March 10, 2015 archive

Tuesday Night Techno


Republicans are drawing more and more of their support from an increasingly shrinking pool of White Males and Evangelical Christians.

This is why Rand Paul and his Libertarians (I really wish they had chosen a better self-identification like ‘Selfish Randian Nutjobs’ just as I wish Corporatist Democrats had used anything except ‘Liberal’ since they’re nothing but ‘Bootlicking Billionaire Courtiers’) are so important to the future of the Party because they’re the only ones in the room that don’t have a foot in the grave.

Likewise the impassioned debate about Immigration (where mainstream Business Republicans are eager to toady to their Masters who want cheap and easily exploitable Labor and which is being spun as ‘outreach’ to more socially conservative demographics)  and their Voter Suppression (about which there is hardly any debate).

They’re desperate and they know that they have a constantly declining ability to influence national policy before they literally die out.

Just so the NRA-

American gun ownership and hunting rates at record lows, survey says

Associated Press

Tuesday 10 March 2015 10.48 EDT

The number of Americans who live in a household with at least one gun is lower than it’s ever been, according to a major American trend survey that finds the decline in gun ownership is paralleled by a reduction in the number of Americans who hunt.

According to the latest General Social Survey, 32% of Americans either own a firearm themselves or live with someone who does, which ties a record low set in 2010. That’s a significant decline since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when about half of Americans told researchers there was a gun in their household.

The drop in the number of Americans who own a gun or live in a household with one is probably linked to a decline in the popularity of hunting, from 32% who said they lived in a household with at least one hunter in 1977 to less than half that number now.

(Guns) are concentrated in fewer hands than they were in the 1980s, the General Social Survey finds. The 2014 poll finds that 22% of Americans own a firearm, down from a high of 31% who said so in 1985.

The survey also finds a shrinking gender gap in personal firearm ownership as a result of a decline in the percentage of men who own one, from 50% in 1980 to 35% in 2014.

Maximalist Second Amendment advocacy is a failing ideology and as with Marriage Equality and Cannabis Prohibition you could see a rapid evolution in attitudes in a very short time.

And they know that this ground, once lost, will never be theirs again.

Illinois Burning

Energy Superpower Ambitions of US and Canada

America is literally on fire: How out-of-control oil spills are destroying our population centers

David Dayen, Salon

Tuesday, Mar 10, 2015 06:30 AM EST

It’s a good bet that someplace in North America is on fire right now, raging so out of control that officials have to let it burn itself out. And it happened because highly flammable oil was placed on a train for shipping, and something went drastically wrong. Because so much oil is transported by rail these days, the probabilities of catastrophe have elevated significantly. We haven’t ruined a major population center yet only through dumb luck; and we haven’t cracked down on this treacherous practice only because of the enormous power of the industry.

Those who respond to oil train derailments by claiming that the Keystone XL pipeline would solve the problem neglect the fact that a pipeline would not be able to carry even half of what flows from the Bakken region. More important, because of the collapse in oil prices, new infrastructure like a pipeline has ceased to make economic sense, relative to the existing infrastructure of transporting by rail.

Perhaps the scariest part of all of this is the perilous financial state of the oil industry today, which if anything will increase the danger. Energy companies are rapidly going bankrupt, as they cannot service debt with lower oil revenue. Companies on the edge will have to cut costs to keep afloat, and when costs are at issue, traditionally safety goes out the window.

According to a report in Reuters, the White House considered a provision to remove these volatile gases (known in the industry as “light ends”), but ultimately punted, letting North Dakota rules govern. Federal officials were concerned about their jurisdiction to dictate treatment of light ends. But critics believe the federal government relying on North Dakota – a conservative state not exactly known for its strict adherence to regulations – increases the risk of shipping oil by rail. That’s especially concerning when you consider that the trains travel all across the country, and that some Bakken shale comes from neighboring states like Montana. For their part, the White House denied they held off on improving oil train safety.

Increased domestic oil production is always depicted as an unalloyed good, with no discussion of the costs, like turning trains into bombs nationwide. There’s reason to believe that no tank car is safe enough to carry something this volatile, and that the risks exceed what the public should reasonably bear. DoT has nonchalantly predicted 10 derailments a year on oil trains, with billions in damages. If anything that’s an underestimate.

One reason the planet continues to boil is that oil companies have been allowed to externalize their costs onto government. Oil appears “cheaper” than solar or wind, because these costs never come into account. But solar power doesn’t blow up while being carried through a major city on a train. And if we want to seriously talk about what kind of energy we can afford in the future, that has to enter the conversation.


TBC: Morning Musing 3.10.15

I have 4 articles for you this morning – 3 related and the last one just an interesting one.

First, in the wake of the ill advised slap by inviting Bibi to Congress, this is what the GOP Senators did now, pretty much in violation of the Logan Act, not that they’ll be called on it:

Backstabbing Republicans Publish Open Letter To Iran Undermining Negotiations

I am once again shocked, but not surprised, at the lengths Republicans will go to to undermine the President of the United States while he is conducting negotiations with the government of a foreign country.

link to the letter


On This Day In History March 10

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 10 is the 69th day of the year (70th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 296 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1959, Tibetans band together in revolt, surrounding the summer palace of the Dalai Lama in defiance of Chinese occupation forces.

