Saturday, February 18, 2012

Is Our Congress Corrupt? 2

David Stockman

Bill Moyers

The conclusion that I so extensively expressed in the first part of this post may shock the majority of Americans. However it is my contention, my belief, that the majority of our citizens do not monitor the actions of their federal Senators and Representatives closely, and are therefore largely ignorant of the practices of those who serve in Congress. An ignorance unscrupulous members of Congress take full advantage of.
Why should most Americans monitor their own members of Congress, let alone Congress as a whole except in extraordinary circumstances that affect them directly. Americans are busy! They have lots of things to do. They have jobs... maybe. If they don't have jobs then they're looking for them. They have children to raise and worry about. They have pressing financial concerns. They may be on the brink of losing their homes. Every month after month they have mortgage payments, car payments, groceries, gas expenditures, children's school supplies and clothing, electricity, insurance payments that need to be made. Medical costs. Grandma just moved in. Their sister and deadbeat brother-in-law want to. The people on television, radio, and the Internet machine forget that our country is trying to crawl it's way out of a recession and constantly, constantly want us to buy things... all the time! They never stop! Even my dear friends on the morning radio, Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann daily urge me to buy some gold. Gold! What the hell am I going to do with some gold after I get it, but they tell me I would be stupid not to get it. Every day they tell me this.
To be quite honest with you I don't think Stephanie has any gold at all unless her sponsors gave it to her.
It's very expensive, even a little bit of it.
The last thing in world I need to buy right now is some gold. I need new shoes more than I need to buy gold.
These situations may cause a lot of people some amount of anxiety and/or depression. I know it does for myself. To counter these emotions many self medicate with drugs and/or alcohol, some to excess. There is always the TV to help us forget about our pressing problems, at least for a little while. Even if people are of the lucky upper middle class, if that still exists, who don't suffer from any of the ills I've described above, who wouldn't want to watch "Dancing With the Stars," or "American Idol," or "The Wendy Williams Show," or soap operas, or a good zombie program like the "Walking Dead," rather than CSPAN? I certainly wouldn't. I never watch CSPAN. And then there is the mind numbing films that are offered to us week after week. Let's see what opened yesterday for instance: "Ghost Rider, Spirit of Vengeance." An uplifting, intellectually challenging film if I ever heard of one. A Japanese cartoon, or should I say "animated" film, "The Secret World of Arrietty," that has already made over $126 million overseas (I guess kids like this one), "This Means War," a comedy spy film, on and on. There is one documentary, "Undefeated," about a high school football team. But sports seem to be just another avenue used to avoid reality for a little while, except for those actually playing.
I understand...really. I've spent a good portion of my life actively trying to avoid reality at any cost.
But it's usually been to my detriment.
My point is that we are all constantly bombarded with commercials and ads that want to separate us from what little money we do have, and that we are constantly trying to be put to sleep, hypnotized, and manipulated by the media.
Most so-called news programs don't report the news anymore. They're entertainment shows pretending to report news in search of high ratings.
So with all of this going on how, or why should we know or care about what is going on in Washington D.C.?
Because what happens in Washington D.C. affects each and every one of us, our children, and their children.
Well, we tell ourselves, I voted for this guy so I trust him/her to do the right thing and look out for me.
But how do you know they are?
Fox News tells me they are.
Ahhhh, but Fox News is the propaganda network for the Republican party, and the Republican Party is only looking out for people and companies that have a lot of money.
