Koch-funded climate change skeptic reverses course

 

 

 

Former climate change skeptic Richard A. Muller, in a New York Times op-ed, stepped back from his earlier dismissal of global warming. (Los Angeles Times / March 30, 2011)

By Neela Banerjee This post has been updated, as indicated below.

July 29, 2012, 12:28 p.m.

 

WASHINGTON – The verdict is in: Global warming is occurring and emissions of greenhouse gases caused by human activity are the main cause.

This, according to Richard A. Muller, professor of physics at UC Berkeley, MacArthur Fellow and co-founder of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project. Never mind that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and hundreds of other climatologists around the world came to such conclusions years ago. The difference now is the source: Muller is a long-standing, colorful critic of prevailing climate science, and the Berkeley project was heavily funded by the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, which, along with its libertarian petrochemical billionaire founder Charles G. Koch, has a considerable history of backing groups that deny climate change.

In an opinion piece in Saturday’s New York Times titled “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic,” Muller writes: “Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

The Berkeley project’s research has shown, Muller says, “that the average temperature of the Earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.”

He calls his stance now “a total turnaround.”

[Updated, 4:17 p.m., July 29: Tonya Mullins, a spokeswoman for the Koch Foundation, said the support her foundation provided, along with others, had no bearing on the results of the research. “Our grants are designed to promote independent research; as such, recipients hold full control over their findings,” Mullins said in an email. “In this support, we strive to benefit society by promoting discovery and informing public policy.”]

Some leading climate scientists welcomed Muller’s comments, proof, they argued, that the science is so strong that even those inclined to reject it cannot once they examine it carefully.  Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, said that Muller’s conversion might help shape the thinking of the “reasonable middle” of the population “who are genuinely confused and have been honestly taken in” by attacks on climate science.

On his Facebook page, Mann wrote: “There is a certain ironic satisfaction in seeing a study funded by the Koch Brothers – the greatest funders of climate change denial and disinformation on the planet – demonstrate what scientists have known with some degree of confidence for nearly two decades: that the globe is indeed warming, and that this warming can only be explained by human-caused increases in greenhouse gas concentrations. I applaud Muller and his colleagues for acting as any good scientists would, following where their analyses led them, without regard for the possible political repercussions.”

Muller’s conclusions, however, failed to sway the most ardent climate contrarians, like Marc Morano, a former top producer for Rush Limbaugh and communications director for the Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who now runs the website climatedepot.com.  “Muller will be remembered as a befuddled professor who has yet to figure out how to separate climate science from his media antics. His latest claims provide no new insight into the climate science debate,” Morano said in an email.

Muller’s New York Times commentary follows research he did last year that confirmed the work of scientists who found the Earth’s temperature was rising. In the past, Muller had criticized which global temperatures were used in such research, contending that some monitoring stations provided inaccurate data.  Now, Berkeley’s research has weighed in on the causes of the temperature rise, testing arguments climate contrarians have used.

“What has caused the gradual but systematic rise of two and a half degrees?” Muller writes. “We tried fitting the shape to simple math functions (exponentials, polynomials), to solar activity and even to rising functions like world population. By far the best match was to the record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, measured from atmospheric samples and air trapped in polar ice.”

Muller asserted that his findings were ‘stronger’ than those of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental  panel. Yet,  neither Berkeley’s research from last year or the new findings on causality have been published in peer-reviewed journals, which has raised criticism and concerns among climatologists and contrarians alike.

Benjamin D. Santer, a climate researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a lead author of the 1995 U.N. climate report, said he welcomed the involvement of another research group into “detection and attribution” of climate change and its causes. But he also said he found it troubling that Muller claimed such definitive results without his work undergoing peer-review.

“If you go into the public arena and claim to have generated evidence that is stronger than the IPCC, where is the detailed, scientific evidence? Has he used fundamental new data sets?” Santer said. “Publish the science and report on it after it’s done.”

