Year 3, Month 1, Day 2: And They DEFINITELY Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Get Married!

Looks like some underlings are gonna feel some heat:

U.S. prosecutors are preparing what would be the first criminal charges against BP PLC employees stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident, which killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, said people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors are focused on several Houston-based engineers and at least one of their supervisors at the British oil company, though the breadth of the investigation isn’t known. The prosecutors assert the employees may have provided false information to regulators about the risks associated with the Gulf of Mexico well while its drilling was in progress, these people said.

As the bumper sticker says, I’ll believe corporations are people when I see Texas execute one. Sent December 29:

Now that the Citizens United decision has helped establish corporate personhood as part of America’s legal fabric, we should all be asking questions about what happens when corporations break the law. Given the conservative/libertarian mantra of “individual responsibility,” one would expect “persons” like British Petroleum to be held fully responsible for their misdeeds.

An individual who, through gross incompetence, destroyed vast swaths of ocean habitat, killed thousands upon thousands of living things, and wiped out local economies would be rightly treated as a criminal. The available evidence suggests that BP’s malfeasance extends all the way up the corporate ladder, with safety and environmental concerns systemically neglected in an all-consuming rush for greater profits.

What BP did to the Gulf of Mexico, the fossil fuel industry as a whole is doing to Earth’s atmosphere. It is time for these corporate “persons” to be indicted and tried for their criminally negligent behavior.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 11, Day 28: Gooooooood Morning!

Why am I not surprised? USA Today:

As prospects for a major global accord on climate change look dim, ensuring that negotiations continue may be the most a United Nations climate summit will achieve next week.

Beginning Monday in Durban, South Africa, the 12-day U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change picks up where last year’s meeting in Cancun left off.

What eluded negotiators then, and still does today, is a grand bargain in which 194 nations commit to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions that most scientists contend are contributing to a warmer climate.

“Almost everyone agrees that some kind of big deal is unlikely,” says international negotiations expert David Victor of the University of California-San Diego. Economically, he says, “these are dark times and we have made that choice already in past meetings.”

Sheesh. Sent November 24:

In theory, our democratic government is supposed to be ever-active on behalf of the people. But in practice, it looks like America’s political system defines “people” rather more narrowly. Perhaps in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision affirming the “personhood” of corporations, our representatives mistakenly concluded that since corporations are now “people”, ordinary citizens aren’t.

How else to interpret America’s inability to take significant action on the profound threat of climate change? When the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases are “unlikely” to come to any kind of meaningful accord at the upcoming Durban conference, there is only one interpretation: “corporate persons” believe themselves invulnerable to the runaway greenhouse effect scientists say is is now all but inevitable.

Maybe so. If climate change brings an “evolutionary bottleneck” for humanity, Earth may indeed eventually be ruled by mindless, consumption-driven corporate intelligences. Cockroaches, after all, are the ultimate survivors.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 5, Day 20: Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha ha.

The Koch Brothers were pranked by “Youth For Climate Truth,” a low-budget Yes Men group which sent out some phony press releases in the name of Koch Industries a while back, claiming the Bircher billionaires had seen the light on climate change and were no longer going to fund denialism in the media. Ha ha. The Kochs then proceeded to sue YFCT. Ha ha.

The suit has now been laughed out of court
. Ha ha:

A federal judge in Utah on Monday tossed Koch Industries’s lawsuit against the pranksters who set up a fake website and sent out a bogus press release saying the company had found religion on climate change.

In a case being watched for First Amendment implications, Judge Dale Kimball of the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City also said Koch can’t disclose the identities of the “Youth for Climate Truth” members or use any other information obtained via subpoena from two Utah-based domain hosting companies.

The ruling is a major one as courts navigate the intersection of the First Amendment with anonymous speech and computer hacking on the Internet. Koch’s claims included charges of trademark infringement, unfair competition, cybersquatting and breach of the company website’s terms of use.

Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha ha.

Sent May 9:

Koch Industries’ lawsuit against “Youth For Climate Truth” was a mother lode of irony. That one of the world’s most egregiously irresponsible corporations trotted out such massive legal firepower in response to a small group of internet pranksters suggests that these notorious tea-party funders and climate-change denialists are, perhaps, a wee bit sensitive about it. Well, Judge Kimball has laughed them out of court, and rightly so. “Youth For Climate Truth,” the online activists who tweaked the corporate titans with a phony press release, merit our thanks and applause. Given their huge role in delaying and derailing meaningful political action on climate change, the Kochs and their cronies in the fossil-fuel industry have perpetrated a grotesque practical joke on all the rest of us; the American public deserves a few laughs at their expense before the coming decades’ likely ecological collapse strips all humor from the situation.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 4, Day 28: Just You, Just Me, Just Us

Another, longer, article on the upcoming SCOTUS decision, this one from the Connecticut Mirror.

