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Bill USA

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Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Me

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

Journal Archives

From the Buying of Government front: Koch Group, Spending Freely, Hones Attack on Government


WASHINGTON — Americans for Prosperity — the group backed by David H. and Charles G. Koch that has been pouring millions of dollars into competitive Senate races to the rising alarm of Democrats — was also among the politically active groups on the ground in this month’s special House election on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

But its agenda had little to do with the fate of David Jolly, the Republican candidate who won that race. The group’s ground troops — including those who knocked on doors, ran phone banks and reached out through social media to gauge ways to motivate voters — were part of a much greater project, with a prize much larger than a congressional seat.

Americans for Prosperity turned the Florida contest into its personal electoral laboratory to fine-tune get-out-the-vote tools and messaging for future elections as it pursues its overarching goal of convincing Americans that big government is bad government.

As the group emerges as a dominant force in the 2014 midterm elections, spending up to 10 times as much as any major outside Democratic group so far, officials of the organization say their effort is not confined to hammering away at President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. They are also trying to present the law as a case study in government ineptitude to change the way voters think about the role of government for years to come.

more here: Americans for Prosperity has already spent $7 million on ads against Kay Hagan. No, that’s no typo http://www.democraticunderground.com/1251359036

Americans for Prosperity has already spent $7 million on ads against Kay Hagan. No, that’s no typo


Readers of this blog know that Americans for Prosperity has spent huge sums of cash on ads criticizing vulnerable Democratic senators up for reelection. But one state stands out from the pack: North Carolina, where the Koch brothers-backed group has already dropped a whopping $7 million+ on the airwaves barraging Sen. Kay Hagan (D).

In Monday's Read In over on Post Politics, Reid Wilson breaks down how much AFP spent in nine Senate races through the end of last week. North Carolina accounts for 44 percent of the more than $16 million the conservative group has shelled out.

So why North Carolina? Well, for starters, there arguably isn't a more crucial race in the battle for the Senate. Republicans need to pick up six seats to win back the majority. On our most recent rundown of the 10 seats most likely to flip party control, North Carolina was -- wait for it -- No. 6.

Secondly, of the four states won by Mitt Romney in which Democratic senators are running for reelection, North Carolina is the most expensive. As we wrote last week when we took a closer look at the Alaska Senate race, air time there as well as in Louisiana and Arkansas, isn't as expensive. Those states have smaller populations, thus less expensive media markets.


On the Airwaves: You've heard a lot about Americans for Prosperity hammering Democratic Senate candidates with early advertising. Here's a look at how much the outside group has spent on TV ads as of the end of last week, numbers they don't have to report to the FEC but were provided by a Democratic outside group watching the ad market:

Alaska (Sen. Mark Begich): $632,897
Arkansas (Sen. Mark Pryor): $1,196,944
Colorado (Sen. Mark Udall): $810,862
Iowa (open seat): $484,431
Louisiana (Sen. Mary Landrieu): $2,923,893
Michigan (open seat): $2,017,624
Montana (Sen. John Walsh): $376,279
North Carolina (Sen. Kay Hagan): $7,270,324 (!!!)
New Hampshire (Sen. Jeanne Shaheen): $699,233
Total: $16,412,487

-- Calendar check: It's only March 31! (AFP has reportedly spent $30 million so far this cycle, but the $16 million figure is just what it has spent on TV in those nine Senate races.)

Michigan GOP continues its attack on labor, will strip funding for MSU for teaching labor courses


Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education included language in an appropriations bill they voted out of committee last week which will strip Michigan State University of a half million dollars in annual funding if they continue to offer a training program for members of a variety of building trades unions. The legislation strips the funding if they offer any course which includes “participating with any business or union, or group of businesses or unions, in hosting, sponsoring, administering, or in any way facilitating an academy, seminar, class, course, conference, or program that provides instruction, in whole or in part, in techniques for encouraging or discouraging employees in regard to union organizing.”

The penalty for each violation of the provision would be a $500,000 reduction in a university’s state appropriation.

Meet the New Kochs: The DeVos Clan's Plan to Defund the Left ("Right to work" laws)

(emphases my own)
"In early December, the Michigan Freedom Fund unleashed its freedom-to-work ad campaign. The group also enlisted GOP pollster and communications guru Frank Luntz to help craft a message "bible" that was distributed to every Republican state lawmaker for use during the right-to-work push; it included prepackaged answers to potential questions from constituents and reporters. ("Q. Isn't this really just about trying to break unions? A. Freedom-to-work is about restoring workplace fairness and equality, not curtailing unions." The Freedom Fund even brought Luntz to Lansing to rally lawmakers. This is your chance to make history, Luntz exhorted them. It's now or never.

