Want to talk about a Hero?

I just finished reading Janet Reitman’s amazing article “The Men Who Leaked The Secrets” in the December 19 issue of Rolling Stone. It tells the story of who I consider one of Americas greatest heroes and the reporter who broke his story. I’m talking of course about Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald.

Take the time to give this article a read. It’s totally worth it.

The more I think about how the Obama administration has sanctioned the behavior of the NSA and how most of America could barely care, the more angry and disillusioned I get when I think about the future of this country.

We the People (only when its convenient for the white house)

Interesting news today. But first a little background. The White House and our wonderful president had started this wonderful new website section where anyone could propose something and if they got enough signatures (25,000) the White House would publicly respond to the ‘petition’ from the people. It is called We The People and one would think this would be a great policy.

But, you see, its not going to be trusted by anyone if the White House pulls down petitions as they approach the 25,000 signature mark. In fact one would be really upset with their president if this happened on his watch.

Well, it did of course. There was a petition asking for the TSA to take public comments on their Full Body Scanners (those insane contraptions that I am proud to say I have never been in). This was court ordered over a year ago and the TSA has simply ignored the order. It was then re-ordered.. still nothing. Well, apparently the White House pulled it down after some ‘site maintenance’ . The petition was publically suppored by Bruce Schneier and Wired Magazine among others.

Really sad. Nice work Barack.

Hmn. 4th Amendment anyone?

I’m sure many of you are going to tell me this guy should just shut up and say that he’s an American citizen but you know what? He doesn’t have to.

This is all part of what the ACLU calls the ‘constitution free zone’. What is now allowed is that within 100 miles of any US border, federal agents are allowed to stop your car and question you about your citizenship. This was started in a 1976 case called US vs. Martinez-Fuerte. And then further expanded under the Bush White House after 9/11. Please read the ACLU release on the subject (highlights).

Now I know you are saying : “big deal, this doesn’t apply to me”. But guess what? It does. 100 miles of the US border includes New York City, Philadelphia, DC, Los Angeles, etc.. It covers 2/3 of the US population!

Had I known about this when Bush was in office I would have been outraged that he was expanding something that essentially was infringing the Constitutional rights of . I would have posted it, upped my usual donation to the ACLU (which I just did) and moved on. Maybe I would have complained about how crazy it is that our president was trampling on the Constitution once again and said something like “I can’t wait till that neo fascist was out of office”

Guess what? He is out of office. And guess who replaced him? My old buddy and the man I want out of office next : President Barack Obama.

I haven’t had the time to write my huge opus about how he is trampling on our rights by expanding the Patriot act but this alone should give you an idea of the man currently in office. Instead of attempting to repeal this, he is expanding programs like this. (yes I will substantiate this in a later post but if you do some digging you will see what I’m talking about).

I campaigned and voted for this man. I donated money to his campaign (more than anyone previous) and made phone calls on his behalf. I did that because I thought he was going to stand up for our Constitution and roll back some of the things that GWB did. But he has let me down. He has let you down. He has let our country down. In November, Vote him out of office!!

Sorry Barack. I will not be voting for you in 2012

“I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters.

The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.”

Barack Oabma

The fact that he hasn’t said something about what’s going on in our own country : see UC Davis for the most recent example, is the last straw and why I will NOT vote for him in 2012. Sorry bud.

—-
There is a really great article in Rolling Stone talking about the oil spill and the Obama response. I urge you all to read it. It really underscores what I’ve been starting to believe more and more since Obama took office: Politicians from both parties once they make it to the national stage are completely identical. They are beholden to special interests to the point of them being fully untrustworthy.
Following are some ‘highlights’ and my notes:
“Like the attacks by Al Qaeda, the disaster in the Gulf was preceded by ample warnings – yet the administration had ignored them”. This is amazing to me. I had hoped that the Obama administration would be a breath of fresh air and would pay attention to warnings about things…
Here’s a nugget about something I didn’t know about, there are other ticking timebomb wells out there that BP is running : “Most troubling of all, the government has allowed BP to continue deep-sea production at its Atlantis rig – one of the world’s largest oil platforms. Capable of drawing 200,000 barrels a day from the seafloor, Atlantis is located only 150 miles off the coast of Louisiana, in waters nearly 2,000 feet deeper than BP drilled at Deepwater Horizon. According to congressional documents, the platform lacks required engineering certification for as much as 90 percent of its subsea components – a flaw that internal BP documents reveal could lead to ‘catastrophic; errors”
Then we get to the heart of this problem: the Minerals Management Service (MMS). This agency is in charge of making sure these wells are safe but for years they have been well on the side of the oil industry thanks to the Bush administration:
“During the Bush years, the Minerals Management Service, the agency in the Interior Department charged with safeguarding the environment from the ravages of drilling, descended into rank criminality. According to reports by Interior’s inspector general, MMS staffers were both literally and figuratively in bed with the oil industry. When agency staffers weren’t joining industry employees for coke parties or trips to corporate ski chalets, they were having sex with oil-company officials. But it was American taxpayers and the environment that were getting screwed.”
and :
“In reality, MMS had little way to assess the risk to wildlife, since a new policy instituted under Bush scrapped environmental analysis and fast-tracked permits. Declaring that oil companies themselves were ‘in the best position to determine the environmental effects’ of drilling, the new rules pre-qualified deep-sea drillers to receive a ‘categorical exclusion’ – an exemption from environmental review that was originally intended to prevent minor projects, like outhouses on hiking trails, from being tied up in red tape…”
But the sad part? Salazar, Obamas new secretary of the interior who was to clean up MMS did pretty much nothing. This article really exposes this point and its just shameful. How can it not give the impression that Obama is in league with the oil interests?
Then it goes on to talk about how Obama said one thing about drilling (something I totally heard and believed when he said it) and then did another once elected : “On the campaign trail, Obama had stressed that offshore drilling ‘will not make a real dent in current gas prices or meet the long-term challenge of energy independence.’ But once in office, he bowed to the politics of ‘drill, baby, drill.’ Hoping to use oil as a bargaining chip to win votes for climate legislation in Congress, Obama unveiled an aggressive push for new offshore drilling in the Arctic, the Southeastern seaboard and new waters in the Gulf, closer to Florida than ever before.”
Later on page 7 the article talks about the lack of govt. response. I actually bought the administrations line about them legally having their hands tied (as if they could not help if they wanted to) but in fact it’s the opposite! “…the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan – the federal regulations that lay out the command-and-control responsibilities for cleaning up an oil spill – makes clear that an oil company like BP cannot be left in charge of such a serious disaster. The plan plainly states that the government must “direct all federal, state or private actions” to clean up a spill “where a discharge or threat of discharge poses a substantial threat to the public health or welfare of the United States.”
Then theres this : “But rather than applying such skepticism to BP’s math, the Obama administration has instead attacked scientists who released independent estimates of the spill. When one scientist funded by NOAA released a figure much higher than the government’s estimate, he found himself being pressured to retract it by officials at the agency.”.. sounds like the Bush administration again to me! “Scientists were stunned that NOAA, an agency widely respected for its scientific integrity, appeared to have been co-opted by the White House spin machine. ‘NOAA has actively pushed back on every fact that has ever come out,’ says one ocean scientist who works with the agency.”
All in all it’s just so sad that Obama has failed us as a president. I worked so hard to see him elected and he has proven here (and in other areas) that he is simply George Bush in a new body. Its really troubling and it just goes to show that it doesn’t really matter who we elect as president.

There is a really great article in Rolling Stone talking about the oil spill and the Obama response. I urge you all to read it. It really underscores what I’ve been starting to believe more and more since Obama took office: Politicians from both parties once they make it to the national stage are completely identical. They are beholden to special interests to the point of them being fully untrustworthy.

Following are some ‘highlights’ and my notes:

“Like the attacks by Al Qaeda, the disaster in the Gulf was preceded by ample warnings – yet the administration had ignored them”.

This is amazing to me. I had hoped that the Obama administration would be a breath of fresh air and would pay attention to warnings about things…

Here’s a nugget about something I didn’t know about, there are other ticking timebomb wells out there that BP is running :

Most troubling of all, the government has allowed BP to continue deep-sea production at its Atlantis rig – one of the world’s largest oil platforms. Capable of drawing 200,000 barrels a day from the seafloor, Atlantis is located only 150 miles off the coast of Louisiana, in waters nearly 2,000 feet deeper than BP drilled at Deepwater Horizon. According to congressional documents, the platform lacks required engineering certification for as much as 90 percent of its subsea components – a flaw that internal BP documents reveal could lead to ‘catastrophic errors’

Then we get to the heart of this problem: the Minerals Management Service (MMS). This agency is in charge of making sure these wells are safe but for years they have been well on the side of the oil industry thanks to the Bush administration:

During the Bush years, the Minerals Management Service, the agency in the Interior Department charged with safeguarding the environment from the ravages of drilling, descended into rank criminality. According to reports by Interior’s inspector general, MMS staffers were both literally and figuratively in bed with the oil industry. When agency staffers weren’t joining industry employees for coke parties or trips to corporate ski chalets, they were having sex with oil-company officials. But it was American taxpayers and the environment that were getting screwed.

and :

In reality, MMS had little way to assess the risk to wildlife, since a new policy instituted under Bush scrapped environmental analysis and fast-tracked permits. Declaring that oil companies themselves were ‘in the best position to determine the environmental effects’ of drilling, the new rules pre-qualified deep-sea drillers to receive a ‘categorical exclusion’ – an exemption from environmental review that was originally intended to prevent minor projects, like outhouses on hiking trails, from being tied up in red tape…

But the sad part? Salazar, Obamas new secretary of the interior who was to clean up MMS did pretty much nothing. This article really exposes this point and its just shameful. How can it not give the impression that Obama is in league with the oil interests?

Then it goes on to talk about how Obama said one thing about drilling (something I totally heard and believed when he said it) and then did another once elected :

On the campaign trail, Obama had stressed that offshore drilling ‘will not make a real dent in current gas prices or meet the long-term challenge of energy independence.’ But once in office, he bowed to the politics of ‘drill, baby, drill.’ Hoping to use oil as a bargaining chip to win votes for climate legislation in Congress, Obama unveiled an aggressive push for new offshore drilling in the Arctic, the Southeastern seaboard and new waters in the Gulf, closer to Florida than ever before.

Later on page 7 the article talks about the lack of govt. response. I actually bought the administrations line about them legally having their hands tied (as if they could not help if they wanted to) but in fact it’s the opposite!

…the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan – the federal regulations that lay out the command-and-control responsibilities for cleaning up an oil spill – makes clear that an oil company like BP cannot be left in charge of such a serious disaster. The plan plainly states that the government must “direct all federal, state or private actions” to clean up a spill “where a discharge or threat of discharge poses a substantial threat to the public health or welfare of the United States.

Then theres this :

But rather than applying such skepticism to BP’s math, the Obama administration has instead attacked scientists who released independent estimates of the spill. When one scientist funded by NOAA released a figure much higher than the government’s estimate, he found himself being pressured to retract it by officials at the agency.

Hmn. Sounds like the Bush administration again to me!

Scientists were stunned that NOAA, an agency widely respected for its scientific integrity, appeared to have been co-opted by the White House spin machine. ‘NOAA has actively pushed back on every fact that has ever come out,’ says one ocean scientist who works with the agency.

All in all it’s just so sad that Obama has failed us as a president. I worked so hard to see him elected and he has proven here (and in other areas) that he is simply George Bush in a new body. Its really troubling and it just goes to show that it doesn’t really matter who we elect as president.