Now that Jackass-gate is dying down, will the administration respond to Glenn Beck, who has been picking staffers off the outskirts of Obama-ville? And if so, how? Insiders tell the Washington Post that the White House is trying to avoid a direct confrontation with "a vocal minority," hoping instead to do the adult thing and take the high road. (Though the president has reportedly been "rolling his eyes in disbelief" at the daily flood of kookiness coming from Beck and his cohorts.) "You don't stomp a story out. You ride the wave and try to steer it to safe water," says an Obama aide about the hands-off approach. We'll see how that plays out.

And now, the latest list of who's still advertising on Beck's program:

  • The National Republican Trust PAC

  • News Corp. (The Wall Street Journal)

  • Merit Financial

  • Superior Gold Group

  • Loan Modification Help Line 800-917-8549

  • Wholesale Direct Metals

  • Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (The Informant)

  • LifeLock

  • Clarity Media Group (The Weekly Standard)

  • Citrix (GoToMeeting)

  • Scarguard

  • Publisher’s Clearing House

  • Imperial Structured Settlements

  • Schiff Nutrition International, Inc. (Move Free Advanced)

  • Eggland’s Best, Inc.

  • Roche Diagnostics (Accu-Chek Aviva)

  • Ad Council

  • IRSTaxAgreements.com

  • Carbonite

  • Rosland Capital

  • National Review

  • Liberty Medical

 

 

 

I have frequently wondered on this blog why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is taking a leading role in opposing the climate bill when many of its 3 million member companies actually support the legislation. Now comes an interesting post from the NRDC's Switchboard blog (via Climate Progress) that begins to answer that question. It turns out that for the past 11 years Chamber President Tom Donohue has also served as a highly-compensated board member of Union Pacific Railroad, which earns some 20 percent of its revenues from carrying coal. Moreover, Union Pacific has given $700,000 to the Chamber since 2004.

Conflict of interest? Sure sounds like it. Maybe it's time for those Chamber members who first questioned its climate approach to raise a stink about this.

Yesterday, my friend Megan admitted she was racist. Today, I'm admitting I am, too. We both took Harvard's implicit association test on racial preferences, and we both got the same result.

IAT: IAT

Interesting and disturbing, isn't it? 

So what's the big deal with race these days, anyway? First Sonia Sotomayor was racist. Then there was the whole Henry Louis Gates ordeal, where Gates was racist, the cop who arrested him was racist and the neighbor who called the cops was racist too. Then Fox News' Glenn Beck lost more than half his advertising dollars after he called Obama a racist.

And now the same insult has resurfaced in the health care debate. Earlier this week Tea Party leader appeared on CNN and called Obama a "racist-in-chief." Jimmy Carter's now calling Joe Wilson's outburst and similar personal attacks on Obama racist, and—check this out—even your baby is racist, according to Newsweek's cover story this week.

The right-wingers over at the American Conservative Union conference in DC today must really be frothing after a full day of fiery political speechifying. We wish we could give you better color commentary, but ACU has banned the media (unless we're willing to fork over $400.) But fortunately, ACU is Twittering, so we do know that the Wall Street Journal's John Fund just warned the crowd that if Democrats lose health care, they will "ram universal voter registration through Congress." The horror! God forbid everyone in this country actually registered to vote. Other choice quotes from Fund:

On health care: "I think we have a chance of taking it down from an 800 pound gorilla to a 99 pound weakling."

On the ACORN scandal: "ACORN is the soft under belly of the Liberal Left Machine."

And this doozy: Fund estimates that more than 400,000 people attended Saturday's 9/12 anti-government march in DC. (Most reliable estimates put the number at more like 75,000.)

Fund was preceded by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who said sagely:  "The constant in climate change is that it is changing." He apparently called for more science, less hype on global warming.

And it wouldn't be a conservative conference without South Carolina Rep. Jim DeMint (R), who told attendees: "Our goal is to save freedom in America." Thanks, Jim.

You can follow the bromides here.

Cool Cats

Atrios comments on George Bush's use of language:

While I don't think Bush referring to Obama as "this cat" is really racist, in the sense of suggesting some sort of animosity towards people of color, but I think there's a reasonable chance that race played a part, in the sense that Bush would've been much less likely to refer to a white guy with that term.

But from the same article, here was Bush on another occasion:

The president asked his secretary, Karen, to bring him the Rose Garden remarks he’d just delivered that day....When he finally got them, he put his half-glasses on and looked at them. “See, this was fine today,” he said. “But we got to make this understandable for the average cat.” He proposed an outline for another speech that talked about the situation our economy was in, how we’d gotten here, and how the administration’s plan was a solution.

