Archive for May, 2010

Toxic Oil Spill Rains Could Destroy North America

May 27, 2010

A dire report prepared for President Medvedev by Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources is warning today that the British Petroleum (BP) oil and gas leak in the Gulf of Mexico is about to become the worst environmental catastrophe in all of human history threatening the entire eastern half of the North American continent with “total destruction”. Russian scientists are basing their apocalyptic destruction assessment due to BP’s use of millions of gallons of the chemical dispersal agent known as Corexit 9500 which is being pumped directly into the leak of this wellhead over a mile under the Gulf of Mexico waters and designed, this report says, to keep hidden from the American public the full, and tragic, extent of this leak that is now estimated to be over 2.9 million gallons a day.

http://www.legitgov.org/#breaking_news

Advertisements

Closet Politics: Is Kagan Gay or Just Looks as Though She Might Be? Obomber’s Awful Pick

May 14, 2010

By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Sexual politics command passions in American political life far more powerful than those currently focused on Wall Street bankers or on BP. By conventional measures Elena Kagan should sail through her nomination by President Obama to one of the most influential jobs in America — a seat on the US Supreme court — in a walk. If Obama had nominated a liberal, the right wing would be gleefully hunkering down for a battle royal, charging that Obama was putting up a fellow-communist intent on trashing the US Constitution. But by any normal measure Kagan is not a liberal. She’s a right-winger cheered by Republicans through her nomination to her current job as Solicitor General.

As dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan made 32 tenure-track appointments. 25 went to white men. Six went to white women, and one to an Asian woman. She didn’t hire a single black, Latino or Native American tenure track law professor. Several of her hires were prominent members of the right-wing Federalist Society.

The right is trying to raise dust about her running military recruiters off the Harvard Law School’s premises. Kagan did nothing of the sort. The recruiters were there, albeit without the School’s official imprimatur. Kagan objected to the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays (until it got judicial sanction, whereupon she gave an official imprimatur to the recruiters) — a nice insight into the relationship of sexual politics to the U.S. war machine. “Don’t tell” has been Kagan’s consistent policy regarding her beliefs and preferences, at least since that first photo of the youngster in judge’s robes, smoking a cigar.

Before she went to Harvard she was Clinton’s deputy domestic policy advisor, in which capacity she oversaw, among other assignments, welfare “reform”, kicking poor women, many of them single mothers, off the welfare rolls.

From 2005 to 2008, she was a paid advisor for Goldman Sachs. In those same confirmation hearings for the Solicitor General’s job she took the hard Bush-Cheney line that the world is a “battlefield” and kidnapping America’s presumptive enemies is just fine. As Jeffrey St Clair and I wrote in our newsletter recently, “There’s zero evidence that Kagan would do anything to redress the right-wing tilt of the Court and plenty that she might exacerbate it in the areas of executive power, civil liberties, and assertion of presidential war powers.”

But amid rumors that she might be gay, the Christian right is now saying that her true mission will be to swerve the US Supreme court into overturning California’s Prop 8 vote (that limits marriage to men paired with women) and into striking down constitutional amendments banning gay marriage in 31 states, most of which were the result of similar Prop 8-type votes. Her right-wing assailants don’t openly hang their onslaughts on her possible gay preference. They say piously, in the words of Michael McManus of Marriage Savers, “What matters is not her personal life but evidence that she has elevated her pro-gay ideology above the law of Congress.”

Is there any such evidence? No. In her confirmation hearings for the Solicitor General job she was asked flatly, Do you believe that there is a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage? Her answer: “There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”

Is there any evidence she’s gay, beyond being single at 50, with that heavyish set to jaw and features that is a familiar characteristic of many middle-aged lesbians? I could cite a student at the Harvard Law School when Kagan was Dean who says her gay preference was taken for granted.

Last month CBS News’ website featured a columnist, Ben Domenech claiming that Kagan is gay. The White House – readying public announcement of Kagan’s nomination — went on red alert, lashing out at CBS’ “false charges” and telling the Washington Post that Kagan is not a lesbian.

Then on May 10 Andrew Sullivan, prominent gay commentator, posted an item on his “Daily Dish” blog, “So Is She Gay?”

“It would be bizarre,” Sullivan wrote, “ to argue that a Justice’s sexual orientation will not in some way affect his or her judgment of the issue, it is only logical that this question should be clarified. It’s especially true with respect to Obama. He has, after all, told us that one of his criteria for a Supreme Court Justice is knowing what it feels like to be on the wrong side of legal discrimination. Well: does he view Kagan’s possible life-experience as a gay woman relevant to this? … To put it another way: Is Obama actually going to use a Supreme Court nominee to advance the cause of the closet (as well as kill any court imposition of marriage equality)? And can we have a clear, factual statement as to the truth? In a free society in the 21st Century, it is not illegitimate to ask. And it is cowardly not to tell.”

So – diametrically opposite to the other right-wingers cited above — Sullivan is saying that Kagan may be a closet case, and like many closet cases may tilt towards a repressive legal posture on gay rights.

Now, the traditional position of militant gays is that closet gays in public life deserve to be “outed” if they are pushing an anti-gay political or legal agenda.

There’s a case to be made that Kagan may qualify for outing by that standard. But liberals are now rallying to Kagan simply because she’s under attack from the right – and even though her recorded political opinions are mostly terrible. The liberal Nation magazine runs a headline this week, “Kagan is not gay.” I seized it up, thinking to find persuasive evidence of heterosexual conduct on the part of Kagan. What this might be is hard to imagine, since I doubt we’re in for a rerun of Lewinsky’s stained dress, the most famous piece of apparel in America for a couple of years back in the Nineties when life was fun.

But no, the (gay) author of the Nation article, Richard Kim, takes cover in a postmodern thicket: “Gay isn’t some genetic or soulful essence; it’s a name you call yourself–and Kagan has not done that. So in my book, case closed. Elena Kagan is not gay. Is she straight? I don’t know, and again, I don’t care. Why does she have to have a sexuality at all?”

Carried away by this theme, Kim added, “In a way, the mystery about her sexuality mirrors the mystery about her legal philosophy. We just don’t know a whole lot.”

This is nonsense, since we actually know a lot about her legal philosophy including her support for the theory of the unitary executive (a position popular in the Clinton White House as well as Bush-Cheney’s). But liberals want to reinvent Kagan as a potential liberal martyr, as opposed to the chill neoliberal self-promoter she undoubtedly is. So where one could and should expect the liberal-left to be taking Kagan’s nomination as proof positive that Obama has destroyed the last-ditch rationale for voting any Democratic presidential ticket (“He’ll put a liberal on the Court”), we now see – a la Kim – a call to the disheartened progressives to rally round Kagan and Obama, against a right-wing witch-hunt against homosexuals.

Actually, these days the whole closet/anti-closet posture looks increasingly dated. One of America’s largest and most powerful labor unions – the Service Employees International – has just installed Mary Kay Henry as its new president, hailed by the Politico site as “the first woman, and the first openly gay leader to head one of America’s largest unions.” In fact, as Steve Early pointed out recently, both of these “historic firsts” have already been accomplished by Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, but the labor movement is scarcely on the cutting edge of sexual liberation, so the fact that being openly gay was not a problem for Henry is a sign of the times. (Henry was asked whether it is reasonable to demand disclosure of the sexual orientation of someone serving in a public office, and answered prudently, “I think we should allow people to individually decide that question and not speculate and call them out.”)

The US Supreme court is looking weirder by the year. About half of America’s 170 million Christians are Protestants, a quarter Catholic. On the US Supreme Court six of the nine are now Catholic. Jews were once reckoned to deserve one seat. Kagan’s Jewishness would have been an issue, as also would have been the fact that she’s a woman. Not any more. If Kagan is confirmed — and the betting is that she will — the non Catholics will be three Jews. There’ll be three women. The outgoing Stevens is the only Protestant, also the only one not to have gone to either Harvard or Yale. If Kagan gets Stevens’ seat the US Supreme Court will be a total Harvard-Yale monopoly. Justice Anthony Kennedy (Catholic) is the only Westerner. There are no open gays. If Kagan makes it and is in fact a closet case, she will not be alone. There is another closet gay. Let’s leave Sullivan to figure out who it is and to issue a denunciation.

http://counterpunch.com/

The Supreme Court? Is This Why We Vote For Democrats?

May 12, 2010

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Supreme Court appointments, BAR’s own Freedom Rider Margaret Kimberley pointed out a couple weeks ago, are the clinching argument on behalf of every Democratic presidential candidate. Send a Republican to the White House, the alibi goes, and that Republican will send platoons of corporate-funded, anti-choice, authoritarian, warmongerng, racist, Constitution-shredding, pro-Federalist black robed goons to the federal bench, and one or two to the Supreme Court. Some alibis, like “the kid down the street does it all the time,” are true, but beside the point. The point is what kinds of judges do Democrats appoint? What kinds of judges is Barack Obama appointing?

Back in 2009 we examined the pre-Supreme Court career of Sonia Sotomayor, comparing it to the pre high court careers of the only two previous nonwhite Supreme Court justices, Clarence Thomas and Thurgood Marshall. It was evident that Sotomayor’s legal career bore a lot more resemblance to that of Clarence Thomas [1] than to that of the illustrious Thurgood Marshall, who defended black people on death row in several states and campaigned for the undoing of Jim Crow laws for a quarter century.

Instead of some corporate-funded, anti-choice, authoritarian, warmongerng, racist, Constitution-shredding, pro-Federalist black robed goon, just who is President Obama sending to the Supreme Court? Who is Elena Kagan? She has little public record to go on, but what there is, is profoundly disturbing.

Corporate-funded? From 2005 to 2008, Elena Kagan served [2] on the Research Advisory Council of Goldman Sachs’ Global Markets Institute. Lawyers and clients are as a rule both consenting adults (whether human or corporations) and choose each other for their own reasons.

Anti-choice? As domestic policy advisor to President Clinton, Elena Kagan was a vigorous advocate of banning [3] late term abortions, according to memos obtained by ABC News.

Authoritarian? Warmongering? Constitution-shredding? There is some evidence indicating that Elena Kagan supports a view of presidential power that would make Dick Cheney proud. When being examined by the US Senate for confirmation to her present post as solicitor general, Kagan agreed with the proposition that the entire planet is a “battlefield” and anybody the US government snatches from any spot thereon is subject to being considered something like what Bush used to call an “unlawful combatant.”

Racist? Pro-federalist? As dean of Harvard Law School she made 32 tenure-track appointments. 25 went to white men. Six went to white women, and one to an Asian woman. She managed not to hire a single black, Latino or Native American tenure track law professor. Several of her hires were prominent members of the Federalist Society, a cabal of right wing attorneys whose objective is nothing less than repeal of most of the 20th century.

The damage that Republican Supreme Court judges like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, to name only a couple, have done is truly incalculable. If appointing a justice who could be counted on to undo and clear away some of that right wing wreckage is too much to ask, what does it say for the main reason, the clinching reason given for supporting Democratic presidential candidates?

This is a crucial and defining moment for the presidency of Barack Obama, the instant at which he leaves his mark on the high court for perhaps twenty or thirty years to come. Retiring justice John Paul Stevens is indisputably the most “liberal” voice on the court, a man with a clear record of opposing many racist practices and authoritarian tendencies. Stevens is the liberal anchor of the court. To replace that liberal anchor with anyone less committed to upholding the rights of the poor and powerless is to unleash and further empower the likes of Roberts, Scalia and Thomas. That’s precisely what President Obama accomplishes with the appointment of Elena Kagan.

Hundreds, even thousands of gifted attorneys have voiced their opinions in columns, books and law journals and blogs on the ills and evils of patriarchy and corporate rule, on the need to protect nature and the environment, on how to remedy historic race-based inequities, even on how to end the nation’s universal policy of black mass imprisonment. None of them could be considered for the Supreme Court. We’ve come to the point where, to be considered by a Democratic president for a Supreme Court appointment, one has to be nearly indistinguishable from a Republican. What does that say about how people-proof and democracy-proof our parties and political systems have become?

It’s time for everybody to face the fact that the gifted black man in the White House has not been kidnapped by corporations. He’s not being muzzled by mysterious forces, and he’s not waiting for some public or secret signal from on high or down low to start looking out for the interests of ordinary people. The black man in the White House today has more in common with the last two or three or ten white men in that White House than he’s ever had with the interests of ordinary people. His differences with some of them, with Clinton, Reagan and the Bushes, are more nuance than substance.

Historically, the last three Democratic presidents all came after Republicans. Democratic presidents, for some reason, do not succeed other Democrats,. They never leave small-d democratic legacies upon which to build. What the last three Democrats in the White House have done is continue and extend the work of their Republican predecessors after those Republicans have become too unpopular to do it themselves.

Carter came in just after the end of the Vietnam war. He did what Nixon and Ford could not have done, committing the US to military intervention anywhere in the world that oil supplies were at stake, and began the enormous US military buildup in the Middle East. After Bush failed twice to get NAFTA through Congress, Bill Clinton made it his top priority, along with expanding the war on drugs” initiated under Reagan and Bush. For every two black men in prison when Clinton took office, there were three when he left. Barack Obama has banned the phrase “global war on terror” while he continues policies of torture, kidnapping and secret imprisonment, policies by the way, which Kagan endorses. While the financial crisis did break in the final days of the Bush administration, Barack Obama has shoveled upwards of $23 trillion in public funds into the pockets of Wall Street speculators, more than both Bushes and all his predecessors together. He has continued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Somalia, spread them into Pakistan and Yemen, and passed a bailout of the drug and private health insurance industries disguised as a health care bill.

While it’s certainly true that John McCain might have actually have found someone with horns, pitchfork and a tail, and a pointy head covered by a white sheet to appoint to the Supreme Court, this is no excuse for what Barack Obama is doing to millions of the loyal Democrats who voted for him, who expect and deserve much, much better. It’s really time to case excusing Obama by asking “what would John McCain do?’ A better legal yardstick, and one closer to the measure of black America might be the life and career of Charles Hamilton Houston [4]. A US army officer in World War 1, Houston attended Harvard Law School too, where he was chosen editor of the Harvard Law Review. He went on to be the dean of Howard University Law school and chief counsel for the NAACP, where he mentored Thurgood Marshall and the team of black and white lawyers who defended blacks on dozens of death rows and brought Brown V. Board of Education to the Supreme Court.

Instead of lowering the bar of expectation by asking“who would John McCain appoint to the Supreme Court?” we ought to reclaim our own agency and ask “who would Charles Hamilton Houston appoint?” A former criminal defense lawyer? There hasn’t been one of them on the court since Thurgood Marshall. A public interest, environmental, or anti-trust lawyer? A human rights lawyer who opposes torture and unjust wars? Or perhaps someone who isn’t even a lawyer. The possibilities are endless, once we free our minds and our politics from the people-proof and democracy-proof choices between Republicans and Democrats.

http://blackagendareport.com/?q=content/supreme-court-why-we-vote-democrats

Bruce A. Dixon is based in Atlanta, where he is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com

Food-stamp tally nears 40 million, sets record

May 10, 2010

Food-stamp tally nears 40 million, sets record 07 May 2010 Nearly 40 million Americans received food stamps — the latest in an ever-higher string of record enrollment that dates from December 2008 and the U.S. recession, according to a government update. Food stamps are the primary federal anti-hunger program, helping poor people buy food. Enrollment is highest during times of economic distress. The jobless rate was 9.9 percent, the government said on Friday. The Agriculture Department said 39.68 million people, or 1 in 8 Americans, were enrolled for food stamps during February, an increase of 260,000 from January. USDA updated its figures on Wednesday.

Obomber sticks it to us again, picks Kagan, Backer of Indefinite Detention Without Trial, for High Court

May 10, 2010

how nauseating can one man be? obomber continues to strive for the title of world’s most despicable creature. his latest offering is another harvard law school graduate (gee, what a surprise) who “once hosted a celebratory dinner for . . . [neanderthal] Justice Antonin Scalia when he marked his 20th anniversary on the high court, and another time she drew a standing ovation from members of the Federalist Society during a national convention on campus.”

everytime that i think he has hit bottom. . . .

jack

9/11 , ad nauseam

May 9, 2010

some friends attended a lecture by david ray griffin about the government’s involvement in 9/11, which they reported was very good. i am forced to make the following comment:

the basic problem with 9/11, as of today, is that whatever happened is irrelevant. as michael ruppert wrote in 2003, if the questions surrounding it were not resolved before the 2004 election, it would be ancient history.

of course it was a government conspiracy, of course bush, etal, should be in jail. but even if they were hanged, what difference would it make? would climate warming, peak oil, etcetera ad nauseam, be solved? thus, every ounce of energy spent on 9/11 — as fascinating as 9/11 is — is energy that, not addressing the vital issues of survival, is completely wasted. i referred to such behavior, sometime around 1994, as mental masturbation. it still is.

if gay marriage is legalized throughout the country, so what? if the polar bear is saved, so what? if abortion is completely legal everywhere, so what? if [insert issue] is resolved, so what?

oh, but of course, our first real concern has to be whether the times square bomber (as opposed to the real obomber) was working for the taliban. resolving that question will solve all our problems. well, maybe excepting war, oil, water, climate, population, etcetera ad nauseam. . . .

jack

excerpts from joe bageant’s latest and my response

May 8, 2010

http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2010/05/blogging-toward.html

. . . The brutal way Americans were forced to internalize the values of a gangster capitalist class continues to elude nearly all Americans. . . . We are made in Americas’ image, whether we admit it or not, and America’s image is the face on a ten dollar bill.

Liberal or conservative, money is what we care about — period. From birth, the empire has made one thing very clear to us: If you do not produce or acquire enough of the green stuff, meet the quota, you will be ground beneath the heel of the machine we call a society. No universal health insurance or higher education, no guaranteed minimum income, no worker rights, nothing for you suckers but the tab. So keep humping.

With such a national ethos, who can blame Americans for caring most profoundly about money? Everything is secondary to money. The future of the world’s children, the planet, everything. I’ve been watching the horrific BP oil spill on CNN (doncha love the way they call it a “spill,” as if it was a cup of coffee?) The first and biggest ongoing question has been, “Who is going to pay for it?” Right off hand I’d say the fish, birds and wetlands will pay for it, along with future generations. One quart of motor oil will pollute 250,000 gallons of water, and already there have been millions of gallons of oil blasted into the earth’s waters from this single spill. Yet the big question has been “Whose money and how much is going to change hands here?”. . . .

It is now clear to me that the people’s rage is a tool in the hands of the new electronic and digital corporate state. Its various channels, eddies and pools, regardless of type, can be directed toward all sorts of mischief and profit. Left or right, the angry throngs on both sides can be managed and directed. They can be sent chasing various injustices, denouncing evil characters on Wall Street, Times Square bombers, BP executives, or whatever, worked up into slobbering outrage over Sarah Palin, and thus kept divided and working against each other for the benefit of last gasp capitalism. . . .

Once outside the furious drek of American political and economic life. . . I found myself asking: “Why did the good in the American people not triumph? How can it be that so many progressive, justice-loving citizens failed? Their positions were well reasoned. The facts were indisputably on their side. Obviously, there was, and is, more going on than merely losing battles to demagoguery and meanness. Why do we lose the important fights so consistently? What has kept us from establishing a more just kingdom? Something is missing.

I think it is, in a word, the spiritual. . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

my comment: i rarely disagree with you about anything, joe, but you kind of lose me with the spirituality. for what is lacking in the american character, i would find a much more cogent argument in the brutal repression of dissent and free speech throughout this nation’s history and the government-owned and -sponsored brainwashing with which we are constantly bombarded from the first day we are exposed to tv and when we are first forced into those government jails called schools. for the former, robert justin goldstein’s political repression in modern america 1870 to the present relentlessly presents page after page describing the outright murder of those who would have led us out of the morass. we need go back no further than the government’s murders of fred hampton, george jackson, malcolm x, martin luther king, jr., jfk, and bobby kennedy to know that both the behavior and the threat are ever-present. for a more recent view of how we got to where we are, jonathan simon’s governing through crime (2007) is chilling. for schooling, we can start with plato and list hundreds of philosophers, politicians, capitalists and educators who have testified to the success of government-controlled schools in destroying the ability to think.

i’m about a dozen years older than you, joe, and, if not well educated, at least well schooled, with a bachelors, two masters, and a doctorate. yet i, with my IQ of about 150, was so thoroughly brainwashed — and this in the pre-tv age when governmental propaganda was but a smidgen of what it is today — that i quit college at age 17 and enlisted in the marine corps to defend my country in korea. i have no problem at all in understanding how the “average” american is essentially numb from the neck up. and i am, unfortunately, in complete agreement with your assessment of our future.

jack tobin

Sign the Petition to Seize BP

May 5, 2010

The government of the United States must seize BP and freeze its assets, and place those funds in trust to begin providing immediate relief to the working people throughout the Gulf states whose jobs, communities, homes and businesses are being harmed or destroyed by the criminally negligent actions of the CEO, Board of Directors and senior management of BP.

Take action now! Sign the Seize BP petition to demand the seizure of BP!

200,000 gallons of oil a day, or more, are gushing into the Gulf of Mexico with the flow of oil growing. The poisonous devastation to human beings, wildlife, natural habitat and fragile ecosystems will go on for decades. It constitutes an act of environmental violence, the consequences of which will be catastrophic.

BP’s Unmitigated Greed

This was a manufactured disaster. It was neither an “Act of God” nor Nature that caused this devastation, but rather the unmitigated greed of Big Oil’s most powerful executives in their reckless search for ever-greater profits.

Under BP’s CEO Tony Hayward’s aggressive leadership, BP made a record $5.6 billion in pure profits just in the first three months of 2010. BP made $163 billion in profits from 2001-09. It has a long history of safety violations and slap-on-the-wrist fines.

BP’s Materially False and Misleading Statements

BP filed a 52-page exploration plan and environmental impact analysis with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service for the Deepwater Horizon well, dated February 2009, which repeatedly assured the government that it was “unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities.” In the filing, BP stated over and over that it was unlikely for an accident to occur that would lead to a giant crude oil spill causing serious damage to beaches, mammals and fisheries and that as such it did not require a response plan for such an event.

BP’s executives are thus either guilty of making materially false statements to the government to obtain the license, of consciously misleading a government that was all too ready to be misled, and/or they are guilty of criminal negligence. At a bare minimum, their representations constitute gross negligence. Whichever the case, BP must be held accountable for its criminal actions that have harmed so many.

Protecting BP’s Super-Profits

BP executives are banking that they can ride out the storm of bad publicity and still come out far ahead in terms of the billions in profit that BP will pocket. In 1990, in response to the Exxon Valdez disaster, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the Oil Pollution Act, which immunizes oil companies for the damages they cause beyond immediate cleanup costs.

Under the Oil Pollution Act, oil companies are responsible for oil removal and cleanup costs for massive spills, and their liability for all other forms of damages is capped at $75 million—a pittance for a company that made $5.6 billion in profits in just the last three months, and is expected to make $23 billion in pure profit this year. Some in Congress suggest the cap should be set at $10 billion, still less than the potential cost of this devastation—but why should the oil companies have any immunity from responsibility for the damage they cause?

The Oil Pollution Act is an outrage, and it will be used by BP to keep on doing business as usual.

People are up in arms because thousands of workers who have lost their jobs and livelihoods as a result of BP’s actions have to wait in line to compete for lower wage and hazardous clean-up jobs from BP. BP’s multi-millionaire executives are not asked to sacrifice one penny while working people have to plead for clean-up jobs.

Take Action Now

It is imperative that the government seize BP’s assets now for their criminal negligence and begin providing immediate relief for the immense suffering and harm they have caused.
http://www.seizebp.org/

unbelievable videos of rabid cops out of control

May 3, 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aHgT3SsXf4&feature=related