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E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post inquires—Is the GOP giving up tea?

The botched rollout of the health-care law has called forth some good news: Republicans are so confident they can ride anti-Obamacare sentiment to electoral victory that they’re growing ever-more impatient with the tea party’s fanaticism. Immigration reform may be the result. [...]

Obamacare’s troubles reinforced the flight from the brink. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is telling his rank-and-file that they can win the 2014 elections simply by avoiding the stupid mistakes their more-ferocious colleagues keep urging them to make. In this view, the health insurance issue will take care of everything, provided Republicans end their tea party fling.

In fact, it’s an illusion for the GOP to think that bashing Obamacare is an elixir, especially if Democrats embrace and defend the law. Now that its benefits are fully kicking in, Republicans should be asked persistently, “Who do you want to throw off health insurance?”

Douglas K. Smith at The New York Times writes A New Way to Rein in Fat Cats:
We should then enact laws to ensure that top-paid federal executives — and, critically, top-paid executives of companies that do business with the federal government — are never paid in excess of 20-to-1 (or perhaps even 27-to-1) compared with their lowest-paid workers.

Perhaps we could start with companies that bid on contracts (or receive no-bid contracts) above some threshold. Here are some recent top federal contractors and what Bloomberg News estimates as the ratio of top pay to the average worker’s: Oracle, 1,287-to-1; General Electric, 491-to-1; AT&T, 339-to-1; and Lockheed Martin, 315-to-1.

Common sense and tradition point to limits for those in government. It is our money, after all

Common sense, you may have noticed, is increasingly uncommon.

More pundit excerpts can be found below the fold.

Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic writes—Farewell to Henry Waxman, a Liberal Hero:

For most lawmakers, a congressional legacy consists of a few minor achievements—or, maybe, one major piece of legislation. Waxman’s legacy is whole swaths of the modern welfare and regulatory state. The list of laws for which he deserves substantial credit is simply staggering—not only for its length, but also for its breadth. Waxman was behind the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments, plus laws regulating lead, greenhouse gas emissions, and formaldehyde. That arguably makes him his generation’s most influential lawmaker on environmental issues.

He was also behind a series of Medicaid expansions, the Ryan White Care Act, the Orphan Drug Act, the Waxman-Hatch Generic Drug Act, and, of course, the Affordable Care Act. That almost certainly makes him the most influential living lawmaker on health care issues. Other major accomplishments include the Food Quality Protection Act and the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act—and, somewhere along the way, he found time to modernize the postal service.

What makes Waxman’s record particularly remarkable is how much of it he compiled when his party didn’t control the White House. “Note, for example, that the Medicaid expansions that got all pregnant women and all children covered occurred during the Reagan Administration," says Timothy Westmoreland, a longtime advisor on health care issues. "Note also the development of his close working relationship with C. Everett Koop, who arrived in Washington as an anti-abortion activist.”

How has Waxman done it? For one thing, Waxman recognizes that lawmaking requires patience and persistence—that you have to build the case for legislation, through investigations and stagecraft, even if that takes years or even decades.

Ana Marie Cox at The Guardian writes—The president should be talking about guns (and gun control) a lot more.:
I understand that Obama has vowed to do what he can to limit access to guns "with or without" Congress, but it's clear that his administration sees mass shootings as their best leverage to accomplish the more substantial changes that come with new federal regulation. It's equally clear that it isn't working. I have some suggestions for a shift in emphasis.

Perhaps the White House believes the deaths of children are the most sympathetic emotional wedge. Fine. If you look at the data, Obama should have been talking about gun control legislation in the Senate twice a day, as 215 children died in the 99 days the Senate was in session last year. As many have argued, Americans are becoming numb to gun violence. If it's the scale of a tragedy that might inspire Congress, the murder of, say, three or more, then he should have hammered at them about once every two and half hours, the entire year. Over 12,000 people, adults and children, died from gun violence in 2013 – about 30 a day.

Zoë Carpenter at The Nation writes that the State Department's Environmental Report Leaves the Door Open for Keystone XL:
While the EIS does not lay out a clear reason to reject the pipeline, neither does it deny the environmental implications of the project completely. The report affirmed a previous finding that oil produced from tar sands produces about 17 percent more greenhouse gas pollution when burned, compared to traditional crude. Jones said it would be “a bit of an oversimplification” to conclude from the report that KXL would have no impact on climate change. Jones also acknowledged that the report’s assumptions about oil markets are “uncertain and changeable.”

