This movie came out in 1988, at the end of the Reagan years. Homelessness and yuppies existed side by side. It was an awkward juxtaposition for people with empathy.
During that time many people figured, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Even if it meant having no empathy for others. Look out for number One, especially if he looks like you! Get that BMW and Rolex! If people have a problem getting work it was their fault, not the power structure or the system.
What kind of people would act this way? Certainly not good Christians given what that guy Jesus said in the parables in the New Testament. It was hard to believe that decent humans could act this way. Therefore they must not be themselves. So that is what the filmmakers did, made greedy, selfish people into actual ugly aliens.
Yes it's a simplistic metaphor, but the movie creator then went beyond it to include humans who weren't aliens, but who believed in the alien "values." Let's call them "aspirational aliens."
Drifter: What's wrong with having it good for a change? Now they're gonna let us have it good if we just help 'em. They're gonna leave us alone, let us make some money. You can have a little taste of that good life too. Now, I know you want it. Hell, everybody does.
Drifter: What's the threat? We all sell out every day, might as well be on the winning team.
Join the winning team! Why associate with the poor, even if they are like you. Don't be a loser! Outsource the jobs at your company and you get a cut of the profits. Get that juicy government contract, then bitch about welfare for, "those people." Winner!
Frank: The steel mills were laying people off left and right. They finally went under. We gave the steel companies a break when they needed it. You know what they gave themselves? Raises.
One of the themes of the movie was how the aliens in the media helped the aliens in the government. The media amplified the messages of consuming goods and obeying authority. Meanwhile, the aliens literally sent our wealth away from Earth.
Some of the people who Piper wanted to join him in the struggle against the aliens had to be forced to see the truth. (This involved a classic alley fight scene with Piper and Keith David video link )
When Keith David finally sees what is happening, the scope of the alien's power and control is stunning.
Together they do the best they can to fight the aliens and their human collaborators. They become hunted criminals in the process. Who can they turn to for help? Who are their allies? Not the media, they had profits to make.
The media attacked the people handing out the glasses that let everyone see the truth for themselves. It's easier to write the truth tellers off as nuts. Fortunately, some in the media were still human, and helped.
The heroes' crime was trying to open people's eyes to what was hiding behind media and government fronts. Does any of this sound familiar? Have you heard a story like this lately?
Today the actor Rowdy Roddy Piper is dead, but "they" live.
We have always had greedy humans selling out fellow humans for profit, demanding everyone submit to their authority and obey, no questions asked. But we need to keep fighting them in our life and within our fiction.
Let's listen to Piper give the inspiring words of screenplay author John Carpenter
In a biting pre-emptive attack delivered as Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, waited backstage here at the annual convention of the National Urban League, Mrs. Clinton portrayed him as a hypocrite who had set back the cause of black Americans.
Mrs. Clinton, a Democratic candidate for president, latched onto Mr. Bush’s campaign slogan and the name of his “super PAC” — “Right to Rise,” his shorthand for a conservative agenda of self-reliance and hope — and turned it into a verbal spear.
“People can’t rise if they can’t afford health care,” Mrs. Clinton said to applause from conventiongoers, a dig at Mr. Bush’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
“They can’t rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on,” she said, a jab at his opposition to raising the federal minimum wage.
“They can’t rise if their governor makes it harder for them to get a college education,” she said, a critique of Mr. Bush’s decision as governor to eliminate affirmative action in college admissions.
When Mr. Bush reached the lectern, declaring, “I believe in the right to rise in this country,” the scent of political gunpowder was still in the air.
It was an unexpected moment of campaign theater that seemed to presage Mrs. Clinton’s general-election strategy should she prevail in her party’s primary contest: an elbows-out, cutting approach to her Republican rival. And it was all the more striking because the Bush and Clinton families make a point of highlighting their friendly ties: Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush appear on this week’s cover of Time magazine.
Aides to Mr. Bush could barely hide their disgust over Mrs. Clinton’s speech, which they spoke of, bitterly, as uncivil and uncalled-for.
On Twitter, Tim Miller, Mr. Bush’s communications director, called it a “Clintonesque move to pass over chance to unite in favor of a false cheap shot.”
Allie Brandenburger, another spokeswoman for Mr. Bush, followed up with an email saying, “The Urban League deserved better.”
It's just so darned mean of her to criticize Jeb's wonderful "conservative agenda of self-reliance and hope" like that. Why you'd think she was running against him for president or something! It's just not nice at all. And I'll bet her husband felt like a real heel seeing her treat his good buddy George's brother so disrespectfully. How could she embarrass him like that in front of his friends? What a bitch.
You know, if this criticism of his agenda upset Jeb this much he's obviously too delicate for presidential politics. He might want to think about dropping out and becoming one of those Christian florists who refuse to arrange flowers for gay people.
GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is open to the idea of using federal troops and the FBI to stop women from having abortions.
"I will not pretend there is nothing we can do to stop this," Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and an outspoken social conservative, said Thursday at a campaign stop in Jefferson, Iowa.
Huckabee addressed abortion again at his next stop in Rockwell City, Iowa, where a reporter asked him whether stopping abortion would mean using federal troops or the FBI.
"We'll see if I get to be president," Huckabee said, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
"All American citizens should be protected," he added.
The Huckabee campaign did not immediately return a request for more comment on what deploying troops or using the FBI to stop women from having abortions would look like.
Huckabee has long spoken out against abortion, and last year, he suggested that the issue was worse than the Holocaust.
"If you felt something incredibly powerful at Auschwitz and Birkenau over the 11 million killed worldwide and the 1.5 million killed on those grounds, cannot we feel something extraordinary about 55 million murdered in our own country in the wombs of their mothers?" he asked.
By their mothers. Who are obviously exactly like Waffen SS.
Hey, Scott Walker thinks kindergarten teachers are like ISIS so is this really that different?
Update: Erick Erickson believes that before we bring out the troops to stand guard between every pregnant woman's legs, we can certainly try something less drastic:
I intend to ask each POTUS candidate next week if they’d support a gov’t shutdown if that’s what it took to defund Planned Parenthood.
[T]he Kochs are not going to officially anoint their choice but their big checks, and those of their billionaire buds, are being closely watched for signs of who the “smart money” is betting on to come out on top. The current frontrunner Donald Trump was not invited, and according to this article is being actively blocked by the Koch network. Obviously, they think the eventual winner will be one of those four candidates (plus Carly Fiorina, for some reason.) Think about that for a moment. There are some extremely rich Republicans out there who think that Ted Cruz has what it takes to be president.
That in mind, let’s take a look at Cruz’s latest, shall we? In a blatant attempt to make Trump and Huckabee look like loser moderates, the Texas bomb thrower said the following earlier this week about the Iran nuclear non-proliferation agreement:
“If this deal is consummated, it will make the Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism. Billions of dollars under control of this administration will flow into the hands of jihadists who will use that money to murder Americans, to murder Israelis, to murder Europeans.”
If that isn’t an illustration of just how hard it is for this crop of GOP hopefuls to out-demagogue one another, I don’t know what is. Chamberlain to Hitler to radical Islamic extremist. There’s nothing left for Lindsey Graham to fulminate about except Satan.
One big money guy did call Cruz on the carpet for his hyperbole:
I am opposed to the Iran deal, but @SenTedCruz is way over the line on the Obama terrorism charge. Hurts the cause.
But the show must go on, and what kind of Big Top circus would it be without a first class ringmaster? With all the major conservative stars from every medium to choose from — from Megyn Kelly to Sean Hannity to Rich Lowry to Eric Erickson — it appears that the Kochs have gone in a different direction for their weekend soiree:
Politico’s chief White House correspondent Mike Allen has been booked to emcee part of an event set up by a group funded by the Koch brothers designed to connect Republican presidential candidates with wealthy donors, according to Politico.
Keep in mind that this is not a presidential debate for the public. It isn’t an issues forum or a town hall for voters and constituents. This is a meeting for big Republican donors to decide which candidate to give gigantic, unlimited campaign contributions thus putting their thumbs on the scale of democracy. And a highly respected establishment journalist is helping them do it.
Mike Konczal informs us of yet another sign that our society is rapidly devolving into feudalism:
It’s a common-sense notion that society’s wealth shouldn’t be governed by ghosts. “Our Creator made the earth for the use of the living and not of the dead,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. (Also: “One generation of men cannot foreclose or burthen its use to another.”) But in our new age of inequality—the top 10 percent now own nearly 80 percent of all wealth—old concerns about wealth and inheritance are coming back from the dead.
Americans have, historically, had a simple approach to dealing with wealth after its holder dies: You can do whatever you want with your property, but not for very long. Rich people can disinherit children. They can put extreme conditions on how their successors can inherit, like requiring marriage. They can build monuments to themselves or give everything to their pets. But they can only do it so long. Eventually, time catches up with them and their estates dissolve.
Or at least that’s how it used to be. Remember that the dead can’t actually do any of this themselves because they are, in fact, dead. Instead, a trust is empowered to carry out the last wishes of the deceased. A trust is simply a legal entity that contains property; people tell a trust what they want to do, and the trust acts like a ghost, enforcing their wishes beyond the grave. But there’s a safeguard built in to prevent abuses: Trusts have been governed by something called the rule against perpetuities, which places a roughly 100-year limit on how long they can exist. This prevents people with no connection to the living world from putting restrictions on our country’s wealth.
In recent years, the safeguard of time has been eroded. As the tax expert Ray D. Madoff documents in her 2010 book Immortality and the Law: The Rising Power of the American Dead, we are experiencing a rapid rise of dynasty trusts, which massively expand the power of the dead over the wealth of the living.
To take advantage of a change made to the tax code in the 1980s, states started to radically diminish or outright remove the rule against perpetuities in the 1990s. This resulted in a race to the bottom, with states competing to see which could most effectively restructure their laws to benefit the rich. By 2003, states weakening these rules received an estimated $100 billion in additional trust business. Now, 28 states allow trusts to live indefinitely, or nearly so, creating what are called perpetual dynasty trusts.
For many people, being rich is the purpose of life. Once they have achieved it the only thing they can do it try to perpetuate their wealth beyond their death by leaving it to their heirs. This is how aristocracies are created. Property rights are the fundamental raison d'etre of conservatism, it supersedes all other notions of freedom and liberty, which means that is it ultimately a feudalistic ideology. All the church going and pork rinds and NASCAR races are just window dressing.
Pope Erick Erickson has announced that no one is allowed to think differently than he does about the [Planned Parenthood]videos:
We have passed the point where Nazi comparisons are inappropriate. In the latest video about Planned Parenthood, if you want to watch it, you will see an admission that some of the children are born alive before being killed and carved up — their bodies being sold essentially for scrap.
If Republicans are not willing to make this their hill to die on and even see the government shutdown to stop this, the Republican Party needs to be shut down.
The Party of Lincoln that rose from the ashes of a whig Party that would not stand up to slavery must stand up to this evil. The American public is staring evil in the face and it looks a lot like them. It must end.
If Abraham Lincoln’s party will not fight to stop a practice that defends itself with the same arguments used by proponents of slavery, it is time for a new party….
You will be made to care about this. You will not be allowed to sit by and make excuses. You will be not be allowed to say it is tissue, goo, or innocent. These are human beings. These are the future of this country harvested for their organs. They are being killed. The arguments in support of it are the arguments in support of slavery. This is evil and you must care.
Well, evil is in the eye of the beholder.
For five years, I watched my best friend die of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a terrible disease that causes one’s muscles to waste away. First he struggled to walk, then to speak, then to breathe. One tube pushed air into his lungs; another pushed nutrients into his stomach. Toward the end, he could only move his eyes. ALS does not affect the brain; through it all, he remained perfectly aware of his slow-motion torture. After years of suffering, he died of respiratory failure, his body skeletal and ravaged, his mind alert to his suffocation until the last moments of life.
There is currently no cure for ALS. There will be some day. And that cure may very well be derived from stem cells taken from aborted fetuses.
I can’t help but remember that fact when I watch the videos, taken by undercover anti-abortion activists, of Planned Parenthood technicians discussing how to preserve fetal tissue to be donated for research. The graphic images of aborted fetuses are meant to disgust me, to convince me that abortion is a barbaric act of killing. But I don’t see death in these videos. I see hope.
ALS kills people by causing their motor neurons to degenerate. These neurons go from the brain to the spinal cord, then travel from the spinal cord to muscles throughout the body. When they degenerate, you lose the ability to control voluntary muscle movement. Eating, talking, swallowing, breathing: All of these functions rely, to some extent, on healthy motor neurons. When you can no longer move a muscle, it atrophies. Eventually, your respiratory muscles can no longer contract, and you suffocate.
Stem cells hold terrific promise for the treatment—and, eventually, the defeat—of ALS. The most useful stem cells are found in fertilized embryos and fetuses, where they haven’t yet developed into specialized cells. (Scientists can also reprogram adult cells to act like embryonic stem cells, but these reprogrammed cells, while useful for research, have not been shown to be therapeutically safe.)
