A website dedicated to the blissful pursuit of the backcountry experience, wherever mountains rise,


"The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves -- in their separate, and individual capacities."

-Abraham Lincoln, 1854

Political Action Committees:

If You Really Want to Know What's Going on the World, Read This:

National Public Radio's Planet Money: probably the best blog on the political economy on the planet

Paul Krugman/New York Times: the Nobel laureate and the world's most accessible economist (he's pretty dang smart too)

The New Yorker magazine: informative, evocative, thorough; brilliant publication (if you read only one thing on a regular basis, read this)

Mother Jones: proves there is still hope for unbiased, quality news media, even if it is mostly online

Salon: ditto here

The Nation: my Mom's favorite: biased, and brainy

Slate Magazine: also good reading

And This:

The Economist: concise, comprehensive, opinionated, but colored with a market efficiency/business school approach (market efficiency models never fully account for external costs or unpredictable human behavior)

Robert Reich: another economist and political rock star; former Labor Secretary, current author, critic, and Berkeley professor

Naked Capitalism: highly critical, esoteric blog published by Susan Webber (a.k.a. Yves Smith)

New Economics Institute: an organization based in Massachusetts that promotes an economy based on sustainability, fairness, and a regard for the environment

Vice: an online magazine published in Brooklyn that deals mostly with independent arts and pop cultural matters, but more recently has devoted itself to covering serious news topics, particularly ones  lacking sufficient media coverage (topics which are oftentimes deserving, but sometimes not). The magazine's editors 'have championed the "immersionist" school of journalism, regarded as something of a DIY antithesis to the methods practiced by mainstream news outlets.' It is a favorite of my good friend Sean Ryan, who maintains his own very entertaining and enlightening blog, My Dogs Are Tired of Hearing This

If You're An Asshole and Don't Have Time to Read, Then Watch These Guys (& Girls):

PBS/News Hour: despite its conciliatory effort to tell both sides of the story (ostensibly both to appease its private sponsors, and to secure what's left of its grossly inadequate public funding), it's still the only one left

Charlie Rose: maybe the best show on television (and only because Mr. Rose lets his guests do all the talking)

Bill Maher/HBO: maybe the next best show on television (arrogant and ruthless, but usually spot-on)

Jon Stewart/Comedy Central: the funniest man on television (America's prime-time, mass media savior; and fortunately or not, the best news source on television outside of public t.v.)

Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel, Saudi Arabia: might be the hottest woman on the planet!

Ariana Huffington and the Huffington Post: this one's pretty hot too (and smart, which of course makes her hot!)

Elizabeth Warren: ditto (okay, this one might be a stretch in the looks department, but god is she sharp!)

Chris Hedges: Brilliant talk on celebrity culture in America, and the corruption of our collective values by corporations and mainstream media

Don't Pretend To Know What You Don't (Go to the Source):

Self Belay:

Who's your neighbor? Electoral Map, United States, 2008

A Quick Reference Guide:
 (currently under construction) 

1. Meritocracy
  • Fallacy: That because we live in a Capitalist Democracy, i.e. Liberal Democracy, we also operate (by automatic extension) as a meritocracy, where individuals are appropriately and fairly rewarded based on merit...that is, as a function of intelligence, credentials, education, and hard work.

2. Unilateralism
  • That because we invented the concept of a Liberal Democracy, or Capitalist Democracy, we are entitled to some special status among States; that we are free to produce, consume, and pollute as much as we need or desire; that we can dictate the price of labor and goods globally; that we can effect international diplomacy to our economic or political advantage; that we can invade and occupy sovereign countries at will; that we don't bear some responsibility for the condition of peoples in poor and developing countries, or the state of the environment, including the climate situation; that as the world's wealthiest nation, and its most conspicuous consumer and polluter, we don't owe it to the rest of the world and future generations to be a leader in environmental initiatives, on energy policy, economic policy and human rights; that the status quo is acceptable. 

3. Nationalism
  • That the United States represents the best example of a Liberal Democracy.

4. The Welfare State
  • That Social Democracy is code for Welfare State, which is code for Socialism, which too closely resembles Communism; that Socialism or Collectivism or Public Assembly are somehow bad words.

5. The Working Poor
  • That this social safety net is comprised mostly of food stamps and handouts for the indigent, poor, or lazy.

