Mitt Romney's position on the auto bailout is starting to sound like something out of South Park.[...]
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That's the premise of the latest video from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME's video, "I Love Lamp," was released Tuesday and it mixes clips of a recent Mitt Romney speech in Michigan with scenes from the movie Anchorman, where unintelligent character Brick Tamland, played with brilliance by Steve Carell, starts naming off things he sees and saying he loves them. Tamland talks about how he loves things like lamps and desks. Romney's speech has him saying that he loves cars and lakes and how the trees are the same height. AFSCME makes the point that speech is nothing more than political pandering in the lead-up to the Michigan primary and that it isn't even very good pandering as Romney has nothing intelligent to say about his "home" state.
Mitt Romney's recent pandering speech in Michigan sounded awfully familiar. Just as Will Ferrell's character Ron Burgundy in the movie Anchorman might have asked, "Mitt, are you just naming things you see in the state and saying you love them?"
What happens when you present your dog with a cat game for the iPad. (And it's not an actual iPad app, but rather an online game for the iPad - you can access it here.)
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) was challenged on multiple pieces of his record at last night’s CNN Republican presidential debate in Arizona, but his answer to why he voted for No Child Left Behind, the comprehensive education reform bill signed by President George W. Bush, drew the most criticism. “I have to admit, I voted for that, it was against the principles I believed in, but you know, when you’re part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake,” Santorum said.
On the campaign trail today, Romney immediately seized on Santorum’s “take one for the team” apology:
ROMNEY: He talked of this of being ‘taking for one the team.’ I wonder which team he was taking it for. My team is the American people, not the insiders in Washington, and I’ll fight for the people of America, not special interests. … He talked about voting for No Child Left Behind, even though that was against his principles.
While slamming Santorum as a “Washington insider,” Romney conveniently neglected to mention his own support for the law, which he highlighted as an example of where he disagrees with many conservatives in a 2008 interview on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes:
ROMNEY: I’d say that not all conserves line up with me on a few of the positions I have. For instance, I support having a Department of Education. I support No Child Left Behind. I think it’s improving our schools. I agree that we need to give more flexibility to states in applying it, but I support it.
As opposed to other issues, Romney’s position on education has remained fairly consistent. He’s been a vocal proponent of school testing while on the campaign trail and passed up an opportunity to criticize Santorum last night, saying Bush “was right to fight” against teachers unions to pass No Child Left Behind, even if some changes now need to be made to it.
But with conservatives criticizing Santorum’s answer today, Romney has apparently decided to pile on, ignoring that he’s criticizing Santorum’s support for a law he also supports.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) has offered an amendment that would allow employers to deny coverage of health services to their employees on the basis of their personal moral objections. Women’s groups warn the measure will severely limit access to needed care and now Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, is providing a sneak preview to the kind of discrimination employees will experience if the amendment becomes law.
Upon hearing news of President Obama’s regulation requiring all employers to offer contraception coverage without additional cost sharing, Bozell examined his own organization’s insurance policy and was “horrified” to learn that MRC’s plan has long provided contraception (and abortion) coverage. Bozell asked his employees to stop using “contraception/abortifacient/abortion services” and promised to eliminate the benefits at once:
?[W]e are working to change our insurance policy so as not to have to comply with this administration?s disgusting mandate to provide contraceptive, sterilization and abortifacient services. In the course of looking into this I have learned our insurance policy provides abortion services. I cannot begin to tell you how horrified I am by that. I never would have approved this had I known. It is the taking of a human life. That will change.?
If Congress approves Blunt’s amendment, employers like Bozell would be able to make health decisions for their employees on the basis of their own personal beliefs. About two-thirds of Americans oppose this idea, but Bozell is already putting it into practice.
The incident is reminiscent of the Republican National Committee’s reaction upon discovering — through an article in Politico — that its health insurance plan covered abortion in 2009. Like Bozell, the RNC did not change its policy until it contradicted its political rhetoric, suggesting that women’s health care benefits are standard insurance benefits and that the GOP’s sudden outrage is nothing more than a manufactured political issue designed to rally the Republican base.
Much will inevitably be made of this study that links teenagers’ viewing of movies to the rate at which they start drinking, and start binge-drinking. It’s worth pointing out, however, that other features are more significant, most importantly, the drinking behavior of a teenager’s peers, which is almost twice as influential as movies on whether a teenager who has tried alcohol moves into binge drinking. But the study still suggests that movie exposure is responsible for 28 percent of teenagers’ decisions to first try alcohol and 20 percent of their transitions from alcohol sampling to binge drinking, which is not insignificant. And if this gains traction, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see calls to treat alcohol like tobacco, getting it increasingly off-screen or consigned to period pieces, or for a crackdown on alcohol advertising or both.
Part of the problem, I think, is that it’s much harder to portray the fun you can have while you’re drinking than the non-fatal consequences you can suffer from over-drinking. Raccoon-eyed makeup like Claire Dunphy’s in the most recent episode of Modern Family doesn’t actually convey what it’s like to feel like your head is going to explode from within, or the arid sense of extreme post-drinking dehydration. Showing someone throwing up tends to be momentary, while partying takes up more extended space on screen because it’s narrative. It’s easier to fetishize and make jokes out of the objects of alcohol consumption, like the Big Joe and Big Carl wine glasses on Cougar Town, than it is to celebrate their absence. Movies about alcoholism can absolutely be an effective prevention tactic, but that’s the kind of material you generally have to seek out rather than encountering it randomly in the course of a romantic comedy or an action movie. Sober or straight-edge characters aren’t regularly incorporated into pop culture friend groups or social scenes. Bars are convenient meeting social spaces, and they haven’t entirely been replaced by alcohol-free settings.
And it’s really hard to get at the nuances that make drinking both enjoyable and manageable. It’s hard to dramatize that process where you realize that National Light tastes terrible and you can afford Knob Creek and it tastes better, or where you have a divine meal and realize that the wine and the lamb are working together and you want to learn more about that. In the real world, drinking isn’t a matter of abstinence or addiction. But it’s a lot easier to show ecstasy and despair than this kind of aesthetic experience:
A man from Juneau, Alaska, has filed suit with the state's Division of Elections to bar President Obama from appearing on that state's ballot on the basis that the President is a "Mulatto", and "the race of 'Negro' or 'Mulatto' had no standing to be citizens of the United States under the United States Constitution.
Current and former aides to Sarah Palin lashed out Wednesday at HBO's "Game Change," describing the upcoming film's depictions of her on the 2008 campaign trail as "sick" and inaccurate.Best part?
None of the aides said they have yet seen the movie ...
Representative Joel Kleefisch can be seen in a video, now on You Tube, voting for an absent member.
Rob Koebel: "Did you break a rule?"
Joel Kleefisch: "It depends on how you interpret the rule." [...]
"The rule says you have to be present in the chamber. The bathroom counts as the chamber ..."
Florida’s House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that ostensibly targets the use of foreign law in Florida courts, but which is widely understood as an attack on the non-existent problem of American courts relying on Islamic law. The Florida bill closely resembles a similar anti-Muslim bill that recently stalled in the Virginia legislature due to objections from business groups that it would prevent routine business practices such as contracting with foreign companies to resolve potential disputes using another nation’s law. Twenty-two states are currently considering similar laws, and an earlier version of these bills was recently declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court after it was enacted in Oklahoma. To learn about the network of bloggers, advocacy groups and wealthy funders pushing Islamophobic fantasies to state lawmakers, see the Center for American Progress’ report Fear, Inc.
by Christopher Williams
Construction of the largest ground-source geothermal heating and cooling system in the United States is now underway and half complete.
