The Widdershins

A Sunday drive on Tuesday…

Posted on: July 1, 2014

Afternoon Widdershins.

Do you remember Sunday drives? For those of us of a certain age, before a gallon of gas became the better part of $4.00, Sunday drives were a mainstay of the weekend routine. We would pile in the car and just drive — no real destination, no real timetable, no real itinerary. We might see something of interest along the way, but if we didn’t it wasn’t cataclysmic. Consider this post a Sunday drive on a Tuesday afternoon.

The first thing I’ll point out for your consideration is the result of the Mississippi Republican primary runoff betweenMagnolia Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel. Cochran, a Mississippi Senate fixture, was being challenged by McDaniel, a radio shock-jock Tea Partier. The chattering class had all but written off Sen. Cochran before Tuesday last, but the reports of his demise were premature.

Cochran’s electoral reprieve was due to his courting predominately Democratic African Americans to “crossover” and vote in the Republican runoff. Unusual — yes. So unusual, it isn’t possible in the 49 other states. The ability to crossover in a Mississippi primary election is a vestige of Reconstruction that just so happens to remain on the books of the state with the highest percentage of African Americans in the country. Coincidence?

That tells you the how, but not the why of this miraculous Cochran resurrection. It isn’t because Sen. Cochran is a closeted liberal or even a moderately progressive centrist. It had more to do with Mr. McDaniel. It could have been his flirting fascination with the Klan or the Confederacy. It could have been his campaign breaking into a nursing home and snapping pictures of Sen. Cochran’s dementia-afflicted wife. It could have been Sen. Cochran is a “bacon-bringer-homer” for Mississippi — a state depending upon 45 cents of every dollar coming from a benevolent uncle — Uncle Sam.

Cochran McDanielNone of those reasons though are why the Mississippi runoff results were of such interest. The lesson from Cochran’s upset — this tactic had been tried before in Mississippi, but was never successful — was this: The more people who vote, the better and more representative the outcome. Not quite earth-shattering, but it is the dirty little secret lost in the asterisks of virtually all accounts of Tea Party victories where voter turnout was abysmal.

Increasing voter turnout in Republican primaries is essential for good government in a policy sense, therefore, important to even us libruls. Otherwise we have Tea Partiers being elected to an institution they want to destroy by an undiluted small minority who want to stand by and watch them destroy it.

It took Democratic African American voters of the Mississippi Delta to provide an example of a workable solution to Republican voters everywhere. In and of itself, that fact is deliciously rich irony. If Republicans are serious about governing and not just obstructing, this Mississippi lesson is one that should be emulated.

The next point of interest is really a twofer.

If you are really quiet and listen closely, that whining you hear in the distance is some coal state politician lamenting State by State CO2 Emissionsthe “war on coal” and how it is killing jobs. The real killer of coal jobs is none other than free market capitalism in the form of cheaper, cleaner natural gas, but of course it is much more politically palatable to associate a black man’s face with that of a killer, ergo, it’s “Obama’s War on Coal“.

The EPA rules announced earlier this month touted a 30 percent reduction in emissions by the year 2030. That made some major headlines, but as with most things the devil is in the details. The EPA used 2005 as the base year for CO2 levels. So by turning back the clock nine years, the EPA and Obama Administration can claim reductions that look about twice as large as they actually are. Back in 2005, CO2 emissions were far higher than now. From 2005 to 2012, the power industry cut CO2 emissions by 15 percent, due in large part to switching over to cleaner-burning natural gas.

In addition to this clever math trick, the EPA rules also give the various states targets based on the state’s ability to reduce emissions. These targets take into account natural gas capacity, efficiency of coal plants, wind generation and other renewable sources of power. When you overlay these targets, you get a hodgepodge of state goals where some states have to cut pollution a lot; others not nearly as much.

Three Smokestacks and SunThe second part of this twofer is the recent Supreme Court decision reviewing the EPA’s early 2011 batch of Clean Air Act regulations. If you read the press releases of the industry groups and the whiny red-state politicians, you would think the decision eviscerated the EPA’s regulations. It didn’t.

Remarkably, Scalia, Roberts and Kennedy joined the four progressive justices in a majority ruling leaving a major portion of the regulations in place. The ruling enables regulation of sources that “account for roughly 83 percent of American stationary-source greenhouse-gas emissions,” compared with just 86 percent had all the regulations been allowed to stand.

True to form though, Scalia larded up his opinion with pages of right-wing spin to assuage the ever hungry red-meat craving conservative faithful. Scalia evidently didn’t want these conservative carnivores to believe he and his two conservative colleagues had forsaken their duty to drown any fledgling regulation in the nearest bathtub. Playing to the peanut gallery is a part of the pas de trois even if you are wearing a full-length black robe.

What makes this Sunday-drive-worthy is this: In effect, three of the five conservative justices recognized inaction on Hobby Lobbyclimate change is no longer an option. Implicitly, they recognized the inaction of Congress is unacceptable and therefore, exceptions must be read into the 1970’s era Clean Air Act to make regulation possible. Given the opinion of 97 percent of all climate scientists for once it seems conservative judicial activism coincides with the greater good.

This post was written before Monday’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case or as I prefer to call it, the “Sharia-lite corporate conversion” case.  Sharia-lite because it is adorning state theocratic recognition on the legal fiction of a corporation and corporate conversion because it is the first of many transitions of closely held corporations to new-found religiosity.  Hallelujah!

If you would like to steer our Tuesday’s Sunday drive in new directions, please feel free since this is an open thread.




9 Responses to "A Sunday drive on Tuesday…"

Prolix said: free market capitalism in the form of cheaper, cleaner natural gas,

Cleaner to burn as a fuel yes, but most of the natural gas we’re getting today is coming from fracking which has all kinds of issues in itself, sad to say.

Prolix, check your email when you have time.

I love that teaparty election story. Sharia-lite indeed. I still cannot fathom that our Supreme court is so corrupt that it would allow this bullshit company (HL) to claim that their insurance plan including bc pill for their female employees restricts their freedom of religion, when they make money from stock in the same drug companies that mfg these pills. I just don’t get it. Why wouldn’t they be laughed out of the court. Why couldn’t the US attys get it tossed out on that very fact alone. You can invest in, and make money on a product, but its against your beliefs to let your employees have access to it? wtf?

The LA Times has an article that says that RBG needs to retire this summer to give Obama enough time to appoint another lib, just in case the repubs take the WH back. Really sad.

annie, I hope this will be a wakeup call to younger women, hell all women, to get out and vote both in 2014 and 2016.

Thank goodness for Giinsberg’s dissent to this decision. Shows she’s still got fight in her!

Prolix, I really enjoyed your post. Is that a magnolia flower?

I posted this on Upps:

Here is another interesting point about HL paying for insurance with contraception in California for years. This is from the New Yorker, the poster is: hyebe142

“Most states, according to the Guttmacher Institute, have laws that mandate contraception coverage similar or nearly identical to that in the ACA (California law, for example, requires employer-sponsored plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives, as was required by the ACA). These laws have been in effect for a decade or more.

Over that decade, I’ve witnessed a vast expansion of Hobby Lobby stores in California, with nary a peep over the supposed infringement of their religious liberties under state law. In fact, Hobby Lobby, previously offered the very forms of contraception it now tells the Supreme Court run afoul of their sensibilities and it appears that it was only when the federal gov’t attempted to implement a uniform mandate across the country that Hobby Lobby dropped coverage of these contraceptives and filed its now-famous lawsuit against the federal gov’t.

Does it not seem hypocritical in the extreme for Hobby Lobby to simultaneously comply with state laws and contend in federal court that similar requirements constrict their religious liberty? If that were truly the case wouldn’t Hobby Lobby have also filed suit against the state laws as well? Or is it more likely that they are simply using this suit to give voice to their anti-Obama sentiments and, in the course of doing so, court an entire generation of social conservative customers for whom Hobby Lobby is now the hero of the moment?”

The fact that the Supreme Court even agreed to hear this monstrously hypocritical case proves to me that the 5 republican justices are the most corrupt & biased ever in history. And of the nine, 6 are Roman Catholic, 3 are Jewish. Not a single protestant or atheist. I think that is sooo wrong.

annie: yep that’s a magnolia bloom. Miss.’s known as the Magnolia state.

That was a great comment by that person and excellent comment at the end by you too.

I thought so about the magnolia. Believe it or not, we have several magnolia trees here on our hill an they bloom beautifully. We also have these awesome pink pepper trees that trail long strands of leaves down. And pine and oak trees too. I rambling, I know, but I guess better than my rants of the past couple days! 🙂

@5, Annie, I’m doing a post for Friday that attempts to answer your questions about the HL case. Suffice it to say, the case wasn’t about contraception, it was about slapping the ACA and the usual “prophets of profit” knew they could raise money off the “abortifacient argument’ and they ran with it.

What is really, really tragic is that the 5 conservatives on the SC have inartfully crafted a quagmire that will for years plague women, women’s health, reproductive rights, and religion cases. Yes, what these 5 clowns did was to backhandedly create a “religious test” without any guidance for future interpretation placing themselves at the top of the pyramid as arbiters.

I’m working now on editing the post because it’s over 2,000 words — much, much too long.

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