Doug Lerner reports from Tokyo and St. Louis, and points beyond…

Posts tagged ‘politics’

TIME magazine PERSON OF THE YEAR: “THE PROTESTER”

Managing Editor Rick Stengel : “Is there a global tipping point for frustration? Everywhere, it seems, people said they’d had enough. … No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor in a town barely on a map set himself on fire in a public square, it would spark protests that would bring down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and rattle regimes in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Or that that spirit of dissent would spur Mexicans to rise up against the terror of drug cartels, Greeks to march against unaccountable leaders, Americans to occupy public spaces to protest income inequality, and Russians to marshal themselves against a corrupt autocracy.

“For capturing and highlighting a global sense of restless promise, for upending governments and conventional wisdom, for combining the oldest of techniques with the newest of technologies to shine a light on human dignity and, finally, for steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century, the Protester is TIME’s 2011 Person of the Year.”
See the cover. http://www.time.com/time/pr/magcovers.html

ref: Politico Playbook

Joke of the day

“A driver is stuck in a jam in Washington. A man knocks on his window: ‘Terrorists have kidnapped Congress, and they’re asking for $100m otherwise they’ll burn them with gasoline,’ the man says. ‘We’re going from car to car to get donations.’ What are people giving on average, asks the driver? ‘Oh, about a gallon,’ comes the reply.”

Republicans Against Science

By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: August 28, 2011

Jon Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr. Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.

To see what Mr. Huntsman means, consider recent statements by the two men who actually are serious contenders for the G.O.P. nomination: Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as “just a theory,” one that has “got some gaps in it” — an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got peoples’ attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

That’s a remarkable statement — or maybe the right adjective is “vile.”

The second part of Mr. Perry’s statement is, as it happens, just false: the scientific consensus about man-made global warming — which includes 97 percent to 98 percent of researchers in the field, according to the National Academy of Sciences — is getting stronger, not weaker, as the evidence for climate change just keeps mounting.

In fact, if you follow climate science at all you know that the main development over the past few years has been growing concern that projections of future climate are underestimating the likely amount of warming. Warnings that we may face civilization-threatening temperature change by the end of the century, once considered outlandish, are now coming out of mainstream research groups.

But never mind that, Mr. Perry suggests; those scientists are just in it for the money, “manipulating data” to create a fake threat. In his book “Fed Up,” he dismissed climate science as a “contrived phony mess that is falling apart.”

I could point out that Mr. Perry is buying into a truly crazy conspiracy theory, which asserts that thousands of scientists all around the world are on the take, with not one willing to break the code of silence. I could also point out that multiple investigations into charges of intellectual malpractice on the part of climate scientists have ended up exonerating the accused researchers of all accusations. But never mind: Mr. Perry and those who think like him know what they want to believe, and their response to anyone who contradicts them is to start a witch hunt.

So how has Mr. Romney, the other leading contender for the G.O.P. nomination, responded to Mr. Perry’s challenge? In trademark fashion: By running away. In the past, Mr. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, has strongly endorsed the notion that man-made climate change is a real concern. But, last week, he softened that to a statement that he thinks the world is getting hotter, but “I don’t know that” and “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.” Moral courage!

Of course, we know what’s motivating Mr. Romney’s sudden lack of conviction. According to Public Policy Polling, only 21 percent of Republican voters in Iowa believe in global warming (and only 35 percent believe in evolution). Within the G.O.P., willful ignorance has become a litmus test for candidates, one that Mr. Romney is determined to pass at all costs.

So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.

And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.

Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?

Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

ref: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/29/opinion/republicans-against-science.html?_r=1&hp

The debt ceiling is ridiculous

The debt ceiling is ridiculous. It makes no sense – and is unconstitutional.

If the Congress doesn’t want debt it shouldn’t authorize spending. If it authorizes spending it has to live with the debt or raise enough revenues from taxes and fees to cover the spending they authorized.

Obama should just invoke the 14th Amendment, ignore the debt ceiling and get on with business.

doug

Bill Clinton says to use the 14th Amendment – and he’s right

I agree with Bill Clinton here. The Congress already voted once to authorize the expenditures. Why do they have to vote a second time?

The language of the 14th Amendment is clear.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/19/bill-clinton-debt-ceiling_n_902266.html

doug

Moody’s suggests U.S. eliminate debt ceiling

I agree with this Moody’s suggestion of eliminating the debt ceiling:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/18/us-usa-debt-moodys-idUSTRE76H0WH201…

The Tea Partyers are just loons about this. The debt ceiling is a completely meaningless artifice. The debt is a collection of already existing obligations resulting from prior budgets, bonds, etc. The debt HAS to be honored.

The fact Congress has to cut budgets and/or raise taxes going forward to get the deficit under control is completely unrelated to the issue of honoring existing obligations.

doug

McConnell Warns of Risk to Party, and Country, of Default (NY Times)

There is certainly fascinating politics in this article. I think GOP leaders realize their party is heading over a cliff and don’t want to follow the rest of the lemmings.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/14/us/politics/14fiscal.html?_r=1&hp

doug

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