Category Archives: public corruption

NSA: “EVERYONE !!”

Seems the NSA can, without a warrant, snoop on anyone within three degrees of someone that they may have some suspicion about.

…the rather startling news that came out of yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee on the NSA spying programs: NSA Director John Inglis revealed that the FISA Court permits the government to do three jumps from an initial number tied to a phone number reasonably believed to be tied to terrorism (or relevant to Iran, though that search criteria didn’t get mentioned at all in the parts of the hearing I watched).

Three degrees of separation!

Remember, some years ago, every single person in the US could be connected via six degrees — the old Kevin Bacon game. There’s some evidence that that number has become smaller — perhaps as small as 3 (I’ve seen more scientific numbers that say it is 4.5 or thereabouts).

In any case, if the US is using the excuse of terror to get three jumps deep into US person associations, then this program is even more intrusive then they’ve let on.

I imagine that would include everyone in our government, the Israeli government, the Palestinian authority, every head of state, every law enforcement officer, everyone who has ever been abroad, everyone who has ever interviewed a foreign person, everyone who knows anyone who knows anyone in:

Greenpeace,

the Quakers,

any demonstration of any kind,

anyone who has written a letter to an editor,

any person of color,

anyone who signed a petition, and

so on.

It’s basically EVERYONE. and what will they do with it? Wait til Karl Rove or one of the Cheneys gets back in power and you’ll see in short order. Or just some NSA guy who’s curious about who his ex girlfriend in dating. Or some NSA girl with a grudge against oh, well, ANYONE!

We have a constitution; that used to mean something.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

When basically the entire population is legally suspect, doesn’t that mean we’re doing something wrong?

 

video: Gary Oldman, in “The Professional.”

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As the Congress prepares to cut Social Security from poor old widows, while cutting taxes on millionaires, and we support the apartheid and starvation of innocents in the Middle East, it may be time to think about where this “great experiment in democracy” is going as “the greatest country in the world”:

SPIEGEL: Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation: The United States is frittering away its role as a model for the rest of the world. The political system is plagued by an absurd level of hatred, the economy is stagnating and the infrastructure is falling into a miserable state of disrepair.

As an American expat living in the European Union, I’ve started to see America from a different perspective through the prism of the European media.

The European Union has a larger economy and more people than America does. Though it spends less — right around 9 percent of GNP on medical, whereas we in the U.S. spend close to between 15 to 16 percent of GNP on medical — the EU pretty much insures 100 percent of its population.

The U.S. has 59 million people medically uninsured; 132 million without dental insurance; 60 million without paid sick leave; 45 million on food stamps. Everybody in the European Union has cradle-to-grave access to universal medical and a dental plan by law. The law also requires paid sick leave; paid annual leave; paid maternity leave. When you realize all of that, it becomes easy to understand why many Europeans think America has gone insane, particularly as 2 million long-term unemployed Americans are getting ready to lose their jobless benefits as America approaches the year end fiscal cliff.
The sobering assessment of America’s unemployment rate isn’t really 7.9 percent, but close to 20 percent when we factor in the number of people who have stopped looking for work.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Congress, Dianne Feinstein betrays the voters trust, economics, global warming/environment, Harry Reid:part of the problem, healthcare, Middle East, perpetual war: fascism in disguise, public corruption, Steny Hoyer: isn't he really a Republican?

Yes, gasoline costs more, because easily-obtainable oil is depleted.

Get yourself a Chevy Volt; this isn’t going away.

The simple truth of the matter is this: most of the world’s easy reserves have already been depleted — except for those in war-torn countries like Iraq. Virtually all of the oil that’s left is contained in harder-to-reach, tougher reserves. These include deep-offshore oil, Arctic oil, and shale oil, along with Canadian “oil sands” — which are not composed of oil at all, but of mud, sand, and tar-like bitumen. So-called unconventional reserves of these types can be exploited, but often at a staggering price, not just in dollars but also in damage to the environment.

In the oil business, this reality was first acknowledged by the chairman and CEO of Chevron, David O’Reilly, in a 2005 letter published in many American newspapers. “One thing is clear,” he wrote, “the era of easy oil is over.” Not only were many existing oil fields in decline, he noted, but “new energy discoveries are mainly occurring in places where resources are difficult to extract, physically, economically, and even politically.”

Further evidence for this shift was provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in a 2010 review of world oil prospects. In preparation for its report, the agency examined historic yields at the world’s largest producing fields — the “easy oil” on which the world still relies for the overwhelming bulk of its energy. The results were astonishing: those fields were expected to lose three-quarters of their productive capacity over the next 25 years, eliminating 52 million barrels per day from the world’s oil supplies, or about 75% of current world crude oil output. The implications were staggering: either find new oil to replace those 52 million barrels or the Age of Petroleum will soon draw to a close and the world economy would collapse.

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Filed under Barack Obama, economics, Iraq, Middle East, Politics, public corruption, Texas

Clarence Thomas for president!!

The Man with the Can

Adam Winkler is perhaps the first person to come up with this solution to the dismal field of GOP candidates for the presidential nomination. For the life of me, I don’t see why this was so long in coming. In contradistinction to his days as a sexual harasser, Thomas is famous for never saying anything while on the Supreme Court, so he can’t be accused of flipflopping on every single issue, like Mitt Romney. And, unlike Rick Santorum, his name is not synonymous with a gross concoction of bodily fluids (although, of course, he will always be associated with the image of the Coke can with pubic hair). Plus, being African American, he would undoubtedly appeal to the liberal section of the pubic, oops I mean public.

Importantly, Thomas seems willing. According to Winkler,

The idea of Thomas running for president was floated two years ago by two legal bloggers, David Lat and Kashmir Hill. They noted that when Thomas was first nominated to the bench, he expressed hesitation about the solitary, sedate environment that comes with the black robe. “I can’t see myself spending the rest of my life as a judge,” Thomas said.

I think a lot of Americans would agree with that sentiment.

Most importantly, Thomas comes cheap:

ThinkProgress uncovered three briefs that AEI filed in Thomas’ Court after Thomas received their $15,000 gift. Thomas recused from none of these three cases, and he either voted in favor of the result AEI favored or took a stance that was even further to the right in each case:

Riley v. Kennedy: AEI filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision preventing a change in Alabama’s voting law from going into effect. Justice Thomas did not recuse, and he joined the Supreme Court’s decision reversing the lower court.

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1: AEI filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision upholding a local school district’s desegregation plan. Thomas joined the majority opinion reversing the lower court’s decision, and he filed a lengthy concurrence defending that result.

Whitman v. American Trucking Association: AEI joined a brief asking the Supreme Court to allow the EPA to consider the costs of implementing new air quality standards before it issued them. Thomas’ concurring opinion went much further than AEI asked him to go, suggesting that the law authorizing EPA to issue these standards is unconstitutional.

Turns out that was the tip of the cashberg:

Thomas appears to have “knowingly and willfully” filed falsified Financial Disclosure Forms which withheld disclosure of nearly $700,000 his wife received from the rightwing Heritage Foundation for the better part of the last 20 years. Only once it was pointed out publicly this year did Thomas bother to file “self-initiated amendments” to the forms he had signed just above the legal warning in bold and all caps which reads: “NOTE: ANY INDIVIDUAL WHO KNOWINGLY AND WILLFULLY FALSIFIES OR FAILS TO FILE THIS REPORT MAY BE SUBJECT TO CIVIL AND CRIMINAL SANCTIONS (5 U.S.C. app. § 104)”

In short, Clarence Thomas is the perfect GOP candidate for President of the United States.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Politics, public corruption, Republican politicians: are any of them normal, Smokey award finalist, Supreme Court, Uncategorized

Tiny band of crazies choosing the GOP nominee for the Leader of the Free World.

Choosing a president, GOP-style

Timothy Egan points out the miniscule Republican primary turnout. This explains the “massive” surges, as one candidate after another rises up to challenge Mitt Romney: the numbers are so small that only a few thousand emotional extremists make or break a candidates momentum. Not to mention the power of the most expensive television propaganda campaigns in primary history, fueled by the Supreme Republican Court’s edict that corporations are people.

the small fraction of Americans who are trying to pick the Republican nominee are old, white, uniformly Christian and unrepresentative of the nation at large.

None of that is a surprise. But when you look at the numbers, it’s stunning how little this Republican primary electorate resembles the rest of the United States. They are much closer to the population of 1890 than of 2012.

Given the level of media attention, we know an election of great significance is happening on the Republican side. But it’s occurring in a different place, guided by talk-radio extremists and religious zealots, with only a vague resemblance to the states where it has taken place. From this small world have emerged a host of nutty, retrograde positions, unpopular with the vast American majority.

So far, three million voters have participated in the Republican races, less than the population of Connecticut. This means that 89 percent of all registered voters in those states have not participated in what is, from a horse-race perspective, a very tight contest.

Yes, we know Republicans don’t like their choices; it’s a meh primary. But still, in some states, this election could be happening in a ghost town. Less than 1 percent of registered voters turned out for Maine’s caucus. In Nevada, where Republican turnout was down 25 percent from 2008, only 3 percent of total registered voters participated.

This is not majority rule by any measure; it barely qualifies as participatory democracy.

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Shifting the world to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 – here are the numbers

wind-power
Stanford Report

Study: Shifting the world to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 – here are the numbers
Wind, water and solar energy resources are sufficiently available to provide all the world’s energy. Converting to electricity and hydrogen powered by these sources would reduce world power demand by 30 percent, thereby avoiding 13,000 coal power plants. Materials and costs are not limitations to these conversions, but politics may be, say Stanford and UC researchers who have mapped out a blueprint for powering the world.

Most of the technology needed to shift the world from fossil fuel to clean, renewable energy already exists. Implementing that technology requires overcoming obstacles in planning and politics, but doing so could result in a 30 percent decrease in global power demand, say Stanford civil and environmental engineering Professor Mark Z. Jacobson and University of California-Davis researcher Mark Delucchi.

To make clear the extent of those hurdles – and how they could be overcome – they have written an article that is the cover story in the November issue of Scientific American. In it, they present new research mapping out and evaluating a quantitative plan for powering the entire world on wind, water and solar energy, including an assessment of the materials needed and costs. And it will ultimately be cheaper than sticking with fossil fuel or going nuclear, they say.

The key is turning to wind, water and solar energy to generate electrical power – making a massive commitment to them – and eliminating combustion as a way to generate power for vehicles as well as for normal electricity use.

The problem lies in the use of fossil fuels and biomass combustion, which are notoriously inefficient at producing usable energy. For example, when gasoline is used to power a vehicle, at least 80 percent of the energy produced is wasted as heat.

With vehicles that run on electricity, it’s the opposite. Roughly 80 percent of the energy supplied to the vehicle is converted into motion, with only 20 percent lost as heat. Other combustion devices can similarly be replaced with electricity or with hydrogen produced by electricity.

The Scientific American article provides a quantification of global solar and wind resources based on new research by Jacobson and Delucchi.

Analyzing only on-land locations with a high potential for producing power, they found that even if wind were the only method used to generate power, the potential for wind energy production is 5 to 15 times greater than what is needed to power the entire world. For solar energy, the comparable calculation found that solar could produce about 30 times the amount needed.

If the world built just enough wind and solar installations to meet the projected demand for the scenario outlined in the article, an area smaller than the borough of Manhattan would be sufficient for the wind turbines themselves. Allowing for the required amount of space between the turbines boosts the needed acreage up to 1 percent of Earth’s land area, but the spaces between could be used for crops or grazing. The various non-rooftop solar power installations would need about a third of 1 percent of the world’s land, so altogether about 1.3 percent of the land surface would suffice.

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Did Mark Sanford go to Argentina because he was rejected by eHarmony.com?

In another stunning development in the ongoing Mark Sanford fiasco, Over the Line, Smokey! has learned that Sanford may have been trying to “dig some potatoes” a little closer to home than Argentina, but was rejected by eHarmony.com, because of a statement he made in his application:
eharm2
Over the Line, Smokey! cannot vouch for the authenticity of this document, although it was obtained from a reliable source.*

*the internet, I think it’s called.

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