Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nader speaks about Chernobyl anniversary

This was emailed out to folks the other day:

Remarks by Ralph Nader on the 25th anniversary of the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, Ukraine.

The disaster at Chernobyl’s reactor on April 26, 1986 continues to expose humans, flora and fauna to radioactive lethality especially in, but not restricted to, Ukraine and Belarus. Western countries continue to reflect an under-estimation of casualties by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

IAEA’s figures top off at 4000 fatalities since 1986 that is highly questionable given IAEA’s conflict of interest between its role of promoting nuclear power and monitoring its safety. An agreement between the IAEA and the World Health Organization (WHO) provides for WHO’s deference to IAEA’s casualty figures which has compromised WHO’s priority of advancing health in the world. The United Nations naturally adopts the IAEA figures and the West’s nuclear regulatory agencies, similarly committed to promotional functions, ditto these under-estimations.

The position that the level of mortality and morbidity from Chernobyl over the past quarter century is much larger comes from a compendious of 5000 scientific studies, mostly in the Slavic languages edited by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko titled Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment. (Read it online here: ) Dr. Yablokov, a biologist, is a member of the prestigious Russian Academy of Sciences. The translated edition was published under the auspices of the New York Academy of Sciences.

At a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on March 25, 2011, attended by C-SPAN, CNN and independent media, but not the mainstream media, Dr. Yablokov summarized these studies and estimated the death toll over nearly twenty five years at about one million and mounting.

Because of the mainstream media, including the major newspapers, blackout on the Yablokov report since its translated edition came out in 2009, I asked Dr. Yablokov this question at the news conference:

“Dr. Yablokov, you are a distinguished scientist in your country, as reflected in your membership in the Russian Academy of Sciences, what has been the response to your report by corporate scientists, regulatory agency scientists and academic scientists in the West? Did they openly agree in whole or in part or did they disagree in whole or in part or were they just silent?”

Academician Yablokov replied that the compilation of these many reports has been met with silence. He added that science means critical engagement with the data and implied that silence was not an appropriate response from the scientific community.

Silence, of course, is not without its purpose. For to engage, whether to rebut, doubt or affirm, would give visibility to this compendium of scientific studies that upsets the fantasy modeling by the nuclear industry and its apologists regarding the worse case scenario damage of a level 7 or worse meltdown. It would require, for example, more epidemiological studies ranging into Western Europe, such as the current review of 330 hill farms in Wales. It would insistently invite more studies of the current health and casualty data involving the 800,000 liquidators—workers passing through since 1986 who have been exposed in and around the continuing emergency efforts at the very hot disabled Chernobyl reactor. And much more.

Public silence has not excluded a sub silentio oral campaign to delegitimize the Yablokov compendium. A quiet grapevine of general dismissals—unavailable for public comment or rebuttal—has cooled members of the press and other potential disseminators of its contents, including the National Academy of Sciences, the science advisers to the President and any other thinking scientists who decide that there isn’t enough time or invulnerability to justify getting into a contentious interaction over the Yablokov report.

The ability of corporate science and its regulatory apologists to inflict sanctions on dissenters is legion. There is a long history of censorship leading to self-censorship by those who otherwise might have applied Alfred North Whitehead’s characterization of science as “keeping open options for revision” to the ideology of atomic power.

I call for an open rigorous public scientific-medical debate on the findings and casualty estimates of the Yablokov report, to determine its usefulness for necessary programs of compensation, quarantine, accelerated protective entombment of the still dangerous reactor, and expanded studies of the past and continuing ravages issuing from this catastrophe and its recycling of radioactivity through the soil, air, water and food of the exposed regions. Such a public review is what the science adviser to the President and the National Academy of Sciences should have done already and should do now. The continuing expansion of the Fukishima disaster in Japan provides additional urgency for this open scientific review.

Stripmining America, unpatriotically

In the Public Interest By Ralph Nader

It is time to apply the standard of patriotism to the U.S. multinational corporations and demand that they pledge allegiance to the United States and “the Republic for which is stands…. with liberty and justice for all.” This July 4, 2011 would be good day for Americans to demand such a corporate commitment.

Born and chartered in the U.S.A., these corporations rose to their giant size on the backs of American workers and vast taxpayer-subsidized research and development handouts. When they got into trouble, whether through mismanagement or corruption, these companies rushed to Washington, D.C. for bailouts from American taxpayers. When some were challenged in foreign lands, the U.S. marines came to their rescue, as depicted decades ago by two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Marine General Smedley Butler.

So what is their message to America and its workers now? It is not gratitude or loyalty. It is “we’re outta here, with your jobs and industries” to dictatorial or oligarchic regimes abroad, such as China, that know how to keep their impoverished, and abused workers under control.

