12/11/2011 archive

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert

Colbert Super PAC – Stephen’s South Carolina Referendum

South Carolina’s Supreme Court rules that non-binding, advisory questions like that of corporate personhood cannot be placed on a presidential primary ballot.

Colbert Super PAC – Stephen’s South Carolina Referendum – Dick Harpootlian

South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian helps Stephen fight to restore his corporate personhood referendum to the Republican primary ballot.

Colbert Pushes ‘Corporations Are People’ Referendum

by Charles McGrath

Because of what he calls his “deep and abiding interest in the matter of corporate rights,” Mr. Colbert approached the South Carolina Democrats, and on Tuesday the party chairman, Richard Harpootlian, filed a petition asking for a re-hearing.

“Trust me, this was a measure of last resort,” Mr. Colbert said in a statement. “I’ve always thought Democrats had only one skill: simultaneously being atheists and holier-than-thou. But apparently they also have legal standing in this case.”

What’s cooking: Sugarplum Bread

In Autumn, the appearance in grocery stores of stacks of candied fruit and mountains of nuts in all their wonderful variety is a sure sign of the approach of the holidays. As the days grow short and the nights grow cool preparations for a joyous time of baking begins.

My daughter is the bread baker but Sugarplum Bread is the one I enjoy making, too. This sweet bread studded with candied fruit is not as heavy as fruit cake. It is topped with a white icing glaze and decorated with red and green cherries to look like clusters of berries. It is a treat for breakfast or in the afternoon with tea. I make small ones baked in large muffin tins, decorated and wrapped in colored plastic wrap tied with ribbon as gifts for guests.

The following recipe is a rich dough flavored with nutmeg, candied fruit and peel, and raisins

Candied fruit would have melted in the summer heat and its sweetness would attract ants but it keeps well in the freezer. After the holidays, when the price is reduced for clearance, if you have space in your freezer buy a supply. It assures that you’ll have candied fruit on hand in the months when it can’t be found in the market.

On this Day In History December 11

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

December 11 is the 345th day of the year (346th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 20 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1946, In the aftermath of World War II, the General Assembly of the United Nations votes to establish the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), an organization to help provide relief and support to children living in countries devastated by the war.

After the food and medical crisis of the late 1940s passed, UNICEF continued its role as a relief organization for the children of troubled nations and during the 1970s grew into a vocal advocate of children’s rights. During the 1980s, UNICEF assisted the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. After its introduction to the U.N. General Assembly in 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child became the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, and UNICEF played a key role in ensuring its enforcement.

Of the 184 member states of the United Nations, only two countries have failed to ratify the treaty–Somalia and the United States. Somalia does not currently have an internationally recognized government, so ratification is impossible, and the United States, which was one of the original signatories of the convention, has failed to ratify the treaty because of concerns about its potential impact on national sovereignty and the parent-child relationship.

In 1953, UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations System and its name was shortened from the original United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund but it has continued to be known by the popular acronym based on this old name. Headquartered in New York City, UNICEF provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.

UNICEF relies on contributions from governments and private donors and UNICEF’s total income for 2006 was $2,781,000,000. Governments contribute two thirds of the organization’s resources; private groups and some 6 million individuals contribute the rest through the National Committees. UNICEF’s programs emphasize developing community-level services to promote the health and well-being of children. UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 and the Prince of Asturias Award of Concord in 2006.

Most of UNICEF’s work is in the field, with staff in over 190 countries and territories. More than 200 country offices carry out UNICEF’s mission through a program developed with host governments. Seven regional offices provide technical assistance to country offices as needed.

Overall management and administration of the organization takes place at its headquarters in New York. UNICEF’s Supply Division is based in Copenhagen and serves as the primary point of distribution for such essential items as vaccines, antiretroviral medicines for children and mothers with HIV, nutritional supplements, emergency shelters, educational supplies, among others. A 36-member Executive Board establishes policies, approves programs and oversees administrative and financial plans. The Executive Board is made up of government representatives who are elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, usually for three-year terms.

Following the reaching of term limits by Executive Director of UNICEF Carol Bellamy, former United States Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman became executive director of the organization in May 2005 with an agenda to increase the organization’s focus on the Millennium Development Goals. She was succeeded in May 2010 by Anthony Lake.

UNICEF is an inter-governmental organization and thus is accountable to governments.

Frack You Very Much!

middle_finger_flameA Profile in Fracking: How One Tiny Hamlet Could Be Devastated by Gas

By Molly Oswaks, The Atlantic

Dec 7 2011, 10:02 AM ET

Hancock is home to four bait-and-tackle shops, three beauty salons, six churches, ever more vacant and dilapidated-looking homes, one video rental thrift store hyphenate, and one funeral parlor. The stateliest establishment in this otherwise decidedly unstately community is the Hancock House Hotel; here you will find Honest Eddie’s Tap Room, a dimly lighted wood-paneled bar named for the major league baseball player John Edward “Honest Eddie” Murphy, who was born in Hancock in 1891. The food menu at Honest Eddie’s includes items like “They’re Smothered!” (thick-cut fries blanketed in a melty cheese sauce) and “The Deep-fried Pickle” (which is exactly what it sounds like). There is also an off-menu rice pudding, which they serve in a tall bevelled glass sundae cup and garnish with a dollop of whipped cream. The pudding has no spice.

Here, some 9,000 feet below traversable ground, lies a particularly profitable piece of the Marcellus Shale, a 400-million year old formation of marine sedimentary rock rich with reserves of untapped natural gas. Shale gas reserves are extracted by means of a multi-step process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Chemical fracking fluid is pumped into a targeted borehole drilled deep into the ground; sand is then introduced into the fluid to maintain the integrity of the fracture. The pressure and depth at which this is executed produces a subterranean climate porous and permeable enough for shale gas to be recovered profitably: this is a “frack job.”

For a cash-strapped community like Hancock, fracking would seem a high-yield stimulus plan millennia in the making: there is, of course, the economic appeal of home-sourced natural gas, but there are also land royalties to be reaped by residents and money to be made from all the supplies and sandwiches sold in town to the fracking crew itself. Not to mention jobs.

It’s difficult to predict whether Hancock’s soil and water will, in fact, be poisoned once the drilling begins. Various assessments of the environmental impact of fracking have been conducted, at both state and national levels. The second-hand damage is much easier to forecast.

The roads and highways that run through town will experience a significant surge in traffic, with large trucks and heavy machinery traveling to and from the drill sites, and all the accompanying noise pollution. The bucolic natural landscape, which has long drawn lucrative hunting and camping tourism at peak season, will be cut up and and cordoned off for pipes and drills and gas collection.

It’s a paradox: The town needs money to survive, but the money being offered comes at the expense of the town itself. It would seem, then, however ironic, that capitalism is killing the company town.

Actually, it’s not at all difficult to predict that “Hancock’s soil and water will, in fact, be poisoned once the drilling begins.”

EPA Finds Fracking Contaminated Drinking Water in Wyoming

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Friday December 9, 2011 6:23 am

Independent reports have previously shown contaminants in water due to fracking, but this is the first time the EPA has come out and said so. And while they cite Pavillion as a special case, it calls into question the surge in fracking across the country. From the Marcellus Shale to the Rocky Mountains, thousands of natural gas drilling sites have sprung up, and questions about air and water quality have persisted. Multiple examples of residents lighting the water out of their faucets on fire, and incidents of sickness in areas around the natural gas wells (many of which are in the backyards of people paid handsomely by the fracking companies for the privilege), abound.

The samples in Wyoming came from two deep water monitoring wells, as well as private and public wells in the area. EPA found synthetic chemicals consistent with fracking fluids, as well as high levels of benzene and methane. They said that the chemicals could move through the aquifer over time and only worsen the water quality. The chemicals in the private and public water wells showed evidence of migration from drilling sites.

Independent reports?  Oh my, yes.  Tons of them.

Chemicals Were Injected Into Wells, Report Says

By IAN URBINA, The New York Times

Published: April 16, 2011

WASHINGTON – Oil and gas companies injected hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals into wells in more than 13 states from 2005 to 2009, according to an investigation by Congressional Democrats.

Companies injected large amounts of other hazardous chemicals, including 11.4 million gallons of fluids containing at least one of the toxic or carcinogenic B.T.E.X. chemicals – benzene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene. The companies used the highest volume of fluids containing one or more carcinogens in Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas.

The report comes two and a half months after an initial report by the same three lawmakers that found that 32.2 millions of gallons of fluids containing diesel, considered an especially hazardous pollutant because it contains benzene, were injected into the ground during hydrofracking by a dozen companies from 2005 to 2009, in possible violation of the drinking water act.

A 2010 report by Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization, found that benzene levels in other hydrofracking ingredients were as much as 93 times higher than those found in diesel.

The use of these chemicals has been a source of concern to regulators and environmentalists who worry that some of them could find their way out of a well bore – because of above-ground spills, underground failures of well casing or migration through layers of rock – and into nearby sources of drinking water.

These contaminants also remain in the fluid that returns to the surface after a well is hydrofracked. A recent investigation by The New York Times found high levels of contaminants, including benzene and radioactive materials, in wastewater that is being sent to treatment plants not designed to fully treat the waste before it is discharged into rivers. At one plant in Pennsylvania, documents from the Environmental Protection Agency revealed levels of benzene roughly 28 times the federal drinking water standard in wastewater as it was discharged, after treatment, into the Allegheny River in May 2008.

If you’re looking for Oil Company compassion, look somewhere else.

Driller to stop water to families in Dimock, Pa.

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press

Nov 30, 2011

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) – Families in a northeastern Pennsylvania village with tainted water wells will have to procure their own water for the first time in nearly three years as a natural-gas driller blamed for polluting the aquifer moves ahead with its plan to stop paying for daily deliveries.

Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. ended delivery of bulk and bottled water to 11 families in Dimock on Wednesday. Cabot asserts Dimock’s water is safe to drink and won permission from state environmental regulators last month to stop paying for water for the residents.

(h/t dday)

And, you know, it’s a proven, predictable, fact that it also causes earthquakes.

Method predicts size of fracking earthquakes

Scientists develop way to forecast worst-case tremor scenario.

Zoë Corbyn, Nature

09 December 2011

Small earthquakes are a recognized risk of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, a procedure in which companies unlock energy reserves by pumping millions of litres of water underground to fracture shale rock and release the natural gas trapped inside. Researchers now say that they can calculate the highest magnitude earthquake that such an operation could induce – though it won’t determine the likelihood of a quake occurring.

McGarr and his team studied seven cases of quakes induced by fluid injection. They included the Oklahoma fracking site where 8,900 cubic metres were injected; a scientific bore hole in Germany, where an injection of 200 cubic metres of salt water caused a magnitude 1.4 earthquake; a geothermal-energy project on the outskirts of Basel, Switzerland, that was terminated after an injection of 11,600 cubic metres of water triggered a series of quakes of magnitude up to 3.4; another in Cooper Basin, Australia, where a 20,000-cubic-metre injection resulted in a magnitude 3.7 quake; and a liquid-waste-disposal project in Colorado in the 1960s, where an injection of 631,000 cubic metres triggered earthquakes of magnitude up to 5, the largest yet seen as a result of fluid injection.

The researchers found a proportional relationship between the volume of fluid injected and the magnitude of the earthquake.

“If you inject about 10,000 cubic metres, then the maximum sized earthquake would be about a magnitude 3.3,” says McGarr. Every time the volume of water doubles, the maximum magnitude of any quake rises by roughly 0.4. “The earthquakes may end up being much smaller, but you want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” says McGarr. The relationship is straightforward, but it is the first time that anyone has quantified it, he adds.

Shale Pioneers Plan Next English Wells After Fracking Causes Earthquake

By Kari Lundgren, Bloomberg News

Dec 2, 2011 9:17 AM ET

The sound that woke Caroline Murphy after midnight on April 1 was so loud she thought a car had crashed into her house. She doesn’t feel any better knowing it was the U.K.’s first recorded earthquake caused by natural-gas exploration.

Murphy’s home is within three miles of a drill site belonging to Cuadrilla Resources Ltd., an explorer that says it’s found more natural gas trapped in the local shale rock than Iraq has in its entire reserves. The magnitude 2.3 tremor that shook Murphy, and a second weaker quake on May 27, forced Cuadrilla to suspend hydraulic fracturing, the process of blasting sand, water and chemicals into shale that’s made the U.S. the world’s largest natural-gas producer.

“They say they’ve been fracking for years and years and it hasn’t caused any problems,” Murphy, an artist and designer, said in an interview. “I say: ‘You caused an earthquake. To me, that’s a big issue.'”

And for what?  For money of course-

Supporters of shale gas say the U.K. can’t afford to overlook the potential. The North Sea fields discovered in the 1970s that made the U.K. self-sufficient are running dry and the country will import more than half its gas supplies this year. The prospect of plentiful, cheap gas — prices have fallen about 75 percent since shale drilling took off in the U.S. — could help the economy, said Tim Yeo, who chairs parliament’s energy and climate change committee.

“It is likely the U.K. has quite substantial shale gas reserves and there may be sufficient resources to replace a significant amount of reserves,” Yeo, a member of the governing Conservative Party, said in a telephone interview. “Shale is good from a security point of view. It gives us some degree of protection from international gas prices.”

Cuadrilla, backed by Riverstone Holdings LLC, a private equity investor that includes former BP Plc Chief Executive Officer John Browne among its directors, wants to start fracking again. The company said its first wells showed the shale rock it’s exploring may hold 200 trillion cubic feet of gas. While only a fraction will ever get drilled, 10 percent of that amount is enough to supply the U.K. for about six years.

Protection from international gas prices?  Folks, there’s a glut of natural gas and the prices are falling through the floor.

Fracking for Gas in a Field of Cabbages

By Kari Lundgren, Bloomberg News

Dec 6, 2011 10:18 AM ET

Earthquakes aside, shale may struggle to get a foothold in Europe, according to Deutsche Bank AG analysts. It’s more expensive to drill in Europe, where a well may cost between $6.5 million and $14 million, compared with $4 million for a Marcellus Shale well in Pennsylvania. Then there’s the issue of mineral rights. In the U.K., the government owns the nation’s oil and gas resources, so there are few prospects to entice landowners to become “shale-ionaires.”

If Cuadrilla’s shale-gas dream doesn’t pan out, the site will go back to being a world-class cabbage field.

It won’t be the first natural gas well in the neighborhood that’s been left to fade away. There’s one that belonged to BG Group just a few miles down the road.

EPA: ‘Fracking’ likely polluted town’s water



Development of the new shale deposits over the last few years has provided the United States with a century’s worth of natural gas supply.

At the last hearing last month, protesters gathered in downtown Manhattan to express concern about the safety of water supplies, holding signs saying “Governor Cuomo, don’t frack it up” and “Don’t frack with New York.”

“We have to be literally insane to contemplate fracking,” state Sen. Tony Avella told reporters outside the hearings. “Wake up Governor Cuomo, this is not going to provide jobs or revenue, but what it will do is poison the water supply for 17 million New Yorkers.”

In fact it’s so fracking cheap that Oil Companies are desperately seeking export markets.

Shale gas opens door to U.S. LNG exports

Energy companies step up effort to ship surplus gas overseas

By Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch

Dec. 5, 2011, 6:52 p.m. EST

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — A decade ago, a global glut of clean, cheap natural gas bred big plans to import liquefied natural gas to the energy-hungry United States.

That’s all changed.

Nowadays, energy companies are tapping into previously untouched North American gas reserves, prompting them to take a hard look at ways to sell their new-found gas to the rest of the world.

This sudden shift from gas importer to possible exporter is the result of innovative drilling technology that frees gas trapped in vast shale rock formations that until recently had been dismissed as non-commercial.

For the U.S. to become a serious natural gas exporter requires building a costly infrastructure, which will only happen if the right market conditions exist in coming years. Read about the booming U.S. shale gas sector.

Nevertheless, several companies already have plans to build liquefied natural gas, or LNG, export terminals while others are well into the evaluation process, raising the prospects of a billion-dollar construction boom for these highly specialized facilities.

This is quickly boosting output at home. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s short-term energy outlook sees a 6.1% increase in domestic natural gas production in 2011, rising another 2% in 2012. All of the gains are from onshore drilling operations in the lower 48 states.

“The projected U.S. demand is not sufficient to absorb the supply from these fields,” Gordon said in an interview.

That leaves producers two obvious outlets to absorb future production: transportation fuel and LNG exports, he said.

And the US and the UK are not the only games in town, it’s a world-wide glut.

The Southern Gas Corridor Gets a Kick-Start

Author: Robert M. Cutler, EconoMonitor

December 8th, 2011

Azerbaijan and Turkey have announced plans to construct a pipeline from the South Caucasus across Turkey to carry natural gas from Azerbaijan’s offshore Shah Deniz Two deposit to Southeastern Europe. At first glance, this would seem to leave Nabucco and two other candidate pipeline projects that have already submitted bids, out in the cold. However, what is involved is the creation of a format for bargaining where Azerbaijan can assert its strategic interests more convincingly against the pipeline consortia, which by their project-oriented nature have not been inclined to take a broader view.

The announcement of the SEEP and TAGP projects thus signifies Azerbaijan’s growing autonomy in the setting of its natural gas export policy. The outcome of the current process will point the way towards methods for the disposition of future quantities of natural gas from Azerbaijan’s offshore. Two wholly undeveloped deposits, Absheron and Umid, have been undergoing exploration and are credibly estimated to contain 350 bcm of natural gas each. Azerbaijan expects to produce just over 25 bcm of natural gas this year from existing deposits and looks for that figure to increase to 50 bcm/y by 2025.

Why all the hurry to drill into shale? It’s not going anywhere

This is an open letter to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Dr. Cate Matisi

Wednesday, December 7,2011

I live in southeastern Ohio and have been watching with alarm as fracking has been marching toward my home over the past several years. I have major concerns about how quickly people have convinced themselves that this will be a viable solution for both the financial difficulties we are facing in Ohio and the energy shortages we face as a nation, while ignoring potentially devastating environmental consequences. The industry touts the patriotic theme of U.S. energy independence, even though a number of these oil and gas companies have partnerships with Korean, Chinese, British and Norwegian companies that certainly don’t have our energy or economic interests forefront in their minds.

The oil and gas industry is calling natural gas a cleaner energy alternative on the face, without including the climate cost of diesel fuel-powered equipment transporting, setting up and developing the site, the amount of methane, a much dirtier pollutant that is accidentally leaked during well construction, production and transport, during processing and storage of this natural gas and that’s often intentionally “flared off.” If there were no environmental issues negatively impacted by horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing, why doesn’t the industry insist on following the provisions of the Clean Air, the Clean Water Act and the Superfund mandate.

The oil and gas industry has also used employment statistics in an industry-sponsored study in Pennsylvania that gives industry employment figures almost 10 times higher than the Pennsylvania state employment bureau has noted.

There are alternative, sustainable sources of energy that could see incredible growth in development if they were to receive the tax exemptions and grants that the oil and gas industry now receives.

I am not a fringe environmentalist. I am a responsible Ohio landowner who realizes that the fresh air we breathe, the water we need for ourselves, our children and our land are not limitless, and should not be jeopardized by this practice, which has not been in use for the past 60 years, but in reality, less than eight years. The natural gas has been in the Marcellus/Utica shale formations for 4 billion years. Waiting until regulations can be developed to ensure the safest, most environmentally practical policies to handle and manage natural gas production makes the most sense all the way around.

That’s a very good question.  Could it be because Wall Street speculators and banksters are demanding double digit growth even though the Main Street economy is in a severe Depression?

New York fracking proposal roundly condemned at public hearing

Karen McVeigh, The Guardian

Wednesday 30 November 2011 19.25 EST

At the first of two public hearings in New York City over the plan to end the ban on fracking, the state authorities were left in little doubt about the scale of the opposition. Speakers at the packed and often unruly meeting in the 900-seat Tribeca performing arts centre were overwhelmingly against the technique, which involves blasting chemical-laden water and sand into shale rock to release gas.

Many of the speakers condemned the hearings themselves as a sham, because they said they were set up to allow public comment about draft regulations, before any environmental assessment had been carried out.

Addressing a crowd of residents, activists and others outside the hearing, Senator Tony Avella, the Democrat author of a bill which would prohibit fracking in New York state, said: “I urge the Department of Conservation and the governor to pause in their deliberations and take full measure of the risks versus the ‘gold rush industry’ and make the right decision for this state for generations to come.”

He added: “The risk of catastrophic danger to the environment, the health of New York residents and adverse economic impacts that result from hydraulic fracturing far outweigh the potential for job creation and promotion of a natural gas alternative for oil.”

Mark Ruffalo, the actor, said: “The more we learn about fracking the more we see that natural gas is not a clean transition fuel, but a bridge to nowhere. The future of New York state depends on the action and resolve of the citizens of today – to reject this dangerous process and build a sustainable future for our children.”

Opponents of the drilling method criticised the Cuomo administration for exaggerating the economic benefits. They questioned the number of jobs that would be created, and said the administration had failed to consider the negative impacts on agriculture, tourism and other industries.

I couldn’t put it better myself-

There are alternative, sustainable sources of energy that could see incredible growth in development if they were to receive the tax exemptions and grants that the oil and gas industry now receives.

Getting Money Out Of Politics

I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one ~ unknown author #OWSNYC

Besides shifting the conversation in the media from budget cuts, deficits and austerity to jobs, jobs, jobs, the Occupy Wall Street movement has also brought more attention to how Wall St., banks and, especially mega-corporations control the two parties and influence politics. Follow the money. Since the Supreme Court ruling that corporations are people and money talks, some politicians, organizations and a few in the media have been examining ways to get money out of politics and put government back in the hands of the governed. One of those means is a constitutional amendment as proposed by Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders:

Sanders’s amendment, S.J.Res. 33 (pdf), would state that corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as persons, that corporations are subject to regulation, that corporations may not make campaign contributions and that Congress has the power to regulate campaign finance.

While the Citizens United case affected corporations, unions and other entities, the Sanders amendment focuses only on “for-profit corporations, limited liability companies or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests.”

Sanders said he has never proposed an amendment to the Constitution before, but said he sees no other alternative to reversing the Citizens United decision.[..]

The Sanders amendment is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), and a similar amendment has been proposed in the House by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).

On December 3, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to support such a constitutional amendment:

The resolution was backed by Move to Amend, a national coalition working to abolish corporate personhood and overturn U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling. The decision gave corporations and unions the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, so long as their actions are not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.

“Move to Amend’s proposed amendment would provide the basis for overturning the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” stated Mary Beth Fielder, Co-Coordinator of LA Move to Amend. “The Supreme Court has no legitimate right to grant people’s rights to corporations. We must clearly establish that it is we, The People, who are meant to rule.”

Move to Amend hopes to get ballot initiatives put on the ballots in cities and states for the 2012 election to help voters show their representatives that they are serious about reigning corporate influences in elections:

“These are how American amendments move forward from the grassroots when Americans say enough is enough.  We’re very proud to come together and send a message but more than that, this becomes the official position of the City of Los Angeles, we will officially lobby for this.  I also chair a group which oversees all the Democratic mayors and council members in the country and we’re going to share this with all our 3,000 members and we hope to see this start here in the west and sweep the nation until one day we do have a constitutional amendment which will return the power to the people.”

There is some bipartisan agreement between Democrats and true conservative Republicans. Former Louisiana governor, congressman and candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, Buddy Roemer, agrees with Sen. Sanders on getting money out of politics when he appeared with Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC. You won’t hear Roemer in any of the debates that are being run by Fox, CNN but he has been getting exposure on the talk show rounds. Roemer believes, like Sanders, that “Washington is being bought and sold like a sack of potatoes”

Like the LA City Council, Occupy Wall Street, Sen. Sanders and Gov. Roemer, we agree that this is the best solution. It will be fought by the corporations and those they control and like any fight it starts with first steps. Lets hope it grows. The survival of democracy in America depends on it.

Contrary to the will of special interests, Buddy wants to see Washington reform that includes full disclosure of campaign contributions, 48 hour electronic reporting of campaign contributions, the elimination of the Super PACs that keep the GOP’s top contenders at the top, limiting PAC donations to same amount of money that individuals can contribute, prohibiting lobbyists from participating in fundraisers, and imposing criminal penalties on those that violate the rules of campaign finance.

These changes seem to be what most Republican voters are looking for, but without a Super PAC to fund him, Roemer is unable to throw the millions of dollars the big spenders like Romney, Perry and even Ron Paul shell out on publicity. And Americans cannot expect those taking money from special interest groups to protect citizens from those very same special interest groups. [..]

Buddy also wants to end corporate welfare. Corporations are big spenders when it comes to campaign contributions. While big oil companies no longer need government money to survive, since they earn billions in profits selling overpriced gasoline and oil to consumers, they are willing to shell out large amounts of campaign money to ensure the politicians that will push their agendas are elected.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes:If you are an earlier riser on weekends or, like me, up all night working, I’ve heard that Hayes is a good watch and has had some very interesting guests and discussions. Guests are not announced adding to the spontaneity of the format.

This Week with Christiane Amanpour: GOP Candidate and former ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman is This Week’s guest in Ms. Amanpour’s interview series with the potential challengers to Barack Obama.

This Week’s roundtable guests are ABC’s George Will, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez in Washington, and Des Moines Register political columnist Kathie Obradovich from Iowa.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Guests are Republican Candidate Representative Michele Bachmann and Iowa Republican Representative Steve King. Plus a roundtable with CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Norah O’Donnell and CBS News Political Director John Dickerson

The Chris Matthews Show: This week’s guests Joe Klein, TIME Columnist; Helene Cooper, The New York Times White House Correspondent; Gillian Tett, Financial Times U.S. Managing Editor; and John Heilemann, New York Magazine National Political Correspondent.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Guests are Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The roundtable guests are Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, NBC News Special Correspondent Ted Koppel, NBC’s Senior Investigative Correspondent, Lisa  Myers, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, and NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Guests are Republican Presidential candidate, former Sen. Rick Santorum, former Rep. Bob Walker (R-PA), former Gov. John Sununu (R-NH), former Obama White House Communications Director Anita Dunn and former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) and Postmaster general and CEO, Patrick Donahoe.

New York Times Editorial: A Pentagon the Country Can Afford

There is room to cut defense spending, if it is done with prudence and innovation.

If you listen to defense industry lobbyists, hawks in Congress and the Pentagon, the sky is falling and with it, American security. It isn’t. The failure of the “supercommittee” to reach a deficit agreement is supposed to trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts in federal spending over the next decade, nearly $500 billion of that from the basic Pentagon budget. Many Republicans, and some Democrats, are already talking about getting the Pentagon off the hook. Representative Howard McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has promised legislation to prevent the cuts from taking effect. We are no fans of the supercommittee process, but if the Pentagon’s spending is wrestled back into rationality, it will be progress. Walking away would be a blow to Washington’s financial credibility. There is room to cut, if it is done with prudence and innovation.

Maureen Dowd: Fire and Ice Fire

Will it be a blood match between one candidate whose blood boils over and another who is bloodless?

A match between Gingrich and Obama would be fascinating: two men who grew up without their hot-tempered, hard-drinking fathers, vying to be the nation’s patriarch.

The Drama Queen versus No Drama Obama. The apocalyptic prophet versus the ambiguous president.

One hot, one cold. One struggles to stop setting fires as the other struggles to get fiery. One who’s always veering out of control, one who’s too tightly controlled. One reining it in, one letting it rip. One tamping down his pugilistic side, the other ramping it up. One channeling Ronald Reagan to seem more genial; the other channeling Harry Truman to have more spine.

One pretending to be a populist when he can’t drag himself out of Tiffany’s; the other pretending to be a populist when he’d like to be at Davos with Jamie Dimon.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Andrew Cuomo and the Spirit of Occupy

How Occupy Wall Street made Andrew Cuomo act less like Chris Christie.

For a few weeks last month, the main outpost of Murdoch-ism in the US-the New York Post-ran the same headline on its opinion page day after day: “Read Andrew’s Lips.” It was the Post’s way of reminding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of his “no new taxes” pledge, and the potential harm that would befall him if he reneged on it. [..]

Fast forward six months to today. The Post is in a rage, calling the Governor a “rate-fink” and-even more odious in their eyes-comparing him to his father, the first Governor (Mario) Cuomo. They’re fuming and frothing at Cuomo’s change of heart over the last week that resulted in a partial re-establishment of the millionaire’s tax. It’s almost as if after eleven months of governing like New Jersey’s Republican Governor Christie, he converted back to the Democratic principles of Connecticut’s Dan Malloy. For his part, Cuomo has cited the state’s worsening fiscal situation as the reason for the change of heart, and no doubt that played a part. But the deeper reason, and the more interesting reason, was Occupy. As the WFP’s Dan Cantor wrote recently, and as many others have likewise noted, the Occupy movement changed the conversation in America “from austerity to inequality.” And this new tax deal in Albany, which will manifestly improve the lives of many working and poor people, is a result of that changed conversation and atmosphere.

Vivian Gornick: Emma Goldman Occupies Wall Street

This is the second time in living memory that an American movement protesting social injustice has embraced her.

One afternoon in mid-October a young woman-dressed in a white Victorian shirtwaist, long black
skirt and rimless glasses shorn of earpieces-stood up in
Zuccotti Park to announce that she was Emma Goldman and that she had traveled through time to tell those gathered in the park that she loved what they were doing. Nothing in the way of OWS street theater could have better invoked the spirit of the protest than the appearance of a principled anarchist, born nearly a century and a half ago, who never considered herself more American than when she was denouncing the brutish contempt in which capitalism held the feeling life of the individual.

“Feeling” was a key word for Emma Goldman. She always said that the ideas of anarchism were of secondary use if grasped only with one’s reasoning intelligence; it was necessary to “feel them in every fiber like a flame, a consuming fever, an elemental passion.” This, in essence, was the core of Goldman’s radicalism: a lifelong faith, lodged in the nervous system, that feelings were everything. Radical politics, in fact, was the history of one’s own hurt, thwarted, humiliated feelings at the hands of institutionalized authority.

Stephen N. Xenakis: Healers, Torture and National Security

In 2004, the news that Americans had committed abuse and mistreatment in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo was shocking. Even more alarming, were the revelations that physicians, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals had assisted with interrogations that bordered on torture.

In the span of just two generations, the United States had drifted from condemning Nazi physicians at the Nuremberg Trials for their collusion with torture, inhuman experimentation and cruel mistreatment to justifying waterboarding in the pursuit of better intelligence.

As a retired brigadier general and Army psychiatrist, committed to a strong military and national defense, I find these scandals to be most disturbing. The complicity of psychiatrists and other physicians clearly deviated from the fundamental ethical principles of the medical profession and military medicine. My generation of soldiers, who had served during the Vietnam War, vowed not to repeat the misdeeds of the My Lai massacres and rampant indiscipline we witnessed.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

UN climate conference approves landmark deal

New accord will put all countries under the same legal requirements to control greenhouse gases by 2020 at the latest.

Last Modified: 11 Dec 2011

The president of a United Nations climate conference in South Africa has announced agreement on a programme mapping out a new course by all nations to fight climate change over the coming decades.

The 194-party conference agreed on Sunday to start negotiations on a new accord that would put all countries under the same legal regime to enforce their commitments to control greenhouse gases. Approved by 2015, it would take effect by 2020 at the latest.

However, key components of the accord remain to be hammered out, and observers say the task will be arduous. Thorny issues include the still-undefined legal status of the accord and apportioning cuts on emissions among rich and poor countries.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Immigrant cleaner leads revolt against Spanish mortgage trap

Defecting Syrian soldier tells of his marriage torn apart by brutal conflict in Homs

Good heavens, it’s a dream come true

ANC offers Zanu-PF a hand

Police employ Predator drone spy planes on home front