax credit available to wind power that is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. The credit was included in a tax extenders package passed by the Senate Finance Committee earlier this year.

DAVID AXELROD will shave off his mustache on Dec. 7 on "Morning Joe" after the hosts helped him raise $1 million for his epilepsy charity.


Congrats to Axe, very cool thing he did. On with the day...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Catnip 11/28/12: The Fiscal Tunnel

barttunnel6882 

BART tunnel, lightened so you can see. These things are usually quite dark.
It's not a cliff, it's really a tunnel..

Can Obama change Washington ‘from the outside’? "A new Post poll out this morning confirms again that the public is on the side of Obama and Dems in this battle. Sixty percent of Americans favor raising taxes on incomes over $250,000. Sixty three percent of independents, 65 percent of moderates, and even 47 percent of conservatives, agree. By contrast, 67 percent of Americans oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age — as do 68 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of conservatives. And a plurality opposes reducing deductions — the preferred GOP approach. There is a widespread consensus that higher taxes on the rich must be part of any deficit solution, and that the core mission of major social programs and the safety net — and the social contract underlying them — should be left untouched for beneficiaries."

Democrats talk tough on entitlements in fiscal cliff debate: "Congressional Democrats are starting to draw a much tougher line on entitlements in the increasingly messy fiscal cliff talks, warning Republicans to keep their hands off Social Security and Medicare benefits. Democrats also say they’ll refuse to look at GOP calls to dramatically slash Medicaid. And for them to even entertain any changes to Medicare and Medicaid, they say the price is for Republicans to agree to far higher taxes than they have flirted with so far."

Boehner shoots down proposal to agree to Obama tax demand: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other top Republicans on Wednesday shot down a proposal by a senior GOP lawmaker that the House agree to President Obama’s demand to extend current tax rates for the middle class. “I told Tom earlier in our conference meeting that I disagreed with him,” Boehner told reporters after a closed-door meeting of the House Republican conference. “He’s a wonderful friend of mine and a great supporter of mine. But raising taxes on the so-called top 2 percent – half of those people are small business owners that pay their taxes through their personal income tax filing every year. The goal here is to grow the economy and to cut spending."

Romney, Obama to have lunch at the White House "Three weeks after facing defeat in his bid for the presidency, former GOP nominee Mitt Romney will head to the White House tomorrow for a private lunch with President Obama, according to the White House. The lunch, which will take place in the White House's Private Dining Room, will be the pair's first meeting since the election. There will be no press coverage."

Koch Bro's Americans for Prosperity release "Lame Duck Hunt," - lame duck Congress, get it? - a NES-themed politics game. (It makes you login in with Twitter or Facebook, and I didn't feel like doing that, so I await the reviews.)

BAD OPTICS IN WAR OVER WOMEN—HOUSE COMMITTEE CHAIRS ALL MEN: “Not a single woman will lead any of the major House committees in the 113th Congress,” Jake Sherman reports. “After a day of meetings closed to the public, the House Republican Steering Committee announced an all-male slate of committee chairs, including 12 returning lawmakers who will head up some of the most important panels in Washington…The top female contender to lead a major committee was Michigan Rep. Candice Miller, who lost a battle for the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee to Texas Rep. Mike McCaul… House Democrats are likely to have five women as ranking members.” Jake notes that there are women in leadership roles."

In case you wonder why Bowles and Simpson bother: they’re getting paid $80k a speech: “Theirs is an improbable buddy act that is making for unlikely entertainment from campuses to corporations on a most serious subject: the federal debt. The proof of their appeal: some business groups pay them $40,000 each per appearance. Really. To discuss budgets and baselines. Ladies and gentlemen, coming soon to your city or town (if they have not been there already, and maybe even if they have) are the latest odd couple of politics: the 67-year-old Democratic straight man, Erskine B. Bowles of Charlotte, N.C., and his corny 81-year-old, 6-foot-7 Republican sidekick, Alan K. Simpson of Cody, Wyo.”

Benefits expansion for domestic partners would have small impact on costs, CBO says. “Extending federal employee health insurance and retirement survivor benefits to same-sex domestic partners would have a relatively small impact on the number of people covered and on the cost of those programs, according to an analysis done for Congress…[L]egislation would be required to make those partners eligible for two of the most valuable benefits, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program coverage and standard retirement survivor annuities.”

Energy officials see little hope for climate talks. “Top International Energy Agency (IEA) officials offered a bleak assessment Tuesday of the prospects for global progress on preventing big temperature increases…But the agency's analysts also see a ray of light, noting that a more aggressive deployment of energy efficiency technologies could keep the door open to limiting the rise to 2 degrees for a few years longer.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Catnip 11/27/12: On The Carousel

caro7119


From Pier 39, Thanksgiving Day. 1000 px here. In honor of the new solar-powered carousel at the National Zoo in DC that features endangered species. Check out that story here.


A mish-mash of news:

Obama calls for new stimulus in the form of small-business tax breaks: "President Obama made a fresh call Tuesday for another round of economic stimulus, proposing to spend more than $25 billion to offer tax breaks to companies to hire workers or pay them higher salaries. The measure is Obama’s first proposal aimed at addressing the still-weak economy since his reelection and an acknowledgment that though it is no longer a political threat, the nation’s unemployment rate of 7.9 percent remains a significant problem.

Dems Defend Filibuster Reform Effort: ‘McConnell Has Broken The Social Contract’: "The changes Democrats are considering wouldn't eliminate the filibuster, and would thus preserve the Senate minority’s enormous power over legislative affairs. But the new rules, if adopted, would make it harder — possibly significantly harder — for the minority to successfully block legislation than it currently is. So it’s no surprise that GOP leaders are characterizing the plan as a fatal assault on the Senate minority’s rights."

GOP IMAGE PROBLEM: "53% hold an unfavorable view of the Republican Party; only 42% want to see congressional Republican have more influence than the president over the direction the nation takes in the next two years. And seven in ten say the GOP has not done enough to cooperate with Obama."

