IBI Watch 4/3/11

3 04 2011

Our One-Party System

Back in the 60s and 70s, it was common to hear derisive comments about the Soviet system (which of course deserved those derisive comments).  The system had only one party, of course, the Communist Party.  And its elections were a charade – Virtually all members of the Politburo – maybe 90 percent – would be re-elected.  That system is gone, of course.  But what of our American system?  Turns out that members of Congress who run for re-election are returned to the hallowed halls at 95%. In other words, there is less turnover in Congress than there was in the one-party USSR.  And the unfavorable comparison does not end there.  We really have one party in this country.  And (for now anyway) it’s not the ‘permanent Republican majority’ heralded by Tom Delay before he went to prison.

No, the one party that rules this country is a green one – the Money party.  Congress is largely bought by wealthy individuals and corporations.  This means policy in all areas will tremendously benefit the wealthy and powerful, with the public good an afterthought at best.  So who is buying elections?  Many major corporations, that’s who.  In his March Lowdown, Jim Hightower lists all the big spenders, and shows which corporations (most!) favor Republicans, and which favor Democrats.  Check his lists at the first link.

And of course corporations are not sharing their profits with politicians out of generosity.  Shocking, isn’t it?  No, they expect favors in return – gutting regulations, cutting corporate taxes, no controls on CEO pay, and on and on.  And as long as we refuse to publicly fund elections, this is our system, folks.  Some people are working for change.  Check the second link for an organization working hard to help us ‘follow the money.’

And what of those favors for the wealthy – after all, it’s not just corporations, but wealthy industrialists, and their heirs and heiresses, who are getting ever wealthier, at a faster pace.  Third link offers some explanation.  And the very next link – from USA Today of all places, updates us on CEO pay trends.  Many of these guys had to forego a million or two in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse, but they are restored now, and then some!

Good thing, too! Remember – it’s those wealthy, powerful people who create all the jobs that mean anything, and who therefore must be relieved of the burden of taxes so that they can create employment for us.  Keep repeating that if you don’t believe it.  It will become true if it’s not true now.

Sadly, one more way the W administration will continue to haunt and hamper this country for decades to come is right in this area.  You see, Arizona actually made some progress in separating influence-peddling from politics.  But the W-stocked (assist to Reagan here as well), corporatist Supreme Court seems poised to strike down Arizona’s Citizens Clean Elections Act.  Whatever happened to that old right-wing mantra, ‘states’ rights?’

Money doesn’t talk in our political system, it blasts through a million megaphones.  And it fuels our corrupt, one-party system.  The Money Party rules as surely as the Communist Party ruled the USSR.







Economic Recovery, Anyone?

Recent stories about the economy have showed glimmers of hope. More jobs created, people spending a bit more money, etc.  But there is a key problem here.  Republicans of both the Tea Party and more traditional stripe are insisting on cutting the deficit by gutting spending, now.  Most economists say this is foolish – the deficit must be reduced, but cutting spending right now while economic recovery is in and early, fragile state, is wrong.  And we can’t forget that a large share of the monstrous deficit is caused by tax cuts on the wealthy.  And here’s another contributor.  For ages, it seems, we have heard corporate titans whining about the US’s high corporate tax rate.  And by world standards it is indeed high – 35%.  But recently we have learned that’s not really a problem at all.  Most large companies, you see, don’t pay 35%. In fact, they pay less – would you believe 0%?  And then there’s that master corporation, General Electric – it finds a way to pay less – less than zero percent in fact.  Read about their feats at the third link – which is also followed by a petition you can sign onto to try to change that tax scam.

Second link is a Paul Krugman piece explaining how current Republican policy harks back to economic policy of a certain past administration – the Herbert Hoover administration, in the time right after the 1929 economic collapse.  And we know how well that worked out!  First link takes you to Robert Reich’s recent prediction.  In this case, we have to hope he is not right.  And after all, the former Labor Secretary has only facts, history and reality on his side.  What is all that against Republican ideology, certainty resoluteness, and robotic talking points?






Maneuvering for 2012 in the Land of Loons . . . and Beyond

Minnesota’s two presidential wannabes have been in the headlines lately – sometimes even to their benefit.  Michele Bachmann is raking in those Tea Party dollars.  Heck, she is even topping the Republicans’ strongest wannabe (in the reality-based universe anyway), Mitt Romney.  Meanwhile, our ex-gov wants to teach us the value of hockey fights.  This of course keeps him on message – it meshes well with the Brawny Paper Towel guy look on his book.  And BTW, he still trails Michele in the polls.

Outside Minnesota, a real heavy hitter in the race to the race – Mike Huckabee – had an interesting quote the other day.  Check who this guy pals around with – and wants us all to embrace as our dear leader.  And finally, it being just after April 1, how about a story on the guy the Republicans really should be running against Obama?  This Karab Amabo has more than just an unusual name!






Manmade Climate Chaos – We Can Pretend, Hide and Lie, but . . .

The Star Tribune occasionally prints a column that is pure hogwash on this issue.  Fortunately, they have the integrity to publish a rebuttal in the immediate aftermath, plus letters to the editor that point out the ideological ignorance of the original author.  That original would be Jason Lewis.  His hah-hah piece is the first link.  You will find typical unscientific baloney, featuring the classic straw man arguments.  Problem, of course, is that this nonsense has its sway over many of our fellow citizens.  After all, it is an enticing picture, isn’t it?  You know, the scientists are making this stuff up, they’re trying to suck up more research money, they’re chicken littles.  After Lewis’ willfully elegant ignorance, two fact-based rebuttals.

And now some reality and hope.  Fourth link – A blog entry from a Daniel Akst Newsday piece explaining our potent but often forgotten tool in the energy struggle – conservation.  (Sorry, Dick Cheney!)  Final link – a great piece on NPR’s Science Friday this week. Author Mark Hertsgaard (‘Hot’) had much interesting information, including the fact that conservation and efficiency buy us much greater return for a dollar spent than building nuclear.  And he also ‘congratulated’ us in America for being citizens of the only advanced country where we are still arguing whether manmade climate chaos is real or some fantasy dreamed up by greedy scientists.  We truly are the April Fools, friends!  (And May, June, July . . . )







Acidic Oceans – Coming to a Planet Near You

It’s the evil twin of manmade climate chaos.  Since the Industrial Revolution, when we started burning fossil fuels, a huge share of the ancient carbon from the exhaust has settled on the surface of the world’s oceans.  This carbon mixes with ocean water to create carbonic acid.  A little acid?  No problem.  But the acid that results from the 500 billion tons of CO2 that our tailpipes and smokestacks have released over 200 years – that’s another story.  And we have natural carbon sources in the oceans that show us the worldwide seas of the future that we are relentlessly creating.  Underwater volcanoes vent carbon, creating micro-ecosystems with acidified water – at a level that scientists say will be the global norm come 2100.  The resulting ocean is devastated.  Read more in an excellent piece by Elizabeth Kolbert for National Geographic.  She is also author of an excellent and very readable book on manmade climate chaos – ‘Field Notes from a Catastrophe.’

To get a better idea of what’s at stake as 7 billion of us continue bending the planet and its denizens to our will, I recommend the episode of Krista Tippet’s On Being linked here.  Her guest, Katy Payne, is an acoustic biologist.  Her life’s work has been to study animal communication – featured here are elephants and humpback whales.  Hard for these grand creatures to communicate if we destroy their environment!

Final link is an interview with my favorite fiction writer.  T.C. Boyle has written many novels and stories on the theme of humanity’s interaction with the natural world.  In truth, we think we own the place.  But Mother Nature always bats last.  Highly recommended.




“The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible.”
Albert Einstein

Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Alysson Harper, Linda Kriel




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