Tune in to the Professor Rex show. Topics today include winner and loser of the day, blog post of the day, Orlando, progressives in the legislature, DCCC and ALEC.
In honor of National Tax Day, I wanted to say a few things about taxes and the way conservatives talk about them. There is a series of arguments that conservatives make about taxes that couldn’t possibly be more false. Let’s take a look…
Taxes are too high: Taxes in the U.S. are among the lowest in the industrialized world. They are also the lowest they’ve been in 50 years. More importantly, everyone, no matter how much they pay, pays for only a fraction of what they take from government in terms of goods and services. The return on investment we get from taxes is remarkably high, much higher than the stock market.
American corporations pay taxes that are too high: Only about 10 percent of all U.S. income taxes are paid by corporations, the lowest proportion in many, many years. Corporate profits, meanwhile, are at record highs. While there is an on-paper tax rate for corporations that is comparatively high, few corporations actually pay it, so the number is meaningless. Many of the richest corporations pay no taxes at all. Some get more money back from the government than they pay in taxes in direct numbers.
Progressives only want to tax the rich because they are jealous: No, progressives want to tax the rich because the rich use a lot more in government resources than the poor. A few examples… When our troops are defending the country, whose property are they defending? Poor people don’t have much property. When government air traffic controllers protect air passengers, how many poor people are they keeping safe? In terms of roads, who travels more, the rich or the poor? And how many poor people have investments in corporations that tear up highways through the use of big rigs? There are literally hundreds of other examples.
Half of all Americans pay no taxes: Half of all Americans pay no federal income tax. And that is temporary and the number only got that high because of the child tax credit Republicans passed. All Americans pay taxes, though, including Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, sales taxes, gas taxes and numerous other taxes. Keep in mind that the income tax only covers 50 percent of federal revenue.
Cutting taxes helps the economy: Our highest income tax rates in history are associated with the post-WWII era, where rates were the highest and we experienced the greatest economic expansion in the history of the world. Reagan raised taxes and the economy got better. Clinton raised taxes and the economy expanded for more years in a row than it ever had before.
It’s “our” money, not the government’s money: Again, nobody pays as much in taxes as they take in government services. For instance, think of the road you drive to work. Unless you are really rich, your lifetime tax total wouldn’t pay for that one road, much less all the other roads, schools, parks, fire fighters, cops, troops, prisons and thousands upon thousands of other things that benefit taxpayers.
Taxes are theft: In addition to the fact that this has explicitly been rejected by the Supreme Court and that taxes, including the income tax, are explicitly authorized by the Constitution, there is the simple fact — mentioned above — that every single taxpayer takes more from the government than they give to the government. It’s like going to Walmart, taking $1000 dollars of merchandise, giving them $100 dollars and then claiming that they stole your $100.
The top 1 percent pays 40 percent of all taxes: We do not tax people, we tax income. The reason the top 1 percent pays 40 percent of all taxes (or whatever the exact numbers are) is that they have that percentage of the income. Again, the more wealthy you are, the more government services and goods you use. In order to make people pay their fair share, we tax them according to their use of government resources.
Winner: David Rivera — Well, he won’t be charged for being unethical or criminal, but hopefully he’ll still end up unemployed in January.
Being loose with the facts is to be expected from the man who called himself the “jobs governor,” then began that political career cutting jobs rather than creating them. Depends on your definition of “jobs” and “education” I guess.
Also not mentioned, the veto list for this year. Last year, as you’ll recall Scott boasted about his veto list and celebrated the signing ceremony saying “It’s going to be fun!” and proceeded to sign with his custom made red Rick Scott Sharpies that he later handed out as souvenirs.
This year it’s a less festive, quiet affair, and rightfully so. As you can see, the $142 million veto list (.pdf here) is loaded with even more cuts to education and health care among other items.
Scott also approved a 5 percent increase in university tuition after months of warning that he would accept no increase in cost-of-living for Floridians.
No, all the big money this year was in tax breaks for Florida corporations…..or, excuse me, the “job creators.”
Nice work if you can get it. Oh, wait….
“Women ask Floridians to Unite to Support Women at Rally in Tallahassee April 28th on Old Capitol Steps”
Tallahassee, Florida – Wakulla resident Diane Wilson announced today that she has been building a quiet revolution from her rural Forgotten Coast home in Panacea. Wilson said, “After watching close to two years of increased attacks on women’s rights in Florida and in Congress, I decided it was time to take a stand. We’re asking Floridians to stand with women on April 28th – the revolution will be quiet no more.”
Wilson and organizers across Florida have joined national efforts initiated by Karen Teegarden in Michigan to schedule events in Tallahassee, Orlando, and Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday, April 28th. The Tallahassee “We Are Women” rally will be held from 12 to 2 pm on the steps of the Old Capitol Museum. Rallies will be held in all 50 states, mainly at state capitols.
Scheduled speakers at the Tallahassee event include the following confirmed participants:
Emily Caponetti, Alma Gonzalez, Rev. Della Fahnestock, LisaAnn Benham, Amanda James, Samantha Gordon, Donna Slutiak, Rachel Sutz Pienta, Susan Smith, Tabitha Frazier, Jessica Lowe-Minor, Ion Sancho, Amy Coenen, Anita Davis, Mayor John Marks, Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum, Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, and Nancy Argenziano.
Tallahassee rally partners include Planned Parenthood, NARAL, AFSCME, American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Florida, Florida NOW, League of Women Voters of Florida, Democratic Women’s Club of Florida, Democratic Progressive Caucus, Leon County Hispanic Caucus, and National Women’s Liberation.
Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho and his staff will be on hand during the rally to register voters.
For additional information, please visit unitewomen.org .
Winner: Allen West — He’s raising a lot of money (likely too much of it from out of state). Will it be enough to overcome his extremism? Probably not.
Loser: Brian Beckmann — Actually, Brian, public officials aren’t allowed to be racist. If they are, they are failing to fulfill the duties of their job and should be removed.
But is there really that much turkey in state government? Or is it actually just the difference between Publix brand and Boar’s Head.
This year, TaxWatch identified 159 projects totaling almost $170 million. Out of a $70 billion budget.
By my math, that’s .24 percent.
Of course, the budget hawks will say that unless that percent is at absolute zero, there’s waste, maybe even corruption (!), in state government.
But what’s a little turkey grease in a budget of $70 billion?
There are 160 legislators. Carve up that $170 million in budget turkeys among them and what does that work out to? A million per, right?
Believe it or not, but state government would operate a lot better if each legislator got to bring home $1 million in bacon without it being accused of tasting like turkey.
Vetoing these budget turkeys is no different than the gift ban or term limits. It sounds all well and good at first, but it actually makes the political system unmanageable, if not toxic.
Tune in at Blog Talk Radio to hear about today’s winner and loser of the day, blog post of the day, fund raising numbers, budget turkeys, Charlie Crist, progressive values, Rick Scott and the Tampa Bay Times.
Winner: Karen Castor-Dentel — A strong challenger for Scott Plakon is a good thing to see.
Loser: Vern Buchanan — In addition to his legal and ethical troubles, his opponent Keith Fitzgerald is raising good money.
Back in 1992, I was the Vice President of the Central Florida Young Democrats. At the time, I was quite ambitious. I was only 18-years old and surrounded by people who were in their mid-20s and early-30s. The idea that some young kid would go into their organization (even though I had already been in there for about six months, and very active as well) and become VP, honestly, shocked me. And, on top of that, I was unopposed. Being part of the Central Florida Young Democrats in the early-90s is a very special, and important, part of my political life.
In mid-1992, like every Democratic organization, we had people visiting our group, especially candidates. Of course, they wanted the usual support and whatnot. I even went there and begged that people donate to Buddy Dyer’s State Senate campaign. I was quite surprised how well begging worked.
