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On Rick Jensen today, some figures gave us pause.  One in five Delawareans live in poverty. Three out of every five children, live in poverty. The numbers of people going hungry has gotten worse since 2012…. not better.

This happened because of the Republican’s cuts to SNAP, the food stamp program. Originally a family of four in 2012 could spend $750 a month in food stamps. Now it is down to a little over $400 dollars thanks to both Tea Party Republicans and Democrats like John Carney who cowardly don’t stand up to them.

Which means a family of 4 making less than $1500 a month working however many jobs, ate off $25 dollars a day in 2012, but now, thanks to bastards in the Republican Party, is down to 13 dollars a day!

Most go that 4th week in the cycle goes with very little or no food.  They would have to stop by charities to pick up a 50 pound box which would get them through that last week…

We all know that the recession was brutal.. But I did not know that by 2011 very few people were needing boxes and most of the charities cut back on handing them out and would only do them to order, at special requests.  In 2011 and 2012, there simply was no need….

Then came the budget cuts.. Those brutal 60% cuts which not only put hunger back into the working people’s daily ritual, but laid off large numbers of grocery and retail store employees are causing tremendous hardship.

So whereas private sector jobs are growing, and unemployment is down, the need for food is not.  One needs $50,000 in family income to stay self-efficient today. Anything less is hurting the economy and is draining some other resource from somewhere… Most often SNAP and Medicaid.

We need to realize that despite as much as we like their entertainment, we cannot afford Republicans.. But until we root out the prime cause, stingy people in power, we desperately need charities to fill the void.  Please make some of your holiday money go to a cause that is probably the most important and most politically correct of a choice you could possibly make in this life…

Big thank you to the Riley family… ❤

Go  here, click on the banner. and donate…

 

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Happy Pi Day To All

Photo courtesy of dvo.com

3.14.14  Oh boy… next year we do it up right…   π

Remember Super PAC’s?  The fear that Republicans would flood the market with money, so really bad Republican candidates would win over really good Democratic ones?  Well. that hasn’t happened, and the reason why, is rather obvious after 2012.  Why would one throw money away on a candidate who has zero chance of winning?

The key word is “zero”.

The Federal Election Commission has published the top 10 contributors of 2013.  8 lean Democratic, 2 lean Republican and one of those died this past year.

When money does not flow towards ones campaign because of one’s ideology, one’s ideology will remain just that:  ideology.  And that is what is happening.  For those already tied to the losing side, conservatism, being shrill is the only method left in their bag of tricks to shake up campaign donations…  For example if as a candidate I wade into a group of ten people and champion “We really have got to get rid of this president who is black” and one person says “here, here”, I know which of the ten to press for money. Hence we will hear the Tea Party get crazier, and crazier, and crazier, in their attempt to isolate those donars who will only donate if one meets the high bar set by a certain litmus crazy test…

But it will cost in the long run as this chart well shows….  Donors for 2013.

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Compiled by Center for Public Integrity from FEC information. (Click image to show party affiliation)

The fears over Citizens United still remain.  Just because no Republicans are on this list today, does not mean they lack the potential to donate next year.  (Adelson and his wife donated $90 million in 2012). but what is telling is that many of the deep-pocketed GOP donors who ranked among the most generous givers during the 2012 election cycle, have yet to open their checkbooks for super PACs during this election cycle. Furthermore, the only 2 Republicans on this list, Bob Perry at number 6  who died, leaving a giant hole in Republican future finances, and the number 10 spot was only to funnel money in to Massachusetts GOP Senatorial candidate Gabriel Gomez,  have since… disbanded….

Republicans are waiting for a more moderate, sensible, and decent human being to step up to the plate before they will think twice of donating any money.  Currently there is only one, Rand Paul, who stands a chance.

Round Up. that squirt-squirt chemical on TV that cleans up plants out of cracks in your sidewalk?

