Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday Stuff

Ari Berman and Sam Seder break down the latest on the Repugs' war on voters (the ones who traditionally don't vote for them, of course - and this tells us of the "voter ID" fraud that they're trying to perpetrate in our beloved commonwealth)...

...and it was a bit tough to find a tune that, I felt, was compatible with this - hope you agree.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday Stuff

Hey, Catholic Church and Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki? Puppy-dog-eyes Paul Ryan is a member of “the flock.” Anything to say about this?

Yeah, let's arrest people who speak out against the bullshit that the alleged financial genius of the GOP is peddling, shall we? And sshh, don't wake our corporate media.


...and I guess I should put up the unofficial "9/11" video of "Lonesome Day" by Bruce Springsteen (wonder why the official video can't be embedded?), but instead, I looked for something that was also contemplative and lyrical and fit the mood, I think, so I found this; I hope you agree (I don't think I've ever included a video featuring a song by Greg Kihn, so I'm definitely overdue).

The Obligatory "Ten Years After 9/11" Post (updates)

The bad guys won.

No, that’s not meant as a slam at our military, which almost always are sent into some God-forsaken area to kill people of a different skin color, doing the bidding of the corpocracy in the sname of oil, patriotism, or some other marketable commodity. And considering that they’re given such abominable missions, they usually perform with almost unimaginable heroism.

And that’s also not meant as a slam at the men and women of our intelligence services, whose skill, dedication and bravery have, to date, prevented another attack on the scale of the one we will commemorate on Sunday.

And it’s definitely not meant as a slam at the families and friends of the victims of the attacks; any words I could come up with could never adequately describe their pain and sense of loss, so it’s probably best that I not say anything about that, except to wish them the very best as they go forward with their lives.

Update 1 9/10/11: It's also definitely not a slam at the WTC or Pentagon first responders, just so that's understood.

So who is that comment aimed at? Fair question.

It is meant as a slam at our corporate media, which, this prior week in particular, has trotted out its “9/11 Anniversary” file of Dubya’s photo-ops as if we actually want to remember any of them (looking befuddled in the Florida classroom after being told of the attacks by former chief of staff Andrew Card, embracing a rescue worker at Ground Zero while holding that megaphone, as pointless and inappropriate of a prop for such a horrific scene as one can imagine…oh, and by the way, National Geographic, thanks for that fluff “interview” with Former President Nutball). And that also goes to the pundits who have treated potential future war criminals like Dick Cheney with a deference that, perhaps, they deserve in some utterly demonic universe, but definitely not this one.

(Oh, and corporate media, including this guy? The reasons I was given for invading Iraq were that Saddam Hussein had nukes and chemical weapons, not because we wanted to spread Democracy, or something like that, which somehow evolved later after the first two reasons were proven to be baseless lies.)

And it’s meant as a slam at anyone in public office who thinks that the wholesale slaughter of Muslims, particularly in the Middle East, is going to do anything whatsoever to ensure our safety, to say nothing of trying to burnish some assumption of morality on our part. And it is also meant as a slam at anyone in public office who thinks that betraying our Constitution, while claiming to act in the name of expediency, is going to do anything other than further enshrine the national security state of warrantless surveillance and other invasions of our liberty. And it is further meant as a slam at those who, after sending our military off to fight, suffer, struggle and die for a war that didn’t need to be fought (Iraq), believe that it’s somehow our patriotic duty to forget them and go shopping instead, to say nothing of holding those responsible to account (and no, letting them leave office without indictments or prison sentences doesn’t count).

And it’s also meant as a slam at those who “rode the wave” of 9/11 fervor to enhance their public profiles, all the while continuing to cheer the victimization of people of a different skin color, religion and ethnicity and encouraging everyone that they could to do the same, even to this day.

And it is also meant as a slam at those who saw an opportunity to make money off of the tragic events that occurred on that day almost ten years ago, mainly in the form of government contracts.

And it’s definitely meant as a slam at anyone who, for whatever reason (maybe the urging of conservative media or an antipathy to intelligent thought and analysis of the news), decided to turn off their brains and “trust their leaders” during the years that followed the attack (I don’t suspect that that’s still a problem, if for no other reason than the same people on TV, radio and the Internet who perpetrated this fraud switched on or about 1/21/09 into “OMIGOD WE MUST DEFEAT THE SCARY KENYAN SOCAILIST MUSLIM!!” mode), letting craven, corrupt politicians and corporate media sycophants think for them instead. And it’s meant as a slam at anyone who would use the term “so pre-9/11” as a pejorative with total seriousness (as opposed to yours truly, who is being tongue in cheek).

So yes, in all those respects, the bad guys won (including our current president who, by failing to hold our prior ruling cabal to account, has thus codified their behavior, as noted in the fifth paragraph here). I realize that’s not a very happy thought as we conduct or participate in the observances that are only appropriate (and really, is it asking too much of the National Football League not to play their damn games, and for the TV networks to air programs that are tasteful and educational tributes instead?). However, if we fail to recognize this plain fact, we are doing all we can to ensure that future attacks will indeed take place.

For what it’s worth, this is the first post I wrote about the attacks with my own personal remembrances. It’s likely that I won’t post on this subject anymore, so I might as well cover everything at once. And one of the reasons why I probably won’t post on this anymore is because 9/11 hasn’t become an opportunity to reflect on what happened and support one another, considering who and what we are and how we can triumph over our adversaries by our ideals, practicing and obeying the dictates of both common sense and the rule of law, as much as it has become an excuse to subject ourselves to the flotsam of media images and time-practiced emotions and responses with very little in the way of follow-through indicating that we’ve learned very little of anything whatsoever.

Our institutions of government have further eroded. Corporate influence continues to consolidate. The politicians we elect, to a greater and greater degree, utterly disregard the wishes of those they represent (or, more often than not, the symbiosis of the media-political-industrial complex results in dictating policy positions to sheep-like citizens who dutifully parrot talking points on cue, with the patronizing approval of said complex who reap political and financial advantage as a result).

And 9/11 (or the fallout from it, more precisely) had an awful lot to do with that.

That’s why the bad guys won.

P.S. - I thought this was a good column by Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer...thoughtful stuff.

Update 2 9/10/11: As far as I'm concerned, this further validates my opinion (h/t Atrios).

Update 9/11/11: Uh, yep (and maybe that's why the NFL decided to have opening day after all, so this country wouldn't have to think about it too much).

Update 9/12/11: Kudos to Professor Krugman here - if Malkin is apoplectic, then it must be good for America (and if Rummy had a molecule of decency - which he doesn't of course - he'd do us all a favor and go lie down somewhere and turn into dust).

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Thursday Stuff

(Looks like Number 44 took the gloves off before the wretched 112th Congress tonight – well done, Mr. President.)

(Also, here’s a “deep thought” from yours truly; Am I the only one who thinks it’s utterly pathetic that it must be a given for the President of the United States to not compete with NFL during an address to Congress and the nation since he would surely lose in the ratings if he did?)

Update 9/9/11: He must have done a good job since he got the predictable reactions from the usual suspects.

Conversely, this clip from last night’s Republican presidential candidates beauty show illustrates why I don’t like people who affiliate themselves with “the loyal opposition” generally; for the most part (with notable exceptions), they’re a bunch of swaggering, self-promoting blowhards with opinions a mile wide and half an inch deep, and they’ll try to get you to do their dirty work for them and make you think they’re doing you the favor instead.

I thought of this as I watched this sickening clip while Perry, Romney etc. all did their best to fellate the memory of The Sainted Ronnie R (more here…oh, and by the way, did you notice that, at about :51, “Goodhair” con-vee-niently left out the part about the trial and the presumed guilty verdict before the execution?)…

…and yep, I think this fits in response (sorry, no video).

Thursday Mashup (9/8/11)

  • This tells us that Elizabeth Warren, the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that the Repugs are trying so desperately to destroy, is currently polling within 9 points of “Wall Street Scott” Brown in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts.

    And just as a reminder, these links provide lots of reading material about the incumbent Repug:

    Also, click here to watch a 57-minute clip of a lecture Warren gave in 2007 detailing the plight of the middle class in our “ownership society” (no wonder the Repugs want so desperately to defeat her and what she represents).

