Sunday, August 21, 2011

Should Ron Paul be considered a serious contender for the Republican nomination?

This was the question posed by The Economist website ( Two response comments were significant and worth repeating here, in the hope that they may get more exposure. I don't necessarily agree with what they are saying about Ron Paul, but what they are saying about the Republican field of presidential candidates is right on:

Current total votes: 10189 as of 3:00 PM EDT 21 August 2011

83% voted for Yes and 17% voted for No

Voting opened on Aug 18th 2011

The exact wording of the question was: "Should Ron Paul be considered a serious contender for the *Republican nomination*," not "for the presidency." The latter is debatable, the former much less so. His problem from past elections--that he comes across as a crank--doesn't really apply when you put him on the same stage as Bachmann. Or Cain, or Gingrich, or essentially anyone at Ames bar Pawlenty.

He sounds distinctly reasonable by comparison; he has crank positions, but he gives the strong impression of having thought them through and done research of some sort. The fact that he's been expounding those same crank positions for decades, without swerving, makes him utterly immune to the charges of flip-flopping that devastate Romney. He has Tea Party cred, but isn't super-strongly associated with them and the gag reflex they presently trigger in the American psyche. Throw in his horde of gold-standard-mujahideen supporters, and you've got a solid contender.

His main problem now, as I see it, lies in his tendency to stammer his responses. That's the downside of actually thinking about what you're saying instead of fishing about your memory for a vaguely pertinent pre-rehearsed sound bite. But what do I know? I'm a left-leaning centrist.

Lucky Buckeye wrote
Ron Paul's steadfast belief in the full validity of returning to the gold standard as an economic cure-all disqualifies him for serious consideration, no matter what else he believes. He consistently displays a rabid, and unfiltered loathing of anything government, and seems to have been educated in the early 1800's. He appears to be detached from reality - not a good characteristic for a US President. Still, these are not his most critical weaknesses.
The US presidency is a demanding job which wears on its occupants like a bad case of the flu. I have watched Ron Paul speak, and it is clear to me that he is too old, too frail, and too weak to be President. He makes Bob Dole and John McCain seem like strapping youngsters.

Due to Republican-instituted changes in election rules in many states, and the current shape of the electoral college (owing mainly to population shifts), it appears to me that a second term for Obama is in serious jeaopardy. I'm not even sure that it would be the best thing for the nation or the Democrats (moderates and liberals) for Obama to be re-elected.

Just as only Nixon could go to China, create the EPA, and retreat from Vietnam, it may be the case that only a sane and decent Republican can deal with the tea party and the other self-obsessed Republican rabble that currently occupies Congress. For that reason, I am hopeful that Republicans will nominate either Mitt Romney or John Huntsman, who at this point in time, appear to be the only Republican candidates who aren't certifiable as lunatics; and I mean that seriously. The others would be considered a joke at any other time in American history. I have never in my many years seen anything like the existing Republican slate of candidates seeking office in America. Their lack of comprehension, sense of 'real history', and compassion is shocking. To propose tax increases on the poor as a solution to the nation's debt problem is vicious and patently absurd, as is labeling the filthy rich as 'job creators'. Their doublespeak and semantic dishonesty is beyond compare.

I am losing hope for America, for the first time in my life. Our Constitution was not designed to deal with politicians who placed only their own interests above all else. Tea Partiers and their ilk would see 10 million people die in the streets before they would consent to one tax increase - even one returning rates to the 1950's. It's truly preposterous.


It does give you pause to consider, when the best that the rabid-publicans can put forward as candidates are backward looking, intellectually "lights are on but no one's home", certifiable nut cases, Ron Paul almost looks legitimate. Scary!! I feel the same way about Barack Obama that I did about Arnold in California - "You elected the guy to take on the most significant crisis in recent history that was twenty years in the making (or more!!) and then bitch because he hasn't "made everything right in two years???" WTF???!! Are YOU crazy??

Thanks for reading - and have a GREAT day!!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

What I See Emerging In This Time...

Nature! We are surrounded and embraced by her:
powerless to separate ourselves from her…she has neither
language nor discourse; but she creates tongues and hearts,
by which she feels and speaks… She is all things.

My thinking parallels many people’s regarding what we are facing except that I try to bring it all together in one “unified field theory”. Some people focus on the resource issues, some people focus on the environmental issues, some on the human eco-system aka infrastructure, social structure, processes, and communication. I am trying to unite all of it, and as Barbara Marx Hubbard says, find the good in it. To me that means “What is our opportunity?”

So… I see us as having an increasing chaotic set of natural and human conditions. Virtually every major component of the earth eco-system is either in trouble or worse. I see us as having increasingly fragile social structures, with increased breakdown and violence. I agree with the assessment that we are in one of the great global species extinctions. I see us, at the same time, as having almost eliminated “natural selection” (commonly referred to as “survival of the fittest”) in our human world. Other than war, there is little that causes death in a selective way for humans, weeding out “bad breeding stock”. Virtually anybody that is alive is considered to have the basic “right” to reproduce…and we keep almost everybody alive with the advances in modern medicine that we have achieved. While this may seem like a serious problem more often than not (and in the current context it sometimes is) it is also a normal part of nature’s cyclic process of biological re-invention.

Nature is basically up to a numbers game. She doesn’t really care about our human peculiarities or any other species’ peccadilloes. It’s all about survival of life, whatever life can “make the grade”. Everything noted here fits neatly into what has been variously described as a biospheric breakpoint or natural re-invention – virtually the same thing that Barbara describes as the evolutionary transition composed of breakdown and breakthrough, except that there is a “long wave” cycle to this process. Nature has been doing this since the beginning of the world (and possible before, but I can’t speak for that :-) There is a period of what we would call chaos, from which emerges some combination of things that represent stable, “new viable” as a Natural function. The entities that make this up start to replicate, and almost immediately the mathematics of probability comes into play, with the standard bell curve being in force. What this means is that the bulk of the results of replication are within the larger body of the curve, the “norms”, and therefore are “normal”. There are a few that are at the extremes. In the early stages of the cycle, these are not “viable” and they die or are killed off. As time goes by, more and more deviations (5-6 sigma against a normal bell curve) are created and some survive to replicate, creating a combination of percentages of deviations and normal offspringfurther combining with the original number of genetic deviations as a percentage of the whole population(s). Eventually there are enough numbers that deviations start to mate with deviations, creating significant deviation variations and exponentially increasing the number of genetic deviations running around loose. While our localized or personal view of this might tend to be negative, this is a natural process that results in genetic variation (the opposite of natural selection, which limits genetic variation), a requirement for the next cycle of natural re-invention.

Natural selection prevails during the early stage of a biological epoch to maintain stability but fades in favor of genetic variation as the epoch concludes when genetic diversity favors the development of a new viable.

There are common characteristics associated with these breakpoint reinventions.

1) What makes up the new viable has usually been around during the last days of the old cycle but has not had the ecological opportunity to flourish.

2) There are usually one or more trigger events that set in motion the cascading collapse of the old viable support system/ecosystem.

3) The nature of the shift that occurs is usually massive and it occurs relatively fast. In general it cannot be delayed or put off. It is the epitome of inevitable.

4) There is usually a good deal of “thinning of the herd” that happens during these events. They may actually be triggered by an extinction event.

5) Generally what was “old viable” may be around after the main period of the event but is no longer dominant.

I don’t think it is very far afield from what Barbara Marx Hubbard has been talking about at all, just a different frame of reference, to say that I think that we are facing just such a breakpoint natural system reinvention. As such several point are significant:

1) We are in planetary population overshoot right now – by about 5 billion people if you use the pre-petroleum and current numbers as a your standards. It is reasonable to think that advances in materials technology and other technologies as well as improvements in various processes, and information management will allow us to sustain many more people on earth than pre-petroleum numbers in a post-peak oil period leading to an alternative energy future. That having been said, there will be “thinning of the herd” so to speak, and it probably will not be pretty. This may occur by natural means or mans inhumanity to man but it’s likely.

2) For the first time in the history of the earth, there is a clear reality that a species on the earth can understand the nature, scope, and gravity of the situation and take action to favorably influence their place in the new viable schema, by choosing to consciously evolve with the shift! The nature and scope of the required conscious evolutionary effort is not certain or clearly defined. None the less, there is a good possibility that by appropriate critical thinking in advance, by staying attuned to the nature and rate of change as it is happening, and by taking deliberate and focused action the necessary changes are within our reach. It is my personal opinion that the new viable in humans will manifest itself as a new level of consciousness and a very different engagement of emotions, actions, and planetary awareness. This will be empowered by a new sense of self-awareness, individual liberty, and self-reliance at the same time as a fully engaged capacity to act collectively with any and all fellow humans on short notice, without preamble, to achieve the greater good in any situation, no matter the scale of the issue. Outcomes, rather than transactions, will drive the nature of human interactions in professional activity.

3) Old viable will no longer be dominant. Period. Not subject to debate, nor is there any aspect of the old viable that it is worth getting into an uproar over the preservation of. If it belongs in the new viable, it will be there. Otherwise it won’t. No amount of resistance, hedging, or hoarding from and by the old viable players will change that. Some things that we are currently involved, in massive efforts to “stop”, “turn back the clock”, or change, are essentially exercises in futility. We DO need to be thinking about how we respond effectively to the changes that are on the way. It is not an IF but a WHEN.

4) Times will very likely be very difficult for some. It is hard to anticipate the degree or nature of “hard”, but the first smart move that anyone can make is to ensure the maximum emergency preparedness posture for themselves and their family, then establish/re-establish neighborhood ties and community relationships that may have atrophied or never existed. The first level of conscious collective action will need to be the reassertion of physical community where little or none may have existed. It will be necessary for the sheer survival of some and it will benefit all. As Benjamin Franklin once said, in a time of breakpoint change for America, “We must all “hang together”, or assuredly we shall all hang separately!”

Blessing to you and all of us in this work!

Thanks for reading,


Monday, August 15, 2011

The Water Economy - The Real Threat

As the man said "We've done without oil, we've done without most things that are currently is short supply. We've NEVER done without water!" In case none of you have been paying attention to the REAL issues of our world, so frequently panned by the ignoratti, read THIS article and GET IT!!

Texas ready to tap sewage amid severe drought

$13m reclamation plant will provide drinking water

August 14, 2011|By Angela K. Brown, Associated Press
    • FORT WORTH - In parched West Texas, it is often easier to drill for oil than to find new sources of water.

So after years of diminishing water supplies made even worse by the second-most severe drought in state history, some communities are resorting to a plan that might have seemed absurd a generation ago: turning sewage into drinking water.

Construction recently began on a $13 million water reclamation plant believed to be the first of its kind in Texas. And officials have worked to dispel any fears that people will be drinking their neighbors’ urine, promising that the system will yield clean, safe water.

Some residents are prepared to put aside any squeamishness if it means having an abundant water supply.

“Any water is good water, as far as I’m concerned,’’ said Gary Fuqua, city manager in Big Spring, which will join the cities of Midland, Odessa, and Stanton in using the water.

When the water finally reaches the tap, Fuqua said, its origin is “something I wouldn’t think about at all.’’

Similar plants have been operating for years in Tucson, parts of California, and in other countries. Water specialists predict other American cities will follow suit as they confront growing populations, drought, and other issues.

“It’s happening all over the world,’’ said Wade Miller, executive director of the WateReuse Association based in Alexandria, Va. “In some places … resources are down to very low levels, and this is one of the few resources available.’’

The Colorado River Municipal Water District in West Texas began considering a wastewater recycling plant back in 2000 and broke ground last month on the facility in Big Spring, about 100 miles southeast of Lubbock. When finished late next year, it should supply 2 million gallons of water a day.

The timing couldn’t better. This year’s drought has made a bone-dry region even drier, causing crops to wither and animals and fish to die off by the thousands.

At least one of the three reservoirs in West Texas may dry up if the drought persists through next year, as climatologists have predicted could happen. That means the district’s water supply could be reduced from 65 million gallons a day to 45 million, said John Grant, the water district’s general manager.

“We have limited water supplies in Texas, and you have to turn to other sources of water,’’ Grant said.

The new system could actually improve the taste of the region’s water by removing the minerals and salt that give it a distinctive briny flavor, he added.

The idea to recycle sewage isn’t new. Fort Worth and other cities across the nation have long used treated wastewater to water grass and trees and irrigate crops. But the new treatment plant in West Texas will be the first in the state to provide drinking water."

That's the REAL deal, folks

Thanks for reading


Ten Reasons Why the Texas Economy is Growing That Have Nothing to Do with Rick Perry

Rick Perry may credit much of Texas’ recent economic success to the low-regulation, small-government philosophy he has espoused, but some economists say that the governor’s policies aren’t the only (or even the primary) reason for Texas’ economic health. Texas's unemployment rate currently stands at 8.2%, which is a point below the national average, but nonetheless too high. This alone complicates Mr Perry's claims to be some kind of economic magician, and more generally, some of the underlying factors and political decisions that have helped Texas through the recession can't simply be extrapolated to other states, or scaled to the nation as a whole.

On the plus side, the Dallas Federal Reserve notes that Texas entered the Great Recession late and came out of it early, with job growth standing at 2 percent for 2010 and an expected 3 to 4 percent for 2011. And of the 496,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy between fall 2009 and spring 2011, more than half of that job growth came from Texas — a finding Perry has bragged about recently.

On the other hand, Texas’ unemployment has remained stubbornly high. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the state’s jobless rate increased from 8.1 percent in 2010 to 8.2 percent in June, while the unemployment rate in nearby states remained lower or dropped. And many of the new jobs in Texas have been government and low-wage positions. Though economists say Perry’s low-tax, low-regulation policies have helped the state’s economy, there are many other reasons why Texas’ economy is thriving while other states’ flail. Here are ten of them:

1. Rising oil prices.

In January 2008, crude oil sold at $92.97 a barrel, but as of June 2011 it stood at $96.26 a barrel, according to Energy Information Administration data. The fuel peaked at $134.02 per barrel in June 2008.

Those rising oil prices may have been bad news for drivers, but they helped out the Texas economy, said Howard Wial, a fellow and economist at the Brookings Institution.

Rising oil prices have been one factor helping the Texas economy, economists say. (AP photo)

When oil prices are high, job growth in Texas historically has exceeded that of the nation, said Keith Phillips, the senior economist and advisor at the San Antonio branch of the Dallas Federal reserve. He said Texas entered the recession late and came out early, mirroring trends in oil prices, which rose towards the beginning of the recession, fell in 2009, but have been steadily rising since.

“If you look at what states were expanding, they are almost all the energy states,” he said. “When oil prices are high, our job growth is stronger relative to that of the nation.”

Based on Dallas Fed research, a 10 percent increase in oil prices leads to a 0.3 percent rise in employment and a 0.5 percent rise in GDP for the state of Texas.

2. Government growth.

“Creation of government jobs help to create jobs in the rest of the economy, because people spend money and buy things,” Wial said.

Wial said that even as the federal government directed stimulus monies towards the state — federal spending topped $227 billion in 2009, up from almost $107 billion in 2000, according to the Census Bureau — Texas didn’t see the same cutbacks in state government spending that other regions did because of its bi-annual budgeting. He said that could have protected jobs, and the overall economy, from the fallout of the recession.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, employment in Texas’ public sector has grown more rapidly than the private sector recently, with a 19 percent growth in government jobs compared to 9 percent growth in private jobs since 2000. Texas has added more than one in five of the public-sector jobs nationwide at local, state and federal levels.

That trend will change with the implementation of the new state budget, which will make cuts to state spending to account for a state budget shortfall.

3. Military spending.

The federal government has significantly expanded its military spending in the decade since 9/11, and that has been good news for Texas, home to major bases like Fort Bliss and Fort Hood.

For example, over the past three years the Army has relocated about 14,000 troops to Fort Bliss, which is outside El Paso, and plans to permanently relocate an additional 6,000 troops there in the next two years, according toCNNMoney.

“If there were military bases that expanded, there are government jobs that are being created,” Wial said, explaining that military spending has the potential to make a big impact on the Texas economy because beyond supplying jobs on the base, it pumps money into the local economy.

According to a fact sheet issued in August of 2009 by the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office, “Fort Hood is the largest single site employer in Texas, directly inserting nearly $3 billion annually into the Texas economy.”

4. No housing bubble.

Texas escaped the foreclosure bust that crippled other states’ economies — only 6 percent of Texas mortgage borrowers are in or near foreclosure, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, while the national average is nearly 10 percent.

While nearby states like Arizona and Nevada face mortgage borrower foreclosure rates of 13 percent and 19 percent, respectively, Texas’ relatively stable market may have been a factor in preventing housing prices from climbing.

Some credit Texas’ stability to state regulations on cash-out and home equity loans, which don’t allow borrowers to take out loans that total more than 80 percent of a home’s appraised value.

Wial said cash-out loans allowed borrows in other places to refinance their homes for more than their original mortgage value — driving up home prices and contributing to the eventual burst of the housing bubble.

“One force of the foreclosure wave didn’t exist in Texas,” he said.

Texas house prices stayed down during the bubble, so when it burst the state didn't suffer as much as other regions. (AP photo)

Phillips said that because housing prices never rose during the housing boom, partly because Texas has cheap, open land for building, they also didn’t crash during the recession.

