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October 31, 2012

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Could not agree more, Jon. Even here in the NW (been in Portland for 10 years after 18 in Arizona) we have seen wild weather swings in the past 90 days that defy other explanation. Record dry to apocalyptic early October heat and dessicating wind to insane amounts of rain. Looks like unseasonable warmth returns next week to cap it off. Every weather event can be dismissed as an anomaly, but all this? We also witnessed entire hillsides of dead and dying trees in Italy this summer -- finally unable to keep up with the heat and drought.

All truly frightening, particularly when we have two election whores arguing that they're the bigger "coal guy" than the other. Utterly disheartening.

The American public is not going to wake up to reality in time to save the planet, no matter what severe weather events continue to unfold. Civil disobedience is the only way to slow the criminal energy giants. Currently, the most important front is the blockade of the Keystone XL Pipeline in Texas. Tar Sands extraction as planned will result in catastrophe, and this must be stopped.

Fracking and the predicted massive increase in oil shale production in the US kills any possibility of serious action to reduce hydrocarbon consumption in the US.

The current alarmist mantra of cutting entitlements to avoid leaving massive debt to our children is another smoke and mirror slogan swallowed by the gullible electorate. And yet, the possibility of leaving a fried planet with terrible consequences is not a problem. This says a lot about the thought processes of Americans but I'm not sure exactly what other than it is not positive.

Emil probably can provide some studies but for me until recently I would never have thought that a hurricane could make it as far north as NYC to cause significant damage.

It is a NO VOTE for President Obama, who watched Americans die in benghazi, did NOTHING to try to prevent it, will NOT discuss their inaction, then flew to Vegas to party at the fund raiser with Boyance and Jay Z.. YUP..that's how he handles that "RED PHONE"

Self-awareness alert: Dress up those Fox News talking points a little better. Otherwise it's much too obvious, and hard to muster respect...

The Democratic Party in AZ remains "Republican-lite" to great extent. Kyrsten Sinema has a good shot at winning, but only after selling her soul (who IS she, anyway?). Greg Stanton, already gearing for a gubernatorial run, has a great PR team, but commitment to bringing a progressive vision to Phx? Oh no --But in the meantime, using the events of the small core of downtown urbanites for photo opportunities will do. Richard Carmona runs as an Independent -- downplaying his official standing as a "Democratic" candidate at every turn. Yes, internalized Demophobia runs deep and true in AZ. No meaningful discussion of climate change. No condemnation of Joe Arpaio by Democrats on the City Council despite the harm done to residents in his jails. No discussion of pervasive racism -- only acquiescence to the usual power brokers -- Colangelo, Grady Gammage, et al. Turf wars and lack of cohesion among progressive activists. Sigh.

jmav,
depends on what is considered "massive".
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9584
Fracking shale formations (not that new, has been done for decades) is just another frontier like Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. Like the rest of them, it too will peak out and decline.

"I would never have thought that a hurricane could make it as far north as NYC to cause significant damage." -jmav

The Great Hurricane of 1938
http://nation.time.com/2012/11/01/new-england-in-ruins-recalling-the-great-hurricane-of-38/photo/various/

The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, Hurricane Edna (1954), Carol (1954)...
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/outreach/history/

jmav, Hurricane Donna (1960) and Floyd (1999) are also of note. One thing different about Hurricane Sandy is how late into October it occurred. Hurricanes that make it to New England have historically taken place in late August and September.

Are you a denier, pSf? Surely not.

In the more than a century of the NYC subway system, this kind of damage has never been done. This kind of storm surge at the Battery has never been seen in recorded history.

Check this out:

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-01/its-global-warming-stupid#r=read

"Are you a denier, pSf?" -Rogue

Absolutely not.I noted the difference in the late season occurrence of Sandy. Which is very rare for N. Atlantic hurricanes; especially those that make it past the Mid-Atlantic states.

It should be noted, that no hurricane has made it as close to NYC as Sandy. Most remain off the coast of Long Island before slamming into New England. Or they remain south and hit the coast of New Jersey. However, with increasing hurricane activity in the Atlantic due to climate change (and more specifically, rising ocean temps), the chance of a hurricane hitting NYC straight-on increases tremendously.

Climate change won't be 'solved'. Everything that can be burned will be burned to preserve our comfort and economy.
Adaptation to the coming circumstances will be difficult unless some major event shocks people into action. This hurricane won't do it - the death toll is too low. Moreover, it would require competent governmental institutions, long-term planning, and a citizenry willing to invest the necessary resources to protect the 'common good'.
It happened for the Dutch in 1953 but they had been doing communal flood protection for centuries.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmcquaid/2012/10/30/a-dutch-solution-for-new-yorks-storm-surge-woes/

Absent a consensus what the actual problem is, what to protect and what the strategy is going to be, adaptation will be haphazard. "All against all." as Thomas Frank envisions. Some coastal regions will go under. In the case of Florida that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

AWinter, the Dutch originally settled NYC, formerly New Amsterdam, perhaps we can get them to invest in a solution...

Heh - when they settled, they apparently also imported a penchant for the "financial bubble" as well. :)

The Dutch would be happy to sell their expertise but why would they finance foreign projects? There is no profit to be made in preventing disasters. In the words of Dmitry Orlov: "The invisible hand of the free market, it turns out, is attached to an invisible idiot."

I was being sarcastic. If there is an American city capable of investing in its infrastructure, I would pick NYC.

But the Dutch do have significant interests in the NY Stock Exchange.

The deniers would be more accurately referred to as the scientifically illiterate, much like "pro-lifers" should actually be called anti-abortionists. And the other urgent issue that is too political to discuss is the 7 billion and counting overpopulation we have on the planet.

Good call annalisa.

In Arizona, everyone frets about education, healthcare etc. But no one is willing to take on the beast of the $1+ billion spent on prisons.

In the US, everyone frets about SS, Medicare, etc. But no one is willing to take on the beast of the $1+ trillion spent on Defense.

In the world, everyone frets about the middle east, China, climate, etc. But no one is willing to take on the beast of global over-population.

Looks like our problem is we don't have an Beastslayers.

jmav wrote:

"Emil probably can provide some studies but for me until recently I would never have thought that a hurricane could make it as far north as NYC to cause significant damage."

Sorry, but they go way back to the Middle Ages:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_York_hurricanes

Gotta love Wikipedia. I don't know of any other resource that has such specific yet detailed collections of data combined into one-stop-shopping articles. Of course, it's best viewed as a starting point for research, particularly insofar as content involves controversial subjects; but here's we're talking about the history of hurricanes in New York, which seems fairly cut-and-dried historically speaking.

The Wright House was purchased by an anonymous buyer and will preserve the house. That happened faster than I thought it would.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"It's astounding that the Republicans repeat over and over how "immoral" it is to pass along federal debt to, as Romney said, "our kids" (baby goats?)."

There is an astounding misunderstanding of the national debt. The most common of these involves taking the gross or total national debt and dividing by the population, to derive a dollar figure supposed "owed" by the current population, extrapolated into future generations.

I'll explain in a second why gross federal debt is the wrong measure to use. The main point now is to understand that the only real burden the national debt poses to future generations is the interest on the debt, which does eat into the annual budget insofar as it takes away funds that could be used for other purposes.

The reason for this is that the national debt (the real portion of it -- the portion owed to entities outside the federal government itself) is rather like a revolving credit account at a major corporation: it will never be paid back and is never expected to be paid back; it is only expected to grow as the profits of the company grow over time. In the case of the federal government, the national debt will never be paid off, but only grow, as the economy grows.

The important thing is that the national debt, as a percentage of GDP, be kept within reasonable bounds, so that interest payments on the debt do not increase beyond what tax collections can comfortably handle without cannibalizing other budget requirements.

In fiscal year 2011 net interest was $230 billion; by 2017 the Office of Management and Budget projects it at $565 billion; but the real burden imposed by interest payments depends upon the size of federal revenues as a whole, which in turn depends (among other things, such as tax policy) upon the size of the gross domestic product (GDP).

In FY 2011 net interest made up 6.4 percent of federal outlays; in 2017 it is projected at 12.5 percent of federal outlays. See Table 3.1:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals

That's a significant erosion of federal spending power, but it overwhelmingly stems from assumptions that interest rates will increase by 2017 rather than assumptions that federal debt to the public will increase as a percentage of GDP by 2017, not from assumptions about out of control increases in federal spending.

Federal debt held by the public is expected to be stable (not grow) from FY 2013 through 2022 at about 77 percent of GDP. See Table 5-1, "Long-run Budget Projections", and the section on the preceding page (58) titled "The Long-run Budget Challenge":

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2013/assets/econ_analyses.pdf

The expected growth in federal debt held by the public after 2022 is entirely resultant from demographic changes affecting Medicare and Social Security under current law, the lion's share of which involve Medicare and medical costs. Obviously, tax increases and/or benefit reductions or the extension of retirement age, or more fundamental reforms to the health care system (e.g., a single-payer system) can erase these expected increases.

Now, to explain why federal debt to the public rather than gross federal debt is the critical figure. Debt to the public includes only marketable Treasury debt held by non-U.S.-Government entities (including, arguably, the Federal Reserve System, whose holdings have increased vastly as a result of its "quantitative easing" programs -- an important point to consider since a significant portion of growth in the national debt comes from expanded Fed holdings; but unlike China, the Fed is a tame lapdog of the U.S. Government; on the other hand, if the Fed needs to "unwind" its holdings to meet inflationary pressures, some of its holdings will be sold to outside entities who may be less manageable; so inclusion of Fed-held debt in the category of "debt to the public" is arguably reasonable).

The inclusion of federal trust fund balances (such as those associated with Social Security and Medicare) in economic calculations involving debt, would make a lot of sense if those balances represented either money borrowed from taxpayers or else legally enforceable debts to future beneficiaries, but in fact neither is true.

If a federal trust fund such as these begins with a starting balance of zero, then collects a trillion dollars in payroll taxes while paying a trillion dollars in benefits, the ending balance is zero, not a trillion dollars. The only way to increase the fund balance is to tax current workers in excess of what is necessary to pay the benefits of current beneficiaries. (That's what Reagan and the Greenspan Commission engineered in a big way starting in 1983.) It is only the cash surplus that is recorded as an increase in the fund balance -- that plus the phony "interest" that the government pretends to pay itself on these accounts.

So, the trust fund balances represent, not a record of debt or even cash flow-through, but merely a record of overtaxation, plus some fairy-dust in the form of balance-leavening "interest" earnings. And since the federal government owns both the tax collections and the trust fund assets, and can unilaterally change the terms of future benefits, the fund balances don't represent promises to pay either, much less payment over some well-defined future budgetary window.

Projections of future social benefits under current law are no different than projections of future defense spending under current law, or projections of future federal spending from other parts of the budget under current law and given reasonable assumptions of future conditions.

Instead, conservative columnists like Robert Robb are pulling numbers out of the air (the trust fund balances) and calling them "debt", even though those balances are not a record of past borrowing, not a record of future debt, and not a source of funding for future obligations.

"The overarching political problem remains an ineffective Democratic Party. And, as with the nation, a progressive movement that can't match the narrative of the right."

The latter part of that statement explains the situation. They have the NRA, Religious Right, fossil fuel industry, neocons, Grover Norquist anti-tax cult, Fox News, Clear Channel Radio, etc. etc. behind them. In Arizona the state Republican party is constantly broke and in disarray. They couldn't win anything without a giant national wind at their back. Democrats don't have that and do have to rely on their state party infrastructure to win whatever seats they can. It's not even close to a fair fight. Diane is right that Dem electeds can often be self-serving and disappointing but the party itself is mainly comprised of volunteers who work very hard for free. They really don't deserve the scorn for losing elections.

P.S. The federal deficit as a percentage of GDP was 10.1 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2009; 9.0 percent in 2010; 8.7 percent in 2011; and in the fiscal year 2012 which just ended, while the Obama administration had earlier projected the deficit would be 8.5 percent of GDP, it actually came in at 7.0 percent.

I doubt that anyone would argue that this dramatic decrease in deficits as a percentage of GDP resulted from spending discipline. That leaves revenues.

From 2007 to 2009 (fiscal years) GDP decreased about 3.4 percent. However, federal revenues decreased about 19 percent over the same period, from $2.6 trillion in 2007 to $2.1 trillion in 2009; and that's in nominal dollars.

Furthermore, revenues still have not recovered to pre-recession (FY 2007) levels, even in nominal dollars; factor in inflation-adjusted real dollar amounts as well as the fact that over a normal four-year period revenues would have increased both in nominal and real dollars, and it becomes clear that revenues have been the lion's share of the deficit problem. (Increased outlays for unemployment benefits, food stamps, and Medicaid, which were strictly determined by the large increase in qualifying applicants as a result of the recession and its aftermath, as well as grants to states and other emergency spending, are the other major driver of Obama era deficits.)

