It was 105 degrees the day the Waldo Canyon fire hit, a new record for Colorado, and it hasn't rained in weeks. Hot and dry conditions make for a mountain tinderbox.
High temperature records fell as the wave spread east, in many cases exceeding temperatures last seen during the "dust bowl" years of the 1930's. Over 50 locations set all time highs, including 111 in Dodge City, Kansas and 115 in McCook, Nebraska.
What's worse, this is what you'd expect in the early stages of global warming. In other words, it gets worse later on, and not all that much later on either. What happens when the high temperature hits 125 in, say, Chicago?
This is odd, isn't it? Since the 1970's and 1980's, New Yorkers have steadily gotten healthier. Most boroughs now exceed the national average. The fifth borough, the Bronx, is one of the poorest areas in the United States, and even the Bronx is catching up.
Some give credit to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's health initiatives. Bloomberg has taken some strong measures, but the big jump appears to have been in the 1990's, well before Bloomberg became Mayor.
Several in the comments section at Washington Monthly credit walking. New Yorkers do a lot of walking. One credited walking subway stairs alone for his being able to lose 20 pounds!
There might be something to that. The Dutch, for example, seem to be a very healthy people. As I like to say, their young people look like athletes, and their old people look like diplomats. It's because they ride bicycles and walk. Everyone does, and it shows. They look healthy.
The biggest jump in New York appears to have been in the 1990's. I'd give credit to a booming economy of that period, the longest sustained period of prosperity in American history. I traveled a lot during that time. Everywhere, in nearly every major city, there were new construction projects downtown. You could see the prosperity.
New York, the nation's leading city, reflected that prosperity par excellance, and I wouldn't be surprised if that were a factor in its rise in life expectancy. Notice, too, that all boroughs rose rather sharply together. A rising tide lifts all boats!
You'd think our nation's corporate leaders would understand something that any 6th grader knows, which is that if everybody is better off, everybody is better off. A healthier, stronger people produces more and buys more. Corporations gain along with everybody else. It's a win-win.
Besides, people at work walk more. That alone may explain why they are healthier, but a positive attitude definitely helps. It's hard to have one when the atmosphere is bleak and the opportunities are few.
The GOP is paying a political price for their culture war assault on womens' health issues. The "gender gap" has favored Democrats for quite some time, but now it's widening even further in the wake of Rush's attempted shaming of Sandra Fluke, in which he exposed his own leering fantasies, and Their Totalitinesses, the Catholic bishops, who think that religious freedom means that they get to tell women what to do.
What has been the reaction among women, who, by the way, constitute as much as 57% of the electorate? President Obama now leads Mitt Romney by 9 points, 51-42, in the most recent USA Today poll.
The biggest change came among women under 50. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney’s support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group.
Looks like a full-on backfire to me, but, as Napoleon once said, "Never interfere with your opponent when they're in the process of destroying themselves."
Talk about intrusive government. The Virginia legislature has passed a bill saying that women who want to get an abortion must first have a "transvaginal ultrasound." The ultrasound is medically unnecessary except for all but a few cases, which means that women have to get their bodies invaded for no good reason at all, except to humiliate them for having sex in the first place.
The idea is to get a picture of the fetus so it can be waved in the woman's face in order to deter her from getting an abortion, an approach which, incidentally, almost never results in the woman changing her mind about the abortion.
Why is it that the very people who rail against "big government" love, love, love the use of government power to shame and humiliate people for having sex?
Let's call it what it is: sadism. Worse, not only are these sadists in denial about their own perversion and cruelty, they actually think they're swell people doing the Lord's work! What is it about male-dominated heirarchies that generates the toxic mixture of self-righteous posturing and cruelty to women?
Garry Wills, one of the nation's most prominent historians, and also one of the nation's most prominent Roman Catholics, slices and dices the bishops in a blog post at the New York Review of Books. Here's what he had to say about the phony "religious freedom" argument:
The bishops’ opposition to contraception is not an argument for a “conscience exemption.” It is a way of imposing Catholic requirements on non-Catholics. This is religious dictatorship, not religious freedom.
Contraception is not even a religious matter. Nowhere in Scripture or the Creed is it forbidden. Catholic authorities themselves say it is a matter of “natural law,” over which natural reason is the arbiter—and natural reason, even for Catholics, has long rejected the idea that contraception is evil.
David Gibson parses the bishops' argument on payment for contraception, and finds that their current logic does not match their past logic.
They've found ways to "cooperate with evil" before, such as when Catholics vote for a pro-choice candidate because of considerations other than their position on abortion. In such a case, "remote material cooperation" may be permissable, or so said then-Cardinal Ratzinger in 2004.
There is also a second distinction--"mediate" versus "immediate." "Immediate"--paying directly for contraception--would be worse than "mediate", which is somehow participating, in some distanced way, from enabling contraception. (The HHS compromise is nothing if not "mediate.")
"Mediate" participation in (whatever they may call) "evil" also happens all the time with investment portfolios. It also happens when ordinary people pay taxes for government policies they don't like.
See Gibson for more detail. Meanwhile, this sums it up nicely:
"This is Moral Theology 101," said one moral theologian who, like several others interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of angering the hierarchy on such a sensitive topic.
"I do not think the bishops and their advisers have thought all the way through the entire bundle of values at stake," said another. "The bishops do not seem to be able to take yes for an answer."
Somehow, the president wound up in a culture war fight with one of the most discredited groups in American history--Catholic bishops--over a practice that is routine for 99% of Americans and 98% of Roman Catholics.
The bishops, and their fellow travelers, want to make the issue about "religious liberty" when it clearly is not. No one is questioning the bishops' right to believe and teach whatever they want about contraception. They may even, if they wish, excommunicate Catholics who don't do as they say.
All they were being asked to do is respect the rights of employees who aren't Catholics. Catholic hospitals employ Methodist doctors and Jewish nurses. These doctors and nurses may have a religious belief that contraception is a good thing, and the world would be a better place if more people used these family planning tools. Shouldn't their religious beliefs be respected?
In fact, if the bishops wished to retrieve a smidgen of their lost public esteem, they might, in Christian charity, freely offer to cover contraception for their non-Catholic employees, even though they disagree with it.
The administration offered a compromise: The employees could still get contraceptives, but the bishops' wouldn't have anything to do with it. But no, this is not enough. In a statement last Friday, the bishops expressed continued opposition and concluded: "The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services."
In other words, the "only solution" is for insurance coverage to eliminate coverage for contraception! The "only solution" is for everyone else to capitulate to our point of view! Yes, that would solve it. (The bishops' message was communicated to congregations this past weekend. These people still have a tax exemption?)
The president's political opponents are scrambling on board to bash him, but they should think twice. Most of them are older men, and this is an election year. Do they really want the months of September and October to feature a bunch of old guys blathering to the country about the evils of contraception?
I don't often compliment the White House political shop, but...nice work!
The Susan B. Komen Foundation has been in a week-long frenzy of attempted damage control, desperately trying to, as they say, save its "brand," and all because of an ideologue who got herself into a powerful position within the organization and decided to put the organization at risk in order to grind an ideological ax.
The Komen official most associated with the ending of grants for Planned Parenthood is Karen Handel, a former GOP politician in Georgia and the current vice president for public policy for Komen, last seen chortling about how Komen could end grants to PP and blame it on Congress.
Whether Komen can save itself is still up in the air, but right now it looks doubtful. For one thing, they appear not to have entirely gotten the message. They now say they will fulfill the grants they have made with Planned Parenthood, but it is not clear whether or not the Komen Foundation will give grants to Planned Parenthood in the future.
The Komen foundation had already made a number of questionable moves, such as partnering with just about anybody who would slap a pink ribbon on themselves, and that's not even to mention removing the words "breast" and "cancer" from the name of the organization because, one supposes, some focus group found them "negative".
Maybe the "race for the cure" could be replaced with a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood.