Apple Resigns From Chamber Over Climate Lies

Am surprised that Apple, Inc. was even part of this neo-conservative organization, but kudos for publicly leaving eventually. Exelon set a good example I guess.

Red Monks in the Green Grass

Apple has become the latest company to resign from the United States Chamber of Commerce over climate policy.

“We strongly object to the chamber’s recent comments opposing the E.P.A.’s effort to limit greenhouse gases,” wrote Catherine A. Novelli, the vice president of worldwide government affairs at Apple, in a letter dated today and addressed to Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive of the chamber. Click here to read the letter.

“Apple supports regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and it is frustrating to find the chamber at odds with us in this effort,” Ms. Novelli continued.

Apple’s resignation was effective immediately, the letter said.

[Click to continue reading Apple Resigns From Chamber Over Climate – Green Inc. Blog – NYTimes.com]

Now, if only the Congress would follow this example, and pass meaningful climate policy legislation!

From SourceWatch:

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobbying group in the United States, “used to be a trade association that advocated in a bipartisan manner for narrowly tailored policies to benefit its members. Since 1997 or so, it has become a fully functional part of the partisan Republican machine,” with CEO and president Thomas J. Donohue “raising its budget to $150M a year from corporate chiefs satisfied with his ability to move policy through a Republican Congress,” Matt Stoller wrote December 13, 2006, at MyDD.

The Chamber claims on its website that its mission is to “advance human progress through an economic, political and social system based on individual freedom, incentive, initiative, opportunity, and responsibility.”[2] It describes itself as “the world’s largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.”[3]

However, the Chamber is “dominated by oil companies, pharmaceutical giants, automakers and other polluting industries,” according to James Carter, executive director of the Green Chamber of Commerce.[4]

[Click to continue reading U.S. Chamber of Commerce – SourceWatch]

Exelon Quits Chamber of Commerce

This might be the first time I’m writing about Exelon doing something positive for the world, namely, publicly quitting the head-in-the-sand U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the Chamber of Commerce’s position regarding climate change. Kudos to Exelon for being citizens of the 21st Century!

Exelon CEO John Rowe announced that his company — the largest electric utility company in the United States — would not renew its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of its opposition to global warming action. In his keynote address to the annual conference of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the nation’s largest association of energy efficiency experts, Rowe said that the Chamber’s multi-million-dollar campaign against clean energy legislation is incompatible with Exelon’s commitment to climate change leadership. As Rowe said when he accepted a leadership award from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce in 2008:

Exelon has staked out an industry-leading position on the issue of climate change and, in the spirit of Daniel Burnham, we have launched our own “not so little plan” to eliminate the equivalent of our entire carbon footprint by the year 2020. I do not know if it will stir men’s souls, but I hope it will stir policymakers and others in our industry to action.

Confirming Exelon’s decision to ThinkProgress, a spokesperson explained that “Exelon is a big supporter of climate legislation.” Exelon is the third energy company to sever ties with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the past week, joining Pacific Gas & Electric and PNM Resources.

[Click to continue reading Wonk Room » Exelon Ditches U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Over Climate Denial ]

Of course, the G-20 is only taking tepid moves, so no energy company is going to lose much by siding with the forces of science and progress, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Oil Company Astroturf Rallies

Loverly

Hard on the heels of the health care protests, another citizen movement seems to have sprung up, this one to oppose Washington’s attempts to tackle climate change. But behind the scenes, an industry with much at stake — Big Oil — is pulling the strings.

The event on Tuesday was organized by a group called Energy Citizens, which is backed by the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s main trade group. Many of the people attending the demonstration were employees of oil companies who work in Houston and were bused from their workplaces.

This was the first of a series of about 20 rallies planned for Southern and oil-producing states to organize resistance to proposed legislation that would set a limit on emissions of heat-trapping gases, requiring many companies to buy emission permits. Participants described the system as an energy tax that would undermine the economy of Houston, the nation’s energy capital.

[Click to continue reading Oil Companies Back Public Protests of Greenhouse Gas Bill – NYTimes.com]

Opposing climate change legislation, how forward thinking!

One such group, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity went as far as having their PR agency forge letters from non-profit groups and sending them to Congress. They’ve been caught, and are attempting to blame a “temporary worker”. Uhh, yeah, right.

A public relations firm hired by a pro-coal industry group, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, recently sent at least 58 letters opposing new climate laws to members of Congress. An investigation by the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming found that a total of 13 letters sent by the firm, Bonner & Associates, were forgeries. The committee is currently investigating another 45 letters to determine whether they are fakes. The letters purported to be from groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Hispanic organizations.

Industrial Temple

Mother Jones has more:

Rep. Ed Markey’s Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming has released a new batch of bogus letters sent to members of Congress by Bonner & Associates, including one the DC-based PR and lobbying firm previously told the committee was genuine but admitted on Monday was also a fake. The letters claim to be from representatives of local senior citizens groups concerned that climate change legislation will drive up energy costs for the elderly in an already “volatile economy.”

Founded in 1984 by Jack Bonner, a former GOP Senate aide and Republican National Committee staffer, the company specializes in Astroturf campaigns—efforts to create the illusion of grassroots support around the positions of its corporate clients. The firm accomplishes this by, among other things, convincing citizens, nonprofits, and others to sign letters to lawmakers in support or opposition to various issues.

Markey’s committee has been investigating the falsified letters since late July. According to a release issued by the committee on Monday:

The five letters revealed today brings the total number of fraudulent letters to 13, now representing 9 different community groups. The letters released today were staged to appear as if they were sent by groups representing senior citizen services like the non-profit Erie Center on Health & Aging. Previous letters already made public were from the Charlottesville NAACP chapter, Creciendo Juntos, a hispanic advocacy organization, the Jefferson Area Board on Aging, and the American Association of University Women.

In a statement, Markey drew parallels between advocacy efforts to derail health care reform and those opposing global warming legislation. “We’ve seen fear-mongering with our nation’s senior citizens with health care, and now we’re seeing fraud-mongering with senior citizens on clean energy,” he said. “Lately, democratic debate has been deceptively debased by fake facts and harsh rhetoric. We must return to an honest discussion of the issues, and ensure that this sort of campaign does not further poison the well of trustworthy debate.”

[Click to continue reading Bonner’s Latest Astroturf Admission (Plus More Fake Letters) | Mother Jones]

Be Right Back

as does Talking Points Memo

But a closer look suggests a culture at Bonner and Associates that makes such deception all but inevitable. As one former employee put it, at Bonner, distortion “was the norm rather than the exception.”

Internal Bonner documents obtained by TPMmuckraker, and interviews with former employees, shed light on the modus operandi of a firm that’s known as the pioneer of astroturf lobbying — that is, creating the illusion of grassroots support for corporate-backed positions, just as corporate-backed groups like Freedom Works are currently doing in their fight against health-care reform. Bonner’s business model involves using both carrots and sticks in spurring low-paid and poorly-trained employees to convince local groups or individual voters to agree to offer nominal expressions of support for the campaigns of the firm’s corporate clients, which have included Philip Morris, the health insurance industry, and the pharmaceutical industry, among others. Often the voters or local groups know little about the legislation at hand, which is typically obscure to all but the industries affected by it — medical liability reform, say. But the resulting form letters, faxes, or phone calls are then represented to a list of targeted lawmakers — generally drawn up by the client — as genuine expressions of grassroots concern. Bonner then satisfies its client by reporting back to it on the number of communications it’s generated.

[Click to continue reading Behind The Forged Letters: Jack Bonner’s “White-Collar Sweatshop” | TPMMuckraker]

and much more on Bonner and Associates if you’re interested.

You would think such transparently false campaigns would be ineffective once exposed, but apparently Senators and Members of Congress are easily fooled, and don’t have time in their busy schedules of lobbyist dinners and fund-raising luncheons to read much news.

On The White Roof

with black curtains, near the station

Oh, wait, sorry. That’s Cream’s tune, White Room.

Any-hoo, our building had to replace its roof a few years ago, and we opted for the off-white variant. This minor change has really altered our cooling bills in the summer. I haven’t noticed an increase of heating costs in the winter either.

Roof is nearly white
[non-color corrected iPhone photo of our roof. To my eye, this photo is not quite white enough, but it’s pretty close]

Relying on the centuries-old principle that white objects absorb less heat than dark ones, homeowners like the Waldreps are in the vanguard of a movement embracing “cool roofs” as one of the most affordable weapons against climate change.

Studies show that white roofs reduce air-conditioning costs by 20 percent or more in hot, sunny weather. Lower energy consumption also means fewer of the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

What is more, a white roof can cost as little as 15 percent more than its dark counterpart, depending on the materials used, while slashing electricity bills.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics, has proselytized for cool roofs at home and abroad. “Make it white,” he advised a television audience on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” last week.

The scientist Mr. Chu calls his hero, Art Rosenfeld, a member of the California Energy Commission who has been campaigning for cool roofs since the 1980s, argues that turning all of the world’s roofs “light” over the next 20 years could save the equivalent of 24 billion metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions.

“That is what the whole world emitted last year,” Mr. Rosenfeld said.

[Click to continue reading By Degrees – White Roofs Catch On as Energy Cost Cutters – Series – NYTimes.com]

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRqjpuLFXek

Carbon Credit Market and Goldman

As I said earlier, I don’t whether the new Cap and Trade legislation is a good step or not, I don’t have enough knowledge on the details, yet. However, I’m suspicious as to who is going to take most of the profits, namely Goldman Sachs.

Midas Touch

As Matt Taibbi writes:

The new carboncredit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that’s been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won’t even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance.

Here’s how it works: If the bill passes, there will be limits for coal plants, utilities, natural-gas distributors and numerous other industries on the amount of carbon emissions (a.k.a. greenhouse gases) they can produce per year. If the companies go over their allotment, they will be able to buy “allocations” or credits from other companies that have managed to produce fewer emissions. President Obama conservatively estimates that about $646 billion worth of carbon credits will be auctioned in the first seven years; one of his top economic aides speculates that the real number might be twice or even three times that amount.

The feature of this plan that has special appeal to speculators is that the “cap” on carbon will be continually lowered by the government, which means that carbon credits will become more and more scarce with each passing year. Which means that this is a brand new commodities market where the main commodity to be traded is guaranteed to rise in price over time. The volume of this new market will be upwards of a trillion dollars annually; for comparison’s sake, the annual combined revenues of all electricity suppliers in the U.S. total $320 billion.

Goldman wants this bill. The plan is (1) to get in on the ground floor of paradigmshifting legislation, (2) make sure that they’re the profitmaking slice of that paradigm and (3) make sure the slice is a big slice. Goldman started pushing hard for capandtrade long ago, but things really ramped up last year when the firm spent $3.5 million to lobby climate issues. (One of their lobbyists at the time was none other than Patterson, now Treasury chief of staff.) Back in 2005, when Hank Paulson was chief of Goldman, he personally helped author the bank’s environmental policy, a document that contains some surprising elements for a firm that in all other areas has been consistently opposed to any sort of government regulation. Paulson’s report argued that “voluntary action alone cannot solve the climatechange problem.” A few years later, the bank’s carbon chief, Ken Newcombe, insisted that capandtrade alone won’t be enough to fix the climate problem and called for further public investments in research and development. Which is convenient, considering that Goldman made early investments in wind power (it bought a subsidiary called Horizon Wind Energy), renewable diesel (it is an investor in a firm called Changing World Technologies) and solar power (it partnered with BP Solar), exactly the kind of deals that will prosper if the government forces energy producers to use cleaner energy. As Paulson said at the time, “We’re not making those investments to lose money.”

The bank owns a 10 percent stake in the Chicago Climate Exchange, where the carbon credits will be traded. Moreover, Goldman owns a minority stake in Blue Source LLC, a Utahbased firm that sells carbon credits of the type that will be in great demand if the bill passes. Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, who is intimately involved with the planning of cap-and-trade, started up a company called Generation Investment Management with three former bigwigs from Goldman Sachs Asset Management, David Blood, Mark Ferguson and Peter Harris. Their business? Investing in carbon offsets. There’s also a $500 million Green Growth Fund set up by a Goldmanite to invest in greentech … the list goes on and on. Goldman is ahead of the headlines again, just waiting for someone to make it rain in the right spot. Will this market be bigger than the energyfutures market?

“Oh, it’ll dwarf it,” says a former staffer on the House energy committee.

[Click to continue reading The Great American Bubble Machine : Rolling Stone]

Suspicious, indeed.

Satanic Gift

Why are we privatizing cap and trade and not just making a straight tax on carbon emission?

Instead of simply imposing a fixed government levy on carbon pollution and forcing unclean energy producers to pay for the mess they make, cap-and-trade will allow a small tribe of greedy-as-hell Wall Street swine to turn yet another commodities market into a private taxcollection scheme. This is worse than the bailout: It allows the bank to seize taxpayer money before it’s even collected.

“If it’s going to be a tax, I would prefer that Washington set the tax and collect it,” says Michael Masters, the hedgefund director who spoke out against oilfutures speculation. “But we’re saying that Wall Street can set the tax, and Wall Street can collect the tax. That’s the last thing in the world I want. It’s just asinine.”

Palin knows more about energy policy than anyone else in America

Sarah Palin knows more about energy policy than anyone else in America, or so claimed John McCain. Hmm, surprisingly1 Ms. Pal-Around Palin seems to have lost most of her knowledge since last fall.

Standard Oil Co of Ind

Sarah Palin, the soon-to-be-ex-governor of Alaska, has an opinion piece (a screed, really) in Tuesday’s Washington Post in which she shrilly blasts away at “President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan,” calling it “an enormous threat” to the U.S. economy.

Palin’s thesis comes loaded with plenty of rhetoric and zero facts. It offers nothing more than assertions about the emissions reduction part of the bill, ignores the energy investment and green jobs provisions, blames “Washington bureaucrats” for hampering oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (not Congress, where elected lawmakers have repeatedly expressed the American public’s desire to keep ANWR off limits), and fails to even take note of the underlying issue—catastrophic climate change.

