Archive for corporate interests

Power play: Hobby Lobby et al. "not happy until their faith has more influence."

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separation of church and state cartoon power

obama tweet birth control women hobby lobby

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My Twitter followers often ask me why religious-slash-conservative politicians do what they do despite the potential negative effect on so many Americans. Why, for example, do they persist with their War on Women? Why do they insist that a zygote is a child and force closures of women's health clinics, putting existing lives at risk? Why do they claim they are "pro-life" as they scream their heartless, vicious verbal attacks at-- and put the fear of their god into-- child refugees who are escaping from rape, violent abuse, and death? Why do right wing extremists allow these atrocities to continue? Why are they willing to potentially end lives in the name of their god? My answer is an abbreviated (it is Twitter, after all) one-size-fits-all reply: Power and money.

Power and money are strong motivators. Tossing red meat to rabidly hungry political donors and like-minded voters goes a long way to securing state and federal lawmakers' positions. And by keeping their jobs, they get to extend their influence. It's all about self-interest.

Hypocrisy is an ingredient of Theocratic Stew, too, but that doesn't answer the Why. Besides, some outwardly religious zealots may very well believe their own fevered, ill-conceived blather.

The Hobby Lobby case allows bosses to control and exert their influence over women, women who may hold different beliefs (or disbeliefs) than the corporate "person" that pays them. Rather, they claim it's about their beliefs. Some of us see it differently.

Today on her radio show, Nicole Sandler played an interview with David Silverman. Silverman is the president of AmericanAtheists.org. He was discussing conservatives and their heavy-handed religious policies, but made a very important distinction. To quote Silverman, "It's not conservative, it's theocratic." Bingo.

Which brings me to today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because, believe it or not, our voices matter:

That's rich, a Christian activist law firm calling itself the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom. Equally Orwellian phrasing titles the constitutionally dubious Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which the Becket firm has cited to obtain ill-considered U.S. Supreme Court decisions favoring Christianity over sound public policy. ("Law firm in Hobby Lobby win is playing key role in religion cases," July 19)

For truth in advertising, how about "the Becket Fund for Denying Nonbelievers' Rights to Freedom from Religion"?

So what if this firm advocates a Muslim prison inmate's right to grow a beard. That ploy likely will prevail as a bone thrown to non-Christian detractors, but its narrow application betrays the firm's ulterior motive: to set up more far-reaching court rulings to favor the Christian majority.

Edward Alston, Santa Maria

..

The lawyers for Hobby Lobby don't seek religious freedom. As with the recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, they seek the right to extend their religious beliefs to apply to everyone else.

All over the world, it's common for those who practice a particular religion not to be satisfied with their own personal religious freedom. They are not happy until their faith has more influence.

In Iraq, this conflict gets people killed. In the U.S., the Supreme Court allows businesses to force employees to comply with owners' religious beliefs.

The freedom of religion in the 1st Amendment prevents the government from establishing a religion. Once the immense power of government assists one religion, all others suffer.

Norwood Price, Burbank

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FCC extends deadline for public comments on #NetNeutrality

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net neutrality FCC cable John Oliver

Back in June, I posted the video below in my post, "Cable company f*ckery: If you want to do something evil, do it inside something boring." Allow me to repeat some of that post to set up this one. The video comes to us courtesy of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in which he blasts the FCC and explains why net neutrality is so important:

John Oliver explains the controversy and lets viewers know how they can voice their displeasure to the FCC.

(www.fcc.gov/comments, for any interested parties)

Oliver:

Net neutrality is actually hugely important. Essentially it means that all data has to be treated equally, no matter who creates it. It's why the Internet is a weirdly level playing field.

The point is, the Internet in its current form is not broken, and the FCC is currently taking steps to fix that.

Ending net neutrality would allow big companies to buy their way into the fast lane, leaving everyone else in the slow lane...

Consider who would benefit from this change: Cable companies... These companies have Washington in their pockets...

The guy who used to run the cable industry's lobbying arm is now running the agency tasked with regulating it. That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.

Now let's look at what's happened since that broadcast. The first thing is what many of us hoped would happen. Via The Hill: Internet access debate unleashes firestorm. Good! It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes a firestorm to raise hell over maintaining net neutrality.

An avalanche of net neutrality comments have been dumped on the Federal Communications Commission, highlighting the passions stirred over whether Internet service providers like Comcast should be allowed to charge companies more money for quicker delivery of their movies and television shows.

The 670,000 comments — many of them laced with profanity — are about half the number of complaints the FCC received when Janet Jackson’s breast flashed across tens of millions of televisions on Super Bowl Sunday.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency is “mining through” the submissions from lawmakers, content providers, public interest groups and citizens who have seen fit to tell the FCC what is on their mind.

The Hill published a second article about Senate Democrats pushing the FCC to regulate the Internets like telephones:

A group of 11 senators are pressuring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reconsider the way it regulates Internet providers.

The FCC should reclassify Internet providers to treat them like more heavily-regulated phone companies rather than proceed with Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to rewrite the agency’s net neutrality rules, the lawmakers said in a letter to Wheeler Tuesday.

Wheeler’s proposal — which critics say would allow Internet providers to charge websites for better access to users — “would end the Internet as we know it,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said Tuesday, unveiling the letter.

Other signatories include Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (R-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Corey Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Nice.

I also received an email from DemandProgress.org that included:

Just wanted to make sure you saw this. There's been such an overwhelming response to the FCC's net neutrality proceeding that their website that's supposed to receive comments has CRASHED.

Where's my bell? Ah, here it is:

ding ding dingAnd just as I finished reading that email, this one came in via Politico:

The FCC is extending the deadline for initial public comments on Chairman Tom Wheeler's controversial net neutrality proposal because of trouble with the commission's online comment system, the agency announced Tuesday. The deadline was set for midnight.

See what happens when we use our voices?

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Hey climate change deniers: State emission cuts have NOT brought economic ruin.

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another talking point bites the dust

map climate change emission cuts

Climate deniers-- hey you, over there on the right, I'm talkin' to you-- wail and moan about regulating carbon emissions because, tyranny!!!! and Armageddon!!!! and economic disaster!!!! That sound you hear is the coal industry shaking cash from their enormous wallets to buy their way out of cleaner air and water standards. Because, tyranny!!!! and Armageddon!!!! and economic disaster!!!!

Well, they're wrong. And there is proof that cutting emissions will not bring economic ruin to America. Sweartogod.

Via the New York Times:

The cries of protest have been fierce, warning that President Obama’s plan to cut greenhouse gases from power plants will bring soaring electricity bills and even plunge the nation into blackouts. By the time the administration is finished, one prominent critic said, “millions of Americans will be freezing in the dark.”

OMG 1

That sounds positively terrifying! Oh em gee! We will become a nation of freeze-dried citizens! All in the ironic name of saving lives!

Just a sec... hold that thought. I'm hearing through my imaginary news anchor earpiece that at least 10 states have already achieved emission cuts by the amount the president has fecklessly Kenyan-dictated-- some in excess of that-- and more states will make similar progress before the deadline of 2030.

Don't those tree-hugging, green-tinged fools realize their Kenyan-dictated, feckless, reckless actions will bring economic ruin?!

[T]heir strides so far have not brought economic ruin. In New England, a region that has made some of the biggest cuts in emissions, residential electricity bills fell 7 percent from 2005 to 2012, adjusted for inflation. And economic growth in the region ran slightly ahead of the national average.

Oh.

Via onamatopoeia.wordpress.com

Yet another Republican talking point bites the dust. Imagine that. Quel surprise.

Over in Europe, they're headed toward a 43 percent emission cut from power plants and "other energy-intensive industries" by the same year. That makes our measly 30% cuts look pretty... feckless.

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"Cable company f*ckery: If you want to do something evil, do it inside something boring"

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net neutrality cable John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Cable companies are trying to create an unequal playing field for internet speeds, but they're doing it so boringly that most news outlets aren't covering it.

John Oliver explains the controversy and lets viewers know how they can voice their displeasure to the FCC.

(www.fcc.gov/comments, for any interested parties)

Oliver knocked it out of the park on "Last Week Tonight." He outdid himself in a killer segment about net neutrality, a must-watch. Here are a few excerpts of how he blasted cable companies, monopolies, and those foxes who are looking after our Internet hen house:

Net neutrality. The only two words that promise more boredom in the English language are, "featuring Sting.”

I would rather listen to a pair of Dockers tell me about the weird dream it had.

Net neutrality is actually hugely important. Essentially it means that all data has to be treated equally, no matter who creates it. It's why the Internet is a weirdly level playing field.

The point is, the Internet in its current form is not broken, and the FCC is currently taking steps to fix that.

Ending net neutrality would allow big companies to buy their way into the fast lane, leaving everyone else in the slow lane...

