Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Republicans want to argue with this guy?

Seriously. People love this guy. Besides, activist judges are defined by the majority in Bush v. Gore, not by those who helped fix great injustices.

in reference to:

""the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and major social transformations to attain the system of constitutional government and its respect for the freedoms and individual rights, we hold as fundamental today.""
- Thurgood Marshall - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (view on Google Sidewiki)

Lil' Help on Byrd for Josh Marshall

In his excellent look into racism in the US Senate following the passing of Robert Byrd, Josh Marshall wonders if you can ever really know what someone feels in their heart in regard to racism. I think Josh isn't giving himself credit for having just estimated quite accurately, I would wager.
People change over the course of their lives. This we know. Whether they change out of conviction or opportunism is very difficult to judge. Indeed, it's often a false dichotomy because overtime we come to believe what we find it convenient and expedient to believe. I think the operative question is what they do. 
People eventually do what's in their hearts. I'm from Arkansas, which was a lot like West Virginia (mining, union jobs, middle class, religious).  I knew older men Byrd's age, some relatives. They were kind, gentle, intelligent, and ambitious. They won WWII. They grew up in a different age. They told racist jokes. They treated other races like a novelty, an oddity, almost like a afliction--like the handicapped. They grew up apart from other races, and as they realized (as they were being forced together by the Civil Rights laws) that other people were just that: people.

I think they were embarrassed by their former selves, and many went on to make great strides for the people they had ignored and ridiculed for so long. People do change. Some for the better. Others, like Trent Lott, don't. They just occasionally say something that tips you off to what they think, but long ago learned to not say in public.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

This is what Dick Cheney wanted

While Dick Cheney is laying in his hospital bed, thinking over his life's accomplishments (millions killed, oil all over the Gulf of Mexico, economy wrecked, friends made much richer) I don't expect him to think much about the warnings he and Georgie boy must've gotten about drilling for oil in deep water. After all, Dick ran Halliburton, the company that KBR is part of, and KBR had a history of stopping oil leaks.


I don't expect Dick to think much about how much damage this gusher has done to the environment and the people who depended on that environment for their jobs and livelihoods. I don't expect Dick to think about these things because I don't think Dick thinks much at all really. He's made up his mind on issues like this. If you care about the environment, or Iraqis, or US economic growth and job creation, his attitude has, and always will be, "Go fuck yourself."

When I worked as a stagehand, a lot of people I worked with joked that our union motto was, due to the dwindling amount of union jobs: " I got mine: fuck you."

Well, Dick's motto was, and always has been, "I'm getting more: fuck you." The more they were after in this case was a Mount Everest down from the ocean surface, under methane at 100,000 psi pressure. It was impossible to do safely, and yet the Bush administration had made new drilling priority one from day one, putting foxes in all the hen houses, and pushing for drilling like this to go forward no matter what the risks.

These are the facts. This is how the Bush Administration did business. They risked it all for the benefit of their rich donors, and they blew it. And anyone who says otherwise probably denies global warming, evolution, and the holocaust too.

in reference to: petroleumworld (view on Google Sidewiki)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How's That Fossily-Fuelie Thing Working Out For You?

That's a quote from my wife, Robin, after she picked her jaw up off the floor and held back a new round of tears over this picture--a graphic slap in the face to the Dick Cheney School of Government.

A close-cropped picture of the gulf oil slick from NASA made the rounds to a few big blogs yesterday, but I followed the source links to an even more heart-wrenching high definition large view of the entire gulf of Mexico that gives you a better idea of the scope of this damn thing. Then I cropped it and came up with this startling image--sans the handy place labels, but even the geographically challenged will notice the gulf coast of Texas and Florida (left and right respectively).

Anyone who voted for Bush/Cheney Oil Incorporated shouldn't even look at me right now. Anyone who wants to tell me there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans needs to stare at this for a while, print it out, roll it up nice and tight, and shove it. Every last Republican voter is responsible for this. They put foxes in the hen houses, and this is what it got us.

If you have access to a Republican's computer, go get the big version and use it as desktop wallpaper. Print it out and make a post card and send it to anyone who even ever thought about voting for the Grand Oil Party.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Trees Are Stealing Our Water!