SCOTT WALKER CONFIDENT HE WON'T BE INDICTED: "Walker tells The Associated Press in a Monday interview that he is focused on putting together the next state budget and working as governor...Walker says he has talked with Ryan about pheasant hunting and going to Mass, but he has not talked with him about anything presidential. Walker says, 'I've worked far too hard to become the governor and governor again to worry about anything else after that.'" What's more, Walker said he is "absolutely" confident that he is not a subject of a criminal investigation involving former aides in his Milwaukee County office."

MEANWHILE-"THE GEORGE W. BUSH FOUNDATON received nearly $77 million last year from undisclosed donors ," according to today's Dallas Morning News. "That brings the foundation's five-year fundraising total to about $415 million, well beyond officials' stated goal of raising $300 million to build and launch the library, museum and George W. Bush Policy Institute on the Southern Methodist University campus. Mark Langdale, the foundation's president, said the haul would allow the building to be fully paid off when it opens in April and would secure the center's endowments created in connection with SMU and the National Archives and Records Administration. Now the focus turns to supporting and expanding the Bush Policy Institute, which already has a robust staff and programs in everything from global health to education reform to economic growth."

Tired of Service Cuts, California Cities Raise Taxes: "Have cities reached the limit when it comes to cutting services? That seems to be the case in California where voters passed 71 percent of local tax and bond measures, according to Michael Coleman, fiscal policy advisor for the League of California Cities. Dig a little deeper and you will find that 80 percent of city general tax measures passed on election night... While the high pass rate of local tax measures may seem natural in liberal state such as California, other more conservative localities in Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio passed a number of revenue measures, according to AP. But California stands out with 171 cities and counties passing tax and bond measures."

Cities and self-defense against climate change. ”As New York looks to the future after Hurricane Sandy, it must remember a great paradox of cities. The world's urban agglomerations are often particularly vulnerable to natural and man-made disaster, yet they are also especially well-suited to defend their space…Sea walls are expensive. One recent estimate is that they cost $35 million per mile and require maintenance that costs from 5 to 10 percent of that amount per year. At such a price, protecting the entire mid-Atlantic region would be prohibitively expensive, yet defending New York City would be affordable. A great wall running from Sandy Hook in New Jersey to the Far Rockaways would cost less than $500 million based on that estimate.”

What Could Disappear: "Maps show coastal and low-lying areas that would be permanently flooded, without engineered protection, in three levels of higher seas. Percentages are the portion of dry, habitable land within the city limits of places listed that would be permanently submerged."

America’s next top energy and EPA secretaries: “Among the names being bandied around for a possible successor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, we're hearing two a bit louder of late: former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and John Podesta, founder of the Center for American Progress…Another spot likely to open up is that of Environmental Protection Agency chief, with current top dog Lisa Jackson all but certain to step down. We're hearing that among the names mentioned to replace her, Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe is being touted by those who think his relatively cordial relationship with business and his position as a career staffer would make him much less of a lightening rod for criticism.”

The rise and fall of the American wind industry: ”Twenty years ago, it would have been difficult to find a single wind turbine looming over the hills and plains of the United States. Things have changed since then — and dramatically so. Thanks to a series of tax credits from Congress as well as ambitious state-level mandates, wind power has taken off…But now that rapid expansion is about to come to a halt, or at least slow down dramatically.”

Obamacare's Medicaid expansion will cost $808 billion. The price tag for states? $8 billion. ”States are now in the middle of determining whether to expand their Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation aims to help with that decision. The report finds that states are going to spend significantly more on Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act — but that the expansion accounts for a relatively small fraction of those costs.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Catnip 11/26/12: Saddle Up

oaklandblackcowboys1615

The Oakland Black Cowboy Association rides down 14th after a parade last October. 

 Vacation is over, get ready for some fiscal fun...

Sargent: Republicans whitewash history of filibuster: "Senator Cornyn claims reform will “shut down the Senate.” In reality, Republicans used the filibuster itself in an effort to effectively do just that, rendering the Upper Chamber dysfunctional to deny Obama bipartisan victories, pin the blame for ineffectual governance on him, and render him a one-term president. That Republicans adopted this goal is not in doubt. It has been publicly confirmed by Republican Senators themselves, including the Senate GOP leader. As Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann detailed in “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” no matter how many times you hear the claim that Dems also engage in such tactics, GOP obstructionism is, indeed, unprecedented, both in nature (the extensive tying up of routine Senate business) and scope (the dramatic rise in filibusters in recent years)."

CNN Poll: Two-thirds say fiscal cliff poses major problem: "Two-thirds of people questioned in a CNN/ORC International survey (PDF) say that the U.S. would face a crisis or major problems if the country went off the "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year, and if that happened, Republicans in Congress would probably receive the greater share of the blame." Hype works.

Krugman calls them out again: "So let’s step back for a minute, and consider what’s going on here. For years, deficit scolds have held Washington in thrall with warnings of an imminent debt crisis, even though investors, who continue to buy U.S. bonds, clearly believe that such a crisis won’t happen; economic analysis says that such a crisis can’t happen; and the historical record shows no examples bearing any resemblance to our current situation in which such a crisis actually did happen."

How the austerity crisis might hit the states, too. ”State revenue is dependent on the feds, with $1 in every $3 coming from federal grants in 2010. While Medicaid, one big source of federal dollars, is exempt from the automatic across-the-board spending reduction due to take effect in January, eighteen percent of federal grants to states will be subject to those cuts in FY 2013. On the tax side, the picture is murkier. Because many states link their tax codes to the federal law, if all of the tax cuts expire and revert to pre-2001 law, states could benefit when some elements are restored.”

The New York Times is starting a new online feature on Monday to follow the talks between President Obama and Congressional leaders. Bookmark if interested.

Lindsey Graham's reasonableness comes with fine print: "To be sure, Norquist's waning influence is a positive development, as is the larger shift in the debate -- Washington is no longer arguing whether to include more revenue in a debt-reduction deal, but how to include more revenue. But to characterize Graham's position as some kind of major concession is a mistake. Indeed, while the South Carolinian's position is ever-so-slightly more constructive than some House Republicans', the closer one looks at his approach, the less reasonable it appears. What he's proposing is Republicans to get what they want on both sides of the budget ledger."

