Clean Coal?

This week the EPA a nnounced new rules for CO2 emmissions in new coal-powered plants. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is up in arms, saying this could mean the end of coal as a power source.

So you’d think that the “clean coal” organization would be praising these new rules, because they are all about “clean coal,” right?

Ot maybe not so clean, just a slogan?

The Deficit Is Down By Half – PolitFact Says It’s OK To Say It Is Growing

The blogosphere is talking about how Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor was caught in an outright falsehood about the country’s deficit, and how PolitiFact backed him up. Cantor said Sunday that Congress should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.” Fact: the deficit is shrinking faster than any time since the end of WWII, and is down 50% from where Bush left it. But PolitiFact declared Cantor’s lie “half true.”

Fact: the deficit is down more than 50% from where Bush left it. Fact: the deficit is falling at the fastest rate since the end of WWII. This chart is from my February post, Deficit Is Falling Dramatically, But Only 6% Know That: (Note, the 2009 budget was Bush’s last budget year, before the “stimulus” kicked in.)

PolitiFact excuses Cantor for saying the country’s “ultimate problem … is this growing deficit” because even though the deficit is shrinking rapidly, at some point in the future deficits might maybe perhaps start to grow again. Or not.

Steve Benen writes about Cantor and PolitiFact at the MaddowBlog, PolitiFact finds its pants on fire, (click through, there are links in the text)

What Cantor said was the opposite of the truth — he said the nation has a “growing deficit,” when in reality, we have a shrinking deficit. We can have a discussion about whether the House Majority Leader was deliberately trying to deceive the public — Republicans have an incentive to convince the public that U.S. finances are in worse shape than they really are — or whether Cantor simply doesn’t know the basics of current events. But I’m afraid it’s either one or the other.

Unless, that is, you’re PolitiFact.

Atrios declared Politifact “Wankers of the Day“.

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Conservative Is Not An Ideology – It Is Corruption

I should do a series… Is keeping the minimum wage low really part of an ideology? Or is it really just big companies paying legislators to keep their profits high at the expense of We, the People?

It that ideology, when giant companies pay legislators to boost their profits? Is it ideology when big companies fund conservative “think tanks” that are really just propaganda machines, to tell people that there is an “ideology” that demands that wages be lowered?

Or is this just corruption?

I have been thinking that a lot of the fight going on isn’t about ideology at all, it is about corruption and the influence of money and how money uses its ability to influence society behind a MASK of ideology. You can justify a lot more if what you are doing is seen as an ideological effort, because that is about ideas and the clash of ideas and free speech, where money is just about money and power and force.

When it is ideas, it is ideology, when it is money it is just corruption. But calling it ideology keeps you out of jail.

I am just back from England… Toured a lot of castles, etc. and studied a lot of the history of the monarchy. The royalists used to justify their rule by saying God mandated it, etc.. So there was an “ideology” that kings should rule and royalty was sacred etc., but really it was about thugs who were stronger than other thugs, and then it was about keeping that power in the hands of a chosen few.

Was that really ideology?

Oil Company That Started Tea Party Now Fighting Tea Party

The “Tea Party” was started and funded by Koch Oil and its owners. But now the Tea Party in Georgia supports free market alternatives to oil monopolies, and Koch Oil is fighting them.

Summary: Georgia Power wants to expand its use of solar energy as the price of solar goes down. Georgia’s Tea Party likes the idea because it means consumers will get free-market choices. Of course Koch Oil has been fighting solar, wind, high-speed rail, electric cars and efforts to fight climate change because all of those hurt their lucrative oil business, and their front group Americans For Prosperity — the group behind the Tea Party in the first place — has launched a typical misleading smear campaign.

Think Progress has the story, in Koch Brothers Fund Effort To Undermine Tea Party Support Of Solar Energy in Georgia,

Tea Party members supporting the solar expansion see it as a simple free market issue. They believe consumers have the right to choose where their electricity comes from and shouldn’t be forced to remain dependent on a single source, especially in light of the rapidly declining cost of solar.

