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Bill USA

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Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Me

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

Journal Archives

Virginia Repubs move ahead with Mass Disenfranchisement - (by trickery) - American Prospect

http://prospect.org/article/virginia-republicans-move-forward-mass-disenfranchisement
(emphasis my own)
This morning, I wrote on an emerging Republican plan—in swing states won by President Obama—to rig presidential elections by awarding electoral votes to the winner of the most congressional districts. Because Democratic voters tend to cluster in highly-populated urban areas, and Republican voters tend to reside in more sparsely populated regions, this makes land the key variable in elections—to win the majority of a state’s electoral votes, your voters will have to occupy the most geographic space.

In addition to disenfranchising voters in dense areas, this would end the principle of “one person, one vote.” If Ohio operated under this scheme, for example, Obama would have received just 22 percent of the electoral votes, despite winning 52 percent of the popular vote in the state.

For this reason, I didn’t expect Republicans to go forward with the plan—the risk of blowback is just too high. My skepticism, however, was misplaced. In Virginia, a local news station reports that just this afternoon, a state Senate subcommittee recommended a bill to end Virginia’s winner-take-all system and apportion its 13 electoral votes by congressional district.

Unlike similar proposals in Pennsylvania and Michigan, this one wouldn’t award the remaining electoral votes to the winner (Virginia has 11 districts). Rather, the winner of the most congressional districts would get the final two votes. If this were in effect last year, Obama would have gotten just 4 of the state’s votes, despite winning 51 percent of its voters.(more)

How the GOP is going to rig the next election - no exaggeration

How Republicans Plan To Rig The Next Presidential Election, In Six Pictures

Yesterday, Virginia Republicans took the first step to move a GOP plan to rig the Electoral College forward in that state. Similar plans are under consideration in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

The Republican election rigging plan targets blue states that President Obama won in 2008 and 2012, and changes the way they allocate electoral votes to give many of these votes away for free to the Republican candidate for president. Under the Republican Plan, most electoral votes will be allocated to the winner of individual Congressional districts, rather than to the winner of the state as a whole. Because the Republican Plan would be implemented in states that are heavily gerrymandered to favor Republicans, the resulting maps would all but guarantee that the Republican would win a majority of each state’s electoral votes, even if the Democratic candidate wins the state as a whole.

Today, the Center for American Progress Action Fund released a white paper detailing how this Republican election-rigging plan works — including this rather striking visual demonstration of just how effectively Republicans gerrymandered six states that are likely targets of their plan:




Virginia Republicans’ bald-faced power grab - http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/virginia-republicans-bald-faced-power-grab/2013/01/22/0bd6b95e-64b3-11e2-9e1b-07db1d2ccd5b_story.html

Editorial Board

IN A SNEAK ATTACK notable more for its deviousness than its strategic acuity, Virginia Republicans engineered a bald-faced power grab Monday that would radically redraw the state’s electoral map without so much as a “yea,” “nay” or “maybe” from anything so trivial as a voter.

Taking advantage of the absence of a single Democratic state senator, GOP lawmakers in Richmond rammed through a radically gerrymandered map designed to hand them control of the 40-member state Senate, which is now split evenly between the two parties.

They were able to do so, on a vote of 20 to 19, because one Democratic senator was in Washington to attend President Obama’s inauguration. Touche, Republicans! Count that as a new low for hyper-partisanship, dirty tricks and the unaccountable arrogance of power.

The Republican move was executed in the style of a putsch, arising from a conspiracy and with no warning, public input or debate. Pressing their momentary numerical superiority, GOP lawmakers amended a routine House bill by tacking on a new map, devised in secret. Although this is one of the most partisan redistricting plans in Virginia’s history, the Republicans then cut off debate after 30 minutes.
(more)

By The Numbers: Abortion Rights On The 40th Anniversary Of Roe v. Wade

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/01/22/1476671/by-the-numbers-roe-v-wade/

•70: Percentage of Americans who now oppose overturning Roe, the highest number since 1989. Most religious groups also want to leave Roe in place.

•135: Number of new state-level abortion restrictions enacted over the past two years. 2011 and 2012 represented the worst years for reproductive freedom since the 1973 Supreme Court decision.

•87: Percentage of U.S. counties that don’t have an abortion clinic. At least four states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi — only have a single abortion clinic left.

•45: By the time American women reach this age, nearly half of them will have had an unintended pregnancy at some point in their lives. About one in three will have had an abortion.
(more)

(note: tried to put in a link to Guttmacher Institute but INternet Explorer can't open that cite... h-mmmmmm.)

Just heard about the 'Peterloo' massacre. Never HEARD of this atrocity! INCREDIBLE!!


Then I wondered, when did the 'ordinary' people get the vote in England?


