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Economics Daily Digest: A business plan for a better environment

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 07:06
Economics Daily Digest by the Roosevelt Institute banner

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

MBAs Will Turn Brownfields Into Green—if Investors Help Them Out (Quartz)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Georgia Levenson Keohane writes that the social venture competitions becoming common in MBA programs could push sustainability and social change, if Wall Street will fund the proposals.

Even As Jobs Numbers Seem Better… (Campaign for America's Future Blog)

Unemployment claims have dropped, and the jobs lost in the recession have been restored, but that's just catch-up. Dave Johnson pulls job creation ideas from a new Roosevelt Institute report, "A Bold Approach to the Jobs Emergency: 15 Ways We Can Create Good Jobs in America Today."

  • Roosevelt Take: Read the full report, produced by the Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative.

Low-Wage Workers Pay the Price of Nickel-and-Diming by Employers (LA Times)

Michael Hiltzik points out that wage theft is most common in low-paid, labor-intensive, female-heavy industries. Without sufficient government enforcement, workers are forced to fight back on their own.

What If the Minimum Wage Were $15 an Hour? (The Nation)

Sasha Abramsky looks at the political situation in Seattle, where the push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage is taking center stage. He suggests that if Seattle pulls this off, it will dramatically shift the national conversation.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute President and CEO Felicia Wong gave the closing remarks at Seattle's Income Inequality Symposium.

Executive Pay: Invasion of the Supersalaries (NYT)

Rising CEO pay is a major contributing factor to today's economic inequality, writes Peter Eavis. But there's disagreement on how to induce companies to pay CEOs less and average workers more.

The Wall Street Second-Chances Rule: Scandal Makes the Rich Grow Stronger (The Guardian)

Heidi Moore writes that on Wall Street, losses, bankruptcies, and even criminal investigations aren't enough to knock top CEOs out of the business. Profits conquer all, so even financiers embroiled in scandal keep their power.

New on Next New Deal

A Millennial’s Case for Fixing Social Security

Brian Lamberta, Northeast Regional Communications Coordinator for the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, explains why and how Millennials should try to fix Social Security instead of giving up on it.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Excellent pro-Begich ad shows Democrats how to run on Obamacare

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 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:

AK-Sen: The excellent ads supporting Democratic Sen. Mark Begich's re-election bid keep coming, though the latest is not from Begich himself but rather Put Alaska First, a super PAC supporting him. (PAF, by the way, is chiefly funded by the Senate Majority PAC.) Simply put, this is how Democrats in red states—or really, Democrats anywhere—should be running on Obamacare:

In the ad, born-and-raised Alaskan Lisa Keller—"a mother, a runner, a breast cancer survivor"—jogs through a snowbound Anchorage, explaining she was "lucky" because she "beat cancer." "But," she continues, "the insurance companies still denied me health insurance, just because of a pre-existing condition." However, she adds, "I now have health insurance again, because of Mark Begich. Because he fought the insurance companies so that we no longer have to."

You can't offer a message simpler and more heartening than that. This is precisely the kind of sympathetic story that Americans for Prosperity wished it could tell, except this one happens to be completely true and gets to the very core of what's best about the Affordable Care Act. You want to run on repealing Obamacare? You're literally running on repealing Lisa Keller's health insurance. The stakes couldn't be clearer.

Abbreviated pundit round-up: Combating climate change, ignoring wage thieves, killing journalists

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 06:30

The Editorial Board of The New York Times states in Echoes of the Superpredator:

Since the ruling in Miller [v. Alabama], five states have abolished juvenile life without parole in all cases. In March, West Virginia lawmakers passed a bipartisan bill that provides parole review for any juvenile who serves at least 15 years in adult prisons. Similar legislation is pending in Connecticut and Hawaii.

But other states keep fighting to prevent their juvenile offenders from ever having the chance to see the light of day. Michigan now gives judges the “choice” of imposing a minimum sentence of 25 to 60 years instead of life without parole. Courts in other states have refused to apply the Supreme Court’s ruling retroactively, stranding many of the more than 2,000 inmates who were sentenced before the Miller decision.

