Sep 25 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #855


“After spending pretty much all of August and the beginning of September on vacation, House Republicans have decided that after 8 days back on the job, they’ve had enough.” — Jed Lewinson in Daily Kos 9/18/14

“So many times, Republicans are seen as this party of, ‘We don’t want black people to vote because they’re voting Democrat, we don’t want Hispanic people to vote because they’re voting Democrat.’ We wonder why the Republican Party is so small. Why don’t we be the party that’s for people voting, for voting rights?” — Sen. Rand Paul criticizing his own party for making it tougher for minorities to vote. 9/18/14


“7.3 million Obamacare enrollees had paid their premiums, or more than 90 percent of the 8 million people who President Obama said had enrolled in coverage. “– Top administration official Marilyn Tavenner 9/23/14

“He’s basically furniture in the Senate, and the people in Kansas know that. You could give the average Kansan 24 hours to come up with something Pat Roberts has done in the Senate, and after 24 hours, even the crickets would be standing there befuddled.” — GOP strategist John Weaver. 9/24/14

“There are two reasons why these anti-terror messages from Republicans are beginning to pop up on the campaign trail. The first: It’s embedded in the party’s DNA. Since the beginning of the Cold War, the GOP’s first instinct has always been to assert how it’s tougher and stronger on communism/terrorism than the Democratic Party is. And if you look at polling, the public responds almost as strongly in a positive direction to the GOP on these issues. (That polling and 60-year GOP history, ultimately, will be major problems for Rand Paul if he runs for president, but that’s a subject for another day.) The second reason: Republicans want to keep the midterms a nationalized election. And so when the national conversation turns away from health care and the economy to national security, the GOP’s TV ads and campaign messages will follow. Why do they want it nationalized? Take one look at the right track/wrong track poll numbers coupled with the president’s job rating. The more local this campaign is, the less likely the GOP wins the Senate or adds to their House majority.” — First Read 9/24/14



1. Colbert Report: Charles Krauthammer On Obama’s Mental State
2. The Dark-Money Apocalypse Is Upon Us
3. Mark Fiore: The Presidential Painsuit
4. Robert Reich – 7 Lies: Killing those zombie lies about the war on poverty
5. Democrat Votes To Kill Gun Reform, NRA Rewards Him By Spending $1.3 Million To Elect His Opponent
7. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)
8. Late Night Jokes for Dems
9. The Borowitz Report: Largest Climate-Change March in History Unlikely to Convince Idiots
10. 100 more GunFAILS
11. John Boehner Is Done Being Nice About The Unemployed
12. And Then There Were Four: The Senate Field Narrows
13. Virginia Republicans reject any and all suggestions to expand health coverage
14. Guantánamo Bay Is Crumbling Into Ruins


1. Ruben Navarrette: What California Would Look Like Without Illegal Immigrants
2. John McWhorter: Why the Right Thinks Obama’s a Narcissist—and Why They’re Wrong
3. Dana Milbank: Republicans gallop toward ground war in Syria and Iraq
4. Eleanor Clift: Square Deal, New Deal, and Now, From Hillary Clinton, a “Fair Shot”
5. Dean Obeidallah: How Long Can the Republicans Hide The Crazy?
6. Sally Kohn: The GOP’s Latest Attempt to Fool Women Won’t Work
7. Dan Balz: Texas has become epicenter of conservative movement
8. Ricken Patel: Why climate change is an ‘everybody issue’ now
9. Michael Tomasky: Obama’s Iraq Is Not Bush’s Iraq
10. Tim Dickinson: Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire


1. Colbert Report: Charles Krauthammer On Obama’s Mental State

2. The Dark-Money Apocalypse Is Upon Us

“A milestone passed in late August: According to the Center for Responsive Politics, dark-money groups–nonprofits created under the 501(c)(4) and (c)(6) sections of the US tax code–had by then surpassed $50 million on elections. These groups, unlike political action committees and candidates’ campaigns, do not have to disclose their donors. So some of the key players looking to sway election results remain in the shadows. This was a new record and seven times the amount of dark money spent by the same point on House and Senate elections in 2010. And this week, dark-money spending for the 2014 cycle reached $63 million–just shy of the $69 million in dark money spent during the entire 2008 presidential election.”