One of the candidates that came to visit us was a young Mike Horner, who was running in a seat located in Seminole County. The day that he attended our meeting, he was surrounded by a group of about 20 young kids from Lake Mary High School. He said he was the candidate of the future. He told us how he was a true liberal and how he supported many liberal causes. He told us how his mother was a teacher and that he supported the teacher’s union and opposed any privatization of public school. He made himself come across as a good liberal.
The Young Turks:
Via Pink Slip Rick:
Janet H. Adkins
Dennis K. Baxley
Jason T. Brodeur
Douglas Vaughn Broxson
Rachel V. Burgin
Matt H. Caldwell
Fred W. Costello
Jose Felix Diaz
Jim C. Frishe
Gayle B. Harrell
Ana Rivas Logan
Jeanette M. Nunez
H. Marlene O’Toole
Jose R. Olivia
W. Keith Perry
Elizabeth W. Porter
Stephen L. Precourt
Ronald “Doc” Renuart
Patrick Rooney Jr.
Jimmie T. Smith
William D. Snyder
Charles Van Zant
Trudi K. Williams
Dana D. Young
Stephen R. Wise
These legislators voted with Rick Scott’s agenda 100 percent of the time. 56 of them are repeat offenders from 2011.
Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland
Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa
Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise
Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs, D-Delray
Sen. Chris Smith, D-Oakland Park
Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington
Rep. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach
Rep. Mack Bernard, D-West Palm Beach
Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami
Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth
Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa
Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach
Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville
Rep. Martin “Marty” Kiar, D-Davie
Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg
Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach
Rep. Steve Perman, D-Boca Raton
Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando
Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee
Rep. Franklin Sands, D-Weston
Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West
Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood
Rep. Irving “Irv” Slosberg, D-Boca Raton
Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami
Rep. Dwayne L. Taylor, D-Daytona Beach
Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale
Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens
These legislators voted 100 percent the right way on the following bills:
Anti-Middle Class Budget, HB 5001: Gov. Scott’s anti-middle class budget continues to dramatically underfund Florida’s public schools, cuts hundreds of millions from health care for our children, seniors, and the disabled, and costs thousands of jobs. Meanwhile, the budget creates more than $100 million in new special interest tax giveaways.
Prison Privatization, SB 2038: Private prison contractors heavily contributed to the campaign coffers of anti-middle class legislators and they were ready to cash in with a massive scheme to privatize all state prisons in south Florida. Fortunately our middle class champions stood up and despite overwhelming odds, defeated this potential boondoggle that would have cost thousands of jobs.
Unfair Foreclosure Act, HB 213: Foreclosures are a real problem in Florida, mostly because big banks don’t have the proper paperwork to foreclose on a property. Anti-middle class legislators introduced this bill to speed up foreclosures and give the banks unprecedented control over the process instead of actually fixing the problem.
Parent Trigger, SB 1718/HB 1191: Anti-public school extremists pushed a “parent trigger” bill that would’ve allowed public schools to be turned over to unaccountable, private charter school operators. The Florida PTA along with almost every parent group in the state opposed this insidious attack on public education.
Attack On Women’s Health, HB 277: Anti-middle class extremists continued their long-running war on women by introducing their Omnibus Anti-Choice Act, which attempted to create a host of new barriers and restrictions to women’s access to reproductive health care.
Intrusive Drug Testing, HB 1205/SB 1358: Last year, a federal judge suspended Gov. Scott’s plan to drug test all Floridians who apply for public assistance. This year, despite urgings to stop wasting taxpayer dollars trying to defend a clearly unconstitutional law, Scott’s anti-middle class allies worked to pass a new, intrusive drug testing regime though the Legislature.
Gerrymandered Redistricting Maps, SJR 1176, SB 1174: Despite 63% of Florida voters approving the Fair Districts Amendments in the 2010 election, anti-middle class legislators went to work trying to side-step or undermine the spirit of Fair Districts. Middle class champions fought hard against another decade’s worth of gerrymandered, unfair districts designed solely to protect incumbent politicians.
Wage Thief Protection Act, HB 609/SB 862: The Wage Thief Protection Act would have eliminated a successful Miami-Dade County program that prevents employers from stealing the wages that you have earned. The act would have prohibited counties from adopting ordinances to successfully fight wage theft by saying only the state could regulate wage theft. Of course, there is no plan for the state to take action and combat wage theft, which robs $60-90 million from Floridians’ paychecks every year.
Insurance Industry Bailout, HB 119: The “PIP bill” reduced the level of personal injury protection insurance available to Floridians who are involved in a car accident from $10,000 to only $2,500 unless you meet certain conditions. There is no guarantee that insurance rates will actually decrease for consumers. This was a top priority of insurance industry lobbyists, but not middle class families.
Spotlighting good and bad uses of media, PR and social networking among politicians…
Good politics: Patrick Murphy — Hitting Allen West’s communist remarks quick and hard (via e-mail):
At a town hall meeting yesterday in Palm City, Rep. Allen West (R) told a crowd of constituents that he believes between 78 and 81 U.S. House Democrats are members of the Communist Party, although he wouldn’t name names. The story was reported by local news site TCPalm on Tuesday evening.
“West’s attempts at 21st-century McCarthyism are not only counter-productive towards the work that must be done in Congress, but further prove his complete lack of seriousness and responsibility,” remarked Jupiter Democrat Patrick Murphy, a CPA and small businessman running in the newly drawn 18th congressional district against West. “This is a deplorable, outrageous statement. The last time a member of Congress made a similarly disturbing statement, he was censured by Congress. Allen West deserves no less now.”
West’s comments follow remarks he made in December that Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels would “be very proud” of the Democratic Party, and a January speech in which he said Democrats should “get the hell out” of the United States.
Bad politics: Rick Scott’s staff — Using a doctored image of the Miami Herald to push your bad policies is a bad policy.
Bad politics: Connie Mack — The “coke monkeys” ad is just plain stupid. The Republican tactic of pulling out obscure research grants and portraying them as the biggest waste of money ever is dishonest and hypocritical, particularly for people who support illegal wars and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Bad politics: Rick Scott — Touting the new $1 billion in education spending that you signed into law means a lot more if you didn’t cut $1.3 billion the year before. Schools are losing ground under Rick Scott budgets.
Good politics: Pink Slip Rick — Matching up the Pink Slip Puppets with Rick Scott’s crazy face and providing contact info is a good hit.
Good politics: Middle Class Champions — Always good to know who your friends are, even in the legislature.
Winner: Bill Nelson — Doing very well in the fundraising area, and he’ll need it.
Loser: Allen West — Channeling Joe McCarthy is not a good strategy for helping Florida or America.
Florida Congressman Allen West, who defeated Congressman Ron Klein in 2010, and went on a rampage against Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, head of the Democratic National Committee, insulting her in the most despicable terms, is running for a new term in a newly created Congressional district in Northern Palm Beach County, as well as Martin and St Lucie Counties further north.
Holding a town meeting, the former Army Lieutenant Colonel, forced out of the military for his inappropriate behavior against an Iraqi detainee in 2003, went off the deep end literally, accusing 80 members of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives of being “Communists”, bringing back the ugly reminder of Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy, who ran rampant from February 1950 to December 1954, accusing everyone under the sun of being a Communist or sympathetic toward Communism, promoting the Red Scare, and in so doing, undermining the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations for nearly five years, until he was finally censured for his misbehavior after nearly five years of demagoguery!
Allen West is a literal wingnut, a whacko, a mentally ill person who has had undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and is behaving in a dangerous, aggressive manner, which requires complete denunciation by the House leadership of Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, as well as GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney!
But will this happen? Of course NOT, and the conservative radio talk show hosts and Fox News Channel will take advantage of his irresponsibility to spread the conspiracy theory and try to connect it to Barack Obama as well!
