Nel's New Day

July 7, 2015

Who Do Conservatives—and Fox Hate?

 

The Homeless (and Bill DeBlasio): A Bill O’Reilly segment used Jesse Watters to wander around Penn Station asking homeless people where they slept and whether they had drinking problems. After five minutes of this, he asked mostly white commuters about how scary homeless people are, going so far as to repeatedly asking a young child because she initially expressed some compassion for the homeless. Watters blames New York Mayor DeBlasio because, as O’Reilly and Watters agreed, the homeless knew their place under Giuliani and Bloomberg. 

Black People (ala Geraldo Rivera): After criticism of Kendrick Lamar and hip hop, Rivera concluded that black people’s clothing styles and art forms are responsible for racism and excessive police violence against blacks. Hoodies and sagging pants kill. Peter Johnson, legal analyst for Fox, called people who fight against racism “cultural cousins” of the Charleston killer. Hearing that the anti-racism group Disarm NYPD was to hold a rally against the Confederate flag on July 1, he agreed with Fox and Friends commentators that the rally could be a “precursor” to a terrorist attack and called them “the essence of anarchist values that seek to destroy the country.”

Immigrants: Following Donald Trump’s accusations that undocumented immigrants are largely rapists and other criminals, Megyn Kelly cited Ann Coulter’s “whole book right now that makes this point….  She cites data that does support the fact that some, obvious, immigrants who come across the borders do turn out to be criminals.” Rivera’s statement that “undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than the citizen population of the United States” didn’t faze her.

Looking at Donald Trump’s amazing popularity in the polls, Rick Santorum decided to follow the presidential candidate in bashing immigrants. Sunday he told CBS John Dickerson, “People who are coming illegally obviously are coming with a bad intent. Let’s just be honest, they coming with the clear intent of breaking the law.” Trump has support from other GOP candidates New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Ted Cruz (TX).

In Dublin (Ireland), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told an audience that immigration reform is on the top of his agenda. He told people in the United States the same thing two years ago but hasn’t made a move on the issue.

Hollywood “Elite”: Sen. Rand Paul is making a name for himself by railing against the $25,000 seed money that the National Endowment for the Arts awarded the Academy of Motion Pictures Films and Sciences a $25,000 grant to aid in the planning of exhibits for a privately funded $300 million museum in Los Angeles. The man who opposes raising the minimum wage, pay for women, and spending on infrastructure calls the $25,000 the “equivalent of the tax burdens of four Americans.” He also wants to give big oil money while taxing the poor with a regressive flat tax. I call the $25,000 the equivalent of 15 percent that the country gives a member of Congress to do nothing but block progress.

Workers: Objecting to President Obama’s proposal to extend overtime protections to 5 million workers, Ainsley Earhardt explained that this was a bad idea: “I was making 20-some-odd-thousand dollars with my first job as a reporter, and I always said yes to everything that they asked me to do.” Co-host Sandra Smith agreed because former McDonald CEO Ed Rensi told Fox that “these jobs are not careers.”At this time, only workers who make less than $23,660 are eligible for overtime pay. The new rules would extend those protections to workers making as much as $50,440 a year. 

Same-gender couples Who Marry: Crazy Glenn Grothman, Wisconsin state representative, claimed that legalized marriage equality is an offense to those killed in the Civil War, “a strong religious war to further a Christian lifestyle by getting rid of slavery.” According to Grothman, people who died in the Civil War would be “shocked” to learn that the recent Supreme Court ruling used the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. According to GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, marriage equality is “an attack on Christians and their religious liberty is a hate crime that must be prosecuted.” In Colorado, the hatred is pointed at “almost all people who want to marry” because the ballot initiative for a state constitutional amendment would allow the rejection of almost any marriage.

The Supreme Court: The solution to progressive rulings at the end of June is to have “retention elections” by the “American people,” according to GOP presidential candidate Sen.Ted Cruz (R-TX). He wants a majority by the U.S. population and majorities in at least half the states to agree that justices are fit for retention. He said, “Who in their right mind would design a system where every major public policy issue of the day is decided not by the people, not by the Constitution, not by the elected representatives, but by nine elite lawyers in Washington, D.C.?” He forgets that the Founding Fathers put that into the Constitution that conservatives claim to revere.

