Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sarah Palin: Misinformer of the Year



At least Sarah Palin is consistent...she wins the biggest lie of the year for 2009 and now is awarded with the Misinformation Award for 2010. Only in America would we promote and support someone who lies, misinforms and fabricates stories for personal gain.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse of 2010

There were times in my life when I was very in tuned with astrology and all that manifests as the planets move through the signs. I am not familiar with this astrologer, but I like his interpretation of what is going on as we move toward 2012. What do you think?


Monday, December 13, 2010

"The Invitation" by Oriah

This is one of my favorite poems and the companion book that illuminates the meaning behind the poem is a cherished treasure...


It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.


It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.


It doesn’t interest me
what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.


I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.


I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.


It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.


I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”


It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.


It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.


I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.


By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,


from the book The Invitation


published by HarperONE, San Francisco,


1999 All rights reserved

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pundit Lalapaloooooooza

 Okay. It looks like the Bush Tax Cuts will be extended for two more years and will apply to all Americans, including the richest 2%. If you don't know who the richest 2% are and how much wealth they hold, please see a previous blog post here and here.

I'm mad. I was hoping that this campaign promise was going to be one that he kept. I'm looking for blue skies in this storm that is brewing in DC. Now every pundit in the world will have an opinion about what this means, how Obama came off, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I understand and I can live with this. For now. I am more concerned for those millions of people who were going to lose their unemployment benefits immediately. I am more concerned that the other 98% won't see their taxes increase on January 1, 2011.

I am going to bet on this President again. I think he is the only adult in the sandbox and I can understand why he is breaking his promise. As he said in his briefing today. He did not want to see the collateral damage to the hostage middle class, so he gave in to those who would hold us all hostage...the Republicans. It was more important to act now for the majority of the people and deal with the issue of the Bush Tax cuts over the next two years when they come up for an extension again.



A lot can happen in the next two years. I'm going to support the grown up.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

72 Super PACs Spent $83.7 Million On Midterm Elections

From the Washington Post...

The newly created independent political groups known as super PACs, which raised and spent millions of dollars on last month's elections, drew much of their funding from private-equity partners and others in the financial industry, according to new financial disclosure reports.

The 72 super PACs, all formed this year, together spent $83.7 million on the election. The figures provide the best indication yet of the impact of recent Supreme Court decisions that opened the door for wealthy individuals and corporations to give unlimited contributions.

The financial disclosure reports also underscore the extent to which the flow of corporate money will be tied to political goals. Private-equity partners and hedge fund managers, for example, have a substantial stake in several issues before Congress, primarily the taxes they pay on their earnings.

"Super PACs provide a means for the super wealthy to have even more influence and an even greater voice in the political process," said Meredith McGehee, a lobbyist for the Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for tighter regulation of money in politics.

To read the complete article, click here.

Neale D. Walsch discusses the emotion of fear



Just thought I would post this video on Fear....it kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

The GOP Who Stole Christmas

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tina Fey On Women And The Politics of Sarah Palin

From the Huffington Post,

When Tina Fey was honored by the Kennedy Center and awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the comedienne, known for her dead-on impersonation of Sarah Palin, took some pointed swipes at the former Alaska governor when receiving the award.

"Politics aside, the success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women -- except, of course, those who will end up paying for their own rape kit and stuff. But for everybody else, it's a win-win. Unless you're a gay woman who wants to marry your partner of 20 years. Whatever. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us. Unless you believe in evolution. You know -- actually, I take it back. The whole thing's a disaster. "


(read more here)


I think the floodgates are opening now. Palin has all but thrown her hat in the ring for a Presidential run in 2012 and people are feeling like they have nothing to lose by offering up their opinions about her qualifications and character. I just watched the tapes of her Hannity interview in conjunction with her new book release and she said more than once that she would offer herself up for public service if she thought her family and her country supported that. Public service?

Rape Kits today, dairygate tomorrow, graft, corruption, lies...it's time it all comes out. It's time that the real Sarah Palin is exposed.


Big thanks to Fly for the new poster shot. You can view more Sarah Palin political art here

Friday, November 19, 2010

Michael Moore: How Corporate America Is Pushing Us All Off A Cliff

Today I caught this article by Michael Moore. I like his style. I like his documentaries. He makes people uncomfortable, because he speaks the truth. And most of the time it is ugly. Interesting what he has uncovered this time. Please go to the original blogpost here to get all the links in the article as well as access to other Michael Moore blogposts.



November 19th, 2010 1:31 PM


When someone talks about pushing you off a cliff, it's just human nature to be curious about them. Who are these people, you wonder, and why would they want to do such a thing?

That's what I was thinking when corporate whistleblower Wendell Potter revealed that, when "Sicko" was being released in 2007, the health insurance industry's PR firm, APCO Worldwide, discussed their Plan B: "Pushing Michael Moore off a cliff."

But after looking into it, it turns out it's nothing personal! APCO wants to push everyone off a cliff.

APCO was hatched in 1984 as a subsidiary of the Washington, D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter -- best known for its years of representing the giant tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris.
APCO set up fake "grassroots" organizations around the country to do the bidding of Big Tobacco. All of a sudden, "normal, everyday, in-no-way-employed-by-Philip Morris Americans" were popping up everywhere. And it turned out they were outraged -- outraged! -- by exactly the things APCO's clients hated (such as, the government telling tobacco companies what to do). In particular, they were "furious" that regular people had the right to sue big corporations...you know, like Philip Morris.
 (For details, see the 2000 report "The CALA Files" (PDF) by my friends and colleagues Carl Deal and Joanne Doroshow.)

Right about now you may be wondering: how many Americans get pushed off a cliff by Big Tobacco every year? The answer is 443,000 Americans die every year due to smoking. That's a big cliff.