The project, located on the Munsie, Indiana campus of Ball State University, will be large enough to heat and cool 47 buildings, replace four coal-fired boilers, and save the campus roughly $2 million a year over the 30-year life of the system.
The project will also help create 2,300 direct and indirect jobs throughout the construction period.
This is great news for a technology that has been available, efficient and economical since the 1940′s. In 1993, the EPA called it ?the most efficient, environmentally clean, and cost effective space conditioning system today.” While the technology has been known for decades, the size of the Ball State project proves that geothermal installers and designers are gaining confidence to implement the technology on a massive scale and are winning the trust of risk-averse property owners.
The role of ground source heat pumps in the U.S.
Geothermal, or ground source heat pumps, can play a critical role in changing the U.S. energy mix by reducing the use of petroleum, coal and gas for on-site heating and cooling applications. The technologies we tend to think of when we use the term “renewable energy” ? solar PV, wind, and hydro ? usually do nothing to address thermal energy, which makes up roughly one third of our nation’s energy use.
For example, space heating represents 45% of energy use in the average single-family home in the U.S. ? by far the single biggest use of energy for consumers. But consumers tend to think mostly about renewable electricity technologies, rather than heating and cooling technologies. Geothermal heat pumps can eliminate the need for on-site fossil fuel use for the heating of a property, particularly in the Northeast, where fuel oil is used to heat a large percentage of buildings.
The state of the geothermal heat pump industry
“Geothermal heat pump technology has grown to a point where people are beginning to understand what it is, what it offers in terms of benefits over conventional systems and that it can be successfully implemented at all levels, from the smallest single family residence to the large-scale retrofit at Ball State,” says Ryan Carda a geothermal engineering expert who co-founded Geo-Connections and who co-authored the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) manual on geothermal design and installation.
The numbers back up Carda’s comments. Pike Research projects that the industry will double from 2010 to 2017, with the technology also making solid gains in the utility sector.
The U.S. geothermal heat pump industry has seen strong growth when compared to the broader economy. With a 30% federal investment tax credit until 2016, and the ability to install projects outside of the regulatory authority of the utility (unlike most solar PV systems), adoption rates continue to increase.
As Carda points out, educated contractors are also helping grow the market: “I believe that education at all levels is one thing that can help this technology take the next step. Building owners need to understand what geothermal can do for them in terms of energy consumption, operating and maintenance costs, overall comfort levels, etc. It all starts with contractors, architects and engineers as they are the ones who need to relay that message [to property owners].”
The Importance of the Ball State Geothermal Project
The Ball State University project is enormously important for raising awareness about this under-reported technology.
With both Republican and Democratic lawmakers hailing the project, it’s a small glimmer of hope for bipartisanship on energy. It also shows how sophisticated the engineering and construction practices in the geothermal heat pump market have become. And finally, the media attention ? from stories in the Environmental Leader, the New York Times, and Indiana National Public Radio ? give the industry the attention it deserves.
Christopher Williams is publisher of the Green Light Distrikt blog. He’s also a Chief Marketing Officer at the HeatSpring Learning Institute.
Rick Santorum?s three wins in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri played a large part in raising his profile, but the whole of his surge is hard to explain with those wins alone. At YouGov, Michael Tesler finds that the Santorum surge is both a product of winning and a result of the intense national conversation over contraception:
To put this to words, respondents with the highest levels of ?moral conservatism? began to respond to Santorum around the same time that the administration handed down the birth control mandate for religiously-affiliated institutions. Here is Tesler with more:
[M]orally conservative voters seem to have flocked to Santorum as they acquired more information about his similarly strong opposition to gay rights and abortion?an activation process that was probably accelerated by the influx of recent attention to these and other ?culture war? issues in the news media.
Unfortunately for Santorum, this just increases the likelihood that he becomes pigeonholed as a ?social conservative? candidate, without broad, general election appeal. Of course, this also happens to be truth?whether it penetrates the consciousness of actual Republican voters is, at the moment, up in the air.