Tuesday Mashup (2/12/13)

February 12, 2013
  • It looks like VA Repug governor Bob McDonnell was in these parts recently telling the party faithful that the “pity party” is over (here).

    So what does he propose as a “solution” to his party’s recent electoral woes?

    It’s time for Republicans to stop coming across as sour-faced free-market scolds, he said. Conservative principles are not the problem, he said; history has shown small government and free markets to be the world’s best engines for human freedom. The problem? Tone. It’s time for Republicans to be “happy warriors,” he said.

    Yeah, it’s the tone, that’s all.

    Maybe McDonnell should sing and dance while trying to cheat Virginia public employees out of “Obamacare” coverage (here). Either that, or he could sponsor a karaoke night to publicize legislation that, in essence, makes discrimination by university student groups in his state legal (here).

    Or how about a happy hour announcing plans to pay for road construction in VA by taxing the poor (here)? Or an all-night bowling marathon to announce restrictive new anti-abortion regulations that McDonnell certified, as noted here?

    McDonnell and his pals think that all they need to do is dump more perfume on the proverbial pig, and that will be good enough to start reversing his party’s sorry electoral trend. Fine – he should go with that (and as usual on this matter and many others also, I trust the sage words of Professor Krugman, as noted here).

  • Next, I give you the following (here)…

    Subsidies for wind power could lead to the shutdown of nuclear power plants, warned Exelon Corp. CEO Christopher Crane.

    “What worries me is if we continue to build an excessive amount of wind and subsidize wind, the unintended consequence could be that it leads to shutting down plants,” Crane told the Chicago Tribune, adding that states which have subsidized wind power might see jobs disappear if nuclear plants shut down.

    A report by the NorthBridge group found that this “negative pricing” of electricity from wind subsidies means less investment will go into conventional power generation which imperils the reliability of the electrical system.

    This is about what we can expect from Crane; as noted here, the nuke industry has been doing all it can to fight the so-called “production tax credit” that funds wind energy development, stupidly pitting one source of energy development against another (the Think Progress post also tells us that the “study” by the NorthBridge Group, an economic and strategic consulting firm upon which Crane’s alarmism is based, has been described as “deeply flawed” by TP Guest Blogger Richard W. Caperton for the reasons he cites).

    Also, this tells us the following about the phenomenon of “negative pricing”…

    Michael Goggin, (the American Wind Energy Association’s) manager of transmission policy, said negative prices in the wholesale electricity market are rare and occur because there is not sufficient transmission. But the problem, he said, is isolated to certain regions and will be alleviated in the coming months and years as new power lines are built to connect customers to pockets of wind power in Texas and Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

    Goggin also said wind energy is inexpensive, regardless of the tax incentives, because wind power has no fuel cost and has extremely low variable costs for operation and maintenance. The PTC, he said, has very little effect on real-time electricity prices. Electricity prices have also been going “negative” for decades because nuclear reactors exceed power demand at night, he said.

    “Claims that the wind energy production tax credit is causing negative prices are misguided, as negative prices are extremely rare and would occur anyway even if the [production tax credit] did not exist,” Goggin wrote in a blog post this week.

    And as you might expect, TP tells us that Congressional Repugs Lamar Alexander and Mike Pompeo are working with Crane and Exelon in their efforts to “break wind” (sorry…too easy).

  • Continuing, I give you another Ron Fournier special from The National Journal (here)…

    White House officials tell me they feel stung by coverage of the inaugural address. Reporters highlighted the president’s left-leaning stances on immigration, gun control, climate change and gay and women’s rights. Obama’s aides argue that he devoted more inaugural address language to the economy, jobs and the deficit than all other issues combined.

    Still, the perception remains that Obama lost focus on the economy — the top issue in the minds of most voters.

    I cannot possibly imagine that I will ever teach a course in journalism, but if I did and I received something like this from a student, I would fail that person (I know it’s been a little while since we visited with Fournier, but he was notorious for stuff like this when he was employed by the AP).

    For you see, Obama’s “left-leaning” stance on immigration is actually quite popular (here), as is his stance on gun control (here). And while he could’ve done more on the climate, consider his Repug opposition in Congress as well as some coal-state Democrats, including Bob Casey, as noted here (and how can his stance be “left-leaning” when he really hasn’t been able to do much about it?). Also, Obama enjoys majority support on the issue of marriage equality (here), and the LGBT community definitely came out, as they say, for him in ’08 here (and as far as I’m concerned, Fourier’s reference to “women’s rights” is just corporate media shorthand for the Repugs’ war on those dreaded lady parts, and to see whether or not that was successful, look at the results of the last election).

