The head of the Blue Dog Democrats in the House, Mike Ross, is that Democrats are facing "a terrifying reign of their own as liberal activists and unions keep hounding moderate members out of office." (emphasis added)
Well, let's get a few things straight. Most importantly, Blue Dog does not equal moderate. In Democratic circles we have three major types. Conservatives (Blue Dogs), liberals (Kennedy was a good example), and everyone else in between who could potentially be called "moderates." But nowhere does being a Blue Dog (i.e., a right-wing Democrat) make you a moderate, any more than being a conservative (i.e., right-wing) Republican - the GOP version of the Blue Dog - make you a moderate.
It's a cute lie that people like Ross would like you to believe, and it's a cheap lie too. It's the same thing as Republicans always fighting to see who's the "real" Republican, meaning of course, the furthest to the right. And Blue Dogs play the same games. No one is "moderate" except them, they'd like you to believe. Really?
If Blue Dog Democrats in the House are "moderate" Democrats, then I'd like Ross to explain to us who the "conservative" Democrats are to the right of the Blue Dogs? Because there are none.
Royal Dutch Shell’s profits rose 15.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012, netting $7.3 billion. Shell’s CEO Peter Voser attributed the increase in part to “strong oil prices,” which rose to over $100 a barrel this quarter.
In 2011, Shell’s profits soared 54 percent to $3.5 million every hour, despite producing 3 percent less oil. This time, it produced 4 percent more than Q1 in 2011.
A few facts about Shell:
Shell posted $7.3 billion in profits for quarter one, or $80.2 million per day.
It is the second-largest lobbyist in oil and gas, lobbying $14.6 million in 2011. This is up from 10 million in 2009 and 2010.
Shell has more than $10 million in cash reserves as of January 2012.
Shell CEO Peter Voser?s compensation more than doubled in 2011 to $15.3 million. His salary increased (in euros) by 113 percent. Even though oil production dropped 3 percent.
The company plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean, spending more than $4 billion over five years in “its quest to exploit the vast oil and natural gas resources believed to lie beneath the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off the north coast of Alaska,” according to the New York Times.
Chevron is the fourth Big Oil company to announce its profits tomorrow.
For those of you looking for a place to vote with your dollars in favor of more diverse depictions of New York in general and Brooklyn in particular, I’d humbly submit that you should be getting really, really excited for Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, which was one of my two favorite movies at Sundance this year. It’s a glorious movie, often joyful, sometimes shattering, about the black church, about white gentrifiers who freak out when African-American kids write their initials in her cement, about air pollution and asthma and the high cost of inhalers, about falling in love for the first time when you’re a young teenager. I would be willing to lay money that the horror with which Lee’s Sundance pronouncement that Hollywood doesn’t care much for or about black people was greeted is part of the reason it’s taken so long for Red Hook Summer to find distribution. I’m also willing to bet that the movie will be criticized for its frank politics and for its attention to Lee’s personal areas of interest?Deadline, for some reason, has decided that it’s “controversial,” which says more about Deadline than Lee or Red Hook Summer. If you’re in New York, mark your calendars for August 10 for the movie’s release date. The rest of us will have to wait a little bit longer.
GLSEN has released a new research brief based on data collected for its 2009 school climate survey, which found that 9 out of 10 LGBT students had felt unsafe in school at some point because of their identity. The new report (aptly titled “Teaching Respect”) examines the impact when a school offers a curriculum that is LGBT-inclusive ? that is, that it includes positive representations of LGBT people, history, and events. Resoundingly, such curricula can greatly reduce the levels of anti-LGBT victimization while improving levels of peer acceptance. In addition, students with such programs feel safer coming to school and are more comfortable talking to their teachers about LGBT issues. Here are a few of the effects an inclusive classroom has on students:
In 2009, only 13 percent of students reported that they had an inclusive curriculum in their school. Surely, the passage of California’s FAIR Education Act last year could help increase this number, but proposed “don’t say gay” measures in Tennessee and Missouri threaten threaten to make classrooms even less welcoming for students.
Students’ physical and mental health hang in the balance. Negative community attitudes, bullying, stigma, and victimization can lead to depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thinking that can last a lifetime. In contrast, students who are supported when they come out experience significant emotional benefits, and gay-straight alliances in schools can enhance the effect. Conservatives insist that young people must be “protected” from homosexual indoctrination, but the research is clear that acknowledging and supporting LGBT students is what’s best for them.
The New York lawmakers who voted in favor of same-sex marriage in New York aren’t regretting their support for marriage equality as they had into re-election. All four Republican senators are standing by their decisions and so is conservative Democrat Sen. Joe Addabbo, who “had cast no votes against the bill the last time the measure came up in 2009, but relented during last year?s Gov. Andrew Cuomo-led push.” “We vote here in Albany on well over 2,000 pieces of legislation and the marriage equality bill was to benefit a certain segment of the population,? Addabbo said, dismissing his Republican challenger’s attempts to make his support an issue in the election. ?We vote on issues like the budget which effects everybody. I think a year later from the marriage bill people realize for many it didn?t concern them and it?s a non-issue for many of the people that I speak to in my district.? He added, “I think people are more concerned about the issues that concern them each and every day like taxes and health care.”
A grassroots campaign by Keystone Progress to encourage Pennsylvania legislators to publicly reject membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is already yielding dividends. Five former members of the shadowy right-wing front group behind state laws restricting access to the ballot and ?stand your ground? gun laws have already said they have left ALEC. One of those, State Sen. John Pippy (R), is the former ALEC Pennsylvania state chair. Nationally, thirteen companies have announced they have severed ties with the ?stealth business lobbyist? organization. Zaid Jilani reports 28 lawmakers nationwide have quit ALEC this month.
A new survey shows that Ohio ? the home state of House Speaker John Boehner ? supports between 5,000 and 6,000 jobs in the wind industry.
But those jobs are now under imminent threat as a key tax credit for the industry nears expiration at the end of this year.
Just this week, a wind company in Ohio said it will abandon plans for a $20 million, 54-turbine project without an extension of the production tax credit (PTC). The project would create between 150-200 construction jobs for Ohioans, according to Everpower Renewables, the company building the wind farm.
The cost and price of wind electricity have come down steadily in recent years, allowing wind companies to sign power purchase agreements for as little as a few cents per kilowatt-hour. However, the glut of supply in the natural gas sector ? a sector that enjoys numerous permanent tax credits for drilling and production ? has made it difficult for wind producers to compete without an equivalent tax credit.
The PTC provides an owner of a wind farm with a tax credit of 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of renewable electricity generated. The credit has allowed the wind industry to compete with the heavily-subsidized fossil fuel industry and expand dramatically throughout the U.S.
Under Speaker Boehner, the House of Representatives has failed to extend this key tax credit for wind ? even with very strong support from many Republicans. 47 members of the Senate has also balked on the credits, voting to preserve $24 billion in oil and gas industry tax credits, while voting down the PTC for the wind industry.
In the last five years, wind has brought $20 billion of private investment to the U.S., according to the American Wind Energy Association. There are now 75,000 jobs across the country in wind manufacturing, operations, maintenance and education.
With the PTC under threat, the industry says it expects around 37,000 job losses in the coming year. The wind turbine manufacturer Vestas (which, coincidentally, provided the wind turbines for Ohio’s first wind project) says it will lay off 1,600 American workers if the credit is not extended.
There are reportedly no U.S. new wind projects in the works for 2013 due to the uncertainty around tax credits.
Over the last few months, numerous coalitions of bi-partisan political leaders have sent letters to Congress urging immediate passage of the PTC. Congress has continually failed to act.
Speaker Boehner says that jobs are his top priority for 2012. And he has the opportunity to save hundreds ? if not thousands ? in his own home state just by helping pass a simple extension of the wind tax credit.
“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”
Ryan also noted in a 2003 interview with the Weekly Standard, “I give out ‘Atlas Shrugged’ as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well… I try to make my interns read it.”
But today, Ryan is singing a far different tune.
From an interview with National Review’s Bob Costa this week:
“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don?t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.
It’s understandable why Ryan would back off his former political muse. She described altruism as “evil,” condemned Christianity for advocating compassion for the poor, viewed the feminist movement as “phony,” and called Arabs “almost totally primitive savages.” Learn more about Ayn Rand in this short ThinkProgress video:
Despite Ryan’s newly-professed distaste for Rand, were she alive today, she would likely applaud Ryan for his draconian GOP budget, which cuts food stamps and other programs for the poor, ends Medicare as we know it, gives $3 trillion in tax breaks for corporations and the rich, and raises taxes on the poorest Americans.
Joshua White sings Jim Crow songs on the Keynote record album Southern Exposure, recorded in 1941. Enjoy!
Mitt's attacks making Republicans sad?This is one gem of a quote from today's New York Times article on Republicans who are worried Mitt Romney has been too negative and want him to go positive:
?Mitt Romney has to come up with a plan and policy and principles that people can rally around,? said Gov. Gary R. Herbert of Utah, a strong supporter of Mr. Romney who said it was ?fair game? to point out differences with the president. ?It can?t just be negativity.?If Republicans wanted a candidate who would run a positive campaign, they picked the wrong guy. Case in point: he spent more than $100 million winning the Republican nomination, and more than 95 percent of his ads were attacks on fellow Republicans.
But the issue here isn't just Romney's slash and burn style: it's that the conservative economic agenda really doesn't lend itself to a positive campaign. The whole conservative thesis is that Barack Obama's presidency is destroying America because he's a European-style communist dictator. (Never mind the fact that Europe is in recession because it's following the austerian policies the right wants America to embrace.)
To conservatives, the only way to save America is to reject Barack Obama. That's a negative message, to it's core. The only way to talk about it in semi-positive terms is for them to say that government must get out of the way. But even that isn't really a positive agenda. And even if it were, Romney's embraced it time and again. His basic plan is to cut taxes, slash regulations, and shrink government. Romney wants to effectively end Medicare, he wants to turn Social Security into a welfare program, and he supports austerian policies that would force us to stop investing public funds in our infrastructure.
It takes a special kind of politician to make all that sound like something positive, especially when you're also arguing that the Obama Armageddon is right around the corner?and Romney isn't that kind of a politician. Perhaps he'll decide to flip-flop and re-embrace the notion that government can actually have a positive impact on economic growth, but if he does that, he'll run into a different problem?namely, his credibility, and specifically his lack thereof. So he's in a bit of trap right now and aside from hoping the economy tanks, he probably isn't quite sure what he should do.