Lazy Saturday Reads: Friday Document Dump and Clinton Conspiracy Theories

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Happy Saturday!!

 

Some pretty big news broke late yesterday: President Obama has again delayed his final decision on whether to go ahead with the Keystone XL pipeline. Presumably the announcement was deliberately held until the Friday news dump to reduce public attention to the inevitable Republican screams of outrage. From Reuters: 

The Obama administration further delayed its decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project on Friday, with no conclusion now likely until after the U.S. mid-term elections in November.

President Barack Obama has said he will have the final say on whether to allow the pipeline connecting Canada’s oil sands region to Texas refiners, and several government agencies had been given until May to weigh in. This had raised expectations of a final decision by mid-year.

But the State Department said on Friday it was extending that agency comment period, citing a need to wait until the Nebraska Supreme Court settles a dispute over what path the $5.4 billion TransCanada Corp project should take.

“That pipeline route is central to the environmental analysis for the project and if there are changes to the route it could have implications,” a senior State Department official told reporters.

Mary Landrieu

Mary Landrieu

I have to admit I was surprised and pleased. I have long suspected that Obama really wanted the pipeline, but I think I was wrong. He seems to be trying his best to avoid it. Naturally Obama has already been accused of political calculation in pushing the decision past the midterm elections. Of course the decision won’t help Democrats from oil-producing states like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who has already announced that “I plan to use my power as chair of the Senate Energy Committee to take decisive action to get this pipeline permit approved.”

The State Department told Buzzfeed that politics was not involved in the decision.

“I can’t render judgement on when the final decision could take place,” a senior State Department official said on a conference call Friday after the department announced another delay in the State Department process that could bring with it the approval or rejection of Keystone. “We want this to move as expeditiously as possible, we recognize that this is an issue of great concern to the American public, to American business and we take that extremely seriously.”

The State Department review — necessary because the pipeline crosses the Canadian border into the United States — is being held up by a state court ruling in Nebraska in favor of pipeline opponents, department officials said. That decision, which endangers the existing planned pipeline route, is under appeal andobservers say final judgement won’t come until 2015.

More reactions reported by Politico:

…the delay drew immediate scorn from pipeline supporters on both sides of the aisle in Congress. Republicans derided it as a “shameful” concession to “radical activists,” while Democratic Senate energy Chairwoman Mary Landrieu called it “irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable.”

Both of Alaska’s senators condemned the move. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, called the delay “a stunning act of political cowardice,” and Democratic Sen. Mark Begich said he was “frankly appalled at the continued foot-dragging by this administration.” Begich, like Landrieu, faces a tough reelection fight this year.

Some environmentalists complained about the Friday news dump announcement

“It’s disappointing President Obama doesn’t have the courage to reject Keystone XL right now, but this is clearly another win for pipeline opponents,” said Jamie Henn, spokesman for the climate activist group 350.org, which staged mass sit-ins outside the White House to protest the project. “We’re going to keep up the pressure on the President to make the right call.”

Naturally Canadian politicians are “disappointed.” CBC News:

“We are disappointed that politics continue to delay a decision on Keystone XL,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said. “This project will create tens of thousands of jobs on both sides of the border, will enhance the energy security of North America, has strong public support, and the U.S. State Department has, on multiple occasions, acknowledged it will be environmentally sound.”

Canadian politicians have grown increasingly irate over delays.

Alberta Premier Dave Hancock expressed frustration about “yet another delay” in the approval process of an issue he argued has been debated thoroughly enough.

“Keystone XL has been rigorously studied. We believe the project is in North America’s best interest as it provides energy security, jobs and a dependable energy source from an environmentally responsible and democratic friend and ally,” Hancock said in a statement.

TransCanada’s president and CEO Russ Girling called the delay “inexplicable” in an email to CBC News.

Lots more Canadian whining at the link.

Chelsea Clinton and husband Marc Mezvinsky

Chelsea Clinton and husband Marc Mezvinsky

The Keystone Pipeline is controversial, but apparently not as controversial as the daughter of a female potential presidential candidate getting pregnant. The bizarre conspiracy theories about Chelsea Clinton expecting a baby have already begun and they’ll probably never end.

From John Amato at Crooks and Liars: Will Chelsea Clinton’s Pregnancy Become Another Right Wing Conspiracy? Give me a break. Is the Pope Catholic? Amato knows it’s a silly question:

I’m forgetting myself because Hillary is not allowed to be a happy mother. We may see a normal life unfolding, but Teabirchers see coverups and conspiracies.

