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43 posts from September 2009

September 30, 2009

Hokum gets a public option

Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee voted down two amendments that would have added a public option to the committee's health reform bill. The committee also tacked on millions for discredited abstinence-only-until-opposite-marriage teaching.

On the bright side, maybe kids will start ditching church now that they get their nonsense free from the government, instead of at church where you have to throw in to the collection plate to hear the sermon.

September 28, 2009


Vic, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

CAMBRIDGE, MA. Jed and Nina's son Vic, age 1. DJA and I went to Boston last weekend to celebrate Travis's birthday and meet the Vickster.

September 25, 2009

Meth and anti-government extremism not mutually exclusive

Census-taker Bill Sparkman was found hanging from a tree in a cemetery with a noose around his neck and the word "Fed" scrawled on his chest. The authorities haven't determined whether the death was a homicide or a suicide.

Richard Benjamin asks whether Sparkman was a casualty of Methland, USA or a victim of anti-government bile. That's a false dichotomy.

If Sparkman was murdered, whoever killed him committed an act of political violence. It doesn't matter whether the killer was also trying to protect a drug operation. The perp took a page out of the old fashioned lynching playbook--stringing up the victim and defacing his corpse as a warning to others.

Clearly, whoever did this wanted to send a message. Someone who simply wanted to conceal a drug operation wouldn't dispose of the victim's body in such a spectacular fashion.

We tend to think of drug traffickers as non-ideological capitalists--but it's worth nothing that the drug trade funds militias and insurgencies all over the world.

Howard Dean Talks Budget Reconciliation (Video Exclusive)

By Lindsay Beyerstein

Last night, I quite unexpectedly scored an exclusive video interview with Howard Dean at the 92nd St YMCA where he was promoting his new book on health reform.

I asked him about the chances that Democrats will try to use budget reconciliation to pass a health care bill and thwart a filibuster. The conventional wisdom is that reconciliation is too risky. Dean begs to differ. Watch

September 24, 2009

Economist suggests reproducing our way out of climate change

Economist Casey Mulligan argues that population control is overrated as a solution to global warming:

The director-general of Unicef has been quoted as saying, “Family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race.” And one of the benefits of reduced population, it is claimed, is reduced carbon emissions and therefore mitigation of climate change.

This statement takes technology for granted, yet technology itself depends on population. [NYT]

Mulligan's argument goes like this: i) only innovation can save us from climate change, and ii) more people equals more innovation, iii) population control would result in fewer people, therefore population control is bad for climate change.

Mulligan's first premise is dubious. The consensus at yesterday's UN Summit on Climate Change was that we already know how to prevent climate change but lack the political will to act. But let's grant Mulligan his first premise for the sake of argument.

The second premise is where Mulligan's argument founders. A larger population doesn't automatically translate into greater innovation. The two are probably correlated: The more humans there are, the more likely one of them will be the next Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, or Norman Borlaug.

The real question, though, is whether a larger population would generate enough additional innovation to offset the extra resources required to sustain it. Mulligan gives us no reason to think so.

More importantly, the innovators of tomorrow need to be educated and nurtured. Yet the most explosive population growth is taking place in the world's poorest communities. When resources are very scarce, rapid population growth may stifle innovation.

Continue reading "Economist suggests reproducing our way out of climate change" »

September 23, 2009

Qadhafi Welcoming Committee


African-Americans for Qadhafi, outside the UN today.

So much for tort reform

Unnamed conservatives tell US News that they'll sue to stop health care reform.

Gaddafi demands UN probe of Kennedy assassination

Watching Col. Ghadaffi address the UN General Assembly. He just called on the UN to investigate the JFK investigation. He speculates that "Israeli" Jack Ruby killed Oswald because JFK wanted to investigate Israeli nuclear reactor.

If I heard right, he just predicted a man made "fish flu" sequel to swine flu. Tomorrow's conspiracy theories today!

September 22, 2009

Live from the UN Summit on Climate Change

Manhattan, NY.

By Lindsay Beyerstein

I'm posting from the UN Summit on Climate Change at UN HQ in New York. I'm wearing one of those special plastic translation earpieces.

World leaders are here to talk face-to-face before the big climate negotiations to be held in Copenhagen in December. President Obama is scheduled to address this morning's opening session.

The meeting is supposed to be an opportunity for all nations, from the richest emitters to the most vulnerable developing nations, to meet on neutral turf to discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

The one-day summit consists of public opening and closing sessions, separated by closed roundtable discussions among nearly 100 heads of state in attendance.

I'll be tweeting the proceedings. Follow me @beyerstein.

Secret Society on WNYC Sound Check

Secret Society performed live today for the popular WNYC radio show SoundCheck:

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society is an ensemble that straddles the boundaries of big-band jazz and contemporary classical music and yet sounds like neither. The group's debut album Infernal Machines evokes everything from Charles Mingus to Steve Reich. Bandleader Argue packs his 18-piece into the Soundcheck studio for a live performance. [Listen]