Saturday, March 31, 2012

An Earth Day Prognosis: Horrific!

As many of us remember Earth Day today, it is well to consider the prognosis for the planet and by that I mean Earth as a human habitat, not merely an inanimate agglomeration of rock, soil, water that exists independent of us. Obviously such a sterile entity would continue to exist long past our human demise, and at least until the Sun enters its Red Giant phase.

In terms of Earth as home for humans, the prognosis isn't good. Already, the expectations of increased water shortages - such as repored in 'The State of the World' annual reports, is that we may well be looking at water catastrophes. This is not only in terms of ever diminishing potable supplies (owing to climate change) but also from increased pollution of water sources, and water sheds.

For example, in Nigeria the populace must contend with contamination of available water sources with oil, and oil leaking from ruptures in antiquated supply lines. In the U.S. we may face the same thing if the Keystone Pipeline is ever approved, because we know its pipeline material is much less trustworthy than say, the Alaska Pipeline.

Meanwhile, nearly 57% of U.S. watersheds are now contaminated with everything from benzene and tossed out pharmaceuticals to potassium perchlorate or rocket fuel. Is it any wonder that cancer rates keep rising in many parts of the nation. (And if Romney gets elected, one of his first enunciated Executive Orders will be to repeal further water regs, even as he vows to repeal "Obamacare" if the Supremes should allow it to go forward.)

Meanwhile, as the Maldives are soon to be the first "canary in the coal mine" claimed from sea level rise due to climate change, deniers and their PR henchmen continue to spread the lie that it's a myth. Just this past Wednesday, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a 594-page study indicating that observations since 1950 disclose a "change in some extremes" tied to global warming.

The report is the product of a collaboration between 220 authors and from 62 countries. As with earlier reports, in the words of Daniel Schrag, Harvard professor of geochemistry and director of the Laboratory for Geochemical Oceanography,

"The breadth that gives its findings weight – over 3,000 scientists, reviewers, and government officials – means that consensus had to be reached across broad points of view, including those from countries whose economies are based on oil production. "

In effect, as he notes, because of such incorporation of broad points of view, all such reports "inevitably reflect a conservative view. This isn't something coming from Greenpeace."

But, of course, the planetary rapists of the Right will never see it that way. To them, anyone who speaks up for the human stewardship of the planet and who defends the judicious conservation of its resources for all- not just capitalist plunderers- will be tagged as a "socialist", commie, terrorist, traitor or worse...."tree hugger".

In the same IPCC report, the projection is made that there is a 90-100 % probability that sea rise "will contribute to upward trends in extreme coastal high water levels in the future."

To fix ideas on this, the attached map from the U.S. Geological survey shows the projected area of Florida which will be reclaimed by the sea by 2035.

What will happen to the millions that live there? Well, they will either have to learn how to swim non-stop, build their own large water craft, or move north!

Meanwhile, as an additional consequence of climate change- warming, once tropical insect species are now invading large swatches of the temperate zones - even as resistance to antibiotic infections increases. What will then happen when severe insect bites from tropical species, say a particular large Wolf spider that inhabits Trinidad, occurs with dismaying frequency in the States - causing massive, suppurating wounds and infections - but there is no antibiotic to treat it?

Well, perhaps people will go back to herbal remedies, and maybe "prayer" - given that recent polls now show 25% of U.S. citizens think that "prayer is a bona fide form of health care."

No wonder so many think Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is foolish government "intrusion".

Maybe they won't think that after legions of pests including: Trinidadian Jack Spaniards, fire ants, Marabunta, schistosome-infected snails, tse-tse flies, Leptospirotic rats, rabid vampire bats and other vermin overrun our shores, even as drinkable water and antibiotics run out. But by then, of course, it will be too late.

Happy Earth Day!

Further Dimensions of the War on Women

Despite what some extreme Right-wing bloggers claim, Sandra Fluke is NOT a public person!

We now return to the further dimensions of the War on American Women, being conducted as a full scale assault by many individual states. This is not surprising, because the Anti-reproductive choice fetishists and zealots have discovered that the best way to undermine women's rights across the board is to do it state-by-state as opposed to attempting a wholesale usurpation at the federal level.

To help women, I have therefore posted an up to date breakdown (compliments of NARAL) of the most critical state threats. They give a brief snapshot of each state and what their authoritarian laws are all about. The scariest aspect perhaps, as Nancy Keenan the President of NARAL has observed in a recent letter, is that the Senate currently has only "40 solidly pro-choice" members. This means that if the Repukes take the Senate, and keep the House - as well as seize the presidency, they could actually do the unthinkable: roll back Roe v. Wade.

Even without that drastic move, the draconian laws highlighted are spreading to other states which include: women having to subject themselves to biased counseling sessions by preachers and zealot drs., mandatory delays before any abortion can be performed - even one for rape and incest, spousal consent so a woman will have to get permission from hubby first, and gag rules - as well as insurance bans on both contraception and abortion.

Even as states move to solidify these horrific laws against women, and their ability to choose their families, the blowhards of the Right have mounted sundry PR efforts that try to revive false equivalence - which I previously addressed, e.g.

As I noted therein, it is false analogy to compare any Left criticisms of Reep Power women (e.g. Michelle Malkin, Peggy Noonan, Anne Coulter, Sarah Palin et al) to Limbaugh's castigation of Sandra Fluke because Sandra, unlike the Reepo female power brokers, paid columnists etc. is a young private citizen who has NO radio or TV show, and no syndicated column (read by millions) by which she can rip others to smithereens. Nor does Sandra have any pretensions to any public power or public office - or have major political parties or Super-PAC money funding her!

Some delusional right bloggers have insisted that Sandra Fluke "became a public person" when she testified, but to accept that canard would be to accept that anytime a decent, honest and forthright citizen testifies before a House committee on a critical issue, and on behalf of a vulnerable demographic, then s/he is eligible for rightist media "target practice"! NO! NO! AND NOOOOO!

The consent or even willingness to testify does NOT make one a public figure, but a private citizen who displays the courage to temporarily appear on a public stage to testify on behalf of a vulnerable class or minority, as Sandra did. As such, the person must be protected from the vicious assaults, slander and libelous attacks by those who have the power to bellow their filth and lies to 20 million listeners at one time (as El Rushbo does) or to blabber to 6 million at one time, as FAUX's O'Reilly does, or to write columns that are syndicated in thousands of newspapers, as Michelle Malkin does, reaching ten million or more.

It is also foolishness of the most extreme sort to assert that a private citizen who becomes "public" (or thereby becomes a "public figure" in the febrile minds of these shameless conflators) can "defend herself by setting up her own blog" and blogging! Are you effing kidding me? You are going to compare a personal BLOG that maybe reaches 200 at most to a syndicated column like Malkin's which reaches 11 million people each day?

Any such person who would make such an assertion has got to be several cards short of a full deck. The person or persons is obviously not operating in the realm of reality, but ideological fantasy. But this is the extent of disinformation that the forthright citizen is now faced with in today's toxic political climate.

Hopefully all American women against whom these state laws and continued attacks are being mounted will continue to pay attention, and more importantly, note which side of the social issues their "bread' is buttered on.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Jim Avila Deserves 'Reporter of the Year' Award!

In the stuffy, confined quarters of one of the pink slime processing plants yesterday, at a major PR event to spur supermarkets back to taking the stuff, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad growled after a question by ABC News reporter, Jim Avila:

"You just DON"T GET IT! This stuff IS beef!"

What was Avila's crime to make this guy go haywire and ballistic? What so caught his attention and ire that he almost dropped his pink-slime stuffed burger into his lap?

Basically, a simple, eminently logical and rational question to the PR-spinners and their hangers-on and enablers:

"If this pink slime is so great, and real ground beef as you say, why hasn't it been sold as a stand alone item?"

Brilliant! All at once more than a dozen mouths and jaws dropped in the small camera lit room set up for the dog and pony show to feature the gubernators of 3 beef-producing states gobbling this crap. Then, Branstad snapped at the impertinence of Avila's question.

But the point is the question was spot on!

If this stuff is really "the finely textured beef" the PR meisters and Beef Product, Inc. say it is, then WHY can't it be sold stand alone? Hell, if it's that finely textured and healthy every one and his uncle ought to be lining up to buy it? Shit, why settle for ordinary ground beef when one can get the finely textured stuff? Even Kansas governor Sam Brownback asked:

"If you called it 'finely textured beef' would we still be here'?"

Well maybe not! The PR -language war would've been won by the side of the devils. The rest of us would still be gobbling this ammonia -saturated ground beef and been none the wiser. But Avila's point remains! If this filler was really a quality additive as opposed to garbage that's been recycled it would be able to be sold stand alone. Heck, it could even be labeled so in order to spike sales for this superior version.

But the truth is more sinister. The fact is that up until Avila, and ABC News exposed this additive, it wasn't even labeled on the packages of ground beef that were distributed. Consumers in a tight economy coughed up $5 a pound or more expecting that what they were buying was real ground beef, not 30% only and the remainder ground up fat, gristle and bones that ordinarily would be dog food. To me, and many Americans, if you're not labeling it then you have something to hide. And don't worry to even come back with the bollocks argument (as often used by FDA corporatists) that labeling isn't needed if the product is "essentially the same" as the real beef. Oh yes it is, because as we've seen, this additive is nowhere near the same.

So, just like Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who recently guzzled a glass of fracked water (to show it's fine for drinking) these governor clowns who gobbled pink slime in one burger, on one occasion haven't shown us anything. What we want to see is them eating them every day or at least a few times a week, to assess the havoc on their health. One PR stunt doesn't prove diddly.

As for the ammonia, the company BFI said that had to be used "to change the beef's acidity and kill bacteria". But the acidity wouldn't have to be changed if it was real, genuine quality beef - as opposed to cast- off waste crap, and the bacteria can also be killed by irradiation - which doesn't impart any chemical residue.

The bottom line here is simple: The meat producers know they're making hand over fist profits by filling packaged ground beef with this crap and hence....selling less real beef....but still collecting $5 a pound or more. It'd be like some tuna canner indiscriminately filling 30%-40% of each can with crushed fish bones, guts, gills.... and the rest with real tuna then selling it at the regular tuna price of $3 a can. Of course they wouldn't want the bandwagon to stop! Neither would the gov't agency that subsidizes them.

The funniest part of this circus? According to Larry Smith, of the Institute for Crisis Management PR firm, it's unlikely that the makers of pink slime (Cargill and BPI) will be "able to overcome the public stigma against their product".

In other words, the horrific words "pink slime" have caught on and assumed a life of their own.

Meanwhile, a number of those sitting in this PR feint, including Nebraska Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy and South Dakota Lt. Governor Matt Michels, have said this product has been "unfairly maligned".

Unfortunately, no one ever informed either of these bozos that you can't "malign" an inanimate product. It is what it is. It's not a person, has no personality or intent. The ones who need to be maligned are those that thought they could foist this cheap filler on the rest of us in economically parlous times, as if the nature of the times dictated we ought to be satisfied with glorified garbage in our food.

As for Elizabeth Hagen, the under secretary of the USDA also present at the event: When Avila approached her to ask a question she bolted, saying "No comment." Need I say more?

Anyway, kudos to ABC reporter Jim Avila for his brilliant reports on pink slime and the sterling question that exposed the PR-industrial-corporate-government axis to all and sundry! Once more, I recommend the excellent expose of the PR industry: 'Toxic Sludge is Good For You', to all readers. In the meantime, check out the website that tracks PR stunts:

Cuing One of the Biggest Election Landslides in the Last 20 Years

Colorado College students yell 'Obamanos!' in 2008. They will be yelling even more if the new health care law is overturned by the Roberts Supreme court, and - along with tens of millions of women and the medically under-served, propel Obama to a landslide victory in 49 of 50 states.

It boggles the mind, at least the mind of the sane, as they peruse assorted columns, and gibberish spouted by the Republicans and their corporate consevative enablers. Evidently then, only a very few perceptive GOOpers appear to get it: that if the Obama Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is knocked down by the 5 conservo Supremes, or even if just the individual mandate is knocked down (essentially laying waste to the rest of the bill) then the Republican Party stands to be on the losing end of the biggest electoral landslide in the past 20 years come November. No ifs, ands, or buts!

This despite the fact that some of the detached- from -reality columnists (e.g. Kimberly Strassel of the WSJ, today 'The GOP's Health Care Eeeyores', p. A13), believe - to the contrary - that if the law goes down the Reeps can still prevail. According to her:

"The Republicans can argue that any fallout from partial or full repeal of the law - higher prices, the loss of some provisions - is the fault of a Democratic administration that strapped the market to a shoddily considered, partisan bill..."

Well, good luck on that one, Kim! But I'd suggest that before you count your chickens....errr...or 'elephants' first Italicget your team to hire some first rate PR firm. Say like 'Institute of Crisis Management, PR' - the bunch currently trying to salvage the rep of pink slime! ( slime and repukes, kind of a symmetry there!) The fact is that any person not already brain- dead knows it was only Obama and the Dems that attempted to try to DO anything to change this nation's ridiculously messed up health care! All the GOP did is block every initiative, unless it was one that held the sick to private markets and ....escalated rejection via pre-existing conditions, and vastly higher costs! The worst travesty of all in this, is that the bill the Reeps ended up rejecting was effectively one that the REEPS themselves came up with!

This was as an alternative to what they dismissed as "Hillary care" in 1993-94, thereby waging their massive PR campaign while asserting THEIR (individual mandate) version was best.

THEN, when Obama decided to implement it....what do they do? They run as far away from it as if it was the original Hillary bill as opposed to what THEIR thinktanks (like Heritage Foundation) hatched!

Make no mistake that any voter that has more than 15 years of political history in his or her noggin will see what hypocrites the Reeps are and hence THEY will be the ones on the losing end come November.

This political negativity will be consolidated, reinforced as more and more people -families now benefiting from the law (e.g. the part that permits youngsters to remain on their parents' plans until age 26) see what else will befall them if the Roberts Supreme Court overturns even one part of it, but especially the crucial individual mandate.

For example, if the Roberts court overturns it, we will face a health miasma and a system in total chaos. Families, the very sick, the most vulnerable and children will once again be turned away because of having pre-existing conditions,......rubber stamped as anything from severe childhood measles to falling off a swing and breaking an arm.

The insurance companies will also be allowed to restore what they call "lifetime caps" - meaning that once your medical insurance pays out a cumulative total of say $150,000, maybe for pancreatic cancer treatment or chemo over 3 years, and the cap is at $150,000 - then you get no more treatment no matter how desperate, sick or near death you may be.

WHO do you think the victims will blame for this? Obama, who mightily struggled to get something done...or the Repukes who blocked everything that'd make a difference? (I give two guesses but the first doesn't count. )

Insurance companies will also likely cease payment for the cost of preventive services including: mammograms, flu shots, colonoscopies, and other well-child visits. Of course, the young adults - already saddled with massive college debt - will now have to contend with possibly massive insurance debt as well. Or, they could try going without and hoping they get no serious illness, or find themselves in a serious auto accident - say which makes them quadriplegic.

Even more dire, without the projected expansion of Medicaid, and facing measly state budgets, more than 32 million Americans will find themselves at the mercy of the fates clinics. But even 10,000 such clinics will not be able to handle the load, and let's recall many public clinics were cut last year because it was believed by the Reeps that military spending (say for a new combat air brigade at Ft. Carson, Colo.) was more important - at a cost of $1b, then spending $800 million on free clinics!

Beyond that will be the monumental added paper waste that will fuel an increase in our deficit - which, to hear the Reeps, is a very critical matter. Well, if that's so, why would you not do everything to contain monetary waste instead of wanting to overturn a law that controls it?

Consider: One huge cost-saving measure of Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was that it controlled the insurance companies medical loss ratio. This is the amount consumed by paper pushing (administration) and profits, which the law would limit to 15-20%. Without the law, as today's Denver Post Editorial observes, that fraction could easily rise back up to 30% or more. Possibly up to a third not being directed toward claims at all, but paper pushing and $10b a year in profits likely spent on fancy cruises to the Caribbean to entertain insurance money changers, investment banker moguls, PhrMA reps and new physicians, politicos.

WHO do you think the voters will be most angry with when they process all that, after the Supremes knock down the law? WHO?

And we won't even get into the 45 million child bearing-age women who will now also be denied access to affordable birth control. These women are already furious at how the Reeps have dragged them through the mud and associated birth control access with sexual excess.

Do the Reeps and those like Kim Strassel now believe all those women (voters) will be willing to forgive and forget? If so, then they're smoking something maybe way too strong to be legal.

The fact is if this court becomes activist* and knocks down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it will be the biggest impetus to Dem participation in the November election ever seen. Already the college kids, like at Colorado College, are getting organized (see photo) like they were for Obama in 2008. They know the Reepos offer nothing and believe in nothing that redounds to the benefit of ordinary workers and citizens.

Footnote: By "activist" court I mean one that over reaches and upends the will of an elected congress. If the Roberts' court overturns the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or even the individual mandate in it, this will render it activist since it will have arrogated to itself the will of the congress that passed the bill. So, are we a nation for which congressional legislation means something, or a nation which allows high courts to trump that legislation?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pink Slime Defenders Vow to Gobble It In Public!

