In honor of the Patriot Act’s 10th birthday, the ACLU has an infographic demonstrating that key provisions of the supposedly anti-terrorist law are rarely used to investigate terrorism, and much more often used in routine criminal investigations. Here’s a taste:
(HT: David Kravets)
A large part of what has launched the Occupy protests onto the national scene has been the aggressive behavior of some New York City police officers. Now, NYPD has taken action on one incident of police abuse. NYPD has reassigned the officer made infamous by pepper-spraying nonviolent Occupy Wall Street protesters in September. The cop, Anthony Bologna, was caught on tape macing a female protester who was fenced in by police and appeared to be defenseless. Bologna — a department veteran of 29 years — will work on Staten Island and perform administrative work.
After Holy Terror, this isn’t exactly surprising, but it’s still impressive that Frank Miller still doesn’t seem to have a sense of what he sounds like when he says things like “I can tell you squat about Islam. I don’t know anything about it. But I know a goddamn lot about al Qaeda and I want them all to burn in hell.”
First, Holy Terror suggests that Miller doesn’t actually know very much about al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden may have been Saudi, but that doesn’t mean a huge number of terrorists are hiding out in Saudi-sponsored New York City mosques. Al Qaeda is not actually a more impressive organization than those run by fictional supervillains: it’s a small group who has caused substantial damage, but whose greatest victory is goading us into undermining our own values.
And knowing the difference between Islam and al Qaeda actually does matter. You want to marginalize the latter? Find ways to productively integrate people who practice the former into all kinds of societies. Prove al Qaeda has a pathetic, deluded worldview. Avoid slandering all Muslims as terrorists. Miller’s views are antithetical to his stated goals. And as it turns out, they don’t make for particularly good storytelling. Nuanced clashes of worldviews are much more fascinating than badly-drawn images of indistinct heroes crunching terrorists.
Our guest blogger is Frank Ackerman, director of the Climate Economics Group at the Stockholm Environment Institute-US and senior research fellow at the Global Development and Environment Institute of Tufts University.
Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) has asked the Energy Information Administration to evaluate an unrealistically harsh and unsophisticated clean energy standard, designed to represent the Republicans? worst nightmare: every electricity retailer in the country (some of them quite small) must meet a relatively high and rising standard for low-carbon energy, starting very soon, with no trading between companies, banking of excess credits, or other flexibility mechanisms that would soften the blow.
Even the Republican nightmare doesn?t look as bad as one might have suspected: according to the EIA analysis, it achieves a rapid reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, while causing electricity prices to rise by less than one percent per year, and lowering GDP per capita in 2035, the end of the study period, all the way from (watch closely or you?ll miss this) $65,848 to $65,658 ? a reduction of less than 0.3 percent, in a national income nearly twice as high as today?s. Employment is slightly higher, as a result of this standard, from the mid-2020?s onward.
In the light of day, no one would allow this nightmare version of a clean energy standard to be adopted. Trading of clean energy credits between companies would almost certainly be included in any real standard. The goal, after all, is to reduce nationwide emissions as cheaply as possible, not to impose burdens on each and every company regardless of size or situation. The large reduction in costs that can result from trading is well established in economic theory, and confirmed by the experience of sulfur emissions trading under the Clean Air Act, among other cases. If some companies can reduce emissions more inexpensively than others, it makes perfect sense to let them sell credits to others; the same amount of emission reduction occurs, but at much lower cost than under the rigid plan that troubles Ralph Hall. This, by the way, is perfectly orthodox free market economics, of a sort that Republicans, once upon a time, used to swear by.
Earlier this month, an audio recording captured an election volunteer for Virginia state Sen. Janet Howell — a Democratic incumbent running for re-election to the state Senate — admitting to ?gay-baiting? Republican voters into opposing her openly gay Republican challenger Patrick Forrest. Kavita Imarti, an intoxicated volunteer for Howell, can be heard admitting to Forrest?s field director that the campaign is informing conservative voters of Forrest?s sexuality and claiming that he will push a ?homosexual agenda? in schools. ?We?re showing your party [is]? prejudiced against someone because of their sexuality,? Imarti shouts on the recording.
