Fri 31 October, 2014

08:15 Right-Wing Media Defend Street Harassment With Their Own Catcalls» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

Right-wing media responded to a recent public service announcement depicting a woman's experiences with street harassment by questioning whether the encounters amounted to harassment at all and adding their own catcalls to the chorus of abuse.

On October 27, Hollaback, a national organization whose mission is to "end street harassment" released a PSA featuring the catcalling and harassment one woman faced over the course of 10 hours while walking around New York City as recorded by a hidden video camera concealed in the bag of somebody walking ahead of her. 

Conservative media figures responded to the video's depictions of over 100 instances of harassment with disbelief, claiming that the men featured in the video were "simply being polite," that there was "nothing disrespectful" about street harassment, and even commenting themselves on the woman's appearance with proclamations like, "Damn, baby, you're a piece of woman." 

08:14 How New York Schools Are Deterring Immigrants From Enrollment» ThinkProgress

“Today’s survey demonstrates that the State Education Department (SED) has failed to enforce its own guidelines regarding immigrant student enrollment, despite being aware of the problems for years,” the NYCLU press release read.

The post How New York Schools Are Deterring Immigrants From Enrollment appeared first on ThinkProgress.

08:10 Jimmy Fallon and Jake Gyllenhaal get doused in hilarious water war» Salon.com
This video is worth it even just for Gyllenhaal's goofy giggle

08:10 Lindsey Graham’s deranged joke: What he revealed about white male anxiety» Salon.com
Saying “white men in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency” ensures this: He'll never be president

08:10 Bill O’Reilly: Republicans are “afraid of black people”» Salon.com
A moment of unpleasant honesty?

08:10 Arctic Ground Squirrels' Body Clocks Tick Without Day-Night | Video» LiveScience.com
08:09 How Iowa Scientists Are Fighting To Get Climate Change On The Political Radar» ThinkProgress

A little less than three weeks ago, over 180 Iowa scientists sent a clear message to their state's leaders: climate change is here, is impacting Iowans and needs to be taken seriously.

The post How Iowa Scientists Are Fighting To Get Climate Change On The Political Radar appeared first on ThinkProgress.

08:07 How to Take Back Democracy on November 4th» Politics - The Huffington Post

Bold prediction: Rising inequality of income and wealth will be the most important political battleground over the next few decades.

Just take a look at the figures. The share of income accruing to the top 1 percent increased from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011. The richest 0.1 percent controlled 7 percent of the wealth in 1979 and 22 percent of the wealth in 2012. Meanwhile, there are a number of studies out there showing that the most effective way to reduce this inequality would be higher taxes on income and wealth, but the rich won't let it happen.

Consider also this: The rise of income inequality and wealth inequality are intimately connected, and causes all sorts of problem over the long term. As Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman write:

Income inequality has a snowballing effect on the wealth distribution: top incomes are being saved at high rates, pushing wealth concentration up; in turn, rising wealth inequality leads to rising capital income concentration,which contributes to further increasing top income and wealth shares.

That is, income is a flow, which quickly becomes a stock. The rich make enough money to save; in contrast middle-class and low-income workers don't have enough money to live, so they are increasingly burdened by debt. They can't build up wealth, which means they are deprived of opportunity. This creates a self-perpetuating cycle of wealth on the top and debt on the bottom.

In a comedy bit on wealth, Chris Rock claims, "You can't get rid of wealth." The empirical research on the question largely supports his assertion. In "The Son Also Rises," Gregory Clark finds that wealth remains in a family for 10-to-15 generations and notes,

Groups that seem to persist in low or high status, such as the black and the Jewish populations in the United States, are not exceptions to a general rule of higher intergenerational mobility. They are experiencing the same universal rates of slow intergenerational mobility as the rest of the population.

But, of course wealth and income inequality weren't always as bad as they are today. What happened? In a word: cheating. Although many people try to explain rising inequality away by arguing we live in a winner-take-all economy or that inequality is the result of skill-biased technological change, these arguments are bunk. Inequality has been driven by public policy choices that favored the richthe decline of unions and the rise of finance. As the chart below shows, tax rates on both income and inheritance were high during the relatively equal '60s, '70s and '80s and then fell dramatically paving the way for the inequality we see today (Chart Source).

The best way to reduce inequality would be to tax income and wealth. While conservatives often claim that this would reduce economic growth, such claims have very little economic support. For instance, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Stefanie Stantcheva find no correlation between economic growth and tax cuts. Because of this, they find, "the top tax rate could potentially be set as high as 83%." (Chart Source)

Nobel Prize-winner Peter Diamond argues that the top marginal tax rate could safely breach 73 percent, and indeed, such a rate might even be "optimal." Another recent studyfinds the top marginal tax rate could be as high as 90 percent. Republicans sometimes claim that inequality is necessary for economic growth; in fact, the evidence suggests rather the opposite is true: High levels of inequality imperil growth.

But, here's the problem: The same political forces that allowed the 1 percent to take our political system hostage have only worsened in the past decade. As Nick Hanauer notes in a recent Intelligence Squared debate,
At the same time, the percent of -- of labor -- the percent of GDP devoted to labor has gone from 52 to 42.  So that difference is about a trillion dollars annually.  So that -- here's the thing you have to understand.  That trillion dollars isn't profit because it needs to be or should be or has to be.  It's profit because powerful people like me and [Edward Conrad] prefer it to be.  That trillion dollars could very easily be spent on wages. Or -- or on discounts for consumers.  This isn't a consequence of some magical law of economics.  This is a consequence of differentials in power.

Nick hits on a very important point: The rising concentration of economic power has coincided with a concentration of political power. A recent paper by Adam Bonica and others illustrates that as inequality has increased, the rich have spent more money on the political system:

As Benjamin Page, Larry Bartels and Jason Seawright recently found that the wealthy tend to be more economically conservative than the population at large. But a particularly startling finding is that, "on economic issues wealthy Democratic respondents tended to be more conservative than Democrats in the general population." The wealthy are usingthe political system to turn their income into wealth and then that wealth into more wealth. They're going to keep doing it, unless we stop them.  One solution is to reduce the massive turnout gap between the rich and poor.

Studies show that states with more low-income turnout have higher minimum wages, more generous child health insurance programs and stricter anti-predatory lending policies. They also have more generous welfare benefits. The fight against inequality will be a long one, but the first step is turning out to vote -- the most radical step one can take in our country is actually believing democracy is more than just an idea.

This piece originally appeared on Salon
08:04 Biodiversity: What's Worth Saving?» Politics - The Huffington Post
New economic analysis shows it's a great deal to reduce coral losses - but likely not to make more protected areas.


Biodiversity - the range of species we share our planet with - is important, but can we put a value on it? And can we estimate the benefits and costs of conservation? Professor Anil Markandya and two other economists (Luke Brander and Alistair McVittie) have written three new, economics papers for my think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus. They find that not only can we estimate the costs and benefits for some projects but also that conservation can be a great investment.
A target to preventing the loss of coral reefs will for each dollar spent deliver at least $24 of environmental benefits. Likewise, reducing the current loss of forests by half would likely do about $10 of good for each dollar spent. They also find that increasing protected areas is likely to be a poor target.

This matters, because the global community, spearheaded by the UN, is currently working to formulate a set of key targets, which will guide how resources are used from next year until 2030. These follow on from the Millennium Development Goals, an ambitious set of targets that directed hundreds of billions of development dollars since 2000.

The problem is that right now, most interest groups understandably battle to include their favorite targets, but having more than a thousand potential targets leaves the world with no priorities. That is why the Copenhagen Consensus is helping by asking top economists to analyze what works and what we can afford.

Of course, some of the obvious issues relate to adequate food, clean water and better schooling and healthcare. But humans don't live separately from the natural world. Rather, we rely on it for many different benefits or what experts call 'ecosystem services'. For example, forests don't just provide timber and firewood, but also provide flood protection, because they can soak up intense rainfalls - for instance, a big part of the reason Pakistan had such hugely damaging floods in 2010 was because large parts of its upper forests had been cut down. Here forests could have protected many of the poor that now saw their homes flooded or even their kids perish.


Forests also provide beauty experiences for residents near-by, while drawing in tourism, generating more benefits. At the same time, growing forests take up carbon dioxide from the air and lock it away for decades or even centuries while producing oxygen. And forests also provide refuge for enormous numbers of bird, animal and plant species, especially found in tropical rainforests.

All of these benefits can be valued. Timber has a commercial price, so that is straightforward. Locking away carbon can be priced based on likely costs of avoided climate damage, and likewise flood protection value shows up as reduced future floods. There is also a value for recreation and tourism, but not all of this is paid for by the users. Moreover, preserving species clearly have a benefit, but typically not one we pay for. This is where putting a price on a natural resources become more difficult, and economists have to fall back on surveys which ask people how much they are willing to pay to keep forests in place.

That makes it more difficult to put a firm value on a hectare of forest, but the academics all agree that spending a dollar is likely to do more than a dollar worth of good. The most likely outcome of a series of cost-benefit analyses show that setting the goal "reduce global forest loss by 50%" is likely to do about $5-$15 worth of social good for every dollar spent.

The same kind of analysis shows that preserving wetlands could be a good deal. The economists show that reducing global wetland loss by 50% will very likely do more good than its cost and most likely fall in the same range of about $10 back on each dollar.

More spectacular is the analysis for coral reefs, which both act as fishery hatcheries and fishing resources while storing abundant numbers of species. At the same time, coral reefs possess an amazing beauty, which both shows up in large tourism revenues but also in most individuals saying they are willing to pay a certain amount to make sure they continue to exist for our grand children. The analyses show that reducing global coral loss by 50% may cost about $3 billion per year but the total benefits likely run to at least $72, or about $24 dollars back for every dollar invested.

However, economics also reveals poor targets: focusing to substantially increase protected areas is likely to cost so much - close to a trillion dollars - that it will generate less environmental benefit than the cost.

Of course, as we look to the next fifteen years, we have to spend most of our focus on the obvious wrongs with billions of people that are poor, lack food, water, health and education. But these analyses suggest that carefully crafted, environmental targets should also be a part of this solution.

Our job is to make sure that economic arguments are heard so we pick the smart targets but drop the poor ones, to make sure the next fifteen years help the world and its inhabitants as much as possible.
08:04 A Look At Ebola Guidelines In Some States» Politics - The Huffington Post
States have broad authority to quarantine people to prevent the spread of disease, and several are exercising that right to go beyond the safety recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control for containing the deadly Ebola virus.

The CDC says mandatory quarantines of those without symptoms are unnecessarily severe and will discourage health workers from going to West Africa to fight the epidemic. It says people at the highest risk of contracting Ebola but who have no symptoms — such as those who came into direct contact with an Ebola patient's body fluids — should avoid public transportation and public places like shopping centers and movie theaters, even if they have no symptoms. Activities like jogging, in which the person maintains a 3-foot distance from others, are allowed.

The military has imposed the toughest rules for troops returning from affected countries, requiring 21-day quarantines even for those whose jobs do not require them to be in contact with any infected people.

Here's a look at the variety of ways states are responding to the health threat:


New York and New Jersey have imposed mandatory, blanket quarantines of 21 days for health care workers returning from the disease's hotspots and travelers who have had contact with Ebola victims.

Maine officials have called for voluntary quarantines for health care workers in contact with Ebola patients. But Gov. Paul LePage says he is ready to exercise the "full extent" of his authority to protect the public after a nurse who returned from Sierra Leone but has shown no symptoms went on a bike ride with her boyfriend and held a news conference before her Nov. 10 incubation period ends. Maine health officials have gone to court try to limit the movements of nurse Kaci Hickox.

In Georgia, travelers arriving from West Africa who have had direct contact with an infected person will be considered high risk and will be placed in quarantine at a designated facility to be monitored, while health care workers who have been treating Ebola patients but show no symptoms will be closely monitored by state health officials using video or home visits.

Travelers who have been to an affected country but have had no known exposure to the disease will have to sign an agreement stating they will do temperature and symptom checks twice a day and will report results electronically or by phone. Failure to report will result in a mandatory quarantine order if necessary.

In Illinois, the governor has ordered "high-risk" individuals stay at home for 21 days and undergo daily checkups.


The California Department of Public Health on Wednesday ordered people returning from Ebola-stricken areas who have had contact with infected patients to be monitored for the disease and left it up to county officers to decide how, including a 21-day quarantine.

Connecticut has announced plans to quarantine people on a case-by-case basis.


In several states, health officials are monitoring anyone who has returned from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone for 21 days. That monitoring process varies: In Michigan that means calling people to check on them, while Florida authorities say they visit the people twice daily to take their temperature.

In Delaware, people considered to have "some risk," such as health care workers who have had direct patient contact but have no symptoms themselves, would be expected to sign agreements outlining restrictions of their activities, such as refraining from attending meetings, avoiding use of public transportation, and not engaging in activities that would put them in "arms' length" of contact with others.

Under Minnesota's monitoring program, travelers from West African countries that are Ebola hotspots provide twice-daily details on their temperature and health condition, keep contact journals and face restrictions from taking long trips on public transit. Health care workers who treated virus patients abroad are subject to home quarantines, which the state considers voluntary. Officials say they would consider legal action to order a quarantine if public safety was deemed at risk.

Texas, where the first U.S. Ebola case was diagnosed, calls for anyone with symptoms who arrived within the past three weeks from the virus hotspots to be rapidly isolated and transported to a health care facility. People considered to be high risk would be directed to stay home. Lower risk cases would be closely monitored and anyone coming in from countries with widespread Ebola cases would be checked twice daily for 21 days.


State health officials in Alaska are finishing a plan that will outline the steps for when to put someone in quarantine or how to manage a patient who is off Alaska's limited road system, said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, the state's chief epidemiologist.

Anyone who traveled to the hardest hit West African nations within the last three weeks would be interviewed and asked about their histories, such as whether they cared directly for Ebola patients. From there, officials would determine that person's exposure risk and decide what quarantine measures are appropriate.

Kentucky officials are still hammering out an Ebola protocol but said it would likely be unnecessary given the small number of people who arrive to the state from affected countries.


Associated Press writers Brian Bakst in St. Paul, Minnesota; Adam Beam in Frankfort, Kentucky; Nancy Benac in Washington; Becky Bohrer in Anchorage, Alaska; Robert F. Bukaty in Fort Kent, Maine; Randall Chase in Dover, Delaware; David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan; Jamie Stengle in Dallas; and Judy Lin in Sacramento, California; contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
08:02 Don't Quarantine American Health Workers (Op-Ed) » LiveScience.com
Governors are playing politics by quarantining those who can help fix the Ebola crisis.
08:00 Scott Brown's Carpetbagging Comes Back To Haunt Him During Final Debate» Latest from Crooks and Liars
Scott Brown's Carpetbagging Comes Back To Haunt Him During Final Debate

Let's hope this is the final nail in Scott Brown's coffin that sends him scrambling back to Faux "news" for his livelihood. God knows we don't need to have both houses of Congress looking like Darrell Issa's Little Shop of Horrors with unlimited subpoena powers for more endless witch hunts.

It seems Brown had a bit of trouble with the geography of the state he's been pretending he lives in during his final debate with his opponent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Busted: Carpetbagger Scott Brown botches local New Hampshire question:

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) showed an apparent lack of familiarity with at least one New Hampshire county during his final debate with incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) on Thursday night.

“Let’s go to the western part of the state and talk about Sullivan County,” WMUR-TV political director James Pindell said to Brown. “Senator Brown, what do you see going right in the economy in Sullivan County, and what’s going wrong? And please be specific.”

Brown appeared to ignore the final part of Pindell’s question.

read more

08:00 Hans And Greta Spin Horror Tales Over 'Ballot Thieves'» Latest from Crooks and Liars
Hans And Greta Spin Horror Tales Over 'Ballot Thieves'

Welcome to the Hans and Greta show, where they spin fairy tales about how elections will be stolen by roving bands of marauding 'ballot thieves.'

Von Spakovsky was an FEC commissioner, not an election official. He was a partisan hack who did his best to screw up campaign finance any way he could.

But I digress. We are talking about Colorado, where 'ballot thieves' will steal absentee ballots so they can stuff the ballot box.

This is a complete fairy tale. Feel free to mock them as you will. Voting by mail is actually a safer way to vote, especially in states with voting machines. I voted by mail already, checked our county website to see that it was received and processed (it was), and it's all done.

This is how I know conservatives are worried about the outcome on Tuesday. They're already setting the stage to explain how all their certain wins turned into losses.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. So vote and prove me right.

07:59 Hillary Clinton Jobs Remark Makes Cameo In House Debate» Politics - The Huffington Post
Hillary Clinton's comment that businesses don't create jobs made a cameo in a House debate Thursday evening.

Republican Rick Allen, who owns a construction company, attacked incumbent Rep. John Barrow's (D-Ga.) record by invoking the former secretary of state and President Barack Obama.

"I mean I know that our president and Mrs. Clinton have both said that businesses don't create jobs. But, you know what -- they do. And when you criticize a business, and the number one thing on people's minds are jobs, then guess what -- then you're criticizing the very thing that gives you the opportunity to get a job," Allen said.

Clinton made the comment in a speech denouncing "trickle down" economics last week, telling a New England crowd, "Don't let anybody tell you that it's corporations and businesses that create jobs." The possible presidential hopeful corrected herself in an address on Monday, arguing that the "economy grows when businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs here in an America where workers and families are empowered to build from the bottom up and the middle out -- not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas."

But the initial line has already become fodder for a number of Republican heavyweights, some of whom are also considering a presidential run in 2016.

Watch Allen's remarks above.
07:59 Nation, The Last Episode Of 'The Colbert Report' Will Air On December 18» Politics - The Huffington Post
If you're a "Colbert Report" fan and get depressed around the holidays, you might have a particularly difficult time this year.

On Thursday night's episode, Stephen Colbert announced that our beloved "Report" will air its last episode on Dec. 18.

Of course, we'll be seeing more of Stephen when he takes over for David Letterman as host of "The Late Show" in 2015. That date, however, has not been set.

Colbert couched his show's expiration date in a plug for the paperback release of his book, "America Again."

"The point is, Stephen Colbert, the guy you've seen here every night for 9 years, will be gone. And all you'll have left of me is this book," he said.

Considering that Colbert does not plan to bring his signature "character" to his new late night gig, that's unfortunately true.
07:55 The Jian Ghomeshi story just keeps getting worse» Salon.com
The latest accusations paint a now familiar -- and horrible -- picture

07:55 Anti-gay marriage group endorses pro-LGBT Democrats just to spite their gay GOP opponents» Salon.com
The National Organization for Marriage makes some bizarre picks in two House battlegrounds

07:53 Great Pumpkin! 9 Fun Facts About the Halloween Gourd» LiveScience.com
From their origins as the oldest domesticated plant to their maximum size, here are some interesting facts about pumpkins
07:51 It's Up to Us on November 4th: The 2014 Elections and Beyond» Politics - The Huffington Post
While the pundits and pollsters are predicting a Republican takeover of the Senate, it would be wise to take their prognostications with a grain of salt and not let them become a self-fulfilling prophesy. After all, even those so-called "experts" are not infallible. They didn't see the coming tsunami of the Tea Party in 2010 that swept into the House and effectively took control of DC. The Democrats were blindsided in that election, too, and we are all still suffering the consequences. In 2012, the women's vote was the deciding factor in re-electing Barack Obama to the presidency. Our democracy is a participatory institution, after all, and our government is as effective as we allow it to be. Special interests may have the money, but we have the numbers. Now we must show that we also have the will.

For the past year or so there has been a magnificent effort by Democrats and Progressives to fight back against big money interests in a handful of critical Senate races across the country. Throughout our history, in the face of terrible odds and adversity, the People have risen to the challenge when our democracy was teetering and ready to fail. Such is the case now. With the loss of just six Senate seats this cycle, that hallowed chamber would fall under the control of some of the most extreme right wing radicals we have ever seen in American history. There has been great heart and spirit in the Progressive campaign across the country to support Democrats and ensure they keep control of the Senate, make gains in the House and put more governorships under Democratic control. Progressives have come out in droves to provide a constant flow of small donations, volunteering, GOTV, phone banking, knocking on doors, registering new voters and anything else that helps the cause.

But it is the Senate that is garnering most of the attention in the country. Several critical races have been remarkably competitive this year, with Democrats fighting back against truckloads of out-of-state "dark" money funding vicious on-air attacks - and other dirty tricks - by Republicans. In 1998, the midterm election spending was $1.6 billion. This year, it is already at $4 billion, as noted by Chuck Todd on last Sunday's Meet The Press. That amount includes $50 million poured into Kentucky to help save the seat of 30-year incumbent Mitch McConnell from surging Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. Most of Mitch's support has been coming from his special interest "allies" like the Koch brothers and Karl Rove's various political front operations. Even so, last Friday "Senator Gridlock" was forced to loan his own campaign $1.8 million from his personal bank account. Mitch is clearly feeling the heat.

This race has long been neck-and-neck in the polls, and Mrs. Grimes has been outraising McConnell for months. Her campaign has caught on in 48 states, with almost 115,000 donors chipping in small donations, while weathering - according to The Center For Public Integrity - 41,336 attack ads that have been run in Kentucky from Mitch's side in this election, paid for by his millionaire and billionaire backers and lobbyists - hardly a grassroots effort. Indeed, according to an e-mail I just received from Alison's campaign, "(a)bout one in every seven TV ads in Kentucky's Senate race - about 12,000 of the more than 79,000 ads that have been aired through Monday - has been sponsored" by McConnell's big-money backers. Even so, two major Kentucky newspapers have now endorsed Alison, and rising Progressive star Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also made an appearance on her behalf, delivering her populist message this past Tuesday evening in Kentucky at an event for the candidate. Even Hillary Clinton campaigned with Alison last week to rally the women's vote. Mrs. Clinton will be returning on Saturday, and Bill Clinton has also made two trips to Kentucky in recent weeks. On Friday, Hillary swung through three New England states to help Democrats, including stopping in Massachusetts to campaign with Martha Coakley, who is running for Governor. Senator Warren has also been out there campaigning with other Senate candidates, while Vermont's Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has been talking to the people at town hall events in several states. Other nailbiter Senate races are in Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Georgia, Alaska and North Carolina, with the female candidates in a few of these states giving their old-boy opponents the fight of their political careers.

So what is the agenda of Mitch if he becomes Senate Majority Leader? Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, described in a recent article a secret meeting between Mitch and his mega-donors - including the Koch brothers - where he announced that if the Republicans take over the Senate and keep their majority in the House, they would slash services and agency budgets throughout the government: "...we're going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board. All across the federal government, we're going to go after it." And you can bet that would just be the tip of the iceberg, as McConnell and the radical Republicans would certainly also block all judicial appointments, try to impeach the President, takes steps to privatize Medicare and Social Security, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, push through more lousy trade agreements, further cut taxes for the über rich, continue their attacks on women's rights, and support more voter disenfranchisement - not to mention possibly engineer another government shutdown, if the mood should strike them. And certainly there would be no raise in the minimum wage - a bi-partisan issue if ever there was one - which would pump up the buying power of hardworking Americans to enable them to purchase the goods from those mega-corporations that support the GOP in the first place. Truly a win-win for all.

Further to the voting rights issue, they continue to be under siege in almost half of the states - how else could the 1% hope to have their lackeys win elections? On Bill Moyers' program Moyers & Company on PBS Sunday evening, we learned that in Texas 600,000 people will be disenfranchised and denied their right to vote. Bill devoted the entire program to voting, which revealed that 65 actions restricting voters' rights have taken place since Reconstruction. In Texas, student ID's are not acceptable, but gun permits are allowed for voting purposes. These laws unjustly target the poor, Latinos, African-Americans and the elderly, for to acquire a birth certificate would cost between $22 and $42 dollars and involve taking time off from work. Voter suppression is also taking place in the swing states - so if the vote can't be bought, it will be stolen. Of course, an all-white and wealthy voting majority is the aim of these foul efforts to deprive people of their right to vote.

Senator Chuck Schumer said on Meet The Press this past Sunday that the Democrats would hold the Senate and mentioned two key issues as determining factors in this election: the economy and the outsourcing of jobs. He might also have added that the GOP will have a rough row to hoe with the Latino community in this election, as they are plenty angry at the lack of forward motion on passing comprehensive immigration reform. The Senator should also have mentioned that if the Republicans take over the Senate and there is a loss of just one liberal Supreme Court justice, the potential blow to the country with a Republican-controlled Senate dictating the vote for a replacement would be catastrophic. Some impressive news, however, is that millions of GOTV calls have been made by the PCCC, DFA, PDA, Daily Kos and other partnering organizations, and they will continue up until the election. Motivating the Progressive base to show up in unprecedented numbers in this midterm election is paramount, and significant GOTV work is also being directed in South Dakota to ramp up voting by our Native American friends. We must hear from them.

So, when all is said and done, just what can the Republicans offer to the people of the United Sates if they are given the keys to the legislative branch of our government? They still cannot even articulate a positive message.The GOP's disapproval rating is at 72%, while the Dems' disapproval rating is at 67% and the President hovers around a 60% disapproval rating, which suggests Democrats and Progressives have much work to do to get our house in order as well. After the election, we must up our involvement in the efforts to amend the US Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United decision and press for public funding of campaigns with small individual donations and matching funds. After all, it's crazy that money can and does buy our elections and government - that has no place in a real democracy. And then our thinking will begin to turn to the Presidential election of 2016. Punditry again should not dictate that Hillary is a given for the Democrats. After all, it is our voice that should be heard, not theirs.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead, world-renowned cultural anthropologist in the early 20th Century

- with Jonathan Stone
07:46 GOP Hopes It Won't Need Immigration Reform To Win Over Colorado Latinos» Politics - The Huffington Post
DENVER -- Standing in her driveway in Aurora, Colorado, a diverse suburb just east of Denver, a woman listened impatiently on Monday as a 17-year-old canvasser from the Latino advocacy group Mi Familia Vota attempted to talk to her about the election. The canvasser, Daniela Alonzo, had tried to enter the yard, but the woman asked her to go back to the sidewalk to avoid her dog. So Alonzo spoke to her from across a short chain-link fence instead.

"Hi, my name is Daniela and I'm with Mi Familia Vota," she said. "We're just reminding people about the upcoming elections."

It was a gray, chilly day, and Alonzo had hours of canvassing left to do. The goal was to knock on 20 doors an hour. If someone answered, Alonzo would remind them about the election, ask which issues were most important to them, and give them a pledge card to sign to get more information. But she didn't get that far with the woman in the driveway.

"My phone won't stop ringing," the woman said, cutting her off. "I remember."

Latinos could decide the outcome of Colorado's Senate race, which could in turn determine which party controls the upper chamber. That makes Latinos' votes -- or their decision to stay home -- particularly important. Both parties know it. Republicans and Democrats in Colorado both say they're making unprecedented Latino voter outreach efforts this year. Voters are inundated with mailers, ads and, sometimes, canvassers. After years out of the spotlight, since 2012 the Latino population in Colorado has come front and center.

Both parties have different hurdles to clear in order to win Latinos' votes. For Democrats, it will mean reassuring a frustrated Latino community that has been let down repeatedly during the Obama years. Republicans, for their part, need to convince Latino voters that they're not the caricatures that Democrats make them out to be, particularly on immigration.

If Republicans prevail, particularly Senate hopeful Cory Gardner and incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman, the GOP may rethink the way it approaches elections to come. Not too long ago, the party thought it needed to pass comprehensive immigration reform to stand a chance in states with large Latino populations. Now, Republicans may find solace in a formula that relies instead on softened rhetoric, aggressive voter outreach, a touch of Spanish speaking, and support for only piecemeal elements of immigration reform.

Polling shows that the Senate race is extremely close, with Gardner up slightly against Sen. Mark Udall (D). In a contest this tight, Latinos could be pivotal. It's been projected that 162,000 Latinos are likely to vote in Colorado this cycle, up 12.5 percent from the last midterm election in 2010, when Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) won despite a tea party wave.

A Pew Research Center poll released Oct. 29 found that for more than half of registered Latino voters -- 54 percent -- a candidate's stance on immigration wasn't a deal-breaker, so long as there was agreement on other issues. Still, immigration remains a highly personal issue for many Latinos, including in Colorado, where the polling group Latino Decisions recently found that 53 percent of Latino voters know someone who is undocumented.

Matt Barreto from Latino Decisions said that enthusiasm and interest in voting among Colorado Latinos is actually higher than in other states. He thinks polls have underestimated the Latino vote, and said that if turnout matches 2010 levels, those voters could end up lifting Udall to victory.

"At the end of the day, the candidates themselves have to make specific appeals and convince Latino voters to come out and vote for them, and we're still waiting to see if that has been developing and how strong Udall and Gardner have been in personally reaching out," Barreto told The Huffington Post. "The voters themselves seem to be enthusiastic and interested in voting."

The first pillar of the Republicans' new strategy is relatively simple: Have a presence in Latino communities. After disastrous results with Latino voters in 2012, the Republican National Committee upped its outreach in Colorado. Jennifer Korn, who leads Latino outreach efforts at the RNC, told HuffPost that in past years, the party used to "parachute in" just before the election, which made it difficult to counteract Democratic messaging. Now, she said, Latinos are disappointed with Democrats on immigration. That gives an opening to Republicans like Gardner and Coffman, both of whom she described as pro-reform.

"[Republican candidates] can talk about it in a way, because they're on the ground, that shows that the narrative that Democrats are trying to paint is not true," Korn said.

In particular, Coffman's handling of his race could serve as a future template for other Republicans. He represents an increasingly diverse district, and has moderated his previously tough anti-reform stance in order to win over a growing Latino population.

The Colorado Republican once called the Dream Act, the bill that would allow undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children to become citizens, a "nightmare." In 2013, he signed an amicus brief in support of Arizona's hard-line immigration law meant to drive out undocumented immigrants. Now, however, he's sponsoring a bill that would allow Dreamers to join the military and eventually earn citizenship, and has voiced support for allowing undocumented immigrants to gain legal status.

It's not just a legislative evolution. Coffman has also learned Spanish, and even debated his Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff, entirely in Spanish on Thursday evening. (Romanoff has been fluent for more than 25 years, after spending time living in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.)

"I think Mike is rewriting the playbook for Republicans," said Tyler Sandberg, Coffman's campaign manager.

But immigration advocates aren't convinced that Coffman is a changed man. They commend him for learning Spanish but say he is trying to obscure the areas where his views remain at odds with those of most Latinos. Coffman still does not support a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented immigrant population at large, and he joined a House Republican conference that blocked comprehensive immigration reform efforts. Unlike other Republicans from Latino-heavy districts, Coffman chose not to sign on to the House's version of the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate.

"Instead of supporting policies that actually help our communities, he's taking Spanish classes, going to Latino markets and doing outreach," Angelina Sandoval, a student at University of Colorado Denver, said during a small anti-Coffman press conference held by Latino groups on Wednesday. "While reaching out to our communities is admirable, it's merely smoke and mirrors."

Gardner is a similar case. Like Coffman, he has attempted to reshape his image on immigration as tough but fair. He calls for border security first and opposes a "special" pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but has said that he expects legal status to be part of an eventual solution. It's a clever rhetorical maneuver to avoid saying whether he actually wants that to be part of the solution. Gardner's hedging has frustrated his opponents, who say he's avoiding taking a clear stance.

Conservative immigration reform supporters say Gardner would be likely to help with future efforts if he becomes part of the Senate. Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of American Principles in Action's Latino Partnership, said when announcing his support for Gardner on Tuesday that he thinks a Senate GOP-authored immigration reform bill would be more likely to pass through both chambers of Congress.

"We've been played by Democrats on the immigration issue," he told HuffPost in a phone interview. "It's been six years, nothing has happened, and we have to change the dynamic. I really do believe from my conversations with Republicans, and conservative Republicans, and even tea party-aligned Republicans in the House and Senate, that they want to do something."

It won't be easy for Gardner to pull this off. Republicans want to win over Latinos in the long term, but for this election, they have to contend simultaneously with pro-immigration-reform Latino voters and other GOP supporters who are less open to reform.

On Tuesday, Gardner spoke to about 100 supporters in a small, packed campaign office in the liberal enclave of Boulder. The attendees were mostly gray-haired and white, and when they filed out of the office to find immigration advocates protesting the event, their reactions ranged from confusion to mockery to outright aggression.

There were about a dozen protesters outside the event, most of them young and some undocumented. They chanted, "Gardner is wack. He's trying to take my DACA back," referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation. One Gardner supporter, with well-coifed gray hair and pearls, walked up to the protesters and yelled "Ahhhhhh!" in their faces. A man with a ponytail and cowboy hat grabbed a "DETECT. DETAIN. DEPORT" sign from his car and waved it at the protesters.

Standing nearby, a man named Charles who had attended the Gardner event remarked that Mexico puts unauthorized immigrants in a gas chamber and the U.S. should, too. Otherwise, he said, they'd just come back after being deported.

He said he knew Gardner didn't agree with him on that, nor did the candidate agree that every undocumented immigrant should be deported.

"He's more liberal on immigration than I am," lamented Charles, who declined to give his last name.

Gardner was inside the campaign office for most of the confrontation. When he walked out, he didn't acknowledge the protest or his supporters yelling back. Instead, he made a sharp turn and quickly walked away.

It's episodes like these that have convinced immigration reform advocates that Gardner is merely a wolf in sheep's clothing. They note his opposition to a pathway to citizenship, his lack of support for the Dream Act and his vote to defund the DACA program as evidence that he's more foe than friend. Gardner later shifted on DACA by voting in August against ending the program, but advocates haven't forgotten his previous position.

Sonia Marquez, an organizer with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, has been pushing Gardner for years to support a pathway to citizenship. She said it was frustrating to watch him refuse to budge while serving in the House, and she's worried that his influence on the matter will expand dramatically if he ends up in the Senate.

“Once we heard about him running for the Senate, you have to see what a shock that is for us," Marquez told HuffPost. "It's such a slap in the face to have been trying to move him on this issue, that is so very important to us, and that is so important to the entire state of Colorado."

It's unclear how much time and resources the Gardner campaign is investing to alleviate concerns like these. Although the Colorado Republican Party, RNC and outside groups have run Spanish-language ads in the state for months, Gardner waited until Wednesday -- less than a week before the election -- to run his own. His campaign did not return repeated requests for comment for this article.

The Udall campaign, in contrast, has been running Spanish-language ads since August. The senator speaks about immigration in his stump speeches and voted for the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill. He has also criticized the president for delaying executive action on immigration.

Chris Harris, a spokesman for Udall, argued that Latinos see through Gardner's softened tone and associate him more with immigration hawks like former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), than with the pro-reform Republican caucus.

"He hasn't actually softened his policies," Harris said. "He's softened his language. He's never been as offensive as how he's talked about it as Tancredo or Steve King. But when the rubber hits the road and it's time to vote, he votes with them time and time again."

Romanoff makes a similar critique of Coffman. During the Thursday evening debate, the Democrat said Coffman "has voted against all of our priorities" on immigration. The district should be represented by a candidate who supports immigration reform "not just in days before an election, but in their whole career," Romanoff said. For his part, Romanoff conducts a weekly radio interview in Spanish, has visited Latino-owned small businesses, stopped by a citizenship class and held get out the vote events specifically aimed at Latinos.

Despite the critiques from Democrats and activists that their calls for piecemeal immigration reform are just a political ploy, Coffman and Gardner have a good chance of winning. Their victories could lead the GOP to adopt a new national strategy for winning Latino votes in years to come.

On the other hand, if Democrats do end up pulling out an unexpected victory on the strength of the Latino vote, they'll have a network of pro-reform advocates to thank. Groups like Mi Familia Vota and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition have put considerable time into canvassing. But in doing so, they're running into the proverbial wind. Patty Kupfer, the managing director for the pro-immigration reform group America's Voice, told HuffPost in Denver that advocates feel that Democratic campaigns, particularly Udall's, could be doing more on immigration. Certainly, more help from the campaigns would make get out the vote efforts easier.

"I almost feel like if he wins and a lot of Latino voters turn out, it's going to be because of our efforts, not his campaign," Kupfer said.
07:43 Murder for Hire» Politics - The Huffington Post
These, in the days when heaven was falling. . .
Followed their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.
A. E. Housman,
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

At first blush it seemed like a great idea and the only question it raises is why in the world no one in the administration suggested it. Of course its mention causes the reader to contemplate the not so savory role in Iraq of Blackwater, a firm founded and formerly headed by Erik Prince and that contemplation explains why it's not as good an idea as it at first seemed. It also explains why Mr. Prince's assertion that the October 22, 2014 verdict against four of his former employees was politically motivated is not believable.

A Congressional Report found Blackwater personnel were involved in almost 200 shootings in Iraq between 2005 and 2007. December 24, 2006, a drunken Blackwater guard shot one of the men guarding Iraq Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi. February 4, 2007 an Iraqi journalist was killed, February 7 three men guarding an Iraqi state television station were killed, September 9 five people near a government building were killed, September 12 five people were wounded in eastern Baghdad and, on September 16 seventeen Iraqis were killed in Nisour Square, shootings for which the verdicts of guilty against Blackwater employees were returned on October 22, 2014. In addition to having been accused of shooting many Iraqi civilians while in Iraq, the company earned more than $1 billion.

On February 25, 2010 Senator Carl Levin wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to investigate whether Xe (Blackwater's new name) made false or misleading statements when bidding for a contract in Afghanistan. He also wrote Secretary of Defense Robert Gates describing corrupt practices the company might have engaged in and requesting its activities be investigated. He said the Department of Defense "should review the transcript of this hearing and consider the deficiencies in Blackwater's performance . . . before a decision is made to award the police training work [in Afghanistan] to Blackwater." On June 21, 2010 it was reported Blackwater had been awarded a $120 million contract for providing "protective security services" at new U.S. consulates in Afghanistan.

A few days before the October verdict against the Blackwater defendants was returned, Mr. Prince came up with his good idea. He suggested that if the United States was unwilling to send in ground troops to combat the Islamic State, it should "let the private sector finish the job." Although finishing the job seems like an optimistic description of what is required to defeat Islamic State, that does not take away from the appeal of Mr. Prince's suggestion since it obviates the need for both U.S. and other foreign troops to get into what is sure to be a difficult task with a multitude of political problems.

Readers may wonder why the U.S. ever uses private contactors. It was all explained by then CIA Director, Leon Panetta, in a 2010 interview on ABC news. He said that in a war zone "we have needs for security. . . . Unfortunately, there are few companies that provide that kind of security. The State Department relies on them. . . . to a certain extent. So we bid out some of those contracts. They [Blackwater] outbid everyone else by about $26 million." Private contractors are still an integral part of our efforts in Afghanistan. In an interview with Rachel Martin on NPR on October 26, 2014, one of the guests said that as recently as late summer the United States had 35,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan and 52,000 private contractors.

Mr. Prince is now chairman of Hong Kong-listed Frontier Services Group, that operates in Africa and provides "innovative, cost-effective, sustainable solutions to [clients] logistical, infrastructure, transport, and supply chain challenges. We are bold in our approach, agile in our response, and resourceful in our solutions." Notwithstanding his former company's record in Iraq, he still sees the benefit of private armies such as the one he used to run. In a column he wrote entitled "Thoughts on Countering ISIS" he said: "If the old Blackwater team were still together, I have high confidence that a multi-brigade size unit of veteran American contractors or a multi-national force could be rapidly assembled and deployed to be that necessary ground combat team. The professionals would be hired for their combat skills in armor, artillery, small unit tactics, special operations, logistics, and whatever else may be needed. . . . If the Administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job."

If it were not for memory, that might seem like a great idea. Memory of Blackwater's conduct in Iraq, however, remains with us. Christopher Brauchli can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com
07:40 On My Candidacy» Politics - The Huffington Post
Are you Pro-Choi?

I'm still on the frontline: this time for my school. After a long battle to end the oppressive "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military, I wanted to restart my life. Like most veterans, I felt strange coming home from war: bewildered, often isolated, learning freedom, finding community. Easy tasks for some, but impossible without the support, mentorship, and love of a caring family. There is little wonder why 22 veterans commit suicide every day. So while I wanted to live my life and enjoy the diversity of my new home after having endured war, homophobia, and vindictive prosecutions, I knew I wouldn't last long as just a student at a community college studying vocal music and beginning Spanish. Those who recognized me from my activism sat me down with an urgency only a fellow activist can impart: "You can't just sit on your ass, Choi. We need you! Our school is under attack." So for the first time in my life I decided to run for political office. Why?

In tough times, we have a choice: scapegoat the poor and legislate them out of town, or give them opportunities for second chances. My school, The City College of San Francisco, is the largest community college in America. We are under attack by conservatives who want to rob the poor, the undocumented, the formerly incarcerated, the combat veterans, the minorities - all of us - of our second chances. They want to stop us from reinventing our lives, improving ourselves and finding upward mobility. Well-funded groups like A.L.E.C. (The American Legislative Exchange Council) and their friends at Koch Industries want to shut down my school, as a first domino in the larger struggle against public resources and opportunities for the most vulnerable in our society.


My school is amazingly diverse: the best LGBT studies program I've ever seen in all my college visits (you can take "Transphobia" and "Gay Male Relationships" for credit this semester) as well as Women's, Ethnic and Performing Arts programs that truly represent the local community. My school is one place you don't need a Social Security number to register and build a transcript: so important for undocumented immigrants, formerly incarcerated, and soldiers unfairly discharged. This is one place where we can be judged not on our past, but the future. A place we are seen for our potential.

The stakes have never been higher. San Francisco is currently embroiled in a fight for affordable housing, not to mention an enormous homeless crisis that has never been addressed beyond rhetoric and stop-gap measures that may help ambitious politicians seek higher office but in practice, prove reckless and inept at best. The homeless resources at City College, the sanctuary that San Francisco has always been, the veterans resources and community found at my school: this to me, is a way forward. I will work with our Sheriff, a fellow Iraq War Combat Veteran, to bring City College classes into the prisons, so freed prisoners, having paid their debt, can find jobs and be productive, responsible members of society with skills and empowerment to help them lead their new chapters in life. I got my second chance, why shouldn't we all?


I want City College to increase its veterans support. We already lead the nation with our full time mental health clinic for all of us who have suffered from the ravages of war: Post Traumatic Stress, Survivor Guilt, and Military Sexual Trauma. My petition calls for more community colleges to follow our lead. I want to see our students thrive whether they found San Francisco after a life of abuse, rejection, oppression or isolation. This is the Hope of Harvey Milk, the Dream of Martin Luther King.

I want all my friends, all around the world to help me in this fight to save Public Education, to defend the largest community college in the nation, to stand in the gap when others hide, to choose to fight for "the least of these, my brothers" when it is far too easy to scapegoat and look down on the hardest hit, the most vulnerable. My college is a stepping stone: not for politicians, but for 100,000 of my fellow students reaching for a new life. We deserve better. We fight today, to protect our institution. In order to affect change, some sat on buses, others sat in Zuccotti Park. But when our school is under attack, the most noble form of civil disobedience is sitting in the classroom. For in its inception there is the attainment of knowledge and in its success is the perpetuation of wisdom, the true prize of any direct action.

So, I raise my right hand once again, to take a stand. And I need you to join me.

Lt. Dan Choi


About the Author: Army Lieutenant Dan Choi came out on the Rachel Maddow TV Show in an act of civil disobedience during the era of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and fought for years to end the policy. A tireless LGBT Equality activist who got arrested time and again in front of the White House, or in Moscow's Red Square, Lt. Choi was federally prosecuted for his advocacy and suffered many health problems. Now he reemerges as a first time candidate for public office, to serve as a Trustee overseeing his community college district, in San Francisco, CA. He is the only openly gay, openly Asian, openly veteran and current student running in a hotly contested race, but his motivation goes beyond winning a local campaign. www.pro-choi.com
07:39 “The Five” did a remarkably moving segment on assisted suicide» Salon.com
The hosts opened up when discussing Brittany Maynard's plight

07:39 Are you planning on wearing a racist Halloween costume? Consult this handy flowchart» Salon.com
Not sure you should wear blackface? Wondering about that swastika? This will help you decide

07:39 Stephen Colbert learns a valuable midterm lesson from “Star Trek” and George Takei» Salon.com
There is no magic voting machine (that also incinerates money)

07:31 The Only 4 People Really Running on November 4» Politics - The Huffington Post
This post is co-authored with Jesse Gordon, Editor-in-Chief of On The Issues, and Steve Hilton, Founder and CEO of CrowdPAC.

There are only four people really running in the November 4 Midterm Elections and your choice will change America.

The President is not running. The Vice President is not running. But the third and fourth most important positions in America are up for grabs on November 4 ... and these two leaders, and their own philosophies and policies will control Congress, Washington, DC and The United States for the next two years!


From left to right, the candidates for the Speaker of the House, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, and the candidates for Senate Majority Leader, Mitch Mcconnell and Harry Reid.

And the differences could not be more dramatic. Here, in very simplified form, are just some of those differences. Since there are, of course, many more details and nuances than we can include in a one phrase statement, no matter how accurate that phrase is, we encourage you to consult www.JohnBoehner.house.gov, www.Pelosi.house.gov, www.McConnell.Senate.gov, www.Reid.Senate.gov for more information on these four leaders, check out some of the resources listed at the bottom or call The US Capitol Switchboard at 202 224 3121 and ask to speak to their staffs.



The two people elected to these two positions will control The United States Congress and, in many cases, are even more important than The President of The United States. They decide who chairs every committee, they decide what bills can even be voted on, and when (if ever) they will be voted on and everything else that happens in their house of Congress.

Here, courtesy of our friends at CROWDPAC, is a visual representation of the very deep differences between these 4 candidates, on a continuum. It shows that Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are solidly Liberal in their philosophies and policies and that Republicans Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are solidly Conservative in their philosophies and policies. Some can call this "gridlock" but isn't it what America and Democracy are really all about? On November 4 over 300 Million Americans have a clear, and powerful CHOICE between two very different visions and futures of America. You can learn more at www.Crowdpac.com.


So, how do I vote for one or the other of these people?

It's very simple. Forget all the TV and radio and internet ads.

- If you want John Boehner, and his set of philosophies and policies to run The House of Representatives, vote for the Republican running for Congress from your District.

- If you want Nancy Pelosi, and her set of philosophies and policies to run The House, vote for the Democrat.

- If you want Mitch McConnell and his set of philosophies and policies to run the Senate, vote for the Republican running for Senate in your State.

- If you want Harry Reid and his set of philosophies and policies to run the Senate, vote for the Democrat running for Senate in your State.

When you vote for a candidate running for the House of Representatives or for the Senate and they go back to Washington, their first job and their first vote is for the Speaker of the House of Representatives or for the Majority Leader of the Senate. These incredibly important positions are elected by a majority in both of those houses.

So, if the Republicans get a majority of the 435 members of the house, (218 or more) they will elect a Republican Speaker of the House. In this case that will likely be John Boehner.

If the Democrats gain the majority on November 4, they will likely elect Nancy Pelosi.

In the Senate it's the same process. If the Democrats keep the majority of 51 or more of the 100 senators, then Harry Reid will be Majority Leader. If the Republicans "take over" and have a total of 51 or more senators, then Mitch McConnell will likely be the next Senate Majority Leader.

And, if we can elect a Republican Speaker and a Republican Majority Leader or a Democratic Speaker and a Democratic Majority Leader there's a good chance that we can completely break the gridlock in Congress and change the face of politics in America in one day -- November 4.

That's how important Midterm Elections can be!

Who you vote for in YOUR District and State determines which two of these four people will run Congress, and that will determine the policies, the solutions and the very direction of our country for the next two years, and beyond!

For more information on all of the candidates running in The 2014 Midterm Elections visit these terrific sites:

www.OnTheIssues.com: Nancy Pelosi: http://www.ontheissues.org/CA/Nancy_Pelosi.htm, John Boehner: ,http://www.ontheissues.org/OH/John_Boehner.htm, Harry Reid: http://www.ontheissues.org/senate/harry_reid.htm Mitch McConnell:,http://www.ontheissues.org/senate/mitch_mcconnell.htm.

And, also: www.CrowdPAC.org, www.CommonSenseAction.org, www.IStandWith.com.

07:29 Caution! White House Israel 'Strategery' Ahead» Politics - The Huffington Post
Between the incredible shrinking anti-Islamic State coalition and a childish, churlish war of words against America's steadfast ally, Israel, the boys and girls on Obama's national security staff are certainly doing their best to help Democrats lose more seats on the eve of the congressional elections.

As if they did not have enough to worry about, several NSC staff found time in between crises to rush out to the White House schoolyard and hurl all sorts of unprintable ad hominem profanity at Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu the other day.

Let's just say that the taunts did not graduate beyond junior high level. That, my friends, passes in this White House as reasoned, mature, presidential-caliber foreign policy.

Say what you will about Mr. Netanyahu (and I have certainly said a bucketful in these pages, of late), but craven insults emanating from anonymous White House staff against a leader of one of our remaining few friends in the world further proves this team is incapable of providing reasoned national security stewardship.

The war of words proves but one thing: This NSC Middle East staff is down for the count, out of ideas, spiteful, and acting like it is below the age of consumption managing a Pandora's Box of a Middle East portfolio. Sinking to vitriolic name calling from the confines of the White House is the equivalent of a beaten, bloody boxer refusing to vacate the ring, having not a decent punch left, only a mouthful of spit.

Let's inject some reality here. The horrific Sunni-Shiite conflict gripping the Syria and Iraq has will have a growing, direct impact on America's national security. The Islamic State's army of death is advancing mile by mile each day to Baghdad despite punishing U.S.-led airstrikes against it. Lebanon and Jordan are becoming unstable. Our hypothetical NATO ally, Turkey, is playing the U.S. and other NATO allies like a Stradivarius to vanquish its Kurdish problem. The fate of a nuclear deal with Iran is hanging by a centrifuge thread. And in the thick of these endless maelstroms, the White House is treating Israel, not Iran, as if it is our real adversary in the Middle East! Huh??

Granted, Mr. Netanyahu has caused many a president to reach in the medicine cabinet for Prozac. I recall in 1996, when I was envoy in Morocco, President Clinton inherited the "Bibi burden" following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. But instead of stooping to un-presidential tantrums (or egging on his staff to do it for him) President Clinton took the high road and kept the U.S-Israeli relationship on a straight track.

It seems that the essential and telling difference between President Clinton and Barack Obama when it comes to this Israeli leader is that Bill Clinton always ensured that the historical, mutually beneficial alliance with Israel remained on rock solid ground despite the occasional ups and downs. Clinton also had a respected, seasoned Middle East national security staff -- which helps.

Yes, I prefer Israel end the needless, provocative settlement construction. I prefer Israel resume direct negotiations in good faith with the Palestinians and better cooperate in the humanitarian relief of Gaza's population. Netanyahu could do much more to tamp down those in his own government who consider it sport to criticize the U.S. And Netanyahu is way too flip circling the Likud wagons against a rising tide of global anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Israel vindictiveness. Israel simply cannot afford to be isolated and under threat from more adversaries -- it has enough enemies in its own neighborhood already.

But the vast majority of the American people -- evidenced in poll after poll -- prefer a strong Israel, closely allied with the United States. Americans instinctively understand the relationship is not a one way street. They know that through thick and thin when it comes down to the short hairs, and at times way outside public view, Israel has and continues to provide us vital support and intelligence to aid our own national security. The successful counter-terrorism exploits occasionally leak out from the confines of former Israeli and U.S. intelligence officials showcasing their critical value to American security and a rare prize for us when U.S. allies are in short supply.

I was recently in Israel. Israelis are deeply concerned that their essential bond with the U.S. is under unprecedented duress since they respect the role America plays in Israel's defense and economic growth -- just as Israelis are proud of the technological and medical advances that have saved Americans at home and protected American servicemen abroad. The U.S.-built Iron Dome anti-missile system saved thousands of Israeli lives during Hamas' missile war on Israel's civilian population -- there is not one Israeli who is not grateful for that American-engineered shield of security.

Eventually, the mudslinging will end -- because it must. Perhaps cooler heads with some wisdom and maturity will take charge of the White House school yard. But Israel's prime minister has been playing a bit fast and loose himself. He also has a solemn obligation to respect this historical alliance -- for he is just one more Israeli leader in a chain of Israeli leaders who must turn the U.S. bond baton over to his successor. If he drops it, Israelis will never forgive him -- because their security depends on it.
07:29 LePage backs down in fight with nurse, but still issues stupid threats» Daily Kos
Governor Paul R. LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen.
Gov. Paul LePage
Kaci Hickox, the nurse who made the bullying Gov. Chris Christie back down when he imposed an involuntary quarantine on her, has now forced Gov. Paul LePage to back down on his insane quarantine demands. Originally, LePage insisted on a strict in-home quarantine for the nurse, saying he would use "the full extent of his authority allowable by law" to keep her in her home. Now LePage has backed down, and given a nod to reality, and the state has now filed a petition to force Hickox to follow CDC's guidelines. That means Hickox could leave her home, but would have to avoid close contact with the public. According to the state's filing, a hearing must be in the next 3-10 days, by statute.

But that doesn't mean LePage is going to stop being a total bully. No, as Wonkette discovers, he's inciting the people of Maine to step in.

"Right now, she can come out of the house if she wants, but we can't protect her when she does that. The reason there's a police car there when she does that is to protect her more than anybody. 'Cause the last thing I want is for her to get hurt," he said. "But at the same token, her behavior is really riling a lot of people up, and I can only do what I can do. And we're trying to protect her, but she's not acting as smart as she probably should."
Nice. Meanwhile, Hickox remains perfectly healthy. And there's still just one Ebola patient hospitalized in the U.S. And there are still no friends or family members, or people who were in a plane or a bowling alley or a house with former Ebola patients who have become ill.
07:24 Inside The Southern Baptists’ New, Media-Savvy Approach To Homosexuality» ThinkProgress

The Southern Baptist Convention's change in tone (if not theology) on LGBT issues is due in large part to the leadership of Russell Moore.

The post Inside The Southern Baptists’ New, Media-Savvy Approach To Homosexuality appeared first on ThinkProgress.

07:24 FBI Seeks Massive Expansion Of Surveillance Powers» ThinkProgress

The new rule being proposed by the FBI could potentially give the agency authority to spy on hundred of millions of people around the world.

The post FBI Seeks Massive Expansion Of Surveillance Powers appeared first on ThinkProgress.

07:24 Republican official posts crude sex drawing attacking gay Pennsylvania legislator» Salon.com
A heated campaign against a Republican-turned-Democrat gets downright homophobic

07:24 Amanda Palmer refuses to take a stand on Jian Ghomeshi» Salon.com
Palmer has a history of courting fake controversy, but this is a bad idea

07:21 What Rhymes With Sue Me? Robin Thicke, ‘Blurred Lines’ Creators Suffer Setback In Federal Court» ThinkProgress
07:19 Find Your Polling Place By Zip Code» Politics - The Huffington Post
The midterm elections take place Tuesday, Nov. 4, and control of the Senate is one of the many things at stake.

You can find your polling place by entering your zip code in the tool below, created by The Pew Charitable Trusts in partnership with Google.

In addition to finding out where to vote, you can use the tool -- which uses official state data and doesn't require you to enter any personally identifiable information -- to learn about voter ID requirements in your state and get information on candidates running this year.

07:18 A Millennial's Perspective on What a Jim Inhofe Chairmanship Could Mean» Politics - The Huffington Post
I owe many things to science.

Science has touched every facet of my life and on a broader scale has touched every facet of our existence as human beings.

It's the reason we can have clean water to drink, the reason we can enjoy a life expectancy over 40 and the reason why we are no longer left to wonder about the particles that comprise our cells and make life possible.

Science is enlightenment and science is power yet science must also be valued and respected.

Science is neither partisan nor political and it never should be.

Unfortunately denying science has become a prevalent position in this country and more critically one amongst our political leaders.

Denial that our global climate patterns are changing as direct result of human activity has become an acceptable viewpoint and even more dishearteningly a counter-view to belief in facts.

If the polls and pundits are right, next week, Democrats will likely lose control of the Senate and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)--a man who denies climate change--will gain the chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

This is the same man who calls the consensus of 97% of climate scientists that our planet is warming due to human activity a hoax--he's even written a book about it.

Fortunately for him, at 80 years old, Senator Inhofe will never have to live with the consequences of his actions denying science.

He will likely never see how shifting weather patterns will alter where we live, what we eat and how we adapt to water scarcity. He will likely never see the wheat crops of his native state of Oklahoma suffer as result of unpredictable rain patterns.

Senator Inhofe will be allowed to enjoy spreading incredibly dangerous rhetoric for a few more years for his political gain and will then pass leaving a struggling planet in the hands of younger generations.

This sounds awfully convenient.

I am a millennial, a staunch believer in science and I think it is a shame that this man will be given an opportunity to chair a committee whose central jurisdiction is that of science.

As the most powerful country on this planet what sort of message does it send that a man who has no interest in protecting it will be given this title? And while Senator Inhofe potentially may not even see comprehensive climate legislation come through his future committee, I think it's jarring symbolism that a man of his convictions should be granted a Chairmanship.

It shouldn't be a wishful aspiration of mine that our elected officials have regard for the condition of the planet they are leaving my generation--it is the right thing to do.

If the term "climate change" is too controversial then let's not use it.

Let us simply, as citizens of this Earth, accept the conclusions of science as we have been doing for millennia.

Our political differences should not cloud our judgment that this planet is warming and changing, their role will come to play when we must determine how to deal with the ramifications of this phenomenon.

That will be a separate struggle, but for now let's start with holding our politicians accountable to science and not its denial.
07:17 After Nurse Defied Voluntary Ebola Quarantine, Maine Asks Court To Restrict Her Movements» Politics - The Huffington Post
FORT KENT, Maine (AP) — Maine health officials have asked a court to limit the movements of nurse Kaci Hickox, who defied a voluntary quarantine for medical workers who have treated Ebola patients.

Officials filed documents Thursday, following through with a threat to try to isolate her.

A judge has issued a temporary order until a ruling expected Friday. For now, police are monitoring Hickox and her public interactions but cannot detain her.

The quarantine attempt is shaping up as the nation's biggest test case yet in the struggle to balance public health and fear of Ebola against personal freedom.

Hickox, who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, says confinement violates her rights. She says that she has no symptoms and poses no risk to the public.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

In between going on a bike ride and taking delivery of a pizza, nurse Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend did chores and watched a movie while state officials struggled to reach a compromise in a standoff that has become the nation's most closely watched clash between personal freedom and fear of Ebola.

The nurse who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, purposefully rode their bikes away from town on a dirt path to avoid coming into contact with people.

"We're not trying to push any limits here. We're members of this community, too, and we want to make people comfortable," he told reporters Thursday evening.

Hickox, who returned to the U.S. last week, has been under what Maine is calling a voluntary quarantine at her home in this town of 4,300 people.

She has rebelled against the restrictions, saying that her rights are being violated and that she is no threat to others because she has no symptoms. She tested negative last weekend for Ebola, though it can take days for the virus to reach detectable levels.

State officials said that they were seeking a court order to require a quarantine through Nov. 10, the end of the 21-day incubation period for the Ebola virus.

But it was unclear Friday whether the state had gone to court or whether there had been any progress in negotiations aimed at a compromise.

Friday morning, Fort Kent Police Chief Tom Pelletier went inside the home briefly and said afterward, "We just had a good conversation." He said he was not there to arrest or detain Hickox.

Gov. Paul LePage said state attorneys and Hickox's lawyers had discussed a scaled-down quarantine that would have allowed her to go for walks, runs and bicycle rides while preventing her from venturing into populated public places or coming within 3 feet of others.

"I was ready and willing — and remain ready and willing — to reasonably address the needs of health care workers meeting guidelines to assure the public health is protected," he said.

Hickox stepped into the media glare when she returned from West Africa to become subject to a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey. After an uproar, she was released and traveled more than 600 miles to the small town on the Canadian border where she lives with her boyfriend.

Reporters have camped out at their home.

Wilbur said he and Hickox spent the day Thursday vacuuming, cleaning, doing laundry and watching a movie, "The Avengers." He said he also spent four hours attending class via phone. He has agreed to stay away from the University of Maine at Fort Kent for the time being.

During their hour-long bike ride, they were followed by an unmarked state police cruiser. Later, they took delivery of a pizza.

States have broad authority under long-established law to quarantine people to prevent the spread of disease. In Maine, state law allows a judge to confine someone if health officials demonstrate "a clear and immediate public health threat."

President Barack Obama and humanitarian groups have warned that such measures could cripple the fight against the disease at its source by discouraging volunteers like Hickox from going to West Africa, where the outbreak has sickened more than 13,000 people and killed nearly 5,000 of them.

"The volunteers are heroes to the people they help, and they are heroes to our own countries. They should be treated like heroes when they return," Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in Brussels.

In other developments:

— Ebola fears infected a medical conference on the subject. Louisiana state health officials told thousands of doctors planning to attend a tropical-diseases meeting this weekend in New Orleans to stay away if they have been to certain African countries or have had contact with an Ebola patient in the last 21 days.

— Liberia is making some progress in containing the outbreak, while Sierra Leone is "in a crisis situation which is going to get worse," the top anti-Ebola officials in the two countries said.

— The World Bank announced it will give an additional $100 million to help bring in more foreign health workers. That raises the money it has given to the fight to $500 million.


Associated Press writers David Sharp and Patrick Whittle in Portland contributed to this story.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
07:14 Scientists: Cancel Maine Shrimp Season Again Because Of Rising Ocean Temperatures» ThinkProgress

Maine's governor, Paul LePage, has questioned the science behind climate change, opposed clean energy policies, and talked up the economic benefits of global warming.

The post Scientists: Cancel Maine Shrimp Season Again Because Of Rising Ocean Temperatures appeared first on ThinkProgress.

07:13 Millennials Openly Defy the Obamacare Mandate» Politics - The Huffington Post
A few days before the election, the divisive Affordable Care Act (ACA) is back in the headlines once again. According to new data from Enroll America, there was a steep drop in the number of uninsured Americans aged 18-34. The New York Times hailed millennials as some of "the biggest winners from the law."

Hidden in the spin is the fact that the law has barely made a dent with millennials; two-thirds of uninsured millennials remain uninsured. It's true that large government programs need time to raise awareness, but millennials are hyper-connected to news through technology and social networks. They know about the law. They know about the mandate to buy insurance or pay a fine.

They simply don't care.

Millennials are openly defying the government mandate and thumbing their noses at legislators who continue to ignore the issues critical to young Americans. They're fed up with government forcing them to pay for the poor financial decisions of previous generations.

In the recovery from the 2008-2009 recession, young Americans were left behind. Washington gave bailouts to real estate gamblers and the stagnant automotive industry, while millennials struggling with crushing student loan debt got a token reduction in interest rates. And now comes the ACA, extorting millennials into subsidizing seniors through insurance plans they don't want or need. For those younger than 26, they get coverage through their parents, but it's a band-aid rather than a cure. Minimum wage hikes and the institutionalization of unpaid internships are killing the post-graduation job market for young workers. In effect, their ability to gain financial independence is just pushed down the road.

Financial independence is hard to imagine for the 7-in-10 recent graduates with an average of nearly $30,000 in educational debt. It makes the ACA penalty -- up to one percent of their income -- a laughable expense for millennials. They don't have jobs to be taxed. And they know it's virtually unenforceable due to additions to the final ACA bill that restricted the ability of the IRS to collect. Failure to signup for health insurance isn't an oversight or an act of laziness. It's an act of outright rebellion.

Millennials have no fear of repercussions for defying the government. They make up 40 percent of America's unemployed. They would love to have health insurance, but they prioritize finding a job and gaining financial independence. It's insult to injury that the millennial unemployment rate is nearly twice that of Baby Boomers and yet the government wants healthy young workers to foot the tab for a healthcare system bankrupted by seniors.

As their prospects fail to improve and the "newspaper of record" deigns to call them winners, millennials are a swing voting bloc again, according to an unsurprising new study released by Harvard this week. Democrats' commanding lead with young voters has evaporated, a stunning development considering that President Barack Obama's 2008 victory was the largest landslide among young voters since exit polling began in 1972.

Millennials blame the party in the White House for their economic problems, the injustice of the healthcare law and the lack of respect for young people in Washington, DC. But that's reductive and likely to incite pundits on both sides to start a flame war that won't benefit millennials or anyone else. The truth is that neither party gives a crap about millennials except on Election Day. Young Americans don't have money or influence to offer. They don't yet have the life skills to outwit older generations. And they're too busy grasping for the bottom rung of the economic ladder to have the time or energy to fight entrenched political parties.

But floating to the political middle is not an act that can be dismissed as youthful disobedience. What they lack in dollars, millennials will soon make up in population. By 2020, millennials will comprise approximately half the workforce. And as they rapidly fill up urban centers, they'll transform cities into power bases that challenge long-standing geographic advantages used by politicians to stay in power.

Millennials are the entrepreneurial generation, born out of necessity and fostered by poor leadership in government. In higher and concentrated numbers in places like San Francisco, Austin and Portland, millennials will find new ways to disrupt flawed programs like the ACA and the electoral system in general. They've upended industries like the taxi and hotel industry with sharing economy darlings Uber and Airbnb, and now millennials have placed a bulls-eye on another industry that relies on precedent rather than innovation. Politics.

There's a long way to go before millennials recover economically, replace crooked politicians, create a third (and fourth) party, temper the disproportionate government spending on older generations, or revolutionize the voting process. But their open defiance of the Obamacare mandate may just be the turning point that signifies their readiness to really stand up to the U.S. government.
07:10 Scott Brown fumbles New Hampshire geography and economy in debate» Daily Kos
How well does Scott Brown know the ten counties of New Hampshire? The former Massachusetts senator is defending his knowledge after appearing not to know what the hell he was talking about when asked about Sullivan County, at the western edge of the state, in a Senate debate Thursday night. Observing that both candidates live on the eastern side of the state, moderator James Pindell asked them "what do you see going right in the economy in Sullivan County and what’s going wrong and please be specific." Brown got to his anti-Obamacare talking point just as fast as he could, with the following passing as his specific views on Sullivan County:
Well, you're absolutely right, geography plays a role. Along the southern border we have more jobs and more opportunity. Infrastructure and other opportunities up north are difficult. But one of the biggest opportunities is tourism. One of the biggest opportunities are ski areas and trails for snowmobiles. I support those efforts. I know Sen. Shaheen references a tourist bill.
And then Obamacare. Pindell stopped Brown as he was continuing his totally non-specific talking points, pointing out that "We're talking about Sullivan County, and I think you were talking about the North Country":
Brown: I’m talking about any place past Concord, actually, and the challenges of our state. [... blah blah Obamacare ...]

Pindell: Sullivan County is west of Concord. It’s not north of Concord, Sen. Brown. So what do you see as going well or what’s not going well there.

Brown: With respect, I've answered the question. The challenges are the same in every county in our state.

Wow, the challenges are the same everywhere. Or everywhere "past Concord," which is geographically speaking most of the state. Is Scott Brown really saying that the economic challenges are the same for Hanover and Lancaster?

Brown's campaign now wants to have a geographical debate because Sullivan County—being a county rather than a city—stretches both north and a little south of Concord to its west. True! But if you're from New Hampshire and you're talking about "up north," you're not talking about Sullivan County. You're just not. Maybe unless you're the kind of person for whom "any place past Concord" is an undifferentiated mass.

Brown is also defending himself by noting that he visited a ski area in Sullivan County, claiming that's why he talked about ski areas. Except that in itself betrays him, because there is not a whole hell of a lot of skiing in Sullivan County. There's some, but if you think "Sullivan County economy" and your mind immediately goes to skiing ... it looks suspiciously like that's because you happen to have visited one of the few ski areas there and it's the only thing about the county that stuck with you. Not to mention that all Brown had to do through this exchange was name a specific place in Sullivan County, be it Mt. Sunapee or the county's major population center of Claremont (the latter of which Jeanne Shaheen name-checked in her quite specific answer to the question, by the way).

07:08 Flood Wall Street’s bold legal defense: Climate change left us with no other choice» Salon.com
12 activists arrested in the September protest are pleading not guilty due to climate necessity

07:00 Why Republicans Always Get Away With It, MSNBC Edition» Latest from Crooks and Liars
Why Republicans Always Get Away With It, MSNBC Edition

Our current political media's largest failure has been their well-practiced ability to not only excuse Republicans' bad behavior, but to conveniently forget about it, too. This is why we have midterms where everyone is shrugging and exclaiming that they've never seen an election like this where everything is so...tied.

Here's why that happens. Chris Christie goes out and bullies a constituent, making the fatuous claim that Christie, and Christie alone, was taking care of Sandy victims after the cameras left, unlike that rude man with the sign who just wants to heckle him.

We now know from Chris Hayes that the gentleman holding the sign took a month off work without pay to go and help with the Sandy cleanup. And yet Andrea pronounces the entire episode some "great TV." Cillizza nods and agrees wisely, as if he knows exactly what she means while both of them gabble about whether it's "presidential."

The other side of that coin

read more

07:00 Ted Nugent Attacks Wendy Davis Campaign As 'Lying, Scamming, American-hating, Texas-Hating Scammers'» Latest from Crooks and Liars
Ted Nugent Attacks Wendy Davis Campaign As 'Lying, Scamming, American-hating, Texas-Hating Scammers'

06:52 Must-see morning clip: Jon Stewart destroys liberal dreams of Texas turning blue» Salon.com
"Texas has been a conservative state since dinosaurs roamed it 6,000 years ago"

06:52 “The Colbert Report’s” final episode is coming much sooner than you wish» Salon.com
Stephen Colbert announced his final show date, and the world wept

06:52 Absurd “political Halloween costumes”: Your last-minute guide to “Sexy Carl Levin” & more!» Salon.com
Still need a costume? Here are some terrible ideas if you want to show your knowledge of the political times

06:50 Cartoon: Gamergate wants you!» Daily Kos

Do you ever get the feeling that news stories are extensions of high school spats? First Sarah Palin’s family was brawling at a party, now a boyfriend-gone-bitter sparked an online flamewar unlike any other. The Gamergate story would be very silly if it didn’t involve threats of violence against women, bomb threats, mass shooting threats and egregious invasions of privacy.

In case you haven’t noticed, the video game business is now gigantic, bigger than traditional Hollywood movies. At its most basic level, the Gamergate story is about a mob of guys fearful that new and different games (even those made by, gasp, girls!) will replace the macho shoot-‘em-ups the majority of gamers know and love. In order to defend the established world of video games, the Gamergate vigilantes have decided to mount an online attack on a handful of female video game creators and critics. (Some in the Gamergate crowd claim an egregious incident of unethical journalism occurred, a claim that has been discounted.)

The attacks have gone far beyond saying nasty things about these women online. Home addresses, phone numbers, family details and bank account information have been released. Rape and death threats have been issued. Three women have been forced to flee their homes and live on the run.  Fatwa, anyone? It’s a sad day for a creative medium with huge potential, a potential that some are determined to keep in the stone age. (You can find out more about Gamergate in the additional links here.)

06:45 Second-Hand Grocery Store To Open In Pennsylvania» ThinkProgress

With food charities overstretched, federal aid tightening, and jobs still hard to find, an unusual approach to grocery shopping is coming to rural Pennsylvania.

The post Second-Hand Grocery Store To Open In Pennsylvania appeared first on ThinkProgress.

06:45 Obama's Approval Rating Remains Unchanged This Year, So Why All The Press Coverage About "Sinking" Poll Numbers?» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

The news media reminders arrive almost daily now: President Obama's approval rating is low and going lower. McClatchy Newspapers highlighted the "dropping approval ratings," while the Washington Post declared "President Obama's approval ratings have plunged to record lows." The Christian Science Monitor noted the numbers have "plummeted." The Washington Examiner stressed the president's approvals were "sinking to historic lows," while an Atlantic headlined announced, ""Obama's Sinking Approval Could Drag Democrats Down With Him."

The portrait being painted by an array of media artists is unmistakable: Obama's approval ratings are not only weak but they're going down, down, down.

But it's not true.

The part about Obama's "dropping" and "sinking" polling numbers simply isn't accurate, not matter how many times it's repeated inside the Beltway echo chamber.

Does the White House wish Obama's job approval rating was higher? I'm sure his advisers do. Does polling indicate that Democrats face the possibility of deep losses next week in the midterm elections? Yes. Does that mean the press should just make up narratives about the president's approval rating simply because it fits in, again, with anti-Obama spin that Republicans are pushing?

It does not.

According to the cumulative ratings posted daily at Real Clear Politics, which averages together an array of national polls to come up with Obama's composite job approval rating, the president's approval on January 1, 2014 stood at 42.6 percent. The president's approval rating on October 30, was 42 percent. So over the course of ten months, and based on more than one hundred poll results in 2014, Obama's approval rating declined less than one point.

One point.

I can safely say Obama is only president in U.S. history whose approval rating dropped a single digit over a ten-month stretch and it was described as having "plummeted."

06:37 New 'Text Talk Act' Initiative: How It Works | Video » LiveScience.com
Through text messing, the not-for-profit group Creating Community Solutions, is asking Americans to start a conversation with others on mental health.
06:22 Why we almost certainly won’t know Senate control on election night» Salon.com
With so many races so close, we'll likely have to wait to see which party will control the chamber

06:22 Christie loses the pundits: The tough-guy routine wears thin on Christie’s chief constituency» Salon.com
Christie's latest screaming match with a heckler has his most devoted fans -- cable pundits -- calling him a bully

06:18 How Ebola Spreads in the US: Myth vs. Reality » LiveScience.com
Before you run out for some Lysol, please read this.
06:16 School District Strips High School Biology Textbook Of Any Mention Of Birth Control Or Abortion» ThinkProgress

It will be up to the schools to decide whether they want to rip out the offending pages or use a marker to censor them.

The post School District Strips High School Biology Textbook Of Any Mention Of Birth Control Or Abortion appeared first on ThinkProgress.

06:05 Stem Cells Shape Up» LiveScience.com
A different approach by a team of National Institutes of Health-funded developmental biologists and physicists at Rockefeller University indicates that a critical element of normal embryonic development is geometrical.
06:02 New 'Text Talk Act' Initiative Takes On Mental Health | Video» LiveScience.com
The not-for-profit group Creating Community Solutions has created this solution, which lets Americans can take better care of themselves and others.
06:00 Hear Corporate PR Scum Richard Berman Make Slimy Pitch To Energy Companies» Latest from Crooks and Liars
Hear Corporate PR Scum Richard Berman Make Slimy Pitch To Energy Companies

Well, well, our friend Richard Berman is back in the news, this time for offending one of the oil industry executives he was pitching enough that the man recorded his talk and sent it over to the New York Times for publication.

