Finally, a Solution to the Red State – Blue State Conflict

Astronomers – a specific branch of secular humanist religion – has identified a “goldilocks” planet circling Beta Pictoris.  It’s relatively close by.

Plans to transport Darwinists and their ilk to the Gliese 581g are under way at various enterprise thinktanks, but are stalled as the costs suggest the need for a transportation tax.

Christian Science Monitor has pretty good coverage, but Gliese 581g is creating a buzz, you can find news out there if you are looking.

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Clara Moskowitz,� Senior Writer /
June 10, 2010

Astronomers have directly imaged an alien planet as it orbits around its very young star. The discovery helps prove that gas giant planets like this one can form very rapidly, the researchers said.
The planet belongs to a star called Beta Pictoris, located about 60 light-years from Earth toward the constellation of Pictor. This star is about 75 percent more massive than our sun, but is only 12 million years old, making it less than three-thousandths of the age of the sun.

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Elections Coming! And Bigoty or Ignorance Leads the Way.

James Fallows has an interesting column on bigotry in the Atlantic. I haven’t followed the “Frankly, Muslim life is cheap” controversy, but apparently Martin Peretz of the New Republic put his foot in his mouth on the occasion of being honored for his work at Harvard. When called on his gaffe, he jammed the other foot in his mouth by saying this was “a statement of fact.” Fallows is gentle in his assault on Peretz, but I guess others have been less so. I think it does little or no good to go after folks like Peretz who say something so stupid, it often just makes them defensive and more rigid. Fallows’ column is a good read and deserves to be cited to help folks who do not have any Muslim friends to think this matter through a little more carefully.

On another front, turns out we have an election coming up. My Senator, Patty Murray, is in a close battle, as she is every 6 years with someone from the right. I am following that race. I guess the good news is that the Republicans have put up a guy named Dino (Rossi) to run against her this time. The bad news is that he’s a pretty good campaigner. More on that to come as the election gets closer. We have very open absentee ballot policy in WA State and lots of folks vote every election and haven’t been anywhere near the polling place in a decade or more, so we are less susceptible to vote-caging tactics than some other states. Take a look at this site and think about what a vote-caging scheme might do in a close race like the one Feingold is in. It’s a shame that Feingold’s opposition think they should use any tactic available to jam him up.

Happy Wednesday to you all!

Campaign and Election News Update

Campaign funding update:

Justin Elliot at Salon has interesting story on the money flowing to Karl Rove’s political organization American Crossroads. The group raised a little more than 2 ½ million bucks in August and 91% of the August funds came from 3 billionaires.

Election news:

Turns out the billionaires are wasting their money because the planets are moving into alignment for President Obama around election time.  I have been worried, even as I noticed Jupiter in the sky neare the full moon earlier this week.  Jump to Gurmeet Singh’s piece  at for the whole story.    Here are some of the particulars on that: 


President Obama is in Jupiter Main Period and Rahu sub period from Feb 2010 to July 2012. Jupiter and Rahu are two prominent planets that are influencing President Obama at this moment. Transit Jupiter was in a very strong position in Feb/Mar this year in Obama’s second house and aspected the natal position of Rahu and 10th house lord Mars in Leo sign, when Obama got the Health Care Reform bill passed.

But President Obama’s time is going to improve in Nov 2010 because Jupiter will be Stationary direct in its own Nakshatra in first few degrees in Pisces and then the end of Aquarius sign, very powerful. Also Jupiter will not be aspected by transit Saturn. Jupiter will be very strong and powerful for President Obama during the months of Nov, Dec 2010 and then Jan, Feb 2011.

I am relieved to hear it’s going to be all right in November, but I still think it would help, even at this late date, if Obama would send Geithner, Summers, and Rahm packing.  Geithner and Summers should never have been in their positions, Rahm has been a good corporate democrat and that wasn’t going to work out either even if the guy is an effective political operator in some ways.

Anyway, it’s all going to work out.  Aquarius rising.

Happy Sunday to all.


Police State Update

There’s a lot of tension between the police in the Northwest and the Native American community these days over the police killing of Native American Carver, John T. Williams. The Stranger in Seattle has some of the coverage. There have been several attacks on police in Seattle and Tacoma in the past couple of years. I think it’s easy to see a connection between a pattern of excessive force, deadly force against activists, street people, suspects (we are all suspects when a policeman get tuned up by something) and the assaults on police.

Meanwhile, in far away Dallas, the police chief gets it right when his officers get it wrong. Justice is very difficult to obtain when the perp has a badge. It gets even harder if the victim is a native american carver and street person.

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Human Rights Commission Says It Has “Serious Concern Regarding the Fatal Shooting of John T. Williams”

The Seattle Human Rights Commission expressed grave concern about a police officer fatally shooting John T. Williams on Monday, saying in a letter this morning to Police Chief John Diaz, “Regardless of his economic, physical, or emotional condition, it is a tragedy that John Williams’ life ended in such a violent manner.” (The full letter is after the jump.)
The human rights commission—A 14-member panel appointed by the mayor and city council—is typically soft spoken in controversial matters, always informing discussion instead of stoking debate. But that they are weighing in right now adds to the sense that large movement is brewing to oppose the shooting by officer Ian Birk. Last night, the mayor and city attorney attended a large vigil in Pioneer Square. And rumors are floating that city leaders and city employees are planning a major protest in the coming week.

