Table 4b

Here's a handy graphic from August J. Pollak about what's putting our troops in harm's way. (I would also add "letting anyone read this graphic" to the left column.) [via Triptych Cryptic]

A Question for the Malkins

If you're so concerned about national security, why do you support publishing inflammatory Muslim cartoons but oppose publishing a government program analyzing financial records? Publishing those cartoons created an immediate national security problem for Denmark and other countries, but you wrapped yourself in the freedom of the press:

The point that needs to be hammered again and again is that the newspaper did not publish the cartoon to deliberately offend Muslims or to make an anti-Islamist statement, but to inform. Which is what newspapers, may I remind them, are supposed to do.

Newsapers are supposed to inform? Finally, we can agree.

Another reason to vote democratic

Get Ready for Internet Toll Roads

An amendment to require network neutrality -- the idea that all content moving across the Internet would not be prioritized for delivery on the basis of fees -- was defeated Wednesday in a U.S. Senate committee.

In an 11-11 vote, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology failed to attach the network-neutrality amendment to a bill that would remove certain barriers for telephone companies to sell TV services. The vote in favor of attaching the amendment included all the Democratic Senators plus Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).


Kansas could turn blue

Just as I got done wondering exactly what drugs makes Republicans concoct things like the "American Values Agenda," a tiny sproutling of good news emerges from, of all places, Kansas.

Seems the Republican State Chair for Kansas, Mark Parkinson, is a newly minted Democrat. Why? He's sick of a preachy, ineffective government that pays more attention to what you think than delivering value for citizens

His defection to the Democrats sent shockwaves through a state deeply associated with the national Republican cause and the evangelical conservatives at its base. Nor was it just Parkinson's leave-taking that left Republicans spluttering with rage and talking of betrayal. It was that as he left Parkinson lambasted his former party's obsession with conservative and religious issues such as gay marriage, evolution and abortion.

Sitting in his headquarters, the new Democrat is sticking to his guns. Republicans in Kansas, he says, have let down their own people. 'They were fixated on ideological issues that really don't matter to people's everyday lives. What matters is improving schools and creating jobs,' he said. 'I got tired of the theological debate over whether Charles Darwin was right.'


What's the matter with Kansas, indeed. Gimmee some of that juice.


GOP is the nanny party

If there is anything more puke-inducing than the GOP's "American Values Agenda," I can't think of it. This entire slate of red herrings is designed to help you get your thoughts in line - like any jesus-lovin, gun-totin, judge-hatin, flag wavin, homo hatin amurican.

But do you suppose they will do anything about this? No.

Flag fraggers defeated

Every senator that voted for the flag desecration amendment should have his or her stupid, pandering butt sent back to pole barn, or bean field or maybe civics classes. Imagine, amending the Constitution of the United States of America to outlaw something that basically doesn't happen. Imagine threading the consititution with a principle that is 100% antithetical to the document itself and to what the flag represents. A vote to for this asinine legislation is a greater desecration than any act of protest.

Thankfully, there is a one vote margin in favor of sanity.

Newsflash: Global Warming is Real

I'm happy to say I didn't fall asleep during Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth. I'm just enough of a geek to be engaged in what is essentially a spiffed-up climate lecture. Entertainment value aside, the message of the film is important for everyone on this planet to hear. Global warming is real, it's happening, and we should do something about it.

The AP contacted 100 of the world's top climate researchers about the film. Only 19 had seen it, but they all agree: Gore gets the science right on the major points.

The most recent proof can be found in this exciting report by the National Academy of Sciences: Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years.

Okay, its dry charts and facts aren't exactly a thrilling read. So let me point you to the important conclusions:

• The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on icecaps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years.

• The committee finds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium.

• Surface temperature reconstructions for periods prior to the industrial era are only one of multiple lines of evidence supporting the conclusion that climatic warming is occurring in response to human activities.

Reasonable people can debate the course of action we should take, given this information. But anyone (like President Bush) claiming there's a debate over global warming and its causes cannot be taken seriously. But the threat they pose to our planet and future generations should be taken seriously, and we can't let their moral fogginess get in the way of clear scientific evidence.


Economics noir

From Jared Bernstein's You know how to add, don't you?:

I caught up with her in her penthouse, a place that had "housing bubble" written all over it. I know my wealth distributions, and this kitten came from the top 0.1%. I don't like playing the sap — it was time for some class warfare.

"OK, gorgeous. Drop the 'two Americas' line and give it to me straight. You know as well as I do where the growth is going. What's your game?"

She nibbled her lip and looked up at me real sweet. "I suppose if I told you I'm just a girl who cares about the bottom 99%, you wouldn't believe me."

She supposed right.

"All right, I'll come clean," she said, slumping in a chaise lounge that probably cost the average income of the bottom fifth. "I work for the Republican National Committee, and we're starting to get spooked by the president's poll numbers on the economy. We figured if we don't get a little trickle-down soon, it could hurt us in 2006, not to mention '08."

I kicked myself for not seeing it sooner. "So you don't give a damn about the structural factors driving the productivity/wage gap: the declining unions, low minimum wage, the profit squeeze, slack job creation and, most of all, the way globalization is sapping the bargaining clout of the American worker, blue and white collar alike."

"Why should I?" she said, finally showing her true colors. "Any intervention would just cuff the invisible hand, doing more harm than good." She was Milton Friedman with the body of Scarlett Johansson. I had to get outta there.

"You're wrong," I shouted, staggering toward the door. "You can't see it, but these two reports are a microcosm of everything that's right and wrong with this economy. Tell your people that whoever understands and articulates this disconnect, along with a convincing policy agenda to reconnect growth and living standards — that's who wins the big tamale."

I was wasting my breath. She had me bounced by a security guard as pumped-up as ExxonMobil's profits.

I brushed off the dust and headed for the office. You'd think a case like this would be dispiriting to a guy like me, but you'd be wrong. Sure, she made me mad, but I saw things clearly now, and her little scheme was about to backfire.

There's an electorate out there that's looking for some economic stewardship. Maybe I'm just one economist in this big, crazy city, and maybe the other guys got the deep pockets. But the way I see it, we can shape our economic outcomes so that everyone gets a fair shake, not just the chosen few.

No the noir dame cannot be played by Ann Coulter in the film version: we now know she's really a deadhead (or rather a wharf rat). [thanks to Curly Tales for the noir tipoff]

Spenders keepers

This is a fascinating bit of trendspotting.

100 Years of U.S. Consumer Spending: Data for the Nation, New York City, and Boston


From kidnapping to ethnic cleansing...

The Washington Post has obtained a memo from the US Embassy that paints a very different picture of progress. The bright side is that at least they are trying not to lie to themselves. The downside is that they continue to lie to us.