Norquist says he'll go after pledge-breakers: "Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said Monday that his group, Americans for Tax Reform, would work to unseat Republicans who break their pledge to never vote for higher taxes." (This should effectively kill "pledges" from here on out. Who will sign one if all you get are these kinds of threats afterwards?)

CEO Council Demands Cuts To Poor, Elderly While Reaping Billions In Government Contracts, Tax Breaks: "During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council -- most visibly, Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell's David Cote -- have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly."

Republicans face unexpected challenges in coastal South amid shrinking white vote: "The pattern is markedly different in the five states that hug the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Florida, which together hold 82 of the South’s 160 electoral votes. A combination of a growing black population, urban expansion, oceanfront development and in-migration from other regions has opened up increasing opportunities for Democrats in those states. “Georgia is an achievable target for Democrats in 2016,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a frequent Obama surrogate during the campaign."

(My take - but back in the Midwest, Republicans picked up seats in state House/Senate races in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana - all states that were swept in the Tea Party wave of 2010. Voters gave the WI Senate back to Walker. Indiana elected crackpot Mike Pence. Only Minnesota turned back the R's. Are we seeing a gradual shift where the Midwest will be Republican, and the southern/western states start to turn Dem?)

ALEC and the Koch Brothers work to reverse renewable energy mandates in the states: "The Electricity Freedom Act, adopted by the council’s board of directors in October, would repeal state standards requiring utilities to get a portion of their electricity from renewable power, calling it “essentially a tax on consumers of electricity.” Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have binding renewable standards; in the absence of federal climate legislation, these initiatives have become the subject of intense political battles."

Fire Kills 112 Workers Making Clothes for US Brands - Namely Wal-Mart: "The 100-plus workers who died in a fire late Saturday at a high-rise garment factory in Bangladesh were working overtime making clothes for major American retailers, including Wal-Mart, according to workers' rights groups... The Tazreen fire is the latest in a series of deadly blazes at garment factories in Bangladesh, where more than 700 workers, many making clothes for U.S. consumers, have died in factory fires in the past five years. As previously reported by ABC News, Bangladesh has some of the cheapest labor in the world and some of the most deplorable working conditions."

Human Rights Campaign launches new marriage equality ad with Morgan Freeman: "Actor Morgan Freeman narrates the new Human Rights Campaign spot, which draws parallels to the civil rights movement and the fight for women’s suffrage. The ad lauds the Nov. 6 victories and says the results emboldened gay rights advocates to press onward across the country. “With historic victories for marriage, we’ve delivered a mandate for full equality. The wind is at our back, but our journey has just begun,” Freeman says in the commercial."

Annnnnnd they're off...


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pelican Flight

pelicanflight5201


I'm fascinated by pelicans simply because you don't see them in Michigan and they are everywhere out here, and for the most part they are HUGE. National Geo says they have a body of nearly 6 ft and a wingspan of 10 ft; that sounds about right. It gets your attention. 

 Watching them fish is really something. They circle above the water until they spot a fish, and then abruptly dive straight down, sometimes spinning in like a small aircraft shot out of the sky. Not much grace in the act, but it works for them. 

 Here's a shot of one I happened to catch in flight at Lake Merritt.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Occupy Thanks

occupythanks6870

Occupy Oakland feeds the masses on Thanksgiving Day. Had a really nice spread too: Veggies and rolls, tables set up, sidewalk chalk for the kids to play with... very nice gesture from a group that has taken some pretty bad local press over this year. 

 Take note, media. It's not all anarchy and protests; good things are happening too.


Embarcadero Holiday Lights

embarcaderolights7158

They light up the buildings for the holidays. 1000 px here

 Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Pop

sfpan2 

 I give you the city of San Francisco and beyond. 

 Get on the big computer, and check out this size. It's going to take some scrolling. Some of the seams didn't work out too well, but I'm tired of sitting at the computer so this is what you get. ;-) 

 Hope you have a very happy birthday - love you and miss you everyday!


Jonestown

jonestownmemorial6658

People so casually toss around the term "drink the Kool-aid" nowadays. When it comes from younger folks, I have to stop and wonder if they really understand where and how the term originated.
Wilson and others attend annual memorial services at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, where 407 Jonestown victims, mostly children, are buried in a mass grave. 
The bodies were so badly decomposed when they arrived at Dover Air Force base in 1978 that they could not be identified. It was the only cemetery to accept the unidentified remains of Jonestown victims. 
"People were afraid of contagions from the decomposing bodies and the impurity of the cult, believing they died a shameful death," Moore said.

The granite slabs with the names of the victims were installed just last year - almost 33 years after the tragedy. Including the name of Jim Jones sparked a huge controversy; that was apparent at today's sparsely attended ceremony, as one speaker repeatedly decried the inclusion of the man that took these lives. When the speech became more about that than the memorial, the obvious fear and anger still raw in this woman's words, I took my yellow rose and headed out.

There are 305 children here. It is for them that I post this, in honor and memory of that time, now so long ago.

jonestownmemorial6655


Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Positive Drones

The upside to the machine.
As Hurricane Sandy battered the Northeast, power outages wreaked havoc on telecommunications networks, knocking out wireless service for thousands of cell phone users. If a future hurricane triggers similar failures, regulators say they have a potential solution. 
It has the hallmarks of science fiction: floating wireless antennas from balloons or drones. 
The Federal Communications Commission is exploring the use of such airborne technology to restore communications after disasters. Beaming 3G or Wi-Fi signals from the sky may be especially useful to emergency responders in the immediate aftermath of a hurricane, when repair crews are unable reach damaged equipment because roads and bridges are impassible, experts said.
Have a solar charger for your cellphone/laptop, and waa-laa, you are back in business.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nancy

 

 Punked us pretty good, didn't she? 

 Love what she has to say here, very inspiring. And love the fact that she is going to be around to "elect more women" and celebrate the diversity of the new House Democratic Caucus.

Go get 'em.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Catnip 11/12/12: Awaiting the Future

stinsonbeach7135
Stinson Beach. See? It's not all rocks and mountains along the coast...

Notes on this holiday:

Occupy Wall Street Activists Buy-Up Debt to Abolish It: "Occupy activists have lately been in the business of transforming philosophical debates about class inequality and government corruption into real, tangible solutions. This month alone, activists have been praised for their work in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in which it was oftentimes Occupy activists — not the Red Cross, U.S. military, or FEMA — helping to dispense aid to devastated communities. Now, it is Occupy activists who plan to buy-up debt and help some individuals who have long suffered under the crushing weight of debt."

Clean energy jobs vs a budget battle with a TABOR law: "WA Gov - elect Jay Inslee had started putting together a transition team for his administration, and Friday's concession means he can push ahead faster with that process. The Democrat vowed to make job creation the No. 1 priority for state government, touting the state's passion for innovation as the "secret sauce" that would lead to growth of industries like clean energy and bioech.... There's a roughly $1 billion hole in the state budget that has to be filled, and at least another $1 billion needed to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling requiring increased education funding. The state also needs to find millions more to help maintain the state's highways and ferry system. Yet, while the pressure builds to find more money, Inslee and the Legislature will have to grapple with Tim Eyman's Initiative 1185, which requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate to increase taxes. That's proven to be a near impossibility politically."

The GOP is no party for blacks, Latinos and gays:"What many Republican leaders fail to understand is that the party is leaving votes on the table that could be theirs. Votes they once were able to attract before they became viewed as a collection of mean, monochromatic and reactionary people clinging to Ronald Reagan’s America instead of coming to terms with, if not embracing, the vibrant nation we live in today. Romney snatched 6 percent of the African American vote away from Obama. That was 2 percent better than Sen. John McCain attracted in 2008. But Romney has nothing on the late President Richard Nixon, who got 18 percent of the black vote in 1972. No Republican has matched that level of support since."

GOP'S WOMAN PROBLEM SURFACES IN HOUSE LEADERSHIP ELECTIONS: "The GOP's problems with women - laid bare by last week's elections - is the main undertone in the battle for head of the Homeland Security Committee between Reps. Mike Rogers of Alabama and Candice Miller of Michigan," Jake Sherman reports. "That race, combined with the contest for head of the Republican Conference, is becoming a proxy for a larger discussion about a dearth of Republican women in power in the House. To a person, key Republicans privately concede that Rogers has done everything right to become chairman. The same people also say Miller is likely to get the gavel. If so, she would be the only woman to chair a committee."

BUT...THEY STRENGTHENED THEIR SOUTHERN HEGEMONY: "In Bibb County, Ala., on Tuesday, a Democrat named Walter Sansing was in a race for county commissioner against a Republican named Charles Beasley, who was on the ballot despite the inconvenience of having died several weeks earlier. Mr. Beasley won," Campbell Robertson writes on A16 of today's New York Times. "For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans took over the Arkansas legislature, and won the state's last United States House of Representatives seat held by a Democrat. North Carolina elected a Republican governor and took over at least three Congressional seats. The last Democrat in a statewide office in Alabama was defeated. In most Southern states, the margins of victory for Romney were even larger than the lopsided margins for John McCain four years ago."

Seven House races still unresolved: "The balance of power in the House now stands at 234 Republicans and 195 Democrats, with 6 races undecided. One other race, in Louisiana, is headed to a run-off between two Republican incumbents, meaning the outcome won't affect the chamber's power balance. Before the election, Republicans held 242 seats and Democrats had 193, meaning at the very least, Democrats will gain at least 2 seats. If they win all 6 of the unresolved races, they'll walk away from the 2012 election with a net gain of 8 seats."

2014 - GOP GETS THIRD CHANCE FOR SENATE TAKEOVER: "Twenty Senate Democrats will have to defend their seats that year, while just 13 Republicans will be up for reelection," Dave Catanese reports. "At least six of the Democrats represent red states - places like Arkansas, Louisiana and South Dakota - and are seen as ripe GOP pickings. Retirements could expand the map for the party. Still, Republicans will need almost everything to break in their favor to pick up the half-dozen seats needed to take back the Senate. It's certainly possible but a long shot. After all, we've seen this script before and know how it ended: with bloody Republican primaries that yielded weak, self-immolating or unelectable nominees. "

Sunday, November 11, 2012

For Veterans Day

vietvetssac1205_6852
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Sacramento

A reminder of the Road Not Taken on this Veterans Day.
Interviews I conducted with New Hampshire voters last month reveal the political liabilities of telling potential Republican voters exactly what the Romney-Ryan ticket intends to cut. Two voters, both Republicans, told me they could not bring themselves to vote for their party this year because the Ryan budget cuts spending for veterans’ benefits. 
In an interview days after Romney announced on a Saturday that he had picked Ryan, George Lemieux said, “Based on what Romney did this weekend, I would not vote for him.” Lemieux, a 67-year-old Vietnam War veteran who spent 26 years in the Army, declared that “Ryan wants to decimate Medicare; he wants to decimate the V.A. I have a brother who is dependent on V.A. disability, and he wants to cut it out entirely.” 
“The Ryan budget will kill everybody,” said Aura-Lee Nicodemus, another woman I met, who works at the V.A. Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt. and is active in the advocacy organization, Disabled American Veterans. “I’m a registered Republican and I can’t vote for Romney. His actions speak louder than words.”

And instead, progress will continue.
An upcoming report is expected to show the number of homeless veterans has dropped by at least 15,000 since 2009, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki says, and the drop is the result of an aggressive two-pronged strategy to not only take veterans off the street but also prevent new ones from ending up there... 
Of the country's 22 million veterans, an estimated 75,609 were homeless in 2009 when Shinseki announced the campaign. Veterans make up 14% of the U.S. homeless population... 
The number of homeless veterans dropped 12% between 2010 and 2011 to 67,497. It's expected to fall below 60,000 when this year's count is released in the coming weeks, Shinseki says... 
The VA spent $9.5 billion in the 2011 and 2012 budget years and is proposing to spend another $11.9 billion in the next two years — meaning the overall cost would be $21.5 billion by September 2014.

