Update: Why Americans Must Demolish the Political Duopoly and Create a New Progressive Alliance

Einstein image on insanity

A Call to Action Now!

By Thomas Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

March 23, 2014 (Updated from December 15, 2013)

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”– Albert  Einstein 

Duopoly:  “preponderant influence or control by two political powers.”

Demolish:  “to destroy by breaking apart; to put an end to.”

Corporate fascism (or Corporatism):  “the complete merger of  corporate and state entities to create a political entity.”

________________________________________________________

The United States is experiencing a serious crisis and most Americans know it.  Our government and the Washington establishment is disintegrating at near breath taking speed. It could  well be the most serious situation in at least a hundred years.   For years now several authors have described our government in Washington as being “broken” or “dysfunctional”.  But these words seem inadequate any longer. 

It is much more like a “living” entity which is dying and is in a critical state; all vital signs are poor. Crises are generated in Washington from incompetence and corruption.  Little or nothing gets done; few if any serious problems are addressed.  Everything is addressed as “partisan.”  But that is a delusion because as I will mention later there is really only one party with two different factions serving the corporate fascists.  When the two factions finally agree on something, then it is called “bipartisan” because the two political parties appear to be constantly fighting over power and money.  What, if anything, is to be done about this evil charade?

The Obama Doctrine:  Killing Beyond the Horizon by Karen GarciaThe election of Barack Obama in 2008 was run on a campaign of “Hope and Change”.  We had experienced eight years of a troubling presidency by Republican George W. Bush. Bush’s approval rating had sunk to about 30% near the end of his second term.  We had experienced nearly 7 years of a “war on terrorism” including two major invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of well  over a trillion dollars. Our financial situation had steadily deteriorated until the economy nearly collapsed in 2008.  Emergency measures led to bailing out the big banks for hundreds of billions of dollars.  The stock market had collapsed to about 50% of its high and unemployment increased dramatically with nearly 8 million people losing their jobs.

We now KNOW that Obama’s election in 2008 was all a marketing phenomenon created by more than a billion dollars, much of it from large banks–Wall Street. And after five years of a Democratic presidency under Barack  Obama, the “hope  and change” he had promised never came.  Numerous writers have documented how the policies of George Bush have not only been continued by Obama, but, in fact,  worsened in several respects.  In particular, civil liberties (under a president who was presumably a “Constitutional lawyer”) have been significantly reduced or eroded with increased frequency in the wrong doing of our surveillance state, indefinite detention under NDAA, criminal prosecutions of whistle blowers,  foreign invasions (e.g. Drone attacks) and assassinations violating the sovereignty of nations. Threats to bomb Syria to  “remove” chemical weapons were made and based upon false intelligence.  

New threats of even greater magnitude have been directed at Russia over Crimea; they are hypocritical complaints of almost unbelievable magnitude coming directly from the mouths of Obama and Secretary John Kerry. On the domestic front, most employment gains have been from temporary, part time or lower wage jobs; universal healthcare which was promised looks increasing like an illusion and possibly a big lie. Certainly healthcare costs will not be controlled because the ACA was a huge give away to the private sector insurance companies and big pharmaceuticals and millions will still be without coverage.

The big gains experienced in the stock market since 2008 are simply increasing the profitability of the corporations and the riches of the very wealthy, further aggravating the income/wealth inequities separating the 1% from the other 99% of Americans.  Americans are as pessimistic as they have been in decades and that is also reflected in their loss of confidence in their government.  Congressional approval ratings have sunk to as low as 8%, the lowest in recorded history.  

We have no promising leaders emerging on a national level, just a recycling of the same old two party characters and political jargon with their propaganda already looking at and preparing for future elections three years in advance. One thing Barack Obama has proven and made crystal clear to me:  There will be no “hope and change” if we continue on this path. THIS MY FELLOW AMERICANS IS “THE REAL STATE OF OUR UNION” AND NOT THE GARBAGE UTTERED BY PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN HIS JANUARY SPEECH!

In continuing to tolerate these worsening conditions and allowing the two political parties to completely control our future, we are, in effect, admitting to insanity—“doing the same thing over and over and expecting  different results.”  Of course some have just given up and dropped out.  It is similar to what an addict does in continuing to practice his habit of using a substance which controls his/her life by using just one more time and expecting to change things later.  We need to apply “recovery” techniques to our political system and that most likely requires that we go “cold turkey” on continuing to tolerate the Democratic and Republican parties total control of our political system and our government. In recent polls as many as 60% of Americans say they welcome additional or “third” political parties;  as few as 26% are satisfied with what we have.

In the last 14 years and despite four presidential elections and seven Congressional elections, things have considerably worsened with the two party political duopoly.  If we don’t radically alter this soon, it will certainly destroy us because things only get worse with each election.  If nothing changes, conditions will almost certainly get worse in the elections of 2014 and 2016.  Millions will continue to be unemployed or grossly underemployed, many more will be impoverished, prospects for our youth will worsen, income/wealth inequities will increase and our confidence in our government will be nearly zero. Our war mongering imperialism will go on and on.

It is worth mentioning here that nearly 90% of incumbents were returned to elected office in the House and Senate in 2012.  And, of  course, Obama was easily reelected with the aid of a few billion dollars. But there is one particular thing that continues to “change”; corporate money spent for lobbying and campaign contributions have increased dramatically!  There are as many or more millionaires in Congress as we have ever had.  Only the very wealthy or those with access to money can afford to run for office. Congress is essentially 100% dominated by one of the two political parties.The only  significant “independent” in Congress is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and if he decides to run for president on the Democratic Party, we know damn well what will happen to him;  just talk to Nader or Deniss Kucinich.

The so-called barrier to entry for other political parties have presented extreme obstacles to getting on ballots and extreme difficulty in  mounting meaningful candidates for office because of the money that has to be spent for media exposure. Corporations control the media which support the two party system because that’s where the money is.  Our political system is a tightly controlled DUOPOLY, and antitrust laws prohibit that in the private sector.  Laws that apply to us don’t apply to the elite elected officials because they are the ones who make the laws!    That provides an open door for members of Congress, in particular, and even members of the Executive Branch to be completely “owned” and controlled by corporations and the wealthy who now have no limits on the amount they can spend on a candidate, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision. We have effectively made bribery  legal and corporations and the wealthy are encouraged to participate. It’s a guarantee for total corruption in the U.S. government and that is what we have achieved.  Our political system has been trying to drive us toward financial bankruptcy and it has happened, in large part, because of moral bankruptcy.

A government coup has been underway for some time and corporate occupy the courts--gulfport 004 (4)--Glen Sandberg ---severly cropped (2)fascism coupled with a drive toward totalitarianism has begun to dominate every aspect of our lives.  WE MUST DEMOLISH THE TWO PARTY DUOPOLY IN THIS COUNTRY AND IT MUST BEGIN NOW OR IT WILL HAPPEN VIOLENTLY. John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”  Thomas Jefferson said, God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.” (From the “Tree of Liberty”).

Political parties did not exist in 1789. George Washington despised the idea of political associations, formed in such a way as to pit one group of citizens against another. In his farewell speech in 1796 he said:  “All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They [political parties] serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.”

There is really only one monopolistic “party” in the duopoly;  it is the CORPORATIST PARTY!

I am strongly inclined to believe this of our current  political parties: Both the Republican and the Democratic parties are totally controlled by corporations—corporate fascists—who “own” most of our elected representatives.  Unlimited money in politics from lobbying and from campaign contributions have assured that.  Corporations often literally write the laws which representatives then present and advocate.  Congress always defers to “experts” on the subjects. In the past this was referred to as bribery, but it is now standard accepted practice.  There is often no disclosure of who is doing the dirty work. 

Under Obama, we have learned clearly that his role in representing the Corporatists is to appease his supporters with his speech and to agree to “compromise” with Republicans, giving them essentially everything they demand. This is then labeled “bipartisanship.” Obama is applauded for his support for the Middle Class when all that’s been done is to move the country further to the right and reward the 1% and the corporations even further. The Democrats boast on how much they are doing for the “people” while all of the time offering socially distracting rhetoric.

This has been going on now for many, many years by a deceptive and dishonest party which calls itself “Democratic”.  The Republicans are mean spirited and admit their evilness. But this  “cooperative effort” accounts for the extreme income/wealth inequities that have been created AND HAS GROWN TO HUGE PROPORTIONS UNDER OBAMA.  The Democrats keep providing the cover for the Republicans to do their dirty work.   I particularly like the description  given  by Peter Camejo in 2004:  ” For over 130 years the two major parties have been extremely effective in preventing the emergence of any mass political formations that challenge their political monopoly. Most attempts to build political alternatives have been efforts to represent the interests of the average person, the working people. These efforts have been unable to develop. Both major parties have been dominated by moneyed interests and today reflect the historic period of corporate rule. In this sense United States history has been different from that of any other advanced industrial nation. In all other countries multi-party systems have appeared and to one degree or another they have more democratic electoral laws and more representation has existed. In almost all other cases political parties ostensibly based on or promoting the interest of non-corporate sectors such as working people exist.”  

There is an ongoing debate about “when” things got this bad but it is traceable at least to the mid 1980′s or perhaps even the 1970′s certainly prior to the Clinton administration.  The Democratic  Leadership Council (DLC) which was the policy arm of the Democratic Party made a commitment then to go after corporate support to compete with the Republican Party.

Here is what was reported  about an interview with Thomas Frank, author of  “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” in 2006!

