Monday, August 31, 2015

Confidential to the Ohio Denali-deniers: If you really can't grasp the name change, bear in mind that it's none of your frigging business


With (Lord help us) Trump update -- see below

Mount Denali (20,237 feet)

"President McKinley never visited, nor did he have any significant historical connection to, the mountain or to Alaska."
-- Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

"I'd like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska."
-- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

by Ken

Confidential to Ohio Republicans mouthing off about the Obama administration's redesignation of the continent's highest peak from Mount McKinley to Denali, as it was long known to indigenous peoples, from an Athabascan word meaning, we're told, "the great one," and as it has been known for decades now to Alaskans:

Have you looked at a map lately? (Or ever?) This is none of your frigging business. How about you just shut your frigging pieholes?

Jeez. Every time you think right-wingers who do all their thinking with their stinkybutts have reached the limit of Obama-bashing crackpottery, they kick it up another notch. After all these years they still don't know an effing thing about Barack Obama except the color of his skin -- and, oh yes, that they hate him and everything he believes, whatever that may be. But that's enough for the bully-boy crackpots. Often the only way they know what they believe is by pointing at "that Obummer" and squealing: "The opposite of what he said, the opposite of what he said!"


Perhaps you think I'm being hyperbolic when I say that President McKinley had no connection whatsoever to the great mountain? Okay, here's how it became "Mount McKinley." A gold prospector named William Dickey who went prospecting in June 1896 later wrote: "We named our great peak Mount McKinley, after William McKinley of Ohio, who had been nominated for the Presidency, and that fact was the first news we received on our way out of that wonderful wilderness."

That's it, the entire McKinley connection to the mountain.

The name Mount McKinley was adopted by Congress in 1917, some 16 years after the president's assassination. It is, of course, too bad about President McKinley being assassinated, and I don't think you have to be from Ohio to think so. But that has nothing whatever to do with a mountain in Alaska. In fact, many Alaskans never accepted the new name. In 1975 the Alaska Board of Geographic Names renamed the mountain Denali (and tried to get their federal counterparts to do the same), and since 1980, when the former Mount McKinley National Park was merged with Denali National Monument, the result has been known as Denali National Park and Preserve.

Now in a simple, carefully legally grounded stroke, at the president's behest, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has restored its most common indigenous name to the mountain itself, replacing the name of a president who had nothing whatsoever to do with the place. So naturally the current crop of Republican doodybrains from McKinley's home state of Ohio go nuts. In a U.S. News piece, "Mt. McKinley to Denali: How A Mountain's Renaming Got Tied Up in Politics," Jon Schuppe reports (I've intentionally omitted all links):
Ohio Republicans lashed out.

"I'm deeply disappointed in this decision," House Speaker John Boehner said.

Boehner cited McKinley's service in the Civil War, in Congress, as Ohio governor and as the 25th president.

Sen. Rob Portman accused Obama of "going around Congress." But he seemed resigned to the renaming.

"I now urge the administration to work with me to find alternative ways to preserve McKinley's legacy somewhere else in the national park that once bore his name."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, also said Obama had acted outside his authority.
As POTUS once again oversteps his bounds, Ohio knows every carnation is a monument to our own William McKinley.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) August 31, 2015
Rep. Bob Gibbs vowed to find a way to block what he called "Constitutional overreach" and a "political stunt" that was "insulting to all Ohioans."
My full statement on @POTUS ignoring an Act of Congress and changing the name of Mount McKinley. [LINK OMITTED]
— Rep. Bob Gibbs (@RepBobGibbs) August 31, 2015
I hold no great brief for President McKinley, about whom what most of us remember is that he was the founding father of 20th-century American imperialism. But still, even he deserves a higher caliber of acolyte than these clowns. Portman, a dismally dull political hack, is at least the sort of fellow he would recognize, and I suppose maybe Kasich as well. They're embarrassments but not disgraces. These other clowns, however . . . well, words fail me.

In order:

To Boehner: What the living hell are you talking about? Do you have any clue at all? Are you even aware that your gums are flapping without any input from a working brain? Boehner cited McKinley's service in the Civil War, in Congress, as Ohio governor and as the 25th president. So what? None of this has the slightest, remotest connection to the name of the highest mountain in North America. Is your brain so pickled that you're incapable of grasping this pathetically simple concept? Did you give the matter even the merest split second's worth of thought before you opened your yap?

To Portman: Why on God's green earth should anything in Denali National Park be named for McKinley? Are you truly not aware that WM had nothing whatever to do with the place? If so, then you should resign from the Senate on the ground that even by the dismal standards of that body you're too ignorant to serve. On a personal note, this level of arrogance and self-importance piled on top of this level of ignorance and stupidity is a really unattractive combination. If it's your beloved state you're concerned about, don't you worry that people will think that all Ohioans are as mentally incapacitated as you are?

To Kasich: Again, making those bullying noises when you have no effing clue what the eff you're talking about does not put you in a flattering light. The president didn't overstep anything (the governor is no doubt thinking of previous, successful efforts by Ohio hack pols to forestall the name change), and before you make an accusation like that, as the governor of a state you sure the hell should have taken the time to acquaint yourself with the actual legalities. Congratulations on demonstrating that you are an incompetent buffoon.

To Gibbs: Yikes! Do you ever listen to yourself?

To all four of you: If any of you actually has a brain, it's not working. You should check your warranty to see if it's covered; if not, you should really consider the one available remedial action.

For the record, Google Maps has now officially changed the name to Mount Denali. (But Bing, no.)


Then get serious. Do something real instead of wasting everyone's time with this insulting, aggressive, imbecilic mouthing off.

Here's a suggestion. Proclaim that from now on all Ohio Republican men will officially call their penises McKinley. Maybe hold a  competition for a design they can all have tattooed on the little fellers, with the competition winner earning a chance to drink "Sunny John" Boehner under the table.


It's only fair to note that not all Republicans have followed the lead of the Ohio Twits.

“For generations Alaskans have known this majestic mountain as the Great One. Today we’re honored to be able to officially recognize the mountain as Denali. I’d like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska.”


To quote myself above: "Every time you think right-wingers who do all their thinking with their stinkybutts have reached the limit of Obama-bashing crackpottery, they kick it up another notch." Here I thought we could go out on a gracious note with Senator Murkowski's enthusiastic comments. But no. Howie passes along this from The Hill:
Trump pledges to reverse Obama’s mountain renaming

By Timothy Cama - 08/31/15 09:17 PM EDT

Donald Trump promised Monday that he would return the name of North America’s largest mountain to Mount McKinley, undoing President Obama’s decision to call it Denali.

Calling Obama’s act a “great insult to Ohio,” Trump, who is running for president next year, tweeted late Monday that Obama reversed the name the peak had for more than 100 years, in honor of President William McKinley, an Ohio native.
What were some of the epithets I applied above to the Obama-bashing Ohio Denali-deniers? Let's see, there was ignorant and imbecilic and bullying and aggressive. No evidence of a working brain, has apparently never looked at a map, doesn't think before he opens his yap, can't mind his own frigging business. No wonder The Donald wanted to join this club!

I would encourage The D to take my McKinley Penis Picture Pledge, but he might then feel obliged to show it to us, and nobody wants to see that.

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Democrats Control The California State Legislature, But DINOs Are Still Mucking Up The Works-- Climate Change


Matt Debabneh, corrupt DINO and Climate Change denier

Saturday I was at the celebration of the anniversary of the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains, one of the most outspoken progressive Democratic clubs in the state of California. The event included local Congressman Ted Lieu as well as recipients of achievement awards like Alan Grayson and Tom Hayden. And there were plenty of candidates, some of whom I already knew, like Nanette Barragán, who is a congressional candidate running against corrupt oil-lobbyist-owned state Senator Isadore Hall, and Agua Dulce City Councilman Lou Vince, the progressive running for Congress against reactionary racist Steve Knight, and several I met for the first time, like progressive state Senate candidates Richard Mathews and Henry Stern, who are part of a wide field vying for the seat of termed-out Sen. Fran Pavley.

In a week that saw the death of several progressive bills-- like the minimum wage bill-- at the hands of a legislature completely controlled by the Democratic Party, I was especially interested in talking with Mathews and Stern about how that can happen. Mathews agreed to write a guest post for us in the next few days tackling the question. This morning this is how Stern put it to me on the phone: "Working in the Capitol for a few years, I've come to realize: labels are malleable. It's popular to call yourself a 'moderate' these days. I consider myself quite moderate but also progressive. But while there are plenty of so-called mods who do the right thing when it comes down to the tough votes, others balk. The question is always the same: who comes first: you and your political career, or the people of your district and the state of California?"

Both Mathews and Stern are aggressively pushing climate-change remediation and environmental-friendly policies in their outreach to voters. Their district overlaps with that of hideously corrupt right-wing Democratic Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, who has been as instrumental in the Assembly as Isadore Hall has been in the Senate in undermining and sabotaging meaningful climate-change legislation. Both seemed relieved that Dababneh isn't going to run for the Senate seat. All of California should be. The Senate passed four important environmental bills in the last couple of months:
Kevin De León's and Mark Leno's Golden State Standards Act (SB 350), which aims for a 50% reduction in oil use by 2030 by encouraging innovation and investment in sustainable energy and by mandating that half the utility power generated in the state comes from renewable sources and by increasing energy efficiency in existing buildings.

Fran Pavley's Building For The Future Act (SB 32), which sets the overarching climate pollution reduction target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, providing California businesses with regulatory certainty, while improving public health and strengthening the economy.

Kevin De León's Investing With Values And Responsibility Act (SB 185), which will get CalPERS/STRS, the country’s largest public pension funds, to divest from coal companies, investments that lost the pension funds close to a billion dollars last year alone. [The bill was voted on today-- September 2-- and passed 43-27, huge victory! Jim Cooper was the only Democrat to join with the GOP although 8 didn't vote-- including Dababneh, Ridley-Thomas and Henry Perea, who wants to run for Congress against Blue Dog Jim Costa.]

Mike McGuire's California Coastal Protection Act of 2015 (SB 788), which prevents the state from leasing tidal and submerged lands in the California Coastal Sanctuary for oil and gas extraction. [Killed last week in the Assembly.]
It's questionable whether these bills can pass the Assembly. Corrupt members from the L.A. area-- and not just Dababneh (Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Canoga Park, Encino, Northridge, Reseda, West Hills, Winnetka, Woodland Hills, Bell Canyon)-- are working hard for the lobbyists to sabotage the bills. Worst of the lot are shameless political hacks like:

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (Mar Vista, Westwood, Culver City, Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park, Beverlywood, Ladera Heights, West Los Angeles)
Autumn Burke (Venice, Del Rey, Playa Vista, Marina Del Rey, Westchester, El Segundo, Inglewood, Hawthorne, Lawndale)
Mike Gipson (Compton, Carson, Willowbrook, Watts, West Rancho Dominguez, Wilmington)
Chris Holden (Pasadena, South Pasadena, East Pasadena, Altadena, Sierre Madre, Monrovia, San Dimas, Claremont, La Verne)
Reggie Jones-Sawyer (University Park, South Los Angeles, USC, South Park, Vermont Harbor, Florence-Graham, Walnut Park)
Patty Lopez (Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Sunland-Tujunga, Lake View Terrace, Arleta)
Cristina Garcia (Downey, Bellflower, Cerritos, Montebello, Commerce, Pico Rivera)
Adrin Nazarian (Van Nuys, Lake Balboa, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Hollywood Hills, Studio City, Toluca Lake, North Hills, North Hollywood).

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Bao Nguyen: GOP Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Is Despicable And Divisive


With Loretta Sanchez running for the U.S. Senate, Orange County's 46th Congressional District is be an open seat in 2016. It's a solidly blue district (D+9), and Obama won it with 59% in 2008 and with 61% in 2012. The district includes Santa Ana, Anaheim and Orange, and the voters are overwhelmingly Hispanic-American and Asian-American. Although there may be as many as 10 Democrats interested in running, Blue America has endorsed the most progressive of the lot, Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen, an openly gay Vietnamese immigrant who arrived in this country when he was just three months old. 

I asked him what he made of the anti-immigrant mania sweeping the Republican presidential race. This is what he had to say.
As an American immigrant it disgusts me when I hear how Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and the other Republican Presidential candidates have been talking about immigrants. It’s despicable, and disgraceful. Immigrants are the backbone of this country. They built this country and continue to add to it in so many ways. I was born in a refugee camp, and came to this country when I was three months old. We didn’t have much-- let’s be honest, we were just poor. But we found a welcoming and supportive community of all nationalities and backgrounds, and with help and hard work, I was able to build a life here in California. But my story is no different from that of millions of immigrants who came to America in search of a better life-- who knew they needed to work hard and play by the rules in order to get a fair shot at the American Dream. We need to celebrate the accomplishments of our immigrant neighbors, and we need to bring everyone out of the shadows, so they can be full participants in the American Dream.

But instead, Trump and the rest of the GOP Primary Clown car have started to bang the drums of fear and hate to alienate and divide our nation and it's CITIZENS. As the discourse has gone more and more into the gutter, even the relatively ‘moderate’ GOP candidates have joined this chorus of hate. You may have heard the derogatory term "anchor babies" returning again, as it has in past debates about immigrations. Sadly, Republicans have resorted to an age old tactic to galvanize the extremist fringe of their party, by calling for stricter crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, primarily from Latin America, who they claim are trying to take advantage of America's policy of birthright citizenship under the 14th amendment.

Recently the party favorite, Jeb Bush was criticized for using the term "anchor babies" during a conservative radio interview. Governor Jeb Bush has doubled down, telling reporters that he does not believe the term is offensive. "Nothing about what I've said should be viewed as derogatory towards immigrants at all," he said Monday in McAllen, Texas. "I think we need to take a step back and chill out a little bit."

I just want to restate, an "anchor baby" is a term to used to define an undocumented immigrant, coming to America with the intention having a baby specifically to take advantage of the Constitution-- it IS a disgusting and derogatory term, period.

Bush clarified further, saying that he used the term "anchor babies" specifically to refer to fraud in a "specific targeted kind of case" involving mothers who travel to the U.S. only to win citizenship for their unborn children.

"Frankly, it's more Asian people."

I know that Jeb is just trying to back track his xenophobic statement and not lose the elusive Latino demographic his party hopes to gain in the general election. Let me give some clear and direct advice, all Americans, no mater if their ancestors came from, Latin America, Western Europe, and yes Americans of Asian descent, find your divisive rhetoric abhorrent-- no matter which group of people you are slinging mud at for your own political gains. This is exactly why we need to bring  more people to Washington who can tell the story of the very people that Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are trying to silence. I hope you will support me in my campaign to be that voice.
Bao, who is trilingual in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, earned a B.A. from the University of California Irvine and while attending college interned for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He also holds a master’s degree in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and has a certification in mediation from the Dispute Resolution Program of the Orange County Human Relations Commission. He will offer a unique and valuable perspective on Capitol Hill. 

When I asked him about the Iran deal, he told us he would vote for it.
From what I have seen this is the only option on the table that keeps Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and at the same time keeps American lives out of harms way. If this deal fails there are fewer non-military options since the international sanctions that were in place are no longer available to us. Frankly, I am disappointed with Republicans who only continue with their policy of opposing anything supported by Obama with no response to what they would do other than sending more Americans to war in the Middle East.
Please consider helping Bao get his grassroots campaign into position to win this race. One thing I can assure you about him-- he will never be a wishy-washy Democrat. He's a fighter and, truth be told, reminds me in some ways of Alan Grayson! Even Joe Scarborough is laughing at the Republican racists!