“Every politician knows that campaign season begins in earnest after Labor Day. If recent history is any guide, there is sure to be an unprecedented last-minute blitz of dark-money spending.”

3. Mark Fiore: The Presidential Painsuit

4. Robert Reich – 7 Lies: Killing those zombie lies about the war on poverty

5. Democrat Votes To Kill Gun Reform, NRA Rewards Him By Spending $1.3 Million To Elect His Opponent

Last year, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) voted against a popular proposal to require people who purchase firearms online or at gun shows first complete a background check. On Tuesday, however, the National Rifle Association announced a $1.3 million ad buy in Pryor’s home state of Arkansas supporting Pryor’s Republican opponent Rep. Tom Cotton.

If Pryor thought he could ward off opposition from a well-funded interest group by acting against the wishes of his voters, that notion has now been discredited. Pryor’s apparent reward for voting with the NRA on background checks is seven figures worth of spending seeking to turn Pryor out of office. 9/17/14 Read more at


I am honored to be named a “Champion of the Worker.” — Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), thanking the Competitive Enterprise Institute for his award. 9/17/14


Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) voting record on worker’s issues:

Paycheck Fairness Act: No
Minimum Wage Fairness Act: No
Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act: No
Employment Non-Discrimination Act: No
Just about every nomination President Obama has made in any way pertaining to labor policy: No


“Many of those clamoring for military action now are the same people who made every false assumption imaginable about the cost, challenge and purpose of the Iraq war. They have been so wrong for so long. Why should we listen to them again?” — Senator Rand Paul in June


“If I had been in President Obama’s shoes, I would have acted more decisively and strongly against ISIS.” — Senator Rand Paul today 


“So you think they shouldn’t be able to vote? Because I think they can.” — Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy (video) convinced that the city of New York’s new municipal ID program is really just a plot to enfranchise New York’s undocumented population. 9/19/14


“Although New York’s municipal ID will give the undocumented easier access to museums and zoos, it will categorically not grant them entry into the voting booth, regardless of what Steve Doocy may believe.” — Think Progress 9/19/14

7. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Limbaugh: “The Republican Party Is The Equivalent Of A Battered Wife”

Conservative Media Cooks Up Outlandish Claim That Obama Admin. Is Racially Profiling Gun Owners

Ingraham Suggests Migrant Children May Spread Drug “Resistant Forms Of TB” To “Public School Kids Across This Country”

Fox News Leaves Out Key Facts In Report On GA Voter Registration “Scandal”

Clinton “Fatigue” Syndrome: What The Press Gets Wrong About Hillary’s Popularity

Limbaugh Complains That Sexual Assault Gets Widespread Media Coverage While Attacks On Conservatives Get Little Attention

O’Reilly: “All The Things That Poor People Have” Proves America Doesn’t “Really Have Any Destitution Anymore”

Clinton “Fatigue” Syndrome: What The Press Gets Wrong About Hillary’s Popularity

A Fox Host Is Now Connecting The White House Fence Jumper To Benghazi

8. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“Problems for the NFL continue. Last week Nike suspended Ray Rice’s contract and today they suspended Adrian Peterson’s contract. So now Nike is down to Oscar Pistorius and Kim Jong Un.” –Conan O’Brien

“Bill Clinton gave a speech this weekend. He criticized Republicans for spending all their time dissing President Obama. But people from Iowa missed the rest of the speech because they were busy looking up the word ‘dissing.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“Hillary Clinton also gave a speech in Iowa. She fueled speculation that she’ll run for president when she admitted that she’s ‘thinking about it.’ And next week, she’ll be ‘thinking about it’ when she’s in New Hampshire before she spends a few days ‘thinking about it’ in Florida.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The U.N. delegates fan out across Manhattan to take advantage of diplomatic immunity. They do dangerous stuff just because they can, like get speeding tickets. They can even take pictures of Alec Baldwin.” –Craig Ferguson

“Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Iowa this week, three days after Hillary Clinton’s high-profile return to the state. He’ll spend two days there – one campaigning and another stuck in a corn maze.” –Jimmy Fallon

