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Member since: Sat Sep 9, 2006, 03:59 PM
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Journal Archives

Bloomberg Businessweek: ‘It’s Global Warming, Stupid’

The cover of the year goes to Bloomberg Businessweek, "It’s Global Warming, Stupid”.

The story opens:

Yes, yes, it’s unsophisticated to blame any given storm on climate change. Men and women in white lab coats tell us—and they’re right—that many factors contribute to each severe weather episode. Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all.

Clarity, however, is not beyond reach. Hurricane Sandy demands it: At least 40 U.S. deaths. Economic losses expected to climb as high as $50 billion. Eight million homes without power. Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated. More than 15,000 flights grounded. Factories, stores, and hospitals shut. Lower Manhattan dark, silent, and underwater.

The piece goes on to provide much-needed clarity — and our favorite climate metaphor:

An unscientific survey of the social networking liter moodature on Sandy reveals an illuminating tweet (you read that correctly) from Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. On Oct. 29, Foley thumbed thusly: “Would this kind of storm happen without climate change? Yes. Fueled by many factors. Is storm stronger because of climate change? Yes.” Eric Pooley, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund (and former deputy editor of Bloomberg Businessweek), offers a baseball analogy: “We can’t say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids.”

In an Oct. 30 blog post, Mark Fischetti of Scientific American took a spin through Ph.D.-land and found more and more credentialed experts willing to shrug off the climate caveats. The broadening consensus: “Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.” Even those of us who are science-phobic can get the gist of that.

More at Think Progress.
Bloomberg/Businessweek It's Global Warming, Stupid.

ETA this scary graph from the end of the Think Progress piece:

Ye old climate change denier heavy country USA is a large part of the continent that's seen the greatest increase in natural disasters. Seems sort of fitting, no, for a country held back by corrupt politicians & corporate-guided refusal to make the changes necessary to stem the continued onslaught of climate change? Sadly, those of us who know the changes must be made and made now and who are doing what we can to lessen our carbon footprint are being taken down with the rest of the world by greedy scum for whom profit and more profit is all that matters.

Seminal Study Finds ‘Climate-Change Footprint’ In North America, ‘Continent With The Largest Increases in Disasters’]

Charles P. Pierce: Romney "is the perfect marionette in the puppet show that the new big money has

made out of our politics"


Romney continues to stubbornly refuse, in the face of a general outcry from within his own party, to release more than two years of his tax returns. He is the most easily mockable candidate in decades. (By contrast, it took real work, and a lot of money, to make John Kerry look ridiculous.) And, most spectacularly of all, only four years after the excesses of unregulated vulture capitalism nearly ate the world, stealing everything it could steal and wrecking what was left behind, with 25 million Americans either underemployed, unemployed, or vanished from the statistics entirely, the Republicans not only have chosen as their nominee a guy who made almost every dime of his money in the legalized freebooting that passed for a business community over the past 30 years, but also they have decided to run him as the guy who will fix the broken middle class, and return the country to full employment, by re-instituting all the policies that created the disaster in the first place.


As should be clear by now, the forces that make Romney a formidable candidate are far stronger than the forces that make him a ridiculous man. Nothing he does to embarrass himself in public is bad enough to overwhelm the power of what a truly remarkable liar he has become. No misstep is bad enough that it cannot be disappeared from our collective mind by a few dozen more commercials. The memory hole in this election is located in Sheldon Adelson's wallet. His is the most purely cynical campaign in recent memory, selling to a battered economy the very policies that battered it in the first place, and doing so confident in the knowledge that the country has forgotten, or has become completely confused, about what was done to it. And cynicism sells best to the cynical.


For going on 40 years now, we have been encouraged in our cynicism by the very forces of which Mitt Romney is a perfect product. The ideal of a self-governing political commonwealth did not break down in the public mind because we got smarter, or it got obsolete. It was deliberately demolished, brick by brick, by people who knew what they were doing and did it very well. They replaced it with an artificial form of populism by which self-government was destroyed as a viable option so that something called "government" could be created in its place as a kind of alien entity. The political commonwealth that was the underpinning of self-government was replaced by a consensus of cynicism freely arrived at. The entire political system was complicit in this development, but the political rewards fell almost exclusively to the rising vandal conservatism that reached its apotheosis under George W. Bush. Barack Obama supposedly was elected as a reaction against all of this and, by the time he was in office for a month, people already were calling him a failure. Now, running for re-election, the strongest and most effective sub rosa argument against the president returning to office seems to be that he failed to break down the cynicism that we are too terrified to admit is the only viable political energy left in a desiccated political process. So, perhaps, the country turns to a man who has fashioned his entire political career out of the energy of that cynicism, who can ride it like a wave.

