The US Department of Energy (DOE) released a report late Wednesday night recommending that power markets revise how they value coal and nuclear power. The report also admits that low natural gas prices are a primary cause of recent coal plant closures.
The report has been controversial since its inception. In mid-April, Energy Secretary Rick Perry directed his team to study grid reliability and security for 60 days. Although the memo never mentioned renewables, it implicated “certain policies” that apparently unfairly threatened coal-burning plants.
That led critics to wonder whether renewable energy—critical for the mitigation of climate change—would get a fair shake in Perry’s study. Grid operators have been able to put a fair amount of renewable energy on the grid without reliability suffering, but the tone of Perry’s memo suggested that a conclusion contradicting that fact had been predetermined.
James Clapper isn’t exactly my favorite appointee of the Obama era. But I still perk up when someone of his background and experience talks like this, as reported by Julian Borger at The Guardian. After Donald Trump’s incredibly discreditable performance in Phoenix Tuesday night, Clapper, former director of national intelligence for a little more than six years under Obama, challenged Trump’s “fitness to be in this office,” and said it’s “pretty damn scary” that he has access to the nation’s nuclear codes:
Once a president has verified his identity with a code kept constantly on his person or nearby, the military chain of command has no power to block his launch orders. [...]
[Clapper said]: If “in a fit of pique [Trump] decides to do something about Kim Jong-un, there’s actually very little to stop him. The whole system is built to ensure rapid response if necessary. So there’s very little in the way of controls over exercising a nuclear option, which is pretty damn scary.”
Clapper did not mention Richard Nixon, who was involved in a tense stand-off with North Korea in 1969, after the regime shot down a US spy plane. Nixon is reported to have gotten drunk and ordered a tactical nuclear strike, which was only averted by his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger.
Nixon’s biographers Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan quoted a top CIA official, George Carver, as saying: “The joint chiefs were alerted and asked to recommend targets, but Kissinger got on the phone to them. They agreed not to do anything until Nixon sobered up in the morning.”
One problem. Trump doesn’t get drunk. He’s inebriated every minute of the day and night by the power he now wields. How do you warn people to refuse to follow orders from a man who never “sobers up.” If the Senate Judiciary Committee releases a transcript of the 10 hours of testimony from Glenn Simpson—who helped compile the dossier containing allegations of Trump-Russia collusion—Trump’s recklessness may involve more than just his big, stupid, lying mouth. He might cut and run, as he has done in the past. Or he might act out.
However, although I don’t have the exact quote, another top former intelligence official I don’t care for, R. James Woolsey, said in an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Don Lemon that people in 1961 had more reason to be concerned with whether John Kennedy had the wherewithal to deal with the Russians than should be concerned about Trump’s ability in the foreign policy sphere. Wow.• An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events • Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups
“The children start school now in August. They say it has to do with air-conditioning, but I know sadism when I see it.” ~Rick Bragg, My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South (2015)
This weird meme that nobody cared about Confederate statues before Trump shows how little mind people pay to black folks' opinions— Vann R. Newkirk II (@fivefifths) August 23, 2017
At on this date in 2004—Dole a hypocrite:
Josh Marshall applies the smackdown to Bob Dole, so I don't have to:
Today Bob Dole suggested that one or more of John Kerry's Purple Hearts may have been fraudulent in some way because they were for "superficial wounds."
Dole knows better.
In a 1988 campaign-trail autobiography, here's how Dole described the incident that earned him his first Purple Heart: "As we approached the enemy, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. I took a grenade in hand, pulled the pin, and tossed it in the direction of the farmhouse. It wasn't a very good pitch (remember, I was used to catching passes, not throwing them). In the darkness, the grenade must have struck a tree and bounced off. It exploded nearby, sending a sliver of metal into my leg—the sort of injury the Army patched up with Mercurochrome and a Purple Heart."
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, we continue with the origin stories of the so-called “alt-right,” their money man Regnery, the meteoric rises and falls of some of their leading insta-celebs, and a reminder that this might just be our future. I mean, who else is left in the Republican Party?x Embedded Content
Daily Kos Elections' project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for every state legislative seat in the nation hits Missouri, a former swing state where the GOP is now firmly in control. You can find our master list of states here, which we'll be updating as we add new data sets; you can also find all of our calculations from 2016 and past cycles here.
While swingy Missouri backed the winning presidential candidate in every election from 1960 to 2004, Democrats picked up the state House in 1948 and the Senate in 1954, and they held both chambers for decades. But things began to change in 1992, when voters passed a term-limits law that gradually forced longtime rural Democrats out of office. The GOP took the Senate in 2000 and the House two years later, and Republic Eric Greitens' victory in last year's governor's race gave Team Red full control of the state government. The GOP holds a 117 to 46 supermajority in the House (Daily Kos Elections assigns vacant seats to the party that last held them) and an even larger 25 to nine edge in the Senate.
It certainly doesn't help Democrats that Missouri has swerved hard to the right in recent years. In 2008, John McCain defeated Barack Obama 49.4-49.2, his only win in a seriously contested state, and the first time ever that a Democratic presidential nominee had won the White House while losing Missouri. Four years later, the Obama campaign focused its efforts elsewhere, and Mitt Romney won 54-44. In 2016, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton 56-38. Trump carried 120 of the 163 House seats and 25 of the 34 Senate districts.
We'll start with a look at the House, which is up every two years. Even though Trump's margin of victory was considerably larger than Romney's, the two carried the same counties, so it's not a surprise that few state House seats switched sides. Trump ended up losing two Romney seats while picking up two Obama districts. The only large shift in this group was HD-10, which is located in Buchanan County north of Kansas City. This seat went from 50-47 Obama to 53-39 Trump, but Democrat Pat Conway won his fourth and final term without any opposition.
The other Obama/Trump seat, HD-29 in the Kansas City area, is held by Democrat Rory Rowland. The seat drifted from 50-48 Obama to 47.4-47.1 Trump, but Rowland also had no opposition. The two Romney/Clinton seats, which were close in both presidential races, are held by Republicans.
In addition to Conway and Rowland, just three Democrats hold Trump seats. The reddest is HD-118, located south of St. Louis. The seat swung from 55-43 Romney to a punishing 71-25 Trump, but Democrat Ben Harris also won his fourth and final term without opposition. HD-21 in the Kansas City area went from 50-48 Romney to 51-42 Trump, but Democrat Ira Anders won his final term 58-42. Mark Ellebracht managed to win his first term 51-46 last year after two very close losses even as his Clay County went from 50-48 Romney to 50-43 Trump. The two Romney/Clinton seats are the only Clinton seats in GOP hands.
American Republican legislators have begun aiming their sights on a major policy initiative: the nation's tax code. Any changes will certainly impact the American technology sector, but before getting to that possible impact, there's the matter of the GOP's publicity campaign on the matter.
On Wednesday afternoon, the GOP showed that it could use some help in its attempts to make its sales pitch look "hip."
In a blog post titled "What Do The Legend of Zelda and the American Tax Code Have In Common?" House Republicans originally wrote:
A review of 187 ExxonMobil documents, published by two Harvard researchers on Wednesday, has found that the company ”misled the public” on climate change.
The documents included internal papers published by journalists at InsideClimate News as well as 50 “peer-reviewed articles on climate research and related policy analysis” written by ExxonMobil researchers. The oil and gas company made the internal papers public and challenged anyone to “read all of these documents and make up your own mind,” accusing journalists of cherry-picking data.
Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes, from Harvard's Department of the History of Science, took up that challenge, comparing the information in the documents cited by ExxonMobil against the information conveyed in the publicly-available advertorial columns published by the company on anthropogenic (or human-caused) climate change in the New York Times. They found that “83 percent of peer-reviewed papers and 80 percent of internal documents acknowledge that climate change is real and human-caused, yet only 12 percent of advertorials do so, with 81 percent instead expressing doubt.”
