There?s more! You?ll find a collection of previously published Who Am I teaser images in our Who Am I Gallery. How many can you identify? Occasional Planet?s ?Who Am I? features people who have made important contributions to liberal thought, progressive politics, human rights, enlightened education, and ?small-d? democratic principles?both in the US and internationally. [...]Related posts:
It's an interesting new study that suggests once again, the Western banks are also having an easy ride in the drug war. The minions are paying the price yet somehow the big banks always manage to escape. What are the odds? Only 2.6% of the drug money profits stay in the producing country whereas 97.4% are in the West according to the study.One of these days we need to stop flushing billions...
Here comes Daily Kos Radio . . . to Wisconsin
Jesse LaGreca, a/k/a Ministry of Truth, will be in Wisconsin for the fight in Wisconsin, the recall election that culminates the year-long battle against the anti-worker, anti-labor, anti-women, anti-democracy Republican Party project, spearheaded by the extreme, retrograde bully and liar Scott Walker.
How Tuesday will end is not clear. But how it began and how it will continue past Tuesday is clear. We will never stop fighting for progressive values!
We think no one exemplifies that fight more than our own Jesse LaGreca, Ministry of Truth, and are thrilled that he will be there for the fight in Wisconsin for Daily Kos Radio. You can listen here.
Jesse will be on as much as possible but stay tuned for times to listen to Jesse's reports for Daily Kos Radio. He will be providing reports Tuesday morning from 10 AM ET, and continuing, on and off all day and through the nightl LISTEN HERE.
Once again, our most heartfelt thanks to Netroots Radio, who will be hosting Jesse's reports from Wisconsin?you can listen here. Special thanks to Wink Edelman, who will be producing Jesse's reports, and Justice Putnam, the program director for Netroots Radio.
Consider this the pre-relaunch of Daily Kos Radio, whose official relaunch comes at Netroots Nation. More on that this week. Stay tuned.
The man who has been selected to head up Mitt Romney’s potential transition to president is reaping a profit from a law that Romney has pledged to repeal.
Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) has been offering his consulting services to companies and states implementing health care exchanges, which are a key component in the Affordable Care Act. Romney, on the other hand, has pledged to repeal Obamacare on day one.
Politico reports that Leavitt could be tapped to serve as Chief of Staff or White House Counsel:
As the point man for what is internally called ‘Project Ready,’ Leavitt is stepping into a post that historically gets little attention during the campaign but becomes the focal point of a government-in-waiting beginning the day after the election. And already, plugged-in Republicans from Washington to Salt Lake City are buzzing that [if Romney wins,] Leavitt could make his own transition next January into the job of White House chief of staff or as a Valerie Jarrett-like personal counselor to a President Romney. … In an interview, Leavitt confirmed his involvement but said little about a process that is just underway. ‘The most important thing is to let the campaign be the focus of attention and for us to very quietly do what needs to be done, and that’s what we’re engaged in,’ he said about the transition planning.
Leavitt would be put in an awkward position if he actually had to transition to power. It would force him to choose between political capital and his real profits.
Thousands of Egyptians poured into the streets on Saturday, a day after a court sentenced former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to a life prison sentence, enraging protesters who hoped to see the fallen strongman receive the death penalty for his failure to stop the killing of protesters during Egypt’s uprising. He and his sons were acquitted of corruption charges. By Sunday morning, several hundred protesters were still demonstrating in Cairo’s Tahrir square, committing to stay until the deaths of those killed by security forces last year are avenged. See the chaos in the courtroom after the verdict was delivered:
One of the reasons the Wisconsin recall is such a huge event is this: Unions are being weakened, and as they are weakened, corporations will represent the majority of organized political activity, leaving people -- actual real, flesh and blood people -- without any voice at all. Unions are, after all, best at organizing and deploying people to get out the vote, to galvanize voters, and to push back on corporate messages.
The statistics on union membership in Wisconsin post union-buster bill passage are stunning. As Rachel explains, in one year public sector union membership in Wisconsin has shrunk with frightening rapidity. Before the union-buster passed, AFSCME membership in Wisconsin was 62,818 members. Today, post-passage, membership has shrunk to 28,745. AFT membership pre-passage was about 17,000 members. Post-passage, 11,000.
That's in one year. ONE single year.
From the transcript:
We've shown this chart a bunch of times on this show. These were the heavyweights when it came to outside spending in the 2010 election cycle. These were the ten groups that spent the most money on the election that year. Six of the ten spent big time on the right. They spent on the republican side. They were led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The biggest spender in 2010. Almost all the of groups spending on behalf of the republicans were corporate funded groups like that, business groups.
