Beck And FreedomWorks Campaign Against Fred Upton: ‘Light Bulbs Are Just The Beginning’

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A war is brewing among the right wing over the chairmanship of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over health care, climate policy, and energy policy. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) is the leading contender, but Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) is seeking a waiver from Republican leadership to retake the gavel, while Reps. John Shimkus (R-IN) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) are also in the hunt. Although the candidates are lockstep in opposition to the Obama agenda and in their intention to launch witch hunts against climate science, Upton is a relative moderate, having admitted in the past that greenhouse emissions should be reduced. In contrast, Barton — who famously apologized to BP this summer — is fully aligned with the oil and gas industry, with $ 1,482,630 in lifetime contributions.

Now this internal fight has exploded into a Tea Party battle royale. FreedomWorks, run by veteran GOP lobbyist Dick Armey, has launched Down With Upton, a website attacking “Big Government Republican Fred Upton” for a record “full of votes for more regulation, more spending, and more taxes.” In an email announcing the campaign, FreedomWorks cited Glenn Beck’s warning that “light bulbs are just the beginning”:

Fred Upton, currently considered the front-runner for chairmanship of the critical House Energy and Commerce committee, is far out of step with the Tea Party movement, the GOP and the American people as a whole. You may have heard Glenn Beck talking about Fred Upton introducing a bill to ban incandescent light bulbs in favor of so-called “environmentally-friendly” alternatives. The truth is, Fred Upton has a Big Government record a mile long, and light bulbs are just the beginning.

Upton has already reneged his position on light-bulb efficiency, telling Politico “he’s not afraid to go back after an issue he once supported but that has come under withering assault on the conservative airwaves, including on Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck’s talk shows.”

There was, in fact, no bill to ban incandescent light bulbs. Because of the advanced light-bulb standards Upton helped pass in 2007, “the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation,” the New York Times reported last year. “There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.”

The Tea Party movement is increasingly attacking American innovation and 21st-century jobs on all fronts: Rush Limbaugh is leading the charge against the breakthrough Chevy Volt, Republican governors are killing high-speed rail, Glenn Beck is cooking up conspiracy theories about smart grid technology, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is trying to kill the wind industry, and the entire right-wing movement is convinced green jobs are going to destroy the United States economy.


Minn. Pol With Gun Outside Abortion Clinic Says He Was Just In Area ‘Checking On’ His Girlfriend

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A security guard at a St. Paul Planned Parenthood clinic called the cops last week after he spotted a Republican state lawmaker with a loaded gun in the parking lot. But the pol says he was only “checking on” his online girlfriend, who he thought may be on a date with another man — a claim police have not been able to corroborate because the man did not have a phone number or address for the woman.

According to the police report, a security guard reported the man, Rep. Tom Hackbarth, after he saw him get out of a pickup truck in the parking lot with a loaded gun in a hip holster. The guard saw him walk into an alley near the clinic.

When police came, they handcuffed him and took his gun, which he has a concealed carry permit for. Hackbarth claimed he didn’t realize he was in the Planned Parenthood parking lot, according to the police report. He said he was in the neighborhood looking for his girlfriend, a woman he said he had met online a few months before and had been on a couple dates with.

Police have not been able to track down the mystery woman. Hackbarth said he didn’t have her phone number or address, as he only communicated with her via an online dating site. He also told police he didn’t remember the name of the site.

Hackbarth later told the Star Tribune that he had had coffee with the woman the day before and asked her out to dinner. She declined, saying she had plans with a female friend in the Highland Park, the neighborhood around the Planned Parenthood clinic.

But he didn’t believe her.

“She gave me some line of baloney, and I thought, ‘well, she’s fibbing to me.’ You could tell, and I thought, ‘well, I’m going to check it out.’ and I went there to see if she was around and her vehicle was not there. And I was just checking on her,” he told the local CBS affiliate.

According to the Tribune, he thought she was with another man and wanted to look around the neighborhood for her car. He didn’t find it.

“I was not a jealous boyfriend,” he said. “I was just trying to check up on her. It’s totally a misunderstanding.”

Police found maps, binoculars and more ammunition in his truck. They did not press charges, and returned Hackbarth’s gun to him a week later.

