Friday, October 26, 2007

The White House's new spin: Climate change is good for you!

Yay! No more pesky cold winters!

From White House spokesperson Dana Perino:

"But it is true that many people die from cold-related deaths every winter. And there are studies that say that climate change in certain areas of the world would help those individuals."

The White House's environmental lapdog, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), tried its best to support Perino with a straight face, saying:

"It is important to consider both health risks and health benefits of climate change. We rely on the best available science to guide our policy decision process," said spokeswoman Kristen Hellmer.
CEQ used findings from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, but didn't quite give the whole story. From the AFP the IPCC report states:

"Studies in temperate areas have shown that climate change is projected to bring some benefits, such as fewer deaths from cold exposure," according to the Summary For Policymakers of the IPCC report.

But "overall it is expected that these benefits will be outweighed by the negative health effects of rising temperatures worldwide, especially in developing countries," it said.

Another section of the report suggested a "mixed" impact on malaria, restricting the range of the deadly mosquito-borne illness in some areas, expanding it in others.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Difficulties fighting Calif. fires so obvious, even "Brownie" recognizes it

You know things are bad when it takes former FEMA Director Michael “Heckuva Job Brownie” Brown to point out that the National Guard is stretched too thin to help the California firefighters. But on Wednesday, he did just that:

“The White House needs to recognize that we are overstretched. They need to increase the size of the regular Army and stop relying so much on the National Guard.”

According to the report by WJLA News in Washington DC, Brown also said,
“FEMA's job is to pick up the phone and call another Governor and say 'Hey California is short on National Guard, can you spare a few?' but you can call any Governor in the country and everybody is stretched.”

Orange County Fire Chief Chip Prather recently told reporters that firefighters' lives were threatened because too few crews were on the ground. He said a quick deployment of aircraft could have corralled a massive blaze near Irvine.

Rep. Stark speaks the truth; House Speaker Pelosi calls it "innapropriate"

In case you missed it, Rep. Pete Stark of California recently stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and said these words to President Bush and his allies in Congress:
“You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement.”
I was ecstatic when I heard this. I thought that finally someone in Congress was calling out this utter idiocy of the spending priorities in our country today. I actually had hope that Congress would unite behind these strong words of Rep. Stark.

And then, Nancy Pelosi spoke: “While Members of Congress are passionate about their views what Congressman Stark said during the debate was inappropriate.”

WTF?! Instead of backing of Rep. Stark, she throws him under the bus. Way to lead, Madam Speaker. As Cindy Sheehan writes in a post today at AfterDowningStreet:
I believe that Speaker Pelosi’s comments about Rep. Stark were utterly inappropriate and out of line. I believe that when she said that impeachment was “off the table,” her remarks were not only inappropriate but also antithetical to our Constitution and directly in opposition to why the people of this country put Democrats back in power.
Sheehan is planning to run against Pelosi for her House seat representing California's 8th District. I had such high hopes for Pelosi. But maybe it is time for more change in Congress. We did it in the last election. We can do it again, Madam Speaker.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dennis Kucinich for President! Yay!

Hat Tip to Blue Gal for posting this video from the

Wednesday Poetry Break

From today's edition of The Writer's Almanac:

The Campus in Wartime

Sweet corn sweetens the air by the gas station
as the Torah students hurry by to Hillel House,
the coatless short-skirted social butterflies
totter toward happy-hour double-drink specials,
the rabbi adjusts his tallis and the bartender
lines up the pints, half-pints and pitchers.
Three thousand of ours and thousands of theirs
are too many body bags to bury in the mind,

so while the gas of rotting bodies seeps up
from the ramshackle coffins and folded flags,
the young seek books or booze to soften the ache.
This year's few stalks of corn are one small
businessman's salute to the land. He may need
to fuel the air with toxic waste to earn a living,
but he has in mind the purity of original desire,
which some call sin but the half-Hasids know
as the life force, and the barflies toast. Let us study
the future, for it shall be the cradle of the past,
siring a blue abyss aflare in the lamp we call a sun.

— Marvin Bell

Your tab for Bush's Wars: $8,000

From Raw Story:
Bush wars cost 40 times higher than original estimates; $8,000 per man, woman, child in U.S.

The United States is spending about $8,000 per man, woman and child in the country to pursue wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to new estimates that show the wars will cost about $2.4 trillion over the next decade.

More than one-fourth of the money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan — $705 billion — will go to paying interest on the wars' costs, which are being funded with borrowed dollars, according to an estimate to be released Wednesday by the Congressional Budget Office. Iraq accounts for about 80 percent of the costs with a $1.9 trillion tab, including $564 million in interest, a House budget committee staff director told USA Today, which reported the numbers Wednesday morning.

“The number is so big, it boggles the mind,” Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) told the newspaper.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Barack Obama: What's he thinking?

Certainly not the biggest transgression out there, but I was very surprised to see the Raw Story video below of Obama standing and listening to the national anthem with his hands clasped in front of him, rather than the traditional right hand over the heart.

Again, not to make too big a deal out of this, but if he wants to win over the majority, these little symbolic things will help or hurt him. Everyone else on the stage was following the traditional stance, which makes it all the more uncomfortable to watch Obama standing as though he were visiting from another country and politely listening to the host country's anthem. Admittedly, it is about the worst rendition of the national anthem that I have ever heard, but if he wants to make a race out of this campaign, I think he needs to make the symbolic gestures like hand over heart.

On the other hand, a symbol is a symbol, and many folks (myself included) believe that this country has gone overboard in valuing patriotic symbolism. Flags, anthems, blind allegiance.

Is Obama making a statement here? Or did he just forget? Watch the video and let me know what you think:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bombing Iran

Via Truthdig:

Those crazy Californians: Kucinich tops other Dem Presidential leaders in key CA straw poll

According to AfterDowningStreet:
SAN MATEO, CA - Despite millions of campaign dollars being spent by the poll-leading Democratic Presidential candidates to woo California voters, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich scored a stunning second-place finish in a bell-weather Presidential straw poll here today.

In a caucus-like setting open to all Democratic voters in the state, Kucinich came in significantly ahead of top-spenders Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and only slightly behind former U.S. Senator John Edwards.

Official results released by the San Mateo County Democratic Party this evening showed that Edwards received 29% of the total votes cast, Kucinich received just under 24%, and Obama and Clinton came in third and fourth, with 22.5% and 16.8% respectively. The other Democratic candidates were all in the low single digits.

Read more here.

Big Blog Roundup, Cowgirls and Cowboys

I'm trying to get back to work today, so am sending you off into the blogosphere to check out some interesting stories I've come across.

From Crooks and Liars:
Paycheck to Paycheck in Bush's America:

The AP has a dispiriting story about the economic pressures facing American families who live paycheck to paycheck. (thanks to reader R.K.)

The calculus of living paycheck to paycheck in America is getting harder. What used to last four days might last half that long now. Pay the gas bill, but skip breakfast. Eat less for lunch so the kids can have a healthy dinner.

From Americablog, Iraq war veteran John Bruhns writes

The National Guard is overextended and broken along with the rest of our Army. We are in the midst of a total national security nightmare- courtesy of George W. Bush.

This president has not once called upon Americans to serve their country. He just tells us to go shopping while he touts the all volunteer Army.

Instead of breaking our military Bush should go to each college campus and rally the “Young Republicans” to join the fight. Then Bush should go on national television and call on all the true believers of his war in Iraq to put their blood and money in the game. Finally, just for shiggles, Bush should call his goofy pal Bill Kristol and ask him to encourage Matthew Continetti to join the Army or Marine Corps. I would love to see him get a taste of the war he so ardently supports.
Read more here.

From ThinkProgress:
Conservatives boo the American public
During a GOP presidential debate last night, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said, “I think the American people — if we as a party realize this and understand it — seventy-some percent of the people in America want the war over with. They’re sick and tired of it. And they want our troops to come home.” Paul was immediately drowned out by a chorus of boos from the audience.
Watch the video here.

ThinkProgress also has this, which I hope will not be viewed by climate change-doubters in the audience as more false information being spouted by "socialists," in this case the National Weather Service:

Climate change dulls fall foliage

Forested hillsides in New England are usually “riotous with reds, oranges and yellows” at this time of the season. But many trees are now “going straight from the dull green of late summer to the rust-brown of late fall with barely a stop at a brighter hue.” According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in Burlington, VT, have “run above the 30-year averages in every September and October for the past four years, save for October 2004, when they were 0.2 degrees below average.”