Steve Israel…doesn’t get it

In response to his party’s caucus shrinking to its lowest number in over 80 year, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY, outgoing Congressional Campaign Chair) revealed a tone-deafness that, if shared by the rest of his caucus, could lead to even further shrinking.

Israel parroted the usual line we hear on the left these days – that the winning Republicans should “come into the middle” and work with Democrats (NROThe Corner), never mind that if voters had wanted Congress to be more amenable to Democrats’ wishes, they would have elected more actual Democrats.

Where Israel really goes off the rails is his insistence that the lame-duck Congress short-circuit the election (which at least in Louisiana is still ongoing) on “immigration reform” (same link):

Israel brought up corporate tax changes and, pointedly, immigration reform as issues on which the two parties can compromise.

“There really shouldn’t be any paralysis on this,” he said, noting that a Senate immigration bill has passed. “Let’s just pass it in the House,” he urged.

Let’s unpack this ass-hattery slowly.

First of all, there are good reasons why someone on either side of the argument on illegal immigration would have serious problems with the Senate’s immigration bill, chief among them the horrendous economic assumptions that “justify” it.  More to the point, a lame-duck session of Congress passing that bill would be a complete insult to the voters.

Lest we forget, John Boehner’s refusal to bring up the Senate immigration bill for a vote was one of the chief complaints thrown at him by the president, Senate Democrats, and just about everyone to the left of center in America. They hoped voters would send Boehner a message. Instead, voters sent him reinforcements.

Mitch McConnell was one of the 32 Senators who opposed the bill. Voters sent him reinforcements, too – eight so far, with perhaps one more coming in Louisiana.

Finally, of the 68 Senators who voted in favor of S.744, 5 Democrats lost their seats to Republicans (with one more, Mary Landrieu, likely to suffer the same fate), 4 have retired (3 of them Democrats to be replaced by Republicans), and one – Marco Rubio – has repudiated his vote. Even assuming no one else would vote differently (highly unlikely, especially given that McConnell will be more accommodating of amendments as Majority Leader), the bill could easily fail a cloture vote in the 2015 Senate. Whatever the voters of 2014 wanted, it sure wasn’t the Senate’s immigration bill.

Then again, Israel is trying to close his eyes to the voters anyway (same link again):

“In this election, one-third of voters chose a Democrat or Republican,” Israel said. “The other two-thirds just want us to get things done.”

Um…with all due respect, Steve, you don’t know what the other two-thirds want because they didn’t bother to vote.

If Israel (and the president) are any indication, the Democrats have decided that the non-voter is their perfect blank slate, upon which they can force any assumption and in whose they can put whatever words they like. That is a surefire recipe for a Republican president the next time actual voters get their say.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Tax issue helped Republicans expand the wave election (too bad Virginia Republicans took it away from Gillespie)

Disaffection with the president was a major driver for Republican success in last night’s election – of that there is no doubt. That said, the extent of success was greatly helped by…wait for it…taxes.

We begin with the epicenter of the tax argument: Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback’s tax reduction were supposed to be his own worst enemy – a political millstone that might not only drag him down, but Senator Pat Roberts, too. Instead, Roberts won going away, and Brownback not only won re-election, but came within 100 votes of an absolute majority (a Libertarian nominee took 4% of the vote). AP (via the Lawrence Journal-World), explains why in their exit poll analysis:

TAX CUTS: Roughly half of the voters said that tax cuts Brownback pushed had mostly helped Kansas, while about two in five said they had hurt.

So the tax cuts broke roughly 10 ten points in Brownback’s favor, contrary to the conventional wisdom…not that this is any surprise to me.

In the rest of the country, the tax issue popped up in referenda. John Hood (NRO – The Corner) has the details:

It’s worth noting also that conservatives won all of the nation’s big fiscal-policy referenda this year, beating a gas-tax hike in Massachusetts and business-tax hike in Nevada, while winning tax limitations in Tennessee, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

Note the states listed: Massachusetts also elected a Republican Governor. In Georgia, both Republicans (Purdue for Senate and Governor Deal for re-election) managed to avoid runoff and win outright (yet another “surprise” for the chattering classes). Finally, of course, Wisconsin re-elected Governor Scott Walker with unexpected ease.

Finally, there is Maryland, where I must spend two nights a week for work. As such, I saw every add Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown (D) put up in his race to succeed his previous running mate, Governor Martin O’Malley. Brown’s ads ran the gamut of positive and negative, hard-hitting issue ads and soft-touch personal ones. By contrast, I only saw one ad for Republican Larry Hogan – an ad that tried to squeeze in all of O’Malley’s tax increases in 30 seconds (practically one per second), along with a promise to give taxpayers a rest if he (Hogan) won.

In fact, Hogan did win.

Similarly, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn used major tax increases to keep his state government afloat. Despite being in the president’s home state, Quinn lost to Republican Bruce Rauner last night.

Again, anger and disaffection with the president was the big driver here, but voters especially rewarded Republicans where they could also take advantage of the tax issue…

…which makes one wonder what could have happened in Virginia had Republican Ed Gillespie not had the headwinds of tax-hiking Republican Bob McDonnell to face.

I’m just sayin’.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

New Global Warming Alarmist Problem: “Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder”

So, now, those of us who don’t buy global warming alarmism are to be blamed for alarmists’ stress.

Andrew Stuttaford (The Corner) has the details

 Just when you think that the misery that climate change is bringing in its wake can get no worse, there is this.

Grist reports:

…From depression to substance abuse to suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, growing bodies of research in the relatively new field of psychology of global warming suggest that climate change will take a pretty heavy toll on the human psyche as storms become more destructive and droughts more prolonged. For your everyday environmentalist, the emotional stress suffered by a rapidly changing Earth can result in some pretty substantial anxieties….

Lise Van Susteren, a forensic psychiatrist based in Washington, D.C. — and co-author of the National Wildlife Federation’s report — calls this emotional reaction “pre-traumatic stress disorder,” a term she coined to describe the mental anguish that results from preparing for the worst, before it actually happens.

There is, in my view, a perfectly reasonable case to be made that man may be contributing to the way that our ever-changing climate changes. That’s one thing, but how some choose to express their belief in that proposition can be something altogether, well let’s just say, less reasonable.

…and here I thought it would be about alarmists trying to process the sixteen-year pause and all their data problems.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Wall Street demands new money fix (Updated)

Update: It appears the Fed isn’t listening (Washington Post), good for them.

They’re at it again.

The Wall Streeters who made their money while hooked on “quantitative easing” (or QE, for short) – the fancy term for when the Federal Reserve sucks up a whole range of securities and turns them into dollars – are insisting the world will come to an end if they don’t get their next fix (New York Post).

…it could cost Americans another $1 trillion.

As Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen winds down the huge Quantitative Easing 3 program, an addicted Wall Street is looking for the same fix in liquidity — a lethal cocktail to prop up feeble markets.

Despite the Fed reducing its purchases by $10 billion monthly since July, it now holds more than five times the sum of securities it had before the financial crisis.

The balance sheet, which exceeds $4.4 trillion, is approaching the size of Japan’s gross domestic product.

Of course, Wall Street would love to see QE4: it props up bond prices (when bond rates are low, their prices are high), while shoving folks who aren’t lucky enough to be sitting on that paper into stocks in a desperate search for a return on their investment. Stock and bond prices rise all around, creating an asset bubble.

Never mind that this does nothing for actual economic growth. Never mind that it exacerbates wealth and income inequalities (which are a real problem when they are caused by rent-seeking behavior like this).

In effect, we are still seeing the after effects of the Panic of 2008. The economic correction that should have happened was avoided when Washington enacted TARP (and thus convinced Americans that all the banks were sick, rather than just some of them). The flip-side was the fear of a “credit crunch” that was actually caused by shocking the corruption out of the LIBOR rate – while rates that were based on actual transactions (rather than a manipulated survey) barely moved.

To be fair, the Fed actually sounded the alarm on LIBOR, only to be ignored by their British counterparts. Still, the fact is, this in an economic funk that was caused not by the private sector, but two governments (in Washington and London)…and one of them is still perpetuating the myth that got us here in the first place.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Europe embraces its collapse with carbon reduction requirement

As we careen toward Election Day, the rest of the world drones on. Across the Atlantic, the European Union has decided to try reducing carbon emissions by 40% over the next fifteen years. Anthony Watts thinks it’s nuts…

Eric Worrall writes: The European Union has just committed economic suicide, by agreement a landmark deal, to cut CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030.

Given that European emissions, by any rational measure, have been rising steadily, this would at first seem to be an impossible goal.

But anyone who is expecting a rational re-appraisal of European environment policy – don’t underestimate the blind determination of Europe’s green elite, to fulfill their dream of an emission free Europe. They will, in my opinion, happily bomb the European economy back into the stone age to achieve their ridiculous goal.

…and he’s not necessarily wrong. I do think, however, he needs to take into account the nature of the European economies. The Mediterranean nations are back on their…backs. France is slumping badly. Even Germany appears headed for recession (Open Europe). Yet the perverse quest for “ever closer union” continues in the EU.

So, the Eurocrats had two choices: acknowledge their grand political and economic experiment has been a bust, or embrace the collapse and try using it to achieve something politically correct.

Is it really a surprise which one they chose?

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Meanwhile, in Brazil…

This summer, most eyes were on Brazil for the World Cup. Far fewer noticed the uproar in the country over how badly the Brazilian government went through $11 billion to prepare for it. Once Brazil was embarrassingly bounced from the tournament by Germany, I felt that uproar would be a lot more important.

Well, yesterday, the Brazilian people had their say, and a leading opposition figure (Aecio Neves) scored a “surprise” surge to force a runoff in three weeks (CNN, BBC). Incumbent president Dilma Rousseff is considered the favorite, but Neves has already outperformed polling just to get to the runoff.

I humbly submit that the World Cup will prove to be Roussef’s undoing.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

What has the Democrats most upset at their party? Not social issues…

The Pew Research Center has a new poll out on how self-described Democrats and Republicans view their own parties on abortion, immigration, marriage, and spending. Most are focusing on the top line: namely, that we Republicans are more upset at our party than the Dems – across the board.

However, Pew did a little more digging about why Democrats and Republicans are upset at their parties (those who are). By far, the greatest source of frustration among Republicans is government spending: 48% think the party electeds don’t do enough to cut spending.

Now, here’s the kicker: the Democrats’ biggest source of frustration is the same thing. Thirty percent of Democrats think their elected officials don’t do enough to cut spending either.

In other words, the best shot the GOP has at winning over Democrats isn’t any social issue. It’s cutting government spending, the very thing that would most make upset Republicans happy.

The data speaks loud and clear. Let’s hope the GOP leadership is listening.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Meanwhile, Europe continues to fray at the edges

In the span of a couple of weeks, we are seeing three signs that Europe is falling into Yeats’ most well-known phrase (“Things fall apart; the center does not hold”).

The first took place in France, of all places. A recent IFOP poll revealed that Marine Le Pen, daughter of fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen and successor to him as leader of the Front National (FN), would “win” the first-round of the 2017 presidential election. She’d even defeat President Francois Hollande in the second round. To be fair, the poll also shows Hollande would not make the second round in any event; the center-right nominee would beat him to second place, and then go on to defeat Le Pen. However, that Le Pen has the strength reflected in the poll is a sign that her emphasis on getting France out of the eurozone is finding a hearing in what was – and still is – a core nation in the European Union.

Outside the eurozone, the nation that has long been the epitome of European sophistication and socialism – namely, Sweden – pitched out its center-right government (whose eight-year length in office was itself a modern record), yet the incoming left-wing coalition barely won any more votes than four years ago. The center-right government instead lost nearly 7% of the vote to the anti-establishment, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats (Coffee House). How the leftist coalition will survive this parliamentary session (four years) is anybody’s guess right now.

Finally, of course, there is Great Britian, which simply put, seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown (Coffee House). Scotland will vote Thursday on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom and form its own state again, and the polls are close enough that a panicked London is trying out plans to hand a slew of powers to the Scots if “No” wins. Already, pundits outside Scotland are wondering if the Kingdom’s leaders have gone mad (especially the acerbic yet side-splitting Dan Hodges).

Underlying all of the political quakes is a fault line right through the continent: the very battles between the elites and the common folks that run visibly through the Republican Party here (and, under the paper-thin loyalty to the president, through the Democrats as well). In Sweden, the center-right’s assumption that it can be more center than right has led to votes being bled to the Sweden Democrats. In the UK, the Tories are losing votes to UKIP in England, while Labour has bled Scottish voters to the Scottish Nationalist Party for so long that the UK itself might lose Scotland itself.

