Climate Change

Dick Cheney’s Interests: Not Ours

In Salon today, I’ve joined the chorus of people objecting to PapaDick Cheney and his spawn Liz BabyDick’s op-ed claiming of Obama that, “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” 

In addition to reviewing some of the so wrong things Cheney said 12 years ago to get us into Iraq, I look closely at two things few others have, both suggesting certain things about whose interests Cheney claims to represent.

First, while claiming to speak for America’s interests in Iraq, he actually cites the leaders of Middle Eastern countries.

Clearly, his temper tantrum serves, in part, to distract from his own culpability.

But note who else’s views Cheney cites? He claims he heard “a constant refrain in capitals from the Persian Gulf to Israel,” complaining about Obama’s actions. He describes a senior official in an Arab capital laying out ISIS’ aspirations on a map. He portrays those same figures in the Middle East demanding, “Why is he abandoning your friends?” “Why is he doing deals with your enemies?”

And he does so even while he mocks the notion of actually doing something about climate change, a threat that (in the form of extreme weather events) more immediately threatens Americans today.

Even while Cheney parrots the interests of Middle Eastern leaders and conflates their interests with America’s, he scoffs at Obama’s (belated) efforts to address a far more immediate risk for America, climate change. “Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change,” Cheney complains.

ISIS may be overrunning Iraqi cities, but extreme weather events are endangering cities in the United States and across the world. Much of the American West is struggling with extreme drought. Cheney, however, would have the president ignore this threat and instead prioritize the concerns he heard from his friends in the Middle East.

ISIS’ actions in Iraq are troubling — though it’s not clear that the US can do anything to fix it, certainly not now.

But the US has real problems here at home that threaten American lives and well-being. We really need to spend time working on our own governance before we decide to re-govern another country on the other side of the world.

Republicans Refuse to Expand Climate Change Analysis in Intelligence Authorization

I will have a few posts on the Intelligence Authorization that passed the House Intelligence Committee last week.  (h/t Steven Aftergood)

But before I talked about what made it into the bill, I’d like to highlight what isn’t in it: language requiring the Intelligence Community to consider climate change. The minority views reveal,

One of the bill’s weaknesses is that it does not do enough to enhance analysis of the national security implications of climate change, which the Intelligence Community refers to as environmental indications and warning. Whether by driving competition for scare [sic] resources, by opening the Arctic, or by increasing sea level and storm surge near our naval installations, climate change will have profound, destabilizing effects which need to be understood, anticipated, and accounted for. There may be disagreement about the causes of climate change, but the national security consequences are so significant that they cannot be ignored.

The intelligence community has been delving into this area in recent years (and appear to have renamed climate change “environmental indications and warning”). But thus far, the IC has stopped short of treating climate change as the threat to the US it clearly represents.

It appears Democrats on HPSCI tried to change that. And Republicans refused.

Someday the climate deniers will be held responsible for leaving our country vulnerable. And the Democrats will have left a record of those who should be held responsible.

Massive Wildfires in SoCal Months Ahead of Season, But Al Gore is Still Fat

I remember moving to Pasadena in September of 1979. I was told that our cheap student apartment had a good view of Mount Wilson out the living room window, but smoke and smog obscured it until nightfall, when flames on the ridge brought it into view. That was actually a very small fire, but the memory of those flames and the falling ash persist as my introduction to living in California. Throughout my years in California (we moved to the northern part of the state in 1983 and stayed there for ten years), I recall the rhythm of reliable late winter storms and spring showers giving way to dry summers that eventually turned into wildfire season late in the summer as the spring flush of growth in the hills dried out.

But that reliable rhythm in California faces serious disruption. The state is in its third year of extreme drought and fires are raging several months ahead of schedule. Consider this from the Governor’s Office, published on May 5, before the current outbreak of severe fires:

It is dry in the foothills and southern California as during a typical July or August, the peak of the fire season. Even in a region used to wildfires, this year appears poised to be especially destructive. California is facing its third dry year; thirsty grasses, parched brush and trees are more susceptible to burn, so fuel is ready.

