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Member since: Fri May 8, 2009, 12:59 AM
Number of posts: 7,048

Journal Archives

Koch brothers and big utilities campaign to unplug solar power

If you ever wonder what is the end game for the Koch brothers and why they and other right wing billionaires are investing millions to turn the Senate red, it all comes down to the bottom line:


The Koch brothers have a new ploy to protect the traditional energy business that helped make them the planet’s fifth- and sixth-richest humans. They are funding a campaign to shackle solar energy consumers who have escaped the grip of big electric utilities.

Of all the pro-business, anti-government causes they have funded with their billions, this may be the most cynical and self-serving. On Sunday, a Los Angeles Times story by Evan Halper outlined the Koch’s latest scheme. Along with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, several major power companies and a national association representing conservative state legislators, the brothers are aiming to kill preferences for the burgeoning solar power industry that have been put into law in dozens of states. Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona are their first targets, with more to come.

They already have their first victory. On Monday, Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature that authorizes electric utilities to tack a surcharge on the bills of private citizens who have installed solar panels or wind turbines on their homes. That’s right, Oklahomans who have spent money to generate their own clean and green power now must pay compensation to the power companies.

This sounds a bit like government trampling on the independence of the citizenry. You’d think the tea party would be protesting and militia groups would be riding in with guns drawn. But since it is Republicans and big business doing the trampling, there is, as yet, no outcry from the libertarian crowd.

Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Democrats to Hold Senate

Source: NY Times

WASHINGTON — The confidential memo from a former pollster for President Obama contained a blunt warning for Democrats. Written this month with an eye toward Election Day, it predicted “crushing Democratic losses across the country” if the party did not do more to get black voters to the polls.

“African-American surge voters came out in force in 2008 and 2012, but they are not well positioned to do so again in 2014,” Cornell Belcher, the pollster, wrote in the memo, dated Oct. 1. “In fact, over half aren’t even sure when the midterm elections are taking place.”

Mr. Belcher’s assessment points to an urgent imperative for Democrats: To keep Republicans from taking control of the Senate, as many are predicting, they need black voters in at least four key states. Yet the one politician guaranteed to generate enthusiasm among African Americans is the same man many Democratic candidates want to avoid: Mr. Obama.

Now, Democrats are deploying other prominent black elected officials and other surrogates, buttressed by sophisticated voter targeting efforts, to stoke black turnout. At the White House, the president is waging an under-the-radar campaign, recording video advertisements, radio interviews and telephone calls specifically targeting his loyal African-American base.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/19/us/in-black-vote-democrats-see-lifeline-for-midterms.html?hpw&rref=politics&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpHedThumbWell&module=well-region®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well

Minorities and young voters just don't turn out during mid-term elections. This is why many Democrats have often tilted right during the mid-terms to cater to those folks who actually vote, the elderly and white males, which just further alienates minorities and young voters. Of course, this time around, Republicans have doubled down on voter suppression efforts, which should be reason enough to turn out and fight these efforts to disenfranchise the people.

Still, its a chicken and egg, sort of question. My take is that until we can manage to increase turnout, politicians will not be responsive to liberal priorities during mid-term elections. In other words, politicians spout rhetoric in order to appeal to those people who they think will turn out. More minorities are turning out during Presidential elections, which is why even Republicans are trying to pay lip service to immigration reform. However, the mid-terms still remain a huge demographic challenge.

Sen. Warren: ‘The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it’

Source: Washington Post

NORTHFIELD, Minn. — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) brought her populist message Saturday to this small college town to rev up the final weeks of Sen. Al Franken's reelection campaign, but also to claim the mantle of the modern liberal movement's political godfather.

Speaking before more than 400 people at Carleton College, Warren repeatedly invoked the spirit of the late Paul Wellstone, the fiery liberal senator who died 12 years ago this month in a plane crash during his reelection campaign. Wellstone remains a revered figure in Minnesota politics, and his brand of populism -- out of step in the Clintonian Democratic Party of the 1990s -- is now mainstream among leading liberal activists. Warren has become the most prominent public face of that movement, and the Wellstone disciples in this town 40 miles south of Minneapolis gave their approval Saturday.

"The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it," Warren said to loud cheers.

It's part of a three-state tour of Senate campaigns for Warren, who later Saturday headed to St. Paul for a get-out-the-vote rally on behalf of Franken, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and other candidates. Franken and Dayton are strong favorites to win reelection next month.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/10/18/warren-in-minnesota-the-game-is-rigged/

Edit to note that the Washington Post now has renamed the article to "The game is rigged," but taking out Warren's quote, which says, "and the Republicans rigged it."

CDC's Legal Authority - We Don't Have A National Healthcare System

One thing that is rarely discussed is the federal government's actual legal authority over hospitals. While the State and Federal government certainly regulate Hospitals, the Federal Government does not actually own or operate many hospitals such as the Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Finally, the reality as the debate over the ACA showed is that the U.S. healthcare system is hardly run by a monolithic federal agency.

Here is a link to the laws and regulations governing the operations of the CDC:


Of particular note, here is the authority governing the CDC's ability to quarantine people:


Isolation and Quarantine
Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
In addition to serving as medical functions, isolation and quarantine also are “police power” functions, derived from the right of the state to take action affecting individuals for the benefit of society.

Federal Law
The federal government derives its authority for isolation and quarantine from the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264), the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States and between states.

The authority for carrying out these functions on a daily basis has been delegated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC’s Role
Under 42 Code of Federal Regulations parts 70 and 71, CDC is authorized to detain, medically examine, and release persons arriving into the United States and traveling between states who are suspected of carrying these communicable diseases.

As part of its federal authority, CDC routinely monitors persons arriving at U.S. land border crossings and passengers and crew arriving at U.S. ports of entry for signs or symptoms of communicable diseases.

When alerted about an ill passenger or crew member by the pilot of a plane or captain of a ship, CDC may detain passengers and crew as necessary to investigate whether the cause of the illness on board is a communicable disease.

State, Local, and Tribal Law
States have police power functions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of persons within their borders. To control the spread of disease within their borders, states have laws to enforce the use of isolation and quarantine.

These laws can vary from state to state and can be specific or broad. In some states, local health authorities implement state law. In most states, breaking a quarantine order is a criminal misdemeanor.

Tribes also have police power authority to take actions that promote the health, safety, and welfare of their own tribal members. Tribal health authorities may enforce their own isolation and quarantine laws within tribal lands, if such laws exist.

Who Is in Charge
The federal government

Acts to prevent the entry of communicable diseases into the United States. Quarantine and isolation may be used at U.S. ports of entry.
Is authorized to take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between states.
May accept state and local assistance in enforcing federal quarantine.
May assist state and local authorities in preventing the spread of communicable diseases.
State, local, and tribal authorities

Enforce isolation and quarantine within their borders.
It is possible for federal, state, local, and tribal health authorities to have and use all at the same time separate but coexisting legal quarantine power in certain events. In the event of a conflict, federal law is supreme.

If a quarantinable disease is suspected or identified, CDC may issue a federal isolation or quarantine order.

Public health authorities at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels may sometimes seek help from police or other law enforcement officers to enforce a public health order.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Coast Guard officers are authorized to help enforce federal quarantine orders.

Breaking a federal quarantine order is punishable by fines and imprisonment.

Federal law allows the conditional release of persons from quarantine if they comply with medical monitoring and surveillance.

Federal Quarantine Rarely used
Large-scale isolation and quarantine was last enforced during the influenza (“Spanish Flu”) pandemic in 1918–1919. In recent history, only a few public health events have prompted federal isolation or quarantine orders.

Presbyterian workers wore no hazmat suits for two days while treating Ebola patient

Source: Dallas News

Health care workers treating Thomas Eric Duncan in a hospital isolation unit didn’t wear protective hazardous-material suits for two days until tests confirmed the Liberian man had Ebola — a delay that potentially exposed perhaps dozens of hospital workers to the virus, according to medical records.

The 3-day window of Sept. 28-30 is now being targeted by investigators for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the key time during which health care workers may have been exposed to the deadly virus by Duncan, who died Oct. 8 from the disease.

Duncan was suspected of having Ebola when he was admitted to a hospital isolation unit Sept. 28, and he developed projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea later that day, according to medical records his family turned over to The Associated Press.

But workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas did not abandon their gowns and scrubs for hazmat suits until tests came back positive for Ebola about 2 p.m. on Sept. 30, according to details of the records released by AP.

Read more: http://thescoopblog.dallasnews.com/2014/10/presbyterian-workers-wore-no-protective-gear-for-two-days-while-treating-ebola-patient.html/?hootPostID=c7c473e639ad2859ea04ad2773012ff1

While Fox News goes crazy about how Ebola is magically spreading despite all the precautions that were taken, the truth is that it now turns out that no precautions were taken when Eric Duncan was first admitted with projectile vomit and explosive diarrhea. This information is being hidden as folks go into hysterics about how Ebola is now going airborne and how you may be able to catch Ebola through casual contact. The fuck-up was at the hospital in allowing staff to come into contact with vomit and diarrhea without any appropriate gear.

This reminds me of the early days of the AIDS spread in 1980s when the news media was suggesting that you could get AIDS simply by standing near someone who was gay.

Texas No. 1 for uninsured rate, again - Implications for Spread of Ebola?

The corporate media will, of course, refuse to cover the lack of insurance coverage in red states. Worse, the media will attempt to blame Democrats for the efforts of Republicans to halt the implementation of the ACA. However, what you will not hear is an answer to the question of whether we expect people without insurance coverage to go to a doctor at the first sign of a fever. The first ebola patient did not go to the Hospital until his fever was 103 degrees, and he was sent home with Tylenol. In contrast, the Texas nurse went to seek help at the very first sign of fever, presumably because she has health coverage.

Will the State of Texas pay for these visits? Or, will they continue to insist that health care is not a right, and let communicable diseases spread?


AUSTIN (KXAN) — New numbers from the U.S. Census show Texas holds the title of the state with the highest rate of uninsured people, with more than 22 percent of the population without health insurance.

Massachusetts had the lowest rate with a 3.7 percent uninsured population.

The numbers from the U.S. Census American Community Survey show the rate of people without insurance dropped in Texas in 2013 to 22.1 percent from 22.5 percent the year before, meaning about 5.7 million people don’t have health insurance in the state.

The health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act began to take effect in January, after this data was collected.

Secret Money Fueling a Flood of Political Ads

Source: NY Times

ore than half of the general election advertising aired by outside groups in the battle for control of Congress has come from organizations that disclose little or nothing about their donors, a flood of secret money that is now at the center of a debate over the line between free speech and corruption.

The advertising, which has overwhelmingly benefited Republican candidates, is largely paid for by nonprofit groups and trade associations, some of which are established with the purpose of shielding wealthy individuals and corporations that contribute. More money is being spent on advertising by the secret donors than by “super PACs,” the explicitly political committees whose fortunes have dominated attention with the rise of big money in politics.

Fifty-five percent of broadcast advertising in the midterm elections has been paid for by groups that do not fully disclose their donors, according to an analysis by The New York Times of advertising data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group, compared with 45 percent from super PACs, which are required to file regular financial disclosures with the Federal Election Commission.

* * *
The dominance of secretly funded advertising defies one of the underlying assumptions of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed outside groups to raise and spend more money, so long as they did not coordinate with candidates and parties. In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy envisioned campaigns in which unlimited independent spending by unions and corporations would be paired with robust real-time disclosure.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/11/us/politics/ads-paid-for-by-secret-money-flood-the-midterm-elections.html?_r=0

While much is made of the "fundraising advantage" Democrats are holding in terms of dollars flowing from donors directly to candidates, this does not include the dark money that is being spent in support of Republicans by billionaires who can now readily hide their identities thanks to Citizens United. Also, the complete disconnect between the assumptions made by Anthony Kennedy in Citizens United and reality underscores the lack of integrity of the Court's right wing appointees in trying to legitimize corporate corruption of the political process.

What killed the liberal radio star? - Corporate Censorship Of Course

The primary reason behind the rightward shift in our politics has been the rightward shift of our media as exemplified by the growth of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. The concept of a liberal media has always been a myth, but now the biggest lie is that the "mainstream media" is somehow neutral. False neutrality has replaced objectivity. A monopolistic media market relentlessly attacks or obscures Democratic and progressive viewpoints in order to pander to their right wing corporate advertisers.

Liberal talk radio is now largely dead because corporate advertisers have increasingly acted in concert to boycott it. Now, the only political talk radio available is from right wing blowhards. Bill Moyers once said "There is no more important struggle for American democracy than ensuring a diverse, independent and free media. Free Press is at the heart of that struggle." Sadly, we have already lost this struggle. The press is not free. It is for sale. And the only folks who can afford it are the Shelden Adelsons and Koch Brothers of the world.


In Los Angeles, the last remaining all-liberal talk station, KTLK, will do an about-face and start airing only conservative talkers on Jan. 1. Ditto for KNEW in San Francisco. Last November, progressive stations in Portland, Ore., and Seattle switched to all-sports formats.

The biggest pressures squeezing liberal talk radio are commercial ones. Deregulation of the airwaves allowed conglomerates like Clear Channel to borrow billions from Wall Street and begin buying up stations by the hundreds. Saddled with debt, Clear Channel has ruthlessly standardized its 840 stations and squeezed each for maximum profit. That meant eliminating progressive talk from its stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland.

Angry progressives claim such moves could also have a political motivation: Clear Channel is owned in part by Bain Capital, the private equity firm once run by Mitt Romney . That’s possible, but it wouldn’t explain the problems besetting stations like WWRL, which is owned by Access 1, a family-owned media company.

A more likely culprit is the hard economics of persuading businesses to advertise on local radio. “National advertisers have pulled away from progressive stations, and not just in New York,” says Mark Riley, a New York radio veteran who just ended a great stint as WWRL’s morning man. “Stations aren’t worth what the people who bought them thought they were worth,” he says.

CSM - It's Climate Week. Where are Republicans?

In right wing world, President Obama's speech to the UN regarding climate change was just a distraction from the horrors of Bengazi and Obamacare. Of course, the main stream media gives Republicans a free pass on climate change issues because only Democrats are expected to be responsible.


WASHINGTON — Leaders from across the globe, executives of multinational corporations, and a wide array of private citizens descended upon New York this week to support clean energy and climate change action at Tuesday’s UN Climate Summit and adjoining Climate Week events.

But amid the hubbub in Manhattan, one group has kept notably quiet.

For much of President Obama’s tenure, Republicans have criticized his administration’s green goals as job-killing, ineffective, and bureaucratically messy. Some Republican lawmakers reject the existence of human-induced climate change; but more frequently, Republicans say Obama’s climate policies are a distraction from pressing concerns like job creation, the economy, and national security.

“While America faces immediate challenges and threats, President Obama remains fixated on pushing an extreme climate agenda,” Sen. John Barrasso (R) of Wyoming told the Monitor in an e-mailed statement Wednesday.

Tea Party Congressman: Holder’s Resignation A Ploy To Distract From Horrors Of Obamacare

In a Fox News world, some folks probably do think that Gohmert's comments are totally accurate, which is why Republicans do stand a chance to take control of the Senate. A large segment of the voting public lives in a world where Obamacare represents national security disaster, Bengazi is far worse than 9/11 and the pretext that lead to the Iraq war, and climate change is a hoax.


Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) speculated on Thursday that Attorney General Eric Holder was resigning from office to distract attention from Obamacare and “the world falling apart.”

“Because of the timing, I can’t help but wonder if this is the president’s attempt to change the subject from the horrors that Obamacare has caused people’s health care and the dismal economy and the world falling apart because of this president’s foreign policies or the lack there of,” the Texas Congressman said during an interview with Radio America.

Gohmert, who famously sparred with Holder during Congressional investigations into the Fast & Furious operation and has repeatedly called for his impeachment, went on to accuse the outgoing Attorney General of partnering with “radical Islam,” which, he claimed, “has an open door at the White House.”

The allegations are nothing new from Gohmert. Following the bombing of the Boston Marathon in 2013, Gohmert directly accused Holder of siding with terrorists. “Think about it, when your attorney general spent more of his legal career helping terrorists than defending the country, then you know we all have certain biases and lean certain ways,” he said.
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