The lessons in Europe should be crystal clear for us here on our side of the Atlantic. Forty years ago, the idea of a right-wing populist party holding the balance of power in Sweden, the rise of a neo-fascist party on a euroskeptic platform in France, and Scotland leaving the United Kingdom were unthinkable nightmares. Today, two are reality, and the third may hit by the weekend. Who knows what disaster could face us in 2054…

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Bob McDonnell was a WHAT?!?!

Reactions to the Bob McDonnell verdict our pouring in, and there’s one in particular (from many of his defenders) that I find completely flabbergasting.

The ex-Governor’s defenders are calling him a “man of integrity.” My jaw hits the table each time I see that.

Folks, Bob McDonnell spent all of 2009 insisting he would not raise taxes. He blasted his opponent (Creigh Deeds) for even considering it, and rode the issue to a landslide win in November of that year.

In the last year of his term (as it happens, last year) he broke that promise in spectacular fashion, ramming through the largest tax increase in at least 40 years.

Even then, he skirted the truth. He insisted the tax hike was for relieving commuter congestion, but in fact his top priority was actually a parallel road to US 460 that wasn’t needed for traffic relief – and which the Army Corps of Engineers said he couldn’t build anyway (Bacon’s Rebellion).

So please, spare me the “man of integrity” nonsense. If you want to complain about the federal decision to prosecute McDonnell (as opposed to other Virginians) or the bizarre nature of the “honest service fraud” statute, that’s one thing.

But Bob McDonnell was no angel.

Cross-posted from the right-wing liberal

More on temperature data “adjustment”

Walter Dnes (WUWT) examined American temperature “adjustment” by the USHCN (United States Historical Climate Network), and found that said adjustments were not just annual, but monthly as well (i.e., different months were “adjusted” differently).

Among his more interesting findings…

  • Winter months were adjusted upward more so than summer months, since 1970 (it’s quite possible their could have been a correlation between average monthly temperature and adjustment, but Dnes didn’t examine that). Dnes noted that “talk about winters in the USA getting warmer may be an artifact of the adjustments.”
  • Since 1970, the adjustment slope in annual terms is over 1 degree Celsius. In other words, when anyone talks about warming over the last forty-plus years, 1C of it comes from humans alright – human manipulation of the data
  • Annual adjustment for the 1930s (the decade the gave us the Dust Bowl and the most massive dust storm in American history), were over half a degree Celsius downward. As Dnes notes, “one wonders if this an attempt to disappear the heat waves and droughts of ‘The Dirty Thirties’ in a manner similar to attempts to disappear the Medieval Warm Period. It’s hard to talk about ‘the hottest ever’, when there’s ‘inconvenient data’ around, showing that the 1930s were hotter.”
  • Since 1970, the number of actual data points for temperature has fallen. In fact, we have 20% fewer raw data points today than in 1970. Yet final data points are unchanged, meaning there’s quite a bit of estimated data, a problem I’ve discussed earlier.
  • From about 1895 to 1930, “final” data points are well above raw data points (in 1896, the raw data points were about half the number of final data points

There have been more than a few posts here on the various and sundry problems with temperature data thanks to global warming alarmists. Dnes’ analysis is just the latest example.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Dear Virginia Senate Republican Majority: Don’t mess it up again with another tax hike

With Ben Chafin’s election, it is now official. After seven months, the Republicans have a majority in the Virginia Senate once more. As one would expect, a number of my friends are crowing.

Unfortunately for me, recent political history is screaming in my ears. It makes my optimism about a fully Republican-controlled Virginia legislature extremely cautious.

For those unaware, the Republican Party first had a State Senate “majority” in 1998 (although the 21st vote was actually the Lieutenant Governor); they held it for ten years. This is the record of that decade…

  • Holding up budget amendments in an attempt to reverse the progress of the Gilmore car-tax cut (2001)
  • A referendum in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia for tax increases (2002 – thankfully rejected by the voters)
  • A proposed tax increase that was twice what Mark Warner wanted (2004)
  • A proposed gas tax increase (2006)
  • A proposed statewide tax increase in response to the HB3202 debacle (2007)
  • Enacting HB3202 anyway (2007)

Somehow, the party was shocked – shocked! - when voters showed them the door and returned the State Senate to the Democrats in November 2007 (on a night when those without a tax-stained record did quite well, thank you very much).

Four years later, after Governor Bob McDonnell won a landslide victory by promising not to raise taxes, the GOP managed another 20-20 split. Once again, the Lieutenant Governor give them control…and within a fifteen months, the Republican-controlled State Senate passed a McDonnell-proposed tax hike (known in this corner as Plan ’13 From Outer Space). The nominee to replace McDonnell – Ken Cuccinelli – tried to defend and oppose it at the same time.

Somehow, the party was shocked – shocked! - when voters showed the 2013 GOP ticket the door, which also put the State Senate back into the hands of the Democrats in January.

Now, Republicans have the 21st vote once more.

I sincerely hope that the party has learned its lesson…and not f*ck it up with yet another tax hike that reminds the voters why they took power away from them, repeatedly.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Memo to Chris Christie: We are watching the Shaneen Allen case…and you

As a native of New Jersey, I can say without reservation that its bizarre allergy to gun rights was one of the chief reasons I left. Radley Balko (Washington Post) has the details on the latest ridiculous example: Shaneen Allen, who brought her Pennsylvania-permitted gun into the Garden State, told authorities of it when pulled over for a traffic violation…and faces over 3 years in jail because New Jersey doesn’t give a damn what its fellow states think about gun permits.

As Balko notes, New Jersey – and its Governor, Chris Christie – have been down this road before with Brian Aitken, who was also prsecuted (that typo is a deliberate, a way to merge prosecuted and persecuted into one word) for this. The Governor commuted Aitken’s sentence. He has not acted at all on Allen, whose case has not yet come to trial.

For those interested, Aitken is white, and Allen is black…and Balko lays out a detailed and compelling case for why that makes a thoroughly unwarranted difference in these matters (WaPo again). Of course, gun control has been fueled by overt racism from the 1860s to the 1960s (and I’m doubting it really stopped there, what with Armed While Black still being a de facto crime as Balko details).

Meanwhile, Governor Christie is eyeing the presidential race…and should know that folks who care about gun rights are more than a little skeptical of him. He can go a long way toward alleviating those concerns – or reinforcing them to the point of keeping himself out of the White House – depending upon how he treats Shaneen Allen.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Obama’s immigration order threats mean Ex-Im Bank is probably dead

There has been a lot of speculation about the president ordering a mass de facto legalization of millions of unauthorized immigrants “by summer’s end” (Charles Krauthammer, NRO), and the possibility that he might just be hoping for an impeachment reaction, judging by Dan Pfeiffer’s reaction (Reid Epstein, Wall Street Journal). His fellow Democrats appear giddy just at the prospect of being able to defend the president from an impeachment effort (Reuters).

Most of the discussion regarding impeachment has revolved around whether it’s politically wise for Republicans to push it – and it’s not – while far fewer have asked if anyone really wants Joe Biden in the White House (and I guarantee that has a lot to do with why voters are leery of impeachment in general).

That said, I can’t help but noting that what the immigration-cum-impeachment strategy for the midterm elections tells us: namely, that the previous strategy – namely shutting down the government to preserve the Export-Import Bank – is dead, and the Bank itself likely will be, too.

The Democrats were hoping the Ex-Im gambit would divide Republicans and convince Chamber-of-Commerce types to fund Democrats instead. Of course, the plan had serious flaws: the Bank itself disappears on September 30, so on October 1 the Democrats will be trying to use the shutdown to change government policy; many leftist are scratching their heads about their party’s about-face on the corporatist Bank; and the Chamber types themselves are hardly unanimous on the wisdom of the Bank itself, let alone making it a priority.

By contrast, going “double I” means the Democrats can wake their base out of its current stupor while making Republicans look racist, out of touch with the American people, or both. It’s too good a narrative to foul up with the Bank of Boeing.

So I’m fairly optimistic that an executive order on immigration means the Export-Import Bank is on its way out.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Another TARP opponent survives

The victory of Pat Roberts (Republican U.S. Senator from Kansas) in his primary battle is reaffirming the conventional wisdom that “Establishment” Republicans are thwarting “Tea Party” challengers. As one may expect, I don’t automatically share that view. In fact, I think the Tea Party vs. Establishment meme misses the point.

Most would be surprised to see Roberts hit from the right, and one big reason is his vote against TARP (a.k.a. the bank bailout). This is the first chance for Kansas Republicans to weigh in post-TARP on whether Roberts should be the nominee. I find it telling that Roberts survived while TARP proponents like Eric Cantor did not.

Odds are the bailout vote was even more critical in Mississippi, where Thad Cochran (a No on TARP, despite my mistaken assumption) was able to limp into a runoff (and then a narrow if unorthodox victory) when a TARP backer likely would have gone down in flames.

Lest we forget, a large plurality of voters still blame Bush the Younger for the state of the economy…meaning TARP, contrary to popular belief in Washington, has not been forgotten.

Even Mr. Establishment Heavy himself – ex-Congressman and Defending Main Street PAC leader Steve LaTourette – was a No on TARP. That should tell us all something.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

The 2016 Republican nominee better have an alternative to Obamacare

There is a lot of discussion about the effects and wisdom of the Halbig decision, including some amusement at the site of a leading Obamacare architect turn himself into a rhetorical pretzel. However, one thing that has not really been addressed is the need to be serious about “repeal and replace.”

Republicans need to remember that if the Supreme Court actually follows the D.C. Circuit Court panel and knock down all subsidies in states that do not have their own exchanges, millions will find themselves with unaffordable health insurance – and likely go back to the ranks of the uninsured. When that happens, the GOP needs to be ready with an alternative health care reform plan that brings these people back into the insurance market, while reducing the effect of the government’s “invisible foot” in health care in general.

The earliest the Court will hand down a decision is the summer of 2015 (and it could be the summer of 2016). Either way, it will land somewhere in the presidential campaign, meaning the Republican candidate(s) need to spend some time addressing this issue, or get drowned out by the Democrats screaming, “Republicans ended the subsidies and deprived millions of health care just to score political points against Obama.”

Of course, there is plenty of space for right-of-center health care reform: ending the tax-favoritism towards group plans, breaking the AMA’s de facto monopoly on health care prices (handed to them by the federal government), addressing the health-care-provider shortage with supply side economic reforms specific to that industry, etc.

If the defeat of 2012 taught us anything (besides never nominated a TARP backer again), it taught us that an unpopular plan (Obamacare) still beats no plan (Romney’s complete lack of an alternative). The dynamics of a post-Halbig American will drive that lesson home even further. The Republican ticket in 2016 will either learn that lesson, or lament their defeat.

Cross-posted to RWL

Elizabeth Warren backs the Bank of Boeing

To her supporters, Senator Elizabeth Warren is a champion of the downtrodden and bane of the wealthy.

To those of us who know better, she’s a government-always-first leftist who is quite fine with helping the biggest and wealthiest corporations in America so long as the government grows.

We have the Heritage Foundation to thank for this. As Timothy Carney (Washington Examiner) pointed out, Heritage reached out to Warren to see if she would help them fight the Export-Import Bank. No dice: “Senator Warren believes that the Export-Import Bank helps create American jobs and spur economic growth.”

Never mind that so many of the products financed by the bank are intermediate products for foreign firms competing against Americans. Never mind that export subsidies are far and away the worst type of trade intervention for an economy. Never mind that the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting Office have laid waste to the arguments the Bank itself peddles (The Corner). Never mind the numerous examples of fraud (Daily Signal). Never mind that it is such a profit-padder for Boeing that it’s nickname is “the Bank of Boeing.”

Clearly, for Elizabeth Warren, some corporate welfare is better than others.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Did T-Mac just hand northern Arlington to the Republicans?

For obvious reasons, the more watched of the two special elections to take place on the 19th of August will be the State Senate election in Southwest Virginia. Control of the State Senate depends upon that outcome. However, the other race – for a House of Delegate seat in northern Arlington and (mostly) McLean – could provide an upset, thanks in no small part to Governor McAuliffe himself.

Late last week, the Guv decided to offer a financial lifeline to the problematic (and very controversial) Arlington trolley (Washington Post):

Virginia will increase state funding for the controversial Columbia Pike streetcar project by up to $65 million, the state transportation chief told officials in Arlington and Fairfax counties this week, allowing the streetcar line to be built at least a year faster and without federal funds.

Reaction to this has largely agreed with Norm Leahy‘s: “A less charitable view would say that the Governor’s office has done a solid for its folks in Arlington…” Except it’s not that simple.

The Columbia Pike trolley was a symbol of government incompetence and arrogance when John Vihstadt used it to break the Democrats’ monopoly on the County Board in last spring’s special election, and just in case anyone thought the issue had died down…(back to the WaPo):

Vihstadt said the state rushed to respond to the funding request that Fisette and Bulova made a month ago. “Had the Commonwealth done its homework, it would have learned that a modified form of bus rapid transit could be implemented much more cheaply, more quickly, with greater regional connectivity,” Vihstadt said in a statement.

Oops.

So how would this impact the 48th District special election? Well, for starters, the trolley would parallel Columbia Pike, which runs through southern Arlington. The 48th, by contrast, is anchored in northern Arlington, which would suffer the costs of the trolley without the benefits. Lest you, dear reader, think I’m reading too much into this, I went through the election data from the April special election, and found the following.

  • Overall results: Vihstadt (I, R-endorsed) 57%, Howze (D) 41%
  • Precincts in 48th District: Vihstadt 65%, Howze 35%

In fact, Vihstadt’s advantage in the 48th was nearly triple that outside it (55%-43%).

Meanwhile, Republican nominee David Foster “said his first order of business if elected would be to introduce legislation allowing voters in Arlington to hold a referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar project” (Inside Nova).

In other words, Governor T-Mac just dumped $65 million worth of fuel on a fire that has already burned local Democrats, and that Foster is making a key issue in the campaign.

Keep a close eye on northern Arlington, folks.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Egregious Ex-Im Deal of the Day

I basically copied and pasted the title from Veronique de Rugy, who got it herself from the Blog of the House Financial Services Committee – where Chairman Jeb Hensarling is leading the fight against the Export-Import Bank.

The Bank’s defenders insist that it’s all about helping American exporters, but they largely ignore the fact that most of the exports are intermediate products, which foreigners get with discounted loans from market rates. Thus, these firms have a leg up in competition against their American counterparts. The largest (and loudest) victim of this is Delta Airlines, which much compete with a slew of foreign airlines that get Ex-Im funded deals on Boeing airplanes that aren’t available to the American firm.

Lest anyone think this is the only example of Ex-Im run amok, the HFSC began daily highlights of the Bank’s loans. The first one was yesterday (I’m assuming they’ll continue on Monday). Here was the “Egregious Ex-Im Bank Deal of the Day” (HFSC, emphasis in original):

Hardworking American taxpayers, who are paying more for gas (“Gasoline prices at six-year high – AAA”) and “more for almost everything this year” (CNBC), might be wondering why President Obama refuses to approve the Keystone Pipeline but is using their tax dollars to finance foreign corporate welfare — like the nearly $5 billion in direct loans to help build a venture developed by Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company.

This is the same Saudi Aramco, by the way, that one report this week said is “pulling the rug out from under the U.S. gas industry” and has announced plans to spend its money to build 11 45,000-seat capacity stadiums by order of King Abdullah.

Here are the deal details:

In 2012, the Ex-Im Bank provided a record-breaking $4.975 billion in direct loans to help build Sadara Chemical Company, developed by the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco). Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia, is the world’s biggest oil company, with total assets reportedly in the trillions. – (Sources:  Export-Import Bank press release, 4/4/13:  “Sadara Chemical Company Transaction is Awarded Ex-Im Bank Deal of the Year”;Saudi AramcoForbesUniversity of Texas)

Please note the description of Saudi Aramco – the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia. Are we really supposed to believe that they needed Ex-Im’s help for financing?

Reminder: Senator Mark Warner joined all of his fellow Democrats in voting for the Ex-Im Bank’s reauthorization in 2012 (vote). His Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie, has called for it to be shut down.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Ed Gillespie says GOP “learned a lesson,” then proves it by opposing Ex-Im Bank

Roughly a month after he earned the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, Ed Gillespie – consummate Establishment man – spoke to Rick Sincere (a.k.a., the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner) about his campaign going forward. He addressed head on complaints about his former employer, President George W. Bush (emphasis added).

“The difference between Republicans and Democrats,” he told the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner at Claudius Crozet Park, “is, I think, Republicans have learned a lesson.”

Continuing, he noted that “the fact is, I agree that when Republicans had the House, the Senate, and the White House that we spent too much money.”

That experience from the first decade of the 21st century, he added, “pales in comparison to what the Democrats did when they got control of all three – the House, the Senate, and the White House – but that’s not enough.”

What was far more important, however, was Ed’s first example of a government program that needs to go:

One (program) that I have said already that I believe should not be reauthorized and doesn’t deserve to be continued in funding is the ExIm Bank.

If Gillespie has talked about winding down Ex-Im, I missed it, but that’s my problem, not Ed’s.

The point is this: Ed Gillespie’s willingness to put the “Bank of Boeing” on the chopping block is a sign he really has “learned a lesson” about the Republican Party’s mistakes. For a fellow of his Establishment pedigree to openly oppose the Bank is an excellent sign.

I had my concerns (driven by TARP) about Gillespie before the nomination, but he is the party standard bearer now, and more importantly, his opposition to Ex-Im reveals that he does indeed know the party needs to go in an anti-corporatist direction.

Good for him, good for the Republican Party, and very good for Virginia.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

What is happening with USHCN temperature data?

Over the weekend, what started as an argument among global warming skeptics became a dramatic indictment of temperature reporting from the United States Historic Climate Network.

Anthony Watts (Watts Up With That) and Judith Curry (Climate Etc.) provide the details on Steve Goddard’s initial attempt to claim that a large swath of temperature “raw” data was in fact estimations. Watts is particularly self-aware in acknowledging why he had trouble with Goddard’s assertions, while Curry ties it to the underlying data problems.

Both then get to the meat of the matter: Paul Homewood’s revelation that data in not one, but two locations were “adjusted” to create a warming trend of 1-2 degrees that never shows up in the actual data.

Meanwhile, Watts also reveals this stunner: as many as one in four stations “reporting” weather data are in fact shut down, and “reporting” estimated figures derived from neighboring – and in theory still operating – stations.

Curry – who does not consider herself a skeptic on global warming, but is rare in that she does not simply dismiss those who are – summed up with this is so important:

This incident is another one that challenges traditional notions of expertise. From a recent speech by President Obama:

“I mean, I’m not a scientist either, but I’ve got this guy, John Holdren, he’s a scientist,” Obama added to laughter. “I’ve got a bunch of scientists at NASA and I’ve got a bunch of scientists at EPA.”

Who all rely on the data prepared by his bunch of scientists at NOAA.

…and if that data is problematic, all of those scientists have a serious problem.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

New House Majority Leader: Kill Ex-Im Bank

The primary defeat of Eric Cantor continues to reverberate in unexpected ways, as his incoming successor as Majority Leader tells Fox News that he supports shutting down the Export-Import Bank (Washington Examiner):

On “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked McCarthy if he agrees with “conservatives who say that the Export-Import Bank is a form of crony capitalism and it should be put out of business — allowed to expire.”

McCarthy responded by tying Ex-Im to “one of the biggest problems with government,” using taxpayers’ “hard-earned money,” to do things the private sector can do. McCarthy supported Ex-Im’s reauthorization in 2012, but he argued on Fox News Sunday that this was a vote to “wind down the Ex-Im Bank.”

Wallace put the question more directly: “You would allow the Ex-Im Bank to expire in September?”

McCarthy immediately said “Yes. Because it’s something that the private sector can be able to do.”

That’s a dramatic change in view from Cantor, and a refreshing one. If McCarthy is serious about it (and that bizarre explanation for his 2012 vote should give us some pause), it would strike a strong blow against corporatism.

Ex-Im’s defenders have three months to save their special interest, and they will throw everything including the kitchen sink to do so. McCarthy’s stance is to be praised, and we should help him hold his newfound ground.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

The Virginia Medicaid battle is suspended, but not over

Based on the Richmond Times-Dispatch report, a budget deal is in sight (via Bull Elephant):

The Senate will convene Thursday to enact a two-year state budget that will have about $700 million less in new spending than when the General Assembly adjourned its regular session March 8 without approving a budget because of a bitter political battle over expanding health insurance coverage.

To hear Medicaid expansion backers tell it, everybody was willing to pass a “clean” budget, and came to that conclusion just last week. Never mind the whole Puckett resignation fracas. Take that as you will.

However, the battle over Medicaid expansion is not over. It will likely continue to be fought in the General Assembly (either in this special session or a new special session), and lest anyone forget, Medicaid expansion still has the support of 22 senators.

In other words, we need to continue to make the argument that Medicaid expansion is bad for the state, bad for taxpayers, and terrible for its would-be beneficiaries.

House Speaker Bill Howell et al have done decent work keeping this nonsense at bay so far. They deserve our thanks, but we also deserve, and expect, that they keep up the fight.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal