Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Credo Mobile

Just like I've been saying....(if you read that and decide to switch, kindly mention my name and phone number or special personal code, BVMGN, send me your address, and I'll split the $100 check they send me for referring someone, 50-50. I promise.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Onward Christian Warriors (David Brooks, ass-licker)

It’s because nebbishly little dorks like Brooks and Paul Wolfowitz and David Frum got their books dumped in high school that we end up dropping daisy cutters on Afghan sheep herds and shipping working class American kids halfway around the world to get their nuts blown off. That sounds like a simplistic explanation, but anyone who doesn’t have a keen ear for the pencil-pusher’s eternal quest for macho cred is going to have a hard time understanding Washington politics. Brooks’s columns have always been the easiest way to take the pulse of that particular dynamic, and it sure seems now that bureaucratic momentum for intervention and more intervention is re-inflating the chests of these Beltway generals.

Anyway, I almost can’t wait to see where this goes. Is the world ready for “Barack Obama, Christian Warrior?”

Praise the Lord whose dollar sign dupes his favored race!
Make the foreign trash respect your bullion brand of grace.
Trust in mock salvation, serve as tyrant's tools;
History will say of you: "That pack of God damn fools."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Still fighting for health care

Will the Progressive Block mean anything? Author of the essential text, "A Party is not a Movement," David Sirota pushes back against "establishment backlash, obsequiously triumphalist bullshit" and urges more and more progressive pressure:
In other words, if you are a Democrat, wherever you come down on the "pass the Lieberman-gutted bill" or "don't pass the Lieberman-gutted bill" divide, it should be clear the fight we're having right now over the Lieberman-gutted Senate bill is a fight worth having not just for this particular bill. It's a fight worth having for the overall cause of genuine health care reform. The progressive movement backing the president and/or the Democrats because of party affiliation, falling in line out of some obligation to unity, and even using our limited resources to praise this bill as "a good step forward" fails to appreciate how a movement is different than a party or a set of politicians. It fails to maximize what movements need to do to make sure parties and politicians deliver the most they can in the short-term and follow through in the long-term.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

8/4 Walnut Bookmatch

Custom sizes from bar block to island top, choice of grain pattern and router detail available as always.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

broken system

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


(via demos):

Still enjoy sticking it to the Progressive Left while enabling Blue Dogs, Rahm Emanuel? You own every inch of this fuck up.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Copenhagen, cont.

350.org updates, here...

Update: And all the talk so far of holding global temperature rise to only 2C turns out to be politician-speak bullshit; they're still only talking about 3C:

With the talks entering the final 24 hours on a knife-edge, the emergence of the [leaked UN] document seriously undermines the statements by governments that they are aiming to limit emissions to a level ensuring no more than a 2C temperature rise over the next century, and indicates that the last day of negotiations will be extremely challenging.

A rise of 3C would mean up to 170 million more people suffering severe coastal floods and 550 million more at risk of hunger, according to the Stern economic review of climate change for the UK government – as well as leaving up to 50% of species facing extinction. Even a rise of 2C would lead to a sharp decline in tropical crop yields, [1/3 of all species facing extinction], more flooding and droughts....

The UN is admitting in private that the pledges made by world leaders would lead to a 3C rise in temperatures. The science shows that could lead to the collapse of the Amazon rainforest, crippling water shortages across South America and Australia and the near-extinction of tropical coral reefs, and that's just the start of it."

Bill McKibben, founder of the campaign 350.org, said: "In one sense this is no secret – we've been saying it for months. But it is powerful to have the UN confirming its own insincerity."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

will the coming return of the dustbowl be someday known as "the good years?"

"The dispossessed were drawn west- from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico; from Nevada and Arkansas, families, tribes, dusted out, tractored out.... They streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless - restless as ants, scurrying to find work to do - to lift, to push, to pull, to pick, to cut - anything, any burden to bear, for food. The kids are hungry. We got no place to live. Like ants scurrying for work, for food, and most of all for land." -Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (image via)

The facts about what climate change will do to our planet, both the already inevitable, the very likely and the current trajectory toward extinction, in detail here (pdf):

A refreshingly honest and sobering article here, deserves to be required reading for all, particularly right now:
They say that everyone who finally gets it about climate change has an "Oh, shit" moment--an instant when the full scientific implications become clear and they suddenly realize what a horrifically dangerous situation humanity has created for itself.


Schellnhuber and his WBGU colleagues go a giant step beyond the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN body whose scientific reports are constrained because the world's governments must approve their contents. The IPCC says that rich industrial countries must cut emissions 25 to 40 percent by 2020 (from 1990 levels) if the world is to have a fair chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. By contrast, the WBGU study says the United States must cut emissions 100 percent by 2020--i.e., quit carbon entirely within ten years. Germany, Italy and other industrial nations must do the same by 2025 to 2030. China only has until 2035, and the world as a whole must be carbon-free by 2050. The study adds that big polluters can delay their day of reckoning by "buying" emissions rights from developing countries, a step the study estimates would extend some countries' deadlines by a decade or so.

Needless to say, this timetable is light-years more demanding than what the world's major governments are talking about in the run-up to Copenhagen. The European Union has pledged 20 percent reductions by 2020, which it will increase to 30 percent if others--like the United States--do the same. Japan's new prime minister likewise has promised 25 percent reductions by 2020 if others do the same. Obama didn't mention a number, but the Waxman-Markey bill, which he supports, would deliver less than 5 percent reductions by 2020. Obama's silence--doubtless a function of the fact that Republicans are implacably opposed to serious emissions cuts--allowed Hu to claim the higher ground at the UN. Hu went further than any Chinese leader has before, pledging to curb greenhouse gas emissions growth by a "notable margin" by 2020. Obama dropped his own bombshell, however, urging that all G-20 governments phase out subsidies for fossil fuels. "The time we have to reverse this tide is running out," Obama declared. Alas, the WBGU study suggests that our time is in fact all but gone.

Obama, like other G-8 leaders, agreed in July to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial level at which human civilization developed. Schellnhuber, addressing the Santa Fe conference, joked that the G-8 leaders had agreed to the 2C limit "probably because they don't know what it means." In fact, even the "brutal" timeline of the WBGU study, Schellnhuber cautioned, would not guarantee staying within the 2C target. It would merely give humanity a two-out-of-three chance of doing so--"worse odds than Russian roulette," he wryly noted. "But it is the best we can do." To have a three-out-of-four chance, countries would have to quit carbon even sooner. Likewise, we could decide to wait another decade or so to halt all greenhouse emissions, but this lowers the odds of hitting the 2C target to fifty-fifty. "And what kind of precautionary principle is that?" (read more)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Geither, Loan Shark; Obama's Sellout

I'm frankly surprised no one has commented on this more than physical resemblance. Matt Taibbi's latest depressing investigative piece on Obama's economic team is now available here:
"Do you care at all about economic regulation?" I ask. "There was sort of a big economic collapse last year. Do you have any ideas about how that whole deal should be fixed?"

"We got to slow down on spending," she says. "We can't afford it."

"But what do we do about the rules governing Wall Street . . ."

She walks away. She doesn't give a fuck. People like Pat aren't aware of it, but they're the best friends Obama has. They hate him, sure, but they don't hate him for any reasons that make sense. When it comes down to it, most of them hate the president for all the usual reasons they hate "liberals" — because he uses big words, doesn't believe in hell and doesn't flip out at the sight of gay people holding hands. Additionally, of course, he's black, and wasn't born in America, and is married to a woman who secretly hates our country.

These are the kinds of voters whom Obama's gang of Wall Street advisers is counting on: idiots. People whose votes depend not on whether the party in power delivers them jobs or protects them from economic villains, but on what cultural markers the candidate flashes on TV. Finance reform has become to Obama what Iraq War coffins were to Bush: something to be tucked safely out of sight.

Around the same time that finance reform was being watered down in Congress at the behest of his Treasury secretary, Obama was making a pit stop to raise money from Wall Street. On October 20th, the president went to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York and addressed some 200 financiers and business moguls, each of whom paid the maximum allowable contribution of $30,400 to the Democratic Party. But an organizer of the event, Daniel Fass, announced in advance that support for the president might be lighter than expected — bailed-out firms like JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs were expected to contribute a meager $91,000 to the event — because bankers were tired of being lectured about their misdeeds.

"The investment community feels very put-upon," Fass explained. "They feel there is no reason why they shouldn't earn $1 million to $200 million a year, and they don't want to be held responsible for the global financial meltdown."

Which makes sense. Shit, who could blame the investment community for the meltdown? What kind of assholes are we to put any of this on them?

This is the kind of person who is working for the Obama administration, which makes it unsurprising that we're getting no real reform of the finance industry. There's no other way to say it: Barack Obama, a once-in-a-generation political talent whose graceful conquest of America's racial dragons en route to the White House inspired the entire world, has for some reason allowed his presidency to be hijacked by sniveling, low-rent shitheads. Instead of reining in Wall Street, Obama has allowed himself to be seduced by it, leaving even his erstwhile campaign adviser, ex-Fed chief Paul Volcker, concerned about a "moral hazard" creeping over his administration.

"The obvious danger is that with the passage of time, risk-taking will be encouraged and efforts at prudential restraint will be resisted," Volcker told Congress in September, expressing concerns about all the regulatory loopholes in Frank's bill. "Ultimately, the possibility of further crises — even greater crises — will increase."

What's most troubling is that we don't know if Obama has changed, or if the influence of Wall Street is simply a fundamental and ineradicable element of our electoral system. What we do know is that Barack Obama pulled a bait-and-switch on us. If it were any other politician, we wouldn't be surprised. Maybe it's our fault, for thinking he was different.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

most deliberately boring, despicably dishonest, triangulating Bush-lite speech ever

Obviously gamed to "win over" the Republicans in some way, but for what? Karl Rove and McCain are instantly supportive. And why not? They have nothing to lose by Obama's inevitable failure, and now Obama has rhetorically and symbolically legitimized the Bush paradigm, and the larger Project (For a New American Century). Yet as farce this time, his delivery and timing could not have been worse, politically. The only threat the Taliban poses is in making us look like a failed empire after 8 years of rendering them stronger–an effect this surge will almost certainly redouble.) Do they really think Pakistan will help capture Bin Laden? Depending on Pakistan seems an enormous gamble, assuming Obama's decided to reverse the neocon policy of letting Bin Laden get away (although admittedly killing one all-but-forgotten bogeyman might be spun as some kind of closure to allow America to finally start the mourning process). Meanwhile and more importantly, if anything is clear it is that the context of larger geopolitics remains unspeakable, not least of all because they cannot be "justified."

The applause from kid soldiers (many of them about to die for yet more master narrative propaganda-mantras, half-truths and outright lies) was glaringly tepid (though it helped wake up the third of them obviously dozing). Whatever political capital Obama gains by triangulating he loses instantly by having legitimized the idiocy of 30+ years of disastrous foreign policy and shifting the long-term frame of debate yet again further to the right. And after nearly a year of legitimizing 30 years of class warfare, with Goldman Sachs now running the country with still rising unemployment and no serious efforts to address climate change or health care in any manner even mildly uncomfortable to the habituated exponential greed of our largest monopolized corporations, we already know it won't be worth. Not to mention the glaring absence of anything resembling moderately serious or binding exit strategy: no end in sight.
But Digby is right. Progressives really have no right to feel betrayed.

Still what an awful speech and complete load of bullshit.

Update: Wednesday's Democracy Now show cuts through nearly all of it:

unintending self-parody only sad now

Monday, November 30, 2009

building with whole trees

Not exactly my style, but real pretty and interesting. Via Vitro Nasu who also has an amusing post on chairs.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"The Hamilton Project"

The truth about "New" Democrats these days, just so damn depressing (via).

Which is why those democrats beginning to buck the Bob Rubin/Wall Street/Obama administration circle need serious support, more now than ever. May the rift inside the party force Obama to enact some meaningful change despite his economic advisers and despite who he always was.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

$1 Million per soldier to Afghanistan

... but no real money for health care, or new jobs at home...not exactly "change we can believe in."

A documentary of recorded conversations and personal memories, especially worth watching right now. Meanwhile Polk's open letter to Obama seems to have fallen on deaf ears:
the cost in casualties may not rise to the level of Vietnam or even Iraq, but the financial cost is unlikely to be less. My hunch is that the real cost to the US economy will be $3 trillion to $6 trillion, calculating overall, not just Congressional appropriations. So the Afghan campaign could derail your plans for America, as Vietnam derailed Johnson's Great Society.

And Krugman and Baker scoff at the NYTimes, but Obama still doesn't seem capable of listening beyond his Wall Street advisers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Time for Geithner and Summers to be let go

Past time, of course. Still nice to see DeFazio and the Progressive Caucus showing signs of life!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Speak, Nabokov

From an excerpt of Ross Benjamin's forthcoming translation of Michael Maar's Speak, Nabokov (Verso), just published by n+1:

Laura is a far cry from the dark metaphysical cosmos into which Nabokov's great novels draw us. The sad truth is: dying is not fun. And to modify another of the master's maxims: Detail is almost always welcome. All the expansive elaborations on old age in Laura—involving flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, foot odor and prostate tumors—strike a downright grim, masochistic note. Nabokov, who once described his life as "fresh bread with country butter and Alpine honey," with Laura brings to mind Tolstoy's comparison of life to a tartine de merde, which one is obliged to eat slowly.

Ross relays, "The article includes a sneak peek at Nabokov's last, unfinished manuscript, The Original of Laura, on the eve of its controversial posthumous publication."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Speaking of climate legislation..."cap and trade" bullshit

The original video still available here:


But there's no getting around the fact that as the science of climate change grows more dire, the global political system seems increasingly unable to deal with that reality.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Questionable gains

Confess that I remain torn on the benefits of this "victory." Still the fight goes on:

A fight for what, exactly one may well ask...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Heath Shuler Joins the Real Traitors

Last night former lousy quarterback, fiscally irresponsible corporate lacky and fundamentalist chairperson Heath Shuler loudly proclaimed to his constituents: "I do not want my job next year," as he voted to poison an already pissed upon bill in a pathetic feint at attempted compromise and then proceeded to vote to kill it regardless.

Heath Shuler is no Democrat. Hell, big PhRMA even thought he would prefer to use the talking points they created for Republicans, and he did! The man clearly has no mind of his own, whatsoever. Thanks to him women's rights have been set back several decades. As Digby aptly puts it, for these hypocritical ideologues/pseudo-Democrats mandatory childbirth is apparently the only risk Blue Dogs want insurance companies to be forced to take.

The real traitors tonight (Yes on Stupak, No on HCR)

We had a total of 64 Democrats that voted "Yes" to the Stupak amendment, which added an unnecessary and excessive anti-abortion provision to the House healthcare bill that was passed tonight. However, there were a total of 23 Democrats that voted Yes on the Stupak amendment, and then followed that up with a "No" vote on the final healthcare bill vote. These 23 Democrats intentionally voted for the Stupak amendment to actively impair the Democrats' healthcare bill, something far worse than a simple "No" vote on the bill.

Jason Altmire (PA-4) 202-225-2565
Bobby Bright (AL-2) 202-225-2901
John Barrow (GA-12) 202-225-2823
John Boccieri (OH-16) 202-225-3876
Dan Boren (OK-2) 202-225-2701
Ben Chandler (KY-6) 202-225-4706
Travis Childers (MS-1) 202-225-4306
Artur Davis (AL-7) 202-225-2665
Lincoln Davis (TN-4) 202-225-6831
Bart Gordon (TN-6) 202-225-4231
Parker Griffith (AL-5) 202-225-4801
Tim Holden (PA-17) 202-225-5546
Jim Marshall (GA-8) 202-225-6531
Jim Matheson (UT-2) 202-225-3011
Mike McIntyre (NC-7) 202-225-2731
Charlie Melancon (LA-3) 202-225-4031
Collin Peterson (MN-7) 202-225-2165
Mike Ross (AR-4) 202-225-3772
Heath Shuler (NC-11) 202-225-6401
Ike Skelton (MO-4) 202-225-2876
John Tanner (TN-8) 202-225-4714
Gene Taylor (MS-4) 202-225-5772
Harry Teague (NM-2) 202-225-2365

Shuler was happy to ride the Obama swell to what is now a relatively safe seat in the North Carolina legislature, with over a million dollars still in his pocket. Progressives donated and worked hard to get him elected, and for what? Some say his vote is still needed on upcoming climate change legislation. But of course he'll support that weak-assed cap and trade/future speculative market shit; he's a big business/banker's man. I say his true colors have been shown and progressives have every right to put their money and their rhetoric toward making him feel as much pain as possible. As an active Blue Dog recruiter, Shuler has made it more than clear he thinks he can afford not to listen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Keeping up the pressure


That's the number to call every day for the next few weeks. I personally think the health care bill in the House is still worth supporting, although it could certainly be strengthened.

For instance, the prospect of a "public option" that quickly becomes nothing but expensive dumping ground is deeply disturbing for reasons both pragmatic and political. Call the teenagers working for your Representative and your Senator and demand that they work to make the public option stronger. (Your background music will be like the comic relief in a busy day for Blue Dogs who already helped insurance companies win big and are now desperately working to deny care to immigrants and women needing abortions. No wonder they no longer answer their phones).


[As currently conceived] the public option would barely make it into the list of top 10 US health insurers. And the opt-out provision could cut enrollment by another 20%(2) or more.

Remember: No other insurance companies will be told where and how they can compete -- only the "public option." How is that a "level playing field"? The end result is likely to be something called a public option, which is used primarily to placate progressives -- and which provides the political cover needed to force people to pay usurious private-insurance premiums. When this pseudo-public plan fails to deliver savings, reform opponents will use its failures as proof that public insurance doesn't work.

That would make the watered-down "public option" worse than no public option at all. One suggestion: Write or call your Representative and ask that they...restore the robust plan...and while you're on the phone, here are a few other things you might mention:

The Wyden "Free Choice" Amendment:
The President and other Democrats told the American people they would provide "all Americans" with the choice of a public option. Instead, they've artificially restricted access to it (while leaving private insurers free to pursue everyone). The Wyden Amendment will deliver what the Democrats promised, and will lower overall health costs.

The Kucinich Amendment
: The so-called Kucinich Amendment would have allowed states to opt out of the Federal system to create intrastate single-payer plans. It was approved by the Education and Labor Committee, but was stripped from the final House bill. The end result? The Senate says states can "opt out" of the public option, but the House says they can't opt out of the private system. That doesn't seem right.

Tolerable premiums and out-of-pocket costs
: It's hard to ask a family of four living on $88,000 to pay 12% of its income in premiums, yet still face $1,500-per-person copays and total possible costs of $10,000 per year. (That's better than the Senate version, however.) These provisions have to be made less onerous for working families. Health analysts used to employ a guideline that said 12% of family income should be the total expense for healthcare, or the "ceiling" on possible health costs, not - as this bill would have it - the floor or minimum cost.

No dumping or foul play
: Many of the insurance industry's bad behaviors are banned by the House bill (which, complaints aside, has many good features.) But there need to be stronger protections against subtle abuses designed to drive sick people out of private plans. These abuses might include planned provider shortages in needed specialties (e.g. oncology, high-risk neonatology), delays in claims payment, and obstructionist use of prior authorization program.

Make drug costs manageable: Jane Hamsher describes the perils faced by breast cancer patients, and those with other conditions that require expensive patented drugs. Many of Jane's concerns will be addressed by the bill's caps on out-of-pocket costs, and by the elimination of lifetime maximums. But more should be done to ensure that drugs are made generic as quickly as possible, and to restrict the insurance industry practice of labeling them "experimental" and refusing to cover them.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/time-to-kill-the-pseudo-p_b_342370.html and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-geyman/no-health-care-bill-is-be_b_346450.html.

350.org, or something

At least they are trying to do something about raising awareness so that enough people can eventually threaten those few people with actual power to debate actually doing something inevitably half-assed and hopelessly compromised or lose some of their politician's perks about this so then near the end some corrupt Joe Lieberman can stand up and vainly bluff his intentions to fuck it all up while shamelessly lying through his teeth. By that time it will have been two decades late anyway so, so much for grandchildren...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chamber of Commerce

God Bless the Chamber of Commerce. More here and here. That's the flat-earth global warming-denying, Glenn Beck-and-HMO-loving, members resigning in protest right and left Chamber of Commerce.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stop the Presses

I just discovered, by accident really (I called because I missed talking to them), that Credo Mobile is offering a new cell phone plan so ridiculously good it really is a crying shame they can't seem to buy ads anywhere but The Nation Magazine. How about a World Series stretch, for example? One can only imagine they see their money better spent donated to progressive causes.

Anyway, I now get 1,000 minutes and 1,000 texts a month for $49.99. Permanently, with no hidden fees.

So you can suck it, anti-environmentalist and neoconservative-ass-licking Verizon and AT&T.

Just a reminder to those still thinking they are "stuck" supporting Republicans instead of Doctors Without Borders or the ACLU with their cell phone money (Credo donates tens of millions to exceptionally worthy progressive causes, based on democratic customer voting): Credo will not only pay your early termination penalties up to $200/person but will also give me $100 just for referring you, which I will split with anyone 50-50, absolute promise (already completed several times). Just mention my code: BVMGN or email for my phone number.

Their phones are great. Intelligent people work their customer service. Their network is just as good as Verizon's. Even if you don't feel like splitting $100 with me, there's really no reason not to switch, even if you're on a family plan. Credo's just a good deal all around. It seriously baffles me how many people are complacent in not doing the right thing when they make it so damn easy.

This American Life

Great and timely show on the health insurance industry. Must listen.

President Snowe

Reid has the votes in the Senate but Obama's still willing to trash the public option just to get one sole Republican's completely unnecessary vote? Come on, man. Sometimes you just have to piss a few random people off to get something meaningful done. What's up with these "democrats?"

Follow first link to sign the emergency petition, today.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

spalted maple floating shelves


Hill Aides: More Senators Would Back Public Option If Obama Actually Pushed For It

...You think!?
"There is a clear sense that it would be helpful," said one senior Democratic aide. "Throughout this entire debate the White House line has been 'We will weigh in when it is necessary'.... Well now we need 60 votes. So if it's not necessary now, then when will it be?"

"That gentleman, I assure you, does not have any business cards!"

A genuine civil rights movement is brewing in America again...It's a strong and genuine public option or bust. So get out and do something in your area now!

(via today's show, witness there the Yes Men absolutely brilliant, sending up the flat earth Chamber of Commerce).

"...that if literature stays away from evil

...it soon becomes boring." -Bataille, on television...(via Scott McLemee, um, on Facebook).

ps. Everything you ever wanted to know about the word, "fuck," also courtesy of McLemee.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Art in the Park

Again this Saturday, all day in Pack Square. Visitors and hecklers welcome.

Update: So I nearly sold out, two weekends in a row...Perhaps I should do more of these!

A couple larger counter top and kitchen island projects may keep me busy through the winter, but still taking requests for custom small projects, blocks and table tops and shelves, as always...

Pelosi appears to be listening

Bravo, Speaker. Perhaps there is some hope yet.

Even conservative-enabler Harry Reid is beginning to utter half-truths. Update: If you have money to throw around, why not help pressure him where he feels it now. Surely he is positioning himself once again to earn the distrust and disgust of progressives everywhere.

Obama and President Snowe remain the only meaningful conservative opposition left to real reform, (along with Baucus and Rahm of course, and the entire ruling financial elite).

Otherwise we'll pretty much be left with what we've got:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

only ten years to end carbon emissions, entirely

Mark Hertsgaard in The Nation:

They say that everyone who finally gets it about climate change has an "Oh, shit" moment....

Schellnhuber and his WBGU colleagues go a giant step beyond the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN body whose scientific reports are constrained because the world's governments must approve their contents. The IPCC says that rich industrial countries must cut emissions 25 to 40 percent by 2020 (from 1990 levels) if the world is to have a fair chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. By contrast, the WBGU study says the United States must cut emissions 100 percent by 2020--i.e., quit carbon entirely within ten years. Germany, Italy and other industrial nations must do the same by 2025 to 2030. China only has until 2035, and the world as a whole must be carbon-free by 2050....

Obama, like other G-8 leaders, agreed in July to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial level at which human civilization developed. Schellnhuber, addressing the Santa Fe conference, joked that the G-8 leaders had agreed to the 2C limit "probably because they don't know what it means." In fact, even the "brutal" timeline of the WBGU study, Schellnhuber cautioned, would not guarantee staying within the 2C target. It would merely give humanity a two-out-of-three chance of doing so--"worse odds than Russian roulette," he wryly noted. "But it is the best we can do." To have a three-out-of-four chance, countries would have to quit carbon even sooner. Likewise, we could decide to wait another decade or so to halt all greenhouse emissions, but this lowers the odds of hitting the 2C target to fifty-fifty. "And what kind of precautionary principle is that?" Schellnhuber asked....

"I myself was terrified when I saw these numbers," Schellnhuber said. He urges governments to agree in Copenhagen to launch "a Green Apollo Project." Like John Kennedy's pledge to land a man on the moon in ten years, a global Green Apollo Project would aim to put leading economies on a trajectory of zero carbon emissions within ten years. Combined with carbon trading with low-emissions countries, Schellnhuber says, such a "wartime mobilization" might still save us from the worst impacts of climate change.

CNN "leaves it there"

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
CNN Leaves It There
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Monday, October 12, 2009


Bill McKibben: Earth to Obama: (via)
In the summer of 2007, sea ice in the Arctic began to melt dramatically, many decades ahead of the schedule that scientists had previously predicted. Before the summer was out, there was about a quarter less ice at the pole than ever before in human history. That scared scientists, who began revising their calculations of how fast we would need to move to stay ahead of global warming. And this growing understanding has, in turn, changed the political demands on policymakers very dramatically. Obama, for instance, had initially campaigned on a pledge to reduce U.S. carbon emissions 80 percent by mid-century, and the Waxman-Markey legislation was designed to, more or less, meet that goal. All of a sudden, that target didn't seem like enough to meet the demands of the new science--researchers were now throwing around numbers like 40 percent cuts by 2020 in the developed world, which would require not a speedy conversion to renewable energy, but a forced march reminiscent of the rapid buildup at the start of World War II. On a global scale, the old goal--still embraced by the Obama administration--was to aim for a planet where atmospheric carbon dioxide topped out at 450 parts per million (ppm), and the temperature didn't rise more than two degrees Celsius. Under the old estimates, that would have been enough to stave off "catastrophic change." But what 2007 showed was that our current level of 390 ppm and a one-degree rise in temperature was enough to melt the Arctic. And it wasn't just the Arctic--scientists were reporting that high-altitude glaciers, flood and drought cycles, and even the chemistry of seawater were all showing the same kind of ahead-of-schedule change. In January of 2008, NASA's James Hansen--at the very least, the most prestigious climatologist employed by the U.S. government--released a paper setting a new target for staving off catastrophe: 350 ppm. It was embraced that year by Al Gore and, this August, by the chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri. That is, the two men who have been awarded Nobel prizes for their work on global warming say that we need to be aiming for far lower emission levels than what Washington currently intends.

So here's the politics. In Washington, and in Copenhagen, political realism dictates reaching some kind of deal. And the pressure from vested interests--mostly the fossil-fuel lobby--combined with the political fear of annoying voters with higher gas prices or lifestyle shifts means that the incentive for anyone who has to run for office anytime soon is to take the easiest possible deal. Look at Waxman-Markey, which has been revised to cut emissions just 17 percent by 2020--and even that comes loaded with loopholes written to win over particular congressmen with particular coal mines. And it barely passed--by seven votes. Scientific realism demands much more.


The best case for swallowing hard and accepting an insufficient bill comes from Fred Krupp, longtime head of the Environmental Defense Fund. His argument: Our emissions reduction goals are critically important, but the most important thing is to get started now. If we set the ball in motion, industry will quickly find that it's cheaper than it thinks to move toward clean energy, and the ball will roll far faster than politicians expect. Case in point: the reductions of sulfur dioxide under the Clean Air Act, which turned out to be far cheaper than opponents had predicted--even Bush 43 kept right on pushing for deeper cuts, because there was no real reason not to.


Eighty-nine governments have embraced the 350 ppm target, albeit the smallest and most vulnerable nations on earth. A number of them see it as matter of survival--I was in The Maldives recently when President Mohammed Nasheed declared that a pact like the one envisioned by the West was a "death warrant" for his nation, which lies just a meter or two above sea level. Not only are the poor nations of the world demanding compensation for the damage we've caused, and expensive technical assistance to help them build a renewable energy future ("Trillions of dollars might not be enough" for Africa alone, the acting director of the African Union's economy and agriculture department said in August), but they're also asking for truly steep cuts in Western emissions to head off warming so great that they won't be capable of adaptation at any price. Governments will try to finesse these huge gulfs.


And, even if [Obama] does make [saving millions of lives from climate change] a priority, there's still the question of how hard he will push--whether he'll be talking old science (450 ppm) or the new, harder targets (350 ppm)


Alas, there will be no political imperative driving him to push for the toughest measures. He's already done more on global warming than the previous four presidents combined. He's not going to lose large numbers of votes for going easy on climate targets; if anything, the opposite will happen.

On the other hand, there are legacies, and then there are legacies. If, as many scientists believe, we're at the last possible moment to make a major turn, then Obama's decision may resonate in geological time. Eight months has been enough to teach us that Obama is a political realist, always unwilling to make the perfect the enemy of the good. What we'll find out soon is if he's a scientific realist, too, and therefore willing to make the necessary the enemy of the convenient.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

i say let him run with it

what an odd man. He's right about the rhetorical ugliness of "public option" though, a term seemingly designed solely to appeal to the insurance companies as benign/non-threatening instead of inspiring the population. As if the insurance companies wouldn't see through anything designed to limit future criminal profits. Maybe it's not possible to have an FDR in the oval office anymore; as a country we still miss him in a lot of ways.

Good luck, though.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Forget Palin, it's Pelosi

...the left feminist commentators/philosophers should be examining and eviscerating. As in, you know, someone with actual power...?!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

plutonomy: a sad story

Just returned from the theatre, where we teared up watching footage of Roosevelt promo his "second bill of rights" and realizing in general what this country could have been, were it not for Ronald Reagan and his corporate puppet masters. Those two strikingly honest "plutonomy memos" are here (pdf) and here (pdf) and worth the read (thanks).

Matt Taibbi addresses the inevitable flack. Pilots on food stamps is truly disturbing.



Saturday, October 03, 2009

the shoe

Of yore speaketh...

final push for something decent?

Shorter Kos:
So, Harkin..."Will it be a robust public option, or some piece of crap?"

"President Snowe," indeed. Don't try or anything until you've got a second term, ok Saint Obama? We'll enjoy making the rich richer or paying the penalties for a little while, yet.


Time to let the real heroes know that we stand with them.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Democratic Super Majority
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview


Oh, but at least journalism remains alive and well.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The brief window of actual debate opening slowly (and about to slam shut)

Posting as someone about 1/4" of an inch away from making his family bankrupt roughly 200 times every day, because he doesn't have/cannot afford decent health coverage...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

getting disappointed by someone new...

• Whose team seems to have decided mid-term elections more important than say, people dying for lack of US "health" care, or in Afghanistan.

G20: Much Ado About Almost Nothing

Obama will close Gitmo by 1961

• Court wakes up to find mortgage market was a giant criminal enterprise.

Leniency for Polanski

Robert Reich sez:

In other words, the Dow is up despite the biggest consumer retreat from the market since the Great Depression because of the very thing so many executives are complaining about, which is government’s expansion. And regardless of what you call it – Keynesianism, socialism, or just pragmatism – it’s doing wonders for business, especially big business and Wall Street. Consumer spending is falling back to 60 to 65 percent of the economy, as government spending expands to fill the gap.

The problem is, our newly expanded government isn't doing much for average working Americans who continue to lose their jobs and whose belts continue to tighten, and who are getting almost nothing out of the rising Dow because they own few if any shares of stock. Despite the happy Dow and notwithstanding the upbeat corporate earnings, most corporations are still shedding workers and slashing payrolls. And the big banks still aren't lending to Main Street.

Trickle-down economics didn't work when the supply-siders were in charge. And it's not working now, at a time when -- despite all their cries of "socialism" -- big business and Wall Street are more politically potent than ever.

(Or, Look Ma, I can read the Huffington Post.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I have committed to taking part in this festival, October 10th. Wish me luck.

Monday, September 14, 2009

the reality that democrats are in fact ideological cowards, their principles mostly worthless

Some comments on Taibii's health care article here. For the record I agree with Dave and share Jodi's cynicism.

The depressing article itself seems essential reading in its entirety:

"It's a dirty deal[...]" "The administration told them, 'Single-payer is off the table. In exchange, we want you on board.'" In August, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America announced that the industry would contribute an estimated $150 million to campaign for Obamacare.[...]

For a while, the public option looked like it might have a real chance at passing. In the House, both the ways and means committee and the labor committee passed draft bills that contained a genuine public option. But then conservative opponents of the plan, the so-called Blue Dog Democrats, mounted their counterattack. A powerful bloc composed primarily of drawling Southerners in ill-fitting suits, the Blue Dogs — a gang of puffed-up political mulattos hired by the DNC to pass as almost-Republicans in red-state battlegrounds — present themselves as a quasi-religious order, worshipping at the sacred altar of "fiscal responsibility" and "deficit reduction." On July 9th, in a harmless-sounding letter to Pelosi, 40 Blue Dogs expressed concern that doctors in the public option "must be fairly reimbursed at negotiated rates, and their participation must be voluntary." Paying doctors "using Medicare's below-market rates," they added, "would seriously weaken the financial stability of our local hospitals."

The letter was an amazing end run around the political problem posed by the public option — i.e., its unassailable status as a more efficient and cheaper health care alternative. The Blue Dogs were demanding that the very thing that makes the public option work — curbing costs to taxpayers by reimbursing doctors at Medicare rates plus five percent — be scrapped. Instead, the Blue Dogs wanted compensation rates for doctors to be jacked up, on the government's tab. The very Democrats who make a point of boasting about their unwavering commitment to fiscal conservatism were lobbying, in essence, for a big fat piece of government pork for doctors. "Cost should be the number-one concern to the Blue Dogs," grouses Rep. Woolsey. "That's why they're Blue Dogs."

In the end, the Blue Dogs won. When the House commerce committee passed its bill, the public option no longer paid Medicare-plus-five-percent. Instead, it required the government to negotiate rates with providers, ensuring that costs would be dramatically higher. According to one Democratic aide, the concession would bump the price of the public option by $1,800 a year for the average family of four.

In one fell swoop, the public plan went from being significantly cheaper than private insurance to costing, well, "about the same as what we have now,"
as one Senate aide puts it. This was the worst of both worlds, the kind of take-the-fork-in-the-road nonsolution that has been the peculiar specialty of Democrats ever since Bill Clinton invented a new way to smoke weed. The party could now sell voters on the idea that it was offering a "public option" without technically lying, while at the same time reassuring health care providers that the public option it was passing would not imperil the industry's market share.[...]

For those looking to fuck up health care reform — or to load it up with goodies for their rich pals — the tedium actually serves a broader purpose. Given that five different committees are weighing five different and often competing paths to reform, it's not surprising that all sorts of bizarre crap winds up buried in their bills, stuff no one could possibly have expected to be in there. The most glaring example, passed by Ted Kennedy's HELP committee, would allow the makers of complex drugs known as "biologics" to keep their formulas from being copied by rivals for 12 years — twice as long as the protection for ordinary pharmaceuticals.


If the HELP committee's grandfather clause survives to the final bill, those workers who did the sensible thing in rejecting Walmart's crap employer plan and taking the comparatively awesome insurance offered via Medicaid will now be rebuffed by the state and forced to take the dogshit Walmart offering.

This works out well for the states, who will get to purge all those Walmart workers from their Medicaid rolls. It also works great for Walmart, since any new competitors who appear on the horizon will be forced to offer genuine and more expensive health insurance — giving Walmart a clear competitive advantage. This little "glitch" is the essence of the health care reform effort: It changes things in a way that works for everyone except actual sick people.

Veteran legislators speak of this horrific loophole as if it were an accident — something that just sort of happened, while no one was looking.


Like Sanders, who hopes to correct the committee's giveaway to drugmakers, Wyden won't get a real shot at having an impact until the House and Senate meet to hammer out differences between their final bills. In a legislative sense, the bad ideas are already in the barn, and the solutions are fenced off in the fields, hoping to get in.


One of the reasons for this chaos was the bizarre decision by the administration to provide absolutely no real oversight of the reform effort. From the start, Obama acted like a man still running for president, not someone already sitting in the White House, armed with 60 seats in the Senate. He spoke in generalities, offering as "guiding principles" the kind of I'm-for-puppies-and-sunshine platitudes we got used to on the campaign trail[...]

This White House makes a serial vacillator like Bill Clinton look like Patton crossing the Rhine. Veterans from the Clinton White House, in fact, jumped on Obama. "The president may have overlearned the lesson of the Clinton health care plan fiasco, which was: Don't deliver a package to the Hill, let the Hill take ownership," said Robert Reich, who served as labor secretary under Clinton. There were now so many competing ideas about how to pay for the plan and what kind of mandates to include that even after the five bills are completed, Congress will not be much closer to reform than it was at the beginning. "The president has got to go in there and give it coherence," Reich concluded.

But Reich's comment assumes that Obama wants to give the bill coherence. In many ways, the lily-livered method that Obama chose to push health care into being is a crystal-clear example of how the Democratic Party likes to act — showering a real problem with a blizzard of ineffectual decisions and verbose nonsense, then stepping aside at the last minute to reveal the true plan that all along was being forged off-camera in the furnace of moneyed interests and insider inertia. While the White House publicly eschewed any concrete "guiding principles," the People Who Mattered, it appeared, had already long ago settled on theirs. Those principles seem to have been: no single-payer system, no meaningful public option, no meaningful employer mandates and a very meaningful mandate for individual consumers. In other words, the only major reform with teeth would be the one forcing everyone to buy some form of private insurance, no matter how crappy, or suffer a tax penalty. If the public option is the sine qua non for progressives, then the "individual mandate" is the counterpart must-have requirement for the insurance industry...

If things go the way it looks like they will, health care reform will simply force great numbers of new people to buy or keep insurance of a type that has already been proved not to work. "The IRS and the government will force people to buy a defective product," says Woolhandler. "We know it's defective because three-quarters of all people who file for bankruptcy because of medical reasons have insurance when they get sick — and they're bankrupted anyway."


So what's left? Well, the bills do keep alive the so-called employer mandate, requiring companies to provide insurance to their employees. A good idea — except that the Blue Dogs managed to exempt employers with annual payrolls below $500,000, meaning that 87 percent of all businesses will be allowed to opt out of the best and toughest reform measure left. Thanks to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, we can now be assured that the 19 or 20 employers in America with payrolls above $500,000 who do not already provide insurance will be required to offer good solid health coverage. Hurray!

Or will they? At the end of July, word leaked out that the Senate Finance Committee, in addition to likely spiking the public option, had also decided to ditch the employer mandate.


The much-ballyhooed right-wing scare campaign, with its teabagger holdovers ridiculously disrupting town-hall meetings with their belligerent protests and their stoneheaded memes (the sign raised at a town hall held by Rep. Rick Larson of Washington — keep the guvmint out of my medicare — is destined to become a classic of conservative propaganda), has proved to be almost totally irrelevant to the entire enterprise. Aside from lowering even further the general level of civility (teabaggers urged Sen. Chris Dodd to off himself with painkillers; Rep. Brad Miller had his life threatened), the Limbaugh minions have accomplished nothing at all, except to look like morons for protesting as creeping socialism a reform effort designed specifically to change as little as possible and to preserve at all costs our malfunctioning system of private health care.

All that's left of health care reform is a collection of piece-of-shit, weakling proposals that are preposterously expensive and contain almost nothing meaningful — and that set of proposals, meanwhile, is being negotiated down even further by the endlessly negating Group of Six. It is a fight to the finish now between Really Bad and Even Worse. And it's virtually guaranteed to sour the public on reform efforts for years to come.

From Matt Taibbi's article here.

Update: Obama hears the music but will he dance...

Update II: The deal Obama denied striking with Big Pharma is clearly evident, point for point, in the long-awaiting Baucus bill.

All of which is not to say there aren't still some principles worth fighting to keep alive, despite the process. Even if they're just a cautious, very modest starting point and do very little to address the major issues.

This country has been fucked since Reagan, and Clinton's "third way" geneticist/market solution has been nothing but disaster.