Monday, November 4, 2013

GMO and GE Products are Science Commercialized Too Quickly...



or: Profit Now!!!  Responsibility?  When Ever!

I dabble in science and scientific methodology, not a scientist by trade and training, but still have found peer reviewed research about genetically modified organisms (GMO) and genetically engineered (GE) crops comes up well short of sufficient. 

Industrial (read: unsustainable without enormous assistance from chemical and mechanical agents) agriculture has led to many a problem (e.g., desertification and dust bowls on multiple continents, red tides and other algae blooms in the world’s oceans, etc…)  and we’ve mentioned naught of the problems associated with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).  Now there is problematic GE that has led to GMOs that are untested in the lab and yet are already being grown down on the farm.  I greet these new, and insufficiently tested, additions to industrial agriculture (that is GE created GMOs) with great skepticism.

One of the earliest of the GMOs is golden rice; potentially increasing the rice's vitamin A content.  The extra genetic material was added, via GE, to a variety of rice that is not grown in the regions where vitamin A deficiency is most prominent.  Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria, corn is genetically modified to be herbicide resistant and is probably hastening the evolution of herbicide tolerance, negating the effectiveness of said chemicals, in the targeted weeds.  Herbicide resistant pollen has been wind borne to places where it was not supposed to go and is cross pollinating with plant species that aren’t corn.  The herbicide resistance leaves fields of corn and weeds  resistant to multiple types of patented agricultural herbicide formulas.  This is leaving crops unable to be treated with generic versions of said chemistry when patents expire (increased cost for farmers) and interferes with the most sustainable form of agriculture known as, “no-till farming.”

The research I’ve read, over the decades, suggest that genetics are more analog than digital in character: put this gene here, to do that there, but who knows if it will do as predicted, or whether it will stay only where it was placed.  What other reactions are changed hundreds, thousands, millions or even billions of genes down the double helix?  Only long term testing, in isolated biospheres, can even begin to tell if the intended consequences are happening as predicted, or are beginning to display the signs of unintended consequences that always occur when changes are made to incredibly complex systems.

Until such long term, isolated and peer reviewed testing is done and published I, at a very minimum, want GMO products clearly labeled: clearly specified in produce (fruits and vegetables), protein (meat and fish) and when used in processed food.  That way those modified products can be avoided when I go grocery shopping.



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Turning TX Blue!!!



Robert Draper’s fine article, Game On in the August issue of Texas Monthly, finishes with the two most salient points…  First: the Democratic Party is surging from the bottom up…  Second: What the Democrats need is simply a fighter; can’t win with nobody in the ring.

Leaders of the state Democratic Party have acted as if there are two major political parties in TX; there’s not.  First and foremost the party leaders wanted money; I was told, in 2012, to raise between $500,000 and $1,000,000!  Don’t know for sure who’s on the ballot; do all available offices have Democratic candidates?  How or what are we going to spend this money on?  Don’t worry, just get more money! 

Against the party of: Ayn Rand, Laffer, Emanuelson, Weyrich, Kristol, a legislator for every Ob Gyn, Mexican border walls and troops, ballot box access chicanery,  etc…   We need good people filling all the slots on the ballot and ads on the, still neutral, Internet.

As a three time candidate against incredibly ensconced incumbents, (2012 - Carter; 2010 - Ogden; 2006 - Ogden) with really large campaign funds and long donor lists, my job wasn’t to win (although hope springs eternal) it was to find and encourage folks in the counties, precincts and neighborhoods; give them some one to vote for.

Why?

Because Republicans (the party of NO!) have repeatedly insulted and offended large blocks (the sum of whom is a large majority of Texas’ population) of eligible voters while discouraging those same constituents from using the one power they do have: to register and vote!

Conservative, white people have effectively controlled political power (for many, many years) in Texas with the innocuous phrase, “majority rules.”  However, the population of Texas leads in a national demographic trend: the minority-majority.  This trend is when the total of Americans of: Latin, African, Asian and Indigenous descent is greater than the percentage of people who identify themselves simply as White. 

