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Posted on on August 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

We react here to the New York Times Editorial of August 24, 2015 that seemingly wants us to believe that Putin and the Ayatollahs found religion when they heard that 250,000 Arabs were killed in Syria. Really – why should they care?

Let us suggest that “THE DEAL” has turned the interest of Iran to revive its International Banking if the Sanctions are removed – and that is the real driving force that eventually can bring Putin and the Ayatollahs to the table IN EXCHANGE FOR A SAUDI AND THE OTHER GULF STATES OIL EXPORTERS PROMISE TO REDUCE THEIR EXPORTS OF OIL.

YES – the US and the Europeans are driven by humanitarian concepts – the Russians and the Iranians think of the PRICE OF OIL that hit them hard in their economies. The US and the Europeans enjoyed the lowering of the price of oil – based on the high supply figures and a decreasing demand that resulted from GREEN ACTIVITIES – higher efficiency and alternate sources of energy.
But also these two developing energy topics can only benefit from a higher price for oil. So what the heck – let us help the Syrians and save whatever cultural monuments the Islamic State has not destroyed yet. We know that one way or another – the Christian population of Syria and Iraq is doomed and the Lebanese Maronites strive already decades in Brazil like the Iraqi Jews who spread all over the globe – from the Far East to the Far West. But let the enlightened world deal with the problem – and explain to the Saudis that time has come for them to listen to the global woes and do their part by selling less oil !!!


Posted on on August 7th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Republican Party of the USA is the guardian of Corporate America in effect it is owned by the corporations and we heard this from last night’s stage at the Cleveland Ohio Arena – the future home of the Republican National Convention that will be called to nominate the party’s candidate for the 2016 Presidential elections. We heard this from Donald Trump who said in the open that he gives money to any candidate just for the asking – he gave also to some of the others on that stage. He even gave to the foundation of the Clintons – that is how he owns them. Hillary came to his wedding – she had to – she got his money.

All the Senators on the stage are corporate owned he established. That explains many things. He thinks he would be the best President to save the country from this oppression from banks and Wall Street because he is one of those that know the system from the inside and he knew how to work with them to his advantage which he demonstrated in his corporations that went through four bankruptcies without himself ever have gone bankrupt.

The real problem with the US is this tremendous debt – in major part owed to China. He feels he is qualified to handle this issue more then any of those Corporate owned other competitors – he even is not promising to back any of them if they if they are nominated – he is savvy. Ever heard such a rebellion and ever figured that he is on solid ground in this rebellion?
Now about FOX NEWS – their owner and management are sworn Republicans and them running last night’s show turned it into a family affair rather then an event open to the Nation. Into this milieu intruded Donald Trump and rather then seeing in him the revolutionary they saw the sensation aspect but fought him in order to please the right-wing party base. They sat up a moderator team centered around a good looking monumental blonde and asked only questions on social issues that please that “base.”

THERE WERE NO REAL QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ECONOMY, ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, THE COMING GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE DISASTERS OR ANY OTHER REAL QUESTION ABOUT MATTERS OF GLOBAL CONCERNS. Instead we heard a question about if the candidate is getting his orders from God and innumerable attacks on Obamacare and the agreement with Iran.

My wife wrote me from Vienna that it is good Fox News cannot be seen live on local TV – so the locals do not see the US in all its political backwardness.

But, what is worse, seemingly no effort was made to open up the show to the non-initiated even here in the US. For example, in Manhattan NY it is known that Channel 5 is Fox News – but they did not show there – they moved it instead to one of their side channels 43 or 44. This while on Channel five they announced that they will give a summary of the first debate at 6 PM – and they did not do even that. I attest to it that mind-numbbing programs went on at least till 8:30 PM. Even I lost because of this the first debate before I found their whereabouts.

But, despite this Republican Leadership clear positioning as roadblock to American Progress, this show was NOT a total loss.
Starting already in the 5 PM “HAPPY HOUR or DRIVING time slot for what was presented as the second tier panel, there was an unprogrammed breakout by Carly Fiorina who was listed originally as 14th. She showed she could content-wise measure up to Mr. Trump, but could also be a leader something that he did not develop. Right there – like in the physical tests for military officer school – she got from among the contestants some that were ready to accept her leadership – this from no less then former Governor of Texas – Mr. Perry – whose starting ranking was 11th. So clearly the rankings will change and we expect Ms. Fiorina to be part of the upper tier at next meeting that will be handled by true outsiders from CNN.

The only other true discovery on those two panels was Dr. Benjamin Solomon “Ben” Carson, Sr. (born September 18, 1951) he is an American author, political pundit, and retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon. On May 4, 2015, Carson announced he was running for the Republican nomination in the 2016 Presidential election at a rally in Detroit, his hometown.

Carson was the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head. In 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.

After delivering a widely publicized speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, he became a popular conservative figure in political media for his views on social and political issues.

He was the one true intellectual on the panels and on the main panel the only non-lily-white person. In effect he is black and the right-wing counterpart to President Obama. He speaks slowly and each word is a thought out pearl. He was fifth on the ingoing list.

At some point he showed impatience and noted to the moderators that they do not direct questions to him. When he got a chance he said that color of skin is not the man and as a neurosurgeon he worked with the real man. Finally, his parting sentences noted that he is the only one on the panel who knows to separate Siamese twins and to remove half brain – but seemingly in Washington he was beaten to it.

I believe that whoever becomes next President – Democrat or Republican – ought to bring in Dr. Carson as a Consultant.

Our own evaluation of the results:




We believe that THE ONE TO WIN IN CLEVELAND NEXT TIME – the real decision making event – WILL NOT BE TRUMP, BUSH, OR WALKER -

For further evaluation – please read what we mainly got from CNN – the true MEDIA winner from evaluating last nights panels.

CNN ARTICLE FRIDAY, August 7, 2015 – that is built on the FOX NEWS HELD REPUBLICAN DEBATE that THE FOX was not able to review by themselves.

By Gloria Borger, CNN Chief Political Analyst…

(CNN)CNN Opinion asked a range of contributors to give their take on the first Republican Party debate of the 2016 presidential campaign, and to pick their biggest winners and losers from the night. The opinions expressed in these commentaries are solely their own.

David Gergen: Trump, a gift to the GOP

Donald Trump may ultimately wind up damaging Republican chances next November but yesterday he gave the GOP presidential candidates a huge gift: his presence generated the biggest, most attentive opening day audience in American politics. Each of the 17 candidates had a chance to audition before a massive number of voters, not to mention donors and journalists. (The debate had a record 24 million viewers, according to Nielsen.)

As a group, the candidates generally rose to the occasion. Yes, there was still too much ideological rigidity, too many canned answers and too little attention to ways that technology and globalization are reshaping the United States. But with nine sitting or former governors and five sitting or former Senators among the candidates, the GOP could showcase plenty of talent.

For my money, there were two candidates who helped themselves the most. One was Governor John Kasich of Ohio: while sticking to conservative principles, he gave voice to common sense Midwestern values as well as a moral commitment to Americans living in the shadows. In effect, he tapped into some of the same anger that Trump has understood but turned it in a warm, positive direction.

The other big winner was Carly Fiorina whose performance in the afternoon debate was universally acclaimed in the press and social media. The GOP ought to hope that she moves up the polls so that women can see at least one representative on center stage — and in her case, one who is articulate, sophisticated and strong.

As for Trump himself, the old rules would say he hurt himself last night, especially with opening answers that came across as narcissistic and boorish. But with so much free floating anger and frustration in today’s politics, the old rules aren’t as powerful as they once were. Who knows? He could deliver yet another big audience when CNN hosts a second round of debates in September.

David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been a White House adviser to four presidents. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a professor of public service and co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at The Harvard Kennedy School. Follow him on Twitter: @david_gergen. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.


Dan Pfeiffer: The debate was Trumped

This was the Donald’s debate. He dominated the discussion, he was the focus of the moderators, social media traffic spiked every time he opened his mouth. Other than Rand Paul (who is apparently still running for President), all of his fellow candidates went out of their way to avoid stoking his ire. Two years after the RNC’s post-election autopsy declared that the only path to victory is a more inclusive tone, Trump has pushed the party further to the right on immigration than it has ever been before. Smart professionals in the Republican Party cringed at every mention of illegals, deportations and walls being built.

Trump may have hurt himself or helped himself, no one really knows because he defies all the traditional rules of politics (he probably hurt himself a lot). But his effect on the field is clear. This is Donald Trump’s party and all the other candidates just seem glad to be invited.

Winner: Marco Rubio. On a night of very uneven performances, Rubio showed flashes of why Democrats fear him most. He has had a tough few months, losing a lot of altitude and momentum, and basically disappearing from the discussion, but he gave Republicans a reason to remember his name tonight.

Loser: Jeb Bush. After several bad weeks, Jeb Bush could really have used a good night. He didn’t have it. Bush, like Huntsman in ’12 and Dukakis in ’88, seems to shrink under the klieg lights. He was nervous, halting, and just painfully uninspiring. Politics in our polarized age is about motivation and Bush gave no indication that he could motivate anyone to get out of bed and vote on a rainy day in November.

No one outshines Donald Trump at GOP debate

Dan Pfeiffer is a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama and served in the White House in a variety of roles, including communications director.


Tara Setmayer: It’s all about relatability

Clear, concise, and a command of the issues. No, I’m not talking about the Donald or Jeb Bush (who terribly underperformed by the way). I’m referring to Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Although he was the youngest contender on the debate stage, he certainly came across as the adult in the room. On a night filled with plenty of zingers and testy exchanges, Rubio was able to rise above the bickering and overly produced bravado. He was prepared, comfortable and most importantly, relatable.

The spats on stage between Trump and Bush, Chris Christie and Rand Paul may have made for an entertaining spectacle, but none of that is worth a grain of political salt if voters cannot relate to you. The relatability factor sunk Romney in 2012 and is one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest vulnerabilities heading into 2016. In contrast, Senator Rubio’s own authentic life story as the son of Cuban immigrant parents, one a bartender, the other a maid, rising up from nothing to become a senator and stand on stage as the possible next President of the United States, represents the very essence of the American dream for anyone who believes in the limitless opportunities this country provides.

In one of Rubio’s strongest and most memorable lines of the night, he said: “Who is Hillary Clinton to lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck … who is Hillary Clinton to lecture me about repaying students loans?” Exactly.

If Rubio ends up the nominee, imagine the contrast on the debate stage a year from now between Clinton and Rubio. One represents the future, the other a relic of yesteryear. That’s a matchup the Clinton camp surely hopes to avoid and justifiably so.

Bush on the other hand had a disappointing performance. He came across as unsure, defensive and aloof. If Jeb comes across like that again in the upcoming CNN debate in September, watch for supporters on the fence between Bush and Rubio begin to move toward the junior senator from Florida.

Thursday’s winner: Marco Rubio

The loser: Jeb Bush

Breakout performance: Carly Fiorina

Tara Setmayer is former communication’s director for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, and a CNN political commentator.


Opinion: Donald Trump was terrible

Mel Robbins: Trump won.

The first GOP debate is over and Trump is still winning. He dominated the polls leading into the debate. He dominated the pre-debate commentary. He was the only candidate the press greeted when he arrived in Ohio. And most importantly, the rest of the field wasn’t that memorable. Yes Trump’s shtick works best when he’s on the campaign trail, not the debate stage but Trump didn’t do too much damage. At least not enough to knock him from his lead. Plus, Fox pounded him with “gotcha’ questions – like – “when did you become a Republican” yet Trump stood firm. He won the night because even despite ridiculous assertions like ” building a big beautiful door” in the wall he’d build fencing off Mexico, he managed to hold his lead among nine other GOP candidates.

Keep in mind, timing is essential in a campaign. And, at this stage in the race, the public is not yet focused on the election. We’re focused on paying bills, the end of summer, the start of school, basically – everything but the election. So Trump grabbed our attention early and even though Rubio, Christie and Kasich had a good night, Trump still was more memorable; which means at this stage in the race he won; for now.

Loser: Women

Fox pushed an anti-choice agenda over and over and over – and the candidates took the baton and ran with it. From Scott Walker and the imaginary fetus he kept cradling as he talked about his anti-choice views, to Jeb Bush bragging about creating a pro-life culture in Florida despite his state’s record on rising births to unwed mothers to Huckabee pushing for a personhood amendment. Women, women’s health and a woman’s ability to make decisions about her body without men and the government interfering – were under attack.

When men control women’s bodies and our health decisions, every woman loses. And women lost tonight as these 10 men lectured America about what they’d do to limit our control over our bodies if they were president. When Carly Fiorina was asked about Jeb Bush’s quote (which he’s repudiated) that he was “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” she said it was a “foolish” thing to say. Actually, it’s not foolish, it’s downright scary.

Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator, legal analyst, best-selling author and keynote speaker. In 2014, she was named outstanding news talk-radio host by the Gracie Awards.


Donald Trump slams Megyn Kelly

William Howell: Debaters run from race issue

For two hours, the top 10 Republican candidates held forth on the Fourth Amendment rights of unborn children, the imperatives of regulatory reform, the various manifestations of weakness shown by the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of the past six years, the need for a stronger military and simpler tax code, and the merits of a wall (or is it a fence?) along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Hardly a mention was made of race. Ben Carson brought it up only to dismiss its significance. No one confronted the violence, poverty, and incarceration rates that plague black and Hispanic communities. With the exception of Rand Paul’s last-minute shout out to Ferguson and Detroit, the candidates turned away from the bubbling cauldron of anger and alienation—expressed intermittently in resistance and deviance—that has captured national headlines for the last year.

At the 92nd minute, Fox anchor Megyn Kelly asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker about the Black Lives Matter movement. He responded with some abbreviated thoughts on the importance of police training. And there, the issue dropped flat, and the station cut to commercial.

Repeatedly, the panel of moderators needled candidates for their perceived weaknesses in an expected showdown with Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Newsflash: For a party that has failed to win a majority of the popular vote in 5 of the past 6 presidential elections, in a country where whites’ share of the electorate is shrinking, Republicans had better find a way to talk about race.

Winner: Marco Rubio. Cool, level-headed and sharp.

Loser: Donald Trump. Unable to command the stage, held in check by debate protocols and vacuous, this one blustered to audience boos

William Howell is the Sydney Stein professor in American politics at the University of Chicago.


Donna Brazile: Not a real debate, but an audition

With Donald Trump occupying center stage at the first presidential primary debate, the other nine contenders had to look for ways to interject their own ideas or to try to avoid taking a direct hit from the front runner. The task wasn’t easy.

From calling for a big wall to solve our broken immigration system to repealing Obamacare without an alternative, some of the candidates took up a lot of unnecessary room on that debate stage, especially when you consider how much they overlap, at least policy-wise. While they offered muted versions of conservative policies, Donald Trump, though, was the one who was saying those things right out loud.

It’s a bunch of guys saying the exact same thing, and trying to impress people with how well they say it. This wasn’t a debate, it was an audition to remain viable until the next debate or forum.

Biggest losers: Rand Paul and Chris Christie for their bitter clash over NSA surveillance and terrorism. They offered testosterone with a bit of Tabasco.

Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation for the Democratic National Committee. A nationally syndicated columnist, she is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of “Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pots in America.”


Buck Sexton: Paul showed up ready to fight

There was no clear standout in the big 10 GOP debate Thursday night, but several candidates turned in strong performances. Marco Rubio showed the polish and policy knowledge you would expect. Same for Ted Cruz, whose biggest obstacle may be over-eloquence, if there is such a thing. Chris Christie hit his stride on entitlements, and showed some glimmers of the swagger that made him a household name.

The biggest surprise of the night came from Rand Paul, who showed up ready to fight. The usually laid-back libertarian came out fiery, getting into squabbles with Donald Trump and Christie (winning the latter exchange). If nothing else, Senator Paul reminded America that he’s still in this thing in a meaningful way.

The rest of the candidates weren’t strong enough to move the needle in their favor. Scott Walker was just OK. Ben Carson came off as he is — an entirely likable, accomplished professional, but he still didn’t get much airtime. John Kasich, Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush were not memorable — and Bush in particular affirmed his politics as usual persona.

Trump is in his own category here. If you didn’t like Trump as a candidate before Thursday night, he did nothing to change your mind. Refusing to pledge his support for the GOP set the tone — and then he admitted on national television that he is an avowed crony capitalist. Of course, none of this will faze Trump’s most ardent supporters, but tonight solidified that he has no chance of winning over the rest of the GOP.

So, the winners tonight? Rubio, Cruz, Paul and Christie

The losers: Bush, Trump, Huckabee and Carson

Buck Sexton is a political commentator for CNN and host of “The Buck Sexton Show” on the Blaze. He was previously a CIA counterterrorism analyst.


Dean Obeidallah: Race now wide open

On Thursday, we were treated to not one, but two episodes of the summer’s newest reality show. Some will blame Donald Trump for transforming the race into a reality show. And those people would be right. But Fox News also did a great deal to add the reality show feel. First off, they only picked the top 10 contestants, I mean candidates, for the big show. Nothing says you are in the loser debate like staring out at 20,000 empty seat, as the seven other candidates were left to do. And before the debate Fox News’ Chris Wallace even promised someone would hand Trump a “fat juicy ball” of a question with which to attack Jeb Bush to see if the former Florida governor could take it. Fox News should just have gone full reality with celebrity judges and a gong.

So, who were the big winners and losers from the two debates? In terms of not meeting or fulfilling expectations, it would have been Ben Carson, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. Trump especially so in that he didn’t offer details on policies, he lashed out, and seemed uncomfortable with the audience turning against him. The winner, at least in terms of might see their poll numbers improve, are likely to be Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Carly Fiorina.

But the bottom line is that the race now seems more wide open than ever.

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s weekly program “The Dean Obeidallah Show.” He is a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean’s Report. He’s also the co-director of the documentary “The Muslims Are Coming!” Follow him @TheDeansreport.


