Jun 27, 2016

Interview—Climate Scientist Asserts Coming Catastrophe as Carbon Emissions Continue

National security, economic security, climate security and generational security are imperiled as the Earth's biosphere faces a threat unprecedented in scale during the span of human existence


If super storms, devastation of coastal cities, uninhabitable land regions, famine and myriad societal break-downs were not so compelling, the subject matter of climatic scientist James Hansen's literature might be dismissed as idiosyncratic and arcane.

I mean who really cares about the composition of planetary atmospheres? Dr. Hansen can take his quirky infatuation with planetary atmospheric dynamics and knock himself out in Manhattan.

In the 1980s James Hansen began using non-controversial principles of his field, physics and statistical tools, and like the turgid empiricist that he is quantified atmospheric compositions, energy retention and extrapolated how Earth might fare under specific sets of conditions.

The subject of Hansen's work had turned to Earth, and Hansen's testing of hypotheses like the consequences of industrial carbon burning on Earth, resulted in Hansen's work being recognized as bearing some relevancy to human affairs. See, for example from June 26, 1988, The Heat Is On; Calculating the Consequences of a Warmer Planet Earth, (Shabecoff, New York Times), published a couple days after Hansen told a Congressional committee it was 99 percent certain carbon dioxide and other artificial gases in the atmosphere caused global warming.

Hansen spurred massive public relations campaigns and systemic disinformation by energy and extraction corporations working to halt critical thinking, never a productive enterprise for economic entities for whom public communications work to mislead populations.

Hansen is the former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and author of Storms of My Grandchildren. He is perhaps the leading voice warning about the consequences of global warming and climatic change caused by human beings' changing the composition of the Earth's atmosphere.

Planet Earth is here to stay, but the world—including the biosphere where life on Earth lives—in 50 years won't be one we recognize, as human societies bake in the point-of-no-return, (not Hansen's extrapolation but mine).

James Hansen was interviewed by Alexander Heffner in wide-ranging talk this spring on a program called The Open Mind.

HEFFNER: I’m Alexander Heffner your host on The Open Mind. Joining me today is perhaps the world’s most famous climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, Director of Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Formerly the leader of NASA’s Space Studies, Hansen recently returned from the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Conference, where he pitched Warren Buffett and fellow investors on a carbon fee. His discussion, “Energy and Climate Change: How justice can be achieved for young people,” focused on the inter generational imperative of climate change and the harm climate disruption poses to us, Millennials and their children and grandchildren. Hansen’s newest study, alongside his European counterparts, projects more melted ice sheets, rising sea levels, and superstorms. As we have explored here on this program, the consensus of modeling forecasts, a dangerous doom and gloom, that puts in jeopardy the habitability of the planet, just decades from now. I want to welcome Jim, James, Dr. Hansen. Thank you for being here today.

JAMES HANSEN: Thank you for having me.

HEFFNER: Now, we were talking off camera. And in, in The Guardian, you said, in response to the Paris talks, “It’s really a fraud, a fake.” And I said, uh, well…

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah.

HEFFNER: People in our industry have a tendency – not this show, per se – to hyperbolize. And so I asked you off-camera – I wanted to give you the courtesy of clarifying – people know your perspective and the science that substantiates it, but I wanted to ask you to elaborate: Why a “fraud” or a “fake,” the Paris talks?

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, absolutely. Because it’s not going to reduce the emissions globally. You know, it’s analogous to the Kyoto Protocol. People clapped themselves on the back after that and pretended that it was addressing the problem, and emissions accelerated. You know, as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, then people will keep burning them, so. But they are… Of course, they are not really the cheapest, because they don’t include the cost to society: The effect of fossil fuels on human health…on, um, on climate change. We need to include those costs in the price of the fuels.

HEFFNER: Now, the argument you were making to Mr. Buffett and his colleagues, uh, reminded me of a show I did with Kate Gordon, who leads the Paulson Institute, which has created this kind of index to measure the cost of doing dirty business…

JAMES HANSEN: Mm hmm.

HEFFNER:…with carbon emissions. Was that the playbook that you went in there with, and how successful do you think your pitch was?

JAMES HANSEN: Well, I won’t know how successful until I… You know, I didn’t ask him for an answer on the spot, because I was afraid what the answer would be. But if he thinks about it, you know, he has children and he… He is a good person, I think. And once you really understand the moral implications of us continuing to burn fossil fuels – and what that’s going to mean for young people and their children – then it can change your perspective. [LAUGHS] One of my sisters said, um, “Where is Tiny Tim?” You know, we have got to… We have got to make people think about young people and what our actions mean for them. Just making more money is not a very good legacy. So in, in my remarks, I mentioned it could be his greatest legacy if he would just… Because the public… So much of the public has great respect for him. So if he would make a comment that we really need to make the price of fossil fuels honest, um, I think that could have a big effect… If I say it, you know, hundreds of people might hear; if he says it, millions of people hear it.