President Obama promised to make good on his promise to work towards more educational opportunities for veterans, and to deal with the backlog at the VA, among other things.

Something sure to happen - if the House Republicans know what's good for them.


spanishwarvets1228_6875
Spanish War Memorial Sacramento

Leftovers

bbpelican6280

1000 px. Big birds everywhere rejoice.

Leftover notes that I want to keep handy:

DONORS WANT TO KNOW HOW OBAMA COULD HAVE WON: "Karl Rove's Crossroads outfit is holding a phone call for its big donors Thursday to sum up the race, said Stan Hubbard, a Minnesota media mogul and mega-donor. 'Obviously, somebody made a mistake and didn't do things right. There's no question about that,' he said," per Ken Vogel. " Romney and his allies spent $1.2 billion on the race, compared with $1 billion spent by Obama and his allies, according to a POLITICO analysis of records on Federal Election Commission data and public statements. Nearly 40 percent of Team Romney's spending came from super PACs and other unlimited outside money groups, compared with about 12 percent for Team Obama."

Republicans To Obama On Taxes: Let’s Compromise By Not Raising Taxes It’s a big ask, given the results of the election, and Obama’s long-standing pledge to veto legislation that extends all of the Bush tax cuts, even temporarily. Thus, their hopes rest on a vague suggestion that they’ll concede higher revenues in a future tax reform agreement with Obama, so long as he drops his demands for higher tax rates and agrees to cut entitlement spending. This sounds familiar because it’s broadly speaking the same deficit cutting deal Republicans spent most of this past Congress pursuing — one that raises little, if any revenue, let alone revenue from high earners. And early signs indicate that Democrats won’t bite.

House Majority Leader Already Taking Debt Limit Hostage For Spending Cuts At the time, Republicans demanded spending cuts equivalent to the amount the debt ceiling would be increased; while they didn’t get that, they did receive cuts that cost about one million jobs and lowered economic output by about 2 percent. Now, with another debt ceiling increase necessary in early 2013, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) isalready taking it hostage again, demanding entitlement cuts in return for ensuring that the nation doesn’t default on its debt.

PAUL RYAN MUST NAVIGATE CAREFUL PATH: "Ryan has an incentive to remain a purist - even after his vice presidential loss, the Wisconsin Republican remains an icon in the conservative movement, and at just 42, has a bright future in the party," John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman report. "John Boehner, by contrast, has to deal with the grind-it-out realities of legislating and determine if he can cut a major fiscal deal with an even more liberal Democratic Senate and an triumphant President Barack Obama, who believes he has a second term mandate to force the kind of budget deal he wants, including raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Republicans say any budget deal Boehner tries to reach will still need Ryan's imprimatur."

So do tax hikes on the rich happen next? ”Does Obama's win last night mean tax hikes for the rich are on their way? That's what leading Democrats and liberal supporters of the president are saying this morning: The president and victorious congressional Democrats campaigned heavily on raising taxes on the wealthy, and voters approved of that message, so Democrats should strengthen their push to let the Bush cuts for upper-income households expire, they say…Not so fast, says the business community. On a conference call Wednesday morning, leading industry lobbyists said that the president's mandate was to demonstrate leadership by being willing to work with the opposition, rather than draw a line in the sand on Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.”

YGLESIAS: Actually, the GOP’s problems run deeper than that. ”Pundits are quickly turning to immigration to explain the Republicans' Latino problem and to offer a possible cure, but the reality is that the rot cuts much deeper. The GOP doesn't have a problem with Latino voters per se. Rather, it has a problem with a broad spectrum of voters who simply don't feel that it's speaking to their economic concerns. The GOP has an economic agenda tilted strongly to the benefit of elites, and it has preserved support for that agenda — even though it disserves the majority of GOP voters — with implicit racial politics.”

Analysis: 20 states will run their health-law exchanges. ”Twenty states will operate their own insurance exchanges in 2014 under President Obama’s healthcare law, according to a new analysis. Avalere Health released its estimate after Obama won a second term on Tuesday, a victory that all but ensures the Affordable Care Act’s future. Governors have a choice as to whether to implement the law’s exchanges or leave the task to the federal government. A third option is a ‘partnership’ model in which the state and federal government jointly manage the marketplace. According to Avalere, 13 states are likely to use the partnership model, while more than a third will default to a federally run exchange.”

Cantor wants to get rid of Medicare advisory board. ”House Republicans will take aim at President Obama’s divisive Medicare cost-cutting board during the new Congress, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) wrote Wednesday…IPAB is tasked with cutting Medicare reimbursement rates when the program’s per-person spending becomes too great. Conservatives have long argued that the 15-member panel will bring about de facto rationing as Medicare providers limit their services in response to cuts.”

U.S. trade commission upholds solar-panel tariffs. ”When the United States International Trade Commission decided on Wednesday to uphold tariffs of about 24 to 36 percent on most solar panels imported from China, the case's proponents claimed a major victory. Domestic solar manufacturers said the duties, to be in place for five years, would make up for unfair business practices by Chinese companies that had harmed the domestic market and allow homegrown companies to hire more workers and thrive…The Commerce Department had imposed the tariffs earlier this year after finding that Chinese solar companies had received unfair subsidies from their government and dumped solar cells below costs. But whether the duties can help save the American solar industry is a matter of some dispute.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Over? Did you say over?


"On Tuesday, America went to the polls. And the message you sent was clear: you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours." 

 Translation: Mandate. Followed by a line in the sand on the tax cuts. 

 It's never over. Greg Sargent indicates that labor is ready to back this play with ad money and pressure on Dems if necessary, so let's get to it...



Friday, November 09, 2012

Where the Koch Brothers Won

The billionaire Koch Brothers may not have succeeded at their attempt to buy the Oval Office, but don't overlook one important gain they did make - the state of Arkansas. Democrats there had controlled the state legislature since 1874. The Kochs went on a blitz of bus tours and advertising...
Republicans need to flip just a handful of those spots to turn the chambers red for the first time since the end of the Civil War. If they succeed, it will be another death knell for Southern Democrats and perhaps the beginning of a new Solid South — of the 11 states that made up the Confederacy, only Arkansas still has a Democratic chamber. 
Using a bus tour across the state, AFP is making its case for smaller government. It is fighting tax increases and curbs on development and is leading the charge against the creation of a state health insurance exchange, a key part of President Obama’s health-care law.
... and took just enough seats to turn the chamber into their playground.
Republicans assumed control of both chambers of the Arkansas Legislature on Thursday after delayed election returns showed the party winning a 51st seat in the House, as the GOP transitioned into its newly minted role as the majority party in the state Senate. ... 
The advantage Republicans have in shaping policy next year was clear as the Senate set committee assignments. The GOP holds a majority of seats on all but two of the Senate's top committees. The Public Health Committee, which will play a key role in Medicaid discussions, was split evenly between parties. Republicans hold a majority of seats on the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, which will likely hear a proposal by Beebe to further reduce the grocery tax and other tax cut ideas.
They did the same in Kansas this year, challenging eight moderate Republicans in the primaries. Those Republicans were a firewall against massive cuts to schools and health care. The Koch money took them all out with smear campaigns, giving Republican Governor Sam Brownback his dream legislature that will drastically slash state services.

Overall, the Koch's pumped an estimated $100 million in local races in 35 states - everything from Walker's recall election to the bridge in Michigan to who knows how many other pet projects, their influence is shaping the country to their liking from the ground up.

The big money goes a lot farther at the local level. You have to stop and ask yourself: How many of our legislators do they already own?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Monday, November 05, 2012

Anticipation

calibama9690


Morning Notes:

A voting debacle in Doral causes chaos and confusion: "On the surface, officials blamed technical equipment and a lack of staff for the shutdown. But behind the scenes, there was another issue: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The Republican had never signed off on the additional in-person absentee voting hours in the first place... Early voting the Sunday before Election Day used to be allowed. But it was eliminated by the GOP-controlled state Legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Scott last year after Barack Obama used early voting to help him win Florida in 2008 — and therefore the presidency. Gimenez said his initial reaction was to stop the last-minute Sunday voting."

Voters Asked to Make Up Local Revenues States Stopped Providing: "Local governments in Ohio have taken tremendous fiscal hits in recent years and now many are resorting to the ballot box to close their budget gaps. Next week Ohio voters will be voting on 194 school levies, including 123 for additional funding. According to the Columbus Dispatch this is “the highest percentage of new tax issues in a general election in at least the past decade.” Recently, the state cut aid to local governments from by more than a billion dollars and then eliminated the state’s estate tax, a key revenue source for cities and towns which brought in $230 million to local government coffers in 2010, for example."

Did Hurricane Sandy Blow Romney Off Course? : "When the hurricane made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, Mr. Obama’s chances of winning re-election were 73 percent in the FiveThirtyEight forecast. Since then, his chances have risen to 86 percent, close to his highs on the year. But, while the storm and the response to it may account for some of Mr. Obama’s gains, it assuredly does not reflect the whole of the story. Mr. Obama had already been rebounding in the polls, slowly but steadily, from his lows in early October — in contrast to a common narrative in the news media that contended, without much evidence, that Mr. Romney still had the momentum in the race."

Sandy Versus Katrina: "The fact is that if Mr. Romney had been president these past four years the federal response to disasters of all kinds would have been far weaker than it was. There would have been no auto bailout, because Mr. Romney opposed the federal financing that was crucial to the rescue. And FEMA would have remained mired in Bush-era incompetence."

DOE SETS UP TEAM TO DEAL WITH GAS STATION LINES: With miles-long lines creeping toward gas stations in Sandy-hit areas still flooding news channels, the Energy Department has created a team "to assist local authorities in their efforts to get help get gas stations back online," according to DOE. Gas station operators along the East Coast can call 1-866-402-3775 to report on their condition, and DOE will coordinate with FEMA on backup generators and fuel inventory.

Conservatives Conspire to Keep Carbon Economy of 1896: "This time, the emerging economy is built on knowledge-based innovation, and Obama and his wing of the Democratic Party are its torchbearers. The old economy, on the defensive, is centralized and reliant on banks, commodities and fossil fuels. Romney and the Republicans are its rear guard."

Big Coal in big trouble as coal production costs rise: "What is driving the decline of the U.S. coal industry? Most of the blame has gone either to Obama’s “war on coal” (EPA regulations) or to cheap natural gas. But there’s a third factor at work, which has gotten much less press: Coal is getting more expensive to produce. Why? First, the easiest-to-reach coal has been mined, which means coal companies have to dig deeper and go after thinner seams and smaller deposits. That costs more, in both energy and money. And second, transportation costs, mainly the cost of the diesel fuel that runs the trains that carry the coal, are rising."

Can a ‘post-truth’ candidate be elected president?: "And let’s throw Romney’s “47 percent” comments into the mix. Within 48 hours, we may find out whether it’s possible to get elected president after advancing a set of policy proposals that amount to a sham; after openly refusing to share basic governing intentions until after the election; after shifting positions relentlessly on virtually every issue the campaign has touched upon, including the one (health care) that once was seen as central to his case for national office; after refusing to share the most basic info about his own massive fortune and about the mega-bundlers that are fueling his enormous campaign expenditures; and after writing off nearly half the nation as freeloaders."

What We Already Know: The Truth: "If Romney wins Ohio, every campaign in future elections is going to give much more serious consideration to lying and to open defiance of media rebuttals as a legitimate campaign expedient.

The Democrats look highly unlikely to retake the House: ”Nancy Pelosi has spent much of the past two years proclaiming that Democrats had a great shot at reclaiming the House and returning the speaker's gavel to her hands. But her drive to regain the majority for Democrats is on the verge of a complete collapse. Democrats are expected to pick up five seats at best -- a fraction of the 25 they need. On the eve of the election, some party officials are privately worried that Democrats might even lose ground and drop one or two seats to the Republican majority."

Facing an Election Night Clamor: "The same precautions that were put in place after 2000 will be in place again this Tuesday. At NBC, for instance, the statisticians at the “decision desk” that makes projections “are literally sealed off from the rest of us,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, the senior vice president of specials for NBC News. Different this time will be the level of noise on the Web, where armchair and professional pundits alike will react to the election results in real time. On election night in 2008, a few Web sites, including Slate and Time.com, stated the obvious — that Barack Obama was going to win the presidency — well before the TV networks and major newspapers said so. In large part that’s because the networks and newspapers were waiting for the polls to close on the West Coast."


A Clear Choice Indeed

calibama4220

One of the first pictures I took out here, a few days after I landed last January.


Bottom line: No-brainer, actually.

One candidate has presented moderate, sensible, and concrete plans to keep our recovery and country moving forward, the other has made vague promises that either lack detail or don’t add up, or has professed policy that would take America backward in many areas. And he lies constantly. Let's just get that out of the way. That should be enough, but in case you missed the policy behind all the obfuscation, here's a brief nutshell. Need more, check out the AP breakdown.

A bunch of links I've been saving up:

Tax plans and economy: Under President Obama, upper income earners, who captured 93% of the income growth in 2010, will be asked to pay their fare share. The deficit has fallen $238 billion this year thanks to lower government spending and higher corporate tax receipts, and the President has put forth a balanced approach that continues to invest in key areas that will grow our recovery. We have had 13 consecutive quarters of GDP growth, 31 consecutive months of private sector job growth, and have gained an estimated 5.4 million jobs back since the Great Recession.

Though he has denied it, there is no getting around the fact that Romney’s tax plan constitutes a major tax cut for the wealthy. Experts agree that there is no way his math can add up; the plan will either explode the deficit, or he will raise taxes on the middle class. That’s the bottom line. His claim that he will create 12 million jobs has been deemed a Four Pinocchio falsehood from the Washington Post as well as others. Romney does not have a plausible plan for either balancing the budget or growing our economy, period.

President Obama will use tax incentives to reward companies that bring jobs back to America, Romney would exacerbate the tax policies that encouraging outsourcing, such as eliminating the tax on foreign profits. And although he has talks tough on China now, the reality is that he has profited greatly from outsourcing jobs. If he were to label the country a currency manipulator, a trade war may ensue that would raise prices for the American consumer.

Health care: Obamacare will continue to lower the ranks of the uninsured. When the law is fully in effect, an estimated 92 percent of our citizens will have coverage, as compared to 81 percent now. Obamacare will lower the deficit by $84 billion according to the last report from the CBO. If the law is repealed by a Republican administration, the deficit will grow by $109 billion by 2022. The number of uninsured Americans dropped by 1.3 million last year thanks to health care reforms, and the rate of growth in Medicaid has slowed to 2% thanks to the improving economy.

Romney has not detailed a coherent health care plan, except to embrace the ever-changing Ryan budget that turns Medicare into Vouchercare, a move that the Kaiser Family Foundation has reviewed and found that the costs to seniors will rise faster than the amount of coverage. The plan, when detailed, is very unpopular. Romney has flip-flopped on pre-existing conditions repeatedly; his stump speech says they are covered, while his campaign says they are not. The American Enterprise Institute has concluded that 36 million Americans will be at risk of denied coverage if Romney’s real plans were implemented.

But the real problem with Romney’s health care plan will be Paul Ryan’s 38% cut to Medicaid, which will cause the states to slash over 37 million recipients – mostly poor children, seniors in nursing homes, and pregnant mothers - from health care, according to the Urban Institute. Those citizens would be forced back to increasingly expensive emergency care that will raise insurance premiums for all.

Social policy: President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Act, guaranteeing fair pay for women. Romney to this day still will not clarify whether he supports that or not. President Obama believes in a women’s right to choice and keeping the government out of the doctor’s office when it comes to health care decisions. The President is also for equal marriage and employment rights for LGBT Americans.

Romney will cut funding for Planned Parenthood, ending contraception services and health care screenings for millions of women. His recent pivot to the center on abortion is a ruse; he wants to see Roe overturned, and surely would appoint judges that will do so. The Ryan budget, with its cuts Medicaid, food assistance, and other programs for vulnerable citizens, would affect mostly female recipients such as single parents and the elderly. Romney has said he would support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Energy and environment: President Obama believes in a balanced approach to our energy consumption that gradually moves us away from fossil fuels into the clean energy jobs that will power our future. Our dependence on foreign oil has fallen thanks to new fuel standards on autos and increased domestic drilling, and the Administration has moved America into 2nd place in the global investment race in renewable energy.

Romney will stop incentives for wind and other renewable energy jobs while continuing tax preferences for oil production. Romney has repeatedly promised consumers that the Keystone project would lower gas prices; this is untrue, as that oil would be subject to global pricing demands. Romney would let oil companies’ lease and drill on publicly held federal land privatizing those profits at the expense of the taxpayer. Romney would also roll back environmental protections, leaving our air and water at risk.

A fossil-fuel dependent approach to our energy consumption leaves our economy vulnerable to the whims of the oil market, and is contributing to man-made causes of climate change. Global investment in renewable energy reached a record in 2012, the United States should be a leader on the path to clean energy use and manufacturing; the Romney plan would concede that growth and those jobs to other countries.

Education: President Obama has doubled the amount of funding for Pell Grants to help students pay for college. He will not reduce eligibility, and will retain increases for inflation and rising tuition costs. The President also wants to increase funding to K-12 education.

The Ryan budget will eliminate 1 million students from receiving Pell Grants, according to a report from the Education Trust. Remaining students would see lower funding and increased eligibility measures. Education Secretary Arne Duncan testified before Congress that the Ryan budget would slash billions from Title 1 and special education funding, and would remove thousands of children from Head Start and other school-readiness programs. The budget presumes a cut of $115 billion to education over ten years according to the Associated Press.