Romney is the ideal presidential candidate for people who have been taught to hate and fear the government he purports to want to lead. He is the triumph of the cynical paradox of the person who runs for political office on the premise that he is not a politician, a sucker play for which we fall, over and over again. He is the perfect marionette in the puppet show that the new big money has made out of our politics, an exercise in political mummery guaranteed to intensify the cynicism that most people feel about the system by increasing their distance from it. (The spate of voter-suppression laws work to do this, too. Distance people from the political process that produces the people who make their laws, and you distance them from influencing how those laws get made, which makes them either futilely angry, or depressingly docile. In either case, you get what you want.) He is the perfect product of the political age we created for ourselves.

More at CPP's Esquire blog: Romney, a Gaffe-Proof Candidate for Our Cynical Times

Charles P. Pierce: Willard Romney, America's unofficial ambassador of stupid....The Culture of Oops

The Culture of Oops

Willard Romney, America's unofficial ambassador of stupid, has been working his magic in Israel for the past couple of days. This time, having learned his lesson in Great Britain, he's picking on people who can't fight back, and hauling "the hand of Providence" in as an accessory after the fact.

"And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the "hand of providence." He said similar disparity exists between neighboring countries, like Mexico and the United States.

He's also brought out Baghdad Dan Senor to rattle some sabers at Iran, pledged his love to Bibi Netanyahu, called Jerusalem the "capital" of Israel, and did everything he could to warm the withered cockles of the heart of Sheldon Adelson, the crooked casino mogul who went along because he apparently is going to run American foreign policy under the Romney administration. Stop this man before he diplomatizes again.

You're seeing the whole short post.

Links within the post:


2) As Romney Tours Israel, Sheldon Adelson Is The Money Behind The Visit

Universal access to contraception could be a life saver

In 1999 the CDC declared family planning one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century. It said, "Smaller families and longer birth intervals have contributed to the better health of infants, children, and women, and have improved the social and economic role of women."

He points out that we have the highest teen pregnancy rate among "developed" countries.

Adolescents have higher rates of preterm birth, low birth weight infants, and infant deaths. Teen mothers are more likely to drop out of high school, remain single, live in poverty, and rely on public assistance. Their children are more likely to have behavioral problems, rely heavily on public health care, drop out of high school, and become teen parents themselves. The cycle keeps repeating with these negative societal costs and an $11 billion annual cost to US taxpayers.


Contraception is literally lifesaving for women with serious medical conditions. A woman's ability to control her fertility is critical if she has heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. For these women, an unplanned pregnancy can worsen their health and, for some, could be fatal. Contraception allows these women to prevent pregnancy altogether, or to postpone a pregnancy until such time as their health improves.


Contraception is a basic and essential element of women's preventive health care and a basic public health necessity. Family planning is about freedom-the freedom to decide when and if to have children. Every woman should have this freedom through access to the same core set of essential health benefits, including contraception, regardless of what state she lives in, her income, or her employer's beliefs.

And much more at the link: Universal access to contraception could be a life saver

Written by James T. Breeden, M.D., president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Jim Hightower: Pigheaded Republicans....dogmatic, obstinate & obtuse! Classic Hightower!

Here’s some useful advice from an old country saying: Never try to teach table manners to a pig — it doesn’t work, it’ll wear you out and it just annoys the pig.

The same advice goes for anyone who thinks they can teach even a bit of common sense to the preening political ideologues who’ve taken over the Republican Party and the U.S. House of Representatives. As we’ve seen in their incessant, pigheaded attacks on the health-care reform law, their minds are not merely fogged up with extremist anti-government theories, they’re impervious to rational thought.


Their greatest failure, however, is that they offer no alternative to Obamacare. During the debate on their latest attempt to repeal the law, a Democratic lawmaker asked for a copy of the GOP’s health-care plan so he could read it aloud to other members. Silence in the chamber.


No surprise — I doubt this bunch can walk and chew gun at the same time. Though they’re a tenacious bunch! Maybe not tenacious, more like dogmatic, obstinate and obtuse, too. Pigheaded — yeah, that’s it.

A few other gems:

They throw "hissy fits"
They're into "political peacocking"
They're "just plain stupid"

And so much more. God I love Jim Hightower!

We Shall Not Be Moved! Homeless advocates & city council members protest Berkeley proposed "sit ban"

Berkeley, California - Amber, 24, who’s been living on the streets half her life, was sitting on a sunny sidewalk in downtown Berkeley last week, cuddling her three-month-old puppy and talking to a friend. But if voters approve a measure the city council placed on the November ballot, sitting on the sidewalk – after a warning – could cost her 75 dollars.


Although the council chambers was packed with those opposing the law, the city council, at the end of a dramatic meeting that went past midnight on Jul. 11, approved putting the sit ban to a vote. The proposed ordinance is similar to statutes in Seattle, Washington, Anchorage, Alaska and Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Palo Alto, California. It would ban sitting on the sidewalk in commercial areas between seven a.m. and 10 p.m.


Once the public speakers queue wound down, the meeting took an unexpected turn when several activists stood up and led the public in the civil rights protest song, “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

The three councilmembers opposing the sit ban joined the sing-along, as the five other councilmembers present left the room. When they returned, in the midst of chaos, the majority voted to place the measure on the ballot.

The rest of this heartbreaking article is at Truthout:
Being Young and Homeless in the US Could Get Even Worse

Damn, we've become a heartless country. Let's starve people, screw the workers 'til they have no resources and end up homeless and then let's make sure they can't sully our precious streets and god forbid people should have to see, hear, have anything to do with "those people." Except they're no longer treated like people......those entities.

Bill Moyers: The Cowardly Lions of Free Speech -- must read or watch the video!


"For three weeks in May, Republican super-PACs took turns attacking Democratic senator Claire McCaskill in TV ads. Republicans hadn't held their primary—it's not until August 7—but McCaskill wound up trailing all three of the GOP candidates in polls. Now McCaskill, unnerved, is struggling to recover.

"That's what super-PACs can do. When they emerged in 2010 and worked in tandem, they were a critical force in the Republican landslide in the congressional elections. This year they're playing an even bigger role. The size and reach of their efforts dwarf what they did two years ago."


And if "free speech" is a right, why all the secrecy? Why hide from voters where the money is coming from? Why not openly say you're downright proud to be exercising your First Amendment rights and that writing checks is your patriotic duty? Instead, conservatives across the country are fighting to keep their sugar daddies secret. According to their guardian angel in Congress – the highly leveraged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – the right wing opposes disclosure laws because the super-rich just might be bullied and harassed by the rest of us who want to know who's buying our elections. So that the editorial page of "The Wall Street Journal," asks us to have pity on billionaires and those little ol' corporations and their CEOs who just might have their tender feelings hurt; if they were exposed to boycotts and pickets – were it known which candidates they were buying.

SCOTUS essentially said to the 1%: "America is yours for the taking, for the buying."


That's what George III thought, too. Which brings us back to our celebration of the 4th of July, to the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson, who seems to have thought that a little uprising now and then would be good for what ails us. This time the overweening power is not the monarchy but plutocracy, the convergence of the political, religious and corporate right that would keep us in the dark about where all that money is coming from, and who it's buying, until one day we wake up and our country is no longer our own. Fortunately, those orange jump suits come in one size fits all. So remember, moneyed lords and ladies, what King George learned the hard way – you can only push your subjects so far.

I can't possibly do this unbelievably powerful piece justice selecting 4 paragraphs -- I urge everyone to read it.
THe Cowardly Lions of Free Speech

Funders Behind New Anti-Obama Ad Blitz Stay Hidden

A new and highly aggressive multi-million-dollar anti-Obama ad campaign has started airing on television stations in eight key political swing states—but for now at least, the funders are staying hidden in the shadows.

The ads in question have a distinctly oily aura, which is unsurprising, perhaps since the group sponsoring them has been funded in the past by major fossil-fuel companies. The group defines itself as a non-partisan nonprofit, but exemplifies the growing role that secret money is playing in the 2012 Presidential campaign. Technically, the ads have been produced and aired by the Washington-based American Energy Alliance, a 501c-4 social-welfare organization under the Internal Revenue Service’s tax code, whose activities, under the law, have to be largely non-political. This group shares office space and personnel with a sister organization, the Institute for Energy Research, a 501c-3, whose tax status is typically reserved for charities. Its activities have to be strictly non-partisan and non-political. Both groups hide the identities of their funders. All that Benjamin Cole, director of communications for both groups would say is that the ads are funded by “individuals, foundations, and corporations.”

Cole claims these ads aren't election related at all. Yeah, right.

He acknowledges, however, that the ads will directly blame Obama for recent increases in gas prices, despite the fact that even such conservative and libertarian voices such as Cato Institute scholars and Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal have protested that this is specious.

So who is behind the advertising campaign to push the line that Obama is to blame? Bill Burton, senior strategist at the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA believes that it comes from a familiar source. “The Koch brothers and other oil barons are using profits from high gas prices to fund false political attacks benefitting Governor Romney,” he says.

Read the rest of Jane Mayer's post at The New Yorker blog.

All courtesy the ReTHUGlican SCOTUS/Citizens United and the Koch brothers, et al.

Taibbi: Bank of America, Raging Hurricane of Theft and Fraud

The first is that it's corrupt. This bank has systematically defrauded almost everyone with whom it has a significant business relationship, cheating investors, insurers, homeowners, shareholders, depositors, and the state. It is a giant, raging hurricane of theft and fraud, spinning its way through America and leaving a massive trail of wiped-out retirees and foreclosed-upon families in its wake.

The second is that all of us, as taxpayers, are keeping that hurricane raging. Bank of America is not just a private company that systematically steals from American citizens: it's a de facto ward of the state that depends heavily upon public support to stay in business. In fact, without the continued generosity of us taxpayers, and the extraordinary indulgence of our regulators and elected officials, this company long ago would have been swallowed up by scandal, mismanagement, prosecution and litigation, and gone out of business. It would have been liquidated and its component parts sold off, perhaps into a series of smaller regional businesses that would have more respect for the law, and be more responsive to their customers.

But Bank of America hasn't gone out of business, for the simple reason that our government has decided to make it the poster child for the "Too Big To Fail" concept. Because it is considered a "systemically important institution" whose collapse would have a major, Lehman-Brothers-style impact on the economy, two consecutive presidential administrations have taken extraordinary measures to keep Bank of America in business, despite a staggering recent legacy of corruption schemes, many of which were simply overlooked by regulators.

This is why the question of whether or not Bank of America should remain on public life support is so critical to all Americans, and not just those millions who have the misfortune to be customers of the bank, or own shares in the firm, or hold mortgages serviced by the company. This gigantic financial institution is the ultimate symbol of a new kind of corruption at the highest levels of American society: a tendency to marry the near-limitless power of the federal government with increasingly concentrated, increasingly unaccountable private financial interests.

Those are just the 1st 4 paragraphs of a great piece.

USA's new massive, tax-payer sucking, terrorism industrial complex feeding spy complex. MUST READ

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.


In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.


He explains that the agency could have installed its tapping gear at the nation’s cable landing stations—the more than two dozen sites on the periphery of the US where fiber-optic cables come ashore. If it had taken that route, the NSA would have been able to limit its eavesdropping to just international communications, which at the time was all that was allowed under US law. Instead it chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country—large, windowless buildings known as switches—thus gaining access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US. The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. “I think there’s 10 to 20 of them,” Binney says. “That’s not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast.”


Binney left the NSA in late 2001, shortly after the agency launched its warrantless-wiretapping program. “They violated the Constitution setting it up,” he says bluntly. “But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in the way. When they started violating the Constitution, I couldn’t stay.” Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email. At the outset the program recorded 320 million calls a day, he says, which represented about 73 to 80 percent of the total volume of the agency’s worldwide intercepts. The haul only grew from there. According to Binney—who has maintained close contact with agency employees until a few years ago—the taps in the secret rooms dotting the country are actually powered by highly sophisticated software programs that conduct “deep packet inspection,” examining Internet traffic as it passes through the 10-gigabit-per-second cables at the speed of light.

This Wired article is a must read, IMO. It was next to impossible to pick the 4 most horrifying paragraphs in this LONG article.

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say):

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