A woman’s decision to donate her aborted fetus to medical research is deeply commendable. The first Food and Drug Administration–approved clinical trials to treat ALS with fetal stem cells are already underway. Any treatment derived from fetal tissue is many years away at best, but the early research has been a success. Stem cells injected into ALS patients’ spinal cords have survived for years and have caused few side effects. The cells seem to protect diseased motor neurons, stimulating their survival. With motor neurons restored to health, muscle atrophy slows or ceases. The experimental treatment slowed or reversed the progression of the disease in several patients in a small Phase I clinical trial.
One patient, whose muscles had degenerated to the point that he couldn’t walk without a cane, abandoned his cane months after the trial began. He later participated in a 2.5-mile walkathon. That was in 2011. He remains alive and well today. The treatment also effectively halted disease progression in the other five patients still in the early stages of ALS. It was a stunning leap forward in ALS treatment. A Phase 2 trial, with new patients, further demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of the therapy; symptoms improved in seven of 15 patients.
One of the many discoveries researchers made in preparing for the first trial was that fetal stem cells seemed to be the best stem cells for ALS treatment. After extensive animal testing, researchers found that embryonic stem cells sometimes turned into cancer cells. Fetal stem cells, on the other hand, are older—and thus on their way to an identity. For their trial, researchers used stem cells that were beginning to develop into nerve cells. They didn’t develop into cancer. Instead, they seemed to support dying neurons and restore motor function.
I know about this trial because my friend applied to participate in it. He was turned down: His was deemed too atrophied to be helped. He died shortly after the trial began.
This research might have been advanced enough to include him if Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush hadn’t banned federal funding for research on fetal tissue from abortions. (The research progressed once Bill Clinton reversed the ban.) More recently, fetal stem cell research has been less controversial than embryonic stem cell research. That may be because fetal stem cells are taken from fetuses that have no more potential for life. Embryonic stem cell research, which generally requires the destruction of the embryo that could theoretically be implanted and develop, has lately drawn much more debate and political attention. Now activists have shifted the attention back to fetal tissue donations, which allows them to show gruesome images of aborted fetuses—a time-worn and very effective anti-abortion strategy.
It seems pretty evil to me to not give a damn about living, breathing, sentient humans like the man below in order to protect a potential life that is not living, breathing or sentient from being used to save him.
They have lost all perspective on what life actually is.
Thom Hartmann on Donald Trump's other strong appeal to Republican voters (hint: Think Ross Perot). People who like Trump for this reason are potential Sanders voters. Mainstream Democratic trade policy, another party problem, is discussed below.
Schedule note: This will be the last piece from me for a few weeks. Writing will resume the third week of August. Happy summer, all!
It's been clear for a while that from the left, the biggest criticism of Hillary Clinton is her close relationship with holders of big money. One could argue that she may or may not have agreed with Bill Clinton's strategy of incorporating the interests of "big money" into the Democratic Party. But it's nevertheless clear that her current relationships, and those of the people around her, show a strong and current interest in maintaining the interests of wealth. More on that below.
This suspicion (on the part of some) and certainty (on the part of others) that Clinton will "take care of" her well-heeled friends while also (and sincerely) trying to mitigate the damage done to ordinary Americans — these form much of the reason the Sanders campaign is surging among Democratic voters. (Our own brief looks at Clinton's relationship with "money" are here and here and here, among other places. Or just click here and scan the list of titles.)
Now come a series of news stories that add to that larger story.
Hillary Clinton Will Not Reinstate Glass-Steagall
From Robert Reich, former Clinton labor secretary, on Clinton's unwillingness to reign in Wall Street banks (my emphasis everywhere):
Hillary Clinton’s Glass-Steagall
Hillary Clinton won’t propose reinstating a bank break-up law known as the Glass-Steagall Act – at least according to Alan Blinder, an economist who has been advising Clinton’s campaign. “You’re not going to see Glass-Steagall,” Blinder said after her economic speech Monday in which she failed to mention it. Blinder said he had spoken to Clinton directly about Glass-Steagall.
This is a big mistake.
It’s a mistake politically because people who believe Hillary Clinton is still too close to Wall Street will not be reassured by her position on Glass-Steagall. Many will recall that her husband led the way to repealing Glass Steagall in 1999 at the request of the big Wall Street banks.
It’s a big mistake economically because the repeal of Glass-Steagall led directly to the 2008 Wall Street crash, and without it we’re in danger of another one.
Why does reinstating Glass-Steagall matter? Reich again:
Under the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, banks couldn’t both gamble in the market and also take in deposits and make loans. They’d have to choose between the two.
“The idea is pretty simple behind this one,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said a few days ago, explaining her bill to resurrect Glass-Steagall. “If banks want to engage in high-risk trading — they can go for it, but they can’t get access to ensured deposits and put the taxpayers on the hook for that reason.”
For more than six decades after 1933, Glass-Steagall worked exactly as it was intended to. During that long interval few banks failed and no financial panic endangered the banking system.
But the big Wall Street banks weren’t content. They wanted bigger profits. They thought they could make far more money by gambling with commercial deposits. So they set out to whittle down Glass-Steagall.
Finally, in 1999, President Bill Clinton struck a deal with Republican Senator Phil Gramm to do exactly what Wall Street wanted, and repeal Glass-Steagall altogether.
What happened next? An almost exact replay of the Roaring Twenties. Once again, banks originated fraudulent loans and sold them to their customers in the form of securities. Once again, there was a huge conflict of interest that finally resulted in a banking crisis.
This time the banks were bailed out, but millions of Americans lost their savings, their jobs, even their homes.
Two ideas — first that big banks are too big to be allowed to fail, so they must be bailed out, and second, that banks can gamble with government-insured customer deposits — add to this state of affairs:
All banks will be allowed to continue to gamble on the riskiest of investments.
All gambling ("investment") profit goes to the banks.
Large gambling ("investment") losses go to taxpayers for reimbursement via FDIC deposit insurance or Fed and congressionally managed bailouts, like TARP.
If you're a Wall Street bank, it's impossible to lose money in this scheme (a scam or racket, actually). And if you "own" everyone who matters in government, the scheme will never end.
Clearly the not-so-secret formula for ending the hostage relationship between the public's money and Wall Street banking is to (a) reinstate Glass-Steagall and (b) break up "too big to fail" (TBTF) banks so they can ... well, fail ... when their business plan brings them to grief (because, capitalism, right?).