“In a recent interview, Texas Governor Rick Perry revealed that he has spent the last 20 months preparing to run for president. Then Hillary said, ‘Call me when you’ve spent 67 years.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“Mitt Romney we think is going run again. He says he has no plans to run, but he said if he did run, this time things would turn out differently. Yes they would. This time he would get his ass kicked by a woman.” –Bill Maher

“I always get excited when I come to Washington because I’m that typical tourist; I like to see the sh*t. There’s so many great historical sites: the lobby of The Willard hotel, where we got that name lobbyist, where they used to literally lobby; the tavern where John Adams used to drink; the Capitol where they used to pass laws.” –Bill Maher

“Sarah Palin’s whole family got into a drunken, public fistfight. Something police are calling a tragic case of trash on trash violence.” –Bill Maher

“Apparently it got very gnarly. The Palins, the whole family, showed up in a stretch hummer at this party and saw a guy who had broken up with Willow, and they all wanted to fight him. Bristol threw punches. Willow wailed on this guy. Todd had a bloody nose. Sarah was screaming, ‘Don’t you know who I am?!’ And Track tore off his shirt and was walking down the street giving everyone the finger. I have only one thing to say about this: ‘ISIS, do you really want to mess with this?'” –Bill Maher

“Forty-seven percent of Americans feel less safe than before 9/11. But enough about the NRA.” –Bill Maher

“The president went on TV and explained that our new operation against ISIS is not a war. War is what FOX News does to defend Christmas.” –Bill Maher

“Congress is now criticizing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for not acting swiftly enough. You know you’re slow if you’re being criticized by Congress for not acting swiftly enough.” –David Letterman

9. The Borowitz Report: Largest Climate-Change March in History Unlikely to Convince Idiots

A climate-change march that organizers claim was the largest on record is nevertheless unlikely to change the minds of idiots, a survey of America’s idiots reveals.

Despite bringing attention to a position that is embraced by more than ninety per cent of the world’s scientists, the People’s Climate March, which took place on Sunday in New York City, left a broad majority of the nation’s idiots unconvinced.

“Look, if hundreds of thousands of people want to march about something, it’s a free country,” said Carol Foyler, an idiot from Kenosha, Wisconsin. “But let me ask them something: if the climate is really getting warmer, why was it so cold up here last winter?”

Skepticism about scientists characterized many of the idiots’ remarks, including those of Tracy Klugian, of Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Those marchers are holding signs that say ‘Scientists this, scientists that,’ ” he said. “Well, how can scientists be sure that the Earth was colder thousands of years ago, when no one had invented a thermometer?”

Klugian said he was confident that, despite the impressive numbers for Sunday’s march, idiots would prevail in the ongoing climate-change debate. “At the end of the day, there are more people like us in Congress,” he said. Read more at

10. 100 more GunFAILS

Since mid-August TSA agents have discovered approximately 182 guns at airports around the country.

Between late July and mid-August 33 people accidentally shot themselves; 26 kids who were accidentally shot; 11 people accidentally shot into their neighbor’s homes or neighboring hotel rooms; eight people accidentally fired weapons they claimed to have been cleaning (which of course means they were still loaded at the time); 14 accidents ended in fatalities; 9 FAILs by law enforcement or security personnel; 15 people accidentally shot family members or significant others; 6 people FAILed with their guns while out shopping, dining or otherwise engaging in everyday business in public; 3 people shot others they mistook for intruders; 2 target shooting accidents, and; 2 people experienced the growing trend of bathroom GunFAIL Details and stories of special note are at

11. John Boehner Is Done Being Nice About The Unemployed

During a Thursday event to promote his own jobs plan, Boehner let his hair down by lamenting “this idea that has been born, maybe out of the economy over the last couple years, that you know, I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around. This is a very sick idea for our country.” 9/19/2014

12. And Then There Were Four: The Senate Field Narrows

If we assume that a candidates with a win probability greater than eighty per cent will probably win his or her election, only four uncertain races remain: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, and Arkansas. In each of these contests, the candidates are within two percentage points of one another. Power in the Senate will almost certainly depend on what happens in these states. — Sam Wang 9/23/14 Read more at