HEFFNER: The Buffett Rule, in the economic lexicon, was not adopted when it comes to tax reform. I remember he made a pitch to, through the Washington Post, a column there, about taxing the rich, and where has that gotten?

JAMES HANSEN: Well, well, that… Well, yeah. But that, uh, comment still rings. And I think we will address, uh, the disparity in the tax rules. I, uh… The public wants to see that fixed, and I think it will be fixed over… I am not sure how rapidly, but I believe it will be. And so I think his, his, uh, word means a lot.

HEFFNER: If you think about wildfires in California, or if you think about drought in the Midwest, alternatively you could think about Superstorm Sandy here in the Northeast, and the potential threat that looms for another Katrina or Rita type disaster on the Southern coast, the Southeast here… If you are making that pitch, the one thing Warren Buffett stays true to is his native Nebraska. How are the people of Nebraska being affected by climate change?

JAMES HANSEN: Oh well, I think… Climate change is now a global issue… It’s like…

HEFFNER: I, I appreciate that too…

JAMES HANSEN: Things like sea level rise…

HEFFNER: Mm hmm.

JAMES HANSEN: Well, if we allow the ice sheets to go unstable, we will lose the coastal cities. And more than half the large cities in the world are on coastlines. The economic implications of that are incalculable. And the number of refugees would be in the hundreds of millions. Compare that to the present number of a… A million or so is a, is a problem. Well, you are talking hundreds of millions… It may… The planet may become ungovernable.

HEFFNER: I completely acknowledge what you are saying. At the same time, realizing that politics is all visceral, and all local…

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah.

HEFFNER:…like the former Speaker Tip O’Neill said. And you are a Midwestern son.

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah.

HEFFNER: I am, I am wondering when you made that… When you constructed the pitch to a Nebraska…OK, a Nebraska constituency born and bred…

JAMES HANSEN: Mm hmm.

HEFFNER: …what made that unique? And to your mind, was there that global consciousness, or are they saying, “Not in my backyard,” or at least, “Not in my backyard yet…”

HANSEN: You know, I was quite impressed by Nebraskans. They stepped up. Some farmers stepped up and said, “We are not gonna let this pipeline, the Keystone XL Pipeline…”

HEFFNER: Mm hmm.

JAMES HANSEN: “…cross our lands.” And they recognized the… Not just the effect of that on a possible spillage on their property… But also just the fact that it is an inter generational injustice for us to continue to expand the extraction of these fossil fuels – after we realize the problems they are going to cause. You know, our parents didn’t know that they were causing a problem for future generations, but we can only pretend that we don’t know. We know very well.

HEFFNER: What I find telling is… [LAUGHS] Remembering the New York Times A 1 photo of President Obama drinking the water from Flint, Michigan, and the ambivalence in his eyes when he was sipping that glass… Well, we see the impact of lead and paint or water fountains…

HANSEN: Mm hmm.

HEFFNER: …and families are experiencing it. How do you relate your new ground breaking study here to the American family in Iowa or Nebraska?

JAMES HANSEN: That is the fundamental difficulty, you know? We don’t react until the problem is at our doorstep. And that’s what makes climate change a particularly difficult issue, because the climate system has this great inertia. Much of the response to the gases already in the atmosphere is going to occur over the next few decades and even few centuries. And another… And what makes it all the more difficult is the fact that our solutions are going to require changing the energy system, and that requires decades. So it’s a very difficult problem. But that’s… We are… That’s what we are faced with. And we have got to communicate that, this, uh, to the public. And you know, we should hope that our elected officials would help us do that… But in fact, what I find is that both political parties have substantial obligations to lobbyists, to special interests. Our democracy is not as pure as when it started out; there is too much role of money in Washington. And I find that’s true in both political parties.

HEFFNER: We were not, as a global community, paralyzed in the sense that we could not… You call it a “fraud,” but we could not agree to some basic terms… Now you say that it’s “minimal,” but…

JAMES HANSEN: Well, it’s an agreement that there is a climate problem…

HEFFNER: Right.

JAMES HANSEN: …but it’s not an agreement for a solution. You have to…

HEFFNER: What would that look like?

JAMES HANSEN: The solution has to be…recognize that we cannot allow fossil fuels to, uh… You, you… We are not only not making them pay their costs, we actually have governments who are subsidizing them. Um, you… Well, so it’s basically being unfair to young people and future generations, because the benefit of burning the fossil fuels goes to the present generation, while the future generations, uh, bare most of the cost…

HEFFNER: And you really think, Doctor, that a long term…a long term…shutdown of fossil fuels is not a viable strategy at this point?

JAMES HANSEN: Well, it’ll help… It… If, if you…

HEFFNER: It has to be short-term, or immediate?

JAMES HANSEN: No, no, it has… Oh well, it’s, it’s gonna have to be phased in. So what we advocate is a gradually rising carbon fee. Because you can’t suddenly just turn off the fossil fuels, you, it, the economic implications would be, uh, very disruptive, so. But what you can do is just add a, a rising fee…collect it from the fossil fuel companies at the, the domestic mine or at the port of entry, so it’s a very small number of sources…and you have to give the money to the public. So you don’t give the money to the government, because then it’s a tax, and a tax depresses the economy. But if you give the money to the public – especially if you divide it equally among all legal residents – it actually spurs the economy. The economic studies

HEFFNER: Do you see an instrument – other than the U.N. – that could operate as the source of global governance to institute that kind of…?

JAMES HANSEN: Oh, the United Nations cannot…

HEFFNER: …fee?

JAMES HANSEN: …cannot, um… It cannot… There is…

HEFFNER: But is there an entity that, that could?

JAMES HANSEN: The United Nations… You can’t have 190 nations sitting around, uh, a table. What you need is the major powers to agree. And that means China and the United States. It only requires those two nations. If they would say, “We are going to have a rising carbon fee…” They could also put border duties on products from countries that do not have an equivalent fee. That would be a huge incentive for these other countries to have their own fee, so they can collect the money themselves, rather than have us collect it at the borders. That would work. Economists say that would work…the World Trade Organization, that’s consistent with the rules of that…so we could do it. But it’s got… The… These, uh… The United States has to realize that there really is a problem here.

HEFFNER: You have been called a, an “alarmist,” but you are also portraying the reality of now, and the reality potentially even moreso of the future, Dr. Hansen. You must take some pride, or at least be cognizant of, if not the transformation of the vast lobbyist complex in D.C., the picture that was… the Bush administration, when that president’s team was editing out your findings of climate change being real… to a two-term presidency that may not have responded as comprehensively or acutely, um, where there is need, but that was not denying the problem – and in fact starting, beginning to address the problem…

JAMES HANSEN: I, uh, yeah, I… Unfortunately, I can’t do that, because … it… We missed an opportunity. If President Obama, at the beginning of his administration, had tried to explain…had taken this as the first issue… And it should have been the first issue, because national security, economic security, and climate security, all depend upon this.

HEFFNER: And health care – which was the first initiative – could have been interwoven into this…

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, yeah. But he has to explain it to the public. He would have to – like Franklin Roosevelt – he would have to have Fireside Chats. He didn’t tend to do that. And he didn’t take this as an early issue. And he didn’t seem to understand. He took the standard Democratic approach, which is “more regulations” and, uh, they have even attempted to get taxes on it… But that’s, that’s not gonna work. The… So, you know, I, I wish I could somehow…

HEFFNER: When you say “the standard Democratic approach.” If the Republican approach was denial; “the standard Democratic approach,” you are insinuating, is “regulation”?

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, that’s, um…

HEFFNER: But expound on that…

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, well… [SIGHS] So, you know, I have explained what I think is needed…

HEFFNER: Right.

JAMES HANSEN: …a revenue neutral, rising carbon fee. Um, and I can’t get either party to take that as their position. That’s why I argue… And I am going to conclude – in a book that I am starting to write now – that we probably need a new party, right? I call it the “American Party,” or maybe the “American Revolution.” It’s, it has to be… It has to give up with taking money from lobbyists. And it has to have policies that are in the public’s best interest. And, and this issue should be central, because this is actually the place you should get money to, um… Yeah, the economy should be partly based on, uh, how we price, uh, fossil fuels.

HEFFNER: And now with the explosion of natural gas – which is really an increasing…

JAMES HANSEN: Mm hmm.

HEFFNER: …source of energy – that has been touted by this administration as a way to, hmmm…

JAMES HANSEN: It could be…

HEFFNER: …move…

JAMES HANSEN: It could be a bridge fuel, if you had a rising carbon fee, because then coal would fall off the table quickly. And things like tar sands…

HEFFNER: Mm hmm.

JAMES HANSEN: …which are very carbon intensive, they would fall off the table immediately. And temporarily, we would be using some gas, but then we would have to move off of that also, because there is a lot of gas in the ground. And when we look at the planet’s, uh, climate and carbon budget, we realize we can’t burn all that gas. So we have… You can’t take that and just replace coal with that, without this rising carbon fee. We have to… That has to be a bridge fuel.

HEFFNER: From the basic core of the research that is newest, as of…

JAMES HANSEN: Mm hmm.

HEFFNER: …summer 2016, what are you finding now about the potential pattern of climate change and disruption that is new from what you found just within the last decade?

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah. Well, I think the important thing that’s new is that we find that the freshwater that is being injected onto the ocean surface, uh, around Greenland and around Antarctica affects the ocean circulation in a way which actually enhances the melting of the ice, uh, the ice shelves that come out from the ice sheets on Antarctica and Greenland. And that’s a very dangerous amplifying, uh, feedback. Because, um, it allows… As you melt these ice shelves, it allows the ice sheets to discharge their ice to the ocean more rapidly. And, uh, there are at least several meters of sea level included in the, uh, in the vulnerable ice on Antarctica and Greenland. So there is the potential for several meters of sea level rise, relatively rapidly, because of these amplifying feedbacks. It makes things happen faster. And we are beginning to see that. The records are short, but when we look at the mass of the Greenland ice sheet, which you can now measure from the Gravity satellite very accurately – and the mass of the Antarctic ice sheet – we see that they are beginning to lose mass more and more rapidly. And we see that the, um, the oceans around, uh, Antarctic are beginning to cool from this freshwater that’s being injected from the melting ice.

HEFFNER: And plainly spoken, once those sheets melt, there is no recourse?

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah. The problem is, it takes thousands of years for ice sheets to build up. And so, sea level… If we once let the ice sheets disintegrate, those… All the coastal cities will be lost. All the history and the… The economic implications are just enormous, if we lose cities like New York City.

HEFFNER: Are we constantly monitoring the sheets? And do they have names?

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, yeah. And we now have this spectacular Gravity satellite, which can measure the gravitational field of the Earth so precisely that you can see not only that the ice sheets are losing or gaining mass, but it, how different pieces of the ice sheet are losing or gaining mass. So we are doing a pretty good job of, uh, monitoring the ice sheets. And also the ocean, because you know, the fundamental thing is that when you add CO2 to the atmosphere, it’s like putting a blanket on the planet. So it reduces, it reduces the amount of heat radiation going to space. So there is an imbalance: The amount of energy coming in from the sun exceeds the heat going out, and where is that energy going? The atmosphere has a very small heat capacity, so most of it goes into the ocean. And we now have more than 3,000 floats distributed all around the world’s ocean, which dive down into the ocean to a two kilometer depth, come back to the surface, radio the information to a satellite, so we can measure now the heat content of the ocean quite accurately. And what we see is the planet is out of energy balance: There is more energy coming in than going out, the oceans are getting warmer. And if we want to stabilize climate, we have to restore that energy balance. That’s how we come up with the fact that we had better reduce CO2 to no more than about 350 parts per million. That’s what we’ll have to do if we want to restore energy balance and stabilize climate.

HEFFNER: We had, uh, Gerardo Ceballos – I don’t know if you are familiar with that name – on, uh, the show recently. And we contemplated the potential for a mass human extinction through climate change…through weather, weather patterns that are gonna radically alter the way we are able to live, or not able to live… Hmmm, as I see you nod affirmatively…

JAMES HANSEN: Mm hmm.

HEFFNER: …in thinking about that future…what, to you, in the absence of these kind of radical steps that governments are failing to take, what is, what is the layperson watching this have, besides political capital, if they form with their brothers and sisters to make this a movement?

JAMES HANSEN: That’s the, the issue. They cannot personally solve the problem. Even if you band together with millions of people and try to reduce your emissions, there are billions of people on the planet, and there are many countries where they want to raise the people out of poverty, and they are going to burn fossil fuels, if there is no alternatives. So we have to have… We have to effect policies. Uh, governments have to step up to the job. And the job has to include making the price of fossil fuels honest, it’s very simple. And if governments would try to explain this to the public: You know, that you are gonna have to… The price of fuel at the pump is going to go up. But if the money that’s collected from the fossil fuel companies is given to the public, most people can come out ahead. So this could be explained, um… There was the director of the…an organization called Republicans for the Environment…who said, Gee, this makes a lot of sense. You could explain this in a, in a two minute elevator talk. Well, uh, so there are people who understand this, but our politicians are still too much bound by the special interests and the lobbyists and the fossil fuel money. And the public is confused because they see advertisements on television from “I am an energy voter.” The fossil fuel company makes it sound very logical: Oh, the… ..More oil in North Dakota is making the United States more energy independent and creating jobs…. Uh, yeah, it sounds logical. Unfortunately, it’s not actually what’s in our best interest, in the long run.

HEFFNER: When you describe – in the minutes we have remaining – when you describe that process by which the public would monetarily benefit – get a fee that is, that the fossil fuel companies are subjected to. How, how would you ensure that the money going to the public is not thrust back into the vicious cycle of the present scheme?

JAMES HANSEN: Sure. And on the first day that you get your dividends, you may go out and, and spend money on fuel for your present vehicle. But the next time you buy one, you would like to come out ahead. And, and you know, everything that you buy is affected by fossil fuel prices – some things more than others – so it will automatically be included… You will… When you buy things, you will tend to buy things that do not have as heavy a tax on them.

HEFFNER: It’s, it’s about creating a disincentive. That…

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah.

HEFFNER: …is the number one…

JAMES HANSEN: Right.

HEFFNER: …principle goal…

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, yeah. And as the economic studies show, … People will… Many people will change their practices, because they have other things to use their money for. They don’t want to waste it on fossil fuels, if they have alternatives.

HEFFNER: The whole idea of teaching one’s carbon footprint, is that an obsolete model of how, how are…?

JAMES HANSEN: You know… Well, you don’t even have to worry about it. You know, for example, if… As the carbon fee goes up, food that’s imported from New Zealand will become more expensive. The family… The nearby farm will be favored, because it’ll have a smaller transportation requirement. So, uh… Different things on the store shelves…

HEFFNER: Right.

JAMES HANSEN: …will have a bigger or smaller carbon footprint, and that will be reflected in their prices. So you don’t have to sit down and calculate…

HEFFNER: Right.

JAMES HANSEN: …your carbon footprint, you just pay attention to the prices of what you buy.

HEFFNER: What countries do you think are getting it right, in adopting models like the carbon fee you imagine?

JAMES HANSEN: Well, uh, no one has adopted, um, a revenue neutral, carbon fee. I have gone to about a dozen different countries and tried to persuade, um, them of such a model. It turns out that the fossil fuel industry is powerful in all governments that I have, uh, become acquainted with… So the public is gonna have to understand this. Um, it’s not easy. But, uh, the future for our children and grandchildren depends upon us getting this right, and doing it soon.

HEFFNER: Is there a country that’s come close, remotely close, to what you are imagining?

JAMES HANSEN: Well, there, there are… Sweden is a good example of a country that de carbonized its electricity. And that’s the most fundamental requirement for solving the climate problem. Because, although they still have a carbon footprint because their vehicles are using petrol…are using carbon based fuels. But you can make, uh, fuels, once you have carbon-free electricity. So they, uh, have a lot of hydro power, and they have built nine nuclear power plants. So they have completely carbon-free electricity. So they have come the closest. They have the smallest carbon footprint.

HEFFNER: Dr. Hansen, thank you for being here today, and for sharing an example of some possible progress in the future.

JAMES HANSEN: Thanks.

Jun 26, 2016

DNR Story Shows Wisconsin State Journal at Deceitful Worst

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp is featured in a propaganda piece this morning on the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal.

The writer is Steven Verburg; the writing (and presumably the editing) highlights a major reason our household no longer subscribes to Wisconsin's second largest daily.

The 2,500-word piece is the worst type of trash the State Journal puts out, illustrating how badly the Republican propaganda sheet misleads readers and shills for their favored political interests.


Online the headline reads: As DNR woes grow, former critic says she's its best protector.

That's a misleading headline.

The headline cites "woes" (caused by what or whom?) as though the DNR has passively experienced some unknown malady caused by unknown agents. In reality, Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans have worked to change the mission and operation of the DNR with Stepp on the front lines.

The headline shields Stepp in the cloak of DNR "critic" and "protector."

In the lede paragraph Verburg recites a story explaining Stepp's reluctant steps before being appointed by Scott Walker to the DNR secretary position in 2011.

The fact-based world is something different.

Scott Walker, Attorney General Bard Schimel, legislative Republicans and Stepp have devastated the resource protection and planning objectives of the agency, (most of what the DNR does is planning and soliciting input from stakeholders), and rebuilt the DNR as a tool for polluters.

Here's Verberg on Stepp:

She fought to streamline environmental regulations, earned a 'zero' rating from conservationists, gathered testimony about overzealous DNR employees, and authored a bill to criminalize state worker 'retaliation' against companies seeking pollution permits.

Frustrated by the slow pace of change, Stepp left the Senate when her four-year term ended. She worked for Republican causes until 2011 when the party took control of state government, and Gov. Scott Walker appointed her as the DNR’s top administrator.
Here I was thinking Republicans like Stepp were fronting for polluters like Menard's and other heavy donors to Walker and other Republicans.

No, Verburg assures, Stepp fought for streamlining, against the overzealous and the retaliatory.

Wow, Stepp is good.

Elsewhere, Verburg presents the DNR's Stepp as merely a passive regulator working to find common ground against Republican legislators:

'We have made terrific inroads with some the toughest critics in the Legislature against this agency who have a very skewed perception of who makes up this agency,' Stepp said.

The agency must be apolitical publicly, deferring to elected officials, Stepp said. As DNR secretary she said she has no opinion on whether environmental regulations are excessive or inadequate. The DNR’s job is to put the law into practice, she said.

Stepp is just an objective good-heated public servant; she said so herself.

Of course Stepp's opinions are easy to find. Notes Kewaunee Cares (Facebook):

She doesn't have an opinion? Stepp offered her commentary on our health and water crisis in the [heavily polluted] Kewaunee [County] through an Op-Ed piece in the Green Bay Gazette, marginalizing our problems.

Stepp writes, "The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been working for more than a year with multiple stakeholder groups to address water quality issues in and around Kewaunee County. That work is not over but based on our discussions so far, we have been able to take action on several fronts."

"The department believes in making decisions and finding solutions based on sound science and so we commissioned scientific research to gather data about the quality of wells in Kewaunee County."

That's a lot of rhetoric to begin a piece on an issue about which Stepp has no opinion.

Of course, pointing this out would require the State Journal's Verburg to dig all the way back to ... May 2016. That kind of in-depth journalism apparently is beyond the means of the WSJ.

Jun 25, 2016

Fight Against Republican Voter Obstruction Continues

Fighting Republican efforts to "to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government," (Richard Posner, Frank v. Walker).

Since 2011 Wisconsin Republicans have engineered mandatory photo voter ID and dozens of other election laws to obstruct as many non-Republican voters as possible.

This is an imperfect method of voter obstruction, but one which demonstrably is used to suppress the total number of voters likely to cast non-Republican votes.

Voting rights advocates are pursuing many actions against Republican voter obstruction laws enacted across the country by Republican-led states to achieve desired electoral outcomes for a favored political party, the Republican Party.

One action pursued by voting rights workers is in the federal court system, in which voting rights attorneys make legal claims under the Fourteenth Amendment and Section Two of the Voting Rights Act.

North Carolina

On June 21 in North Carolina, a federal judicial panel in the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, heard oral argument in North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP; Emanuel Baptist Church; Covenant Presbyterian Chruch; Barbee Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, Inc.; Rosanell Eaton; Armentia Eaton; Carolyn Coleman; Jocelyn Ferguson-Kelly; Faith Jackson; Mary Perry; and Maria Teresa Unger Palmer v. Patrick Lloyd McCrory, et al (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55712).

The voting rights plaintiffs challenge North Carolina's Republican-enacted voter suppression law, North Carolina House Bill 589 (2013), a comprehensive voter obstruction effort composed of many of the voter obstruction initiatives used in Wisconsin, Texas and other Republican-led states.

The North Carolina case is fast-tracked.

Gov. McCrory is an anti-voting rights Republican governor working to stop minority and college-aged voters from voting in an effort to consolidate Republican political control of North Carolina.

Voting rights advocates are watching North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v.
Patrick Lloyd McCrory to gauge the federal courts' inclination to uphold Fourteenth Amendment claims of liberty and Due Process against incursions by Republican-led states.

North Carolina has a sordid and violent racist history of lynchings, beatings, Jim Crow laws and other liberty-destroying practices aimed at black citizens which leave minority populations particularly vulnerable to voter obstruction efforts.

Now, Latinos and college-aged voters join blacks in being targeted for exclusion from voting by Republican voter obstruction laws in North Carolina.

Anna Baldwin, an attorney with the Voting Section, Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Dept of Justice, argued on June 21 the "cumulative" consequence of numerous North Carolina Republican voter obstruction provisions has both the intent and effect of obstruction of minority and college-aged voters in North Carolina.

Other voting rights attorneys arguing the case, (16-1468), before the federal panel include Penda Hair and Allison Riggs who spoke to the discriminatory intent and effect of North Carolina's voter obstruction law.

Three voting rights cases were ordered consolidated for trial in 2015: North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v. McCrory; League of Women Voters v. North Carolina and United States of America v. North Carolina.

Earlier this year Republican U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder allowed the North Carolina obstruction laws to take effect.

The federal panel hearing the case is composed of federal judges: Diana Gribbon Motz, James A. Wynn Jr., and Henry F. Floyd.

Wisconsin cases before the federal courts are One Wisconsin Institute v. Nichol (U.S. District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin (Case 15-cv-324)) and Frank v. Walker.

As with North Carolina, Wisconsin Republicans are hostile to minority and college-aged citizens who vote against Republicans.

Jun 23, 2016

Madison, Wisconsin Police Chief Mike Koval Needs to Resign

Thin Blue Line is alive and dangerous in Madison, Wisconsin
" No flag can cover the shame of the cowardice of cops who
use difficult situations as a license to act on their
own aggressive, bullyish tendencies, (Hotchkin, CopBlock).

Madison police are a clear and present danger to the community; decision expected today on charges or no charges by District Attorney's office


Updated - A young black woman got the shit kicked, tased and punched out of her this week in Madison, Wisconsin.

Any Madison city official silent is complicit.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval is one piece of work, and should leave office to his taxpayer-financed pension.

Let's be plain. Koval is a jackass.

Maybe Koval could move to New Orleans or Florida, live it up in his retirement and give the people of Dane County a break. Or, Scott Walker's cops are always looking for a few scumbags.

Koval has come under increasing moral attacks from the Madison community for his blue blanket approach to employing police power over the Madison citizenry and covering up. Beating up, detaining and lying about it.

Koval calls this procedure, "Policing in partnership with our community."

Say her name — Genele Laird, (Madison365)
Don't believe Koval.

Cover Your Ass and the asses of your gang remain the first rule of policing. The second rule is: See Rule One.

Koval's latest act of deceit comes after two Madison cops were caught on camera pummeling, (summer fun for thugs in blue), an 18-year-old woman, Genele Laird, (120 pounds and black as midnight, see photo at right), calling her a "bitch," which apparently is police talk for "citizen."

Laird had phoned the police to complain her cell phone was stolen at Madison's East Towne, a popular shopping mall.

Just before two Madison police kneed, punch and tasered Ms. Laird, an alert man, (reportedly Daniel Patrykus, 19-years-old of Fond du Lac), with a cell phone positioned himself to video the assault, an effort that produced a video that quickly went viral.

Koval called for the Madison Police Dept. to launch an "administrative review" to investigate Madison Police to determine if any Madison Police department policies, procedures and professional standards were violated, giving away his game.

Proud to share the same life span as this generation
fighting for rights and humanity in the face of brutality
and idiocy from Madison, Wisconsin police.
Image: Viral video of arrest and assault of
18-year-old woman at shopping mall in
Madison, Wisconsin in June 2106.
We Resist

The supercilious manager Koval sprung to the defense of his armed gang coughing up his assurance that "what looks like a very one-sided transaction" is proper and lawful. This is Koval-talk for why two armed, trained, grown men in blue had to beat the shit of Genele Laird.

Expect numerous communications from cops explaining why Madison police generally need to lie about, harass, intimidate and brutalize Madison citizens as a mere prelude to prison sentences and long jail terms.

The Madison Common Council passed a resolution allocating a $400,000 study of police policies and practices earlier this month, (WKOW-TV). Long overdue.

The deliverables from a probe of Madison Police would be more revealing if a small committee composed of civil and human rights activists, civil liberties attorneys, social justice activists, and citizens from families of black and Latino community arrested and harassed by police were the people studying police practices and policies.

Begin with the beating of Ms. Laird, the killing of Tony Robertson, the killing of Paul Heenan, the 10-to-one arrest ratio of blacks to whites by Madison Police, (WisconsinWatch) and other such "transactions."

A sensible working assumption is not to harass, injure, destroy liberty of, arrest or kill human beings. If Madison Police do not like and follow this mission-critical directive, each one should resign and turn in their badges and guns.

Below is disturbing audio and video of two thugs battering and beating a young woman:

Jun 22, 2016

Protect Wood County and Central Wisconsin, Say People

Shoveling some serious shite across Wisconsin -
Big Ag workers, State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa, Wisconsin)
and State Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay), work closely
with Scott Walker and polluters to help with pro-pollution,
effective political messaging. Krug and Kitchens made a
joint appearance on March 31, 2016 at Algoma City Hall
in northeastern Wisconsin. Krug and Kitchens
told residents to contact the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural
Resources (DNR) to have their concerns about polluted water
heard. The DNR under Scott Walker has abdicated its
traditional mission to protect natural resources, including
water. Citizens came out on a Winter evening and were lied to
repeatedly by two elected state officials who should be
looking out for constituents, not polluters.

Central Wisconsin citizens speak a simple and compelling message: Protect our communities' water, protect our environment, protect our children and protect our future.

Citizens' demands are met with just as clear a response from industrialized agricultural polluters and their protectors in the state and federal legislature: The response is, No.

For example, Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) belched up some blather in a June Is Dairy Month column. Kind does not mention corporate dairy agriculture and its ongoing environmental assault against family farmers and Wisconsin communities, used to having family farmers living on the land

Living near vast industrial manure ponds would be an act of madness, and suicide of course. One reason why the owners of one and every four pigs, for example, in the United States are Chinese and living safely away from their rural American colonies.

Death by manure pond

In a repulsive illustration of the scale of polluting industrialized agriculture, summer brings death by dairy and swine manure pond that happens every year across the nation. The deaths are every bit as horrific as they sound: See Another dairy worker drowns in a manure lagoon in less than a year, Two Wisconsin men die in manure pit accident, Iowa father, son die from manure pit fumes.

I guess CAFO owner and manure pond creator, James Wysocki of central Wisconsin, can't be blamed for not living on the grounds of his Confined Animal Feeding Operations, (CAFOs).

The problem is Wysocki and Big Ag have no reluctance to vectoring liquid manure into area communities with the predictable consequences of poisoning aquifers and surface waters with a lot of help from Scott Walker and the DNR. Big Ag both pollutes and deletes ground and surface water.

Political protection

Kind's constituents include Wood and Adams county residents where agribusiness, (Big Ag), is proliferating and targeting the region for shock-and-awe treatment in pollution and depletion-of-water tactics.

The business plan is to change a way of life so completely that multi-generational residents will become repulsed and terrorized, and they'll move out of their communities and leave the area as a colony to Big Ag polluters.

Doesn't seem right.

In Wisconsin state government, Big Ag's tools, State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa, Wisconsin) and State Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay), work closely with Scott Walker and polluters to help on pro-pollution, effective political tactics.

One example is a March 31, 2016 appearance at Algoma City Hall in northeastern Wisconsin at which Krug and Kitchens told residents to contact the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) to have their concerns about polluted water addressed, specifically the Ahnapee River, on Wisconsin’s Impaired Waters List.

Wisconsin's Republican attorney general working with the Republican governor and the Republican legislature has devastated the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources' ability to chronicle and respond to systemic attacks on safe and drinkable water so for Krug and Kitchens to suggest the DNR and feign no understanding of what their Party is doing is disingenuous.

Communities band together

I mentioned to clean water activists in central Wisconsin, that children being hospitalized and poisoned might finally elicit some spasm of conscience. The universal response: It's happened before and it won't matter to these people, [Big Ag].

Facing such inaction from state and federal government, communities have to monitor and document the devastation from liquid cow manure relying on citizen action.

Below is a video of decent central Wisconsin folk fighting a corporate-Republican assault on their way of life:

Jun 20, 2016

Wisconsin's Scott Walker Refuses Listening Sessions

Scott Walker has left
his suit
Scott Walker's effort to rebrand himself fades like a cottonwood seed blowing across a park as public disapproval numbers persist.

The spectacle of Scott Walker blaming everyone from protesting Wisconsinites to the corporate media for his failure in job creation, comes with Walker's assurance he's now hearing "positive things" from his numerous "listening sessions" held around the state, (Opoien, The Capital Times).

Scott Walker lied.

A problem with this claim by Walker, (contra Gov. Chris Christie), is the fact Walker has held zero listening sessions as defined by answering unscripted, townhall-style questions posed by Wisconsin citizens unvetted for political loyalty to Scott Walker as the price of admission.

Used to be in Wisconsin citizens did not have to declare political loyalty to anyone before they could ask questions of public officials. Now, we live in the age of blacklists and Republican corruption, (Door County Pulse), (Mal Contends).

Walker's definition for a listening session is invitation-only, no press, and no dialogue,(UrbanMilwuakee).

It was no surprise to read a heavily polluting industrialized ag. factory owner John Pagel was invited by Walker to a February 'listening session' propaganda event in Kewaunee and Pagel pronounced himself "impressed" with Walker.

Some of the questions from Walker-vetted guests at the listening session:

What’s good about Wisconsin and your community?

What do you want your community to look like seven to 10 years from now?

And what can be done to ensure that vision? (DeFour, Wisconsin State Journal)
Tough room.

As gleamed from Walker's aborted presidential campaign last year, when Scott Walker offers a non-sequitur as a response to the rare question to which he replies in public, it means Walker has just tried to think on his feet.

Facing rising disapproval numbers, the last thing Walker can deal with now is being seen as incompetent on top of corrupt.

When Walker lies about listening sessions, it would help Wisconsin for the corporate press to report the fact Walker is lying.