With this success under their belts, APCO created "The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition." TASSC, funded partly by Exxon, had a leading role in a planned campaign by the fossil fuel industry to create doubt about global warming. The problem for Big Oil speaking out against global warming, according to the campaign's own leaked documents, was that the public could see the "vested interest" that oil companies had in opposing environmental laws. APCO's job was to help conceal those oil company interests.

And boy, have they ever succeeded. Polls now show that, as the world gets hotter, Americans are getting less and less worried about it.

How big is this particular cliff? According to the World Health Organization, climate change contributes -- right now -- to the deaths of 150,000 people every year. By 2030 it may be double that. And after that...well, the sky is literally the limit! I don't think it's crazy to say APCO may rack up even bigger numbers here than they have with tobacco.

With this track record, you can see why, when the health insurance industry wanted to come after "Sicko," they went straight to APCO. The "worst case," as their leaked documents say, was that "Sicko evolves into a sustained populist movement." That simply could not be allowed to happen. Something obviously had to be done.

As Wendell Potter explains, APCO ran their standard playbook, setting up something called "Health Care America." Health Care America, according to Potter, "was received by mainstream reporters, including the New York Times, as a legitimate organization when it was nothing but a front group set up by APCO Worldwide. It was not anything approaching what it was reporting to be: a 'grassroots organization.' It was a sham group."

Health Care America showed up online in 2007 (the year "Sicko" was released) and disappeared quickly by early 2008. You can still find their website archived here. As you'll see, their "moderated forum" allowed normal, everyday, in-no-way-employed-by-the-insurance-industry Americans to speak out. For instance, here's something Nicole felt very strongly about:

"Moore shouldn't be allowed to call his film a 'documentary.' It should be called a political commercial. We need to fix our health care system, but we shouldn’t accept a Hollywood moviemaker’s political views as the starting point."

Here's what Wendell Potter revealed about the insurance industry's media strategy:

"As we would do the media training, we would always have someone refer to him as 'Hollywood entertainer' or 'Hollywood moviemaker Michael Moore.' They don't want you to think that it was a documentary that had some truth."

Thanks for your perspective, "Nicole"!

Now, how big was THAT cliff? A pretty good size -- according to a recent study, 45,000 Americans die every year because they don't have health insurance.

And here we are in 2010. A lesser PR firm might be resting on its laurels at this point, content to sit back and watch hundreds of thousands of people continue to be pushed off the various cliffs they've built. But not APCO! Right now they've taken on their biggest challenge yet: leading a giant, multi-million dollar effort to help Wall Street "earn back the trust of the American people."

We may never know the size of this particular cliff. But we can be sure it's gigantic. According to the New York Times, one of the things Wall Street's recession gave us is "the crippling of the government program that provides life-sustaining antiretroviral drugs to Americans with H.I.V. or AIDS who cannot afford them." Internationally, organizations fighting AIDS and other diseases are "hugely afraid" of cutbacks in funding.

Of course, there are the 101 ways recessions kill quietly. For instance, children's hospitals are seeing a sharp 55% rise in the abuse of babies by parents.

And that's just the previous cliff. If APCO and its Wall Street co-conspirators lull us into turning our backs on them again, we can be sure the next cliff -- the next crash -- will be much bigger.

Anyway, this is all just a way for me to say to APCO: No hard feelings! My getting mad at you would be like a chicken who's still happily pecking away getting mad at McDonald's. Compared to the millions you've already turned into McNuggets, you've actually treated me much, much BETTER! Spying on my family, planting smears and lies about me, privately badgering movie critics to give the film a poor review, scaring Americans into believing they'd be committing a near-act of treason were they to go to the theater and see my movie -- hey, ya done good, health insurance companies of America. And, most important, you stopped the nation from getting true universal health care. Good job!

There's only one problem -- I'm not one of those "liberals" you fund in Congress, the ones who fear your power.

I'm me. And that, sadly, is not good for you.

Yours in good health,

Michael Moore

P.S. It seems to me that APCO's discussion of pushing me off a cliff should legitimately be part of their Wikipedia page. And why not something about their role in Wall Street's new PR offensive? So I'm asking everyone interested to write something up that meets Wikipedia's guidelines and help bring the APCO Worldwide entry up to date. Post it somewhere online and send a tweet about it to @mmflint. I'll award a signed copy of "Sicko" by noon Sunday to the best entry...and then deputize you to post it on Wikipedia for real and make sure APCO's minions don't take it down. Just be sure afterward not to walk near any cliffs!

P.P.S. The late, great comedian Bill Hicks had some thoughts about marketing and the people who do it

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stop The Pebble Mine...Sign The Petition

I just received a letter from Robert Redford and big corporations are pushing to destroy a beautiful and fragile ecosystem in Alaska. Take a look at this video and then sign the petition. Please!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2012 Veteran's Day...Star Spangled Banner Sung In Chamorro

This Veteran's Day I would like to recognize the many men and women who have served in the military and who have risked their lives for our freedoms.

This rendition of the Star Spangled Banner is sung in the indigenous language of the Chamorro people from the island of Guam. Joe Cunningham, the singer, is a local musician.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Climate Change Denier Is Highest Ranking Republican on House Energy Committee



Joe Barton is the Texas senator who apologized to BP for their oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. To read more about who is lining his pockets and to learn more about the other three Republicans who are tripping over themselves to take over the leadership on the House Energy Committee,


A quick Google search turned up this site....CLIMATE DEBATE DAILY.  It looks like it might be a good place to start if you are interested in the climate change debate. I plan on taking a look myself.

And then as things often go for me, I mosied over to YouTube and well....Gee...look what I found...

First, I found this video which pretty much addresses what Mr. Barton was talking about on the previous video.



And then, out of the blue, this video presented itself. In just 10 minutes we can get right down to the nitty gritty of this issue.



In ten minutes it all becomes very clear. Can we afford not to act?

Oh, and we might just revisit why those Republican Change Deniers are so anxious to head up the Energy Committee. Do you think it might be the MONEY?

Please pass this on.

And leave a comment, please. Thanks for coming by.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ten Things We Can Do Now

Following is a letter I received from CREDO, an organization that I have recently started to follow. I like what they have to say here and even though I am a bit depressed over the recent election, I know that I will not turn my back on my President...so read on and do what you can.

Dear Dianne,


What a truly brutal election. One rare exception was the crushing of Texas Oil's Proposition 23 in California (see CREDO's campaign at stoptexasoil.org), which proves that even unlimited corporate cash can be beaten back — if it is disclosed and fought by grassroots mobilization.

At CREDO, we fight hard on the issues, but we don't take sides in partisan elections. As someone who cares about progressive issues, there is no doubt that Tuesday's results will make for even harder times for our country. It is crazy making to realize just how extreme and misinformed much of the new Congress will be.

There is little reason to expect any useful legislation from the Tea Party-dominated House or the dysfunctional Senate. Swing votes in the Senate have really troublesome names: Lieberman, Nelson, Manchin, and Pryor. In fact, this Congress will do damage to anything even remotely progressive.

So let's take a look at what happened and what we can do now. Bear with us as this is a bit longer than our usual missives. The media, unfortunately but not surprisingly, will be of no use in making sense of Tuesday's results, and even less so in helping chart a course for the future.

There is a lot of evidence that the state of the economy, and employment in particular, drive the results of elections — and this one was no exception. As the saying goes, "If you think the economy is working, ask someone who isn't." We have an economy stuck in a deep ditch, with corporate profits and bank bonuses soaring while long-term unemployment is at near Depression levels.

The Republicans shrunk the first "stimulus" package and filled it with tax breaks, even as corporate Democrats helped them along, blocking any effort to restructure mortgages in bankruptcies, freeze foreclosures or force banks to lend money. The election outcome was partially baked in early 2009, when the White House preemptively conceded on the scale and provisions of the stimulus package and chose to coddle the banks. To watch this unfold was simply maddening.

Making matters worse were other factors. Among the most damaging were the actions of the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, which seemed energized by the new President, and took the radical step of rehearing a campaign finance case — now known forever as Citizens United. In ruling 5-4 that corporations have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money for and against candidates, the Court transformed the electoral landscape in a way potentially more profound than its 5-4 ruling that seated George W. Bush as president. As many predicted, the Citizens United ruling unleashed the greatest wave of corporate spending in history, though it's a safe bet to say that their spending in 2012 will make this year's outlay look modest.

In an astonishing turn of events, the right wing was able to kill — essentially murder in public view — the organization that registered millions of poor and working class African-American and Hispanic voters in the last six years. I am speaking of ACORN, of course. By editing video completely out of context, and using the right-wing media machine to perfection, Andrew Breitbart was able to convince the mainstream media and eventually Congress, that ACORN was an election-stealing organization that had no qualms giving advice to pimps on how to increase revenues. Fulfilling Karl Rove's wildest dreams, Congress, including most Democrats, voted to block public funding for any of ACORN's laudable and effective housing or tax assistance programs, and ACORN died a quiet death. There would be no millions of new registrants.

Traditions are important in the Senate, but almost always to the detriment of progressive change. The health care reform effort was a victim of Senate conventions. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, who chairs the critical Senate Finance Committee solely due to his long tenure, stalled development of a health reform package for many months in order to "negotiate" with Republicans on his committee. They weren't interested in the least, and walked away from the discussions muttering bizarre comments about reforms "killing grandma" and setting up "death panels," because Sarah Palin says so. The behavior of Baucus would be laughable if it were not so utterly destructive.

No matter what one thought of FOX News in the 2008 election, Murdoch's monster went on a rampage over the past two years. Serving as both an instigator and an amplifier for the craziest and most offensive pundits, FOX News misled and misinformed the American people on every issue, and effectively became the public face of the Republican Party. Glenn Beck's show became so toxic and spewed so much venom that one of his devoted fans took it upon himself to plot the execution of key leaders of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, who had figured prominently in Beck's rants. Fortunately, the madman (the fan, not Beck) was stopped before he accomplished his mission.

We could go on, of course, on all the missed opportunities, the cave-ins, the sell outs, and the unpopular and misguided war in Afghanistan.

But the results are in. The House of Representatives is in the hands of the most corrupt Speaker-in-waiting ever, the Tea Party is ascendant, and the U.S. Senate, however dysfunctional it has been, is poised to be much worse.

For those of us who had hopes that the Obama Administration could seize the moment and enact popular progressive changes, this is a bitter pill. And like many, we grieve at the lost opportunities.

But now we need to brush off the dust, suck it up, and plunge back into substantive fights. Politics is not fair — indeed, U.S. elections are rigged in profound ways! But walking away is not an option at CREDO Action, and we hope you will join us in some of the actions below we think are strategic in the new political landscape:

1. Commit to Taking Down FOX News. So long as FOX News has any credibility within the Beltway, it will be a pipeline for malicious material that will poison our political culture. Join our friends at Color of Change: turnofffox.org/landing?credo.

2.Tell the Senate to pass the DISCLOSE Act during the lame duck session. We were able to defeat the Texas Oil Initiative, Prop 23 in California, in part because we knew who the enemy was — having disclosure of corporate contributions brings the enemy out in the open for us to take on and fight. The DISCLOSE Act passed the House and came within a single vote of passing the Senate. One vote. You can join this fight by taking action with Public Citizen at citizen.org/disclose-act-action.

3. Keep fighting to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This issue will get resolved during the lame duck session. Take action at act.credoaction.com/campaign/bushtaxcuts.

4. Sign up for the fight for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision by declaring that corporations do not have the legal rights of humans. This may take years, if not decades, but we should start now. Please join Free Speech for People: freespeechforpeople.org/.

5. Tell the FCC to use its existing authority to establish and defend net neutrality. Our friends at Free Press are leading this charge: act2.freepress.net/sign/put_up/.

6. Demand that the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service investigate the political organizations set up by Karl Rove to launder millions of dollars in secret cash to change the outcome of elections. Act now at act.credoaction.com/campaign/investigate_crossroads.

7. Defend the EPA from castration by pro-coal interests in Congress. The EPA accomplished almost nothing during the Clinton years because the Gingrich-led Congress used the budget process to prohibit the agency from doing its work. This battle has already started. The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign is a great way to join this fight: sierraclub.org/coal.

8. Convince the Obama administration to stop appealing progressive court rulings on matters like the Defense of Marriage Act, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and the state secrets defense against torture and wiretapping. Urge the Department of Justice to change its approach at act.credoaction.com/campaign/stop_appealing.

9. Urge Democratic senators to do away with lifetime tenure for committee chairs and open up all chair positions to majority vote elections. This will go a long way towards more progressive legislation. Take action with us at act.credoaction.com/campaign/end_seniority_system.

10. Demand that the Department of Justice enforce the provisions of the national voter registration law that require state governments to offer to register all voters at departments of public welfare and motor vehicles. Many state governments simply ignore these requirements and this is a cheaper and more inclusive way of registering voters than the campaigns of the now dead ACORN. Urge Attorney General Eric Holder to expand voter registration: credoaction.com/campaign/enforce_motor_voter.

I suspect you are angry and exhausted at this point. I know I am. But let us not forget that the values and ideals we fight for are greater than any one election. They still endure, and so must our fight. We have a lot of work to do.

Michael Kieschnick, CEO

CREDO Action from Working Assets

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Michelle Obama - It's More Than Politics

When we went to the polls two years ago, I knew it was one of the most important elections of our time. Yet, here we are again and the stakes are just as high. I know that our national debt is astronomical and that we can't leave our children holding the bag, but we need to get our economy healthy again, generate jobs and move this country forward so that we can become a strong, resilient nation again.

Michelle Obama speaks from the heart here. Personally, I can't listen to this without crying. What do you think?


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Election

I just came across this article at Huffington Post. It was written by Helen Caldicott, founding President of Physicians for Social Responsibility and founder of Womens Action for Nuclear Disarmament.


This is seen by many as a highly contentious mid-term US election, and not just for the people of the United States.

People in other countries like Australia watch apprehensively as the US political system is on the verge of unraveling and landing in the hands of people who have shown little in-depth understanding of the inordinate power and scientific sophistication of the present day world.

Indeed, will this election introduce a political climate conducive to a Sarah Palin presidency in 2 years?

From my perspective as a physician, deeply concerned about species extinction including that of homo sapiens over the next century, I can't imagine how we will survive should these political prognostications be fulfilled.

Three issues which have worried me for decades now haunt my thinking.

1. Global Warming. The profound manifestations of ongoing global warming include permafrost melting, which could release millions of tons of trapped methane and carbon dioxide and double the present estimates of unmitigated temperature elevations. To add fuel to the global warming fire, the Tea Party and Republicans are now hugely funded by foreign and national corporations fanning the flames of climate skeptics.

2. Nuclear Winter. It is almost beyond belief to imagine the fair finger of Sarah Palin accessing the nuclear button but as Commander in Chief, that would indeed be her position. Does she know or understand that the US and Russia still have thousands of hydrogen bombs on hair-trigger alert ready to be launched with a three minute decision time by the US or Russian President? Does she understand that the almost simultaneous release of the these bombs would initiate the end of most life on earth through massive radiation doses, extreme catastrophic fire storms, virtual disappearance of the ozone layer and a short ice age induced by nuclear winter?

3. Nuclear Power. A huge conspiracy of silence has been perpetrated by the global nuclear industry in its quest to build hundreds more nuclear reactors around the world as a solution to global warming. Aside from the fact that the generation of atomic electricity adds substantially to global warming, an alarming recent publication by the New York Academy of Sciences titled "Chernobyl, the Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment" documented that the accident in 1986 has so far killed over 985,000 people from cancer in all nations affected by the radioactive fallout. Whereas the International Atomic Energy Agency which represents the nuclear industry predicted only 4000 deaths from Chernobyl. Have the Tea Partiers and Republicans read this report? Are people aware that the Academy of Sciences only printed 700 copies in 2010 of this outstanding scientific publication for which they charge $150 and they are reluctant to print more? Why?

It is imperative in this day and age that politicians understand the outstanding ecological threats to the planet.

Republican Women Stay Away From Me

Thanks to the Immoral Minority for posting this video.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Will I Be Pretty??

Stumbled onto this video. It's Katie Makkai, a veteran poetry slammer. It needs to be circulated.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Republicans Block Oil Spill Commission Subpeona Powers

Following is a video from Chris Matthews' Hardball via Crooks and Liars....



The news cycle moves on. Just a few months ago we were all awash with daily news about the New Horizon Oil Spill and how it was destroying the Gulf of Mexico. Now the leaking rig has been permanently capped and oil is still being cleaned up, but the news has gone on to more current topics.

Why would Jim DeMint block these subpeonas from oil executives? This makes me boil. What do you think??

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spread Kindness + New Video!

It's so simple
And easy
And fun 
Spread Kindness.


(click to enlarge)

There's a wonderful little not-for-profit organization that focuses on doing kind things for others. They are looking for like-minded people to join the cause. Won't you visit their website, watch and share their video and get involved? You can organize events wherever you are and invite your friends to participate! Isn't that cool?

I think you will really like this video!


For more information about how Spread Kindness started, go to this newspaper article written for the San Ramon Patch, a small community newspaper in the greater San Francisco bay area.

Thanks for stopping by. And please leave a comment.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Two Contrasting Sets of Economic Values at Stake in Mid-Terms

Every once in awhile an author gathers up just the right information and puts it together in just the right way that I can understand things I never could before. Robert Creamer has done that tonight. As a progressive, liberal I can't understand how some of my conservative friends can not only agree with the economic policies that were in place during the Bush presidency, but continue to support those same policies that put this country in the ditch. So, I ask my conservative friends to read this article, think about what it says and feel free to comment. I really do want to hear what you have to say.  


There are those who believe that there's not a dime's worth of difference between Democrats and Republicans -- that everyone in Congress is beholden to the same economic interests -- that it really doesn't matter who is elected.

Those people are wrong.

Certainly there are conservative Democrats -- and Democrats that do the will of major corporate interests. But at their core, there is a fundamental difference between the economic philosophy and underlying values of the Republican and Democratic Parties. Which party's world view sets the course for American economic policy will have a profound effect on the lives and livelihoods of everyday Americans.

Perhaps the sharpest contrasts is that Republicans and the Right believe that economic growth is driven from the top down, while Democrats and Progressives believe that growth is driven from the bottom up.

Progressives do not believe that the engine of economic growth is supply. It is demand. Productive investment in innovation responds to the presence of demand, not the other way around. "Trickle-down" -- or "supply side" economics has never worked to stimulate long-term economic growth, and it never will. It only works to legitimate the insatiable appetite of the very rich.

For almost a decade, the American Right conducted a massive experiment in "trickledown" economics. The results are in. It was an abject failure. It resulted in a reduction of the real incomes of average Americans and it ultimately lead to the collapse of the economy, and cost eight million Americans their jobs.

In her fascinating recent book Third World America, Arriana Huffington documents many of the disastrous consequences of right-wing economic policy -- in particular, the destruction of the American middle class.

And just last week, a Census Bureau report showed the toll the Great Recession took on the one in seven Americans now in poverty -- the highest level in half a century.

Of course the central flaw in the Right Wing economic vision is that the concentration of more and more wealth in a tiny number of wealthy people ultimately undercuts the ability of everyday people to buy the products produced by the economy. As much as the rich wish it were not true, consumer demand is necessary for companies to make products and profits. That consumer demand requires that economic growth be shared widely in the society.

Republican economic policy -- cutting taxes for the wealthy and cutting the rules that make big corporations accountable -- just exacerbate the natural tendency of the rich and powerful to concentrate more wealth into the hands of a few. That, in turn, creates the inevitable conditions for economic stagnation and collapse. Throughout the entire period of Republican rule, all of the economic growth was siphoned off to the top two percent. Real wages stagnated, and continued growth in the Gross Domestic Product was fueled -- for a time -- by an expanding credit bubble that ultimately burst.

To put it another way, Republicans believe in a low wage economy, and Democrats believe in a high wage economy.

Fundamentally, economic growth is about the development of processes and technologies that increase productivity. But these do not occur when labor prices are cheap. They occur when wages are high.

A high-wage economy leads to major long-term economic dividends because:
  • It incentivizes companies to invest in higher-productivity technologies that increase overall productivity and provide real economic growth.  
  • It creates customers with spending power to drive economic growth. There is a natural tendency of market economies to use low-cost labor and increase profits. That's good for each company's bottom line, but it kills off the goose that lays the golden egg by reducing the buying power of its ultimate customers -- the people who work for all the companies in the economy combined.
Progressives believe in Government policies that encourage unionization and a living minimum wage that fuel economic growth over the long haul. These provide a brake on the natural tendency of market economies to concentrate income and wealth among the owners of corporations.

While low-wage economies may be good for specific companies, high-wage economies are good for everyone -- by incentivizing innovation that increases productivity and by turbocharging economic demand.

In Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, Kevin Phillips summarizes the case against "trickle-down economics."

He argues that the economic history of the 20th century demonstrates that economic growth happens from the bottom up, not the top down. He points out that:

From 1933 to the early 1970s, real disposable income increased by over 130 percent for average Americans. Gross domestic product grew virtually continuously. That growth occurred on the strength of a broader and broader distribution of wealth and income -- more consumers who could buy products. This was the same time when hundreds of new protections for average Americans were passed by our Congress -- Social Security, Medicare, the Wagner Act that allowed serious labor organizing, and the minimum wage. 1968 marked the century's peak of purchasing power for the federal minimum wage.

  •  During the same period, the percentage of wealth concentrated in the top one percent of the population shrunk from a high in 1929 -- the year of the stock market crash -- to a low in 1976. 
  • Since then, the percentage of wealth concentrated in the top one percent has once again skyrocketed to 1929 levels -- all as part of the "supply side" philosophy that claimed that the increased wealth of a few would "trickle down" to everyone else.
  • But even before the 2008 market crash, the median income of the typical American family was almost the same as it was in 1969.
The myth that tax cuts for the rich somehow benefit the economy as a whole, as well as average workers, has also proven to be completely false. Phillips points out that during the greatest war of the 20th century, it was wealthy Americans who were called upon to pay more for the war effort -- not given tax breaks as they were during the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq.

During World War II, the tax bite on wealthy Americans was close to punitive (the highest bracket was 91percent). But that didn't hurt the economy; far from it. By war's end, Americans were rolling in cash. The average weekly pay rose 83 percent between 1940 and 1945. Many families had their first discretionary income.

In contrast, the Bush tax cut/regulation cut regime of the last decade ultimately yielded zero growth in private sector jobs -- ZERO -- and a decrease in real income for everyday Americans.

The current battle over whether to continue these tax cuts for the rich -- on family incomes above $250,000, at a cost of $700 billion over ten years -- is the best illustration of the Republican's failed top-down economic philosophy.

Democrats want to extend the tax cuts for 96.6 percent of Americans for individuals who make less than $200,000 and couples that make less than $250,000.

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, the Democratic version of the tax cut would provide a $3,810 per-person tax savings for individuals making between $100,000 and $199,999. It would provide a $1,180 savings for people making from $50,000 to $74,999.

But Democrats refuse to support tax cuts for the wealthiest 3.4 percent of the population on income above $200,000 per individual and $250,000 per household. Why? Remember these people would still get the same savings as a person making $200,000. But they wouldn't get an additional $128,832 average tax break that the Republicans want to hand them.

To get a sense of the difference in top-down and bottom-up economics all you need to do is contemplate the fact that while the Bush tax cuts saved people earning $10,000 or less only $335 total from 2004 to 2010, they saved people making $7,700,000 (the average for the top .1 percent of the population) $2,326,607. Now that's top-down economics.

The difference between top-down and bottom-up economics is also highlighted in positions concerning wages.

Progressives categorically reject the right's claim that wages should be set solely by "private" markets and that anything else is "artificial" or "unnatural."

Human beings are not "commodities" to be bought and sold. They're the purpose of the economy, not objects to be chewed up and spit out when they're no longer needed. There is a huge population of unemployed workers in the developing world. In rural China alone there are 600 million people that are not necessary to produce food and must be integrated into the non-agricultural economy. If we allow the right wing to make supply and demand the sole basis for wage rates and payment for labor, we will see a continued race to the bottom, lower and lower wages and salaries, and in the short term, higher and higher corporate profits.

Collective bargaining, labor laws, a Federally-mandated living wage and trade policies that recognize the rights of labor and not just capital are necessary to assure that growth is widely shared and that individual workers are treated as human beings not commodities.

Finally, Progressives believe that there is no excuse for poverty. The only solution that Republican economic policy offers to eliminate poverty is "education" that allows the next generation to do better than the one before it.

But so long as there are people who make beds in hotel rooms, and sweep floors, and empty bed pans, and pick fruit there will be "low wage" jobs filled by someone -- unless there are no longer any "low wage" jobs, period.

We will eliminate poverty when we assure that every job is paid a living wage and our nation enacts an economic policy that assures that every American can find a job.

The economic policies of the Obama Administration are based upon Progressive principles. In several cases the size and effectiveness of these policies has been constrained by Republican opposition. This is particularly true of the economic recovery act that should have been substantially larger in order to deal adequately with the depth of the recession caused by Republican policies. But in virtually every area, Obama's policies are moving American in a Progressive direction.

The most profound question that will be decided in the Mid-terms is whether we continue to pursue a Progressive economic vision -- or we return to the failed right-wing policies of the past. Everyday Americans cannot afford to stay home November 2nd; their economic futures are riding on the outcome.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Republican Gridlock Bomb

Posted on Bob Cesca's Awesome Blog today...


Digby posted a letter from the Institute for America's Future, signed by 300 leading economists, urging the federal government to continue spending until we're out of the woods. The meat:

Today there is a grave danger that the still-fragile economic recovery will be undercut by austerity economics. A turn by major governments away from the promotion of growth and jobs and to premature focus on deficit reduction could slow growth and increase unemployment – and could push us back into recession.

History suggests that a tenuous recovery is no time to practice austerity. In the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal generated growth and reduced the unemployment rate from 25 percent in 1932 to less than 10 percent in 1937. However, the deficit hawks of that era persuaded President Roosevelt to reverse course prematurely and move toward budget balance. The result was a severe recession that caused the economy to contract sharply and sent the unemployment rate soaring. Only the much larger wartime spending of the early 1940s produced a full recovery.

There they go again. Using history and facts to prove a point. How quaint.

If the Republicans manage to take the House, spending will stop. Immediately. All of it. And, naturally, that's been the idea all along -- to sabotage the economy and therefore the Obama presidency. For now, without a majority, they're not entirely effective. But November could ignite a psychobomb that blows the whole recovery to smithereens.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rachel Maddow Covers The Values Voter Summit

Christine O'Donnell was there fresh from her primary win. Newt, Mike and Mitt were there, too. And then there were those other really interesting folks...




President Obama Speaks in Connecticut, Warns Of Corporate Takeover Of Democracy

President Obama was in Connecticut September 16, 2010 speaking about how corporations and special interests are funneling campaign money to candidates under benign names like Prosperity for America...etc.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tax Cuts And The Wealthiest 2 % In The USA

The debate continues about whether the Bush Tax Cuts should be renewed or allowed to expire.  President Obama proposes that those Americans with taxable incomes of $250,000 or less be given the tax break by renewing the existing tax cuts. The Bush tax cuts would be allowed to expire for those wealthier and wealthiest Americans with taxable income over $250,000. Republicans and some Democrats want the tax cuts renewed for all Americans.

I posted a couple of links on Facebook recently along with my own opinion stating that I thought the wealthiest Americans should pay more taxes. This is one of the responses I received...

@DiAnne - redistributing wealth has not worked in the past and it will not work in the future. Again, the top 10% of income earners, the so called "wealthy" already pay 80% of all taxes received by the federal government. Why can't you let them have their 4% cut???? Why are you so hell bent on having the so called rich shoulder YOUR tax burden??? Why are you not balking at the fact that about 40% (I think it's actually a whopping 46%) of income earners in this country are paying NO TAXES!!! Why do you not get that free enterprise works? Why do you want bigger government? Why do you think the government can solve problems better than private industry? Why, for a change, do you NOT quote left-leaning sites?"

1. Redistributing wealth has worked in the past. See table below.
2. The so called "wealthy" have millions of dollars in off-shore accounts that they pay no taxes on. What is the income level of the top 10% versus the bottom 90%?
3. I pay my taxes. I don't want the rich to pay my taxes. I want those who are less fortunate than me to get a break. Latest statistics indicate that one in five children are living in poverty.
4. Yes. Nearly 46% of Americans pay no income taxes. Many of them are eligible for Earned Income Credits and other tax exemptions or they just don't make enough to begin with. See the information on growing poverty below.
5.Yes. Free enterpise does work...for a few. This is a democratic society here in America, not a capitalistic society. But you wouldn't know it by today's economic and social reality. Trickle down economy doesn't trickle down.
6. I want a government that is big enough and strong enough to regulate business, finance and banking so that this disparity is lessened between the "haves" and the "have nots."
7. If I could find a right-leaning site that had anything to offer in the way of real ideas that would help the majority of Americans, I'd quote it. I will not watch Fox News to get a "fair and balanced " viewpoint.

