Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Can Microgrids Bring Low-Carbon Power to Tens of Millions of People?

By David Ferris

Powered by solar panels and biomass, microgrids are spreading slowly across India, where 300 million people live without electricity.  

January 21, 2014  |  Bharath Kumar was furious that the lights went out an hour early. His candy-making operation in the village of Tamkuha, in northern India, had been plunged into darkness at mid-batch, forcing him to use a weak, battery-powered lantern to manage his boiling pots.

"If I knew that the power would be shut off an hour earlier, I would not have mixed the sugar in the flour," he fumed. "This is not the first time. I will keep a record of when the power is switched off every night and show this when they come for collections."

Virginia Tech researcher develops energy-dense sugar battery

'Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature,' Y.H. Percival Zhang said. 'So it's only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.'

A Virginia Tech research team has developed a battery that runs on sugar and has an unmatched energy density, a development that could replace conventional batteries with ones that are cheaper, refillable, and biodegradable.

The findings from Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, were published today in the journal Nature Communications.

Selective outrage over federal health care costs

Commentary: Republicans feign outrage over Obamacare's risk fund for insurers, but have nothing to say about waste in Medicare Advantage 

By Wendell Potter, 6:00 am, January 20, 2014 Updated: 10:52 am, January 21, 2014

Knowing I’ve been both a critic of insurance company practices and a supporter of efforts to reform the industry, a FOX news producer reached out last week to get my take on accusations by conservatives that Obamacare will actually result in a bailout of big insurance companies.

Under the headline, “Bailing Out Health Insurers and Helping Obamacare,” The Weekly Standard on Monday urged Republicans to insist that future debt ceiling increases contain a no-bailout provision. The magazine also cited Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., bill to repeal a provision of the Affordable Care Act designed to limit potential initial losses of insurers selling policies on the new health insurance exchanges.

Dean Baker | The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Warnings From NAFTA

With the New Year the corporate lobbyists and the Obama administration are stepping up their drive for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the new trade deal being negotiated in secret by the United States and eleven countries in the Pacific region. The key at the moment is Congressional approval of fast-track authority. This would give any agreement a straight up or down vote on an accelerated timetable.

Fast-track authority would virtually guarantee passage since members would face intense pressure from corporate contributors and the media, in both the news and opinion sections, to support the deal. Failure to support a deal would mean that a member would be labeled a protectionist Neanderthal (name-calling is standard fare in Washington when pushing for trade deals) in addition to being badly under-funded in their re-election campaign.

A housing relief program with policies that 'throw people into the grinder'

One of the biggest housing relief programs under the Obama administration has failed desperate homeowners in huge ways

David Dayen, Sunday 19 January 2014 08.00 EST

Amal and Rizkalla Kamel survived the housing crisis and the recession with their home and finances intact; their personal collapse wouldn’t come until 2012.

That winter, Amal suffered two heart attacks in two months, drastically reducing his ability to work. At the same time, Rizkalla lost her job at a gas station. Then everything really started falling apart. A year later, the family found themselves $36,000 in debt, spending what money they had on a lawyer they hired to help them avoid losing their home. They filed motions against their bank, but they had another nemesis too: the Kamels were in court battling the very government relief agency that they had turned to in hopes it would save them from their mortgage troubles.

Thievery: How Congress Keeps Stealing From Our Retirement Benefits and Social Safety Net

By Steven Rosenfeld

As the House and Senate passed its $1.012 trillion 2014 budget last week [3], veterans were blindsided when they learned that Congress had cut cost-of-living increases for retiree pensions by 1 percent. A master sergeant who served 20 years could lose $80,000 in his lifetime, said Col. Mike Barron of the Military Officers Association of America.

The cuts will affect 1.1 million retirees, 400,000 of whom retired after 9/11, and save an estimated $6 billion. “It’s deferred compensation,” Barron said. “You are changing the rules of the game in the middle of the game. It’s very unfair. It’s a clear breach of faith with us.”

Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, It's About Blackmail, Not National Security

Posted by Alfred McCoy at 4:53pm, January 19, 2014.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

Spying has a history almost as ancient as humanity itself, but every now and then the rules of the game change.  This post-9/11 moment of surveillance is one of those game-changers and the National Security Agency (NSA) has been the deal-breaker and rule-maker.  The new rules it brought into existence are simple enough: you -- whoever you are and wherever you live on Planet Earth -- are a potential target.  Get used to it.  The most basic ground rule of the new system: no one is exempt from surveillance.

But then there’s human nature to take into account.  There’s the feeling of invulnerability that the powerful often have.  If you need an example, look no further than what key officials around New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were willing to commit to emails, even in this day and age, when it came to their scheme to tie up traffic on the George Washington Bridge.  Something similar has been true of the system NSA officials set up.  Its rules of the road were that no one was to be exempt from surveillance. (Call me Angela Merkel.)  They then plunged their creation into the deepest secrecy, in part because they couldn’t imagine a world without at least one categorical exemption: themselves.

Dark Affinities: Liberal and Neoliberal

Monday, 20 January 2014 10:37  
By Joseph Natoli, Truthout | Op-Ed 

Each society determines which thoughts and feelings shall be permitted to arrive at the level of awareness and which have to remain unconscious. Just as there is a social character, there is also a "social unconscious."
- Eric Fromm
Newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio's "tale of two cities," referring to the wealth divide in New York, sounds nicely Dickensian, but the "boots on the ground" reality is not divided so clearly. Roughly speaking, the bottom 40 percent of Americans are what Dickens' Noddy Boffin called "scrunched" while a top 20 percent, if we follow the counsel here of "Scrunch or be scrunched," are doing the scrunching. A middle 40 percent, are, as Gradgrind facts show, decidedly more of the scrunched class than the scrunching class, although their confusions, misrecognitions and dreams of former well-being render them as liable to identify with the scrunchers as with their fellow scrunched.

So, we have some 80 percent of the American population in need of legislative action that 20 percent of the population either does not require or requires precisely the opposite. The numbers are on the side of Have Less Each Day and Have Nothing at All and not on the side of the Have Mores. However, the top 20 percent are holding positions of power, while the 80 percent are fractured, disillusioned, disinterested, confused and pliable. So our expectations of victory by overwhelming numbers fade.

The Global Elite: Rigging the Rules That Fuel Inequality

New report from Oxfam states that 85 of the world's richest people own the wealth of half of the world’s population.

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer 
The global elite have rigged the rules so that "economic growth looks more like a winner-take-all system" that undermines democracy and threatens future generations with a "cascade of privilege and disadvantage," a new report from Oxfam states.

The report, Working for the Few: Political capture and economic inequality, states that just 85 of the world's richest people own the wealth of half of the world’s population. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Randy Wray: The Greatest Myth Propagated About The FED: Central Bank Independence (Part 3)

Posted on by Lambert Strether
By L. Randall Wray, Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Research Director with the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability and Senior Research Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute. Originally posted at New Economic Perspectives

Coda: Is the Fed Independent of Influence?

In my two part series (here and here), I examined conventional views of (mostly) economists on the Fed’s supposed independence. What they focus on is the Fed’s independence from our elected representatives and as well on operational independence of the Treasury. The reason why they believe this is important is because the Fed is supposed to protect us—we can identify us as “money users”—from the danger that the “government” (Congress and Treasury), our “money issuers”, might conspire to degrade our currency by having the Fed “print money” to finance a profligate government. These “Weimar Worriers” are just certain that if a cabal of central bank, treasury and congress had their way, we’d be off and running to hyperinflation. Hence, thank god that our central bank is independent! Any meddling by Congress (or the Treasury) in the affairs of monetary policy making would be the final death knell for our Dollar.

Brian Beutler: GOP’s next moral disgrace?: How right-wing crazies may kill a voting rights fix

With a new vote to expand the Voting Rights Act looming, we're about to learn just how cynical this party really is

The 2012 elections were supposed to create the political space Republicans needed to make their agenda more welcoming to growing Democratic constituencies, but instead it pushed conservatives into a deeper defensive crouch, from which they intimidated GOP leaders into squandering just about every opportunity they’ve had to broaden the party’s appeal.

In some cases, GOP leaders themselves have been reluctant to support the kinds of social and economic policies that might stanch the demographic bleeding that threatens to cost them the White House for another four or eight years.

Governments warned: Robots may take half our jobs in 20 years, so prepare for revolution

By Travis Gettys
Friday, January 17, 2014 10:44 EST

Nearly half of today’s jobs could be automated within the next two decades, according to one recent study, and no one seems to be prepared for what that will mean for society.

The digital revolution, just as the industrial revolution before it, is increasing productivity but also transforming the workforce – putting workers out of some jobs and into others.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as many of the newly created jobs are higher-paying or less physically demanding, but rapidly changing economies dislocates many workers and transforms societies in unpredictable ways.

The TPP – The More We Know, The Worse It Gets.

We already knew that the Trans Pacific Partnership is a threat to our jobs, our civil rights, and our national sovereignty, and now we know it’s also a danger to our environment.  On Wednesday, Wikileaks published a leaked version of the environmental chapter of the TPP, and it’s just another example of putting corporate power ahead of public interest.  In their review of this chapter, Wikileaks said that the section is “a toothless public relations exercise” that lacks “mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures.”

Because mega-corporations took part in negotiating the deal, the purpose of environmental chapter is first and foremost to protect trade, not our environment.  It relies on so-called corporate accountability, and emphasizes “flexible, voluntary mechanisms, such as voluntary auditing and reporting, market-based incentives, voluntary sharing of information and expertise.”  Because – you know – corporate self-regulation has worked out so well for us in the past.  This chapter does nothing to mandate that our environment is protected from the destructive nature of corporate greed, and nothing to punish trading partners or corporations who violate environmental standards.

The Special Ops Surge: America's Secret War in 134 Countries

Thursday, 16 January 2014 10:38  
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch | News Analysis 

They operate in the green glow of night vision in Southwest Asia and stalk through the jungles of South America.  They snatch men from their homes in the Maghreb and shoot it out with heavily armed militants in the Horn of Africa.  They feel the salty spray while skimming over the tops of waves from the turquoise Caribbean to the deep blue Pacific.  They conduct missions in the oppressive heat of Middle Eastern deserts and the deep freeze of Scandinavia.  All over the planet, the Obama administration is waging a secret war whose full extent has never been fully revealed -- until now.

Since September 11, 2001, U.S. Special Operations forces have grown in every conceivable way, from their numbers to their budget.  Most telling, however, has been the exponential rise in special ops deployments globally.  This presence -- now, in nearly 70% of the world’s nations -- provides new evidence of the size and scope of a secret war being waged from Latin America to the backlands of Afghanistan, from training missions with African allies to information operations launched in cyberspace.

Researchers find method to store solar power

The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) January 15, 2014 

— A team of North Carolina researchers has discovered a potential solution to one of the fundamental problems of generating large amounts of energy from the sun's rays: how to store some of the power so it's available at night.

The scientists found a new way to use solar energy to split molecules of water into its atomic-level components: oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be burned for fuel, generating only water as waste, which can then be recycled to be split again.

The hydrogen could be created and used by infrastructure similar to generators and solar arrays that are already familiar, said Tom Meyer, who led the research and is director of the federally funded Energy Frontier Research Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Read more here:

Richard Eskow: For the GOP, An Abyss Instead of Genuine Economic Ideas

When you look too long into the Abyss, said Nietzsche, the Abyss looks into you. “And,” adds comedian Brother Theodore, “neither one of us likes what we see.”

That’s what the economic pronouncements of Republican politicians are like nowadays. Instead of a governing philosophy, all one sees is a yawning intellectual abyss. Their core ideas are so unpopular and discredited that party leaders only express them in passing. But, without them, the party is reduced to a set of rhetorical and ideological tics in search of a host organism.

New Memo: Kissinger Gave the "Green Light" for Argentina's Dirty War

By David Corn on Tue. January 14, 2014 12:23 PM PDT

Only a few months ago, Henry Kissinger was dancing with Stephen Colbert in a funny bit on the latter's Comedy Central show. But for years, the former secretary of state has sidestepped judgment for his complicity in horrific human rights abuses abroad, and a new memo has emerged that provides clear evidence that in 1976 Kissinger gave Argentina's neo-fascist military junta the "green light" for the dirty war it was conducting against civilian and militant leftists that resulted in the disappearance—that is, deaths—of an estimated 30,000 people.

The Net Neutrality Court Case Decoded

Tuesday's court ruling on Verizon v. FCC closed the door on the first era of the Internet. Below, we break down the details and answer the burning questions on everyone's mind. Read on to find out more about the case, what happened to Net Neutrality and where we go from here. 

What just happened?

On Jan. 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order in the case of Verizon v. FCC.
Translation: This court just killed Net Neutrality.
Internet service providers are now able to block any website or app they want. That means they can decide what you can do and where you can go online.

The Real Reason Evangelical Christians Are Trying to Thwart Women's Right to Birth Control

By Rob Shryock

In addition to Catholic institutions, evangelical organizations were also sounding the alarm bells. “Yet another untruth about Obamacare has been uncovered,” said Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, on July 20. “HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has recommended mandatory coverage for ‘emergency contraception,’ which is a euphemism for the morning-after pill, which often kills a newly conceived child by not allowing the embryo to implant on the wall of the mother’s womb.”

Land’s strong words mark the first major evangelical objection to the contraception mandate.

Leaked TPP 'Environment Chapter' Shows 'Corporate Agenda Wins'

US called main 'outlier' when it comes to strong protections; Leak comes as Obama tries to ram trade deal through Congress

- Jon Queally, staff writer

Confirming the suspicions and fears of environmental campaigners and concerned individuals across the globe, Wikileaks on Wednesday released a draft version of the 'Environment Chapter' from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), exposing most of the so-called "environmental protections" as toothless policies that serve to protect corporate profit not Mother Earth.

In its review of the chapter—which covers environmental issues related to trade, including climate change, biodiversity and fishing stocks; and trade and investment in 'environmental' goods and services—Wikileaks described the chapter as functioning like "a public relations exercise" and saying the text is most notable "for its absence of mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures."

Net Neutrality Takes a Big Hit in Court

—By Kevin Drum  | Tue Jan. 14, 2014 8:37 AM GMT

The long, grinding fight over net neutrality—the principle that everyone should have equal access to the internet—hit another speed bump today. But first, some background. Net neutrality was the de facto status quo until several years ago, when the Bush-era FCC decided to classify internet provision as an information service (IS) rather than a telecom service (TS). This mattered because telecom services had always been regulated as common carriers, which effectively required internet providers to treat everyone equally. Under the IS regime, the old common carrier requirements were replaced by four net neutrality "principles" that were considerably less stringent.

Paul Krugman: Scandinavian Struggles: Why So Dismal in Denmark?

I'm going to be visiting Scandinavia soon, so I'm doing preliminary homework - and for those who, like me, haven't been following the region closely, there have been some surprising developments. See the chart on this page on real gross domestic product, with the United States included to give some sense of comparison.

Barbara Ehrenreich: It Is Expensive to Be Poor

Minimum-wage jobs are physically demanding, have unpredictable schedules, and pay so meagerly that workers can't save up enough to move on. 

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson made a move that was unprecedented at the time and remains unmatched by succeeding administrations. He announced a War on Poverty, saying that its “chief weapons” would be “better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities.”

So starting in 1964 and for almost a decade, the federal government poured at least some of its resources in the direction they should have been going all along: toward those who were most in need. Longstanding programs like Head Start, Legal Services, and the Job Corps were created. Medicaid was established. Poverty among seniors was significantly reduced by improvements in Social Security.

The Case for Low Methane-Emitting Cattle

Jan. 10, 2014 — A new research project looks into the possibilities of adapting every aspect of cattle husbandry and selection processes to lower their greenhouse gas emissions.

You may think that climate change is being caused by burning oil, coal and gas. But not so fast! The emission of methane from cattle is a surprisingly important factor. Methane from cows -- a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide -- makes up 20% of greenhouse emissions from agriculture, or about 1% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases. That's according to Phil Garnsworthy, professor of dairy science at the University of Nottingham in the UK. He is also one of the project scientists of an EU-funded research project, called Ruminomics, which is using cutting-edge science to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cattle.

No, we don't spend $1 trillion on welfare each year

By Mike Konczal, Updated: January 12 at 11:41 am

If you’ve read any conservative commentary on the war on poverty in the past week, you’ve likely seen this talking point: “We spend $1 trillion each year on welfare and there’s been no reduction in poverty.” That’s crazy! Then, a sentence later, you’ll probably see a line like this: “It’s true. According to a recent report, we spend a trillion dollars on means-test programs each year, yet the official census numbers show no reduction in poverty.”

If you are reading that second line quickly, you probably think it bolsters the credibility of the first line. It’s an “official” number, and the census and the report probably quote accurate numbers too, night? They do, but the second sentence is actually used as an escape hatch to say something that isn’t true. We don’t spend anywhere near a trillion dollars on welfare unless you mangle the term “welfare” to be meaningless, and we do reduce poverty.

Paul Krugman: Republicans Obamacare Hypocrisy: A Mystery Solved

Ezra Klein, a columnist at The Washington Post, is puzzled (or at least says he is; I suspect he understands it perfectly) by Republican hypocrisy over health care. For many years the G.O.P. has advocated for things that are supposed to bring the magic of the marketplace and individual incentives to health care: higher deductibles to give people "skin in the game"; competition among private insurers via exchanges (competition that would include reducing costs by limiting networks); and, of course, for cuts in Medicare, the insurance program for older Americans.

Now the G.O.P. is complaining bitterly that some Affordable Health Care Act policies have high deductibles, that the law relies on the horror of insurance exchanges, that some networks are limited and that there will be cuts to Medicare.

Chris Hedges: The Trouble With Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been Wall Street’s anointed son for the presidency. He is backed by the most ruthless and corrupt figures in New Jersey politics, including the New Jersey multimillionaire and hard-line Democratic boss George Norcross III. Among his other supporters are many hedge fund managers and corporate executives and some of the nation’s most retrograde billionaires, including the Koch brothers. The brewing scandal over the closing of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge apparently in retaliation for the Fort Lee mayor’s refusal to support the governor’s 2013 re-election is a window into how federal agencies and the security and surveillance apparatus would be routinely employed in a Christie presidency to punish anyone who challenged this tiny cabal’s grip on power. 

Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot. He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth. He is gripped by a bottomless hedonism that includes a demand for private jets, huge entourages, exclusive hotels and lavish meals. Wall Street and the security and surveillance apparatus want a real son of a bitch in power, someone with the moral compass of Al Capone, in order to ruthlessly silence and crush those of us who are working to overthrow the corporate state. They have had enough of what they perceive to be Barack Obama’s softness. Christie fits the profile and he is drooling for the opportunity.

The depressing psychological theory that explains Washington

By Ezra Klein, January 10 at 11:33 am

Dylan Matthews's "Five conservative reforms millennials should be fighting for" isn't just an admirably intricate piece of trolling. It's a perfect illustration of why you can't take Washington's policy debates at face value. You can't understand what's happened to Congress in recent years if you don't understand what Matthews did in that piece.

A Point of View: Two cheers for human rights

When we hear reports of nightmarish atrocities being committed in Syria, it's easy to respond by thinking these horrors could be prevented if only the country had a government that respected human rights. We've come to believe rights are the answer to many of the world's ills. But rights aren't a cure for human conflict, and I think it's a mistake to treat them as an article of faith.

In an essay published in 1938, the novelist EM Forster gave two cheers for democracy: "One because it admits variety, and two because it permits criticism… Two cheers are quite enough," he wrote. "There is no occasion to give three." Forster thought that no political system - not even democracy - should be turned into an icon. What mattered, he thought, was that individuals should have the chance to live as best they can.

Paul Krugman: Enemies of the Poor 

Suddenly it’s O.K., even mandatory, for politicians with national ambitions to talk about helping the poor. This is easy for Democrats, who can go back to being the party of F.D.R. and L.B.J. It’s much more difficult for Republicans, who are having a hard time shaking their reputation for reverse Robin-Hoodism, for being the party that takes from the poor and gives to the rich.

And the reason that reputation is so hard to shake is that it’s justified. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that right now Republicans are doing all they can to hurt the poor, and they would have inflicted vast additional harm if they had won the 2012 election. Moreover, G.O.P. harshness toward the less fortunate isn’t just a matter of spite (although that’s part of it); it’s deeply rooted in the party’s ideology, which is why recent speeches by leading Republicans declaring that they do too care about the poor have been almost completely devoid of policy specifics.

Let’s start with the recent Republican track record.

How Big Money Keeps Populism at Bay

By Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, Jie Chen

Headlines in the major media proclaim that a wave of “populism” is building. Inequality and the minimum wage are suddenly front-burner [5] political issues. Cities like New York and Boston have just elected progressive mayors with strong ties to unions and are now being touted  as liberal laboratories [6] for testing the limits of the grudging free-market conservatism and neo-liberalism that have been the sun and moon of our political system for decades.

Even the atmosphere within the DC Beltway is subtly altering. The steady decline of the deficit [7] is turning the tables on the massively funded campaign to cut Social Security and Medicare. In December 2013, the corporate-oriented Democratic policy group Third Way launched a campaign in the Wall Street Journal [8] to smear Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic politicians who favor raising Social Security benefits. It backfired ignominiously.

How GOP Gerrymanders Away Democracy

January 10, 2014

Amid America’s demographic changes, Republicans have exploited every trick they can think of to stave off actual democracy, where every vote is respected and equal. One scheme has been to modernize the old practice of “gerrymandering,” as Beverly Bandler explains.

Beverly Bandler

In Election 2012, Democrats received 1.4 million more votes for the U.S. House of Representatives, yet Republicans won control of the House by a 234-to-201 margin. Thus, the second-biggest GOP majority in 60 years was not the will of American voters. It was gerrymandered.

Or, as Republican strategist Karl Rove has said, “He who controls redistricting can control Congress.”

Bob Menendez is a Problem

by BooMan
Thu Jan 9th, 2014 at 10:53:57 PM EST

Among elected officials from New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie is not the biggest asshole. That designation belongs to Sen. Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is actively undermining the administration's foreign policy and making war much more likely with Iran. The White House is seething, and they want everyone to know it.

A Point of View: See No Evil

We'd like to think the financial crisis is safely in the past. The events of 2007-2008, when the world's banking system was on the brink of collapse, seemed like a once-in-a-century upheaval, and it's natural to imagine we've returned to some kind of normalcy. Disaster has been averted, and there may be some signs of recovery in the economy. But have we emerged onto a sunny upland of stability, or are we fooling ourselves? History suggests an upheaval on this scale isn't left behind so easily. Could it be that we know the crisis hasn't been resolved, but prefer not to think about the fact?

Former US secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld's distinction between known unknowns and unknown unknowns has passed into everyday speech. It's not the things of which we know we're ignorant that we should worry about, he pointed out. It's the things we're unaware of not knowing that can really cause trouble. It's a useful reminder of the vastness of human ignorance. But might there not be another kind of unknown, which Rumsfeld didn't mention - one that consists of things we choose not to know?

Some Folks Say It's the Beginning of the End for the Christian Right -- Dream On, They're Getting More Powerful

By CJ Werleman

The autopsy of the 2012 election produced a swarm of op-ed obituaries that either celebrated or foretold the political end times for the Christian Right. Jonathan Merritt, a columnist for the Atlantic, observed that the GOP’s electoral hammering in 2012 marked the end of evangelical dominance in U.S. politics. More recently, Steven Conn, a contributor for the Huffington Post, predicts the rise of Pope Francis will dissolve the glue holding the Christian Right together.

While these observations make for sound logic when examining national politics, they completely overlook the Christian Right’s state-by-state strategy.

Paul Krugman: The War Over Poverty

Fifty years have passed since Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. And a funny thing happened on the way to this anniversary. Suddenly, or so it seems, progressives have stopped apologizing for their efforts on behalf of the poor, and have started trumpeting them instead. And conservatives find themselves on the defensive.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. For a long time, everyone knew — or, more accurately, “knew” — that the war on poverty had been an abject failure. And they knew why: It was the fault of the poor themselves. But what everyone knew wasn’t true, and the public seems to have caught on.

How the Corporate Class Is Using Teach For America to Turn K-12 Teaching Into a Temporary, Low-Paying Job

By Chad Sommer

Today, having completed the two-year program and seeing how it operates from the inside, I’m convinced that TFA now serves as a critical component of the all-out-effort by corporate elites to privatize one of the last remaining public institutions of our country: our public schools.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Remembering an earlier time when a theft unmasked government surveillance

By Betty Medsger

On March 24, 1971, I became the first reporter to inform readers that the FBI wanted the American people to think there was an “FBI agent behind every mailbox.” That rather alarming alert came from stolen FBI files I had found in my own mailbox at The Washington Post when I arrived at work the previous morning. ¶ It was the return address on the big tan envelope that prompted me to open it first: “Liberty Publications, Media, PA.” I had worked at the Evening Bulletin in Philadelphia before coming to The Post in January 1970, so I knew of Media, a small town southwest of Philadelphia. ¶ The letter inside the envelope informed me that on the night of March 8, 1971, my anonymous correspondents — they called themselves the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI — had broken into the Media FBI office and stolen every file. They did so, I learned later, in the dark and as the sounds of the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match filled the streets.

Wolf Richter: “This Chart Is A True Representation Of The Employment Crisis In This Country”

Posted on by Yves Smith
Yves here. Wolf’s latest post gives a crisp overview of how bad things are in job land. Among other things, he highlights the catastrophically high unemployment levels among young people, and how financially stressed older workers are hanging on to jobs much more than they used to in the past.

But there’s another layer to this picture. Heretofore, the pattern among employers in a downturn in managing the non-executive/senior managerial workforce was to push out higher-cost older workers in favor of cheap, high energy, less set-in-their-ways new hires. People in my age cohort and a bit older will attest that they know lots of people over 40 who were given the heave-ho. Some eventually found work at much lower pay, some became self-employed (it’s a lot harder than the business press lets on; 9 out of every 10 new businesses fail in the first three years), and some retired, living more modestly than they had wanted to.

Digby: Revisiting the War on Poverty

Today is the 50th anniversary of that speech and there are a lot of commemorations and discussions about how and why we find ourselves still confronting growing poverty 50 years later. I thought it might be interesting to just briefly discuss why it became so discredited over the years and how the right wing won the argument for so long.

There are many reasons for it, but one major way they did it was to sabotage the programs.

Paul Krugman: The Pacific Trade Pact Is Big, but Is It a Huge Deal?

I've been getting a fair bit of correspondence from readers wondering why I have not written about the negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which many regard as something both immense and sinister. The reason: I have been having a hard time figuring out why this deal is especially important. The usual rhetoric - from supporters and opponents alike - stresses the total size of the economies involved: hundreds of millions of people! Forty percent of global output!

But that tells you nothing much. After all, the Iceland-China free trade agreement, which was signed earlier this year, created a free-trade zone with 1.36 billion people. But only 300,000 of those people live in Iceland, and nobody considers the agreement a big deal.

Tomgram: Michael Klare, Have the Obits for Peak Oil Come Too Soon?

Posted by Michael Klare at 8:09am, January 9, 2014.

Peak Oil Is Dead
Long Live Peak Oil!
By Michael T. Klare
Among the big energy stories of 2013, “peak oil” -- the once-popular notion that worldwide oil production would soon reach a maximum level and begin an irreversible decline -- was thoroughly discredited.  The explosive development of shale oil and other unconventional fuels in the United States helped put it in its grave.
As the year went on, the eulogies came in fast and furious. “Today, it is probably safe to say we have slayed ‘peak oil’ once and for all, thanks to the combination of new shale oil and gas production techniques,” declared Rob Wile, an energy and economics reporter for Business Insider.  Similar comments from energy experts were commonplace, prompting an R.I.P. headline at announcing, “Peak Oil is Dead.”

10 Things You Might Not Know About Poverty

By Paul Rosenberg

We haven't vanquished poverty, it's true. But it's not Johnson's anti-poverty policies that have failed us. They've performed much better over the past 50 years than America's capitalist economy has, which has actually made poverty worseover that same period of time. If we want to make real, dramatic progress toward realizing the American Dream for all Americans, we need to arm ourselves with an accurate understanding of what the War on Poverty has actually achieved, as well as how it has fallen short, in order to make better policy for the future. What follows is a list of some of the most important facts to help guide our way.

Paul Krugman: In Economics, Old Is New Again

Mike Konczal at The Washington Post recently made a very good point about how we teach economics. He suggests that we should return to the way the economist Paul Samuelson did it in 1948, when he wrote the first version of his famous textbook - macroeconomics first, then micro. This, Mr. Konczal explains, would give students a better perspective on reality, even though all the same material would eventually be covered.

I would add that the motives behind Mr. Samuelson's ordering apply just as well today as they did then. He was writing when the memory of the Great Depression was still fresh; students wanted to know how such things could happen. How did he get them to take that stuff about the perfection of markets seriously after all that had just happened? By first teaching them that monetary and fiscal policy could be used to ensure full employment.

Robert Gates Double-Crosses Obama

January 8, 2014

Special Report: Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is slamming President Obama in a new memoir, accusing him of lacking enthusiasm for the Afghan War. But perhaps Obama’s bigger mistake was trusting Gates, a Bush Family operative with a history of dirty dealing, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

As Barack Obama is staggered by a back-stabbing memoir from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the President can’t say that some people didn’t warn him about the risk of bringing a political opportunist like Gates into his inner circle on national security.

Those warnings date back to just days after Obama’s election in 2008 when word began to spread that some of his advisers were urging Obama to keep Gates on as Defense Secretary as part of a “Team of Rivals” and a show of bipartisanship.

The Circle of Scam

Green space can make people happier for years

Nearly 10 years after the term "nature deficit disorder" entered the nation's vocabulary, research is showing for the first time that green space does appear to improve mental health in a sustained way. The report, which appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, gives urban park advocates another argument in support of their cause.

Democratic Members Of Congress Slam Obama For Massive Cave To Republicans On Judges 

By Ian Millhiser on January 6, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Last November, Senate Democrats invoked a procedural maneuver that allowed them to confirm judicial nominees by a simple majority vote, thus cutting off the GOP’s ability to maintain control over a key federal appeals court by simply refusing to permit anyone to be confirmed. So it’s a bit odd that, just over a month after Senate Republicans effectively lost their ability to veto nominees from the minority. President Obama decided to outsource selecting nominees to most of the open judicial seats in Georgia to two Republican senators.

Presently, five judicial vacancies need to be filled in Georgia. Yet, 2013 wound down, Obama agreed to a deal that would place most of these seats in Republican hands.

Jim Garrow & Pete Santilli Now Openly Calling For Military Coup Against Obama

Submitted by Brian Tashman on Tuesday, 1/7/2014 1:30 pm

Jim Garrow brought his tall tale about President Obama trying to murder him to The Pete Santilli Show on Friday, where he also plugged the anti-Obama Operation American Spring. Santilli, the radio host who called for the murder of Obama and for Hillary Clinton to be “shot in the vagina” and has advocated for violence against the government, said that a national strike and even a military coup is necessary to bring down the Obama administration.

“I’m not calling for — well, yes I’m calling for the military to restore our Republic. Is it a military coup? I would say that it’s probably the most orderly fashion to do this,” Santilli told Garrow, who responded that it would take just “three percent of the population to rise up” and “control the country.”

The Danger of NSA Spying on Members of Congress

An executive-branch agency has been empowered to store revealing information about the communications of everyone in the legislature. 

Conor Friedersdorf, Jan 6 2014, 12:00 PM ET

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter to the NSA on Friday asking, "Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?" The only acceptable answer ought to be, "No, of course not."

The honest answer: "Yes."

The NSA has spied on members of Congress, but acknowledging that would unnerve millions of Americans. That's why their official response to the letter was so evasive that CNN summed it up, "NSA won't say whether it spies on Congress."

Infrastructure 101: The Evolution of Building Big Things (Part 1)

Wednesday, 08 January 2014 09:18  
By Ellen Dannin, Truthout | News Analysis 

As this country’s public infrastructure crumbles,  prominent organizations, such as Reason and its allies, strongly advocate using privatization to solve the problem. However, this country has a long and continuing history of successfully taking on big infrastructure projects through direct public support and funding - circumventing privatization while getting the job done well. As will be discussed next week in part two, the true cost of privatizing our roads, water and other infrastructure includes lost public control.

Richard Eskow: Now We Know. JPMorgan Chase is Worse Than Enron.

It’s beginning to look as if JPMorgan Chase has had a hand in every major banking scandal of the last decade. In fact, it’s the Zelig of Wall Street crime. Take a snapshot of any major bank fraud and chances are you’ll see JPMorgan Chase staring out at you from the frame.

Foreclosure fraud, investor fraud, cheating customers, market manipulation, LIBOR … and now, the coup de grĂ¢ce to JPM’s tattered reputation: a $2 billion fine for closing its eyes and covering up as Bernie Madoff literally bilked widows and orphans, along with a lot of other families and charities. (Here’s a list of investors.)

Millionaire Steve Forbes has a cynical campaign to keep working people down

A minimum wage hike would improve the lives of 30 million working Americans. Forbes wants to falsely spin it as a job killer

Richard L Trumka, Wednesday 8 January 2014 08.45 EST

What do you give to a man who has everything? A man like publisher Steve Forbes, worth a reported $430m. What do you give him if you're his beloved-but-on-the-ropes Republican Party?

How about a cynical campaign to defeat a US federal minimum wage increase?

That's what Forbes calls for in his column in the 18 November edition of Forbes magazine. To keep from getting "smacked around by President Obama and congressional Democrats", instead of "passively taking a hit", Republicans should gin up their spin machine to portray a minimum wage increase as a job-killer. Hold House hearings, he says, and parade out people who will say they were hurt by the last minimum wage increase.

50 Years After the War on Poverty, Will the Middle Class Become the New Poor?

January 8, 2014  |  Fifty years ago today, LBJ threw down the gauntlet on poverty in his famous State of the Union address of 1964 [3]. Fired with passion and buoyed by bipartisan support, his anti-poverty team kicked off new health insurance programs for the old and the poor, increased Social Security, established food stamps and nutritional supplements for low-income pregnant women and infants, and started programs to give more young people a chance to succeed, like Head Start and Job Corps.

Americans have greatly benefited from big-picture economic changes like the minimum wage; investments in worker training and education; civil rights policies; social insurance; and programs like food stamps and Medicaid. As Georgetown University’s Peter Edelman pointed out in the New York Times, without these programs, research shows that poverty would be nearly double [4] what it is today. According to economist Jared Bernstein, Social Security alone has reduced the official elderly poverty rate [5] from 44 percent, which it would be without benefits, to 9 percent with them.

'Burglars' Revealed: Sixties Activists Who Stole FBI COINTELPRO Files

'On March 8, 1971, a group of eight Vietnam War protestors broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in Media, Pennsylvania and stole hundreds of government documents that shocked a nation.'

- Jon Queally, staff writer

In an exclusive with the New York Times on Tuesday, published to coincide with a new book about a fateful plan more than four decades ago that helped bring down J. Edgar Hoover and expose the dark nature of the FBI's obsessive targeting of the dissident and anti-war left, the original burglars who broke into a bureau field office in 1971 have now stepped forward to discuss the meticously planned theft that altered the course of modern history.

Corporations Control Our Lives

Sunday, 05 January 2014 09:21
By Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed

In our nation, finance has a hold on almost every single part of our lives – from the day we’re born, until we take our last breath. Capitalism and the quest for larger profits have taken hold of our healthcare, our education, our homes, our communication, and even our government. Today, most babies are born in for-profit hospitals, and their medical claims are paid by for-profit insurance. As children grow, many go to for-profit charter schools or private schools, and our public education system continues to crumble. Young adults are forced to deal with for-profit lenders to go to college at for-profit universities, and everything from their backpack to their first home will generate a profit for someone on Wall Street.

Marriage Promotion Has Failed to Stem Poverty among Single Moms

On 50th anniversary of War on Poverty, expert says new approach needed

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As the United States marks the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty this month, a new report suggests one recent weapon in the battle has been a disappointing failure.

The federal government has made marriage promotion among single mothers a key part of its continuing effort to fight poverty.

But that approach has missed the mark because marriage doesn’t provide the same benefits to poor, single mothers as it does for others, according to Kristi Williams, associate professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

Dean Baker: All eyes on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, America's leading progressive

De Blasio is to the left of America's Democratic party, but he's no Marxist. Instead, he'll likely usher in progressive policies

Reporting on the significance of Bill de Blasio becoming mayor of New York may have led some to fear that the Soviet Union was being reincarnated in the country's largest city. While De Blasio is certainly to the left of many leaders of the America's Democratic party, he is certainly no radical seeking to overthrow capitalism. Furthermore, even if he did plan to seize the means of production, his ability to do so as the mayor of a major city would be quite limited.

Nonetheless, there are many areas where the mayor of New York can have a substantial impact. The top of this list would be education policy. De Blasio's predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, was a vocal and visible supporter of the education reform movement. While this movement has produced big profits for corporations in the testing business and made some policy entrepreneurs rich and famous, it has not done much to improve education for inner city kids.

The Last Gasp of American Democracy

By Chris Hedges

This is our last gasp as a democracy. The state’s wholesale intrusion into our lives and obliteration of privacy are now facts. And the challenge to us—one of the final ones, I suspect—is to rise up in outrage and halt this seizure of our rights to liberty and free expression. If we do not do so we will see ourselves become a nation of captives.

The public debates about the government’s measures to prevent terrorism, the character assassination of Edward Snowden and his supporters, the assurances by the powerful that no one is abusing the massive collection and storage of our electronic communications miss the point. Any state that has the capacity to monitor all its citizenry, any state that has the ability to snuff out factual public debate through control of information, any state that has the tools to instantly shut down all dissent is totalitarian. Our corporate state may not use this power today. But it will use it if it feels threatened by a population made restive by its corruption, ineptitude and mounting repression. The moment a popular movement arises—and one will arise—that truly confronts our corporate masters, our venal system of total surveillance will be thrust into overdrive.

Tax Dollars for Sweatshops

By Robert J.S. Ross,

The Rana Plaza collapse obliterated all previous records for deadly garment industry disasters, including New York’s Triangle Factory blaze in 1911, which claimed 146 lives; the Tazreen factory fire in Bangladesh in November 2012, which killed 112 workers; and the Ali Enterprises fire in Pakistan from September 2012, which killed 298 workers.

The players in the Koch-backed $400 million political donor network

By Matea Gold

The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics identified a coalition of allied conservative groups active in the 2012 elections that together raised at least $407 million, backed by a donor network organized by the industrialists Charles and David Koch. Most of the funds originated with two groups, the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and TC4 Trust, both of which routed some of the money through a Phoenix-based nonprofit group called the Center to Protect Patient Rights (CPPR).

From Nixon to Paul Ryan: How right-wing radicals deceive America

By shifting the spectrum of debate, here's how America's rightward march has been normalized throughout history 

Paul Rosenberg

From Nixon to Reagan to Gingrich to Bush to Paul Ryan and Chris Christie today, leaders who’ve shifted America to the right have been aided by moderating misrepresentations.  In the case of Reagan, it was not just the man, but conservatism itself that received the flattering reinterpretation. That was a difference that mattered; it goes to the heart of why Reagan is the American right’s touchstone. But the more general process of misrepresenting and reinterpreting increasingly radical ideological figures as if they were normal, everyday pragmatic problem-solvers is one that’s been a repeated leitmotif in America’s political trajectory since Richard Nixon’s political resurrection in 1968.

60 Minutes Hit Job On Clean Energy Ignores The Facts

By Joe Romm on January 5, 2014

Clean technology is booming by every key indicator — but you would never know that from Sunday’s absurd 60 Minutes piece touting an imaginary “Cleantech Crash.”

As documented in the recent Department of Energy (DOE) report, “Revolution Now: The Future Arrives for Four Clean Energy Technologies,” the only thing in cleantech that is crashing is the cost of key components.

Dean Baker: Obamacare and Those Invincible Youngsters

There is an ongoing media obsession with the number of young people who sign up for health care insurance through Obamacare. We have been repeatedly told that the success of the program depends on large numbers of healthy young people -- the “young invincibles” -- signing up for the program.

The story is that these young people will subsidize the rest of us by paying more for their insurance than they receive back from the system in benefits. The excessive payments from young people will cover the cost of the older sick people in the exchange.

Brian Beutler: GOP’s ulterior motive on unemployment: Economic sabotage?

There's more to Republican opposition to extending unemployment benefits than conservative principles

Congress returns from the holidays in earnest today, more than a week after allowing emergency unemployment compensation to lapse for millions of jobless Americans, which raises the critical question of what lies behind the GOP’s reluctance to do the obviously correct thing.

Senate Democrats hope just a handful of Republicans will break away from the opposition later today, to pass legislation that would renew the lapsed benefits, and pressure John Boehner to follow suit, but they’re having a hard time finding the votes.

What gives?

Dumbing America Down, Conservative Style

By Susan J. Douglas

Scalia’s golden chance to kill unions

A "sweeping" ruling could force right to work on every U.S. public sector worker, Harvard's Ben Sachs warns 

Josh Eidelson

A Supreme Court case to be heard this month could deal another body blow to the embattled U.S. labor movement. The case, Harris v. Quinn, offers the court’s conservative majority a chance to make so-called right to work the law of the land for millions of public sector workers.

And it targets one of the most effective ways unions have grown their ranks – getting governors to classify the growing ranks of taxpayer-funded home care workers as public employees with unionization rights – and a decades-old precedent that the 2012 Knox v. SEIU case suggests justices may be itching to overturn. If the court strikes that 1977 (Abood) precedent – that workers in union workplaces can be required to pay fees for “collective bargaining activities,” though not for “ideological activities unrelated to collective bargaining” – unions fear further defunding, diversion, division and discrimination will follow.

Retirement Theft in 4 Despicable Steps

By Paul Buchheit

But the American workers who have paid all their lives for retirement security are being cheated by wealthy individuals and corporations who refuse to meet their tax obligations, and who have found other ways to keep expanding their wealth at the expense of the middle class.

1. Federal Tax Avoidance is the Biggest Threat to Social Security

Conservatives say that Social Security is too expensive, and that cutbacks [5] and a later retirement age [6] are necessary. But they refuse to acknowledge the facts about missing revenue. Annual tax avoidance [7] by wealthy individuals and corporations is in the trillions of dollars, over double the cost of Social Security.

Big corporations are the worst offenders. The numbers are startling. For every dollar they paid relative to payroll tax in the 1950s, they now pay [8] ten cents. In just the past ten years they've cut their tax rate in half [9].

India Is a Dystopia of Extremes, but Resistance Is Stirring

Sunday, 05 January 2014 00:00
By John Pilger, Truthout | News Analysis 

The worldwide assault on social democracy and the collusion of major parliamentary parties - begun in the United States and Britain in the 1980s - has produced in India a dystopia of extremes, but the great popular resistance that gave India its independence is stirring.

In five-star hotels on Mumbai's seafront, children of the rich squeal joyfully as they play hide and seek. Nearby, at the National Theatre for the Performing Arts, people arrive for the Mumbai Literary Festival: famous authors and notables drawn from India's Raj class. They step deftly over a woman lying across the pavement, her birch brooms laid out for sale, her two children silhouettes in a banyan tree that is their home.

It is Children's Day in India. On page nine of the Times of India, a study reports that every second child is malnourished. Nearly two million children under the age of 5 die every year from preventable illness as common as diarrhea. Of those who survive, half are stunted due to a lack of nutrients. The national school dropout rate is 40 percent.  Statistics like these flow like a river permanently in flood. No other country comes close. The small thin legs dangling in a banyan tree are poignant evidence.

The Most Senseless Environmental Crime of the 20th Century

By Charles Homans • November 12, 2013

In the fall of 1946,  a 508-foot ship steamed out of the port of Odessa, Ukraine. In a previous life she was called the Wikinger (“Viking”) and sailed under the German flag, but she had been appropriated by the Soviet Union after the war and renamed the Slava (“Glory”). The Slava was a factory ship, crewed and equipped to separate one whale every 30 minutes into its useful elements, destined for oil, canned meat and liver, and bone meal. Sailing with her was a retinue of smaller, nimbler catcher vessels, their purpose betrayed by the harpoon guns mounted atop each clipper bow. They were bound for the whaling grounds off the coast of Antarctica. It was the first time Soviet whalers had ventured so far south.

The work began inauspiciously. In her first season, the Slava caught just 386 whales. But by the fifth—before which the fleet’s crew wrote a letter to Stalin pledging to bring home more than 500 tons of whale oil—the Slava’s annual catch was approaching 2,000. The next year it was 3,000. Then, in 1957, the ship’s crew discovered dense conglomerations of humpback whales to the north, off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand. There were so many of them, packed so close together, the Slava’s helicopter pilots joked that they could make an emergency landing on the animals’ backs.

Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For

Guaranteed jobs, universal basic incomes, public finance and more

By Jesse A. Myerson
January 3, 2014 10:00 AM ET

It's a new year, but one thing hasn't changed: The economy still blows. Five years after Wall Street crashed, America's banker-gamblers have only gotten richer, while huge swaths of the country are still drowning in personal debt, tens of millions of Americans remain unemployed – and the new jobs being created are largely low-wage, sub-contracted, part-time grunt work.

Millennials have been especially hard-hit by the downturn, which is probably why so many people in this generation (like myself) regard capitalism with a level of suspicion that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. But that egalitarian impulse isn't often accompanied by concrete proposals about how to get out of this catastrophe. Here are a few things we might want to start fighting for, pronto, if we want to grow old in a just, fair society, rather than the economic hellhole our parents have handed us.

“Surveillance breeds conformity”: Salon’s Glenn Greenwald interview

Glenn Greenwald tells us what he'd have done different in '13, why privacy matters and his hope for his new venture

Natasha Lennard

Longtime Salon readers will have known for some years that Glenn Greenwald is an unapologetically opinionated journalist with an unwavering skepticism about corporate-government power. In 2013, the rest of the world learned the same. It was an intense, banner year for Greenwald, who has played a principal role in releasing startling revelations about the National Security Agency through Edward Snowden’s leaks.

Without Greenwald’s work with Snowden (and fellow journalists like Laura Poitras), it’s safe to say we would be considerably less informed about the sprawling, totalized surveillance state in which we live. For this service, Greenwald now fears returning to the U.S. from his home in Brazil (although he plans to do so in 2014); his partner, David Miranda, was detained for nine hours in a London airport for the crime of carrying journalistic materials; and his source, Snowden, faces Espionage Act charges. Truly, Greenwald stands on the front lines of the U.S. government’s war on information.

Brian Beutler: GOP's Dishonest 2014 Strategy: Exploit People's Pain then Drum Up Faux Outrage

There’s the 3-or-so million young adults under 26 who have been covered under their parents plans for a couple of years now, about 4 million new Medicaid beneficiaries, and some large percentage of the 2 million who have enrolled in a private plan via or one of 14 state-based insurance exchanges and submitted their first premium payment.

Friday, January 3, 2014

In Which I Continue To Despair Of The Rebranding

at 2:00PM
Tout le Beltway is abuzz over the double-barrelled attempt by National Affairs -- Motto: Conservatism Without Crayons -- to arrest the spread of the prion disease currently making the brains of the Republican party, and of American conservatism generally -- bleed out. I will pass over the one co-authored by the insufferable Michael Gerson because Gerson was a word-whore for the Avignon Presidency who has been attempting with varying degrees of pathetic to leave behind the perfumed lies he concocted on behalf of bloodthirsty morons and is thus unworthy of serious consideration. (If Gerson's pet war had not been the obvious catastrophe it has been, then Gerson would be down in College Station, polishing with his own dick the marble statue of C-Plus Augustus.) The other piece -- by Michael Strain -- which proposes a Republican push on a "jobs" plan is far more interesting because it contains within it political matter and political anti-matter in such close proximity that the piece ultimately annihilates itself.

A Simple Economic Truth America's Super Rich Don't Want Us to Know About

by Thom Hartmann

The people promoting this lie - most all of them rich people themselves - have been so good at promoting this lie that pretty much everybody believes it. It's even asserted as fact, without contradiction, in the mainstream media. But it's a lie.

The lie is that raising income taxes on rich people and hugely profitable companies hurts economies and even leads to unemployment. The truth is that raising income taxes on rich people and hugely profitable companies actually helps economies and causes companies to hire more and more people, thus lowering unemployment.

Seattle Arson that Could Have Killed Hundreds Probed as Hate Crime

By David Neiwert

The fact that the bar was a famous Capitol Hill nightclub called Neighbours immediately raised suspicions in Seattle. In 1990, the same establishment was targeted by a group of neo-Nazis from Idaho who plotted a bombing attack there intended to kill large numbers of people.