With the news of Chick-Fil-A's stance against marriage equality, some of us were waiting for the National Organization for Marriage to show its hypocrisy.[...]
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What is a criminal enterprise? According to the FBI, a criminal enterprise is: a group of individuals with an identified hierarchy, or comparable structure, engaged in significant criminal activity. These organizations often engage in[...]
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There?s more! You?ll find a collection of previously published Who Am I teaser images in our Who Am I Gallery. How many can you identify? Occasional Planet?s ?Who Am I? features people who have made important contributions to liberal thought, progressive politics, human rights, enlightened education, and ?small-d? democratic principles?both in the US and internationally. [...]Related posts:
Sorry, did I just say "climate change"?I ought to say Climate Catastrophe. So should you. This will be the first of many posts on climate catastrophe. In my opinion (but not only mine), we're passed the tipping point. And following Dornbusch's Law, having arrived, it's coming on faster than anyone expected. Krugman, with the first bit:The Burning LandI?ve been searching for...
Some years ago, I saw a man in profound emotional distress. The sobs which wracked his body had caused him to collapse to the ground, so weak did they make him. Every few minutes, he emitted a howl of pain, a sound so piercing and unnerving that I hope never to hear its like again. People passed the man in the street. A few of them would pause for a moment, looking awkwardly in his general direction, as if they thought that perhaps they should offer aid in some manner. Then they all walked on. The man remained on the ground, helpless in his immense pain.
After approaching him very slowly, taking care not to move too quickly or unexpectedly, I gently took him in my arms. "I'm here," I kept repeating. "I'll help you in any way I can. I'm here." I held him for many long minutes, softly murmuring the phrases over and over. He eventually began to breathe somewhat more normally. "I'll help you if I can. Please tell me what I can do."
"It's just..." He offered the words so tentatively that I could barely hear them. "It's just...?" I quietly asked. After a few more minutes had passed, he managed to tell me what had upset him so deeply.
A bus had been taking a class of 30 children from a local elementary school, together with three teachers, on a school outing. The bus had veered off a mountain road -- no one had been able to determine why exactly -- and plunged into a ravine. Everyone on board was killed. I had heard the story, of course; everyone had.
"It's just so terrible," the man said. "So, so terrible. All those lives ended so needlessly. All those families torn apart, some of them never to recover. So many possibilities for happiness and joy ended." He was slowly gathering his strength again. "It's monstrous," he said with great emphasis. "How is it possible that such monstrous things can happen?"
I consoled him as best I could, but I took care not to offer empty words of comfort. I told him I recognized that nothing could ever make such events acceptable, that many of the wounds caused by the tragedy would never heal. He seemed grateful that I didn't try to deny or avoid the horror of what had happened.
We talked for several more minutes. Finally, I had to tell him that I needed to go on to a meeting I was expected to attend; I couldn't miss it. But I gave him my card, and I wrote my personal cell phone number on the back, telling him to call me if he wanted to talk about this further, or about anything else at all. As we were parting, I asked him his name, and he told me. I paused for a moment, and looked at him more carefully. Yes, it was the face that went with the name I had been reading about. I somehow managed to mask my realization -- although there was a moment that gave me a bad fright, when I thought he had noticed the change in me that I hoped I had disguised, but it mercifully passed -- and we offered our final goodbyes. I turned away and began walking down the street.
Fortunately, a police car was parked at the corner. I took a deep breath and slowly turned around just enough so that I could glance behind me: the man was slowly walking in the opposite direction. I walked over to the police car and told the officers the name of the man I had just been talking to, and pointed him out to them. They caught him a few minutes later; he was arrested without incident, and without any attendant violence. Later that day, I explained to the police how it was that the man had told me his name. I never made it to the meeting; given the circumstances, everyone understood why.
