February 26, 2012

Not News: Koch Bros. Hit Back at Laughably False Obama For America Email

Imagine if a Republican campaign organization attempted to raise money by going after billionaire Barack Obama fan Warren Buffett by claiming that Buffett is making a lot of money at the pump because of higher gas prices. The press would immediately pounce and say that it’s not true, because even though Buffett could be benefiting from the President’s cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline, the Odious Oracle of Omaha doesn’t own enterprises which sell gas at retail.

Well, Team Obama at the Obama For America campaign organization just did the same thing to the Koch Brothers a couple of days ago, and as expected, we haven’t heard a peep from the establishment press about the related blatantly false email. A search on “Koch” at the Associated Press’s main national web site returns nothing relevant, which is also the case with the same search at the New York Times. What follows is the text of the email I received on Friday morning (also seen here), plus the Koch Brothers’ full response (bolds are mine throughout this post):

In just about 24 hours, Mitt Romney is headed to a hotel ballroom to give a speech sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a front group founded and funded by the Koch brothers.

Those are the same Koch brothers whose business model is to make millions by jacking up prices at the pump, and who have bankrolled Tea Party extremism and committed $200 million to try to destroy President Obama before Election Day.

So in the hours before Romney courts two men obsessed with making Barack Obama a one-term president, let’s see how many of us can chip in to the Two-Term Fund.

This number will update every five minutes to show how many people give in the 24 hours until Romney greets the Kochs:

Donate to the Two-Term Fund today.

Here’s what Mitt Romney told his supporters just after his victory in the Florida GOP primary:

“We must not forget what this election is really about: defeating Barack Obama.”

Pitch in $3 or more over the next 24 hours to show that, while that message may fire up two oil-industry billionaires, it’s also one that plenty of us are tired of hearing …

Thanks,

Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

The Kochs’ response later Friday absolutely shreds Messina’s shrieking claims (reproduced in full):

A Letter to the Obama Campaign

Dear Mr. Messina:

Because every American has the right to take part in the public discourse on matters that affect the future of our country, I feel compelled to respond directly about a fundraising letter you sent out on February 24 denouncing Koch. It is both surprising and disappointing that the President would allow his re-election team to send such an irresponsible and misleading letter to his supporters.

For example, it is false that our “business model is to make millions by jacking up prices at the pump.” Our business vision begins and ends with value creation — real, long-term value for customers and for society. We own no gasoline stations and the part of our business you allude to, oil and gas refining, actually lowers the price of gasoline by increasing supply. Either you simply misunderstand the way commodities markets work or you are misleading your supporters and the rest of the American people.

Contrary to your assertion that we have “committed $200 million to try to destroy President Obama,” we have stated publicly and repeatedly since last November that we have never made any such claim or pledge. It is hard to imagine that the campaign is unaware of our publicly stated position on that point. Similarly, Americans for Prosperity is not simply “funded by the Koch brothers,” as you state — rather it has tens of thousands of members and contributors from across the country and from all walks of life. Further, our opposition to this President’s policies is not based on partisan politics but on principles. Charles Koch and David Koch have been outspoken advocates of the free-market for over 50 years and they have consistently opposed policies that frustrate or subvert free markets, regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican was President.

If the President’s campaign has some principled disagreement with the arguments we are making publicly about the staggering debt the President and previous administrations have imposed on the country, the regulations that are stifling business growth and innovation, the increasing intrusion of government into nearly every aspect of American life, we would be eager to hear them. But it is an abuse of the President’s position and does a disservice to our nation for the President and his campaign to criticize private citizens simply for the act of engaging in their constitutional right of free speech about important matters of public policy. The implication in that sort of attack is obvious: dare to criticize the President’s policies and you will be singled out and personally maligned by the President and his campaign in an effort to chill free speech and squelch dissent.

This is not the first time that the President and his Administration have engaged in this sort of disturbing behavior. As far back as August, 2010, Austan Goolsbee, then the President’s chief economic advisor, made public comments concerning Koch’s tax status and falsely stated that the company did not pay income tax, which triggered a federal investigation into Mr. Goolsbee’s conduct that potentially implicated federal law against improper disclosure of taxpayer information. Last June, your colleagues sent fundraising letters disparaging us as “plotting oil men” bent on “misleading people” with “disinformation” in order to “smear” the President’s record. Those accusations were baseless and were made at the very same time the president was publicly calling for a more “civil conversation” in the country.

It is understandable that the President and his campaign may be “tired of hearing” that many Americans would rather not see the president re-elected. However, the inference is that you would prefer that citizens who disagree with the President and his policies refrain from voicing their own viewpoint. Clearly, that’s not the way a free society should operate.

We agree with the President that civil discourse is an American strength. That is why it is troubling to see a national political campaign apparently target individual citizens and private companies for some perceived political advantage. I also hope the President will reflect on how the approach the campaign is using is at odds with our national values and the constitutional right to free speech.

The only press coverage I’ve seen thus far is at the Politico.

That doesn’t cut it. The Politico is very often the place where stories the press should be giving general coverage go to die — at which point, the rest of the press says, “See, we don’t have to mention it, because it’s already at the Politico.” Horse manure.

This is an enabling situation. OFA hacks like Messina know they can promulgate anything with little in the way of press repercussions, which encourage them to push the envelope even further.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Politically Rewarded Behavior: Calif. Lets Single-Occupant Volts Into HOV Lanes

ObamaChevyVoltFireSalesSilly me. I thought “HOV” when used in connection with expressway traffic meant “High Occupancy Vehicle.” Apparently not, now that California is allowing a 2012 version of the Chevy Volt to use HOV lanes, even by drivers who have no passengers. Maybe the acronym really stands for “Haughty Obama Vehicles.” Or “Hapless Odd Vehicles.” Or “Have-to Offload (these slow-selling) Vehicles.” I’m sure readers can do better.

As would be expected, no one in the press seems to be noticing (or is pretending not to notice) the irony of letting politically favored driver-only vehicles into lanes which were originally designed to encourage people to carpool. Here are a few paragraphs from one of the longer items on the topic found at 3D-Car-Shows.com:

2012 Chevrolet Volt Cleared for California Carpool Lanes
Low Emissions Package model certified for special driving privilege and rebate

A low emission model of the 2012 Chevrolet Volt electric car are on their way to California, where customers will qualify for a $1,500 state rebate and be allowed to drive solo in the state’s carpool lanes.

Volts with the Low Emissions Package, which is standard for California, began shipping from the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck plant this week and should begin arriving at the more than 140 participating Chevrolet dealerships in California before the end of the month.

Commuters who use carpool lanes in Southern California save an estimated average 36 minutes a day, or about a third of their total driving time.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is making 40,000 Clean Air Stickers available for registered vehicles that meet the state’s emissions standards. Applications can be downloaded from the DMV’s web site at dmv.ca.gov

Additionally, the new Low Emissions Package makes the 2012 Volt eligible for owners and lessees to receive up to $1,500 in state rebates through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. This incentive is in addition to a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 Clean vehicle rebate applications can be submitted online at www.energycenter.org.

California has more than 1,400 miles of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes. Originally restricted to vehicles with two or more occupants to help minimize congestion, the lanes are now open to single occupancy use by owners of advanced, low-emission vehicles.

Since enticing consumers with a variety of tax breaks and credit isn’t enough, the government has to hand out “commute breaks” as political favors to save Volt owners time each day. This is unfair to other driver-only vehicles whose owners must endure the more congested lanes. I would say that this favoritism will inconvenience current HOV lane users, but there probably still won’t be enough Volts sold to cause HOV lanes to slow down.

True Blue NZ, from which the “Fire Sale” graphic at the top of this post was obtained, made an interesting point back in January that “the bulk of these have been bought by government agencies” (if not a majority, certainly a significant percentage), whose drivers get to look down their noses at the rest of the poor peons in the slow lanes as they cruise past.

One upside: At least the drivers sitting stalled in those slow lanes won’t have to worry about having a nearby Volt catching fire and having it spread to them.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

MIT Physicist (Paraphrased): It’s All a Bunch of Globaloney

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:28 pm

Via James Delingpole at the UK Telly:

Professor Richard Lindzen is one of the world’s greatest atmospheric physicists: perhaps the greatest. What he doesn’t know about the science behind climate change probably isn’t worth knowing. But even if you weren’t aware of all this, even if you’d come to the talk he gave in the House of Commons this week without prejudice or expectation, I can pretty much guarantee you would have been blown away by his elegant dismissal of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming theory.

Dick Lindzen does not need to raise his voice. He does not use hyperbole. In a tone somewhere between weariness and withering disdain, he lets the facts speak for themselves. And the facts, as he understands them, are devastating.

Here are excerpts from the presentation:

Stated briefly, I will simply try to clarify what the debate over climate change is really about. It most certainly is not about whether climate is changing: it always is. It is not about whether CO2 is increasing: it clearly is. It is not about whether the increase in CO2, by itself, will lead to some warming: it should. The debate is simply over the matter of how much warming the increase in CO2 can lead to, and the connection of such warming to the innumerable claimed catastrophes. The evidence is that the increase in CO2 will lead to very little warming, and that the connection of this minimal warming (or even significant warming) to the purported catastrophes is also minimal. The arguments on which the catastrophic claims are made are extremely weak – and commonly acknowledged as such. They are sometimes overtly dishonest.

Given the above, the notion that alarming warming is ‘settled science’ should be offensive to any sentient individual, though to be sure, the above is hardly emphasized by the IPCC.

… one can see no warming since 1997. As Phil Jones acknowledged, there has been no statistically significant warming in 15 years. However, there are uncertainties in the above data, and small adjustments can result in negligible warming or cooling over this period. In the polarized public discourse, this leads each side to claim the other side is lying. However, Jones’ statement remains correct.

Perhaps we should stop accepting the term, ‘skeptic.’ Skepticism implies doubts about a plausible proposition. Current global warming alarm hardly represents a plausible proposition. Twenty years of repetition and escalation of claims does not make it more plausible. Quite the contrary, the failure to improve the case over 20 years makes the case even less plausible as does the evidence from climategate and other instances of overt cheating.

The full presentation plods a bit, but it’s worth the investment, or at least a skim-through. As Delingpole notes, Lindzen’s presentation caused another journalist to ask if “catastrophic global warming, like Millennium Bug, a mistake.”

Uh yeah, an even bigger one, except that it isn’t a “mistake.” It’s an authoritarian gambit disguised as science to take over and dictate the daily lives of the world’s inhabitants.

Statist Mindset at AP: Texas Court ‘Approves’ Idea That Landowners Own Underground Water

At the Associated Press on Thursday, reporter Chris Tomlinson clearly took the side of statist environmentalists in covering the Texas Supreme Court’s decision recognizing the right of landowners to pump water flowing through their property underground.

Tomlinson’s sub-headline said that the court “approved” the idea, and his text claimed that it had “expanded property owner’s rights.” All the court did was formally recognize a principle which has long applied to underground oil and gas. The dispute involved restrictions desired by the city of San Antonio on how much water two farmers could pump. Much of Tomlinson’s writeup follows below:

Water ruling favors landowners
State high court approves ownership

The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that landowners have an ownership interest in the water underneath their land, a decision that could seriously curtail statewide efforts to manage water resources.

The highly anticipated ruling is the court’s most significant decision on who owns water that flows underground.

The state and water management districts had asked the court to reconsider a 1904 decision that groundwater was too “occult and mysterious” to understand, and therefore the state could not regulate how much a property owner could pump from underground.

Scientists have since mapped how water flows through aquifers and can predict what happens downstream when someone pumps water upstream.

The city of San Antonio relies on the Edwards Aquifer for its water supply, and the authority sought to restrict pumping from it to guarantee water supplies.

The authority said it should not have to pay for reasonable restrictions on how much a landowner can pump from the aquifer. But two landowners, Burrell Day and Joel McDaniel, sued the authority, demanding to be compensated for the loss of their right to pump water for their farm.

Friday’s decision expanded a property owner’s rights, saying landowners not only had the right to pump the water, but they also actually own it in the same way a landowner may own oil and gas below their property.

The implication is that if the state wants to restrict the use of water, it must pay the landowner what the water is worth.

Imagine that. A government which wanted something for nothing has been thwarted. The Sierra Club spokesperson Tomlinson quoted thinks this is awful, citing how the ruling handicaps “the proper management of the groundwater resources needed for our state’s people and our environment.” No, it means that San Antonio’s interest in a reliable water supply now has to be balanced against the landowners’ interest in having enough water to properly farm on their property.

That seems pretty fair to me, and is clearly preferable to what the city really seemed to want, which was the ability to tell anyone anywhere on the aquifer — apparently even far outside city limits — how much water they could use, with the definition of “reasonable limits” defined by the city. Contrary to Tomlinson’s presumptive perspective of evil landowners vs. noble government, allowing that level of city control is what would have amounted to a major expansion of its powers.

Here’s another perspective, via Julie Fisher at KFYO in Lubbock which confirms how statist Tomlinson’s perspective really is:

Landowners Keep Water Rights after Texas Supreme Court Ruling

In a Texas Supreme Court ruling, landowners have ownership interests in water resources beneath their property, a decision which greatly affects statewide water management efforts. The controversial ruling says the government has no right to restrict a landowner’s usage of water underneath their property without providing proper compensation.

There had been talk of greatly restricting farmers’ water rights, as the counties and groups across the State scramble to cope with dwindling water supplies. The decision was spurred on by a lawsuit filed against the Edwards Aquifer Authority after they attempted to regulate how a farmer used his groundwater so that the resource could be used farther downstream.

That’s more like it. It was a good move on the court’s part to say “no” to the statist overreach.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (022612)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:15 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Boys Town founder to be named Servant of God

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Omaha:

Feb 25, 2012 / 04:08 pm

Father Edward Flanagan, the founder of the famous Boys Town orphanage, will be declared a “Servant of God” next month as the Archdiocese of Omaha opens his cause for beatification.

“For years many in the Omaha community and beyond have venerated the memory of Fr. Edward Flanagan,” Archbishop George Lucas said Feb. 21. “I am happy that we can begin the process of examining the holiness that was apparent in his life and ministry, to see if he might be canonized.”

The archbishop started the process at the request of the Father Flanagan League Society of Devotion. The league was formed in 1999 to advocate the opening of the cause for Fr. Flanagan’s canonization and to educate people about his life and his mission as a mentor and protector of youth.

The league’s president, Steven Wolf, said the organization is “humbled and overjoyed” by the archbishop’s acceptance of the petition to examine the priest’s heroic virtue and sanctity.

Fr. Flanagan is most famous for founding Boys Town, an orphanage for boys that grew into a major provider for at-risk children and families.

He was born July 13, 1886 in County Roscommon, Ireland. He traveled to the U.S. in 1904. He was ordained a priest in 1912 and assigned to what was then the Diocese of Omaha.

After a period of working with homeless men in Omaha, he founded a boarding house for all boys, regardless of their race or religion. He soon moved his work to Overlook Farm on the outskirts of Omaha, where he cared for hundreds of boys.

The home became known as the Village of Boys Town, growing to include a school, dormitories and administration buildings. The boys elected their own government to run the community, which became an official village in the state of Nebraska in 1936.

One of his famous phrases was “There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

AP Nonsense on Santorum: ‘Misidentified’ As Evangelical — By Time Magazine

SantorumPhonyTheologyScreenShot0212An AP report by Rachel Zoll brought to our attention by a NewsBusters tipster headlines a truly weird assertion about GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum (“Santorum benefits from mistaken religious identity”), and submits as evidence an item in a Christian magazine which in turn has its own weird headline (“Catholic Politicians You Thought Were Evangelical”).

It turns out that the Christianity Today item tells us that it’s not evangelical Christians who misidentify Santorum, whose Roman Catholic faith is well-known. The entity which committed the misidentification by deliberately including the former Pennsylvania senator on a list of “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” while acknowledging that he is a Catholic was …. Time Magazine, in February 2005. Thus, there is no support for Zoll’s headline claiming that many people “mistake” Santorum’s “religious identity,” and that he somehow “benefits.” Zheesh.

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