Archive for the ‘Teabaggery’ Category
To celebrate not having Michele Bachman to kick around any more, WC wants to share the insights of Rep. Bachman’s (R, MN) colleagues.
The sovereign voters of New Hampshire have really outdone themselves with State Rep. Stella Tremblay (R, Auburn). If you have your tin foil hat ready, here’s a sample:
Wow. Woodrow Wilson, who died in 1924 and was crippled by a stroke in 1920 or earlier, secretly agreed with Adolf Hitler, who was then an largely unknown convict after his failed Beer Garden Putsch. The 13th Amendment banned nobility; blacks are still slaves; Lincoln dissolved the United States and we are all subjects of Queen Lizzie. There’s some concentrated crazy in that speech. And if you think that’s just one instance of Rep. Tremblay skipping her meds, she more recently announced that the Boston Marathon bombing was a Black Ops deal carried out by President Obama.
WC has gotten more accurate history from street persons who have checked themselves out of Alaska Psychiatric Hospital against medical advice. The GOP must be very proud.
Then there’s Republican National Committeman Dave Agema, from Grandville, Michigan. A former state representative, Mr. Agema bashes gays, saying “Study after study after study talks about all the diseases you get, how it just gets you into drugs, gets you into all these other things that you don’t want to be in.” He goes on to compare gays to alcoholics.
Next, we have the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in Virginia. Rev. E. W. Jackson is a fire and brimstone minister who told his congregation not to worry about climate change, “As if God’s gonna let mankind destroy the planet with SUV’s!” So it’s unsurprising that he also said,
We live in the most interesting times in human history. These are the days spoken of in Scripture, the days of fulfillment. This is therefore an era of unprecedented spiritual activity on both sides as the conflict races to a head. Those who are in Christ are on the winning side. Part of what must happen during this period of great harvest for the kingdom of God is a massive wealth transfer. It is not going to happen by theft or governmental policy. It is going to happen supernaturally. Those invested in God’s market are going to reap a windfall. Make up your mind now to buy in.
WC was taught that Jesus threw the moneychangers out of the temple. Clearly, he didn’t throw them far enough.
But WC’s reader don’t have to go further than the Mat-Su to find the crazy. At a public hearing on national education standards, one Wasillite announced the “common core” curriculum standards are “Jedi mind trick.” That particular concerned citizen may need to sharpen his light saber.
The guys who wrote the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights had just fought a war with a guy who thought God had personally ordained that he be King of the British Empire. You know? The Revolutionary War? British kings?
In all seriousness, George III believed entirely in the divine right of kings. It was blasphemy – sacrilege – to challenge the right of George III to do whatever he wanted, including whatever he wanted with the Colonies. Monarchs were accountable only to God.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were crafted to dilute the power of government through the separation of powers, and to break the concept of Divine Right by separating church and state. The United States was founded by men who knew the abuses that occurred when government claimed its authority derived from God. The First Amendment’s mandates were another way of separating powers; in this case, the power of religion from the power of government.
The Christianists would deny or ignore that history. In their efforts to mandate a theocracy, and to cloak that theocracy in the claim that this is a “Christian” nation, they muddle freedom of religion with freedom of government from religion. The Christianists would put us back under the thumb of divine right. Whether it is prayer in school, or meddling with women’s wombs, or blatant, ignorant revision of history, the Christianists would re-merge the power of government with divine authority.
In that sense, they are no different from the ayatollahs who distrust democracy and screen the candidates for the ones who pass religious muster.
They clutch their reading of the Second Amendment to themselves like a religious talisman, but ignore and even deny the First Amendment.
Jefferson’s confidence in democracy may have been misplaced.
There’s no way to talk about the so-called IRS scandal in a substantive way without getting into some serious wonkery. So be warned. Wonkery ahead.
Ultimately, this mess is Congress’s fault, although WC doesn’t expect Congress to admit it. The legal standards for a §501(c)(4) nonprofit, tax exempt organization are vague and uncertain. How can that not be Congress’s fault? But WC is starting the story in the middle. Let’s take two steps back.
Nonprofit tax law is complex. It’s impossible to make it interesting. But don’t confuse it with the tax law of charitable organizations, an even more complex and even less interesting issue. Folks who give money or pay dues to a §501(c)(4) don’t get a charitable deduction. §501(c)(4)s are civic leagues. A civic league is exempt from federal income tax if it is not organized for profit and is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.
A civic league is “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare” if it primarily engages in promoting the common good and social general welfare of the community. “Exclusively” doesn’t mean “exclusively.” Promoting social welfare, by law, does not include participation or intervention in the political campaign of any candidate for office.
§501(c)(4)s can participate in some level of political campaigning; it just can’t be the primary activity. It’s called the “primary purpose rule.” If an exempt organization abides the the primary purpose rule, then the identities of its members and contributors can be kept confidential.
Understand that there is another kind of nonprofit organization that is also exempt from taxation which can, without limit, spend money on political activities. That would be a §527 organization, a political organization. But the membership of a §527 organization is public, as is the amounts the members contribute.
The problems arise when a group wants the anonymity of a §501(c)(4) but the unrestricted right to play in politics available to a §527 nonprofit. The specific problems involve figuring out what “primary” means. The statute isn’t very helpful. The regulations aren’t very helpful. Is it measured by expenditure? By volunteer time? By the activities of the nonprofit itself? By the nonprofits official purpose? It’s been a long-term problem, but didn’t emerge as a critical issue until Citizens United punched a multi-million dollar hole in the country’s campaign laws. And then only when those big dollar donors wanted the semi-anonymity of a §501(c)(4) membership as well as the privilege of unlimited contributions.
Keep this in mind: the only practical difference for this discussion between a §501(c)(4) and §527 is the kind of anonymity that the former offers. There is a Congress-created and approved nonprofit vehicle for political activiites. It’s just a bit more public.
Some of us would go so far as to say the use of a §501(c)(4) for any political activity is the misuse of the entity type for an improper purpose: anonymous campaign contributions. But. so long as political activities aren’t the primary purpose, whatever that means, it’s merely a misuse, not illegal.
The Tea Party movement emerged in 2009 as a overtly, noisily and unapologetically political movement. There was and is precious little of a civic league about the Tea Party. When various Tea Party groups applied for nonprofit status as §501(c)(4)s, the IRS exempt organizations office in Cincinnati began segregating out applications that mentioned “Tea Party” or “patriot” and either not acting on the applications or requiring responses to lengthy questionnaires. A matrix was developed in the Cincinnati office with suspect words. According to some sources, no applications using the phrase “Tea Party” were processed for more than 16 months.
In response to complaints from Congress, the IRS’s internal auditor, the Inspector General’s Office, launched an investigation. The Report was released on May 13, 2013. The IGO Report concludes bad judgment in the Exempt Organizations office, inadequate supervision and inadequate staffing all contributed to the selective scrutiny. The IGO also points to a kind of political blindness, a naivete among the staff who developed the politically incorrect screening process. The IGO found no evidence of direction from supervisors to stall applications for §501(c)(4) status from Tea Party applicants. Based upon all of the available evidence – portions of the IGO’s Report are redacted – this seems to have been an effort developed by line employees in the Cincinnati office of the IRS to what they were seeing on the nightly news.
It’s likely that most, if not all, of the couple of thousand of stalled applications should not have been granted §501(c)(4) status. Of course they were primarily political; the Tea Party is or was purely a political movement. Because of the furor, beginning with the IGO investigation and continuing, it’s also likely that most of the applications will be granted, however wrongly. The IGO reports that a random sample of 296 applications found 108 had been approved, 28 had been withdrawn and 106 were still pending at the date of the report.
So the Law of Unintended Consequences is operating here, too. The effort, possibly well-intentioned, to stem the tide of improper claims for §501(c)(4) status has resulted in an increased level of improper grants of that status.