Couldn’t Palin’s ghostwriters have cribbed from any of the well-researched, highly technical criticisms produced by just about every conservative think tank in the land?

[Click to continue reading Palin eschews facts and economics in blasting cap-and-trade bill | Grist]

Laughable, really.

385 parts per million - Polapan Blue

Joseph Romm adds:

Amazingly, the Post has published an op-ed on climate change legislation by the governor of the state that is currently the most battered by climate change, without any discussion of climate change or its impacts on that state. Heck, even Alaska GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski pointed out in a May 2006 speech on climate change that the tremendous recent warming had opened the door to the “voracious spruce bark beetle,” which devastated over three million acres in Alaska, “providing dry fuel for outbreaks of enormous wild fires.”

In one of the most unintentionally humorous pieces of crap the Post has ever subjected on the public, Palin states:

Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges. So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be:

I am deeply concerned about President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.

Seriously.

[Silver lining note: In a perverse way, perhaps we should be grateful to the Post. Probably the best thing that could happen to climate legislation is if Palin becomes the lead spokesperson attacking it.]

Let’s set aside the rather obvious fact that the bill that doesn’t even start imposing a cap until 2012, so it’s absurd to assert it will “undermine our recovery over the short term.” The reverse case is, in fact, stronger — see Nobelist Krugman attacks “junk economics”: Climate action “now might actually help the economy recover from its current slump” by giving “businesses a reason to invest in new equipment and facilities.

Moreover, even in 2012, the total value of the allowances will be under $50 billion (in a $15 trillion economy) and all that money is going to be returned to the economy, so again, like all economic models show, the bill will have no significant negative impact.

No, what’s so laughable about this piece is that Palin wouldn’t even be considered by the Post as a suitable candidate for an op-ed on the climate bill if it weren’t for the national media’s focus on personality-driven politics.

[Click to continue reading Quitter-in-chief Sarah Palin attacks climate action and clean energy in falsehood-filled piece | Grist]

I echo the thought: the best thing for climate change legislation is probably having Sarah “Quitter” Palin as its lead opponent. More fact checking at Media Matters if you want a laugh (at Ms. Sarah Barracuda Palin’s expense). And at The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, Brad DeLong’s blog, John at Eschaton, and probably elsewhere.

For the record, I don’t know enough about the proposed Cap and Trade legislation to say whether it is something I support or not, but I do know that Sarah Palin is probably even more clueless.

Footnotes:
  1. not really []

Reading Around on July 8th through July 9th

A few interesting links collected July 8th through July 9th:

  • The New York Times > Magazine > Second Gilded Age – “A picture essay in The Times Magazine on Sunday and an expanded slide show on NYTimes.com entitled “Ruins of the Second Gilded Age” showed large housing construction projects across the United States that came to a halt, often half-finished, when the housing market collapsed. The introduction said that the photographer, a freelancer based in Bedford, England, “creates his images with long exposures but without digital manipulation.”A reader, however, discovered on close examination that one of the pictures was digitally altered, apparently for aesthetic reasons. Editors later confronted the photographer and determined that most of the images did not wholly reflect the reality they purported to show. Had the editors known that the photographs had been digitally manipulated, they would not have published the picture essay, which has been removed from NYTimes.com.”
  • PDNPulse: New York Times Magazine Withdraws Altered Photo Essay – The New York Times Magazine has withdrawn a photo essay by Edgar Martins — described in print as having been produced “without digital manipulation” — because several of the photographs show signs of digital manipulation. The photo essay, which ran in the July 5 issue of the magazine, shows abandoned real estate projects.
  • Straight Dope Chicago: Followup: Is the late arrival of summer in Chicago proof of global warming? – “Here we begin to see a pattern. The long-term winter temperature trend is up, though not dramatically. Clearly the 1950s were an unusually warm time. Considered over a shorter period, however — from the bitterly cold winters of 1977-79 to the present — winter temperatures in Chicago have risen sharply. The past decade has been the warmest stretch in the past 60 years. That’s in line with the common observation among climate-change specialists that winters have warmed up more than summers.Now look again at the early fall chart. We see the same rising trend, although it started later. The average high temperature declined until 1993, but has risen markedly since then. Is this evidence of the seasonal shift some experts claim to have detected — an unmistakable sign of global warming? Eh, 15 years is too short a time to judge. But could “


“70INX70IN Versatol Tri-pod Screen Matte White Keystone Elim.” (Da-Lite Screen Company, Inc.)

Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference – Blue tone

Coal plant looming over Indiana Dunes

From my vast, unknowable photo archives

the original photo (from my first digital camera, an Olympus C3040Z) was a little generic, so added a blue tone for atmosphere.

Clean coal is an Illusion

The Economist points out clean coal is no panacea – expensive, and more hype than reality. Politicians love mouthing the phrase, but the energy industry is not so sanguine, at least when cash is being discussed.

