Sunday, April 3, 2011
NATURAL DISASTER ALERT: New Earthquake and Tsunami Warning off the Coast of Indonesia in the town of Cilicap in Java
This just in. Source: *here* at The Chosun Ilbo.
My prayers are with the people and other beings of the region. I pray for your safety and security. My prayers remain extended to the people of Northern and Central Japan, and in Western Haiti, as well as so many places being ravaged by disasters that are always both natural and man-made, as are the relief efforts.
Strong Quake Hits Off Coast of Indonesia
A strong earthquake has struck south of Indonesia's main island of Java, prompting authorities to briefly issue a tsunami warning.
Hundreds of residents in the town of Cilacap fled for higher ground after the quake hit early Monday. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
U.S. scientists say the quake was centered 318 km south of Java, and 24 km beneath the ocean floor.
The U.S. Geological Survey listed the magnitude at 6.7, while Indian seismologists put it at 7.1.
Indian authorities canceled a tsunami warning shortly after it was issued.
In 2004, a giant quake off of Indonesia's Sumatra island triggered an Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people, about half of them in Indonesia's Aceh province.
VOA News / Apr. 04, 2011 08:56 KST
My prayers are with the people and other beings of the region. I pray for your safety and security. My prayers remain extended to the people of Northern and Central Japan, and in Western Haiti, as well as so many places being ravaged by disasters that are always both natural and man-made, as are the relief efforts.
To all those who think there's such a thing in the world as organised hatred of men by women, if what follows doesn't clarify this matter very quickly, listen to it again.
You may also link to this post at the source websites *here* or *here*.
Thanks so much, dedgurlcingztheblooze. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
You may also link to this post at the source websites *here* or *here*.
Thanks so much, dedgurlcingztheblooze. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
|poster image is from here|
They'll critique anti-environmental policies crafted and protected by het men; they'll critique economically disastrous policies, and may even get around to critiquing capitalism as a failed economic system (if by "failed" we mean utterly inhumane and Earth-murdering). They'll critique racist policies without necessarily calling out the whole of white supremacy and other racist systems of genocide and atrocity. But what they won't call out, challenge, or confront, let alone promote organised revolutionary action against, is this: PATRIARCHY.
But, I ask you: in what country does capitalism or white supremacy exist where men do not rule? In what country do ecocidal activities (like, say, the mass production and shitty maintenance of nuclear power plants, planting poisons near Indigenous people's homelands, and military wars) seem like a good idea but not to the most powerful men who live there? Male supremacy underlies and bolsters capitalism, white supremacy, all forms of racism, and any known threats to Life on Earth currently operative around the world. Derrick Jensen and Robert Jensen (not related) get this. But they're about the only two white men who do. I call this painful, inhumane, and deadly combo of capitalism, racism, and patriarchy by this term: CRAP. And we've got to humanely compost CRAP, completely, ASAP. For the sake of everyone and everything that isn't white, rich, heterosexual, and Corporate-Conservative-Christian, and a MAN. Let's call that "Plan C", for anti-CRAP.
As Derrick Jensen well notes, along with many ecofeminists and Indigenous women activists, you can't "save" civilisation and stop the stop the gross, horrific, terrifying destruction of CRAP too. Unless you're utterly callous or brain-washed or dick-whipped by CRAP's leaders and profiteers, you'd recognise that part of what has to end is MEN'S RAPE OF WOMEN. And part of what has to end is BATTERY OF WOMEN BY MEN. And part of what has to end is the TRAFFICKING AND ENSLAVEMENT OF HUMAN BEINGS--mostly FEMALE, primarily by MEN for MEN'S PLEASURE & PROFIT. In case you haven't noticed.
To try and make "civilisation" humane while leaving all those forms of terrorism and horror in place is to practice and promote the most grievous form of inhumanity--the kind that ignores what happens to women as a politically oppressed class of people, globally. They are over half of the Earth's human population, after all.
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March 26, 2011 |
"How many failing states before we have a failing global civilization?" asks environmental pioneer Lester Brown in Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, premiering March 30 on PBS as part of its continuing Journey to Planet Earth series. It's a Gordian knot of a question with no simple answer and nothing but complex, demanding solutions, fearsomely put forth as the fate of humanity totters in the balance.
Based on Brown's book of the same name, Plan B is likely the scariest horror film that was ever disguised as a documentary, despite its calm narration from superstar Matt Damon. That's because the acclaimed environmentalist has deeply studied the variety of environmental and geopolitical tipping points we are fast approaching, and found that we're headed for a seriously dark dystopia if we don't turn civilization as we know it around, and fast. A catastrophic confluence of food and water shortages, overpopulation and pollution, collapsed governments and communities and more natural disasters than Roland Emmerich can dream up await us on the other side of Plan A, which Brown calls "business of usual."