“In the concluding chapter of “Kansas,” Frank assigns “a large part of the blame for the backlash phenomenon” to the “criminal stupidity” of the Democratic Party in abandoning its commitment to labor and economic justice in pursuit of white-collar votes and corporate contributions. The DLC in particular, he writes, thinks that “to collect the votes and — more important — the money of these coveted constituencies,” Democrats must stand firm on issues like abortion rights while making “endless concessions on economic issues” such as NAFTA, welfare, privatization and deregulation. The result? Democrats become Tweedledum to the Republicans’ Tweedledee on the laissez-faire economy, leaving their opponents free to woo blue-collar voters with backlash issues.”  This article goes on to ask:  “Has the DLC taken economic issues off the table? “Of course they haven’t taken them off the table — they’ve just become Republicans.”

We all should know by now that the impact of Clinton policies in the 1990′s have been disastrous to our economy.  Specifically,  NAFTA and related trade agreements have led to huge exportation of jobs.  Ending “welfare as we know it” has led to large increases in poverty.  Repeal of Glass-Steagall in regulating the banks led directly to the 2008 crash and great recession. The Democratic Party has proven it is just another faction of the Corporatist Party which controls our political system. As I described  in a blog  in July 2013, Barack Obama has taken it to another level preparing the country for a complete corporate fascist, totalitarian nation. 

As Chris Hedges describes in this talk given in early December 2013, “The Country is Decaying at an Alarming Rate.”  It’s been far too long for the people to remain quiet and lethargic any longer!  It’s time to create an army of activists and declare war on the two factions who control and operate the political system!  Here are some suggestions for things you can do right now!  

Third Party Need by Gallup

STARTING THE PROCESS OF ENDING THE TWO PARTY DUOPOLY

Americans are clearly unhappy with the current two party system and in a poll by Gallup conducted in October 2013 that is shown conclusively.  Ralph Nader published a blog in February 2014 suggesting a way the duopoly might be attacked.  I have no illusion that this will not be a difficult task, primarily because the corporations which continue to support and fund the duopoly want to retain it.  The two political parties are both supported by the corporate media.  So it will be the people versus the system—the status quo.  But I also have no doubts it has to be done.  So I will start with some suggestions and invite others to contribute.

STEP 1:  STOP ALL SUPPORT FOR BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES!  

This means quite simply stop giving any financial contributions to either the Democratic or Republican parties now.  Announce to candidates you will not support them running on those tickets and ESPECIALLY IF THEY HAVE RECEIVED CORPORTION SUPPORT.

STEP 2: SPEND YOUR TIME, MONEY AND ENERGY WORKING FOR OTHER CAUSES AND SUPPORTING NON PROFITS.

Devote your time, money and efforts with those organizations which represent your interests and worthwhile efforts to improve our society. These are NOT the two political parties.  It might include political causes which also represent you rather than some candidate for office.

STEP 3.  LOOK FOR ALTERNATIVE POLITICAL PARTIES such as the Green Party, etc. to support if they become active in making a difference in the principles and causes you support.  Remember it is not their candidate that they support but rather their principles (platform) and what they really DO that is important.

 STEP 4. FOCUS MORE TIME WORKING ON CAUSES AND GOVERNMENTAL CONCERNS CLOSER TO HOME (INCLUDING YOUR STATE), such as social and economic issues: poverty, food and housing, education, transportation, public safety, environmental matters, etc.  Consider becoming active in local political matters if you are not already involved but attempt to steer clear of the two party trap.

You may object by saying well this will open the floodgates for the corporations to come in and fill the “vacuum.”  The corporations are already there; it is delusional to think you can have any significant impact on the two political parties by continuing to suport them. You can better use your time exposing the corporations for what they are doing and direct economic boycotts against them!  Support alternative media including investigative journalists who do not work for any corporate media, i.e giant corporations! And support and encourage more whistle blowers who expose our government’s wrong doing.

An organization worthy of note today is called Popular Resistance and here is their website and newsletter. Their process diagram for building an effective resistance movement shown here is very useful.  Popular resistance movement Calling for the end of the two party duopoly has been done before, of course.  This article in Fire Dog Lake by the Electoral Reform Coalition is notable.  Of course, Ralph Nader has been trying to mount an effort for this purpose for years by running on a “third party” ticket.  But the duopoly has squashed every attempt as soon as they can, often by convincing the public that they are wasting their time and their “vote”.  Roots Action has just had a press release that addresses a Budget for People, Peace and Planet.    There are an abundance of relatively new sites on Facebook who offer an opportunity to exchange valuable information.

These various action strategies require that you become more active and involved in making this change occur.  It will take time and dedication away from your computer, your home, etc. and out of your comfort zone.  You will experience conflict but deal with it confidently.  Emphasize the positive outcomes which will be recognized.

MODEL FOR A PROGRESSIVE NETWORK ORGANIZATION

A Unified Progressive Movement or Coalition:  Periodic efforts have made to create and launch “third party” efforts by small groups around the nation but few achieve any kind of significant national recognition.  The Green Party has made a gallant effort but generally fails to get more than a fraction of the national vote in presidential elections though  their platform is appealing to many of us.  In order to mount a significant challenge by a progressive movement, I believe a coalition of organizations must agree to cooperate to represent common values.  This requires both a suppression of individual egos and a willingness to work together on common causes. 

Examples of those are:  1)  Demanding that we significantly diminish our war mongering imperialism around the world in the name of “national defense, support for democracy, and humanitarianism”.  We all know what a smoke screen that has provided for justifying every intervention and invasion our leaders in government have tried. 2)  Demanding that the defense budget be decreased and that those funds be allocated to domestic needs.  3)  Demanding that the government play a real role in education and employment.  4)  Demanding that we address the income/wealth inequities that have been created from the tax reductions and tax loop holes for the wealthy and the corporations. 5)  Demanding that we address poverty and hunger in this country. 6) Demanding that we address the problems that have been created from our continued dependence upon fossil fuels and the resulting climate crisis.  In effect, demanding that we emphasize “human” needs and values, not the values of simply power and money which currently motivate and drive America’s dying political system.

A sample diagram of the network proposed where organizations will regularly communicate with one another and work on common priorities and projects is shown.  The internet and social media will be a primary tool to strengthen the network.  New leadership will emerge from that rather than depending upon the political process to recycle the same old stuff and people.  This requires that the leadership of these organizations suppress some individual egos and begin to COOPERATE! This isn’t intended to be all encompassing but rather to offer an additional prompt for vigorous discussion and ideas and to encourage individual and organizational efforts to make a difference.

Unified Progressive Movement Diagram--Export

Copyright 2013-2014,  Thomas Baldwin.

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Why Americans Must Demolish the Political Two Party Duopoly!

My work here is done--Obama--newA Call to Action!

By Thomas Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

December 15, 2013

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”– Albert  Einstein 

Duopoly:  “preponderant influence or control by two political powers.”

Demolish:  “to destroy by breaking apart; to put an end to.”

Corporate fascism (or Corporatism):  “the complete merger of  corporate and state entities to create a political entity.”

______________________________________________________________

The United States is experiencing a serious crisis and most Americans know it.  It could  well be the most serious situation in at least a hundred years.   For years now several authors have described our government in Washington as being “broken” or “dysfunctional”.  But these words seem inadequate any longer.  It is much more like a “living” entity which is dying and is in a critical state; all vital signs are poor.  Little or nothing gets done; few if any serious problems are addressed.  Everything is addressed as “partisan.”  But that is a delusion because as I will mention later there is really only one party with two different factions serving the corporate fascists.  When the two factions finally agree on something, then it is called “bipartisan” because the two political parties appear to be constantly fighting over power and money.  What, if anything, is to be done about this evil charade?

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 was run on a campaign of “Hope and Change”.  We had experienced eight years of a troubling presidency by Republican George W. Bush. Bush’s approval rating had sunk to about 30% near the end of his second term.  We had experienced nearly 7 years of a “war on terrorism” including two major invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of well  over a trillion dollars. Our financial situation had steadily deteriorated until the economy nearly collapsed in 2008.  Emergency measures led to bailing out the big banks for hundreds of billions of dollars.  The stock market had collapsed to about 50% of its high and unemployment increased dramatically with nearly 8 million people losing their jobs.

But after five years of a Democratic presidency under Barack  Obama, the “hope  and change” he had promised never came.  Numerous writers have documented how the policies of George Bush have not only been continued by Obama, but, in fact,  worsened in several respects.  In particular, civil liberties (under a president who was presumably a “Constitutional lawyer”) have been significantly reduced or eroded with increased frequency in the wrong doing of our surveillance state, indefinite detention under NDAA, criminal prosecutions of whistle blowers,  foreign invasions (e.g. Drone attacks) and assassinations violating the sovereignty of nations. Threats to bomb Syria to  “remove” chemical weapons were made and based upon false intelligence.  On the domestic front, most employment gains have been from temporary, part time or lower wage jobs; universal healthcare which was promised looks increasing like an illusion and possibly a big lie. Certainly healthcare costs will not be controlled because the ACA was a huge give away to the private sector insurance companies and big pharmaceuticals and millions will still be without coverage.

The big gains experienced in the stock market are simply increasing the profitability of the corporations and the riches of the very wealthy, further aggravating the income/wealth inequities separating the 1% from the other 99% of Americans.  Americans are as pessimistic as they have been in decades and that is also reflected in their loss of confidence in their government.  Congressional approval ratings have sunk to 8%, the lowest in recorded history.  We have no promising leaders emerging on a national level, just a recycling of the same old two party political jargon and propaganda already looking at and preparing for future elections three years in advance. One thing Barack Obama has proven and made crystal clear to me:  There will be no “hope and change” if we continue on this path.