That's not true... Fox News tells me so.
Ahhhh, but Fox News... and politicians lie.
But don't worry America. There's Joyce's Take, Bill Moyers, "The Daily Show," and "60 Minutes," around to shed some light on what's really happening to our federal government.
As I've stated before, the United States of America is not now a democracy, if it ever was.
Wikipedia tells us: "Democracy is the ideal that all the citizens of a nation determine together the laws or actions of their state, requiring that all citizens have an equal opportunity to express their consent and their will. In practice, "democracy" is the extent to which a given system approximates this ideal, and a given political system is referred to as "a democracy" if it allows a certain approximation to ideal democracy," and who ever wrote this misspelled the word "practice," which I've graciously corrected.
Our country is not even a republic, which Republicans like to claim all of the time because that is the name of their party.
Again, Wikipedia tells us: "A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people."
There are of course other sources for the definitions of these forms of government, but I hope we can all agree that Wikipedia has gotten this basically right.
Okay, here's the definition of what the country really is right now, and has been at various times in the past: "Corporatocracy is an imprecise pejorative term describing a situation in which corporate bodies interact with sovereign power in an unhealthy alignment between business and political power.
It describes an elite, sometimes termed the "1 percent", which maintains ties between business and government, sometimes by lobbying efforts or funding political advertising campaigns, or providing bailouts when corporations are seen as too big to fail, for the purpose of controlling government and dictating policy to serve its financial interests." Again, I've used Wikipedia as the source.
Don't believe me? Well I'm not the only one who thinks so. There are a lot of others.
David Stockman served as a Republican U.S. Representative from the state of Michigan (1977–1981) and as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (1981–1985), under President Reagan. He resigned that office amid some controversy as he was very critical of the Reagan administration's fiscal policies. He then became an investment banker on Wall Street. Of course.
Here he is interviewed on Bill Moyers new PBS program "Moyers and Company," in which he describes how the United States, or at least the banking sector on Wall Street, does not do business in a capitalist manner that Republicans typically defend so stridently, but rather works and thrives under what Stockman calls, "Crony Capitalism," a system in which giant financial interests can't lose, no matter what they do. This is a long segment, but well worth watching.
It is nothing but chilling as Moyers asks Stockman if there is anything we can do to change this situation before we reach another, greater financial crisis.
"No," was his reply.
Again, as I've postulated before on numerous occasions, and in which Mr. Stockman seems to agree, our greatest problem is private money in politics through what is essentially legal bribery through campaign contributions, and intense and constant lobbying by professional lobbyists.
And now the Supreme Court, although not concerned with its own reelection, seems to be ruled by sharp ideology, and in that case the majorities idealogy rules the day. My proof, Citizens United ( ), in which corporations, unions, and foreign entities can practically infuse as much cash into our election process as they wish to, thereby exacerbating the fundamental problem our nation faces.
Mr. Stockman, myself, and probably millions of other Americans agree, the only way we can change the current, corrupt system infesting all three branches of our government, is to get corporate money out of it. And since Citizens United is currently the law of the land, a Constitutional Amendment reversing Citizens is what is needed to be initiated and installed.
This post is approaching 1500 words, and it is getting late, so I have to stop now before the monsters come out.
Next we will finally examine the blatant corruption within the legislative branch, the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States of America.

To be continued.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Is Our Congress Corrupt?

Yes... it is.

Is the entire country corrupt? Yup.

To be continued.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Discovery of Tetranitratoxycarbon

Clara Lazen

Kenneth Boehr

Clara and her molecule


Actually, it doesn't exist yet in a physical form because it does not exist in nature, at least not in a stable form on this planet, just like the 20 heaviest chemical elements, such as Einsteinium and Copernicium. But it has been discovered. It's three dimensional structure and composition that is.
For those of us who haven't taken a chemistry class for a while, myself included (I've never taken a chemistry class... I wouldn't have minded if no math was involved, but no one asked me), let's review what a chemical element is.
Wikipedia tells us: "A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus. Familiar examples of elements include carbon, oxygen, aluminum, iron, copper, gold, mercury, and lead."
I do remember from science class that elements cannot be broken down into a simpler substance. The atoms that compose the elements can be reduced in particle accelerators and cosmic ray collisions, but that's a whole other matter that we needn't go into at this particular juncture.
Maybe later.
Hydrogen and helium are the most abundant elements in the universe, as they are the lightest and simplest of all the elements. They are the two main ingredients of our Sun, which fuels our solar system by converting hydrogen into helium through the process of nuclear fusion (every second, 600 million tons of hydrogen atoms are converted into helium atoms, which creates energy which makes the Sun shine). Without this fusion we wouldn't be here. We also wouldn't be here if our star did not also have traces of the heavier elements such as iron and carbon, which our bodies need to function, let alone the oxygen and nitrogen that we breath. These elements were formed in the explosions of other stars long ago called supernovas, and were swept up into gravitational clusters that later formed stars, such as our Sun.
As Dr. Carl Sagan was fond of saying, "We are made of Star Stuff," which is literally true.
I think that's cool. It is a real, physical, quantifiable connection to the cosmos which I find majestically appealing.
And the atoms and molecules that make up our present bodies will one day return to the stars when in about 5 to 6 billion years the Earth is swallowed by our expanding red giant Sun as it runs out of fuel (the Sun will eventually turn into a white dwarf star, and shrink to around the size of the Earth. Perhaps in the distant future this white dwarf will itself be swallowed by another stellar agent and the whole process will begin again, and our atoms will resurface in other exotic, perhaps intelligent beings. All bets are off if we are swallowed by a black hole).
Tetranitratoxycarbon, pronounced tetranitratoxycarbon, which was discovered late last year in Kansas City, Missouri, where my dear late grandmother once lived, is of course a molecule. Our bodies are mostly made up of molecules... a lot of them. More than I'd like to count.
What's a molecule? Glad you asked!
Wikipedia tells us: "A molecule is an electrically neutral group of two or more atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds."
Well, that's clear enough I think. Basically what molecules are are combinations of atoms that form substances with different chemical properties. Water for instance, is made up of molecules, which themselves are made of one atom of oxygen linked chemically (electrically) with two atoms of hydrogen. That's why we sometimes call water H2O. Water has way different properties than either oxygen or hydrogen by themselves.
I'm glad there's lots of water around. We think life itself began in the oceans which are made up largely of water.
And water's good to drink. As a matter of fact I think I'll have some right now. Please excuse me a moment...
...uuuummm that was good. Take a second and have some yourselves dear readers. You'll be glad you did.
Tetranitratoxycarbon is a whole new molecule that has never been seen before. It wasn't discovered in some big secret government facility buried under a mountain somewhere, oh no. It was discovered by Clara Lazen, a ten year old, fifth grader in her science class at Border Star Montessori Elementary School in Kansas City, on the Missouri side of the Missouri River, not the Kansas side.
You see one day her teacher, Kenneth Boehr, assigned Clara's class the task of making three dimensional molecular structures using different colored little spheres that represented various atoms, which could be stuck together with bendable tubes, which represented the covalent bonds between the atoms.
Now as some have suggested, she could have stuck two spheres of hydrogen to one of oxygen, which would have made a three dimensional representation of a water molecule, and her class assignment would have been satisfied. But not our Clara, oh no!
She fooled around with nitrogen atoms as well, and after she got finished, she came up with a stable molecule representation and showed it to her teacher, who had never seen one quite like it.
“I just saw that these go together more,” Clara told the Fox News local affiliate in Kansas City. “Like they fit more together. And they look better. And all the holes have to be filled in for it to be stable.”
Now Mr. Boehr admitted that he was not an expert on molecules. But he knew a computational chemist, Robert Zoellner, at Humboldt State University, here in California. Professor Zoellner received a picture of Clara's molecule via iphone, and could not immediately place it, so he ran it through a molecule data base that he happened to have, being a computational chemist and all, and discovered a very similar chemical structure, that of nitroglycerin. Perhaps you've heard of it.
So little Clara had discovered a new molecular structure resembling the explosive used in dynamite, nitroglycerin. Zoellner named the molecule, wrote of the discovery to be published in the journal of Computational and Theoretical Chemistry (which I happen to subscribe to), with Clara and Boehr listed as co-authors.
Here's a link to the local Fox station's story:
Further studies of tetranitratoxycarbon will be carried out. It appears that the molecule can store energy. It also appears that it may be able to expel energy, like it's cousin nitro. So little Clara may have discovered a brand new form of explosive, which may or may not one day be responsible for the world's demise. We shall see.
The possibility that tetranitratoxycarbon could be utilized by the military seems to appeal to Clara.
“Me and Mr. Boehr were talking about if we sold it we’d split they money,” Clara told Fox News. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, I can sell this to the military for money.’”
The immediate result of this exciting discovery is that it has turned an innocent ten year old into a raging warmonger.
But we don't even know yet whether tetranitratoxycarbon can be synthesized in a lab, and if it can what it's actual properties will be. It could turn out to be completely inert and harmless. It may be the secret for curing cancer, as nitroglycerin is used in medicine as a vasodilator.
Heck, it could turn out to be the mythical precursor to Ice-nine for all we know, mentioned by Kurt Vonnegut in his novel, "Cat's Cradle," and in bad Al Pacino movies, and instead of blowing up the Earth it will kill us all by turning all our water, and us, into cold, slushy ice.
We shall see.
Still, the wonderful and heartening idea behind this story is the discovery itself, and by such a young and brilliant young lady who I hope will continue to advance in a career in science, and who may make many more new and exciting discoveries.
Lord knows, with the conservatives constantly wagging war on science (creationism, and the anti-global warmers, etc. The right only likes science when they use their iphones, cars, TVs, and microwaves), our nation will continue to need bright minds like Clara's to lead us into a new generation of those who love the truth.
Wherever it may take us.