Back at the end of 2010 I enumerated a year end list — the biggest threats to the nation’s security. They were all internal and that old list is here.
All the threats still exist. But number 4 on the list — the Republican Party — has climbed to the top. And that is because since December 2010, the stakes have become higher, the disasters greater. Even less has been done.
At the time:
The Republican Party is a threat to security. And not solely because of its descent into right-wing extremism …
As the party that denies science, one that will put people in committee chairmanships overseeing science and technology issues in the House who are basically opposed to science whenever it contradicts their political views, the GOP poses a threat to America’s future.
You can’t have a forward-looking and capable nation with people in power who truly believe global warming and evolution are hoaxes.
During the past election, global warming was a third rail issue. The President would not speak of it.
In fact, about the only thing he would talk about with any connection to it was how avid a developer of fossil fuels he would be. And Mitt Romney made a joke of global warming it at the Republican National Convention.
And then came Sandy, a storm so violent it delivered notice that in the future there would be more of the same.
The nation’s lifelines — its roads, airports, railways and transit systems — are getting hammered by extreme weather beyond what their builders imagined, leaving states and cities searching for ways to brace for more catastrophes like Superstorm Sandy.
Even as they prepare for a new normal of intense rain, historic floods and record heat waves, some transportation planners find it too politically sensitive to say aloud the source of their weather worries: climate change.
Political differences are on the minds of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, whose advice on the design and maintenance of roads and bridges is closely followed by states. The association recently changed the name of its Climate Change Steering Committee to the less controversial Sustainable Transportation, Energy Infrastructure and Climate Solutions Steering Committee.
Still, there is a recognition that the association’s guidance will need to be updated to reflect the new realities of global warming.
In the immediate future, global warming is going to cost life. It means the continuing destruction of infrastructure on a national scale. We can only cope with it.
But at this time the gift of the Republican Party has made movement on the issue, except in sneaking inches by government agency, impossible. The GOP has successfully convinced almost half the nation to share in its dangerous know-nothing-ism, aided and abetted by reactionary mega-corporate interests, plutocrat money and the fossil fuel industries which choose to maintain a status quo at the expense of everyone else.
“[Several] climate scientists say sea level along New York and much of the Northeast is about a foot higher than a century ago, mostly because of man-made global warming, and that added significantly to the damage when Sandy hit,” wrote the AP.
Yet, “In conservative states, the term ‘climate change’ is often associated with left-leaning politics … Planning for weather extremes is hampered by reluctance among many officials to discuss anything labeled ‘climate change’ … The Obama administration has also shied away from talking publicly about adaptation to climate change. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s office refused to allow any department officials to be interviewed by The Associated Press …”
It is not a bipartisan issue. The Republican Party and its bankrollers are entirely responsible for paralyzing a national response to global warming and accurate assessment and preparation for catastrophic weather. Democratic politicians won’t address it because to speak of it immediately mobilizes millions of dollars against them in re-election campaigns, all furnished by the radical right.
If it were Switzerland, Luxembourg or Andorra perhaps this would not matter. But we are not those countries and it very obviously does matter.
And it should come as a source of great outrage to the American people that the Republican Party would appoint a science-denier, Lamar Smith of Texas, to chair that body’s science panel. One can look at it as purely a political step taken to help guarantee paralysis as a national response.
The paralysis also infiltrates security and mainstream pundits.
“The U.S. must meet challenges such as climate change … says Patrick Doherty,” reads the caption under a photo of wreckage.
“Climate change is already with us,” Doherty writes. “Superstorm Sandy, the Derecho, Arctic melting, and droughts in the Midwest, India, China, and Russia this past year confirm the scientifically proven trend.”
Nowhere in the piece does Doherty acknowledge the political obstacle, the Republican Party, which has made dealing with it, even in some small ways, virtually impossible.
In fact, Doherty points to a column from Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, as something which may carry good advice on meeting American challenges. His use is to imply how the US could mobilize business capital by, for example, giving a corporate tax break to America’s big multi-nationals. But the Blankfein column is more interesting for how anti-solving problems it is.
For the first time in several generations, it has become clear that abundant domestic energy resources are within our reach, and that we have the technology to responsibly and safely extract it. The government needs to work with the private sector to implement effective and far-reaching policies to develop these resources.
That’s what you call a gold-plated recommendation for expanded use and mining of fossil fuels. Call it the accelerate-and-exacerbate-global warming answer to the problem of climate change. Blankfein, of course, does not have to worry about this. When climate change turns the Manhattan neighborhood of Goldman Sachs into a skyscraper version of Stiltsville in the Biscayne Bay, he will be gone.
You also might not have noticed that we’re barreling toward a “world of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions.” Here in Washington, we’re too busy to pay attention to such trifles …
Meanwhile, evidence mounts that the legacy we pass along to future generations will be a parboiled planet.
But even Robinson can’t bring himself to write that it’s the GOP that has derailed the matter in the US.
To his credit he recommends the President do something:
And this is why President Obama should devote his next State of the Union address to climate change. He understands the science and knows the threat is real. Convincing the American people of this truth would be a great accomplishment …
The President has won re-election. There is no further political cost the GOP can extract from him. Telling the people about global warming in no uncertain terms is something he can do. Barack Obama can spell out who has blocked action, the very anti-science beliefs of the Republican Party, who supports them, and what the consequences have been at the federal and local level.
What was the Obama administration’s effort to battle climate change, or at least increase informed recognition of it, in the last year?
“Fueled by global warming, polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are now melting three times faster than they did in the 1990s, a new scientific study says,” reads a story, today, from the AP.
“Greenland is really taking off,” National Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Ted Scambos told the news agency. Scambos is a a co-author of the paper referenced by the AP and published in the peer-reviewed journal, Science.
So if many in our country think that putting a modern Republican in power is a way to move the place forward, to help it deal with the very complex global problems with which it is currently faced, they’re one with entropy, which is the falling apart of everything, from order to disorder, until there is nothing left. That’s a tragedy and we should not delude ourselves that such actions, behaviors or opinions defend anything worthwhile.
Mr McAfee is on the run, fearful for his life and without a doubt in his mind Belize authorities are determined to kill him …
Belize police confirmed that authorities were searching for Mr McAfee but clarified that he was not a suspect at this time. On Wednesday police told the FT they had detained six people as part of the investigation including William Mulligan, 29, who is Mr McAfee’s bodyguard. He was arrested along with his wife, Stefanie, 22, and both have been charged with possession of arms and ammunition without a licence …
“Only last week, [McAfee] bought 40 stun guns and flashlights for the local police and yet he lives in fear of a police vendetta,” [a local real estate agent told the FT]. “He is an extremely intense man – a tortured genius.”
From WhoisMcAfee, events continue:
Today [November 29], at 10:45 A.M, the GSU and the Coast Guard raided my property in San Pedro. They confiscated approximately $400,000 worth of property – cameras, computers, police gear purchased for donations (Note: I had donated tasers, pepper spray, to the SP Police department 4 weeks ago) and other items. They spent 3 hours ransacking every one of my buildings. This is the 8th search of my property since my disappearance. It is certain, in my mind that something or other was planted during this search. What it may be, I have no clue. This is the first time that they have openly taken items from me since the first raid in April of this year …
My a friends in the Police department have told me a wild tale. Barely believable, but it’s from multiple sources so I have to give it some credence.
Four weeks ago I donated about $100,000 worth of equipment to the San Pedro Police department.
Among the items donated were 40 or so brand new stun guns still in the box. Someone, at some point opened one of the boxes and inserted a bag of cocaine, and then resealed the box. Four weeks later, the box is opened and discovered. Among the items taken from my residence were close to 200 additional stun guns, still in the box, vallued at close to $80,000.
One of two things: the drugs were planted in order to give an excuse to confiscate more of my property (they have never returned any of my property confiscated during the April raid), or they intend to charge me with cocaine trafficking.
One may meditate on the revelation that John McAfee possessed 240 new stun guns, $80,000 worth, at a resort home. But this is a minor quibble.
“You are, by and large a kind and supportive group of readers,” McAfee writes. “From your comments, many of you are brilliant and talented. Many of you occupy positions of importance. All of you have hearts, and your loves and hopes, your dreams and ambitions, fears and attachments are the same as every occupant of this country who suffers under burdensome oppression [sic]. We are all of us, throughout the world, one people.”
Repeal Obamacare. Lower income tax rates and simplify the tax code. Cut Medicaid by a third and make it a state-controlled block-grant program. Overhaul Medicare by giving beneficiaries money to buy competing public and private health plans. Reduce non-entitlement spending to its lowest level since World War II.
Repeatedly labeled a flim-flam man by Nobel laureate Paul Krugman. Rejected in the recent election. Making it almost impossible to satirize the United States in 2012.
Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar, 86, the man of a million motivational maxims who bucked up and cheered on three generations of Willy Lomans over a 40-year international speaking career, died near his home in Plano, Texas, Wednesday …
Mr. Ziglar’s peripatetic speaking career reached hundreds of thousands of salesmen, corporate executives, business owners and would-be entrepreneurs, many of whom issued Facebook tributes Wednesday as news of his passing spread.
As an important part of the corporate brainwashing industry, Ziglar was described by Barbara Ehrenreich, in Bright Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America.
“[The message] of the featured speaker Zig Ziglar was — ‘It’s your own fault; don’t blame the boss, don’t blame the system — work harder and pray more.”
Ziglar occasionally merited mention in this blog because of his traveling carnivals in which big name speakers were and are paid handsomely to tell thousands of the desperate and gullible how to turn their lives around.
A sample from one such Powell speech, delivered to census workers who were thought to be laggards, by a supervisor, in 2010:
Never receive counsel from unproductive people.
Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how.
Not everyone has a right to speak into your life.
You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person.
Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere.
With some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it.
Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life.
Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships.
If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.
Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided fully examined this inspirational brainwashing, of which Ziglar was a part, first taken from the standpoint of its role in the wellness industry. However, Ziglar-like thought, the equivalent of a pick-yourself-up grab bag of cheap-ass slogans, maxims and sermons, has been applied to everything in the American group belief that a certain Norman Vincent Peale-outlook in life must always be conveyed to become an accomplished and well-rounded person.
Ziglar was 86. And in case you’re still wondering why he was the topic of even minor posts at DD blog — well, he was one of the great contributors to our Culture of Lickspittle.
Specifically, Santorum, joined by Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), urged the Senate to reject the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities – a treaty negotiated during George W. Bush’s administration and ratified by 126 nations, including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and Syria.
The former presidential candidate pronounced “grave concerns” about the treaty, which forbids discrimination against people who have AIDS, are blind, use wheelchairs, and the like. “This is a direct assault on us,” he declared.
Lee, too, has “grave concerns” about the threat to U.S. sovereignty. “I will do everything I can to block its ratification …
To the demented Republican Party, the UN is always a looming menace to the country.
And I’ve never been able to figure out how anyone gloms onto the idea that an agency as demonstrably powerless as the UN could take the guns, or anything, off the nation that has the most powerful military in world history. It’s impossible to even approach trying to understand minds that believe such things. It’s a real chasm of mental, social and cultural division.
Nevertheless, here we are.
“He’ll be loyal to our land/There is hope for our nation, again … ,” they sang, months ago.
Ex-anti-virus king John McAfee is now making the rounds of internet radio, presumably to tell his lengthy story.
And who has he chosen?
The leader of the tin foil hat demographic, Alex Jones. And some guy who was a color commentator for Ultimate Fighting, from the looks of it, a steroidal goon slightly notorious for “choking out” people in video on YouTube.
With regards to being taken seriously, these were unhelpful choices. That’s my free advice for the day.
Some hackers, a special few — not all, are determined to push the outermost boundaries of innovation. So they busied themselves with the task of breaking into hotel rooms.
Now, at last, having definitively proven they can defeat the locks on posh hotel room doors, who knows what technological mileposts will be passed next? Whooosh! Feel the relentless wind of progress blowing dust and dog dirt in your face!
September brought a series of mysterious break-ins to the Hyatt House Galleria in Houston, Texas. In the latest, a 66-year-old woman’s laptop was stolen from her room, and the lock’s records showed that no key, be it the woman’s, the maid’s, or a duplicate, had been used.
Police told NBC News that they arrested Matthew Allen Cook on Oct. 31, after the stolen laptop showed up at a pawn shop …
The lock in question is from Onity, a major supplier of electronic and keycard locks for hotels like the Hyatt. Cody Brocious, a software engineer at Mozilla and hobbyist hacker, demonstrated a vulnerability in many of their locks in July, afterwards showing a refined technique onstage at the Black Hat hacker conference.
Brocious, news articles say, sold his digital hotel room door opening method to a locksmith training business for $20,000.
From the recent academic policy report, “US Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds”, page 8:
Attention in the past decade has focused not on labor-saving innovation, but rather on a succession of entertainment and communication devices that do the same things we could do before, but now in smaller and more convenient packages … These innovations were rapidly adopted, but they provided [only] new opportunities for consumption on the job and in leisure hours …
Pointed to by Paul Krugman, Reaganite supply-side economist Bruce Bartlett throws in the towel in a long essay for the American Conservative. It’s clear he wants to write another book about it. Presumably, it is meant to serve as a leader for offers.
The essence of it is the Republican Party is well and truly fucked, no surprise. And it purged him for not being of the body. And he’s clearly very upset that he was expelled, fired, blacklisted, and permanently crossed off the lists of former friends.
All the stupidity and closed-mindedness that right-wingers have displayed over the last 10 years has come back to haunt them. It is now widely understood that the nation may be center-left after all, not center-right as conservatives thought. Overwhelming losses by Republicans to all the nation’s nonwhite voters have created a Democratic coalition that will govern the nation for the foreseeable future …
The economy continues to conform to textbook Keynesianism. We still need more aggregate demand, and the Republican idea that tax cuts for the rich will save us becomes more ridiculous by the day. People will long remember Mitt Romney’s politically tone-deaf attack on half the nation’s population for being losers, leeches, and moochers because he accurately articulated the right-wing worldview.
Although Bartlett never says it rudely, he informs that all the shitting on everyone not white and nonsensical ideas about the economy have perhaps irreparably maimed the Republican Party in the electorate.
He suggests this could be ameliorated by trying to be more appealing to the black voter, since the Hispanic voter is totally lost.
Yeah, that’s going to happen.
Bartlett doesn’t actually go far enough. He concedes the GOP is doomed to be a blocking minority party, preserving power to interfere with things but not advance any national policy or people.
Because it has successfully proven itself to be suicidally capable of obstruction, it’s gone so far as to become a national security threat. Most notably, this in the area of advancing environmental disasters.
The GOP denies science and successfully derailed all action on global warming in the US at the federal level. It transformed actually trying to do something about a documented global problem into an electrified third rail.
Wait and see. Six months from now the GOP will have cooked up some crazy conspiracy theory and a raft of fake facts to argue that Sandy was normal. And on their tv, web sites and radio they will laugh and titter at everyone else so stupid as to believe what they witnessed just before the election.
I moved here in 1991 when the San Gabriel Valley was essentially conservative GOP. In the following years it turned blue.
From the time I arrived until 1998, Republican Pete Wilson was governor. And as part of the GOP, he implemented the party’s war on Hispanics with the horrible Proposition 187 to deprive illegal immigrants of any social, health or educational services in California.
Although it was passed by a reactionary white referendum its eventual effect was to permanently turn a substantial part of the state electorate against the GOP.
And now it has finally changed, irreversibly. California is a one party state. But not without cost. The GOP, as a blocking party, assiduously wrecked the place for two decades.
Raytheon, one of the world’s largest military contractors, opened the doors today to its newest missile factory, a state-of-the-art facility that will produce weapons for the United States and its [toadies].
According to Raytheon, the Huntsville, Ala. plant, located at the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal, will produce Standard Missile-3 and Standard Missile-6 interceptors. The first SM-6s should be delivered in early 2013, while the SM-3s should be ready a quarter later.
The facility is said to be among the most advanced missile production plants in the world, utilizing laser-guided transport vehicles for moving missile components around.
“At new Raytheon plant, America’s missiles come to life,” reads the Raytheon advertisement attached to the piece.
How many Standard missiles were fired at the enemy in anger in the last decade?
Because al Qaeda and the Taliban have no air force or navy.
The secret behind this skills gap is that it’s not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. “It’s hard not to break out laughing,” says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers. “If there’s a skill shortage, there has to be rises in wages,” he says. “It’s basic economics.” After all, according to supply and demand, a shortage of workers with valuable skills should push wages up. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of skilled jobs has fallen and so have their wages.
In a recent study, the Boston Consulting Group noted that, outside a few small cities that rely on the oil industry, there weren’t many places where manufacturing wages were going up and employers still couldn’t find enough workers. “Trying to hire high-skilled workers at rock-bottom rates,” the Boston Group study asserted, “is not a skills gap.” The study’s conclusion, however, was scarier. Many skilled workers have simply chosen to apply their skills elsewhere rather than work for less, and few young people choose to invest in training for jobs that pay fast-food wages. As a result, the United States may soon have a hard time competing in the global economy …
Whenever you see some business person quoted complaining about how he or she can’t find workers with the necessary skills, ask what wage they’re offering. Almost always, it turns out that what said business person really wants is highly (and expensively) educated workers at a manual-labor wage … So what you really want to ask is why American businesses don’t feel that it’s worth their while to pay enough to attract the workers they say they need.
In reading James K. Galbraith’s The Predator State, one would call this the dominance of American manufacturing by corporate reactionary predators.
This has installed a race to the bottom in labor in a country where unions have been destroyed in the private sector and no standards for fair compensation are allowed to exist.
Noticeably, one could see it during the summer when new and tough anti-illegal immigration enforcement in red states resulted in immigrant workers leaving US southern agriculture, where profitability and cheap prices have been maintained by making wages rock bottom.
Ralph and Cheryl Broetje rely on roughly 1,000 seasonal workers every year to grow and pack over 6 million boxes of apples on their farm along the Snake River in eastern Washington. It’s a custom they’ve maintained for over two decades. Recently, though, their efforts to recruit skilled labor, mostly undocumented immigrants, have come woefully short, despite intensive recruitment efforts in an area with high rates of unemployment.
The Broetjes, and an increasing number of farmers across the country, say that a complex web of local and state anti-immigration laws account for acute labor shortages …
“The United States farmer is still the most efficient in the world, and if we want to be in charge of our food security and our economy and add favorably to our balance of payments, we need to support a [slave] labor force for agriculture,” said some douchebag to Time magazine.
Back in 2007, Galbraith explained it as predatory business practice in which agriculture, having no need to respond to standards in labor, pressed wages to the bottom. No one, except the desperate from Mexico, regularly wishes to work stoop labor in fields, being sprayed by pesiticides, for much less than a living wage.
“Imposing standard and enforcing them, is thus the general response to the Predator State,” which is just a collision of reactionary forces within business who seek to maintain competitiveness and profitability without technological improvement, without environmental control, without attending to product or workplace safety,” writes Galbraith.
“They are the forces behind deregulation, behind tort reform, and behind the assault on unions… ”
Arms manufacturing in the US is a different matter. It is protected and paid for by the US taxpayer.
“In short, the populist directive is to raise American wages, create American jobs and increase the fairness and security of our economic system, especially for citizens and legal residents, but also for all who seek work within our borders,” writes Galbraith near the end of The Predator State.
“You want higher wages? Raise them. You want more and better jobs? Create them.”
Raytheon missile manufacturing, of very little intrinsic social value other than decent jobs with pay, is an example.
Corporate America relies primarily on the equation in which compensation is always compressed and subtracted. My grandfather, who raised his family in a row home in the Frankford area of Philadelphia was a machinist who worked in manufacturing. Unlike the manufacturing workers being sought in the New York Times piece, he was able to earn a decent pay.
When I saw him, that was in the Sixties and Seventies.
Neal Caren, a sociology academic at the University of North Carolina, has posted a cool plot of “The New Secessionists” by state, with “darker colors showing higher levels of secession support.” It is here.
It looks like the secession petition movement has peaked …
We also looked at the distribution of petition signers by gender. While petition signers did not list their gender, we attempted to match first names with Social Security data on the relative frequency of names by sex. In first week, of the 302,502 respondents with gendered names, 63% had male names and 38% had female names. This 26 point gender gap is twice the size of the gender gap for voters in the 2012 Presidential election. For more recently signers, the gender gap has risen to 40 points, with male signers accounting for more than 70% of signatures since 11/20.
A newspaper in Riverside County, CA, has published some statistics taken from the UNC plot for my state’s secessionistas. The numbers are insignificant:
The 607 petitioners the students plotted in Riverside County make it one of the cooler spots on the national heat map the students produced, given the county’s 2 million-plus population.
Compare that to the 268 signers from Campbell County, Wyoming (population: 563,626) or the 125 from Blanco County, Texas (population: 10,497). It’s worth noting that even in that central Texas hot spot, only about 1 percent of the population signed on to a secession petition.
Back in California, Imperial County’s 174,528 residents were even cooler to the idea of secession than Riverside County’s. Only 13 signers could be plotted there.
I have a pretty clear idea as to the kind of people who are seriously (and some are reportedly quite serious) looking to secede from our country …
I’ve endured such people ever since I was old enough to vote, which was back in the great Ronald Reagan tidal wave of 1980. Because I wasn’t a conservative or a Republican, I felt the sting of ridicule from individuals — ranging from local souls to national pundits — who saw no value in anything to the left of their views and who apparently believed you were either with them or against America. They damned “liberals” so often and so effectively that the term can no longer be used by the crowd that now calls themselves “progressives.” This animus has intensified in recent years, as if these people are on a crusade to purge our holy land of an un-American leftist, socialist pestilence …
The line has been drawn, and they’ve helped draw it. They will still rant about the course of our republic and those who differ from their views. But after this dubious stunt, they’re no longer qualified to complain.
Schuylkill County, PA, has 217 secessionistas. I couldn’t determine the number for Los Angeles County.