Villaraigosa Fracks Up?

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former Vice President Al Gore, and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune gathered at the LA Department of Water and Power to announce that the city would be coal-free by 2025. Apparently it’s an urgent matter. This “press conference” was part of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal initiative, which aims to replace coal with clean energy sources nationwide.  I say “press conference” in quotations because of all the press present– and there was plenty– I was the only journalist to ask a question.

Beyond Coal

The city derives 40% of its energy from two out-of-state power plants in Arizona and Utah. During his speech, Villaraigosa said that energy would be replaced with wind, solar, and natural gas. I wanted to know if the city planned to obtain that natural gas through fracking. This controversial method of extracting oil and natural gas from deep in the ground with pressurized water and many carcinogenic chemicals is already happening in LA communities like Baldwin Hills and Culver City. It’s not exactly a clean energy replacement.

Villaraigosa, astoundingly, said no. I followed up with him afterwards to get confirmation of his statement, which he re-affirmed, though qualified with “at that site, no,” referring to the Utah coal plant that will be transitioned to natural gas. Shortly thereafter, I was approached by Mayor Villaraigosa’s press secretary, who offered to have him do a follow-up to clarify his remarks. Stay tuned for updates… Watch the video below for my question and interview…

Advertisements

The Gipper for Gun Reform

I spent much of CPAC 2013 chasing around David Keene, president of the NRA, for an interview… to ask one question… “If 91% of the American public supports background checks why can’t you?”  Needless to say, I didn’t get that chance. He did graciously agree to a picture at the Ronald Reagan banquet, though. Despite her refusal to do an interview, Keene’s wife, Donna, was a lovely conversationalist.

The bottom line here is that Reagan himself was both an NRA member and a supporter of the Brady Bill, which called for federal background checks and mandatory waiting periods. He wrote an op-ed in the New York Times stating so. Why as a conservative would he do such a thing? Because he was the victim of an assassination attempt in 1981 by a mentally ill man, John Hinckley, Jr., and he fully understood the responsibility and consequences of our right to bear arms. I’m not advocating banning guns in any way whatsoever. What I am advocating is requiring every purchaser of a gun to submit to a background check. Is that really such an absurd idea? Watch the video below for the full story…

Gunning for the NRA

GipperForGunReform

 

Barack in Blunderland: The Carrollian Surveillance State

Yesterday, Senator Rand Paul filibustered President Barack Obama’s nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA. Sounds like a normal day in the Senate, right? Wrong. Paul brought back the old-school ‘talking filibuster’ and spoke for nearly thirteen hours to protest the Obama administration’s controversial use of drones in targeted killings. You see, the junior senator from Kentucky sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting clarification on the use of drones in targeted attacks against American non-combatants, and received an ambiguous reply that did not expressly rule out that option.

This sounds like something out of George Orwell’s 1984, but it’s a clear continuation of the Bush-era Patriot Act and the abrogation of civil liberties by our Constitutional lawyer-cum-president. Senator Paul himself invoked Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to characterize the administration’s stance:

They say Lewis Carroll is fiction. Alice never fell down a rabbit hole and the White Queen’s caustic judgments are not really a threat to your security. Or has America the Beautiful become Alice’s Wonderland? …

‘No, no,’ said the queen. ‘Sentence first; Verdict afterwards.’

‘Stuff and nonsense,’ Alice said widely — loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first?’

‘Hold your tongue,’ said the queen, turning purple.

‘I won’t,’ said Alice.

‘Release the drones,’ said the queen, as she shouted at the top of her voice.

During the filibuster, Paul was joined by twelve Republicans and 1 Democrat. This is a disgrace. Why wasn’t there more support for our Constitutional rights from senators from BOTH sides of the aisle? Civil liberties should be non-partisan issues. The erosion of rights to privacy, probable cause, due process, and trial by jury did not begin with President Obama, but he has done little to abate it. The president re-authorized the “roving wiretaps,” warrantless wiretapping, and e-mail monitoring of terrorism suspects under both the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Most significantly, his National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 entitles the U.S. government to indefinitely detain American citizens without warrant or charge. Issuing a signing statement saying you have this power but won’t use it doesn’t make you a civil rights warrior… It makes you a coward.

Both Eric Holder and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today that President Obama does not have the authority to order drone strikes against Americans on American soil. This assertion is cold comfort in the increasingly Orwellian, or perhaps Carrollian, surveillance state in which we now live. Have we fallen down the rabbit hole when it comes to Big Brother? Who will lead the charge in reclaiming our Constitutional rights? Be a patriot, and #StandWithRand.

Blunderland

U Can’t Cut This

 

Rapper 50 Billion of The Billionaires is joined by several of The Young Turks in this satirical music video parody I wrote and produced. “U Can’t Cut This” is an ode to the notorious sequester, a product of our utterly corrupt American political system. Both parties are to blame. The Republican stance that the defense budget must not be cut is hypocritical considering their core belief in cutting both deficits AND taxes. The Democrats are not much better with respect to military spending– Obama has expanded the use of drones; failed to close Guantanamo; and continues American participation in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere. According to The Washington Post, we spent $718 billion on defense in 2011, an amount greater than the military expenditures of the next 13 countries combined. Our defense budget is clearly bloated, and yet Republicans would like to not only NOT cut defense, but spend more.

Many thanks to all involved for making this project happen on such short notice…

Background dancers: Ana Kasparian, Kim Horcher, Lauren Windsor, Jayar Jackson, David Koller, and Tim Frisch.
Produced and written by Lauren Windsor, host of The Undercurrent on TYT Network.
Directed and shot by Tim Collins.

Lyrics…

You can’t cut this.
You can’t cut this. (oh-oh oh oh oh oh-oh) (x2)

The-the-the se-quester will hit us so hard,
makes me pray to my Lord.
No thank you for blaming the GOP
in the media and on the street.
It feels good when you’re wearin’ the crown.
You’re a superhyped Commie straight from the Chi-town,
and you’re known as such.
Defense is a budget you can’t cut.

I told you, Obama, you can’t cut this.
That’s how the GOP’s rollin’ and you know
you can’t cut this.
Despite all our debt, man, you can’t cut this.
Let me bust your funny math.
You can’t cut this.

Same old game and rants.
You wanna raise taxes, there’s really no chance,
so move that out of your mind.
Stop being naïve and fall in line.
Republicans, hold strong.
Say no to revenues,
prove Obama he’s wrong.
He’s whack, he’s whack.
He’s on a mission to pull the army back.
Military cuts are too much.
Defense is a budget you can’t touch.

Man, I told you, you can’t cut this.
Why you standing there, Obama? You can’t cut this.
Sound the alarm, Republicans will filibuster.
You can’t cut this.

Something is wrong with the system.
Makin’ ’em dependent is what your givin’ ’em.
Now, when you talk about Medicare,
you talk about a government that’s big and broken.
Seniors die– I’m not jokin’.
Democrats–you gotta learn,
we don’t compromise…
Man, you’ll always get burned.
Your birthplace, it ain’t legit.
We know you’re from Kenya,
so you might as well quit.

You can’t cut this. (oh-oh oh oh-oh-oh) (x2)
Shake him down.
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh oh-oh) (x4)
Stop! Sequester time…