No one has emerged covered in glory here. Not the Cincinnati Office of the IRS, which practiced discriminatory treatment of applications. Not the managers of the exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, who failed to adequately train and supervise the line staff. Not the President, who in the absence of evidence, fired the Acting Director of the IRS. And certainly not our Congress, which created the problem with poorly written statutes, aggravated the problem by under-funding the IRS, and then has attempted to reap political hay instead of repairing the statute or, better still, disabling anonymous campaign contributions, whether through a §501(c)(4) or otherwise. There is, in the words of Senator Sam Ervin, more than enough blame to go around.
What there isn’t is any evidence of criminal misconduct by anyone, however much the Republicans might want there to be. So far, it’s not another Watergate, where forty-plus White House staffers, including the Attorney General, eventually went to jail. So far, it’s just another bureaucratic screw-up.
Congress has it in its power to fix the mess by revising the law. But don’t hold your breath.
WC accurately predicted the response to the State of Alaska Redistricting Board to the Alaska Supreme Court’s bitch slap back in February: the Board would stall. In fact, since the mid-February of this year, let’s listen to everything the Redistricting Board has accomplished to meet the unambiguous orders of the Alaska Supreme Court:
Even Superior Court Judge Mike McConahay is showing signs of running out of patience. On May 30, 2013, he entered an order chastising the Board for failing to act, and for the Board’s suggesting that public hearings were not a necessary part of the process. Unhappily, Judge McConahay didn’t set deadlines, except to determine that the Board’s proposed date for maybe, possibly starting to take action, sometime in August, was too late.
Can we all be clear about this?
The Redistricting Board, overwhelmingly Republican, is pursuing a dual strategy.
First, they are hoping the U.S. Supreme Court, which has heard oral argument on a challenge to the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, but not yet ruled, will hold the Voting Rights Act to be unconstitutional, or out-moded, or no longer necessary. The VRA, which applies to Alaska for the just the kind of reasons the Board’s current redistricting plan have demonstrated, is a necessary part of any redistricting effort. So part of the Board’s stalling strategy is to await the U.S. Supreme Court decision in hope that the VRA requirements will no longer apply to the Board’s gerrymandering efforts.
Second, the Board is stalling in an effort to keep its gerrymandered redistricting plan in place through the next round of state elections in 2014, in order to preserve the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate. And even beyond that. If you stall long enough, it’s time for a new redistricting effort.
Of course, you can’t discount petulance. No Board members were available to the media after Judge McConahay’s ruling.
WC has a modest proposal. Judge McConahay should give the Redistricting Board until September 1, 2013 to prepare a plan that complies with the Alaska Supreme Court directives, hold public hearings on the plan and present it to the court. If, on September 1, the process isn’t completed, then the court should itself develop a redistricting plan itself using the Hickel methodology, and that plan, after review by the Alaska Supreme Court at the insistence of the disgruntled Republicans, will apply in the 2014 elections.
And, incidentally, that’s the way the majority, perhaps all, of state redistricting plans have been drawn, since shortly after statehood.
No more gerrymandered elections. No more faux majorities in the state legislature. Follow the law.
(WC admits he finds its distinctly weird to be agreeing with Mike Walleri. It’s enough to make him double-check his facts. But there it is.)
In commemoration of Michele Bachman’s announcement this would be her final term in the U.S. House, Huffington Post columnist Jason Linkins has prepared a chart summarizing Bachman’s six years of Congressional achievements in one easy-to-read place:
It says a lot about American politics today that this person was considered, however briefly, to be a U.S. Presidential candidate.
Not that Bachman didn’t contribute to the solemn public discourse. Remember these gems, courtesy of Frank Hagler at PolicyMic?
“Well what I want them to know is just like, John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.”
Bachmann, who is from Iowa, mistook John Wayne the actor for John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer.
“I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine that injection and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”
“But we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States … Men like John Quincy Adams would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.”
John Quincy Adams was not a Founding Father. He was eight.
“Before we get started, let’s all say ‘Happy Birthday’ to Elvis Presley today.”
“Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.”
“You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world at Lexington and Concord.”
“I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter”
That actually happened under Gerald Ford.
As a final note, this incumbent’s retirement actually raises the chances that her U.S. House seat will remain Republican. Respected analyst Nate Silver put the odds at four times greater.
It’s now time for the ceremonial singing of “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead.” Munchkin voices are not required.
Serial election loser Joe Miller is teasing his followers about the foregone conclusion that he will run for Mark Begich’s U.S. Senate seat. While he plays coy, his psychology and self-image make running nearly irresistible to him. Besides, his law office burnt so he’s looking for work. Again. Still.
As a service to his readers, WC will deconstruct one of Miller’s recent campaign pieces, looking for anything new or moderately interesting. Let’s start turning over the rocks and see what we find:
Serious times call for bold measures. With the re-election of Barack Obama, our very way of self-government is in peril. The Constitution is under attack, the value of human life degraded, religious liberties are threatened, the Second Amendment is increasingly in jeopardy, and the right to protection from unlawful search and seizure is giving way to a virtual surveillance State.
So he opens with a non sequitur. A call for “bold measures” followed by a list of the usual paranoid fantasies of the right. Of course, when anyone talks about winding down the government intrusions since 9/11, they’re “jeopardizing the safety of the country,” but that’s an issue for a different blog post. No sign of any “bold measures” here, though. Paranoia doesn’t qualify.
In 2010, I was one of the first candidates to warn of a looming debt crisis and predict the coming downgrade of America’s credit rating. My campaign championed the prerogatives of State governments under the 10th Amendment, and pointed out the massive threat to our individual liberties coming out of Washington.
Er. No. Political candidates have been “warning of a looming debt crisis” since at least the 1970s. And then we get some more right-wing paranoia mixed with Miller’s Tenth Amendment obsession. We certainly can’t accuse him of reinventing himself. Nothing new here.
In October of 2010, I predicted that regardless of who represented Alaska in DC, “the era of earmarks is dead.” And we were ahead of the curve on entitlement reform.
Predicting the “death of earmarks” wasn’t much of a “prediction,” since they’d died in 2008. Sorry, not much credit for Miller here, either. And while he called for “entitlement reform,” of course he was exposed as having used most of those entitlements himself at one point or another in his … checkered … career.
Though I was labeled an “extremist” by the likes of Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich for telling the truth, both of our sitting senators now routinely engage in such “extremist” rhetoric with respect to federal overreach, government spending, and entitlement reform. Yet they are still unwilling to tackle the tough issues.
“Telling the truth.” That’s rich, coming from Miller. This is the guy whose 2010 campaign was wrapped in a cloud of lies, who lied to hide his earlier lies and who fought feverishly in court to keep his lies hidden. The words “truth” and “Miller” can’t be seriously used in the same sentence. If you wanted to “tackle the tough issues,” you’d address why any thoughtful voter can trust anything you say, given, you know, the track record. Nor has WC heard either Senator Murkowski or Senator Begich indulge in the kind of weird constitutional law that you proselytize.
Much of what was so shocking to the sensibilities of Alaskans who had grown accustomed to federal largesse has now been assimilated as conventional wisdom. We all know that one can only borrow against the future for so long. Yesterday’s “extremes” are today’s realities.
Er. No. Miller is confusing “shocking” with “appalling.” And his debt-fueled fear-mongering is out of date. The economy is recovering – no thanks to Miller and his erstwhile colleagues among the teabaggers and Randists. Austerity is a proven failure. Yet he keeps flogging these dead mules. No change there, either.
The choice before Alaskans in 2014 will be stark. Voters must choose between the easy lies of an insider politician and the hard truth of a reformer.
