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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

Journal Archives

No. There's no danger in finding points of agreement.

That is a specious proposal, like blackballing playwrights for being Commie sympathizers.

"Look out! That person's dogma is unclean!"


No one is an ideological robot with secret programming you can uncover. And no ideology is 100% clear or consistent across the board.

So the whole game of shooting something down because a Paul family member agrees with it, on the theory that the Paul family has a lot of stupid ideas, or the mangled vision of Libertarianism some people claim to embrace is terrible, is a disingenuous premise from the beginning.

There are Republicans that are occasionally right about something across ideological lines. There are Democrats who are wrong.

No one's magically correct or incorrect because of the supposed point of view they may or may not fully embrace, which people may or may not even agree upon in the first place.

This has been applied in a particularly putrid way with the Snowden / NSA battles here on DU, and I notice the cross-posted material goes out of its way to bring that up.

The only thing that makes sense is to discuss the viability of ideas and policy on their own. No one is the Keeper of the True Faith. No one is an apostate or heretic.

No one is wrong about one thing because they're wrong about something else.

Sorry, Rand and Ron can be racists, and free-market morons, and crypto-anti-reproductive rights-ians, and still be right that the NSA overstepped its bounds or that the U.S. should stay of out needless wars in the Middle East. No one has to embrace the rest of their bullshit to clock them or anyone else being right about something.

If you don't acknowledge that, you're just asking people to engage in mindless partisan head-butting until the the end of time. We'd be stuck agreeing with every Democrat who's wrong and fighting everyone else, no matter what.

Yes. No one else thinks that guns = freedom.

That is not what the Second Amendment was about. It was not the way things were in the past. It is not the way other freedom-loving democracies think about weaponry. NO ONE thinks guns are supposed to be a hedge against government you don't like or cultural influences that frighten you. A religion has been created in our country for the express purpose of selling huge amounts of firearms. It is a fundamentalist religion, and it recognizes no moderation and brooks no dissent.

And already we are seeing what the practitioners envision for our future. You can stalk and harass a kid until he fights you, and shoot him. You can fight about cellphones in the theater, leave, get a gun, come back, and shoot the person if they shake their popcorn too "threateningly." Rap music too loud? Gun. You can get a bunch of friends together and draw down on federal law enforcement from sniper positions, and set up checkpoints, over some COWS.

We have a crazy cult of violence and death brewing here, and at some point we're going to need to do something about it.

Sooner would probably be better than later.

This is what the NRA stands for now.

Edgy, entitled white guys, strutting around armed, saying "What are you afraid of, haw haw?"

Liberals use protests and argument and peaceful resistance to apply political pressure. Rightwingers and corporations want to use guns. It's not anything other than that. It's not personal responsibility or home defense or what the founding fathers intended.

It's a scheme to sell more guns and to reclaim power by a dwindling minority, and it has the full support of interests which believe their money, along with the these dipshits' guns, should run the country.

They want to reel in civilization a few hundred years; make everyone question whether we really have a government and the rule of law. Maybe no one has to pay taxes, if there are enough guns. Maybe just people without guns need to pay.

Maybe a rancher or a mine owner gets to say what the law is. And hey, maybe slavery isn't completely off the table either. Did we really settle that, if you can set up armed camps and checkpoints, and dare "the feds" to do something over some COWS?

Next time maybe they'll rally around some poor mine owner defending his right to pollute from the commies in the EPA.

The NRA is selling this. Not target shooting or hunting or "responsible gun ownership." They are selling a paramilitary fantasy of physical threats to "government," which they have painted as the enemy. They are winding up some very confused, agitated people into a violent frenzy, for fun and profit.

And we are letting them.

Yes, we've heard the industry argument. It's ALEC bullshit.

There's no evidence the poor utility companies, with their community-permitted monopolies, are unable to collect enough revenue to maintain infrastructure due to grid-tied solar. This is something they are saying in order to dis-incentivize the growth of rooftop solar, which will eventually reduce the demand for coal, etc. It sounds vaguely logical out of context, but no factual support is offered for this proposition, and of course all the other cost benefits of rooftop solar are completely discounted.