I looked up when 'ordinary' people got the vote in England and it's not real clear. It seems the "Representation of the People Act of 1918 let those who fought in the war and women that helped in some way to vote. Also men of 21 years of age were allowed to vote and women 30 years old and owned land were allowed."... does this mean men of 21 who owned land were given the vote but not those who did not own land?

When did 'commoners' who did not own land get the vote? Can anybody help me out here?



Ford Researchers Make the Case for Ethanol and Methanol Blends

Research confirms what is already widely known by engine designers, race engine builders and hot-rodders that higher octane means higher combustion chamber pressures and higher power output. Higher power output enables down-sizing of engines with concomitant gains in gasoline consumption reductions (from efficiency gains as well as direct substitution of ethanol for gasoline).

Strangely (considering this is widely known in the auto manufacturing industry and in auto racing applications), the greater fuel efficiency possible with ethanol has never been considered by Dept of Energy in evaluating ethanol's ability to reduce gasoline consumption or GHG emissions reductions. Three MIT scientists designed an engine that will obtain 30% improvement in fuel consumption over typical ICE - at about 1/4th the cost of a hybrid automobile (read: "more rapid adoption by consumers" while using ony 5% ethanol and 95% gasoline. Thus, the designers significantly increase the impact of ethanol using this engine (i.e. about 20x).

Actually, this isn't even news to the Dept. of Energy (do you hear me Dr. Wang?), in 1998 the Dept of Energy conducted an "Ethanol Vehicle Challenge" which was participated in by teams of Engineering students from over a dozen Colleges and Universities in the U.S. and Canada. The objective was to optimize an stock Chevrolet Malibu to run on E85 (85% ehtanol fuel). The results? all the teams (save one which dropped out of the challenge) improved the fuel efficiency of the stock Malibu running on straigth gasoline. The top three teams achieved fuel efficiency improvements of 13% to 15%. And this is running on E85. (The MIT engine does better than this using far less ethanol) But this was done without such developments as Direct Injection and variable valve timing and duration - by college engineering students and WITHOUT DOWNSIZING of the engines (!).

Wonder if anybody over at DoE cares about optimizing the use of ethanol and multiplying the benefits derived from the use of ethanol? greater fuel efficiency with ethanol increases the reduction of gasoline/oil consumtion which will help to further reduce the price of oil/gasoline for U.S. drivers - which will help our economy still struggling to get out of this Republican Dystopia.



http://newenergyandfuel.com/http:/newenergyandfuel/com/2012/04/09/ford-makes-a-case-for-ethanol-and-methanol-blends/


A team of researchers from Ford Motor Company are asserting in a paper published in the journal Fuel that “substantial societal benefits” would arrive for consumers by using higher volume blends of ethanol to leverage the alcohol’s inherent high octane rating to produce ethanol-gasoline blends with higher octane numbers.


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The two alcohols are not equal to gasoline. Detractors focus on the lower energy density than gasoline, potentially higher or lower vapor pressures, altered distillation properties, and potential for water-induced phase separation. These are all valid points – easily compensated for by proper engineering.

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Ford is making the case, with a hard scientific, peer reviewed, repeatable study what racing folks, hot rodders, engineers, and smart consumers with high compression engines have known for years.

The high octane rating of ethanol could be used in a mid-level ethanol blend to increase the minimum octane number (Research Octane Number, RON) of regular-grade gasoline.

Ford suggests that the societal benefit comes from automakers having an opportunity to improve their engines to a higher compression ratio. The compression ratio is a comparison of the volume of the open cylinder to the cylinder volume when the piston has squeezed the cylinder to the smallest volume. The same amount of fuel and air squeezed into a smaller space sets up a more energetic fuel burn that equals more mechanical energy out and less heat lost.(more)



also see: Ford researchers suggest using higher ethanol blends to boost the minimum octane number of regular-grade gasoline


Using higher volume blends of ethanol to leverage the alcohol’s inherent high octane rating to produce ethanol-gasoline blends with higher octane numbers could yield “substantial societal benefits”, according to a team of researchers from Ford Motor Company.

Currently, ethanol is blended into a gasoline blendstock formulated with lower octane rating such that the net octane rating of the resulting final blend is unchanged from historical levels. However, the high octane rating of ethanol could be used in a mid-level ethanol blend to increase the minimum octane number (Research Octane Number, RON) of regular-grade gasoline, J.E. Anderson and colleagues suggest in a new paper published in the journal Fuel.

Ethanol—and methanol—have some performance issues in gasoline blends, such as lower energy density than gasoline, potentially higher or lower vapor pressures, altered distillation properties, and potential for water-induced phase separation. However, they also offer a high research octane number (RON) and motor octane number (MON) as compared to gasoline. The alcohols also have a greater latent heat of vaporization than gasoline, which contributes to their higher RON values and provides additional charge cooling in direct-injection (DI) engines.
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Higher RON in the fuel blend would enable greater thermal efficiency in future engines through higher compression ratio (CR) and/or more aggressive turbocharging and downsizing, and in current engines on the road today through more aggressive spark timing under some driving conditions.(more)

In the House, the Republicans have stacked the deck (Gerrymandering Democracy out of the election)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-republican-gerrymandering-makes-the-difference-in-the-house/2013/01/04/f6e9bd1e-56a4-11e2-8b9e-dd8773594efc_story.html

The mantra has been intoned by John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist and many other party eminences, and there is a certain logic to saying that the voters, by giving Republicans the House, were asking for divided government.

But the claim to represent the voters’ will doesn’t add up.

The final results from the November election were completed Friday, and they show that Democratic candidates for the House outpolled Republicans nationwide by nearly 1.4 million votes and more than a full percentage point — a greater margin than the preliminary figures showed in November. And that’s just the beginning of it: A new analysis finds that even if Democratic congressional candidates won the popular vote by seven percentage points nationwide, they still would not have gained control of the House.

[font size="+1"]The analysis, by Ian Millhiser at the liberal Center for American Progress using data compiled by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, finds that even if Democrats were to win the popular vote by a whopping nine percentage points — a political advantage that can’t possibly be maintained year after year — they would have a tenuous eight-seat majority.[/font]

In a very real sense, the Republican House majority is impervious to the will of the electorate. Thanks in part to deft redistricting based on the 2010 Census, House Republicans may be protected from the vicissitudes of the voters for the next decade. For Obama and the Democrats, this is an ominous development: The House Republican majority is durable, and it isn’t necessarily sensitive to political pressure and public opinion.
(more)


Thanks To Gerrymandering, Democrats Would Need To Win The Popular Vote By Over 7 Percent To Take Back The House

As of this writing, every single state except Hawai’i has finalized its vote totals for the 2012 House elections, and Democrats currently lead Republicans by 1,362,351 votes in the overall popular vote total. Democratic House candidates earned 49.15 percent of the popular vote, while Republicans earned only 48.03 percent — meaning that the American people preferred a unified Democratic Congress over the divided Congress it actually got by more than a full percentage point. Nevertheless, thanks largely to partisan gerrymandering, Republicans have a solid House majority in the incoming 113th Congress.

A deeper dive into the vote totals reveals just how firmly gerrymandering entrenched Republican control of the House. If all House members are ranked in order from the Republican members who won by the widest margin down to the Democratic members who won by the widest margins, the 218th member on this list is Congressman-elect Robert Pittenger (R-NC). Thus, Pittenger was the “turning point” member of the incoming House. If every Republican who performed as well or worse than Pittenger had lost their race, Democrats would hold a one vote majority in the incoming House.

Pittenger won his race by more than six percentage points — 51.78 percent to 45.65 percent.

The upshot of this is that if Democrats across the country had performed six percentage points better than they actually did last November, they still would have barely missed capturing a majority in the House of Representatives. In order to take control of the House, Democrats would have needed to win the 2012 election by 7.25 percentage points. That’s significantly more than the Republican margin of victory in the 2010 GOP wave election (6.6 percent), and only slightly less than the margin of victory in the 2006 Democratic wave election (7.9 percent). If Democrats had won in 2012 by the same commanding 7.9 percent margin they achieved in 2006, they would still only have a bare 220-215 seat majority in the incoming House, assuming that these additional votes were distributed evenly throughout the country. That’s how powerful the GOP’s gerrymandered maps are; Democrats can win a Congressional election by nearly 8 points and still barely capture the House.

(more)

The Republican Debt Ceiling Gambit Is Unconstitutional

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/01/18/1471191/the-republican-debt-ceiling-gambit-is-unconstitutional/

House Republicans are backing away from their threat to plunge the United States into a catastrophic budget default and will instead pursue the somewhat less reckless strategy of passing a three-month increase in the debt limit. According to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), the bill will also contain a provision cutting off congressional pay unless both houses meet a particular milestone: “If the Senate or House fails to pass a budget in that time, members of Congress will not be paid by the American people for failing to do their job. No budget, no pay.”

Before Cantor gets too excited about this plan, however, he may want to familiarize himself with the Twenty-Seventh Amendment to the Constitution:


No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.


There is no election between now and three-months from now, so no law that would cut off congressional pay can take effect then. The Constitution is very clear on this point. Indeed, Republicans should have discovered this fact when House members read the Constitution aloud on the House floor last Tuesday.

To be sure, it is good news that House Republicans appear to be realizing that they can no longer hold the fate of the entire world economy hostage to their narrow agenda. But they aren’t allowed to violate the Constitution either.

Republicans Brag They Won House Majority Because Of Gerrymandering

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/01/17/1459991/rslc-gerrymandering-house/

In a classic Kinsley gaffe, the Republican State Leadership Committee released a report boasting that the only reason the GOP controls the House of Representatives is because they gerrymandered congressional districts in blue states.

The RSLC’s admission came in a shockingly candid report entitled, “How a Strategy of Targeting State Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in 2013″. It details how the group spent $30 million in the 2010 election cycle to sweep up low-cost state legislature races in blue states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Their efforts were so successful, in fact, that Republicans went from controlling both legislative chambers in 14 states before Election Day to 25 states afterward.

In turn, the new Republican majorities would be tasked with redrawing congressional districts for the 2012 election. “The rationale was straightforward,” the report reads. “Controlling the redistricting process in these states would have the greatest impact on determining how both state legislative and congressional district boundaries would be drawn.”

This effort paid off in spades. As the RSLC’s report concedes (and ThinkProgress has documented extensively), a majority of Americans voted for Democratic congressional candidates on Election Day, but only through the miracle of gerrymandering did Republicans wind up controlling the House. From the report:


Farther down-ballot, aggregated numbers show voters pulled the lever for Republicans only 49 percent of the time in congressional races, suggesting that 2012 could have been a repeat of 2008, when voters gave control of the White House and both chambers of Congress to Democrats.

But, as we see today, that was not the case. Instead, Republicans enjoy a 33-seat margin in the U.S. House seated yesterday in the 113th Congress, having endured Democratic successes atop the ticket and over one million more votes cast for Democratic House candidates than Republicans. The only analogous election in recent political history in which this aberration has taken place was immediately after reapportionment in 1972, when Democrats held a 50 seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives while losing the presidency and the popular congressional vote by 2.6 million votes.

Most see Obama as ‘strong leader,’ say deal on debt ceiling does not require cuts

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/most-see-obama-as-strong-leader-say-deal-on-debt-ceiling-does-not-require-cuts/2013/01/15/f32e4fc8-5f64-11e2-a389-ee565c81c565_story.html?hpid=z3

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More Americans now approve of the way Obama is doing his job than at any point in the past three years, except for a fleeting spike upward after the killing of Osama bin Laden. The number seeing him as a “strong leader” is sharply higher, and a clear majority again sees him as empathetic with the problems they face.

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Most say they are hopeful about the policies Obama will pursue over the next four years, with the president buoyed by his relative standing against the GOP.

Fully 55 percent say Obama is doing a good job overall, more than double the 24 percent saying so of the Republicans in Congress. Among political independents, 54 percent approve of the president’s job performance; just 21 percent give good ratings to congressional Republicans. (At 37 percent overall and 30 percent among independents, the Democrats in Congress do little better.)

The GOP congressional leadership also takes flak for a perceived unwillingness to work with Obama on important issues: 67 percent of all Americans see them as doing “too little” to compromise with the president. Far fewer, 48 percent, say so about Obama’s willingness to compromise with the GOP.



(more)


link to detailed poll results: http://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2013/01/16/National-Politics/Polling/release_194.xml

Pennsylvania House Republicans Introduce Bill To Rig The 2016 Presidential Election

http://thinkprogress.org/

Earlier this week, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus endorsed a Republican plan to rig the next presidential election to make it nearly impossible for the Democratic candidate to win the White House, no matter who the American people vote for. The election-rigging plan, which would allocate electoral votes by congressional district rather than by states as a whole in a handful of states that consistently vote for Democratic presidential candidates, would have allowed Mitt Romney to narrowly win the Electoral College last November despite losing the popular vote by nearly four points.

On Monday, seven Pennsylvania Republican state representatives introduced a bill to make this vote-rigging scheme a reality in their state. Under their bill, the winner of Pennsylvania as a whole will receive only 2 of the state’s 20 electoral votes, while “[e]ach of the remaining presidential electors shall be elected in the presidential elector’s congressional district.”

Pennsylvania is a blue state that voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every single presidential race for the last two decades, so implementing the GOP election-rigging plan in Pennsylvania would make it much harder for a Democrat to be elected to the White House. Moreover, because of gerrymandering, it is overwhelmingly likely that the Republican candidate will win a majority of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes even if the Democrat wins the state by a very comfortable margin. Despite the fact that President Obama won Pennsylvania by more than 5 points last November, Democrats carried only 5 of the state’s 18 congressional seats. Accordingly, Obama would have likely won only 7 of the state’s 20 electoral votes if the GOP vote rigging plan had been in effect last year.

One mitigating factor is that only 7 of the Pennsylvania House’s 109 Republicans are original sponsors of the election-rigging bill, so it is unclear that this is a major priority for the GOP state house caucus. Nevertheless, both Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-PA) support the plan, so there is a real risk that Pennsylvania Republicans will try to write the voters out of the next presidential election.
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