All posts by jamesboyce

175 Chickens in 1 Minute?!

You’d think the USDA would see the flaw of logic in letting the people who make the food inspect the food and decide if it is actually safe to eat.

The USDA has decided in its infinite wisdom, despite pink slime and a few other debacles of the food industry, to test a program allowing chicken companies to check their own livestock and decide whether or not the chickens are safe to eat.

The USDA claims this will save them tens of millions of dollars.

Well, USDA, I can save you even more. If you’re going to let the chicken companies inspect their own chickens, just trash the whole program, because I guarantee you they will decide “ALL of our chickens are safe!”

At some point, you would hope someone at the USDA (and I looked it up, there are over 100,000 employees there) would have raised their hand and pointed out the glaringly obvious: “Uh, since these guys are selling us chicken/beef/fish/whatever, don’t you think they are going to say that everything they’re selling is safe?”

Ideally, another person (we’re up to 2 out of 100,000–a push perhaps, but I woke up optimistic this morning) would have seconded the first person’s statement and then, just maybe, we could have our food actually inspected before we eat it.

Which, I will point out to the USDA and its 100,000 employees, is generally considered to be their core job.

And it gets worse.

Right now, the USDA inspectors (who are independent, don’t work for the chicken companies, and aren’t driven by chicken company profits for holiday bonuses) inspect 35 chickens a minute for lovely things like bile, feces and random spare parts that got through processing.

That’s a chicken every two seconds.

Should you so desire, take two seconds to inspect the next chicken you see at the store. It’s really not a lot of time, but with some practice you could get pretty good at it–which is a nice thought because you are essentially performing the task that stands between me eating a relatively clean chicken or a feces- and bile-covered chicken. (There is a difference, Mr. USDA, trust me on this one.)

Well, under this new program, the chicken companies will rubber stamp–er, I mean inspect 175 chickens a minute. 175! That’s just under three chickens a second.

Are you thinking, “Wait a minute, 175 chickens a minute? That’s impossible!” Well congratulations–you are now ahead of 100,000 USDA employees in the class on food safety.

I have a little test for you and the USDA: if you can even count to 175 in sixty seconds, I might reconsider my opposition.

If you can’t, you need to sign this petition, share it with the world, put it up on Facebook.

Even better, if you know anyone at the USDA, send it to them and ask them to see what they can do for you, for me, and for everyone who prefers their chickens to be properly inspected, let alone inspected at all.

This post originally appeared at HandPicked Nation.

Americans Don’t Burn Books.

Enough is enough. Enough with the bigotry and the hate. Enough with the race-baiting and the fake debate about the Ground Zero Mosque. Enough of white Americans putting up fences to keep their fellow humans out. Enough of the birthers.

Enough of Christian hypocrites who thump their Bibles while denying men and women the right to marry the one they love. Enough of conservatives holding up the Constitution having never actually read it and preaching about one nation under God and also denying that every American has the right to worship the God of their choosing.

Enough of Progressives and Democrats who engage in these debates rather than attack these bigoted racist hypocrites. Enough of the hate-mongers getting all the attention and press.

You have to draw the line somewhere. Guess what? Now’s the time.

You are entitled to your own opinion, after all, this is America and there is Freedom of Speech. But just as important, there is freedom of worship. Because of our freedoms, there, ironically, is the freedom to burn books. However.

Because we are Americans, because we defend and fight and preserve the right of free speech, because we have seen what happens in countries who don’t defend these freedoms, we do not burn books. Let me repeat that.

Americans Don’t Burn Books.

We print books that maybe you don’t people want to read. We print books filled with hate. We print and print and print books of all kinds, but we don’t burn books. By defending everyone’s right to speak, we defend our right to speak. By defending everyone’s right to their own religion, we defend our own right to our own religion.

We have gone to war with people who do burn books; Adolph Hitler comes to mind. Stalin. Pol Pot. There are others. Our military graveyards are full of the men and women who protected us, who gave their lives for us. Not one soldier has ever died, so we could burn books.

Americans Don’t Burn Books.

And we especially don’t burn the books of another person’s religion.

You may or may not believe in the Bible, but if you think the Bible is the worst book in the world, as an American, you don’t have to read it, you don’t have to believe, no one can force you to or hold it against you if you don’t, but you can not burn the Bible.

You may or may not believe in what is in the Torah. You may think the Torah is the worst book in the world, as an American, you don’t have to read it, you don’t have to believe it, no one can force you to, or hold it against you if you don’t but you can not burn the Torah.

Buddhist books, Pagan books, Hindu books. You can’t burn them.

And you can’t burn the Koran.

You may or may not believe in what is in the Koran. You may think the Koran is the worst book in the world, as an American, you don’t have to read it, you don’t have to believe it, no one can force you to, or hold it against you if you don’t but you can not burn the Koran.