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ISIS, Climate Change & Mass Migration of Peoples


Mass migration to Europe from Africa and the Middle East (click to enlarge; source)

by Gaius Publius

I've said a number of times that climate chaos won't involve just drought, famine and a destroyed environment — all physical stresses and dangers to human life. Climate chaos will start with some of those physical stresses, but be coupled with human anticipation, which will result in social and political chaos first, and if we're really unfortunate, eventually with collapse.

The two sets of problems — physical stress on the one hand, social and political stress on the other — are intertwined, but because humans are an anticipating species, I think the social chaos will ramp up first, ramp to a greater degree in the initial stages, ultimately producing political collapse prior to full-on physical collapse of our support systems, like food production.

In fact, I think the social chaos is ramping up first, in front of our eyes. Let's connect a few dots.

ISIS and Climate Change

From Joe Romm, editor of ClimateProgress, the climate site at ThinkProgress:
The Link Between Climate Change And ISIS Is Real

... For three years now, leading security and climate experts — and Syrians themselves — have made the connection between climate change and the Syrian civil war. Indeed, when a major peer-reviewed study came out on in March making this very case, retired Navy Rear Admiral David Titley said it identifies “a pretty convincing climate fingerprint” for the Syrian drought.

Titley, a meteorologist who led the U.S. Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change when he was at the Pentagon, also said, “You can draw a very credible climate connection to this disaster we call ISIS right now.”
From the Abstract of that study (my emphasis throughout):
Before the Syrian uprising that began in 2011, the greater Fertile Crescent experienced the most severe drought in the instrumental record. For Syria, a country marked by poor governance and unsustainable agricultural and environmental policies, the drought had a catalytic effect, contributing to political unrest. We show that the recent decrease in Syrian precipitation is a combination of natural variability and a long-term drying trend, and the unusual severity of the observed drought is here shown to be highly unlikely without this trend. Precipitation changes in Syria are linked to rising mean sea-level pressure in the Eastern Mediterranean, which also shows a long-term trend. There has been also a long-term warming trend in the Eastern Mediterranean, adding to the drawdown of soil moisture. No natural cause is apparent for these trends, whereas the observed drying and warming are consistent with model studies of the response to increases in greenhouse gases. Furthermore, model studies show an increasingly drier and hotter future mean climate for the Eastern Mediterranean. Analyses of observations and model simulations indicate that a drought of the severity and duration of the recent Syrian drought, which is implicated in the current conflict, has become more than twice as likely as a consequence of human interference in the climate system.
More from Romm, in lay terms:
We know that the Syrian civil war that helped drive the rise of the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) was itself spawned in large part by what one expert called perhaps “the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent,” from 2006 to 2010.

That drought destroyed the livelihood of 800,000 people according to the U.N. and sent vastly more into poverty. The poor and displaced fled to cities, “where poverty, government mismanagement and other factors created unrest that exploded in spring 2011,” as the study’s news release explains.

The March 2015 study, “Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought,” found that global warming made Syria’s 2006 to 2010 drought two to three times more likely. “While we’re not saying the drought caused the war,” lead author Dr. Colin Kelley explained. “We are saying that it certainly contributed to other factors — agricultural collapse and mass migration among them — that caused the uprising.”
Here's a timeline from Romm's article:

Fertile crescent drought and refugee crisis — timeline and numbers (click to enlarge; source)

So the journey, from dot to dot, starts here — climate change in Syria and the "greater fertile crescent" helps produce "political unrest" and the movement of refugees and "internally displaced persons" (IDPs).

Mass Migration — African and Asians Fleeing to Europe

It's not just Syria and Iraq, though those crises are currently foremost. There is political, social and climatological crisis all throughout Africa, the Middle East and south Asia. From a Huffington Post report on the "immigrant crisis" in Europe:
In the last few years, fleeing from conflict has become the main cause of migration to Europe, says Brulc: "We have had the conflict in Syria going for years now, the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq is still not secure: people feel under threat. Then we have the situation in Eritrea.”

What is happening in Calais is just one manifestation of these Middle Eastern and African crises, says Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency. 59.5 million people are currently displaced around the world, a phenomenon he describes as "global displacement unprecedented since the World War II era."

Migrants at Calais are no longer likely to be seeing a 'better life', in the UK, he says, but to be escaping violence and abuse.

"In the years before, it could have been characterised mostly as a migratory movement driven by other reasons, such as ambitions to improve somebody’s life, and get opportunities. But clearly [migrants are coming from] the countries where there is a situation of conflict, where the push is incredibly strong. This is not a crisis driven by smugglers, it is driven by these massive push factors in the Middle East and Africa.”

Of the 100,000 refugees who have arrived in Greece this year, 61% are Syrian and 21% are Afghans, Mahecic says. “These two nationalities make up 82% of all arrivals, which speaks of the changed nature of the movement.”
The map at the top shows what that migration looks like. There's another map, produced by Europol, here:

(Click to enlarge)

Europol explains:
The influx of migrants via the Mediterranean Sea has been exponentially rising, with 220 000 migrants crossing in 2014. Apart from putting intense immigration pressure on countries such as Greece and Italy, before the migrants arrive they have often taken very risky journeys across the Mediterranean to get there.

Intelligence shows that organised criminal groups are actively facilitating the transport of these irregular migrants across the Mediterranean, and these groups have also been linked to human trafficking, drugs, firearms and terrorism. The migrants are exploited by the criminal groups who give them false promises and set them out to sea on vessels that jeopardise their lives. More than 3000 people drowned in the Mediterranean en route to Europe in 2014 and there have been 1000 deaths in 2015 alone. This problem features high on the agenda of Europol, the European Commission and concerned EU Member States, who recognise that a more balanced strategy is required to combat this irregular migration as well as the refocusing of law enforcement resources to disrupt the organised crime groups involved. Shifts in volumes using different routes demonstrate how organised criminal groups are very apt at responding to law enforcement initiatives.

The intelligence-led, European response to this problem is the establishment of the Joint Operational Team (JOT) Mare, which launches today. Hosted at Europol headquarters in The Hague, JOT Mare will tackle the organised criminal groups who are facilitating the journeys of migrants by ship across the Mediterranean Sea to the EU.
First, note that this is a strategy to "combat this irregular migration," already defined in defensive terms. Also, don't let the "organised criminal groups" aspect distract you. These groups are just exploiting the crisis; they're a "free market solution," if you will, to a market need. And of course, an increase in crime is always a consequence of social chaos as well as a cause of it (American cities, take note).

So dots one and two, social chaos and mass migration. Now for the third dot — the climate component of that migration is only getting worse.

Climate-Induced Chaos Won't go Away Until We Make It Go Away

This is just the beginning, this mass migration. There's a climate component, as we've seen, and — until and unless we're completely off of carbon as an energy source — that component is going to get stronger. The Washington Post:
July was the hottest month in Earth’s hottest year on record so far

NOAA, NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) have published data that show that it was the hottest July on record. Since July is on average the planet’s hottest month, temperatures this past month likely* reached their highest point in the history of instrumental records. NOAA calculates that July’s average global temperature of 61.86 degrees was 0.14 degrees warmer than the previous warmest month on record, July 1988.

NASA’s map of July temperatures shows the planet lit up in orange and red, signifying vast areas covered by above-normal warmth.

“The average temperature for Africa was the second highest for July on record, behind only 2002, with regional record warmth across much of eastern Africa into central areas of the continent. Record warmth was also observed across much of northern South America, parts of southern Europe and central Asia, and the far western United States,” NOAA reports. ...

* For a technical discussion of why July was likely the hottest month in recorded history, see this post by blogger Tamino: “Hottest Month
That has global implications, not just European ones. For example, in California:
California can blame about a fifth of the state’s record drought on climate change, scientists say.

Underground water supplies have been evaporating faster than they would have without the higher temperatures caused by greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
And in Bangladesh, among many other places:
The sixth annual release of Maplecroft’s Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas reveals that 31% of global economic output will be based in countries facing ‘high’ or ‘extreme risks’ from the impacts of climate change by the year 2025 – a 50% increase on current levels and more than double since the company began researching the issue in 2008.

