Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nobody could have predicted

By Creature

That the day before Dick Cheney is set to appear on a Sunday news show an article would be published in The Washington Post giving credence to the disgraced vice president's "torture worked" claim. How very Judith Miller of them.

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Tim Pawlenty, good Republican

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Well, give Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty credit. With his eyes clearly on 2012, he certainly understands that the only way he stands a winning chance is by sucking up to the right-wing insanitarium that the Republican Party has become. Here's Bloomberg:

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate, charged that President Barack Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus program still isn't working and that his health-care overhaul proposal would lead to medical rationing.

With only 15 to 20 percent of the money spent, it "would be ludicrous to claim" the stimulus program is "what pivoted" the $14.1 trillion economy "at the so-called bottoming or now a potential beginning of recovery," Pawlenty said.

So what "pivoted" the economy, then? What slowed down the economic collapse -- albeit without reversing the decline, yet -- during this time of historic crisis? If not the stimulus, what? Luck? Prayer?

As if that weren't not enough, Pawlenty also pushed the "death panel" lie, in so doing aligning himself with Sarah Palin, another 2012 possibility.

So, to recap: If you're a Republican on the rise, and looking ahead with national ambition to 2012, you reach out for your party's support by attacking both the economic stimulus package and health-care reform -- and by lying about both. Presumably, as alternatives, a good Republican prefers that the economy essentially self-destruct and that a prohibitively costly, dysfunctional health-care system that leaves tens of millions of Americans without care or adequate coverage continue to drag the country down.

Thanks for clearing that up, Governor.

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Summer raving

By Capt. Fogg

Those lazy, hazy, crazy conspiracy theories of Summer are still with us and not just in the deep South. Majikthise gives us a clip of Glenn Beck, Fox News' designated madman, discussing the prospect of Americorps being a cover for President Obama's own private army - a kind of American SS if you will. Just the kind of zombie troops he will need to disarm the Armed Retards of Texas and deliver our country into the hands of Sauropods from Saturn. Just like FDR did with the WPA.

Obama has given the job training and public service agency "half a trillion dollars" to turn them into an elite fighting force to use against Americans, presumably after the Pentagon balks and Blackwater opts out. The Pentagon would be jealous of all that funding - if there was a particle of truth in this seditious crock of Glennbeckery.

Now don't get me wrong, I do not reject conspiracy theories out of hand. There certainly were some involved in bringing on Bush's Second War and a number of less violent ones involving raiding the public treasury, but I say that because there is credible evidence for it. There never is for Beck's ravings. In fact the idea seems to be that total absence of evidentiary support is not only proof of conjecture, but a large screen upon which to project the ideas he comes up with by sticking his head in a paper bag full of aromatic hydrocarbons. Never mind the proof of his dishonesty, the folks who have been backed into a corner don't care about evidence. The people who hired him care nothing at all whether their viewers are human or subhuman or anti-human as long as they tune in, turn on and freak out.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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So what the hell's a "public option"?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Nate Silver reports on a new poll that shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike (if more the latter than the former, predictably enough), really have no idea what a "public option" would be.

Only 37%, in fact, correctly identified it. The rest either didn't know or thought it was a co-op network or a national, British-style system.

What the poll also shows is that there is fairly widespread support, including among Republicans, for "a new federal health insurance plan that individuals could purchase if they can’t afford private plans offered to them," even if this isn't exactly a great definition of the proposed public option.

As Nate argues, the poll is fairly manipulative in places. Still, it reminds us not to underestimate the extent of public ignorance -- much of it, if not all of it, generated by anti-reform propaganda. It is simply essential that proponents of reform, including the president, counter this propaganda with a concerted effort to educate the public about what exactly reform would mean, about what choices individuals would have, about what a new government-run alternative would offer.

Or is it already too late for that?

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Mike Huckabee

By Michael J.W. Stickings


Last week it was for saying that "Evangelicals" (e.g., Christian Zionists like him) are more supportive of Israel than American Jews. Don't even get me started on that nonsense again.

Today it's for saying that, under Obamacare, Ted Kennedy would literally have been told to "go home to take pain pills and die."

Seriously. That's a direct quote.

Now, I'm not sure if Huckabee is just stupid, or what. Does he just not get it, or is he just a malicious liar, the sort of loose-with-the-truth ideologue who spins right-wing propaganda and advances Republican objectives? That is, does he know that he's lying or not? Maybe it's all mixed up in some hyper-partisan mental mash, with Huckabee and his ilk simply unable to tell anymore, if they ever could, what is true and what isn't -- or maybe, just maybe, they think that whatever they say, whatever they believe, is true.

Regardless, saying that Kennedy would have been left to die, and thereby trying to score political points off his death, is just repugnant.

I mean, really? Opponents of reform -- the sort of meaningful reform Kennedy fought for his whole life, reform with a robust public option -- were the ones who had Kennedy's back, whereas Kennedy's own friends would essentially have killed him off even earlier? Would Kennedy really have supported such reform if it had meant it would have left the elderly to die without adequate care?

Come on, this is fucking ridiculous, which is pretty much what Huckabee is. He calls Kennedy "heroic" and praises him for choosing to keep fighting for his life, and yet he continues to wage a campaign of lies against health-care reform?

It's crazy, yes, but it's also shameless, an appalling abuse of Kennedy's life, death, and legacy.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

We won't soon see his like again

By Edward Copeland

As we get further from the news of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's passing (I write this minutes before the wake is set to begin), I find myself getting sadder and sadder. I always liked the man, though I never met him, but when you look at the list of legislative accomplishments he had a hand in in his 47 years in the Senate, it truly is extraordinary.

He truly was what a senator should be. Sure, he had flaws in his private life, but there never was a hint of a scandal related to his work on Capitol Hill. He never chased lobbyists for cash to run campaigns and gave them favors in return. He wasn't a showhorse, especially once he gave up his quest for the presidency. He rarely appeared on the Sunday news shows. He did his job and did it well.

What makes me weep the most are the personal stories that keep popping up from all quarters. The conservative Republican father grieving for his son killed in Iraq at his son's grave at Arlington turning around and seeing Kennedy for the first time in his life and complaining about the improper armor on humvees. Kennedy had hearings within weeks and got the humvees properly protected.

The stories of how he seemed to be the first to call when someone faced a tragedy or send a surprise gift to someone he barely knew when they had a child. How when one of his children and G. Gordon Liddy's daughter were graduating from the same private school while Liddy was in prison, serving his time for Watergate. Obviously, the girl did not have an easy time of it, being the daughter of Liddy. At the ceremony, Kennedy sought her out, gave her a big hug and told her not to worry that her dad was very proud of her.

A relative of conservative pundit Pat Buchanan worked in George W. Bush's White House and was given the task of the delivering to the Senate Judiciary Committee members the name of a new appointee for an appellate court. The first senate sort of shrugged it off, saying, "Another right winger." Kennedy welcomed the young man into his office gregariously and showed him around, pointing out photos and mementos. Buchanan said when the young man returned, he was walking on air.

Kennedy came from a life of privilege, but his passion was for the little guy and those who needed help to avoid oppression.

With the ugliness of politics today, it's a double tragedy that we have not only lost this great man, but the Congress has lost a member who knew why they were there instead of getting stuck in partisan mudslinging and not crafting anything worthwhile. The wake is about to start. Time for me to weep some more for everyone's Uncle Ted.

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Heck of a job

By Capt. Fogg

Which patients should get a share of limited resources, and who decides? What does it mean to do the greatest good for the greatest number, and does that end justify all means? Where is the line between appropriate comfort care and mercy killing? How, if at all, should doctors and nurses be held accountable for their actions in the most desperate of circumstances, especially when their government fails them?

These are the questions asked in the New York Times magazine article about New Orleans' Memorial Hospital. You'll remember that, abandoned and without power with high winds and rising water making evacuation impossible, some patients, perhaps as many as 17 were given lethal doses of morphine and sedatives as an alternative to letting them suffer and die of heat, dehydration, starvation, drowning or from the failure of the machines keeping them alive. While the times appears to be asking questions about personal responsibility, the timing makes it vulnerable to being boarded and looted.

Rightly suspecting the imminent hijacking of this story by anti-health care propagandists, Hanna Rosin writes "preemptively" at Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish that:

[T]his story shows the opposite of what would happen under government mandated health care reform. The reason the hospital staff got stuck having to make all these terrible decisions is because they were abandoned, and on their own. There were no established procedures, no regulations, no guidelines. There was just them, exhausted and overwhelmed, and a few dozen very ill patients unhooked from their respirators.

Would an HMO or a privately owned, for-profit facility have been better prepared or better able to get National Guard helicopters to the scene ipso facto? We can expect to hear that this is a logical conclusion. It's not.

I'm sure Rosin is right and that this, like any other pieces of flotsam that can be dragged out of the flood and into the argument, will be used to show that the government is poison and corporations are the antidote. In fact, that the government was unable to help in this circumstance owes much to the lack of planning and disdain for taking responsibility that has followed upon decades of Reagan-inspired sabotage of our institutions. Since there never really has been real evidence for the Reagan theorem that government is the problem because it is the government and government has no solutions and government should give way to private, for profit management, the Republican controlled administrations have been forced to manufacture a scenario by insuring impotence, corruption and incompetence in almost all areas, including most obviously FEMA.

The Dish quotes an unidentified staff member as saying:

This was totally against every fiber in my body. [But] we were abandoned by the government, we were abandoned by Tenet, and clearly nobody was going to take care of these people in their dying moments,

and I'm sure this will be picked up on as though the failure is intrinsic to government itself and not to a government that was rightie-rigged and Brownie-led against adequate response.

Regardless of whether the euthanized patients could have been evacuated or should have been left "in God's hands" none of this makes a valid argument against public health care, but we're not used to validity or even honesty in this fight and this struggle to make us believe that the government of the people, by the people should be sold off and all decisions about individual life, liberty and pursuit of happiness be determined by how much profit it makes for someone else.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Quote of the Day II

By Creature

"As I said, deficits saved the world." -- Paul Krugman, putting the Right's deficit hyperventilation into perspective.

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Beck and the burning bag

By Capt. Fogg

Remember the Halloween trick with the flaming bag of dog crap? Eons of experience show that leaving it alone is the best policy because you can't stamp it out without getting shit all over your porch and on your shoes. It's an apt comparison, I think, to what's happening with Glenn Beck and the boycott of his incoherent hate-fests. Despite Fox having lost some 4 dozen sponsors, his ratings seem to be going up.

The L.A. Times
tells us that according to his latest Nielsen data, he had 2.81 million viewers Monday, his third-largest audience ever on Fox. It didn't hurt that Sarah Palin, the de facto spokeswoman for the Stupid wing of the Hate Party, gave him a plug and it's good evidence that homo sapiens bashing has become the national sport.

OK, that's one person per hundred of population, but it's more shit than I want on my porch, thanks.

(Cross-posted from
Human Voices.)

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Death wish

By Mustang Bobby

There are some really interesting people in the pulpit these days. One such is a fellow named Steven Anderson at the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona. Among his sermons that include the usual diatribes against gays and anybody else who doesn't believe in every word written in that book that starts out with two naked people and the talking snake, he calls for the death of the President of the United States.

Let me tell you something: Barack Obama has wrought lewdness in America. America has become lewd. What does lewd mean? L-E-W-D? [Pause] Obscene. Right? Dirty. Filthy. Homosexuality. Promiscuity. All of the -- everything that's on the billboard, the TV. Sensuality. Lewdness! We don't even know what lewdness means anymore! We're just surrounded by it, inundated with it!

... And yet you're going to tell me that I'm supposed to pray for the socialist devil, murderer, infanticide, who wants to see young children and he wants to see babies killed through abortion and partial-birth abortion and all these different things -- you're gonna tell me I'm supposed to pray for God to give him a good lunch tomorrow while he's in Phoenix, Arizona.

Nope. I'm not gonna pray for his good. I'm going to pray that he dies and goes to hell. When I go to bed tonight, that's what I'm going to pray. And you say, 'Are you just saying that?' No. When I go to bed tonight, Steven L. Anderson is going to pray for Barack Obama to die and go to hell.

You say, 'Why would you do that?' That our country could be saved.

Ironically enough, Mr. Anderson is alleged to be an adherent to a faith that worships a man who was called "The Prince of Peace" and who admonished his followers to "turn the other cheek." Perhaps someone should introduce Mr. Anderson to his teachings; he might learn something. (I also think the United States Secret Service might want to have a little come-to-Jesus meeting of their own with Mr. Anderson. He is the pastor of the gentleman who showed up at the president's speech in Phoenix last week toting a semi-automatic weapon.)

There will be some people who will use Mr. Anderson's fervor as an excuse to bash Christianity and organized religion, but I really don't think that would be fair to either Christians or organized religion. Mr. Anderson represents Christianity the same way the Taliban represents Islam or the Ku Klux Klan represents American patriotism; perverted and grotesque rather than affirming and inclusive. The vast majority of Christians in this country -- and they number about 80% of the population -- are nothing at all like this nutball, and many of them support the idea of gay rights, reproductive choice, and universal healthcare. Organized religion has been a force for good in this world, too; I'm thinking of groups like the American Friends Service Committee (although some Quakers might have an issue with being called "organized"), and many other groups that are affiliated with faith that do not discriminate on the basis of belief or use it as a method of evangelism. Like all human endeavors, religion has been exploited and turned into a horrible distortion of its original intent -- a quest for knowledge and understanding -- but so have a lot of other human endeavors, such as government and the rule of law. That doesn't mean we should give up on it; it only means we need to discard the people who have exploited and perverted it.

There are also some people who think that giving Mr. Anderson any publicity by writing about his hatred only gives him visibility and the attention he so desperately craves. But I think we need to call attention to these people and make sure that the public is aware of this despicable and perverse kind of discourse. Keeping it in the shadows only gives them the room to grow and spread.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Quote of the Day: Jonathan Chait on who, or what, is really to blame for the whole health-care debacle

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Well, the Republicans are to blame, of course. But, for Democrats, here's some much-needed perspective from TNR's Jon Chait:

The Senate is what controls the process. That's the chokepoint for any health care bill. The question isn't how badly Obama wants a public plan, or how much he cares about bipartisanship. It's whether moderate to conservative Democrats in the Senate will filibuster a bill that has a public plan or lacks GOP support. Everything else is details.

In other words, it's not all Obama's, or even primarily Obama's fault. And if Democrats, and especially the more progressive ones, want to lay some blame, they should look no further than the Senate.

I sort of buy this and sort of don't. Obama certainly could have done more -- and should do more -- to promote meaningful health-care reform with a robust public option. But he's also a realist, and there's only so much he can do, not just given these structural/institutional limitations but given how much political capital he's already spent on the stimulus package and the bank and auto bailouts.

And the key is not so much to secure the support of obstructionist Republicans opposed to reform, including the three in the Gang of Six, but to keep moderate/centrist Democrats in the fold. Which is easier said than done, of course, what with the likes of Joe Lieberman, Mary Landrieu, Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, and Ben Nelson now doing their best Republican impressions. (It's also a bit rich for the generally moderate/centrist Chait to be calling upon liberals in the party to try to oust these more right-leaning Democrats. For more on this, see Greenwald.)

There is still hope for reform, of course. With Republicans looking more and more like the obstructionists they are, and showing more and more that what they really want is not compromise but no reform at all, Democrats are slowly but surely turning away from the possibility of a bipartisan bill, realizing that, if reform is to get done, they'll have to go it alone. Whether they'll be able to or not, given the Republican-lite positions of Lieberman et al., remains to be seen, just as it remains to be seen whether Obama will put a stop to the phony "post-partisan" niceties and lead the fight for meaningful reform. Which may be his plan, after all: Make a show of reaching out, genuinely, to Republicans, allow Republicans to expend their energy refusing to negotiate in good faith, move in and promote a Democratic bill while Republicans are relegated to the sidelines, blamed for their obstructionism, and emerge with what he wanted all along.

Once again, I fear I'm being naively optimistic. Regardless, I think Chait is right that it's hardly all Obama's fault. He can only do so much, after all, and there is only so much that can be done with members of his own party blocking the way.

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Of course Romney won't seek to replace Kennedy

By Michael J.W. Stickings

First, he'd lose a special election.

Second, he's focusing on 2012.

A spokesman said that "Romney's focus right now is on helping other Republicans run for office, and that is how he will be spending his time." Which, while perhaps true, is seriously misleading. Romney's real focus is on trying to build up the Romney brand in the GOP, to promote his own presidential ambitions in an indirect way. And he can do that by throwing his weight, and his money, behind "other Republicans" whose support he will need when 2011/12 rolls around and he's once again eyeing the White House. Being the junior senator from Massachusetts, behind Kerry, just wouldn't help him all that much.

By the way, as TNR's Jason Zengerle is reporting, the likely short-term replacement for Kennedy, at least until a special election can be held, is none other than Michael Dukakis.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lifting clouds

By Carl

The fall is usually a time of bleaker economic news than the rest of the year.
Not so much this year:

Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Fewer Americans filed claims for jobless benefits last week, another sign the economy is pulling out of the worst recession since the 1930s.

Applications fell by 10,000 to 570,000, a higher level than forecast, in the week ended Aug. 22 from a revised 580,000 the week before, Labor Department data showed today in Washington. The total number of people collecting unemployment insurance fell to the lowest level since April.

Companies’ staff cuts are easing as government stimulus measures help stabilize the housing and manufacturing industries. At the same time, a rebound in hiring will take longer to occur, restraining the consumer spending that accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.

[...]A separate report from the Commerce Department showed the U.S. economy contracted less than forecast in the second quarter as a jump in government spending and smaller cutbacks by consumers helped mitigate a record plunge in inventories.

I won't bore you with an analysis of that last paragraph. Suffice it to say that companies are running leaner operations than they had been, and the economy is starting to drift back towards growth.

The wildly successful
Cash For Clunkers program, ended Monday but launched July 24, wasn't even a factor in the 2nd quarter, which means that the 3rd quarter will probably show a further slowing in the rate of recession, if not a turnaround.

New homes sales rose ten percent in July, which is an amazing leap when you factor in the thought that mortgage lending was nearly non-existent until the second TARP bailout enacted under President Obama. Still, sales are off 13.4% from July 2008. July 2009 was the fourth straight month to show a gain in new home sales.

That's not to say housing is out of the woods yet. Lending to builders is still tighter than a maiden aunt's ass which means new home construction, a vital component of the American economy, is moribund. What you're seeing is the sale of previously built homes that sat empty.