The only major spenders on behalf of Democrats in 2010 were unions. That was it. They made up only three of the top ten spenders. The only thing that Democrats had were unions. If you kill public sector unions in Wisconsin, you can kill unions altogether and you can kill this key source of strength. It's true around the country. They're doing it in Wisconsin.
Republicans set out to kill the unions and that's what is they have done. Look at this headline. Wisconsin unions see ranks drop ahead of recall vote. This is the membership for Wisconsin's second largest union of public sector workers. This is before the union stripping law. Here is that same union's membership today. We don't have the stats on all public unions but what we have looks the same. This is the American Federation of Teachers before the stripping law went into effect and this is the membership now.
A year after Scott Walker's law took effect. That's what they have been able to do in a year. Now because they could not stop the implementing of this law, the Democratic side in the Wisconsin recall effort doesn't have the means to compete politically that they usually have the unions play a political role. To the extent that unions are going away, they can play less of a political role.
It's a big reason why the Republican side has had a spending advantage that's reached at times 25 to 1. $25 on the republican side for every single dollar on the Democratic side. This recall election on Tuesday is really close. Democrats might yet pull it off. They say that the ground game is key.
Who used to be best at the ground game? Unions. Killing off the unions is what Republicans want to do in every state of the country. That's why Scott Walker is the poster boy for the Republican Party this year. They understand this is the way they can win not just now but forever. Republicans get this, and they want it to happen in every state in the country. Do Democrats get it? Do they understand what's at stake?
I would ask the question a little differently. I would ask whether people in general get it or whether they're so thoroughly spellbound by corporate mumbo-jumbo that they've lost their ability to reason. I say that because one of the most disappointing emails I ran across in the big email dump earlier this week was one from a union member to Scott Walker before the union bill was introduced, commending him for his approach.
enlargeThis email is from Cynthia Taylor, WSEU (Wisconsin State Employees Union) Local President. She goes on to write this:
This comes to you from a WSEU Local Union President but someone who believes more along your lines. I worked at the University of Florida for over 10 years and thought our benefits were extremely good. When I moved back to my home near LaCross, WI and got a job at UW-L I was SHOCKED to learn how good the benefits are here. The one draw back is that I took an almost 50% cut in pay coming back here but my husbands increase offset my decrease for the most part.
There is more, but that paragraph illustrates how utterly ignorant this woman is about what it means to be part of a union. Unions aren't just thugs roaming around trying to beat innocent workers and corporations into submission, no matter how much the hard right wants you to think so. That 50 percent cut in pay she took was offset by the awesome benefits she received, and yet she criticizes. My head is bruised from banging it on the desk.
Unions are the uniting of collective voices which speak for the greater good of workers who would otherwise have no voice. None.
Now the right wing is having lots of fun with the membership decrease after the union-busting law kicked in. They're claiming that it's proof positive that unions are universally loathed by the left and the right, and people are voting with their feet. Actually, it's more likely people are doing what people do when times are hard and they're paying more for their pensions and health insurance by payroll deduction already. That lump sum doesn't exist in their checking account and so they're forced to let it go until it is, which is never.
The union-busting bill hit unions from three vantage points: 1) It forces union members to re-authorize the union each year; 2) union dues may no longer be paid via payroll deduction; and 3) collective bargaining is limited to salary issues alone.
In the debate between Scott Walker and Tom Barrett Thursday night, Barrett tried to get Scott Walker pinned down on whether he would sign the right-to-work law that's wending its way through the state legislatures right now. Walker weaseled on that question in a big way, saying the last year and a half of conflict should prove that such a bill would never reach his desk, which doesn't answer the question. All of us who have been following Wisconsin know he absolutely would sign such a bill if given one small chance.
What I have come to understand over the past three years is that the hit job on unions in the public eye has been so deep, so strong, and so wrong that we have, as a society, come to demonize unions without really understanding what they do. How many of us were educated properly on labor organizing in the 20th century? I doubt many. It's a topic that tends to come at the end of a long school year, receives short shrift, and never is studied in any depth, but what we know is that states which have gone with the right-to-work model are poorer, the jobs pay less, and employees have no job security whatsoever when compared to union states.
Wisconsin is ground zero as far as whether unions thrive or barely survive. And if unions go, the oligarchs win.
A very rare record from this "Workers music association label." London.
Among the widening panoply of strategies being deployed to restrict U.S. abortion rights?ostensibly in the interest of protecting women?is the relatively recent push to prohibit the performance of abortions for the purpose of sex selection. Sex-selective[...]
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Looks like someone knocked themselves out of the running as a vice presidential candidate after daring to challenge King Grover this week: Norquist: Jeb Bush Insulted Mitt Romney By Abandoning Anti-Tax Pledge:
Grover Norquist lashed out at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Friday, the latest Republican to buck the conservative leader?s anti-tax pledge.
