Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Monday, February 29, 2016

EOM dump

Continuing on a tradition that is at least one or two months long, here is the EOM (End-of-Month) dump of images and thoughts that for whatever reason just did not make it onto the blog.

Click to enlarge if you must.


They all got buried in a blizzard of bucks.



Here's a very welcome chart showing the decline of "God's power" over the last 6000 years. Thank goodness we are here today where people no longer base their entire lives on God (excluding Islam).


Contrary to what most people think, the majority of "welfare" goes to corporations in the form of subsidies, price supports, tax breaks, you name it. It's not the poor old black lady you should be pissed at, but the guy in the 3-piece suit on Wall Street.


The EOM dump wouldn't be complete without at least one cat picture.


...and that means CLOSE YOUR BIBLE!

Think Donald J. Drumpf (Trump)


Neither.





but he doesn't care about starving children


Got a mirror?



The KKK is an American as apple pie, unfortunately.



You know, if everything on Earth was made by God, then science was made by God, and we should use every tool we have to improve the lives of other humans.


We must get off of the toxic fossil fuels. We have the means to go 100% renewable, but we just don't have the will. Still.







Sunday, February 28, 2016

Donald Drumpf

John Oliver had a pretty-wicked 21-minute rant against Donald Trump, er Donald J. Drumpf, in Oliver's most-recent Last Week Tonight.

It's pretty sweet.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Biscuits

I am in love with Kacey Musgraves, and I don't even like country music. She's got some ... ineffable appeal ...

Friday, February 26, 2016

toons

As Donald Trump is dominating the GOP and the national conversation, so should he dominate the toons; but as I said early on, Trump will not become President. He probably won't even get the GOP nomination.












Thursday, February 25, 2016

100% renewable energy

It's possible people. The idiotic frackers went totally nuts and pumped every bit of oil they could, flooding the market, crushing the price, and opening the door wider than ever to renewable energy sources.  Now that renewables have a strong foothold, I don't think we will go back to the horribly polluting technologies of fossil fuels.

Renewable Energy Is Possible, Practical, & Cheaper (Than Nuclear Or Fossil Fuels)

One of the world’s preeminent energy scientists (not climate scientists) — Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson — has led research teams that have analyzed electricity demand and potential supply from renewables in every US state and nearly every country in the world in 15-minute segments all throughout the entire year. They have found 100% renewables is indeed a practical possibility. Disagreeing with Jacobson and his team of researchers is akin to disagreeing with Hansen and his team on comprehensive and in-depth climate science research.

Energy researchers at the University of Delaware (UD) and Delaware Technical College (DTCC) have found that, “by 2030, renewable energy could power a large electrical grid a stunning 99.9%, and at close to today’s energy costs!”

WWF study has shown how to get Europe to 100% renewable energy by 2050 (this includes transport).

An analysis published in Energy Strategy Reviews by three researchers with PhDs in physics — Kees van der LeunYvonne Deng, and Kornelis Blok — has found that 95% of the world could be powered by renewable energy with no technological breakthroughs.

An in-depth NREL study has found that we could power 80% the US with already commercially available clean, renewable energy technology by 2050. Again, no technological breakthroughs needed.
More studies coming to similar findings can be found here.
Jumping over to cost, since that’s what it comes down to in a market-driven economy, let’s first recognize that nuclear subsidies have dwarfed renewable energy subsidieseven in Germany, where solar and wind now account for much of the country’s electricity. Nonetheless, nuclear power is approximately 2–3 times more expensive than wind energy and approximately twice as expensive as utility-scale solar.
On average, wind power sold for 2.5¢/kWh in the US in 2013, which would be 4¢/kWh if you removed subsidies (but why would you do that when nuclear has received several times more money in subsidies?).
Utility-scale solar now averages 5¢/kWh in the US, which doesn’t even hold the record for the cheapest solar power bid on the planet.
Nuclear is approximately 10–14¢/kWh… as long as you don’t count the hundreds of billions of dollars it costs to decommission nuclear power plants, among other things. Add everything up and nuclear may well cost 46¢/kWh, a good (er… bad) 9 times more than solar and 12–20 times more than wind.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

FFRF sues Abbott

Too bad the Texas Governor is a dick. A lot like the last one. He brought it on himself by acting like a child.

