The Media Fails To Report Why Toledo’s Water Is Contaminated

Would You Drink This?
Would You Drink This?

The water is finally safe to drink, says the mayor of Toledo, Ohio, although some skepticism still remains.  “Residents of Toledo, its suburbs and small areas of southeastern Michigan began lining up for water Saturday after news of the contamination surfaced,”reported USA Today.  Most media outlets have failed to mention what caused the exuberant toxic, algal blooms. They are reporting the effect, not the cause.

This is not merely a result of Mother Nature randomly throwing a fit and creating a mess of Cyanobacterial blooms.  The amount of phosphorus going into the lake has risen every year since the mid-1990s, and toxic algal blooms will increase as more toxic runoff from fertilizer changes the ecosystem.  Unless the runoff from big farming is curtailed, this problem will continue to grow.  Imagine if an area as large as Chicago or NYC suffers from contamination like this Lake Erie mess. The NOAA Great Lakes Center For Excellence says, 

The increased presence of nutrients such as phosphorous is largely due to poor farming practices such as high use of fertilizers and presence of livestock near water supplies, as well as effluent and run-off from towns and cities near waterways…Pesticides and other chemicals may affect the natural grazers which would otherwise control algal growth and their presence increases the risk of blooms.

The view from above: Algae Blooms Gone Wild
The view from above: Algae Blooms Gone Wild

Naturally, Republicans will ignore the harsh reality that the lack of regulations on disposal of waste from industrialized farming caused the crisis.  They will deny that climate change could also be bringing more intense spring rains, which would wash more agricultural runoff into Lake Erie.  Remember the West Virginia crisis? Somehow, Speaker Boehner blamed President Obama for not enforcing those pesky EPA regulations. In 2012, the St. Louis Beacon touched on the reality of the EPA vs. the GOP:

The GOP-controlled U.S. House – in particular, the Energy and Commerce Committee – has taken aim at EPA regulations. In the first year after Republicans gained a House majority in 2010, about 160 votes were held against various environmental protections, including more than 80 votes on amendments or bills targeting the EPA.

True, environmental groups and water researchers have urged community leaders to cut down on the amount of fertilizer runoff into the shallowest of the Great Lakes.  But legislators in these Republican-controlled states have stopped short of mandating the restrictions leveled upon farmers.  As per usual, they know they are turning a blind eye to man-made pollution but will happily tell you it’s Mother Nature just acting crazy.  These folks push the fallacy that it’s impossible for man to destroy our planet.  What do you expect from idiotic evolution deniers?

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Thank To Uncle Rupey, Two Continents Are Denying Climate Change

Australia and the U.S. have a common enemy.
Australia and the U.S. have a common enemy.

I thought America was way behind the times on the science of climate change, given the positions of so many anti-science, anti-evidence Republicans who populate our House of Representatives. Our northern neighbor, Canada, is surprisingly anti-environmentalist, considering they are socially more progressive than the U.S. with their single payer healthcare.  Canadian PM Harper, who is as committed to proliferating the production of dirty Alberta tar sands oil as (America’s fossil fuel sweet-hearts) Charles and David Koch; stands in unison with the ultra-conservative Australian PM, Tony Abbott.  Salon reported,  “President Obama has stayed far from these two other world leaders when it comes to climate policy. He is pursuing a number of avenues to reduce the United States’ emissions with his National Climate Plan, including the recent announcement of the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to substantially reduce emissions from power plants.”  

Abbott Fiddles While Australia Burns
Abbott Fiddles While Australia Burns

I was both relieved and troubled to know Australia out-devolved the United States and completely abolished the carbon tax yesterday. The Australian media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, a big player in the denial 0f climate change, is a strong supporter of Heritage Foundation policies and Australia’s move to abolish all progress in the area of renewable energy. Australia was once a leader on climate action. This cabal of the anti-conservationist movement,  formed by the unlikely triumvirate of Murdoch, Grover Norquist and PM Abbott has  dealt a lethal blow to the future prevention of climate change disasters.  This denial movement has shaped legislation on two continents, both very susceptible to the rising sea levels that are imminent with our current carbon emissions. Curiously, yesterday was also the day Mr. Murdoch publically offered to buy Time Warner Cable, which includes the very cash lucrative HBO, for $80 billion.  Currently that bid has been rejected, but he is determined to find a price that will be acceptable for the massive merger.  With control of the media on two continents, unfettered pollution will only become a bigger problem with the media devoting little to no attention to the crisis of man-made climate change.

Arbitrary Borders And Climate Change Created The ISIS Crisis in Iraq

The latest crisis in Iraq is, surprisingly, not just the result of the failure of the Bush Administration’s Shock and Awe campaign followed by the bloody occupation from 2003-2011.  After we literally decimated a nation that was once perilously, but somewhat effectively maintained by a brutal dictator named Saddam Hussein, we tried to keep the arbitrary borders drawn by the Sykes Picot Agreement in 1916.   In 2006, then Senator Joseph Biden (D-De) suggested a model based on the three state solution of Kurds, Arab Shi’ites and Arab Sunnis with a central command in Baghdad. In retrospect, this may have alleviated the current crisis where the new terrorists on the scene, ISIS, (the Salafist–Jihadist Al Qaeda terrorist army, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham [aka Syria]) is creating chaos and mass slaughter in the name of Sunni Fundamentalism.  Exploitation of the region’s oil originally brought us to this area which the West (France and the U.K. mainly) created the awful conundrum of drawing arbitrary borders that failed to address the geographical rifts  in the sects of Islam. 

Borders Drawn By Sykes Picot in 1916 Were Far From Perfect
Borders Drawn By Sykes Picot in 1916 Were Far From Perfect

 

Thomas FriedmanNew York Times Columnist, has extensively researched the 2006-2010 drought exacerbated by global warming which has ripened the region of Syria and Iraq for brutal war. Mass migration from bone-dry areas combined with sectarian conflicts only worsen the centuries-old rift between the two sects of Islam.  With the help of powerful neighbors like Iran and Saudi Arabia, this has become an epic sectarian war with no quick and easy solution.

Prior to our arrival, Al Qaeda was not really an issue in Iraq.  Our occupation did invite the group’s presence as they escalated the violence against our troops.  For the most part, we were able to defeat Al Qaeda in that nation, but upon our departure in 2011 (signed by President Bush in the Status of Forces agreement in 2008), Iraq fell back into the same sectarian violence Saddam Hussein managed to curtail in a cruel but effective way.  With poor leadership, the ISIS Group which includes war-torn Syria, has managed to operate with a brutality far worse than Al Qaeda.

The Brutal ISIS Group
The Brutal ISIS Group

This entire catastrophe may have been averted if:
1. We didn’t kowtow to the profit-seeking defense contractor industry
2. We understood the cultural and religious differences of the region
3. America acted appropriately based on evidence that was not falsified to involve us in this interminable crisis.  

President Obama is in a no-win situation in this volatile region.  We must never forget what put us there in the first place and vow, as a country, to keep irresponsible liars out of the White House. We can’t accomplish this if Americans don’t get out the vote en masse in the November 2014 midterms.

America: Where The NRA Is More Respected Than The NOAA

Americans still doubt global warming is occurring, which isn’t surprising, as far too many Americans believe the earth is only 6,000 years old.  Even though 97 percent of experts agree climate change is happening and we humans are causing it, Americans remain under the impression that the question is still unsettled?  These numbers suggest that disinformation circulated by the fossil fuel industry, utility companies and their political/media allies has successfully CONFUSED the public about the truth of global warming.  Spreading the perception that scientists are still undecided is the key to their strategy.   When the government adopts a policy of deception and disinformation about settled science, we have a problem that cannot be solved.

Since 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded for the contiguous United States, and subsequently a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, catastrophic events such as the massive fatal mudslide in Washington State will be the norm.  Officials claimed, following the Stillaguamish river valley catastrophe, the event was a total surprise.  In reality, scientists have warned of the ill-effects of excessive logging  which can result in immeasurable damage due to slides for sixty years.   The United States, as well as the rest of the world, will be forever changed by rising sea levels due to accelerated melting of the ice caps and the disappearance of permafrost in the polar regions. The view of North America is absolutely chilling, as this is the predicted model by the end of this century.  Most coastal cities and entire states (Florida) are literally under water. Most forecast models are rendered obsolete when the acceleration of CO2 (in parts per million) levels exceed the predictions every year.  Man-made catastrophic weather-related incidents are far different than “acts of god” like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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America’s coastline is very different in the future. Looks like Florida has no ground to stand on.

As a means of distraction from the dangers we face, the Right wages an imaginary war against a “tyrannical president” who’s trying to take away your guns. By obsessing over an issue close to the hearts of TeaPartiers, the conservative-owned media engages in mass distraction from real threats like rising tides, flammable tap water and deforestation.  There is pathetically scant regulation of the guns, where often no ID is needed to purchase firearms. The gun-rights advocates campaign against firearm registries across the U.S. which makes it very easy to procure instruments designed to kill. Unfortunately, the death-profiteers of the NRA are held in higher esteem than the scientists (accurately predicting rising ocean levels) according to the way our elected officials legislate.

The nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy was rejected purely on his stance on gun safety.  The NRA said Murthy’s “blatant activism on behalf of gun control” attracted their attention.  Apparently, calling out the dangers of gun ownership is too controversial for a society that is rendering the very planet our children will inherit uninhabitable?  Gun violence, including suicide, kills some 30,000 Americans every year, about the same number as car accidents. Cars are highly regulated for health and safety; guns, barely. So anyone who acknowledges reality and FACTS is shunned by the conservative led majority of the House because we can’t face the reality that the proliferation of guns has awful consequences.  Isn’t it ironic the same group that tries to conceal factual evidence and data from climatologists and the NOAA are the very same people who bury their heads in the sand over the regulation of guns?

Lacking the free flow of veracious information, a democracy and the government’s accountability become impossible. Willfully misleading the public on man-made climate change has been funded by dark money entities. Siding with an insidiously evil, profit-driven industry like the NRA is a perfect accompaniment to those who have made a career out of deceiving the American people in the name of selfish greed.

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The staggering statistics showing the gun-murder problem in the United States

The United States is an anomaly in the developed world. Not only are we preoccupied with gun ownership, but sadly, roughly fifty percent of our elected officials mandate the deception of our own children by teaching them biblical fiction as science. As expected, these are the same people who refuse to regulate the rampant pollution by their corporate sponsors while allowing access to guns by those very same children. It is safe to say the catastrophic destruction caused by climate change will not be alleviated by more guns.  Even without the potential catastrophe of climate change, anyone who thinks their arsenal of guns can match the power of our military is pretty darned delusional.

Our only hope for a sane government focused on the big picture, is by electing more Democrats to every office possible, starting with local political elections. Giving power to the party of the people is the only way to prevent the corporate destruction that is assured if Republicans continue to govern. Malevolent misanthropes should not be in charge of governing people. People who like government and believe in it should be the ones elected to office. Please urge as many people you can to vote in these midterm elections this year. Our lives depend on it.

The current 3rd Congressional District of Nevada, Rep. Joe Heck (@RepJoeHeck on twitter), cares absolutely nothing for the environment, job creation, relief for the poverty-stricken and education for his constituents.  This is why I am supporting Erin Bilbray for my House Representative.  Not only has she been a champion on women’s health, pediatric health and job creation, but she has actually worked for the NOAA, so she is extremely devoted to utilizing the massive solar and wind energy sources of the Southwestern United States.  I urge my fellow Nevadans to get out this fall and vote for a candidate who understands solar power is much more important than the power wielded by the NRA.

High Voltage Fun: A Year Cruising with the Volt

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My Chevy Volt, the cute little electric vehicle with a gas engine (for those longer treks) has reached its first birthday. I traded in my gas-guzzling import for this domestic diva last October.

Factoring in a fuel average of $4.00 per gallon, my maintenance cost has been $160 in fuel and $120 in electric costs. The tax credit I received in my 2012 return puts me comfortably in the black for my first year of Volt ownership. I simply plug it in whenever it’s parked in my garage with the standard 120V charger that came standard with the vehicle.

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Generally, one charge provides roughly forty miles of driving. However, I’ve learned to be a better driver and often get more than the forty miles per charge. By maintaining the green energy ball (in the right side of the display) at a centered locale, the driver can maximize the efficiency of the Volt. The torque of the electric power is very impressive and I have no trouble easily merging onto any road.

Since purchasing my Volt, my sister also decided to enter the world of EVs. She drives a Volt as well, trading in her Prius six months ago. She has spent a total of $26.00 in gas since she bought her Volt and is very satisfied with her car. On the downside, we both agree the trunk could be a little more conducive to comfortably placing heavy items. Other than that, it is simply a wonderful car.

I drove my Volt to California once, and the trip accounted for about half the total fuel I’ve used. I simply don’t need to closely watch fuel prices as I only get gas about 3 times per year. It’s always fun to go to convenience stores, and drive past the pumps, going inside for a drink. My five year old plugs the car in sometimes and often asks, “you don’t need gas, mommy?” I tell him this (electric plug) is our gas and someday we may not need the dirty fuel which has caused far too many wars. Hopefully this will be a reality. I do know one thing for certain; I’d never go back to a gas only car. Never.

Dividing the Progressive Movement by Standing With Rand Paul Insanity

Drones were devised for the purpose of conducting strikes and surveillance over territories deemed too perilous for our own pilots. Unpleasant as it may be to imagine, we have many enemies, through much fault of our own, who wish to harm Americans worldwide. Since their invention, the American military has utilized drone technology in countries like Yemen and Pakistan because the countries are a safe-haven for terrorist activities and they’re very remote. Manned military strikes are exceptionally treacherous. The mere existence of drones is simply for the purpose of launching these offensives in areas that are foreign, so by design, they’re not for domestic use. Perhaps on rare occasion, if a foreign combatant threatened the U.S. and there was no other way (which is quite outlandish) a president could use any means necessary to protect our citizens. However, it never was an issue which an economically hampered America should concern itself with, especially in light of all the other threats which endanger Americans, like teachers in South Dakota legally allowed to carry firearms while instructing children. This is a smokescreen, nothing more, and it is embarrassing progressives fall for such nonsense.

A Kentucky Republican launched a filibuster for what he considers a noble Libertarian cause, emphatically asserting domestic drone strikes should be illegal because they violate due process in a land founded on Constitutional principles. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky/Teaparty) droned on for almost 13 hours over this pressing issue. Paul filibustered the Senate, in protest of ANOTHER Obama cabinet appointment for simple self-aggrandizement and shameless political posturing. He received the following letter a few hours hence from our Attorney General, Eric Holder:

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HuffPo-Rand-Paul-Filibuster-Drone-Stand
Courtesy of The Huffington Post

The incessant references to Hitler, the mentions of tyranny, liberty and freedom were numerous and based in fantasy and paranoia, as per usual with this Teaparty caucus. Paul also managed to defend awful Supreme Court decisions which were blatantly racist and abhorrent. Nevertheless, he was lauded by progressives who agreed with Senator Paul’s “brave” filibuster, including Van Jones. Much to my dismay, this man aired his pro-Paul sentiments on “CNN Newsroom,” and called the senator “a hero” for “sticking up for civil liberties.” Similar praise erupted from Senator Ron Wyden (D-Or) and Code Pink. On Friday March 8th, Arianna Huffington appeared as a panelist on Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO and said: “I want to defend Rand Paul…I think what Rand Paul did was fantastic…What he did was incredibly important. First of all, it completely scrambled that right-left way of looking at politics.” She critiqued Democrats (aside from GOP ally Wyden of course) for not taking a similar stand. Really Arianna? Domestic drone use is a pressing concern? More pressing than another fiscal cliff, environmental insanity and gun violence? Sorry, ma’am, you’re costing us time and money for contrived threats which benefit the GOP by allowing them to divide Democrats and skirt the real issues. President Obama has never once threatened ANYONE domestically with these highly technical killing machines and he has no intention of doing so.

Naturally, the Right Wing couldn’t thank Paul enough for his obstructionism. Fox’s favorite immigrant-loathing “Anchor Baby” Michelle Malkin heaps praise on Rand Paul for singlehandedly saving the Republican Party.

 

Ironically, immediately following Holder’s letter, which negated his entire thirteen hour charade, Mr. Paul fell in line and confirmed the new CIA director at once. After the dramatic episode concluded, we learned that the whole charade was staged for the purpose of showboating and fundraising. Obviously Rand is unconcerned with the threats to American citizens and real civil liberties as he feels it is more important to allow manufacturers of lethal weapons to sell their products unchecked to a nation incited to violence by none other than the racist agenda he promotes.

The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates over 1200 anti government patriot groups in existence today, where the anti-Civil Rights Act agenda of Mr. Paul along with others like Teabagger Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) operate in perfect symbiosis. Not only is he opposed to the 1965 law which is THE cornerstone of anti-racism legislation in America, but he opposed VAWA, denies abortion as a right and believes Biblical Law should replace the U.S. Constitution. He believes in low taxes for the rich and wouldn’t hesitate to cut funding for the poor woman he forced to birth a baby (after he defunds all women’s care facilities), because this is what Jesus would do. Maybe I forgot how Rand Paul sees Jesus: A White, Southern, GOP, and male chauvinist Jesus, not that Aramaic Semite from the Middle East who preached tolerance, humility and poverty.

Heaven forbid the first black president, or any president, chooses to use a weaponized drone on a person or group threatening the safety of the United States from within. We have an audaciously well-armed police force, FBI, ATF, CIA and four branches of the world’s largest military to defend our citizens. If at any time, a president chooses the drone option for domestic use, we are in so much trouble, I think Rand Paul’s freedom (to wear any animal on his head) is the last thing we need to worry about. Things are about to get real. I’m sure his outlandish soliloquy gave President Obama plenty of time to contemplate a domestic drone-strike option. He is far more tolerant than I would have been, as he dispensed with Senator Paul’s histrionics with a simple NO. Progressives and supporters of Democratic principles should have done the same thing. History will not be kind to the Rand Paul grandstanders of these tough times. This should be the last we hear of this nonsense, but I’m sure it will drone on ad nauseum.

Watching the Demise of the Republican Party

I must admit I am thoroughly enjoying the macabre demise of a once powerful political party, the GOP. Their implosion truly began with Saint Reagan’s Voodoo Economics debacle and has hit the party’s nadir with the tantrum-throwing triumvirate of the Senate (Graham, McCain and Ayotte and the Benghazi “Scandal”). It’s been a long time coming and I’m glad to welcome the GOP Apocalypse with open arms. These masters of mendacity have been perpetrating an apocryphal fraud on the American people and it’s taken roughly thirty years for the majority of our electorate to come to this epiphany. The major causes of this impending doom are their adherence to deleterious tax policies, The TeaParty’s influence, voter suppression and religious fundamentalists hijacking the party.

Most notably, the stranglehold of the self-appointed anti-tax czar Grover Norquist seems to be loosening as he seems to be in the throes of desperation. Even long time GOP Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wy) jokes about drowning Norquist and his “pledge” in a bathtub. Good Ole Grover knows he is becoming irrelevant and will threaten pledge-signing Republicans with the fate of Bush 41 if they defy this self-proclaimed tax god who has only hurt our economy with his policies. Teaparty crazies like Joe Walsh and Allen West and their anti-tax zealotry were soundly defeated. In fact, the Teaparty is considered one of the least popular groups in America ranking slightly ahead of Atheists and Muslims.

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, never elected to a single office

Teaparty Express leader Amy Kremer believes the reason for the defeat was not the extremist wing of the GOP, but the absence of true conservatism in the candidates. She recently admitted Republicans like Senators Chambliss and Graham are going to be put through a Republican primary fight in 2014 if they don’t uphold the Norquist Pledge. Teabaggers in the House, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan to name a few, will not raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and would rather see us suffer a crushing economic blow like they caused last summer when our credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history.

Following the 2012 General Election when President Obama won reelection with a comfortable Electoral College margin (332-206), a few Republican officials openly admitted the reason for their massive voter suppression campaigns was not to prevent voter fraud, but to make sure it was harder for minorities to vote. Fortunately, Democrats in key swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania were aware of this discrimination campaign and were able to put a halt to their efforts.

Another group to whom they have little influence are those who are not self-proclaimed members of any organized religion. Atheists, Agnostics and “Nones” make up almost 20% of our population, up from around a 6% representation in 1990. Issues like repealing DADT and legalizing gay marriage are supported by many younger voters, both Democrats and Republicans, so the GOP’s outdated stance on these issues is very quickly losing popularity. If birth control, DOMA and abortion are going to comprise their religiously-motivated agenda, 2014 could see a Democratic House once again.

During this holiday season, I am most thankful logic and reason prevailed over “legitimate rape” and personhood in a year the Mayans and Fundamentalists have decided is the End of the World. In other words, Michelle Bachmann’s brand of batshit didn’t sell and probably won’t for a long time. I believe Thomas Ricks said it best in this very abruptly ended interview on Fox News that the Newscorp network is a wing of the Republican propaganda machine. This machine is becoming outdated and obsolete and will slip into irrelevance if they continue behaving like Teabagging Toddlers. I believe the #GOP will no longer be trending in the near future.