Withered and Died

“FACTORIES of death” is how James Hansen, a crusading American scientist, describes power stations that burn coal. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels, producing twice the carbon dioxide that natural gas does when it is burned. That makes it a big cause of global warming.

But some of the world’s biggest economies rely on coal. It provides almost 50% of America’s and Germany’s power, 70% of India’s and 80% of China’s. Digging up coal provides a livelihood for millions of people. And secure domestic sources of energy are particularly prized at a time when prices are volatile and many of the big oil and gas exporters are becoming worryingly nationalistic. It is hard to see how governments can turn their backs on such a cheap and reliable fuel.

There does, however, seem to be a way of reconciling coal and climate. It is called carbon capture and storage (CCS), or carbon sequestration, and entails hoovering up carbon dioxide from the smokestacks of power plants and other big industrial facilities and storing it safely underground, where it will have no effect on the atmosphere. The technologies for this are already widely used in the oil and chemical industries, and saltwater aquifers and depleted oilfields offer plenty of promising storage space. Politicians are pinning their hopes on clean coal: Angela Merkel and Barack Obama, among others, are keen on the idea.

But CCS is proving easier to talk up than to get going (see article). There are no big power plants using it, just a handful of small demonstration projects. Utilities refuse to make bigger investments because power plants with CCS would be much more expensive to build and run than the ordinary sort. They seem more inclined to invest in other low-carbon power sources, such as nuclear, solar and wind. Inventors and venture capitalists, in the meantime, are striving to create all manner of new technologies—bugs for biofuels, revolutionary solar panels, smart-grid applications—but it is hard to find anyone working on CCS in their garage (although some scientists are toying with pulling carbon dioxide directly out of the air instead of from smokestacks: see Technology Quarterly in this issue). Several green pressure groups, and even some energy and power company bosses, think that the whole idea is unworkable.

[click to continue reading The illusion of clean coal | The Economist]

There are better options for reducing carbon emissions, pretending that clean coal is a viable solution damages the progress in other possibilities.

from a related Economist article:

Despite all this enthusiasm, however, there is not a single big power plant using CCS anywhere in the world. Utilities refuse to build any, since the technology is expensive and unproven. Advocates insist that the price will come down with time and experience, but it is hard to say by how much, or who should bear the extra cost in the meantime. Green pressure groups worry that captured carbon will eventually leak. In short, the world’s leaders are counting on a fix for climate change that is at best uncertain and at worst unworkable.

CCS sounds beguilingly simple. It entails isolating carbon dioxide wherever it is produced in large quantities, such as the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants, compressing it and pumping it underground. The oil and chemical industries already use most of the processes that this involves, although not in combination. And oil, gas and salt water seem to stay put in certain rock formations indefinitely, suggesting that carbon dioxide should as well.

CCS particularly appeals to politicians reluctant to limit the use of coal. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels, and burning it releases roughly twice as much carbon dioxide as burning natural gas. The world will struggle to cut greenhouse-gas emissions dramatically if it continues to burn coal as it does today. Yet burning coal is one of the cheapest ways to generate power

[click to continue reading Carbon capture and storage | Trouble in store | The Economist]

Industrial Temple

boiled down to the most basic facts, the problem is the technology is too expensive to be feasible, even with governmental support.

The problem with CCS is the cost. The chemical steps in the capture consume energy, as do the compression and transport of the carbon dioxide. That will use up a quarter or more of the output of a power station fitted with CCS, according to most estimates. So plants with CCS will need to be at least a third bigger than normal ones to generate the same net amount of power, and will also consume at least a third more fuel. In addition, there is the extra expense of building the capture plant and the injection pipelines. If the storage site is far from the power plant, yet more energy will be needed to move the carbon dioxide.

Estimates of the total cost vary widely. America’s government, which had vowed to build a prototype plant called FutureGen in partnership with several big resources firms, scrapped the project last year after the projected cost rose to $1.8 billion. Philippe Paelinck, of Alstom, an engineering firm that hopes to build CCS plants, thinks a full-scale one would cost about €1 billion ($1.3 billion).

Not the answer, in other words.

Reading Around on February 27th through February 28th

A few interesting links collected February 27th through February 28th:

  • Debunking the Clean Coal Myth : EcoLocalizer – “There is no such thing as “clean coal” in the U.S. today. Coal is responsible for 32% of CO2 emissions in this country and 83% of the CO2 emissions from producing our electricity. In theory, we could retrofit this nation’s coal plants to capture their pollution and store it. Here is my question: If every single coal plant needs to be revamped to be truly “clean,” why not just invest that time and money in truly clean, renewables?” [Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Seth Anderson]
  • April Winchell » Barack Obama is tired of your motherfucking shit – Ray, a fellow classmate of Obama’s, was also bi-racial, and also trying to define himself. But what set him apart was his colorful manner of self-expression. Ray cursed like a motherfucker.

