Archive for category Disaster
Chris Hayes is the first cable host to interview Tim DeChristopher. Rachel Maddow announced such an interview a couple of years ago, but then substituted some hack from EarthJustice who didn’t approve of civil disobedience.
My favorite part is when Tim explains that it’s already too late to avoid the tipping points that trigger drastic climate change, but that makes it even more urgent to reform our political system. The current corrupt regime won’t be able to cope with a planetary emergency.
I am about out of energy for this week. But I do have the smoking remains of an irony meter sitting in the corner crying to be heard. And a tiny little mangled… something. Something Confucius might have called Ren. Something I almost forgot about. Read the rest of this entry »
Worst. King. Ever. “Game of Thrones” Joffrey Baratheon. “You can’t talk to me like that. The king can do as he likes!”
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is the best show on TV. Unfortunately, powerful people behaving badly isn’t only the stuff of fiction.
Out of 141 countries, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon.
In 1983 the poorest 47% of America had $15,000 per family, 2.5 percent of the nation’s wealth.
In 2009 the poorest 47% of America owned ZERO PERCENT of the nation’s wealth (their debt exceeded their assets).
Inequality is stifling our economy, because the customers business depends on are broke. The Consumer Confidence Index dropped 8 points this month, as Washington politicians imposed austerity and higher taxes on what’s left of the middle class. There are still 12 million Americans who need jobs. Most Americans have experienced unemployment at some level in the past five years. Yale Economist Robert Shiller warns that the massive losses suffered in the housing market won’t be made good anytime soon.
We need jobs and a stable economy. All we’re getting from Washington is budget cuts and more talk of dismantling Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The “Affordable Care Act” is going to make health insurance less affordable.
Perhaps in a Hall of Fame somewhere in a child’s imagination or somewhere else:
Somehow a catolog of great music spanning decades doesn’t measure up to the Rock n’ Roll hall of fame.
If I were they, I would tell them to keep it!
I’m sure The Moodies don’t really want my input here. I once heard a horrible story about people in wheelchairs showing up at their concerts wanting to be healed.
All they were trying to do is enlighten us.
As we near the tenth anniversary of the USA’s illegal invasion of Iraq, we still haven’t been told a credible reason why it happened. However, a new report by the “Costs of War” project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies totals up the costs of America’s dumbest war.
Among the group’s main findings:
- More than 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence in Iraq have been civilians — an estimated 134,000. This number does not account for indirect deaths due to increased vulnerability to disease or injury as a result of war-degraded conditions. That number is estimated to be several times higher.
- The Iraq War will ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion. Because the Iraq war appropriations were funded by borrowing, cumulative interest through 2053 could amount to more than $3.9 trillion.
- The $2.2 trillion figure includes care for veterans who were injured in the war in Iraq, which will cost the United States almost $500 billion through 2053.
- The total of U.S. service members killed in Iraq is 4,488. At least 3,400 U.S. contractors have died as well, a number often under-reported.
- Terrorism in Iraq increased dramatically as a result of the invasion and tactics and fighters were exported to Syria and other neighboring countries.
- Iraq’s health care infrastructure remains devastated from sanctions and war. More than half of Iraq’s medical doctors left the country during the 2000s, and tens of thousands of Iraqi patients are forced to seek health care outside the country.
- The $60 billion spent on reconstruction for Iraq has not gone to rebuilding infrastructure such as roads, health care, and water treatment systems, but primarily to the military and police. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has found massive fraud, waste, and abuse of reconstruction funds.
NOW they tell us we need to cut Social Security and Medicare because we cannot afford such extravagances.
Study: Iraq War Cost U.S. $2.2 Trillion, Claimed Nearly 200,000 Lives
Iraq War Cost U.S. More Than $2 Trillion, Could Grow to $6 Trillion, Says Watson Institute Study
Study: Iraq War Cost More Than $2 Trillion, Killed At Least 134,000 Civilians
UPDATE: Nobody in authority has ever credibly explained why the U.S. invaded Iraq. John Tirman offers his take:
In my view, the Bush regime’s motives were instead about getting rid of Saddam, transforming the Middle East, protecting Israel, and guaranteeing access to oil.
UPDATE: Aaron Belkin adds another possible reason for invading Iraq:
[Karl Rove] anticipated, correctly, that the war would divide the Democrats down the middle, and that the division would benefit the Bush administration politically. An appreciation of the administration’s political motivations deepens our understanding of why the debate over whether to go to war was so dishonest, in that senior officials’ accurate anticipation of a political windfall reinforced their insensitivity to evidence about risks and costs. The decision for war, in other words, was deeply political and deeply cynical. Explanations of the war that overlook the political dimension are incomplete.
Recently we learned that real disposable income was down in January, partly due to the payroll tax hike that was part of the “fiscal cliff” deal. The federal government went over the so-called “cliff” anyway.
Today there was a party on Wall Street as the Dow Jones industrial average reached a record high shortly after the opening bell. It’s on track to close above the previous record of 14,164 reached on Oct. 9, 2007. It’s up 7.8 percent for the year. Some call it a “TINA market,” for “there is no alternative.” Interest on savings and bond yields are at rock bottom due to Fed policy, forcing investors to rely on stocks.
However, as Pat Garofalo points out on Think Progress, workers’ wages as a percentage of the economy are hovering near record lows.
Hey, check out what happened with wages during the Clinton administration (1993-2000). Only time since 1970 that wages recovered after a recession.