I think Bush just has an odd attachment to calling people "cats."  Surely some other former White House staffers could enlighten us about this, though.

GOP leader Michael Steele claims to be shocked, shocked by former President Jimmy Carter's statement that racism may play a role in some of the extreme and personal attacks on President Barack Obama.

Steele thrashed Democrats for "injecting race into the debate over critical issues facing American families..."

You know those Dems. They'll probably find some crazy 'racial' subtext to Rush Limabaugh complaining that "in Obama's America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, 'Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on.'"

A snag in California's effort to close 100 state parks, mandated under its hard-fought budget deal,  shows why the Golden State has become the State of Unintended Consequences

Neighborhood watch-style groups will have to do the work of rangers to prevent illegal activity in closed state parks unless voters approve a vehicle license fee or some other method is found to save the beleaguered park system, officials and park supporters said Tuesday.

Good luck with that.

As I reported in Mother Jones' July/August issue, a third of California's national parks and all of its national forests have already been colonized by aggressive pot farmers. Where hippies once grew just enough weed to peace out, traffickers now now cultivate more than 100,000 plants at a time on 30-acre terraces irrigated by plastic pipe, laced with illegal pesticides, and guarded by MAC-10s and Uzis.

There's no way that some mace-packing Guardian Angels are going to keep these guys out of shuttered and empty state parks, especially not vast areas like Mount Tam north of San Francisco, and Coe Ranch near San Jose, both of which are on the chopping block. Without rangers and day hikers, they'll be a narcotrafficante's dream.

"We are involved in a process we didn't understand was as complicated as it is," park system spokesman Roy Stearns told the San Francisco Chronicle. Well said, brother. It's what I like to think of as living in California.

The economic bailout was supposed to save the little guy. But as big bank wallets have fattened, America's facing a jobless recovery.

What's wrong with this picture?

Watch cartoonist Mark Fiore's take on the situation after the jump:

Yesterday former President Jimmy Carter noted that much of the opposition to Obama's health care plan was “based on racism” and that there was “an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.” Carter was only saying what everyone knows. Any journalist who covered the Democratic presidential primary between Obama and Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania could not possibly have missed the naked hatred of the man among some voters, based on the fact Obama is black. Similar sentiments were in the air in western Maryland during a recent town meeting on health care—Western Maryland has a history of being not just right-wing territory, but Klan territory.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. America has not crossed any divide. And the racist attacks on Obama won’t end with health care. They’ll just roll on into other issues on his agenda.

Read more by James Ridgeway on Unsilent Generation. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Water in the Burbs

The city of Palmdale is running out of water, and as a result prices are going up.  Way up:

“My bill went from $12.80 to $185,” [Tracey] Summerford, a Neighborhood Watch captain, told the water board.

“My water bill went from $139 to $468,” [Mary] Sanchez said at that meeting. Since then Sanchez received another monthly bill, one for $324. Together that meant she owed the water district $792, plus a prior balance that brought her total to $924. “That’s my two car payments,” said Sanchez, who moved into her home in November....I feel discouraged. I feel like we should have stayed in Santa Clarita and lived in our apartment.”

Water blogger OTPR thinks she's just seen Armageddon for the burbs:

There it is.  There’s the end.  This is the turning point I’ve been waiting for.  With water costs this high, she’d rather be in a city apartment.  I’ve been wondering for years what would herd people in from the exurbs.  It struck me as a race between costs of water and costs of firefighting.  For a while, the cost of gas and the commute was coming on strong, but that horse fizzled.  Now we need people to know this before they lock themselves into houses.  Ms. Sanchez, don’t become a water district activist!  Spend your energy telling your friends not to do what you did!   Tell them the house and lawn isn’t worth it.  You can still save them.  That’s what we need.

This is sort of California-centric, since water isn't necessarily a suburban problem everywhere.  Schaumburg still has plenty of water from Lake Michigan, I assume.  Still, it is kind of breathtaking.

On the other hand, plenty of people who live in the Valley have $500/month electric bills in the summer from running their air conditioners, and they move/stay there regardless.  So maybe all that happens here is that people grumble for a bit and then get used to high water bills, just like they've gotten used to high air conditioning bills.

In fact, considering that Palmdale has high water bills and high air conditioning bills and high summer fire hazards AND sits right smack on top of a major fault line — well, the fact that people still live there at all probably means that people are willing to live just about anywhere no matter what it costs.  Maybe a $200 water bill is just another pinprick.