AlterNet

What They Voted For: Swampstyle

#DrainTheSwamp | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Ital Vardi brings this wonderful bit of news for the Huffington Post:

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is a shareholder in a private Montana company that manufactures and sells firearms and advanced weapons materials, a financial interest he did not disclose when nominated last year.

In response to inquiries from HuffPost, both Zinke and the company, PROOF Research Inc., confirmed the secretary’s holdings, though the dollar value placed on them varied. This previously undisclosed holding comes to light after numerous decisions in his first year in office that benefited the hunting and gun industries.

PROOF Research Inc. was first established in 2011 in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana, under the name Extreme Precision Armaments Inc., according to state of Montana business records. The company specializes in the production of lightweight rifles with high-precision carbon fiber barrels for hunting and military applications and was born as a merger of four smaller firearms and gun parts companies. It later changed its name to PROOF Research Inc. and moved to the nearby town of Columbia Falls.

According to the company’s website, its facility in Columbia Falls produces “the world’s finest composite barrels, stocks, and complete rifles.” A second facility in Dayton, Ohio, makes specialized high-temperature composite materials for the aerospace and defense industries, including components for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and B-2 stealth bomber.

Obvious questions present themselves, but there is also something inherently clownish about the brazen stupidity of the omission, and given everything else, Steve Benen’s point last week, that the “Interior Secretary can’t seem to stay out of trouble”, resonates anew. There is also some impulse to raise an eyebrow at the seeming strangeness of a small firearms firm with such specialized defense-industry pedigree.

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The Amazin’ Amazon “Race to the Bottom”

#situp | #rollover | #beg

"Tax breaks to Amazon promised by New Jersey: $7 billion. Tax breaks promised by Illinois: $2 billion. Something is deeply wrong with our economy & democracy when local governments offer up their tax base to a corporation worth over $500 billion." [Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN05), via Twitter, 18 January 2017]

Julia Conley, via AlterNet:

Critics of Amazon’s “race to the bottom” as it searches for a home for its second headquarters said on Thursday that the company’s newly released shortlist of 20 cities highlights a crisis in the U.S. economy—one exemplified by the huge incentives offered to Amazon in the bidding war among potential hosts.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) was among those slamming Amazon and the state and local governments willing to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to the extremely wealthy multinational company.

Rep. Keith Ellison [D-MN05]. (Photo by Greg Nash)Tax breaks to Amazon promised by New Jersey: $7 billion. Tax breaks promised by Illinois: $2 billion. Something is deeply wrong with our economy & democracy when local governments offer up their tax base to a corporation worth over $500 billion.

Nor is this really new. But, yes, if this is the American Way, then we might wish to wonder why.

____________________

Image note: Top — Tweet by Rep. Keith Ellison, 18 January 2017.  Right — Rep. Keith Ellison. (Photo by Greg Nash)

Conley, Julia. “Keith Ellison: Desperate Bids for New Amazon HQ Prove Something ‘Deeply Wrong’ With America”. AlterNet. 19 January 2018.

Ellison, Keith. “Tax breaks to Amazon”. Twitter. 18 January 2018.

What They Voted For: Clash of Incivility

#antiAmerican | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Detail of cartoon by Matt Bors, 9 February 2017.

Joe Conason asks the obvious question:

What if the purpose of the Trump administration’s travel ban is not to protect America from terrorist infiltration, as the president and his top advisers insist? What if the true aim of their anti-Muslim rhetoric, articulated over and over again, is actually to offend Muslims—and intensify their alienation from the West?

The big variable here is why. That part makes no sense.

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Coffee

A coffee cup at Terra Vista.  Detail of photo by B. D. Hilling, 2013.

And then there is coffee.

Adda Bjarnadóttir considers the obvious question, and, yes, those of us who count coffee among staples ought to check in every once in a while:

You can expect to get around 95 mg of caffeine from an average cup of coffee.

However, this amount varies between different coffee drinks, and can range from almost zero to over 500 mg.

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Huckabeastly

Mike Huckabee, circa 2012. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

“It came as a bit of a surprise, then, when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said late Friday that he would disclose his plans for the 2016 presidential race on May 5. This wasn’t an announcement, so much as it was an announcement about an announcement (at which point, the far-right Arkansan may or may not make an announcement).”

Benen

This is actually an interesting point, but only in an obscure way. Armchair wonkery often seems nearly occult to those who prefer their theatrical performances from the sports or celebrity-gossip sectors, but there is something about drowning one’s announcement of an announcement in the Friday afternoon cascade. The intersection of the Friday news dump with Mike Huckabee is just one of those things, you know?

For Steve Benen, then, it seems that Mr. Huckabee is already acting like a candidate, which is important because the next place our attention goes is to Miranda Blue’s report for Right Wing Watch:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee claimed in an interview with Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson yesterday that the Obama administration has “an open hostility toward the Christian faith,” and urged prospective military recruits to wait until the end of President Obama’s term to enlist ....

.... “There’s nothing more honorable than serving one’s country and there’s no greater heroes to our country than our military,” he responded, “but I might suggest to parents, I’d wait a couple of years until we get a new commander-in-chief that will once again believe ‘one nation under god’ and believe that people of faith should be a vital part of the process of not only governing this country, but defending this country.”

And while it is always tempting to pounce on the superficial bait, given Republican militaristic bluster about patriotism and supporting the troops and backing the president during wartime, we should not let such low-hanging fruit obscure the forest of stupidity the former Arkansas governor would help cultivate.

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