There’s the “truth” thing again. WC doesn’t disagree that the choice may be stark, at least if Miller is the Republican candidate. But Miller is being careless with the “easy lies” accusation. WC’s recollection – and the voters’ collective recollection – may not be as cloudy as Miller hopes. We remember his easy lies all too clearly. And we understand that “easy lies” can come from a candidate as readily as from an “insider politician.” After all, it was Miller that taught us.
As of the writing of this article, I am unaware of another potential candidate who has demonstrated a willingness to challenge the status quo, and confront the culture of corruption that reaches to the highest levels of American government.
WC isn’t sure how hard Miller looked at other potential candidates. Well, that’s not true. WC is pretty sure Miller didn’t look very hard, because this is all about letting himself be talked into running. It’s posturing. And, just for the record, he didn’t “confront the culture of corruption;” he participated in it. He wallowed in it. He rigged straw polls. He mis-used his colleagues’ computers and his own. He lied about it. WC may be a small town lawyer and a provincial Alaskan, but he knows the stink of corruption when he smells it. And dude, you smell like a fresh cat turd.
We need a candidate in 2014 who will join reformers like Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz to confront President Obama, not one who will cut a deal to negotiate the terms of our surrender to his radical socialist agenda.
Yeah, right, like that strategy has worked well the last five years? And claiming President Obama has a “radical socialist agenda” is just more right-wing button-pressing fantasy. President Obama makes President Clinton look like a left wing liberal. President Obama is the most conservative Democratic president since Woodrow Wilson.
I have been a Republican for most of my adult life. But I am under no illusions about the Republican Establishment’s failure to confront the problems facing the country. The status quo is not a viable option.
Yeah, we all have things about ourselves that are embarrassing. Perhaps Miller has a few more than WC who, despite all his other failings, has never been a Republican.
Let’s be honest. The partisan frame of reference is outmoded. We now live under a duopoly which serves corporate and special interests, rather than the interests of the individual citizen. It’s the insiders versus the outsiders.
WC suggests Miller stop using words like “truth” and “honest.” See above. Speaking of truth, Miller’s populist pitch here would sound a lot better if most of his working life he hadn’t been a government employee of one kind or another. You know, an “insider.” And isn’t it just a teensy bit contradictory to call partisan politics outmoded after embracing Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz just two paragraphs earlier?
While many in my party prattle on and on about their desperate desire to “defeat Mark Begich,” that is not my singular object. Yes, Mark Begich is part of the problem in Washington. But for me, the 2014 election is not merely about beating Mark Begich. It’s about saving the country!
When someone says it’s not about money, it’s about money. When Miller says it isn’t about beating Mark Begich? It’s all about defeating Mark Begich. Miller is confusing his goals with his means to the goals. Again. Still.
I have the same dreams and desires in my heart as most Alaskans have. And, we’re asking the same questions about the America we love: will our children inherit a country where life is valued, individual liberty cherished, and private property respected? Will they ever have the opportunity to engage in free enterprise and build a future for themselves and for their children? Will they be free to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience?
The choice before us is clear: liberty or tyranny?
As perorations go, this is a pretty limp noodle. And the evidence is very clear that “most” Alaskans don’t share the “dreams and desires in your heart.” By a margin of about 12,000 votes, give or take. And casting himself as the the difference between liberty and tyranny is a nice example of the straw man fallacy.
WC will spare his readers the pitch at the end.
Let’s recap. Is there anything in Miller’s literary effort, as analyzed above, to make you think he is no longer a serial liar and hypocrite? That he will no longer act like a petulant child and try to litigate his way out of an election result he doesn’t like? That he doesn’t owe the Fairbanks North Star Borough $85,000 as a consequence of his petulance?
Nope. You’d have better luck trying to find something substantive in Miller’s post.
Some years ago, WC lived with Felix, an elderly tomcat. In his declining years, Felix would crap on the kitchen floor and then spend half an hour pawing at the floor, trying to cover it up. At the end of the half hour, the pile of crap would still be there, in plain sight, stinking and foetid. Felix would walk away and pretend it didn’t exist.
That’s Joe Miller’s problem. His past is there on the kitchen floor. It reeks. He can pretend it isn’t there. But he isn’t fooling anybody.
President Obama is criticized and mocked as the “teleprompter president.” Jay Leno, who is suffering from hardening of the punchlines as he gets older, mocked the President Thursday night, with the line, “It is not looking good for President Obama. Today his teleprompter took the fifth.” The anti-Obama crowd was all over the joke.
The meme is patently untrue. And WC can prove it.
Yesterday, in his speech on the prison on Guantanamo Bay and the AUMF (the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists) the President was interrupted by a Code Pink protester. Instead of the usual platitudes about the virtues of the First Amendment, after a full minute or more of her interruption in one of the most important speeches of his second term, the President responded: “the voice of that woman is worth paying attention to.” Can you imagine any other president or the chief of state of any other country extemporizing with that line in those circumstances? He acknowledged the power of her concerns and even honored them? Can we agree that wasn’t on the teleprompter?
And then in his conclusion, President Obama incorporated the incident again, while still speaking, because he realized it helped him make his point:
Now, we need a strategy – and a politics – that reflects this resilient spirit. Our victory against terrorism won’t be measured in a surrender ceremony on a battleship, or a statue being pulled to the ground. Victory will be measured in parents taking their kids to school; immigrants coming to our shores; fans taking in a ballgame; a veteran starting a business; a bustling city street; a citizen shouting her concerns to her President.
That’s a remarkably effective incorporation of what could have been an awkward moment into a peroration that turned the interruption to the President’s advantage. That’s great public speaking. That’s adapting to the circumstances. That’s turning your critics’ own words against them in mid-speech.
It wasn’t on the teleprompter. So can we lose this ridiculous meme?
The Republicans have worked themselves into a furious froth over the IRS’s alleged misconduct in tax treatment of Teabaggers. Some have gone so far as to conclude it is irrefutable evidence of impeachable misconduct by President Obama. WC will deal with the IRS “scandal” in a separate post, but for now let’s examine the thinking – for the loosest possible use of that term – behind the right wing’s screams for impeachment.
WC’s Teabagger acquaintances have a conclusion: that President Obama should be impeached. But they haven’t a shred of evidence that the President knew of any IRS misconduct, let alone directed it to happen. They are working from their conclusion to their premise. They are using their conclusion to establish their premise. They are saying, the President should be impeached, therefore he is evil. In the absence of any evidence of misconduct.
It’s a logical fallacy. It’s probably most commonly known as the Mind Projection Fallacy. It comes in two flavors. In one variety, a person’s subjective judgments are “projected” to be inherent properties of an object, rather than being matters of personal perception. One effect of this variety of fallacy is that others are assumed to share the same view, and that they are irrational or misinformed if they do not. The right wingers’ subjective judgment that President Obama is corrupt is applied to all aspects of his presidency, rather than being viewed by the right wingers as their personal perceptions. All events are filtered through that perception. Anyone who disagrees is nuts.
(The second variety is when someone assumes that their own lack of knowledge about a phenomenon (which is, in fact, about their state of mind) as meaning that the phenomenon is not or cannot be understood (a fact about reality). This is global warming and climate change denial territory, though, and less relevant to the IRS scandal debates.)
Once you recognize the logical fallacy that underlies the neocon efforts to attack the President, their tactics in the seemingly unending, pointless committee hearings start to make a kind of distorted sense. They aren’t out to find evidence of presidential misconduct, because in their minds the evidence is already there. No, it’s not logical. By definition, it’s illogical. But they’ve already projected their conclusions to establish their premise.
Under this kind of irrationality, there’s nothing that President Obama can do to prove the “scandal” involved only a small group of unthinking IRS employees. The President stayed away from the IRS Inspector General’s investigation and report? The president is uninvolved and failing to manage government. The President involved himself in the IG’s investigation and report? He’s covering things up. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t. Until you pop the Mind Projection Fallacy bubble, it’s an Alice in Wonderland situation.
