Monday, September 29, 2014

Last Call For The Brothers Very Grim

Since Koch Industries aggressively expanded into high finance, the net worth of each brother has also exploded – from roughly $4 billion in 2002 to more than $40 billion today. In that period, the company embarked on a corporate buying spree that has taken it well beyond petroleum. In 2005, Koch purchased Georgia Pacific for $21 billion, giving the company a familiar, expansive grip on the industrial web that transforms Southern pine into consumer goods – from plywood sold at Home Depot to brand-name products like Dixie Cups and Angel Soft toilet paper. In 2013, Koch leapt into high technology with the $7 billion acquisition of Molex, a manufacturer of more than 100,000 electronics components and a top supplier to smartphone makers, including Apple. 
Koch Supply & Trading makes money both from physical trades that move oil and commodities across oceans as well as in "paper" trades involving nothing more than high-stakes bets and cash. In paper trading, Koch's products extend far beyond simple oil futures. Koch pioneered, for sale to hedge funds, "volatility swaps," in which the actual price of crude is irrelevant and what matters is only the "magnitude of daily fluctuations in prices." Steve Mawer, until recently the president of KS&T, described parts of his trading operation as "black-box stuff." 
Like a casino that bets at its own craps table, Koch engages in "proprietary trading" – speculating for the company's own bottom line. "We're like a hedge fund and a dealer at the same time," bragged Ilia Bouchouev, head of Koch's derivatives trading in 2004. "We can both make markets and speculate." The company's many tentacles in the physical oil business give Koch rich insight into market conditions and disruptions that can inform its speculative bets. When oil prices spiked to record heights in 2008, Koch was a major player in the speculative markets, according to documents leaked by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with trading volumes rivaling Wall Street giants like Citibank. Koch rode a trader-driven frenzy – detached from actual supply and demand – that drove prices above $147 a barrel in July 2008, battering a global economy about to enter a free fall.
Only Koch knows how much money Koch reaped during this price spike. But, as a proxy, consider the $20 million Koch and its subsidiaries spent lobbying Congress in 2008 – before then, its biggest annual lobbying expense had been $5 million – seeking to derail a raft of consumer-protection bills, including the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, the Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008, the Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices Act of 2008 and the Close the Enron Loophole Act.

And these two charming gentlemen have spent hundreds of millions on Republicans for the Senate in 2014, and millions more lobbying Congress to help them make even more money.  These are the guys who really run the country.  They're also one of the largest polluters in America, dumping 2 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every single month.

But hey, America.

House Of Pain, Con't

A grim reminder that most likely the GOP will gain a few seats in the House in November, and the incoming people in January will be even more batshit insane than the current crop of Gohmerts, Bachmanns and other assorted lunatics already infesting the House GOP.

One nominee proposed reclassifying single parenthood as child abuse. Another suggested that four “blood moons” would herald “world-changing, shaking-type events” and said Islam was not a religion but a “complete geopolitical structure” unworthy of tax exemption. Still another labeled Hillary Rodham Clinton “the Antichrist.” 
Congressional Republicans successfully ended their primary season with minimal damage, but in at least a dozen safe or largely safe Republican House districts where more mild-mannered Republicans are exiting, their likely replacements will pull the party to the right, a move likely to increase division in an already polarized Congress. 
“Congressman Hall is a very genial and well-liked guy, and I hope that eventually I’m perceived that way too,” said John Ratcliffe, who in the Texas Republican primary defeated Ralph M. Hall, a 91-year-old with nearly 34 years in the House. But, he added: “The district that I will represent is far more conservative than most districts. Leadership will or should understand what the people in my district want — more conservative approaches and more conservative stands.”

More fights with President Obama.  More blanket opposition to anything Democrats try to do.  More shutdown threats over the debt ceiling, the budget, and everything else.  The GOP will only get worse because the voters voting in GOP primaries are all, well, your typical GOP primary voters.  They want Democrats eliminated from the country, period.

Where are the moderates?  Too busy being purged out of the party I guess.

For the House speaker, John A. Boehner, the newest crop of conservatives will present at best a headache, at worst a leadership challenge. Many, including Mr. Ratcliffe, have refused to commit to voting for him to serve again as speaker, lending potential votes to rebellious conservatives who nearly defeated him in 2013. 
And if Republicans take control of the Senate, the group will probably compound the difficulties House and Senate Republican leaders will have finding legislative unity. 
“Obviously I’m interested in the House going forward with the Senate, and I think there are going to be a lot of challenges,” said Representative Spencer Bachus, Republican of Alabama, who will retire in January and likely be replaced by Gary Palmer, who has helped lead the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank. “A lot of the people who have sat down to solve problems are leaving, those like me that are concerned about the dysfunctionality.” 
As for their replacements, Mr. Bachus said: “I think they love their country every bit as much as we do. I think maybe they’re not as pragmatic.” Mr. Bachus is one of 26 House veterans who are retiring or running for the Senate or were defeated in the primaries.