It was discovered to be a herbicide by Monsanto chemist John E. Franz in 1970.  Monsanto brought it to market in the 1970s under the trade name “Roundup”, and Monsanto’s last commercially relevant United States patent expired in 2000.

Generically it is called glyphosate.  Glyphosate was quickly adopted by farmers, even more so when Monsanto introduced glyphosate-resistant crops, enabling farmers to kill weeds without killing their crops.  This was great for farmers.  You kill all plant-life, then plant your crops. No weeds, ever.

Industry regulators in Europe, removed from the political pressures of Monsanto,  have known for years that glyphosate causes birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals….

As the problem became known, Republicans in Congress shut down the accumulation of all pesticide data as of 2008….

The last data shows that 185 million tons were commercially applied, plus 5 million tons residentially, plus 15 million tons by governmental agencies… American yearly total. 205 million tons.

Last data was 2007.  This is 2013.

  • 205 million tons 2007
  • 205 million tons 2008
  • 205 million tons 2009
  • 205 million tons 2010
  • 205 million tons 2011
  • 205 million tons 2012
  • 205 million tons 2013

1230 million tons gross since last tabulation…..

Two problems.  The corn or soy you eat, is loaded with glyphosate.  Republicans have halted on domestic tests on the effects of glyphosate on humans.

Secondly, it wipes out food sources for pollinators.

The numbers of wintering Mexican Monarch butterflies registered this year are under 2 million.  Last season they were 60 million. California’s count, which once boasted 120 thousand, are down to 2000….

Something is happening.

Some is due to habitat demise.   Over 2 million acres of habitat are commercialized each year.  But habitat demise has not grown 97% to account for this year’s drop in Monarchs.  Lack of Milkweed has.  Monarchs can only live on milkweed.  Milkweed only grows on the edge of farmers fields.  It does not grow well in the shade of wooded forests.

Round-Up kills all plants other than that GMO Round-Up resistant strain planted.  If there is no milkweed, there are no monarchs.  The caterpillars never grow, the pupa never forms, the monarch never emerges, the census data drops, never to return.

Monsanto denies it has anything to do with the demise of the Monarch butterfly as a result of use of its chemical.

What can be done?

  • Force milkweed planting.  Mandate every farm designate over 1% of their crop area to milkweed production in 2014…. As with a dying child, if medical attention is not applied immediately, the patient dies.
  • Government lands likewise should be sown with milkweed seed, and allowed to lie fallow.
  • Create National attention.  When every school child becomes aware of the monarch’s plight, so will their parents.
  • Limit the amounts of Round-Up sold and applied per acre.
  • Remove the ban on testing what effects might be caused by Round-Up on human beings from eating GMO crops.  It could be worse than DDT and we wouldn’t even know….

Hearing the Sea Stars were disappearing in the Pacific, reminded me they were disappearing in the Atlantic as well.  This die off reminded me I’d seen zero monarchs this year, and Allan Loudell of WDEL, an expert on winged insects, had seen very few this year as well…  As of now, they were not showing up in their wintering grounds…

I wonder,  how many other die offs do you think have occurred?  I found someone who keeps track across the globe of these die offs primarily for religious purposes.  I knew it would take someone with an intense interest to put a list like this together, and this was the most extensive one I found on the web.

Every day he searches the Internet for mass die offs. They could be small; they could be large, but he records them…  It is his passion…   In just 2013, he has collected 733 so far, and he provides links for each one….  I did a random check of 5 and they were all linked to the actual news story.  Some have to go through Google translator.

But the list is here, and be prepared to be deeply affected as the immensity begins to dawn upon you….

Here are ones that jumped at me….

1st November 2013 – 20 MILLION+ bees have died off this year (37 million last year) in Ontario and Quebec, Canada. Link (Watch the Video!)

31st October 2013 – NOTE: 769 Manatees wash up dead this year (most ever recorded), in Florida, America. Link

23rd October 2013 – UPDATE: Over 700 Dolphins washed ashore dead since July along east coast of America. Link

What is troubling is the number of die offs that seem to happen very rapidly.  Food is still in the mouths of the dead animals…

Either we are much better at reporting, or something very scary is out there…   Just looking at the bee die-offs makes one wonder where in the future, pollination is going to come from…..

I think it can be best explained by this juxtaposition, for this topic will, like climate change, have to undergo considerable debate before we resolve our differences.

A) For practical purposes, Monarch Butterflies in North America are extinct. The reason is their food supply, which used to grow wild beside farmer’s fields, is now absent, because of the weedkillers (Roundup) applied to fields of GMO crops immune to that chemical. There is no milkweed. There are no Monarch Butterflies anymore.

B) Soon to be released will be a yellow rice that provides a single serving with more than a days worth of beta carotene. Likewise fruits and vegetables can now contain good HDL cholesteral instead of bad LDL.

There is great harm being done by Genetic Modified Foods.

There is great good which will come about due to Genetic Modified Foods.

Obviously from a practical level, having no bans or regulations on certain GMFoods is equally as damaging as banning all GMFoods…or making them all illegal. It is not an all of one, none of the other proposition.

The science is pretty safe. What we are doing is short circuiting the process of what man has always done…. selective breeding. We’ve changed the genes of dogs, cats, cows and goats.

But what is not known, is the effect. As with the Monarchs, there are unintended consequences involved with having GMFoods. Who would have thought through far enough, on how this would affect the butterfly we all know and love? What regulator could possibly have such a far reach of a scope to figure out how every ripple caused by such a use would effect everything else across its march of time?

Yet to ban all GMFoods will cause a lot of humans to die of starvation. Yes, it is a third world problem.

Therefore allow me to be the first to throw down some guidelines… Let us call it just for fun, the kavipsian rule of Genetic Modified Food.

Modifying food to benefit those eating it is ok. Modifying food to enable those growing it to make more money, is not.

That would have nipped the Monarch problem in the bud, and allowed Mankind to live long and prosper……

“I really hadn’t paid that much attention.  Not with all the stuff going on in DC.  I did hear about it, but did not register how impactful this event will play upon America.

I finally read the British version. (Greenwald is leaving btw) and finally saw the extent of the damage.

A couple of Guardian quotes sum it up nicely.

In the fall, a cattle rancher sells their calves to someone who specializes in raising them for market. It’s how a ranch generates income. Calves are the lifeblood of a cattle ranch. Most ranchers had not yet sold their calves when Atlas hit. Their calves are gone. The cows that made those calves were pregnant with with next year’s calves. Those cows are gone, those calves are gone.”

Three generations of cows wiped out.

Why was this storm so bad?  Again, I’ll let them tell you…..

Atlas wasn’t just a snowstorm, it was the kind of storm that can destroy the ranchers that have been caring for these cattle for hundreds of years.

Last weekend Atlas hit. It started with rain. The rain soaked the cows and chilled them to the bone. Inches and inches of rain fell. The rain made horrible mud. Then the winds started – 80mph winds, hurricane force. When the wind started, the rain changed to snow. A lot of snow. The cows were wet, muddy and they didn’t have their winter jackets when the wind and snow came. Wet snow. Heavy snow.

The cows tried to protect themselves. They hid in low spots away from the wind. The low spots where the rain had turned the ground to thick mud. Some got stuck in the mud. Some laid down to get away from the wind, to rest a little, they were tired from trying to get away from the weather when they were already so cold.

The snow came down so heavy and so fast the the low spots that the cattle were laying in filled with snow. Not a few inches of snow, not a foot of snow. Enough snow that the cows and their calves were covered in snow.

The cows and calves suffocated or froze to death.

The caretakers of these cattle had no power to save them. They had to stand by and take the lashings from Mother Nature. They had no options…..

Meanwhile, the Federal Government to whom these ranchers turned to for help….  Is playing hookey.

It is too early to predict the amount of price hikes this three state disaster will cause.  Damage is still being determined and those people who collect the information and process it, are on furlough….

Ranching may now become corporate, as these farmers now go belly up.   It is just like those stories of the Great Depression…….  Only this one, government was put on furlough…

Remember to say “Viva le Tea Party” when hamburger jump to $10 a pound…   Ted Cruz will probably like that. Texas cows were spared.

What an odd title but that is exactly what is going on in Egypt right now. A similar juxtaposition also occurred inside the minds of some Americans back on July 4th 1863 (exactly 150 years ago)  as they begin to bury the dead from both sides in Gettysburg.   Since human beings are 99.5% the same, what Egypt is now bearing must create some  intro-inspection upon how things are going here in the US as well.

I was shown an email passed among Tea Partiers that whooped:  “Egypt got rid of  their dictator; Why can’t we get rid of ours?”   Ironically the popular vote percents are strikingly similar… Morsi won with  51.7%;  Obama with 51.1%…   Yet Egypt is in the middle of a coup; and Obama is being hailed as the first since Dwight to have solidly won over 51% for both terms…

Just looking at a chart over our nation’s history one sees just how tight our popular vote margin is.  (one also sees the margin of victory is a bad indicator of just how good a president will be)…

It’s a good thing we have an electoral college to decide matters for us, and create a more determinable method of preventing what Egyptians and many of out tea partiers think should happen now….

I know many decry Bush’s win (-0.51$)  over Gore and use that to promote an amendment to abolish the Electoral College.  However America survived far better than Egypt (+1.7%) is doing  now,  with even worse violations against the the  popular vote total…  Through the House of Representatives, these people became President:  Benjamin Harrison (-0.83%), Rutherford B. Hayes (-3.00), and John Quincy Adams (-10.44%) all with more of a percentage loss than had George W. Bush over Gore.  In two of the three, the loser returned to whomp the stealer out of his second term.  One  of these “losers” even had a 51% popular vote majority!

But the electoral college  provided decisiveness. Just like in football or basketball, the final score may not portray the better team, but it provides a finality from which we can all move on.

The demise of Morsi is a great chance to bring up this issue, simply to force us to understand why our founding fathers who were unburdened at that point by political parties,  could by using what today are called “thought models”, come up with this peculiar institution that has well served it’s test over time.  Couple that to the fact that even today, we have something almost akin to a political party vying for the forced overthrow our our elected top official,  one can imagine the rancor and violence that might have tainted our nation’s  development if we did not have a clear uncontestable “score” that determined our winners from losers.

One must be cautious when comparing today’s Egypt with today’s American democracy.  Egypt is in its founding stages.  As Morsi proclaimed, removing him removes all legitimacy of any future democratically elected government.  As did Julius Caesar to all future democracy in Rome.

It makes us realize how lucky we are today that all of America was unified behind George Washington as it’s first head of state.  That unanimity of opinion, allowed the slow formation of  traditions we now have today to take root.   For one, Washington did not impose himself (as did Morsi) by aligning with either the Democrats or Federalists on policy at the expense of the other.

Morsi made that mistake with the Muslim Brotherhood.   Instead, unlike the current head of Egypt,   George Washington held court over a myriad of opinions, and picked and chose in the fashion of King Solomon, almost the same as he did at the Constitutional Convention,  of which was the most judicious approach on the basis of each proposal’s merits.  It is worth noting,  that towards the end of his second term as the political parties were being formed for the upcoming  1798 race,  he himself became quite disgusted with the smears, dirt, graft, and corruption required to enable any country to run effectively upon its own power…

Perhaps because Egypt did not endure a long war of Independence, it does not respect the cost of freedom.  Perhaps because democracy came to Egypt in its first time  like a pack of chewing gum in a cashiers line, they easily think they can replace it again with a better flavor?

But this foreboding irony of Egypt remains.   Instead of comparing it with American Democracy, suppose we go Godwin and compare it to the German election of 1932.  What if the Germans had risen up a year later against Hitler and thrown him out?  That would be  good thing right?  Or had  Mao been pushed out and the Chinese business reforms begun 40 years earlier?   Or had North Korea said “unh unh” to its dictator in the first year?  Or had Centrists in Iran risen and prevailed over the Ayatollah?

The Turkish Army as well as the Pakistani Army has on occasion stepped in and then later bowed out whenever control has become precarious.  Perhaps this is the only model that works well for overly excitable Arab populations?  it is a longterm democracy with military safeguards built into its Constitution.

But one thing is very clear from this current outcome is this:  religion can play NO part in government, even if given a political mandate. Living vicariously through Egypt it is clear there must be an impenetrable wall between that which belongs to Caesar, and that which belongs to God. All political entities who have dared mix religion into their political framework, have populations who are deeply suffering now (relative to those in strictly secular governments), even when that religious entity is the Chairman of the ruling political party himself, as is the case in North Korea, the old Soviet Union, or as was of Japan and Germany during the second world war…

It’s a lesson the US should take to heart.  They next time anyone decries we need more religious people in our democracy, cut them off with this:  “Remember Iran; Remember Egypt.”

As Americans we are not immune to Civil War.  From it we learned it is a horrible alternative to walk away from one’s existing structure simply because one does not get one’s own way…  We also learned that one can’t impose one’s will on vast majorities of ourselves who think differently.

Third.  We learned that freedom is great, but the need to eat is greater.  Government first has to function to meet the basic needs of its citizens; only then, once its citizens are economically stable to be not worried whether they will be alive the day after tomorrow,  can their thoughts begin to turn to topics such as does democracy even matter?

As US policy,  our actions need to first get Egypt to feed themselves; Spare no expense; make it our generation’s Marshall Plan. Then once well fed and able to provide for themselves, can we begin to  proselytize our points of view.  Whether they choose democracy or totalitarianism, will depend solely on who they see helping them now in their time of need…  One can talk of democracy’s long-term future implications, but that rings on deaf ears when all one really wonders, is if one will be alive the day after tomorrow.

Two big tragedies last week. Two bombs go off in Boston killing a total of 3 people, and a quirk explosion in West, Texas, demolishing a fertilizer plant and killing 14 for which we can find bodies for, and leaving 60 people still unaccounted …

One got unlimited media attention; the other a passing mention.
One shut down our 22nd largest city. The other will be investigated at some future point.

The differences are intriguing.

The Boston Massacre was a textbook case of how to find a bad guy. As Steve notes here, we’ve been planning for an event like this a long time. Homeland Security produced an army to “invade” Boston in order to find the perpetrators. They shut down transportation, and went door to door. Ironically, despite the effort and expense it was luck that gave them their men. The initial dragnet missed the one in the boat, and only when the curfew was lifted, did the boat owner find him and alert authorities.

What was Boston’s cost? Well, add up fuel for all the vehicles, armored cars, and helicopters. Add up all the overtime pay for police, fire, ambulance, and the para military troops brought in. Add the economic cost of shutting down the 22nd largest city for a day… It’s so big, I can’t even guess. We’ll have to wait for the number crunchers with receipts actually in their hands. But particularly with including the economic cost somewhere near a $billion, that means we spent a billion dollars to catch 2 people that were really caught by a) being run over by the other bomber, and b) a man stepping out for a smoke….

But we still, … cost ourselves a billion dollars….

Now. Texas. We had a combined 24,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate. It wasn’t required to obtain a state air emissions permit because it was so old. In 2004 they were supposed to come up and get reauthorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “They failed to do so.”

Federal documents say the plant did not have required security and safety plans in place. the EPA fined the plant more than $2,000 in 2006 for failing to update a risk management plan. In response, the site’s operators told the EPA that the plant posed no risk of fire or explosion. The worst case, plant officials said, would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or injure no one.

The EPA also found that West Fertilizer did not have a formal maintenance program and that its employee training records were poor. In addition, the plant was found in violation of key security measures by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The agency discovered that the plant had planned to transport anhydrous ammonia without making or following a security plan. Last summer, regulators fined the plant $10,000, then settled for $5,250…. And now we find the fertilizer had 1350 times the legal amount of fertilizer material than it was allowed….

Was too much money spent by government leading up to the explosion? Or too little? Were we lulled by a litany from the Texas Republicans that companies could police themselves, and that we didn’t need to spend any money on regulations and enforcing standards? Of course we were. It all started by that guy who once owned the Texas Rangers, who said he would “cut taxes”…

Since we cut taxes we have had multiple issues. And since that time when taxes first got cut, it is easy to see our successes all come about when we, the United States Government, spends money lavishly… When we cut back, we get nothing but trouble with a capital “T”….

So our success come when we tax and spend. Our failures come when we cut taxes and fire, close down, and destroy jobs.

There comes a time when profits get so high, that hiring new people bites into them. WE have reached that point. Corporate profits have never been as high as they are today. Yet we have 15 million underemployed. The hard way to fix it, is to force businesses to hire more people they don’t want. The easy way is to tax some of that profit that certainly is not necessary for the businesses’ survival… I mean corporations have lived on less since the beginning of time, then hire an inspector who has the authority to close a Texas fertilizer plant when it flagrantly defies the law.

America needs to accept this is how it has to be.

We need things done! Eight years of Bush’s neglect plus the 2 years of having the Tea Party corral Congress, has severely damaged America! Putting America back to work, and boosting sales to corporations who benefit from all new economic activity, and using those workers to fix what is broken in America, is a win, win, win situation…..

So at what level should the assessed tax be? It appears that since incentive is a huge part of capitalization, the level of taxation needs to be below 50%. Simply put, if I invest $1 million and lose money on that, what was the point of the investment? Therefore, it appears that after a certain income level ($5 million?) taxes after all deductions should be around 40% of all income earned. If you have too much money, keeping 60% is certainly profitable. ;

Considering our current situation, a) a thriving economy, b) a current 40% tax rate on the top 1%, and c) still high unemployment, tweaking the tax law towards deductions, so that deductions only started after the first 40% got paid, might be the silver bullet that our nation needs, one which will cut the deficit, hire the unemployed, and use both to rebuild America.

We need more money, and we have to get it. Period. All future American successes depend upon it…

Thanks Nancy. Tom Carper sponsored, and Chris Coons endorsed, a bill that shuffles money around the Agriculture Department to keep our food inspectors fully employed.

Our food will not be uninspected now because of the Republican induced sequester. Politics are one thing. People dying are another. The only protection Americans have between themselves and unscrupulous cut-throat foreign food processors, is the FDA. Eliminating them would the the death of us all. Remember the tainted pet food?

I’m glad our delegation stepped up to protect them… However this gave me pause. Where the money was being shifted from….

The Pryor/Blunt/Coons amendment adds no additional cost to the bill. Instead, it moves one-time funding for school equipment grants and deferred maintenance on buildings and facilities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

One time funding for school equipment grants, meaning many schools in Delaware which thought they would soon be on the receiving end of new refrigeration units to safeguard school lunches, must now remain using the old pre- 1930’s models currently in place. It also means when the sequester is done, and funds return, their will be less spent on helping Americans, because it will be shuffled to cover the depreciation currently not charged because of this amendment.

When are we going to stop pussy footing around the real issue, and tax the wealthy at the rate of their hero, Ronald Reagan’s first tax cut level, until we have paid off our deficit? The middle class should not bear the cost of the wealthy’s bad investments. The top 1% should be the first to anti up, and then, only when they have nothing left, should the middle class even be asked to sacrifice…..

America is being spoon fed raw sewage and is then arguing which medicine is better to cover up the symptoms….. Tax the wealthy and all our dreams will come true. America can be healthy again….