  • Further, Mikey The Beloved inflicted another attack on common sense on the Op-Ed page of the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday (here).

    I’ll try not to be too repetitive and restate only his main points, such as they are:
    1. Overhaul the federal tax code (see, Mikey says that “Small business owners tell me that uncertainty over a future tax burden makes them reluctant to expand, invest or hire. We must adopt tax reform that is fair and predictable.”)
    In response, I give you the following (here)…
    McClatchy reached out to owners of small businesses, many of them mom-and-pop operations, to find out whether they indeed were being choked by regulation, whether uncertainty over taxes affected their hiring plans and whether the health care overhaul was helping or hurting their business.

    Their response was surprising.

    None of the business owners complained about regulation in their particular industries, and most seemed to welcome it. Some pointed to the lack of regulation in mortgage lending as a principal cause of the financial crisis that brought about the Great Recession of 2007-09 and its grim aftermath.
    2. Simplify and Streamline Federal Regulations on Small Businesses
    Mikey wants to pass the REINS Act, which would give Congress the authority to approve regulations from the executive branch…of course, he’s a co-sponsor – my response is here in the fifth bullet; even President Hopey Changey, who caves even for a stiff wind, won’t bite on this one, nor should he.

    3. Incentivize Innovation
    Mikey also loves the America Reinvents Act, which has problems, according to this column…
    Most troubling, Section 18 of the bill amounts to a special earmark inserted in the Senate at the last minute per the request of the banking lobby. The provision discriminates against a class of patents that big banks infringe, financial related “business method patents” (“BMPs”). While the bill’s court-like opposition procedures are forward looking and time limited for every other type of patent, Section 18 expands the time limits just for BMPs and even allows banks to institute these procedures against already issued BMPs (even patents already tested in court).

    Section 18 will affect many companies, including ours. (Trading Technologies) owns patents that have gone through a trial in Federal Court, an appeal and two different reexaminations at the PTO. Yet, Section 18 will likely require TT to spend more time and money defending these tested patents. Only lawyers stand to benefit from this.
    4. Authorize Drilling and Infrastructure Projects

    From the gas pump to electric bills, increased energy costs are straining American families and business productivity. Along with colleagues from both sides of the aisle, I have introduced the Infrastructure Jobs and Energy Independence Act to address America’s energy woes and also start rebuild our aging infrastructure.
    Interesting that neither Mikey, nor anyone else in the House as nearly as I can tell, have put a price tag on this, which tells me he’s not really serious about trying to stimulate job creation as he is about removing those oh-so-pesky federal regulations that prevent stuff like, you know, drilling for oil in the Everglades (more here).

    5. Encourage the Repatriation of American Owned Capital
    In response, I give you the following here about that; it didn’t amount to diddly squat when it came to job creation the last time we tried it (and by the way, if our august captains of industry were playing by the rules, they wouldn’t need to “repatriate” the income to begin with).

    And last but possibly least…
    6. Make Government Live Within Its Means
    I’ve refuted this crap about a million times when it comes to job growth, so for now, I’ll just link once more here to Professor Krugman in response (and by the way, here’s a response to Mikey’s typical wingnuttia on the supposedly “failed” stimulus)..

    Mikey crowed like crazy last year during the campaign about how the unemployment rate doubled under the watch of then-representative Patrick Murphy. Well, our current rep hasn’t done anything to lower it either.

    Where are the jobs, Mikey??!!

  • Finally, I should note that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput (pronouned "shay-poo," I believe) is being “installed” today as the ninth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as noted here.

    Please forgive me if I withhold any fanfare.

    As nearly as I can determine, the message from Rome (in naming Chaput) is clear: put a lid on the fallout from the abuse scandal, increase vocations and church attendance, and (for good measure) break the Catholic high school teachers union.

    As noted here…
    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Incoming Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput doesn't want the Roman Catholic church to lose members.

    But he says it's not the place for so-called "cafeteria Catholics" who don't accept all of its teachings.

    Chaput has condemned the University of Notre Dame for bestowing an award on President Obama, who supports abortion rights, and thinks Catholic politicians with the same beliefs should not take Holy Communion.

    "If they don't believe what the church teaches, they're not really Catholic," Chaput told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday, two days before his installation at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
    In response, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Monica Yant Kinney wrote the following in July…
    As messages from on high go, this one couldn't be clearer: All you reform-minded Catholics out there had better keep on praying, or exit to the nearest Episcopal church. Change is coming to the Philadelphia Archdiocese, but it's nothing like what you envisioned.

    In one of the least-kept secrets of the summer, Cardinal Justin Rigali is being replaced by Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput.

    In Rigali, the archdiocese's 1.5 million Catholics had a seemingly disengaged leader who said little and emoted less. In Chaput, they gain a practically puritanical - and proudly political - shepherd who has so many hard-line views, he deserves his own slot on Fox News.

    …Chaput barks like a bulldog and is revered by those who would rather the church become smaller and purer than change…

    And if that forced exodus of change agents leaves the Catholic Church poorer and unable to serve those most in need? So be it. At least for another generation.

    "Real leadership," Chaput told an interviewer last month, "is about more than making people feel good about themselves."

    Perhaps, but must it involve making faithful followers feel worse?
    After reading this, I thought it best to do a little research myself. And in so doing, I discovered the following (from a commemorative issue of the Catholic Standard and Times published last Sunday).

    This is from a letter dated July 22, 1998, marking the 30th anniversary of “Humanae Vitae” (Of Human Life), an encyclical letter from Pope Paul VI on “the regulation of births,” in a section called “The world since 1968 (I suppose, as far as Chaput is concerned, that's the year this country turned into Sodom and/or Gomorrah)”…
    Sooner or later, every pastor counsels someone struggling with an addiction. Usually the problem is alcohol or drugs. And usually the problem is the same. The addict will acknowledge the problem but claim to be powerless against it. OR, alternately, the addict will deny having any problem at all, even if the addiction is destroying his or her health and wrecking job and family. No matter how much sense the pastor makes; no matter how true and persuasive his arguments; and no matter how life-threatening the situation, the addict simply cannot understand – or cannot act on – the counsel. The addiction, like a thick pane of glass, divides the addict from anything or anyone that might help.
    So as far as Archbishop Chaput is concerned, birth control can be equated with drug or alcohol addiction. Nice.

    In addition, I give you this…
    A significant new technology does not “add” something to a society; it changes everything – just as a drop of red dye does not remain discrete in a glass of water, but colors and changes every single molecule of the liquid.

    Contraceptive technology, precisely because of its impact on sexual intimacy, has subverted our understanding of the purpose of sexuality, fertility and marriage itself. It has detached them from the natural, organic identity of the human person and disrupted the ecology of human relationships. It has scrambled our vocabulary of love, just as pride scrambled the vocabulary of Babel.
    I understand of course how the church feels about birth control, even though I disagree; it’s just that I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a clinical explanation for why they oppose it…of course, they’re wrong about the “add” part.

    Want more? Here…
    Archbishop Chaput has faced sharp criticism (including by some Philadelphia newspaper columnists) for opposing an extension of the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of minors for civil lawsuits.

    The criticism is incorrect, according to Archbishop Chaput and his administrators.

    The law, as proposed by the Denver legislature, would have extended the statute of limitations for churches and other non-governmental entities. It would have exempted public schools and public officials. In opposing this, the Archdiocese and others validly asked (?), should children in public schools have less protection than children in Catholic schools?

    When presented in this light, the bill was amended to include public schools, but it was defeated, not because of Catholic opposition, but because legislators and the public school community realized public school districts could be exposed to possible bankruptcy, just as Catholic dioceses would be.
    So he tried to include public schools as covered in the statute that would be lengthened. Funny, but I don’t recall any instances of abuse taking place in public institutions.

    But Chaput knew that trying to include the public schools would defeat the measure. Slick.

    And finally…
    (Jeanette DeMeo communications director for the Denver Archdiocese and general manager of the Denver Catholic Register, the archdiocesan newspaper) remembers her very first senior staff meeting (with Chaput). A particular issue came up, and Archbishop Chaput went around the table. Each member gave his or her opinion, and when it came to her, DeMeo started listing the pros and cons. The Archbishop stopped her. “Yes or no?” he asked.

    “I was shocked; I had to make a decision. That was a lesson to me, he wants a clear and direct answer,” She said. “He can sniff out if you are just trying to appease him. He has tremendous respect for the laity.”
    Well, I would argue that one person’s sense of “respect” is another person’s dictatorial notion of authority.

    Let’s dispense with the rose-colored mythology, shall we? Chaput surely lobbied for this because he knows that being named to the head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia practically assures him of becoming cardinal, thus climbing another rung on the power ladder of the Catholic Church. And unlike his predecessors Rigali and Bevilacqua, he is no doubt itching for a fight (leave it to Benny, the most doctrinaire pope in my lifetime, to appoint someone as staunchly conservative as he is).

    And putting on a Phillies cap at the news conference announcing your appointment (or “gear” from any other Philadelphia sports team) isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference. Trying to shove your ideology down the figurative throat of “the faithful” is going to do nothing except make those empty pew spaces on Sunday a little emptier each week.
  • Wednesday, September 07, 2011

    Wednesday Stuff

    What is it that they say, "it's now or never?" Well, that's really true...

    ...and I'm not sure how good of a fit this song is, but I still thought it was appropriate.

    Trying To Stop A Miscarriage Of Justice

    God, I feel sick...
    We've just received terrible news: The state of Georgia has set Troy Davis's execution date for midnight on September 21st, just two weeks from today.

    This is our justice system at its very worst, and we are alive to witness it. There is just too much doubt.

    Even though seven out of nine witnesses have recanted their statements, a judge labeled his own ruling as "not ironclad" and the original prosecutor has voiced reservations about Davis's guilt, the state of Georgia is set to execute Troy anyway.

    Time is running out, and this is truly Troy's last chance for life.

    But through the frustration and the tears, there is one thing to remain focused on: We are now Troy Davis's only hope. And I know we won't let him down.

    There are three steps you can take to help Troy:

    1. Send a message of support to Troy as he fights for justice on what may be the final days of his life (here):

    2. Sign the name wall, if you haven't already. And if you have, send it to your friends and family. Each name means a more united front for justice (here):

    3. Make sure everyone knows about this injustice. Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter (using the hashtag #TooMuchDoubt) so that Troy Davis's story can be heard. We still have a chance to save his life, but only if people are willing to speak out against injustice.

    Today, the state of Georgia has declared their intention to execute a man even though the majority of the people who put him on the row now say he is innocent and many implicate one of the other witnesses as the actual killer. Now that a date has been set, we cannot relent. We must redouble our efforts.

    Thank you. Please act quickly and forward this message to all who believe the justice system defeats itself when it allows a man to be executed amid so much doubt.

    Benjamin Todd Jealous
    President and CEO
    (The backgrounder on Davis is here.)

    All Davis is asking for is a new trial. He should have it.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    I detect a bit of hagiography going on with "Big Time," as noted here, so I believe it's necessary for the reality point of view (and after all this time, why exactly would Deadeye Dick admit any wrongdoing?)...

    ...and here's a little "back to school" rock n' roll.

    Tuesday Mashup (9/6/11)

  • I don’t know if Willard Mitt Romney is eventually going to overtake “Goodhair” Perry for the Repug presidential nomination or not. And at this point, I don’t much care.

    However, this tells us the following, which I thought was interesting, if not surprising…
    (Reuters) - Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney named an economic policy team on Tuesday led by former top economic aides in Republican President George W. Bush's administration.

    The former Massachusetts governor, due to unveil a job creation plan later on Tuesday, named Glenn Hubbard, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers from 2001 to 2003, and Gregory Mankiw, who led the council from 2003 to 2005.

    Both also advised Romney's 2008 presidential campaign.
    As noted here, Hubbard famously freaked out when questioned about the financial firms he consulted for while dean of Columbia Business School in the film "Inside Job," telling director/interviewer Charles Ferguson "In fact, you've got three minutes (to ask your question). SO GIVE IT YOUR BEST SHOT."

    And as for Mankiw, he infamously said here that offshoring was “just a way to do international trade” and “a plus for the economy in the long run” (later pleading innocence over a “failure to communicate”). He also said here that he would be less inclined to work hard if he had to pay higher taxes (or something), and here, he criticized the spending and savings of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she was being confirmed (no word of his opinion, if any, on the money management of Scalia, Thomas, Alito or Hangin’ Judge JR).

    At least Hubbard and Mankiw are “birds of a feather” with Romney on the economy, particularly when you consider this.

  • Sticking with money matters, Cal Thomas opines as follows here…
    In advance of a "major speech" on the economy and jobs, President Obama has selected Princeton University professor Alan Krueger to be chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Krueger is no relation to the horror film character Freddy Krueger, though if his ideas are implemented, they might further "slash" the economy.
    This is one of those times when I’ll admit a bit of a conflict; I thought at first I should ignore this tripe from Thomas because acknowledging it only gives it more oxygen. However, I decided to say something because his garbage is only polluting our already ridiculous political discourse even more.

    The supposed sin of incoming Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Krueger is that he is at least willing to discuss a value-added tax, or VAT (I will give Thomas a slight amount of credit because he makes that distinction, as opposed to his fellow wingnuts who claim, incorrectly, that Krueger is advocating for one outright).

    Media Matters has more on this here (and as noted here, that “liberal” Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, has advocated the same thing – speaking only for myself, I’ll reserve judgment on the matter for now).

  • Finally, this story tells us the following…
    America is in grave danger of losing its edge. For over one hundred years, American leadership in science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing has been unrivaled. It has created for us not only one of the highest standards of living any civilization has ever achieved, but also brought American preeminence in the world and a strong national defense.

    Now, unfortunately, this is all at risk due to the lack of long-term planning, little political will, and slowing investment in science and engineering research.

    As every business leader knows, prosperity tomorrow requires investment today. This is true whether the economy is in a period of boom or bust. The United States will not simply “grow” its way out of economic malaise. We need a rebirth of innovation: new products, new ways of doing things, new scientific achievements.
    And this tells us the following…
    With a total federal R&D budget of an estimated $144.4 billion in FY 2011, hundreds of thousands of programs and projects are sponsored in federal laboratories, universities, and industries. Funding for R&D has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, particularly in connection with defense (mostly applied research and weapons development) and health (biomedical research). However, making the case for increased funding of long-term, basic science and engineering research has become increasingly difficult, in part due to the intrinsic uncertainties about the ultimate impacts of the research such as religious and ideological concerns about certain kinds of research, (e.g., embryonic stem cells) and inadequate communication between scientists and the public and policymakers at all levels. In present times, when reducing annual deficit spending is high on the list of national priorities, the situation is particularly dire. In the innovation-driven economy of the 21st century, funding R&D is more important than ever. Indeed, basic research can simply get lost in the contentious budget debates and partisan squabbles. With new conservative leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, following the FY 2010 election, the coming budget negotiations are proving to be especially difficult.

    In President Obama’s FY 2010 and 2011 budget requests, he emphasized the importance of basic research. Unfortunately, Congress’s failure to send the president any appropriations bills for FY 2011 produced a string of continuing resolutions, the last of which appropriated funding for the remaining months of FY 2011 and resulted in an average of 1 percent cuts relative to the previous year in funding for the major research agencies, including NIH (down $300 million from $30.7 billion in the FY 2010 enacted budget), NSF (down $65 million from $6.8 billion), and DOE’s Office of Science (down $30 million from $4.88 billion).

    President Obama’s FY 2012 budget request is an effort to rescue science budgets by raising overall R&D roughly to the FY 2010 levels and providing significant increases for research funding. The proposed budget would increase total R&D funding to $149.1 billion, up by $4.7 billion from the FY 2011 enacted budget. The proposed budget includes a 10 percent increase (or $6.0 billion) for total research, specifically, a 15.9 percent increase for the NSF budget (to $5.7 billion), a 22.3 percent increase to DOE (to $9 billion) and a 3.4 percent increase for NIH (to $31 billion). Additionally, President Obama’s FY 2011 budget request emphasizes energy efficiency and renewable energy as well as climate change initiatives; it includes a 21 percent increase (to $2.6 billion) for multi-agency climate change research, and a 5 percent increase (to $2.4 billion) for DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy R&D programs.[vi]

    Unfortunately, the political divide between the Republicans in Congress, especially in the House of Representatives, and the White House as well as the upcoming 2012 presidential election make it unlikely that President Obama’s budget will pass without major cuts to R&D. This is unwise because R&D leads innovations that help drive the economy. Without steady support for science and technology, the economy is likely to stagnate.
    Want some evidence to support these arguments, as if that should be necessary? Well, as noted here, Deadeye Dick Cheney’s artificial heart (insert your own snark) was made possible by taxpayer-financed R&D (and even George Will called for more science funding here, with a caveat for the climate crisis, of course).

    In addition, this tells us how global warming denialists (including “Goodhair” Perry) are killing R&D funding, and this tells us more on the anti-science positions of the Repugs.

    And in that spirit, I give you the following from David Brooks here today…
    The U.S. Department of Energy poured $535 million in loans into Solyndra, a solar panel maker backed by George Kaiser, a major Democratic donor.

    The Government Accountability Office discovered that Solyndra had been permitted to bypass required steps in the government loan guarantee process. The Energy Department’s inspector general criticized the department for not maintaining e-mails that discussed how the loan guarantee winners were chosen.

    Late last month, Solyndra announced that it was ceasing operations, laying off its 1,100 employees. The Department of Energy placed the wrong bet, potentially losing the taxpayers half-a-billion dollars.

    All of this is not to say that the government shouldn’t be doing what it can to promote clean energy. It is to say that the government isn’t very good when it tries to directly create private-sector jobs.
    In response, I give you the following (here)…
    Yes, it sucks. But Solyndra was given money because it was first in line, and the public was putting on a lot of pressure to deploy the new stimulus funds. Unfortunately the government made an investment mistake; Solyndra was not a good business.

    But guess what? This happens every single day to Silicon Valley venture capital firms. It's just unfortunate that Solyndra happened to be one of the first deployments of government capital.

    To prevent this from happening again, we need to approach it like investors in the private sector who know their way around evaluating cleantech investments rather than doling out money to the first in line.

    Remember what the US did with the Internet? It highlights what this country does better than any other country: innovate and sell those innovations to the rest of the world. Cleantech is the next Internet.
    And as noted here…
    When Solyndra, a California based solar panel manufacturer, announced this week that it will file for bankruptcy, conservative media outlets immediately cheered the loss as evidence that solar power doesn't work. That couldn't be further from the truth.

    In fact, solar energy was the fastest growing industry in the United States last year. And as Climate Progress reported, "America is a net exporter of solar products ... to the tune of $1.8 billion."
    Elect Democrats, and you have a good shot at obtaining funding in research and development to create tomorrow’s jobs. Elect Republicans, and you face technological extinction.

    And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out (though, as noted here, one on our side already has).
  • Monday, September 05, 2011

    Happy Labor Day 2011

    I give you the following:

  • This is a link to my “Bringing The Pain” posts on unemployment throughout this country (up to New York).

  • This tells us of Flint, Michigan auto workers sitting down and, thus, standing up for unions.

  • This tells us how the teabaggers are doing all they can to ultimately stifle job growth (bless their pointed little heads).

  • Here is a link to a 2007 speech that Professor Elizabeth Warren gave on the income redistribution going on in this country (about an hour, and she absolutely nails it – no wonder the Repugs and the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch hates her - and by the way, good for these kids).

  • Here is a link to a New York Times Op-Ed from former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich yesterday that makes many of the same points, “cutting to the chase” a bit more.

  • Also, even when I don’t agree with Fareed Zakaria (or think he’s being a bit too simplistic, as he is here), I just about always read him because he’s a conservative who actually thinks, and often there’s a good point in there somewhere.

  • Here is a video of Teamsters President Jim Hoffa, Jr. basically telling our august captains of industry in the private sector in this country to try actually rebuilding this country instead of Asia (Candy Crowley is a dope peddling Republican Party talking points).

  • Update 9/7/11: As Atrios says, "snippety snip snip"...sigh (here).

    Finally, here are some tunes for the occasion; don’t know who the interviewer or interviewee is here…

    …and no video here, but this is definitely a favorite.