30 September 2011

Quake shook nuclear plant beyond threshold

NORTH ANNA, Va., Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The nuclear power plant near the epicenter of the Aug. 23 Virginia earthquake experienced more shaking than it was built to withstand, officials said Thursday.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the North Anna (Va.) Power Station can handle shaking of as much as 18 percent of the force of gravity. The U.S. Geological Survey measured shaking of 26 percent the force of gravity at the plant on the day of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Dominion Virginia Power officials said inspections revealed there has been no damage to "safety-related" structures at the plant, despite the data. Nuclear power plants are often built with a large safety margin, according to nuclear experts.

The NRC has not completed its inspection of the facility and has not said when it will give approval for the plant's reactors to restart.

29 September 2011

Read it Tea Bagger Ignorati

1. Reagan was a serial tax raiser. As governor of California, Reagan “signed into law the largest tax increase in the history of any state up till then.” Meanwhile, state spending nearly doubled. As president,Reagan “raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office,” including four times in just two years. As former GOP Senator Alan Simpson, who called Reagan “a dear friend,” told NPR, “Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times in his administration — I was there.” “Reagan was never afraid to raise taxes,” said historian Douglas Brinkley, who edited Reagan’s memoir. Reagan the anti-tax zealot is “false mythology,” Brinkley said.
2. Reagan nearly tripled the federal budget deficit. During the Reagan years, the debt increased to nearly $3 trillion, “roughly three times as much as the first 80 years of the century had done altogether.” Reagan enacted a major tax cut his first year in office and government revenue dropped off precipitously. Despite the conservative myth that tax cuts somehow increase revenue, the government went deeper into debt and Reagan had to raise taxes just a year after he enacted his tax cut. Despite ten more tax hikes on everything from gasoline to corporate income, Reagan was never able to get the deficit under control.
3. Unemployment soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts.Unemployment jumped to 10.8 percent after Reagan enacted his much-touted tax cut, and it took years for the rate to get back down to its previous level. Meanwhile, income inequality exploded. Despite the myth that Reagan presided over an era of unmatched economic boom for all Americans, Reagan disproportionately taxed the poor and middle class, but the economic growth of the 1980′s did little help them. “Since 1980, median household income has risen only 30 percent, adjusted for inflation, while average incomes at the top have tripled or quadrupled,” the New York Times’ David Leonhardt noted.
4. Reagan grew the size of the federal government tremendously.Reagan promised “to move boldly, decisively, and quickly to control therunaway growth of federal spending,” but federal spending “ballooned” under Reagan. He bailed out Social Security in 1983 after attempting to privatize it, and set up a progressive taxation system to keep it funded into the future. He promised to cut government agencies like the Department of Energy and Education but ended up adding one of the largest — the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which today has a budget of nearly $90 billion and close to 300,000 employees. He alsohiked defense spending by over $100 billion a year to a level not seen since the height of the Vietnam war.
5. Reagan did little to fight a woman’s right to choose. As governor of California in 1967, Reagan signed a bill to liberalize the state’s abortion laws that “resulted in more than a million abortions.” When Reagan ran for president, he advocated a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited all abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother, but once in office, he “never seriously pursued” curbing choice.
6. Reagan was a “bellicose peacenik.” He wrote in his memoirs that “[m]y dream…became a world free of nuclear weapons.” “This vision stemmed from the president’s belief that the biblical account of Armageddon prophesied nuclear war — and that apocalypse could be averted if everyone, especially the Soviets, eliminated nuclear weapons,” the Washington Monthly noted. And Reagan’s military buildup was meant to crush the Soviet Union, but “also to put the United States in a stronger position from which to establish effective arms control” for the the entire world — a vision acted out by Regean’s vice president, George H.W. Bush, when he became president.
7. Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants.Reagan signed into law a bill that made any immigrant who had entered the country before 1982 eligible for amnesty. The bill was sold as a crackdown, but its tough sanctions on employers who hired undocumented immigrants were removed before final passage. The bill helped 3 million people and millions more family members gain American residency. It has since become a source of major embarrassment for conservatives.
8. Reagan illegally funneled weapons to Iran. Reagan and other senior U.S. officials secretly sold arms to officials in Iran, which was subject to a an arms embargo at the time, in exchange for American hostages. Some funds from the illegal arms sales also went to fund anti-Communist rebels in Nicaragua — something Congress had already prohibited the administration from doing. When the deals went public, the Iran-Contra Affair, as it came to be know, was an enormous political scandal that forced several senior administration officials to resign.
9. Reagan vetoed a comprehensive anti-Apartheid act. which placed sanctions on South Africa and cut off all American trade with the country. Reagan’s veto was overridden by the Republican-controlled Senate. Reagan responded by saying “I deeply regret that Congress has seen fit to override my veto,” saying that the law “will not solve the serious problems that plague that country.”
10. Reagan helped create the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. Reagan fought a proxy war with the Soviet Union by training, arming, equipping, and funding Islamist mujahidin fighters in Afghanistan. Reagan funneled billions of dollars, along with top-secret intelligence and sophisticated weaponry to these fighters through the Pakistani intelligence service. The Talbian and Osama Bin Laden — a prominent mujahidin commander — emerged from these mujahidin groups Reagan helped create, and U.S. policy towards Pakistan remains strainedbecause of the intelligence services’ close relations to these fighters. In fact, Reagan’s decision to continue the proxy war after the Soviets were willing to retreat played a direct role in Bin Laden’s ascendancy.

