Former Treasury Secretary Sees Climate Crash Coming

Henry Paulson (right) speaks at his nomination as Secretary of the Treasury. He lived through one crash. Now he sees another coming.

Henry Paulson (right) speaks at his nomination as Secretary of the Treasury. He lived through one crash. Now he sees another coming.

The man who was at the center of the global financial crash of 2008 — Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson — knows a thing or two about crisis. And he sees another one bearing down on us. He wrote about it in a hair-on-fire op-ed piece in the New York Times last weekend. The headline: The Coming Climate Crash. And he’s a Republican! Continue reading

The Fall of the House of Cantor Cards

Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA), heir to the speakership, forgot the rule: dance with the ones what brung ya.

Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA), heir to the speakership, forgot the rule: dance with the ones what brung ya.

The punditry that has arisen since the primary-election defeat of Eric Cantor, Republican Majority Leader (and Speaker-in-Waiting) of the House of Representatives, has mostly subtracted from the sum total of human knowledge. So, naturally, I want to contribute. (At least no trees were killed in the promulgation of this analysis.) Since a stunned David Brat, economics professor and novice candidate, acknowledged his victory over Cantor last Tuesday and immediately went into hiding, the Chattering Class has been having convulsions. Continue reading

The End of (Environmental) History

Of course it's empty. Forbes says there's nothing more to learn.

Of course it’s empty. Forbes says there’s nothing more to learn.

Forbes Magazine, assisted by the Heritage Foundation, has declared an end to the environmental movement; not for the reason you might expect Forbes to embrace, but because, and I quote, “we are all environmentalists now.” Likewise it has declared an end to worry about the effects of climate change, because, and again I quote, “many people see global warming as a problem for the future, not the present.” (This is optimism of the same stripe as the man who, having fallen 50 floors from the roof of a 60-story skyscraper, says to himself “Well, nothing bad has happened yet.”)

The motivation for this amazing piece of op-ed propaganda is perfectly clear. Forbes exists to pander to gazillionaires who made or inherited their money from enormous industrial enterprises. The Heritage Foundation exists to help ultra-conservatives spray their political emissions with a gloss of academic respectability. As we shall see, the shine does nothing to improve the smell. Continue reading

Democratic America is Dead. Say Hello, Oligarchy.

Dollar FlagMany years ago a friend of mine, a long-haul truck driver, was in a terrible accident. He almost died, and when he recovered it was with severe, permanent physical and neurological damage. A year or so after he came home from the hospital his wife told me that she was living with a stranger, whose dark moods, frequent eruptions of anger — even his manner of thinking and speaking — were foreign to her. She still loved him, she supposed, although more and more it seemed to her that she loved the man he had been, not the man he became after the accident. She wondered about her duty to the man he had become.

Many of us feel that way about our country. We loved it once, without reservation. But that was before the accident. Continue reading

Ukraine, etc: Pundits Fiddle While World Burns

Why would anyone go against well armed and armored riot police with a piece of pipe (as here, in Kiev, on December 1)? That is the question. (Wikipedia photo)

Why would anyone go against well armed and armored riot police with a piece of pipe (as here, in Kiev, on December 1)? That is the question. (Wikipedia photo)

Since the Ukraine crisis bloomed into violence three months ago, reporters and analysts have floundered to tuck the bloody, explosive events into a nice narrative we can all be comfortable with. It’s a tug-of-war, we’ve been told, between East and West, between Russia and Europe, between Putin and Obama. (How in the world did this turn out to be Obama’s fault, as well?) Or it’s a resumption of the Cold War, no, it’s a Hot Cold War, no, it’s Soviet Union II.

