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House moves towards vote on Boehner's pre-impeachment lawsuit

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:30
U.S. Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) tells reporters the House will not be voting on any budget or debt ceiling measures that night as he departs the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 15, 2013. Stop-start negotiations to end the U.S. fiscal impasse House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions With the August recess right around the corner, House Republicans have taken another step towards turning Speaker John Boehner's planned lawsuit against President Obama into reality, approving a resolution in the House Rules Committee that will allow the full House to consider the lawsuit, most likely next week.

The lawsuit claims that President Obama overstepped his authority when the Treasury Department authorized transitional relief to Obamacare's employer mandate by delaying its enforcement, which, ironically, is actually the outcome that Republicans wanted to see.

That puts them in the position of arguing that while they agree with what the president did, they don't think that he had the authority to do it. It's kind of like suing a police officer for not giving them a speeding ticket when they were caught doing 70 in a stretch of road that just had its speed limit lowered to 55. That's not a strong legal position given that their lawsuit will be tossed if they can't show that they've been injured by the employer mandate delay, but House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions nonetheless defended the GOP's decision to sue, saying of President Obama's action:

This was not the way our system of government was designed to work. Laws are not a mere list of suggestions that a president can pick and choose. Actually, the system is designed to give the executive branch discretion. And if Congress thinks the executive branch has misused its discretion, our system of government gives them all the power they need to change policy ... but that power comes from their ability to pass laws, including appropriations bills, not by asking the judiciary to intervene in disputes between one chamber of Congress and the executive branch.

If they really want President Obama to reverse his decision, maybe they should try another government shutdown. And if they don't feel strongly enough about the issue to risk the political fallout from another shutdown, then maybe they should just shut up.

Affordable Care Act helped 10 million Americans get insurance

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:59
Cathey Park of Cambridge, Massachusetts shows her cast signed by U.S. President Barack Obama after he spoke about health insurance at Faneuil Hall in Boston October 30, 2013. The writing on the cast reads, "I Love Obamacare." REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque A new study shows that the Affordable Care Act has enabled ten million previously uninsured Americans to get health insurance. Ten million people.
Using Gallup polling and HHS data, Harvard researchers estimate that the uninsured rate declined by 5.2 percentage points in the second quarter of this year, corresponding to 10.3 million adults gaining coverage — although that could range from 7.3 to 17.2 million depending on how the data are interpreted. [...]

There was a major difference between the states that expanded Medicaid under the health law — where it caused the uninsured rate to dip by an estimated 5.1 percent — and those that didn’t, where there wasn’t any statistical change associated with Medicaid enrollment.

Compare ten million newly insured Americans with this:
[A]n astonishing 72 percent of Republicans, and 64 percent of conservatives, say the law hasn’t helped anyone. ... and marvel at the continuing ability of conservatives to simply construct their own version of reality where they're right and the events of the actual world simply don't happen. And note that with that success in lowering uninsured rates from expanding Medicaid, the denial of expanded Medicaid coverage in conservative states should be considered very nearly a crime. And note that if Obama had somehow blocked those states' expanded coverage, they'd be impeaching him right now.

A few Republicans (but just a few) want to look (but only look) like they care about poor people

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:18
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). REUTERS/Jason Reed Sen. Marco Rubio is another member of the Republican "I care about poverty, honest! Please ignore my policy votes" caucus. Rep. Paul Ryan isn't the only Republican who's realized that maybe it would be a good idea, electorally speaking, to try not to seem entirely heartless:
[Sen. Marco] Rubio said earlier this year that it is time for Republicans to stop focusing on balancing “the budget by saving money on safety-net programs.” [...]

In the states, Republican governors John Kasich (Ohio) and Mike Pence (Indiana) — another pair of potential 2016 candidates — have made moves in their states to expand Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, under Obama’s health-care law. And former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who says he is considering another White House run, recently spent a day talking about the importance of rehabilitation with inmates at the Louisiana state prison in Angola.

