IBI Watch 1/22/12

22 01 2012

What’s So Funny About International Cooperation? //

Not much, actually.  But that redirected phrase from a well-known Nick Lowe song (performed in this video by Elvis Costello) sums up three recent news items that I think belong together.  They each are instances of people on two sides of a distrustful divide doing something radical – treating each other like human beings rather than the enemy.  First, there is that Russian/US cooperation to bring badly needed fuel oil to iced-in Nome, Alaska.  Second, amid all the saber-rattling between the US and Iran over the Strait of Hormuz, US ships have rescued several Iranian vessels in recent weeks.  Third, would you believe a cooperative Indian/Pakistani food show?  Cukes, not nukes?  Meet Foodistan.  And of course, if you want the granddaddy of all ironies of this sort, try this great John McCutcheon song.  It retells a true story from World War I, and though its title mentions Christmas, its message is needed every day of the year.

 

Raising Taxes; Building the Public Sphere; Simply Amazing

Of course, that’s not really so amazing. Happens all the time.  But wait – this story comes from the reddest of red states – Oklahoma.  This NPR story is worth a listen, if only to hear of an instance where a conservative public is not in lock-step opposition to public investment.

 

The Newt and Mitt Show

Newt Gingrich – his candidacy seemingly dead – goes on to make life miserable for the all-but-coronated Romney.  With Gingrich’s South Carolina victory, the entertainment continues.  Try this funny Gingrich video, created by a Facebook friend of mine.  And here is a song that needs reviving.  Gingrich the Newt, by the Austin Lounge Lizards, is a ‘Contract for America’ classic.  (No video, but a very funny and sadly timely song!)  And Doonesbury gave us a tour of the National Museum of Newtisms.

As for Mitt Romney, he pretty much writes his own satire:  “Corporations are people, my friend.”  “I bet you $10,000.”  And his latest, revealing his effective tax rate – 15% – and saying “I get speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.”  That would be $374,000 in 2011.  Yup, not very much.  Hard to beat Mitt himself, but Stephen Colbert’s SuperPac is up to the task.  Meet Mitt the Ripper.  And though Rick Perry has left the race, his recent performance at the Squat and Gobble must be celebrated.

 

Low Tax Lowdown

Public memory span is shorter all the time.  Taxes have always been low in investment income – you have to help the holy Job Creators after all, right?  And Ronald Reagan – he cut taxes and kept them low, right?  Wrong on both counts. Check out this Paul Krugman column, or at least this chart.

 

Minnesota’s Shrinking Winter

In the past few days, we have actually had a taste of traditional winter here in the Twin Cities.  That is, a few hours of sub-zero cold, though the snow drought continues. Most people refuse to look at the big picture, relishing the warmth as if that were the most important thing in the world.  The Star Tribune’s 1/20 Letter of the Day – from Ranae Hanson of St. Paul – summed it up nicely.  The moose picture accompanies the letter for a good reason – the iconic beast’s population has shrunk dramatically in recent years, mainly because of the warming weather, in both summer and winter.  And of course we will pay a big price.  No, not the magical baloney you hear from small picture thinkers (“Next week could be four feet of snow and forty below”), but the real, science-based consequences.  For instance, exploding populations of ticks.

 

F-ing Winter  (1/19/12)

I wrote this haiku on what will probably turn out to be the coldest day of this pathetic excuse for a Minnesota winter.

 

Fierce wind, frigid blast

Frozen feel of winters past.

Fret not.  It fades . . . fast.

 

Climate Chaos – The Long View

Of course, there is much more to the climate crisis than warmer, less snowy winters in Minnesota.   I like the way Jeff Schweitzer describes our collective hubris, and selective pignorance (pretend ignorance) in this HuffPost piece.    This recent NPR story told the story of what is happening out west with the low snowfall.  This is consistent with predictions of our drying American West. And if you want the darkest view – which has an awful lot of scientific evidence to bolster it – read this Dave Lindorff piece.

 

Alternatives – Mixed Bag

It seems like every time you read a positive story about alternative energy, you find something else that creates worry.  Such is the case with these two.  First – as Lindorff pointed out in the above article, a serious response to the gravity of the climate crisis would be full-speed creation of alternative energy.  Thankfully, some big players are getting involved.  Think about all the acreage of commercial rooftops that could be home to solar energy.  And read this piece on IKEA’s new solar array.  And when you are all hopeful and energized, read this for an antidote.  It shows why we have to use utmost caution in locating windfarms.  Eagles in Minnesota already face problems from lead shot, but the statistics on anticipated deaths from wind turbines in agricultural areas give pause.

 

Welcome Back, Bill!

Muckraking just hasn’t been the same since Bill Moyers left the airwaves.  Retirement be damned, he is back with us, and do we ever need him.  Look for many links to Moyers and Company, his new show, in weeks to come.  For now, he has an interview with David Stockman – Reagan’s chief economic advisor – on money in politics.  Just in time for a dubious anniversary.  It’s been two years since Citizens United.  I found Moyers’ article announcing his return to be inspiring.

 

“Yesterday it was my birthday,

I hung one more year on the line.

I should be depressed, my life’s a mess.

But I’m having a good time!”

-Paul Simon

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