The new two step approach of the NO! (dominated by white, extreme, conservatives) is to: 1. Gerrymander districts to make elected office safer for Republican incumbents and candidates; 2. Voter id regulations to make access to the voting booth more difficult. 

Voting restrictions have been justified as attempts to eliminate voter fraud, even though study after investigation has found less than an incredibly small fraction of 1% of votes cast in person are determined to be fraudulent.  The second excuse, when investigations discover that voting access discrimination affects non-whites most, is that regulations are meant to discourage those who might vote for a Democrat; that is also illegal.

This election cycle Democrats, and their money, are not just staying in Texas; they are to be aided and abetted by the national Democratic Party and ancillary groups’ efforts.  The luck of the NO! is waning and they may soon have to realize just how vulnerable their insistence on a return to the, “good ole days,” (the 1850s); their prejudice and their own inflexibility has made them.

Turning TX Blue!!!

 

Response to BS from my US miss-Representative's Office.




This post is in response to a load of BS from my US miss-Representative’s, John Carter’s, office.  They’re trying to blame the US government’s shut down on President Obama; the administration’s inability to accept the US House’s (more than 40) attempts to repeal the ACA (a.k.a., Obamacare).

The ACA (Affordable Care Act) was approved by the US House of Representatives, the US Senate and then signed into law by our President.  The ACA was challenged in the US Court system and was found, by the Supreme Court, to be compatible with the US Constitution: constitutional. 

Repeal is not possible, because the US Senate won’t vote to repeal the ACA.   The US House’s Republican majority has voted to repeal Obamacare more than 40 times, but it can’t make it to President Obama’s desk, for a promised Veto, because it won’t be repealed by the Democratic majority in the US Senate.

If the ACA were going to fail the GOP need only sit back and watch a program called Obamacare come to naught.  The GOP is scared out of its mind, literally, because the ACA is most likely going to succeed!

If you go to Massachusetts and ask what the folks remember fondly from Governor Romney's administration, the only answer you'll get is Romneycare.  The ACA (a.k.a., Obamacare) is as close to a direct copy of Romneycare as is possible; including the MIT consultants and the Heritage Foundation's individual mandate.

One simple thing happened and the GOP went psychotic about its own creation: a black guy in the White House (a two term President named Barrack Obama) adopted their ideas!

Who caused a government shut down?  The GOP did.  The Republicans let irrational bullies (a.k.a., Tea Party) dominate their party and have done/will do anything, including the grossly irresponsible, to keep our president from success.

You are giving people, who previously paid little or no attention to politics, all the motivation they need to vote to make Republicans irrelevant! 

Enjoy the responsibility!  You’ve earned it!

Monday, September 9, 2013

NSA Success: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!




First, a short review of the history of telecommunications technology.

Initially, there was a flurry of inventors, inventions and companies involved in early telephone devices. Many companies would limit connections to only those customers that were using that same company’s equipment and service; hamstringing customers who did not use the same telephone vendor as some of the folks they would like to call.

In the USA this cacophony was solved by the government creating a regulated monopoly that became AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph; a.k.a., Ma Bell, the Bell System). In other countries, around the world, it became an agency of the government: the PTT (Postal, Telephone and Telegraph).

The USA did not incorporate telephony into the government, but did become (by far and away) the largest customer; asserting its interests over the development of telecommunications in this country. The USA also became the largest market for telephone services and led development trends internationally as well.

Circuit switched, recoverable, networks were encouraged by the War Department (precursor to the DOD) as an asset in prosecuting wars. Packet switched data transmission was given a tremendous boost by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, an agency of the US government) when it worked with the private sector to start ARPAnet in 1969; the basis of the Internet.

Now, given the direct and indirect influence of the US market and the US government's role in the growth and development of telecommunications... It should come as no surprise to anybody that an agency of the US government (created specifically to spy on the entire world; technically outside the US borders) with the talent, technology, budget and inside knowledge of all the electronic means of communicating (through out the entire world) has succeeded brilliantly.

It should be mentioned that time and again (leaking bureaucrats, whistle-blowers and authors of fiction and non-fiction media) folks, like: former national security analyst (to multiple US Presidents) and author: Richard Clarke; Pfc. Manning; civilian contractor to the US government: Ed Snowden,  have warned us that we must watch the watchers.

Why?

They (the NSA, in this case) are tasked to do a very difficult job and we've allowed them great power and authority to do the job. The NSA is an agency of the Executive branch of the federal government and therefore it is the assigned task of the Judicial and Legislative branches of the federal government to monitor and restrain said agency. It is the job of the citizens to oversee that the whole process is running efficiently and effectively as intended. Since, over and above all else, the day to day function of the NSA is necessarily done in secret, the citizens don't have the information needed to do our assigned task; enter the whistle-blowers, authors and leaking bureaucrats!

Citizens can take small comfort in the fact that very few, possibly no, other organization has abilities developed by and for the NSA, because on a daily basis many of us broadcast this information using the Internet toys and tools to which we've become addicted. Also, if you will, carefully note the information we make available to private entities (friends, business contacts and companies) in innocuous comments and shopping. 

Congratulations/OMG the NSA is on the job!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Organizing for Action with Democrats?



Please, Mr. President, try to maintain a working connection with the progressive and liberal leaning folks in the Democratic Party who elected you as our President, twice.

Remember when we started the revolutionary war in Iraq that very few Iraqis had requested? 

Remember when we destabilized Iraq, after winning the war we started for them, by disbanding the Iraqi army and Baathist (ruling) Party?

Remember when we under committed to the justifiable war in Afghanistan, and changed to the second failed mission of nation building, after first failing to get the architect of September 11, 2001 (the W admin’s: Osama bin Forgotten)?

If so…  Let’s ask the international community if we might lead an effort to bring the leaders of the current Syrian government, and the evidence of the use of WMD against their own citizens, to the International Criminal Court.

Remember the, “giant sucking sound,” correctly predicted by Ross Perot when considering the North American Free Trade Agreement? 

If so…  Why would one even contemplate the Trans-Pacific Partnership being negotiated in absolute secrecy?

Free trade between countries requires only two things:
1.      Agreement that trade is a two way street; no unilateral activity.
2.      Both/All currencies must be publicly traded.

These are the clear and simple, if not easy, requirements for international free trade.

Next, we consider the possible appointment of Larry Summers as chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States.

Do we remember the economic collapses in the US of 1986 and 2007 that required 100s of billions, for the first, and multiple trillions, for the second ( much bigger because of the fall of the last of Glass-Steagall in 1999; supported by Larry Summers), in taxpayer dollars? 

Do we remember Mr. Summer’s consistent support of deregulation for the casinos, individual and corporate, on Wall Street?

When one has great alternatives, like: Janet Yellen and Sheila Bair, why would one even consider a consistent deregulation and unaccountability supporting, Wall Street insider like Larry Summers for chairman of the Federal Reserve?

Last, but not least:

Having read (or been briefed) on the short, middle and long term effects of tar sands mining and the associated Keystone XL pipeline…  Why would the answer to said pipeline’s construction be anything but, “NO!”?

Please, consider working primarily with the folks who elected you, twice, to be our President.

Another WTF (win the future, I hope) moment!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Republican Voter Discrimination; Couched in US History



A gentleman once told me that one of his professors, at the university he had attended, taught that the founding fathers intentionally gave us a government that doesn't work.

Not quite.

The democratic, republic established by the founders is inefficient by design, not defective. The most capably efficient alternative is authoritarian: a monarchy, oligarchy, theocracy or dictatorship.

The United States of America was well conceived by educated men in the Age of Enlightenment (a.k.a., the Age of Reason). They were separating the states from a colonial monarchy (with an established tie to a state religion: the Anglican Church) and specifically set out to avoid creating a similar new monarchy.