Despite the Tea Party’s support, Americans For Prosperity, a conservative group funded by the Koch brothers, came out against the proposed solar measure last week — launching what it calls “a multi-pronged, grassroots driven initiative” urging activists to pressure members of the PSC to reject the solar expansion.

In an email to its 50,000 members across the state, AFP Georgia director Virginia Galloway asks, “What if I told you something you’re not even hearing about in the news is about to raise your electricity bill by more than 40 percent and reduce the reliability of every appliance and electronics gadget in your home? That’s what will happen when your Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) votes on July 11th if you don’t take action today!”

Go read the rest

Phony IRS “Scandal” — We’ve Been O’Keefe’d Again

See also: The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives

Guess what. We’ve been O’Keefe’d again. It turns out that the “IRS Targeted Conservatives” story is just one more made up, phony, right-wing victimization fantasy lie.

James O’Keefe is the guy who made a video supposedly showing him in a “pimp costume” getting advice from ACORN employees on ow to run a prostitution ring. Except the video was doctored, he never wore a “pimp costume” and ACORN employees never did any such thing. But the story sounded good … so it went wide and ACORN was defunded by Congress.

And here we go again. It turns out the IRS was NOT singling out “Tea Party” groups for audits. The IRS was scrutinizing ALL groups applying for c4 status by asking additional questions. No audits. And only SOME (1/3) of those groups were conservatives — OTHERS were liberal, etc. Doesn’t matter, the right put out a victimization story making it sound like only conservatives were targeted for political reasons. (And Christians are a persecuted minority, Whites are discriminated against, etc.) The “mainstream” news media picked up and spread the lie, and here we are.

Again: Only 1/3 of the organizations that received extra scrutiny were conservative. The rest are not identified, but liberal and progressive organizations are reporting that their applications received the same scrutiny as conservatives. (And by the way almost 70% of the applications that were flagged WERE engaged in campaign activity that would disqualify them from c4 status.)

See:

Bloomberg News: IRS Sent Same Letter to Democrats That Fed Tea Party Row

Daily Kos: Liberal groups received same IRS letter that ignited Tea Party outrage

Washington Monthly: Two Rather Important Details About the IRS “Scandal”

From the Inspector General’s report on what happened, page 8:

Figure 4 shows that approximately one-third of the applications identified for processing by the team of specialists included Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names, while the remainder did not. According to the Director, Rulings and Agreements, the fact that the team of specialists worked applications that did not involve the Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 groups demonstrated that the IRS was not politically biased in its identification of applications for processing by the team of specialists.

Look at how MANY of us fell for one more “pimp costume” story.

James O’Keefe never wore a “pimp costume” into an ACORN office, and conservative groups were not singled out for scrutiny by the IRS. But because of the right’s ability to spread these smears both are now firmly “true” in the public mind. Partly because the rest of us fell for it and helped amplify it.

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See also: The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives

“Spreadsheet Error” Economists Blame “The Left” Not “Science”

In an op-ed in the NY Times today the “spreadsheet error” economists tell us all we need to know about their research and their conclusions. In the op-ed, Reinhart and Rogoff: Responding to Our Critics, skip to the last paragraph:

“Now we are being attacked by the left — primarily by those who have a view that the risks of higher public debt should not be part of the policy conversation. “

“The left?”

I think these two words tell the whole story. All the economists and other scholars who are criticizing the errors and selective use of favorable data in work represent “the left.” Actual science that looks at the real world to see what actually happens is “the left.”

Downward Spiral

Here is the situation:

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Elite-Pundit “Grand Bargain” Frenzy Just Like “Run Up” To Iraq War

The “Grand Bargain” is about showing the world that we can hurt people, so they will know we are “serious.”

Reading Jason Linkins’ HuffPo account of elite-pundit thinking about the “Grand Bargain,” Passing ‘Grand Bargain’ Voters Don’t Care About Is Critical To Confidence In Government, Apparently, I am struck by the similarity between the (elite pundit) Joe Klein quote Linkins references, and the elite-pundit thinking about invading Iraq.