The Arizona Republican Party wants you to know that despite the spectacle of Donald Trump jetting into Phoenix to defend Confederate monuments (and a few other things), the party is super-duper committed to diversity. Sort of. But since they couldn't find many pictures of Arizona Republicans who are not lily white and continually pissed off, they had to improvise when it came time to find pictures of such diversity for their website.
They improvised a little too hard, however, when they cut-and-pasted a publicity photo for a 1994 sitcom to depict their "Asian American" support.The cast photograph of “All-American Girl” is prominently featured on the Arizona Republican Party’s official website with the caption “Asian Americans,” and sits on a page declaring that the political party will never “demand special rights for certain races, push policies that favor members of one group over another, or single out certain ethnic or social groups with the promise of special favors or political privileges.”
The star of All-American Girl was none other than actress and comedian Margaret Cho, whose disgust and distain for Republicans has been incandescent over this last decade. Not only does she not support the Arizona Republican Party, she responded by politely suggesting the party deserves "a dodgeball to the face."
The party has now deleted the page.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been sweeping up dozens of undocumented high school students and falsely accusing them of being members of Central American gang MS-13, advocates say. Immigration lawyer Bryan Johnson told NPR that ICE has been using even the most remote of links to round up the teenagers in this witchhunt. Even if “they were seen sitting in class next to someone who was a gang member, they're fair game.” One teen was arrested and spent a month in detention before being released by a judge due to lack of evidence. Now the girl is terrified of continuing her education. "I'm scared to go back to that school," she said. "Look at everything I went through just for attending that school”:
"None of them have been convicted of crimes, keep that in mind," Johnson said. "They have no criminal history. They never hurt anyone. They are from Central America and this administration is hunting them in the false name of public safety."
The teen from Long Island walked to the U.S. from El Salvador, without a parent, when she was 16-years-old. It took a month-and-a-half.
NPR agreed not to name the students because they worry that speaking out could hurt their cases.
Thousands of so-called "unaccompanied minors" have fled violence in Central America in recent years. The classifications mean the government cannot turn them away, and must resettle them somewhere in the country. But if immigration authorities believe they are a threat or danger, they can seek to deport them.
And they would deport them back to the violence they fled from in the first place. ICE has already been shown to have a history of doctoring evidence in order to falsely accuse immigrant youth of having gang ties, earlier this year framing Seattle Dreamer Daniel Medina in what his attorney called “one of the most serious examples of governmental misconduct that I have come across in my 40 years of practice.”
Scott Pruitt has been on a listening tour of the United States to talk to local stakeholders about the Waters of the U.S. rule. You would think that the Environmental Protection Agency administrator—who is shielded by armed body guards at all times, even in the EPA offices—would be eager to give interviews to local media to get the word out. But no. Here’s Natasha Geiling:
[F]or local media, securing access to Administrator Pruitt during the tour has proved a difficult task, with city and state newspapers from Colorado to South Carolina reporting a marked lack of transparency—and in at least one case, overt threats—when Pruitt came to town.
But for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which spent $117,375 in lobbying last year, getting an interview with Pruitt was apparently not a problem, with the administrator appearing in a recent video for the organization’s policy arm, Beltway Beef.
In the video, Pruitt uses industry talking points to incorrectly state that the Obama administration rule redefined federally-regulated waters as a “puddle, a dry creek bed, and ephemeral drainage ditches across the country.” In reality, the 2015 rule, which sought to clarify which waters fall under protection of the Clean Water Act, redefined federal waters as anything having a “significant nexus” to navigable waters —that definition included things like wetlands or seasonal streams, but not puddles.
But why expect accuracy in this matter from a guy who challenges some of the most fundamental underpinnings of science—including the very existence of the greenhouse effect?
To ensure that everybody knows exactly where he stands in this matter, Pruitt explains on the Beltway Beef video that it’s important for ranchers and farmers to make public comments on the Clean Water Rule before the August 28 deadline. The video then provides a link to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, an organization that has opposed the new rule.
Ethicists and former EPA officials have objected to this solicitation of views that everyone knows Pruitt is partial to hearing. The question is whether the Government Accountability Office will treat this effort the same as it did when Republicans complained that the Obama administration was soliciting views in support of the Waters of the U.S. rule via Twitter. It labeled that effort “covert propaganda” and improper “grassroots lobbying.” Will Pruitt get a similar scolding?
The Hatch Act theoretically prevents the members of the executive branch—aside from the president and vice president—from engaging in overtly political activity. It’s often mentioned, but rarely invoked, because it really requires evidence that an official engaged in political activity at the same even where he was acting in an official capacity. For example, Julian Castro was found to have violated the act for endorsing Hillary Clinton during a media interview where he was identified by title and discussed policy implementation.
And then there’s the Trump regime, which has been wiping their feet on the Hatch Act from day one. That certainly didn’t stop at Trump’s rally in Phoenix.
Right before Ben Carson took the stage at President Trump’s rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night, the announcer introduced him.
“The secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson,” the voice intoned, prompting cheers from the audience.
And, as simply as that, a law was likely broken.
If Carson had come to Phoenix to discuss housing policy, it might have skirted the line—even though Trump’s rally was announced as a campaign rally and paid for out of his funds for the 2020 election. But that’s not what Carson’s appearance was about. Instead he was there to celebrate Manifest Destiny.
“The taming of the West is one of the best examples of the American way.”
He then joined in the new Republican tradition of calling out bigotry, without ever calling out a bigot. But whatever his topic, it seems clear enough that Carson broke the law.
2) Likewise I need to make a quick vector text graphic to go on my shirt for Lup and I used to be able to just throw some fonts together real quick and be pleased with the result and now it's taking me forever? Like this is basically the equivalent of a website header text graphic and it's just not working for me.
3) That said, I missed the widespread adoption of flexbox and just found it this week and it's basically amazing. Like, solves most of the problems I had with CSS, honestly.
Alright, back to banging my head against design.
Deputy secretary of the Department of Labor is probably not a position 99.9 percent of Americans give any thought to. Indeed, not many can name Alex Acosta, the Department of Labor secretary who oversees this position. It is nevertheless an important job. Deputies and assistant secretaries initiate and supervise most of the work that federal departments and agencies accomplish. This particular deputy slot operates as the nation’s second highest labor-enforcer. And Pr*sident Donald Trump’s nominee for the job has a past connection that makes his ascension problematic.
His name is Patrick Pizzella. To the uninitiated, he might seem like a good choice. He’s currently acting chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and 16 years ago he was confirmed as assistant labor secretary for operations and management—OASAM for short. He served in that post for nearly all of George W. Bush’s terms as president. He has extensive budgeting experience as a result, which would be a crucial part of his new job if he gets it, as the Trump regime has called for a 20 percent cut in the department’s spending. He would also be in charge of implementing Trump’s order to reorganize federal agencies’ internal structures and finding a new DOL headquarters,
But that experience, as Mother Jones magazine reports, must be measured against Pizzella’s five years as a lobbying partner of the corrupt Jack Abramoff, who served 43 months in federal prison for mail fraud and conspiracy to bribe public officials. Twenty other people were also sentenced. But not Pizzella.
Together with Abramoff, he had lobbied to protect the textile sweatshops of the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, a string of Pacific islands 1,500 miles from Japan. That’s not the kind of line any friend of labor wants to see on a résumé for such a powerful post. Noah Lennard reports:
Bracy's first message to the packed crowd was that we shouldn't blame techies for the housing crisis. She said she'd had to overcome her own prejudices to make that realization. When Uber announced they were buying the historic Sears Building in Oakland, where Bracy lives, she said she had to struggle not to get angry. She worried that her neighborhood would be less brown and that there would be a wave of housing displacement like what San Francisco has already experienced. But after years of working on civic-minded tech projects like Code for America and founding nonprofit TechEquity several years ago, she's come to a new understanding.
U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima has ruled that, yes, racism was behind the Arizona legislature’s ban on a popular Mexican-American studies program, concluding “that both enactment and enforcement were motivated by racial animus,” in turn violating the First and 14th Amendment rights of students. In seeking a safe space from brown people, Judge Tashima found that ban’s creators had more than just discrimination in mind—they were also trying to fearmonger in order to boost their own political careers:
Tashima was critical in his ruling of former state education leaders Tom Horne and John Huppenthal, who railed against the program and helped pass the law that ended it.
