Monday, September 28, 2009

Repugs playing poker

Time capsule found on the dead planet


In December world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to try to reach a global deal to tackle climate change. To support the launch of the 10:10 campaign to reduce carbon emissions, the Review asked some of our greatest artists, authors and poets to produce new work in response to the crisis

by Margaret Atwood


1. In the first age, we created gods. We carved them out of wood; there was still such a thing as wood, then. We forged them from shining metals and painted them on temple walls. They were gods of many kinds, and goddesses as well. Sometimes they were cruel and drank our blood, but also they gave us rain and sunshine, favourable winds, good harvests, fertile animals, many children. A million birds flew over us then, a million fish swam in our seas.

Our gods had horns on their heads, or moons, or sealy fins, or the beaks of eagles. We called them All-Knowing, we called them Shining One. We knew we were not orphans. We smelled the earth and rolled in it; its juices ran down our chins.

2. In the second age we created money. This money was also made of shining metals. It had two faces: on one side was a severed head, that of a king or some other noteworthy person, on the other face was something else, something that would give us comfort: a bird, a fish, a fur-bearing animal. This was all that remained of our former gods. The money was small in size, and each of us would carry some of it with him every day, as close to the skin as possible. We could not eat this money, wear it or burn it for warmth; but as if by magic it could be changed into such things. The money was mysterious, and we were in awe of it. If you had enough of it, it was said, you would be able to fly.

3. In the third age, money became a god. It was all-powerful, and out of control. It began to talk. It began to create on its own. It created feasts and famines, songs of joy, lamentations. It created greed and hunger, which were its two faces. Towers of glass rose at its name, were destroyed and rose again. It began to eat things. It ate whole forests, croplands and the lives of children. It ate armies, ships and cities. No one could stop it. To have it was a sign of grace.

4. In the fourth age we created deserts. Our deserts were of several kinds, but they had one thing in common: nothing grew there. Some were made of cement, some were made of various poisons, some of baked earth. We made these deserts from the desire for more money and from despair at the lack of it. Wars, plagues and famines visited us, but we did not stop in our industrious creation of deserts. At last all wells were poisoned, all rivers ran with filth, all seas were dead; there was no land left to grow food.

Some of our wise men turned to the contemplation of deserts. A stone in the sand in the setting sun could be very beautiful, they said. Deserts were tidy, because there were no weeds in them, nothing that crawled. Stay in the desert long enough, and you could apprehend the absolute. The number zero was holy.

5. You who have come here from some distant world, to this dry lakeshore and this cairn, and to this cylinder of brass, in which on the last day of all our recorded days I place our final words:

Pray for us, who once, too, thought we could fly.

Demand Release of G-20 Detainees! Drop All Charges and End RepressionNOW!

Bail Out the People Movement

Demand Release of G-20 Detainees! Drop All Charges and End Repression NOW!

Sign the online petition to Federal Officials, Congressional leaders, the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation, the Pennsylvania Legislature, the Mayor of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Police Chief, Pittsburgh city officials, Pittsburgh business leaders, the Allegheny County Council and local and national media demanding an immediate release of all detainees, that all charges be dropped, and calling for an independent investigation, at

Repressive cop forces provoke violence, arrests in Pittsburgh
Join the call to release all detainees, drop all charges and for an independent investigation now!

The repressive cop forces of homeland security locked down the people of Pittsburgh during the G-20 economic summit – bringing with them violence, arrests and intimidation. Bail Out the People Movement (BOPM) demands that all 150 arrestees be accounted for and released; all charges be dropped and a public apology be made to the people of Pittsburgh by County Executive Dan Onorato Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, police chief Nate Harper, and other officials responsible for the massive repressive forces and an independent labor-community-student investigation of the repressive actions especially directed against youth.

On Thurs, Sept. 24 and Fri., Sept. 25, government sweeps by the Pittsburgh police and more than 4,000 additional cops, state troopers and national guard, gave rise to videos and eyewitness reports starkly reminiscent of the repression by U.S. trained military dictatorships in Latin America i.e. youth wrestled into unmarked cars by police dressed in military fatigue uniforms and repressive forces posing for photos with kneeling captives.