Hackbarth, a 58-year-old married father of three, said he is going through a divorce with his wife. They’ve been legally separated for more than a year, he said.


What The Hell Just Happened In Korea? Ctd

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Thomas P.M. Barnett collects his thoughts:

Any subsequent show of force that involves the usual suspects (America, South Korea, Japan) simply gives Pyongyang exactly what it wants: more justification for military standoffs. A game-changer would be to invite the Chinese navy to join in our next joint "peace exercise," because nothing would shut up the Kims faster than seeing its economic patron's naval vessels out there.

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Winning Climate Messages Combine Dire Scientific Threat With Solutions For A Just World

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

New psychological research finds that dire messages about the threat of global warming will strengthen people’s acceptance of climate science when combined with solutions, which is the approach taken by leading climate activists. For some people, their response to dire messages is strongly dependent on whether hope is offered. The research, by University of California Berkeley psychologists Robb Willer and Matthew Feinberg, investigated the application of “just world belief” theory to how people interpret the threat of global warming. Unfortunately, the press release announcing the study — to be published next year in Psychological Science — gave a confusing portrayal of the study’s results, leading some prominent climate journalists to draw incorrect conclusions from their research.

Just-world-belief theory, first developed by Melvin Lerner in 1965, studies the concept that “people need to believe in a just world” — i.e. “good things happen to good people” — “thus, evidence that the world is not just is threatening, and people have a number of strategies for reducing such threats.” Experimental research has found since then that there are systematic ways of identifying the level of someone’s belief in a just world (or at least that is how the results of a standard questionnaire are interpreted), and those results are strongly correlated with their response to various situations that involve injustice and justice — from how victims are perceived to how people cope with traumatic events.

Willer and Feinberg have hypothesized that belief in a just world influences people’s understanding of climate change, in part because the concept of a planet tilting toward devastation due to human action could come into conflict with the perception of an inherently stable, just world. Their paper explores two different experiments involving just world belief that can also be understood as straightforward focus-group message testing — which is how the research was presented in their press release, and how most climate journalists reported on the work.

The messages tested in their first experiment began with an accurate portrayal of the dire nature of the science: “many devastating consequences,” “a major heat wave that killed at least 35,000 people,” “much of Florida, California, Texas, and Hawaii” could disappear under rising seas. They then concluded with one of two alternative endings, with opinions from fictitious scientists — a hopeless, fatalistic conclusion (“Science Can’t Help”), and a hopeful, empowering one (“How To Fight Global Warming”). They tested how these messages affected participants’ degree of skepticism about the threat of climate change.

Skepticism among participants who had a low belief in a just world declined similarly for both conclusions — they responded to the dire scientific threat alone. However, participants who had a high belief in a just world responded very differently depending on the conclusion. Given a hopeful conclusion, skepticism plummeted among those with a high belief in a just world. Given the hopeless conclusion, skepticism shot up by a similar amount:


In the second experiment in the paper, the researchers primed participants toward thinking about the world as either just or injust, then exposed them to two public service announcements from EDF in 2007 that make a strong emotional appeal, one with a train accelerating toward a child and the other with children “ticking”. They were able to mirror the results of the first study, finding that priming on “justice” made respondents reject the message of the PSAs.

In short, the researchers found that the approach taken by leading climate messengers such as Al Gore (“An Inconvenient Truth”), Van Jones (“The Green Collar Economy”), and Bill McKibben ( of combining scientific urgency with solution-oriented hopefulness should be successful, and particularly powerful with people who believe strongly in an inherently just world. That audience includes a significant proportion of conservatives and religiously observant people. Another example of the dire-plus-hope message is Harmony, the new book and film from the Prince of Wales and Tck Tck Tck:

However, the conclusions of the research have been somewhat misleadingly presented. In particular, the researchers repeatedly call the hopeless conclusion “dire,” implying that the text about the effects of global warming was not dire (it was). But “dire” simply means desperately urgent or implying horror — not fatalistic, apocalyptic, or hopeless. The scientific text they gave all participants in their first experiment was in fact extremely dire, discussing the devastation from wildfires, drought, sea level rise, hurricanes, and heat waves.

In part because of the misleading presentation in the paper and the press release, journalists like the Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin, New York Times’ Andy Revkin (who rejects the science that significant climate impacts are already being felt in the United States), Time Magazine’s Bryan Walsh, Greener World Media’s Adam Aston, Discovery News’s Kieran Mulvaney, and social scientist Matthew Nisbet misinterpreted the results.

Wonk Room

What The Hell Just Happened In Korea?

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The BBC:

The South's military was placed on its highest non-wartime alert after the shells landed on Yeonpyeong island. Pyongyang accused the South of firing first. The Southern military said it had conducted exercises but shelling was directed away from the North.

This is one of the worst clashes since the Korean War ended, analysts say. 

The Wall Street Journal:

The larger difficulty with North Korea is that nothing seems to work, neither carrot nor stick. Over the course of the last decade or so the West has intermittently tried engagement with that strangest of states. But it seems to have produced no returns in terms of moderating the regime’s nuclear ambitions.

Robert Gibbs:

Earlier today North Korea conducted an artillery attack against the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. We are in close and continuing contact with our Korean allies. The United States strongly condemns this attack and calls on North Korea to halt its belligerent action and to fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement. The United States is firmly committed to the defense of our ally, the Republic of Korea, and to the maintenance of regional peace and stability.

Daniel Korski:

The South Korean military was conducting drills near Yeonpyeong island when the North opened fire. But that does not explain today's flare-up. More likely, the North Koreans are trying to set favourable ground for any talks that may begin (so they can extract concessions), while telling external and internal audiences that despite Kim Jong Ill having unveiled his youngest son Kim Jong Un as his heir apparent, succession will not weaken the North.

The West has relatively few levers to change North Korea's behaviour – except to swear to protect South Korea (and Japan) in case of a full-scale war; or offer North Korea assistance. Neither are attractive options. 

Global Voices is translating South Korean tweets. Doug Mataconis's prescription:

Ultimately, solving the North Korea problem is going to happen when the Chinese finally decide that they are through with propping up an erratic regime that seems to be trying to turn itself into the modern world’s first hereditary dictatorship. When that happens, I think we’ll find things will change dramatically, and quickly, on the Korean peninsula.

(Image: This picture taken on November 23, 2010 by a South Korean tourist shows huge plumes of smoke rising from Yeonpyeong island in the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea on November 23, 2010. North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island on November 23, 2010, killing two people, setting homes ablaze and triggering an exchange of fire as the South's military went on top alert. By STR/AFP/Getty Images)


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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Did Just 170,000 Passengers Get Groped by Strangers Last Week? Or a Million?

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

You know how I mocked the White House for dismissing the problem of gate rape by saying only 170,000 passengers had had their genitalia groped by a stranger working for the government?

I noted that their pushback was potentially inconsistent. According to “administration officials,” just half of one percent of all passengers-or about 170,000-get their junk touched.

For instance, the administration noted that fewer than one half of one percent of the 34 million passengers who traveled on airplanes in or to the U.S. last week were subjected to crotch-area pat-downs.

But that same article quoted the DHS spokesperson saying that one out of a hundred would get groped.

In airports where body screening technology is available, about one in every 100 passengers are given pat-downs, according to another official, Sean Smith, the DHS spokesperson.

Meanwhile, other sources say closer to 3% of passengers get groped.

A Department of Homeland Security official writes that less than 3% of travelers get the controversial aggressive patdowns.

According to one Atlanta Journal Constitution report this week, there are some 24 million people expected to fly in American airports over Thanksgiving week. So 3% of 24 million is 720,000 aggressive patdowns in the U.S. this week, if my math is holding up.

Note, several things may be going on here. First, there’s the question of how many people are flying. The White House says 34 million passengers have passed through security; Rozen is using AJC’s number of 24 million. And there are several ways a person might get groped: if they opt-out of the RapeAScan machine, but also if they set off either the RapeAScan machine or a conventional metal detector. So the lower half percent may be just one of those subsets of the entire group that has been groped. Also, it may be that the numbers of gropes have increased (or decreased) as the procedure has been introduced across the country.

Frankly, I think expecting 170,000 people a week to have their genitalia groped each week by government workers to be unreasonable. But the numbers may be far, far higher.

Related posts:

  1. White House: Only 170,000 People Have Had Genitalia Groped by Complete Stranger in Last Week
  2. With 50 Million Food Insecure and 59 Million Uninsured, No Wonder Dems Lost
  3. House Committee on Homeland Security Expressed Concerns about “Gate Rape” on September 22


Let’s Just Get It Overwith

November 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Societies and civilizations are born, mature and die – this is what history teaches us.  Our society is in old age and death/collapse is near.   As I pointed out here Howard Kunstler has made a career of predicting the end of civilazation as we know it.  But he’s not alone.  There was a time when Kunstler was mocked – but no more – he has plenty of company these days and The Energy Bulletin has some examples.

First, how does the United States today compare to the old Soviet Union?

  • Extreme dependence on the price of oil. The Soviet’s over reliance on oil was as a source of income (which collapsed in the early 80’s due to a confluence of factors, hence the bankruptcy). The US depends on it due our profligacy in its use. As oil availability dries up (export land model, peak oil production, etc.) the US will suffer disproportionately.
  • Extreme levels of spending on national security. The paranoia that led the Soviets to overspend on national security was legendary. The same is true with the US. The US now spends more than the rest of the world combined on national security. In a hyper competitive global economy it isn’t absolute or historical levels of spending that matter – it’s relative spending levels.
  • A runaway foreign trade deficit and ballooning debt.
  • Extreme levels of corruption and a gross misallocation of economic resources. The Soviets had insular bureaucrats and the US has bankers and financiers.
  • A ballooning welfare state that it can’t support (in the US’s case, it’s mostly ballooning health care costs — the US’s crony capitalist health care system costs 2-4x per unit of health care as compared to the rest of the developed world, while delivering health stats only rivaled by the developing world).

The old Soviet Union was no longer a Marxist state when it failed. it was an oligarchy.

Oh Karl the world isn’t fair
It isn’t and never will be
They tried out your plan
It brought misery instead
If you’d seen how they worked it
you’d be glad you were dead
just like I’m glad I’m living in the land of the
where the rich just get richer
and the poor you don’t ever have to see
It would depress us, Karl
Because we care
that the world still isn’t fair

~Randy Newman

The United States is no longer a capitalist country but an oligarchy.  But it’s not just the United States it;s the world.  The oligarchs represented by the World Trade Origination and the International Monetary Fund control the economy of the world. 

But a society/economy controlled by sociopathic oligarchs is not sustainable.  They are interested in what will enrich them today not will happen tomorrow – they are sociopaths.  The result will be the collapse  of society as we know it.  Some specifics can be found in Peak Energy, Climate Change, and the Collapse of Global Civilization: The Current Peak Oil Crisis:

This report considers energy resources, climate change, ecological balance, and the Earth’s capacity to supply food and water to support human life from the perspective of governance and human security

Some key messages from the report include:

  • Peak oil is happening now.
  • The era of cheap and abundant oil is over.
  • Global conventional oil production likely peaked around 2005 – 2008 or will peak by 2011.
  • Global oil reserve discoveries peaked in the 1960’s.
  • New oil discoveries have been declining since then, and the new discoveries have been smaller and in harder to access areas (e.g., smaller deepwater reserves).
  • Huge investments are required to explore for and develop more reserves, mainly to offset decline at existing fields.
  • An additional 64 mbpd of gross capacity – the equivalent of six times that of Saudi Arabia today – needs to be brought on stream between 2007 – 2030 to supply projected business as usual demand.
  • Since mid-2004, the global oil production plateau has remained within a 4% fluctuation band, which indicates that new production has only been able to offset the decline in existing production.
  • The global oil production rate will likely decline by 4 – 10.5% or more per year.
  • Substantial shortfalls in the global oil supply will likely occur sometime between 2010 – 2015.
  • Furthermore, the peak global production of coal, natural gas, and uranium resources may occur by 2020 – 2030, if not sooner.
  • Global peak coal production will likely occur between 2011 – 2025.
  • Global natural gas production will likely peak sometime between 2019 – 2030.
  • Global peak uranium will likely occur by 2015 to sometime in the 2020’s.
  • Oil shortages will lead to a collapse of the global economy, and the decline of globalized industrial civilization.
  • Systemic collapse will evolve as a systemic crisis as the integrated infrastructure and economy of our global civilization breaks down.
  • Most governments and societies – especially those that are developed and industrialized – will be unable to manage multiple simultaneous systemic crises. Consequently, systemic collapse will likely result in widespread confusion, fear, human security risks, and social break down.
  • This current transition of rapid economic decline was triggered by the oil price shock starting in 2007 and culminating in the summer of 2008. This transition will likely accelerate and become more volatile once oil prices exceed $ 80 – $ 90 per barrel for an extended time. Demand destruction for oil may be somewhere above $ 80 per barrel and below $ 141 per barrel.
  • Economic recovery (i.e., business as usual) will likely exacerbate the global recession by driving up oil prices.
  • A managed “de-growth” is impossible, because effective mitigation of peak oil will be dependent on the implementation of mega-projects and mega-changes at the maximum possible rate with at least 20 years lead time and trillions of dollars in investments.
  • Peak oil and the events associated with it will be an unprecedented discontinuity in human and geologic history.
  • Adaptation is the only strategy in response to peak oil.
  • Mitigation and adaptation are the only strategies for climate change.
  • Peak oil crises will soon confront societies with the opportunity to recreate themselves based on their respective needs, culture, resources, and governance responses.
  • The impacts of peak oil and post-peak decline will not be the same equally for everyone everywhere at any given time.
  • There are probably no solutions that do not involve at the very least some major changes in lifestyles.
  • The localization of economies will likely occur on a massive scale, particularly the localization of the production of food, goods, and services.
  • Existential crises will soon confront societies with the opportunity to recreate themselves based on their respective needs, culture, resources, and governance responses.
  • If the international community does not make a transcendent effort to cooperate to manage the transition to a non-oil based economy, it may risk a volatile, chaotic, and dangerous collapse of the global economy and world population.
  • Since the advent of the Green Revolution, the global human population has increased from 2.5 billion in 1950 to nearly 7 billion today.
  • Global demand for natural resources exceeded planet’s capacity to provide sustainably for the combined demands of the global population between 1970 – 1980.
  • The global population is projected to grow to around 9.2 billion by 2050.
  • Current trends in land, soil, water, and biodiversity loss and degradation, combined with potential climate change impacts, ocean acidification, a mass extinction event, and energy scarcity will significantly limit the human carrying capacity of the Earth.
  • Based on these estimates, the global population may have nearly reached or already exceeded the planet’s human carrying capacity in terms of food production.

Joseph Tainter thought that complexity was what was responsible for the collapse of civilizatiazations. sociieties.  Perhaps it is the power of sociopathic oligarchs.

The collapse is near so let’s just get it over with and pick up the pieces.  A post collapse society will be less centalized – a smaller federal government – in fact no federal government.  Something that makes this Libertarian Liberal happy.

The Moderate Voice

Gore: On second thought, I was just pandering to the farm vote on ethanol

November 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


Too often, Americans punish politicians for reversing their previous and sometimes obviously wrong positions on policy.  They label such politicians as flip-floppers, and even when these officeholders switch to their preferred policy, some continue to castigate them and warn of their unreliability.   But sometimes, well, those reversals can seem just a little too convenient — […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

Just In Time For The Holidays – A TSA Commercial Via SNL

November 21, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Via Saturday Night Live. Heh!

For the latest, real live TSA horror story, you can read here about how a brutal TSA scan left a bladder cancer survivor humiliated and soaked in his own urine.

Also interesting is that there may be some evidence of a TSA ‘work slowdown’ over the criticism, based on the huge lines that are occurring. In themselves, the lines are a dangerous security risk, for reasons that should be obvious.

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Just Say No to START Treaty

November 20, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

While we focus our scrutiny on President Obama's domestic agenda nightmare, we'd best not take our eyes off another big ball: Obama's frantic effort to get the New START ratified during the Senate's lame-duck session.

As usual, Obama is engaged in a full-court press, pretending that there is some urgency to formalizing this ill-conceived nuclear arms treaty with Russia, when the sole urgency is the upcoming change in the Senate's partisan composition.

To his credit, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl announced his opposition to a vote on the treaty this year, which sent Obama into overdrive. He dispatched Defense Secretary Robert Gates to buy off Kyl's opposition with an illusory promise to spend an extra $ 4 billion on nuclear programs.

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