Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Air Apparent In The Supreme Court

With the Supreme Court upholding their 2011 ruling that the EPA can regulate greenhouse gas emissions last June, the latest ploy by energy companies to kill regulatory pressure to clean up their acts is to now go after mercury regulations, and the Supreme Court will indeed hear a challenge to those regulations.

The twist this time?  The regulations are too expensive, according to Big Energy.  You know, some of the most profitable companies on Earth.

The basic question in the new case is whether and when the E.P.A. must take regulation costs into account. The agency’s interpretation is that the Clean Air Act, which requires regulations to be “appropriate and necessary,” does not demand that costs be taken into consideration early in the regulatory process.

In the Supreme Court term that ended in June, the justices heard cases filed by industry groups against two of the Obama administration’s environmental regulations — one aimed at limiting power plant pollution that wafts across state lines, the other at cutting planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

The E.P.A. won the first case and largely prevailed in the second, though the Supreme Court indicated that it remained prepared to impose limits on the agency’s regulatory authority.

The case against the mercury pollution rule is likely to be followed by more fights. The E.P.A. on Wednesday will release a regulation to cut ozone pollution. Next year, the agency is scheduled to finalize rules that would slash greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Environmental law experts say the Supreme Court’s decision in the mercury case may provide some hints about how those other rules might fare.

“Is this part of a larger trend of the Supreme Court exerting greater authority over E.P.A.’s regulations?” asked Roger R. Martella Jr., a general counsel at the agency during President George W. Bush’s administration. The new case is a challenge by more than 20 states, along with industry groups and energy companies.

The problem here is that a broad ruling in favor of corporations could blow a hole in any regulations issued by the Executive Branch, depending on what SCOTUS defines as "appropriate".  The energy companies (and 20 red states) say that at most, the regulations will only generate a couple million dollars in benefits at the cost of nearly $10 billion.  The EPA says it will save 11,000 lives a year.

We'll see how much of a price tag SCOTUS puts on this, with a ruling expected in June.

Taxing Our Patience Again

Ahh, the lame duck session after a midterm election.  Where the truly nasty business goes.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reached a compromise with House Republicans on a package of tax breaks that would permanently extend relief for big multinational corporations without providing breaks for middle or lower-income families, individuals with knowledge of the deal tell ThinkProgress. 
Under the terms of the $444 billion agreement, lawmakers would phase out all tax breaks for clean energy and wind energy but would maintain fossil fuel subsidies. Expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit would also end in 2017, even though the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that allowing the provisions to expire would push “16 million people in low-income working families, including 8 million children into — or deeper into — poverty.” The proposal would help students pay for college by making permanent the American Permanent Opportunity Tax Credit, a Democratic priority. 
Meanwhile, two-thirds of the package would make permanent tax provisions that are intended to help businesses, including a research and development credit, small business expensing, and a reduction in the S-Corp recognition period for built-in gains tax.

The costs of the package will not be offset.

So roughly $300 billion for businesses, and the middle class gets hosed in the deal.  Nice.  The big loser, green energy, the big winner, oil.

Same as it ever was, too.  Question is will Obama sign it? 

The answer, thankfully, appears to be "no".

Obama objected and responded in an unusual way yesterday. The White House issued a veto threat before lawmakers released the plan publicly, siding with progressive groups and advocates for a lower budget deficit over his own party’s Senate leaders.

“The president would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families,” Jen Friedman, a White House spokeswoman, said in an e-mail yesterday.

Good.  We'll see how well this deal holds up now.

StupidiNews!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Last Call For No Justice

And I know, twice in one day, but Rand Paul is that much of an embarrassment.

Reforming criminal justice to make it racially blind is imperative, but that won’t lift up these young men from poverty. In fact, I don’t believe any law will. For too long, we’ve attached some mythic notion to government solutions and yet, 40 years after we began the War on Poverty, poverty still abounds. 
When you look at statistics for the white community alone, you see that we’ve become two separate worlds in which the successful are educated and wait to have children until they are married, and those in poverty are primarily those without higher education and with children outside of marriage. 
This message is not a racial one. The link between poverty, lack of education, and children outside of marriage is staggering and cuts across all racial groups. Statistics uniformly show that waiting to have children in marriage and obtaining an education are an invaluable part of escaping poverty. 
I have no intention to scold, but escaping the poverty and crime trap will require more than just criminal justice reform. Escaping the poverty trap will require all of us to relearn that not only are we our brother’s keeper, we are our own keeper. While a hand-up can be part of the plan, if the plan doesn’t include the self-discovery of education, work, and the self-esteem that comes with work, the cycle of poverty will continue.

Get a job, poor people.  The government's not responsible for you.  Unless, ironically, you end up in prison.  Which Rand Paul is trying to prevent, see.  Classice Rand Paul here, there's no government solution to a system that was never designed to help black people.

Bonus No Intention To Scold Scolding:

I will continue the fight to reform our nation’s criminal justice system, but in the meantime, the call should go out for a charismatic leader, not a politician, to preach a gospel of hope and prosperity. I have said often America is in need of a revival. Part of that is spiritual. Part of that is in civics, in our leaders, in our institutions. We must look at policies, ideas, and attitudes that have failed us and we must demand better.

Why can't your African-American church leaders take care of it?  I'm a politician, and it's not my job to fix your poverty, but I'll sure as hell shame and scold you for it.

Nice.

Red In Tooth And Claw

Can we officially take West Virginia off the map now for Democrats, and stop pretending it's anything but South Carolina with mountains?

Election night was bad for Democrats all over the country, but arguably there were few states where it was worse for their future — and better for Republicans — than in West Virginia. 
Democrats in the state, long accustomed to controlling virtually every part of the government, lost a Senate race and two competitive House races. They secured a majority in the state legislature’s lower house for the first time in eight decades, and after a postelection party switch gave up control of the state Senate as well. Come January, Republicans will hold all of West Virginia’s congressional House seats for the first time since 1921. They even elected the nation’s youngest legislator, 18-year-old Saira Blair, to the state house
Like Arkansas in 2010, West Virginia seems to have turned a corner from being a Democratic-dominated state to a Republican one. The switch started years ago, when Republican presidential candidates were able to win the state by appealing to its socially conservative voters, regardless of their party affiliation. But in state politics, Republicans struggled to win key offices, or even to field candidates. As recently as 2008, two statewide posts held by Democrats, auditor and treasurer, were uncontested in the general election. 
Republicans deserve much of the credit for the current situation: They had a strong, popular candidate for this year’s Senate race, Shelley Moore Capito, who represents the state in the House of Representatives and is the daughter of a former governor. Evan Jenkins, the candidate they fielded against Nick Rahall II, the longtime Democratic congressman from the southern portion of the state, was a former Democrat who represented part of the area in the state Senate. 
In addition, Republicans capitalized on an electorate resentful of President Obama’s environmental policies, which have received little support in a state where coal mining has long played a big part in the economy and in politics. Even with an open race for the presidency in two years, it’s doubtful that any Democratic hopeful could sway a large number of voters in state contests.

Let's put this out there right now, kids:  Hillary Clinton is not going to magically win West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, or Georgia in 2016, so let's stop pretending the South is in play, other than North Carolina and Virginia.

There's not a state that Obama didn't win in either 2008 or 2012 that Hillary will somehow be able to pull off an upset in.  Period.  Not happening.  Will Hillary get more of the white vote?  Yes.  It's going to come at the expense of the black vote however, because we remember the games Hillary played in 2007 and 2008.  And I think 2014 is proof enough that not every Democrat is going to vote blue just to keep Republicans from winning.

Stand With Rand In Quicksand, Con't

Please tell me again how Rand Paul won't be like other Republicans if elected as President, especially because of his hands-off foreign policy.

In a draft of the resolution obtained by The Daily Beast, Paul states that “the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State has declared war on the United States and its allies” and that ISIS “presents a clear and present danger to United States diplomatic facilities in the region, including our embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and consulate in Erbil, Iraq.” 
The Obama administration has justified the bombing campaign against ISIS by claiming that it is enabled by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Afghanistan, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. Paul’s resolution would terminate the latter and place an expiration date on the former, one year after the passing of his resolution. 
Perhaps most surprisingly, Paul’s resolution will allow for limited use of boots on the ground “as necessary for the protection or rescue of members of the United States Armed Forces or United States citizens from imminent danger [posed by ISIS]… for limited operations against high value targets,” and “as necessary for advisory and intelligence gathering operations.”

So yeah, President Paul would send us into a ground war in Iraq and possibly Syria.  But please tell me how horrible Democrats are on this issue, yadda yadda libertarian freedom.

I will say this until people get it through their thick skulls:  Rand Paul is a right-wing Tea Party Republican, and so are the people who support him.

StupidiNews!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Last Call For Justice

No true bill of indictment.

Darren Wilson has gotten away with the murder of Michael Brown.

This is America in 2014.  Black lives are meaningless.

Good night, those of you who will be able to sleep tonight.

A Noun, Some Racism, And 9/11

America's Mayor(tm) lets the mask slip and exposes the truly ugly stuff that was always, always there just under the surface.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) got into a heated argument about race and crime with Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson during a discussion on Ferguson, Mo. 
"But the fact is, I find it very disappointing that you're not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We're talking about the exception here," Giuliani said on NBC's "Meet the Press" while discussing whether police forces reflect the demographics of the communities they serve.

Dyson called this a "false equivalency."

Which it is.  Dyson has plenty of "you boys need to pull up your pants and be respectable-lookin to white folk" moments, but here he's correct.  Giuliani on the other hand...

Later in the argument Giuliani argued that while police officers are only present in certain communities because black people are committing crimes. 
"It is the reason for the heavy police presence in the black community," he said. "White police officers won't be there if you weren't killing each other 70 percent of the time."

Because we're violent, sub-human savages who need to be caged or better yet, gunned down.  Former mayor of NYC and one-time Presidential candidate saying this, just so you know.

No, he won't apologize for it, either.

"Here's what I'm very frustrated about with Ferguson, and all these situations," he told "Fox and Friends" co-host Steve Doocey. "These things happen and they are exceptions." 
“The danger to a black child in America is not a white police officer. That’s going to happen less than one percent of the time," he later added. "The danger to a black child -- if it was my child -- the danger is another black.” 
Giuliani went on to suggest that Ferguson protestors ("these people") should spend more time "trying to straighten out" crime in the black community
"I used to look at our crime reduction, and the reason we reduced homicide by 65 percent is because we reduced it in the black community," Giuliani said of his time as mayor. "Because there is virtually no homicide in the white community."

The FBI would like to disagree with Mr. Giuliani on that last point.  I'll disagree with him everywhere else.

Yes, he's just another hateful Republican and always has been.

Two Buck Chucked

The first post-midterm Obama cabinet head to roll is apparently going to be that ofDefense Secretary Chuck Hagel. NY Times:

The president, who is expected to announce Mr. Hagel’s resignation in a Rose Garden appearance on Monday, made the decision to ask his defense secretary — the sole Republican on his national security team — to step down last Friday after a series of meetings over the past two weeks, senior administration officials said. 
The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration. 
But now “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,” one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave. 
But Mr. Hagel’s aides had maintained in recent weeks that he expected to serve the full four years term as defense secretary. His removal appears to be an effort by the White House to show that it is sensitive to critics who have pointed to stumbles in the government’s early response to several national security issues, including the Ebola crisis to the threat posed by the Islamic State militant group.

Take that as you will. Holder resigning, now Hagel out. Looks like the GOP Senate is going to be able to cause a lot of damage blocking cabinet appointees with the President no longer able to make recess appointments except for a narrow window after the midterm lame duck session.

StupidiNews!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Do The Huckleberry Split

So that House GOP Benghazi report issued Friday evening that found no wrongdoing by the White House and in fact proved that the last two years was a massive waste of taxpayer dollars in a witch hunt against President Obama and Hillary Clinton?

Of course it was a Democratic party conspiracy!  Huckleberry Graham says so!

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday blasted a House GOP-led investigation that recently debunked myths about the 2012 Benghazi attack.  
“I think the report is full of crap,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”  
The House Intelligence Committee released a report on Friday evening, which took two years to compile, that found there was no outright intelligence failure during the attack, there was no delay in the rescue of U.S. personnel and there was no political cover-up by Obama administration officials. 
After Graham was asked whether the report exonerates the administration, he initially ignored the question, and then eventually said “no.”  
The House Intelligence panel, Graham said, is “doing a lousy job policing their own.”  

The CIA and State Department lied about everything, so of course the report is full of lies by lying liars who only exist to protect Democrats, or something.  And only Huckleberry Graham knows the truth, which is...umm...well, he doesn't know for sure and he can't prove it but obviously it's a massive coverup.  BENGHAZI FOREVER.

Sure, that's reasonable.  Republicans are reasonable, you know.  As Steve M says, this will never go away.  It'll be Bill Clinton's Whitewater and Vince Foster murder rolled into one that will be "conventional wisdom" about Obama forever.

And it will remain so because nobody will ever punish the GOP for acting like conspiracy nutcases, or BEING conspiracy nutcases.

Another Tantrum For The Pile

With the deadline for the West's nuclear deal with Iran looming on Monday, Israel is trying to do everything it can to wreck any diplomacy it can by threatening that any nuclear pact with Iran will lead to eventual Israeli military action against Tehran.

Without an exit ramp, Israel insists its hands will not be tied by an agreement reached this week, this month or next, should it contain a clause that ultimately normalizes Iran's home-grown enrichment program.

On the surface, its leadership dismisses fears that Israel will be punished or delegitimized if it disrupts an historic, international deal on the nuclear program with unilateral military action against its infrastructure.

By framing the deal as fundamentally flawed, regardless of its enforcement, Israel is telling the world that it will not wait to see whether inspectors do their jobs as ordered.

"Ten, fifteen years in the life of a politician is a long time," the Israeli said, in a vague swipe against the political directors now scrambling in Vienna. "In the life of a nation, it's nothing."

Problem number one: Israel won't comply with any Iranian deal it doesn't like.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened the use of force against Iran several times since 2009, even seeking authorization from his cabinet in 2011. Iran's program has since grown in size and scope.

According to his aides, the prime minister's preference is not war, but the continuation of a tight sanctions regime on Iran's economy coupled with a credible threat of military force. Netanyahu believes more time under duress would have led to an acceptable deal. But that opportunity, in his mind, may now be lost.

Whether Israel still has the ability to strike Iran, without American assistance, is an open question. Quoted last month in the Atlanticmagazine, US officials suggested that window for Netanyahu closed over two years ago.

But responding to claims by that same official, quoted by Jeffrey Goldberg, over Netanyahu's courage and will, the Israeli official responded sternly: "The prime minister is a very serious man who knows the serious responsibility that rests on his shoulders. He wouldn't say the statements that he made if he didn't mean them."

"People have underestimated Israel many, many times in the past," he continued, "and they underestimate it now."

Problem number two:  there's no deal with Iran that Obama and John Kerry can broker that Israel will accept as legitimate and "not fundamentally flawed".

That leaves us in a position where Israel is guaranteeing it will attack Iran in order to sink any deal.  Well, attack Iran at some unspecified future point, but still, it's not helping. 

Of course, that's the point.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Grand Screwing Continues

No decision yet from the grand jury in Ferguson trying to determine if there's enough evidence to try Office Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, but now we have a story about two men arrested for trying to purchase weapons and disrupt protests in town.

And of course, the Ferguson cops say they are New Black Panthers.

No, really.

Two men who allegedly purchased explosive material they may have been planning to use in protests in Ferguson, Mo. were arrested by the FBI on weapons charges, multiple news outlets reported late Friday.

An indictment returned Wednesday and unsealed Friday accused Brandon Orlando Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis of lying on forms to purchase guns, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The indictment states that between Nov. 1 and Nov. 13 the men purchased two Hi-Point .45 ACP pistols claiming that Baldwin was the buyer while the weapons were actually intended for someone else, according to the newspaper.

Anonymous law enforcement sources told CBS News and Reuters that Baldwin and Davis also allegedly purchased explosive material for potential use in protests around Ferguson, where agrand jury decision on whether to indict white police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown is imminent.

Police sources told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Reuters and ABC News that the two men are suspected of being affiliated with the New Black Panther Party. A source briefed on the arrests told ABC News that the weapons charges were filed against the two men in order to "take them out of the rotation."

How convenient.  Police sources.  "Take them out of the rotation".

Sure.

Ben-Gone-Zi

Seems that after two years of trying to find some way to tie the deaths of a US ambassador and three other State Department employees in Benghazi, Libya to direct negligence by either the President or Hillary Clinton, the GOP House Intel Committee investigation has found...

...NothingNo wrongdoing by anyone in the administration.

A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.

The House Intelligence Committee report was released with little fanfare on the Friday before Thanksgiving week. Many of its findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel. The eighth Benghazi investigation is being carried out by a House Select Committee appointed in May.

So the House GOP buried it in a Friday night news dump last night, because it's a massive embarrassment to them, and the last thing they want to do is have to explain to taxpayers why they wasted millions of dollars on over a half-a-dozen witch hunts against a President they despise, and found absolutely nothing.

But remember, it's Obama that chose "confrontation over cooperation" with Republicans, Republicans who never had any intention of working with him.
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