Saturday, July 30, 2011

Connection Issues - Thanks Verizon.

I haven;t been able to get my posts up the past few days due to continuing intermittent connection problems.  This is an issue we've been having with Verizon on and off for a while now. Long story short, their tech support now consists of some one and India telling you to cycle your modem on and off, even though the problem seems to be in their local servers.  The last time it was due to loose Comcast cable out on a utility pole touching the phone line.

So anyway I will be composing off-line and then pasting pay my posts.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Food for Thought

A pictures worth a thousand words and these images speak volumes:

Surface temperature anomalies for June 2011:
From GISTEMP (click to enlarge)
W vs. Obama debt:
From the Atlantic (click to enlarge)
Democratic and Republican party favorability ratings:
From Nate Silver FiveThirtyEight (click to enlarge)
Drought in Texas:
NASA image showing decrease in vegetation due to current drought (click to enlarge).

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Coming Perfect Storm of Wingnut Lunacy

I think I’m like most Americans in that the best description of my politics is “mixed”, as I independently choose what I think is the right answer to a problem based not a rigid idealogy set by others but on my own experience and values. For this reason I tend to avoid overarching labels based on an overly simplistic left-right spectrum.

That said, I cannot ignore the fact that an uncompromising myopic reactionary group, the self-styled “Tea Party”and fellow travelers have taken over the Republican Party and are so certain their anti-Enlightenment and internally contradictory philosophy is the only answer that they will take us all over the cliff. They’re like the people who ignored warning signs and climbed over railing in Yosemite, laughing and encouraging their children to join them before they, surprise, surprise, slipped in and went over the falls with a look of shock on their faces.  Within the past few weeks o perfect storm of converging events has occurred to show us the depths of their disdain for others and reality. A perfect storm that may crash the political and economic system of the US. Andrew Sullivan declares, correctly IMHO, that Republican are engaging in what he calls in the title a "cold Civil War"
I longed for Obama to bridge this gulf in ideology. But he cannot bridge it alone, especially when the GOP is determined to burn the bridge entirely, even when presented with a deal so tilted to the right only true fanatics could possibly walk away from it. And so the very republic is being plunged into crisis and possible depression by a single, implacable, fanatical faction. Until they are defeated, the country remains in more peril than we know.
First we have the phone hacking scandal in the UK. Nobody has done more to poison political discourse in the English-speaking world than the Murdoch NewsCorp empire.  Now despite what some on the left believe, this media empire does not convert people, instead it speaks to an audience that already existed. But this was an audience that refused to accept reality and Murdoch gave them “news” that fit their world view. It also allowed the Republicans to fill the vacuum created when the Democratic party and liberals/progressive arrogantly discarded populist messaging. News Corp has been able to set the news agenda not only by feeding their audience, but by their competitors greedy desire to co-opt NewsCorp's message and following. The hacking scandal revealed that not only is their message vile, but that they will stoop to any level to get information they can use to manipulate emotions and public opinion.

Then we have the continuing extreme weather, which has produced continual record breaking temperatures and drought in Oklahoma and Texas and caused one of the worst heat waves on record in the East. This after two unusually stormy winters, continued Arctic warming and anomalous temperature and precipitation patterns. But rather than rethinking their position on climate change they’ve doubled down on it, to the point of Limbaugh mocking the very idea of their actually being a heat wave.

Another thing about this reactionary group is their use of fear, particularly Islamaphobia and ant-immigrant sentiment (Ground-Zero Mosque! Border Fence!).  This sentiment exists in Europe as well and is the motive behind Anders Breivik’s terrorist attacks in Europe. Breivik’s views are indistinguishable from those espoused by Beck, Coulter , Limbaugh and Fox News in general.  Based on comments from reactionaries on news stories related to this I detect a doubling down on this rhetoric while dismissing a Breivik as just a lone-nut with no political motivation.

Finally we have the debt ceiling crises. Though the Republican establishment is using it as leverage against raising taxes on the rich, the Teabaggers* doubt want it raised under any circumstances. They would rather have the country default than borrow money to pay its bills.  They mock warnings that default will have dire consequences, Coulters response to Moody’s warning that they will lower the US rating was to call for an investigation of Moodys!  Mediaite reports:
On last night’s Follow the Money, host Eric Bolling appeared skeptical of the idea of Moody’s reducing America’s credit, and, sharing his “conspiracy theory” that Moody’s is colluding with Democrats to Ann Coulter, found her in complete agreement, calling for a House investigation if the credit rating falls.
As I write the news is that the markets, yes the great symbol capitalism that they proclaim to love, are becoming skittish.

In the end, this reactionary alliance of Teabaggers, enablers and sympathizers are behaving like smokers who respond to a lung cancer diagnoses by suing the doctor and doubling the number of packs they smoke.
The public is becoming repulsed by the Teabagger philosophy, but the response is yet unorganized and unfocused.  Obama has been the adult in the room, but his party is cowardly and the progressive/liberal activists who rail at them are largely upper-class ineffectuals. Our institutionalized two-party system does not allow other voices to be heard.  

Something will happen in this storm, what I cannot say.

·         *I use the derogatory Teabagger because it was initially used by them and I find their attempts to associate themselves with American Revolution vile.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Marcellus News Update for Pennsylvania: July 12-19

Snakes on the Marcellus shale: a business idea
Bob Zumstein has been lecturing on timber rattlesnakes for years and recently had been invited to talk to two Marcellus Shale companies about where workers might encounter these venomous suckers and what they should do if they spot one.
Chief Oil & Gas cleared of water contamination charges by Pennsylvania DEP
Source: Chief Oil & Gas
In April 2011, Crystal Stroud of Granville Summit, Bradford County, PA accused Chief Oil & Gas of contaminating her water well, which had been found to contain high levels of barium and lead. In numerous public appearances and radio and television interviews, Ms. Stroud stated that a well drilled by Chief had caused water contamination and health problems for her and her family. A thorough investigation showed that Chief Oil & Gas is not responsible for the water well contamination or health claims of Crystal Stroud.
Frack humor falls flat for energy company
When the folks at Talisman Energy dreamed up a children's coloring book about a dinosaur explaining the origins of natural gas, they had no idea that the "friendly fracosaurus" would become a casualty in the anti-fracking cultural wars.
$200 Million Lost to Legislative Inaction on Drilling Tax
Pennsylvania has lost $200 million from legislative inaction on a Marcellus Shale drilling tax — revenue that could have prevented state cuts to schools, colleges and health services for the state's most vulnerable.
Bishops, nuns and rabbis debating gas fracking

"We have people's lives who are being blessed or adversely affected by this," said Bishop Thomas Bickerton of Pittsburgh, who leads more than 800 United Methodist congregations and 187,000 members in western Pennsylvania, where major drilling is taking place.
"The conversations within the church are rather lively and robust," Bickerton said, and he thinks gas drilling "warrants some careful looking" by religious groups and public officials.
Panel Backs Pennsylvania Drilling Fee
A controversial fee on natural-gas drilling in Pennsylvania, the only state that doesn't tax natural gas extraction in some form, is being recommended by a commission appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett.
Marcellus commission ends day, passes 100 recommendations

The commission has ended its votes for the day, passing nearly 100 recommendations.
Environmental groups have already come out against the recommendation on forced pooling. The recommendation should be a big test for the commission and Gov. Tom Corbett as many legislators and Corbett himself previously promised to fight any push for it.
Corbett panel's report backs impact fee on Marcellus Shale drilling
Gov. Corbett's advisory panel on drilling in the Marcellus Shale endorsed a long list of recommendations Friday on how to deal with the burgeoning industry, including imposing a local impact fee - not a tax - on the extraction of natural gas.
Trade association asks PUC to reconsider public utility status
The trade association representing Pennsylvania's oil and gas industry convinced the state Public Utility Commission to reconsider making natural gas pipeline company Laser Marcellus Gathering Co. LLC a utility.
 Corbett panel's report sets guidelines for Marcellus drilling
Broadly speaking, the recommendations endorse the industry's call for modernizing the regulatory structure of shale-drilling and creating uniform local zoning rules to streamline approval processes. The commission also endorsed boosting markets for the fuel with incentives for using natural gas in transportation, electric generation, and manufacturing.
 Halliburton’s living large on gas shale
With energy companies like Halliburton HAL talking up growth in U.S. shale regions that offer rich returns in oil and natural gas liquids such as propane and ethane, it’s no wonder that Royal Dutch Shell is bailing out of a Canadian pipeline project to bring down natural gas from the Arctic.
Rex Energy settles Marcellus rights lawsuit by 230 western Pa. property owners for $14M
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Westmoreland County Judge Gary Caruso signed off on the settlement between the landowners and the State College-based gas-drilling firm, which admits no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
Pa. treatment plant sued over drilling wastewater
 Two environmental groups sued a Pittsburgh-area municipal sewage plant on Tuesday, saying it never got a permit from the state to treat often-toxic Marcellus Shale drilling wastewater, although the plant's head said it has stopped treating the wastewater.
Oil, gas industry wants water ban overturned
The Pennsylvania oil and gas industry is asking a federal judge to overturn a federal ban on using surface and groundwater in the Allegheny National Forest to conduct hydraulic fracturing at Marcellus shale well sites there.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Even More random Sunday stuff

Well you shouldn't trust the French Freemasons

What's the French for, "Saddle up the posse?"

Warning, this story is unbearably disturbing and grizzly.

The bear threat widens.

With all this danger from bears, why I ask you would we try to save dinosaurs?

Researchers have found that Google.....uhh, hmmm what were we talking about?

I like dogs and all, but why should they get free ice cream?

Not that anyone should care what writers and readers of frickin' GQ think, but have you ever seen the way they dress in the Northwest? Not to mention the BO there!

And finally, a pic of Rupert Murdoch and his wife, I'll let you come up with your own comments!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Another Saturday Santorum

Heard of that contorverisal "marriage" pledge ("The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMiLY,") in Iowa that said black families were stronger under slavery?  Well the only two to sign it were Michelle "You-can't-hide your-crazy-eyes" Bachmann and our man Santorum.  He defends himself in The USA Today, but what I love is the paper's response, "Candidates who sign pledges outsource their brains":
Elected officials owe their allegiance to their constituents and the Constitution, not interest groups bearing pledges.
The Rickster gave a speech at Winthrop University (SC), the local paper paraphrases him:
America was founded on God-given rights, he said. But those rights don't make everyone equal. Rights are for "equality of opportunity," not "equality of result," he cautioned. He criticized proponents of gay marriage and other interest groups for demanding equal recognition.
Missed that "all men are created equal" in the countries founding document and the 14th Amendment in the country's basic law I guess.
Santorum criticized Obama for "his desire to care for everyone," arguing that bigger government would only lead to lost freedoms.
In other words, "Fuck you, I got mine, freedom's just another word for not giving a shit about anyone else."  Yet the bishops don't refuse him communion.

Poor Ricky though, the money hasn't exactly been pouring in. Methinks he should start signing those pledges for cash.

Some assorted low-level nuts in NH endorsed lnow Rick, you've been pretty boring this week. For my entertainment and your poll and fundraising numbers next week you need to crank up the crazy to 11.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Friday Round-Up for a Thin Week

Little time to blog this week, so I'll just do a round-up of things I wanted to talk about but didn't have time to. I have a lot to say on the News Corp phone hacking scandal, but that deserves its own post.  On thing that has just happened is that the former head of News International and current CEO of Dow Jones has resigned.

Speaking of News Corp, a blog in that tree-hugging, anti-business rag The Wall Street Journal tells us that oil production can't keep with demand.  Some interesting points from James Herron's Oil Production: Running to Stand Still:
In June, Saudi Arabia responded to rising oil demand, against the protests of fellow OPEC members, by pumping an extra 700,000 barrels a day of oil...So what effect did this major effort have on the crucial balance between oil supply and demand? Very little.
Oil supply from countries outside OPEC for 2011 was revised down by 0.2 million barrels a day because of “prolonged production outages” in a number of important oil producing regions, the IEA said.
More oil is increasingly being consumed at source. The Saudis pumped an extra 0.7 million barrels a day in June, but half of this was consumed domestically.
The Crowell & Moring law firm said birth defects in W. Va are the fault of inbreeding, not mountain-top mining.  Nice strategy, blame a stereotype, not the effects of your client's operations: massive exposure of coal seams (which can include sulfur and heavy metals) to oxygen and water, creating acid mine drainage, as well as radical alteration of surface and groundwater flow.

In their festering Randian-Calvinists minds, the Teabaggers believe themselves to be disciples of fictitious Founding Fathers who were all evangelical protestants who never would think of taxation and fees as a way to pay for the operation of the Federal government.  One of many things they ignore is that the first government under the Constitution solved a massive debt problem by RAISING REVENUE.  When Western Pennsylvania farmers rebelled against an excise tax on corn whiskey, President Washington even raised troops to enforce collection.  The birth of the Coast Guard in the form of the revenue marine came about as a result of revenue collection as well. Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton obtained approval from Congress to build the first ten cutters for the purpose of collecting tariffs and stopping smuggling.

Conor Freidersdorf in The Atlantic watched the Palin documentary in empty Orange County theater.The turnout  shows how overrated she is by the pundits.

It's pretty pleasant here in SE PA, but our fifth heat wave is expected next week.  The drought and heat continue in the south and Plains, leading the Governor of Oklahoma to call for prayer.  Blame it on God eh, not our abuse of the planet eh? When you look at the comments in the linked article notice all the Texas-Okie denialsts claiming it's always hot there.  That begs the question, why pray for it to end then?  But don't worry Southern farmers, that evil federal government will bail you out from the effects of extreme weather.  Too bad most of you vote for people who deny climate change and believe the federal budget should be balanced immediately by only cutting spending.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Image of the Day: NewsCorp stocks

From CNN Money business update:

Down 7.5% as Hack-gate* spirals out of control. Maybe there is karma after all.

*I haven;t seen anyone use the standard (blank)gate name for this scandal yet.  Maybe like Watergate it deserves one of its own.

The Business of Peak Oil

Even as some refuse to accept that production of a finite resource can ever "peak", military and intelligence services of several nations have warned about it. But while the general business line has been to deny or downplay it,  a confirmation of the existence of peak oil is found recent business reporting, from how adapting to it will help CRM (Customer relationship management) strategies to how to make money off the decline in production.

Monday, July 4, 2011

For the 4th: John Adams real thoughts on Government

Since I'm away and press for time, I've decided to re-post my comments from last year as they are still wholly appropriate:

The Continental Congress passed a Resolution declaring the independence of the 13 colonies on July 2, 1776, 234 years ago today.This is why John Adams said, "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore"
However, the formal declaration was not approved until the 4th, which of course is the day we celebrate. So Johnny was two days off.

Anyway, in these times when a minority of reactionaries twist, color and outright lie about what the American Revolutionary leaders thought (as if they all agreed in lockstep) I want to quote the man from my home town again, John Adams, from his Thoughts on Government:

"We ought to consider what is the end of government, before we determine which is the best form. Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree, that the happiness of society is the end of government, as all divines and moral philosophers will agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man. From this principle it will follow, that the form of government which communicates ease, comfort, security, or, in one word, happiness, to the greatest number of persons, and in the greatest degree, is the best."
emphasis added

"Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday Santorum, 7/2

Missed a few weeks, so even though I'm away for the 4th, I 'll squeeze out a few updates on Google's favorite former senator:

Meeting of the (deranged) minds - the Rickster on the Beckster, where Glen professed that he wanted to “kiss [Santorum] in the mouth.”

Santorum has figured out the motives behind gay marriage, “When you redefine marriage, you cheapen marriage. You make it into something less valuable, less special … [and] it is a sure bet that will undermine faith.” Hey dumbass, you need to look up the definition of "faith", if yours is strong it doesn't matter what others do.Oh yeah, he also urged, "Republicans to rely on faith and family to stand up against the government." WTF? Oh I guess that makes sense if you end up being head of the government.

It seems obvious that Ricky wants America to resemble some sort of 19th century Sicily, where patriarchs ruled by decree their women, families and towns w/o any interference from any government*, "Santorum continued to pummel Obama, accusing the president of being “fixated on accumulating power in Washington” and believing “government’s role is to control … rights.”
Insisting that the federal health-care law that Obama backs was the ultimate representation of this agenda, Santorum ripped into it.
“Obamacare is a game-changer,” said Santorum to the cheering crowd. He insisted the measure will “cede your freedom” to Washington and accuses the Obama administration of looking to make Americans “addicted to government.”

Ricky is also pretty paranoid, 'This time Santorum is arguing that the reason so few U.S. students perform well in U.S. history is because of "a conscious effort on the part of the left who has a huge influence on our curriculum, to desensitize America to what American values are so they're more pliable to the new values that they would like to impose on America."'

*the driving force between most of these wingnuts. It's their cultural link to Southern slaveholders. When they say freedom they mean the right to be medieval lords ruling over their manor the way they see fit.