From James Carter (via Steve Benen), here's Rep. Allen West (R-FL-very-very-nuts) explaining what he meant when he recently said that there were 80 or so "members of the Communist Party" in Congress. Or at least, he's trying to explain what he meant. I'm not sure you can watch this video and come to any conclusion other than that Allen West is either very stupid, very seriously unhinged, or just a rotten human being, pure and simple:
Now, keep in mind that what he's defending here is his specific claim that there are secretly 70 or 80 members of the Communist Party in Congress. That's something you might want to, oh, walk back, lest people think you are a half-mad McCarthyite. But no, he stands by it, apparently because whether it's true or not isn't the point; the real point is how you damn reporters out there don't know your history and how pretty much everyone Allen West doesn't like is automatically a member of the Communist Party, from Woodrow Wilson on down the line.
I know some folks get frustrated when we talk about these nutcase members of the Republican caucus. I get that. But this guy is in Congress. This guy won an election. He may still win reelection?and his whole shtick is being pompously, self-righeously loony. There's no deep philosophy on how to govern a nation resting in that noggin, just a stream of unending suspicions against the "communists," historical malapropisms, and a general hatred for government doing, well, anything. We've elected a conspiracy theory to Congress.
Worse, he's not the only one. Not by a long shot.
I'm not sure whether America can do better at this point. I mean that sincerely; the combination of corporate money and uninformed elections (note that those two are far from unrelated) means that too many candidates can go too far without anyone ever seriously examining what the hell it is they might actually stand for. But I'm pretty sure the first step would be, well, to give it try. Politicians may loathe the new campaign reality of having people follow them around with video cameras, recording their every word, but it's probably the best information that voters can get. It at least gives you some insight into what the candidate says in off-the-cuff situations. That helps, even if it sometimes is as scary as hell to listen to them.
The Energy Report: Eric, in your Q411 market commentary for Sprott Energy Fund, you describe 2011 as a challenging year. What made the market so difficult for investors?
Eric Nuttall: There were several factors: First, the weather failed to cooperate in Canada, where we had a very extended breakup in southeast Saskatchewan. We had epic levels of rainfall. We also had raging forest fires in parts of Alberta. The weather led to a low level of activity for much of the first half of 2011, and many companies struggled to fulfill their capex programs and meet their production targets. Natural gas pricing … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: Get Your Natural Gas Shopping List Ready: Eric Nuttall
Read The Full Article:
David Brock on the conservative dominance of the Sunday shows in February 2006.
Six years in an age of 24-hour news cycles is forever. Six years ago, we were discussing the embassies destroyed in Denmark and Norway over the publication of political cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. Sarah Palin was a little known former mayor of Wasilla, running for the governorship of Alaska, touting the "Bridge to Nowhere". The housing market was hurtling ever upwards with little thought of the bubble bursting. And six years ago, Media Matters came out with a study that showed what we liberals have known all along: the Sunday shows are completely weighted towards the conservative point of view.
Fast forward to 2012. We have a new Democratic president; both a tea party movement and an Occupy/"We are the 99 percent" movement; Face the Nation is an hour long; MSNBC joined the Sunday show game with two shows. But fundamentally, who gets the lion's share of the national dialog? Conservatives. Still.
Evaluating the four Sunday morning talk shows--ABC's This Week, NBC's Meet the Press, CBS's Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday--for the eight months from June 2011 through February 2012, FAIR found a distinct conservative, white and male skew in both one-on-one interview segments and roundtable discussions.
According to the study, published in the April issue of FAIR's magazine Extra!:
Of one-on-one interviews, 70 percent of partisan-affiliated guests were Republican. Those guests were overwhelmingly male (86 percent) and white (92 percent). The broader roundtable segments weren't much more diverse: 62 percent of partisan-affiliated guests were Republican. More broadly, guests classified as either Republican or conservative far outnumbered Democrats or progressives, 282 to 164. The roundtables were 71 percent male and 85 percent white. U.S. government sources--current officials, former lawmakers, political candidates, party-affiliated political operatives and campaign advisers--dominated the Sunday shows overall (47 percent of appearances). Following closely behind were journalists (43 percent), most of whom were middle-of-the-road Beltway political reporters.
"The Sunday morning shows are the showcase debate programs for the national news networks," said FAIR's Peter Hart. "It's a shame they aren't interested in having many actual debates."