"Environmentalists have been talking for decades about saving the planet, but the planet is going to be around for some time to come," Brown told AlterNet by phone from his Washington D.C. office at the Earth Policy Institute, which he founded at the turn of the century after decades of public and private service in the name of sustainability. "The question is will civilization as we know it be around for some time to come? Can it survive the mounting global stresses of rising pollution, starvation, food prices, water shortages and failed states? These are the real threats to our security now, but we're not responding to them."
In a sense, we are without knowing it. Japan's bungled response to a mounting nuclear crisis, thanks to one of Earth’s most destabilizing earthquakes and tsunamis, has in a cosmological eyeblink reset the entire world's nuclear ambition. Uprisings in hotspots like Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and more, compounded by America's continuing quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, are squarely knitting together civilization's crappy experiments like preemptive war, biofuels and light-speed financial stratagems into one titanic mess that is demanding new theories of cleanup.
It's no longer intellectually feasible to consider any of these events as separate, because they, like the warming climate, are interconnected nightmares that are keeping us more awake than ever, whether we like it or not. And no matter how we spin them, Plan B argues, we're eventually all going to have to work together to survive what is without a doubt an existential crisis of historical proportions. Only the depth and vigor of our mutual efforts and understanding separate us and every other failed civilization in the planet's incomprehensibly expansive history.
But after 77 years spent on Earth, most of them trying to educate its inhabitants on the dangers of taking its astronomically singular bounty for granted, the soft-spoken Brown remains a cautious optimist. That's a comforting sign for those of us at our wits' end and wondering when the rest of civilization will get its ass in gear to forestall what passes for a collective execution.
"Change comes very quickly and unexpectedly sometimes," Brown said. "The question is whether we can turn things around quickly enough. But I don't think we have a lot of time. Time is our scarcest resource."
I picked Brown's deeply experienced brain on geopolitical and environmental change, Japan's nuclear crisis, China's powerhouse green economy, food and water scarcity, technological bandaids like desalination and lab-grown meat and much more. Taken together with Plan B's accessible yet apocalyptic programming, it points the way forward for a civilization on the edge of a systemic breakdown.
Scott Thill: The book and television program is called Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. So let's start with how Plan A, what you call "business as usual," bungled the job?
Lester Brown: Plan A belongs to another age. There was a time when the market could set prices pretty well and guide the direction of economic development. But in recent decades, and particularly recent years, we have come to realize that many of the indirect costs have not been included in the prices that the market sets. The market is good at setting direct costs. For example, when you buy a gallon of gas, the market includes the costs of pumping, refining and distribution of that gas to your local service station. But the market is not very good at treating the indirect costs of treating respiratory illnesses from breathing polluted air, and certainly not the cost of climate change. The problem with Plan A's system, which worked pretty well a century ago when the world economy was only a twentieth of what it is now, is that these indirect costs are now far larger than the direct ones. So we're being guided by the market, but it's not telling us the truth about the prices or costs. In a nutshell, that's the big challenge we're facing in the world today.
ST: Plan B is arguing that we need to save not the planet, but ourselves.
LB: Environmentalists have been talking for decades about saving the planet, but the planet is going to be around for some time to come. The question is will civilization as we know it be around for some time to come? Can it survive the mounting global stresses of rising pollution, starvation, food prices, water shortages and failed states? These are the real threats to our security now, but we're not responding to them.
ST: Do you think that's because losing civilization is beyond the comprehension of civilization itself?
LB: That's quite possible, when you look at the trends of earlier civilizations whose archaeology we study now. More often that not, food shortages were responsible for their decline and eventual demise. For a long time, I had rejected the idea that food shortages could be the weak link in our modern 21st-century economy. But in fact, I think it is the weak link, and I think that's where the wake-up call is going to come from. Rising prices spreading a hunger to more and more failing states are the manifestations of our mounting stresses. That requires a mindset that's very different than we've had up until now.
ST: This is not encouraging, given our current geopolitical and environmental nightmares.
LB: Well, the other thing I'd like to add is that change comes very quickly and unexpectedly sometimes. I can remember the Berlin Wall coming down, which was the visual manifestation of a political revolution that changed the form of every government in Eastern Europe. Or the collapse and breakup of the Soviet Union, which I had assumed was going to be with us forever. But suddenly, it wasn't there anymore. Right now, we're watching a political phenomenon in Africa and the Middle East that not many of us had anticipated, a grassroots political fervor strong enough to unseat the despots that have been ruling that part of the world for decades. It's interesting because this is not the part of the world where I would have looked for political revolutions, if you will. But they're happening, and on a scale that would have been unimaginable months ago. So these tipping points come every once in a while in places and forms that are new and different. We can probably explain some of this through social networking and the Internet, but nonetheless these are radical changes occurring in a number of countries at the same time.