Still, things could be much worse and the economy could be in a lot worse shape than it is. Right now, things are still teetering on the precipice like a Keystone Kops clown car. We could still tumble.

But at least I have faith that this driver is not going to put the car back into gear and drive us off the cliff like the last President nearly did!

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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30% of the crazy taken right off the top

By Creature

Actual RNC survey:

"It has been suggested that the government could use voter registration to determine a person's political affiliation, prompting fears that GOP voters might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health care rationing system. Does this possibility concern you?"

Not a concern, but a feature. Democrats, we have been found out.

The ridiculousness knows no end.

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Blue Dogs bite

By Creature

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has drawn her line against the public option. I guess she prefers we mandate a windfall of premiums to insurance companies for overpriced, crappy plans instead. Sure, this makes perfect sense. That is, if you value corporate profits over constituent pain.

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Hateful twits, hateful tweets

By Capt. Fogg

". . . and forgetting long passed mischiefs, we mercifully preserve their bones and piss not on their ashes."

- Thomas Browne -

Unless, of course, the vitriol of human meanness courses through your veins, in which case you don your rabid pit bull apparel and gnaw on what bones can be found. I've rarely seen such hate, even at a time like this where hate is the entire foundation of American conservative politics. As fast as the greasy fingers can type, the Internet begins to fill with accusations of murder, treason, and more formless forms of evil known as "liberalism." There is no restraint in Mudville now that Ted Kennedy has struck out.

Too many blogs, too many twits, too many accusations to dignify with a reply, but one thing is held in common: the tribe that represents the worst traits of our remote ancestors feels victimized and therefore free from any obligation to decency. They lost an election, their worship of feudal corporatism, equal rights, and civic responsibility is being challenged -- at last -- and their true values finally revealed. It's as ugly as it's ever been.

I recently and reluctantly signed up for Twitter. I should have stayed at home. The necessity to keep it all idiotically short has brought out more unadorned ugliness than one finds on blogs.

Kennedy was a special pile of human excrement,

rages the ridiculous Breitbart.

IF a GOP possesses 1/100 of human failings of T. Kennedy he/she is TOAST,

is another one of his staggering lies with endless examples to prove it false. Malkin laughs that he didn't go to France for his treatment, as though it were funny or actually meant something, others follow suit and Chappaquiddick references spurt like pus from the septic boil of Republic sentiment, from those who would and do accept any act of presidential treason, dishonesty, and manslaughter -- and, yes, drunk driving. How many people died because George W. Bush was president? No, Kennedy was a "villain," "a bad, bad dude," a "duplicitous bastard," and a "prick."

Pissing on Kennedy's ashes is just a small part of the psychotic rage that fills the void once filled by conservatives. A conservative by nature does not respond to disagreement by using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. That's what a madman does, that's what Mr. Breitbart is, that's what Ms. Malkin is, and this is what the end of everything sounds like.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Will the Party of No finally admit that the stimulus is working?

By Creature

Of course the answer is no, but with more good economic news, thanks to government spending, it's going to be hard not to. Too small, or not, the money spent is helping and it's this that really irks me about the GOP and their tea-bagging allies. They scream deficits, and whatnot, but without the spending we'd still be spiraling down. Of course, they'd rather we kept spiraling, because bad news for America (and the president) is good for them. Or something.

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The importance of geothermal power

Guest post by John Malone

John Malone, a VP/Senior Analyst with John S. Herold, an energy investment research firm in Connecticut, is a Truman National Security Project fellow.

Ed. note: This is the second piece we've cross-posted from Operation FREE. The first, on veterans and Big Oil, is here. -- MJWS


In the world of renewables, most of the attention is on the wind and the sun. Geothermal power just hasn't gotten the same respect. That could be changing, as both the Obama Administration and Silicon Valley are considering the heat under the ground as a potentially huge source of clean, domestic U.S. energy, but recent setbacks are calling into question how much geothermal can contribute. Given the potential benefits, we should be doubling our efforts to make geothermal a viable power source for the U.S.

Some background: All thermal power plants use the same basic process. A heat source (burning coal or gas, uranium, concentrated solar energy) is used to turn water into steam, and the energy released turns a turbine that produces electricity. What sets geothermal apart is that the steam comes directly from the ground. Water percolates down through cracks in the ground and is heated to the boiling point by hot rocks underground (in some cases coming back up as a geyser -- think Old Faithful), and the resulting steam is drawn up via a well to a turbine.

This makes for, in principle, the ideal alternative energy source. Geothermal power releases virtually no CO2 or pollutants. Crucially, geothermal provides baseload power -- wind and solar power are better suited as peaking technologies, as they are dependent on energy sources that wax and wane over the course of a day. Geothermal power is on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (geothermal power plants can have utilization rates up to 98%). And from a national security angle, the promise of geothermal is obvious: There is no more domestic source of energy than the actual ground underneath us.

There's one problem, though. There are only a few places in the U.S. where you can find shallow groundwater hot enough to get steam directly from the ground. Engineers and geologists are therefore looking at a new way to tap underground heat. Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) make use of the fact that, if you drill deep enough, any bedrock in the world gets hot enough to boil water. Basically, EGS involves drilling a well into deep, hot, dry rock; drilling a second well nearby to the same depth; fracturing the rock between those two wells enough to allow water to pass between them; and then pumping water down the first well and allowing it to percolate through the hot fractured area to the second well, where it will come back to the surface as superheated steam. The potential for EGS in the U.S. is enormous. A 2006 MIT report concluded it could provide 100,000 MW of power by 2050.

EGS is not without its drawbacks. Cost is the main hurdle. Oil and gas companies now measure well depths in miles, but these are wells drilled through relatively soft rock, not the hard granites that are best suited for EGS. If not managed properly, rocks could lose their heat -- eventually, pumping water through a hot rock system could bring the heat gradient down to the point that new wells need to be drilled. There has also been some concern about earthquakes. In 2006, an EGS pilot project in Switzerland set off a 3.4 magnitude quake.

That said, these hurdles are all surmountable, and given the huge benefits it could bring, there is already a surge in investment -- both public and private -- in EGS. Google laid down an $11 million investment for early-stage research. Perhaps most encouraging is the interest shown in EGS by our Nobel Laureate Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu. Obama's stimulus plan set aside $400 million for pure geothermal R&D. And it's looking like EGS wouldn't need too much more of an investment. A recent NYU study found that as little as $3 billion in R&D development could make EGS cost-competitive with fossil fuel plants.

The widespread application of EGS is still a ways off. But geothermal, whether traditional or EGS, should be used alongside technologies like wind and solar to diversify our renewable base. There is no silver bullet in renewable energy. It's better to think in terms of silver buckshot, where a collection of solutions add up to a big impact. We should do our best to make sure that one of those solutions is the one right under our feet.

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Healthcare for Kennedy

By Creature

Not only should the Democrats politicize Senator Kennedy's death (and funeral) they should do it as full-throated as Kennedy himself would have. If a few right-wing heads explode along the way, great. At least they'll have healthcare to cover their hospital costs.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy and the day that was

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I'm currently working on a piece for The Guardian on Suaad Hagi Mohamud, the Kenyan-Canadian who was detained in Nairobi a few months ago for not looking enough like her passport photo. Canadian officials refused to come to her defence and actually pushed for her to be prosecuted, with the government back in Ottawa doing nothing to help until a DNA test proved her identity. So I won't be blogging much until tomorrow evening.

In the meantime, make sure to check out some great posts by my co-bloggers, including two from this afternoon by J. Thomas Duffy (one on the Kennedy legacy, one on the Little League World Series), two from Capt. Fogg (one on right-wing doublethink, one on Rush Limbaugh's attacks on Kennedy), and a glowing Kennedy obituary from Carl. I also had health-care-related posts up on McCain, Coburn, and Feingold.

Stay tuned for more from the Reaction team.


I've been thinking a great deal about Ted Kennedy today. Needless to say, I was appalled by how some on the right took the occasion of Kennedy's death to go on the attack -- appalled, but not surprised.

For the most part, though, Kennedy received the tributes he deserved, including from some Republicans. He was one of the towering figures in American politics, a giant of decades in the political spotlight. I think Obama himself put it well (in an e-mail that his supporters, myself included, received this evening):

For nearly five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives -- in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education's promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including me. In the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He battled passionately on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

Ted Kennedy (1932-2009). America, and the world, would have been much less without him. He will be greatly missed, and never fully replaced.

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Dead man walking -- tall

By Capt. Fogg

The man can't be much warmer than room temperature, but the demons are howling farleftliberalsocialist like some inbred glossolalian hysterics at a backwoods revival meeting where the devil is being denounced. Even those of us who dress more like civilized people and give University lectures are out there making false equivalences between how poor old milk-of-human-kindness Robert Novak was treated by farleftliberalsocialists like Crooks and Liars as compared to the way they're trashing the memory of the last of the Kennedy Brothers -- although the more adroit like William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection says he "wont go there" -- while he's coming back from just having been there.

Rush Was Right! Exclaims the Professor. People are using Ted Kennedy's death to their political advantage and the people who would like to put Ronald Reagan on Mount Rushmore and name airports and highways after him are very disdainful of that sort of thing, aren't they? Can you imagine that - those laughable liberals want to name a health care bill after a man who tried most of his life to reform health care and have the audacity to trash a man who only committed treason and lied about it.
" Democrats are desperate to do anything to overcome public opposition on the merits."

says the Associate professor. He doesn't tell us whether those merits include "death panels" or other outright lies so beloved of Republican saboteurs. He doesn't mention that the public opposition is the minority opinion and that's it's costing News Corp and the Insurance Industry and the Drug Companies billions to do anything and everything to overcome majority opinion; anything including lies and fabrications.

Face it, they're delighted that one more impediment to the will of the minority is down and so sure are they of public stupidity and gullibility they don't even bother to cover their tracks or hide their fallacies.
"Strange, when Rush Limbaugh used the phrase "Kennedy Memorial Health Bill," [in predicting how Democrats would use Kennedy's death] he was harshly criticized.. . . Now that passage of Democratic health care restructuring seems much less likely, I guess it is okay to invoke Kennedy's name."

That's just what I mean. No Perfessor, the objection to Rush calling a sickly old man a dead man was what the anger was about. Laughing about a brain tumor: it's not the same thing as calling a dead man a dead man: even a dead man who tried to do some good in this world instead of shilling for pirates.

(Cross posted at Human Voices)

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Well ... There's THAT part of The Legacy, too ...

By J. Thomas Duffy

If almost right on cue.

In the waning, dull, Dog Days of August, and, somewhat ironically, in the middle of the molten hot Healthcare battle, Senator Ted Kennedy has passed away, ending his fight against brain cancer.

There'll be lots of paychecks and other perks, to interrupt the vacations of the masses of babbling heads, to rush into the nearest cable studio (or, if they are heavy-duty talking heads, they might have the weight to do a remote) and start blathering away, from the headline stories, to insider anecdotes, ending, of course, with whispers during the wall-to-wall coverage of the upcoming funeral.

Local news here in Boston will even surpass all that.

Yes, he was the "Liberal Lion", and did a lot of good things during his time in the Senate (perhaps SCHIPS, and burying Bork among the top).

But one thing won't get mentioned, or, if it does, ever so briefly, a blink, and then, used as a launching point to herald some tale of pulling himself off the floor and rising to great heights.

We speak, of, naturally, Chappaquiddick, and the unfortunate death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

And that brings us to one of the greatest satires in history, run by the National Lampoon, back in 1972.

Riffing off a Volkswagen ad of that time, they put this out there;

From Wikipedia;
The case resulted in much satire of Kennedy, including a National Lampoon page showing a floating Volkswagen Beetle with the remark that Kennedy would have been elected president had he been driving a Beetle that night; this satire resulted in legal action by Volkswagen, claiming unauthorized use of its trademark.

(You can go HERE, to see both, the original VW ad, and the satirical one)

In today's' corporate-owned media, I don't know if there is a publication out there that would have the balls to do something like that today.

Bonus Links

Senator Kennedy from Cindy Sheehan

Jack Newfield: The Senate's Fighting Liberal

Martin F. Nolan: Kennedy dead at 77 ...Liberal lion of the Senate, symbol of family dynasty succumbs to brain cancer

Joan Walsh: Ted Kennedy's last battle

And, a "Must-Read", from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, over on The Moderate Voice;

Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Go Girl Go!

By J. Thomas Duffy

While, invariably, the Little League World Series almost routinely, each year, generates a heartwarming, or tear-inducing, story, and this year is no different.

Except that history, perhaps a bit dubiously, was made;

Game-Winning Hit by 13-Year-Old Girl Could Be a First

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Katie Reyes hit a two-run single in the top of the sixth to help Vancouver, British Columbia, rally for a wild 14-13 victory Tuesday over Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany, in the Little League World Series.

The Little League president, Stephen Keener, and other longtime tournament officials said they could not recall a girl having the winning hit before in a World Series game.

“I was excited. I was shaking,” Reyes, 13, said about going to the plate for her big hit. She finished with three hits and three runs batted in.

Playing first, Reyes also caught the last out. She joined her happy teammates jumping on the mound after Canada won its last game of the series. Both teams had already been eliminated entering Tuesday.


All this time, decades, and it's only the first time a girl has gotten a winning hit?

Does that have to do with girls not being into playing Little League, or nitwit coaches across the land, holding on to yesteryear, believing girls don't belong in baseball?

ESPN, which posts a video of it, has more;

Fifteen girls have played in the series since 1984, when Victoria Roche of Brussels, Belgium, became the first female to play in South Williamsport.

Reyes wasn't the only girl playing at the series this year -- Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, had 13-year-old Bryn Stonehouse playing first base, too.

The only other time there were two girls in the series in the same year was 2004

Well, anyway ...

Hats Off to Katie Reyes!

Go Girl Go!

Bonus Link

Here's a good background piece, from the Toronto Globe and Mail, on Katie Reyes;

Canadian 'girl that delivers' takes on the World Series

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Quote of the Day: Russ Feingold on health-care reform

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From Politico:

We're headed in the direction of doing absolutely nothing, and I think that's unfortunate.

More: "Nobody is going to bring a bill before Christmas, and maybe not even then, if this ever happens. The divisions are so deep. I never seen anything like that."

There is good reason to be so pessimistic. Reality sucks.

Especially Congressional "reality" dominated by cowardly Democrats and obstructionist Republicans.

(I still think Obama might just know what he's doing, waiting for Republican opposition to run its course before stepping in, allowing Republicans to take the blame, and pushing a Democratic bill that includes a robust public option. But maybe I'm being delusionally optimistic.)

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Burn baby burn

By Capt. Fogg

Teddy Roosevelt was a Socialist; so was Adam Smith, Adolph Hitler and FDR. Anyone in fact who thinks there ought to be a government is a Socialist unless there's " a war on." At that point everything changes and anyone who thinks there's too much government, too intrusive and abusive in it's powers becomes the Socialist villain. That's the simple version. Of course people who wonder why, when half the e-mail screeds one gets from Republican sources begin with a picture of the World Trade Center in flames and exhortations never to forget, we can also call an official day of Remembrance and Service "Socialist." Is it the service that sours the remembrance? Perhaps a national day of insulting France would have been less Socialist. Perhaps burning the UN would have been more "conservative."

“The plan is to turn a ‘day of fear’ that helps Republicans into a day of activism called the National Day of Service that helps the left,”

writes Matthew Vadum in The Spectator. What could be more Socialist that interfering with the fear level Republicans promote in concert with international terrorists to keep authoritarianism alive in America.
"Nihilistic liberals are planning to drain 9/11 of all meaning.”

Or at least the meaning that can be interpreted to demand bigger, more militaristic government and an attack on Constitutional Government. That's "desecration" howls Vadum. I'm sure that all the police, fire, public safety, paramedics and others who died on that day were Socialists as well - and desecrators as well. And what about all the Socialists who volunteered afterwards? You can see the danger!

So when you see the inevitable burning towers picture, remember to preserve the fear, promote the panic and for heaven's sake don't do anything to get in the way of ever increasing government power and defense contractor profit. That would be nothing but Nihilism and Socialism (if your doublethink capacity is great enough to tie those two together.)

While your doublethink module is engaged, please remember that it wasn't Socialism to support a national day of service when George Bush promoted the idea or when it got Bipartisan support this Spring. It's Socialism because Barack Obama is President.

Damn, these socialist/nihilist Liberals are insidious! Promoting positive outcomes and reducing fear is the first step down the slippery slope toward Socialism and if that is difficult for you to understand, Raw Story has all the reasons all the Republican opinion shouters give us to support "conservative" fear mongering, xenophobia, divisiveness, totalitarianism, Chauvinism and military aggression instead of that goddamn e pluribus unum constructivism those nihilist homosexual, far-left Socialists, want to sell us.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Ugly Coburn

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I guess right-wing Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma thinks that being denied treatment by your private health-care insurer is just the sort of choice that makes American great.

Watch. It's ugly. (And honest. For this is what the Republicans have become. For all their empty talk of "choice," it's actually them versus the American people.)

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The Lion sleeps tonight

By Carl

What can be said about Ted Kennedy that you haven't read a million other places today?

The life of the last remaining true progressive authority (there are others more liberal, to be sure, like Russ Feingold or Bernie Sanders) can be summed up in one way I doubt you've read anyplace else.

For all his flaws and faults, he became the lightning rod for right wing hatred.

You don't see Rush Limbaugh making fun of Feingold. You don't see anyone making fun of Bernie Sanders. In his death, even, the right wing extremists are making fun of Ted Kennedy.

You know what that tells me? It tells me that he had them terrified.

Ted Kennedy not only represented a link to a time when liberal legislation was effected, heck, even admired (civil rights, Social Security and Medicare, clean air and water), he ultimately came to embody those core principles of liberal philosophy.

Our lives are better for Ted Kennedy's existence. Here was a wealthy man who understood that rising tides may lift all boats, but that we need not wait for a rising tide to fix those boats that are leaky and in need of repair.

Conservative muttonheads knew this, which is why they toiled so hard to keep mocking his weight or his affairs or his one moment of avoidable tragedy.

Granted, there are some mistakes you never stop paying for, and the tragic death of Mary Jo should be one of those, but that those knucklebrains couldn't find fault with his legislative savvy or his programs and policies speaks volumes about their fear of Kennedy.

Indeed, one might make the case that life's plan included having Kennedy demeaned and belittled, as it would make him a more effective legislator, able to be scrutinized for himself, and not his stances. The distraction became the illusion became the reality.

When JFK said in 1961 "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans," I wonder if he knew the last surviving torchbearer would be his younger brother, Ted?

I raise my voice and join the chorus of those who have asked that the healthcare reform that Ted Kennedy fought so hard to enact in his lifetime be passed immediately, that President Obama call a special session of Congress, and insist that a public option be included, and that the "Senator Edward M. Kennedy Healthcare Reform Bill of 2009" be passed by unanimous voice vote, in tribute to this man, this great man, this lion of the left.

The torch has been dropped, my friends. Who among us will agree to pick it up, for Ted's sake?

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)


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John McCain confronts the right-wing mob (elderly white people version)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

John McCain has been part of the problem this year, backing up ex-running mate Sarah Palin on the "death panel" lie, and he hasn't been nearly as independent, and not nearly as much of a renegade maverick, as his phony, self-made image would have had us believe.

Give him credit, though, for not being completely insane.

At a town hall in Arizona yesterday, McCain actually came to Obama's defence, as well as to the defence of rational political discourse (a foreign concept to the irrational mob), stating that Obama "respects the Constitution of the United States." The mob booed, of course, but McCain stood firm: There is a "fundamental difference in philosophy and about the role of government." "I am convinced the president is absolutely sincere in his beliefs," he added, to yet more boos, and worse. "He is the president of the United States and let's be respectful."

That's not support for Obama, to be sure, but it's something, and at least McCain made sure to distance himself from the insanitarium his party has become, not least the base that has been mobilized by the party elites to try to defeat health-care reform.

Here's a short clip, my friends:

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RIP Senator Kennedy

By Creature

I'm was too young to know the other Kennedy brothers, but Senator Kennedy I knew, and admired. The Kennedy name was revered in my household growing up and Ted Kennedy proved, time, and time again, that such reverence was justified.

He shall be missed.


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Worst Democrat of the Day: Parker Griffith

By Michael J.W. Stickings

For publicly attacking Nancy Pelosi:

I would not vote for her [again for speaker]. Someone that divisive and that polarizing cannot bring us together.

Republicans, of course, feast on this sort of Democratic divisiveness. Why the hell can't Democrats just shut up? Why can't they do what Republicans do and keep their internal conflicts private?

Partly because Democrats are not Republicans. They value diversity over thoughtless obeisance. But partly also because "Democrats" like Rep. Griffith of Alabama, a Blue Dog, aren't really Democrats at all. They're more like quasi-Republicans, Democrats elected from largely Republican districts, "Democratic" only insofar as they're not quite as extreme as the right-wing Republican alternative.

But attacking your own leader? I suppose it troubles a "Democrat" like Griffith that an actual Democrat leads the Democratic Party in the House.

I'm all for difference, disagreement, and dissent, but at what cost? When key issues like health-care reform are at the top of the agenda, party unity is paramount. Griffith should just shut up or get the hell out. It's enough already.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Days of swine and neuroses

By Carl

It could get ugly this fall:

Up to half of the population of the U.S. could come down with the swine flu and 90,000 could die this season, according to a dire report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

[...]"It's a plausible scenario that we need to be prepared for," said Marty Cetron, the Center for Disease Control's director of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.

The report says that under a worst-case scenario, between 60 and 120 million Americans could get sick with the swine flu and another 30 million could contract the virus but not show symptoms. Between 30,000 and 90,000 could die -- more than twice the annual average of deaths associated with the seasonal flu. Those deaths generally occur in people older than 65.

It should be noted that swine flu eruptions continue throughout the northern hemisphere, despite the onset of summer weather, which usually mitigates flu outbreaks.

So we're looking at a highly contagious, highly infectious disease that shows signs of only strengthening as people are forced into closer contact behind closed doors.

Not fun.

Keep in mind that a far larger percentage than normal of those getting ill with this flu will be younger, healthy adolescents and young adults. It's not clear if the same hiccup in the affected age will trend in the death statistics. One presumes that a healthy adult will be in a far better position to fight off a bug than the elderly, very young, or infirm.


1918 flu pandemic saw an unusual spike in young adults precisely because of the nature of that virus (more avian than swine) and possibly because it was similar to another flu outbreak 30 years earlier.

With swine flu and avian flu currently exposed to one another in the southern hemisphere, it would be prudent to follow this story a bit more closely than
current surveys indicate it has been.

It could be ugly. It might not be. My guess is it will be uglier than the CDC and HHS are making it out to be, particularly once the vaccine runs low.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Can't wait to see the Super Bowl ad on this one!

By J. Thomas Duffy

This one... we'll have to wait awhile to see how it plays out.

Jeff Taylor, founder of Monster.Com, is looking to make (pun intended) his next killing:

Out of print ... made its name by putting help-wanted ads online. And now its founder sees untapped potential in widening the audience for death notices, too

Taylor, the founder of the online career site that became, raised $32 million in venture capital funding for Eons. The company filled its Charlestown offices with about 60 staffers, who focused on building an online community for people over the age of 50 with features such as a 40-question quiz that aimed to estimate one’s longevity and supply advice about healthy living.

But three years after the glitzy launch party, just 12 people remain on the payroll at Eons, and the site’s traffic has been shrinking. Taylor is now hoping that, a spinoff from Eons, might do better than the original site. It offers news about notable personalities who’ve died, and sells online obituaries (they prefer the term “tributes’’) to grieving families via a network of funeral homes. Just as Monster grew to a $1.3 billion company by putting a section of newspaper classifieds online - the help-wanted ads - Taylor plans to do the same for death notices, though this time, he faces competition from a big rival.


The site tries to build traffic by creating online memorials for departed celebrities such as Paul Newman and Michael Jackson. It also has information from the Social Security Administration about more than 80 million deceased Americans. But its revenue comes from individuals who pay for online obits that can include unlimited text about the deceased, along with photos, videos, and music.

Yes, you too can live for infinity, out on the World Wide Web!

(We touched on this, back in April -- After Death, No Reason For The Spam To Stop.)

Not only that, but if you go out to Tributes.Com, you can set up your very on "Celebrity Alert."

Oh yeah, death is going to be big bucks.

It's definitely not your father's funeral home any longer.