Maria Cardona: Bluster, bravado, no specifics

First things first: She may not have been part of the 10-man “main event” GOP debate, but make no mistake: It was Carly Fiorina, hands down, who shone most Thursday, during the earlier, so-called “happy hour” debate. The second-tier debate, held at 5 p.m. Thursday, proved to be more substantive and let lesser-known candidates like Ms. Fiorina stand out.

The prime time debate, on the other hand, brought us more of the same from every candidate: bluster, bravado, and no specifics from Donald Trump; Chris Christie and Rand Paul yelling at each other over the Patriot Ac;, attacks on Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood all around (is Planned Parenthood running for president?), and criticisms of everything President Obama has done on foreign policy with scant suggestion from any of them about how they would do anything differently.

Donald Trump did not look like a serious candidate, compared with others on stage. But he has struck a chord with Republicans, so likely did no harm to his front runner status and in fact may have satisfied GOP voters for continuing to be a thorn in the side of the Republican establishment. John Kasich may have done himself some good too, taking advantage of his home court advantage and underscoring his accomplishments in Ohio. Scott Walker? Flat, as was Jeb Bush. But Marco Rubio showed flashes of passion, especially on the issue of abortion.

Tonight’s debate likely did not do much to change the standing of these candidates among Republican voters. However, the group underscored to women, minorities, young people, and middle class families why GOP policies would take the country back to a time when women were told what to do with their bodies, where walls, language and different cultures cut people off from the promise of America, and where your future was more determined by how rich you were and not how hard you were determined to work.

Winners: Carly Fiorina, John Kasich — and Hillary Clinton for all of the fodder the candidates gave her for the general election campaign.

Loser: Jeb Bush

Maria Cardona is a political commentator for CNN, a Democratic strategist and principal at the Dewey Square Group. She is a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and was communications director for the Democratic National Committee. She also is a former communications director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.


Julian Zelizer: This is no way to pick a candidate

Welcome to the world of reality political television. While it is a good thing that an unusually large number of people seemed excited to gather Around their television sets and computer screens to watch Thursday night’s Republican debate, and the earlier “happy hour” debate, the importance of these contests is not a good sign for American democracy.

For sure, we were able to see whether candidates had the capacity to throw a good punch and deliver a catchy a quip. In the early debate, Carly Fiorina delivered some good lines about Donald Trump (“I didn’t get a call from Bill Clinton”) as well as Jeb Bush (“it is foolish to say that women’s health isn’t a priority”). And later, the top 10 candidates rose to the occasion as well, with lines that are sure to make the rounds on YouTube. Donald Trump delivered one about Rosie O’Donnell and political correctness that generated some excitement, while Jeb Bush demonstrated his wonkish qualities, though he certainly didn’t do enough to excite worried supporters. Rand Paul and Chris Christie had a heated interaction about government surveillance that showed both still have things to say.

Simply by taking up so much time, Donald Trump comes out of this debate continuing to be the center of attention, and all of the other candidates trying to take on Bush will feel frustrated in that they will probably have to continue to deal with Trump for more time to come.

But does all this tell us much about how any of these candidates would do as president? Ultimately, this is what voters need to know. At best, though, we get to judge how they will perform in the already stilted atmosphere of general election debates. That’s about it.

The debates have already skewed the decision process by creating two tiers of candidates based on national polls. And the format of the debate itself offered no time for substantive answers. The incentives in the debates are all for body language and making punchy statements. To be sure, there were some useful moments as the candidates talked about immigration, surveillance and other big issues of the day. But the benefits are limited.

Unfortunately, these debates have become the way we measure the people who are running — opinions are formed, buzz is generated, predictions are made, all on the basis of a stilted event that resembles prime time talent shows like “American Idol.” In fact, we are only a step away from having people call into a national number to vote off the candidate they like least. It’s no wonder than Donald Trump, the former star of The Apprentice, looked so comfortable on the stage and drew much of the attention.

Who was the biggest loser? American democracy. This is no way to pick who will run for president. Democracy deserves a more serious conversation.

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a New America fellow. He is the author of “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society” and co-editor of a new book, “Medicare and Medicaid at 50: America’s Entitlement Programs in the Age of Affordable Care.”


Tom Rogan: Fiorina Thursday’s star

Carly Fiorina won the first debate. Easily. Implicitly criticizing Donald Trump and explicitly criticizing Hillary Clinton, Fiorina pressed GOP voters to give her their consideration. Fiorina will see a significant poll bounce in response — she even received applause when one of her comments was replayed during the primetime debate! Fiorina’s closest competitor in that debate was Rick Perry.

In terms of the major candidates in the second debate, Marco Rubio will win favor for his statements on abortion and American exceptionalism. Jeb Bush was strongest when defending education reforms in pursuit of social mobility, but largely played it safe. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie showed spark by challenging Rand Paul on national security and Mike Huckabee on entitlements. Ted Cruz was quiet, but recovered with a powerful concluding statement. Ohio Gov. John Kasich was confident — thriving off his supporters in the hall. Donald Trump, meanwhile, doubled down on his populist disdain, but struggled when pushed. And Kentucky Senator Rand Paul also struggled to find his voice.

The winner? I’d say Scott Walker, with Rubio and Kasich close behind. Walker received a tough question on Wisconsin’s economy but responded confidently. He was also impressive on foreign policy — an area where he’s previously been considered weak.

Thursday’s winner: Carly Fiorina and Scott Walker

The night’s loser? Rand Paul

Carly Fiorina shines in first GOP debate

Tom Rogan writes for National Review and is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group. He tweets @TomRtweets. His homepage is


Raul A. Reyes: Too much left unsaid

Watching the GOP debate tonight was something of a surreal experience because it offered a window into the mindset of the Republican base. This was a debate in which Donald Trump asserted that “no one was talking about immigration.” This was a debate in which 10 men, all of whom purport to be against big government, confidently discussed how they would regulate women’s bodies. This was a debate in which Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio denounced Obamacare — even though they both signed their families up for coverage.

But what was notable about this debate was what went unsaid. There was no discussion of the Voting Rights Act on its 50th anniversary. There was no discussion of U.S.-Cuba policy, Nor of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Most glaringly, for all the talk about illegal immigration, there was no discussion about what to do with the 11 million undocumented people who are already here.

One of the most potent social movements today, “Black Lives Matter,” merited exactly one question — to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The entire discussion lasted less than a minute. Ironically, a movie trailer for the upcoming “Straight Outta Compton” film addressed police brutality in communities of color more than tonight’s debate did.

The Fox hosts certainly showed no hesitation to challenge Trump. Yet, despite his thin-as-paper responses, their continued focus on him may have served to elevate his stature. Trump was his usual blustery self and did not serve up any huge drama — which might have the effect of extending the life of his candidacy.

Ultimately, the big winner of the night was John Kasich. He introduced himself to the nation as rational, reasonable and able to hold his ground in a competitive field.

The big loser was Scott Walker. As someone in the top tier of candidates, he did not seize the moment to advance his candidacy. Indeed, his statements seemed canned and he rarely exceeded his allotted time.

Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and member of the USA Today board of contributors. Follow him @RaulAReyes.


Karlyn Bowman: Debate not a plus for GOP

There was much talent on the stage tonight, but we didn’t get to hear much of it. Perhaps it was impossible with 10 candidates on the stage, perhaps it was the circus like atmosphere of the first hour, perhaps it was Donald Trump the showman, perhaps it was the Fox hosts’ desire to play gotcha journalism. Regardless, this debate was not a plus for the GOP and the party needs to rethink these cattle calls. Trump and Jeb Bush may be the front runners in the polls, but Marco Rubio and Scott Walker did well.

Most of the candidates had at least one good line or an engaging back and forth with another candidate. Ben Carson had a terrific closing statement. I doubt this debate changed much. Trump is still a wild card, but I doubt the other candidates’ standing in the polls will change much.

Karlyn Bowman is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute where she studies public opinion.


(CNN)Every time we land in a presidential election year, there is always a big prize the candidates try to lure: women.

also by Gloria Borger

It’s always fun to be courted as part of the gender gap. That’s when the pols start to talk about family, health care, education and security. We hear about so-called women’s issues nonstop. We see candidates’ wives tell us their husbands are really human, loving and fab dads. Translation: If we love them, you can too.

Why all the fuss? Because at some point in the last few decades, campaigns figured out that women vote in higher numbers — and not necessarily like the men in their lives. Sometimes, yes. But not always, not by any means. In fact, the influence can often go the other way. What’s more, women are no monolith: Mitt Romney won with married women in 2012 by 7 points, for instance. Yet Barack Obama won with women overall by 11 points. In order to win this time, a GOP candidate has to do better.

Enter Donald Trump. He just loves women. At least that’s what he tells us. And women, of course, just love him. Not quite sure what the evidence is there, except for Trump’s involvement with Miss Universe or his declaration in one of his books that “I love women.”

Well, not so much with debate moderator Megyn Kelly, it seems, after she asked Trump about his assorted rants against women he clearly doesn’t love as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.” His answer was an effort to cleverly deflect with some rhetoric about how neither he nor the country has time to be “politically correct.” Even if that’s true, how does the ever-so-busy Trump have the time to constantly tweet his insults? Seems like he has a lot of time to be politically incorrect.

In a final coup de grace, Trump went after Kelly, allowing as to how he had been “nice to” her (for which she should be grateful, I presume?), but then theorized that maybe he ought not to be. Whoa. An untweeted threat? The real, live audience booed. He tried to back off from the bluster, but there it was.

Oh, and by the way, no candidate stepped up debate night to agree that Trump’s insults about women were offensive. Maybe it was the rules that kept them silent? Or maybe it was that Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the GOP field, had been offstage, relegated to the first (I-didn’t-have-enough-support-to-make-it into-the-big-boy) debate?

By Friday morning, Trump’s official account retweeted a tweet that referred to Kelly — an accomplished anchor, lawyer and mother — as a “bimbo.” Awfully presidential, wouldn’t you say?

So here’s where we are: Clearly, Republicans know they need more women to vote for them if they are going to win the presidency. Second obvious point: With Hillary Clinton running for president, the gender gap could turn into a gender wave. And not just because Clinton is a woman — women don’t automatically vote for women (see: Hillary Clinton, circa 2008 campaign) — but because Republicans, at least so far, have made a mess of it.

It’s not that it’s a premeditated “war on women” as the Democratic Party apparatus likes to dub it; it’s more of a head-scratching, did-you-just-say-that process of flubs that slowly seeps into the ether. Jeb Bush stepped in it when he said, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” Or that, while most Republicans oppose same-sex marriage, 58% of women support it. And in the last campaign, for instance, Republicans found themselves debating the issue of birth control, on the defensive after Senate candidate Todd Aiken spoke of “legitimate rape” and cringed in pain when Romney bragged he had “binders full of women” to choose from for potential statehouse jobs.

After 2012, Republicans even decided to hold seminars for GOP candidates about how to talk to women. Guess they left Trump off the list.

Generally, authenticity in politics is a great thing. We don’t see enough of it, to be sure. But that doesn’t mean that when you see it, you automatically have to like it. And in Trump’s case, count women as skeptical. A recent CBS News poll of registered voters shows that 62% of women have an unfavorable view of Trump. Among Republican women, he does somewhat better, but he’s still underwater: 42% have an unfavorable view of him; 38% like him.

In Trump’s book “The Art of the Comeback,” he waxes on about les girls: “There’s nothing I love more than women, but they are really a lot different than portrayed. They are far worse than men, far more aggressive, and boy, can they be smart. Let’s give credit where credit is due, and let’s salute women for their tremendous power, which most men are afraid to admit they have.”

If Trump says it, then it must be true.


Carly Fiorina shines in first GOP debate

By Mark Preston, CNN

Updated 12:50 AM ET, Fri August 7, 2015
| Video Source: CNN

(CNN)Carly Fiorina was one of the biggest winners Thursday night without even stepping on the prime-time stage.

The California businesswoman didn’t meet the eligibility criteria to participate in the marque event, but her strong performance at the 5 p.m. debate for second-tier candidates lingered throughout the evening.

She did make an appearance at the later forum — she was featured in back-to-back video clips about Iran that helped set up a question in the debate.

The first of them showed a moment from the earlier event in which one of her opponents, Rick Perry, turned to her while seeking to explain his position on the nuclear deal.

“I will tell you one thing,” Perry said, “I would a whole lot rather (have) had Carly Fiorina over there doing our negotiation than John Kerry. Maybe we would’ve gotten a deal where we didn’t give everything away.”

READ: Donald Trump roils GOP presidential debate

The compliment from the former Texas governor came about 50 minutes into the first Republican debate of the 2016 election — an acknowledgment from at least one of Fiorina’s rivals that she is a sharp, skilled negotiator.

When the final question was asked and answered in this first debate, it was clear that Fiorina stood out. Social media users and many commentators emphatically declared her the winner.

At this moment in the campaign, seven GOP candidates are fighting for relevancy, respect and their political futures. The “Republican Seven,” of which Fiorina is one, failed to make the cut for the main debate — the event that will feature Donald Trump at center stage.

For the seven lower-tier Republicans, there was no prime-time television exposure, no opportunities to compare and contrast themselves with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and no audience in the arena to watch them make the case as to why they should be the next commander-in-chief.

One of these seven Republicans needed a homerun to differentiate themselves from the other six and show why they deserve to be in the top 10 at the next debate at the Reagan Library in California.

The former Hewlett Packard CEO, who is sitting at between 1% to 2% in the national polls, did just that by demonstrating a sharp knowledge of the issues as she stood shoulder to shoulder on a stage of former and current U.S. senators and governors.
Carly Fiorina the superstar of first GOP debate?

Fiorina has an interesting story to tell and she let the viewers know that she did not begin her business career in a large corner office.

“I started as a secretary and became ultimately the chief executive of the largest technology company in the world, almost $90 billion in over 150 countries,” she said. “I know personally how extraordinary and unique this nation is.”

Does it sound familiar? A certain brash New Yorker has been dominating the political headlines of late by talking up his business acumen and how it has prepared him to be president. When asked by the moderator to explain why Trump is getting all of the attention, Fiorina was able to deliver a jab at the real estate mogul over his ties to the Clintons.

After acknowledging that Trump has hit a vein of anger in the American electorate, she pivoted and made a play for Republican primary voters. “I would just ask, what are the principles by which he will govern?” she said.

It is a question many Republicans, especially establishment Republicans, are wondering.

And for all of her talk, Fiorina is a political insider. Yet she does not carry the inside-the-Beltway stigma. On Thursday night, she deftly discussed her business accomplishments and governing philosophy while emphasizing her worldly connections and steely approach to pressing issues.

“On Day One in the Oval Office, I would make two phone calls,” she said. “The first one would be to my good friend, Bibi Netanyahu, to reassure him we will stand with the State of Israel.

READ: CNN fact checks the 2016 Republican debates

“The second will be to the supreme leader of Iran. He might not take my phone call, but he would get the message, and the message is this: Until you open every nuclear and every military facility to full, open, anytime, anywhere, for real inspections, we are going to make it as difficult as possible for you to move money around the global financial system.”

Fiorina ended the night by playing again to Republican primary voters looking for a candidate who can defeat Hillary Clinton in November 2016.

“We need a nominee who is going to throw every punch, not pull punches, and someone who cannot stumble before he even gets into the ring,” she said.

Clearly, Fiorina did not stumble, but it remains to be seen if her performance has caused enough GOP primary voters to reconsider her current standing in the race.

Even if they do, any budding Fiorina boomlet would have to overcome some stark realities. She needs to increase her name recognition, but she doesn’t appear to have the cash to do so. Her campaign has raised very little hard money — only $1.4 million — and her super PAC has had minimal success catching high-dollar donors.

And by flirting with invisibility in the polls, Fiorina hasn’t incurred the wrath of opposition research or had her resume thoroughly vetted. But that could soon change.


and from the left – from the Campaign for America’s Future -

AUGUST 7, 2015

The GOP Debate is What Oligarchy Looks Like.
Recently five Republican presidential candidates paraded themselves before a group of mega-donors convened by the Koch brothers. Thursday’s debate was an extension of the Kochs’ beauty pageant.


And From Senator Bernie Sanders:

He appeals to the Democrats to have a discussion on all those thigs that the Republicans left out.



Posted on on July 10th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Jeb Bush Explains You Are Not Working Hard Enough

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

09 July 15

And Scott Walker would like to tell us what to do with that time we used to call a weekend.

t has been three generations since any member of the extended Bush clan of Kennebunkport has done any actual physical labor so, if we’re being charitable, we can assume that Jeb (!) wouldn’t recognize real work if you handed him a shovel and pointed him toward a ditch. Nonetheless, he would like you to know that you are not working as hard as you should work if you want to be as successful as, well, him.

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

Holy Jesus H. Christ on a furlough, there’s your “47 percent” moment for this cycle. What is it with this guy and with that other Florida Man, Marco Rubio? Is the sun so bright that neither of them sees the rakes until it’s too late? Every legitimate survey demonstrates that Americans are working longer hours for wages that pretty much have remained flat for 30 years while most of the country’s wealth was being shoved up to that level of the economy wherein reside Jeb (!) and his family of entitled layabouts. This is pure Romneyism in action. This one statement should kill his campaign. It should be hung around his neck like a dead raccoon until the last ballot of the 2016 election is cast. If it’s not, it’s only because some people will do anything to keep this guy viable because he allegedly is more “serious” than many of the other presidential candidates. Those people are wrong.

Meanwhile, Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, is preparing to announce his candidacy for president next week by signing a Superfund site of a state budget that includes a provision that—and I am not kidding here—does away with the concept of the weekend.

Of course, this merely allows an “employee” to “opt out” of the requirement that he be given one day of rest every seven, and I am sure that the state’s employers will do nothing to “encourage” their employees to take advantage of their newfound freedom to be worked to death. This is pure Lochnerism in action, of course. Nobody can say they don’t have a jobs plan anyway.


Posted on on February 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Today In the U.S. – Claims Against Saudis Cast New Light on Secret Pages of 9/11 Report.

