Resistance Begins at Ohm!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Constitutional ammendment? We don't need no stinkin ammendment!

The state of Mass approved a new law that awards all 12 of their electoral votes to the prez candidate that wins the most votes nationally. Not that gets the most votes in Mass., the most nationally. Here's what they say:
"What we are submitting is the idea that the president should be selected by the majority of people in the United States of America," Senator James B. Eldridge, an Acton Democrat, said before the Senate voted to enact the bill.
Under the new bill, he said, "Every vote will be of the same weight across the country."
Boston Globe
Supporters are campaigning, state by state, to get such bills enacted. Once states accounting for a majority of the electoral votes (or 270 of 538) have enacted the laws, the candidate winning the most votes nationally would be assured a majority of Electoral College votes. That would hold true no matter how the other states vote and how their electoral votes are distributed.
Well, to hell with the constitution, I guess Mass, Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington can make all our decisions for us.

Who wants to lay odds DOJ doesn't sue any of them...

DOJ decides to sue Arizona for enforcing a law that says the same thing federal law says. Oh sorry, states can't do that, it is an activity reserved to the federal government. (I understand that the suit did not address their major complaint - that AZ would overload their system. I guess enforcing federal law regarding our borders interferes too much with the other important things they do.)

Yeah, OK. I guess it makes sense to someone.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What a breath of fresh air

Writing in the summer issue of the magazine The American Scholar, Prof. Laughlin offers a profoundly different perspective on climate change. “Common sense tells us that damaging a thing as old as [Earth] is somewhat easier to imagine than it is to accomplish...
 The real extinction problem, he says, is human population pressure: habitat destruction, pesticide abuse, over-harvesting, species invasion. This is a distinction of great importance because it might help direct environmental concern to goals that people can actually achieve: Forget Gaia, save a marsh; forget the planet, save a frog.
 I can't wait to read the whole essay.
Source: The Globe and Mail

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Climate questions I found answers for

It wasn't hard, really since I watch this blog regularly. I thought these were straightforward answers without a lot of prevarication.Thank you.
Roy Spencer, Ph.D.
A sampling of the questions he answers:
1) Are Global Temperatures Rising Now?
2) Why Do Some Scientists Say It’s Cooling, while Others Say that Warming is Even Accelerating?
3) Haven’t Global Temperatures Risen Before?
7) Is Increasing CO2 Even Capable of Causing Warming?
11) Is Rising CO2 the Cause of Recent Warming?
17) How Important Is “Scientific Consensus” in Climate Research?    

Energy questions I can't find answers for

1) Why not natural gas?
Rather than using tax payer money
  • to replace everyone's electric meters, 
  • to deploy a bunch of wind turbines that will never return on the investment, 
  • to buy a bunch of solar panels when this country doesn't have enough real estate for solar (as we know it now) to ever make a dent in other generation methods,
  • to continue promoting ethanol when it is obvious it takes more energy to make it than we get back, not to mention the conversion of land from better agricultural uses,
  • to build a lot of electric distribution for wind and solar,
  • to fund a few more commissions and panels to mull over the same information we've been mulling for several decades, and 
  • to jump start the manufacture of electric vehicles which will never replace a substantial number of passenger cars let alone truck
Why are we not building distribution for natural gas for vehicle use? It is easy to convert gasoline engines to natural gas, it is much cleaner, and we have a whole lot of it! Seems to me that would be one of the most beneficial ways to use those stimulus dollars - building an infrastructure that would actually transform us away from the oil economy. Why is no one talking about this, what am I missing?

2) If I understand the laws of nature correctly, it takes the same unit of energy to move a unit of mass or to change the temperature of mass, regardless how that unit of energy is produced. In other words, it takes energy to do work and the work doesn't care how you get it. The work could be moving goods from one place to another or it could be changing water to steam. However the work is accomplished, the energy required to do that work is the same. The difference between one method and another will have a lot to do with how much energy is expended outside of the objective. For example, it takes x BTUs to change y liters of water from ice to steam. But applying the BTUs to the water will also increase the temperature of the container, the stuff that is producing the heat (engine, fireplace bricks) and the rest of the local environment (air, ground).

It doesn't matter whether one is using oil, wood or wind-generated electricity, it takes the same amount of energy to produce the same effect. It just comes down to how much is wasted along the way that makes one method more efficient than another.