Now, we will have to wait until next January, for the Super Bowl, to see if Taylor copies his success of Monster.Com for Tributes.Com with some clever, witty television spot.

Maybe they can come up with a combo -- Someone dies while searching Monster.Com for a job, so they segue to the deceased's Tribute.Com page, perhaps offering a deal if you sign up for both services.

Bonus Links Super Bowl Ad

Legendary Ads ... Some ads suck, but these are an art form. Or at least funny

Kellogg Grades 2009 Super Bowl Ads, Gets A+

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Veterans push back against Big Oil

Guest post by Frankie Sturm

Frankie Sturm is communications director at the Truman National Security Project and a free-lance journalist.

Ed. note: As part of our ongoing relationship with the Truman National Security Project, I'm pleased to announce that we'll be cross-posting some pieces from Operation FREE, a new initiative that seeks to raise awareness about the links between climate change, energy, and national security -- an extemely worthwhile endeavour, to be sure. Operation Free's coalition includes the Truman Project, the National Security Network,, and VetPAC. I encourage you to check out Operation FREE, including its blog. The first post, below, is from my friend Frankie Sturm.


No one is surprised that the American Petroleum Institute (API) is pulling out all the stops to prevent meaningful climate and energy legislation. By fronting a so-called "grassroots" organization called Energy Citizen, API is trying create the impression that the public is opposed to taking action to curb climate change and lessen our dependence on oil. But by busing in API employees, handing our hamburgers and hot dogs at rallies, and denying entrance to Energy Citizen events to actual citizens, few are buying API's Potemkin publicity. And there's one group in particular that isn't having any of it: veterans.

On August 20, veterans pushed back against Big Oil in a conference call with reporters. Drew Sloan, veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and former employee of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, referred to climate change as "death by a thousand cuts." Iraq veteran Scott Holcomb reminded those on the call how military personnel know that "tomorrow isn't promised," arguing that tomorrow is too late to begin taking action against climate change. All the veterans on the call expressed dismay that oil companies would be standing in the way of legislation to curb climate change and reduce our dependence on oil. They pointed out that a changing climate will destabilize volatile regions of the world, put U.S. military installations at risk, and force the U.S. to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian catastrophes.

The Financial Times and Grist magazine covered the veterans' push against big oil, while Jim Morin of Operation Free and Lee Gunn of the American Security Project -- both veterans -- took to the pages of The New York Times to explain the links between climate change and national security.

[Ed. note: You can read Mr. Morin's and Admiral Gunn's letters to the editor here. Morin: "Put quite simply, if we refuse to fight climate change, we're choosing to put more American military men and women in harm's way." Gunn: "The writing is on the wall. The question is not whether we act or not, but whether we do so now or later, and deal with much more dire -- and expensive -- consequences." -- MJWS]

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Nobody could have predicted...

By Creature

That Dick Cheney's claims about thwarted terrorist attacks due to his love of torture were unfounded. Nobody.

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Glennbeckery, on full display

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Surprise, surprise. Glenn Beck went on the attack Monday afternoon, hurling ad hominem smears at Van Jones, one of the people behind and the widespread advertiser boycott of Beck's show.

You didn't expect him to reply to Jones on the merits, did you? Of course not, that's not Beck's style, which is to froth at the mouth, weep tears of self-righteous indignation, and rev up the right-wing paranoia and propaganda.

For my take on the Beck boycott, see here.

For more on "glennbeckery," see here.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Vacation, have to get away

By Carl

It astounds me the hoopla raised over a simple
week away from the White House:

Senior White House officials have not ruled out the possibility of a town hall -- which, in Obama world, might qualify as a fun vacation activity.

That's probably not First Lady Michelle Obama's notion of the ideal vacation. For months, aides have been planning as normal a summer getaway as possible, whittling down the possible sites until they found a secluded spot on a tony island, where stars and presidents have long been able to expect privacy.

It is, in my opinion, not coincidental that the networks scheduled all these Republicans (including Joe LiebeRman) to speak this weekend, just as the video of Obama stepping off a plane in the Vineyard hit the wires.

After all, we all recall what happened the first summer that Bush took six weeks off to vacation.

But I digress...

The concern trolling on the part of the Republicans (including Joe LiebeRman) has been touching but unnecessary. After all, when Bush was running up half trillion dollar deficits during our last recall? The one that lasted nearly his entire first term? one seemed to mind. Indeed, Veep Cheney pointed out that
deficits don't matter.

So long as you're running a war of aggression on a people half a world away that did nothing to harm you.

Once you actually try to help people, well, Katie bar the door!

Even a Nobel Prize-winning economist seems to think the Republicans (including Joe LiebeRman) are
talking out their asses.

Others have pointed out that, just because the US government runs a postal service, private businesses are still highly competitive and highly profitable, and that is a good analogy. After all, the US government is mandated by Congress to provide affordable mail delivery to each and every address in the United States. Neither UPS nor Fedex could possibly achieve that and make a profit. They can make a profit on niches that the USPS can't really focus its resources on.

It's called limiting a bureaucracy.

But I put a different case: unions.

Some would make the claim that the government getting into the health insurance business would put
private insurance out of work.


There are union workplaces, and non-union, and if anything, the non-union places seem to be more competitive once the trouble of swallowing the fall-out from union-based benefits is worked through.

After all, if a union shop gets a vacation concession, other companies will start to lose workers to those union shops that have greater goodies, until they too offer more competitive employment benefits.

Then things straighten up and fly right and non-union shops can still gouge their workers in other areas.

What unions provide is a single large entity that can negotiate with large corporations, thus balancing an equation that is woefully tilted against an individual worker.

Government ideally should be the firewall between individuals and corporations, but sadly that has been co-opted by the SCOTUS, which has ruled that corporations have the same rights as individuals, plus a few more. Among those rights is the right to free speech, and by extension, to donate to political campaigns.

The concentration of cash in a corporation's coffers makes this a slam-dunk: they will buy candidates that individuals could not possibly afford.

Except through unions, of course.

The analogy coalesces when one realizes that any health-care reform must include a governmental component whereby doctors' hospitals and, yes, insurance companies must deal with some entity with the resources that a government can bring to bear in an industry.

Just like a union can legitimately be the only organ an individual can use to address the inequities of the working world.

This is the sole legitimate function of government: to protect its citizenry.


(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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