Here in Boston, today could be the hottest day of the year so far and tomorrow will likely be about the same. We may hit 100 degrees and it will feel even hotter. The Boston Globe published some “heat hacks” to help people cool down. Here are a couple of examples:
If you’re tossing and turning in bed and having trouble falling asleep in the blistering heat,Consumer Reports offers this interesting trick: Put your sheets and pillowcases in a sealable plastic bag and stash them in the freezer so they’ll be nice and cold when you hit the hay….
New York State Office for the Aging suggests…“Fill three plastic soda bottles full of water, freeze them but in a manner to not damage them (liquid expands on freezing), then place them in a large bowl,” the agency’s website states. “Position a fan to blow on them.. … The water in the bottles can be refrozen and used repeatedly.” [….]
Seattle City Light suggests putting lotion and moisturizers in your fridge to cool down your skin.
I might try that last one. This reminds me of the scene in The Seven-Year Itch when Marilyn Monroe explains how she keeps her panties and potato chips in the fridge next to the champagne.
A relentless heat wave gripped the country from the central states to the East Coast Saturday, prompting cancellation of the New York City Triathlon and producing cracked and buckled roads in some Plains states. Some East Coast cities braced for temperatures in the triple digits.
As the stifling heat — expected to affect 200 million people — settled in for at least a fifth day, the National Weather Service issued an Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisory from parts of the Texas Panhandle to the Ohio Valley, around the Great Lakes, parts of the Mid-Atlantic and in the Northeast.
An Excessive Heat Warning is issued when the combination of heat and humidity is expected to make it feel like it is 105 degrees or greater.
Daytime temperatures in the mid to upper 90s or higher plus high humidity will result in heat indices as high as 115 for some, forecasters said.
Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston were bracing for weekend temperatures in the triple digits. New York City and Baltimore were under a Code Red Extreme Heat Alert that is expected to continue through Sunday.
In addition, forecasters warned that overnight temperatures were not likely to fall far enough to bring relief, pariticularly in larger cities, like Chicago, St. Louis and New York City.
CBS News is posting live updates: Massive heat wave blamed for at least 6 deaths.
Dr. Christopher Rodriguez, the district’s director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said officials will be monitoring the dangerous temperatures from an operations center.
“This is going to be one of the most severe heat events that we’ve had in the last several years,” Rodriguez said.
While midwestern cities like Milwaukee and Chicago will be affected, the East Coast is expected to take the brunt of it. Temperatures are expected to range from the mid 90’s to the triple digits, with the heat index making it feel as hot as 100 to 115 degrees.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned the heat can be a silent killer. Doctors are warning to watch out for signs of heat illness. Symptoms can include headache, muscle cramps, nausea. another sign is a lack of sweating.
Extreme heat is one of the deadliest weather phenomena in the world. There are direct health effects like heat stroke, which occurs when body temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to organ failure, and heat exhaustion.
But high temperatures can also worsen conditions like high blood pressure and can limit the effectiveness of certain medications. Heat can also exacerbate air pollution, which in turn can send people to the emergency room due to breathing problems….
While it may cool off after the sun sets during a heat wave, it may not cool off enough for people who have been exposed to high temperatures all day. That leads to a higher cumulative exposure to heat.
One study examining the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed upward of 70,000 people found that nighttime temperatures were a key indicator of the health risk from high temperatures. There’s also research that shows high nighttime temperatures disrupt sleep. Without relief from the heat, the stresses on the body mount.
Over the weekend, forecasters expect evening temperatures will stay above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with the heat index remaining above 90 degrees, in some areas along the East Coast. That will make it hard for some to cool off. Health officials advise staying hydrated, wearing light clothing, and avoiding the outdoors.
It’s worse if you live in a city.
Part of the reason temperatures stay high after sunset in many parts of the country is because of the urban heat island effect. Dense cities with their concrete, steel, glass, and asphalt soak up more heat than their rural surroundings, causing temperatures to rise further than they would have otherwise during the day. In the evening, those artificial surfaces continue to dissipate their accumulated heat, keeping denizens from keeping cool.
Our efforts to keep cool can also paradoxically make cities heat up. Air conditioners venting hot air outside can contribute to urban warming, and if the electricity that powers them comes from fossil fuels, they can increase the amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.
At The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer writes that “July 2019 is likely to be the hottest month ever measured.”
For the next several days, a vast blanket of oppressive heat will smother the eastern two-thirds of the United States, subjecting tens of millions of people to searingly hot days and forbidding, unrelenting nights. From the southern Plains to New England, inescapable humidity will meet broiling air to produce heat indexes in excess of 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
We are not simply talking about a series of sweltering afternoons. Even hours after the sun sets, air temperatures could hang well above 90, dipping below the 80-degree mark only in the moments before dawn. The heat index in some big cities—including New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.—may sit above the mid-80s for 72 hours straight.
“July is shaping up to be the warmest July on record—and probably the warmest month ever measured, since July is the hottest month of the year,” Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at Berkeley Earth, told me. “Obviously, we still have half the month to go. But so far, it’s on track.” (Since most of the planet’s land surface is north of the equator, and since land heats up faster than the ocean, the Northern Hemisphere’s summers are the hottest months of the year for the whole planet.)
If that mark is realized, then two months in a row will be the hottest of their type ever measured, since last month was the hottest June ever recorded. And the odds are good that 2019 will be the second-warmest year on record, Hausfather told me. Either way, it’s a near-certainty that the past six years, including this one, will be the hottest six years ever measured.
Today might be a good time to refer back to David Wallace Wells’ 2017 article at New York Magazine. The Uninhabitable Earth: Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.
It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.
Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.
Even when we train our eyes on climate change, we are unable to comprehend its scope. This past winter, a string of days 60 and 70 degrees warmer than normal baked the North Pole, melting the permafrost that encased Norway’s Svalbard seed vault — a global food bank nicknamed “Doomsday,” designed to ensure that our agriculture survives any catastrophe, and which appeared to have been flooded by climate change less than ten years after being built….
But no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough. Over the past decades, our culture has gone apocalyptic with zombie movies and Mad Max dystopias, perhaps the collective result of displaced climate anxiety, and yet when it comes to contemplating real-world warming dangers, we suffer from an incredible failure of imagination. The reasons for that are many: the timid language of scientific probabilities, which the climatologist James Hansen once called “scientific reticence” in a paper chastising scientists for editing their own observations so conscientiously that they failed to communicate how dire the threat really was; the fact that the country is dominated by a group of technocrats who believe any problem can be solved and an opposing culture that doesn’t even see warming as a problem worth addressing; the way that climate denialism has made scientists even more cautious in offering speculative warnings; the simple speed of change and, also, its slowness, such that we are only seeing effects now of warming from decades past; our uncertainty about uncertainty, which the climate writer Naomi Oreskes in particular has suggested stops us from preparing as though anything worse than a median outcome were even possible; the way we assume climate change will hit hardest elsewhere, not everywhere; the smallness (two degrees) and largeness (1.8 trillion tons) and abstractness (400 parts per million) of the numbers; the discomfort of considering a problem that is very difficult, if not impossible, to solve; the altogether incomprehensible scale of that problem, which amounts to the prospect of our own annihilation; simple fear. But aversion arising from fear is a form of denial, too.
Wells has expanded this article into a book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. You might also want to check out his article archive at New York Magazine.
So I wrote a whole post without talking about the monster in the White House. If you really want to read some politics stories, check these out:
Alex Shepard at The New Republic: It’s Not Strategy, It’s Racism.
Jamelle Bouie at The New York Times: The Joy of Hatred. Trump and “his people” reach deep into the violent history of public spectacle in America.
The New York Times: Mueller Hearings on Wednesday Present Make-or-Break Moment for Democrats.
The New York Times: U.K. Warns Iran of ‘Serious Consequences’ for Seizing Oil Tanker.
What stories are you following today?
It has been close to 90 degrees here for the past several days, and it’s technically still spring. I’m beginning to wonder if we are going to have a summer from hell as a follow-up to the worst winter in the half-century I’ve lived in Boston.
In addition to the unusually hot weather, the pollen is so bad that every morning when I wake up it takes a few hours for my scratchy, watery eyes to clear up enough for me to read comfortably.
I’m on a regimen of Flonase, Allegra, and Mucinex; but I still feel stuffed up most of the time. Sometimes I feel itchy and even dizzy and nauseated; and I think it’s from allergies. The itchy skin would be unbearable without the Allegra.
Is anyone else noticing worse-than-usual allergies this year? Last year’s spring allergy season was very bad; this year is far worse. Anyone who actually claims to believe that there isn’t something dramatic happening with our weather is either deluded or lying. I wonder if we will manage to do something about climate change before it’s too late.
What about all that awful weather down in Texas?
Here’s a story from the Texas Tribune, via KXON: Climate change, a factor in Texas floods, largely ignored.
“We have observed an increase of heavy rain events, at least in the South-Central United States, including Texas,” said Nielsen-Gammon, who was appointed by former Gov. George W. Bush in 2000. “And it’s consistent with what we would expect from climate change.”
But the state’s Republican leaders are deeply skeptical of the scientific consensus that human activity is changing the climate, with top environmental regulators in Texas questioning whether the planet is warming at all. And attempts by Democratic lawmakers during the 2015 legislative session to discuss the issue have come up short.
“In part, it’s ideologically driven and intellectually lazy,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, who earlier this year invited national security experts to the state Capitol to testify at a hearing on the risks of climate change. “My question is: What are people scared of? Are they scared of the truth?”
Asked about the role of climate change in the floods, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz declined to weigh in Wednesday. “At a time of tragedy, I think it’s wrong to try to politicize a natural disaster,” the Republican presidential candidate said during a news conference in San Marcos after surveying damage.
How does discussing scientific research on climate constitute “politicizing a natural disaster?”
Extreme weather events, and more of them, are among the most agreed-upon effects of global warming in all the scientific literature on the subject, said Nielsen-Gammon, who is also a professor at Texas A&M University. Part of the explanation is that ocean temperatures are rising, bringing more moist air into the state that can create storm systems. In the past century, precipitation in Texas is up 7 to 10 percent, and the frequency of two-day heavy rainfall spells has nearly doubled.
The scientific consensus is much stronger on this point than on whether climate change can directly cause droughts. Nielsen-Gammon’s own research has shown that warmer temperatures due to global warming did make the drought in Texas measurably worse than it otherwise would have been.
But for the last several years, legislation calling for climate-change studies has not succeeded in the Capitol.
It’s a pretty long article, and very interesting. I hope you’ll go read the whole thing.
More on Ted Cruz’s remarks from CNN: Texas flooding puts Cruz, GOP in bind on climate change.
The Republican presidential contender has held two press conferences over the past two days to address the flooding and the government’s response. At each one, he was asked about the impact of climate change on natural disasters like the Texas flooding, and at each one, he dodged the question….
“I think the focus now is on caring for those who have lost their lives and lost their homes,” he said.
At least 31 people have died in Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma from the storm since this weekend, while another 11 remain missing in Texas. Cruz promised to do all he could to ensure that Texans get access to the resources they need during the recovery.
Wait a minute. Anti-government Ted Cruz wants the Feds to help Texas? Didn’t he oppose aid to survivors of Hurricane Sandy?
During a press conference on the deadly flooding in Texas, Cruz said, “The federal government’s role, once the Governor declares a disaster area and makes a request, I am confident that the Texas congressional delegation, Sen. Cornyn and I, and the members of Congress both Republicans and Democrats will stand united as Texans in support of the federal government fulfilling its statutory obligations, and stepping in to respond to this natural disaster.
Sen. Cruz sang a completely different tune in 2013 when he called federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy wasteful:
Two-thirds of this spending is not remotely “emergency”; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 30% of the authorized funds would be spent in the next 20 months, and over a billion dollars will be spent as late as 2021.
This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington – an addiction to spending money we do not have. The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt.
Back to the CNN article for more Cruz climate change philosophy:
“It used to be [that] it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier,” he said in an interview with the Texas Tribune.
Cruz also argued that “global warming alarmists” aren’t basing their arguments on facts, because “the satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years.”
Oh really? The point of the article is that Cruz and other Republicans may be leaning toward more moderate attitudes toward climate change research. I’ll believe that when I see it.
More interesting recent articles on climate change:
Dallas Morning News: Exxon CEO holds line on climate change at annual meeting.
Mother Jones Exclusive: The CIA Is Shuttering a Secretive Climate Research Program.
In other news . . .
Bobby Jindal got some attention in Politico for attacking another member of the GOP clown car: Bobby Jindal slams Rand Paul as unfit to be commander in chief.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal lashed out at Sen. Rand Paul for his recent comments about the Islamic State, saying the presidential contender is unfit to be commander in chief and is taking the “weakest, most liberal Democrat position” when it comes to fighting the militant group.
Using unusually harsh rhetoric and an unusual forum, Jindal posted a statement condemning Paul on Wednesday on his “office of the governor” website.
Story Continued Below
“This is a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief,” Jindal said. “We have men and women in the military who are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and Senator Paul is taking the weakest, most liberal Democrat position. It’s one thing for Senator Paul to take an outlandish position as a Senator at Washington cocktail parties, but being Commander-in-Chief is an entirely different job. We should all be clear that evil and Radical Islam are at fault for the rise of ISIS, and people like President Obama and Hillary Clinton exacerbate it.”
The statement from Jindal, who is also a likely GOP presidential contender, came after the Kentucky Republican suggested Wednesday morning that hawkish members of his party were to blame for the rise of the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS.
Paul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS.”
In Touch Weekly has more breaking Duggar news.
In 2006, Jim Bob told Springdale police that he took Josh to see State Trooper Joseph Hutchens and that Josh “admitted to Hutchens what [Josh, redacted] had done,” according to the police report, obtained exclusively by In Touch through the Freedom of Information Act. At this point, there were five victims and multiple molestations by Josh….
Hutchens is serving 56 years in prison for child pornography and admits his “reputation is shot.” He was interviewed by a representative of a local law firm at In Touch‘s request and promised nothing in return for his recollections.
Hutchens’ failure to report the abuse caused the police to halt their 2006 investigation because the statute of limitations ran out.
In the new interview from prison, Hutchens said he was told by Jim Bob and Josh that “Josh had inappropriately touched [redacted] during the time she was asleep. He said he touched her through her clothing and he said it only happened one time.”
He said the fact that it was a one-time incident influenced his decision not to report it. “I did what I thought was right and obviously it wasn’t,” he says. “If I had to do it over again, I would have told him immediately I am going to call the hotline and contacted the trooper that worked those cases and have a full report made. I thought I could handle it myself.
The Duggar family is so corrupt that I expect there could be new revelations about them for months to come.
Here’s a little tidbit that Allie Jones of Gawker Defamer found: Duggar Dad’s Political Platform: Incest Should Be Punishable by Death.
[W]hat does Jim Bob think of his own response to his son’s familial abuse? In a brief statement to People, Jim Bob and Michelle said last week that “that dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.” Maybe that’s because Jim Bob publicly stated during his 2002 campaign for U.S. Senate that he thinks incest should be punishable by death.
Jim Bob’s platform on his campaign website—preserved via web cache—states that he believes “rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes.” Jim Bob offered this belief to explain his position on abortion (only acceptable if both the mother and the baby were going to die anyway, of course)
See the screen shot at the link.
Other stories worth checking out, links only
A story from Politico that will make you–if not Charles Pierce–want to drink antifreeze: Dems view Sanders as bigger threat than O’Malley.
Since O’Malley is no threat at all, how worried could Dems really be?
Ezra Klein pontificates at length about why the SCOTUS anti-Obamacare case is total B.S.: The New York Times blows a hole in the case against Obamacare.
I haven’t read this story from the NYT yet, but I’ll bet it’s hilarious: What George PatakiWould Need to Do to Win. One more clown for the clown car.
NYT reports Climate news from India: Indians Scramble for Heat Relief, but Many Must Still Work.
Washington Post: Breakthrough HIV study could change course of treatment for millions.
BBC News: ‘New species’ of ancient human found.
What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Thursday!
Good Day! I’m way late with this because I simply cannot find much that isn’t just a depressing continuation of the same old same old. The Republican 2016 Clown Car looks to be filled with the same old nonsense. So, I just decided to make you all aware that they are still as crazy as ever. Can some one as stupid as Rand Paul and clearly out of the mainstrain of what generally passes as republican politics win the nomination? Not a day goes buy that Paul hasn’t cooked up some story with no basis in fact, but can the party take that and push it onto the national stage?
Not that long ago, most Republican leaders saw Rand Paul as the head of an important faction who, like his father, ultimately had no shot at becoming the party’s presidential nominee.
Now the question is no longer whether Paul can win the nomination, but whether he can win a general election.
The shift follows a year in which the Kentucky senator has barnstormed the country, trying to expand the party’s base beyond older, white voters and attract a following beyond than the libertarian devotees of his father, Ron Paul. Although the job is far from complete, Paul has made undeniable progress, judging from interviews with more than 30 Republican National Committee members meeting here this week.
That he has struck a chord with this crowd is all the more telling because it is heavy with GOP establishment-types who tend to prefer mainstream candidates.
“I don’t see how anyone could say it’s not possible he’d win the nomination,” Texas GOP chairman Steve Munisteri said. “His mission is to convince people of what his coalition would be in November” 2016.
During a speech Friday to the RNC gathering, Paul received a standing ovation after saying that the GOP didn’t need to dilute its message but that it had to communicate it better to non-traditional audiences — and suggesting implicitly that he’s the guy to do it.
I’m really confused by their continual obsession with trying to communicate their messages better. I’d say most of us hear it loud and clear and we completely reject it along with people that know what they’re doing. Economists, data and studies reject their economics message. Science rejects their messages about women’s anatomy, climate change, and the use of fracking. Humanity rejects the notion that the poor, elderly, and downtrodden should be further ground under the heals of the privileged.
Marco Rubio inkled his interest in the Presidency on the Sunday Talk Show Circuit and showed that his strong point wasn’t science at the same time. He doesn’t believe that humans are contributing to climate change. At least, he didn’t completely deny its existence. This is another one clearly caught in the Koch money trap.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a GOP star and possible 2016 presidential contender, does not believe human activity is causing climate change, he said Sunday.
“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” Rubio said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy,” he added.
A National Climate Assessment released by the White House last week found that Rubio’s home state of Florida is one of the most vulnerable to rising sea levels and changes in temperatures and storm patterns. President Obama has proposed several new regulatory programs to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, which most scientists say are the chief cause of a warming global climate.
Rubio said he doesn’t agree that actions humans take today could affect how the climate is changing.
“Our climate is always changing,” Rubio said. “And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activities.”
My governor continues to deliberately confuse bigotry with ‘religious liberty’. Jindal doesn’t ever register on any of the polls of Republican preferences for 2016, but he’s never ending quest for relevancy and the presidency continues.
Speaking at Liberty University’s 2014 Commencement yesterday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) attacked “elite” liberals who, he claimed, have launched “an assault on the freedom of expression in all areas of life.”
“Today the American people, whether they know it or not, are mired in a silent war,” Jindal began. “It is a war — a silent war — against religious liberty.” He claimed that Obama Administration’sargument against Hobby Lobby “strikes at the core of our understanding of the free exercise of religion.”
“Under the Obama regime,” he continued, “you have protection under the First Amendment as an individual, but the instant you start a business, you lose those protections. And that brings us to the second front in this silent war: the attack on our freedom of association as people of faith.”
Jindal claimed that the Obama Administration would prevent religious groups from selecting “their own ministers or rabbis.” “Thankfully,” he said, the Supreme Court decided to shoot down the administration, “so for the time being, at least, the federal government doesn’t get to decide who can preach the Gospel.”
“Make no mistake — the war over religious liberty is a war over free speech. Without the first, there is no such thing as the second.”
Deliberate misinterpretation of the first amendment seems to be en vogue these days. Just ask the Supremes. The chattering class has been pretty insistent that the Democrats will lose the Senate come elections this fall. Yet, many of the most vulnerable democratic candidates continue to hold their ground.
Democratic candidates are holding their own in three key Senate races despite a daunting political environment for their party in the upcoming midterm elections, according to new NBC News-Marist polls of Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky.
And in one race in particular, Democrats are more than just competitive.
In Arkansas, with less than six months until Election Day 2014, incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., leads Republican challenger Tom Cotton by 11 points among registered voters, 51 percent to 40 percent. (That finding is largely in line with other polling from that race since April showing Pryor either leading or tied.)
In Georgia, Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn is running neck and neck against all of her potential GOP opponents in November.
And in Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is within one point of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell among registered voters, 46 percent to 45 percent.
I personally don’t see any groundswell against Mary Landrieu here in Louisiana. Most of the local papers seem to show that no one knows her potential challenger. Additionally, the Koch ads aren’t having much impact because she’s a strong supporter of the Keystone Oil Pipeline and has been running ads calling for changes in the Affordable Health Care Act. I guess we’ll see how many times these groups can change their ad messages.
One message shift is apparent from la la land. The GOP has gone mostly quiet on ObamaCare with the exception of candidate Scott Brown who wants to repeal its implementation in New Hampshire.
Republicans virtually ignored the final release of ObamaCare’s enrollment numbers and a report that healthcare spending jumped in the first quarter of 2014. Mentions of the law have dwindled in press conferences by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), where they were a mainstay earlier this year.
And on the Senate side, the usual partisan rancor was almost completely absent during last week’s confirmation hearing for the next Health and Human Services secretary. Only a few GOP senators mentioned ObamaCare in their questions, and three Republicans failed to attend the event at all.The House has no plans to vote on ObamaCare legislation in May, according to a memo from Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) released late last month.
It is also unclear when the party’s replacement proposal for the law will come to a vote.
Despite pressure from conservatives, Cantor has not committed to put a bill on the House floor by August recess.
Democratic leaders have long insisted the law would boost their electoral hopes in the fall, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) predicted this week that GOP opposition would haunt Republicans.
“The Republican position of repeal has become increasingly problematic for GOP Senate candidates, so it’s no surprise that they’re beginning to abandon their failed strategy of wasting millions attacking Democrats on ObamaCare,” said DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky.
On the campaign trail, it is clear that some candidates and groups are starting to pivot.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently launched its first major ad campaign looking toward the general election.
While all the ads touted GOP lawmakers’ and candidates’ work to boost the economy and create jobs, only a handful made mention of ObamaCare.
Looking toward his general election fight, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released an ad last week that also focused on job creation.
I posted this down thread a few days ago, but really would like to end on Teddy Kennedy’s true defense of religious liberty given at Liberty Baptist College . It stands in stark contrast to the speech given by my Demon Governor. This is what religious liberty looks and sounds like.
The founders of our nation had long bitter experience with the state, as both the agent and the adversary of particular religious views. In colonial Maryland, Catholics paid a double land tax, and in Pennsylvania they had to list their names on a public roll — an ominous precursor of the first Nazi laws against the Jews. And Jews in turn faced discrimination in all of the thirteen original Colonies. Massachusetts exiled Roger Williams and his congregation for contending that civil government had no right to enforce the Ten Commandments. Virginia harassed Baptist teachers, and also established a religious test for public service, writing into the law that no “popish followers” could hold any office.
But during the Revolution, Catholics, Jews, and Non-Conformists all rallied to the cause and fought valiantly for the American commonwealth — for John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill.” Afterwards, when the Constitution was ratified and then amended, the framers gave freedom for all religion, and from any established religion, the very first place in the Bill of Rights.
Indeed the framers themselves professed very different faiths: Washington was an Episcopalian, Jefferson a deist, and Adams a Calvinist. And although he had earlier opposed toleration, John Adams later contributed to the building of Catholic churches, and so did George Washington. Thomas Jefferson said his proudest achievement was not the presidency, or the writing the Declaration of Independence, but drafting the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. He stated the vision of the first Americans and the First Amendment very clearly: “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.”
The separation of church and state can sometimes be frustrating for women and men of religious faith. They may be tempted to misuse government in order to impose a value which they cannot persuade others to accept. But once we succumb to that temptation, we step onto a slippery slope where everyone’s freedom is at risk. Those who favor censorship should recall that one of the first books ever burned was the first English translation of the Bible. As President Eisenhower warned in 1953, “Don’t join the book burners…the right to say ideas, the right to record them, and the right to have them accessible to others is unquestioned — or this isn’t America.” And if that right is denied, at some future day the torch can be turned against any other book or any other belief. Let us never forget: Today’s Moral Majority could become tomorrow’s persecuted minority.
The danger is as great now as when the founders of the nation first saw it. In 1789, their fear was of factional strife among dozens of denominations. Today there are hundreds — and perhaps even thousands of faiths — and millions of Americans who are outside any fold. Pluralism obviously does not and cannot mean that all of them are right; but it does mean that there are areas where government cannot and should not decide what it is wrong to believe, to think, to read, and to do. As Professor Larry Tribe, one of the nation’s leading constitutional scholars has written, “Law in a non-theocratic state cannot measure religious truth, nor can the state impose it.”
The real transgression occurs when religion wants government to tell citizens how to live uniquely personal parts of their lives. The failure of Prohibition proves the futility of such an attempt when a majority or even a substantial minority happens to disagree. Some questions may be inherently individual ones, or people may be sharply divided about whether they are. In such cases, like Prohibition and abortion, the proper role of religion is to appeal to the conscience of the individual, not the coercive power of the state.
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Good Morning! And welcome to a week that may set global records for hot as hell!!!
The heat wave in the country isn’t the only item that convinces me that many folks want to bring hell straight to the US. Look what’s going on in Ohio which hasn’t got the coverage of what’s going on in Texas but is equally if not more insidious.
Before signing a $62 billion, two-year budget into law tonight, Gov. John Kasich used his line-item veto pen to strike language seen as a barrier to progress on expanding Medicaid while talks continue on the broader expansion the governor has sought.
But he left intact all of the controversial provisions seen as restricting abortions as well as language allowing local government bodies to meet secretly behind closed doors in executive session when discussing economic incentive packages for businesses.
The governor left immediately after signing the budget without taking questions from reporters about his vetoes.
The budget promises a net $2.6 billion net tax cut, consisting chiefly of a 10 percent across-the-board income tax for all taxpayers over three years and a 50 percent cut on the first $250,000 earned by small businesses.
“I’m proud of the tax cuts because I think it’s another installment in Ohio’s comeback,” Mr. Kasich said.
But it also comes with some trade-offs, including a hike in the state sales tax from 5.5 cents on the dollar to 5.75 cents. The budget also draws the line on its subsidization of local property tax bills, saying the state will no longer pay the first 12.5 percent on any new levies that voters approve beginning with those on the ballot this November.
The budget also holds $717 million more over the next two years for K-12 schools, an 11 percent increase. It does not full make up, however, for the cuts schools suffered in the current budget, in part because of the expiration of one-time federal stimulus dollars.
Pro-choice advocates had placed all their hopes in stopping the abortion restrictions from taking place on Mr. Kasich, but Mr. Kasich allowed all of the provisions to stay.
Those provisions included language making it tougher for abortion clinics to get emergency care transfer agreements that they must have with a local hospital in order to keep their licenses by prohibiting publicly funded hospitals from entering into such arrangements.
A last-minute addition that requires a doctor to performing abortions to first perform an ultrasound to detect a fetal heartbeat and then offer to let the woman seeking an abortion hear or see that heartbeat. Failure to following this procedure could lead to criminal prosecution of the doctor.
The budget also places Planned Parenthood at the end of the line when it comes to distributing Ohio’s share of federal family planning funds.
Forecasters called for more supercharged temperatures Sunday as a heat wave gripped the Southwest, leaving one man dead and another hospitalized in serious condition in heat-aggravated incidents in this sunbaked city.
Temperatures in Las Vegas shot up to 115 degrees on Saturday afternoon, two degrees short of a record, while Phoenix baked in 119 degrees. Large swaths of California sweltered under extreme heat warnings, which are expected to last into Tuesday night — and maybe even longer.
In Death Valley — known as the hottest place on Earth — temps reached 125, according to the National Weather Service. Death Valley’s record high of 134 degrees, set nearly a century ago on July 10, 1913, stands as the planet’s highest recorded temperature.
Las Vegas fire and rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski said paramedics responded to a home without air conditioning and found an elderly man dead. He said while the man had medical issues, paramedics thought the heat worsened his condition.
Paramedics said another elderly man suffered a heat stroke when the air conditioner in his car went out for several hours while he was on a long road trip. He stopped in Las Vegas, called 911 and was taken to the hospital in serious condition.
Senate Democrats will try to resurrect a United Nations treaty on rights for the disabled that was rejected last year over GOP concerns it would imperil home-schooling.
The treaty fell five votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority in a 61-38 vote in December after former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) led a charge that it would give unelected UN bureaucrats the power to challenge U.S. home-schooling.
Treaty supporters say those worries were unfounded, and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations panel hopes to win approval of the treaty, a Senate Democratic aide said.Menendez hopes to strike a deal on a way forward with the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who voted against the treaty last year.
While last year’s vote took place after the presidential election, advocates believe the debate got tied up in election-year politics and that a revote this session could be successful.
The treaty would extend the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act to people with disabilities around the world, including Americans living abroad, according to advocates.
“We believe very much there is a path forward for victory,” said Marca Bristo, president of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities. “If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be putting in this effort.”
Opponents have long warned that it may come back up. Last month, the Home School Legal Defense Association jumped the gun and sent out an action alert to its members warning – inaccurately – that Menendez’s panel had scheduled a hearing for June 4.
“Thank you for joining us in this battle to protect our children and our children’s future,” wrote association president J. Michael Smith. “You defeated this treaty last year. Standing together, we can defeat this treaty once again.”
The treaty’s path to ratification remains a challenging one.
One thing is certain about the bevy of legislation targeting women being introduced by conservative men. Women are mad and they aren’t taking it anymore. One female lawmaker in Ohio has introduced bill that would regulate men’s reproductive health.
According to the Dayton Daily News, State Senator Nina Turner introduced SB 307, which requires men to visit a sex therapist, undergo a cardiac stress test, and get their sexual partner to sign a notarized affidavit confirming impotency in order to get a prescription for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs. The bill also requires men who take the drugs to be continually “tested for heart problems, receive counseling about possible side effects and receive information about “pursuing celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.””
The bill is a response to the Republican effort to pass House Bill 125, which would ban abortion if the fetus has a heartbeat, which is about six weeks after conception. Turner, an opponent of the bill, says if Republicans are allowed to legislate women’s health, men’s health should also be regulated. “I certainly want to stand up for men’s health and take this seriously and legislate it the same way mostly men say they want to legislate a woman’s womb,” Turner said.
I’m not sure a lot of you know what it’s like to have a Republican Governor these days implementing the Koch Brothers and ALEC agenda. I thought I’d focus a little bit on that. I hope those of you that live in Red States–like me–and are horrified at what’s coming down the pike in your neck of the woods will share. Yes. I just don’t stop writing about ALEC. I can’t. It’s like watching a train come down the track knowing that all of your friends are bolted right to it.
So, climate change is one of those topics where Republicans love to be deep in denial. What’s it like to be in one of the hottest Red States in the US and have a governor that’s basically ensuring that you’re in the fire or the frying pan? This one is for my birth state of Oklahoma where my Dad grew up during the worst of the dust bowl days. They have one of the dumbest damn Senators on the planet. Here’s the ever quotable and insane Jim Imhofe.
Oklahoma is another state that experienced its warmest year on record. The average temperature in the Sooner State was 63 degrees. The USDA today declared a drought disaster in 76 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.
When it comes to climate change denial, Republican senator James Inhofe takes the top prize for outrageous statements. His anti-environmental stances are even more dangerous because Inhofe serves as the ranking member of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and was its chairman from 2003 to 2007.
In a 2003 Senate speech, Inhofe said that “catastrophic global warming is a hoax.” Last year, Inhofe stated on a Christian radio show that the Bible refutes climate change, saying “God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”
Down here in Louisiana, we’re mired in a recession and have had our public health and education systems gutted to the point that the accrediting institution for LSU is asking if any one’s in charge of the system. So, what’s that freak of nature Governor Bobby Jindal up to? He wants to eliminate our state income taxes and corporate taxes. I have no idea how a got stuck in a Pinochet-like hell realm but here I am.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing the complete elimination of income and corporate taxes in the state, and says he wants to replace the revenue by increasing sales taxes.
The Times-Picayune reported that Jindal is in the process of fleshing out the tax reform proposal, the goal of which, according to a statement from the Governor’s office and given to the paper, “is to eliminate all personal income tax and all corporate income tax in a revenue neutral manner. We want to keep the sales tax as low and flat as possible.”
“Eliminating personal income taxes will put more money back into the pockets of Louisiana families and will change a complex tax code into a more simple system that will make Louisiana more attractive to companies who want to invest here and create jobs,” Jindal says in the statement.
“Tax reform will remove administrative burdens from families and small businesses and improve Louisiana’s business prospects; create more business investment opportunities with increased job growth; and raise the state’s profile in national business rankings,” the statement continues.
“The bottom line is that for too long, Louisiana’s workers and small businesses have suffered from having a state tax structure that is too complex and that holds back economic prosperity. It’s time to change that so people can keep more of their own money and foster an environment where businesses want to invest and create good-paying jobs.”
Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott has rejected the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. And now he’s in hot water for apparently inflating the cost of the expansion to Floridians in order to justify his decision.
The website Health News Florida reported Tuesday that Scott was warned in letters by the state legislature’s top economist and budget analyst that his administration’s figure — that the expansion would cost the state $26 billion over 10 years — was false.
Scott’s aide reportedly said, in emails obtained by HNF, that the figure was based on the assumption that the federal government — which is tasked with paying for the vast majority of each state’s Medicaid expansion for the first decade — would not fulfill its promise.
But after the report was published and caused a stir, including scathing criticism from Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Scott said through a spokeswoman that his Agency for Health Care Administration would consider alternate cost estimates.
“AHCA’s report concluded that adding people to Medicaid under the new law would cost Florida $26 billion over 10 years,” said Scott’s aide Melissa Sellers. “Others have asked AHCA to use different assumptions to calculate different cost estimates. We look forward to reviewing those cost estimates as well.”
Castor accused Scott — a former hospital executive who rose to national prominence in 2009 while campaigning against the ACA — of deliberately deceiving Floridians.
“Not only did Gov. Scott manufacture flawed cost estimates, but it appears he had been advised that the numbers were flawed and used them anyway,” Castor said in a statement. “Florida Legislative Appropriations staff advised the governor’s office that the numbers were misleading, but it appears that the governor ignored it. … Clearly this was not a mistake. Knowing that the numbers are wrong and using them anyway is.”
Both Jindal and Scott have lifted their agendas directly from ALEC. Wisconsin is another state being driven into developing nation status by rogue legislation designed to enrich the wealthy. Here’s a list of bills to watch for in that state.
Wisconsin’s 2011-2012 legislative session saw the introduction of 32 bills or budget provisions reflecting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation — including Governor Scott Walker’s contentious attack on public sector collective bargaining, voter ID legislation, and bills that make it harder for Americans to hold corporations accountable when their products injure or kill — and 19 of those proposals became law.
What pieces of the ALEC playbook might be on the agenda for the 2013-2014 session, which began this week?
One of my favorite Louisiana Bloggers –Professor Robert Mann–has read and reported on the “snake oil” agenda of ALEC and how it’s impacted the economic viability of the states I grew up in. This study comes from the state of Iowa where I spent most of my grade school days and where my dad was a small town Ford dealer. Here’s a great synopsis that discusses how that trickle-down, voodoo economics is bad for state economies. I’ve written many times about the Laffer curve and its absurd hypothesis which has been refuted by study-after-study. This should be just one more nail in the voodoo economics coffin.
That scrutiny comes in the form of a November 2012 report by the Good Jobs First and Iowa Policy Project, “Selling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity.” The report, written by Greg LeRoy and Philip Mattera, concludes:
A hard look at the actual data finds that the Alec-Laffer recommendations not only fail to predict positive results for state economies—the policies they endorse actually forecast worse state outcomes for job creation and paychecks. That is, states that were rated higher on ALEC’s Economic Outlook Ranking in 2007, based on 15 “fiscal and regulatory policy variables,” have actually been doing worse economically in the years since, while the less a state conformed with ALEC policies the better off it was.
Read the report for yourself. It’s a treasure-trove of evidence debunking the whole wacky supply-side economic theories that have governed the Republican Party for the past 30 years. But here are a few helpful excerpts that are particularly relevant to those of us who live in states, like Louisiana, with governors totally beholden to the corporate interests that are selling this economic snake oil.
ALEC-Laffer claim that lowering state and local taxes produces much greater job growth; in actuality, such taxes are such a tiny cost factor for businesses, and come with higher taxes on others or lower quality public services, that such a strategy fails
ALEC-Laffer claim that a low top personal income tax rate is a key to small business success; in actuality, property and sales taxes—ignored by ALEC-Laffer—are far more important issues
ALEC-Laffer claim that high top personal income tax rates and the presence of estate and inheritance taxes cause large-scale out-migration of high-income individuals; in reality, migration has little to do with taxes, and there is no plausible case for state estate taxes affecting job-creating investment
The ALEC report asserts that state tax rates in many instances approach “Laffer Curve” territory, where tax cuts would actually increase tax revenue; in reality, tax cuts reduce revenue and result in the defunding of public goods such as education and infrastructure, which really do matter for economic development
A remarkable finding in the Iowa Policy Project report, stated a few paragraphs above, is worth repeating: states that swallowed ALEC’s economic snake oil have done worse than state that did not.
. . . actual results are the opposite of the ALEC claim. The more a state’s policies mirrored the ALEC low-tax/regressive taxation/limited government agenda, the lower the median family income; this is true for every year from 2007 through 2011. . . . The relationship is not only negative each year, it also became worse over time: the better a state did on the ALEC Outlook Ranking, the more family income declined from 2007 to 2011. . . . The more a state followed the Alec-Laffer policies, the higher its poverty rate, every year from 2007 to 2011.
And what do Fisher and Mattera prescribe in lieu of the ALEC snake oil? Well, they advise against slashing income taxes to spur small business job growth, explaining
Income taxes, on the other hand, are low or nonexistent in the early years of a business when it is showing losses; they are payable only to the extent that a business has gotten off the ground and is generating a profit, and even then will often remain low, or nonexistent, for years as the early losses are carried forward. Clearly if a state wants to encourage entrepreneurship and help really small businesses, it should shift taxes from sales and property to income. But Rich States, Poor States would have us do the reverse. It’s another example of how ALEC and Laffer are fixated on progressivity (which most affects high-income individuals and larger corporations) and will employ any argument, valid or not, against it.
For those interested in learning what really does spur economic growth in states, the authors of the Iowa Policy Project study note that there exists “a large volume of research investigating this question over the past 40 years.” And what is the conclusion of these studies?
The preponderance of the evidence from many dozens of studies over a period of 30 years or more is that business tax cuts, if they could be enacted without cutting public spending, have some positive growth effect on state economic growth, but that this effect is quite small. These statistically controlled policy experiments are in effect holding all else equal. It is important to understand what this means. The research does not imply that a 10 percent cut in taxes on business that is paid for by cutting 10 percent of the state budget would produce 3 percent growth. Such a balanced budget policy (and states of course must balance their budgets) might well produce no growth at all, especially in the long run, because budget cuts necessarily mean cuts in state and local services essential to the functioning of the economy. As [Professor Timothy] Bartik himself has said: “[A]n economic development policy of business tax cuts may fail to increase jobs in a state or metropolitan area if it leads to a deterioration of public services to business. An economic development policy of tax increases may succeed in increasing jobs if it significantly improves public services to business.”
The authors’ conclusion is fairly simple and impressively substantiated in their report: ALEC’s snake oil does little more than provide “a recipe for economic inequality and declining incomes for most citizens and for depriving state and local governments of the revenue needed to maintain public infrastructure and education systems that are the underpinnings of long-term economic growth.”
That’s also a very nice summary of Jindal’s failed approach to government.
What really makes this so shameful is that these Banana Republic-style agendas are being subsidized by Blue States. There are very few economically viable Red States in our country. They could not exist on their own as they are in worse shape than countries like Greece. They stymie policy at the national level and continue to subsidize their backward growth agendas with federal monies. However, they are not beyond complaining about government spending will sucking it in like a big ol’ black hole.
Palazzo is one of 67 House Republicans to have voted against the federal flood insurance expansion; many of those said that the funds need to be offset by cuts to other areas of the federal budget. Think Progress reported that 37 of the dissenting members had previously backed federal disaster aid for their home states. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), the House Republican Conference vice chairwoman, told HuffPost in a statement that she voted against the flood insurance money due to concerns about the long-term debt of the flood program and a need to protect flood insurance funding for Kansas residents.
It’s amazing to me that so many folks living in the states where I’ve spent most of my life do not wake up and smell the cafe au lait and the feed lots! I’ve always found the scent of both very hard to miss.
Meanwhile, red districts and states continually send us the likes of Michelle Bachmann with their conspiracy theories and insane outlook on life. Bachmann’s silly ass is right back in a seat on the intelligence committee despite the very clear threat she has brought to he life of US public servants.. She also introduce the first HR that once again seeks to overturn the HCRA. Meanwhile, Paul Ryan has just introduced another “Personhood” HR. This is what we get from these Red State Whackadoodles.
It’s amazing to me how these people continually waste our money and time while wrecking our economy with completely rogue and disproved ideology. It’s clear that the ALEC agenda is all about plumping us turkeys up for their corporate feasts.
So, I’ve written way too much and ranted way too long. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?