Democrat senators open long forgotten file cabinet, finding testicles and job description

This is, without a doubt, the most intense piece of tax reform we have seen in a long time; in that if it passes the rich will have to pay a minimum of 30 percent of their adjusted gross income; still a slightly lower percent of income than the average american, but about twice the percent they pay now.
Of course, this will pass in the senate and fail in the republican controlled house.  The senators clearly know this, and I would bet they also know that it will fail in the house just in time to run a billion campaign ads about how the Republicans are the lapdogs of the right.  An entirely valid criticism as well as one that is rather popular with the 87 percent of americans who disapprove of congress at the moment.  So, either the republicans do what their sacred formula dictates and block the tax reform, giving dems an assload (science term)  of political ammunition; or we get some real, legitimate tax reform and debt/budget relief.  Its a win win, and I wonder if the only reason it took so long for them to do it is because they were saving it for now.  Clearly they watched this past season of Boardwalk Empire.

Link:
http://m.denverpost.com/denverpost/db_108615/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=SZUZDazj

On Education Funding

When discussing the relative flaws of education funding in the state of Colorado, it is important to bear in mind a relative comparison to other states, as this will essentially invalidate all the current arguments against increasing education funding.  In the most recent statistics I can find, compiled using census data and state budget data, among the 50 states Colorado ranks 38th in terms of total education funding.  However, to get a more accurate account of the relationship between taxation and education funding in this state, when you determine a ranking based off of education funding expressed in terms of the actual income of the state, Colorado descends to 44th.  In short, there are 43 states that give a higher percentage of their income to their education system.  As Colorado state judge Sheila Rappaport noted in her verdict against the State in the much publicized recent court case,

“… the court does find that public education is very significantly underfunded and that any legislative response of necessity must address the level of funding necessary to meet the mandate of the Education Clause and the standards- based system and should provide funding consistent with that standard.”  -Denver Post

Having worked in schools across the state I can say inarguably that there is a both a lack of funding and a profound unfairness in the allocation of what funding is available. With our current system of school funding the school districts with high property values and high consumer spending receive substantially more funding than those that are in lower property value areas, such as rural schools or low income area schools. However, even the school districts that receive the most money have recently been forced to endure harsh budget cuts. Jefferson County, the district I attended, is considering cuts such as the elimination of elementary school instrumental music programs, the elimination of middle school librarians, and the elimination of half of the elementary school librarians, who will be left to do double duty splitting their time between two schools.
I do not understand how the rational individual can oppose increases to education spending on the grounds that we can’t afford it. it seems to me that there are two things that we should always be adequately funding, no matter what the cost to other programs, emergency services and education. Similarly, there is no way that you can look at our rankings in education spending and come to the conclusion that we are giving our schools the resources they need to compete nationally. With the tabor bill, the only ways to increase school funding are through either a vote by the public or the reallocation of current funds. So here I propose one tax, one slight regulatory change, and one funds reallocation. First, amend the current medicinal marijuana system to allow any colorado citizen over the age of 21 to legally posess and cultivate cannabis. Release all prisoners in state custody solely for cannabis related crimes not involving minors, and cease the prosecution of such cases. Use all of the money currently being wasted on such things for k-12 educaction, and then levy an additional 5-10 percent tax on the sale of cannabis within the state for further education spending. See how much revenue that frees up for their budgets and go from there.

And Here is the Most Horrific Story of the Day

This article [Denver Post] is a rather harrowing reminder of how thoroughly flawed our system is.  The Pacheco story is depressing enough [DP] but to hear that it was one of 43 cases over the past five years in which children died after entering the child welfare program.  I know there are a lot of people in that program who work as hard as they can amidst annual budget and personnel cuts, and I do not know enough about the relevent facts in any of these cases to issue judgement against them.  I also know that simply throwing money at the problem won’t solve it.  However, if a system that allows the deaths of 43 kids it has taken the responsibility to protect is the best we can afford, we need to spend more.  If you don’t want to click over, here is the meat from the article:

“According to The Post’s findings:

  • There were 27 instances in which county social workers failed to contact, interview or follow up with victims, caregivers, reporting parties or other adults involved in an referral.
  • There were 32 instances in which social workers did not document unsafe conditions, prior incidents or other concerns in their assessments.
  • There were 33 occasions during which assessments were not started in a timely manner, were completed incorrectly or left open beyond the allotted time frame.
  • In five cases, social workers failed to account for other children or caregivers living in the home, and communication difficulties across county departments and other systems — such as law enforcement — hindered an investigation in five cases.”-[Denver Post]

I do not care for the Denver Post, but I applaud them for shining a light on this horrible injustice happening in our state; now let’s see if they will call for tax and funding increases to help remedy the problem.