Foreign Policy and Defense: President Obama has ended the Iraq War and has plans to draw down in Afghanistan, while bringing Osama bin Laden and other terrorists to justice. Romney has adopted a “me too” policy as of late to appear moderate and diplomatic – but in fact, he has presented a Cold War mentality and bluster that would see the United States return to the days of Bush, a time when we were distrusted and disliked in the international community. He proposes to increase defense spending – when the Pentagon has not asked for it, and the Untied States already spends more on our military than the next 13 countries combined.

Romney will not be allowed to govern from the center. With a radical House Republican agenda, he will always be beholden to the extremists that control the Party. The tax cuts for the wealthy will happen, the investment in our country and people - meaning health care, education, environment and infrastructure - will stop. Businesses don’t hire out of magical “confidence”, they hire out of demand, and Romney’s economic plans will pull demand from the economy and surely send us on a path back to recession.

Romney would have you believe that returning to Bush economics will somehow be different this time, without one shred of evidence to back up his claims. Don’t be fooled again.

President Obama took a country that was in total freefall from Republican policies and turned it around. We are on the path to more jobs, increased health care coverage, a better environment, and a nation that treats its citizens equally and gives everyone the opportunity for prosperity.

We are on our way. It sure would be to our shame to turn back now.

Vote accordingly.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Got Justices?

calibama9117


It's the court, stupid.

 
"There appears to me to be no ambiguity for progressives on the importance of the president's reelection with regard to the Supreme Court. A loss by President Obama in November would be disastrous for progressives in terms of the Court. Justice Ginsberg is a strong risk to retire. Justice Breyer is 74. If there are vacancies in the Supreme Court, President Obama will appoint much more progressive justices than will Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee. This issue is as clear as any before us. Add to that the appointment of judges at the appellate and trial level, for many, if not most, progressives, I would hope that this issue alone could persuade regarding the urgency of supporting the president's reelection."

It's an issue that didn't receive enough attention during this campaign, unfortunate because people need to be made aware of the ultimate results behind someone who said, "I would have favored justices like Roberts and Alito, Scalia and Thomas.” 

You think about that. And then go vote.

Right now if you can.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Calibama

calibama1739

Pretty sure they sent the entire Oakland office to Nevada. 

 Vote yet?

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Final Countdown

sunsetmarin9481


Sunset over Marin. 1000 px.


Vote yet? Some good reads to help you along...

The Republican Rejection of a Green Future: "It is easy to understand what motivates the coal and oil industries and the Koch brothers. The mystery is why Romney and his party have tied themselves to the wrong side of history. The last time the U.S. went through this kind of struggle between the old and new economy -- when the emerging national economy of railroads, banks and manufacturing challenged the localized agrarian economy of farmers and small towns in the 1870s and 1880s -- the past lost. Much of big business -- from General Motors Co. to General Electric Co. -- is solidly on the side of the future this time."

The Blackmail Caucus: "So we shouldn't worry about the ability of a re-elected Obama to get things done. On the other hand, it’s reasonable to worry that Republicans will do their best to make America ungovernable during a second Obama term. After all, they have been doing that ever since Mr. Obama took office."

On Health Care, Romney Is the Radical: "Notice a theme here? For every program and for every group of people, Romney seeks to ratchet back the protection that exists. Seniors wouldn’t have the guarantee of benefits Medicare now provides. The poor wouldn’t be sure they’d have access to Medicaid as they do now. Working people couldn’t depend on the same level or availability of private insurance. Relative to what most people experience today, let alone relative to what most people will experience tomorrow under Obamacare, they’d have less protection from medical bills—and, as a result, less access to care. As Ed Kilgore aptly put it a few months ago, it's "repeal and reverse."

The tax report Senate Republicans don’t want you to see" "CRS’s analysis is fairly simple, and not even all that new. They note that at many points in the 20th century, America had much higher top marginal tax rates than we do now. So they ran some regressions and marshaled some research in order to see if they could detect any evident relationship between high tax rates and growth, productivity, income inequality, or other key economic indicators. The answer? Not really."

Economic data show more growth under Democrats" "But despite the view held by many that the GOP is the party of economic prosperity and soaring stock markets, the opposite has historically been true. Over the past six decades, Republican administrations have produced median economic growth of 2.6 percent. Democratic administrations, meanwhile, have produced a median growth rate of 4.2 percent."

OH: Romney Fate Is Hamilton County as Obama Angst Vies With Unknown: "This is the grind-it-out reality for the Obama and Romney forces as Nov. 6 Election Day approaches in Hamilton County, the third-largest in the state. Former President George W. Bush carried the county by a little more than 20,000 votes in 2004 and Obama won in 2008 by just under 30,000 -- making it the epicenter of a state that may decide the presidential election. Both campaigns are grappling for advantage in turning out supporters and appealing to the sliver of voters who are still undecided and may hold the key to victory -- both here and in the national election."

Nightmare scenario: The election night that might not end: "Take the critical battleground state of Ohio for instance. In that state, people can vote absentee or in person. But if you request an absentee ballot and still show up on election day at your polling station, you get what's known as a 'provisional ballot.' Now, analysts may call results earlier if the margin between the winner and the loser in that state is greater than the number of provisional ballots cast. But if it's not … and there is a very narrow margin of difference, we will all have to wait for the provisional ballots to be counted. And according to Ohio law, that counting cannot commence before November 17."

Ballot Proposals: State Voters to Decide on Food Labeling, Green Infrastructure, Renewable Energy"Voters in several states will be casting ballots Nov. 6 on a variety of environmental and energy issues both at the state and local levels, including labeling of genetically modified foods and financing of green infrastructure and alternative energy projects."

Federal court exempts Mich. company from contraception mandate: "The Michigan ruling is a narrow one, applicable only to the one company. It does not bar the Health and Human Services Department from implementing the policy nationwide, but it's nevertheless a small win for social conservatives who say the contraception policy violates the First Amendment. The Michigan case was filed by the owner of Weingartz Supply, a family-owned business that does not provide contraception in its health plan because of the owner's Catholic faith."

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Welcome to November

pointreyes6813


Another of the Point Reyes light. 1000 px

No time this morning, gotta run...