Mostly Monday Reads: All Things Spiraling in the Dark

M74 shines at its brightest in this combined optical/mid-infrared image, featuring data from both the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

For as long as I can remember, Scientists have been dangling the hope that Fusion Power would solve all of our energy problems. The official announcement will come via the Department of Energy tomorrow. We have some of the news already. It appears to be an essential breakthrough that gets us further toward the ultimate goal of carbon-free and nuclear waste-free energy. This is from CNN: 

For the first time ever, US scientists at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California successfully produced a nuclear fusion reaction resulting in a net energy gain – a source familiar with the project confirmed to CNN.

The US Department of Energy is expected to officially announce the breakthrough Tuesday.

The result of the experiment is a massive step in a decadeslong quest to unleash an infinite source of clean energy that could help end dependence on fossil fuels. Researchers have for decades attempted to recreate nuclear fusion – replicating the fusion that powers the sun.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will make an announcement Tuesday on a “major scientific breakthrough,” the department announced Sunday. The breakthrough was first reported by the Financial Times.

Nuclear fusion happens when two or more atoms are fused into one larger one, a process that generates a massive amount of energy as heat.

Scientists across the globe have been inching toward the breakthrough; in February, UK scientists announced they had more than doubled the previous record for generating and sustaining nuclear fusion.

In a huge donut-shaped machine called a tokamak outfitted with giant magnets, scientists working near Oxford were able to generate a record-breaking amount of sustained energy. Even so, it only lasted 5 seconds.

The heat sustained by the process of fusing the atoms together holds the key to helping produce energy.

As CNN reported earlier this year, the process of fusion creates helium and neutrons – which are lighter in mass than the parts from which they were originally made.

The missing mass then converts to an enormous amount of energy. The neutrons, which are able to escape the plasma, then hit a “blanket” lining the walls of the tokamak, and their kinetic energy transfers as heat. This heat can then be used to warm water, create steam and power turbines to generate power.

A composite image of M51 with X-rays from Chandra and optical light from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope contains a box that marks the location of the possible planet candidate.
Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/R. DiStefano et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/Grendler

This Washington Post article mentions, “Scientists hit a key milestone in the quest to create abundant zero-carbon power through nuclear fusion. But they still have a long way to go.”

In the decades scientists have been experimenting with fusion reactions, they had not until now been able to create one that produces more energy than it consumes. While the achievement is significant, there are still monumental engineering and scientific challenges ahead.

Creating the net energy gain required engagement of one of the largest lasers in the world, and the resources needed to recreate the reaction on the scale required to make fusion practical for energy production are immense. More importantly, engineers have yet to develop machinery capable of affordably turning that reaction into electricity that can be practically deployed to the power grid.

Building devices that are large enough to create fusion power at scale, scientists say, would require materials that are extraordinarily difficult to produce. At the same time, the reaction creates neutrons that put a tremendous amount of stress on the equipment creating it, such that it can get destroyed in the process.

And then there is the question of whether the technology could be perfected in time to make a dent in climate change.

Even so, researchers and investors in fusion technology hailed the breakthrough as an important advancement.

“There is going to be great pride that this is something that happened in the United States,” said David Edelman, who leads policy and global affairs at TAE, a large private fusion energy company. “This is a very important milestone on the road toward fusion energy.”

Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888, Musée d’Orsay, Paris‎, France.

While most of us want to leave a better world to future generations, there are still those who wish to recreate the past with all its divisiveness, oppression, and intolerance of others. The Southern Poverty Law Center has a frightening report to share. “White Nationalists, Other Republicans Brace for ‘Total War. “A collection of radical right figures including white nationalists and ultranationalist European leaders gathered in Manhattan for the New York Young Republicans Club’s (NYYRC) annual gala Saturday night, where that group’s president declared “total war” on perceived enemies.”

“We want to cross the Rubicon. We want total war. We must be prepared to do battle in every arena. In the media. In the courtroom. At the ballot box. And in the streets,” NYYRC president Gavin Wax declared to a room full of supporters at 583 Park Ave., an event venue on New York’s Upper East side.

“This is the only language the left understands. The language of pure and unadulterated power,” Wax added.

At the five-hour event, which Hatewatch reporters attended, white nationalists Peter and Lydia Brimelow of VDARE hobnobbed with Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser and White House official. Donald Trump Jr. was also in attendance.

Republicans publicly lauded members of an Austrian political party founded by World War II-era German Nazi party members. Racist political operative Jack Posobiec shared jokes across a table with Josh Hammer, the opinion editor of Newsweek. Multiple recently elected GOP congresspeople applauded Marjorie Taylor Greene, who told the NYYRC crowd in the event’s closing remarks that the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol would have succeeded if she had planned it and that the insurrectionists would have been armed.

“Then Jan. 6 happened. And next thing you know, I organized the whole thing, along with Steve Bannon,” Greene said, referring to allegations that she had led reconnaissance tours of the Capitol for soon-to-be insurrectionists in the days prior to the violence.

“I will tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I organized that, we would have won,” she said, as attendees erupted in cheers and applause. “Not to mention, it would’ve been armed.”

James Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket, 1875, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI, USA.

The article has more background information on the event’s attendees, groups, and history. It’s not a fun read but a necessary one. I’ve tried hard to understand what makes these people angry and aggrieved. It appears to be raw hatred aimed at anyone who doesn’t fit their mold and might challenge their ability to hog all the power and money.

CBS News reports that Marjorie Taylor Green and Donald Trump, Jr. attended the event. Their speeches were what you would expect. “White House: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s latest Jan. 6 comments a “slap in the face” to law enforcement, victims’ families.”

The White House is reacting sharply to comments made over the weekend by Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and how the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, might have gone if she had indeed been its ringleader.

The Georgia Republican spoke Saturday at a dinner hosted by the New York Young Republican Club and recounted how her critics have incorrectly labeled her an organizer of the insurrection that left one person shot dead and led to the deaths of two other police officers.

“I want to tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. Not to mention, we would’ve been armed,” she said Saturday, according to the New York Post.

She also criticized ongoing U.S. funding for the war in Ukraine and called on Republicans to back former president Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign.

In comments shared first with CBS News, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said it “goes against our fundamental values as a country for a Member of Congress to wish that the carnage of January 6th had been even worse, and to boast that she would have succeeded in an armed insurrection against the United States government. This violent rhetoric is a slap in the face to the Capitol Police, the DC Metropolitan Police, the National Guard, and the families who lost loved ones as a result of the attack on the Capitol. All leaders have a responsibility to condemn these dangerous, abhorrent remarks and stand up for our Constitution and the rule of law.”

Tarsila do Amaral, The Moon, 1928, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA. Courtesy of Tarsila do Amaral.

You may read the New York Post article. It has information about Don Jr.

Her appearance followed remarks by Donald Trump, Jr., who similarly bashed the “woke” left while expressing glee about how House Republicans might treat Hunter Biden next year.

With Musk releasing troves of data this week showing how Twitter executives decided to suppress a 2020 exclusive story by The Post about Hunter Biden’s laptop, Trump Jr. said it was one more example of how supposed conspiracy theories can turn out to be true.

“Holy s–t … if that was my laptop, I’d be in trouble,” he said.

“Hunter gets to sell art for 200 grand yesterday. So I was thinking about doing some art. I could do some finger painting like Hunter,” Trump added.

He told the friendly audience they needed to similarly speak out no matter how politically incorrect or offensive rightwing talking points might be.

“We need people to be out there unafraid,” Trump Jr. said.

But, her emails.

René Magritte, The Mysteries of the Horizon, 1955, private collection. WikiArt.

Politico reports today on “What the Jan. 6 select committee’s final report will look like. A large executive summary describes former President Donald Trump’s culpability for his extensive and baseless effort to subvert the 2020 election, according to people briefed on its contents.”

The Jan. 6 select committee’s final report will begin with a voluminous executive summary describing former President Donald Trump’s culpability for his extensive and baseless effort to subvert the 2020 election, according to people briefed on its contents.

Drafts of the report, which the people briefed say have been circulating among committee members for weeks, include thousands of footnotes drawn from the panel’s interviews and research over the past 16 months into Trump’s activities in the frenzied final weeks that preceded Jan. 6, 2021 — when a mob of his supporters battered police and stormed the Capitol.

The committee members are expected to formally approve the report at a Dec. 21 public meeting of the panel described by Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). Lawmakers will be able to propose final edits before the draft is expected to be sent to the Government Publishing Office for printing later this week.

The final report, according to those briefed on it, will have eight chapters that align closely with the evidence the panel unveiled during its public hearings in June and July:

  1. Trump’s effort to sow distrust in the results of the election
  2. Trump’s pressure on state governments or legislatures to overturn victories by Joe Biden
  3. Trump campaign efforts to send pro-Trump electors to Washington from states won by Biden
  4. Trump’s push to deploy the Justice Department in service of his election scheme
  5. The pressure campaign by Trump and his lawyers against then-Vice President Mike Pence
  6. Trump’s effort to summon supporters to Washington who later fueled the Jan. 6 mob
  7. The 187 minutes during which Trump refused to tell rioters to leave the Capitol
  8. An analysis of the attack on the Capitol

A person familiar with the drafting of the report emphasized that the report itself may not be limited to an executive summary and the eight chapters and is also expected to include appendices that capture more aspects of the committee’s investigation. The complete report is expected to include investigative findings from all of the select committee’s five investigative teams, which probed Trump’s actions, the mob, the role of extremism in the attack, the money trail behind Trump’s Jan. 6 rally and law enforcement failures on Jan. 6. A committee spokesperson declined to comment.

Harald Sohlberg, Summer Night, 1899, The National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design, Oslo, Norway.

CNN Politics reports, “Special Counsel Smith speeds ahead on criminal probes surrounding Trump.”

Publicly released court filings have already made clear Trump is under investigation for the mishandling of national security secrets after his presidency.

But the other investigative team, looking at efforts to block the transfer of power from Trump to President Joe Biden after the 2020 election, had even a year ago been given the greenlight by the Justice Department to take a case all the way up to Trump, if the evidence leads them there, according to the sources. Work that’s been led by the DC US Attorney’s Office into political circles around Trump related to January 6 now will move under the special counsel.

Partly led by former Maryland-based federal prosecutor Thomas Windom, DOJ has added prosecutors to the January 6 team from all over the department in recent months. Windom and the rest are also expected to move over to the special counsel’s office. Some, like Mary Dohrmann, a prosecutor who’s worked on several other Capitol riot cases already, appear to be reorienting, according to court records of open Capitol riot cases.

Another top prosecutor, JP Cooney, the former head of public corruption in the DC US Attorney’s Office, is overseeing a significant financial probe that Smith will take on. The probe includes examining the possible misuse of political contributions, according to some of the sources. The DC US Attorney’s Office, before the special counsel’s arrival, had examined potential financial crimes related to the January 6 riot, including possible money laundering and the support of rioters’ hotel stays and bus trips to Washington ahead of January 6.

In recent months, however, the financial investigation has sought information about Trump’s post-election Save America PAC and other funding of people who assisted Trump, according to subpoenas viewed by CNN. The financial investigation picked up steam as DOJ investigators enlisted cooperators months after the 2021 riot, one of the sources said.

In interviews with people in Trump’s orbit over the past several months, some of the DOJ focus has been on the timeline leading up to January 6 and Trump’s involvement and knowledge of potential events that day, according to a source familiar with the questioning.

I will end here since I have an afternoon of doctor appointments and vaccines ahead of me. You may find out more about my art selections today here. 

What’s on your blogging and reading list today?

Memorial Day Reads

Flag-Flower-Vintage-Post-CardGood Morning Every One!

I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday weekend!

Bob Dole is an interesting man and definitely a war hero.  He was also a Republican who served at a point in time when Republicans were interested in solving problems–not creating them–and had a fairly consistent view of things.  Although I will never, for the life of me, understand how exactly a party that wants to be the party of small government seems to be so interested in what goes on in people’s beds and bodies.

I just remember him now being wheeled to the Senate to pass a really important piece of legislation that the party shot down because of some weird conspiracy theories.  They walked right by a man in a wheel chair that has given a lot to this country and ignored his pleas to recognize his right to have access to life.  He spoke out yesterday and the comments were doozies.

Asked on “Fox News Sunday” if the Senate was broken, Dole responded that “it is bent pretty badly.”

“It seems almost unreal that we can’t get together on a budget, or legislation,” said Dole, who served in the Senate from 1969 to 1996. “We weren’t perfect by a long shot, but at least we got our work done.”

Dole came back to the Senate last December to support a United Nations treaty to bar discrimination against people with disabilities, which failed after a vast majority of Republicans declined to support it.

Dole said in his Fox News interview that he isn’t sure there would be a place for him and other big-time Republicans of his generation, like Presidents Reagan and Nixon, in the current GOP.

“Reagan couldn’t have made it. Certainly, Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it,” said Dole, who called himself a “mainstream conservative Republican.”

“I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says closed for repairs, until New Year’s Day next year, and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas,” Dole said about the current state of his party.

I thought the comment about Nixon was particularly interesting. He was a man of ideas.  Those ideas also included attracting the Southern Confederates into the party that now are the big problem.  That sure is a bold idea.  Attract a bunch of folks with a history of insurgencies. So, the sorry state of the nation has a lot to do with Nixon’s big ideas and Reagan’s big ideas and we basically have Obama throwing together Dolecare which was a big idea in its time too.  I think we need fewer big ideas and more solutions.

Because people are hurting.9158220-handpainted-vintage-postcard-for-memorial-day-1909-with-text

 The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.

1. Almost half of Americans had NO assets in 2009

Analysis of  Economic Policy Institute data shows that Mitt Romney’s famous  47 percent, the alleged ‘takers,’ have taken nothing. Their debt exceeded their assets in 2009.

2. It’s Even Worse 3 Years Later

Since the recession, the disparities have continued to grow. An  OECD report states that “inequality has increased by more over the past three years to the end of 2010 than in the previous twelve,” with the U.S. experiencing one of the widest gaps among OECD countries. The 30-year  decline in wages has worsened since the recession, as low-wage jobs have  replaced formerly secure middle-income positions.

3. Over half of Americans are now IN poverty.

According to IRS data, the average household in the bottom 50% brings in about  $18,000 per year. That’s less than the  poverty line for a family of three ($19,000) or a family of four ($23,000).

4. 75% of Americans are NEAR poverty.

The average household in the bottom 75% earns about  $31,000 per year. To be eligible for food assistance, a family can earn up to  130% of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000 for a family of four.

Incredibly, Congress is trying to  cut food assistance. Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee referred to food stamps as “stealing.” He added a Biblical quote: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” A recent  jobs hearing in Washington was attended by  one Congressman.

5. Putting it in Perspective

Inequality is at its ugliest for the hungriest people. While food support was being targeted for cuts, just  20 rich Americans made as much from their 2012 investments as the entire  2012 SNAP (food assistance) budget, which serves 47 million people.

card00411_frWe’re abusing all of our resources.  Here’s research that shows how quickly we’re draining our aquifers.  They are a key source of fresh water.

Since 1900, the U.S. has pulled enough water from underground aquifers to fill two Lake Eries. And in just the first decade of the 21st century, we’ve extracted underground water sufficient to raise global sea level by more than 2 percent. We suck up 25 cubic kilometers of buried water per year.

That’s the message from the U.S. Geological Survey’s evaluation of how the U.S. is managing its aquifers. Or mismanaging. For example: water levels in the aquifer that underlies the nation’s bread basket have dropped in some places by as much as 160 feet.

So, I have an update on the newly found grave of England’s King Richard III.

Researchers from the University of Leicester have revealed in the journal Antiquity that the remains of King Richard III had been buried in an untidy grave, “without any pomp or solemn funeral,” as the medieval historian Polydore Vergil had written. There were no signs of a coffin or a shroud, and the lozenge-shaped grave was too short for his body, which had been placed on one side of the hole. Additional evidence suggests that the defeated king’s hands may have been tied. Other medieval graves in the town had been carefully dug to the correct length and with vertical sides.

So, the world is atwitter with a possible sunrise in Japan.  There’s even a name for it “Abenomics”.  I will try to tackle the whole thing some time this week but I thought I’d mention that Japanese women will still be left out no matter what the outcome.

The World Economic Forum ranks Japan a dismal 101st in gender equality out 135 countries — behind Azerbaijan, Indonesia and China. Not a single Nikkei 225 company is run by a woman. Female participation in politics is negligible, and the male-female wage gap is double the average in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.

One number explains why Japan must pull women into the job market and help them achieve leadership roles: 15 percent. That’s how much of a boost that gross domestic product would receive if female employment matched men’s (about 80 percent), says Kathy Matsui, the chief Japan equity strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

“Japan is lagging because it’s running a marathon with one leg,” says Matsui, who has been churning out “Womenomics” reports regularly since 1999. “It must start tapping its most underutilized resource.”

Abe is acting from fiscal necessity, not from a sense of social justice. Japan’s workforce is shrinking as the population ages and the birthrate declines. That might be manageable if not for a public debt more than twice the size of the $5.9 trillion economy. Politically, increasing the number of women workers is an easier sell than opening up Japan to immigrant labor.

The deal is that some of the Abenomics suggestions to correct some of these issues for women are strikingly patriarchal.

The government is considering circulating “Women’s Notebooks” to warn of the evils of postponing marriage and motherhood. Yes, career-oriented women are selfish. When Abe calls on companies to provide three years of maternity leave, he uses a Japanese expression that a child should be held by its mother until the age of 3. In other words, kids are women’s work. (In fact, knowing that a three-year absence could derail their careers, many women are likely to further delay childbirth.)

Abe’s government should begin by actually enforcing the 1986 Equal Employment Opportunity Law. Japan should promote diversity and offer tax incentives to companies that do, as well. More-flexible work hours would draw women into the workforce. So would offering subsidized or free day care so more families can afford it.

At least Japan is trying to have a discussion.  All we get here are cuts to early child education and care and less access to reproductive health care and family planning.

Pussy Riot band member Maria Alyokhina ha announced a prison hunger strike

A parole hearing in the Russian town of Berezniki has been adjourned until May 23 after a jailed member of the all-female opposition group Pussy Riot refused to continue taking part via video-link.

At the hearing on May 22, the court rejected Maria Alyokhina’s requests to be physically present and to have the judge and the prosecutor replaced.

Alyokhina, who spoke to the Berezniki court from her prison in the Perm region, announced that she was starting a hunger strike.

Her lawyer, Irina Khrunova, told journalists that there were many procedural violations in the parole hearing.

“Masha [Alyokhina] and I agreed [before the parole hearing] that if the court did not allow her to be brought to the courtroom, then she would refuse to participate in the hearings,” she said.

Khrunova indicated that Alyokhina would also not participate in the hearing on May 23.

“She very much wanted to appear in court; she wanted to tell the court about her situation and why she thought she deserved to be released on parole, but since the court refused to hear her personally, she thought she didn’t need to continue [participation],” he said.

Alyokhina and another Pussy Riot member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, are serving two-year prison sentences after being convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.”

Alyokhina, Tolokonnikova, and a third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, were arrested in February 2012 after staging a performance critical of President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

Samutsevich also received a two-year prison sentence but was later released on probation.

Tolokonnikova’s parole request was denied last month by a court in the Russian republic of Mordovia, where she is serving her prison sentence.

Hard to get justice anywhere in the world these days.

No Justice No Peace.

What’s on you reading and blogging list this holiday?

The Republican Agenda

Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table.  That was our first sign that a Democratic Congress was coming in on midterm election wins, but as geldings and steers.

Can you Feel the Crazy Tonight?

Not so with incoming Republicans.  Get ready for congressional hearings worthy of coverage by Jesse Ventura and Conspiracy Theory.  The Republican Party has clearly continued its path down into the Valley of B&gF$ck crazy.

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

Well, make that the Issa Zone where every whack-a-do conspiracy theory from the right will get a subpoena and an airing on C-SPAN.  All on your dime.  Here’s a choice few nutty items as reported by Politico today.

According to an outline of the committee’s hearing topics obtained by POLITICO, the House Oversight and Government Reform is also planning to investigate how regulation impacts job creation, the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the foreclosure crisis; recalls at the Food and Drug Administration and the failure of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to agree on the causes of the market meltdown.

Issa’s even went as far as calling the Obama administration the most corrupt in history.  He’s walked that one back already.  You know, I’m not fond of the current POTUS but any one remember Nixon and the Watergate break-in?  Reagan/Bush and Iran-Contra? How about the Tea Pot Dome scandal?   I’m not seeing corruption right now in the White House; just incompetence and cave-ins.

Asked on “Fox News Sunday” about reports that the White House is staffing up on lawyers to prepare for his oversight hearings, Issa said: “They’re going to need more accountants.

“It’s more of an accounting function than legal function,” Issa said. “It’s more about the inspector generals than it is about lawyers in the White House. And the sooner the administration figures out that the enemy is the bureaucracy and the wasteful spending, not the other party, the better off we’ll be.”

We have exactly two days before the patients are in charge of the asylum. Mike Allen of Politico has Issa’s little list. It seems like we’re about reading to return to the McCarthy era.

Issa’s list: “1. Impact of regulation on job creation … 2. Fannie/Freddie & the Foreclosure Crisis … 3. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the failure to identify origins of the financial crisis … 4. Combating corruption in Afghanistan … 5. WikiLeaks … 6. FDA/Food & Drug Safety.”

Regulation’s impact on job creation?  Why the Financial Crisis Committee can’t agree?  Why doesn’t he just create a panel called ‘Bircher Memes We love and Wish to cram down the public’s throat on their dime’ ?

If you want my conspiracy theory it’s that the Republicans are trying to create an atmosphere by which we do take a hit on the National Credit Score.  That’s going to lead to a call to wreck Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  They’re manufacturing a crisis and we have a cave-in leader.   The bond market problems won’t be a result of problems because we don’t have the ability to honor our debt or print more money.  It will be because the rest of the world is going to start thinking that we’re going to default because of ideologues intent on crashing the economy and defaulting.  Plus, they have enough evidence-to-date that our economics-ignorant President will most likely go along with it.  Even Lindsay Graham joined the lalala-fingers-in-ears Republicans who wish to shut down all rational debate.  If this is any indication of what will go on in two years, then Obama should be re-elected easily. What rational American would vote for a group of people intent on ruining the country?

Sometime in the next few months, the U.S. will reach its debt limit and Congress will, once again, have a choice: Raise the limit or let the U.S. default on its obligations. For a while now, Tea Party Republicans like Senator Mike Lee, who unseated the insufficiently conservative Robert Bennett in Utah, have been threatening to vote against the debt ceiling increase unless they win substantial reductions in government spending. Idle threats about refusing to raise the debt ceiling are nothing new, but the Tea Party crowd seems quite serious about it–in part because they’ve promised their base they’re going to do it.

This kind of thing–willfully refusing to pay our bills–is what throws individuals in jail. It’s called FRAUD.  These guys empowered Bush and his war spending spree as well as providing irrational tax cuts for the entire decade.  Now they want to play a dine and dash on the bill?

As many others have noted, the demand of going back to 2008 spending levels is radical and, not coincidentally, highly unrealistic: According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it’d amount to a one-fifth cut in discretionary spending–forcing cuts that could damage the fragile recovery and starve programs like Pell Grants that most Americans value.

And the alternative—failing to increase the debt ceiling? What precise effects would that have? This isn’t my area of expertise, but my colleague Alex Hart knows a thing or two about it. Here’s what he wrote last week:

Recent history provides a sense of just how scary this would be. “The reason the markets calmed down [during the financial crisis] is that we took [the banks’] toxic assets and handed the financial institutions Treasurys,” says Kevin Hassett, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “If we’re in a default situation, the Treasurys themselves are the toxic assets, and it’s not clear what we can hand anybody to calm them down.”The sad thing is, Graham seems to grasp this: In the same interview, he notes that default could be catastrophic. But that’s not stopping him from making his demands. And that’s particularly disheartening, since he is supposed to be one of the more reasonable members of the Republican Senate caucus.

I can’t imagine this is what most people in the country voted for during the midterm elections.  If so, we’re in a lot bigger trouble than even I imagined and it’s time to stock up on bullets and barrels of food.  What’s worse, is we have an entire group of really insane media cheerleaders that will be egging on the revolution.  It’s just a damned shame.