Saturday, February 18, 2017

Letter to Senator Young on Pruitt vote to head EPA

It's been well over a year since I posted here, but I wanted to share the letter I e-mailed to Senator Todd Young regarding the vote of he and fellow Republican senators (and a couple Democrats) to confirm Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA. Pruitt is a man who despises the EPA and has opposed them at every turn. Young and other senators have truly let the fox into the hen house and they know it. It's absolutely shameful and a disaster for the environment. These senators only care what a handful of big polluters with deep pockets want.

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Dear Senator Young,

I am writing in regard to the vote to confirm Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. In confirming Mr. Pruitt, you and almost all the other Senate Republicans have chosen a man who has spent many years opposing the EPA at every turn on behalf of his friends in the fossil fuel industry. He even tried to block mercury and ozone protections, two of the most dangerous pollutants in the country. In another lawsuit, he sued on behalf of an oil company to prevent enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. Mr. Pruitt has sided with polluters against protecting the environment again and again.  He despises the EPA and choosing him to lead it is inexcusable, appalling, and frankly immoral. As Mr Pruitt's views have been abundantly clear for a long time, I must conclude that you share those views.

Public opposition to Mr. Pruitt was unprecedented, and the public overwhelmingly supports a strong EPA. EPA officials know he's a terrible pick, and that's why over 750 former officials openly opposed his confirmation. You showed that you didn't care at all what the public thinks. Between this vote and the vote to repeal protections for our waterways from mountaintop removal coal mining waste, you have shown where your loyalties lie and it's not with average Americans, but with a handful of wealthy people who benefit when they can trash the environment for profit. You have chosen the greed of a few over the health and well-being of the many and over the long term health of the environment we all share. You should be ashamed.

In confirming Scott Pruit  to lead the EPA, a man who opposes the fundamental mission of this vital agency, you have in effect declared war on the EPA. Those of us who care about the environment, who understand that sensibly protecting it IS putting people first, must respond. We need leaders who will work on our behalf, not work to make the dreams of the worst polluters in the country come true. We deserve to be represented by leaders who put the people and the planet ahead of corporate pay masters. You are apparently not that kind of leader.

I'm only one person, but  I'm politically active on the issues I care about and unless there are big changes in your stance on environmental issues in the next few years, I will do my part to oppose your re-election.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Just pop that shoulder back in!

Laurens Ten Dam told you he was hardcore. Caught up in a massive crash in stage 3 of the Tour de France today, he suffered a dislocated shoulder. His team understandably figured his Tour was over and put his bike on a team car. That's when Ten Dam demanded they pop his shoulder back into place so he could continue the race. He rode 60km more to finish the stage and plans to line up for the next stage in the morning. They'll be racing on cobbles tomorrow. That's going to hurt.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A hostage crisis?

Why are some people referring to the current government shutdown and debt ceiling talks as a hostage situation rather than typical political negotiations where two sides make some compromises in order move forward? Isn't that just overheated rhetoric?

Well, it is certainly heated rhetoric,  but it's not far off the mark. In a setting of good faith negotiations, both sides have to make concessions, ie. give up some of the things that they want, to reach a compromise. Republicans aren't offering any actual concessions though. They're saying "give us what we want or we'll blow up the economy". Make no mistake, while the shutdown is bad enough, what would really wreck the economy is not raising the debt ceiling. The GOP caucus, excluding a few of their craziest members, don't actually want to push the US government into debt default, so they're not making any concession at all if they agree to raise the debt ceiling. They're just playing a high stakes game of chicken.

Agreeing to Republican demands with regards to the Affordable Care Act would set a terrible precedent. It would mean that any time the nation approaches the debt ceiling, any and every law already on the books is up for grabs. The laws wouldn't even have to be confined to budget issues. It could just as easily be "do what we want on this foreign policy issue" or "change this environmental regulation law" or anything else in exchange for not ruining the economy.

As for the ACA, it's already a compromise law that includes, among other things, over 100 Republican amendments and no public option (which most Democrats wanted in there). It passed the House and the Senate, was signed into law by the President, and was upheld by the Supreme Court. To now allow the House to in effect unilaterally change it -- so they won't blow up the economy -- would be a terrible abuse of the government's system of checks and balances. Why have the Senate and the President involved in lawmaking at all if the House can later simply extort both to get whatever changes they want made to existing laws?

We have a hostage situation.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stop fighting birth control

John Boehner this week:

House Speaker John Boehner this week called the mandate "an unambiguous attack on religious freedom" in a rare House floor speech and vowed legislative action to reverse it.

"If the president does not reverse the attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, must," Boehner said. "This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country must not stand and will not stand."

Translation of Boehner's words: "I'm a pandering ass who uses ridiculous hyperbole while pathetically grandstanding to blast everything Democrats do." Shut up, John.

Then there's this guy, who's demanding on behalf of Catholic bishops that the contraceptive requirement be removed entirely, not just given an exception for church businesses -- Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell, I'd be covered by the mandate."

You're damn right you'd be covered, as you should be! Do you know how screwed up our laws would be if every private business owner could claim religious exception to laws they didn't like? Take your backwards, anti women views and shove them.

I'm so sick of this regressive bullshit. Welcome to the 21st century, same as the 19th century.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Whiling away the hours

The words of one of my college professors from 15+ years ago came to mind just now. "Are we just whiling away the hours until we die?"

It seems to me that life is meant to be enjoyed, but sometimes short term pleasure, something that's amusing for awhile, leaves nothing. Is it worth it because "a moment enjoyed is not wasted" as a popular video gaming website likes to say? Perhaps.

Yet what did I gain out of several years in my 20s when I was practically addicted to online role-playing games? I usually enjoyed it, but on the other hand, I don't spend much time telling people about all those great times we had back then staring at a computer screen. Mind you, it's no worse than many other activities people do to fill their time. Plenty of people go home and stare at the television screen for hours every night.

"Moderation in everything" also comes to mind. Then again, some people become truly great at something by doing it obsessively and they seem to like it that way.

Amusing Ourselves to Death. Great book title. "Kill the spirit, sell the flesh, we amuse ourselves to death." Words from a song by Bill Mallonee.

No answers... just musings...

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Youth on Wall St

For the many young people spearheading protests on Wall St. and now in many other cities:

Your energy can be the engine for change.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Money Rules

If there was any silver lining in the disastrous Supreme Court ruling on the Citizens United case, the case that opened the floodgates for unlimited individual and corporate donations to political action committees, it was that who donated and how much they donated had to be disclosed.

Tonight Stephen Colbert humorously, yet depressingly for those of us who still give a damn about good government, demonstrated how those donations can be rendered completely anonymous. Bonus: It's sooooo easy. Start with the SuperPAC such as Karl Rove's American Progress, an organization that must disclose all donations given to it. Then simply add a shell corporation under a legal designation called 501(c)(4). Rove's shell corporation is called Crossroads GPS. The corporation can take unlimited anonymous donations from individuals and corporations, then spend the money directly on "issue-oriented" political advertisements, OR give the to the SuperPAC. All the SuperPAC has to disclose is that it received the money from the shell corporation, thus completely shielding all contributors.

To show how easy the process is, Colbert created a shell corporation to gather anonymous donations, creatively named Anonymous Shell Corporation, to go with his already created SuperPAC.