It sure would be nice if Republicans were serious about some of these things! Except that most of the Republicans making nice sounds about fighting poverty and so on are really just repackaging the same old Republican attacks in a few layers of gauze and hand waving. And even with that being the case, the bulk of elected Republicans are still outraged that anyone in their party would talk as if stigmatizing the poor was anything other than a holy calling.

If Republicans want to get serious about poverty, they don't need to come up with big shiny new plans. There are some very simple things they can do: raise the minimum wage. Invest in infrastructure to create jobs and strengthen the economy. Extend emergency unemployment aid. The fact that Republicans—a handful of them, anyway—want to talk about poverty and getting people to work without making sure that the minimum wage will raise families above poverty tells you all you need to know about their sincerity. It's nonexistent.

John McCain very sad that President Obama has no desire to 'have social interface' with him

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:00
US Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) reacts to almost heading the wrong way off the stage after shaking hands with Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) at the conclusion of the final presidential debate at H President Obama rebuffs McCain's attempts to have social interface with him Sen. John McCain is a very, very sad man. And he blames it all on President Obama, because:
“The self-pity that Obama continues to exhibit is really kind of sad, really,” McCain said on Wednesday during Fox News’ “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.” Oh, and speaking of self-pity, McCain added:
“You know, I can’t work with him at all,” McCain said. “When is the last time he really called leaders of both parties together over at the White House, say, for a dinner, a social event.” Boo hoo hoo. The president didn't call me over for dinner, or a social event, so I can't work with him at all. His self-pity is really gnawing at my soul. And while I'd like to try to explain it ...
... I cannot explain it except to say that he does not have this desire to have social interface with people and sit down and try to work things out.” If President Obama would just call me up for dinner or a social event, and ask me to have social interface with him, then everything would be better and the world would be a fantastic place, but he won't do that, so please excuse me while I go drown myself in a pool of tears shed over his self-pitying ways.

House Republicans blow up VA funding talks by blowing off Democratic compromise offer

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:12
Senator-elect Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is interviewed by a Reuters reporter at Sanders' office in Burlington, Vermont November 28, 2006. Sanders, a 16-year veteran of the House of Representatives who swept 65 percent of the vote in Vermont running as an inde Sen. Bernie Sanders The Republican position on the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to be that while the United States can certainly afford—or deficit spend to pay for—wars, when it comes to caring for the veterans of those wars, it's budget-cutting time. And, being Republicans, they're refusing compromise. House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller blew off a compromise plan from Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chair Bernie Sanders by trying to jump straight to a conference committee meeting:
Sanders said Miller had unilaterally called the conference meeting to unveil a “take-it-or-leave-it gambit.”

“This is a sad indication that the House leadership is not serious about negotiations,” Sanders said. “We don’t need more speeches and posturing. We need serious negotiations – 24/7 if necessary – to resolve our differences in order to pass critical legislation.”

Sanders was prepared to agree to some cuts to offset the cost of the bill, because while that shouldn't be required, Democrats (and affiliated independents like Sanders) are committed to governing and getting things done, unlike Republicans. According to Sanders, while his bill concedes some on offsets, "What it does not concede is that the cost of war is expensive and that the cost of war does not end when the last shots are fired and the last missiles are launched. The cost of war continues until the last veteran receives the care and benefits that he or she has earned on the battlefield."

Dear DNC, say no to Phoenix

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 09:56
Singer Marc Anthony sings the national anthem during the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September 6, 2012.    REUTERS/Jason Reed Let's have our next convention in a place that unites us all. We have finalist cities for the 2016 Democratic National Convention: Birmingham, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Columbus, Philadelphia, and Phoenix.

Birmingham seems silly, and not because of the politics of Alabama. The location of a convention has little effect on the final vote tally. Problem is logistics. Last cycle's Democratic convention in Charlotte was a bit of a clusterfuck, with hotels up to 50 miles away booked solid. And that's a city with a population of 775,000. Birmingham has a population of 212,000. No way they have the facilities to host a major party convention. (Also, not a single unionized hotel.)

Brooklyn has everything a convention needs, and it's convenient to the center of the US media world. Politically, it brings nothing, but like I said above, no place does. Logistically, well, it's New York. The biggest downside would be cost, because that's one expensive-ass city.

Cleveland is the site of the Republican National Convention. Logistically, it might be the easiest place to host the convention, because Cleveland will already be working to implement many of the security and support services the Dems will need. Some think that the RNC's choice knocks them out of the running, but I don't see why that should be the case. A Battle of the Bands-style convention season would be fun.

Columbus is such a low-key city that I have zero sense of their logistical capacity to host a convention this size. But it is surprisingly the largest city in Ohio with a population of over 800,000 (Cleveland is at around 400,000, Cincinnati around 300,000).

Philadelphia is in a swing state (if that matters, which it doesn't), has the logistical capacity to handle anything, isn't as expensive as New York, and is central to our nation's historical heritage. Wouldn't be a bad place to nominate our first woman president.

And then there's Phoenix, and unless Democrats want to stir up the same raw emotions and divisiveness that Netroots Nation did with their choice for that locale, it should be avoided like the plague.

With the exception of Birmingham, which is an odd addition to the list, the other four cities would unite our party and allow us to focus on the task at hand—retaining the White House, expanding our Senate majority and taking back the House. Let's focus on the places that unite us, not consider places that divide.

Paul Ryan unveils plan to do his Paul Ryan thing to poverty programs

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 09:44

Paul Ryan is once again attempting to stoke his carefully cultivated Republican Who Cares About Poverty image. Naturally, he's doing so with a proposal that would hurt poor people. Ryan wants to consolidate as many as 11 anti-poverty programs into one block of funding that states could do with as they wished, provided they instituted work requirements, limited the duration of benefits, and provided what Ryan refers to as accountability. Ryan insists that this isn't about cutting benefits but about using them differently, but here's a clue to what he's envisioning: elderly and disabled people, as "two especially vulnerable groups" which "need specific kinds of care," would get a host of special protections. In other words, the people Ryan classifies as deserving poor would be protected from what he plans to do do all the other poor people.

As for the non-deserving (in Ryan's eyes) poor?

In the envisioned scenario providers would work with families to design a customized life plan to provide a structured roadmap out of poverty. When crafting a life plan, they would include, at a minimum:

• A contract outlining specific and measurable benchmarks for success
• A timeline for meeting these benchmarks
• Sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract
• Incentives for exceeding the terms of the contract
• Time limits for remaining on cash assistance

And screw you if there are no jobs available or if the jobs available leave you in poverty because Republicans like Paul Ryan refuse to raise the minimum wage. You're still getting punished for not magicking yourself out of poverty according to the terms of the contract you were forced to sign in order to get enough to eat. And while Ryan insists that he's not cutting aid overall, he is building a massive amount of bureaucracy into his requirements. More money might go to things like figuring out whether people should be punished for remaining poor, cutting into the amount available to actually help them. That's not even getting into the privatization aspects of Ryan's plan, either, but he would require that states use private service providers, including "approved non-profits, for-profits or even community groups unique to [the recipient's] neighborhood."

It's a recipe for a fragmented, punitive system with much of the responsibility for shaping programs turned over to state governments—to governors like Texas' Rick Perry and Florida's Rick Scott, to the same politicians who refused to expand Medicaid. In other words, it's just what you'd expect of Paul Ryan: the ultimate heartless Republican attempt to slash the safety net into ribbons, cloaked in the guise of concerned condescension.

No immigration crisis, just a refugee one

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 09:30
Two young girls watch a World Cup soccer match on a television from their holding area where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Arizona June 18, 2014. CBP provided media tours June 18 of two locations in Brownsville, Texas and Nogales that have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since Oct. 1.  REUTERS/Ross D. Franklin/Pool The Right-wing's newest hysteria: kids. Dear god how can our nation survive the marauding hordes at the border? I mean, it's WORSE THAN EVER, right?
While the number of unaccompanied youth crossing the border has doubled to nearly 60,000 in the past year, the total number of undocumented immigrants has mostly declined. About 1 million people have been caught crossing the border nearly every year between 1983 until 2006, but that number has dropped to about 400,000 in 2013. Huh. So it turns out that the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border is down about 60 percent from the norm. And of those, a big chunk aren't even economic immigrants, but refugees from the drug wars of Central America?

Oh. Well then. Let's freak out anyway and put those refugee kids in kennels anyway, why don't we?

Cartoon: Super-Fun-Pak Comix, feat. Vampire Hunter, Zombie Slayer & more!

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 08:50

Follow @RubenBolling on Twitter and Facebook.

AND apply to join the highly selective INNER HIVE!

Jon Stewart looks at contradictory Obamacare rulings

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 07:30

Last night, Jon Stewart looked at the two contradictory Obamacare rulings on the subsidies for states where the GOP refused to set up state health care exchanges.

See, the law says you must be "enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State". Now a normal person might say, you really think the law intended subsidies only for lower income citizens in states that weren't being dicks about the exchanges?

Well, two of the three judges in this instance said, ah, yeah. We have to take that sentence literally.  I'm just happy both judges got to work that morning, assuming that once they hit stop signs, their day ends.

Video and full transcript below the fold.

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9am ET!

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 07:30

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Daily Kos Radio's Kagro in the Morning show podcasts are now available through iTunes.

We'll be joined by Daily Kos Contributing Editor Ian Reifowitz, for a discussion of something deep and insightful about one or more topics of interest!

Predicting exactly what those topics will be is as difficult as it is unnecessary. Its' always an eye-opener when Ian comes around.

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Hey, I don't make the rules! I just exploit 'em.

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Cheers and Jeers: Thursday

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 07:18
C&J Banner


When Silence Speaks Volumes

In what Frank Luntz calls the worst political ad of this cycle, Republican senate candidate Terri Lynn Land of Michigan sits idly by for 12 seconds---robotically sipping from a prop coffee mug, shaking her head, making goofy faces and looking at her watch---after tasking the viewer to think about some mysterious thing her opponent (Democrat Gary Peters, who gave a real barnburner at Netroots Nation) said about the very real GOP "war on women." The ad is vague, it's clumsy, and it lacks any specificity:

When you're playing with pregnant pauses in advertising, you're playing with fire.

So I held my breath over a similar silence in the new TV ad for Kentucky Democratic senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. Thankfully, this one works much better, in my opinion. After introducing herself, Grimes gives a laid-off coal miner a moment to look into the camera and ask incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell a tough question: "In the last two years we've lost almost half of our coal jobs in eastern Kentucky. Why did you say it's not your job to bring jobs to Kentucky?" Then…the pause:

Six seconds, not twelve. Enough to give the viewer time to think about a specific thing McConnell said (reinforced visually on-screen, unlike Land's ad) and ask themselves, "Yeah, why did McConnell say that dang fool thing?" Then a truck passes in the foreground and Grimes turns to the laid-off coal miner and says, "I couldn’t believe he said that either. I approved this message…because, Senator, that'll be my number-one job."

A credible and interesting setting. A credible Kentuckian on hard times asking a simple and sharp-elbowed question of Grimes' opponent, a pause to imply that McConnell has no answer, and a witty response and direct promise from Grimes that nails it down---she's going to fight to bring jobs to the state. I think it's a smart way to capitalize on McConnell's unforced error, and I hope it helps bump her favorables up a notch. Or two.

P.S. One other thing about Land's ad: why does she ask the viewer to "think about that for a moment" and then, ten seconds later, look down at a wristwatch that's so tiny I'd bet dollars to doughnuts it doesn't have a second hand? I think she's looking at the actual time because she wants to get the hell outta there. As I recall, that didn't work out so well when George H.W. Bush did that during a debate. Think about that for a moment while I stand here and make goofy faces to amuse my dog.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Economics Daily Digest: All the performance pay, none of the performance

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 07:17
Economics Daily Digest by the Roosevelt Institute banner

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

The Pay-for-Performance Myth (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Eric Chemi and Ariana Giorgi report on a new analysis of data on the relationship between company performance and CEO pay, which shows no relationship between the two factors.

  • Roosevelt Take: In his white paper, William Lazonick explains how stock-based performance pay incentivizes CEOs toward business practices that manipulate stock prices.

Elizabeth Warren to Help Propose Senate Bill to Tackle Part-Time Schedules (The Guardian)

Jana Kasperkevic writes that the Schedules That Work Act would establish a right to request a predictable schedule, payment for cancelled shifts, and two weeks' notice of schedule changes.

Technology, Aided by Recession, Is Polarizing the Work World (NYT)

Claire Cain Miller says a new study explains how the recession has accelerated the loss of "routine" jobs, which follow well-defined procedures and used to go primarily to men and people with less education.

Even After Open Enrollment, Activity Remains Unexpectedly High on Federal Health Insurance Exchange (ProPublica)

There have been nearly 1 million transactions on the federal exchange since the April 19 enrollment deadline, writes Charles Ornstein, as people continue to sign up for and switch insurance plans.

Paul Ryan's Anti-Poverty Plan Should Support Minimum-Wage Hike, But Don't Count on It (The Hill)

Raising the minimum wage is one of the best ways to fight poverty today, writes Shawn Fremstad, but Paul Ryan ignores research that shows higher wages wouldn't impact employment.

Highway to Hell (The Economist)

The Economist says Congress's solution to funding the Highway Trust Fund through budget tricks around pensions creates risk of greater costs on taxpayers if those underfunded pensions go bust.

New on Next New Deal

The Future Economy Will Pit Man vs. Machine

Andy Stern, president emeritus of the SEIU, presents a speculation on the future for the Next American Economy project in which technology replaces the vast majority of jobs.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: John Walsh hit by plagiarism allegations

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 07:00
Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest banner Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here. Leading Off:

MT-Sen: Just as things started to look better for appointed Democratic Sen. John Walsh, he got some very bad news on Wednesday. The New York Times reported that Walsh plagiarized at least one-fourth of his final paper to graduate from war college in 2007. The Times even has sections of Walsh's paper along with the original sources he allegedly copied from without citing or quoting. Walsh is denying that he did anything wrong intentionally, and was being treated for combat-related post traumatic stress disorder when he did the paper.

Plagiarism charges have sunk more than one campaign. A recent example is the 2010 Colorado gubernatorial election, where presumed Republican nominee and former Rep. Scott McInnis never recovered from a series of accusations that he had been paid for work he had plagiarized. McInnis ended up narrowly losing the primary to Some Dude Dan Maes. We'll see what happens with Walsh, who is already facing an uphill climb to keep his seat against Republican Rep. Steve Daines.

This story comes at a very bad time for Walsh, as a few recent polls showed him gaining ground. Just before the news hit, Gravis Marketing released a (probably now obsolete) survey showing Walsh down only 45-41, the closest result any publicly released poll has ever found here. But with the alleged plagiarism story dominating the news, Walsh is going to have a tough time keeping whatever gains he's made in the last few months, much less overtaking Daines. Skilled politicians and talented campaigns have come back from worse things, and we'll see soon if Walsh and his team have what it takes to recover and move on.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: On Halbig, Georgia Senate race and more

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 06:30
Hipsters Surrender, pic of white flag over Brooklyn bridge Sardonic NY Post front page. New Yorkers will enjoy it. The Onion is irreplaceable: New Anti-Abortion Legislation Requires Doctors To Scale 18-Foot Wall Surrounding Clinic Richard L. Hasen: Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court is the leading proponent of textualism, an approach he justifies as required by the Constitution and better than the alternative of using legislative history. He thinks judges unreliably cherry-pick legislative history, quoting the late Judge Harold Leventhal’s quip that it’s “the equivalent of entering a crowded cocktail party and looking over the heads of the guests for one’s friends.” Before Scalia, textualism was one tool among many for interpreting statutes. But now, thanks to his relentless campaigning for the textualist approach, for many strongly conservative judges, the text is the beginning and the end of the analysis when it comes to the meaning of a statute. To understand how the DC court could possibly decide Halbig the way they did, it helps to understand textualism. In any case, this is one of the best interps of the decisions I have read so far.

Another excellent source for Halbig/King is Nicholas Bagley, who blogs at The Incidental Economist, one of my favorite sites:

Halbig said it was applying the law as written. Don’t believe it. More politics and policy below the fold.

Open thread for night owls: How far we've sunk

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 22:00
Night Owls The Myth of the Diseased Immigrant:
Want to know how far we’ve sunk? Here’s how far: There was never any chance at all that we would handle the crisis of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children running for their lives and arriving at our border with any maturity or grace at all. There was never a chance we’d take them in, get them fed and settled, and then consider sensibly how we can address the immigration-emigration mess on both sides of our border—and on our border—while working to send the kids safely home.

Instead we got the usual circus, the usual call to send in the troops, lock down the border, impeach the president—because, well, why not?—and under no circumstances to consider the comprehensive immigration reform bill languishing in the House. And now, at last, we have arrived at the inevitable sub-basement level of the debate. Now the nativists and xenophobes have played their nastiest—and least surprising—card: the border must be secured and the immigrants sent back because they are, of course, diseased.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2013Today in E.W. Jackson news: E.W. Jackson speaks for everyone:

Today in E.W. Jackson news, we learn that E.W. Jackson speaks for fellow Republican ticketmate Ken Cuccinelli because E.W. Jackson says so.
“I represent the entire ticket by the way. And we are a unified ticket and we are going to win in November.” I suspect Jackson is using the royal we here, as so far there have been precious few indications that his running mate wants anything to do with him. And that's saying something, because Ken Cuccinelli is pretty much the living embodiment of the American Taliban (he's for jailing adulterers, which may be the most Talibanesque thing yet and which sounds like a really, really bad idea until you realize that Newt Gingrich would probably have found himself spending some time in the pokey under that rule and well now, that sort of makes it more tempting, doesn't it? We'll have to ask Mark Sanford his thoughts on that one as well—hell, we should be convening a conservative round table on one of the Sunday shows to discuss it. Let's see if even the Republican Party thinks electing Ken Cuccinelli to higher office is something they can stomach with a straight face). Tweet of the Day Oh Good Grief! > Open Carry Activists hold event at Dealey Plaza, site of Kennedy Assassination, VIDEO http://t.co/...

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, lots of Halbig and King discussion today, with Greg Dworkin bringing us a sampling of today's most interesting writing on the topic. Also: GA-Sen, and; the charter schools sales guide, revealed. Discussion of yesterday's cases dominate the rest of the show. Armando joins in with his 200-or-so cents on the subject, and we touch both on the substance of the specific cases, as well as the weaknesses in the "legal theory" driving conservative thought on them. At the close of the show, we take note of Brian Beutler's latest, "The Conservative Judges Who Ruled Against Obamacare Missed This One Very Important Detail."

High Impact Posts. Top Comments

Spotlight on green news & views: ALEC on farm laws, Michigan wind power and Colorado wind jobs

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 17:30

Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. To help get more eyeballs, Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Saturday Spotlight can be seen here. So far, more than 18,825 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in this weekly collection since 2006. Inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

Sunday Train: What Future for America's Deadly Cul-de-Sacs?—by BruceMcF: "The Great Recession of 2007-2009 triggered the Depression that we appear to be exiting this summer. And it was triggered by the collapse of the Great Turn of the Century Suburban Housing Bubble. In coming out of the recent Depression, one driver of residential property values, the Cul de Sac, seems to be in conflict with a new driver: walkability. In October 2013, the Realtor(R) Magazine Online, of the National Association of Realtors, wrote, in Neighborhoods: More Walkable, More Desirable that: Neighborhoods that boast greater walkability tend to have higher resale values in both residential and commercial properties, finds a recent study published in Real Estate Economics. In fact, a 2009 report by CEOs for Cities found that just a one-point increase in a city'€™s walk score could potentially increase homesâ€' values by $700 to $3,000. [...] So, what does this mean for the sustainable transport and for the future of the deadly American Suburban Cul de Sac? [...] First, lets start with the deadly status quo for suburban residental development, the Cul de Sac. Ironically, the Cul de Sac was first promoted in the 1920's as a safer residential layout option."
green dots MI wind generation hits 168 billion KWhrs for 2013, CA feeds 4,767 megawatts of solar into grid—by HoundDog: "Mike G. [of the DeSmogBlog at] the Ecologist reports over half of the new electrical generation capacity in the U.S. in 2013, came from solar [with] California and Texas are mainstreaming renewable energy. In California, May 2014 recorded three times as much solar generation as the same month in 2013. California, for its part, is following up on the huge year solar energy had in 2013 by breaking the record for single-day solar photovoltaic (PV) energy generation back in March, and then breaking its own record on June 1. ... The new record in California - 4,767 megawatts of solar PV electricity fed into the grid—is also the national record for any American state. California installed some 2,261 MW of solar capacity in 2013, more than any other state, and looks to be on track to post up even bigger numbers this year. PV Magazine reports that 'California's solar footprint is growing bigger with each passing day, week and month, with May recording three times as much solar generation as recorded during the same month in 2013.'"
green dots Wildfires Gone Wild - Northern U.S. "a smoky, hazy mess."—by Steven D: "One story I haven't seen the national media talking much about is the number of wildfires there have been in 2014.  Currently, massive fires are burning throughout the Pacific Northwest and Northwestern Canada.  Large smoke plumes have effected the air quality as far east as Minnesota and Wisconsin, and as far south as Nevada. One prominent scientist, Dr. Raymond Huff, who writes for the US Air Quality -The Smog Blog stated bluntly that 'Canadian wildfires and fires in the Pacific Northwest have conspired to make much of the northern half of the US a hazy, smoky mess.'"

You can find more rescued green diaries below the sustainable squiggle.

Michele Bachmann announces she might run for president again

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 16:30
Michele Bachmann Don't laugh!
[Rep. Michele Bachmann] and 2012 Republican presidential candidate told RealClearPolitics on Tuesday that she is considering a second White House run.

Bachmann made the revelation during an interview, in which she was asked for her view on whether any Republican women might seek the Oval Office in 2016.

“The only thing that the media has speculated on is that it’s going to be various men that are running,” she replied. “They haven’t speculated, for instance, that I’m going to run. What if I decide to run? And there’s a chance I could run.”

And why does she think that she's ready for 2016? Because:
“Like with anything else, practice makes perfect,” she said. “And I think if a person has gone through the process -- for instance, I had gone through 15 presidential debates -- it’s easy to see a person’s improvement going through that.” Yeah, sure. We saw her improve all the way from being the 2012 frontrunner to being one of the first ones out. Just about the only thing she can really claim to have accomplished in that campaign is having knocked Tim Pawlenty out of the race. And yes, you're forgiven if you've already forgotten who T-Paw is.

Bachmann says her fundraising prowess should gain her more respect as a potential candidate, because she was, in her words, "one of the top—if not the top—fundraisers in the history of the United States Congress."

Except that while she was a prolific fundraiser in the House, she raised less for her 2012 presidential campaign than she did for her 2012 House campaign. And she wasn't the most prolific fundraiser in the House: Allen West raised about one-third more than she did, a statistic which really only proves one thing: You get a lot more crazy for the dollar in Minnesota than you do in Florida.

Unlikely conservative hero Ben Carson 'starting to think about' running for president

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 15:32
Dr. Ben Carson speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Sure, why not. Mark my words, this guy badly wants a bigger stage.
Retired brain surgeon and noted conservative Ben Carson, who has resisted calls for him to make a run for the presidency in 2016, said that he’s now softened his stance on the issue.

“I certainly didn’t give it much thought early on,” he told Fox News. “[But] there’re just hundreds of people [who are] so enthusiastic” about the idea.

Hear that? Hundreds.

Carson's political claim to fame is that he once said theoretically rude things to Barack Obama during a National Prayer Breakfast, and saying theoretically rude things to Barack Obama is literally the only thing you have to do to get conservatives to ask you to run for president.