13. Virginia Republicans reject any and all suggestions to expand health coverage

The opposition of Virginia’s GOP lawmakers to any form of Medicaid expansion — under any conditions or timetable or permutation — has assumed its own convoluted logic. They are against using federal funds to insure poor Virginians mainly because the other side — namely, President Obama — is for it. 9/19/14 Read more at

14. Guantánamo Bay Is Crumbling Into Ruins

At a cost of $2.8 million per prisoner per year, Guantánamo is the most expensive prison in the world. (The costliest prison in the U.S., the Colorado Supermax, at $78,000 per prisoner per year.) And the costs will continue to rise as facilities that were built to be temporary, like the Camp America Dining Facility, deteriorate. In addition to the dining facility repairs, the 2015 defense budget also calls for $11.8 million to upgrade a medical clinic that was never built to serve an aging population of prisoners. Jessica Schulberg 9/21/14 Read more at


1. Ruben Navarrette: What California Would Look Like Without Illegal Immigrants

Illegal immigration has become a cash cow for California. A recent report by researchers at the USC, for example, says immigrants who are in California illegally make up nearly 10 percent of the state’s workers and contribute $130 billion annually to its gross domestic product.

Growing up in the rich farmland of Central California, I’ve known for sometime that the agriculture industry had become completely dependent on immigrant labor—some of it from legal immigrants, but much of it from the undocumented. And what an industry it is, producing more than $45 billion a year in revenue and supplying more than half the produce consumed in the United States.

The study found that the estimated 2.6 million immigrants who are living in California illegally account for as much as 38 percent of the agriculture industry. Farming insiders put the figure at over 50 percent. Illegal immigrants also constitute at least 14 percent of the construction industry. You’ll also find them well represented in the hospitality industry, landscaping industry, and just about every other line of work in the state that requires breaking a sweat.

Today, many Californians feel ambivalent about illegal immigration. They’re under no delusions about how dependent they’ve become on a phenomenon they used to decry. They don’t really believe that the kid making lattes at Starbucks, the one with all the body piercings, is going to rush out and pick plums in 100-degree heat. And, on the home front, they’ve probably figured out that—when they come home after dark, and the lawn is perfectly manicured—it’s not the work of elves.

But, as this study makes clear, if the Golden State didn’t have illegal immigrants, it would have to invent them. And if California’s industries suddenly had to rely on a completely legal workforce and couldn’t hire another undocumented person, many of them would be out of business.

\When the conversation turns to illegal immigrants, many Americans don’t want to accept the truth. And Californians are no different. That’s their prerogative. But they should at least be able to recognize it when it is staring them in the face. 9.18.14

2. John McWhorter: Why the Right Thinks Obama’s a Narcissist—and Why They’re Wrong

Charles Krauthammer has told Fox News that President Obama is a narcissist. And he should know, because once he was a psychologist.

His evidence? Obama apparently says “I” too much. He’s all into himself instead of the country he’s supposed to be running. “Count the number of times he uses ‘I’ in any speech, and compare that to any other president,” limns Doctor Krauthammer. “Remember when he announced the killing of Bin Laden? That speech I believe had 29 references to ‘I’—on my command, I ordered, as Commander-in-Chief I was then told, I this.”

But as linguist Mark Liberman notes at Language Log, the president used the word “I” exactly 10 times in that speech. Meanwhile, when Ronald Reagan made a speech in an analogous situation about Lebanon and Grenada, he used “I” exactly, um, 29 times. Yet to Krauthammer, who coined the term “Reagan Doctrine,” the Gipper was what a president is supposed to be. Why can’t Obama refer to himself as much as Reagan?

Kruathammer isn’t alone in bridling at our president’s referring to himself in public addresses. George Will has complained about this too, and yet the whole notion is complete BS. A useful example: Conservative writer Howard Portnoy claimed Obama was “I”-ing up the place ungraciously during his debates with Mitt Romney. In fact, in the first debate, Romney said “I” 227 times to Obama’s 122; in the second, 260 to Obama’s 176; and in the third, 198 times to Obama’s 108.

Clearly, it isn’t that Obama refers to himself to any notable degree. It’s that these pundits rankle inwardly when they hear the man saying “I”—because they deeply dislike him. Their innards seethe to see him expressing confidence, or otherwise reminding them that he, and not Mitt Romney, is the leader of the country. They want him down. They wish he’d go away. It’s ugly.

A basic fact will remain: The bias, whatever its components, is nauseating. 9/18/14 Read more at

3. Dana Milbank: Republicans gallop toward ground war in Syria and Iraq

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), three months ago said: “I don’t think we need boots on the ground. I don’t think that is an option worth consideration.” After Obama announced a no-boots-on-the-ground plan last week that sounded much like what Graham was asking for, Graham revised his view. “This idea we’ll never have any boots on the ground to defeat them in Syria is fantasy,” he said Sunday on TV.

The Republicans were almost unanimous in wanting a broader war than Obama outlined. Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), called it “foolhardy” for Obama to rule out ground troops. “There was a collective sigh of relief at ISIS headquarters in Syria when they heard him say that,” Inhofe alleged, using an acronym for the terrorist group.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) said she didn’t see how the air strikes could work “without the assistance of our trained special operators on the ground.”

Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.) said he didn’t think “five thousand trained in a year” would be sufficient. “I want us to win.”

And Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) offered his opinion that Iraqi troops would be “more emboldened and encouraged” if they had U.S. troops embedded with them.

Dempsey suggested that Jordanian or Emirati forces might do that job.

“Well, if we all had horses, we’d take a ride,” snapped Sessions. “We don’t have that.”

Ah, but we do. The Republican Party has quickly assembled a veritable cavalry brigade of warhorses. 9/16/14 Read more at

4. Eleanor Clift: Square Deal, New Deal, and Now, From Hillary Clinton, a “Fair Shot”

As Hillary Clinton spoke about women’s economic issues at a liberal think tank, you could practically hear her campaign taking shape.

A hush fell over the room as some of the most powerful women in the Democratic Party took their seats on a panel to discuss women’s economic security. Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate in waiting and first among equals, sketched out the challenges. Women hold two-thirds of minimum-wage jobs, she said, and three-quarters of the jobs that rely on tips, like waitresses, bartenders, hairstylists. In many states, the minimum wage for tipped workers is as low as $2.13 an hour.

Although a Census report released this week shows the poverty rate declined for the first time since 2006, Clinton said it also found that more women are likely to be impoverished even if they’re working. She urged a “fair shot” for women, and if you’ve been watching the PBS series on the Roosevelts, FDR’s New Deal, and TR’s Square Deal, you can begin to imagine Clinton’s campaign taking shape.

“We need a broader-based economic platform that is inclusive,” she said, a clunky way of fleshing out the fair shot she envisions for women, and indeed all Americans. She gives President Obama full credit for “stanching the bleeding” from the financial meltdown, but said, “Unless we change our politics, a lot of the benefits are not going to be broadly shared.”

Strong progressive leadership is within reach if women seize it at the ballot box. “What is our strategy?” Pelosi said. “We want women to vote.” That’s what politicians pay attention to, and that’s how to break the logjam in Congress. The measures these women are advocating will pass, Pelosi said. “It’s inevitable to us, [and] inconceivable to them,” referring to House Republicans. “We have to shorten the distance between inevitable and inconceivable.”

5. Dean Obeidallah: How Long Can the Republicans Hide The Crazy?

I have to give the Republicans credit for one thing in this election cycle. They’ve been able to keep their crazies quiet. But the big question is: Will some GOP crazy talk seep out between now November 4? In the words of Sarah Palin, I’d have to say, “You betcha.”

We’ve recently seen some glimmers of Republican lunacy. Just last week the Arizona State Republican Party’s vice-chair, Russell Pearce, offered this gem: “You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations.” Translation: forced sterilization of poor women to make sure they don’t have more babies. Pearce resigned on Sunday.

I think we are well positioned to see some of these candidates take a journey on the crazy train in the closing weeks of this election cycle. Why? Three reasons. First, the debates are coming up, and as we saw in 2012 with Mourdock, the more these people talk in an unscripted forum, the more likely the guano will ooze out.

So now it’s time sit back and let the games begin. I can almost guarantee you that in the final weeks of this campaign one of the above candidates will make headlines with some outrageous comment. For people like Hice, who is in a safe GOP district, it may not matter. But for those in tight races like Tillis and Ernst, one slip up could allow a Democratic candidate to be the Cinderella story of this year. And a few Akin-esque gaffes could actually help Democrats be bracket busters and retain control of the Senate and pick off a few governorships. 9.20.14

6. Sally Kohn: The GOP’s Latest Attempt to Fool Women Won’t Work

It sounds great—four GOP Senate candidates call for over-the-counter birth control access. But it’s all a stunt, and it won’t succeed.

Suddenly, Republicans like birth control. Or at least that’s the conclusion they would like you to draw based on a recent spate of GOP candidates announcing their support for making birth control pills available over the counter. But the truth is Republicans remain as committed as ever to restricting the reproductive freedom of poor and middle-class women while advancing the freedom of corporations.

There is clearly no upside for low-income and middle-class women in any Republican positions on reproductive health, there is an upside for one group: corporations. After all, if Republicans get oral contraception provided over-the-counter, even the insurance companies that were covering contraceptive costs before the Obamacare mandate will have a new excuse to stop doing so—reducing their bottom line by arguing that contraception is now like aspirin and insurance customarily doesn’t cover either. In turn, always happy to save money, corporate America will no doubt reward Republicans with loads of campaign cash.

Because much as the Hobby Lobby company was happily providing contraception coverage before it decided to object to the Obamacare mandate and file suit, no doubt many other companies have been providing contraceptive coverage for years and have only just recently started to resent it. And if Republicans can’t serve the interests of resentful corporations, well, who can they serve?

In the middle of this are women voters. Well, not exactly in the middle—women voters are decisively on the side of the party that respects their reproductive health, not to mention the party that stands up for equal wages, takes action to end violence against women, helps make college more affordable for families, and more. Women like these things. What we don’t like is condescension (see, ahem, this!) and deceit.

But funny thing, Republicans pull tricks like trying to look supportive of reproductive health care while they’re actually undermining it—because they’re condescending enough to think that women voters won’t know the difference. Yeah. These Republican candidates have taken such unpopular and extreme anti-abortion positions, like supporting fetal “personhood” measures and mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds, their only hope of winning over women voters is deception. I would tell you what a pathetic political strategy that is, but I wouldn’t want to be condescending too. 9.17.14

7. Dan Balz: Texas has become epicenter of conservative movement

In November, Texas voters could elect the most conservative ticket of statewide officials in the state’s history. Grass-roots activists are even more conservative, as evidenced by the state GOP platform that was produced earlier this summer.

A look at the party’s changing leadership shows how things have changed. In Washington, Cruz replaced former senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is a moderate conservative more in tune with the Bush wing of the party. Cruz is the darling of tea party and grass-roots conservative activists.

The state’s other senator, John Cornyn, is far from a firebrand in tone and temperament. On many issues, however, he may be as conservative as former Texas senator Phil Gramm. Still, he drew a primary challenge last spring (one he easily brushed off) because he didn’t satisfy the party’s hard-right faction.

In Austin, the biggest changing of the guard in statewide offices in years will take place after November, regardless of how individual races end.

Meanwhile, the question is to what extent the Texas brand of conservatism is exportable in a national election. Perry and Cruz both are both considered possible 2016 candidates. 9/20/14 Read more at

8. Ricken Patel: Why climate change is an ‘everybody issue’ now

Scientists are normally a pretty measured bunch. But in recent months, they’ve been resorting to some unusual language to get our attention. One top climatologist recently tweeted: “If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d.” When scientists start swearing in public, it is time for everyone to start worrying.

It’s not just the scientists that are raising the alarm. This Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets around the world in the largest climate mobilization in history. If they weren’t listening before, our leaders should tune in now. The voice of global concern for action on climate change is back, and this time it’s no longer an environmental issue, it’s an everybody issue.

And time is short. The world is rushing towards a series of potentially catastrophic feedback loops and tipping points in the climate system, which could see the support system of life itself irrecoverably disrupted. From the release of gigantic amounts of arctic methane gas, to the rapid carbon acidification of our oceans, to apocalyptic flooding, the continued warming of our planet is the greatest challenge our species has faced.