6. Corporate Welfare
  • That programs for the indigent or poor amount to anything more than a drop in the bucket compared to what we pay out annually for tax cuts, subsidies and 'corporate welfare'.  That the wealthiest among us have not the will and power to manipulate tax cuts and subsidies to their advantage, and that manipulating the system is not their primary political objective, and that they are not, by far, the biggest recipients of government largess.

7. Us and Them
  • That government is the enemy.

8. Presidential Power
  • That the current President of the United States is somehow inherently responsible for the fiscal misdeeds of previous administrations, or that the President has much influence on the economy in the first place.

9.  The Myth of Tax Cuts
  • That tax cuts and deregulation are the drivers of economic growth.

10. The Ethics of Capitalism
  • That high economic growth is even a legitimate, ethical, or sustainable goal.

11. Ignorance and Cultural Decline
  • The assumption that we can live a meaningful life with our head in the sand, without knowledge or concern for those outside our realm, for the environment, or for other populations of the world.

12. The Environment
  • That we are not currently in the midst of a persistent, potentially permanent, and possibly irreversible political, cultural, and environmental decline, and that we can't do anything about it.

13. Media Bias
  • Liberal Media Bias

14. Gun Policy
  • Fallacy:  "Guns don't kill people, people kill people"
  • Truth:  Adam Gopnik

15. Immigration Policy
  • Fallacy:  That the nation's immigrants, whom are mostly illegal, are a drag on the nation's output and that they use too many of our government services without contributing to the tax base, the economy, or our culture.

16. Financial Regulation/Deregulation

17. Unions
  • That union representation is detrimental to a healthy economy and makes labor costs prohibitively high in a globally competitive economy.
  • The Great Divergence

18. Wealth/Income Gap

19. Government Spending and Personal Income Tax Rates

20. The Federal Deficit
  • Fallacy: The almost universally misunderstood view that the federal debt, or the total accumulation of public debt resulting from annual federal budget deficits, is owed directly to foreign investors holding U.S. assets abroad, and that this debt, which must be repaid, is a huge burden on our economy.
  • Truth: The Federal debt, or more literally the money borrowed through the issue of government securities to make up the negative balances of federal budget deficits, as a percentage of GDP, is indeed high (it is currently at $11.27 trillion, or 72% of GDP, Government Accountability OfficeSeptember, 2012).  But it is not high in comparison to the debt ratios of similarly diversified modern economies in Europe.  Nor is it high by historical standards, including during WWII when we borrowed heavily to finance military spending and support a wartime economy (it peaked in 1945 at 113% of GDP, Wikipedia).  Not coincidentally, the huge deficits incurred during this time precipitated not a collapsing or deteriorating economy, but one which resulted in the greatest sustained economic growth period in our nation's history, minus a few structural recessionary blips. Public debt represents mostly money owed to ourselves since it is U.S. taxpayers who typically purchase and hold government bonds.  Interest is paid, in the form of yields, to these holders, and represents the true cost of accruing government debt.  Interest rates currently are at historic lows, and aren't expected to rise anytime soon.  It is true that in this increasingly global economy, a larger percentage of bondholders are now foreign investors (who are increasingly from China).  But while U.S. claims on foreign assets lag behind those of foreign holdings here (by about 11%), the U.S. actually earns more from its investments abroad than it pays to foreign investors, making our negative international balance sheet, and ultimately our overall debt burden, virtually meaningless. Contrary to popular belief, government debt does not have to be paid back.  We only need to ensure that the debt grows at a rate slower than we are willing and able to finance it.  As national income increases, government receipts rise with it, surpluses return, we sell fewer bonds (at higher prices), and past debt becomes increasingly irrelevant.  In a downturn, government receipts fall, and more money is needed to make up the difference.  This can be accomplished in only two ways: higher taxes or higher economic growth rates.  Even a liberal economist like myself can admit that the latter approach, if it is measured, is preferred to the former.  Yet often it is deficit spending that is required to stimulate this growth.  Expansionary fiscal policy is not completely innocuous, as there are sometimes considerable opportunity costs involved.  Currency devaluation and inflationary pressures aside, taxes must be levied to pay interest on the debt, and resources are consumed in efforts to avoid paying these taxes; money, it could be argued, that could be used more efficiently elsewhere in the economy.  This is why it is important to utilize deficit spending in a manner that will stimulate growth and produce positive net gains for all its participants.

21. Universal Healthcare