    This would all be snickerworthy enough, but it turns out that Obama actually read the audiobook version of Dreams From My Father.

    And that means he read Ray’s quotes.

    And that means you’re about to hear the President of United States using language that would finish Cheney off once and for all.

  • Chicago Reader Blogs: Chicagoland Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all: The Chicago Journalism Town Hall – “In other words: journalism isn’t dying. (Journalists are dying, of course, but even I don’t blame the Huffington Post for that.) The institutions are dying. That’s it. We’ve isolated the problem!

    Journalists (I will irresponsibly use this as a synonym for “people who work in broadcast or print,” even though we’re all kind of journalists, which I will get to later) blame the bloggers (ditto, for people who work online). Bloggers blame the journalists. Everyone blames the economy, and management. Was it Ben Goldberger in the Blog with the Aggregator? Or was it Eric Zorn in the Newspaper with the Inverted Pyramid, or Sam Zell in the Boardroom with the ESOP?”

  • John Bolton at CPAC: The Benefits of Nuking Chicago | Mother Jones – “Former UN Ambassador John Bolton believes the security of the United States is at dire risk under the Obama administration. And before a gathering of conservatives in Washington on Thursday morning, he suggested, as something of a joke, that President Barack Obama might learn a needed lesson if Chicago were destroyed by a nuclear bomb.”

    Asshole!

  • BULLS: Sam Smith: He was always Stormin’ – “Chicago understood Norm because it is known as the Second City. It is in the flyover region. Norm couldn’t crack the big time and run with the big boys, not among the playing elite and not afterward. But he never accepted being less than them and always was sticking his foot in the door to remind them he wasn’t going away.

    Norm was like us. Never really appreciated despite working so hard at it and giving everything he had every time. Norm broadcast harder than some guys played the game, and he let them know it. Someone was speaking up for us, and we loved Norm for that. And he loved us because he understood, if not accepted, rejection.”

  • SLAM ONLINE | » First Person: Norm Van Lier – “It was my dad who helped me let go of my anger. Before he died in 1988, we watched “The Godfather” together. Afterward my dad asked me, “Why do you think the Bulls owe you anything?”

    I told him about this and that, slights and slams, stuff that had grown into huge obstacles in my mind.

    “Did they pay you on time?” Yes, sir. “Were their checks good?” Yes, sir.

    “Well, then they don’t owe you a thing. So get up, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and go to work.”

    I swear, from that moment on, my attitude was completely different. I’ve not looked back since.”

  • The Sports Guy: Bill Simmons Welcome to the No Benjamins Association – ESPN Page 2 – Ru-oh.
    “For once, the league’s problems have nothing to do with talent, drugs, racial issues or how the sport is being played. With the country embroiled in its worst economic crisis in 80 years, the NBA is quietly bracing for its own little D-Day … only outsiders don’t fully realize or care. Clearly, we wouldn’t put this budding debacle on par with the Gulf War, the collapse of American car companies, the real estate quagmire, the implosion of Wall Street, the decline of the American dollar, the shaky footing of previously untouchable media institutions (newspapers, magazines, TV networks, movie studios and publishing companies), or even Vegas and the porn industry caving financially. “
  • Media Matters – Media Matters: In support of shunning – Will has made false claims about the Voting Rights Act and the New Deal. He made a claim about China drilling off the coast of Florida that was so wrong, even then-Vice President Cheney — who cited Will in repeating the claim — acknowledged it wasn’t true. When even Dick Cheney thinks you’ve gone too far in spouting pro-drilling falsehoods, you have a problem. But neither Will nor the Post corrected the error.

    Last year, Will claimed in his Newsweek column and on ABC that Social Security taxes are levied based on household income. Not true. He claimed that McCain won more votes from independents during the primaries than Obama did. Wrong. He claimed most minimum-wage earners are students or part-time employees. False. Will has even lied about Hillary Clinton’s Yankees fandom.

    Basically, George Will routinely makes false claims large and small, holds politicians to disparate standards, and engages in ethically dubious conduct on behalf of his preferred candidates.

  • The George Will Affair : CJR – Undeterred, on Tuesday, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Friends of the Earth, and Media Matters for America sent a joint letter to the Post reiterating the call for some form of correction or clarification. It cited three key problems with Will’s column: that he misused data on global sea ice levels from the Arctic Climate Research Center; that he misrepresented the World Meteorological Organization’s position on global warming and climate trends; and that he “rehashed the discredited myth that in the 1970s, there was broad scientific consensus that the Earth faced an imminent global cooling threat.”