ST: Many of these despots were assisted into power by the United States in order to keep Plan A alive. Are our current interventions in Africa and the Middle East geostrategic capitalizations on these grassroots revolutions for access to what's left of Earth's fossil fuels? Or are we helping wipe away the 20th century's regimes so we can focus on beating climate change, which is the mammoth task of our new century?
LB: That's an interesting question. My guess is that rising food prices are leading us to the tipping point for both crises. It's difficult to convince people of the need to stabilize the climate. When you're talking about rising CO2 levels going from 280 parts per million at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution to 385 parts per million today, few can relate to that. No one has ever seen, smelled or tasted CO2; it's a very abstract thing. But people do understand rising food prices, and they do respond to them. So whether it's a growing dependence on imported food in North Africa and the Middle East, or rising food prices at the checkout counter in America, we can see how that would lead to change that is at the moment very difficult for us to manage.
ST: I've seen reports of scientists engineering meat in labs. Do you think that technocratic solution, or any others, can save our civilization from collapsing because of food shortages, as so many have in the past?
LB: The idea of producing food in labs is a bit beyond at least our commercial reach at the moment. It's not something that's close to being economically possible. Plus, it happens that nature devised this process a couple billion years ago called photosynthesis, which uses sunlight to convert water and CO2 to create basic carbohydrates. And we have not come up with any important improvements on that process: It's still the most efficient way to convert solar energy into biochemical energy.
But in looking at the global picture, it is water that is emerging as the principal constraint on efforts to expand food production. There's a lot of land in the world that could provide us food, if there was water to go with it. And what we have seen is that there are countries whose rising demand for food have led them to over-pump aquifers and underground water resources. Now, you can over-pump in the short run. But once you've depleted the aquifer, then the rate of pumping is necessarily reduced to the rate of aquifer recharge from precipitation. So we're looking at a situation where a number of countries have artificially inflated their grain production by over-pumping.
ST: And their bubbles are bursting.
LB: These bubbles are in countries that contain over half of the world's people, and they're starting to burst. The first is occurring in Saudi Arabia, which was self-sufficient in wheat production for 20 years but whose production has fallen by two-thirds in three years. They're going to have to phase it out entirely in another year or two, because they were pumping a fossil aquifer, which is like an oil field. Once you pump it out, it's gone. You're going to see more of those.
ST: Once we exhaust or deplete these aquifers, and climate change perhaps dries out our glaciers, it seems logical that we will turn to the seas for our water. What are your thoughts on global desalination, and how might that complicate our already heavily complicated problems?
LB: We can de-salt sea water. There's no question that we have the technology to do that. There are hundreds of desalination plants in the Middle East, particularly in the oil-exporting countries in the Persian Gulf. The problem is that it takes a lot of water to produce food. It takes 1,000 tons of water to produce one ton of grain. To make desalination cheap enough to produce food that we could afford, we'd have to reduce the cost of desalination by a factor of ten. Though we're getting small percentage increases in desalination efficiency, I don't know anyone who sees us being able to de-salt seawater at a cost that will make it feasible to irrigate large areas of land.
We don't drink very much water, so for household uses we can afford desalination. At least, people with reasonably good incomes can; the poorest people in the world can't even afford that. So desalination is not the answer. We drink in one form or another close to four quarts of water a day, whether that's in juice, coffee or whatever. But the food we eat requires 2,000 liters of water to produce, 500 times as much. And that's where the water crunch is going to come from, on the production side of the food equation.
ST: Let's talk about the crisis in Japan, and the pall it has cast upon the nuclear power industry.
LB: Well, we don't know yet the extent of the damage we're going to see at the Fukushima power plant. But it is clear that is has become a clear issue of public concern in Japan, and I do think it is going to change attitudes toward nuclear power worldwide. There's a tendency for industry and political leaders to say that it's not going to change how we think about nuclear power. But I think it will. There's already talk about the Indian Point power plant on Long Island: If there's an accident there where the United States government suggests a 50-mile-wide civilian and military evacuation, as it has in Japan, that would mean emptying out New York City.
When people begin thinking about that, they start to realize what a catastrophe it could be. Is it worth it to have this relatively old nuclear power plant operating so close to population centers? I think that plant is going to close, and I also think that's going to affect how we think about nuclear power. Because it's not just about the operation of these plants, it's the storage of the spent fuels. That's what is creating problems in Japan. We've got at least 70 sites with spent fuel in a similar situation. If we lose control of our ability to cool that fuel because of some accident or disaster, we're going to have a big problem on our hands.
ST: I read that the Yucca depository in Nevada has to be able to capably store nuclear waste for a million years, which frankly seems beyond our ability, if not our comprehension.
LB: Who wants waste that has to be stored for a million years around them? That's a problem. There's not a single country in the world that has come up with a way of safely disposing of nuclear waste. We haven't solved the problem of what to do with all the waste that has been accumulating, and that is going to become a matter of public concern. Japan doesn't even need nuclear power; it has so much geothermal energy. It's ironic that the same seismic threats to Japan are indicators of the country's enormous amount of geothermal energy. Japan has something like 10,000 natural hot baths, all using geothermally heated water. Any country with that many hot springs can tap geothermal energy for electricity.
So the question has to be asked: Why hasn't Japan developed this indigenous renewable resource? Why did they even bother with nuclear power? These sorts of questions will come up again and again in the future, and that's going to make it more difficult to develop nuclear power plants. I mean, Wall Street gave up on investing in nuclear power plants more than 30 years ago. The only way you can get in now is if the government -- which is to say taxpayers like you and I -- guarantee the loan.
ST: Plan B explains that we're in a race between the lethal tipping points of climate change and failed states. Can we reach in time the tipping point of grassroots revolution and public involvement that you mentioned earlier? Because it seems like we're way behind.
LB: We're losing ground right now. The question is whether we can turn things around quickly enough. But I don't think we have a lot of time. Time is our scarcest resource. But as I said, change can come quickly, and in ways that we sometimes don't anticipate. As ex-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt explained in the show, the period between the first civil rights march in Selma and the Voting Rights Act lasted less than five years. If you go back to before Pearl Harbor, and ask the American people if they should get involved in World War II, the majority would have said no. But if you ask them the day after Pearl Harbor, the majority of them would have changed their mind in a matter of days.
ST: In that situation, nationalism played a huge role in Hitler's horrific regime and our galvanized response to it. But do you think our problem with climate change is that it is rooted in interconnectedness, which is nationalism's atomized opposite?
LB: Climate change is clearly an issue that no country can solve on its own. It's going to take all of us working together to solve it. And that in itself is intimidating. But what I expect to see is some countries simply moving ahead on their own in ways that will lead other countries to begin doing the same. I don't think change will come as a result of an internationally negotiated climate agreement, but rather from countries like America, China and a few other major economies stepping ahead in a major way. The energy rethink that this nuclear accident in Japan is going to generate may also carry over into major alternatives like geothermal, wind and solar energy.
ST: China has already taken the lead. If you want to be part of what Plan B calls the New Energy Economy, you have to deal with China.
LB: It's the leading manufacturer of solar cells worldwide by a wide margin. They're also moving very rapidly into a huge expansion of wind power generation. By 2020, China plans to add something like 200,000 megawatts of wind-generated energy capacity. That's huge. That's like building a coal-fired power plant every week for the next four years. I don't think we've quite yet realized the scale of what's happening with renewable energy in China.
China has also emerged as a leading manufacturer of high-speed rail equipment. After the $8 billion bond passed in California, the first representative there to discuss supplies and equipment with California government officials was a delegation from China. Which is interesting, because it was workers from China who provided much of the labor for the Western part of our transcontinental railroad. So the Chinese are back again, but in a much different capacity. And that is something we should be thinking about.
ST: Speaking of rail, we've seen states handing free billions for high-speed rail, and the jobs that go with them, back to the government because of a bankrupt ideology. Does high-speed rail's American future worry you?
LB: I'm a bit worried. One of the problems is that many Americans have not traveled in Europe or Japan, where they have really good high-speed rail. If you don't know what it is, how it works or how efficient and reliable it can be, you don't have the same attitude or appreciation for it. In 2004, I was invited to speak at the 40th anniversary of high-speed rail in Japan. I mean, these trains travel at 170 miles an hour, have carried billions of passengers and have never had a single train-related fatality. And the average late arrival time a year before the conference was 14 seconds. We can't think in those terms right now.
Scott Thill runs the online mag Morphizm.com. His writing has appeared on Salon, XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and others.
Check Out The 10 Most CRAP-filled U.S. Governors List. (We also learn a new word replacing WTF???: "WHUCK?" Thank you, Keith Palmer. I'm using that one!)
|image is from here|
What follows is from:
March 28, 2011 |
The following piece was adapted from Keith Balmer's blog.
When Wisconsin governor Scott Walker rammed his union-busting bill through the legislature -- and then published it despite a judge's stay -- he seemed a lock for the honor of the Worst Governor in the United States. But then again, there are a lot of truly terrible executives in various state-houses these days.
So let's look at some of the others who might also vie for the title of America's Worst Governor -- to nobody's surprise, they're all Republicans!
Let's get started...
The Governor: Rick Scott (Florida)
Rick Scott was once the CEO of Columbia/HCA, a massive hospital chain. The federal government fined Columbia/HCA for Medicaid and Medicare fraud. That fine, a jaw-dropping 1.7 billion dollars, is the largest in American history.
But instead of going to jail, Rick Scott became the governor of Florida.
A guy scams the government and now is an elected official of the government. And in the three months since he's been in office he's doing his best to destroy the fourth largest state.
1. He rejected $2.4 billion in stimulus money to build a high-speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando.
2. He wants to slash $4 billion in spending while cutting taxes for millionaires.
3. He tried to use state funds to build golf courses in state parks while cutting education by 10 percent and corporate taxes by 5 percent.
4. He's requiring 600,000 government workers (including police officers, teachers, firefighters, judges, and retirees) to contribute 5 percent to their retirement.
5. He just lopped off $2,300 a year in teacher salary to give massive tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy.
He's also not a fan of black people. He proposed eliminating state support for two HBCUs (Historically black colleges and universities). He's shutting down a state agency that assists minority businesses, and he refuses to appoint an African American to any significant position in his administration.
Where's Kanye West when you need him? Someone needs to go on TV and awkwardly declare: "Rick Scott doesn't care about black people!"
Stephen King, a part-time resident of Florida, attended a rally to protest Scott's state budget cuts. Allow me to describe Rick Scott perfectly, using King's famous books as inspiration:
Rick Scott is a bigger clown than the clown from It. This Firestarter wants to turn Florida into his own personal Creepshow, a Dead Zone where his economic policies will have residents screaming "REDRUM!" Sorry Florida, but it looks like you guys are in for a whole lot of Misery.
The Governor: Paul LePage (Maine)
In January, LePage skipped Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations in Bangor and Portland. The NAACP criticized him. LePage responded by telling the NAACP, "kiss my butt."
When I first heard about this I was shocked! I turned to my friend and said, "Maine has black people?"
The irony of LePage's comment is that he has an adopted son who is black. Isn't it weird that he would diss the NAACP when it's because of them that he can even adopt a black kid?
But that's nothing compared to the controversy LePage received for his support of BPA, a common chemical additive used in some hardened plastics, such as reusable food and beverage containers. An estimated 6 million pounds of BPA are produced annually, although rising public concern about the potential health affects have prompted some manufacturers to drop the chemical. BPA has been linked to a host of health issues including reproductive problems, learning disabilities, cancer, and obesity.
Politicians in Maine are trying to ban it. But the governor is adamant in his support for BPA. If you thought his comment about the NAACP was tasteless, check out what he had to say about BPA:
"Quite frankly, the science that I'm looking at says there is no problem. The only thing I've heard is that if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards."
Do you really trust the science of this man?
What else is the governor up to? Well, he wants to bust unions, cut taxes while slashing public services, gut employee benefits and pensions, and raise the retirement age from 62 to 65.
And who will benefit from all of this madness?
Rich people, silly rabbit!
The 1 percent of households in Maine earning over $300,000 dollars will see their income taxes go down by $2,700. LePage is taking money from the middle class, so that the rich people in Maine can save $2,700.
Stephen King, a part-time resident of Maine, has spoken out against LePage (how many states does that guy live in?).
According to a recent survey, LePage's approval rating has dipped to 44 percent. Something tells me that when he's running for reelection in 2014, the people of Maine will turn Le Page and tell him to kisstheirbutt!
The Governor: Tom Corbett (Pennsylvania)
In order to deal with the state's $4 billion deficit, the residents of Pennsylvania want Corbett to raise taxes on the natural gas industry. Plus, they don't want him to cut funding for education.
And because Corbett is a man of the people, he plans to do the exact opposite.
WHUCK? (That's shorthand for "What the fuck?")
Corbett released his budget last week and it's a doozy. He's proposing massive cuts to education. He wants to cut state aid to public schools by a jaw-dropping $1 billion. He wants to freeze teacher salaries. And he wants to cut $625 million from higher education. That amounts to a 50 percent cut for the 14 state-owned universities and the four state-related schools (Penn State, Temple, Pitt and Lincoln University).
If this budget passes can you imagine all the services public schools will have to cut?
And I feel bad for the college students at these state schools. A 50 percent cut in state aid is horrifying. Those schools must find a way to replace all of that money. And you know what that means? It means the cost of tuition is going, in the words of Ralph Kramden, "TO THE MOON, ALICE!"
And if that wasn't bad enough, Governor Corbett has given a coal company CEO unilateral authority to overturn laws and pass out drilling permits as he sees fit.
Here's something I bet you didn't know. Because of natural gas drilling, there are certain parts of the state where the water is hazardous because it's flammable. There are videos on Youtube where people set fire to the water as it comes out of their faucets. Drinking that water is dangerous. Number one, it might kill you. Number two, when you go to the bathroom to pee, there's a good chance you might burn your house down!
You know what, Governor Corbett? This is an excellent idea. Let's make this a national movement. Let's appoint people to positions they have no business being within 100 feet of.
For example, let's make high school dropout Bristol Palin the head of the Department of Education! Or how about Amy Winehouse as head of the Department of Health and Human Services? Or what if we made Charlie Sheen the Drug Czar?
Last week Governor Corbett said, "Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of the natural gas boom!"
Yes, governor, let's do that. Let's give some coal executive power to pollute the state's water supply as he sees fit.
And since you want Pennsylvania to be Texas, let's cut billions of dollars in education so that the public schools disintegrate into barren wastelands. You know, just like in Texas!
Speaking of the Lone Star State . . .
The Governor: Rick Perry (Texas)
Everything is bigger in Texas: The football stadiums, the waistlines, the mosquitoes, the tornadoes, the number of teenage pregnancies, the number of high school dropouts....
Texas has a $27 billion shortfall. In order to balance the books, Governor Perry wants to slash education by $10 billion! And he wants to fire 100,000 teachers.
Perry has a few billion at his disposal to help when times get hard (like right now). It's called the Rainy Day Fund. He can dip into this money to alleviate the suffering from his proposed cuts. He initially refused to touch it. But after thousands of teachers and state workers protested in Austin, Perry started singing a different tune. Just the other day he announced that he would dip into the fund.
Now, for those of you who don't know, Perry hates when the big bad government intrudes on people's personal lives. So why is he trying to force women seeking abortions to undergo state-mandated sonograms? He wants to force doctors to show an ultrasound image of the fetus to these emotionally fragile women. Then he wants to force them to listen to the fetal heartbeat. And then he wants them to sit and listen to a lecture on fetal development.
But don't worry, ladies. You can avoid Perry's version of compassionate conservatism by simply choosing to not get pregnant!
Under Perry, Texas leads the nation in abstinence-only education. And, unsurprisingly, Texas has one of the nation's highest teen pregnancy rates. Because when you tell teenagers not to have sex, they decide to wait...until you leave them home alone for the weekend!
In other Perry-related news, he recently announced that states should have the option to opt out of Social Security.
I wish that all of these government-hating conservatives would opt out of using our roads and our police and our fire department. It would be nice if Perry opted out of using the government to watch over his border with Mexico.
And since Perry has talked of seceding from the Union, it would be nice if Texas just opted out of the United States.
The Governor: Jan Brewer (Arizona)
Arizona has no lieutenant governor. So when former governor Janet Napolitano joined the Obama administration in 2009, Jan Brewer, the Secretary of State, became the new governor.
Here's one thing you need to know about Governor Brewer: She's racist.
Ok, I take that back. That was too strong. Jan Brewer is definitely NOT racist.
She just doesn't care for Mexican people.
Though Hispanics own businesses, hold public office, and help support the local economy, the perception that immigrants do nothing but drain community resources, take away jobs, and increase violence is a reliable talking point for southwestern conservatives like Brewer.
In April of last year she passed an incredibly racist piece of legislation known as SB 1070. This is what it says in a nutshell:
WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE,WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON
The "illegal aliens" in Arizona are overwhelmingly Mexican and this bill legalizes racial profiling against Latinos. President Obama called the law "misguided".
I call it "racist".
But Governor Cruella De Vil was just getting started. During last year's gubernatorial campaign, she incredulously said that Mexican immigrants were beheading Americans in the Arizona desert. This was a lie. And when reporters cornered her after last year's horrendous debate (she was speechless for 32 excruciating seconds), she first ignored their questions, then she fled.
Here's some other fun facts about Cruella. She went to community college and received a radiological technologist certification (?????). Her top two lobbyists are from the private prison industry (the more Latinos you put in jail, the more money that industry makes). And her favorite book is "Arizona Governor For Dummies."
I made that last one up.
I just Googled "incompetent" and a photo of Jan Brewer came up!
There is no economic growth policy in Arizona, no education program, and no health-care solutions, just Hispanic-Hate 24/7. Cruella recently signed tax cuts that'll cost the state $538 million by 2018. She claims she has created jobs, yet the state has lost thousands of jobs under her term. She rails against the federal health-care program but will gladly take every federal penny tossed her way.
Cruella is taking a lot of heat, and rightfully so, for refusing to fund organ transplants.In October 2010, Governor Brewer cut funding for Arizona's transplant program, creating America's first real death panel, and putting many people's health and survival in grave danger. Without this assistance, patients in need won't be able to pay for their expensive medical bills associated with a transplant. Two people have already died since Brewer decided to cut this program's funding.
Governor Brewer's opinion on the issue is completely unfounded. How can it be wasteful to provide care to someone whose life depends on it? There are 98 patients in need of an organ transplant. And Cruella's advice to these 98 people is to drop dead!
The Governor: John Kasich (Ohio)
Before Kasich was elected governor, he made bank at Lehman Brothers. Now I don't know about you, but I think it's crazy to vote a guy into office who comes from Wall Street.
Kasich bashed unions during last year's election. Then he demanded unions take out full-page newspaper ads to apologize tohim. He's turned down federal money to build a rail line connecting Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. He doesn't like to spend money because he's fiscally conservative, unless he's spending it on his cronies. He has bumped the salaries for those in the top positions of his administration ($20,000 to $50,000 higher than his incumbent). He was chastised by police officers in the state after he publicly referred to an officer who pulled him over as "an idiot."
And he's the first governor not to appoint an African American to a significant state cabinet post since 1962. When an African American member of the state legislature confronted him with this fact, he responded with "we don't need your people!"
For your information, governor, it's not "your people", it's "you people." Didn't you learn anything from Ross Perot?
And if you still think John Kasich is not a huge jerk, then let me explain Ohio Senate Bill 5, Kasich's union-busting piece of legislation.
The Republican-backed measure that would restrict the collective bargaining rights of 350,000 teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public employees squeaked through the state Senate on a 17-16 vote.
Ohio Senate Bill 5 would ban strikes by public workers and establish penalties for those who participate in walkouts. Unionized workers could negotiate wages, hours and certain work conditions but not health care, sick time or pension benefits. The measure would do away with automatic pay raises and base future wage increases on merit.
The legislation would also set up a new process to settle worker disputes, giving elected officials the final say in contract disagreements. Binding arbitration, which police officers and firefighters use to resolve contract disputes as an alternative to strikes, would be eliminated.
According to a January Quinnipiac poll, voters in Ohio oppose such a bill 51-34 percent (15 percent don't know/no opinion). Only 50 percent of Republican-identified voters supported it. Fully 71 percent of Democrat-identified voters opposed it.
Did you know Kasich has no desire to run for a second term? If this bill passes (it arrives on his desk next month), he accomplishes his goal of destroying the public sector unions in Ohio. And this will satisfy his masters: The Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch (they supported his campaign for governor).
In just three months Kasich's approval rating has dropped to a LeBron James-like 35 percent. There is some serious buyer's remorse going on. A whopping 55 percent of Ohioans say they would now vote for Kasich's opponent (ex-Governor Ted Strickland).
In other words, the people of Ohio can't wait for John Kasich "to take his talents" elsewhere!
The Governor: Rick Snyder (Michigan)
Republicans in Michigan have come up with a revolutionary solution to the state's growing budget crisis: claim the right to auction off cities, counties, school districts, and water systems.
That's right. I saidauction offcities, counties, and school districts. Michigan is for sale, ladies and gentlemen! You guys better get in while the getting is good. I just checked Groupon and saw that Governor Snyder has a special sale going on. If you buy Ann Arbor at full price, you can get Kalamazoo for half off!
And I hear you can buy Detroit off the clearance rack!
This astonishing new bill pushed by Snyder gives the governor, or a company hired by the governor, the power to declare municipal entities insolvent. During a fiscal emergency, the governor would then be empowered to appoint an emergency manager to oversee all financial matters. That individual would have the power to 1) cancel any and all contracts: including collective bargaining rights for unions; 2) dis-incorporate whole cities; and 3) dismiss lawfully elected officials.
Corporations now have the right to take over cities and counties. Hmm, that's funny. I could have sworn that America was a democracy. Guess not.
But wait. It gets better. Governor Snyder also wants to tax the pensions of seniors as ordinary income. Last week 1,500 senior citizens protested in Lansing. The Web site Crooks and Liars sums it up quite nicely:
"The pension provision is part of the larger effort on the part of Michigan Republicans and Governor Snyder to cut corporate income taxes by 81% by increasing taxes on the poor, elderly and middle class by 36%."
The most reliable Republican voters are seniors and Snyder's support among them has eroded. They put Snyder in power and he has thanked them by taxing their pensions so that corporations could get tax cuts.
You see, boys and girls. This is why it's pretty fucking stupid to vote against your own economic interests.
The Governor: Scott Walker (Wisconsin)
In a stunning turn of events, Governor Walker and his Senate Republicans split their hotly contested bill in two, allowing them to pass the provisions over which 14 Senate Democrats left the state. This allowed Walker to strip the public workers of their collective bargaining rights. He said for three weeks that this bill was about balancing the state's budget. But he removed all financing from the bill which allowed him to pass it, thus proving Scott Walker to be a liar.
This was not about financing, it was about busting unions and sticking it to the middle class.
The Saturday after this controversial bill passed, an estimated 100,000 protesters showed up in Madison, along with 50 tractors and one donkey who wore a sign that said, "Scott Walker is a bigger ass than me!"
OK. That donkey didn't actually wear that sign. I only wished it did!
If I had to describe Scott Walker in one word it would be "motherfucker."
Let me give you a couple of scenarios that accurately explains how teachers and their unions became scapegoats for the Wisconsin budget crisis (and for the budget crisis in states around the country).
Scenario #1: Citigroup, ahem, pardon me, I mean "Shittygroup" borrows money from the Federal Reserve at zero percent interest. Shittygroup lends to people who they know cannot pay them back. Shittygroup repackages these toxic loans as Triple-A assets. Shittygroup sells the loans to state public employee pension plans. Shittygroup gets rich and pays their management billions of dollars in bonuses. Then the toxic assets completely collapse and nearly destroys the world economy. State public employees lose billions of dollars in pension funds. Republicans blame the unions for the pension fund losses. To compensate, the states cut public employee salaries, benefits, and union rights. Meanwhile, back on Wall Street, Shittygroup gets a 50 billion dollar TARP bailout, and again pays their management billions in bonuses.
Scenario #2: Republicans need to pull the wool over the eyes of their loyal, but factually challenged voters. So, they have to divide and conquer. They have to make workers from the private sector hate the workers from the public sector.
First, we all know the difference between private sector workers and public sector workers. Private sector workers have the chance to make more money. But they could be fired at any time. There's no health care, no pensions and no unions in the private sector. The public workers (i.e. teachers, firefighters, police officers) choose their line of work in part because of job security and benefits. Over the last 30 years, workers in the private sector have not received a pay increase. Meanwhile, the pay of the public sector jobs are tied into the cost of living. Republicans don't mention the fact that it is their policies that have caused private sector wages to flatline. But they do mention how fat-cat teachers are living high off the hog. They're saying to their voters, "Look at these people! Your tax dollars are paying their salaries and their benefits, AND THEY'RE MAKING MORE THAN YOU! THIS IS NOT RIGHT! YOU SHOULD BE ANGRY!"
The true villains in this sorry saga are the monsters on Wall Street. Not the teachers. If private sector workers wanna be mad at something, maybe they should be mad at how much the top CEOs get paid. In 1980, the top CEOs earned 42 times as much as the average worker. In 2011, they earn 551 times as much as the average worker.
In an interview with Fox "News", Wisconsin State Senate GOP Leader,"Eff" Scott Fitzgerald, admitted that Walker's plan was to bust unions and weaken Obama in 2012.
Doing away with collective bargaining destroys unions. During last year's elections, seven out of the top 10 outside spending groups were all right wing. The other three were unions (the public employee unions, the SEIU, and the teachers' union). Without unions, all the big money donors would be right-wing.
This is what Republicans want. They want single-party rule. They want to be the only ones in charge so that they can turn America into a banana republic.
A banana republic (i.e. Nicaragua, Venezuela) is a country ruled by a small amount of wealthy people (the oligarchs and the plutocrats). It is a country of obedient workers, servants and peasants. It is a country where working people don't have a say in politics. It is the end result of trickle-down economics and it's the opposite of democracy.
Conservatives subscribe to this idea. They believe democracy is "mob rule." They believe the noble elite (i.e. rich white dudes) should run this country. Because of their wealth, conservatives believe the noble elite are people chosen by God. They don't want the working people to vote. That's why they went after ACORN, whose only crime was that it was an organization that registered poor people to vote. That's why Republican governors are trying to change laws to make it harder for college students, minorities and poor people to vote.
When Scott Walker told the fake David Koch that "this is our moment," this is what he was talking about. The very future of democracy is at stake.
Keith Balmer is the Dark Prince of Satire -- read more of his stuff here.