The man I had talked to and consoled -- the man so overcome with grief that he had been rendered utterly helpless -- was a serial killer who had been sought by law enforcement for over five years. They were certain he was responsible for at least 40 deaths, although the actual number was undoubtedly higher. They were never certain they identified all his victims; he refused to help them in that effort. But he did explain how he chose his victims: he knew, he stated very simply, that the people he killed were bad. How did he know? What was his standard for judgment? He never answered those questions; he seemed to assume the answers should be as self-evident to others as they were to him. But his own victims included children -- yet he regarded them as guilty in the same manner as the adults he killed. And all the people he had killed were completely ordinary. They were no better, and no worse, than you, or me, or tens of millions of other people. His victims weren't famous or prominent in any way, not before he murdered them.
I keep remembering the man as I first met him: collapsed on the ground, sobbing in pain that seemed entirely genuine. Perhaps it was genuine in some way I cannot grasp. He considered the victims of the bus crash to be innocent, as opposed to those he murdered, whom he regarded as guilty beyond all doubt. I came to realize that the mind has an infinite capacity for rationalization and compartmentalization. He apparently recognized no connection whatsoever between the victims of the bus crash and the victims of his crimes. Grief was the appropriate reaction to the bus tragedy, in his view; for his own victims, he never expressed any regret or pity, in even the smallest degree.
But I wonder now. I wonder if I will ever believe someone who tells me he feels immense grief for a tragedy that has befallen another human being. How many cruelties has he himself delivered or excused, cruelties that were undeserved and needless? Does he feel grief about them? I wonder if I will ever trust anyone again. For it seems to me that most people have splintered their minds and their consciences in the same way the killer had. Most people have chosen to shatter their souls so completely that they can never be made whole again. Can such people ever be believed about a matter of great moment?
That is fiction. The awful tragedy in Colorado is not. I do not wonder about the terrible, life-altering grief felt by those individuals immediately affected by these ghastly events: the families and friends of those who were killed and injured, as well as those who were trapped in the theater during those terrifying and endless minutes, together with those who live in Aurora.
But I do wonder about the national paroxysm of grief, the generalized scream of pain offered by every politician and public official from president to trash collector, the public lamentation and wailing, the sickening enthusiasm shown by political tribalists from every point in the spectrum for scoring disgustingly cheap points off the blood-spattered corpses of the victims. Yet that isn't honest of me: I don't wonder about such public displays at all. I view them with deep loathing and contempt. I consider them, without exception, to be the symptoms of irretrievably damaged, narcissistic psychologies. Those who engage in such public displays and political positioning are vile and despicable in a manner that is close to impossible to capture in words. I emphasize again that I am speaking here not of those immediately affected by this tragedy, but of those people who have no direct connection of any kind to the victims and their families.
Out of a multitude of facts that I could offer to explain my judgment, I offer this, from an article in the Asian Tribune about civilian deaths in drone strikes ordered by the United States:
CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004 ? 2012We know that these figures are far from complete, just as we know that the numbers of innocent human beings murdered by the United States government are far, far higher, even if we restrict ourselves to murders in recent years. This is true not only because the U.S. government carries out operations in more than 75 countries around the world. Do not forget the genocide in Iraq.
Total US strikes: 321
Obama strikes: 269
Total reported killed: 2,429 - 3,097
Civilians reported killed: 479 ? 811
Children reported killed: 174
Total reported injured: 1,169-1,281
US Covert Action in Yemen 2002 ? 2012
Total US strikes : 41 - 128
Total US drone strikes: 31 - 67
Total reported killed: 294 - 651
Civilians reported killed: 55 - 105
Children reported killed: 24
US Covert Action in Somalia 2007 ? 2012
Total US strikes: 10 - 21
Total US drone strikes: 3 - 9
Total reported killed: 58 - 169
Civilians reported killed: 11 - 57
Children reported killed: 1 - 3
Now, even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living. The people we lost in Aurora loved and they were loved. They were mothers and fathers; they were husbands and wives; sisters and brothers; sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. They had hopes for the future and they had dreams that were not yet fulfilled.Keeping in mind the murders regularly committed by the U.S. government, and the murders of innocent human beings regularly ordered by Obama himself, we must recognize that these remarks are the equivalent of the expressions of grief offered by the serial killer in my fictional exercise. These are the remarks of a man who has suffered an irreparable break with reality, a man who who has rendered himself unable to connect obviously related facts. If Obama genuinely meant these comments -- if he understood how these remarks apply with far greater force to him ("we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this") -- his realization of the monster he has allowed himself to become would reduce him to gibbering incoherence for the remainder of his life. In varying degrees, the same is true of any individual who remains in the national government at this point.