It is an indication of her strong ethical core that Justice Sotomayor plans to recuse herself when the Supreme Court hears the AEP vs. Connecticut case. However, given the close ideological ties between the Court’s conservative members and the fossil fuel industry, one has to wonder if Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts feel similar compunctions. Let’s pause to let the laughter die down, and then wonder: given the Republican right’s embrace of increasing the power of individual states, shouldn’t tea-partiers love a ruling that affirms Connecticut’s right to sue? Somehow, though, I doubt that the Koch Brothers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are going to advocate for the states — and where the Kochs and the Chamber go, the Supreme Court is sure to follow. Far more likely is a decision that will protect energy corporations from having to deal with the environmental consequences of their irresponsibility.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 4, Day 27: Just Make It Stop. Please. Make It Stop.

Wherever Watertown, Wisconsin is, I just picked up a little squib noting that the SCOTUS is going to hear another climate-change related case:

As the EPA considers rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, Republicans in Congress lead an effort to strip the EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gases. Arguments will be heard Tuesday, April 19, before the U.S. Supreme Court over the ability of states and groups such as the Audubon Society to sue large electric utilities and force power plants in 20 states to cut their emissions.

With regard to our current Court I am extremely pessimistic despite the presence of Kagan and Sotomayor.

Sent April 17:

The upcoming Supreme Court case addressing the rights of states and organizations to bring utility companies to court over issues of greenhouse gas pollution will pose a pretty conundrum for the court’s conservative majority. In conferring “personhood” on corporations, the Citizens United decision should make it easier for these actions to proceed — but the Court’s overwhelming bias towards the interests of the very wealthiest elements of our society may well make their upcoming decision an example of egregious hypocrisy. It is a grave misfortune that the ideological majority of America’s judicial branch is so firmly lodged in the pocket of giant, greedy, and irresponsible corporate entities. Corporate greed and scientific ignorance make a lethal combination, and it would be especially tragic if this combination of venality, stupidity, and cupidity served to hinder the work of states and environmental groups attempting to mitigate the potential damage from global climate change.

Warren Senders

Snarlin’ Arlen Haz A Sad

Soon-to-be ex-Senator Specter feels betrayed:

“The Supreme Court has been eating Congress’ lunch by invalidating legislation with judicial activism after nominees commit under oath in confirmation proceedings to respect congressional fact finding and precedents,” said Specter, who voted in favor of both Roberts and Alito when the Bush appointees came before his panel.

Specter specifically took issue with the court’s controversial 5-4 decision early this year, in which it relaxed federally-imposed campaign finance regulations for corporations and unions.

“Ignoring a massive congressional record and reversing recent decisions, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito repudiated their confirmation testimony given under oath and provided the key votes to permit corporations and unions to secretly pay for political advertising – thus effectively undermining the basic Democratic principle of the power of one person, one vote,” said Specter. Chief Justice Roberts promised to just call balls and strikes and then he moved the bases.”


This is not on climate issues, so it doesn’t count as a Letter-of-the-Day, but I just faxed this to his office:

Dear Senator Specter –

I’m glad you finally noticed that Justices Roberts and Alito have been functioning as judicial activists from their positions on the Supreme Court.

Too bad you couldn’t anticipate that at the time you voted for confirmation.

For what it’s worth, a lot of us ordinary people out here in America looked at John Roberts and Sam Alito — and we knew beyond any doubt that these guys were lying to the Judiciary Committee. We knew beyond any doubt that they’d side with big corporations against ordinary people.

How did we know?

While the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were posturing for the cameras, we looked at the things they’d said and written, and we looked at the things they’d done. And we were scared, because we knew that if Roberts and Alito were approved, a decision like the Citizens United disaster would not be long in coming.

But we were ignored, presumably because we were liberals. More precisely, we were ignored because we were part of the group of Americans that seems to scare politicians more than any other; we were Hippies. Why the irrational fear of hippies, Senator?

All we ever did wrong was to be right. Hippies were right about Vietnam, and we were right about Nixon, and we were right about Reagan and about Bush and about Iraq and about air pollution and about civil rights and about pretty damn near everything in the past forty years. And (just to rub your nose in it a little) we were right about Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill.

And we were, once again, right about John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

And you were wrong.

Just once, it would be refreshing to see a major political figure stand up and say it, out loud: “The hippies were right. I was wrong.”

Not that I have any hope of your doing that, of course.

But I can dream, can’t I?

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Warren Senders

Month 10, Day 31: It’s Halloween! I’m Going As David Koch!

Tim Rutten writes in the LA Times about the corporate role in creating the current army of climate zombies who threaten to derail our already pitiful progress on getting a law in place to deal with GHG emissions.

Voters are regularly told that experience in business is a political plus; the notion of running the state or the country “like a company” is extolled. But tobacco companies conspired to hide a fact: their product killed people who used it, and oil companies have likewise conspired, hiding the reality that their product is rendering our planet uninhabitable. Apparently corporations are not only prepared to ignore facts if they get in the way of a healthy quarterly report, but they haven’t yet figured out that killing your customers is bad for business. If we elect corporate CEOs to public office, we should not be surprised if they behave like corporations, employing mendacity, avarice, and short-sightedness to the detriment of our common welfare. The fossil fuel interests’ fixation on denying the existence of the gravest threat humanity has ever faced makes the big tobacco companies look like a bunch of pikers.

Warren Senders

Month 10, Day 28: How I Long For The Days Of “Enlightened Self-Interest”

The Washington Post runs an AP story on the corporate groups that are destroying our democracy:

Rove, who was President George W. Bush’s top political adviser, and the two Mayflower lunch partners – former GOP Chairman Ed Gillespie and Steven Law, a veteran of Capitol Hill and the Chamber of Commerce – worried that the Republican Party alone would be no match for President Barack Obama’s superb fundraising.

“Clearly there was a tremendous amount of grass-roots energy building – a grass-roots prairie fire that was building in intensity,” Law, now the Crossroads president, said in an interview. “We felt that one of the things we could do was pour gasoline on that.”

If voters seemed angry, so was corporate America. Obama led Congress into passing health care and financial regulation overhauls and pushed for climate legislation, all of which angered the business community.


The fact that corporate America was “angry” about President Obama’s calls for climate legislation reveals a lot about Corporate America (which deserves full capitalizations now that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has affirmed its personhood). Specifically, Corporate America is mistrustful of expertise, incapable of long-term thought, lacks any conception of the common good, and is irrationally prone to anger.

A response to proposed climate-change legislation that was not distorted by these tendencies would look very different. For example, it would recognize the overwhelming scientific consensus on the reality of global warming, and acknowledge that the catastrophic consequences of unchecked climate chaos would be (to put it mildly) bad for business. If our corporate citizens were motivated by the common good rather than their quarterly profits, we ordinary human citizens would have no reason to fear them and their devastating impact on both the political and planetary atmospheres.

Warren Senders

Month 9, Day 25: The Immortal Sociopaths Have Money To Burn

Californians are evenly divided on Proposition 23. The Koch Brothers are a pair of evil bastards, all right. This one went to the L.A. Times.

One of the casualties of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision is likely to be meaningful environmental policies. The most comprehensive global warming law in the country is something of which Californians should be proud, and it’s terrifying to see corporate megabucks pour into the campaign for Proposition 23. Comparing the yearly profits of corporations like Tesoro and Valero Energy with the amounts they are spending on this campaign makes it very clear: it’s all about the Benjamins. Although it should be obvious that the best interests of the billionaire Koch brothers are far removed from those of the ordinary people for whom they pretend sympathy, the power of corporate money to persuade voters otherwise is staggering. If Proposition 23 is enacted, it is a certainty that any and all science-based climate policies in this country will be next up in the corporate crosshairs — and we will all lose.

Warren Senders

Month 5, Day 24: A Good Head Of Steam Tonight

There was no chance in hell that a mainstream publication would print the following, so I decided to send it to The Nation. I know, preaching to the choir and all that. But it was fun to write, and I’d love to see the “oil and coal reward the stupid and evil” meme get established.

Looking at the smug arrogance of oil and coal executives, one is convinced that a fossil fuel economy is inherently biased to reward the nasty and stupid. Don Blankenship, whose Massey Coal Company has never met a regulatory corner it couldn’t cut? Tony Hayward, who reassuringly tells us that the environmental impact of Deepwater Horizon will be insignificant? Exxon? Chevron? Leaving aside the likely impact of catastrophic global climate change, the huge costs of post-disaster cleanups, and the multiple other factors that make fossil fuels our most expensive energy source in the long term, the behavior of these companies and the individuals who head them is reprehensible at best and stunningly vile at worst. That fact alone should motivate us to move to a new energy economy. If corporations are worthy of personhood, we must ask, “What kind of person threatens the lives of others without thought of the consequences?” Oil and coal reward criminal sociopathy. Which is yet another reason that the world needs to stop rewarding Oil and Coal.

Warren Senders