Privatize The Gains, Socialize The Losses

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the richest governor in America, has been working to make his family business even richer, and the rest of us poorer, according to The Tennesseean:

After taking office, Gov. Bill Haslam reconstituted an obscure board that enforces environmental rules for the industry that helped make him the richest elected official in America.

Since then, the Underground Storage Tank and Solid Waste Disposal Control Board has taken steps to shift the financial burden of cleaning up toxic spills at gas stations and truck stops from business owners to taxpayers.

The 14-member board, 12 of whom are appointed by the governor, sets rules for the $50 million environmental fund overseen by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, or TDEC. The fund has been paying to clean up spills since 1990. It is financed by a combination of a gas tax paid by consumers at the pump and an annual fee paid by owners of petroleum tanks.

Since the board has been reconfigured, members representing consumers have been eliminated.

The board, which retained its four petroleum industry members, has voted in favor of a resolution to increase the state dollars available to private companies for environmental spills caused by failures or accidents from $1 million to $2 million. That became law in 2015.

This year, a new law gives the board the power to give all gas stations and truck stops a big break — suspending their annual fees to the cleanup fund entirely. Some board members have signaled their support for eliminating those fees this year — despite hearing from the man in charge of the state’s underground storage tank program that a “historically high burden of this funding has shifted onto the public.”

Suspending the industry’s financial contributions would leave taxpayers, who haven’t gotten the same breaks as gas stations and truck stops, bearing full financial responsibility for toxic spills.

Surpriiiise, surpriiise!

This isn’t the first time Gov. Haslam has used his position to enrich his crooked family business. But … blind trusts, yada yada.

And I know my conservative friends are going to say, “But wait, Beale, those costs get handed down to consumers anyway,” after all, isn’t that what they always say? Isn’t that the whole point of “deregulation” and the glorious, unfettered free hand of the market and all that crap? The thing is, the costs don’t get passed down to consumers on a dollar for dollar basis, there is only so much of this “passing on to consumers” that the market can bear.

And this is the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats believe in making industry pay for the damage they cause. If you pollute, you pay. If you make a mess, you clean it up. If your underground storage tanks are leaking, you fix it, and you fix the mess you made. It’s like kindergarten, people. Easy-peasy.

Republicans think that’s so unfair, you guys! Republicans believe that their rich friends should be allowed to do whatever they want, and let the chips fall where they may. Because they think that when they prosper, everyone prospers. It “trickles down,” don’tcha know. They still believe that nonsense!

Meanwhile, the only thing trickling down is polluted ground water and contaminated soil. But what do they care? They live in their gated communities with the private water source and they jet off to Aspen and Europe and all that, where they don’t have to live with the mess they create. They aren’t really affected, are they? It’s not their groundwater, is it? It’s yours! If you want it to be clean, you pay for it! That’s what they believe.

They are truly horrible people.


Filed under Housekeeping

On The Road

I’m on the road. Saw this guy:

RW Trump Guy copy

This was in Dothan, Alabama. A place I’ve actually been to many times before, even spent a few days here. I don’t remember Dothan being so over the top wingnutty. And yes, I get the Florida plates on this vehicle, but I’m talking about a gun shop literally on every street corner. And of course, there’s a gun & knife show appearing at the National Peanut Festival grounds soon. This has to be the most gun-centric city in the nation.


Filed under travel

A New Generation Of Dirty Tricksters

Looks like we have another James O’Keefe wannabe:

The young volunteer seemed like any other when she stepped out of her white pickup and into a campaign field office for Russ Feingold’s Senate campaign in Wisconsin on Monday. She said she was a recent transplant from Minnesota, where she claimed she had done phone-banking for Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken. She later declared an interest in women’s health, the environment, and labor issues. On a nondisclosure agreement with the campaign, the blonde woman signed her name as “Allison Moss,” and pledged not to share the campaign’s proprietary data and confidential information private.

But when the Feingold campaign tried to vet its latest recruit—standard practice in the age of opposition research—they could find no record of an ‘Allison Moss.’ A Facebook search revealed an account created days before. Her phone number was registered with a New York area code. Her photo matched those of an activist, Allison Maass, caught last year trying to infiltrate the offices of the Hillary Clinton campaign in Iowa.