    This is part and parcel of how Fournier operates, though; as noted here, he told Karl Rove to “keep up the fight” and continue to ignore subpoenas from Congress; in that same post, I also pointed out that Fournier used the occasion of Dubya commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence to attack the Clintons (???) and also said that a “Democratic interest group” aired a TV ad comparing Dubya to Hitler, which was and remains false. He also claimed here that Obama needed Biden to shore up his “weakness” on foreign policy, a “weakness” shared by almost every single other Presidential candidate who has ever run for the job in the last 20 or so years, with the possible exceptions of Poppy Bush, John Kerry, and “Straight Talk” McCain back when he was an actual maverick.

    Unsubstantiated dreck like this exists for one reason only, and that is to propagate the utterly false narrative that Number 44 is really some sort of a closet liberal who (and you just watch!) is going to totally turn over a new leaf one day and resurrect his ACORN army to take everyone’s guns and start dropping money from helicopters for “the poors” and “the blahs” (and this will happen right about at the time when austerity actually creates full employment).

  • Finally, I would like to recall some items to commemorate the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, as noted here (to begin, I didn’t know he could actually do that – I thought part of the job description is that those guys had to “die with their boots on”…shows what I know).
  • Here, he gave a speech about the prophet Muhammad and Islam in which he referred to “jihad” and “holy war” (oops – the apology came soon thereafter).
  • He defended “intelligent design” here and expressed the hope that he would have a “short papacy” (looks like he’ll get his wish).
  • He said that condoms promoted African AIDS, or words to that effect, here (yes, I know Church teaching on that subject, but particularly in that area of the world, condoms save lives).
  • There was a time when he was putting his foot in his mouth on a regular basis (a compilation is here), though he definitely tightened up his message discipline, as they say.
  • He, at best, tolerated “liberation theology” when he should have embraced it (here).
  • Announced “The Ten Commandments For Drivers” here (“Thou shalt not txt OMG!! while changing lanes eastbound on the PA Turnpike weeknights at 6 PM.”)
  • To be fair, I should note that he spoke out strongly in defense of the environment here (Think Progress notes this and other positive and negative moments with Benedict here).
  • There were times when I wanted to smack my open palm against my forehead while Benedict was pope. And make no mistake that the Catholic Church has taken an ever-harder right turn under his watch. But as a Roman Catholic, it would be fundamentally wrong for me not to acknowledge that, until he steps down, he remains the Vicar of Christ, and as such, I’ll pray for his good health.

    Update: John Patrick Shanley has the guts to actually say what I only thought about here.

  • More Race Ramblings And Douthat Delusions

    July 20, 2009

    ROSS-DOUTHAT-BILL-KRISTOL-largeI guess it took a well-deserved day off to Paul Krugman for the New York Times to finally allow print column space to its conservative quota hire columnist Ross Douthat (as you may recall, he got the nod when Kristol Mess – both pictured – finally gave up the editorial ghost on the pages of the “Old Gray Lady” last January).

    And since it is the habit of individuals of Douthat’s political persuasion to flog “values voter” issues absolutely to death while most of this country focuses on matters of actual substance instead, we are treated today to another rehash of the confirmation hearings last week of Judge Sonia Sotomayor and the perceived impact on race relations in this country (and by the way, Frank Rich’s column yesterday, which started off as a review of the hearings but ended up as an indictment of much of the Repug congressional “Class of ’94,” was one of the best columns he’s ever written).

    Thus, buried in Douthat’s column, we find the following…

    A system designed to ensure the advancement of minorities will tend toward corruption if it persists for generations, even after the minorities have become a majority. If affirmative action exists in the America of 2028, it will be as a spoils system for the already-successful, a patronage machine for politicians — and a source of permanent grievance among America’s shrinking white population.

    You can see this landscape taking shape in academia, where the quest for diversity is already as likely to benefit the children of high-achieving recent immigrants as the descendants of slaves. You can see it in the backroom dealing revealed by Ricci v. DeStefano, where the original decision to deny promotions to white firefighters was heavily influenced by a local African-American “kingmaker” with a direct line to New Haven’s mayor. You can hear it in the resentments gathering on the rightward reaches of the talk-radio dial.

    “The resentments gathering on the rightward reaches of the talk-radio dial” are indicative of nothing except whites who apparently need to have their feelings assuaged as their world of monotone politicians pandering to yesterday’s talking points, Faux News humanoids concocting real outrage over imaginary slights from an African American president, and unofficially restricted access to swim clubs and other bastions of suburban comfort collapse around them.