The stakes seem too gargantuan to grasp, but it’s this leap in consciousness that’s required for our survival. Our civilization is built on a fragile, delicately interdependent, and unsustainable relationship with the natural world. We can’t afford to underestimate the massive footprint that humans have on this planet. One quarter of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere came from our industries. Our oceans are acidifying 10 times faster than at any point in earth’s history. We are stretching the limits of this world.

In the final analysis, the question is whether we human beings are capable of being wise, farsighted, and unified enough to pass this test of survival. Many civilizations have fallen to the consequences of outstripping their environments. But our civilization is the first truly global one, with the power to end human life. One way or another, we may be the last civilization. For the sake of our children and their children, we must find the hope, wisdom and unity to save it. 9/21/14 Read more at

9. Michael Tomasky: Obama’s Iraq Is Not Bush’s Iraq

The first and most important difference, plainly and simply: Obama didn’t lie us into this war. It’s worth emphasizing this point, I think, during this week when Obama is at the United Nations trying to redouble international support to fight ISIS, and as we think back on Colin Powell’s infamous February 2003 snow job to Security Council. Obama didn’t tell us any nightmarish fairy tales about weapons of mass destruction that had already been destroyed or never existed. He didn’t trot his loyalists out there to tell fantastical stories about smoking guns and mushroom clouds.

The evidence for the nature of the threat posed by the Islamic State is, in contrast, as non-fabricated as evidence can be and was handed right to us by ISIS itself: the beheading videos, and spokesmen’s own statements from recruitment videos about the group’s goal being the establishment of a reactionary fundamentalist state over Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. That’s all quite real.

Difference number two: This war doesn’t involve 140,000 ground troops. That’s not just a debating point. It’s a massive, real-world difference. I know some of you are saying, well, not yet, anyway. Time could prove you right. But if this works more or less as planned, it establishes a new model for fighting terrorism in the Middle East—the United States and Arab nations and fighting forces working together to do battle against terrorism. That’s kind of a huge deal.

Which leads us to difference number three: This coalition, while still in its infancy, could in the end be a far more meaningful coalition than Bush’s. The Bush coalition was an ad hoc assemblage bribed or browbeaten into backing the United States’ immediate geopolitical aims. It was brought together pretty much so Bush could deflect the essentially true unilateralist charge and stand up there and say “41 countries have joined together” blah blah blah.

This war could end up being the disaster critics are predicting. But already, it’s not some other things. It’s not a morally dubious hegemonic enterprise built on a pile of lies. That may or may not give it a better chance of success, but at least it means we don’t have to be ashamed of what our country is doing. 9/24/14 Read more at

10. Tim Dickinson: Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire

The volume of Koch Industries’ toxic output is staggering. According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute, only three companies rank among the top 30 polluters of America’s air, water and climate: ExxonMobil, American Electric Power and Koch Industries. Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation’s waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined. The company ranks 13th in the nation for toxic air pollution. Koch’s climate pollution, meanwhile, outpaces oil giants including Valero, Chevron and Shell. Across its businesses, Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.

For Koch, this license to pollute amounts to a perverse, hidden subsidy. The cost is borne by communities in cities like Port Arthur, Texas, where a Koch-owned facility produces as much as 2 billion pounds of petrochemicals every year. In March, Koch signed a consent decree with the Department of Justice requiring it to spend more than $40 million to bring this plant into compliance with the Clean Air Act.

Koch has profited precisely by dumping billions of pounds of pollutants into our waters and skies – essentially for free. It racks up enormous profits from speculative trades lacking economic value that drive up costs for consumers and create risks for our economy.

The Koch brothers get richer as the costs of what Koch destroys are foisted on the rest of us – in the form of ill health, foul water and a climate crisis that threatens life as we know it on this planet. Now nearing 80 – owning a large chunk of the Alberta tar sands and using his billions to transform the modern Republican Party into a protection racket for Koch Industries’ profits – Charles Koch is not about to see the light. Nor does the CEO of one of America’s most toxic firms have any notion of slowing down. He has made it clear that he has no retirement plans: “I’m going to ride my bicycle till I fall off.” 9/24/14 Read more at


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