Posts Tagged ‘Environment

29
Apr
09

Swine Flu – It’s Not the First, Won’t Be The Last

What a strange coincidence that a potentially pandemic illness originating from domesticated livestock mushrooms at the exact same time I am reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.

In simplified terms, Diamond describes in his book how food-producing populations have been exposed for thousands of years to influenzas and other diseases carried by domesticated animals. Those with the genetic strength to overcome the illnesses or avoid them all-together lived to reproduce and, thus, propagate their genetic supremacy. Some bugs are meaner then others, hence the bubonic plague and Ebola virus.

These inevitable illnesses have made quite a mark on the development on human geopolitical history. Because food producers (FP) were exposed to these diseases and overcame them while hunter gatherers (HG) did not, the FPs easily decimated or wiped out many an HG tribe and culture. Smallpox has quite the reputation for being such a population reducer.

The main point here, however, is that as much horror and, possibly, death as the avian flu or the swine flu might wreak upon the global population, diseases transmitted from animals to humans are as natural as exinction. So long as humans live in close quarters with animals, and such cohabitation is unavoidable, the potential pandemic is always around the corner.

Me, I try not to be a germ-a-phobe. With weakened immune systems, our bodies cannot handle contact with the feces of many beasties. Sure, we don’t want to give each other illnesses, but a little dirty is good. So, I’ll start the Just Say No To the Wipey and Hand Sanitizer Campaign now.

As survival of the fittest is real, the cleaner we become as a species, the weaker we become. Looking on the bright side, it may not matter anyway since we’re killing our environment so rapidly, our only hope is space pods on Mars. Hello! Point me to the nearest mass-suicide cult ASAP!

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14
Apr
09

Earth Hour – This Photo Series is Cool as Hell

I’ve been meaning to post this link to a Boston Globe piece showing the difference between recognizable destinations from around the globe lit up and then darkened during Earth Hour. Just click on the photos to see the before and after differences.

And, yes, I particpated in Earth Hour – however, I was still cooking a relatively complicated meal and had to push back my particular Earth Hour to 9:30-10:30 p.m. My bad. Next year, I’ll do better – promise! I encourage others do so as well, if they can, because it is such an easy way to make a statement and participate in a movement that benefits all of us. Yay.

08
Nov
08

Obama Critics Need Back The Hell Up – For Now

With the election over, hapless McCain supporters are coming through the woodwork with their preconceived fears of an Obama administration. Already, they’re criticizing his future administrative decisions, claiming they’re “terrified” of the coming president.

I have four words for you imbeciles: Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Let me spell it out as clearly as I can: your president has utterly ravaged this country during his tenure. Oh, you don’t think it’s all his fault? Let me give you a small reminder of his activities over the last eight years:

  • Convincing our country and neighbors to support the invasion of a sovereign country with lies and false intelligence. Severely mishandling the war for years, lying to the American people about the progress of the war and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths and handing more power to Iran than the country has enjoyed in centuries.
  • Appointing unqualified loyalists to positions that would result in the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina and subsequent deaths of a multitude of people.
  • After claiming to be called to spread democracy, attacking liberty and freedom in the U.S. by, among other things, erasing one of the foundations of democracy: habeas corpus.
  • Establishing a Justice Department that sought to subvert the law rather than uphold the Constitution, leading to the illegal politicization of the department and illegal warrantless surveillance of Americans at home and abroad.
  • Allowing the SEC to enact deregulations that would contribute to the destruction of the economy.
  • Giving tax cuts to the wealthy while the country was at war.
  • Compromising the war on terror by abandoning the military situation in Afghanistan.
  • Failing to enact necessary and obvious energy policies that would benefit future generations, refusing to abide by the Kyoto Protocol, and coddling energy companies that would discourage the development of alternative energy sources and tools, such as electric cars.
  • Supporting unConstitutional bans against gay marriage.
  • Operating with a lack of intellectual curiosity, a certitude and an isolationist arrogance that has grossly reduced U.S. credibility abroad.
  • Attempting to privatize social security – which would have decimated the program had it succeeded

George W. Bush has relentlessly damaged this country politically, economically and militarily year after year after year. He has been the most incompetent president the country has ever experienced. Ever.

And you Republicans feel you have any right to open your fat mouths and issue criticisms of a man who has yet to take the oath of office?! The gall, the stupidity, the ignorance!

I am absolutely unopposed to critiquing Obama’s efforts as president. We must certainly pay attention to the developments and decisions of our government. It is our responsibility and duty as American citizens to ensure our government operates with accountability and proficiency at all levels at all times. Feel free to raise your voices – when it is time.

But give Obama a chance to lead. Take a step back, take a breath, take responsibility for your vote for Bush and Cheney in 2004. Shut your mouths and study the actions of Obama before you unleash your predetermined accusations of a man who will undoubtedly make mistakes, but will undoubtedly perform better than the leader you delivered to us.

I don’t like to dispense with advice, but allow me – just this once, Republicans – to issue a few words you’d be well-served to heed: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

14
Oct
08

Why “Drill, Baby, Drill” Chanters are Idiots

I’m sure most of you who watched the Republican National Convention saw the goobers in hardhats and safety vests which said, “Drill, baby, drill!” Their captain, Rush Limbaugh said June 18,

They’re (Democrats) going to oppose the economic growth of the country. They’re going to oppose your prosperity. They’re going to oppose all of that by standing in the way of this.

They’ve (Democrats) got their talking points and they’re lying through their teeth about it.

Bill Nelson of Florida, one of, ahem, my senators, is out there saying that, (paraphrasing) “Hey, the federal government’s already leased a whole bunch of land to the big oil companies; they’re not even using it.”  It’s such a smoke screen, the number of years left on these leases is very few, and the whole thing is a lie anyway.  I have the figures to prove it.

Entrepreneurs of all stripes, all sizes, create business of all sizes. They’re a wide range. And who is it that always sets out to punish them and destroy them?  Liberals, the American left! Absolutely right, Brian. I could read your lips in there.  Good going.  What does Obama want?  Barack Obama wants you to suffer.  Barack Obama wants higher prices on fuel. right now.  Barack Obama wants a windfall profits tax. right now.  Barack Obama wants to raise your income taxes, by the way, right now.  He wants to raise capital gains taxes, right now.  He wants to raise Social Security taxes, right now.  Obama wants you to suffer.  The Democrat Party wants you in pain.  They want you angry, and they are willing to block any remedy to this problem in order to keep you suffering and in pain and angry.  Obama wants prices up, he wants your income down, and he wants taxes up, ladies and gentlemen.

I know, he’s a crackpot. I recommend reading the whole transcript because it’s incredibly laughable. Let me continue. Here’s Sarah Palin during the VP Debate,

The chant is “drill, baby, drill.” And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.

Barack Obama and Senator Biden, you’ve said no to everything in trying to find a domestic solution to the energy crisis that we’re in.

If that’s not enough to make you want to sprinkle cyanide on your cheerios, country singer Aaron Tippin has a new hit, “Drill here, drill now,” you can listen to here. I’m posting the second verse:

Every time a foreign tanker pulls up to our shore
They got us over a barrel while they bleed us a little more
And think how much it costs just to bring it all that way
And how many American jobs that’d make if we were drillin’ in the USA
Oh and God forbid if our oily friends should decide to cut us off
We’d be standin’ around with our britches down now listen to me ya’ll

Perhaps Aaron’s legendary tight pants have seized up blood flow to his brain.

What I’m trying to say is that all these calls for offshore drilling and energy independence have made it clear there’s a drought of information on the Right. I’ve decided to rectify the situation by gathering what we informed people call FACTS to help explain the error in this argument – which many Democrats are perpetuating as well. It’s almost criminal.

So, I beg of you – educate yourself. Even if you don’t want to read my lengthy presentation of reality and possibility, conduct your own research of the effects of increased offshore drilling, the possibility it will lower gas prices, and the addition to jobs and U.S. prominence alternative energy technology will provide.

Here’s my crack at it. It’s long, but it’s worth it. Jesuschrist, it’s worth it.

The clamors for energy independence only surfaced following the rise in gasoline/petrol prices. Because gas prices are largely determined by the decision made by OPEC regarding production levels, Americans are under the incorrect impression that drilling for more hydrocarbon off our shores will provide energy independence and lower gas prices.

OFFSHORE DRILLING ≠ ENERGY INDEPENDENCE ≠ LOW GASOLINE/PETROL PRICES

The American people are uninformed, which is nothing new, and their politicians are doing nothing to correct this problem because they are whores for campaign contributions, which lead them to feed the corporatocracy that is pimping America by trading money for favorable legislation. The oil & gas lobby is one of the biggest john of them all. According to the Federal Election Commission Sept. 2, 2008, and reported by the Center for Responsive Politics, campaign contributions for the 2008 election cycle totalled $22,543,340. Republicans were the most successful streetwalkers, receiving 75 percent of these contributions, while Democrats only garnered 25. Apparently, it’s hard out here for a pimp Democrat.

Because Americans don’t understand the realities of domestic hydrocarbon production, 67 percent answered in the affirmative to the RasmussenReports poll question, “In order to reduce the price of gas, should drilling be allowed in offshore oil wells off the coasts of California, Florida, and other states?” According to the survey, the results of which were released June 17, 64 percent of voters “believe it is at least somewhat likely that gas prices will go down if offshore oil drilling is allowed.” Now, I’m sure you know embittered former pollster for the Clintons, Dick Morris runs RasmussenReports and is now a sweetheart of the Right – which is why they quoted this survey endlessly.

The false assumption is that offshore drilling will lead to energy independence which will lead to lower gasoline prices.

Wrong.

U.S. WOULDN’T OWN OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS ONCE IT IS DRILLED

As Cenk Uygur correctly pointed out of the Huffpo, the United States government does not own all the hydrocarbon that is produced within its borders. The company that is awarded the contract to drill owns the oil or gas and may decide to sell their unrefined product to whomever they like and will likely do so to whoever is the highest bidder, be they India, China, etc. Simply because the U.S. government decides to open leases off Florida, California and ANWR does not automatically assume the U.S. markets will be the recipient of those energy resources.

Secondly, the U.S. refineries are operating near capacity. According to the latest numbers provided by U.S. Department of Energy for July 2008, U.S. refining operable capacity was 17,610,000 barrels per day. Of that capacity, U.S. refineries produced 17,464,000 barrels per day. The last major refinery built in the U.S. began operations in 1976. This is partially due to strict standards set by the EPA and the high cost of such an endeavor, but also NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard), an acronym describing a residential opposition to nearby industrial building. People want to use the oil and gas, they just don’t want to be near the production of their precious energy. With my family from in and around Lake Charles, I can see why.

The point is that politicians – Dems and Repubs alike – encourage the drill, baby, drillers; they just forget to mention that even if we increase offshore drilling, we do not have the refining capacity to ensure those energy reserves serve the American market. Sure, we can loosen environmental standards and attempt to rush the establishment of some refining infrastructure before oil companies bring that offshore hydrocarbon online. But visit Lake Charles for a weekend and decide if you want those big daddies in your backyard or if you would rather just drive less, switch to fluorescent light bulbs and inflate your tires.

U.S. ENERGY COMPANIES WILL CONTINUE TO KEEP PRICES AS HIGH AS THEY CAN

Americans are also assuming that oil and gas companies, in all their benevolence, would flood the American market with hydrocarbon to allow gasoline prices to decrease. Not gonna happen. FOR EXAMPLE, PLS’ ProspectCentre reported Oct. 1, 2008 that Chesapeake Energy, the largest producer of natural gas in the U.S., will “reduce it drilling capex (17%) through year-end 2010 by ~$3.2 billion in response to recent price collapse that has driven gas prices down (~50% since July 1)…Of the capex reduction through 2010, $1.9 billion is associated with reduced drilling activity.” WHAT??? you ask. Gas prices are over $1 more than when Hurricane Katrina hit. My car cost $12.50 to fill up eight years ago and now requires $40. And Chesapeake Energy is reducing drilling because energy prices are falling. Yes, Chesapeake produces natural gas, which is different than gasoline – but prices of energy originating from hydrocarbon sources are closely related.

Translation: Chesapeake Energy is decreasing their drilling of natural gas in order to reduce supply, despite typical ravenous demand of Americans for energy, which will help keep prices high. Politicians have given Americans the idea that American oil and gas (natural gas) companies are operating at capacity and we need to open more leases to bring more energy online in American markets. False. Major companies in the United States are right now decreasing domestic energy production because prices have fallen, causing these companies what they see as budgetary constraints.

The interesting tidbit about Chesapeake’s maneuver is that they’ve done it before. BNET Sept. 27, 2006: “Effective October 1, 2006, the company plans to temporarily shut-in approximately 100 million cubic feet (mmcf) per day of net natural gas production (approximately 125-150 mmcf per day gross) in various areas of operations in the southwestern U.S. until natural gas prices recover from recently depressed levels.” What has happened since the end of 2006? Prices have risen! How surprising! Of course, I’m not suggesting Chesapeake’s activities alone have caused gasoline prices to increase, but I’m giving you an idea of how the oil and gas industry responds to any decrease in gasoline prices.

You see – and this is very important – even if oil and gas were produced as much as possible within American borders and even if refineries were built to handle the capacity of oil and gas sucked out of the ground, oil companies would keep production low. Why? Why? you ask. I will tell you.

The oil companies have discovered that Americans have a high pain tolerance when it comes to energy prices. Americans will let gasoline reach $4.00 a gallon before really pulling back. They will never allow gasoline prices – profits – to fall back to the yesteryear of cheap gas and easy energy. No matter how available or plentiful that energy is domestically, the companies will manipulate the market to keep prices high. Oh, they’ll give us a load of “reduced supply” mishegoss, but make no mistake – they only have eyes for profits. Right now, according to PLS, XTO, EOG and Petrohawk “may watch Chesapeake’s stock to determine if they should follow the same plan.”

The main point is that even if all our hydrocarbon energy supply originates within U.S. borders, prices will remain in the nose-bleeds. Them’s the brakes. Yes, we are currently experiencing a reduction in prices, but it won’t last.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT REFINING

Now let’s assume that we do open all our oil and natural gas reserves to quell demands for more resources. We throw open every lease available off various coasts and in protected wildlife preserves and give them to the exploration and production companies like letting a fat kid loose in a candy store. We would have to assume that demand would remain the same or decrease in order to bring gasoline prices down.

Just one thing. Remember that last refinery that was built in 1976? Yeah, American consumption of energy has increased 25 percent since it was built. If prices are cheap, our consumption will not decrease unless there is a national mandate Americans understand is necessary to preserve our environment and the health of our children. With demand high, prices will remain so as well.

Because American oil and gas demand will always rise above domestic supply – especially with cheap prices – we will never be energy independent as long as our main source of energy is hydrocarbon. Our demand will always outpace domestic supply. Can’t say it enough.

If we do throw open all the leases possible and build refineries to service the American market as much as possible, we will end up polluting the shit out this country. Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a big deal if the only pollution we had to deal with was only that which we create ourselves. It’s not. Pollution from China has already started having worldwide effects – especially in California, where emissions regulations for local industries will have to be sharply curbed to deal with the fallout from China’s production boom.

“GREEN REFINERIES”? SURELY, YOU JEST.

No, I don’t, Willis. There have been recent movements toward establishing “green refineries” – if there is such a thing. Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma fought for seven years and finally received a permit to build a 150,000 barrels-per-day refinery that it says will operate within strict environmental regulations. Hyperion Resources, based in Dallas, is planning an environmentally sound refinery that will turn Canadian crude into low-sulfur gasoline and diesel at a rate of 400,000 barrels per day. According to a Reuters article describing the project, it often takes five years before companies receive the required permits for construction, which can often lead to investors jumping ship.

And if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for green gas, Hunton Energy of Houston has proposed the first green refinery on the Texas coast, shooting for a 340,000 barrels-per-day facility to convert Canadian bitumen crude into clean-burning jet fuel and diesel. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Its defining feature is the integration of a gasification facility, which would capture most of the plant’s carbon emissions before they reach the atmosphere.” It will be interesting to see whether this refinery – in ten years, if the project succeeds – will live up to its “green” claims.

There is, however, no definition for “green” and its subjectiveness has allowed it to be used as a major selling tool by energy companies who tend to be colorblind when it comes to the environment. In this case, “green” refers to reduced emissions by the refineries. It does not mean “zero emissions” as such as thing is currently impossible.

Obviously, the greenest refinery will likely do more detriment than wind and solar combined. Although one has to take into account the energy needed to produce a wind turbine, transport it and set up the massive thing (I see them in parts on 18-wheelers all over the highways here in north Texas). How long would a windmill have to generate energy before justifying its very existence? Just a question.

CLEAN COAL, JUMBO SHRIMP, PRETTY UGLY

Still, the term “green refinery” calls to mind another potential oxymoron: “clean coal.” Politicians say it all the time and the term even enjoyed a bit of attention during the recent Vice Presidential Debates. Jeff Biggers of The Washington Post has taken notice as well. He writes in a scathing opinion piece of the coal industry and its treatment by the Bush administration, “Clean coal: Never was there an oxymoron more insidious, or more dangerous to our public health. Invoked as often by the Democratic presidential candidates as by the Republicans and by liberals and conservatives alike, this slogan has blindsided any meaningful progress toward a sustainable energy policy.”

“Clean coal” is referring to reduced emissions from coal-firing plants and efforts are underway around the world to find the means to reduce the environmentally detrimental affects of this energy source. The release of carbon dioxide into the air is one of the biggest offenses of coal use and scientists are trying to discover new means to deal with this greenhouse gas, included rerouting it under ground. Capturing the CO2 is a top priority in “clean coal” technology. According to National Geographic News, however, technologist Gordon Couch, with the International Energy Agency’s Clean Coal Centre in London, says zero-emissions coal power is a realistic goal – though years away.

“NUKULAR” ENERGY

John McCain likes to repeat that nuclear energy is just fine because he served on a Navy ship powered by nuclear energy and all Senator Obama needs to do is talk to one of our sailors serving a nuclear-powered vessel (yeah, because they’re experts) to learn the benefits of this energy. But nuclear plants are some of the most dangerous sources of energy – the fact that Chernobyl and Three Mile Island are household terms is a large indicator of public concern regarding this energy option.

Nuclear waste is an even larger concern. And since no real long-term solution has been found regarding the storage of nuclear waste, it is irresponsible for politicians to tout this as an option for energy independence. Nuclear waste is also tremendously costly to store – the Department of Energy has said the controversial proposed storage facility at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain would cost $96.2 billion to build and operate. France is repeatedly used as a positive example of the use of nuclear energy. However, France reprocesses its nuclear waste – which is banned in the United States due to proliferation risks – and still has leftovers, which it stocks in hopes that, perhaps in 100 years scientists will have found away to eliminate the toxicity of the waste. Bonne chance.

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY…HEAD OUT OF THE ASS

Geothermal Plant in California

Even with the environmental benefits of nuclear energy, the question still looming is the cost-benefit ratio of investing such an enormous amount of funds into a technology that is detrimental in the long-term, rather than positive alternatives: biomass, geothermal, wind, solar, tidal, hydrogen.

Powerful lobbyists, greedy politicians and corporate executives have convinced the more uninformed Americans, including Palin – who chanted, “Drill, baby drill. Mine, baby, mine,” on the stump – that we must turn to domestic oil, gas and coal to increase energy independence, which will bring down gas prices.

I don’t just disagree with them, I have shown that they are wrong. They are incorrect. And almost every source I have provided in this blog is available on the internet.

So, why does the truth not out? Why do Democrats participate in this charade as well? Bucks, dollars, contributions. The building of the United Corporatocracy of America. The oil and gas industry has been the 12th largest campaign contributor to John McCain’s quest for the presidency, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Had we focused our surplus budget and American acumen for technological development on alternative energy sources back in the 1990’s instead of cheap housing developments, we might already be energy independent. Perhaps Detroit wouldn’t be in the economic doldrums. Perhaps we might not be transferring all of our wealth to “countries who do not have our best interests at heart.” But, then ExxonMobil and ConocoPhilips and many other oil & gas companies wouldn’t be receiving record profits this year. Without their political involvement, Halliburton probably wouldn’t have received a number of sweet, no-bid contracts in Iraq from the Bush administration.

Instead, we’re left with “shoulda, woulda, couldas” dangling in front of our rose-colored glasses to the past.

To make matters almost unpalatable, the Right continues to dupe many of its followers – legendary anti-intellectuals, consistent swallowers of Fox News Propaganda who disdain facts, truth, research, reality and education – into believing offshore drilling will produce energy independence and lower gas prices. It won’t. It will only make the same white men richer year after year and worsen our environmental contributions.

RENEWABLE ENERGY IS BEST CHANCE FOR U.S. TO RETAIN GLOBAL PROMINENCE

Renewable alternative energy is our chance to regain and retain our primary position on the world stage. Global citizens are hungry and demanding alternative power and the U.S. has every opportunity to develop it, deliver it, and benefit from it. Like Obama said, renewable resources can give the U.S. the same economic positioning as the computer. Renewable energy technologies could be a major cultivator of domestic jobs and prop the U.S. up again as a major supplier to global market demands.

U.S. domination is subsiding, our economy is not growing as fast as other countries and we are losing our hegemonic status. Instead of tackling this development head on through education and technology, the idiotic dipshits of the Right are attacking our science classes, trying to shrink budgets for math education and calling for the same failed energy policies that will cripple our best chance to retain American greatness.

Republicans are selling our future to win elections now and their mindless followers are not only heading toward that cliff, they want to drag us over the edge with them. It is shameful and embarrassing and hopefully only a footnote in our country’s history. “Drill, baby, drill” is not the answer. It is “Dead Man Walking” for the U.S. economy and perhaps if these people knew exactly what they were proposing, they wouldn’t be trying to doom our country’s attempts to lead the world into the next technological era.

Let me be clear. I am not opposed to increased offshore drilling or increasing refining capacity. I am opposed to presenting it as a method for attaining energy independence and lowering gasoline prices. Such an assertion is untrue and only increase the falsehoods with which many voters make their decisions at the polls. It is harmful to democracy and it is harmful to the economic future and sustainability of this country. We must refocus our priorities to renewable and sustainable energy sources.

UPDATE 10.15.08. FYI, beeyotches, Time (as I spotted on Think Progress) is reporting that despite Sarah Palin’s calls for energy independence, she herself has supported efforts to send domestic hydrocarbon to more-profitable foreign markets.

According to Time, “Palin personally intervened in April, 2007, but her concerns were strictly local. She asked DOE to condition its approval on guarantees that gas needed in Alaska not be diverted to the better-paying foreign venues — a position she held until this past January, when the producers reached separate agreement with the state to meet its needs.

At no time did Palin or her government cite the desire to preserve Alaskan gas for the lower 48 states. The Sempra terminal began operations just four months after Palin announced unconditional support for the Marathon and ConocoPhillips request and a month before DOE approved their plans to export gas to Asia.”

Will the hypocrisy never end???

10
Sep
08

Saving U.S. Dominance and the Environment

Hegemony [hejuh-moh-nee] – leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation over others, as in a confederation.

The Washington Post reported on the upcoming report “Global Trends 2025” by Thomas Fingar, “the U.S. intelligence community’s top analyst,” in which Fingar predicts U.S. dominance will decline in the coming decades. Fingar goes on to say that U.S. military strength “will ‘be the least significant’ asset in the increasingly competitive world of the future, because ‘nobody is going to attack us with massive conventional force.'”

“The U.S. will remain the preeminent power, but that American dominance will be much diminished,” Fingar said, according to a transcript of the Thursday speech. He saw U.S. leadership eroding “at an accelerating pace” in “political, economic and arguably, cultural arenas.”

In the years ahead, Washington will no longer be in a position to dictate what new global structures will look like. Nor will any other country, Fingar said. “There is no nobody in a position . . . to take the lead and institute the changes that almost certainly must be made in the international system,” he said.

The predicted shift toward a less U.S.-centric world will come at a time when the planet is facing a growing environmental crisis, caused largely by climate change, Fingar said. By 2025, droughts, food shortages and scarcity of fresh water will plague large swaths of the globe, from northern China to the Horn of Africa.

CNN’s Farheed Zakaria makes a very good point, WaPo points out, in his book, “The Post-American World,” in which he claims that the decline in U.S. dominance is due more to the rise of other economies (China, India) than an actual slide by the U.S.

The world is in fluctuation and always will be. What this means for Republicans – especially Old School

Republicans – who follow the “Might Makes Right” theory is that their views are growing antiquated and useless. The United States, especially under George W. Bush, has engaged in an arrogant, isolationist foreign policy that does not take into account global geopolitical currents or world opinion. McCain is obviously of the same fabric and same blind mindset. The United States must interact with and seek cooperation with foreign countries rather than spouting our view and vilifying those who disagree with us. It’s petty and unproductive.

Now we face a declining economy – which will result in a weakened military. And instead of working on new technologies, as Americans have always done, to progress our country and kick start our economy again, the Republicans are stupidly chanting “drill now, drill now.” By burying their heads in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the importance of alternative energy development, they are attempting to forfeit our future – and not just environmentally.

Alternative and clean energy development could be our next Dot BOOM, it could be our next technological breakthrough and economic stronghold. Americans have long dominated innovation and technological progress. Of the 4,222,954 patents in the world, 2,460,775 have come from the U.S. We are creatures of development – the discovery of electricity, the light bulb, the steam engine, the telephone, the television, the car, the computer – you name major technological advances in the last 200 years and the U.S. almost always has its stamp on it.

And its time we did again.

Let’s discuss our oil industry. Gas prices have risen so steeply largely due to growing global demand for oil – especially from China and India. Now that prices have slid a bit and the oil industry is learning where America’s pain threshold is in regard to oil prices – at least when we’re in an economic downturn – they will not allow prices to return to the days of cheap fuel.

Just today, OPEC decided to reduce overall output by 500,000 barrels a day to offset the recent decrease in prices – even though Ike is barreling toward the Texas coast. You see, even when prices are “outrageously” high, OPEC will still make sure that profits are maximized. So what’s the answer? Well, you saw what Republicans wanted to do.

The problem? First of all, drilling now solves nothing because we do not have the refining infrastructure to handle the increase in fuels – largely due to inattention by Washington and the whole Not In My Backyard argument. About a month ago, when a McCain spokesman (can’t remember his name, but he had ring-around-the-head and a goatee) was asked about the infrastructure issue, he said, “One problem at a time!” So, he was basically saying drill first, ask questions later. Not smart policy.

Secondly, oil companies are given leases – areas of land upon which they may drill – for around 10 years. There is plenty of hydrocarbon-rich land available to the oil companies now, but these lengthy leases reduce the competition by the oil companies and many hang on to the available land without ever drilling.

Our domestic oil companies like high prices as well and as soon as prices begin to slide because “we’re not dependent on foreign oil,” they will slow production enough to drive demand and squeeze more money from the consumer.

So, Americans are not just held hostage by oil-rich foreign countries, Americans are also held hostage by our own domestic oil companies.

But no one wants to tell you this – not Barack Obama and certainly not John McCain because they enjoy corporate donations.

What’s the answer?

Alternative, reusable, natural and clean energy. Not only does it lessen the grip oil companies have on our wallets and our economy, the entire world is in desperate need and want of alternative fuels. If we develop the technology that our global partners are clamoring for, we can not only save the environment, we can save our standing in the world.

We must not let the Right Wing – with their Big Oil cohorts – kill the most viable option we have for America’s future by closing the door to new clean energy. Furthermore, the dumbing-down of our children by the Religioners and their assault on our science classes has got to stop. We have a major fight brewing in the Texas Board of Education regarding the introduction of Creationism or at least the doubting of Evolution into our schools and I’m sure this is occuring in many other states. This will hurt America – culturally, economically and globally. Ensuring the best and brightest and most-prepared students emerge from our educational institutes should be a major priority because their actions will dictate whether our nation progresses or withers.

You want to protect America? Protect science classes, encourage serious scientific education, and support the development of clean energy.

04
Sep
08

Reaction to Night 3 of the Repub Convention

So much to say! This is a long blog, so I bolded the main topics of each paragraph in case you just want to scan quickly.

It all kicked off well-enough with NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell having to give an update during the CONVOCATION. She was smack in the middle of the Alaska delegation and the people right behind her kept shooting her dirty looks over her shoulder. It was a hoot!

The main theme of the night was that the Republican ticket is offering Washington Outsiders to “shake things up!” Now, if I remember correctly – and I do – George Walker Bush ran as an outsider in 2000. The Republican “outsider” claim is nothing new, nothing original and their record of “outsiders” wrecked this country, but the people in those seats lapped it up like it was mother’s milk.

Meg Whitman

The first speaker I watched was Meg Whitman, former CEO of Ebay, and she was pretty good. We’ll have to expect more from her as a major contender for the California governorship. One of her lines that didn’t pass the smell test was that the Republicans are going to lower taxes on businesses. I have no doubt that they will – my objection lies in the fact that the Government Accountability Office released a report August 12 that said that two-thirds of U.S. Corporations paid NO federal taxes from 1998 to 2005.

See, Meg is talking about this Republican myth of trickle-down wealth. If you give all the rich people and big corporations tax breaks and cuts and benefits and loopholes and subsidies, they’ll create jobs and spread the wealth. They won’t horde it and use their power to keep minimum wage low or prey on those habitating the lower economic echelons. Well, we’ve had one of these trickle-down Republicans in office for eight years now and what has happened? The wealth gap has grown. The Developed-nation benefits like wages that rise with inflation, housing prices, health care and necessary prescription drugs are beyond a large percentage of Americans’ means. In my humble opinion, they can take their trickle-down bullshit and shove it.

Carly Fiorina then spoke and kept chanting, “I know John McCain,” in a way that made me think, “Eeeewww.”

Mitt Romney

Romney lit into a stream of hypocrisy (no surprise considering the 180 he did from when he was running as governor in Mass. to when he ran as pres.) about the east coast elites.” That probably made everyone in the audience do a double-take. He’s banking on Americans having short memories (and McCain losing so he can run in 2012). Then he spoke about how offering Guantanamo detainees Constitutional rights and siding with teachers’ unions was “liberal.” Isn’t it funny when doing the right, moral, ethical thing is LIBERAL? The Right have really sold their souls to Beelzebub. Maybe Romney can be his VP.

Mitt Romney almost made me vomit when he said, “Let’s keep Al Gore’s private jet on the ground.” And, what? Romney flies commercial? Yeah, and I don’t have dirty mouth. Whatever.

Rudy Giuliani

Now, Giuliani tried to appeal to those voters who still feel torn. Who are these people?? We have two extremely different candidates and I just want to meet one of these swing voters and ask what it takes to put them over the edge.. I also want to meet these people the media keeps saying “are just tuning in.” WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? I really want to know. Anyway…

Attacking the media was a large chunk of Giuliani’s speech, which is a typical tactic of the Right when they can’t win on actual campaign and election issues. The media attacks play well on talk radio and in the netherworlds in which the likes of Ann Coulter dwells. Doesn’t win elections.

But the screen behind Giuliani that was playing slide shows for the audience in the center kept changing colors and during the close-ups, it started to make me feel like I was on a bad acid trip. He laughed at Obama’s credential as a “community organizer” which stunned me a little bit (but prepped me for Palin’s speech) but urban voters aren’t Repubs anyway. All the rich Repubs just guffawed, as you’d expect.

He did have a pretty good zinger about Obama voting 100 (out of over 4,000 votes) “present” while an Illinois state senator. The line went something like: I didn’t know about this vote “present.” You don’t get that vote when you’re mayor. He delivered it flawlessly.

Then came one of the best moments of the night when I saw some guy sporting a shirt that said: More Cowbell, Less Obama. If you’re any kind of “Saturday Night Live” or Will Farrell fan, that’s some funny shite. However, Cindy McCain was sporting some god-awful green shower curtain as a dress. Whoever is her stylist needs to be waterboarded!

Sarah Palin

Now, Sarah Palin was somethin’ else. I give it to her, I really do. If this race was to be decided on speech delivery, she’d take the whole cake, hands down. She made Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina and Joe Lieberman look like wilting flowers. Biden himself couldn’t hold a candle to her. If they don’t win the election and the Repubs make her a scapegoat (which I don’t think they will and, if they do, the Religious Right will protect her) she could easily make a living as comedian. It took her a second to get her timing in relation to crowd cheers down, but once that was set she was off and running. She couldn’t have done a better job. If I wasn’t an informed voter and thinker, I’d say, Sign me Up! I’m buying what you’re selling!

Now let’s talk about what she actually SAID. While there was no policy in her speech, she did open with the fact that a special-needs child provokes special love and special-needs parents will have an advocate in the White House. I just wonder how she will advocate for them. She’s against stem-cell research. Her policy stances will make it harder for special-needs parents to find insurance and funding for their child. She wouldn’t advocate raising the minimum wage and the vast majority of special-needs parents are not well-off. LOTS of questions there for those special-needs parents she’s courting.

She also said that when they get into office, they want to “leave this world (or country or something) better than when they found it.” Which is really funny because the Repubs do not allot any subsidies for alternative energy developers the way they do for oil & gas and coal companies. Their policies are not green. They fight relentlessly to keep many animals off the endangered-species list. Their polices lead innumerable middle-class families to fall below the poverty line. So, how, in what way would they leave this country better? Especially because their predecessor Bush is leaving not only this country, but the world much, much worse than how he found it. So, that line really made my bullshit detector go off, as it did when she spoke about integrity and good convictions. Apparently, she hasn’t been paying attention the last eight years.

Sarcasm, Condescension

Sure, the speech was sarcastic and condescending and smug and petty and divisive with no mention of policy promises or real issues. But it was a damn good speech. She came out swinging and landed plenty of well-placed blows; she eclipsed Biden – who is the king of sarcasm. And I love sarcasm – I think it’s a wonderful tool to make a point – it’s the language I speak. Sure, my reaction to her community organizer put downs was “Back the fuck up, bitch!” But otherwise, I thought the speech and her delivery were stellar.

The problem is that she could run into the Ann Richards Factor. Remember the whole “Poor George. It’s not his fault. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth” line. As a Texan, I have it tatooed on my hippocampus. But Ann Richards lost. Sarcasm without substance is short-lived and the debates are coming up. So, good job Sarah – when you’re coming down off this high remember to learn how your ticket actually stands on the issues. Because, as any reasonable person knows (aside from Rick Davis), this election is about the issues.

Old Man McCain

Did you see when McCain came out after Palin’s speech and her whole family was on stage and he said, “Don’t you think we made the right choice?!” meaning Palin and he had to actually turn 360 degrees because he forgot on which of his sides she was standing? That was friggin’ hysterical. We rewound it and watched it a few times.

Also, when McCain was standing with the Palin family, he hugged Sarah once or twice but he only really talked to her husband. You can tell he’s not that comfortable with Sarah – perhaps women in general – and relates to her husband more. Very telling. And now he has a VP that outshines him and makes him look like a doddering old fool. Good luck reading that teleprompter tonight!

Overall

They milked McCain’s POW experience for all it was worth again last night, but the main theme was borrowed from every Republican convention in recent memory. The Repubs are the party of outsiders and they’re going to go in and shake up Washington. Now the ridonkulousness of this is obvious. The Repubs control the White House and have controlled the White House 20 of the last 28 years. The Republicans controlled congress from 1994 to 2006 and rubber-stamped Bush’s destruction of this country. This “do-nothing” Democratic congress has only done “nothing” because the Republicans have launched an all-out assault on the legislative process, led by Tom Coburn, by obstructing any effort by the Democrats to accomplish anything. Because if the Republicans aren’t in charge, ruining everything – they’re going to at least make sure the Democrats can’t fix things.

So, the “Republicans are outsiders” argument is crap and everyone knows it. Why are most congresspeople under investigation or in prison Republicans?! And, let me say that after all this time, if you can’t figure that out – you deserve a world where McCain and Palin lead the executive branch. I just kept looking at that small sea of Republicans and thought, you gave us George W. Bush, you delivered the most freedom-limiting, corrupt administration in history and you think you deserve to win this election? You have brought this country to its knees and you still think you have the best candidate when he agrees with everything Bush has done, yet acknowledges we are worse off than we were four years ago? It’s like the Republicans are just one big club of crack smokers!

While the Republicans kept using the same old, false lie “Democrats just want to tax you and control you” over and over again, they forgot to mention that Obama’s economic policy lowers taxes for over 85 percent of Americans. The Repubs want to wage wars, lower taxes for the rich, and cede power to the corporations. That’s the one word they kept forgetting to mention: Corporatocracy. They wail about Democrats wanting to tell people what to do (while saying You Can’t Have an Abortion, You Can’t Get Married, I’m Going to Tap Your Conversations Without a Warrant, You Can’t Do Embryonic Stem Cell Research), they forgot to say how they’ll trade our right to privacy for corporate donations, they’ll help corporations collude and create monopolies and continue to rape the American people through their nontransparent predatory practices.

The Religious Right wants to run our lives and cage us and bring the Constitution in line with the Bible – yet claim it’s the Democrats that want to tell Americans what to do. Empty rhetoric that clearly has no bearing on reality. It makes me ill.

And, lastly (promise), the Religious Right Wing Republican Cult was in tip-top form for Sarah, with many state delegations even wearing the same outfit. It was cute. It reminded me of North Korea – you know, those big music programs with 100,000 dancers and gymnasts perfectly in step. Republicans fall in line. They do what they’re told. Their church leaders say: look the other way while I molest your children and spend your hard-earned money extravagantly. Go vote Republican, so I can continue to illegally receive tax breaks while endorsing candidates and supporting political parties. Go change government so I can control the rest of the country like I do you. Go out and spread the abomination that is this religion.

I tell you what, Sarah Palin heralded the re-introduction of the Culture Wars and made it clear that the Republican Party is no longer just about Lower Taxes and the Entrepreneurial spirit (false). They’re about theocracy and control and unConstitutional endeavors. Democrats, Independents, freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and everybody else better start paying attention. We could lose the Supreme Court. You think Eminent Domain is bad? Just wait. The new Gestapo will make George Bush look like a freedom-fighter.

If you appreciate your civil liberties and the Bill of Rights – you had better start actively protecting them because we have a strong ticket that wants to take them all away. And they will if we give them an inch. And I’m not being sarcastic.

click here to read a good blog by jane smiley on huffpo

gloria steinem reacts to palin’s speech

Huffpo: …an Obama aide told the Huffington Post that the campaign has raised $8 million since her (Sarah Palin’s) speech last night “from over 130,000 donors – on pace to hit $10 million by the time John McCain hits the stage tonight…McCain campaign says it has raised $1 million.

17
Jul
08

Live Notes Taken During Al Gore’s Speech Today

  • all the thanking he’s doing right now probably made a decent minority of viewers turn the channel to a TV judge show. we get it, already.
  • he says politicians need get with the program or step aside. Ahem, Republicans.
  • so many things going awry simultaneously (mortgage, bank, gas prices, we’re at war…).
  • in five years, the entire northern polar ice cap could disappear one summer.
  • has he lost weight? he looks better than he has in a long time.
  • stats, stats and more stats.
  • comment on situation iraq.
  • crazy weather: floods, fires, etc.
  • Stats.
  • he’s much better with a teleprompter than even Obama. we won’t even get into McCain.
  • politicians presenting old solutions to each crisis separately without taking the other crises into account.
  • these solutions are not only ineffective, they make the other crises worse.
  • borrowing money from china to buy oil from middle east. that has to change.
  • the answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuel.
  • talking about his solution summits. solutions to the climate crisis are the same solutions to the economy and guaranteeing our national security.
  • Stats.
  • production of electricity cheapest and easiest way to take advantage of renewal energy.
  • New strategic initiative is linchpin of bold, new strategy to empower America.
  • 100% of energy electricity and renewable and carbon-free sources within 10 years.
  • Has he been talking with Boone Pickens? I hope so.
  • Wind, solar, etc. getting cheaper and cheaper.
  • Stats.

Dammit, CNN cut him off and now I’m watching McCain at a Kansas City Town Hall meeting talking about dependency on foreign oil and alternative energy resources and nuclear power. “Senator Obama opposes nuclear energy. He has a presidential seal I saw that says, ‘Yes, We Can.’ I think we should change it – ‘No, We Can’t’ or ‘No, We Won’t.'” Wow, CNN – this is sooooo much more important than a new energy initiative proposed by a former presidential candidate. Morons.

Found the transcript on The Huffpo.




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