Experiments with high-tech sound weaponry also reportedly used in Honduras, gases and other "less-lethal" crowd control became the order of the day on Sept. 25 when police surrounded and arrested youth gathered in Schenley Plaza near the University of Pittsburgh in the Oakland neighborhood. Arrestees reported that after the order to disperse, all exit routes were blocked and more than 100 people were arrested. Among them was a Pittsburgh-Post Gazette newspaper reporter.

On the scene, Dante Strobino from FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) wrote: "The police began to occupy the park and forcefully removed everyone. As students began to gather around to check it out, the riot police got more hyped up. There were no chants, no signs, no banners, no folks dressed in black and no provocation. The police threw several tear gas and smoke bombs at the crowd again and pushed them further back down commercial streets toward bars and restaurants. They also chased people into the huge dormitory towers and attacked students as they left their residences. Students were hanging out the windows, taking pictures in awe."

"Forbes St. was blocked off by hundreds of riot cops while surrounding contingents of cops moved in on the other areas of the campus to corral people inside the area. Police brutality had been witnessed with folks being thrown to the ground and shot with rubber bullets, media being pepper sprayed and gassed. Protesters and students alike are being held in the dorm towers unable to leave in fear of arrest. Other students cannot cross Fifth Ave. to get to their residences without being thrown to the ground."

"What is most striking about being here is seeing the incredible police repression both Thursday and Friday night in Oakland, near U of Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University, two universities with mostly white, mostly class-privileged students. As Larry Holmes commented during the BOPM Tent City, at any given normal day the police usually target and harass the Black community, but these two days not only are those under normal occupation, but the police are targeting young white folks, too."

Sean O'Sullivan, senior at University of Pittsburgh, who was not taking part in the protests earlier in the day, stated "It was the police who started the violence and ended up finishing the violence. It felt like a war zone...the police kept becoming more and more violent, taking over more and more of the street. I couldn't get to my house even until 3 a.m. on Thursday."

Jillian Dowis, sophomore at Ohio University from Students for a Democratic Society who came to Pittsburgh to protest the G-20's policies, speaking of her experience on the night of Sept. 25, said "After a reporter got maced in face and we brought him to steps of chapel. The cops swarmed around us and arrested guy that was injured, he could barely breath, trying to get him away from crowd. As kids tried to run away they picked us off one by one. My friend called her dad. Then a cop said to us, 'Shut the f_ck up and get off the goddamn phone'. My friend was was trying to say bye and the cop grabbed her by head and slammed her head into the ground. They were being way forceful and too aggressive and intentionally put on handcuffs way too tight."

A 24-hour continuous vigil is ongoing at the Allegheny County Jail until all arrestees are released.

Sign the online petition at to send email messages to officials demanding the immediate release of those arrested and an independent investigation. The sample text of the appeal follows:

To: Pittsburgh Mayor Ravenstahl, Pittsburgh City Council, Pittsburgh Police Chief, Allegheny County Council
CC: PA Congressional Delegation, Congressional Leaders, the PA Legislature, Federal Officials, Pittsburgh business leaders, members of the Pittsburgh and national media

I demand that the military occupation of Pittsburgh be disbanded immediately; all charges against the people arrested in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24 and 25 especially the youth – including those involved in direct action confronting the G-20 summit – be dropped. Everyone detained must be accounted for and released. I support an independent worker-community-student investigation of the homeland security occupation and repression during the G-20 summit.

(your name appended here)


College students trapped in stairwell and gassed, attacked

Police assault couple in street

Police pose while taking picture of arrested student

Bill Maher Should Be America's Surgeon General!

By Donald B. Ardell

Bill Maher, my choice for Czar of REAL Wellness if such an office ever becomes a top position in the Executive branch of government, has condensed in one NEW RULE a central idea I have been promoting for at least 30 years in a dozen books, 74 printed newsletters, 503 weekly electronic newsletters and about 500 speeches. Sheesh—I wish I had a sense of humor and could write hilarious copy that cuts to the quick in the Maher manner.

In my first book, High Level Wellness: An Alternative To Doctors, Drugs and Disease (Rodale, 1976), I wrote: "Modern medicine is a wonderful thing but there are two problems: people expect too much of it and too little of themselves." If we all expected more of ourselves, that is, lived wisely aided by positive choices that enabled high levels of fitness while foregoing the common high risk behaviors (smoking, excessive alcohol intake, fat and sugary low density foods, sedentary living, etc.), we would not need a $2.6 trillion per year medical system to attend to avoidable maladies.

Of course, Maher gets to the point faster with high hilarity.

Here is Bill Maher's latest NEW RULE. Every paragraph is funny AND true at the same time, and it sweeps away all the BS contained in tens of thousands of ponderous position papers produced by policy experts on the right, left and middle concerning health system reform—and that's only in the last few days.

After each of the following paragraphs of Bill Maher's NEW RULE commentary, in quotes, you will find additional brief remarks from me.

New Rule: You can't complain about health care reform if you're not willing to reform your own health. Unlike most liberals, I'm glad all those teabaggers marched on Washington last week. Because judging from the photos, it's the first exercise they've gotten in years. Not counting, of course, all the Rascal scooters there, most of which aren't even for the disabled. They're just Americans who turned 60 and said, 'Screw it, I'm done walking.'

How come next to nobody has been pointing this out? It's as if the emperor has no clothes but nobody notices that he's not only bare nekked—he's corpulent, as well. The emperor in this case is the American people—and those complaining about the medical system need to reform their own health. To Bill Maher, I say what is often said as an expression of enthusiastic approval downunder: "You beaudy." 

Maher's New Rule continues:

These people are furious at the high cost of health care, so they blame illegals, who don't even get health care. News flash, Glenn Beck fans: the reason health care is so expensive is because you're all so unhealthy.

Just so. Therefore, one would expect our new president, a leader with good sense and good values and excellent advisers, to find a way to emphasize the vital role of personal responsibility at every turn. Would YOU not expect that? Incredibly, he does not do so. Why not? President Obama, a model of good living and committed to exercise (albeit a closet struggling-to-quit light smoker), surely knows the importance of exercise and wise lifestyle choices that lower health risks and, more important, boost quality of life. What is going on? How can this be explained? It's a wonderment, is it not?

More from Maher and his wonderful New Rule:

Yes, it was fun this week to watch the teabaggers complain how the media underestimated the size of their march, 'How can you say there were only 60,000 of us? We filled the entire mall!' Yes, because you're fat. One whale fills the tank at Sea World, that doesn't make it a crowd.

Brilliant, truly smack on. Alas, if you are not a celebrated comic with your own show on HBO, you really can't get away with pointing out that folks are fat, let alone making unflattering analogies about fat Republicans and others with a Sea World whale.

Maher on the obvious (in other words, the emperor's nudity): 

President Obama has identified all the problems with the health care system, but there's one tiny issue he refuses to tackle, and that's our actual health.

Mr. President! Please start talking about this.

Massive Muslim Prayer in D.C. Incites Christian Prayers

An unprecedented Muslim prayer rally to take place on Capitol Hill Friday afternoon has Christian leaders responding with calls for prayer and fasting of their own.

By Jennifer Riley

Christian evangelist Lou Engle of TheCall has partnered with Shirley Dobson, chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, to issue an urgent nationwide call for Christians to pray and fast on Sept. 25 – the day when up to 50,000 Muslims plan to pray in front of the Capitol building.

The leaders urge the Church in America to fast and pray that Muslims would be moved by the Holy Spirit, be convicted by the testimony of Christ, and be visited by Jesus in dreams like many Muslims who have come to Christ have experienced.

"There is a great spiritual conflict with a rising tide of Islamic boldness being manifested," according to TheCall Web site. "We must pray that God would restrain the spiritual powers behind Islam and grant us the great awakening that we desperately need for America."

At 1 p.m. Friday on the west side of the Capitol, tens of thousands of Muslims are expected to gather and pray. The event, called "Islam on Capitol Hill," is organized by Hassen Abdellah, a lawyer who is president of the Dar-ul-Islam mosque in Elizabeth, N.J.

Abdellah has come under fire from some conservative Christians for his connection to suspected and convicted terrorists. The Muslim lawyer represented a terrorist convicted of manufacturing the bomb in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. His client is now serving time in the "supermax" prison in Colorado.

In another case, Abdellah represented a Baltimore cabdriver who pleaded guilty of attending a jihad terrorist training camp in Pakistan and aiding a terrorist group.

But the Muslim lawyer defended his legal record, saying that he has also put many "bad people" in jail, according to The Washington Post. Moreover, he said the event will not include any political message.

"This is just about prayer," Abdellah told "The purpose is Islamic unity, so we can display the beauty of Islam. We believe the groupsare going to be people who love and respect America, and we want to let America know that we're here and that we support the country.

"I know it's difficult for people to believe it could be that simple."

Wolf Blitzer gets ’schooled’ in journalism by Michael Moore

By Diana Sweet

Michael Moore appeared on CNN Thursday evening with Wolf Blitzer to discuss his new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story. This is Moore's first interview with Blitzer since his film Sicko was released, and as Moore puts it, they had a 'YouTube moment.' Moore slammed Blitzer and CNN for mistatements about universal health care and his film Sicko during that interview in 2007 when Blitzer attempted to debunk facts presented in the film with 'facts' from CNN's medical expert, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Moore debunked Gupta's facts in detail on his own web site, and later went head to head with the doctor on the Larry King Show.

Well, they had another YouTube moment last night.

Blitzer begins by pointing out that there are people who don't like Michael Moore.

"Let's talk about…most people who are going to see this movie who don't like you are going to say, 'you know what, Michael Moore has done pretty well in this free-market, capitalist system—you've become a fairly rich guy yourself.' " states Blitzer.

After Moore asks for the names of people who don't like them, so he can 'invite them to dinner,' he continues with "Why am I against capitalism if I've done so well? Shouldn't the question be better put—I'm not trying to do your job for you—but wouldn't the question better be, 'gee Mike, you've done so well, why don't you just kick back at the lake and enjoy your life. Why do you care about people losing their healthcare and their jobs and all that…you're not losing yours…I wonder if there was a Wolf Blitzer 200 years ago who asked Thomas Jefferson or John Adams or George Washington, 'hey, you know, you guys are wealthy land owners…'"

Perhaps Blitzer was hoping for another 'YouTube moment' with Michael Moore? Well, here it is, in two parts from the interview originally aired on Thurs., September 24, 2009:

Part One:

Part Two:

Scalia Believes Religion Should be Part of Government

by: DocJess

Antonin Scalia gave an interview to a right wing religious newspaper. You can read it here. The major part of the interview is Scalia's view on how it is WRONG for the American government to remain neutral in issues involving religion. He believes that religion should be PREFERRED.

A few of the gems:

  • I have been here for a long time now - 23 years. In that time, I think the Court has become more receptive to the needs of religious practice.
  • [T]he court [...] adopted the so-called principle of neutrality - which states that the government cannot favor religion over non-religion. This is not an accurate representation of what Americans believe. 
  • It has not been our American constitutional tradition, nor our social or legal tradition, to exclude religion from the public sphere. Whatever the Establishment Clause means, it certainly does not mean that government cannot accommodate religion, and indeed favor religion.

Scary stuff.

People say that Scalia is a bright guy, but I'm thinking that he hasn't realized that when there is true religious "preference" on the part of government, you end up with places like Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc., where people are stoned to death for breaking religious laws. Admittedly, that's the Koran not the Bible, but in case you've forgotten the West Wing episode where President Bartlett quotes the internet letter to the Laura Schlessinger stand-in, I've put that whole letter after the jump. I wonder how Scalia's religious views jibe with the smiting, killing and selling into slavery parts...

He did say one thing of interest:

If and when I am placed in the position of having to render a judgment that makes me an instrument of evil, my recourse is not to lie regarding the meaning of law and come out the other way but to step down from the bench and perhaps join a revolution. 

HHMMNN. If Scalia actually is a man of conscience and honour, he should step down NOW.

Tom Friedman's Idiocy Atomique

by Harvey Wasserman

France's atomic power industry is a failed radioactive flame. Its 58 reactors are unpopular, unsafe, uneconomical, dirty, direct agents of global warming, weapons proliferators and major generators of atomic waste for which there is no management solution.

But self-proclaimed "green advocate" Thomas Friedman seems to think otherwise. In his just published New York Times op ed "Real Men Tax Gas" Friedman applies the term "wimp" to those who fail to fight global warming. But in true corporate style, he can't face the hard truths about France's industrie atomique. To wit:

1) In denial verging on psychosis, Friedman says France has "managed to deal with all the radioactive waste issues without any problems or panic." In fact, France's unsolved waste problem has thousands of ultra-hot fuel rods building up at reactor sites, just like here. Its hugely expensive attempts to reprocess spent fuel cause devastating radiation releases into the English Channel and elsewhere, prompting continual demands from around Europe that they stop.

2) Friedman says "France today generates nearly 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants." But he ignores "wimpy" French public opinion that has turned decisively against building new reactors while strongly approving new wind production. The big "Non" to new nukes stems in part from massively inefficient, unreliable reactors, some of which have recently been forced shut because they are overheating the rivers meant to cool them. Is this Friedman's "macho" solution to global warming?

3) Friedman complains that the US has "not been able or willing to build one new nuclear plant since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, even though that accident led to no deaths or injuries to plant workers or neighbors." Friedman misses those 2400 "wimpy" central Pennsylvania families who sued for widespread death and disease they suffered after TMI's radiation releases showered their homes and fields. The utility responsible quietly paid out more than $15 million in secret settlements.

Friedman has also missed important new findings by nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen and epidemiologist Stephen Wing indicating far more extensive TMI radiation releases and far more widespread health impacts than previously believed.

4) Friedman complains that "we're too afraid to store nuclear waste deep in Nevada's Yucca Mountain — totally safe — at a time when French mayors clamor to have reactors in their towns to create jobs." But Yucca's ability to store anything except rusting rail lines is as yet untested. The earthquake fault that runs through it is tangible and visible. So is perched water that threatens to rain down on any radioactive waste stored there. Yucca is surrounded by dormant volcanoes---and by 80% opposition from "wimpy" Nevadans angry for a wide variety of economic, health, safety and geological reasons. Nobody in France is planning on storing high level radioactive waste in their town squares and nobody else---here or there---wants it.

5) Friedman says "the French stayed the course on clean nuclear power, despite Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and we ran for cover." France's first shot at a "new generation" reactor---in Finland---is an engineering, economic and ecological catastrophe. French taxpayers are enraged about funding an Olkiluoto project that's years behind budget and billions of Euros over budget. Anne Lauvergeon, the chief of AREVA---France's nuclear front group---told me ( she blames Finland's regulatory framework for her woes. But a parallel project at Flamanville, France, isn't faring much better. AREVA's fortunes have plummeted, throwing the government-controlled agency into deep financial crisis.

6) Friedman goes on to laud "Little Denmark" for imposing "a carbon tax, a roughly $5-a-gallon gasoline tax." He fails to credit its "wimpy" but fiercely effective No Nukes movement, which has kept Denmark totally free of atomic reactors, while moving it further into wind power percentage-wise than any other nation on Earth. Angry Danish opposition has helped force neighboring Sweden to shut its Barsebaeck reactors, upwind from Copenhagen.

Friedman's bizarre reactor advocacy reflects a corporate mindset too wimpy to embrace the true Solartopian solution to our energy crisis. Mycle Schneider, Paris-based author of WHAT FRANCE GOT WRONG ( in NUCLEAR ENGINEERING INTERNATIONAL, gets it right: "For least cost and greatest security, the energy future lies in affordable, distributed, superefficient technologies, smart grids and sustainable urbanism. France's centralised, autocratic nuclear policy symbolizes the opposite."

Too big to jail...

Obama and Nukes: Talking the Talk, Awaiting the Walk

Analysis: Two longtime opponents of nuclear weapons reflect on heady times as the Obama administration puts disarmament back on the map.

feature photo
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) and President Barack Obama at Thursday's Security Council Summit.U.N.

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council possess over 98 percent of the more than 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world. Today, President Barack Obama led a session of the council focusing on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. We take that opportunity to present a dialogue between David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation — an organization strident in its opposition to nuclear weapons — and Richard Falk, professor emeritus of International Law and Practice at Princeton University and the chair of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Falk and Krieger have written widely on nuclear dangers and are co-editors of the 2008 book At the Nuclear Precipice: Catastrophe or Transformation?

David Krieger: How seriously should we take the changes that are being proposed by the Obama administration? Do you see these proposals as a serious turning away from catastrophe toward transformation?

Richard Falk: I think that this is a much more hopeful time to consider these various issues bearing on nuclear weapons and, at the same time, it's a rather confusing and complicated time. Of course it's appropriate and accurate, I think, to welcome the kind of rhetorical leadership that President Obama has so far exhibited, particularly in his Prague speech of April 5. One has to hope that this is more than a rhetorical posture, but represents, as he said in the speech it did, a serious commitment to take concrete steps toward the objective of a world free from nuclear weapons. But one has to look at two other factors here that make me, at any rate, somewhat less optimistic about the real tangible results.

The first is the continuing confrontation with Iran as a potential nuclear weapon state on the unspoken assumption that we still will be living in a world where some countries are allowed to have those weapons and others are forbidden. It would be a very different confrontation, from my perspective, if it was coupled with a call for a Middle East free from nuclear weapons altogether or a dual call to Israel and Iran that would take account of the existence of a nuclear weapon state in the region already. But as far as I can tell there is no disposition to do that.

Out of villains

Is LSD Good for You?

As the FDA paves the way for clinical LSD trials, scientists are exploring its medical benefits. Is acid the new Xanax? Plus, from Angelina to The Beatles, a gallery of celebrity trippers.

LSD acid tripBob Wold doesn't seem like your typical acid tripper. A happily married 56-year-old contractor with four kids who lives the suburbs of Chicago, he had never considered taking psychedelic drugs until about 10 years ago. At the time, he was suffering from cluster headaches—known as "suicide" headaches because they're so painful—for 12 hours a day, and he was spending more than $20,000 a year on medication. Then he read a post on a support-group Web site from someone who said they'd found a miracle cure for their own cluster headaches: LSD.

Wold decided to try it. "Compared to brain surgery," he says, "taking a couple hits of LSD looked a lot more attractive." But ever since a bust of the country's biggest LSD lab nine years ago, the drug has become much harder to find. So Wold got his hands on the closest equivalent he could think of: psilocybin "magic" mushrooms (though he has since switched to LSD, which he says works better). The psychedelics arrived in a brown box at his doorstep from a long-distance dealer. He took one dose: about 1.5 grams. "In 15 minutes I could feel the difference," he says. "My head was clearer than it had probably been in the past 20 years. Other medications felt like they were just covering it up." But on acid, "All the pressure was gone."

Click Image Below to View Our Gallery of Famous
Acid Users

Article - Celebs on LSD - Gallery Launch

Most people with headaches aren't going to purchase an illegal drug. And soon, they may not have to. For the first time in four decades, the government is cracking open the door to studies looking into the medical benefits of LSD. If such studies bear fruit—and early results are promising—people like Wold may someday be able to pick up an LSD pill at their local pharmacy.

The watershed moment came last September, when the FDA approved a clinical trial on the use of LSD to treat anxiety in cancer patients. According to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (or MAPS), it was the first time since the 1960s that a medical study involving LSD was permitted by the federal government. MAPS Director Rick Doblin called it "a symbol that the psychedelic renaissance is here."

Insurance Hypocrisy: Property more important than People

It didn't take very long for the conservative Republicans in the SouthEast, who have been yelling a lot lately about how Government is never the answer, to change their tune and beg for government assistance in the wake of widespread flooding. But I resisted posting a story about that, since I hate to hit people when they are down (even ignorant people).

But that was before I found a couple of stories about how the very same people who are opposing government health insurance, are for the exact same thing, but only if it applies to property and not to people's health. So if your property floods, and you didn't bother to purchase flood insurance, then they are all for the government bailing you out. But if you get sick and don't have health insurance, you can die for all they care.

For example, when Hurricane Katrina hit the home of then Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, and he hadn't purchased flood insurance, he introduced a bill to provide retroactive insurance to flood victims such as himself. Retroactive benefits were also supported by Mississippi's other Senator, Thad Cochran, and by governor Haley Barbour. But all three of these Republican have fought health care reform.

Not only does the government pay for disaster relief, the government also subsidizes flood insurance. So the next time someone screams about not wanting to use taxpayer money to finance health insurance, ask them why taxpayer money is spent on flood insurance. Several states, including Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, are lobbying the government to further subsidize flood insurance programs to the tune of an additional $80 billion. Recall that Texas and Louisiana loudly rejected some of the money from the recent stimulus bill, but that isn't stopping them from asking for an even bigger handout from the federal government.

And while insurance companies will reject you for preexisting conditions, for property the situation is just the opposite — if you live in an area that floods often, such as a hurricane zone, your flood insurance is even cheaper because it is subsidized:

Subsidizing flood insurance for those who live in hurricane zones makes it cheaper for people to live in those zones. This attracts more people to these areas then would naturally choose to live there.

When a hurricane inevitably destroys these areas again, the government will have to pay billions of dollars in insurance claims. Then they will spend more money redeveloping the area. Then they will again offer subsidized flood insurance to the residents of the area, lowering the cost of living, and thereby encouraging more people to move there. Then another hurricane will hit the area…

This has happened so many times before. It will likely happen again and again in the future.

So, why is it acceptable to have a public option for property insurance, but not for health insurance?

Magical Thinking


by Hervé Kempf

photoOf course, we - enlightened Westerners of the 21st century - have nothing in common with the pathetic tribes that worshiped the cargo ship or attached supernatural powers to the spirits of the forest. No, we're rational, free, aware, hard-core holdouts against the slightest trace of magical thinking. Magical thinking? The idea that, confronted with an inextricable situation, mysterious forces will intervene - if only one knows how to approach them with the appropriate propitiation - and resolve the dilemma.

    Oh, an electric car! It's clean; it's beautiful; it doesn't pollute; it's on its way. And, voilĂ ! We're rid of this diabolical problem of the gasoline engine car that emits all that CO2. Oh, thank you, thank you, Technology; thank you miraculous Power of Research and Development; thank you Engineers and Researchers, priests of the perfected world; thank you selfless Capitalists; thank you Automobile Industry in the service of humanity!

    Is this a caricature? No. In terminal capitalism, technology is a magical thought, designed to shrug off the delicate questions generated by the shape of social relations in this phase of history. For the car, as much as it is a technical object, is also a social usage.

    The central point in the issue of the electric car: Where does the electricity come from? For the most part in the world, from coal combustion.

    To the point that the absence of CO2 emissions from the car is offset by the CO2 emissions from electricity production. And between now and whenever renewable energy sources are at a level adequate to take over, the water will have run under the bridges. Nuclear energy? Magical thinking. Line up the billions of euros and shove nuclear waste and the risk of accidents under the carpet.

    Another point: The manufacture of cars and their components (notably the lithium battery) has a major environmental impact. We need to work on a total assessment of the object from production to final disposal. A so-called "life-cycle" analysis is startlingly absent from the debates.

Community Chest