Yesterday, reporters asked Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) about the incident during a campaign fundraiser for Forrest. McDonnell responded that Republicans “stand for equal opportunities for all people” and insisted that supporting a gay candidate would not hurt his standing among the party’s more conservative social base:
?I don?t know what she?s doing but I can only say that Patrick and I — and I think all of us in our party — stand for equal opportunities for all people. I think you heard his message about job creation. He?s not focused on divisive social issues. He?s focused on the two things that really matter, getting people back to work and getting our spending and our government under control, and I think that?s what people care about, especially independent voters right now.?
But McDonnell’s own record on issues of “equal rights” is mixed at best. While McDonnell did eventually issue an executive directive prohibiting discrimination ?based on factors such as one?s sexual orientation? in state employment, he doesn’t support extending workplace protections to gays and lesbians in the private sector, arguing that ?there isn?t really any rampant discrimination on any basis in Virginia.? He also opposes marriage equality and gay and lesbian couples adopting children.
I sometimes have occasions to write posts arguing that historic preservation laws are too strict in many cases and are putting a much larger economic burden on cities than people are willing to acknowledge. But I don’t want to come across as a crazy person. So I like to reassure people that I don’t think it’s insane or anything to bear some economic cost in pursuit of aesthetic goals. My go-to example for this when talking to people is usually the Grand Canyon. Obviously we wouldn’t want to despoil a unique element of national beauty for some marginal increase in output. But Kate Sheppard reports that there actually is a movement to start using the Grand Canyon as a uranium mining venue, though fortunately the Bureau of Land Management has officially decided that this is a bad idea.
Which it is! By the same token, I note that the construction of grand museums in which to house old artwork is not a very economically sensible thing to do but we shouldn’t demolish the Metropolitan Museum of Art and mine for uranium there either. Natural resource extraction is an almost uniquely bad economic reason to destroy something of aesthetic value, since if you don’t extract the uranium, you’re not only saving the canyon, you’re also saving the uranium. If for some reason getting more uranium becomes more pressing in the future, we can revisit the decision not to mine, but you can’t really do the reverse.
by Jocelyn Fong, in a Media Matters cross-post
Looking for “another Solyndra,” ABC News has run several reports about $1 billion in federal loans to advanced car companies Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors. ABC’s big scoop last week — that Fisker hired a company in Finland to assemble some if its cars ? was actually a recycled story pushed by Fox News more than two years ago.
ABC delivered another round of reports last night and got some of its facts wrong. Nightline host Terry Moran introduced the segment as a story about Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill:
MORAN: Two and a half years ago President Obama pushed a $787 billion stimulus bill through Congress that he said would create millions of jobs, but now the president’s under attack by critics who say that stimulus hasn’t created a significant number of jobs and costs too much. Tonight ABC’s Brian Ross looks at two companies that received a billion in government loans and asks, what did they do with it?
Actually, these loans don’t have anything to do with the stimulus package (which, by the way, increased employment by 1 to 2.9 million as of August, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. If ABC thinks that isn’t a “significant number,” it should say so.)
The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program was established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which received broad bipartisan support. President Bush and Congress determined that investing in energy-efficient vehicles was worth risking $7.5 billion, which is how much they gave the program to cover the cost of any defaults or delinquencies.
Somehow, ABC managed to avoid mentioning any of this in its three reports on the loans yesterday.
Instead, ABC’s article ? which quotes Mitt Romney saying “the U.S. government shouldn’t be playing venture capitalist” ? is titled, “Republicans Call for Probe of Obama’s Green Car Program.”
ABC’s Brian Ross also said on Nightline that there “are serious questions about whether the billion dollars of taxpayer money the Obama administration has invested in electric car start-ups are worth the risk.” And on World News with Diane Sawyer last night, Ross stated: “The bottom line is that all these green program start ups are risky by their very nature.” But not a word on the origin of the program, which, of course, was designed to support projects that carry some risk and might otherwise not be able to secure adequate financing.
? Joceyln Fong is a researcher with Media Matters. You can find all of Media Matters stellar coverage of Fisker Automotive and Solyndra here.
According to a new survey by the Spectrem Group, “68% of millionaires (those with investments of $1 million or more) support raising taxes on those with $1 million or more in income. Fully 61% of those with net worths of $5 million or more support the tax on million-plus earners.” Spectrem’s George Walper told the Wall Street Journal, ?what this tells us is that there are a number of wealthy folks who said: ?Gee, we need to increase taxes to stimulate the economy. No one likes to be taxed more, but the reality is maybe it has to be done.?”
A recent study, released on 11 October, "Biofuel Markets and Technologies" released by Pike Research states that the global biofuel market will double within the next decade to $183.3 billion from its current level of $82.7 billion, with ethanol production accounting for $78 billion of future worldwide biofuel production, while predicting that biodiesel production will reach $25.5 billion. Perhaps not surprisingly, Pike Research predicts that the US will become the world’s leading biofuel producer, accounting for 71 percent of alternative fuel by 2021.
Colorado-based Pike Research on its website defines itself as "a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets."
How realistic a prediction is this? Many in the media are utilizing . . . → Read More: America Going Green: U.S. to Provide 71% of World’s Biofuels by 2021?
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Rep. Connie Mack (R)
This has to be the most f*cked-up way to launch a campaign I've ever seen:
After passing on a bid earlier this year, GOP Rep. Connie Mack has decided to enter the U.S. Senate race in Florida, POLITICO has learned.
"Connie Mack is entering the Senate race. He is making calls and assembling a team. He will have more to announce in weeks to come. Not only will he be the nominee of the Republican Party, but will defeat the out-of-step, liberal Senator Bill Nelson," Mack adviser David James told POLITICO on Wednesday night.
When asked why the congressman changed his mind, James would only say that he wanted someone to emerge who could defeat Nelson and that "did not happen." He said Mack would address his change of heart more specifically in the coming weeks.
Man. Ridic. Back in March, you'll recall, Mack was all set to enter the race?an advisor even told Politico's Dave Catanese that "there was nothing wrong with saying it's expected" that Mack would make an announcement on Friday the 25th. Instead, everything went absolutely haywire that day, and Mack wound up telling the world he would not run. (And though Catanese openly acknowledged he got burned, he refused to out his lying "source.")
Mack's shocking reversal left the GOP field without its presumptive front-runner. The one man who had sufficient establishment pedigree and nominally acceptable conservative bona fides, state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, turned out to be an astonishing bumbler plagued by gaffes, ethical lapses, and weak fundraising. He wound up bailing in mid-July, which left Republicans desperately hoping for someone better to come along and take on Nelson.
But it wasn't going to be Mack. In August, when asked again, Mack said no. Late in September, the only other remaining savior, the wealthy but ethically questionable Rep. Vern Buchanan, finally declined as well. The GOP was going to have to live with a very weak field indeed.
Then, the next day, Connie Mack started getting frisky again:
"I don't have any intention to run for the Senate," he said, but added, "I'm looking at all the candidates just like everyone else and looking for one to distinguish himself ? to stand out. I would have thought by now that one would."
Asked whether he'd reconsider if that doesn't change, he responded, "My intentions right now are to remain where I am." But when a questioner suggested he wasn't ruling out the idea, he responded, "I'll leave that up to your interpretation."
Quite the about-face for the guy who, when he declined to run in March, had said:
"I've got two small children and it's hard enough to get to spend a lot of good quality time now. I have a wife. They are all very important to me and at the end of the day family has to be number one."
And now the transformation is complete. Mack has somehow managed to go from "expected to run" to "not running" to "still not running" to "no intention to run" to "running." It's enough to make you question his level of fire in the belly, and I think it's going to be difficult for him to articulate why exactly he feels motivated to run now, in late October, after spurning the chance to do so half a year ago.
And while I'm sure the Florida GOP is excited to have a more prominent candidate in the race, and while Mack surely has natural advantages (his father, Connie Mack III, was a two-term senator), he also has been an occasional apostate and may not be loved by the base. As I wrote back in February with regard to a lengthy and interesting profile of Mack in the St. Petersburg Times:
Mack is a hardcore conservative, but remember?it's not just about how you vote, it's about how you belong. And Mack has taken a few stances that put his tribal membership into some doubt, such as "supporting stem cell research, defending WikiLeaks and denouncing Arizona's tough immigration law as Gestapo-like."
A March PPP poll (PDF) suggested he would be the front-runner in the GOP primary, but not by very big margins. While I'd still consider him the favorite for the nomination, I don't know that it will be a smooth ride. And even if he does get the nod, and even if he does raise a ton of money, it will probably be challenging for him to break through on the airwaves when Florida voters are inundated with ten times as many Obama and Romney ads as they are ads for Nelson and Mack.
Don't get me wrong: This is still a good get for Republicans. It's just not as good as it would have been back in March, and I'd still call Nelson the favorite to win the general election. But who knows? Mack could still change his mind... again.