Friday, April 30, 2010

Jesse Cornett For Portland Council

Sorry folks, I know squat about Portland local politics and I excuse that by having 350 miles and a huge population difference for my disinterest. I do know Jesse Cornett.

What I know about Jesse is that he is a straight forward sort who is smart and has good ideas and a willingness to think about them rather than knee jerk. Since I can't responsibly talk about Portland politics what you're getting is a personal rather than political endorsement. I'm only making this my business out of respect for Jesse. You can take that for what value you like, but I don't stick my oar in for small reason and I think Jesse is worth it.

Oil And Water

Many years ago, in the late '70s I worked for Chevron Oil Refinery in Richmond, Ca on the Long Wharf running pumping stations. The name is accurate; thanks to the shallowness of the San Francisco Bay the docks are about a mile from shore. This road is lined with pipes leading from the dockside pumping stations to storage tanks. The job involved off loading crude or loading lighter products for ships, large volumes with numbers that would amaze the unacquainted - all done over water.

A refinery is a smelly and dangerous place to work where mistakes or failures have huge consequences. Chevron at the time paid high wages with good benefits and demanded performance, for understandable reasons. I was paid good money to train for weeks to do a job that primarily involved watching things happen. Any product at all that got into the water was to be immediately reported and every system was designed and used to prevent such a thing from happening. Chevron owned its own fleet of boats to take care of and prevent bad things from getting out of hand.

What you need to understand from the above is that implicit in all the training and equipment is the idea that something bad is going to happen. Booms, absorbents, dispersal chemicals, boats, fire equipment, and breathing apparatus weren't everywhere because nothing bad was ever going to happen. The company made the assumption that something bad could happen and needed to be accounted for as much as possible while doing something hazardous. It is not rocket science to understand that if something bad can happen it probably will and this is what BP apparently failed to understand in the Gulf.

What the public does not seem to understand is that all bits that come from oil is present in the stuff that comes out of the ground. The stuff that comes out of the ground ranges from nasty gummy goo to vapors that will explode with small cause. The butane in a lighter to the rubber on the road in your tires is all there and it is a dangerous mix and there are also substances that are extremely toxic to the touch much less any form of ingestion. Simple static electricity generated by the motion of crude is a huge danger. Keeping oxygen away from that process is key, it takes a fairly narrow range of mixture of crude byproducts and air for them to explode or ignite but you're dealing with a bomb and that is just one of a slew of problems areas. Something can happen and given enough repetitions of action will happen and we do a lot of this.

At some point virtually every part of a system is subject to failure, it is one of the risks of doing any damn thing at all or even being alive. Because everything done or not done contains within it the seeds of failure there is inherent risk and that is what must be measured. You measure the risk of doing something and how to contain the failures and within that measuring is the cost and reward of taking an action. It certainly looks as though BP and the regulation system managed serious mis-measuring in this case.

The US needs oil, that is simply true. All crude is not equal, it is not composed of the same mixes of components and a great deal of N American crude is of the highest value type and that makes a huge difference in refining crude and what you get from it. What is now obvious is that there are serious risks to getting it from deep water and huge consequences for not properly accounting for those risks. It is not nearly as simple as the McCain/Palin "Drill, baby drill," slogan and propagating such a notion points up the abject stupidity of those propagandists.

I'm quite aware that the US cannot drill its way into oil independence or even have a large impact on its supply needs but... We need crude oil and we need high grade crude and we have some and we will go after it because we need it and have it. A desire to be ecologically correct or energy independent or to have alternative energy sources does not make it fact. A wish in one hand and kaaka in the other leaves you what?

This country has spent a good period of time running on wishes and not on hard headed analysis from tax policy, foreign policy, to resource policy. We have engaged in massive stupid attacks based on wishful thinking. We cannot grow gasoline and lubricants in any reasonable amounts without huge dislocations in food supplies much less in energy expenditures any more than we can cut federal income and magically make up the difference. Illegal immigration is not cured by magical thinking and the Middle East won't become a stable and reasonable place by praying for it. We need oil and we need to make accurate assessments of how to get it with minimal damage to other resources and our national interests and we've not done so. Ask the Gulf of Mexico or Iraq.

It costs money and potential profits to be responsible and no one seems to be willing and only wants to cry about any of it. I don't care whether you want to or not - that includes the eco-centric and the oil company executives and everybody in between. I'm happy to throw brick-bats at the oil industry, I'm even happier to include damn near everybody else with especial emphasis on politicians with responsibility to regulate and protect our national interests.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What Kind Of Dump Are You Running ?

What the hell is wrong with this place, this country? Too many broke people, too many unemployed, too many sick, too many criminals, too much death, too many sickly perverted animals masquerading as humans, too many threats and epithets, too many damaged veterans, too much ... damn etc.

I'm real sure the usual culprits are to blame - the queers, the other-religious, the lay-abouts, the different colored, the godless, and for sure the Communistic Nazis. Try to wrap your head around what is going on here and what the reaction is. For pete's sake yes, I do think this place is a mess and that list at the start isn't imaginary. What happens if you listen to the part of the population led by Faux News and Lafemme Palin you'll get a list of culprits that falls apart as soon as you look at it.

Reason has nothing to do with it, think about gays, marriage, and states for a second ... states that lead the country in incest, wife beating, child beating, and divorce lead the fight for the Sanctity of Marriage. What the hell? The politicians beating the hell out of the family values drum represent those places and that has resulted in what, exactly.

If you want to look for a real correlation for crime you don't look to race, you look to poverty. If you want to find clapped out educational systems look to the lack of funding and lack of respect for education and outcomes based on something other than merit.

Why the hell are people sick? Sure, as a population we eat too much of the wrong things and manage a real crappy exercise program and worst of all, go to doctors too late and emergency rooms when it's too late. Schools that can afford physical education programs and continue them create different results than ones that can only barely afford core programs.

We reward the failures of companies with exorbinate salaries for top management as they shed labor and product quality goes in the toilet. We encourage with tax codes and rhetoric the widening gap between wealth and the rest of the population and bust unions with rhetoric best saved for their masters. Our government tolerates currency manipulation that results in lack of competitiveness and job migration and gives tax incentives to those same companies to wreck their domestic production.

If you're wondering why most Americans are not represented in their economic interests you could look at who it is that is supposed to represent them. I won't even bother to lay out criticism of the GOP in that regard - if you haven't or can't figure that one out you either aren't paying attention or don't care. The Democrats are another story, you could look at nearly half of the US Senate and get a wholely different picture than what the Caucus results in.

This post has lain dormant in draft for a month, it is a depressing one and reflects some of the reason there has been a dearth of posts here. Where that is going to go as time passes is open to real question. It isn't even clear to me that much of anybody other than me gives a damn which tends to reduce enthusiasm.

Crist On A Crutch

Sure, it's a bad pun; but what do you expect in a comedy like Florida has turned out to be? The Republican Governor of Florida was losing in a Republican Primary for the US Senate, a governor with a job approval rating above 50% losing. The Tea Bagger faction's candidate Rubio running Charlie out for being ... something other than Rightwing.

I am no Crist fan, I watched his horseshit during the Democratic Primary and I was less than impressed with his dedication to the welfare of anybody other than Charlie Crist and certainly not the best interests of the voters in FL. I give a rat's patoot about Rubio or Crist and their futures, I do care that there are functioning political parties in the US.

The three way race seems to show Rubio, Crist, and Meeks carving up fairly even portions of the electorate at this early stage (Meeks trailing). In Meeks' case it is important to remember that most 3rd party candidates start out polling better early and fading with time. Crist could be an exceptional case already holding state wide office with popularity with the General electorate but history is unkind to Independents. It is not informative to look at Hoe LIEberman since the GOP shat all over its own candidate to help him out. (no, I can't be polite about that guy, won't be, don't give a damn)

I'm no prognosticator but a fracture of the FL GOP shouldn't hurt Meeks and the Democratic prospects, though a straight Meeks/Rubio would have been better for Democrats. A straight match up might also have taught the GOP something...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Obama's Racism ... Well, OK

It seems that everybody on the Right from the Washington Examiner to Rushbo and the RNC find President Obama and the DNC encouraging the young, the women, the minorities to get out and vote and particularly to do so to the benefit of the Democratic Party is racist or race pandering, or race fear mongering. Now considering the Right's state of disarray with those groups it would be understandable for them to not want them to come out and vote but it would seem to add to their problems with them to call their participation in the political process racist.

Maybe I haven't paid enough attention but I hadn't noticed that white males don't still run this country and its wealth. I have noticed that the bottom of the scale has gotten a bit more crowded, a whole lot of whites, browns, and assorted other categories have gotten shoved into it with those who were already there. It sure isn't in the interest of the Party of plutocracy and racism to have that group voting unless they're pissed off white people blaming their compatriots in misfortune for the actions of the ruling class.

Yes I call it the Confederate Party of Republicanism ... for a reason.

Stupid Political Theater And Financial Reform

It would seem that damn near everybody knows that most of America is not at all happy with "Wall Street." The quotes are advisable, investment banking and its ilk are a bit more broad in residence. Somehow the GOP seemed to miss that particular memo and fillibustered the "Democratic" bill. I am pretty sure anyone with a brain could have figured out that the "too big to fail" scam they ran would get outed and that would leave them not much of anywhere to go. There may be political capital with some piece of their base to oppose anything Obama, but that chunk seriously shrinks where the bankstas are concerned - down to the dedicated racists pretty much (excepting of course the plutocrats).

This left the GOP fillibustering a bill to do something meeting general enthusiasm. That is awkward. Some think Mitch McConnell didn't want to miss the Kentucky Derby, I think he realized that looking stupid is much worse than being stupid. (that's really saying something considering the viewership they're concerned with)

Arizona - Always Look Down

The new Arizona immigration law features as policy the rhetoric of the aristocracy and plutocracy. Never, ever look anywhere but down the social scale for the source of problems. It must be the fault of the poor and disrespected that Arizona has an illegal immigration problem - they talk wrong and do dirty jobs. It certainly shouldn't be a newsflash that this country has a problem with illegal immigration and for my readers also not one that I am a foe of illegal immigration because I do not like what it does to the job market and I strongly disapprove of the creation of an illegal serf class.

People immigrate to this country for a couple reasons, economic improvement, escaping repression (except maybe AZ), family. The biggest driver of illegal immigration is financial improvement and that comes with having a .... wait for it ... job. That job is not provided by the socially down scale individuals, nope not even a little bit. Those jobs start with the middle class small business owner and move up to the stratosphere of monster companies. A hell of a lot of people have made a hell of a lot of money off the backs of the despised illegals and those folks are the ones being ignored.

The farmer will, with some justification, state that he cannot compete without access to cheap labor. That is true, but only when the competition is also using access to cheap labor. He will protest that he can't hire people to do the work, and that is certainly true at what passes for field wages. Maybe you feel sympathy for the American farmer ... do you have a bit more of a problem with the companies that support true wealth like, oh say, former OR Senator Gordon Smith who could afford to pay $100K for a couple golf clubs while employing illegally at his pea plant?

This problem was not created down the social ladder it was created by the masters of the social ladder. It is not in their benefit to have attention paid to their union busting, wage depression, ecological devastation, or their disregard for the safety of labor, it is in their interest to create a scapegoat for their destructive behavior - especially a brown skinned scapegoat.

By the way, Arizona my family has been here for a really long time, some since New York was New Amsterdam and some since the Revolution and plenty on the winning side of the Civil War. There's an issue, in the winter I get somewhere in the area of sorta pale but once the sun is out I am ... dark and dress in ... work clothes ... and my grey eyes are behind shades. Thinking I'm Hispanic in descent would be understandable (if totally erroneous) and I don't carry "papers" other than my OR license. Stopping me for something other than a legal violation would bring a rather serious reaction. I do not propose to be interfered with by anyone short of my having done something meriting interference - like a legal violation and suspicion of my nativity won't do. Now if you're one of those red-headed pale illegal Irish you probably won't have a problem with those Arizona coppers.

It is a time tried strategy for the ruling class to create strife and discord amongst those being oppressed. Why act surprised?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Tax Bracket Stupidity

Marginal Tax Rate[3] Single Married Filing Jointly or Qualified Widow(er) Married Filing Separately Head of Household
10% $0 – $8,350 $0 – $16,700 $0 – $8,350 $0 – $11,950
15% $8,351– $33,950 $16,701 – $67,900 $8,351 – $33,950 $11,951 – $45,500
25% $33,951 – $82,250 $67,901 – $137,050 $33,951 – $68,525 $45,501 – $117,450
28% $82,251 – $171,550 $137,051 – $208,850 $68,525 – $104,425 $117,451 – $190,200
33% $171,551 – $372,950 $208,851 – $372,950 $104,426 – $186,475 $190,201 - $372,950
35% $372,951+ $372,951+ $186,476+ $372,951+

If you look at this table of Federal Tax Brackets you begin to understand how the government looks at wealth. Keep in mind that "marginal tax rates" apply only to the portion of income that exceeds the ceiling of the previous bracket. The gazillionaire pays 10% on his Adjusted Gross up to $8,350 and then he pays 15% on the amount from 8,351 on to ... etc. Once you make $372,951 you pay 35%, after all your deductions and excluding capital gains (on which you pay 15%) right up to ... well, gazillions.

Now somehow there is sufficient difference, $25,600, in incomes between 10% and 15% to justify a 5% increase in tax liability. There is no difference in income once you make $372,951, the government can't see it. As an individual you'll sure the hell see a difference in how you're treated and frankly the budget deficit sees it. If you toss the Alternative Minimum Tax into the picture you'll pretty quickly start to get some negative ideas.

Don't get me started on the idea that the SS/FICA tax with employer "contributions" at nearly 16% applied to all income up to $106,000 and nothing beyond doesn't have implications.

Which part of the fact that tax policy is not just about a budget, but also about behavior is it that misses most people? You do understand that in a given year there is a finite amount of income to be made in this year and that when some one person takes out huge amounts there is less left to go around. The fact that things like AMT and tax brackets aren't tied to median income amounts each year but rather to fixed dollar amount further states the problem.


I've been considering a new tag to cover some ground that something like "Confederate Party of Republicanism" or "Teabaggery" might actually miss. I'm aware that having those two snarky tags leaves a pretty narrow sliver that wouldn't fit, and hell, throwing "Media" into the mix probably leaves little else. Anyhow, I'd appreciate any ideas and reasons for inclusion you might have about essentially organized stupidity that would fit under "Idiotocracy".

(I know some Democrats might fit but they have a tag)

Deficit Idiocy

Sometimes you want to smash your head into something when you hear about "popular" concerns like the deficit.

This graph of what programs people want cut versus their percentage of the budget from The Washington Independent (h/t Newshoggers) ought to create that reaction amongst everybody including the GOP. The problem is that each little bunch has their preferred devils and their angels and none of it has anything to do with reality. Can this deficit spending continue? No, it cannot and this graph makes it obvious that taxes are the only solution that the public will tolerate despite their denials.

If you're gonna Teabag this post, point out which of these you propose to affect.

Bankers Are Almost Sorry ... And?

You can go to to read the self-serving apologies some of the Bankstas offered up to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. You could go to McClatchy and read Greenspan spinning and spinning to deny having any responsibility for an economic meltdown. I'll just bet you'd think a crashed business might re-think how it does business. You could wish, maybe.

Then you'd start thinking that something like a Congress might take nearly 10% unemployment and crushed businesses seriously. You might, if you ignored who benefits and who gets screwed. There probably exists a fury tipping point where plutocrats can't game the system entirely but I'm not sure Congress would react before the pitchforks and torches were in action.

Ronnie Reagan and his voodoo cult of trickle down economics set us on this path. It became accepted wisdom that greed and wealth would look out for the national interests and any interference (especially tax) with that class was unfair and counter-productive. Regulations and taxes that interfered with the unrestrained grab for wealth became the devil's handiwork. The Teabagger nuttery isn't aimed at the causes of a bailout to stave off a depression, but at the bailout. Their fury isn't aimed at anything that has spit to do with anything other than Democrats and tax money. If you expect that bunch to lead the charge with pitchforks and torches you're crazy.

As for the GOP...go ahead and hold your breath. Keep in mind that any legislation that black Democratic President might sign is a victory for ... Democrats. I do have to wonder what kind of lesson it would take for a real large percentage of this country to not have its collective head up its collective butt.

Confederate Party of Republicanism - Virginia

This blog uses the tag "Confederate Party of Republicanism" for posts that reflect that regional domination of the GOP. It isn't an imaginary construct and yes, it is deliberately insulting - or at least was intended that way. It was an intention to snark that was sideswiped by reality.

The reality was VA Gov Bob McDonnell (R) making a Confederate History Month proclamation honoring those who fought to protect their homes and state...and managed to completely ignore "protect their state's right to enslave human beings." OK you say, an oversight which he corrected and it is important to engage tourism and etc. Nope. If this proclamation was about tourism and history it would have been entitled "Civil War History Month."

You are required to be entirely stupid to not get what this proclamation was about. It was about the Confederate States of America today. It was about racism and aristocracy being honored by the government of Virginia. It is about the Confederate Party of Republicanism and a nation that reflects a bit different view. Does it even begin to create a bit of a "hmmm" to note that this guy is freshly elected and can't run for the office again? That this proclamation is important now that there are serious Democratic majorities in Federal seats and a black Democratic President? That the State of Virginia helped elect this President?

If you take this (R) Governor's apology to mean spit you aren't paying any attention to much of anything. The fact that the option of "Civil War History Month" is being ignored as a clear statement of his intent says something about the dialogue in this country - and the media.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Here's A Real Pisser

Dr. Jack Cassell's Mount Dora practice says, "If you voted for Obama, seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your healthcare begin right now, not in four years."

I suppose there's something to be said about this, I'm just damn unsure what...

Oh, this is Florida ...

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Rats In Teabaggery

Which one of you did this?
[R]ecent Tea Party people who allegedly denounced a Parkinson’s patient or spat at gay and black congressmen might well have been agents. Offensive signs might be Made in DC too. Next might come calls for violence by alleged Tea Party types, and perhaps acts, which can be used to suppress dissent. Peaceful resistance is not only right, it is all that works, unless you are with the state. If anyone urges the use of violence, the state’s characteristic action, he is probably an agent.

It isn't as though they're ridiculous enough without help. Oddly enough the Columbus, OH Parkinson's mocker portrays himself as an ordinary guy who "snapped." The State sure better come up with some better provocateurs.

I'm still waiting for one of their planks to call for the head of those responsible for the BushCo egregious assaults on civil liberties in the name of terrorism... How about maybe financial reform? Nah - instead they're the tools of the GOP as it sticks it to the ordinary guy.
Damn, Balloon Juice beats me again...

Objectivism And Fantasy

I wish I'd written that is one of my more common plaints:
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

A h/t to the Balloon Juice commentariate.