Note that these company bosses have no compunction replacing U.S. workers with serf-labor, but they never replace themselves with bi-lingual executives from China, India and elsewhere who are willing to work for one-tenth or less of the huge pay packages executives get from their rubber-stamp boards of directors in the U.S.

Just this week, the Wall Street Journal headlined “Big U.S. Firms Shift Hiring Abroad.” Veteran reporter, David Wessel writes:

“U.S. multinational corporations, the big brand-name companies that employ a fifth of all American workers, have been hiring abroad while cutting back at home, sharpening the debate over globalization’s effect on the U.S. economy. The companies cut their work forces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million, new data from the U.S. Commerce Department show.”

While Mr. Wessel acknowledges that other economies, especially in Asia, are growing rapidly, he noted that “The data also underscore the vulnerability of the U.S. economy, particularly at a time when unemployment is high and wages aren’t increasing.”

Keep in mind that, while receiving all the public services, subsidies and protections in this country, large corporations have been abandoning America by shifting jobs overseas and by making our country perilously and unnecessarily dependent on foreign governments that naturally put their own interests first.

For example, the drug companies no longer have any plant in the U.S. to manufacture essential raw ingredients for important antibiotics like penicillin. In 2004, Bristol-Myers Squibb closed the last such factory in East Syracuse, N.Y. The drug industry always made lots of money here. One of every two Americans are on a prescription medicine. But the pharmaceutical companies want to make more so they have moved their production to Asia.

In 2009, The New York Times reported that “the critical ingredients for most antibiotics are now made almost exclusively in China and India. The same is true for dozens of other crucial medicines, including the popular allergy medicine prednisone; metformin, for diabetes; and amlodipine, for high blood pressure.

This flight to Asia raises serious questions. Senator Sherrod Brown (Dem. Ohio) held hearings because he accurately believed that “the lack of regulation around outsourcing is a blind spot that leaves room for supply disruptions, counterfeit medicines, even bioterrorism.”

Industrial scale production of Penicillin was developed by the U.S. war production board in World War II and many drug companies made it in U.S. plants, until the Chinese government lured the industry there with many freebies and weak safety regulations. A few years ago 95 Americans died from a Chinese produced counterfeit ingredient in the drug heparin, an anticlotting drug needed for surgery and dialysis.

As Belgium drug industry consultant, Enrico Polastro, told The New York Times: “If China ever got very upset with President Obama, it could be a big problem.” The Times concluded: “So for now, like it or not, China has the upper hand.”

Who gave China that dominant position? U.S. multinational drug companies, who along with other big U.S. companies, pushed through Congress, with Bill Clinton’s support, ratification of both NAFTA’s and the World Trade Organization’s “pull down” trade agreements. They created the very globalized structure that they now claim they are beholden to in order to meet the global competition. Clever, aren’t they?

Other unpatriotic acts include the oil companies who, despite being given a rich oil depletion tax allowance to invest in energy in the U.S., invested in oil production overseas. The U.S. is now dependent on foreign sources for most of its petroleum. Don’t forget the military-industrial giants that thrive on U.S. military expansion abroad and sell modern weapons to many dictatorial regimes which they use to oppress their people and endanger our own national security.

U.S. multinationals that export jobs abroad, show too little regard for our country, or to the U.S. communities that sustained them for decades. Greedy corporate lobbyists continue to press for more privileges and immunities, over those held by real humans, so as to be less accountable under U.S. law for corporate crimes and other mis-behaviors.

If U.S. companies continue to expand their rights of personhood through U.S. Supreme Court’s political decisions (eg. the latest being the notorious 5 to 4 Citizens United case opening up the floodgates of corporate cash against or for electoral candidates), then, they should be judged as “persons” and evaluated for their loyalty to their country of creation.

Since corporations are clearly “artificial” entities and not real human beings, narrower civil liberties standards can be applied to the impersonal and massive concentrations of power, capital and technology known as corporations

Independence Day July 4th presents an opportunity for a national attention to the need for calling out these runaway corporate giants who exploit for profit the patriotic sensibilities of Americans, but decline to be held any patriotic expectations or values.

Readers interested in joining such an effort for July 4, 2011 contact

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pretty amazing video ...

This video was reportedly filmed earlier this month from the top of one of Spain's highest mountains. The detail of the stars is pretty amazing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

May 2011 Top 30 Noise chart

Reporting: 14 different radio stations and Internet programs

1. The Rudds – Get The Femuline Hang On
2. J. Mascis – Several Shades of Why
3. Freezepop – Imaginary Friends
4. The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh
5. Soft Pyramids – Electric Scenes EP
6. Streight Angular – Alright EP
7. Faces on Film – Some Weather
8. The Longwalls – Careers in Science EP
9. The Bynars – The Bynars
10. Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions
11. The Lights Out – Primetime
12. Battle House – Some Sleep
13. Bodega Girls - Et Tu, Bootay?
14. Buffalo Tom – Skins
15. David Wax Museum – Everything is Saved
16. Hallelujah the Hills “ Country Before Kings”
17. Hooray for Earth – True Loves
18. Mean Creek – Hemophiliac EP/”The Comedian”
19. Mount Peru – My Sweetheart The Destroyer
20. The Sheila Devine – “The Innocents”
21. Viva Viva – Viva Viva
22. Pond Scum – Pond Scum
23. The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library – Volume 1
24. Audrey Ryan – Thick Skin
25. Brendan Boogie – “I Hate New York”
26. The Cinnamon Fuzz – Cruise of the Century EP
27. Gene Dante & the Future Starlets “The Love Letter Is Dead”
28. Spirit Kid – Spirit Kid
29. Ad Frank & the Fast Easy Women – Your Secrets Are Mine Now
30. Penis Fly Trap – Triple Suicide

Monday, April 18, 2011

Waiting for the spark ...

In the Public Interest By Ralph Nader

What could start a popular resurgence in this country against the abuses of concentrated, avaricious corporatism? Imagine the arrogance of passing on to already cheated working people and the jobless enormous corporate losses? This is achieved through government bailouts and tax escapes.

History teaches us that the spark usually is smaller than expected and of a nature that is wholly unpredictable or even unimaginable. But if the dry tinder is all around, as many deprivations and polls reveal, the spark, no matter how small, can turn into a raging inferno.

The Boston Tea Party lit up the American Revolution. Storming the hated Bastille (prison) by impoverished Parisians launched the French Revolution. More recently, in December 1997, an Israeli military vehicle rammed a civilian van in the West Bank killing seven occupants and igniting the first Intifada.

Last December, a young fruit vendor, abused by thieving police in a small Tunisian town, immolated himself in the local square. Seen by millions on Facebook, this self-sacrifice launched the Tunisian and Egyptian overthrow of their long-time dictators. Later, in Syria, after police arrested 13 youngsters in a southern border town for anti-government graffiti the place erupted in riots and rallies that are spreading to other cities.

A few weeks ago, many progressives and quite a few pundits believed that the recurrent, ever larger February-March rallies in Madison, Wisconsin by workers, students and others against the Governors’ and the Legislature’s attack on public employee unions and social services, following earlier blatant corporate welfare enactments, would be the long-awaited spark.

The Madison eruption spread briefly to Ohio and Indiana where Republican officials were moving in the same direction, punishing workers and families while leaving the corporate and wealthy to count their mounting privileges. There, the crowds were neither as large nor as frequent. In all these states, the Republicans got most of what they wanted, albeit with a possible, future political price to be paid. The rallies have subsided, not even culminating—as some organizers hoped—in a gigantic march on Washington, D.C.

Granted, rallying a long repressed people into losing their fear and demanding, as in Cairo’s huge Tahrir Square “out with the dictator”, is a simple, anthromorphic goal. In our country, the rallies are hardly as clearcut, though use of the citizen right of recall for Republican legislators, and later Governor Walker himself, may produce an interesting accountability election. But sparks are difficult to sustain.

In authoritarian regimes, there are few options for dissent or airing one’s grievances. So when the spark does occur, the climate is fertile for an explosion of outrages.

In the United States, there are largely myths such as “anyone can sue,” or “anyone can run,” or “anyone can directly tell off the President or the Mayor,” or “anyone can blow the whistle.” These combine with a few celebrated successes by rebels or an ordinary David taking on a Goliath for a win here and there, from a corporate-government ruling class that bends a little so that it doesn’t break.

Meanwhile, the inequality, gouging, political exclusions and overall gaps between the top one percent and the rest tighten the grip of the oligarchy and its draining, violent militarized empire.

Loss of control over almost everything that matters, including their children to daily direct corporate marketing of junk food and violent programming, is rampant. Over seventy percent of those polled told Business Week that they believed corporations had “too much control over their lives”—and that was in 2000 before conditions and controls—viz, the Wall Street collapse, severe recession and taxpayer bailouts—worsened.

The American people don’t see much they can do to counter the pressures of greed and power that tracks them daily from debt to debt, from lower standards of living to outright penury, from denial of critical healthcare to the iron collar of the cruel credit score, from inscrutable, computerized bills to fine-print contracts trapping their sense of unfairness into waves of frustrations, from being put on hold by the companies until they’re told no, no, no or penalty, penalty, penalty!

How do we break the cycle of despair, exclusion, powerlessness, and endless betrayal by those given the authority to bring down the exploiters and oppressors to lawful accountability?

The Empire rips up the Constitution and takes the reserve army of the young unemployed to kill and die in aggressive wars of the White House’s choice, with Congress watching from the sidelines; its only role to funnel trillions of tax dollars into the insatiable war machine’s unauditable budgets. President Eisenhower wanted us to control the “military-industrial complex”. Instead it grew much more out of control. Eisenhower’s grave warning as expressed in his farewell address in 1961 was prescient.

The spark can come from a recurrent sequence of abuses that strike a special chord of deeply felt injustice. Or it could be a unique episode or bullying that tolls the feeling “enough already” throughout the land. Such sparks cannot be manufactured; the power to arouse and break people’s routines is spontaneous.

When that moment comes, millions of Americans whose self-respect and keen sense of wrong will remind them precisely why our Constitution begins with “We the People” and not “We the Corporations”. They will realize the necessity for a Jeffersonian revolution.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Taking Progressives for Granted

In The Public Interest By Ralph Nader

When liberals and progressives have nowhere to go, New York’s new Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo can move toward the corporatist-right of the political spectrum with impunity. Brandishing an inherited $10 billion state deficit, Cuomo has earned the following description in the April 7th edition of The New York Times:

“He has clashed with unions, who he believes have helped drive the state toward bankruptcy. He has been praised by prominent conservatives like Sarah Palin and Rudolph W. Giuliani. And he has taken thousands of dollars in campaign money from the New York billionaire David H. Koch, who with his family has helped finance the Tea Party movement….

“The man who began public life advocating for homeless people won passage of a state budget that makes steep cuts to schools, health care and social services. In a year when Wall Street posted record profits, Mr. Cuomo finally rejected a politically popular income tax surcharge on the wealthy.”

Praised by the Wall Street Journal and the republican raptor, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who calls Andrew Cuomo “my soul mate,” the son of moral vision orator, former Governor Mario Cuomo, is on a roll unchallenged by his fellow Democrats and the media. Using the deficit—which is far less per capita than Connecticut’s deficit—he revels in being “Cuomo the cutter”: “I am a realist… Forget the philosophy. Here are the numbers.”

Mr. Cuomo picks his numbers so that the cuts fall on the lower economic classes, the powerless along with the reviled public employee unions. Granted, there is waste fraud or ineffectiveness in many social service programs, but Governor Cuomo is cutting the programs indiscriminately without cutting them by squeezing out the waste and eliminating ineffective programs directly.

What results is that the wasteful practitioners know how to fight to preserve their programs better than the efficient ones do. The former have allies like well-connected corporate vendors with their procurement contracts.

But there is a more blatant misfocus by Cuomo. It is his fear of Wall Street whose crooks, speculators and self-enrichment pros collapsed the economy, looting or draining savings and pensions in 2008-2009 leading to much unemployment and many closed businesses that, through the loss of tax revenue, expanded the state deficit. He refuses even to speak about holding these spoiled, back-to-business-as-usual financial giants responsible.

On the contrary he is rejecting an extension of the tax surcharge on New Yorkers and residing foreigners who make over $200,000 dollars in income a year, which expires this December. It is so much easier to tax the faceless masses. Already, lower income New Yorkers pay a slightly higher percentage of their income in all taxes imposed than do the wealthy. Regressive!

It gets worse. During his campaign for Governor, Mr. Cuomo refused to even contemplate keeping the $14 billion (some estimate higher amounts) a year that the state collects from a century-old stock transfer tax, but instantly rebates, what is really a sales tax, back to the stock brokers. New York used to keep this tax revenue until the early Eighties, when Wall Street pressure finally prevailed. Green Party candidate for Governor, Howie Hawkins, during a public debate argued that keeping these revenues would eliminate the deficit and prevent the reduction of necessary programs. On that stage, Mr. Cuomo refused to engage. Mum’s the word on Wall Street’s fair share.

Cuomo calls himself “a progressive Democrat who’s broke.” A progressive Democrat would push for sacrifice at the wealthy top and work down if necessary. Many of the wealthy derived their billions and millions from many favored policies like tax leniency and other privileges and immunities including violation of the law (some of whom Cuomo pursued as Attorney General.)

After all corporate lobbyists work hard to produce many layers of favoritism, including selling products and services to the state government, that are as profitable as they are often wasteful. Consider, for example, the immense gouging in the outsourcing of CityTime—a large ongoing contract to computerize the New York City payroll (

The costs of health care reflect big time fraud in billing practices. Should a Governor just cut benefits across the board—stranding indigent patients to suffer or die—or should he crack down on the cheating and stealing that too many vendors have refined to perfection?

To be sure it is quicker to slice arbitrarily, but there is no indication that key cost-beneficial law enforcement budgets against business crime are going to increase on Governor Cuomo’s watch.

Mr. Cuomo did relent on one budget provision, which would have enriched the hospital and insurance lobbies placing a lifetime $250,000 cap on serious baby injuries from malpractice. That was too much to defend by this “progressive Democrat” in Albany. Credit the Center for Justice and Democracy for urging that good deed (

How far will elected Democrats from the White House on down go in capitulating to the insatiable corporate dominators if their liberal/progressive base continues to signal that they politically have nowhere to go? These voters seem to have few visible breaking points on the dark horizon of over-reaching corporatism.

Campaigns & Elections magazine sold

From the inbox:

Friday, April 15 2011 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Campaigns & Elections Magazine Acquired

Political Holdings Limited US, Inc., an affiliated company of Biteback Media which publishes Total Politics in the UK, has purchased Campaigns & Elections. The magazine remains the only nonpartisan publication for the rapidly growing political campaign and public affairs industry and conducts a series of leading political training seminars throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
Shane Greer, Executive Editor of Total Politics and President of Political Holdings, will serve as Publisher.
Jordan Lieberman, former Campaigns & Elections Publisher, and current Managing Director of CampaignGrid, has been named Editor-at-Large. Jordan will manage the transition, focusing on editorial quality and driving forward the development of Campaigns & Elections’ already market-leading events program.

Campaigns & Elections will remain true to its long history of educating, informing, entertaining, and connecting members the political campaign community, public affairs industry and the politically engaged. Lieberman explains: “I grew up with Campaigns & Elections. Throughout my career it’s always been there as an educator, an innovator and a connector. It’s the house magazine for anyone and everyone engaged in the business of political campaigns and public affairs. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be involved in this next part of the magazine’s story. And I’m delighted to see the title under the control of a publisher who understands politics and understands the world of political consulting.”
All DC-based Campaigns & Elections staff will remain, including James O’Brien, Associate Publisher, Molly Hock, Director of Business Operations, Kate O’Connor, Event Development Associate, Megan Simpson, Associate Director of Political Programs. Additionally, Daniel Weiss, Managing Editor, and Noah Rothman, Online Editor, have been retained on the editorial team.

Greer and Lieberman announced that Campaigns & Elections will continue to be based in Washington, DC. Greer explained: “DC is home to politics and its home to Campaigns & Elections. That’s not going to change.”
Remarking on Greer’s role, Lieberman said: “Shane understands Campaigns & Elections, we worked together when I was Publisher. He understands its history, he understands its purpose and he understands its place in the community it serves. I look forward to working with Shane and to ensuring Campaigns & Elections’ maintains its historic position as the go-to publication for the political campaigns

Friday, April 15, 2011

Personal day today ...

I decided to take a personal day from work today, the first one in like forever, to do some family stuff. Spent the morning with my youngest, baking a cake, playing around, watching Max & Ruby, and having lunch.
Later, I'll be checking out my eldest son's school play. Can't wait to see it. Such fun. :-)
It's been a good day to decompress. Got a lot on the mind and I'm going to try not to do any work over the weekend. Of course that means that Monday will be a train wreck, but whatever ... There's a lot going on so I will try and post some new comments during the weekend. Or maybe I will blow that off too. LOL. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Graydon Carter delusion

I love Vanity Fair magazine. I have some spats with it every once in a while and, sometimes, I let the subscription lapse. For the most part, I've enjoyed its journalism. It is worth the $12 to $15 a year I spend on the magazine.
However, its editor, Graydon Carter, can really drive me bonkers sometimes, especially when he completely mangles the facts. Of course, that is an editor's privilege to be able to choose which facts you want to admit to when making a point. Every editor is guilty of that ... it's part of the job. However, Carter has a tendency to do this each and every month, over and over and over again.
While I was against the Iraq invasion and didn't vote for or ever support George W. Bush, it got so that I almost canceled my subscription because I was really sick and tired of reading his rants about W. I didn't, in the end. Instead, I just didn't read the Editor's Letter. Maybe that is the solution to the future after reading this month's Editor's Letter.
Carter published this for the May edition: ["The 1 Percent Dissolution"].
Let me preface my comments by saying that I hate the fact that my commentary about taxes looks as if I'm defending or protecting the super rich with words. They don't need my protection. And no, I'm not super rich. That is not the point of my commentary.
My points are about what the best solutions are to the federal government problem. And it is a problem. Simply put, again, neither political party has a lock on the truth or the answers. The solutions are about both the role of government and helping those in need. The solutions are about reducing the size of the federal government, in order to reduce the deficit and debt, and then coming up with a revenue stream to pay for that structure that is fair and equitable.
Income - the fruit of one's labor - should be taxed as little as possible. Period. Personally, I don't have a problem with taxing unearned income higher than earned income. I believe in transaction taxes on Wall Street and sensible corporate taxes that charge every business a minimum tax, without deductions. I also believe in tariffs on imports too. So that's where I come down on things, generalizing as simply as possible. In other words, I'm not a tax-cutting right-wing nut.
In his letter this month, he writes the following:
Cohen and Kudlow are prime examples of the danger of trying to live in your own socio-economic comfort bubble and wanting to have a public voice at the same time.
So is reading the Carter Editor's Letter each month too. Look in the mirror buddy. And, while you're at it, why don't you venture outside your Manhattan to Los Angeles axis to find out what is going on in the real world sometime. Vanity Fair's journalism will be a lot better for it.
Noting that Larry Kudlow used to work for BearStearns a quarter of a century ago, Carter writes:
Today, the top 1 percent of Americans takes in twice as much of the country’s income as it did then—nearly 25 percent. And, incredibly, the richest 1 percent now controls 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.
OK, yes, that's true. But Carter, they also pay 40 percent of the income taxes right now too. Or, did you not Google long enough to figure that stat out? Yes, dear readers, it's true: "The rich get richer, The poor get the picture, The bombs never hit you when you're down so low," as Midnight Oil used to sing. However, the rich also already pay 40 percent of the income taxes now. How much more is enough? Forty-five percent? Fifty? How about just take it all? Well, if you take it all, the federal government still won't have enough money. Taking every penny the rich people make will only cover one-fourth of the FY10 federal budget. In other words, the federal government is just too big.
Carter writes:
History, [Stiglitz] says, has not been kind to societies so heavily skewed toward the rich. When wealth is concentrated in a small group, so is power—and power is almost invariably used to keep that wealth concentrated in those few soft hands. The result? Investment in education and infrastructure dries up. Laws meant to level the playing field are changed to make it tilt. A sense of national common purpose slowly, and then quickly, erodes.
Well, it's true about power corrupting and absolute power absolutely corrupting. As well, as Thomas Jefferson wrote: "I may err in my measures, but never shall deflect from the intention to fortify the public liberty by every possible means, and to put it out of the power of the few to riot on the labors of the many." Which is why Jefferson wrote to John Adams, years before, about the need for rebellion from time to time. However, where does Carter get off challenging that education and infrastructure are being starved? In what world?
As noted by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and many other organizations and studies of public education expenses in the United States, during the last 30 years, spending has increased by 61 percent above inflation (doubled in actual spending) without any clear, positive results of a similar increase in student achievement. So, if funding has increased by 61 percent above inflation or even doubled, how is "investment in education" drying up? Well, it's not. It's a flat out lie.
Let's look at infrastructure. While Carter has said that funding has dried up, the exact opposite is true.
Since 1956, spending on infrastructure as determined by the Congressional Budget Office - meaning roads, bridges, schools, utility pipelines, etc. - has increased by 300 percent. On roads and water pipelines alone, the increase was nearly 500 percent. It is true that as a percentage of the gross domestic product, infrastructure has decreased from 1.6 percent to 1.2 percent during the same time period. But that is only because the size of the federal budget and the economy has grown significantly during the last 60 years thereby making the percentage of GDP smaller. But in actual dollar amounts, no, Carter, infrastructure has not dried up either. Another lie.
I guess, one would ask, when does someone write an editor's note about Carter completely lying about the facts? From now on, let's just call it "The Graydon Carter delusion," a dangerous thing when you live inside your own bubble of Northeastern liberalism (instead of classic American liberalism) and have control of a multimillion dollar magazine. I'll keep buying Vanity Fair magazine but, instead, vent a little, about its delusional editor.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

OMW! It's Iggy Pop!!

And I can't believe Pia lost. She was the best one the other night. Oh well.

Enjoying "American Idol" ...

Yes, I admit it, I'm getting sucked into the vortex that is "American Idol" once again. And, yes, I will admit that it is not my fault since wifey has the television on and wants to watch it anyway.
But seriously, as someone who worked (or attempted to "work") in the "music business," it is a fun waste of a couple of hours a week when your brain is already pretty fried.
And even though we have only watched it for a few years now, this crop of young people are really very talented and all quite diverse in their presentations. I mean, they have the cool cat Jewish guy with the upright bass, the hot South American immigrant with an even hotter voice, the black guy who is a little giddy and swishy and has the most amazing pipes in the world, the white boy rocker with Tourettes Syndrome and a tremendous heartbreak sob story, the deep southern country and Italian crooners who the girls scream for, etc., I mean, these folks are all real melting pot Americans, not just cookie-cutter Hollywood pretty faces with a little talent.
Steve Tyler from Aerosmith has moved on from his initial perv moments analyzing all of the hot stock coming through the door during the initial tryouts to actually giving good advice, commending the performers and even, strangely, thanking them, when he is so moved by what they're doing with their voices.
Not everything in life is serious and intellectual. And when you consider some of insane and inane programming on television these days - I mean, I hardly watch anything other than the news - the drama and fun of "American Idol" is nice to have, even for a moment or two.
That all said, I think Jacob Lusk (said giddy black guy) is going to win. We'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The reason NH has a budget "crisis" ...

Finally, finally, somebody said it: ["Radical? Extremist? Ignorant? Not me!"].
I don't know this state representative, but I certainly hope he doesn't get unelected for doing the right thing. Simply put, this is why New Hampshire has a state budget "crisis":
In the last four years, the Democrats increased the New Hampshire budget by about $2.5 billion - an increase of almost 30 percent.
This is correct. The budget increased almost 17 percent in two years and another 11 or 12 in the next two years (we budget biennially here).
The inflation rate during that time period was about 8 percent. In other words, the state budget increased nearly four times the rate of inflation when the Democrats controlled the Legislature. And we didn't vote them in to do that! We voted the Democrats control of the Legislature in 2006 to be fiscally responsible and because we were mad at the Republicans for wasting billions in those stupid, unneeded wars.
This absurd increase was funded by over 80 increased taxes and fees and was made on the backs of the majority of hardworking New Hampshire residents during a major recession. Any board of selectmen or CEO would be fired for such an absurd increase. And those who voted for the absurd increase were fired - that is how I got elected.
That's right. Many of us, including me, split our tickets in 2010. I only voted for one of the four Democrats running for the Legislature this year (I voted for one Republican, who didn't win, and blanked the rest. I did, however, cast votes for Democrats Gov. Lynch and Kuster for Congress, and would again). That person has, regretfully, voted against this budget and voted for broad-based taxes. He also voted for the LLC tax that would have hit us supposed "rich" people for $850 we don't have. I continue to vote for this representative because he is a good man and supports other good things. But he is wrong on this issue.
Listen to Gov. John Lynch's state-of-the-state address in 2006 and 2008, as he discusses how well New Hampshire is doing and how highly we are ranked. Then think of how, after the $750 million cut takes effect, we will still be spending $1.75 billion more than four years ago.
Again, we are in the middle of a major crisis here. We are overspending. We can't implement an income or sales tax because it will hurt working families, renters, the poor, and the elderly. Period. It's not a solution. Don't believe the hype and the lies. The Democrats in our Legislature overspent and now, the Republicans are in there trying to fix things. Maybe they have gone too far. That remains to be seen. But something has to be done and this is a good place to start.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Quick note to readers, old and new ...

Hey everyone, thanks for reading and participating. I appreciate it.
I apologize in advance for not always keeping things updated and fresh. But clearly, at least trying to update things, is paying off a bit since there has been a nice uptick in traffic of late (there have been more posts in March and April than there were in January and February, for example; there are more followers than there were just a few months ago, etc.).
As well, on two different occasions in the last year or so, readers have used some of my comments and work in college papers and others things that they have later sourced online (It’s a bit difficult to track but some folks are nice enough to do thorough sourcing, which is kinda cool).
At the same time, I have been given more responsibility at work (they've given me a second paper to co-edit) so I don't have a ton of time to write about my personal and political observations. Obviously, with 2012 coming up - shouldn't it be here already? - I'll need to put the pedal to the metal a bit as well as doing my best to keep things fresh and up-to-date.
One thing I have done is shut off the comment filter so your comments will be posted immediately after you write them. I don't know why I had the filter on in the first place. I think it was just always on and I never bothered to shut it off. The site has never had a need to filter comments. In fact, I think I have more comments on posts now than ever before, and I thank you all for that. It's just always been that way, I think (a quick look through shows that I really get heavier traffic during election season but not a lot of posts). Everyone who has commented here has been really cool so there isn't any need to filter the comments, I don't think.
As you all know from reading, I'm very interested in deep public policy thinking and commonsense ideas, at the same time. I know, that's a bit weird, but whatever .... Please though, if you see anything along the road of life, please take the time to share it with me and Politizine readers. Since I don't come at things from a left or right perspective, Politizine is a bit different than most political blogs. But I really do enjoy absorbing information and thinking about things. Maybe I think about things too much, I don't know. I haven't found the "mind shut-off" pill yet ... have you?
Thanks again everyone for reading and participating.

A fool and his money are easily parted, Part 2

Clearly, some people, have too much money on their pockets: ["Michele Bachmann tops Mitt Romney in fundraising"].
But Rep. Michele Bachmann will burn through it for them ... BTW, people aren't giving a ton of money to Mitt because he has scads of it. Sure, some true believers will give him money. He'll raise millions, when he runs, just like he did last time. But they know he will bankroll a good portion of his campaign to remain competitive.
I still can't believe Bachmann is on the House Intelligence Committee. Good grief!

A fool and his money are easily parted, Part 1

Detroit Rock City this ain't, it would seem: ["Charlie Sheen show sputters in Motor City"].

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nader: Open Letter to President Obama on the Nomination of Elizabeth Warren

This letter was sent out to Ralph Nader's email list. Since we publish his columns and I completely agree with him here, I decided to post the email.

Dear President Obama:

An interesting contrast is playing out at the White House these days—between your expressed praise of General Electric’s CEO, Jeffrey R. Immelt and the silence regarding the widely desired nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Regulatory Bureau within the Federal Reserve.

On one hand, you promptly appointed Mr. Immelt to be the chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitive, while letting him keep his full time lucrative position as CEO of General Electric (The Corporate State Expands). At the announcement, you said that Mr. Immelt “understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy.”

Did you mean that he understands how to avoid all federal income taxes for his company’s $14.2 billion in profits last year, while corralling a $3.2 billion benefit? Or did you mean that he understands how to get a federal bailout for GE Capital and its reckless exposure to risky debt? Or could you have meant that GE knows how to block unionization of its far flung workers here and abroad? Perhaps Mr. Immelt can share with you GE’s historical experience with lucrative campaign contributions, price-fixing, pollution and those nuclear reactors that are giving people fits in Japan and worrying millions of Americans here living or working near similar reactors.

Compare, if you will, the record of Elizabeth Warren and her acutely informed knowledge about delivering justice to those innocents harmed by injustice in the financial services industry. A stand-up Law Professor at your alma mater, author of highly regarded articles and books connecting knowledge to action, the probing Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) and now in the Treasury Department working intensively to get the CFRB underway by the statutory deadline this July with competent, people-oriented staff.

There were many good reasons why Senate leader Harry Reid (Dem. Nevada) called Professor Warren and asked her to be his choice for Chair of COP. Hailing from an Oklahoman blue collar family, Professor Warren is just the “working class hero” needed to make the new Bureau a sober, law and order enforcer, deterrer and empowerer of consumers vis-à-vis the companies whose enormous greed, recklessness and crimes tanked our economy into a deep recession. The consequences produced 8 million unemployed workers and shattered trillions of dollars in pensions and other savings along with the dreams which they embodied for American workers.

Much more than you perhaps realize, millions of people, who have heard and seen Elizabeth Warren, rejoice in her brainy, heartfelt knowledge and concern over their plight. They see her as just the kind of regulator (federal cop on the beat) for their legitimate interests in a more competitive marketplace who you should be overjoyed in nominating.

Yet there are corporate forces from Wall Street to Washington determined to derail her nomination—forces with their avaricious hooks into the Republicans on Capitol Hill and the corporatists in the Treasury and White House.

You have obliged these forces again and again over the last two years, most recently with the appointment of William M. Daley, recently of Wall Street, as your chief of staff.

How about one nomination for the People? The accolades on hearing the news of Elizabeth Warren’s nomination may actually exceed the enduring indignation were she not to be nominated. Just feed the Senate Republicans to the mass media that would cover the nomination hearings, all that calm, solid, wisdom and humanity that she communicates without peer. See who prevails.

Selecting Elizabeth Warren and backing her fully though the nomination process will always be remembered by Americans across the land. Not doing so will not be forgotten by those same persons. This is another way of saying she has the enthusiastic constituency of “hope and change”—that is “change you can believe in!”*

I look forward with many others to your response.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

PO Box 19312
Washington D.C., 20036

*If you doubt this observation and would like to see one million Americans on a petition favoring her selection, ask us and see how long that would take.

The destruction of perfectly good historic buildings

Some folks don't know that I also have a blog that covers things going on in Concord, N.H. I, unfortunately, don't have a ton of time to spend on the blog. Between work and family, I'm pretty busy. However, when I can whip something for the site, I do.
Here are two links to the destruction of perfectly good, structurally sound, historic school buildings in our city:

New Hampshire taxpayers should note that, yes, you're paying for this destruction, since the state is funding part of the $120 million elementary school consolidation scheme that will reduce Concord's elementary schools from eight to four, warehousing all of our young children into monstrous modern buildings.
I could go on and on and on about why this is so horrible. However, the pictures really do speak for themselves.