Time Swampland contributor Joe Klein — who is confident that Congress will agree to a “grand bargain” — says that people like me who contend that voters don’t place a high priority on a grand deficit deal are correct but we need to pass a grand deficit deal anyway because reasons, shut up:

There are those on the left who will object that the deficit issue is overblown and not even a priority among voters. They are right. But we have reached the point where some sort of deal is necessary to restore the public’s, the business community’s and the world’s faith that the U.S. government can, occasionally, take significant action. I predict—tepidly, with no great confidence—that the Congress will finally decide it is time to act.

In other words, Klein is saying the elite punditry has made such a big deal about something we all know is the wrong thing to do, that the public has to see us follow through — “take significant action” — or they’ll lose confidence in the country’s ability to make things happen following a pundit frenzy like this one.

Now let’s remember the words of elite pundit Tom Friedman on why invade Iraq.

Tom Freidman, on Charlie Rose, May 29 2003: (link is CS Monitor, Thomas Friedman, Iraq war booster),

“And what we needed to do was to go over to that part of the world and burst that bubble. We needed to go over there basically uhm, and, uh, uhm take out a very big stick, right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble. And there was only one way to do it because part of that bubble said ‘we’ve got you’ this bubble is actually going to level the balance of power between us and you because we don’t care about life, we’re ready to sacrifice and all you care about is your stock options and your hummers. And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad uhm, and basically saying which part of this sentence don’t you understand. You don’t think we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy we’re going to just let it go, well suck on this.”

Friedman said we had to invade Iraq so the world can see that we can use our immense power to hurt people there. Because Iraq is in “that part of the world.”

Joe Klein says we have to do the Grand Bargain to show the world that we can use our immense power to hurt people here, too.

That’s balance for ya.

The “Grand Bargain” is about hurting regular people (“shared sacrifice”) who have been sacrificing since Reagan. The rich have gotten tax cut after tax cut. Their corporations get breaks and subsidies. Wages have been stagnant since Reagan broke the unions, but prices have gone up. People used up their savings, then went into debt. Meanwhile government services for We the People have been cut, cut, cut. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our transportation and electrical and other systems are just a mess. The safety net has collapsed. College has become unaffordable. Poverty is soaring and the middle class is disappearing.

So now regular people have to “sacrifice” to pay off the money the government borrowed to give the rich their tax cuts and subsidies. That’s the “Grand Bargain” in a nutshell.

P.S. Please read Linkins’ piece, it’s short. Linkins concludes,

” … a deal that will further immiserate Americans with painful cuts to earned benefit programs (like chained CPI) at a time when everyone’s still struggling to get by. Why anyone thinks this would restore the public trust is beyond me. Pundits really need to get out more.”

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

The 1983 Strategy Behind Today’s Social Security Attacks

Suppose you’re in a bar and you overhear a couple of guys in the next booth talking about a plan to steal from people’s houses. As you eavesdrop the plan unfolds: one will come to the front door pretending to be from the gas company warning the homeowner about a gas leak down the street. While he distracts the homeowner at the front door, the other one will sneak in the back door and take stuff.

So the next day the doorbell rings, and there’s a guy saying he is from the gas company. He says he wants to talk a while to warn you about a gas leak down the street…

This is what is happening with this constant drumbeat of attacks on Social Security. The attack on Social Security never goes away, it only escalates. As we go into this next round of attacks — this time it is even coming from the President* — it is more than useful to understand the background of this campaign against the program.

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Read The Shock Doctrine

There is no better way to understand what is happening to us than to read The Shock Doctrine. Shock-Doctrine tactics are why we have so many “manufactured crises” and why the right and Wall Street seem to come out on top from each one.