On December 6, Snyder shocked the state by announcing that lawmakers would vote on right-to-work that day and that he would sign the legislation when it got to his desk. DeVos worked the phones all the way to the end, even calling several lawmakers on their cellphones as they prepared to cast their votes."

"Passing right-to-work in Michigan was more than a policy victory. It was a major score for Republicans who have long sought to weaken the Democratic Party by attacking its sources of funding and organizing muscle. "Michigan big labor literally controls one of the major political parties," Dick DeVos said last January. "I'm not suggesting they have influence; I'm saying they hold total dominance, command, and control." So DeVos and his allies hit labor—and the Democratic Party—where it hurt: their bank accounts. By attacking their opponents' revenue stream, they could help put Michigan into play for the GOP heading into the 2016 presidential race—as it was more than three decades earlier, when the state's Reagan Democrats were key to winning the White House.

More broadly, the Michigan fight has given hope—and a road map—to conservatives across the country working to cripple organized labor and defund the left. Whereas party activists had for years viewed right-to-work as a pipe dream, a determined and very wealthy family, putting in place all the elements of a classic political campaign, was able to move the needle in a matter of months. "Michigan is Stalingrad, man," one prominent conservative activist told me. "It's where the battle will be won or lost." "

Louisiana Obamacare Attack Ads Use Actors To Tell Made-Up Horror Stories


I guess the real people they tried to use in other ads got tired of having their stories debunked by actual real reporters, so now AfP is running ads with actors and fake stories. How ethical of them!

A new political attack ad from the Koch brothers-funded group Americans for Prosperity calls on Louisianans to tell Sen. Mary Landrieu that Obamacare is hurting their families.

The ad shows a number of people, who appear to be Louisianans, opening their mail to find a letter stating that their health care policy has been cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act.

“Due to the Affordable Care Act, your monthly premium has increased,” a voice-over says in the ad as a man in a rural neighborhood opens a cancellation letter and looks at his young daughter standing next to him. “No longer covered, due to the Affordable Care Act.”

But the people in the emotion-evoking ad are not Louisianans at all; they are paid actors
Landrieu’s support for the Affordable Care Act is a major sticking point in what promises to be a tough reelection campaign for the three-term senator. And her campaign is taking issue with the ad, characterizing its use of actors as “misleading” and “low.”

I appreciate ABC News reporting the truth about these ads. A pity The Hill couldn't be bothered to dig a little deeper before they published this column a couple of days ago. It almost reads like competing press releases between Landrieu's campaign and Americans for Prosperity with no contextual meaning.

Americans for Prosperity is vigorously defending their ads, in spite of the fact that they're inventions. I have to wonder how many people will take them seriously, though, now that reality has landed in these states.

new Koch Bros ACA attack ad Shannon Wendt makes claims but no corroboration provided when asked

New American's for Prosperity attack ad, this one with Michigan resident, Shannon Wendt, saying the plan available for her family under Obamacare is 'unaffordable' and that Obamacare is "destroying the middle class".

turns out the facts, as they can be found out, don't quite match with the claims. One thing is straight-forward though: given their income (Wendt, a mother of five, is a resident of Grand Rapids who sells jewelry on Esty) her family could qualify for Michigan's CHIP plan, MIChild, but they decided not to sign up for it.

WaPo Factchecker and others have tried to get some hard numbers from Americans for Prosperity but they would not provide any hard numbers for actual costs or corroboration of the assertions made in the ad.

[font size="3"]
Big claims, few details in anti-Obamacare ad alleging soaring costs[/font]

Michigan resident Shannon Wendt, in a new Americans for Prosperity ad attacking Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)



As for costs under the new plan, her story was slightly different depending on the interview. She told Fox News that her old plan cost $260 a month with a $5,000 deductible, but the new plan will be $400 with a “high deductible. But she also told MLive.com that the premiums “will be close to what they paid last year for health insurance.” (The old plan, she told MLive.com, had $10,000 in out-of-pocket costs.)

So how did the plan now become so unaffordable that her husband Zach has to work extra hours? What is the new out-of-pocket maximum? We tried to reach Wendt, but her husband said she was unavailable.

Levi Russell, an AFP spokesman, said “the biggest change since those comments in January was that Shannon and her husband did more research, and realized that the available plans with costs comparable to their older plan that was canceled did not meet the healthcare needs of their family. The plan that does meet their needs is much more expensive. This is primarily due to the narrower provider networks on plans available on the exchange.”

Russell did not respond to a request for more details on the actual costs. We will update this column if we learn more from Wendt herself.

Toles on Roberts decision to further Corporate Fuedalism in Hobby Lobby 'corporate conscience' case

the commandment from our Christian Ayatollah, John Roberts is sure to come in favor of Hobby Lobby. don't like being serfs before you new fuedal Lords the Corporations? Get used to it. (uh,,,, or do something about it)

Fear of...Wages - Krugman


Four years ago, some of us watched with a mixture of incredulity and horror as elite discussion of economic policy went completely off the rails. Over the course of just a few months, influential people all over the Western world convinced themselves and each other that budget deficits were an existential threat, trumping any and all concern about mass unemployment. The result was a turn to fiscal austerity that deepened and prolonged the economic crisis, inflicting immense suffering.

And now it’s happening again. Suddenly, it seems as if all the serious people are telling each other that despite high unemployment there’s hardly any “slack” in labor markets — as evidenced by a supposed surge in wages — and that the Federal Reserve needs to start raising interest rates very soon to head off the danger of inflation.

To be fair, those making the case for monetary tightening are more thoughtful and less overtly political than the archons of austerity who drove the last wrong turn in policy. But the advice they’re giving could be just as destructive.

O.K., where is this coming from?

AAA: Electric car range cut 57% in cold weather, 33% in very hot weather

I knew that the range estimates for electrics were for more or less 'ideal' conditions and that cold and hot weather would cut into those ranges significantly. But until somebody (other than auto manufacturers who kept this info to themselves) did some actual testing, the actual amount of degradation would remain unknown. Now we have some empirical research to put some numbers on it. BTW, since they didn't mention this, I'm assuming the hot weather test was done without the A/C on - something which hot, sweating humans are prone to preferring. Turning on the air would drop hot weather battery performance even more - perhaps as much as the cold weather results - perhaps worse.

This makes the estimates of time to recover initial investments (if, as I assume, they are based on optimal conditions) optimistic. A large percentage of our population has to deal with cold weather (including colder than 20 degrees) andor hot weather for part of the year, so this will have an impact on the sales of these cars.

To make estimates of what can be accomplished with a given technology it doesn't do any good to pretend real world eventualities don't exist. It just leads to bad decision-making.


The range of electric vehiclescan be greatly reduced, by up to 57% , depending on the temperature outside, auto club AAA says.

The AAA Automotive Research Center in Southern California found that the average range of an electric car dropped 57% in very cold weather – at 20 degrees Fahrenheit – and by 33% in extreme heat, a temperature of 95 degrees.

"We expected degradation in the range of vehicles in both cold and hot climates, but we did not expect the degradation we saw," said Greg Brannon, AAA's director of automotive engineering.

AAA conducted a simulation to measure the driving range of three fully-electric vehicles – a 2013 Nissan Leaf, a 2012 Mitsubishi iMIEV and a 2014 Ford Focus Electric Vehicle – in cold, moderate and hot weather. It tested the vehicles for city driving to mimic stop-and-go traffic between December and January, fully charging each EV, and then "driving" each on a dynamometer in a climate-controlled room until the battery was fully exhausted.

Let the firestorm begin.....

forget Drones, data mining technology expects to predict your behavior, and this is developing in

commercial markets on it's own. Businesses were getting into this before the Government intelligence people got onto it.

What started out as a commercial applicatioin as a way to increase advertizing effectiveness and revenues is morphing into something potentially seriously sinister. ...no, really!

... and it uses information freely available in the public domain (mostly through the internet using data freely offerred by users) - of course, the users of this data aren't necessarily going to be satisfied with that.


Predicting You

Listening to phone calls, recording locations, and breaking into computers are just one part of the tool kit that the data-mining companies offer to US (and other) intelligence agencies. Think of them as the data equivalents of oil and natural gas drilling companies that are ready to extract the underground riches that have been stashed over the years in strongboxes in our basements.

What government agencies really want, however, is not just the ability to mine, but to refine those riches into the data equivalent of high-octane fuel for their investigations in very much the way we organize our own data to conduct meaningful relationships, find restaurants, or discover new music on our phones and computers.

These technologies—variously called social network analysis or semantic analysis tools—are now being packaged by the surveillance industry as ways to expose potential threats that could come from surging online communities of protesters or anti-government activists. Take Raytheon, a major US military manufacturer, which makes Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, Maverick air-to-ground missiles, Patriot surface-to-air missiles, and Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missiles. Their latest product is a software package eerily named "Riot" that claims to be able to predict where individuals are likely to go next using technology that mines data from social networks like Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter.

Raytheon's Rapid Information Overlay Technology software—yes, that's how they got the acronym Riot—extracts location data from photos and comments posted online by individuals and analyzes this information. The result is a variety of spider diagrams that purportedly will show where that individual is most likely to go next, what she likes to do, and whom she communicates with or is most likely to communicate with in the near future.
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