There are really inefficient ways to produce energy just like there are really inefficient ways to use it. If I need to use as much energy to create a gallon of ethanol as it produces when I burn it (which is still creating the same amount of CO2 duh), then I'm not saving any energy, I'm consuming twice as much. However we decide to replace carbon-based energy with something else, one has to consider the whole formula. How much real estate is used to host those solar cells? What is lost getting the electricity from the solar cell to the house? How many trees (or how much prairie grass) aren't consuming CO2 because those solar cells are using their space? And how much will all those solar cells heat the air around them - those big black heat sinks that will continue heating the air after the sun goes down and they are no longer producing a single watt?

My not-so silly question, doesn't it produce as much CO2 more or less to plow the field with a diesel tractor as it does with a team of oxen?

My serious question about what happens to the energy, doesn't doing the work transfer a lot of heat to the atmosphere apart from whatever CO2 might be produced? How much in total?

My last question, what can we really hope to save through this adventure in massive wealth conversion to wind and sun considering not only the manufacturing but the transmission, storage (!), inefficiency, heat loss, and real estate requirements?

3) We have a *lot* of energy stored in the form of carbon-rich oil and coal. That stuff used to be something else - plants and animals. Before it was oil, what was composition and temperature of the atmosphere? What were the sea levels (like it's even comparable)? It seems to me that oil and coal are about the most efficient and stable ways to sequester CO2 that we could hope for. And before it was oil and coal, it was something else "in the wild." As far as I can tell, when all that carbon and oxygen was in the wild, the world did not end. But it couldn't have been "as we know it" so what was it instead?

4) This is not one of those big picture questions, but I can't confirm the answer. Plants convert CO2 to oxygen, but they also produce CO2 - they "respire." I want to know what the net oxygen production is. And is there a mechanism where O3 is created instead? I found one source that indicates the net is something like this: plants produce oxygen at a rate about twice what they produce in CO2.

I wish I understood this better.

5) Why do people think that CO2 is bad (it is plant food - the sun converting CO2 to carbon and oxygen) and oxygen is good (it is toxic, actually, in concentrations much higher than found naturally and it is the key element in combustion represented not just by fire, but by oxidation - rust, and aging)? Seems to me that CO2 is actually a pretty good way to sequester oxygen, which if we had too much of would destroy the world as we know it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I can't believe these


Obama on Immigration, July 1, 2010 
'The southern border is more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years.'
Sure bud, what country were you in then?
“Being an American is not a matter of blood or birth, it’s a matter of faith,”
Uh, WTF? Read the constitution, the US constitution.
Said too many times:
"I can make a firm pledge, under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes, not one dime."
America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. (here)
Yah, that's what I always say about the Taliban: Justice, progress, tolerance and dignity

A 1.6 billion dollar tax break for lawyers -

And Congress doesn't even need to deem, let alone vote
I don't have any confirmation on this, but if true, it sure takes the cake. And eats it, too.

American Thinker

I'm speechless.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Greece on the Great Lakes

Illinois is so far in the hole.... $12 billion!

Items of note:
“Their pension is the most underfunded in the nation,” said Karen S. Krop, a senior director at Fitch Ratings. “They have not made significant cuts or raised revenues. There’s no state out there like this. They can’t grow their way out of this.” 
The state’s income tax burden is not terribly high — Illinois ranks in the bottom half of states — and its government is not terribly large. (The budgets in New York and California, per capita, are much larger). Even if the state cut out all family and human services spending, more than half of the budget deficit would remain. 
 “We are a fiscal poster child for what not to do,” said Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a liberal-leaning policy group in Illinois. “We make California look as if it’s run by penurious accountants who sit in rooms trying to put together an honest budget all day.”
Illinois reports that it has $62.4 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, although many experts place that liability tens of billions of dollars higher.
So what do they do? Raise retirement age and slash benefits - for future workers.

NY Times, July 2, 2010

Wonder what Michigan, Ohio and New York look like?

This cannot continue. People, agencies and businesses will be literally bankrupt because the state cannot make payroll and won't even give letters of credit so agencies can borrow against future payments (not that more borrowing is a solution). Those people, businesses and agencies will in turn default on their obligations, causing a cascade of pain that will spread to other states.

And the rest of us (states and citizens alike) will be expected to pick up the tab. Look, I don't have a problem taking care of people who are victims of circumstances. But you can't claim victimhood when you keep electing irresponsible idiots to run your affairs. You can't cannot hold these pensions as untouchable while everyone else loses their job. And you can't keep funding all the things like mental health, after-school programs, and subsidized transportation. You need to eliminate half the things you do if you are buying twice what you can afford. Given the interest due on the Illinois loans, its citizens cannot afford to cross the street right now. More borrowing is not the solution as you won't make interest payments on your loans as it is. The time for tough choices and a change in stewardship is at hand.

If everything is important, nothing is important.

Citizens must hold their elected officials to account and force them to cut up the credit cards. You cannot continue to throw up your hands and claim it wasn't you, it was someone else that brought this on. If you don't, why should the more responsible (or perhaps luckier) people in other states come to your rescue?

This is a recipe for financial disaster and in the case of Illinois, the oven timer is beeping because the goose is cooked.

This is a microcosm of the US in general. Unfunded pensions (social security), unfunded benefits (medicare and veterans) and debt obligations are looming ahead like Jaws, and will consume better than half the federal budget in the near future. Military costs look small by comparison. The taxes you pay now for benefits you think you will get in the future are really taxes for benefits that were given in the past. There is no money set aside for those future benefits and we don't even count them as liabilities in the federal budget. We long ago spent the so-called social security and medicare trust funds. We are simply borrowing more and more money that is not even planned for the government's revenue stream.  Healthcare is no different, it is another ponzi scheme that will suck the revenue out of our economy like a large leech, leaving the middle class not only without medical care, but without the infrastructure to restore privately funded services.

Is the answer to grow the economy out of this? Here's the problem with that idea: interest payments are non-productive. They do not build infrastructure, provide any services, create any industries, improve education, save for the future or pay for expenses. Think of it like money thrown in the fire. Interest payments do not build the economy. It enriches the financial industry and is used to lend more to -- whom? To the "little people," the small businesses and the local governments who will be broke because of taxes (to pay the interest).  On the other hand, if we refuse to pay the interest, then we destroy the very financial institutions that we borrowed to the hilt to save just last year. The ones we say we need so we can borrow just to survive. They provide the mortgages, car loans, even the infrastructure we use now to pay "cash" for everything from gas and groceries to cable and phone bills.

It is a vicious cycle. It destroys your standard of living, therefore quality of life. It consumes your freedoms as the government makes your choices and you can't afford any alternatives. The more you make, the more you are taxed. It makes you a slave to the bank. And now we are doing it on a national scale. So, even if you are debt free with 6 months of food in your basement, your neighbors are not, your government is not, and both will be at your doorstep to take what you have.

Stop the madness, stop the spending!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Do you need more reasons to fire Congress?

Reason 1
Besides the fact that they are not doing the job they swore to do? 
One job that Congress is constitutionally charged to perform (as there is no other entity in the government that can do it) is pass a federal government budget. The senate can't, the president can't, the office of management and budget can't, the congressional budget office can't. Only the house of representatives can do this.

For the first time in history, the House has failed to pass a budget. Even more absurd, they "deemed" a fictitious $1.12 trillion budget as passed (well beyond what the government plans to bring in - deficit). That means the government can spend money starting October 1, just like the government has been doing this year.

From Human Events
Last night, as part of a procedural vote on the emergency war supplemental bill, House Democrats attached a document that "deemed as passed" a non-existent $1.12 trillion budget. The execution of the "deeming" document allows Democrats to start spending money for Fiscal Year 2011 without the pesky constraints of a budget.

The procedural vote passed 215-210 with no Republicans voting in favor and 38 Democrats crossing the aisle to vote against deeming the faux budget resolution passed.

Never before -- since the creation of the Congressional budget process -- has the House failed to pass a budget, failed to propose a budget then deemed the non-existent budget as passed as a means to avoid a direct, recorded vote on a budget, but still allow Congress to spend taxpayer money.

Reason 2
Largest tax hikes in history
From Americans for Tax Reform
Personal income tax rates will rise.  The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed).  The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent.  All the rates in between will also rise.  Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates.  The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

- The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%
- The 25% bracket rises to 28%
- The 28% bracket rises to 31%
- The 33% bracket rises to 36%
- The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family.  The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income.  The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child.  The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level.  The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.

The AMT will ensnare over 28 million families, up from 4 million last year.  According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress’ failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families—rising from 4 million last year to 28.5 million.  These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level.  The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.

Obama Care.
There are over twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare.  Several will first go into effect on January 1, 2011.  They include:

The “Medicine Cabinet Tax”  Thanks to Obamacare, Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

The “Special Needs Kids Tax”  This provision of Obamacare imposes a cap on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) of $2500 (Currently, there is no federal government limit).  There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.

So how's that hope and change thing working out for YOU?
Get your Obama Tax Exemption Card here