The “deficit” is entirely a manufactured crisis. The “sequester” is a manufactured crisis, like the :debt ceiling” crisis and the “fiscal cliff” crisis and the other crises again and again. People around Reagan said the tax cuts (combined with dooubling the military budget) were a strategy to cause deficits that would force spending cuts. It was called “strategic deficits.”

George W Bush said the shift from surpluses to deficits after his tax cuts was “incredibly positive news” because it would bring 99on a deficit crisis that would stampede opeople into accepting cuts.

This is the Shock Doctrine at work. Create a crisis, terrify people, then force “reforms” that shift the wealth upwards to the billionaires.

Both Sides Are NOT To Blame For Sequester!

If you are a citizen in a democracy you need to have correct information about important issues so you can make decisions and know who to hold accountable for things they do. But you wouldn’t know anything if you follow America’s corporate news media. For example, you certainly wouldn’t know that the deficit is currently falling at the fastest rate since the end of WWII. (Only 6% of the public knows that the deficit is falling, not rising.)

Watch as NBC News (March 1 broadcast) blames “both sides” and “Congress” for the sequester cuts that could bring in a new recession:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

“Congress” has left town – not that Republicans adjourned without doing allowing votes.

“No serious attempt all week long” to stop this.

“President didn’t rise above political rhetoric.”

“Both sides maintained the blame game.”

Bob The Businessman: An American Success Story

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This is the story of Bob The businessman.

Suppose a local businessman, let’s call him Bob, went around town raising money from the townspeople to open a car dealership. Dozens and dozens of people in town invested, putting in $1,000, $5,000, and a few putting in as much as $50,000 and $100,000. Bob raised a lot of money for his business.

After a while the investors found out Bob the Businessman was using some of their money to help his brother run for Mayor and several cousins to run for city council, and some of it to make his wife head of the Arts Council for a good salary. Then they learned that he was using some of it to fund a local organization that did nothing but push for tax breaks for . . . businesses just like Bob’s. (And to push for “deregulation” letting Bob use his company’s money to do things like … fund the organization.)

In the election his brother was elected Mayor and his cousins took over the council. Once in charge of the city, they pushed through a big contract for Bob to supply cars to the city (many of which the city didn’t even need.) The city also exempted Bob’s business from taxes, even giving it subsidies.

This all of course made the car dealership very profitable, and the investors started asking when they are going to get a dividend. But they found out that Bob’s business has opened a subsidiary based at a post office box in the Cayman Islands. This Cayman Islands subsidiary had been buying cars from the manufacturer at wholesale and turning around and selling them to Bob’s parent company for just under what the dealership sells them to the public for. As a result all the profits went to the Cayman Islands subsidiary, and Bob wasn’t bringing any of it back to distribute to the shareholders!

Next the investors learned that Bob had been living really high on the hog, paying himself many millions of dollars.

When the local investors got fed up, they gathered to protest in front on Bob’s business. “You shouldn’t be using our money to get your brother elected mayor,” said one. Another said, “You shouldn’t be using our money to give to the arts council!”

By then Bob owned all the newspapers and TV and radio stations in town, and they were all telling the rest of the town that the protesters were all communists. His brother the mayor sent the police to arrest them.

Next Bob got the city to relax the regulations that specified how well the cars he sold should work, and started selling cars with defects to the townspeople. The city also limited lawsuits. The customers cheated by Bob couldn’t do anything about it!

Over time Bob’s actions forced all of the honest, responsible car dealers to either operate the way Bob did, or go out of business. The character of the whole town changed.

Eventually, though, Bob’s business practices became so bad that most of the townspeople went to the city and demanded that they do something about it. The city conducted an “investigation” and reached a settlement with Bob’s car dealership. The dealership agreed to pay a modest fine, which meant the investors were on the hook to pay it out of any dividends they might receive. (The city’s lawyer who negotiated with Bob later left and got a very high-paying job working for … Bob.) Bob got to keep the enormous amounts he had been paying to himself.

Bob lived happily ever after.

This fable in no way is meant to make you think about the way that modern American corporations and the current American political system operate.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary