If voters this year in Colorado decide to approve Amendment 64, which would legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol, it would noticeably improve the financial situation of both the state and local governments. A new study by the Colorado Center for[...]
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Oh boy, here we go ...Apparently Paul Ryan had his people check into it and yes, it turns out Paul Ryan did indeed write letters explicitly asking for (and getting) stimulus funds in spite of his own certainty that he never would have done such a horrible thing. Well, oops. But he can explain!
You see, he just didn't know those millions of dollars of projects were related to the stimulus. If he had known that those projects were being funded by the stimulus, he would have told those constituents to go right to hell:
?After having these letters called to my attention I checked into them, and they were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled. This is why I didn?t recall the letters earlier,? he continued. ?But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that. Regardless, it?s clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy, and now the President is asking to do it all over again.?I'm not sure if I can even parse that?Ryan seems to share Mitt's gift for stringing words together in ways that sound like English, but which convey precious little actual information?but he seems to be saying that his office considered those requests to be simple, run-of-the-mill things that Paul Ryan happened to very strongly disagree with, and therefore, um, did anyway without even thinking much about it.
Is Ryan saying his office regularly rubber-stamped constituent requests for money even when he disagreed with them, or that they just never paid much attention, or what? It sounds like he's saying he and his office would normally write requests like that as a routine matter, but really ought to have treated those specific requests differently only because he now realizes they were going to be paid for via the stimulus, which made them bad.
"Oh, you want us to help you fix your town's most important bridge? No problem. Wait, you want to do it as part of the stimulus? Oh, well fuck you, then."
That doesn't even make sense on the level of lame excuse. I guess Paul Ryan is saying that he never would have helped his own constituents get things done if he thought doing so would improve the economy, which he is positive it did not because, um, he says so. Or something?like I said, I can't even parse it. But implicit in all of it is that it was his staff's fault, not his, and that he's truly sorry that his staff prepared these various requests for stimulus money on his letterhead with his own name signed prominently at the bottom of each one.
What a wreck of a campaign. Between Romney and Ryan, it's just one car crash after another.
Sadly, Family Research Council's honcho Tony Perkins took to the media today in an attempt to discredit the Southern Poverty Law Center's accurate assessment of FRC as a hate group, charging that the organization gave shooter Floyd Corkins a license to[...]
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Are Republicans succeeding in making the election a referendum on Obama? [...]
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I'm stealing Diane Sweet's headline (she posted this recently at Crooks & Liars) ? because mine was far more editorial:"VoucherCare Ryan" shows his Republican true colors:Conscienceless & cruel (Granny, you're next)Call this "burying the head" ? I couldn't make myself put that up front. But I swear to god, there's something really off about these people. Something do to with...
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OK, it?s time to come clean. I used to be a humongous Ayn Rand fan.
I was 15 years old when my mom?s friend loaned me a copy of Rand?s first major novel, The Fountainhead. I devoured it in a week. A year later, I?d reread it several times and moved on to Atlas Shrugged.
I made my friends read Rand. I made my boyfriend read her. I talked about her books incessantly. If I?d been aware that they existed, I would surely have entered one of the many high school essay contests run by various Rand-associated organizations.
What was so great about her books? Well for one thing, they?re awesome romance novels. The rape scene in The Fountainhead, where wealthy heiress Dominique Francon is ravished by genius architect Howard Roark, is a little intense, as are some of the scenes in Atlas Shrugged (whose heroine, Dagny Taggart, at one point appears at a party wearing a diamond bracelet that ?gave her the most feminine of all aspects: the look of being chained.?) ? but heck, I was also reading Ann Rice?s vampire novels at the time. Even when she wasn?t writing straight porn, Rice doesn?t exactly shy from explicit, over-the-top sex scenes.
Also appealing was Rand?s belief, as I (mis)understood it, that smart people deserve to be on top. To a 15-year-old social outcast with a 3.7 GPA and an affinity for books, that sounded like a pretty great idea.
?Dirty Dancing? changed things. (Yes, I read The Fountainhead before I saw ?Dirty Dancing.? ?Dirty Dancing? is rated R. My parents were strict. So there.) It struck me as disturbing that Robbie, the womanizing Yalie waiter who shrugs off responsibility for an unwanted pregnancy he caused by saying, ?some people count and some people don?t,? was depicted as an ardent fan of The Fountainhead as he offers Jennifer Gray his tattered copy of the book.
So after conducting some research and learning a more about what she really was about, I grew out of Ayn Rand.
Paul Ryan hasn?t.
I know, I know, in the wake of questions by Christian groups who about have called him out for his apparent elevation of Rand?s ?philosophy? over that of a certain Jewish carpenter whose name shall remain unmentioned, Ryan?s been all over the place (here and here, for instance) denouncing her belief system, ?Objectivism,? as ?atheistic? and therefore despicable.
But as Lawrence O?Donnell observed the other night, ?Only for a politician is Ayn Rand?s atheism a strike against her.?
So let?s turn to the parts of Rand?s works that Ryan hasn?t denounced ? starting with the scene in Atlas Shrugged that prompted Jason Lee Steorts, managing editor of the ever-more-repulsive National Review, to shut the book two-thirds of the way through a 2010 attempt to reread it.
A train is carrying 300 passengers through the Rocky Mountains to San Francisco. America is falling altogether to pieces, its citizens starving to death, because the prime movers ? Rand?s term for the productive men and women on whom economic creation and therefore life-or-death depend ? have called a strike.
The train can?t make safely it through the tunnel because the strike has left the world without diesel engines. A government official demands that it be sent through anyway, and all of the passengers die of asphyxiation.
?But that isn?t why I stopped reading,? Steorts wrote. ?I stopped because Rand thinks they deserve it.?
That?s not the only reason he shut the book:
Then there is the fact that some of the heroes are first-class haters. Foremost here is Francisco d?Anconia, who is pretending to be a worthless playboy so that the looters won?t respect him enough to notice how he is tricking them into destroying their copper supply. He charms with such proclamations as: ?The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide ? as, I think, he will?; and, of women he has manipulated into falsely claiming affairs with him and so destroying their reputations.
Steorts closes his essay by saying he ?cannot damn Ayn Rand? entirely, and offering thanks ?for the too few hours of deep inspiration she offered me.? But he concludes, ?[i]t got too painful to look any longer, and so, exercising the right of any self-interested reader, I simply closed the book.?
Paul Ryan didn?t. Instead, he gave copies of Atlas Shrugged as Christmas gifts and made the book ?required reading? for his interns and staff. He also credited Rand as the chief inspiration for his decision to enter public service.
In 2005, he told a group of Rand fans, ?There is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand?s writings and works.? As if to prove he meant it, in 2010 he proposed a Randian ?Road Map For America?s Future? that would have privatized and drastically weakened America?s already-inadequate social safety net programs.
So even if the newly minted veep candidate is sincere in saying he rejects Rand because she?s an atheist ? a much more important question remains:
Does he still admire the rest of her morality?
Does it bother him that she testified as a ?friendly witness? before the House Committee on Un-American Activities?
Does he worry about that fact that, during a 1959 interview with Mike Wallace, Rand readily agreed that her purpose was ?to destroy almost every edifice in the contemporary American way of life ? our Judeo-Christian religion, our modified government-regulated capitalism, our rule by the majority will??
Does he agree with her take on compromise, ?There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil??
How about the maxim, uttered by a major character in Atlas Shrugged, ?Money is the barometer of a society?s virtue??
I didn?t get the importance of these things when I first read Ayn Rand ? but then, I was a 15-year-old high school kid. By the time I?d finished my ?Dirty Dancing?-inspired research jag, I understood that while her books are nice romance novels, they are also propaganda for a monstrous worldview that I wanted nothing at all to do with.
How is it that Paul Ryan, whose sole objection (if he really has one) to Ayn Rand is that she didn?t believe in God, still hasn?t figured that out?
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) — who is running for Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) Senate seat — told reporters on Thursday that the federal government should “end its support for school lunch programs,” suggesting that states should fund the effort:
“There’s another good question of who should be doing that,” Akin said during the discussion with reporters. “Is that something the federal government should be doing? I answer it no ? why not do it at the state level?” [...]
“I am not against school lunches, but I have a question of whether or not the federal government should be doing many things it is doing, and that would be one I would take a look at.”
In 2011, “more than 31.8 million children each day got their lunch through the National School Lunch Program” — a federally assisted meal program that is currently “operating in over 100,000 public and non?profit private schools and residential child care institutions.” Under the measure, “children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals,” while those “with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced?price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40 cents.”
The House Agriculture Committee has marked up a ?compromise? version of this year?s farm bill — but it includes cuts to food stamps and the school lunch program. According to the Congressional Budget Office, such reductions could knock 280,000 children off of the free school lunch program. The Senate has adopted a farm bill, but the House has yet to move its version to the floor.
Summary of the Summary: We are five years into a severe global food crisis that is very unlikely to go away. It will threaten poor countries with increased malnutrition and starvation and even collapse. Resource squabbles and waves of food-induced migration will threaten global stability and global growth. This threat is badly underestimated by almost everybody and all institutions with the possible exception of some military establishments.
Uber-hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham has released another important discussion. Grantham, a self-described ?die hard contrarian,? is one of the few leading financial figures who gets both global warming and growing food insecurity, two cornerstones of Climate Progress analysis.
I?m going to excerpt his analysis, which comprises the entire quarterly newsletter from the former Chairman and now Chief Investment Strategist of GMO Capital, which has more than $100 billion in assets under management. Grantham’s work makes very clear that the global economy is a Ponzi scheme.
In Grantham?s blunt 2Q 2010 letter (see ?Grantham: Everything You Need to Know About Global Warming in 5 Minutes?), he wrote ?Global warming will be the most important investment issue for the foreseeable future.? Then in his January 2011 newsletter he wrote about ?Things that Really Matter in 2011 and Beyond?: ?Global warming causing destabilized weather patterns, adding to agricultural price pressures.? Later that year, he wrote another blunt analysis ?Time to Wake Up: Days of Abundant Resources and Falling Prices Are Over Forever.?
In his new discussion, he warns we are in a “chronic global food crisis that is unlikely to fade for many decades, at least until the global population has considerably declined from its likely peak of over nine billion in 2050.” Why? “There are too many factors that will make growth in food output increasingly difficult where it used to be easy”:
He points out something I have reported on many times here, “Talk privately to scientists involved in climate research and you find that they believe that almost everything is worse than they feared and accelerating dangerously.” The good news/bad news is:
On paper, though, the energy problem can be relatively easily addressed through very large investments in renewables and smart grids. Those countries that do this will, in several decades, eventually emerge with large advantages in lower marginal costs and in energy security. Most countries including the U.S. will not muster the political will to overcome inertia, wishful thinking, and the enormous political power of the energy interests to embark on these expensive programs. They risk being left behind in competiveness.
The devastating food crises to come will, however, largely affect the United States indirectly, through much higher prices and the terrible global instability they causes. He notes that:
For Fortress North America (ex-Mexico), or what we might call Canamerica, these problems are relatively remote. When corn crops fail we worry about farmers? income, not about starvation. In the long run, the truth is that Canamerica seen as a unit is in an almost unimaginably superior position to the average of the rest of our planet. Per capita, the U.S. alone has five times the surface water and seven times the arable land of China! And Canada has even more.
But the staggering immorality of our food, energy, and climate policies will become increasingly indefensible. As but one example:
Despite corn being almost ludicrously inefficient as an ethanol input compared to sugar cane and scores of other plants, 40% of our corn crop ? the most important one for global exports ? is diverted away from food uses. If one single tankful of pure ethanol were put into an SUV (yes, I know it?s a mix in the U.S., but humor me) it displaces enough food calories to feed one Indian farmer for one year! To persist in such folly if malnutrition increases, as I think it will, would be, to be polite, ungenerous: it pushes the price of corn away from affordability in poorer countries and, through substitution, it raises all grain prices. (The global corn and wheat prices have jumped over 40% in just two months.)
Our ethanol policy is becoming the moral equivalent of shooting some poor Indian farmers. Death just comes more slowly and painfully.
Once again, why single out Indian farmers? Because it was reported last month in Bloomberg that the caloric intake of the average Indian farmer had dropped from a high of 2,266 a day in 1973 to 2,020 last year according to their National Sample Survey Office. And for city dwellers the average had dropped from approximately 2,100 to 1,900.
The whole discussion — “Welcome to Dystopia! Entering a long-term and politically dangerous food crisis” – is a must read. Below is just the discussion on climate change.
The negative effect of climate change on grain production
I used to think that ?climate change? was a weak, evasive version of ?global warming? but not anymore, for weather extremes ? drought, floods, and bursts of extreme heat ? have turned out to be more devastating for food production than the steady rise in average global temperatures. Droughts and floods were off-the-scale awful three growing seasons ago, and I forecasted some improvement. But with impossibly low odds ? based on the previous weather distribution pattern ? severe weather events kept going for two more growing seasons. Just as with resource prices, detailed last year, when the odds get into the scores of thousands to one, it is usually because the old model is broken.
So in the resource case, the old model of declining resource prices was broken and a new, very different era had begun. Similarly, the odds of three such disastrous years together are just too high to be easily believed and the much safer assumption is that the old weather model is broken and a new era of rising temperature and more severe droughts and floods is upon us. All-time heat records in cities across the world are falling like flies and the months of March through May this year were the hottest in U.S. history. As with the equally unpleasant fact of rising resource prices, this new, less desirable climate has to be accepted and adjusted to. Once again, the faster we do it, the better off we will be. Several industries like insurance are already deep into the study of the new consequences. Farming must also adjust, and not just to the rising prices. With skill, research, and, above all, trial and error, farmers will adjust the type of crop and the type of corn seed they use to the changing weather. And I have no doubt that they will mitigate some of the worst effects of increased droughts and floods. But the worst shock lies out quite far in the future: grains have developed over many thousands of years in an unusually moderate and stable climate (moderate, that is, over a scale of hundreds of thousands of years); and selective breeding of the last few hundred years also was done in that moderate environment. Grains simply do not like very high temperatures. By the end of the century, the expected rise in temperature globally is projected by the IPCC to reduce the productivity of grain in traditional areas by 20% to 40% ? numbers so high that the heart sinks given the other problems. Yes, northern climates will benefit (so Canada once again looks like a good ally) but more world-class grain land will be lost than is gained. And do not for a second think that the scientists can be dismissed as exaggerators in the pay of evil foundations as right-wing think tanks would have you believe. The record so far has been one of timid underestimation. Much the majority of scientists hate being in the limelight and live in dread of the accusation of the taint of exaggeration, so severe a crime in the academic world that it is second only to faking data. What the timid scientists forget (this is all driven by career risk just as with institutional investing) is that in this unique case it is underestimating that is dangerous! To put the science clearly in the public domain ? a task so far totally failed at ? is left to a brave handful of scientists willing to be outspoken.
Talk privately to scientists involved in climate research and you find that they believe that almost everything is worse than they feared and accelerating dangerously. A clear example is in the melting of the Northern ice, now down in late summer by 30% from its recent 30-year average to 2005. It is at a level today (and last month was the least ice cover of any June ever) that was forecast 15 years ago for 2050! Dozens of ships last year made commercial voyages across the Northern waters where none had ever gone before 2008. A dangerously reinforcing cycle is at work: the dark ocean absorbs heat where ice reflects it, so the water warms and more ice melts. Other potentially more dangerous loops might also start: the Tundra contains vast methane reserves and methane acts like supercharged CO2. It warms the air and more Tundra melts and so on. For agriculture, which is very sensitive indeed to temperature shifts, it has become a very dangerous world. There is now no safety margin to absorb unexpected hits as we are seeing in the global crisis playing out in the Midwest today.
Paul Ryan using his sincere look while he lies through his teeth.So in 2010, Paul Ryan insisted on a radio show that he had not lobbied for any money for his district from the stimulus. That was a lie, as the Boston Globe and the AP demonstrated in a story from letters they obtained showing Ryan asking administration officials for money for projects back home.
So what happens after that story runs? Ryan lies about it, again. He told a local television station in Oxford, Ohio that he "never asked for stimulus."
Huffington Post follows up.
Ryan's statement directly counters the evidence of four letters obtained by the AP which the congressman wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, praising energy programs supported by the stimulus and requesting funds for initiatives in his district.The letters exist. In each one Ryan is writing to express his support for the grant applications and requesting "prompt and full consideration" of the applications. They're boilerplate support letters, but they are definitely support letters and in them Ryan was definitely lobbying for stimulus money. His spokesman calls it "providing a legitimate constituent service." Which it absolutely is, but it's also asking for money. Which he's now saying he didn't do.
Ryan's private praise for Department of Energy programs and his written requests for stimulus funds contradict not only his public criticism of the 2009 stimulus bill, but also many of the budget priorities he has laid out, including cuts to investments in green technologies.
Romney sure did find his political soul mate with Ryan. Peas in a lying pod.
The Obama campaign has responded by saying that the President is a strong supporter of ethanol as a driver of the economy. The President was speaking in Iowa at the time. But even if you support ethanol - and studies show the corn-based version costs us[...]
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