Limbaugh recently said he believes that Hillary Clinton staged the now famous shoe-throwing incident.

Maybe in my subconscious I think it was staged or set up. Lookit, I’m so, I know these people so well…I just do not attach much genuineness to them.

There were a host of others who were saying the same thing in Wingnuttia.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Hillary gets asked to comment on Chelsea’s pregnancy by the media, since that’s only natural, right? But after that happens more than once I really expect Limbaugh and all the wannabees to scream bloody murder that Chelsea’s announcement was staged, a set-up plot which is being aided by the librul media to cover up Benghazzzzzzzziiii!

And away we go! From Mediaite: Right-Wing Host Thinks Chelsea Clinton May Have ‘Staged’ Pregnancy to Help Hillary.

If you thought the Hillary Clinton “shoe truthers” were bad, wait until you meet the “baby truthers.” So far, conservative host Steve Malzberg is leading the charge with this video suggesting Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy is being effectively “staged” to help her mother win the 2016 presidential election.

And excited Malzberg announced the 34-year-old Clinton’s pregnancy, saying, “Lo and behold, Hillary was by her side” when she made the announcement. “Hillary Clinton is going to be a grandmother when she runs for president!” he exclaimed.

“Now, pardon the skeptic in me,” Malzberg continued, before predicting the oncoming criticism from Media Matters and other watchdog website. “Malzberg said this was a staged, planned pregnancy?” he imagined they would ask.

“Well, now I’m not saying, when I say staged I have to believe she’s pregnant, if she says she’s pregnant,” he said. “I don’t mean that they’re making up she’s pregnant. But what great timing! I mean purely accidental, purely an act of nature, purely just left up to God.”

“And God answered Hillary Clinton’s prayers and she’s going to have the prop of being a new grandma while she runs for president,” he continued. “It just warms the heart, it brings a tear to my eye. It really does.”

I have so many more examples that I’ll have to do a link dump without excerpts:

Vanity Fair: The Worst Reactions to Chelsea Clinton’s Pregnancy Announcement.

Slate: If It Happened There: America Awaits Royal Baby.

LA Times: Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy fuels presidential election speculation.

US News: Dumb Questions About a Grandmother-to-Be

Politico: What to expect when she’s expecting

Newsday: Bouie: Chelsea Clinton’s baby is already campaigning?

TPM: NYT Columnist Insists That Chelsea Clinton’s Baby Is A 2016 Game Changer 

ABC News: Will Clinton Baby Affect 2016, and Is It Sexist to Ask?

Honestly, can you imagine this happening to a man running for president? For example,

“How will his daughter’s pregnancy affect Rand Paul’s chances for the Republican nomination? Did he “stage” this to get positive media? Enquiring people want to know.”

Hillary beaming

In my post yesterday, I mentioned that a huge trove of papers from the Clinton administration was going to be released. Well they are out there now, and so the Clinton haters are really having a field day what with drooling over ancient history and inventing conspiracies about Chelsea’s baby.

There are tons of articles on the document dump too; I’ll give you a few examples.

ABC News: Monica Lewinsky E-Mail Omitted From Latest Batch of Clinton Documents

An email from Monica Lewinsky was omitted from the Clinton library’s latest document dump for privacy reasons….

Included in a list of withdrawn/redacted documents (commonly interspersed in the large .pdfs), midway through a batch of documents concerning Gen. Wesley Clark, is an email from Monica Lewinsky’s Pentagon email address.

Vaguely referenced as concerning a “medical record,” the omitted email is listed as four pages long.

The recipient, Ashley Raines, is identified as a Lewinsky friend and confidante in the infamous Starr Report, produced by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. The report would later disclose details of the Lewinsky affair and trigger a major scandal that led to Clinton’s impeachment. Raines served as White House Director of Office of Policy Development Operations and Special Liaison to Management and Administration, according to the report, working in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House.

In 1996, after an initial affair with the president had stopped according to the Starr report, Lewinsky described the relationship to Raines and showed her gifts allegedly given to her by Bill Clinton, including “a hat pin approximately eight inches long, an antique looking brooch the size of a half dollar, special edition copy of ‘Leaves of Grass’ by WALT WHITMAN, items from Martha’s Vineyard with ‘Black Dog’ logo, including a ball cap, and a short, baggy summer dress, and an autographed photo of the two of them wishing LEWINSKY ‘Happy Birthday,’” Raines told Starr’s investigators, with lawyers present. Lewinsky told Raines that she had confided in Linda Tripp about her relationship with Clinton.

Many more breathless details at the link.

LA Times: For Hillary Rodham Clinton, archives evoke fiery White House years.

…the latest batch of archived documents from the Clinton White House — while not particularly newsworthy — were a rather bracing reminder that the very mellow former first lady has emerged in her current happy state after many years in a White House that often took on the tone of war zone.

Mark that down as one reason why Clinton might not want to go racing back….

The documents once again underscored the combative fashion in which the Clinton White House drove its agenda, and its obsession with the administration’s adversaries.

One unsigned and undated document contained in the files of Jane Sherburne, a Special Counsel to the White House between 1994 and 1996, details theories about how the right wing, with the help of think tanks and conservative publications, was funneling “fringe” stories to the media. It also expounds on the financial powers and connections of billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, who was referred to as “The Wizard of Oz.”

Part of the problem, the memo suggested, was the fact that the Internet “allows an extraordinary amount of unregulated data and information to be located in one area and available to all.”

“The right wing has seized upon the Internet as a means of communicating its ideas to people,” the unsigned memo continues. “Moreover evidence exists that Republican staffers surf the Internet interacting with extremists in order to exchange ideas and information.”

If the LA Times thinks that is shocking, I don’t think they are following current events.

The WaPo: The most interesting tidbits from the Clinton document dump This one includes a list of 12 gossipy examples of supposed Clinton political machinations.

Here’s the best one I’ve seen yet from Buzzfeed: This Unsent Shade-Filled Letter From Clinton Staffers To A ’90s Radio Host [Don Imus] Is A Goddamn Masterpiece.

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I wish it had been sent!

I’m running out of space and time, but I do have a few more serious items I want to share. I’ll put them in the comments.

So . . . What stories are you following today? Please share your recommended links in the comment thread and have a fantastic weekend!!


Saturday Morning Reads: A little this and a little that

Good Morning!

Today’s a good day to let sleeping dogs lie!  Man, is it hot down here in the South. I can’t replace Wonk’s Saturday morning pithiness, but here’s my shot at it.

I read this in my hard copy of The Economist and thought I’d share it. It appears we are hardwired to be generous and cooperate.  Maybe somebody ought to break that news to the Homo Idioticus species now residing in the District Beltway.

At the moment co-operation is the most fashionable subject of investigation. In particular, why are humans so willing to collaborate with unrelated strangers, even to the point of risking being cheated by people whose characters they cannot possibly know?

Evidence from economic games played in the laboratory for real money suggests humans are both trusting of those they have no reason to expect they will ever see again, and surprisingly unwilling to cheat them—and that these phenomena are deeply ingrained in the species’s psychology. Existing theories of the evolution of trust depend either on the participants being relatives (and thus sharing genes) or on their relationship being long-term, with each keeping count to make sure the overall benefits of collaboration exceed the costs. Neither applies in the case of passing strangers, and that has led to speculation that something extraordinary, such as a need for extreme collaboration prompted by the emergence of warfare that uses weapons, has happened in recent human evolution to promote the emergence of an instinct for unconditional generosity.

We’ve also seen how the elderly are going to be treated by the current group of knuckle draggers occupying the District Beltway. Did Bronze Age elderly fare any better? Cambridge researcher Jo Appleby compared the graves of children to old people to get some clues. She found distinct difference in grave goods in many categories of people including sex, age, and presumed social status.

When Appleby compared the items in the graves of older people with the items in the graves of younger people, she turned up some intriguing patterns. In the earlier period, older women tended not to be buried with certain objects that appeared more frequently in younger people’s graves. But the elderly weren’t left with nothing, Appleby said.

“They had really good numbers of objects, and they had some of the richer objects, it was just that particular things weren’t found with them,” she said. For example, unlike their younger counterparts, older women didn’t get buried wearing necklaces made of dog teeth.

Later, in the newer cemetery, this age differentiation vanished. Women wore different items than female children, but the age at which a woman died made no difference in her grave goods.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting with her Canadian counterpart  John Baird to discuss a possible US pipeline for oil from Canadian oil sands.  The process of removing oil from sands is expensive and damaging to the environment so in many quarters this is controversial.  It also should be noted that pipelines are known to leak and this is going to head down through some pristine ranch, farming, and recreation territory. However, Canada has been up to its knees in the process for some time–destroying a lot of wilderness in places like Alberta–and would like to see the cash from a pipe that extends from down to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico.  It would pass through six states.

The US government will decide by year’s end whether to issue a permit for a proposed $13 billion oil pipeline stretching from Canada to Texas, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday.

The 1,700-mile (2,700-kilometer) Keystone XL pipeline proposed by TransCanada would begin in Alberta in western Canada and pass through the US states of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma before ending up in Texas at the Gulf of Mexico.

An extensive review has been performed, featuring analysis and assessments, as well as looking over public comments.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in this process and we expect to make a decision on the permit before the end of this year,” Clinton said during a press conference with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.

Baird described a “good discussion” with the chief US diplomat on the matter, adding that Clinton “listened respectfully.”

“It is a very important project not just for our government, but I think for Canadians and the future of the Canadian economy,” he said.

The US State Department says it expects to release a final environmental impact statement on the proposed pipeline by mid-August.

A Republican-led congressional committee voted at the time for a resolution urging Clinton to “immediately approve” the project, which would guarantee oil access for the US.

But a number of environmental and citizen groups have launched a fight against the pipeline because of the oil’s origin. The unconventional oil sands of Alberta require energy that produces a large volume of greenhouse gasses.

Okay, it’s still hot down here. That hasn’t changed since you read the first bit.  Frankly, I think it’s hotter.  Slate has an article with a good heading up and it’s called  Can a Heat Wave Make You Insane? If you ask me, the answer is yes. Let me introduce you to some folks I know that seemed pretty normal when they moved down here to the tropics from way up north.

It depends on how hot it is, and whether you’re mentally stable to begin with. Intense heat increases the risk of dehydration, and even mild dehydration can affect the brain. A study published this summer tested two dozen college-age men and found that a loss of 1 percent body mass via exercise-induced sweating (replaceable with three glasses of water) decreased their cognitive performance and increased levels of anxiety.

Dramatic overheating can also lead to heatstroke, symptoms of which progress from confusion and irritability to hallucinations, violent behavior, and delirium. In animal models, overheating causes some neurons to become more excitable, which might underlie the psychiatric effects. Most of these are transient—cool off and they go away—but heatstroke may lead to long-term brain damage. (It can also kill you.) You won’t keep hallucinating for years to come, but you might end up a little clumsy or slur your speech. Case reports that have been pointed out to us by the folks at the office of Wolf & Pravato personal injury attorneys show that through heatstroke, long-lasting personality changes (similar to those caused by traumatic brain injury) also exist, but this complication appears to be rare.

Those of you with tinfoil hats may want to consider changing to something a little less metallic because a major geomagnetic storm is hitting Earth right now. Those of you up north should check for the infamous Northern Lights.  Evidently Seattle is set to get some so if you’ve got the rare clear sky up there, check them out. I already called the sister and she’s checking them out from her weekend retreat on the Puget Sound.

A massive solar storm hit Earth on August 5, raising the possibility of auroras being visible even at relatively low latitudes, as well as potential disruptions to communications satellites and GPS devices.

“My estimate is we will probably get aurorae in the northern tier of the U.S.,” physicist Brian J. Anderson told the Baltimore Sun’s meteorology blogger. “We might be able to see it in the Baltimore-Washington area if it [the magnetic field in the solar storm] turns due south.”

According to spaceweather.com, the burst of radio static which reached the earth on the evening of August 4th — prior to the main electromagnetic blast — was “so powerful that receivers on Earth picked it up after sunset.” Events of that kind are extremely rare, and radio astronomers have never been able to offer a conclusive explanation for how they happen.

So, you want to see a picture of the real Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds?

Lucy Vodden was the subject of a painting brought home from nursery school by a young Julian Lennon, who showed it to his dad, John, and told him it was “Lucy — in the sky with diamonds”.

Julian got back in touch with Lucy a few years agi when he heard that she was battling Lupus, an auto-immune disease.

Now, a plaque commemorating the woman who inspired the Beatles’ hit, will be placed in Liverpool in memory of Vodden who died in 2009 at age 46. (See the original painting below)

Following her death, Lennon became heavily involved with St Thomas’ Lupus Trust, which commissioned the plaque, and he become the Lupus Foundation of America’s Global Ambassador.

Okay, I need another glass of ice tea.  The big question is if I can face a drive in a hot car to the grocery store.  So, now it’s up to you. What’s on you reading and blogging list today?