30. June 2010 · Comments Off on Now We Want Help in the Gulf · Categories: Environment · Tags:

Gulf StreamExcerpt from – June 29 (Reuters) – The United States will accept offers from a dozen  countries and international agencies to help contain and clean up the  BP Plc (BP.L)   (BP.N)   oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,  the  State Department said on Tuesday.

Personally, I don’t think  it should be up to the US to decide whether or not foreign assistance  will be accepted. The Gulf of Mexico isn’t some backwater pond hidden  away in our heartland. The Gulf of Mexico is a major current pump that  exports to the entire North Atlantic sending it’s water and whatever  that water is carrying to places like Europe and eastern Canada. In fact  the current is significant enough to have a household name, the Gulf  Stream. This current is responsible for the trade routes going back to  the days of Columbus and is also responsible for the moderation of  climate in western Europe and is in fact a major concern among  climatologists.

For a country like Norway to extend help is in a sense a matter  of self-preservation. So of course we should accept foreign assistance.  Not accepting it would be inconsiderate.

13. June 2010 · Comments Off on BP Stock Owners Dine and Ditch · Categories: Environment · Tags: ,

So here we are watching oil leak from the bottom of the gulf, BP stocks falling through the floor and blame-bullets flying all over the place.  I’m wondering if anyone else is thinking what I’m thinking… While BP was pumping oil to the market the investors were all in… you could almost hear the chant… “Make money, make money…” and a few words to anyone pointing out the dangers of deep sea drilling… “Get lost!”

But now that the danger has turned into disaster the investors want to pull out their money and disconnect from the problem. There’s a serious absence of character here. There’s no way the investors don’t look like slimy snakes. Their demand for return on their investments drove everything necessary to create the problem and now they’re ditching before the cleanup bill comes. Talk about dine and ditch…

I think anytime a disaster like this happens the SEC should immediately freeze all shares of the company involved. This way the same investments that drive these risky operations to start with will be held accountable for the disasters they cause. It brings a sense of responsibility to the world of investment which so far has been allowed to run around creating havoc in any way possible without any responsibility for what they do.

So kick BP all you want if it makes you feel better, but if you want to actually fix the problem then give some thought to where you put your money and who you vote for because ultimately, it was everyday Americans that invested in the energy sector (39% of BP stock is American owned) and voted for “free-market” politicians that caused the oil spill in the Gulf.

22. November 2009 · Comments Off on Imperfect Systems · Categories: Economics, Politics · Tags: , ,

A fundamental basis of capitalism is that it’s balanced on the dollar which is naturally reconciled with basic numbers. But humanity is far more complicated and there is nothing natural about reducing it to numbers. Humanity requires judgment. So as long as capitalism drives everything to the ends, conflicts with humanity can only be expected.  Socialism, which is balanced on judgment, might seem like a far better idea but is plagued with the problem that people, though capable of judgment, often suck at it.

19. April 2009 · Comments Off on Obama Loosens Travel Restrictions to Cuba · Categories: Politics · Tags: , ,

With each passing day since Barack Obama took the White House I feel like America is becoming more and more the champion of democracy and humanity that we have for the past eight years only pretended to be. In his latest roll-back of oppressive laws passed by the Bush Administration, President Obama has lifted the law that says Cuban-Americans can only visit their relatives in Cuba once every three years. Now, these people can visit their families in Cuba as much as they want. Another victory for love, family values and freedom.

In response to Florida representatives, Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, who say that easing travel restrictions is a “serious mistake” that will embolden the Cuban dictatorship “to further isolate, imprison and brutalize pro-democracy activists” I point out that we’ve been putting up restrictions on Cuban travel and trade since 1962 and yet according to Amnesty International, there are still hundreds of political prisoners in Cuba, so it would seem that keeping Americans apart from their families in Cuba isn’t going to defeat the tyranny there. Maybe it’s about time we stop trying to fight tyranny with tyranny.

Besides, these two congressmen don’t even offer any logical explanation as to how easing travel restrictions would actually embolden the Cuban dictatorship. Are these two conservative politicians just emotionally pissed off people who want the U.S. to keep a cold shoulder to Cuba out of political spite? Seriously, who needs that kind of policy?

So in the absence of any logic coming from the Florida peanut gallery, I will offer my own approximation… the only logical connection I can think of… that increased travel between the US and Cuba may increase the flow of American ideas and culture which may inspire some Cuban people to push harder for some of what we have that they don’t have, and if the Cuban government becomes emboldened, it would be in reaction to such increased demand which we should expect in any push toward democracy anyway.

Tough luck Lincoln and Diaz-Balart, the days where your view that families should suffer under oppression for the sake of playing tit-for-tat politics could rely on the alliance of an equally petty and tyrannical president are over.

03. November 2008 · Comments Off on California Proposition 8 · Categories: Politics, Social/Culture · Tags: , , , ,

Let’s get right down to business here. I want to know why Californian voters are willing to use constitutional amendments to eliminate protection for what I think is one of the most important values the California Constitution has to offer, equal liberty and justice, for the sake of legislating a religious definition of marriage.

I understand that marriage is one of the most important aspects of social life and I respect the views that people have regarding this very special union between a man and a woman that serves as a solid foundation for building a family. I understand this through first hand experience as a man who chose this path by marrying a woman and building a family with her. I also understand out of experience that religion can be harsh about who can and who can’t marry because the woman I chose to marry is Roman Catholic and her church refused to marry us because I am Protestant. When we decided to get married by a Protestant priest, who provided a non-denominational ceremony, the Roman Catholic church told us that they would not recognize our marriage, but fortunately for us, the state of California didn’t get involved in religious discrimination and granted us legal recognition and we went on our way to raising a perfectly normal family together.

I think this is one of the great arguments for separation of church and state. Obviously religions have their disagreements and a secular state simply stays out of the argument; it’s the only way to avoid one religion using the state to overrule all the other religions and personal paths, which was precisely the reason why the forefathers of our nation came to the New World; to escape religious persecution by the state, to live in a world where people have the freedom to make personal choices about their spiritual path, where the state doesn’t stand in the way of anyone following the guidelines of their chosen path but doesn’t allow such guidelines to be forced on others who choose something different.

Battle for the Constitution: Equality vs Discrimination

In 18th century Europe, religion dominated the state to a large extent on the ideas put forth by the “Divine Right of Kings” to which Thomas Jefferson responded with the phrase “All men are created equal”. It’s on this pillar of American principle that the California Constitution has NEVER before drawn a line between people based on religious ideas but Proposition 8, if allowed to pass, will change that for the first time ever. This isn’t about whether gays are loosing their rights, this is about introducing legal discrimination. Discrimination IS a black and white issue. Either we believe that all men are created equal or we don’t. Is it so important that the state endorse a religious definition of marriage that we should turn our backs on what America stands for? In this article I try to find an answer to that very question.

In 2000 over 61% of those Californians who voted pushed Proposition 22 into California Code, making same-sex marriage unrecognized, but California is a constitutional democracy where it takes more than a mob of prejudiced voters slapping laws on the books to violate the moral values that a constitution is established to protect and in May of 2008 the Supreme Court in Sacramento did their job and overruled Proposition 22 because it violated the equal protection clause in the California Constitution. So at this point, if people are still hell-bent on introducing discrimination into law they need to seek an amendment to the Constitution in order to disable that protection and this is precisely what Proposition 8 aims to do.

The argument in favor of proposition 8 opens with this passage…


Proposition 8 is simple and straightforward. It contains the same 14 words that were previously approved in 2000 by over 61% of California voters “Only a marriage between and man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

California voters should be aware that despite the simplicity of these 14 words, Proposition 8 is NOT the same thing as Proposition 22. Proposition 22 was only concerned with a legal definition of marriage which may explain why it got a 61% vote. Proposition 8 however is very different in that it seeks to change the Constitution, the very guardian of equality, justice and liberty. Same definition of marriage yes, but escalated to the constitutional level in direct conflict with the equality clause. This IS discrimination and once ratified, Prop 8 will compromise the integrity of our constitution in defending the principles of equality described in the constitution as inalienable rights. So let’s look at what reasons could possibly validate this aggressive move.

What Could Possibly Make it Worth It?
Let’s look at the reasons provided ballot. (I’m providing direct quotes from the Argument in Favor in the interest of integrity but I am also paraphrasing so that I can cut through the crap and say it straight).

#1: “It restores the definition of marriage to what the vast majority of of California voters already approved and human history has understood marriage to be.”


#1: It amends the California Constitution by adding its first definition of marriage. This definition has been approved for state code by a 61% majority in 2000 and is similar to many other understandings of marriage throughout history.

#2: It overturns the outrageous decision of four activist Supreme Court judges who ignored the the will of the people.


#2: It eliminates the constitutional basis for the Supreme Court decision to overrule Proposition 22.

#3: It protects our children from being taught in public schools that same-sex marriage is the same as traditional marriage.


#3: (No paraphrases required)

The first and second reasons amount to the same thing, a reinforcement of Proposition 22. But that doesn’t really answer my question… a law is just a law. What is the reason for this law? Why is it so important discriminate against a certain class of people that it’s worth changing the constitution itself to allow for it?

The third point seems to at least make an effort to justify this insanity, but it seems to lack the slightest bit of substance. Both my kids went to public school in California and neither of them can remember ever being taught anything about marriage. I also went to public school in California and I don’t remember any such instruction either, nor does my wife or anyone else that I know who went to public schools in California so what are they talking about? Here’s what the ballots pro-argument says…


“State law may require teachers to instruct children as young as kindergartners about marriage.”

At this point, the argument references (Family Code 51890) which is actually the section of California Education Code that defines the “comprehensive health education programs” as all educational programs offered in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, designed to ensure a list of things including instruction for aiding them in making decisions in matter of personal, family and community health including…

(D) Family health and child development, including the legal and
financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.

I somehow doubt that teachers are going to teach 5 year old children about the financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood, this is clearly an item on the list intended for older students. But go ahead and read it code, it’s not hard, then ask yourself how in the very next sentence the Argument In Favor comes up with….

“If the gay marriage ruling is not overturned, TEACHERS COULD BE REQUIRED to teach young children there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage.”

Like That’ll Ever Happen…
Could be… So, this isn’t about something that is actually happening because there is NOTHING in the code that “requires teachers to teach young children there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage.” This is clearly about what people imagine COULD happen. OK, so there’s a risk that after 150+ years of California history a new rule COULD be added that requires teachers to teach young children there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage and I understand, this is what constitutional law is about, protecting people from what COULD happen, but there’s a lot of stuff that COULD happen… what makes this particular issue worth a constitutional amendment? Is the threat THAT dangerous?

First of all, is it even that likely? It’s never happened before and it would be a PTA disaster if they tried. Schools already know about the dangers of approaching certain subject areas with children and gay marriage is one of them. I think it would take a very determined school district to overrule parent objections just to tell children that there is no difference between a gay marriage and a “traditional” marriage. Their dogged persistence would then have to battle state hearings that would result from overruled parents appealing to the state. Is it really worth compromising our equality clause for such an unlikely event?

So What if it Does Happen? Can’t Parents Handle It?
Well, as unlikely as it is, something like that COULD happen, maybe some virus from outer space will make teachers crazy, who knows… Well, the next thing to consider then is… so what if it does happen? What harm would result from a young children being taught in school that gay marriage and “traditional” marriage are no different? (As if they don’t already know that…)The Argument In Favor states that this issue is… “for parents to discuss with their children according to their own values and beliefs. It shouldn’t be forced on us against our will. Well, I read the referenced code and ironically, the only definition being forced by law is the definition that Proposition 22 established and Proposition 8 is taking to the constitution.

But let’s talk about that… Supporters say that this issue is for parents to discuss with their children according to their own values and beliefs. So what’s stopping them? What does it matter what the teachers at school say? When my son was in 3rd grade he brought a book home from school that said people who smoke cigarettes are bad. My father-in-law used to smoke cigarettes then. I felt the message he was getting from the school book was misleading and so I sat down with him and explained that grandpa isn’t bad, he just has a bad habit. He also learned that teachers aren’t always right and I believe that he eventually learned to find truth beyond the lesson. Easy. Simple. So why isn’t that sufficient? Do supporters lack so much confidence in their parenting skills that they feel they need to gag alternate views with laws? That’s pathetic.

Don’t Use My Constitution to Teach Your Kids Intolerance
So, what this amounts to is the subtraction of a fundamental tenet of American values, equality, from the constitution to enforce a popular but specific definition of marriage in the the state code so that teachers can’t tell children that there is no difference between gay marriage and “traditional” marriage and I guess this is important because alternate views are dangerous? I dunno, I loose it about there. I just think Prop 8 supporters need to stop trippin’ on gay people for a moment and consider the bigger picture here.

01. November 2008 · Comments Off on Intervention and the Swerving Economy · Categories: Economics, Politics · Tags: , , ,

Interesting op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last week (10/27/08) titled “The Age of Prosperity is Over” written by Arthur B. Laffer. CNN-Headline news mentioned it on one of their late morning shows but I only caught bits and pieces because the TV was in commercial evasion-mode. You know, when every three minutes the commercials come on and you mute the TV, get focused on something else and then suddenly notice the show is back. But I caught enough to get curious about why Laffer thought the Age of Prosperity is over. The title invokes such a drastic picture. So I ran down to the hotel lobby and picked up a copy of the paper and read it.

Laffer brings up some interesting points but what I got in the end was another plug for the free market as you might suspect just from his opening paragraphs where he says “Financial panics if left alone, rarely cause much damage to the real economy, output, employment or production” and from his closing paragraph where he says “Whenever people make decisions when they are panicked, the consequences are rarely pretty.” In other words, intervention is a bad idea.

In support of his later closing statement he reminds us of several examples of bad decisions made in the throes of economic panic but interestingly is entire editorial is void of any examples to support his opening claim. To me this reflects a one-sided point of view that I find typical among proponents of free market. After reading the article, I decided to take a shower and think the editorial over in my head. As I did I was reminded of a car accident I had a few years ago.

I was in the fast lane and a truck passed me along the right, pulled in front of me and then slammed his brakes on. I had little choice but to slam my brakes on too, but that wasn’t enough, I had to swerve to avoid crashing into his tail gate. Now the car I was driving was a rental, a Chevy Impala (which for those of you who don’t know drives like a boat). The combination of the panic caused by the truck in front of me and my unfamiliarity with the car I was driving resulted in my over steering, I probably swerved about five times, each time resulting in a wider arc requiring more drastic compensation, each time I over estimated and gradually I lost control entirely and smashed the car into the center divider, totaling the car, almost dislocating my shoulder and ripping a patch of skin off the back of my hand.

The point is that my panic and resulting over reactions on the I-77 that day is a perfect analogy to the panic driven decisions that Laffer was describing in his editorial. But my analogy also brings up another important consideration that Laffer’s one-sided perspective doesn’t acknowledge, that simply letting go of the steering wheel wouldn’t have helped me either. In fact anytime you drive your car, even when driving in a straight line in perfect conditions with your mind drifting off into the clouds, your hands are constantly saving your life, by steering. I remember when I was a kid in the back seat watching my dad’s hands on the wheel as he drove us along a long and straight two-lane highway through the California desert. I noticed his hands were never still, they we always moving ever so slightly in either direction. If he were to suddenly commit to taking his hands off the wheel we would have wound up plowed into a Joshua tree in no time.

While I agree with Laffer that decisions made to fix the economy while in a panic because the economy is swerving all over the highway rarely wind up looking pretty, I don’t agree that the answer is to simply take our hands off the wheel. I think we need a steady hand on the wheel at all times so that the economy doesn’t swerve in the first place. It doesn’t have to be heavy handed, just even handed, that’s all. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so if you don’t want a lot of-over-the-top intervention then invest in a moderate dose of sensible intervention before the economy get’s out of hand.

Indeed, we should note that while we can criticize all the intervention being proposed by our government today, with confidence that most of it will fall short of fixing the swerving economy, we shouldn’t forget that it was the lack of intervention that caused the economy to swerve in the first place.

29. October 2008 · Comments Off on Joe the Plumber, Can you be any Dumber? · Categories: Politics · Tags: ,

(a pretend letter to Joe the Plumber)

Joe, I can understand why McCain and Palin are so eager to stoke your fallacy equating the Obama tax plan to socialism; because fallacies, no matter how looney, sway votes… But notice how they handle it? It’s a “Joe-said-it” fallacy. They don’t want to take responsibility for initiating such a wild misconception but they love it that you did. They’re capitalizing on your ignorance Joe. What? You don’t see what wrong with what you said? Here, let me break it down for you.

Is Obama’s tax plan a form of socialism?

First of all, socialism is defined by the public ownership of production and distribution of goods… Nothing in Obama’s tax plan suggests public ownership of anything. If you want to talk about socialism you need to find examples of where the government actually owns the means of production or distribution of goods… The Pentagon for instance, a tax-funded, government agency that controls the distribution of defense-related products. Technically, THAT’S socialism.

Oh, you don’t think so? Well, no big surprise there. Despite staunch conservative support for certain government operations that take the form of socialism, the word “socialism” itself is simultaneously promoted by conservative rhetoric as a derogatory term, most frequently used to describe their liberal opponents. This leads many conservatives to the false conclusion that the very socialist features that they actually support can’t possibly be socialist for the simple reason that conservatives hate socialism. It amazes me how that social conditioning actually works.

Look, all the Obama tax plan is suggesting is that the government get more of it’s revenue from higher brackets, that’s not socialism, that’s just taxes. Granted, shifting the tax burden up the brackets does screw with trickle-down capitalism but capitalism is capitalism whether you push the money in through the top or push the money in through the bottom, it’s still the same American free-enterprise market.

Conservatives have been pushing the tax-burden down the brackets to feed cash into the top for decades. On a fundamental level the strategy is the same, like turning left or right using the same steering wheel, the most dramatic difference being that conservatives tend to borrow more so they can tell their faithful flock that through the magic of “fiscal responsibility” they don’t have to pay for their increased government spending… as if the mounting debt won’t ever become a problem. And sure enough it did… The big fat lie – “you can get something for nothing” was propagated by the mortgage industry to lure in capital debt AND by the Republican party to lure in political support.

And Joe, Get over yourself, the government isn’t there to reward your success like some kind of girl scout club handing out merit badges. The plain simple fact is that government spends money and that money has to come from somewhere. What’s that? The government should stop spending money then? Well, that would certainly eliminate the need for taxes. But for all the “opposition” to government spending, conservative politics have only increased government spending. Here’s some fiscal responsibility for ya Joe, cut spending first THEN cut taxes. Until then, we have to tax, even if we borrow we still have to pay the debt off with… taxes. So why tax the higher brackets? Well, the higher brackets happen to be where the money is. And don’t give
me that Rush Limbaugh crap about how unfair it is for the top 50% to pay for 90% of the taxes. Rush used cumulative percentages that hid the fact that it’s only the top 5% making more than $130K that actually pay more than a fair share. The rest of that top half actually pays less than their fair share and as for that top 5% they have more than enough wealth to offset the tax burden, something the bottom 90% doesn’t have. In fact when you include capital income from capital gains, dividends, interest, and rents, in other words, income generated by wealth, the top 1% actually earns more than 57% of the total, far less than their 34% share of total tax.

They’re playing with your head Joe.

And don’t EVEN give me that crap that people won’t have any incentive to work hard just because higher incomes mean higher taxes. The American dream isn’t all about taxes, it’s about houses, cars, education for the kids and everything else that goes with higher incomes, even if taxes come with it. Do you see anyone saying they don’t want to win the lottery because they would have to pay tax on it? Get real; even half of a hard-earned dollar is better than a handout quarter.

So it’s totally not socialism Joe, and it’s nothing personal either, so get over yourself, grow up, concentrate on how to offset the cost of a three point tax increase on income over $250K… a worthy business leader would know what to do. It would be the same challenge created by market driven inflation and sudden drops in sales. If you own a successful business you should work smarter not harder and if you can’t then you shouldn’t buy that business, you’ll wind up putting all your employees out of a job and I’m sure when that happens you’ll be blaming the government for taxing you too much instead of blaming yourself for not being able to steer a company through economic challenges.

Maybe you just stick to fixing pipes and let someone else with a brain run the business. You’ll be better off.

22. October 2008 · Comments Off on Vice President … in Charge? · Categories: Politics · Tags: , ,


Last night I couldn’t help but notice how the evening commentaries were ripping up Sarah Palin for misunderstanding the job description of the vice presidential office. In answer to a question by a nine year old boy, Sarah Palin said… “They’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes…”

Well, before writing her off as an idiot, let’s at least pay attention to Article 1, Section 3 of the U.S.Constitution, which states…


“Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.”

According to the Senate Rules, presiding over the Senate means keeping order, so in one sense, you could say Palin was correct, that the Vice President is “in charge” of the Senate, at least while presiding, but that doesn’t suggest the kind of influence over actual legislation that Palin seemed to be implying. In fact, most Vice Presidents in the past have spent very little time presiding over the Senate, leaving that role to the President pro tempore, who presides over the Senate in absence of the Vice President, or if the Vice President assumes the office of President of the United States. In practice, freshman senators are traditionally assigned to this role in order to learn Senate procedure, which suggests a somewhat inert position. There is only one other constitutionally mandated duty of the Vice President and that is to receive from the states the tally of electoral ballots cast for president and vice president and to open the certificates “in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives,” so that the total votes could be counted (Article II, section 1). Once again, there is no actual vote or decision making in this role either, just procedure.

Perhaps…


So while it’s safe to say that our standing laws don’t really give as much power to the Vice President over the senate as Palin may have been suggesting, that doesn’t mean the office won’t develop significant power under direction from the President of the United States, which is another point that Palin brings up constantly. Historically, the role played by the Vice President varies dramatically from one administration to the next and if we look at the current administration we will notice a Vice President that many feel has more influence over the direction of the country than the President himself.

Vice President Dick Cheney hasn’t exactly been a passive standby and much of his role as Vice President has been developed as a product of his own character. In fact he has used his constitutional link to the Senate as an effective political weapon…

According to documents released in June of 2007 by a House committee, Cheney made the claim that because he is the president of the Senate, his office is not fully part of the Bush administration, but is also part of the legislative branch, therefore exempting his office from a presidential order regulating federal agencies’ handling of classified national security information. This move effectively blocked the on-site inspection of his office by National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office, who in response said that the Vice President’s failure to demonstrate that his office has proper security safeguards in place could jeopardize the government’s top secrets. At least one of those inspections would have come at a particularly delicate time – when Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and other aides were under criminal investigation for their suspected roles in leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
Cheney’s executive decision

So standing rules aside, we need to realize that the “flexibility” that Palin keeps talking about in reference to the office of the Vice President could be a significant political factor and as Cheney has already proven, an effective route for diabolical agendas.

05. February 2008 · Comments Off on My Personal 2008 Election Assessment · Categories: Politics · Tags:

Since tomorrow my home state of California is holding primaries, I thought I’d share this interesting site which lays out the positions of the candidates on the key issues.
2008 Presidential Election Candidates on the Issues Although I can see right away that this is an over simplified view of things I think it still provides a pretty good thumbnail sketch of how these candidates fit in with what you feel is important, especially after being confused by all the campaign rhetoric.

After weighing the issues, giving each one a weight of 1 to 10 to reflect my own personal values, I was able to develop a general rating of these candidates; the higher the score – the better the candidate. The most interesting thing that I discovered is that I went in with every intention to be non-partisan, and as I went through the civil rights issues I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Republican candidates were actually ahead in my ratings, Cool, I’m not a one-sided bigot after all. But as I went down through ALL the issues, amazingly, ALL of the Democrats wound up with higher scores that ANY of the Republicans. Oh well, at least I feel better knowing that I side with the Democrats based on a wide array of issues and not through a hive mind subscription. BTW, I did this a few months ago when contestants such as Edwards were still on play.

Here is what I came up with.


Kucinich: 132

Kucinich is consitent with my values through all the categories except he doesn’t support the death penalty and I do for pragmatic reasons, even though I completely understand the moral opposition to capital punishment.


Clinton: 111

A few mismatches in what I consider to be the civil rights arena, especially her support for the Patriot Act. I also disagree with some of her foreign policy positions but she scored big on universal health and the environment.


Edwards: 111

Just refer to my notes on Clinton. Aside from the clothes they wear, I can’t tell the difference between them.


Gravel: 107

Who the hell is Gravel? His realative high score tells me I should find out more about him but his obscurity tells me it probably wouldn’t really be worth the time. My only beef with him is his support of ANWR drilling.


Obama: 104

Big score in the civil rights arena, along with Paul and McCain, but where the Republicans fell short in health care and foreign policy, Obama continued to score points. Where he lost points with me was his opposition to the death penalty and the Kyoto accords which I simply don’t understand.


Richardson: 103

Richardson scored big on most issues, except his support for the Patriot Act, ANWR drilling and the foreign policy category.


McCain: 79

the ex-POW scored big on the civil rights issues and then it went down hill from there. Opposition to universal healthcare and Kyoto are really sore issues for me and I’m not too fond of his foreign policy ideals.


Paul: 78

Paul and McCain seem like the only Republicans that oppose a police state, which is big for me. I also agree with Paul’s foreign policy ideals, but he’s just too much libertarian for me and it shows in his views on health care and the environment.


Giuliani: 37

About the only things I like about Giuliani is his opposition to amending the constitution to ban gay marriage and his support for stem cell research, so while he doesn’t outsource his mind to religious idiocracy I still see him as an advocate of an environmentally destructive police state.


Huckabee: 35

The preachers biggest score with me is his stance against torture, which makes him along with McCain and Paul the only three Republicans that actually think torture is beneath us. I suspect that being a pastor, forces him to actually BE a Christian as opposed to just pretending to be one for the sake of getting votes from the religious right. That means he simply can’t accept the legalization of torture. Thank God for true Christianity! I have torture a maximum weight (10 points) so that was big for me, but aside from that I can’t find any other issues that I feel are critical where we both agree.


Thompson: 29

His opposition to amending the constitution to ban gay marriage is it. A few low scores like his support for the death penalty but that’s it.


Hunter: 13

A low score for his support for the death penalty, opposition to a ban on assault weapons and the Iraqi troop surge, just three things, all of which are border issues for me anyway.


Romney: 7

Only two things I agree with Romney on… his support for the death penalty and the troop surge; both border issues for me. All I can say is if America votes for Romney then we may as well be shooting ourselves in the head to save him the trouble.

Again this is only good for a thumb sketch. The close scores led me to investigate these position futher and so doing I am completely torn between Clinton and Obama even though Obama scored less on the thumb sketch. On the other hand, I was able to find some very dramatic indications of who I would rather see locked up in an insane assylum than running for president.

25. October 2007 · Comments Off on Water Fight in Georgia · Categories: Environment, Politics, Social/Culture · Tags:


Spending the last year and a half in Charlotte, North Carolina, I’ve witnessed the effects of the worst drought in that area on record. It seems every week I see or hear about yet another escalation of the water crisis to another elevated status, but the story that really grabs my attention is in nearby Georgia; also suffering from drought, where officials are on their feet demanding that the Army Corps of Engineers reduce the flow of water from their reservoirs to downstream water ways in Alabama and Florida.

The Army Corps of Engineers are of course abiding by federal mandates that when a river flows between two or more states, each state has a right to an equal share of the water. Additionally, other laws such as the Endangered Species Act require that water be available for threatened or endangered species that live in or around Chattahoochee River and Apalachicola Bay. But Georgia is finding it hard to tolerate these laws and after the federal government refused to comply with the state’s demands, Georgia’s governor, Perdue stated that he will file a lawsuit demanding an exception to the laws and that the Corps restrict the water flow saying that there is no scientific justification for the Federal Government’s position.

From what I’ve been hearing on the local news channels the water flow continues to insure the survival of endangered marine life downstream including a variety of mussels and fish and this does seem important but to be fair we should consider the other side of the equation; the endangered water supply for population centers in northern Georgia such as Atlanta, which gets most of its water from Lake Lanier (shown in picture), one of the reservoirs in question and the centerpiece of the standoff. The urgency of this issue is underlined by an estimate of only 90 days left before the water supply runs out completely.

For about a month I’ve been hearing the outrage of Georgia officials who emphasize the importance of Atlanta’s water supply and the silliness of making things worse by giving water away to mussels and fish, but today for the first time I learned that there is still more to the story; It’s not just mussels and fish that need the water from Lake Lanier. It’s also a line of power stations that supply electricity to cities in Alabama and Florida, funny how that wasn’t mentioned in the local news stories or in the attacks mounted by Georgia officials. Being aware of the larger picture I can see the magnitude of the problem and I start to wonder once again about the self-centered and short-sighted aspects of human nature that seem to dominate our culture. I view this as an example of what to expect when human populations outgrow their resources. It would be nice to think that we will pull together and find innovative ways to solve shortages, but if this fight over water is any indication, it seems far more likely that people will turn against each other and squabble over the scraps.

More importantly, I think another lesson learned is that we do this to ourselves. Lake Lanier isn’t natural, it’s a man-made reservoir that was built for the same reasons so many of the reservoirs in the south were built, to control floods and to produce electricity. Since its construction, metro Atlanta has been taking water from the lake to use for municipal drinking water, which was only authorized by Congress as an incidental use secondary to hydroelectricity. But nevertheless, this new supply of water created by obstructing its natural flow has allowed Atlanta to expand …and to grow dependent on it.

C. Ronald Carroll, director of science for the River Basin Center at the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology, argued in an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “we face a sort-of reckoning for a string of short-sighted decisions about water use that were made without anticipating drought conditions.”

Well, we all know what the problem is. Developers would gladly pay the environmental costs on Tuesday for money in the pocket today.

sources:
http://www.thedailygreen.com/2007/10/18/drought-showdown-in-atlanta/7914/