Pink slime's defenders continue to crawl out of from the woodwork in most of the usual places as we learned today ('Pink Slime Defenders Line Up', WSJ p. B1). According to the latest news, the defenders now include the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (hmmmmm.....there's gotta be some Bushies left in there like in other agencies) as well as the governors of two states: Rick Perry of Texas, and Terry Branstad of Iowa.

They are evidently all planning a major PR event to gobble this stuff in public (Perry says he might even ingest it raw) to show there ain't nuthin' wrong at all. The aim is clear (op. cit., p. B2) to:

"pressure supermarkets to return ground beef packed with the filler to refrigerator cases"

Hmmmm....then why do I suspect that train already left the station?

Anyway, to try to confer some bona fides on this farce, USDA chief Tom Vilsack is dispatching his No.2, Under secretary Elizabeth Hagen, today, to a facility that produces this crap and located in South Sioux City, NE (one hopes Hagen will be sure to bring enough barf bags since she seems to be the sacrificial lamb). According to Gov. Branstad (ibid.):

"We are going to consume it! We'll do everything we can to set the record straight!"

Well, good luck on that, gubernator! Damn, it's always amazing to see the reactions when powerful government-aligned corporate interests lose the PR war. Hell, I wouldn't be all amazed that if it was toxic sludge instead of pink slime and billions in profits were on the line from padding beef, these fuckers would eat sludge, or make their points. Then maybe use the tried and true method of gagging themselves later like bulemics do.

The piece notes that "the decision (of supermarkets to pull the additive filler) caught state and federal officials off guard"

Hence they're only now revving up their PR armaments. Evidently, one supermarket outlet has already caved, even before today's planned circus. That's the chain Hy-vee, Inc. which these impressarios of PR impressed to "back off its original plan"

Vilsack himself bloviated about the "difficulty of getting ahead of opposition to a product even if deemed safe by the government" - but that's not much use. We know a lot of products, including GM-designed foods (such as tomatoes with mouse genes) have been deemed safe by the U.S. Food Corporatocracy yet the same foods aren't allowed in most European nations! Why? Because the latter actually care a bit about their citizens and don't see them merely as fodder for the corporate profiteers. This includes toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A- which Canada and most European nations have outlawed but the U.S. gov't continues to drag its ass on. Why?

Because of MONEY! Profits! That's all these fuckers care about! So they will even (like the CDC) approve the toxic sludge associated with Hydro-flourosilic acid (for use in fluouridating water systems) if it means profits to those companies for whom this crap's a spinoff that'd otherwise be wasted. They will even subsidize corn farmers then allow the spinoff crap called high fructose corn syrup to be pumped into any and all foods - thereby massively inducing sugar content and triggering lots of diabetes! The aim is corporate profits, not care for consumers.

Then to top it all off, we are supposed to be on our lonesomes, most of us, in terms of health care when we do get sick from ingesting this shit! So pardon me if most of us don't bite.

Let us hope in the meantime that this PR-pressure pitch fails and most supermarkets stick to their guns.

Finally, is there a possible compromise in which our free marketers could possibly be happy?

Sure! Just LABEL all the ground beef, that's been fillered "Contains PINK SLIME" - then feel free to sell it at will and let people -consumers choose based on that.

Oh, they won't do they wouldn't if GM foods were labelled? Then tough shit, you lose! Go back to the PR drawing boards!

DO We Need A Missile Defense System in E. Europe? NO!

As the pundit gasbags on the Right continue to bloviate about Obama's "missile gaffe" (arising from an open mic in a recent meeting with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, all sorts of conspiracy theories are being churned out. One (from Romney) implies our prez made some secret, slimey deal with the "Reds" that compromises national security. At least a few sane voices, mostly drowned out, observe (correctly) that there's nothing sinister at all, and Obama was simply delivering a stark political assessment. That is, given the nature of Reep-fomented gridlock in Washington, it's highly unlikely any new policies, or legislation or treaties will be passed before the elections in November.

But all of this bloviation and punditry overlooks the larger point: that the need for any "missile defense shield" in eastern Europe (mainly based in Romania and Poland) is as empty and bankrupt of value as the Reagan "Star Wars" bullshit of 25 years ago, and as stupid as Bush Junior's idiotic "national missile defense" system from ten years ago. (Of which this new system is really a makeover holdover- displaced to Europe). The fact is that none of these missile systems-shields really works, as particle physicist Wolfgang Panofsky first noted in his articulate chapter 'MAD vs. Nuts' in Particles and Policy (American Institute of Physics, 1994).

No such system has yet been devised (other than the limited "Patriot" batteries used in the 1990-91 Gulf War) that consistently can take down incoming missiles. (The Patriots worked about 50% of the time 'cause they were mainly going up against the crappy Iraqi SCUD missiles). In nearly every instance, as Panofsky points out, you are merely injecting a de-stabilizing force into a situation, and also one which - technologically - is always easily defeatable by appropriate counter-measures (which invariably are cheaper to employ that the measures that the anti-missile requires to nullify them!)

Even Stefan Niesiolowski, chairman of the defense committee in the Polish Lower House of Parliament has noted such a missile system is not needed in Poland. As he points out ('Missile Gaffe Leaves Europen Unfazed', WSJ, today, p. A8):

"There's no military threat and we haven't had a situation as secure as this in 300 years. The level of U.S. military engagement in Poland therefore is not of top importance."

WOW! No military threat? Then WHY do it?

The answer is simple: the military -industrial complex ensconced in the U.S. wants to invent ever more specious reasons to piss away ever more billions of our taxpayer dollars. And just like "Star Wars' and Bush's stupid system before it (where 11 of 12 intercept attempts failed and the only one that worked relied on a radiofrequency beam attached to the target missile), this Missile shield redux won't work either. Thus, it boils down entirely to monetary waste (for taxpayers) coupled with astounding extra profits for defense contractors and pork for congressional leeches. These are the sole purposes of this so-called "missile shield", which in the end, likely wouldn't shield the Poles or Romanians or anyone else from a raft of giant boulders fired by ancient Roman catapults.

Apart from that, the notion of Iranian missiles being lobbed into eastern Europe is totally ignorant. This is something that some moron brain stormer in the Pentagon would have dreamed up hoping the typical American would bite. First, Iran - even assuming it does possess enough quality IRBMs or ICBMs (say of a level comparable to the U.S. Titan I shown) wouldn't waste them on Eastern Europe! Second, they'd know in a heartbeat any such daft attack would be met with devastating counterforce, and maybe even tactical nukes. In a word, they'd be risking their own extermination.

Third, given these manifestly obvious reasons (and the fact that for such anti-missile systems to really work they need to nail the targets in the boost phase as Panofksy observes) the only conclusion left is that they're not really directed against "Iranian missiles" at all but against putative Russian missiles. THIS is why the Russians are eager to get this farce shut down, because they view such a shield as a threat to them. They interpret the shield as an effort by NATO-U.S. forces to neutralize any possible Russian attack, say if hostilities did erupt over Iran. (See the movie 'Threads' in a previous blog, i.e

Add to that the historical fact - which clearly escapes the U.S. military-industrial complex- that the Russians have been highly paranoid of any military activity around their borders since the time of Peter the Great, and you have a made for demolition derby on the international scene. One that any knowledgeable Russian observer will assert that will not be tolerated by the Russians no matter how many "security" or "shield participation" PR bones get tossed their way.
This is why Ellen Tauscher, Obama's envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense is dreaming when she claims (ibid.) that "the U.S. is seeking to get Russia inside the missile defense tent now".

This will not happen, not now or ever, because quite bluntly the Russkies do not see missile "defense" as a tent but as a THREAT! And there is no amount of diplomacy or whatever..that will convince them otherwise.

The best thing for the Obamanites therefore, is to drop this idea entirely, and tell the Pentagon and MIC to stuff it where the Sun doesn't shine. Don't even remotely consider using this as some form of political policy leverage vs. the always ready for war and increased defense -spending Repugs. They will ALWAYS want more military spending for any and everything - from missile shields, to more Mideast bases, to combat air brigades in Colo., to another 2,800 F-35s - in order to bleed down domestic tax revenues to enhance and justify their demand for deficit hawkism and austerity!

The worst part isn't the alleged "missile defense" unworkability, but that others (e.g. Russians) may bite and think it is feasible and a very REAL threat. This is the point made by Wolfgang Panofsky in his monograph, Particles and Policy, Chapter 'Mad vs. Nuts') wherein he observes that any U.S. missile defense system - practical or otherwise- will spur numerous counter measures and fully offensive nuclear systems. THIS is the stark danger we face!

The ultimate effect being to massively destablize the nuclear balance. Perhaps this is why the 'nuclear clock' (which gives a metaphor to the proximity of nuclear holocaust) has moved a full minute forward since the Bushites pushed the original missile shield. (See The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,Vol. 59, No. 6, 'Neocons: The Men Behind the Curtain', p. 62)

This is even more reason for Obama not to fall into the same snare.

