Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Americans Taxed Too High?

The U.S. collects the fourth lowest taxes, as a percentage of the economy,
of all the 34 OECD market-based countries.
Only Turkey, Mexico, and Chile tax their people less.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


High pressure (~1300 PSI) gas banks which store a carbon dioxide
nitrogen mix used as an insulating gas in UW's Nuclear Physics
& Astrophysics laboratory's Tandem Van de Graaff accelerator:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ode to Willard “Mitt” Romney

Sung to the Bob Dylan classic, “Blowin’ in the Wind”
How many roads must a Mormon man walk
Before he finds his way ?
How many times must this rich man change
Before his final say?
Yes, how many times must the man take a stance
Before he changes his mind ?
The answer my friend is, he’s blowin' in the wind
The answer, he’s blowin' in the wind.
Yes, how many years can a Morman man last
Before he sees the light ?
Yes, how many years can some people persist
Before they feel he’s a blight ?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see ?
The answer my friend is, he’s blowin' in the wind
The answer, he’s blowin' in the wind.
Yes, how many times must a man change his mind
Before he can seem quite absurd ?
Yes, how many stands must one man have
Before his message is slurred ?
Yes, how many groans will it take till he knows
That not many people believe ?
The answer my friend is, he’s blowin' in the wind
The answer, he’s blowin' in the wind.
Mitt "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" Romney said last Monday, "I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry's come back." Romney has set a new standard for flip flopping, one that casts serious doubts about his character. In honor of Romney's latest flip, I dedicate the above song.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hubris Defined

Republicans are having a difficult time blunting the accolades that President Obama's successful anti-terrorism campaign have generated. Obama's killing of Osama bin Laden in May of last year, followed in September by the killing of the American-born, Yemeni Al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, in addition to the hundreds of terrorist operatives killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen, mark Obama's anti-terrorism record as far superior to his "Bring 'em on" predecessor, George W. Bush.

Republicans have resorted to two lines of attack in their efforts to muddy the picture. First, they claim that finding and killing bin-Laden was a direct result of Bush's efforts to eliminate bin-Laden. This is an odd claim, since bin-Laden was trapped at Tora Bora early in the attack on Afghanistan and the Bush Administration, more specifically Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, bungled the mission that was poised to capture or kill him.
Secondly, Republicans are making the circuit of friendly media outlets to promulgate the idea that President Obama shows "hubris" in his speaking to the killing of Osama bin-Laden, some rabid supporters even going to the extent of distorting his comments to make their case by inserting personal pronouns in the text of Obama's speech announcing bin-Laden's killing.
An email circulating now shows a photo of President Obama looking a lot like Mussolini, chin up, eyes half closed, with what looks like a self-satisfied smile on his face. However, the photo was not in any way associated with President Obama's speech on the killing of bin Laden; it was a photo of the President at church listening to a hymn.
The email included portions of the speech that purported to show the President taking undue credit for tracking down and killing bin Laden. Personal pronouns in the speech were highlighted, in order to drive home the point that Obama is some sort of egomaniac. Like so much of this right-wing propaganda, the portion of the speech incorporated in the email was altered to fit the purpose of its author and the blind bias, even hatred, of its intended audience. You can read the entire speech (or even see it delivered), here (text of Obama's Speech). It's a good speech, giving credit where credit is due.
What's particularly galling about the email is the photo of former president, George W. Bush, wearing a cowboy had, with the caption, "VINDICATION" in red, capital letters. Vindication for what?

VINDICATION for leading America into an unnecessary and illegal war with Iraq and then grossly mismanaging that war, the third longest in US history after Afghanistan and Vietnam? You want to talk about hubris? Remember George "I am the Decider" Bush standing aboard the USS Abraham under a banner reading "Mission Accomplished," after climbing down from the cockpit of a Navy aircraft wearing a fucking flight suit!
VINDICATION for allowing America to not just lose the moral high ground, but to drag America's good name through the mud and blood and shit of Abu Ghraib, and the disgraceful "enhanced interrogation techniques" and extraordinary renditions of Bush's intelligence operations?
VINDICATION for squandering the surplus Bush inherited from the previous Democratic administration and leaving the next president, Barack Obama, with the largest deficit by dollar amount ever recorded in US History, and a national debt eighty-five percent (85%) greater than when Bush took office? And even that astounding mismanagement of the US economy doesn't tell the full story, for Bush left in place legacy programs that keep rolling up deficits and debt.
VINDICATION for Bush appointees manipulating, suppressing, and/or distorting scientific conclusions reached by the government's own agency staff on everything from climate change to lead poisoning?
I could go on, but it's too damn depressing. Let me just say, Republicans have a hell of a lot of nerve, I might even say hubris, criticizing Barack Obama in light of their support for George W. Bush.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Torture -- Not Again!

Whatever we call it, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” or “harsh interrogation methods,” we all know deep in our gut what torture is. We do not require a legal opinion or a morality lesson to know that it is wrong. But perhaps we could do with a refresher course, because former members of the George W. Bush Administration, like Mr. Jose A. Rodriguez Jr. (Washington Post, 4/30/2012) will surface from the dark to convince us that torture works -- the end justifies the means. In the case of Mr. Rodriguez, his purpose is two-fold, to credit Bush for the intelligence leading to the killing of Osama Bin-Laden, and to justify his own role in this dismal chapter in America’s history. What may be more revealing than Mr. Rodriguez’s article, or his upcoming book, is the fact that former intelligence officials point to Rodriguez as the person who, in 2005, ordered the destruction of at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of Al-Qaeda operatives, because if made public they, “would provoke a strong reaction.” Unfortunately for Mr. Rodriguez at least, the infamous photos of Abu Ghraib are still available on the Internet for anyone with the stomach to view them.