Here's the official FFRF press release, without any (other) editorial comment.


FFRF sues Texas governor over Bill of Rights display


The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit today against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over his removal of the group's Bill of Rights display from the Capitol.
Abbott downed FFRF's solstice display, intended to counter a Christian nativity scene in the Statehouse, only three days after the permitted display had been erected on Dec. 18.
The whimsical exhibit commemorated the "birth" of the Bill of Rights, depicting the Founding Fathers and the Statue of Liberty crowded adoringly around a manger scene containing the constitutional document.
FFRF obtained a permit last summer for the December display, and a Texas legislator sponsored it. Also approved was an explanatory Winter Solstice sign promoting state/church separation, which pointed out that the Bill of Rights was adopted on Dec. 15, 1791.
Abbott, who chairs the Texas State Preservation Board that approves Capitol displays, sent a letter Dec. 21 to co-defendant John Sneed, the board's executive director, advising him to remove the FFRF display. Abbott lambasted the exhibit as indecent and mocking, implied it would promote public immorality, had no educational purpose and compared it to "Piss Christ," a controversial 1987 photograph by Andres Serrano showing a plastic crucifix in a jar of urine.
FFRF's federal lawsuit, filed in the Western District of Texas, Austin division, charges that Abbott and the other defendants violated the free speech, equal protection and due process rights of the organization.
The defendants' action shows "unambiguous viewpoint discrimination" and was also motivated by "animus" toward FFRF and its nontheistic message, the state/church watchdog group contends. Such action violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause by favoring the "stand-alone Christian nativity scene" and disfavoring FFRF's "nontheistic content."
The organization's legal complaint details a "history of hostility directed against FFRF" by Abbott when he was the state attorney general. In December 2011, Abbott, on Fox News, told the group to keep out of Texas, stating: "Our message to the atheists is: Don't mess with Texas or our nativity scenes or the Ten Commandments."
In October 2012, Abbott again attacked FFRF during a press conference: "We will not allow atheist groups from outside of the state of Texas to come into the state to use menacing and misleading intimidation tactics to try to bully schools to bow down at the altar of secular beliefs."
As governor, Abbott has assailed FFRF for asking the Brewster County's Sheriff's Office to remove crosses from patrol vehicles, and has complained when Orange, Texas, took down a nativity scene from city hall at the organization's behest.
"Gov. Abbott has consistently advocated for displays of religion in the public sphere, while actively opposing any expression of nonreligious principles," FFRF notes.
The group is seeking a judgment that each defendant violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and clauses protecting free speech and equal protect rights and due process rights of the plaintiffs. It is asking for damages and reasonable costs and attorneys' fees.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit with more than 23,000 members, including approximately 1,000 individuals in Texas.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of FFRF by Richard L. Bolton, with FFRF Staff Attorneys Sam Grover and Patrick Elliott as co-counsel.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

wealth inequality

Some inequality in inevitable, but the wealth inequality in this country is literally "off the charts".  It's unsustainable. Many things could be done to bring it a bit more back in line, but the political will is simply not there, especially when politicians get most of their campaign cash and lobbying from the wealthy. Yes, our democracy is way out of whack. It needs a few good whacks.

Check out this short video.





Monday, February 22, 2016

Come ON, Obama!

We're running out of time!! Obama hasn't destroyed America yet! The GOP has been warning about Obama ever since he was elected President. Surely all those old, sclerotic, overly-religious white geezers cannot be all wrong!?