And if there?s anything to take away from this tragedy it?s the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it?s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it?s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.
enlargeI read this, and I thought to myself, the cops are angry? They know what line of work they're in, they're always targets. How about the parents who sent their kids off to a midnight movie, and thanks to the NRA, have to plan their funerals?
AURORA, Colo. ? The situation was literally explosive in this grieving Denver suburb Saturday as bomb experts disarmed the booby-trapped apartment of James Holmes, who police said spent months amassing explosives, weapons and ammunition and then walked into a movie theater early Friday and began shooting.
The failed neuroscience student, who is scheduled to appear in court Monday, remains an enigma ? a young man who, despite troubles in academia so severe that he was quitting his graduate school program, showed no obvious sign of being on the brink of extreme violence.
The police chief, Dan Oates, said he and his officers felt targeted by the elaborate network of explosives in Holmes?s apartment.
?This apartment was designed, I say, based on everything I?ve seen, to kill whoever entered it,? Oates said at a news briefing. ?It was gonna be a police officer, okay? Make no mistake about what was going on there. You think we?re angry, we sure as hell are angry.?
Aurora police said Saturday night that all explosives had been removed from the apartment and that FBI agents had gone inside to examine other evidence.
The protracted bomb-squad work at Holmes?s apartment took place on a day when Aurora residents learned the names of the 12 people killed and 58 wounded in the assault at the Century 16 movie theater, where a crowd of mostly young people showed up for the midnight screening early Friday of the new Batman film, ?The Dark Knight Rises.?
Among the dead were two members of the military, a man celebrating his 27th birthday and a 6-year-old girl, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, whose 25-year-old mother, Ashley Moser, is in critical condition and semiconscious with multiple gunshot wounds to her throat and abdomen.
by Dana Nucitelli, via Skeptical Science
As we know, it is absolutely critical that we reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as much as possible, as soon as possible, to minimize the damage that climate change will do.
Thus the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) endangerment finding – which concluded that GHGs are pollutants as defined by the Clean Air Act and must therefore be regulated – is a critical document. Although there have been steps taken by individual states (i.e. RGGI and California) to regulate GHG emissions, we have had little success in implementing measures to reduce emissions on a national level, other than piecemeal steps like higher vehicle fuel efficiency standards which are often implemented for other non-climate reasons. There are of course many individuals who oppose the EPA endangerment finding for two main reasons, (i) they oppose any steps to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and (ii) they oppose any government regulations.
Unfortunately the American political party environmental policy positions have shifted. In the 1980s, political liberals tended to favor government regulation as the solution to environmental problems, while political conservatives in the Reagan and Bush administrations came up with the concept of cap and trade systems to use the free market to solve them. To the conservatives’ credit, cap and trade systems have worked remarkably well – the up-front costs were much lower than originally predicted, and they have saved Americans tens to hundreds of billions of dollars. Now cap and trade is the favored solution to GHG emissions amongst political liberals in the USA, while the conservatives who originated the concept now generally oppose it, instead choosing to reject climate science and deny the problem exists at all.
Since these conservatives have successfully blocked attempts to implement a cap and trade or other carbon pricing system, we are left with government regulation (via the EPA and its endangerment finding) as the only alternative to reduce GHG emissions from large emitters. Into this scene enter serial data deleter Patrick Michaels and his fossil fuel-funded Cato Institute political think tank, which have released a voluminous report attempting to undermine the endangerment finding, with their misguided efforts of course being promoted by the usual climate denial enablers.
In this post, we will examine some of the key findings in the Cato report and demonstrate how they are flawed, and that Michaels and Cato unwittingly acknowledge that the EPA is correct about the threat of human-caused climate change in the process.
The EPA endangerment finding was based on several major climate science reports, such as the IPCC report and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) report Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. The USGCRP report listed 10 key findings which Michaels and Cato have ‘tweaked’ to reflect their own perception of the science. The first key finding of each:
USGCRP: Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.