Everyone in the U.S. Who Uses Any Infrastructure: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) introduced the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) to terminate the gas tax that funds federal transportation projects and turn the responsibility of maintaining the interstates over to the states. Congress is trashing the country’s valuable infrastructure by refusing to increase the 18.4 cents per gallon put into effect 22 years ago. Just one example is the Arlington Memorial Bridge linking the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River where several bridge lanes were closed in May and the weight limit eliminated the use of thousands of tour buses.

Recently, eight more states—seven of them Republican—are increasing gas taxes to provide vital repairs to falling bridges and crumbling roads. Nebraska even overrode the governor’s veto. Eight years ago, the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis killed 13 people and injured another 145. The same problems are evident at thousands of other bridges. The man responsible for this devastation is Grover Norquist who has blackmailed almost all GOP candidates into signing a “no-tax” pledge through his Americans for Tax Reform.

Presidential campaigning affects the way that states look at the infrastructure problem. In an attempt to avoid being known as a “tax-and-spend” candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed $1.3 million in transportation bonds. GOP legislators are not happy about his idea, and Walker has pushed back his official candidacy announcement because of the ensuing battles.

Marijuana-Businesses-Donate-Big-Bucks-To-Clean-Up-Highways-In-Colorado

In Colorado, legalized marijuana is helping save the infrastructure. “Pot shops” are putting money into roads and highways, one of them as much as $100,000, beyond the 28-percent taxes that they pay. Republicans have had no comment thus far.

Human Rights Advocates: After the Human Rights Council of the UN condemned Israel for violating human rights of innocent Palestinians last summer, Cruz called for the U.S. to drop its membership in the council. The UN action was pretty tame, considering that Israel emulated the Nazis during World War II by officially calling for genocide against the Palestinians. Cruz has accused the UN of being anti-Semitic—but then he also thinks that UN is trying to close the golf courses in the United States.

People Who Use National Parks and Other Public Lands: The Koch brothers, through its executive director at the Koch-backed Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), is calling for no more national parks. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Reed Watson said that the government doesn’t need to care for lands because “true conservation is taking care of the land and water you already have.” He calls for the end to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a budget-neutral program using funds from offshore oil and gas development fees for federal, state, and local outdoor projects across the country—such as ones at the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. PERC’s goal is to sell off public lands to the highest bidder so that they can be used for mining, oil drilling, and cutting down trees.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), GOP presidential candidate, supports the Koch brothers plan to turn land back to states to use in any way that conservatives wish. Cliven Bundy, the man who succeeded in not paying the federal government for grazing by calling in renegade gun groups, met with Paul and said that they are “in tune with each other.”

And lots more hatred from conservatives later!

March 21, 2014

GOP on National Parks: Follow the Monday

Tired of trashing just people, GOP members of the U.S. House has decided to throw away the country’s most wonderful resources—the national parks. These people are in a snit because the President of the United States has had the right to declare new parks and monuments for 108 years. Rep. Bob Bishop (R-UT) introduced a bill this month that would give Congress the sole power to create new public resources. HR 1459 is called “The Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of Monuments and Parks,” but it would better be called “No New Parks.” The GOP members of Congress that wants to be responsible for our public resources has opposed every piece of legislation that would protect the environment or conserve land in the nation.

Once again, the GOP opposes what the public wants. A few months ago, three-fourths of respondents to a survey indicated that the government is not doing enough to protect national parks or public lands. In another survey, almost 70 percent of the people said they would more likely vote for a candidate who protects the environment and cares for the land.

HR 1459 is on schedule for a vote next week. That fast work is amazing for the House because bills sent over from the Senate such as immigration reform or helping the unemployed are still unattended.