As Quartz’s Matt Phillips put it, “in many ways Americans are still sucking wind after the gut punch they suffered in 2008.” In fact, the richest 1 percent of Americans have captured 121 percent of the income gains achieved during the current recovery, meaning everyone else has actually lost ground in terms of income since the economy bottomed out.
Those jobs we lost in Bush’s Great Recession have either not come back, or they have been replaced by lower-paying jobs. Party on, Wall Street.
Robert Reich: Why There’s a Bull Market for Stocks and a Bear Market for Workers
Rarely before in American history have public policies so radically helped the most fortunate among us, so cruelly harmed the least fortunate, and exposed so many average working Americans to such widespread insecurity.
In the most recent issue of the The Weekly Standard, conservative standard setter Bill Kristol, says about the GOP, “One is reminded of Eric Hoffer’s remark, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” It may be that major parts of American conservatism have become such a racket…”
This discussion encapsulates what I believe with be the most common thesis of the post-game analysis of what happened to the GOP in the decades to come. The 2012 campaign saw a GOP not only surrender all standards for decency and honesty but they eventually fell in line and applauded blatant deliberate deception.
Mitt Romney’s campaign is best described in simple terms as a string of lies. The hypocrisy required by the average republican to support Romney’s candidacy in spite of the blatant, unabashed deception at the expense of ANY vestige of the concept of truth, demands one consider that today’s Republican voter is so devoid of integrity that some sort of sanction is appropriate.
What good can possibly come from the further participation of Republicans in the good governance of this great democracy? It is time to disenfranchise Republican party members.
I think it is time to take away their guns and pack them off to the FEMA detention camps Obama is building all over the country.
Another horrifying round of attacks on the besieged people of Gaza, just ahead of the Israeli elections. Pam Bailey on AlterNet:
The right to self-defense (most often through “retaliation”) is enshrined in international law and was America’s own first response after it was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Why was it ethical for the U.S., but not for Palestinians?
As one young Gazan wrote on Facebook: “When you see your family killed by Israeli soldiers in front of your eyes and you see your house demolished in front of you, you feel so angry that you want to fight back. But once you fight back, you are called a terrorist and the aggressor becomes the victim who has the right of defense.”
Israel started it, again. And the blockade of Gaza continues.
Israel does not accept Palestine’s right to exist, even though it is constantly demanding that everyone, including the displaced and occupied Palestinians, recognize Israel’s right to exist.
UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald: The ‘both-sides-are-awful’ dismissal of Gaza ignores the key role of the US government. “The temptation to wash one’s hands of the whole conflict is understandable, but US support of Israel is a central force driving it all.”
I am an analogy kind of guy. I think they are incredible tools for making connections and explaining new and difficult ideas. In my opinion, nothing beats a good analogy for sheer explanatory might. So you can guess how this quotes strikes me.
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.”
This has been a thoroughly dishonest presidential campaign in which all our politicians carefully avoided any mention of climate change, because it might offend the Koch Brothers or Exxon. Not too long ago, Mitt Romney and his speechwriters thought they’d come up with a clever new way to mock President Obama: they ridiculed his 2008 promise to “slow the rise of the oceans.” Campaigning in Minnesota yesterday, former President Bill Clinton suggested that joke is a lot less funny now, with streets flooded in New York and New Jersey.
Hurricane Sandy did an estimated $50 billion in damage, not to mention the cost of shutting down New York City and a large part of the East Coast for two days. The New York Stock Exchange closed due to weather for the first time since 1888. Because New York is a media hub, the World Wide Web and TV programming were affected by the storm.
The real world has finally intruded on our political discourse, but unfortunately it took a large-scale weather disaster to break through.
UPDATE: Post-Sandy, Rush Limbaugh still thinks climate change is a hoax.
“Neither party wants to offend the fossil fuel industry,” he told Current TV host Cenk Uygur. “They want to win the election, and they know the power of the fossil fuel industry. You can’t turn on your television without seeing these advertisements about clean coal, clean tar sands and the claim that there’s more jobs associated with fossil fuels than other industries. That’s of course not true, but they’re hammering that into the voters’ heads.”
CNN’s Erin Burnett is “Out Front” with the misinformation:
For a fourth straight day, gas prices in California reached a record high. A gallon of gas is 87 cents more there than the national average. The high prices are the result of a shortage. One way to bring costs down costs? Drill for more oil.
Today, Shell was doing just that – drilling into the Arctic sea floor for the first time in 20 years. The company expects to find enough oil to eventually meet one-fifth of America’s needs.
In reality, there is a world market for oil. Last year, the U.S. was a net exporter of oil for the first time since 1949. Did gasoline fall to the inflation-adjusted 1949 price of just over $2 a gallon? No. A glut of oil in North America simply means more exports and more oil company profits, not savings for consumers. CNN is wrong.
At the end of August, the Center for Biological Diversity issued a warning (emphasis added):
“By opening the Arctic to offshore oil drilling, President Obama has made a monumental mistake that puts human life, wildlife and the environment in terrible danger. The harsh and frozen conditions of the Arctic make drilling risky, and an oil spill would be impossible to clean up,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Scariest of all, the Obama administration is allowing Shell to go forward without even having the promised oil-spill containment equipment in place.”
Drill Baby Drill. It’s like the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe never happened.
President Obama Doubles Down on ‘Drill Baby Drill’ (June 21, 2012)
How Big is the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill? (May 13, 2010)
President McCain: ‘Drill Baby Drill’ (March 31, 2010)