Well, bless them for quantifying what I've been saying every Sunday for six years. But what struck me about FAIR's report isn't the confirmation of conservative bias, but how small the pool is of people asked to opine on the nation's issues:
Unlike the one-on-one interviews, these roundtable segments include some voices from outside the two parties; partisan sources?who leaned Republican, 180 to 109?accounted for less than half of the guests. But the nonpartisan guests didn?t alter the right?s advantage, with Republicans and/or conservatives making 282 appearances to 164 by Democrats and progressives (categories that are less interchangeable). Middle-of-the-road Beltway journalists made 201 appearances in roundtables, which serves to buttress the argument that corporate media?s idea of a debate is conservative ideologues matched by centrist-oriented journalists.
Women were just 29 percent of roundtable guests. The ethnic diversity was similarly woeful: 85 percent white and 11 percent African-American, with 3 percent Latino. Other ethnicities made up an additional 2 percent of roundtable guests.
And those numbers come with significant qualifications; Fox News Sunday, for instance, featured the greatest number of African-American roundtable guests?but 24 of those 27 were Fox pundit Juan Williams. ABC?s This Week featured 19 African-American debate guests, 13 of whom were Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.
[..]The most frequent overall guest during the eight months [of the FAIR study] was ABC conservative George Will, who appeared 34 times. Neocon Bill Kristol appeared on the Fox roundtable 24 times, while right-wing pundit Liz Cheney made nine appearances on Fox and ABC debates. The most frequent interview guest was Rep. Michele Bachmann, who made 17 one-on-one appearances. Republican Sen. John McCain, a Sunday show fixture, was interviewed eight times.
It's the same people, week after week. Most frequent guest George Will has been named the most incorrect pundit in a media study. Most frequent political guest Michele Bachmann (I was as surprised as you to find out it wasn't John McCain) holds the distinction of the most "Pants-On-Fire" lies on Politifact. Fox News Sunday's perennial panel member Bill Kristol is so invariably incorrect that he has spawned his own tumblr site called "Bill Kristol is always wrong" categorizing all the lies and partisan-motivated crap that he spews.
These are the people polluting the national dialog: those who have little regard to facts or truth telling. Few liberal voices, fewer voices of color or women. No voices of the working or lower classes.
That is why John Amato wanted to focus on the "bobbleheads", as we term them. That is why it is so important to highlight those egregious clips week after week. Because no matter what they tell us, this is not a conservative country. They just want you to believe it is.
Former U.S. attorney joins with three other prominent Arizonans -- none of them fans of Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- to call for the Justice Department to either go ahead and charge the sheriff criminally or bring the three-year-old investigation to a close and[...]
Read The Full Article:
While the GOP continues its war on women, the Vatican, which has been in the forefront of that war for centuries, has set its sights on American nuns. Their "sin"? Among other things, not being sufficiently anti-gay. From the NY Times:
The Vatican has appointed an American bishop to rein in the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States, saying that an investigation found that the group had ?serious doctrinal problems.?The nuns weren't expecting this broadside from the men who run the church:
The Vatican?s assessment, issued on Wednesday, said that members of the group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, had challenged church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted ?radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.?
The sisters were also reprimanded for making public statements that ?disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church?s authentic teachers of faith and morals.? During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters, many of whom belong to the Leadership Conference, signed a statement supporting it ? support that provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over health care.
Word of the Vatican?s action took the group completely by surprise, Sister Sanders said. She said that the group?s leaders were in Rome on Wednesday for what they thought was a routine annual visit to the Vatican when they were informed of the outcome of the investigation, which began in 2008.And, to complete the homophobic circle, the Archbishop of Seattle, J. Peter Sartain, who is leading the jihad against the nuns, is also leading the effort to repeal Washington State's new marriage equality law. But, this past weekend, a number of parishes rejected the Archbishop's edict to collect signatures for an anti-marriage referendum. In fact, via Igor Volsky at Think Progress, we learned that one Catholic priest got a standing ovation from his parishioners by announcing he wouldn't participate in the effort to gather signatures for an anti-marriage petition.
?I?m stunned,? said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby founded by sisters. Her group was also cited in the Vatican document, along with the Leadership Conference, for focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping ?silent? on abortion and same-sex marriage.
UpStart [uhp-stahrt] n. 1. A company or organization with innovative approaches to energy use, carbon pollution, resource consumption, and/or social equity, 2. A company or organization overcoming market barriers to build the new clean energy economy.
by Adam James
?Hello, my name is America, and I have a transportation problem.?