Hillary Clinton, according to Reich and others, will not reinstate Glass-Steagall, the first part of our solution, even though, according to Reich, "Hillary Clinton, of all people, should remember." There's a lot more in Reich's piece; it's a good informative read.
"Bernie Sanders backs big bank breakups, in contrast with Hillary Clinton"
Now let's look at the second piece of our "too big to fail" solution — break up the big banks so the public is never forced by their size to bail them out again. We have a pretty clear indication from the Clinton campaign that she would not pursue that policy either, and a clear indication from Sanders that he would.
Bernie Sanders backs big bank breakups, in contrast with Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders is backing a bill to break up big banks after advisers to presidential rival Hillary Clinton made clear earlier this week she will not support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act.
Noting that he’s long supported reimposing a firewall between investment and commercial banks, the Vermont senator said he’s officially rejoining an effort led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) to break up the big banks, saying, “If we are truly serious about ending too big to fail [TBTF], we have got to break up the largest financial institutions in this country.”
“Allowing commercial banks to merge with investment banks and insurance companies in 1999 was a huge mistake. It precipitated the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world. It caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, life savings and ability to send their kids to college,” said Sanders, who said that change in the financial world “substantially increased wealth and income inequality.”
Earlier this week, a Clinton campaign adviser told Reuters that “you’re not going to see Glass-Steagall.” Clinton was also interrupted by a heckler on Monday who challenged her to revive the depression-era policy, though she did not answer the question.
By moving quickly to reassert his support for a proposal from liberal superstar Warren, Sanders is highlighting the differences between his platform and Clinton’s more centrist [in DC and NY] positions on financial regulations, a major issue among progressives. Sanders actually cosponsored a version of the bill in 2013, well before he began challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and in a press release reminded reporters of a speech he gave in 1999 as a House member.
I realize that the statement "you’re not going to see Glass-Steagall" is the same one that Reich uses, and is about Glass-Steagall only. Is Politico being unfair to Clinton in saying she would not back a Sanders-Warren–style breakup policy? I don't think so, since of the two "not-so-secret solutions" I listed above, reinstating Glass-Steagall is by far the milder from a Wall Street standpoint.
And now the third news story in this story.
Hedge Fund Titans Choosing Hillary Clinton Over Top Republicans
It's hugely rewarding to Hillary Clinton professionally to maintain money-friendly policies like these, independent of whether you think she's personally aligned with the interests of "big money" and "the one percent," or whether you think she's disgusted by their behavior but feels somehow forced to go along. Either way, it looks like she's taking their money and planning to advance their interests.
It looks like they think so too. About that "taking their money" part, here's Bloomberg:
Hedge Fund Titans Choosing Hillary Clinton Over Top Republicans
Hillary Clinton received donations from some of the biggest names in the hedge fund industry, including Paul Tudor Jones, even as the presidential candidate wants to boost their tax rate.
Jones, the billionaire founder of Tudor Investment Corp., Jamie Dinan, who started York Capital, and Neil Chriss, who runs Hutchin Hill Capital, each contributed the maximum $2,700 to Clinton’s bid for the White House, according to Federal Election Commission filings for the second quarter.
Clinton, who’s made closing the wealth gap the centerpiece of her campaign, lured more donations from boldface industry names than Republican candidates 16 months before the election. Hedge fund managers, their employees and family members donated at least $54,000 to Clinton, a Democrat, according to the FEC. Republicans Jeb Bush got at least $27,000, Marco Rubio took in at least $10,800 while Carly Fiorina received at least $4,200.
“Something is wrong when CEOs earn more than 300 times than what the typical American worker earns and when hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than truck drivers or nurses,” Clinton said in May.
The candidate’s populist rhetoric didn’t dissuade many managers from supporting her. They include Frank Brosens, co-founder of Taconic Capital Advisors, Mitchell Julis, co-founder Canyon Partners, David Shaw, the billionaire founder of D.E. Shaw & Co., BlueMountain Capital Management Managing Partner James Staley, Jake Gottlieb, who runs Visum Asset Management, and Richard Perry, who heads Perry Capital.
Bush, Rubio and Fiorina drew a smaller cohort of top hedge fund managers.
Note that this story merges two elements. The first, that even though Clinton speaks against income inequality (not the same as speaking against wealth inequality, by the way) ...
“Something is wrong when CEOs earn more than 300 times than what the typical American worker earns and when hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than truck drivers or nurses,” Clinton said in May.
... the big money people are financing her anyway ...
The candidate’s populist rhetoric didn’t dissuade many managers from supporting her.
You can draw a number of conclusions about why this is happening. In that sense, the "Clinton and money" story is a kind of Rorschach test — you can see in this picture what you're looking for.
The Rorschach Candidacy
Put these stories together and ask yourself what this means to you. You could end up in a couple of places.
If you're Clinton-resigned — If you're a Clinton fan who was really "ready for Warren," resigned rather than eager, you may see someone who cares about people but has to deal with "big money" to get elected. She doesn't like what many are calling "rule by the rich," but like many of her supporters, she's also resigned. The way of the world is regrettable, but the exclamation point at the end of "Jeb!" is a dagger to be avoided at all costs. No Republicans; vote Clinton anyway — even in the primary so she comes out strong.
If you're Clinton-quite-hopeful — If you're an eager Clinton fan, you're much more positive. In a Clinton presidency, you may expect strong advocacy for "Black Lives Matter," maybe even with DoJ prosecutions of murdering police and corrupt departments. You may expect to see executive-mandated immigration reform with even more teeth. And you certainly would anticipate that all of the issues faced by women, from abortion rights to pay rights, will certainly find an eager and effective friend. All of this offsets for you whatever damage her "friends of money" bargaining may entail.
And if you're very hopeful, you're convinced that her presidency could be far to the left of the other Clinton presidency, even on money matters. After all, there's no proof yet that this hopeful analysis is wrong. If this is your picture, your primary choice is easy — it's Clinton all the way.
If you're Clinton-appalled — But if you see "capture by wealth" as the root of almost every evil in this country except our deep-seated racism, and especially if you see that the climate crisis will reach multiple additional tipping points and are certain a carbon-captured Clinton would be a disaster ... well, what's a Democratic primary voter to do?
I'll put that differently. The Clinton-appalled (on the left) see a candidate who's threading the progressive needle while trying not to anger her moneyed friends, or at least not undo their expectations that this "rein in the rich" stuff is just campaign talk. Her critics on the left see one who does care about people, but also one who sees her role as confirming the current order, with better mitigation for the suffering worst among us.
They also see someone who will take us into a fossil fuel–heavy future — again with mitigation for the suffering worst, but with no loss of profit for the wealth-heavy carbon industry. For example, this is former Secretary Clinton speaking in 2013 at Hamilton College in upstate New York's Oneida County:
Late into the lecture portion of Clinton’s Oneida County appearance, she referenced a report that the U.S. in on track to surpass Russia in domestic oil-and-gas production.
That’s good news, Clinton said.
“What that means for viable manufacturing and industrialization in this country is enormous,” she said to the crowd of 5,800 in Hamilton’s athletic field house.
For the Clinton-appalled and carbon-aware, it means "we're cooked," literally, and sooner than anyone expects — because this crisis is always moving faster than anyone expects, or publicly claims to expect. (You should know that in private, a great many climate scientists are, frankly, freaking out, and not metaphorically. They know that what no one is saying is nevertheless true.)
In other words, the full awareness of the damage we've handed ourselves — the wide-eyed Wile E. Coyote "nothing beneath me" moment — will likely come on a President Clinton's watch, and she and Obama will get the blame for not being more aggressive, for being too wealth-serving.
Wile E. Coyote considers his climate future.
And that's just the "Clinton, money and carbon" piece of the story. The "Clinton, money and banking" piece says the next financial meltdown will also come on Clinton's watch, that the next bailout may be a "bail-in" (a bailout using depositor funds) as is being done in Europe, and in either case, the economy is screwed — but only for people who aren't good friends of "friends of money."
So what will hit first under a money-friendly (but better-than-Republican) presidency — climate or the next banking bailout? How about an aggressively pursued endless war that truly "comes home," the way European and Middle East wars have always come home? How about environmental disaster after environmental disaster caused by exploding oil trains, frack-poisoned ground water, burst pipelines, and oil spill after oil spill?
Or how about even more exported American jobs under a bipartisan (but decidedly Democratic) "trade" regime? Want to go worse? How about imported foreign contract labor being fast-tracked into the country when the deadliest of the coming trade deals, TISA, is signed by the next wealth-serving Democrat? The just-passed Fast Track law — the discussion of which Clinton's campaign wanted to "go away" — hands, to this president and the next, six years' worth of job-destroying, global investor–enabling power.
If you're this appalled, what's a primary voter to do? Avoid damaging Clinton so no Republican can win? Cheer all the wonderful things that a progressive Clinton might do? Or vote for Sanders and if he loses, walk away?
I'm hearing all three cases being made, and the voices are getting louder. Who's right? Of course, only time will tell.
Leaving It to the Voters to Decide
You can look at the Clinton candidacy and see what you want by adjusting what's foreground and what's background in your mental image. Is Clinton a woman who deserves much better than being trashed by the constant misogyny of the troglodyte Right? You can see that person.
Is Clinton a bright Sixties rebel who now wants a chance to do the best she can to fix a wealth-dominated world? You can see that person.
Is Clinton a person who's long bought into "rule by the rich" — rule by the class she hangs with, the class that knows better than us how to run things that matter — but thinks their regime can use some tweakage so the "most vulnerable" are protected? You can see that person too.
I guess this is why we are leaving it to voters to decide, and not to the few of us who pay early attention. Because if the voters choose wrong, they will pay the price, but at least they will have done it to themselves.
DNC Chair Says Candidates Must Meet 'Threshold' For Debates, Though Criteria And Dates Still Unclear
Democratic presidential candidates will have to meet a certain “threshold” to participate in the party’s six scheduled primary debates, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Thursday, though she did not specify which criteria, such as state or national polling, will be used to determine who qualifies.
“It’ll be a threshold that’ll be expansive and allows for the maximum inclusion of our major party candidates," Wasserman Schultz told MSNBC’s Ari Melber. She said the DNC hasn’t “quite finished formulating the details” for the debates, including specific dates, locations and media sponsors.
The lack of clarity has been frustrating to both campaigns and major TV networks, the latter of which produce the debates and need to book venues and handle logistical details well in advance.
In May, the DNC announced plans to hold six primary debates, four of which would be held in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The DNC said debates would begin in "the fall of 2015," though didn't specify when.
MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Facebook says it will begin test flights later this year for a solar-powered drone with a wingspan as big as a Boeing 737, in the next stage of its campaign to deliver Internet connectivity to remote parts of the world.
Engineers at the giant social network say they've built a drone with a 140-foot wingspan that weighs less than 1,000 pounds. Designed to fly at high altitudes for up to three months, it will use lasers to send Internet signals to stations on the ground.
Facebook's engineers at engineers at Connectivity Lab are designing a laser-based communications system to deliver the Internet to remote regions of the world the NSA cannot currently monitor from Fort Meade or Bluffdale.
The plan calls for using helium balloons to lift each drone into the air, Parikh said. The drones are designed to climb to 90,000 feet, safely above commercial airliners and thunderstorms, where they will fly in circles through the day. At night, he said, they will settle to about 60,000 feet to conserve battery power.
Each drone will fly in a circle with a radius of about 3 kilometers, which the engineers hope will enable it to provide Internet service to an area with a radius of about 50 kilometers.
Facebook drones at 90,000 feet. Amazon delivery drones below 400 feet. Large military drones in between — commingled with your Aunt Millie's flight to Omaha. Amateur idiots anywhere, anytime. And one FAA NextGen air traffic control system to rule them all. (They're only having a little trouble meeting the September 2015 deadline for writing those rules.) And c'mon, Zuckerberg, right? No worries. Not until one takes down an airliner or crashes into a school.
Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should. — Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park (1993)
And instant communications. Anywhere. Anytime. It's been a dream of techies since at least George Orwell.
But, you know, all that hardware to maintain. So much needless expense. TPC had a better idea for handling that little problem back in 1967:
"I don't question President Obama's motives. That's where Mike has gone down the wrong road," Graham said at the time. "I like Mike Huckabee, but this is about the most sensitive subject matter I can imagine."
But during his Thursday interview on Newsmax TV's "The Steve Malzberg Show," Graham went with a Hitler reference anyway.
"The Munich deal would have made sense if Hitler just wanted German-speaking people under the German umbrella. Munich partitioning Czechoslovakia, and giving him more power and reenforcing his belief that the West was weak, was a terrible deal. He in fact, wanted to kill the Jews and have a master race," Graham told the Newsmax host. "This is a bad deal because the Ayatollah gets more money and more weapons and a clearer path to the bomb. Here’s what the deal does: It gives him a bomb, a missile to deliver and the money to pay for it. What would he do with a missile and the bomb? Does he feel compelled by his religion to attack Israel and destroy democracies like ours? I say yes."
Helaine Olen at Slate has a good piece up about the latest "hairgate" scandal, this one involving, who else, Hillary Clinton who is being dinged for being a rich, elitist for paying big bucks to get her hair done at Bergdorf Goodman. (Click over for the details...)
I just want to point out that women, in general, particularly older women, can't win on this one. If they don't go out of their way to at least look presentable they're called an "old crone" and if they do they're derided for spending so much time and money to try to look presentable. And none of it prevents the world from being casually vocal about how revolting they look look either way.
That's from a respectable mainstream magazine. You don't even want to know what the rightwingers are doing.
Olen points out rightly that Republicans, with the notable exception of Sarah Palin, have not been subject to this particular criticism. But Democratic men certainly have. She writes:
[W]hen it comes to Hairgates past and present, men—or at least male Democrats—are as likely to get dinged for their choices as women. Maybe the celebrity haircut is a gender-neutral easy get—an instant way to paint a candidate as privileged, out of touch, narcissistic. That it takes more than a bit of narcissism even to consider running for president is conveniently forgotten.
It's not really gender neutral though. She mentions the scandal over John Edwards' expensive haircut, but it's important to note that the tactic had a specific purpose: feminizing the Democratic candidate. They called him "The Breck Girl."
Here's Mike Huckabee using it to good effect:
"Congress is spending money faster than John Edwards in the beauty parlor."
So the purpose of these "hairgate" scandals is different for men than it is for women. For men it's to make them seem less than manly. For women, it's to highlight how much work it takes to hide the fact that they're ugly old beasts or frivolous little featherweights. Either way it's sexist and creepy. But the media always has a good time with it --- as if they've never spent any time primping in front of the mirror.
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stabbed and wounded six participants, two of them seriously, in the annual Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem on Thursday, with police saying the suspect was jailed for a similar attack 10 years ago.
About 5,000 people celebrating the event were marching along an avenue when a man jumped into the crowd, apparently from a supermarket, and plunged a knife into some of the participants, witnesses said.
"We heard people screaming, everyone ran for cover, and there were bloodied people on the ground," Shai Aviyor, a witness interviewed on Israel's Channel 2, said.
Netanyahu called it a "hate crime." Apparently, "terrorism" is a word reserved for Muslim extremists there too...
Despite the almost instant drawing of the gun and firing, the Police One commenter harbors doubts that the officer didn’t, in fact, fear for his life, saying, “If any part of that officer was attached to that motor vehicle — then he can clearly articulate his life was in fear.” He adds,”this officer will pay- – solely based on the current political climate in America. Sad.”
Actually, the current political climate in America is finally forcing some authorities to question this belief that being able to “clearly articulate” that you felt your life was in danger in a situation like this automatically means it was a reasonable fear. The tape shows it clearly was not. And if it weren’t for that tape, we wouldn’t know that, showing clearly that body cams and dash cams are a necessity in law enforcement. But body cams are only part of the solution to this problem. This “fear factor” mindset stems from the same fundamental philosophy that Stand Your Ground and castle doctrine laws come from: If you feel afraid, you have no obligation to retreat if possible; you may legitimately shoot and kill someone.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder made the following comment about this recent legal movement, which is backed by conservative groups like ALEC and the NRA, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing:
“There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if — and the ‘if’ is important — if no safe retreat is available. But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely.
“By allowing — and perhaps encouraging — violent situations to escalate in public — such laws undermine public safety. The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent.
“It is our collective obligation. We must ‘stand our ground’ to ensure that our laws reduce violence and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent.”
That logic applies to police as well as civilians. In fact, it applies more to police than civilians, because police are charged with protecting the public, and act in our name...
There are many unanswered questions about this latest killing. But one thing we know for sure: If there had not been any video, the officer’s account would have closed the books on this incident immediately. Obviously, that happens with some frequency. Making body cams mandatory will help as it did in the DuBose case. But to truly fix this problem our society must confront the root causes — racism, police militarization and rampant abuse of authority.
I watched this CNN Trump interview yesterday and was struck by the honesty with which Trump answered the question about what to do with undocumented immigrants:
Donald Trump, the Republican presidential hopeful who shot up to the head of the pack over his controversial comments about illegal immigrants, is finally starting to lay out an immigration policy.
Trump said Wednesday in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that as president he would deport all undocumented immigrants and then allow the “good ones” to reenter the country through an “expedited process” and live in the U.S. legally, though not as citizens….
Trump would not say how he would locate, round up and deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants he says must go. Instead, he deflected, saying that while it may be a task too tall for politicians, it isn’t for a business mogul like himself.
“Politicians aren’t going to find them because they have no clue. We will find them, we will get them out,” Trump said. “It’s feasible if you know how to manage. Politicians don’t know how to manage.”
He said over and over again that all "illegals" had to go and then he'd let some of the "good ones" back in temporarily to pick our lettuce and clean up after us but they can never become citizens. Ever.
It's important that he said this and important the people understand that is what his supporters want to hear.
John Heielman conducted a focus group of Trump supporters in New Hampshire. They had some reservations about Trump's ability to win the election but weren't in the least bit bothered by his demeaning comments about immigrants.
Here's how they describe him:
“Classy,” said Cheryl, a real estate agent.
“I think it would be exciting,” Roger said. “I really do. I look forward to it. It'll be an interesting thing every day.”
“I think he'd be calling out everybody,” John, a construction worker, said. “I think it'd be pretty good.”
Some even foresaw that day in terms familiar to many Democrats.
“He would surround himself with the best and the brightest,” retired school teacher Don said. “To the American people it would be a presidency of hope.”
Estimates of the cost of mass deportation of the undocumented start at about $265 billion and range on up from there; one key variable is whether a sufficiently terroristic atmosphere would encourage some of these people to “self-deport,” as Mitt Romney surmised. Trump might even claim some of these folk will self-deport to get a prime place in the line to reenter the country as a permanent helot class if they pass muster. In any event, it would indeed make this country a very different place.
Now that Trump’s forced this issue right out in the open, it’s time for us all to ask him and other Republicans who won’t endorse a path to legalization exactly how much they are willing to spend in money and in lost civil liberties to implement their plans. No sense weaseling around and dog-whistling this issue any more.
What are the odds that Fox News will open that can of worms in the August 6th debate?
Asked whether Trump's comments questioning Arizona Sen. John McCain's heroism offended them, some said they were actually more offended by McCain's comments when he called those who showed up for Trump's rally "crazies."
"Don't forget McCain insulted the 'crazies,' which is a blanket insult," Susan DeLemus said.
And Paula Johnson pointed out that some of Trump's supporters are also, veterans.
"Mr . Trump did say four times that McCain was a war hero and again," Sean Van Anglen, a Republican, said, adding that "the media and everyone is only playing that one clip."
And Jerry DeLemus, a veteran, said that Trump has an issue with McCain as a "sitting senator," not as a veteran.
"As a Marine ... we like guys who don't get captured, too," he said. "I don't think that he meant that as an insult to POWs or the military at all."
"I like that he's not a politician. I'm tired of politicians," Johnson, a Republican said. "I'm tired of the sugar-coating that they tell us that they're going to fix this economy. I believe Mr. Trump really wants to make America great again."
"Our country is in terrible economic condition and middle class America has been decimated over the last 30 years. Donald Trump has taken businesses and companies and turned them around, made them profitable again," DeLemus said.
"He says what he means. I honestly believe he's telling the truth," Susan DeLemus said, echoing a sentiment shared by all six supporters.
When Camerota asked the group whether Trump's tone is presidential, Johnson said "Well, what's presidential anymore?"
"I mean we have a president sitting in the white house right now. He's taking so many vacations its costing the tax payers dollars," Johnson said. "What has he done for America?"
Trump, Johnson said, "will take us above that" and make "America the way we once were."
Some said that the issue of immigration would not have risen to the national spotlight had Trump not highlighted it.
"I think that immigration is the most important issue facing our country today," said Ryan Girdusky, a Republican.
"What do you think is Donald Trump's immigration policy?" Camerota asked.
"Certainly, to crack down on sanctuary cities," Girdusky said. "I don't think that Katherine Steinle's death would have gotten the coverage it did had Donald Trump not been speaking about this."
Donald Trump heads to the border
And none of the six Trump supporters were bothered by his comments that Mexican immigrants are "rapists" and drug dealers.
"He didn't say Mexicans, he said Mexico," Jerry DeLemus said, which is also a distinction that Trump has repeatedly made. "His point was that Mexico is outmaneuvering America and they are out maneuvering us. What other country in the world would allow that type of illegal immigration to come across the border?"
This is a very useful piece by Brendan Nyhan at The Upshot which basically says that people should chill a little bit about polling, gaffes and pay closer attention to endorsements and the natural rhythm of polling as the campaign wears on. All of this is based on political science observations over other campaigns, which is a limited data set. But it's still worth thinking about as we fully launch into the presidential campaign.
Here is his conclusion:
Polls play an important role in presidential primaries, influencing the strategies of the candidates, the coverage they receive from the media and the choices of voters who want to avoid wasting their vote. For political mavens they’re also often an amusing way to follow the horse race.
So go ahead and pay attention to the polls if you want, but do it smartly. Don’t overreact to individual polls or fall for weak pundit analysis. Instead, remember that campaigns have predictable rhythms and that endorsements may be a better predictor of who will ultimately prevail than who’s up or who’s down right now.
One Way to Ease the Worldwide Water Crisis — End Water Privatization
by Gaius Publius
Silicon life forms declare war on "ugly giant bags of mostly water" — in other words, us.
by Gaius Publius
Water is literally the stuff of life for living beings. All life began as single-celled organisms floating in water. In their earliest and simplest form, living things are organized bags of water capable of reproduction, whose "inside" water is held together by a permeable or semi-permeable membrane ("sack" or "skin") through which nutrients borne by the "outside" water (the environment) pass in, and through which waste passes out.
The simplest organisms live like that today. Bags of water, floating in water, taking what they need from water, passing what they don't need back to water.
What one organism doesn't need, another does. Water is the soup, each life takes from other lives via the medium. Without water the planet is barren, a Moon, a Pluto.
Later, living things developed mouths — so much for the peaceful passing of nutrients through the outer membrane — and skin and shells. With skin and shells, the inner water could be retained even in non-water environments. With mouths, the nutrients didn't need to be water-borne. To sustain itself, a being could simply ingest the nutrients and water in other "sacks of water" by ingesting the sacks themselves. So armed, life would eventually roam and inhabit the non-watery parts of the world.
But the basis of our life starts with our ability to contain and maintain our inner water environment. We began in water. We must remain in water — retain and maintain our inner water — or we die. In the physical world, water is the god that gave us birth and keeps us living.
So why, in a drought, are we allowing water to be ring-fenced by the few, "appropriately priced," marketed and sold back to us by the only people capable of buying it in quantity? Or does "promote the general welfare" have no meaning?
I want to explore two aspects of the water discussion here. First, the drought itself — it's not ending anytime soon. Second, the way to end one of the great squeezes on our remaining water supply — end the death grip of privatizers.
The Bad News for Western Drought: 'Monster' Hot El Nino on the Way
This report is from western Canada, but it applies to the western U.S. as well, especially California and the Southwest (my emphasis throughout):
In the dead of a Prairie winter, when cars won't start and exposed skin freezes in 30 seconds, people pray for a searing hot summer. But across Western Canada this season, many may be recalling the old adage, "be careful what you wish for" as forest fires, drought and pestilence invite biblical comparisons.
More worrisome, though, than the sight of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia wilting under 30 degree [Celsius; 86°F] temperatures in June and July — and rationing scarce water supplies in some areas — is that this might just be the start of an even bigger problem.
Many meteorologists are chalking up today's weird and wacky weather in the West to the fact that this is an El Nino year, referring to the cyclical Pacific Ocean phenomenon that disrupts global weather patterns.
The problem with that, according to Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips: "It's not even arrived in Canada yet."
"We don't see the effects of El Nino until late fall, winter and early spring," he says.
What that likely means is at least three more consecutive seasons of warmer, drier weather when farmers are already, quite literally, tapped out in the moisture department.
As for what that could mean for drought conditions next summer and beyond, Phillips says it's "not looking good."
So the drought will likely continue through next year at least. Again, not good. "Game over" for ranchers:
Canada's Prairies have just experienced their driest winter and spring in 68 years of record keeping. "So they were behind the eight-ball before the summer season ever came," says Phillips.
That, coupled with a record low snow pack in North America, and few of the traditional June rains needed to grow crops, has had a cumulative effect that's hit some producers harder than others.
Says Phillips: "For ranchers it's pretty much game over."
The tinder dry land has kept pastures for grazing cattle from turning green and producing feed, forcing cattle ranchers to sell down their herds or ship the animals around looking for alternative feed sources.
"Our cereal fields, our oats, our wheat, our barley essentially baked in the field," says Garett Broadbent, agricultural services director for Alberta's Leduc County, just south of Edmonton.
The municipality voted unanimously this week to declare a local state of agricultural disaster as soil moisture and crop conditions continue to decline to the worst levels in half a century.
And here's a NOAA scientist saying that there is a trend, and it will continue "as long as greenhouse gas levels continue to rise year after year":
NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden says, in addition to the dwindling snow pack, "glaciers are melting, sea ice is melting, sea levels reached record highs last year, the ocean heat was record high last year, sea surface temperatures were record highs last year, so you put it all together and there's a definite trend."
It's a trend Blunden expects to continue into 2015 and beyond as long as, she says, greenhouse gas levels continue to rise year after year.
I'm feeling more than a little confirmed for disagreeing with other NOAA scientists quoted in the ProPublica Colorado River report. It's going to take at least a decade or more of better-than-normal rain and snowfall to bring us back to where we were before the drought began.
"We have 15 years to avert a full-blown water crisis; by 2030, demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent"
There's also an excellent piece in The Nation that gets to this issue, but also offers solutions. First, the drought analysis. The writer is Maude Barlow:
The California Drought Is Just the Beginning of Our National Water Emergency For years, Americans dismissed dire water shortages as a problem of the Global South. Now the crisis is coming home.
The United Nations reports that we have 15 years to avert a full-blown water crisis and that, by 2030, demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent. Five hundred renowned scientists brought together by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that our collective abuse of water has caused the earth to enter a “new geologic age,” a “planetary transformation” akin to the retreat of the glaciers more than 11,000 years ago. Already, they reported, a majority of the world’s population lives within a 30-mile radius of water sources that are badly stressed or running out.
For a long time, we in the Global North, especially North America and Europe, have seen the growing water crisis as an issue of the Global South. Certainly, the grim UN statistics on those without access to water and sanitation have referred mostly to poor countries in Africa, Latin America, and large parts of Asia. Heartbreaking images of children dying of waterborne disease have always seemed to come from the slums of Nairobi, Kolkata, or La Paz. Similarly, the worst stories of water pollution and shortages have originated in the densely populated areas of the South.
But as this issue of The Nation shows us, the global water crisis is just that—global—in every sense of the word. A deadly combination of growing inequality, climate change, rising water prices, and mismanagement of water sources in the North has suddenly put the world on a more even footing.
There is now a Third World in the First World. Growing poverty in rich countries has created an underclass that cannot pay rising water rates. As reported by Circle of Blue, the price of water in 30 major US cities is rising faster than most other household staples—41 percent since 2010, with no end in sight. As a result, increasing numbers cannot pay their water bills, and cutoffs are growing across the country. Inner-city Detroit reminds me more of the slums of Bogotá than the North American cities of my childhood.
Historic poverty and unemployment in Europe have also put millions at risk. Caught between unaffordable rising water rates and the imposition of European-wide austerity measures, thousands of families in Spain, Portugal, and Greece have had their water service cut off. An employee of the water utility Veolia Eau was fired for refusing to cut supplies to 1,000 families in Avignon, France.
As in the Global South, the trend of privatizing water services has placed an added burden on the poor of the North. Food and Water Watch and other organizations have clearly documented that the rates for water and sewer services rise dramatically with privatization. Unlike government water agencies, corporate-run water services must make a profit for their involvement.
Talk about heartless — "An employee of the water utility Veolia Eau ["Veolia Water"] was fired for refusing to cut supplies to 1,000 families in Avignon, France." Veolia is the largest privatized water company in the world according to this list.
World's ten largest privatized-water companies (source; referenced here; click to enlarge)
Veolia had $50 billion in revenue in 2009. No doubt they've grown since then. The writer clearly notices that this is predatory behavior. (In fact, it's behavior that kills for profit, so we're in psychological territory here. If Veolia were human, they'd be diagnosed as psychopathic and put away forever.)
The story of over-stressed water resources is the same everywhere in the world. Barlow discusses China ("more than half the rivers in China have disappeared since 1990"), Africa, Brazil and ends in the U.S.:
The story repeats itself in the North. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the Ogallala Aquifer is so overburdened that it “is going to run out…beyond reasonable argument.” The use of bore-well technology to draw precious groundwater for the production of water-intensive corn ethanol is a large part of this story. For decades, California has massively engineered its water systems through pipelines, canals, and aqueducts so that a small number of powerful farmers in places like the Central Valley can produce water-intensive crops for export. Over-extraction is also putting huge pressure on the Great Lakes, whose receding shorelines tell the story.
I'll say now there will be no "Chinese Century" or "American Century" or "Basque Century," for that matter. A century of chaos is coming if we don't get a grip and end carbon emissions fast. (I've been told by renewable-energy industry professionals that the only barrier to fully transforming the U.S. to renewables in ten years is political — we have the money and the physical and technical ability. We just have to want to use them.)
A critical-mass cry to do that — end emissions fast — could be coming, by the way, as the climate screws turn tighter and tighter. What governments do when that cry comes will determine how we fare as a species. Will governments remain wealth-captured, or will they take up the cause of the people they claim to represent?
The Growing Water Justice Movement
In that vein, Barlow writes the following:
There is some good news along with these distressing reports. An organized international movement has come together to fight for water justice, both globally and at the grassroots level. It has fought fiercely against privatization, with extraordinary results: Europe’s Transnational Institute reports that in the last 15 years, 235 municipalities in 37 countries have brought their water services back under public control after having tried various forms of privatization. In the United States alone, activists have reversed 58 water-privatization schemes.
This movement has also successfully fought for UN recognition that water and sanitation are human rights. The General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing these rights on July 28, 2010, and the Human Rights Council adopted a further resolution outlining the obligations of governments two months later.
Working with communities in the Global South, where water tables are being destroyed to provide boutique water for export, North American water-justice activists have set up bottled-water-free campuses across the United States and Canada. They have also joined hands to fight water-destructive industries such as fracking here and open-pit mining in Latin America and Africa.
And the global goal:
Water must be much more equitably shared, and governments must guarantee access by making it a public service provided on a not-for-profit basis. The human right to water must become a reality everywhere. Likewise, water plunder must end: Governments need to stand up to the powerful industries, private interests, and bad practices destroying water all over the world. Water everywhere must be declared a public trust, to be protected and managed for the public good. This includes placing priorities on access to limited supplies, especially groundwater, and banning private industry from owning or controlling it. Water, in short, must be recognized as the common heritage of humanity and of future generations.
Saying it should be so doesn't make it so, Captain Picard to the contrary. But an organized force pushing back against the "plunder" is both needed and welcome.
Pickpockets on board the Titanic; they would be comic if death-for-dollars weren't part of the plan.