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.
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?
We are all bombarded with calls during an election year from myriad representatives of candidates. For the most part, there is some disclosure of whom the caller is representing. A push poller is someone who interactively markets by calling voters during political campaigning. Push Polling isn’t illegal, except in New Hampshire, which requires a disclosure of which candidate they represent. Mainly it is used to plant negative ideas in voters’ heads. Bush 43 used it to discredit McCain in the 2000 primaries. True, Democrats use this as well, once causing NH Senator Ayotte to file a suit against Mountain West in 2010, where they paid a $20,000 fine for non-disclosure.
The individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of voters under the guise of conducting a poll as a non-partisan polling company. ‘Push polls’ require first fooling the listener into believing the poll is legitimate and once the listener is hooked, the pollster asks loaded questions designed to spread rumors and falsehoods about the opponent.’ I was actually on the receiving end of one of their polling calls from the Mountain West Research Polling group, and it was definitely a new experience.
Innocuously it began with rate your level of support questions for Patricia Farley (R) (always named first) or Marilyn Dondero Loop (D). The pollster, who did identify himself as a Mountain West Research Independent, (after I had to ask several times), soldiered on as I allowed this twenty-three minute call to continue. I was not interested in the District 8 state senate race until the caller phrased a few questions like:
You know that Obamacare is bankrupting Nevada. How important is repealing the ACA to you? (10 for most, 1 for least).
The “Margin Tax” (a tax designed to fund education by business netting over $1,000,000 annually) will force companies to pay job-killing taxes that will cause lay offs. Do you oppose this tax that will fund education on the backs of Nevada’s job-creators?
I said, ‘you sure are asking questions in a manner I find both misleading and offensive. I don’t recall the specific wording, but this next one knocked me over. ‘Do you fear your Second Amendment Rights are threatened?’ (10-very important down to 1-not at all important), and I replied, ‘whoa, this is nuts. Guns have no rights. People do. Please don’t insult my intelligence.’ The call was finally over after a few standard pleasantries.
The only statistic I needed to know about this newly intriguing race was each candidate’s NRA rating. Marilyn Dondero Loop has a 21 rating by the NRA while GOP candidate Farley is rated at 86. That’s all I needed to make my decision to support, wholeheartedly, my Democratic Candidate, DonderoLoopNV. I predict many more persistent NV-GOP push pollers ringing my house incessantly until November.
There seems to be a pattern with the current Supreme Court. It is widely known it is 5-4 Conservative, but the third branch of government was designed to be non-partisan and rule objectively on cases where the Constitution is in question. To balance out the obviously partisan big decisions, the lesser of two evils in minor cases is decided in favor of a liberal cause or idea. For instance, Yesterday,
the court limited some of the EPA’s regulating power when it comes to stationary sources of greenhouse gasses, but preserved its regulation authority in most cases.
This week, the last of June, is traditionally when the Supreme Court hands down some of its biggest, most controversial rulings. No progressive will forget the January, 2010 decision in favor of big money controlling elections with the Citizens United Verdict. Showing its “diversity,” in June, 2012, the Roberts Court shocked the Right by deciding the ACA was constitutional based on the Commerce Clause. In June, 2013, the Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional, enraging the Religious Right once again. But this was followed by invalidating the parts of the Voting Rights Act which mandated federal supervision of elections in states who were once part of the Confederacy. In April, 2014, SCOTUS once again dealt a blow to democracy by allowing virtually unlimited campaign donations to candidates or causes with the McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission decision.
By deciding in favor of the EPA’s power to control unfettered pollution, SCOTUS sided with “liberal ideals” of keeping our air semi-breathable. But on the horizon are two potentially disastrous decisions for President Obama.
Neither appear too propitious. The first, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores & Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v. Sebeliuswill decide if under the ACA,
private businesses have the right to exercise their freedom of religion either under the Constitution or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and if so, whether the contraceptive mandate violates that religious freedom.
The next caseNational Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning pertains to Presidential Appointments: This pending verdict may be…
…a decision against President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
If history is any indicator, it seems these next two decisions will be ruled in favor of conservatives. By padding their right wing leanings with some scant victories for liberals, they try to mask the pro-fascist attitudes of the majority of the highest court in the land.
When Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a bill to substantially improve the quality of life for America’s heroes, our veterans, his intentions were to vastly enhance care and education. On February 27, 2014: A massive veterans legislative package that would have expanded a host of post-military benefits was sidelined after Senate Democratic backers failed to find enough support among their Republican colleagues. This impressive and comprehensive bill rectified so many of the ills at the Veterans Administration. I encourage everyone to glance at the bill and then ask the journalists why is this not THE REAL ISSUE?
The GOP, the self-appointed party of patriots, claimed President Obama’s West Point Commencement address was received with tepid approval. Why? Because he spoke the truth? “America’s costliest mistakes have stemmed not from restraint but from rushing to armed adventures without thinking through the consequences, without building international support and legitimacy for our action, without leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required.” Imagine if the address given by George W. Bush at that very same place in 2002 was as insightful, logical and considerate to the soldiers he stood before, many of them would not have become casualties of his poorly-planned wars.
Senator John McCain would entangle our military in dozens of wars if he had his way. Famous for being a POW, he has been voting repeatedly against his fellow veterans for years denying the needed funding for benefits. He was among the Republicans who voted against the measure. He and his fellow Arizona Republican, Senator Jeff Flake have some serious soul-searching to do after laying the blame on Secretary of the VA Shinseki and the Obama Administration.
Does anyone else see this pattern: the GOP votes against funding (embassy security and Veterans’ care) and an inevitable crisis ensues? Is everyone too distracted by these scandals to forget that Koch Industries and BP (to name a few) are given a pass to pollute while the far right science-deniers focus on Vice President Gore’s audacity to live in a nice home? Perhaps if the Chris Matthews and Chuck Todds of the MSM would stop reading from Frank Luntz’s daily manifestos, the real villains would be held to account for the problems they create.
General Eric K. Shinseki, a decorated four star general is currently in charge of a very over stressed Veterans’ Administration. He is taking all the heat for the failure of VA Hospitals around the country. I was confused why Obama’s former adviser on environmental matters and CNN pundit, Van Jones would tweet, If I were Shinseki, I would… get my resume in very good shape. Why would a Democrat bash a man mercilessly hampered by the GOP’s efforts to sabotage everything Obama attempts? Why would he buy into this charade parroted by media talking heads and surrender to the Right?
Like so many pundits, Van Jones must have forgotten recent history, a tactic of Bush apologists. Shinseki tried, mostly in vain, to encourage the Bush Administration to act responsibly. In 2003, General Shinseki warned the Bush Administration that victory in Iraq would require more troops than were being deployed for the invasion. Not only was his original assessment vindicated when President Bush announced the Surge in 2007, he warned there was a shortage of doctors and medical personnel in the VA that rendered the system incredibly ill-prepared for conflicts of that magnitude. For instance, out of 84,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by VA, only half, about 42,000, had their disability claim approved by VA.
Bush’s political appointees at the VA actively fought against mental health claims. His appointees also obstructed scientific research into the causes of Gulf War illnesses dating back 18 years to Operation Desert Storm and opposed medical research on treatment for 210,000 of those veterans. In May 2007, Bush threatened to veto legislation that sought a 10 percent—$3.2 billion—increase, calling it too expensive. Bush proposed a 2 percent increase, far below what lawmakers and VA officials said was needed to treat a huge increase in traumatic brain injury and PTSD cases. So that would certainly account for a short-staffed VA. Bush asserted he doubled the funding for the VA, but he failed to disclose the number of veterans seeking VA healthcare had doubled, from 2.7 million to 5.5 million!
When Bush broke his silence this past March, he referred to the brain injury as simply Post-Traumatic Stress, omitting “Disorder” to minimize the severity of the condition. The refusal of the medicaid expansion continues to hurt vets in Red States where spiteful GOP governors choose to deny coverage for so many in need. There are over 5,000,000 Americans who won’t get much-needed care, and roughly a quarter of a million are our war veterans. If Congress allocated enough money to the care of our veterans they created with 13 years of war, this problem would not even exist. Ignoring veterans and needy Americans in favor of the enrichment of corporations and millionaires is a tragic blemish on our history. Support the troops doesn’t mean just support the WAR. It means take care of our brave veterans for the rest of their lives, no matter what the cost. Secretary Shinseki is well-suited to fix these problems, but he needs the money to do it.
December 2, 1970 was the last time a Republican created something that benefits the greater good of society. Seriously, it’s been over forty years since any Republican has successfully enacted legislation that is based on scientific data, also known as reality. Richard M. Nixon created the EPA in 1970 which marks the last time the party behaved responsibly by utilizing data from climate scientists and attempting to clean up our environment. Their actions ever since have been an attempt to pollute indiscriminately.
Everything the GOP stands for is rooted in religiously-based discrimination of some sort. Whether they are quashing the rights of women, the poor and minorities or relinquishing the rights to drink clean water and breathe healthy air, the GOP is always on the wrong side of history. They claim trickle down economics is the magical way the job-creator fairies instinctively share their wealth. Profit-gorging corporations care only about their coveted bottom line: earnings for the shareholders. They are not concerned with the middle class, as companies like Walmart have created the working poor as the new normal. The laws they’ve passed are unimaginably awful.
On April 1, 2014 the Supreme Court handed corporations unlimited political power by cementing the idea that more money equals more speech. The five conservative Justices in the Supreme Court have ruled twice in favor of selling our democracy to the highest bidder. Money equals speech, (and) some people have more speech than others. It codifies oligarchy. It creates a free speech caste system. The highest bidder is also, unfortunately, the most rooted in theological doctrine supplanting a secular constitutional government. Chief Justice Roberts actually said: “Ingratiation and access … are not corruption,” he wrote, quoting Citizens United. Bribery, in other words, has no impact on a legislator’s actions. Because no one has ever succumbed to bribery, right, Scalia?
Biblical Creationism is favored over scientific evolution. Mandatory prayer and religious mottos like In God We Trust are proudly displayed in secular institutions like public schools. Mississippi’s Governor Bryant, enlightened by Old Testament-driven hate, is making it legal to discriminate against homosexuals openly! Other Red States are desperately trying to sanction laws very similar to those in Russia, who proudly boast of their anti-gay propaganda. There is actually a Minnesota candidate who has gotten into politics to ensure his daughter doesn’t have to learn about that alarmingly factual scientific theory of evolution, which has no place in the Biblical book of fantasy (which is the basis of all Republican legislation). If you look at the campaign the Republicans have launched against the scientific community’s consensus on the dire nature of man-made climate change, you’ll see a concerted effort to shun reality and promulgate illogical fantasy like that in the Bible.
Without even touching on the denial of racism and sexism, one can see very clearly how rooted in fantasy and lies the Republican platform has become. It is fashionable to disregard evidence, fact and data to promote the agendas of large corporations who care nothing for the citizens of this country. With 5/9 of the Supreme Court on board to sanction deception to the American people, we are truly in a situation where everyone MUST pay attention or our country will go the way of theocracies like Afghanistan. Income inequality will only worsen as our situation on this planet becomes more perilous with increasing weather disasters. Politics is local, and electing Democrats who are not religious shamans would be a great step in the right direction in this 2014 election year.