/snip/

“The historic drought that is upon us makes Wildfire Preparedness more critical than ever,’ said  Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “There’s a very high likelihood of well-above-normal fires and perhaps a chance of longer-lasting fires, which require more resources in order to fight them.”

But it’s not just the current drought that is causing fires in California to be worse than ever:

So far this year, California has already experienced more wildfire activity than normal. As of April 26th, the state has recorded more than 1,100 fires; that’s more than double the average of the previous five years. Even before this year’s drought, forest officials were reporting a longer fire season and more catastrophic mega-fires in California and other western states. More than half of California’s worst fires in recorded history have occurred since 2002. 

Think about that. The state’s list of worst fires can be found here (pdf). The records go back to 1932, but in the more than 80 years of those records, 11 of the worst 20 have occurred in the 11 years from 2002 to 2013.

The current outbreak is worst around San Diego. From CNN:

San Diego County is hoping for a break Thursday, a day after wildfires ravaged the landscape, threatening homes, universities, a military base and a nuclear power plant.

“Let’s hope for a calm day,” said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who marveled at the outbreak that saw San Diego go from one wildfire to nine, charring more than 9,000 acres.

That hope for a calm day is unlikely to be met, as forecasters are saying today will be the hottest day this week. And yesterday was a flurry of activity for emergency services:

Alert San Diego, a countywide notification system, sent out nearly 122,000 emergency telephone notifications on Wednesday as the wildfires sprang up.

Carlsbad alone issued 23,000 evacuation notices. Thousands of students won’t have classes on Thursday due to the continuing threat; California State University-San Marcos canceled all activities through Friday, including commencement. Students in the San Diego Unified School District will also get a break from the books.

Numerous roads have been shut down while others have become clogged with people trying to escape.

/snip/

Another fire ignited around Camp Pendleton, a mammoth Marine base and training facility for multiple military branches, prompting evacuations of the O’Neill Heights Housing, the De Luz Child Development Center and Mary Fay Pendleton Elementary School, the Marines said.

Another blaze burned in the community of Fallbrook, adjacent to the military post, which is the West Coast boot camp for enlistees.

Cal Fire said the wildfire charred 6,000 acres around the military facilities.

A precautionary evacuation was ordered at the nearby San Onofre nuclear power plant, which has been offline for two years because of another wildfire. Southern California Edison spokeswoman Maureen Brown said “there is no safety threat,” though.

Isn’t that something? San Onofre got knocked offline over two years ago by another wildfire and is under attack again before it can get back up and running.

But don’t you dare blame these developments on climate change. Don’t you know how fat Al Gore is?

50 Years: That Day, JFK and Today

UnknownWhere were you fifty years ago today? If you were old enough to remember at all, then you undoubtedly remember where you were on Friday November 22, 1963 at 12:30 pm central standard time.

I was at a desk, two from the rear, in the left most row, in Mrs. Hollingshead’s first grade class. Each kid had their own desk, and they were big, made out of solid wood and heavy. They had to be heavy, of course, because they were going to protect us when we ducked and covered from a Soviet nuclear strike. There were, as there were in most elementary school classrooms of the day, a large clock and a big speaker on the wall up above the teacher’s desk.

I can’t remember what subject we were working on, but the principal’s voice suddenly came over the loudspeaker. This alone meant there was something important up, because that only usually occurred for morning announcements at the start of the school day and for special occasions. The voice of Mr. Flake, the principal, was somber, halting and different; perhaps detached is the word. There was a prelude to the effect that this was a serious moment and that the teachers should make sure that all students were at their desks and that all, both young and old, were to pay attention.

There had occurred a tragic and shocking event that we all needed to know about. Our attention was required.

Then the hammer fell and our little world literally caved in.

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been assassinated. Shot and killed in Dallas Texas. Then without a moment’s pause, we were told that the nation was safe, Vice-President Johnson was in charge, the government was functioning and that we need not have any concerns about our own safety. We were not at war.

Twenty four some odd little hearts stopped, plus one from Mrs. Hollingshead. You could literally feel the life being sucked out of the room like air lost to a vacuum. Many of us began looking out the window, because no matter what Mr. Flake said, if our President was dead, we were at war and the warheads were coming. They had to be in the sky. They were going to be there.