Everyone knows we are addicted to oil — even oil man George W. Bush said ”America is addicted to oil” – and that coming up with feasible alternatives to treat that addiction hasn?t been easy.
The biggest cause of our oil dependence is the transportation sector, making up a whopping 71% of total U.S. consumption. Transportation has always been a tough nut to crack, simply because abundant fossil fuels have given people a cheap, easy way to get from place to place.
Not surprisingly, the number of registered vehicles has steadily climbed over the years ? currently clocking in at 254,212,610 according to the most recent data. In 2008, transportation overtook the industrial sector as the leading contributor to emissions. In 2010, vehicles pushed an incredible 75,000,000 metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere.
Putting aside the emissions problem (but don?t worry, we?ll come back to it), we are putting an enormous strain on our infrastructure, our wallets and our sanity. About 26 percent of our bridges are ?structurally deficient or functionally obsolete,? and when it comes to our roads the American Society of Civil Engineers notes that:
?Americans spend 4.2 billion hours a year stuck in traffic at a cost to the economy of $78.2 billion, or $710 per motorist. Poor conditions cost motorists $67 billion a year in repairs and operating costs. One-third of America?s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition and 45% of major urban highways are congested.?
According to ACSE, we currently have a shortfall of $116.3 billion needed to improve conditions. And given that building more roads often just encourages more driving and more congestion, simply constructing more infrastructure for automobiles isn?t the answer.
Bikeshares: The Methadone of Transportation
If only there was a way to save money, offset emissions, stimulate local economies, increase public health and spur the construction of smarter cities. Oh wait, there is. Enter Bikeshare programs. Bikesharing is not a new concept. But in recent years, we?ve seen an explosion of new business models in cities around the country.
Here?s how it works: a company provides you with access to a bicycle (provided at stations, or in some cases, by other riders) for an annual, monthly, or hourly fee. You hop on, get where you need to go, and leave it at the nearest station.
The Capitol Bikeshare program has already built stations across Washington DC and Arlington; The NY based company Spinlister serves as a forum where owners post their bikes, locations, and prices, allowing for peer-to-peer bikesharing; and the innovative company Zagster?s has partnered with the World Bank to develop a methodology to quantify bikeshare-related carbon credits to be exchanged in the booming international carbon market.
The model is being deployed in countries around the world. Thanks to a wildly successful bikesharing program in Indore, India, 20% of the trips there are now taken via bicycle.
In December the ECF published an excellent study which found that ?even taking into account the production, maintenance, and fuel related to bicycle use, emissions from cycling were over 10 times lower than those stemming from the passenger car.? The study found if EU citizens biked as much as the Danes (2.6 miles a day), 50 percent of their total emissions reduction target would be met.
One report puts the emissions reductions potential in the United States, under a ?modest? scenario of increased biking and walking infrastructure, at 33 million tons per year. Additionally, the EMBARQ program has put together a methodology that allows local and regional governments to calculate their exact emissions offsets by exploring alternative transportation options for their cities.
Public Health (and Nicer People)
The health benefits from biking are undeniable. In addition to reducing fossil fuel emissions to clean up our air, increased biking would cut into the record obesity rates in the United States and help prevent ?cardio-vascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and mental disorders like anxiety and depression.? Furthermore, it would make people more polite on the road. One study in Baltimore and Florida showed that bike lines made motorists more likely to give cyclists clearance.
In order to upgrade aging infrastructure and address the shift in population toward urban areas, cities must pursue smart, strategic growth. This means reevaluating city ordinances ? from traffic laws to zoning ? and providing incentives to make cities more bike friendly.
Urban planning experts are taking the smart cities challenge very seriously, and making real recommendations about how to spur change. One such recommendation is to build more bike lanes, which researchers argue leads to more cyclists and less vehicles. An excellent report, released last month, made a comprehensive case that freeways are ?simply the wrong design solution for cities? and that the cities that have reconsidered or cancelled their sprawling freeway plans have been much stronger for it.
As we have argued before, bike-friendly infrastructure is also better for local economies. A study released by the Political Economy Research Institute found that cycling projects created 11.4 jobs for every $1 million invested ? about 46% more that the car-only road projects. In North Carolina, the study found that:
?Data were gathered through user surveys and bicycle traffic counts to estimate the amount of money that tourists spent during a visit, the total number of tourists, and the proportion of tourists for whom bicycling was an important reason for the visit. The researchers found that, annually, approximately 68,000 tourists visited the area at least partly to cycle. This led to an estimate that $60 million in tourism spending and multiplier effects came to the area in relation to the bikeways, and supported approximately 1,400 jobs.
When confronted with a decision of whether or not to include pedestrian and/or bicycle facilities in transportation infrastructure projects, planning officials should do so, not only because of the environmental, safety, and health benefits but also because these projects can create local jobs.?
Bikeshares are helping cities capture that additional economic value.
The recent explosion in these programs follows a demographic shift in the transportation sector. A recent study shows that young people drive 23 percent less and bike 40% more than they used to. As Grist notes, this is driven by ?young people are choosing to live in cities or dense communities with access to public transportation.?
City planners aren?t the only ones that should take note. Investors looking for proven solutions to help alleviate our petroleum addiction and lower our greenhouse gas emissions should too.
Adam James is a special assistant on the energy team at the Center for American Progress.
Yesterday, I was wrapping things up at the office when one of my best friends gchatted me to say “This Is What A General Interest Magazine Looks Like,” and included a link to this picture:
Now, Sofia Vergara is an estimable, talented, and very funny woman. But it’s not just her presence on this cover in lingerie that suggests that this magazine isn’t for women. The facts in text around her are all about men: “10% of men don’t believe that oral sex counts as ‘sex’,” “52% of men have sex less than once a week,’ ’80% of men have never used Viagra,” “34% of men in a committed relationship have cheated,” “14% of married men say they have had sex with a guy,” and so on. All of them appear under the headline “What’s Normal Now”?the issue’s meant to be a kind of measuring stick against which men can metaphorically whip it out and measure it. But perhaps in a general interest sense, ladies, who, judging by the magazines aimed at us, are meant to be constantly boning up on our Sex Knowledge, are meant to swing by as well to have this arsenal of information at our disposal to go along with our Cosmopolitan-provided “50 Things Guys Wish You Knew” or “1000 True Sex Confessions.”
When I talked to Sid Holt, who runs the National Magazine Awards, a couple of weeks ago, I asked him about why there’s a women’s magazine category while men’s magazine are judged as general interest. He explained that ?There clearly are men?s magazines, but the number of men?s magazine doesn?t justify having a separate category for men?s magazines?There was a perception, and it was a reality, that women?s magazines weren?t recognized. So we specifically created a category for women?s magazines to recognize women?s magazines?It was a specific problem, and there are women editors who liked it the other way. We were trying to address an issue in which magazines that competed for readers and for advertisers were competing against one another. It was a system that made sense from a magazine perspective and wasn?t entirely arbitrary.? That may be true, but it doesn’t prevent things like this from being funny and sad, and making the category breakdown look silly.
Meanwhile, people like the estimable Kevin Fallon have been pushed to write pieces with titles like “Can Guys Watch ‘Girls’?” A commenter on that piece huffed “Many would be insulted if women were told they can enjoy male comedies,” but it’s a question I got from readers who I think are entirely people of good will*. We live in a world that constantly reinforces that looking at Sofia Vergara’s breasts is a broadly engaging pastime but that men have nothing to learn from the women of Sex and the City‘s conversations about what men do to their bodies and how it feels. It’s not irrational, given that environment, to ask if shows or movies with female leads and about female problems is the exception to the rule that women are niche and men are general interest.
*More to come on this, but Girls is definitely not for everyone even though I love it, and I have thoughts on how it can be a lever for things that speak to other audiences.
The Republican-controlled U.S. House passed a bill today, backed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), that would supposedly grant small businesses a 20 percent tax cut. However, as we’ve noted over and over, the bill would actually be a $46 billion giveaway to the rich. The bill was approved on a 235-173 vote, with 18 Democrats voting in favor and 10 Republicans voting against. Today, CAP’s Seth Hanlon noted that, according to an analysis that Cantor himself was touting, the bill spends $1.1 million for every job it creates. Democrats today noted this salient fact while blasting the bill on the House floor. Watch it:
The Family Equality Council recently launched a new initiative called The Outspoken Generation, featuring young adults with LGBT parents speaking out for equality and dispelling myths about their families. One of the project’s spokespeople is Iowa teen Zach Wahls, who has become a viral sensation since testifying on behalf of his moms last year. The campaign’s other co-chair is Ella Robinson, whose father Bishop Gene Robinson became the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. Watch her encourage other young people who might be bullied for having same-sex parents to “be proud” and “take courage” that their parents love each other: