|Progressive Calendar 03.03.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2010 00:32:35 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 03.03.10 more items for 3.03: 1. No nukes! Call! 3.03 2. Hiawatha power 3.03 11am 3. ENP/Dolan 3.03 6:30pm 4. Alisa Gravitz - The top 10 reasons we don't need more nukes 5. Stephen Lendman - America's Supremes: Court over Constitution --------1 of 5-------- From: PRO826 [at] aol.com Subject: No nukes! Call/e 3.03 [any time during the day] URGENT NO NUKES - Action Alert, call MN Senators Wed - VOTE NO on S.F. 355 URGENT ACTION ALERT!! Say NO to new NUKES in MN S.F. 355, a bill for Nuclear power plant certificate of need issuance prohibition elimination will be voted on this Thursday, March 4 Call or email and tell the committee members TOMORROW (Wed) and tell them to VOTE NO on this bill. The MN Senate Energy Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee held a hearing today and heard testimony on S.F. 355, (Koch) Nuclear power plant certificate of need issuance prohibition elimination. Testimony was given in favor of the bill by The Office of Energy Security - MN Department of Commerce - State and Local Government Affairs - Nuclear Energy Institute, MN Sensible Energy Solutions, Energy and Elections Policy - MN Department of Commerce, MN Pipe Trades Association, MN Building Trades, Westinghouse - PaR Nuclear Dept., Cameco US (uranium supplier), U of M College of Continuing Education - Geologist, and a packet provided by Federated Coops. In opposition to the bill were the MN Environmental Partnership, United States Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Prairie Island Indian Community, Red Wing City Council, and myself from the West Metro Global Warming Action Group. As noticed from the lists above, the groups opposed to new nuke plants were outnumbered considerably as those who were in favor espoused that nuclear energy as clean, cheap, abundant, and safe. Please call or email the MN Senate Energy Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee members and insist that they vote no on S.F. 355. Below the contact information for the committee members is my testimony. Please feel free to check out the Nuclear Page at _www.wmgwag.org_ (http://www.wmgwag.org) for more information. Other sources are: _www.beyondnuclear.org_ (http://www.beyondnuclear.org) , _http://www.citizen.org/cmep/_ (http://www.citizen.org/cmep/) (Public Citizen), and _www.nonukes.org_ (http://www.nonukes.org) . Minnesota Senate Committees Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee Chair: Yvonne Prettner Solon _http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/members/member_emailform.php?mem_id=1061& ls_ (http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/members/member_emailform.php?mem_id=1061&ls) = 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Room G-9 St. Paul, MN 55155-1606 651.296.7593 Vice Chair - John Doll _sen.john.doll [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.john.doll [at] senate.mn) 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Capitol Building, Room G-9 St. Paul, MN 55155-1606 651.296.5975 Senator Julie A. Rosen (R) District 24 _sen.julie.rosen [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.julie.rosen [at] senate.mn) 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. State Office Building, Room 109 St. Paul, MN 55155-1206 651.296.5713 Senator Ellen R. Anderson (DFL) District 66 _http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/members/member_emailform.php?mem_id=1001& ls_ (http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/members/member_emailform.php?mem_id=1001&ls) = 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Capitol Building, Room 120 St. Paul, MN 55155-1606 651.296.5537 Senator Jim Carlson (DFL) District 38 _sen.jim.carlson [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.jim.carlson [at] senate.mn) 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Capitol Building, Room G-9 St. Paul, MN 55155-1606 651.297.8073 Senator Kevin L. Dahle (DFL) District 25 _sen.kevin.dahle [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.kevin.dahle [at] senate.mn) 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Capitol Building, Room 320 St. Paul, MN 55155-1606 651.296.1279 Senator D. Scott Dibble (DFL) District 60 _sen.scott.dibble [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.scott.dibble [at] senate.mn) 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Capitol Building, Room 111 St. Paul, MN 55155-1606 651.296.4191 Senator Michael J. Jungbauer (R) District 48 _sen.mike.jungbauer [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.mike.jungbauer [at] senate.mn) 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. State Office Building, Room 121 St. Paul, MN 55155-1206 651.296.3733 Senator Amy T. Koch (R) District 19 _sen.amy.koch [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.amy.koch [at] senate.mn) 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. State Office Building, Room 131 St. Paul, MN 55155-1206 651.296.5981 Senator Rick E. Olseen (DFL) District 17 _sen.rick.olseen [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.rick.olseen [at] senate.mn) 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Capitol Building, Room G-24 St. Paul, MN 55155-1606 651.296.5419 Senator Sandy Rummel (DFL) District 53 _http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/members/member_emailform.php?mem_id=1110& ls_ (http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/members/member_emailform.php?mem_id=1110&ls) = 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Capitol Building, Room 323 St. Paul, MN 55155-1606 651.296.1253 Senator David H. Senjem (R) District 29 _sen.david.senjem [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.david.senjem [at] senate.mn) 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. State Office Building, Room 147 St. Paul, MN 55155-1206 651.296.3903 Senator Kathy Sheran (DFL) District 23 _sen.kathy.sheran [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.kathy.sheran [at] senate.mn) 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Capitol Building, Room G-24 St. Paul, MN 55155-1606 Senator Dan Sparks (DFL) District 27 _sen.daniel.sparks [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.daniel.sparks [at] senate.mn) 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Capitol Building, Room 317 St. Paul, MN 55155-1606 651.296.9248 Senator Ray Vandeveer (R) District 52 _sen.ray.vandeveer [at] senate.mn_ (mailto:sen.ray.vandeveer [at] senate.mn) 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. State Office Building, Room 107 St. Paul, MN 55155-1206 651.296.4351 651.296.6153 -- MN Senate Testimony by the West Metro Global Warming Action Group, Inc. 3/2/10 Madam Chair and Committee members, Hello, my name is Danene Provencher and I am representing the West Metro Global Warming Action Group from the west suburbs. My intent today, with my testimony, is to dispel some of the myths being used to market nuclear energy as clean, cheap, abundant, and safe, and that it results in no carbon footprint. The issue of nuclear power being used as an answer to fight global warming has led our organization into researching the pros and cons of nuclear energy. Please allow me to address some of our concerns: 1. Nuclear energy is not clean. Though the actual emissions of a nuclear power plant do not directly emit CO2, there is much concern about the toxicity of the spent fuel rods without any storage solutions, the by product of plutonium which has a half-life of 376,000 years according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission website, which cannot be safely stored, nor does any country have a permanent storage solution at this time. Also the presence of radioactive materials during the mining stages, producing uranium tailings have sickened communities due to lack of proper cleanup and have contaminated their drinking wells, along with the potential hazards of transporting radioactive materials in all phases of nuclear manufacturing. As one of many examples, according to an April, 2004 report by the General Accounting Office, the U.S. will spend, in 2002 dollars, over $7 billion through 2070 to clean up a former uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky. [http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-457.] and a most recent example is the shutdown of the Vermont Yankee reactor by a vote of 26-4 by the VT Senate due to the toxic tritium leaks in their groundwater. 2. Nuclear Power has a greater carbon footprint than renewable energy. Based on an Energy Policy study by Professor Benjamin K. Sovacool - It should be noted that nuclear power is not directly emitting greenhouse gas emissions, but rather that lifecycle emissions occur through plant construction, operation, uranium mining and milling, and plant decommissioning, and The Oxford Research Group projects that if the percentage of world nuclear capacity remains what it is today, by 2050 nuclear power would generate as much carbon dioxide per kWh as comparable gas-fired power stations, as the grade of available uranium ore decreases (Barnaby and Kemp, 2007a, b). 3. Nuclear energy is not cheap. Based on research from Public Citizen, the nuclear power industry continues to be dependent on taxpayer's handouts, despite the promise of over 50 years ago of energy "too cheap to meter" . From 1947 through 1999 the nuclear industry was subsidized by over $115 billion in direct taxpayer subsidies. Including Price Anderson limitations on nuclear liability, the federal subsidies reached over $145.4 billion. Federal government subsidies for wind and solar only totaled $5.7 billion over the same period. Additional taxpayer subsidies for the management of radioactive wastes and reactor decommissioning add to further cost. Assuming that all of the $54.5 billion in nuclear loan guarantees being sought by the current administration in the 2011 budget are successful, the industry will provide less than one percent of the nation's current electrical generating capacity. Replacing the existing fleet of 104 reactors which are expected to shut down by 2056 could cost about $1.4 trillion. Add to that another $500 billion for a 50% increase above current nuclear generation capacity to make a meaningful impact on reducing carbon emissions. This means the U.S. would have to start bringing a new reactor on line at a rate between once a week to once a month for the next several decades. 4. Nuclear energy is not guaranteed to be abundant. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, our country supplies only 8% of uranium used in U.S. reactors. The rest is purchased from foreign countries, some of who may not be reliable friends, such as the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. 5. Nuclear power is not safe. If nuclear power were safe, Congress would not have needed to enact the "Price-Anderson Act" in 1957, which established liability limits for damages that utility companies must pay in the event of a nuclear power plant disaster. Any damages above the liability limits would be paid by taxpayers. This public policy decision was explicitly acknowledged by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case entitled Duke Power Company v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, Inc. where the court stated, " [T]he potential liability dwarfed the ability of the industry and private insurance companies to absorb the risk". [S]pokesmen for the private sector informed Congress that they would be forced to withdraw from the field if their liability were not limited by appropriate legislation. Congress responded in 1957 by passing the Price-Anderson Act Nuclear power needs liability limits under the Price-Anderson Act, renewable energy does not. Also, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has much to say about the vulnerabilities and lack of security of nuclear power plants from acts of terrorism. 6. Nuclear power is not needed. The U.S. can meet 100% of its energy needs by renewable energy resources as stated in the Scientific American Magazine (Nov. 2009) and also Dr. Makhijani's book, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy (2007).] Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to provide these facts and I hope you will consider them in your decision and continue to uphold the moratorium on building any new nuclear power plants. Danene Provencher, board member, _www.wmgwag.org_ (http://www.wmgwag.org/) --------2 of 5-------- From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at] driscollgroup.com> Subject: Hiawatha power 3.03 11am TRUTH TO TELL 11AM -MARCH 3: MIDTOWN POWERPLAY: High-Voltage Community Clash KFAI - 90.3FM-Minneapolis/106.7FM Saint Paul and STREAMING at KFAI.org WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3 - 11:00AM TTT revisits Xcel Energy's continuing push to place electrical substations in the Hiawatha corridor and high-voltage lines over the Midtown Greenway. Despite reams of testimony and several "Friend of the Court" briefs being filed in what's called a contested case, Xcel persists in its claim that additional capacity is needed in this area of the city. The guardians of that recessed corridor of walking and biking trails along the old railroad right-of-way north of Lake Street through the heart of South Minneapolis to the Mississippi, the Midtown Greenway Coalition (MGC), essentially say, Prove it. The MGC cites Minnesota's rules and regulations for determining such need before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issues the OK for erecting towers adjacent to and crossing the Greenway and stringing high-voltage lines to a proposed substation at Hiawatha. Lake Street businesses believe additional power capacity is absolutely essential, but they can see why Greenway folks - backed by their neighborhood members in Phillips (including Little Earth), Corcoran, Seward and Longfellow neighborhoods, among other friends, insist that, if the line is built, it could go underground just as easily as overhead. The issues and emotions run deep. More than simple aesthetics, public safety issues are in dispute as the the formal Draft Environmental Impact Statement issued in January will be dissected and commented on in coming weeks before going before the PUC, then, most likely, to a contested case hearing before Administrative Law Judge Beverly Jones Heidinger once again. TTT's ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN talk with a couple of the principals in the legal and policy clash that has thus far consumed well over a year of public and coalition/neighborhood time and angst. GUESTS: TIM SPRINGER - Executive Director, Midtown Greenway Coalition PAUL ADELMANN - Xcel Energy Community Relations Manager for City of Minneapolis Other Information Links for the Curious: Midtown Greenway's Grid Expansion Page Xcel Enrgy's Hiawatha Project site Public Utilities Commission Xcel Project site AND YOU! CAN'T GET STREAM TTT LIVE and LATER --------3 of 5-------- From: jwilson [at] enp-news.org Subject: ENP.Dolan 3.03 6:30pm Comrades and Freinds of the Edgertonite National Party: Just a friendly reminder that the next meeting is Wednesday, 3 March 2010 at 6:30 PM at the Bad Waitress, 2 E. 26th St., Minneapolis, MN, and you are cordially invited! Perhaps we can discuss the Dolan reappointment as part of the meeing.... Please come! Sincerely, John Charles Wilson National Chirman, ENP --------4 of 5-------- The Top 10 Reasons We Don't Need More Nukes by Alisa Gravitz Published on Monday, March 1, 2010 by CommonDreams.org Many of President Barack Obama's domestic priorities seem intractably stuck in partisan gridlock, but one of his recent State of the Union proposals appears to be moving ahead quickly: taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for so-called "safe, clean, nuclear power plants". The Energy Department has already announced a new $8.3 billion loan guarantee for new nuclear plants in Georgia, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu is using Facebook to explain why the administration believes nukes are necessary. "No single technology can provide all of the answers," Chu says. "We need nuclear power as part of a comprehensive solution". No way. While it's certainly true that our energy needs require a diversity of solutions, nuclear power shouldn't be in the mix. Solar, wind, and geothermal power, combined with energy efficiency, can overcome our reliance on fossil fuels, provide energy security, and mitigate the climate crisis. Here are the top 10 reasons why we shouldn't build any more nuclear reactors: 1. Nuclear waste -- The waste from nuclear power plants will be toxic for humans for more than 100,000 years. It's untenable now to secure and store all of the waste from the plants that exist. To scale up to 2,500 or 3,000, let alone 17,000 plants is unthinkable. Nuclear proponents hope that the next generation of nuclear plants will generate much less waste, but this technology is not yet fully developed or proven. Even if new technology eventually can successful reduce the waste involved, the waste that remains