Paul Krugman at The New York Times writes that high-frequency stock trading comprises just one element of the financial industry's massive waste of hundreds of billions of dollars each year in his column titled Three Expensive Milliseconds: In short, we’re giving huge sums to the financial industry while receiving little or nothing—maybe less than nothing in return. Mr. Philippon puts the waste at 2 percent of G.D.P. Yet even that figure, I’d argue, understates the true cost of our bloated financial industry. For there is a clear correlation between the rise of modern finance and America’s return to Gilded Age levels of inequality.

So never mind the debate about exactly how much damage high-frequency trading does. It’s the whole financial industry, not just that piece, that’s undermining our economy and our society.

Michael Hiltzik at The Los Angeles Times writes Low-wage workers pay the price of nickel-and-diming by employers: The continuing push for higher minimum wages across the country has much to recommend it, but the campaign shouldn't keep us from recognizing a truly insidious practice that impoverishes low-wage workers all the more. It's known as wage theft.
Wage theft, as documented in surveys, regulatory actions and lawsuits from around the country, takes many forms: Forcing hourly employees off the clock by putting them to work before they can clock in or after they clock out. Manipulating their time cards to cheat them of overtime pay. Preventing them from taking legally mandated breaks or shaving down their lunch hours. Disciplining or firing them for filing lawful complaints.
Nickel-and-diming pays well, for the employer. More pundit links and excerpts can be found below the fold.

Open thread for night owls: CNN, Foxaganda relentlessly mislead in climate change coverage

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 22:00
Purple-eyes twin owls The Union of Concerned Scientists' have published a new reportScience or Spin? Assessing the Accuracy of Cable News Coverage of Climate Science (2014) that concludes what you've no doubt already knew: Foxaganda and CNN are card-carrying members of the bullshitting-about-climate-change-brigade. Which means, now that the whole array of the fifth round of reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been published. The fifth round since 1990, that is:
Climate change coverage on cable TV To gauge how accurately these networks inform their audiences about climate change, UCS analyzed the networks' climate science coverage in 2013 and found that each network treated climate science very differently.

Fox News was the least accurate; 72 percent of its 2013 climate science-related segments contained misleading statements. CNN was in the middle, with about a third of segments featuring misleading statements. MSNBC was the most accurate, with only eight percent of segments containing misleading statements.

The public deserves climate coverage that gets the science right. Media outlets can do more to foster a fact-based conversation about climate change and policies designed to address it, rather than contributing to a broken and inaccurate debate about the established facts of climate science.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005Another glowing Reid piece:

While the GOP leadership is under assault from their imcompetence and corruption, ours continues to get glowing praise.

There's nothing fancy about Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate. Sartorially, he is a symphony in brown. He hails from a Nevada eye-blink called Searchlight, but isn't at ease in the spotlight. "I would just as soon never have a press conference," he says. An amateur boxer in his youth, the 65-year-old Reid's idea of a good time is to watch reruns of famous bouts on ESPN Classic. A favorite was on the other night: the 1955 epic between Archie Moore and Rocky Marciano. "Moore flattened Rocky early," Reid said. "Had him down, almost out. But by patience and sheer determination Marciano came back, round by round, and won. Both guys were cut and bloody when it was over." [...]

Reid, with 37 years in politics, is prospering partly by doing what shrewd boxers do in the early rounds to survive: let the other guy overreach. Proudly unphilosophical, he thinks the Democratic Party needs no soul-searching. "I believe in simplicity," he says. "Health care, pensions, energy independence--that's my agenda." [...]

