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The Morning Grumpy – 5/15/12

15 May

All the news, views, and filtered excellence that’s fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

Why has your grumpy been less regular than usual? I work. A lot. I also travel and spend more time behind the wheel than a trucker with a meth addiction. Cut me some slack.

1. How about some good, old-fashioned leftism to start off your Tuesday, eh? No, not some faux, Alan Colmes style leftism, I mean some honest-to-spaghetti monster dirty hippie leftism. America is again a collection of colonies, only this time, we are subservient to the corporation, by Chris Hedges.

We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense. The mechanisms of control are familiar to those whom the Martinique-born French psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth,” including African-Americans. The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent.

Happy Tuesday!

2. A long, but absolutely essential read about the Roberts Court and Citizens United, by Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker.

Citizens United is a distinctive product of the Roberts Court. The decision followed a lengthy and bitter behind-the-scenes struggle among the Justices that produced both secret unpublished opinions and a rare reargument of a case. The case, too, reflects the aggressive conservative judicial activism of the Roberts Court. It was once liberals who were associated with using the courts to overturn the work of the democratically elected branches of government, but the current Court has matched contempt for Congress with a disdain for many of the Court’s own precedents. When the Court announced its final ruling on Citizens United, on January 21, 2010, the vote was five to four and the majority opinion was written by Anthony Kennedy. Above all, though, the result represented a triumph for Chief Justice Roberts. Even without writing the opinion, Roberts, more than anyone, shaped what the Court did. As American politics assumes its new form in the post-Citizens United era, the credit or the blame goes mostly to him.

An incredible look at conservative judicial activism.

3. As a means to generate buzz, Newsweek writes that Barack Obama is our first “Gay President“. While the point is a figurative one, it is still completely incorrect. America has already had an actual gay President.

There can be no doubt that James Buchanan was gay, before, during and after his four years in the White House. Moreover, the nation knew it, too — he was not far into the closet.

You guessed that it was Nixon, didn’t you?

4. In the Huffington Post, Aaron Bartley of PUSH Buffalo argues that local, community-based efforts to green our cities are the best way to combat corporate-controlled federal energy policy.

The energy industry straitjacket impedes the adoption of national policies that have fostered growth in solar, wind, biomass and geothermal systems in much of the industrialized world.

While the oil and gas lobby dominates at the federal level, communities across the United States are making great strides in gaining control of energy production by advancing an impressive range of commercial-scale renewable projects that are heating homes and powering local businesses from Massachusetts to Oregon. Municipal utilities, community-based co-ops, universities and other nonprofit institutions in both rural and urban settings are executing wind, solar, geothermal and biomass developments.

When combined with the innovative grassroots efforts to retrofit existing buildings for conservation purposes, these renewable energy production programs are placing community-led efforts at the forefront of American innovation.

Change comes from the grassroots.

5. Six things to know before you ever accept another software, website, or application privacy policy.

You know you’re supposed to, but if you’re like most people, you probably have never read the user agreement, privacy policy or service terms when signing up for an online service, including a social network. And why would you? As we reported last week, the documents are dense (Facebook‘s took, on average, 2.5 hours to read, according to researchers), and people have remarkably low comprehension levels when asked questions immediately following their perusal.

“A (privacy policy) is essentially a communications tool for lawyer-to-lawyer communication if an issue arises, not a ‘communication tool’ to allow users to easily be aware of their rights.”

Don’t think of it as reading the document: Instead, interview the document. Look for the answers to the specific questions listed (in the article).

Be mindful of what you give away and know your rights.

Fact Of The Day: Thomas Edison was a fucking douche. Tesla was a genius.  Do this geek a favor and share this. Everywhere.

Laugh Of The Day: “Saddest Handjob In America” – Louis C.K.

Video Of The Day: “The Rant” – Joel Murray takes his place in film monologue history with a takedown of American culture in “God Bless America“. Incredible.

Song Of The Day: “I Can’t Turn You Loose” – Otis Redding with Duck Dunn on bass

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com