One figure we’re likely to hear cited by proponents of the pipeline is 42,100. That’s the number of temporary jobs the pipeline is expected to generate, according to the report. However, the more significant number is fifty. According to the EIS, that’s how many people would still have a job once construction ends in a year or two.

Tim McDonnell at Mother Jones writes—Only Obama Can Block the Keystone Pipeline Now:
The report says the annual carbon emissions from producing, refining, and burning the oil the pipeline would move (830,000 barrels per day) would add up to 147-168 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. (By contrast, the typical coal-fired power plant produces 3.5 million metric tons of CO2 annually.) That sounds like a lot, but the report comes with an important caveat:

Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.

In other words, according to the report, those emissions are likely to happen whether the president approves Keystone XL or not. That's an important distinction, given that President Obama has already said that in order to gain approval, the pipeline must not increase carbon emissions.

The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times concludes Keystone XL, a sorry symbol of a continued reliance on fossil fuels:
The report is bad news for environmentalists, who had taken heart from President Obama's pledge last year to base his decision regarding Keystone XL on whether the pipeline would be a significant contributor to global warming. The report paves the way for his approval.

But approval would be premature at best. Running side by side with the State Department's largely rosy assessments have been continuing concerns by the Environmental Protection Agency that State is giving short shrift to some of the potential dangers — especially leaks that could foul groundwater or wilderness areas. TransCanada, the company proposing to build the pipeline, has a bad record when it comes to pipeline spills, and the EPA has raised concerns not just about possible effects on groundwater but also about emissions at the refining end of the journey, in the Gulf. The oil does little if anything for U.S. energy security; gasoline consumption has been declining in the United States, and much of this oil would be for export in any case.

Obama should place heavy emphasis on what EPA scientists are telling him; these are the nation's top experts on the environment. And even if the Canadian tar sands extraction would not be, by itself, a devastating new source of greenhouse gases, the Keystone XL would be a sorry symbol of the world's continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Peggy Noonan at The Wall Street Journal [free link] seems to have forgotten the "spectacle of delusion" during the State of the Union addresses of the Bush years in a pathetic rant called Meanwhile, Back in America.... Not that her criticisms of the devolution of SOTU addresses were totally off the mark. Just that they are hardly exclusive to the current administration or a product of Democrats:
The State of the Union was a spectacle of delusion and self-congratulation in which a Congress nobody likes rose to cheer a president nobody really likes. It marked the continued degeneration of a great and useful tradition. Viewership was down, to the lowest level since 2000. This year's innovation was the Parade of Hacks. It used to be the networks only showed the president walking down the aisle after his presence was dramatically announced. Now every cabinet-level officeholder marches in, shaking hands and high-fiving with breathless congressmen. And why not? No matter how bland and banal they may look, they do have the power to destroy your life – to declare the house you just built as in violation of EPA wetland regulations, to pull your kid's school placement, to define your medical coverage out of existence. So by all means attention must be paid and faces seen.
Ruth Conniff at The Progressive writes—Republicans Are Advancing Their War on Public Education:
"Every hero needs an enemy, and someone made the decision that public educators are going to be the enemy," moderate Republican State Senator Dale Schultz of Wisconsin observed.

Shultz announced this week that he is stepping down, taking with him the last shred of sanity in Wisconsin's Republican Party.

Schultz, who describes himself as "center right," earned the enmity of his party's leaders—and an aggressive primary challenge—when he refused to support Gov. Scott Walker's attack on teachers. He didn't go along when Walker ended public employees' collective bargaining rights, or when state Republicans decided to subvert environmental regulations and local control on behalf of the Gogebic Taconite mining company.

Richard D. Wolff at Truthout writes—Political Corruption and Capitalism:
One structural way to reduce corruption would be to democratize enterprises, to reorganize them such that the workers collectively direct the enterprises. Such an economic democratization would render all aspects of the relationship between enterprise and government transparent to all enterprise employees and thereby to a larger public. Hiding and disguising corruption would be much more difficult. Compliance with regulations and laws prohibiting the corruption of officials would likely find at least some support among democratized enterprises' decision makers. Those enterprises would require open discussion and majority decision-making. Minorities could more easily acquire the knowledge needed to criticize and influence decisions and thus to prevent or reduce using enterprises' net revenues to corrupt government officials.  
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Comment Preferences

  •  GOP right trimming back? (31+ / 0-)

    Today's NY Times:

    Fund-Raising by G.O.P. Rebels Outpaces Party Establishment

    Insurgent conservatives seeking to pull the Republican Party to the right raised more money last year than the groups controlled by the party establishment, whose bulging bank accounts and ties to major donors have been their most potent advantage in the running struggle over the party’s future, according to new campaign disclosures and interviews with officials.

