Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rest in Peace & Thank You Dr. Howard Zinn

"Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and a leading faculty critic of BU president John Silber, died of a heart attack Jan 27, 2010. He was 87.

"His writings have changed the consciousness of a generation, and helped open new paths to understanding and its crucial meaning for our lives," Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, once wrote of Dr. Zinn. "When action has been called for, one could always be confident that he would be on the front lines, an example and trustworthy guide."

For Dr. Zinn, activism was a natural extension of the revisionist brand of history he taught. Dr. Zinn's best-known book, "A People's History of the United States" (1980), had for its heroes not the Founding Fathers -- many of them slaveholders and deeply attached to the status quo, as Dr. Zinn was quick to point out -- but rather the farmers of Shays' Rebellion and the union organizers of the 1930s.

As he wrote in his autobiography, "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" (1994), "From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble."

Howard Zinn shed light on American History, and walked the walk of the peace & justice ideals he taught.

He is an icon, and his works will live on.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Safe, Clean Nuclear Power plants

This is the last in the series, responding to the STOU address, addressing that Presidential pitch for Safe Clean Nuclear Power Plants. Although all three items- Coal, Offshore drilling, & Nuclear power plants that the President mentioned can be highly toxic & dangerous, I think nuclear power presents gargantuan, long term problems. The surrounding area near Chernobyl has dangerous levels of radiation more than 20 YEARS later, as well as birth defects, and deformities. If you have waste that is toxic and will remain toxic for 1/4 million years, then it is neither clean or safe.

The problem with Nuclear energy-- waste.

Greenpeace clip on Chernobyl Nuclear power plant 20 years later

Something closer to home..... Three Mile Island

The question was raised about France. According to Greenpeace, France continues to ship nuclear power plant waste to Siberia, Russia.
The waste facilities they do have within France have problems.

Elections of the Future?

Offshore Oil Drilling

Can't deny, it's a hot topic.....

20 Year after the Exxon Valdez spill

Ok, so I have to say the President's SOTU speech, where Obama said Nuclear power plants, Coal & Offshore drilling (Clean AND Safe)... should be on the alternative energy agenda.
I'm sure those corporations who make huge profits from resource extraction & their powerful lobbies press us to drill baby drill. But reality is they do huge harm, long lasting, and potentially irreversible. All the signs are there. Messing with or messing up the planet can't go on without serious repercussions. We need to step up our ability to get off the combustion engine & the fossil fuel fix. Change, would do us good.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Clean Coal

The Prez sez clean coal is a good idea as an alternative energy source.

What does Al Gore have to say about Clean Coal??

Tune in again, when we explore safe, clean Nuclear power plants, & Offshore drilling.

Drink anyone?

Environmental Guru Al Gore says "There is no such thing as clean coal, it's an oxymoron". None of these nationwide sludge holding ponds are regulated by state or federal agencies. This nasty spill happened just over 1 year ago. Once this toxic, heavy metal sludge spills into a waterway, there really is no way to contain it-- yet the Kingston plant set up a barrier just to protect it's own Coal Plant water intake valve, the rest of the waterways (some of which were drinking water sources) be damned. Those water samples came up with particulate matter 300 x greater than what is acceptable levels of (toxic) heavy metals. In the blink of on eye, a politician can say "Clean Coal Technology", and apparently just as quickly, a sludge waste pond failure can destroy many miles of waterways, wildlife, ecosystems & property. We don't yet know the long term effects to human health.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What condition my condition was in SOTU Address

I always feel like I am watching a room full of trained seals with all the clapping in these State of the Union addresses. Damn. The SOTU address would be about 20 minutes long if we could just stop the clapping.
The good, the bad & the ugly:
The good~ Obama really laid into the idea that the people are sick of the partisan divide.
Jobs, making bailout banks pay back money owed. College money. Green technology. Upping the exports. Deal with the debt/deficit.

The bad~ Safe clean nuclear power, Offshore oil & gas drilling, and clean coal.
They are not clean or safe or environmentally sound. I'm pretty sure Bush said these same things. They made me cringe then & they make me cringe now. One can only hope this list will be empty promises that are never fulfilled.
I find myself asking Et tu Obama, Drill Baby Drill? It is backwards thinking, and I seriously doubt the Obama family, cute kids & all would choose to live next to a contaminated coal sludge site, or down wind of a Nuclear power plant, or be responsible for an oil spill that kills marine life & the Ocean ecosystem.

The ugly~ A partial standing ovation & applause for the Supreme court corporate vote buying ruling. Yish.

What I did like was he actually spoke about out country & our issues. So many years of the Bush SOTU addresses, it was more like the "State of Iraq" address.
The story about Haitians chanting USA? I'm pretty sure they were screaming for pain killers, water & food.

He talked about the trainwreck of the financial situation-- before he walked in the door (they flashed on McCain making some scowling face). It does need to be officially on the record the damage had been done before he ever started the job.

I have to wonder if his "I don't quit" remark is a jab @ Palin??

Oh blech listening to the repug rebuttal. Government caring about people.....
Those who are dying w/o healthcare are not feeling the love.

The PBS commentators lamented-- we used to hear rebuttals from one person in a room in Congress. Gone are the good old days. They blamed Bobby Jindal. Check this out-- they had a whole staged "session" packed with people who agree, but the staging did not stop there, like manikins in a store window, they placed behind him a checklist of representation....

military guy in uniform √
black lady √
asian guy√
white woman generic could be soccer Mom or professional√
Historic House Chamber setting room packed w people √
lots of applause√
standing ovations√

Is it all a bunch of hot air? Are they all just crooks & liars?

Have I seen too much of all this crap & have become totally cynical?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tax the rich day! MEASURES PASS!!!!

Today is a special election in Oregon with only TWO ballot measures. Tax the rich measures....
One for those making over $250,000 jointly, or $125,000 as individuals, would pay more taxes.

The other hits corporations, and puts an end to the 1931 (I'm not kidding) $10 corporate tax.

One commercial has a bit about how credit card companies hit up customers with $39 bucks a pop late fees-- yet they pay a $10 annual tax, they are updating it to a $150 minimum & more if you make more $.

Truth is, even if this is approved , low & middle income Oregonians still pay a higher percentage of their total income in taxes.

Nike, Intel and other super wealthy corporations have quietly poured millions into defeating the measures. The wealthy are whining about the tax, but hey!
Corporations are people, & people pay taxes.... right?

RESULTS ARE IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Supreme Mess

“When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”

Thus the Supreme Court ruling that allows Corporations to legally buy votes, by being able to give unrestricted campaign contributions to politicians, as a Free Speech right.

The NYT Reports:
"The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.
President Obama called it “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”

It is considered a broad interpretation of Free Speech rights.

The majority distorted truth by saying the ability to buy advertising & donate large sums of money as an innocent act of "simply engaging in political speech".

What it dose in reality, is give the wealthy Corporations the ability to destroy a level playing field in the political arena. You'd have to be pretty naive to think corporations giving huge sums of money to individual campaign coffers would not have payback expectations in return.
We witnessed this happen in the Health Care Reform process in the Finance Committee.
As more "Wealthcare" money flowed into the pockets of politicians, they changed their votes to opposing just about anything meaningful- and that was WITH finance restrictions.

On its central point, Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Thomas and Antonin Scalia.

Justice Stevens’s dissent (opposed to unrestrained corporate campaign contributions) was joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

101John Paul StevensILApril 20, 1920–
December 19, 1975–

103Antonin ScaliaVAMarch 11, 1936–
September 26, 1986–
104Anthony KennedyCAJuly 23, 1936–
February 18, 1988–

106Clarence ThomasGAJune 23, 1948–
October 23, 1991–
Bush, G. H. W.
107Ruth Bader GinsburgNYMarch 15, 1933–
August 10, 1993–
108Stephen BreyerMAAugust 15, 1938–
August 3, 1994–
109John G. RobertsMDJanuary 27, 1955–
September 29, 2005–
September 29, 2005–
Bush, G. W.
110Samuel AlitoNJApril 1, 1950–
January 31, 2006–
Bush, G. W.
111Sonia SotomayorNYJune 25, 1954–
August 8, 2009–

So we have 5 GOP Supreme Court appointees, and 4 Democrat Supreme Court Justices.
Justice Stevens was appointed by President Ford, and has served 35 years on the supreme court. He is 90 years old.
We know Bader Ginsberg is in poor health, and is 77 years old.
I hope President Obama already has a team in place vetting potential Supreme Court Justices, because it looks like he may need to make at least 2 more Supreme Court Justice appointments in his Presidency.

Often a Supreme Court Justice will wait until there is a sitting president of like minded political spectrums to retire, as did Thurgood Marshall appeared to have waited till Bush #1 was out of office before he retired during the Clinton Presidency.

One vote difference on these cases makes the difference between a good or bad Supreme Court ruling.
We see how these appointees tip the scales of justice.
Last week's ruling really does feel like we are shredding the Constitution.
"We the People" was just revised to "We the Corporations"