The lunatic fringe of the party is backing Allen West as a possible Vice Presidential nominee, with Sarah Palin and Herman Cain endorsing West for VP. Is there a need to say anything after that statement, that these two leading examples of totally unqualified political leaders would endorse someone just as dangerous and reckless as they are?
New show, currently 15 min., running Monday through Friday at 5 p.m.
The Professor Rex Show, listen to the first episode at http://tobtr.com/s/3120889.
Note: This endorsement is specifically the endorsement of Kenneth Quinnell and is not meant to be the endorsement of any of the other members of Florida Progressive Coalition
This won’t come as a major surprise, but I am endorsing Barack Obama for president.
First let me tell you what that DOESN’T mean. It doesn’t mean I think Obama has been a fully successful president. It doesn’t mean that I agree with everything he’s done. It doesn’t mean I endorse everything he’s done. It doesn’t mean that I love or worship him. It doesn’t mean that I don’t think he could’ve done better.
To put this in context, if I’m going to a wedding and they offer me chicken or fish as my meal options and I prefer steak, I’m not rejecting steak or saying that chicken is the best thing in the world by requesting chicken. I’m saying that, of my options, chicken is the best. And if I don’t choose one, I’m not going to be able to eat. Obama’s my chicken.
What it does mean is that, with the choice we have to make, Obama is our best option. I have a newspaper from inauguration day 2009. The headline says “Hope over Fear.” In 2008, I was all about the hope. I wrote more posts fighting against McCain than any other blogger in Florida. I was at the convention. I was in the stadium (11th row) when he gave his acceptance speech. I was at inauguration. Obama had given me more hope than any presidential candidate in my life.
And I didn’t have the false hopes for him that many others did. While I was hopeful for positive change, I knew that he was iffy on some issues and flat-out wrong on others. When FPC endorsed John Edwards in the Democratic primary it was because his policies were more progressive than Obama’s (lets not get into his personal failings). I knew he wasn’t supportive of gay marriage. I knew he was going to increase troop levels in Afghanistan. A number of other issues gave me problems as well. So I knew all about that. But he was right on most of the issues. And after eight years of George W. Bush, he was something else, he was competent. His ability to take out Hillary Clinton in the primaries proved that.
This time around, though, I’m choosing more out of the fear emotion than the hope. I will say that Obama has disappointed me on a number of issues and his ability to maneuver the system and willingness to fight for important things has not impressed me. He had the chance to be a transformative president and he either failed at that or chose not to do that.
That being said, I’m not now, nor will I ever be a litmus test voter. There are problems with Obama, but the choice I make is a realistic one. In January 2013, either Barack Obama will be president or Mitt Romney will be. There are no other possibilities, barring an untimely death to one of those two. And while I agree that things haven’t progressed as much as they could’ve or should’ve under Obama, they have progressed some. In some areas, they’ve progressed a lot. If Romney wins, things will not only not continue to progress, they will regress. And they’ll do it at a time that is of vital importance for the country. Our economy and our general state of being is pretty iffy these days. A Romney victory would guarantee that tenuous state would collapse. And some of the things that Romney says are literally crazy. He isn’t as crazy as his primary opponents, but he’s more dangerous, because he could actually become president. Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul will never be president, so their craziness isn’t particularly relevant. Romney’s is.
And, of course, Obama has done a lot of things I like and agree with.
So, in the presidential election of 2012, I think the best option, by far, is President Barack Obama and I encourage all Floridians to vote for him.
More endorsements will come later, particularly after district lines are figured out.
Winner: Restaurant workers — Finally getting what they earned. And maybe this order will discourage other restaurants from engaging in the same illegal behavior.
Loser: Florida Democratic Party — Raising less than half the money the Republican Party raised is NOT the way to move the state in the right direction.
Why? Here are but five reasons.
“I think you’re seeing right now the most conservative Senate … in your history,” is what Haridopolos promised, thereby needlessly raising expectations for Republicans, while scaring the pants off the rest of the state.
Yet, Haridopolos failed to deliver, thwarted by a band of Republican moderates who were likely offended by the Senate Presidents saber rattling.
Just as there is no crying in baseball, tears should not be shed by the Senate President during the last day of 2011 session (unless its a benediction to your wife and family). Yet, there was Mike Haridopolos on the verge of tears before and after he gaveled the Senate to adjournment.
Asked that March how he would like to be judged as Senate President, Haridopolos said “I think I’ll be judged on how I do my current job. My job is to be the spokesman and keep the trains running on time.”
The trains most certainly did not run on time.
The other meltdown
Yet as Caputo observed, Haridopolos should have known that he couldn’t juggle both jobs. He emphasized that very point in an electronic book he published this year under the title Florida Legislative History & Processes.
“Perhaps the most critical personal lesson that campaigning has taught me is this:,” he wrote, “a campaign cannot be compartmentalized.” Haridopolos repeating that last line in the book.
Haridopolos beget JD Alexander
If Haridopolos is the worst Senate President of the modern Republican era, what can you say about some of those who served as his deputies?
Most heinous of all of them — Mike Bennett and John Thrasher are otherwise good men who have suffered two of the worst years of their respective political careers — is JD Alexander, who essentially held the entire Legislature, if not the entire state government, hostage this past session. Well, JD Alexander is not in a position to do this without Mike Haridopolos enabling him.
The rejection by the Supreme Court of the Florida Senate’s redistricting plan lies mostly to blame on Don Gaetz’ shoulders, but, Haridopolos deserves his share of blame for the manner by which the Senate has conducted itself throughout the entire redistricting process.
Although I do quibble with the idea that John Thrasher is a good man.
Winner: Rick Scott — As much as it pains me to say this, I have to give credit where credit is due. Rick Scott vetoed or signed three bills that I agree with today (Anti-Shackling bill, Crazy Wildlife bill, and Vaccine Access Act), maybe the first three things he’s done that I agree with. Don’t expect it to happen again any time soon.
Loser: Floridians — Dave Aronberg is raising massive sums for a state attorney’s race. And while that’s an important job, the state would be better off with Aronberg in a more significant role.
(Updated for accuracy)
In response to a blog post — a freakin’ blog post — Connie Mack’s campaign manager picked a fight with those who buy ink by the barrel, responding to a headline that read ‘Mack Campaign: Why We Will Squash LeMieux Like a Bug’ by blasting the Tampa Bay Times.
“(F)or the Tampa Bay Times to write and attribute a snarky, unprofessional statement of this nature to our campaign is patently false and horribly unprofessional,” Cohen wrote in this election cycle’s most bizarre press release. “It’s tabloid journalism at its worst. It is arrogant. It is sophomoric. I would fire anyone who said such a thing.”
I initially weighed in on a couple of reasons why I think Cohen made a mistake (you can also read Kevin Cate’s take on the matter here.) Thinking about this matter further, it’s clear Mack has a “gravitas” issue.
After recently addressing a women’s group and a Tea Party organization, many in those crowds walked away thinking Mack was a lightweight.
Now it’s not just Mack, but also his campaign that looks not-so-ready for primetime.
Record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation and contributed to the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States, a record that dates back to 1895. More than 15,000 warm temperature records were broken during the month.
The average temperature of 51.1°F was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March and 0.5°F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months (117+ years) that have passed since the U.S. climate record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012.
Also, science once again undercuts and eliminates one of the deniers most important arguments:
Climate scientists have long argued that ancient air trapped in Antarctic ice is the smoking gun that links carbon dioxide to global warming. Over the past 800,000 years or so the planet has gone through a series of ice ages interspersed with relatively warm periods (during which glaciers retreat back toward the poles) — and inevitably, these warm interludes happen when there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere.
The only tricky part of this argument is that the smoke seems to come before the gunshot. It’s most apparent in the most recent warming period, which began about 19,000 years ago: the temperature seems to begin rising before CO2 concentrations increase. Climate skeptics have argued that since effects don’t come before causes, the whole theory falls apart.
In fact, it’s not much of an argument, since even little bit of warming would release extra carbon dioxide into the air, leading to a feedback loop, causing even more warming. But whatever feeble merit the skeptic argument might have had, a new study just published in Nature — one of two climate studies from that prestigious journal that we’re reporting on — pretty much demolishes it. It’s the most comprehensive analysis ever done of carbon dioxide and temperature at the end of the last ice age, and it shows quite clearly that in most of the world, the thermometer began to shoot up only after the atmosphere was spiked with carbon dioxide. “I think,” said Jeremy Shakun, a Harvard postdoctoral fellow and the lead author of the study, at a press conference, “this ends the skeptic argument.“
Shakun’s confidence is based on the comprehensiveness of the research. Most of the evidence for an ancient CO2-warming link comes from cores drilled out of Antarctica’s 2-mile-thick blanket of ice. Air bubbles from different levels show how much of the heat-trapping gas the atmosphere held at different times, and the chemistry of the ice trapping the bubbles shows what the temperature was.
The problem, Shakun said, is that “these cores tell you only about temperatures in the Antarctic.” Just as you’d never infer global temperatures today from just a couple of sites, it’s not really reliable to look only to ice at the South Pole for global temperatures back then. So Shakun and his co-authors gathered no fewer than 80 different records of ancient temperatures, including lake sediments (different types of pollen at different depths point to what growing conditions were like) or sea-bottom cores (the shells of marine plankton, whose chemistry depends sensitively on ocean temperatures). It was, writes the British Antarctic Survey’s Eric Wolff in an accompanying Nature commentary, “. . . a major achievement: the difficulties of synchronizing the records and of ensuring that they are sufficiently representative of the whole planet, are considerable.”
What they found was that in Antarctica, there was indeed a bit of warming that preceded the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide — but just a little, and only by a couple of hundred years. In the rest of the world, Shakun said, “global temperature clearly lags the CO2 buildup.” Cause, in short, really did come before effect.
An analysis by The Wall Street Journal of corporate financial reports finds that cumulative sales, profits and employment last year among members of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index exceeded the totals of 2007, before the recession and financial crisis.
Deep cost cutting during the downturn and caution during the recovery put the companies on firmer financial footing, helping them to outperform the rest of the economy and gather a greater share of the nation’s income. The rebound is reflected in the stock market, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at a four-year high.
“U.S. companies became leaner, meaner and hungrier,” said Sung Won Sohn, a former chief economist at Wells Fargo WFC -0.77% & Co.,
The performance hasn’t translated into significant gains in U.S. employment. Many of the 1.1 million jobs the big companies added since 2007 were outside the U.S. So, too, was much of the $1.2 trillion added to corporate treasuries.
When will they translate these profits back into jobs?
In the years since Florida enacted its “stand your ground” gun law, so-called “justifiable homicides” in the state have tripled, according to data from the FBI and Florida law enforcement officials, the Washington Post reports. In the five years before the law’s passage, just 12 killings per year, on average, were declared justifiable by Florida prosecutors — that number spiked to an average of 36 since the law passed. At least 32 states have copied Florida’s statute, thanks to a campaign by the National Rifle Association and the conservative, corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the “other states have seen similar increases” in justifiable homicides. The law has been thrust into the national spotlight due to concerns that the law may wrongly shield Trayvon Martin’s shooter.
These laws do nothing to protect citizens. They in fact take justice out of the hands of the judicial branch — the only place it belongs — and put into the hands of people acting on “suspicion” and with action movie hero complex. Nothing good comes of these laws and people are now dead without trial and conviction and mostly for crimes that don’t carry the death penalty. And what do you want to wager there is a racial disparity in the deceased?