It's a dishonest rationale.

For example, what about the infrastructure savings due to people producing part of the power they use? Enough of those, and you're going to need fewer substations, or even fewer power plants.

What about the reduced cost of transmission when power is generated closest to the source of use?

And what about the fact that we need as much incentive for additional solar power as possible? The goal is not to keep utility companies in exactly the same posture they have always been in. That is just not going to be possible, unless they want to jump in and invest.

Net metering of rooftop solar creates value for society and the utility. Every dollar invested by Arizona Public Service (APS), the state’s dominant utility, in its net metering program will earn it $1.54, according to a new cost-benefit analysis of Arizona solar.

Ancillary Services and Capacity Reserves: Distributed solar reduces the APS peak load. Utilities are required to maintain operating reserves of 7 percent and capacity reserves of 15 percent. For each kilowatt cut from peak demand, the cost of maintaining reserves is reduced.

Transmission: Distributed solar defers the cost of new and renovated transmission infrastructure. “Escalating these avoided transmission and sub-transmission costs to 2014 and using the current APS carrying charge of 11.05 percent for transmission yields a levelized avoided transmission cost of $65.14 per kilowatt-year.”

Distribution: Distributed solar can also cut the costs of building and maintaining the distribution system. The Beck study valued the reductions at “$115,000 per megawatt of distributed generation.”


And yes, the Kochs care. Reduced use of fossil fuels threatens coal. They care about coal. A lot. Obviously it's not just them. Punishing net-metering is ALEC's newest pet legislation.

The battle in Arizona between solar users and the public utility APS and a mysterious, multi-million-dollar ad-producing group called "60-plus," is instructive:

Early on, APS said with a straight face that they were not funding or running the TV ads, pointing out that they were produced by a nonprofit organization called 60 Plus. But reporters kept digging and eventually APS came clean, even though their spokesperson said they "had no intention of telling a lie to anybody." But that's what you fucking did!

And just who is 60 Plus? Turns out, says Mother Jones, in addition to APS funding they're another not-so-transparent shell for the Koch brothers to funnel money to.

The 60 Plus Association, a Virginia-based nonprofit, has received money from the Koch brothers' donor network.... What's more, APS told the [Arizona] Republic that it had given that money through Sean Noble, a political consultant described in a recent Huffington Post story as "the wizard behind the screen" for the Koch donor network's activities in 2012.


In the latest attempt to rollback pro-clean energy policies, fossil fuel and utility interests operating through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are proposing new model legislation to slow the rise of the clean energy industry by weakening net metering policies. ALEC released the new model language on their website prior to the group's "States and Nation Policy Summit" scheduled for early December. If passed, the "Updating Net Metering Policies Resolution" would be sent to nearly 2,000 state legislator members of ALEC around the country.


Brother vs. brother? Seriously?

Wow is this situation ever completely not like Cuba or Vietnam or Cambodia, or the Civil War, or any other real fight between real opposing forces.

Dealing with a few racist yahoos or tax protesters isn't a "war."

Militia nuts don't have that kind of ubiquity or power. They're the same handful of paranoid right-wingers we had when Clinton was in office. They put on $3,000 worth of tactical gear, and they fantasize about taking down "the feds." Or the minorities. Or the tax collector. Whatever wad of crazy they're chewing on. Sometimes they mix a few together.

THEY fantasize that everyone will stop in awe of their patriotism and lay down arms at their feet or whatever, but that's not an actual thing that might happen.

Because they don't have an actual cause. They think the U.N. is coming to take them to FEMA death camps in black helicopters, and you don't have to pay taxes if your name isn't written in all capital letters. That kind of thing.

This was about COWS.

Dangerous? Of course. Witness the plan to put the women up front so they'd be killed first. They've got all kinda "plans," these geniuses. Cowardly, violent ones. They're definitely willing to hurt people.

But it's not an "insurgency," nor are there so many kooks in these militia groups that taking them down would require "brother vs. brother."

