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Quote of the day

Economist Dean Baker on the Gang of Six and their plans to cut Social Security:

The elderly cost of living index that shows they experience a higher rate of inflation is an experimental index, not a full price index like the other indexes calculated by BLS. However, it could be a full index if the Gang of Six and the rest of Congress wanted it to be. In other words, if the Gang of Six is really interested in a more accurate cost of living adjustment for Social Security, they can propose legislation that would direct BLS to construct a full elderly index. This would let them know whether it is necessary to raise, lower, or leave along the annual cost of living adjustment, to ensure that Social Security checks keep pace with the cost of living.

However the Gang of Six shows no interest in going this route. The only possible conclusion is that the Gang of Six is scared of what a full elderly index might show. In short, the gang of six is scared of the information. They obviously have made the decision to cut Social Security and they are not going to let evidence stand in the way.

Oy:

Neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this debt, but both parties have a responsibility to come together and solve the problem. That’s what the American people expect of us. Every day, families are figuring out how to stretch their paychecks a little further, sacrifice what they can’t afford, and budget only for what’s truly important. It’s time for Washington to do the same.

Actually, one party IS fairly blameless here: there’s a reason they’re called the Bush tax cuts and the Bush wars. This false equivalence is a crock of shit, and the president knows it.

But what really annoys me is this whole “Washington needs to tighten its belt just like American families.” Bullshit: if you want to talk about the need to “budget for what’s truly important”, you need to jettison those tax cuts the President extended a few months ago, and invest in jobs. And THAT, my friend, means deficit spending, just sensible deficit spending.

American families, when they need something out of reach, ALWAYS spends beyond its means. That’s what a home equity loan is. That’s what credit cards are for. Sometimes this kind of deficit spending is stupid, like when a person uses a home equity loan to go on a big vacation. But often this kind of deficit spending is quite well-advised, like when I refinanced my house to make some repairs (improving the value of my home for resale) and to pay off some high-interest credit card debt (dramatically lowering the interest rate I was paying, and improving my cashflow).

But Obama wants to “go big” on a debt deal. But he had the chance to do that a few months ago, and instead knuckled under to the Republicans, extending the Bush tax cuts. You wanna go big? END THE WARS AND END THE TAX CUTS.

It’s a revenue problem, not a spending problem. And the president surely knows this.

Title IX

Marlo Thomas points out that the fight for funding girls’ sports is what eventually led to the amazing success for U.S. women’s soccer.

Can of worms

What could possibly go wrong with allowing unregulated, genetically-engineered grass onto the market?

Aww

Poor K Street!

I doubt

That the heat had anything to do with this, but you never know.

Heat of the moment

Asia:

Hot fun in the summertime

In keeping with today’s theme, I would just like to point out that at 60 years old, Daryl Hall is more of a hottie than ever. Here he is with Sharon Jones of the Dapkings:

Connecting the dots

Gee, I wonder why no one wants to talk about this?

The National Weather Service has made it official. It’s dangerously hot out there. At least 22 deaths have already been attributed to the heat wave, the New York Times reportedtoday. More are expected as much of the densely populated East Coast faces temperatures close to 100 degrees and a heat index over 105, the threshold for issuing an “excessive heat warming.” Especially dangerous is the fact that nighttime temperatures are staying very high—above 80 degrees in many areas—meaning vulnerable people (particularly the elderly) are unable to cool down and get relief from the stress of the daytime heat, as NRDC discussed last summer.

What the New York Times failed to do is connect the dots between this extreme heat wave and global warming. The story reported that Bismarck North Dakota reached a high of 95, but didn’t even ask the question of whether this excessive heat could somehow be related to excessive heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Would it have been that difficult or inappropriate to mention the fact that the concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide has increased by one-third primarily due to burning coal, oil, and natural gas?

Scientists are always cautious about attributing any specific extreme event to pollution-driven climate change, but new research is beginning to tease out how global warming contributes to extreme weather. We are not just loading the dice, we are upping the ante, or as Steve Sherwood puts it in an excellent three-part series published by Scientific American, “it is more like painting an extra spot on each face of one of the dice, so that it goes from 2 to 7 instead of 1 to 6. This increases the odds of rolling 11 or 12, but also makes it possible to roll 13.” In the same series, Deke Arndt of NOAA explains the link between climate and extreme weather this way: “Weather throws the punches, but climate trains the boxer.”

Extreme weather turns climate change from an abstract concept about remote events, such as melting ice and drowning polar bears, to a concrete, often calamitous, experience for many Americans. Unfortunately, despite the vast amount of air time and pixels devoted to covering heat waves, floods, storms, and wildfires in recent months, there has been very little discussion of the increasingly clear links to climate change. No wonder only about half of Americans understand that global warming is making heat waves, floods, droughts, and wildfires worse, according to the latest Six America’s survey.

Still no climate change

From Grist:

By now, most of us know last month was the busiest April ever for tornadic activity; with May hosting the deadliest single tornado on record, the whole country’s talking about the Fujita Scale, core bursting, and Helen Hunt like it’s 1996. For those who refuse to even talk about the links between twisters and climate change, Bill McKibben drops a dose of hot, buttery sarcasm in a valiant attempt to pull a few heads out of the sand over at the Washington Post.

Now NOAA offers up some raw data, cleanly and terrifyingly executed: In the following time-lapse animation, April’s tornado activity appears across the U.S. in spattery patterns of red. April really starts to look like a 300 outtake midway through the video. Check it:

April Tornadoes – NOAA from The Rachel Maddow Show on Vimeo.

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