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“Limbaugh Solves Weather Mystery”: Polar Vortex Is A Liberal, Mainstream Media Hoax Designed To Sell Global Climate Change

Who knew that Rush Limbaugh—in addition to his many “talents”—possesses a deep knowledge and understanding of climatology and meteorology?

While Limbaugh’s biography reveals no apparent training in such matters, that small detail did not prevent Rush from declaring the severe cold snap—produced by the distortion of the polar vortex and currently affecting much of the United States—to be nothing more than a hoax, proclaiming —

“We are having a record-breaking cold snap in many parts of the country.  And right on schedule the media have to come up with a way to make it sound like it’s completely unprecedented. Because they’ve got to find a way to attach this to the global warming agenda, and they have. It’s called the ‘polar vortex.’ The dreaded polar vortex.”

Limbaugh continued his rant by noting that liberals are “in the middle of a hoax, they’re perpetrating a hoax, but they’re relying on their total dominance of the media to lie to you each and every day about climate change and global warming. So they created the polar vortex, and the polar vortex, something’s happened, and that cold air which normally stays is in the North Pole, something’s happening, something deeply mysterious and perhaps tragic is happening.”

Apparently, Rush has been so busy studying his weather charts that he failed to notice that Fox News, Newsmax and other conservative media outlets have decided to join the liberal media hoax by discussing the polar vortex as part of their own weather reports—and yes, they are using that precise phrase—over the past few days.

And with good reason.

You see, there is nothing deeply mysterious nor tragic involved with the existence of a polar vortex (except for the few human tragedies that always seem to accompany severe weather situations) and what happens when the weather pattern becomes distorted. What’s more, I have yet to hear any suggestion from liberals, conservatives—or any branch of the media—indicating that there is some mystery or tragedy at work.

I’ve only heard Rush Limbaugh suggest that others are suggesting the same.

Still, Limbaugh insists that the whole affair has been “created” by the liberals and the mainstream media to feather the arguments in support of global warming and climate change.

A polar vortex is a circulation of strong winds that surround the northern pole (although there is also a polar vortex surrounding the southern pole) that swirl in a counterclockwise direction, creating a low pressure weather pattern. The strong winds typically keep the seriously cold air “locked into” the Arctic region. But, on occasion, the vortex (winds) become distorted as a result of the strength of the winds lessening, causing the vortex to ‘dip’ down to the south, allowing the frigid, arctic air to escape and spill down to the south where they bring very cold temperatures to the Northern Hemisphere—including those we are currently experiencing throughout much of the United States.

Thus, it is not the polar vortex that the liberals and media allegedly “created” that is causing our really cold weather-it is the distortion of the polar vortex that bears the blame. And while Santa Claus may not truly live at the North Pole (I hope I haven’t ruined the Santa Claus thing for Limbaugh), the polar vortex is real and very much does.

The entire process is nothing new.

Cold periods frequently result from distortions of the polar vortex, but as they occur at different times, in different parts of the world and with different levels of severity, we here in the United States tend not to focus on them unless the frigid air comes our way. Indeed, just last year, many parts of Europe experienced frigid air during the Easter season as a result of a distorted polar vortex which sent the arctic air in their direction instead of our own and produced an Easter far colder than what they were experiencing during the Christmas season.

So, Rush…I’m afraid the vast liberal conspiracy did not “create” the evil sounding bit of science-fiction entitled the polar vortex as a means of selling global climate change. You’re going to have to give credit for the existence of a polar vortex to a much higher authority.

Of course, without any desire on Rush’s part to actually explore this weather phenomenon on a scientific level—a complete misuse of Limbaugh’s time as, God forbid, his audience might learn something of scientific value—and whether or not the distortion of a polar vortex might actually be the result of climate change, Limbaugh’s latest bit of buffoonery does raise for us the question of whether or not climate change does bear some blame for extreme changes in weather patterns.

The answer is that your guess is as good as mine.

In fact, your guess is as good as the climate scientists who, for many years now, have been attempting to discover whether there is a connection between the distortion of the polar vortex and any man-made climate change.  As this research has been going on for quite some time, it would appear that Rush Limbaugh was a more than a little late to pick up on this bit of conspiracy as I don’t recall him discussing this back in 2001 when the first studies on the subject began to emerge.

“Studies published since 2001 suggest a link between extreme weather and the polar vortex, in recent years more research identified interactions with Arctic sea ice decline, reduced snow cover, evapotranspiration patterns, NAO anomalies or weather anomalies which are linked to the polar vortex and jet stream configuration. However, because these are considered short-term observations (since ~13 years) there is considerable uncertainty in the conclusions. Climatology observations require several decades to distinguish natural variability from climate trends (emphasis added.)

Apparently, an effort on the part of meteorologists and television weather reporters—including those over at Fox—to teach us a little something about what is causing an unusual and difficult weather pattern can only equate to conspiracy in the mind of Rush Limbaugh who has single-handedly managed to create a conspiracy where none could possibly have previously existed.

I guess that is ‘business as usual’ for Rush when forced to get the anger flowing on a slow, “first day back to work” for the new year.


By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, January 7, 2014

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Climate Change, Global Warming | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Liz Cheney Goes Home To Washington”: At Least Now She Can Stop Pretending She Lives In Wyoming

Liz Cheney, who was trailing in polls by somewhere between 30 and 50 points, announced today that she is ending her Senate primary campaign against Republican Mike Enzi, a campaign that had been launched on the premise that Enzi, a man with a 93 percent lifetime American Conservative Union score, was a bleeding-heart liberal whose efforts in the upper chamber were not nearly filibustery enough. Cheney cited “serious health issues” in her family, implying that it has to do with one of her children, though she couldn’t help wrapping it some gag-inducing baloney: ” My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well being will always be my overriding priority.” In any case, if one of Cheney’s children is ill, everyone certainly wishes him or her a speedy recovery. But what can we make of the failure of Cheney’s campaign?

For starters, it’s a reminder that celebrity comes in many forms, and guarantees almost nothing in electoral politics apart from some initial attention. Sure, the occasional coke-snorting TV anchor can parlay his time in front of the camera into an election win, but having a familiar name isn’t enough. If you look at all the sons, daughters, and wives (not too many husbands) of politicians who went on to get elected, the successful ones chose their races carefully, not challenging a strong incumbent in a state they hadn’t lived in since they were little kids.

As my friend Cliff Schecter tweeted, next on Liz Cheney’s agenda is moving back to Virginia next week, then getting on Meet the Press. After all, Wyoming is a nice place to run for office from, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Or at least, you can’t live there if you want to be part of the action in Washington, and it sure seemed that Wyoming Republican voters sensed that Cheney was just a tourist in their fine state.

This is something I’ve been going on about for a long time, that so many conservatives wax rhapsodic about small towns and The Heartland, yet they live in big cities on the East Coast, one in particular. Now of course, it’s difficult to have a career as a pundit if you live in Buford, WY (population: 1, seriously). But that’s kind of the point. Liz Cheney grew up in Virginia because her dad was an important guy doing important things in government. It would have been ridiculous for him to keep his family back in Wyoming, all the fine opportunities for fly-fishing not withstanding, so for the Cheneys it became the place they’re from, not the place they live.

Your average conservative Republican congressman spends his time in office railing against the Gomorrah on the Potomac and extolling the virtues of the common folk back in Burgsville, but what happens when he retires or loses an election? He buys a nice townhouse in the Virginia suburbs and becomes a lobbyist, electing to live out his days in the very place he told his constituents was a hellhole he couldn’t wait to get out of.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, January 6, 2013

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Poor Little Rich Boys”: Weeping In Frustration At The Obstinate Refusal Of The American People To Recognize The Natural Aristocracy

If you read Matea Gold’s long piece at WaPo today about the vast, byzantine web of organizations—many just dummies or decoys or the purest kind of money launderers—set up by the Koch Brothers and their friends to exert massive influence on American politics behind multiple veils of secrecy, you may have been a bit underwhelmed by the Koch’s often-repeated rationale for all the skullduggery:

In a rare in-person interview with Forbes in late 2012, Charles Koch defended the need for venues that allow donors to give money without public disclosure, saying such groups provide protection from the kind of attacks his family and company have weathered.

“We get death threats, threats to blow up our facilities, kill our people. We get Anonymous and other groups trying to crash our IT systems,” he said, referring to the computer-hacking collective. “So long as we’re in a society like that, where the president attacks us and we get threats from people in Congress, and this is pushed out and becomes part of the culture — that we are evil, so we need to be destroyed, or killed — then why force people to disclose?”

Playing the victim has long been part of the Brothers’ shtick. Some readers may recall a stomach-churning Wall Street Journal op-ed by Ted Olson early in 2012 defending the Kochs (his clients) from the omnipotent, malevolent, Nixonian hostility of Barack Obama, before which they were apparently cowering in fear. This was in the midst of a presidential cycle in which the Brothers walked very, very tall, per Gold’s estimates:

Together, the 17 conservative groups that made up the [Koch political] network raised at least $407 million during the 2012 campaign, according to the analysis of tax returns by The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics.

That was all self-defense spending, you see—just as Sheldon Adelson’s vast investments in American and Israeli politics are merely the feeble efforts of an honest entrepreneur to protect himself from persecution.