While Reid himself is low-key, the allies he organizes throughout the city--polltakers, consultants, liberal lobbyists--are not. He has commissioned virtual "war rooms," which coordinate the use of focus-grouped attack language in ads and speeches on two main issues. The first was Social Security. Now comes the war of words over the Senate's hallowed "filibuster rule," which allows a minority of 41 members to use the privilege of talking endlessly to kill any legislative action--such as a judicial nomination they don't like. Reid's poll-tested line of attack: ending the filibuster rule would destroy the separation of powers envisioned by the Founding Fathers. It's not clear whether Frist has the support—or the nerve—to press for a vote on ending the rule. His own advisers are divided. […]

Tweet of the Day:

Wolf Blitzer has reportedly landed an exclusive interview with the plane.
Every Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio."

High Impact Posts. The Week's High Impact Posts.  Top Comments. Overnight News Digest.

Money ≠ Speech

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 19:59
Gavel and stacks of money. Since the Citizen’s United decision we have seen a flood of money into our electoral process. With the McCutcheon decision even more money can pour into our elections.

While I'm not a lawyer or an expert in our Constitution, I have read our Constitution and its amendments, and it's unclear whether the same can be said of five of the nine justices on the Supreme Court.

It's understandable that the free speech clause in the U.S. Constitution covers the spoken word, written word and symbolic speech (like burning a flag, words on a jacket or wearing an armband to school). But how can donating money to political campaigns be speech? Anyone can write a letter to the editor supporting a candidate or candidates, anyone can stand on a soapbox on a street corner and make statements supporting multiple candidates. But the vast majority of Americans cannot possibly afford to support one candidate, let alone multiple candidates in an election cycle.

What makes this news decision even worse is the nation's growing income disparity. Mr. Deep Pockets has millions of dollars. He can donate the maximum contribution to every single candidate he wants to, whether or not he lives in that candidate's district. Ms. I. M. Broke lives paycheck to paycheck. She cannot afford to put money in her 401k and taking her kids out for ice cream is a rare treat. She cannot afford to give to one local candidate, let alone multiple local, regional and national candidates.

Follow below the fold for more on money, politics and so-called speech.

'Years of Living Dangerously': The most important television series ever

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 18:30

Climate change is the most important issue humanity has ever faced. If the world's political and economic leaders continue not to address climate change adequately, it will be the greatest political failure ever. Public will must be galvanized. Politicians and business leaders must have no choice. And that makes teaching the realities about climate change the most important task in the history of mass communication. On that front, there is good news.

As explained by John Abraham:

Climate change really is a made-for-TV story. It has all the drama of Hollywood, with real-life villains and heroes thrown in. We scientists struggle everyday to communicate the importance of climate change to the world. It is great to see communication experts come in and accomplish what scientists alone cannot.

That's why I'm excited about the biggest climate science communication endeavor in history. Airing this spring in the US (Showtime), a cast of the world's best climate scientists team up with the world's best politicians and actors to tell the stories of real people from across the planet affected by climate change in Years of Living Dangerously.

You can watch the entire first episode on YouTube, right here, above.

Celebrity interviewers travel the world to talk with both experts on climate change and regular people whose lives have been effected by it. The science advisors are Joe Romm, the editor of Climate Progress, and Heidi Cullen, who worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Weather Channel, and is now lead correspondent at Climate Central. Romm himself ensures that the series has vigorous fact checking. The celebrity interviewers include Harrison Ford, Matt Damon, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, America Ferrera, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lesley Stahl, Mark Bittman, Ian Somerhalder, Olivia Munn and Michael C. Hall.

More below the fold.

How gerrymandering has helped turn legislative elections into coronations

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 16:59
District map of North Carolina's 21st State Senate district, part of the gerrymander of their state legislature Outline map (in grey) of the 21st district in the North Carolina state Senate

Ever since the 2012 elections, one of the great political/election nerd debates has raged over the topic of whether the Republican majority in the House (which came despite the fact that voters nationally had cast more votes for Democratic candidates than Republican ones) was owed to gerrymandering, or owed to natural geographic sorting.

If you missed out on that debate, the basic arguments are as follows:

  • The "It's All About Gerrymandering" Team: More voters preferred Democrats, but the 2010 Republican midterm sweep gave the GOP control over enough state legislatures to generate electoral district maps to freeze out the Democrats. Therefore, states that are basically politically competitive, or even Democratic-leaning, wind up sending heavily Republican delegations to Congress, as well as cementing their state legislative majorities with similar gerrymanders.
  • The "It's All About Geographic Sorting" Team: Groups of similar ethnicities tend to cluster together, creating extremely Democratic pockets, particularly in some of the larger urbanized states where the screams about gerrymandering were the loudest. The Republican majority is owed to this tendency of African-American and Latino voters to reside in clusters, and not to any nefarious use of creative mapmaking.

Last summer, I explored this debate at the congressional level, and came to what I still believe is the obvious conclusion—both arguments help to explain the political lay of the land. Geographic clustering is real, has been around for decades, and does explain why the "national vote" for the House is ... for all intents and purposes ... irrelevant. But gerrymandering did save some seats for the GOP, just as it shored up others that could be vulnerable with even a slight Democratic tailwind. One would have to be a GOP cheerleader extraordinaire to suggest otherwise.

Downballot, however, there is an even darker component to this debate. There is a legitimate subversion of electoral democracy taking place at the state legislative level, where we have increasingly seen what should be cycles of competitive elections being downgraded to mere coronations, with scores of seats going with little or even no opposition.

Here, I believe, gerrymandering absolutely does play a role. Follow me past the jump for the explanation.

Watching the watchmen: A state-by-state look at 2014's attorney general elections

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 15:29
This year, 31 states will hold elections for attorney general. The post has always been important: As the state's top lawyer, the attorney general has a good deal of influence over a number of policy issues and is frequently a springboard to higher office. However, in recent years a number of attorney generals have made national headlines over how they handled their state's same sex marriage ban. With various office holders split largely (but not entirely) along party lines on whether they defend the existing bans or not, the job has become even more high profile and arguably even more vital than ever.

What follows is a guide to 2014's elections for attorney general. The above map by Stephen Wolf provides an overview of the year's races. Nine states have a Democratic incumbent running for re-election (or are very likely to), while five states have retiring Democrats. On the flipside, 13 Republicans are running for re-election, while four Republican incumbents are leaving office. This does not include states where the job is appointed (such as Maine and Tennessee). The Republicans had a good year in 2010, the last time most of these states held elections, when they picked up the AG slot in five states. Now the Democrats have the chance to return the favor, though Team Blue has its own vulnerabilities.

Head below the fold for a race-by-race look at this year's contests.

­Traditional news media must be made irrelevant if America is to succeed

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 14:00
America has more traditional news media sources than ever in its history, yet Americans seem more uninformed than ever. This can only be blamed on the sources America deems trustworthy.

A classic example of the ineptitude of the traditional news media is evident with the governor’s race in Texas. As a case study, it is not only fascinating, it is substantive. Specifically, education, availability of water, and equal pay are major issues in the state. Informed Texans must vet the two candidates, State Senator Wendy Davis and Attorney General Greg Abbott, to determine which of them would best fulfill the needs of Texas.

Follow below the fold for more on media failure in this case.

McCutcheon v. FEC: The 1% versus the .1%

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 12:30
More money, more problems. Even for the rich? When the Supreme Court did the expected last week and struck down aggregate contribution limits in its ruling on McCutcheon v. FEC, the general consensus would be that the rich would be pleased and advocates for good government would feel exactly the opposite. While contribution limits to individual candidates and party committees would still apply, the wealthy would no longer be limited to only spending a relative pittance on federal candidates and party committees, and would instead have free reign to spend their lucre more widely in the hopes of influencing the political process.

Amazingly, however, the "big donor community" might actually be split regarding feelings to the McCutcheon decision. And while many of us could wish that rooting out corruption and a respect for honest governance would actually be a factor, the truth is far more a matter of economics.

Read more below the fold.

Jonathan Chait's new form of hippie-punching: Playing the 'GOP are not racists' card

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 11:00
Occupy Hippie Even if there are no hippies in a story, Chait will invent them. Jonathan Chait, May 2006:
I can't quite root for Lieberman to lose his primary. What's holding me back is that the anti-Lieberman campaign has come to stand for much more than Lieberman's sins. It's a test of strength for the new breed of left-wing activists who are flexing their muscles within the party. These are exactly the sorts of fanatics who tore the party apart in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They think in simple slogans and refuse to tolerate any ideological dissent. Former New Republic and current New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait has been embroiled in a series of debates on race these past few weeks. The first involved a dispute with Ta Nehisi Coates. In an interesting turn of events, Chait authored a cover story for New York Magazine shortly after Coates' piece was published. Yes, Chait's article is about the president and race. To say it is a muddled work is to be charitable. It has been refuted in a number of quarters effectively on the discussion of race (and I'll take my stab too below the fold.) But I do think there is an aspect of the article that does not come from failings or insights on race—it is Chait's inveterate impulse to "hippie punch." In the quote that ledes this post, I choose what to me was the most remarkable example of Chait's knee jerk tendency to hippie punch—his support for Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Connecticut Senate race based solely on his antipathy for those of us who opposed Lieberman. (Indeed Chait wrote a very strong indictment of Lieberman before succumbing to his animus to the anti-Lieberman forces.)

In his latest New York Magazine article, Chait laments—while chiding "both sides"— that:

Race has saturated everything as perhaps never before. Hardly a day goes by without a volley and counter-volley of accusations of racial insensitivity and racial hypersensitivity. And even when the red and blue tribes are not waging their endless war of mutual victimization, the subject of race courses through everything else: debt, health care, unemployment. Whereas the great themes of the Bush years revolved around foreign policy and a cultural divide over what or who constituted “real” America, the Obama years have been defined by a bitter disagreement over the size of government, which quickly reduces to an argument over whether the recipients of big-government largesse deserve it. There is no separating this discussion from one’s sympathies or prejudices toward, and identification with, black America. I think that Chait's muddle of an article largely stems from this "hippie-punching" reflex, truly exemplified by his support of Lieberman. For in discussing his article, Chait himself wrote on twitter that "race is deeply embedded in American and especially conservatism." Makes you wonder what we are arguing about. But motives are motives and arguments are to be tested on their own merits. I'll do that on the flip by considering Chait's article in some detail.


Sun, 04/13/2014 - 09:30
Social Security is tremendously important. When signed, it excluded almost all black Americans. The Democratic Party must embrace, fight for, and enact economically progressive policies. It must be the party of Main Street, not Wall Street, of the 99 percent, not the 1 percent. In particular, it must fight for a strong safety net to protect those of us who fall on hard times. There is good reason to criticize many of today's Democrats for not being, in short, progressive enough. It's important to say these things at the start.

There is another, related argument out there—often connected to the call for Democrats to be more progressive—that does not stand up to scrutiny. That argument focuses on the failures of Democrats to win the votes of the white working class. The notion that Obama has "abandoned" the white working class has been espoused by conservative critics, trying to drive a wedge between working-class voters of different races, but that's a different argument. For the progressive take on this, let's look at a recent column by Michael Lind, someone I respect a great deal (he's all over the footnotes of my book, and he has influenced my understanding of American national identity as much as any other writer), who offered the following:

"The social programs that enjoy the greatest level of support from white working class voters are universal, non-means-tested programs like Social Security and Medicare which reward work by being funded with payroll taxes....FDR and LBJ offered white working class voters universal social insurance programs—Social Security and Medicare—and were rewarded with huge Democratic majorities in Congress and presidential elections, even though the white working class was far more racist and culturally conservative than it is today." That all sounds intuitively right, and it definitely works as part of a call for Democrats to embrace economically progressive policies. However, if you read the caption to the photo above, you know that there are serious holes in that narrative, starting with the crown jewel of the New Deal, the Social Security Act.

For more details, please follow me beyond the fold.