True, they hope to ride the issue to a power grab in the U.S. Senate in the 2014 election. But that assumes that a majority of the the voters are illogical and irrational as the House majority. The 2012 elections would suggest otherwise. WC is cautiously optimistic.
(WC is indebted to Andrew Sullivan for the title to this post. But paranoia doesn’t really enter into it, Andrew.)
John Cook et al., writing in a paper titled Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in Scientific Literature published May 15, 2013 confirmed what we already knew. There is an overwhelming consensus on man-caused, anthropogenic global warming. Here’s the Abstract:
We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11,944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors’ self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.
They examined 11,944 papers written over a period of 20 years. The authors report just 39 authors unequivocally rejected man-caused global warming. This is the largest literature review yet. You’d think it would answer all the claims that the science is inconclusive.
You’d be wrong.
The authors point to a 2012 Pew public opinion poll in which 57% of the US public either disagreed or were unaware that scientists overwhelmingly agree that the earth is warming due to human activity. How is it that the perception and the reality are so far apart? How is it that the majority’s perception is dead, flat wrong?
The authors of the study point to some of the reasons. Fossil-fuel trade organizations like Western Fuels Association, which spent $510 000 on campaigns whose primary goals were to ‘reposition global warming as theory (not fact)‘. Truth is being out-spent by self-serving lies. One of the strategies has been to create the illusion of debate by paying the few dissenters to serve as spokespersons for the fossil fuel energy. Another strategy is to insist that “dissenting voices” be given equal treatment in the media. That creates the illusion of meaningful controversy where none exists.
WC can point to some more. WC suspects there is a strong, positive correlation between members of Congress who waffle about or deny anthropogenic climate change and the amounts of campaign contributions received from the fossil fuel industry. Sure, to some extent it’s a feedback loop. The campaign contributions go to fossil fuel supporters, who then make suitable noises and cast suitable votes, attracting still more campaign contributions. But when your small, mean politician soul has been bought and paid for, it’s hard to change your position. You’ve sucked the sugar tit. The scientific reality is an inconvenient truth.
And to an alarming extent, public and Congressional climate change denial is a product of Christianist End Times beliefs. For some, “God wills it” is the answer to everything, and it would be sinful for mankind to try to stop it. For others, it’s a sign on the much desired, ever-evasive End Times, and interfering with our self-destruction of our planet would mean the World Wouldn’t End, which apparently would be a Bad Thing. It’s superstition. Superstition has an answer to everything but explains nothing and solves nothing. It’s an excuse for doing nothing. Eclipses and earthquakes are messages from God and not the product of plate tectonics and astronomy. God wills it. The polar ice is melting? God wills it. CO2 levels are rising? God Wills it.
So WC doesn’t expect the new evidence to operate as some kind of revelation, or make politicians suddenly recognize a looming crisis. True believers can’t change their minds without changing their belief systems. Congress is obsessed with re-election, at the expense of everything else, including the well-being of their children and grandchildren.
Just to reflect a moment on 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere – the highest levels in the past million years or so – WC provides the following useful tool to his readers.
It happens to all of us. You’re at a party, or a family dinner, and the conversation turns to climate change. And your brother-in-law, or the obnoxious woman in sales, trots out some claim that climate change is bogus.
Here’s a link to a handy list of 154 bogus anti-climate change claims, with rebuttal: Skeptic Rebuttals in one line.
We are gathered today to bury the economic theory known as Austerity. In its short life as a guide post for economic policy, it worked great harm. But it is dead now, and those of us who have survived need to understand its brief life to make certain that it stays dead. And work to repair the damage Austerity has done.
First, we must remember what austerity was. Austerity as an economic policy was a political response to economic downturns that slashed public spending, trying to reduce government deficits, all as a means of triggering or encouraging economic recovery. In the words of Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station, this has the same logic as burning the lifeboats when the ship is sinking. But Austerity had an impressive academic pedigree.
Austerity was born out of a 2010 academic paper by Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. They claimed that a nation’s economic growth stopped when its ratio of public debt to gross domestic product passed a threshold of 90 percent. Their claim gave birth to Austerity as an economic policy, as a plan for regulating the economy of nations.
As Jeff Weintraub points out, Reinhart and Rogoff’s claims have since been thoroughly refuted by new analyses finding calculation errors, data omissions, questionable methods and inconclusive evidence of causality. There’s more than a hint of purposiveness in Reinhardt and Rogoff; that they set out to prove Austerity should live, and then twisted the facts and logic to prove their assumption. Other, later high-profile arguments for austerity including recent papers by Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna, and by David Greenlaw have also been criticized.
But the main problem with the late, unlamented Austerity, and the reason for this funeral, is that it didn’t work. It was attempted. It was imposed. Austerity, in all its human misery, had its way with Greece, Spain, Portugal and other Eurozone countries. And it has failed in its avowed purpose. Austerity made the economies of those countries sicker, not better. Austerity slowed recovery, rather than speeding it. The friends and allies of Austerity denied it at first. But the data were just too clear. When Scott Barber at Reuters published this chart, Austerity went into a coma:
The United States, where the Neocons and their hangers-on embraced Austerity but were unable to have it work its will, benefited instead from a mild, if inadequate, dose of Keynesian policy. The results speak for themselves. The United States is in far better economic condition than our sister countries in Europe, where Austerity had its brief, if crippling, way. Or compare Iceland’s experience, where the voters rejected Austerity, with Greece’s experience where it was embraced. Iceland’s economy has largely recovered. Greece continues to sicken.
Austerity’s condition worsened as economists, especially Paul Krugman, noted that none of the predictions Austerity had made were coming true. Austerity predicted runaway inflation if it wasn’t imposed; that didn’t happen. Austerity predicted soaring interest rates if it wasn’t imposed; that didn’t happen either.
Even the International Monetary Fund repudiated austerity, contributing somewhat to Austerity’s demise.
And so Austerity lingered a while, but finally died. There are those who are in denial of Austerity’s demise. Like Paul Ryan. But as a credible economic policy, Austerity is pushing daisies.
However, as we all know, the consequences of our deeds outlive us. Charts and numbers hold the human tragedy of Austerity at a distance. A graph doesn’t show the misery that Austerity created and will continue to inflict. Austerity, partially imposed here in the United States, and full embraced by much of the European Union, has given us a higher suicide rate. Prescriptions for antidepressants have soared. In the U.S., three-quarters of a million people (particularly out-of-work young men) have turned to binge drinking. Over five million Americans have lost access to health care because they lost their jobs (and either could not afford to extend their insurance under COBRA law or exhausted their eligibility). Preventive medical visits dropped as people delayed medical care and ended up in emergency rooms. That’s the legacy of Austerity. It will be with us for decades.
Perhaps that’s the real lesson of Austerity and the message of this funeral oration. Nations are composed of people. And the consequences of bad ideas and policies fall on people, not on some abstract notion of a Gross Domestic Product. Bad policies, including policies chosen for political expediency, can result in bitter, terrible, inexcusable harm.
Austerity will be buried along side Trickle Down Economics and Supply Side Economics in the Republican Graveyard of Failed Economic Policies. In lieu of flowers, WC requests donations be made to your local Food Bank.
Pity the poor Neocons for just a few seconds.
The much-excoriated bailout of General Motors has resulted in another hefty gain for the United States Treasury. The U.S. sold some of its shares in GM, netting $1.6 billion in the first quarter. Altogether, the U.S. has recovered about $30.7 billion of the $49.5-billion GM bailout, a stock purchase that helped the company navigate Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009 and return to profitability. It’s true that the remaining shares will likely be sold at a net loss to the Treasury, absent a surge in stock value. But the Neocons hate that the bailout, you know, worked. And remember the loan, as opposed to the shares purchased by the U.S., has already been repaid, with interest, in full. The deal, which was initially approved by President Bush, was finalized and implemented under President Obama. It saved 60,000 jobs at General Motors, and tens of thousands of more jobs in GM’s suppliers, dealers and vendors. The federal bailout of GM worked. Neocons hate that.
