Monday, April 21, 2014

Last Call For The Sun Kings

As Steve Benen notes, recent breakthroughs in solar panel technology, power storage, and compact design has now made solar power a threat to the energy giants and the big mega-corporations that thrive off of forcing Americans to buy coal, gas, and oil-fueled electricity.  The Koch Brothers have officially declared war on the sun, folks.

The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation’s largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.

Alarmed environmentalists and their allies in the solar industry have fought back, battling the other side to a draw so far. Both sides say the fight is growing more intense as new states, including Ohio, South Carolina and Washington, enter the fray.

Solar power is becoming more and more viable, so that viability must be crushed.

At the nub of the dispute are two policies found in dozens of states. One requires utilities to get a certain share of power from renewable sources. The other, known as net metering, guarantees homeowners or businesses with solar panels on their roofs the right to sell any excess electricity back into the power grid at attractive rates.

Net metering forms the linchpin of the solar-energy business model. Without it, firms say, solar power would be prohibitively expensive.

The power industry argues that net metering provides an unfair advantage to solar consumers, who don’t pay to maintain the power grid although they draw money from it and rely on it for backup on cloudy days. The more people produce their own electricity through solar, the fewer are left being billed for the transmission lines, substations and computer systems that make up the grid, industry officials say.

The result?  Red states are starting to pass laws that charge consumers increasingly higher fees if they use solar power, in order to price solar panels out of the market. Instead of being able to sell power back to the power company, solar panel owners would have to pay exorbinant fees instead to be off the grid, and that will destroy the industry.

The Kochs and their allies don't want us off oil and coal.  Ever.  And they will obliterate anyone who gets in their way.

The Odious Patrick McHenry And Obamacare

As I've said before, NC-10 where I grew up is one of the most miserable places in the country to live, and GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry is doing everything he can to keep it that way.  He has no problem taking Obamacare benefits away from some of the most needy people in the country and now he has to face those voters over the Easter recess.

The two-week recess is the first extended break from Washington for lawmakers since the 2014 open enrollment season ended and coverage for many Americans kicked in. Many people with new plans received subsidies to make their health insurance more affordable, or they became eligible for expanded Medicaid.

It’s not that red-state representatives and senators won’t come across negative stories about the Affordable Care Act from constituents who say the law caused their plans to be canceled, forced them to change doctors or raised costs for their businesses.

It’s that other group, comprising the people being helped, that potentially poses a challenge.

In North Carolina, enrollment was higher than the national average, and 91 percent of those signing up were eligible for subsidies as of March 1. California, Florida, Idaho, Maine and Michigan also had greater rates of enrollment and subsidized coverage than elsewhere in the country. (Final state numbers, which would include the late March surge, haven’t been released.)

But nobody actually signed up for Obamacare, remember?  The 8 million is a giant myth, a hoax, a scam!

We’re talking about those outside of a narrow band of folks who have benefited from this law,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina. “We’re talking about the average American who’s been harmed by it, and those are the people that are speaking today.”

And of course since McHenry is a Republican, "narrow band" means those people.  But it's red state Republican voters who are starting to realize Obamacare has given them affordable health insurance for the first time in ages.

Yet the latest Gallup poll shows that the public’s attitude could be shifting, certainly far more than the lawmakers’ comments suggest. The change is particularly sharp among Republicans. In late February, 72 percent of Republicans surveyed said the law would make their own health care situation worse in the long run. By early April, that had dropped to 51 percent, and more than 4 in 10 Republicans said the law would have a negligible impact for them.

They're starting to come around.  And that means Republicans are starting to deal with some very hard questions about repeal and what that would really mean for millions of Republican voters.

Nino's Still Nuts

Say what you will about the Tea Party and austerity-pushing creeps like Paul Ryan or demagogues like Ted Cruz, the most dangerous guy in DC is Justice Antonin Scalia.

During a Tuesday speech at the University of Tennessee College of Law, Scalia said that the government has a right to impose the income tax, “but if it reaches a certain point, perhaps you should revolt.”

"You're entitled to criticize the government, and you can use words, you can use symbols, you can use telegraph, you can use Morse code, you can burn a flag," he told the students.

Despite Americans paying the lowest amount in taxes in decades.

Scalia also said that he and other justices do not let politics influence their decisions, and that he believes that the U.S. Constitution is a fixed law.

"The Constitution is not a living organism for Pete’s sake,” he said. "It's a law. It means what it meant when it was adopted."

When the Constitution was adopted, slavery was legal and women couldn't vote.  It took nearly a hundred years and a bloody civil war to change the first and 150 years and more blood to change the second, so see, change is bad!

And this man sits on the US Supreme Court.

And there are three, if not four other men like him.


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