Monday, August 31, 2009
Another Day, Another Gun
There was a story in the LA Times yesterday showing that one section of American manufacturing is going gangbusters. Hooray for recovery. The firearms and munitions firms just cannot produce enough to keep up with the accelerated demand since Obama was elected. The NRA (I know they are just hunters, and no Catholic boys ever masturbated, too) has many actions committees and sponsored websites that basically state that since Obama has come to power, all YOUR GUNS WILL BE TAKEN BY THE SOCIALIST STATE!
This is just one the things most progressives don't get, in my opinion. There is a real ground swell of paranoia out there that we are going crazy socialist. Some of the crazies who believe all this are those who "Don't want the government to fool with their Medicare!" They logically don't know that Medicare is a government program. And these folks are buying so much guns and ammunition that manufacturers just can't meet the demand.
We have crazies shooting police in Pittsburgh becasue the cops may come and get his guns. You know, if you did not fetishize your guns, they wouldn't give a damn about you. There have been at least four instances of authority killings this year alone that were fueled by crazy paranoid fantasies. If this were to keep up, then their prophecies would be self-fulfilling.
The fact remains they got the guns.You notice the raging far right was not this active with Bush/Cheney in office because he was their guy. Strutting in flight suit, saying "Bring it on!" and then torturing people. It is frustrating to realize that this faction is about 25% of the American population, so all the conservatives need is to influence another 20% to win elections. The rabid right will come out to vote.The passion they bring is seldom matched by the liberal end of the equation.
I saw Kerry and Hatch on some newstalk thing yesterday. Kerry made logical nice comments about how torture was wrong. When Hatch went on about its virtues, did Kerry ream him a new one? Nope. Just said it was illegal. AAArrrggghhh! I fear we are getting past reason in this country and the debate will be won on emotionalism that is so illogical (see the Medicare comment above) your jaw will drop repeatedly. And Health Care could be the Waterloo. I hope someone is playing multi-dimensional chess, but if the Admnistration pooches this one, the majority in the Congress may be lost.
BTW, Bobby "Exorcist" Jindal said that the Obama adminstration is doing more for New Orleans in the short time they are in charge than the Bush boys ever did. Did that make the front page anywhere? Competency does not fuel that raw emotionalism. I found it on the bottom of page 8 in the SacBee.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Actually, I have as long as I need. I just had a really busy week where I drove 1600 miles for work this week. That is a lot of windshield time, considering I had at least 5 hours of meetings every day. To say the least I am tired. And I have not kept up on journaling or anything else.
I did take 20 minutes and go through the water museum or exhibit at Pyramid Lake outside of LA. There, they have more or less models of the California water system with all its canals. It is worth the stop just to see what the history of water diversions has been in CA. The pictures of the Sacramento-San Juan Delta region before all the diversions are amazing. There are only a few, but it gives you an idea of the raw beauty there.
I had the heartbreaking site on the ride down to LA from the north of dead orchards. Miles of them. There is no water for them in natural form and the water rights that were used to obtain water for these trees were junior rights (meaning that in drought they weren't available and being planted in near desert conditions they died) or the water rights were sold to developers so they could build more subdivisions around LA. Just yesterday an orchard sold the water rights that had been used for 2200 acres of fruit trees to developers in LA county so they could have water. It is sad to see so much dead wood. But I have to ask, is it worse to have dead trees or a mall where neither should be in the first place.
The Central Valley in CA is a very fertile place, when there is water. You just have to pump it from somewhere else. Look at a map and see how far it is from Sacramento to LA. That is how far the water is pumped, and over at least two mountain ranges. I just found out that much of the water for the coastal cities, like Santa Barbara, also comes from Sacramento in another diversion.
CA is so weird about water, it dries up lakes, moves rivers, kills all native wildlife just to move water for farming. Right now there are signs all up and down the state that say "Congress Created Desert!" This means that CA is trying to keep water flowing to the Delta, just to keep a salmon population alive. It has dropped by almost 98% in the past few years. It is simplistically put as pitting farmers and their needs against fish. More realistically, it is farmers needing water in near desert conditions against fishermenr and the global food chain. Or global food chain versus cities. LA and San Diego could not exist without the water from the Delta and the Colorado River. The Colorado River used to reach the ocean in Mexico. It barely does now and is so saline it has little life in it. The whales that used that bay to mate and raise young cannot go there any more because it is a mudflat. Almost no water gets there! The US had to build a desalinization plant on the river to guarantee fresh water to mexican residents. The salt comes from irrigation. Water used for irrigation pulls the salts from the soils and deposits them back into the river when it flows back to the river.
There is a need for common sense here. CA (maybe the world) has outdated water thinking. There is only so much to go around. And what are the available stores in a drought condition. What is sustainable? A Dutch water geek came up with a term "virtual water" that makes sense. Trouble is it can change national economies. Why grow corn in Phoenix? Wheat in Egypt? when it is more water-wise to ship it in from a moist place? In Colorado, water law has gotten to the point that if you take water out of one river system, you have to return it to that system in clean enough form to be reused in drinking water and for wildlife. Water rights are determined in acre-foot units, meaning in drought time or times of low snow pack you may only get a percentage of an acrefoot, depending on availability. CA has no such restrictions. They do not monitor well pumping in CA either so wells are being pumped so hard, the ground in some areas is dropping one foot per year. Other states monitor well withdrawal to disalow ground compaction and sink holes.
Another area that I saw signs raling about current conditions is that Sacramento and Stockton discharge sewage to rivers that becomes irrigation water. Hey, no kidding. The issue is not that this exists, it exists all over the world. The Boulder, CO wastewater outfall is upstream from the Louisville water intake. The issue is that there are not tight discharge standards for wastewater. The excess nutrients discharged from wastewater plants can cause water degradation. This is a new topic for the EPA to address nationwide. This causes real big dead spots in waterways. You know, areas where algae grew so thick because of excess nutrients, when the algae dies (at night, no light to keep it growing) it sucks up all the oxygen in the water and everything there suffocates. period. Most fish kills are caused by this. Again CA is way behind the curve. There was one sign of hope last week as San Diego now has to treat their sewage to secondary standards before discharging iot to the ocean. Until now, they had allowed settling and chlorination. Think of what goes down your toilet, mix it up real good (use your imagination) and let it settle and then think if this is what you want sent out to the lake or river next to you, knowing that the settled goods will only settle maybe 60-75% of the debris. YUCK!!! and people swim in that. San Diego was so surprised they have no real contingency plan. They thought they were immune because they were too big.
One other item that has come up is that small amounts of herbicides are more dangerous that what was previously thought. It is becoming obvious that weedkillers are overused and make their way into the waterways. And they can cause cancer and mutagenic changes at much lower doses than previously thought. Nice.
Another bright note, though, is that CA is ahead of the EPA in regulating Chromium 6 in drinking water and has come up with standards. There are no federal standrards to date. This is a pollutant made famous by Erin Brokovich.
So much for water musings over one week.
Let's Dance. Even Sir nose has to dance when hit with the Bop Gun! Turn up the Bass!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Robert Reich on executive compensation--
"Comparable" pay is a ridiculous standard to begin with, and the argument that $10 million, or even $7 million, is necessary to keep talent is absurd on its face. I needn't remind you that over the last several years Wall Street has exhibited a truly astonishing lack of talent. So why do any of Wall Street's big banks have the audacity to offer this sort of pay? Because the Street is back to the same, relentlessly untalented tactics that made it lots of money before the meltdown -- which also forced taxpayers to bail it out, caused the world economy to melt down, and tens of millions of people to lose big chunks of their life savings. Goldman Sach's chief financial executive asserted recently that its business model hadn't changed one bit from what it was before the meltdown. Goldman is making big money again, but its business model got it into such deep trouble it needed a multi-billion dollar taxpayer bailout as well as a bailout of AIG, which owed it money. Without these bailouts, there'd be no "talent" because there'd be no Goldman, no Citi, no Street.
Even if you believe Wall Street needs "talent," I suspect that firms such as Citi can get all the talent they need for far less than an average of $10 million each. Maybe even $1 million? The whole system of "comparable" pay is propped up by a zero-sum self-perpetuating competition in which the price of so-called "talent" is determined by how much every other bank is willing to pay for "talent." If every bank decided to pay $1 million, that would be the "comparable" price of talent on the Street. I mean, it's not as if this economy has so many other $1 million-a-year positions begging for Wall Street executives and traders.
There's a more basic issue here. The fact that these big banks have been judged "too big to fail" means their top executives and traders know they can take even bigger risks now, because we taxpayers will bail them out. So inevitably part of their firm's earnings, based on such risk-taking, now come as a result of this public insurance policy. When risks pay off, as many are doing now that the stock market is showing signs of life, they reap large rewards. When the risks turn really bad, you and I and other taxpayers will pick up the pieces.
back to me. This is absolutely correct. Why pay outrageous sums for those who failed? It is the same stupidity that elects a deserter for President and calls Kerry a war criminal and faker. In order for them to get the big money, the government had to interfere, give them cash and then gets castigated for interfering. Note this only happened on Wall Street. For car manufacturing, CEOs were let go (with huge bonus packages), companies were scuttled, downsized or sold. But Wall Street is too big to fail. If the same practices were followed we would give meth addicts money and then be surprised when they got high again.
Bang my head on the wall. Bang my head on the wall.
Part of me just once wants the chance to to ruin a multi-national corporation just for the platinum parachute. Then I can run for politics like HP destructor Carly Fiorina, or whatever her name was. Going for the Senate against Boxer. Wow! Just what we need, another failed leader who kisses business' ass.
Friday, August 14, 2009
He was still playing two nights a week in New York until this June. His most notable accomplishments were inventing the solid body electric guitar and multi-track recording. Try to imagine Yellow Submarine recorded on a single track! Or Electric Ladyland. hee. Oh yes, he started giving Steve Miller guitar lessons when Steve Miller was 5.
So without further ado--
Whenever I hear people state that racism is not an issue anymore and don't understand black anger, I cringe. Normally that person is white. I saw people being led out of Claire MacCaskill's event and did not understand the furor. The video they used on CNN sucked. You never knew what happened. Like bad sports reporting (did I mention that the Broncos play tonight, sports season is starting!!!!!), the reporters caught the second foul. Here is a more detailed video. and it is too important to miss.
No racial issues in Missouri anymore. And I am not singling out the police. They missed the white dude ripping up the poster. He caused the problem. Then came the random enforcement. This wouldn't happen if this were a Bush rally. Google the Denver 3 and see what you get. They were arrested for wearing shirts. Democracy requires strength and vigilance. Look beyond bad reporting.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I was riding the bike last night and watching CNN (the gym occasionally puts on MSNBC) and they had Frist, Dr. Weil, a doctor from the Cleveland Clinic and somebody else, along with the de riguer conservative blonde in some type of animal print top (maybe it was geometrics, who cares). Thye were discussing health care. Senator Frist tried to come off as the middle-of-the-road, easy-to-love Republican; spouting I know health care is broken, we need to fix this and that in the insurance industry and make sure all 10,000,000 who don't have insurance get government insurance. Truly a well-respected and well-mannered villager. Dr. Weil and the doctor from the Cleveland Clinic went on a tear! Apparently Cleveland Clinic among their own employees were able to drop their health care costs 50-75% by starting wellness care. Dieticians to help you lose weight, workouts, drinking classes (to give you alternatives to stress relief), meditation, yoga, quit smoking help. They paid for it all and their costs dropped significantly. Then he went on about acid reflux. Change your diet, take supplements, why prilosec? which was developed as a short term fix until a patient can change his diet, etc. That did not go over well with Frist. Cutting meds, what? Dr. Weil then chimed in and said preventative care, good. and insurance needs to cover supplements and alternative healing modailities.
Frist then went on a ramble. We can't make people be healthy if they don't want to be. We can't make them chnage their habits. We can't legislate that! If they want to smoke and drink and eat fast foos, we can't help that...and we can't legislate helping people be healthy, we can't make them wear seat belts. He was well-modulated in voice. The utmost in respectability and reasoableness. No one metioned the seat belt inclusion. Thanks, Wolf! Of course we can and did legislate seat belts and it was a great success.
Remember he was the guy who could tell from video that Terry Sciavo's brain was functioning and her eyes were tracking lights, even though her brain was seen to be no more than guava jelly later. Also, he owns a hospital corporation worth $15-$45 million annually and had to pay $1,700,000,000 (yes, that is BILLION) for criminal penalties for defrauding Medicare. Yes, defrauding the government and we let him speak. Great. What a reasonbable voice for the villagers.
He doesn't want people to get well or try alternative healing modalities because he can't BILL for them.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I have been staying away from political posts lately as the country tears itself apart on a medical debate. No, our system is not broken. It is fine. Fine! We only spend twice as much as any other country for a lots less results. I think we are on a par with Costa Rica and the Czech republic. A demonstrator in NH shows up with a gun at a Presidential Town Hall. Hopefully he does not know how to breed. That would be like showing up at a feral dog support rally with T-bones attached to your neck and then trying to pet the feral dogs. He did not understand why his second amendment rights to bear arms caused such a kerfuffle. At another town hall, protesters had signs that stated "Keep Your Government Hands of my Medicare." Obviously, that the government is providing health care to him was lost on him. The fact that many protesters (or yellers) are seniors is not lost on me. Maybe we should go free market totally and take away Medicare from them. See if they get angry. As an aside, I can see people wanting unlimited free market power as they are young in hopes they can make it big and be one of the priviliged. But as you get older or retired, you have to wonder if maybe your time to make it big is past and social inequities would become more apparent. Like how big was your severance from GM, probably as big as the ex-CEOs, I am sure. What did he get $27,000,000. I am sure that is what every retired line guy got. Wasn't that detailed in Roger and Me?
One of the big topics was that we are becoming a Stalinist Socialist state. Stalin was a very powerful and cruel dictator. He sent millions of Armenians to Siberia to make sure they never organized and became powerful. Armenians?! He killed a whole bunch of the Russian citizenry. He made Saddam Hussein look like a grammar school teacher. And Americans equate that cruelty and government interference with socialism. I wish they taught history, civics and political theory once again in schools. Maybe then people would understand that socialism was really a benevolent theory that was created to fight ubercapitalism of the type that has been seen in the past twenty years or so. And people buy that government health care will create a Stalinist state without realizing social security, medicare and medicaid are socialistic programs run by the government. I really fear that there will be more right wing grass roots terrorism coming up, much like Timothy McVeigh. Our country basically has a racist, Bircher TV station and Lou Dobbs is right up there as a "news" bloviator preaching mistrust, emotionalism, fear and anger on another.
This frenzy is uneducated emotionalism. What do you expect from people who cannot pay for schooling through taxes, or fight over whether creationism deserves as much time as evolution. That the earth is really only 6,000 years old and that evolutionists are faking it. All right, I will confess, I planted all those fake plaster of paris T-Rex bones outside Grand Junction with other college students in Dinosaur National Park just to confuse people. Our covert cells did the same in Siberia, planting mastadon carcasses or in the Midwest, planting fake ferns remains. And I wonder why America just gets dumber. Could it be many of our school text books are printed according to Texas state standards where creationism ranks higher than the three divisions of power as defined by the American system of government? I was shocked to see that well over 30% of Amerians do not know there are three branches of governemental power creating checks and balances. And we wonder why Executive Privilege as defined by Nixon and Bush were not big public outcry issues?
Speaking of which, it looks like Karl "Dough Boy" Rove may have actually had his finger on the firing of US Attorneys. Check out the released emails. Now the question is does anyone have the political and ethical will to make him meet Bubba in a cell. He is guilty and they are really criminal charges, if not treason, subverting the American form of checks and balances in government. The judicial is no good at all if it is afraid of being fired by the President's Brain. If you have to agree to keep your job, you might as well be Brown shirts! Otherwise, you, too, can be cleansed. To hell with the rule of law. This may have been themost damaging aspect of the last eight years.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Can this be true? Is it sandbagging or a breakthrough? Or is this a last ditch attempt to be relevant and stay in business? I am betting the mileage will be less, but I also believe in American ingenuity and creativity in the automotive field. At least as much as bad business models and bean-counter engineering that brought GM down in the first place.
They have access to the best and the brightest, maybe they are unleashing them.