Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spies, Lies & Ties...Oh, And Trains. Yup. Trains

Spy-vs-Spy, courtesy Mad Magazine

Spies? Really? Oh, Yeah!  

It's summertime, and Little Man and I have been going through my childhood books, hunting for summer reading, and he stumbled across The Hubby's old Mad Magazine books. I had no sooner explained "Spy-vs-Spy" than the news broke: 

Whoa! Russian spies? Really? Maddow tells us they still used "...brush passes, short-wave radio operation and invisible writing. Also the use of codes and ciphers, including the use of encrypted Morse-code messages." Wow - this is the stuff we heard about growing up in the Cold War era, as we practiced "duck-and-cover" drills and worried about "mutually assured destruction." Of course, Little Man wanted to know about each spy strategy that Rachel discussed, so we did some invisible writing with lemon juice and made some simple codes so we could trade secret messages.

I had just read Comrade J recently, the story of a post-Cold War Russian Spy, so some aspects of the story weren't surprises: spies living as husband & wife, trying to gain deep cover in the diplomatic corps, etc. Though it is a memoir, it all still seemed abstract, fictional, the stuff of James Bond movies. To hear of such a spectacular arrest, (and there's still a spy on the loose), well, that was a pretty engaging story. Check out Complaint #1, via maddowblog.

Lies: BP Continues Media Blackout, Hires On & Off-Duty Cops to Tell Tall Tales

Mother Jones has been one of the leaders on the media blackout by BP, and this follow-up is key. Not only have they hired off-duty officers, who are allowed to wear their uniform while working for BP, but the scumbags are actually paying the salaries of several police departments to work for BP during on-duty hours. Yes, they have privatized the police force.  BP is counting on people not knowing their rights, such as the right to walk, film or visit public property. They're playing on the expectation that when a police officer runs his lights and pulls you over, you assume he's doing his job, when in reality, he's working for BP and trying to intimidate you into compliance with the company's wishes. This perception becomes more warped daily, and thank God for Mother Jones, The Rachel Maddow Show and other independent media outlets for bringing these criminal actions and manipulation of the public trust to light. One last note on the topic: BP's "reporters" are spinnin' faster than a top, and giving the public their press releases dressed as news. Check out TRMS' BP Press Release Theatre for a glimpse into the kind of tripe they're feeding the American people. Amazing.

Speaking of tripe, and even more amazing, is why the GOP governors in states affected by this corporate-created chaos have yet to call out the thousands of state National Guard personnel under their control. Jindal has yet to call out any but a fraction of the troops under his direction. Don't worry, that won't keep him from complaining that the feds haven't mobilized enough forces. No contradiction in his mind.

Ties: Judge with BP/TransOcean Oil Ties Refuses to Recuse Himself

So, ever since Bush was appointed by the Supreme Court, I've been a little leery of the judicial system. Can ya blame me? But as nonplussed as I should be about the depth to which corporate tentacles extend into the judicial system, it never ceases to amaze me. Judge Martin Feldman (not that Marty Feldman. That Marty was funny, but no clown...) is the genius that decided to repeal the moratorium on drilling. Apparently, we don't know for sure that deepwater drilling isn't safe. See, we're still not sure about that, because there isn't enough evidence to support that conclusion. Uh, yeah. Right. Turns out, the decision may very well be...surprise, surprise, all about the almighty dollar! (Wanna bet he's a registered Republican?) Check out his personal investments:

JP Morgan Chase, BlackRock ($12,000 - $36,000)
Also Ocean Energy ($1,000 - $2,500)
NGP Capital Resources ($1,000 - $2,500)
Quicksilver Resources ($5,000 - $15,000)
Hercules Offshore ($6,000 - $17,500)
Provident Energy
Peabody Energy
PenGrowth Energy
Atlas Energy Resources
Parker Drilling
TXCO Resources
EV Energy Partners
Rowan Companies
BPZ Resources
El Paso Corp
Chesapeake Energy
ATP Oil & Gas

Gads, it makes you want to throw up your hands and yell "Foul" at the top of your lungs, doesn't it??? If it doesn't, it should. Any doubt? Google any of the above. Go ahead. I'll wait here.

This oil catastrophe in the Gulf is only the tip of the toxic iceberg. Sometime last week, The Hubby and I caught most of a film called GasLand. If you haven't TiVo'd or Netflix'ed it yet, you should. (Not paid endorsements, just the only way we ever get to see anything anymore!) It discusses how natural gas companies have literally destroyed land, wildlife and the health of people living in the areas they drill. You will not believe the clearly unequivocal evidence of pollutants that is present in the land itself. And it made me think about the messes we've allowed these companies to make, how we've allowed them to do whatever they please in pursuit of profits. The BP mess is only the most visible evidence of how we've given carte blanche to corporations. Remember SCOTUS' recent decision to allow corporations "personhood," as if corporate entities don't already have enormous influence on policy, far more say than you or I could ever dream of having. The whole mess is wrong, and I can only hope there are enough of the good guys in power to stand up to the vested interests to get it fixed. The Hubby sees no way out, and doesn't think that there's any way to prevent such corporatism. And he's the optimisat in our relationship. God, do I hope he's wrong.

Another issue that is tied so closely to the BP B.S. is the unemployment rate and the state of the economy. Poor unemployment, Dow down, consumer confidence low. We have not seen the worst of the BP relapse into economic crisis. The all-encompassing, vast number of jobs that are lost, for a good twenty years, if not for good, is only beginning to hit. We cannot take that kind of a hit right now without the jobs numbers sinking below the "bikini line":

Putting people to work needs to be a priority. I've said it before, and I'll keep on saying it...we need now, more than ever, a true jobs bill. A bill which provides no tax cuts, and focuses on social programs (return on food stamps? Nearly $2 for every $1 given) and infrastructure. The reason the GOP is not interested in extending unemployment benefits is not because they're heartless and evil (okay, so maybe they are, but that's beside the point...), but because it's a great, proven way to stimulate the economy. Give money to people who need it most, and it's a pretty damn good bet they'll spend it. And God forbid they do anything that will provide benefit for the Dems with midterms just around the corner. The Grand Obstructionist Party rears its ugly head again.

As to infrastructure, there is not a reason on this earth that we should not be leaders in the realm of high-speed trains. Yep, trains. I like trains. Don't you? They're cleaner, they promote less use of fossil fuels, and, damn it, who doesn't love riding on a train? True?

Seriously, though, we need to get back to manufacturing in this country, and high-speed rail is a great way to start. We'll never rebuild our economy if we have nothing to produce. I highly doubt, given the corporate climate, that green manufacturing is going to be pushed as it should be. If it were, I'd be all for it. But if that's not going to fly, then let's build high-speed rail in this nation. Let's manufacture and build a rail system second to none, and put Americans back to work doing it. Tax breaks? Nevermind that they just do not stimulate the economy, which is why the stimulus didn't do enough. But if we do give them, don't give them to oil companies. Give them to rail manufacturers and rail industries willing to sign on to national high-speed rail projects. There are glimmers here in California, itty-bitty teensy-tiny little slivers of what we should be doing nationwide. In fact, California could lead the way with their statewide effort to run high-speed rail from north to south and everywhere in-between. There's hope, there's progress on the light rail front:

Why not go all-out? Why not connect the dots above instead of stopping where the green lines end? Why not a WPA-style jobs program to build a state-of-the-art, world-class rail program? Jobs planning it, building it, marketing it, running it; manufacturing jobs, maintenance jobs, design jobs, engineering jobs, construction jobs, retail jobs (at stations), running the train: we're talking about jobs all over the nation, and industry that will bring buyers to us to obtain the kind of high-tech American manufacturing that such a program would require. It's a vision for an America that is eco-friendly, manufacturing-based, job intensive and makes a sizable dent in the infrastructure deficit we have in this nation. 

So there you have it, Kids. Spies, lies, ties, and, yep, trains. I hope you'll get a chance to check out the links above, as they can tell the story far better than I can. Whaddya think? Is BP in control? Are we spying, and to what extent? Will our democracy survive the corporatism it has embraced? Are we headed to a second recession, and is infrastructure the way out?  Put your two cents in here at Momma Politico!