Recently Comcast was negotiating with Netflix. This graph shows Netflix download speeds on various providers:

net neutrality graph comcast netflix

That black line plummeting downwards was their speed on Comcast during the negotiation. See if you can guess when Netflix agreed to Comcast demands.... That has all the ingredients of a mob shakedown.

Consider who would benefit from this change: Cable companies... These companies have Washington in their pockets...

The guy who used to run the cable industry's lobbying arm is now running the agency tasked with regulating it. That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.

... Cable companies are basically monopolies now. ... You could not describe a monopoly more clearly if you were wearing a metal top hat, and driving a metal car, after winning second prize in a beauty contest.

net neutrality cable John Oliver monopoly

The cable companies have found out the great truth of America: If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring...

That's why advocates should not be talking about protecting net neutrality. They shouldn't even use that phrase. They should call it, "preventing cable company fuckery," because that is what it is.

net neutralitypreventing cable company fuckery john oliver

The Big Finale was right up my Twitter alley: Oliver reminded us that "there might be actually something you can still do" about all of this: leave a public comment on the FCC site. He put out the word to Internet trolls everywhere to do their thing.

"Good evening Monsters. THIS may be the moment you've spent your whole lives training for."

Indeed.

net neutrality cable fcc comments John Oliver

And if anyone can vouch for familiar trolly comments like this one...

net neutrality cable John Oliver troll comment

... 'tis yours truly. John Oliver is on to something. I never thought I'd say this, but, "Go trolls!"

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Justice Alito said what again? "New, unwise turn" in law relies on "private professional associations"

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justice alito shakes head at SOTU smallerJustice Alito Shakes Head When Obama Criticizes Campaign Finance Decision

Wait, what? Isn't this the Supreme Court that has a corporation fetish? Isn't Justice Alito one of the conservative members who believes in privatization, corporate personhood, and equating money with free speech? As in Citizens United and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission?

Think Progress: And he’s a strong supporter of “forced arbitration,” a practice which allows employers to shunt discrimination lawsuits into a secretive and privatized arbitration system rather than allowing those cases to be heard by a real court.

Respriv.org: For Alito, and the rest of the Court’s right-wing majority, the severity of Bartlett’s injury proved inconsequential when measured against Big Pharma’s bottom line and their interest in selling generic drugs, which account for 75% of the prescription drugs sold in the U.S.

StopTheCap.com: Justice Samuel Alito was forced to recuse himself from nearly six dozen cases brought to the Supreme Court in the last 10 months because the Alito family owns stock in many of the corporations involved in litigation.

In light of the above examples, I found the following passages ironically amusing. Via the Los Angeles Times article, Supreme Court says IQ cannot determine mental fitness in capital cases:

In dissent, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. faulted the majority for a "new and unwise turn" in the law by relying on "private professional associations" to establish constitutional values.

In the past, he said, the court had looked to states and to public opinion to judge American values. "Now the court strikes down a state law based on the evolving standards of professional societies, most notably the American Psychiatric Assn.," he said. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed with him.

Whatsa matter, Judge A. and company, don't you love "private professional associations" as much as you used to? Should they feel jilted? Doesn't the NRA "unwisely" influence (read: pressure) the "constitutional values" of Congress members so heavily that they shun common sense gun laws that public opinion supports by a landslide? What do you have to say now?

crickets

Oh, but I kid Justice Alito.

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Hey Big Oil "pro-lifers": Fossil fuels may be killing babies!

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we cannot drink the water big oil frackingScreen grab from "Fracking hurts Californians, Governor Brown" video below.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Melissa Harris-Perry took a disturbing look at a mysterious spike in infant deaths in Utah that could very well be linked to air pollution from the oil and gas industry. Yet, we haven't heard a peep about Big Oil possibly killing newborns from those very same "pro-lifers" who hypocritically devote themselves to "saving babies."

And while we're on the topic of Big Oil killing living things, look how their self-serving, corporate activities are contributing to land loss along the Louisiana Gulf Coast:

louisiana coastline destroyed by big oil

The Los Angeles Times has the story:

For decades, oil and gas companies cut canals through fragile wetlands with the state's approval to haul equipment and install pipelines. But scientists say the dredging let salt water flow in, killing vegetation that kept the land from eroding.

Without the buffer of these marshes and barrier islands, Louisiana's many low-lying coastal communities — and its biggest city — now have little natural protection from storm surges created by hurricanes. ... Last summer, the independent board that oversees flood protection for New Orleans decided that oil and gas companies should pay their share. In a move that roiled a state where the energy industry is the economic foundation, the board voted unanimously to sue all 97 companies operating in the state for unspecified damages. [...]

Over the next 50 years, the state is expected to lose as much land as it did in the last 80. The disappearance of the coast has left the state vulnerable to flooding from hurricanes, but it also affects the whole country. Nearly 90% of all offshore U.S. oil and gas production occurs off the state's coast, and the industry's infrastructure is stitched into the shoreline. The region is a hub for shipping and fisheries. The marshes attract millions of migratory birds annually.

Of course, it goes without saying that Gov. Bobby Jindal would do anything to save his state-- and the entire nation-- from environmental disaster... right?

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and key legislators denounced the litigation, initiating legislation that would quash the lawsuits and undo post-Hurricane Katrina reforms aimed at removing politics from flood control. Last month, the state Senate passed a bill that would allow Jindal to kill the New Orleans lawsuit by replacing the lawyers who are handling it.

Oops. My bad.

And while we're still on the topic of how fossil fuels are slowly snuffing life as we know it, remember this? Frackers set sights on largest oil shale reservoir in US... near CA's San Andreas fault. Hey, me too! Well guess what, there was an L.A. Times sequel: "U.S. officials cut estimate of recoverable Monterey Shale oil by 96%."

Families are already suffering everywhere, and there's more where that came from.

"What is all that money worth if there will be no future generations?"

Now let's take a look at today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor responses to those reports, because our voices matter:

Gov. Jerry Brown has displayed cognitive dissonance by supporting both climate change mitigation and fracking in California.

Fracking not only perpetuates our dependency on fossil fuels, it also releases methane all along the supply chain, which is a greenhouse gas less prevalent in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide but roughly 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas.

Brown is trying to be slick like the streets of Atwater Village after the 10,000-gallon oil spill last week by appealing to both sides of the aisle. But like those streets, he is finding himself mired in a sticky situation, where he will need to fully commit to a side.

Californians are noticing that the governor's position on the issue of climate change is about as stable as the ground upon which Big Oil is fracking.

Amanda Grossi

Los Angeles

The writer is a field manager for Environment California.

***

I don't know why companies are even looking for oil anymore. What oil is left will be used up at some point. Meanwhile, extracting it gets more costly, and that doesn't include the hidden costs of the damage to the environment, including its contribution to global warming.

The sun produces energy; it has done so for billions of years, and when it stops, so will our planet. We should not build another house without solar panels. There should also be small wind turbines for our home patios that can help out when it is windy.

We don't need oil, and we really don't need shale oil.

Jenny Wilder

Apple Valley

Bonus insanity: House Votes To Deny Climate Science And Ties Pentagon’s Hands On Climate Change.

Via .ecobumperstickers.com

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Snark attack: Marco Rubio "is onto" thousands of climate scientists' "schemes."

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snark warning marco rubio climate change

On "This Week," Marco Rubio was interviewed by ABC's Jonathan Karl about climate change:

Rubio:

I don't agree with the notion that some are putting out there — including scientists — that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what's happening in our climate. Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research, and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that's directly and almost solely attributable to man made activity.

I don't know of any era in world history where the climate has been stable. Climate is always evolving. Natural disaster have always existed.

Jonathan Karl:

But let me get this straight. You do not believe human activity — C02 — has caused warming to our planet?

Rubio:

I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientist are portraying it. And I do not believe the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except, it will destroy our economy.

And with that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

It is a coincidence that the day after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), an apparent GOP presidential hopeful, stated his belief that man was not causing climate change, scientists announced that global warming was causing irreparable harm to massive Antarctic glaciers, which will eventually cause a major sea-level rise. ("Irreversible collapse of Antarctic glaciers has begun, studies say," May 12)

Evidently, Rubio is courting corporate donors and therefore must deny that man contributes to climate change. These corporate leaders need politicians like Rubio to stop the implementation of policies that would reduce carbon emissions and therefore hurt their bottom lines.

Yes, the increasing use of solar and other alternative fuels could reduce certain corporations' profits, but corporate interest should not trump the planet.

Norwood Price

Burbank

Those climate scientists are at it again. They're trying to scare us all into believing that climate change is really happening and that humans are causing it.

It's a good thing that Rubio is onto their schemes. I'm looking forward to him exposing the mastermind of this hoax that has been perpetrated by those thousands of scientists in dozens of countries these past several decades, and to having him identify the (undoubtedly sinister) motive behind the hoax.

If he can accomplish this, it definitely qualifies him to be the next U.S. president.

Al Barrett

Santa Monica

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