In continuing to tolerate these worsening conditions and allowing the two political parties to completely control our future, we are, in effect, admitting to insanity—“doing the same thing over and over and expecting  different results.”  Of course some have just given up and dropped out.  It is similar to what an addict does in continuing to practice his habit of using a substance which controls his/her life by using just one more time and expecting to change things later.  We need to apply “recovery” techniques to our political system and that most likely requires that we go “cold turkey” on continuing to tolerate the Democratic and Republican parties total control of our political system and our government. In recent polls as many as 60% of Americans say they welcome additional or “third” political parties. 

Wealth, domination pyramicIn June of this year, Foster Gamble wrote:  “Whether Obama was duped, blackmailed, entrapped, bribed, coddled or threatened, he has supremely succeeded in climbing to what he probably thought was the top of the ladder…only to find it was up against the wrong wall! And then to find his ladder didn’t even go to the “top” — he has at least five layers of institutional power plus the secret societies telling him what to do.”

Thus, at least in the last 14 years and despite four presidential elections and seven Congressional elections, things have considerably worsened with the two party political duopoly.  If we don’t radically alter this soon, it will certainly destroy us because things only get worse with each election.  If nothing changes, conditions will almost certainly get worse in the elections of 2014 and 2016.  Millions will continue to be unemployed or grossly underemployed, many more will be impoverished, prospects for our youth will worsen, income/wealth inequities will increase and our confidence in our government will be nearly zero. Our war mongering imperialism will go on and on.

It is worth mentioning here that nearly 90% of incumbents were returned to elected office in the House and Senate in 2012.  And, of  course, Obama was easily reelected with the aid of a few billion dollars. But there is one particular thing that has happened; corporate money spent for lobbying and campaign contributions have increased dramatically!  There are as many or more millionaires in Congress as we have ever had.  Only the very wealthy or those with access to money can afford to run for office. Congress is essentially 100% dominated by one of the two political parties.The only  signicant “independent” in Congress is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Other political parties have obstacles to getting on ballots and extreme difficulty in  mounting meaningful candidates for office because of the money that has to be spent for media exposure. Corporations control the media which support the two party system because that’s where the money is.  Our political system is a tightly controlled DUOPOLY, and antitrust laws prohibit that in the private sector.  Laws that apply to us don’t apply to the elite elected officials because they are the ones who make the laws!    As Chris Hedges spoke eloquently in an interview lately, we no longer have the Rule of Law in this country. That provides an open door for members of Congress, in particular, and even members of the Executive Branch to be completely “owned” and controlled by corporations and the wealthy who now have no limits on the amount they can spend on a candidate, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision. We have effectively made bribery  legal and corporations and the wealthy are encouraged to participate. It’s a guarantee for total corruption in the U.S. government and that is what we have achieved.  Our political system has been trying to drive us toward financial bankruptcy and it has happened, in large part, because of moral bankruptcy.

A government coup has been underway for some time and corporate fascism coupled with a drive toward totalitarianism has begun to dominate every aspect of our lives.  We must demolish the two party political duopoly and it must begin now or it will occur violently.  John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”  Thomas Jefferson said, God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.” (From the “Tree of Liberty”).

Political parties did not exist in 1789. George Washington despised the idea of political associations, formed in such a way as to pit one group of citizens against another. In his farewell speech in 1796 he said:  “All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They [political parties] serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.”

I am strongly inclined to believe this of our current  political parties: Both the Republican and the Democratic parties are totally controlled by corporations—corporate fascists—who “own” most of our elected representatives.  Unlimited money in politics from lobbying and from campaign contributions have assured that.  Corporations often literally write the laws which representatives then present and advocate.  They always defer to “experts” on the subjects. In the past this was referred to as bribery, but it is now standard accepted practice.  There is often no disclosure of who is doing the dirty work. 

Under Obama, we have learned clearly that his role in representing the Corporatists is to appease his supporters with his speech and to agree to “compromise” with Republicans, giving them essentially everything they demand. This is then labeled “bipartisanship.” Obama is applauded for his support for the Middle Class when all that’s been done is to move the country further to the right and reward the 1% and the corporations even further. The Democrats boast on how much they are doing for the “people” while all of the time offering socially distracting rhetoric. This has been going on now for many, many years by a deceptive and dishonest party which calls itself “Democratic”.  The Republicans are mean spirited and admit their evilness. But this  “cooperative effort” accounts for the extreme income/wealth inequities that have been created.  The Democrats keep providing the cover for the Republicans to do their dirty work.  We have only one political party and we might call it the Corporate Fascist Party; it is, in effect,  a monopoly disguised as a two party duopoly! I particularly like the description  given  by Peter Camejo in 2004:  ” For over 130 years the two major parties have been extremely effective in preventing the emergence of any mass political formations that challenge their political monopoly. Most attempts to build political alternatives have been efforts to represent the interests of the average person, the working people. These efforts have been unable to develop. Both major parties have been dominated by moneyed interests and today reflect the historic period of corporate rule. In this sense United States history has been different from that of any other advanced industrial nation. In all other countries multi-party systems have appeared and to one degree or another they have more democratic electoral laws and more representation has existed. In almost all other cases political parties ostensibly based on or promoting the interest of non-corporate sectors such as working people exist.”  

There is an ongoing debate about “when” things got this bad but it is traceable at least to the mid 1980′s prior to the Clinton administration.  The Democratic  Leadership Council (DLC) which was the policy arm of the Democratic Party made a commitment then to go after corporate support to compete with the Republican Party.

Here is what was reported  about an interview with Thomas Frank, author of  “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” in 2006!

“In the concluding chapter of “Kansas,” Frank assigns “a large part of the blame for the backlash phenomenon” to the “criminal stupidity” of the Democratic Party in abandoning its commitment to labor and economic justice in pursuit of white-collar votes and corporate contributions. The DLC in particular, he writes, thinks that “to collect the votes and — more important — the money of these coveted constituencies,” Democrats must stand firm on issues like abortion rights while making “endless concessions on economic issues” such as NAFTA, welfare, privatization and deregulation. The result? Democrats become Tweedledum to the Republicans’ Tweedledee on the laissez-faire economy, leaving their opponents free to woo blue-collar voters with backlash issues.”  This article goes on to ask:  “Has the DLC taken economic issues off the table? “Of course they haven’t taken them off the table — they’ve just become Republicans.”

We all should know by now that the impact of Clinton policies in the 1990′s have been disastr0us to our economy.  Specifically,  NAFTA and related trade agreements have led to huge exportation of jobs.  Ending “welfare as we know it” has led to large increases in poverty.  Repeal of Glass-Steagall in regulating the banks led directly to the 2008 crash and great recession. The Democratic Party has proven it is just another faction of the Corporatist Party which controls our political system. As I described  in a blog  in July 2013, Barack Obama has taken it to another level preparing the country for a complete corporate fascist, totalitarian nation.  We are near the edge of a point of no return.  Jill Dalton describes this well in her Ebook of September 2012.Is It Fascism Yet

As Chris Hedges describes in this talk given in early December this year, “The Country is Decaying at an Alarming Rate.”  It’s been far too long for the people to remain quiet and lethargic any longer!  It’s time to create an army of activists and declare war on the two factions who control and operate the political system!  Here are some suggestions for things you can do right now!

Starting the Process of Ending the Two Party Duopoly

I have no illusion that this will be a difficult task, primarily because the corporations which continue to support and fund the duopoly want to retain it.  The two political parties want to retain it and they are both supported by the corporate media.  So it will be the people versus the system—the status quo.  But I also have no doubts it has to be done.  So I will start with some suggestions and invite others to join in.

1. First, we must stop our support for Both parties!  That means no more supporting candidates who run with those labels for any national office including the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Presidency.  We will either boycott the elections (which I think is the least effective way) or support candidates from other political parties.  It also means we won’t spend any money supporting these candidates and we let them know in advance.

 2.  Secondly, we need to provide increased support for non profits and organizations fighting for specific causes, including those which support social justice, economic justice, full employment, organization of workers, environmental causes, universal affordable healthcare, etc.  Out of a coalition of these organizations some leaders will emerge which may represent third parties on a broad range of issues.  I will describe this in a moment. 

You may object by saying well this will open the floodgates for the corporations to come in and fill the “vacuum.”  The corporations are already there; it is delusional to think you can have any significant impact on the two political parties by withholding support and funding.  You can better use your time exposing the corporations for what they are doing and direct economic boycotts against them!  Support alternative media including investigative journalists who do not work for any corporate media!! And support and encourage more whistle blowers who expose our government’s wrong doing.

3. Thirdly,  we need to focus more time working on causes and  governmental concerns closer to home (including your state), such as social and economic issues: poverty, food and housing, education, transportation, public safety, environmental matters, etc.  Consider becoming active in local political matters if you are not already involved but attempt to steer clear of the two party trap.

An organization worthy of note today is called Popular Resistance and here is their website and newsletter. Their process diagram for building an effective resistance movement shown here is very useful.  Popular resistance movement Calling for the end of the two party duopoly has been done before, of course.  This article in Fire Dog Lake by the Electoral Reform Coalition is notable.  Of course, Ralph Nader has been trying to mount an effort for this purpose for years by running on a “third party” ticket.  But the duopoly has squashed every attempt as soon as they can, often by convincing the public that they are wasting their time and their “vote”.  Roots Action has just had a press release that addresses a Budget for People, Peace and Planet.  

These various action strategies require that you become more involved in making this change occur.  It will take time and dedication away from your computer, your home, etc. and out of your comfort zone.  You will experience conflict but deal with it confidently.  Emphasize the positive outcomes which will be recognized.

Model for a Progressive Network Organization/Network

A Unified Progressive Movement:  Periodic efforts have made to create and launch “third party” efforts by small groups around the nation but few achieve any kind of significant national recognition.  The Green Party has made a gallant effort but generally fails to get more than a fraction of the national vote in presidential elections though  their platform is appealing to many of us.  In order to mount a significant challenge by a progressive movement, I believe a coalition of organizations must agree to cooperate to represent common values.  This requires both a suppression of individual egos and a willingness to work together on common causes. 

Examples of those are:  1)  Demanding that we significantly diminish our war mongering imperialism around the world in the name of “national defense, support for democracy, and humanitarianism”.  We all know what a smoke screen that has provided for justifying every intervention and invasion our leaders in government have tried. 2)  Demanding that the defense budget be decreased and that those funds be allocated to domestic needs.  3)  Demanding that the government play a real role in education and employment.  4)  Demanding that we address the income/wealth inequities that have been created from the tax reductions and tax loop holes for the wealthy and the corporations. 5)  Demanding that we address poverty and hunger in this country. 6) Demanding that we address the problems that have been created from our continued dependence upon fossil fuels and the resulting climate crisis.  In effect, demanding that we emphasize “human” needs and values, not the values of simply power and money which currently motivate and drive America’s dying political system.

A sample diagram of the network proposed where organizations will regularly communicate with one another and work on common priorities and projects is shown.  The internet and social media will be a primary tool to strengthen the network.  New leadership will emerge from that rather than depending upon the political process to recycle the same old stuff and people.  This requires that the leadership of these organizations suppress some individual egos and begin to COOPERATE! This isn’t intended to be all encompassing but rather to offer an additional prompt for vigorous discussion and ideas and to encourage individual and organizational efforts to make a difference.

Unified Progressive Movement Diagram--Export

Copyright 2013, Thomas Baldwin.

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Price per kilowatt of Kemper plant stretches credulity by Wyatt Emmerich

Wyatt nemmerich--photo 2Republished here by permission of Wyatt Emmerich.

By  Wyatt Emmerich (Published about October 3, 2013

The Kemper power plant is 20 times more expensive per kilowatt than five natural gas plants recently acquired by Entergy and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Imagine being forced to pay $70 for a gallon of gas from a government-sanctioned monopoly. That’s Kemper, the most expensive construction project in the history of Mississippi.

Last month, TVA spent $400 million to purchase a 774-megawatt natural gas plant in Southhaven.

Compare this to Kemper, which has cost $5 billion for a 500-megawatt lignite plant.

Kemper is 50 percent less power for 10 times the money. No amount of spin can hide that.

TVA’s price per kilowatt was similar to Entergy’s 2012 purchase of two natural gas plants: a 450-megawatt plant here in Jackson for $246 million and a 620-megawatt plant in Hot Springs for $277 million.

In 2010, Entergy paid $300 million for a 580-megawatt natural gas power plant in Eunice, La. Last year, TVA paid $436 million for the 968-megawatt Magnolia gas plant in Benton County, Mississippi.

Kilowatts per dollar, the Kemper power plant is about 20 times more expensive than the five natural gas plants recently purchased by Entergy and TVA.

Paying 20 times more per kilowatt is bound to raise rates for the one-third of Mississippians who must buy electricity from Mississippi Power Company (MPC).

Already a 22-percent rate increase is being implemented. Many Kemper critics believe rates will eventually go up 60 percent.

Even before Kemper rate hikes are implemented, MPC rates are 40 percent higher than either TVA or Entergy. According to the federal government’s Energy Information Agency, Entergy charges $8.38 per kilowatt hour. TVA charges $7.90 and  Mississippi Power charges $11.40.

If Southern Company succeeds in getting Mississippi ratepayers to pay for Kemper, MPC rates could end up twice as high as Entergy or TVA rates. That’s an extra $500 million annual electricity tax on the residents of southeast Mississippi.

Kemper is being built by MPC, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company. Southern does $17 billion a year in sales, which makes it one of the biggest utility companies in the world.

MPC, Entergy and TVA all sell about a billion dollars a year of electricity in Mississippi. They do not compete against each other. Each has a monopoly on electricity in their section of the state.

The Republicans who have supported Kemper lockstep wouldn’t be caught dead raising taxes that much.  Yet a mandatory rate increase imposed by a monopoly works just like a tax. Kemper is basically a huge tax increase imposed by the Republican Party on one-third of the households of Mississippi.

State law 77-3-33 states: “No rate made, deposit or service charge demanded or received by any public utility shall exceed that which is just and reasonable.”

Unless MPC’s electricity has some special quality that makes it superior to TVA’s or Entergy’s electricity, then the numbers speak for themselves. MPC’s rates are not “just and reasonable” and should not be allowed.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is supposed to be a watchdog agency to protect consumers and keep rates low. Instead, the PSC has become a governmental central planning commission and it’s doing about as well as all central planning commissions do.

Clarke Reed, one of the deans of the Mississippi Republican Party, is in a state of shock. He is working furiously to get the Republican leadership to stop this disaster. Reed worked for decades to bring Republicans to power in Mississippi. He sees Kemper wiping out his life’s work in one fell swoop.

It gets even worse: Natural gas is a proven technology. The Kemper plant is experimental. Lignite gasification has never been done in the history of the world. The Wall Street Journal recently did a feature story on the failure of gasification technology as an alternative energy.

Coal gasification has been around for decades. When Hitler ran out of gas at the end of World War II, he gasified coal.

Since then, coal gasification has never gotten off the runway. There are only two gasification plants in the world, both are much smaller than Kemper and use coal.

kemper plant--Sierra Club photo from webLignite has one-fifth the carbon content of coal, so gasifying lignite is even more of a challenge. It is, in essence, heavy wet dirt. Something in between coal and peat.

To gasify lignite, Southern has a new patented technology called TRIG, which has never been proven on an industrial scale. It has only worked in small-scale experiments, 100 times smaller than the Kemper plant. As an industrial rule of thumb, the maximum you can scale up experimental results to a manufacturing process is seven times. Past that, the unexpected results — like huge unanticipated cost overruns.

It gets even worse. Gasification is a chemical process. Southern has never built a chemical plant.

There’s an old saying: Pioneers get arrows in their backs. So far, that’s turning out to be true. The first cost estimate for Kemper was $1.2 billion. Now the cost is $5 billion and climbing. Southern just announced $500 million in cost overruns because they put in the wrong size pipe.

Given the incredible cost overruns, why anybody thinks this plant will meet its ambitious operation projections is a complete mystery to me. Not only has it cost 20 times more than a natural gas plant, I predict it will cost far more to operate year in and year out.

No bank would ever finance Kemper. So the Mississippi state Legislature, in its wisdom, passed “the baseload act” which allows Southern to raise residential electricity bills before the plant produces a single kilowatt.

Under the baseload act, Mississippi homeowners could be charged for Kemper even if it totally fails. That would be $25,000 per customer.

At the $25,000 per customer cost of Kemper, every one of Southern’s 186,000 customers could have installed rooftop solar panels and cut their electric bill in half. Instead, we have a 22-percent rate increase before the plant is even producing electricity.

This January the state Legislature allowed Southern to issue a billion dollars in bonds to pay for Kemper cost overruns. Securing those bonds are the homes of the ratepayers.

Tom Blanton, a Hattiesburg oil man, is outraged by this. He has spent thousands of his own money filing suit against Southern. His lawsuit argues the baseload act is a violation of the “takings clause” of the federal and state constitutions.

Blanton’s lawsuit asserts that the PSC only has the power to set the price of electricity. In Kemper’s case, ratepayers are being charged  for electricity they have yet to receive. You can’t just take somebody’s money without due process. The Mississippi Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this fall.

Two years ago, the Mississippi Supreme Court rescinded the Kemper construction permit stating there was not “substantial evidence” justifying its construction.  A few billion dollars more makes its justification presumably even more difficult.

Meanwhile, the pro-Kemper faction has mounted a PR blitz with radio ads blasting Kemper dissidents Kelley Williams and Ashby Foote.

The attack group is called JobKeeper Alliance. There is no way to trace the money behind it, but you can make a pretty good guess. We know JobKeeper is allied with the Alabama unions who want to protect their Kemper construction jobs.

Once Kemper is built those Alabama union members will be long gone while the bill will be with Mississippi ratepayers for the next 40 years.

It’s interesting to note the pro Kemper folks aren’t disputing the facts. Instead, they are attacking the messenger, Bigger Pie, saying it received state money over a decade ago.

So what? Lots of nonprofits get government grants. Nothing new or shocking there.

Bigger Pie is an offshoot of the Institute for Technology Development (ITD), which Williams heads. ITD is an independent non-profit with its own board. It can do what it wants. ITD is audited annually.

Fighting crony capitalism is a great cause and certainly one which will help Mississippi’s economic development. Excessive energy costs will stifle industrial development for years to come.

It is unprecedented for a $17-billion utility monopoly to mount a media attack against two private individuals. To claim Foote is in cahoots with the natural gas business because he’s a stockbroker is laughable, to say the least.

The professionals behind this media barrage are well known in Alabama circles for being “black ops” pros who employ vicious tactics. It’s a smokescreen. When you have no defense, try offense.

By exposing the Kemper boondoggle, Bigger Pie has already saved Mississippians a billion dollars. That’s how much of Kemper Southern has written off as a loss rather than pass along to the ratepayers.

Kemper will be built. Whether it can operate as designed is doubtful. Regardless, the full $5,000,000,000 cost of Kemper should be paid by Southern’s 500,000 shareholders, not Mississippi’s 186,000 ratepayers. There’s plenty of time and opportunity to do that if Mississippi’s Republican leaders have the best interest of our state at heart.

- See more at: http://www.northsidesun.com/content/price-kilowatt-kemper-plant-stretches-credulity#sthash.lbar4QmJ.dpuf

 

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Why Barry Can’t Lead; The Emperor Has No Clothes

Obama as King of the AshesObama’s Push to Create  a Fascist  Nation

by Thomas Baldwin, Biloxi, MS,  

July 3, 2013

“In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell

 

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”— Nelson Mandela

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”— Peter Drucker

“When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’”—Lao Tzu

“Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”—Stephen Covey

Following a successful career in physics for approximately 20 years, I have been a thirty year student, teacher and consultant in the traits and attributes of leadership and team development and the personal characteristics and skills necessary to be effective. Though I have developed courses and tools to help those (primarily) in companies to improve their effectiveness, I have often used the publications of others and personal experiences to serve as my guide or “mentors”. One of the most powerful of those authors for me has been Stephen Covey, who made his fame and fortune from the book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. Covey later published several books, but perhaps most noteworthy for this subject, “Principle Centered Leadership”.This brief article will focus on what I have learned directly (i.e. clinically) about leadership in the last thirty or more years and will show why Barack Obama does not have the “right stuff”. In fact, I am not only concerned that his lack of leadership ability will lead to a failed presidency but, in fact, a catastrophic failure from which the entire country will greatly suffer.

CHARACTER AND COMPETENCE IN LEADERSHP

I will begin this discussion with a bit of Obama’s history. He is, of course, a dark skinned man who had both white and black parents. His black African father was absent for essentially his entire life. He was raised by his white mother and white grandparents. Though his early adversaries tried to make a legal issue of where he was actually born, they missed the entire major issue. It was never about “nature”; it has always been about “nurture”. Barack Obama has learned to be a “white” man in dark skin. That is the whole history of his existence. He has been plagued with an identity problem. But he first arose to national fame with his book, “Dreams of My Father” (a black African) which sold enormous numbers of copies and provided a platform for his rise to political power. It is also noteworthy that the Democratic Party found this as their “solution” to achieve power again also. They decided this man provided them with  their chance to put a black man in the White House; he also met the requirements of some very rich wealthy elite who knew he could be manipulated. Ralph Nader even spoke up with courage during the 2008 elections stating the fear that Obama would become an “Uncle Tom” for the corporations!

What are the leadership traits that Barack Obama has demonstrated? His background included an education at Harvard Law following earlier education at Occidental College (CA) and Columbia Univ. (NY). There has never been any record published of his performance at those schools but we have been regularly informed that he was President of the Harvard Law Review. We have also been continuously reminded that he was specializing as a Constitutional Lawyer at Harvard. It has been interesting that the Harvard Law School has been notoriously absent in commenting on Obama’s performance in the presidency regarding Constitutional issues. Are nearly all of the members of Harvard Law fearful of speaking out? So much for academic freedom; perhaps they’re most fearful of losing their grants from the federal government and corporate sponsors?

The basic ingredients of effective leadership as identified by Covey and others are CHARACTER and COMPETENCE. For at least three years or more, I have been making careful observations of both of these attributes in Obama. My firm conclusion is that he has serious deficiencies in both. Admitting that these are sometimes hard to separate, I will consider character first. Obama shows almost no real commitment to principles; his continued excuse is that he believes in “compromise”. Although one can easily be deceived by his “talk” one has to watch his “walk”. He does not do what he says he’s going to do and this pattern is habitually repeated.

Some concrete examples were listed here from a recent publication in “Thrive” written by Foster Gamble:  Wealth, domination pyramicIt is testimony to the true hierarchy of power depicted in this pyramid. Whether we believe Obama would have changed things if he could have, or that he was in on this deal from the start, the facts remain the same. Obama is carrying out virtually the same agenda as the Bushes. He kept Gitmo open and continues torture. He’s expanded wars, authorized drones, legalized indefinite incarceration and assassination (NDAA). He condones comprehensive electronic surveillance, IRS bullying and the covert arming of drug cartels (Fast and Furious). He hired architects of the economic implosion—Summers and Geithner—to supposedly fix the damage they themselves helped orchestrate. He hired a top executive from Monsanto, Michael Taylor, to be his “food safety czar” and now Walmart cheerleader, Jason Furman, to be his Chief Economic Advisor.” 

The  reference above to Gamble’s publication also contains an excellent video clip showing Obama now doing the opposite  of what he said he would do in his campaign for the presidency in  2008.  One can add much to this short paragraph above including an expansion of the surveillance of American citizenry with domestic spying of telephone calls and emails, greatly increased prosecution of whistle blowers, the hiring of the CEO of General Electric to do nothing regarding job creation, neglect of serious environmental issues, neglect of serious wealth/income inequities and most of the serious things he addressed or promised during his 2008 campaign.

Obama has been nearly “perfect” in saying one thing and doing almost exactly the opposite or nothing at all. I have previously labeled this as the “Obama Shuffle”–giving a shout to the “left “and jumping to the “right”, a dance step he has perfected. This has led to a greatly increased trust gap as an increasing number of his original loyalists have abandoned their support for him. One of the latest polls shows that only 35% of the population now trust Obama with the greatest decline of nearly 17% occurring with the younger voting age.  Trust in leadership was discussed in this Forbes article published last year.

John McGarry--Yes We  ScanThus, Obama has shown an enormous character deficiency. Most recently, he has also been chastised by the President of China, the President of Russia and the Prime Minister of Germany for supporting the abuses of the NSA in their surveillance and spying activities. Merkel even had to remind Obama (the “Constitutional” lawyer) of his duty to protect civil liberties. Recently, Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald made appearances at the 2013 Chicago Socialism Conference and made very pertinent critical comments regarding Obama’s hypocrisy on whistle blower, Edward Snowden, who released information regarding NSA blatant abuses of the Fourth Amendment.  He is also following the same path as George Bush in justifying his international war mongering policies, claiming the possession and use by other countries with their “weapons of mass destruction.” No country posesses more weapons of mass destruction than the U.S. and no one has used more. He has brought shame to the Nobel Peace Prize he received in 2009 and it should be revoked.

His rhetoric has as its objective a method to distract attention from the real problems we face and direct attention to an unknown and unidentified enemy, particularly the “terrorists” who are waiting behind every tree and under every rock. It is, of course, a method of enhancing fear and the use of that characteristic to justify anything Obama and his manipulators want to do. As I have suggested several places, Obama is on a path to create an Orwellian state and put a permanent “Big Brother” in charge. Last October, I published a blog claiming he was engaging his “Weapons of Mass Distraction” and also creating an Orwellian nation.

The other major leadership characteristic Obama lacks is competence. This clearly overlaps the character factors but specifically includes building relationships with colleagues, choosing competent subordinates, delegating responsibilities, negotiation and conflict resolution skills, communicating clear objectives, measuring and reporting accurate and truthful facts and data, etc. Obama has continually demonstrated major deficiencies in all of these. Several have written about his inability to personally relate to key members of Congress even by failing to meet with them. He has demonstrated his inability to understand what “compromise” means in negotiations and has habitually capitulated or acquiesced in important matters rather than stick with principles which he had previously enunciated. This has been the case in both domestic and international affairs. He not only fails to take responsibility himself for any mistakes but fails to hold his subordinates responsible, claiming instead limited or no knowledge of mishaps.

His failure to acknowledge whether the objectives in the solutions to problems were met or not is legendary. As one specific example, witness the provisions of Obamacare which because of serious deficiencies in the law will almost certainly not meet the needs of people for “universal” coverage at affordable rates and limit cost increases of health coverage. Obamacare was a gift to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries; there was no public option designed to provide competition.  From the nymag.com on July  3 (as this blog goes to press again):  “Yesterday evening, the Obama administration announced that it will delay for one year the “employer mandate,” which is the penalty on businesses with 50 or more employees who don’t provide insurance to their workforce. Naturally, this reactivated the Obamacare Train Wreck Doomsaying chorus.”

Some have even anticipated that a “train wreck” is on its way in 2014 and Obama and his advisors are undoubtedly writing the script to deny responsibility. Some large private companies are designing ways to shift more healthcare costs to the government (e.g. though Medicaid) by limiting employment to more part time employees and reducing their wages. This is effectively a way to increase the numbers of the working poor and remove people from the numbers of unemployed. A majority of the public appear to intuit or sense that there is a serious impending crisis ahead without even knowing the details of what is coming. Obama has done little or nothing to reassure the public. He only continues to pat himself on the back for producing a piece of crap and the Democratic Party cheers him on. 

What are the observable consequences of a failed presidency described above? The primary one in the political and socioeconomic sectors is a great enhancement toward the creation of aIs It Fascism Yet totalitarian, fascist nation which is totally controlled by the big banks and corporate power. We clearly do not have any semblance of a representative democratic republic. Several authors have written about the dominant combination of corporate fascism and imperialism in recent months including Chris Hedges, Ralph Nader, John Pilger, Finian Cunningham and others.  The image included here is from an Ebook by Jill Dalton.  Obama has clearly enabled and supported these forces of corporate fascism.  As a result, we clearly do not have any semblance left of a representative democratic republic.  That is exhibited by a poll recently reported showing only 35% of the public trusting him and Congress receiving the lowest favorability rating in history of only 10%. As pointed out by pollsters, dictators in countries where we have removed the leaders through regime change have rated higher!

For several years, people have been describing our government in Washington as being dysfunctional. But that word is no longer adequate; it is on the way of becoming defunct (dead). Rampant fascism is like a spreading cancer; it is now near Stage IV in this country and without radical surgery Uncle Sam won’t survive. The creation of a Fourth Reich is well underway. That is a direct result of extremely poor leadership unlike what we’ve had from leaders periodically in our history before. In 1936 during the recovery from the Great Depression, FDR spoke out strongly against the fascist forces in this nation at a time when at least two countries in Europe were embracing it. 

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group.”–Franklin D. Roosevelt

And Obama is directly responsible for eroding our civil liberties through such acts as NDAA (indefinite detention), NSA spying, Drone attacks that even have killed Americans, etc. These are necessary measures to further the enhancement of a fascist nation. Perhaps soon he will be requesting that we will high step march in boots to salute him by shouting Sieg Heil.

When I was teaching a leadership class for adults about five years ago at the Stennis Space Center (MS), I used Obama as an example of a good leader purely based upon his speeches. I made a horrible mistake in judgment. I owe my students a sincere apology; I won’t easily make that mistake again. A person doing what they say they are going to do is a primary factor in building trust and necessary for a good leader. I no longer trust ANYTHING that Barack Obama says he is going to do.  Some of my friends have told me that they cannot even stand to hear him speak any longer.  As I said at the time of the 2010 midterm elections, I would not buy a used car from this man. In an article recently published, James Petras refers to Obama as the Master Con-man. Obama is totally unfit as a presidential leader and he has earned a great big “F” in my “leadership class”; the “incomplete” has been long removed!

The two party political duopoly has shown us clearly that Barack  Obama is the “best” they can do in the electoral process even after spending billions of dollars.  Isn’t it about time a majority in this country reject these two parties and recognize they are both incompetent and corrupt?  Isn’t it about  time we recognize nothing is going to change unless we commit to this?  Isn’t it about time we accept the fact that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a definition of INSANITY?  Isn’IIsn couldn’t have saidthe this btheetter.ell at ecomonimeconoecoof the ct is testimony to the true hierarchy of power depicted in the pyramid above. Whether we believe he would have changed things if he could have, or that he was in on this deal from the start, the facts remain the same. Obama is carrying out virtually the same agenda as the Bushes. He kept Gitmo open and continues torture. He’s expanded wars, of the drones, legalized indefinitehe incarceration and assassination (NDAA). He condones comprehensive electronic surveillance, IRS b

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PSC COMMISSIONER PRESLEY SLAMS MISS. POWER CO.

http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013306040017  FROM THE CLARION LEDGER.COM

But project, he says, ‘past point of no return’

Jun. 3, 2013   4 Comments 

Written by Geoff Pender
  • Brandon Presley, Public Service Commissioner

Brandon Pressley 

 Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley on Monday blasted Mississippi Power’s embattled and over-budget Kemper County coal plant, but noted the $4.3 billion project is “past the point of no return” and “too big to fail.” 

The decision has been made, and the train is on the track,” Northern District Commissioner Presley said. “I feel for those 185,000 customers on the Coast that are going to have to pay for this. Let’s hope it works.”

Presley spoke at the Stennis Institute of Government’s monthly press luncheon on Monday. Presley has often been the lone dissenting vote on the three-member commission as it has granted various approval for the “clean-coal” plant the company is building in Kemper County. The company had originally pledged to build the plant — much of which rate payers will finance — for $2.4 billion.

This is the greatest transfer of wealth from customers to a monopoly in the history of the state of Mississippi,” Presley said. “Where are all these so-called conservatives on that?”

The PSC this year approved a 15 percent rate increase for Mississippi Power customers to finance the plant, to be followed by a 3 percent increase next year. The company is expected to seek another 2 percent to 4 percent increase later.

Last month saw the abrupt departure of Mississippi Power’s president and a vice president shortly after the PSC learned documents about cost overruns were withheld. The company announced it was another $540 million over budget, but said shareholders of its parent, Southern Co. would cover those costs.

The state Legislature this year approved a bill allowing Mississippi Power to sell up to $1 billion in bonds for overruns.

Mississippi Power spokesman Jeff Shepard, in a written statement on Monday said: “Mississippi Power believes the Kemper County energy facility remains the best option to ensure clean, safe, reliable energy for our customers at a stable price for decades to come. … the company had a specific need for an additional baseload unit — a plant that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. … The project is a massive pioneer effort on the cutting edge of technology and is expected to offer significant long-term benefits to customers. We have worked hard to minimize the rate impact to our customers and we will continue to work with the PSC and provide any and all information they request as we continue the construction of this state-of-the-art facility.”

(Page 2 of 2) 

Presley said he is unchanged in his belief that the plant was too ambitious for the company, and the technology untried. But power company and other state officials have said Mississippi Power needs to diversify its sources of energy and not be too dependent on natural gas.

Duke Energy is building a similar plant in Indiana. That plant, too, has seen delays and cost overruns, inflating its price from $1.9 billion to $3.5 billion, part of which ratepayers will cover with their utility bills.

Presley said that early on, former Gov. Haley Barbour, Gov. Phil Bryant and other conservative state leaders lobbied hard for approval of the plant.

Elected officials were saying, ‘Please pass this plant,’” Presley said. “But then they’ve been lockjawed and mute on the impact it’s having on the family budget and the small business budget. … I am just blown away by so-called conservative groups saying it’s OK to raise people’s utility rates. If there was a 20-percent increase in property taxes, they would be marching in the streets.

What’s awful and outrageous is a senior citizen on the Coast having to split a pill in half so they can pay their power bill,” Presley said. “This is an area already hit by Katrina and the BP oil spill.”

They want their monopoly status, but don’t want any, any, any responsibility to the rate-paying public … If this was such a wonderful idea, why didn’t they go to Wall Street and get the money instead of asking little old ladies and small businesses to put up the money?”

 

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RAMPANT CORPORATE FASCISM IN MISSISSIPPI WITH “THE GREAT KEMPER DEBACLE”

Clean coal image 1--schoolsThe blog focuses on several articles which have been published in the last two months on what I have come to call, “The Great Kemper “Clean Coal” Debacle.   It has been called other names like a “boondoggle”, a scam, a theft, etc.  But it is going to be an impending disaster for the State of Mississippi and I give that at least an 80% probability.  It will take a miracle for that to change.

But it is also a prime example of Corporate Fascism at work.  That’s when a corporation or a group of corporations also “merge” with the government and take control.  In this case, the primary culprit is the Southern Co. which is the owner of Miss. Power.  What they have tried to do is to buy the executive and legislative branches of the Mississippi Government, and its agencies, to authorize a totally unwise expenditure and charge it to the citizenry (rate payers) even before there is ample proof that this is prudent. And Miss. Power is, of course, a regulated monopoly.  Have you ever tried to buy your electricity from another supplier?   It is not unlike being controlled by a mafia ring and  the primary mafioso members are the CEO of the Southern Co. Tom Fanniing and the CEO of Miss. Power, Ed Day.

The way corporate fascism succeeds is that it also gains control of the media.  In this case, Miss. Power has shown clearly that it has control of the Sun Herald, the major newspaper in So. MS and WLOX, the major TV station. How does that work?  It’s simple;  you just fork over the dollars.  It’s exactly the way they have worked with the executive and legislative branches.

These articles are from the “alternate”, non corporate media for the most part though there are other publications outside of So. MS which have also made reports.  I have focused on two outstanding publications, Emmerich Newspapers (Northside Sun) and a blog site, Bigger Pie Forum.  These two are fearless in this matter and present objective views of what is happening even though the environmental aspects of this enormous debacle are not adequately presented.  Why won’t these articles appear locally?  Because of what I said in the paragraph above! It’s basically the same reason they won’t touch the blogs I have been writing for at least 18 months or even some “Letters to the Editors”.

Thomas Baldwin,  Biloxi, MS

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Court rules in favor of Bigger Pie public records request

Complete article: http://www.biggerpieforum.org/blog/court-rules-favor-bigger-pie-public-records-request 

 
Posted by Amy McCullough on April 19, 2013

UPDATE APRIL 22: Hearing on Bigger Pie Forum’s contempt motion is 9 a.m. tomorrow, April 23 in Hinds County Chancery Court, 316 S. President St., Jackson, Miss. in Judge Dewayne Thomas’ court room.

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Hinds County Chancery Court has ruled that the Mississippi Public Service Commission must give Bigger Pie Forum records related to the Kemper County clean coal plant.

>> Read the judge’s order here.

The Mississippi Public Service Commission has failed to comply with the order from Chancellor Dewayne Thomas.

In July 2012, Bigger Pie Forum filed a public records request with the Commission requesting records containing Mississippi Power Company’s 2009 natural gas price forecasts that were used to economically justify the company’s $3-billion clean coal plant under construction in Kemper County. The case was heard in September.

Miss. Public Service Commission fails to comply with court order

http://proactvoice.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/cororate-fascism-in-ms-cost-of-kemper-power-plant-keeps-growing/

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Cost of Kemper power plant keeps growing

Wyatt Emerich photoFROM THE DELTA DEMOCRAT TIMES—4-21-2013

Wyatt Emmerich

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013 12:00 am

While Mississippi Power was building the $4 billion Kemper coal plant, Entergy bought a natural gas plant for $250 million — one twelfth the cost per kilowatt. 

Last year, South Mississippi Electric Power Association purchased an 837 megawatt 12-year-old gas plant in Batesville for $286 million. Per kilowatt, the Kemper plant is 19 times more expensive than the Batesville gas plant.

Natural gas plants are proven technology. The Kemper lignite gasification plant uses a new technology that has never been applied on a commercial scale. 

Mississippi Power and its regulatory agency, the Mississippi Public Service Commission, have made a huge bet that natural gas priceswill rise. So far, the opposite has happened. This bad decision could cost 356,000 households in our state an extra $580 a year on their power bill. If Kemper doesn’t meet its rosy operating projections, the price tag could easily be a thousand dollars per household per year. 

According to its 2011 annual report, Mississippi Power has 3.2 gigawatts, of generating capacity without Kemper. The average daily need is 1.7 gigawatts and the all-time peak is 2.9. In addition, Mississippi Power can always buy electricity from other power plants for less than it costs to produce from its own plants. So why was Kemper needed?  Mississippi Power states in its annual report that its old coal plants can be retrofitted with scrubbers for $330 million and be EPA compliant. Why not do that instead?

Continued at link posted  above and here:

http://proactvoice.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/cororate-fascism-in-ms-cost-of-kemper-power-plant-keeps-growing/

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http://www.biggerpieforum.org/op-ed/mississippi%E2%80%99s-psc-not-looking-out-mississippians

 Mississippi’s PSC is not looking out for Mississippians

By Wyatt Emmerich,

President, Northside Sun Newspaper

I attended my first Public Service Commission (PSC) hearing last week. I was not impressed.

Because power companies have monopolies, the PSC Is there to protect the consumer. But that’s not what I witnessed. Instead, PSC commissioner Leonard Bentz seemed irritated at some of the citizens who showed up to protest the new rate hikes precipitated by the new $3.7 billion Kemper lignite plant.

Bentz started the meeting by complaining about “misinformation” published by various reporters and columnists. I guess that includes me.

During a break, I approached Bentz, gave him my card and told him I would be happy to meet with him to straighten out any misinformation. I was not warmly received.

I can certainly understand the pressure Bentz feels. It would make me testy as well. But what about the 300,000 or so utility customers who will soon see a 25 percent increase in their utility bills?

Bentz takes issue with Sierra Club reports indicating rates will eventually go up 60 percent or more. He pointed out that the rate increase is 25 percent, not 60 percent. Regarding this first rate increase, he is correct. But who said this will be the last? It could well be the first of many.

The question is, why are rates going up at all? As a businessman, I buy new equipment to lower my cost of production, not raise it. I don’t recall any brownouts in Southeast Mississippi. So why was this plant built in the first place?

The tab for the new plant is $3.7 billion and rising rapidly. The total number of customers served by the plant is about 300,000 – about a fourth of the state. That comes to $12,000 per utility customer on average. The interest and principal to pay that off over 20 years could easily top $1,000 per year per customer. That’s why tensions are running high. …

The Southern Company will be looking to its Mississippi customers to pay for the cost of the plant, sooner or later.

There is something very wrong when a company making $3.75 billion in operating profit can force utility customers in the poorest state to pay for an experimental $3.7 billion power plant that isn’t even needed. …

A full-scale natural gas plant would have cost one-sixth as much and produced 50 percent more electricity.

Any private company would have pulled the plug long ago. But that’s not how it works in the world of a regulated monopoly. Instead, the Southern Company will spend millions to lobby influential government officials and make Mississippi’s families swallow a huge increase in their monthly power bills. This is the very thing the PSC was designed to prevent. Instead, the commission is enabling it. …

I have written about this misguided project for years now. Never once has anyone from Southern or the PSC disputed my facts or attempted to show me the light. I hope to meet with Southern Company officials in the near future and visit the plant. Nothing would make me happier than to discover I am completely wrong, for I feel sad that this economic albatross is going to be around the neck of my beloved state for the next 40 years. This is 72 times the size of the beef plant.

I recall taking a government course in college about how regulatory agencies end up getting cooped and manipulated by the very industries they are supposed to regulate. As far as I can tell, this is precisely what has happened here. Monopolies are simply bad for society. Don’t try to regulate them. Break them up and allow consumers choice. Given a choice of electricity providers, I seriously doubt many Mississippi utility customers would have chosen the one with the highest price – even if it is bleeding edge technology.

A longer version of this editorial appeared in the Northside Sun and other newspapers. Read the full version here.

Wyatt Emmerich can be reached at wyatt@northsidesun.com

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http://www.biggerpieforum.org/op-ed/kemper-coal-plant-will-have-everyday-high-priced-electricity  

The Kemper coal plant will have everyday high-priced electricity

By Ashby M. Foote III
Bigger Pie Forum board president

This is an excerpt from the full version of this editorial which ran in The Clarion-Ledger on March 30, 2013.

You may have missed it but Mississippi Power (MP), the electric utility serving 23 counties in Southeast Mississippi, recently posted a blockbuster 57% increase in earnings for 2012. Headlines for this newsworthy item were hard to find, one had to dig to page II-359 ofSouthern Company’s (MP’s parent company) annual 10K filing with the S.E.C. to find the report. So just how good was 57% earnings growth in the lackluster economy of 2012? It was better than 95% of the companies in the S&P 500 index and better than all but one of the 33 U.S. publicly traded electric utilities. Or consider the premier growth company Wal-Mart, in 2012 they grew earnings by just 12% on sales growth of 5%. In short, +57% is the type profit growth that keeps Wall Street types drooling.

Even more amazing is that MP achieved this $54 million increase in profits in a year where they sold fewer kilowatt hours (kWh) and saw total revenues fall by 6.9%. Huh? Anyone who has ever run a lemonade stand is probably asking, “How do you increase profits by $54 million when production and sales are declining?” That is an important question. (Continued at link above)

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FROM  NORTHSIDE SUN,  MARCH 12, 2013

Kemper coal plant will cost our state thousands of jobs

By Rich Sun 

Over the course of a 40-year career in banking and investing, I have rarely seen a project that makes less sense than the lignite mine and gasification plant under construction in Kemper County by Mississippi Power Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company. From the estimates compiled by the Bigger Pie Forum and their engineering consultants, it appears that the gasifier and mine impose about $300 million of unnecessary excess annual costs on the 185,000 families and businesses in the Mississippi Power Company service area, compared to building a standard gas-fired generating plant.

The $300 million is an estimate by outsiders without access to Mississippi Power’s detailed estimates. The actual excess will vary with gas prices, and Kemper’s operating costs and efficiencies ….. Mississippi Power has been unusually opaque in its filings; many of its filings have been confidential and available only to the Public Service Commission and staff. The recent Special Purpose Entity (shell company) bond financing signed by the governor may reduce financing costs by a fraction, but is a bailout of Mississippi Power cost overruns beyond what had been approved by the PSC.

One thing is clear: At the time when Mississippi Power committed to build the mine and gasifier and ever since then, all public independent forecasts of gas prices have shown the mine and gasifier more expensive by far.

Southern has given several reasons for building Kemper; on close examination, none of them appears to justify the excess cost.

Higher taxes paid by Mississippi Power: Southern states that Kemper increases the tax base and tax receipts to the state and local governments from Mississippi Power. All those taxes are paid from ratepayers’ electricity bills.

The portion of construction and operating costs of Kemper that are necessary and prudent – the cost of the turbine electric generator (probably under $1 billion) – increase tax receipts reasonably. Mississippi residents will pay $300 million a year in higher electricity rates for Mississippi Power Company to recover the excess construction costs of the mine and gasifier ($3.8 billion versus $1 billion or less), the operating costs of the mine and gasifier and the taxes on both capital and operating costs.

If I sell you a dollar’s worth of goods for two dollars, you lose the extra dollar and sales tax on the extra dollar. How do you feel about the taxes on the overcharge? That is how you should feel about most of the increase in taxes Southern claims from Kemper.

Jobs: Southern Company has identified about three percent of its shareholders as Mississippi residents (there may be more since some registrations are in “street name”) and a portion of the cost will be spent locally. In any case, the vast majority of that $300 million is going out of state and will be a massive drain on the local economy.

The Kemper plant will employ about 250 workers when in operation, some of whom will be high-skilled workers from out of state. We estimate that job loss in the service area from the $300 million of excess electricity cost could be 5,000 to 15,000 jobs. Using an annual cost per employee of $60,000 (a high number) gives the 5,000 estimate; using the typical multiplier from the primary jobs (and perhaps lower costs per job) produces the 15,000 jobs lost.

So Mississippi gets 250 jobs at Kemper and loses 5,000 to 15,000 jobs: how is that good for Mississippi?

Natural gas price risk: Mississippi Power says building Kemper protects ratepayers from the price volatility of natural gas. Gas does vary in price. But if the cost of power from gas is always lower than from lignite, why pay for lignite?

Southern had the option to start construction of the mine and gasifier at Kemper if natural gas rose enough beyond the forecast levels to make the mine and gasifier economic. There was no need to build it immediately. Hedges could have reduced price increases during the construction period

If Kemper is such a bad idea, why aren’t businesses and local leaders speaking out against Kemper?

First, Mississippi Power has run a superficially effective public relations campaign, including heavy lobbying, commercials and multiple four-color full-page ads touting Kemper’s benefits – citing jobs, taxes and price stability, but has never documented any lower cost electricity compared to building a standard gas fired generating plant.

Second, because utilities usually pass through only legitimate costs, as reviewed and confirmed by the regulators, the business community does not look closely at utilities.

Third, the relevant facts and analysis were not available until recently.

Very few, if any, senior executives of well-run companies would approve a project like Kemper; the risk to their finances and reputation from the high operating and capital costs, and unproven technology would be far too great. They are experts in their own businesses, not so in electrical generation. 

Rich Sun, a Northsider, was an investment banker with Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, UBS and an investor with a global private equity firm backed by the World Bank, AIG, GE and Singapore. He arranged, advised or invested in 100 private transactions valued at over $11 billion, 60 percent of which were in the energy sector. Since 2001, he has been engaged in backing early-stage, high-potential companies.

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Bigger Pie Forum is a discussion platform. Views expressed in this column are the opinions of the author and are not official opinions of the Bigger Pie Forum board or employees. Articles published in February-April 2013.

http://www.biggerpieforum.org/op-ed/kemper

Blog posts in kemper

 

UPDATE APRIL 22: Hearing on Bigger Pie Forum’s contempt motion is 9 a.m. tomorrow, April 23 in Hinds County Chancery Court, 316 S. President St., Jackson, Miss. in Judge Dewayne Thomas’ court room….

Posted by: Amy McCullough on April 19, 2013

Bigger Pie Q&A with Rickey Cole

Rickey Coal is the chairman of Mississippi’s Democratic Party. He is a native of Ovett, Miss. in Southeast Jones County, which…

Posted by: Amy McCullough on April 16, 2013

Bigger Pie Forum Q&A with Clarke Reed

Clarke Reed is one of the founding fathers of Mississippi’s modern Republican Party. Reed, 84, chaired the party for…

Posted by: Amy McCullough on March 28, 2013

State regulators voted to allow Mississippi Power Company to start charging customers for its clean coal power plant under construction in Kemper County, despite the fact the plant won’t be operational until 2014….

Posted by: Amy McCullough on March 6, 2013

Bigger Pie Forum board member, Dr. Charles Grayson, has written a few editorials regarding the Kemper County clean coal plant for the Bigger Pie Forum 

Posted by: Amy McCullough on March 4, 2013

Gov. Phil Bryant has signed two bills Mississippi Power says will allow them to raise rates to pay for the multibillion dollar Kemper County power plant project by about 25 percent, instead of the company…

Posted by: Amy McCullough on February 26, 2013

Public electric utilities, which are allowed monopoly status, are required by state law to provide reliable electricity to customers at the lowest cost possible. Utilities are regulated by the Mississippi Public…

Posted by: Amy McCullough on February 16, 2013

The Associated Press has reported that a bill that would give Mississippi Power Company another $1 billion to fund its Kemper County clean coal plant has been approved by the Senate and sent to Gov. Phil Bryant for a…

Posted by: Amy McCullough on February 14, 2013

The Associated Press has reported:

Mississippi House members have blessed a settlement between the Public Service Commission and Mississippi Power Co. over the…

Posted by: Amy McCullough on February 11, 2013

Senate Bill 2755, the “Mississippi Public Utility Rate Mitigation and Reduction Act,” and its companion,…

Posted by: Amy McCullough on February 4, 2013
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Cororate Fascism in MS: Cost of Kemper power plant keeps growing

biloxi-lighthouse-stamp-25This  is a very important article by Wyatt Emmerich, publisher and owner of Emmerich Newspapers and the Northside Sun.  Louie Miller of the State Sierra Club had first distributed this via email but I just found this version in print with the Delta Democrat Times.  Emmerich has been consistently one of our best allies in presenting the truth.  Isn’t that a contrast we get from our local corporate press, the Sun Herald?  I wonder if the fact that they continually yield to Miss. Power has anything to do with it??  hahahahaha–Thomas Baldwin.

 
 
FROM THE DELTA DEMOCRAT TIMES—4-21-2013
Cost of Kemper power plant keeps growing
 
Wyatt EmmerichWyatt Emmerich
Greg Campbell

Wyatt Emmerich

Greg Campbell
Wyatt Emmerich
Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013 12:00 am
While Mississippi Power was building the $4 billion Kemper coal plant, Entergy bought a natural gas plant for $250 million — one twelfth the cost per kilowatt.
 
Last year, South Mississippi Electric Power Association purchased an 837 megawatt 12-year-old gas plant in Batesville for $286 million. Per kilowatt, the Kemper plant is 19 times more expensive than the Batesville gas plant.
Natural gas plants are proven technology. The Kemper lignite gasification plant uses a new technology that has never been applied on a commercial scale.
 
Mississippi Power and its regulatory agency, the Mississippi Public Service Commission, have made a huge bet that natural gas priceswill rise. So far, the opposite has happened. This bad decision could cost 356,000 households in our state an extra $580 a year on their power bill. If Kemper doesn’t meet its rosy operating projections, the price tag could easily be a thousand dollars per household per year.
 
According to its 2011 annual report, Mississippi Power has 3.2 gigawatts, of generating capacity without Kemper. The average daily need is 1.7 gigawatts and the all-time peak is 2.9. In addition, Mississippi Power can always buy electricity from other power plants for less than it costs to produce from its own plants. So why was Kemper needed?  Mississippi Power states in its annual report that its old coal plants can be retrofitted with scrubbers for $330 million and be EPA compliant. Why not do that instead?
 
MP officials are predicting Kemper will only cost $20 million a year to operate because sales of CO2, ammonia and other by-products will offset operating costs.Two problems here: The rosy forecasts of by-product sales could fail to materialize. And the operating and maintenance costs could well be far in excess of forecasts.For instance, MP projects $27 million a year in maintenance for a plant that cost $4 billion. That’s about half of one percent of the cost of the plant. Not likely for the 40-year life of the plant.
 
From 1990 through 2004, natural gas prices averaged around three dollars. From 2005 to 2008 gas prices suddenly spiked to eight dollars. At that price, the Kemper lignite plant could possibly be competitive with gas. In 2009, natural gas prices dropped back down to historical levels and have stayed there. With fracking, cheap natural gas is projected for years to come.
 
Dozens of coal projects were shelved when the price of natural gas dropped in 2009. The four billion dollar question is why the Kemper plant proceeded with construction — despite the fact that its authorization was under appeal.
As it turns out, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in 2011 against Kemper, throwing Kemper, the PSC and Mississippi Power into disarray. The high court said Kemper’s construction was not supported by “substantial evidence” and remanded its approval back to the PSC.
 
This was a problem. The plant was already under construction. Over a billion had been spent.  What was the rush? Kemper could have been altered to burn natural gas and the coal gasification could have been added later if gas prices did indeed double.Or Southern, Mississippi Power’s parent, could have paid for the chemical plant and kept the by-product sales, leaving Mississippians to pay for the only thing they want — affordable electricity. Southern had $2.35 billion in profit last year.
 
Southern will not release its forecasts of natural gas prices. It’s a trade secret, they say.  Experts are predicting low gas prices for years to come. Even if gas prices double in 10 years, losses in the meantime will make it hard for Kemper to ever break even.
 
Entergy customers pay about a third less for electricity than Mississippi Power customers. And that was before the recent 22.69 percent rate hike approved last month by the PSC to fund Kemper.(Press releases touted the increase as only 12 percent, but my calculations were confirmed by company officials.)
 
Here’s the reality: The bigger the project, the more money Southern makes because they get a guaranteed return on their investment of about 10 percent.
There are huge cost overruns. Three hundred Mississippi contractors are involved, including Mississippi’s Yates Construction as the recently-fired general contractor. Kemper has grown from $1.8 billion to $3.9 billion and rising. The independent auditor for the project concluded in November that Southern “is not utilizing some basic project management and project control tools and techniques that are available and customarily used in the industry for a project of this magnitude.”
 
There is something wrong when millions of Southern Company stockholders can benefit by foisting an experimental technology on the poorest state in the country.
 
That’s why we have a Public Service Commission — to protect the public against the power company’s monopoly. Democrat Brandon Presley voted against Kemper because he didn’t think the technology would work. Such a disaster could cost Mississippi $300 million a year. It would be the beef plant times 80.
 
The other two commissioners, Lynn Posey and Leonard Bentz, Republicans, have supported Kemper lock step. Bentz was appointed by Haley Barbour, whose lobbying firm has received $2.6 million in payments from Southern Company. Getting the picture?
 
At Southern’s annual stockholders meeting, an investment firm raised the issue of political transparency. Southern does not disclose the recipients of its lobbying and political payments. It is in the tens of millions, perhaps more. New U.S. Supreme Court rulings allow companies to contribute an unlimited amount to whomever they please — even a company that depends on public officials for its profitability. For Southern, it has been money well spent.
There has yet to be a final prudency hearing on Kemper. That means it’s not too late for the Mississippi PSC or even the Mississippi Supreme Court to exit this bad deal. Unfortunately, that would require a change of heart of two PSC commissioners.
 
The defense of Kemper by Bentz and Posey rests on one concept — diversification of energy. They fear the volatility of natural gas.
 
There are three problems with this analysis: First, Mississippi Power is already diversified. Forty percent of its power comes from coal already, without Kemper. Second, volatility means natural gas prices can go down, as well as up. Placing a $4 billion dollar bet either way is extremely risky. Third, Bentz and Posey have bet on the wrong side. Gas prices have dropped like a rock and are forecast to remain low for many years to come.
 
Posey and Bentz said Kemper will last 40 years and who knows what will happen over that length of time. Indeed, who knows? That’s why Kemper was profoundly imprudent. It’s time for the PSC to admit it and take remedial action. If not, the Mississippi Supreme Court should do it for them.
 
Wyatt Emmerich is the owner of Emmerich Newspapers.
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