Monday, April 23, 2007

The Brad Blog Highlights Blunt Connections to Cummins Firing

Don't miss investigative blogger Brad Friedman as he weighs in today at The Brad Blog with a long post on the Blunt/Fee Office/DOJ scandal. He draws from the ongoing coverage at Fired Up Missouri and other state and local sources, including the SBJ article from May 2006.

The role of Mark F. "Thor" Hearn of Lathrop & Gage lawfirm is highlighted. The Brad Blog has been keeping tabs on the activities of Thor Hearn for quite some time and his activities as founder of the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR). According to Brad, the ACVR "was, in turn, behind virtually every report, initiative, claim, piece of legislation, Congressional testimony, legal case, "official commission" or public statement concerning the cooked-up case for the mythical epidemic of Democratic "voter fraud" that has been at the heart of the GOP/White House/DoJ attempts at vote-shaving via politicization and suppression at the ballot box since at least 2004."

Several years of Brad's investigation into the ACVR are archived on his blog at Brad also assures us that as much of the material about Thor Hearne and his activities is scrubbed from internet sources, he has saved that info for future reference.

Thanks Brad, great reporting.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Governor For Sale

That 30-some percent of Missourians who approve of Matt Blunt's performance as governor are willing to pony up some big bucks to support his upcoming political campaign.

The elimination of contribution limits has resulted in an early windfall for Blunt, including $200,000 in contributions from Texas homebuilder Bob Perry and his wife Doylene. Perry is the man behind the deceptive Swift Boat ads that adversely affected John Kerry's Presidential bid in 2004.

Also chipping in a total of $200,000 is David and Ethelmae Humphreys of Tamco Roofing Products, Joplin, MO. Jerry and Patricia Hall of Monett, MO weighed in with a combined total of $125,000.

Contributing $100,000 each were Stanley Herzog, Herzog Construction, St. Joseph, MO; Rex Sinquefield,
Show-Me Institute, Westphalia, MO; Dennis Jones, Retired, St. Louis, MO; and a Georgia contributor, William Ulm, MLU Service, Inc., Bogart, GA. Jeffrey, Marilyn and Merle Fox, Harbour Group Investments, St. Louis also gave a total of $100,000.

Donations from those giving $100 or less totaled $12,596.50. So much for the little people.

Source for data
Missouri Ethics Commission.

The Turner Report, Fired Up Missouri

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Abstinence Programs Are A Failure

This comes as no surprise to those of us living in the real world. Teens and pre-teens are more savvy about sex than ever, and have more unsupervised time in which to indulge their explorations.

From MSNBC: Abstinence Students Still Having Sex

WASHINGTON - Students who participated in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex a few years later as those who did not, according to a long-awaited study mandated by Congress.

Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes, and they first had sex at about the same age as their control group counterparts — 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

The federal government now spends about $176 million annually on abstinence-until-marriage education. Critics have repeatedly said they don’t believe the programs are working, and the study will give them reinforcement.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Global Warming Denial

In the last couple of weeks a couple of Republican guys have lectured me (in very loud voices) about their disbelief that global warming is real.

They are essentially parroting guys like this. From News Hound:

"The science is out on global warming. There are a number of scientists who say the earth is cooling. There are others that say it's not. I know that the leadership in the House and the Senate right now are trying to suppress the scientific community from coming forward and saying anything in opposition to what they want." - Bob Murray, CEO, Murray Energy, Inc. a coal mining company.

In 2006, Murray's PAC donated $202,000 to 24 Republicans and 0 Democrats.

Your World with Neil Cavuto, April 5, 2007

Monday, April 09, 2007

Peak Oil and Future Shock

Nino Cocchiarella has some astute observations about life after Peak Oil.

From the Evansville Courier & Press:

Peak oil crisis will require fundamental cultural change
By NINO G. COCCHIARELLA Special to the Courier & Press

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The recent congressional report "CRUDE OIL, Uncertainty about Future Oil Supply Makes It Important to Develop a Strategy for Addressing a Peak and Decline in Oil Production" firmly recommends that we "better prepare for a peak in oil."

The report clearly states that there is no U.S. policy to deal with global peak oil. Oil peaked in the United States in the 1970s. We were saved by OPEC, Alaska and the North Sea discoveries, and we never looked back.

Humans have for all practical purposes found, drilled, pumped and refined half of the crude oil on the planet — the easiest half: 900 billion barrels — so far this century. What's left are declining fields with hard-to-extract heavy (sour) crude, oil shale and tar sands. These will require ever more energy to extract and will approach a negative net energy result.
Plus, there are only a limited number of refineries that can make gasoline from heavy crude, let alone tar sands and oil shale. This will create exponential price increases and shortages as oil exploration and production and oil wars take precedence over poor consumers. Not to mention the side effects of burning two barrels of oil to get 2.5 barrels to market. Can you say "accelerated global warming"?

Like addicts, we have our drug of choice, "The American Way of Life," which, by Vice President Dick Cheney's recent statement, "Is not negotiable." However, in this case, there isn't a new dealer on the planet.

I wonder if there is oil on the moon?

Oil, for all its dirty, nasty attributes, is the best thing since man discovered fire. There is nothing to replace it. To put this greasy energy in perspective: One cubic mile of crude oil has the energy equivalent of 104 coal-fired power plants running for 50 years; 1 cubic mile of oil equals 22.7 billion barrels, or about the first nine months of what the world used last year. Yet, crude oil costs only 12 cents a cup.

Is there anything you can think of, besides sand, that can be bought for less than 12 cents a cup? That won't even buy a bottle of water.

The majority of the world's significant oil fields are in decline. That, I'm afraid to say, is fact.
New discoveries have only been a fractional part of current consumption and may be taking more energy to search for than they net in new finds.

Whether you believe the oil companies (40-plus years), the U.S. government (20-30 years), scientists and geologists (zero to 10 years), former oil industry insiders (zero to five years) or us "doomers" (it's happening now), the undeniable fact is we cannot continue the "American way of life" forever. Most likely not even for another 10 years.

Oil, the very thing that fuels 6.6 billion lives, is going to soon start to, or already is in, decline. World oil production has declined 3 percent a year for the last several years.
This is the biggest, most global event man will ever face. Yet no one is talking about it. Well, maybe a few of us are yelling about it.

Ethanol, bio-diesel, synthesized coal liquids, methane gas, hydrogen fuel cells, and other "alternatives" have been passed around like a lump of hot coal for years. All of these, in their best possible forms of production, still have a net energy loss. Some are closer than others, but, realistically, they're not going to save us.

More important, they all have one vision — to keep all the cars running by any means.
And speaking of coal: We can't power our cars with it, and the same geologic laws that pertain to oil also affect coal (and even uranium). They all are finite, and we are consuming them like a cancer consumes a body.

What do we do? Conserve. Change. Elect intelligent people.

Conservation is only a feeble start. For a society to survive intact, philosophies have to change. The car mentality has to go, and the sooner the better.

We have to stop urban sprawl and let the land around our cities be used, as it once was, for growing food for its region; use light rail for distance transportation and trolleys, bikes and pedestrian walkways for local transportation.

We must localize communities around centers of food production and local-needs manufacturing. We must learn to live with less.

All of these would use less energy and could allow a world closer to what we know today to continue for a significantly longer time than would doing nothing.

Technology will not fix this. No amount of high-tech know-how, drilling techniques or "Googling" will save us from ourselves.

In reality, we all will have to learn to live a different life under different conditions. It's not going to be easy or fun.

Peak oil will be the issue of our generation. There is not going to be a heroic Hollywood ending or Hail Mary pass to save us on this one. This is an issue that should not be seen as a liberal, tree-hugging, doomsdayer's obsession. This is a global geological fact that needs to be considered in every aspect of our lives.

Nino G. Cocchiarella is a resident of Evansville.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ashcroft Undermined Civil Rights Division at DOJ

From the article Bush's Long History of Politicizing Justice:

... Instead of attending to the Civil Rights Division's historic mission, addressing the legacy of slavery by enforcing anti-discrimination laws, the Bush administration has employed the division to advance the political agenda of a key GOP constituency, the Christian right and also, quite literally, to get Republicans elected.

Accomplishing these goals required a drastic change in personnel, which necessitated dismantling the hiring system, forcing out or silencing career (nonpolitical) staff, and replacing them with people without civil rights expertise but with demonstrated ideological and partisan loyalties. It was a project that took years to execute because several checks on such a scenario had long been in place, checks that earlier administrations of both parties had respected...

In an e-mail to his 125,000 employees on his first day on the job, Ashcroft promised to guarantee "rights for the advancement of all Americans." But actions were soon speaking louder than words. Regular meetings of the division's section chiefs and the political leadership were virtually discontinued. In a tradition dating to the 1950s, presidents have asked an American Bar Association committee to provide a confidential rating of the qualifications of judicial candidates before the nominations are sent to the Senate for confirmation. Ashcroft and then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales met with the ABA and then terminated the ABA's advisory role. Once Ashcroft began hiring his own choices, career attorneys noticed that many of the new hires were members of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group. Ashcroft himself was called an active supporter of the Federalist Society, and several of the top legal positions throughout the administration were all held by Federalist Society members.

Then, much the way some companies go green, DOJ under Ashcroft went Pentecostal. In correspondence, use of the word "pride" was forbidden because the Bible calls pride a sin; employees were also asked to never use the phrase "no higher calling than public service." Ashcroft instituted prayer meetings, leading a Bible study at 8 a.m. sharp each day, some days even in his office, on others in a conference room at Main Justice. All department employees, regardless of their religious affiliation, were invited to attend, but in reality few did...

Hat tip to FiredUpMissouri.

John Stone, A Short Reminiscence

I knew John Stone when we were both in our late 20's. He referred to himself as Jack much of the time then, to differentiate himself from his father. His dad owned a magic shop and I often wondered what life would have been like growing up with a magician.

Jack frequented a bar where I worked for a couple of years, while finishing my degree at SMS-MSU. He usually began the conversation with a proposition, which I never took seriously. On a slow night we would smoke some menthol cigarettes and talk about every subject under the sun.

I lost touch with him after I left the bar job, but remember him with fondness.

After I discovered his blog, it often was the highlight of my day. RIP John Stone, you will be missed