Archive | May, 2012

Ron Paul Admits He Will Not Be President – Molly Ball – Politics – The Atlantic

15 May

Ron Paul announced Monday the Texas congressman will not campaign in the states that have yet to vote in the Republican primary. And while Paul insisted that the campaign would continue to amass delegates, the statement — which referred to the campaign in the past tense — appeared to be an admission that he is no longer vying for the presidential nomination.

“This campaign fought hard and won electoral success that the talking heads and pundits never thought possible,” Paul said in the statement issued Monday afternoon. “But, this campaign is also about more than just the 2012 election…. It is about the campaign for Liberty, which has taken a tremendous leap forward in this election and will continue to grow stronger in the future until we finally win.”

The campaign, Paul said, “will continue to work in the state convention process” in order to “carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that Liberty is the way of the future. Moving forward, however, we will no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted.”

via Ron Paul Admits He Will Not Be President – Molly Ball – Politics – The Atlantic.

Global Marshall Plan

14 May

A National Security Strategy of Generosity and Care:

In the 21st century, our security and well being depends on the well being of everyone else on this planet as well as on the health of the planet itself.

An important way to manifest this caring is through a Global Marshall Plan that would dedicate 1-2% of the U.S. annual Gross Domestic Product each year for the next twenty years to eliminate domestic and global poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, and inadequate health care and repair damage done to the environment by 150 years of ecologically irresponsible forms of industrialization and “modernization” throughout much of the world.

via Global Marshall Plan.

Dance to a Different Drummer: Groovology and Politics

14 May

Groovology, about the groove, the human groove, the dancing and music-making at the heart of human community and togetherness. A line of thinkers going back through Darwin and Rousseau argued that it’s music that made clever apes into human beings – and, wouldn’t you know? that connects to the apes, the rabbits, fish, bees, flowers and the earth as well. Because we sing and dance we are human. Groovology is lightness and joy, but also sorrow and healing. It binds us together in common action and feeling, in community.

What has that to do with politics?

Politics too is about community, about negotiating among that various needs and desires of people living in a group. When the group is small, the negotiations are face-to-face, as is grooving. When the group is small, groovology and politics are commensurate, their connection is obvious.

It is when the group gets large, very large, that the connection is obscured. The USofA is very large, our political leaders distant from the local places where we politic and negotiate. And yet there are obvious connections, still.

Politics is not all backrooms and stolen votes. Politics is also ceremony, and ceremony has music: Hail to the Chief, The Star Spangled Banner, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Washington Post March, Taps, and much else. Continue reading

Colin Beavan, Environmental Activist, Makes a Run for Congress – NYTimes.com

14 May

In the name of living his New York City life with as little environmental impact as possible, Colin Beavan embarked on a punishing project five years ago. He and his family stopped taking the elevator to their ninth-floor Manhattan apartment; they did their laundry by stomping on it in the tub; for about six months, they even went without electricity at home. Mr. Beavan called the project No Impact Man, scored a book deal and became the subject of a documentary.

Now, Mr. Beavan is engaged in an endeavor that may be even more punishing: a run for Congress on the Green Party ticket. His platform is as much about getting New Yorkers engaged in politics, promoting local businesses and reducing economic dependence on corporations as it is about fossil fuels. But it was the actions that mostly took place in his apartment five years ago that put him on the radar of Green Party activists who eventually recruited him to run.

via Colin Beavan, Environmental Activist, Makes a Run for Congress – NYTimes.com.

Saudi Arabia Unveils $100 Billion Plan To Make Solar ‘A Driver For Domestic Energy For Years To Come’ | ThinkProgress

14 May

In a report from Bloomberg Businessweek on the recent announcement, a consultant with the Saudi government, Maher al- Odan, explained the country’s strategy: “We are not only looking for building solar plants….We want to run a sustainable solar energy sector that will become a driver for the domestic energy for years to come.”

The plan will also help the country save hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude per day. With diplomats and energy experts privately concerned that Saudi Arabia has overstated its oil reserves by as much as 40%, the country will need new resources to make up for declines in production.

via Saudi Arabia Unveils $100 Billion Plan To Make Solar ‘A Driver For Domestic Energy For Years To Come’ | ThinkProgress.

Don’t Buy the Spin: How Cutting the Pentagon’s Budget Could Boost the Economy | The Nation

13 May

However, the crucial question is not how many jobs are created by spending, for example, $1 billion on the military. Rather, it is whether spending that $1 billion creates more or fewer jobs when compared with spending $1 billion on alternative public purposes, such as education, healthcare and the green economy—or having consumers spend that same amount of money in any way they choose.

In fact, compared with these alternative uses, spending on the military is a poor source of job creation. As we see in the graph (right), $1 billion in spending on the military will generate about 11,200 jobs within the US economy. That same $1 billion would create 16,800 jobs through clean energy investments, 17,200 jobs within the healthcare sector or 26,700 jobs through support of education. That is, investments in clean energy, healthcare and education will produce between 50 and 140 percent more jobs than if the same money were spent by the Pentagon. Just giving the money to households to consume as they choose would generate 15,100 jobs, 35 percent more than military spending.

via Don’t Buy the Spin: How Cutting the Pentagon’s Budget Could Boost the Economy | The Nation.

Democracy Is for Amateurs: Why We Need More Citizen Citizens – Eric Liu – Politics – The Atlantic

12 May

Though not written as such, this excellent article is a brief for Transitioning and Politicking, for the connection between the local and the global.

The work of democratic life — solving shared problems, shaping plans, pushing for change, making grievances heard — has become ever more professionalized over the last generation. Money has gained outsize and self-compounding power in elections. A welter of lobbyists, regulators, consultants, bankrollers, wonks-for-hire, and “smart-ALECs” has crowded amateurs out of the daily work of self-government at every level. Bodies like the library board are the exception.

What we need today are more citizen citizens. Both the left and the right are coming to see this. It is the thread that connects the anti-elite 99 percent movement with the anti-elite Tea Party. It also animates an emerging web of civic-minded techies who want to “hack” citizenship and government.

Why is government in America so hack-worthy now? There is a giant literature on how interest groups have captured our politics, with touchstones texts by Mancur Olson, Jonathan Rauch, and Francis Fukuyama. The message of these studies is depressingly simple: democratic institutions tend toward what Rauch calls “demosclerosis” — encrustation by a million little constituencies who clog the arteries of government and make it impossible for the state to move or adapt.

This tendency operates in an accelerating feedback loop. When self-government is dominated by professionals representing various interests, a vicious cycle of citizen detachment ensues. Regular people come to treat civic problems as something outside themselves, something done to them, rather than something they have a hand in making and could have a hand in unmaking. They anticipate that engagement is futile, and their prediction fulfills itself.

And just HOW do we become citizen citizens?

The work of democratic life — solving shared problems, shaping plans, pushing for change, making grievances heard — has become ever more professionalized over the last generation. Money has gained outsize and self-compounding power in elections. A welter of lobbyists, regulators, consultants, bankrollers, wonks-for-hire, and “smart-ALECs” has crowded amateurs out of the daily work of self-government at every level. Bodies like the library board are the exception.

What we need today are more citizen citizens. Both the left and the right are coming to see this. It is the thread that connects the anti-elite 99 percent movement with the anti-elite Tea Party. It also animates an emerging web of civic-minded techies who want to “hack” citizenship and government.

Why is government in America so hack-worthy now? There is a giant literature on how interest groups have captured our politics, with touchstones texts by Mancur Olson, Jonathan Rauch, and Francis Fukuyama. The message of these studies is depressingly simple: democratic institutions tend toward what Rauch calls “demosclerosis” — encrustation by a million little constituencies who clog the arteries of government and make it impossible for the state to move or adapt.

This tendency operates in an accelerating feedback loop. When self-government is dominated by professionals representing various interests, a vicious cycle of citizen detachment ensues. Regular people come to treat civic problems as something outside themselves, something done to them, rather than something they have a hand in making and could have a hand in unmaking. They anticipate that engagement is futile, and their prediction fulfills itself.

Second, we need to radically refocus on the local. When…

Third, think in terms of challenges rather than orders….

Fourth, create platforms where citizen citizens can actively serve….

via Democracy Is for Amateurs: Why We Need More Citizen Citizens – Eric Liu – Politics – The Atlantic.

Joel Sartore’s Photos of Biodiversity Across the United States – NYTimes.com

12 May

Joel Sartore has been a conservation photographer for more than 20 years, shooting primarily for National Geographic. About seven years ago, he brought his gear into a makeshift studio and began working with zoo-raised animals, most of which have biologists and handlers tending to their every need.

But even with lighting and trainers, he learned, things can go terribly wrong.

This is, after all, the animal kingdom.

A video on Mr. Sartore’s Web site documents his travels to, and trials at, zoos across the United States — concluding with a chimp who, somewhat gleefully, tears down the white background Mr. Sartore was using for the shoot.

“The chimp won,” Mr. Sartore said.

via Joel Sartore's Photos of Biodiversity Across the United States – NYTimes.com.

The Human Cost of Ideology – NYTimes.com

11 May

For more than a year, House Republicans have energetically worked to demolish vital social programs that have made this country both stronger and fairer over the last half-century. At the same time, they have insisted on preserving bloated military spending and unjustifiably low tax rates for the rich. That effort reached a nadir on Thursday when the House voted to prevent $55 billion in automatic cuts imposed on the Pentagon as part of last year’s debt-ceiling deal, choosing instead to make all those cuts, and much more, from domestic programs.

If this bill were enacted, estimates suggest that nearly two million Americans would lose food stamps and 44 million others would find them reduced. The bill would eliminate a program that allows disabled older people to live at home and out of institutions. It cuts money that helps low-income families buy health insurance. At the same time, the House bill actually adds more than $8 billion to the Pentagon budget.

via The Human Cost of Ideology – NYTimes.com.

WAll Street’s infrastructure racket, Rahm Emanuel

10 May

From Salon, on the corpstate at its best, Chicago-style:

Here is how the “infrastructure trust” works: the city pays for upgrades to its roads, rail or schools with dollars pooled by Emanuel’s friends from the banking and investment world. Meanwhile, the city retains “ownership” of the infrastructure, though this comes at the cost of having to ensure a revenue stream for the fund. Emanuel’s favorite example is his $225 million pet project to green-retrofit some of the city’s older buildings. The savings on energy usage stemming from the renovations are then extracted and used to pay off investors. Of course, the city could also sell municipal bonds to raise necessary funds, and then use the savings in energy costs to pay the loan back at a much lower cost to taxpayers. But then Emanuel’s friends (and campaign donors) would not be the richer for it.

While the mayor bills his plan as “bold” and “innovative,” the reality could not be further from the truth. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been around for decades in various forms and their track record is replete with delays, cost overruns and prolonged legal battles. What’s more, the beneficiaries of these investment mechanisms are the same rapacious Morgan Stanleys and Goldman Sachs that gave us the mortgage-backed securities scandal and the ensuing recession. Using the economic malaise they created as cause, they have ratcheted up their advocacy of PPPs as a means of helping cash-starved public entities finance capital-intensive projects.

The upshot is that they are holding us hostage all over again. They are using infrastructure built over decades with public monies as collateral to extract profit off of the back of taxpayers. A cursory look at some past projects of this nature demonstrates that PPPs are often inefficient, overly costly and inherently unjust.

Examples: the London Underground, Orange County’s privatized HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane, and an expressway from San Diego to Mexico.