The case that really frosts the Neocon’s doughnut, though, is the bailout of the Federal National Mortgage Association, a/k/a Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae, for Teabaggers and Neocons, is Exhibit A in the Big List of Government Dreadfuls. But even Fannie Mae is paying off its loan, including a $59.4 billion dollar payment earlier this month. Fannie Mae is what makes the U.S. housing industry possible. It buys mortgages from private banks, allowing the banks to make loans to ordinary folks who otherwise would pay a lot more, if they could get loans at all or even afford to own their own homes. The Neocons hate that, too.
According to the Bailout Scorecard, about 80% of all rescue funds have now been repaid and recovered:
The Treasury has been earning a return on most of the money invested or loaned. So far, it has earned $116B. When those revenues are taken into account, $126B is the net still outstanding as of May 3, 2013.
Next, The Heritage Fund, the Neocons’s prize
propaganda machine think tank stepped on itself with a bogus report on the economic impact of the proposed immigration reform. And got caught with its racist agenda showing. Reportedly, THF has hired an outside consultant to do damage control. Some folks would suggest it’s just long-overdue karma. After all, THF is where former Senator Jim DeMint went after departing the U.S. Senate.
And then, worst of all, the Federal government went and had a surplus in April. That’s right, the U.S. brought in more than it spent. A $113 billion surplus. At least for the month of April. Maybe it is kind of a fluke, but at a time when Neocons and Teabaggers have worked themselves into a full, foamy froth over the size of the deficit and the size of the national debt, it has to be ashes in their mouths.
It won’t shut them up. Facts and reality don’t distract Neocons or their followers. They’ll continue to spew their economic nonsense, fear-mongering and hate. Their true believers will repeat the words just as if they understood them.
The thing about Keynsian economics is that it works. Unlike austerity. Unlike “trickle down.” And it has worked in spite of the unrelenting efforts of Neocons, for purely selfish reasons, to block Keynsian remedies to the Great Recession. The result has been a slower recovery than need have been, and countless millions of man-hours of needless suffering. But slowly, surely, despite everything the Neocons do the economy is slowly healing.
As WC says, a difficult month for eocons. A pretty good month for everyone else.
If you needed any further proof that the Republican Party is in fact the anti-science party, or that among neocons the stupid is very strong indeed, Rep. Lamar Smith (R, TX) has stepped up with conclusive evidence.
Representative Smith, God help the United States, is the Chair of the House Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the U.S. House. He has proposed a bill under which his Committee would evaluate the quality of scientific and technological research sponsored by the United States. If that doesn’t make you break out in a cold sweat, you don’t know Rep. Smith.
In response to the hoots of derision from scientists and some his fellow politicians, Rep. Smith demonstrated his profound ignorance of the scientific method and the peer review process by issuing a statement:
The draft bill maintains the current peer review process and improves on it by adding a layer of accountability. The intent of the draft legislation is to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent on the highest-quality research possible.
The “layer of accountability,” of course, is Representative Smith and his Republican peers, who have the same knowledge of science that they do of, say, economics. Or negotiation. Or history. The idea that they would have a formal gatekeeper function, that they are in a position to understand, let alone evaluate on its merits, modern research is far beyond arrogance. It demonstrates a kind of culpable idiocy that would be disastrous for the United States.
Of course, we’ve already been down this course, although it wasn’t under the color of law. The George W. Bush administration attempted to suppress and stifle climate research. If you’ve forgotten then review this 2007 exchange between Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA) and NASA climatologist Drew Shindell:
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: Another edit deleted the phrase, “Changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly the result of human activities.” And that phrase was replaced with a phrase that said, “A causal link between the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the observed climate changes during the 20th century cannot be unequivocally established.” Is this an appropriate change? Does the rephrasing accurately represent the science, or does it mislead the public?
DR. DREW SHINDELL: I would say that that is also a misleading statement. While technically true, the first statement, that human activities play the dominant role, is a much more accurate picture of the science.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: Some of the edits we reviewed were made by CEQ chief of staff Philip Cooney. Mr. Cooney is not a scientist by training. Instead, he’s a lawyer who was working as a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute before he was appointed to his position at the Council on Environmental Quality. And I’d like to ask you some questions about his edits. In one document, Mr. Cooney deleted a reference to the National Research Council’s finding that human activities are causing temperatures to rise. Obviously, the National Research Council is this country’s premier scientific body. Can you tell us if there is a scientific basis for deleting a reference to this finding?
DR. DREW SHINDELL: No. That is again a well-supported statement.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: In the same document, Mr. Cooney deleted the phrase, “Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment.” Is there anything scientifically questionable about this phrase?
DR. DREW SHINDELL: Again, no.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: In yet another edit, Mr. Cooney wrote that satellite data disputes global warming. Is this scientifically valid?
DR. DREW SHINDELL: No. There was for many years a controversy, where satellite data showed warming but to a different degree than was seen at the surface or that was predicted by models higher up in the atmosphere. It never disputed global warming, and that controversy has since been resolved.
This is what happens when laymen, hacks with special agendas and political thugs put their dirty fingers in scientific research. Do we really need to go there again?
Rep. Smith thinks so. His constituents are unhappy that federally sponsored research might establish still further proof that the Bible’s “science” is nonsense. The oil industry that makes huge contributions to his political campaigns don’t want scientific evidence that fracking is dangerous. His list of special agendas is endless, and WC would no more trust him to be neutral than he’d trust Joe Miller in a computer poll. It’s not just Rep. Smith’s utter lack of training to judge science; there is no significant chance he would be politically or practically neutral.
Robert Beckhusen has an interesting article on the psychological processes by which a disaffected person become a terrorist. Relying on the work of Roger Griffin, a professor of political science at Oxford-Brookes University, he traced the two-step process of “splitting” and then “doubling.” WC isn’t sure how useful the idea is – it’s not going to help identify higher risk characters in advance – but it is insightful.
Just when WC thinks he has lowered his expectations enough, too. Page two is worse.
Finally, WC just finished reading Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962, by Yang Jisheng. It is a searing portrait from a Chinese Communist Party member of the manmade famine that killed at least 36-45 million people in China. Brilliantly written and translated, it makes grim reading.
Yang uses some effective techniques to personalize the story. It opens with the death from starvation of his uncle, the man who had raised him. It tracks the deaths of scores of individuals. And Yang meticulously documents the horrific, staggering self-deception at the highest levels. Perhaps the most staggering and grimmest chapters in Tombstone relate what happened in Xinyang Prefecture, in Henan Province. A lush, bounteous region, Yang describes it as “the economic engine of the province,” with a 1958 population of 8.5 million. Chairman Mao’s policies drove the peasants from their individual small holdings that had fed the province for centuries. They were forced to work communally and forced to yield almost everything to the state, either to feed the cities or — crazily, absurdly, tragically — to increase exports. That’s right: China vastly increased it exports of grain while its citizens starved to death. The peasants were allotted enough grain for just a few months. In Xinyang alone, Yang calculates, over a million people died.
Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai, along with most of the rest of the bureaucratic elite, are painted as “the falcons and hounds of evil,” according to Yang. As crop yields dived, they assured Chairman Mao that agricultural production had in fact soared. Mao himself proclaimed that under the new dispensation yields could be exponentially higher. “Tell the peasants to resume eating chaff and herbs for half the year,” Mao said, “and after some hardship for one or two or three years things will turn around.”
Tombstone is banned in China. It was published in Hong Kong in two immense volumes in 2008. This translation by Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian was published in late 2012. This is a monumental work. It drives a stake through the heart of Mao and Maoists. It’s a graphic, detailed, painfully documented description of the murder of 36 million people. We still agonize over the Khmer Rouge’s Killing Fields, and the genocide there; this is twenty Killing Fields.
WC’s most sincere thanks to Yang Jisheng on a grim story, exceptionally well told.
The thing that most characterizes Joe Miller is his execrable, terrible, wretched, appalling and very bad judgment. And bad judgment isn’t what WC is looking for in a politician, let alone a U.S. Senator. There’s enough politicians with bad judgment already.
Miller’s bad judgment isn’t exactly news; his decision to “explore” running against Begich is just the latest evidence. And confirmation that his pre-existing bad judgment issue isn’t improved.
You don’t have to look much further than his website to see what WC is talking about. He buffs his resume by calling himself a “judge;” he was never a judge. He was a magistrate, an appointed position. The closest a magistrate gets to being judge is small claims court. But to support WC’s claim that Miller has terrible judgment, let’s revisit one of WC’s favorite posts.
On the 493rd anniversary of Martin Luther‘s posting his 95 Theses on the door of Castle Church, Wittenberg, Germany, WC offerred his own 95 Theses, 95 reasons not to vote for Joe Miller. Trust WC, readers; it was difficult to narrow the field to just 95 reasons.
Have you taken your anti-nausea medicine? Rubber gloves and boots on? Good, let’s get started.
- He engaged in unprincipled, unscrupulous behavior in an attempt to defeat a fellow Republican, Randy Ruedrich.
- He lied to his employer about whether he had misused his Borough computer.
- He lied to his employer about whether he had misused his colleagues’ computers.
- He tried to stuff an electronic ballot box.
- He tried to cover his crimes by deleting the cache files on his colleagues’ computers.
- He blamed the victims for his crimes, the conduct of a scoundrel.
- He appears to have committed a Class C Felony, Criminal Use of a Computer, AS 11.46.740.
- He has attempted to minimize his criminal activities by claiming he performed the crime on his lunch hour.
- He deliberately and falsely claimed he could not disclose his Borough personnel file because of the attorney-client privilege.
- He quit the Borough in an unprofessional way that injured his client, the Borough.
- He deleted his emails when he quit, injuring his client.
- He allowed Randy Ruedrich and Ralph Seekins, among others, to claim he had done nothing wrong, when he knew he had.
- He misled the voters about the seriousness of his misconduct at the Borough.
- He allowed Randy Ruedrich and others to defame Jim Whitaker, when he knew Whitaker had spoken nothing but the truth.
- He attempted to intimidate Jim Whitaker by filing a meritless lawsuit against him.
- He attempted to conceal his misconduct at the Borough from the voters.
- He attempted to stonewall the voters as to his conduct at the Borough, rather than coming forward with the truth.
- He complains incessantly about invasions of his privacy while hiding critical information from the voters.
- He has denied and continues to deny voters access to critical information about his past.
- He was arrogant enough to believe he could get away with hiding his misconduct.
- He was arrogant enough to say, or permit an undisclosed staffer to say, he was measuring the drapes for his Senate office.
- He is arrogant enough to really believe he has “Mastered the law,” and posted the statement on his website.
- He describes his career at the Borough, where he was disciplined for very serious misconduct, as “second to none.”
- He believes himself to be smarter than Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot.
- He is so arrogant he thinks the beard is attractive.
- He has failed to timely file reports with election officials.
- He has filed incomplete reports with election officials.
- He believes a Constitution written in 1789 can be applied, unchanged, in 2010.
- He believes social security is unconstitutional
- He falsely claims that the social security system is bankrupt.
- He falsely implies that privatization is the only solution to the funding challenges facing social security.
- He falsely claims that Congress has “raided” the social security trust fund.
- He believes medicaid is unconstitutional.
- He has accepted the very Medicaid he claims is unconstitutional.
- He believes farm subsidies are unconstitutional.
- He has accepted the very farm subsidies he claims are unconstitutional.
- He believes unemployment insurance is unconstitutional.
- He falsely claimed that unemployment insurance is an entitlement program.
- His spouse has claimed the very unemployment insurance he claims are unconstitutional.
- He accepted a free undergraduate education from the U.S. Army, but quit the Army at the very earliest opportunity.
- He called, or permitted an undisclosed staffer, to call his opponent a prostitute.
- He permitted his security goons to assault and handcuff a newspaper editor who was asking him hard questions.
- He has apparently committed or assisted others in committing the crime of Interference With Constitutional Rights, AS 11.76.110, a Class A misdemeanor.
- He forced or permitted an undisclosed staffer to force Anchorage Daily News reporter Julia O’Malley to leave a meeting advertised as open to the public.
- He has a demonstrated record of profound disregard for the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
- He accepts the support of Sarah Palin.
- He accepted money from a PAC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, monies that are tainted by contributions from foreign corporations.
- He has hypocritically complained that one of his opponents accepted money from a PAC.
- He has suggested a Berlin Wall on the U.S.-Mexico border as a solution to illegal immigration.
- He thinks the Federal minimum wage is unconstitutional.
- He claims federal farm subsidies are unconstitutional, yet has personally accepted federal farm subsidies.
- He has claimed he was a judge, when he was never more than a magistrate.
- He is a global warming denier.
- He has lied about the evidence for anthropogenic global warming.
- He has ignored incontrovertible evidence in his claimed home state of Alaska that there is global warming.
- He falsely claims two-third of Alaska is owned by the Federal government.
- He falsely claims that Federal government has broken promises to Alaska.
- He has intentionally disregarded the Republican Party’s Statement of Principles by refusing to disclose important information.
- He has been called out for his conduct by moderate Republicans in an open letter dated October 20, 2010.
- He has engaged in unseemly, inappropriate boasting about his military honors.
- He has engaged in unethical behavior in violation of the Alaska Bar Association’s Code of Professional Responsibility (“the CPR”) by lying about his activities to a client.
- He has violated the CPR by using computers in violation of the law.
- He has violated the CPR by withdrawing as counsel without taking adequate steps to protect his client.
- He has published campaign advertising that deliberately and materially misstates his opponents’ positions.
- He has permitted others to publish campaign advertising that deliberately and materially misstates his opponents’ positions.
- In his 2004 campaign against David Guttenberg, he supported government spending for education; now he opposes it.
- In his 2004 campaign, he supported government health care; now he opposes it.
- In his 2004 campaign, he was in favor of government spending; now he opposes it.
- He has called for an end to federal spending in Alaska, even though it constitutes 40% of the Fairbanks economy.
- He doesn’t even pay his Borough property taxes on time.
- He cannot responsibly manage his own financial affairs; he has more than $100,000 in credit card debt.Nearly done. WC recommends aspirin and a cold compress for the headache.
- He is knowingly helping “camouflage a billionaires’ coup as a populist surge.”
- He is a Tenth Amendment absolutist, but only so long as it serves his interests.
- He has demanded national treasures like Denali National Park be surrendered to the State of Alaska, in violation of the Alaska Constitution.
- He accepts, without criticism or apology, the parade of weapons-brandishing beer-bellies carrying his signs in a children’s parade.
- While he waxes hysterical about the federal deficit, he hasn’t offered one specific proposal to substantively reduce it.
- He has lied about the causes of the federal deficit.
- By acting as a stooge for the Koch brothers, biggest supporters of the Tea Party, he is once against betraying Alaska to billionaires.
- He rails against government spending, yet almost all of his life he has worked for and accepted government paychecks.
- He opposes a woman’s right to choose.
- He opposes abortion in the case of rape or incest.
- He has single-handedly contributed to the overpopulation of the planet, when over-population is one of the great crises of our time.
- He is, in the words of Paul Krugman, “the epitome of short-term, narrow-minded selfishness.”
- He opposes meaningful health care reform.
- He has ignored the fundamental economics of recessions, and risks prolonging and worsening the economic downturn.
- Despite the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, he opposes a moratorium on off-shore drilling.
- He has grossly exaggerated his legal experience.
- He believes creationism should be taught in schools.
- He has held at least six different jobs in 15 years, raising serious questions about his commitment.
- His claimed beliefs and principles are belied by his actual conduct.
- He is an unscrupulous opportunist.
- He is too ignorant of Alaska’s economics and history to be a U.S. Senator.
- He is too arrogant to be a U.S. Senator.
- He is too dishonest to be a U.S. Senator.
- He is utterly unworthy of your vote.
But wait! There’s more! Those 95 Theses were only current as of October 30, 2010. Since then, Miller has continued to display the same kind of bad judgment that should disqualify him from any job where common sense, good judgment and logical thinking are required. Among the post-election instances of terrible judgment:
- He lost his fight to keep secret his felonious conduct at the Fairbanks North Star Borough Department of Law.
- He lost the general election by 12,000 votes to a write-in candidate.
- He lost his attempt to defeat the will of the voters in Alaska Superior Court.
- He lost his second attempt to defeat the will of Alaska voters in the Alaska Supreme Court.
- He lost his attempt to overturn the election in U.S. District Court.
- He has lost his complaint to the Federal Election Commission.
- He dismissed his lame lawsuit against the Fairbanks North Star Borough, taking just $5,000 of the Borough’s money – a pittance by any measure – to avoid being forced to disclose who was paying his attorneys’ fees for all of these silly lawsuits.
But Miller thinks he should be a U.S. Senator. There’s a reason he’s never won elective office. All but the dimmest voter has looked at this record and studiously voted for someone else. His decision to run again, while perfectly foreseeable, is only the latest example of the kind of bad judgment that characterizes the man.
Joe Miller. Just say no.
The opinions in this post are solely those of WC. This post has not been approved by any candidate. No expenses were incurred in creating this post. No electrons were harmed in creating this post.
Science fiction critic Alexei Panshin wrote that everyone should have a crackpot theory they adhere to, just so they have something interesting to talk about.
But Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly member Lance Roberts has taken Panshin’s suggestion way too far.
Roberts admires and quotes – at length – the writings of Rousas John Rushdoony. He regularly posts quotations from Rushdoony’s foundation, the Chalcedon Foundation.
And the late Rev. Rushdoony – he died in 2001 – was a piece of work, even by WC’s cynical standards. Here’s a sampling of Rushdoony’s views.
Revisions to Criminal Law.
Rushdoony supported the reinstatement of the the Old Testaement law’s penal sanctions. Under such a system, the list of crimes which carried a death sentence would include homosexuality, adultery, incest, lying about one’s virginity, bestiality, witchcraft, idolatry or apostasy, public blasphemy, false prophesying, kidnapping, rape, and bearing false witness in a capital case. Rushdoony told Bill Moyers in 1988, ”The Bible identifies 15 crimes against the family worthy of the death penalty. Abortion is treason against the family and deserves the death penalty. Adultery is treason to the family; adulterers should be put to death. Homosexuality is treason to the family, and it too, is worthy of death.” (R.J. Rushdoony, to Bill Moyers on television. From a PBS Home Video: God and Politics: On Earth as it is in Heaven, 1988.)
Imposition of Theocracy.
Rushdoony wrote, wrote that “the heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state … Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.” He elsewhere said that “Christianity is completely and radically anti-democratic; it is committed to spiritual aristocracy,” and characterized democracy as “the great love of the failures and cowards of life.”
The creation mandate was precisely the requirement that man subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it. There is not one word of Scripture to indicate or imply that this mandate ever was revoked. There is every word of Scripture to declare that this mandate must and shall be fulfilled. Those who attempt to break it shall themselves be broken. (Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, 1973, p.14)
In the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions as though no differences existed.” (The Institutes of Biblical Law page 294.)
in the Chalcedon Report issue 252 (1986) - ”The divorce problem will be solved in a society under God’s law because any spouse guilty of capital crimes (adultery, homosexuality, Sabbath desecration, etc.) would be swiftly executed, thus freeing the other part to remarry…. Parents would be required to bring their incorrigible children before the judge and, if convicted, have them stoned to death.” Note: Rushdoony was himself divorced.
Rushdoony defended southern slavery as an improvement over African-American’s treatment in Africa. And he intended to reimpose slavery here. Rushdoony’s belief that slavery should be re-introduced as an alternative to prison sentences is well known. “Punishment for non-capital crimes generally involves whipping or restitution in the form of indentured servitude or slavery. Prisons would likely be only temporary holding tanks while prisoners were awaiting sentencing.
WC could go on a long time outlining Rushnoody’s plans for a racist, slave-owning, Holocaust-denying theocracy. Rushnoody and his followers are the antithesis of everything that America represents. The Constitution that folks like Assembly member Roberts swore to uphold is utterly opposed to Rushnoody and his ideas.
If all of this religious bigotry seems eerily familiar, try substituting “Ayatollah” for “Rushdoony” and you’ll see more than a passing resemblance. The religions are nearly interchangeable; almost irrelevant. What’s apparent is the willingness to inflict their religious world view on everyone, and kill any who disagree as heretics, blasphemers and idolaters.
WC won’t presume to speak for anyone else, but it’s not what he is looking for in a Borough Assembly member.
The chair the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy is John Shimkus (R, IL). He doesn’t believe in manmade climate change. Rep. Shimkus rejects the human-induced theory of climate change and opposes carbon emissions trading legislation. On March 25, 2009, during a Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing, Shimkus made the following statement regarding the role of carbon dioxide in global warming:
It’s plant food … So if we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere? … So all our good intentions could be for naught. In fact, we could be doing just the opposite of what the people who want to save the world are saying.
Shimkus then quoted the Bible in attempting to allay concerns of global warming induced rise in sea levels. He reports the biblical signs have yet to properly align. “The earth will end only when God declares it to be over,” he said, and then he went on to quote Genesis at some length. He reminded his audience that God had promised mankind through Noah that the earth would never again be destroyed by a flood. Next, he contradicted himself and acknowledged that climate change is real, but questioned the benefit of spending taxpayer money on something that cannot be changed versus the changes that have been occurring forever. Remember, this clown is the Chair of the Subcommittee.
On that same subcommittee is oil-company apologist and 27-year veteran of Congress, Rep. Joe L. Barton (R, TX). It was Rep. Barton who apologized to the head of BP in 2010 after the government dared to insist that the company pay for those whose livelihoods were ruined by the gulf oil spill. Barton also cited the Almighty in questioning the wisdom of generating energy from wind turbines. Careful, he warned, “wind is God’s way of balancing heat.” Wind-generated energy, he said, “would slow the winds down” and thus could make it hotter. “You can’t regulate God!” Rep. Barton told Rep. Nancy Pelosi. This man, too, is on the Sucommittee on the Environment and the Economy.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R, GA) a 20-year veteran of the House, is an evolution denier. Tim Egan reports it’s apparently because he can’t see the indent where his ancestors’ monkey tail used to be. “Where’s the missing link?” he said in 2011. “I just want to know what it is.” Rep. Kingston is the Chairman of Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Rep. Kingston is a former insurance salesman and has a degree in Economics.
WC has already examined the dubious record of Rep. Paul Broun (R, GA). As a refresher, Rep. Broun has said,
All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.
You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.
Rep. Broun serves on the House Science Committee.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R, CA) would be on WC’s shortlist of the boastfully ignorant, if WC could stomach keeping such a list. He is a virulent climate-change denier, with a reckless or willful ignorance of the science. He is the Vice Chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee.
Obviously, WC could go on like this for some time. For now, let’s just say this list is not exhaustive.