Cato: Climate change is unequivocal and human activity plays some part in it.
In other words, Michaels and Cato dispute that humans are the primary cause of the 20th Century global warming/climate change. To support this position, they refer to page 16 of their report, which essentially just rehashes the myth that because the 1910-1945 rate of warming was similar to that since 1975, the latter warming may be natural.
“The first warming is not likely to be associated with greenhouse gas changes, and the lack of statistically significant warming since 1996, which is concurrent with the greatest increases in greenhouse gases, is of unknown importance at this time.”
As it so happens, there were significant human GHG emissions in the early 20th Century, which caused atmospheric CO2 levels to rise from 300 to 310 parts per million by volume (ppmv) from 1910 to 1945. This CO2 rise alone would have caused approximately 0.1°C surface warming, which is approximately 20% of the total observed warming during that period.
More importantly, the Cato argument is intellectually lazy, because it fails to actually examine the causes of these warming periods. A number of climate scientists have conducted attribution studies and universally find that while the 1910-1945 warming was predominantly caused by natural effects (i.e. increasing solar activity and an extended period of low volcanic activity), the warming over the past 50 years has been dominated by human GHG emissions (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Net human and natural percent contributions to the observed global surface warming over the past 50-65 years according to Tett et al. 2000 (T00, dark blue), Meehl et al. 2004 (M04, red), Stone et al. 2007 (S07, green), Lean and Rind 2008 (LR08, purple), Huber and Knutti 2011 (HK11, light blue), and Gillett et al. 2012 (G12, orange).
And of course while the warming since 1996 (this date being selected with a juicy cherrypick) may not quite be statistically significant at a 95% confidence level, surface temperatures have most likely warmed approximately 0.2°C over the past 15 years – a fact which Cato and Michaels conveniently neglect to mention.
In short, on this point the USGCRP report and EPA endangerment finding are based on a sound review of all the scientific evidence, while Michaels’ Cato argument is based on two characteristics of scientific denialism – misrepresentation and logical fallacies, and cherrypicking.
In fact, misrepresentation and logical fallacies are the preferred method by which Michaels and Cato dispute the USGCRP report and EPA endangerment finding. For example, in response to the conclusion that climate change will stress water sources, Michaels and Cato argue that water sources have been stressed in the past, and therefore will be stressed in the future “with or without human-induced climate change.” While this is certainly a true statement, it does not follow that we should increase the frequency and magnitude of water resource stress by increasing evaporation, drought frequency, water loss from plants, etc., as the USGCRP report notes will occur as human-induced climate change increases.
Similarly, while the USGCRP report notes that continuing climate change will cause various thresholds to be crossed, leading to large changes in ecosystems, Michaels and Cato respond again by saying that ecosystems will change with or without human-induced climate change. Again, it does not follow that we should increase the frequency and magnitude at which a dangerous event happens just because this type of event will eventually happen naturally.
While this is a glaring logical fallacy, Michaels and Cato follow with perhaps an even greater fallacy, arguing that climate change does not pose a threat because we may be able to adapt to it.
Throughout the report, Michaels takes a similar position as that espoused by his colleague Chip Knappenberger with regards to heat fatalities. In fact, Michaels references the same paper as Knappenberger when making this argument, which the two co-authored with Robert Davis in 2003, which coincidentally was one of the Climate Research ‘pal review’ papers we recently discussed.
The long and short of it is that the EPA endangerment finding is predicated on the fact that human-caused climate change poses a threat to public health and welfare, but Michaels and Cato argue that it’s not a threat because we can adapt to it. As one example (though the Cato report contains many other similar arguments) they point to their Davis et al. (2003) ‘pal review’ paper which argues that heat-related deaths are less common in hotter cities. From this Knappenberger actually argued that more frequent heat waves will actually lead to fewer heat-related deaths, which is another rather glaring logical fallacy, and also not borne out by the data.
However, the most glaring logical fallacy here involves the conclusion that climate change does not pose a threat because we can adapt to it. In reality, if climate change did not pose a threat, we would not need to adapt to it. For example, the only reason people would need to adapt to more frequent heat waves is because they pose a threat to human welfare.
As Lonnie Thompson put it, “The only question is how much we will mitigate, adapt, and suffer” to human-caused climate change. Adaptation has a cost, and a much greater overall cost than mitigation, but the point that Michaels and Cato miss is that the possibility that we may be able to adapt to a threat does not negate the existence of that threat – quite the contrary. We may or may not be able to successfully adapt to those threats, but that question is predicated on the fact that the threats exist, and therefore the EPA endangerment finding is correct.
By arguing that climate change poses threats that we may be able to adapt to, Michaels and Cato have unwittingly acknowledged that the EPA is right to regulate GHG emissions due to the threat they pose to public welfare.
The final USGCRP ‘key finding’ notes that “future climate change and its impacts will depend on choices made today“, effectively echoing the conclusions of the Australian Climate Commission’s The Critical Decade report that we are running out of time to sufficiently reduce our GHG emissions. Michaels and Cato responded by claiming that developed nations’ emissions reductions won’t matter, because our emissions will be dwarfed by those from developing nations like China.
This is of course the CO2 limits will make little difference ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ myth. In reality, developing nations like China are making efforts to limit their GHG emissions growth, because they recognize the threat posed by human-caused climate change. However, developing nations understandably want developed nations – which are responsible for most of the human-caused climate change thus far – to lead the way in emissions reductions. If developed nations like the USA sit on our hands and say “our emissions don’t matter,” then China will have no incentive to reduce their emissions either. This is an example of Tragedy of the Commons whereby everybody looks out for their own best interests at the detriment of the collective best interest.
Every nation can say “our emissions by themselves are too small to matter,” and if everybody takes this approach, nobody will reduce emissions. This is why we need international climate agreements in which all nations commit to reducing their emissions. However, the USA (which should be leading the way as the largest historical emitter) cannot commit to serious emissions reduction goals if groups like Cato are successful in undermining climate legislation on a national level.
It’s an effective Catch-22. Cato argues that US emissions won’t matter because China’s emissions will be too large, China won’t commit to emissions reductions unless the USA leads the way, and the USA can’t lead the way with groups like Cato successfully undermining national climate legislation.
Until US policymakers move beyond the Cato-style climate logical fallacies, the EPA regulation of large GHG emitters via the endangerment finding is the only large-scale emissions reductions effort we have. Instead of using the characteristics of scientific denialism to deny the threat exists, the Cato Institute should return to its conservative roots and support a free market solution to the problem via a carbon pricing mechanism. In the meantime, the climate threat will only continue to grow until it eventually reaches the point where it becomes undeniable – but at that point it may be too late to avoid the suffering Lonnie Thompson has warned us about.
Note: A federal appeals court emphatically upheld the endangerment finding, concluding that the EPA was ?unambiguously correct? that the Clean Air Act requires the federal government to impose limits once it has determined that emissions are causing harm. In a blow to climate contrarians like Michaels and Cato,the judges wrote “This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”
– Dana Nucitelli. This piece was originally published at Skeptical Science and was reprinted with permission.
Steven Pearlstein, the Washington Post business columnist, often writes insightful pieces on the economy, not today. The thrust of his piece is that we all should be hopeful that a group of incredibly rich CEOs can engineer a coup.While the rest of us[...]
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Some friends of mine are getting ready to launch a new endeavor, Sprokk, the next step in social media. In the most simplistic terms, it's like an audio version of Twitter and the potential seems unlimited. Lee Rogers, a tech-savvy physician and progressive candidate for Congress, was the first political figure to give them a message, which you can usually see on their home page beta. Let's hope Chuck Grassley never finds it. Meanwhile, Twitter has embedded itself firmly into the fabric of 21st century communications in general-- and political communications specifically. It may be all about 140 characters but I probably get as much as 80% of my breaking news from Twitter now. In his feature for Adweek last May, Charlie Warzel is clear: "Twitter," he writes, "has become a veritable particle accelerator for news cycles and political battles... It is, for better or worse, the center of the political conversation, and it is transforming the way political campaigns and those who cover them do business."