This is not to say that spending discipline is completely absent. The government actually spend less in FY 2012 than in 2011. Treasury reports that "outlays for FY 2012 were $61 billion below those in FY 2011, a 1.7 percent decrease. The reduction in outlays can be attributed to the expiration or phase down of stimulus provisions, a stronger economy, and the end of military operations in Iraq and the continuing drawdown in Afghanistan."

http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1734.aspx

The same report shows that the Obama administration's February budget proposal expected outlays to be $258 billion higher than actual. Since the expiration/phase-down of stimulus provisions and the drawdown of military operations were known and predicted then, this suggests that the decrease in expected outlays came from a stronger than expected economy (and consequently from social-programmatic spending requirements that were lower than the administration's baseline projections).

The Office of Management and Budget projects the deficit as a percentage of GDP to fall to 3.9 percent od GDP by FY 2014 and to 3.0 percent of GDP by 2017. The annual average during the Reagan and G.H.W. Bush administrations was 4.2 percent of GDP. See Table 1.3, which also gives dollar amounts:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals

The Congressional Budget Office projects deficits over the 2014-2022 period to average 5 percent of GDP, under its Alternative Fiscal Scenario which covers the case where "many current policies are continued" (i.e., the fiscal cliff is avoided but Obama's income tax increase on the top 2 percent is thwarted).

http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43539

Note that a cut of the deficit from 10 percent of GDP to 5 percent of GDP is in fact "cutting the deficit in half".

Twenty years ago we finally nailed the tobacco industry for their lies and distortions.We still have a half million people dying annually from tobacco and the companies are still some of the largest and most profitable corps in the U.S,while continuing to spread their poison around the world.Global warming deniers have used the same lobbyists and the same tactics and I suspect we will suffer similar results by the time the the masses come to accept sane and accepted science.

Meanwhile,at least 47% believe the gov't caused the Great Recession and are ready to sign on for another Republican administration.Is it

a surprise they are buying the "great deficit monster"?

Krugman's latest, on the debt & the fallacy of "future generations."

On The Non-burden of Debt

" Kyrsten Sinema has a good shot at winning..." D'Angelo

She only has a good chance of winning in the Mormon state of Arizona because she was born a Mormon. Any other person with her background would have been politically assassinated long ago. Her true background colors will show as she feels the effect of Potomac fever.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the liquidity:

From the Wall Street Journal:

The massive "junk"-bond boom is raising alarm bells among some large money managers, who warn the market is showing signs of overheating.

So much money has flooded into the junk-bond market from yield-hungry investors that weaker and weaker companies are able to sell bonds, they say. Credit ratings of many borrowers are lower and debt levels are higher, making defaults more likely. And with yields near record lows, they add, investors aren't being compensated for that risk.

Also worrying money managers is that some new sales have similar hallmarks to those that preceded the financial crisis in 2008. Petco Animal Supplies Inc. and Emergency Medical Services Corp. recently offered to sell bonds that let them pay interest in the form of more bonds, instead of cash, a common provision before the crisis.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443493304578036840345366024.html

Email, we're talking about the storm, not the debt.

Besides, if someone owes you money and they have 50,000 nukes, how you gonna collect?

Reb. U R answer.

"the fate of every successful species is to wipe itself out"
Lynn Margulis

Praise the Lord !

I"m leaving in a few minutes and will be away from TV, Internet, telephone until Wednesday afternoon.

No more robo calls.
No more TV ads.
No more election.

It will all be over when I return.

C'mon, Reb... this is the fun part. :)

Reb: dont bother to return
as a plague will be on your house
a pox will have pounced upon your mouse.
But not to worry as the lift off is comin
well that is for you folks of the lord and the very wealthy. John Calvin and Joe Smith all wrapped up in one big shiny plastic barbie suit.

Regarding the Ohio vote and the low-information voter: a Jay Leno "survey" reportedly indicated that many folks thought Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife!

Actually Sodom and Gomorrah are two cops in New Orleans. They were recently featured in the movie, The Bad Lieutenant.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"Heaven forbid that we replace most cars and many planes with transit, trains and more efficient land use."

The bottom line: "Without the necessary policies to restrict car use and make it more expensive, American public transport is doomed to remain a marginal means of transport, used mainly by those who have no other choice."

That's from a study cited in a great little story comparing transit use in Germany versus America:

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/10/5-reasons-germans-ride-5-times-more-transit-americans/3510/

Highlights:

* In small metro areas, Germans ride at 18 times the rate of Americans (a 7 percent share to .4 percent.) In major cities the difference remains high: transit use is nearly six times greater for Germans.

* Roughly 88 percent of Germans live within a kilometer of a transit stop, compared to 43 percent of Americans. German fleets are modern, reliable, and well-integrated.

* German transit has what Buehler and Pucher call "full coordination of routes, schedules, and fares" in metro areas. That's partly because the country has regional transit organizations that manage bus-rail transfers to minimize wait time and distance.

* Unlike in the United States, where the federal gas tax has been stagnant since 1993, Germans pay very high fuel costs — with 60 percent going to taxes. (Sales tax on vehicles is also four times higher there.) And while American drivers fail to cover highway costs with user fees, with the Highway Trust Fund dipping into the general budget more every year, Germans cover 2.5 times government road expenditures through taxes.

* German planning laws encourage dense, mixed-use development more than American ones do. This facilitates transit use and concurrent transit development.

Of course, Germany is a much smaller country than the United States and, despite an extensive autobahn system and high rates of postwar automobilization, has far more motive to use space more efficiently.

That said, a completely different political history from that of the United States is also important. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) -- well to the left of anything available in the United States -- ran the country from 1966 to 1982 and built up the tax and transit policies which created a great deal of Germany's infrastructure. Post-SPD governments are less likely to show the hyper-conservative tendencies common in the United States because the political "middle ground" has traditionally been much further to the left.

Making cities friendly for walking and bicycling is arguably even more important than intra-city mass transit. The German transit participation rate of 7 percent in small metros is admirable but scarcely dominates personal travel; and expanding the United States' transit infrastructure and participation rates even to this point (much less to Russia's much more extensive transit infrastructure and commensurately higher participation rate) would be tremendously expensive. By contrast, making cities more walk/bicycle friendly is far more practical from a budgetary standpoint.

In 2009 National Geographic surveyed the residents of 17 countries about the mass transit usage habits.

Fully 71 of Germans reported walking or bicycling to destinations "all of the time" or "often" (45% and 26% in these categories, respectively). By comparison, 26 percent of Americans reported this (12% and 14% by category, respectively).

According to the same survey, only 18 percent of Americans report than mass transit is "easily available" to them, compared to 49 percent of Germans, 56 percent of Swedes, and 74 percent of Russians.

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/natgeo_surveys_countries_trans.html

Wow. This whole vote/don't-vote third-party/lesser-of-two-evils contention is just getting hotter. Ian just had a little meltdown and closed the comment thread with these words:

...Don’t let me get in the way of your self destruction.

This is why I hardly write any more, there’s no point in talking to most of you. The most left wing people in the US are a bunch of ostriches with their heads in the dirt.

You’re going to lose everything, including your abortion rights. Everything. You are going to have a straight up Russian style collapse, but worse.

And, based on your actions and your words, it’s what you want.

Ouch. Luckily, I had not yet weighed in on the conversation.... :)

It had been a pretty civil discussion thus far, too - certainly I've seen worse over there before.

Petro and Ian
Slaughter House Five

"Paul Penzone who would restore competence and decency to the Sheriff's Office."

This reminds me of the "Hope" that some thought would bring change with the election of Obama. How does the human psyche lend itself to the thought of a “savior”? I think it will be very difficult for Penzone to have a large impact on the culture built into MCSO. Particularly that culture built by Arpaio. Civil service rules will not let Penzone go deep enough in firing deranged bullies. And unless the legislature separates sheriff’s budgets from jail budgets there will always be the temptation to further a Sheriffs political career at the expense of un-convicted prisoners. And appointments of Sheriffs by County Supervisors from a list of persons recommended by a search committee would be preferable to election.

I repeat: They will cheat: From your local Pessimist.
This will be one of the largest cheating elections in US history.
It's the old pots and pans scam or the "buyers beware" philosophy. The right considers this election a war between the godly greedy and the godless. Godless, that would be U and that commie Obama. The right considers it their duty to God to do anything, that’s anything folks, to win the war for their god. It’s amazing how after over a hundred years of war between the Calvinists and the Smiths they have forged an alliance on behalf of the billionaires that fondly believe that they are right as their god favors kill or be killed. I guess there will be no riots in the streets and unlike the French we will not behead a queen.
Time for PHXSUNFAN to provide the blog a shot of Optimisms.


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