    The shift in fortunes among the largest and most influential outside political groups, revealed in campaign filings made public late Friday, could have an enormous impact on the 2014 election cycle.

    My hope is that the 2014 election will be driven by Obamacare...that is, the sky's conspicuous failure to fall. But my fear is that some other faux outrage will be drummed up over some other faux crisis, on which the election will turn.

    Another round of Democratic incompetence and timidity vs. GOP arrogance and overreach.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 04:36:57 AM PST

  •  Ancient art of timing (13+ / 0-)

    The ACA rollout shows that the Obama Adminustration understands timing, and the GOP does not.

    If the 2014 elections had been a month ago, the ACA rollout glitches would have had a significant impact. But they weren't, and won't be for another 9 months. By then the initial sign up deadline will be 7 month in the past and millions of Americans will have and be making use of their new, affordable healthcare.

    May or June should see the rollout of a new ad campaign specifically targeting GOP candidates over their opposition to the ACA. That's my prediction at least.

    Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them - Thomas Jefferson 30 July, 1816

    by Roiling Snake Ball on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 04:44:55 AM PST

    •  IF democratrs were good at messaging (18+ / 0-)

      AND had a TV station that they had as much access to as repubs have to FOX and the rest of our media.

      And if they were good at lockstep message-catapulting, which they aren't.

      But still, we can dream - it's not rocket surgery.

      Legal means "good".
      [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

      by xxdr zombiexx on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 04:48:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the thing--the media. We need them to (5+ / 0-)

        report OUR talking points as the starting point for "debate" instead of theirs. AND we need them to actually challenge Republicans and not to back down when they start bitching and moaning.

        If Reince wants to cut them off from debates and Sunday shows and what not, let him. Then go on 24/7 about how cowardly Republicans are for not being able to stand up to scrutiny or being challenged. And how that proves they are liars.

        "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

        by zenbassoon on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 07:28:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Obama's Bill O'Reilly responses are CRAP (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          urnumbersix

          He's had a year to come up with a quick, easy-to-follow, straightforward sound bite to respond on IRS and Benghazi.

          Instead, he rambled and didn't actually get the points across.

          And jeebus, "I mean these kinds of things keep on surfacing, in part because you and your TV station will promote them."?

          Could he have said that in a worse way? "These kind of things keep on surfacing" could mean "You keep digging up the inconvenient facts about my scandals!"

          What he MEANT to say was,

          "The only reason we're still talking about these so-called scandals  is because your station keeps repeating claims long after they're investigated and debunked."

          What he COULD have said on IRS and Benghazi:

          "Political groups CAN'T get that tax exemption, only educational groups can. When they sign up the IRS HAS to ask those questions - and it asked BOTH conservative and liberal groups. That's it's job, to make sure people are following the law."

          "There was a demonstration that day in Egypt against the video. We know that. We also know that NOT everyone on the ground in Benghazi was a terrorist. It looks like Benghazi also started out as a demonstration, and then the terrorists used that as cover to launch the attack. That's what it looks like now, that's what it looked like at the time, and that's what Susan Rice actually said if you go back and look at it."

          How hard is that?

  •  Good morning, all. (3+ / 0-)

    Teh stupid, it burns brightly this morning (enhanced with the echoes of teh stupid from last night, no doubt).

    Hope everyone is greeting the day with a sense of optimism & purpose - with teh stupid becoming more prevalent and more easily recognized, maybe the nation is stirring toward pushing for a bit less of it.

    Finally.

  •  I saw a report this am (20+ / 0-)

    People killed 30 Americans a day with guns.

    But America is still pissing its pants about marijuana.

    What a country.

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 04:49:43 AM PST

    •  But can it be leveraged? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gffish

      It seems like we're hamstrung. You can push gun control in the urban and suburban places where it's popular and then stay quiet in places like Colorado where there's oodles of backlash.

      "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

      by Stude Dude on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:25:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't these people realize!!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thomask, tb mare

      Guns are a gateway to MURDER!!!

      The republicons moan, the republicons bitch. Our rich are too poor and our poor are too rich. Ferguson Foont

      by Josiah Bartlett on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 09:09:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Since Republicans won't budge on gun... (0+ / 0-)

      legislation, could the President talk up the need for gun safes in homes that have children living in them?

      Perhaps he should push for all 50 states to pass laws requiring new gun owners with children at home to have to show proof that they have a gun safe, but also exempt people that already owned guns before the laws were passed. This way the President could covertly be talking up sensible gun safety but the kind that doesn't require the federal government to get involved.