?What happens on Twitter does not stay on Twitter-- it is not Las Vegas,? says Peter Greenberger, Twitter?s director of political ad sales in Washington, D.C. And if anyone in Washington has reason to smile these days, it?s him.
...Part of the reason for Twitter?s accelerated importance in the zeitgeist of political coverage stems from its stunning growth over the past three years. Last March, the company announced that it had achieved 140 million active users, up from 100 million last fall. Every day, Twitter hosts roughly 340 million new tweets.
To put that in perspective, it took Twitter three years, two months and one day to serve up 1 billion tweets; it now does that volume every three days. the New York Times? David Carr likened Twitter to ?a river of data.? Still others compare it to a violent gusher. Call it what you will: The tweets will flow with or without you.
This year?s presidential contest has already been pitched as the first truly digital election, despite the fact that politicos dubbed both the 2004 and 2008 elections as such. With each new election cycle comes proclamations about the latest technology?s impact. In 2004, it was the rise of the blogs. In 2008, CNN and many others asked whether that election would be won or lost on Facebook. This year, Twitter is home base to the political discourse, and journalists have set up shop to make sure they don?t miss a moment.
Take Ben Smith, the politically engaged editor in chief of the social site BuzzFeed. Smith averages 19.4 daily tweets and uses the information stream to stay in front of each day?s news cycle. For Smith and many like him, Twitter is more than a journalistic tool. ?Twitter is not only driving the conversation, it is transforming the design of the modern newsroom,? he says.
But it isn?t just Smith and BuzzFeed that are doubling down on Twitter; newsrooms across the country have bent to the social network?s will. ?It?s the best place right now to reach the central opinion makers and that conversation is really where you want to be,? says Smith.
For Ethan Klapper, social media editor, politics, for the Huffington Post, Twitter affords the 22-year-old a peculiar vantage point as he oversees the campaign trail far from the stump speeches and cross-country bus tours.
Klapper, like many young journalists, has been thrust into an elevated position due in part to his fluency monitoring the pulse of the chattering classes via the social medium.
?I often find myself getting home from work and opening up TweetDeck,? Klapper says. In fact, he rarely ventures far from the feed. ?When it comes to the real-time news/debate element, Twitter reigns supreme,? the editor says.
...?People on Twitter like the drama of campaigns,? [Republican consultant Vincent] Harris says. ?I think that?s why they?re on Twitter. I think they?d be bored if there wasn?t this constant chatter, and I think you?re going to continue seeing campaigns go to Twitter as a means to pick those fights.?
An increasingly hostile environment means more work for campaigns, always struggling to speed their reaction times and dominate the public opinion.
?In 1992, during the Clinton/Gore campaign, the idea of rapid response was responding within the news cycle,? Greenberger points out. ?If you got hit at a morning news conference, you have to respond before the evening news. Rapid response is in real-time for the first time. So you have to adjust communications strategy accordingly. The velocity of this is new and it will take people time to adjust.?
With the general election all but officially begun, Zac Moffatt, digital director of the Romney campaign, doesn?t have time to adjust. Moffatt and his team are in unchartered digital territory, and Twitter is but one of their concerns.
Says Moffatt: ?I definitely think Twitter has and will have a huge impact on this election, but it has to be recognized that, even with all the talk, even if you had the greatest Twitter strategy out there, I?m not sure you would win on that alone. In fact, I know you wouldn?t.?
...Greenberger tells those involved with campaigns that they must ?be committed to tweeting and working on the platform.? Moffatt agrees that a successful Twitter strategy requires serious commitment.
?With the message, you have to make it timely and relevant,? Moffatt says. ?If we put out a tweet, it can become the largest driver to our site, and it has become a huge point for us to engage with people.? That level of engagement comes with a price: Promoted trends run roughly $120,000 per day.
That?s hardly a bargain, but the payoff can be enormous. Besides its impact on messaging, Twitter is also becoming an important fundraising tool. ?Twitter was a top eight referrer to the Gingrich campaign in terms of where money was being raised,? Harris reports. ?For some of my other clients, it is an even more powerful fundraising tool than Facebook.?
Still, as vital as Twitter has become for political campaigns, there is a dark side. For anyone wiling away his days and nights on TweetDeck, fatigue becomes a very real thing, for campaign staffers and journalists alike. In a world routinely grown weary of micro scoops, memes and never-ending political posturing, a social media slipup can mean lost jobs, and lost campaigns.
?There?s so much chance for burnout,? warns Harris. ?I think that does scare campaigns. It is terrifying in some ways to think that anyone from my staff or anyone who has access to a campaign Twitter account could instantly tweet out to over 1 million people whatever they want to say. And once it?s out there, it?s out there.?
The issue raises real questions about the restructuring of campaigns in the social media age. Should younger staffers who are more fluent in the medium be handed the reins? Or should senior staffers who can be trusted to stay on message-- and stay out of trouble?be given social media oversight?
Says Harris: ?It could be 140 characters that nails the coffin, begging the question: Who do you trust?? Social strategy has become so sensitive, in fact, that the Obama campaign?s digital team refused Adweek?s requests for an interview.
At the end of the day, the position of the campaigns seems to be: Mistakes be damned-- let the information flow. The question is, for how long? ?Facebook has become part of the plumbing of the Internet, and I really think Twitter is right on the cusp of doing the same,? says Smith.
?Twitter has definitely embedded itself into the fabric of the Internet,? seconds Klapper.
While it is impossible to know whether Twitter will endure as a political force, what?s become clear is that 2012 is living up to the hype as ?the Twitter election.?
Mitt Romney has gotten extremely popular on Twitter in the last 24 hours. In fact, he is receiving 25 new followers per second as I write this.
What?s happening? It seems to have started Friday, when Romney?s typical average of 3-4,000 per day increased some twenty fold to over 62,000 in a single day, according to TwitterCounter.com. But the new followers are highly suspect. From ?empty? accounts to pornbots, spambots, Justin Beiber-related accounts, Obama supporters and foreign accounts, the followers tell a puzzling tale, suggesting spam automation, purchased traffic or perhaps even sabotage.
Accounts like ?@banvardrazjzk? or ?@etonyge? have ten or less tweets, some containing gobbledygook characters and despite only following a few accounts themselves, they each have hundreds of followers, implying it?s part of a mass-generated fake account network.
...With some onlookers assuming the Romney campaign is buying accounts to pad his numbers, we highly doubt they would be so clumsy. Last summer, Newt Gingrich received embarrassing national press when he had 1.3 million followers at a time no other GOP candidate even had 100,000 followers. The news then had sport reporting over 90% were fake accounts.
Just yesterday, Rush Limbaugh was exposed as it was discovered that New Delhi was the most popular source for ?shares? on his ?Rush Babes for America? Facebook promotion. This suggested he was outsourcing ?astroturf? by paying experts in India to pad his traffic figures and perceived female support.
Here's an essay by Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN, retired) that encapsulates the problem Republicans will have in trying to block the expansion of health care insurance for those who are not insured. Writing in The Week:
Why both parties should embrace ObamaCare's state exchangesWhile you may remember Bill Frist as an ex-majority leader in the Senate during the Bush years, don't forget this part of Frist's resume:
Largely lost in the fight over ObamaCare is a worthy provision that lets states develop insurance systems that are right for them ? but they must act soon
posted on July 18, 2012
He is a fourth-generation Tennessean. His great-great grandfather was one of the founders of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and his father was a doctor and founded the health care business organization which became Hospital Corporation of America. Frist's brother, Thomas Jr., became chairman and chief executive of Hospital Corporation of America in 1997.Have any doubts that Frist is aiming at GOP governors? Here's what he pointedly says:
Enacting some sort of exchange establishment legislation is expected to be crucial to receiving federal approval for a state-run exchange. And though some GOP governors refuse to set up an exchange of their own, I see little advantage for states to default to the federally designed, one-size-fits-all exchange when they can design and run their own.On the one hand there will be political pressure to avoid any cooperation at all. This effort (pdf), for example, is a letter from Republican members of Congress encouraging governors to avoid any cooperation with state exchanges.
(Continue reading below the fold.)