Monday, October 11, 2010

Sold to the Highest Bidder

As we approach the mid-term elections an unseen force begins to exert undue influence over our political process. This force, money, is not new to the political process nor is it new to undue influence over said process. However, what is now new is that moneyed interests now have a legal right to attempt to buy the outcome. Legal precedent established in Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission case now make it lawful for corporations to put as much money as they desire into elections. Unlike individuals, corporations are able to donate as much as they would like and can even directly air advertising.

The Citizen's United ruling hinges on an even greater misrepresentation from the 1886 ruling in Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad, in which corporations were granted personhood (see link elsewhere on this page for a review of the court case). As is commonly known, the case did not actually rule on that issue, but rather the clerk scribbled it after the fact on the document.

Of course it defies logic that corporations are people, but what defies logic even more is the ruling in Citizen's United that removes limits on political spending by corporations. Logically it would seem to follow that if limits can be placed on individuals who are actual people, then limits could also be imposed on corporations, which as people are legal fictions.

Beyond this egregious idea that corporations are people with the rights of individuals, is the other idea to emerge from the Citizen's United ruling that these groups can give money without identifying the source.

On Sunday, speaking on Face the Nation, presidential advisor David Axelrod stated that foreign corporations are involved in donating money through Republican groups to influence the election. The Democrats apparently are even rolling out an ad campaign around this idea.

"Foul!" cry the Republicans, "you can't prove it." Well obviously not. It is impossible to prove who anonymous donors are. That is completely the point. As long as donors are able to remain anonymous it will be impossible to know who is trying to buy our democracy. What is really strange is that the holier-than-thou Tea Party seems completely silent about this matter. Could it be that they are using this to their advantage? Witness Art Robinson, global warming denier and Oregon congressional candidate. Mysteriously, ads critical of Robinson's opponent have appeared allegedly without his knowledge as to the source of funding.

Back to the issue of foreign money. To think that corporations are giving money and there is no foreign involvement strains credibility as to how corporations are organized. Corporations, those large enough to give money on the scale that influences elections, are rarely single nation entities. Transnational corporations are the norm rather than the exception. Many of these global behemoths have financial resources greater than most nations, yet are treated as if they are individual American citizens. Is there anyone who believes that these entities are above trying to influence an election, or for that matter, all elections?

Without limits on corporate spending and without disclosure laws there is absolutely nothing to prevent foreign entities, corporate or state, from clandestinely providing resources in an attempt to buy a government. Our representatives are already beholden enough to moneyed interests. Without disclosure and limits, the government is up for auction.

Follow the money. Notice who defends this state of affairs that would allow for the unlimited flow of dollars from foreign companies, governments and individuals to influence U.S. elections. Will Exxon, China and Bin Laden decide who we elect next?

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer