Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Warm Fuzzy Feeling

Reading this just makes you want to move there, doesn't it?

What country are they from?

What would the state be like if governed according to the Texas Republican Party’s 2008 platform?

· Calling separation of church and state a “myth,” the party platform would sweep away a key protection that has allowed faith to thrive in this country and permit government to promote favored religious practices over all others.

· Courts would be stripped of their authority to uphold the First Amendment’s prohibition against government officials promoting and endorsing religion.

· Government would become a powerful weapon in renewed attacks on sound science and medical research. Public schools would be required to teach religious doctrine, such as “intelligent design”/creationism, in science classes. Medical research involving embryonic stem cells, which scientists believe offers real promise for treating patients with medical conditions like cancer and Parkinson’s disease, would be criminalized.

· Public schools would be forbidden from teaching medically accurate information about contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Instruction on only “abstinence until heterosexual marriage” would be required.

· Content in public school textbooks would be based on the personal beliefs of whatever majority controlled the heavily politicized State Board of Education. By removing prudent limits on the board’s authority, the state would reopen the door to censorship.

· The public treasury would be raided to subsidize private and religious schools through vouchers and tax deductions. Even worse, government would be forbidden from requiring that private and religious schools getting taxpayer dollars meet the same oversight and education standards that public schools must meet.

· Government would strip women of their right to make decisions regarding their reproductive health. Abortion services, with no exceptions, would be criminalized. Even access to various forms of contraception would be barred or restricted. In addition, the government would make it harder for women to divorce and escape abusive relationships.

· Legalized discrimination against gay and lesbian Texans would escalate. Government would be empowered to imprison and/or fine adults who engage in even private, consensual sexual intimacy with other adults of the same gender. Moreover, the government would not just bar adoption by gay and lesbian parents. It would also strip them of any right to custody of their own children and would restrict visitation rights.

Nothing like Texas Tolerance.

Almost Fitting

While this tribute to the Preznut is humorous, it is poorly named because the plant actually cleans up shit. But it would be fun to flush on George.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008


So Focus on the Family's Dobson calls Obama the fruitcake for his confused theology. This, coming from the mouth of "I can can cure any homosexual in ten easy lessons" Dobson. Remember, his prize student was then caught in picture going to gay clubs (he was going there to save their souls). Yeah, that James Dobson. And Obama is confused?

I have never understood the link between Christianity and the quotation (and belief) of the Old Testament. Wasn't the Sermon on the Mount Jesus supposed to be the New Covenant? It is like the most repressive believers need to have a vindictive and all-powerful, vindictive, kick ass god to believe. Not a god who loves people like a dirty hippy.

Remember when corner preachers who barked nonsense were shunned. Now they get mega-churches and presidential visits. Try to watch Hagee some day and tell me how uplifting his theology is. I have done that twice and was amazed he has any followers.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The New Oil?

It is amazing how things just happen to fall into place for Mr. Pickens. Yup, the laws just changed in his favor. So now he gets to draw down sections of the Ogallala aquifer so the thirsty citizens of Dallas will get their water. The Ogallala is huge. Look at the map with the attached article. By law, he can only draw down 50% of the water in his area. The Ogallala is a big area and it is roughly a huge gravel and sand formation under three states. The aquifer is interconnected. So if his straw is in Roberts County, TX, eventually it sucks down water from Nebraska. That state relies on the water for irrigation. A lot. Ever fly over western Nebraska and see all the circles of green from center pivot irrigation over what is essentially semi-arid desert. Yes, all that could be drained. In fact, Colorado farmers, some cities and some trailer courts had to shut down their wells two years ago because the wells were draining the Platte river and tributaries water delivery to Kansas and Nebraska. The river bottoms were gravel and the upper aquifers around the rivers were basically being drained by the wells as they pulled water and chanelized the ground water aquifers, taking basically river water. In Colorado, it was not great water because of high nitrate content. Too much fertilizer (anhydrous ammonia) had been applied over the years and the nitrate content of the water was at times over three times the drinking water standard. (Not that anyone living in a mobile home park could be pregnant or have children under one year old where the drinking water standard was set up to prevent “blue baby syndrome”, where the fetus or young child cannot metabolize oxygen. Nope, never happen. Keep in mind in Colorado these mobile home parks are almost always immigrant farm workers and I am sure the owners will always provide the Hispanic workers with drinking water warnings in Spanish.) Anyhow, basically, T. Boone Pickens can pull water in Texas that actually came from river drainage in Colorado that Coloradoans can’t use because it interferes with water rights in Kansas and Nebraska.

As if an aquifer cannot be pulled down faster than thought. In Douglas County, CO, the aquifer was supposed to a multi-generational water supply. South Denver has grown so much and so many palatial McMansions, with their huge lawns have been built, that the aquifer is dropping almost 50 feet per year. At that rate it will be dry in 50-75 years. Nothing like owning a home and not being able to have water. Now the State is scrambling to find water so homeowners can have water. Just imagine a drought in South Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska and maybe Oklahoma. The Ogallala requires recharge from rain. It replenishes 0.1% of its volume per year from rainwater drainage. That’s maybe 100,000,000 gallons per year. With Texas water law, El Paso can buy water from North Texas is they can pump it there. Houston can by water. How long before the aquifer cannot keep up with domestic water supply needs? An average family uses 326,000 gallons per year. You do the math and then consider that agricultural pumping in Nebraska has already lowered the aquifer. When you pit even thousands of farmers against thirsty cities, who can afford the best lawyers? Who will get the water? Eventually state water codes will have to be made standard federally. When that happens, who can best afford lobbyists?

Just wait, in less than 100 years, this will be very significant for the food chain in this country. No water = no corn = no beef. Maybe we can change our eating habits, maybe not. I can’t see the general populace trading burgers for goat or vegetarian diets. Georgia is already trying to get Great Lakes water. Whew!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

In 2006, the Supreme Court withdrew protection for many wetlands in the United States in a sweeping decision that deregulates them under the Clean Water Act which previously had protected them. This was a boon for developers, as wetlands in many cases did not have to be protected as they were not "navigable waters" and therefore could be filled in and built upon. To hell with the wildlife affected. It also deregulates many of the pollution protection that these areas had under the Clean Water Act.

Well, now, in light of that decision, the LA River is not considered a navigable river. Here is a river whose flows have been cut, encased in concrete, had many of its tributary small wastewater plants sent to Hyperion (aka the biggest wastewater plant in the world) so much of possible flows go to the sea, and so on. As an aside, regulators love large wastewater plants because it is easy to regulate one large plant, instead of eight smaller ones. But, it means only one discharge point, often far from where water is captured and treated and used as drinking water allowing streams to dry up. Clear Creek in Denver is good example of this. Six small plants send their water to Denver Metro so the creek now can and does go dry in the summer. It did not used to. That means in places Clear Creek is now not a navigable waterway. For the LA River and its basin in a highly populated area, this means many of its tributaries and seasonal flows are not navigable and therefore are part of the protected waters by the Clean Water Act. That means that pollution can be released down these areas. In the long run, this will pollute what little flow still runs through LA. Makes me proud.

The salmon run is way down in the Sacramento/San Joaquin watershed (like 97%) and salmon fishing is banned. Now researchers are saying that some of the wastewater plants that feed the river discharge ammonia and not only is that toxic to fish, but ammonia releases upset the natural balance and spur the growth of toxic phytoplankton. So zooplankton that eats that dies. Guess what happens to fish that eat zooplankton before they die? The ammonia output was considered acceptable, because there is so much water flowing it dilutes it. This is the rationale that the State used to decide the amount of ammonia acceptable in discharge. Discharge permits in CA (and across the country) do not even consider endocrine disruptors in the discharge. Many hermaphroditic fish or 99.9% female fish downstream from wastewater plants is not unusual. What happens if there is no males, no spawning. of course. But that is another topic for later. What is pertinent is that CA is one of the few states that considers economic growth potential as part of the permitting process. (In CO it is how many lawyers you can muster to keep your permit lenient, so bigger dischargers get much more lenient permits than little guys.) So let me see--if you can prove economic hindrance and discharge to a waterway not protected under the Clean Water Act and I think you have just set the conditions for a toxic stew.

Is this what is really needed in the 21st century?


Saturday, June 07, 2008

“It’s hard, really, to recreate in our minds just how trusting most Democrats were, how most Americans were, how the media was in a patriotic rallying behind the President after 9/11.” Keith Olbermann

Given that most American’s wanted someone to ease his or her pain after the tragedy of 9/11. They were willing to give up some of their free will to believe that a leader was doing something to retaliate for the attacks on 9/11. People wanted to do something. Who can’t remember the cartoon images of the American Eagle sharpening its claws to revenge the death of 3,000 + citizens. Yes, it was important. The whole world was behind America.

How was that trust that desire to be led handled? With kid gloves, surgical strikes, elimination of Al Queda, censure of Saudi Arabia (who provided most of the financing and most of the attackers)? NO—Corner Osama, let him get away, find an enemy no could love (in one very real sense, Saddam Hussein was a puppy killer and worse. He killed thousands of his own citizens because they were the wrong race and religion), attack them, reinvigorate the economy through the military complex, fight two wars (one on a front where we did not understand the enemy and could not define the enemy, Shias, Sunnis, Kurds and others) and in an end game, try to establish 50 permanent military bases in a country that wants us out. And ruining the economy on the way.

A long time ago, Tom Tomorrow made fun of going into the past for the cabinet. Not quite the 1890s, but back to the Iran-Contra boys of Ronald Reagan who dealt arms to the enemy and sold drugs to the impoverished in our own country to fund another war in Central America. And what did we get—the same kind of muddled, confused foreign policy that has led America to the brink that Russia was brought to years ago. Bankruptcy, possibly. Except, I think America’s national emotional make up may be more resilient, hopeful and varied and willing to go through the painful reconstruction process so sorely needed.

But there are loose ends. Bill Clinton, in a conciliatory gesture, did not pursue Iran-Contra fellows, which allows “experts” like Ollie North to continue to speak and sway public opinion instead of castigating them to the shadows, as they should be.

Richard Clarke had something interesting to say on this—

“You (need) to come forward and admit that you were in error or that you lied, admit that you did something and you are forgiven. Otherwise you are censured in some way. I just don’t think we can let these back into polite society and give them jobs on university boards and corporate boards and just pretend nothing ever happened, when there are over 4,000 Americans dead and over 25,000 Americans grievously injured…Someone should have to pay in some way for the decisions they made to mislead the American people.”

I agree!!! But for me, censure or admitting mistakes is not enough. Many of the decision makers have many more dollars in their trust funds than I will ever make in my lifetime. Perhaps they need to share their millions with the survivors of those killed in this horrible, horrible mistake. How well would Dick Cheney or George Bush do on $50,000 per year? Hey, at least they have their significant other. That is more then those surviving the war dead or living with and loving the war injured will have.

I cannot begin to express my rage and sorrow that we were lied into a war, Americans were killed and profits were made on the BLOOD of the willing by people who opted out of Vietnam on “lucky sperm club” deferments. It puts a whole new perspective on the term BLOOD MONEY.

And to think I sat down at my computer to comment on a new ruling on what are navigable waters of the United States and what can be protected by the Clean Water Act. Later today, I guess.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Environmentally responsible GM is pulling the Hummer and may produce electric cars. That mean they may actually have the technology. I am sure it has nothing to do with profit and the fact that they can't sell Hummers. And that electric cars suddenly are able to be manufactured. Has nothing to do with expected profit.

Move along nothing to see here.

God, why is there such little vision and the ability to accept niche markets among US manufacturers of cars!!!! Mazda seems to have done real well with the Miata, then the protege 5, and the orange motorsports version of the Protege and now the Mazda 3 and 6. And please hold back all the arguments that they are a smaller company and can think in smaller terms. GM Oldsmobile (remember them?) used to have its own R&D and was basically GM R&D, except for many of the classic Pontiac designs. GM used to make 3 350 engines--Olds, Chevy and Buick. I can't recall the Pontiac of about that size. They kind of competed with each other. Then, GM combined their R&D budgets and and lowered R&D everywhere. They produced the Cadillac Cimarron (aka Chevy Cavalier with a leather interior) with those efforts. How did they loose market shares? In the late 1970s, they went to a 4-6-8 electronically controlled engine. Then dropped it. No one wanted better mileage while under cruise control at highway speeds. Yet it is now an option. Their small 2.8 L v-6 was a cut down small block. why design a DOHC 3 or 4 valve engine with better combustion characteristics and better power in a smaller engine with better mileage if people will buy crap!!

ooops, where did my market share go?