28 September 2011

No Comment Necessary

27 September 2011

2009 Job Stimulus DID Work

Reposted from Jobsanger

The Republican mantra of late has been that the job stimulus program enacted in 2009 didn't work, so it would be futile to do it again. The chart above shows that is simply not true. The program brought the country from a huge negative job growth (created by george Bush) to a small positive growth. The stimulus wasn't large enough so it didn't have the huge effect it that was hoped for -- but it DID work. Much more needs to be done now, because massive job creation is the only way out of our current economic mess.

26 September 2011

Rushpubliscums Bitch Slap Punk Cantor

This brilliant review of Eric Cantor was reposted from Plutocrap

People get devastated, losing everything in the floods caused by a hurricane. Presumably, as human beings, we automatically want to figure out what we can do to help, and the hell with the details.
That’s true for us, because we are human beings, as I said. In the case of Rushpubliscum token Eric Cantor, however, every devastation is a new chance to shove his ideological agenda down our throats. As I’m sure you remember, when one of his constituents pleaded with him to do something about the soaring costs of healthcare as a family member of hers was a cancer sufferer and could not afford treatment, Eric suggested to her that she go begging in the streets for treatment money. Earlier this year, this pissant of a punk basically told the victims of tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri, to go fuck themselves unless his demands for the Federal budget were met. And just last week, true to form, Eric again said that either he gets his way, or the victims get the shaft, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. And some of those victims happen to be people from the punk’s own Congressional district.
This time, it appears the punk has gone too far. Too far for even some of his fellow Klanbagging Klanservatives. They’ve come out against Eric’s hostage taking.
There is, in addition to a severe lack of intelligence to Eric Cantor, a complete lack of empathy. A total absence of morality. How could anyone continue to send this piece of shit back to Washington as his or her “representative?”
Vulnerable House Republicans in New York and New Jersey are pushing back against a pledge by party leaders to counter disaster aid with spending cuts.
The early vow by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) put Republicans from states affected by Hurricane Irene and other recent disasters in a tight spot, caught between adhering to the party’s dictums on deficit reduction and providing for constituents at a time of heightened need.
Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.), who won by fewer than 6,000 votes in 2010, issued a statement saying that a national emergency is the wrong time to wage a budget debate.
“While I respect Majority Leader Cantor and share his commitment to spending discipline, my focus right now is making sure hard-hit areas in New Jersey receive the necessary federal resources they need in order to recover,” the freshman lawmaker said.
And on Wednesday, Cantor vowed there would be “no holdup” in approving federal disaster aid for localities ravaged by an earthquake and torrential storms.
“Unequivocally, I am for making sure people get their money and not have to wait,” he told reporters in a Capitol briefing. “I have never, never said that I am holding anything hostage or would be for playing politics with this.”
The issue hits close to home for Cantor, whose district lies in a state that requested — and received — federal assistance for Irene.
In New York, Rep. Michael Grimm (R), a freshman who won his seat last year by less than three percentage points, said aid should be given without regard to offsets. Grimm represents flood-ridden Staten Island and told The New York Times that you can’t put a number on keeping citizens safe.
New York Republican Reps. Richard Hanna, Nan Hayworth, Ann Marie Buerkle and Chris Gibson have also distanced themselves from Cantor’s remarks. And Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) told The Hill that the cleanup from Hurricane Irene shouldn’t be held hostage to Washington politics.
Besides running in Democrat-leaning New York and New Jersey, these lawmakers could also be running in altered districts as New York is losing two congressional seats and New Jersey is losing one in the redistricting process.
“There’s still some Republican moderates who don’t have the constraints Cantor does,” said David Wasserman, House editor of The Cook Political Report. “Not only as a leader in the GOP conference, but the de facto leader of the conservative strain of Republicans in the House.”
That any organization would put Eric Cantor into its leadership screams volumes. I would not want to belong to, and sure as hell would not vote for, any group that elevates this Goddamned piece of fecal sludge to a position where he has any kind of a say in policy.
And if you DO vote for members of such an organization, I am flat-out calling you a moron. Take it any way you choose to take it.

25 September 2011

Global Warming Impact? Arctic Ice Cap Hits Historic Low

The North Pole's ice skull cap shrank to an historic low this week. Shrinking to its lowest point since satellite observations began in 1972, the area covered by the Arctic sea ice shrank to 4.24 million square kilometers (1.637 square miles) on Sept. 8, according to the University of Bremen's Institute of Environmental Physics.

The historic low measurement is about a half-percent below the previous record low set in September, 2007, the institute said.

The shrinking Arctic ice cover has also become significantly thinner in recent decades, but the institute says it's not possible to measuring in thickness as specifically as they can on the surface area.

Results are described by scientists as a measure and driving factor of global warming. They say the fast-shrinking Arctic skull cap has both local and planetary implications.

"The sea ice retreat can no more be explained with the natural variability from one year to the next, caused by weather influence," said Georg Heygster, head of the Institute's Physical Analysis of Remote Sensing Images unit, in a statement released with the findings.

"Climate models show, rather, that the reduction is related to the man-made global warming which, due to the albedo effect, is particularly pronounced in the Arctic."

Studies show the cultprit for the shrinking Arctic cap are rising temperatures in the region -- temperatures which have risen twice as fast as the global average in the last half of the century. Thus, the the Arctic skull cap and Arctic ice cover are both reducing at a fast pace, the institute said.

The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center also tracks Arctic ice cover on a daily basis but that agency has not announced a record low ice cover yet.

24 September 2011

No Comment Necessary

23 September 2011

Japanese breakthrough will make wind power cheaper than nuclear

A surprising aerodynamic innovation in wind turbine design called the 'wind lens' could triple the output of a typical wind turbine, making it less costly than nuclear power.

The International Clean Energy Analysis (ICEA) gateway estimates that the U.S. possesses 2.2 million km2 of high wind potential (Class 3-7 winds) — about 850,000 square miles of land that could yield high levels of wind energy. This makes the U.S. something of a Saudi Arabia for wind energy, ranked third in the world for total wind energy potential.

Let's say we developed just 20 percent of those wind resources — 170,000 square miles (440,000 km2) or an area roughly 1/4 the size of Alaska — we could produce a whopping 8.7 billion megawatt hours of electricity each year (based on a theoretical conversion of six 1.5 MW turbines per km2 and an average output of 25 percent. (1.5 MW x 365 days x 24 hrs x 25% = 3,285 MWh's).

The United States uses about 26.6 billion MWh's, so at the above rate we could satisfy a full one-third of our total annual energy needs. (Of course, this assumes the concurrent deployment of a nationwide Smart Grid that could store and disburse the variable sources of wind power as needed using a variety of technologies — gas or coal peaking, utility scale storage via batteries or fly-wheels, etc).

Now what if a breakthrough came along that potentially tripled the energy output of those turbines? You see where I'm going. We could in theory supply the TOTAL annual energy needs of the U.S. simply by exploiting 20 percent of our available wind resources.

Well, such a breakthrough has been made, and it's called the "wind lens."

Imagine: no more dirty coal power, no more mining deaths, no more nuclear disasters, no more polluted aquifers as a result of fracking. Our entire society powered by the quiet "woosh" of a wind turbine. Kyushu University's wind lens turbine is one example of the many innovations happening right now that could in the near future make this utopian vision a reality.

Yes, it's a heck of a lot of wind turbines (about 2,640,000) but the U.S. with its endless miles of prairie and agricultural land is one of the few nations that could actually deploy such a network of wind turbines without disrupting the current productivity of the land (Russia and China also come to mind). It would also be a win-win for states in the highest wind area — the Midwest — which has been hard hit by the recession. And think of the millions upon millions of jobs that would be created building a 21st century energy distribution system free of the shackles of ever-diminishing fossil fuel supplies.

It's also important to point out that growth in wind power capacity is perfectly symbiotic with projected growth in electric vehicles. EV battery packs can soak up wind power produced during the night, helping to equalize the curve of daytime energy demand. So the controversial investment currently being entertained by President Obama to pipe oil down from the Canadian Tar Sands would — in my utopian vision — be a moot point.

It is indeed a lofty vision, but the technology we need is now in our reach. And think of the benefits of having our power production fed by a resource that is both free and unlimited. One downside often cited by advocates of coal and gas power is that wind turbines require a lot more maintenence than a typical coal or gas power plant. But in a lagging economy this might just be wind power's biggest upside — it will create lots and lots of permanent jobs, sparking a new cycle of economic growth in America.

22 September 2011

Tom says it again!

By Tom Degan

If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I would have thought it to be a work of darkly twisted, comical fiction. But it wasn't fiction. In fact it was all-too-real. During a Friday morning appearance on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, a pathetic shill-boy from the Heritage Foundation named Robert Rector was being interviewed by a moderator who miraculously manged to keep a straight face throughout. He really should be called "Robert Rectal". The guy is that much of an asshole. I almost spit out my coffee, sitting there listening to this fool vomiting out the latest right wing talking point which was this: Impoverished people in America have got a really sweet deal. According to this loathsome jackass, a high percentage of poor people in this country are in the possession of "luxury items" that poor people just shouldn't posses. I'll give you two examples of what what he was referring to. Are you ready for this???

Refrigerators and air conditioners!

How the hell is a family expected to store food (which we all need in order to live as you know) without a freakin' refrigerator? And air-conditioning? A luxury??? In a lethally hot summer - not unlike the one we're experiencing at this moment - an air-conditioner is all that stands between life and death-by-dehydration for a lot of people - the elderly in particular. Maybe the poor can compromise. Maybe they can spend those long, hot summer nights taking turns sitting inside the fridge. Then again, maybe not.

Here's another statistic Mr. Rector is whining about: Sixty-three percent of the "poor" (Fox Noise now puts that word in quotation marks) have cable television. Didn't this guy get the memo? You can't get television reception with an antenna anymore. They no longer work. They've become as obsolete as 8-Track tapes and CB radios! Cable TV is no longer an option if you want reception, it's mandatory. Poor people are like most of us. They rely on television - not only for their entertainment - but for their news and information as well. They really shouldn't (No one should) but they do.

Television also keeps the kids indoors. While that may not be such a healthy thing if you live in Bel Air or Palm Beach, in high crime neighborhoods (where poor people tend to dwell for some silly reason) it's a lot more preferable to being outside, getting some "fresh air" while dodging a stray bullet or two. I wonder what the Poverty/Cable percentages were before the airwaves went digital? Much lower, no doubt. Obviously none of these factors were given a great deal of thought by Rector or any of the geniuses over there at the Heritage Foundation.

And it's not just Robert Rector who is mouthing this kind of nonsense. In recent weeks Republican politicians and conservative talking heads have been dropping ominous hints as to what's in store for this diseased country if the American people are stupid enough to ever again hand over all three branches of their government to that disgusting party. You see, the poor (or "the moocher class" as some reprehensible piece-of-shit on Fox Noise referred to them last week) don't pay any taxes. Therefore, instead of extracting badly-needed revenue from a class of people who already have more money than they'll ever be able to spend in a lifetime, the party of the plutocracy plans on taking from that other class of people; most of whom barely get by: The poor. Not just the working class - not just the vanishing middle class, mind you - the poor. Was this a great country or what?

According to these plutocratic handmaidens, the tax code simply isn't fair. People who live at or below the poverty level have to start chipping in! A family of four making $22,000 a year (or less) will have to shell out to the feds. Can you believe that? Think about it: That single mother who barely scratches out a living assembling Big Macs at the McDonald's down the street? If these hideous bastards and bitches have their way, she will now have to send a check (assuming she has a checking account) to the IRS every April 15. Of course that will mean she and others in her income bracket will have a lot less money to pump back into this already-feeble economy - a fact that apparently has not been taken into consideration by the knuckleheads who govern us.

And they call us "elitists"!

First of all, let me dispel the myth they just love to propagate as fact: that the poor pay no taxes. Everybody pays taxes. The eight-year-old kid who walks down to the corner store to purchase an Almond Joy candy bar pays taxes. Remember that the next time you pay $4.31 for a $3.99 pint of Nicolai Vodka. Do you wonder why cigarettes are now over ten dollars a pack in certain states? It isn't really that difficult to figure out. The wealthy in this country are not contributing their share to the maintenance of society. Certain corporations are not contributing at all! Revenue is badly needed. Most smokers are not rich, and the ones who are can afford to pay ten bucks a pack. Cigarettes are so addictive that they know the smoker - no matter how poor - has a serious nicotine jones and will pay whatever needs to be paid to get his or her fix. It really is a no-brainer if you think about it.

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

Jesus of Nazareth
Matthew 25:45

Let's not let scripture's inconvenient truth get in the way of the agendas of these hypocrites.

We are now living in a plutocratic dictatorship.

Oh, what the hell. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em as the old adage goes. Besides, it's about time those obnoxious poor people start paying their fair share of the tax burden. Screw those people. They've had it far too damned easy for far too damned long. They've got it made in the shade! What with not having to worry about monthly mortgages, health insurance payments, country club dues and where to invest their quarterly dividends. It's about time those wretched freaks learn a thing or two about the real world, baby! The day of reckoning is upon them. The lazy and irresponsible "moocher class" has to tighten their cardboard belts. Fuck 'em all.

They say that they can't afford to be taxed? They say that they have utility bills to pay and children to feed? They say the rent and automobile insurance is overdue? No problemo, amigo! Back in the golden age of Charles Dickens and human bondage they had a place for worthless, deadbeat shit like that: Debtors Prison! It's high time we bring that institution back into being. Of course, it goes without saying that those prisons will be privately owned by corporations - corporations that will be able to anonymously donate untold sums to corrupt politicians who will then pass even more harshly punitive laws - laws that will make goddamned sure that those prisons are filled to utter capacity forever and ever. They will then build more prisons - and more and more and more - to keep up with the growing demand. Until finally there will be only two classes left in this sick country: The ruling class and the prison class.

That dripping noise you hear off in the distance is the sound of the Koch brothers drooling. Oh, and speaking of the Koch brothers:

"Much of what the government spends money on does more harm than good. This is particularly true over the past several years with the massive uncontrolled increase in government spending. I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington."

Charles Koch
as quoted only this morning on the exquisitely subversive website AlterNet

Brothers Charles and David Koch are billionaires many times over. Unlike most multi-billionaires, who have more money than they possibly know what to do with, the Kochs know damned well what to do with their fortune. They're working overtime to ensure that America's middle class is destroyed. They don't merely want most of America's wealth and treasure - THEY WANT IT ALL! Would you like them to have it? Then vote for the Republican party next year. You'll deserve everything that happens to you.

21 September 2011

Well Said

By -- Badtux the Democracy Penguin

In a previous post, I pooh-poohed the notion of "limited government" in the Libertarian sense of the word (basically a return to 1776 when the U.S. government consisted of the War Department and the Post Office, and the Libertarians aren't so sure about the Post Office thing). I pointed out that there has not been a single democracy on the face of this planet within the past fifty years that has voted for "limited government", and thus the only way you could have "limited government" in the Libertarian sense of the word is the old fashioned Pinochet way -- by imposing it at gunpoint.

But once you admit that "limited government" in the Libertarian sense of the word is a lost cause because every junkie has a mother and a brother who want him protected from himself, every 18 year old has a father who wants certain things outlawed to maybe keep said 18 year old living long enough to have some sense, and so forth, then you have to wonder: What are the limits of power?

There's two answers to this question:

The majority in a democracy will not knowingly vote for laws that oppress the majority. And if they unknowingly vote for such laws, as long as it remains a democracy such laws will get repealed. Thus I don't think we need to fear that the majority in a democracy will vote that all citizens be terminated at age 65 in order to save on Medicare costs, because, after all, everybody eventually reaches age 65.
The majority in a democracy, like the majority everywhere, fear violence and conflict and will not knowingly pass laws that oppress a large enough minority that widespread civil disorder is the result.
The end result is that in a democracy, you have significant barriers to the sort of widespread tyranny that you see in most non-democracies. Lest you point out the sad history of racial discrimination and segregation in the South, I'll just point out that it was enforced via the same means that any other such regime of terror is enforced: it was imposed at (white) gunpoint, not by the vote of the majority of the citizens of those states.
Okay, so now let's talk about taxes. If there are no fundamental restrictions on taxes, what will keep the majority from, say, voting to impose a 100% tax on the 100 richest people in America?

Well, first of all, the 100 richest people in any nation don't produce a significant amount of economic output (output is produced by workers, not by executives, who merely reap the benefits of the work that the workers do), so it'd be a one-time redistribution of capital. Because the majority of workers produce the majority of the nation's income -- workers own only 51% of the nation, but earn 78% of the nation's income -- the majority in a democracy will never impose confiscatory taxes upon the majority, because the majority is *them*. In short, what limits taxation in a democracy is the simple fact that the majority of the income is earned by workers, and thus taxing a minority won't raise sufficient money to run the big government that the majority wants even if the majority taxed that minority at 100%. Sooner or later they'd have to raise their own taxes, because they're earning most of the income.

In short, what limits taxes in a democracy is low income inequality. If the worker majority are rewarded with a fair amount of the income that they produce for the ownership class, they will not impose confiscatory taxes on the ownership class because confiscatory taxes on the ownership class simply won't accomplish anything. It is only when the ownership class decides to get greedy and grab 49% of the assets of the nation despite being only 1% of the nation's population that suddenly they have to worry about confiscatory taxes being levied against them by the working majority -- at which point I have to say, they have nobody to blame but themselves, yo.

BTW, this is also why the worker majority won't award themselves unlimited welfare -- they'd have to tax themselves to provide it, so what's the point? -- but that's another right wing anti-democracy talking point to destroy at some point in the future.

20 September 2011

Compassion Free

19 September 2011

Shredding the Remnants of Democracy

Reposted from Thurmans Notebook

Corporate power’s ascendancy over politics and society — by now mostly financial — has reached the point that both political organizations, which at this stage barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate.

For the public, the primary domestic concern is unemployment. Under current circumstances, that crisis can be overcome only by a significant government stimulus, well beyond the recent one, which barely matched decline in state and local spending — though even that limited initiative probably saved millions of jobs.

For financial institutions the primary concern is the deficit. Therefore, only the deficit is under discussion. A large majority of the population favor addressing the deficit by taxing the very rich (72 percent, 27 percent opposed), reports a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Cutting health programs is opposed by overwhelming majorities (69 percent Medicaid, 78 percent Medicare). The likely outcome is therefore the opposite.

The Program on International Policy Attitudes surveyed how the public would eliminate the deficit. PIPA director Steven Kull writes, “Clearly both the administration and the Republican-led House (of Representatives) are out of step with the public’s values and priorities in regard to the budget.”

The survey illustrates the deep divide: “The biggest difference in spending is that the public favored deep cuts in defense spending, while the administration and the House propose modest increases. The public also favored more spending on job training, education and pollution control than did either the administration or the House.”

The final “compromise” — more accurately, capitulation to the far right — is the opposite throughout, and is almost certain to lead to slower growth and long-term harm to all but the rich and the corporations, which are enjoying record profits.

Not even discussed is that the deficit would be eliminated if, as economist Dean Baker has shown, the dysfunctional privatized health care system in the U.S. were replaced by one similar to other industrial societies’, which have half the per capita costs and health outcomes that are comparable or better.

The financial institutions and Big Pharma are far too powerful for such options even to be considered, though the thought seems hardly Utopian. Off the agenda for similar reasons are other economically sensible options, such as a small financial transactions tax. ~ Noam Chomsky, America in Decline

Dr. Chomsky, as usual makes some excellent points in his article. Our government, “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” has been hijacked and replaced with a government of, by, and for the wealthy and the corporations at the expense of most of the people. It has perished from the earth.

Huge majorities of the population not only see the obvious wisdom of programs like healthcare, education, and a new Works Progress Administration to pull us out of the economic swamp that forty years of greed driven politics has put us in. We demand these things, yet our elected leaders continue to take us in the opposite direction! What is it going to take to awaken the sleeping masses and force our so-called leaders to once again obey the will of the people?

18 September 2011

The Middle Class Is Being Systematically Wiped Out Of Existence In America

For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together

17 September 2011

Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America VII

If you aren't in the top 1% of America's earners, you're pretty much screwed

Normalized to 1979, the top 1% have seen their share of America's income more than double. The bottom 90% have seen their portion shrink.

16 September 2011

Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America VI

income tax just keeps getting lower and lower for the rich

15 September 2011

Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America V

Republican tax cuts have significantly increased the wealth gap

14 September 2011

Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America IV

Real average earnings have not increased in 50 years. That's HALF A CENTURY!

13 September 2011

Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America III

The last two decades were great...if you were a CEO or business owner. Not if you were anyone else.

12 September 2011

Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America II

Look how the wealth gap has grown!

11 September 2011

Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/us-wealth-inequality-2010-7#the-gap-between-the-t

The gap between the top 0.01% and everyone else hasn't been this bad since the Roaring Twenties

10 September 2011

IT'S OFFICIAL: America Is Now A Banana Republic Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/its-official-in-terms-of-income-inequality-america-is-now-a

Reposted from Business Insider
In some countries, the wealthiest 1% of the population takes home 20% or more of the national income.
And now the same is true in America:
The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.
C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

09 September 2011

More Evidence of banana repube ameriKKKa

By Nicholas D. Kristof
On the Ground

In my reporting, I regularly travel to banana republics notorious for their inequality. In some of these plutocracies, the richest 1 percent of the population gobbles up 20 percent of the national pie.

But guess what? You no longer need to travel to distant and dangerous countries to observe such rapacious inequality. We now have it right here at home — and in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, it may get worse.

The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.

C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

That’s the backdrop for one of the first big postelection fights in Washington — how far to extend the Bush tax cuts to the most affluent 2 percent of Americans. Both parties agree on extending tax cuts on the first $250,000 of incomes, even for billionaires. Republicans would also cut taxes above that.

The richest 0.1 percent of taxpayers would get a tax cut of $61,000 from President Obama. They would get $370,000 from Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. And that provides only a modest economic stimulus, because the rich are less likely to spend their tax savings.

At a time of 9.6 percent unemployment, wouldn’t it make more sense to finance a jobs program? For example, the money could be used to avoid laying off teachers and undermining American schools.

Likewise, an obvious priority in the worst economic downturn in 70 years should be to extend unemployment insurance benefits, some of which will be curtailed soon unless Congress renews them. Or there’s the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which helps train and support workers who have lost their jobs because of foreign trade. It will no longer apply to service workers after Jan. 1, unless Congress intervenes.

So we face a choice. Is our economic priority the jobless, or is it zillionaires?

And if Republicans are worried about long-term budget deficits, a reasonable concern, why are they insistent on two steps that nonpartisan economists say would worsen the deficits by more than $800 billion over a decade — cutting taxes for the most opulent, and repealing health care reform? What other programs would they cut to make up the lost $800 billion in revenue?

In weighing these issues, let’s remember that backdrop of America’s rising inequality.

In the past, many of us acquiesced in discomfiting levels of inequality because we perceived a tradeoff between equity and economic growth. But there’s evidence that the levels of inequality we’ve now reached may actually suppress growth. A drop of inequality lubricates economic growth, but too much may gum it up.

Robert H. Frank of Cornell University, Adam Seth Levine of Vanderbilt University, and Oege Dijk of the European University Institute recently wrote a fascinating paper suggesting that inequality leads to more financial distress. They looked at census data for the 50 states and the 100 most populous counties in America, and found that places where inequality increased the most also endured the greatest surges in bankruptcies.

Here’s their explanation: When inequality rises, the richest rake in their winnings and buy even bigger mansions and fancier cars. Those a notch below then try to catch up, and end up depleting their savings or taking on more debt, making a financial crisis more likely.

Another consequence the scholars found: Rising inequality also led to more divorces, presumably a byproduct of the strains of financial distress. Maybe I’m overly sentimental or romantic, but that pierces me. It’s a reminder that inequality isn’t just an economic issue but also a question of human dignity and happiness.

Mounting evidence suggests that losing a job or a home can rock our identity and savage our self-esteem. Forced moves wrench families from their schools and support networks.

In short, inequality leaves people on the lower rungs feeling like hamsters on a wheel spinning ever faster, without hope or escape.

Economic polarization also shatters our sense of national union and common purpose, fostering political polarization as well.

So in this postelection landscape, let’s not aggravate income gaps that already would make a Latin American caudillo proud. To me, we’ve reached a banana republic point where our inequality has become both economically unhealthy and morally repugnant.

08 September 2011

07 September 2011

06 September 2011

No Comment Necessary

05 September 2011

How do the large corporate interests get the ignorati tea baggers to act against their own interests. Promise them something they want, like anti science christian fundamentalist based government.

Woe is US.

04 September 2011

Perry's Miracle

Reposted from jobsanger

There's been a lot of talk by the Republicans about the "miracle" Rick Perry has pulled off with the Texas economy. Of course the miracle they are talking about is the fact that Texas still gives corporations and the rich a free ride while putting the burden of taxes on the working and middle classes and the poor through one of the most regressive tax systems in the nation. In Texas the less money you make, the larger percentage of your income goes to paying taxes.

This refusal to make the rich and the corporations pay their fair share of state taxes resulted in a huge hole in the state budget for the next biennium -- about $27 billion dollars. Perry and his Republican cohorts still wouldn't tax the corporations (and left in place huge subsidies for the oil & gas industry, even though they are no longer needed and the industry is making record profits). No, what they did was to cut services for the hurting Texans who need those services.

Recent numbers show that unemployment is climbing in the Lone Star state -- from 8.2% in June to 8.4% in July (and the 8.2% figure was already higher than the unemployment rate in 25 other states). But Perry and the Republicans don't seem to feel that all those out-of-work Texans need the services of unemployment offices. It was recently announced that due to the cuts to the state budget, the Texas Workforce Commission will be closing numerous offices. Just here in the Panhandle at least 7 offices will be closed (in Hereford, Dumas, Borger, Tulia, Pampa, Childress, and Dalhart). In addition, 14 positions in the Amarillo office have been eliminated.

These offices provided a valuable function for the unemployed. Among other things they helped low-income workers afford childcare, provided job training, and helped the unemployed find businesses looking to hire workers. The Workforce claims it will still service those cities by traveling to them, but it is obvious that they have just made it much harder for citizens to access their services. And I expect this is not the only part of the state where services will be reduced, even though more Texans are needing those services.

Perry has bragged about being a job creator in Texas, but Texas now has more people out of work than before Perry became governor. And the few jobs being created are nothing to brag about. Texas leads the nation in both the number of and percentage of jobs that are at or below the minimum wage. That figure is currently about 9.5% of all the state's hourly jobs -- a figure that has doubled since Perry's first year in office (when it was 4.2%). According to the Labor Department, about 7.4% of men and 11.9% of women working in Texas make at or less than minimum wage.

The labor and economic conditions in Texas are far from "miraculous" -- unless you are already rich. The Texas economy is in trouble, and it doesn't look like it will improve anytime soon. Now Perry wants to perform this same "miracle" for the whole country. Don't let him!

03 September 2011

Were #1 - NOT

02 September 2011

Was Jesus Really a Hardcore Randian Capitalist?

Reposted from Thom hubbard Blog

As a non-believer who often finds himself in conversations with devout Christians, I find it strange, and a bit disturbing, that I am often the one who ends up preaching the Christlike messages of compassion and charity. Where have these ideals gone? This strange brand of Christianity fails to address the issue of human suffering, a staple of Christian theology. In this Bizarro World, it is the successful, employed Christian who is the one suffering, while the welfare recipient is reaping the spoils of capitalism. This is upside-down thinking, and is precisely where religion fails.

Humanists adhere to a code which not only rejects scripture as a moral guide, but which requires that we act with the goal of reducing suffering. Whereas we understand that we are not always capable of reducing the suffering of people at all times, we support the funding of organizations which are equipped to address the problem of suffering on a mass scale. Are there flaws in some of these services? Is there waste? Do some people abuse the system? Sure. But they are successful in reducing suffering in most instances, and working to improve these services is preferable to tearing them down.
Isn’t it odd how so many Christians seem to have totally lost sight of the true meaning of their theology, if they ever had a clue about it at all?

I find it disturbing that so many of the most outspoken Christian supporters of unregulated capitalism today count themselves among the followers of a hard-line atheist and anti-Christian, Ayn Rand. I’ve read nearly all of Rand’s books and I promise you, no one despised nor mocked Christianity and religion in general more than Ayn Rand. How her free-market, greed-is-good philosophy became tied to fundamentalist Christianity in twenty-first century America is beyond all rational thought.

01 September 2011

Rent it, Borrow it, See it NOW!

The embedded trailer for Why We Fight (2005 film) is an amazing documentary describing the rise and maintenance of the military-industrial-[congressional] complex that President Eisenhower warned us about during his farewell address in January, 1961 -- fifty years ago. Download it, rent it, borrow it, or watch it at a friend's house. Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki offers an in-depth look at how the United States has become a permanent-war machine and empire.