Ethics? We have none.

An NYT investigation has turned up some disturbing facts about many Republican Attorneys General: they are in bed with big oil and energy, trying to block EPA regulations. Evidence shows there is an

. . . unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt [AG, Oklahoma] and other Republican attorneys general have formed with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year.

[snip]

Out of public view, corporate representatives and attorneys general are coordinating legal strategy and other efforts to fight federal regulations, according to a review of thousands of emails and court documents and dozens of interviews.

“When you use a public office, pretty shamelessly, to vouch for a private party with substantial financial interest without the disclosure of the true authorship, that is a dangerous practice,” said David B. Frohnmayer, a Republican who served a decade as attorney general in Oregon. “The puppeteer behind the stage is pulling strings, and you can’t see. I don’t like that.”

And the Republicans have the gall to complain about “special interest groups” helping the Democrats. The GOP’s groups have a helluva lot more money than any one of the lobbying outfits that try to influence the Democrats’ thinking or policies.

This may not be an illegal practice, but it skirts the lines of ethics. After all, states’ Attorneys General are supposed to be “the people’s lawyer,” not “the 1-percenters’ lawyer.” Fracking may destroy aquifers and the quality of life for unknown numbers of citizens, but hey, it’s good for energy companies, so the AG is helping “the people,” right?

It’s slimy.

Get your tickets now

This song was written in 1960 by Charles Brown, who sings it here, and Gene Redd. It’s a seasonal favorite and has been covered by a whole lot of people from a whole lot of genres, including The Eagles, Jon Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny, B.B. King, Lady Antebellum, and Kelly Clarkson.

Who’ll be the next in line?

To be uncharged by a grand jury, I mean. After what we’ve seen in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island, I fully expect that if a grand jury is empaneled to judge whether that incompetent cop who shot Tamir Rice in Cleveland should be bound over for trial the evidence will be judged too light to force him to trial too. At this stage, why not?

The American system of justice is collapsing from both ends. At the bottom, white cops can kill black men and children without fear of consequence. At the top, the Supreme Court has been adjudicating cases in a partisan manner since Bush v. Gore in 2001.

I don’t have any idea what to do about it, either.

Don’t you guys know how to fight?

Last week President Obama threatened to veto a “tax extender” bill the House wanted to pass. It would have done lots of things that might be useful:

The emerging tax legislation would make permanent 10 provisions, including an expanded research and development tax credit, which businesses and the Obama administration have wanted to make permanent for years; a measure allowing small businesses to deduct virtually any investment; the deduction for state and local sales taxes; the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college costs; deductions for employer-provided mass transit; and four different breaks for corporate and charitable giving.

Smaller measures already passed by the Senate Finance Committee, from tax breaks for car-racing tracks to benefits for racehorse owners, would be extended for one year and retroactively renewed for the current tax year.

But it would have left out two of the things Democrats believe in most:

a permanently expanded earned-income credit and a child tax credit for the working poor. Friday night, Republican negotiators announced they would exclude those measures as payback for the president’s executive order on immigration, saying a surge of newly legalized workers would claim the credit, tax aides from both parties said.

There’s no evidence any surge of workers would do any such thing, of course, but that doesn’t matter to Boehner’s Bunch.

But my complaint is that the Democrats didn’t publicly point and laugh at the noted absence of any effort to pay for these giveaways. When the Dems were in charge the Republicans insisted on what was called PayGo, meaning you paid for what you spent out of current funds available. You didn’t simply add to the deficit; you had to find offsetting areas of the budget which could be reduced by the amount you now wanted to spend on this new thing. You can argue that in times of deep financial difficulty you should borrow to finance government activities (like building much-needed infrastructure), but good luck persuading the Tea Party zealots that that’s a good idea.

So why have no Democrats been demanding that PayGo rules be followed now? C’mon, guys, you’re in a bare-knuckle fight with these people; put down the big fluffy boxing gloves.

2014 Christmas Music

There are a fair number of Christmas albums from recognizable names this season, including Idina Menzel and Darius Rucker. There’s an a capella album from Pentatonix, an R&B one from warhorses Earth Wind & Fire, one from opera’s Renée Fleming, and one from Seth Macfarlane. It turns out Macfarlane is a pianist and singer as well as animator and producer.

There are other new ones, but these caught my eye.