According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), which forms a central part of the Atlas, this includes 67 countries whose estimated combined output of $44 trillion will come under increasing threat from the physical impacts of more frequent and extreme climate-related events, such as severe storms, flooding or drought.

The economic impacts of climate change will be most keenly felt by Bangladesh (1st and most at risk), Guinea-Bissau (2nd), Sierra Leone (3rd), Haiti (4th), South Sudan (5th), Nigeria (6th), DR Congo (7th), Cambodia (8th), Philippines (9th) and Ethiopia (10th), which make up the 10 most at risk countries out of the 193 rated by the CCVI. However, other important growth markets at risk include: India (20th), Pakistan (24th) and Viet Nam (26th) in the ‘extreme risk’ category, in addition to Indonesia (38th), Thailand (45th), Kenya (56th) and, most significantly, China (61st), all classified at ‘high risk.’
Again, that's "31% of global economic output," so the crisis will spread from manufacturing and producing countries to consuming countries. There's a region-by-region map and table at the source.

Mass Migrations and Political Collapse

Which brings me to my last dot — this is not the first time Europe has endured mass migration of peoples. Look at the map in the middle of this piece (here it is again; click to open in a new tab). Then look at the map below:

Mass migration of Germanic peoples into and through the Roman Empire, 100–500 CE (click to enlarge; source).

The ancient migrations accelerated after the Roman loss at Adrianople in 376 CE, but they occurred throughout the specified 400-year period.

Thus ended the long civilization of antiquity, the more than 1500-year-old civilization of the Greek and Roman world, stretching from Homeric times to the symbolic deposition of Romulus Augustulus (ironic name) in 476 CE. Imagine that migration happening, not in 400 years, but compressed into 50. Now imagine it happening worldwide. I don't think "collapse" is too strong a word for what happens if this plays out to the end.

Bottom Line — "Stop Now" Is the Only Solution

This is why we need to end the burning of carbon now, and not by using "free market solutions." Why not the free market? Because "free market solutions" aren't free (markets are always controlled), carbon-emissions "markets" aren't markets (they're government-enabled monopolies), and "free market solutions" to emissions aren't solutions at all, just delays while our billionaires pad their already overstuffed nests.

This is what a real solution looks like.


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Will Ohio Democrats Allow Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) To Pick Their Senate Nominee For Them?


Portman, Sittenfeld, Strickland

Chuck Schumer and the reviled Beltway Democratic Establishment have mandated that conservative and failed fossil Ted Strickland-- DINO darling of the NRA-- must be the Democratic candidate against GOP incumbent Rob Portman in next year's Senate race. Schumer believes that the way to beat a Republican is by running a candidate who espouses Republican values and ideas, even though this strategy has been discredited time and time again. Republican-lite candidates sometimes win, but then disappoint the Democratic base and fail to be reelected.

This is especially ironic because Democrats in Ohio have been largely craving "new blood" to lead the charge against  destructive GOP dominance in their state. And progressives in Ohio have put forward a young and dynamic candidate, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, who offers an independent, forward-thinking, values-oriented perspective that Ohioans say they want-- but that scare the hell out of unimaginative Stalinists like Boss Schumer.

When asked a few days ago if he would take a stand on the Keystone XL Pipeline, Strickland punted: "The Keystone pipeline doesn’t involve Ohio. So I’m staying out of it. It’s too divisive." Who needs to get rid of Portman if all there is as an alternative is Portman II? Sittenfeld said that by refusing to take a position on the dangerous pipeline-- meant to transport filthy Canadian coal tar to Texas refineries and ports so it can be shipped to China because Canadian ports have banned it-- Strickland "isn’t showing the kind of leadership Democrats need to beat Rob Portman," and renewed his call for a series of six debates before the March primary so "rank-and-file Democratic voters can compare us side by side before they decide who their U.S. Senate nominee should be." Strickland is ducking the debates. And on the substance of the issue, Strickland/Portman and Sittenfeld couldn't be further apart:
This is another issue on which Gov. Strickland and I strongly disagree-- and I believe he’s wrong on a number of levels. First, the pipeline-- which would carry some of the dirtiest oil on the planet-- would exacerbate climate change, and that most certainly would impact Ohio and Ohioans.

Climate change is a real and present danger to the lives of Ohio families. It contributes to the algae problem in Lake Erie, threatening Toledo’s supply of drinking water, which impacts hundreds of thousands of people. And by contributing to asthma and other respiratory illnesses, the carbon pollution that results from the burning and production of filthy tar sands oil is especially harmful to Ohio’s children.

Second, even if the Keystone XL didn’t affect Ohio, serving in the United States Senate demands a level of leadership that focuses on the national interest. We can't afford Senators who want to 'stay out' of an issue as fundamental to the survival of the planet as climate change.

Third, since when did it become acceptable for Senate candidates to avoid dealing with issues because they are controversial and ‘divisive’? Isn’t that the kind of cover-your-behind politics that voters say they’re sick of? Leaders lead-- they don’t bob, weave, evade and equivocate.

Let me be crystal clear. I oppose the Keystone XL pipeline and I would vote against it. I have outlined aggressive measures to deal with climate change. And I once again call on Gov. Strickland to stop stalling and agree to a series of six debates with me, just like our Democratic candidates for President are having. We should stand toe to toe and let the voters compare us side by side. After all, if Ted’s afraid to debate me, how can he possibly beat Rob Portman, let alone protect Ohio’s interests in the Senate?
In its coverage, the influential Columbus Dispatch got to the point of why wishy-washy conservaDems like Strickland are fatally flawed champions for working families. "A political battle erupted on Thursday as U.S. Senate candidate Ted Strickland was attacked on opposite fronts after saying this week he did not have a position on building a controversial oil pipeline linking Canada to Texas." Sittenfeld's contrast with Strickland was immediately followed with an attack from the Portman camp.
Corry Bliss, a Portman spokesman, said the Ohio Republican "is proud to support" the pipeline because "it is good for our economy, energy production and national security... Given his record as governor, when Ohio lost over 350,000 jobs, it is clear that Gov. Strickland not only lacks the ability to lead, but he also lacks the ability to even answer yes or no questions," Bliss said. By the end of the day, Strickland aides declined to say whether he has a position on the pipeline.
So instead if a debate on the merits of Keystone XL-- with Sittenfeld opposing it and Portman pushing it-- you get Strickland looking confused and incapable, which may be attractive to someone like Schumer and his ilk but is far from what Ohio voters are looking for. Blue America has endorsed Sittenfeld, and if you'd like to make sure a progressive from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, as Howard Dean put it (or to update it slightly, a Democrat from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party), wins the nomination and goes head-to-head with Portman in 2016, please consider contributing what you can here. None of the candidates on that page are the Schumer puppets and Wall Street shills the DSCC is pushing.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hungary Blocks Refuge For Syrians Seeking Asylum In Europe


Trump's wall will be much fancier

Hungary's right-wing Fidesz Party won enough parliamentary seats in 2010 (263, more than two-thirds) to be able to ride roughshod over the country's post-Communist democracy. They were even able to change the constitution, although they have since lost two by-eletions and no longer have that power. The really far right party-- a neo-Nazi outfit called Jobbik-- came in third and won 47 seats. 

Right after the election Oszkár Molnár, Fidesz member of parliament, told the media that "I love Hungary, I love Hungarians, and I prefer Hungarian interests to global financial capital, or Jewish capital, if you like, which wants to devour the whole world, but especially Hungary," and, later, that gypsy women deliberately try to induce birth defects for financial gain. "I have checked this," he said, "and it’s true; they hit their bellies with a rubber hammer so that they’ll give birth to handicapped kids." The party is anti-Semitic, homophobic and nationalistic. You can imagine what their friends in the fascist Jobbik-- who are far more anti-Semitic, homophobic and nationalistic-- have to say. Things like "we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews."