What can you say about a political party that appoints to science committees individuals who rely on the Bible for their science, or who can’t be troubled to read science before opening their mouths. If a political party appoints anti-science members to critical, key posts, the posts that determine how much money is appropriated for research, and where it is spent, don’t you have to conclude the Republicans are the Anti-Science Party?
WC’s grandmother used to tell him actions speak louder than words. Yes, they do.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has issued its quadrennial Report Card on America’s Infrastructure. It makes grim reading; overall, the United States gets a grade of D+ on its job of maintaining the infrastructure in the country: the dams, bridges, waterways, electrical grids, schools and other public construction we need to succeed and prosper.
Between now and 2020, ASCE projects we need $3.6 trillion in public funds to make the necessary repairs and replacements. Pre-sequester, we’d budgeted just $2.0 trillion. It’s likely less now.
|Inland Waterways & Marine Ports
|Hazardous & Solid Waste
|Public Parks & Recreation
|Yearly Investment Needed||$454||$253||$201|
You’d think that the collapse of an interstate highway bridge in the middle of Minneapolis-St. Paul would have sounded some kind of alarm. You’d have been wrong.
Of course, the Teabagger-dominated U.S. House is committed to fiscal austerity, no matter the price. They claim the budget deficit must be reduced “for the benefit of our children.” As Paul Krugman and others have pointed out, they used to claim it was to avert a fiscal crisis, but the fiscal crisis, despite all that Neocon earnestness, has stubbornly refused to happen. So the message has changed to “protecting the legacy for our children.”
But there is more than one kind of legacy. One kind involves collapsing bridges, catastrophic dam failures and mouldering school buildings. That legacy involves digging a hole from which the economy may never recover. A path to third world status. The other involves a fiscal deficit.
Can we be perfectly clear about this? The Republican Party is placing shabby, failed politics ahead of the long-term health of the national infrastructure and, in the near term, the long-term health of the economy and the nation. And they want to call it “protecting our children’s legacy.” And yet people still vote for these clowns.
It’s true that WC has been a little more cranky than usual lately. There are reasons. There are lot of reasons. In an effort to exorcise his bad attitude, WC will share just a few of those reasons with his patient readers.
Reason #1 – The Weather
This photo speaks for itself, but what part of “last week of March” does the weatherman not understand?
Reason #2 – Pratchett and Orangutans
In the second novel of his DiscWorld series, The Light Fantastic, Terry Pratchett wrote of a magical accident, in which the Librarian of Unseen University, the great school of magic, was accidentally transformed into an orangutan. It was a one-line gag, but over the course of the next 35 DiscWorld novels, the transformed Librarian became a much-loved, recurring character. In 1995, Pratchett traveled to Borneo, the home of the orangutan species. There was a BBC video and a disheartening essay, “The Orangutans Are Dying.” Ook, indeed.
Pratchett, now Sir Terry Pratchett, is returning to Borneo for a follow up look. Of course, his illness makes this much more of a challenge, and there are far fewer orangutans left than in 1995. So the BBC video this time has the signature Pratchett humor, and at the same time makes you think.
A killer title, from a man dying of Alzeimer’s, WC thinks you will agree. But for WC, it’s also a reminder of both the tragedy of WC’s favorite author’s wrenching decline and the loss of another species on our much-abused planet. A double whammy. Who knows if and when the BBC special will be available in the U.S. WC will endeavor to find out.
Reason #3 – Faith-Based Economics
What Dermot Cole has called the repeal of ACES faith-based efforts to increase the flow of oil in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Those faith-based efforts are about to become law. Dermot is too kind, although he does a nice job of showing just how hard it will be to decide if Captain Zero’s Grand Plan succeeds at anything but giving away buckets and buckets of money. Since no one can agree on what projected throughput in the pipeline will be in 2022, it’s somewhere between difficult to impossible to determine if Parnell’s “solution” will succeed at doing anything but kicking the State of Alaska in the financial groin.
Faith is for church, not economics. Not the financial well-being of a state government. What will we have from the Governor next: a resolution that we all pray for oil?
Worse, there will be two more bad consequences for this breathtakingly stupid financial experiment. First, it gives the Republicans an excuse to pretend Alaska is in desperate financial straits, so that they can axe more programs on the grounds that we can no longer afford them. Pre-school classes, programs to protect women and children, education funding, substance treatment programs; all will stupidly and needlessly be cut. Second, we will have to listen to our legislators brag about how they have saved the State from financial ruin.
The only way you will see the lost tax revenue again is to buy stock in Exxon, Conoco-Phillips or BP. Because the only place the lost tax revenue is going to go is in to shareholder dividends.
All of which, yes, makes WC a little cranky.
It’s impossible to gather into one blog post all the idiocy from all of the Neocons, Teabaggers and nut jobs at CPAC and elsewhere. All WC can do is touch on some of the
highlights lowlights examples:
Think Progress documented 30-year-old Scott Terry of North Carolina, who asked whether Republicans could endorse races remaining separate but equal. The presenter, a K. Carl Smith of the Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by describing a letter from Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master. Mr. Terry responded, “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Mr. Terry’s statement. After the exchange, Mr. Terry muttered, “Why can’t we just have segregation?”
The audience cheered and applauded. WC knew that the Teabaggers wanted to turn back the clock. WC didn’t think they wanted to turn it back to 1850.
The Republican Party recently released a self-analysis undertaken in the wake of The Mitt’s defeat in November. Think Progress called it an “autopsy” but WC thinks that’s premature. The GOP is still kicking. Amongst all the blather, the self-analysis called for the Party “in fact and deed be welcoming and inclusive.” Report, page 8, Recommendation 3. The next day the Republican-controlled Arkansas Legislature adopted a law requiring a photo ID from voters. Doh.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R, KKK) has introduced an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill that would permanently deny even lawful immigrants any federal benefits, including health care benefits. Senator Sessions must have skipped over the “welcoming and inclusive” part, too.
After a careful review of the Republican’s Report, WC cannot find any recommendation that Republicans stop lying. Too bad. Because Rep. Michele “Crazy Eyes” Bachman (R. Minn) was merely lying again and not engaging in outright sabotage of the Republican Big Plan when she claimed Obamacare will soon be “literally killing people.” WC is pretty sure she wasn’t talking about herself and her fellow Neocons, who can’t let go of the three year-old, SCOTUS-endorsed law.
That’s why we’re here because we’re saying let’s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens. Let’s not do that. Let’s love people, let’s care about people. Let’s repeal it now while we can.
As Think Progress notes:
While the main coverage expansion provisions will go into effect in 2014, the ACA has so far saved seniors over $6 billion on prescription drugs, reduced administrative overhead, deterred private insurers from requesting double digit premium increases, kept millions of young people on their parents’ health care plans, and provided 34.1 million people with Medicare preventive services without additional cost-sharing.
Moments after calling for the complete repeal of a law that will extend health care coverage to 30 million Americans, Bachmann claimed that her belief in Christ inspires her to care “for the least of those who are in our midst.”
There is no law requiring politicians to be consistent. Nor is there a law forbidding them from being religious hypocrites. But WC does expect them to make sense, and tell the truth. The voters in the 6th District of Minnesota have some ‘splaining to do.
But from these few examples, WC thinks we can conclude that it is very, very hard for elephants to learn new tricks. They remain stuck in the early Reagan years – well, except for the ones who want to revert to the 1850s. And with the bellicose, uncompromising and anarchic Teabaggers hanging around the fringes of the GOP, and the Christianist core and its treatment of gays as anathema, it’s hard to see how the GOP digs itself out of its current hole.
Which is just fine with WC. These folks are responsible for a substantial portion of the problems facing the country today. Up to and including sequestration. They shouldn’t be trusted with any more power than they have.
But still, this is ugly.