    More to the point, though, this article in the New Haven Independent tells us of the Rev. Boise Kimber, the “kingmaker” Douthat is referring to in his column (the article tells us the following)…

    At issue in Monday’s Supreme Court decision was whether Kimber is Exhibit A for how crude racial politics trumped merit and fairness in the case of the “New Haven 20.”

    Kimber clearly made an impression on the court.

    Justices Samuel Alito singled out Kimber in a concurring opinion to Ricci v. DeStefano, the case in which a 5-4 majority ruled that New Haven can’t ignore the results of a fire department promotional exam just because no African-Americans scored high enough.

    Alito, in an opinion also signed by Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, noted that “even the District Court” (the lower court that ruled on behalf of the city in this case) “admitted that ‘a jury could rationally infer that city officials worked behind the scenes to sabotage the promotional examinations because they knew that, were the exams certified, the Mayor would incur the wrath of [Rev. Boise] Kimber and other influential leaders of New Haven’s African-American community.”

    The opinion proceeds to present a three-paragraph attack bio of the good reverend, going back decades over terrain familiar to Kimber’s New Haven critics.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who sided with the city in the case, takes on Alito’s Kimber-bashing in a dissenting opinion. She argues that Alito “exaggerates” Kimber’s influence and his role in “engineering” the outcome.

    She notes how Alito “recounts at length the alleged machinations of Rev. Boise Kimber (a local political activist), Mayor John DeStefano, and certain members of the mayor’s staff.”

    She then points out that neither Kimber nor the mayor’s staff made the call to disregard the exam results. The mayorally appointed Civil Service Board, “an unelected, politically insulated body,” in Ginsburg’s telling, made that decision.

    She calls it “striking that Justice Alito’s concurrence says hardly a word about the CSB itself, perhaps because there is scant evidence that its motivation was anything other than to comply with Title VII’s disparate impact provision.”

    And, she points out, the firefighters union — another politically influential group — was just as vocal on the opposite side as Kimber.

    “The real issue, then, is not whether the mayor and his staff were politically motivated; it is whether their attempt to score political points was legitimate (i.e., non-discriminatory),” Ginsburg writes. “Were they seeking to exclude white firefighters from promotion (unlikely, as a fair test would undoubtedly result in the addition of white firefighters to the officer ranks), or did they realize, at least belatedly, that their tests could be toppled in a disparate-impact suit?”

    (Another glorious moment from “Strip Search Sammy,” former “Concerned Alumni of Princeton” member…)

    And by the way, I had an issue with Douthat’s column last Monday, but I was not able to follow up on it because I had to close up shop for a few days. However, I can do so now.

    Douthat wrote about the third papal encyclical written by Benedict XVI titled “Caritas in Veritate” (translated to “Charity In Truth”) and among other things, tells us the following…

    When a pope criticizes legalized abortion, liberal Catholics nod and say that yes, they agree, it’s a terrible tragedy … but of course they can’t impose their religious values on a secular society. When a pope endorses the redistribution of wealth, conservative Catholics stroke their chins and say that yes, they agree, society needs a safety net … but of course they’re duty-bound to oppose the tyranny of big government.

    According to Wikipedia, Douthat is affiliated with the Catholic faith, which to me is odd considering that last sentence. I know of no teaching I have ever encountered or experienced in any way that affirms his claim that I am “duty bound to oppose the tyranny of big government.”

    This Wikipedia article tells us, among other things, that Catholic social activism was prominent in the early history of labor unions in this country.


    More recent examples of catholic social justice in action is the Campaign for Human Development created in part as an outgrowth of the work of Msgr. Geno Baroni, who founded the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs (NCUEA). NCUEA spawned, funded and trained hundreds of parish, neighborhood and community based organizations, organizers, credit unions, and local programs. Baroni’s Catholic social justice in action included notable proteges, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-OH, currently the longest serving woman in Congress and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD. President Barack Obama’s first community organizing project was funded by the Campaign for Human Development.[2]

    So, far from opposing “big government,” I would say that Catholicism was very much a part of it, and for the better; also, this tells us of Father Robert Drinan, a Jesuit priest who served as a Democratic U.S. Representative from Massachusetts (he was the first member of Congress to introduce a resolution of impeachment against Richard Nixon, not for Watergate, but for Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War – Drinan was forced to step down when Pope John Paul II forbade members of the clergy from serving in public office).

    Douthat tells us that “‘Caritas in Veritate’ is an invitation to think anew about alliances and litmus tests” for both liberals and conservatives. That is indeed a worthy goal.

    It would be worthier still if the columnist himself practiced a bit of that himself before he compelled others to do so instead.

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