The authors of the study, which examined the regulatory filings of the 100 companies with the best-paid chief executives, said that their findings suggested that current United States policy was rewarding tax avoidance rather than innovation.
“We have no evidence that C.E.O.’s are fashioning, with their executive leadership, more effective and efficient enterprises,” the study concluded. “On the other hand, ample evidence suggests that C.E.O.’s and their corporations are expending considerably more energy on avoiding taxes than perhaps ever before — at a time when the federal government desperately needs more revenue to maintain basic services for the American people.”
The study comes at a time when business leaders have been lobbying for a cut in corporate taxes …
“We pay our taxes and we have added 5,000 more U.S. manufacturing jobs that were incentivized by tax benefits,” he said.
Today, the Cult of EMP Crazy infiltrated the New York Times website via Greenwire, a “blog on energy and development.”
Written by Peter Behr, it has all the features common in an electromagnetic pulse crazy plant — sources almost exclusively from the cult lobby.
DD blog has dealt with most of the matters and individuals previously.
Today’s post agains swims under the common cover of protecting the grid from a solar flare, a point the Cult has cynically used to get itself into the news many many times.
Customarily, the Cult is only interested in using electromagnetic pulse doom stories as rationalizations for increased missile defense. The “unquiet angry sun” bits furnish them an extra argument used to publicize the standard agenda on a repeated basis.
The electric power industry is challenging an analysis of the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat that was an instrumental part of the 2004 report by the congressional EMP Commission. The commission focused on surges affecting the power grid from a high-altitude nuclear detonation. The same analysis, by prominent researcher John Kappenman and the California-based firm Metatech, also underpins warnings of widespread grid damage from geomagnetic currents triggered by a massive, once-in-a-century solar flare.
The electric power industry, not having been born yesterday, knows exactly where this is coming from — a small lobby with no real political power.
The researcher mentioned is not prominent but, rather, someone from a very small business which has been attached to the EMP lobby for a good long time.
Regular pieces on DD blog have made it impossible to avoid the many valid criticisms of the Cult of EMP Crazy.
The Greenwire blog mentions them, elliptically, giving the lobbyists their opportunities to respond with the usual lame dodges:
There may also be political and ideological differences over the EMP response.
The impetus for action began with concerns by some leading conservatives over the threat of EMP from a terrorist-launched missile. The EMP campaign has stirred opposition from some liberals who see a conservative interest in reviving a Reagan-era missile defense debate, some EMP action advocates say.
“Within the administration and among some of my Democratic friends, there is a willingness to close their eyes to anything that is nuclear generated,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-N.M.), a leading member of the congressional EMP caucus. He said the nuclear scenario is “broader and more dangerous if it occurs” than the solar storm. “I am concerned that terrorists the world over are beginning to dial in to the grid’s vulnerability.”
The “congressional EMP caucus” has always been a small pest group, traditionally led by Roscoe Bartlett, now by Republican Trent Franks. Its members produce no legislation in any other areas of endeavor and it is “bipartisan” only in the sense that its GOP principals usually find one or two trivial Democrats willing to be their pets for cosmetic purposes.
Trent Franks is the very picture of a GOP extremist. He’s a birther and was also the politician who accepted Frank Gaffney’s “Team B” sharia-law-impurifying-the-American-justice-system report, something regarded as a bona fide piece of trash by all reasonable people.
The electromagnetic pulse lobby is defined by the company it keeps with many bad ideas. Traditionally, journalists — perhaps like Greenwire’s — don’t like to deal with the sprawling and odious crackpot nature of all of it.
However, there have been some exceptions. Notably, last week Frank Gaffney, and by association the EMP lobby, were made appropriate fools of on the Alyona show at RT.
Paradoxically, the Alyona Show was mentioning Gaffney in connection with a big Cult of EMP Crazy confab at the Heritage Foundation, one memeant to lobby for a National EMP Awareness Day. (We’ve dogged that previously, here.)
At the EMP Awreness Day “summit” cult members spoke about what they usually like to talk about — Iran attacking the US, terrorists attacking the US with a nuclear missile, or terrorists attacking a United States city with an electromagnetic pulse suitcase of doom.
The electromagnetic pulse suitcase story is a common one with the Cult. (There’s a picture here.)