By CARL HULSE, The New York Times, February 4, 2015

Following up on last week’s news:
Moussaoui Calls Saudi Princes Patrons of Al Qaeda – February 3, 2015
Pre-9/11 Ties Haunt Saudis as New Accusations Surface – February. 4, 2015
the US is now all ears – will they get to know the true facts by being allowed to read the inquiry results?

President George W. Bush has ordered classified – that is top secrecy – on the behavior of the Saudi Monarchy and its Princes in the US – and even sprinted them out of reach at a time the airports were closed for everybody else. Is this not suspicious even more when we think how the House of Bush was involved in oil-business ties with the House of Saud?

WASHINGTON — A still-classified section of the investigation by congressional intelligence committees into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has taken on an almost mythic quality over the past 13 years — 28 pages that examine crucial support given the hijackers and that by all accounts implicate prominent Saudis in financing terrorism.

Now new claims by Zacarias Moussaoui, a convicted former member of Al Qaeda, that he had high-level contact with officials of the Saudi Arabian government in the prelude to Sept. 11 have brought renewed attention to the inquiry’s withheld findings, which lawmakers and relatives of those killed in the attacks have tried unsuccessfully to declassify.

“I think it is the right thing to do,” said Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts and an author of a bipartisan resolution encouraging President Obama to declassify the section. “Let’s put it out there.”

White House officials say the administration has undertaken a review on whether to release the pages but has no timetable for when they might be made public.

Mr. Lynch and his allies have been joined by former Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee was a leader of the inquiry. He has called for the release of the report’s Part 4, which dealt with Saudi Arabia, since President George W. Bush ordered it classified when the rest of the report was released in December 2002.

Mr. Graham has repeatedly said it shows that Saudi Arabia was complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks. “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” Mr. Graham said last month as he pressed for the pages to be made public.

Relatives of those killed on Sept. 11 as well as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against Saudi Arabia have also demanded that the pages be made public, seeing them as the vital link that they believe connects an important ally of the United States to the deadly attacks. They say the pages, Part 4 of the report, could also help in determining the source of current funding for terrorist activities.

“If we stop funding of terrorism and hold those people accountable, wouldn’t it make a dent in the financing of terrorism today?” asked William Doyle, whose son, Joseph, was killed in the World Trade Center. Mr. Doyle said that President Obama personally assured him after the death of Osama bin Laden that he would declassify that section of the report.

Proponents of releasing Part 4, titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain National Security Matters,” have suggested that the Bush and Obama administrations have held it back for fear of alienating an influential military and economic partner rather than for any national security consideration.

Others familiar with that section of the report say that while it might implicate Saudi Arabia, the suspicions, investigatory leads and other findings it contains did not withstand deeper scrutiny. Philip D. Zelikow, the executive director of the national commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks after the congressional panels, said the commission followed up on the allegations, using some of the same personnel who wrote them initially, but reached a different conclusion.

“Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of Al Qaeda funding, but we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization,” the commission said in its July 2004 report. It did note, however, the “likelihood that charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to Al Qaeda.”

Mr. Zelikow pointed to the more thorough investigation undertaken by the commission.

“Those involved in the preparation of the famous 28 pages joined the staff of the 9/11 Commission and participated in the follow-up investigation of all the leads that had been developed earlier,” he said Wednesday. “In doing so, they were aided by a larger team with more members, more powers and for the first time actually conducted interviews of relevant people both in this country and in Saudi Arabia.”

“And what we found is reflected in the commission report,” he said.

Demands for the release of the 28 pages began soon after the intelligence committees finished their work. In 2003, more than 40 senators called on Mr. Bush to order the material’s disclosure. He refused, saying “we won’t reveal sources and methods that will compromise our efforts to succeed” in fighting terrorism.

The Saudi government has also said it favored making the 28 pages public because that would make it easier to refute what it said were unfounded allegations. The embassy said Wednesday that it stood by that position

Representative Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican pushing for the release of Part 4, said the Moussaoui claims might give momentum to the declassification effort. He said he was approached Wednesday on the House floor by lawmakers inquiring how to view the 28 pages.

But there seemed to be little appetite for declassification among the Republican leaders of the intelligence panels. Senator Richard M. Burr, the North Carolina Republican who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was skeptical of the value of releasing the pages, calling them more of a historical document in a fight against terrorism that has shifted substantially since 2002.

“There may have been a level of participation by some Muslim country that is not commensurate with today,” he said.

Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said “the authority to declassify this document lies with President Obama.”

Advocates of releasing the document have been frustrated by Mr. Obama, noting that Democrats were much more aggressive in pushing for its disclosure when Mr. Bush was president.

Mr. Doyle and Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband, Ronald, was killed on Sept. 11 in the World Trade Center, say the president assured them during separate meetings with families of the victims of the attack that he saw no reason the document should be withheld.

Mr. Doyle said he encouraged Mr. Obama at a meeting in May 2011 with surviving family members to follow through on a pledge he made two years earlier to Ms. Breitweiser. “He said: ‘Bill, I know about the pages. I promise I am going to get them released,’ ” Mr. Doyle recounted.

The White House said it was responding to the calls to consider releasing the material.

“This administration, in response to a congressional request, last year asked the intelligence community to conduct a classification review of this material,” said Edward C. Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “We did so in keeping with the standard procedure for determining whether classified information can be publicly released without jeopardizing national security. That process is ongoing.”

Saudi Princes’ Deep Ties to the West:

Three of the Saudi princes accused by the Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui have strong diplomatic and business ties to the United States.

— Prince Bandar bin Sultan
was known as “the toast of Washington” who had an “aura of charming roguishness” when he served as Saudi ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. He is a nephew of King Salman and King Abdullah, who died last month. Prince Bandar, 65, had been close to President George Bush and his son, President George W. Bush, and helped deliver Saudi support for America’s crucial Middle East initiatives during three wars and the fight against terrorism.

He was the head of Saudi intelligence from 2012 until last April, and had been the architect of Riyadh’s plan to remove President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and lobbied against an interim nuclear accord with Iran.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, 69, is another of the king’s nephews. He replaced Prince Bandar as the Saudi ambassador in Washington in 2005 and served in that post for two years. He was the head of Saudi intelligence from 1977 until Aug. 31, 2001, and managed Riyadh’s relations with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban.

In an interview in 2005, he said the accusation contained in a lawsuit, later dismissed, that he provided support to Al Qaeda “was kind of a slap in the face.”

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, at 59 is a grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdulaziz, and is chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company and the wealthiest member of the royal family. (The rapper Busta Rhymes namechecks Prince Alwaleed in the 2008 song “Arab Money.”) He owns Rotana, the Arab world’s largest entertainment company, and holds significant investments in Citigroup, TimeWarner, Twitter and Apple, among other companies. He had a large stake in News Corporation until Tuesday, when his company sold $188 million worth of its shares, according to Financial Times.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Prince Alwaleed offered Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani $10 million for the Twin Towers Fund, but Mr. Giuliani rejected it after the prince criticized American policy in the Middle East.


Some of the Comments:
BOS 7 minutes ago

Tangential it may be, judging from the comments written about this thus far the former First Lady Barbara Bush is right when she said the…

12 minutes ago

President Obama should release these classified documents. Not only is it the right thing to do, it will guarantee that no Bush will ever…

13 minutes ago

Didn’t Saudis fly out of the country one day after 9/11 when all planes were grounded, and yet no outcries.



Posted on on January 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Blogger Who Uncovered GOP Leader’s White Supremacist Ties Had Home Internet Lines Cut.

By Aaron Sankin, The Daily Dot, 23 January 2015

Earlier this month, Lamar White, Jr. woke up to discover his Internet connection wasn’t working. He had just gotten a new cable box installed at his Dallas, Texas, home and figured his lines should still be in ship shape because it hadn’t been long since they were last checked.

Rather than just assume he had crappy Internet service, like you or I might, he thought his home computer system was on the receiving end of a denial of service attack. White, you see, is something of a major figure in the political media. And there are a good many people who may want revenge for the things he’s dug up.

Last month, the Louisiana native and current Southern Methodist University law student, set off a firestorm in Washington when a post on his personal blog revealed that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, was a featured speaker at a white nationalist conference put on by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.

While Scalise retained his leadership position after conservatives from around the country quickly circled the wagons, the story has generated headlines for nearly a month—even causing a new round of controversy when left-leaning news outlets started making a fuss over Scalise’s multiple votes against making Martin Luther King Day a federal holiday. Nevertheless, when the cable guy came a few days later, and the first thing he asked after looking at White’s Internet connection was, “Do you have any enemies?” White couldn’t help but be more than a little surprised.

“I don’t have any scorned ex-girlfriends,” White recalled saying with a laugh. “Everyone I know in Dallas seems to like me.”

“[The cable guy] said that whatever had happened to me was the result of someone invading my backyard and using a power tool to cut the line,” he recalled. “There’s no conceivable way this could have happened on its own or been done by an animal. It wasn’t just that they cut it, they also tugged at the line [after it was severed].”

White was naturally pretty freaked out. He has since upped both his physical and online security. He’s replaced the security equipment on his house, changed all his passwords, and enabled two-factor authentication on every online account he could.

“I don’t think it was anybody associated in Steve Scalise’s office,” White insisted, adding that he’s not the type of person who tends to lean toward conspiracy theories. “I respect the folks that have spoken out in his favor. I think he has a lot of explaining to do. But I absolutely, unequivocally, do not think that he is in any way connected.”

“This just shows you the nastiness of some of the people who are associated with the white nationalist movement,” he added.

Even so, the direct attack surprised him. While the Scalise scoop certainly brought a lot of attention, it didn’t come with a significant amount of hostility directed against him personally. Some conservatives have attempted to poke holes in his narrative, but the focus of nearly all opposition was primarily the story rather than White himself.

White knows the difference first-hand because it stood in contrast to another media flap in which White was recently at the center. In the midst of last year’s race for Texas governor, White attended a campaign rally in support of gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. Just prior to the event, an advertisement released by Davis raised eyebrows nationally for attacking how her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott, was being hypocritical for aggressively pushing tort reform after earning millions in a lawsuit when part of an oak tree fell on him, paralyzing him for life from the waist down. The ad was slammed as being insensitive to Abbott’s disability, and Davis responded with a event featuring a number of her disabled supporters—including White, who has cerebral palsy.

Some on the right blasted Davis for using White as a campaign “prop.” White naturally fired back with the line, “I am a human being, not a campaign prop,” which created another round of headlines.

He said that the criticism he received after that incident was far more vicious and personal in nature than what he experienced after publishing the Scalise story.

White first came to the story through a tip from a woman named Gilda Reed. A Democrat, Reed had lost a congressional election against Scalise in 2008. She had mentioned to White, who regularly does investigative journalism about Louisiana politics, about a connection between Scalise and David Duke.

Despite being the highest-profile Ku Klux Klan member in generations, Duke was a serious political force in Louisiana for many years. In 1991, he won 60 percent of the state’s white vote in an attempt to beat Edwin Edwards in the race for governor.

White started digging. He sat down at his computer and did a simple Google search for “David Duke Steve Scalise.” Within a few seconds, he came across a series of posts on the infamous white supremacist forum (slogan: “Every month is white history month”) indicating that Scalise had attended a conference put on by European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), a group founded by Duke to promote white civil rights, while Scalise was a Louisiana state legislator.

A post on Stormfront, which has since been removed but is still accessible via the Internet Archive’s invaluable Wayback Machine, noted that Scalise spoke to the group regarding the “gross mismanagement of tax revenue.”

In addition to plans to implement tactical strategies that were discussed, the meeting was productive locally as State Representative, Steve Scalise, discussed ways to oversee gross mismanagement of tax revenue or “slush funds” that have little or no accountability. Representative Scalise brought into sharp focus the dire circumstances pervasive in many important, under-funded needs of the community at the expense of graft within the Housing and Urban Development Fund, an apparent give-away to a selective group based on race.

A second post, which is still up on Stormfront’s site, noted:

It was just announced that Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson will enter the race in the 1st Congressional District. Those that attended the EURO conference in New Orleans will recall that Scalise was a speaker, offering his support for issues that are of concern to us. I suppose if Duke does not make the election for whatever reason, this gentleman would be a good alternative.

Scalise has admitted that he spoke to the group, but maintains that he was there to exclusively speak about economic issues and was unaware of the organization’s ties to the white supremacist movement. “I didn’t know who all of these groups were, and I detest any kind of hate group,” the lawmaker told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous.”

The tie between Scalise and EURO was there for anyone to find. White just happened to be the first person to Google precisely the right thing at precisely the right time. Of course, the axe swings both ways—the Internet is likely the tool whoever cut his cable used to discovered where White lives.

“It might not be the Klan or the white nationalists, it could just be a random person who found my address and didn’t like what I was posting,” he said. “I understand my address is public record. If someone wants to find where you live, they can find where you live, no matter who you are. I’m really not intimidated by that.



+12 # Billy Bob 2015-01-23 11:57
As someone who lived too long in Dallas, all I can say for it is that it’s a dirty city with a degree of corruption I don’t think you can match anywhere outside of hell.


” ‘I understand my address is public record. If someone wants to find where you live, they can find where you live, no matter who you are. I’m really not intimidated by that.’ “

-Well, White’s a hell of a lot braver than I am. I AM intimidated by that. I DO have scorned ex-girlfriends I’d like to keep in my past. I DO have children I’d like to protect from psychopaths. I DO fear for my “security” in a world where everyone seems to know personal information about everybody.

Your address and phone number were always, traditionally, public record, but I question the wisdom of that, in this day and age. In the past, there were never so many tools that could be used to destroy your life, simply through access to public information. I see no real reason why we shouldn’t be allowed at least some privacy, EVEN about our address and phone number.


Sorry, but one more thought:

If everyone can find everyone’s phone number and address, what’s stopping all of us from just dropping in Billy Joel? I’m just picking on him because I’d like to meet him, so, what’s stopping me? Could we all just decide to pay a visit to Bill O’Reilly?

My guess is, um, NO.

My guess is that there IS a way for someone famous to stay private. Am I wrong? If not, what is it? I’d like some privacy, please.


+2 # Banichi 2015-01-23 13:26
I once thought to find the addresses of a few of the justices of the SCOTUS, to send them a letter discussing the impact of Citizens United. I thought they might not be paying attention to the oaths they swore to ‘defend and protect’ the Constitution. But not surprisingly, such information is not easily available, not to ordinary citizens anyway. I admit I did not try too hard, since we are all watched over by too many government agencies and I don’t need to know that badly.

So yes, privacy does have a price…but if you are important enough, who can discover your information is a pretty small group, apparently.



Posted on on January 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Thw Washington Post Politics: U.S. mayors to file legal brief in support of Obama’s immigration executive actions.

By David Nakamura January 23, 2015

A group of big-city mayors led by New York’s Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles’s Eric Garcetti announced plans Friday to file a legal brief supporting President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which are being challenged in federal court by 25 states. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is among those who signed onto the brief.

The brief will argue that “the public interest across the country is served clearly and overwhelmingly by implementing immigration reform by executive action,” the mayors said in a statement. They made the announcement at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which is taking place in Washington.

“Delaying implementation of the President’s executive action will further hurt our families, negatively impact our economies, and create unnecessary insecurity in our communities,” de Blasio said in a statement.

Obama announced in November that he would use his executive powers to protect as many as 4 million illegal immigrants from deportation and make other changes to border control policies designed to focus federal resources on violent and repeat criminals. The president said he acted after Congress failed to approve a comprehensive immigration reform bill last summer.

But Republicans have challenged the actions, calling them unconstitutional. The lawsuit from 25 states, led by Texas, argues that the “unilateral suspension of the Nation’s immigration laws is unlawful.”

The mayors of Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Denver and San Francisco also joined the brief in support of Obama’s actions. So far 28 mayors in all have signed on.

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


The Post Recommends: US loosens embargo on Cuba, making trade and travel easier.

The Obama administration says new rules to significantly loosen the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and open up the communist island to greater American travel will go into effect Friday.


Posted on on November 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

As GOP Swept Congress, Black Republicans Took Home Historic Wins.
reported by Hansi Lo Wang for CodeSwitch blog of – November 08, 2014

The Republican Party made historic gains during this week’s midterm elections. Among their victories were three wins by black Republicans, who seem to be building momentum for diversifying the GOP ranks.

Mia Love — who is Mormon and Haitian-American — is one of those three, and Republicans in Utah’s 4th District will be sending her to Congress next year.

“Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black, Republican, LDS woman to Congress,” Love told a crowd on Tuesday. “And guess what? Not only did we do it, we were the first to do it!”

Another big winner was Tim Scott, who was appointed to the Senate in 2012, but won a full term in his own right on Tuesday. He’s now South Carolina’s first elected black senator, and the South’s first since Reconstruction.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. greets supporters after winning his Senate race over challengers Jill Bossi and Joyce Dickerson on Tuesday.

Texas also celebrated a historic win in Will Hurd, a former CIA officer who is the first black Republican from Texas ever to win a U.S. Congressional seat.

“It’s a start,” says Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “And yeah, I want more. You know, I want to get to the point where it’s not notable.”

Steele, the first black chairman of the RNC, is notable himself. He says these rising stars will follow the lead of former representatives Allen West and J.C. Watts, who, like other black Republicans, faced suspicion from many black voters.

“You still have to deal with the stereotype that somehow if you’re a black Republican, you’re not a real black person,” he says.

But Steele adds there are also legitimate questions about his party’s commitment to racial diversity.

“White folks get excited when they see, ‘Oh, got a black candidate running for office!’ ” he says. “OK, that’s great. But what are you doing to get them elected? It’s not just enough to have the face on the ballot.”
With his outspoken conservative views, Dr. Ben Carson is a hit among Republicans. He spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week.
Code Switch
Black GOP Stars Rise In A Party That’s Still Awkwardly White

Amy Holmes, a former speech writer for Republican Sen. Bill Frist and an anchor on the, says this newly-elected group represents an important part of the post-Obama era of politics.

“I think President Obama’s election in 2008 inspired a lot of African-American politicians, including on the right,” Holmes says.

Holmes points out these candidates also succeeded in places where black voters did not make up the majority.

“The old conventional wisdom has been that an African-American politician has to run from a majority African-American district,” she says. “Well, these three candidates prove that’s not true.”
Barry Goldwater greets an Indianapolis crowd during a campaign tour in Oct. 1964.

Why Did Black Voters Flee The Republican Party In The 1960s?

But the relationship between the GOP and black voters has to change as U.S. racial demographics continue to shift, according to Lenny McAllister, a former Republican candidate for Congress and the host of The McAllister Minute on the American Urban Radio Network.

Early exit polls show almost 90 percent of black voters supported Democrats on Tuesday, and McAllister says that allegiance to the Democratic Party diminishes black political power.

“We cannot continue to only access half of the political process,” McAllister says. “We need Republicans and Democrats being actively and efficiently responsive to our needs.”
Darius Foster says he wants to challenge racial and political expectations. “With me, unfortunately, everything is black Republican. Not Darius did this, but the black Republican did that.” Politics Alabama’s Darius Foster Wants To Bring Back ‘Fight For The People’ GOP

McAllister admits it will take more than these three winners for Republicans to earn the trust of black voters. But he says we shouldn’t forget how a young senator from Illinois beat the odds to become America’s first black president.

“The impossible happens in America, and if we’re going to open up the doors to what’s possible for more Americans, we have to take on this fight now,” he says.


Posted on on October 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

We received the following and are posting it as we are open to any exchange of ideas – specially when the subject is theories.
This one is surprising as it lambasts the Russian semi-god Lomonosov and comes out backing his Western opponents that in general
used to be lambasted by the Soviets that credited all science to Lomonosov.

We wonder if this Houston new line is another Koch/Singer sponsored pseudo-science outlet – but as said – we will let true non-political modern scientists decide which theory has a backing from fossil material that comes with the oil. Truly amazing is that the use of the word MODERN in this mailing refers to the USSR and originates from a Houston padded with Republicans.

Please let me suggest that whatever the merits of these papers regarding exhaustability of petroleum – and note how the paper distinguishes between the origins of petroleum and natural gas, all this is totally irrelevant to the Climate Change//Global Warming debate and the issue that this calamity in MAN MADE because of MAN’S USE OF PETROLEUM AND NATURAL GAS thus increase the CO2 content in the atmosphere. So – really what is here the beef?

LAST OF OUR COMMENTS – Are we seeing here hope for new Russian-Ukrainian understanding?


An introduction to the modern petroleum science, and to the Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins.

J. F. Kenney

Russian Academy of Sciences – Joint Institute of The Physics of the Earth.

Gas Resources Corporation, 11811 North Freeway, Houston, TX 77060, U.S.A.

The following articles take up, from different perspectives, the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins. Because that subject is one of which most persons outside the former U.S.S.R. are not familiar, a short synopsis of it and of its provenance and history, are given now.

1. The essence of the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins.

The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is an extensive body of scientific knowledge which covers the subjects of the chemical genesis of the hydrocarbon molecules which comprise natural petroleum, the physical processes which occasion their terrestrial concentration, the dynamical processes of the movement of that material into geological reservoirs of petroleum, and the location and economic production of petroleum. The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins recognizes that petroleum is a primordial material of deep origin which has been erupted into the crust of the Earth. In short, and bluntly, petroleum is not a “fossil fuel” and has no intrinsic connection with dead dinosaurs (or any other biological detritus) “in the sediments” (or anywhere else).

The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of petroleum is based upon rigorous scientific reasoning, consistent with the laws of physics and chemistry, as well as upon extensive geological observation, and rests squarely in the mainstream of modern physics and chemistry, from which it draws its provenance. Much of the modern Russian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum genesis developed from the sciences of chemistry and thermodynamics, and accordingly the modern theory has steadfastly held as a central tenet that the generation of hydrocarbons must conform to the general laws of chemical thermodynamics, – as must likewise all matter. In such respect, modern Russian-Ukrainian petroleum science contrasts strongly to what are too often passed off as “theories” in the field of geology in Britain and the U.S.A.

As will be shown explicitly in a following articles, petroleum has no intrinsic association with biological material. The only hydrocarbon molecules which are exceptions to this point are methane, the hydrocarbon alkane specie of lowest chemical potential of all hydrocarbons, and to a lesser extent, ethene, the alkene of the lowest chemical potential of its homologous molecular series. Only methane is thermodynamically stable in the pressure and temperature regime of the near-surface crust of the Earth and accordingly can be generated there spontaneously, as is indeed observed for phenomena such as swamp gas or sewer gas. However, methane is practically the sole hydrocarbon molecule possessing such thermodynamic characteristic in that thermodynamic regime; almost all other reduced hydrocarbon molecules excepting only the lightest ones, are high pressure polymorphs of the hydrogen-carbon system. Spontaneous genesis of the heavier hydrocarbons which comprise natural petroleum occurs only in multi-kilobar regimes of high pressures, as is shown in a following article.

2. The historical beginnings of petroleum science, – with a touch of irony.

The history of petroleum science might be considered to have begun in the year 1757 when the great Russian scholar Mikhailo V. Lomonosov enunciated the hypothesis that oil might originate from biological detritus. Applying the rudimentary powers of observation and the necessarily limited analytical skills available in his time, Lomonosov hypothesized that “… ‘rock oil’ [crude oil, or petroleum] originated as the minute bodies of dead marine and other animals which were buried in the sediments and which, over the passage of a great duration of time under the influence of heat and pressure, transformed into ‘rock oil’.” Such was the descriptive science practiced in the eighteenth century by Lomonosov and Linnaeus.

The scientists who first rejected Lomonsov’s hypothesis, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, were the famous German naturalist and geologist Alexander von Humboldt and the French chemist and thermodynamicist Louis Joseph Gay-Lussac who together enunciated the proposition that oil is a primordial material erupted from great depth, and is unconnected with any biological matter near the surface of the Earth.

Thus both ideas were delivered with powerful pedigrees: the wrong biological notion having been put forward by the greatest Russian scientist of his time; and the abiotic proposition approximately a half century later by, respectively, two of the greatest German and French scientists.

Historically, the first scientific repudiation Lomonosov’s hypothesis of a biological origin of petroleum came from chemists and thermodynamicists. With the nascent development of chemistry during the nineteenth century, and following particularly the enunciation of the second law of thermodynamics by Clausius in 1850, Lomonosov’s biological hypothesis came inevitably under attack.

The great French chemist Marcellin Berthelot particularly scorned the hypothesis of a biological origin for petroleum. Berthelot first carried out experiments involving, among others, a series of what are now referred to as Kolbe reactions and demonstrated the generation of petroleum by dissolving steel in strong acid. He produced the suite of n-alkanes and made it plain that such were generated in total absence of any “biological” molecule or process. Berthelot’s investigations were later extended and refined by other scientists, including Biasson and Sokolov, all of whom observed similar phenomena and likewise concluded that petroleum was unconnected to biological matter.

During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the great Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev also examined and rejected Lomonosov’s hypothesis of a biological origin for petroleum. In contrast to Berthelot who had made no suggestion as to where or how petroleum might have come, Mendeleev stated clearly that petroleum is a primordial material which has erupted from great depth. With extraordinary perception, Mendeleev hypothesized the existence of geological structures which he called “deep faults,” and correctly identified such as the locus of weakness in the crust of the Earth via which petroleum would travel from the depths. After he made that hypothesis, Mendeleev was abusively criticized by the geologists of his time, for the notion of deep faults was then unknown. Today, of course, an understanding of plate tectonics would be unimaginable without recognition of deep faults.

3. The enunciation and development of modern petroleum science.

The impetus for development of modern petroleum science came shortly after the end of World War II, and was impelled by recognition by the government of the (then) U.S.S.R. of the crucial necessity of petroleum in modern warfare. In 1947, the U.S.S.R. had (as its petroleum “experts” then estimated) very limited petroleum reserves, of which the largest were the oil fields in the region of the Abseron peninsula, near the Caspian city Baku in the present country of Azerbaijan. At that time, the oil fields near Baku were considered to be “depleting” and “nearing exhaustion.” During World War II, the Soviets had occupied the two northern provinces of Iran; in 1946, the British government had forced them out. By 1947, the Soviets realized that the American, British, and French were not going to allow them to operate in the middle east, nor in the petroleum producing areas of Africa, nor Indonesia, nor Burma, nor Malaysia, nor anywhere in the far east, nor in Latin America. The government of the Soviet Union recognized then that new petroleum reserves would have to be discovered and developed within the U.S.S.R.

The government of the Soviet Union initiated a “Manhattan Project” type program, which was given the highest priority to study every aspect of petroleum, to determine its origins and how petroleum reserves are generated, and to ascertain what might be the most effective strategies for petroleum exploration. At that time, Russia benefited from the excellent educational system which had been introduced after the 1917 revolution. The Russian petroleum community had then almost two generations of highly educated, scientifically competent men and women, ready to take up the problem of petroleum origins. Modern Russian petroleum science followed within five years.

In 1951, the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins was first enunciated by Nikolai A. Kudryavtsev at the All-Union petroleum geology congress. Kudryavtsev analyzed the hypothesis of a biological origin of petroleum, and pointed out the failures of the claims then commonly put forth to support that hypothesis.
Kudryavtsev was soon joined by numerous other Russian and Ukrainian geologists, among the first of whom were P. N. Kropotkin, K. A. Shakhvarstova, G. N. Dolenko, V. F. Linetskii, V. B. Porfir’yev, and K. A. Anikiev.

During the first decade of its existence, the modern theory of petroleum origins was the subject of great contention and controversy. Between the years 1951 and 1965, with the leadership of Kudryavtsev and Porfir’yev, increasing numbers of geologists published articles demonstrating the failures and inconsistencies inherent in the old “biogenic origin” hypothesis. With the passing of the first decade of the modern theory, the failure of the previous, eighteenth century hypothesis of an origin of petroleum from biological detritus in the near-surface sediments had been thoroughly demonstrated, the hypothesis of Lomonosov discredited, and the modern theory firmly established.

An important point to be recognized is that the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abiotic petroleum origins was, initially, a geologists’ theory. Kudryavtsev, Kropotkin, Dolenko, Porfir’yev and the developers of the modern theory of petroleum were all geologists. Their arguments were necessarily those of geologists, developed from many observations, and much data, organized into a pattern, and argued by persuasion.

By contrast, the practice of mainstream, predictive modern science, particularly physics and chemistry, involves a minimum of observation or data, and applies only a minimum of physical law, inevitably expressed with formal mathematics, and argues by compulsion. Such predictive proof of the geologists assertions for the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins had to wait almost a half century, for such required the development not only of modern quantum statistical mechanics but also that of the techniques of many-body theory and the application of statistical geometry to the analysis of dense fluids, designated scaled particle theory.

3. The organization of these papers.

The papers collected on the following public-access pages of this web site are organized into several categories and sub-categories: The principle categories are the Scientific Publications; the Economic Publications; and the Political and Sociological Essays. The organization of the following papers does not follow the historical development of the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins but instead orders them according to the different aspects of modern petroleum science. A number of these papers were delivered at the International Conference on the Production of Petroleum from the Crystalline Basement, held in Kazan, Russia, June 2001, in celebration of the half-century commemoration of the enunciation of that theory by Nikolai Kudryavtsev.

3.1. The scientific and technical papers.

The Scientific Publications are further divided into two sets of articles dealing, first, with the rigorous scientific foundations upon which rests the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins, and, second, with applications of modern petroleum science to petroleum exploration and production.

In the first subsection are several published articles concerned directly with the statistical thermodynamics of the evolution of the hydrocarbon molecules and the origins of petroleum. The first paper in this section reviews the constraints of irreversibility upon the evolution of the hydrogen-carbon [H-C] system as determined by the second law of thermodynamics. In this article, the formalism of modern thermodynamics is applied freely, and the prohibition of spontaneous genesis of hydrocarbons heavier than methane in the regimes of temperature and pressure of the near-surface crust of the Earth is easily noted. A following paper reviews, and refutes, the claims for “evidence”[sic] for a biological origin of petroleum (commonly asserted in typical British and American textbooks on petroleum geology), – e.g., the “biomarkers,” the observation of optical activity, the slight differences in the abundances of linear molecules with odd (or even) numbers of carbon atoms, the presence of porphyrins, etc. The claims for each (as evidence of a biotic connection for petroleum) are refuted, with unchallenged evidence published in first-rank scientific journals often as long as thirty or forty years ago. The continued, egregious claims of such as “evidence” of a biological origin of petroleum are acknowledged to be fraudulent. A recent paper describes very recent analysis of the thermodynamic stability of the hydrogen-carbon system in circumstances most favorable to the evolution of hydrocarbons, and shows that the hydrocarbons which comprise natural petroleum cannot evolve spontaneously at pressures less than approximately 30 kbar, which pressures correspond to the depths of the mantle of the Earth. In the second instance, this paper describes experimental demonstration of the foregoing theoretical predictions, whereby laboratory-pure solid marble (CaCO3), iron oxide (FeO), wet with triple-distilled water, are subjected to pressures up to 50 kbar and temperatures to 2000 C. With no contribution of either hydrocarbons or biological detritus, the CaCO3-FeO-H2O system spontaneously generates, at the high pressures predicted theoretically, the suite of hydrocarbons characteristic of natural petroleum.

3.2 The economic publications.

The second main group of papers deals with the important issues connected with the economic consequences of modern Russian petroleum science. In these papers are reviewed both some of the pseudo-economic fables (e.g., “the human race is going to run out of natural petroleum”) which have been traditionally connected with the error that petroleum is some sort of “fossil fuel,” for reason (supposedly) of having evolved from biological detritus, – albeit in violation of the laws of chemical thermodynamics.

3.3 The political and sociological essays.

The third main group of papers deals with diverse sociological and political aspects which have involved the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins, and which have too often obstructed persons, and governments, in the U.S.A. from learning it. In this section, are examples of some of the published efforts to misrepresent modern Russian petroleum science.

The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is extraordinary in almost every way, including the bizarre circumstance that it has been the object of probably the most daring attempt of plagiarism in modern science. The attempted plagiarism of modern Russian petroleum science is reviewed also in this section.

reference: – specifically



Posted on on October 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


“The greatest threat to public confidence in elections . . . is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” Ginsburg wrote.

She said a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit had shirked its duty, since Ramos had agreed with the challengers that the law could keep an estimated 600,000 registered voters from casting ballots. Texas disputes the finding.

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who had challenged the law, called the order a “major step backward.”

“It is true we are close to an election, but the outcome here that would be least confusing to voters is the one that allowed the most people to vote lawfully,” Holder said in a statement.

Officials in Texas said they were pleased by the court’s decision.

“The state will continue to defend the voter ID law and remains confident that the district court’s misguided ruling will be overturned on the merits,” said a statement from Lauren Bean, deputy communications director for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is also the Republican candidate for governor. “The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws are a legal and sensible way to protect the integrity of elections.”

The Texas law, called SB 14, requires the state’s estimated 13.6 million registered voters to show one of seven kinds of photo identification to cast a ballot.

The state says the law will guard against voter fraud and protect public confidence in elections. But civil rights groups and the Justice Department said the state’s decisions about what kinds of identification will suffice — permits to carry concealed handguns qualify, for instance, while college IDs do not — are meant to suppress certain types of voters.

The Supreme Court’s unsigned order did not address the merits of the law, nor did it supply reasoning for the decision to allow it to be enforced.

The court has been called upon to make emergency decisions about laws in four states, including Texas, in recent weeks, and in each case has decided against intervening in a state’s plan for conducting elections so close to the start of voting.

In the Texas case, it was impossible to discern how each justice voted, although Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a stern dissent, which was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The Supreme Court’s order that Texas can proceed with its strict voter-ID law in next month’s election ended what is likely to be just the first round in a legal battle over election-law changes made by Republican-led legislatures around the country.

In an order released just after 5 a.m. Saturday, the court said Texas could use a photo-ID law that has been described as the toughest in the nation. A district judge had declared after hearing testimony about the law that it was unconstitutional, and would keep hundreds of thousands of voters from casting ballots and disproportionately harm African Americans and Hispanics.

OUR OPINION: We link the above to the information that the prospective new immigrant from Liberia who came to Texas on a tourist visa with the intent to marry the mother of his son – legal residents in Texas and US citizens – was not treated when he came with fever to the hospital emergency room.

We feel – admittedly without evidence in hand – that his rejection was part of the attitude in Texas towards the Mex-Tex (Texans of Mexican origin) and the people of color in general – the categories that the Texas State Government is trying to disenfranchise. NOW WE HAVE THE EBOLA SCARE AFTER HE SPENT DAYS UNSUPERVISED AND ALL PEOPLE OF TEXAS AND THE NATION WERE PUT IN CLEAR DANGER.


Posted on on May 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Buying Insurance Against Climate Change.




The Alliance of Small Island States has been arguing for an international approach to dealing with losses from climate change. Here, Tarawa in Kiribati, an alliance member battling rising sea levels.       Credit Kadir Van Lohuizen/NOOR



He writes here:


The third National Climate Assessment report — released on May 6 by the White House, and representing the work of more than 240 scientists — warns us about our hazardous future and offers many good ideas for dealing with it. But a most important point may be lost in the crowd.

After discussing how to mitigate the coming dangers, the report says, “Commercially available mechanisms such as insurance can also play a role in providing protection against losses due to climate change.” That sentence should have been in big, bold letters and underlined.

{PJ – editor of SustainabiliTank}   

That’s because of the substantial risk that efforts to stop global warming will fail. The implications are staggering, and we must encourage private innovation and government support to insure against the devastating financial losses that will result.

The problem is an age-old one: Each country has a strong individual incentive to take a free ride on the rest of the world — to find self-serving or nationalistic justifications for adding carbon dioxide and other pollutants to the global air supply. Such behavior, which in some ways might benefit the individual country while hurting everyone else, is known in economics as an externality problem, and the world has never solved one of this magnitude. We must face facts: There is a real risk of new kinds of climate-related disaster.E BLAMED 


In his latest book, “The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty and Economics for a Warming World” (Yale University Press), my Yale colleague William D. Nordhaus describes the uncertainty of global warming’s specific effects around the world. We are taking major gambles with our environment, he says. Expect surprises.

In March, a United Nations report identified with “high confidence” a number of risks that will be visited on different people unequally. It spoke of the “risk of death, injury, ill health or disrupted livelihoods” in low-lying coastal zones and on small islands — and that is just the start. Food systems may break down. There may not be enough water for drinking and irrigation. Ecosystems may be shattered.

In short, we need to worry about the potential for greater-than-expected disasters, especially those that concentrate their fury on specific places or circumstances, many of which we cannot now predict.

That’s why global warming needs to be addressed by the private institutions of risk management, such as insurance and securitization. They have deep experience in smoothing out disasters’ effects by sharing them among large numbers of people. The people or entities that are hit hardest are helped by those less badly damaged.


But these institutions need ways to deal with such grand-scale issues. Governments should recognize that by giving these businesses a profit incentive to prepare for these unevenly distributed disasters. After all, fire insurance does no good unless you buy it before the house burns down. And you have to diversify your portfolio before the stock market crashes.

Fortunately, we aren’t too late to take action to insure against some climate risks. And yet this has not been a major element in most of the climate debate.

We already have weather derivatives that can help, like the 50 contracts in 13 countries offered by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. A ski resort can already buy protection against inadequate snowfall and a city can buy protection against too much snowfall next winter by, in effect, taking the opposite side of the same futures contract (through the exchange), thereby pooling their opposite risks.


There are also catastrophe bonds, like the three-year, $1.5 billion Everglades Re Ltd. issue sponsored this month by the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. It would provide relief to the insurer of Floridians hit by a bad hurricane; in such an event, the bond holders would bear losses.

But there is a problem with instruments like these: They tend to focus on relatively short-term risks, and don’t hedge against the increasing cost of disasters over distant future years. Yet if the problems of global warming become more serious, they will very likely be long-lasting, raising some complex, tough-to-quantify issues. Some kinds of crises, like hurricanes, may remain intermittent, but their tendency toward severity may build in a slow, hard-to-predict process and in complex geographical patterns.


Psychologically, it’s hard for most of us to take the initiative on long-term, ill-defined risks. Three scholars — Howard C. Kunreuther and Mark V. Pauly of the University of Pennsylvania and Stacey McMorrow of the Urban Institute — show this in their book, “Insurance and Behavioral Economics: Improving Decisions in the Most Misunderstood Industry” (Cambridge University Press). But they argue that if we’re aware of them, these psychological impediments can be reduced, and they urge the innovation of long-term risk management contracts that address the problem of climate change.

Some progress is being made: The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility is one recent example of institutional sharing of climate risks. Then there is the Alliance of Small Island States, formed in 1990 as a response to climate change. The group represents 5 percent of the world’s population, and its island members are scattered around the globe. But if sea levels rise substantially, all of them will be affected. These countries generally aren’t big enough to have a heartland that can help coastal dwellers in a climate catastrophe. The alliance has been arguing for an international approach to dealing with such loss and damage.

These are only beginnings. We have a crucial need to bring innovation to our risk-management institutions. We need to make them flexible, to clarify their long-term international legal status, to develop mechanisms and indexes that can be the basis of long-term risk management contracts and to educate the public about them. Most important, we need concrete action now to build a mechanism that will provide real help for the victims of climate-change disasters.



ROBERT J. SHILLER is Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale.

A version of this article appears in print on May 25, 2014, on page BU6 of the New York edition with the headline: Buying Insurance Against Climate Change



Some  Comments:



I too, think this article misses the point. What is going to happen is that insurance companies will simply STOP insuring industries and…


Tom Stoltz

Change can be bad, but change can be good. Dr. Shiller (like most) focus on the down side of a warmer climate, “The people … that are hit…




The costs should be put on the corporate masters & their politician toadies who have been denying climate change for decades. Once…



Posted on on May 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

A Solar-backed Currency for the Refugees of Western Sahara.

By Mel Chin | Creative Time | April 30, 2014…

View of Smara, one of the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun.

The HSBC ads at Newark International Airport could not have been more appropriate for my trek to the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. As I ambled through the jet bridge with my carry-on, color-coordinated images of demure North African women met my eyes, accompanied by some facts assembled by the bank—”0.3% of Saharan solar energy could power Europe”—and a self-aggrandizing but, for me, prescient message: “Do you see a world of potential? We do.”

It was the fall of 2011, and I was on a string of flights from North Carolina to Algeria to participate in an ARTifariti convening of international artists presenting human rights–related projects at the Algerian camps and in Western Sahara. During previous gatherings, a New York–based art critic had presented a slide show to international artists and Sahrawi refugees, sharing pieces by activist artists and filmmakers such as Ai Weiwei and Spike Lee. The get-togethers offered a forum to consider artists who might do a project in the camps.

And in the end, the refugees had chosen a Chinese Texan who had spearheaded Operation Paydirt’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project, an artwork that prompted Americans to draw their own versions of $100 bills (in order to raise awareness of and prevent childhood lead poisoning). Essentially they said, “Bring us the guy with the money.” So I packed my bags and left for the western lands of North Africa.

Mel Chin

Operation Paydirt’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project in St. Roch, New Orleans. CREDIT: Amanda Wiles, 2009.

At an unknown hour on a starless night, I arrived in the 27 February Camp—one of Algeria’s five Sahrawi refugee camps (named after the date in 1976 on which the Polisario Front declared the birth of the Sahrawi Democratic Arab Republic)—and was led to the home of our host, Abderrahman. As we entered his compound, the seasoned warrior, dressed in a blue darrâa, emerged from a UN tent, unfurled a carpet over the sand, ignited charcoal and began to prepare the customary tea for us. We attempted to translate from Hassaniya Arabic to Spanish to English over tea, getting a taste of enthusiastic nomad hospitality.

That night I heard firsthand the history of the Sahrawi people, who today are divided between Algerian refugee camps and a sliver of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara that they call the “liberated territories.” For nearly four decades, warfare and political powers have trapped more than 150,000 Sahrawis in the camps and separated them from their family members in the liberated territories, which are bounded by the Moroccan wall to the west and Algeria’s border to the east.

When Morocco and Mauritania invaded Western Sahara in 1975 (Mauritania withdrew in 1979), they split up the land and seized the Sahrawis’ natural resources—water, rich fishing grounds and the world’s largest phosphate mine. Now, inhabiting either the arid, landlocked region of Western Sahara or the bare-bones camps of Algeria, the Sahrawi people depend entirely on international humanitarian aid for food, water and medicine. And while Western Sahara has none of the lead-poisoning problems of postindustrial America, its liberated territories have more landmines than any other place on the planet.

Mel Chin

In the tent of Abderrahman and his family. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

In the morning I awoke from this harrowing chronicle in a land of sand and rock that was brutally burnished by the sun—and I can guarantee that there was no bank in sight. I soon learned why the Sahrawi people were so interested in the Fundred Dollar Bill project: they have no currency of their own and deal mostly with Algerian dinars. In response, we created a background template for their currency, printed thousands of blank bills and distributed them through the camps, announcing a design opportunity. After we curated their drawings, the Sahrawis would vote on the designs for what might become their first currency.

The denominations for the currency, called “sollars,” were 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Children and teens drew the 5s and 10s; young adults, the 20s; and of course, the elders, the 100s. But the designs for the 50s would have two adult versions, one male and one female. The survivalist family culture that has emerged from the hostile desert climate has enforced a long-standing code of equality between the sexes. In a region where food is scarce and hot summer temperatures and freezing desert nights can kill, whoever survives the elements must be allowed equal rights in the tribe to barter and represent the family, regardless of religious dictates.

Mel Chin

The children’s school at the 27 February Camp. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

While I was in the camps, I came to understand that the symbolic and therapeutic benefits of designing the first Sahrawi currency with the refugees were not worthy enough goals. The Sahrawi people need a real economy. And to make that happen, the fictional currency I helped the refugees design had to be backed by something real and exchangeable on international markets.

As I mulled over the problem under the blazing sun, I realized that the desert holds the potential to bring Sahrawis economic and political independence—and the leverage necessary to help us all combat climate change.

What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun. The first solar energy–backed currency in the world could bring the Sahrawi people an independent economy and offer a major breakthrough in an environmental quagmire. We would create a new model of banking and currency, free from the dominance of gold and oil, for first-world countries to follow.

And this model would be delivered by the Sahrawi people, who have been waiting for freedom and self-determination for 39 years! By achieving worldwide renown for freeing people from hydrocarbon dependency, the Sahrawi could then barter with the global community for another form of independence: their right to self-determination.

Mel Chin Bank of the Sun Western SaharaFreedom is the concept propelling my action with the Sahrawi people. The sun on this poster for the Bank of the Sun is composed of the Arabic word for “freedom,” repeated 38 times—once for every year the Sahrawis have waited for the right to self-determination (as of last year). CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2013.

I admit that it was a pretty far-out and grand idea, but I suppose I did see a world of potential in Saharan solar energy, just like the jetway HSBC ad said. I was thinking like a bank.

After getting back from the Tindouf camps, I found myself in Texas, accepting a national award for my efforts in public art and, most likely, boring everyone with crazy talk about a Bank of the Sun in landmine-laced Western Sahara. My friends were more concerned about my diminishing sense of self-preservation than about anything I said—especially after I told them that my trip to Tifariti had been interrupted by the armed kidnapping of three foreign-aid workers from a neighboring refugee camp. They didn’t even entertain my ideas with any questions about how the bank idea could be pulled off.

As with most such gatherings, there was not much left to do after the award ceremony but drink and dance. So, with friends in tow, we honky-tonked through San Antonio, taking over a bar by the River Walk and proceeding to do what had to be done. While taking a break from the floor, I noticed a man about my age sitting at a table with a beer, tapping his feet to the bluesy beat. I had my posse pull him onto the floor. He began to move in a calculated way, like an engineer. Intrigued, I joined him and the party on the floor.

Over the din, I shouted, “What do you do?”

He shouted back, “I’m an engineer.”

“Really?” I asked. “What kind?”

“A solar engineer.”

I challenged Texas style: “So, ever heard of Western Sahara?”

Matter-of-factly he replied, “Yes, we designed a power station for the refugee camps there.”

For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds; the bodies in frantic motion seemed to stand still. I urged him off the dance floor. He told me, in an Australian accent, that he was Dr. Richard Corkish, head of photovoltaic engineering at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Not only that—his colleague had just been in the same refugee camps I had visited, advising on how to power a women’s clinic. It was a profound coincidence, to say the least. We closed the bar, and I left clutching Dr. Corkish’s business card.

For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds.

Since our night on the floor, Dr. Corkish has been an adviser to the Bank of the Sun, which is on its way to becoming a reality. He has assigned students the project as part of his curriculum and counseled us on the design of a modular, pragmatic stand-alone solar power plant in Western Sahara, as well as a cost-effective method for transmitting power. Following Corkish’s methodologies, we could generate more than enough energy for Sahrawi needs, creating a surplus to sell to neighboring countries or even to Europe. By working in the Western Sahara to retool our approach to energy, we would prove that the most advanced methods of solar-power storage and delivery are feasible even in a place with no infrastructure. The most appropriate technology for us all could be built from the sand up.

In February 2013 I discussed the project with Ahmad Bukhari, the Polisario representative to the United Nations, and later with Mohamed Yeslem Beisat, the ambassador to the United States for the Western Saharan people. Skeptical at first, they have both become advisers and creative collaborators.

To make the first Bank of the Sun a reality, we have to find a place where electricity can be generated that is both safe from armed conflict and close enough to someone interested in buying energy. Bukhari suggested placing the stand-alone solar power plant not in the camps but in Mijek, a nomadic outpost in the liberated territories. Mijek continues to be the most likely site because the energy could be sold to Zouérat, a town in northern Mauritania where an iron ore mine needs more power than is available. The Mauritanian ambassador recently confirmed that the country would buy any energy offered. I have started to seek funds for a fact-finding trek, during which I will finally step on the sands of Western Sahara.

Mel Chin

The site and plans for the potential Bank of the Sun. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2013.

During my time in the Sahrawi refugee camps, I relearned a lesson I picked up in the flood-wracked and environmentally poisoned parts of New Orleans: you are not inspired by tragedy or human suffering—you are compelled.

My brilliant translator, a young man named Mohamed Sulaiman Labat, was born in the camps and has never traveled beyond his host country, Algeria, or the shameful wall of sand and explosives erected by Morocco in Western Sahara. Sulaiman is majestic in his capacity for optimism and his aptitude for imagining alternative futures based on ideas we discussed during my stay. On our last night together, he spoke with me about staring each night into the vast sky above the camps. He then asked, “No disrespect, but why is it so easy for an artist to see our need for justice when the rest of the world can’t?”

A question like that makes you think about what could be and about how our humanity is challenged if we don’t take action to amplify his question—and to force an answer.


This piece from Creative Time Reports is republished without trying to track down permission. Climate Reports is made possible by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. This series is produced in conjunction with the 2013 Marfa Dialogues/NY organized by Ballroom Marfa, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and the Public Concern Foundation. We hope that the authors will not mind our trying to publicize their very sound dream for a mos reasonable future. The only question is if the world will be enlightened enough to see that the true realists are the dreamers of today.



Posted on on May 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods.

Declaring that the issue of human-induced climate change had “moved firmly into the present,” a major study released by the White House  found that water shortages, torrential rains, heat waves and wildfires were worsening.




Climate Change- And President Obama’s Action Plan.

President Obama has announced a series of executive actions to reduce carbon pollution, prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address global climate change.

The National Climate Assessment:

Watch Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science & Technology, discuss the Report. 

On May 6, the Administration released the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment, the most authoritative and comprehensive source of scientific information to date about climate-change impacts across all U.S. regions and on critical sectors of the economy.
The report, a key deliverable of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, confirms that climate change is not a distant threat — it’s affecting us now.
Explore the report

Due to climate change,

the weather is getting more extreme.

Temperatures are rising across the U.S.

Temperatures from 2001 to 2012 were warmer than any previous decade in every region of the United States. Explore this interactive map from the National Climate Assessment to learn more.

Globally, the 10 warmest years on record all occurred since 1998.

Source: NOAA

For the contiguous 48 states, 7 of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998.

Source: NOAA

2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the nation

Source: NOAA, U.S. Climate Extremes Index

Record Heat Across the U.S.

State-by-state temperatures in 2012 – graphs provided.

Also in 2012:

Warmest Year on Record for the U.S.

Doesn’t include Alaska, Hawaii, or U.S. territories.

Source: NOAA

Record High Temperatures Tied or Broken

One-third of the U.S. Population experienced 100 degree F temperature

Above Average

6th-10th Warmest Year on Record

2nd-5th Warmest Year on Record

Warmest Year on Record

Source: National Climate Data Center/NESDIS/NOAAV

Doesn’t include Alaska, Hawaii, or U.S. territories.

Droughts, Wildfires, and Floods are all more frequent and intense

Precipitation was 2.57 inches below the 20th Century Average

Source: NOAA

15th driest year on record

Source: NOAA

Wildfires burned more than 9.3 million U.S. acres

Source: National Interagency coordination center

Extreme weather comes at a cost

Climate and weather disasters in 2012 alone cost the American economy more than $100 billion

$30 Billion

U.S. drought/heatwave

Estimated across the U.S.

$65 Billion

Superstorm Sandy


$11.1 Billion

Combined severe weather

Estimated for incidents across the U.S.

$1 Billion

Western wildfires


$2.3 Billion

Hurricane Isaac


There are also public health threats associated with extreme weather

Children, the elderly, and the poor are most vulnerable to a range of climate-related health effects, including those related to heat stress, air pollution, extreme weather events, and diseases carried by food, water, and insects.

We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgement of science — and act before it’s too late.”
- President Obama

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We’re still contributing to the problem

Carbon pollution is the biggest
driver of climate change

Global temperatures and carbon dioxide levels are on the rise

The global annual average temperature has increased by more than 1.5 degrees F between 1880 and 2012. This interactive graph from the National Climate Assessment shows the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the same time period. Climate scientists say we need to avert an additional 2-degree temperature increase to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

U.S. greenhouse gas pollution includes:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2), 82%

Enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), solid waste, trees and wood products, and also as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement).

Fluorinated gases, 3%

Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride are synthetic, powerful greenhouse gases that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes.

Nitrous Oxide (N2O), 6%

Emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste.

Methane (CH4), 9%

Emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil as well as from landfils.

Source: EPA

We’ve made progress thanks to:

Stronger Fuel Economy Standards

We set the highest fuel economy standards in American history that will double the efficiency of our cars and trucks by 2025.


Since President Obama took office, the U.S. increased solar generation by more than ten-fold and tripled electricity production from wind power.

Decreased Carbon Pollution

In 2012, U.S. greenhouse gas pollution fell to the lowest level in nearly 20 years.

Renewable Energy and Efficiency Targets

35 states have renewable energy targets in place, and more than 25 have set energy efficiency targets.

But we have more work to do.

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The President’s Plan to Cut Carbon Pollution in America

Reducing Carbon Pollution from Power Plants

Power plants are the largest major source of emissions in the U.S., together accounting for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas pollution.


In September 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants.


EPA has met with more than 300 stakeholder groups from across the country to gather information on standards for existing power plants.

Continuing the momentum for the future:

Accelerating Clean Energy Leadership

During the President’s first term, the United States more than doubled generation of electricity from wind and solar energy.


The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced permitting the 50th utility-scale renewable energy project on public lands. The projects could support more than 20,000 jobs and generate enough electricity to power 4.8 million homes.


Since President Obama took office, the U.S. increased solar generation by more than ten-fold and tripled electricity production from wind power.

Continuing the momentum for the future:

Building a 21st Century Clean Energy Infrastructure

Heavy-duty vehicles (commercial trucks, vans, and buses) are currently the second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution within the transportation sector.


In January 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the Federal government’s first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) process, with an initial focus on our nation’s energy infrastructure.


In February 2014, President Obama directed EPA and DOT to develop and issue the next phase of heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 2016.


In 2011, the Administration finalized fuel economy standards for Model Year 2014-2018 for heavy-duty trucks, buses, and vans. This will reduce green-house gas emissions by about 270 million metric tons and save 530 million barrels of oil.


The Administration has already established the toughest fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles in U.S. history. These standards require an average performance equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Continuing the momentum for the future:

Cutting energy waste in homes, businesses, and factories

Energy efficiency is one of the clearest and most cost-effective opportunities to save families money, make our businesses more competitive, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.


Since June more than 50 multifamily housing partners – representing roughly 200,000 units and over 190 million square feet – have joined the President’s Better Buildings Challenge.


In President Obama’s first term, DOE and HUD completed efficiency upgrades in nearly two million homes, saving many families more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone.


In December 2013, the Department of Agriculture announced it will provide up to $250 million to help business and residential customers in rural areas cut their energy bills through energy efficiency and renewable energy use.


Since June, DOE has issued nine proposed and five final energy conservation standards for appliances and equipment. If finalized and combined with rules already issued, the energy savings will help cut consumers’ electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Continuing the momentum for the future:

Reducing other greenhouse gas emissions

Emissions of Hydrofluorocardons (HFCs) — which are potent greehouse gases — are expected to double by 2020 and nearly triple by 2030 in the U.S.


Since 1990, methane emissions have decreased by 11% in part through partnerships with industry.


In March 2014, the Administration released a Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions from landfills, coal mining, agriculture, and oil and gas systems through voluntary actions and common-sense standards.

Continuing the momentum for the future:

Federal leadership

Since 2008, federal agencies have reduced greenhouse gas pollution by more than 17 percent — the equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road.


In December 2011, President Obama signed a memorandum challenging federal agencies to enter into $2 billion worth of performance contracts for building energy efficiency within two-years.


On December 5, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the federal government to buy at least 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Continuing the momentum for the future:

Even as we take new steps to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, we must also prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that are already being felt across the country.

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The President’s Plan Will

Prepare for the impacts of climate change

Moving forward, the Obama Administration will help states, cities, and towns build stronger communities and infrastructure, protect critical sectors of our economy as well as our natural resources, and use sound science to better understand and manage climate impacts.

Assess the Impacts of Climate Change


Provide an assessment of climate change impacts on the United States that translates scientific insights into practical knowledge that can help decision-makers prepare for specific impacts.


On May 6, the Administration released the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA), the most authoritative and comprehensive source of scientific information to date about climate-change impacts across all U.S. regions and on critical sectors of the economy. The NCA serves as a critical resource for informing climate preparedness and response decisions across the Nation.

Support climate-resilient investments


Remove policy barriers, modernize programs, and establish a short-term task force of state, local, and tribal officials to advise on key actions the federal government can take to support local and state efforts to prepare for climate change.


Federal agencies are working to ensure grants, technical assistance, and other programs support smarter, more resilient investments.


Established the President’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which is made up of 26 Governors, county executives, mayors and tribal leaders.

Rebuild and learn from Superstorm Sandy


Pilot innovative strategies in the Superstorm Sandy-affected region to strengthen communities against future extreme weather and other climate impacts and update flood risk reduction standards for all federally funded projects.


From HUD grants and DOT funding for resilient transit systems to a DOI competition for support for coastal resilience projects, over $10B in Sandy recovery funds is being used to increase resilience.


On August 19 the Hurricane Sandy Task Force delivered a rebuilding strategy that is serving as a model for communities across the nation.

Launch an effort to create sustainable and resilient hospitals


Establish a public-private partnership on increasing resilience of the health care industry.


HHS is on track to release a resource packet in fall 2014 providing best practices for increasing the resilience of healthcare facilities.

Maintain Agriculture Productivity


Deliver tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to help them understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change.


USDA established seven new “regional climate hubs” to help farmers and ranchers adapt their operations to a changing climate.

Provide tools for Climate Resilience


Include existing and newly developed climate preparedness tools and information that state, local and private-sector leaders need to make smart decisions.


In March 2014, the Administration launched the Climate Data Initiative, bringing together extensive open government data and innovation competitions to develop data-driven resilience tools for communities.

Reduce Risk of Droughts and Wildfires


Make it easier for communities to get the assistance they need to adapt to drier conditions.


Launched the National Drought Resilience Partnership and released the National Wildfire Cohesive Strategy.

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Because climate change spans international borders, the President’s plan will also

Lead international efforts to address global climate change

America will continue to take on a leadership role in engaging the world’s major economies to advance key climate priorities and in galvanizing global action through international climate negotiations. The plan will:


Lead public sector financing toward cleaner energy


The President put forth an initiative to end public financing for new coal-fired power plants overseas, except in rare circumstances. Following the lead of the U.S., other nations—including the U.K., the Netherlands, and the Nordic countries—have joined the initiative.


Bilat cooperation with major economies


President Obama has made climate change a key issue in some of our most important bilateral relations, including China and India. Together, we are making progress around issue areas such as vehicle emissions standards, energy efficiency, and clean energy initiatives.


Expand clean energy use and cut energy waste


Facilitating the transition to a global clean energy economy, the U.S. Department of Energy is leading the Clean Energy Ministerial, a high-level global forum that promotes policies and programs aimed at scaling up energy efficiency and clean energy.




Building on the breakthrough June 2013 agreement on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by President Obama and China’s President Xi, G-20 leaders in September 2013 expressed support for using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs.


The U.S. continues to spearhead the Climate and Clean Air Coalition which has expanded to 88 partners, including 39 countries. The Coalition is implementing ten initiatives to reduce emissions of methane, HFCs, and black carbon.


Reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation


In November 2013, the U.S., Norway, and the U.K. launched a public-private partnership to support forests in developing countries, with the goal of reducing emissions from deforestation and promoting sustainable agriculture.




In January 2014, a U.S.-led coalition of countries—representing 86% of global trade in environmental goods—announced plans to launch talks aimed at eliminating tariffs on a wide range of environmental goods under the World Trade Organization.




The United States continues to play an active role in shaping the design of a new global climate agreement due in 2015, including through our chairmanship of the major economies forum on energy and climate.


Mobilize climate finance


In April 2014, the U.S., U.K., and Germany announced the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance, a public-private platform designed to spur private-sector investment in low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure in developing countries.


Lead efforts to address climate change through international negotiations

The United State has made historic progress in the international climate negotiations during the past four years.

Moving Forward

The U.S. has committed to expand major new and existing international initiatives, including bilateral initiatives with China, India, and other major emitting countries.

We will lead global public sector financing toward cleaner energy by ending U.S. government financial support for new coal-fired power plants overseas, with limited exceptions.


Posted on on April 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


    Tax Breaks That Are Killing the Planet

 The comments show how deep is the Republican brainwashing of the population. You have here pundits for whom loss of life is nothing when compared to what they think is the right of corporations to make a profit.

What is even worse, nobody asked whose oil and coal is it anyway?  If Natural Resources are the property of the Whole Nation, then why should a company get depletion subsidies for their appropriating to themselves the natural National treasures? The whole system of paying royalties is inadequate – but the payment to them for the deletion of the resources is ridiculous. Getting a bonus for gains from misappropriated resources is much more like rewarding the CEOs for being great thieves! Just give it some more rational thinking and use the babble of the comments as your guideline. editor)


Posted on on February 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil. (photo: World Economic Forum)
Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil. (photo: World Economic Forum)

Fracking Infrastructure? Not in My Backyard, Says Exxon CEO

By Eve Andrews, Grist

23 February 14


oe is Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil.

Public utility Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp. has had the nerve to plan a water tower in Bartonville, Texasright next to Tillerson’s own personal horse ranch! Not only is the tower a blight on Tillerson’s very own piece of Texas forever, but it’s also going to bring all kinds of noise, traffic, and plebeians to his driveway. Oh, and one more thing – it’s also going to supply the energy companies that are quickly growing their fracking operations in the area. Included among these companies is XTO Energy, which ExxonMobil acquired in 2009.

Tillerson and his wife have brought suit against Cross Timbers to block the proposed water tower, and they’re not alone. Former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R) and his wife are the lead plaintiffs in the suit. Armey’s impressive track record includes a stint as chairman of Tea Party-affiliated FreedomWorks, a D.C.-based nonprofit committed to “helping activists fight for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom.”

The Cross Timbers case has been going on since 2012, and was recently sent back to the district court after a ruling reversal by an appellate judge, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Tillersons, Armeys, and their co-plaintiffs argue that they were promised that utility construction would not come near their homes. Cross Timbers’ position has been that, as a public utility, they can build wherever they goddamn please.

Tillerson’s primary concern seems to lie in damage to the aesthetics and privacy of the property in which, as he repeatedly reminded the audience at a Bartonville town meeting in November, he’s invested millions of hard-fracked dollars. We might focus more on the danger of water contamination that tends to accompany fracking infrastructure, for which XTO Energy currently faces criminal charges in Pennsylvania. But, hey – you do you, Rex!

UPDATE: Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) has released a statement kindly inviting Tillerson to an exciting new club:

“I would like to officially welcome Rex to the ‘Society of Citizens Really Enraged When Encircled by Drilling’ (SCREWED). This select group of everyday citizens has been fighting for years to protect their property values, the health of their local communities, and the environment. We are thrilled to have the CEO of a major international oil and gas corporation join our quickly multiplying ranks.”

Read the rest of Polis’ statement here.


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Posted on on February 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Are we one step closer to Obama green lighting the keystone pipeline? (photo: AP)
Are we one step closer to Obama green lighting the keystone pipeline? (photo: AP)


Keystone XL Pipeline Closer to Reality After State Department Review.

By Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian UK

01 February 2014


• Review: no significant effect on carbon emissions likely
• Campaigners hope Obama will say no to crude-oil project


he Keystone XL, a mundane pipeline project that escalated into a bitter proxy war over climate change and North America’s energy future, moved one important step closer to reality on Friday.

The State Department, in its final environmental review of the project, concluded that the pipeline, which would carry crude from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast, would not – on its own – have a “significant” effect on carbon pollution.

The report acknowledged that crude from the tar sands was 17% more carbon intensive than conventional oil. But it said that did not mean that the project on its own would worsen climate change by expanding production from the tar sands.

“The approval or denial of any single given project is unlikely to significantly affect the extraction of the oil sands,” Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of state, said during a conference call with reporters.

The finding clears the way for President Barack Obama to approve a project that has became a highly charged symbol of the fight over North America’s energy future. But he is under no deadline. The State Department said that the environmental impact statement it released on Friday was not an automatic guarantee Keystone XL would be completed.

“It’s only part of what we need to look at in order to make this important decision,” Jones said. She said that the decision-making process would also examine issues of energy security, foreign policy and economic interests, along with climate change.

Eight government agencies and the public now have 90 days to weigh in on the project. Secretary of State John Kerry, who worked on climate change for years in the Senate, will also have a say. The final decision rests with Obama, who will determine whether Keystone XL is in the US national interest.

But after five years of wrangling and delays, it now appears increasingly likely that TransCanada will be able to build the pipeline.

“If anything I would hope we would see a shorter time frame rather than a longer time frame,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s chief executive, told reporters. “My view is that the 90 days could be truncated significantly because I do believe that a lot of the inter-agency consultation has already taken place.”

Girling said it would take two full years to build the pipeline, once it had final approval.

The State Department, in Friday’s report, essentially concluded that Keystone would have little material effect on greenhouse gas emissions and that Canada would continue to develop and ship tar sands crude with or without the pipeline.

“Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude at refineries in the United States,” the review said.

The review included models suggesting that transporting oil by rail would generate even more greenhouse gas emissions than a pipeline, and also discussed measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the pipeline.

“The facts do support this project. The science continues to show that this project can and will be built safely,” Girling said. “It will have a minimal effect on the environment and it will not significantly impact carbon emissions.”

The finding came as a bitter disappointment to environmental groups and some Democratic members of Congress, who had urged Obama to reject the pipeline.

“Even though the State Department continues to downplay clear evidence that the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to tar sands expansion and significantly worsen carbon pollution, it has, for the first time, acknowledged that the proposed project could accelerate climate change,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, a campaigner for the Natural Resources Defence Council.

“Piping the dirtiest oil on the planet through the heart of America would endanger our farms, our communities, our fresh water and our climate. This is absolutely not in our national interest.”

The campaign against Keystone XL has become a national movement over the last three years, with environmental activists, Nebraska landowners and hedge fund managers all coming out against the project. In 2012, Obama, under pressure from landowners concerned about underground water sources and sensitive prairie, rejected the first proposed route for the pipeline across Nebraska.

The White House continued to come under pressure from environmental campaigners. Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer took out television ads on Tuesday, the night of Obama’s state of the union address, attacking Keystone XL, and other wealthy Democratic donors wrote open letters to the White House seeking to shut down the project.

The pipeline would eventually double the amount of crude oil being shipped from Alberta’s tar sands.

Campaign groups argued it would open up a vast store of carbon and tie North America more closely to a fossil fuel future. The climate scientist James Hansen said building Keystone XL would be “game over” for the planet.

Industry groups and supporters said the project would help protect America’s energy supplies and provide jobs.

Republicans in Congress – joined by some Democrats in conservative or oil-producing states – put forward legislation to compel Obama to move on the pipeline. They also warned that rejection of Keystone XL would damage relations with Canada, which has lobbied hard for the project.

Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, built his economic strategy around natural resource extraction – despite its toll on the climate. The Canadian government, in a report to the United Nations last September, estimated its carbon emissions will soar 38% by 2030, largely because of the development of the tar sands.

Others argued that opponents had oversold the importance of Keystone XL as a contributor to future climate change. They said Obama’s commitment to cutting carbon pollution from power plants – the single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions – would have a far greater impact on the climate.

Obama said last June that he would base his decision on the project’s carbon pollution impacts.

Some campaigners said they hoped Friday’s finding would still provide enough leeway for a refusal.

“The State Department has given Obama all the room he needs to do what he promised in both campaigns: to take serious steps against global warming,” said Bill McKibben, the co-founder of, which led the fight against the pipeline. “Now we’ll see if he’s good for his word.”

But Obama has been consistent in trying to move on climate change while expanding fossil fuel development, much to the frustration of campaigners who say the two policies are incompatible. In his state of the union address, Obama gave strong support to natural gas development, but made no mention of Keystone.

The State Department had conducted two earlier environmental reviews of the project. Last March, it found that if Obama rejected the pipeline Alberta crude would go to market by rail or other pipelines. But it revisited the issue under criticism from the Environmental Protection Agency, which said the early reviews had not been broad enough.

The State Department is awaiting a separate report from its inspector general, into allegations by environmental groups that a contractor’s review was biased because of connections to TransCanada and the oil industry.

“It seems like it’s been very influenced by industry and that’s highly problematic,” said Scott Parkin, senior campaigner at Rainforest Action Network.

Activists immediately called a series of protests against the decision.

Nearly 80,000 people have signed up to commit civil disobedience to stop approval of the pipeline, said Elijah Zarlin, senior campaign manager at Credo.

“If the State Department is recommending to the president that this is in the national interest, that would trigger action,” he said.


Posted on on January 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Koch World 2014

By Kenneth P. Vogel, Politico

25 January 2014


f the Koch brothers’ political operation seemed ambitious in 2010 or 2012, wait for what’s in store for 2014 and beyond.

The billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are convening some of the country’s richest Republican donors on Sunday at a resort near Palm Springs, Calif., to raise millions of dollars for efforts to shape the political landscape for years to come.

It’s the cash that can possibly kick Democrats out of the Senate majority this fall and shape the philosophy and agenda of the GOP conference – not to mention the 2016 presidential field.

The Koch political operation has become among the most dominant forces in American politics, rivaling even the official Republican Party in its ability to shape policy debates and elections. But it’s mostly taken a piecemeal approach, sticking to its sweet spots, while leaving other tasks to outsiders, or ad hoc coalitions of allies.

That’s changing. This year, the Kochs’ close allies are rolling out a new, more integrated approach to politics. That includes wading into Republican primaries for the first time to ensure their ideal candidates end up on the ticket, and also centralizing control of their network to limit headache-inducing freelancing by affiliated operatives.

The shift is best illustrated in the expansion of three pieces of the Koch political network expected to be showcased or represented at the three-day meeting in Palm Springs, whose evolving roles were described to POLITICO by several sources.

    • Center for Shared Services: a nonprofit recruiter and administrative support team for other Koch-backed groups, which provides assistance with everything from scouting office space to accounting to furniture and security.


    • Freedom Partners: a nonprofit hub that doled out $236 million in 2012 to an array of conservative nonprofits that is now expanding its own operation so that it can fulfill many of the functions of past grantees.


  • Aegis Strategic: a political consulting firm started last year by Koch-allied operatives who will recruit, train and support candidates who espouse free-market philosophies like those beloved by the Kochs, and will also work with nonprofit groups in the Koch network, like Freedom Partners, with which it has a contract to provide policy analysis.

The Koch network raised an astounding $400 million in the run-up to 2012, spending much of it assailing President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. After the Election Day letdown, the Kochs did an in-depth analysis to find out what went wrong and what they could do better. Among the areas identified for improvement were greater investments in grassroots organizing, better use of voter data and more effective appeals to young and Hispanic voters, according to sources.

Still, the big question was whether the donors who attend the conferences would keep stroking big checks or scale back their efforts. There’s no way to measure that definitively, since most of the groups in the network don’t disclose their finances regularly or reveal their donors. Early indications, though, suggest enthusiasm is high.

Groups in the Koch network – led by the brothers’ main political vehicle Americans for Prosperity – spent $25 million between the summer and early this month on ads bashing Democrats over Obamacare, which have been credited for hurting Democratic senators who are vulnerable in 2014.

James Davis, an official at Freedom Partners told POLITICO that his group has expanded rapidly, “and we expect to continue to grow.”

The 2014 potential of AfP, Freedom Partners and the other groups in the network depends in large part on the reception they get at this weekend’s gathering – the annual winter installment in the Kochs’ long-running series of twice-a-year meetings. Koch Industries spokesman Rob Tappan declined to comment on the Palm Springs meeting, but the company’s website includes a statement describing the events as bringing together “some of America’s greatest philanthropists and most successful business leaders” to “discuss solutions to our most pressing issues and strategies to promote policies that will help grow our economy, foster free enterprise and create American jobs.”

Many of the right’s most generous benefactors – folks like Minnesota media mogul Stan Hubbard, Wall Street investor Ken Langone and Wyoming mutual fund guru Foster Friess – are regulars. The gatherings, which attendees call “seminars” and are typically held at tony resorts, routinely attract some of the top operatives and biggest names in Republican politics, as well as rising stars tapped by the Kochs’ operatives.

The last seminar, held in August outside Albuquerque, N.M., drew Rep. Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Iowa state legislator Joni Ernst, who is running in a crowded GOP Senate primary.

The seminars typically conclude with pledge sessions that can raise tens of millions of dollars. In 2012, that cash mostly went into a pair of non-profit conduits – Freedom Partners and the Center to Protect Patient Rights – whose operatives then doled it out to a range of nonprofits blessed by the Koch operation, including some groups asked to make presentations to donors at the seminars.

But several sources suggested that Freedom Partners’ growth and expansion into a more central strategic role within the network means that the roles – and possibly funding – of the Center to Protect Patient Rights and other groups in the network will diminish. In other words, Freedom Partners will bring in-house many Koch network functions that had been outsourced. That could reduce the chances of a repeat of situations like that which the Center to Protect Patient Rights and one of its beneficiary nonprofits found themselves in California, where they paid $1 million last year to settle an investigation into alleged campaign finance violations. The settlement stipulated that the violation “was inadvertent, or at worst negligent,” but the investigation brought unwanted attention to the Kochs, who repeatedly stressed that they had no involvement in the matter and distanced themselves from the operative who ran the Center to Protect Patient Rights, Sean Noble, explaining that he was just a consultant.

Freedom Partners, by contrast, is run by Marc Short, a former Koch employee, and staffed by other Koch loyalists, although Koch Industries issued a statement saying the group “operates independently of Koch Industries.” The group, established in November 2011, is technically a business league, and its members pay at least $100,000 in annual dues. “Our membership has grown out of concern that the administration’s policies are hurting Americans by crippling businesses and our economy,” Davis said. The growth has continued since the 2012 election, he said, adding that the group is in the process of expanding its 50-employee staff.

It appears to be looking to hire a creative director to make videos for both Freedom Partners and other groups, as well as an executive to work with the groups’ donors and help raise money for it and other groups. Those postings are listed on the website of the Center for Shared Services, which sources say is filling an innovative niche recruiting talent for the entire Koch network.

The network’s ambitious plans are borne out in the Center’s job board, which has an array of posts that hint at major 2014 expansions that seem to track areas of improvement identified in the Kochs’ post-2012 analysis.

The website doesn’t actually list the groups for which it’s hiring, but sources say the Center — which was founded in mid-2011 and received $2.7 million from Freedom Partners in 2012 — is primarily devoted to boosting Koch-backed nonprofits. All the services it provides are “free or substantially below cost,” according to the group’s tax filings, which show it spent only $1.2 million through mid-2012. Center officials did not respond to requests for comment, but the group’s job board reads like a guide to Koch World.

“The leading data and technology provider for the pro-free market public policy and advocacy community” is looking to hire about a dozen positions, including developers to “help build data driven web and mobile applications systems.” The outfit is based in Alexandria, Va., where the Koch-backed voter data non-profit Themis and its for-profit arm i360 are headquartered.

A “youth advocacy organization” is seeking directors, volunteer coordinators and event coordinators in multiple states who have worked on national political campaigns, and have voter identification and turnout experience. The Koch network’s youth advocacy nonprofit is called Generation Opportunity and it, like the organization in the postings and many Koch-backed non-profits, is based in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Va. An organization dedicated to Hispanic voter outreach – much like the Koch-backed LIBRE Initiative – is hiring field directors in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

Americans for Prosperity, The LIBRE Initiative and Generation Opportunity have focused their efforts primarily on beating up Democrats over Obamacare, but after 2013 conservative operatives had studied the Koch operation for signs that it might throw its weight into Republican primaries. AfP’s president Tim Phillips had suggested that was a possibility for his group, which could have seriously altered the balance of power in the battle for the soul of the GOP. And, while POLITICO has learned that AfP ultimately decided against such a move, sources say that Aegis is envisioned as a way for Koch operatives to mix it up in primaries.

“They are the candidate-support operation of the Koch network,” said one GOP operative who has met with Aegis president Jeff Crank about his firm’s plans. “They’re looking at these races and looking to get involved in primaries.”

Crank, who ran twice unsuccessfully for congress in Colorado, was the director of that state’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, before serving a stint as the interim chief operating officer for the entire organization after a post-2012 election shakeup. Another Aegis staffer ran AfP’s Nebraska chapter, while a third worked at Themis.

Crank didn’t respond to phone calls or emails for this story, but last week on the Saturday morning radio show he hosts on a Colorado station, he said one of the reasons he started Aegis was “because we’re trying to end that kind of nonsense from political consultants, who just go out and get a candidate so they can get a job.” On his show a week earlier, he praised the Koch brothers, calling them “some of the most philanthropic givers in the United States of America” — citing their donations to medical research, the Smithsonian and various arts programs in New York. “But they’re vilified if they give any money to try and keep America free.”

Sources told POLITICO that Koch network donors invested in Aegis. Crank told the Denver Post that he had financial backers, though he didn’t identify them, and said he also used his own money. He said his goal was avoiding GOP electoral meltdowns like Todd Akin, who won a Missouri Senate primary, only to implode in the general election campaign when he asserted that victims of “legitimate rape” very rarely get pregnant.

“Our effort is to find good candidates who are committed to pulling America off the fiscal cliff, whether they are gubernatorial candidates or U.S. House or U.S. Senate candidates,” he told the Denver Post. Mother Jones reported that Crank has touted his ties to the Kochs and their fundraising network and that its first client is a New Hampshire state lawmaker who has been an AfP ally.

It’s unclear if Aegis has signed any gubernatorial or congressional candidates yet, but POLITICO has learned that Aegis and i360 both made informal pitches to work for Ernst’s Iowa Senate campaign around the time that she attended the August seminar in Albuquerque, for which her campaign reimbursed Koch Companies Public Sector $242 for “event registration fee,” according to Federal Election Commission filings. They show the campaign also spent $884 on lodging at the Hyatt where the conference was held. Derek Flowers, an Ernst campaign staffer, told POLITICO that the payment to Koch was “to cover the cost of meals and expenses while at the retreat” which was paid for by the company, and said ultimately the campaign decided to go with firms other than Aegis and i360.

Ernst, though, said she was grateful for the chance to appear before the Koch network donors in Albuquerque, where she talked her campaign and why she thought she would be a good senator. “I do think it gets my name out there,” she said last year, in previously unreported comments. “Not everyone will jump on board and support just because of that, but it is good to get the name out, absolutely.”


Sunday New York Times Review   |   Editorial

The Koch Party

Only a few weeks into this midterm election year, the right-wing political zeppelin is fully inflated with secret cash and is firing malicious falsehoods at supporters of health care reform.

As Carl Hulse of The Times reported recently, Democrats have been staggered by a $20 million advertising blitz produced by Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group organized and financed by the Koch brothers, billionaire industrialists. The ads take aim at House and Senate candidates for re-election who have supported the health law, and blame them for the hyped-up problems with the law’s rollout that now seem to be the sole plank in this year’s Republican platform.

In one typical example, the group’s ad against Representative Gary Peters of Michigan, a Democrat who is running for an open Senate seat, is full of distortions and lies. It accuses Mr. Peters of lying when he said the law bars cancellations of insurance policies. Mr. Peters happened to be right, as millions of people who once faced losing all insurance after they got sick now appreciate. The 225,000 Michigan residents who the ad said received “cancellation notices” were actually told that they could change to a better policy; they were not told they could no longer have insurance, as the ad implies. And though the ad said health care costs are “skyrocketing,” national spending on health care is now growing at the slowest pace ever recorded, in part because of the reform law.

Democrats intend to counter this campaign with the facts, but few of the candidates have the money to do so now. As a result, the campaign is taking a serious political toll, increasing the chances that Republicans who support a repeal of the law will win back the Senate majority this fall.

Naturally, Democrats are using the campaign to increase their own fund-raising, begging donors to give unlimited amounts to left-leaning super PACs and advocacy groups. But it is unlikely that they will be able to match the resources or the cunning of the Kochs, who are using vast pools of money earned through corporate revenues to build a network unrivaled in complexity and secrecy. This weekend, they are bringing together some of the biggest Republican bank accounts at a resort in Palm Springs, Calif., to collect money and plan this year’s strategy.

As Politico described it on Friday, they have already set up an operation so sophisticated it rivals “even the official Republican Party in its ability to shape policy debates and elections.” Its components include a political consulting firm to recruit, train and support like-minded antigovernment candidates, which will be active in the congressional primaries. There is also a center that provides technology and administrative services to right-wing groups and candidates, an office that compiles and analyzes voter data and a youth advocacy group.

In 2012, as The Washington Post reported, the Koch network raised $407 million, which was secreted among 17 groups with cryptic names and purposes that were designed to make it impossible to figure out the names of donors the Kochs worked with. As one tax expert told The Post, “it’s designed to make it opaque as to where the money is coming from and where the money is going.”

The Democrats have smaller versions of these operations, though they are more focused on building a super PAC to collect unlimited donations supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016, and they lack the resources to compete with the Kochs at this stage.

The clandestine influence of the Kochs and their Palm Springs friends would be much reduced if they were forced to play in the sunshine.

The Internal Revenue Service and several lawmakers are beginning to step up their interest in preventing “social welfare” organizations and other tax-sheltered groups from being used as political conduits, but they have encountered the usual resistance from Republican lawmakers. Considering how effectively the Koch brothers are doing their job, it’s easy to see why.


Posted on on January 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (




The Standard American Diet in 3 Simple Charts

| Mon Jan. 20, 2014

US obesity and diabetes rates are among the globe’s very highest. Why? On her blog, the NYU nutritionist and food-politics expert Marion Nestle recently pointed (hat-tip, to this telling chart on how we spend our grocery money, from the USDA’s Amber Waves publication:

So, we do a pretty good job eating enough potatoes. But the healthier, more brightly colored vegetables like kale and carrots, no so much. We spend four times the amount on refined grains the USDA thinks is proper, and about a fifth of the target expenditure in whole grains. We spend nearly 14 percent of our at-home food budgets on sugar and candies, and another 8 percent on premade frozen and fridge entrees. Whole fruit barley accounts for less than 5 percent of our grocery bill. And so on—a pretty dismal picture.

That chart deals with at-home expenditures. What about our food choices out in the world? The USDA article has more. This chart shows that we’re getting more and more of our sustenance outside of our own kitchens:

And while the article doesn’t offer comparable data to the above at-home chart about expenditures outside the home, it does deliver evidence that our eating out habits are pretty dire as well:

Why do we eat such crap food? The USDA throws up its hands: “Despite the benefits to overall diet quality,” the report states, “it can be difficult to convince consumers to change food preferences.”

But it never pauses top consider the food industry’s vast marketing budget. According to Yale’s Rudd Center, the US fast-food chains like McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Burger King spent $4.6 billion on advertising in 2012. “For context,” Rudd reports, “the biggest advertiser, McDonald’s, spent 2.7 times as much to advertise its products ($972 million) as all fruit, vegetable, bottled water, and milk advertisers combined ($367 million).” I can’t find numbers for the marketing budgets for the gigantic food companies that stock the middle shelves of supermarkets; but according to Advertising Age, Kraft alone spent $683 million on US advertising in 2012.

By contrast, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the USDA’s sub-agency that “works to improve the health and well-being of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers,” had a proposed budget of $8.7 million in 2013.


Posted on on January 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


A U.S. attorney has opened an investigation looking into the release of a potentially dangerous chemical into parts of West Virginia’s water supply.

Nearly 200,000 residents in nine counties have been told not to drink the water and avoid cooking with it, brushing their teeth or even taking a shower.

The spill of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol was found coming from a 48,000-gallon tank at a chemical storage facility about a mile upriver from the West Virginia American Water plant. The chemical is used to wash coal before it goes to market.


THE NEW UPDATE – January 13, 2014:

Restaurants reopen with bottled water after West Virginia spill

Date: 13-Jan-14

Author: ANN MOORE of Reuters’ Planet Ark


Restaurants reopen with bottled water after West Virginia spill Photo: LISA HECHESKY
Water is distributed to residents at the South Charleston Community Center in Charleston, West Virginia, January 10, 2014.

(Reuters) – Restaurants and shops began reopening on Sunday in parts of West Virginia where the water supply was poisoned by a chemical spill, although up to 300,000 people spent a fourth day unable to use tap water for anything besides flushing toilets.

State government officials, the utility company West Virginia American Water and the National Guard continued to test the water supply after as much as 7,500 gallons (28,000 liters) of an industrial chemical leaked into the Elk River on Thursday.

It could still be several days before people in nine counties and Charleston, the state capital and largest city, can once again use the water from their faucets for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Earl Ray Tomblin, the governor of West Virginia, and other officials said at a press conference on Sunday that efforts to flush the chemical from the water supply were showing signs of progress, and that most water samples were found to be within safety limits for a second day.

But they did not specify when the drinking water ban might be lifted, instead saying they were working to create a website where residents will be able to check to see when the restriction is lifted in their area.

“Our team has been diligently testing samples from throughout the affected area, and the numbers look good,” Tomblin said. “I believe we’re at a point where we see light at the end of the tunnel.”

A dozen restaurants in Charleston had been allowed to reopen by Sunday afternoon by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department after assuring officials that they have secured a source of potable water.

“It feels very expensive,” said Keeley Steele, who bought hundreds of bottles of water in order to reopen her comfort-food restaurant, the Bluegrass Kitchen, in Charleston on Sunday. “This is all coming at such a huge cost.”

Hotels were allowed to continue operating as long as they steer clear of using tap water, although several hotel owners said they were only honoring existing reservations to reduce the expense of shipping out linens for cleaning.

Officials have so far declined to estimate the economic cost of the spill.

Frustrations, however, continue to mount, with West Virginians lamenting the toll the outage has taken on their health and personal hygiene.

“It feels like we’ve all been living on junk food these past couple days,” Josephine Ritter, a 40-year-old hairstylist, said outside a recently reopened 7-Eleven convenience store in Charleston. “You can’t cook or clean or anything. It’s just bottled water and potato chips every day.”

The emergency began last week after a spillage from a tank belonging to Freedom Industries, a Charleston company that makes chemicals for the mining, steel and cement industries, authorities said.

The spill happened about a mile upriver from a West Virginia American Water treatment plant. President Barack Obama declared it an emergency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent dozens of tractor trailers loaded with clean water.

Water tainted by the spilled 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or Crude MCHM, smells faintly of licorice. Contact with the water can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, rashes and reddened skin. Around 70 people had visited emergency rooms with these symptoms by Sunday, said Karen Bowling, Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Some 1,045 people have called the West Virginia Poison Center since the spill to say they or someone in their household had been exposed, she said.

The “vast majority” of those people reported symptoms of some kind, said Elizabeth Scharman, the poison center’s director. While there is little data on the chemical’s effect on humans, she said most symptoms were easily treated and that rashes and feelings of nausea would soon fade.

“It’s not a highly toxic chemical, it’s an irritant chemical,” she said, adding that less than 10 people had had to be admitted to a hospital. More than 60 people had also called to say their livestock or pets had been exposed.

Meanwhile, some West Virginians are anticipating a disheveled start to the new work week.

“I’m not looking forward to going back to work on Monday without a shave or shower,” said Clark Mills, a 51-year-old contractor in Charleston. He has sent his family to stay with relatives in an unaffected part of the state while he waits out the problem.

“I have a 6-month-old baby,” he said. “We can’t live like this.”

(Reporting by Ann Moore and Jonathan Kaminsky; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Walsh)



Calls for Oversight in West Virginia Went Unheeded


Posted on on November 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following is based on THE PENTAGON POST and on a PRESS RELEASE from the UNFCCC Headquarters in Bonn.



Hundreds of youth groups from around the world have written to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres asking her to withdraw from the coal summit taking place at the same time as international climate talks.


At a time when the world  meets in Warsaw for the United Nations’ annual climate change conference, the Polish government has decided to preside as well over a high-level coal industry event on the sidelines of the two-week climate conference.

Companies dealing with coal, oil and gas normally maintain a low profile presence during the UN climate talks but Polish officials say that coal, which accounts for more than 80 percent of Poland’s electricity generation, won’t go away anytime soon and needs to be a key part of the climate debate.


The decision has also invited mixed reactions from the environmentalists who issue increasingly dire alarms that time is running short to head off the most disastrous effects of global warming.


Meanwhile, in a statement The Associated Press, the World Coal Association said the coal summit is meant as a contribution, not an alternative, to the UN talks. It noted that UN climate chief Christiana Figueres will be a keynote speaker at the event.

Hundreds of youth groups from around the world have written to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres asking her to withdraw from the coal summit taking place at the same time as international climate talks.


The Warsaw meet of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has no measurable targets. But observers hope it will at least do some legwork for a much-trumpeted deal, due to be signed in Paris in 2015 for implementation five years later.



UN’s top climate change official tells coal industry it can and must radically change and diversify
(Warsaw, 18 November 2013) – Speaking to the International Coal and Climate
Summit, organized by the Polish government and the World Coal Association,
Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Christiana Figueres said the coal industry can and must radically transform
and diversify to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Directly addressing the CEOs of major coal companies she said: “Let me be
clear from the outset that my joining you today is neither a tacit approval
of coal use, nor is it a call for the immediate disappearance of coal. But
I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for
everyone’s sake.”

The World Coal Summit is taking place shortly after the release of the
findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
which shows that human-generated climate change is real and accelerating,
and at the same time as the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw.

“The IPCC’s findings have been endorsed by 195 governments, including all
of those in which you operate. We are at unprecedented greenhouse gas
concentrations in the atmosphere; our carbon budget is half spent. If we
continue to meet energy needs as we have in the past, we will overshoot the
internationally agreed goal to limit warming to less than two degree
Celsius,” she told the coal summit.

Ms. Figueres said that in order to make this radical transformation,
further capital expenditure on coal could only go ahead if it is compatible
with the 2 degree Celsius limit. She pointed to the building groundswell of
climate action and climate change-related policies at all levels of
government and society.

“All of this tells me that the coal industry faces a business continuation
risk that you cannot afford to ignore. Like any other industry, you have a
fiduciary responsibility to your workforce and shareholders. And by now it
is abundantly clear that further capital expenditures on coal can only go
ahead if they are compatible with the 2 degree Celsius limit.”

Ms. Figueres urged the coal industry to honestly assess the financial risks
of business as usual, to anticipate increasing regulation, growing finance
restrictions and diminishing public acceptance and to leverage technology
to reduce emissions immediately across the entire chain of coal output.

She also said that the industry would need to diversity its portfolio
beyond coal, noting that the bottom line for the atmosphere is that most
existing coal reserves will have to stay in the ground.

“Some major oil, gas and energy technology companies are already investing
in renewables, and I urge those of you who have not yet started to do this
to join them. By diversifying your portfolio beyond coal, you too can
produce clean energy that reduces pollution, enhances public health,
increases energy security, and creates new jobs,” she said.

Ending her speech, she called on the industry to “look past next quarter’s
bottom line and see the next generation’s bottom line.”

The speech by Christiana Figueres to the International Coal and Climate
Summit can be found at:




When we last sent you an email about the Typhoon in the Philippines, we didn’t yet have a picture of what the impacts would look like.


Now we do. It looks like this.


In a reasonable world, Typhoon Haiyan would be the wakeup call that jolts world leaders meeting in Poland for UN climate talks into decisive action. Depressingly, the message isn’t yet getting through, which is why the Filipino delegation, and many allies, have embarked on a fast to underline the immense, immediate needs facing the victims of this storm.


For our part, we’re bringing thousands on thousands of messages of solidarity with Philippines climate leaders from around the world to the halls of the UN climate talks. This is our way of showing intransigent politicians that the world is counting on them to stand with the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and take real action.


Our team in Warsaw will deliver the messages alongside the Philippines delegation later this week, and it’s my hope that they’ll be carrying yours when they do. Click here to send a wake up call message on behalf of the Philippines.


Due to the overwhelming destruction of infrastructure and communication systems, the relief effort in the hardest hit places is only just beginning. In addition to sending that message, can you pitch in to support our friends in the Philippines as they recover from this unprecedented storm, if you’re able?


This Thursday, the penultimate day of UN talks, people will be gathering in climate justice for the Philippines vigils across the globe, to send the message we’re standing with the Philippines even if they won’t.


Yeb Sano, the lead Filipino negotiator at the UN Talks, has been fasting for 7 days in a brave protest of the inaction and delay in the face of climate disaster. And his courage is contagious: we’re hearing from people around the world who are fasting with him in solidarity.


The full account of the destruction won’t be known for a while yet, but the message of Typhoon Haiyan already couldn’t be clearer. It doesn’t feel quite right to look for good in moments like these, but there is at least a glimmer of hope that such a tragedy will cut through the fog of politics and reveal the urgency of this crisis.


I fear it will only happen if we push however, and so push we will.


Many thanks,




From IISD Reporting: 

As delegates kicked off the second half of the conference at the Warsaw National Stadium, another conference, deemed “controversial” by many, convened three kilometers away. At the International Coal and Climate Summit, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres delivered a keynote speech, warning that “the coal industry faces a business continuation risk it can no longer afford to ignore.” Previously, an open letter signed by several NGOs requested Figueres to withdraw from the event, worried that her presence would lend credibility to a conference “that should not be legitimized.” Responding to these concerns, and subsequently gaining a somewhat cautious approval from one NGO representative, Figueres specified in her keynote address that her presence “is neither a tacit approval of coal use, nor is it a call for the immediate disappearance of coal. But I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone’s sake.”


Posted on on October 17th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

As reported today by Tom Kludt of the TPMlivewire:

As Congress looked to end the budget and debt crises – at least for now — a Republican congressman offered an ominous outlook on Wednesday.

Pledging to vote against the plan to re-open the government until Jan. 15, 2014 and raise the debt ceiling until at least Feb. 7, 2014 Rep. John C. Fleming (R-LA) indicated that he’s already looking toward the next showdown.

“I’ll vote against it,” Fleming said, as quoted by the New York Times, “But that will get us into Round 2. See, we’re going to start this all over again.”

Fleming was one of 144 House members — all Republicans — who voted against the deal that passed both houses of Congress on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, he told reporters that Republicans wanted to use the looming debt limit deadline as leverage.


Gridlock Has Cost U.S. Billions, and the Meter Is Still Running


Damage to growth, employment and interest rates has already been extensive, economists say, even without a debt default and a continuation of the government shutdown.



The Republican Surrender


After inflicting enormous damage, the House wins virtually nothing and gives up.


Republican Collapse


Far-right elements of the House prefer to go down in a blaze of glory – or at least take the country down in one.



The GOP House leadership did not block a Senate agreement that was not blocked by the Senator from Texas – Mr.Ted Cruz, thus ending the shutdown and raising the debt ceiling, House Speaker John Boehner let know in a statement:

“The House has fought with everything it has to convince the president of the United States to engage in bipartisan negotiations aimed at addressing our country’s debt and providing fairness for the American people under Obamacare,” Boehner said. “That fight will continue. But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us.”

But above is below the honesty line. In effect the shutdown is out on vacation only till January 15th 2014, and their hand on the limitation of debt levels got a reprieve only till February 7th 2014. One can surely anticipate that above will continue at least to the November 2014 US elections cycle where the Republican candidates for positions like the Mayor of New York City or a Senator from New Jersey are expected to lose by unusually big margins.  Will this cause finally the split between the Tea Party and the main Republican body?

The Nations of the World are right to continue to worry on matters of US sanity and will surely continue to look for another Global Economy structure that is less based on the US printed Dollar. It is Ted Cruz and his partners that managed to accomplish the harm to the US that Bin Laden was not able to do. The Washington based Heritage Foundation under the new leadership of former Senator Jim DeMint seems to be a Circus-manager for the Republican side. The whole world sees the need for an immediate rebirth of Liberal-Republicanism when watching how Big Money and the extreme right have hijacked the present days Republican party.


Looking up DeMint and the Heritage Foundation we found:

Benjy Sarlin –

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is leaving the Senate in January 2013 to run the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington.”I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight,” DeMint said in a statement. “I’ve decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas.”

As an unofficial leader of the tea party movement, DeMint was considered among the most powerful members of Congress. He cultivated a set of loyal followers — and bitter detractors — by backing conservative Senate candidates that he felt would be allies in confronting less hardline Republican leaders. A nod of support from his Senate Conservative Fund, which raised over $16 million in the most recent cycle alone, could put a previously obscure candidate on the national map immediately. Some of his bolder endorsements, like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY), are now considered some of the party’s brightest stars. Others, like Christine O’Donnell, became some of the party’s biggest disasters.

DeMint embodied the “party of no” label the GOP earned over the last four years, frequently leading filibusters to stymie President Obama’s agenda and often threatening to scuttle deals reached between the White House and Republican leaders. During the 2009 health care debate, he famously described the Affordable Care Act as Obama’s “Waterloo,” saying its defeat would “break him.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who clashed with DeMint at times, praised his “uncompromising service” in a statement released after news broke of DeMint’s decision to step down.

“Jim helped provide a powerful voice for conservative ideals in a town where those principles are too often hidden beneath business as usual,” McConnell said.

The Heritage Foundation appears to be a good fit for DeMint’s style. Some of its staffers have clashed with Republican leaders in recent days, leading the charge against Speaker Boehner’s proposals to raise revenue as part of a fiscal cliff deal and hosting speaking engagements for conservative members of Congress who were stripped of their committee assignments.

But far from being a bomb-throwing outfit on the fringe of the Republican Party, the generously funded Heritage Foundation sits at the core of modern Republican Party in Washington. McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, a labor secretary under George W. Bush, is a distinguished fellow at Heritage, whose headquarters is just a couple of blocks from the Senate side of the Capitol complex.

It also presents a likely boost in compensation: DeMint makes $175,000 in salary as Senator, but outgoing Heritage president Edwin Feulner took home about $1,100,000 in 2010 according to the group’s public tax forms. DeMint is one of the least wealthy members of the Senate, reporting a net worth of $65,000 last year.

The group parallels DeMint’s — and the GOP’s — rightward shift in the Obama era. As Slate’s Dave Weigel noted on Thursday, DeMint supported Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2007, citing his mandate-based health care law. Romney in turn adapted his law from mandate-based proposals backed by the Heritage Foundation. By 2009, all three were leading opponents of Obama’s mandate-based health care reforms.

“Jim DeMint understands that conservative principles and values advance the interests of all Americans–regardless of age, gender, wealth or race,” Feulner said in a statement. “He is firmly committed Heritage’s immutable mission: to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society flourish.” {that is what the Heritage Foundation writes on its mast-head while working for Big Money interests.}


An agreement struck by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ended a stalemate created last month, when hard-line conservatives pushed GOP leaders to use the threat of shutdown to block a landmark expansion of federally funded health coverage – an American Law vetted already by a Supreme Court decision that this law was fully in agreement with the US Constitution.

That campaign succeeded mainly in undermining popular support for the Republican Party, however. By late Wednesday, dozens of anxious GOP lawmakers were ready to give President Obama almost exactly what he requested months ago: a bill to fund the government and increase the Treasury Department’s borrowing power with no strings attached.“We’ve been locked in a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told a Cincinnati radio station. “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win.”The Senate overwhelmingly ratified the deal Wednesday evening, 81 to 18, with more than half of Senate Republicans voting yes.A few hours later, the House followed suit, approving the measure 285 to 144. Eighty-seven Republicans joined a united Democratic caucus in approving the measure, allowing Congress to meet a critical Treasury Department deadline with one day to spare.Obama signed the measure into law shortly after midnight,, reopening parks and monuments across the nation, restoring government services and putting furloughed federal employees back on the job, many of them in the Washington region.“Employees should expect to return to work in the morning,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the White House budget director, said in a statement.The measure also guarantees those workers back pay for time spent at home, aid flood-ravaged Colorado and provide extra cash for fighting wildfires out West. And it grants the District government, which relies on Congress to approve its budget, authority to manage its own affairs through the 2014 fiscal year.Enforcement of the debt limit is suspended until Feb. 7, setting up another confrontation over the national debt sometime in March, independent analysts estimated. Meanwhile, federal agencies are funded through Jan. 15, when they might shut down again unless lawmakers resolve a continuing dispute over deep automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was to have breakfast Thursday morning with her House counterpart, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), to start a new round of talks aimed at averting another crisis. Obama repeated his vow to work with Republicans to rein in a national debt that remains at historically high levels.

“With the shutdown behind us and budget committees forming, we now have an opportunity to focus on a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair, and that helps hardworking people all across this country,” Obama said at the White House.

Few held out hope that the talks would yield an ambitious plan to overhaul the tax code or restructure federal health and retirement programs, the biggest drivers of future borrowing. But there were signs that Republicans may be more inclined to compromise and less inclined to follow what Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) called “the fringe elements” of the GOP.

“The reality is there’s a much larger population within our caucus that recognizes reality for what it is,” said Schock, who represents the iconic middle-America town of Peoria. “At the end of the day, whatever we pass will have to be a bipartisan bill. The sooner that our conference recognizes that we’re going to have to negotiate with the other side, the more we can get done.”

The fight over the health-care law that many call Obamacare originated on the Senate side of the Capitol, with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), as well as former senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who now heads the conservative Heritage Foundation. Cruz and Lee voted against Wednesday’s agreement, as did GOP presidential hopefuls Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Rand Paul (Ky.).

The price the House paid for waging what many Republicans saw as an unwinnable fight was ultimately devastating. Boehner had counseled against shutting down the government as recently as late August, fearing a backlash among voters that quickly materialized in public opinion polls.

Yanked to the right, Boehner tried repeatedly to satisfy Cruz and his allies. He made a last-ditch effort Tuesday to rally his troops around a measure that would have eked out two minor health-care victories: repeal of a tax on medical devices that helps finance the Affordable Care Act and elimination of employer-provided health insurance subsidies for lawmakers, their aides and administration officials. The subsidies, long available to all federal workers, have been derided by conservative commentators as a “special exemption” now that lawmakers are required to get insurance through the new health-care exchanges.

It wasn’t enough. Conservative lawmakers demanded more concessions. More moderate Republicans complained that the plan would never pass the Senate.

On Tuesday night, with House Republicans bitterly divided and Boehner himself badly weakened, the effort collapsed. By Wednesday, Boehner and McConnell had no choice but to seal a deal with Reid or run the risk of inviting economic calamity. In the House, the vote was eerily similar to the last fiscal showdown with Democrats. During the brief debate, not a single member of the GOP leadership team spoke in favor the bill. That left House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) alone among senior Republicans to publicly champion the bill, just as Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) had been during the “fiscal cliff” vote on New Year’s Day.

It ended with a bizarre moment, when a House stenographer ran to a microphone and began shouting religious messages. She was forcibly removed from the chamber.

In the Senate, McConnell, a wily tactician unaccustomed to surrender, tried to salvage some sense of accomplishment. As he and Reid announced the deal at midday Wednesday on the Senate floor, McConnell noted that the measure would maintain current spending levels, “protecting the government spending reductions that both parties agreed to under the Budget Control Act” of 2011.

“That’s been a top priority for me and my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle,” McConnell said.

But Democrats quickly said they would seek to roll back those cuts before the next round of sequester reductions goes into effect Jan. 15. Meanwhile, many Republicans lamented that the misguided attack on the health-care law had cost the party a shot at forcing Democrats to consider a serious debt-reduction plan.

“This package is a joke compared to what we could have gotten if we had a more reasonable approach,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) “For the party, this is a moment of self-evaluation. We are going to assess how we got here. If we continue down this path, we are really going to hurt the Republican Party long term.”

Democrats, for their part, quietly recorded a partisan victory. But after a shutdown and debt-limit fight estimated to have sucked as much as $20 billion out of the U.S. economy, there was no celebration.

“I’m tired,” Reid said after the Senate voted Wednesday night. “Concluding this crisis is historic. But let’s be honest: This was pain inflicted on the nation for no good reason.



Video Video: ‘There Are No Winners Here,’ Obama Says

Saying the American people are fed up with Washington, President Obama urged lawmakers to work together to improve government and to serve their constituents.


By definition, common ground suggests no grand bargain, which would require a much more difficult trade-off where they fundamentally differ — higher tax revenues that Republicans oppose, in exchange for reductions in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that Democrats vow they will not entertain without curbs on tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations.

With the last-minute settlement, Washington found itself battered, exhausted and about where it was back in March in terms of budget progress. That month, Congressional Republicans and the White House failed to prevent the sequestration cuts from taking effect across military and domestic programs.

The Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate passed vastly different budgets, but Republicans blocked Democrats’ repeated efforts to convene a conference committee to reconcile the differences — until this week.

Congress not only reopened the government through Jan. 15 and raised the nation’s borrowing limit effective to Feb. 7 on Wednesday. It also mandated the formal budget negotiations in a separate parliamentary motion.

“Nobody can guarantee success, but what we can say is that if we don’t make the effort and get together and talk, that would guarantee failure,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, House Democrats’ chief negotiator.

The need for a bipartisan breakthrough, even a modest one, was amplified by the economic costs wrought by the 16-day shutdown and near-default on government obligations.

“The key now is a budget that cuts out the things that we don’t need, closes corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs, and frees up resources for the things that do help us grow — like education and infrastructure and research,” President Obama said Thursday from the White House, setting ambitious goals for Congress even as his own role in the bargaining was unclear.

The question of what a new House-Senate budget conference can deliver by its Dec. 13 deadline — in time for Congress to act by Jan. 15 on funding to keep the government open — remained the subject of deep skepticism, well earned by past failures at reaching so-called grand bargains for deficit reduction and spending investments in the past three years.

With the scope of the talks narrowed for now, on the table are ideas left over from past, failed bargaining: possible reductions in other programs — like farm subsidies, federal pensions, the Postal Service and unemployment insurance — and relatively minimal tax loophole closings, possibly as little as $55 billion.

While there is nonetheless hope on both sides for a defining budget deal, the three-week budget crisis scrambled Washington’s power structure.

Democrats, united throughout, believe they enter this next round far stronger, backed by a president who proved his own resolve. Republicans, having played their trump card by shutting down the government, are weakened and more divided than ever.

Reflecting his party’s chastened state heading into the next phase, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, told the conservative National Review on Thursday, “A government shutdown is off the table.”

Even so, Republicans enter these new talks with one advantage: if the negotiations fail, the next round of across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration will hit automatically, even deeper than the first. Democrats want to avoid that far more than Republicans do.


 THE NEW YORK TIMES in the morning:

The Damage Done


We may have managed to avoid driving off a cliff this week, but we are still on the road to nowhere.

Common Interests, Not Confrontation


With the budget crisis over for the time being, President Obama calls for an end to destructive governing.


THE WASHINGTON POST in the morning: