Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Oily Bastards 

There can be little doubt that this Administration has been sucking oil company dick all along. Now, the Supreme Court has just bent over for Exxon, signaling that the true wish of the Neocons has always been to turn the United States of America into the Disunited Peons of Corporations.

This story at Alternet lays out the details and I can't really add to it. But look at it and ask yourself how any Court with a conscience or a sense of Justice could have in their dock a Corporation that makes billions off of an over-valued commodity upon which the People depend, and decide that the punitive damages awarded to victims of the Exxon Valdez spill were just too high.

Of course, either way the award goes, most of it goes right into the hands of the US Government. The attorneys get the next biggest chunk. Before the Supreme Court decision, each attorney would become (if already not) a mutli-millionaire. Now, they'll get barely more than half a million each. Look, Dick, look. See the sad attorneys? Sad, sad attorneys.

Most inexplicable is the payment of 11% of the award to Exxon -- which was reduced from $275 million to just under $56 million -- to pay off other claims. That seems a little "fox in the henhouse" to me.

The lawyers, the government were not victims here. Exxon's loss amounted to a boat, a captain's reputation and a lot of oil. But the real victims, people who lost their jobs, their homes, sometimes their families and too often their lives, had their award reduced from $28,125.00 per claimant to just $5,703.75. Even then, if the entire original award of $2.5 billion had been distributed only among the claimants, they would have received $78,125 each.

In other words, this Supreme Court is saying that people's lives, families and careers, that decades of planning turned decades of waiting, that the pain of divorce and suicide, are worth barely enough money to fill a sedan's tank weekly for a year and a half. Even the $78K would have been an insult. The original award to the plaintiffs, after fees, taxes and kickbacks, should have been $160 billion.

And why not? Isn't that about what Exxon's profit was last year? Let's let them enjoy twelve months of the hell that 32,000 people have suffered daily for over nineteen years.

Unfortunately, it looks like their pain will continue -- and every Jackass in a Robe who voted in favor of this decision should be impeached now.


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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The UK: Don't Let America Become This 

Terrorism is meant to influence the actions of a government via violence or intimidation. With that as a given, if terrorists attacked the US because "they hate our freedom", then W gleefully tried to complete their job for them in the seven years since 9/11 by removing (or trying to remove) nearly all of our freedoms.

Now, the US has been victim of exactly one terrorist act alleged to have been carried out by people who can generally be described as Muslims. Yes, the death count was high, the act horrific -- but if you were going to count total number of acts by identifiable group, then the US would do more to go after the White Supremacists and Gangs. The one phenomenon I haven't seen here yet, though, is coddling of potential terrorists; if anything, the US has gone the opposite direction.

But go over to the UK, you could almost swear that the Mullahs and their armies marched into London long ago, deposed the Royal Family, and started issuing edicts. The UK, like the US, has been victim of exactly one terrorist act alleged to have been carried out by people who can generally be described as Muslims. They were subject, for over sixty years, to homegrown terrorist acts by the IRA. (Of course, the IRA had a really good point...) Or, in other words, the UK has had a lot more practice at dodging terrorists, and they got pretty good at it without limiting personal freedom too much. There were no CCTV cams in London at the height of IRA attacks, and yet the police still managed to foil more plots than were successful.

And then the UK's oldest child freaks out and goes all conservative and, like a bad parent, instead of correcting their offspring, the UK decides to become even more fascistic and faster than the US. Since 9/11 (in which nary a soul on British territory was even injured), the UK has become a country of constant surveillance, nanny state laws, ridiculous fines, levies and taxes, and that sound you hear coming from Oxfordshire way is George Orwell rapidly rotating in his grave.

But... they've also done something quite incomprehensible, something which defies explanation. While taking enormous countermeasures against them, the government of the UK has also bent over backwards (twice) and stuck their own heads up their asses to placate them. "Them" being the perceived terrorists. Apparently, all any Muslim has to do in the UK is be "offended" and entire polices are changed, heads roll. In the UK, despite all their draconian measures, the terrorists have won. Nay -- the British Government surrendered to them, then bent over to say sorry.

Case in point: a Police Department in Scotland publishes an ad to inform people of their new phone number. The graphics in the ad are a policeman's hat, in which sits a cute puppy. Some Muslims get their burkas in a twist (because they consider dogs "dirty" -- something that this dog-lover thinks speaks volumes about their religion) and the department is bending over backwards to apologize and re-do the ad.

Lets recap that: police publish ad, local immigrant minority doesn't like it, police capitulate.

Let me put this story another way...

A nice, conservative fundie from Oklahoma has to move to France for business. While there, he connects with -- via Craigslist and church bulletin boards -- other American Christian Fundies. They form a loose community of about a thousand around the south coast. Then they decide they are offended by women being topless on the beaches. They complain to the government.

Now -- what likely response would you expect? A) Oh no. A tiny minority is offended by actions in their adopted country. No more titties! Or B) We've done it like this here for decades. Get used to it.

Any sane country's response would be B. Dog shows and the like are an incredibly major business in the UK. Dog ownership is one of the highest in the world, and a number of major dog breeds were developed in the UK over a long history of using dogs for working and hunting. The Queen is known for her beloved corgis, and at least one breed of dog was named for its resemblance to one of her predecessors on the throne.

In other words, Brits and Scots love them some dogs. The animals are a deeply ingrained part of their culture. Explain to me, again, why they should give that all up and act like it's filthy just because a handful of Johnny-Come-Latelys don't like it?

When other groups complain, there doesn't seem to be any instant compliance, but rather the rightful "Shut up" from the general public. BMW's "German engineering" tag line upsets Holocaust Survivors? Sorry. Freedom of speech, you know. Christians upset by "Holiday" replacing "Christmas"? "Well, old boy, you do know we can't accommodate the needs of one small group over the sensibilities of all the others..."

End result: Regular Britons are harassed, spied on, suspected, taxed, fined, controlled, censored and brutalized on a daily basis by their Government. All the while, the people who are suspected of having launched a foreign-born terrorist attack are coddled, pampered, bowed down to and treated as if they are the dominant culture.

The UK has lost the War on Terror by having long ago laid down their arms and given up the fight.
Terrorism is meant to influence the actions of a government via violence or intimidation. The UK has obviously been influenced, proving that their true cowardice is fifty times that alleged of France by the American Neocons early on in this War on (Some) Terror(ists).

God Save the British People.


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