Will Obama destroy America before it’s too late?

by Mark Morford, SF Gate
America! Something is amiss. We are in the final throes of a desperate situation, and the numbers just aren’t adding up. What can be done?
The facts are almost too dreadful to discuss: No matter how you slice it, spin it, or openly lie about it like Ted Cruz on a ketamine bender, it’s become officially impossible to find any true and tangible evidence that President Obama – AKA Kenyan Comrade Nazi Socialist Obama – has utterly destroyed America, as promised.
Worse still, there is very little time left. The months are ticking away until Obama leaves office and becomes something altogether more terrifying: One of the most effective, lauded, sought-after ex-presidents in American history, next to Bill Clinton. Calamitous!
Ergo, the question is getting more urgent by the day: Can he still do it? Is there enough time for President Obama to undo all the undeniable improvements and socioeconomic progress that President Obama hath wrought? Let us pray.
The signs, regrettably, are not good. Unemployment just hit an eight-year low, down to 4.9 percent. Wages are (finally) ticking up, keeping better pace with all the new jobs, another 150,000 in January alone, officially joining Obama’s nauseating string of 71 straight months of consecutive job growth.
That’s downright shameful. Reports suggest the economy is so robust, many people are actually quitting their jobs, confident they will easily find another, thanks to the Obama-led economic recovery. Dude must be mortified.
It gets worse. It turns out the Affordable Care Act, which every Right-wing politician and pundit, bar none, swore on his mother’s dead Medicare would devastate the economy and cause what was already the worst, most expensive, least effective health care system in the modern world to implode completely, has instead added another 13 million to the roster of the newly insured, most of them younger people.
Uglier still? Minimal adverse effects. It’s doing pretty great, actually. Insurance companies have not collapsed. Rates, for most, have been dinged only mildly. Doctors are not jumping out of windows. And of course, millions now have insurance who would otherwise have been prevented from getting it before, and you can’t be turned down for pre-existing conditions, and… oh, hell, you know the rest. Blah blah blah, good news many improvements everybody’s mostly pretty happy.
Perhaps a bit of gratitude is in order? Because truly, it could have been a lotworse. What if those early liberal visions for true health care overhaul – single-payer, for example – hadn’t been so brutally beaten down by the Right? What if real reform had taken place? Or, for that matter, real environmental legislation? What if the GOP and the late Justice Scalia weren’t so helpfully, openly partisan and grossly obstructionist?
Disaster, that’s what. Pharmaceutical lobbyists would almost certainly be less obscenely powerful. Exxon’s donations to GOP SuperPACs would slump. Hospital executives would struggle to buy a third Range Rover. Ghastly!
So I ask again, with extra ominousness: Why aren’t we suffering more? Why aren’t the vast majority of Americans far worse off? I mean, is this it? When will this nightmare of imperfect growth, recovery and undeniably improved overall health finally end?
Look, it’s been nearly eight years. The mellow intellectual socialist black dude has had forever to make good on the GOP’s fanatical demand that he ruin the nation and impregnate their terrified white daughters. Shouldn’t the rich be much less rich? Shouldn’t the stock market have collapsed by now?
Why is America’s standing in the world so much better than a decade ago? Why are gay people so goddamn happy? Why are women becoming increasingly powerful and omnipresent? Why is the Republican party mocked and derided the world over? What happened to the ruinous supremacy of the Angry White Christian Male?
The answer, of course, is obvious: You’ve been duped.
Don’t you get it? Everything is actually far worse than it seems. There are no jobs. You are not healthy. Your stock portfolio has not exploded in the past decade. CNN Money is lying when it says “Obama is shaping up to be one of the best presidents for the stock market in modern history, even with the recent pullback in 2016.” It is not likely you reading this column right now on a beautiful, technologically marvelous digital device paid for, in sum, by the overall economic recovery. North is actually south. Progress is actually failure. Women and black people and Muslims and immigrants are actually destroying the country.
All part of a monstrous liberal hoax, you see, this “recovery,” this “robust economy,” this “historic resurgence,” exactly like climate science and organic bananas, electric cars and feminism. Don’t you see?
Here’s the real truth: We are, each of us, floating inside a strange, mystical eight-year Obamabubble made of thoughtful rejoinders, Zen-like calm and effortless three-pointers from the perimeter. It’s a bubble that’s about to pop any second to reveal that the Dow is really at 3,000, ISIS has taken over the Freedom Tower and we’ve all been speaking German and just didn’t realize it.
It’s the only way to explain it. How else to vindicate the curdled Republican Establishment, every member of which has been so egregiously, so laughably wrong, and so consistently, for eight years straight? How to excuse the fact that every one of them has been promising us the exact same thing: a face-melting Obamacalypse, any second now?
And yet… nothing. Just the opposite, in fact. The poor dears.
Surely, some underwhelming charts exist. If you tweak the metric a little, unemployment isn’t all that great – it’s only, uh, moderately great. And many of those new jobs cited by the DOL are low-wage and service sector. And employment participation rates aren’t quite as strong as they could be. So, you know, take that.
Also, military spending is actually up. And the truth is, Obama’s health care reform is pretty weak on the actual reform: Insurance companies are still making billions. Big Pharma has never been so powerful. Most hospitals are still for-profit. Wall Street could not be more happily coldblooded.
Wait, isn’t that good news? Obama’s policies have only made the rich richer, the military machine more bloated, the stock market explode, oil companies mostly quite happy? I’m getting confused.
But never mind that now. Because it appears Obama hasn’t given up just yet.
Behold, his administration’s final, $4.1 trillion budget. It’s packed to the brim with all sorts of nation-killing initiatives, soul-destroying taxes and hope-obliterating spending plans, a gruesome pile of mostly good ideas, a few fairly lousy ones and a handful of truly great ones that, should some of them actually make it through, would almost certainly leave the country much better off… all by destroying us completely.
Typical.
Good luck, Mr. President! We’re all pulling for you. You monster.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Krugman on...