Authoritarian regimes are prone to efficiency, because they put all things in the hands of one monarch, theocrat, dictator or small group of autocrats (an oligarchy).  However, authoritarian regimes are only as good as their leaders.  That type of leader was recognized by the founders as human, and therefore fallible.

To avoid the foibles of a single person, or small group of people, a system of Checks and Balances was created to distribute governing power amongst three groups in the government: the executive, legislative and judicial branches of a strong central government.

This was the second attempt at creating governance for a new country. The first effort, the Articles of Confederation, had created a weak central authority and was considered an abject failure.

A Constitutional Convention was convened in 1787 to rectify the failure, and thus a second try was begun; ratification was successfully completed in 1789. The US Constitution is still the basis of our government today. Thus was created the longest lasting, functioning, democratic, republic in history.

Mass participation in a democratic republic, universal suffrage, is the antithesis of efficiency, because it requires everyone qualified to weigh in on the selection of the legislators, executives and all other elected officials in the government. There can also be policy (and other) initiatives on the ballot.

There is no right to the vote specified in the US Constitution. The early 21st century has been marred by attempts, almost exclusively in states with Republican majorities in their legislatures and a Republican in the governor's mansion (aided by the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013), to restrict access to the voting booth.

Limited/limiting participation of citizens in their government is considered to be radically conservative politics and can be the beginning of the end of Democracy.  Discouraging participation in government is most often done by folks who believe that a return to an authoritarian regime (e.g., dictatorship, oligarchy, monarchy, theocracy, etc...) is preferred; often identifying themselves as the most capable of leaders.

Paul Weyrich (a politically active, religious conservative and co-founder of the equally conservative Heritage Foundation) was known for opining that he didn't think everyone should be able to vote.  He had recognized that a smaller turn-out at the voting booth favored his perspective.  The Republican Party started to move in the ultra conservative direction, promoted by Weyrich, around 1980 and has adopted policy positions expressed in publications from the Heritage Foundation.

Ken Emanuelson, a Tea Party/Republican Party member from TX, is on record stating that the Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they’re going to vote 9 to 1 for Democrats.

The assault on voting rights and access to polling places espoused and practiced by the current, extremely far-right, version of the Republican Party has highlighted a need for a Constitutional amendment to delineate and codify universal suffrage. All US citizens that are age of majority, not serving a sentence for a felony conviction, should be guaranteed the right and responsibility of voting in our democratic republic.

It is essential that Democrats inform people, especially those that are at odds with the hard core, conservative tactics of current Republican politicians, that they are most likely to effect change merely by being a part of an extraordinarily large turn out of eligible voters in as many local, state and federal elections as is possible.

Register and Vote!

Give Hope and Change a Chance... and a Push!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Democrats Miss Two Republican Economic Initiatives!



In 1983 the payroll taxes for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid went up to build savings ("trust" funds) for when Baby Boomers begin to retire.  The money in those trust funds was all borrowed to pay for other US government endeavors. 

Democrats in the US Congress apparently assumed that the funds would be repaid when needed, blatantly disregarding the fact that the Republicans (R) might solve that rather massive debt by doing, with these social programs, what they have always wanted to do: cancel them!

Recently a legislative impasse was solved by using a measure that Democrats thought to be so bad that it would never be allowed to stand as is...

Oops!  

The Sequester was precisely the kind of federal budget austerity the R were looking to do; hoping to blame the resulting double dip recession (like the Euro zone economy is doing) on the Obama administration!

We Democrats need to do a little reality check!!!  The R, currently, are beholden to the really far right, wing-nut, branch of their party and these things, that those who were moderate R (like me) would probably not do, are being done. 

We Democrats need to be more cognitive, lest we be caught napping; again and again!!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Brief, Recent History of the US Congress!



In November of 2000 the voters elected a Republican president to join Republican majorities in the US Senate and House.  The federal budget surplus, inherited from the Clinton administration, was returned to deficit and anything progressive was to stop for years to come.

In November of 2006 the voters elected a Democratic majority to the US House of Representatives.  Progressive legislation went to the Senate to die; still unable to clear the legislature.

The miracle of 2008, when voters elected a Democrat to the Presidency, a greater Democratic majority to the US House and a Democratic majority (not the requisite 60 vote super majority an altogether too easy to do filibuster process necessitated) to the Senate; progressive legislation still tends to die in the Senate.

The new President attempted to work in a bi-partisan fashion in Washington, DC.  Democrat/Liberal/Progressive (DLP) elements of the voting population were unimpressed; they had apparently thought that it was our turn to play the spoiled brat in charge.

Unable to convince the new President that he should press his advantage, in a manner similar to how the Republicans had in the first few years of the 21st century, the DLP voters stayed home in droves during the elections of November 2010.  Thus did the majority in the US House return to the Republicans!  This was, however, not the same old right wing, in your face Republican Party majority in the House!  It was a newer, more radically right wing-nut, Tea Party controlled, Republican majority; progressive ideas were relegated to bills with no hope of passage.

We, once again, find the DLP prone folks in an uproar over the audacity of a President still proposing legislation of a bi-partisan nature.  The DLP folks are certain that government, social insurance programs should exist in an impregnable bubble and that the President’s ideas threatened to create a pin-prick leak in that bubble.  Thus disregarding the fact that the largest, longest lived generation in US history is starting to retire: 74 million baby boomers (my, my, my g-generation).  Consider that the surplus collected for Social Security, starting in 1983, has been spent; by Republicans (who would use, "bankruptcy," as an excuse to try to kill a program they never liked) and by Democrats (who had not considered that there might be difficulty getting those borrowed funds repaid).  

The DLP must increase the Democratic majority in the US Senate and return the US House to a Democratic majority in the 2014 elections!

If we, who are the DLP, repeat the elections of 2010, take our ball and go home to pout, the legacy we guarantee the Obama administration is literally NADA!!!


Think!  Register, any and everybody.  Vote!!!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Chain CPI Debate Misses the Boat…



The President's budget proposal was rejected by the Republican's (R's) House and Senate leaders before it was officially introduced; as was intended.   The President offered cuts to the Democrat/Liberal/Progressive's (DLP) sacred cow only to be told it was somehow insufficient, even before all the details were known.  The President clearly set the R's (the party of NO!) leaders up to demonstrate that they can not take yes for an answer.  It appears that the NO! want the President to do what they would do, if it wouldn't upset the crazy right wing of the party that owns the primaries, and eliminate the social insurance programs (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid).

The Progressive Caucus in the US House has created an excellent budget proposal: the Back to Work (BTW) Plan.  It is the best proposal for a budget so far this year and it might be able to pass in the US Senate, but is dead on arrival (DOA) in the US House.  This BTW budget has too much for the DLP and will, therefore, not make it to the president’s desk via this congress!

A continuing budget resolution is quite possibly the only thing that can pass the legislature in these, almost, unbelievably partisan times in Washington, DC.

The folks in the center and left who are, "having a cow, man," need to take a deep breath and make sure they are upset for the correct reasons.  Then get themselves (and everyone else that they can) registered to vote.  Get out and VOTE in every local, state and federal election, because for good, bad or indifference the only way forward is through Democratic majorities in congress. 

The dominant force in the party of NO! appears destined for the 50s; the 1850s.  If, like a sane person, you’re not interested in going with them then they need to be made irrelevant.  Only voting their elected officials out of office can accomplish that goal.

In 2010 we Democrats dropped the ball and the US House acquired a Republican majority.  This Republican Party is driven by cantankerous, old, white people that have nothing useful, by choice, to add to the Obama legacy.  This extremely far right branch of the Republican party would prefer that there had never been a black person in the White House; to say naught about two terms!  When folks have nothing useful to add but still want to feel decisive, there is the power of NO!

If the NO! keeps the US House and/or regains a majority in the Senate the Obama legacy will literally be: NADA!!! 

Is this really what you want?

Think.  Register.  Vote!!!

Debating the 2nd Amendment without the 2nd Amendment!!!



If one visits the NRA website, reads magazines about guns and gun issues or listens to folks claiming to defend 2nd Amendment rights there is one thing you will not hear or see…  The 2nd Amendment itself!!!

This is the 2nd Amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Why wouldn’t they tell or show this?  My perspective is here:


Think about it. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

TAB's Education Misinformation



Bill Hammond, Texas Association of Business' (TAB) President and CEO, wrote that, “Schools are broken, not broke.” In the editorial he clearly demonstrates a need to walk in the shoes of a public school teacher. Please, Bill, feel free to take an unpaid leave from your current job to become a school teacher for five years, at a school teacher's salary.

I dare you!

Teachers get to raise and educate every kid, without regard for how prepared or supported they are at home. A Dr. (of what is not reported) Eric Hanushek's testimony during the current court case, the most recent in over thirty years of court cases about financing education in Texas, was that we need to remove the bottom 8% of unproductive teachers... To have a Doctorate degree and demonstrate such a lack of understanding suggests that the Doc should also invest some quality time on the other side of the lectern.

Why aren't plenty of private schools available? Why has educating the masses always been done in public institutions?

The answer is simple, unless (like Bill) you're actively trying to avoid it.  Educating everyone is not easy or inexpensive; doing it really well is even less so. Yes, it costs money, because it requires you pay enough to get, and retain, great teachers (folks who can best convey what they know to all others)! It also requires you provide proper environs and supplies for classrooms.

Testing and testing, when you've demonstrated repeatedly that you're unwilling to do what is required to educate students, is as big a waste of time, money and effort as one can imagine! Also, trying to hide statewide taxation, even insufficient quantities thereof, via locally collected property and sales taxes is just plain fraud!

The TAB is one of the groups that have shown, time and again, that they aren't willing to do what is needed, while criticizing the current education system and its results. Serious consideration about investing for education is available at: UT, A&M and Rice Universities, here in TX. Also from the dedicated souls who have done their best, with what they've been provided, in the public pre-K through secondary schools of Texas!

Bill, and his ilk, are entitled to their opinion, but there are others (at the sources listed above) who are actually trying to effect working solutions. Bill Hammond, and company, are some of the anchors that keep us standing still.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sequester/Austerity Formula for Second Dip...



The 'sequester' is a bill that was passed by the US House and Senate before the President could sign it.

The Republicans on Capital Hill won't understand that the President won re-election on increased revenue and moderate spending cuts. The Republicans are not going to get the cuts they want from the President, because those of us who recently re-elected him said plainly, "NO!"

The 'sequester' is a law that can be repealed the same way it was passed: a bill, to repeal the 'sequester,' is introduced and passed by both the US House and Senate, then sent to the White House for the President's signature.

Austerity, too many government spending cuts, is bringing all the countries of the Eurozone, 17 countries in Europe using the Euro as currency, down into the second dip of a double dip recession; the United Kingdom (not in the Eurozone) is going down for a third dip by doing extraordinary government spending cuts.

The Republicans in Washington, DC are willing to create a second dip into recession for the US economy, just so they can blame it on our President.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Doing the Tea Potty Tango!



The president has been criticized for a federal budget that is too reliant on increased revenue to reduce deficits.
The Republicans in congress are angry that the president will not list the spending they want to cut in his budget; they are apparently not willing to do it for themselves!
The president is being criticized for a federal budget too reliant on increased revenue…

Conservatives re-imagine an HHS report about Head Start’s impacts!



THIRD GRADE FOLLOW-UP TO THE HEAD START IMPACT STUDY,   FINAL REPORT, OPRE (Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Administration for Children and Families U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), Report 2012-45



This HHS report has been misinterpreted to have documented that by third grade the benefit of having attended a Head Start program is negligible.

That selectively ignores that this report is only about 3 or 4 year olds in and out of Head Start programs through 3rd grade only.  Other studies, quite a few listed in the report (skip to the Executive Summary’s Final Thoughts), suggest that there is significant longer term benefit to having attended a Head Start program as a child.

You can get some really interesting results by editing based on one’s ideological biases!!!