PA 12th CD Is a Key Battleground

Critz-Rothfus race tests GOP growth in Western Pennsylvania

Western PA’s 12th Congressional District
By Timothy McNulty
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Oct 28, 2012 – In his congressional run two years ago, newcomer Keith Rothfus commonly dressed like a bookish lawyer, in a rep tie and blazer.

This time, with whimsical ads declaring he’s a “regular guy,” he is at a Westmoreland County gun shop clad in a flannel shirt and windbreaker. “God, guns and guts made this country. Let’s keep all three!” say free bumper stickers by the register.

“This is a new thing for me,” the 50-year-old says, waiting by the counter to make remarks assailing the Obama administration on gun issues early this month. “I’ve never been up in the polls before. In 2010 I stuck my head out, and now they’re taking shots at me.”

The powerful National Rifle Association had just endorsed his Democratic opponent, Mark Critz, in the Nov. 6 election, but no matter. The attacks are raining hard on both candidates in the nationally watched 12th District congressional race outside Pittsburgh, in a contest that points the way toward Western Pennsylvania’s political future.

Mr. Critz of Johnstown the Democratic incumbent, has many of the same conservative positions as his Republican challenger from Sewickley, but Mr. Rothfus takes them a few clicks further right. Both criticize President Barack Obama’s health care bill, though the Democrat says he would keep parts and the Republican pushes for full repeal. Both are anti-abortion, but Mr. Critz supports exceptions in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother while his GOP opponent supports it only when the mother’s health is at stake.

Their biggest differences are over taxes and trade.

A conservative intellectual in the mold of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, Mr. Rothfus is wont to quote historian Amity Shlaes when questioning government spending in a recession, and would consider cutting the Education Department and placing sunsets on other federal roles (though not defense, veteran or senior programs).

Mr. Critz supports raising taxes on the wealthy to help curb the nation’s deficit, while Mr. Rothfus says tax increases would dampen the very economic growth needed to reduce it.

Continue reading PA 12th CD Is a Key Battleground

Climate Is Systemic Cause of Storm Intensity

Yes, Global Warming Systemically Caused Hurricane Sandy

Yes, global warming systemically caused Hurricane Sandy — and the Midwest droughts and the fires in Colorado and Texas, as well as other extreme weather disasters around the world.  Let’s say it out loud, it was causation, systemic causation.Yellow cabs line a flooded street in Queens, New York in hurricane Sandy’s wake. (Photograph: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA / Rex Features)

Systemic causation is familiar. Smoking is a systemic cause of lung cancer.  HIV is a systemic cause of AIDS.  Working in coal mines is a systemic cause of black lung disease. Driving while drunk is a systemic cause of auto accidents.  Sex without contraception is a systemic cause of unwanted pregnancies.

There is a difference between systemic and direct causation.  Punching someone in the nose is direct causation. Throwing a rock through a window is direct causation. Picking up a glass of water and taking a drink is direct causation. Slicing bread is direct causation. Stealing your wallet is direct causation. Any application of force to something or someone that always produces an immediate change to that thing or person is direct causation.  When causation is direct, the word cause is unproblematic.

Systemic causation, because it is less obvious, is more important to understand. A systemic cause may be one of a number of multiple causes. It may require some special conditions. It may be indirect, working through a network of more direct causes. It may be probabilistic, occurring with a significantly high probability. It may require a feedback mechanism.  In general, causation in ecosystems, biological systems, economic systems, and social systems tends not to be direct, but is no less causal.  And because it is not direct causation, it requires all the greater attention if it is to be understood and its negative effects controlled.

Above all, it requires a name: systemic causation.

Continue reading Climate Is Systemic Cause of Storm Intensity