      Could that be the happy medium we need or would the GOP deride that as "gun grabbing" too?

      The Next New Deal: A Universal Basic Income for all Americans!

      by GleninCA on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 12:09:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just what the hell does a "top-paid" federal (5+ / 0-)

    executive do? Not only is the pay ratio stunningly unbalanced, the work load is as well, at least from my humble perspective.

    •  Please note... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades

      The ratios quoted are for executives who work at companies that hold federal contracts.

      You can see what the actual Cabinet Secretaries make by looking at the SES schedule at opm.gov. For the executives in the lower ranks, the salary paid can be found in the General Schedule at opm.gov (usually GS-13 and above).

      Federal pay is not and has never been a secret -- these schedules are published every year, and are available to anyone who is willing to actually look them up.

  •  Smith has a great idea !! (23+ / 0-)

    Companies that take money from the federal government SHOULD be required to have a more balanced pay scale to in order to receive government money.

    Additionally the tax codes should be rewritten to allow corporate tax breaks only to companies that have a balanced pay scale for all employees

    •  The president could probably enact your first (5+ / 0-)

      suggestion, but it would take, literally, an act of congress to accomplish the second.  Not that that would ever happen, considering the money spigot to congressional campaigns would be shut off immediately and K Street, where many congressional retirees go on to a second career, would go out of business.  It would be fun to watch, though.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 05:03:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Naw, just full employment for lawyers and CPAs (4+ / 0-)

      figuring out how to give the CEOs extra money that doesn't count in whatever measure of compensation the balance rules use.

      That's basically what's already happened -- corporations who pay more than $1 million have some sort of tax penalty, or it's not deductible, or something, so they've conveniently redefined how the compensation is paid so they can evade the limit without consequences.

      The only thing that will redress this is not legalistic rules (which can always be evaded), but a combination of employee and shareholder activism, including unions.

    •  What if there isn't a company with balanced pay (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heart of the Rockies, Orinoco

      that is capable of doing the work, or even just not such an American company? Would we want to outsource significant government contracts to overseas in that case?

      It'd be nice to get there, but I'm not sure that the process of getting there wouldn't entail too many unwanted consequences.

      One nation, indivisible.

      by Doctor Frog on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:00:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nice idea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Skyye, Calamity Jean

      in theory. If I were a CEO thought, I'd just spin off my lower-earning employees into a stepped series of companies - all with internally-appropriate salary ratios - and the use those companies as subcontractors.

      That way I keep my high salary and my government loot (I mean "contracts").

    •  Response to predictable backlash (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, GleninCA

      Republicans will respond with predictable outrage to this proposal.  As a response I present the US military.

      The most junior soldier is paid $1531.50 a month and that is only for the first 4 months.  After that pay jumps to $1716.  

      The most senior member of the US military makes $15,125.10 a month.  This is not consistint with the pay table which goes all the way to $19,762.50 but pay is limited by Level II of the Executive Schedule.

      Neither figure accounts for additional pay for housing or food but housing allowance tracks pretty closely and food is actually higher for junior personnel (dont ask, its a screwed up system).

      Bottom line is the pay gap is roughly 10x from the lowest to the highest.  Even taking into account some of the unique aspects of military life lets say you allow civilian companies to pay their CEOs 4 times the gap acceptable to the military - so a 40X difference in pay.  That would mean if you pay your bottom guy 50K a year you can STILL pay your CEO $2,000,000.  Heck lets say a civilian job is EIGHT times harder than a military one so your CEO can make $4 million a year with an 80X gap between your lowest paid $50K a year worker.  Amazingly this would be deemed unAmericana and unacceptable by much of the right.

      I would make exceptions for guys like Larry Ellison at Oracle.  Its his company and he can pay himself what he wants.  Same for Gates, the Google guys, etc.  But the rest of them, 80X is more than enough.  I would make a few other exceptions too.  Like if your lowest worker makes 4X more than the poverty rate for a married couple ($15,510 = $62,040) you can double it again - 160X - or just under $10 million.  And 100% of the company contribution to taxes, training, education benefits, healthcare and retirement can be figured into the total compensation and then be multiplied for CEO pay.  So if you have a $62K employee and you provided $40K in additional benefits you can multiply $102K by 160X - $16 million a year BEFORE similar benefits for the CEO.  

      All very very reasonable....except to the entire Republican party.....or almost all of it.  it would be fun to hear them rail against it and see the reaction of rank and file hourly wage workers to the injustice of making ONLY 160X what they get.

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 10:08:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I believe that... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Noamjunior

      one or more European countries has a pay ratio ceiling for executives and it works pretty well. But you know, if a European country did it first then Republicans will just denounce it as socialism (or communism, or whatever).

