One Year After The BP Spill


April 20th, 2011, marks the one year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

I mark the BP Spill as a point in time which it became even more clear to me that the United States government is invested in protecting corporations and industry over protecting its citizens from harm.

The reckless disregard for both human life and the environment of BP and Transocean has not met with any criminal prosecution. Serving as an example that a company is free to cause death and mayhem without any consequences but an individual who caused the death of eleven workers and poisoned the Gulf for decades to come would receive no such special treatment.

America continues to be a cowardly nation when it comes to holding the people responsible for the industrial homicide that took place one year ago.

Add atop all this that the government lied to the public regarding the location and magnitude of the spill on multiple occasions and approved a toxic dispersant that has been banned in the U.K. to be sprayed into the environment in quantities previously unheard of for use in an oil spill clean up.

Considering all this I don’t trust the EPA or the federal government when they proclaim the seafood as safe as the Gulf as non-toxic. The health and safety of the public is secondary to promoting the needs of the private sector industry forces, so if the feds and the EPA have to lie and cause a few people to get sick as a direct result then that is exactly what they will do.


As a single solitary citizen there is not much I can do to bring the inhuman monsters responsible for this to justice nor can I hope to see those in the EPA and the federal government who would lie to public be fired and replaced with people who would actually do their jobs rather than bend knee to the oil industry. Beyond voicing myself on a blog the only avenue I have to act upon is this: boycott BP forever.

A corrupt government we can change, though I don’t see it as an easy road it is entirely possible if people only stand together in a common cause. But changing a multinational corporation is much more difficult than changing a government and in all reality corporations are beyond all laws and beyond taking responsibility for the death and destruction they bring about in their narrow, greedy quest for ever-increasing profits. When faced with such a power the only recourse of a ordinary person is to not contribute to the empire of death with everyday purchases like gas or food.

When every former BP station has rebranded itself and the company is treated like the pariah they are in the United States then I might consider reviewing their corporate policies and considering putting an end to the calls for  boycott, but not a moment before.

If consumers continue to reward corporations guilty of industrial homicide with business then there shall never be any hope of a private sector that doesn’t cause these horrific disasters in the first place.

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Gutting America

Now that the budget cuts have been released for public viewing I am reminded that we have a Democratic president who enjoys passing Republican policies.

This budget as it stands now is the gutting of America and the road to ruin. Slashing every domestic program in sight and leaving the wasteful military spending alone is the sort of move I would expect from a Republican, but if this is indeed the budget Obama supports then it amounts to yet another huge failure of this president to stand up for progressive values.

Gutting $415 million from state and local law enforcement, $438 from energy efficiency and renewable energy, $786 million from FEMA first responder grants, $1,045 million from HIV AIDS, viral hepatitis, STD and TB prevention — all of these proposed cuts represent a desire to see Americans suffer and to see this country fail as a competitive nation.

Combining these facts with the $5 billion increase in military spending illustrates to me that the whole of Washington DC is hell-bent on turning America into a war state with permanent rampant poverty. I expect such destructive and illogical policies from Republicans, they maintain the role of the uninformed saber rattlers, but to see such a ruinous and hideous budget plan being endorsed by Democrats is disgusting.

It’s obvious to me, as things stand now, that Obama along with the Democratic Party have thrown the middle class and the American worker under the bus. All the while holding up the bloodthirsty military industrial complex and the heartless desires of corporate America as paramount.

It is nothing short of a lie that the nation is “broke” and if either party was serious about trimming waste without gutting vital social services the first on the chopping block would be the Pentagon budget.

What this country has is a tax revenue problem. As any conservative will tell you GE paid nothing in taxes last year. That is only the tip of the iceberg, but a good place to start. Closing all the corporate tax loopholes combined with raising income taxes on the wealthiest Americans would free more than enough tax revenue to manage the debt while at the same time avoid gutting important government services in the process.

The failure of American Democracy is perfectly represented by the non-choice of Democrats who cave on if not directly promoting anti-American policies and Republicans who pander to racists if not openly endorse fascist laws. The choice between moderate conservatives calling themselves Democrats and extremist conservatives calling themselves Republicans is no choice at all.

They’re Not Cleaning It Up, They’re Covering It Up

Kindra Arnesen is not the only one appalled at this sham of a clean-up effort and the corporate whitewash media-blackout over the level of sheer disaster currently ravaging America at the hands of BP and Transocean.

Arnesen does not even touch on the toxic and hazardous dispersant (Corexit) that does nothing but add a poison that makes the oil harder to clean-up (and videotape / photograph) into the mix of all the other health hazards and environmental hazards already in play.

ProPublica.org:

The two types of dispersants BP is spraying in the Gulf of Mexico are banned for use on oil spills in the U.K.

As EPA-approved products, BP has been using them in greater quantities than dispersants have ever been used in the history of U.S. oil spills.

Reuters.com:

Oil-dispersing chemicals used to clean up the vast BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico carry their own environmental risks, making a toxic soup that could endanger marine creatures even as it keeps the slick from reaching the vulnerable coast, wildlife watchdogs say.

The use of dispersants could be a trade-off between potential short-term harm to offshore wildlife and possible long-term damage to coastal wildlife habitat if the oil slick were to reach land.

SB1070 For Dummies & Hayward Hung By The Toes

This YouTube video from 4409 “Wake Up America” Productions is what people really need to understand about ‘that law’ that everyone is talking about when not picturing BP exec Tony Hayward in some contraption from one of the Saw movies.
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“Please don’t kill me, America! I promise another ad campaign and more toxic dispersant!”
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This is not about immigration. This is about encroaching on civil liberties first with racial profiling and then moving forward from there to effect all groups.
At least five lawsuits have been filed thus far to fight against the Arizona law coming on behalf of the ACLU and others.
AZCentral.com:

A group of 14 civil and immigrant-rights organizations and 10 individuals on Monday filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s new immigration law. It is the fifth legal challenge of the law, which goes into effect July 29 and makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally.

All the lawsuits seek to prevent the law from going into effect. However, this latest case names Arizona’s county officials as defendants, while previous suits were filed against state officials.

Participants in this case include the American Civil Liberties Union, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Immigration Law Center, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Asian Pacific American Legal Center.

Since I put “for dummies” in my headline I’ll move forward slowly about the why on this show-me-your-papers law signed by Jan Brewer is unconstitutional. Instead slamming a bunch of legalese at you it’s much better to simply look closely at the Section B paragraph of AZ SB 1070:
“For any lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official …”
This just means anything at all that might be contact with the police. If they flag you down on the street when you are walking, that is a “lawful stop.” It has very little to do with vehicles and everything to do with the security of your person from harassment from the police. Even when a police officer who has mistaken your identity, let’s say, it is still a committing a “lawful stop” to detain you and discover your true identity. In short, this opening clause of the law is both sweeping and overreaching in terms of the authority it grants. In this language alone that law has isolated undocumented workers from seeking police services should they be attacked or threatened in their safety for even requesting police services: a 911 call is nothing more an invitation to legal harassment and then deportation.
“… where reasonable suspicion exists that a person is alien and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made … to determine immigration status of the person”
Many advocates for this draconian law claim it mirrors the existing federal immigration law, but this is completely false. No standing U.S. law fails to define what exactly “reasonable suspicion” is to be recognized as in regards to infraction in question. You may have heard the phrase: “What does an illegal look like?” This is what these people are referring to. There is no standard set within any part of this law as to what exactly is the definition of “reasonable suspicion” of being here under undocumented (“alien”) status. This failure to define what the terms of “reasonable suspicion” entail creates a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against “unreasonable search and seizure” which requires “probable cause” be clearly established prior to such “reasonable attempt”s of the Arizona law to toss you in a cell or search your person in any manner. Furthermore, the Fifth Amendment also protects any person, be they citizen or not, from incriminating themselves so this very act of having state authorities asking a person to identify their status with the federal immigration bureau is a “reasonable attempt” to force the affected party to admit to a minor misdemeanor. Which still ultimately amounts to a form of self incrimination. Another way to understand this is know that if a undocumented worker knew their rights at the time of a “lawful stop” taking place they would be within their rights to claim the Fifth Amendment protections while being asked by a state official their federal immigration status.
“… may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of the subsection …”
This clause was added after the initial drafting of the law and fails to clarify just exactly how an officer is to determine immigration status without the use of “race, color and national origin” as the primary factor is raising the question. Had the misguided authors of this law inserted their media commentary that “clothing” was a factor to be decided upon it would have held more weight than this rather self defeating clause. As I stated above, without the method of attaining “reasonable suspicion” of being here under undocumented status outlined in the this law it remains the only standard in which to enforce such a law would be racial profiling. This clause turned a simply unconstitutional law into a literally unenforceable law.
The greatest layer of the unconstitutionality of AZ SB 1070 is the very top layer:
It is not the business of state authority to tread upon the direct charge of federal agencies. Even when they have a false charge of “inaction” on behalf of the federal government, the state laws never supersede federal authority on existing issues. Before any of the other elements of unconstitutionality would be considered this first brazen disregard for the Constitution will get this anti-civil liberties and pro-racial profiling law thrown out of court.
My point from the beginning is it is disgusting and un-American of all involved with this law to even have to drag this veiled racism mixed with an unconstitutional power-grab into our courts in the first place. Striking down this law effectively and immediately is the only course of action that will save both money and freedom in one swift movement.
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Colbert knows what to do with those Tony Hayward types…
What I myself find especially funny lately is this strange group of people out there, I guess we’ll call them the “Blame No One Party” because that seems to be their game here. They are trying to convince us that blaming someone for the catastrophe that they oversaw and helped create is some act of mad lunacy. That we all should be looking forward. To what exactly I’m not too clear. The next environmental disaster that Big Oil will bless us with? I’ll be over here with my burning Tony Hayward effigy and “Boycott BP” signs, thank you very much.
Don’t forget this is the “worst oil spill in U.S. history” and has turned the Gulf of Mexico “into a dead zone.”
I’m for cutting all our government contracts with BP, and cutting their jet fuel arrangement with the Pentagon as well. A company like BP has no place working under federal auspices of any sort. They have effectively destroyed America. Were this deliberate and not rampant greed and arrogance it could easily be classified as some form of terrorist or economic attack on all of America.
It seems when extremists blow people up: it’s a crime and everybody is mobilized to catch the criminals. But when careless suits at BP blow people up: it’s something to be ignored and just accepted as part of modern life.
UPDATE:
IPC has backed my statements here in their Q&A Guide.

Senate Reconciliation Now!

The Republican obstructionism on the health care reform agenda is not “principled objections” as Senate minority leader Eric Cantor suggests. It is non-principled, pure nihilistic policy of poisoning the well and deception on behalf of conservatives.

The liberal majority that elected Democrats to office in 2008 has spoken.

The Public Option must survive in a final health care bill, and the process of reconciliation between House and Senate bills is the only avenue by which Democratic representatives can claim to have made any “meaningful reform” come reelection time.

Make it clear that this will not go away, and we the liberal progressives will not be silent.

This push did not come from the White House, or the Progressive Caucus, or from the desk of Sen. Harry Reid. This push for a strong public option through reconciliation came from the people who understand that health care is a moral issue, not merely a budgetary issue.

Both President Obama and Senator Reid remain open to the pursuit of Senate reconciliation, but I believe it important to state that this in itself is the “failure to sell health care reform to the American people” I spoke of before.

Instead, we will have to make perfectly clear that the public option must go forward and does not continue to be the “public optional.”

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Friday afternoon that he would work with other Democrats and the White House to pass a public option through reconciliation if that’s the legislative path the party chooses.

The party has spoken. The ball is their court now in congress, but we must not allow this to fade into the night.

Just as Paul Krugman recently closed an op-ed with, “Health Care Reform Now!” I would say the as he except in different words given the changing of the situation but holding the same meaning:

Senate Reconciliation Now!

Urban Institute Overviews The Public Option

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post has called this the “best overview of the public option” he has read so far, and I concur:

Getting to a Public Option that Contains Costs: Negotiations, Opt-Outs and Triggers

The debate over a public option has essentially become a debate over the size and role of government in the health care system. The central argument, as we see it, should be one of fiscal conservatism—that a public option should play a role in addressing the very serious problem of health care cost containment. The current debate between the left and the right on this issue is obscuring the fact that consolidation in both the insurance and provider markets is propelling a higher rate of growth in health care costs. The consolidation of power, particularly in provider markets, makes it extremely difficult for insurers to negotiate rates for their services and contributes to rapid growth in health care costs. A strong public option is one that ties provider rates in some way to Medicare rates (though set at likely higher levels), and that is open to any individual or firm regardless of firm size. It would thus provide countervailing power to providers and help control cost growth.

We argue that a strong version is necessary because there is little else in health reform that can be counted on to contribute significantly to cost containment in the short term. Capping tax-exempt employer contributions to health insurance has great support among many analysts (including us), but it faces considerable political opposition. Proposals such as comparative effectiveness research, new payment approaches, medical homes and accountable care organizations, all offer promise but could take years to provide savings. Thus, the use of a strong public option to reduce government subsidy costs and as a cost containment device should be an essential part of the health reform debate.

We recognize that there is opposition to a strong public option. Both the House and Senate proposals are considering relatively weak versions to make the public option more acceptable. Both proposals would have the public option negotiate rates with physicians and hospitals. We see two problems with this. One is that negotiating rates is not simple and it raises difficult implementation issues; for example, with whom would the government negotiate? Further, negotiations are most likely to be unsuccessful with providers who have substantial market power. Since this is at the heart of the cost problem, a strategy of negotiations seems unlikely to be effective, as has been affirmed by cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

The Senate has proposed a public option with an opt-out provision. This has the advantage of recognizing regional diversity in political philosophy by allowing states to pass legislation to keep it from being offered in their states. A disadvantage of this proposal is that it would exclude many who would potentially benefit from a public option. The states likely to opt out are likely to be those with high shares of low-income people and many uninsured.

The other alternative is to establish a strong public option but not implement it unless a triggering event occurred. The goal would be to allow the private insurance system to prove that it can control costs with a new set of insurance rules and state exchanges. The triggering events could be the level of premiums exceeding a certain percentage of family incomes or the growth in health care spending exceeding certain benchmarks. Since the public option would only be triggered because of excessive costs, however measured, we assume that a relatively strong version of a public option would come into play.

We recognize that taking a strong public option off the table may be necessary to enact reform legislation. But this will mean, at a minimum, higher government subsidy costs by not permitting a payer with substantial market power to bring cost containment pressure on the system. The outcome is likely to be that costs will continue to spiral upward. In effect, the nation would be relying on the range of promising pilot approaches to cost containment that would take some time to be successful. If they are not, we may be left with increasingly regulatory approaches, such as rate setting or utilization controls that apply to all payers. This would mean much more government involvement than giving people a choice of a low-cost public option that would be required to compete with private insurers.

(Read entire paper in PDF)

Ayn Rand is Running the TEA Party

(Boston Globe)

Coldhearted novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand is Running the both the TEA Party and the GOP, her self-serving ideology the real backdrop of the modern political right-wing.

Alan Greenspan was one of many Randites who have come to see the failing in their former logic.

Greenspan, to his credit, came forward in the height of the global economic meltdown to speak out against the exact same kind of “free-capitalistic” business practices that caused the crash. He clearly stated that he found: “[a] flaw in the model that I perceived as the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works.

Conservatives and libertarians greatly ignored and widely dismissed Greenspan and his unsubtle rejection of these “Ayn Rand Economics” or “Free-Market Capitalism” styled politics that he had once been a strong advocate of. I contend that these people do not care to explore flaws in their ideological stances and instead (in greater and greater numbers it seems) only seek to create an atmosphere of me-versus-you if any person is in anything but outright agreement if not an atmosphere of outright violence.

Dishonesty and willful ignorance dominates the TEA Party, right along with the radical GOP, leaving me to assume that no less than Ayn Rand coming from beyond the grave is the one is truly running the party.

(will re-post with full essay when finished transcribing)