31 December 2010

The Light Controller That Works Like an MP3


What do MP3s and light bulbs have in common? Quite a lot, it turns out, when the light bulbs are attached to a LumiSmart Intelligent Lighting Controller. The shoebox-sized solid state controller, developed by Cavet Technologies, costs $2,000, takes 20 minutes to install (with help from an electrician), and cuts electricity consumption by 30% to 40%.
The controller works by cutting off power to light bulbs for nanoseconds at a time--faster than a light or ballast can figure out. It's similar to compression algorithms used in MP3s, where cutting out select bits to decrease file size still maintains the file as a whole.
Cavet's controller is easy to use, too. "You plug it in, turn the circuit breaker panel on, and the configure level of light savings. There are 7 programs on it, optimized for different types of lights," explains David Berg, EVP of engineering at Cavet. The box doesn't discriminate by geographical difference, either--it will work on everything from 100-volt light fixtures in Japan all the way up to the 347-volt systems found in Canada and the U.S.
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The LumiSmart has already launched in 21 countries. Now Cavet is taking the technology to the U.S., where it will presumably find eager customers in big businesses and utilities that need easy retrofit solutions. "We take the existing infrastructure and don't change it. We don't interrupt your business," Berg says.

30 December 2010

Self-made American myth #2: Who makes $250K?

By sara robinson

Progressives have suspected for years that working- and middle-class Americans vote for the GOP because they have a deeply unrealistic idea about their real chances of becoming wealthy. We’ve joked that working stiffs vote for tax cuts and other goodies for the rich because they seriously believe that they’re going to be rich themselves someday, and want to make sure those advantages will be there for them, come the day.
To date, this has been just a guess on our part — but a recent study now proves that this guess was right on the money. The Myth of the Self-Made American is being bolstered by a delusionally optimistic view of just how many people actually make it to the top 3 percent income level. It’s a delusion that affects almost everyone, but particularly those who vote Republican.
Ryan Enos at yougov.com explains the results of a YouGov/Polimetrix poll conducted a few weeks before the recent election. As he explains their findings:
The hot button issue with the tax cuts is whether to renew the cuts for families earning more than $250,000 a year. The wrangling among politicians over this issue seems to mostly involve whether or not earning that amount of money qualifies somebody as wealthy.
What’s amazing about the magic number of $250,000 is that, based on responses to a recent YouGov/Polimetrix poll, by and large, Americans have a very distorted view of how many people make that much money.
Any idea what proportion of American families make more than $250,000 a year? Or, to potentially make it easier, any idea what proportion of families in your state make more than $250,000 a year?
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know—most people don’t. The actual number, nationwide is somewhere less than 3% of families earn more than $250,000 a year. What did the survey respondents say when asked this question? The average response was close to 17%!—meaning your typical survey respondent thinks that almost 1 in 5 families in America earn that kind of money, when the answer is closer to 1 in 50!
Enos goes on to point out that there are only a few states where the actual number of $250K earners even cracks 8 percdnt — Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. But when the question was put to people in those states, they weren’t even half right, because their answers tilted upward, to about 21 percent.
Furthermore: the more money you make, and the more education you have, the more accurate your guess becomes. People making over $150K guessed an average of about 11 percent; those making under $30K thought it was more like 21 percent. College graduates guessed 12 percent; people with graduate degrees were closer, but not by much.
And only 15 percent of the survey participants answered 3 percent or under –though one-third of those answered “zero,” meaning they thought nobody in the country makes more than $250K a year. Deduct this disconnected 5 percent, and you’re left with just 10 percent of Americans who have a realistic sense of just how rare a $250K income is in this country.
While Republicans and Democrats gave about the same answers, the study also found that the more distorted peoples’ views were, the lower their opinion of President Obama was, and the more likely they were to vote Republican last November 2. The bottom line, says Enos is this: “A person that says 20 percent of people make $250,000 is more likely to vote Republican than a person that says 5 percent of people make $250,000.”
The irony, writes Enos, is that “people making less money actually believe that there are more wealthy people out there than wealthy people do.”
This distortion explains a good deal about why middle- and working-class people vote for the GOP. A quarter of a million dollars sounds like an attainable income to most people — they know at least a few people around town whom they imagine have already made it — and they honestly think that with the right break or a little work, they might get there someday, too. It could happen.
Combine this with the common misunderstanding about how marginal tax rates work (hint: it’s only the income over $250K that’s taxed at the higher rate, not the whole year’s take), and it’s not hard to see why so many people making the average household income of $53K are incensed by the idea of increasing the marginal tax rate on the top 3 percent — and why they think Obama is attacking them personally by suggesting such a horrible thing. They’ve bought into a myth about their chances of moving up the economic ladder that’s at vast odds with the actual facts.
Some critics think Obama picked the wrong number, and that proposing at top tax rate that kicks in at $500K or a cool million would have avoided this problem. The average voter might have had a harder time imagining these numbers as being attainable. Maybe so. But maybe not: given how strong the myth of the self-made American is, and how many falsehoods you have to take on faith to believe it, we may be dealing with a level of delusion that’s impervious to even really huge numbers, the kind that define only the top 0.5 percent of Americans.
We are living in a fact-free world now. Stories are all that matter. And in hard times, people tend to cling harder to their dreams — especially the dream that no matter how bad things are now, someday they’re going to rise above all this and triumph. Telling them the truth under these conditions is hard, and perhaps even cruel.
But one of the hallmarks of countries that are falling into chaos is that people come to believe more and more absurd things. Truth gives way to truthiness; facts aren’t given the same weight as feelings. The huge disconnect between people’s perceived prospects and their actual prospects shows just what a masterful job conservatives have done. They’ve convinced people to believe that their potential for mobility is as good or better than it ever was — even as they’ve stolen the usual routes to a better life (education, home ownership, public investment, and so on) right out from under them.
This post originally appeared at the Campaign for America’s Future.

29 December 2010

O'Reilly's shameful campaign

IN MY mind, when the Fox News star Bill O'Reilly decides to make you a target, it's a badge of honor. This is a man who politically is a proud Islamaphobe, declaring, "We have a Muslim problem, not a Muslim extremist problem." And personally? Anyone who likes to tell people how his "happy ending" masseuse thinks he's well endowed clearly has trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality.

That's why his latest attacks on University of Washington Assistant Professor Amy Hagopian tells far more about the twisted mind of O'Reilly than the serious study the professor authored.

Hagopian wrote an academic paper for the American Journal of Public Health making the case that military recruiters in high schools were in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a threat to the public health of adolescents, and even suggesting military recruiting behaviors were akin to--as she put it--"predatory grooming." It's a serious, data-packed analysis of the way recruiters have manipulated information and targeted the most economically disadvantaged students to fill the ranks of those fighting and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The overarching thesis of the study is hardly shocking or groundbreaking. After all, we know that in 2005, the Army ordered its recruiters to "stand down" for a day of retraining because of habitual mendacity. We know the intense pressures on military recruiters to meet quotas has led to a series of high-profile ethical violations.

I know from my work at D.C.-area high schools that the recruitment booths aren't set up at elite institutions like St. Alban's or Georgetown Prep. They're at public high schools like Ballou and Bell. In other words, recruiters fish in places where young people have fewer options. Hagopian's academic study simply backed up what has been over the last five years a very public scandal. This is what I thought when I read her paper.

When O'Reilly read her paper...all right, let's stop there. I will contend there is no way Bill O'Reilly actually read her piece. None. He doesn't reckon with any of Hagopian's sobering data. He doesn't reckon with the suicide rates among troops, the effects of exposure to depleted uranium or any of the ways that the realities of war are fudged by recruiters to fill their quotas.

There is just O'Reilly doing his neo-McCarthyite best to chill free speech. All O'Reilly needed was Hagopian's use of the word "predatory" when describing recruiters. Next thing you know, he was hitting the airwaves attacking Hagopian for calling recruiters "child molesters."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THIS IS sick. Why this is where O'Reilly and his producers' minds go is honestly between them and their Internet browsers. But tragically, when he sends his shock troops into battle, they can damage a person's life.

Now, Amy Hagopian, for the unholy crime of conducting academic inquiry into a public scandal, has been harassed by O'Reilly's loyal listeners. They have sent threatening letters and e-mails to the school offices. They have made a series of profane phone calls to her colleagues. They have contacted her university and demanded that she should be fired for writing a peer-reviewed publication in the primary journal of public health in America.

Please take a moment and imagine if that was you. Imagine if you created a contribution to public discourse to provoke discussion and debate. Imagine if you were ready to defend your findings against others who would surely disagree. And then imagine if instead you found yourself a personal target for a reactionary media giant using his outsized pulpit to make your life a living hell.

That's not journalism, and it's not punditry. It's the actions of an obscene, indecent bully. If there is one object lesson I've learned about O'Reilly's character from these attacks, it's that he clearly despises women who tell sobering truths. I suppose he just wants them to administer happy endings.

First published at Huffington Post.

28 December 2010

Einstein was right, you can be in two places at once



By Steve Connor

A device that exists in two different states at the same time, and coincidentally proves that Albert Einstein was right when he thought he was wrong, has been named as the scientific breakthrough of the year.

The machine, consisting of a sliver of wafer-thin metal, is the first man-made device to be governed by the mysterious quantum forces that operate at the level of atoms and sub-atomic particles.

Normal, everyday objects obey the laws of conventional Newtonian physics, named after Sir Isaac Newton, but these rules break down on the sub-atomic scale and a whole new branch of theoretical physics had to be invented to explain what happens on this sub-microscopic level.

Einstein was the first to embrace quantum physics but later rejected it on the grounds that it made everything unpredictable – "God does not play dice with the universe," he famously stated.

However, a range of effects has been recorded over the past few years that can only be explained by quantum mechanics and in March scientists were able to build the first device that seemed to follow the quantum rules that Einstein was the first to realise applied to light waves.

The breakthrough, recognised by the journal Science as the most significant this year, opens the way to a range of practical developments such as quantum computers that are far faster than conventional processors and which could never be hacked into because they handle and transmit data using an unbreakable form of encryption.

"Quantum theory dictates that a very tiny thing can absorb energy only in discrete amounts, can never sit perfectly still, and can literally be in two places at once," said Adrian Cho, a writer for Science. "This represents the first time that scientists have demonstrated quantum effects in the motion of a human-made object. It opens up a variety of possibilities ranging from new experiments that meld quantum control over light, electrical currents and motion to, perhaps someday, tests of the bounds of quantum mechanics and our sense of reality."

The breakthrough was achieved by physicists Andrew Cleland and John Martinis from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Their machine consisted of a tiny metal paddle made of semiconductor material just visible to the naked eye. By supercooling the device to just above absolute zero (minus 273C), then raising its energy by a "single quantum", they made it vibrate by getting thicker and thinner at a frequency of some 6 billion times a second, producing a detectable electric current. They even managed to get it to vibrate in two energy states at once, both a lot and a little – a phenomenon allowed only by the rules of quantum mechanics.

"Physicists still haven't achieved a two-places-at-once state with a tiny object like this one," Mr Cho said. "But now that they have reached this simplest state of quantum motion, it seems a whole lot more obtainable."

27 December 2010

Cuccinelli Virginia, how did he get elected?


Virginia's Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, is a teabagger. And like a lot of other teabaggers, he seems to be pretty ignorant of American history. But one of his latest pronouncements is particularly embarrassing, because it is so easily shown to be untrue.

Like many other teabaggers Cuccinelli is opposed to the new health care reform law. He says it is unconstitutional and has gone to court to have it tossed out. A Virginia judge found a part of the law unconstitutional the other day -- the part that requires citizens to purchase health insurance. Two other judges in different states have found the law was constitutional, so it will obviously have to at least go to an Appeals Court (if not all the way to the Supreme Court) to be decided.

But Cuccinelli thinks he has won some kind of victory and he was on CBS News yesterday doing a little bragging. And he decided to toss in a little analogy to prove his point. Here is what he said:

"Never before in our history has the federal government ordered Americans to buy a product under the guise of regulating commerce. Imagine, Bob, if this bill were that in order to protect our communities and homeland security, every American had to buy a gun. Can you image the reaction across the country to that? Well, the truth of the matter is, the same legal power is at stake in ordering us to buy health insurance."

The problem with his analogy is that it is flat wrong. Congress did pass a law that required every citizen to buy a gun and it was signed into law by President George Washington. It was the Second Militia Act of 1792. The young country was vulnerable and the law was designed to give the president the authority to call up a well-prepared militia in case of invasion by a foreign country, Indian attacks, or citizen uprisings (like the Whiskey Rebellion). Here is what the law said:

"[E]very citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter,provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack."

How embarrassing! The Congress passed the law and George Washington signed it, and it did exactly what Cuccinelli said the president and Congress couldn't do. Coming only five years after the Constitution was approved, one could expect that these congressmen knew what the Constitution would and wouldn't allow. And the law was NOT found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Obviously the Founding Fathers believed the government could require all citizens to purchase a product.

And before anyone runs out to buy a gun to be in compliance with this law, it was replaced by the Militia Act of 1903 which created the National Guard.
Posted by Ted McLaughlin

26 December 2010

What Energy Sources Do Your Tax Dollars Subsidize?



Republicans squawk about incentives for renewable energy because those are new & need approval, while dirty energy sources locked in their subsidies long ago - like, say, the tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks Virginia gives to dirty coal companies every year.

Why not eliminate all subsidies & put a simple price on carbon pollution? That's what truly terrifies dirty energy companies (and the politicians they fund).

From TheGreenMiles

25 December 2010

Tom Expresses My Deepest Feeings

Once Again Tom Degan has Hit the nail on the head!

I'm now having one of those "HUH?" moments that have occurred with more and more frequency in the last ten years. What should be happening at this point is a showing of unified national outrage. Instead it would seem that most of us could hardly care less. And the anger that is being expressed by the Tea party types is being directed in the wrong direction and for the wrong reasons. They actually believe that Barack Obama is some kind of left wing extremist when, in reality, he's as tepid a right-of-center moderate as we've had since Bill Clinton.

The policies of low taxation for the obscenely wealthy that have played so huge a part in our current economic catastrophe will be allowed to continue. The Republicans have made it abundantly clear that they plan to hold the government hostage unless the Bush tax cuts, scheduled to expire on the last day of this month, are allowed to be continued indefinitely. That means "forever". It also means a loss of four trillion dollars in revenue over the next decade; a lousy deal any way you dice it or slice it. The president of the United States, far from being the Progressive warrior his base was praying for when we sent him to the White House two years ago, appears hellbent on caving into their demands. As Theodore Roosevelt once privately said of President McKinley, "He has all the backbone of a chocolate eclair".

I never thought I would live to hear myself even think this, but the Democrats probably should have nominated Hilary Clinton two years ago. President Obama has let us down in every way imaginable. There is still a part of me that wants to believe that he still has a few cards up his sleeve and that he is within days of delivering an unexpected political counter-punch. Maybe. I really hope that's the case, but that hope is dwindling by the day. I know in his heart he is a good guy but his leadership style leaves much to be desired. Seriously, if this is the sort of change I'm expected to believe in, you can keep it.

FOR THE RECORD:
I still thank Heaven every day that John McCain is not at this moment sleeping in the White House. I am beside myself with joy that Fascist Barbie is not a seventy-four-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency. If you were thinking for a minute that I'm sorry that Obama won on Election Day 2008 - think again. As disappointed as I may be in the current administration, a McCain/Palin White House would have been the apocalypse. Now let's move on, shall we?

Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, is yet another stark reminder why I left the Democratic party nearly thirteen years ago. The fact that they're not half as bad as the Republicans doesn't make their very existence any easier to justify. It's getting clearer by the day that they don't really have our interests at heart. The overwhelming majority of the American people - unlike the small percentage of us perceptive enough to have seen the light - have their stakes tied up with either one of the two major political parties. They cannot see (or refuse to see) that both the Republicans and the Democrats are morally unfit to govern this country any longer. Unfortunately, as long as so many of us refuse to acknowledge this simple and undeniable truth, our slide into the abyss will only continue.

"And the dance band on the Titanic
Played 'Nearer My God To Thee'
The iceberg's on the starboard bough
Won't you dance with me?"

-Harry Chapin

And at this joyous time of the year, the GOP has delivered a holiday message to the people who are now suffering under the worse economic conditions since the 1930s, conditions that were largely brought on by them:

FUCK YOU, AMERICA!

They cannot bring themselves to relieve the burden of the unemployed at the risk of angering the handful of plutocrats they act as handmaidens for. They can't admit to themselves that the Bush tax cuts never made any feasible economic sense; that the policy of continuing a tax break for a class of people who already had more money than they knew what to do with was (to put it mildly) destructive to the interests of the vanishing middle class. And yet they continue on this destructive course. Why? What the hell is the matter with these people? If they seem just a tad crazy to you, it should be noted that they're crazy like a FOX News.

Make no mistake about it: Their ultimate goal is to bankrupt the nation to the point where mathematics will force for us to obliterate the social safety nets that have cushioned many an economic blow for regular working Americans for decades - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance. They want to see these programs obliterated. That's been their dream for nearly eight decades. And if the president of the United States refuses to stand up to these hideous bastards and bitches, their dream will be coming true a lot sooner than you might think. What needs to be understood is that the collapse of September 2008 was merely a harbinger of things to come.

WAIT! IT GETS WORSE!

They can't even bring themselves to provide for the care of the brave men and woman who responded to the disaster at the World Trade center nearly ten years ago - many of whom are sick and dying as a result of the noxious fumes they were forced to inhale into their lungs in the weeks that followed. Their reasoning? The nation simply can't afford it. And yet they can afford tax breaks for billionaires. Isn't life beautiful?

There's a part of me that finds it difficult - no, I find it impossible - to feel any degree of genuine sympathy for a lot of the people who will be affected by what is now transpiring. Most of them stupidly voted for the right wing in the last several election cycles. As far as I'm concerned they are going to get exactly what they deserve - screw 'em. It's the poor kids that I am saving my compassion for, not their idiotic parents. We've got to face the fact that this generation of children will be the first generation in American history whose opportunities and lifestyles will be far inferior to those that their moms and dads enjoyed. This generation of so-called "grownups" have left a debt so astronomical that our great grandchildren - who will never even know our names - will still be paying it off generations from now. What will they think of us? Fortunately we won't be around to have to look them in the eye.

Welcome to the United States of China. Enjoy your stay!

The nightmare that we are now experiencing at our southern border is nothing compared to the one Canada will be feeling within a decade. It will be a phenomenon never seen before: American refugees. Whoa! What a concept! In ten years this country won't be worth the paper that the maps of it are printed on. All because we in this generation refused to recognize our priorities. And here is the nasty little reality that no one has dared to mention. The damage that we've done to ourselves is more-than-likely insurmountable. Isn't that a sweet thought? The years between 1981 and 2011 will be remembered as the period when the United States committed a long and slow suicide. The damage is now complete. Get used to living in a country in ruins.

Wasn't the Reagan Revolution a blast?

Tom Degan
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

24 December 2010

Merry Friggin Chrismess

Tis the Season.

Take a look at the chart below. 3 sources, all the same conclusion, the world is warming FAST. A note to any climate change denying, right wing fascismos - I don;t think Jesus would do what you are.

Merry Friggin Chrismess

23 December 2010

Recession getting worse for Average Americans

Reposted from Jobsanger

The government and many pundits have been trying to tell us that things are getting better in America. Obviously they have been looking at Wall Street, where record bonuses are being given out, and not at Main Street. While the richest Americans, who are fixing to receive even more through a continuance of massive tax cuts, are doing very well, the rest of America is not.

For most of America the recession is far from over. There are millions of Americans that are still unemployed or underemployed -- around 17-18%. And while a very few minimum wage jobs are created, good paying jobs continue to be eliminated or shipped overseas. It will probably be years before the folks on Main Street can start coming out of this recession (which we will be calling a depression before long).

But the lack of jobs is only one aspect of the economic savagery being experienced by many Americans. The fact is that an ever-growing number of families are unable to feed themselves without help from food banks and government food stamps (and at least 20% of America's children live in these families).

According to the Department of Agriculture, who controls the food stamp program, increasing numbers of people are applying for food stamps. In September, there were 42.9 million people collecting food stamps -- about 14% of the total population (a 1.2% rise over August, and a 16.2% rise over this time last year).

Here in Texas, where our Republican leadership tells us the economy is good, we have about 3,837,839 people receiving food stamps -- 15.5% of the population (and a 24.6% rise over last year). That doesn't sound too good to me. Here are the states that have 15% or more of their population on food stamps (in alphabetical order):

Alabama..........849,785 (18%)
Arizona..........1,044,410 (15.8%)
Arkansas..........483,309 (16.7%)
District of Columbia..........128,759 (21.5%)
Florida..........2,881,019 (15.5%)
Georgia..........1,693,976 (17.2%)
Kentucky..........804,538 (18.6%)
Louisiana..........864,112 (19.2%)
Maine..........237,530 (18%)
Michigan..........1,884,751 (18.9%)
Mississippi..........601,432 (20.4%)
Missouri..........928,183 (15.5%)
New Mexico..........390,154 (19.4%)
North Carolina..........1,476,207 (15.7%)
Oklahoma..........613,531 (16.6%)
Oregon..........738,702 (19.3%)
South Carolina..........832,651 (18.3%)
Tennessee..........1,267,478 (20.1%)
Texas..........3,837,839 (15.5%)
Washington..........1,006,518 (15.1%)
West Virginia..........343,764 (18.9%)

Those are some shameful statistics (and 22 more states are in double digits). Yet the Republicans tell us they can't help these hurting Americans because it would increase the deficit -- but they don't mind increasing the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars to help the rich (the only people who don't need help). Does that make any sense?
Posted by Ted McLaughlin

22 December 2010

No Comment Needed

21 December 2010

Cancun Climate Conference - Another Dismal Failure



Reposted from Jobsanger

Another United Nations conference on how to prevent the fast approaching global climate change was just concluded -- this time in Cancun, Mexico. And just reading the media accounts and listening to the government representatives at the conference, a person might get the idea that a lot was accomplished and the world is well on the way toward solving the problem.

U.S. negotiator Todd Stern said, "What we have now is a text that, while not perfect, is certainly a good basis for moving forward." That should tell us something right there. The U.S. is happy with the results of the conference, which means that nothing concrete or binding was agreed to during the conference, and the giant polluting corporations can breathe a little easier since they won't be required to clean up their act.

The United States, the only nation that didn't sign the Kyoto Agreement (which rendered it useless), has always been one of the major stumbling blocks in reaching an agreement that would stop (or even slow down) global climate change. So if the U.S. is happy, then nothing significant was accomplished.

The conference did do a couple of things. It created a fund of $100 billion a year through the year 2020 to help developing nations stop deforestation and keep their carbon footprint small. In plain English, they agreed that the taxpayers in the United States and other developed countries should pay the developing countries to keep their oil use low (so the developed nations can keep hogging most of it). The problem with this is that it's not these developing nations that are dumping most of the carbon emissions into the air, so that does little or nothing to stop global climate change.

The conference also agreed that deeper (but still inadequate) cuts in carbon emissions are needed. But they did not agree to any kind of binding agreement on how that was to be accomplished, or how much any nation would be required to cut. All they did was to kick that political can a little further down the road.

There was only one nation that emerged from the conference telling the truth -- Bolivia. The Bolivian delegation chief, Pablo Solon, said, "We're talking about a reduction in emissions of 13-16%, and what this means is an increase of more than 4C. Responsibly, we cannot go along with this -- this would mean we went along with a situation that my president has termed 'ecocide and genocide'."

The Bolivian delegation is absolutely right. The Cancun conference was a dismal failure and solved nothing. The countries will meet about a year from now in South Africa and try again. But even though we'll be a year closer to the tipping point of global climate change (the point at which it cannot be stopped or significantly mitigated), I doubt much will be accomplished there either. The giant corporations are too powerful in the developed world, and it is the developed world that must do most of the cutting of carbon emissions (thus harming short-term corporate profits).

Maybe T.S. Eliot was right. Maybe the world will end with a whimper rather than a bang. And it'll be pollution and global climate change that causes the whimpering.
Posted by Ted McLaughlin

20 December 2010

America's Largest PV Power Plant Is Now Live

Boulder City, Nevada, USA -- Last week the largest PV power plant in the U.S. quietly went online in Boulder City, Nevada, about 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Sempra Generation's 48-MW Copper Mountain Solar Facility began construction in January 2010 and on Dec 1st, the company announced that it had finished the project and the facility was now generating electricity.

At its peak, Sempra said, more than 350 construction workers were installing the 775,000 First Solar panels that power the plant on the 380-acre site.

The power from Copper Mountain Solar and Sempra Generation’s adjacent 10-MW El Dorado Solar plant has been sold to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) under separate 20-year contracts. California utilities are required to procure 20 percent of their energy supply from alternative sources by the end of 2010, increasing to 33 percent by 2020. RenewableEnergyWorld.com profiled the El Dorado plant in 2008. Play the video below to see a tour of it.

The completion of the project eclipsed the 20-MW DeSoto PV plant in Arcadia Florida, which was the previous record holder for the largest U.S. solar power plant.

This moves the U.S. into the “top five” when it comes to large PV power plants; only Canada, Italy, Germany and Spain have bigger plants, according PV Power Plants 2010, which ranks the top 50 facilities.

19 December 2010

Soak the Poor Republicanism is Back in Vogue


Reposted from Half Empty

I’ve been silent about this looming insanity because I have been waiting for someone in the media to finally get some Republican talking head to finally admit that they are bringing back the old Republican saw of “Soak the Poor.”

Or words to that effect.

But no, the hypocrisy is rampant. Republicans are using the millions of out-of-work Americans to justify not raising taxes on the richest among us because, they say, it is the rich that create jobs. But you know, that is one of their biggest whoppers. Trickledown economics is a theory, like Intelligent Design, that cannot be proven. Cannot be proven because there are no hard facts that cutting taxes on the rich creates jobs.

As a matter of fact, the only thing cutting taxes on the rich is sure to accomplish is to run up an already staggering deficit even higher, something Teabaggers and Republicans have been screaming about at the tops of their lungs for a couple of years now – ever since Bush left office.

But amazingly enough, the one thing that can help our unemployed, extending unemployment, at a much lower cost than shoveling money at the rich, the Republicans are dead set against that.

In effect, the Republican plan, if you could call it a plan, is to soak the poor and the middle class and give it to the rich, running up the deficit even higher.

Msidooh Nibor.

Robin Hoodism in reverse.

18 December 2010

WTF Mate?



Take a good look at this graph of the contribution to the return of the budget deficit. Remember in 2000 when GBII stole the election we had budget surpluses. Look at what happened the last time the repubes had power.

How the HELL did they regain it?

2 resasons.

1) The Dems by in large are corporate owned pandering wussys.
2) Right wing dis information (faux news, etc.)

AMERICA I AM ASHAMED! (again)

17 December 2010

Surviving The Republican Recession


Reposted from Jobsanger

It's taken the recession years to do it, but they've finally succeeded in giving this country back to the rich (and in the process, screwing everyone else). They've fixed it so the rich have most of the wealth and income of the country (back to pre-Depression levels) and seem intent on giving even more to the richest Americans. As we've seen in the last couple of days they're willing to sacrifice the small tax cuts to workers to make sure the rich get their massive cuts.

Of course this, along with their continuing support of corporate outsourcing of the few good jobs left in America, will just lengthen and deepen the recession for all other Americans. And they've capped this off by denying an extension of unemployment benefits to the people their policies have thrown out of work. Now they want to start the dismantling of Social Security and other social programs to make sure their rich benefactors won't have to pay any future taxes.

The upshot of all of this is that the vast majority of Americans are in deep trouble, and there is little prospect of things getting better any time soon. Blogger Badtux, the Snarky Penguin, has been giving advice to ordinary Americans on how to survive the Republican recession and yesterday he offered up an affordable recipe to help Americans get their needed protein. As a public service, I now reprint Badtux's excellent recipe post. I hope you never need it, but the way things are going I wouldn't bet against it. Badtux says:


Congress has thus far refused to extend unemployment benefits despite the fact that there are over 10 people unemployed for every open job in America, so here's a good recipe for you to get your daily protein intake. Most of these ingredients should be available at your local food bank, other than the meat, which is the important source of protein that you need to maintain health:
Rat Croquettes
rat(s)
salt
pepper
sage
cornmeal
butter
Dress rats ready to cook; cook until meat falls off the bones, then let cool. Work out the bones with your hands and chop meat fine; season with a little salt, pepper and sage. Make into cakes. Roll in cornmeal and finally, fry in butter.
That is Congress's message to the unemployed: Let them eat rats.
-- Badtux the Culinary Penguin
Posted by Ted McLaughlin

16 December 2010

Understanding Derivatives

Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Detroit . She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar. To solve this problem, she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later.

Heidi keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers' loans). Word gets around about Heidi's "drink now, pay later" marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi's bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in Detroit .

By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Heidi gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Consequently, Heidi's gross sales volume increases massively.

A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Heidi's borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS. These securities then are bundled and traded on international securities markets.

The President and his financial advisors become concerned about the massive expansion of the Drinkbond market and ask the Congressional oversight committees to rein in the process and investigate the GSE's that are underwriting the Bonds. The President is not aware that Heidi has given unlimited free drinking rights in perpetuity to the ranking members of the oversight committees, BF & CD.

These oversight committee members state that all is well both in the Drinkbond market and the GSE's and in fact more unemployed drinkers should be given access to free whiskey.


Naive investors don't really understand that the securities being sold to them as AAA secured bonds really are debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation's leading brokerage houses.

One day, even though the bond prices still are climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi's bar. He so informs Heidi.

Heidi then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and Heidi's 11 employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBOND prices drop by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank's liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.The suppliers of Heidi's bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms' pension funds in the BOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.

Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multibillion dollar no-strings attached cash infusion from their cronies in government. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who have never been in Heidi's bar.

Now do you understand?

15 December 2010

No Comment Needed

Ignore the form part at the end!

14 December 2010

Something's Wrong With This Picture: Corporations Have Most Profitable Quarter in U.S. History as Unemployment Soars

Reposted from Alternet

According to a new report (PDF) from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. corporate profits are at an all-time high, despite the turbulent economy. At the same time, the real unemployment rate remains astronomically high, affecting some 1 in 5 Americans.

Reports Raw Story:

America's poor and middle classes are under siege, with a mostly stagnant job market that has shown only marginal signs of improvement.

Yet for seven fiscal quarters running -- since President Obama's election -- American corporate profits have shown strong growth.

According to a New York Times analysis, Q3 2010 saw the largest corporate profits in recorded US history, at $1.66 trillion.

The government releases a few different unemployment rates. The official rate stands at about 9%, while the so-called "real" unemployment rate, which includes underemployed Americans, is an astounding 17.5%. Even worse, experts have found that as many as 22% of the nation's households have at least one member looking for full-time employment.

So basically, it's the same old story: the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. Indeed, a July Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report (PDF) found that the income disparity between rich and poor in America is at its widest in over 80 years.

The top 1 percent of households in the US have seen a 281 percent rise in after-tax income since 1979, the center found. Meanwhile, the bottom fifth of American earners have seen only a 16 percent increase since 1979: a percentage which doesn't account for value lost due to inflation.

According to inflation calculations by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it would take $75,313.71 of today's money to match the buying power of just $25,000 in 1979.

13 December 2010

Small Price To Pay ?

12 December 2010

The Myth That The Rich Need More Help

From Ted McLaughlin @ Jobsanger


There is a huge lie being spread by right-wing Republicans. They are trying to convince Americans that the richest Americans and corporations are taxed too heavily and are hurting. They want people to think that these rich investors and corporations need help in the form of massive tax breaks. They further say that if more money is given to the rich, it will create more jobs for ordinary Americans and help the rich to compete with foreign investors and corporations.

This is not just a lie -- it is an outrageous lie. A Commerce Department report released on Tuesday shows that American businesses (especially large corporations) actually earned record profits in the third quarter of this year. For that quarter, American business show profits at an annual rate of $1.66 trillion -- the highest figure since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago.

And the third quarter figures are not an anomaly. The profit figures for American businesses have grown for the last seven quarters in a row. There seems to be little doubt that this recession (which is still raging for the vast majority of Americans) is not affecting the corporations and the rich at all. They are doing better than ever.

The bad part is that the rich are getting richer on the backs of ordinary Americans. One of the major reasons for the record business profits is due to either doing away with or outsourcing American jobs. In other words, the rich are getting massively richer by making other Americans poorer.

This shows the Republican claim that letting the rich have more money will create more jobs. Even though their profits have gone up for the last seven quarters, there has not been any significant hiring. This should not surprise anyone. Businesses do not hire workers because they have a profit increase or a tax decrease. They hire workers because they need more workers to meet the demand for their goods or services. And the opposite is also true. Businesses do not lay off workers because of higher taxes -- they do it because they don't need those workers to meet demand. To hire or fire workers for any reason other than demand would be foolish and very bad business practice.

So it would be silly to believe that giving these people, who are making record profits, a massive tax cut would create jobs. Study after study has shown that cutting taxes is a very poor job creator. The only thing that will spur job creation in the private sector is an increase in demand for products and services. Giving the rich more money will not create that demand, since they already have enough money to buy whatever they want. The way to stimulate demand is to put more money in the hands of poor and working people, because that money must be spent and will boost the economy for everyone -- both creating jobs and fattening the profits of businesses.

The other reason given by Republicans for cutting taxes for corporations and the super rich is that they are more heavily taxed than corporations and investors in other countries. The chart above shows that is simply not true. The effective tax rate paid by American corporations is actually less than in many other developed countries when looked at as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

As for investors, they actually pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than even middle class workers. That's because they pay a capital gains tax instead of income tax (and capital gains are taxed at a much lower rates than income received from actual work).

The rich and corporate entities are NOT being taxed at a higher rate than in other countries, and giving them even more money will not create significant job creation. To be blunt, there is only one reason to give the rich further tax cuts -- greed. And this greed, while it may fill Republican campaign coffers for future elections, will just further damage the economy for most Americans, by stunting job creation and increasing the vast gulf between the income and wealth of the richest Americans and the rest of America.

While it might make sense to continue taxing most Americans at a lower rate because they are still being hurt badly by the continuing recession -- such a case cannot be made for the richest 2% of Americans. Giving them a further tax cut will just increase the deficit while doing nothing to help the economy.

The rich know this -- most are just so greedy that they don't care. It doesn't matter to them that politicians are considering cutting programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage (programs that help Americans that really need help) as long as they can fatten their already bulging bank accounts. I say "most" because there are a few of the rich who will admit the truth.

Billionaire Warren Buffett is one of the few rich men/women who is brave enough to tell the truth. He knows that most Americans are hurting in this recession while the rich are not. He also knows that the rich owe their society and their country more because they have been given or been able to make more. Listen to what he told Christiane Amanpour in an interview that is to air on November 28th on ABC:

“If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and maybe even the upper middle class should even probably be cut further. But I think that people at the high end -- people like myself -- should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we’ve ever had it.”


“The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we’ll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.”


As Buffett says, the "trickle down" theory of economics has already been discredited. It should be tossed into the trashbin of history. The rich are being taxed at a lower rate than at any time since before World War II, and that would still be true if the Bush tax cuts for the rich were allowed to expire. What this country needs is a lot of new jobs (and I don't mean minimum wage jobs). Tax cuts for the rich will not accomplish that.

Don't believe the Republican lies!

11 December 2010

It's Not Fascism Yet, But...

From BOB

We're getting closer and we'll know more when the results of 2012 are in.


There are five stages of fascism. Here are the first two.

In the first stage, a mature industrial state facing some kind of crisis breeds a new, rural movement that's based on nationalist renewal. This movement invariably rejects reason and glorifies raw emotion, promises to restore lost national pride, co-opts the nation's traditional myths for its own purposes, and insists that the country must be purged of the toxic influence of outsiders and intellectuals who are blamed for their current misery. (Sound familiar?)

In the second stage, the movement takes root, turns into a real political party, and seizes a seat at the table. Success at this stage, "depends on certain relatively precise conditions: the weakness of a liberal state, whose inadequacies condemn the nation to disorder, decline, or humiliation; and political deadlock because the Right, the heir to power but unable to continue to wield it alone, refuses to accept a growing Left as a legitimate governing partner." (Paging the Party of No....)

In the face of this deadlock, the corporate elites forge an alliance with rural nationalists, creating an unholy marriage that, if it continues, will soon breed a fascist state. And, of course, this is precisely what's happening now between the Koch Brothers, the oil companies, Americans for Prosperity, and the Tea Party and aided by at least three individuals on the SCOTUS.

The majority of history's would-be fascist movements have died right at this stage -- almost always because of the basic authoritarian ineptitude of their leadership, which ensured that they'd never gain anything more than a small and temporary handful of seats at the political table. The successful fascisms, on the other hand, were the ones that held together and gained enough political leverage that capturing their governments became inevitable. And once that happened, there was no turning back, because they now had the political power and street muscle to silence any opposition. (Fascist parties almost never enjoy majority support at any stage -- but being a minority faction is only a problem in a functioning democracy. It's no problem at all if you're willing to use force to get your way.)

There are three quick questions that let you know you've crossed that fail-safe line beyond which an emerging fascist regime has too much power to be stopped:

1. Are [neo- or protofascisms] becoming rooted as parties that represent major interests and feelings and wield major influence on the political scene?

2. Is the economic or constitutional system in a state of blockage apparently insoluble by existing authorities?

3. Is a rapid political mobilization threatening to escape the control of traditional elites, to the point where they would be tempted to look for tough helpers in order to stay in charge?

If the answer to all three is "yes," you're probably on for the rest of the ride, which can run for at least a decade or two before it burns through.

A year ago, we here at BoB noted that we were already three for three on these questions. Now, the "yes" answers are far more resounding. With over 70 Tea Party candidates having run for major state and federal offices on the ballot on November 2 past, it's fair to say that the 2010 election was shaped as a national referendum on the Tea Party's future viability. And if they had succeeded at winning enough of these races, it may very well have been the last vote on the subject we would ever get.

This unification of right-wing forces around radical far-right ideas has never happened on anything like this scale in modern American history. And it's why we need to recognize the Tea Party as something unique under the political sun -- and seriously evaluate the future that awaits us if it becomes any more powerful.

Here's how Milton Mayer, writing in They Thought They Were Free described his experiences as the Nazi thrall descended in Germany:

In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’

And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic.

And yet the day comes when it's all too clear, Mayer writes -- and on that day, it's too late to stand up.

Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.

Be the one who sees where this is taking us. Be the one who stands while you still can. The future these people have in mind for us is one that dozens of countries have already lived through; and all of them will carry the scars for centuries. It's not fascism yet; but if the Tea Party manages to get its hands on the levers of power, it will be.

10 December 2010

A Sober Reflection

Back in February 2008, I ripped into Obama's "health care plan" as published on his web site, and in passing noted that pretty much every policy I saw posted there was a right-wing policy -- that is, Obama was basically a Republican, just not part of the Republican Party because of that whole white hoods thingy. Everybody told me I was crazy, a black man just had to be a liberal because he was, well, black, just like Jesse Jackson!

Well, I think we're pretty much past the point where it's clear that, idiotic natterings from the right wing peanut gallery about "socialism" aside (where they accuse Obama of being "socialist" for continuing the same pro-big-business policies of George W. Bush including continuing Bush's bailouts of banks and auto companies), Obama is, well, a right-wing conservative. His economic policies are right-wing. His health care plan was a Republican plan, for cryin' out loud, he's even admitted that himself, that he took a Republican plan (RomneyCare) that was designed by the Heritage Foundation and pushed that upon America (all natterings about "socialist healthcare" aside). And of course there's his Catfood Commission, which is intent upon making even catfood too expensive as a source of protein for America by implementing right-wing "austerity" economics guaranteed to plunge the country into a Greater Depression (next up in my recipe list: rat etoufee over rice, it's tasty!). And finally... Krugman states what we bloggers have been saying for a couple of years now: Obama is a conservative. A paleo-conservative like Pat Buchanan or George H.W. Bush, not an insane neo-conservative like the Bush crowd, but a conservative nonetheless, and because conservative economic policies are incapable of dealing with a depression, probably a one-term President like Jimmy Carter (another conservative Democrat whose conservative economic policies of cutting the deficit and deregulating industry were incapable of handling the economic situation he found himself in).

The sad thing is that the Democratic Party will decide that the answer to electing a righty who is accused of being a socialist by Republicans will be to nominate someone even more right-wing than Obama. That’s how the Democratic Party seems to work. If you lose elections because your candidates are basically Republicans in drag and folks prefer their Republicans straight-up, why, double-up on the stupid!

Sigh. WASF.

- Badtux the Walking-oddly Penguin

09 December 2010

A real green school

08 December 2010

Serious Tax Problems



Excellent Piece by Tom Degan

I hate America for what it's become. I love America for what it was. I adore America for what it could be.

Right wing interpretation: TOM DEGAN HATES AMERICA!!!

Are you a Republican? Did you vote the straight GOP line in the last election? Then please read the following offering. Or could it be that you've never vote for that hideous party in your life? Good for you! You should feel proud! You're obviously a whole hell-of-a-lot smarter than me! You see, I voted for Ronald Reagan thirty years ago this month. But at least I have an excuse for my civic irresponsibly - lame as it may sound three decades after the horrible fact. You see, on Election Night of that year - November 4, 1980 - I was extremely - devastatingly - intoxicated. Reagan was such an idiot I thought it might be amusing to watch him running the country for four years. They'll never reelect him in '84, I thought. The moral of this story?

DON'T DRINK AND VOTE.

I have been stone-cold sober every election day since. Heed my tragic example, boys and girls.

Please, e-mail this piece to any and all of your Conservative friends. I'm about to give a them a valuable little lesson in reality and remedial mathematics. I have a sneaky feeling that many of them haven't a clue as to the dreadful seriousness of our present situation. How did I arrive at this conclusion you may ask? Well, the fact that they just handed the House of Representatives back to the party mostly (though not entirely) responsible for this mess is a pretty good indicator of their essential cluelessness. As a matter of fact it was a dead giveaway. There will be a quiz immediately following. Tell 'em to put their thinking caps on!

SIDE NOTE:
The nice folks over at Spell Check are gently but firmly informing me that "cluelessness" is not a proper word. I am chastised and humbled by this knowledge.

Here's the dirty little secret that NOBODY is talking about: The debt that the United States has incurred in the last ten years is now at a level where it's probably insurmountable. The only solution (and that's assuming there is a viable solution) will involve taxes - decades of serious taxation. This is the ugly little reality facing us. Now the big question: On whose shoulders should the burden of getting out of this mess fall - the poor and middle classes? I've got a better idea: How 'bout a class of people who already have more money that they know what to do with? How 'bout the people who benefited the most from the thirty-year financial binge that this country engaged in? Am I waging class warfare? You'd better believe it, Buster. The plutocracy has been waging class warfare against us since the nineteenth century. I don't know about you but I'm fightin' back, baby!
`
The anti-tax paranoia in this country is beyond being out-of-hand. It's gotten downright ludicrous. Montana is now the bat-shit extremist capital of the United States (Sorry South Carolina, you had a nice, long run). In an excellent article by that was posted on AlterNet this morning, the writer David Neiwert told of how some elected representatives in that state's legislature are now advocating secession from the union. This rsises the musical question: What the hell is in Montana's water?

It kind of makes you wonder, huh? So what if Montana demanded secession from the union? What then? I say let them secede. The next time Rick Perry brings up the subject of removing Texas from the union, we ought to call his bluff. I was tempted to suggest giving that state back to the Mexicans but - what the hell - they have enough problems as it is. Why add to their burden?

Let's allow these twits create the right wing Valhalla they yearn for - and then sit back and watch their "countries" implode from within. It may very well turn out to be a valuable lesson which the "limited-government" types living within the rest of the forty-eight states need to learn. It would also be loads of fun to watch - from afar that is.

Let's allow these silly bastards to secede. In fact, we ought to encourage it. Seriously.

Here is what the Tea Party freaks have never been able to figure out. We're either going to have one of two things in this country: We will have a society where our children receive decent educations; where crime is relatively low; where jobs are abundant; where the middle class is thriving, and the infrastructure is nurtured....or we'll have a society where the people who already have more money than they know what to do with do not pay their fair share of taxes. We cannot - we will not - have both. Our politicians won't tell you that. I just did. Isn't the truth a neat thing?

As I stated above, this is class warfare.

Then again, even with a fair, progressive tax system put back into place, it is now unlikely that we will be able to give American's infrastructure the kick in the pants that it so desperately needs. Remember, we are thirteen-trillion dollars in the hole. The decades of serious taxation I spoke of earlier will go to paying that debt. Under these nasty circumstances, how will we be able to invest in us? The solution is a lot simpler than you might imagine.

You and I will be paying more in taxes in the years to come. That is unavoidable. Come to grips with the idea. Here's the good news: We'll be paying a bit more. The rich will be paying a lot more. Here is the ONLY way out of the mess that the Republicans and more-than-a-few Democrats have gotten us into: We absolutely need to bring back the ninety percent tax bracket for the uber wealthy. That is the only way out. The only way. It amazes me that after all these years, the Republicans still want us to buy into the myth that says glad tidings will "trickle down" on the rest of us. Is that really true? Well, yeah. If you like getting pissed on, it's very true indeed.

Here is that little quiz that I promised at the beginning of this piece. Truth be told, it's not a quiz but a single rhetorical question:

How is it mathematically possible to maintain things as they presently are?

Any takers?

07 December 2010

U.S. Won't Support Children's Rights


I can't imagine that any decent person would think that recruiting or forcing children to be soldiers in a war, regardless of the reason or justification for that war, is proper. It's not. It's nothing less than child abuse -- as bad as any physical or sexual abuse.

Posted from Jobsanger

Back in 2008, there was some hope that the United States would take action with other countries to stop the travesty of child soldiers. Congress passed the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, and it was signed into law by President Bush. This law would deny United States aid to any country where children served as soldiers. The law wasn't a cure-all, but at least it did something.

When President Obama was elected, many of us on the left thought this law would be enforced, and maybe even more could be done. After all, don't the Democrats pride themselves on protecting and expanding human rights (and surely children are humans)? We were wrong. It has now become apparent that the United States is not really serious about enforcing the law, and the Democrats (at least those currently in power) aren't really serious about rights when it comes to children.

Last month President Obama decided that four countries (who all have child soldiers) should be exempt from the Child Soldiers Prevention Act. Why are these four countries (Chad, Congo, Sudan, Yemen) not required to eliminate child soldiers or lose American aid? Because they support American foreign policy goals. The president has ordered that military aid be continued to these countries.

It turns out that the government figures the law should only apply to our enemies, and not to countries we consider to be friendly to our policies. This effectively neuters the law and makes it totally ineffective. We already deny aid to our enemies, so if the law doesn't apply to our friends then it is useless.

I guess this shouldn't surprise anyone since the United States is one of only two countries in the world that refuses to recognize that children even have rights (and the other country, Somolia, doesn't have a functioning government). Every country in the world, even those who normally aren't considered as guardians of human rights in general, has ratified and signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (which guarantees certain basic rights to all children).

And it's not like the Convention is a recent document that the United States needs time to study. It was written in 1989 -- 21 years ago. There has been plenty of time during the administrations of both parties to ratify the Convention and nothing has been done. Why doesn't the United States believe children should have rights like all other humans?
Posted by Ted McLaughlin

06 December 2010

Mexification Complete

U.S. now has wealth distribution typical of 3rd world banana republics. The Reagan Revolution is complete -- the wealth of America has now been transferred from the middle class to the top 1%, who now make 24% of the income -- and own 34% of the wealth. Meanwhile, the top 5% of Americans own more of America than the entire bottom 95% of Americans combined -- roughly 60% of America's wealth.

Congratulations, Republicans, for your successful Mexification of America. You took a country that had a thriving middle class and turned it into a nation where the vast majority of the middle class is groveling on their knees for trickle-down that looks an awful lot like the view from the bottom of a urinal. And you bastards in the former middle class.... SIIIIIiiiigh. You are too fucking stupid to even notice it, instead whining "thank you sir please give me more!" and voting for the same evil-ass politicians who butt-fucked you in the first place...

As for the Democrats -- I just got a letter from good ole' Barry Obama dated August 8 stating that the upcoming election is going to be critical to the future of America and please donate and please vote. I got that motherfucking letter *TODAY*, folks -- err, a week AFTER the election. Stupid-ass Democrats are fucking useless, the most inept buncha clowns to ever stumble drunk out of a clown car.

Siiiiigh.... we are so fucked, yo. So I guess I'll leave ya with a joke: Q: How is American beer like fucking in a canoe?

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
A: It's fucking close to water.

That is all.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

04 December 2010

A Couple of Thoughts for the new Repubes

"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Proverbs 14:31

"The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern." Proverbs 29:7

03 December 2010

Democrats Are NOT A Leftist Party



Another excellent commentary by Ted McLaughlin

The picture above is a sign of our times. The right-wingers and teabaggers, which have taken over the Republican Party and driven out any remaining moderates, are doing their best to demonize anyone anyone not on the fringe of the right-wing as socialists, left-wingers or communists. They would like everyone to believe that the Democratic Party and its leaders such as President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are so far to the left as to be un-American. That's utterly ridiculous!

It's sad that they have been able to marginalize the true left, which the right successfully equated with communism back in the 1930s and nearly eliminated. This left-wing began to make a comeback in the 1960s, but has yet to be fully rehabilitated in the eyes of the American people. While there are more of us each year, we are still a long way from gaining any real power in this country.

The truth is that President Obama, along with Pelosi and Reid, are nowhere near being true leftists. I know because I am an unashamed leftist (actually a real socialist). I wish the Democratic Party and its leaders were leftists -- the country would be a lot better off. But there is only one real leftist in Congress (and none in the White House), and that is Senator Bernie Sanders -- who is not a member of the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party is composed mainly of centrists and conservatives (and nearly all of them are corporatists). By branding these centrists as "socialists" the Republicans are trying to move the country away from the middle and further to the right. They know this is largely a centrist country, so they want to move that center to the right and closer to their own fascist views.

But there is no leftist party in the United States. There is only the far-right (Republicans) and the slightly-right (Democrats). Even the conservatives in other countries (like Canada and Great Britain) are much closer to the U.S. Democrats than the fringe-right Republicans. There is no longer a major party that truly represents the left.

If you've read this blog for any time, then you'll know I usually vote for and support Democrats. That's not because they are leftists like myself (they aren't), but because the Republicans have gone so far to the right that they are scary (and even a center-right alternative like the Democrats are preferable). That's just the pitiful state that United States politics is in at this time. Left-wing philosopher and author Noam Chomsky puts it this way:

"I would drop the term left, 'cause, I mean, what is called the left in the media is what used to be called moderate Republicans. The so-called new Democrats are barely—they're essentially what moderate Republicans were 30, 40 years ago. The Republicans are just brashly and openly the party of private power, private tyranny. They—I mean, they talk about we're the common man and elites, but so does everyone. But if you look at the policies, that's what it is. Take, say, Obama. I mean, the core of his funding in the 2000 [sic] election was actually financial institutions. And when groups of investors get together to control the state—what we call an election—they expect to be paid back. And they were.

[...] for roughly 35, 30 years, a little more, wages for the majority, real wages, have pretty much stagnated, working hours have increased. People have been getting by by having two adults working, or women in the workforce at lower wages, and by debt, and by asset inflation, like, say, the housing bubble. Well, that's just not viable. And meanwhile these same people see that there's plenty of wealth around, but it's going into very few pockets. I mean, the top maybe 1 percent or even one-tenth of 1 percent of the population have been making out like bandits. And so we now have this incredible inequality, maybe back to the '20s, or maybe even a record. And this is part of people's consciousness. I'm working harder. Things are getting worse. I'm working more hours. Benefits which were never very good have declined. Meanwhile, other people are getting very rich. Something's wrong. Give me an answer. They were right to ask for an answer. They're not going to get it from the Democrats, the people who are called the left, because they are the ones who have been denying and implementing policies. They're not going to say, yeah, that's true; that's what happens when we participated in the huge growth of the financial sector, which is of dubious significance for the economy, may be harmful, largely; we did that, and we assisted the policy of hollowing out production, which is a policy of setting working people in competition with each other throughout the world. So what we call our trade policies—a bad term for it. Certainly not free-trade policies. What are called free-trade policies are essentially a program setting working people against each other throughout the world, but protecting the privileged people."

I would like to be an optimist and say that things will change in this country. That the left-wing will re-emerge in a big way and bring more social justice to the poor, workers, and even the middle class (which Republicans have also abandoned). But it may still be a while. The Republican policies (and to a smaller degree the Democratic policies) are ruining this country. They have already brought us a serious recession and jettisoned over 12 million jobs.

Now they want to continue broadening the class and wealth divide by letting the rich get an ever-increasing share of the country's total wealth and income. When this gap is large enough and the bottom 95% of the population are virtually paupers, then we'll see a second Great Depression. Maybe then people will return to the social justice views of the true left -- but not before. It took the left to bring this country out of the first Great Depression. I just hope there will be enough remaining for the left to save us from the second one.

The American people have been deluded into thinking the right will save them. They are wrong. And the people will finally fight back when things get bad enough. The economic boot of the rich can only be kept on the necks of the people for so long, and then they will rise up and remove it. It's just a question of how long it will be and how bad things will get.

02 December 2010

U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Has Sordid History


If there is a single organization that supports increasing the vast income and wealth gap between the richest Americans and the rest of us, it is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCOC). The name of this organization would seem to make one think that they would be in support of policies that would favor all American businesses. But that is not true. They favor the huge corporations and the richest Americans over all others -- including America's small business men and women.

Reposted from Jobsanger

They have consistently opposed policies that would help ordinary Americans, both small businesses and workers, in favor of helping only the richest Americans. And they get a lot of their money from foreign corporations, which is no surprise since they have actively supported the outsourcing of American jobs for many years now. But that is just the beginning. The USCOC has a long and rather sordid history of supporting policies and candidates that would hurt most Americans. Here is a partial list of their activities that was composed by the blog Think Progress:


– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long opposed women’s rights. For example, the Chamber lobbied against Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) bill to allow victims of rape to file a lawsuit against their defense contractor employers. The Chamber also lobbied against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and numerous other bills to address systematic gender inequality.

– The U.S Chamber of Commerce has been the driving force against consumer, worker, and public safety laws for nearly a century. This year, itlobbied against regulating BPA, a chemical found to cause birth defects and genital mutations. The Chamber has a history of fighting work place safety regulations, the Clean Air Act, the Mine Safety Act, and other fundamental programs used to strengthen American society.

— The U.S. Chamber of Commerce helped President Bush in his attempt to privatize Social Security and his drive to deregulate Wall Street. Even during President Roosevelt’s era, the Chamber lobbied against the New Deal agenda, especially the passage of Social Security. After its members helped cause the Great Depression, the Chamber still fought against regulating Wall Street as well as measures such as unemployment insurance. Chamber officials charged that Roosevelt was attempting to “Sovietize America.”

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is responsible for many of the policies that have made America the most unequal in terms of income/wealth distribution in the industrialized world. On tax policy, the Chamber has pushed efforts to repeal the estate tax while helping to pass the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Corporate tax loopholes promoted by the Chamber ensure that corporations like ExxonMobil pay zero corporate income taxes while regular American workers foot much of the Treasury’s bill. The Chamber also opposed the creation of a minimum wage, and has lobbied against nearlyevery increase in the federal minimum wage.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t even necessarily represent American businesses. As first reported by ThinkProgress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently began a fundraising program soliciting foreign corporations to give to the Chamber’s account that in turn was used to run attack ads during the midterm elections. The Chamber admitted that it fundraises from foreign donors, but has refused to reveal how it finances its political campaign expenditures. ThinkProgress noted that the Chamber has aided its foreign members by lobbying this year to kill a bill to close tax loopholes for businesses that ship jobs overseas, and has even sponsoredseminars to teach businesses how to ship their jobs to places like China.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has consistently sided with polluters and the fossil fuel industry. Not only has the Chamber challenged the science of climate change, but after BP’s oil spill, Chamber CEO Tom Donohue said American taxpayers should pay for the clean up.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce practices the politics of division and hate when it serves their corporate interests. Throughout 2010, the Chamber worked closely with hate television star Glenn Beck, who calls President Obama a “racist” who has a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” Top Chamber lobbyists met secretly with Beck at a meeting in June to plan the midterm elections, and Beck has sponsored on-air fundraisers for the Chamber. Similarly, the Chamber joined Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) to eagerly brand political opponents — like labor organizers and liberal intellectuals — as communists during McCarthy’s red scare.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has worked to give corporations unfettered control of government. For instance, the Chamber successfully filed an amicus brief in the Citizens United case to roll back nearly a century of campaign finance laws. Because of the Chamber’s efforts, corporations can spend unlimited amounts in American elections. Now the Chamber is attempting to repeal legislation aimed at discouraging American businesses from bribing foreign governments.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce fought every attempt at health reform, from Truman to Johnson to Nixon to Clinton to Obama’s efforts to help the American people gain access to quality health care. The Chamber eventried to stop the passage of Medicare under President Johnson.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce often places the profits of its member companies over American foreign policy objectives. Last year, the Chamberlobbied against President Obama’s efforts to place economic sanctions on Iran. In 1941, the Chamber was one of the most outspoken opponents of intervening in World War II (Chamber officials feared that war would give Roosevelt more power and wartime spending would lead to higher deficits, then higher taxes).

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a sordid history with civil rights. It opposed key planks of the Civil Rights Act, and lobbied against the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Recently, the Chamber paid for campaign advertising to help Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-KY), who told ThinkProgress he too opposed the ADA.
Posted by Ted McLaughlin

01 December 2010