No doubt you read the grisly news about the Hungarian grocery truck filled with 71 corpses that was found over the border in Austria. The dead are Syrian refugees fleeing ISIS and the country's civil war.
Migrants fearful of death at sea in overcrowded and flimsy boats have increasingly turned to using a land route to Europe through the Western Balkans. They start in Greece, which they can reach via a short boat trip from Turkey, then move on through Macedonia, Serbia and into Hungary, where thousands have been crossing the border every day, crawling over or under a razor-wire fence meant to keep them out.

Most go from there to other countries in the European Union, sometimes paying smugglers to drive them, but the discovery of the bodies in the truck showed there is no truly safe path.
Keeping in mind the nature of the right-wing nationalist government in Budapest, it should come as no surprise that the Hungarians aren't exactly facilitating the movement of Syrains refugees through their country. No one wants to stay in the close-minded little fascistic state, but the Hungarians don't want them even traveling through. The Hungarians have built a fence along their southern border-- although not the big beautiful one Trump envisions on our own border. Tens of thousands of refugee families are fleeing for their lives, and the Hungarians are extremely hostile to them and have been accused of inhumane treatment.
Surveying a section of the razor-wire barrier that Hungary has built along its 110-mile border with Serbia, Mr Baloch [a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] said: “This is Fortress Europe coming into being. “It’s a reminder of the Iron Curtain. Can Europe really hide behind walls and fences when these desperate people need help? Seeking asylum is not a crime.”
Meanwhile the chief of staff for Viktor Orban, Hungary's rightist prime minister, told a local newspaper, "If we do not take meaningful steps"-- presumably steps beyond the teargas Hungarian soldiers are using on refugees-- "we will become a lifeboat that sinks beneath the weight of those clinging onto it." And this despite the fact that none of the refugees want to stay in Hungary any longer than it takes to pass through to Austria, Germany and beyond. Orban gins up resentment against the refugees with wild claims that there are risks of terrorism, crime and unemployment. 

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is "horrified and heartbroken" and that a "large majority" of people undertaking such dangerous journeys are refugees who have the right to protection and asylum. He called on all governments to act with compassion and humanity.

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Oliver Sacks (1933-2015)


"Oliver Sacks, the world-renowned neurologist and author who chronicled maladies and ennobled the afflicted in books that were regarded as masterpieces of medical literature, died Aug. 30 at his home in Manhattan. He was 82."

"You are an abomination. I wish you had never been born."
-- an observation made to Olliver Sacks, quoted by Emily Langer

by Ken

The death of Oliver Sacks can't have surprised anyone, least of all Oliver Sacks himself, since he had gone as public as a person can (writing in the New York Times) with the news that he had terminal cancer. But that doesn't make it any less earth-shaking. For a lot of us, an overwhelming amount of what we've come to learn about the workings (and nonworkings) of the human brain, and even the human mind (i.e., the brain in working context) have come through his prolific and deeply felt writings.

In August 2010, for example, I wrote -- in some awe -- a post called "Oliver Sacks opens a window, personally, on the condition of 'face-blindness,'" about Sack's just-appeared New Yorker piece about prosopagnosia, whose sufferers are unable to recognize faces. In the piece he made me see how this goes to the heart of the way we perceive and make sense of the world around us -- and also startled me with the revelation that his knowledge of the condition began at first hand.

Here's a bit more of Emily Langer's WaPo obit:
An Englishman who made his life in America, Dr. Sacks devoted his career to patients with rare, seemingly hopeless conditions of the nervous system. He distinguished himself both in the clinic and on the printed page and was often called a “poet laureate” of modern medicine.

His books, many of which were bestsellers, generally took the form of clinical anecdotes. A man who mistakes his wife for a hat, an artist who can no longer see in color, a hospital full of patients gloriously, but fleetingly, “awakened” from years-long catatonia: In each case, Dr. Sacks sought to uncover some wisdom, medical or moral.
Not surprisingly, the obit is mostly admiring, but Emily does cite two general, quite harsh criticisms. The one I've quoted above is buried pretty deep in the piece; we'll come back to it. Here's the other:
Dr. Sacks discomfited some readers, who maintained that he capitalized on his patients’ suffering to form handy parables. Tom Shakespeare, a British disability rights activist, called him “the man who mistook his patients for a literary career.”
Now I haven't read the source, and I don't especially care to seek it out. It's possible that in context Tom Shakespeare isn't a total nincompoop and is conjuring a trap that the kind of writing Oliver Sacks did has to guard against. It doesn't sound like that's what he meant, but let's entertain the possibility that he's not the total nincompoop this quote would make him out to be. If you were to make up a list of writers -- neurological professionals or otherwise -- who had the largest positive impact on understanding of and care for the neurologically impaired, my guess is that Oliver Sacks would occupy the top 50 positions, at a conservative estimate.

For a fuller appreciation, we're going to turn to his longtime New Yorker and medical colleague Jerome Groopman, the magazine's great writer on medical subjects. So let's turn back to the other judgment rendered about Sacks, which as it happens came from the subject's mother. Now when a man has been called "an abomination" by his mother, who further expressed the wish that he had never been born, you would think it might have a certain, um, piquancy, a certain resonance, in his life's story.

Even if you didn't know what might have produced such a judgment, I'm guessing you wouldn't have much difficulty guessing. Here's the quote again, with a bit more context:
Oliver Wolf Sacks, one of four sons in an observant Jewish family with many scientists, was born in London on July 9, 1933.

Both his parents, he said, were “medical storytellers.” He went on house calls with his father, a Yiddish-speaking family doctor, and studied anatomy with his mother, a surgeon who sought to instill in her son a love of anatomy by performing dissections with him.

She also instilled in him what he described as a sense of shame about his sexuality.

“You are an abomination,” she told him, Dr. Sacks recalled, when she learned of her son’s homosexual leanings. “I wish you had never been born.”

Dr. Sacks reflected on the exchange years later in “On the Move,” a memoir that would be his last volume published in his lifetime.

“We are all creatures of our upbringings, our cultures, our times,” he wrote. “My mother did not mean to be cruel, to wish me dead. She was suddenly overwhelmed, I now realize, and she probably regretted her words or perhaps partitioned them off in a closeted part of her mind. But her words haunted me for much of my life and played a major part in inhibiting and injecting with guilt what should have been a free and joyous expression of sexuality.”
Now, as promised, here's the beautiful piece Jerome Groopman put up this afternoon on the New Yorker website:

Oliver Sacks, a dear colleague of mine at The New Yorker and in the world of medicine, was an inspiration to me and to countless physicians. A great deal will be said in the coming days about Oliver’s unique literary output -- masterful books including “An Anthropologist on Mars,” “Awakenings,” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.” But we should remember that he also embodied in his medical practice a kind of ideal approach -- creative, sensitive, and large-hearted -- to his many patients. He was an extraordinary and exemplary doctor.

Neurology is often depicted as a discipline of great detachment. Sacks, who was eighty-two when he died, trained in the field before the advent of the CT scan and the MRI. He learned to observe his patients in extreme detail, calling on his professional training and uncanny perception to make meticulous analyses of motor strength, reflexes, sensation, and mental status; in doing so, he arrived at a diagnosis that might locate a lesion within the anatomy of the brain or spinal cord. And yet, because medical technology had only gone so far in those days, once this intellectual exercise was completed, there was often very little that could be done to ameliorate most neurological maladies.

Sacks showed that it was possible to overcome this limited perspective. He questioned absolutist categories of normal and abnormal, healthy and debilitated. He did not ignore or romanticize the suffering of the individual. He sought to locate not just the affliction but a core of creative possibility and a reservoir of potential that was untapped in the patient. There was case history, for instance, of a color-blind painter who lost all perception of color discovered he could capture the nuances of forms and shapes in hues of black and grey with great mastery.

As both a physician and as a writer, Oliver’s two great themes were identity and adaptation. Illness, he made plain, need not rob us of our essential selves -- and this was something he exemplified in his final months, as a he continued to write remarkable essays even as cancer began to sap his strength and overwhelm him. Sacks understood our frequent ability to adapt, and emphasized that the capacity for someone to adapt to a particular condition -- amnesia, blindness, deafness, migraines, phantom-limb syndrome, Asperger’s syndrome, and countless other conditions -- cannot be known from the outset. These concepts grew from his study of zoology and evolution at Oxford. He similarly saw in medicine a great diversity among individual patients, and the inherent uncertainty of the outcome of a particular disorder. These unknowns gave hope to patients guided by the right doctor -- a hope he captured in his description, in “Awakenings,” of catatonic-seeming encephalitis patients at Beth Abraham Hospital, in the Bronx, who had been written off as “locked in” and then revived, at least provisionally, by drugs like L-Dopa.

Sacks was a contrarian who refused to compromise this approach to the sick and the suffering. He resisted the powerful current of modern practice that seeks the generic. He rejected a monolithic mindset, and retrieved the individual from the obscuring blanket of statistics. This put him outside of the academy, exiled to chronic-care institutions. Through his writing, Sacks ultimately received recognition for advancing a unique form of clinical scholarship that was largely abandoned: the study of the single person within the context of his own life. Ever the acute observer, his case histories confirmed that under a single diagnostic term was a spectrum of human biology. No two patients are ever the same, he emphasized. When examining patients on the autistic spectrum, for example, he highlighted, and informed the public about, individuals with the capacity to draw precisely from memory, the capacity to make calculations nearly at the speed of a computer, or the ability to listen to a piece of music and reproduce it on the piano.

Sacks made house calls, not only in California and New York where he practiced, but globally, visiting Dr. “Bennet,” a surgeon with Tourette’s syndrome in rural Canada or the autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire on a tour of Europe. In these visits, he practiced what might be called the medicine of friendship, showing genuine interest and respect to people who are often shunned. This was the therapeutic intervention when neurology lacked effective pills or procedures.

This did not mean Sacks was a Luddite. He was an avid reader of scientific journals, fascinated by scientific advancements in imaging the nervous system at work. He engaged in dialogue with Nobel laureates and lab scientists about the nature of consciousness, providing what they lacked -- the insights of a naturalist, a field worker.

Sacks also embodied an attribute that can be lost after people become famous: a boundless generosity of spirit. He encouraged young doctors and scientists to record their experiences and communicate them in prose, celebrating their endeavors rather than seeing them as a form of competition or threat. I believe his intense curiosity and boundless energy moved him to want to learn from the succeeding generation, as great teachers do.

Over the past years, Oliver revealed a part of his life that was once considered a debility and disorder -- his sexual orientation. The demeaning of this part of his person, he believed, was the cause for his descent into amphetamine abuse. Drugs may well have killed him decades ago, before his contributions to medicine and writing. It was clinical work, caring for others with competence and compassion, that proved therapeutic for the doctor, giving him the strength to break the powerful grip of drug use. After decades of celibacy, Oliver shared the last eight years of his life with the writer Billy Hayes.

In May, after I had reviewed “On the Move: A Life,” his autobiography, he sent me a letter about what he wanted to accomplish in the time left to him. “In whatever time remains,” he aimed to “pull together another book of case histories–some large … some small, even miniature.” Every dimension of the patient was meaningful in his thinking.

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It's A Trumpy Sunday... Sorry


Trump has made noises about taxing the rich and ending all the nonsense about trickle-down economics and how job creators shouldn't be taxed. Yesterday in Nashville, with deranged right-wing extremist Sharon Angle on hand, he even told a crowd he would protect their Social Security, which other Republicans refer to as a Ponzi Scheme, and their Medicare, which Jeb wants to phase out. Right after the news hit the wires, frustrated Republican commentator David Frum tweeted an interesting observation:

Trump's campaign is certainly shock therapy, but if the GOP needs to be jolted away from Ayn Rand fantasies, none of the other candidates are picking up on Trump's populism. The only aspect of his campaign any of them are emulating is the racism and bigotry.

As I mentioned yesterday, Trump told Bloomberg reporters that he "would take carried interest out, and I would let people making hundreds of millions of dollars a year pay some tax, because right now they are paying very little tax and I think it’s outrageous. I want to lower taxes for the middle class." I don't expect Jeb or Scott Walker or Rubio or even his best bud Ted Cruz to echo those sentiments. And not even Hillary Clinton is going to campaign on the kinds of populist economics issues Trump is starting to espouse.

Although Greg Sargent is reporting on all this with a grain of salt, he still finds it interesting-- as we all should-- that Trump is even going down this road at all.
Taken all together, what this means (I think) is that Trump would raise taxes on investment income precisely because that would pay for middle class tax relief; that lower tax rates on investments are fundamentally unfair; and that hiking taxes on investments would not dampen economic growth. That seems very much like a broad rejection of trickle down dogma. (The necessary caveats: We don’t know whether Trump’s overall approach would raise or lower the tax burden on the rich; we don’t know whether Trump believes any of this; and he could suddenly reverse course on it at any moment.)

Trump does seem to have broken with GOP dogma here, and to my knowledge, none of his Republican rivals have responded directly to it. But Marco Rubio is justifying his call for eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends by arguing that investment creates jobs for people like his bartender father. It’s an interesting contrast.

One of the odd paradoxes of Trump’s rise has been that even as he is little more than an entertainer, his willingness to say what other Republicans won’t has forced out into the open genuine policy debates among Republicans that had previously been shrouded in vagueness or imprisoned within party orthodoxy. His call for mass deportations has unmasked GOP evasions over what to do about the 11 million, forcing something close to a real debate on that question. His vow not to cut Social Security benefits has led some to ask whether GOP voters might actually disagree with party dogma on the need to cut them.

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It's Donald Trump, So You Can Bet There Are Always Plenty Of Strings Attached


Donald and Charles-- mekhutonim

Ernie Boch Jr. sells cars for a living. He's rich. He spreads his political contributions around, primarily among various types of Republicans. He gave the Massachusetts Republican Party and the NRSC $30,000 each and he gave the RNC $16,000. He's been a big supporter of both Mitt Romney and Scott Brown. Friday evening he held a fundraiser at his Norwood estate for Trump.

Trump insists it wasn't a fundraiser, although, the minimum to get in was $100. He apparently thinks that if he tells the media there are "no strings attached" to the contributions he gets from his fans, it must mean they're not actually contributions, even though the FEC certainly defines them that way. Not a single person running for president would say there are strings attached to the contributions they are getting-- even if Bernie Sanders' 400,000 donors are the only ones who know that to be actually true.

Trump, who constantly brags about how rich he is and claims he's financing his own campaign, says he's turning down "millions of dollars." Crooked New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner is an old friend of Trump's, and Trump's daughter Ivanka is married to Kushner's son Jared, publisher of the NY Observer. Kushner was convicted of making illegal campaign contributions and of tax evasion and witness tampering, and served a year of a two-year sentence in prison. Last Sunday he had a non-fundraiser for Trump at his palatial $6.7 million beachfront mansion in Long Branch on the Jersey Shore. He gave Trump $100,000. The invitation for the non-fundraiser read: "Seryl and Charles Kushner invite you to their home to meet DONALD TRUMP," with Trump’s name in red letters beneath a pair of American flags, just above "Make America Great Again!" Trump insists it was a just garden party.

Kushner, who has primarily given to Democratic crooks like Chuck Schumer, Joe Lieberman, Jon Corzine and Robert Mendoza, blames Chris Christie-- who was the prosecutor who sent him to prison-- for his legal woes. Maybe the only string attached to the $100,000 he gave to Trump's super-PAC was the satisfaction of seeing Christie get buried. But I doubt it; after all, Kushner is well-known for having once retaliated against his own sister by hiring a prostitute for her husband, taping it and sending her the tape. Trump was happy to get the $100,000, but has never allowed himself to be photographed with his pal Kushner. If someone doesn't want campaign contributions, why does he have a super-PAC? Does it have another function that no one ever told me about?
An independent super-PAC has been formed to raise unlimited funds to power Donald Trump’s run for the presidency, the Post has learned.

The political action committee is called Make America Great Again, the slogan of the Republican real estate mogul’s White House campaign.

It says in its filings that it “intends to raise funds in unlimited amounts.”

It does not specify whom it will support or oppose, but Jon Anderson, a Denver-based attorney involved in filing the paperwork, confirmed Make America Great Again is a pro-Trump PAC... [A]n independent super-PAC can raise and spend millions of dollars to bolster or oppose particular candidates-- as long as it doesn’t coordinate with a campaign.

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Time To Remove Debbie Wasserman Schultz As DNC Chair? WAY Past Time!


There are far too many self-serving careerist Democrats in politics to be able to say Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the worst. But people do say it. And she is certainly one of the worst. When she was a state senator in Florida she cut a gerrymandering deal with the Republicans that gave her an unassailably Jewish congressional district made for her forever. In return the GOP got far more narrowly safe congressional seats than their share of the statewide vote would make reasonable. And in the state legislature, as in Congress, she was and has been a deal-maker with all the worst crooks with special interests they needed taken care of-- from the private prison industry to the Fanjul brothers and their sugar empire.

Politically, her conservatism has been a catastrophe for Florida Democrats. As the head of the DCCC's Red to Blue program, she endorsed three corrupt conservative Republicans instead of their Democratic challengers! She has been disrespectful-- and downright evil-- towards Democratic candidates who were not conservative self-funders. A New Dem sleazebag, she is constantly pushing the Democratic Party to the economic right from within. And she's been rewarded for her efforts with the chairmanship of the DNC.

As chair of the DNC she has raised immense sums of money for herself and has undermined Democratic Party values and principles and pushed her own reactionary agenda, giving credence to right-wing nonsense from the "dangers" of medical marijuana to the "dangers" of opening up to Cuba.

Yesterday Dan Balz and Philip Rucker reported in the Washington Post that Wasserman Schultz used her position as party chair to block a resolution at the DNC conclave in Minneapolis backing Obama on the Iran deal.
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz prevented consideration of a resolution at the party’s summer meeting here that praised President Obama and offered backing for the nuclear agreement with Iran, according to knowledgeable Democrats.

The resolution was drafted with the intention of putting the national committee on record in support of the agreement as Congress prepares to take up the issue when members return from their August recess.

As a fallback, James Zogby, the co-chair of the Resolutions Committee, led a move to prepare a letter of support for the president and the Iran agreement that eventually gained signatures from a sizable majority of the members of the national committee. Zogby said Saturday that, in the end, this produced a satisfactory outcome.

“We wanted to show support for the president,” he said. “We found that the best way to show support was a letter that members would sign on to, and the overwhelming majority of DNC members signed onto the letter. This is the President Obama we elected in 2008 who said, ‘I choose diplomacy over conflict,’ and he did it.”

...Some Democrats on the national committee who were unhappy that the resolution did not come up for consideration said that, as DNC chair, Wasserman Schultz owed her allegiance in this instance to the president, regardless of her own local political considerations. had a petition up within hours to remove her as DNC chair. You can read it and sign it here. Isn't one Republican Party enough?

UPDATE: Will A Progressive Primary Wasserman Schultz?

Several progressives have been trying to persuade Tim Canova, a professor of law and public finance at the Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, to run against Wasserman Schultz. This is an OpEd he wrote, published today by the Miami Herald which supports the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act, a bill that was introduced by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, which has been ignored by Wasserman Schultz and her New Dem allies. We'll keep you posted if this looks like it will work out. Meanwhile, labor unions who are sick and tired of being betrayed by her have started circulating and posting these flyers:

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Palin Does Trump-- And She Speaks For All The Paranoid Racist Misanthropes Of America


Part of the reason Trump has shot to the top of the polls-- and has increased his standing while elite journalists and pundits consistently predicted he would implode-- is because media consumers can't get enough of him. He's an outspoken TV celebrity who can get away with saying outrageous things and making up his own facts-- the way Reagan used to do-- and the media covers him as if he were an OJ Simpson car chase. He's great for ratings. It might not compute in my own world-- I never slow down to stare at a highway accident-- but I know that people with sad, shallow lives get something out of identifying with a brash in-your-face asshole and bully like Donald Trump.

Perhaps overexposure will eventually kill off his run, in which case the GOP nomination will go to Trump favorite and fellow fascist Ted Cruz. But watching the embarrassingly pedestrian interview Sarah Palin did with Trump Friday night on some network no one had ever heard of before, OAN (above), maybe people will eventually just grow bored with his antics. There's plenty of time. The Iowa caucuses aren't till the beginning of February. The New Hampshire primary is a week later. The South Carolina Republican primary is February 20-- Dems go a week later-- and the Nevada Republican caucuses are February 23 (three days after the Democrats caucus in that state). So we have five full months before any voting even gets started. 

I was interested in one number from the latest Reuters-Ipsos poll released yesterday. It wasn't that the give-day moving average showed Trump at the head of the pack with 28.4% (with almost five times more support than Establishment fave Jeb Bush) but that in the #2 spot was "wouldn't vote"-- 25.2%.

One would like to think that Trump's compulsive lying would do him in, but we're talking about a thoroughly Foxified, dumbed-down Republican primary electorate, so... facts don't matter. When Trump says "millions" of "illegals" are streaming over the southern border, he's appealing to ugly, naked fear, not trying to score points in a debate. The facts-- that deportations of undocumented Mexican immigrants soared after George W. Bush left office, that the number of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. illegally has declined, and that more Mexicans have left the U.S. than arrived since Obama became president-- aren't something Trump (or Fox) would ever deem information to impart to Republican primary voters. Why confuse them further?

A few weeks ago we started looking at the similarities between Trump's appeal and the classic appeals fascists were using to reach voters in Europe before World War II. More and more of the mainstream media is starting to notice the same thing. Evan Osnos, writing in The New Yorker, remarks on Trump's flirtation with fascism by noting that his "nationalist coalition" is taking shape.
What accounts for Donald Trump’s political moment? How did a real campaign emerge from a proposition so ludicrous that an episode of The Simpsons once used a Trump Presidency as the conceit for a dystopian future? The candidate himself is an unrewarding source of answers. Plumbing Trump’s psyche is as productive as asking American Pharoah, the winner of the Triple Crown, why he runs. The point is what happens when he does.

In New Hampshire, where voters pride themselves on being unimpressed, Fred Rice, a Republican state representative, arrived at a Trump rally in the beach town of Hampton on an August evening, and found people waiting patiently in a two-hour line that stretched a quarter of a mile down the street. “Never seen that at a political event before,” he said. Other Republicans offer “canned bullshit,” Rice went on. “People have got so terribly annoyed and disenchanted and disenfranchised, really, by candidates who get up there, and all their stump speeches promise everything to everyone.” By the night’s end, Rice was sold. “I heard echoes of Ronald Reagan,” he told me, adding, “If I had to vote today, I would vote for Trump.”

To inhabit Trump’s landscape for a while, to chase his jet or stay behind with his fans in a half-dozen states, is to encounter a confederacy of the frustrated-- less a constituency than a loose alliance of Americans who say they are betrayed by politicians, victimized by a changing world, and enticed by Trump’s insurgency. Dave Anderson, a New Hampshire Republican who retired from United Parcel Service, told me, “People say, ‘Well, it’d be nice to have another Bush.’ No, it wouldn’t be nice. We had two. They did their duty. That’s fine, but we don’t want this Bush following what his brother did. And he’s not coming across as very strong at all. He’s not saying what Trump is saying. He’s not saying what the issues are.”

Trump’s constant talk of his money, his peering down on the one per cent (not to mention the ninety-nine), has helped him to a surprising degree. “I love the fact that he wouldn’t be owing anybody,” Nancy Merz, a fifty-two-year-old Hampton Republican, told me. She worked at a furniture company, she said. “But the industry went down the tubes.” Her husband, Charlie, used to build household electricity meters at a General Electric plant, until the job moved to Mexico. Now he parks cars at a hospital. Trump, in his speech, promised to stop companies from sending jobs abroad, and the Merzes became Trump Republicans. They are churchgoers, but they don’t expect Trump to become one, and they forgive his unpriestly comments about women. “There are so many other things going on in this country that we’ve got be concerned about,” Nancy said. “I’ve seen a lot of our friends lose their houses.”

Trump’s fans project onto him a vast range of imaginings-- about toughness, business acumen, honesty-- from a continuum that ranges from economic and libertarian conservatives to the far-right fringe. In partisan terms, his ideas are riven by contradiction-- he calls for mass deportations but opposes cuts to Medicare and Social Security; he vows to expand the military but criticizes free trade-- and yet that is a reflection of voters’ often incoherent sets of convictions. The biggest surprise in Trump’s following? He “made an incredible surge among the Tea Party supporters,” according to Patrick Murray, who runs polling for Monmouth University. Before Trump announced his candidacy, only twenty per cent of Tea Partiers had a favorable view of him; a month later, that figure had risen to fifty-six per cent. Trump became the top choice among Tea Party voters, supplanting (and opening a large lead over) Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Governor Scott Walker, of Wisconsin, both Tea Party stalwarts. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted last month, the “broad majority” of Trump’s supporters hailed from two groups: voters with no college degree, and voters who say that immigrants weaken America. By mid-August, Trump was even closing in on Hillary Clinton. CNN reported that, when voters were asked to choose between the two, Clinton was leading fifty-one per cent to forty-five.

In Hampton, I dropped by Fast Eddie’s Diner for the breakfast rush. “He has my vote,” Karen Mayer, a sixty-one-year-old human-resources manager, told me. Already? “Already,” she said. Her husband, Bob Hazelton, nodded in agreement. I asked what issue they cared about more than any other. “Illegal immigration, because it’s destroying the country,” Mayer said. I didn’t expect that answer in New Hampshire, I remarked. She replied, “They’re everywhere, and they are sucking our economy dry.” Hazelton nodded again, and said, “And we’re paying for it.”

When the Trump storm broke this summer, it touched off smaller tempests that stirred up American politics in ways that were easy to miss from afar. At the time, I happened to be reporting on extremist white-rights groups, and observed at first hand their reactions to his candidacy. Trump was advancing a dire portrait of immigration that partly overlapped with their own. On June 28th, twelve days after Trump’s announcement, the Daily Stormer, America’s most popular neo-Nazi news site, endorsed him for President: “Trump is willing to say what most Americans think: it’s time to deport these people.” The Daily Stormer urged white men to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.

Ever since the Tea Party’s peak, in 2010, and its fade, citizens on the American far right-- Patriot militias, border vigilantes, white supremacists-- have searched for a standard-bearer, and now they’d found him. In the past, “white nationalists,” as they call themselves, had described Trump as a “Jew-lover,” but the new tone of his campaign was a revelation. Richard Spencer is a self-described “identitarian” who lives in Whitefish, Montana, and promotes “white racial consciousness.” At thirty-six, Spencer is trim and preppy, with degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago. He is the president and director of the National Policy Institute, a think tank, co-founded by William Regnery, a member of the conservative publishing family, that is “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of European people in the United States and around the world.” The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Spencer “a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old.” Spencer told me that he had expected the Presidential campaign to be an “amusing freak show,” but that Trump was “refreshing.” He went on, “Trump, on a gut level, kind of senses that this is about demographics, ultimately. We’re moving into a new America.” He said, “I don’t think Trump is a white nationalist,” but he did believe that Trump reflected “an unconscious vision that white people have-- that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country. I think that scares us. They probably aren’t able to articulate it. I think it’s there. I think that, to a great degree, explains the Trump phenomenon. I think he is the one person who can tap into it.”

Jared Taylor, the editor of American Renaissance, a white-nationalist magazine and Web site based in Oakton, Virginia, told me, in regard to Trump, “I’m sure he would repudiate any association with people like me, but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.”

...Ann Coulter, whose most recent book is ¡Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole, appeared on Sean Hannity’s show and urged fellow-Republicans to see Trump’s summer as a harbinger. “The new litmus test for real conservatives is immigration,” she said. “They used to say the same thing about the pro-life Republicans and the pro-gun Republicans, and, ‘Oh, they’re fringe and they’re tacky, and we’re so embarrassed to be associated with them.’ Now every one of them comes along and pretends they’d be Reagan.”

From the pantheon of great demagogues, Trump has plucked some best practices-- William Jennings Bryan’s bombast, Huey Long’s wit, Father Charles Coughlin’s mastery of the airwaves-- but historians are at pains to find the perfect analogue, because so much of Trump’s recipe is specific to the present. Celebrities had little place in American politics until the 1920 Presidential election, when Al Jolson and other stars from the fledgling film industry endorsed Warren Harding [who ran on deporting Mexican immigrants and promptly did so after he was elected]. Two decades ago, Americans were less focussed on paid-for politicians, so Ross Perot, a self-funded billionaire candidate, did not derive the same benefit as Trump from the perception of independence.

Trump’s signature lines-- “The American dream is dead” and “We don’t have victories anymore”-- constitute a bitter mantra in tune with a moment when the share of Americans who tell Gallup pollsters that there is “plenty of opportunity” has dropped to an unprecedented fifty-two per cent; when trust in government has reached its lowest level on record, and Americans’ approval of both major parties has sunk, for the first time, below forty per cent. Matthew Heimbach, who is twenty-four, and a prominent white-nationalist activist in Cincinnati, told me that Trump has energized disaffected young men like him. “He is bringing people back out of their slumber,” he said.

Ordinarily, the white-nationalist Web sites mock Republicans as Zionist stooges and corporate puppets who have opened the borders in order to keep wages low. But, on July 9th, VDARE, an opinion site founded to “push back the plans of pro-Amnesty/Immigration Surge politicians, ethnic activists and corrupt Big Business,” hailed Trump as “the first figure with the financial, cultural, and economic resources to openly defy elite consensus. If he can mobilize Republicans behind him and make a credible run for the Presidency, he can create a whole new media environment for patriots to openly speak their mind without fear of losing their jobs.” The piece was headlined “WE ARE ALL DONALD TRUMP NOW.”

Trump has succeeded in unleashing an old gene in American politics-- the crude tribalism that Richard Hofstadter named “the paranoid style”-- and, over the summer, it replicated like a runaway mutation. Whenever Americans have confronted the reshuffling of status and influence-- the Great Migration, the end of Jim Crow, the end of a white majority-- we succumb to the anti-democratic politics of absolutism, of a “conflict between absolute good and absolute evil,” in which, Hofstadter wrote, “the quality needed is not a willingness to compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Nothing but complete victory will do.” Trump was born to the part. “I’ll do nearly anything within legal bounds to win,” he wrote, in The Art of the Deal. “Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition.” Trump, who long ago mastered the behavioral nudges that could herd the public into his casinos and onto his golf courses, looked so playful when he gave out Lindsey Graham’s cell-phone number that it was easy to miss just how malicious a gesture it truly was. It expressed the knowledge that, with a single utterance, he could subject an enemy to that most savage weapon of all: us.

Trump’s candidacy has already left a durable mark, expanding the discourse of hate such that, in the midst of his feuds and provocations, we barely even registered that Senator Ted Cruz had called the sitting President “the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism,” or that Senator Marco Rubio had redoubled his opposition to abortion in cases of rape, incest, or a mortal threat to the mother. Trump has bequeathed a concoction of celebrity, wealth, and alienation that is more potent than any we’ve seen before. If, as the Republican establishment hopes, the stargazers eventually defect, Trump will be left with the hardest core-- the portion of the electorate that is drifting deeper into unreality, with no reconciliation in sight.
Meanwhile, the Des Moines Register published the newest Iowa Poll today and it looks like dissatisfaction with the Establishment isn't just a Republican thing. Iowa Democrats have swung strongly away from Establishment candidate Hillary Clinton and towards... Bernie:

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