They will pull something stupid and they will go to jail, or they will fight and they will lose.

Could it be ... entitlement?

Which is exactly their argument. It's "their" country, so everybody better watch and not make them mad, or people will be killed.

Liberals have won on every social issue, going back to slavery. And going back to slavery is the resentment of people who feel their geographic isolation or their heritage or their race or religion should be a ticket to some kind of superiority. And if it isn't, a violent, bloody tantrum will be thrown. School girls blown up. Clinics and clubs attacked. People dragged behind cars and sniped from the hills.

This is a deep cultural problem, and it's tied into a lot of other problems. The NRA sells this mindset in its newsletter. Miles and miles of tactical gear and combat style weaponry, lightly leavened with a few insane screeds about the power-mad (and suspiciously dark-skinned) Democrat in the White House. We went through a similar tantrum when Clinton was in office. Then nothing, until Obama.

As someone elsewhere pointed out, we need to be leery of these types hooking up with their likewise entitled bretheren in the economic elite. We've already seen black-rifled goons in boonie hats and camo gear guarding mining sites.

It's an ugly, leering threat, and it has everything to do with a perceived loss of cultural dominance going right back to slavery. To them, every minority group that gains some semblance of equality is a direct theft from them. Every liberal protest is a foreign commie threat.

And it's all enabled by the existence of a centralized federal government, which in their minds would work better as a loose affiliation of rural fiefdoms, where their preferred colors and creeds can be enforced with violence. Just like in the good old days.

They ARE terrorists, and while avoiding bloodshed is always the goal, we cannot afford to walk away from a bunch of self-styled guerrillas who think pointing rifles at federal cops over a few cows is a nice way to spend the weekend.

Where is Homeland Security, so busy tracking Occupiers and coming down with the force of a thousand hammers where a bank window was broken or a financial district's traffic flow was threatened? Where is the bear mace and the riot shields and multi-agency task force?

Apparently a lot of idealistic kids with laptops and a compelling idea is a more important threat to more important people than armed militias openly calling for murder. It certainly makes an easier target.

^An excellent nutshell for the whole thing. I hope everyone reads it.

Obsessing over personalities and motives is destructive and beside the point.

Do we, or do we not, as liberals, progressives, and Democrats, think the surveillance state that has exploded since 9/11, is too opaque, lacking in informed, responsible oversight, and pursuing an egregious overreaching, particularly in the realm of digital information?

Do we support the idea of "whistleblowing" by insiders where legal means to reveal government wrongdoing are blocked?

If so, do we change our positions on these things based on whether we "like" the whistleblower, whether it potentially embarrasses a Democrat, or whether we suspect the person in question has personality issues or ideologies not exactly like our own?

It seems like what ought to matter is the truth. Did we gain something here? Are we asking questions long overdue? Are we pursuing reform as a result? Looks to me like we are. On the other hand was "America" harmed in some way if political embarrassment does NOT count?

If the argument here is that Snowden, Greenwald, et al, are political opponents of Democrats or the President, what is the relevance to all of the above? It's not as though the effect of all of this was primarily anti Democrat or anti-democratic. Rightwingers in our country are not coming at Dems on the basis of the NSA scandal. Republicans love the surveillance state. It's full of money and power and secrecy. Those are their hallmarks, not ours.

This type of whistleblowing is absolutely on our side of the fence, or at least it has been traditionally. But we're supposed to forget all that and circle the wagons because we suspect Snowden's motives? What kind of people are we if our priorities begin and end with not what people do, but who they ARE, or who we say they are? That's a rightwing attitude. Stealing's not stealing if you're a big bank. Lying's not lying if you're in politics. Spy agencies run amok get swept under the rug when our guy's in the Whitehouse.

I'd care about motives if it looked like Snowden was trying to really screw U.S. security. There is no evidence of that. This is not the way that is done. It would have been infinitely easier to disappear with that thumb drive without saying word or contacting the press. It could have been traded for a mountain of cash instead of a life on the run. And there are far unfriendlier and more extremely political mass media figures than Greenwald or the Guardian to partner with.

