Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson says that people are taking away the wrong lessons from JPMorgan’s $2 billion loss on a proprietary trade gone bad. He has some legitimate points but carries his case too far. First, he notes that this bet[...]
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With Wisconsin Democrats putting pressure on the national Democratic party to step up in the effort to recall Scott Walker, the Democratic National Committee is reaffirming its support, but it's still not committing actual money.
The Democratic Governors Association has already spent $2 million on the recall, but there's still no definite answer on the $500,000 the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has requested from the DNC:
"The DNC will use both its substantial network of activists and supporters as well as extensive online resources to develop the ground game" in Wisconsin, Roussell said. She declined to comment on whether or not the committee would make any financial investments in the race, but said "the DNC is fully committed to helping Mayor Barrett win the election."
Both the DNC and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin emphasize that the DNC hasn't yet said it would not contribute to the recall effort financially. But in a close election that will be determined by turnout, time is running short for Wisconsin Democrats and the Barrett campaign to have their GOTV plans in place?and that requires knowing how much money they'll have.
When my friend Brandy asked me to accompany her to a ?women?s arm wrestling event? a few months ago I happily obliged. As it turned out I was about to participate in the first ever meeting of the ?Boston Arm Wrestling Dames,? or BAWD, a local branch of the Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLAW).
I recently came across two posts by Salty Eggs? staff writer Tara Nieuwesteeg that tackled the sport – particularly whether events like the one I attended – are feminist in nature. In the first post, ?Ladies Arm Wrestling is a Thing,? Nieuwesteeg writes:
It?s not completely clear why this is a feminist endeavor. Yes, it?s females doing something cool. As with roller derby, here are a shit-ton of like-minded people who probably feel very strongly on things like reproductive rights, equal work for equal pay, women?s healthcare, and a general message of promoting women as people. Don?t get me wrong: What they?re doing is awesome. But should ladies? arm wrestling really take off (which I suspect it will), it would be nice to see these women use their collective arm strength for something not just awesome, but maybe a little bigger, too.
In the original posting, Nieuwesteeg?s commentary was prompted as a reaction to a NYT article that called the sport ?feminist.? However, after hearing from participants, and supporters of CLAW and its chapters, she was still hesitant to apply the label, titling a follow up post, Is Lady Arm Wrestling Feminist? Yes, But…
As with many commenters on the original article I was unsure about why Nieuwesteeg questions whether these events are feminist in nature. She answered, in the follow up, by addressing commenters and arm wrestlers directly:??Calling something ?feminism? just because it consists of women doing something fun and bad-ass isn?t enough anymore.??
The mission of CLAW is to ?empower women and strengthen local communities through theater, arm wrestling, and philanthropy.? Yet somehow, this mission falls short of feminism in Nieuwesteeg?s view because it is somehow not enough or perhaps too frivolous.
Here?s where I disagree with her – and with the ?but? in the title. As I posted on twitter, there?s always room for any of us to do more or do bigger , but what does ?bigger? mean? And what qualifies as big enough to be feminist? While CLAW is fairly young as an organization, it?s had an impressive impact in its short existence – and it continues to grow at a rapid pace with leagues springing up all over the country. (Boston is about to host it?s second ?brawl? and has already had to switch to a much larger venue).
Poking around on the CLAW main site, and visiting the sites and pages of a few other affiliated chapters, it?s easy to see the reach the wrestlers and these events have had. During the inaugural event I mentioned earlier, the Boston arm wrestlers raised $2,000 for Elizabeth Stone House, a local charity that works with homeless families and helps victims of domestic violence. CLAW reports over $175,000 raised for charities ranging from domestic violence shelters, family planning advocates, rape crisis centers, LGBTQ organizations, and many many more.
I would argue that CLAW, and its spinoff organizations, are not about just fun and bad-assery (and even if they were, why does that exclude them from feminism). At their core, the arm wrestling events that CLAW puts on are about empowering women whether through entertainment or advocacy – and I fail to see what is not feminist about that. Moreover, womens? arm wrestling is a subversive form of entertainment. Having attended a bout in my home city, I can say, confidently, that this is not anything near what you?ll find on main stream television – this is not male-gaze driven entertainment – it?s about women?s voices.
I find something inherently troubling and dangerous for feminism as a whole if, within the movement, we are questioning the identities of those participating in events like womens’ arm wrestling bouts. CLAW provides a safe space for women to embody characters, satirize pop culture, politics and current events, while socializing and effecting meaningful change in their own communities. Why, I wonder, does it seem to Nieuwesteeg that these things need to be exclusive?
While I don?t believe it was the intention, Nieuwesteeg?s posts are indicative of a problematic and exclusionary attitude prevalent in the overall movement today. Personally, I find it neither productive, nor helpful, to question the identity of anyone who self identifies as feminist or to infer that their own particular brand of activism is lesser because it does not meet some as yet determined standard.
As women (and feminists) we?ve got enough on our plates finding our own spaces and making our voices heard – does publicly diminishing the efforts of other women, by suggesting they ?do more,? really help? There?s a suggestion in here that the women involved in arm wrestling events do more – without really knowing, fully, what it is that they all do, or are inspired to do by these events, in the first place.
by Peter Lehner, via NRDC’s Switchboard
In a recent PBS documentary, the mayor of Norfolk, Virginia, Paul Fraim, talks about how flooding has become a monthly occurrence in his town, and how global warming and sea level rise are as much a daily issue for him as education and fighting crime. In some parts of Norfolk, streets turn into rivers at high tide. Homes are flooded five out of six years. People lose their carpets, their appliances, their savings. And they can’t afford to move elsewhere.
Sea levels have risen 14 inches in Norfolk since 1930–almost double the global rate. Part of this alarming change is due to the natural sinking of the area’s soggy tidal lands, but part of it is due to the rising sea levels brought about by global warming. Like stranded polar bears in the North Pole, like disappearing island nations in the Pacific, waterlogged Norfolk is yet another symbol of global warming at work. And even though Norfolk is within spitting distance of our nation’s capital, Congress still hasn’t seemed to grasp the seriousness of the situation.
Turning a blind eye to the realities of global warming is a dangerous game. Scientists predict that sea levels will rise anywhere from 7 inches to 78 inches in the next 100 years (depending, in part, on how much we do to curb global warming pollution), which means that in a few generations, nearly five million people who currently live within 4 feet of high tide could be in the same boat as the residents of Norfolk.
New research shows that global warming will double the chance of a hundred-year flood occurring in many locations within the next 18 years. In some areas, the chance is tripled.
Nearly half the states in the nation will be affected by rising sea levels. Despite these odds, for the most part, we are financially, structurally, and administratively unprepared to deal with the most immediate consequences of global warming.
Bailing out after a flood is a major expense not only for swamped cities, but for taxpayers all over the country. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, spent more than $100,000 per home in Norfolk to raise residences above expected water levels. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), run by FEMA, is nearly $18 billion in debt, and has had to borrow money from the Treasury to stay afloat.
Part of the problem is that federal insurance coverage is based on maps which only take historical data into account, and make no predictions about future flooding. This is senseless: we know perfectly well we’re looking at a future unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. So-called “century” floods are practically a yearly occurrence in some areas. Frequent, furious storms and higher seas are the new normal. The Norfolk-Virginia Beach area ranks 10th in the world for assets most at risk due to rising sea levels. Miami ranks first.
Private insurers have a pretty good idea of what the future will hold–they’ve basically gotten out of the market for disaster coverage in high-risk flood areas, making federal insurance the only option. The U.S. Navy knows the score, too: they’ve commissioned a study to find out how global warming will affect their activities in Norfolk, where it runs the largest naval base in the world, home to the U.S. Atlantic fleet and 54,000 active duty personnel. Researchers are modeling how rising sea levels and more frequent, intense storms might affect naval operations and facilities, possibly delaying performance for hours or resulting in, as the military says, “mission impairment.”
Some states are doing their part to prepare for the reality of sea level rise. California has a comprehensive climate adaptation plan, which includes directives for state agencies to assess and reduce the risks of sea level rise to construction projects in flood-risk areas. Massachusetts is working to conserve and restore critical wetlands and buffer zones to enhance natural flood protection. Pennsylvania, even though it’s not on the coast, faces threats to its water supply from saltwater intrusion into the Delaware River. The state is turning to green infrastructure to improve water quality, using features like green roofs and rain gardens to absorb excess stormwater and reduce the flow of sediment and pollution into waterways.
It’s Congress that seems unable to confront the reality of global warming, a head-in-the-sand approach that puts our property, our health, and our money at risk. The NFIP, by providing insurance coverage for buildings in flood-prone areas, is actually encouraging development where, practically speaking, there should be none. The program should focus on incentives that will help homeowners prepare their homes to better withstand flooding, saving lives and lowering the cost of rebuilding. Studies estimate that prevention and mitigation strategies save $4 dollars for every dollar spent. The intention of the program was to help people in need, and it should continue to do so. But basing coverage on inaccurate, unscientific maps doesn’t do anyone any favors. It’s misleading to homeowners and all taxpayers who share the burden of the costs of flooding.
Ignoring the threat of rising seas leaves too many people in harms’ way. We need to step up efforts to reduce global warming pollution, and make plans to ensure that our homes, our businesses, and our health are protected. This is where the government needs to play its role as defender of the public interest, and start seriously examining the consequences of global warming.
Peter Lehner is the Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. This piece was originally published at NRDC’s Switchboard and was re-posted with permission.
When Colorado Rep. Don Coram (R) cast the deciding vote killing civil unions Monday night in committee, he oddly referenced that he has a gay son ? perhaps trying to sugarcoat how anti-gay his decision was. Now, that son, Dee Coram, has spoken out about his father’s failure of leadership, noting that Rep. Coram previously supported letting the full House vote on the bill ? where it would have passed:
DEE CORAM: He did say at that time if it goes to the floor, I will vote no. But at that time his stance was that the committee should send it and let the House vote on it. He was given an opportunity here to actually be a leader, and I guess he didn’t take that leadership role. And it’s disappointing to see that on something like this, he said it should have gone to the House floor for a vote. Essentially he prevented that from happening.
Listen to Coram’s comments and his father’s response:
Rep. Coram claimed that he thought it was “appropriate” to discuss his gay son, but he voted against the bill because his constituents don’t support it ? though 62 percent of Coloradans do. Apparently, Coram even supports civil unions, but felt the word “spouse” appeared too many times in the bill’s language. As the Gill Foundation’s Leah Pryor-Lease noted on Twitter in the wake of Coram’s vote, “Wonder if Rep. Coram’s district will be coming to his house for Christmas instead of his gay son.”
Now this is one of the most interesting strategies I've seen in a long time, and it makes perfect sense. After all, the filibuster is nothing but an informal arrangement, not something codified into law. This would make for a more representative body - and no, I don't care that it would still apply if the Republicans take control of the Senate:
The nonpartisan nonprofit Common Cause sued the U.S. Senate on Monday, challenging the constitutionality of the filibuster rules that require routine 60-vote thresholds for bills and nominations that often have majority support.
Several House Democrats and three undocumented students who would be aided by the so-called DREAM Act also joined the suit.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, comes at a time of increased partisan gridlock in the Senate and amid complaints the filibuster is being abused by minority Republicans.
From 1981 to 2006, both parties used the filibuster when they were in the minority. During that period, the majority party in each Congress filed fewer than 90 cloture motions to overcome a filibuster by the minority.
But since Democrats seized power in fall 2006, Republicans have turned to the filibuster far more frequently. The majority has averaged about 140 cloture motions in both the 110th and 111th Congress. And Democrats are on
pace to repeat that feat again this Congress.
In early 2011, an effort by junior Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) to water down the filibuster failed in the face of opposition from more senior lawmakers. Part of the reason it?s been so difficult to overhaul the filibuster is because it requires two-thirds of senators ? or 67 votes ? to make any changes to Senate rules.
?They are putting the Senate in a straitjacket,? said Stephen Spaulding, staff counsel for Common Cause. ?They cannot adopt their own rules, and that?s an issue we think the courts should settle.?
If Mitt Romney really thought talking about his record as CEO of Bain Capital was a pure positive, wouldn't he be eager to answer questions from reporters? Instead he's not only dodging their questions, his campaign is actually trying to prevent them from asking the questions in the first place:
This was an error on the part of the campaign staff and volunteers. We have reminded them that press is allowed on the rope line to record the governor?s interactions with voters.But not, apparently, to ask questions.
Sunday talk show rosterPolitico's Dylan Byers weighed in Wednesday morning with a theory about why the Sunday talk shows haven't booked Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein. It's all because "none of these shows want to appear partisan."
Prompted by Greg Sargent's commentary, I noted Tuesday that Mann and Ornstein's hotly discussed op-ed saying Republican extremism is behind government dysfunctionalism ought to be the topic of at least one of the Sunday talk shows. Their format is tailor-made for the kind of in-depth dissection that such a thesis deserves. And yet, the two men have not been invited on any of the shows to explain themselves.
Byers called CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC to ask why not and got what he called a "nearly unanimous" response: They don't comment on their booking practices. "Nearly unanimous" would suggest that one out of the four did explain why the two men hadn't been booked. But we aren't told what that one said. Instead:
Worth noting, too, that all of these shows have a pretty significant backlog of potential guests, and only an hour each week. But there's a fair chance the thesis is being overlooked because none of these shows want to appear partisan.Apparently, Byers sleeps in on Sundays. I don't blame him. But as I documented by not sleeping in over a 16-month period, and others also have demonstrated here and here and here and here and here, the Sunday talk shows are relentlessly partisan. A partisanship that favors Republicans when Republicans are in power and out of power.
Perhaps, if they didn't dial up John McCain every Friday to see if he's available to discuss whatever they decide needs discussing, some headway could be made on that "backlog of potential guests."
John shoots down David Brooks?s claim that ?If you look at the fundamentals, the president should be getting crushed right now.? John points out (as does Ezra Klein) that if you look at the fundamentals, you?d expect a close election. OK, there are lots of ways of looking at politics, elections, and the economy, and I?m sure that some forecasts give Obama a bit lead. But that?s hardly a consensus reading of the fundamentals. The more parsimonious reading here is that Brooks was (a) misinformed and (b) didn?t know with whom to talk to get informed.
I?m reminded of the statements last December from second-string pundit Gregg Easterbrook that (a) if Newt Gingrich were to become the Republican nominee, he?d have a 10 percent chance of beating Obama, and (b) ?If I am Barack Obama, I want to run against Mitt Romney.?
Easterbrook didn?t seem to realize that if you put these two pieces together, you get the claim that Romney has less than a 10 percent chance of winning. (Intrade currently has Romney at 40 percent. At the time of Easterbrook?s post, Intrade had Romney with a 33 percent chance of being elected president in 2012, unconditional on the results of the Republican nomination.)
I have no objection to Brooks arguing that the political science models are wrong, just as there?s nothing wrong with Easterbrook arguing that the punters on Intrade are deluded. But I?d like to see them make the actual argument, to confront the implications of what they?re saying.
One aspect of innumeracy is seeing numbers as words, as rhetorical expressions rather than as quantities that can be added and subtracted, multiplied and divided. That?s what?s going on when Brooks talks about the fundamentals without looking, when Easterbrook throws out a bunch of predictions without checking their coherence, or when Reid Hastie thinks there?s a there?s a 20 percent chance ?that a massive flood will occur sometime in the next year and drown more than 1,000 Americans.?
Also, deadline pressure. These guys don?t get to blog whenever they want, like we do. And they?re not rewarded for making sense, they?re rewarded for getting attention. Maybe even this sort of attention is ok for them!