29 February 2012

Arrogance and Ignorance

U.S. Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, has never been any great fan of President Barack Obama, but took to Facebook today to answer the question of what, if anything, he could praise about the president. His answer included a complaint that thanks to rising gas prices, it now costs $70 to fill up his 2008 Hummer H3. Is it really a good idea to use your Hummer to argue gas prices are too high?

Here's the complete statement from Rep. West that's drawing some attention:

People have asked me before is there any area where I could praise President Obama? Certainly, he has an impeccable penchant for understanding the power of the bully pulpit. President Obama is also very adept at promulgating deceptive language masquerading as policy, actually just insidious political gimmickry. This "tax policy" is an example as well as today's speech on his "energy policy" shall be. Here is the bottom line, last night it took 70 dollars to fill the tank of my 2008 H3 Hummer, what is it costing you? What does it cost the President to fill his gas tank?

Saying gas costs too much based on your H3 -- which sports an average fuel economy of 16 to 18 mpg -- seems akin to arguing Americans have grown too fat at the drive-through window of a Carl Jr.'s. Yet West and other drivers can't be blamed for the current run-up; it's not American demand for gasoline causing its prices to rise, but rather demand from China, Latin America and worries over Iran's actions near the Straight of Hormuz. Last year, fossil fuels were America's biggest export -- partly because of the economic recession and the shift toward vehicles that get 40 mpg instead of 16.

Rep. West may need to brace his pocketbook; that H3 will need $90 to fill if prices hit $4 a gallon, as most experts suspect they will soon. Or he could switch into something a little more economical; there's nothing quite as obnoxious as the Hummer on sale, but switching to, say, the 2-liter turbo Ford Explorer would save him at least $1,400 a year in gas -- and maybe some aggravation.

28 February 2012

More than 68% of New European Electricity Capacity Came from Wind and Solar in 2011

Written by Stephen Lacey, ThinkProgress

As the sovereign debt crisis unfolds in Europe, onlookers have questioned whether the region will stay committed to renewable energy. The answer so far is “yes.”

Even with a few countries pulling back on government support of the industry because of fiscal troubles, 2011 was still a huge year for deployment — with wind and solar alone representing almost 70% of new capacity.

That’s almost a 10-fold increase over deployment in 2000, when only 3.5 GW of renewable energy projects were installed. Last year, 32 GW of renewables — mostly wind and solar — were deployed across European countries.

The figures come from the European Wind Energy Association, which just released a report on industry growth.

Growth in Europe has consistently outstripped forecasts. The EU currently has a target of getting 20% of its final energy (heat, electricity and fuels) from renewable energy. Numerous countries have already surpassed their needed targets in the electricity and heating sectors, and it’s likely that the entire region will move past the goal well ahead of schedule.

It’s expected that renewable electricity sources will meet 34% of demand in Europe by 2020, with 25 of 27 countries to surpass their targets beforehand.

In 2011, solar PV accounted for 26.7% of capacity additions, wind power accounted for 21.4% of additions, and natural gas made up 22% of installations. Below that was coal at 4.8%, fuel oil at 1.6%, large hydro at 1.3%, and concentrating solar power at 1.1% of capacity.

(A side note to anyone confused by terms: It is always important to remember that “capacity” is the ability to do work. It is completely different than actual electricity generation. Just because 68% of new capacity was added in 2011, doesn’t mean that Europe will get 68% more electricity from renewables. Hence, the major differences in generation figures).

So what does Europe’s power capacity mix look like today?

Notice the stunning increase in wind, solar and natural gas — by far the top three choices for developers in the region. However, coal and fuel oil still have a very large market share. Some experts are concerned that a roll back of nuclear in various countries will increase the share of fossil fuels, particularly coal.

But with wind, solar and gas prices all declining to record lows, the combination of those three resources could prevent a sizable increase in coal development.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/more-than-68-of-new-european-electricity-capacity-came-from-wind-and-solar-in-2011.html#ixzz1mqOxJg3i

27 February 2012

Ever Wonder Why?

I would be scared too if I was Iran!

26 February 2012

No Shit!

25 February 2012

24 February 2012

No Comment Necessary

23 February 2012

22 February 2012

Greece: No Way Out

Intersting POV from Snarky
Greece is melting down. Right now the Eurozone is kicking the can down the road while Greeks die from austerity. The other choice is for Greece to default on its debt, leave the Eurozone, and go their own way, financing their deficit by printing their own currency.

So why don't they do that? Three words: 1) Medicine. 2) Fuel. 3) Food.

Greece is not self-sufficient in any of those. Greece doesn't have overseas assets like Iceland had when Iceland defaulted that can be used to import these items. And they certainly aren't going to be able to buy any of this from the EuroZone, since they just kicked the Eurozone into a new Great Depression due to the collapse of all the banks that are invested in Greek debt.

The only other alternative is to leave the Eurozone but go hat in hand to the IMF for a bailout, where the IMF funds the imports of medicine, fuel, and food. Thing is, the IMF isn't going to do any such thing unless Greece has a government willing to make the hard choices. Pretty much every asset that Greece has needs to be repurposed towards bringing in sufficient foreign currency to pay for the medicine, fuel, and food that Greece needs to survive, which isn't going to leave a lot for the Greek people.

So what's the end game? Well, the German proposal -- lots of dead Greeks due to starvation, exposure, and lack of medicine -- isn't going to pass political muster, the Greeks might as well default at that point since default is going to have the same result. IMF bailout isn't going to happen until the current government collapses and a new government is in place, and given that the Greek police are out of tear gas (and lack the cash to buy more) this might be sooner rather than later unless they resort to live bullets, in which case game over, there will be government officials hanging from street lamp posts shortly thereafter. What it looks like to me is going to be the messy default scenario, where a revolutionary government ends up taking office and imposes a hard-core socialist reallocation of the nation's assets to bring in the foreign exchange needed to keep the country from freezing and starving to death. Eurozone or non-Eurozone? 50-50 chance, my guess though is non-Eurozone. How many Greeks will die for Germany before all of this goes through? I suspect fairly few -- low tens of thousands -- because the government is already teetering on the edge of irrelevancy and collapse so this farce cannot go on for much longer. And then? Well, we'll see. They'll either create a new model for how to handle an economy in a time of depression, or they'll become Somalia North. Either way, Greeks are in for some interesting times...

- Badtux the Economics Penguin

21 February 2012

No Comment Necessary

20 February 2012

No Comment Necessary

19 February 2012

Going Backwards @ an increasing pace

Reposted from JobsAnger

The right-wing in this country has whined incessantly about so-called liberal "activist" judges, even though all those judges are doing in correctly interpreting the Constitution to make sure all citizens are assured of receiving equal rights (such as women, minorities, and homosexuals). But those same right-wingers have no problem with their own "activist" judges, who are acting to take away equal rights from American citizens. This is because most right-wingers don't believe in equal rights. They believe white, male, christian, conservative, English-speakers are superior and should have more rights than other American citizens.

Don't believe that? Then consider the case of Alejandrina Cabrera (pictured above). Ms. Cabrera had filed to run for the city council of San Luis, Arizona. But the mayor of that city decided Cabrera should not be allowed to run because she is not fluent in English. She says she can read English (letters, books) but only rates herself as about a 5 out of 10 in speaking and understanding spoken English. Her political opponents went to court to prevent Cabrera from being on the ballot in the city council election.

And her opponents were able to find a right-wing "activist" judge. Yuma County Superior Court Judge John Nelson ruled that Cabrera's name should be removed from the official election ballot. He said it was not a question of intelligence, but because of her lack of proficiency in the English language. Even more amazing is the fact that the Arizona Supreme Court upheld Judge Nelson's decision.

Why do I call these "activist" judges? Because although Arizona has a law that says statewide office-holders must be proficient in English, no such law exists for local elections like city council elections. What these judges did was create new law, and isn't that the definition of "activist" judges?

Now I know some of you may be saying right now that without a good knowledge of English she would not be able to properly serve the citizens in the city of San Luis. I disagree. This is not some white suburb of Phoenix. San Luis is a border town where 98.7% of the population is Hispanic and 87% of the residents speak Spanish in their homes. It sounds to me like an English-only city council person would be at a much more serious disadvantage than Ms. Cabrera.

Frankly, this is not just a case of right-wing judicial activism -- it also has the repellent stench of bigotry. (And by the way, Ms. Cabrera was born in the United States, so she is a citizen. She also graduated from a San Luis high school.) Refusing to allow her name on the ballot is simply wrong.

18 February 2012

No Comment Necessary

17 February 2012

I wish Ted was Right!

Reposted from Jobsanger

I read this from one of my favorite Blogs. I wish it was true, but a random unscientific poll of small business owners I know in VA showed me that they although they agree with many of the statements below, they still will vote Repube, no matter what.

WTF Mates!

It has become obvious to all but the most thick-headed voters that the Republicans care only for the rich and the giant corporations. The Republicans have tried to hide this by telling Americans that raising taxes on the rich (those making more than $1 million a year) and eliminating corporate loopholes would hurt most of America's small businesses. That is a lie. And small business owners know it's a lie.

Three organizations that represent small business owners recently conducted a joint survey of those small businesses. The organizations are the Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, and American Sustainable Business Council. The business owners surveyed were 50% Republican, 32% Democratic, and 15% Independent (so an anti-Republican bias can't be claimed). Here are some of the results of that survey.

* 90% believe big corporations use loopholes to avoid paying taxes that small businesses have to pay.

* 91% believe that multinational corporations using loopholes to move money to offshore accounts to avoid taxes is a big problem.

* 75% say their own small businesses are harmed when corporations use loopholes to avoid paying taxes.

* 67% say big corporations pay less than their fair share of taxes, and 73% say multinational corporations pay less than their fair share of taxes.

* 58% say households making more than $1 million a year pay less than their fair share of taxes, and 57% say the tax rate on those making more than a million a year should be raised.

* 81% believe hedge fund managers should pay the ordinary tax rate on earned income for "carried interest" instead of the 15% capital gains tax rate.

* 51% say the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire next year for those making more than $250,000 a year.

It looks like small business owners are starting to realize that congressional Republicans are not representing them, but only the rich and the giant corporations. Most of them no longer believe the Republican lies.

16 February 2012

15 February 2012


14 February 2012


13 February 2012


12 February 2012

11 February 2012

No Comment Necessary

10 February 2012

Corporate Tax Avoidance At 40 Year High

Reposted From Jobsanger

We have been hearing about corporations avoiding taxes for a while now. This excellent piece from Think Progress shows just how bad corporate tax avoidance has become. Something must be done about this. Americans pay their taxes (except for the rich like Mitt Romney) and it's time for the corporations to pay their share also. Here is what Think Progress had to say about corporate taxes:

In recent decades, corporate tax revenue has plunged, falling from about 6 percent of gross domestic product in the 1950′s to less than 2 percent today, due to a proliferation of corporate tax breaks and the use of offshore tax havens. According to the Congressional Budget Office, in fact, corporate tax receipts as a share of corporate profits have hit their lowest point in 40 years:

Corporate tax receipts as a share of profits are at their lowest level in at least 40 years.
Total corporate federal taxes paid fell to 12.1% of profits earned from activities within the U.S. in fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 30, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s the lowest level since at least 1972. And well below the 25.6% companies paid on average from 1987 to 2008.

Even the 25.6 percent share of profits that went to corporate taxes over the last quarter century comes in below the top statutory corporate tax rate of 35 percent. Meanwhile, corporate profits are currently at a 60 year high, rebounding back to above where they were before the Great Recession hit.

At the same time that corporations are pulling in huge amounts of money, workers are seeing their wages shrink. Last year, real wages fell by 2 percent, and “many employees are also working longer hours and getting more done without raises or overtime pay.” “Part of the reason why business profits are so high is it is a zero-sum game, so labor is on the losing end of that,” said Aaron Smith, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics. “Businesses are getting more out of each worker they have.”

09 February 2012

No Comment Necessary

07 February 2012

Were #47!! YEAH???

I am listing below the top 51 countries with the freest press. I think you'll be surprised at some of the countries that rank better than the United States.

1. Finland
1. Norway
3. Estonia
3. Netherlands
5. Austria
6. Iceland
6. Luxembourg
8. Switzerland
9. Cape Verde
10. Canada
10. Denmark
12. Sweden
13. New Zealand
14. Czech Republic
15. Ireland
16. Cyprus
16. Jamaica
16. Germany
19. Costa Rica
20. Belgium
20. Namibia
22. Japan
22. Surinam
24. Poland
25. Mali
25. OECS
25. Slovakia
28. United Kingdom
29. Niger
30. Australia
30. Lithuania
32. Uruguay
33. Portugal
34. Tanzania
35. Papua New Guinea
36. Slovenia
37. El Salvador
38. France
39. Spain
40. Hungary
41 Ghana
42. South Africa
42. Botswana
44. South Korea
45. Comoros
45. Taiwan
47. United States
47. Argentina
47. Romania
50. Latvia
50. trinidad and Tobago

06 February 2012

No Comment Necessary

The first three changes to the Pledge of Allegiance were rather innocuous and appropriate for the secular government established by the Founding Fathers. The fourth however, was divisive and added a theocratic element to the pledge -- making it no longer applicable to a significant portion of the population. How can such an exclusionary change be a good thing?

05 February 2012

More Klanservative “Respect” For the Constitution

Reposted from Reconsitution

Maybe the most aggravating thing about Klanservatives these days is their utter inability to accept that other points of view exist. Like their monkey Lord, you are either with them, or you are a TURRIST. They will not accept any point of view save their own, and if someone else is elected, they hound and hound that person until he or she is gone.
We saw it back when they tried to impeach a sitting popular President. We saw it when they threatened violence unless the doctored results of the 2000 election were allowed to stand. But we’ve never seen anything like we’ve seen since one of those damn n_____s got himself elected (without tricks, unlike their monkey.) The residence of a Black man in the WHITE House has driven them plumb fucking loco.
They are now almost openly threatening the President of the United States. That this story comes from Arizona is less than no surprise, but it is far from an isolated incident. The Klanservatives have got to be exhausting the Secret Service just from trying to keep up with all of the threats.
Remember…. these are the very same people who pissed themselves when a high school kid made a poster with a tack in Chimpy’s head.

The Secret Service is investigating a picture that was posted on an Arizona police officer’s Facebook page in which an image of President Barack Obama appears to have been used for target practice.
The Peoria Police Department is also investigating Police Sgt. Patrick Shearer and a picture that was uploaded on Jan. 19 showing several young men in the desert holding various weapons (including assault rifles and a revolver) and holding up a T-shirt with President Obama’s likeness on it.
The shirt appeared riddled with bullet holes.
The picture was online while the president was visiting Arizona earlier this week, but was removed from the sergeant’s page on Thursday after inquiries were made to the Peoria Police.
“We received information about a possible policy violation today involving one of our employees,” Peoria Police spokesman Jay Davies told CBS Affiliate KPHO.
Davies said Peoria Police were contacted by the Secret Service.
The Secret Service confirmed to KPHO that it has launched an investigation surrounding the picture.
A Secret Service official confirmed to CBS News that an investigation is underway, saying, “We’re aware of the incident and we are taking the appropriate follow-up steps. We recognize that people have the right to free speech, but we also have the right to determine what someone’s intent is.
“When we get information that shows someone has an unusual direction of interest in one of our protectees we take the appropriate follow-up steps.”

Now the Klanservatives will, as they always do, claim that this was just a yuk-yuk joke, and not meant to be taken seriously.
I remember one of their other “not to be taken seriously” pictures. You could find it all over Texas, back in 1963.

04 February 2012

if only

From The economist

A FREIGHT train, its dozen cars loaded with coal covered in a light dusting of snow, snaked through the narrow valley, sometimes following the two-lane highway and sometimes crossing it. The valley was silent and snowy, and though it was two days into 2012 it could easily have been 1982, 1942 or 1922: coal has been mined in Appalachia and carried out by rail for well over a century.

And by some measures, coal is still going strong. It provides more of America’s electricity than any other fuel. Production has fallen off since 2008, but it remains high, as do prices, for which thank the developing world’s appetite. In Appalachia, coal remains a source of well-paid jobs in a region that needs them: for the first three quarters of 2011 employment in the Appalachian coal industry was at its highest level since 1997. And the Powder River Basin, which spans Wyoming and Montana, has become America’s major source of coal in the past decade, relieving overmined Kentucky and West Virginia. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reckons America has enough coal to meet current demand levels for the next 200 years.

But if the raw numbers look good, the trends tell a different story. Regulatory uncertainty and the emergence of alternative fuel sources (natural gas and renewables) will probably make America’s future far less coal-reliant than its past. In 2000 America got 52% of its electricity from coal; in 2010 that number was 45%. Robust as exports are, they account for less than one-tenth of American mined coal; exports cannot pick up the slack if America’s taste for coal declines. Appalachian coal production peaked in the early 1990s; the EIA forecasts a decline for the next three years, followed by two decades of low-level stability. Increased employment and declining productivity suggest that Appalachian coal is getting harder to find.

Toughening regulation has an effect, too. Coal-fired power plants are the source of more than one-third of greenhouse-gas emissions in America. Last July the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a rule that requires 28 states to reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide they emit; in December came another, reducing the amount of mercury and other toxic air pollutants that power plants can puff out.

Many plants have already made the necessary upgrades and retrofits; around 53% of America’s coal-fired capacity comes from units fitted with scrubbers. But others, particularly older plants, will have to decide whether such expensive upgrades are worth doing at all. Most of America’s coal-fired capacity comes from plants at least 30 years old, and as much as 14% of existing coal-fired plants, accounting for 4% of America’s generation capacity, will have to be retired in the next five to eight years. Energy providers face a stark choice. They can fight these regulations in court (outcome uncertain). They can retrofit old plants: plenty have done that, too. Or they can build new plants—in which case, far more are choosing plants that burn natural gas or use renewables rather than coal.

To some, regulations prove the current administration’s hostility to coal. To others, however, they are a long-overdue attempt to gauge a putatively cheap fuel’s true external costs. A National Academy of Sciences report estimated that the external costs unrelated to climate-change costs (to human health, crop and timber yields, building materials and recreation) of coal-fired power plants in 2005 totalled $62 billion. A study of coal’s effects on Kentucky’s budget in 2006 found that it contributed $528m in revenue, but its on-budget costs—training, support, repairs to the roads, R&D for the coal industry—totalled $643m. A study in West Virginia in 2009 also found the coal industry a net cost to the state.

Without alternatives, America might need to resign itself to these costs. But alternatives are there. As coal’s share of America’s electricity-generation market fell between 2000 and 2010, those of natural gas and renewables rose: gas from 16% to 24%, and renewables from 9% to 10%.

The EIA forecasts that America will still obtain 39% of its energy from coal by 2035, but that assumes a consistent regulatory framework. Other sources are less sanguine. Deutsche Bank predicts that coal’s share will fall to 20% by 2030 as regulatory risk grows, with natural gas and renewables rising. That seems more likely. The EPA’s new emissions rules may have been stayed by the courts, but they loom nonetheless, hampering investment in coal.

The switch away from it will be painful for some. But as Robert Byrd, the late senator from West Virginia, once said, coal-dependent regions “can choose to anticipate change and adapt to it, or resist and be overrun by it.”

03 February 2012

Why the Tea Party fights Renewable Energy

Charles and David Koch are owners of a primary funders for the tea party and other extreme conservative groups. $21.5 billion each make them the 5th richest people in America and controlling stockholders for Koch Industries Inc. They are a private global conglomerate located in over 60 countries, including interests in oil, refining, pipelines, paper products, chemicals, fertilizer and commodities trading with annual revenues around $100 billion.
A review of documents and tax records for frequently connected interconnected web of corporate front groups, supported by the Koch brothers, shows how dangerous these groups espousing free markets and liberty have become to society.

The Koch brothers’ decision to create a nonprofit network dates back to 1977 when Charles Koch founded the Cato Institute, an organization the Koch foundations continue to fund. According to Cato’s web site, David Koch continues to sit on its board along with Kevin Gentry, Vice President for Strategic Development at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and chief honcho of the secret, annual strategy meetings of the Kochtopi.

From 2002 to 2006 the Koch funded Mercatus Center paid Lawrence Kudlow, a CNBC co-host and later host of his own show “The Kudlow Report”. “Mercatus spent at least $227,000 on more than 400 trips for lawmakers and their aides from 2000 to mid 2005”. Kudlow and frequent guest of the Kudlow Report Stephen Moore are big names and have a huge impact on who gets the presidential slate in 2012.

02 February 2012

2011 was ninth-warmest year since 1880: NASA

(Reuters) - The global average temperature last year was the ninth-warmest in the modern meteorological record, continuing a trend linked to greenhouse gases that saw nine of the 10 hottest years occurring since the year 2000, NASA scientists said on Thursday.

A separate report from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the average temperature for the United States in 2011 as the 23rd warmest year on record.

The global average surface temperature for 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 degrees C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline temperature, researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies said in a statement. The institute's temperature record began in 1880.

The first 11 years of the new century were notably hotter than the middle and late 20th century, according to institute director James Hansen. The only year from the 20th century that was among the top 10 warmest years was 1998.

These high global temperatures come even with the cooling effects of a strong La Nina ocean temperature pattern and low solar activity for the past several years, said Hansen, who has long campaigned against human-spurred climate change.

The NASA statement said the current higher temperatures are largely sustained by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is emitted by various human activities, from coal-fired power plants to fossil-fueled vehicles to human breath.

Current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceed 390 parts per million, compared with 285 ppm in 1880 and 315 by 1960, NASA said.

01 February 2012

No Comment Necessary

There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.—Aldous Huxley