“Additional evidence shows that defendants were pursuing these discriminatory ends in order to make political gains. Horne and Huppenthal repeatedly pointed to their efforts against the [Mexican-American Studies] program in their respective 2011 political campaigns, including in speeches and radio advertisements. The issue was a political boon to the candidates,” Tashima wrote.
Huppenthal said Tuesday he was not surprised by the ruling and said it was meaningless because the law is not likely to be enforced in the future.
“The concern about what was going on in those classes was very real,” Huppenthal said.
The truth is that Latino students were finally seeing themselves reflected in their coursework, and in an area that was once Mexico. Students saw their grades and self-worth boosted after participating in the program. In fact, “students who participated outperformed their peers in grades and standardized tests.”
“Many of my students would say it was the first time they saw themselves in the material,” said Curtis Acosta, one of the program’s founders and the first witness to testify in the lawsuit, initially launched by students from the Tucson Unified School District. “For many of them, it was the first time they read a book at all.”
Following public outcry, the Jeff Sessions-led Department of Justice is scaling back their demand that web hosting provider DreamHost turn over the IP addresses, contact information, emails, and photos of anyone that has ever visited the site Disruptj20.org, a site used to help organize anti-Trump inauguration day protests.
Most of their amended request attempts to quell accusations that the department is engaged in a large-scale hunt for Trump enemies.In their scaled back request for information, prosecutors stressed they were targeting only those who used the site to plot violence and not political dissidents who may have casually visited it. They said any information produced by the company that falls outside the scope of the warrant would be set aside, placed under seal and made unavailable to the government without a further court order. [...]
“Such modifications should amply address the First Amendment/Fourth Amendment reasonableness concerns raised by DreamHost,” prosecutors wrote in their filing.
The Justice Department alleges that the site was used to organize criminal riots on that day, resulting in broken windows and other property damage. The new filing requests site and visitor information only between site inception, in July, and the inauguration, and clarifies that their request does not include HTTP request logs—that is, the raw information about IP addresses visiting the site:
Continuing his alliance with the white-supremacist right, it appears that Donald Trump may indeed pardon an Arizona sheriff now notorious for his department's rampant racial profiling and his own criminal contempt charge for ignoring court orders to remedy those actions.The White House has prepared the paperwork for President Trump to pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio when he makes the final decision to do so, CNN has learned. [...]
One of the [already-prepared] talking points is that Arpaio served his country for 50 years in the military, the Drug Enforcement Administration and as Arizona's Maricopa County sheriff, and that it is not appropriate to send him to prison for "enforcing the law" and "working to keep people safe."
We don't know if that "final" decision has been made or if the collective supposed cooler heads in the White House have any ability whatsoever to discourage Trump from preemptively pardoning the criminal Arpaio before he serves a day of his sentence. The move would be widely seen as an open embrace of Arpaio's past racial profiling orders and a gesture towards the racists and white supremacists of his base.
It would likely be met only by token condemnation from congressional Republicans, who have long sought to take advantage of the white supremacist and nationalist movements themselves and who continue to remain in Donald Trump’s pocket.
Polling Method: Internet
Overall, do you approve or disapprove about the way Donald Trump is handling his job as President?
973 Adults - Republican
- Approve: 73.0%
- Disapprove: 25.0%
- Not sure: 2.0%
1,114 Adults - Democrat
- Approve: 10.0%
- Disapprove: 88.0%
- Not sure: 2.0%
- Approve: 36.0%
- Disapprove: 59.0%
- Not sure: 5.0%
344 Adults - independent
- Approve: 36.0%
- Disapprove: 59.0%
- Not sure: 5.0%
Just got back from Gen Con, and it’s going to take a day or two to recover and get the comics machinery running again. In the meantime, enjoy this great commission I got at the show! (I should draw Samurai Jack more often – he is super fun to draw)
A federal judge delivered a decisive one-two punch Wednesday to Texas Republicans, issuing a permanent injunction on two Texas voter ID laws—the original 2011 law, SB14, and SB5, in which the Texas GOP tried to remedy the original law by loosening its restrictions.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi wrote:
...the only appropriate remedy for SB14's discriminatory purpose or discriminatory result is an injunction against enforcement of that law and SB5, which perpetuates SB14's discriminatory features. With respect to the VRA § 2 discriminatory purpose finding, elimination of SB14 "root and branch" is required, as the law has no legitimacy.
The Austin American-Statesman has some background on the lengthy path to this ruling, which originated when Texas Republicans passed one of the nation's most restrictive voter ID laws in 2011:
Civil rights groups, Democratic politicians and minority voters sued in 2013, arguing that the Republican-backed law violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act by targeting low-income, Latino and African American voters, who were less likely to have approved forms of ID but more likely to vote for Democratic candidates.
Ramos agreed, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of her ruling in 2016, saying the voter ID law discriminated against minorities and poor people, infringing on the voting rights of about 600,000 registered Texas voters who lacked a government-issued photo ID.
The appeals court, however, said Ramos’ work wasn’t done and returned the case to Corpus Christi with instructions to determine whether the law was written to be intentionally discriminatory.
It was, Ramos ruled in April — dismissing Republican assertions that the law was intended to combat fraud, with the judge calling that rationale a “pretext” to suppress the voting rights of minorities and reduce support for Democrats.
Wednesday’s ruling pertained to the remedies for the 2011 law, which was apparently irredeemable even though Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department had declared the fixes “constitutionally legal and valid.”
This is the 520th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) usually appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the Aug. 19 Green Spotlight. More than 27,540 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in this series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.
OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES10:46 am, 15 minutes past totality
foresterbob writes—The Daily Bucket: One Forester's (And One Cat's) View of the Eclipse: “I’ve always wanted to see a rocket launch, but during the heyday of the Space Race, Florida was far from when I lived. Twice I was near Cape Canaveral when a shuttle launch was planned; both times the launch was postponed. The other event that I longed to see was a total solar eclipse. I came close in 1984, witnessing the annular eclipse in Louisiana. 99.2 percent total, but not quite there! One way or another, I would witness the 2017 eclipse. Its path across the continent guaranteed me an opportunity to see it. If I stayed in Georgia, a four-hour drive would get me there. And if I found work in the Northwest, there’s no way I’d allow myself to miss it. As things turned out, I was the successful bidder on a forestry job on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, which lay directly in the path of totality. My ticket had been punched. I even found a place to stay that was within the zone. [...] Within thirty seconds of totality’s end, one viewer fired up his car and drove away. He probably leaves baseball games in the fifth inning, too. There was no reason for me to follow him. I watched the light return to normal strength, looking through the welder’s glass as the moon and sun parted company. On the ride back, two cars passed me in quick succession, one from British Columbia and one from Washington. Hey, eclipse is over, gotta get home now! As for me, I was in no hurry. The eclipse was the only thing on the day’s agenda. Nothing else was going to top the spectacular alignment that so few Americans had seen – until now.”
Besame writes—Daily Bucket: today sun and moon play a crepuscular con game on animals and plants: “Will pets and wildlife go blind looking at the sun today? How will animals react when a fake twilight and night descends? In Newport Oregon, the sun rises at 6:25am and 2.5 hours later darkness resumes as the moon blocks out the sun. Bees have been seen returning to their hives in past eclipses. Will songbirds go to sleep while bats and owls wake up? What about crickets and frogs? Will they begin their crepuscular chorus and mosquitoes begin their evening flights? As the sunlight increases, birds may consider it as an unusually swift return to sunrise and begin their morning songs. Perhaps butterflies will find a resting spot and moths will become active. There aren’t many scientific studies of how wildlife responds to a total eclipse (and even less for plants). Orb-weaving spiders were studied in Veracruz, Mexico during a 1991 eclipse. Spiders behaved in a manner typical of daily activity until totality, when many began taking down webs. After solar reappearance, most spiders that had begun taking down webs rebuilt them.”