will still be toxic for 100,000 years. There will be less per plant, perhaps, but likely more overall, should nuclear power scale up to 2,500, 3,000 or 17,000 plants. No community should have to accept nuclear waste site, or even accept the risks of nuclear waste being transported through on route to its final destination. The waste problem alone should take nuclear power off the table. The proposed solution a national nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain is overbudget and won't provide a safe solution either. The people of Nevada don't want that nuclear waste facility there. Also, we would need to transfer the waste to this facility from plants around the country and drive it there - which puts communities across the country at risk. 2. Nuclear proliferation - In discussing the nuclear proliferation issue, Al Gore said, "During my 8 years in the White House, every nuclear weapons proliferation issue we dealt with was connected to a nuclear reactor program." Iran and North Korea are reminding us of this every day. We can't develop a domestic nuclear energy program without confronting proliferation in other countries. Here too, nuclear power proponents hope that the reduction of nuclear waste will reduce the risk of proliferation from any given plant, but again, the technology is not there yet. If we want to be serious about stopping proliferation in the rest of the world, we need to get serious here at home, and not push the next generation of nuclear proliferation forward as an answer to climate change. There is simply no way to guarantee that nuclear materials will not fall into the wrong hands 3. National Security - Nuclear reactors represent a clear national security risk, and an attractive target for terrorists. In researching the security around nuclear power plants, Robert Kennedy, Jr. found that there are at least eight relatively easy ways to cause a major meltdown at a nuclear power plant. What's more, Kennedy has sailed boats right into the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the Hudson River outside of New York City not just once but twice, to point out the lack of security around nuclear plants. The unfortunate fact is that our nuclear power plants remain unsecured, without adequate evacuation plans in the case of an emergency. Remember the government response to Hurricane Katrina, and cross that with a Chernobyl-style disaster to begin to imagine what a terrorist attack at a nuclear power plant might be like. 4. Accidents - Forget terrorism for a moment, and remember that mere accidents - human error or natural disasters - can wreak just as much havoc at a nuclear power plant site. The Chernobyl disaster forced the evacuation and resettlement of nearly 400,000 people, with thousands poisoned by radiation. Here in the US, the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979 triggered a clean-up effort that ultimately lasted for nearly 15 years, and topped more than one billion dollars in cost. The cost of cleaning up after one of these disasters is simply too great, in both dollars and human cost - and if we were to scale up to 17,000 plants, is it reasonable to imagine that not one of them would ever have a single meltdown? Many nuclear plants are located close to major population centers. For example, there's a plant just up the Hudson from New York City. If there was an accident, evacuation would be impossible. 5. Cancer -- There are growing concerns that living near nuclear plants increases the risk for childhood leukemia and other forms of cancer - even when a plant has an accident-free track record. One Texas study found increased cancer rates in north central Texas since the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant was established in 1990, and a recent German study found childhood leukemia clusters near several nuclear power sites in Europe. [What's a little leukemia in order for our ruling-class vermin to get a few more yachts or high-priced whores for their evil-besotted useless lives? So good numbers of us die writhing in pain - who gives a damn about us? - it's all for THEM, the glorious ever-wonderful THEM. -ed According to Dr. Helen Caldicott, a nuclear energy expert, nuclear power plants produce numerous dangerous, carcinogenic elements. Among them are: iodine 131, which bio-concentrates in leafy vegetables and milk and can induce thyroid cancer; strontium 90, which bio-concentrates in milk and bone, and can induce breast cancer, bone cancer, and leukemia; cesium 137, which bio-concentrates in meat, and can induce a malignant muscle cancer called a sarcoma; and plutonium 239. Plutonium 239 is so dangerous that one-millionth of a gram is carcinogenic, and can cause liver cancer, bone cancer, lung cancer, testicular cancer, and birth defects. Because safe and healthy power sources like solar and wind exist now, we don't have to rely on risky nuclear power. 6. Not enough sites - Scaling up to 17,000 - or 2,500 or 3,000 -- nuclear plants isn't possible simply due to the limitation of feasible sites. Nuclear plants need to be located near a source of water for cooling, and there aren't enough locations in the world that are safe from droughts, flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, or other potential disasters that could trigger a nuclear accident. Over 24 nuclear plants are at risk of needing to be shut down this year because of the drought in the Southeast. No water, no nuclear power. There are many communities around the country that simply won't allow a new nuclear plant to be built - further limiting potential sites. [They could just be taken over by martial law... -ed] And there are whole areas of the world that are unsafe because of political instability and the high risk of proliferation. In short, geography, local politics, political instability and climate change itself, there are not enough sites for a scaled up nuclear power strategy. Remember that climate change is causing stronger storms and coastal flooding, which in turn reduces the number of feasible sites for nuclear power plants. Furthermore, due to all of the other strikes against nuclear power, many communities will actively fight against nuclear plants coming into their town. How could we get enough communities on board to accept the grave risks of nuclear power, if we need to build 17, let alone, 17,000 new plants? [A: permanent county-wide martial law. -ed] 7. Not enough uranium - Even if we could find enough feasible sites for a new generation of nuclear plants, we're running out of the uranium necessary to power them. Scientists in both the US and UK have shown that if the current level of nuclear power were expanded to provide all the world's electricity, our uranium would be depleted in less than ten years. As uranium supplies dwindle, nuclear plants will actually begin to use up more energy to mine and mill the uranium than can be recovered through the nuclear reactor process. What's more, dwindling supplies will trigger the use of ever lower grades of uranium, which produce ever more climate-change-producing emissions - resulting in a climate-change catch 22. 8. Costs - Some types of energy production, such as solar power, experience decreasing costs to scale. Like computers and cell phones, when you make more solar panels, costs come down. Nuclear power, however, will experience increasing costs to scale. Due to dwindling sites and uranium resources, each successive new nuclear power plant will only see its costs rise, with taxpayers and consumers ultimately paying the price. [Well, but, WE don't count. -ed] What's worse, nuclear power is centralized power. A nuclear power plant brings few jobs to its local economy. In contrast, accelerating solar and energy efficiency solutions creates jobs good-paying, green collar, jobs in every community. [Promotes democracy - dangerous to the aristocracy. -ed] Around the world, nuclear plants are seeing major cost overruns. For example, a new generation nuclear plant in Finland is already experiencing numerous problems and cost overruns of 25 percent of its $4 billion budget. The US government's current energy policy providing more than $11 billion in subsidies to the nuclear energy could be much better spent providing safe and clean energy that would give a boost to local communities, like solar and wind power do. Subsidizing costly nuclear power plants directs that money to large, centralized facilities, built by a few large companies that will take the profits out of the communities they build in. 9. Private sector unwilling to finance - Due to all of the above, the private sector has largely chosen to take a pass on the financial risks of nuclear power, which is what led the industry to seek taxpayer loan guarantees from Congress in the first place. As the Nuclear Energy Institute recently reported in a brief to the US Department of Energy, "100 percent loan coverage [by taxpayers] is essential ... because the capital markets are unwilling, now and for the foreseeable future, to provide the financing necessary" for new nuclear power plants. Wall Street refuses to invest in nuclear power because the plants are assumed to have a 50 percent default rate. The only way that Wall Street will put their money behind these plants is if American taxpayers underwrite the risks. If the private sector has deemed nuclear power too risky, it makes no sense to force taxpayers to bear the burden. And finally, even if all of the above strikes against nuclear power didn't exist, nuclear power still can't be a climate solution because there is 10. No time - Even if nuclear waste, proliferation, national security, accidents, cancer and other dangers of uranium mining and transport, lack of sites, increasing costs, and a private sector unwilling to insure and finance the projects weren't enough to put an end to the debate of nuclear power as a solution for climate change, the final nail in nuclear's coffin is time. We have the next ten years to mount a global effort against climate change. It simply isn't possible to build 17,000 - or 2,500 or 17 for that matter - in ten years. With so many strikes against nuclear power, it should be off the table as a climate solution, and we need to turn our energies toward the technologies and strategies that can truly make a difference: solar power, wind power, and energy conservation. Distributed by Minuteman Media Alisa Gravitz is executive director of Green America. --------5 of 5-------- America's Supremes: Court Over Constitution by Stephen Lendman February 26th, 2010 Dissident Voice [A catalog of the Court v. Democracy. -ed] On October 13, 1932, in laying the Supreme Court Building's cornerstone, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes said: "The Republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith". The words "Equal Justice Under Law" adorn its west facade. Facing east is the motto "Justice, the Guardian of Liberty". Since the Court's 1789 establishment, these words belie its decisions, arguments, and "supreme" allegiance to power, not "We the people". Since its founding, privilege always counted most in America. The prevailing fiction then and now is that constitutional checks and balances restrain government, the founders having created an egalitarian country free from wealth and poverty extremes common most elsewhere. Like today, wealthy 18th century colonialists had vastly disproportional land holdings; controlled banking, commerce and industry; assured its own ran the government and courts; and the supreme law of the land, then and now, deters no president, sitting government, or Supreme Court from doing what they wish. >From inception, America was always ruled by men, not laws, who lie, connive, misinterpret and pretty much do what they want for their own self-interest and powerful constituents. In 1787, "the people" who mattered most were elitists. The American revolution substituted new management for old. Everything changed but stayed the same under a system establishing: . the illusion of democracy; today the best one money can buy; even "better" now with unfettered corporate spending and two-thirds of federal judges from or affiliated with the extremist Federalist Society (FS); it advocates rolling back civil liberties; ending New Deal social policies; opposing reproductive choice, government regulations, labor rights and environmental protections; and subverting justice in defense of privilege; current SCOTUS members from or affiliated with FS include Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas; . a powerful chief executive at the top; a virtual dictator in times of war; . a bicameral Congress with a single senatorial member able to thwart the will of the majority; . a committee system run by power brokers; . one vulnerable to lobbyist interests; . staggered elections to assure continuity; . a one-party state with two wings, vulnerable to corruption; and . a separate judiciary with power to overrule Congress and the Executive, and at times does. The Constitution's "We the People" opening words are meaningless window dressing. So is Article I, Section 8 stating: "The Congress shall have power to provide for (the) general welfare of the United States" - the so-called welfare clause applicable also to the Executive and High Court. The record shows otherwise - decades of permanent wars, repressive laws, rampant crime, unsafe streets, injustice, political corruption, dishonest police, racketeering labor officials, corporate fraud, raging unaddressed social problems, rare efforts to change things, and since the 1970s, virtually none. The notion of "government of the people, by the people and for the people" is bogus on its face. People don't govern directly or through representatives. They are governed by the rich and well-born, movers and shakers, wheeler dealers, power brokers, a Wall Street crowd looking after themselves at the expense of most others. It's how America always worked, including the High Court, established under the Constitution's Article III stating: "The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish". Congress is explicitly empowered to regulate the Court, but, in fact, the Court often controls Congress, freely using what's called "judicial review," even though it's unmentioned in the Constitution and the founders didn't authorize it. The concept derives from Article VI, Section 2 saying the Constitution, laws, and treaties are the "supreme Law of the Land" and judges are bound by them. Also from Article III, Section 1 saying judicial power applies to all cases, implying judicial review is allowed. Under this interpretation, appointed judges literally have power to annul acts of Congress and presidential decisions - though nothing in the Constitution explicitly allows this. The famous 1803 Marbury v. Madison decision was defining. As articulated by Chief Justice John Marshall, it established the principle of judicial supremacy, meaning the Court is the final arbiter of what is or is not the law. He set a precedent by voiding an act of Congress and the President, and put a brake on congressional and presidential powers - except that Executives are only constrained to the degree they wish, able to take full advantage of Article II, Section 1 stating: "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America," and Article II, Section 3 stating: "The President shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed," omitting that they lawlessly make them through Executive Orders, Presidential Directives, and other means, including George Bush claiming "Unitary Executive" powers, what Chalmers Johnson called a "ball-faced assertion of presidential supremacy dressed up in legal mumbo jumbo". However, no constitutional wording explicitly permits this. Yet Congress and the High Court rarely override the Executive, so effectively he's empowered with vast, frightening authority, including as commander-in-chief of the military, an autonomous capacity in peace but dictatorial during war. With some ingenuity, Executives have sovereign power. Congress is mostly a paper tiger, and the High Court usually upholds presidential authority. But if it wishes, it can make laws it wants by judicial rulings. Notable Court Decisions . in Fletcher v. Peck (1810), the law of property rights was stabilized, especially contracts for the purchase of land; it was one of the first times the Court ruled a state law unconstitutional; . in Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819), the Court held that private corporate charters were contracts, and as such, were protected by the Constitution's Article I, Section 10 Contract Clause including among other provisions that: .No State shall (make any) Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.;. . in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), the Court ruled that a state can't tax a bank branch established by an act of Congress; . in Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), the Court upheld the supremacy of the United States over the individual states in the regulation of intestate commerce; . in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), the Court ruled that black slaves and their descendants had no constitutional protections; could never become US citizens; that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in federal territories; slaves couldn't sue for redress and their freedom; and as chattel property, they couldn't be taken from owners without due process; The decision was never overruled, but in the 1873 Slaughter-House Cases, the Court held that the 14th Amendment annulled part of it by making all native born Americans citizens by birth. . in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Court affirmed segregation in public places; . in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886), the Court granted corporations personhood under the 14th Amendment with all accruing rights and privileges but none of the obligations; The case and Court ruling involved a simple land dispute, unrelated to corporate personhood. After the decision, the Court reporter, JC Bancroft Davis, wrote it in his "headnotes". The Court allowed it to give corporations the same rights as people, but their limited liability absolved them of the obligations, empowering them to become the dominant institution of our times, able to control Congress, the Executive, and win numerous other favorable Court decisions. Of all High Court rulings, this was the most far-reaching and harmful. It gave corporations unchecked powers, let them grow to oligarchic size, operate outside the law, and subvert the general welfare. . in Lochner v. New York (1905), the Court held that a "liberty of contract" was implicit in the 14th Amendment's due process clause, rejecting a New York law limiting the number of hours a baker could work for reasons of health; calling it "unreasonable, unnecessary and arbitrary interference with the right and liberty of the individual to contract," it was one of the Court's most controversial decisions during the Lochner era from 1897-1937, when numerous laws regulating working conditions were invalidated in favor of property rights; . in Korematsu v. United States (1944), the Court ruled Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order (EO) 9066 constitutional, ordering the internment of Japanese Americans during WW II; Korematsu challenged his conviction for violating the EO; in 1984, the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in his favor, Judge Marilyn Patel stating: "there is substantial support in the record that the government deliberately omitted relevant information (including military justification) in provided misleading information in papers before the court" that was critical to the Supreme Court's decision. . in Bush v. Gore (2000), the Court overruled the majority vote to make George Bush president; it overrode Florida's Supreme Court, halting the state recount on the spurious grounds that it violated the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, an implausible argument but it held; it was the first time ever in US history that the Court reversed the popular will, installing its preferred candidate instead; months later, when it was too late to matter, a media-sponsored National Opinion Research Center tabulation of all uncounted votes showed Gore won Florida and was elected president; he knew it all along but didn't contest; . in Watters v. Twombly (2007), the Court prevented states from regulating national bank subsidiaries just as the subprime crisis erupted; . in Regents of the University of California v. Merrill Lynch (2008), the court denied restitution from Enron's collusion and defrauding investors; in Arthur Andersen v. United States (2005), it absolved Enron's partner in crime ruling jury instructions "failed to convey the requisite consciousness of wrongdoing" because jurors were told to convict Andersen if it had an "improper purpose," even if it thought it was acting legally; of course, Andersen knew the law, knew it acted illegally, but thought it could get away with it and did; . in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Court sided with the gun lobby saying even though they're "aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country". constitutional rights necessarily (take) policy choices off the table;. . in Exxon Shipping v. Baker (2008 - 19 years after the Exxon Valdez spill), the Court reduced the original $5 billion punitive damage award to $500 million; this and earlier cases lowered the bar for future malfeasance settlements, the Court nearly always siding with business, giving fraudulent and negligent companies wide latitude to endanger the public and get away with it; . in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), the Court ruled that the government can't put limits on corporate spending in political elections as doing so violates First Amendment freedoms, legal "political speech," according to Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 5-4 majority. The decision overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990), restricting corporate political spending on the notion that "(c)orporate wealth can unfairly influence elections," and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003), upholding part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (the McCain-Feingold Act) restricting corporate and union campaign spending. In its January ruling, the Court set a precedent, but does it matter given the political power of big money, past failures to curb it, and Professor John Kozy saying: "Expecting the Congress, most if not all of whose members reside deep in corporate pockets, to eliminate that influence can be likened to expected the rhinovirus to eliminate the common cold. Corporate money (in large or smaller amounts) is the diseased life-blood of American politics; it carries its cancerous spores to all extremities". As for the Court, Kozy cited Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' Lochner dissent, saying "the Court has taken its task to be the constitutionalization of a totally immoral, rapacious, economic system instead of the promotion of justice, domestic tranquility, the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty". However, as HL Mencken observed, Holmes was no "advocate of the rights of man (but rather) an advocate of the rights of lawmakers. (Under his judicial philosophy), there would be scarcely any brake at all upon lawmaking, and the Bill of Rights would have no more significance than the Code of Manu (referring to discrimination against women in Hindu literature)". Of course, the same observation applies throughout Court history with past civil libertarians far outnumbered by supporters of the established order and big money that runs it. For every William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall there have been dozens of John Jays (the first chief justice), Roger Taneys, William Howard Tafts, Scalias, Burgers, Rehnquists, and Roberts. Even liberal Republican Earl Warren, as California Attorney General, supported interning Japanese Americans during WW II, despite later writing the unanimous Brown v. Board of Education decision as Chief Justice as well as supporting other progressive rulings. Under Lyndon Johnson, however, he also chaired the Warren Commission cover-up of Jack Kennedy's assassination, saying: ". there may be some things that would involve security. This would be preserved but not made public," even though the public has a right to know as a democratic state's final arbiter. The Commission took testimony in secret, later publishing sanitized versions two months after the Warren Report. It prompted critics like Sylvia Meagher in her landmark book titled, ."Accessories After the Fact" to rebut the Commission's findings, largely based on evidence it published. It excluded everything deemed sensitive and called Lee Harvey Oswald the lone assassin, a conclusion very much in dispute with growing evidence to prove it. Michael Parenti calls the Supreme Court an "autocratic branch" of government. Its members are appointed, serve for life, and have great power for good or ill, nearly always supporting institutions of power, including corporate America. Even during the 1930s, "the Supreme Court was the activist bastion of laissez-faire capitalism" until public and White House pressure got it to accept New Deal legislation. Post-1960s courts, however, reverted to form: making it harder to prove discrimination; weakening Miranda rights, diluting Roe v. Wade; giving child abusers more rights than victims; weakening unreasonable searches and seizures; turning a blind eye to illegal surveillance; reinstating the death penalty in 1976; supporting economic inequality by upholding laws reducing welfare and other rulings against the disadvantaged; granting more executive power to the president; siding with business against labor and victims of corporate fraud and harmful products; ignoring the separation of church and state by granting religious organizations tax exemptions; ruling in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) for a federal law limiting campaign contributions, but saying money influencing elections is constitutionally protected speech, and candidates may give unlimited amounts to their own campaigns; and numerous other pro-business, pro-state power rulings. As for unfettered political spending, Ralph Nader's comments were unsurprising, saying "The Supremes Bow(ed) to King Corporation," further weakening a fragile democracy and deeply corrupted electoral process. With Washington already corporate occupied territory, it's debatable what more they need do. But they: can now directly pour (unlimited) amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars. Without (shareholder) approval, (they) can reward or intimidate people running for office at the local, state, and national levels. The Court saying "Government may not suppress political speech based on the speaker's corporate identity" means influence depends on the ability to buy it. The public is more than ever left out. The electoral process is further corrupted, and the notion of free, fair, and open elections is fanciful, absurd, and the reason many voters opt out. Nader supports a grassroots effort for a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood and get big money out of politics. Also vital are: publicly funded elections; independent parties and candidates; repeal of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), empowering corporations through easily manipulated touchscreen electronic voting machines, replacing them with hand-counted paper ballots, administered by independent civil servants; and numerous other reforms to turn sham elections into real ones. Most important is: America's growing repressiveness; its abandonment of the rule of law, due process, and judicial fairness for society's most disadvantaged; its bogus democracy under a homeland police state apparatus; permanent war agenda; growing denial of civil liberties and constitutional freedoms; letting social services erode when they're most needed during growing economic duress; and the High Court's acquiesce propelling America toward tyranny unless an aroused public intervenes to stop it. So far, there's not a hint of it in sight. Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. Contact him at: lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen, or visit Stephen's website. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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