IBI Watch 9/4/11

4 09 2011

Following the (Big) Money

We are getting all the government that money can buy.  Not tax money – our politicians are doing everything they can to lower taxes, especially on the wealthiest – in the name of protecting ‘job creators.’  And of course all that tax-cutting is contributing mightily to deficits – but that’s another story.  No, the money that buys government is growing into a torrent, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.


And we are about to see in 2012 an election influenced by corporate spending like none before.  Meet SuperPACs.  We get a close-up view thanks to Stephen Colbert, who launched his own.  In the last link in this group, Mother Jones magazine has some fun with a superPAC that supports a certain Minnesota Congresswoman.






Paying the Big Guy, but not Uncle Sam

One of the most often heard battle cries among conservatives is the need to lower the ridiculously high US corporate tax rate.  And, truth be told, that rate – 35% – is high by world standards.  Ah, but that rate is far from the whole story.  In this next piece, check the multiplier.  That is, by how many times does CEO pay at the studied major companies exceed hourly pay?  Also, listen to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders – a rare, true progressive in Congress – tell it like it is on corporate taxes.  And while we are at it, the senator also weighs in on saving Social Security.  Why can’t this guy run for president?





Pinochet Cheney?

Barack Obama has disappointed many of his supporters with his failure to live up to his progressive principles.  He has repeatedly given in to Republican positions on the economy and the environment, and if anything that trend has accelerated lately.  All that said, it is good to remember how we got to where we are today.  And this past week, our ex vice president stepped back out of his undisclosed location to peddle his revisionist book.  These links include the first AlterNet post by longtime blogger, Tom Degan.  The man writes with a certain attitude.  You might say he does not care for Dick Cheney.  If you are inclined to believe Cheney on anything, I recommend the fourth link – where he claims the Iraq war did nothing to harm US prestige overseas.  And of course check the final link for some serious laughs.







Respect for Teachers – Two Takes

Aren’t you tired of hearing teachers blamed for everything wrong with the country today?  Me too.  You’ll hear none of that in these two pieces – one a spotlight on a national education system we can learn from, and the other a personal memory of a teacher who made a difference.




Control the Vote, Control the Country

I believe Republicans know in their heart of hearts that their agenda – cutting taxes, gutting regulations, cutting taxes, protecting perks for the richest, and cutting taxes – is threatened by only one thing – unrestricted access to the vote, by a well-informed public, with all votes counted fairly.





A Scientist Working to Save an Endangered Ape

An interesting piece ran in Saturday’s Star Tribune.  It seems that the Twin Cities’ own Como Zoo employs a highly regarded researcher and world-respected authority on orangutans.  Megan Elder’s story is interesting and inspiring.  The story includes some pictures of these sadly endangered, intelligent creatures that are being sacrificed to our seemingly unstoppable destruction of their habitat in Sumatra and Borneo.  If the story makes you wonder what you can do to help, links to involved environmental groups are also attached here.






A Not-so-Radical Idea – Health Care for All

The Health Care Reform Act may be the tiniest of baby steps in the right direction.  But parts of it are running into problems – particularly the mandate that all must buy private insurance.  That will end up at the rightist Supreme Court sometime soon – a possible dead end.  But remember – that well-meaning mandate is really a workaround, a back-door way to the universal coverage that we steadfastly refuse to legislate.  Why?  Our propagandized public continues to be frightened into the idea that true, universal, single-payer health care is a threat.  It’s a threat all right – to the massive profits of the US health insurance industry.  Here is a petition that I recommend – universal coverage – Medicare – for all.  Need some persuading?  Check the second link for a video featuring our friend, Senator Bernie Sanders.




Weak Economy Means Defeat for Incumbent?  Not so Fast

Conventional wisdom says that an incumbent president is in trouble when the economy is weak or stagnant.  And with Republicans doing everything they can to thwart President Obama – remember Senate Minority Leader McConnell’s statement of the primary goal, to defeat the president in 2012 – it certainly looks dark for Obama.  But some analysis focused on North Dakota shows that things aren’t so conventional this time around.



Smog Alert – Lots of Them – Just Ahead

President Obama’s latest capitulation to the Republican anti-tax, anti-regulation juggernaut has many progressives – including this one – disappointed, alarmed or just plain angry.  One of the main reasons I supported him in 2008 was the promise of an about-face from the Bushies’ damn- the-science approach to policy.  But when this supposed progressive Democrat overrules the EPA under the guise of ‘helping the economy,’ it does not make me an enthusiastic booster of reelection.  I mean, he’s still better than Rootin’ Tootin’, Pistol Shootin’, Treasury Lootin’ Rick Perry, but the gap seems to narrow all the time.  The last link is a cartoon that lampoons another recent event, but the theme is pretty much the same.  It’s an elephants’ world right now, friends.








FDR ‘Welcomed their Hatred’

I often find myself wishing we had another president like FDR – someone who would stand up for working people against the powerful corporate interests.  Like Roosevelt, Obama is hated by corporate titans, welcome or not.  But the similarity of situations ends right about there, as commentator Eric Black points out.  Would a fire-breathing speech help?  Who knows?



Defeat Climate Ignorance – One Argument at a Time

With Pistol Perry possible for president – and Republicans demanding willful ignorance on this issue as an article of faith for nomination – it’s important to be aware of resources that help understanding.  I have found another good site.  It lists the most commonly heard denialist arguments, and explains the science that destroys each one.  My favorite is this one – carbon dioxide is such a small part of the atmosphere, it can’t possibly be such a serious issue.  That is, 390 parts per million is so small, we can double, triple it, who cares?! These bullet points, taken from the site, offer analogous examples of big change wrought by small amounts of a substance.

  • He wasn’t driving drunk, he just had a trace of blood alcohol; 800 ppm (0.08%) is the limit in all 50 US states, and limits are lower in most other countries).
  • Don’t worry about your iron deficiency, iron is only 4.4 ppm of your body’s atoms (Sterner and Eiser, 2002).
  • Ireland isn’t important; it’s only 660 ppm (0.066%) of the world population.
  • That ibuprofen pill can’t do you any good; it’s only 3 ppm of your body weight (200 mg in 60 kg person).
  • The Earth is insignificant, it’s only 3 ppm of the mass of the solar system.
  • Your children can drink that water, it only contains a trace of arsenic (0.01 ppm is the WHO and US EPA limit).
  • Ozone is only a trace gas: 0.1 ppm is the exposure limit established by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends an ozone limit of 0.051 ppm.
  • A few parts per million of ink can turn a bucket of water blue. The color is caused by the absorption of the yellow/red colors from sunlight, leaving the blue. Twice as much ink causes a much stronger color, even though the total amount is still only a trace relative to water.



‘Morning in America’: Our Long Hangover

Unemployment rising. Foreclosures run amok.  Income and wealth skewing ever more towards the top one percent.  How did we get on this track?  Michael Moore has a strong opinion – timely for the Labor Day holiday.




“Now as I look around, it’s mighty plain to see
This world is such a great and a funny place to be;
Oh, the gamblin’ man is rich an’ the workin’ man is poor,
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.”

~Woody Guthrie



Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Mark Goldberg, Allyson Harper, Linda Kriel, Mike Kuehn, Darlene Lewis, Lucinda Plaisance, Cindy Rogers




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