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Zachary Goldfarb says that what really upsets conservatives about Obama's "liberal agenda" is that it's not liberal.
Obama did not advance a liberal agenda. A consequential one, certainly, but one that reflects centrist views or center-left ones at most. The agenda seems liberal only when judged against the liberal-conservative divide we’re used to in Washington.

Over the past four years, politics in the nation’s capital has been consumed by the fight between the president and tea party Republicans. But because Obama is far closer to the center than the tea party is, what counts as middle ground in Washington is more conservative than the political center nationwide. In this setting, even centrist proposals face mighty legislative hurdles.

More punditry below the fold.

Mark Vanhoenacker says to go out and enjoy winter... while you still have one.

Dr. David Robinson, a climatologist at Rutgers, warns that year-to-year fluctuations and regional differences can deceive casual observers. In general, he says, there has been an “overall decline in snowfall.”

Other studies echo that conclusion. The United States Global Change Research Program’s recently released draft National Climate Assessment reports that “Overall snow cover has decreased in the Northern Hemisphere, due in part to higher temperatures that shorten the time snow spends on the ground.”

It may be many years before anyone in Buffalo starts have sno-stalgia, but those living in areas were snow is already noticeably less frequent might want to build ye snowmen while ye may.

Elisabeth Rosenthal warns that your biggest contribution to melting all that snow may not come from the carbon you generate in heating your house or driving your car.

For many people reading this, air travel is their most serious environmental sin. One round-trip flight from New York to Europe or to San Francisco creates about 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person. The average American generates about 19 tons of carbon dioxide a year; the average European, 10.

So if you take five long flights a year, they may well account for three-quarters of the emissions you create. “For many people in New York City, who don’t drive much and live in apartments, this is probably going to be by far the largest part of their carbon footprint,” says Anja Kollmuss, a Zurich-based environmental consultant.

Carter Eskew completes this Sunday's climate change triptych.
The impact of climate change has arrived ahead of schedule, and the gulf between reality and the climate deniers has widened.  Many Republican leaders have allowed themselves, of course, to be captured by the deniers.  The spectacle of Mitt Romney, who once believed in climate change, having to retract his position to win the Republican nomination may have been a tipping point. Climate change, like many other issues, is one where the views of many Republicans are no longer even especially relevant.  The country has moved on, accepting climate change as real and urgent and now taking up the important work of trying to mitigate it.
David Ignatius looks on Hagel as the second coming of Eisenhower's world view
As the Senate deliberates Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary, it should consider the “Eisenhower 1956” narrative carefully. It’s a useful guide to how Hagel thinks about American power in the Middle East — and it explains ideas he has shared with the top U.S. policymakers, Obama and Biden. ...

When the Israeli invasion came on Oct. 29, a week before the U.S. election, Eisenhower was irate. He told Secretary of State John Foster Dulles: “Foster, you tell ’em, goddamn it, that we’re going to apply sanctions, we’re going to the United Nations, we’re going to do everything that there is so we can stop this thing.” The United States did, indeed, win a cease-fire resolution at the United Nations, despite opposition from Britain, France and Israel.

What was that line about Obama being the most "anti-Israel president in the history of Israel?" Tell it to Ike.

Kathleen Parker thinks that putting women into combat roles is a "terrible idea" and...

Women, because of their inferior physical capacities and greater vulnerabilities upon capture, have a diminished opportunity for survival. ...

We’re potentially talking about 18-year-old girls, notwithstanding their “adult” designation under the law. (Parents know better.) At least 18-year-old males have the advantage of being gassed up on testosterone, the hormone that fuels not just sexual libido but, more to the point, aggression. To those suffering a sudden onset of the vapors, ignore hormones at your peril.

Um... holy cow. I think instead of ignoring hormones, I'll just ignore Parker. Not easy when she uses "unbeknown" in her column.

The New York Times says there's a lot we don't know about the best way to prevent gun violence--thanks to those in the gun lobby who've made sure we don't know.

In the absence of reliable data and data-driven policy recommendations, talk about guns inevitably lurches into the unknown, allowing abstractions, propaganda and ideology to fill the void and thwart change.

The research freeze began at a time when the C.D.C. was making strides in studying gun violence as a public health problem. Before that, the issue had been regarded mainly as a law enforcement challenge or as a problem of disparate acts by deranged offenders, an approach that remains in sync with the N.R.A. worldview.

By dealing with gun related deaths with the same wide view that they use in determining the cause of auto deaths, the CDC was actually making progress. Which was exactly what the NRA and other lobbyists feared.
by the early 1990s, C.D.C. gun research had advanced to the point that it contradicted N.R.A. ideology. Some studies found, for example, that people living in a home with a gun were not safer; they faced a significantly elevated risk of homicide and suicide.

The N.R.A. denounced the research as “political opinion masquerading as medical science,” and in 1996, Congress took $2.6 million intended for gun research and redirected it to traumatic brain injury. It prohibited the use of C.D.C. money “to advocate or promote gun control.” Since then, similar prohibitions have been imposed on other agencies, including the National Institutes of Health.

So now the NRA is free to argue any nonsense they want, since their congressional stooges have made sure no one has the facts to fight them.

Go Read It All, APR Sunday Pick
Erin Hatton looks at the people in your office and finds that a lot fewer of them are actually employees.

A quarter of jobs in America pay below the federal poverty line for a family of four ($23,050). Not only are many jobs low-wage, they are also temporary and insecure. Over the last three years, the temp industry added more jobs in the United States than any other, according to the American Staffing Association, the trade group representing temp recruitment agencies, outsourcing specialists and the like.

Low-wage, temporary jobs have become so widespread that they threaten to become the norm. But for some reason this isn’t causing a scandal. At least in the business press, we are more likely to hear plaudits for “lean and mean” companies than angst about the changing nature of work for ordinary Americans.

Want to get your stock a big boost? Announce layoffs. Perversely, dropping your company's employee headcount is very often rewarded as a sign of better management.
How did we arrive at this state of affairs? Many argue that it was the inevitable result of macroeconomic forces — globalization, deindustrialization and technological change — beyond our political control. Yet employers had (and have) choices. Rather than squeezing workers, they could have invested in workers and boosted product quality, taking what economists call the high road toward more advanced manufacturing and skilled service work. But this hasn’t happened. Instead, American employers have generally taken the low road: lowering wages and cutting benefits, converting permanent employees into part-time and contingent workers, busting unions and subcontracting and outsourcing jobs. They have done so, in part, because of the extraordinary evangelizing of the temp industry, which rose from humble origins to become a global behemoth.
New Scientist provides a peek at the oldest known portrait.
Twenty-six thousand years ago in the Czech Republic, one of our ice-age ancestors selected a hunk of mammoth ivory and carved this enigmatic portrait of a woman - the oldest ever found.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 11:09 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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