Shocked and Persuaded


Separating Fact From Fiction

Limousine Liberals Strike Again!

Below I have pasted an amazing quote from this article in The Times about a wind farm receiving resistance from a couple of bad apples in the name of some pretty amazing and disingenuous concerns. I have included it as my comments were #1 among all reader comments and I think capture a couple of angles that pervade the Limousine Liberal community and are eating away at the environmental movement from the inside and from the top down. Why in God’s name or anyone else for that matter would Red States and ultra-conservatives take us seriously or work with us as liberals/environmentalists if we aren’t willing to put our money and sacrifice where our mouth is? Read the rest of this entry »

Hypocritical Activism

I wonder if when Senator Sessions refers to “a nominee…that is so activist like Goodwin Liu…if it’s somebody like that, clearly outside the mainstream…” is he on the same page with a presumed conservative partner-in-arms like Jerry Falwell Jr. who when asked about the objectives of Liberty University School of Law said it is “…to transform legislatures, courts, commerce and civil government at all levels.” (The Times, R. Shorto “How Christians were the founders?”, February 11, 2010)? I would hope not because otherwise this would make for an awkward moment if such a conflict of ideology were brought up by another member of the Judiciary Committee (Hint: Earth to Senator Leahy!).

Whats good for the flock is apparently not good for the herder.

The Definition of Chutzpah

Regarding Supreme Court case No. 08-205 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which ruled that the federal government may not ban politically motivated spending by corporations in candidate elections:

“…the most partisan decision since Bush v. Gore.”

“It’s basically the neutron bomb in our election system. It’s such a reversal, you can only guess at some of its far reaching implications.”

You would think these were the words of someone who had done everything in his or her power to prevent the inevitable 5-4 ruling handed down by the Supreme Court last month. You would think if this is the ex post facto reaction of a legislature than maybe that legislature had exhausted all avenues of preventing such a ruling. You would be wrong. These are the words of Vermont’s senior senator Patrick Leahy in The New York Times ( and on VPR (, respectively.

It is really quite simple Senator Leahy as the lead Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmations of both Chief Justice John Roberts and his sycophant Samuel Alito had the option to filibuster the confirmations of both to the Supreme Court. He chose not to do so in both cases. He chose a more conciliatory tact instead, because George W Bush had been so amazingly conciliatory I guess?

Even the least schooled legal onlooker could see during the confirmation of these two archconservatives they were hell bent on reshaping the American legal system. Neither judge gave what appeared to be answers to the questions posed to them by Senator Leahy and his fellow Democrats. In all fairness the questions were quite pointed, however, the problem was that for as pointed as the questions were the answers were equally opaque to the point of being complete mumbo-jumbo. Yet, the point that both justices made perfectly clear was their allegiance to the principle of stare decisis, which basically means that judges are obligated to show deference to historical precedent. Judge Roberts especially was quite adamant in his loyalty to this principle, while judge Alito as was his want preferred a more circuitous route. Here is where it gets juicy last month’s ruling on which both judges predictably sided with big corporations overruled two…PRECEDENTS! The first being Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and McConnell (i.e. Senator Republican Leader Mitch McConnell) v. Federal Election Commission, both of which challenged the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act or as it is commonly referred to McCain-Feingold.

The conservative majority and fence rider Anthony Kennedy decided that corporations are entitled to protections under the Fourteenth Amendment as jurisitic persons ( This idea that corporations should have the same inalienable rights as citizens dates back to cases like Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company in 1886and later U.S. v. Detroit Timber and Lumber in 1905 (; The common thread is the debate about what constitutes a person in the United States. With this latest ruling the Supreme Court came down decidedly in favor of the idea that my vote and your vote are no less important than the collective will of corporations. This is a very scary thought as is evidence in Senator Leahy’s comments. More importantly this was a ruling that could have easily been avoided if Senator Leahy had stood up to the corporatist and civil liberty violating ways of the Bush administration. He didn’t and I would hasten to add that is why we’re at the dawn of a new era in electoral subterfuge

What these two judges said and how they ruled, wrote, and spoke in the past were two entirely different things. I knew this from my brief reading-up on the two candidates and I am sure Senator Leahy and his considerable staff at the Senate Judiciary Committee, with considerably more resources and expertise was well aware of this double-speak and -think. Yet, Leahy knowing all this and with his considerable legal background decided to back away from a filibuster the most extreme tool he had left. Extreme times call for extreme measures Senator Leahy and make way for someone that wants to stay in the ring for all nine rounds.

25 Minutes of Your Day?

Upon returning from St. Paul last fall to protest the war, trampling of our civil liberties, and continued mistreatment of the planet I was disappointed to hear the trivial nature of what concerns our community. We have fallen prey to those whose goal it is to distract us with sensationalism and misdirection. The substantive backbone of our skeleton is crumbling exponentially. This is to say that “We do a lot of churning here, but don’t produce a lot of butter.” When telling people in Burlington we were going to the RNC, many of them exclaimed “Good for you!” or “Wow I wish I could do that!” Are you kidding me? Traveling to such events is the equivalent of paying attention to politics once every four years (Ring a bell?). Marches on St. Paul or DC or the WTO are not the events/actions that make change. Rather it is the incremental, methodical, unemotional, fact-based bombardment of public officials that makes change. Acute events are sensationalized and more often than not misinterpreted by the media, while chronic questioning and discourse change the argument’s trajectory. Most of the bravado and academic dialogue takes place in front of or within the sociopolitical “choir” as it were. What happened to sending letters, calling, emailing your policy makers here in Burlington and in DC? This brings me to the title of this piece and my assertion that this region’s citizens spend 25 minutes each day pursuing their activist side. It seems that many of us spend far more time then this advocating for the Moran Plant resolution in March and the idea that we should convert it to an ice-climbing wall (A What?). I was left scratching my head that in the tight economic times we are in, all that this city needs specifically in the north end (Old Not New mind you!), and what the influence of such a retrofit would be to our CO2 footprint…Why? This town and state needs the same type of zeal relative to things like mandatory composting, bottled water bans, conversion of city fleets to vegetable oil, engaging the agronomic sector, home-fueling, etc…..Not fulfilling the fantasies of a couple of die-hard ice climbers. Pragmatic and considerate of the entire community this idea was not.
25 minutes is not much! It is the amount of time we spend surfing ridiculous websites or gabbing about the latest gossip in this and other publications. The former could include the aforementioned elected official contacts or otherwise abhorrent or mundane acts such as not walking by plastic and cans but rather picking them up and placing them in recycling bins, or simply paying attention! I also happen to know that with just a couple minutes a day set aside for investigation of issues and policy we would influence both, as it stands now we are wallowing in the reputation established a long time ago. Never let regional pride haze objectivity and discourse! It is time that we stop viewing geopolitical and environmental concerns as a buzz kill, stop patting each other on the back for tokenism or even a modicum of interest in the machine that is the US government, and start holding officials from the bottom on up accountable for their actions…..CONSTANTLY! Apathy is not becoming of our elected officials and is even less so on us the electorate. 25 Minutes a day would keep the apathy away and allow us all to sleep better at night sans alcohol or pharmaceuticals! If all this didn’t scare you into action I would just note in conclusion that those opposed to abortion, evolution in classrooms, civil liberties, GLBT rights, etc. spend 2 or 3 times this on their opposition and getting policy shaped to their liking. We’re not where we are right now because the right is more powerful, we’re where we are because they truly care about the path, albeit misguided, that this country is on. Don’t blame them folks!