Berman was full of his usual hate and vinegar, too, but he may have given out just a little too much information.

Mr. Berman repeatedly boasted about how he could take checks from the oil and gas industry executives — he said he had already collected six-figure contributions from some of the executives in the room — and then hide their role in funding his campaigns.

“People always ask me one question all the time: ‘How do I know that I won’t be found out as a supporter of what you’re doing?’ " Mr. Berman told the crowd. “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.”

So much for all that altruistic talk about how 501c4 organizations are just patriotic, free-speech machines, eh?

Berman also hates unions more than Satan himself.

read more

05:59 Officer Shot And Killed Psychiatric Patient While Transporting Him To The Hospital» ThinkProgress

The victim had no criminal history, and there is no indication that he was armed.

The post Officer Shot And Killed Psychiatric Patient While Transporting Him To The Hospital appeared first on ThinkProgress.

05:56 43 Disappearances, A Militarized Police Force, And Mexico’s Failing Trust In Its Government» ThinkProgress

The case of the 43 missing students is just the tipping point in Mexico.

The post 43 Disappearances, A Militarized Police Force, And Mexico’s Failing Trust In Its Government appeared first on ThinkProgress.

05:51 Paul Krugman: How the West royally screwed up its economies» Salon.com
Japan used to be a "cautionary tale" in how not to fix a broken economy, but the US and Europe have done even worse

05:36 The radical prickliness of “Yes Please”: Amy Poehler isn’t scared of being “unlikable”» Salon.com
For a woman with one the most likable personas in Hollywood, it's refreshing how little she tries to charm us

05:35 “Vote for the crook!” How 86-year-old ex-con Edwin Edwards turned a House race upside down» Salon.com
He's nearly 90 and recently released from prison. So why is Edwin Edwards doing so well in Louisiana's polls?

05:30 Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap: 'Whack-a-Mole' and the constantly changing path to 50» Daily Kos
Kay Hagan meeting with constituents
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) has seen her prospects for re-election take a slight, but potentially pivotal, dip.
For anyone with kids, that has done hard time in a Chuck E. Cheese or some similarly kid-themed restaurant burdened with a money-sinking arcade, the game "whack-a-mole" is probably quite familiar.

For Democrats, that has to feel like these last few days (and perhaps even weeks) on the polling front. Struggling with all their might to cling to 50 Senate seats (and with it, continued control of the chamber), it seems as if every time a poll drops brightening their hopes in a particular race, another one drops almost immediately thereafter which brings alarm elsewhere.

Such has been the most consistent theme in this, an election cycle of seemingly endless tossups and near-misses.

Over the past three days since our last Polling Wrap launched at Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections, we have seen in excess of one hundred polls (111, to be exact) cross our desks. A cherry-picker can have a field day, without a doubt, given this pool of data. But there is a consistent theme, which is one which must give both parties pause.

Typically, at least some of the close races get locked down once and for all in the final mile of the campaign. Based on the polling that has come out this week, that most certainly does not appear to be the case. Follow me past the jump to see all the data, and exactly what I mean by this game of "whack-a-mole" and how it complicates the picture for Tuesday.

05:05 SCOTUS’ racial blind spot: Why a small group of elites is dragging America backwards» Salon.com
The Court has wrought a system that does little to acknowledge institutional racism -- and it gets worse than that

05:00 Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Lee Terry just earned the worst endorsement you can think of» Daily Kos
Lee Terry of NE-02
Republican Lee Terry

Leading Off:

NE-02: We've written extensively about how politicians who run ads trying to tie their opponents to heinous crimes often wind up bitten in the ass, but no one's gotten their buttocks chomped as hard as Lee Terry just did:

Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins offered his take on the race in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District at a hearing to determine his mental status Wednesday.

Jenkins, 28, shouted "Hey you guys, vote for Lee Terry! Best Republican ever!"

The NRCC, of course, aired an infamous, Willie Horton-esque ad that accused Democrat Brad Ashford of wanting to release Jenkins from prison earlier. The ad received national criticism and Democrats demanded it be taken off the air, but both Terry and the NRCC stood behind it. Talk about getting what you deserve. Best Republican ever!
05:00 Mike's Blog Round Up» Latest from Crooks and Liars
Mike's Blog Round Up

Southern Beale: The war on Halloween.

No More Mister Nice Blog: The scary truth.

World O' Crap: If Cyrano de Bergerac were a mortician.

Goblinbooks: What Dracula can teach you about the Bible.

Lawyers, Guns & Money: Boris Karloff's guacamole recipe.

Finally, thirteen classic scenes that explain how horror movies work.

This installment by Batocchio. E-mail tips to mbru AT crooksandliars DOT com. Image above via here.

05:00 Fox News, Limbaugh Slime Teacher With Racist Lies» Latest from Crooks and Liars
Fox News, Limbaugh Slime Teacher With Racist Lies

This story must begin with the ending, which you will only read here. You will only read it here because Rush Limbaugh and Todd Starnes, speaking for Fox News, have spoken and written lies about an elementary school teacher in Tennessee which they do not appear to be willing to retract.

Here, then, is the official statement from the Elizabethton Superintendent of Schools.

In response to yesterday’s coverage by Fox News of an occurrence involving a sheet of paper taken home by a third-grade student at Harold McCormick Elementary School, the following is an accurate clarification: First, when this circumstance was first brought to my attention yesterday afternoon in a phone message, I immediately called the school Principal and obtained the details. I then call the individual at Fox back and relayed the specific information I had just gotten. The Principal quickly had done a thorough investigation and found the following (all of which was given to Fox News, prior to his national news report): 1) the sheet in question was not a hand-out sheet distributed to the students; 2) the sheet had been generated from internet information (on Mount Rushmore for a classroom history lesson) for the purpose of providing background material for a teacher observation; 3) the location of the sheet was on a separate teacher table adjacent to the teacher’s desk; 4) the student (without permission) took the sheet from a “ton” of discarded teacher’s material on that table; then, the student took it home and gave it to the parent.

I was able late yesterday afternoon to obtain the sheet (via fax) and saw why it was, in fact, discarded by the teacher as material to utilize in her presentation. Now, the thought that we as public educators would deliberately distribute such material is absolutely absurd! What was reported (which had been rebutted prior to the airing) was misleading and totally incorrect. I can only think it was shown for its sensational effect. Sadly, regardless of any follow-up report, our System has been defamed (possibly permanently). Should you need more information or if you have questions, please call or e-mail me.

↓ Story continues below ↓

Here's what happened: The teacher was preparing a lesson plan on Mount Rushmore, and printed out information from the Internet, where you're just as likely to see something from the John Birch Society as you are from the Nation of Islam. That teacher appropriately curated the material and put the discards on a table adjacent to her desk.

read more

04:55 Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 am ET!» Daily Kos
Daily Kos Radio logo
Well, yesterday certainly did turn out to be a collector's item of a show. But not for the reasons I was anticipating.

But at least it's Friday now!

Listen LIVE at 9:00 ET, here: Click this Link to Listen on your iTunes, Winamp or Windows Media Player

Daily Kos Radio's Kagro in the Morning show podcasts are now available through iTunes.


Listen to Stitcher
Help support the show through Stitcher's revenue sharing program. Be one of 5,000 "active listeners" per month, and, well, they send us money. All you need to do, believe it or not, is listen to 30 seconds of a show, once in a month. Seriously! Choose any one of the shows at this link, listen to 30 seconds' worth, and you're on board!

Did you happen to miss our last LIVE show? You can catch it here:

Technical difficulties knocked out the microphone this morning, but I rigged something up on the fly and got the better part of a show together. Rosalyn MacGregor filled us in on the Michigan electoral horse races, newspaper endorsements, etc. House Gop's lawyers keep quitting their lawsuit against Obama. The "gimmick" economy: does anyone really make anything, any more? Verizon starts a news outlet where no reporting is allowed on net neutrality or domestic spying. Government prohibited from surveillance? Just outsource it. Joan McCarter wraps up with the story of The Midnight Bicycle Ride of Paul Revere Kaci Hickox, Bobby Jindal's Ebola panic, and more.

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

04:30 Abbreviated pundit roundup: Chris Christie, Republican's lack of vision and more » Daily Kos
Another day, another incident where Republican governor Chris Christie shows off his personality, this time by telling a heckler to "sit down and shut up" at a campaign event. David Axelrod gives his take:
“This has always been the fatal flaw of Chris Christie’s presidential campaign,” Axelrod said after seeing the video. “I’ve been through a few presidential races, and I’ve got to tell you, every day is filled with aggravations and provocations, and if that’s the way he’s going to react, he has no future in this.”

He continued, “I think he thinks that this kind of ‘Sopranos’ approach to politics marks him as a strong leader. I think it marks him as an angry man.”

Sean Sullivan adds:
Christie's off-the-cuff, call-it-like-I-see-it, I'm-not-afraid-to-tell-anyone-off-or-get-angry style is the defining feature of his persona. It's a big reason why he became so popular in New Jersey and caught on nationally. You're not going to find a blunter statewide politician.

But it's also an emerging liability because it could feed attacks that he is a strong-arming bully. The reason why the "Bridgegate" scandal was so devastating for Christie, even though he has not been directly tied to it, is that it enabled the bully label to stick.

Paul Waldman hits the nail on the head:
But you know where you don't get too many chances to show what a tough guy you are? Iowa. Campaigning for the caucuses is an interminable process of trooping from living room to senior center to VFW hall, meeting people in small groups, looking them in the eye and asking them for their votes. Christie is a pretty good retail politician, so it isn't that he can't perform in those settings. But being tough just isn't part of that show, and if the biggest part of Christie's appeal is that he can talk like an extra from Goodfellas when somebody challenges him, he isn't going to get very far.
More on the day's top stories below the fold.
04:13 Brraaiins! How Zombies Overran Pop Culture» LiveScience.com
The notion of zombies dates back at least 400 years, but today's walking dead are thoroughly modern monsters, created by open-source collaboration. Here's how zombies have evolved.
04:03 The right’s sham Christianity: How an attack on John Kasich exposes the fraud» Salon.com
Ohio's GOP governor was the darling of the right -- until he sought to help poor people, in the name of Christ

04:03 Chocolate is good for your brain» Salon.com
New Alzheimer's research suggests cocoa constituents can help us fend off of senior moments

04:03 Halloween: America’s No. 1 holiday for wasting money on garbage» Salon.com
Exhibit A is the $350 million we spend on pet costumes. But the problems go much deeper than that

03:48 “I get really affected by bestiality”: Meet the moderators who watch horrific videos so you don’t have to» Salon.com
For eight hours a day, these Internet garbagemen stare into the dark underbelly of humanity. The job takes its toll

03:32 Misogyny’s scary new warriors: How Gamergate has supplanted the Christian right» Salon.com
The evangelical movement is dying a slow death, but secular sexists are ready to carry its torch of hate

02:07 Obama's Cabinet doesn't deliver midterm boost» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Secretaries can't campaign, but they can promote the administration's "positive economic message."
02:06 Why a GOP Senate could be short-lived» POLITICO - TOP Stories
A half-dozen blue-state Republicans could be in trouble during the 2016 elections.
02:06 Liberal donors prepare for disappointment» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The plan is to shift focus to 2016, when Democrats face a much more hospitable Senate map.
00:30 For Mental Health, Social Media Removes the Silence (Op-Ed)» LiveScience.com
From teenagers to Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation, young activists are forging a new platform for mental health support for the texting generation.

Thu 30 October, 2014

20:30 Open Thread - Trick Or Treat, Bucko!» Latest from Crooks and Liars
Open Thread - Trick Or Treat, Bucko!

More at Mandatory.

Open thread below...

20:00 Open thread for night owls: Seven gun fights on the ballot » Daily Kos
At Mother Jones, Hannah Levintova writes 7 Big Gun Fights to Watch on Election Day. Here's an excerpt, focusing on the first of the seven:
night owls
No election cycle in recent memory has seen the guns issue heat up the way this year's has. The National Rifle Association, continuing a long-running strategy of campaign spending, earmarked over $11 million for this year's elections—but for the first time in decades the nation's leading gun lobby is facing some truly formidable opposition. Americans for Responsible Solutions, launched by former congresswoman and mass shooting survivor Gabby Giffords, and Everytown for Gun Safety, bankrolled by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, have spent millions of their own to try to vanquish the NRA's influence. How will it play out? Here are key races to watch on Tuesday:


Spending by the NRA: $485,000

Spending by gun control groups: Everytown/Bloomberg, $2.6 million; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $1 million. [Update: A new press release from Everytown lists their total Washington spending at $4 million.]

The showdown: In perhaps the most-watched race on guns, voters will decide on two competing ballot measures on the issue of background checks. Initiative 594 would expand background checks for gun purchases online, at gun shows, or through private transactions, closing the so-called loophole in federal law. The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which is leading the campaign for I-594, has received financial support totaling more than $2.5 million from both Everytown for Gun Safety and from Bloomberg personally. Bill and Melinda Gates also gave more than $1 million.

The gun lobby counterattacked with Initiative 591, sponsored by Alan Gottlieb, president of the Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation. I-591 would prohibit the state from requiring background checks unless a "uniform national standard" for those checks is created. If passed, I-591 could create several confusing legal scenarios: This sort of state-level prohibition could contradict federal law, which already allows states to mandate additional background checks. And if both I-591 and I-594 pass, they may negate each other and lead to a protracted legal battle.

Ricochet: Speaking out against I-594 in July, the NRA's chief lobbyist in Washington state, Brian Judy, raised the specter of, what else, Nazi Germany. Referring to venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, who pledged $500,000 to back I-594 and who is Jewish, Judy said: "Now, he has put half-a-million dollars toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family getting run out of Germany by the Nazis ... It’s like any Jewish people that I meet who are anti-gun, I think, 'Are you serious? Do you not remember what happened?'" [...]

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2010Dear Sarah: Nobody thinks you're qualified:

In the wake of the news that Sarah Palin will run for president if nobody else will comes a Washington Post/ABC News poll revealing that just about nobody thinks she's qualified to be president:
Sarah Palin’s interest in the presidency is not being reciprocated by most Americans: Two-thirds of registered voters in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say she’s unqualified for the job, and more than half continue to rate her unfavorably overall.
So, run, Sarah, run. And if you wouldn't mind picking Joe Miller to be your campaign spokesman, I'm sure he'd appreciate it, given that he's going to be out of work after next Tuesday's election.

Tweet of the Day
Trust me, friends: There's no need to dress up for Halloween. Your true monster is on the inside. And anyone who loves you will know it.

On today's Kagro in the Morning show: Technical difficulties knocked out the mic this morning, but we got the better part of a show together. Rosalyn MacGregor filled us in on the Michigan electoral horse races, newspaper endorsements, etc. House GOP's lawyers keep quitting their lawsuit against Obama. The "gimmick" economy: does anyone really make anything, any more? Verizon starts a news outlet where no reporting is allowed on net neutrality or domestic spying. Government prohibited from surveillance? Just outsource it. Joan McCarter wraps up with the story of The Midnight Bicycle Ride of Paul Revere Kaci Hickox, Bobby Jindal's Ebola panic, and more.

High Impact Posts. Top Comments
20:00 C&L's Late Nite Music Club With The Dee Dee Dums» Latest from Crooks and Liars

The Dee Dee Dums is what happens. I always find it interesting when I stumble upon the early projects of an artist that I like. I feel that it gives the listener a perspective on how the artist was able to evolve their sound and mature into their current style. That's made especially apparent on this song, which is actually an early version of a Tame Impala song, "Half Full Glass of Wine." Here's the link to that song so that you can compare the two:

What are some of the early projects of your favorite musicians?

17:30 The mayor who solved Boston» POLITICO - TOP Stories
No one did more than Tom Menino to heal the city's legendary class and racial divides.
15:43 Earth's Water Existed 135 Million Years Earlier than Thought» LiveScience.com
Scientists have found evidence of water in our inner solar system 135 million years earlier than previously thought.
15:00 Something I Agree With Rand Paul On: 'The GOP Sucks'» Latest from Crooks and Liars

As our readers know, I'm no fan of Senator Rand Paul or his phony libertarian beliefs, but he did say something mildly entertaining and (at least partially) I can agree with.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) acknowledged Wednesday a problem that many Republicans admit only privately: their party brand “sucks.”
The weakness, Paul added, is particularly serious when it comes to appealing to black voters.

“Remember Domino’s Pizza? They admitted, ‘Hey, our pizza crust sucks.’ The Republican Party brand sucks and so people don’t want to be a Republican and for 80 years, African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans,” he said.

“Why? Because of a perception,” he said. “The problem is the perception is that no one in the Republican Party cares.”

“We’re also fighting 40 years of us doing a crappy job, of Republicans not trying at all for 40 years, so it’s a lot of overcoming,” he said. “You got to show up, you got to have something to say and really we just have to emphasize that we’re trying to do something different.”

Yes, the GOP brand sucks, on that we can agree, but it's always sucked much worse than Domino's Pizza every has and for a far longer time.

read more

14:50 Cartoon: Spooking the vote» Daily Kos

Matt Wuerker
(Click for larger image)

14:49 Rare Look Inside Tiny Mouth Wins 'Small World' Photo Contest» LiveScience.com
The winners of this year's Nikon Small World photo competition have been announced. The grand prize goes to a photographer who captured a rare glimpse inside of a rotifer's open mouth.
14:38 Images: 'Small World' Photo Contest Winners» LiveScience.com
A peek into the mouth of a microscopic animal took the top award in photo contest that honors all this small.
14:14 Can You Really Get Ebola from a Sneeze?» LiveScience.com
The Ebola virus can spread through contact with an infected person's blood, feces and vomit, but some information online suggests it's also possible to get Ebola by being near an infected person who sneezes.
14:00 Ted Cruz slaps the dreaded 'Dole-McCain-Romney' label on Jeb Bush» Daily Kos
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) makes remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland, March 6, 2014. Thousands of conservative activists, Republicans and Tea Party Patriots gather to hear politicians, presidential hopefuls
This isn't what Ted talks were supposed to be
Goal Thermometer

In an appearance Thursday morning on CNBC, noted 2016 clown car aspirant, recently former Canadian citizen, and current U.S. Sen. Ted "Calgary" Cruz of Texas took a question about whether he believes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is too liberal to run for the GOP nomination:

You know, Jeb has not declared his candidacy. I like Jeb. I'm a fan of Jeb Bush's. I'm going to let him decide if he's running first.
So, good news for Jeb: Ted Cruz likes you. That said, if you felt like there was a "but" coming from Cruz, you won't be disappointed:
But I will say this. We need to learn from history. We need to look to history to find out what works and what doesn't, and the one thing that is clear is that if Republicans run another candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole, or a John McCain, or a Mitt Romney [...] we will end up with the same result, which is that millions of people will stay home on election day which is what happened for all three of them. And if we run another candidate like that Hillary Clinton will be the next president.
I will say this: Ted Cruz is right—if Republicans nominate Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton will be the next president. But if he thinks that nominating someone like, say, Ted Cruz will change that, then he's even nuttier than he pretends, because while Hillary Clinton could easily beat Jeb Bush, she could absolutely destroy Ted Cruz.
Chip in $3 to help elect more and better Democrats so we can put clowns like Ted Cruz in the rear view mirror.

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In fact, if the GOP nominates a nut job like Cruz, then millions of people staying home will be the best-case scenario for them, because with a guy like Cruz at the top of the Republican ticket, the more people vote, the worse things will be for the GOP.
13:47 Joyce Carol Oates Thinks There’s No Street Harassment On Park Avenue» ThinkProgress

The facts suggest otherwise.

The post Joyce Carol Oates Thinks There’s No Street Harassment On Park Avenue appeared first on ThinkProgress.

13:45 Magma 'Pancakes' May Have Fueled Toba Supervolcano» LiveScience.com
The most catastrophic volcanic eruption in the last 2 million years may owe its superpower to stacks of hot molten rock layered like jelly filling inside a sky-high wedding cake.
13:38 Why The Result Of Brazil’s Elections Could Be Bad News For The Climate» ThinkProgress

If the last four years are any indication, Brazilian environmental policy is about to become even more regressive.

The post Why The Result Of Brazil’s Elections Could Be Bad News For The Climate appeared first on ThinkProgress.

13:34 Supreme Court considers taking on appeal on Obamacare subsidies case» Daily Kos
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York September 17, 2012. Scalia on Monday escalated a war of words with a prominent appeals court judge, saying the judge lied in a recent criticism of Scalia's judicial
Justice Antonin Scalia
The Supreme Court will meet Friday to determine if they will hear an appeal of King v. Burwell in its docket this year. That's one of the group of cases, including Halbig that says four words in the Affordable Care Act preclude people who sign up for health insurance on the federal exchange from receiving federal subsidies to help pay their premiums. A favorable ruling from the Supreme Court would essentially gut the law, making insurance unaffordable for millions who signed up through Healthcare.gov.

Five of the lawmakers who were in on the drafting of the law, and thus know what its intent is, have filed an amicus brief [pdf] with the Court, and have also penned this op-ed in the Washington Post. Those members are Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR)— chairmen of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, and Reps. Sander M. Levin (D-MI), George Miller (D-CA.) and Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) who were chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Education and Workforce Committee, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, when the law was passed.

In a series of legal challenges, opponents have inaccurately argued that Congress intended to provide financial help only to Americans living in the 14 states that directly run their own health insurance marketplaces, not in the 36 states that delegated administration of their marketplaces to the federal government.

This interpretation is wrong. As members of Congress who shaped and debated the legislation, we want to set the record straight. […]

None of us contemplated that the bill as enacted could be misconstrued to limit financial help only to people in states opting to directly run health insurance marketplaces. In fact, as chairs of the three House committees that collectively authored the health-care reform legislation (Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and the Workforce), three of us issued a joint fact sheet in March 2010 reflecting our intention that financial help would be available to consumers in the state marketplaces, whether the state were to run it directly or via the federal government.

On the Senate side, provisions from the bill reported by Sen. Harkin’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee were combined with provisions from the bill reported by the Finance Committee, of which the current chairman, Sen. Wyden, was a senior member. There, too, the final bill embodied our universal understanding that financial assistance would be available in every state.

They point out that the Congressional Budget Office, which analyzed the draft legislation to score it for costs came to the same conclusion. There is nothing in the legislative history of the law to suggest anything contrary to the Congress's intention to make subsidies available to everyone. Normally, legislative history and legislative intent are critical components justices consider when looking at federal cases. There's one glaring exception—Justice Antonin Scalia—who has said that " "examining the entrails of legislative history" is a waste of time.

We could find out Friday how much influence Justice Scalia has on the full court. Remember, there's another federal appeals court considering one of these cases right now—the full D.C. Circuit is determining whether to overturn three judges on its panel who ruled in Halbig that subsidies could not be provided to people who bought insurance on the federal exchange. The full court is almost certainly going to overturn that decision. A normal Supreme Court would likely not act on King until they have a decision form the D.C. Circuit on Halbig. But we're not necessarily dealing with a normal Supreme Court.

12:44 Zombie Ants to Ghost Frogs: 6 Real Halloween Monsters» LiveScience.com
Halloween is a time to celebrate mythical creatures that haunt our dreams, but some of these beasts have real-life counterparts in the animal world.
12:04 Why A Company Is Buying Up Huge Tracts Of Alabama’s Land And Punching It Full Of Holes» ThinkProgress

"These are not local people. They are not here to do us good," said Colbert County resident Cecilia Hicks.

The post Why A Company Is Buying Up Huge Tracts Of Alabama’s Land And Punching It Full Of Holes appeared first on ThinkProgress.

12:00 Midday open thread: Fewer fires but more fire-fighters, Tim Cook comes out» Daily Kos
  • Today's comic by Ruben Bolling is Ernest Hemingway's new typewriter:
    Cartoon by Ruben Bolling -- Ernest Hemingway's new typewriter
  • Please take 30 seconds to bookmark this for election night: the Daily Kos Elections map of poll closing times for the entire country. That way, you can know when to start checking returns in each state as results roll in on Nov. 4. Note that all times are Eastern.
  • If we turn out, we win. Chip in $3 to help Get Out The Vote for Daily Kos-endorsed candidates.
  • Wired explains why it took 23 years to decide a piece of aluminum was part of Amelia Earhart's plane. The piece was found in 1991, but after long examination, it was dismissed because it didn't match anything on the Electra she flew.
    Then the team noticed that in pictures taken of the Electra as it took off from Miami on June 1, 1937, the plane had a shiny patch near its tail, covering what had been a specially made window. This patch, Gillespie explained, was an improvised repair, and so was completely unique to Earhart’s plane. Could the sheet be this patch? “My first reaction was: This is a Hail Mary pass,” he said.

    The team further analyzed the old photo and turned to a restored Electra to see how such a piece of metal would have been attached. After closer examination, they realized that the sheet perfectly matched in size, shape, and patterns of rivet holes. Even tears along the edges of the sheet aligned with where rivets would’ve been. “It’s like a fingerprint,” Gillespie said.

  • 76 years ago tonight, the Martians invaded:
    What radio listeners heard that night was an adaptation, by Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater group, of a science fiction novel written 40 years earlier: The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells.

    However, the radio play, narrated by Orson Welles, had been written and performed to sound like a real news broadcast about an invasion from Mars.”

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out in an op-ed:
    "For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation," Cook writes. "Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky."
  • Fewer fires, more fight-fighters: The number of fires plunged from 3.3 million in 1977 to 1.2 million in 2013. But there are more career fire-fighters than ever before, about 345,950 in 2012 compared with slightly more than 200,000 in 1986. So what do they do instead of fighting fires? They spend a lot of time responding to medical emergencies. And there are many critics who say running big fire trucks to accidents and heart attacks and such like is, except in a small percentage of cases, a waste of money and time that doesn't improve medical outcomes since ambulance services can do the same job just as fast. Not everyone agrees.
  • Team Blackness delves into why unwarranted commentary to women from men on the street is a problem while one caller tries very unsuccessfully to explain why "it's no big deal."
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  • On today's Kagro in the Morning show: Rosalyn MacGregor's MI report. Lawyers keep quitting House GOP's suit. "Gimmick" economy. Verizon "news" allows no net neutrality, spying coverage. Outsourced surveillance. Joan McCarter on Kaci Hickox, Jindal's Ebola panic & more.
11:59 Racist Costumes to Egging Hazards: The Science of Halloween» LiveScience.com
Some researchers seize on Oct. 31 as an opportunity for serious study. From an analysis of racist costumes to an assessment of the hazards of egg throwing, here are a few strange chapters from the annals of Halloween science.
11:58 Nope, not even Harvard study says millennials skewing GOP» Daily Kos
Nope, millenials aren't abandoning the Democratic Party. But will they vote? That's the real question.
Nope, millennials aren't abandoning the Democratic Party. Question is whether they'll vote.
The headlines yesterday were breathless:

Harvard Crimson: IOP Poll Finds Declining Support for Obama among Millennials

Daily Beast: New Harvard Study Finds the Door to Millennial Vote Is Open to GOP

US News: Democrats Losing Grip On Young Voters, Harvard Poll Finds

Christian Science Monitor: Millennial poll: Why the youth vote now leans Republican

Newsmax: Hip to Be Red: In Harvard Poll, Millennials Want GOP Congress

ABC News: Majority Of Millennials Turn On Obama, Favor a GOP-Led Congress

Here's how the typical news outlet covered the story:

Young voters were once one of the pillars of President Obama's coalition, but the latest national survey of millennials shows that young voters have soured on the president, are more likely to vote Republican in the midterm elections and are in play for 2016 [...]

Millennials are on track to vote by about the same margins they did in the 2010 midterm elections, with 26 percent forecast as very likely to vote on Nov. 4. A majority of those likely young voters said they prefer a Republican-led Congress, 51 percent-47 percent, in contrast to 2010 when a clear majority, 55 percent-43 percent, preferred a Democratic-led Congress, a significant swing in favor of the GOP.

Here's the actual study:  
While more 18- to 29- year-olds (50 percent-43 percent) surveyed in the IOP’s fall 2014 poll would prefer that Congress be controlled by Democrats instead of Republicans, the numbers improve dramatically for the GOP when only young people who say they will “definitely vote” are studied.
Got that? Millennials are still Democratic, but white millennials will "definitely vote," whereas brown ones are less likely to say they will. That matters because among likely voters, young African Americans prefer Democratic control 68-23, and Latinos 59-34. Among whites it's 53-40 Republican. To further hammer the point:
By a significant 12-point margin, 42 percent to 30 percent, a greater proportion of young Republicans say they are definitely going to vote in November than young Democrats.
So news flash, white Republicans are more likely to turn out, even among youngsters. We kinda knew that. That's the whole point of Democratic GOTV. To fix that problem. This says nothing about long-term trends, and it sure doesn't support the idiotic media headlines this survey generated from reporters who still don't know how to read a poll.

In any case, we'll have exit poll data next week. Harvard will either look prescient, or have egg on its face. I'm betting on the latter.


Contra Harvard study, NBC/WSJ/Annenberg poll has interviewed whopping 4,368 LVs this fall. Among 18-29s, it's 51% Dem, 41% GOP
p.p.s. What are YOU doing to GOTV?

p.p.p.s. Last day to donate.

11:56 Think the midterms don't matter? Tell that to 157,000 uninsured people in Maine and Wisconsin» Daily Kos
WASHINGTON, DC - OCT 22, 2009: Health-care reform advocates march in the streets outside of a meeting of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), an industry trade group.
Goal ThermometerFive times, Maine Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed Medicaid expansion. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker didn't have to veto the expansion since he's got a Republican legislature, so he not only refused to champion taking the expansion, he also refused $37 million in federal grants just to set up a health insurance exchange in his state. So in the who hates Obamacare more game, Walker apparently wins.

Who loses? About 157,000 people, directly. That's 87,000 in Wisconsin and 70,000 in Maine. But it's not just the 150,000 poor people in those states who are losing. It's everyone in those states that pay taxes. They are seeing their federal taxes go to help people in other states get coverage, and are missing out on hundreds of millions of federal dollars being injected into their own states.

If Maine and Wisconsin elect Democrats—Mike Michaud and Mary Burke, respectively—that could change. In Maine, the legislature has already demonstrated—five times—that they want to take the expansion, they want to provide coverage to 70,000 Mainers. Michaud has made Medicaid expansion a cornerstone of his campaign.

Wisconsin is one of the states that grants the governor power to accept Medicaid money unilaterally, by executive order. While Burke hasn't said explicitly that she'd make that executive order to expand Medicaid, she has said she’ll "use every tool at her disposal to do so."

You can literally help save lives in Maine and Wisconsin. Your $3 can help elect Mike Michaud and Mary Burke.

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats.
The stakes in this election are as high as they are in any presidential year for the 157,000 people in Maine and Wisconsin who are forced to be uninsured solely because of the political whims of their governors. Yeah, that matters. A lot.
11:52 University Of Florida Students Speak Out Against Voter Suppression On Campus» ThinkProgress

Students can't use their student union center as an early voting place after a decision earlier this year by Florida officials.

The post University Of Florida Students Speak Out Against Voter Suppression On Campus appeared first on ThinkProgress.

11:41 The First College To Use Affirmative Consent Was A Laughingstock. Now, The Tide Is Turning.» ThinkProgress

Despite the current controversy, Antioch College is confident that other schools will follow in its footsteps.

The post The First College To Use Affirmative Consent Was A Laughingstock. Now, The Tide Is Turning. appeared first on ThinkProgress.

11:40 Death or Full Recovery? Ebola Outcome May Depend on Your Genes» LiveScience.com
People infected with Ebola vary greatly in terms of how severe their symptoms are. Now a new study in mice suggests genetics may play a role in how each body fights off the virus.
11:30 Democratic group calls Christie's bluff on 'sit down and shut up' bluster» Daily Kos
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during a news conference in Trenton, New Jersey March 28, 2014. On Thursday a law firm hired by Christie, a potential Republican 2016 contender for the White House, released a report clearing him of wrongdoing in
Goal Thermometer

This public records request from American Bridge PAC to the office of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in response to his "sit down and shut up" bluster during an event in New Jersey on Wednesday is pretty funny:

To Whom It May Concern,

The following request is being made in accordance with the New Jersey Open Public Records Act (N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq.) and all other New Jersey open record laws.

At an event commemorating the two year anniversary of super-storm Sandy on October 29, 2014, Governor Christie claimed “I've been here when the cameras weren’t here and did the work [on Sandy recovery]”

We respectfully request a list of all trips to which Christie was referring - specifically trips to the Jersey Shore to work on Sandy recovery, where no “cameras” – from the media or the Governor’s office – were in attendance to record the event. [...]

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

The context: A New Jersey resident confronted Christie at a public event and accused Christie of being more interested in grandstanding than finishing recovery efforts, at which point Christie told him to "sit down and shut up," saying:
I'll be more than happy to have a debate with you anytime you like, guy, because somebody like you doesn’t know a damn thing about what you're talking about except to stand up and show off when the cameras are here. I've been here when the cameras aren't here, buddy, and done the work.
Not a bad line, though it is ironic that it was delivered for the cameras. And now, with this public records request, we'll find out if it wasn't just another bout of hot air from Christie.
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11:16 Video: Texas Candidate Says Democrats Should Go Spend Their Food Stamps Instead Of Vote» ThinkProgress

"What we want them to think is, 'There's no reason. She doesn't have an opponent. I don't need to go to the polls. I'll go spend my food stamp money at the grocery store or whatever, you know, on election day,'" a Dallas County judicial candidate said.

The post Video: Texas Candidate Says Democrats Should Go Spend Their Food Stamps Instead Of Vote appeared first on ThinkProgress.

11:08 US Salamander Hotspot Could Fall to New Disease» LiveScience.com
A deadly new fungal disease that originated in Asia is killing salamanders and newts in Europe and could soon land on U.S. shores, home to the most diverse population of salamanders worldwide.
11:05 Three Days In Nashville Talking To Southern Baptists About Homosexuality» ThinkProgress

ThinkProgress joined 1,200 Southern Baptist leaders for a conference addressing "The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage."

The post Three Days In Nashville Talking To Southern Baptists About Homosexuality appeared first on ThinkProgress.

10:55 Convicted murderer endorses Republican after appearing in Republican ad» Daily Kos
Well, oops.
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins offered his take on the race in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District at a hearing to determine his mental status Wednesday.

Jenkins, 28, shouted "Hey you guys, vote for Lee Terry! Best Republican ever!"

Goal ThermometerThe National Republican Campaign Committee had cut an ad juxtaposing Jenkins with Terrry's Democratic opponent Brad Ashford in a Willie Horton-style bid to argue that Ashford was soft on murderers, or something. Now that the actual murderer has weighed in with his own endorsement of Lee Terry, the Lee Terry campaign is running away from the whole mess.
"We're not going to comment on the ranting of a serial killer who never should have gotten out of prison in the first place. This man does not deserve one more second of publicity, which is why we refused to use his name or face in any of the ads our campaign produced."
If you think the NRCC has learned anything from this fiasco of their own making, don't worry. They haven't learned anything, ever.
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10:39 Why The Maine Nurse’s Bike Ride Is Not A Threat To Public Health» ThinkProgress

Kaci Hickox's act of defiance illustrates exactly why experts say health workers shouldn't be quarantined.

The post Why The Maine Nurse’s Bike Ride Is Not A Threat To Public Health appeared first on ThinkProgress.

10:36 If wannabe GOP state chair succeeds, Michigan could split Electoral College count for partisan gain» Daily Kos
Virginia electors 2012
Virginia Electors, 2012
Goal ThermometerColumnist Susan J. Demas writes that Michigan Republicans "are primed to rig how Michigan awards its electoral votes in lame duck, when no one is paying attention."

Currently and throughout the nation's history, in all but Maine and Nebraska, states go with the winner-take-all approach when it comes to the Electoral College. But in the past few years, Republicans in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin have pondered formulas that award some portion of the electoral votes based on which presidential candidate wins each congressional district. They gave it up under intense pressure.

But Demas thinks retiring Michigan Rep. Peter Lund, who has twice introduced bills to split the state's electoral votes, wants to be GOP state chair. To boost his chances, he might push the legislature in its lame duck session to finally pass his proposal. The result?

Well, consider that Barack Obama thumped Mitt Romney by 10 points (almost 450,000 votes) in Michigan in 2012. Under the GOP electoral college plan, Romney would have taken more of our electoral votes anyway, because he won more congressional districts.

That kind of undermines the whole "one person, one vote" thing.

So how did Romney win more districts? It wasn't magic or even much skill. Every 10 years, we get new districts. The Legislature gets to draw the map, and Republicans were in charge this time around.

It's easy to see this as a thimble-sized issue. But if just five states had adopted the split-the-vote approach prior to the 2012 election, President Romney would have been sitting in the Oval Office 20 months. Here is what the results would have looked like: Florida's 29 Electoral votes for Obama, split 17-12 in favor of Romney; Michigan's 16 votes for Obama, split 9-7 in favor of Romney;  Ohio's 18 votes for Obama, split 12-6 in favor of Romney; Pennsylvania's 20 votes for Obama, split 13-7 in favor of Romney; Virginia's 13 votes for Obama, split 8-5 in favor of Romney; Wisconsin's 10 votes for Obama, split 5-5 in favor of Romney. If the system had been installed nationwide, it would have given Romney even more electoral votes. And McCain would have won in 2008.

Real reform, as opposed to this partisan maneuvering, would require doing away with the Electoral College altogether, which would require the unlikelihood of passing a constitutional amendment or an approach such as that of National Popular Vote. The NPV advocates seek an interstate compact under which states agree to cast all their Electoral College votes to whomever wins the popular vote nationwide. To activate the compact takes agreement from states with 270 electoral votes. So far, 10 states and the District of Columbia have signed on for a total of 161 electoral votes.

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If Michigan Republicans want to fix the anomalous Electoral College, they should pass legislation adding their state to the compact. But, of course, they are interested in rigging the system, not fixing it.
10:36 Scott Brown warns that Ebola AND whooping cough AND polio might cross our borders» Daily Kos
Scott Brown in his pickup, giving a thumbs up.
Goal ThermometerThis notion of the disease-riddled immigrant will apparently always be with us, or will at least be with us so long as there's a Republican running for something.
In an interview with NH1, [New Hampshire carpetbagger running for something Scott Brown] rejected the idea that he was running on "fear"–Ebola, he said, was the "No. 1, 2, and 3" issue on the minds of voters he talked to.

"Carrying diseases doesn't need to be Ebola," said Brown. "but the whooping cough and polio and other types of potential diseases are coming through."

There hasn't been a case of polio in the Americas in a very long time, thanks to our good friend Childhood Vaccinations; suspecting border-crossers of having polio seems to be a trope invented by some far-right conspiracy theorist and spread to fellow conservatives via unvaccinated Twitter feeds. As for whooping cough, that and diseases like measles have seen a resurgence in the United States the past few years, but that's because more people in places like, ahem, Texas are refusing vaccinations. Immigrants are less likely to have whooping cough than Americans in some parts of the United States because most of the other nations in our hemisphere know to vaccinate their children against deadly but preventable illnesses.
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As an aside, if Ebola is really the only pressing national concern that people talking to Scott Brown can come up with, New Hampshire must be a magical wonderland that hardly needs senators at all. Let's just appoint Scott Brown the New Hampshire Ebola czar and call it done. He can watch out for Ebolas trying to carpetbag their way into the state and club them to death with a big burlap sack full of SuperPAC money. Put the man to work at something he'd be good at, for crying out loud.
10:35 Daily Kos Elections ad roundup: Democrats attack Bob Beauprez for 'falsely exploiting a murder'» Daily Kos

Leading Off:

CO-Gov: The DGA jumps on a recent controversial spot run by Republican Bob Beauprez.

Here's the background: Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is considering commuting the death sentence for convicted murderer Nathan Dunlap to life in prison. Beauprez and his allies have been attacking Hickenlooper over it, with Beauprez arguing that this is another sign the governor is weak. A different RGA ad focusing on Dunlap also made news recently and led to a great deal of controversy in its own right.  

The DGA is now jumping on the controversy. The spot blames Beauprez for the ad, saying he "falsely exploits a murder," and mentions that the victim's widow asked Beauprez to stop using the tragedy in his ads. Needless to say, this is a very delicate situation. The Republicans are saying that Dunlap is a valid issue; the RGA's recent spot starred the father of one of his victims calling Hickenlooper a coward.

If voters agree with the Democrats that Beauprez and his allies are exploiting the deaths of innocent people, it could definitely backfire for Team Red. However, if they side with the GOP and decide that Hickenlooper's actions show weakness, it could very well hurt the governor. In a close and unpredictable race like this, it's not unreasonable to say that this whole matter could decide the election.

Head below the fold for a roundup of ads from races across the country.

1:13 PM PT: As of Thursday afternoon, the DGA's spot was no longer available on YouTube. It's possible that this was unintentional, but given how hot-button the topic of the ad is, it's also possible that Democrats want to keep as low a profile as possible when discussing it. We'll see if we learn more.

10:20 Rush Limbaugh Defends Street Harassment: ‘It Was Men Being Polite’» ThinkProgress

"I was expecting some real real rotten conduct by guys and and I didn't see that," Limbaugh stated."

The post Rush Limbaugh Defends Street Harassment: ‘It Was Men Being Polite’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

10:01 When he wasn't outsourcing your job, David Perdue was poisoning your kid» Daily Kos
David Perdue
Goal Thermometer

David Perdue's stint as CEO of Dollar General was probably the line on his resume that made him a viable candidate for Senate in Georgia, where the discount chain has dozens of stores. Being CEO of Dollar General is also what Perdue hangs his job creation claims on—at least, his American job creation claims—after a career mostly spent outsourcing production and jobs overseas. But in addition to creating terrible jobs and discriminating against women under Perdue's leadership, Dollar General was forced to recall numerous Chinese-made products, including several toys that posed dangers to children.

At a recent debate, Perdue defended himself on outsourcing by saying that, at Dollar General, "we created almost 20,000 jobs in about four years and yet we outsourced almost every product we sold in our stores," but stuck with his new definition of outsourcing by insisting that many of those products were "outsourced" from the United States. Dollar General did sell many American-made products. But "Perdue expanded the company’s reach into low-cost Asian markets, including opening up a Hong Kong sourcing office in 2004," and it was with Chinese-made goods that the chain repeatedly ran into trouble:

...  more than 1.2 million products imported from China were yanked from shelves during his tenure. The recalls were mostly because of lead contamination but also problems such as fire hazards. Only one injury was reported from the products, a 2-year-old who suffered mouth and throat irritation from a chemical after chewing on a watch band. [...]

In all, Dollar General went through seven recalls during Perdue’s tenure as CEO from 2003 to 2007.

Not what you want to see in a candidate's one semi-legitimate claim to having created American jobs. Dollar General paid Perdue tens of millions of dollars—even more than it subsequently paid to settle gender discrimination complaints by more than 2,000 women. So it made him an even richer man, and bolstered his CEO-politician image ... but Dollar General still doesn't make Perdue look like a candidate who cares about working people.
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09:48 Fox & Friends Attacks Hispanic Civil Rights Group, Suggests Wash . Post Is "Promoting Voter Fraud"» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

The hosts of Fox & Friends wondered whether a Washington Post infographic that shows the different levels of documentary identification required to vote in each state promotes voter fraud, and they also cast suspicion on the intentions of the country's leading Hispanic civil rights advocacy group that highlighted the article on Twitter.

The Washington Post published an informational piece on October 27 that summarizes which states in the U.S. require or request photo ID, another form of documentary ID, or a non-documentary form of identification to vote. The source The Washington Post relied on, the National Conference of State Legislatures, makes clear that the article and graphic focus on documentary identification, of which strict voter ID -- a photo ID requirement that is selective about which photo IDs are acceptable -- is the most stringent type. As the NCSL explains, not all states require documentary identification. Other states have " 'non-documentary' ID requirements, meaning voters must verify their identity in other ways, such as by signing an affidavit or poll book, or by providing personal information. In addition, all states have procedures for challenging voter eligibility."

But on the October 30 edition of Fox & Friends, hosts Steve Doocy, Anna Kooiman, and Brian Kilmeade highlighted the fact that the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a Hispanic advocacy group, retweeted the Post article. Doocy suggested the Post is encouraging voter fraud, and Kooiman cast suspicion on NCLR's promotion of the article:

DOOCY: Are they, is The Washington Post promoting voter fraud or just doing a public service?

KOOIMAN: Well, I mean, The Washington Post just put it out there, but this immigration group tweeted it, and then La Raza retweeted it, and it wasn't just, you know, nonpartisan. It had the hashtag #TurnOutForWhat, which is the pro-Democrat hashtag.

Despite Fox & Friends' attempt to attribute a nefarious intention to the article and NCLR, strict voter ID laws have become a significant obstacle to many Americans attempting to vote, and because of ongoing legal challenges, the requirements to vote in many states are in flux. Eligible voters in Texas have already been turned away because of the state's restrictive voter ID law, which was recently blocked and then reinstated. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that similar laws in Kansas and Tennessee brought voter turnout down 1.9 and 2.2 percentage points, respectively -- which amounted to 122,000 fewer votes. As The Washington Post explained in its summary of the report, "[y]oung people, black people, and newly registered voters were the groups that were more likely to see bigger drops in turnout."

Courts and social scientists have repeatedly found strict voter ID laws to be racially discriminatory toward or linked to bias against voters of color. Researchers at the University of Southern California found that when they emailed state legislators posing as a voter asking whether or not he could vote without a driver's license, "legislators who had supported voter ID laws were much more likely to respond to 'Jacob Smith' than to 'Santiago Rodriguez.'" The Washington Post's Wonkblog further summarized the findings:

"The fact that legislators supporting voter identification responded so much l[ess] to the Latino name is evidence anti-Latino bias, unrelated to electoral considerations, might be influencing these public policies," they write.

A University of Delaware study found that white survey respondents who saw a picture of black voters were more likely to support voter ID laws than those who were shown an image of white voters or no image. And two experts from the University of Massachusetts Boston wrote in The Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog that "restrictions on voting derived from both race and class":

The more that minorities and lower-income individuals in a state voted, the more likely such restrictions were to be proposed. Where minorities turned out at the polls at higher rates the legislation was more likely enacted.

More specifically, restrictive proposals were more likely to be introduced in states with larger African-American and non-citizen populations and with higher minority turnout in the previous presidential election.

And the Fox hosts' concern about supposed "voter fraud" is unfounded -- studies and investigations have found that in-person voter impersonation, the kind of fraud that voter ID laws are supposed to prevent, is so rare that it is almost nonexistent.

09:47 4 Reasons Progressives Can Be Glad The San Francisco Giants Won the World Series» ThinkProgress

Team members have been involved in a variety of causes, from LGBT rights to immigration reform.

The post 4 Reasons Progressives Can Be Glad The San Francisco Giants Won the World Series appeared first on ThinkProgress.

09:45 Fox's Beckel on catcall victim: 'Damn, baby, you're a piece of woman'» Daily Kos
Goal Thermometer
What happens when the Fox News "The Five" is confronted with one woman's ten-hour experiment in which she received over 100 catcalls, was stalked by two men—one who walked with her for five minutes—and for which she has received rape threats. It's Fox, so it's as a bad as you'd expect.

Host Greg Gutfeld says that, you know, men have a really hard time approaching women without being awkward and the way to do it is in bars but that's clumsy but anyway, this woman is a class snob because "she's finding fault with men on the street saying hello to her, which may in fact be their only way of contacting women. It's their bar, and she's walking through it." Eric Bolling adds, that with the exception of the guy who followed her for five minutes, the men in the video "weren't disrespectful." So there you go women, the public streets are men's domain. If you go there, it's your fault if you get harassed and are bothered by it, because the men remarking about your body and what they'd like to do with it are just showing you respect.

But the real topper comes, of course, from token liberal Bob Beckel.

"She got 100 catcalls, let me add 101. Damn, baby, you're a piece of woman."
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And he's probably enough of a troglodyte to think that she's going to find his creepy, dirty old man schtick flattering. Fox News, ladies and gentlemen. The creepy, dirty old man network.
09:07 Largest Underwater Statue Holds Ocean on its Shoulders» LiveScience.com
The biggest underwater sculpture ever built was placed under the waters off Nassau in the Bahamas.
09:05 Photos: The Largest Underwater Sculpture» LiveScience.com
The Ocean Atlas underwater sculpture, an 18-foot (5.4 meters), 60-ton statue was recently deployed off the coast of Nassau in the Bahamas
09:04 3.5 percent third-quarter growth in GDP exceeds economists' consensus» Daily Kos
Growth of real (inflation-adjusted) U.S. gross domestic product for the third quarter outpaced the consensus of analysts. The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis announced Thursday that, on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis, real GDP grew 3.5 percent in the July-September period, a deceleration from the second quarter's 4.6 percent, but well ahead of the 3 percent that economists surveyed by Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal had forecast.

The growth made for the best two consecutive quarters since 2003 and the fourth out of the past five in which it has been 3 percent or better. It also confirmed that the first quarter's 2.1 percent contraction was an outlier heavily affected by fierce winter weather in some parts of the nation, something many close observers said was the case when that quarter's results were first announced six months ago. Inflation-adjusted GDP growth is up 2.3 percent over what it was a year ago.

The GDP figures seem to indicate a healthier economy than anything we've seen since 2007. But it's always worth remembering that GDP is a flawed gauge. Distribution of the benefits of growth has been skewed toward the top economic tier for decades, but this has worsened in the past few years. Sentier Research says the average (mean) real household income has fallen 2.9 percent to $54,045 since June 2009, the official end of the Great Recession.

Based on newly released figures from the Social Security Administration, average real pay for 2013 was $43,041—down $79 from the previous year, writes David Cay Johnston. Average pay fell $508 from the 2007 level. On an inflation-adjusted basis, median pay—half of Americans earn more, half earn less—increased $109 in 2013, to $28,031. That put it at $320 below the 2000 median. The starkness of income inequality is reflected in the gains by the one group in Social Security's 60 pay categories that did well: Americans making more than $50 million saw their average pay rise in 2013 by $12.8 million, to $111.7 million.

Thursday's is the first of three GDP estimates the Commerce Department announces each quarter. The first is always a much rougher estimate than the two which follow for a simple reason: Better data are available about each quarter as the months go by.

The GDP announcement is the last major economic statistic we'll see before the election next week. While the economy still has immense, chronic problems—in addition to pallid wage growth—Republican candidates hoping to boost their chances at the polls with a weak GDP number are out of luck.

The report's details showed growth to be decelerating but still relatively strong in most categories. Trade added 1.32 percent of the growth in GDP as imports slowed, much of which is attributable to reduced oil imports. Exports increased 7.8 percent in the third quarter compared with 11.1 percent in the second. Imports decreased 1.7 percent compared with an increase in the second quarter of 11.3 percent.

There's more analysis below the fold.

08:50 Boehner scrambles on lawsuit, but says he still plans to sue Obama for something, maybe» Daily Kos
Rep. Joe Barton and Rep. John Boehner announce something or other.
Republican solutions: Sue Obama, for something, maybe
Goal Thermometer

From the moment that House Speaker John Boehner announced his lawsuit against President Obama, it was obvious that it was a principled stand against an imperial presidency on verge of becoming a dictatorship pathetic attempt to mollify loopy teapartiers who believe Republican congressional leaders are sellouts.

The fact that the lawsuit still hasn't been filed more four months after announcing it only confirms its pathetic nature, and now we're learning that it's even more pathetic yet, because Boehner can't seem to find a law firm willing to handle it, a fact that his office blames on Democrats:

“The litigation remains on track, but we are examining the possibility of forgoing outside counsel and handling the litigation directly through the House, rather than through law firms that are susceptible to political pressure from wealthy, Democratic-leaning clients,” [Boehner spokesman Kevin] Smith said.
That's pure baloney. The litigation never was on track, isn't on track, and Democrats aren't the reason they can't find a law firm to handle it. There are plenty of firms that don't lean Democratic and there are even firms that are Republican, but none of them are interested in handling the case because it's an obvious loser motivated by political considerations inside the House Republican Conference instead of sound legal theory.

But even if it were true that Democrats were blocking outside firms from taking the case, nothing stopped Boehner's office from handling it internally. The only reason they've taken this long is because even Boehner-land knows their case is a stinker.

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So now that it's been revealed that the emperor has no clothes, what is Boehner's next move? Turn it into an exercise in xenophobia:
Boehner’s office also suggested the suit, which planned to challenge Obama’s failure to implement aspects of his health care reform law, could be broadened if Obama goes forward, as promised, with plans for executive action on immigration.

“We are also closely following what the administration does on executive amnesty, and the possible impact that could have on the litigation strategy,” Smith said.

The original lawsuit was supposed to be about Obamacare. Now they're talking about using it to force the Obama administration to accelerate deportations. To say these guys are chickens running around with their heads cut off would be polite.
08:46 Writer fired for calling Mike Brown an animal who needed to be put down» Daily Kos
Sometimes in life you get a second chance for mistakes you make.

When Don Surber, editorial columnist for Charleston's Daily Mail, called Mike Brown an "animal" who deserved to "be put down," and referred to protestors as "packs of racists," he crossed a line where second chances are much harder to come by.

Today Surber was fired by the Daily Mail for his incendiary comments about Mike Brown and protestors and the following statement, titled "Regrets and a Change," was issued:

The point of view of The Charleston Daily Mail’s editorial page is conservative.

It was so disheartening to see the careless words of one of our own editorial writers describing a young man whose life ended tragically too soon.

Writing on his own personal blog, Don Surber discussed the tense race-related situation in Ferguson Missouri. He selected words that were unfortunate, inflammatory and, in our view, inexcusable.


As of this week, Mr. Surber is no longer employed by the Daily Mail. While his sometimes controversial and caustic columns were noted by many readers, few readers realize the in-depth institutional knowledge and substantial contributions he made during his 30 year career here.

Sadly, referring to African Americans with animal adjectives has a deep and ugly history in this country. Thankfully, the Daily Mail understands that one can be fully and staunchly conservative without advancing that ugly history into 2014. Mike Brown was not an animal, but rather a son, a brother, a friend, a teenager who died a tragic death.
08:29 Maffei ad hits back at attacks on where his baby was born» Daily Kos
Goal Thermometer
Rep. Dan Maffei is out with a new ad hitting back at attacks by Republican John Katko that Maffei has abandoned his Syracuse district because his baby was born in the wrong place. In the ad, Maffei says:
I'm all for a lively debate about the issues. But what's not up for debate? My family.

I'm proud of my wife and her work in international humanitarian relief, and we couldn't be prouder of our newborn daughter.

I grew up in central New York. It's who I am, and it's who I'll always be. And it's why I won't stand for John Katko's personal attacks on my family. I'm Dan Maffei, and I approve this message, because I'll always stand up for middle-class families.

So basically, Katko's attack has allowed Maffei to showcase his international humanitarian relief-working wife and baby daughter while being very masculine protector and taking the moral high ground over the fact that they were used in an attack. Not to mention that the original attack had more than a whiff of desperation to it. Smooth all around.
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We're in the final push to the election, which means we may be seeing more desperate attacks like this. Democrats just need to keep our heads in the game and work to get out the vote.
07:38 John Kasich dodges question on his rape crisis counselor gag rule, bratty kid style» Daily Kos
Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks during the CERAWEEK global energy conference in Houston March 7, 2012.  REUTERS/Donna W. Carson    (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY HEADSHOT POLITICS) - RTR2Z07W
Gov. John Kasich (R-OH)
Goal Thermometer

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he believes abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest, yet he signed a bill prohibiting rape crisis counselors from telling victims that abortion is an option. That's not a contradiction he's prepared to talk about, though—and especially not if his Democratic opponent is the one doing the asking. At an endorsement meeting for the Cleveland Plain Dealer—the video of which the Plain Dealer is trying to keep from being seen by the public—both candidates were present, and Ed FitzGerald put the question directly to Kasich: "Why was it important to have a piece of legislation that literally imposed a gag rule on rape crisis counselors?"

FitzGerald even specified that "I hope you don’t just fall back on your usual kind of generic statements that you’re pro-life, or that you have sympathy for people that have gone through sexual assault," which is exactly what Kasich did. Eventually.

Kasich would not answer the question until it was repeated (in fumbling fashion) by a Plain Dealer editor. In fact, Kasich literally pretended FitzGerald was not there and that no one had spoken to him. FitzGerald finishes asking this rather important question and Kasich just sits there, staring into space. When the editor asks "Would you like to answer that, governor?", Kasich replies "Do you have a question?" After some back and forth in which FitzGerald is forced to explain to the editor that "He’s trying to pretend he didn’t hear me say it, so you need to repeat it," Kasich finally—as predicted—falls back on generic statements that he's pro-life. Which the male editor of a newspaper that went on to endorse Kasich after watching him pointedly pretend his opponent wasn't there, in the manner of a child trying to annoy his sibling, accepts as an answer to the question of why Kasich imposed a gag order on rape crisis counselors, even though he didn't pretend to answer it. Eventually, a female editor jumps in:

EDITOR: Governor, let me push you on that a little bit more. Because if I’m a female voter, and I’ve been raped, and I go to a rape crisis counselor, I’m not going to be able to get the information I need to make a decision. What are you trying to tell that voter?

KASICH: I’m not trying to tell them anything. The voters in this state, I think by and large, know I’m pro-life. And let me just say that what Ms. Rios was just saying — I mean, this has been a debate that’s gone on since I’ve been around politics. We have Democratic women who are fervently pro-life. We have Republican women who are not. I mean, that’s just the way it is. And so what I choose to focus on is that we can debate this all day long. But at the end of the day, I respect people that have a different position beyond that. But they need to understand my position. It’s just that simple. I’m pro-life.

"I'm not trying to tell them anything" seems like the crux of this. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is preventing rape crisis counselors from giving full information to rape victims, and he has nothing to say to anyone who might be affected by it. Nothing. You've been raped? Kasich is not interested in explaining how his policies affect you. The only information he wants out there is that he's pro-life, without any discussion of how his laws affect women who've been raped.
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A Republican trying to hide the details of his extreme positions on abortion is an everyday occurrence. A major newspaper like the Plain Dealer allowing a governor to refuse to answer a question while behaving like a bratty 11 year old, then trying to cover up the video evidence is something special. And Ohio voters really do deserve to know why John Kasich is trying to come between rape crisis counselors and the women they treat. (Video of the meeting, which the Plain Dealer is likely to have removed from YouTube again, is below the fold.)
07:34 Nurse takes a bike ride. Paul LePage clears his schedule to monitor her.» Daily Kos
Governor Paul R. LePage gave the opening remarks at his Governor's Conference on Education, Putting Students First., March 22, 2013.
Gov. Paul LePage, terrified.
Goal ThermometerKaci Hickox, the nurse who volunteered to treat Ebola patients in Africa with Doctors Without Borders, and returned last week, not to grateful thanks for fighting the epidemic there to keep it from coming here, but to involuntary quarantine in a tent without a flushing toilet or shower in New Jersey, is back home in Maine and taking on Gov. Paul LePage with what Fox News clearly believes is a homicidal bicycle ride.

Yes, Hickox has gone for a bike ride with her boyfriend, and the media has gone wild. As has LePage.

Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend stepped out of their home Thursday morning and rode away on mountain bikes, followed by state police cruiser.

Police were monitoring her movements and public interactions but couldn't detain her without a court order signed by a judge.

Hickox contends there's no need for quarantine because she's showing no symptoms. She's also tested negative for the deadly disease. […]

But Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who canceled campaign events to keep tabs on the situation, maintained that the state must be "vigilant" to protect others.

And state officials will go to court to try to get an order to detain Hickox, according to the AP report. Of course they are, because LePage clearly thinks this issue is the most important thing happening in his state right now. However, they might have a harder time convincing a judge of that, says attorney and health law expert said attorney Jackie L. Caynon III: "If somebody isn't showing signs of the infection, then it's kind of hard to say someone should be under mandatory quarantine." Which is Hickox's point entirely.

Keep in mind that only one Ebola patient in the United States has died, because he was initially incorrectly diagnosed. That's a 90 percent survival rate in what is a very small sample. Because when treated quickly and appropriately, Ebola doesn't seem to spread. Keep in mind that even the family of that victim, Thomas Duncan, who lived with him while he was sick, have all remained healthy. None contracted the disease. Nor did the families of the first two doctors to be treated in the US, both of whom are now perfectly healthy. So far no one close to the two nurses who contracted it from the very sick Duncan has become ill.

Also keep in mind that Hickox has every intention of staying alive. She's witnessed Ebola at its worst, and you can bet she doesn't want to get sick with it, or to transmit it to anyone else. You can also bet she's taking her temperature regularly to make sure she gets immediate treatment if she doesn't remain healthy. Which she is right now—healthy. Not sick. Not contagious. Because as all the experts know and have been telling us over and over and over again, someone with Ebola is not contagious until they are actually sick.

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But that's just logic and scientific and medical expertise. LePage sure as hell doesn't have time for all that. Not when he might be able to pick up a few votes from the easily terrified crowd. You know, Fox News viewers.
07:18 Vlad the Impaler: The Real Dracula's Dark Secrets » LiveScience.com
A few facts help explain how the real Dracula earned such a nasty reputation.
07:13 Leading Hispanic Civil Rights Group To Fox News: Encouraging Americans To Vote Is Not "Voter Fraud"» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

Fox & Friends still

National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a leading Hispanic civil rights group, issued a statement responding to Fox News' baseless claim that the organization had encouraged voter fraud.

After NCLR retweeted a link to an October 27 article from the Washington Post which features an infographic of the different levels of identification required to vote in each state, the hosts of Fox & Friends responded by suggesting the organization was promoting voter fraud.

On October 30, NCLR responded to Fox's suggestion that the organization may be promoting fraudulent voting in a statement on its blog. Pointing to the "fact-free" Fox & Friends segment, the organization explained that its mission is nonpartisan and "works to promote the civic and political participation of the Hispanic community" by helping qualified voters to perform their civic duty. Countering Fox's claim, NCLR asserted that calling its sharing of the article "fraud" was "not only woefully incorrect" but also "irresponsible and deliberately deceptive":

NCLR is a nonpartisan organization that works to promote the civic and political participation of the Hispanic community. Informing eligible Latino voters about whether their state has a voter ID requirement is a way to educate them about what they need to do to vote on Election Day--no different than sharing information about their polling locations. To suggest that sharing basic information about voting requirements is an attempt at fraud is not only woefully incorrect, it is irresponsible and deliberately deceptive.

Like the vast majority of Americans, we believe in fair elections, which is why we will continue to work hard to ensure that every eligible Latino voter makes it to the voting booth this November.

Fox's claim that NCLR had promoted voter fraud by attempting to explain voting requirements to Latinos ignored the already significant obstacles presented by voter ID laws to this demographic group. According to a 2012 report by the NALEO Educational Fund, although Latino voter turnout has "reach[ed] historic highs," the demographic is still "likely to lag behind comparable participation rates of Americans of other races and ethnicities" due to lack of outreach, language accessibility, and "knowledge of voting procedures and requirements." The organization explained that in particular, "restrictive changes enacted to voting policy" such as requiring government-issued photo identification cards, "will have a worse effect on the Latino electorate than on all voters in the aggregate."

07:09 Anti-choice Republican may join renegade New York Senate Democrats—and it looks like they want him» Daily Kos
New York state Sen. Mark Grisanti (R)
Mark Grisanti
Goal Thermometer

By now you probably know that even though Democrats have a majority of seats in New York's state Senate, the chamber is actually controlled by the minority Republicans, along with a band of renegade Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC. This sordid arrangement has thwarted all manner of progressive priorities, including the Women's Equality Act, which, among other things, would ensure that New York law permits women to get abortions when their health is threatened. Republicans put up a fuss over that particular provision, though, and the IDC readily acquiesced in refusing to push for an actual vote on the floor.

Sensing that this willingness to aid and abet the GOP might put them at risk in the Democratic primaries, the IDC made some vague promises over the summer that they'd rejoin their mainstream Democratic counterparts next year. Very quickly thereafter, though, they started trying to walk back that pledge, and now it turns out they may actually head in the exact opposite direction.

State Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Republican from the Buffalo area, lost his primary last month to conservative challenger Kevin Stocker but has continued with his re-election bid on the Independence Party line. He managed to retain the endorsement of the Republican Party, but he might not caucus with them should he win next week. In fact, says Grisanti, he met with Jeff Klein, leader of the IDC junta, and may just sign on with them:

"I'm going to conference with whoever is going to be the best availability for Western New York," he said. "I can tell you I'm not going to conference with downstate Democrats. But the I.D.C. have been great partners with us. I don't know if the I.D.C. is going to join back with the Republicans or go with downstate."
And the IDC seems quite interested in having Grisanti join their splinter cell. They recently donated $150,000 to the New York League of Conservation Voters, with the very clear intent of earmarking that money to aid Grisanti and thwart Democrat Marc Panepinto. (And the LCV has indeed been spending big on Grisanti's behalf.)

So what will the IDC get for its efforts, should they prove successful? A wholly anti-choice Republican who sneers at the notion of protecting women's health when it comes to abortion:

He said he fears that a liberal interpretation of measures in the act that he says would allow late-term abortions if not only the "life" but the "health" of the mother were threatened. He maintains that even most pro-choice voters do not favor allowing abortion up to the time of birth.

"I believe it is an expansion of abortion, and I will not support it," he said.

That's reminiscent of what this fellow once had to say on the very same topic:
Animated GIF of John McCain putting air quotes around the phrase 'health of the mother'
The IDC has long made it plain that they value power above all else. Their desire to welcome the anti-choice Grisanti into their fetid clubhouse is only further proof. However, this is actually a Democratic district, and Panepinto—who has pledged not to join the IDC and supports the entire Women's Equality Act—has an excellent chance at picking up the seat, especially with Grisanti, Stocker, and a third candidate running on the Conservative Party line all splitting the Republican vote.
Don't you hate Democrats who caucus with Republicans? Give $3 to help Marc Panepinto fight back against the shnooks of the IDC.

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New York is a blue state. It deserves a blue state Senate. Please do your part to help right this wrong—and send a message to would-be renegade Democrats everywhere that actions have consequences.
07:07 Hurricane Gonzalo Stirs Up Miles of Sediment Around Bermuda (Photo)» LiveScience.com
Hurricane Gonzalo hit Bermuda earlier this month, stirring up miles of calcium carbonate sediment that forms the foundation of the island.
07:01 Ebola 'Patient Zero': How Outbreak Started from Single Child» LiveScience.com
When Ebola virus hit a small village in Guinea for the first time, the victim was just a toddler, who later became known to the world as Patient Zero.
06:50 Cartoon: Ernest Hemingway's new typewriter» Daily Kos

Follow @RubenBolling on Twitter and Facebook.

And "prove your virtue"* by joining the Tom the Dancing Bug subscription service, the INNER HIVE!  "You'll feel good!"*


*Disclosure: these quotes actually apply to NPR pledges.<!--more-->

06:48 Why Flu Strikes in Winter» LiveScience.com
Winter is almost here, and that means a likely increase in people falling ill from flu. But why is flu season in winter anyway?
06:45 Angus King switches support to Mike Michaud: He'll 'represent the majority of Maine people'» Daily Kos
Michael Michaud for Governor glamour head shot
Rep. Mike Michaud, Democratic candidate for Maine governor
Goal Thermometer

Hours after Maine independent Eliot Cutler announced that while he wasn't abandoning his campaign for governor, his supporters should "vote their conscience," the state's independent senator, Angus King, switched his endorsement from Cutler to Democrat Mike Michaud:

“But, like Eliot, I too am a realist. After many months considering the issues and getting to know the candidates, it is clear that the voters of Maine are not prepared to elect Eliot in 2014,” King said in a written statement. “The good news is that we still have a chance to elect a governor who will represent the majority of Maine people: my friend and colleague, Mike Michaud. And today, I’d like to offer him my support.”

He added, “This was not an easy decision, but I think the circumstances require that those of us who have supported Eliot look realistically at the options before us at this critical moment in Maine history,” King said.

And one of the options is current Gov. Paul LePage, and that is clearly an unacceptable option. LePage and Michaud are tied in recent polls, with Cutler trailing badly and his supporters more likely to switch their allegiance to Michaud than to LePage. The Republican Governors Association even tried to take advantage of the situation with an ad boosting Cutler—an ad that cited King's now-revoked endorsement.
This race is close! Please chip in $3 to help Mike Michaud get out the vote.

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats.
Maine voters have a choice between a far-right bully in LePage and a former mill worker who would be America's first openly LGBT governor. On style and substance, the choice couldn't be more clear.
06:37 Google's Cancer-Detecting Nanoparticles: Are There Drawbacks? » LiveScience.com
Google is developing nanoparticles that the company hopes will catch early signs of disease, but are there potential drawbacks to the technology?
06:30 Fox's Bill O'Reilly: "The White Republican Power Structure Is Afraid Of Black Americans"» Media Matters for America - Latest Items
05:30 Daily Kos Election Outlook: Alaska suddenly becomes interesting again» Daily Kos
As we discussed on Monday, the overall odds are somewhat against the Democrats being able to retain control of the Senate, but there are a number of credible pathways for them to get there. The most frequently-occurring pathways (when we run thousands of simulations) go through only a few races, though; they involve winning a mix-and-match assortment of three of four iffy races: Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, and Kansas.

Here's why any of those might happen:

Colorado: Polls in the last few cycles have tended to undersell Democratic odds in Colorado. The large majority of Senate polls in 2010 predicted that Republican Ken Buck would win (which didn't happen), and polls predicted a much narrower Barack Obama victory in 2012 than actually happened. That's probably because Colorado has larger shares of Hispanic and younger voters, who tend to be harder to reach (especially by pollsters who don't call cellphones) and who may not fit into a stringent likely-voter model. When pollsters take the time to make sure they're sampling the Latino population correctly — as a Wednesday poll from Strategies 360 did — they tend to find Mark Udall with a narrow lead.

Iowa: The polls seem likelier to be right in Iowa — a much whiter and older state, and one with a stable population instead of a lot of growth — than they are in Colorado. However, Iowa is the state with the most consistently close polling; most polls in the last few weeks have seen this as a one- or two-point race. Unfortunately, most of those one- or two-point leads have gone in Joni Ernst's favor, but a Wednesday poll by Loras College put Bruce Braley up by one. Good ground game isn't a magic bullet but can add a point or two to your total, so Dem GOTV efforts could get Braley narrowly over the top.

Kansas: Independent candidate Greg Orman seems likelier than not to win, although his lead is fairly small. The real question mark associated with Orman is whether he caucuses with the Democrats; he's said he would caucus with whoever is in the majority, but hasn't said what he'd do in a situation involving 49 Dems and 50 GOPers where the majority is entirely up to him. Considering what a beating he's taken from the NRSC lately, though, you've got to wonder how excited he'd be about breaking bread with them afterwards.

That leaves Alaska, which a week ago was looking the least promising of those four. Mark Begich had trailed in all nine polls from the previous month, by margins ranging from two to six. Then, odd stuff started happening. A poll by Hellenthal, a local pollster, over last weekend put Begich up 10; on its own, it screamed 'outlier,' but the pollster swore that Begich's unprecedented ground game efforts were truly changing the game. Then, on Monday, it stopped being an outlier; another poll by another local pollster, Ivan Moore, found Begich up 8.

Begich's opponent, Dan Sullivan, released an internal poll on Tuesday showing Sullivan leading by 4 to try to rebut those polls, but even that was quite a tell: it's an internal poll with a smaller margin for him than most of the public polls gave him in the preceding month. For purposes of our model, that pencils out to only a one-point Sullivan lead.

That isn't to say that we're confident that Begich has pulled into the lead here. For one thing, that's still not a lot of polls showing a lead; Alaska still gets polled a lot less than the other crucial Senate states. There were only two other Alaska polls in the last week: a Dem internal poll (on behalf of Senate Majority PAC) showing the race tied (showing a best-case scenario that's worse than the public pollsters), and a YouGov poll giving Sullivan a four-point lead. (Bear in mind, though, that the YouGov poll has a tiny Alaska sample, with a margin of error of 9 percent.) One other data point that might cool your enthusiasm: Harry Enten and Nate Silver found that Alaska polling tends to have a higher error rate than most other states, and — also unlike most other states, like Colorado above — those errors usually give an errant boost to the Democratic candidates.

We'll look other changes in the model this week, over the fold:

05:30 Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 am ET!» Daily Kos
Daily Kos Radio logo
It's a Joan McCarter Thursday! That's pretty rare, and it makes today's show a collector's item!

And it's not even the FBI impersonating Joan, which is a thing they're doing now, apparently. Well, impersonating people. Not Joan.

Or perhaps that's what they want you to think!

Listen LIVE at 9:00 ET, here: Click this Link to Listen on your iTunes, Winamp or Windows Media Player

Daily Kos Radio's Kagro in the Morning show podcasts are now available through iTunes.


Listen to Stitcher
Help support the show through Stitcher's revenue sharing program. Be one of 5,000 "active listeners" per month, and, well, they send us money. All you need to do, believe it or not, is listen to 30 seconds of a show, once in a month. Seriously! Choose any one of the shows at this link, listen to 30 seconds' worth, and you're on board!

Did you happen to miss our last LIVE show? You can catch it here:

Greg Dworkin's morning update partly concerns something called "Ebola," and the importance of a "big picture" response, both nationally and internationally. Local Connecticut color on gun issues in the election. Breaking news: the election is pretty close. Kaci Hickox isn't putting up with non-scientific quarantine rules. For the record: Jose Canseco's GunFAIL. How does this kind of thing happen? Armando joins us to discuss the NYT piece on lobbying operations targeting state Attorneys General. 42 mega-donors provide nearly a third of all super PAC funds. The much-discussed story of how the ACA has fared in Mississippi. More questions about Montana's "Mailergate." Must read: A pre-K teacher reflects on lockdown drills. White House cyberattacked. The inevitable speculation about Harry Reid.

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

05:24 Economics Daily Digest: Sister cities, the health care industry, and minimum wage» Daily Kos
Chicago skyline

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Sister City Relationships Boost Business in Chicago, Phoenix and S.F. (Next City)

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Defense and Diplomacy Nehemiah Rolle examines how these relationships allow cities to be power players in the global economy. He shows where these agreements can boost growth for both cities.

Sister cities have the capacity to create a new paradigm for urban economies in post-Great Recession America. As they bypass a stagnant federal government, cities are using these relationships to establish themselves as power players in a global economy in which they were once only spectators.

Follow below the fold for more.

05:17 Cheers and Jeers: Thursday» Daily Kos
C&J Banner


Maine Governor's Race: The Choices

Democrat Mike Michaud: Expand Medicaid to cover 70,000 Mainers
Independent Eliot Cutler: Expand Medicaid to cover 70,000 Mainers
Tea Party Republican Paul LePage: Get sick on your own dime, moochers

Michaud: Increase the minimum wage
Cutler: Increase the minimum wage
LePage: Stay poor, suckers

Michaud: Supports public education
Cutler: Supports public education
LePage: Schools = profit centers for private business

Michaud: Supports clean energy
Cutler: Supports clean energy
LePage: Supports offshore oil rigs and piping in tar sands from Canada

Michaud: Thinks before he speaks
Cutler: Thinks before he speaks
LePage: Thinks of the most offensive thing possible before he speaks

Michaud: Now endorsed by Senator Angus King
Cutler: No longer endorsed by Senator Angus King
LePage: The reason Senator Angus King does half a dozen facepalms every day

The Writing on the Wall:
Bioll Clinton stumping for Maine Governor candidate Mike Michaud in 2014
The Big Dawg likes Mike!
Michaud: 40% in the polls
Cutler: 15% in the polls
LePage: 40% in the polls
C'mon Cutler supporters. Your guy reiterated this week---and I quote---"If you don't think I can win on Election Day, then you have my blessing to vote for someone else." Help us end the tea party experiment here---we deserve better. Pull the lever for Mike. It'll be a blessing for Maine.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

05:16 Ancient Stone Circles in Mideast Baffle Archaeologists» LiveScience.com
Huge stone circles called Big Circles that dot some parts of the Mideast have been imaged from above, revealing details of the long-mysterious structures. They are at least 2,000 years old, though archaeologists don't know why they were built.
05:00 Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: A little-known Libertarian is Mark Begich's secret weapon» Daily Kos
Democrat Mark Begich

Leading Off:

AK-Sen: If it worked for Jon Tester, it may just work for Mark Begich. Nathaniel Herz at the Alaska Dispatch News details how the Democratic senator has been boosting the campaign of Libertarian Mark Fish, "tossing him softball questions" in debates and even running radio ads touting Fish's candidacy alongside his own! The two actually have some libertarian-ish views in common, like opposition to the Patriot Act and NSA wiretapping, and one ad features a narrator saying: "That's Mark Begich and Libertarian Mark Fish. True Alaskans fighting the Dan Sullivan surveillance state."

Astute observers will recall that Tester and his allies, during his 2012 re-election campaign, devoted a great deal of effort to propping up Libertarian Dan Cox, even spending large sums on TV ads to promote him. It was definitely successful. Cox got 6.5 percent of the vote, which was probably the largest vote share of any Libertarian candidate for federal office that year. Tester only won by 19,000 votes, far fewer than the 31,000 Cox got. Begich is running a similar race in a similar state, and he could really use that same kind of help.

And this election may be close enough for this maneuver to work. On Wednesday Sullivan released a survey from Moore Information giving him a 42-38 lead over Begich. Sullivan's internal might look positive for him in a vacuum, but it is not good news at all. For one, it follows a Democratic internal that had the race tied, plus two other polls that gave Begich leads of 8 and 10 points—with the latter coming from a Republican pollster. For another, Sullivan's lead is smaller in his own poll than it was in most of the public polls that preceded this latest pro-Begich batch. Could Begich have really managed to turn things around after his September stumbles? Is his unprecedented ground game making the difference? Who knows, but Alaska is all of a sudden looking very exciting down the stretch.

04:43 Photos: Aerial Images Reveal Mysterious 'Big Circles' in Middle East» LiveScience.com
Huge stone circles discovered by air in the Middle East have been imaged with high resolution, revealing their age and other intriguing details. Here's a look at the "Big Circles," which have puzzled scientists for decades.
04:30 Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Quarantines and the election» Daily Kos
Freedom! Liberty! Unless I'm scared, in which case: armed, individual quarantine enforcement! #Gimmetarianism
USA Today:
Gov. Paul LePage said Wednesday that Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox was "unwilling" to follow state health guidelines and that he was seeking legal authority to force her to remain quarantined at a rural home in Maine for 21 days.

Hickox, who does not have any symptoms of the deadly virus, said Wednesday that she would not abide by quarantine rules that she said were "not scientifically nor constitutionally just."

"I don't plan on sticking to the guidelines," Hickox tells Today show's Matt Lauer via Skype. "I am not going to sit around and be bullied by politicians and forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public."

Pretty high correlation between strict state quarantine rules and Governors in both parties up for re-election. Governor Christie is a special case. He's not up for re-election but he thinks he should be president. He's also, by nature, a bully who likes to yell at people .

NBC News:

Other states are taking a milder approach. Texas sent its chief health officer, Dr. David Lakey, to greet a returning nurse on Wednesday. And Governor Rick Perry called the nurse, who wasn’t named.

“In Texas, we have a great tradition of welcoming our heroes back home and this heroic individual deserves our appreciation, our compassion, and our utmost respect,” Perry said in a statement. “The tremendous work that she and so many other health care workers are doing in West Africa is making life better for those in afflicted countries and helps protect the rest of the world from the spread of this terrible disease; they are doing vitally important work that makes us all proud.”

The nurse has agreed to self-quarantine and is being lavished with praise in return.

“This health care hero has made a great sacrifice in traveling abroad to minister to those who are suffering,” Perry said. “Even now home in Texas, she continues to demonstrate her selflessness by agreeing to quarantine herself and further protect her fellow Texans.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says even that’s not necessary. All anyone returning from West Africa needs to do is self-monitor. People who cared for patients without protection, or those who had unprotected contact with a patient, should stay home, but nurses who wore protected gear don’t fall into this category and should simply be closely watched, the CDC advises.

Some states, such as California, are following these guidelines.

More politics and policy below the fold.
03:15 NPR's Morning Edition Repeats GOP Spin About Cory Gardner's Positions On Reproductive Rights» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

National Public Radio's Morning Edition presented falsehoods about Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner (CO) as fact, misrepresenting his extreme policy positions on reproductive rights in a discussion on the battle for the women's vote in the midterm elections.

On Morning Edition, Mara Liasson Misrepresents Gardner's Extreme Positions On Women's Issues

Morning Edition: Liasson Spins Gardner's Record To Paint Him As A Prime Example Of GOP Outreach To Women. On October 30, NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson appeared on Morning Edition to discuss the importance of the women's vote in the 2014 midterms. Liasson claimed that Republicans like Senate candidate Cory Gardner disprove Democrats' narrative that GOP policies hurt women, misrepresenting his policy positions in order to claim the Republican is "affirmatively going after the women's vote this year by changing their positions." [NPR, Morning Edition, 10/30/14]

Liasson Hides Gardner's Support For Federal Personhood Amendment

Liasson: Gardner "Has Disavowed His Support For A Personhood Amendment." Liasson pointed to Gardner's record on personhood bills as evidence that Republicans are "going after the women's vote by changing their positions":

LIASSON: It's not just that Republicans are not making mistakes. They are affirmatively going after the women's vote this year by changing their positions. For instance, in Colorado, Cory Gardner, the Republican, has disavowed his support for a personhood amendment. [NPR, Morning Edition, 10/30/14]

FACT: Gardner Still Supports Federal Personhood Bill, Which He Co-Sponsors. Although Gardner changed his original support of Colorado's personhood legislation -- which would grant the rights afforded to people to a human egg at fertilization -- following criticism that the measures could ban some forms of contraception, the candidate "still backs a federal personhood bill," as FactCheck.org pointed out, citing the Gardner campaign's own admission (emphasis added):

In March, Gardner himself acknowledged that the personhood initiative could lead to a ban or restriction on some forms of birth control. "The past four years as I've learned more about it, I've come to the conclusion it can ban common forms of contraception," Gardner said, according to the Associated Press.


Gardner announced his change of position eight months after he had signed on as a co-sponsor to the federal "Life at Conception Act," which would extend "equal protection for the right to life" under the 14th amendment to the "preborn" from the "moment of fertilization." That language -- giving the rights of a person to the fertilized egg -- is exactly what raises the question of what such a measure would mean for some forms of birth control. Yet Gardner's campaign told us he was not withdrawing his support for the federal legislation. Spokesman Alex Siciliano told us by email: "The federal proposal in question simply states that life begins at conception, as most pro-life Americans believe, with no change to contraception laws." [FactCheck.org, 8/15/14]

FACT: Experts Say Personhood Bills "Erode Women's Basic Rights." In a 2012 statement, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) made clear that it is "unequivocally opposed" to personhood legislation. The ACOG described how these measures "erode women's basic rights" by denying access to "contraception, fertility treatments, pregnancy termination, and other essential medical procedures." [American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2/10/12]

Liasson Falsely Claims Gardner And Planned Parenthood Agree On Over-The-Counter Birth Control

Liasson: Gardner Agrees With Planned Parenthood On Birth Control. Liasson claimed that another example of Gardner's efforts to reach female voters is that he is now "coming out in favor of over-the-counter birth control, and on that issue he now agrees with Planned Parenthood." [NPR, Morning Edition, 10/30/14]

FACT: Planned Parenthood Condemned Gardner's Birth Control Proposal As "Insulting," An "Empty Gesture." In June, Gardner proposed his plan for over-the-counter birth control in an op-ed for The Denver Post. Gardner claimed that repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and making oral contraception available without a prescription will ensure that women have unfettered access to a cheaper medication. Planned Parenthood specifically called out Gardner's proposal in a September press release, saying it was "an empty gesture especially insulting to women." From the release:

'If Cory Gardner and others were serious about expanding access to birth control, they wouldn't be trying to repeal the no-copay birth control benefit, reduce Title X funding for birth control, or cut women off from Planned Parenthood's preventive health services.  This is simply a cynical political attempt to whitewash his terrible record and agenda for women's health. The reality is that Cory Gardner's proposal would actually cost women more by forcing them to pay out of pocket for the birth control that they are getting now at no cost thanks to the ACA. We would welcome a sincere conversation about expanding birth control access for women - sadly Cory Gardner has not offered one,' said Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. [The Denver Post, 6/19/14] [Planned Parenthood, 9/02/14]

03:02 NRO's Dennis Prager: Campus Rape Culture Is A "Gargantuan Lie to Get Votes"» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

From the October 28 Restore America Rally:

It's a gargantuan lie to get votes. It's as big a lie as the culture of rape on your campuses. What nonsense. There is a culture of rape on campuses run by the feminist left? 

What do you cite to sell me this nonsense? One in 5 women are sexually assaulted on campuses. Do you know what sexual assault means? Did you ever look at what counts? An unwanted kiss is considered sexual assault. I'm stunned it's only 1 in 5. Four out of five women have not gotten an unwanted kiss? My wife gets unwanted kisses every so often.

They make light of rape because they redefine these terms. We don't make light of it. We think it is the worst thing possible short of murder. But they make light of it by trivializing it. Culture of Rape? No. I'll tell you why it exists on the campus, and that is: a rape of the culture.


Sarasota Speaker: There Is No Campus 'Culture of Rape'


NRO's Dennis Prager: Heterosexual AIDS is an "entirely manufactured" myth

Conservative Media Jump On Sexual Assault Truther Bandwagon, Cry Foul On White House Report

00:40 In Her New Book, Sharyl Attkisson Accuses Media Matters Of Slander» Media Matters for America - Latest Items


Sharyl Attkisson's crusade against Media Matters continues in her new book, Stonewalled, which contains at least 22 references to the organization. Attkisson's grievances include frustration that Media Matters has a reputation as a "serious" media watchdog and a baseless charge that the organization has attacked her with false information.

00:13 Fox Host: I Initially Thought Falling Gas Prices Were Connected To Midterm Elections Next Week» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

From the October 30 edition of Fox News Channel's The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson:


MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Blasts Fox's Hypocrisy On Gas Prices

Fox Host Who Demagogued Gas Prices Now Asks If Cheap Gas Hurts The Economy


Wed 29 October, 2014

23:54 Fox News Is Trying To Kill Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

Fox News helped turn a bogus story about subpoenas sent to a handful of Houston pastors into a national rallying cry for religious liberty. Now the network is helping promote an event that will pit some of the country's most extreme anti-LGBT voices against the city's nondiscrimination ordinance.

In May, the city of Houston made history by enacting the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a measure that prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and several other categories. The ordinance was championed by the city's first openly gay mayor, Democrat Annise Parker.

Opponents of HERO -- led by the Houston Area Pastor Council -- responded by launching an effort to put a repeal of the ordinance on the ballot in November. Their campaign peddled the myth that HERO would allow men and sexual predators to enter women's restrooms -- a myth that was widely circulated by local media. Though opponents submitted the required number of signatures to put the repeal on the ballot, City Attorney Dave Feldman determined that many of the signatures were collected improperly, and the city announced that not enough valid signatures had been collected.

Opponents quickly filed a lawsuit to have the signatures reviewed, prompting the city to respond by issuing subpoenas to five local pastors for a broad range of documents -- including sermons and personal communications -- related to their opposition to HERO.

On October 14, Fox News reporter and serial misinformer Todd Starnes broke the news of the subpoenas, misleadingly characterizing them as an "attempt to deconstruct religious liberty" and describing HERO as a "bathroom bill." Starnes' report relied heavily on spin from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the extreme right-wing legal group representing the pastors in their effort to quash the subpoenas. ADF attorney Christina Holcomb called the subpoenas "an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of [the city's] actions."

Before long, Starnes' report made the jump to Fox News' airwaves. On October 15, Starnes appeared on The Kelly File to discuss the story, describing HERO as a measure that would let "men who identify as women" to use women's restrooms:

Starnes' appearance was followed by a barrage of misleading segments about the story, all of which depicted the subpoenas as an attack on religious liberty. Multiple Fox personalities incorrectly described the subpoenas as part of the enforcement of HERO, suggesting that the ordinance might criminalize anti-gay speech. Others repeated Starnes' lie that HERO would allow men to use women's restrooms. By the end of the week, in just three days of coverage, Fox had spent nearly thirty minutes of airtime peddling its Houston horror story*.

Fox's panicked coverage was grossly misleading and left out crucial details about the anti-HERO lawsuit. But it worked perfectly as a right-wing horror story about Christians being victimized by a city's attempt to protect LGBT people.

Soon, Houston had become -- as one Fox anchor put it -- "ground zero for religious liberty." Conservative media outlets quickly regurgitated the victimization spin from Starnes and ADF. Conservative groups -- led by the notorious anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC) -- began organizing "I Stand Sunday," a November 2 rally in Houston to support the pastors who had been "unduly intimidated by the city's Mayor."

22:40 Limbaugh: Street Harassment Shows The "Massive Failure Of Modern Day Feminism"» Media Matters for America - Latest Items
22:37 Fox News Report On Anti-Keystone XL Spending Is Off By More Than $40 Billion» Media Matters for America - Latest Items


Fox News used a baseless, wildly inflated figure to blame the continued delay of the Keystone XL pipeline on spending by climate activist Tom Steyer, who has lobbied against the project. The network claimed that Steyer has spent $42.9 billion on the midterm elections -- a number that is nearly 600 times larger than the amount Steyer has actually spent.

On October 30, the hosts of Fox News' Fox & Friends berated the Obama administration for delaying a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2014 midterm elections. If approved, the pipeline would transport crude oil from so-called "tar sands" deposits in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast for export overseas. Fox co-host Anna Kooiman alleged that part of "the equation" for that delay is the money and influence of Steyer -- a donor and activist supporting environmental causes -- in this year's elections. Kooiman claimed that Steyer had contributed "some $42.9 billion" to defeating the pipeline: 

Tom Steyer's entire net worth is $1.6 billion, according to Forbes, and as of October 28, Steyer had spent about $73 million during this year's elections, according to USA Today, on issues ranging from the Keystone XL to the Renewable Fuel Standard to climate change denial. Fox inflated Steyer's contributions in opposition to the pipeline by nearly 600 times, and its estimate is off by roughly $42.8 billion.

22:28 How to Keep Race Horses Fracture Free» LiveScience.com
In elite racehorses, biology is pushed to the limit, it’s not surprising then that injuries most commonly occur where the highest loads are generated.
22:20 Debunking The Conservative Media's 2014 Voter Fraud Horror Stories» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

Right-wing media outlets have used misleading voter fraud stories to stoke fears of rampant voter fraud in the months leading up to the 2014 midterm elections. But experts state that voter fraud in the U.S. is virtually non-existent and that voter ID laws would actually disenfranchise voters.

Is voter impersonation a rampant problem?

Are undocumented immigrants voting illegally?

Do we have proof of voter fraud?

Are Democrats registering fraudulent voters?

Is voter fraud becoming more common?

Are voter ID laws really discriminatory?

Do voter ID laws really reduce turnout?

MYTH: Voter Impersonation Fraud Is A Major Problem

Fox Correspondent Eric Shawn Disputes Argument That Voter Impersonation Fraud Is A Problem That "Doesn't Exist." On the October 29 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News senior correspondent Eric Shawn responded to a statement from Attorney General Eric Holder condemning "unnecessary restrictions that discourage or discriminate or disenfranchise in the name of a problem that doesn't exist," by saying: "of course voter fraud exists in the United States," and that Holder is "not actually factually correct." But as O'Reilly pointed out, Holder was talking about strict voter ID and voter impersonation, while Shawn nevertheless shifted the conversation to cases of vote buying, which would not be prevented by voter ID laws. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/29/14]

FACT: There Is No Evidence Of Massive Voter Impersonation Fraud

Experts Agree That Voter Impersonation is "Virtually Non-Existent." The New Yorker reported that experts agree that actual incidents of in-person voter fraud -- the type of voter fraud that strict voter ID laws can prevent -- are "virtually non-existent," and fears of voter fraud have been largely invented as a way to "excite the base." [The New Yorker, 10/29/12]

Brennan Center For Justice: Allegations Of Widespread Voter Fraud "Simply Do Not Pan Out." The New York University School of Law's Brennan Center has repeatedly explained that in-person voter fraud is not a justification for strict voter ID laws, because voter impersonation is "more rare than getting struck by lightning," and allegations of widespread fraud typically "amount to a great deal of smoke without much fire" and "simply do not pan out." [Brennan Center For Justice, 2007]

Loyola University Professor: Only 31 Out Of 1 Billion Ballots Subject To In-Person Voter Fraud. Loyola University Law School professor Justin Levitt, who investigated "any specific, credible allegation" of voter impersonation fraud, found a total of "about 31 different incidents" since 2000 of in-person voter fraud out of over 1 billion ballots cast. [The Washington Post, Wonkblog, 8/6/14]

MYTH: Study Shows Huge Percentages Of Undocumented Immigrants Illegally Cast Votes

Fox Host Hyped Questionable Study To Stoke Fears That "Illegals Voted Between Two And Six Percent The Last Two Elections." Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed a recent study found that "illegals voted between two and six percent over the last two elections," and said it "reveals a significant number of noncitizens casting votes alongside real citizens right here in the United States come election day." Fox guest Rachel Campos-Duffy of the Libre Initiative, a Koch-funded non-profit that targets Latino voters, speculated that non-citizen voting could have "national implications." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/27/14]

FACT: Experts Have Cast Doubt On The Study's Methodology And Conclusion

Experts Raised Doubts About The Study's Methodology And Conclusion. Brown University political scientist Michael Tesler questioned the study's "methodological challenges," noting the possibility that non-citizens may have misreported their citizenship status. He pointed out that many self-reported non-citizens in 2012 reported being citizens in 2010, indicating a high rate of response error "which raises important doubts about their conclusions" Tesler also noted that a "number of academics and commentators have already expressed skepticism about that paper's assumptions and conclusions" which seem to be "tenuous at best." [The Washington Post, Monkey Cage, 10/27/14]

The Study's Authors Outlined The Limitations Of Their Findings. In a October 24 blog post in The Washington Post, Jessie Richman and David Earnest, two authors of the study, admitted that their "extrapolation to specific state-level or district-level election outcomes is fraught with substantial uncertainty." The authors noted that the non-citizen sample they examined was "modest" and relied on self-reporting, which can create errors, and attempts to verify the accuracy of the self-reporting was imperfect and supplemented by estimates. [The Washington Post, Monkey Cage, 10/27/14]

MYTH: Discovery Of Names Of Ineligible Voters On Voter Rolls Is Proof Of Potential Voter Fraud

Laura Ingraham Asks If The Existence Of Immigrants' Names On NC Voter Rolls Reveals "Nefarious Attempts To Fraud The Vote." After a North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) review found the names of 145 immigrants who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status on the state's voter rolls, Fox News and ABC contributor Laura Ingraham claimed the names were proof of "voter manipulation, ballot fraud," and wondered if they showed "nefarious attempts to fraud the vote." Ingraham speculated that the "illegal immigrants who are here under DACA," had been "fast track[ed] ... to voting." [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 10/24/14]

FACT: The Discovery Of Potentially Ineligible Voters Is Proof That The Voter Verification System Works

North Carolina Investigated Citizenship Of Flagged Voters And Is Implementing Formal "Challenge Process" To Prevent Ineligible Voters From Casting Ballots. The North Carolina Board of Elections conducted an investigation to verify the eligibility of 10,000 registered voters who had been flagged as having "questionable citizenship status" using Department of Homeland Security and N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles data. The investigation identified 109 DACA recipients who were "on the voter rolls, but have not voted in any prior election," and is implementing a formal challenge process that will allow election officials to insure illegal voting doesn't occur. [North Carolina State Board of Elections, 10/24/14]

DHS: DACA Does Not Grant Citizenship, A Requirement For Voting. Undocumented immigrants who received DACA status were not granted citizenship nor any right to vote. As the Department of Homeland Security states:

An individual who has received deferred action is authorized by DHS to be present in the United States, and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect. However, deferred action does not confer lawful status upon an individual, nor does it excuse any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence. [DHS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 10/23/14]

MYTH: GA Democrats Committed Voter Registration Fraud

Fox Segment Hypes "Allegations Of Voter Fraud" Caused By Georgia Democrats. On Fox News' America's Newsroom, a segment on the "allegations of voter registration fraud by Georgia Democrats linked to Senate candidate Michelle Nunn" highlighted Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's investigation into allegations that 25 voter registration applications and three canvassing sheets turned in by the nonpartisan New Georgia Project contained some type of inaccurate information, while another 26 were flagged as "suspicious." [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/19/14]

FACT: Questionable Voter Registration Forms Were Submitted As Required By Georgia Law

New Georgia Project Turned In Forms Because They "Don't Get To Decide If Something Is Good Or Bad." The Fox News segment did not mention that Georgia law requires all applications -- even those the New Georgia Project thought were incomplete or inaccurate -- to be turned in to state officials. As Stacey Abrams, head of the New Georgia Project, told The Washington Post, her organization flagged the forms before submitting them to the secretary of state because "we don't get to decide if something is good or bad." The secretary of state's office also suspected that only 51 out of 85,000 submitted applications, or 0.06 percent, had problems. [Media Matters, 9/19/14]

MYTH: 17 Possible Cases Of Double Voting May Mark Beginning Of Fraud Trend

National Review Online Warns 17 Potential Instances Of Duplicate Voting "May Be" Just The "Tip Of The Iceberg." In an August 28 post, the National Review Online's Hans von Spakovsky claimed that at least 17 instances of "double voting" (where voters with matching information cast ballots in multiple states) had occurred in Maryland and Virginia. Spakovsky warned that there could be thousands more cases to come and that double voting could sway elections:

[T]he current [Virginia electoral] board has discovered 17 individuals who voted in both Fairfax County and Montgomery County, Maryland, in the 2012 election and "in some instances, on multiple occasions going back for a considerable period of time," according to letters the board sent to the Justice Department, [Fairfax County Prosecutor Raymond] Morrogh, and Virginia attorney general Mark Herring on Aug. 22.

This is not a case of voters with the same name being mistakenly confused as the same individual. All 17 voters were identified by their full name, date of birth, and Social Security number, according to the Virginia Voters Alliance (VVA), a citizens' organization that turned these names over to the electoral board.

It was the VVA -- along with another citizens' group dedicated to election integrity, Election Integrity Maryland (EIM) -- that did the research on the voter files in Virginia and Maryland to find these illegal voters. And this may be only the tip of the iceberg: VVA and EIM turned the names of 43,893 individuals who appear to be registered in both states over to the State Boards of Elections in Virginia and Maryland. Fairfax County alone has more than 10,000 such duplicate registrations. These 17 voters are only a subset of at least 164 voters their research showed voted in both states in the 2012 election. [National Review Online, 8/28/14]

FACT: Allegations Of Double Voting Rarely, If Ever, Turn Out To Be Fraud, And Voter ID Doesn't Stop Double Voting

Election Expert: In The Past, Most Double Voting Matches "Did Not In Fact Represent Fraud." Doug Chapin, the director of the Program for Excellence in Election Administration, noted that while it is important to investigate potential instances of double voting, "in the past ... most if not all of the matches did not in fact represent fraud." He also explained that voter ID laws "wouldn't have prevented this." Because the risk of double voting compared to the risk of voter disenfranchisement is so disproportionate, the editorial board of the Baltimore Sun characterized efforts to prevent that sort of fraud through strict voter ID "the equivalent of using a sledgehammer on a fly." [Media Matters, 9/3/14]

MYTH: Voter ID Laws Aren't Racially Discriminatory

Rush Limbaugh: The Idea That Voter ID "Will Prevent Minorities From Voting" Is "Absurd." On the October 22 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that President Obama's recent comments encouraging voting among those who are not affected by strict voter ID laws undercut accusations that these laws are discriminatory. He claimed that the reasoning of those who say voter ID "will prevent minorities from voting" is "absurd," and that the "real reason" Democrats object to these laws "is so they can cheat." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/22/14]

WSJ's Jason Riley: Obama Administration's Statements Against Voter ID Laws Are "Overt Racial Appeals To Get Out The Base." In a segment on the October 20 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Wall Street Journal opinion editor Jason Riley said that "the voter ID stuff [the Obama administration is] talking about constantly, as if there's some sort of Republican conspiracy out there to deny blacks the franchise" is "just not true." He argued that the administration's opposition to voter ID laws is really "overt racial appeals to get out the base." [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 10/20/14]

FACT: Experts And Supreme Court Justices Agree Voter ID Laws Have Discriminatory Effects

Brennan Center's Andrew Cohen: "Mountains Of Evidence" Led To Federal Court Ruling That Texas Voter ID Law Was Discriminatory. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Brennan Center for Justice fellow Andrew Cohen noted that federal courts have twice found Texas' voter ID law to be racially discriminatory, both in intent and effect. Although the Supreme Court allowed the law to be implemented for the midterm elections, there are "mountains of evidence on what the law's discriminatory impact would be on minority communities," Cohen said. He argued that the law is "one of the most discriminatory voting laws in modern history," and "runs afoul of constitutional norms and reasonable standards of justice," and pointed to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissenting argument that "there was ample proof the Texas law discriminates, and no proof that it doesn't." [Los Angeles Times, 10/22/14]

MYTH: Voter ID Laws Have No Effect On Minority Voter Turnout

WSJ's Paul Gigot: Voter ID Laws Have Had "Zero Effect On Turnout." Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press on April 13, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot claimed voter ID laws have had "zero effect" on minority turnout because "African-American turnout was so much greater in 2012" than it had been previously. [NBC, Meet The Press, 4/13/14]

FACT: GAO Report Found Decreased Turnout Among People Of Color Was Attributable To Voter ID Laws

Wash. Post: "Turnout Dropped At Least 1.9 Percentage Points In Kansas And 2.2 Percentage Points In Tennessee Thanks To" Voter ID Laws. As The Washington Post blog The Fix reported, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the potential effect of voter ID laws found that "Turnout dropped at least 1.9 percentage points in Kansas and 2.2 percentage points in Tennessee thanks to the laws," and that "Young people, black people, and newly registered voters were the groups that were more likely to see bigger drops in turnout." [The Washington Post, The Fix, 10/9/14]

Brennan Center's Sundeep Iyer: Those Who Argue That Voter ID Laws Don't Impact Turnout Need "A Simple Statistics Lesson." As former Brennan Center for Justice quantitative analyst Sundeep Iyer explained, any claim that voter ID laws don't affect minority turnout ignores "Statistics 101":

Any good student of Statistics 101 will tell you that correlation does not imply causation. Apparently, many voter ID supporters never got the memo.


Bad statistical practices -- like old habits -- die hard. Supporters of voter ID requirements are at it again, this time misinterpreting a new set of election results in Georgia. In response to E.J. Dionne's Washington Post column on vote suppression efforts across the United States, Georgia's Secretary of State wrote to the Post's editors about how an increase in black turnout between 2006 and 2010 showed that voter ID laws do not suppress turnout. Hans von Spakovsky repeated the assertion on NPR and in USA Today, and Ohio House Speaker William Batchto the Post's editors about how an increase in black turnout between 2006 and 2010 showed that voter ID laws do not suppress turnout. Hans von Spakovsky repeated the assertion on NPR and in USA Today, and Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder picked up the same message in defending Ohio's proposed voter ID requirement. Citing the Georgia statistics in a see-this-couldn't-be-that-bad sort of way has become a central talking point among proponents of voter ID laws.

Once again, these proponents have mistaken simple correlation for causation. You don't need to be a statistician to know that without controlling for other factors that might influence turnout, the assertion that Georgia's voter ID requirement didn't depress turnout is meaningless -- at best unscientific, at worst just plain wrong. [Brennan Center For Justice, 7/6/11]

22:06 Big Data is Transforming Sports» LiveScience.com
The field of “big data” analytics has come to sport and athletics, with massive implications for sport as we know it.
20:00 Open thread for night owls: 11 states spent more on corrections than on higher education in 2013» Daily Kos
incarceration rates
Michael Mitchell and Michael Leachman at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities have authored a new report, Changing Priorities: State Criminal Justice Reforms and Investments in Education:
Most states’ prison populations are at historic highs after decades of extraordinary growth; in 36 states, the prison population has more than tripled as a share of the state population since 1978. This rapid growth, which continued even after crime rates fell substantially in the 1990s, has been costly. Corrections spending is now the third-largest category of spending in most states, behind education and health care.  If states were still spending on corrections what they spent in the mid-1980s, adjusted for inflation, they would have about $28 billion more each year that they could choose to spend on more productive investments or a mix of investments and tax reductions.

Even as states spend more on corrections, they are underinvesting in educating children and young adults, especially those in high-poverty neighborhoods.  At least 30 states are providing less general funding per student this year for K-12 schools than before the recession, after adjusting for inflation; in 14 states the reduction exceeds 10 percent.  Higher education cuts have been even deeper:  the average state has cut higher education funding per student by 23 percent since the recession hit, after adjusting for inflation. Eleven states spent more of their general funds on corrections than on higher education in 2013. And some of the states with the biggest education cuts in recent years also have among the nation’s highest incarceration rates.

This is not sound policy. State economies would be much stronger over time if states invested more in education and other areas that can boost long-term economic growth and less in maintaining extremely high prison populations. The economic health of many low-income neighborhoods, which face disproportionately high incarceration rates, could particularly improve if states reordered their spending in such a way. [...]

State incarceration rates have risen primarily because states are sending a much larger share of offenders to prison and keeping them there longer. States can reduce their incarceration rates—without harming public safety—by reclassifying low-level felonies to misdemeanors where appropriate, expanding the use of alternatives to prison (such as fines and victim restitution), shortening jail and prison terms, and eliminating prison sentences for technical violations of parole/probation where no new crime has been committed.

A number of states have enacted criminal justice reforms in recent years.  Some have reduced prison populations sharply; reforms in New Jersey, New York, and California for example, helped drive down prison populations in each of those states by roughly 25 percent—while crime rates have continued to fall. In most states, though, reforms have not had a large impact on the size of prison populations, which remain extremely high nationally.  [...]

prison rate

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011Wisconsin firefighters union head ponders run against Scott Walker:

One of the outcomes of a political system in which big money is required to get elected to anything above local office is that elected officials are disproportionately wealthy, and working people end up underrepresented just in the matter of who is in the government, making decisions—never mind our under-representation at high-dollar fundraisers and meetings with lobbyists.

So, as the effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gears up, it's interesting to hear that Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin President Mahlon Mitchell is considering a campaign to replace Walker. Mother Jones' Andy Kroll writes that:

Mitchell's role in the protests catapulted him into something of a celebrity among union members and activists in Wisconsin, especially considering that firefighters were exempted from Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union budget repair bill.

Now Mitchell is eyeing a bigger stage: the governor's mansion. In an interview with Mother Jones, he said he was "seriously considering a run" for governor in a potential recall election targeting Walker. He said he believes Wisconsinites are sick of professional politicians not following through on campaign promises, and that a populist candidate running against Walker stands a better chance of unseating the governor. The ideal candidate would be "able to talk with common people about common issues," Mitchell said. "Tell 'em what you can do and what you can't do."

Tweet of the Day
“I don’t feel horrible about the decision I made.I feel horrible about the people who called me a baby killer” http://t.co/... #NDAM1

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin rounds up Ebola news, and the importance of a "big picture" response, both nationally and internationally. Local CT color on gun issues. Kaci Hickox isn't putting up with non-scientific quarantine rules. For the record: Jose Canseco's GunFAIL. Armando joins us to discuss the NYT piece on lobbying operations targeting state AGs (or AsG?). 42 mega-donors provide nearly a third of all super PAC funds. The much-discussed story of how the ACA has fared in Mississippi. More questions about MT's "Mailergate." Must read: A pre-K teacher reflects on lockdown drills. White House cyberattacked. The inevitable speculation about Harry Reid.

High Impact Posts. Top Comments
17:04 Colon Cleansing: 7 Myths Busted» LiveScience.com
Although colon cleanses are touted for removing "toxins" from the body, strengthening immunity and promoting weight loss, there isn't much science to back up these claims.
15:43 Earhart Search: Underwater 'Lump' May Be Wreckage from Lost Plane» LiveScience.com
The hunt for Amelia Earhart's lost plane will continue next summer. A team will investigate an underwater "anomaly" detected off the coast of the tiny Pacific atoll Nikumaroro. The group thinks it could be the wreckage of Earhart's aircraft.
15:40 Michigan governor's race tied because of Democratic GOTV» Daily Kos
Mark Schauer talking with voters
Mark Schauer, working hard to rid us of the plague that is Rick Snyder.
Goal ThermometerNew poll out of Michigan, one of millions of polls, but this one is particularly noteworthy. Why? Because it gives us insight into what happens when "likely voter" models run into "actual voters" early vote.

First the toplines:

With less than a week before the Nov. 4 election, Gov. Rick Snyder has only a two-point, 45%-43%, lead over Democrat Mark Schauer, according to an exclusive 600-person poll of likely voters taken Oct. 26-28 by EPIC-MRA for the Free Press, WXYZ-TV and their media polling partners. Nine percent of respondents said they still are undecided, and 3% percent said they are voting for third-party candidates.

Among those 9% undecided, however, the partisan leanings of 8% are toward Democrats and 1% toward Republicans.

Account for those leans among undecided voters, and it's a tied race, 46-46. Last time the pollster, EPIC-MRA, was in the field about 10 days ago, they had incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder leading 47-39. So how did Democrats suddenly close an 8-point gap? They probably didn't. The pollster was forced to count people who already voted.
[T]he Democrats' strategy to increase turnout by getting people to vote by absentee ballot is a big driver.
Those people were getting screened out in previous surveys because they weren't part of anyone's "likely voter" model—they weren't white enough, old enough, or didn't vote in 2010. But Democratic GOTV efforts are making a real difference.

If this poll is to be taken at face value, we're tied, but still slightly behind. Not a bad way to look at Tuesday's election since that appears to be the norm across the board—tied-ish, but slightly behind. So how do you overcome that? GOTV like your life depends on it.

GOTV anyone and everyone can: pester your friends, family, co-workers, milkman, paperboy, and everyone else around you to vote.

It's now or never, give $3 to help get Democrats over the line.

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What are YOU doing to GOTV these last few days of this cycle?
15:24 Louisiana says thanks, but no thanks to Ebola researchers » Daily Kos
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, at campaign event for presidential candidate John McCain in Kenner, Louisiana. Date&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 4 June 2008
Another Republican profile in courage, Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Goal ThermometerStupid Ebola politicization in public officials isn't limited just to New Jersey. No, Gov. Bobby Jindal's Louisiana has to get in on the action, and to potentially even more destructive ends than Chris Christie's targeting of healthcare workers fighting the disease. Jindal one ups him by targeting disease researchers.
The state sent a letter yesterday to members of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which is holding its annual conference in New Orleans next week. If they've recently been to any of the West African countries where the virus has infected more than 13,000 people, they shouldn't attend the meeting.

"We do hope that you will consider a future visit to New Orleans, when we can welcome you appropriately," said Kathy Klieber, Louisiana’s Secretary of Health & Hospitals and Kevin Davis, director of the Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, in the letter.

Because, you know, what's a smarter thing to do when there's an infectious disease epidemic in a remote part of the world than to prevent the researchers of that disease to come together to discuss their findings and collaborate on a way to fight it? I mean, what's the point of figuring out how to fight Ebola where it is, in Africa, when we're here in the US?
Let's improve the nation's governors. Your $3 can help elect one of these folks.

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So way to go, Jindal. You've just proven your tea-bagger, know-nothing, anti-science bona fides again, several times over.
15:16 Daily Kos Elections ad roundup: NOM and Mitt Romney remind North Carolina that they still exist» Daily Kos

Leading Off:

NC-Sen: It's been a while since we've seen too many anti-same-sex marriage ads in a general election, even in red states. But the National Organization of Marriage is quickly running out of reasons to exist, so they're hitting Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan for voting to confirm a judge who later struck down the state's ban. The judge was confirmed by the Senate 96-0 so this is, of course, a stupid line of attack, but NOM is not exactly the most pragmatic group out there.

Also for the GOP, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has an ad starring Mitt Romney saying some generic nice things about Republican Thom Tillis. The chamber's last ad here starred country music star Randy Owen but there's no singing from Mitt in this spot, which is probably for the best. We also have GOP expenditures from the chamber and Crossroads GPS.

Head below the fold for a roundup of ads from races across the country.

15:15 Pope Francis Speaks Out on Evolution (And Why It's No Surprise)» LiveScience.com
Despite making headlines, Pope Francis's statements in support of evolution and the Big Bang are really nothing new, Catholic theologians and scientists say.
15:13 Stopping Ebola: How Small Changes Make a Big Difference» LiveScience.com
Small changes in the way Ebola interventions are carried out may make a big difference in curbing the growth of the epidemic in West Africa, experts said this week.
13:57 Kilauea Lava Flow Consumes Cemetery, Reaches Town» LiveScience.com
Weeks of grim waiting ended yesterday (Oct. 28) for two homeowners in Hawaii's Pahoa village, as they became the first to lose their yards and fences to the relentless river of lava from Kilauea volcano.
13:38 FDA Approves Meningitis B Vaccine» LiveScience.com
The first vaccine designed to prevent a common type of bacterial meningitis has been approved for use in the United States.
13:36 Most of the data on Latino voters is bogus. Here are the real poll numbers.» Daily Kos
Supporters of Michelle Nunn GOTV (2014)
Goal Thermometer

Recently, there was a story claiming Republican candidates were winning among Latino voters in Georgia. The entirety of this story was based on a small portion of a SurveyUSA/11Alive poll that interviewed a grand total of 36—yup, three dozen—self-identified Hispanic voters.

So was the poll right? Should we be worried?

Not a chance. On the contrary, this is a good example of why you should never trust the crosstabs of a minority demographic, especially in robopolls. (And that goes for all types of demographic minorities, for example age 18-29.) You simply cannot get a good measure of opinion with only a handful of respondents.

To see an example of Latino voter data from ordinary polls failing miserably, here's the data from the crosstabs of October 2012 Colorado polls of the presidential race, compared to the exit poll, and the two Latino Decisions polls (which poll only Latino voters and are carefully designed to accurately measure the opinions of the Latino electorate).

Our best measurements—the exit poll and Latino Decisions polls of just Latino voters—show Obama receiving between 74-87 percent of the Latino vote. But if you had looked at ordinary polls, they would have told you Obama was set to get only about 48-66 percent—a gross underestimation.

None of the ordinary polls was designed specifically to measure the Latino electorate, and they clearly failed. This is typical for most states. But the Latino Decisions polls were close to the exit poll (and arguably, the election eve Latino Decisions polls are more accurate than the exit polls).

These are the polls you are looking for

Fortunately, Pew and Latino Decisions/America's Voice have recently published national surveys of Latino voters. Latino Decisions has also released polls of Colorado, Florida, and North Carolina, done for the National Council for La Raza Action Fund. And there's some good news, and some bad news.

The good news comes in the topline numbers for Senate and governor: Latino support for the Democratic candidate is on course to equal 2012 levels.

The bad news is that Latino voters are not as happy with Democrats in general as they have been in the past, most likely due to a lack of action on immigration issues.

Help elect more and better Democrats this November! Please give $3 to Daily Kos' endorsed candidates and strike a blow against Republicans.

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Please read below the fold for more on Latino voters and polling.
13:02 Thanks to you, Kansas' Jean Schodorf outraised the worst secretary of state in the nation» Daily Kos
Kris Kobach and Ted Nugent
Kris Kobach with good buddy, Ted Nuget. Let's help send him on permanent tour with his favorite racist rocker.
Goal Thermometer

Big news on the Kansas election front. Thanks in large part to Daily Kos readers, the Kansas City Star reports that Jean Schodorf, the Daily Kos-endorsed Democratic challenger for secretary of state in Kansas had a huge fundraising quarter:

A survey for KSN Television in Wichita found Schodorf and Kobach tied at 45 percent, with the balance undecided.

The poll by SurveyUSA comes a day after new campaign finance reports showed that Schodorf had raised about $80,000 more than Kobach in the last three months.

And where'd those funds come from? They came from YOU:
The national contributions came as a result of an endorsement from the liberal website the Daily Kos, which published stories with a request for donations to be sent to Schodorf, campaign spokesman Marcus Williamson said.

“Nearly all of those small contributions were given online from people who are familiar with Kobach’s national reputation, and wanted to support his opponent,” Williamson said in an email.

The race is tied and we still have work to do. The ground game isn't cheap and we still have a few more days to push Jean Schodorf over the top.
Can you chip in $3 to help elect Daily Kos-endorsed Jean Schodorf and send Kris Kobach back to private practice?

Voting by mail is convenient, easy, and defeats the best of the GOP's voter suppression efforts. Sign up here to check eligibility and vote by mail, then get your friends, family, and coworkers to sign up as well.
This race is so close, but we can pull it out with help from readers like you.
12:06 Earliest police report from Ferguson is released and conflicts with Darren Wilson's testimony leaks» Daily Kos
On October 21, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch released the official autopsy results for Mike Brown. Accompanying the autopsy was an analysis and commentary from forensic scientist Dr. Judy Melinek. Her commentary actually made more news than the results of autopsy itself.

Tucked away inside of the full autopsy report is an initial statement of Darren Wilson's perspective as told by Detective Patrick J. Hokamp of the St. Louis County Police Department. It is the first known statement from a detective who was actually on the scene soon after the shooting and appears to have been given to the medical examiner soon after the shooting. What's most surprising isn't necessarily what is included in this statement, but some glaring omissions when compared up against recent statements purported to be from Darren Wilson's testimony to the grand jury.

Below you will find the statement from Detective Hokamp from the scene of the shooting and Darren Wilson's alleged testimony recounting what took place.

11:54 Ghost Busters! Night-Vision Camera Touted As Paranormal Tracker» LiveScience.com
If you're looking for something spooky to do this Halloween, you might consider walking around the block to search for ghosts in your neighborhood.
11:42 Thousands of Pennsylvania women could lose birth control coverage if Corbett doesn't act» Daily Kos
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett speaking at podium
Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA)
Goal Thermometer

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has done a few surprising things, for a Republican governor, as he's tried to reverse his wild unpopularity. He's accepted a form of Medicaid expansion. He's decided not to appeal a marriage equality ruling. And he's blocked food stamp cuts. So why isn't he trying to extend a reproductive health program that provides 90,000 low-income women with birth control, STD treatment, and Pap smears?

The program, called SelectPlan for Women, is essentially an experiment in putting Medicaid dollars toward women of reproductive age, hoping that preventing their unplanned pregnancies will ultimately lower health costs. [...]

Since 2007, Pennsylvania has had a special waiver from the federal government to operate SelectPlan. But the waiver expires at the end of this year, and it’s not clear whether Gov. Tom Corbett (R) plans on applying for an extension. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, women’s health groups in the state have been told to prepare for SelectPlan’s termination.

The state could prevent the women from losing their SelectPlan care by either automatically enrolling them in HealthyPA, the state's privatized Medicaid expansion, or by seeking to extend the SelectPlan waiver. It's not surprising that a Republican governor would refuse to do either of these things, but, as noted above, Corbett has shown a willingness to take such actions as he's tried to improve his chances for re-election.
Democrat Tom Wolf is leading in the polls. Please give $3 to help seal the deal.

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The good news is, Democrat Tom Wolf is highly likely to be elected on Tuesday. The bad news is, he won't be able to take action on SelectPlan until women's reproductive health care has already lapsed. Corbett needs to take care of this.
11:35 2 Years On: Sandy Inspires Storm of Climate Research» LiveScience.com
The frankenstorm has spurred an unprecedented amount of research to tackle the questions about the role climate change may have played in worsening the storm, how global warming might affect similar storms, and why Sandy caused so much damage.
11:28 Tiny Human Stomachs Grown in Lab» LiveScience.com
They may be small, but new lab-grown miniature human stomachs could one day help researchers better understand how the stomach develops, as well as the diseases that can strike it.
11:18 UNH's House polling makes absolutely no sense, but they continue to thrive anyway» Daily Kos
Marilinda Garcia
UNH says there's been a 27-point swing against Republican Marilinda Garcia in only a week. That's hard to swallow.
Goal Thermometer

There's one general truism it comes to the University of New Hampshire's polling: If you don't like the results, just wait—the next poll will show the opposite. UNH just released new polls of both of the Granite State's House districts, and for once, they defied the conventional wisdom by showing a stable race in the 1st District. Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter leads Republican Frank Guinta 44-40, not too different from her 42-39 edge in their Oct. 7 poll.

But New Hampshire's 2nd District is another story. According to UNH, Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster is crushing Republican Marilinda Garcia 53-30, a huge reversal from Garcia's 41-37 lead in early October. Since that time, news broke that Garcia lifted other people's work verbatim in at least two speeches she delivered, without any attribution. And yes, she did generate some bad headlines. But enough to cause a 27-point swing in only three weeks? That does not sound remotely plausible.

By comparison, in the 2012 U.S. Senate race in Indiana, Republican Richard Mourdock's comments calling pregnancy from rape "an act of God" took him from what was probably a two-point lead (give or take) to a six-point loss. Yes, Indiana is far less swingy than New Hampshire and Democrats are capable of doing much better in the Granite State than in the Hoosier. But even so, Mourdock's comments were far worse than anything Garcia did, and even they produced "only" an 8-point swing to Democrat Joe Donnelly. In an era as polarized as this, it would probably take something along the lines of a murder conviction to cause a 27-point shift.

But there's more evidence that the Garcia kerfuffle was almost certainly not responsible for this huge gyration. As Daily Kos Elections' Dreaminonempty visualizes below, UNH has shown crazy swings in NH-02 for months, all without any scandal to blame:

UNH NH-02 polls
UNH's 2014 NH-02 polling
UNH may be crazy, but Carol Shea-Porter is still in a tossup no matter what! Please chip in $3 to get her across the finish line.

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats.
So what the Hell is going on here? Head below the fold to find out.
11:17 Military Sets New Record for World's Fastest Microchip» LiveScience.com
A new Guinness World Record has been set for the fastest microchip ever made, officials announced Tuesday (Oct. 28).
10:32 Sarah Palin says she might run for office again someday to 'bug the crap' out of liberals» Daily Kos
screenshot of Sarah Palin show promotion
Goal ThermometerSarah Palin says she might run for office again. No, that's not really "news," but the rationale she gives for saying so is the most new-conservative thing you've ever heard.
[Fox Business host Stuart Varney] asked if the "disgraceful" "hatred level" directed at Palin over the years had "driven her out of politics for good."

"No, bless their hearts. Those haters out there, they don't understand that it invigorates me, it wants me to get out there and defend the innocent. It makes me want to work so hard for justice in this country. So hey, the more they're pouring on, the more I'm gonna bug the crap out them by being out there, with a voice, with a message, hopefully running for office again in the future too."

And now here's Sarah Palin, ladies and gentlemen. She wants to be your next governor, or senator, or president or whatever. Sarah, why don't you tell us where you stand on the issues of the day. What guides your policy choices?

"I like to bug the crap outta liberals, doncha know."


The elections are almost upon us, but you can still make a difference. Click here and chip in $3 to our candidates in any of these most hotly contested races.

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For the record, no. I don't think conservative prop comic Sarah Palin will be running for office again in the near or far future. That requires work, and you can get considerably more money with considerably fewer strings attached by bugging the crap out of the conservative archnemesis, the sneaky Liberal, via private speaking gigs. Like Donald Trump she must feign a certain level of interest in future-politics in order to keep her audience interested, but nothing Sarah Palin has done from the moment she stopped being an actual honest-to-God vice presidential candidate to now suggests that she has been off honing her skills for another run at, well, anything.
08:31 5 Grotesque Dishes for Halloween» LiveScience.com
One idea for a Halloween dinner party could involve asking your guests to dress up in gothic gowns, and decking out your house to look like Dracula's castle. If you are into such a plan, here are five spooky dishes to consider for the menu.
08:11 In Images: How the Polio Vaccine Made History» LiveScience.com
When Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin developed vaccines for polio, they stopped a brutal disease in its tracks.
05:13 Economics Daily Digest: Internet access, progressive taxation, lobbying your attorney general» Daily Kos

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Digital Divide Exacerbates U.S. Inequality (Financial Times)

David Crow quotes Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford on how the digital divide contributes to inequality in light of new data on broadband access throughout the country. There are still 31 million households in the U.S. without a home or mobile broadband subscription.

Susan Crawford, who served as Mr Obama’s special assistant for technology and innovation in 2009, warned: “we are creating two Americas where the wealthy have access . . . while others are left on a bike path, unable to join in the social and economic benefits that the internet brings”.

It had been thought that the rural make-up of much of the US was the main factor in a national broadband subscription rate that is just 73.4 per cent, behind other developed nations such as the UK and Germany, which have rates of 88 per cent. About 67 per cent of households in rural areas have broadband internet service, compared to 75 per cent of urban households.

But the new Census Bureau statistics show a huge disparity among US cities and towns, with a gap of 65 percentage points between those with the highest and lowest subscription rates.

Follow below the fold for more.

05:04 10 Ghost Stories That Will Haunt You for Life» LiveScience.com
From the haunted Tower of London to the story that inspired "The Exorcist" and the rattling tale of Lady Dorothy's apparition spooking the 300-year-old Raynham Hall, ghost stories have been told since ancient times and are a staple of Halloween.
04:45 Magic Mushrooms Create a Hyperconnected Brain» LiveScience.com
The active ingredient in magic mushrooms seems to create many more connections in the brain, which could explain why users experience synesthesia and other trippy effects.
04:38 Storm surge: Hurricane Sandy» RealClimate
On the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy making landfall, we are running an extract from a new book by Adam Sobel “Storm Surge: Hurricane Sandy, Our Changing Climate, and Extreme Weather of the Past and Future”. It’s a great read covering the meteorology of the event, the preparation, the response and the implications for the […]

Tue 28 October, 2014

14:46 What Mike Brown did and did not do inside of the Ferguson convenience store» Daily Kos
Approximately 15 minutes before he was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, Mike Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson entered a local convenience store, the Ferguson Market. What happened in the store has been subject to much debate and was very much shaped by the initial release of photos and a shortened video of the full 50 seconds Mike Brown and Dorian Johnson were inside of the store. The entire video, which is 1:40 seconds long, synthesizes two different videos together, showing the different camera angles of those 50 seconds.

What follows will be an analysis of the video showing what happened inside of the Ferguson Market and how it has been misrepresented by the Ferguson Police Department—a video, if you remember, that the Department of Justice specifically requested the Ferguson authorities not to release.

Below the fold is the full video, from two different angles, showing the 50 seconds Mike Brown and Dorian Johnson were inside of the Ferguson Market.

09:05 Low-wage workers sue Scott Walker over minimum wage» Daily Kos
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talking to voter on campaign trail
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI)
Goal Thermometer

Low-wage workers in Wisconsin are suing Gov. Scott Walker's administration over its refusal to raise the minimum wage in accord with the state's unusual law requiring the minimum wage to be a living wage that provides workers "reasonable comfort, reasonable physical well-being, decency, and moral well-being."

After the workers petitioned Walker to raise the state minimum wage from the federal level of $7.25 an hour, his Department of Workforce Development rejected them, claiming $7.25 is a living wage despite the workers' accounts of putting off payment for necessary things like diabetes test strips.

Walker's administration is responding to the lawsuit with the same seriousness it took the petition for a higher minimum wage:

Asked about the suit, a spokesperson for DWD e-mailed: “While the Department has yet to receive formal notification of a lawsuit being filed, we would point out that most of the complainants who are arguing the minimum wage is not a living wage are making more than the minimum wage—up to $15.07 an hour.”
Aaand ... because people making a little more than minimum wage say they're having trouble making ends meet, therefore we shouldn't raise the minimum wage? That doesn't even deserve to be labeled as logic in a sarcastic vein. It makes no sense. But that kind of disdain for workers is Scott Walker all over.
Scott Walker has real competition. Please give $3 to help put Mary Burke over the top.

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats.
Wisconsin workers deserve so much more—in pay and in respect from their governor.

Mon 27 October, 2014

06:12 How do trees change the climate?» RealClimate
Guest commentary from Abby Swann (U. Washington) This past month, an op-ed by Nadine Unger appeared in the New York Times with the headline “To save the climate, don’t plant trees”.  The author’s main argument is that UN programs to address climate change by planting trees or preserving existing forests are “high risk” and a […]
04:30 Daily Kos Elections Nov. 4, 2014, poll closing times map» Daily Kos

Bookmark this handy map of poll closing times for the Nov. 4, 2014 general elections so that you can know when to start checking returns in each state on election night. Note that all times are Eastern, not local. You can click the map for a larger version:

Map of Nov. 4, 2014 poll closing times

And if maps like this are your thing, sign up here to receive the Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest. You'll get our widely praised roundup of all the key election news each weekday morning in your inbox—all for free. Sign up today!

(Special thanks to Miles Kurland.)

Mon 20 October, 2014

06:45 Ocean heat storage: a particularly lousy policy target + Update» RealClimate
The New York Times, 12 December 2027: After 12 years of debate and negotiation, kicked off in Paris in 2015, world leaders have finally agreed to ditch the goal of limiting global warming to below 2 °C. Instead, they have agreed to the new goal of limiting global ocean heat content to 1024 Joules. The […]

Mon 13 October, 2014

11:35 New developments: Climate services for health» RealClimate
I recently received a joint email from the World Meteorological and Health organisations (WMO & WHO) which I like to bring to the attention of our readers. Both because it shows the direction of some new developments, but also because the WMO and WHO are inviting people to share their experience with health and climate. […]

Thu 09 October, 2014

17:46 2014 Ebola Outbreak: Full Coverage of the Viral Epidemic» LiveScience.com
The 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the worst Ebola outbreak in history, and has implications for the world. Here is everything we know about the virus, and its spread, so far.

Mon 06 October, 2014

03:51 Climate response estimates from Lewis & Curry» RealClimate
Guest commentary from Richard Millar (U. Oxford) The recent study of climate sensitivity estimated from the transient surface temperature record is being lauded as something of a game-changer – but how much of a game-changer is it really? The method at the heart of the new study is essentially identical to that used in the […]

Sat 04 October, 2014

10:06 Unforced variations: Oct 2014» RealClimate
This month’s open thread.

Wed 01 October, 2014

10:27 Limiting global warming to 2 °C – why Victor and Kennel are wrong + update» RealClimate
In a comment in Nature titled Ditch the 2 °C warming goal, political scientist David Victor and retired astrophysicist Charles Kennel advocate just that. But their arguments don’t hold water. It is clear that the opinion article by Victor & Kennel is meant to be provocative. But even when making allowances for that, the arguments […]

Fri 26 September, 2014

13:10 Free climate science / modeling class beginning Sept. 29» RealClimate
Global Warming: The Science and Modeling of Climate Change is a free online adaptation of a college-level class for non-science majors at the University of Chicago (textbook, video lectures). The class includes 33 short exercises for playing with on-line models, 5 “number-cruncher” problems where you create simple models from scratch in a spreadsheet or programming […]

Tue 23 September, 2014

06:54 The story of methane in our climate, in five pie charts» RealClimate

Tue 02 September, 2014

05:08 On arguing by analogy» RealClimate
Climate blogs and comment threads are full of ‘arguments by analogy’. Depending on what ‘side’ one is on, climate science is either like evolution/heliocentrism/quantum physics/relativity or eugenics/phrenology/Ptolemaic cosmology/phlogiston. Climate contrarians are either like flat-earthers/birthers/moon-landing hoaxers/vaccine-autism linkers or Galileo/stomach ulcer-Helicobacter proponents/Wegener/Copernicus. Episodes of clear misconduct or dysfunction in other spheres of life are closely parsed only […]

Wed 19 March, 2014

23:46 Trying to Conceive: 12 Tips for Women» LiveScience.com
For a woman trying to get pregnant, there are a number of ways to increase the chances and make it more likely that she will conceive a child.

Tue 15 October, 2013

Tue 24 September, 2013

15:15 Black Widow Spider Facts» LiveScience.com
Black widows are spiders that are known for the females' unique appearance and tendency to eat their mates.

Sun 22 September, 2013

06:34 The Last Post» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

The Oil Drum (TOD) was an internet energy phenomenon that ran for over eight years from April 2005 to September 2013. The site was founded by Prof. Goose (also known as Professor Kyle Saunders of Colorado State University) and Heading Out (also known as Professor Dave Summers formerly of the Missouri University of Science and Technology).

The site took off with the advent of Hurricane Rita in September 2005 and resulted in the first 200+ comment event, indicating that there was demand for a site where concerned citizens could gather round a camp fire to discuss events impacting their energy supplies and ultimately, their well being. In eight years, >960,000 comments have been posted. Two other energy linked disasters, the Deepwater Horizon blowout and the Fukushima Daiichi reactor melt downs would see readership soar to >75,000 unique visits per day.

These pages have hosted over 7,500 articles covering every aspect of the global energy system. It was not unusual for a post to attract over 600 comments, many of which were well informed and contained charts and links to other internet sources. The site would become known for a uniquely high level of discourse where armchair analysts of all stripes added their knowledge to threads in a courteous, and ultimately pro-social way that energy experts at hedge funds, corporations or universities might not have the freedom to do. It is this emergent property of smart people sharing knowledge on a critical topic to humanity's future that will be missed.

The site was built on twin backbones that would often pull the readership in opposite directions. Drumbeats, edited by Leanan (who remains anonymous to this day) provided daily energy news digest and a forum for debate. And articles, written by a legion of volunteer writers, that strove to provide a more quantitative analysis of global energy supplies and the political, social and economic events that lay behind them. All the content would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Super G, our site engineer, who maintained and updated software and hardware as the site grew and evolved for over eight years on a voluntary basis.

In the course of 2013, a decision was made to archive The Oil Drum and the main purpose of this Last Post is to provide some direction to new and future readers of the vast content it contains. The main contributors are listed below along with links to where their writings can be now be found. If you are looking for content there are two main options. The first is to look for author specific content where clicking on the live hyper linked name of the contributor will take you to a page giving access to all the content produced by that author. The second option is to use the Advanced Search facility at the top left of this page. Simply enter a few key words and this will return a page of the most relevant articles.

Editorial board

Arthur Berman (aeberman) Arthur E. Berman is a petroleum geologist with 35 years of oil and gas industry experience. He worked 20 years for Amoco (now BP) and 15 years as consulting geologist. He gives keynote addresses for energy conferences, boards of directors and professional societies. He has been interviewed about oil and gas topics on CBS, CNBC, CNN, Platt’s Energy Week, BNN, Bloomberg, Platt’s, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

He was a managing editor and frequent contributor of theoildrum.com, and an associate editor of the AAPG Bulletin. He is a Director of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, and has served on the boards of directors of The Houston Geological Society and The Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists. He has published more than 100 articles on petroleum geology. He has done expert witness and research work on several oil and gas trial and utility commission hearings.

He has an M.S. (Geology) from the Colorado School of Mines and a B.A. (History) from Amherst College.

Nate Hagens is a well-known speaker on the big picture related to the global macroeconomy. Nate's presentations address opportunities and constraints we face in the transition away from growth based economies as fossil fuels become more costly. On the supply side, Nate focuses on biophysical economics (net energy) and the interrelationship between money and natural resources. On the demand side, Nate addresses the behavioral underpinnings to conspicuous consumption and offers suggestions on how individuals and society might better adapt to the end of growth. He will be writing at themonkeytrap.us.

Nate has appeared on PBS, BBC, ABC, NPR, and has lectured around the world. He holds a Masters Degree in Finance from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. Previously Nate was President of Sanctuary Asset Management and a Vice President at the investment firms Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers. Nate is the former President of the Institute for the Study of Energy and Our Future (non-profit publisher of The Oil Drum), is current US Director of the Institute for Integrated Economic Research, and serves on the Board of the Post Carbon Institute. Nate also served as the lead editor of the Oil Drum for several years.

Rembrandt Koppelaar has since 2010 been a Research Associate at the Swiss Institute for Integrated Economic Research (IIER), where he works on modelling of costs of resource and energy flows. Since June 2012 he combines this with a PhD research position at Imperial College London, to contribute to a spatial simulation of the resource flows of an economy at a micro-level using agent-based approaches. He joined the Oil Drum in 2006 first as a contributor and later as an editor, triggering by his concern in oil depletion. An interest that also led him to establish and become President of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas Netherlands from 2006 to 2010. He is author of the book “De Permanente Oliecrisis” discussing the end of cheap oil and its consequences (Dutch language, Nieuw Amsterdam publishers, 2008). Rembrandt holds a BSc and MSc in economics from Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

Brian Maschhoff (JoulesBurn) earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of New Mexico and a Ph.D in Chemistry from the University of Arizona. He has worked at several academic institutions and government laboratories, and currently engages in a wide variety of scientific and technical pursuits including web-based education, data visualization, and research on salmon recovery. His research on the oil fields of Saudi Arabia is also posted at Satellite o'er the Desert. He also blogs at Picojoule, and he might eventually be found @joulesburn on Twitter.

Euan Mearns has B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in geology from The University of Aberdeen. Following an academic career in Norway and a business career in Scotland I took time off work in 2005 to help care for two sons and two dogs and to allow my wife's career to blossom. In 2006, wondering why the oil price and the value of my oil stocks kept going up I stumbled upon the The Oil Drum that provided unique insight, at that time, into The Earth energy system. Feeling the need to put something back I submitted a couple of articles and have since written roughly 100 posts and hosted many guest posts from worthy authors.

In 2009 I was appointed as Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Aberdeen and teach occasional courses there. For the last 7 years, writing and editing articles for The Oil Drum has consumed a fair portion of my time, but I have in return learned a huge amount. I also continue to work as a consultant for the oil industry. The focus of my interest is the importance of energy to society, society's response to the infrastructure and secondary impacts of energy provision and the political response. I plan to continue writing about Energy, Environment and Policy at Energy Matters.

New post, 8th October: UK North Sea Oil Production Decline
New post 18th November: Marcellus shale gas Bradford Co Pennsylvania: production history and declines
New post, 28th November: What is the real cost of shale gas?
New post, 9th December: OPEC oil production update July 2013
New post, 18th December: OECD oil production update July 2013
New post, 3rd January: Global Oil Supply Update July 2013
New post, 6th January: The Primary Energy Tale of Two Continents

Paul Sears was born in the UK, and did a Ph.D. in chemistry at Cambridge. Since first coming to Canada on a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Western Ontario in 1973, he has worked at the University of Toronto and in the Canadian Federal Government in Ottawa. Most of his work since the mid 1970s has been on the supply and use of energy in one form or another. His interest in the limitations to oil supply dates back to about 1962, when he was at school watching a promotional film from an oil company. The subject of the film was oil exploration, and this caused him to wonder about the dependence of our society on oil and the limits to supply. Other interests are canoeing, kayaking, skiing, hiking, camping, keeping planted aquaria and learning Mandarin Chinese. Sadly, Paul Sears passed away on September 13, 2012. You can read an obituary here.

Dave Summers who writes under the pen name, "Heading Out", comes from a family that for at least nine generations has been coal miners, and he started his working life, as an Indentured Apprentice, in 1961 shoveling coal on one of the last hand-won coal faces in the UK at Seghill, after a few weeks supplying that face with the help of a pit pony. With bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Leeds University in the UK he moved to Rolla, Missouri and Missouri University of Science and Technology (then UMR) in 1968. He was named Curators’ Professor of Mining Engineering in 1980 and for many years directed the Rock Mechanics and Explosives Research Center at MS&T. His main work has been in the developing use of high-pressure water for cutting, cleaning and demilitarization. As one of the quiet revolutions that has crept into industry during his career, his research group worked in nuclear cleanup, rocket motors, and surgical applications as well as developing tools to cut, drill and mine more mundane rock, coal and metals. The team carved the half-scale Stonehenge out of Georgia granite, using only water, and later cut Edwina Sandy’s Millennium Arch from Missouri granite, both of which are on the MS&T campus. They also used the technique in a demonstration excavation that resulted in creating the OmniMax theater under the Gateway Arch in St Louis.

He retired from the University, and was named Emeritus in 2010, and lives quietly with his wife Barbara, with occasional commutes to visit their children, located on the two coasts very far from rural America.

In 2004 he began to write a blog, and in 2005 teamed with Kyle Saunders to jointly found The Oil Drum, a site for “discussions on energy and our future.” He now writes on energy, the applications of waterjets, a little on the use of the 3D modeling program Poser, and occasionally on climate matters. His blog, where the Tech Talks continue, can be found at Bit Tooth Energy. He again thanks all those who have contributed to The Oil Drum over the years and wishes them joy and prosperity in their futures!

Dr. David Archibold Summers has written numerous articles, a textbook, Waterjetting Technology, and jointly holds several patents, the last two of which have been licensed and deal a) with the use of waterjets to remove skin cancer and b) for high speed drilling of small holes through the earth.

Gail Tverberg (Gail the Actuary) became interested in resource limits and how these affect insurance companies and the economy more generally in 2005. She began writing about this issue while working as a property-casualty actuarial consultant at Towers Watson. In 2007, she took early retirement to work specifically on the issue of oil limits.

Between 2007 and its suspension in 2013, Gail worked as a contributor and editor at TheOilDrum.com. She also started her own blog, OurFiniteWorld.com, where she continues to write on a regular basis. Her writings include Oil Supply Limits and the Continuing Financial Crisis, published in the peer-reviewed journal Energy in January 2012. She has spoken at at many conferences on subjects related to oil limits, including both academic and actuarial conferences. She now plans to write a book, tentatively called "Discontinuity Ahead: How Oil Limits Affect the Economy."

Gail worked for CNA Insurance prior to joining Tillinghast (which eventually became part of Towers Watson) in 1981. She has a BA in Mathematics from St. Olaf College and an MS in Mathematics from the University of Illinois, Chicago. She is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries.

Her Twitter feed is @gailtheactuary.

Chris Vernon originally graduated with a masters degree in computational physics before working for ten years in the field of mobile telecoms specialising in radio network architecture and off-grid power systems in emerging markets. He subsequently returned to university to take an MSc in Earth system science and a PhD in glaciology focusing on the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet. Chris is a trustee at the Centre for Sustainable Energy, works for the UK Met Office and maintains a personal web page.

Selected contributors

Big Gav studied Engineering at the University of Western Australia in Perth. Since then he has travelled widely and worked in the oil and gas, power generation, defence, technology and banking industries. He has been blogging about peak oil for almost 3 years at Peak Energy (Australia) and is probably the most prolific example of a techno-optimist in the peak oil world. He may be alone in thinking that peak oil represents a great opportunity to switch to a clean energy based world economy, rather than the trigger for the end of industrial civilisation.

Jason Bradford is currently a Farm Manager in Corvallis, OR and a Managing Partner for a sustainable farmland fund, Farmland LP. Most of his writing for The Oil Drum occurred while he lived in Willits, CA, where he was instrumental in the founding of Willits Economic Localization, hosted a radio program called "The Reality Report," and was a board member of the local Renewable Energy Development Institute. He also founded and ran a small farm at a local elementary school with a lot of community support and the backing of The Post Carbon Institute, where he is currently a board member. His brief but enjoyable academic career began at Washington University in St. Louis and the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG), where he taught courses in Ecology and from which he received a doctorate in Evolution and Population Biology in 2000. After graduation he was hired by the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development at MBG, and between 2001 and 2004 secured grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society for multi-disciplinary research on issues related to species extinction and ecosystem function. His "aha moment" came during this research period where the connections between environmental decline, resource consumption, economic growth, belief systems and institutional inertia led to a dramatic change in the course of his life's work.

He continues to blog at Farmland LP.

David Murphy is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department and an Associate of the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy, both at Northern Illinois University. He serves also as an Environmental Policy Analyst for the Environmental Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Murphy’s research focuses on the intersection of energy, economics, and the environment. Recently, his work has focused on estimating how the extraction of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale has impacted the provision of ecosystem services from the local environment. In addition, he researches how the energy return on investment from oil is related to oil price and economic growth. Dr. Murphy's work for Argonne National Laboratory addresses the environmental impacts associated with energy development.

He tweets: @djmurphy04

Robert Rapier works in the energy industry and writes and speaks about issues involving energy and the environment. He is Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President at Merica International, a forestry and renewable energy company involved in a variety of projects around the world. Robert has 20 years of international engineering experience in the chemicals, oil and gas, and renewable energy industries, and holds several patents related to his work. He has worked in the areas of oil refining, natural gas production, synthetic fuels, ethanol production, butanol production, and various biomass to energy projects. Robert is the author of Power Plays: Energy Options in the Age of Peak Oil. He is also the author of the R-Squared Energy Column at Energy Trends Insider. His articles on energy and sustainability have appeared in numerous media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, The Economist, and Forbes.

Jeff Vail (jeffvail) is an energy intelligence analyst and former US Air Force intelligence officer. He has a B.S. in engineering and history from the US Air Force Academy and a Juris Doctor from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. His interests are in global energy geopolitics and the the "rhizome" theory of social and economic organization. He is the author of the political anthropology book A Theory of Power and maintains a blog at http://www.jeffvail.net.

Jérôme à Paris is an investment banker in Paris, specialised in structured finance for energy projects, in particular in the wind power sector. After graduating from the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, he wrote his Ph.D. in economics in 1995 on the independence of Ukraine, with a strong focus on the gas relationship between Ukraine and Russia, and he worked on financings for the Russian oil & gas industry for several years after that. He is the editor of the European Tribune, a community website on European politics and energy issues. He has written extensively about energy issues, usually from an economic or geopolitical angle for the European Tribune and for DailyKos where he led a collective effort to draft an energy policy for the USA, Energize America.

Rune Likvern After Rune's first time seeing The Oil Drum (TOD and Institute for the Study of Energy and Our Future; ISEOF), in 2005 he created an account as nrgyman2000 and later got an invitation to become part of the staff of volunteer writers at what was then TOD Europe. In 2008 he started to post under his real name.

He is a Norwegian presently living in Norway and holding a masters degree from what is now the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. For more than two decades he was employed in various positions by major international oil companies, primarily Statoil, working with operations, field/area developments (in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea) and implementation (primarily logistics) of Troll Gas Sales Agreement (TGSA) which is about natural gas deliveries to European customers. This was followed by a period as an independent energy (oil/gas fields assessments, cash flow analysis, portfolio analysis etc.) consultant and as VP for an energy hedge fund in New York. In recent years he had a sabbatical to do more in depth research, reading and participating in discussions about energy, biology (what makes human {brains} what they are and why), and not least financial and economic subjects in several global forums as well as some advisory work.

Presently he is looking for gainful employment/engagements.

He also posts on his blog Fractional Flow
(primarily in Norwegian, but some future posts are planned for in English).

Phil Hart studied Materials Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne before spending five years with Shell UK Exploration and Production, based in Aberdeen, Scotland. He worked on two new North Sea oil and gas field development projects followed by a stint with the Brent field maintenance team as a corrosion engineer. In late 2006, Phil returned to Melbourne and was for a while an active member of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil. He provided many briefings to government, business and community audiences and is still available for presentations around Melbourne and Victoria. Phil now works primarily in the water industry but consults as required for The Institute for Sensible Transport as well. He is also a keen astronomer and night sky photographer: www.philhart.com.

Luís Alexandre Duque Moreira de Sousa (Luís de Sousa) is a researcher at the Public Research Institute Henri Tudor in Luxembourg and a Ph.D. student in Informatics Engineering at the Technical University of Lisbon. Luís created the first Portuguese language website dedicated to Peak Oil in 2005 (PicoDoPetroleo.net); in 2006 he would be one of the founders of ASPO-Portugal and later that year integrated the team that started the European branch of The Oil Drum. Since then he has continuously written about Energy and its interplay with Politics and Economics, both in English and Portuguese. Luís is a regular presence at the collective blog European Tribune and writes on the broader issues of life on his personal blog AtTheEdgeOfTime.

Sat 21 September, 2013

14:34 The House That Randy Built» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

One of the nice aspects of the 7+ years I have been involved with The Oil Drum has been attending conferences and meeting with some of my cyber friends, who by and large figure among the nicest bunch of folks I ever met. In 2007 I attended the ASPO meeting in Houston and it was then that I met Randy Udall for the first time. Well you know what some Americans are like - you meet, you chat a while, discover you get along, down a couple of beers and before you know it you are invited to go visit. And so it was with Randy Udall....

The house that Randy built, sunk low in the Colorado terrain, provides shelter from winter storms and from exposure to summer sun. Photovoltaics, solar hot water (on the roof) and a single wood burner (chimney) provides all the energy needs.

Three years later, my wife and I had a trip planned to the States to go visit Dave Rutledge (another cyber mate) at his mountain lodge in New Mexico and I thought it would be cool to visit Randy en route. We exchanged a couple of emails, he warned that his wife Leslie was cautious about some of his friends coming to stay and that his son once claimed that the family lived in a "mud hut" and by now I was wondering if this was such a good idea. But plans were made and we went to stay with Randy in Colorado for a couple of days in August 2011; on arrival, any trepidation melted away.

A "mud hut", not quite. The stucco exterior finish covers thick foam insulation that in turn covers compressed earth (adobe) blocks. This provides protection from winter cold and summer heat, and thermal inertia from the large temperature swings prevalent in this part of the world.

At first sight Randy's house did indeed have the feel of a "mud hut" but upon entering the reality of a beautifully and lovingly crafted passive house unfolded. I was astonished to learn that Randy had designed and built every inch of this house himself, including the manufacture of every compressed earth brick and the hammering in of every nail - in neat serried ranks.

I wish I had recorded the vital statistics but the mass of bricks was carefully calculated to provide thermal inertia, keeping the house warm in winter but cool in summer. I was also very surprised to learn that all of the insulation was on the outside of the masonry structure which is the opposite of the way we build our houses in the UK. South-facing windows collect wintertime solar energy and the adobe block walls and brick floors soak up much of that heat energy, keeping the home warm through cold nights. During the summer, just opening the windows at night cools off the massive floors and walls, helping the house stay cool during hot days. Putting the insulation on the outside of the exterior walls is the only way to make this adobe wall strategy work effectively.

The house was set low in the terrain, providing protection from winter storms and from the worst excesses of summer heat. Outside you find a large solar PV array, providing a surplus of electricity and solar hot water arrays on the south facing roofs providing all the hot water required and, if my memory serves correctly, some interior heating during winter time.

The rather plain exterior gave way, inside, to simple, beautifully crafted, elegance.

Every timber cut and every nail hammered by one man. This is a masterpiece that will hopefully endure.

Inside, beautiful craftsmanship provides simple but elegant living space to match the view of Mount Sopris that dominated the surrounding landscape. Not many of us leave a lasting legacy. Randy has left memories of a wonderful and thoughtful teacher and a house that will hopefully stand as a testimony to his passion for sustainable living for centuries to come.

The view out of the front window wasn't that bad either. Mount Sopris (3,952 m /12,965 ft) offered Randy and his family fantastic walking, climbing and ski mountaineering opportunities.

Renewable energy and renewable transport. I am seldom pleased with the pictures I take, but there is something about this one I really like.

On the second evening of our visit, we dined with the local mayor and downed a few glasses of red. Randy may look pensive but he is actually looking at his lap top, has my credit card and is planning a road trip for us through Mesa Verde and Grand Canyon en route to New Mexico, one of the best trips my wife and I have ever made. He knew this area like the back of his hand.

To some, this house and lifestyle may seem fabulously exuberant. But the house, in fact, was built for a relatively tiny amount of money with most of the cost coming by way of blood, sweat, tears, knowledge and love of a vision for the future. These Udalls lived a simple life with a very strong sense of community involvement.

Most folks who read these pages will already know that in June of this year Randy died aged 61 of natural causes while hiking alone in the Wind River range of Wyoming, hunting for wild trout. The tragedy here is that he was snatched from his family and the sustainable living community he championed 10 to 20 years prematurely.

Thank you to Leslie Udall for consent to publish this article and to Steve Andrews for some useful editorial comments.

Thu 19 September, 2013

21:27 Twenty (Important) Concepts I Wasn't Taught in Business School - Part I» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

Twenty-one years ago I received an MBA with Honors from the University of Chicago. The world became my oyster. Or so it seemed. For many years I achieved status in the metrics popular in our day ~ large paychecks, nice cars, travel to exotic places, girlfriend(s), novelty, and perhaps most importantly, respect for being a 'successful' member of society. But it turns out my financial career, shortlived as it was, occurred at the tail end of an era ~ where financial markers would increasingly decouple from the reality they were created to represent. My skill of being able to create more digits out of some digits, (or at least being able to sell that likelihood), allowed me to succeed in a "turbo" financial system that would moonshot over the next 20 years. For a short time I was in the 1% (and still am relative to 'all humans who have ever lived'). Being in the 1% afforded me an opportunity to dig a little deeper in what was really going on (because I quit, and had time to read and think about things for 10 years). It turns out the logic underpinning the financial system, and therefore my career, was based on some core flawed assumptions that had 'worked' in the short run but have since become outdated, putting societies at significant risks.

Around 30% of matriculating undergraduate college students today choose a business major, yet 'doing business' without knowledge of biology, ecology, and physics entirely circumvents first principles of how our world really works ~ my too long but also too short summary of the important things I wasn't taught in business school is below.

The Blind men and the Elephant, by Rudyard Kipling

Business as usual as we know it, with economics as its guide and financial metrics as its scorecard, is in its death throes. The below essay is going to appear critical of finance and the nations (world's) business schools. But it is too, critical, of our entire educational system. However, physicists, plumbers and plowmen do not have the same pull with respect to our cultural goals and narrative that financial folk do - as such an examination of the central assumptions driving society is long overdue. But before I point out what I didn't learn in MBA school, I want to be fair - I did learn things of ‘value’ for the waters I would swim in the future: statistics, regression, how to professionally present and to facilitate meetings, and some useful marketing concepts. Of course, like any 20 something student, 1/2 of the value of graduate school is learning to interact with the group of people that will be your peers, and the relationships and contacts that develop. Plus the placement office was very helpful in getting us jobs as well.

The culture at Salomon Brothers impressed me the most and I landed in their Private Investment Department, where we were basically stockbrokers for the uber-rich - as a trainee I wasn't allowed to call on anyone worth less than $50 million (in 1993). After Salomon shut our department down I went to a similar job at Lehman Brothers. At Lehman I increasingly felt like a high paid car salesmen and after 2 years quit to go work for a client, develop trading algorithms on commodities and eventually started my own small fund. But increasingly, instead of trading or trying to grow my business I found myself reading about oil, history, evolution and ecological issues. It really bothered me that 'externalities' were not priced into our goods or profits. One day, on a hike, it struck me that what I was doing felt spiritually hollow and despite it ‘paying the bills’ I began to realize I was more interested in learning about how the world worked and maybe doing something about improving it. In 2002 I gave my clients their money back, embarked on basically a 2 year hiking trip with my dog, and a car full of books. Eventually I would obtain a PhD in Natural Resources, but like many of you my real degree was obtained on this site, interacting with the many and varied people I met and continue to call friends and mentors. I am continuing to work on, or at least think about, making the near and long term future better, despite the tall odds, while living on a small farm in Wisconsin. More on this below.

In the years that have passed, modern society has become a crazy mélange of angst, uncertainty and worry. Many of us intuitively recognize that we’ve constructed a ginormous Rube Goldberg machine which for a number of reasons may not continue to crank out goods and services for the next 30-40 years. We blame this and that demographic for our declining prospects – the Republicans, the environmentalists, the greedy rich, the lazy poor, the immigrants, the liberals, etc. We blame this and that country or political system – evil socialists, heartless capitalists, Chinese, Syrians, Europeans, etc. We watch TV and internet about the latest ‘news’ influencing our world yet are not entirely confident of the connections. But underlying all this back and forth are some first principles, which are only taught piecemeal in our schools, if at all. Below is a short list of 20 principles underpinning today’s global ‘commerce’. I should note, if I was a 25 year old starting business school, eager to get a high paying job in two short years, I wouldn’t believe what follows below, even if I had time or interest to read it, which I probably wouldn't.

20. Economic 'laws' were created during and based on a non-repeatable period of human history

"I found a flaw. I was shocked because I'd been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well." Alan Greenspan testimony to Congress, Oct 2011

Click image to enlarge.

The above graphic shows a three-tiered time history of our planet, starting with the top black line being geologic time. The tiny black sliver on the far right, is enlarged in the second line, and the sliver on its far right is again enlarged on the bottom line, where the last 12,000 years are shown. We, both our environment, and ourselves, are products of this evolutionary history. Our true wealth originates from energy, natural resources and ecosystem services, developed over geologic time. Our true behavioral drivers are a product of our brains being sculpted and honed by 'what worked' in all 3 eras of this graph (but mostly the top 2). The dark line on the bottom is human population, but just as well could be economic output or fossil fuel use, as they have been highly correlated over this period.

The economic ‘theories’ underpinning our current society developed exclusively during the short period labeled 'A' on the graph, on a planet still ecologically empty of human systems and when increasing amounts of extraordinarily powerful fossil energy was applied to an expanding global economic system. For decades our human economies seemed to follow a pattern of growth interrupted by brief recession and resumption to growth. This has made it seem, for all intents and purposes, that growth of both the economy and aggregate individual wealth was something akin to a natural law –it is certainly taught that way in business schools. The reality is that our human trajectory –both past and future - is not a straight line but more like a polynomial - long straight stretches, up and down, with some wavy periods in the middle, and ultimately capped. Our present culture, our institutions, and all of our assumptions about the future were developed during a long 'upward sloping' stretch. Since this straight line period has gone on longer than the average human lifetime, our biological focus on the present over the future and past makes it difficult to imagine that the underlying truth is something else.

Evidence based science in fields like biology and physics has been marginalized during this long period of 'correlation=causation'. This oversight is not only ubiquitous in finance and economics but present in much of the social sciences, which over the past 2 generations have largely conflated proximate and ultimate explanations for individuals and societies. In nature geese fly south for the winter and north in the spring. They do this based on neurotransmitter signals honed over evolutionary time that contributed to their survival, both as individuals and as a species. "Flying north in spring" is a proximate explanation. "Neuro-chemical cues to maximize food/energy intake per effort contributing to survival" is an 'ultimate' explanation. In business school I was taught, 'markets go north' because of invention, technology and profits, an explanation which seemed incomplete to me even though it has appeared to be valid for most of my life. Social sciences have made great explanations of WHAT our behavior is, but the descriptions of WHY we are what we are and HOW we have accomplished a vast and impressive industrial civilization are still on the far fringes of mainstream science. Economics (and its subset of finance) is currently the social science leading our culture and institutions forward, even if now only by inertia.

19. The economy is a subset of the environment, not vice versa

If people destroy something replaceable made by mankind, they are called vandals; if they destroy something irreplaceable made by God, they are called developers.
Joseph Wood Krutch

When you have to classify the very capacity of the Earth to support life as an "externality", then it is time to rethink your theory. --Herman Daly--

Click image to enlarge.

Standard economic and financial texts explain that our natural environment is only a subset of a larger human economy. A less anthropocentric (and more accurate) description however, is that human economies are only a subset of our natural environment. Though this may seem obvious, currently anything not influencing market prices remains outside of our economic system, and thus only actively 'valued' by government mandates or by some individuals, not by the cultural system as a whole. A landmark study in NATURE showed that the total value of 'ecosystem services' -those essential processes provided to humans by our environment like: clean air, hydrologic cycles, biodiversity, etc. if translated to dollar terms, were valued between 100-300% of Global GNP. Yet the market takes them for granted and does not ascribe value to them at all!!! Part of reason is that the negative impacts from market externalities aren't immediate, and with our steep discount rates (see below), the near term 'benefits' of GDP outweigh 'abstract' costs at some unknown future date.

Mankind's social conquest of earth has brought with it some uncomfortable 'externalities'. We are undergoing a 6th great extinction, which is no wonder given that humans and our livestock now outweigh wild animals by almost 50:1. Our one species is appropriating over 30% of the Net Primary Productivity of the planet. (One can ask, how can we use 30% of sunlight yet have 50x the weight of the other vertebrates and the answer, as we will see below, is our consumption of fossil carbon). A short list of deleterious impacts not incorporated into prices/costs includes: air pollution, water pollution, industrial animal production, overfishing (90% of pellagic fishes (tuna) in ocean are gone), nuclear waste, biodiversity loss, and antibiotic resistance. Perhaps the most ominous is the threat of climate change and ocean acidification, where humans, via burning large amounts of fossil carbon, are impacting global biogeochemical systems in profound and long-lasting ways.

Since GDP, profits and 'stuff' are how we currently measure success, these 'externalities' only measurement is the sense of loss, foreboding and angst by people paying attention. Such loss is currently not quantified by decision makers. In the past, only when there was a ‘smoking gun’ e.g. in the case of chlorofluorocarbons, DDT, unleaded gasoline, did society organize and require rules and regulations for the externalities, but these examples, as serious as they were, were not anathema to the entire human economy.

18. Energy is almost everything

Without natural resources life itself is impossible. From birth to death, natural resources, transformed for human use, feed, clothe, shelter, and transport us. Upon them we depend for every material necessity, comfort, convenience, and protection in our lives. Without abundant resources prosperity is out of reach.
— Gifford Pinchot Breaking New Ground (1998), 505.

In nature, everything runs on energy. The suns rays combine with soil and water and CO2 to grow plants (primary productivity). Animals eat the plants. Other animals eat the animals. At each stage of this process there is an energy input, an energy output and waste heat (2nd law of thermodynamics). But at the bottom is always an energy input. Nothing can live without it. Similarly, man and his systems are part of nature. Our trajectory from using sources like biomass and draft animals, to wind and water power, to fossil fuels and electricity has enabled large increases in per capita output because of increases in the quantity of fuel available to produce non-energy goods. This transition to higher energy gain fuels also enabled social and economic diversification as less of our available energy was needed for the energy securing process, thereby diverting more energy towards non-extractive activities. The bottom of the human trophic pyramid is energy, about 90% of which is currently in the form of fossil carbon. Every single good, service or transaction that contributes to our GDP requires some energy input as a prerequisite. There are no exceptions. No matter how we choose to make a cup, whether from wood, or coconut, or glass or steel or plastic, energy is required in the process. Without primary energy, there would be no technology, or food, or medicine, or microwaves, or air conditioners, or cars, or internet, or anything.

A long term graph of human output (GDP) is one highly correlated with primary energy use. For a while (1950s to 1990s) improvements in efficiency, especially in natural gas plants, complemented energy use as a driver of GDP, but most of these have declined to now have only minor contributions. Since 2000, 96% of our GDP can be explained by 'more energy' being used. (For more data and explanation on this, please see "Green Growth - An Oxymoron"). Some resource economists have claimed that the relationship between energy and the economy decoupled starting in the 1970s, but what happened was just an outsourcing of the 'heavy lifting' of industrial processes to cheaper locations. If one includes energy transfers embedded in finished goods and imports there isn’t a single country in the world that shows a disconnect between energy use and GDP. Energy it turns out, not dollars, is what we have to budget and spend. Quite simply, energy is the ability to do work. How much work, we'll see below.

17. Cheap energy, not technology, has been the main driver of wealth and productivity

Click image to enlarge.

The chemical potential energy available from the burning of things (e.g. wood) is rather astounding when compared with the energy which we supply our bodies in the form of food, and the fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas burn even hotter while also being much easier to store and transport. We quickly learned that using some of this heat to perform work would transform what we could accomplish in massive ways. One barrel of oil, priced at just over $100 boasts 5,700,000 BTUs or work potential of 1700kWhs. At an average of .60 kWh per work day, to generate this amount of 'labor', an average human would have to work 2833 days, or 11 working years. At the average hourly US wage rate, this is almost $500,000 of labor can be substituted by the latent energy in one barrel of oil that costs us $100. Unbeknownst to most stock and bond researchers on Wall Street, this is the real ‘Trade’.

The vast majority of our industrial processes and activities are the result of this ‘Trade’. We applied large amounts of extremely cheap fossil carbon to tasks humans used to do manually. And we invented many many more. Each time it was an extremely inefficient trade from the perspective of energy (much more energy used) but even more extremely profitable from the perspective of human society. For instance, depending on the boundaries, driving a car on a paved road uses 50-100 times the energy of a human walking, but gets us to where we are going 10 times faster. The ‘Trade’ is largely responsible for some combination of: higher wages, higher profits, lower priced goods and more people. The average american today consumes ~60 barrel of oil equivalents of fossil carbon annually, a 'subsidy' from ancient plants and geologic processes amounting to ~600 years of their own human labor, before conversion. Even with 7 billion people, each human kWh is supported by over 90kWh of fossil labor, and in OECD nations about 4-5 times this much.

Technology acts as an enabler, both by inventing new and creative ways to convert primary energy into (useful?) activities and goods for human consumption and, occasionally, by making us use or extract primary energy in more efficient ways. Even such services that appear independent of energy, are not so- for example, using computers, iPhones, etc in aggregate comprise about 10% of our energy use, when the servers etc are included. Technology can create GDP without adding to energy use by using energy more efficiently but:

a) much of the large theoretical movements towards energy efficiency have already occurred and

b) energy saved is often used elsewhere in the system to build consumption demand, requiring more and more primary energy (Jevons paradox, rebound effect). Technological improvement thus does increase efficiency, but higher levels of resource consumption and a larger scale of resource extraction offset this advantage.

Despite the power in the Trade, its benefits can be readily reversed. Firstly, if we add very large amounts of primary energy, even if it is inexpensive, the wage increases/benefits start to decline. But more importantly, and has been happening in the past decade or so, as energy prices increase, so too do the benefits of the “Trade” start to wane. The graph to the right (source, page 18) shows that as the price of energy doubles or triples the benefits of this 'Trade' quickly recede. This is especially true for energy intensive transportation, like air travel, and for highly energy intensive processes, like aluminum smelting, cement manufacture- fully 30% of US industry falls into this category. The ensuing reduction in 'salary' from large energy price increases can only partially be offset by efficiency measures or lean manufacturing moves, because the whole 'Trade' was predicated on large amounts of very cheap energy. This is why the mainstream media touting increased oil production or the growth rate in solar/wind is missing the larger point - what matters are the benefits derived at the various cost points of energy extraction/harnessing. Even with large amounts of gross energy, if it is too costly, it is much less helpful or worse, the infrastructure, trade arrangements and expectations built upon continued $40 oil and $0.05kWh electricity will have to be changed. Basically, the benefits to human societies from the mammoth bank account we found underground are almost indistinguishable from magic. Yet we have managed, over time, to conflate the Magic with the Wizard.

16. Energy is special, is non-substitutable in the production function, and has an upward sloping long term cost curve

"Oil is a renewable resource, with no intrinsic value over and above its marginal cost... There is no original stock or store of wealth to be doled out on any special criterion... Capital markets are equipped to handle oil depletion...It is all a matter of money", M.A. Adelman, Professor of Economics, MIT Source

Physics informs us that energy is necessary for economic production and, therefore growth. However, economic texts do not even mention energy as a factor that either constrains or enables economic growth. Standard financial theory (Solows exogenous growth model, Cobb Douglas function) posits that capital and labor combine to create economic products, and that energy is just one generic commodity input into the production function - fully substitutable the way that designer jeans, or earrings or sushi are. The truth is that every single transaction that creates something of value in our global economy requires an energy input first. Capital, labor and conversions are ALL dependent on energy. For instance, the intro text by Frank and Bernanke (2d ed., 2004, p. 48) offers explanations for increased productivity: …increased quantity of capital per worker, increased # of workers, and, "perhaps the most important,...improvements in knowledge and technology." Nowhere in standard economic literature is there even a hint that the "improvement" in technology they refer to has, historically, been directly linked to the progression of displacing solar-powered human and animal muscle with larger and larger quantities of energy from oil, coal, and gas. Though energy is central (in that even more difficult ore grades require more overburden to extract, requiring more diesel fuel, etc), energy is not the only key limiter – other minerals and metals are finite and deteriorating in quality and cannot be (easily) replaced.

Since energy seemed the same as any other commodity economic models assumed that energy and resources would follow the same decreasing cost curve we have come to expect from gadgets like toasters and coffee cups, where the technology, outsourcing of parts to their lowest cost countries, and efficiencies of scale have generally formed a declining cost over time. For a while, energy too followed this curve, but given that high quality resources are finite, and require high quality processed resources themselves to extract and refine, eventually the cost curve of energy and other key minerals and ores, begins to rise again. This 'dual view' of energy vs regular everyday products is a key failing in economic texts. But for most of the past 60-70 years however this omission was perhaps understandable, as there WAS a continuing supply of cheap energy so its worth seemed to be just the dollar price of it. For most, this is still the dominant worldview – dollars are more important than energy.

Historical cost curves for oil, coal and natural gas for Europe - Graph source: Rune Likvern Click to enlarge

15. Energy has costs in energy terms, which can differ significantly than dollar signals

“It is appropriate to conclude that, as long as the sun shines brightly on our fair planet, the appropriate estimate for the drag on the economy from increasing entropy is zero. William Nordhaus

“ The laws of economics are like the laws of engineering. There's only one set of laws and they work everywhere. One of the things I've learned in my time at the World Bank is that whenever anybody says "But economics works differently here", they're about to say something dumb. Lawrence H. Summers

“ ... the world can, in effect, get along without natural resources ... at some finite cost, production can be freed of dependence on exhaustible resources altogether.... Nobel Laureate Robert Solow

In nature, animals expend energy (muscle calories) in order to access energy (prey). The return on this ‘investment’ is a central evolutionary process bearing on metabolism, mating, strength and survival. Those organisms that have high energy returns in turn have surplus to withstand the various hurdles found in nature. So it is in the human system where the amount of energy that society has ‘to spend’ is that left over after the energy and resources needed to harvest and distribute that energy are accounted for. Finite resources typically follow a 'best first' concept of resource extraction. As we moved from surface exploration based on seeps to seismic surveys showing buried anticlines, to deep-water and subsalt reservoir exploration, and finally to hydro-fracturing of tight oil formations , the return per unit of energy input declined from over 100:1 to something under 10:1. To economists and decision makers only the dollar cost and gross production mattered during this period, as after all, more dollars would ‘create’ more energy flowing through our economies. Net energy can peak and decline while gross energy continues to rise, and indeed can go to zero when there is still plenty of gross resource remaining. Everything we do will become more expensive if we cannot reduce the energy consumption of specific processes faster than prices grow. Yet, financial texts continue to view economic activity as a function of infinite money creation rather than a function of capped energy stocks and finite energy flows.

Left chart - western Majors price needed for cash flow break even in yellow, overlayed on OPEC vs non-OPEC crude oil production. Source IEA, Goldman Sach 4/13 report 'Higher long term prices required for troubled industry'. Right curve total oil production from Western Majors - source

Irrespective of the dollar price tag, it requires about 245 kilojoules to lift 5kg of oil 5 km out of the ground. Similar biophysical costs apply to every energy extraction/harnessing technology we have - but they are all parsed into financial terms for convenience. After all, isn't it dollars (euros, yen, renminbi) that our system is trying to optimize? But these physical input requirements will not vary whether the number of digits in the worlds banking system increases or shrinks or goes away. Though fossil fuels are our primary source of wealth, they were created a long time ago, and in drawing down their bounty we have not needed to pay the price of their generation, only their extraction. And, despite enormous amounts of sunlight hitting the earth everyday, real (and significant) resources need to be expended in order to harness and convert the sunlight into forms and at places where it can be used.

There is an enormous difference between ‘gross’ and ‘net’ which manifests in financial sphere via costs. Irrespective of our choice of nominal statistic measuring GDP (wampum or dollars or digits or gold), an increasing % of them will be allocated to the energy sector. If our objective is just to increase GDP, we can just keep growing gross energy by locating and exploiting deeper and deeper pockets of fossil hydrocarbons, but eventually our entire food, healthcare, entertainment infrastructure will be to provide for a giant mining operation. Few media outlets (none actually) handicap the new surge in gross USA oil production by a)capex requirements going up faster than oil prices, b) the enormous increase in diesel use in the shale plays and c) the higher API gravity oil (42 for Bakken, 55 for Eagleford) which exaggerate energy content per barrel between 3.5% and 10.7%. Under current trends, the implications of energy depletion is we will move from energy costing less than 5% of our economy to 10-15% or more. In addition to the obvious problems this will create, we will be using lower quality energy as well. As oil has become more expensive, we are increasingly going towards coal and wood to replace it. Already, in countries with a large drop in ability to afford (e.g. Greece) are cutting down forests to heat their homes in winter.
Net energy is what societies should be focused on, and most don’t even know what it is.

14. Money/financial instruments are just markers for real capital

Some material things make my life more enjoyable; many, however, would not. I like having an expensive private plane, but owning a half-dozen homes would be a burden. Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner. The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends. Warren Buffet - The Giving Pledge

Some of my 'real capital': Natural capital - my backyard with trees, sun, water, Social capital Here 2 of my dogs, but equally my friends, contacts and family relationships, Built capital Our house, with solar hot water, chain saws, an aloe vera plant, and a deck, and Human Capital My health and skills (identifying edible mushrooms), my fathers health and skills (he's a doctor, and can grow vegetables, etc)

Growing a big bank account is like fat storage for animals – but it’s not, because it’s only a marker for fat – its caloric benefit stored for the future is intertwined with a sociocultural system linked to monetary and credit marker. In business school, (and on Wall St.) we were taught that stocks going up ~10% a year over the long run was something akin to a natural law. The truth turns out to be something quite different. Stocks and bonds are themselves ‘derivatives’ of primary capital - energy and natural resources – which combine with technology to produce secondary capital - tractors, houses, tools, etc. Money and financial instruments are thus tertiary capital, with no intrinsic value – it’s the social system and what if confers that has value and this system is based on natural, built, social and human capital. And, our current system of ‘claims’ (what people think they own) has largely decoupled from underlying ‘real capital’.

13. Our money is created by commercial banks out of thin air (deposits and loans are created at same time)

Though societies require ‘energy’, individuals require money in order to transact in the things energy provides. What is money anyways? I certainly didn't learn in business school (or any school for that matter). Quite simply, money is a claim on a certain amount of energy. When our economic engine kicked into gear in the early 1900s, money (not energy or resources) was the limiting factor. We had so much wealth in our natural resource bank account that we needed ways of turbocharging the broader economy so productive ventures could be undertaken by anyone with skill, products or ambition. It was around this time that banks came into existence - to increase the flow of money to match the productive output of our economies only made sense - too little money and we couldn't produce the 'power' needed by a hungry world. Creditworthy individuals/businesses could now obtain loans from commercial banks who were required to keep a small portion of their assets on reserve with a central bank. And it worked fabulously well. Correlation=causation and all that.

We were taught to view credit creation as a series of consecutive bank "intermediations", where some initial deposit rippled through the banking system and via a multiplier, created additional money. E.g. banks are unable to create credit themselves, but are just passing on some wealth already created. This is true for about 5% of money coming into existence. The reality for 95%+ of money creation is profoundly different. The standard concept of lending describes a transfer of an existing commodity to its exclusive use somewhere else. However, this new credit extended by banks does not remove purchasing power or claims on resources from anywhere else in the economy. Since banks are capital constrained, not reserve constrained they lend when (ostensibly) creditworthy customers have demand for loans, not when they have excess reserves. As such the ‘fractional reserve banking’ system taught in textbooks and demonized on the blogosphere is not the proper description. I didn't learn this until 2007 or so. Banks do not lend money, they create it. And this is why the focus on government debt is a red herring. All of our financial claims are debt relative to natural resources.

**(Edit - This new paper by Bank of England states precisely what I did just above -banks are not just intermediaries as taught in textbooks)

12. Debt is a non-neutral intertemporal transfer

The left graph, shows the disconnect between GDP and aggregate, non-financial debt. In every single year since 1965 we have grown our debt more than we have grown our GDP. The right graph shows the inverse - how much GDP we receive for each new dollar of debt - declining debt productivity. Source: FED Z.1 2013, NBER

(Note: I use the terms credit and debt interchangeably, though creditor and debtor are opposites)

Of the broad aggregate money in existence in the US of around $60 trillion, only about $1 trillion is physical currency. The rest can be considered, ‘debt’, a claim of some sort (corporate, household, municipal, government, etc.) If cash is a claim on energy and resources, adding debt (from a position of no debt) becomes a claim on future energy and resources. In financial textbooks, debt is an economically neutral concept, neither bad nor good, but just an exchange of time preference between two parties on when they choose to consume. (* we were taught in corporate finance, because of the deductibility of interest, choosing debt over equity is preferred in situations with taxes – but in the real world, when capital markets are open and credit is flowing, if a CEO has choice between financing a project with equity or debt, he/she will almost always prefer debt. And so they do.) However, there are several things that happen when we issue debt/credit that cause the impact of the convention to be much different than in the textbooks:

1) While we are issuing debt (especially on a full planet) the best and easiest to find energy and resources deplete making energy (and therefore other things) generally more expensive for the creditor than the debtor. People that choose to save are ‘outcompeted’ by people who choose to consume by taking on debt. At SOME point in the future SOME creditors will get less, or nothing. (the question now is ‘when’ and ‘who’)

2) We increasingly have to issue more debt to keep up with the declining benefit of the “Trade”, lest aggregate demand plunge.

3) Over time we consume more rather than adding productive investment capacity. This lowers debt productivity over time (debt productivity is how much GDP we get for an additional $ of debt, or the ratio of GDP growth relative to debt growth). If an additional dollar of debt created a dollar of GDP, or anything close, it would be more or less like the textbooks claim – a tradeoff in the temporal preferences of the creditor and debtor. And, when debt productivity is high, we are transforming and extending wealth into different forms of future wealth (energy into productive factories etc). But when debt productivity is low (or approaching zero as is the case now), new debt is really just an exchange of wealth for income. This is happening now in all nations of the world to varying degrees. E.g. since 2008, G7 nations have added 1 trillion in nominal GDP, but at a cost of increasing debt by $18 trillion – and this doesn’t include off balance sheet guarantees.

Debt can thus be viewed two ways – 1) from a wealth inequality perspective, for every debtor there is a creditor – a zero sum game, 2) all claims (debts) are relative to the energy and natural resources required to a) service them and b) pay off the principle. (So, think 2 Italians: Gini and Ponzi.)

11. Energy measured in energy terms is the cost of capital

The cost of finite natural resources measured in energy terms is our real cost of capital. In the short and intermediate run, dollars function as energy, as we can use them to contract and pay for anything we want, including energy and energy production. They SEEM like the limiters. But in the long run, accelerating credit creation obscures the engine of the whole enterprise - the ‘burning of the energy’. Credit cannot create energy, but it does allow continued energy extraction and much (needed) higher prices than were credit unavailable. At some point in the past 40 years we crossed a threshold of 'not enough money' in the system to 'not enough cheap energy' in the system, which in turn necessitated even more money. After this point, new credit increasingly added gross energy masking declines in our true cost of capital (net energy/EROI). Though its hard to imagine, if society had disallowed debt circa 1975 (e.g. required banks to have 100% Tier 2 capital and reserves) OR if we had some natural resource tether – like gold – to our money supply since then, global oil production and GDP would likely have peaked 20-30 years ago (and we’d have a lot more of the sub 50$ tranche left). As such, focus on oil and gas production numbers isn't too helpful without incorporating credit forecasts and integrating affordability for societies at different price tranches.

An example might make this clearer: imagine 3,000 helicopters each dropped a billion dollars of cash in different communities across the country (that’s $3 Trillion ). Citizens that get there first would stuff their backpacks and become millionaires overnight, lots of others would have significant spending money, a larger number would get a few random hundreds stuck in fences, or cracks, and a large % of the population, not near the dropzone, would get nothing. The net effect of this would be to drive up energy use as the new rich would buy cars and take trips and generally consume more. EROI of the nations oil fields wouldn’t change, but oil companies would get a higher price for the now harder to find oil because the economy would be stronger, despite the fact that those $3 trillion came from thin air (or next to it). So, debt went up, GDP went up, oil prices went up, EROI stayed the same, a few people got richer, and a large % of people got little to nothing. This is pretty much what is happening today in the developed world.

Natural systems can perhaps grow 2-3% per year (standing forests in USA increase their volume by 2.6% per year). This can be increased via technology, extraction of principle (fossil carbon), debt, or some combination. If via technology, we are accessing energy we might not have been able to access in the future. If we use debt, we are diverting energy that would have been accessible in the future to today by increasing its affordability via handouts/guarantees and increasing the price that energy producers receive for it. In this fashion debt functions similarly to technology in oil extraction. Neither one is 'bad', but both favor immediate consumption on an assumption they will be repeated in continued iterations in the future.

Debt temporarily makes gross energy feel like net energy as a larger amount of energy is burned despite higher prices, lower wages and profits. Gross energy also adds to GDP, as the $80+ per barrel oil extraction costs in e.g. Bakken Shale ends up being spent in Williston and surrounding areas (this would be a different case if the oil were produced in Canada, or Saudi Arabia). But over time, as debt increases gross energy and net energy stays constant or declines, a larger % of our economy becomes involved in the energy sector. Already we have college graduates trained in biology, or accounting, or hotel management, working on oil rigs. In the future, important processes and parts of non-energy infrastructure will become too expensive to continue. Even more concerning is that, faced with higher costs, energy companies increasingly follow the societal trend towards using debt to pull production forward in time (e.g. Chesapeake, Statoil). In this environment, we can expect total capital expenditure to keep pace with total revenue every year, and net cash flow become negative as debt rises.

In the last 10 years the global credit market has grown at 12% per year allowing GDP growth of only 3.5% and increasing global crude oil production less than 1% annually. We're so used to running on various treadmills that the landscape doesn't look all too scary. But since 2008, despite energies fundamental role in economic growth, it is access to credit that is supporting our economies, in a surreal, permanent, Faustian bargain sort of way. As long as interest rates (govt borrowing costs) are low and market participants accept it, this can go on for quite a long time, all the while burning through the next tranche of extractable carbon and getting reduced benefits from the "Trade" creating other societal pressures. I don't expect the government takeover of the credit mechanism to stop, but if it does, both oil production and oil prices will be quite a bit lower. In the long run it's all about the energy. For the foreseeable future, it's mostly about the credit

But why do we want energy and money anyways?

Continued in Part II

Wed 18 September, 2013

21:17 So, What Are You Doing?» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

It's September and we still have 7 more 'final' posts in the queue (myself, Joules, Jerome, Jason, Art, Dave Murphy, and Euan...) and will run them every 2 days until finished. Leanan will post a final Drumbeat later this week where people can leave website links contact details, etc.

For 8 years we read about what people think about energy related themes. I thought it would be a good idea to use this thread to highlight what people are actually doing in their lives given the knowledge they've gleaned from studying this topic, which really is more of a study of the future of society.

What do TOD members plan to do in the future? Herding goats, fixing potholes, creating web sites, switching careers, etc? I'll go first. Feel free to use my template or just inform others what you're doing. This might be interesting thread to check back on in a few/many years.....(Please no posting of energy charts etc. and let's not respond to others in this thread, just a long list of what people are doing w/ their time).

Ere we scatter to the ether, please share, anonymously or otherwise : what are people doing?

Thu 12 September, 2013

11:32 The Exponential Legacy of Al Bartlett» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

Dr. Albert Allen Bartlett, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Colorado, died September 7, 2013 at the age of 90. It is coincidental that, in the year that he "officially" retired from teaching (1988), I first heard his famous lecture Arithmetic, Population, and Energy (although I don't recall if that was the title at the time). I was in my last year in graduate school, and his talk was one of the keynote presentations (or perhaps during dinner) for a scientific conference. It was seemingly out of place given that the subject of the meeting was surface chemistry and physics, but it most certainly became stuck somewhere in my mind for reasons other than its novelty.

Most scientists are transfixed on interesting scientific details, some with relevance to technological problems, and perhaps buzz-worthy enough to attract funding. There has never been much money in solving problems with no real technological solution. I became reacquainted with this talk in 2006, probably via a link on The Oil Drum. TOD was by its nature dealing with limits to growth (of oil, if nothing else), and over the last few years, we have discussed the various ways in which we could perhaps keep the oil flowing or replace it with something else. Perhaps the implications of exponential growth was kept in the back room somewhere, like an embarrassing relative, while the latest "game changing" solution was bandied about. But we need to continually remind ourselves that, while important, finding the next energy source or improving efficiencies the keep the economy growing are not long-term solutions for a finite planet.

Below are some more reflections on Prof. Bartlett's legacy, from ASPO-USA (where he had long been on the advisory board) and from the University of Colorado.

Albert A. Bartlett: Ode to a Gentle Giant

Dr. Albert Allen Bartlett enjoyed 90 years of rich life on this earth; moreover, thousands of people have enjoyed and been touched by Al's life.

He is of course most widely known as a tireless, eloquent, and supremely caring voice for charting a sustainable path for humanity. With seemingly endless determination, he applied his training in math and physics and skills as a master teacher to focus attention on a simple but paramount idea--on a finite planet, "growth" is unsustainable. "Sustainable growth is an oxymoron", is how Al is sometimes quoted.

His most reknowned quote, however, is "the greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function"--referring to the accelerating rate exhibited by anything growing as a constant percentage increase.

Al developed a now-famous lecture that illustrated the power and importance of this mathematical phenonomenon, and reportedly delivered that lecture more than 1700 times over the following decades. That one man would be compelled to devote much of his career to the understanding of a basic, unassailable fact of life speaks volumes about the world we live in, as well as Al's great character.

ASPO-USA is proud to have had Al as a longstanding member of our advisory board, and I was exceptionally fortunate to be acquainted with him in his latter years. While the nature of our relationship was professional, what I will always remember is the warmth, humility, and quiet joy that he brought to his work and his relationships with his colleagues and students.

For those that dare to concern themselves with the monumental issues that concerned Al, there is a risk of gloominess creeping into our outlook on life and humanity. Al is a beautiful reminder that need not be the case.

The note that Al wrote to us after he visited his doctor was filled with the peace and happiness of a man who had understood long ago what was important in life and had lived his own life accordingly. We should all be so blessed, and some of us were also blessed to know Al.

In honor to Al, inspired and informed by his life and his friendship, we re-commit ourselves to continuing and building on his legacy.

Click below to view Al's famous lecture - Arithmetic, Population, and Energy:


Jan Mueller Executive Director, ASPO-USA


CU-Boulder campus mourns death of longtime, celebrated physics professor Al Bartlett

excerpted from here

“Al Bartlett was a man of many legacies,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “His commitment to students was evidenced by the fact that he continued to teach for years after his retirement. His timeless, internationally revered lecture on the impacts of world population growth will live beyond his passing, a distinction few professors can claim. And we can all be thankful for his vision and foresight in making the Boulder community what it is today.”

Bartlett was born on March 21, 1923, in Shanghai, China. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Colgate University and spent two years as an experimental physicist at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico as part of the Manhattan Project before earning his graduate degrees in physics at Harvard. He then started his teaching career at CU-Boulder.

When Bartlett first delivered his internationally celebrated lecture on “Arithmetic, Population and Energy” to a group of CU students on Sept. 19, 1969, the world population was about 3.7 billion. He proceeded to give it another 1,741 times in 49 states and seven other countries to corporations, government agencies, professional groups and students from junior high school through college.

His talk warned of the consequences of “ordinary, steady growth” of population and the connection between population growth and energy consumption. Understanding the mathematical consequences of population growth and energy consumption can help clarify the best course for humanity to follow, he said.

The talk contained his most celebrated statement: “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” A video of his lecture posted on YouTube has been viewed nearly 5 million times.

This year, the world population is about 7.1 billion and the CU Environmental Center announced a program this summer in which 50 student and community volunteers received training in exchange for a commitment to give Bartlett’s talk at least three times in 2013-14.

Before his death, Bartlett requested that any memorial gifts be made to the University of Colorado Foundation Albert A. Bartlett Scholarship Fund, in care of the Department of Physics, 390 UCB, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, 80309.

Tue 10 September, 2013

06:59 Of Milk Cows and Saudi Arabia» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

Under the desert in eastern Saudi Arabia lies Ghawar, the largest oil field in the world. It has been famously productive, with a per-well flow rate of thousands of barrels per day, owing to a combination of efficient water injection, good rock permeability, and other factors. At its best, it set the standard for easy oil. The first wells were drilled with rather rudimentary equipment hauled across the desert sands, and the oil would flow out at ten thousand barrels per day. It was, in a sense, a giant udder. And the world milked it hard for awhile.

However, this article isn't just about a metaphor; it is also about cows, the Holsteins of Haradh. But in the end, I will circle back to the present and future of Saudi oil production.

I registered on The Oil Drum over seven years ago, and one of the subjects that fascinated me was the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. There was much discussion about the largest of these, Ghawar, and whether it might soon go into steep decline - taking the world with it. About that time, an application called Google Earth added some features which enabled users to mark up the globe with their own placemarks and such, and I set out to find Ghawar (or at least its footprints) in the vast sandscape that is the Eastern Province. Starting with published maps which could be overlaid atop the satellite imagery in Google Earth, I found some initial wells...and then a lot more...and kept going. An article authored by Saudi Aramco engineers showed well locations in northern Ghawar, and I noticed that many wells which I found yet were not on the map. I deduced that these were wells drilled after the map was drawn, and their locations seems to indicate intensive drilling in the center of the field, which was previously bereft of wells. I began publishing some of these findings on the blog Satellite o'er the Desert and was invited to contribute to The Oil Drum.

In my Google Earth-enabled virtual travels around Saudi Arabia looking for oil wells and such, I have come upon many strange sights. Some of these are of natural origin yet can only be appreciated from a satellite's perspective, as is the case for this tidal pool located near a gas oil separation plant for the Safaniya oil field:

Figure 1. My favorite Google Earth view, near Safaniyah oil field, Saudi Arabia

There are many crop circles scattered about eastern Saudi Arabia -- by which I mean circles of crops watered by central pivot irrigation (as opposed to circles of crops flattened by aliens). A line of such circles cuts across the southern tip of the Ghawar field, seemingly following the course of a dry river bed.

Figure 2. Irrigation along the southern fringe of the Ghawar Oil Field, Saudi Arabia. Arrows indicate location of features of interest.

Located on this line, just to the west of the field periphery, are three rather symmetrical structures:

Figure 3. Symmetrical objects of interest near Ghawar oil field.

Each of these is about 250 meters in radius. It took me awhile to discover what these were, as at the time, crowdsourced mapping was just getting started. It so happens that they are part of a huge integrated dairy operation, one of the largest in the world. Fodder crops are grown in nearby circles, cows are milked with state of the art equipment, and the milk is packaged and/or processed into cheese and other products before being shipped. All of this happens in the northernmost fringe of the Rub' al Khali desert, one of the most inhospitable places on earth. Start here to browse around Saudi Arabia's Dairyland on your own using Google Maps.

Turning Black Gold Into White Milk

Here is a glossy PR video describing the operations:

Although the original intent was to locally breed cows more suited to the Saudi climate, it seems they had to import them. Here is another video describing the transport of cows from Australia. A bit different than a Texas cattle drive.

They Built It, But They Didn't Come

Answering why and how these dairy farms came to be located here reveals some interesting history of Saudi Arabia. Although great wealth of the country results from its abundant store of fossil fuels, the necessity of diversifying the economy has long been recognized. The lack of food security was always a big concern. In addition, there remained the nagging problem of what to do with the Bedouins, nomadic peoples who resisted efforts to be integrated into the broader Saudi society. And since they now had it in abundance, they decided to throw money at the problems. What could go wrong?

As related in the book "Inside the Mirage" by Thomas Lippman, a problem with Saudi agriculture is that most of the private land was owned by just a few people, and they were wealthy aristocrats, not farmers, and there wasn't much local knowledge of modern large-scale agriculture in any case. One of the proposed solutions was to create huge demonstration projects by which modern techniques of farming could be learned and applied. As for labor, the goal was to provide individual farms, housing, and modern conveniences to the Bedouin, who would settle down for a life on the farm. The largest such project was the al-Faysal Settlement Project at Haradh, designed for 1000 families. It didn't work out as planned, though, because the Bedouins never came:

You know of the Haradh project, where $20 million was spent irrigating a spot in the desert where an aquifer was found not too far from the surface. This project took six years to complete and was done for the purpose of settling Bedouin tribes. At the end of six years, no Bedouin turned up and the government had to consider how to use the most modern desert irrigation facility in the world.

(From a 1974 Ford Foundation memo)

Eventually, the Saudi government partnered with Masstock, a Dublin-based industrialized endeavor run by two brothers. The Haradh project became the largest of their operations in Saudi Arabia at the time. Eventually, a new company called Almarai (Arabic for "pasture") was created which involved Prince Sultan bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer. In 1981, a royal decree created the National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC) for the purpose of furthering agricultural independence, and (for reasons I haven't discerned), NADEC gained control of the Haradh project. Almarai went on the become the largest vertically integrated dairy company in the world, and Al Kabeer is a hidden billionaire.

As a side note, NADEC sued Saudi Aramco a few years ago as a result of the latter using some NADEC property for Haradh oil operations, and a lower court ordered Saudi Aramco to vacate. The web links to those reports have disappeared, and one wonders how the appeal went. Separately, NADEC has reportedly obtained farmland in Sudan. Food security.

Speaking of Cash Cows

A half decade ago, much of The Oil Drum's focus was on possible problems with Saudi Arabian oil production. Was the flow from Ghawar tanking? Were all of their older fields well past their prime, and were their future options as limited as Matt Simmons suggested in Twilight in the Desert? My analyses and those of others here seem to suggest a rather aggressive effort to stem decline. With further hindsight, it is clear that Saudi Aramco was caught a bit off guard by decline in existing production. But over time, they were able to complete several decline mitigation projects as well as many so-called mega-projects with many million barrels per day of new production. With each project, the technological sophistication has grown - along with the expense. The Khurais redevelopment, which is reportedly producing as expected, features centralized facilities for oil, gas, and injection water processing. Water goes out, and oil comes back.

Figure 4. Left: map showing Saudi oil fields, Right: Khurais Project pipeline network (source: Snowden's laptop)

The most recent project, the Manifa field redevelopment is a logistical marvel. These have so far proven to be very successful projects (even though Manifa is not fully completed). But if one looks for the impact of the projects on their total output, one comes back somewhat underwhelmed. In the following graphic I show Saudi Arabian production with the theoretical (zero depletion) and official (as reported directly by Saudi Aramco) production capacities.

Figure 5. Saudi Arabian crude oil production increases from megaprojects since 1996, compared with actual crude production (source: Stuart Staniford). Cumulative increases are superimposed on the Saudi Aramco reported baseline value of 10.5 mbpd capacity in 1995. Blue dots denote values obtained from references 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Here are some conclusions one might draw from the above (including the references):

  • Saudi Aramco has generally been self-consistent when reporting spare capacity and total capacity in light of actual production
  • Production capacity increased subsequent to startup of megaprojects. However, the net production capacity increases were uniformly and substantially less than the planned increments. In total, 5 million barrels per day of production was added, but capacity increased by only 2 mbpd.
  • It is most unlikely that reported production capacities accurately reflected what was producible at any point in time, given the reported values as correlated with the timing of the increases from the megaprojects.
  • However, actual production did not generally increase immediately after projects were completed, indicating that production capacity was not completely exhausted beforehand. But there was certainly an impetus to add a lot of production quickly.

The gap between what might have been (red staircase) and what is reported as production capacity (blue dots) is explained by considering the net of two competing developments: 1) depletion of legacy fields (Ghawar etc.) as they are produced, and b) mitigation of this depletion by drilling new wells in these fields. Since Saudi Aramco does not release data for individual fields or new vs. old wells, we are left to speculate on the relative magnitudes of these. On the plus side, the 5 mbpd from the new projects will (hopefully) deplete less rapidly than older fields. On the minus side, only 2 mbpd capacity was added - and they have exhausted all of the major fields in the pipeline. On the double minus side (for the world, anyway), only 1 - 1.5 mbpd of actual production was added since 1995, and (according to BP) all of that increase went into internal consumption. So after nearly 20 years, though total world crude production (and population) has increased, Saudi Arabia exports the same amount of oil as before. And yet, there is still a lot of hydrocarbons under Saudi Arabia. And it seems they already realize the need for more, as there are reports of planned increases from Khurais and Shaybah totaling 550 kbpd by 2017 to "take the strain off Ghawar". I feel its pain.

Addendum: According to this news report, oil has not actually flowed yet from Manifa. The new Jubail refinery has reportedly no received any Manifa oil as of yet:

The refinery is configured to run on heavy crude oil. But two industry sources said the refinery had not received any of the heavy crude expected from Aramco's new Manifa field and that it was running instead on light crude. Aramco said in April that it had started production at Manifa.-Reuters

Still the One?

Despite all of the negativity emitted above, it is also evident that Saudi Arabia has had and will continue to have a role as the primary provider of spare capacity which can be deployed to buffer variability in world demand. It can do this because Saudi Aramco, the largest oil company in the world, can effect oil prices by virtue of what it can put on or take off the world market. Contrast the Saudi production profile with that of the United States, shown below.

Figure 6. United States monthly crude oil production (source: EIA)

Aside from some minor month-to-month fluctuations and some notable downward spikes caused by Gulf of Mexico hurricanes in 2002 (Isadore), 2004 (Ivan), 2005 (Katrina and Rita), and 2008 (Gustav), production follows a smooth trend. Especially noteworthy is the contrast between Saudi and US production subsequent to the economic downturn in 2008, when oil prices collapsed: Saudi Arabia throttled back while the US kept pumping. Any individual producer in the US had little incentive to hold back oil. However, with the increased importance of Shale plays (Bakken and Eagle Ford) to US production, this might change the dynamics going forward. Since these wells deplete rapidly, any decrease in drilling caused by low prices will also throttle demand (although with a time lag).

The Hungry Cow

The other new "above ground factor" is the problem of growing internal consumption in Saudi Arabia, of just about everyting including oil. To air condition all of those cows, it takes a lot of electricity (and currently oil). And all of that milk feeds a growing, young population. But that milk is bound to get more expensive, since the aquifers from which those massive dairy operations get their water are being rapidly depleted.

Milk consumption in Saudi Arabia reached 729.4 million litres in 2012
The Kingdom has already depleted 70% of these sources of water and must now turn increasingly to desalinisation which when factored into the cost of producing fresh milk is very expensive. Experts have estimated that it takes between 500- 1000 litres of fresh water to produce 1 litre of fresh milk if one takes into around the irrigation required to grow the Rhodes grass or Alfalfa required to feed the cows.

It seems Saudi Arabia has cash flow problems, although it is hard to imagine why, given that they are currently producing as much oil as ever at $100/barrel. For one thing, their population keeps growing:

Figure 7. Saudi Arabia population growth (source: Thanks, Jonathan!)

and they need to spread around some money to maintain political stability. Their energy use is out of control, as is their water consumption. And for those segments of Saudi society into which much of the oil revenue flows, consumption is a happening thing. And nobody really knows where the all money goes.

Saudi Aramco is overseen by the Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ministry and, to a lesser extent, the Supreme Petroleum Council, an executive body. The company pays royalties and dividends to the state and supplies domestic refineries. Revenues go to the Finance Ministry, but the amounts are not published. There is no transparency in the national budgeting process, and it is unclear how oil revenues are used. Environmental impact assessments are required, but the results are not made public. Laws and decrees concerning the extractive industries are published and include guidelines for the licensing process in sectors other than upstream oil, but do not contain details on fiscal arrangements. Saudi Arabia has no freedom of information law.

Some ends up in London, where some Saudi tourists spend the entire summer. Of course, this was true in 2002 (and oil was $26/barrel then).

But they do seem to have money to throw around to garner political influence (note that the US does the same with money that it doesn't have). And they have grand plans for looking beyond their petro-heritage:

Best hopes for wise spending.

Au revoir. Au lait.

Sat 07 September, 2013

20:05 IEA Sankey Diagrams» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

The International Energy Agency has taken its share of abuse from The Oil Drum over the years for its rather optimistic forecasts. But it deserves a hearty shout-out for an invaluable resource it has on its web site: Interactive Sankey Diagrams for the World.

Sankey Diagram showing world energy flows (Click for larger view)

As long as you understand what a Sankey Diagram is, not much more introduction is needed here. You can look at individual countries, consumption patterns as well as production, and more. Click on individual flows and graph over time.

World energy use for steel production (Click for larger view)

One curiosity, though:

The world oil imports (2295) and oil exports (2218) don't match in the top graphic. "Statistical difference"?

As with data from the BP Statistical Review series, there might be occasional quibbles with the numbers. Also, I've seen prettier Sankeys. But if you've been wondering what to do with all of your time after The Oil Drum goes on hiatus, there you go.

Fri 06 September, 2013

21:13 My Last Campfire Post» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

I checked my user profile for this site and discovered that as of today I have been a member for 7 years and 37 weeks. Wow! So much has happened to me and my family over those years and a lot of it was shared on The Oil Drum. For reasons I’ll explain, I haven’t been around much lately. My most recent article was over three years ago.

My first writings for The Oil Drum were over six years ago as guest posts through Nate Hagens, and then as a staff contributor for the “Campfire” section of the site. I am not an energy expert so my role wasn’t about modeling depletion or providing context to the energy news of the week. What I did was consider the broader relationships between energy, resources and society, and explore the implications of more expensive and less energy to our consumer-oriented economy and culture. The most complete and succinct example of this role is probably my “Beware the Hungry Ghosts” piece, which includes this passage:

Several religious traditions describe what are termed “hungry ghosts.” These sad beings have insatiable appetites, with tiny mouths and huge stomachs. Modern society creates hungry ghosts among the living. We “have” more than ever, but are constantly bombarded with messages that it is never enough. The poor go to dollar stores, the middle class spend hours at Bed Bath and Beyond, the rich buy ever larger yachts, and city planners are always looking for more land and water in which to expand their urban sphere. Wants have become indistinguishable from needs. I anxiously walk among our nation of hungry ghosts, asking myself what these addicts will do when they can't get their fix?

What many of us found at The Oil Drum was a place to share our anxieties with those who share our anxieties. I am not being dismissive of this at all! Many here have points of view that place us outside of conventional wisdom, and this can be socially difficult. Where else can we go to have conversations that may be impolite, misunderstood and dismissed by the hungry ghosts we live among?

A fine example of thinking profoundly differently is in Kurt Cobb’s essay “Upside Down Economics” in which he gives a visual representation of U.S. GDP from the perspective of an Ecological Economist:

Figure 1

Many of my articles framed topics from an Ecological Economics perspective, where the economy is a subsidiary of the planet and functions by extracting resources and depositing wastes. Essential resources like energy, mineral ores, food and fiber can only be easily ignored when they are inexpensive to buy and reliably available. Many of us are alarmed because we see existential threats to the bottom of a top heavy pyramid and would like those situated higher up to pay attention and look below.

At the bottom of Cobb’s chart you see the economic sector “Agriculture & Forestry.” That is where I currently work, and where much of my writing here was about. I didn’t just explore the food growing sector, but also the so-called Food System, that includes transportation, processing and warehousing, retailing and end-use. Classic statistics discussed, and that devoted readers of The Oil Drum can probably rattle off at any cocktail party, include:

The U.S. Food System consumes several fossil fuel calories for each food calorie eaten.

The typical grocery store has about three days supply of goods on its shelves.

Each U.S. farmer (plus machines with fuel) feeds 100 people.

Figure 2. Graphic used in the post “Ecological Economics and the Food System

Two additional posts, “Save it for the Combine” and “Energy Descent and Agricultural Population” perhaps best capture the sense of the transformative change fossil fuels made in agricultural production and labor inputs, and offer some perspectives on adaptation to lower fossil fuel availability.

Figure 3. The percent agriculture population is plotted in relation to per capita energy use.  Nations with abundant use of exosomatic energy tend to have less of their population involved in agricultural production, presumably either because they can afford to import much of their food or employ labor saving devices in food production.  For example, only about 1% of the US labor force is involved in farming.  Data comes from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).  Original article containing figure is here.

The Campfire series was not only about exploring heterodox ideas, it was also meant to be a place where practical advice was shared. Many of us wanted to go beyond the talking stage and “do something” about the information and analyses presented on the site. This brings me to why I haven’t been writing here lately.

I went to the 2008 ASPO meetings in Sacramento not only to learn, but to network and hopefully meet someone who could help me with something. I wanted to farm at a significant scale to practice and demonstrate a form of agriculture that needs much fewer external inputs and is thus adaptive to our times. I met my eventual business partner (and TOD member) Craig Wichner in Sacramento. We were able to introduce our company, Farmland LP, at ASPO 2009 in Denver, where I gave two talks that eventually became posts (here and here). Over the past four years Craig and I have taken a heterodox idea and turned it into something substantial: Farmland LP currently owns and manages 6300 acres of cropland in California and Oregon.

So, I’ve been pretty busy. I am still writing on my company website but most of my posts are news related to the business. On occasion I do develop articles that look at the big picture and do in-depth analyses, such as “ The Many Benefits of Multi-Year Crop Rotations” and “Google Earth, Rotational Grazing and Mineralization, Part 1 and Part 2” but I won’t have time for more of that sort of writing until we are done with planting this fall.

This brings me to the end of my last Campfire post. In customary fashion I will pose some questions and ask readers to share their experience, wisdom, frustrations, and final thoughts for The Oil Drum.

Did any of you follow similar paths to mine, whereby the information and critical thinking shared on this site led to significant changes in your life path? (I never thought I’d be a farmer when I grew up.)

What barriers to making the changes you wanted did you encounter? Did they stop you from going on or did you overcome them somehow? (My wife gave me the foundation I needed to do this work. She had the income-earning job and the patience to allow me time to explore. Thank you Kristin!)

Thu 05 September, 2013

06:22 The Economic and Political Consequences of the Last 10 Years of Renewable Energy Development» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

I've been privileged to be an editor of TOD over the past several years, and am glad to have been invited to do a final post as the site moves to an archive status.

When I started writing about energy on the blogs in 2003/2004, I was writing mostly about Russia, gas pipelines and gas geopolitics. There were so many conspiracy theories abounding on topics like the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline or (a bit later) Russia vs Ukraine pipeline conflicts that I felt the need to put out a different version, given that I knew the inside story on many of these issues - and that got me invited to contribute these to TOD as well. In the meantime, my job (which was, and - full disclosure - remains, to finance energy projects) slowed moved from oil&gas work to power sector transactions and, increasingly, to renewable sector deals, and I started writing about the wind business, in my mind from the perspective of a banker wanting to make sure that these projects could be paid back over periods of 15 or 20 years.

While my work is now almost exclusively focused on offshore wind in Northern Europe, I still do not consider myself a 'wind shill'... but it does give me a different perspective on the debates currently going on about energy policy in various places, and on the changes to the power sector caused (among others, by renewables) that are underpinning such debates, and I thought it would be a useful complement, together with Big Gav's overview of the clean energy sector, to the other articles more traditionally focused on the oil&gas side of things.

I'll focus on Germany, where the transformation has been most advanced (and even has brought a new word to us: the Energiewende), and where the consequences of high renewable penetration are most visible.

A lot of rather unusual things have been happening in the Germany power sector lately, from negative prices, to utilities closing down brand new power plants and, naturally, a ferocious debate as to whether to cut support for renewable energy (as has already been done in Spain).

I've long described renewable energy producers as a price takers (i.e., they don't influence market prices in the short term and have to "take" market prices as set by other factors, unless shielded by specific regulatory regimes), but we are getting to the point, in a number of places, and in Germany in particular, where the penetration of renewable energy is such that it has a real macroeconomic impact on the prices of electricity, both at the wholesale and the retail levels, and thus on the way power markets run, and on the politics surrounding them. There's the additional factor that apparent spending on renewables is targeted by governments at a time of austerity in Europe, egged on by hardly disinterested utilities.

It is worth going through what's been happening in some detail.

:: ::

In the good old days, wholesale prices of power followed the price of natural gas, as gas-fired plants are the producer of the marginal kWh most of the time. This is still the case in the USA, and it looks like this:

Source: neutroneconomy

Retail prices tend to follow the average wholesale cost, plus a slice for distribution costs and taxes which can vary quite wildly from country to country:

Source: eurostat

But we've seen prices diverging across markets over the past two years, as shown in the following graphs:

  • gas prices diverging sharply across continents (notably as a result of the gas shale developments in the US and increased demand for gas in Japan following the Fukushima disaster, while European prices remain largely indexed to oil):

  • Source: Fidelity

  • wholesale power prices diverging from gas prices:

  • Source: Die Welt, via gwpf

    Note: the lines above represent long term break-even prices for, from the bottom, nuclear power plants, coal-fired plants and gas-fired plants

  • retail prices moving in the opposite direction to wholesale prices, and increasing:

Source: wikipedia (DE)

German wholesale prices have been trending down over the past several years, despite the closure of close to half of the nuclear plants of the country, and despite the persistently high natural gas prices on the continent, while retail prices have been going up, including due to contributions to pay for guaranteed fixed prices to renewable energy producers (the "EEG" component in yellow in the last graph).

The fall in wholesale prices means that most traditional power plants are not economical at current levels, as the second graph above shows.

There are some temporary factors to the current situation. One is the general economic woes of the eurozone, which are pushing demand downwards and thus prices as well. The other is the temporary higher use of coal-fired power plants, which itself comes from a combination of short term factors:

  • cheap imports from the USA (where coal use has been displaced for a while by cheap gas in power generation) made coal more profitable than gas, and
  • regulatory incentives mean coal plants have (under the (the Large Combustion Plants EU directive) a limited number of hours to run and operators have every reason to use these up quickly, and especially if the plants are profitable, or less unprofitable than gas ones (UK coal plants have the additional incentive that a carbon tax will be imposed on them from April 2013).

These factors have made it possible to claim that Germany was increasing pollution and carbon emissions because of wrongheaded policies (depending on your stance: closing nuclear plants or pushing renewables), but this looks like a temporary arbitrage between coal and gas.

:: ::

The real long term story is that the power spot markets are being completely upended by the increasing penetration of renewable energy. In Germany, new renewables represent around 50% of the overall installed capacity, and already provide close to 20% of all power generation (split in 2012 in 3 almost equal parts between wind (7%), biomass (6%) and solar (5%)), up from almost nothing 15 years ago, and on many days now they provide 50% or more of total output:

Source: Paul Gipe

This reduces demand for mid-load producers and peakers over more and more periods throughout the year. As the graphs below shows, on good days in the warm season the PV capacity almost eliminates altogether the need for intermediate load; in winter, wind takes over (in aggregate, although not with as regular a daily profile):

Source: DoDo on European Tribune


This was the slice of demand served by coal-fired and gas-fired plants and they are simply not being used as much as they used to, and certainly not as much as their owners expected.

And prices are being squeezed down not just for these producers, but for everybody else as well, in particular during the peak day time hours which used to be the most profitable for all power plants (because baseload plants also receive the more expensive peak hour prices even if they did not bid at such prices). This means that existing capacity is less and less profitable - not just the peakers or intermediate plants, but also the nuclear and other baseload workhorses of the system. Thus the few highly publicized plant closures, and the ongoing utility complaints about lost revenues. Moreover there currently is no business case to invest in any kind of power plant (other than renewables under specific revenue regimes), which utilities use to argue against renewable support.

But here's the thing: preventing new renewables will not eliminate the current existing capacity, which means that the economics of the sector will not recover even if no new renewables were built... The wholesale market as it was designed 20 years ago (de facto based on gas-fired plants of various efficiency targeted at different points of the merit order curve setting up the marginal price) is irreversibly broken. The system is now dominated by plants with very low marginal cost of production (but high upfront investment), which means that spot prices are systematically too low for everybody - you can't invest in plants with high upfront investments (like nukes), and you can't invest in plants with high marginal running costs (gas-fired plants) unless you are betting on persistently low gas prices into the future. That may explain the push for shale gas in Europe, but who believes that shale gas will bring low prices? Even in the US prices are trending up again (and forward prices even more so).

:: ::

In the meantime, retail prices have kept on increasing, and the fact that the contribution of the support regime (in Germany, the "EEG-Umlage") to retail prices has become visible has made it a target of lobbyists and thus a political topic, despite the fact that retail prices increases have been caused, to a large extent (and in particular until 2009) by increases in gas prices.

This leads us to an hidden truth: a large fraction of the massive increase in renewable energy production is not paid for by consumers, but by incumbent producers who see their revenues decline as the price they earn per MWh goes down. Utilities, which see their margins on the retail side increase, but have very little renewable energy production capacity of their own are caught between two conflicting trends, with their upstream business losing profitability, but their downstream business earning more. IPPS are suffering, but have less voice. Unsurprisingly, utilities are focusing public attention only on the first part, and are naturally blaming renewables - not hesitating to point fingers at their support regimes as the cause of rising power prices, in the hope that these regimes will be weakened. They claim they are victims of unfair competition from "heavily subsidized" sources which have priority over them and can dump power with no worry for consequences into the network. They use a mix of real arguments and weaker ones to push against renewables:

source: Goldman Sachs, via Zero Hedge

  • one of the true arguments is that the cost of supporting solar PV has become larger than expected and faster than expected. Just 5 years ago, a number of countries had tariffs in the 500-600 EUR/MWh range, and regulators were surprised by the volumes that managed to be installed - and capture the advantageous prices levels. when they dropped the price support for new projects, they were again surprised by how fast the industry was able to match the lower prices through new technology (and a brutal price war). The result has been an amazing drop in the price of solar panels (-80% in just a few years, as shown above), bringing them close to grid parity, and a rather large (multiple GWs in Germany, Italy, Spain) stock of solar PV capacity which is entitled to very high tariffs for many years, at a visible cost to consumers;
  • in some places, the regulatory regime allowed producers to capture the best of both worlds - the higher of the fixed tariff or the market price (whether wholesale or retail), thus preventing the network, and the public, from benefitting from the "cap" that a real fixed tariff would have provided;
  • in Spain, retail power prices were kept artificially low for political reasons), and the the gross cost of the fixed tariffs was not absorbed into the general cost base of the network and instead explicitly imposed on utilities, which used that as an obvious argument against renewables (even though a good part of the price increases were linked to increased gas prices before the merit order effect acted on wholesale prices); the government's U-turn on tariffs, which imposed negative tariff changes on already operational projects, alienated the utilities further (as they had, contrary to what happened in Germany, become significant operators of renewable capacity and lost money in the process) and created a precedent that also scared off lenders and investors and put the sector in disrepute;
  • in Germany, the renewable energy surcharge applies only to retail consumers, and large sections of industrial users (but not all) are exempted. That means that the gross costs is borne by a smaller fraction of the overall consumers, and that some industries are complaining that they are being treated unfairly. Meanwhile, those benefitting from the situation (the bug consumers who benefit from lower wholesale prices and do not pay the surcharge) are staying silent so as to avoid attracting attention (they failed - this quirk is likely to be corrected soon);

But what is not true is that wind has contributed in any meaningful way to retail price increases (most of Germany's wind capacity was installed before 2008 and the EEG component is all but invisible at that date), and not has offshore wind (which is indeed more expensive, but very little of which has been built to date). When you look at average costs, one sees that onshore wind is largely competitive on wholesale markets (and yes, that does take into account grid access and balancing costs - there is enough experience with large wind penetration in various networks to know that it can be done and that it has no meaningful impact on costs), that solar is already competitive against retail prices in many markets (the famous "grid parity"), and that other technologies are somewhere in-between. Offshore wind is still more expensive, but is expected to come down in price by the time it will reach significant capacity:

source: Goldman Sachs, via Zero Hedge

Note that these average costs of production, always include very political assumptions about the cost of money, and the future price of gas, to apply to such projects. The discount rate (at the time of investment) is the main driver of the cost of wind or nuclear whereas the cost of gas-fired power is only an estimate, based an assumptions about the cost of gas in the next 20 years. And that also means that the price of power from a wind farm or a nuclear plant is largely fixed and known once the plant is built, while the cost of power from a gas-fired plant in the future is essentially unknown. The cost of money is a fundamentally political decision (derived from investors' estimates of macro risks like inflation, of regulatory risks applying to the sector, and technology risk); the consensus on future gas price estimates is also influenced by many factors, including long term projections by public bodies like the IEA, the US EIA or private firms with their various agendas.

As an aside, the more renewables you have in the system, the less it is possible to take out the regulatory support regime, because spot prices tend to go towards zero - which makes investment in renewables (or in any other kind of power generation assets, for that matter) impossible. So "grid parity" is an illusory target, in a sense, because it is a moving target. Technologies with high variable costs (all fossil-fuel plants) cannot compete at any price when there is enough zero-marginal cost capacity in the system, and technologies with high upfront investment costs need comfort about price levels over a long period as they need such prices on a constant basis to amortize the initial investment. This is why the UK government is working on a "contract for differences" (essentially the same thing as a fixed tariff) for new nuclear plants.

:: ::

Altogether, the reality is that the consumers and the utilities is paying for a few expensive years of early solar PV technology (to the tune of a few cents per kWh, ie a few hundred euros per year and per household), and now the utilities are bearing almost in full the further impact on the system: they are no longer making (much) money on their current fleet - not on gas-fired plants, barely on their coal-fired plants, and they don't have much renewable energy capacity. They are stuck with a capital stock (including recent plants), which is increasingly uneconomic in today's markets, caught between high fuel prices and lower power prices. And that is the result of strategies over the past 10-15 years that willfully ignored policies to promote renewables pursued pretty consistently across Europe, and the likely impact they would have on power prices (the infamous "merit order effect" - which I discussed in detail at least 5 years ago, and which was already the topic of academic papers before that).

So it's not like they had no warning and no notice... In a sense, utilities have been consistent: one of their past arguments was that renewables would never reach critical mass and thus were not a serious solution to reduce carbon emissions. And they surely did not take recent investment decisions (mainly to build base-load or mid-load gas-fired plants) with the scenario of heavy renewable penetration in mind, otherwise they would not have been so surprised by the current situation...

:: ::

Utilities do make a legitimate point when they underline that the system still needs their capacity (because renewables are not available on demand, and do not provide the flexibility required in the very short term), and that this needs to be paid for (and, at some point in the future, existing capacity will need to be replaced, and they need to be able to make a business case for that, which is not possible today).

In the previous regime, where power prices were determined by gas prices, it was possible to pay for the flexibility in the form of price spikes that gave the right signal for mid-load and peaker gas-fired (or oil-fired, or hydro) plants to be used, and their frequency of use was relatively predictable over a year, allowing for a sound business model to be implemented. Now, with plenty of renewables, the price signal is completely different. There are many more periods of very low prices when renewables flood the system (and this is particularly the case in places with lots of solar, as it is available during the day, ie when demand is stronger and thus prices used to be higher). This has two consequences: gas-fired plants get much less use than in the past (and less than their business plans expected), and baseload plants like nukes or big coal-fired plants get lower prices during periods when they were cashing in more money. The latter earn less money (but still run); the former now run a lot less than expected , which has income implications but also consequences for gas consumption and storage - patterns of use become very different, moving from the usual "once a day" pattern (a few hour at peak demand times), to short bursts several times a day (as renewables drop out), or very long periods of use over multiple days when renewables are not available at all.

Given that the penetration of renewables will continue to change every year, it has become really hard to identify the business model to use for flexible plants - and even harder to know what it will be in 1, 5 or 10 years from now. These flexible plants will be needed, at least to some extent, and they need to be paid for, and that cannot really happen with today's regulatory regime (and as noted above, stopping support regimes for renewables won't change that now: the existing stock of wind and solar is already big enough in several countries to keep the current market arrangements broken). One solution, thankfully being considered in several markets, and which already exists in places like California, is to put in place a capacity market, where plants make themselves available for rapid changes in output, without actually producing anything most of the time, and get paid for that availability: ie a market for MW in addition to the market for MWh.

:: ::

The politics of this transition are messy. You can have articles saying (without any real argument) that "Too much green energy is bad for Britain at the very same time that you have record cold weather, with critical weakness in the gas supply infrastructure and wind actually coming to the rescue... (in the UK last March).

People are presenting capacity markets as another subsidy to renewables, whereas system security has always required a significant margin of unused capacity for safety: power demand varies from 1 to 2 or one to 3 every day, peaks can be more or less intense depending on weather, and even large plants can go offline on a scheduled or unscheduled basis. That safety margin was simply paid for in a different way, either by imposing capacity buffers on utilities, or through spot price peaks that were high enough to pay in a few hours for the peaker plants which are otherwise idle most of the time. There's naturally a lot of talk that policies to develop renewable have failed, being costly (only partly true, as shown above, and increasingly less so as time goes by), ineffective at reducing carbon emissions (not true, each MWh of renewable energy has, by and large, replaced a MWh generated previously by fossil fuel plants) and damaging to the system (obviously not the case). But the cat is out of the bag: once renewable energy reaches a critical mass, its impact on power systems is pretty much irreversible and no amount of lobbying by utilities is going to get them their previous business model back: wind turbines and solar panels are there and they will keep on cranking out zero-marginal-cost MWh for a very, very long time...

So utilities would be well advised to focus their lobbying on fixes to the system that actually solve problems (like capacity markets, or maybe new rules on grid access for "must-run plants), and to not cut the tree on which they are sitting (killing the support regime for offshore wind, the only sector in renewables which is "utility-scale" and where they have been able to take a leading share, and the only sector of the power sector where they can actually make money these days...)(I note here again, for full disclosure, that I work in the offshore wind sector and appreciate that this may sound rather self-interested).

The politics of power prices are rather volatile, and people have little sympathy for the big utilities, which are typically seen as profiteers anyway, so the focus on the high retail prices could end up damaging them more than it impacts renewable energy producers. Energy is a rather complex topic, not really suited for soundbites, and it is easy to confuse people or say outright lies without getting caught right away. But, by and large, Germans still support the Energiewende - both the move away from nuclear and the support for renewable energy - and are willing to pay for it. And for areas like Bremerhaven, all the manufacturing activity linked to wind and offshore wind is rather welcome.

:: ::

In summary:

  • Renewable energy is reaching the scale where it has an impact on the overall system; the effects are irreversible, and highly damaging to incumbents;
  • The net cost to get there has been relatively low, and largely paid for by utilities, which have constantly underestimated the ongoing changes, even as they were both (wrongly) dismissing them and (relatively ineffectively) fighting them;
  • there are legitimate worries about the way to maintain the fleet of flexible plants that was required in the past and will continue to be needed in the new paradigm, but can no longer pay its way under current market arrangements; the solution is not to fight renewables (it won't make the existing fleet go away) but to ensure that the right services (MW on demand) are properly remunerated;
  • the shale gas revolution will have a limited impact in this context (it had almost none in Europe, other than via some cheap coal exports from the US for a short period), and does not change the economics of gas-fired plants to the point that they can be competitive in a system dominated by renewable energy production capacity;
  • more generally, the future for gas suppliers is bleaker than for gas turbine manufacturers - there will be a need for a lot of gas-fired plants but they won't be burning a lot of gas (they will be selling MW rather than MWh);
  • overall, a future with high renewable penetration is not only possible but increasingly likely, and it's a good thing.

Part of the wind power series.

Wed 29 May, 2013

14:50 Colon Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments» LiveScience.com
Colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women, can be flat or look like a cauliflower stalk.

Mon 06 May, 2013

14:44 Amelia Earhart: Biography & Facts About Disappearance» LiveScience.com
Amelia Earhart's disappearance during an attempt to fly around the world remains a mystery, but recent expeditions may have found clues to her fate.

Tue 26 February, 2013

14:34 Hippo Facts» LiveScience.com
They may look slow and lumbering, but these amphibious beasts can be intimidating!

Thu 18 October, 2012

16:01 Spinosaurus: The Largest Carnivorous Dinosaur» LiveScience.com
Spinosaurus was even bigger than Giganotosaurus and Tyrannosaurus.