The AP finally uses the magic word regarding the Occupation

So there was a massive conflict [NY Times]  in Oakland last night [Denver Post] between Occupy Oakland and the Oakland police force, and other law enforcement agencies.   Apparently big enough to involve this thing:

(Photo courtesy of Rogue Planet’s flickr feed, thanks in advance)

Which is interesting, because it means the local Sherriff’s department has been preparing itself for some kind of situation involving that thing.  Almost as if a violent uprising of the poor and working class is now inevitable in this country.  Now, I support all kinds of things, because I want to keep my options open.  I would love to see the current US government reformed and restructured to be both efficient and responsive to the actual needs of its people.  I would also like to see the current US government completely thrown out on their fucking asses, and the people seizing their assets (regardless of means) back from their neofeudal slave drivers.  So bully for you, Occupy Oakland, and I hope to see more action like this across the country.  God knows there are plenty of unoccupied buildings in the Denver area that could house a several thousand people, ranging from the former Gates Rubber Factory, to the former Denver Post building, or whatever that giant thing next to Cuernavaca Park is.

Of course, this was not a protest, “Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, echoed Reid’s sentiments and said that what was going on amounts to ‘domestic terrorism.”-[DP]   Now, since the protesters tried to break into one vacant building, and broke into the closed city hall, who exactly would they be trying to terrorize?  Their fellow citizens?  Or the corrupt and corpulent lapdog government that begs for scraps at the table of the Nation’s ultra-wealthy as they continuously expand their exploitation of not only the average American citizen, but the citizens of second and third world nations across the globe.  If the establishment is angry that the Occupation is no longer going to play nice, well, we tried to play nice, and the Federal government coordinated a nationwide police action against our peaceful protest movement.  Nobody ever said giving up control was easy, but it is those in power who decide how peacefully this process will go; they would do well to remember that there are many, many more of us than there are them, and we will get our country back eventually.  It’s the American Way.

Clean energy and the restoration of the nation

So Obama wants to really focus on clean energy?  Welcome to ten years ago.  Since this has been the most logical path for the country since I have been capable of logical thought, I have had a great deal of time to think about it.  Here are some of my ideas:
1) Put our farm subsidies to good use by paying farmers to energy farm instead of growing weeds; and restructure the current tax credit and rebate system to make it actually profitable for the landowners of the american midwest and west to use their property for renewable energy.
2) Allow states to directly compete in the energy market using energy they buy directly from the citizenry.  Don’t like xcel gas?  How about solar from colorado, wind from wyoming, or hydroelectric from the pacific northwest?  The system of power for profit is bankrupting this country, we can fix this by allowing the profit to flow into back into the government, and then back to the people.
3) Let us reallocate the grotesque amount of funds currently being spent on military technology and overseas troop deployment for the purposes of both building all this awesome clean energy shit as well as improving our nations roads.  I would also like to see the advent of a high speed electric rail line across the whole damn country powered by the renewable energy assets of the states it passes through and run by the government for a restricted amount of profit.  I know this seems expensive, but its a better idea than, oh, a permanent base on the moon.

Here is a link to the speech on clean energy.

http://m.denverpost.com/denverpost/db_108614/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=XKe22TG9

Blackberry cream pie

Here is a step by step of a cream pie I made recently, the how and what and whatnot.  No recipes, though.

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I do not like a soggy crust on a pie, so when I make a cream pie I like to line the bottom of the crust with chocolate.  For this pie I have used a ganache made with dark chocolate and blackberry brandy, but I would not recommend this if you are not an experienced chocolatier.

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Then one single layer of rather tightly packed blackberries, slightly pressed into the ganache.

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For my liquid filling I used a boiled custard, and then let it cool for several hours.  You can use vanilla pudding, but I prefer to avoid gelatin based fillings and instead organic, local dairy and cage free eggs.

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For the topping I used a very thin layer of homemade whipped cream.  Then cover it with saran wrap and let it set overnight. 

SOPA/PIPA

There is a terrible article in the Denver Post today drastically underplaying the effects of SOPA and PIPA; giving the appearance that the only people concerned are internet companies, who are worried about losing revenue. It is so misleading and dumb that I refuse to link to or quote it. The Post has always been a hacky, terrible paper, but this is just the fucking worst; of course this is also the ‘news organization’ that wanted to sue people for quoting their content in blogs without paying for it.  The reason people are concerned about SOPA and its Senate equivalent PIPA is because they kill freedom.  They kill it dead.  Like knock freedom down to the floor and bash its freedom’s brains out with a can of tomato soup dead.  The copyright provisions in the legislation are actually among the least chilling; much more frightening are things such as giving the Attorney General to censor any foreign websites visited by American citizens, or blocking internet access to cheap and generic Canadian pharmaceuticals.  The fact that it makes file sharing, even of one song or video, punishable by jail time is, well, you know, a bonus.  It also effectively removes copyright prosecution from the frustrating restraints of the fourth amendment.  Look, file sharing might have killed the music industry, but you know what, it saved music from being quite such an unescapable sea of crap.  And the RIAA is still upset about that.  Fuck all these stooges, keep the internets free.  They are the future, and they will be the key to our freedom.  This is known, and this is why such a profound and reactionary effort to censor the web exists.

http://americancensorship.org/