I endorse this satirical (I think?) idea from the R Street Institute:
[T]he Making Environmental Offsets for Windpower Act proposes the U.S. Department of Energy require — both as a pre-condition for the citing of new wind turbines, and on an ongoing annual basis — that turbine operators demonstrate they are in compliance with a new offset program designed to remove from the natural environment an even greater threat to birds: namely, free-ranging domestic cats.
According to a September 2012 paper published in Nature Communications by researchers from FWS and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Migratory Bird Center, free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds annually, with a mid-range estimate of 2.55 billion birds killed by American cats each year.
I think Josh Marshall has this figured out quite nicely:
Let’s assume for the moment that this plays out with some mix of poor judgment and perhaps bias at lower levels of the IRS but no direction from on high that would implicate the administration or top appointees themselves. The nature of this scandal - the government, particularly the IRS singling out and persecuting conservatives - appeals to the heart of the right-wing conspiracy-generating mindset.
If you wanted create a scandal to have maximal appeal to GOP base freakout, this is it. And it has the additional advantage of not creating the same sort of off-putting crazy as hitting other bugaboos beloved by base Republicans. It’s not about Obama’s ties to the Muslim brotherhood or his foreign birth. It’s about taxes, something everyone has an experience with and understands. And it’s at least rooted in something that’s true. Something really did happen. And it’s not good. It shouldn’t happen. It even has unexpected knock-on effects like the IRS’s supposed connection to the dreaded ‘Obamacare’.
That’s why you’re seeing Mitch McConnell go so full bore on this. He’s not particularly well-liked in his state and he’s not particularly well liked by Tea Parties or base Republicans. But now he can bang the drum on something that appeals deeply to these folks. He can now be with them cheek and jowl. And that is a very, very big deal. As can basically every other national Republican elected official. And again, all of this applies even if, as I assume, we learn that none of this stemmed from political hanky-panky from administration leaders.
If an eagle dies because of a power line or in any way related to oil production, huge fines are on the way, but the same can't be said when an eagle is killed by a windmill.
The Washington Post reports on the White House's willingness to put wind power above the law:
Killing these iconic birds is not just an irreplaceable loss for a vulnerable species. It’s also a federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines.
But the administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind-energy company, even those that flout the law repeatedly. Instead, the government is shielding the industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the deaths secret.
Eli Lake offers up some tips on responding to trolls:
[H]ere is what works. Retweet the hater’s tweet, appending the phrase “I love your passion,” or some variation. This may seem counterintuitive. After all, the hater has just insulted you and you respond with a compliment. But “I love your passion” is no compliment at all. It’s what you hear from someone who is about to disappoint you. It’s what you hear when you don’t get the job.
And here's how not to deal with haters:
Kevin Drum writes for Mother Jones that we'll be in a robot paradise by 2040:
We've moved from computers with a trillionth of the power of a human brain to computers with a billionth of the power. Then a millionth. And now a thousandth. Along the way, computers progressed from ballistics to accounting to word processing to speech recognition, and none of that really seemed like progress toward artificial intelligence. That's because even a thousandth of the power of a human brain is—let's be honest—a bit of a joke. Sure, it's a billion times more than the first computer had, but it's still not much more than the computing power of a hamster.
This story of Peter Worthington's surfaced in my memory this morning, I first heard it years ago.
As a young boy, Pete had been very afraid of heights. He set out to conquer this fear by learning to dive and succeeded in becoming a very accomplished diver. (We have a photo of him in his mid-50s diving off the cliffs at Acapulco, Mexico.)
In 1945, Pete was serving as a new lieutenant aboard a Canadian warship (a destroyer if I remember right). Early in the voyage, he decided to start the day with a sea bathe. He had the bright idea of diving off the ship's tower. He climbed to the top, looked over the ocean, and realized that it was higher over the water than he'd expected. Much too high. He began back away from the edge. At just that moment he was seen from below by two seaman. "Look! Lieutenant Worthington is going to dive!"