Bottom line: we don't need a phoney-baloney, pork-program 'missile shield' that will only enrich the defense contractors, destabilize geo-politics and alienate long term allies. What we need is what I've said many times before: building security from the ground up, by people to people transactions, and engaging serious talks on dismantling remnants of Cold war nuclear warheads (especially in the former Soviet states) and rational settlements as opposed to political pandering.

Anything else is really just a deflection and distraction from the more important tasks and objectives, which lays a destabilizing groundwork we don't need, period. It is time to tell the military welfare queens (including the congress critters who stand to reap the pork benefits) behind this Rube Goldberg scheme to piss off.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Are ALL College Professors "Dithering Idiots"? Of Course Not!

Yours truly, giving an advanced astrophysics seminar to college students, ca. 1978.

Fortunately, I escaped the college teaching scene before emerged to become the scourge of university professors everywhere. What these kids at all the listed universities get away with, in scorching many of their profs, is beyond the pale. The lingo, the level of disrespect....well, it gives one a whopper of a headache just wading through a minuscule fraction of the snark at a single university. And then one has those rated the highest, the "hotties". Give me a freakin' break! (Newsflash to college kids: the "hottie" is not a looker or the insecure goofball that practically tells you what to study for your mid-term, but the one who ruthlessly makes you work your asses off to EARN every grade you receive -whether on a lab report, term paper, project or final exam!)

Are college professors THAT bad, as a lot of these ratings lead one to think? Is it really necessary to have some site devoted to anonymously rating them, say beyond the usual standard student evaluation forms handed out after each term, and which I believe have mightily contributed to grade inflation?

Now, in today's Denver Post, it is nice to see Professor Dianne Basset, in a Guest Commentary, take the banner for all viciously maligned profs, assuring one and all that most are dedicated, and are emphatically not dithering idiots.

As she notes:

"As college professors, we take the responsibility of educating our workforce very seriously. Our primary focus is to provide quality instruction, advisement, and wise counsel. We work a minimum of 50 to 60 hours per week preparing rigorous courses and providing gratis services to our communities.

We conduct timely research and write those pesky articles and books from which we will make no money, only the satisfaction that we are extending the knowledge base of our respective fields. We purchase books and materials for some students out of our own pockets."

Wow! Brings back my own college teaching years when I did the same. And believe me, she's quite correct about making no money from books or articles. So why do we do it? ON the off chance that a bottle cast on some far shore after months or years of traverse....someone will find our own "jewels" of imparted knowledge and profit from them.

But what thanks have many of us received? Well, either crappy student evals because we didn't deliver the inflated marks that Junior or Missy desired, or......getting our names pilloried by anonymous little guttersnipes on rate my profs. Talk about thankless tasks.

Bassett's point about "earning far less than in the private sector" is also spot on, something I discovered on moving from college teaching to working for a radiotherapy software corporation.

But the last part is what I loved best, which was Basset's beautiful encapsulation of what WE expect from students:

"Our expectations are simple: Please come ready to learn. Please come to college knowing how to use commas, how to write complete sentences, and how to read a chapter in a book. Please complete homework assignments on time. Please do not plagiarize from the Internet. Please do not threaten to have your parents sue us if you receive a B in a class. Please ask questions if you are confused, and make an appointment to meet with us when you need extra help. Please question us, use us, and let us help you become the young men and women of integrity you are meant to be."

I could not have put it any more clearly!

The Trayvon Martin Case and the Dogs of American-Style War

Julian Assange defends Wikileaks release of documents two years ago, mainly to do with the conduct of the occupation of Afghanistan. It is doubtful that such releases can have any substantive effect on war policy or conduct until the documents NSC 10/2 and NSC-68 (which green light never ending wars and meddling) are each mothballed!

"And Caesar's spirit, raging for revenge, with Ate by his side come hot from hell, shall in these confines with a monarch's voice, Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war, that this foul deed shall smell above the earth. " (Julius Caesar Act 3, scene 1, 270–275

"The hallmark of a great civilization is its ability to wage peace, not war."

-Gene Roddenberry

Incredibly, throughout the media blitz on the Trayvon Martin killiing, none of the pundits commenting have brought up the obvious parallels to the mode of American, pre-emptive warfare since 2003. To summarize briefly: the very least we know (before Sanford police PR began insinuating itself) is that "Neighborhood Watch" guy George Zimmerman encountered Trayvon Martin - a young black kid in a hoodie, and suddenly felt his life threatened. We don't know how many more details there are, but based on 911 calls this is the least we know. The claims that Trayvon "attacked" Zimmerman are still under investigation and as yet no hard proof has emerged to sustain them.

The point is, prior to Zimmerman's overt action of firing his weapon, the State of Florida already had in place a reckless law known as "Stand your ground" - which basically conferred the right of ultimate self protection if one felt or sensed that his life was threatened. On this basis, one can argue that Zimmerman acted "pre-emptively" to neutralize a vague threat that had become entrenched in his sense perceptions - triggering the fear circuits in his amygdala.

Now, think of laws like this all over the nation (we also have one in Colo. called "Make my Day" after the famous catch phrase in the first 'Dirty Harry' flick - where you can shoot and kill anyone entering or already inside your home if you believe he poses a threat to your life) and the inevitable results. We'd had mass bedlam and anarchy! The rule of law as it should be would be incessantly trumped by the perception of a "threat" requiring lethal force. Or "pre-emptive lethal force" if you will.

But as odious as such laws are in terms of the lethal license they give to the feeling threatened, let us admit and concede that they have precedents on the national level! I am talking of course of the "Bush doctrine" and its prescription to justify any form of "pre-emptive war" if the U.S. feels itself threatened. (Note: the Pentagon's PR mongers like to use the term "preventive war" but I am not buying into that bollocks. This again is a form of collaterial language designed to gut critical thought, reason. Please see the book: Collateral Language: A Users’ Guide to America’s New War (2002) )

Referring back to the preceding parenthetical, the alteration of the language (including use of the term "terrorist" and "war on terror") was crucial in order for the Bushies to launch their assorted 'dog and pony' shows (including with Colin Polwell at the UN) to try to show Saddam was getting ready to have a nuke and then who knew? Maybe mushroom clouds! The impetus was then to try to drive American public opinion into embracing an absurd, unjustified invasion and occupation which ultimately transmuted into an 8 ½ year long "war" (which was obviously still an occupation).

In other words, like George Zimmerman confronted with the "threatening" (in Zimmerman's mind) hoodie-clad, tall black kid, the Bushies were confronted with a lone nation (Iraq) they perceived (in their minds) as a "terrorist" (or part of the "Axis of Evil") which had all kinds of weapons and therefore this demanded a first strike. In other words, pre-emptive action, hence striking an initial lethal blow at a country before it could strike- thereby sending its economy into carnage and slaughtering over 600,000 Iraqis according to World Health Organization estimates. (Which are, of course, lowballed by the Pentagon to no more than 100,000).

Needless to say, based on what transpired from the fall of 2002 to March 15, 2003 (public support for the war went from barely 34% in December, 2002, to more than 67% in February) it is incumbent on all Americans now to be aware that when they passively comply with collateral language pushed on them like crack (as it was by the corporate media in the runup to the Iraq invasion) they become no better than useful idiots for the military-industrial complex and perpetual war state.

If Americans instead persist in a state of false consciousness and allow their brains to be PR-dumbed down, then they assist in mutating language and thought toward an ideological agenda, rather than shedding light on the issues themselves.

Nevertheless, the PR residue from 2002-03 which fueled that Iraq invasion bubble of unreality via jingoistic illusions (and inadequate security delusions) continues today with assorted similar pressures to strike Iran - despite the fact there's absolutely no hard evidence they have any nukes, see e.g.

Thus, unlike with the drumbeating in 2002-03, Americans must now do all in their power to resist the flood of media sound bites, from every yammering pundit, assuming ab initio an attack or war on Iran is morally justified, correct and "preventive" (instead of pre-emptive). Let's also reiterate once more, such pre-emptive attacks, as in the case of the U.S. invasion and attack on Iraq, and Nazi Germany's pre-emptive attacks on the Sudentenland in 1938, and Poland in 1939 (based on Poles being a "terrorist threat" to Aryan females) can't be countenanced under international law. These are guided by the Nuremberg Laws which were written after the conquest of the fascists in World War Two. Most particularly we have:

PRINCIPLE VI The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law: (a) Crimes against peace: (i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

Note especially (i) which most directly embodies the entire pre-emptive war concept. It means exactly what it states, so that any nation found guilty of "planning, preparation, initiation or war of aggression" is thereby violating that principle.

The fact that so few Americans are aware of the above shows how ripe we are as a people to become even more PR-deformed.

Sadly, in the old days, before the disastrous implementation of National Security Council (NSC) Directive ‘NSC 10/2’ on June 18, 1948, this nation valued honor and only initiated wars unless first attacked. Thus, Pearl Harbor paved the way for our just entry into World War Two. Because honor underscored initiation of war, it thereby became a matter of honor to also have everyone help PAY for such using higher taxes and-or rationing of foodstuffs, gas etc. Because at that time we were on the side of moral right, we had the nation and the world with us.

Not so since that NSC 10/2 was enabled! The scope of activities enumerated under the directive included: “propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action – including sabotage; subversion against hostile states including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerillas and refugee liberation groups and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”

Ratcheting up the effect, and consolidating the impetus to Empire building was the document NSC-68, prepared by Paul Nitze of the National Security Council – completed by 1950. The document essentially contained the blueprint for unending strife and undeclared wars, all of which would be invoked on the basis of a zero tolerance threshold for foreigners’ misbehavior. The putative basis? To enable U.S. agitation, overthrow (or assassination) of democratically-elected leaders, and large and small occupations (ranging from the few thousand troops in the Dominican Republic in 1965, to more than 200,000 in Iraq by 2006.)

Thus, we lost our way as we invaded nations (e.g. Dominican Republic, Iraq, etc.) with no reason and engaged also in the overthrow of democratically-elected governments (e.g. Iran's Mossadegh in 1953, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, assassinating Salvador Allende in 1972.) Thereby we lost honor, so that "war on the cheap" or more accurately "wars of choice" became the norm, to try to justify whatever was in the NSC 10/2 directive.

The motivating force of the Nitze document was clear in this regard:

“a defeat of free institutions anywhere is a defeat everywhere

In other words, any place for which the U.S. even remotely construes a “defeat of free institutions” gives it license to intervene at will. This critical aspect is described thusly by Morris Berman (Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire, W.W. Norton, page 118, 2006)
"Nitze emphasized the importance of perception, arguing that how we were seen was as crucial as how militarily secure we actually were. This rapidly expanded the number of interests deemed relevant to national security

In other words, it provided the pre-emptive formula for unending war even before the Bush doctrine arrived. Gore Vidal pinpoints the emergence of the American Empire when he notes (Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, Thunders Mouth, p. 124, 2002)

"Since 1950 the United States has fought perhaps a hundred overt and covert wars. None was declared by the nominal representatives of the American people in Congress…they had meekly turned over to the executive their principal great power to wage war. That was the end of that Constitution"

One would have hoped that MSNBC pundit Rachel Maddow in her new book, 'DRIFT' would have covered more of this backstory, but evidently not. Her focus was more on how "cheaply" war has been waged over the past 4-5 decades, effectively insulating the civilian U.S. populace from any real consequences. But she did not dig into the underlying deep causes, the offensive and dishonorable documents: NSC 10/2 and NSC -68. Well, maybe in a follow-up.

In the meantime, as we puzzle over George Zimmerman's pre-emptive over-reaction to the mere appearance of a young hoodie-clad black man in his "territory" perhaps we might also contemplate the pre-emptive over-reactions of our own nation to any and all perceived threats in the larger world. some juncture... one is connected with the other.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

At Least We Now Know Why This Guy Spins Spurious Physics!

William Happer, a "professor of physics at Princeton" is in the op-ed pages of one of his favorite journals again - The Wall Street Journal ('Global Warming Models Are Wrong Again', today, p. A13). The problem is that his jabber hasn't made it into a recognized, peer -reviewed journal as he once again dredges up red herrings, and nonsense about climate change and whether in fact global warming models are "real".

A key giveaway, however, is that he's attached to the conservative George C. Marshall Institute, e.g.

from which we discern his specialty area is not in climate science but "a specialist in modern optics, optical and radiofrequency spectroscopy of atoms and molecules, and spin-polarized atoms and nuclei. " Interesting, but not a climate scientist like Michael Mann.

Readers ought to note that the Marshall site has also provided an outlet for other spurious climate science articles-papers, most notably a joint 2003 effort by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas. Baliunas and Soon's misuse of statistics may be found at:

I tracked Baliunas' illustrious history since 1993 on Google, and evidently she's written for a lot of other conservative-right wing rags masquerading as peer-reviewed scientific papers, including Capitalism Magazine and National Review. A Greenpeace document on her, available on the web, also ties her to the Global Warming Coalition, a front group of "scientists" for the fossil fuel industry. (Note Happer's "Energy research" connections as well!)

As for Soon and Baliunas, their methodology was terrible, and any proper referee versed at all in statistics would've tossed most of their analyses out in a heartbeat. Especially their choice of one of using 50-year data periods, increments when the IPCC scientists had already disclosed anthropogenic warming appears at 30 -year levels. In effect, Baliunas and Soon employed what we call a 'selective effects filter' to cull the data they preferred not to have to deal with.

In many ways, Happer is just as bad if not worse, for example claiming global temperatures have changed almost not at all in the past ten years. He refers to "monthly values of the global temperature anomaly of the lower atmosphere" coupled with some Univ. of Alabama data that supposedly shows the temperature for the lower atmosphere in February was at -0.12C or "slightly less than the average since the satellite record of temperature began."

What's wrong with this portrayal? Just about everything. First, neither Happer nor his illustrious sources of data takes into account that global dimming effects are still ongoing and alter ambient Rayleigh scattering in concert with standard gray atmosphere models for radiative transport.

Aside: Dimming arising from burning coal, oil and wood,whether in coal-fired power stations, in autos or cooking fires, produces not only invisible carbon dioxide (the principal greenhouse gas responsible forglobal warming) but also tiny airborne particles of soot, ash, sulphur compounds and other pollutants. This visible air pollution reflects sunlight back into space, preventing it reaching the surface. But the pollution also changes the optical properties of clouds, most often in the lower atmosphere. Because the particles seed the formation of water droplets, polluted clouds contain a larger number of droplets than unpolluted clouds. Recent research shows that this makes them more reflective than they would otherwise be, again reflecting the Sun's rays back into space, via a spurious albedo effect.

Had Happer taken into account the nascent effects of particulates as well as aerosols in the lower atmophere he'd not be so flat out amazed at a "global temperature anomaly" peculiar to the lower atmosphere. One mechanism to be reckoned in, applicable to these particulates in plane-parallel (stratified) atmospheres, is Rayleigh scattering in concert with standard gray atmosphere radiative transport. An equation of transfer that applies is: -dI/dt (1/k rho) = I – J

Where k is a mass scattering coefficient, rho is the molecular density (e.g. in cloud cover) and J is the vector source function for a specific intensity I. If the correct Stokes parameters (I, Q, U, V) which describe degree of polarization are included, and the right incidence angle of radiation occurs, we can expect the propagation or radiant energy from the S. hemisphere to the north very effectively. can't forget or omit diffusive reflection and re-transmission of radiation, say arising from particulates . Chandrasekhar in Radiative Transfer, (Dover Publications) shows that for angles of incidence in the range : 0.5 < i < 0.8 radian, diffusive reflection allows the radiation reflected normal to the incidence direction to actually have higher intensity than the original. (E.g. for optical depths 1.0 < < 2.0).

In effect, if conditions in the lower atmosphere incorporate such optical depths (and angles of incidence for scattering, diffusive reflection), on account of increased presence of particulates, aerosols, we will expect to find an "anomaly" say in the temperature. The most alarming aspect of global dimming in this regard - as made public by global dimming researchers (e.g. Dr Peter Cox) is that it has obviously deceived many into underestimating the true power of the greenhouse effect, including the role of CO2. In effect, as disclosed by Happer's babble, the extra energy being trapped in the Earth's atmosphere by the extra carbon dioxide (CO2) has been concealed because he's being misdirected by what is really ongoing spurious diffusive reflection and scattering from the particulates responsible for dimming!

Hence, his finding of "lack of any statistically significant warming over a decade" is fully expected if one hasn't properly reckoned the presence of dimming particulates, their scattering, re-reflection (and hence false albedo effects) into global warming models! Must we spell everything out for these bozos?

Happer and his pals (including all the copycat denier blogs and media echoing his WSJ article like so many duplicate gasbags)also need to avail themselves of the Eos Transactions paper ('Can Earth’s Albedo and Surface Temperature Increase Together’ in Vol. 87, No. 4, Jan. 24, 2006, p. 37 ) from more than five years ago, blaring a five alarm warning about false albedo readings in the lower atmosphere and how it would mislead if researchers were sloppy or careless. The authors pointedly noted evidence that Earth’s albedo increased from 2000 to 2004 but that this had NOT led to a reversal in global warming. They also remarked on apparent temperature anomalies and divergence between differing altitudes but pointed to the differences between clouds at those altitudes. The authors cited (to then) the most up to date cloud data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP). The data – from a range of meteorological satellites covering the entire Earth- disclosed the most likely reason for the anomaly was primarily in the redistribution of the clouds. As the authors observed:

"whereas low clouds have decreased during the most recent years, high clouds have increased to a larger extent leading to both an increase in cloud amount AND an increased trapping of infrared radiation.”

In other words, temperature "anomaly" solved, in conjunction with factoring in the global dimming contributions.

Incredibly, this nitwit also repeats the wacko canard that CO2 is not a pollutant! According to Hapless (ibid.):

"CO2 is not a pollutant. Life on Earth flourished for hundreds of millions of years at much higher CO2 levels than we see today."

But not factoring in that the primary contributors were over-active vulcanism, as opposed to 800 million CO2 -spewing mechanical vehicles which in just one year churn out more gigatons of CO2 (35- 40) than the ancient volcanoes did in 1,000 years. Currently, the anthropogenic CO2 emission rate is 135 times greater than the 0.26 gigatons per year emission rate for volcanoes. Even at the height of volcanic activity for one year in the Jurassic, amounting to maybe 2 gigatons of CO2, that is 17.5 times less than the world's autos are pouring out now. But what do you expect from a fossil-fuel committed "energy researcher"?

Nor is one statement made by Happer on the key central point: ALL Greenhouse gases' (including CO2 and methane) ability to absorb heat in the form of solar infrared radiation is directly contingent on the molecular vibrations undergone by the particular gas molecule which allows it to absorb and re-emit incident radiation. It is THIS property which confers the capacity to warm our atmosphere if present beyond a certain limiting concentration. And it is the aforementioned CO2 spewing vehicles that create the effect, hence making THEIR effluent a definite pollutant!

Meanwhile, Happer's obscuring of the role of global warming in the recent meteorological anomalies we've seen (such as the very warm winter, and early Spring) are dealt with effectively at real climate:

Lastly, Happer has the chutzpah to quote the great physicist Richard Feynman on how "new laws" of science are uncovered, starting with a guess and then testing the consequences of our guesses against reality to make new predictions which must then be confirmed. But all of this standard global warming theory has already done, including prediction of a more rapid melting of ice caps and glaciers, which we're actually seing first hand, e.g.

The preceding ought to get even the most blinkered global warming denier's attention! In addition, standard anthropogenic warming theory has also predicted ex post facto (see Gale Christianson's 'Greenhouse') that there has never been an ice age when the CO2 concentration exceeded 200 parts per million- and ice core analyses have validated this. In addition, predictions have been validated that for every 2 ppm increase in CO2 there is a corresponding 2 W/m^2 increase in solar insolation. Lastly, the most frightening forecast of all is that the runaway greenhouse effect will be initiated when CO2 concentrations likely exceed 500 ppm.

Do we wait for that threshold to occur, when it will be too late to do anything? we use reason, our intellects and good science to adopt the precautionary principle and begin to take action now for our own welfare and that of future generations? We can either extol paid thinktank hacks like Happer, or we can pay attention to real climate scientists for whom this issue transcends petty politics and op-eds published in reactionary capitalist op-ed pages!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Why It's Even More Critical to Turn The Tax Code Around

Top: The richest 1% will enjoy even more lavish 'chocolate scrubs' and rose wine wraps at special luxury enclaves as the rest of us (bottom) pack bread lines....if the GOP candidate gets in and enacts even more regressive tax cuts!

Even as I showed in a previous blog the extent to which Paul Ryan's new, regressive taxation budget will send this nation permanently into the dumpster, newly released statistics disclose the extent to which massive inequality has become entrenched since Bush Jr's original tax cuts implemented in 2001. This new data, culled from American tax returns by the French economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, shows that in 2010 an astonishing 93 percent of the additional income created in the country went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers.

What about the 99%? They were left sucking salt and pounding sand, financially, as the wealthy parasites bled off them. To be specific, the bottom 99 percent received a microscopic $80 increase in pay (0.001%) per person in 2010, after adjusting for inflation! This is compared to an 11.6 percent increase in income, for the top 1 percent, whose average income is $1,019,089.

As grossly reprehensible as this is, and any person ought to be rightfully outraged even if you ARE a member of these elite groups, 37 percent of all the additional earnings for the same year went to just the top 0.01 percent! These comprised a teaspoon-size collection of about 15,000 households with average incomes of $23.8 million. Is there something seriously wrong with this picture or what? Is there something seriously defective in our tax code or what?

If the preceding stats aren't enough to make the 99 percent stark raving mad I don't know what will. If it isn't enough to cause them to think five or ten times before voting for a Mitt Romney (who plans to double down on these iniquitous tax policies) I don't know what will. In any case, given these new statistics disclosing the horrific extent to which regressive taxes have shattered this nation, I can't imagine any true ninety-niney percenter voting for a Republican presidential candidate this year, no matter what the beefs with Obama.

The French investigation uncovered that nearly all the inequitable numbers derived from the insane financial policies of the Bush II years, particularly the Glenn Hubbard-designed Bush tax cuts. Among other things, they gave the wealthiest a mere 15 percent tax on capital gains and dividends, much lower than many middle income Americans pay in their regular earnings' taxes. In addition, the 2001 Bush-Hubbard cuts rewarded each of the top 1-percenters with the equivalent of a new Lexus each year, and rewarded each of the top 0.01 percenters with the equivalent of 1 new yacht.

No wonder the rest of us are drowning in debt, can't catch up and are at most treading water in a corrupt economy that rewards the pirates, piranhas and parasites even more. The only thing that caused the tax regressives and austerity mongers to back off a bit was the Occupy Wall Street movement which drew needed attention to the inequality. Clearly, we need the OWS movement to be revived again to drive back any more extensions of the Bush tax cuts. And, if that means the middle class must get no cuts to ensure the richest don't fucking be it.

The saddest thing, is that if the Repukes get into office, they promise to ratchet up the inequality even more, by allowing even lower taxes for the wealthiest. They say, like Romney and Ryan, "Oh but we shall cut your total tax rate to only 10%!" But what they don't say is that unlike the wealthiest, those middle earners must still pay the FICA (payroll taxes) of 6.2% and often large local, state taxes as well, so that they end up....again....much worse off tax dollar for tax dollar than the richest (who often use trusts to protect their assets, wealth).

Let's hope the 99 percent Americans wake up before it's too late, and push for the changes we need in our tax system before it's totally co-opted by the wealthiest - who will then also demand severe cuts to the few social protections, benefits remaining- including Medicare and Social Security...because there wasn't enough tax revenue to pay for them!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Ryan Budget: A Blueprint to Destroy This Country

Ryan and his latest budget incarnation, recently proposed. His plan will surely destroy what's left of this country!

As ever more security nets become more entrenched and widespread in our land, to attempt to expose them thar t'errists (including a new NSA 'Cloud' center costing $2b to be located at Bluffdale, UT with one million square feet devoted to parsing all your blogs, googling, emails, phone calls etc. - see 'The Black Box' by James Bamford, in WIRED, April, 2012, p. 78) there are more sinister deficit-austerity terrorists afoot on whom no spotlight is trained but whose strategies - if ever implemented- will render this nation as destroyed as any robed lunatics might attempt to do.

I am referring, of course, to congressman Paul Ryan, who evidently has now revived his insane budget and put it on steroids. According to a Wall Street Journal article ('Ryan Plan Revives Deficit Duel', March 21, p. A5):

"Ryan said his plan would put the U.S. on a sound economic path by spending $5.3 trillion less than Mr. Obama recommends over ten years, resulting in budget deficits that would be $3.3 trillion lower."

But this is absolute, patently insane bollocks and bullshit because his plan, like the previous incarnation, does NOTHING to increase revenues, and everything to increase future debt on generations yet unborn. In effect, he not only keeps the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest, but doubles down by lowering their top marginal tax rates to 25% from the current 33.5% (and 39.5% from the Clinton years when the last steady run of 20 million jobs were created.) Thus, if we now know that the effect of the Bush tax cuts over ten years were a solid $2.7 trillion lost in revenues, one can project at least $5 trillion lost by Ryan extending an even more vicious and imbalanced variant.

Thus, in order to come up with being $5.3 trillion in the black, as opposed to $5 trillion in the red, he'd have to slice every and anything - from Medicaid, to Medicare, to Social Security, and all "formula- based mandatory programs" - from agriculture to transportation to allowing even more infrastructure such as bridges, roads, water mains and sewer lines to come a cropper.

Are Americans really prepared to live in a Third World Banana Republic? Because this is what happens if this moron's budget ever gets passed. (Not that it will this year, but the main Gooper candidate Romney appears quite enthralled with it).

The most disgustingly anti-American aspect is how this vile budget spits on the vulnerable and poor, for example, leaving Medicare as basically only a shell of itself with mainly the sick and the poor in the government operated program, while private insurers rush to cover the wealthiest in semi-Cadillac . private plans. Is this what our nation is based on - growing even more inequality?

People on Medicaid, such as families with severely disabled kids, or with autism and MS would essentially be kicked to the curb and be at the mercy of charities. Ryan, like Romney, wants to gut this program and cap limited grants to the states.

Ryan's other budget plan aspects, according to the article, include:

- Eliminating all deductions for home mortgages as well as for dependent children

- Eliminating all deductions made for any charitable contributions, so people that need to turn to charities after he kills Medicaid will now see their hands doubly tied.

- No further deductions for state and local taxes, or property taxes

- Terminating all employer -based health care plans so workers will have to find a high deductible plan on their own..

Well, good luck with that, pallies!

Meanwhile, the richest fuckers will all be laughing their asses off as they cart even more shit loads of money to their respective banks or into their rentier accounts. Oh, they might have pity on some of us drones and hire us as their servants or yard slaves, who knows? They might even, in that employment scenario, help pay for a bit of health care after people collapse from laundering their clothes for 12 hours a day, or weeding the dandelions from their 15 acre yards.

Yes, there are debt-austerity terrorists, and Ryan is one. People determined to sink us into such a morass of debt and despair that the only "solution" will be to cut the entire basis of our civilization from out under our feet. And btw, I'm ashamed to admit this turd even comes from the same state, Wisconsin, that I do.

If you dispute it, check out the graphs attached comparing what Ryan's budget will realistically do, in terms of its total costs the next two years, and Obama's current policy trajectory including the implementation of his Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (Hint to Dems: Get out the old TV ads with a Paul Ryan actor lookalike pushing multiple grannies off steep cliffs (you can even use cgi effects to insert hundreds of grannies being pushed off!))

Maybe the NSA ought to spend more of its time training its electronic snooper eyes and ears on these terrorist Repukes as opposed to the amorous phone calls between ordinary average Americans!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Guy From Barbados Who Has NO Clue on Reality!

Probably 50% of working Barbadians are entrepeneurs with their own small businesses, such as this corner rum shop owner. In many cases, their property ownership arrived via inheritance not purchase!

This morning I read an article appearing in The Barbados Advocate News, e.g.

with open-mouthed disbelief. The article ‘Population the Problem- Not Land’ (March 24) quotes Managing Director of Terra Caribbean, Andrew Mallalieu as asserting that in order for more property to be owned on the island, its population needs to be increased! Is he serious? He can’t possibly be!

According to the 2010 CIA World Factbook, Barbados has amongst the highest population densities on the planet with over 654 per square kilometer (1,692 per sq. mile)! The issue of "unused land" therefore cannot have anything to do with "too few people" inhabiting the island nation, but rather the distribution of wealth which allows the few (often wealthy foreigners) to own large mansions- say in St. Thomas- but the masses to have to crowd 8-10 in one chattel house in the Bayland.

That Mallalieu doesn’t grasp this discloses he doesn’t comprehend the roots of the island’s land-ownership issues or, I would argue, the distribution of incomes! Obviously then, the reason more plots of land aren't occupied, or subject to ownership (including home ownership) is primarily because the incomes of would-be owners is too low, and they can't obtain a mortgage or credit. This is the same reason that's hamstrung many would-be owners in the U.S.

The article then notes:

"Mentioning China, a country which has seen great economic growth credited mostly to the size of its population, as an example, the Terra Managing Director suggested that Barbados is in fact capable of sustaining more people. "

But this is arrant bollocks! Comparing Barbados to China is ludicrous, because first China’s land area is thousands of times larger (21, 640 times, actually), and moreover the population density is very much LOWER (according to the same CIA Factbook it is 142 per sq. kilometer). In addition, China has the innate natural resources to support affordable building of domeciles for most of its people - and also a large industrial manufacturing base for them to earn enough- Barbados must import nearly all its materials (and most food stuffs) and now relies mainly on offshore banking & tourism for income.

Thus, if even food imports were cut off, Barbados with even more population would surely suffer starvation on scale even worse than Haiti. With so many people, even as many as it has currently, it would not be able to feed itself!

While true, a number of nations have attempted to grow economic prosperity via population (e.g. Nigeria) an analogous increase has not existed for China over the last 3-4 decades since it's implemented a firm 1 –child per family policy. This also explains why it's population density is so low, thereby imploding Mallalieu's arguments for Bim to take China's path.

Indeed, the Chinese understood (as the late Clyde Gollop did when he launched the Barbados Family Planning Association in the 60s) that unless something was done to curtail excess population growth, China would remain an under-developed, overpopulated 3rd world backwater whose resources wouldn't match the numbers. China’s success, in other worlds, has come precisely from population control not license.

Mallalieu is correct that economic prosperity – or rather the lack of it – is at the root of property ownership imbalance in the island. But adding more people is not the solution to acquiring such prosperity, essentially overturning Clyde Gollop’s efforts! What is needed is to address the economic retrenchment ongoing since the 2007-08 recession which still affects many nations. Thus, it is capital that must be grown and distributed more equitably, which can only arrive via outside investment.

This external capital must be applied not just to warehousing in offshore accounts but to actual, active investment in jobs for the Barbadian people (well paying so they can afford to be property owners) and also investment in construction of affordable homes.

Why isn’t Barbados attracting outside investors to construct affordable condos, or homes on the available lots? Instead of expending so much energy on tourism, organize to make sales pitches to real estate investors in the States! Also, adjust laws to make construction beneficial to would be investors! At the top of this list, as pointed out recently by The Economist, is the fact so many Caribbean states lack laws to ensure completion of projects – i.e. if raw materials are short, labor input just ceases and laborers vanish to move to other projects. Thus, hotel builders (as in the Dominican Republic) have found multi-million dollar projects languishing uncompleted while being out tens of millions. Thus, they are disinclined to begin new projects.

Where is the island's pitch also to bring jobs to Barbados, to supply the adequate income needed to buy the homes? These are the questions Mallalieu and his group need to address.
In short, the problem is not too few people in Bim, but too little investment capital needed to support major capital works housing projects, and jobs.

If Barbados and Mallalieu’s group can attract that capital, they will not have to resort to a draconian population growth solution which ensures Bim’s prosperity dwindles over time because its numbers are permitted to outpace its limited resources.

The Semi-Pantheon of Repuke Nightmares(2): Mitt Romney

Romney screaming at an OWS activist that if he doesn't approve of Romney's policies for the super-rich he can move to North Korea.

We now conclude this brief series because basically, there are no other serious contenders for the Reep nomination. The purpose here is to make sure potential voters in November aren't buying a "pig in the poke". Thus, knowing where both Santorum (covered last month) and Romney stand, ensures you don't cast the wrong vote.

To be quite blunt, Mitt Romney represents the worst of both worlds - the extremist social and wanna make more war conservo, and also the monied elite faction which doesn't even know the cost of a loaf of bread or gallon of milk. No wonder, since he can afford to blow people off with assorted half-assed comments that highlight his rich and entitled life. (Including one remark that he "only earned $340,000 from speeches in one year" - which represents more than most Americans have in net worth). An entitled life and schema that he's determined to bring to the nation, and implement as "CEO".

First of all, if you loved how the country slid downhill in the latter years of BushCo, you're gonna love Romney - because he will make those final months of Bush Jr. in 2008 look like a walk in the park. As noted in a WSJ piece from a month ago ('Romney Taps Bush Hands to Shape Economic Policies') he plans to hire the architect of the original Bush Tax cuts - Glenn Hubbard- to redesign Tax Cuts Two - which will likely be even worse than the first set. As the WSJ piece notes:

"Mr. Hubbard, who helped craft the Bush tax cuts, also is the architect behind Mr. Romney's latest tax initiatives"

For good measure, let us recall again what those tax cuts accomplished (Financial Times, 9/15/2010):

"The 2000s- that is the period immediately following the Bush tax cuts – were the weakest decade in U.S. postwar history for real, non-residential capital investment. Not only were the 2000s by far the weakest period but the tax cuts did not even curtail the secular slowdown in the growth of business structures. Rather the slowdown accelerated to a full decline

If these things are re-ignited to the extent Romney wants them, with even lower marginal rates than under BushCo, we are likely headed for an economic disaster of epic proportions. Indeed, future generations will likely have to pay for them in terms of denied or sliced benefits, including to Medicare and Social Security - since an atmosphere of austerity on steroids will emerge.

GAO estimates run up to $820 billion in deficits the first year from Romney's re-implementation of these insane tax cuts, and probably more than $3 trillion in deficits by the end of his first 4 years if he gets in. If he also adopts the Ryan budget look for those numbers to triple.

By the end of a Romney first term, therefore, this country will be little better than a third world backwater with millions more out of work, the rich wealthier than ever, crumbling bridges and sewer mains everywhere and the homeless population probably approaching 20 -25 million or more. The Gini coefficient which measures economic inequality and now stands at 0.48 (with 1.00 a perfectly equitable society and 0 a perfectly unequal one) will likely fall to about 0.22 or close to Borneo's. The number of unemployed, because of Romney's planned policies, will plausibly increase to over 12 million after just two years.

And the worst thing? This guy in conjunction with a possible Repuke House, Senate will not permit one more month of unemployment benefits! You will probably have to croak first to be free of your debts, and then....if lucky....ol' Mitt might have some Mormons baptize you into his faith, who knows?

What else is on Mitt's agenda? The Economist (Jan. 14, 2012, p. 25) gives the full list:

His FIRST Five Executive Orders:

1) Dismantle Obama's Patient Affordable Care Act by exempting states from as many requirements as possible. Thus, Mitt plans to use an executive order to do an end around any Supreme Court decision that favors Obama. (Dictator, anyone?)

2) Fast track all Oil drilling permits, especially Keystone pipeline, thereby threatening a critical water aquifer in Nebraska. (But Mitt doesn't care how many thousands get cancer of the breast, liver or pancreas!)

3) Eliminate all Obama regulations that "unduly burden the economy".

So, look for a lot more salmonella and E. Coli. outbreaks in your foods, as well as more mercury pouring from coal-fired plants, and toxic poisons dumped by the mega-ton into water supplies, you save companies money! Look for more campylobacter and other goodies in your H2O too.

4) Eliminate ALL regulations that favor organized labor.

In other words, get set for times even more brutal than under Ronnie Raygun after he fired 12,000 air traffic controllers. No more labor benefits, no more collective bargaining, and a likely return of a new mutation of the old Pinkerton security police that helped break unions (and heads) in the 1930s, 40s. The only historical analog I can recall right now is Germany under the Reich laws, imposed under Adolf Hitler which actually abolished all trade unions.

5) List China as a currency manipulator.

Yeah, real brilliant! Go after the numero uno holder of U.S debt! The nation that could call in some $1.4 trillion in markers any time it wishes, and leave us sucking salt!

Now - Mitt's main bills that he will seek passed:

1) Reduce the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 25% (right now most corps. pay barely 12%)

2) Reinstate the executive power to fast track deals, thereby overriding congress.

3) Speed up leasing of all areas approved for energy exploration.

Just make sure, folks, you have your cancer insurance policies in place when the fracking, oil shale drilling commences.

4) Cut all non-security spending by 5%. (Recall he also wishes to DOUBLE military spending which now eats up 58 cents of each dollar.)

Collapsing bridges, schools, sewer and water lines, anyone?

Mitt's Further Ambitions as listed in the article:(ibid.)

1) Block grant Medicaid funds to the states and cap spending on the program.

Translation: Unless you have 5 kids and earn only $200/month you're mostly out of luck! Look for kids with MS, other disabilities to be literally tossed onto the streets and at the mercy of the goodwill of strangers. This will be "Mitt's world" as it dawns in January of 2013 if the American people are stupid enough to allow it.

2) Raising Social Security eligiblity age to 70 or higher.

3) Privatize Medicare.

Probably using a "premium support" system like Ryan suggests which I already noted can't possibly work, e.g.:

4) Repeal the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law.

Translation: Get set for another financial meltdown like we saw with credit default swaps in 2007-08, except this will be 100 times worse, and may end up in a Great Depression not a recession.

Beyond all the above is the documented fact: i.e.

That Mitt Romney is a congenital liar. See the above video on the extent to which this turd lies, then ask yourself if you really want a president who will be less than forthcoming about everything from what poisons are in your food, to how many extra troops he's sending to the Middle East without telling you, to how many additional fracking wells he's ordered.

Bottom line: we don't need a Mitt Romney any more than a Rick Santorum. Both would send us backwards in time to relive the financial disaster we're only now emerging from! American women, invested in their families' economic futures as much as their social-health futures (and who polls show support Romney by 40% to 49% for Obama), must seriously reconsider their support for this feckless, truthless creature of corporate, rentier privilege and ask themselves if this is truly the future they desire for themselves and their children. Including all those unemployed college grads now returning home to live under their roof - because, believe me, under Romney the new grad unemployment and college debt situation will be five times more dire.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Psychiatrists Have Finally Lost It - Nearly Everything's Now a 'Disorder'!

Here's the problem with highly subjective sciences like economics and psychology: they are too much subject to the vagaries of the current 'flavor of the month' and also to the intrusion of politics resulting in degradation of quality. This is why I never even remotely considered a career in either, too "floppy", "squishy" and difficult to pin down. Give me physics every time, because at least the motions of a pendulum can be quantified as well as the motions of planets. Thus the motion of the first can be determined as being simple harmonic or not, while the latter's orbit can be determined to be elliptic, or circular.

This has come to the fore once again as we learn (TIME, March 19, p. 42) that the newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM-V), the "bible" of modern psychiatric practice, is on the verge of a monstrous diagnostic inflation. By that I mean adding hundreds of new disorders to the existing DSM list, which of course translates into more money for insurance companies (even at a time we're trying to cut medical costs) as well as new brands of meds to treat all the new disorders - a likely bonanza for Big PhrMa.

In physics, at least, experimental measurements determine whether a claim is valid or not. For example, the claim of faster than light neutrinos by a research group at CERN last year, has now pretty well been shown to be false, e.g.

Even before those later tests were conducted, for which a confirmation failed, application of special relativity considerations disclosed that to achieve FTL levels a mass would need to be imaginary. This alone lent suspicion to the original CERN claim.

Even at a simpler level, say for classical mechanical systems, measurements performed can quickly determine whether a system, say a pendulum, is non-holonomic or holonomic. In the latter case we expect the configuration to be entirely describable from the coordinates (x, y, z) and not all dependent on velocities.

But alas, no such clarity resides in psychology-psychiatry! Moreover, unlike a holonomic system in physics, what the eggheads of the American Psychiatric Association declare will have immediate impacts on citizens and taxpayers. For example, a DSM classification can determine if symptoms are unpleasant or signs of real disease. If the latter, one may well become unemployable - if an employer rifles through your records - or you may have to receive treatment that includes expensive meds in order to be declared cured. Furthermore, these mental health issues can determine whether or how much insurance will pay for any prescribed treatments...or meds.

As an example, the new definition and classification for depression would eliminate any exceptions for grief or bereavement (ibid.), say after a parent's death - such as my dad's in 2009. In effect, anyone found to be exhibiting symptoms of mourning or grief would then be diagnosed with a mental illness, in this case depression - and have meds prescribed such as Paxil, Zoloft or whatnot. Hence, the emotions once regarded as normal after the death of a spouse or parent, would now become pathological symptoms!

Note again, this determination has not been based on ANY objectively measurable standard, say like a noteable deviation in a PET (positron emission tomography) scan, but essentially on subjective votes or inputs. Dr. X writes into the APA site and affirms we need to treat grief after a spouse's death as a mental disorder, and so it is. Ten thousand more support Dr. X and the disorder finds its way into the DSM.

As the TIME piece notes (ibid.):

"What DSM 5 almost certainly will do is help APA members to bill insurance companies for more conditions."

So just imagine how many of these characters will now get super rich, even as our health care costs as percentage of GDP explode.

What else is under consideration for "pathologization"? Evidently, over-eating (if you eat a whole pizza you are likely mentally disordered as opposed to consuming 1-2 pieces) and in any case feeling uncomfortably full after. If you therefore consistently go to buffets, whether in Vegas or to Country Buffet for your meals - you are more likely to be classed as mentally disordered because people frequenting those venues are more likely to eat past merely being full.

Sex addiction is also under consideration for inclusion in the mental disorders, and these will be called "hyper-sexual disorder". It would fit, for example, any guy who watches so much internet porn that he's unable to satisfy his wife- who may then report him to the Psych police for mental evaluation. Who knows what meds they will prescribe, as they haven't decided yet. Guys who look at porn at work and fail to meet production quotas can also be classified under this mental disorder, and their employers may well demand treatment - maybe electro-shock several times a week in addition to meds.

Internet addiction, meanwhile, is being examined in terms of inclusion but no consensus yet exists on how many hours a day of net time qualifies. Some say 10, others 15 or more. Be assured, though, the way diagnostic inflation is going, the next DSM will include it.

Mind yourself in the meantime, and make damned sure no one sees you overeating at Applebee's or staring at porn, or crying if a loved one dies. You will then be entered into the annals of mental pathology and your credit score is likely to be affected as well!