Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rick Santorum says, I don't need no stinking pipe.



While Michigan GOP voters and sneaky rascal Democrats are still taking part in the "Eenie, Meany, Miney, Mo" poll to pick who gets to claim our State's delegates toward the Republican nomination and the once in a lifetime opportunity to be landslided by Barrack Obama this November, I thought I would point out an uncanny resemblance between a pair of famous members of the Church of the SubGenius.   It is quite obvious from the smile, the hair, the effervescent whiteness and the breakthinking ability to hypnotyze all who gaze into his eyes, that the former US Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum is trying to jack the style of Minister J. R. Bob Dobbs.

Thankfully Santorum ditched the pipe.  We don't want the kids to see the exalted one glorifying the use of tobacco.

This race tonite is too close to call.  Will the Mitt come back after a string of gaffes to win the Mitten State?  Will Santorum get enough Democrats to convert to the GOP for a day and hand him the victory?  Might Ron Paul sneak past the two fueding frontrunners and steal the State? 

It's going to be a real nail biter!  Like they say in Vegas when the odds are even.  Pick em!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

ALEC: Mother lode of right wing tax cheating lobbyists

Crikey.  I thought Heartland Institute and ProEnglish were anomalies as tax cheating lobbying groups.  After a bit of research, its clear the only thing a partisan lobbyist organization needs to do to evade paying taxes and get the honest American taxpayers to subsidize their politics is to have their accountants fill out an IRS 990 Form.   This lends credence to the old saying  'You always get more of whatever you subsize'. 

Case in Point:  The American Legislative Exchange Council, commonly referred to as ALEC.  Here is a link to their 990 Form  Foundation Center:  ALEC 2010 Form 990.  This form is a required filing for tax-exempt charitable organizations claiming the 501(c)(3) status that allows their donors to deduct their contributions on their income tax returns.  The questions on the form are there to ensure  organizations claiming tax-exempt status are not violating the rules about excessive political activity and lobbying. 

The mission of ALEC is to write legislation for State and Federal lawmakers for a variety of right wing conservative causes and corporate interests.  While the official lobbying organizations who operate legally aim to influence what goes into legislation or to drum up support for particular pieces of legislation, ALEC leaps right past that lame exercise and goes so far as to write the actual verbiage used in the bills and then they hand it over to the conservative lawmakers so they can introduce the ALEC drafted legislation as bills.  What a racket.  Its way beyond just lobbying.  It's as if we have sub-contracted the legislative branch of government to the highest bidder.

There are all sorts of stories around the internet about the unseemly influence of ALEC in a variety of States and in the Federal government.  This link is a good start.   ALEC exposed

Here is an excerpt from that link. 

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.

For reference, here is ALEC's official website.   They are quite proud of all of their legislative accomplishments.  No secret backdoor lobbying here.  It is front, center, Caps and bold.

And here is a link about ALEC's rampage through the legislative halls in the State of Arizona.  Heck, it seems the GOP in Arizona has simply turned over the reins of government to these lobbyists.  ALEC in Arizona, Democracy in peril 

This issue of political lobbying organizations operating fraudulently under the guise of a charitable non-profit organization with tax-exempt status is apparently much more widespread than I first imagined.  I can not fathom how so many right wing politicians who pretend to be so deeply concerned about the American budget crisis are openly cheating the American taxpayers.   Like I have pointed out before, they all are relying on the herd to keep the IRS off their backs.  If we all do it, it can't be illegal.   I am guessing if anyone gets too close to exposing the clear illegality, ALEC will just rewrite the IRS code concerning the requirements for 501(c)(3) status and have their shills in the GOP/Tea Party in Congress sponsor a Bill to make it official.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mitt Romney on Artificial Turf

Presidential candidates have to go all over the Country for months on end making speeches about how they have all the answers and how their opponents are unqualified so they can convince supporters to fork over campaign contributions. An important decision at each stop is selecting the right venue for the speech and here is a fine example of how not to do that. Mitt Romney's speech to the Economic Club in Detroit yesterday may have been a thousand words long, but one picture tells the whole story. 

Mitt Romney makes a speech at Ford Field in Detroit on February 24, 2012.