    “George Will is entitled to his own opinions, but he is not entitled to his own facts,” the letter concluded. “We respectfully ask that you immediately make your readers aware of the glaring misinformation in Will’s column.” But the Post’s position remains the same.

Reading Around on February 20th

Some additional reading February 20th from 09:50 to 18:29:

  • Reviews: Companies Accuse Yelp Of Review Extortion, Yelp Says No Way – Some San Francisco companies have accused the review website Yelp of manipulating reviews, either in exchange for buying advertising or as punishment for refusing. Yelp flat out denies the charges. They say that the posting and removal of reviews are determined solely by an algorithm and that their sales staff has no access to the reviews. But in this detailed article published this week in the East Bay Express, several restaurants cite phone calls and emails that they say indicates otherwise.
  • 50 Greatest Guitar Albums – Guitar World – Highway 61 Revisited introduced Bloomfield…his next major recording, 1966’s East-West with the Butterfield Blues Band, … The tune “East-West,” a 13-minute exploratory fusion of blues and Indian modality that features Bloomfield’s and Bishop’s guitars, flipped the switch for long-form rock improvisation. His shimmering slide licks and shrieking, treble-toned lead on “Walking Shoes,” akin to Hubert Sumlin’s playing on Howlin’ Wolf classics like “Killing Floor,” are ghostly, needling, vicious and patently unforgettable. On the band’s showcase, “Work Song,” Bloomfield’s melodies climb through scales in a manner closer to free-jazz saxophonist John Coltrane than to B.B. King, balancing chromatic ascents and descents with radically slurred bends and off-the-beat accents. And Bloomfield’s linear single-note playing on “I Got a Mind to Give Up Living,” which acknowledges his debt to King with wrist-shaking vibrato, captures the soulful essence of simmering slow blues.
  • Media Matters – Austin American Stateman , unlike AP, others, notes Heartland Institute’s energy industry ties – Well, yesterday the Austin American Statesman came out with a story making reference to Heartland and what did they do?: He is “regarded with reverence,” said Dan Miller, a publisher at the Heartland Institute, which puts out a newsletter asserting no scientific consensus on global warming and gets money from energy corporations. […] Climate scientists, however, hold that carbon dioxide emissions have a significant effect on a changing climate. A 2007 climate change study by an international group of scientists found that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and said with “very high confidence” that the net impact of “human activities since 1750 has been one of warming.”Atmospheric and climate scientists at UT and Texas A&M University have said that temperatures will rise in Texas, coastal communities are at risk from rising sea levels in the Gulf, and weather conditions are likely to include more severe droughts and flooding.

Reading Around on February 19th

A few interesting links collected February 17th through February 19th:

  • CBS Falsely Portrays Stanford as Democratic Scandal – But as Public Citizen, Huffington Post, ABC News and Talking Points Memo all reported, Stanford and his Stanford Financial Group PAC contributed to politicians and political action committees of both parties (including $448,000 in soft money contributions from 2000 to 2001 alone) to advance his agenda of banking and money-laundering deregulation. Many others journeyed on Stanford's junkets to Antigua and elsewhere, prompting TPM to brand his company "a travel agent for Congress." (TPM has a slide show of one of those of Stanford getaways.)

    As it turns out, the list of Stanford beneficiaries is long – and bipartisan.

  • Remembering Gene – Roger Ebert's Journal – Gene died ten years ago on February 20, 1999. He is in my mind almost every day. I don't want to rehearse the old stories about how we had a love/hate relationship, and how we dealt with television, and how we were both so scared the first time we went on Johnny Carson that, backstage, we couldn't think of the name of a single movie, although that story is absolutely true. Those stories have been told. I want to write about our friendship. The public image was that we were in a state of permanent feud, but nothing we felt had anything to do with image. We both knew the buttons to push on the other one, and we both made little effort to hide our feelings, warm or cold. In 1977 we were on a talk show with Buddy Rogers, once Mary Pickford's husband, and he said, "You guys have a sibling rivalry, but you both think you're the older brother."
  • TidBITS iPod & iPhone: iPhone to Add Location Logging? – Could the iPhone soon be able to track your location in the background as you walk around? A hint that such a capability is in the works at Apple comes from a programmer friend who spent some time spelunking around inside iPhoto '09, which shows traces of being able to associate such GPS log data with photos.
  • Daily Kos: Chocolate Covered Cotton – billmon – The fatal innovation…was the rise of so-called collateralized obligations, in which the payment streams from supposedly uniform pools of assets (say, for example, 30-year fixed prime mortgages issued in the first six months of 2006 to California borrowers) could be sliced and diced into different securities (known as tranches) each with different payment characteristics.

    This began as a tool for managing (or speculating on) changes in interest rates, which are a particular problem for mortgage lenders, since homeowners usually have the right to repay (i.e. refinance) their loan when rates fall, forcing lenders to put the money back out on the street at the new, lower rates. This means mortgage-backed securities can go down in value when rates fall as well as when they rise. By shielding some tranches from prepayments (in other words, by directing them to other tranches) the favored tranches are made less volatile and thus can be sold at a higher price and a lower yield.

  • An old habit dies… hard. « chuck.goolsbee.org – "I stumbled across a likely little application that seems to fit the bill: Gyazmail. It has a very flexible UI that allows me to make it behave very Eudora-like when I want it to. It has very good search, rules, and filters. It can import all my old mail(!)

    I’m test driving it at the moment and liking it so far. Switched my work mail to it late last week, and my personal mail is still coming over one account at a time. So far so good. If you regularly contact me via email be patient while I work through this transition period."

    I'm still using Eudora on three of our most used Macs (since 1995 probably -only 14 years), but the writing is on the wall. Have to check out Gyazmail.

  • Hands on: Drop.io's private, easy file sharing with a twist – Ars Technica – Sharing information online is getting more complex than it sometimes should be. If you want to share pictures, files, plain ideas, or even faxes with friends or businesses, you can try the old e-mail standby, but you may end up joining a social network, agree to a dense privacy policy, and then track down an app made by who-knows-who to get the job done. Even starting a simple blog usually involves more time than most users can afford‚ and more features than they'll ever need. Drop.io is an intriguing, but simple, new service that is part wiki, part file sharing, and part personal secretary, with an emphasis on privacy and ubiquitous access, requiring no signup or account activation.

    Upon visiting Drop.io—pronounced as a seamless single word: "drop-ee-o"—the site presents a basic elevator pitch about its services and a short form with which to get started uploading files.

  • Fat Tire Ale Downed Near Load Of Burgers – A Good Beer Blog – Motorists on Interstate 15 were impeded by a piles of hamburgers after a truck spilled a load of the patties, blocking the northbound lanes for four hours. The driver of a tractor-trailer carrying 40,000 pounds of hamburger patties dozed off around 5 a.m., said Utah Highway Patrol trooper Cameron Roden. The truck driver's rig drifted to the left side of the freeway near 2300 North and crashed into a wall and an overhead sign, which ripped open his trailer, spilling hamburger over the north and southbound lanes of the interstate…A second truck spill east of Morgan caused minor delays. Before 7:30 a.m., a truck was heading westbound on Interstate 84 about a half-mile east of Morgan… The truck slipped off to the left, hit a guardrail, and flipped over on its side. The impact split the truck open, spilling Fat Tire Beer being shipped from Colorado, Roden said.
  • The Associated Press: Chimp owner begs police in 911 call to stop attack – Police said that the chimp was agitated earlier Monday and that Herold had given him the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in some tea. Police said the drug had not been prescribed for the 14-year-old chimp.

    In humans, Xanax can cause memory loss, lack of coordination, reduced sex drive and other side effects. It can also lead to aggression in people who were unstable to begin with, said Dr. Emil Coccaro, chief of psychiatry at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

    "Xanax could have made him worse," if human studies are any indication, Coccaro said.

  • Facebook | Home – Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

    If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

  • Big Tuna – Chicago — Anthony 'Big Tuna' Accardo, reputed crime syndicate figure, and his wife are shown as they arrive at the St. Vincent Ferrer Church in suburban River Forest to attend wedding of their son Anthony Jr, who was married to the former Janet Hawley, 1961 Miss Utah. Many top gangland bosses and other underworld figures attended the wedding under the watchful eye of law enforcement agencies
  • Home | Recovery.gov – Recovery.gov is a website that lets you, the taxpayer, figure out where the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is going. There are going to be a few different ways to search for information. The money is being distributed by Federal agencies, and soon you'll be able to see where it's going — to which states, to which congressional districts, even to which Federal contractors. As soon as we are able to, we'll display that information visually in maps, charts, and graphics.
  • George Will: Liberated From the Burden of Fact-Checking | The Loom | Discover Magazine – In an opinion piece by George Will published on February 15, 2009 in the Washington Post, George Will states “According to the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.”

    We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California, and Oklahoma combined.

    It is disturbing that the Washington Post would publish such information without first checking the facts.

  • Wonk Room » George Will Believes In Recycling – Will’s numerous distortions and outright falsehoods have been well documented by Joe Romm, Nate Silver, Zachary Roth, Brad Plumer, Erza Klein, David Roberts, James Hrynyshyn, Rick Piltz, Steve Benen, Mark Kleiman, and others. They recognized that George Will is recycling already rebutted claims from the lunatic fringe, and offer the excellent suggestion that Washington Post editors should require some minimum level of fact-checking.

    But I haven’t seen anyone comment that Will is also recycling his own work, republishing an extended passage from a 2006 column — which Think Progress debunked — almost word for word. Take a look: