The future is on thin ice

The big story this week were those topless shots of Kate Middleton. Meanwhile, scientists studying the North Pole presented data indicating that the end of the world as we know it is imminent. Ho-hum:

Arctic sea ice has shrunk to its smallest surface area since record-keeping began, taking the world into “uncharted territory” as climate change intensifies, US scientists warned Wednesday.

Satellite images show the ice cap had melted to 1.32 million square miles (3.4 million square kilometers) as of September 16, the predicted lowest point for the year.

That’s the smallest Arctic ice cover since record-keeping began in 1979, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said.

“We are now in uncharted territory,” the center’s director, Mark Serreze, said, in a statement…

Scientists use Arctic sea ice extent as an indicator of what’s happening with the overall climate. Despite year-to-year fluctuations from natural weather variations, the ice cap has shown a clear trend towards shrinking over the last 30 years, the NSIDC center said…

“…Twenty years from now in August you might be able to take a ship right across the Arctic Ocean,” once blocked year-round by ice, said NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve.

Climate models predict “ice free conditions” before 2050, she added, but said the decline appears to be happening faster than predicted.

The NSIDC warned that increased heat and moisture from the melting Arctic ice cover could have global climate implications.

“This will gradually affect climate in the areas where we live,” he said. “We have a less polar pole — and so there will be more variations and extremes.”

Ryan’s plan to privatize Social Security and Medicare

In one of the books I read about the Reagan White House, there was an anecdote that, when the report issued by the Iran-contra investigation painted Reagan in a very, very bad light (even though he wasn’t indicted), it presented White House advisors with a real public relations problem. Their solution was to release an executive summary downplaying the findings, since they knew reporters are typically too lazy to read the entire report. (It worked.)

Which reminds me of this. A writer for America, the Catholic weekly, decided to transcribe the rest of Paul Ryan’s 2005 speech at the Atlas Society (which was conveniently shortened on their website), and guess what he came up with? Ryan’s stated objective to privatize Social Security and Medicare! Or, as Ryan put it, to convert them from “collectivism” to believers in a “capitalistic individualistic” philosophy. Gee, you have to wonder why the Atlas Society left that out of the transcript. Maybe because they love the idea of a sleeper agent in the White House?

This isn’t from a secret video, it’s from the untranscribed portion of Ryan’s 2005 speech at the Atlas Society’s “Celebration of Ayn Rand.”  It fits well with the Romney video because it makes clear that middle class entitlements, “so called defined benefit programs” such as Social Security and Medicare ARE an explicit strategic target because they are collectivistic, socialistic and foster dependency.

This is the event where Ryan stated that Rand was the “one thinker” who is the “reason I got involved in public service;” and that Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are “required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.”  Statements he would latter dismiss as “urban legends.”

The speech has been hidden in plain sight on the Atlas Society website, which offers only apartial transcript.  This omits several revealing passages that illuminate Ryan’s philosophy as it relates to policy priorities.

It is impossible to summarize these statements without sounding like a breathless conspiracy theorist.  Here’s what Ryan says.  Don’t trust my bullets.  Read the transcript.  Don’t trust my transcript, listen to the audio on the Atlas Society site.

  • Ryan describes Social Security and Medicare as “collectivist” and “socialistic.”

      • Ryan’s strategic plan:  privatize Social Security and Medicare in order to convert people from “collectivism” to believers in a “capitalistic individualistic” philosophy.  So that there will be “more people on our team” who “won’t listen to” Democrats.


      • Ryan’s acceptance of Pinochet’s Secretary of Social Security José Piñera’s similar program of Social Security privatization as a “moral revolution” that made Marxists into capitalists who started to read the Chilean equivalent of the Wall Street Journal.  Ryan is overheard, “Yeah”  “That’s right.”

    For Ryan “defined benefit” programs such as Social Security and Medicare are problems in themselves.  This isn’t something he saves for gatherings of the Ayn Rand Society, such concerns about “dependency” are scattered throughout his Path to Prosperity—again hidden in plain sight.  This transcript doesn’t so much reveal a secret, as highlight a clear theme in his policy rationale that is always present, but in more public settings subordinated to his prophecies of fiscal apocalypse.  Thus, it is no surprise his budget cuts the safety net and radically reshapes Medicare first and addresses the deficit later.

    In the published transcript Ryan states that like Rand, he views all political and policy questions as battles between individualism and collectivism.

    (2:38) In almost every fight we are involved in here, on Capitol Hill, whether it’s an amendment vote that I’ll take later on this afternoon, or a big piece of policy we’re putting through our Ways and Means Committee, it is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict: individualism vs. collectivism.

    This philosophy leaves no room for Catholic notions of Government in service to the common good, there is no room for a social conception of the human person.  Rejection of Rand’s atheism notwithstanding, Ryan’s policies are based on a political philosophy completely at odds with the principles of Catholic Social Doctrine.  “Prudence” is an insufficient measure of his proposals and the threat this philosophy poses to the Catholic faithful.

    I wonder who’s going to defend this. Hmm.

    Piggie of the Week: Mitt Romney

    Here’s our latest Piggie of the Week. It is none other than everyone’s favorite head of hair, the man who thinks Americans are not entitled to basic shelter and sustenance, the man who makes Montgomery Burns look like a philanthropist, the man who stole his entire schtick from M-m-m-m-m-Max Headroom, THE MAN WHO IS BETTER THAN YOU AND 47% OF THE REST OF THE COUNTRY: Willard “Mitt” Romney.

    …and boy does that cocksucker deserve it.

    Virtually Speaking Science

    Virtually Speaking Science – Wed., Sept 18 – 5pm eastern

    Tom Levenson – Filmmaker and Prof of Science Writing at MIT – talks
    with Maggie Koerth-Baker, Science Editor at and
    columnist for @nytmag. Maggie is the author of Before the Lights Go
    Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before it Conquers Us.

    Follow @maggiekb1 @TomLevenson @nytmag @BoingBoing



    Digby links to a piece by Felix Salmon about what blogging offers, and has this to say:

    Independent blogging isn’t very important anymore, if it ever was. But what it invented — culling and synthesizing disparate pieces of information, engaging in the conversation, adding value and passing it on — is still a necessary function. Indeed, I think it grew out of the natural human desire for people to gather together and talk about the world at large (as opposed to their immediate personal lives)and a need for someone they trust to put the vast amount of information available on the internet in some context. We live in a social media world now and the way information is being exchanged is redefined on a daily basis. Whether old country bloggers like me are the ones to “curate” it or professional journalists do it isn’t as important as the fact that somebody who understands how to hold this conversation in a way that engages people does it.

    Romney’s theory of the ‘taker’ class

    Ezra Klein:

    So notice what happened here: Republicans have become outraged over the predictable effect of tax cuts they passed and are using that outrage as the justification for an agenda that further cuts taxes on the rich and pays for it by cutting social services for the non-rich.

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