He added: “I think you can do great harm to the broader debate. Imagine this scenario: that he makes these great claims and the papers aren’t published? This (op-ed) is in the spirit of publicity, not the spirit of science.”

Elizabeth Muller, co-founder and executive director of the Berkeley project and Richard Muller’s daughter, said the papers had been peer-reviewed, but not yet published. But because of the long lead-up to publication, the Berkeley team decided to place its papers online, in part to solicit comment from other scientists. She said all the papers, including the latest, would be on the BerkeleyEarth.org website by Sunday evening.

“I believe the findings in our papers are too important to wait for the year or longer that it could take to complete the journal review process,” Elizabeth Muller wrote in an email. “We believe in traditional peer review; we welcome feedback [from] the public and any scientists who are interested in taking the time to make thoughtful comments. Our papers have received scrutiny by dozens of top scientists, not just the two or three that typically are called upon by journalists.”

 

The New Jim Crow

Jarvious Cotton cannot vote.

Like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, he has been denied the right to participate in our electoral democracy. Cotton’s family tree tells the story of several generations of black men who were born in the United States but who were denied the most basic freedom that democracy promises—the freedom to vote for those who will make the rules and laws that govern one’s life. Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in theUnited States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.

Cotton’s story illustrates, in many respects, the old adage “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” In each generation, new tactics have been used for achieving the same goals—goals shared by the Founding Fathers. Denying African Americans citizenship was deemed essential to the formation of the original union. Hundreds of years later,Americais still not an egalitarian democracy. The arguments and rationalizations that have been trotted out in support of racial exclusion and discrimination in its various forms have changed and evolved, but the outcome has remained largely the same. An extraordinary percentage of black men in theUnited Statesare legally barred from voting today, just as they have been throughout most of American history. They are also subject to legalized discrimination in employment, housing, education, public benefits, and jury service, just as their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents once were.
What has changed since the collapse of Jim Crow has less to do with the basic structure of our society than with the language we use to justify it. In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. So we don’t. Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color “criminals” and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind. Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury ser vice—are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living inAlabamaat the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste inAmerica; we have merely redesigned it.
I reached the conclusions presented in this book reluctantly. Ten years ago, I would have argued strenuously against the central claim made here—namely, that something akin to a racial caste system currently exists in theUnited States. Indeed, if Barack Obama had been elected president back then, I would have argued that his election marked the nation’s triumph over racial caste—the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow. My elation would have been tempered by the distance yet to be traveled to reach the promised land of racial justice inAmerica, but my conviction that nothing remotely similar to Jim Crow exists in this country would have been steadfast.
Today my elation over Obama’s election is tempered by a far more sobering awareness. As an African American woman, with three young children who will never know a world in which a black man could not be president of theUnited States, I was beyond thrilled on election night. Yet when I walked out of the election night party, full of hope and enthusiasm, I was immediately reminded of the harsh realities of the New Jim Crow. A black man was on his knees in the gutter, hands cuffed behind his back, as several police officers stood around him talking, joking, and ignoring his human existence. People poured out of the building; many stared for a moment at the black man cowering in the street, and then averted their gaze. What did the election of Barack Obama mean for him?
Like many civil rights lawyers, I was inspired to attend law school by the civil rights victories of the 1950s and 1960s. Even in the face of growing social and political opposition to remedial policies such as affirmative action, I clung to the notion that the evils of Jim Crow are behind us and that, while we have a long way to go to fulfill the dream of an egalitarian, multiracial democracy, we have made real progress and are now struggling to hold on to the gains of the past. I thought my job as a civil rights lawyer was to join with the allies of racial progress to resist attacks on affirmative action and to eliminate the vestiges of Jim Crow segregation, including our still separate and unequal system of education. I understood the problems plaguing poor communities of color, including problems associated with crime and rising incarceration rates, to be a function of poverty and lack of access to quality education—the continuing legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. Never did I seriously consider the possibility that a new racial caste system was operating in this country. The new system had been developed and implemented swiftly, and it was largely invisible, even to people, like me, who spent most of their waking hours fighting for justice.
I first encountered the idea of a new racial caste system more than a decade ago, when a bright orange poster caught my eye. I was rushing to catch the bus, and I noticed a sign stapled to a telephone pole that screamed in large bold print: The Drug War Is the New Jim Crow. I paused for a moment and skimmed the text of the flyer. Some radical group was holding a community meeting about police brutality, the new three-strikes law inCalifornia, and the expansion ofAmerica’s prison system. The meeting was being held at a small community church a few blocks away; it had seating capacity for no more than fifty people. I sighed, and muttered to myself something like, “Yeah, the criminal justice system is racist in many ways, but it really doesn’t help to make such an absurd comparison. People will just think you’re crazy.” I then crossed the street and hopped on the bus. I was headed to my new job, director of the Racial Justice Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) inNorthern California.
When I began my work at the ACLU, I assumed that the criminal justice system had problems of racial bias, much in the same way that all major institutions in our society are plagued with problems associated with conscious and unconscious bias. As a lawyer who had litigated numerous class-action employment-discrimination cases, I understood well the many ways in which racial stereotyping can permeate subjective decision-making processes at all levels of an organization, with devastating consequences. I was familiar with the challenges associated with reforming institutions in which racial stratification is thought to be normal—the natural consequence of differences in education, culture, motivation, and, some still believe, innate ability. While at the ACLU, I shifted my focus from employment discrimination to criminal justice reform and dedicated myself to the task of working with others to identify and eliminate racial bias whenever and wherever it reared its ugly head.
By the time I left the ACLU, I had come to suspect that I was wrong about the criminal justice system. It was not just another institution infected with racial bias but rather a different beast entirely. The activists who posted the sign on the telephone pole were not crazy; nor were the smattering of lawyers and advocates around the country who were beginning to connect the dots between our current system of mass incarceration and earlier forms of social control. Quite belatedly, I came to see that mass incarceration in theUnited Stateshad, in fact, emerged as a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow.
 

http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Crow-Incarceration-Colorblindness/dp/1595581030

“I was in love with the idea of Obama.”


Urgent! The White House announced that in a big speech tomorrow, President Obama will do what no Republican President has been able to do: Put Medicare and Medicaid on the table for potential cuts.

Many former Obama volunteers, donors, and voters are deeply disappointed. A Democratic Congressman said on MSNBC last night that Obama needs to “act like a Democrat.”

Will you sign this urgent pledge, which we’ll deliver to the Obama campaign?

“President Obama: If you cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits for me, my parents, my grandparents, or families like mine, don’t ask for a penny of my money or an hour of my time in 2012. I’m going to focus on electing bold progressive candidates — not Democrats who help Republicans make harmful cuts.” Click here to sign.

Below are some amazing notes from Obama volunteers who worked passionately for the President in 2008.

Many people still want to believe in President Obama. But the White House needs to understand that their actions now will have real consequences for 2012. The level of grassroots enthusiasm will be determined by whether the President fights for bold progressive change — and takes cuts that hurt grandparents, the disabled, and kids firmly off the table.

The White House will absolutely be watching the progress of this petition. And we’ll deliver the pledge signatures to the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago.

Please sign today — then, pass it to others who worked to elect President Obama in 2008.

 


NOTES FROM ACROSS THE NATION:

Susan Carpenter, Obama volunteer from Ohio:

“Like many volunteers on his campaign, I was in love with the idea of Obama. I haven’t given up on him quite yet, but I’m mustering the energy to work on the resistance. He needs to know who we are.”

John Rotolo, Obama volunteer from Florida:

“I’m almost too heartsick to comment…I’m at a loss.”

Barbara Louise Jean, Obama volunteer from Nevada:

“It’s ludicrous to cut Medicare for seniors when Wall Street created this mess without being held accountable. At 69, I’ll be in financial trouble if Medicare benefits are lowered.”

Joelle Barnes, Obama volunteer from Pennsylvania:

“This is like a knife through my heart! This is a Republican thing!”

Suzanne Fair, Obama volunteer from Maryland:

“I know he has to compromise sometimes, but it seems that he is caving to the Republicans far too often. We elected him for real change and I would like to see him stand strong against the corporate rich.”

Margaret Copi, Obama donor from California:

“I contributed more to Obama’s campaign than I have to anything else in my life, but no more dollars from me and definitely not a moment of volunteer time, unless he makes huge shifts and starts to fight for the peoples’ interest.”

Frankie Perdue, Obama volunteer from Colorado:

“I do not think that Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security should be on the negotiating table at all. Have the corporations pay their fair share of taxes.”

Deborah Finn, Obama volunteer from North Carolina:

“This is wrong! We did not elect Obama to have him make cuts in valuable, important programs. He needs to stand up to the Republicans. And he needs to speak to the American people about why it is morally wrong to cut the programs.”

Michaele Bonenberger, Obama volunteer from South Dakota:

“This does not sound at all like the Barak Obama that I worked so hard to get elected in 2008.”

Dotty Hopkins, Obama volunteer from California:

“It makes it hard to gin up enthusiasm for 2012. More like hold your nose and vote again! As a former Obama volunteer, I’m already worrying about my lack of desire to do any campaigning and I’m on our County Central Committee for heaven’s sake.”

The White House needs to hear your voice — sign our pledge today. Then pass it on to others.



Middle East Strange Things of the Day

 

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 07:56 PM PDT

By Barry Rubin

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has hinted that the United States and Britain might arm the Libyan rebels. Don’t you think it’s important to know who these people are before arming them and putting them in power? U.S. officials are basically admitting that they simply don’t know the political composition of the opposition so how can they be given full backing?

Oh, right, that’s just what they did in Egypt.

Now it is being reported that two weeks ago President Obama authorized covert operations on the ground in support of the rebels. Consider this scenario: The rebels attack and perhaps capture a pro-Qadhafi town (Sirte, for example), levelling it in the process, and killing civilians either through indifference to casualties or murder of those considered tribal enemies and supporters of the dictatorship.

How would this compare to a mission defined as protecting civilians?

At the same time, though, the use of covert operations makes sense and the CIA will be able to get a better picture of the rebels. But the CIA has been the U.S. government institution that seems to believe that if an Islamist isn’t in al-Qaida then he’s moderate. So the quality of the reporting is a concern. And what if operatives are worried about the rebels but are ignored or overruled by the White House?

I hope we get some good leaks on what they are finding out in Libya.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the “target dates for reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on permanent status issues and completing the Palestinian Authority’s two-year state-building program are fast-approaching.”

What target dates? This notion that the conflict must be settled right away (or else what? Egypt and Tunisia will have revolutions? Libya will have a civil war? Iran will launch a campaign to get nuclear weapons? Hamas will take over the Gaza Strip?) on the Palestinian Authority’s terms is absurd.

And since when did the PA’s claim that it would be ready for a state in two years become internationally accepted as the framework for global action?

 

Flash: Bashar al-Assad to Demonstrators: Surrender or Die 

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 07:42 PM PDT

By Barry Rubin

Nowadays, Western officials and journalists seem to think that if you are a Middle East dictator and people start demonstrating you might give up, pack your bags, let your Swiss banker know to get the money ready, and make a run for it.

That’s an illusion. The question is really: Who are the people with the guns supporting?
In Egypt and Tunisia, revolutions were easy because the armies supported them. In Algeria, Iran, Jordan, and Syria things are rather different.

And so faced with large demonstrations, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad took a traditional approach, which in American cultural terms might be described by a quote from “Dirty Harry”: “Think you’re lucky, punk? Make my day!”

Assad’s message is this: No concessions. American and Zionist agents are attacking me because I’m such a great Arab nationalist and friend of Islam. Rally around me and we’ll repress them no matter how many I have to kill.

I’m not saying I admire this approach but, frankly, it still works, as long as you have a strong base of support and the backing of those with the guns. Assad apparently has both.

To begin with, the Alawite minority community to which he belongs is behind him because it knows that a revolution would mean the end of its wealth, privileges, and even lives. The Christians also back the regime because they fear Islamism. That’s about one-quarter of the population. And the Alawites control the elite armed forces’ units.

Then there are the Sunni Muslims who make up about 60 percent of the population. Some of them are attracted to democratic reform; some to revolutionary Islamism; some to both. Yet many do back the regime because of its record of being so Islamist in its foreign policy: anti-American, anti-Israel, and pro-Iran, Hamas, Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq, and Hizballah.

A lot—but by no means all—of the demonstrations have been in the poor south. The other big bloc of opposition is the Kurdish minority. But they have been cautious since the last time they revolted the Arabs didn’t help them. They don’t want to take a risk. Assad’s hardline is more likely to make them play it safe.

My sympathies are with democratic reformers, but my analysis says that from his own standpoint Assad did the right thing. This is the precise opposite of how Westerners look at the situation. They assume that a hardline policy will make the people angrier and intensify the revolt. In fact, if the regime is serious about repression and has a large base of support, a tough stand it will put down the opposition.

Iran had a revolution in 1978-1979 not because the shah was too tough but because he was too soft—that’s an analysis, not a value judgment. Iraq didn’t have a revolution after the 1991 defeat in Kuwait because Saddam Hussein used his iron fist. In Egypt, the message that the military is for change and the regime is vacillating led to a flood of opposition and the fall of the regime. This is what President Husni Mubarak meant when he said that President Barack Obama didn’t understand Arab culture.

If you show weakness, you’re as good as dead. Needless to say this is a major problem with current U.S. Middle East policy. In the Middle East, nice guys don’t just finish last, they don’t finish at all.

To complete the picture, Assad appeared relaxed during the speech and laughed at several points. The image he’s building is: I’m not worried at all. If he were to show fear and weakness, his allies would start deserting him and going over to the other side. (That’s sentence also applies to U.S. policy.)

True, he gave some lip service to reforms and fighting corruption. But basically that’s what Assad has been saying for 11 years and he has changed nothing. With the U.S. government labeling him a “reformer” with such a record, there’s no pressure to do anything different. From the standpoint of the Syrian dictatorship—and I don’t say this lightly—it has U.S. support. Even to talk as if Assad might actually reform anything is a joke.

His father killed between 10,000 and 20,000 people in a minor revolt in Hama in 1982. So far in this upsurge he’s only killed 60. And Bashar is trying to be his father. He knows that he has nothing to fear internationally no matter what he does. One can almost see Bashar looking up (though looking down would be more accurate!) and saying, “Are you proud of me now, dad?”

The key factor that could prove this analysis wrong is whether Sunni Arabs desert the regime in large numbers. If they do so, they could go toward either Islamism or a moderate pro-democratic stance. Another indication is if the Kurds rise up that will be because they think the Sunni Arabs are likely to make a revolution.

But for the time being my analysis is that this regime is going to survive by being brutal.

 

Egypt Leaves the Anti-Iran Bloc 

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 10:09 AM PDT

By Barry Rubin

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil el-Arabi said, “The Egyptian government doesn’t consider Iran to be an enemy state. We’re opening a new page with all countries, including Iran.” President Anwar al-Sadat cut relations with Iran in 1979, at the time of the Islamist revolution.

For three decades, Egypt’s government has seen Tehran as a threat and a rival on many levels:

–Persian versus Arab.

–Shia versus Sunni.

–A challenge to Egypt’s national interest and leading role in the region.

–A destabilizing factor, producing war, terrorism, and revolution in the region.

–In line with Egypt’s alliance with the United States–albeit for its own interests–Egypt opposed the spread of Iranian influence.

But now, as I pointed out at the beginning of the revolution, this has all changed. Obviously, Egypt’s government has the right to do what it wants in its relations with Iran. But equally obviously this is a big setback for U.S. interests in containing and combatting Iran’s power.

The next step will no doubt be Egypt’s rapprochement with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.

All of this was completely predictable, but nobody in the U.S. government and very few in the media, saw it coming.

Afghanistan: Slave Nation

They believe in a religion that is grounded in the 13th century.
If someone insults the pope, he doesn’t send people out to kill you.
If you insult a Rabbi he doesn’t send people out to blow you up.
These people do.
Their beliefs haven’t evolved like Christianity and Judaism.
Those two are thousands of years old.
Islam is 700 years old.
A guy, usually a minority, gets drawn into or is a member of the community of Islam and typically is doing okay in America, then he has marital problems, and financial problems.
He gets depressed and wants to die, and rather than die a loser, he can die as a hero.
They convince themselves that they are acting as weapons of Islam.
We kill some Muslims in Afghanistan and they try to kill some of us.
Sometimes they use this as an excuse for their own failures .
Sometimes their frame of mind is, “They killed a hundred of us, in this or that village so we are going to kill a hundred of them.”
We need to fight these Jihadi with power and vigor.
We have to be honest with each other, Islam, or at least a significant portion of it, has declared those who don’t follow their religion to be the enemy.
They don’t wish to be brought into the 21st Century, they think the 13th century was better.
They see influence with their atavistic religion as blasphemy.
Their beliefs codify oppression of Jews and Christians, and returning woman to the “good old days”, when one could beat and rape his wife, and she was a slave.
That’s the bottom line.
As you can plainly see in Afghanistan and Gaza, when this portion of Islam gains power they are brutal to the extreme.
To me, however, the most obvious crimes of these Islamic  Republican Governments or regimes is their treatment of women.
The religion is primitive
We have to fight them, but I do think one idea might help a little.
We should change our role in Afghanistan to where we are bombing less and causing less casualties.
We should, the civilized world, tell the Muslim countries that are brutalizing and enslaving women, that this is a crime, and we are not  going to tolerate it.
The burka is not a fashion statement, it is a sign if inferiority, a sign of submission.
In Afghanistan women are forced to wear burkas that cover them head to foot, with a small gauze outlet, so that a man can’t get a good look at her eyes and be tempted to rape her.
Their have been women in Islamic countries that have been sentenced to be publicly whipped, after reporting a rape.
Because Islamic judges determined that the women in question seduced the rapist by, perhaps a glimpse of hair, or not having the gauze over her eyes, or dancing.
Some people have said to me, “Well, that’s their custom, it’s not up to us to make them change their customs.”
If their customs allow them to brutalize woman and girls, and basically prevent a female from having any opportunities in life other than having babies on demand, and their customs allow men to beat women for whatever reason,
We have every right in the world to interfere.
We have the duty to interfere.
Women’s groups in Afghanistan have ask for protection, what the military calls security.
There are stories of barbarians overpowering civilizations because the civilized countries didn’t realize the nature of the threat from the barbarians.
They attack us in Gaza and from Gaza, and the world hears about the  “quaint Arab chieftains” of Hamas suffering under our oppression.
One important factor in our thinking should be a consideration of what the impact of casualties will be over time.
A certain amount of innocent people will be killed in any type of warfare, what is the impact of that going to be?
Imagine you are sitting at home, you haven’t done anything harmful, and suddenly a missile crashes through your roof and wipes out half your family.
Then you walk up and down the street, and your neighbors homes have been bombed too.
People are killed and crippled all around you.
Then imagine the military shows up and says, “Well, we were after so and so, and to get to him we had to soften up this area. Sorry. It’s for a good cause.”
Or, “We shelled your house by mistake.”
I’m just wondering, will we be creating as many terrorists as we kill?
I’m just wondering what the ratio would be, 10 terrorists for every innocent person we shell?
Less or more?
Afghanistan is asymmetrical warfare, we are not going to conquer the Radical Islamicists in the usual sense of the word.
What we may need to do in Afghanistan is change the focus of the mission from killing Taliban members to protecting the people of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan women’s groups have asked for security, for protection of the schools where girls are learning, for the first time in their lives, many of them.
They have been told that we can’t afford it, or in the words of one Congressman, “We expect you to take care of that yourselves.”
If we were dealing directly with women’s rights, at least the women of Afghanistan would support us.
Slavery is wrong, whether the slave is black or white or male or female.
The literal enslavement of women in Afghanistan  is a horror that goes unremarked upon for the most part.
I saw an interview with an Afghanistani woman recently, she had 8 kids, she didn’t want anymore, but her husband did.
She was asked, “Who will make the decision?”
She pointed to her husband and said, “He does. We have no choice.”
The  reporter, a woman, asked, “Do you know what rape is?”
The woman’s eyes grew large, and she looked uncomprehending, “No.” she answered, quietly.
This abuse of human beings should be stopped.
That should be the focus of our efforts in Afghanistan.

Right and Wrong and Humanity

Government has a role as being the facilitator of our better natures.
Most of us would agree that the luck of being born into a wealthy family does not make one a better person than someone who has the misfortune to be born in Haiti.
I don’t know if you would agree with this, but studying  IRS data and reporting has demonstrated that large numbers of Americans were born “super rich”, and have never known a single solitary want in their lives, at least, materially.
They and those with whom they associate run the country, and sometimes they do a very poor job of it.
What is required is a major shift.
The evil that is propagated by such individuals as Rush Limbaugh, has to be exposed for what it is.
If you study history and have a rudimentary knowledge of logic and reason and philosophy and metaphysics it is obvious that the world and civilization and technology are evolving.
Surely all the blood and sweat and history of a thousand years is not going to reach its epitome by being a world that is safe for those who inherit money, and cruel and brutish for everyone, or the majority of everyone, else.
No, the definite trend in social evolution, or cultural evolution, or civilization’s evolution, is altruism, and equality, for all.
To many, change is a scary thing, even the “enemy”.
Remember how many on the right railed against the word “change” in the Obama campaign?
Some are upset that Obama has acknowledged the harm America has sometimes caused around the world, but how to you get beyond the wrongs you have done if you won’t even acknowledge them?
Countries make mistakes, and sometimes they are not mistakes, they are deliberate.
Hitler did not mistakenly murder millions.
Hitler was able to convince millions of Germans that the most ridiculous policies were the answer to Germany’s, and Europe’s serious problems.
Some people hate Obama.
Most people can see that Obama is a decent man, in a tough situation, in a world filled with crisis.
The people on the right need to educate themselves out of the layers of disinformation spread by the professional conservatives, the Limbaughs and the Hanittys and that group, that earn a fortune building an edifice of hate and self agrandizement.
I am speaking to the people who work and care about their neighbors and their families and the world we share.
We are not going to return to the fifties in America.
And we are not going to return to the 7th century, as desired by the conservatives in Islam.
We are going to move forward, the only question is the nature and strength of the opposition to human progress, and the form of progress, not whether there will be human progress.

What’s In It For Limbaugh?

It’s been my experience in life that if people don’t want to help others, it takes them no time at all to come up with an, in their view, great reason not to help.It is the easiest thing in the world.

Rush Limbaugh is smart, although you wouldn’t think so based on what he says, or his expressed views. Someone said, “To him, it’s all about politics.” I don’t think so. I think with Limbaugh it’s all about ratings and stardom and power and so on. Limbaugh cynically manipulates his audience with emotion and propaganda, he is, in fact, a hate monger.
He says, “I hope Obama fails. This thing in Haiti is perfect for Obama, he can play the compassion card, he can improve his image with dark skinned and light skinned blacks. Do you trust that money you donate to Haiti through a number given by the Obama adminstration will even get to Haiti​?”

Limbaugh peddles hate, and when times are difficult, there is a market for that.
Look at Germany in the thirties.