Business

More trade disasters ahead

In our last discussion of the dangers posed by the current round of free trade deals under consideration in the US, Europe and Asia a while back, we noted (as have others) the potential of these deals to undermine domestic legislation if that legislation negatively affects the potential profitability of a company. Both NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have this sort of mechanism, wherein a company affected by domestic legislation can appeal to the WTO to be compensated for the potential financial impact, or ask for fines against the country found guilty of trade agreement violations. This mechanism of trade agreements is clearly financial blackmail, designed by multinational corporations (mostly American, but a fair number of European and Asian companies as well) to prevent domestic legislation covering stuff like pesky environmental regulations, or recurring European attempts to ban beef hormones. This sounds very bizarre, of course—who in their right mind would tolerate this? But the US does, as do all signatories to the agreements that created the WTO and NAFTA. As we have just been reminded. Continue reading

Health

Flint, MI is in crisis and may be for years to come

by Guest

It’s been in mostly ignored crisis for a very long time, but today you’re likely to hear presidential candidates talking about it. From a technical aspect, some of the reporting on the waterborne lead contamination is good while some of it is lacking and some of it is plainly misrepresentative of the actual issue. What’s not being discussed in any depth – if at all – is the true, long-term costs that Michigan’s governor, Flint’s emergency manager, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s leadership imposed on Flint and the state of Michigan. Continue reading

Megyn Kelly GQ

Donald Trump is a pig, and Megyn Kelly is neither a journalist nor a feminist

These things are not mutually exclusive.

I want to show you two pictures – ones you may have seen recently – and ask you a simple question: what is being communicated? What are the subject, the photographer and the publisher saying to you?

Megyn Kelly GQ
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bernie btton

Panic Button: glass house candidate throws stone

bernie btton

photo courtesy of etsy.com

Hypothetically, let’s say you lost the Nevada primary because of your failed efforts to suppress the vote in 2008. Specifically, you attempted to suppress the vote of a particularly powerful union, the Culinary Workers Union,  namely women, minorities, and working people, who caucus on Saturday, on their lunch break, on the Vegas strip, because their jobs do not allow them to go to the polls when everyone else does. Let’s say this union chose to endorse the other fellow, and you filed a lawsuit that amounted to disenfranchisement of their entire population and denial of the validity of their way of life. Let’s say the lawsuit was so abysmally unpopular that you had to politically and personally distance yourself from it, and force a smile when all the Nevada delegates ultimately voted for the other fellow. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Guns

Mississippi gun store shootout reaffirms our faith in humanity

Okay, I’m a few days late with this one, but it’s so interesting and its implications so profound that it’s taken me some time to fully digest it.

On Saturday, a father and son entered a gun store in Mississippi to pick up a firearm they’d left for repair. When presented with a bill for $25, the two began arguing with the store owner and his son. No one is quite sure what happened next, but somehow the argument turned violent, and both sides shot at the other. The episode ended with the gun store owner and his son dead and the customer and his son in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Continue reading

australia-water-stamp

Flint is a sad metaphor for something

australia-water-stampIf one were looking for an apt metaphor to reflect the state of modern America, which would you choose: the surprising success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, or the deliberate poisoning of the entire city of Flint Michigan? I’d opt for the latter. Yes, the Trump candidacy is perhaps a milestone of something or other in recent politics, but America has always had political hucksters, and some of them have done quite well. This is a country that at one point had an important “Know-Nothing” political party in the 1840s and 1850s (a central plank of which was fierce opposition to immigration, interestingly enough.) So while the sakes might be higher these days—Mr Trump looks like he has a real shot at the Republican Presidential nomination, and a surprising number of voters appear to be uninformed, or misinformed, about lots of stuff—I would still argue that this is one of the swings in American politics that one sees from time to time.

Flint is another story entirely. Continue reading

atlanta march bernie

Do the right thing: Hillary’s “southern firewall” is about to vanish

atlanta march bernie

photo courtesy of demotix.com

Dear Ta-Nehisi Coates: Senator Bernie Sanders is an honest man.

If you ask him a direct question, he will answer. If he doesn’t know, he will admit that he doesn’t know. He will tell you he wants to raise taxes. He will tell you he does not want to fight a war in the middle east. These are things other politicians will never admit, even if they are true, because in modern American political culture, the prevailing wisdom is that it is better to lie to the voters and win under false pretenses than to speak an unpopular truth and lose. Continue reading

CATEGORY: CrimeCorruption

Stop the rape epidemic, part 2

We have a problem. No doubt about it. Women were raped in Cologne, Germany and the police tried to sweep it under the rug. It’s the same problem we’ve been having forever, in the colleges, in the military, and in society at large. Now we’re paying attention to it because the rapists are foreigners. When men of a different race or different religion act the same way our men act, suddenly it’s a problem. Because the violence wasn’t hidden in a fraternity house, because the violence wasn’t facilitated by quaaludes, suddenly it’s a problem. Not to go all feminist on y’all, but I warned you about this.

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Teddy Roosevelt vs Ammon Bundy: why white thugs should be treated with respect by police

The “Arson Rebellion”: justice and due process matters whether you’re rural and white or urban and black

ammon bundy.jpg

image courtesy of heavy.com

Let me tell you a story about Teddy Roosevelt. As a young man, he lived in the Dakota territory, hunting, ranching, watching the American bison disappear, and resolving to preserve the land and its bounty from a “class that always holds sway during the raw youth of a frontier community, and the putting down of which is the first step toward decent government.” One day, three such men stole his boat, the only one on the river, while he was hunting mountain lions. He and his two companions built another boat, pursued the thieves downriver, captured them, and then marched them three hundred miles to Dickinson and turned them over to the sheriff. During this pursuit of justice, he also managed to read Anna Karenina, musing in his 1888 book Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail that “my surroundings were quite gray enough to harmonize well with Tolstoy.”

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Future Imperfect: SaraRobinson.net launches, just in time for the Y’allQaeda takeover

SaraRobinson.netSara Robinson, who has spent years thinking and writing in places like Orcinus, Our Future, Group News Blog, Salon, Grist, the New Republic and New York Magazine (as well as S&R, now that I think about it), has finally struck out on her on her own and debuted Future Imperfect.

And just in time. Sara has devoted a great deal of energy in her career to understanding the sorts of people currently occupying that rest area (and begging for snacks) out in Oregon, and today’s missive addresses the ways in which the Federal Government’s failure in the wake of the Bundy Ranch debacle led us to our current domestic terrorism drama (and may open the door to more such foolishness in the future if we don’t get our act together). Continue reading

Politics: Don't Tread on Me

Right-wing domestic terrorists have carte blanche

BurnsIt’s good to be a white domestic terrorist in the United States.

Armed self-proclaimed “militia members” have seized control of the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. Gun-toting individuals from a dozen or more states have been showing up in the small town since November, when two convicted arsonists had their too-lenient sentences revoked in favor of federally-mandated longer minimums.

The patriots terrorists, whose leaders include Ryan and Ammon Bundy, sons of scofflaw Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and internet media producer Pete Santilli, claim to have 100-150 followers (although that number is heavily disputed and may be only 10% of what is claimed). Continue reading

Scholars & Rogues Asshole-of-the-Year Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli edges Donald Trump for S&R’s Asshole of the Year Award

Scholars & Rogues Asshole-of-the-Year Martin Shkreli

Noted sociopath and PharmaDoucheBro Shkreli spent 2015 redefining what it means to be an asshole, upsets GOP presidential frontrunner Trump.

You’ve all known an asshole — a rude, arrogant, contemptuous person. Assholes are irritating. Assholes are the bad breath of personalities. A reasonable person’s reaction to the presence of an asshole is Get the fuck away from me, asshole.

How, then, to select an Asshole of the Year? Continue reading

Climate2

Top conservative media sites regularly misrepresent OISM’s Global Warming Petition Project

Of the top 15 most read conservative/libertarian media sites, Fox News has mentioned the Global Warming Petition Project only five times since 2008.

Comparison of Department of Education graduation data for 1970-2013 and Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for 2013 to the number of Global Warming Petition Project signatures [Corrected]

Comparison of Department of Education graduation data for 1970-2013 and Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for 2013 to the number of Global Warming Petition Project signatures [Corrected]

For other posts in this series, please click here.

The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine published the most recent version of the Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP) in 2008, The purpose of the petition was to create a narrative, since shown to be false, that the 31,487 signers disproved the opinion surveys showing an overwhelming consensus of climate experts who are convinced that climate change is real.

Since 2008, six surveys of expert opinion have been published in the peer-reviewed literature, using different statistical methodologies and asking slightly different survey questions, with the result that the lowest level of consensus found in any of them was 88% of respondents, with most finding consensus of about 97%. Yet the GWPP continues to be referenced widely among conservatives and libertarians even though its counter-consensus narrative has been shown to be false – the GWPP signers aren’t all scientists, the GWPP’s criteria for being called a scientist is absurd, the signers are a tiny minority of the people who earned bachelors of science degrees even assuming the GWPP’s criteria are reasonable (and thus giving the GWPP the greatest possible benefit of doubt), the signers are also a tiny minority of the people working in the GWPP’s selected fields as of 2013, and the signers would be a small minority of the members of several professional societies even if every GWPP signer was a member (which is extremely unlikely).

Up until now, S&R has focused on disproving the GWPP’s false narrative and on exposing the individuals who have repeated that false narrative in Congress either as members of Congress or in Congressional testimony. This article marks the start of the next phase of our investigation in which we focus on the organizations and individuals responsible for spreading and maintaining the false narrative. Continue reading

Donald Trump

Slate wonders if Trump is succeeding because of racism. Well duh.

Racism is the single most defining political issue in the history of America, after all.

Donald TrumpJamelle Bouie, Slate’s chief political correspondent, has penned an analysis of the role racism plays in the success of the Donald Trump campaign – and just in time, as the latest CNN poll shows Trump surging to a 21 percentage point lead over his closest competition (39% to Ted Cruz’s 18%).

Nothing wrong with analyses of voter racism. Nothing at all. But, check the subhed:

What if Trump is winning because of his racism and bigotry, not despite it?

Ummm. I mean, isn’t this sort of like asking if you’re a little warm because the house is on fire? I’m not being snarky here. Seriously, is there anybody out there for whom this isn’t about the most obvious observation of the whole election season? Continue reading

Congress

Wanted: Part-time job with $174,000 salary — and plenty of perks

Pssst — have I got a few sweetheart jobs for you.

In one, you’ll only have to work 111 days in 2016. You’ll be off — yep, off! — for 150 days. There’s this job, too: You’ll only have to work for 149 days and get 112 days off.

I know — it sounds too good to be true, right? Well, get this: In either job, you’ll be paid at least $174,000. You’ll be able to earn about 15 percent more in “outside income,” too.

You’ll get an allowance of almost $950,000 to hire staff to help you cope with your arduous schedule. You’ll get money for office expenses and have postage for your official mail paid for you, too. You’ll get great health benefits (including an “attending physician” in case you need emergency care), a gym and workout facilities, and a terrific retirement plan.

And more perks: Free parking at D.C. airports. Your staff will have dedicated phone lines to airlines to make reservations for you. You won’t have to publicly disclosure your stock trades and any insider knowledge, too. Wow! You’ll get to fly back and forth for D.C. to your home state, paid for by taxpayers!
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Sports

What Abby Wambach should have said

Is Abby Wambach a xenophobe? I doubt it. But her remarks on foreign-born players were clumsy at best.

On Wednesday night Abby Wambach, the greatest striker in women’s soccer history, played her final match, an uninspired 1-0 loss to China that was in no way the sort of send-off she deserved.

While the game lacked fireworks, her appearance earlier in the day on the Bill Simmons podcast ignited a bit of a firestorm.

In the interview, Wambach launched a broadside at men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, saying that he should be fired for failing to develop the US youth program. Continue reading

Energy

Where there’s political smoke, there’s the oil and gas lobby

CATEGORY: CongressWell, isn’t that special: Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill before heading off for a three-week holiday vacation. (You get that much time off?) Brinkmanship is avoided; threats to shut down the government over (this time) Syrian refugees or the Puerto Rican debt crisis are avoided (or, more likely, postponed).

But it’s a bad bill for any president serving in the next few decades. Those presidents, irrespective of party, will have to deal with the physical consequences of human-induced climate disruption as well as the political repercussions of not meeting the Paris accords.

That’s because provisions buried in the spending resolution hamper the ability of future presidents to cope with a warming climate. And that’s because your representatives caved (as usual) to the oil and gas industry lobby.

As Bill Moyers and Michael Winship report, each $1 the oil and gas lobby spent in 2013 and 2014 returned $103 in subsidies. The industry spent $326 million to lobby Congress. In return it received $33.7 billion in government favors.
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Then they fight you: DNC shuts down Sanders campaign

sanders megaphone

image courtesy of IBtimes.com

Recently, the private company that manages data for the DNC suspended the Sanders campaign’s access to their own voter data. Ostensibly, this is because the Sanders campaign accessed data exclusively owned by the Clinton campaign, even though the Sanders campaign notified the private company that proprietary data was accessible in October, and recommended that this problem be rectified expeditiously. Continue reading