If we really care about Democratic politics and leadership, we should be obsessed with standing for what we say we do, not with whose ox gets gored in the process.

How about when lenders did the lying themselves?


Behold: JP Morgan Chase's "Zippy Cheats and Tricks" memo.

Explaining how to trick their own underwriting software into approving loans that were bad *by their own standards*

Try these handy steps to get SISA findings . . .

1) In the income section of your 1003, make sure you input all income in base income. DO NOT break it down by overtime, commissions or bonus.

2) NO GIFT FUNDS! If your borrower is getting a gift, add it to a bank account along with the rest of the assets. Be sure to remove any mention of gift funds on the rest of your 1003.

3) If you do not get Stated/Stated, try resubmitting with slightly higher income.
Inch it up $500 to see if you can get the findings you want. Do the same for assets.

It's super easy! Give it a try!
If you get stuck, call me . . . I am happy to help!

Besides pressuring rating agencies to falsely classify mortgage backed securities as AA, besides selling them to pension funds and government agencies, besides standing before regulators and swearing only THEY could properly regulate derivatives, lenders literally gave loans THEY KNEW WERE NO GOOD, because they weren't keeping them. Into the subprime blender they went, and out popped valuable financial instruments.

It's true the fraud was systemic, but in places it was acute and overt, and the message that has been sent is exactly the one Wall Street wanted -- when big money steals, it's not a crime.

No. Enron was not a bigger crime.

Easier to prosecute? Definitely. But not more egregious and not by a thousand percent as damaging an example of law breaking and willful malfeasance than the suprime / housing bubble collapse and all its associated shenanigans.

There was crime, and fraud on a massive scale, and much more could and should have been done, going well back into the Bush years.

I'd say both administrations failed catastrophically in that regard. But tossing Taibbi under the partisan bus because he dared to point out something everyone knows -- that efforts by anyone to bring anyone to account for any of this have been pitiful -- does not hold up to scrutiny for good faith.

Here's some of Taibbi's excellent work on a civil trial illustrating just one area of fraud going on throughout the mortgage crisis:


In reality, of course, the subprime bubble exploded because financial companies and banks were in a mad rush to get as many iffy borrowers into loans as quickly as possible – and not because they were forced to, but because they made assloads of money doing so.

( snip )

Just to give one example, Household had a particularly disgusting scam going – they called it the "EZ Pay Plan."

In it, customers were urged to junk their old (and presumably safe) mortgages and switch to a new Household Refinance plan that would be both more expensive and more dangerous, using a little sleight of hand. Among other things, they told customers they could save money and reduce their interest rate by switching from a monthly payment plan to a biweekly payment plan.

There were two things going on here. One – and this is so sleazy it's almost funny – by getting customers to make payments biweekly instead of monthly, they would essentially box borrowers into making an extra payment every year (remember, there are 52 weeks in a year). The other is that the company was using word games to try to tell people they would be paying lower rates, when in fact they would not be.

One example of the fraud perpetrated on borrowers with predatory practices. We did a little a better, unsurprisingly, at prosecuting fraud against investors.

If anything, the problem with punishing anyone was that the entire subprime system became a whirling cesspool of ever-more-egregious scams. Sure, de-regulation got the ball rolling, but there are enough facts and perpetrators out there that we could have done infinitely more in terms of punishing actual crime.

The point is we missed a VERY LOW bar.

The banking crisis was far more egregious, far more duplicitous, far more damaging, and equally as obvious as the handful of corporate disasters that fell in Bush's lap.

And what has changed? Who went to jail? Some fishmongers in NY?

We didn't close the barn door after the horses escaped, we gave them a carrot and a friendly slap on the backside on their way by. We appointed them to the cabinet.

Whether that fact is unacceptably offensive to people who wrongly believe our only job as Democrats is to try spin all the facts in the world in favor of the current President is pretty irrelevant.

A bad job was done. Far bigger crimes than Enron went on, and continue to go on, and we had the White House, and Jack and Spit have been done about it.

WE have responsibility here. And that includes "our" guy in the White House.
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