Of the four openly gay members of Congress, the two longest-serving stalwarts are vacating their seats. Instead of fretting, their activist admirers are excited about a record number of gays vying to win seats in the next Congress — and to make history in the process.When the oaths of office are taken in January, Congress could have its first openly gay Asian-American, Mark Takano of California; its first openly, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona; and its first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
Last week, while I was participating in a conference, I received an email from Google with a puzzling subject line: “Subpoena Notice from Google (Internal Ref. No. 257121).” I opened the email, assuming that it was some kind of sophisticated phishing attempt. It wasn’t. It was Google informing me — more than a little cryptically — that Chevron had subpoenaed my account information and that it intended to comply unless I filed a motion to quash. [...]
My first reaction was shock. As regular readers know, I have often criticized Chevron’s actions in Ecuador. But I could not imagine why Chevron was subpoenaing my private information; the sum total of my interaction with Steven Donziger, the Ecuadorian plaintiffs’ lead attorney and the defendant in Chevron’s lawsuit, consisted of two emails, neither of which contained anything substantive. What did Chevron think I had that would help them? Or were they simply trying to intimidate me?
From the days of high tariffs and giant land grants to the railroads, business and government have always been tightly intertwined in this country. But, in recent decades, what you could call the corporate welfare state has become bigger. Energy companies lease almost forty million acres of onshore land in the U.S. and more than forty million offshore, and keep the lion’s share of the profits from the oil and natural gas that they pump out. In theory, this is O.K., because we get paid for the leases and we get royalties on what they sell, but in practice it often works differently. In 1996, for instance, the government temporarily lowered royalties on oil pumped in the Gulf of Mexico as a way of encouraging more drilling at a time of low oil prices. But this royalty relief wasn’t rescinded when oil prices started to rise, which gave the oil companies a windfall of billions of dollars. Something similar happened in the telecom industry in the late nineties, when the government, in order to encourage the transition to high-def TV, simply gave local broadcasters swathes of the digital spectrum worth tens of billions of dollars. In the mining industry, meanwhile, thanks to a law that was passed in 1872 and never rewritten, companies can lease federal land for a mere five dollars an acre, and then keep all the gold, silver, or uranium they find; we, the people, get no royalty payments at all. Metal prices have soared in the last decade, but the only beneficiaries have been the mine owners.
Today’s pre-debate Kagro in the Morning show features Greg Dworkin’s polling segment, calls from Tomtech on his low-cost, grassroots ad campaigns in Texas, and OllieGarkey on the dangers and nuances of mixing politics and religion. Then, we peeked in on the wingnuts frolicking in fantasy land, claiming “abortions” are frequently performed on women who aren’t even pregnant, and that already-circulated 2007 video of then-Senator Barack Obama saying non-controversial stuff is somehow, suddenly, the worstest thing ever.