There used to be a lot of coal miners, but not any more — strip mines and machinery in general have allowed us to produce more coal with very few miners. Basically, it’s a job that was destroyed by technology long ago, with only a relative handful of workers — 0.06 percent of the US work force — still engaged in mining.
So what is this fight about? There’s capital invested in coal and coal-related stuff, hiding behind the pretense of caring about the workers. And there’s also ideology, of which more soon. But the war on coal already happened, it had nothing to do with liberals and environmentalists, and coal lost.

There used to be a lot of coal miners, but not any more — strip mines and machinery in general have allowed us to produce more coal with very few miners. Basically, it’s a job that was destroyed by technology long ago, with only a relative handful of workers — 0.06 percent of the US work force — still engaged in mining.

So what is this fight about? There’s capital invested in coal and coal-related stuff, hiding behind the pretense of caring about the workers. And there’s also ideology, of which more soon. But the war on coal already happened, it had nothing to do with liberals and environmentalists, and coal lost.

coal environmentalism energy pollution jobs politics

"The GOP has kind of become talk radio. An echo chamber where people are not interested in actually legislating or compromising or fixing America — just in screeching about how liberals have ruined it. So why not do it on the radio? The money’s better. And no one can see your toupee."
- Bill Maher

bill maher politics

"Romney adopted knee-jerk anti-Russian positions on every relevant issue, and married them to reflexive anti-Obama criticisms. That’s all that he did. It isn’t surprising, since he had no particular foreign policy experience, nor had he had much of an interest in these issues before he started his seemingly endless presidential campaigning. Romney had no particular insight into Russian behavior, and definitely didn’t understand what motivated Russian leaders or how they viewed U.S. policies in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. If the U.S. had been following his recommendations over the last year, tensions between the U.S. and Russia would likely be even worse, since Romney’s idea for Russia policy in practice was little more than to antagonize Moscow whenever possible."

Romney Wasn’t “Churchill-Like” on Russia, He Was Thoroughly Ignorant

politics romney foreign policy

"The truth of the matter is, America’s got a whole lot of challenges. Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength, but out of weakness.

The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and lay bear these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more. And so my response then continues to be what I believe today, which is Russia’s actions are a problem, they don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States."
- President Obama

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"When the Illinois state House passed a bill to legalize gay marriage last fall, just three out of 47 Republicans voted for it. On Tuesday, none of them lost. State Rep. Tom Cross (R) cruised to a 14-point victory in the primary for state treasurer while state Rep. Ed Sullivan (R) easily won renomination in his district. The third, state Rep. Ron Sandack (R), narrowly edged out his opponent by fewer than 200 votes, according to an unofficial tally. The close margin could mean the race goes to a recount. Sandack and Sullivan both faced pressure from third-party groups looking to oust them over their gay marriage votes. In Sandack’s case, the issue became a central focus. Had the three Republicans lost, it would have probably given pause to Republicans considering backing gay marriage in other states where the matter comes up in the future. But given two decisive wins and a third tentative victory, gay rights advocates have a lot to be happy about a day after the election."

None of the Illinois Republicans who voted for gay marriage lost.

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"[I’m struck by] the odd mix of fear and wish projection with which many conservatives view Putin. We hear how dangerous Putin is but also pretty clearly that they wish our leaders were like him - someone who bends history to his will and all that. I mentioned earlier that for all the carping about how President Obama encouraged Putin’s aggression and hasn’t responded to it with sufficient force - what about what happened in Georgia in 2008? President Bush did basically nothing. The truth is there was very little he could do.
The President’s critics talk about “resolve” and “leadership” and “toughness” because there are not any actual actions they can point to that they think he should do but isn’t. These phrases are plastic, can mean anything and can be puffed up with all manner of wish-projection and foreign policy fantasy untethered to any concrete and specifics actions. It recalls the glory days of #RomneyStrength.
It’s really that clear. Vague and ambiguous phrases are used to conceal this.
What President Obama could do is give Putin an ultimatum to leave Crimea or be forcibly expelled. Then we’d have a real test of strength and Putin would see deep potential costs to his actions. But even the President’s toughest critics recognize this would be insane. It’s really not a good idea to get into a land war with the world’s other major nuclear power on their own terrain."
- Josh Marshall, on Obama and his detractors

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Oil and gas, not conservative policies, are responsible for economic growth in Texas.

The first and most obvious question to ask about the Texas boom in jobs is how much it simply reflects the boom in Texas oil and gas production. Texas boosters say the answer is very little, and play up how much the Texas economy has diversified since the 1970s. And indeed, Texas has more high-tech, knowledge-economy jobs than it did forty years ago. But so does the rest of America, and the stubborn truth is that, despite there being more computer programmers and medical specialists in Texas than a generation ago, oil and gas account for a rapidly rising, not declining, share of the Texas economy.

Unless you’ve been to Texas lately, you might have missed just how gigantic its latest oil and gas boom has become. Thanks to fracking and other new drilling techniques, plus historically high world oil prices, Texas oil production increased by 126 percent just between 2010 and 2013. Only a few years ago, Texas’s oil production had dwindled to just 15 percent of U.S. output; by May of last year it had jumped to 34.5 percent, as new drilling methods opened up vast new plays in once-forgotten corners of south and west Texas with names like Eagle Ford, Spraberry Trend, and Wolfcamp. Thanks to the bonanza of drilling, Texas already produces more oil than Venezuela, and is headed to become the ninth-largest producer of oil in the world, ahead of Kuwait, Mexico, and Iraq.

Meanwhile, Texas accounts for 27 percent of U.S. natural gas production, which is more than the production of any nation except Russia. NASA satellites now record an arc of white light at night stretching from San Antonio to the Mexican border produced by gas flares. As a recent issue of Texas Monthly notes, in once-sleeping towns like Cotulla, where a young Lyndon Johnson taught migrant Mexican children in the 1920s, the population has more than tripled in the past two years, and no fewer than thirteen new hotels have opened, along with numerous “man camps,” to accommodate the influx of oil rig workers.

Though Texas boosters point to the growth of the high-tech industry in Austin, the so-called “telecom corridor” in Dallas, and the growth of health care jobs in Houston, this can’t hide the fact that oil and gas are by far the fastest-growing sources of the state’s economic growth. Between 1998 and 2011, for example, the percent of Texas GDP produced directly by oil and gas extraction more than doubled, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. This doesn’t even count the growth of related industries, like oil refining and a petrochemical sector now thriving on the state’s abundant supplies of natural gas. Meanwhile, the share of the Texas economy produced by the information, communications, and technology sectors is 27 percent smaller than it was in 1998.

texas politics economics oil natural gas

"I looked [Putin] in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy."

George W. Bush, 2001

Christopher Hitchens, 2010:

"No one here I suppose would have forgotten the moment when George Bush met Vladimir Putin, who had chosen for the day to decorate his chest with his grandmother’s ornate Russian Orthodox crucifix. Enough for the President to be convinced and to say that just to look into those beautiful limpid eyes was enough to see that he was a person of deep spirituality and sensitivity. I think by the way in a fairly strong field that’s one of the stupidest things any president has ever said."

news politics christopher hitchens putin bush religion

"We blew this one. [..] Yes, we knew Christie was a bully. But we didn’t know his crew was crazy enough to put people’s lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor. We didn’t know he would use Hurricane Sandy aid as a political slush fund. And we certainly didn’t know that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was sitting on a credible charge of extortion by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno."

The New Jersey Star-Ledger, effectively revoking its endorsement of Chris Christie. The very same editorial manages to endorse Christie for president, because the GOP field is just that bleak:

"Now ask yourself this: If the Republican primary came to a choice between [Rand] Paul and Christie, which candidate would you endorse?"

news politics chris christie

Steven Van Zandt convinced AZAPO to take Paul Simon off a hit list and what Paul Simon really thought of Nelson Mandela

Van Zandt:

So I snuck in and met with AZAPO, the Azanian People’s Organisation, who were like a more radical, violent version of our Black Panthers. They were actually on the front lines blowing shit up and stuff like that. And I had to plead my case to them, because they were sort of the hard line. And I said to them, “Look, all due respect, man, you’re not gonna win this fight. I don’t blame you for picking up guns and defending yourselves.” Because it was brutal; the regime down there was brutality. “I don’t blame you, but you’re not gonna win. You cannot win this way. Let me please try my idea, and I’m gonna win this war for you in the media, on TV.”

Now this already would’ve been a stretch for most people, but when you’re trying to tell this to people who don’t have electricity, that you’re about to win their war on a box that you plug in somewhere, they looked at me like, “This guy is really nuts.”

Anyway, I said to them, “Listen, this is not gonna help anybody if you knock off Paul Simon. Trust me on this, alright? Let’s put that aside for the moment. Give me a year or so, you know, six months,” whatever I asked for, “to try and do this a different way. I’m trying to actually unify the music community around this, which may or may not include Paul Simon, but I don’t want it to be a distraction. I just don’t need that distraction right now; I gotta keep my eye on the ball.”

politics history music apartheid steven van zadt paul simon

Obama's work on the Iran front continues to impress.

politics obama iran israel news

"Let Dems take the first step, and we will then bear no blame when we entirely blow up the Senate’s rules after we take all the reins of power. That other Republicans like Corker, McCain, Alexander, Murkowski and so on, went along, shows how much the radicals and anti-institutionalists now dominate the Republican Party. Which is sad indeed."
- Norm Ornstein, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, on what Mitch McConnell (R-KY) really thinks about the “nuclear option”. 


"Ted Cruz is smart. He has always been able to talk down to people. He is now in the Senate. People are as smart as he is. He can’t talk down to anyone anymore. But he has still not accepted that in his own head. He still thinks he’s smarter than everybody else. He might be able to work a calculus problem better than I can. But he can’t legislate better than I can."
- Harry ”I’m Your Huckleberry” Reid, Senate Majority Leader (D-NV)