Such quick action from the GOP calls on a response called “follow the money.” Bishop’s home state of Utah is sitting on a possible three trillion barrels of oil, more oil than used thus far in human history. Utah is getting ready for all this extraction with a $80-million highway into the Book Cliffs after a request from an oil shale lobby. A year ago BLM and the president allocated 800,000 acres of public lands for oil shale and tar sands leasing.  Benefiting companies are Enefit American (Estonia), Total (France), and Red Leaf Resources (Canada).

Tar sands oil is a mixture of sand, clay, and water. Usually the rock is “stripped” from the land, crushed, and then separated from the oil with the use of heat, water, and chemicals. Transport to a refinery requires dilution with some kind of petroleum solvent. As with other methods of fossil-fuel removal, tar sands oil mining uses a great deal of energy and water and causes massive and dangerous waste.

Below is the already mined Black Cliffs in Alberta and the Book Cliffs area before any mining.

black cliff alberta

book cliffs #3U.S. Oil Sands already got approval because the state’s Water Quality Division’s director, Walt Baker, doesn’t think there is any groundwater in the area in the high country between Vernal and Moab (UT). That site is called PR Spring, the name of a nearby freshwater spring, and the company plans to use groundwater for its processing. The total of that mine’s production over seven years will provide six hours of the fuel supply in the United States.

Jeremy Miller, of the environmental group Living Rivers, described the process during its seven years:

“Heavy machinery would scour bitumen from the pit around the clock … The sand and mineral fines remaining after the oil has been removed will be combined, shoved back into the pit and covered with topsoil. But processing expands such wastes by as much as 30 percent. The overflow will be dumped into surrounding ravines—a method starkly reminiscent of Appalachia’s mountaintop coal mining. And the project will create miles of light pollution, illuminating one of the country’s last great ‘dark’ regions.”

The mining company plans to use an untested “citrus-based solvent.” Miller said:

“In order to utilize the solvent, the sands must first be sent through a series of on-site crushers. Hot water is added to the resulting slurry, generating a ‘froth’ of oil, solvent, and fine sand particles. This mixture is then passed through a series of separation towers, where the crude oil is isolated. It’s then trucked to refineries in Salt Lake City for processing. Unlike conventional light crude oil, the heavy crude generated from PR Spring—like Canada’s—requires extra, energy-intensive refining steps to remove impurities, such as sulfur and heavy metals, before it can be turned into anything useful.”

arch parkThis site, however, is small compared to the largest deposit further south in the Tar Sands Triangle between Canyonlands National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and the Dirty Devil River Watershed. These are near some of the most beautiful places in the United States, including the red-rock canyon country of Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and inside Capitol Reef National Park.

white Canyon

[White Canyon in Natural Bridges National Monument. White Canyon, just outside the monument’s boundaries, is a designated tar sands development area. Credit: Bobby Magill]

canyonlandsTar sands mining would, in the words of BLM, “completely displace all other uses of the land.” Its environmental impact statement would mean that the air nearby could be:

“… contaminated with carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants, while air close to the site could be contaminated with benzene, toluene and formaldehyde. More than 100,000 acres of wilderness-quality land could be industrialized, construction of reservoirs would alter natural streamflow patterns, hydrocarbons and herbicides could cause ‘chronic or acute toxicity’ in wildlife and habitat for 20 threatened or endangered species could be lost.”

That was the report from the federal agency that approved the tar sands mining.

These “before and after” photos shows the change in a northern Alberta forest on the Suncor Millennium tar sands site. [Photo by Peter Essick; complete article in March 2009, National Geographic.]

tar-sands-before-after Alberta

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has asked Secretary of State John Kerry for a “comprehensive human health impacts study” analyzing the respiratory ailments, cancer and other illnesses related to harvesting and refining the dense hydrocarbon bitumen in Alberta’s oil sands. In a press conference, she said:

“The health impacts of tar sands oil are being ignored. This press conference is about waking up Americans that more tar sands coming into this country is a danger to the health of our people, all along the way, from the extraction to the transport, to the refining.”

She noted that people living near the facilities suffer from “higher rates of the types of cancers linked to these toxic chemicals, including leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.” The letter to Kerry stated, “Putting more Americans at risk for asthma, cancer and other serious health impacts is not in our national interest.”

Her concern was about the pollutants from tar sands mining in Canada and piping it across the United States so that companies can make billions by shipping the product to Asia. The GOP wants tar sand mining to destroy the country’s public lands.

Water from the area targeted for the mining goes into the Colorado River watershed. Aside from taking water from a source for 30 million people, the resulting pollution would greatly damage the fragile Colorado River watershed.

Boxer needs to expand her concerns about what could happen to the land of Utah as this photo from the Alberta mines shows. Photo by Garth Lenz.

Alberta sands at night

As president, Theodore Roosevelt conserved over 230 million acres of U.S. land. He created five national parks (doubling the previously existing number); signed the landmark Antiquities Act and used its special provisions to unilaterally create 18 national monuments, including the Grand Canyon; and set aside 51 federal bird sanctuaries, four national game refuges, and more than 100 million acres’ worth of national forests. Now the Republicans want to again reject Roosevelt’s policies and destroy the beautiful lands of Utah. The GOP has one goal: follow the money.

 

October 14, 2013

Day Fourteen of the GOP Government Shutdown: GOP Value System

Since the beginning of the shutdown, the GOP conservatives have been obsessed with national parks and monuments.

It began with Rep. Randy  Neugebauer (R-TX) publicly scolding a park ranger at the World War II Memorial because she was following the law. “The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves,” Neugenbauer said to the ranger. She replied it was a difficult task, but “I’m not ashamed.” He retorted, “You should be.” Since then, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have filed an ethics charge against Neugebauer for attempting to “coerce” the ranger to allow access to the memorial, that he violated a House rule requiring members to behave in “a manner that reflects the creditably on the House.”

Even yesterday, protesters are illegally forcing their way into areas that the shutdown has closed. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) led a crowd that removed barricades at the World War II memorial and chanted “tear down these walls.” Cruz said that President Obama is using military veterans as “pawns” in the shutdown argument.

These protesters, including the one carrying the Confederate flag, are most likely the same people who write letters to the editor and contact their legislators to keep the undocumented immigrants from “breaking the laws” by entering the country.

Senior House Natural Resources Committee Republicans sent a letter to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis ordering him to “not destroy documents related to the decision this week to restrict public access” to open-air memorials and monuments in the Washington area. Those documents are actually the House votes that closed the government. As Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) pointed out:

“These same veterans that they’re pretending to help today at the WWII memorial, you know, they’re going to have access to their disability pensions is going to be limited after Oct. 15. There’s going to be cuts in prosthetic research for veterans. The National Cemetery Administration is not going to be able to lay our heroes to rest at the same rate that they were. And Michele Bachmann who was there today at the World War II Memorial actually said, ‘The shutdown is exactly what we wanted. We got what we wanted.’ A good day for the tea party is when government is having a bad day.”

Arizona’s obsession with national parks was evident when one of the state “lawmakers” referred the president as “De Fuhrer” [sic] on a Facebook post, in the mistaken belief that it was he, and not her U.S. representatives, who closed down the national parks. Arizona State Rep. Brenda Barton (R) called on rogue “Constitutional Sheriffs” to arrest park service rangers for doing their jobs and urged people to ask their local sheriffs to revoke arrest powers to federal agents within their counties. When questioned about her terminology, she said she was keeping to her Adolf Hitler analogy:

 “It’s not just the death camps. [Hitler] started in the communities, with national health care and gun control. You better read your history. Germany started with national health care and gun control before any of that other stuff happened. And Hitler was elected by a majority of people.”

Arizona has now sunk even lower, if possible.  Gov. Jan Brewer is using state funds to open the Grand Canyon, yet Arizona was the only state in the nation that stopped issuing welfare checks after the federal shutdown. The $651,000 from state taxpayers will keep the park running for only a week, and there’s no guarantee that the state will be reimbursed. The federal government will reimburse the state for welfare checks if the shutdown ends.

In Arizona, 5,200 families receive an average of $207 a week from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, less money than keeping the Grand Canyon open. After protests regarding the withholding of welfare checks, Brewer reversed the halt, claiming that “just” 3,200 families failed to receive checks for October.

In its decision to use money from the rainy-day fund of $450,000,000, state senate Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor (D-Phoenix) explained why the state needs to re-open the Grand Canyon: “The rainy-day fund is for emergencies, and this is an emergency. This is beyond hurting the families. … Families are relying upon this.” Arizona government has determined that families relying on Grand Canyon businesses are of more value than those forced to live below poverty level, often because of rapacious corporate wages.

Brewer has been clear that the state will continue to pay for the Grand Canyon if the shutdown has not ended in five days. TANF and other critical federal programs may not be as fortunate.

During the shutdown, conservatives find national parks important, but several of them have wanted to sell them. Rep. Cliff Steans (R-FL) told a town hall meeting that the country needs to “actually sell off some of our national parks.” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) proposed selling off 3.3 million acres of public lands last fall, and former Rep. Richard Pombo suggested selling national parks to mining companies in 2005. U.S. parks created $31 billion and 258,000 jobs in 2010 while providing recreation for everyone, not just the wealthy elite—or the mining companies. Mitt Romney said that he doesn’t know “what the purpose is” of public lands, Rick Santorum said that public lands should go “back to the hands” of the private sector, and Ron Paul advocated for public lands to be turned over to the states.

People in the United States are going jobless because of the government shutdown, and some GOP Congressional members suffered a backlash from their defiant attitude toward continuing to receive salaries. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) said, “The thing of it is, I need my paycheck. That is the bottom line.”

Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) joined Ellmers in her sentiment. “Whatever gets them good press,” Terry said of members giving up their salary. “That’s all that it’s going to be. God bless them. But you know what? I’ve got a nice house and a kid in college, and I’ll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That’s just not going to fly.”

In acts of embarrassment, both Ellmers and Terry joined over 100 over members of Congress who refused to take their salaries until the end of the shutdown. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) did offer financial advice for furloughed workers:

“If you are a furloughed government employee, we encourage you to reach out to your financial institution as soon as you worry you may miss a paycheck. Financial Institutions [sic] often offer short-term loans and other resources. Don’t wait until you are behind on a bill; call now and explore your options.”

This from a man who has helped shut down the government.

Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said this afternoon that they made progress toward opening the government and stopping the U.S. from defaulting on its debts. The House, however, will have to accept any Senate decision to stop the disasters, and that cannot happen unless Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) permits a vote in the House. Yet House members may still be as confused as Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN):

“We’re not going to be disrespected… We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) said today that the House should be prepared to reject any agreement from the Senate. The classic House position comes from Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX): “We don’t have to fund laws we didn’t pass.” There goes just about every law in the history of the United States because this House has done almost nothing except rename post offices.

While Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) may oppose a debt limit deal, he says that defaulting on the nation’s debt would be “an impeachable offense by the president.” GOP logic: we won’t let you pay the bills and then we’ll impeach you if you don’t.”

Paul Krugman’s description of the Tea Party:

“So you have this neighbor who has been making your life hell. First he tied you up with a spurious lawsuit; you’re both suffering from huge legal bills. Then he threatened bodily harm to your family. Now, however, he says he’s willing to compromise: He’ll call off the lawsuit, which is to his advantage as well as yours. But in return you must give him your car. Oh, and he’ll stop threatening your family — but only for a week, after which the threats will resume.

“Not much of an offer, is it? But here’s the kicker: Your neighbor’s relatives, who have been egging him on, are furious that he didn’t also demand that you kill your dog.”

That’s the U.S. House of Representatives.

Meanwhile four of the five new Nobel-prize winners working for the government are furloughed while members of Congress are still being paid. Taxpayers are still paying for the lawmakers’ gym. Rep. Don Young (R-AK) said, “This job is very stressful and if you don’t have a place to vent, you are going to go crazy.” (It may not have provided that assistance to all members of the Congress.) A week ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that the Senate’s gym was becoming “rank.” Yesterday he said that he wouldn’t vote for any agreement that compromises John Boehner’s (R-OH) leadership. That gym is going to get a lot more rank.

GOP values: I’ve got mine; too bad for you.

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