Midday open thread

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 22-04-2012-05-2008


  • Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground:

    Penn State climate scientist Dr. Richard Alley hosts parts II and III of Earth: the Operator’s Manual on PBS beginning at 7pm Sunday, April 22–Earth Day. Part I of this excellent series aired in April 2011. The series gives an overview of climate change, but primarily focuses on what we can do to help slow down climate change though smart energy choices. Dr. Alley, a registered Republican, geologist, and former oil company employee, is the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at the Pennsylvania State University, and one of the most respected and widely published world experts on climate change. Dr. Alley has testified before Congress on climate change issues, served as lead author of “Chapter 4: Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground” for the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and is author of more than 170 peer-reviewed scientific articles on Earth’s climate. He is also the author of a book I highly recommend–The Two Mile Time Machine, a superb account of Earth’s climate history as deduced from the 2-mile long Greenland ice cores.  Dr. Alley is an excellent and engaging speaker, and I highly recommend listening to his 45-minute keynote speech, “The Biggest Control Knob: CO2 in Earth’s Climate History” given at the 2010 American Geophysical Union meeting, via this very watchable recording showing his slides as he speaks in one corner of the video. If you want to understand why scientists are so certain of the link between CO2 and Earth’s climate, this is a must-see lecture.

  • Rock ‘N’ Roll this past week lost Dick Clark, Men At Work’s flautist and sax player Greg Ham, and Bert Weedon, whose books on guitar helped teach the young Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Brian May. Amp creator Jim Marshall died earlier this month, and here’s a little industry secret: those legendary Marshall stacks usually consisted of mostly empty cases, as that many Marshalls in one place at one time not only would have blown out ears, they would have knocked down walls.

    And Joel Selvin on Levon Helm:

    No singing drummer was ever better.

    Given the commercial success of Don Henley with The Eagles and Phil Collins with post-Gabriel Genesis, that’s quite a statement. And it’s true.

  • If Mitt Romney is trying to prove he’s tolerant by hiring a gay national security and foreign policy spokesman, it’s not working:

    In fact, Grenell’s homosexuality does not mean he’s pro-equality (self-loathing professional and personal behavior is sadly, part of GOP gay history as well). Mike Rogers, who did groundbreaking work exposing the double lives of politicos — gay hating homosexuals in positions of power who professionally worked to restrict or prevent expansion of LGBT rights — profiled Grenell on BlogActive (Rogers and his work were also the subject of the documentary Outrage). Mike bestowed one of his Roy Cohn Awards on Grenell for homophobic professional behavior while in the Bush admin back in 2006, asking readers to “Let him what you think of a gay man representing a homophobic administration. Let him know what you think of his defending the US vote with Iran and Sudan on gay rights”

    And it gets better:

    This is blogACTIVE‘s first internationally connected Roy Cohn Award. blogACTIVE has learned that John Bolton’s spokesman at the United Nation’s, Richard Grenell, is gay.

    If anything says foreign policy expert, it’s a resume that includes having been John Bolton’s U.N. spokesman:

    The Senate refused to confirm the pugnacious Fox New contributor as U.N. envoy in 2006, forcing a recess appointment. Known for extremely hawkish positions and undiplomatic conduct, Bolton has maintained close ties to the Islamophobic right — but sometimes only when the money was good enough.

  • This should make for some fun backroom conversations:

    Cantor Suggests Anti-Semitism Is A Problem Within The House GOP Caucus

  • And a headline question that answers itself:

    Is Nikki Haley’s book full of lies?

    Supposed Romney running mate front-runner under fire for memoir distortions

  • California once set an example with the best public education system in the world. This is the example California is setting now:

    The CSU system has already weathered a 33 percent cut in its overall state funding — $1 billion — over the last four years, and faces another $200 million cut if Gov. Jerry Brown fails to convince voters to pass a state initiative authorizing a tax hike this November.

    The UC system is in similar straits. Once upon a time, California gave every student who qualified for the UC system a completely free ride. Now the state pays only 11 percent of UC tuition costs. As a result, for in-state students, tuition has tripled over the last 20 years, to $13,200. But out-of-state students pay three times as much as that, a fact that has made them more and more attractive to admissions departments.

    This is why:

    California’s troubles paying for higher education can be traced all the way back to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, which made it extraordinarily difficult for the state to raise taxes. But California’s s woes are by no means unique. In 2011, state funding for higher education dropped by $6 billion, or 8 percent nationwide. And with the federal government caught in the same vice grip — an intransigent refusal to raise taxes for any purpose whatsoever — there’s little help that can be expected from Washington. In fact, the same graduate students who are getting their unpleasant mail from CSU this week are due for another unhappy surprise on July 1, when interest rates on their federal student loans bump up, a result of one of the cost-cutting deals that was part of the debt ceiling agreement one year ago.

    All these numbers add up to another simple, straightforward truth: Quality higher education is increasingly available only to those who can afford it.

  • In devastating news, legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt announced her retirement due to the early onset Alzheimer’s with which she was diagnosed a year ago. She is 59 years old.

    Summitt’s announcement on Wednesday that she was stepping aside, taking on the title of head coach emeritus while her longtime assistant Holly Warlick became head coach, was as soft a landing as she could muster, her former assistant Mickie DeMoss described it. Summitt found a way to do it with dignity and class, David Climer writes in The Tennessean, as she always has. John Adams writes in The Knoxville News-Sentinel that Summitt always made the right choices to stick by her program, so this made total sense. She will turn her star power now on the fight against Alzheimer’s, writes Dan Wetzel on Yahoo.com and if Summitt showed anything in her farewell season, it’s that she can teach people how to fight, Ann Killion writes on SI.com.        </  The task quickly becomes how to quantify Summitt’s legend, which isn’t as easy as counting victories (1,098) or national championships (eight), writes Gene Wojciechowski on ESPN.com. She changed the sport so profoundly and became such an icon that reaction to her stepping down drew reactions from people ranging from Peyton Manning to LeBron James. She was as much a force of nature as anything, an example of all the right ways to handle success and failure and everything in between, writes Gary Parrish on CBSSports.com.

    Summitt won more games than any coach in any college sport ever, and she did it with class. But she was so much more than a coach, and she will continue to be a teacher, leader, mentor, friend, and mom. And the embodiment of a life well lived.

  • Tory Lords are whining about the possibility of democracy infiltrating their hallowed House.
  • The Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year went to nobody.
  • ARTNews has a fine tribute to the late Antoni Tàpies. End of an era.
  • In case you were wondering if Newsweek still exists, it does.
  • David Dayen:

    George Zornick carries a rebuttal from Eric Schneiderman’s team on yesterday’s damaging expose of the securitization fraud working group.  Here’s what it has to say:

    • There are 50 staffers “across the country” working on the RMBS working group (the official title).
    • DoJ has asked for $55 million for additional staffing.
    • The five co-chairs of the working group meet formally weekly, and talk daily.
    • There are no headquarters for the working group, but that’s because it’s spread across the country.
    • There is no executive director.
    • Activists still think the staffing level is too low.

    If any of this looks familiar, it’s because it’s EXACTLY what Reuters and I reported a week ago.  In other words, it was unnecessary.  And it doesn’t contradict what the New York Daily News op-ed said yesterday, either.  Like that op-ed, this confirms that there is no executive director and no headquarters for the working group, which sounds more like a central processing space for investigations that could have happened independently, at least at this point.

  • Revealing:

    On Spain, Lagarde says the Madrid authorities are taking the situation extremely seriously. She then argues that Europe’s bailout fund should be allowed to bail out Spanish banks directly, rather than having to work through its sovereign government (a view not shared by some EU states, including Germany).

    Given the continuing failure that is the cruel stupidity of austerity, why bother even pretending it’s about anything other than bailing out the banks?

  • You won’t see me write this very often, but Hamid Karzai is right.
  • Donald Boesch was one of two scientists to serve on the president’s commission on the Deepwater Horizon disaster:

    Unfortunately, the US Congress — caught up in partisan rancour, including debates about expanding offshore oil drilling — has failed to adopt legislation to address the lessons learned and the recommendations of the oil-spill commission and others. Such legislation should codify the executive reforms mentioned earlier into law, increase liability limits, and dedicate sustained funding for oil-spill research and environmental assessment and monitoring.

    Even in the current constrained fiscal circumstances, improved oversight and essential R&D could be supported by industry fees amounting to pennies per barrel, imperceptible within the daily fluctuations in price on the world market or at the pump.

    New laws were passed within a year of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. If important lessons are not to be lost as the events of 2010 fade from memory, there is a pressing need tochange the law to make such accidents less likely, and our response more effective.

  • It’s not happening. Really. It’s not.

    Like snow sliding off a roof on a sunny day, the Greenland Ice Sheet may be sliding faster into the ocean due to massive releases of meltwater from surface lakes, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder-based Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.

    Such lake drainages may affect sea-level rise, with implications for coastal communities, according to the researchers. “This is the first evidence that Greenland’s ‘supraglacial’ lakes have responded to recent increases in surface meltwater production by draining more frequently, as opposed to growing in size,” says CIRES research associate William Colgan, who co-led the new study with CU-Boulder computer science doctoral student Yu-Li Liang.

  • Step right up and nominate a fellow blogger, or apply for yourself, to get a Netroots Nation Scholarship:

    Democracy for America and America’s Voice Education Fund have teamed up to provide financial assistance to fifty outstanding bloggers and activists so they can attend this year’s Netroots Nation conference.

    We want to see you in Providence, so sign up today!

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