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Andrew Revkin has an editorial piece on global warming and extreme weather

on Dot.Earth and also running in NYT.

He’s pretty cautious about linking global weather extremes to global warming, and I understand that the denier population wants to single out any individual tornado, hurricane, flood, drought and make the point that the link with any single event is hard to make, but the link to the global pattern of extreme weather is simply a fact. It was predicted, it has arrived. Environmentalist activists need to be ready to push back against this clever and malevolent reframing of extreme weather. The pattern is clear, it was predicted, it is happening.

We now live on a planet with more extreme weather. The impacts will continue to be felt for a long, long time. The solution to this problem is a carbon tax levied at the point of production of greenhouse gas into the environment from every source that can be identified and taxed. So, carbon tax on gasoline, carbon tax on coal mines etc. It would be smart to use the carbon tax dollars to fund tax credits for clean energy, but maybe half of the carbon tax funds better go into reliefs.

I think about the Pakistan flooding and I think about the parable of the workers who are constantly working at the river pulling bodies from the river, trying to save folks in the river, and that is great work, very fulfilling and exciting, but somebody needs to go up the river and find out why/where/how the bodies are ending up in the river.

Up the river from the global pattern of extreme weather events is global warming.

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Dot Earth - New York Times blog
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Lights Out on US Manufacturing and More

The last major GE factory making light bulbs in the US is closing later this month. WAPO has that story.  It’s a metaphor for how US national policy has encouraged the shift of manufacturing jobs outside US borders to cut costs and maximize corporate profits. It also illustrates how our federal policy has neglected to encourage research, development, and manufacturing in green technology. Here is a piece from 2007 on the loss of manufacturing jobs.  That’s before the housing bubble burst and things took a really bad turn.

This last US GE plant in Winchester VA makes incandescent bulbs. The future is not in incandescent bulbs. Heck, the present should not be in incandescent bulbs. Here’s a link to a piece on compact fluorescents I did a few years ago.

I think US manufacturing is predominantly war materials. I think that may not be best choice.

Another interesting story.  The NYT and everybody has this one I think.  Richard Daley is not going to run for re-election for Mayor of Chicago.

Mayor of Chicago?  is that a emphemism?  Rahm Emanuel is interested in the job.  I say make Rahm produce his birth certificate first.

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Light bulb factory closes; End of era for U.S. means more jobs overseas

WINCHESTER, VA. – The last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the United States is closing this month, marking a small, sad exit for a product and company that can trace their roots to Thomas Alva Edison’s innovations in the 1870s.

The remaining 200 workers at the plant here will lose their jobs.

“Now what’re we going to do?” said Toby Savolainen, 49, who like many others worked for decades at the factory, making bulbs now deemed wasteful.

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A couple of pieces to review regarding global warming

Dahr Jamail has a piece on the threat of Erika Blumenfield (c) 2010global warming on Truthout.   Erika Blumenfeld is the photographer for the Jamail piece and has done a great job of capturing the devastation of the BP gusher in the Gulf.  Here is a link to a sample of Blumenfeld photography called The Polar Project.  

That’s a Blumenfeld photo to the right of an iceberg calved from Antarctica.

Climate Progress has this piece: Newark Star Ledger Editorial Board – Face facts: Climate change is unfolding as predicted. It’s worth a couple of minutes to read.

Finally, we have Bill McKibben calling for direct action.  Grist has that piece.

Here are some facts from the Dahr Jamail piece.  And noting that Jamail is reporting on the work of Derrick Jensen.

Read’em and weep.

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Life vs. Productivity: “What Would You Live and Die to Protect?”

Here are some recent headlines from this summer:

  • Greenland Ice Sheet loses 100 square miles, biggest loss since 1962 (Aug. 2010)
  • Russia’s drought-driven halt to wheat exports panics world grain markets (Aug. 2010)
  • Pakistan’s worst flood in recorded history claims some 1,100 lives (July, 2010)
  • International study confirms accelerating warming trend (July, 2010)
  • Rapid decline in phytoplankton population stuns scientists (July, 2010)
  • Flash floods seen increasing as Milwaukee gets eight inches in two hours (July, 2010)
  • �Senate climate bill collapses (July, 2010)
  • Coral reef deaths soar in record ocean heat (July, 2010)
  • First half of 2010 was hottest such period on record (July, 2010)
  • Carbon lobby launches “CO2 is Green” campaign (July, 2010)
  • Massive Greenland glacier retreats one mile in one night (July, 2010)
  • Military declares climate change “a catalyst for conflict” (June, 2010)
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    A few thoughts on Social Security, FDR and Taxes

    Thinking about Mary’s post on Krugman and his take on things.  I continue to be completely convinced that Obama should have made Paul Krugman the Environmental Czar for a two year project to right the economy back in January 2009.

    Nope, Obama had to go with Goldman Sachs guys like Geithner, Bernanke. Similarly, Obama seems to think that Alan Simpson is the guy who knows how to fix Social Security.  Hm..  how about checking in with Ezra Klein first?

    Ezra Klein makes the cut for the big look at Social Security and his article in the Washington Post.  

    Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (that’s a hyperlink graph to the left for the wonks who want words to go with picture) has extensive analysis of the economic benefits of Social Security, the costs of keeping the fund solvent (assuming we could keep Congress from robbing the fund to invade Iran, Venezuela, or Grenada again).

    This is really not a matter of economics, it is a matter of priorities.  Do we want to continue the shift of wealth and income to the top 1 to 5% of the population or do we want to shift the wealth and income of the country back into the hands of folks with no trust funds or banker bonuses in their futures?

    So, we make Social Security healthy by simply trading that cost for letting the tax cuts for the rich expire. Sounds fine to me.

    That simple change fixes Social Security.

    The next step to really fix the economy of this country would be to reinstate a steeply progressive tax rate model in the near future.

    And remember, when the trolls say that a steeply progressive tax rate will stifle the economy and cost jobs, that all we have to do is to direct their attention to the Eisenhower era.   Here is a decidely wonky analysis from Santa Cruz wannabe Steve Kangas.  Steve is looking for help getting out of Vegas, VEGAS, BABY!, and back to more left coasterly environs.

    It ain’t rocket science.  Higher top rates spur investment in infrastructure.  Infrastructure is good for communities.

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    Making Social Security less generous isn’t the answer

    There are a lot of things Congress doesn’t know right now. What to do about jobs, for instance. Who’ll be running the House come January. How to balance the budget. But there is one thing that both parties increasingly seem to agree on: You should work longer.

    And so what? Lurking beneath this conversation is an unquestioned assumption: We live longer, so we should work longer. That’s pretty intuitive to members of Congress, who seem to like their jobs and don’t seem to like the idea of retiring. It’s also pretty intuitive to blogger/columnists, who spend their time in air-conditioned rooms opining about pension programs. But most people don’t work in Congress or in the media. They work on their feet. They strain their backs. They’re bored silly at the end of the day. By the time they’re in their 60s, they want to retire.

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    Robert Reich says the problem is wage inequality

    Reich would like to up the minimum wage. I would like to instate a maximum wage through a steeply progressive tax rate with a top rate that is essentially confiscatory. If a really wealthy person know they are going to pay 85 cents per dollar in taxes once they are collecting their second or third million dollars in taxable income in the year, they will invest in infrastructure instead of a third or fourth home in a gated community. Infrastructure means industry, jobs, prosperity even for folks who don’t live in gated communities.

    I am not sure how we persuade the CEOs to take less and pay better wages to more employees without a tax axe over their heads, but if you think it can be done, weigh in. How’s that going to happen? That rising tide lifting the yachts of the bankers and CEOs? Is it translating into any widespread prosperity? If concentrating wealth in the hands of the few was going to create lots of jobs, wouldn’t that have worked by now?

    Reich says the problem is structural.  Consumers no longer have the ability to power an economy.  They first tried shifting to two incomes per household, women left the kitchen and went to work, then families tried putting in more hours, then they shifted to debt, stripping imaginary equity out of the family home and maxing out the credit cards, but the air went out of that scheme when the real estate bubble burst, and now here we are.  That’s a pretty professorial, historical evaluation of our situation, but it fails to recognize that the real cause of our economic woes are the illegal immigrants who are taking our jobs and beheading us.

    Hmm…  pick’em.

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    How to End the Great Recession

    The national economy isn’t escaping the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. None of the standard booster rockets are working: near-zero short-term interest rates from the Fed, almost record-low borrowing costs in the bond market, a giant stimulus package and tax credits for small businesses that hire the long-term unemployed have all failed to do enough.

    This crisis began decades ago when a new wave of technology — things like satellite communications, container ships, computers and eventually the Internet — made it cheaper for American employers to use low-wage labor abroad or labor-replacing software here at home than to continue paying the typical worker a middle-class wage. Even though the American economy kept growing, hourly wages flattened. The median male worker earns less today, adjusted for inflation, than he did 30 years ago.

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    Another off shore platform explodes in flames

    Initial reports say the crew got off and all are accounted for. Hopefully, this will not turn out to be another runaway well.

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    Gulf oil platform explodes, burning off La. coast

    GRAND ISLE, La. – An offshore petroleum platform exploded and was burning Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico about 80 miles off the Louisiana coast, west of the site where BP’s undersea well spilled after a rig explosion.
    The Coast Guard says no one was killed in the blast, which was reported by a commercial helicopter flying over the area Thursday morning. All 13 people aboard the rig have been accounted for, with one injury. The extent of the injury was not known.
    The Department of Homeland Security said the platform was in about 2,500 feet of water and owned by Mariner Energy of Houston. DHS said it was not producing oil and gas.

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