I salute my friends at Human Rights First who are standing up against the bigots who would burn the Koran on 9/11. And if you want to, you can click here and get a free bookmark from Human Rights First. It says:

Americans Don’t Burn Books.

But other people do. Notice the crowd watching the book burning and who is in it.

Take A Break From Kicking Republicans. (And Save Lives In Africa.)

I will keep this brief. Today, in honor of The World Cup, Yahoo has turned their special Penalty Shootout Game (RED) in order to help raise money for AIDS In Africa.

What this means is that all day today, you can take a break and play the game and for every goal you score, Yahoo will donate $1 up to a maximum of $100,000 to help buy life-saving drugs for those living with AIDS in Africa.

Now, true it may not be as much fun as taking a shot at Sarah Palin, but it is for a better cause, and as (RED) has shown with their documentary, The Lazurus Effect, just 40 cents a day can literally help save someone's life.

So please, take a moment, and play. I bet right here at Calitics, we're good for $10,000 today.

One Month After The Oil Spill, It’s Time To Act.

One month ago today the Gulf Oil Spill disaster took place. It's been a month where all of the good and bad of the debate on clean energy and our country's future has been plain for all to see.

It's almost hard to pick out specific highlights and lowlights. This is my personal top list and feel free to add in yours in the comments.

The slow realization that this rig was allowed to be drilled without the proper permitting or safety features; safety features that are mandatory in the rest of the world, was sadly expected. It's clear that the federal officials in charge of making sure that this rig was safe and that back-up systems were in place, officials from both administrations, Bush and Obama, failed us.

The almost immediate and completely disgusting partisan split on the issue was really troubling to see, even from someone who is used to it. The fact that the Republicans even launched an Energy Rapid Response Team to push for more off shore drilling as the spill kept spilling was really despicable. And that continues to the day, making it clear I think that the lines are drawn on this issue and it's the American people who are going to have to decide.

The fact that the spill is still spilling one month later is not a shock but a a tragic consequence of our nation's dependence on oil. As long as we are willing to pay $3 or more per gallon of gas, someone will get that oil out of the ground for us – no matter the consequence.

One thing that has been hugely concerning to me as someone who spends a lot of time working in the environmental space online is frankly the lack of outrage. Yes, when the three Stooges went to Washington and blamed each other, there was some outrage. But people still go to BP gas stations, people are not, I do not think, outraged enough about the spill, its impact. I wonder if this is because many know, deep down, that they each own a little bit of that oil spill because of our communal addiction to oil and an oil-based economy.

Today, on the month anniversary of the spill, I think we all need to take a moment and realize what the spill really means – the devastation in the Gulf is a reflection of our collective failure to force Washington and our elected officials to act on clean energy and propel our country, and our economy, powerfully forward. We have, collectively, allowed Washington to stall and wait and literally do nothing for three decades, ever since Jimmy Carter tried to lead the way forward on the issue.

Today, we must stand up.

Robert Redford has a great new spot out working with NRDC (with whom I also work) talking about this simple fact – that video is here.


He's right in that we all need to go straight to President Obama and to our elected officials and say "enough is enough" we need to act.

We need leadership from the White House and from Washington on this issue and we need it now.

Sadly, in the current political climate, leadership happens when Americans force the issue. So please click through, sign the letter, post this on Facebook, Tweet it.

For thirty days and thirty nights, oil has poured into one of our country's most important environmental and economic areas, it's time to act.

Valero – because Enron is SO ten years ago

Valero, the Texas-based oil giant, continues to prove one thing: oil is dirty. The latest evidence spewing from its smoke stacks? Behind closed doors, Valero’s company practices are just as dirty and threatening as the smoggy skies and health concerns courtesy of its fossil fuel emissions. While the company has been cited as one of the nation’s top polluters, its CEO William Klesse was recently named to CNBC Mad Money’s ‘Wall of Shame’, making it all the more obvious that this apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But as if that wasn’t bad enough, the company then rewarded Klesse with a “64 percent raise” making his pay check a heafty $10.9 million a year.  

Valero also reported a “27 percent increase in retail profit for the first quarter of 2010”. But don’t expect the company to use that revenue to clean up its act. Instead, it will continue to dirty our environment, pumping the extra green into funding the initiative to suspend, (aka kill), AB 32, the state’s clean energy law.

This out of state oil giant doesn’t have California’s best interest in mind, instead its goal has been to buy your signature in order to secure our dependence on fossil fuels. This week, it appears to have succeeded in getting this misguided proposition on the ballot.  It has done so by duping Californians into thinking that killing AB32 will somehow contribute to the economic health of California.

The fact is, killing AB 32 will “kill hundreds of thousands of jobs and chill billions of dollars of new green investment in California” and benefit no one but these dirty energy companies and their slimy special interests.  It reminds me a time, just under ten years ago, when another Texas-based energy company, swindled the people of California.  Enron took the state for billions, and what Valero, Tesoro, and other Lone Star state interests are doing now, is a play from the same book.

Everything may be “bigger in Texas” but let’s show Valero how it’s done in California. With AB 32 our state can emerge as a national leader in both environmental protection and economic growth. We are the Golden State and let’s make sure we don’t let a little dirt cover up our chance for a healthy and shining future.

Breaking: Huge Texas Tea Spill Threatens California

They say politics makes for strange bedfellows – So I guess I’m not surprised to see the self-proclaimed advocates of freedom, justice, and the American way (Tea Party) get between the sheets with out of state big oil meddling in California politics. Finding little popular support, the initiative to suspend AB32 is relying on the Tea Party, to gain the signatures they need to get their proposal on the November ballot.

They were depending on Tax Day rallies held by Tea Partiers yesterday to give a needed shot in the arm to Texas Oil’s campaign for dirty energy. How do I know?  Check out their website:

The ‘Kill AB32 (and CA’s hopes to lead the economic revival) group’ has even put an odometer on their website that will track the number of signatures turned in by the Tea Party”. Hoping this will provide incentive to sign the petition by claiming it will “help send a message to the political establishment that would show the strength and power of the Tea Party Movement”.

However, the anti-AB32 forces must be drinking some pretty strong tea if they’re putting all their hopes into this plan. Case in point: According to a Field Poll survey, “the majority of California voters do not identify themselves nor their interests” with those of the Tea Party. In fact, of the “61 percent of California registered voters” that “have heard of the Tea Party movement…only 12 percent say they have a lot of identification with the movement”.

And at the time of writing, the efforts of the CA Tea Party have produced 1776 signatures.  That is like one per year between Christ and the Declaration of Independence.

Last I heard “oil, conservative, and anti-environment” are not the first words that come to mind when you think of the sunshine state. California has prided itself as a progressive leader, one that isn’t afraid to challenge the status-quo.

As those not drinking tea surely know, AB32 is not the nightmare big Texas oil wants you to believe. On the contrary, AB32 will create millions of jobs, bring billions in investment, slash state healthcare costs, and usher in a brighter day for California.

Hey California, Don’t Get Fooled Again.

Down in the Lone Star State, they like to say that everything is bigger in Texas. I am not sure they were talking about the lies Texas companies like to try and sell the good people of California, but they should have been. In fact, with April 1st just around the corner, it seems that Texas Oil Companies bankrolling the initiative to suspend AB 32 are counting on Californians to be willing to be fooled again (remember what Enron did to Golden State anyone?)

Anti-AB 32 groups first relied on the now completely debunked “Varshney Study” to “prove” that passing this legislation would be the ultimate job killer and lead to skyrocketing consumer costs. But now that the Legislative Analyst's Office has torn the research to shreds, calling it “unreliable” and “essentially useless”, the anti-AB32 force is focusing on some new junk science to stand in as a replacement.

The California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA) is using an oil industry-funded study conducted by the Pacific Research Institute to support its argument of the negative impacts of clean energy legislation. And it's no surprise that CMTA is the voice promoting this study, since the group has already announced its support for “AB 32 Suspension” in a recent press release as well as shelling out big bucks as one of the main sources funding the “AB 32 Implementation Group” (which contrary to the title, is code for the force working to suspend AB 32).

But like we saw with the Varshney Study, just because you paid a scientist to create it doesn't make it true. So before you buy into the “facts”, make sure you are aware of the variables that are manipulating the data behind the scenes:

  • The oil industry: Valero is a leading member of CMTA, contributing over $500,000 to help suspend AB32. Also, Valero lobbyist Michael Carpenter happens to be one of the board members of the Pacific Research Institute, which has funded the study.
  • The author of the study Thomas Tanton: consultant to the oil and gas industry and Senior Research Fellow with the Pacific Research institute where a Valero lobbyist sits on his board. He is also a former VP at the Institute for Energy Research (IER), an organization funded by oil and gas interests, which has received over $200,000 of funding from ExxonMobil.
  • CMTA's VP of Government Relations, Dorothy Rothrock: was an industry energy consultant for years before joining CMTA. From the moment AB 32 was signed into law Rothrock criticized it – even though unemployment was 4.8% at the time – which makes her support for enacting the initiative when unemployment levels reach that low again very doubtful.

Now that this report is in the same trashcan as the Varshney Study, we're sure that another one is on the way. Wouldn't it be better if the oil companies just stood up and said, look, we don't want progress on clean energy because we will lose in billions in dollars in profits? Wouldn't that be more honest? We doubt that will happen but in the meantime, don't be a fool this April.

AB 32 is a proven job creator and will continue to drive innovation and success for California. It's bad news for big oil companies, and we don't need to create a fake study to know that.

Will You Lift A Finger To Help End Relationship Abuse And Violence? Ne-Yo Did.

I have learned a lot recently about how heartbreaking relationship abuse and violence is. How it can destroy smart intelligent women and their daughters and their families. And how it can be stopped but often only after unconscionable destruction and despair.

I have also learned the best way to stop relationship abuse and violence is to stop it from happening in the first place; and the first place to start that process is our children.

San Franciso-based, Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF), has been a leader in the fight towards creating a world where each of us can live free of violence. For over two decades, FVPF has been organizing programs and campaigns to prevent violence within the home and in the community, as well as provide aid to those whose lives have already been devastated by violence. The Give RESPECT! Campaign is a smart, strong campaign designed to help the next generation understand how to treat their fellow man.

“Let's teach children that violence does not equal strength. Let's help daughters and sons find their voice to never stand for abuse. We're for teaching children to solve problems through conversation not confrontation.”

When I look at my daughter, I just think how much I want her to be happy and healthy and learn what love really is, and how to live well with others. When I look at my son, I hope he is learning the right ways to communicate and treat others in his life.

The Give RESPECT! Campaign is partially funded by Macy's to their great credit, and now Ne-Yo has stepped up as well. He has recorded a special song called “Heroes” and this is where you come in.

If you click here, you can download the song for absolutely free. FREE.

And Macy's will donate a dollar to the RESPECT! Campaign.

It's really that simple. But here's the catch. We only have to March 31, 2010 to get 50,000 downloads or a $50,000 donation to the Campaign from Macy's.


Download this. Then Tweet it. Facebook it. Anything you can to help spread the word would be greatly appreciated.

Respecting each other, respecting our life partners and most importantly, helping make sure our children live better, safer lives, and all you have to do is get a free song to start helping? Seems like a pretty good deal to me.

Better Business for California

The stance taken by the US Chamber of Commerce on climate change is damaging the confidence Americans have in business’ ability to respond to current challenges. The Chamber has been fighting climate change legislation tooth and nail on behalf of the US coal industry that makes up a very small segment of their membership. Other business have taken notice, as the list of companies leaving the Chamber is growing. The Chamber chose to entrench its stance on the lead up to the Copenhagen climate conference and this resulted in the departure of Exelon Corp, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources, Mohawk Fine Papers, and Apple.

The Chamber is relying on technology advancements to fix problems that are happening here and now. It only requires simple science to realize that burning coal now is harming our planet now. So waiting for those technological advancements to happen is not solving the problem – it is maintaining the status quo. The problem is that the status quo has deep pockets and the ability to fund campaigns against politicians that will not vote to maintain this status quo. Democrats should be on alert. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue recently laid out his marching orders at his “State of American Business” speech. “We’re not in presidential politics … but we’re going to be in a lot of politics in the House and Senate and judicial politics of this country,” stated Donohue from Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington.

Donohue is trying to frame the argument as a “for us or against us” battle (sound familiar in Washington?). He trying to paint the picture that all business in America, large and small, should be supporting the Chamber on this issue because voting for climate change legislation is an immediate death sentence for job and economic growth. “Congress, the administration and the states must recognize that our weak economy simply could not sustain all the new taxes, regulations and mandates now under consideration,” Donohue said. You better believe that those who vote for support any of “taxes, regulations and mandates” will be in the cross-hairs come the mid-term elections.

“We are not crazy or outside the mainstream,” says David Chavern, the Chamber’s COO. “We’ve been around for almost 100 years because we’ve done pretty good at figuring out what’s needed for the business community to be successful and we are going to be around for another 100 years.”

I disagree. When an economic force like Apple, with its millions of consumers, departs because it is at odds with the Chamber’s climate change stance then you are outside of the mainstream. The writing is being sketched on the wall and not all business agree with the Chambers stance. This is why I, and my small business, joined the group American Business for Clean Energy. In California, for example, Craton Equity Partners, Gap Inc., Serious Materials, Propel Software Corporation, and several others have already joined American Business for Clean Energy.  This group was started to prove that American business, large and small, can and will support climate change legislation that will have a real impact on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. There are 1097 business from shore to shore that have signed on to show their support for clean energy legislation for 2010 and now my business is one of them.

Business owners, I urge you to sign your business up too. Take a stand that Donohue and his pals don’t represent your view point on climate change. Consumers, I urge you to show your support for these business and encourage your local shops and favorite retailers to get on board too.

Just found this, you can follow American Business For Clean Energy on Facebook here. And on Twitter here.

In the end, I think businesses large and small can be a positive force for change in our country. Not a reactionary roadblock that keeps us stuck in the past.