Thursday, March 7, 2013

Last Call

Democratic Sen. Carl Levin is out in Michigan for 2014.

Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called it an "extremely difficult" decision and stated that he'll better serve his Michigan constituents in the next two years of his term by not being distracted by a campaign.

"This decision was extremely difficult because I love representing the people of Michigan in the U.S. Senate and fighting for the things that I believe are important to them," he said in a statement.

During the remainder of his time in Washington, Levin said he plans to focus on his continued push for stricter rules against tax avoidance, saying tax loopholes that allow off-shore accounts are "a major drain on our treasury." He also wants to fight to boost manufacturing and address what he sees as serious flaws in campaign finance laws.

Further, Levin expressed concern about the government's fiscal problems on the military and showed a strong desire to ensure a "rapid transfer of responsibility for Afghan security to the Afghans." 

If anyone knows who will be a good egg to replace Levin, it's Chris Savage at EclectaBlog.  We'll see what he has to say on Levin.

Personally, I say the Dems will keep the seat, but the GOP has got to be salivating over it.  Going to be a tough battle...

Punish The Poor, Carolina Style

The GOP takeover of North Carolina continues, and the latest bit of wacky fun will cost every one of the people who voted for Republicans dearly in extra taxes.

With the Senate's final approval Wednesday, a measure to let a modest state tax credit for low- and moderate-income taxpayers expire in 2013 is headed to Gov. Pat McCrory.

The measure sunsets the earned income tax credit (EITC) -- after a one-year extension -- drew the scorn of Democrats, who unsuccessfully sought to extend it. The legislation lowers the state's tax break slightly for the 2013 tax year because the federal tax credit increased.

Republicans said the bill is standard fixes to "decouple" the state from federal tax policy. But Democrats link it with efforts this session to curtail unemployment benefits and prevent Medicaid expansion to show the majority party is disregarding the poor.

Yep, in addition to having the lowest unemployment benefits in the entire country, and mass purging the state's regulators, Gov. McCrory refuses Medicaid expansion, and will now almost certainly add to the tax burden of the state's poor.

It's pretty clear what McCrory is trying to do:  drive off the state's poor people to other states and make them Virginia, South Carolina, or Tennessee's problem.  Congrats, folks back home.  You get the government you vote for, every single time. 

Enjoy your austerity regime!

Read more here:

Spiking The Earth's Punchbowl

Meanwhile, all this talk of sequestration and political combat pales in comparison to some nasty news about climate change and carbon today:  it's getting worse, and it's getting worse faster.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere underwent one of its biggest single-year jumps ever in 2012, according to researchers at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Between the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2013, carbon dioxide levels increased by 2.67 parts per million — a rise topped only by the spike in 1998.

By comparison, global carbon levels averaged a yearly rise of just under 2 parts per million from 2000 to 2010, and increased by less than 1 part per million in the 1960s. The 2012 rise makes it that much more unlikely that global warming can be limited to the 2 degree Celsius threshold most scientist agree is the bare minimum necessary to avoid truly catastrophic levels of climate change. The Associated Press has the report :

Carbon dioxide levels jumped by 2.67 parts per million since 2011 to total just under 395 parts per million, says Pieter Tans, who leads the greenhouse gas measurement team for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
That’s the second highest rise in carbon emissions since record-keeping began in 1959. The measurements are taken from air samples captured away from civilization near a volcano in Mauna Loa, Hawaii.
More coal-burning power plants, especially in the developing world, are the main reason emissions keep going up – even as they have declined in the U.S. and other places, in part through conservation and cleaner energy.
At the same time, plants and the world’s oceans which normally absorb some carbon dioxide, last year took in less than they do on average, says John Reilly, co-director of Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. Plant and ocean absorption of carbon varies naturally year to year.

Needless to say, climate change, and the Republican efforts to block any efforts to do anything about it, will haunt America for generations.  I'm more sure of that than ever.  My own Congressman, MIT-educated inventor and businessman, Republican Rep. Thomas Massie?

I know he's not a moron when it comes to science.  The guy won the Lemelson prize, MIT's yearly award for inventors, and he founded his own tech company in 1995.

And yet he's cracking lame ass jokes about snow and global warming.  Just to be with the cool kids.  I'll tell you what, this guy is a piece of work, and it's only been a couple of months. If there's any Republican who should be championing science, it's the MIT inventor.

Alas, he's also a Republican businessman who thinks Rand Paul is just ultra cool.  Jesus wept.


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