      The Next New Deal: A Universal Basic Income for all Americans!

      by GleninCA on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 12:27:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Obamacare and Benghazi (13+ / 0-)

    E.J. Dionne is spot on. Republicans talk with certainty that Obamacare is despised. They cite polls that indicate only "37% support". What they miss is that a majority in the polls want it to work. And the numbers will improve for Obamacare as the successes mount. Let the FOX crowd live in their bubble. As long as the ACA success stories are told, November will shock them.

    Meanwhile, they also seem to think that Benghazi will take Hillary down...

    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' ― Isaac Asimov

    by GoodGod on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 04:51:35 AM PST

    •  A misreading of polling data - no surprise there (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GleninCA

      How many of those who do not say they support "Obamacare" (i.e. those not among the 37%) are critical of the ACA from the left.   I'm guessing somewhere in the 17% +/- range.  Taken together with the supporters, that provides a majority indisposed to bite on a Republican anti-ACA campaign, even if we assume 100% of the undecideds fall on the Republican side.  Thus, the Republican's are once again reading their wishes into polling data, instead of the reality of their situation.  It is, I think, another manifestation of the ideological blindness on which they rely for their base support.

  •  I am so tired (20+ / 0-)

    of that phrase, "botched rollout." They can't say the one word without the other.

    But there's no reason Democrats need to reinforce this destructive meme. The rollout of healthcare.gov was not botched. It was imperfect, and even the smallest imperfection was magnified into a federal case by the opponents of reform - even flaws that didn't actually exist.

    We need to stop doing their work for them, on this and so many other issues. This is a huge milestone in a struggle that has lasted decades, and we need to be celebrating and taking full credit.

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 04:53:29 AM PST

  •  'Increasingly Lawless'...you gotta be kidding... (5+ / 0-)
  •  The Super Bowl was a disgrace. (19+ / 0-)

    I counted at least half a dozen deliberately-exposed nipples during the halftime show.  Some of them bounced around like cantaloupes on a vibrating bed.

    Please call your senator and representative, and the FCC, to report what has become one prolonged, liberal-approved wardrobe malfunction.  Honestly, if we don't stop this, who will?

    -

  •  the l.a. times piece misses a critical point (14+ / 0-)

    i agree with the times' conclusion that the pipeline must not be constructed

    but the state report does not analyze the effect of burning all the tar sands oil so it fails to answer the most important question

    if the pipeline is constructed at enormous cost we are committing ourselves to extracting and burning all that nasty tar sands oil

    what is the effect of that? game over for the climate, according to james hansen

    when you ask the wrong question you usually get the wrong answer

    and sometimes that is done purposely

    people in the ca mega-drought are losing the ability to comfort themselves with delusions

  •  Compensation caps (13+ / 0-)

    I fear that the compensation cap, which I support, could be easily gamed by fooling around with what counts as compensation. A company could limit the salary of the executive but add in all of the other perks (e.g. stock options) that bring the compensation package up much more. Personally, I think that stock should be distributed among employees as it is in the John Lewis Partnership in the UK, but that's a whole different issue.

    The piece also made me think of one of my favorite quotes regarding maximum incomes. It hails from an 1880 speech "Just Measures of Social Reform," by Felix Adler, a social reformer and founder of the Ethical Culture society:

    We demand a graduated tax, so imposed that if on a small income it be 3 percent, it shall increase in proportion to the means of the person taxed, to 10 and 15 and 30 and 50 percent, and that at last, when a certain high and abundant sum has been reached, amply sufficient for all the comforts and true refinements of life, the tax shall rise to 100 percent of all that is beyond—that is to say, that all beyond shall be taxed out of existence, so far as the individual is concerned.

    I would protect the individual in his right to the private enjoyment of all that honestly belongs to him, of all that he can truly use for the human purposes of life; and only that which does not rightfully belong to him, only that which is to him merely a means of pomp and pride and power—such power as no individual ought to possess—would I have remanded into the general fund of society, where, in the name of justice, it belongs.

    •  Aye. (4+ / 0-)

      The boom in stock options, a reaction to outcry over obscene salaries, only goaded CEOs and top officers to fake performance to boost their quarterlies.

      I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

      by Crashing Vor on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:04:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Good quote from Adler (4+ / 0-)

      His idea, we might note, was neither particularly new nor particularly bold, but rooted in an American conceptions of liberty, property, and society going right back to the Founders of the nation. Here's Ben Franklin on the same subject (taxes):

      All Property, indeed, except the Savage's temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.
      (Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Rbt. Morris, 25 Dec 1783; my italics)

      "...whenever the welfare of the Publick shall demand" - I like that part especially.  