It would be funny if it weren’t so pathologically sincere. I suggest you read Gold’s piece in tandem with Molly Ball’s fascinating profile of Frank Luntz, who is apparently going through some sort of mid-life crisis because of Obama’s re-election:

Luntz dreams of drafting some of the rich CEOs he is friends with to come up with a plan for saving America from its elected officials. “The politicians have failed; now it’s up to the business community to stand up and be heard,” he tells me. “I want the business community to step up.” Having once thought elites needed to listen to regular people, he now wants the people to learn from their moneyed betters.

Luntz’s populism has turned on itself and become its opposite: fear and loathing of the masses. “I am grateful that Occupy Wall Street turned out to be a bunch of crazy, disgusting, rude, horrible people, because they were onto something,” he says. “Limbaugh made fun of me when I said that Occupy Wall Street scares me. Because he didn’t hear what I hear. He doesn’t see what I see.” The people are angry. They want more, not because we have not given them enough but because we have given them too much.

For the time being, Luntz appears focused on breaking into Hollywood, presumably to reform the people via popular culture:

If he could, Luntz would like to have a consulting role on The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama. “I know I’m not supposed to like it, but I love it,” he says. He feels a kinship with Jeff Daniels’ character, the gruff, guilt-ridden, ostensibly Republican antihero, who is uncomfortable with small talk and driven by a “mission to civilize.” “I love that phrase,” Luntz says. “That doesn’t happen in anything that we do.”

When he’s at home in Los Angeles, The Newsroom is the high point of Luntz’s week. He turns off his phone and gets a plate of spaghetti bolognese and a Coke Zero and sits in front of his 85-inch television, alone in his 14,000-square-foot palace. “That’s as good as it gets for me,” he says.

Yes, Frank’s another poor little rich boy, weeping in frustration at the obstinate refusal of the American people to recognize the natural aristocracy that seeks to guide them away from the evil demagogues who demand limits on their wealth and power. Luntz is a relative small-fry in the counter-revolutionary universe, but the Kochs’ whining sounds to me like the warning rattle of a coiled snake.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, January 6, 2014

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Koch Brothers | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Lucrative Fight Against Big Brother”: Much Of Movement Conservatism Is A Con And The Base Are The Marks

In recent months, the extent to which fundraising drives Republican tactics has come into sharper focus. As conservatives prepared for their government shutdown, for example, Brian Walsh, a former spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said, “[T]his is about political cash, not political principle.”

This quote came to mind late last week when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced he plans to lead a class action lawsuit against the NSA over its data collection programs.

Paul claimed on Fox News that since he started collecting signatures six months ago, hundreds of thousands of people have signed on. Paul wants to take his suit to the Supreme Court.

“The question here is whether or not, constitutionally, you can have a single warrant apply to millions of people,” Paul said of the suit. “So we thought, What better way to illustrate the point than having hundreds of thousands of Americans sign up for a class action suit?”

Because of the scope of the NSA’s activities, Paul added, “every person in America who has a cell phone would be eligible for this suit.”

To be sure, legal challenges to NSA surveillance programs are important and noteworthy, and lawmakers should be engaged in a meaningful debate over the scope and utility of the national security state. A class-action suit like this one would be worth watching closely.

But taking a closer look at Rand Paul’s initiative raises questions about what’s really driving the effort.

In this case, Paul hasn’t actually filed the lawsuit; he’s simply talking to conservative media outlets about his intention to eventually go to court. When might we expect this to begin? “His office did not give the specific timeline for when the senator would file the suit,” The Hill reported.

Well, at least it’ll break new legal ground, right? Actually, no: “So far though, the details of Paul’s lawsuit are murky. A legal counsel for Paul told Daily Intelligencer Friday that he expects the case will be similar to another NSA suit filed by birther provocateur Larry Klayman.”

Hmm. So, Rand Paul is eager to talk to conservative media about a lawsuit he hasn’t filed that will be duplicative of a lawsuit someone else has already filed. So why bother? Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog flagged a likely explanation:

Paul’s Senate campaign website already encourages individuals to “please sign below and join my class-action lawsuit and help stop the government’s outrageous spying program on the American people.”

The solicitation, which asks for individuals’ names, email addresses and zip codes, also asks for a donation to help “stop Big Brother from infringing on our Fourth Amendment freedoms.”

Oh, I see. Rand Paul’s campaign operation – as opposed to his Senate office – is overseeing this project. Like-minded Americans can fight “Big Brother” by giving a U.S. senator their name, email address, zip code, and their credit card number if they don’t mind. Paul isn’t talking to conservative media to talk about the lawsuit – because at this point, there is no lawsuit – so much as he’s making the rounds to encourage people to go to his campaign website. That way, they can support a project that will encourage the senator to go to court to file a suit that another conservative group is already litigating.

Chris Hayes made a comment last year that continues to resonate: “Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base are the marks.”


By: Steve Benen, The Madow Blog, January 7, 2014

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Rand Paul | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Obamacare And Emergency Rooms, A Bit Of Perspective Needed”: Oregon Study Doesn’t Undermine Affordable Care Act Claims

Headlines based on a study of emergency room visits by a few thousand Oregon Medicaid beneficiaries undoubtedly gave the Obama administration heartburn last week. Although the study predated the Medicaid expansion authorized by the Affordable Care Act — which began in some states on January 1 — many who wrote about the Oregon study jumped to the conclusion that the millions of newly enrolled Medicaid beneficiaries would make greater — not less — use of the ER for routine care.

I may be going out on a limb, but I for one don’t buy the idea that the Oregon study means emergency rooms are going to get even more crowded. And that’s because more Americans will finally have insurance.

Reform advocates have long suggested that getting folks out of the ranks of the uninsured should cut down on visits to the ER for noncritical medical care. Many people who lack coverage don’t have a primary care physician and all too often make trips to the ER when their illness or injury could have been treated more appropriately and inexpensively in a clinic or doctor’s office.

The Oregon study, which was published in the journal Science, would seem to disprove that theory.

In 2008, two years before the ACA was enacted, Oregon increased the number of Medicare beneficiaries in a novel way: by lottery. Many Oregonians who had been on a waiting list for the state’s Medicaid program got lucky when their names were drawn and they were added to the rolls.

The researchers who wrote the Science article studied the emergency room use of about 25,000 of the successful and unsuccessful lottery participants and found that those who won coverage actually made more trips to the ER over 18 months than those whose names were not drawn.

Headline writers were quick to draw their conclusions: Obamacare would not reduce unnecessary ER visits.

“Emergency Visits Seen Increasing with Health Law,” read the headline above the New York Times story last Thursday.

“Obamacare Medicaid Expansion to Worsen Hospital ER Burden,” said Bloomberg.

And Forbes gave us this: “New Oregon Data: Expanding Medicaid Increases Usage of Emergency Rooms, Undermining Central Rational for Obamacare.”

“For years,” wrote Forbes columnist Avik Roy, “it has been the number one talking point of Obamacare supporters. People who are uninsured end up getting costly care from hospitals’ emergency rooms. ‘Those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it — about $1,000 per year that pays for [the uninsureds’] emergency room and charitable care,’ said President Obama in 2009. Obamacare, the President told us, would solve that problem by covering the uninsured, thereby driving premiums down. A new study, published in the journal Science, definitively reaches the opposite conclusion.”

There is more than a bit of twisted logic in that paragraph. It is true that those of us with insurance pay considerably more for it because those who don’t have it often can’t pay for their ER care. That’s because the hospital shifts the cost of that “uncompensated care” to its insured customers. Researchers have estimated that people with insurance pay $1,000 more a year for it than they would if this cost shifting didn’t have to occur.

Bringing uninsured people into coverage eliminates much of that cost shifting. And that’s a good thing, considering that the vast majority of Americans with health coverage — even after the Medicaid expansion — get it through private insurance companies, either at work or on their own.

The actual increase in the number of visits per person among the newly insured in Oregon via the Medicaid lottery was 0.41. In other words, each new enrollee made 0.41 visits more on average during the 18 months than the 1.02 ER visits made by those who remained uninsured.

When you look at it from the perspective of those numbers, and the actual amount Oregon spent per person, as University of Chicago health policy expert Harold Pollack did in a post, this is far from a “sky is falling” disaster in the making. And it is actually reducing the cost shifting.

Also, as Pollack pointed out, “the emergency departments will be reliably paid for care they provide … (With coverage expansion) providers don’t have to fear the burdens or uncompensated care, and…they don’t need to cruelly pursue low-income patients over bad debts.

It’s also important to keep in mind that private insurers now manage most of the states’ Medicaid populations, and they will be vigilant in their efforts to steer their new Medicaid enrollees away from the ERs and to more appropriate and cost-effective settings. WellPoint subsidiary Amerigroup described in a recent policy brief, for example, how its efforts to reduce primary care-treatable ER visits among Medicaid beneficiaries resulted in a savings of more than 50 percent.

Rather than rushing to conclusions, let’s see how the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare actually plays out in the years ahead.


By: Wendell Potter, The Center for Public Integrity, January 6, 2014

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Health Care Costs, Medicaid Expansion | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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