While they have been thus laboring, the members of the chattering class have been overwhelmed by similar, new rebellions in Venezuela, Thailand, Turkey, Bosnia and Iceland (Yes! Iceland, for crying out loud!) added to the still-simmering uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Syria, and the barely-under-control semi-rebellions bubbling in Iran, China, Pakistan, India and Argentina. Not hard to understand why beads of sweat are popping through the makeup of the pundits and politicians who are trying to maintain the not-to-worry, we’ve-seen-all-this-before attitude that will keep us from getting interested. Fact is, we’ve never seen anything like this before. Continue reading

Congress Realizes It Fixed Flood Insurance: Repeal Imminent

Sandy damage

“Yeah, but it’s got a great ocean view. so we’re gonna rebuild. When do I get the check?” Hurricane Sandy took a bite out of this New Jersey house, just like subsidized flood insurance takes a bite out of the federal budget. (Photo by RetroRed/Flickr)

Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, was in a state of high dudgeon, last November, as she pilloried the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at a committee hearing in Washington. He had been dragged before the committee to explain why his Federal Flood Insurance Program was racking up rates for policies on water-soluble buildings in flood-prone coastal and riverine areas. “The harm that has been caused to thousands of people across the country,” she raged, “is just unconscionable.” Director Craig Fugate might be forgiven for being nonplussed. He had raised the rates at the explicit direction of Congress, which just 16 months previously had decided to end the existing flood-insurance madness with the Biggert-Waters Act. Which bears not only a wonderfully punny name for a bill dealing with floods, but the name of its co-sponsor, one Maxine Waters.   Continue reading

Oil, Coal and the Law: Are You Kidding Me?

Ask not what your government can protect you from; ask rather who can protect you from your government.

Ask not what your government can protect you from; ask rather who can protect you from your government.

This is an update of the December 1 Daily Impact story “Oil and Coal: Above the Law, and Below It.” Read  the story of Mike Roselle’s arrest in West Virginia for having the temerity to petition his government for the redress of a grievance, and of Allenco Energy Company’s immunity from consequences for poisoning the air of a Los Angeles neighborhood. Try to imagine how both of those situations could get worse. Then read this. Continue reading

Texas Bomb Ignored by Media, Perp Honored by Victims

CNN is not broadcasting live from this, the site of the bombing of West, Texas and the terror that ensued.  (Photo by The Bay Area’s News Station/Flickr)

CNN is not broadcasting live from this, the site of the bombing of West, Texas and the terror that ensued. (Photo by The Bay Area’s News Station/Flickr)

The explosion that leveled much of the little Texas town of West occurred one day after the Boston Marathon bombing. It killed 15 people, five times the number of dead in Boston. It left a crater 90 feet across and ten feet deep, while the Boston bombs left some black marks on the sidewalk (along with a lot of blood — this is not to minimize Boston, but to put Texas in perspective). It destroyed an apartment building, a school and dozens of homes, while in Boston no buildings were damaged. And surely, in a system that recognizes negligent homicide and reckless disregard as crimes, the Texas bombing was just as criminal an act as the Boston one.  Yet it has vanished from the media and the perpetrator is being called a nice guy — by the victims. Continue reading

Terrorized US Government Locked Down

It's not what Wacky Pierre of the NRA says that matters, it's where his backers put their money. (Cartoon photo by DonkeyHotey/Flickr)

It’s not what Wacky Pierre of the NRA says that matters, it’s where his backers put their money. (Cartoon photo by DonkeyHotey/Flickr)

Cowed by the deployment of IEDs (Improvised Electoral Destabilizers) in several cities, the US Congress shouted “No!” from under its desks this week to a modest adjustment of firearms regulation that 90% of American voters wanted. It was the most brazen demonstration yet of the members’ subservience to cash and contempt for individual voters. It was also the best evidence so far that the government is so thoroughly in thrall to corporate interests that there is no hope that it will act to restrain them merely to prevent the crash of civilization. Continue reading

Wait, What? Congress Fixed Flood Insurance?

Superstorm Sandy not only did this to Fire Island, NY, but made it easier to do again. (Photo: Cheryl Hapke, USGS)

Superstorm Sandy did this to Fire Island, NY. Government flood insurance used to make it easy to do again. Not any more. (Photo: Cheryl Hapke, USGS)

What were we doing in July? Oh, right, Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced he had proof that President Obama’s birth certificate was a fake. And the FBI report on the Joe Paterno thing came out. And they discovered evidence of the Higgs Boson, aka the God Particle. Small wonder then, that Congress picked that month to pass a piece of legislation that actually made sense. How else could they protect their cherished, hard-won reputation  as a Congress that hasn’t done anything and isn’t ever going to do anything? Continue reading