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Archive for October, 2012

Posted by The Agonist on October 31st, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Polls in Ohio show Obama up 5 points over Romney. In Wisconsin, the latest poll is showing Obama 8 points ahead.

The Guardian’s poll-cruncher, Harry Enten, puts it bluntly:

And there it is… Ohio and Wisconsin… Without those 2 (and considering early vote in NV), there is literally no path for Romney.

— Harry Enten (@ForecasterEnten) October 31, 2012

And Senior Editorial Writer at the conservative Washington Examiner, Phillip Klein, agrees:

One of two things now seem possible: 1) Massive, widespread error by state pollsters. or 2) Obama gets reelected.

— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) October 31, 2012

Whis why the WSJ is reporting that Obama  campaign officials, in a conference call with reporters, have ”argued that moves by Mitt Romney’s campaign and its allies to advertise in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Michigan amounted to a ‘Hail Mary pass’” – and attempt to create an impression of momentum when there is none.

More, from Jamelle Bouie: No, the electoral map isn’t expanding.

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Posted by The Agonist on October 31st, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

This:

What you are going to see over the next week is an overt effort by Democrats to politicize the issue of disaster response. They’re right to do it. Conservatives are already complaining about this, but the attempt to wall disaster response off from politics in the aftermath of a disaster is an attempt to insulate Republicans from the consequences of their policies.

Funding for FEMA is something the parties wrangle over, with Republicans pushing to limit the agency’s budget, and Democrats pushing back. FEMA has to fight for its share of a constricted pot of money for domestic non-entitlement spending, a pot of money that the Republicans propose to radically constrict. How radically? Romney’s budget promises require shrinking domestic non-entitlement spending as a share of the economy by about two-thirds.

The Republican proposal to eviscerate this wide array of public functions is one of the underdiscussed questions of the election. Republicans have defended it using a very clever trick. They don’t explain how they would allocate the massive cuts to all these programs. When President Obama explains what would happen if those cuts were allocated in an across-the-board fashion, Republicans scream bloody murder. And when any single one of those programs enters the political debate, they can deny plans to make any specific cuts: They won’t cut education, they won’t cut support for veterans, and so on.

[...]

The GOP is the party arguing for splurging on a long vacation at the beach rather than repairing the roof. Naturally, they want to have this argument only when it’s sunny and never when it’s raining. There’s no reason to accommodate them.

As Scott Lemieux (h/t) rightly notes, “Policies have consequences… . It’s “political” to point this out, but not in any negative sense.” Sandy has highlighted (and further widened) the measurable gap between the respective policy platforms of the Obama & Romney campaigns relating to critical federal infrastructure and crisis management resources.  And no amount of frantic Etch-a-Sketching (nor simian-esque shit-flinging from the sub-literate wingnut fringe) will damn that hemorrhagic fissure.

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Posted by DownWithTyranny on October 30th, 2012

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

Secretary of State Clinton with those mad rockers the Backsheesh Boys

by Ken

I’ve already tried using the storm as an excuse not to think about the elections and vice versa, so I’m grateful to our WaPo “In the Loop” pal Al Kamen for offering this helpful hint for what to do the next time you find yourself with a free evening in rocking Kabul.

Rock on, envoys!

You won’t read about it in Rolling Stone, but there’s a rockin’ music scene in an unlikely corner of the world: the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Seems State Department employees there like to blow off steam from stressful jobs by picking up an ax — or a mike. The latest issue of State magazine, the agency’s monthly in-house glossy, profiles a few bands that have sprung up at the post.

There’s the Mission Essential Jazz Band, which performs all the standards and has wowed crowds at events including the embassy’s Spring Fling Ball and July 4th celebration. The ensemble has also entertained at the British and Russian embassies.

Playing more modern tunes are the Spin Boldaks (named after a particularly dangerous town in Kandahar province), an acoustic-guitar band that covered alternative classics and dance grooves, including Madonna’s “Holiday.” Alas, like most great bands, they eventually broke up (the members scattered to different assignments around the globe), but the magazine notes that fans can still see photos on the band’s Facebook page (dig the ironic 1980s getups — leopard pants, skinny ties).

But the current darlings of the Kabul embassy scene are the Backsheesh Boys (the name is a Persian-language riff on the now-defunct boy band the Backstreet Boys), who started out playing mostly Southern rock but whose repertoire now includes classic rock. The band has appeared at hot spots such as the embassy’s old Duck and Cover Bar, the Red Tent (which the magazine describes as “infamous”), the Clamshell at Camp Eggers, and the International Security Assistance Force’s Club 37.

#
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Posted by The Agonist on October 30th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Bill Clinton goes there:

I was actually listening closely to what the candidates said in these debates. In the first debate, the triumph of the moderate Mitt Romney. You remember what he did? He ridiculed the president. Ridiculed the president for his efforts to fight global warming in economically beneficial ways. He said, ‘Oh, you’re going to turn back the seas.’ In my part of America, we would like it if someone could’ve done that yesterday. All up and down the East Coast, there are mayors, many of them Republicans, who are being told, ‘You’ve got to move these houses back away from the ocean. You’ve got to lift them up. Climate change is going to raise the water levels on a permanent basis. If you want your town insured, you have to do this.’ In the real world, Barack Obama’s policies work better.

Yes.

Oh, by the way, a May 2011 report from the American Security Project predicted more hurricanes and flooding along the New York and new Jersey coastlines. “The increased frequency of hurricanes, Nor’easters and other extreme events exposes New York’s coastal areas to hundreds of billions — if not trillions — of dollars in losses,” said the section on New York.

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Posted by The Agonist on October 30th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

South African President Jacob Zuma has dropped his lawsuit against the local Sunday Times over a cartoon showing him about to rape the female symbol of justice. Zuma first sued for about $500,000, then cut his demand to a much lower amount and an apology, and after the cartoonist laughed at that offer Zuma finally quit the suit and agreed to pay a portion of the respondent’s legal fees. The cartoon, by satirist “Zapiro” aka Jonathan Shapiro, was published in 2008 before Zuma became president but after he was acquitted of rape and while he was up on corruption charges (he was acquitted). Cartoon is below. As to why the cartooned Zuma has a showerhead protruding from his skull: explanation here.

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Posted by The Agonist on October 29th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

I heartily recommend today’s Guardian piece by Gary Younge, Working class voters: why America’s poor are willing to vote Republican. Some statistics:

So why do poor people vote Republican? The first thing to note is that most of them don’t. In 2008 73% of those who earned less than $15,000, 60% of those who earned between $15,000 and $30,000, and 55% of those who earned between $30,000 and $50,000 voted for Obama. This year 57% of those earning less than $36,000 plan to vote Democrat as do 50% of those with a high school diploma or less. Even in deeply conservative Mississippi the overwhelming majority of the poor voted for Obama.

…The question of why poor people vote Republican is not simply an issue of income but primarily race and partly region and gender. Poor people may be more likely to vote Democrat; poor white people are not. In 2008 McCain won a slim majority (51%) of white Americans who earn less than $50,000 (this is just below the national median income which is not poor but the only figure available from exit polls that breaks down votes down by race and income), while Obama won a whopping majority of non-whites in the same category (86%). Asked in May which candidate would do more to advance their family’s economic interests middle-class white voters who say they are struggling to maintain their financial positions gave Romney a 26 point lead over Obama.

But that support is less pronounced among white women than white men and is not uniform across the country. In Mississippi 84% of whites who earn below $50,000 backed McCain: in Vermont 70% in the same category voted for Obama.

…the truly shocking thing about income and voting patterns in the US isn’t the number of poor people who vote Republican but the number who  don’t vote at all. Inequality in income is intimately related to inequality in turnout. In 2008, 41% of voters who earn less than $10,000 voted; among those who earn more than $150,000 the figure was 78%. One can only assume that many poor people do not feel they have anyone to vote for. Shortly before the 2004 election I met Cynthia Huntington in Maine. She was 60 then and had a hernia, no health insurance and was in extreme discomfort. She was in two minds as to whether to vote Democrat (Maine could have been a swing state at the time) or for third party candidate Ralph Nader. “They don’t give a shit about us,” she said. “They’re all rich people, and they’re all run by corporations. They don’t care about the fact that I need surgery and can’t pay for it.”

There’s far, far more at the link, showing that its far more complicated than that poor people who vote Republican are just dupes. Read the whole thing.

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Posted by The Agonist on October 29th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

McClatchy Newspaper, By Tom Lasseter, October 28

Beijing — Seven ethnic Tibetans in China set themselves on fire in a week’s time, bringing the number of self-immolations in defiance of Chinese government rule to about 60 since last year, according to announcements over the weekend by the Tibetan government in exile and an advocacy group.

The London-based Free Tibet rights advocacy group said the string of self-immolations, from Oct. 20 to Oct. 26, was the highest in a single week since the current spate began in March of 2011.

Six of the self-immolations reportedly resulted in deaths, a stark reminder that Beijing’s attempts to pacify the Tibetan areas in its domain have in many ways failed.

The Chinese government maintains that the acts of protest are part of a conspiracy linked to the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959. But Tibetan groups say they’re a local reaction to an oppressive regime that’s worked to undermine traditional Tibetan culture, religion and language – a sentiment repeated to McClatchy by ethnic Tibetans during interviews over the past two years in areas where self-immolations have occurred.

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Posted by The Agonist on October 28th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Those who have been following Raja’s Newswire thread on Hurricane Sandy, the so-called “Frankenstorm”, know that areas in it’s predicted track have declared pre-emptive states of emergency, Atlantic City is being evacuated and New York city is looking at its own evacuations as well as closing the subway system. The latest storm track predictions still show Sandy making a sharp left turn around 8am on Monday and making landfall somewhere in the Delaware/New Jersey area sometime on Monday evening after being sucked onland by a companion storm, a  a midlatitude trough coming in from the West, which will only add to the system’s energy. This huge storm will affect a third of the entire nation, bringing rain, high winds and even heavy snow. A lunar high tide will augment the expected storm surge to bring flooding to many coastal areas.

A tropical storm warning has been issued between Cape Fear to Duck, N.C., while hurricane watches and high-wind warnings are in effect from the Carolinas to New England. The hurricane-force winds extend 175 miles from the epicenter of the storm, while tropical storm-force winds extend 520 miles–making Sandy one of the biggest storms to ever hit the East Coast.

“We’re looking at impact of greater than 50 to 60 million people,” Louis Uccellini, head of environmental prediction for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Associated Press.

How bad might it be? The storm chasers over at the Stormtrack forum have some idea. In giving advice to other storm-chasers who might be heading to the area, board users write:

  ”If this situation comes to pass as currently expected, a widespread, catastrophic tree damage/toppling event is pretty certain.  That of course translates to widespread long-term (a week or longer) power outages.   This is nothing like a Gulf or Florida hurricane making landfall among palm trees and forests that have seen TS-force winds in the past 5 years or less.     The potential to get stranded with little to no access to basic survival resources (food and water) could be ten times worse with Sandy coming into the northeast corridor than your average southern US hurricane.   Add to the fact that the large population apparently will not be evacuating means if you’re not prepared, you’ll be competing with 100 times more people for the very limited access to gas and food than you would on the Gulf/Florida coast.”

…”All one has to do is look back to a year ago when wrn MA, and north central CT were hit with a devastating snowstorm accompanied by plenty of wind.  My folks were in the heart of the impacted area, were out of power for 8+ days, and they don’t have a tree on their property that was not destroyed or damaged.  The day after, and the snow had melted, it took my brother 2.5 hours to make what is normally a 10 minute drive to get to them due to trees (and some really big ones), power poles, power lines, and tree debris completely blocking roads.  Three days later, while still 99% of the town is without power and many roads are still only partially passable a trip to get gas required a 75 mile round trip to get to a station that was either open, or did not have a line hours and hours long.”

Others warned about the possibility of heavy flooding, akin to that in Houston during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. One posted a graphic picture of a deebly embanked freeway flooded to the top of its embankments. While noting that the hilly terrain of the area where the storm will drop all its rainfall will lead to widespread flooding, the stormchasers figured that coastal areas would be particularly heavily hit. They’re not the only ones worried.

Forecasters also fear the combination of storm surge, high tide and heavy rain–between 3 and 12 inches in some areas–could be life-threatening for coastal residents.

According to the National Hurricane Center summary, coastal water levels could rise anywhere between 1 and 12 feet from North Carolina to Cape Cod, depending on the timing of the “peak surge.” A surge of 6 to 11 feet is forecast for Long Island Sound and Raritan Bay, including New York Harbor.

The storm surge in New York Harbor during Hurricane Irene, forecasters noted, was four feet.

Some are already worrying about how this huge storm will affect the presidential race, if power is still out and flooding persists across many areas by voting day in the mainly Dem-leaning North-East.

I have to say…sod that.

Sixty million people live in the affected area – some things are more important even than the great tribal dance held every four years. Obama is already cancelling campaign events Monday and Tuesday to be in the White House those days, managing the expected crisis. In a sane nation, both campaigns would simply agree to postpone voting day a month and we’d all get on with meeting this challenge together.

To all you people, Agonistas and others, out there in the region this storm is going to hit – be careful, stay safe, our thoughts are with you all.

Regards, Steve

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Posted by The Agonist on October 27th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

CBC News, October 27

The British Columbia coast was hit with a magnitude 7.7 earthquake on Saturday night, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

The quake was centred 198 kilometres south-southwest of Prince Rupert at a depth of 10 km, the USGS said.


Tsunami Warning for AK, British Columbia, US East Coast and US West Coast

Google Public Alerts, October 27

A tsunami Warning is now in effect which includes the coastal areas of British Columbia and Alaska from the north tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia to Cape Decision, Alaska (85 miles SE of Sitka). – Event details: Preliminary magnitude 7.1 (Mwp) earthquake / Lat: 52.863, Lon: -131.942 at 2012-10-28T03:04:11Z Tsunami warnings mean that a tsunami with significant widespread inundation is expected, or occurring. Warnings indicate that widespread dangerous coastal flooding accompanied by powerful currents is possible and may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrival.

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Posted by The Agonist on October 27th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Huffington Post (Sun Sentinel), By Scott Travis, October 25

If you want to save money at Florida’s universities, you may soon have to choose biology over ballet or engineering over English.

A state task force created by Gov. Rick Scott has released its preliminary recommendations on how to revamp higher education. The proposals end the one-size-fits-all way of funding universities.

Highly distinguished universities, such as the University of Florida and Florida State University, could charge more than others. Tuition would be lower for students pursuing degrees most needed for Florida’s job market, including ones in science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as the STEM fields.

The committee is recommending no tuition increases for them in the next three years.

But to pay for that, students in fields such as psychology, political science, anthropology, and performing arts could pay more because they have fewer job prospects in the state.

So, so hard to believe… Via Hullabaloo: From The Department Of You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

This is the logic of Puritans. It’s all of a piece with the attraction the MSM and many “serious” economists have for austerity programs to the bizarre movement that would force a woman to give birth to her rapist’s child,

It is a worldview that privileges a dreary bleakness over joy.

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