“I really like, like, women’s health, the environment, that’s something that I’m passionate about,” ‘Moss’ told a campaign staffer when interviewed about her political interests when she returned to the offices Tuesday. “I know in Wisconsin, it’s a big thing, like, union rights, worker’s rights, it’s such a big thing and something that it’s like sad that people in Wisconsin have to fight for stuff like that but Scott Walker has made it just so hard for them.”

Turns out Allison Maass is part of a right-wing ratfucking group called Campus Reform:


Campus Reform is itself an education-oriented offshoot of the right-wing Leadership Institute, the same conservative mill which produced James O’Keefe.

The conservative hydra has so many tentacles, all trying to influence public opinion and manipulate the media. I find it almost funny. Here are some of Allison Maass’ “hot scoops” when she wrote for Campus Reform: “SCSU philosophy professor charged with smuggling rhino horns and elephant ivory,” “U of M Duluth adds LGBTQ minor, gender-inclusive housing,” “Univ. of Minnesota hosts golden condom scavenger hunt,” and”Students protest Redskins name, call fans ‘bigots’ at Sunday’s game.” Oooooh! Seriously?

I can’t imagine what she hoped to find at the campaign offices of Russ Feingold. Artisanal muffins in the break room? Failure to recycle the copy paper? Or perhaps she planned to secretly record a staff meeting, where someone suggested something stupid (as often happens in staff meetings). The idea, no doubt, being to “win the morning” by broadcasting someone’s boneheaded idea to use a candidates’ religion or lack of religion against them in a supreme “gotcha” moment. /eyeroll

I really don’t get these tactics. Seems to require a lot of investment for very little return. And hey, it’s not as if campaigns haven’t figured out that they’re being targeted. Gosh, I’m so old, I remember when dirty tricks extended to dumping bogus “campaign flyers” in the trash, and then pretending to be shocked when they’re “found.” Or dressing your son up as a “union thug” who “snatches” a campaign sign from your little girl, who then turns on the waterworks for the cameras.

Aren’t we all a little too savvy for this nonsense these days?


Filed under 2016 Election, conservatives

When Your RW Media Bubble Backfires

It’s a matter of course that every election, Republican politicians will complain about the “liberal media” being unfair to them. In fact, it’s so ingrained in the conservative zeitgeist that the media is “liberal” and therefore “bad” that years and years ago they were inspired to launch their own “conservative” alternatives. And all was well and good, until it wasn’t. Because conservative spin which is factually wrong doesn’t help conservatives. In the long run, it hurts them.

Those chickens have been coming home to roost for quite a while now, creating an increasingly embarrassing fail parade for the Republican Party. The conservative echo chamber gave rise to the Tea Party, it gave us climate change denialism and birtherism and Sarah Palin and Clint Eastwood yelling at an empty chair representing the right’s fantasy Obama. It gave us “unskewed polls” and Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich going on national TV to explain how Mitt Romney was going to win in 2012, guaranteed. And it gave us the embarrassment that is Donald Trump.

And it’s this last bit which has finally woken some folks on the right up. Not just the National Review, which recently ran a column about how the conservative echo chamber hurts conservatives (though even this piece seems to have missed the point a bit), but right-wing radio hosts like Charlie Sykes of Wisconsin, who was interviewed by Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy and made this very astute observation:


You know, sometimes facts do have a liberal bias. And when you demonize all of your fact-checkers, your “gatekeepers,” you’ve basically normalized the tin-foil hat conspiracy theories and other nonsense. These are your new facts, and you are as married to them as your audience is because you have no other way of rebutting it. You’ve painted yourself into a corner.

In short, you keep people in the dark and feed them bullshit for so long, all you end up with is a bumper crop of mushrooms.


Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, media

What Am I Seeing Here?

From NRA Board Member Grover Norquist:


Is he advocating armed violence when Trump inevitably loses? God, I hope not.

What about all those years of Republican fearmongering, the Swift Boating of John Kerry in 2004, the “THREAT LEVEL: ORANGE” manipulations, all that bullshit to keep people afraid of terrorists? I’m so old, I remember being told that WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE if Barack Obama gets elected (or re-elected).

Crazy times.


Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, gun control

Ha Ha He Was Totally Kidding You Guys

Donald Trump’s surrogates are scrambling to defend the GOP candidate, who mentioned the possibility of “2nd Amendment Solutions” to stop Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court nominations.

This seems to be a theme with the Republican fringe. Remember this?


Someone remind me what happened not long after the above appeared? Oh, yeah. This.

What the fuck is wrong with people?


Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump, gun control, gun violence, Guns

Congratulations, Rodney Cummings! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

Been a while since I’ve done one of these, and there’s certainly been no shortage of candidates! The thing I loved about this Indiana prosecutor who accidentally fired his gun into a wall while eating dinner at a Texas Roadhouse is this bit:

Cummings said he plans to have the gun examined to ensure there are no mechanical problems.

Yeah, must’ve been the gun. Couldn’t possibly have been the gun owner. Which sorta goes against the NRA’s whole “guns are safe, it’s people who aren’t” slogan. And furthermore. which begs the question: if a faulty gun is just going to fire off at will on its own, isn’t that a good reason to not have it in a public place like a restaurant?


Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns

Why The GOP Should Hate Donald Trump’s Economic Plan


His one good idea is surrounded by a whole bunch of really bad ideas.


Donald Trump finally has a good idea:

Donald Trump will announce in a major economic speech on Monday that childcare payments will be fully tax deductible under a Trump administration, a senior aide told The Hill on Sunday night.

“We’re going to help working parents by making childcare payments fully tax deductible.
“That’s new policy,” the aide added.

Mind you, we don’t know how he plans to pay for this, or any other details. But on the face of it, a tax deduction for child care is something Democrats have been pushing for since forever. It’s a good idea, but one which is completely at odds with the Tea Nut rhetoric about “simplifying our tax code” and all that.

One of the most reliable complaints from conservatives has always been how complicated our tax code is. They bring it up every April: the moaning and rending of garments over how hard it all is, wouldn’t it be easier to just have everyone play 10% and be done with it?

The problem with that argument, as I wrote back in October, is that the hard part isn’t figuring out what you owe, it’s figuring out what you earn. And that’s because of all of the various deductions which lower one’s taxable income. Deductions for state and local taxes, mortgage interest, medical expenses, IRA contributions, charitable donations, etc. There are an awful lot of those, and as former Federal Reserve vice chairman Alan Blinder wrote:

Every tax “gimmick” has an ingrained constituency. I shake my head in disbelief when I hear politicians claim to be able to raise huge amounts of revenue by closing loopholes. Arithmetically, that’s easy. Politically, it’s almost impossible.

So here comes Donald Trump to give us yet another “gimmick” with a very large ingrained constituency: families with children. I happen to think it’s a good idea, but I’m not the one complaining about how hard everything is and how we need to simplify everything by reducing the number of allowed deductions.

And as it happens, Republicans have been working very hard to do just that these past few years. In 2014, Republicans tried to repeal a host of popular tax breaks, including the existing Child Tax Credit. The Tax Reform Act of 2014 died a quick death, but the new GOP tax reform plan, unveiled just about a month ago, goes even further than the last reform effort: it eliminates all itemized deductions save mortgage interest and charitable contributions.

It appears Trump’s plan to add a new itemized deduction would be killed by the Republican’s own tax reform plan. How is it possible that the Republican presidential candidate is proposing a tax gimmick completely at odds with the GOP’s tax reform plan released just last month? And would he sign the GOP’s tax reform plan if it didn’t include his child care tax credit? Dying to know.


Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, taxes

Dubious Achievements

Not sure what I did to earn this or, for that matter, when. But I consider it one of my crowning achievements:



Filed under sean hannity, Social Media

The Internet Is Full Of Bad Ideas

From what vat of stupid did this monumental piece of crap spring?


Ryan Lizza is the Washington correspondent for The New Yorker, also a CNN contributor. Not exactly a Fox News pundit. And yet, this is Breitbart-level stupidity. So, the Democratic nominee should willingly relinquish the crown jewel of the election to stop the Republican Party’s petard-hoisting which is providing us all so much amusement? I don’t think so, buddy.

I am so sick of this “Villager” wisdom from our betters in the political-intellectual circle jerk known as the Washington press.


Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, media