Sometimes the electromagnetic pulse suitcase is souped up into a larger mobile device, said to be easy to get or in the hands of terrorists. The threat scenarios are always peddled by the small number of specialty businesses within the electromagnetic pulse doom lobby.
Pry, for today’s example, is another source in the Times story.
Anyway, as with lobbyists, the Cult of EMP Crazy is no exception, it is considered important to seed various claims into government reports, or — even better — to actually be able to author such reports.
This is where the Times’ Greenwire blog is dishonest.
The story intimates that the electric power industry (NERC) and the Energy Department were formerly “on the same page” concerning the electromagnetic pulse threat.
FERC, NERC and the Energy Department appeared to be on the same page. NERC and DOE were sponsors of a workshop on the EMP threat in November 2009. The workshop’s report (pdf), “High-Impact, Low-Frequency Event Risk to the North American Bulk Power System,” was issued in June 2010 by NERC and DOE.
It concluded, “Recent analysis by Metatech and Storm Analysis Consultants suggests … that the potential extremes of the geomagnetic threat environment may be much greater than previously anticipated.” The workshop’s EMP task force was chaired by Kappenman, a principal with Storm Analysis Consultants, and Metatech President William Radasky, and they were instrumental in writing that section of the 2010 report, industry officials say.
Common sense would seem to dictate that leaders of corporations ought not to be empowered by the US government to provide threat assessments which stand to directly enrich their interests.
But that’s how the US conducts business. From top to bottom, people read of agencies subverted by the businesses they are supposed to regulate.
And sometimes people then come to the conclusion that the US government is only a tool for the accelerated transfer of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of such mentioned businesses.
Which is a pity …
The latest example … comes to you courtesy of the Department of Energy and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (or NERC).
Reads the New York Times, courtesy of Matthew Wald:
A report just issued by the Energy Department and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, known as Nerc, an industry group that polices the power grid, lists three categories of threats to the grid: coordinated cyber- and physical attacks, pandemic disease and electromagnetic damage.
What Wald does not mention, or perhaps has failed to notice, is the “report” has essentially been written by the small interests which make up the Cult of EMP Crazy, with government workers as their staff.
Three of the report’s authors are part of the bomb Iran/ballistic missile defense lobby. (Follow the link.)
These include John Kappenman — billed as being part of something called Storm Analysis for the report, William Radasky of Metatech and Michael Frankel of Roscoe Bartlett’s old EMP Commission.
For the past couple of years this group has been given short shrift. Under the wing of Roscoe Bartlett, members of the EMP Commission went before Congress repeatedly, only to be appropriately brushed off.
Compared to the businesses in the North American electrical power industry, these authors — members of the EMP lobby — are in very small and insignificant business operations. Metatech, for example, was able to slip into the NERC report a graphic on notional mobile electromagnetic pulse devices attacking the United States. (The report is here — see page 92.)
At one point, the Times’ Greenwire blog addresses the conflict of interest point raised here last year.
Kappenman said he agreed that the EMP threat should be thoroughly studied but that the complaint that his and Metatech’s analysis is not verifiable is off-base. “Essentially what NERC has decided to do is not allow commercial firms like mine to be a provider of this sort of simulation software. … The fact that I and others would like to be compensated for providing the code isn’t reason to think it is invalid.”
Kappenman said he also hears concerns that his studies are influenced by the opportunities to sell hardware solutions to protect the grid: “We should talk about that elephant in the room, I guess.” He said he has been involved in researching protection against EMP threats since the early 1990s, at EPRI’s request.
“I have never attempted to patent that technology. … It has been in public domain for 20 years. I have no control over it,” he said. While he is involved in commercial solutions to the EMP threat, if utilities begin to buy the safeguards, bigger firms will step into the picture “and will no doubt do a better job than I ever could in competing for the marketplace,” he added.
“We should talk about that elephant in the room, I guess,” concedes Kappenman. Who them proceeds not to actually talk about it, instead changing the subject by saying bigger companies might be able to compete better than his.
If DD were a betting man, he’d wager the electric power industry simply doesn’t want to have to put up with these small businesses. And it considers the electromagnetic pulse lobby a nuisance, one that — in the past — has been fond of hauling it before meetings chaired by Roscoe Bartlett. These are always meetings virtually no one attends but lobby members.
And so it made a tactical error when it originally allowed the EMP lobby to author a report, one then given weight by publication on its website.
Now it legitimately wishes to correct the matter.
NERC can do this by generating a new report, one separated from the EMP lobby and its small businesses. And it has valid arguments for doing so.
The power industry knows the score behind the scenes.
The electromagnetic pulse lobby has no real political power. And it owns an issue that not even half of the Republicans in the House really care about.
Brushing the kooks off once again is eminently doable.
Only a soulless bureaucratic punk would authorize or advocate shutting down a kid’s sidewalk lemonade stand. And a normal, thinking, reasoning human being would be incapable of such a callous, power-abusing act of indecency. But in America today, the abject, heartbreaking reality is that such subhumans not only exist – they now infest our government like an evil pod of nonthinking death-row criminals …
Maybe the first thing Mr. Obama should do as proof that he is serious about reducing goony government regulations on business owners is to get his teleprompter gang to set up a statement for him to read that indicates he supports kids who sell lemonade.
Then he should visit Texas, witness how Gov. Rick Perry does it, stop at the first neighborhood lemonade stand he sees and give the young entrepreneur a buck or two to stimulate the economy. Just sayin’.
“Subhumans infest the government like … non-thinking death row criminals” and we know this because they’re attacking children’s lemonade stands.
In this context, “I’m voting for the psychopath” T-shirts aren’t the least exaggerated.
Late last year and again last week DD called the Republican Party a serious threat to national security. All because of its transformation into a cult of psychopaths who deny science.
Anyone who deviates from the orthodoxy of these psychopaths gets thrown down.
Presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, because he refuses to be be or act like a psychopath, is the best living example. He’s been punished for being a rational person and, subsequently, is virtually non-existent as a contender.
Today, Krugman uses the word “terrify” twice in reference to the GOP and its denial of science.
Jon Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr. Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.
Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as “just a theory,” one that has “got some gaps in it” — an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got peoples’ attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”
That’s a remarkable statement — or maybe the right adjective is “vile.”
In his book “Fed Up,” he dismissed climate science as a “contrived phony mess that is falling apart.”
I could point out that Mr. Perry is buying into a truly crazy conspiracy theory, which asserts that thousands of scientists all around the world are on the take, with not one willing to break the code of silence.
Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.
Because of a combination of things — a weak President who either does not understand the nature of his foes or is constitutionally unable to aggressively confront them in a time of great national peril — a psychopath could get elected in 2012.
Many Americans find strongmen appealing. In a time of peril they yearn for someone who looks good, talks big and who will say whatever lies are necessary to encourage their fantasies. And they will want to lash out. The biggest target will be the man in office.
Today we have GOP Presidential hopefuls — [the psychopaths] — who proudly squawk their disbelief, even antipathy, towards science.
They don’t believe in global warming. They don’t believe in evolution. They don’t believe in science that studies pollution or the trouble with having dirty air and water because they believe regulating water and air so they’re safe are impediments to amassing great wealth.
So they call for the EPA’s destruction.
They don’t even believe in the technology of modern lightbulbs!
You cannot shame or ridicule them on the subject. They’re impervious to facts and reasoned argument …
The serious security threats from this country are not exterior. They’re all internal. The GOP has made itself over into one of them.
You can’t have a modern nation run by such people.
Today, Nicholas Kristof turns his end of summer vacation in his old hometown into a column bemoaning unemployment — in less than one thousand words.
I detest Kristof. He’s a poster boy for my Culture of Lickspittle tab, someone appearing so hand-wringing and sincere in print butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.
And he’s here in the “Good Boy” tune at 21 seconds, gesturing at some edition of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. That’s where all the beautiful and brilliant people get invited to brainstorm on the world’s problems.
And they’ve done so well.
Twenty one seconds in, basking in the applause from the swells at Davos.
Anyway, here’s Kristof today, as usual, squandering the high-button real estate at the New York Times with the obvious.
Really, anyone could write this. A computer program, probably one of about twenty lines, might suffice. It’s that phoned in.
Kristof gently bemoans the media’s focus on the deficit, not the number one problem, joblessness, and that he’s been guilty, too. Specifically, he squandered a golden opportunity on Twitter.
I’m an offender, too: I asked President Obama a question at the Twitter town hall, and it was a gotcha query about his negotiations with Republicans. I’m sorry that I missed the chance to push him on the issue that Americans care most about …
Sorry I was a twit, sez Kristof. How many retweets did it earn him?
Kristof walks or drives around his town in Oregon, interviews a couple unemployed in the street, work that could’ve taken all of one morning.
Finally, Kristof bravely asks: “Mr. Obama, with 25 million Americans hurting, will you fight — really fight! — to put jobs at the top of the national agenda?”
Like a lawyer, he never asks questions he doesn’t already have the answer to. And this one is obviously “No.”
“I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter,” reads the usual italicized print.
A tweeted wisdom of Kristof, name-dropping another swell person:
Jaron Lanier just said to me: “Tweeting is like sex. Writing a book is like raising a child.”
On cyberterrorism and cyberwar, since he was just at a conference on them:
Cyber attacks could damage the grid, banking system, air traffic, dams, etc., and already are stealing many corp secrets.
My takeaway from a conference on cyber-terrorism: the “next 9/11” could be a cyber attack that shuts the electrical grid.
The cries of mockingbird young have filled the courtyard of my apartment complex. I hear them all day.
It’s a distinctive high cheep — relatively loud — signaling the parent that it’s time to fill the crop.
Pasadena is filled with mockingbirds. Every breeding season you can hear the young all over town.
Mockingbirds don’t put their nests particularly high. Think anywhere from seven to sixteen off the ground. It makes them easy to spot, particularly if the parents view anything threatening in the vicinity. It also makes them easy prey for cats and prone to disruption by the activities of people.
Still, mockingbirds persevere and do well in Pasadena’s urban environment.
When the parents spy a menace they let out a series of angry clicks. These increase in intensity and frequency the closer the ‘menace’ gets to the nest. If this is you, you’ll often feel one of the parents diving at the top of your head, pulling up at the last instant. You might even get a soft peck.
You can often see mockingbirds taking on much larger birds during breeding season. If there’s a crow in the vicinity of a nest the mockingbirds will be after it. This behavior led to an amusing scene in one of the Karate Kid movie sequels.
In The Next Karate Kid, Hilary Swank cares for an injured hawk. The hawk is eventually released. In this scene, footage is shown of the hawk being continuously badgered in flight by a mockingbird. It’s a bit amusing and must have been famously annoying to the cameramen and producer.
I know all this because the enclosed yard of a Pasadena residence I once lived in was a regular place for mockingbirds and their nests.
As a consequence, I also learned how to raise the small ones.
One summer a mockingbird family had put its nest a little too low in a tree next to a neighbor’s driveway. The young hatched and the neighbors subsequently threw a rowdy evening party right next to it.
The next morning the young birds were found to have been frightened out of the nest and into the yard, where they were discovered by our cat. Surprisingly, he was not interested in eating them.
We had been sitting outside in the afternoon listening to the agitated parents and the cat had focused on a point on the ground under some nearby bushes. We looked and there was a baby mockingbird.
Into a shoebox lined with a soft cloth it went.
The cat then took up point next to another scrub bush where a second chick was found.
It was a Sunday and the immediate problem was to figure out what to feed them and how to do it. And we had to work fast. The birds were in shock.
We reasoned that mockingbirds, being bug eaters, would probably take to a little soft liquid protein. A little bit of mushy wet cat food resuspended in lukewarm water would do until I get to the pet store on Monday for baby bird food.
However, the chicks were shocked, turned inward upon themselves and would not open their beaks to accept syringe-delivery of the food.
At this point it was necessary to get the little mouths open without harming the chicks.
I reasoned a very small sliver, made from a piece of a slightly stiff glossy magazine cover, carefully buffed a little so the edges were not sharp, just slick, might work as a miniature “pry bar.”
And it did. I could just get a little bit of it wedged between the upper and lower bills of the baby bird. When I did that, the mouth opened.
Quickly, in with the warm food. However, when doing this it’s important to slowly fill the young bird’s crop. Nothing must cause the bird to choke.
It worked! With one force feeding and filled crops the baby mockers came back to life. At that point, simply showing up with the syringe made them open up and cheep just like we were their parents.
Then came the really hard part. Feeding them every twenty minutes from sunrise to sunset for eight to ten days or until they could fly.
Because that’s what it took.
The little mockers required constant attention. After a feeding they would go relatively quiet. But as soon as the crop began to empty, the cheaping would begin.
We put the mockingbird chicks in my bedroom, in a laundry basket with a bit of branch from the tree they’d fallen out of for cover. During the first days they stayed in it. But as they grew, and they did so very quickly (you don’t get this unless you’re right on top of them constantly), they would leave it to hop about the room.
The room, of course, was tightly sealed to keep the cat who’d found them out. He was very interested in their cries and spent his days in the hall outside the door, trying to peer under the crack, hoping for a near glimpse of them reflected on the wood floor.
Poor cat. The cries and cheaps of the young birds tantalized him. Could we not see that he just wanted to be among them? Sure …
I continued to sleep in the bedroom with the birds. After sunset mockingbirds go dormant. They were always that way when I came in to lie down. And being there at sunrise made it easy to get on with the feeding as soon as they “reactivated” at the first rays of morning light.
The baby birds, being fed so often, generated a lot of crap. But it is innocuous stuff — the waste left from baby bird food of floury consistency — and one did not mind it at all. It did stain some pieces of luggage permanently, leaving marks of their rearing which can still be seen. It’s a nice memory.
At some point, late in the game, shortly before the birds can start to flutter about but well after they’re all over the rearing place, one has to wean them.
In the yard this meant the parents begin feeding them live insects and other small arthropods.
In the house this meant meal worms.
The young mockingbirds did not know what meal worms were. However, I started this the same way as with the baby bird food. I came in with the syringe. When the birds assembled and opened up, I dropped in a meal worm.
Soon I just had to toss the meal worms in front of the chicks. That was all it took. They began exhibiting the behavior of the adults, which is to extend the wings and pulse them as they hunt for live bugs on the ground.
In case you’re wondering by now, yes — we named the chicks. Tuffy, who was the leader of the duo, or at least always making sure he was closest at first sight of an impending feed. And Fweep — an anthropomorphism of the cheeping call.
Mockingbirds are not particularly pleasant birds. They had their needs and you had to fill them. Beyond that, not much. They are not cuddly and while there is a cuteness to them, as with all young animals, they are not dear.
After about ten days of constant care the regimens of feeding were slackened. And the babies, which now were beginning to look like small adult mockingbirds — think, stumpy versions — began to flutter around the room. Our cat was now really beside himself. Such noises! Birds!
Another day passed and the birds were now always found on the top shelf on a bookcase. From there they’d fly across the room to another piece of high furniture. Back and forth they went.
It was time for them to meet the world. While I could still corral them.
Into the shoebox went Tuffy and Fweep.
Out onto the back porch and onto the garden table. The shoebox was
The birds were still. In a moment they looked up. You could almost imagine a switch closing behind the eyes. Out of the box and into the air they shot! They had their freedom, all parts in working order.
Once in the open mockingbirds are fairly difficult to distinguish from each other. Even the little ones.
Did Tuffy and Fweep stay around for a few days? Did they recognize me anymore?
There was no way to know. Nature had taken its course.
And that’s what I think of whenever I hear the calls of young mockingbird in Pasadena every summer.
If you cut out the swearing and the tirades, the show would last at least half the duration of last night’s two-hour workout …
We were sort of hoping for something to write home about, if only to shock you sitting in front of your monitor.
So we’ve spent a year in the company of the Nuge and we doubt we will be there for the next show here in town. By the time he got to the big immigration/White House cocksucker speech we wished we were home watching El Topo …
We love Uncle Ted because he at least creates a striking image in a sea of normalcy. Like counter-programming to everything else we see weekly, he reminds us that not all is well in the heart of the average American, beyond politics, and hasn’t been for some time. Before Obama, Bush Jr., Clinton, or even Reagan. Even after a Perry term, things will never be completely “right.”
On the audience:
Random Notebook Dump: When you shoved your hand down the back of your wife’s pants and then winked … in our direction, we knew you were a special person.
Ted’s mentally ill rage bits eventually scuff the shine off the ball of the chrome trailer hitch for even the most hardened.
To sow distrust and confusion among jihadists, the United States also uses a technique of “webspoofing” called “false band replacement,” where U.S. intelligence officers infiltrate networks to post their own materials.
The agencies have forged an al-Qaida “web watermark” that in effect “makes messages posted on these sites official,” Schmitt and Shanker wrote.
We invade jihadi websites! Really! Don’t laugh. They’re serious!