I more or less skimmed over this New York Times story today about corporate lobbyists whining about supposedly onerous rules that the Obama Administration was trying to implement concerning their activities, and it made me recall this Brave New Films clip from Bernie Sanders from a couple of years ago (and by the way, the High Court of Hangin? Judge JR upheld the Austin campaign finance decision in Michigan, though that did not one bit of good because it was overturned by the horrendous Citizens United ruling ? and yes, Chris Van Hollen and Jim Moran truly make me want to gag for reasons noted in the Times story)...
...and this is pretty much what I think of the complaints from the lobbyists (like to see these cretins get ?tuned up? in a similar fashion as depicted in this video)
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Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers working for a better Texas. Every Texan and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, [...]
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Happy Saturday night, folks! It's Blue Gal from The Professional Left Podcast, bringing you this week's podcast round up. Be aware that these podcasts are also available on i-Tunes, and may not be safe for work.
Bob and Chez: Keith Olbermann, Barack Obama, and false equivalencies
Cognitive Dissonance: Atheists sue Pennsylvania for declaring "Year of the Bible."
Virtually Speaking A-Z: State lotteries as public finance, and as part of American consumer culture.
Open thread below....
Artist Thomas Kinkade--whose paintings featured bucolic, idealized landscapes and homespun visions fraught with cloyingly twee Christian themes, as though Rick Santorum's frothy dream of America spilled out of his well-lubed head and splattered on a[...]
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Title: ElectricityArtist: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
Saturday! Here's a nice live clip from one of my heroes. Got a favorite live video?
Public Priorities: Deficit Rising, Terrorism Slipping
....the federal budget deficit stands out as the fastest growing policy priority for Americans, largely because of growing Republican concerns about the issue. In the national survey, conducted Jan. 11-16 among 1,502 adults, 69% rate reducing the budget deficit as a top priority - the most in any of the Pew Research Center's annual policy priority updates going back to 1994.
The number of Republicans rating the budget deficit as a top priority has spiked to 84% from 68% a year ago and just 42% five years ago. Meanwhile Republicans are placing far less emphasis on terrorism, which was their top priority in every year between 2002 and 2008....
That republican concern must depend on who occupies the White House.
EPA Power Plant Rule Drives a Stake Through the Heart of Big Coal
....The new rules are the culmination of the hotly contested Bush-era Supreme Court ruling that carbon dioxide is indeed a pollutant as defined by the Clean Air Act and that, consequently, the EPA has the authority and duty to regulate it....
....The Supreme Court decision essentially forced the EPA to issue these rules; it was just a question of when. And rising coal prices and the plummeting cost of abundant natural gas prices meant that new coal plants were pretty much dead already....
Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) speaking with constituents before the start of her town hall in Clinton, Missouri on April 5, 2012.
Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) has scheduled town halls and "meet and greet" events across the 4th Congressional District. The event in Clinton, Missouri on Thursday was advertised as a "meet and greet" as opposed to the town halls in some of the other locations. This event was effectively a scaled down town hall meeting.
The transcript of Representative Hartzler's (r) remarks before the question and answer portion of the event:
Eric Bohl, Chief of Staff, Representative Hartzler: All right. Thank you everyone for coming today. Um, I'm Eric Bohl. I'm Vicky's Chief of Staff....Um, Vicky's, uh, just wanted to say a few words to you, tell you some of the things she's been working on, but most importantly, listen to you and see what you guys are interested in, worried about, and upset about, concerned about. So, uh, Vicky's going to tell you a few things and then feel free to ask any questions you'd like....
....Representative Vicky Hartzler (r): ....Who brought all the cookies? Raise your hand if you brought cookies.
Voice: I don't think they're here. [laugh, laughter]
Representative Hartzler (r): Nobody's here. They brought their cookies and they left. Well. [laugh] Well. [crosstalk]
Voice: They're working.
Representative Hartzler (r): [inaudible] Huh.
Voice: They're working.
Representative Hartzler (r): They're, yeah. Well, let's thank [xxxx] for helping organize. [applause] I want you to know we're doing eighteen of these town halls the next week and a half. And we're gonna be getting out and about. And I think you're the only county that has goodies and treats here, so. [laughter] You ought to feel very special and thank [xxxx] for that, 'cause most other counties don't go this far to make everybody feel welcome, so. This is great....
And this is what it's all about. Um, it's why I feel so passionately about serving you, working hard. It's not only to help our current generation but to help our future generations. And to make sure that our children and grandchildren have the future as bright as we had. And have the amount of opportunity we had.
So, um, I've been very honored to be there working for you now, little over a year. And, uh, thought I'd just give you a little update and then listen like, like Eric [Bohl] said. Well these are just as much, uh, for me to listen to you as for me to talk to you, so. But just a little update, some things we've been working on.
Uh, we're trying to address some of the main concerns that people have. And one of them is our national debt. Course we have over fifteen trillion dollars in debt. Uh, and that's because we're spending more money than we have. Uh, it's not, not good. We can't do that at home. We don't do it in our businesses. And Washington's been doing it for a long time. And it's a non-partisan problem, I mean, there, uh, many presidents now, Republican and Democrat, and Congresses have been spending more money than we have. And so, we're trying to, uh, reverse that. We're trying to get us back to a balanced budget. Isn't that a novel concept? [laugh, laughter] Yeah. So we do that at home, we do it at our farms, our businesses, and, uh, Washington needs to as well. In Missouri we have a balanced budget amendment in our Constitution. And that forces our state reps and state senators to have to balance every year. And it, and that makes, they have to make some tough choices sometimes. But, because of that Missouri is in the black, uh, we have a very good credit rating here, we're doing very well. Uh, not so much in, in [laugh] D.C. I mean, do you remember what happened to our credit rating last year? We got downgraded. And, rightly so, really, because we owe way too much money. And, uh, so we, we're trying to reverse that. A couple things we're doing, I cosponsored a balanced budget amendment and we are trying to get that changed. Forty-nine states have some form of a balanced budget amendment, Washington doesn't. Uh, and, order to change the Constitution you have to have two thirds vote in both the House and the Senate, pass it, and then it goes out to the states, you remember from your social studies classes years ago, and then three fourths of the state legislatures would have to ratify it. We came about five votes short, uh, of passing, getting the two thirds that we needed in the House. So, unfortunately we weren't able to pass that, but we're gonna keep trying to do that 'cause I think that makes sense. Uh, some say, well, we don't need a balanced budget amendment, you know, Washington can live within its means. Yet, I think, clearly, the proof's in the pudding and you can see it's not. So, we need it.
But, in the mean time we've been, uh, kind of promoting a budget that actually balances and gets to balance. Novel concept. Uh, we voted last week for a, a budget in the House that gets us to a balanced budget in about the year twenty fifty. 'Course this problem hasn't just come about overnight, uh, I don't think we're gonna solve it overnight. But we gonna start moving in the right direction. Uh, I also supported a, a budget that would have balanced in five years. A little more aggressive but it's doable and I think the sooner the better myself. We didn't get enough votes to pass that, but we did get the one that balances in a, a twenty, twenty forty-nine somewhere again.
Uh, the problem is, have you heard about the Senate, what they're doing with the budget? Been over three years since they've passed a budget. And Harry Reid just says we're not gonna vote on it. We're not gonna do it. Which, that has been, to be honest, very frustrating, uh, for me. You know, I thought people are supposed to abide by the Constitution. But, that's not happening, I don't believe. Uh, and so that forces us to have to do continuing resolutions just to, you know, fund the government for a short amount of time at the end of the year. Uh, at the end of fiscal year is in to September. So, I'm afraid you might have to see that again. We passed our budget last week. You know, keep watching and see if the Senate does anything. Or, if you have an opinion, please call Senator Blunt, Senator McCaskill and let 'em know. Okay, we want you to pass the budget. That will be very helpful. [laugh]
But, anyway, so we're trying balance the budget by, by cutting the amount of spending, stopping the runaway spending, but at the same time, increasing the income. There's two ways to balance the budget, right. The other piece is to get our economy growing again. We've got almost, uh, we've had thirty-six months know of over eight percent unemployment. And, so, when you have, you know, what, full employment is around four percent they say, so if you have that many people out of work, obviously, that's a problem. Uh, not only is it just hard at, a lot of hurting people, lot of hurting families, uh, but it hurts the economy because people are using more government services during that time, more unemployment, more Medicaid, other services. And they're, they're not paying taxes. So, if we can get more people back to work then, you know, there's gonna be less expenses, but also there are gonna be, uh, paying taxes again. And it's just better for everybody.
So we passed over thirty bills in the House to try to get our economy going again, mainly with the idea of removing the barriers that's keeping small businesses from hiring people. I go out and spend a lot of time visiting with the businesses in the fourth district and I say, how come you're not hiring, what do we need to do. And it basically is pretty sad, they say a lot of it is because of what's been going on in Washington. Such as, the over regulations, there's just one story after another, various onerous regulations that are hurting, uh, the businesses. Over taxation, uh, too much litigation, they don't know what their health care costs are gonna be, they don't know what their taxes are gonna be, they don't know what the fuel costs are gonna be, their energy costs, and so they say, because of this uncertainty we're just gonna hold on to our money and, you know, see what happens. And, we're not gonna expand or grow our business until we know more what, uh, what the rules are gonna be. So, our bills have pushed back on some of the regulations, uh, tried to lower the corporate tax rate. Now we're the largest, at the largest tax rate in the country, in the world now, uh, as of a, as of Sunday. We were number two, uh, but Japan lowered their corporate tax rate so now, you know, not a very good distinction, but we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. And I think that needs to be lower so we can be competitive. We want companies to come back here to America. And, so we're trying to do everything we can to make a business friendly environment here in our country.