China’s occupation of Tibet began nearly a decade before, in October 1950, when troops from its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invaded the country, barely one year after the Communists gained full control of mainland China. The Tibetan government gave into Chinese pressure the following year, signing a treaty that ensured the power of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the country’s spiritual leader, over Tibet’s domestic affairs. Resistance to the Chinese occupation built steadily over the next several years, including a revolt in several areas of eastern Tibet in 1956. By December 1958, rebellion was simmering in Lhasa, the capital, and the PLA command threatened to bomb the city if order was not maintained.

Lhasa Rebellion

On 1 March 1959, an unusual invitation to attend a theatrical performance at the Chinese military headquarters outside Lhasa was extended to the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama, at the time studying for his lharampa geshe degree, initially postponed the meeting, but the date was eventually set for 10 March. On 9 March, the head of the Dalai Lama’s bodyguard was visited by Chinese army officers. The officers insisted that the Dalai Lama would not be accompanied by his traditional armed escort to the performance, and that no public ceremony for the Dalai Lama’s procession from the palace to the camp should take place, counter to tradition.

According to historian Tsering Shakya, the Chinese government was pressuring the Dalai Lama to attend the People’s Congress in April 1959, in order to repair China’s image with relation to ethnic minorities after the Khampa’s rebellion. On 7 February 1959, a significant day on the Tibetan calendar, the Dalai Lama attended a religious dance, after which the acting representative in Tibet, Tan Guansan, offered the Dalai Lama a chance to see a performance from a dance troupe native to Lhasa at the Norbulingka to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s completion of his lharampa geshe degree. According to the Dalai Lama’s memoirs, the Dalai Lama agreed, but said that the Norbulingka did not have the facilities, and suggested the new auditorium in the PLA headquarters in Lhasa as a more appropriate venue. Neither the Kashag nor the Dalai Lama’s bodyguards were informed of the Dalai Lama’s plans until Chinese officials briefed them on 9 March, one day before the performance was scheduled, and insisted that they would handle the Dalai Lama’s security. Some members of the Kashag were alarmed that were not also invited to lead a customary armed procession, recalling a prophecy that told that the Dalai Lama should not exit his palace.

According to historian Tsering Shakya, some Tibetan government officials feared that plans were being laid for a Chinese abduction of the Dalai Lama, and spread word to that effect amongst the inhabitants of Lhasa. On 10 March, several thousand Tibetans surrounded the Dalai Lama’s palace to prevent him from leaving or being removed. The huge crowd had gathered in response to a rumor that the Chinese communists were planning to arrest the Dalai Lama when he went to a cultural performance at the PLA’s headquarters. This marked the beginning of the uprising in Lhasa, though Chinese forces had skirmished with guerrillas outside the city in December of the previous year. Although CCP offcials insisted that the “reactionary upper stratum” in Lhasa was responsible for the rumor, there is no way to identify the precise source. At first, the violence was directed at Tibetan officials perceived not to have protected the Dalai Lama or to be pro-Chinese; attacks on Hans started later. One of the first casualties of mob was a senior lama, Pagbalha Soinam Gyamco, who worked with the PRC as a member of the Preparatory Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, who was killed and his body dragged by a horse in front of the crowd for two kilometres.

On 12 March, protesters appeared in the streets of Lhasa declaring Tibet’s independence. Barricades went up on the streets of Lhasa, and Chinese and Tibetan rebel forces began to fortify positions within and around Lhasa in preparation for conflict. A petition of support for the armed rebels outside the city was taken up, and an appeal for assistance was made to the Indian consul. Chinese and Tibetan troops continued moving into position over the next several days, with Chinese artillery pieces being deployed within range of the Dalai Lama’s summer palace, the Norbulingka. On 15 March, preparations for the Dalai Lama’s evacuation from the city were set in motion, with Tibetan troops being employed to secure an escape route from Lhasa. On 17 March, two artillery shells landed near the Dalai Lama’s palace, triggering his flight into exile. On 19 March the Chinese started to shell the Norbulingka, prompting the full force of the Uprising. According to the freetibet website, on 21 March 800 shells rained down on the palace, including the shelling of the Norbulingka and Lhasa’s major monasteries, slaughtering thousands of Tibetan men, women and children. Combat lasted only about two days, with Tibetan rebel forces being badly outnumbered and poorly armed.

Late Night Karaoke

The Daily/Nightly Show (Selma)

Acting Out

Consumer Accountability is tonight’s topic and as near as I can tell from quick Google News scan it refers to the effort by Health Insurers in particular to blame you, as the customer, for making actual Health Care too expensive for them by not shopping well enough for Emergency Rooms while you’re bleeding out.

There is a larger penumbra of references to other ways Corporations are trying to make the purchasers of their products and services responsible when the Companies screw up and deliver defective goods.  Apparently it’s based on the Libertarian idea that bad Companies will eventually be forced to improve their practices because informed consumers will shop elsewhere and it’s your own damn fault if you are maimed by a poorly engineered air bag because every expert automotive engineer knows about that problem so you are either a) too lazy to do your research, b) too stupid to understand it, or c) too cheap to buy a car with a good one.

And probably all three.

Of course, it may mean something else entirely.



This Week’s Guests-

What can you say about John Lewis?  The man is a Giant of the Civil Rights Movement

At the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church

“Still Work to Be Done”: Rep. John Lewis Returns to Selma 50 Years After He Was Beaten Unconscious, Democracy Now

Well, maybe this- he’s drafted a bill to correct the misguided Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.  It has only 2 Republican Sponsors in the House, Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Gibson of New York (and but a paltry few Democrats) and none at all in the Senate.

The real news below.