He realized: there was no decent retreat. He returned to the edge, thought "I'm going to break my neck - what a stupid way to die," and dove. When he hit the water, the jolt was so hard that he thought he had broken his neck. He survived, and from then on was something of a hero on the ship.
Sorry, fellow young men, but your health insurance is about to get significantly more expensive. CNN reports:
Currently insurers can charge premiums based on gender. Men usually pay less than women, since they typically visit the doctor less frequently. The Affordable Care Act, however, doesn't allow insurers to charge different rates to men and women. Taken together, men ages 25 to 36 could see rate increases greater than 50%, according to Milliman's O'Connor, but women of the same age will only see their premiums creep up 4%. Meanwhile, men age 60 to 64 could see their premiums drop by 12%.
Steven Camarota writes at National Review on why Heritage gets the most important details right:
Probably the main argument of critics is that the economic benefits we gain from having access to immigrant labor will offset the fiscal costs. There is simply no evidence for this. The National Research Council study mentioned above, which was authored by many of the leading economists in the field, is the only study of which I am aware that tried to measure both the economic impact and the fiscal impact of all immigrants. That study found that the economic gain to the native-born from all immigrants was smaller than the fiscal drain created by all immigrant households. And that finding was for all immigrants, not only illegal immigrants, who have on average just ten years of schooling.
Justice has been served. Toss him in prison, and never speak his name again.
While rather uncharitable, Isaac Chotiner's profile of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the latest print version of the New Republic (not yet available online unless you're a subscriber) is an illuminating read... until you reach the final paragraph, where Chotiner sneers at McConnell's admiration of Henry Clay:
McConnell once said admirably of Henry Clay, "The compromises that he brought about probably pushed the Civil War off, first the one in 1820, then the one in 1850." This is the definition of short-term thinking. Today, we don't remember the Civil War being "pushed off" - we remember that, as Abraham Lincoln said, the war came. For his part, Obama will be remembered as a two-term president who won reelection in an ailing economy and who passed a law providing access to health care for all Americans. McConnell's claim to the historical legacy he once yearned for might lie, ironically, in having made Obama's possible.
Put it this way: if the Civil War had been fought in 1820, not only would the Union have failed to abolish slavery in the south, but it's doubtful we'd have a Union today. Those morally reprehensible compromises bought the time for the north to industrialize and gain the wealth required to win a long civil war. For that, I thank Sen. Clay, even as we should simultaneously condemn every action that allowed the perpetuation of chattel slavery.
Those terrible compromises did their job, even if they received much deserved derision at the time and in historical accounts. Thus, in the process of laughing at what he deems McConnell's short term thinking, Chotiner reveals some poorly thought out historical thinking of his own.
This Peter Worthington column appeared in the Huffington Post on July 25, 2012.
I was chatting with the National Post's Andrew Coyne and a bunch of others at a party last weekend, and he mentioned a column I'd written for the old Financial Post that drew more response than anything the paper had experienced at that time.
I couldn't remember, and thought it might have been about my dogs -- all Jack Russells, which I get teased about at the Sun because I occasionally suggest good reporters should emulate JRs: curious, fearless, relentless, fun and smart -- but not too smart.
But no, Andrew was thinking of an early column I'd written about cutting my own hair, that provoked a huge, unexpected response.
From my CNN column: why those rushing to bash the Heritage Foundation study keep forgetting that math is math:
A decade ago, Britain's Labor government was badly divided over whether to join the Euro. The prime minister strongly supported the idea, as did much of the British business community and many leading media voices. One of the proponents' most effective tactics was to ridicule opponents as cranky and xenophobic -- even borderline racist.
Here for example is a correspondent for the Guardian deriding some of them, members of the U.K. Independence Party (Ukip), back, in 2004.
"In the pub I encounter Reg Mahrra, an Indian Ukipper . 'I want out of Europe,' he says. 'Europe is a disease.' "