Liberal, Irreverent

Thursday, January 31, 2008

"a Godfather of Green"

Another example of an idiot and, what a surprise, a republican.


Hall of Shame: Mitch McConnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell earns a third spot in the Hall of Shame for his blatant pandering to oil companies, for which he’s been amply rewarded with campaign cash. It’s no surprise to find a wealthy Republican Senator in bed with oil barons, but McConnell’s recent decision to call himself an environmental leader adds an extra element of shamefulness to his already disgraceful behavior.

Over the course of his career, McConnell has received more than half a million dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas lobbyists who look to him for help with troublesome bills. In 2006, McConnell supported a $5 billion tax windfall for the industry. He even went so far as to raise an objection in the Senate that led to the cancellation of a Live Earth benefit concert.

Here’s what Mitch McConnell’s hometown paper, the Courier-Journal, had to say about one of the Senator’s latest “green” efforts:

Editorial: McConnell Brought GOP Senate and Bush White House Together On Behalf of Oil Companies.
“In an oily speech on the floor after passage of a weakened energy bill, Kentucky's Mitch McConnell described what happened this way: ‘We recognized here in the Senate that the House bill couldn't pass the Senate and wouldn't be signed into law. So we fixed it. And now it will.’ He unctuously thanked colleagues for their hard work. He slathered on the praise, claiming, ‘I'm extremely pleased that we're about to show the American people we still have it in us to come together as a body and achieve consensus on an issue that affects all of us.’ Actually it's the Republican Senate he controls and the White House he cultivates that came together -- on behalf of the oil industry and the utility interests, by blocking the restoration of $13 billion in taxes on fabulous petroleum profits and shielding the power companies from a requirement to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable resources. …But the real winners were the lobbyists for big Republican campaign givers, who succeeded in blocking the restoration of billions in taxes on the big oil companies, which are squeezing American consumers for more than $100 billion per year in profits, thanks to huge price hikes at the pump. Had that tax provision survived, the proceeds would have financed clean energy development. Also falling before the pressure of lobbyists was a requirement that utilities produce 15 percent of their electricity by wind, solar and other renewable means by 2020. This was a huge victory for the operators of dirty coal-fired plants in the Midwest and South. This is what Mitch McConnell and George W. Bush did for Big Energy, and did to the rest of us. As long as Sen. McConnell can block action on future-friendly legislation by denying the Democrats 60-vote margins, this obstructionism will continue. …Sen. McConnell and President Bush are yesterday's heroes, not tomorrow's champions.”

Given his cozy relationship with the oil companies, and his 0% rating from the League of Conservation Voters, McConnell isn’t exactly known for his environmentally-friendly ways. But that hasn’t stopped McConnell from launching a new television ad calling the Senator “a Godfather of Green.”

For not only pushing the oil companies’ agendas and taking their campaign cash, but for hypocritically claiming to be an environmentalist, we congratulate Senator McConnell on his induction into the Hall of Shame.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

U.S. should resist linguistic terrorism of English-only laws,0,6357403.story

By Deborah WhitfordJanuary 9, 2008

Language is a difficult subject to discuss dispassionately because it's our essence. So when two languages come cheek to jowl, as English and Spanish have in the United States, it becomes a hot issue. As Chicano poet Gloria Anzaldua wrote in Borderlands: La Frontera: "So, if you really want to hurt me, talk badly about my language. I am my language."

Linguistic terrorism has plagued children of immigrants and Native Americans for generations. Alberto Alvaro Ríos wrote in his book Capirotada: A Nogales Memoir: "If speaking Spanish is bad, and our parents speak Spanish, then they must be bad," he concluded, "and we became ashamed of them."

Fueling the language debate are clashes arising over illegal immigrants fleeing dire circumstances. But anti-foreign-language fervor has been around for a long time. We disrespected the languages of Native Americans and African-Americans because non-white minorities spoke them, and we shunned German during World War I. Now it's Spanish.
The irony is that almost all of us have ancestors who were immigrants. The co-mingling of languages is as much a part of that brew as the people who speak them. Yet we have become so smug about English that we ignore the prominence of foreign words in our vocabularies.

French: casserole, cassette and clientele. Latin: acumen, genius, moratorium. Greek: thesis, barometer, autistic. German: angst, kindergarten, sauerkraut. Turkish: macramé, bridge, caviar. Italian: pizza, ghetto, ballerina. Japanese: banzai, sushi. Afrikaner: trek. Hungarian: coach, paprika.

As for Spanish, it left its mark upon our culture long before the arrival of Cristóbal Colón. Just close your eyes and press your finger onto any U.S. map, and chances are decent that you'll be pointing to a place with a Spanish name (such as Colorado, Montana or Florida).

Yet we view foreign languages with suspicion and derision - the billboards in Spanish, the mom-and-pop piñata shops, the Little Mexicos. We've got them in our sights. Our weapon? Legislation.

Thirty states, from Arkansas to Wyoming, have enacted laws making English their official language.

This is not a bad thing as long as the sole purpose is to enable the government to run smoothly, unencumbered by language barriers. But it's one thing to specify English as the official language and quite another to issue "English only" mandates that order all government employees to refrain from offering assistance in other languages. Heaven forbid a Navajo legislator should speak to his Navajo constituents in Navajo, or a bilingual welfare worker speak Spanish, or a state park ranger give visitors directions in French or German.

Yet 23 states have adopted measures restricting the public use of minority languages. During last year's regular session of the General Assembly in Maryland, laws that would have required all government business statewide and in Baltimore County to be conducted in English were defeated.

An English-only mandate not only hampers effective communication but, according to the written opinion of the Arizona Supreme Court, it also "chills First Amendment rights."Stephen Montoya, the lawyer who represented legislators and state employees in Arizona seeking to overturn one such law, called it racist. "The only individuals in Arizona who don't speak English fluently, or not at all, are people of color," he said. "I see this as a way to keep them out of the political process."

To legislate against Spanish is to marginalize the largest minority group in this country. The United States contains the fifth-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, estimated at about 32 million. Spanish is the third-most-spoken language on the planet, with 400 million to 480 million speakers.

As for the assertions that these "foreigners" don't want to learn English, considering the waiting list of immigrants clamoring for classes, that can't be true.
Moreover, learning a foreign language takes time. Please, let's give them a chance.

Language is a beautiful resource, a bridge to other cultures and new ways of thinking. It's also constantly in flux; a language that doesn't change dies.
If we stymie the process, the best we can hope for might be the unearthing of American English by future archeologists studying a dead culture.

Deborah Whitford is a writer, a student of Spanish and a courtroom clerk in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix. Her e-mail is

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bill Richardson throws the towel

Bill Richardson ended his bid for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Nobody can deny that he has the best experience and skills of all candidates of both parties. However, voters did not put too much value on that. Why? I don't think anyone can answer this question really. However, there is something wrong in this nation when we have the chance to put an excellent perrson in the White House (and God, how we need it!!) and don't do give it a chance.