Unlike the hokey color coded terror alerts, ginned up fear mongering of Bush/Cheney, Ashcroft and Ridge, and today the terroristic fearmongering of Keith Alexander, James Clapper, Mike Rogers and Dianne Feinstein, things were dead nuts serious at the height of the cold war. If President Kennedy had been killed, we were at war; the missiles were on their way. Had to be. Looking back, the school officials and teachers had to have been as devastated and afraid as we were, yet they were remarkable. They kept themselves in one piece, held us together, talked and comforted us into calm.

We had not been back in class from lunch break for long; it was still early afternoon in the west. Before the announcement was made, the decision by the school officials had been made to send us home. The busses would be lined up and ready to go in twenty minutes. Until then there would be a brief quiet period and then the teachers would talk to us and further calm the situation. Then off we would go to try to forge a path with our families, who would need us as much as we Continue reading

Fat Al Gore Menaces the Homeland and Homeland Security Experts Don’t Care

Six days ago, Fat Al Gore (my shorthand for climate change) attacked the Philippines, killing as many 10,000 and leaving 250,000 homeless.

It was Fat Al Gore’s most successful attack thus far.

With Fat Al Gore’s growing success in mind, consider these data points.

Senate Homeland Security Committee doesn’t recognize Fat Al Gore as a threat

The Senate Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing on “Threats to the Homeland.” It is focused almost entirely on what witnesses describe a dispersed Al Qaeda threat (which doesn’t have the ability to attack in the US), self-radicalized extremists who don’t have the ability to conduct large-scale attacks, and cybersecurity (though Carl Levin did bring up corporate anonymity as a threat, and Republicans brought up Benghazi, which isn’t the “Homeland” at all; also, Ron Johnson leaked that Secret Service officers have proven unable to keep their dick in their pants in 17 countries).

None of the three witnesses even mentioned climate change in their testimony.

Obama’s Chief of Staff threatened to “kill” Steven Chu for admitting islands would disappear because of climate change

Meanwhile, the lead anecdote of this mostly interesting (but in parts obviously bullshit) profile of how Obama disempowered his cabinet ministers tells how Rahm went ballistic because Steven Chu (whose energy initiative created a bunch of jobs) publicly admitted that some islands will disappear because of climate change.

In April 2009, Chu joined Obama’s entourage for one of the administration’s first overseas trips, to Trinidad and Tobago for a Summit of the Americas focused on economic development. Chu was not scheduled to address the media, but reporters kept bugging Josh Earnest, a young staffer, who sheepishly approached his boss, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, with the ask. “No way,” Gibbs told him.

“Come on,” Earnest said. “The guy came all the way down here. Why don’t we just have him talk about all the stuff he’s doing?”

Gibbs reluctantly assented. Then Chu took the podium to tell the tiny island nation that it might soon, sorry to say, be underwater—which not only insulted the good people of Trinidad and Tobago but also raised the climate issue at a time when the White House wanted the economy, and the economy only, on the front burner. “I think the Caribbean countries face rising oceans, and they face increase in the severity of hurricanes,” Chu said. “This is something that is very, very scary to all of us. … The island states … some of them will disappear.”

Earnest slunk backstage. “OK, we’ll never do that again,” he said as Gibbs glared. A phone rang. It was White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel calling Messina to snarl, “If you don’t kill [Chu], I’m going to.”

Much later the story notes that Heather Zichal is on her way out too.

Even blue-chip West Wingers such as economic adviser Gene Sperling and climate czar Heather Zichal are heading for the exits.

Washington insiders applaud fracking while ignoring climate change

Meanwhile, also as part of its big new magazine spread, Politico has two related pieces on DC insiders views.

There’s this “Real Game Changers” piece capturing the “big forces they see shaking up U.S. politics.” David Petraeus talks about “the ongoing energy revolution in the U.S.” Jeb Bush promises, “With natural gas as an exponentially growing source, we can re-industrialize.” And while several thinkers describe the problem of economic inequality, only Al Gore talks about Fat Al Gore.

Carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels is changing our climate and transforming our world. From more destructive and more frequent climate-related extreme weather events, floods and droughts, melting ice and rising sea levels, to climate refugees, crop failure, higher asthma rates and water scarcity, the consequences are profound. As citizens, we’re already paying the high costs. Billions of dollars to clean up after extreme weather events. Rising insurance bills. Lives lost.

Meanwhile, former respectable energy historian turned shill Daniel Yergin congratulates America on being almost energy independent.

Here’s his only mention of the word “climate.”

In a major climate speech this past June, he declared, “We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.”

Yes, we’re going to fight climate change by burning carbon (gas) instead of carbon (coal).

To be fair to the DC elite, the reason we’re embracing fracking is to give ourselves space to ditch the terrorist funding Saudis. So there is a real national security purpose to it.

But of course, it’s a purpose that addresses a far less urgent threat than that terrorist Fat Al Gore, who just killed 10,000 people.

The Opportunity Cost of the Global Dragnet

Back in 2006-7, I wrote a series of posts in which I considered the opportunity cost of the Iraq War at a time when our hegemonic position was already clearly in decline. In the years leading up to the Iraq War, I believe Dick Cheney assessed the current energy regime on which our global power was based, and chose to reinvest in that already-crumbling basis of power: oil, reserve currency, global policeman by invading Iraq. What could have happened if we invested the trillion dollars we spent on losing a war in Iraq and instead invested in alternative energy? (An earlier, lost to history version of the post also considered fostering new leadership to deal with climate change.)

As the elites slowly realize we failed on a similarly catastrophic scale in our 5-year bailout of banks, we might expand the earlier question and ask what could have happened if we had invested those trillions, too, rather than propping up the banks that cement our global financial hegemony.

The debate over international privacy rights still ignores domestic privacy rights

It’s from that perspective that I read with interest the debate between David Cole, Orin Kerr, Kenneth Roth, and Ben Wittes over whether we ought to extend the privacy protections Americans enjoy to the rest of the world (or, at least, to citizens of allied countries). (See Cole, Kerr, Cole, Kerr, Roth, Wittes)

As a threshold matter, I think all are missing a key point. I believe the dragnet surveillance we conduct overseas right now clearly violates the Constitution. The NSA is knowingly collecting vast amounts of US person data (that it refuses to count even the domestically acquired dragnet collection hints at how much it’s collecting). And once they collect that vast, uncounted quantity of US person data, the NSA and FBI do not even require RAS before accessing the content of Americans’ communications.

In short, because the government didn’t make the same adjustments for increasingly globalized technology internationally they made in 2008 for domestic collection (the FISA Amendments Act permitted foreign collection domestically, but didn’t deal with the increasing amounts of domestic collection internationally it was doing), the NSA has basically eliminated all privacy protections for any of the significant amounts of US person communications that transit outside of the country.

So their debate should not just consider whether we ought to extend privacy protections to the French in France, but whether Americans retain their constitutional protections as their communications transit France.

The squandered opportunity of American Internet hegemony

But I also think the terms of debate International law (Cole and Roth) versus domestic sovereignty (Kerr) miss an equally important point. What obligations and best practices should the US have adopted as the world’s Internet hegemon?

Kerr sums up the International/domestic split this way:

I suspect that our differences reflect our priors, which in turn are based on two different conceptions of government. I tend to see governments as having legitimacy because of the consent of the governed, which triggers rights and obligations to and from its citizens and those in its territorial borders. As I understand David, he has more of a global view of government, by which governments are accountable to all humans worldwide. I suspect that difference leads us to talk past each other a bit. Consider David’s question: “Would we be satisfied to give the French authority to pick up all of our communications simply on a showing that we were not French and not living in France?” Under my conception of government, the question doesn’t make sense. Because we don’t have any rights vis-a-vis the French government, we can’t “give the French authority” to do anything or have any valid claim to satisfy.

While I’m sympathetic to both perspectives, to a point, I actually think they miss something. The US is not just any country. It has been, for the last 20 years, the world’s sole hegemon. And being the hegemon — as opposed to the coercive world empire, which is a much more expensive proposition — requires a similar kind of consent as that of your garden variety nation-state.

This is the point laid out in Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore’s brilliant essay on American hypocrisy.

Of course, the United States is far from the only hypocrite in international politics. But the United States’ hypocrisy matters more than that of other countries. That’s because most of the world today lives within an order that the United States built, one that is both underwritten by U.S. power and legitimated by liberal ideas. Continue reading

Badly Broken: We Are Walter White

BreakingBad_logophotoI’ll bet tonight’s blog traffic will drop sharply, and explode on Twitter — and at 9:00 p.m. EDT exactly. That’s when the last episode of AMC’s Breaking Bad will air, following a 61-hour marathon of all preceding episodes from the last five years.

A friend expressed concern and astonishment at the public’s investment in this cable TV program, versus the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report published Friday, expressing heightened confidence in anthropogenic climate change:

“The report increases the degree of certainty that human activities are driving the warming the world has experienced, from “very likely” or 90% confidence in 2007, to “extremely likely” or 95% confidence now.” [source]

He’s right; we’ll be utterly absorbed by the conclusion of former high school chemistry teacher and cancer patient Walter White’s tale. We’ll have spent a fraction of intellectual energy on our own existential threat, in comparison to the mental wattage we’ll expend on a fictional character’s programming mortality.

But perhaps Breaking Bad’s very nature offers clues to our state of mind. Viewers are addicted to a program that upends perspectives and forces greater examination.

— The entire story of Walter White, a middle class white guy with a good education whose cancer threatens his life and his family’s long-term financial well-being, would not be viable were it not for the dismal state of health care in America. There are no Walter Whites in Canada, for example; the U.S. has become little better than a third world narco-state, our health and shelter dependent on ugly choices like crime because our system of governance cannot respond appropriately under pressure for corporate profitability.

We cling to White, though he has become the very thing we pay our law enforcement to battle, because he is us — morally conflicted, trying to safeguard our lives and our families in a deeply corrupt system. At the end of each Breaking Bad episode the distortion of our values is evident in viewers’ failure to reject a criminal character depicting a drug lord manufacturing and selling a controlled substance, while guilty of conspiracy, murder, and racketeering in the process.

In the background as we watch this program, we permit corporate-owned congresspersons to shut down our government in a fit of pique over the illusion of better health care for all. Continue reading

The Ooga Booga* Continues to Wear Off

Two and a half years ago, I noted how TSA head John Pistole pointed to a plot the FBI created while he was still its Deputy Director to justify the use of VIPR teams to stop people on non-aviation public transportation.

A couple of weeks back, I pointed to John Pistole’s testimony that directly justified the expansion of VIPR checkpoints to mass transport locations by pointing to a recent FBI-entrapment facilitated arrest.

Another recent case highlights the importance of mass transit security. On October 27, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested a Pakistan-born naturalized U.S. citizen for attempting to assist others whom he believed to be members of al Qaida in planning multiple bombings at Metrorail stations in the Washington, D.C., area. During a sting operation, Farooque Ahmed allegedly conducted surveillance of the Arlington National Cemetery, Courthouse, and Pentagon City Metro stations, indicated that he would travel overseas for jihad, and agreed to donate $10,000 to terrorist causes. A federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, returned a three-count indictment against Ahmed, charging him with attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility, and attempting to provide material support to help carry out multiple bombings to cause mass casualties at D.C.-area Metrorail stations.

While the public was never in danger, Ahmed’s intentions provide a reminder of the terrorist attacks on other mass transit systems: Madrid in March 2004, London in July 2005, and Moscow earlier this year. Our ability to protect mass transit and other surface transportation venues from evolving threats of terrorism requires us to explore ways to improve the partnerships between TSA and state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement, and other mass transit stakeholders. These partnerships include measures such as Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams we have put in place with the support of the Congress. [my emphasis]

Now to be clear, as with Mohamed Mohamud’s alleged plot, Ahmed’s plot never existed except as it was performed by FBI undercover employees. In fact, at the time the FBI invented this plot, now TSA-head Pistole was the Deputy Director of FBI, so in some ways, Ahmed’s plot is Pistole’s plot. Nevertheless, Pistole had no problem pointing to a plot invented by his then-subordinates at the FBI to justify increased VIPR surveillance on “mass transit and other surface transportation venues.” As if the fake FBI plot represented a real threat.

Today, a NYT piece raises questions about VIPR’s efficacy (without, however, noting how TSA has pointed to FBI-generated plots to justify it).

T.S.A. and local law enforcement officials say the teams are a critical component of the nation’s counterterrorism efforts, but some members of Congress, auditors at the Department of Homeland Security and civil liberties groups are sounding alarms. The teams are also raising hackles among passengers who call them unnecessary and intrusive.

“Our mandate is to provide security and counterterrorism operations for all high-risk transportation targets, not just airports and aviation,” said John S. Pistole, the administrator of the agency. “The VIPR teams are a big part of that.”

Some in Congress, however, say the T.S.A. has not demonstrated that the teams are effective. Auditors at the Department of Homeland Security are asking questions about whether the teams are properly trained and deployed based on actual security threats.

It’d really be nice if NYT had named the “some” in Congress who had raised concerns. Continue reading

Superheroes and Monsters: The Truth in Today’s Blockbusters

[poster graphic via IMdb]

[poster graphic via IMdb]

For a change of pace, let’s talk about superheroes.

Like Superman. Batman. Iron Man. The Avengers. Spider-man.

We’ve been inundated with superheroes at the box office for the last several years. We eat them up, based on box office ticket sales. But why?

Filmmaker Peter Webber tweeted,

Glut of superhero movies is because of 2 things
1. We sense impending eco-catastrophe
2. We seem unable to alter course to save ourselves

There’s something to this if we look at the history of the oldest superheroes recently reprised. Superman was “born” in 1933 and Batman in 1939, during the Great Depression. The public latched onto the escapist fantasy that some incredibly powerful force would rescue them when most needed.

Perhaps there’s something to the nature of these two superheroes in terms of timing: Superman originated earlier in the Depression, when any outside force with supreme powers for good might be welcomed eagerly. Batman originated later in the Depression; his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, heir to wealthy industrialists, was willing to wield his fortune to save Gotham as both collective identity and individuals. By the late Depression with recovery underway and a new world war looming, the public may have wanted a more realistic, human hero rather than an outsider, though both Superman and Batman remained popular figures.

Today we see the reverse order, Batman reprised first by Christopher Nolan in his Dark Knight trilogy of increasingly crypto-fascist persuasion, and Superman renewed most recently as Man of Steel after Batman has “died.” In the last Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, collectivism for the common good is completely upended and perverted so that its leader, Bane, is the villain. The public can blame the ills befalling their municipality on the masked man with the strange voice, “the other” who makes himself out to be the defender of the people:

“…We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you… the people. Gotham is yours. …”

How is this not a corruption of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s mission?

Superman’s latest iteration as Man of Steel redeems the iconic common man, though, with a serious departure from the original canon Clark Kent-as-journalist. In the most recent version, Kent is presented first to the audience not a college educated smartie in a suit but an itinerant worker of midwestern farm roots, willing to brave what appear to be mortal threats to save others. We’ve come back around from the rich industrialist’s hobbyist rescuer to the alien-man from the former Dust Bowl — now drought-blighted  Kansas — as savior.

Because right now, we can’t rely on the rich guy, or the distorted collectivist. Our ills are so great, we’re so very desperate we need a “super man” to save us.

In this respect, Peter Webber is spot on; we don’t appear to be able to change our course and are now betting on outside forces as salvation.

Where one might take issue with Peter’s premise is eco-catastrophe. It’s huge, of that there is no doubt. The problem of climate change is so very massive and ugly that the American public has been unwilling to wrap their heads around it, too eager to lap up the propaganda offered by petrochemical companies like Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil.

In this is the real problem, the reason why we cannot effectively tackle the eco-catastrophe we can see looming behind us in the rear view mirror. It is the ongoing assault on our sensibilities by corporate forces, demanding we continue our rampant consumerism, that keeps us from saving ourselves. We remain addicted to petrochemicals in spite of what they do to our environment and to our world in terms of the political price we must pay to maintain our supply, tethered mortally to our corporatist dealers and pimps. Continue reading

Univision’s Follow-Up Question

Univision’s Adriana Vargas just interviewed President Obama. After three questions about the immigration bill, she asked whether Obama would consider Ray Kelly to run Department of Homeland Security.

