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Archive for March 15th, 2011

Stockman: Why Deficits Matter

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2011 4:48 am by HL

Stockman: Why Deficits Matter
David Stockman: The Triumph of Crony Capitalism occurred on October 3rd 2008. The event was the enactment of TARP — the single greatest economic policy abomination since the 1930s or perhaps ever. Like most other quantum leaps in statist intervention, the Wall Street bailout was justified as a last resort exercise in breaking the rules to save the system. In the immortal words of George W. Bush, our most economically befuddled President since FDR, “I’ve abandoned free market principles in order to save the free market system.”



“C Street” near Lake Mendota

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

“C Street” near Lake Mendota
Sure they’re terrible, but the Republicans remain entertaining.

It is good to know that even as they act against the interests of the public, whether in Washington or locally, Republicans are still good for comic-relief.

Take Tea-Party favorite Wisconsin State Senator Randy Hopper, shown here hanging out with the usual right-wingers at a rally lightly attended  but heavily covered. He’s a real loyal ally of Scott Walker and truly fits the modern mold of the Republican Party.

Protesters who marched at the home of Wisconsin state senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) were met with something of a surprise on Saturday. Mrs. Hopper appeared at the door and informed them that Sen. Hopper was no longer in residence at this address, but now lives in Madison, WI with his 25-year-old mistress.

The mistress, naturally is currently employed as a lobbyist for right-wing advocacy group.

But there is good news to go with the hilarious news.

When asked if they would vote for Hopper or someone else if a recall election were held right now, 54 percent said they’d vote for someone else, versus only 43 percent they’d vote for Hopper.

Now leading the recall…Mrs. Randy Hopper.


Late, Late Night FDL: Maybe
Sick Puppies – Maybe 00

Sick Puppies – Maybe

Those are some sick pups from Oz…! 😉

What’s on your mind tonite…?


Awake

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Awake

By Mike Luckovich

Related Entries



Nathan Newman: The Case for Antitrust Action Against Google

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Nathan Newman: The Case for Antitrust Action Against Google
Why not force Google to act more competitively? Antitrust restrictions will likely make Google products better and allow new competing products a better chance to reach consumers — plain and simple.

State Lawmaker: Hunters In Helicopters Could Control Illegal Immigration
TOPEKA â?? A legislator said Monday it might be a good idea to control illegal immigration the way the feral hog population has been controlled…

Haley Barbour Press Secretary Resigns After Japan E-Mail Joke
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s press secretary has resigned after “dark humor” remarks he made about Japan and Janet Reno in a daily e-mailed news digest…

NRA To Obama: Guns Aren’t The Problem, It’s Law Enforcement, Media & Mental Health System
The heads of the National Rifle Association wrote to President Obama Monday, taking issue with his op-ed in the Sunday Arizona Daily Star, in which…


Right-Wing Media Push For Removal Of “Obstacles” To Nuclear Power In Wake Of Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Right-Wing Media Push For Removal Of “Obstacles” To Nuclear Power In Wake Of Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

In the wake of the crisis at Japanese nuclear reactors, the conservative media have pushed for the removal of “obstacles” to nuclear power and a faster nuclear permit process for nuclear plants. Nuclear energy experts, meanwhile, agree that Japan’s nuclear crisis is cause to reevaluate whether nuclear regulations contain sufficient protections for public safety.

Conservative Media Advocate For Removal Of “Obstacles” To Nuclear Power

WSJ Laments That “Nuclear Plants Have Had Their Costs Increased By Artificial Political Obstacles And Delay.” In a March 14 editorial titled, “Nuclear Overreactions,” The Wall Street Journal wrote:

We have no special brief for nuclear power over any other energy source. Our view is that it should compete with other sources on a market basis, without subsidies or government loan guarantees. Every energy source has risks and economic externalities, whether they are noise and bird kills (wind), huge land requirements (solar), rig explosions and tanker spills (oil), or mining accidents (coal).

But more than other energy sources, nuclear plants have had their costs increased by artificial political obstacles and delay. The U.S. hasn’t built a new nuclear plant since 1979, after the Three Mile Island meltdown, even as older nuclear plants continue to provide 20% of the nation’s electricity.

[…]

Our larger point is less about nuclear power than how we react as a society to inevitable disasters, both natural and man-made. Because a plane crashes, we don’t stop flying. Because an oil rig explodes in the Gulf, we don’t (or at least we shouldn’t) stop drilling for oil. And because the Challenger space shuttle blew up, we didn’t stop shuttle flights–though we do seem to have lost much of our national will for further manned space exploration. We should learn from the Japanese nuclear crisis, not let it feed a political panic over nuclear power in general.

***

The paradox of material and technological progress is that we seem to become more risk-averse the safer it makes us. The more comfortable we become, the less eager we are to take the risks that are the only route to future progress. The irony is that one reason Japan has survived this catastrophic event as well as it has is its great material development and wealth.

Modern civilization is in the daily business of measuring and mitigating risk, but its advance requires that we continue to take risk. It would compound Japan’s tragedy if the lesson America learns is that we should pursue the illusory and counterproductive goal of eliminating all risk. [The Wall Street Journal, 3/14/11]

Bolling: “We Should Permit Nuclear Reactors A Lot Quicker.” On the March 11 edition of Fox Business’ Follow the Money, host Eric Bolling pushed for granting more nuclear power plant permits and decried regulations for obtaining such permits, stating: “Shouldn’t Obama step up and say, ‘You know what, let’s permit’? We should permit offshore drilling, and we should also permit nuclear reactors a lot quicker.” Bolling further stated: “Here’s the problem. No one can get the permit to build the reactor. They have to jump through literally thousands of hoops.” [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 3/11/11]

Fox Nation: “Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste: The Left Goes After Nuclear Energy.” On March 14, Fox Nation posted the headline, “Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste: The Left Goes After Nuclear Energy,” and linked to a New York Times article about the Japan nuclear crisis’ potential effects on nuclear power in the United States. From the New York Times article:

Nuclear power, which still suffers from huge economic uncertainties and local concerns about safety, had been growing in acceptance as what appeared to many to be a relatively benign, proven and (if safe and permanent storage for wastes could be arranged) nonpolluting source of energy for the United States’ future growth.

But even staunch supporters of nuclear power are now advocating a pause in licensing and building new reactors in the United States to make sure that proper safety and evacuation measures are in place. Environmental groups are reassessing their willingness to see nuclear power as a linchpin of any future climate change legislation. Mr. Obama still sees nuclear power as a major element of future American energy policy, but he is injecting a new tone of caution into his endorsement.

“The president believes that meeting our energy needs means relying on a diverse set of energy sources that includes renewables like wind and solar, natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power,” said Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman. “Information is still coming in about the events unfolding in Japan, but the administration is committed to learning from them and ensuring that nuclear energy is produced safely and responsibly here in the U.S.”

[…]

That policy will be on the table at a hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, when Steven Chu, the energy secretary, and Gregory B. Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, are scheduled to testify.

“We will use that opportunity to explore what is known in the early aftermath of the damage to Japanese nuclear facilities,” said Representative Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan, the committee chairman, “as well as to reiterate our unwavering commitment to the safety of U.S. nuclear sites.”

Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and a skeptic of nuclear power who nonetheless supported expansion of nuclear power as part of the House energy and climate legislation he co-sponsored, said the United States needed tougher standards for siting and operating nuclear plants. [New York Times, 3/13/11]

From the Fox Nation:

nuclear 

[Fox Nation, 3/14/11]

Nuclear Energy Experts: Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Cause To Reevaluate, And Possibly Revamp, Regulations

Princeton Nuclear Physicist: Accident At Japan’s Fukushima Reactor “Suggests Once More … That Rejected Suggestions Like The Filtered Vent System Should Be Considered Again.” Discussing Japan’s nuclear crisis in the New York Times’ Room for Debate blog, Frank N. von Hippel, a nuclear physicist and professor of public and international affairs at Princeton, wrote:

In 1982, a colleague and I pointed out that not all U.S. reactor containments would have survived the T.M.I. accident, and we suggested that all U.S. reactors be retrofitted with a robust filter system made of sand and charcoal that could filter the gases that would have to be released if a containment was approaching its failure pressure. The nuclear utilities resisted, however, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as usual, did not press for change.

The Fukushima accident suggests once more that the “defense in depth” design of current nuclear reactors may not be deep enough and that previously rejected suggestions like the filtered vent system should be considered again. [New York Times, 3/13/11]

Theoretical Physicist Says It’s Necessary To “Rethink” “Probability Analysis,” “Design Specifications For Reactor Components,” And Our Emphasis On “Redundancy.” In a post on the New York Times‘ Room for Debate blog, author and theoretical physicist Michio Kaku wrote:

The Fukushima nuclear accident, second only to the Chernobyl accident in its severity, has many lessons for the U.S.

First, Japanese reactors are among the safest in the world. But even the Japanese sometime ignore the “once in a century event” because it won’t happen in their lifetime. We saw that with Katrina. Once in a hundred year events do in fact happen, with tragic results. So we have to rethink probability analysis for nuclear power plants in the U.S. as well.

Second,the GE Mark I boiling water design found at Fukushima has been criticized for the weakness of the containment building. We saw how easy it was for a hydrogen/steam explosion to blow the containment structure to bits. So environmental impact statements for nuclear plants should rethink the design specifications for reactor components.

Third, nuclear plant operators are proud of the redundancy of their multiply layered safety back-up systems. But we saw how ridiculously easy it was for an earthquake and tsunami to knock them all out. This, too, has to be reanalyzed. [New York Times, 3/13/11]

MIT Professor Of Nuclear Science And Engineering: “Strong Regulation Can Enhance Public Safety”; “Regulations Can Be Made More Coherent And Efficient If There Were Greater Use Of Risk Information And Risk Assessment Methods.” In a post on the New York Times‘ Room for Debate blog, Michael W. Golay, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), wrote:

We do know that strong regulation can enhance public safety. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considered an international leader in regulatory innovation and implementation. Even so, regulations can be made more coherent and efficient if there were greater use of risk information and risk assessment methods. The N.R.C. has been making progress in this area, but less effectively than potential benefits would justify. This may be particularly important if the seismic risks to nuclear power now come to be reassessed. [New York Times, 3/13/11]

Director Of Nuclear Safety Project Of Union Of Concerned Scientists: Japan’s Nuclear Crisis “Just The Most Recent Reminder Of The Need To Revisit Emergency Plans To Ensure That People Get The Help They Need.” Discussing Japan’s nuclear crisis in the New York Times‘ Room for Debate blog, David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer and director of the Nuclear Safety Project of the Union of Concerned Scientists, stated:

The nuclear disaster in Japan is still unfolding, so it is not yet possible to fully assess it or its impact on American nuclear power policy. But we do expect the U.S. government to react the way it did following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster by evaluating what happened and identifying the necessary steps to better manage risks here at home.

The issues the government should address include whether reactors should be better protected against power outages and against earthquakes, whether fire protection deficiencies should continue to languish uncorrected, and whether emergency response plans should be broadened to better handle regional disasters.

[…]

We know that earthquakes can cause fires at nuclear reactors, and U.S. reactor safety studies conclude that fire can be a dominant risk for reactor core damage by disabling primary and back-up emergency systems. Yet dozens of nuclear reactors in the U.S. have operated for years in violation of federal fire protection regulations with no plans to address these safety risks anytime soon.

Finally, there is the issue of protecting nearby communities. The breadth of the disaster in Japan overwhelmed emergency response capabilities. Reactor emergency plans in the U.S. rely on the assumption that a reactor accident would be the only demand on emergency response resources. The accident in Japan is the just the most recent reminder of the need to revisit emergency plans to ensure that people get the help they need even when disasters overlap. [New York Times, 3/13/11]


Two Months After Tucson, Obama Calls For Conversation On Gun Safety

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Two Months After Tucson, Obama Calls For Conversation On Gun Safety
President Barack Obama has weighed into the gun-control debate two months after the mass shooting in Arizona.

Ex-Bush Official Scott Bloch Likely Headed To Prison As Judge Rejects Motion To Withdraw Guilty Plea
A federal judge this week rejected former Bush administration official Scott Bloch’s request to withdraw his guilty plea because he wasn’t expecting to get jail time when he initially agreed to a plea deal.

Court Docs Say AK Militia Members Plotted To Use ‘Twice The Force’ Against Law Enforcement
Five suspected Alaska militia members arrested last week were arraigned in court on Friday, and the criminal complaints in the case reveal how they allegedly stockpiled weapons while plotting to keep their leader, Schaeffer Cox, from being arrested after skipping his court date.



Largest political rally in Madison’s history yesterday

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Largest political rally in Madison’s history yesterday
Author’s note: As horrible and newsworthy as the events in Japan are, I hope that does distract people from what has been accomplished in Madison, Wisconsin yesterday. Be sure to check out the slideshow at the link below. Excerpt: Madison, Wisconsin, a city legendary for its political activism, has raised the bar again yesterday with what may have […]


Barbour Aide Resigns Over Off-Color Emails

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Barbour Aide Resigns Over Off-Color Emails
Ben Smith reports that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s (R) press secretary Dan Turner has resigned after the discovery that Turner included inappropriate jokes about former Attorney General Janet Reno’s gender and the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.

“Turner told me this morning that Barbour receives printed versions of the clips, not the email, and took full responsibility for the comments. But they prompted questions today about Barbour’s readiness for the national stage, and the resignation of the veteran aide came quickly.”

Confidence in Government Falls to New Low
Only 26% of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’re optimistic about “our system of government and how well it works,” the fewest recorded since 1974. Almost as many, 23% are pessimistic, the closest these measures ever have come. The rest, a record high, are “uncertain” about the system.


Why the Democrats Should Never Have Started Paying Ransom to Avoid a Shutdown

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Why the Democrats Should Never Have Started Paying Ransom to Avoid a Shutdown
It’s called ransom. That’s what Republicans are demanding from the White House and congressional Democrats for not pulling the plug on the government….

Why The Street’s Euphoric Birthday Has Almost Nothing to Do with a Buoyant Economy
What a difference two years makes. On March 9, 2009 the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit the bottom — closing at a 12-year low of 6,547. Today the Dow is soaring well over 12,000. From its peak in October, 2007…


Chamber Of Commerce?s Top SCOTUS Litigator Admits Justices Give Special Treatment to Chamber

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Chamber Of Commerce?s Top SCOTUS Litigator Admits Justices Give Special Treatment to Chamber

A recent study co-authored by conservative Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner confirms something that has been obvious to Supreme Court watchers for years — the Roberts Court places a huge thumb on the scale in favor of corporate interests. According to the study, the Roberts Court rules in favor of business interests 61 percent of the time, a 15 point spike from the five years before when Chief Justice Roberts joined the Court.

While the Chamber of Commerce has recently tried to downplay the favorable treatment it receives from the Supreme Court, its own top lawyer admitted a few years after Roberts joined the Court that the justices give his client special treatment:

Carter G. Phillips, who often represents the chamber and has argued more Supreme Court cases than any active lawyer in private practice, reflected on its influence. “I know from personal experience that the chamber’s support carries significant weight with the justices,” he wrote. “Except for the solicitor general representing the United States, no single entity has more influence on what cases the Supreme Court decides and how it decides them than the National Chamber Litigation Center.”

Phillips’ confession, and the Posner study’s conclusion, corroborates other data showing the Roberts Court’s favoritism towards corporate interests. A recent study by the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center determined that every single justice is more likely to side with the Chamber than the justice who held their seat 25 years ago (the study did not include the Court’s two newest members because of an insufficiently large data sample):

Welcome to John Roberts’ America, where the wealthy and the well-connected receive the best justice money can buy.

After Leaving Senate Because Of ?Too Much Partisanship,? Former Sen. Evan Bayh Takes Job At Fox News

When former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) surprised Washington one year ago and announced his decision not to seek re-election, he blamed “too much partisanship and not enough progress — too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving.” Bayh said that “what we need to do is come together as a people and solve the problems facing our country.”

Today, the Huffington Post reports that Bayh has taken a job at Fox News Channel:

Fox News is expected to announce Monday afternoon that former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh will become a contributor to the network, The Huffington Post has learned.

Bayh will be a commentator and political analyst across all of Fox News’ platforms.

Bayh joins a network that, in just the past week, compared Muslims to mafia members, characterized unions as one giant “kickback system” and union members as “violent,” “rabid leftists,” “howling liberals,” and which has been actively encouraging a government shutdown.

In an interview last year, Bayh said he wasn’t sure what he would do once he left the Senate. “If I could help educate our children at an institution of higher learning, that would be a noble and worthy thing. If I could help a charity or a philanthropic activity, cure a disease, or do something else worthwhile for society, that’s what has motivated my life.” He also said he wanted to help create jobs.

Bayh has indeed succeeded in creating jobs, for himself. In addition to his Fox News position, Bayh accepted a job at Apollo Global Management, a multi-billion dollar private equity firm, and also McGuireWoods LLP, a D.C. lobbying firm that engages on banking and climate change legislation, on behalf of “well-heeled” clients.