Seeking justice: From Scottsboro to Central Park

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 08:00
Central Park 5 defendants in the courtroom, 1989 Recently elected mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio promised as part of his campaign that he would settle the civil lawsuit against the City of New York for malicious prosecution and wrongful conviction in 1990 of a group of young teenagers—Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise—known collectively as "The Central Park Five." In February, de Blasio continued to assert the suit would be settled: Mayor de Blasio reaffirms promise to reach 'swift settlement' of $250M Central Park Five lawsuit. Mayor de Blasio on Tuesday reaffirmed his campaign promise to reach a “swift settlement” of the lawsuit filed by the defendants exonerated in the Central Park jogger case. He spoke as the five defendants gathered outside City Hall calling for a resolution of their damage claim against the city.
“Where is our justice?” asked Raymond Santana, one of the five men who were convicted, then exonerated, in the infamous 1989 case.

“We’re not here to speak about money. We’re here to speak about closure.”

They are still waiting.

It is now spring. It is April. It was in April 19 in 1989 when the five then-young teens—four black and one Latino—were arrested for reportedly raping a jogger in Central Park. It was a case that dominated local, national and international headlines at the time. Donald Trump took out $85,000 worth of full-page ads in the New York Times, the Daily News, the New York Post and New York Newsday, screeching, ''Bring Back the Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!''

The month of April evokes memories of another spring far from Central Park in New York City. It was in April of 1931 that the "Scottsboro Boys," as they were called—a group of nine young black men—were put on trial in Alabama, accused of gang-raping two young white women.

In both cases—South and North—injustice and racism were combined with lurid images stoked by the press of sexuality, race and rape, of "negro fiendish brutes" and "wilding" wolfpacks.  

A front-on view of Attorney Samuel Leibowitz, the Scottsboro Boys and the National Guard troops protecting them. A front-on view of Attorney Samuel Leibowitz, the Scottsboro Boys and National Guard troops protecting them. Follow me below the fold for more on the history and the continued pursuit of justice.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Fire bad, Colbert Good Edition

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 06:00
Colbert's Raised Eyebrow Ashley Parker strains the tea leaves of the North Carolina Senate primary...Maureen Dowd waxes lyrical over Colbert...Kathleen Parker says no one should be afraid of the big bad Colbert... Frank Bruni wonders when it will be time for a Stephanie Colbert... and Ross Douthat complains that right wing propaganda doesn't get equal time... but first...

Dana Milbank on one way that this Congress is better than those that have come before.

I have here in my hand a list of six people who think Darrell Issa is a fellow traveler of Joseph McCarthy.

I compiled these names while watching Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, lead his panel’s proceedings Thursday to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. Among the half-dozen Democrats who made the comparison:

“What we’re about today brings us right back to the McCarthy era,” Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) said.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) accused Issa of “stripping away the constitutional rights of an American” in a way that “has not been taken by Congress since the days of Senator McCarthy.”

The ranking Democrat on the panel, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said Issa was attempting “something that even Joe McCarthy could not do in the 1950s.”

And Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) read aloud an opinion that “Issa’s investigations closely resemble Senator Joseph McCarthy’s 1950s red-baiting.”

“I have more, Mr. Chairman,” Tierney added.

Issa tapped his gavel and offered a sardonic reply: “And if you had more time, I’m sure you would use it.”

Sorry to interrupt this Red Scare rerun, but the Democrats are wrong. Darrell Issa is no Joe McCarthy.

It’s not for lack of trying. As I've noted, the California Republican, during his lamentable tenure running the committee, has been reckless, dishonest, vain and prone to making unsubstantiated accusations.

But Issa's McCarthyism is a faint echo of the real thing, for one very important reason. McCarthy was feared; Issa isn't taken seriously. This is a rare bit of good news about modern politics: It’s a bad time to be a demagogue.

There have been demagogues in all eras, but they gain traction only in times of fear, when would-be opponents are afraid to dissent. In McCarthy’s time, government and private-sector workers alike feared workplace loyalty tests, and lawmakers feared losing their jobs. “Even politicians who could see through McCarthy didn’t dare challenge him, because voters were voting people out who challenged McCarthy,” said Landon Storrs, a University of Iowa historian who wrote a book on the Red Scare.

Clearly, Milbank doesn't spend enough time watching them build statues to Issa on Fox News, or visit conservative blogs where the only complaint about Issa is that he's just not demagogy enough.   There may be some who fear Issa, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or other practitioners of neo-McCarthyism. But at least as many are unafraid to call these men dangerous or buffoons. This is largely because there is no enemy that poses the sort of threat the Soviet Union did. But there is also a felicitous side effect of the polarization of the two parties: Because there is no longer ideological overlap, as there was in the 1950s, Democrats are unafraid to challenge the likes of Issa. So there you go. A benefit to a Congress that never agrees on anything, is that at least no one is afraid to point out an idiot.

Let's see if anyone else has good news...

Sunday Talk: All things being equal

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 23:00
This week, in a move straight out of the Alinsky playbook, Democrats employed both the gender card and the race card in a cynical attempt to divert attention from the massive failure that is Obamacare (to say nothing of Benghazi).

First they tried to milk the vagina business by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, but Republicans were having none of it; they know that women are far more interested in cooking the bacon than in bringing it home.

Undeterred, Democrats then turned their focus to the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Actas if such a law was even necessary.

It's like, n****r please!

The blacks have practically been running the plantation ever since John Hancock signed the Constitution.

Open thread: Hippie punching, AG races and coronations

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 17:00

What's coming up on Sunday Kos ...

  • Jonathan Chait's new form of hippie punching - playing the 'GOP are not racists' card, by Armando
  • How gerrymandering has helped turn legislative elections into coronations, by Steve Singiser
  • McCutcheon v. FEC: the 1% versus the .1%, by Dante Atkins
  • Watching the watchmen: A state-by-state look at 2014's attorney general elections, by Darth Jeff
  • Years of Living Dangerously: The most important television series ever, by Laurence Lewis
  • Seeking Justice: from Scottsboro to Central Park, by Denise Oliver Velez
  • Traditional news media must be made irrelevant if America is to succeed, by Egberto Willies
  • FDR, LBJ, and BHO, by Ian Reifowitz
  • Money ≠ Speech, by Mark E Andersen

Koch brothers try yet again to stand truth on its head

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 16:30

As David Nir noted earlier, the Koch brothers are out with a new set of ads accusing Democrats of being insurance company stooges for passing Obamacare. But if the Kochs were in the slightest bit serious about going after politicians supported by big insurance companies, Democrats wouldn't be the place to start, as these two charts from opensecrets.org make clear:

Charts showing Republicans get the benefit of insurance company largesse I'm looking forward to their ads going after Mitch and John. Any day now, right?

Green diary rescue: Heartland says climate change good for you, agroecology, stand-off in Nevada

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 15:00
Every week Daily Kos diarists write dozens of environmentally related posts. Many don't get the readership they deserve. Helping improve the odds is the motivation behind the Green Diary Rescue. In the past seven years, there have been 270 of these spotlighting more than 16,670 eco-diaries. Below are categorized links and excerpts to 71 more that appeared in the past seven days. That makes for lots of good reading during the spare moments of your weekend. [Disclaimer: Inclusion of a diary in the rescue does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.] Climate Change: Preponderance of the Great—by boatsie: "In a nutshell, the IPCC noted that in a civilization already impacted by melting glaciers and rising sea levels, droughts and intense heat waves,and huge migrations of both animals and humans, throughout this century 'climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger.' In my personal universe, the most powerful phrase here is "throughout this century.' It's powerful because it clearly indicates that climate change can no longer be viewed in the context of fifty years out but rather, 14 years in to the 21st century, this 'baby' is already one helluva monster, hell bent on wrecking havoc with our lives after stealing the keys to dad's car. Yet, here in Marin County, the impacts of climate change are not yet in focus. They are almost playful. Like a failed flèche in fencing. Or the menacing gorilla unnoticed as he enters at the bottom of the scene as all eyes are focused on the promise of a prize. Climate change is why, for example, commuters are being inconvenienced more often than usual when high tides close the main Mill Valley exit off 101. It's why, as the state experiences one of the worst droughts in recorded history, many Marin teenagers have yet to unbox their new short white  Hunter rain boots. It's the reason those Titanium Kevlar Lacroix carbon fiber skis have yet to taste true Tahoe snow. It accounts for frequent sitings of the Tufted Black-crested Titmouse, traditionally native to the eastern states, chowing down on sunflower seeds from Sausalito's numerous  Lazy Hill Farm Carousel Bird Feeders."
green dots goose2 Dawn Chorus: the preen gland stretch—by OceanDiver: "As a newbie observer of birds, one aspect of their lifestyle (besides flying of course) that really amazes me is how they accomplish so much with no hands. Like these Canada Geese, grooming quietly in the corner of the bay, seeing to their feathers in a variety of graceful positions. Obviously birds have made the tradeoff, with wings giving them a huge lifestyle advantage in getting food, escaping predators and all the rest. But wings are so specialized they aren't used for much besides flying (or diving for some). No hands means finding other ways to gather and manipulate food, drink water, pick things up, build nests, defend themselves. And considering the crucial importance of their feathers, for grooming. One day I saw a goose reach around and stretch all the way back to its tail, biting at a certain spot. Doing a little reading, I discovered it was going at its preen gland, or more properly speaking, its uropygial gland. Turns out almost all birds have one in that spot, and that it is essential in caring for their feathers. Veteran Dawn Chorusters may already know about who uses it, and how, and for what else, but I'll share a bit about what I've discovered along with my pictures of local birds."

Beyond the Spackling: Some Notes From the New Economy—by lehman scott: "So, what follows is just a brief update from my previous diary about what is happening here in Lansing.  [...] One of the things that struck me from the very beginning of getting involved last summer is the diversity of our membership. Our demographics span the gamut: students and retirees, busboys and barristers, and poor and well-off. What brings us together is our common goal of building a local economy whose unit of currency is the time of our labor. In building this new local economy we are creating resilient socioeconomic networks that will function no matter what happens to the main dollar-currency based economy we all still live in. And although we have a long way to go until we reach the size of a network such as the Dane County, Wisconsin Time Bank, with thousands of members and three paid full-time staffers, we know that we'€™ll get there eventually. We know that we have to. Next up, our Solar Energy Cooperative. This was plodding along rather slowly since my mention here last July, but then the Christmas ice storm hit. Many areas in and around Lansing were without power for over a week, myself included. Our local utility company (which operates its own coal-fired power station) came under a fair amount of fire, and as a result regular meetings have begun with area residents now wanting to take action to improve the resiliency of our energy infrastructure, most especially distributed solar."

green dots Watering Lawns in the Desert: What Las Vegas Can Tell Us About Climate Change (and Ourselves)—by Virally Suppressed: "There are few places in this world that exemplify the ecological insanity of Western Civilization more than the city of Las Vegas. Take so much as a cursory glance at the landscape on which Las Vegas rests and it should be pretty clear that people were simply not meant to live there. How could they? Las Vegas's very existence is an affront to the immutable order of the natural world. It is a city built on silt and sandstone—a metropolis nestled in the caustic furnace of the earth. When viewed from space, the greater Las Vegas area looks like some sort of ill-advised Martian colony; nothing but a vast sea of barren valleys and skeletal ridges with all of the chromatic variation of a box of Crayola multicultural crayons. When experienced at ground level in the middle of the summer, it's like walking into the moisture free maw of hell. I mean, just look at the land around it. Nothing even vaguely greenish pops up on satellite photography of Las Vegas, which is attributable to the fact that Las Vegas is the second driest city in United States. Las Vegas only averages a meager 4.2 inches of rain a year, which means—among other things—that around 90% of the water that the city uses has to be piped in from Lake Mead, a massive man-made reservoir located about 25 miles outside of town."

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