there’s one belief that binds the disparate factions of the American
right together, it’s the belief in American exceptionalism, both for the
nation and for individuals. The mythology that conservatism is about
promoting excellence and encouraging strivers is found throughout
conservative media and literature, from the story of John Galt in Ayn
Rand’s Atlas Shrugged to Reagan’s description of America as a
“shining city on a hill.” While it often manifests as contempt for the
poor and the vulnerable, in the abstract this conservative enthusiasm
for doing better could, in theory, be channeled productively toward
actually pushing people to achieve.
So why are so many
conservatives abandoning this enthusiasm for the exceptional in favor of
what can only be described as jealous sniping aimed at people who are
actually trying to expand the world creatively and scientifically?
There’s a lot of high-falutin’ talk on the right about supporting the
strivers, but in practice, the conservative response to someone who
tries to stick his head above the crowd is to beat it down with a
hammer. Conservatives may think of themselves as lovers of excellence,
but in reality, “Who do you think you are?” is swiftly becoming an
unofficial right-wing motto.
It’s easy to see why,
despite their supposed enthusiasm for excellence, conservative pundits
would offer up liberal scientists, journalists, and artists as hate
objects for their base. This is a time of economic instability and
ordinary people are seeing their fortunes declining. It’s easy to turn
that anxiety into rage at people conservative audiences think have easy,
charmed lives as coastal elites.
But in doing so,
conservative pundits are exploiting their audiences, turning their
class-based anger away from the people who are actually causing their
economic problems, such as the Wall Street elite, and toward people who
may be successful but who are not doing any harm to other Americans and
are often trying to help them. If you can get your audiences to hate
journalists and scientists, they won't hate the wealthy bankers who
actually screwed them over.
This was epitomized by the recent National Review story by Charles C. W. Cooke
titled “Smarter Than Thou” in which he fussed and whined about “the
extraordinarily puffed-up ‘nerd’ culture that has of late started to
bloom across the United States.” An illustration of the astrophysicist
Neil deGrasse Tyson graced the cover, drawn to look self-satisfied, even
though deGrasse Tyson hardly gives off that vibe in real life.
A bipartisan congressional resolution that would honor Pope Francis before his potential appearance
in Philadelphia next year may not be acted upon because of Republican
worries that the pontiff is perceived as being “too liberal,” The Hill reports.
House Resolution 440
aims to “congratulate Pope Francis on his election and recognize his
inspirational statements and actions,” but according to one Republican
backer of the legislation, the resolution is dead because Pope Francis
is “sounding like Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually
used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged.”
Republicans are upset because of comments the Pope made concerning the free market. Last November, for example, Francis published his Evangelii Gandium,
in which he noted that “[a]s long as the problems of the poor are not
radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and
financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of
inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for
that matter, to any problems.”
He also specifically attacked
President Ronald Reagan’s signature economic policy, “trickle-down
theory,” writing that “[s]ome people continue to defend trickle-down
theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market,
will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and
inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed
by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of
those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the
prevailing economic system.”
The resolution states that Pope
Francis should be honored for, among other things, being the first
pontiff from the Americas, as well as “his commitment to economic
justice and improving the lives of the poor, and his outreach to
individuals from all walks of life have been universally praised and are
living examples of Jesus Christ’s message.”
would like to see me as an ultra Left Winger based on my support for
environmental causes, workers rights, feminism and LGBT causes.
That evaluation is spot on.
I am also a militant atheist.
A stone Yankee from the far north mountains of upstate New York I militantly embrace the concept of personal freedom/liberty.
a woman who survived rape and dealt with it by plunging into the
martial arts I champion the rights of women to defend themselves
including the use of weapons, most notably knives and handguns.
My embrace of the idea of gun rights causes many on the Left to stereotype me as a Right Winger.
Back in 2001 on September 11 I was stunned and outraged by the murderous terrorist attack upon my country.
I remember the images of the Palestinians dancing for joy in the streets, how they labeled the United States as the great Satan.
was ostracized by people on the Left for my gut reaction to both this
attack and to the Palestinian celebration of the deaths of nearly 3000
American people that resulted from these attacks.
In 2002 I lived
on Long Island and often went into New York City for classes and to
visit museums. I had last been in NYC in 1967 so I never saw the World
I avoided going to the site of the attacks, I was already boiling over with anger.
one day I went to a free Photoshop seminar. I took the East Side
subway down to the station nearest to where the seminar was being held.
I was early and realized I had never been to that part of NYC so I walked around a little.
I came upon the church near the foot print of the WTC, the fence with all the grief messages upon it.
Had you asked me what to do at that moment I would have said, "Turn the countries of those who attacked us into glass."
I understand the gut reactions of the Israelis to the acts of Palestinian terrorism.
am Polish-American on my father's side, third generation, close enough
to the immigrant experience to feel a connection to family in Poland.
Some three million Catholic Poles died at the hands of the Nazis along
with the six million Jewish people. I feel a certain "Never Again"
solidarity, an outrage against the antisemitism too prevalent on the
part of so many on the far left.
As a woman and as a member of the
LGBT communities I see Israel as the only nation in the Middle East
where women and LGBT people have any real rights. Indeed the only
nation in the Middle East where women and LGBT people do not regularly
face the grossest violations of their rights as human beings.
well aware of Israel's love of the United States and how it is one of
several nations in this world that we can count on as a wholehearted
I have watched the ultra left attack both Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren because of their support for Israel.
I do not celebrate the current fighting in the Middle East.
Indeed I wish there would be peace between Israel and its neighbors, there have been far too many deaths to go around.
stress of nearly 70 years of living with terrorism has grievously
harmed the heart and soul of the people of Israel. But they were not
the ones who started the wars. They built the walls to protect
themselves from numerous suicide bombers and other acts of terrorism on
the part of the Palestinians. Israel was not the nation sending those
Palestinians and their allies including Egypt, Syria and Jordan repeatedly launched attacks upon Israel.
Fortunately the efforts aimed at annihilating Israel were doomed thanks to the courageous IDF.
So I guess I fail the test.
I support Israel and the Israeli people.
Even as I wish for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
If that makes me a Zionist or a supporter of Zionism so be it.
It’s a peculiar thing
to obsess over, and not just because it suggests conservatives have an
unhealthy unwillingness to allow their children to grow up and think for
themselves. It’s because the imagined conspiracies of liberals trying
to “indoctrinate” kids are total phantoms. A little digging shows that
accusations of indoctrination are usually aimed at attempts to educate or simply offer support and acceptance.
While there are always a few rigid ideologues who are out to recruit,
by and large liberals are, well, liberal: More interested in arguing and
engaging than trying to mold young people into unthinking automatons.
I think I know where conservatives get the idea that other people are
sneaking around trying to indoctrinate children into unthinking
ideologies. It’s because they themselves are totally guilty of it, both
in terms of trying to recruit other people’s children and trying to
frighten their own children about the dangers of exploring thoughts
outside of the ones approved by their own rigid ideologies.
Parents in Portland, Oregon were alarmed to hear that a group calling
itself the Child Evangelism Fellowship's Good News Club has been
targeting children as young as five for conversion to their form of
Christianity. The group pretends to be similar to more liberal and
open-minded groups, claiming they are just trying to teach their beliefs
but aren’t trying to be coercive. However, it’s hard to believe, in no
small part because they admit they run around scaring children by
telling them they are “sinners” who are hellbound unless they convert
and start trying to convert others.
One mother, Mia
Marceau, told the Associated Press about her 8-year-old son’s encounter
with the group. “Within a few hours, however, she didn't like what the
group was telling her 8-year-old son and his friends: They were headed
to hell, needed to convert their friends and were duty-bound to raise
money for the organization.” Those kinds of tactics aren’t about
encouraging free discourse, but about creating a cult-like mentality
that discourages questions and free thought.
an exclusive interview with Salon, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson
talked about his role as a scientist, how the media presents scientific
breakthroughs, and about how climate change will have to get worse
before citizens force their elected representatives to do anything about
Tyson explained that he doesn’t see himself as an advocate,
but as an educator whose job it is to present “emergent scientific
consensus,” in the hope that the public and policy makers will use it to
make informed decisions.
“I’m just trying to get people as fully
informed as they can be so that they can make the most informed
decisions they can based on their own principles or philosophies or
mission statement,” Tyson explained. ” What concerns me is that I see
people making decisions, particularly decisions that might affect policy
or governance, that are partly informed, or misinformed, or
under-informed.” Tyson notes that during the Cold War, physicists
actively advocated for specific policies because those policies were
directly related to their work in developing nuclear weapons. When it
comes to climate change, he would like to see more climate scientists
take the lead instead of an astrophysicist like himself just because
“I’m an astrophysicist. But there are people who are
climate scientists. I think more climate scientists should step up to
the plate and serve that same corresponding role that the physicists
played during the Cold War, and if they want, to empower lawmakers and
the citizenry to make informed decisions about the future of the
country,” he said.
Prevailing neoliberal ideology, which perverts capitalism
as an economic system into capitalism as an unyielding political
ideology, lurks in the shadows of almost every major issue in America,
though nowhere is its influence more obvious or profound than in the
spiraling rise of income and wealth inequality today.
Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century” was first released in
English, it followed the Culture War Playbook to perfection: First came
the triumphant plaudits from like-minded thinkers, followed shortly by
the hasty rebuttals of their ideological opponents, followed
themselves by a torrent of commentary from pundits left and right
who skimmed the book before adding their own two cents. Soon, there was
the predictable “unskewing” by the right, after which came the
fact-checking of the “unskewers” on the left… at which point the whole
process had reached its inevitable conclusion. High-traffic angles fully
juiced, our treadmill news cycle moved on to the next plank in our
bitter, pointless culture clash, what author William Gibson has termed
our “cold civil war.”
So it goes.
What’s so interesting
about this Kabuki dance is just how few commentators at the time
bothered to note that Piketty’s findings were never particularly
controversial or groundbreaking. Piketty’s book became such a
sensation on the left precisely because it gave weight to what anyone
with a pair of eyes in the real world (i.e., not Lower Manhattan, the
Washington Beltway, or Silicon Valley) can already plainly see: Wealth
inequality grows each and every day, while the middle class keeps
getting pummeled by this Glorious Free Enterprise System. What used to
be good, stable jobs are converted into temp positions or contract work —
automated, downsized or simply eliminated entirely, they’re replaced in
the labor market by the worst-paying, most utterly dehumanizing
low-wage gigs that our much ballyhooed “job creators” can imagine
The consequences for our democracy and our economy are perilous and unlikely to be easily remedied.
or not one is generally convinced by Piketty’s thesis that r > g (or
more plainly, that capital tends to grow at a faster rate than income
without some form of outside intervention), it should be plain that in oursystem,
the stage has been uniquely well-set for the unbridled expansion of
wealth that his book describes. When the effective tax rates are lower
for capital gains than for the incomes of the less affluent; when
political processes are legally corrupted and circumvented for a price;
when regulatory agencies are gutted, stalled, or simply staffed
with careerists eager to make their way through the revolving door —
this is not a political or economic system likely to become less unequal
Will this trend toward inequality continue? According to “U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth,”
a recent survey of wealthy Americans that aims to “[shed] light on the
direction and purpose of the more than $15 trillion that will be passed
across generations in high-net-worth families over the next two
decades,” it seems increasingly likely.
The survey, which polled
680 Americans holding at least $3 million in investable assets,
unearthed a troubling trend — the birth of a new American aristocracy.
As the survey notes, “Nearly three-quarters of those over 69, and 61% of
Baby Boomers, were the first generation to accumulate significant
wealth. Among the younger Millennial generation, inherited wealth is
About two-thirds are from families in which they are the
second, third or fourth generation to be wealthy.” Now, it should be
noted briefly that this survey relies on self-reporting, which makes
these figures somewhat suspect. (More on this in a bit.) But consider
two charts: The first shows the highest marginal tax rates on income and
capital gains throughout the last hundred years, while the second
outlines the estate tax rate during the same period.
There’s been a lot of ink spilled about the increasing political polarization in America , which is at historically high levels.
There are a lot of reasons for it, including changing demographics,
women’s growing empowerment, the internet, the economy and cable news.
But religion and religious belief plays an important role as well.
There’s no way around it: America is quickly becoming two nations, one
ruled over by fundamentalist Christians and their supporters and one
that is becoming all the more secular over time, looking more and more
like western Europe in its relative indifference to religion. And caught
in between are a group of liberal Christians that are culturally
aligned with secularists and are increasingly and dismayingly seeing the
concept of “faith” aligned with a narrow and conservative political
That this polarization is happening is hard to deny, even if it’s harder to measure that political polarization. The number of Americans who cite “none” when asked
about a religious identity is rising rapidly, up to nearly 20% from 15%
in 2007, with a third of people under 30 identifying with no religious
faith. Two-thirds of the “nones” say they believe in God, suggesting
that this is more of a cultural drift towards secularism than some kind
of crisis of faith across the country.
But even this may
underrepresent how secular our country really is getting, as many people
who say they belong to a church don’t really go to church much, if at
all. While Americans like to tell pollsters they go to church regularly,
in-depth research shows they are lying and many of them blow it off, putting our actual church-going rates at roughly the same level of secular Western Europe. Even
when people identify with a label like “Catholic” or “Methodist”, that
doesn’t mean they consider it an important part of their identity in the
way that people used to. Take, for instance, the way that weddings have
quietly changed in this country. It used to be that you had a wedding
in a church, and only people who were eloping got married by someone
other than a minister. Now, outside of very religious circles, it’s more
common to see weddings on beaches or at country clubs, and very often
officiated by friends of the couple rather than clergy. Indeed, state laws are slowly beginning to change to reflect this reality, allowing more flexibility for people to have the secular weddings they increasingly desire.
of those who remain religious, being affiliated with a fundamentalist
or conservative religion is becoming a little more common. The same Pew
research that found while all Christian faiths are slowly receding,
mainline Protestant churches are shrinking a little faster and have
fewer followers, at 15% of the country, than white evangelicals (19%) or
Catholics (22%). This comports with other research that finds evangelicals have a bigger piece of the shrinking pie called “Christianity.”
in Iraq have ordered that all women between the ages of 11 and 46 must
undergo female genital mutilation, which could affect up to four million
women and girls in the war-ravaged country, a UN official said
The UN’s second most senior official in Iraq, Jacqueline
Badcock, said, “It is a fatwa (or religious edict) from ISIS, we learnt
about it this morning. We have no precise numbers.”
State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(ISIS), took over large swathes of the country last month and has begun
imposing its extreme Salafist interpretation of Islam. Badcock said that if you took UN population figures as a guide, around “four million girls and women could be affected”.
Female genital mutilation is unusual in Iraq and is only practised in “certain isolated pockets of the country”, she added.
when you think you've got a handle on how bad wealth inequality is in
America's Second Gilded Age, researchers find it's even worse than you
The European Central Bank has crunched the numbers and
it looks like wealth inequality in the U.S. is even more astounding than
previous statistics have shown. Of the 10 rich countries the
researchers analyzed, America's wealthy have grabbed the largest portion
of the country's wealth. The most affluent 1 percent is sitting on
between 35 percent and 37 percent of the nation’s wealth, according to a working paper by
ECB senior economist Philip Vermeulen. The Federal Reserve figure that
has been previously cited had the 1 percent's share at 34 percent. But
actually it looks like that's a lowball figure.
studying wealth have been dealing with the fact that when you reach the
stratosphere, wealth becomes a sort of dark matter. It's got a huge
gravitational pull, but it's very hard to trace. It likes to hide, and
slip over borders and between bank accounts in the blink of an eye.
Vermeulen calls the billionaires whose wealth manages to evade
researchers the "missing rich."
Unfortunately for researchers,
rich people don't tend to respond to surveys that aim to study their
wealth; some don't have the time, but undoubtedly many just don't want
anyone getting their mitts on that sensitive information. So researchers
have to figure out other ways to track wealth, including the popular
Forbes' billionaires list, which, while not entirely accurate (it misses
a lot of people, like dictators whose money derives from the state), at
least makes an attempt to shine a light on the wealth amassed by global
Vermeulen warns that even what's been revealed so far
doesn't give the whole picture. “The results clearly indicate that
survey wealth estimates are very likely to underestimate wealth at the
top." You heard that right. Even 37 percent is probably not high enough.
other countries Vermeulen's report studied, the 1 percent have also
been getting a bigger share of the pie, like the Netherlands, whose rich
now hold 17 percent of wealth, up from 9 percent. The French and
Spanish wealthy have also increased their share by a couple of points.
By Robert Reich Tuesday, July 15, 2014 In a new Pew poll,
more than three quarters of self-described conservatives believe “poor
people have it easy because they can get government benefits without
In reality, most of America’s poor work hard, often in two or more jobs.
The real non-workers are the wealthy who inherit their fortunes. And their ranks are growing.
In fact, we’re on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history.
wealth is coming from those who over the last three decades earned huge
amounts on Wall Street, in corporate boardrooms, or as high-tech
It’s going to their children, who did nothing except be born into the right family.
“self-made” man or woman, the symbol of American meritocracy, is
disappearing. Six of today’s ten wealthiest Americans are heirs to
prominent fortunes. Just six Walmart heirs have more wealth than the
bottom 42 percent of Americans combined (up from 30 percent in 2007).
The U.S. Trust bank just released a poll of Americans with more than $3 million of investable assets. Nearly
three-quarters of those over age 69, and 61 per cent of boomers
(between the ages of 50 and 68), were the first in their generation to
accumulate significant wealth.
by Robert Borosage Published on Friday, July 11, 2014 by Campaign for America's Future Blog Over at The Washington Post, the usually sensible Greg Sargent endorses the notion that
divisions among Democrats are “mostly trumped up.” The tension between
the Wall Street wing of the party and the Warren (as in Elizabeth) wing
is an overblown fiction of a press corps desperate for some action.
true that the prior divisions on social issues have dissipated, as
liberals have swept the field. Obama’s halting attempts to wean the US
from its foreign wars have garnered widespread support. And on
economics, Sargent argues that Democrats “largely agree on the menu of
policy responses to the economic problems faced by poor, working and
middle class Americans — a higher minimum wage, universal pre-K, higher
taxes on the wealthy to fund a stronger safety net, job creation and job
training — whatever the broader rhetorical umbrella is being used.”
Even Hillary says she agrees with Thomas Piketty that extreme inequality
is a “threat” to our democracy.
There are differences on how
aggressively to go after the big banks or whether to expand Social
Security, Sargent admits, and a debate underway about “whether to push
the Democratic Party in a more populist direction,” which he declines to
define. But generally, he argues, there’s broad agreement that Hillary
or any Democratic candidate will run on.
All of this is true
except the conclusion. There is a broad agreement on what might be
called a “populist lite” agenda — one that has been put forth repeatedly
by Obama and frustrated by Republican obstruction. And the reforms —
from the minimum wage to universal pre-K — are important and will make a
But it strikes me as bizarre to suggest that there is
no serious debate among Democrats when the National Education
Association, the largest teachers union in the country and a key power
in Democratic circles, has just called for the resignation of Obama’s
education secretary. Democratic House and Senate leaders refuse to allow
even a vote on fast-track trade authority sought by the president, and a
majority of the Democratic caucus lines up against Obama’s
Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Progressives in both houses
demand bold action on jobs, on taxing and investing that the president
resists. Democrats revolt against the White House desire to trim Social
In fact, there is a fundamental debate brewing
in the party, grounded on very different perspectives that lead in
significantly different directions.
On one side are the passive
voice populists, which include both Clintons and Obama. They argue that
our Gilded Age inequality is the product of technology and
globalization, as if these were autonomous forces like the weather. The
effects — a declining middle class, stagnant wages, spreading misery —
can be ameliorated by sensible policies, like the agenda Sargent ticks
off. Most of all, Americans need to make certain the next generation
gets better education and training so they can better compete in the
global marketplace. Universal preschool is a first step to that. But the
largest thrust — driven by the party’s deep pocket donors — is an
assault on teacher’s unions and public schools, investment in charters,
public and private, and a focus on high-stakes testing to measure
teacher and school performance.
other night, a friend told me that he was trying to spend more time
taking cabs. This surprised me, because I happen to know this friend has
and that he's rather proud of how far he's walked under its watchful
electronic eye. (I'm being polite: you never just "happen to know" that a
friend has a Fitbit because they tell you on social media.)
Fitbit – if you've somehow managed to avoid this – is a little dingus
that records how many steps you take in a day and allows you to compete
with your friends for the most steps or to post the results to social
media. Aficionados will happily march aimlessly up and down the hallway
if it means narrowly edging out the next competitor on their
So why was a step-counting devotee actively trying to
walk less? "Look," he told me, "not all my shoes are comfortable. Some
of them are really nice. If I walk too far in nice shoes, my feet hurt.
So, I'm trying to take cabs."
It might be the first time I've
heard a Fitbit user say something akin to "I'm not going to walk more
right now, because I don't want to."
The Fitbit may have been the
first tracker of its kind to go really big – though pedometers have been
around for a while – but it has certainly many cousins. There are
devices to track your sleep patterns (though Fitbits will do this as
well), to keep an eye on your posture, to monitor your dog's activity levels, to analyze the fuel efficiency of your car or tweet your weight.
Perhaps emboldened by this profusion of interest in data, last month a company called Mark One launched the Vessyl,
a cup that analyzes the nutritional content of anything you put in it
and tracks your sugar, caffeine, and water consumption. And the KGoal, touted as a "Fitbit for your vagina", is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
The latter device looks like a silicone hand grenade and is designed to
record your progress as you do kegels, the exercise for pelvic floor
muscles that women do to improve childbirth, continence and – most
importantly, in my opinion – sexual pleasure. To emphasize that benefit,
the KGoal even vibrates when you're doing your exercises right.
the Fitbit, these newest health trackers don't come cheap; the Vessyl
has a $99 promotional price and you can preorder a KGoal for $125,
though the projected retail prices are $199 and $175, respectively. But,
hey, how much is too much to spend to know that you're drinking a soda
or clenching your vag?
This stuff all sounds a bit silly, but I'm
not enough of a curmudgeon to truly bemoan our national data fixation.
It's often easier to understand what to do with data than to evaluate
how you feel, and devices that can quantify your walking or blood
pressure or vaginal strength let you take advantage of that. If spending
$199 on a cup or $175 on a vagina grenade is the shortcut you need to
generate and pay attention to your caloric intake and pelvic floor
muscles, for instance, then godspeed. Plus, human brains respond
directly to feedback about bodily functions: watching your heartbeat
tracked on a monitor, for instance, gives you the ability to consciously
slow them down with uncanny ease, through which you can eventually
develop into a coping strategy for anxiety attacks and manage anger. Having access to biofeedback – real-time data about your body's functioning – has been shown to help people manage
migraines, high blood pressure and even epileptic seizures. It is a
powerful enough phenomenon that L Ron Hubbard essentially based a whole
religion on it: Scientology's e-meter is a biofeedback device. And, in the 1940s, Dr Arnold Kegel invented a biofeedback device
to help woman improve their pelvic floor muscle exercises and manage
urinary control – an obvious precursor to the kGoal, and the very origin
of the term "kegels".
But the pitfall of data devices –
and the external sharing of information that they encourage or require –
is that they hijack your reward pathways. Instead of walking because it
makes you feel good, or because it gets you out in the air or (my
personal favorite reason) because sometimes there is bonkers stuff to
see in between point A and point B, you walk in order to improve your
stats. This sometimes means you walk even if it's a bad idea – if your
shoes hurt, if you're not feeling well, if it's dangerously hot, if
you're running late – because doing otherwise will mean a black mark on
your record. Your stats will slide, and your stats (and the ability to
brag about them on social media) are your reward.
One friend tells
me that, when her office did a step-counting competition, she was
initially distressed because she couldn't adjust the pedometer's minimum
"success" condition below 10,000 steps: she has fibromyalgia and isn't
always up for that much walking every day. But, chastened by her
colleagues' successes, she ended up trying valiantly to make the daily
minimum – and subsequently spent at least one day per weekend asleep for
most of the day, and had to take extra medication for pain in her legs
The drought will cost the state $2.2 billion this year: Of
these losses, $810 million will come from lower crop revenues, $203
million will come from livestock and dairy losses, and $454 million will
come from the cost of pumping additional groundwater. Up to 17,100
seasonal and part-time jobs will be lost.
California is experiencing the “greatest absolute reduction in water availability” ever seen: In
a normal year, about one-third of California’s irrigation water is
drawn from wells that tap into the groundwater supply. The rest is
“surface water” from streams, rivers, and reservoirs. This year,
the state is losing about one-third of its surface water supply. The
hardest hit area is the Central Valley, a normally fertile inland
region. Because groundwater isn’t as easily pumped in the Valley as it
is on the coasts, and the Colorado River supplies aren’t as accessible
as they are in the south, the Valley has lost 410,000 acres to
fallowing, an area about 10 times the size of Washington, D.C.
Farmers are pumping enough groundwater to immerse Rhode Island in 17 feet of it: To make
up for the loss of surface water, farmers are pumping 62 percent more
groundwater than usual. They are projected to pump 13 million acre-feet
this year, enough to put Rhode Island 17 feet under.
has imposed statewide water-use regulations for the first time as its
three-year drought worsens. Yesterday, state regulators approved
stringent new measures limiting outdoor water, which include $500 fines
for using an outdoor hose without a shut-off nozzle.
Meanwhile, hopes that the drought would break by autumn have been tempered. The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center
downplayed the help that El Niño may bring to the drought-plagued West
in its monthly report of Pacific Ocean weather patterns. While the
Center is still projecting that sea surface temperatures will be warmer
than usual—a phenomenon known as El Niño—it is now saying that the effect will be only "weak to moderate."
forecast strength of the El Niño was downgraded because Pacific Ocean
temperatures near the International Date Line have not continued to rise
since earlier this year when they were well above average. While strong
El Niño weather patterns usually create more rain for California,
weaker El Niños typically don't bring more rains to the region.
Center said that there is a 70% chance El Niño will develop by the end
of the summer, and an 80% chance that one will develop by the early
Australia's Bureau of Meteorology concurred with U.S. climate forecasts in a press release yesterday. It further suggests that El Niño has been effictively counteracted by the arrival of cooler water. All
of California is under drought conditions and will likely remain that
way through autumn.
Reservoirs are precariously low in many places. The
nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead in Nevada, is now at an all-time
It is the first time in 15 years that the entire state suffers from a water shortage. The U.S. Drought Monitor,
a government-funded weekly map of drought conditions, says that the
entire state now suffers from conditions ranging from “abnormally dry”
to “exceptional drought.” Heavy-population centers all suffer from
“extreme drought” or “exceptional drought.”
El Niño refers to a
recurring weather pattern that develops in the southern Pacific near
South America. Usually, scientists can predict El Niño a few months
before it occurs. Researchers say it can spark droughts in Australia and
increase rain and floods in parts of the U.S. and South America. Land
areas bordering the Pacific Ocean are the most affected. El niño is Spanish for "the boy" and the capitalized term El Niño refers to the infant Jesus, because periodic warming in the Pacific near South America usually begins near Christmas. The most recent occurrences of El Niño were in 2006 and 2009.
is known as "the honey shot" and we all know it well. Some delay is
occurring in the (usually) sporting activity which is the main
television event. We switch to a camera showing a section of the
audience – a section carefully selected. There she is, front centre, a
pretty young girl. Occasionally she is wearing very little. Occasionally
there's more than one – the much sought after "double honey shot".
Sometimes she will jump up and wave at the camera with excitement.
Sometimes a lascivious voiceover will remark on her charms. And now back
to the action.
It was pioneered by Andy Sidaris
in the 1980s, an American football director for ABC. Originally it
confined itself to leering shots of cheerleaders. Soon it spread to
other sports, to showing "pretty young things" among spectators,
players' girlfriends, now even to music events. Anyone who watched
coverage of the Glastonbury festival will have seen it. The shot's
aesthetic is almost always unabashedly pornographic. Sidaris went on to
direct third-rate sexploitation movies involving former centrefolds.
Some of his efforts can be seen in the Girls, Guns and G-strings DVD
I'm not going to pretend I have never admired someone
beautiful. I'm not going to say that during Wimbledon I have not looked
at a player's legs and thought thoughts that do not belong in the
national press. But when watching a sporting event, the athlete's almost
superhuman fitness, their shape and definition, the fact that they are
physically extraordinary, is very much part of the natural admiration we
have for sportspeople. I don't see how shots of a player's beautiful
girlfriend – between every point, it feels like sometimes – add to that.
me, the explanation is simpler and grossly offensive. It is this: only
men like sport. All men also like "birds". Let's throw some "birds" in
with their sport. And if you're thinking it is all rather innocent and
not objectification, consider that some (almost without exception)
middle-aged, male director is sitting in a control room somewhere,
scanning shots of the crowd, until he chances upon one and thinks
"Phwoar! Yeah. Let's show her."
This is the flip side of John Inverdale commenting on Marion Bartoli's looks
just after she won the world's biggest tennis event. We hand-wring
about certain sports not attracting bigger female audiences, while
tailoring them for men only – actually tailoring them for a lowest
common denominator, a cipher in a director's mind of what a man of his
age and sexual mindset might want. Recently, when I voiced my
displeasure on social media about this practice, I got the full range of
excuses. They included the perennial, "Why did she dress like that and
wave at the camera if she didn't want to be objectified?" Well, many
reasons, actually. People find great joy in video evidence that they
were at a big sporting event. They tend to wave to their family back
home, not to your groin.
Also, it was 35C in Brazil that day. Is the
assumption that any woman wearing something light obviously wants to be
ogled not a distant cousin of the "she asked for it" defence? In any
case, that some women choose to pose for page three doesn't make it any
less objectifying or exploitative in the eyes of others.
attack on the U.S. labor movement just sharpened with the Harris vs.
Quinn Supreme Court decision, aimed at the heart of concentrated union
power — public sector unions. When you add in the Obama-led assault on
public school teachers unions and the Koch brother-funded “Right to
Work” laws, the labor movement appears to be facing imminent ruin.
the same time, however, a powerful counter-force has emerged: the union
movement has won significant victories around the fight for $15 minimum
wage in Seattle and Los Angeles,
and is poised to win in San Francisco where the strongest measure yet
is headed for the November ballot. These wins and prospective wins have
sent shock waves through the country, showing what’s possible if unions
and community groups take the initiative and focus on inspiring demands
that resonate through the broader community.
The 2012 the Chicago teachers’ strike set an equally powerful example for unions, which has been studied by unionists across
the country. Chicago teachers re-taught the labor movement the
importance of the strike and the prerequisite internal democratic
organization of union members. Once organized internally, members
rallied community groups and the broader population over popular demands
like stopping school closures.
for unions in the face of intensifying corporate attacks are forcing
labor relations to a crescendo. Organized labor has, at long last,
realized that fighting back is their only salvation. The tension
inherent in this dynamic is volatile, and will inevitably explode as
corporations relentlessly attempt to boost profits at the expense of
workers’ wages and benefits.
examples of labor’s involvement in the ‘Fight for $15’ and the Chicago
teachers’ strike encapsulates all that unions need to do to re-gain
their lost status as organizations that represent the broader working
class, as they did to a significant extent in the 1930s, the 1940s, and
the 1950s. The strategy is simple: workers inside unions need to
be organized and inspired sufficiently to be able to strike, if
necessary, while simultaneously fighting for demands for the
broader community, like the $15 minimum wage.
do not need flashy gimmicks or to re-invent the wheel. Of course,
technological advances must be used while new demands and creative forms
of protest should be experimented with, but Twitter and Facebook cannot
replace face-to-face organizing and collective action, only complement
For years union leaders convinced themselves
that “strikes don’t work,” based on the many that were misled and then
lost. Instead union leaders searched in vain for labor’s equivalent to
the philosopher’s stone, that magic “something” that would save the
labor movement if only it were discovered. Since nothing “new” was
discovered, in practice union leaders resorted to making backroom
concessionary deals with politicians and corporations, and labor’s power
slid further into the mire.
And while many
unions seem intent on breaking out of this organizational-political
straitjacket, others seem suicidally comfortable repeating the same
Republicans were already destined for piecemeal
decimation due to the declining numbers of their core constituency. But
they don't just have a demographic problem anymore; they have stylistic
one. The conservative strategy of outrage upon outrage upon outrage
bumps up against the policy preferences and the attitudes of millennials
in perfect discord.
We all can recognize the right's tendency to respond to backlash with more "lash" (Akin didn't disappear, he doubled down
on "legitimate rape"), but it seems to have gained speed with the age
of social media and candidate tracking. The Tea Party's resistance to
the leavening effect of establishment mores and political professionals
has been a particularly effective accelerant. Palin's ability to put
anything on the internet without any intermediary has rendered her as
reckless as any tween with a SnapChat account. Akin's whiny denouncement of Washington insiders is likely to make him more credible with a certain kind of base voter. The midterms are, as we speak, producing another round of Fox News celebrities, whether or not they win their races: the Eric Cantor-vanquishing David Brat, Mississippi's Chris McDaniel and the hog-castrating mini-Palin, Jodi Ernst of Iowa.
WTF? I grew up in 1950s small town Northeast USA. At 8 and 9 I was
free to run in the fields, go to movies or the library by myself, ride
my bicycle all over town and go fishing and swimming by myself.
We are severely damaging our children with this hyper vigilance/ hyper protective smothering.
course the mother is black and our racist police/prison industrial
state has criminalized that and does anything in its power to get people
of color into the system.
South Carolina woman, who failed to use the income she makes working at
McDonald's to hire a nanny, let her 9-year-old daughter go to the park
by herself while she was at work...in the middle of the day! To face,
all alone, such dangers as the other children playing in the park and
Some of those parents reported her and now our
criminal justice system is on it, making everything better by jailing
the mother and putting her daughter in the custody of the Department of
Social Services. According to Reason,
Debra Harrell's daughter spent part of the summer playing on a laptop
at McDonald's, but asked to go to the park when the laptop was stolen.
Her mom apparently gave her a cell phone and sent her to a well-attended
park and playground. A few days later, an adult noticed that she was
there alone and called the police. Harrell was arrested and charged
with unlawful conduct towards a child, a felony in South Carolina.
As Lenore Skenazy notes,
local news reports of the incident are not friendly to Harrell,
flashing her mugshot on the screen while the reporter intones, "It's an
afternoon of fun in the water at Summerfield Park in North Augusta...
but investigators say it wasn't enjoyable for one little girl."
doesn't appear to be follow up coverage of how enjoyable it was for the
girl to have her mom publicly shamed on TV for abandoning her). The news
segment goes on to interview parents around the park who speculate
about the horrors that could have befallen the girl. "what if a man
would have came and just snatched her because you have all kinds of
trucks that come up in here so you really don't know." Skenazy, who
runs the blog Free Range Kids and stirred up controversy a few years
back for letting her 9-year-old son ride the New York subway alone,
points out that anxieties about the dangers faced by children are not
supported by actual crime rates.
I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.