It sometimes seem like the GOP is intent on destroying the government of the United States. They seem to be doing a pretty good job of self-destructing too. We have to hope they don't sabotage the whole enchilada.

Wind, Sun and Fire

by Paul Krugman
So what’s really at stake in this year’s election? Well, among other things, the fate of the planet.

Last year was the hottest on record, by a wide margin, which should — but won’t — put an end to climate deniers’ claims that global warming has stopped. The truth is that climate change just keeps getting scarier; it is, by far, the most important policy issue facing America and the world. Still, this election wouldn’t have much bearing on the issue if there were no prospect of effective action against the looming catastrophe.

But the situation on that front has changed drastically for the better in recent years, because we’re now achingly close to achieving a renewable-energy revolution. What’s more, getting that energy revolution wouldn’t require a political revolution. All it would take are fairly modest policy changes, some of which have already happened and others of which are already underway. But those changes won’t happen if the wrong people end up in power.

To see what I’m talking about, you need to know something about the current state of climate economics, which has changed far more in recent years than most people seem to realize.

Most people who think about the issue at all probably imagine that achieving a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would necessarily involve big economic sacrifices. This view is required orthodoxy on the right, where it forms a sort of second line of defense against action, just in case denial of climate science and witch hunts against climate scientists don’t do the trick. For example, in the last Republican debate Marco Rubio — the last, best hope of the G.O.P. establishment — insisted, as he has before, that a cap-and-trade program would be “devastating for our economy.”

To find anything equivalent on the left you have to go far out of the mainstream, to activists who insist that climate change can’t be fought without overthrowing capitalism. Still, my sense is that many Democrats believe that politics as usual isn’t up to the task, that we need a political earthquake to make real action possible. In particular, I keep hearing that the Obama administration’s environmental efforts have been so far short of what’s needed as to be barely worth mentioning.

But things are actually much more hopeful than that, thanks to remarkable technological progress in renewable energy.

The numbers are really stunning. According to a recent report by the investment firm Lazard, the cost of electricity generation using wind power fell 61 percent from 2009 to 2015, while the cost of solar power fell 82 percent. These numbers — which are in line with other estimates — show progress at rates we normally only expect to see for information technology. And they put the cost of renewable energy into a range where it’s competitive with fossil fuels.

Now, there are still some issues special to renewables, in particular problems of intermittency: consumers may want power when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. But this issue seems to be of diminishing significance, partly thanks to improving storage technology, partly thanks to the realization that “demand response” — paying consumers to cut energy use during peak periods — can greatly reduce the problem.

So what will it take to achieve a large-scale shift from fossil fuels to renewables, a shift to sun and wind instead of fire? Financial incentives, and they don’t have to be all that huge. Tax credits for renewables that were part of the Obama stimulus plan, and were extended under the recent budget deal, have already done a lot to accelerate the energy revolution. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which if implemented will create strong incentives to move away from coal, will do much more.

And none of this will require new legislation; we can have an energy revolution even if the crazies retain control of the House.

Now, skeptics may point out that even if all these good things happen, they won’t be enough on their own to save the planet. For one thing, we’re only talking about electricity generation, which is a big part of the climate change problem but not the whole thing. For another, we’re only talking about one country when the problem is global.

But I’d argue that the kind of progress now within reach could produce a tipping point, in the right direction. Once renewable energy becomes an obvious success and, yes, a powerful interest group, anti-environmentalism will start to lose its political grip. And an energy revolution in America would let us take the lead in global action.

Salvation from climate catastrophe is, in short, something we can realistically hope to see happen, with no political miracle necessary. But failure is also a very real possibility. Everything is hanging in the balance.



Saturday, February 20, 2016

Reason Rally 2016

Come on, come out, wherever you are and join your fellow atheists, agnostics, humanists and heathens!

Reason Rally 2016: A bloc party that counts


After a successful (but chilly and damp!) Reason Rally in 2012, the event will be heading back to Washington D.C., this year.
The latest polls show that the percentage of people who don't care about a candidate's religion is increasing and that "Nones" outnumber the U.S.'s largest religious denomination (Catholics) by several percentage votes. Nones are also a growing segment of the under-45 population — who are key voters! That growth is a great accomplishment for those who support separation of church and state, critical thinking and just plain good sense.
We'll all have the opportunity to celebrate that victory — and build our power as a voting bloc — by attending the nonpartisan Reason Rally 2016 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., on June 4. You'll hear great speakers and entertainers, and get the chance to lobby members of Congress.
"In this historic place, we proclaim our dream of a future where people are free to express rational and reasonable views without the fear of reprisal, retaliation or retribution!" proclaims the ReasonRally.org web site.
Speakers will include Richard Dawkins, Johnny Depp, Kelly Carlin, Paul Provenza, James Randi, Julia Sweeny, Cara Santa Maria, Lawrence Krauss and Eugenie Scott, and a host of activists, musicians and performers.
Major sponsors include the Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Center for Inquiry, Richard Dawkins Foundation, Secular Coalition of America and Stiefel Freethought Foundation. FFRF and other sponsors will be visible with booths on Saturday and have a brief opportunity at the mic.
The Reason Rally itself is a day-long event, but there will be a variety of other events over several days from Thursday, June 2 through Sunday, June 4. The coalition of groups putting on the Reason Rally has reserved room blocs at centrally located hotels.
Thursday and Friday will include Lobby Days, in conjunction with the Secular Coalition of America. Some pre-rally evening entertainment events are being planned, as well as a Sunday post-rally event.
It's a Voting Bloc Party for those who believe that public policy should be made based on scientific evidence, not religious beliefs. Join us, and bring your friends!
For more information, go to ReasonRally.org. Freethought Today will carry updates.

Friday, February 19, 2016

hemp plastics

Yes, we can now make plastics out of hemp. BIO-DEGRADEABLE plastics, something that we cannot do with petroleum.

We truly do not need oil any longer. The hemp plant can do ANYTHING that petroleum can do, except perhaps for all of the chemical by-products that can be made with petroleum. Many of these chemicals cannot be derived from the hemp plant. At least not yet!

The only thing lacking is guts.


Oxford English Dictionary DefinitionsOxford English Dictionary Definitions


hemp 
1) (in full Indian hemp) Asian herbaceous plant. 
2) its fibre used to make rope and stout fabrics. 

plastic
 - capable of being moulded; pliant, supple. The word plastic comes from the Greek "plastikos," meaning "moldable."

Conventional plastic is not biodegradable. This means that our landfills will grow and grow. Plastic materials are based on a finite resource that will not be available to future generations. Plastic has many uses, from packaging of food and industrial products, to insides of cars, casings of electronic items, film, storage bottles, containers and within a myriad of other industries

See Current Materials for details of existing materials

Bio-Based Plastics and Composites can be, and are used already to a great extent by industry, especially by the automotive, packaging and building industries. Estimates give a figure of about 500,000 tonnes a year and a two digit growth in the European Union.

Hemp Plastics can be five times stiffer and 2.5 times stronger than polypropylene, it will not cause wear and tear to the screw and the mould like glass fibres do, and unlike glass fibres, it does not pose safety and health risks. Its recoverable component comes from these natural plants and can occupy over half of its weight, up to 80 percent. All these features make it suitable for the production of durable products.

Hemp history is well documented. Hemp has been used for thousands of years for food, clothing, fuel and paper. Hemp is the non-drug form of cannabis. This industrial hemp is becoming known as the crop of the future. We are making it the crop of the present. In 1997 a company, a university, professors and other industry developed a 25% Hemp plastic product called 'high fly'. This product was developed using unique expertise and resourceful corporations. Today, various grades of hemp plastics are available.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

How the Universe Works

"How the Universe Works" was a science mini-series that ran 33 shows over four seasons on the Discovery Channel and Science Channel, starting in 2010. It's another good science series. A part of humanity will always yearn for exploration. Fortunately for us in the West, the church no longer can suppress scientific progress.

Islam, on the other hand, has in large part turned its back on science, and some of its adherents are trying to drag the modern world back a few centuries. It's not going to work, Mohammed.

 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

photonic propulsion

At 30% of the speed of light, we could be to Mars in 3 days!

At the same speed, it would take over 800 years to reach Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to Earth.

With photonic propulsion, it's a huge leap forward, but we'd still have a long ways to go before we could really reach the stars.


Do I have to say it? Jesus, Allah, Vishnu or any of the other 3,000 gods ain't gonna get us anywhere.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

atheism is natural

Everyone is born an atheist, until they start pounding religion into you as you grow up. All that pressure on parents to baptize their children, get them circumcised, take them to church, etc etc etc takes a toll. 

Religion does not automatically warp you for life, but it sure can if you let it.

I have little doubt that large areas of the ancient world were atheistic. Indeed, atheism is truly the natural state of affairs. Religion, on the other hand, is a fabricated, complicated, illogical and unnatural idea that takes effort and (un)learning.

Atheism is as natural as religion, study suggests


Atheism is as natural as religion, new research suggests, throwing doubt onto the notion humans are pre-programmed to believe in deities. 
A new study by the University of Cambridge has discovered that, contrary to popular belief, vast swathes of the ancient world did not believe in Gods.
Largely written out of the history books, many atheists in fact thrived in polytheistic societies - those that worshipped multiple deities - according to a new book. 
The claims, made in Battling the Gods by professor of Greek Culture, Tim Whitmarsh, throw doubt into the idea we are hardwired to believe in a higher power - referred to a 'religious universalism'.
Prof. Whitmarsh, a Fellow of St John's College, University of Cambridge, also counters the idea that atheism is a modern phenomenon.
He said: “These early atheists were making what seem to be universal objections about the paradoxical nature of religion – the fact that it asks you to accept things that aren’t intuitively there in your world. 
“The fact that this was happening thousands of years ago suggest that forms of disbelief can exist in all cultures, and probably always have.
“We tend to see atheism as an idea that has only recently emerged in secular Western societies.” 
He suggests that atheism was not just common in ancient Greek or Roman societies, but rather it flourished more back then than it does now.  
The "Age of Atheism" only he ended, he suggests, when the generally tolerant societies were replaced by imperial forces that demanded the acceptance of one true God. 
He added: “The idea of a priest telling you what to do was alien to the Greek world.”
Using around a thousand years’ worth of writings to prove his theory, some texts he cites date back to c.570 BC – pre Plato. 
But he concludes it neither proves nor disproves the truth of atheism itself. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Scalia dead!

I don't know about you, but when the wife and I heard the news of Antonin Scalia's passing on Saturday evening, we danced for joy, hugged, and laughed and laughed. Normally I would not cheer the passing of anyone, but Scalia ranks right up there with other really distasteful characters in history, so his passing should be cause for celebration.

I know the Republicans will block any attempt by Obama to fulfill his constitutional duty of nominating Scalia's replacement, but put the shoe on the other foot and Republicans would be demanding that a Republican President nominate a successor right away.


If history is any guide, Obama will nominate a centrist, but that person will be perceived by the GOP as far too liberal. They will probably turn up their noses at anyone to the left of Scalia, and that displays, once again, their utter disregard for their own duties and the Constitution itself. To them, it's all partisan, and it could only be "good" if it is perceived to be "good" for the GOP. Yes, the GOP are responsible for this crisis of democracy today because of their unwillingness to compromise and consider the greater good. But that is what we are stuck with today.

More than ever, we need a large wave of Democratic voters to sweep some of these obstructionists from office and replace them with Democrats.  And we can start with Bernie Sanders.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

state vs federal prisons

We all have heard that the United States of America jails more people per capita than any other country in the world. We also have the largest total population in jail, in this, the "land of the free."

We also know that the War on Drugs has a lot to do with these inflated incarceration rates, and yet, ending the War on Drugs has been easier said than done. We are still suffering from puritanical attitudes about drug use. 

Looking at the statistics, it appears that most of the jailing frenzy has been taking place in the states and not at the federal level. This tells us that the War on the War on Drugs either needs to be fought at the state level, or the federal government needs to pass some sweeping laws to override the excessive state laws. Given the state of our federal government, dominated as it is by Republicans, who generally have a harsh and unforgiving view of even victimless crime, don't look for anything from the feds for the foreseeable future.

But on the contrary, you will notice that during the 1990's, during President Bill Clinton's two terms, the incarceration numbers really skyrocketed. Would Hillary Clinton replicate what happened under her husband's presidency?  

This story was produced by the Prison Policy Initiative.

Tracking State Prison Growth in 50 States

Briefing by Peter Wagner
Over the last three decades of the 20th century, the United States engaged in an unprecedented prison-building boom that has given our nation the highest incarceration rate in the world. Among people with experience in criminal justice policy matters, the “hockey stick curve” of the national incarceration rate is well known; but until now more detailed data on the incarceration rates for individual states has been harder to come by. This briefing fills the gap with a series of more than 100 graphs showing prison growth (and sometimes decline) for every state in the nation to encourage states to confront how their criminal policy choices undermine our national welfare.

Ending the U.S. experiment with mass incarceration requires us to focus on state policy because individual states are the most active incarcerating bodies in the nation:

Figure 1: Graph showing the number of people (per 100,000 national population at that time) that is confined in state, local and federal correctional facilities from 1925 to the present. State prisons are the largest part. (See as raw numbers.)

Most (57%) people incarcerated in the United States have been convicted of violating state law and are imprisoned in a state prison. Another 30% are confined in local jails — which are outside the scope of this briefing — generally either for minor violations of state law or because they are waiting to be tried for charges of violating state law. Federal-level policy directly accounts for only the 10% of people behind bars in the U.S.; they have either been convicted of violating a federal law or are being detained by the immigration authorities and are awaiting potential deportation to anther country.

In the aggregate, these state-level policy choices have been the largest driver of our unprecedented national experiment with mass incarceration, but not every state has contributed equally or consistently to this phenomenon. In the U.S.,each state is responsible for making its own policy choices about which people to lock up and how for long. We can’t end our nation’s experiment with mass incarceration without grappling with the wide variety of state-level criminal justice policies, practices and trends.

Take, for example, the below comparison in Figure 2 of the incarceration rate for the United States (in yellow) with data from five individual states (in orange). We can see that Minnesota has long been less likely to incarcerate than other states, but also, like the country as a whole, markedly increased its use of imprisonment in the late 20th century. On the other extreme, Alabama and Louisiana have consistently maintained above-average rates of incarceration, and their use of the prison continues to grow.

Figure 2: Focusing on only the national trend obscures the large and varied differences in both the pace and direction of state changes over time.

But another, contrary, trend is visible in figure 2: the recent rapid decline of imprisonment in the populous states of New York (starting in 1999) and California (beginning in 2006 and accelerating in 2009). The number of people incarcerated in those two states is so large that prison population changes within those states are, in large part, responsible for the recent drop in the national incarceration rate. So, while the United States incarceration rate has dropped for four years in a row, over that same time period 15 states have made policy choices that increased their individual incarceration rates.

Original is here with many more state-by-state graphs.