During an appearance on CNN?s the Situation Room, a visibly frustrated Norquist ? president of Americans for Tax Reform ? said that Bush ?kind of stepped in it a little bit? when he told the House Budget Committee that signing Norquist?s pledge to never raise taxes is tantamount to ?outsourc[ing] your principles and convictions to people.? Norquist claimed that Bush had insulted Mitt Romney by abandoning the pledge:
NORQUIST: [Bush] went on to kind of insult Governor Romney because Governor Romney has made a written commitment to the American people said, ?when I get to Washington I?m not going to raise taxes. The problem is too much spending and we?ll reform government and we?re not going raise taxes, so when i go and see a problem in Washington like Obama?s overspending, I?m not going to raise taxes, I?m going to reduce spending.? And unfortunately what Jeb Bush said was that that was outsourcing his principles.
As Think Progress noted, Bush is not the only Republican to finally break with Norquist and his no tax pledge of late. Now if we could get Wolf Blitzer to challenge him on his assertions that Democrats are the ones responsible for busting the budget or that you could call anything the Republicans are trying to do "reform." They broke the bank with two unfunded wars and an unpaid for prescription drug plan and tax giveaways to the rich and now they're using the deficit as an excuse to destroy our social safety nets which they've wanted to do for decades anyway. Heaven forbid the likes of Blitzer and his ilk will ever point any of that out to him.
Bush has brushed aside any notion he was interested in a spot on the presidential ticket a while ago. If there was any doubt that he was not going to be Romney's running mate, I'd say this probably sealed it for him. God knows we can't have any Republicans failing to pay proper homage to their dear leader who came up with his tax pledge in the seventh grade.
Full transcript below the fold.
BLITZER: Let's talk about that with Grover Norquist. He's the president of the group, Americans for Tax Reform. He's joining us right now. His new book, by the way, is called "Debacle: Obama's War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now To Regain Our Future." What do you think of what the former Florida governor named Jeb Bush had to say today, Grover?
GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: He kind of stepped in it a little bit. Before he did that, he actually said something useful and that when he was asked what if we could get rid of some deductions and credits, and he said that would be fine as long as you cut tax rates dollar for dollar, so it's not a tax increase. Now, that is almost verbatim, the tax player protection pledge, but then, he went on to kind of insult Governor Romney because Governor Romney has made a written commitment to the American people and said, when I get to Washington, I'm not going to raise taxes. The problem is too much spending.
We're going to reform government. We're not going to spend less. We're going to have less debt. We're not going to raise taxes. So, when I go and see a problem in Washington like Obama's overspending, I'm not going to raise taxes, I'm going to reduce spending. And unfortunately, what Jeb Bush said was that that was outsourcing his principles.
In point of fact, what Governor Romney and most Republicans have done is signed a pledge not to me. That's what Harry Reid, the head of the Democrats in the Senate likes to say, but the pledge is to the American people. It's on our website, ATR.org. Everybody can see it. It's on most candidates' websites so you can see that they made that commitment to the American people.
BLITZER: So --
NORQUIST: Jeb Bush really misspoke and insulted Romney and shouldn't have.
BLITZER: So, from your perspective, does this disqualify Jeb Bush as being Romney's running mate?
NORQUIST: No believe look Jeb Bush hasn't run for office for 10 years. He's not used to Washington politics. He should have known that the number one thing Democrats are interested in, Van Hollen (ph) is the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It doesn't like the taxpayer protection pledge because it is how Republican candidates and a couple of Democrats make a written commitment to the American people that they won't raise taxes.
It's a very powerful way to have credibility in committing not to raise taxes. It's very important that the Democrats break that because what they want is Republican fingerprints on a tax increase that would pay for Obama's bigger government rather than the Republican strategy which is to stop Obama's overspending and not raise taxes. The Ryan plan brings the budget into balance. The Republican plan that Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has put together and that the Republicans have twice now voted for in the House of Representatives that brings the budget into balance without a tax increase. We don't need a tax increase, so we need spending restraint.
BLITZER: So from your perspective, someone like -- let's say like Rob Portman (ph), the Republican senator from Ohio who has signed your pledge, would he be more acceptable as a running mate than Jeb Bush.
NORQUIST: Well Portman would certainly be a very strong vice presidential candidate. He has both taken the pledge and kept it as a congressman and a senator. He knows that pledge is to the people of Ohio. Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana has kept the pledge, taken the pledge and kept it as governor of Louisiana in very difficult, economic times.
He's had a lot of reform as a result. I think Rubio of Florida who is looking as a possible vice presidential candidate has both taken the pledge as a state legislator, as a senator and kept it. The modern Republican Party, almost all of the elected officials there have committed in writing to the American people that they're not going raise your taxes. They will reform government.
BLITZER: Grover Norquist thanks very much. I think we just heard three potential candidates that you like, Rob Portman (ph), Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio as possible vice presidential running mates. I suspect there are some other names out there as well --
NORQUIST: I don't want to get in trouble --
BLITZER: We'll leave it there for now.
NORQUIST: Yes. OK.
BLITZER: Yes, I don't think Jeb Bush necessarily is your top choice, but that's just my guess. We can discuss this a little bit more down the road. Thank you.
NORQUIST: Thank you.
Time lapse photo of Makani?s tethered wing flying in a circle (Photo: Makani Power)
by Jonathan Koomey excerpted from his blog
I like site visits?there?s nothing like seeing a company?s innovations in person. In the case of Makani Power, I harbored some core misconceptions about their technology, and the visit set me straight.
Corwin Hardham, CEO and one of the co-founders of Makani, invited me to visit in Fall 2011. An intern of his was taking the class I taught that semester, and he heard me mention the company?s efforts in lecture, so he put Corwin in touch with me. Things have been so busy that I wasn?t able to arrange a visit until a few weeks ago, but I?m sure glad I stopped by.
When I drove up to Makani?s building, which formerly housed the control tower for the Alameda Naval Air Station, the first thing I saw was three rusted artillery guns. That was a jarring sight, but the location makes sense. Corwin explained that this site was the largest available open space in the Bay Area and was perfect for building and testing Makani?s prototypes.
Others had told me about Makani?s technology, and the words ?kite? and ?high altitude? always come up, but these terms are misleading. When I think of kites, I think of Ben Franklin flying the traditional diamond-shaped kite with a tail. The Makani turbine is a carbon fiber wing with propellers (see photo), which Ben Franklin wouldn?t have known what to do with.
And the words ?high altitude? made me think of kites flying in the path of airplanes at 10,000 feet, which isn?t at all right. Makani?s turbines fly at about 300 m (roughly 1000 feet) above the ground.
Instead, imagine building and operating just the most important part of the wind turbine, the outer part of the turbine blade (which generates most of the power) without the rest of the supporting structure. In essence, that?s what Makani?s tethered flying wing is?the end of a turbine blade that flies in a circle and generates power. The initial prototype generates 20 kW? the next version should generate 600 kW, assuming they get the money to build it.
The wing itself (without the generators and propellers) is incredibly light?I could easily pick it up with both hands, even though it?s about 20 feet long. That?s the beauty of carbon fiber. Super strong, without much weight for the wing itself.
The wing has four propellers mounted perpendicular to plane of the wing. Each is attached to a generator that can reverse itself to serve as a motor. This capability is needed because the wing starts from a cradle on the ground and lifts itself off to achieve the needed altitude, then switches to generator mode once the wing starts its normal circular path. If the wing needs to come down for maintenance, the process works in reverse (and the wing can go from normal flight to sitting in its cradle in less than 5 minutes, which means that it can safely avoid adverse conditions on the ground.
The full wing in flight here showing the four generators/ propellers (Photo: Makani Power)
Complex computer control technology is critical to the wing?s functioning. My friend Saul Griffith, one of the cofounders of Makani, told me that the control technology was similar in complexity to found in missile guidance systems. It?s sophisticated enough to keep the wing on a path with meter level precision, and that?s awfully good.
Power is sent down the tethers. Better to move electrons than to worry about mechanical parts in such a complex environment.
Because the wing flies at higher altitudes than a typical wind turbine, and because it can operate at lower wind speeds, the capacity factor for a Makani turbine will be more like 50-60% (instead of 30-40% for new traditional wind turbines in good sites). And with capital costs typically half of a traditional turbine, the Makani technology should have a significant economic advantage over traditional wind power plants (and competing fossil technologies).
Makani?s technology is yet another example of what I call substituting smarts for parts. It?s a form of dematerialization that allows us to do more clever things using substantially fewer materials but with better performance than traditional efforts.
Makani?s technology is also a beautiful case study of the power of whole system design. Focusing on incremental changes in the design of traditional turbines can yield cost reductions, and we?ve seen that occur since the 1970s (with recent increases in the cost per kW attributable to scaling up to larger turbines with higher capacity factors, among other things). But to create game changing innovation, it takes a comprehensive rethinking of the problem starting with a clean sheet redesign, and that?s exactly what Makani?s innovations represent.
I started out as a skeptic about this technology, but my visit, and conversations with Saul and others convinced me that it holds the real promise of revolutionizing the production of electricity from the wind. My friend Gil Masters, emeritus professor at Stanford and one of the giants in the renewable energy world, wholeheartedly agrees (we just had lunch this week).
? Dr. Jonathan Koomey was a researcher and scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) for more than two decades. This was excerpted from his blog with permission.