5. Cheap immigrant labor.

Texas has added more people than any other state during the past decade and now accounts for 8.1 percent of the U.S. population, up from about 7.4 percent in 2000. The state has grown by 4.3 million people over the past ten years, and according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics Hispanic minorities account for 65 percent of that population increase

About one in five new residents moved from other states, but nearly 25 percent were immigrants, the AP reports. Click here to see a larger version of the map to the right for a county-by-country growth breakdown.

Texas population change by county.

Many of those new residents are immigrants from Mexico and Latin American countries who work at low wages and help keep wage averages throughout the state down. Because cheap labor is readily available in Texas, employers looking for low-wage employees are more likely to locate in the state, contributing to its economic growth.

Statistics support the states’ trend toward low pay, as many of the jobs Texas has added since the recession are low-wage. Texas is tied with Mississippi for the greatest percentage of minimum wage workers.

Liberal New York Times columnist (and Nobel Prize winning economist) Paul Krugman wrote in an editorial assessing Texas’ job growth:

Assume that for some reason the population of Texas, and hence its work force, rises – say, because of immigration from Mexico, or because of high birth rates among past immigrants.

What this will do is push wages down — and the reduction in wages will lead to faster job growth

6. A young, consumer-oriented population

Not only is Texas’ population expanding, but it is also young and has a tendency to spend more than most Americans on consumer goods. With one of the youngest populations in the country, the state benefits from the high consumption levels. According to Bloomberg Businessweek:

Texas is one of the youngest U.S. states, with a median age of 33, almost four years below the national average. That means it is blessed with a consumption-driven economy, full of young adults renting their first apartments. As families expand, their needs create thousands of jobs in retailing and manufacturing

7. High-Tech industries

Phillips said high-tech industries weathered the recession better than other sectors of the economy, entering the downturn late and improving more quickly as consumer demand has ramped up.

Texas Instruments and other high-tech companies have done well right out of the recession, helpilng the state's overall recovery. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)

And he said Texas — home to many high tech industries — has benefited from that.

“When the economy came back, consumer demand for high tech products- automobiles, cell phones, Ipads, semiconductors — has been strongest,” he said. “Texas is a high-tech state.”

8. Fracking.

A decade ago, Texas oil engineers decided to combine horizontal drilling and a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which injects chemical-laced water into the shale to push out the minerals. The system has been effective in releasing previously untapped pockets of natural gas in shale formations, such as the Eagle Ford shale formation.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2000, 1 percent of the U.S. gas supplies were from shale, but now the figure is 25 percent. And as a result of the new technology, Texas is home to some of the most prosperous new oil fields in the country.

“The Eagle Ford formation is really quite an exciting economic opportunity for the area,” Phillips said.

“That’s a pretty sparsely populated area that has not historically been very economically strong. It’s bringing a lot of activity there, and we’re seeing a lot of new millionaires being created.”

9. Texas Exports

Texas is a big producer of products that either weathered the recession well or have rebounded quickly, including high-tech goods and oil and gas. Those goods have also been leading exports during the recovery, meaning that Texas has experienced an inflow of foreign capital even as other states lag behind pre-recession export levels.

“We’re a big export state,” Phillips said, explaining that Texas’ current export levels exceed the pre-recession peak by more than 12 percent. He said that advantage has helped the state’s overall economy to recover more quickly than other areas.

He said that petrochemical exports have been doing especially well since the recession, and Texas has a big cost advantage in the industry, explaining some of the states’ export-prowess.

10. Drug Trafficking.

Jack Schumacher, a recently retired Texas-based DEA agent, told New York Magazine that at least half the drug shipments coming from Mexico stop and offload in Texas, where it is repackaged for sale elsewhere.

That means the money that comes with the drug trade also flows through Texas, driving consumption and investment in the state and possibly contributing substantially to the state’s economy.

““If you have a few million,” Schumacher said in the article, “would you invest in a war zone or a bank in San Antonio?”

Editor's Note: It is also vital to note that the "opportunity" noted in Item 8 above is having devastating consequences for many of the communities involved, due to the usual licentious behavior of the energy companies involved and the horrifically bad effect that fracking has on the living environment of the area being fracked. Anybody who is blind enough to challenge this assertion should take it up with the mayor of Dish, Texas, whose town has been virtually destroyed by the effects of fracking. He has become an active anti-fracking spokesperson nationwide.

The bulk of this post was posted in the blog "Texas on the Potomac" @ and was too important/good not to repost here.

Thanks for reading,