Thursday, May 19, 2016


Desert Blooms
    Lana said she had waited most of her life to see a saguaro cactus bloom.
   In the stretch from Phoenix to Prescott Valley and Sedona  the desert scrub is populated by the massive uprights and spears.
   Closer examination of these saguaro, that can age to 2 centuries, revealed blooms. Blossoms appear only when a cactus is at least 35 years. They grow their first arm at between 75 and 100 years.

   The blooms are short-lived and open at night during spring. The saguaro blossom is the state wildflower of Arizona.
  Other worldly and exotic they are native of the Sonoran desert in Mexico and Arizona, the Whipple Mountains and Imperial County area of California. In Arizona it is against the law to harm a saguaro.

Wheel to Wheel on the Pacific Coast Highway
    The Amgen Tour of California raced past Cambria in Stage 4-Morro Bay to Monterey-on the famed Highway 1.
   The lead of the pack as they approached the south edge of Cambria having just come up a long hill.
    Immediately the racers began to use the level stretch for changing positions.

    Just as rapidly they were past the first access to Cambria and on the way toward San Simeon, Ragged Point, Big Sur and Monterey at speeds of 25 to 35 mph. 
       Here they are just a few miles into a 133 mile stage.
    The Amgen Tour of California finishes in Sacramento.

    This may feel like a kick in the head. Oxfam America recently published a study that reveals for every dollar America's largest companies paid in federal taxes from 2008 to 2014 they got back $27 in loans, guarantees and bailout funds from the Federal Government. Once more--the top 50 American corporations pay a dollar in taxes and get back $27. Is that the kind of tax plan you are on?
      Oxfam reports that for every dollar spent on lobbying by the largest corporations they get $130 in tax breaks and $4,000 in federal loans and guarantees.
      Ray Offenheiser, President of Oxfam, says, "The global economic system is becoming increasingly rigged." Oxfam is a federation of groups working on poverty and economic disadvantage in some 90 nations. They've been a respected player since the 1940's.
      Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times writes that a recent study found that tax dodging by major corporations "costs the US Treasury up to $111 billion a year."  Imagine the infrastructure repair, increase in pay and benefits to police, fire and veterans and improvements to schools and teacher training and pay that could be accomplished.  Kristof notes that since 1952 the share of corporate taxation in federal revenue has declined from 32% to 11%, but as you know from your own paystubs the portion of payroll taxes has increased. 
      To paraphrase Shakespeare-Something is rotten and this time it is not in Denmark.

      See you down the trail.


  1. Do the figures cited from Krystof include the over 200 million loaned (given) to Solyndra and over 100 million loaned (given) to Ener1 or the total 80 billion dollars for Obama's Green Energy Program? If so, then I have to agree. As far as the lobbying and giveaways, perhaps that is why so many voters are turning towards Trump. Latest poll shows Trump "trumping" Hilary by 3 percent - Huge reversal from previously down 10 percent!

    1. The Oxfam study was of federal tax revenue. Presumably some of the money returned could have been in congressionally approved energy initiatives. You are probably right, Republican legislative failure of leadership is why so many Republicans have rejected people of their own party. I'm not convinced Trump has the qualities or depth to govern. He makes a good candidate, especially in the clown car circus and he appeals to people who are angry, but that doesn't mean much. As for the polls, it is still a long time before voting day and so many things will intervene. If Trump is elected those who will be most surprised will be his angry supporters. He's a bit of a Trojan Horse. A liberal democrat most of his life those proclivities would guide him. If you doubt this look at his list of potential supreme court nominees. There are names that would not pass the right wing or conservative litmus test.

    2. PS-You might want to read this piece by Robert Kagan who worked for Republican Secretary of State George Schultz, is an analyst at the Brookings Institute and writes on Foreign Policy.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks. All I had to do was point and shoot. They are extraordinary things, and even more so when blooming.

  3. Don't pay any attention to the right-wing criticism of Obama's green energy program. Overall, it has been a major success. See the following excerpts from a 1/23/15 article in Newsworks.

    Remember Solyndra? The solar-panel manufacturing firm that defaulted on a guaranteed federal loan? The firm whose '11 bankruptcy was spun by the Republicans as a metaphor for Obama socialist overreach?

    Well, guess what. While nobody has been paying attention - least of all, the press - the same federal green-energy loan program, post-Solyndra, has been racking up a string of successes.

    Funny how the Republicans have failed to point this out. But hey, they're only interested in cherry-picking failures. And the so-called "liberal" press, which lavished sumptuous coverage on the Solyndra debacle, is only interested in news when it's bad.

    My curiousity about the Department of Energy's loan program - did it still exist, or did Solyndra kill it? - was prompted by something that President Obama said Tuesday night, during his State of the Union address. Just a passing remark: "We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet....Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008."

    So I surmised that if we're indeed bringing more solar online, then surely that loan program must still exist, right?

    Turns out, it does. Big time.

    Turns out, Solyndra's failure was basically a speed bump. Turns out, Obama's energy department has thus far loaned $34 billion to a slew of clean-green startups, and defaulted on only $780 million - a loss rate of just 2.3 percent. And Solyndra's default still accounts for most of that $780 million. All told, 20 clean-green projects, launched with Obama loans, are now operating and generating revenue. And the loan program, thanks to its ongoing collection of interest payments, is already $30 million in the black.

    One would think that Republicans would applaud a win for taxpayers, a program that partners with private enterprise to create clean-energy jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But no, of course not. They paid attention only when "Solyndra" was useful as an attack word (by 2012, "Solyndra" was replaced by "Benghazi").

    But it doesn't matter what they think. What matters is what the private-sector entrepreneurs think. You know, the business people who think about investments, not ideology.

    Two months ago, a spokesman for NRG Energy Inc. (which owns three solar power plants) told Reuters, "The loan program has been successful in bringing to market good projects with good credit support that absolutely would not have been built" if not for those loans.

    That same month, Nancy Pfund, a managing partner of a venture capital firm that has holdings in several energy companies backed by the Obama program, told the Associated Press: "It's very hard to get commercial-scale financing, especially for these types of projects. (The loans) have been a very positive force in that respect."

    Post-Solyndra, a plant in Colorado produces photovoltaic energy (a form of solar power) - reputedly the largest of its kind in the world. A plant in Kansas produces cellulosic ethanol from non-edible waste. There are solar thermal plants and wind farms in California and Arizona. Some projects have reportedly inked deals to sell clean power to utility companies. One project in California has already paid back its $450 million nearly 10 years ahead of schedule.

    As for Solyndra, yeah, that was a washout back in the day. But as scandals go, it was woefully overblown even then. The Solyndra loan was actually approved by the Bush administration, via an Energy Department program that preceded Obama's.

    1. Rick,
      Masterfully stated. Thanks for the depth of analysis and research. Please let me know when you begin your blog. BTW, I agree with your assessment, but you probably could surmise that.

    2. Good work, Rick.
      And Tom: good catalyst.

    3. Steve-
      Thanks. Miss seeing you on the coffee deck. Thanks for the visit to breezes.

  4. I've not seen those blooms before, thanks. Are they early there, like the lilacs are here in Montana? A month early here, damndest thing I've seen in that department.
    Isn't it odd, Ike warned of this, somewhat obliquely, decades ago.

  5. I've not seen those blooms before, thanks. Are they early there, like the lilacs are here in Montana? A month early here, damndest thing I've seen in that department.
    Isn't it odd, Ike warned of this, somewhat obliquely, decades ago.

  6. We have been in he desert in other seasons but apparently the time around Mother's day is normal for the blooms. They can continue to bloom into June.
    Cheers to you as well!