They love "their" country alright, and the people like them in it.  Everybody else?  Well, you know the drill.  Block them, punish them, hurt them, and there's always Second Amendment Remedies(tm).

2014 will bring a new batch of crazies.  And that will only get worse as the GOP gets worse.

A Black And White World

Normally Hot Air's Jazz Shaw is a pretty reasonable guy for a conservative and regularly resists the kind of overt wingnut impulses of the rest of his compatriots. I say normally, because he greatly disappoints me with this Sunday article where he finds enough "evidence" to indict the media on mentioning black people by race in criminal cases only if they are the victims, and never the suspects.

In all these instances we see a pattern which deserves an explanation from the nation’s media gatekeepers. If America’s reporters are so concerned about race relations in the country that such descriptions are included immediately when discussing a case where a white person is charged with injury to an African American, how is such discussion less valid when the roles are reversed? Violence takes place all the time, and the fact is that both attackers and victims cover the full spectrum of skin tones. If it’s an important question for us to ponder as a nation, are not all examples pertinent to the discussion? As much as some of these news outlets may hate to admit it, black people do, on occasion, commit acts of violence. And sometimes the victims of that violence are white.

But somehow that’s not a story. When reporting those types of crimes, there is an embargo on The B Word. You never read a headline where “a black man” or ” a black cop” stands accused of this or that crime against “an unarmed white man” or “a young white woman.” I was reminded of this yet again watching all the coverage of the arrest in the disappearance of Heather Graham. Read this thirty paragraph story at HuffPo about the arrest of Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., a suspect in the case. If you open that page and place your hand over the picture of Heather you would have no clue as to the races – or even general descriptions – of the persons involved.

Why? Of course, even posing the question immediately brands me as a hopeless, hateful racist in the minds of half the nation and the conversation immediately shuts down. But a responsible media, if they truly wanted to have a frank conversation about racial conflict in America, would be honest enough to tackle this issue.

Note what Shaw has done here: accused the media of being too political correct for his taste, protests that he "can't find any examples" of the media naming the race of the victim and suspect in a crime when the suspect is black and the victim is white, and then preemptively deflects all criticism of his extraordinary claim as accusations of racism, pretty much the Wingnut 101 on race relations.  It boils down to "I'm right, liberals are wrong, and anything they say otherwise is them accusing me of racism."

Frankly, I expect better from Shaw, but I guess I no longer should.

The funny part is Shaw is making the same argument that groups who are very much proud of their racism make, the argument of a somehow unreported epidemic of "black on white crime" in America and that there's a massive conspiracy to keep it that way.  Of course, these white supremacist groups are very eager to push such a narrative:

On Stormfront, a popular white supremacist Internet forum, one poster recently asked people to join in a planned rally against black crime in Knoxville, Tennessee, scheduled for June 2012. The purpose of the rally would be to protest against new trials for black assailants who allegedly tortured and murdered a young white couple in that city in 2007. At that time, the incident mobilized the white supremacist community, which held rallies and distributed flyers that accused the media of ignoring what they considered to be a heinous hate crime. Police in Knoxville who investigated the crime said that the victims had not been targeted because of their race.

In May 2012, the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) announced that it would investigate a number of alleged incidents around the country in which whites were reportedly the victims of crimes committed by black youths or other minorities. In particular, the NSM mentioned an alleged attack against two white reporters by black youths in Norfolk, Virginia, and assaults against white men in Mobile, Alabama, and Baltimore, Maryland. The NSM has called for hate crime charges to be filed in these cases and wrote on its Web site that "if the roles had been reversed and it was a White mob that had attacked a Black citizen, it would have been labeled a 'lynching' by the major media…We have discovered a disturbing pattern of the systematic cover up and refusal of prosecutors to prosecute offenders under these [hate crime] statutes when the perpetrators are Black and the victims are White."

That same month, the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan posted "a warning for white Americans" on their message board that claimed that there has been a significant rise recently in violent black-on-white crime across the country and that "this new racially motivated pandemic is mostly ignored by the liberal news media." The group asserted that it will organize a national distribution of fliers across the county "warning White Americans of the dangers to them and their families when approached by large groups of blacks." They added: "The Liberal Government jew [sic] media refuse to report fairly on these hate crimes so it our duty war our fellow Kinsmen of the violence being perpetrated against our Great Race."

On May 11, 2012, the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) posted an article on its Web site that claimed that a New Jersey newspaper had "censored" the race of the alleged assailants in what it called "savage mob attacks" on five white concertgoers in New Jersey. The CofCC dismissed both the newspaper and police accounts portraying the incident as an "isolated event." According to the CofCC, "almost as alarming as the epidemic violent crime being perpetrated against white people is the blatant media censorship and black-out of the racial element of the incidents."

I'm not racist.  I just make the same argument popular with racists.  Oh sure, maybe I am dismissing his argument because of the very big implied racism message.

Maybe there's a valid reason for that if you sound like Stormfront, WorldNetDaily, the NSM and CofCC?

You're better than this, Jazz.


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