I don't listen to Rush. He still thinks we [members of Congress] don't pay into Social Security... I don't listen to talk radio. I don't have the time. --Rep. Darrell Issa, via TPM
What does it take to get a Republican to denounce Rush Limbaugh? 80 million gallons of oil spewed into the gulf of Mexico and Limbaugh's continued defense of BP, apparently. The TPM story is the first I've seen noting an earthquake in the GOP that had been building for a while, due to the increased pressure between the two tectonic plates of the GOP: The Limbaugh crazies and the crazies who's job it is to get Republicans elected. This clash of landmasses is going to do even more magnitudes of damage to a party that, if it knew shit from shinola, should be taking back the House and Senate this year.

At the rate they're going, I'd be surprised if they could take back their toys at the end of the day.

Perhaps more telling than the rift between the Limbaugh Lemmings and the Issa Idiots is the story of Karl Rove's adventures in alternative fund raising for the GOP:

A new 527 group conceived by veteran GOP hands Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie and launched this year with predictions that it would raise $52 million to support Republican candidates has thus far failed to live up to the fundraising hype.
The group, American Crossroads, raised only $200 last month, according to a report it filed Monday with the Internal Revenue Service, bringing its total raised since launching in March to a little more than $1.25 million. It spent $76,000 in May, primarily on legal fees and salaries, bringing its total spending to $140,000.

All those tax cuts to the rich and Karl Rove can't raise money? Well, as Turd Blossom himself once said, "You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math. I'm entitled to 'the' math."

The Math for Republicans is not good these days. The other main alternative fundraising apparatus, The Tea Baggers, aren't doing much better, although at $4.5 million, they make the Shit Flower look like he needs some water. Or more shit. Maybe the GOP donors, many of them pissed that they've been used to fund a neo-con agenda that didn't result in crucifying gays, forcing prayer in school, putting abortion doctors on death row, restarting prohibition, and planting a 40 ton set of stones with the ten commandments on the White House lawn, just don't want to pony up to Karl, or anyone else for that matter. But whadya bet it's just another con job on the right? They'll throw them some bones here and there, then work for their corporate overlords.

There's a perfect example of all kinds of Republican crazy on display in this month's Harper's Magazine article by Ken Silverstein, Tea party in the Sonora: For the future of G.O.P. governance, look to Arizona:
Then there was Sylvia Allen, a real estate broker from the town of Snowflake, who, in 2008, was appointed by the local Republican Party to finish the term of a respected conservative who had died in office. Allen, who retained her seat in an election that fall, has since gained minor notoriety after calling for more uranium mining, saying in a speech that “this earth has been here 6,000 years, long before anybody had environmental laws, and somehow it hasn’t been done away with.” She also has complained that trees are “stealing Arizona’s water supply” and sponsored a new law that allows carriers of concealed weapons to forego safety training and the indignity of background checks.
 Just imagine this kind of institutionalized crazy, which is really pretty typical of the GOP, combined with this kind of corporate arrogance:
“It’s my opinion that Mr. Barton and Mr. Price’s comments were more of a reaction to the arrogance in President Obama’s speech, where he said he was going to ‘inform’ BP that they would set aside this separate compensation fund to be controlled by a third party,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.). “Under our laws and Constitution, the president does not possess the power or authority to make such an arrogant command to a private company.”
OK, then. Anyone who votes for these political Neanderthals deserves the kind of Arizonan dystopia they so deeply desire, where they pay private companies to do what their taxes used to do. If all Republicans would all just move to the land of cheap housing and $500 electric bills, the rest of us could get on with the kind of hard work that running a country requires.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The largest environmental disaster in history?

My Dad was a Republican, although he died before the GW Bush "Presidency," so, who knows what he would think about the screw-the-planet-because-Jesus-is-coming-back-soon lunatics in the GOP now. I like to think that he would be like Charles Barkley, a former "Money Republican" like Dad who said, "I used to be a Republican until they lost their minds."

But who knows. Maybe he'd be a crazy tea bagger, in which case we wouldn't talk anymore. Politics isn't a polite sport for me. I know someone's a wingnut, I give them a blast of my best stuff, and then I eliminate any connections with them. Just ask the Guvernator fans in my family.

But one thing I would ask my Dad, what I ask any old person who might have experienced it directly, is what they knew about the dust bowl. After reading this NYT article, Where Gulf Spill Might Place on the Roll of Disasters, I've been researching man-made environmental disasters, and the dust bowl keeps coming up.

Still, for sheer disruption to human lives, several of them could think of no environmental problem in American history quite equaling the calamity known as the Dust Bowl.
“The Dust Bowl is arguably one of the worst ecological blunders in world history,” said Ted Steinberg, a historian at Case Western Reserve University.
Across the High Plains, stretching from the Texas Panhandle to the Dakotas, poor farming practices in the early part of the 20th century stripped away the native grasses that held moisture and soil in place. A drought that began in 1930 exposed the folly.
Boiling clouds of dust whipped up by harsh winds buried homes and cars, destroyed crops, choked farm animals to death and sent children to the hospital with pneumonia. At first the crisis was ignored in Washington, but then the apocalyptic clouds began to blow all the way to New York, Buffalo and Chicago. A hearing in Congress on the disaster was interrupted by the arrival of a dust storm.
By the mid-1930s, people started to give up on the region in droves. The Dust Bowl refugees joined a larger stream of migrants displaced by agricultural mechanization, and by 1940 more than two million people had left the Great Plains States.

Pretty serious stuff. In the last few days in my role as Captain Bringdown as my wife refers to me, I've been reading about Bohpal, Chernobyl, the Johnstown Flood, The Three Gorges Damn, and various oil spills, nuclear contamination sites, deforestation, climate change, and the near extinction of the North American Buffalo. How can anyone decide what the worst is? They're all awful. Many lives are still being claimed by some of these catastrophes, when you take malnutrition, bad water, cancer, and birth defects into account.

So what's my conclusion about the worst man-made environmental catastrophe in history? Homo Sapiens.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Those Damn Trial Lawyers Republicans Hate So Much


Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer is rolling out a fundraising campaign for a private legal defense fund to represent the state against legal challenges to its new immigration law.

Yes, please, more money to trial lawyers from Republicans. I love it.

Great graphic on energy use in the US

Note the amount of energy "lost" in transmission and distribution. Note the huge amounts of oil, gas, and coal, and the tiny amounts of renewable sources. This is a travesty.

Also note that a lot, if not most of solar, is made where it's used, so there's a lot less loss from transmission. This is one of the main reasons I support decentralized power production. Make the power where it's going to be used and you save a ton on transmission. Make the place it's used more efficient (conserve more) and you save a ton on distribution.

This great graphic makes it easy to see where the problems are. Now we just have to stop people from voting for Republicans. If only there was a graphic to help visualize that...

in reference to: (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Peter Baker doesn't understand what makes cars go

In his injuriously slanted article against the president, Peter Baker's ignorance couldn't be more clear. This story belongs in the opinion section, with all the other never-miss-a-chance-to-mention-Rev.-Wright stories. Nice, too, the way he works in Boehner's "job-killer" quote without mentioning the millions of jobs clean energy would provide.

But first, someone should fact check this messy little tirade. While Mr. Baker is right that windmills and solar panels won't fill gas tanks, they will fill batteries, and batteries can make cars go too.

Perhaps we need an Apollo project to train better reporters.

in reference to:

"The connection to the spill, of course, goes only so far. While he called for more wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, neither fills gasoline tanks in cars and trucks, and so their expansion would not particularly reduce the need for the sort of deepwater drilling that resulted in the spill."
- News Analysis - With Call to Arms, Obama Seeks to Shift Arc of Oil Crisis - (view on Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I got your implication right here

Ignoring the obvious beginnings of a feeding frenzy in some oxygen deprived waters by the heads of these other oil companies, who have locked in on the bleeding person-hood of BP with their shark-like senses, I find this implication that somehow Mr. Tillerson's company is immune to Murphy's law disgustingly ballsy.

Here's the question: how big of a spill is so big that it's not worth the risk of more? At what point do you just say, screw it, it's too hard to do safely? 100 million gallons? A billion? I'd like to hear some Oil CEO with a carbon footprint the size of Alaska put a number on it.

OK, I'd settle for a person who might lose their job in a moratorium. Let's hear their number. When we get to that number, I'll support a bill to retrain you for building windmills.
in reference to:
"Rex W. Tillerson, chairman of Exxon Mobil, testified that if companies follow proper well design, drilling, maintenance and training procedures accidents like Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20 “should not occur,” implying that BP had failed to do so."
- Oil Executives Try to Explain Differences From BP - (view on Google Sidewiki)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Jacques Cousteau's 100th Birthday

"We are living in an interminable succession of absurdities imposed by the myopic logic of short-term thinking."—Jacques-Yves Cousteau

That quote has graced the top of our free desktop wallpaper home page for a very long time now. It is by far my favorite quote. Every time we get another black swan event like Dick Cheney's Katrina down in the gulf, I think of that quote.

Cousteau would, of course, be horrified that his 100th birthday (today) would be marred by this catastrophe. He would be angry at the myopic logic that got us to such a disaster. But, judging from that quote, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be surprised.

Despite the sorrow born of a clear understanding of the terrifying challenges that await us, Captain Cousteau always thought that humanity has a chance, for he believed deeply in the capacity of humans to adapt, to create, to invent solutions that would save the future. This lucid and creative optimism, united with a great affection for life, allowed him to show us paths that many have begun to adopt: the Rights of Future Generations, a holistic and thoughtful long-term approach to risk-taking, the conservation of biodiversity, the determined search for clean energy and especially solar energy, integrated management of large aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, the resolution of problems of intervention between States to establish compatible and effective legal practices in environmental regulation …
I agree we have a chance. But when I see Republicans (and corporatist Democrats), who many people are thinking about voting for, standing up and saying this is not a catastrophe, standing up to defend BP, I come to the conclusion that the chance is minuscule and getting microscopic by the minute. If people can be so guided by their own bigotry and greed that they vote against their own interests for more myopic logic and more resultant absurdities, then what hope can there be that those of us who do have the capacity to adapt, create, and invent solutions will be able to overcome the power and corruption of the ruling corporate class?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Slow Money Grows Slow Food

It probably won't be the next bubble--in fact, that's the idea--but if you're looking to make your money do some good while it makes more money, this might be worth looking into. (It doesn't look like they're taking investments yet.)

The Slow Money Alliance says:

* What would the world be like if we invested 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live?
* What if there were a new generation of companies that gave away 50% of their profits?
* What if there were 50% more organic matter in our soil 50 years from now?

I'm not holding my breath on the giving away of profits, but I'm sure there are plenty of companies and investors who understand that if we do the other two, we would have more sustainable communities.

In reference to: Slow Money: Investment strategies appropriate to the realities of the 21st century - Home (view on Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Dangerous complex technology with no way to clean up the mess

Yes, deep water oil drilling is a dangerous and complex technology that lets a very messy genie out of its bottle. But one of the proposed alternatives to our fossil fuel addiction is an even more complex technology with an even more dangerous genie, and even less remediation possibilities if that genie gets out.

The Davis-Besse nuclear reactor in Oak Harbor Ohio just had the same problem it had in 2002, where acid has eaten away the vessel head, allowing cooling water to leak out. This has been described as a "startling near-miss" and it's happened twice now at this reactor.

This same corrosion has happened to other vessel heads at other plants, though not as seriously. Considering the assurances we got from the "experts" that deep water oil wells were safe, how can we possibly believe "experts" telling us that nuclear energy is safe.

I can easily prove that Dick Cheney's covert energy meetings and resulting lax regulation and oversight, combined with Bush appointments of foxes into hen houses, resulted in "Cheney's Katrina" now spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. It will be similarly easy to label any future nuclear accident "Obama's Chernobyl."

We desperately need to simplify and decentralize our energy production, with emphasis on renewable sources and conservation.

in reference to:

"a nuclear reactor where a hidden leak caused near-catastrophic corrosion in 2002 has experienced a second bout of the same problem."
- An Old Nuclear Problem Creeps Back - Green Blog - (view on Google Sidewiki)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Why does Carly Fiorina hate the Armed Forces?

Fiorina, in her new commercial: "Terrorism kills. And Barbara Boxer wants to talk about the weather..."

Well, the Pentagon thinks global warming could prove a greater risk to the world than terrorism. Any of you idiot Republicans have a response for the Pentagon?

in reference to:
"a Pentagon study raised the possibility that global warming could prove a greater risk to the world than terrorism."
- Climate-Related Core Issues - Pentagon study on consequences of climate change (view on Google Sidewiki)