  •  Federal execs much less than 20x low earners (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SueDe, rl en france, Apost8

    The NYT op ed is a bit odd in saying we should start by limiting the salaries of federal government executives.  

    True, the President made a bit over 25x the lowest-paid federal employees before the $10.10 raise -- not counting things like Air Force 1, of course! -- but the President gets paid nearly twice any other federal exec, and about 3x where the salary scale tops out for almost all senior people (i.e, $165,000).  

    Basically there is a 9 to 1 ratio between highest and lowest paid workers in the federal government, outside of Cabinet Secretaries and SCOTUS (about 12:1) and the President (20:1).  I.e., the federal govt is already fully in compliance with his proposal -- by a lot!

    I think Smith's point was to focus on contractors, but given his lede and that he doesn't really clarify federal salaries later on, it would be easy for a reader to come away thinking there's a big problem with high pay for federal managers.

  •  The Palm Beach Post reports this morning (13+ / 0-)

    that Jeb Bush is back to considering a White House run for 2016 "if he can lift the spirits" of the nation.

    Guess he's too old to listen to his Mama.

    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. John F. Kennedy ( inaugural address, January 20, 1961)

    by Outraged Mom on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 05:10:19 AM PST

  •  blame game (6+ / 0-)

    O'Reilly was very rude in the interview and he previewed the new attack on Obamacare--it was "getting better" because of Republican/FOX "exposures."  It can be improved, but first the people involved in the rollout have to be humiliated.  They're playing the blame game.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 05:15:57 AM PST

  •  Friends of the Earth on State Dept KXL report:GIGO (7+ / 0-)
    The KXL review is flawed: President Obama, reject the Keystone Pipeline

    - See more at: http://www.foe.org/...
    Yesterday, the U.S. Department of State issued its long-awaited environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline. The report was written by a dues-paying member of the American Petroleum Institute that lied on its conflict of interest disclosure form.
    First, find a #NoKXL vigil near you:

    See more here.  

    There's no such thing as a free market!

    by Albanius on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 05:31:32 AM PST

  •  So the gun nuts... (4+ / 0-)

    are sharing this graphic mocking Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death because he helped Mayors Against Illegal Guns in the past, as if he’s some kind of hypocrite for not wanting illegal guns flooding the market.

    Fuck this shit.

  •  General Dynamics CEO-to-avg. worker: 50-1 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, rl en france, glitterscale

    Practically egalitarian compared to some examples above, but as Pentagon prime, GD spends an awful lot of your money...

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 05:56:38 AM PST

  •  Loved the Henry Waxman post. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tobendaro, rl en france, freerad, GleninCA

    Find it interesting that there's still so much hostility toward Dems and messaging.  Waxman and Obama get it.  You plant the seeds, water judiciously, and gently direct the attention of the people to what you want them to see.  It takes time, sometimes years, often decades.  Screaming, bullying, haranguing are less effective, unless you're interested only in short-term gains that fizzle out.  See: Tea Party.  Interesting that most of their local legislative triumphs are now costing their states a fortune to defend in court, or are creating enough hardship to make their governors unelectable this time out.  

    If Obama okays Keystone it'll be a minor blip in a couple of years- people are getting climate change as a reality that is hurting them and will get worse.  The only way to stop fossil fuel extraction is to keep the focus on the downsides (birth defects in fracking zones, water you can light on fire, etc) while quietly building solar and wind production.  Once people are seeing the children with spines outside their skin, and lighting their own tap water it won't be all that hard to get a national grid upgrade.  

    It's tragic that it takes tragedy to motivate us as a nation, but what is, is.  Maybe gun deaths, fracking, and a dying middle class will finally change our apathetic acceptance of corporate propaganda.

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:31:14 AM PST

    •  Minor blip. Awesome. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      socialismorbarbarism

      When incredibly dirty fuel that's nearly impossible to clean up fouls our largest supply of water in the West, make sure and write all your friends that live west of the Mississippi that it's "just a blip."

      I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:50:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Minor Blip"? I Think Not (3+ / 0-)

        The Tar Sands Pipeline will lock us into carbon fuels more than ever before. Why? Because it was one thing when the U.S. had to import carbon fuels from other nations. That was always something we wanted to end. But when the U.S. becomes King Carbon -- as it is -- then we aren't going to change anything. And if we don't initiate the changes then there will be no changes and this artificially cheap carbon fuel will strangle clean alternatives. Our job is to ensure -- as best we can -- that the price of carbon fuels includes its social costs. Otherwise, all we are doing is yet more privatizing profits and socializing costs.