As Bill Maher said in an interview on Larry King Live the other night..."We live in two different realities. The Conservatives have one reality and the Liberals have another. It does no good to try to talk to the other side. Nothing will get through. You can't reason with unreasonable people." (not an actual quote, but paraphrasing)

In my liberal opinion, I think America is in trouble if we do not find a way to redistribute the wealth in this country. I know it doesn't sound fair...that those who have made the most should pay more taxes...but historically this has been done in the past and the vast majority of Americans thrived. Remember the 50s and 60s?


This graph shows what the tax structure was in the 1950s, 60s...when the wealthiest were taxed up to 90%.

The Poverty Rate Increases
And here is the latest news...
"The poverty rate rose to 14.3 percent during 2009 from 13.2 percent the previous year as household income stayed flat and the number of people without health insurance reached its highest level since such data has been collected, the government announced Thursday."

It's Sad
All of this news is disheartening to me. I worry about the rising numbers of homeless people...children who are going hungry, those who are losing everything because they have lost jobs. I see these people. I know these people. My heart hurts for these people.

I don't know any multi-millionaires...except through news articles. I did write an article here in my blog on the Koch Brothers...those influential money bags who are part of the political puppet show...the ones who pull the strings behind the scenes and flood their interests with money. Here is some of my research on the top 2 % wealthiest people in America...

 Here is an article published today (Sept. 9, 2010) by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. I don't believe it is a left-leaning organization.  

Top 1 Percent of Americans Reaped Two-Thirds of Income Gains in Last Economic Expansion



Income Concentration in 2007 Was at Highest Level Since 1928, New Analysis Shows
By Avi Feller and Chad Stone
September 9, 2009

Two-thirds of the nation’s total income gains from 2002 to 2007 flowed to the top 1 percent of U.S. households, and that top 1 percent held a larger share of income in 2007 than at any time since 1928, according to an analysis of newly released IRS data by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez.[1]

During those years, the Piketty-Saez data also show, the inflation-adjusted income of the top 1 percent of households grew more than ten times faster than the income of the bottom 90 percent of households.

The last economic expansion began in November 2001 and ended in December 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, which means the Piketty-Saez data essentially cover that expansion. The last time such a large share of the income gain during an expansion went to the top 1 percent of households — and such a small share went to the bottom 90 percent of households — was in the 1920s

To read the entire article and view graphs, go here.

Wealth, Income and Taxes is another excellent article I found while "googling" the top 2% of income earners in the USA. It appears in the blog, Who Rules America and was written by UC Santa Cruz Sociology Professor G. William Domhoff in 2005. He recently updated it in August 2010.

Domhoff writes:
"In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%. "

"In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 38.3% of all privately held stock, 60.6% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. The top 10% have 80% to 90% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America."



Figure 4: Share of wealth held by the Bottom 99%
and Top 1% in the United States, 1922-2007.

"Here are some dramatic facts that sum up how the wealth distribution became even more concentrated between 1983 and 2004, in good part due to the tax cuts for the wealthy and the defeat of labor unions: Of all the new financial wealth created by the American economy in that 21-year-period, fully 42% of it went to the top 1%. A whopping 94% went to the top 20%, which of course means that the bottom 80% received only 6% of all the new financial wealth generated in the United States during the '80s, '90s, and early 2000s (Wolff, 2007)."
To read the entire article and other related articles, go here.

Does anyone question the fact that the numbers are much worse three years later?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Religious Freedom, Constitutional Rights, A Muslim Mosque And The Radical Right



President Obama spoke to Muslims Friday night in honor of Ramadan. I am never so proud to be an American than when he speaks. It is at times like these that I am so glad that he taught Constitutional Law and can speak to the essence of America's foundation.


Following is a video provided by http://www.goptrust.com/ that offers their viewpoint on the proposed building of a Muslim Community Center and Mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. It is a fine example of text-book propaganda using scare tactics and emotional hooks.




Written a couple of weeks ago, The Dangerous Nature of Sarah Palin's Lies, is one of the most comprehensive articles written on the subject of the Muslim Mosque. It outlines exactly how far away the Mosque would be from Ground Zero and shows the actual building and street where the proposed facility will be built. The Stand Up For Our Nation blog continues to shine a light on more aspects of this issue in subsequent posts.

And finally, here is a fresh perspective written by a local resident in the NY City neighborhood where the Mosque is to be built. ....Today I was alerted to  this down-to-earth article.

IMO, the Constitution demands that we allow all Americans the right to freedom of religion. A community center financed and built by Muslims a few blocks from Ground Zero is benign and will actually provide a space for the community to come together to play and learn from one another. Lighten up people...love one another.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Palin on the Ground Zero Mosque vs. the Founding Fathers


It started with a tweet...by Sarah Palin. And now her ignorance can't be so easily dismissed any more. Juan R. I. Cole weighs in with these comments in his blog Informed Comment...

But first, a little about the author of this article...

Juan R. I. Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His most recent book is Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, March, 2009) and he also recently authored Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). He has been a regular guest on PBS’s Lehrer News Hour, and has also appeared on ABC Nightly News, Nightline, the Today Show, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper 360, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, the Colbert Report, Democracy Now! and many others. He has given many radio and press interviews. He has written widely about Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and South Asia. He has commented extensively on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the Iraq War, the politics of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Iranian domestic struggles and foreign affairs. He has a regular column at Salon.com. He continues to study and write about contemporary Islamic movements, whether mainstream or radical, whether Sunni and Salafi or Shi`ite. Cole commands Arabic, Persian and Urdu and reads some Turkish, knows both Middle Eastern and South Asian Islam. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years, and continues to travel widely there.

This is the first time he has written about Sarah Palin....

Palin on the Ground Zero Mosque vs. the Founding Fathers

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Mama Grizzlies," A Different Perspective

Here is a different version of the "MAMA GRIZZLIES" video put out by Sarah PAC. Actually, I prefer it. Enjoy!



Saturday, June 19, 2010

You've Gotta Love Joe Biden!

Say it like it is, Joe! Our Vice President, with a little encouragement, offered his opinion about recent apologies by Rep. Joe Barton to BP that our government was "shaking them down."




I really like Joe Biden, knowing full well that he can put his foot in his mouth sometimes. What I like is the transparency...his heart is totally in the right place and he "gets" why he is in politics.

IOOS Portal Site Follows The Day-To-Day Of The Horizon Oil Spill



This a probably one of the best sites on the internet for watching the day-to-day progress of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, efforts to stop the leak, contain the oil and observe the pattern of oil as it travels in the Gulf of Mexico. It is the portal for the sharing of information from the partners who make up the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS).

You must register with the site to access some of the links, but once you do, you can access blogs, forecasts and the latest media releases.
.

But probably some of the most interesting data is being collected by gliding robots that patrol the Gulf spill, which will help predict where the oil will go next.


You can read more about these gliding robots in an article by Stephanie Pappas from the TechNews Daily which was published by MSNBC.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Requiem For The Gulf (video)



This is a beautifully created video that is heart-wrenchingly sad. We are not even two months into this disaster and the horrifying thought that this gushing oil continues to foul this pristine environment is unbearable to think of.

To view this video on YouTube, go here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"This Is A Nightmare, " says Phillippe Cousteau, Jr. As He And Sam Champion From ABC News Dive In The Oily Gulf Waters

Today on Good Morning America Sam Champion and Phillippe Cousteau, Jr. donned hazmat suits and diving gear to get a closeup view of the oil plumes that are forming in the Gulf of Mexico. This is what BP doesn't want us to see.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sean Penn Speaks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Haiti

Sean Penn has been in Haiti since the day after the earthquake that devastated the impoverished island and left its people homeless and hungry. He spoke today to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urging them to continue relief efforts as the rainy season is set to hit Haiti and bring with it more disease and death. Read his testimony here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This Can't Be Good

The Gulf oil spill is not in the news as much this week, but the oil still flows uncontrolled day after day. As I have posted in this blog, I am more concerned with the dispersant that is being used to break up the oil into droplets that will drop to the ocean floor. Nalco Company is the maker of the dispersant and here is a PDF that describes the product.


http://www.cleancaribbean.org/userfiles/Master%20EC9500A%20MSDS.pdf

I find it very interesting to see that Nalco claims that the effect on the environment is low. As you look through the information note this:

No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product.

and

Component substances have a potential to bioaccumulate.



That can't be good.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Posted today on Bob Cesca's Awesome Blog...

If you're wondering why television news coverage of the oil spill is dwindling, you can thank the chemical dispersants that are pushing the oil to the bottom of the Gulf. No oil-covered birds on the shore means nothing to show on television. But...


In some cases, these dispersants could be more harmful, ecologically speaking, then letting the oil wash ashore. We don't know what's in these chemicals and there's a very high potential that they could do a lot of damage to the food chain in the Gulf. Indeed, that's why Exxon was constrained from using dispersants in Prince William Sound back in 1989.


This is a tragedy that's going to unfold over years, not months. But we won't know the extent of the damage because we're already beginning to move on and pay attention to things like Elena Kagan's softball skills. That is until people, and especially children, begin to drop dead from mysterious illnesses.

 
No matter how you slice this thing, it's awful, awful, awful. And to a significant extent, the American penchant for myopia and ignorance will be almost as guilty as BP, Transocean and Halliburton.

 
Digby:


We are a nation of cover-up artists. And most people are good with that because the scope of the disasters we are confronting are overwhelming.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Babies Are Born Already Polluted

"You say they're where? Toxic chemicals - some known to cause cancer -- are in our bodies, our newborns as well. In fact, researchers have found some 300 contaminants -- industrial chemicals, consumer product ingredients, pesticides and pollutants from burning fossil fuels -- in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies, rendering our babies 'pre-polluted' according to the esteemed scientists and medical experts of the President's Cancer Panel," writes Wendy Gordon on Huffington Post. For the complete article go here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dispersants And The Gulf Oil Spill

National Geographic News has an excellent article on the use of chemical dispersants used by BP oil after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010 and the subsequent massive oil spill that is moving toward shore in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf Oil Spill Turns To Chemicals
By Ker Than
April 30, 2010



Breaking oil into droplets
Oil dispersants have been available to combat spills since the mid-1980s. They are detergent-like chemicals that break up oil slicks on the surface of the water into smaller droplets, which can then be broken down by bacteria in the water and by other natural processes. Dispersants also help prevent the oil droplets from coalescing to form other slicks.

According to the U.S. National Research Council, oil spill dispersants do not actually reduce the total amount of oil entering the environment. Rather, they change the chemical and physical properties of the oil, making it more likely to mix into the water column than to contaminate the shoreline.

The NRC report says that evaluating the environmental trade-offs associated with dispersant use is “one of the most difficult decisions that oil spill responders and natural resources managers face during a spill.” The reason is the increased oil exposure for fish, as well as for corals and creatures that live in the lowest level of the water, such as oysters, the report said.

"Dispersant only alters the destination of the toxic compounds in the oil," redirecting its impact from feathered and fur-bearing animals on shore to organisms in the water column itself and on the seafloor, Richard Charter, senior policy adviser for marine programs at the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife, said in an email.

"No good answers to a mess this big, only degrees of damage to various life-forms," Charter said.
I'll be updating this as I learn more.