So, anyway, and lastly we've been working on, uh, trying to reduce the energy costs and the gas prices. Uh, because it's unbelievable how they doubled, uh, since just the last three year, since President Obama came into office. I think, uh, one way we can do that is to increase our energy independence here at home. And to use those resources our country's been blessed with. You talk to, uh, my Representative new friend from North Dakota and you hear what's going on there it's unbelievable. It's like the gold rush days. They tell stories about how they're building homes and, and towns as fast as they can and they're shipping in workers. Because they're, they're tapping into the Bakken, uh, oil reserves there and [inaudible] previously had shale and it was hard to get to. Now they know how to extract that oil. They are pumping all kinds of oil out there.
We've got other places in the country like that and we need to get them permits so they can start drilling there as well. So let's use the gas, natural gas we have, let's use the petroleum we have here, let's use the coal. We're, eighty-five percent of Missouri's, uh, electricity comes from coal. And yet the EPA last week issued a ruling that says, uh, that you can, new, new coal place, based plower plants, say that four times. [laughter] Anyway, they can't, uh, basically be built anymore in this country because they would have to do this carbon sequestration which is very expensive. It's still almost experimental technology, it's not cost effective and because of that there basically will be no new coal powered plants in America. And the ones that are here are being subjected to all kinds of new regulations they have to do. So, doesn't make sense to me. We've got lots of coal, let's use it. We can do it clean, we can do it efficiently, we can do it economically.
Uh, so we're trying to free up the amount of energy used here in America, think that'll, that'll reduce our, our costs and help hopefully drive down our gas prices. But, that's very, very important.
I cannot believe the Peyton Place that’s going on in Orlando. Stan Van Gundy and Dwight[...]
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Tuesday provided some of bits of reinforcement for a handful of generally accepted facts in American politics:
Aside from that, this week underscored a number of prevailing trends that have developed over the course of this 2012 cycle. With each passing week, it becomes more and more apparent that Mitt Romney is both the inevitable Republican nominee and also a decidedly weak one. Furthermore, the locking down of the Republican nomination hasn't yet translated into any burgeoning support for Romney in a general election. Sure, that surge could still certainly come, but it certainly is not there yet.
Downballot, we got a genuine "WTF" moment in a key House race, a handful of Senate polls in races that may determine which party holds the majority post-2012, and some new numbers in Wisconsin's pending gubernatorial recall.
All that (and more!) in this week's slightly belated (for the Daily Kos Elections crowd, at least) holiday edition of the Weekend Digest.
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Oops.On Friday, National Review writer and conservative crazy person John Derbyshire wrote an unambiguously racist piece for a conservative web site that was, well, unambiguously racist. Not a close call, that one.
In response, National Review has fired him. You can read editor Rich Lowry's statement here, or I'll save you a link and just provide the probably-more-accurate version:
"My friends, we at National Review are no strangers to racism. I mean, holy crap, have you seen some of the stuff we've published? Let's not forget that this entire magazine was founded so that segregationists would have somewhere to go to feel intellectually superior about their racism, and I think we've tried to maintain that philosophy ever since.Did I get it right? Meh, who cares.
The one and only essential rule we require of our authors, however, is that they maintain a small bit of plausible deniability. You don't come right out and say white supremacist things, you simply suggest them, then act outraged when someone picks up on the obvious implications. All of conservatism relies on this distancing between our "suggested" policies and their obviously ridiculous or racist real world results. By breaking that implicit rule, however, Mr. Derbyshire has damaged our future abilities to claim we don't actually mean it when we suggest obviously racist things.
We are therefore letting Mr. Derbyshire go, so that we can maintain the genteel, did-we-really-mean-that-or-not veneer of our crazy racist founders. We wish him well, and hope to see him say he is sorry, be quickly forgiven and then nobly redeemed in the eyes of the movement, hopefully by next Tuesday or Wednesday, and are at least satisfied that for the rest of his life he will be able to wear this episode as a badge of how very downtrodden racist assholes are in this nation, probably because ethnic people and liberals are meanies and/or fascists. Thank you."
(Discussion of the firing is also going on in MTmofo's diary.)