January 2012

Energy A No Show On State Of The Union

While the deficit and unemployment was a major part of President Obama's State of the Union, energy self sufficiency was absent...again. To anyone that follows energy self sufficiency, it's not a surprise. It's more than a little evident that the current administration is being hit hard by both sides of the energy debate.

We live in a world where government officials are heavily influenced by political action committees and lobbyists. The big oil companies both foreign and domestic are pouring money into these groups, hoping to sway officials to their side. It's an uphill battle, but if you throw enough money at people. then it's going to get their attention.

That's where we are currently at in the political spectrum. Public opinion wants renewable energy and energy self sufficiency because they are tired of paying outrageous power and gas bills. They write countless letters to their public officials, but lack the money of big business. While they organize marches outside the capital, big business is having lunch with our officials at 5-star restaurants. As much as I believe in energy self sufficiency, I realize it's not an easy battle.

The White House, Taxes and the Rest of Us

I guess the meaning of fair means something different in the White House

Occasionally I wake up and turn on the computer to sift through the latest and greatest and just have to smile. I have to admit that sometimes the thing that makes me smile cab be considered a little cynical. Such is the case today when I came across the little fact that the White House has “36 tax deadbeats” that happen to “owe an average of $23,165.33.”

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner Out If Obama Is Reelected

The last of Obama's original economic team has signalled his exit with Obama's second term.

Tim Geithner has had a rocky career within the Obama administration. Shortly after taking the position of Treasury Secretary when Obama was inaugurated, the unfurling economic collapse forced Geithner to make some drastic decisions with very little time or information. Many of those decisions, including the TARP bailout plan, have had long-term political fallout and major economic implications. Now, in 2012, Geithner is the only remaining member of Obama’s original economic team, but that may be changing. He announced on Bloomberg TV that, should Obama be re-elected to a second term, he would not keep the Treasury Secretary on for his second term. “I'm confident he'll be president. But I'm also confident he's going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury."

One of the largest criticisms facing Tim Geithner is that his recommendations further consolidated and grew banks that were already “too big to fail”. Dead Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said that he made it the, “center of his agenda to restore the banks to the pre-crisis status quo, rather than make way for a smaller and less consolidated financial sector.” There’s no question that the financial sector has not been made more accountable or less volatile by the federal controls that have been placed on it, nor by government stimulus. Although this may be partly due to congressional obstruction of some of the new financial regulatory agencies, and partly due to the inefficacy of agencies like the SEC to truly bring those banks to bear for their malfeasance.

The Battle is Nowhere Near Over

ignorance does not die easily

If you are older than elementary-school age, laws against interracial marriage have been in place in your lifetime.  Alabama was the last state to do away with these laws--  less than 12 years ago, in 2000.  The fact that the Supreme Court declared bans against interracial marriage to be unconstitutional in 1967 did not have much effect on those who wished to hold onto their ignorance with all they had. 

Where is This "Affordable Healthcare for All" Obama Talked About?

another example of Obama's inability to relate

There are individuals who have high enough incomes to easily afford private health insurance;  there are individuals who receive various degrees of healthcare coverage through their jobs;  there are those who are eligible for Medicaid or Medicare;  and then there are the rest of us.  While trying to figure out what Obama means by 'affordable,' I think the real issue is he believes the majority of Americans are in those first three groups.  A large percentage of the population is not. 

The Sanctity Of Athletic Programs To Low-Performing Schools

..and why they insist on maintaining sports despite the threat of closure.

A recent story in The Atlantic highlights the plight of a small rural school district among the threat of school “reorganization” rules. For many rural communities around the country the school is a kind of nexus; providing jobs, an identity, even a weekend’s entertainment in the form of athletic events. However, far too often state mandates require that low performing schools be closed or consolidated to provide their students with a better education. This begs the question, “What is more damaging to a student’s chances; the loss of academic opportunities, or the loss of their community?”

Change The Rules On Slave Chocolate

A Few Words Would Make A Big Difference

 

Note: picture shows tea cultivation.

Beware of meaningless reforms. You might have heard that the United States Department of Labor has an executive order called EO 13126, prohibiting the use of slave chocolate. This might lead you to go out and buy a chocolate bar with a clean conscience even though it doesn't have a Fair Trade label- and in all likelihood, you'd be eating slave chocolate.

Two Kinds of Fair Trade

Clear Labels Are Needed

Fair Trade USA has just made a change to its rules for Fair Trade certification. Companies can now receive one of two types of Fair Trade label on their products. The product can either be labeled “Fair Trade Certified” or “Fair Trade Ingredients.” The first one means that the entire product is fair trade, and the second one means that just some of the ingredients are.

What About These Arms?

Defensive Weapons Should Be Protected Too

The Democratic National Convention is going to be held this year in Charlotte, North Carolina. In a stunning display of blindness to the current mood of their own base, they've decided to hold it at the Bank of America stadium. But that's not the real problem with this convention.

 

The real problem is the new set of laws, designed by the city of Charlotte to crack down on Occupy before it even shows up. The new laws make it illegal for protesters to wear any kind of body armor, carry shields or wear masks. Now, you might think this sounds reasonable- why would the protesters be wearing those things just to march around and carry signs?

Social Services Cover a Bigger Problem

What About A Living Wage?

To employ me for less than what I would need to live on would be merely a bad joke if employers and employees were able to negotiate on equal terms. You could suggest the low wage, I could laugh in your face, and you could either come up with a reasonably sane offer or I could go apply elsewhere. But that is not the reality.

Violent Intolerance of Dissent

The New Normal

The dictatorships and military juntas of the world have always been naïve when it comes to free speech. Why? Because speech can be powerful in an atmosphere of outright repression, where the mere act of telling the truth is both courageous and revolutionary. As long as you allow the appearance of free speech, though, you can easily render it meaningless, and that's an art the so-called Western democracies have been perfecting for years.

The Land of the More Free Than North Korea

Hey, That's Something... Right?

“The Land of the Free”... that's what they call it. Only we're not quite as free as the forty-six other countries ahead of us on the annual list put out by Reporters Without Borders. We're not quite as free as Taiwan or Botswana, South Africa, Ghana or Hungary. We're not as free as El Salvador or Slovenia. Are we as free as Tanzania or Portugal or Uruguay? No, sorry, we're not. Lithuania, Niger or Slovakia? Unfortunately, no. Mali, Poland, Surinam or Namibia? You guessed it.

State of the Union Address 2012

I must say I was pretty impressed by the State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama. I want to state here that I wasn’t a big supporter of Obama by any means and so I always look at these things with an open mind. At the same time, I am always looking at what the different sides have to say.

President Obama hugged Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on the way up the stage in a very moving moment and everybody in the chamber of the United States House of Representatives applauded.

It was an impressive speech as expected from someone who is able to deliver and the primary reason was the optimistic tone of the address with a firm statement being made about America’s dominance in the world and how people who question it are mistaken. I particularly enjoyed this as I felt that it was not only rousing but true. 

AIDS: It's a Gay Thing

According to this Tennessee state senator, heterosexuals are practically immune to HIV.

Have you heard? It's practically impossible for a straight person to contract the HIV virus! It's true! You know why? Because a man from Tennessee said so! OK, now that I have your attention, let's take a minute to catch our breath and think about this statement and the implications behind it. Stacey Campfield, a state senator in Tennessee, appeared on Michelangelo Signorile's radio show on Thursday, where he said that it was "virtully impossible" for heterosexuals to get AIDS. In essense, he said that HIV/AIDS is a gay problem and not worthy of research or empathy or and serious discussion. He blamed the victims for getting a disease that is acquired through the transfer of bodily fluids. 

It seems as though that the religious right wing has ramped up the rhetoric against the LGBT community by playing to the lowest common denominator: the religoius zealot who has no capacity for critical thinking. During his interview with Signorile, Campfield was hawkish and arrogant in his statements, even though he used no scientific proof to back up his opinions. He said

"Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community -- it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall."

How Much Does the Economy Play into Immigration Concerns?

Panic leads to a racist mentality yet again...

For as long as I can remember, I have heard people complain about immigrants. The largest complaint that I’ve heard is the ideal that Americans are making less money as a result of an increase in immigrant labor. Looking back through the years, I’ve noticed that those complaints seem to increase and decrease at the same rate of economic hardships.

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