They selected Ford Field in Detroit with space for some 65,000 people to accommodate a crowd of 1,200 guests.  I've seen more people on that field during halftime of the Motor City Pizza Bowl when two marching bands competed.  I do think it is highly appropriate that the speech took place on artificial turf, seeing as the city of Detroit is Mitt's very own artificial turf.   He likes to refer to the city as home even though he has had no connection to anything here in decades other than a line on his birth certificate.  On a semi-related note, ground-up recalled Firestone tires from Ford Explorers were symbolically chosen to be used as filler for the field turf when the stadium was built.   The irony of how Mitt the retread "recalled" some boyhood memories at Ford Field was not lost on me. 

They could have agreed to hold the speech at the stunning Wintergarden in the Renaissance Center. The place would have been packed, making for more excitement and a better photo-op, but the Ren Cen is GM's headquarters and Mitt is on record saying it would have been better if GM had been liquidated rather than bailed out by the Government.  Awkward.  Perhaps it is part of the reason why they opted for a place with Ford in the name instead.  Mitt hopes people around here forget those comments from last year.

He could have made his speech up Woodward Avenue a bit at the stately Fox Theatre, but his staffers probably thought it might make him the butt of more late night jokes involving the word Fox as in News.   

They could have easily fit that many people in several of Detroit's large churches, such as Second Ebenezer  but then Mitt is a super-rich white guy from a super-white rich State. Further, Mitt is on record saying he doesn't care about very poor people, and Detroit has a lot of them and none are going to either vote for him or donate to the cause. Besides, Mitt's peeps would be scared shitless to even drive through that neighborhood much less get out of the car.

He could have had ditched the idea of making his big pre Super Tuesday speech in Detroit and held a main event at the Novi Expo Center or elsewhere in the suburbs, but that would have been fuel for Mitt's foes who like to point out his elitism and lack of connection to the commoners.  

So perhaps by default Ford Field was the most appropriate place Romney's campaign and the ECD could agree upon for the speech.   Actually the Detroit Lion's fight song describes this GOP race.  "Four Weird down the field"

Friday, February 24, 2012

Climate science and Climate politics. Not the same.

First a disclaimer. I am not a climate scientist. But what the hey, apparently one doesn't have to possess a degree, advanced or otherwise to jump into this debate. Heck, the fat old dude who I sat next to on the flight home to Detroit this afternoon had no idea what he was talking about when it came to climate science but that sure didn't stop him from dousing his anti-science Fox News talking points regarding "Gorebull Warming" on anyone within earshot.

For what it is worth, I wanted to offer some suggestions / rules for this ongoing discussion. To that end, I think it is helpful to segregate the three distinct parts of the climate discussion: 1) Raw data 2) Data analysis, and 3) Path-forward.

Raw data  is about measurements. How warm is the ocean. How much precipitation fell. How large are the polar ice caps. What is the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere. This is the part where the science rules and disbelief is a litmus test for cognitive dissonance.  If the thermometer reads X degrees Celsius, or if satellite images show that polar ice caps comprise X square miles, that is quantitative, measurable data.   Attacking scientific data is a waste of time and effort.    

Data analysis is about interpreting the data. What does the data tell us?   What are the long and short term trends? What are the significant variables driving the trends? How might one trend affect another? Is a particular variable a cause or it is an effect? What inherent physical self-correction factors are at play? Might a situation be feeding on itself in a vicious circle? These subjects are debatable and the scientific peer-review process is the arbiter. Anyone can propose an explanation or theory, and a collaborative peer review process involving scientists from around the world will shake out the crappola.  Eventually concurrence about what the data means or doesn't mean will form.  Good ideas percolate to the top.  Bad ones are tossed out and discredited.  To disparage peer- reviewed analysis without bringing facts and reason just makes a person look like an ideologue with an axe to grind.

Finally the path forward is about the political solutions for addressing the issues of AGW and climate change. Everyone can feel free to debate this topic seeing as there is no scientific training required to have an opinion on politics, economics and strategic thinking. Would the Kyoto treaty actually lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions? Should we subsidize renewable energy to reduce dependency on fossil fuels? How high should the CAFE requirements be? Should we promote more fracking for natural gas? Should we invest in a hydrogen economy? Should we adopt Cut, Cap, and Trade. These are all political solutions and it is acceptable to either support or challenge them. People who question or oppose political solutions or propose alternative strategies should not be labeled deniers simply for having dissenting political views. This is where some of the climate scientists and politicians tend to become arrogant asses.

It seems that most of the people opposed to various political remedies set out to attack the data and offer up their own crock-pot analysis instead of explaining their political disagreement.   My opinion is that we can't just tax our way to a greener world. We will need a robust economy to provide the long-term cash flow needed to invest in modern energy efficient infrastructure, factories, homes and vehicles. Simply increasing energy taxes will set all those efforts back more than help. I may be opposed to political strategies for climate change that simply drag the economy down, but that doesn't mean I deny the science.

In a nutshell, the anti-science crowd should stop attacking and obfuscating the data and those who do accept climate science should stop labelling all of their political opponents as deniers. The challenge is to correctly analyze data and use it to devise effective feasible strategies to protect the environment and conserve the earth's limited resources for future generations.  And we better do it quick.   

As a mission statement for the climate science movement, I would propose the saying from back in my day when I was a Cub Scout.  "Lets leave the camp site cleaner than we found it."  That should go for the whole planet too.

update:   I agree with the comment from Chris_Winter about data and measurements 

You write, "Attacking scientific data is a waste of time and effort."

It's true unless you can show the data come from instruments in which systematic errors are present, or from experiments with flawed protocols.
But the only systematic errors in climate-science data I am aware of are certain errors in satellite-based thermal measurements. When these errors were corrected, the case for global warming was made stronger.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The stupid, it burns..

All that it takes for ignorance to prevail is for educated people to stand by and say nothing.

I have had it up to here with people who zombied their way through their chance at education and can't spell stoichiometry let alone know what it means parroting the right wing talking points in conversations about science as if they had somehow gained secret knowledge from chain e-mails and watching cable news.   So many subscribe to the notion that the guy who yells the loudest wins and to never let the facts get in the way of a good story.  They dole out their ignorance like fertilzer from a broadcast spreader. 

I used to just walk away from these people and think jeesh, what a maroon.  But as I get older I have less and less patience for arrogant willful ignorance and I find myself in more situations where I can't keep quiet and the instinct to ridicule the fool takes over.

I admit that I am not a world renown authority at anything in particular.  However I do have a broad knowledge on a lot of subjects and I read from a wide variety of sources, and I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I was wrong about something when new facts or data are presented.  Being rational means that you are willing to change your mind when the facts and data point you in a different direction.  The alternative to rational thinking is cognitive dissonance which has become an all-too common mental malady affecting our political landscape.

But whether you are Left or Right you should be concerned with attention craved simpletons spreading lies and mistruths in order to help propagate their nonsensical thoughts and ideas.  If one loony conspiracy advances your politics today, another one will work against them tomorrow.

So, Just say No.   Speak up against the arrogant willfull ignorance and ridicule the conspiracy theorists  if for no other reason than to make the dummy think twice about trying to hawk their bullshit on the next guy.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

John Mashey's mission to expose 501(c)(3) fakery..

Great minds think alike..   Here is a timely and spot-on post by John Mashey, a computer scientist in California that recently filed a complaint regarding the Heartland Institute with the IRS after researching Heartland's finances in-depth.   The post is on the subject of tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations that fraudulently use their taxpayer subsidized budgets to lobby for legislation and spread misinformation.  

Fake Science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax.

Modern anti-science was created by the tobacco industry in the 1950s and then used against climate science, often by the same well-experienced think tanks and individuals. Tobacco anti-science is strangely entangled with climate anti-science, as the attached report shows in detail involving Fred Singer's SEPP, Joseph Bast's Heartland, and more...    
"... Under Jay Lehr and James Taylor, anti-science permeated Heartland’s Environment and Climate News sent mostly to elected officials. Heartland incessantly touted its access and influence with such officials, but its tax forms claimed no lobbying. It ran “fake science” conferences, paying for government staff attendance. It sent money to foreign non-charity advocacy groups, sent anti-science handbooks to school boards and urged parents to complain..
Free speech allows people to express opinions, even lie about facts, but tax-free operation is a revocable privilege. Spreading factual untruths and confusion about smoking or climate science is neither research nor education in the public interest.
 Mashey is all over them like white on rice in a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snowstorm.  Coupled with an IRS looking for tax cheats, I'd say Heartland and other lobbying organizations are in for a rude awakening.  I can almost hear the Right Wing outrage machine getting all fired up over this story, complaining about the left wing bias in the IRS.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Heartland Institute. More lobbyists with tax exempt status

It just so happens that the day after I wrote the post about the political lobbyist group ProEnglish and questioned the legitimacy of their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, another right wing tax-exempt organization Heartland Institute made the news for their underhanded strategy to discredit climate science. 
NY Times: Leak Offers Glimpse of Campaign Against Climate Science  
Leaked documents suggest that an organization known for attacking climate science is planning a new push to undermine the teaching of global warming in public schools, the latest indication that climate change is becoming a part of the nation’s culture wars.  
The documents, from a nonprofit organization in Chicago called the Heartland Institute, outline plans to promote a curriculum that would cast doubt on the scientific finding that fossil fuel emissions endanger the long-term welfare of the planet. “Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective,” one document said.    
This is the part of the story I really focused in on.
The documents raise questions about whether the group has undertaken partisan political activities, a potential violation of federal tax law governing nonprofit groups. For instance, the documents outline “Operation Angry Badger,” a plan to spend $612,000 to influence the outcome of recall elections and related fights this year in Wisconsin over the role of public-sector unions.       
Tax lawyers said Wednesday that tax-exempt groups were allowed to undertake some types of lobbying and political education, but that because they are subsidized by taxpayers, they are prohibited from direct involvement in political campaigns.

Now this is pretty funny. Last night I sent an e-mail to Heartland asking them about this very issue. Why in the hell should taxpayers subsidize their political lobbying?  A response from Heartland's Diane Bast was waiting for me in my in-box this morning.   She took a half-assed shot at my cognitive skills because the word "teacher" is in my e-mail address.   Classy.   (actually I am an engineer..)

A wise man once said,  You know you are over the target when you start receiving flak. 

Good luck in the upcoming legal battle over your tax-exempt status, sweetheart.  ha.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Far Right political activists with a tax exempt status?

In a post yesterday I mentioned a seminar at the Conservative Union CPAC 2012 Conference titled "The Failure of Multiculturalism:  How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American Identity"  The seminar featured Peter Brimelow, founder of VDARE.com, a site which promotes white supremacist views and anti-Semitism.   The seminar was sponsored by a charitable organization called ProEnglish.  Here is a link to their website.
ProEnglish The Nation's Leading English Language Advocates. 

And this note is posted at the bottom of their home page. 
ProEnglish has received a three-star rating for organizational efficiency from Charity Navigator. ProEnglish is a self-governing project of U.S., Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.  Federal ID number is 38-2418377.  

OK, I am no tax law expert.  But I find it odd that a political advocacy group like ProEnglish can operate under any sort of tax exempt status. The taxpayers are giving them a subsidy under the guise of a charitable organization and they run around sponsoring right wing conferences with white supremacists?  Just for reference there are rules posted at the IRS site for charitable organizations who dabble in politics..
IRS: Exemption Requirements - Section 501(c)(3) Organizations

To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates. (emphasis added)

Then there is the IRS page that explains the restrictions on  Lobbying in more detail

In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.
Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of  appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.
An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.
Going back to the ProEnglish site, they do ALL of the stuff that 501(c)(3) organizations are NOT supposed to do.  It's not like they are secretive about it.  Here is their mission statement..

ProEnglish is the nation's leading advocate of official English. We work through the courts and in the court of public opinion to defend English's historic role as America's common, unifying language, and to persuade lawmakers to adopt English as the official language at all levels of government.
  • Adopting laws or constitutional amendments declaring English the official language of the United States, and of individual states.
  • Defending the right of individual states to make English the official language of government operations
  • Ending bilingual education (e.g. foreign language immersion) programs in public schools
  • Repealing federal mandates for the translation of government documents and voting ballots into languages other than English.
  • Opposing the admission of territories as states unless they have adopted English as their official language.
And here is all important Question 15 from the FAQ's..

15. Is my donation tax deductible?

Answer - Yes, all contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. ProEnglish is classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
Well I think I just found out a way to help chip away at our trillion dollar budget deficit.  Go through the list of 501(c)(3) charitable organizations like ProEnglish and eliminate the tax-exempt status for cheating on the rules.  Imagine that.  Budget hawk right wingers who love to point out all the forms of government waste and they are conniving money from the taxpayers to do it.

update: Here is a copy of their 21 page 2010 Form 990 for the IRS.  
fdncenter.org: Form 990  for U.S. Inc from Petoskey Michigan

White Nationalism and the new GOP

Wow, the GOP sure has fallen far and fast into radicalism.  This is precisely the far right influence that ex-Republicans like me could see coming with the mainstreaming of the John Birch Society hiding beneath the Tea Party banner into the GOP.

The American Conservative Union held its yearly 3-day conference in DC featuring appearances and speeches by the Who's Who list of Conservatives this week including Presidential candidates, Senators, Representatives, Governors, and a long list of conservative media stars. Here is the itinerary for the cruise through the Tea Party Lovefest.     CPAC 2012 Schedule of Events     

And here is the little nugget from page 3 of the Schedule. Of course it's not in bold font, so its not one of the official events. Yeah right. 

Nice. Peter Brimelow founder of VDARE.com on the stage addressing the movers and shakers and wannabes in the GOP.  Its not a huge secret that VDARE = white nationalism.  Here is a bit from the Southern Poverty Law Center about Brimelow and VDARE.
 BackgroundFounded in 1999 by anti-immigrant activist and author Peter Brimelow, the Center for American Unity has served to promote the work of white supremacists, anti-Semites and others on the radical right. This is most obvious in VDARE.com, which the foundation started in 1999 and funded until 2007.
I hope the Birchers, Tea Baggers, GOPers, and White Nationalists enjoyed their 3 days of cohabitating in the same conference rooms, all of them looking around at each other saying, geeze, who let those freaks in here. 

If this is the GOP in 2012, Obama can start working on his 2nd inaugural address. Heck, Hillary can start working on hers for 2016.   

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Europe is freezing but the Euro isn't yet..

The Deep Freeze in Europe is not letting up.  The reported death toll is now up to 540.
UPI: Extreme weather grips Europe
LONDON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Winter weather conditions wreaked havoc across much of Europe Friday, with travel delays, school and public office closures and deaths, officials said. 
Central and Eastern Europe got the worst of the recent weather, with heavy snow and subzero temperatures that have claimed about 540 lives, The Daily Telegraph reported. Temperatures were forecast to plunge to about minus-40 F in the mountains of the Czech Republic during the weekend, the British newspaper said...
About 70,000 people in Serbia were isolated by deep snow that has inundated the Balkans, forcing the use of helicopters to fly in food supplies...
 About 20,000 people in Romania, where snow up to 13 feet deep prevented travel, were dealing with dwindling food supplies, as well.. 
In Ukraine, the worst-affected country, about 140 people have died, while more than 3,000 people have been treated at hospitals for frost bite and hypothermia.
You would think that the loss of economic activity from the crippling weather coupled with increased energy prices due to shortages would weigh down leading economic indicators and investors would become even more skeptical of the Greek bailout and the long term prospects of the Euro. But for some reason there is no sign of cautious skepticism here. 
Bloomberg: Euro gains Against Major Currencies
The euro gained against the majority of its most-traded counterparts as the central bank saw signs of“stabilization” in the region and investors speculated Greece would convince European leaders to release its aid package.
The euro held on to weekly advances against the dollar and yen as Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos secured approval from his Cabinet to submit laws for new budget measures designed to secure a second rescue package.
I think that is a bad sign in a way.  Maybe it is so bleak right now that no one wants to be the first to bail out and start the mass exodus that leads to panic and calamity.  The economy is based on confidence in the currency.  Maybe it is better to feign confidence and take a tactical loss later instead of trying to cut the losses now and starting an avalanche. 

Oh and pray for some nicer weather.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

9 strategies for the job.

Reduce waste
Ask tough questions
Make yourself  smarter
Confront challenges head on                                              
Don't be a complainer
Meet the schedule 
Listen and learn
Be nice

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I bought this on eBay just because..

I bought this piece of artwork in an eBay auction a few years back around the time of the cartoon controvery in Europe.  Back then I was really into the threads at Little Green Footballs and knew all about the controversy that erupted around the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.  Out of curiosity I went digging around eBay just to see if there would be any images of Mohammed for sale, seeing as that was allegedly forbidden.  Sure enough I came across this one.   A photogravure reproduction printed in 1889 still in perfect condition.  I think it set me back about $40.

This piece of art is safe here.  If someone else had outbid me for it, there is no telling what fate it may have seen in the swirling of that controversy. 
Mohammed at Mecca, by Andreas Muller, late 19th century; this is a photogravure reproduction printed in 1889; the original is in the Maximilianeum Gallery, Munich.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Halftime in America. Pride in Detroit.

I don't care what any of the political hacks say about Chrysler's Super Bowl "Halftime in America" ad, I think it was awesome, an instant classic.  As a guy who grew up here, went to college here, is raising a family here and spent my whole career so far here in the car business, the ad invoked pride, gave me chills and almost choked me up.  All I can say is wow.  This country needs a pep talk and Clint delivered.   He spoke with strength and conviction.  You can't help but join in for a moment of pride in your country.  It exuded a fierce new patriotism, this time we're going to kick the world's ass in our factories.  You thought we were dead and gone?  Not so fast junior.     

For the record, I wrote a post last May about data that indicated Detroit and the automobile industry would be taking a leadership role in pulling the American economy out of the great recession, so I wasn't surprised to hear Clint Eastwood make that case.   Pathteacher: Is Detroit Leading the Recovery    

I think the Conservative pundits like Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh who spoke out against the ad suffer from acute political paranoia. Everywhere they look they see more evidence of a nefarious plot being waged against them from the Left.  Why can't they drop the tribal warfare for just a two minutes and celebrate some good news with their fellow Americans, even if they're from Detroit.   The bailouts worked just as planned and they likely saved the American economy from spiraling into total meltdown. Deal with it.  Heck, be happy about it even.  

Wall Street Journal says going green is useless.

This is some of the dumbest analysis I have seen lately.  What the hell is going on at the WSJ these days.  Its like they are they trying to compete with Fox News.  Here it is..
The Problem with Going Green by David Owen
The main effect of additional engineering improvements will be the same as for all such improvements in the past: to make travel easier, cheaper, more convenient and more attractive—thus encouraging us to do more of it. That's a good thing for those of us who love to play golf on other continents, but it doesn't move the world closer to resolving a long list of energy, climate and environmental challenges. In fact, it pushes the solutions further away.
In other words,  Making engineering improvements to reduce energy consumption will just enable more conspicuous consumption like rich people flying off to play golf on other continents so in the big picture it will do nothing to help resolve environmental challenges in fact they will make matters even worse.

I say Hooey seventy times seven.  I am disappointed but not all that surprised that the WSJ has  become more concerned with selling ads aimed at dumb people than it is being a lighthouse for capitalists who need expert analysis in order to make a buck.  And by the way, does anyone even remember where the word conservative came from?  Conserve.   Yet all the modern day Tea Party GOP wants to rally around is their inalienable right to waste as much as they can afford, leverage, or mortgage.  Maybe they should call themselves Wastervatives.

Here is my take from Downriver Detroit. America needs to conserve fuel as in "use less by wasting less" in a thousand ways great and small. It is a national security issue and its not that daunting a task. We don't need to make a huge reduction in gasoline consumption to have a huge effect to the market. I estimate a 5-10% reduction in domestic consumption would soon result in a glut in oil production, storage and refinery markets and significantly lower the market price. When the price drops, it doesn't just enable rich people to fly off to play a round of golf. When gasoline is cheaper, every single American benefits by having more dollars in their pocket to spend on other things like paying their bills or going out to eat or save for a vacation. Most people will take the money they don't need for gasoline and spend it on other things besides just more gallons of gasoline to drive around (or fly) more miles.

Energy conservation should be a key strategy for our economic recovery.  I have pointed out in previous posts how cheap gasoline is the key to economic recovery and how there are a lot of straightforward ways government entities could be the key player in a variety of fuel saving initiatives such as reducing US Mail delivery to 3 days per week, promoting 4-day weeks for schools and getting road crews to time all the stoplights in town. I have pointed out that perhaps gasoline ought to be treated as a public utility like natural gas and electricity seeing as gasoline is just as important to our economy as the other utilities but far more prone to middle-man speculators whose only aim to get rich by taking advantage of jitters in the market.

But to the enlightened conservative authors like David Owen employed by the Wall Street Journal there is no point in all the little people conserving any fuel because it will just end up giving the rich people more reason to fly around the globe and party.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Europe's deep freeze and global warming..

A global ocean circulation between deep, colder water and warmer, surface water strongly influences regional climates around the world. Image courtesy Argonne National Laboratory.

Much of Europe is in the throes of a killer deep freeze.  Hundreds of homeless and poor people have died already and to make matters worse, the gas supplies can not meet the increased demand.  Europe winter claims 250 lives, sends ferry aground

Hundreds of people were plucked to safety on Saturday after a ferry caught in a snow storm ran aground off Italy, as a vicious cold snap that has claimed over 250 lives across Europe refused to ease its clench.
Ukraine has suffered the heaviest toll of 122 deaths, including many people who froze to death in the streets, as temperatures plunged to as low as minus 38.1 degrees Celsius (minus 36.5 Fahrenheit) in parts of the continent.
But as Europe huddled indoors for warmth, Russian gas giant Gazprom said it could not satisfy western Europe's demand for more energy.
And I am sure there are the climate deniers who have heard about this story and said  "Har de Har Har, Where is all the global warming we keep hearing about??"

Well it turns out that scientists have predicted that a deep freeze in Europe would be the result of a steady rise in ocean temperatures.  This story came from NASA in 2004.

A Chilling Possibility:  By disturbing a massive ocean current, melting Arctic sea ice might trigger colder weather in Europe and North America.

March 5, 2004: Global warming could plunge North America and Western Europe into a deep freeze, possibly within only a few decades.
That's the paradoxical scenario gaining credibility among many climate scientists. The thawing of sea ice covering the Arctic could disturb or even halt large currents in the Atlantic Ocean. Without the vast heat that these ocean currents deliver--comparable to the power generation of a million nuclear power plants--Europe's average temperature would likely drop 5 to 10°C (9 to 18°F)... 
Some scientists worry that melting Arctic sea ice will dump enough freshwater into the North Atlantic to interfere with sea currents. Some freshwater would come from the ice-melt itself, but the main contributor would be increased rain and snow in the region. Retreating ice cover exposes more of the ocean surface, allowing more moisture to evaporate into the atmosphere and leading to more precipitation.

Because saltwater is denser and heavier than freshwater, this "freshening" of the North Atlantic would make the surface layers more buoyant. That's a problem because the surface water needs to sink to drive a primary ocean circulation pattern known as the "Great Ocean Conveyor." Sunken water flows south along the ocean floor toward the equator, while warm surface waters from tropical latitudes flow north to replace the water that sank, thus keeping the Conveyor slowly chugging along. An increase in freshwater could prevent this sinking of North Atlantic surface waters, slowing or stopping this circulation.

There is a 100% chance that sub-intelligent climate deniers (and stand-up comics) around the world will use the images and news from the European deep freeze as proof that global warming is hooey.  After all, why should mankind be concerned about the ice caps melting and the oceans warming when there are people are freezing to death.  The 2004 article from NASA points out the reason for concern.

A map of the world will show how most of Europe caught in the deep freeze is above the 45 deg. latitude line.  In the USA, you have to go just about to Michigan's UP to get that far North.  The weather that is crippling Europe is typical for a UP winter.  In other words, get used to it.

The long term outlook for Europe isn't very rosy.   These fierce deep freezes will become more common over the years, and this will result in arguments and political turmoil between Nations over the limited natural gas supply that comes from Russia.   Talk about a new cold war.

update:  There have been news stories blaming the historic cold spell on air currents and high pressure systems instead of on disruptions in the ocean current.  This is silly.  The mass of water in the oceans is some 250 times the mass of air in the atmosphere (1.3 E+21 kg versus 5 E+18 kg).  And because a pound of water can hold four times more heat than a pound of air can hold, the total heat capacity of the oceans is 1,000 times greater than the heat capacity of the atmosphere.  Weather patterns originate in the oceans, the atmosphere is just the messenger.    Saying that the atmosphere is driving the weather is like saying the little bird is driving the rhino.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The photo isn't an ad for Miller and Ben, but it could be.

Molly Sute performs Tip It at KAR, Milford, MI, Jan 2012

Nice photo of Molly in her snazzy new Miller and Ben jazz tap shoes.  We got them for her last Summer during our trip to NYC.

She was performing a tap solo at the KAR dance competition at Milford HS last Friday evening.   "Tip It" choreographed by Ryan Lohoff.. 

As cool and awesome as those shoes are, Molly is still the biggest star on the stage.

Update 12/25/12:  I thought I would add this picture to the post..

Ofer Ben, Molly Sute, and Avi Miller at Masters of Tap in Detroit, Aug 2012