Obama, of course, was effusive about the idea of appointing Mr. Stop & Frisk to be in charge of the immigration system.

Vargas: Mr. President, New York Commissioner Ray Kelly has been floated for the next DHS Secretary. What is your take on it?

Obama: Well, Ray Kelly has obviously done an extraordinary job in New York and the federal government partners a lot with New York. Because obviously our concerns about terrorism oftentimes are focused on big city targets. And I think Ray Kelly is one of the best there is. So he’s been an outstanding leader in New York. We’ve had an outstanding leader in Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a tough job. It’s one of the toughest jobs in Washington. She’s done an extraordinary job. We’re sorry to see her go. But you know, we’re going to have a bunch of strong candidates. Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is. But if he’s not I’d want to know about it. ‘Cause you know, obviously he’d be very well qualified for the job.

Janet Napolitano? Outstanding leader.

Ray Kelly? Outstanding leader, according to Obama.

So Vargas then asked about a core DHS failure: Hurricane Sandy Recovery, where just a quarter of families have gotten FEMA relief (about half of the relief funding remains unallocated).

Obama boasts about spending a quarter of the disaster relief funds, then shifts the subject to Shawn Donovan.

AV: I have one last question regarding our geographical area of course and it’s regarding the efforts of recovery after Sandy. Only a quarter of the families have received FEMA resources. What would be your message to those families among them obviously a lot of Latino families?

PBO: Well, you know, we’ve distributed over $4 billion dollars since Sandy happened. $1.4 billion of that has been directly to families through FEMA. And we are continuing to not only try to get resources out. But also I’ve got a team headed up by Shaun Donovan, our Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to try to design a rebuilding process that strengthens these communities post-Sandy, so that if there are tragedies in the future they’re in a stronger position than they were. But, you know, individual families it’s always tough. Some may qualify for some assistance, but don’t feel like they’ve gotten everything that they need. You know, we’re doing as much as we can with the resources that we’ve been given from Congress. And we’re in close communication with Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo and all the local municipalities to do everything we can to help businesses and families get back on their feet. And we’re not going to stop until we get it done.

Obama’s “outstanding” head of Homeland Security, of course, is ultimately responsible for Sandy recovery.

And that’s apparently what he sees in Ray Kelly, too.

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz RT @nickconfessore: Blocked subpoenas, internal spies, & unauthorized rewrites: How Cuomo hobbled his own ethics probe: http://t.co/a2kbr4Q
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bmaz @ScottGreenfield @marietuhart "Juris Doctor"
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bmaz Freedom Christian School closing http://t.co/B4ktRUpcPO Yeah, that's horrible. Probably will reopen as "2nd Amendment Academy For Kids"
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bmaz RT @ScottGreenfield: Every parent, read @DanielSolove's Future of Reputation. Teach your kids not to do stupid things. And don't do them y…
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bmaz @ScottGreenfield No shit. Same people who support this crap will whine when their kids and/or friends get rolled up in it. Just nuts.
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emptywheel @john_dingell Why does the @TODAYshow hate the @Tigers?
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bmaz RT @ScottGreenfield: Why is criminal law the appropriate weapon to save people from their irresponsible choices? Why is it progressive to d…
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emptywheel Under Third Party doctrine, couldn't govt buy back the data AddThis gets from govt sites? http://t.co/NemAqoPGN7
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bmaz @JimWhiteGNV @emptywheel @jaytingle Uh, let's see here....okra twigs or pulled pork? Hmmm...RESUME THE PORK SHIPMENTS!
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JimWhiteGNV @emptywheel I advise treading carefully here if you and @bmaz want the pulled pork shipments to resume. @jaytingle
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emptywheel @bmaz It was 89º yesterday. Our absolute high for the summer, apparently. @jaytingle @JimWhiteGNV
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bmaz @emptywheel @jaytingle @JimWhiteGNV Also, was 111º yesterday and didn't seem that hot really. #DryHeat
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