        Tell me this: if this pipeline is constructed -- a transnational pipeline built at enormous cost and bisecting the entire the nation -- what is the likelihod that it will be turned off before all the tar sand soil is extracted and burned? Close to zero, I'd say. And James Hansen says burning the tar sands oil is game over for the climate. It isn't a "minor blip," it is guaranteed global calamity.

        •  Agree with everything you say except (2+ / 0-)

          that there ain't no way this fuel is destined for sale in the U.S. It's those juicy developing markets in Asia, and to a lesser extent, the hope of regulatory failure in Europe (brought on by more pandering to corporations, I mean "free trade agreements") that's drawing people like the Koch brothers to invest in this crap.

          I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 07:46:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  One Other Point (0+ / 0-)

      Those who think we can wait for the political awakening are missing the science entirely. The atmosphere doesn't grade on a curve or cut slack for difficulty. It cares only about one thing: How much carbon is in the atmosphere? By the time the impacts you note become clear enough to spur political action it will be far too late because the carbon will already be in the atmosphere. Moreover, your assumption that these climate effects when manifested will lead to strong political action is dubious too. We already hear this as the Right Wing's fallback position: Well, it's too late anyhow so let's just burn everything.

      Incrementalism is suicide (even if we were moving forward, which we are not). The time is now. The battle is here. Fight or kiss your children's futures goodbye.

      (P.S. my other comment was mostly in response to yours not SouthernLiberalMD.)

      •  The point is that head-on fear-mongering (0+ / 0-)

        DOES NOT WORK.  I donated to every environmental group that existed in the 80's, until the weekly influx of hopelessness discouraged me so much I quit giving.  I spent a few years reducing, reusing, recycling and teaching my friends to do the same.  I knew that when Obama funneled stimulus money to green energy I had a President who got it.  Mileage standards, a stronger EPA, meeting with CEO's about greening their companies, more funding for green start-ups, the startling growth of solar and wind production, carbon caps, leaning on coal-fired plants to clean up emissions- the list is long.  

        There's no chance we leave fossil fuels behind until there are strong, affordable alternatives.  Building a green energy economy takes time, and it's happening.  Head on battles with fossil fuel proponents waste time and energy.  It's smarter to subvert them, quietly and quickly.  

        One man planting trees restored an ecosystem in northern Russia.  One man.  The Chinese people are going to demand clean energy way sooner than we did.  So will the citizens of every country polluted by tar sands oil.  Quit giving up so quickly.  The Cuyahoga River no longer burns.  San Francisco Bay supported life again very quickly once pollutants were cut back drastically.  Lake Michigan is no longer a dead zone.  The planet heals quite well once we stop poisoning it.  

        Instead of focusing on slapping the oil companies around let's work to make them irrelevant.  They don't have enough money or propaganda to stop us if we refuse to be distracted.

        Keystone XL will not be the pivot point that ends tar sands drilling.  It's a political game that distracts us from 300 earthquakes in ND since fracking went big.  It's a game that keeps fracking birth defects from public awareness.

         It's also a game that keeps progressives unaware of the growth of green energy, keeps us involved in internecine warfare that gives the Republicans one more shot at the Presidency.  

        I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

        by I love OCD on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 08:30:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's Reality, Not Fear-Mongering (0+ / 0-)

          And we'll see if it works because it hasn't been tried yet. What palpably does not work is pretending the problem is getting solved or going away simply because Democrats are good or President Obama is great. Polyanna wishes are inadequate. Natural science is fixed and doesn't care about our silly politics.

          James Hansen's position is that burning the tar sands oil will be "game over for climate change." If you dispute that position please do it based on science.

          •  Did I say ignore? I missed that part of my (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            socialismorbarbarism

            comment.  You don't ignore you actively subvert, without calling attention to it.  We haven't acknowledged the growth of solar and wind power because it was under the radar, by design.  Now Republicans are aware and trying to slow it down.  This is where we could be effective if we stopped focusing exclusively on Keystone.  If the pipeline is stopped, trains will deliver the sludge.  That will only stop when we have ample supplies of green power, so where should our energy be directed- toward a symbolic but pointless win, or toward victory?  

            Of course this is deadly serious stuff.  It will impact our future immensely.  We could be decades ahead if we hadn't blown Jimmy Carter off, but we did.  We bought SUVs and all kinds of devices that suck up huge amounts of electricity.  It's too late to change that, how about we work together to avoid making more enormous mistakes?

            I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

            by I love OCD on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 12:47:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  "avoid making more enormous mistakes" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Calamity Jean

              Like constructing the Tar Sands Pipeline and making it cheaper and easier to extract, ship and burn filthy carbon fuels like the tar sands oil, thereby strangling clean energy in its crib. Precisely what we are trying to avoid. Why don't you help?

              The whipped-dog-hiding-in-the-corner-and-hoping-nobody-kicks-it strategy isn't working. U.S. carbon up 2% last year. World carbon emissions skyrocketing. Catastrophic warming getting locked into the system. We are LOSING, not winning.

              Thanks for the discussion.

        •  I think you're mistaken if you think that... (1+ / 0-)

          ...progressives are unaware of the growth in green energy.  The problem is that too many progressives support the president's "all of the above" approach to energy.

          Keystone is crucial to rapid expansion of tar sands extraction. That makes stopping it, if we can, crucial.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 12:25:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think it's that crucial. (0+ / 0-)

            There's no evidence that tar sands production will stop, or slow down, without the pipeline.  What's more critical IMO is focusing on grid upgrades that will carry wind and solar power to every corner of the country.  We don't have that capacity and won't if we don't get on it now.  Solar arrays can produce all the energy we need within a few years.  It's meaningless without a modern grid.  

            People make assumptions about the future that are not hard and fast.  19th Cenury London residents fought back against the fouling of the air.  I'm guessing the Chinese are underwhelmed by poisoned air and water.  Cities didn't create waste systems out of kindness and tons of easy money, they were forced to do so by popular demand.  I think we can assume the same popular demand will make fossil fuels wildly unpopular once we get serious about delivering an alternative.  All I'm saying is harness the energy of the populace in smarter ways- don't fight the oil companies, make them pointless instead.

            I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

            by I love OCD on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 01:03:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  "There's no evidence that tar sands production... (2+ / 0-)

              ... will stop, or slow down, without the pipeline."

              Stop, no. But, in fact, there is considerable evidence that not building the pipeline will slow down extraction. Ten months ago, Reuters investigated and found wanting the claims that railroads could fill the gap if Keystone is not built.

              Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, Jan. 15, 2014:

              “If Canada fails to develop its oilsands now — and fails to build the pipelines to move it to market — the opportunity could vanish for decades, two industry executives warned Wednesday.”
              Brian Ferguson, CEO of Cenovus Energy Inc (a Canadian oil company planning to triple its tar sands output), Jan. 15, 2014:
              “If there were no more pipeline expansions, I would have to slow down.”
              Joe Oliver, Canadian Natural Resources Minister, Aug. 13, 2103:
              “In order for crude oil production to grow, the North American pipeline network must be expanded through initiative, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline project.”
              I am all in favor in pushing alternatives and have been since I worked at the DoE's Solar Energy Research Institute (1978-1981). They needs to be pushed and pushed hard. Although his energy policies are deeply flawed, Obama has done a better job of that pushing than any president since Carter. But it's still far from enough.

              Likewise with grid connections to make green energy truly viable. But focusing on alternatives without fighting the oil juggernaut is, I believe, a grave mistake.

              Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

              by Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 02:24:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You may be right, I'm inclined to think (0+ / 0-)

                we're smarter to focus on what we want and get it done, not waste energy on battles that shift and split that focus.  It's a belief system I've found to be more productive and useful in my life.  I don't fight the unfairness of the corporate world, either.  I use what enhances my life and live outside it for the most part.  The only way to take down entrenched power systems is to undermine them.  I look forward to reading about the abject confusion of BP and EXXON execs, wondering where they went wrong.

                I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

                by I love OCD on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 04:21:35 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  42,100 jobs repairing bridges, retrofitting school (8+ / 0-)

    schools...
    so easy to create jobs doing the right thing.
    why does the govt continue to fund the wrong thing?

    I am tired of laughing at the irony of their stupidity.

    by stagemom on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:47:43 AM PST

  •  It was always up to Obama. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    socialismorbarbarism

    Though I had some faint hopes Kerry could do something, perhaps quietly, behind the scenes.

    I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:47:43 AM PST

  •  MSNBC apology? (7+ / 0-)

    So when is Phil Griffin going to apologize to the employee he fired for saying the RW was going to go nuts over a multiracial ad during the Super. Bowl.  It seems the only thing the employee did wrong was in saying they would go crazy over the Cheerios ad.  Instead the went crazy over the Coca Cola ad.  

    I say it's high time the fuckwad remove his head from Joe Scraboroughs ass and apologize to the employee and give that employee their job back.  

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:52:15 AM PST

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