Sunday, November 23, 2014


Money is not Speech!
Corporations are not People!

What sculpture is to a block of marble,
education is to the soul.
Joseph Addison

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency Under Fire

By Dan Springer

The Environmental Protection Agency is under fire for a preemptive strike against a massive copper and gold mine in Alaska, where hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are at stake.

The controversy centers on Pebble Mine, located 200 miles southeast of Anchorage.

It is the largest deposit of copper and gold in North America.

But environmental groups and fishermen, worried about the impact to the world’s most abundant salmon run in Bristol Bay, fought the mine from the beginning.

“It was people from Alaska that requested the EPA come in and take action,” said Tim Bristol, of Trout Unlimited in Anchorage.

“We just don’t feel like we’re getting our concerns heard by the state of Alaska.”

The EPA did act, using the 1972 Clean Water Act for the first time ever to stop a mine before the owners even came out with a detailed plan.

The company behind the mine claims the agency went too far.

“The intent of the EPA is to take on an authority that nowhere has Congress given them, to go across America and determine where development should occur and where it shouldn’t occur before anyone ever files a permit,” Pebble Limited Partnership CEO Tom Collier said.

EPA officials have said the agency only got involved after Alaska Native tribes asked for a special Clean Water Act 404(c) veto in 2010.

But internal memos suggest some government ecologists wanted to sabotage the mine long before that.

One email from 2009 reads, “we should be the ones to shape the discussion.

We will need to do tribal outreach, they need to understand the risk.”

Another email listed the pros and cons of an early veto.

Among the pros, it said a preemptive strike “can serve as a model of proactive watershed planning.”

Pebble Limited Partnership, along with the state of Alaska, sued the EPA.

The Inspector General is looking into whether the EPA adhered to laws, regulations, policies and procedures in developing its assessment of potential mining impacts on ecosystems in Bristol Bay.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (Of auto theft fame in his youth), R-Calif., also is investigating.

A year into its inquiry, the committee is hitting roadblocks.

Phil North, a key, now-retired EPA biologist can’t be located.

North worked in the EPA’s Kenai office and is a longtime acquaintance of the lawyer who filed the tribe’s request for an EPA veto.

Some accuse North of initiating the Pebble Mine veto discussion within the EPA and even helping opponents craft the letter to the agency.

Now, not only is North unavailable to the committee, but two years’ worth of his emails about Pebble Mine are also missing.

In response to the oversight committee’s request, the EPA searched North’s laptop and old computer hard drive, and three external hard drives, but could not find any of his electronic documents related to the mine for the period between April 2007 and May 2009.

The EPA says it is still searching.

Geoff Parker, the lawyer who represented the Alaska Native tribes in filing the veto request with the EPA, said North did not begin the 404 (c) veto discussion.

Parker told Fox News the impetus for the veto was the lack of a formal mine plan from Pebble Limited Partnership
The mine was purchased by the Canadian company Northern Dynasty, parent company of Pebble Limited Partnership, in 2001.

A few years later, the owners started reaching out to surrounding Native communities hoping to garner support.

In 2011, Northern Dynasty finally issued an economic assessment of the Pebble Mine.

It outlined three possible mines ranging from 25 years, up to 78 years.

The smallest mine would extract 2 billion tons of material.

The largest would mine 6.5 billion tons.

The scenarios were used by the EPA in its study of the mine’s potential impacts on the Bristol Bay watershed.

Pebble officials argue their economic assessment was not a mine plan and included none of the extensive mitigation program.

“It was an imaginary mine the EPA invented,” said Washington Examiner columnist Ron Arnold, who has written extensively on Pebble Mine.

“You can’t respect anything the EPA says.”

But Bristol said the EPA did exactly the right thing.

“The authority is there in the law, and the question we’ve asked is if not in this place, and not on this issue and not at this time, then when are they going to use the veto?” Bristol said.

“There’s so much at risk.”

Bristol Bay is a $480 million a year fishery.

In 2009, it provided 14,000 full and part-time jobs.

Pebble officials say they can operate a mine without impacting the legendary salmon runs.

The question is, will they ever get a chance to make their case?

Friday, November 21, 2014

America's Greatest Shame

Child Poverty Rises; Food Stamps Cut; Billionaires Boom

By Les Leopold, Alternet

November 1, 2013--There are 16.4 million American children living in poverty.

That's nearly one quarter (22.6%) of all of our children.

More alarming is that the percentage of poor children has climbed by 4.5 percent since the start of the Great Recession in 2007.

And poor means poor.

For a family of three with one child under 18, the poverty line is $18,400.

Meanwhile, the stock market is booming.

Banks, hedge funds and private equity firms are making tens of billions of dollars again, while the luxury housing and goods markets are skyrocketing.

Most amazing of all is the fact that 95% of the “recovery” has gone to the top 1% who have seen their incomes rise by 34%!

For the 99 percent there's been an undeclared wage freeze: the average wage has climbed by only 0.4 percent.

To add to the misery, Washington has decided that the best way to tackle childhood poverty is to have poor kids eat less.

Both parties already have agreed to cut billions from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps).

Hey! They're kids. They're not gonna fight back.

Starting this November 1, payments are scheduled to drop from $668 a month to $632 for more than 47 million lower-income people--1 in 7 Americans, most of them children.

And more cuts are coming!

The Tea Party House passed a bill to cut food stamps by $4 billion a year, while the Senate calls for $400 million in cuts.

How humane!


And since it will be part of the omnibus Farm Bill, President Obama will sign it.

Well, that worked out perfectly, didn't it!

But that's just the start.

There's more?

More austerity is coming in the form of cuts to Social Security as well as a host of other social programs.

Crap! Social Security has/had a surplus. The fux are finally getting at it after lusting after it from the moment they set foot in Washington.

When times get tough, you've got to suck it up and take more from the poor!

It gets even more revolting when we realize that the financial billionaires who are profiting so handsomely from the recovery are the very same who took down the economy in the first place.

They were the ones who created and pedaled the toxic securities that puffed up and then burst the housing bubble.

Those financial plutocrats caused 8 million workers to lose their jobs in a matter of months.

Those bankers, hedge fund honchos and fund managers are directly responsible for the rise in child poverty rates.

Washington bailed out those billionaires and is now asking the poor and the middle class to pay for the ensuing deficits with further cuts in social programs at every level of government.

Why do we put up with such injustices?

Before we entirely succumb to financial amnesia, let's recall how we got here.

Since the late 1970s, the financial sector has been on a crusade to remove any and all financial regulations.

The goal was to undo all the controls put in place during the Great Depression that so effectively curtailed financial speculation and outright gambling.

Once deregulated Wall Street engineered a Ponzi-like housing bubble that netted it astronomical sums.

By the time it burst in 2007, 40% of all corporate profits flowed into the financial sector.

Wall Street wages grew by leaps and bounds.

As the crash hit, all the largest Wall Street firms, not just Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, were in serious trouble.

Had AIG gone under, so would nearly every major bank and investment house, along with thousands of hedge funds that depended on AIG to ensure its toxic bets.

So Wall Street's Washington cadre engineered a $13 trillion bailout consisting of cash, no interest loans and a program by which the Federal Reserve would buy up Wall Street's toxic waste at par value.

To produce a financial recovery, the Fed also drove down bond interest rates which in turn drove money into the stock market, sending it to new heights.

The End!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Is that a mask of Charles Krauthammer and
he actually died years ago?

The Crosscheck list purges could easily account for Republican victories in at least two Senate races. In North Carolina, the GOP’s Thom Tillis won over incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan by just 48,511 votes. Crosscheck tagged a breathtaking 589,393 North Carolinians as possible illegal double voters (though state elections officials cut that down to roughly 190,000).

There is no such thing as "illegal double voting!"

That is purely fabricated! Just how stupid do these fux think we are!

We can hardly get voters to vote ONCE and we're supposed to think 589,393 people "drug"  themselves to the polls TWICE!

Senator Kay Hagan was my Senator, and we loved her. This Crosscheck is bullshit! We've been manipulated by these fux! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Myths & Facts: Keystone XL

Will refined products from Keystone XL be exported?

Valero refinery in Port Arhur, Texas

Valero Energy Corporation is a key customer of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Its refinery (above) in Port Arthur, Texas, is one of several Gulf Coast refineries hoping to replace more expensive imported crude oil.

Valero employs more than 10,000 people and processes three million barrels of oil a day, providing the fuel Americans need through its Valero, Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock, Beacon, Ultramar and Texaco brands.

We need it! We gotta have it! No matter who gets hurt!

It’s important for us to address inaccurate and misleading claims that continue to be made regarding Keystone XL and the issue of exports.

Okay...whose spreading those malicious rumors?

It should be noted that Keystone XL transports crude oil, not refined products.

Who accused Keystone of being refined?

TransCanada is an energy infrastructure company that builds energy infrastructure like pipelines, natural gas-fired power plants and wind farms.

Wind farms! How precious!

TransCanada doesn't actually extract or own a single molecule of oil or natural gas that it transports.

Well, I hope to kiss a pig if you owned even one molecule!

We are contracted to build the infrastructure to safely deliver those molecules to their destination.

Oh, where were you during the Gulf fiasco?

We don’t own the oil we transport, much like a moving company doesn’t own your bed during a move.

Who will own the oil once it's spilled all over the plains? I guess those poor bastards, much the way those folks in the gulf own that mess!
With that being said, we can provide insight into what happens to those products when they are refined.

Do tell...we feel better already!

Crude oil is not exclusively used to produce gasoline.


Crude oil is used to produce thousands of products that we use every day, not just gasoline and diesel.


Crude oil feedstock is used to create the plastics that encase our cell phones and televisions, asphalt for our roads and even the latex gloves doctors use when delivering a baby.

Now who could be against babies??

The people suggesting that the oil Keystone XL transports will be used exclusively to make gasoline or diesel; that is simply a guess and they know it.

Harummph! The doidy liars!

The United States consumes the vast majority of its refined products.

See? They do it all for us!

The claim that “much of this oil is for export” is actually contrary to the facts, market analysis and what actual refiners and customers of Keystone XL have said.

We really need to be more trusting. Look what the Exxon Valdez did. There was simply too much wild life and was getting over-crowded and Exxon solved the problem.

The fact is the U.S. consumes the vast majority of all the refined products it produces.

Oink, oink!

In 2012, only about 9% of U.S refined on-road motor fuel was exported--the other 91 per cent was consumed in the United States first.

Ditto on the oinks!

State Department finds Keystone XL won’t impact export trends.

Of course not!

The State Department’s market analysis in Keystone XL’s final supplemental environmental impact statement says “U.S. product exports are not sensitive to different scenarios of pipeline development.”

Wha? Run that by me again.

Essentially saying that exports occur (and have occurred for more than 20 years) with or without Keystone XL and the project would not impact those trends.

Alrighty then! We choose to go without.

What do our customers say?

Wait! Let me guess! Keystone XL is wonderful!

Valero has exported less than 10 percent of the gasoline it makes.


The vast majority of what we make in the U.S. stays in the U.S.”

I'll be damned.

We also know that tens of thousands of jobs are tied to refining and creating the products we need and use every day.

Did you say jobs? That does it! We're in! Bring on the pollution!

Supporting the domestic refining industry with more domestic oil at lower prices keeps the industry competitive, protects jobs and supports its growth.

What more can we ask for?

Isn’t the U.S. using less gasoline?

The fact that the U.S. is using less gasoline is technically true; however, that statement without context is misleading.


According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, in 2012, about 133 billion gallons (or 3.18 billion barrels) of gasoline was consumed in the United States, a daily average of about 365.65 million gallons (or 8.71 million barrels).

Wow! You're good.

U.S. gasoline consumption reached record highs in 2007 but has since decreased 6 percent.

The United States still uses a lot of gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels.

That is not going to change overnight.

What can change overnight is where the U.S. sources the crude oil to create the products that we use every day.

Keystone XL is as shovel-ready as projects get.

Within months of a Presidential Permit, 9,000 men and women in the United States can begin working on a project that will bring lower-cost North American crude oil to U.S. refineries, reducing reliance on conflict oil from Venezuela and the Middle East thus enhancing energy security.

That sounds like a win win situation. Screw Venezuela! Double screw the Middle East!

TransCanada is 100 per cent responsible for responding, cleaning and restoring the site in the unlikely event of a pipeline leak.

It’s our responsibility--as a good company and under law.

If anything happens on the Keystone XL Pipeline, rapid response is key.

That’s why our Emergency Response plans are approved by state
and federal agencies, and why we practice them regularly.

We conduct regular emergency exercises, and aerial surveys every two weeks.

We’re ready to respond with a highly-trained response team standing by.

Why don't I have that warm, fuzzy feeling?
Could it be because what we've always done to others when we wanted something they had, is now being done to us?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Could You Say
I Thought You Could.

Gossip is when you hear something you like
about someone you don't.
Earl Wilson

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Let's drop in on some Fox Fiction News for some comic relief.

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and Charles Krauthammer beat the impeachment drum . . . by likening undocumented immigrants to murderers.

Boy do conservative morons hate when the president actually tries to do something.

Photo Credit: via Fox

Fox News loves Charles Krauthammer because they think he has the ability to sound rational, smart and calm while saying totally bonkers things.

Fox thinks he gives them a veneer of respectability.

Fox also thought that of George Will, who calmly said insane things like how campus rape victims enjoy “special status.”

So, two Fox "smarties," Megyn Kelly and Charles Krauthammer, were discussing their favorite topic this week, which is how the hell can we get rid of this black president, and when can we start the impeachment proceedings?

This week’s “impeachable offense” that has so addled their uni-brain is the imminent prospect of Obama taking executive action to shield five million undocumented immigrants from being deported.

It's been done before, by both Reagon and Bush, but somehow, when Obama does it, it's completely different.

“There’s no doubt that what he is doing now is a flagrant assault on the Constitutional system,” Krauthammer said, doing his best imitation of a person who actually knows something.

“I’m sure Obama will be able to find a bunch of lawyers who say it is okay.

This is clearly illegal. “

We're sure he will.

Those lawyers will say anything.

Especially when there are plenty of precendents.

But wait, Megyn Kelly has some law background, and it was her turn to try to sound smart.

“There’s no doubt that the president has prosecutorial discretion.

But it’s a sliding scale.

Just as a prosecutor has discretion.

He might decide not to prosecute one murderer.

But if he said he is not going to prosecute any of the murderers, that would be unacceptable.”

So, yeah, she’s comparing undocumented immigrants to murderers.

And no, that is not a mistake.

What it is is unacceptable and disgusting.

Quite apart from the whole impeachment discussion, which is merely ridiculous.

It’s all marketing anyway with those right-wingers.

As Matt Iglesias at Vox explained, making sense is not the point: “What, if anything, that phrase means is difficult to say.

But its political significance is easy to grasp.

All true conservatives hate Obamacare, so if net neutrality is Obamacare for the internet, all true conservatives should rally against it.”

Crazy conspiracy theorist Alex Jones backed Ted Cruz, saying net neutrality reminded him of Hitler.

Because everything Obama does and says and all government regulation remind him of Hitler.

Still, not even conservatives were buying either the Hitler connection nor the Obamacare link, as numerous comments on Cruz’s facebook page attested.

Sample comment from one Jinnie McManus: "Goddammit, stop making my party look like morons and look up net neutrality.

It doesn't mean what you and your speechwriters think it means."

Well, goddammit Jinnie, your party does a goddamn good impersonation of morons.

Money is not Speech!
Corporations are not People!

It's fine to celebrate success but it is more
important to heed the lessons of failure.
Bill Gates

America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors. The answer was provided immediately. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds

By Cheryl Chumley, The Washington Times

April 21, 2014--America is no longer a democracy—never mind the democratic republic envisioned by Founding Fathers.

Rather, it has taken a turn down elitist lane and become a country led by a small dominant class comprised of powerful members who exert total control over the general population—an oligarchy, according to a new study jointly conducted by Princeton and Northwestern universities.

One finding in the study: The U.S. government now represents the rich and powerful, not the average citizen, United Press International reported.

In the study, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens,” researchers compared 1,800 different U.S. policies that were put in place by politicians between 1981 and 2002 to the type of policies preferred by the average and wealthy American, or special interest groups.

Researchers then concluded that U.S. policies are formed more by special interest groups than by politicians properly representing the will of the general people, including the lower-income class.

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence,” the study found.

The study also found: “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.”


Don't Get Too Excited...They're Not Staying

Silos Marner  

By George Eliot 

Silas Marner, the Weaver of Raveloe, published in 1861, is unique among George Eliot's writings for its brevity and its apparent allegorical clarity. 

The novel is only slightly longer than the short stories that Eliot published.

I had to read Silas Marner in school. Checked it out again recently...Yep, still don't like it! She wrote Middlemarch, which, I believe was shown on television recently.

I like not only to be loved, but also to be told I am loved.
George Eliot

Congress returns to Capitol Hill for post-election battle

By Mike Lillis

The players are the same, but it’s a whole new political world when Congress returns Wednesday to a Capitol turned upside down by last Tuesday’s elections.

Fresh off a midterm victory that gives them control over both chambers next year, Republicans will use the lame-duck session to pick leaders and plot strategies for confronting President Obama in the homestretch of his White House tenure.

I want to put a ding in the universe.
Steve Jobs

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wisconisn Governor Scott Walker gestures as he addresses the second session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012 REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

 I am what you get when you don't vote.
Thank you, non-voters for electing me.
After Tuesday, I am somewhat at a loss for words. 
Scott Walker is still my governor, and my beloved Wisconsin has sent possibly the dumbest man on the planet, Glenn Grothman, to Congress. 
The Republican Party has the Senate and the House, the only thing stopping the crazy from them is President Obama's veto pen. 

As a state, Wisconsin is looking at even more of the right-wing agenda to be shoved down our throats, all because people could not get out and fucking vote.

Milwaukee County has a population of 956,000 people, yet only 367,227 people voted. I could go on county by county and list the apathetic turnout, but it would do no good.

The people that need to be shamed for not voting are not at Daily Kos reading this diary.

Some of you out there will say that the people of Wisconsin got just what they deserved,  reveling in rubbing salt into the fresh wounds of Wisconsin progressives who've been fighting Scott Walker and his Koch brothers' agenda for the past four years.

But you will be wrong.

No person deserves what Wisconsin is going through, and it is going to get a lot worse, especially for women.

The day before the election, almost unnoticed, a story by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ran in the Capital Times about the Walker administration auditing the Medicaid billing of family planning clinics:
Two family planning clinics serving low-income women say their operations will be at serious financial risk if state auditors stand firm on claims that they overbilled Medicaid by $3.5 million, largely for birth control drugs and devices.
According to Beth Hartung, president of the Wisconsin Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association:
My hunch is that if any one of us were audited it would come out the same way. 
We’re all operating the same way. It would mean, quite frankly, that we would all close.
The auditors are challenging a reimbursement price for oral contraception that providers say the state itself set. 
In other words, the state is changing the rules in the middle of the game without telling anyone. It's not like the state would recover a lot of money in any of these cases either—the federal government pays 90 percent of the claims, the state only 10 percent.
This is not about saving the state any money; it's about shutting down family planning clinics. But, hey, we are getting what we deserved, aren’t we? That will teach poor women working multiple minimum wages jobs a lesson.

We will not see the minimum wage raised in Wisconsin over the next four years, nor will we see collective bargaining for public servants make a comeback. We will likely see tort reform, and right-to-work laws signed into law, lowering wages and costing more jobs. But we deserved that too, didn’t we? Taxes will be cut for the rich, leaving more of the burden on the dwindling middle class. Education funding, welfare, food stamps, and healthcare funding will be cut, hurting our children and our most vulnerable members of society.

But we deserved it.

We will likely see high-speed rail bypass Wisconsin and go through Iowa and Illinois, losing thousands of jobs that should have been in Wisconsin. We will have to pay higher costs for health care, and it's likely we will see lower wages and higher unemployment than bordering states. But we deserved that.

The thing is, no one deserves this.

We all should be treated with dignity and respect.

A governor, whether he or she is a Republican or a Democrat, represents all of the people of the state, not just those who voted him or her into office.

Scott Walker has already proven that he only listens to his big money donors.

Remember, the people of Wisconsin deserved this.

And be forewarned: Scott Walker is going to run for president in 2016.

Do you think the United States as a whole deserves what he has done to my beloved state?


Do I and the rest of the 1,121,490 Wisconsinites who voted against Walker a favor—don't tell us we deserved this.

We did everything we could to stop this man.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun. Nov 09, 2014

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Republicans believe
Republicans should rule;

Democrats should be shut out 
of the room

Democrats say: WTF!


Chevron Refinery Fire: Huge Blaze In Richmond Can Be Seen For Miles

By Terry Collins and Jason Dearen

August 6, 2012—Richmond, Calif.--A major fire at one of the country's biggest oil refineries that sent hundreds of people to hospitals with complaints of breathing problems will push gas prices above $4 a gallon on the West Coast, analysts said Tuesday.

The fire, which sent plumes of black smoke over the San Francisco Bay area, erupted Monday evening in the massive Chevron refinery about 10 miles northeast of San Francisco. It was out early Tuesday.

The West Coast is particularly vulnerable to spikes in gasoline prices because it's not well-connected to the refineries along the Gulf Coast, where most of the country's refining capacity is located, analysts say.

The Chevron refinery is particularly big and important to the West Coast market, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.

It produces about 150,000 barrels of gasoline a day–16 percent of the region's daily gasoline consumption of 963,000 barrels, he said.

California's average price Tuesday for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.86. But with inventories in the region already low compared with the rest of the country, pump prices along the West Coast will soon average more than $4 a gallon, Kloza said.

Chevron spokesman Lloyd Avram said he did not have an update on when the refinery could be restarted and declined to comment on what kind of impact the shutdown might have on the gasoline market.

"Spot prices have already increased by as much as 30 cents per gallon in some West Coast markets and that's before the refinery damage has been fully assessed," said analyst Patrick DeHaan of the website

The fire began around 6:15 p.m. Monday in the refinery's No. 4 Crude Unit, about two hours after a vapor leak of hydrocarbons similar to diesel, said Heather Kulp, a Chevron spokeswoman.

"At approximately 6:30 p.m., the volume increased and personnel evacuated the area," she said at a news conference. "The hydrocarbon vapor then ignited and a fire occurred."

Kulp said there were no explosions, and staff at the refinery initiated an emergency response immediately after the fire started. 

The cause is under investigation.

The black smoke and flames could be seen miles away from the refinery that has long been the target of complaints and lawsuits by people who live near it in Richmond, a mostly low-income community with five major oil refineries.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said the fire was unacceptable.

"We live with the day-to-day risk of this type of manufacturing and refining that has an impact on our community with pollutants being released, but with the accident that happened yesterday, that doesn't mean it's acceptable, because it's not," McLaughlin said in a KCBS radio interview.

State workplace safety investigators cordoned off the entire crude unit, and no one was being allowed to enter without approval from the state, said Erika Monterroza, a spokeswoman for California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA.

"Investigators have notified us that Chevron's emergency response was excellent," Monterroza said.

Three employees suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene.

Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, a town near the refinery, said more than 300 people had sought help for eye irritation and breathing problems.

The hospital said most of the patients were released after being seen.

Kaiser's Richmond Medical Center said it had assessed and treated more than 350 people with respiratory concerns in its emergency department. 

No patients were admitted to the facility, said Jessie Mangaliman, a spokesman for Kaiser Permanente.

Air quality officials said the region's 27 monitoring stations detected some increases in pollution.

"Those impacts have now decreased significantly over time since the fire was put out yesterday," said Eric Stevenson, director of technical services for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which is responsible for monitoring the site's compliance with air pollution laws.

Stevenson said the impacts were still well under state and federal air quality limits, but air samples were undergoing lab testing for toxins to which people may have been exposed.

Residents said they heard loud blasts around the time the fire broke out, although Chevron officials could not confirm those reports.

Carol Bluitt, who lives just blocks from the refinery, said she's still traumatized from the smoky blaze that darkened the sky for miles and smelled like burning rubber.

"You could clearly tell there was something toxic in the air. 

My eyes were really, really red and running," said Bluitt, who went to the hospital and began crying in front of her doctors, complaining that her chest was tight.

She said they prescribed eye drops and an inhaler to use every two hours. But she wasn't sure the remedies were helping.

A fire at the refinery in January 2007 injured two workers and spewed low levels of sulfur dioxide and other toxins into the air. County officials said that it was not enough to harm the health of nearby residents.

That fire shut down the refinery for most of that year's first earnings quarter.
AP writers John Marshall and Garance Burke contributed from San Francisco. Energy reporters Jonathan Fahey in New York and Sandy Shore in Denver also contributed to this report.

XL Pipe Line? Bring it on!

Michigan Dems Got More Votes and STILL Lost! 

By WaltSorg
Nov. 6, 2014--Ask any football or basketball coach. 

It's a lot easier to win if you can write your own rules. 

Today the shrinking base of the Republican Party holds onto power by writing rules giving it a built-in advantage in elections.

And it works.

Michigan Democrats received more votes for Congress and more votes for the state House of Representatives than Republicans. 

But Republicans, thanks to the aftermath of 2010, changed the rules sufficiently so that they maintained their stranglehold on Michigan government.

The minority party is running the show, and Democrats can't do much about it.

Even a petition drive is fraught with challenges, because Republicans in the Legislature have become masters at gaming the system to prevent citizens from forcing a referendum.


One word that describes why Michigan no longer has a government that is representative of the electorate.

The 2001 reapportionment had given the GOP the votes it needed to gerrymander Michigan. 

They have repeatedly lost the popular vote for the Legislature only to win anyway thanks to favorable districts.

The advantage was doubled in 2011 after another GOP wave election. 

The results:
Democrats actually got plenty of votes, but Republicans made sure that most of them had no impact.

In the 14 congressional races, Democrats received more votes than Republicans:

Democrats: 1,515,716 (49.15%)
Republicans: 1,463,854 (47.47%)

The average margin of victory for winning Dems was 86,410; the average GOP win margin was 42,243.

All of these numbers are from the current Secretary of State report and will likely change a little with the official canvass.

In the races for the state House:

Democrats received more votes but Republicans INCREASED their majority status:

Democrats: 1,536,812 (50.98%)
Republicans: 1,474,983 (48.93%)

The Republican maps turned a 61,829 margin FOR DEMOCRATS into a 63-47 "majority" for Republicans.

The average Republican victory: 6,389 votes.
The average Democratic victory: 10,092.

In the races for the state Senate, the discrepancy is even more egregious:

Republicans received slightly more votes than Democrats, but turned a slim total-vote victory into a super-majority:

Democrats: 1,483,927 (49.23%)
Republicans: 1,527,343 (50.67%)

The Republican maps transforms that slim 43,416 statewide vote margin (1.4%) into a 27-11 advantage (71%) in the state Senate (one GOP victory, a 61-vote win, could be overturned on recount).

The average Republican victory: 15,107 votes. 
The average Democratic victory: 33,133 votes.

You don't need much voter suppression when you've figured out a system where your opponents' votes don't really matter anyway.

On that option of a citizen petition drive to end partisan redistricting:

Michigan's constitution has a strange restriction on citizen initiatives. 

Laws that include an appropriation, no matter how small, are exempt from being repealed through a petition drive. 

In the last legislative session, the threat of a successful petition drive to raise the minimum wage prompted legislators to pass their own--far less generous) minimum wage law and include in it a small appropriation, making the citizen petition drive moot. 

The same was done with TWO petition drives to overturn a state wolf-hunting season.

The only citizen alternative is to amend the state Constitution.

Just getting a proposal on the ballot requires more than 320,000 valid signatures which would then be scrutinized and challenged by high-priced GOP attorneys. 

Not long ago they successfully challenged a petition because part of it arguably used a 11-point font instead of 12-point.

Barring a constitutional change in redistricting, the GOP has built a political perpetual motion machine that will automatically renew itself every 10 years through map-making that is more about winning elections than in protecting voting rights


Friday, November 07, 2014

Money is not Speech!
Corporations are not People!

Halliburton Delayed Releasing Details on Fracking Chemicals After Monroe County Spill

A fracking company made federal and state agencies that oversee drinking-water safety wait days before it shared a list of toxic chemicals that spilled from a drilling site into a tributary of the Ohio River.
What the frack?? Mystery chemicals and drinking water in the same sentence? 

Although the spill following a fire on June 28 at the Statoil North America well pad in Monroe County stretched 5 miles along the creek and killed more than 70,000 fish and wildlife, state officials said they do not believe drinking water was affected.

Of course it wasn't affected, you silly goose! Just planning for a giant fish fry, that's all!
But environmental advocacy groups said they wonder how the state can be sure. 

Cuz the best liars that money can buy were brought in! 
A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report obtained by The Dispatch shows that the federal and state EPA officials had to wait five days before they were given a full list of the fracking chemicals the drilling company used at the site. 

And they were all perfectly legal...possibly even full of vitamins and good for us!
Halliburton, the company hired by Statoil to frack the horizontal well, provided a partial list up front that included most of the chemicals.
See? Can't say they're not team players. 
Others, which are protected by Ohio’s trade-secrets law, were omitted. 

Hey, a secret's a secret. 

“How can communities know that they are being protected when an incident like this happens?” said Teresa Mills, an environmental activist and Ohio organizer with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. 

Oh, that Terry...such a worrier! 
“We need more transparent laws.” 

What on earth for? Halliburton is Cheney's old company before he became Vice President; we all know how honest and forthright he is.

To pull oil and natural gas from shale, companies drill vertically and then turn sideways into the rock.  

Hmm...sounds good so far...even clever. 
Then they blast millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into the shafts to free trapped oil and gas in the process called fracking.  

Good to the last drop. 
During the process, fluids bubble back up to the surface with the gas.
And where do these "fluids" wind up?
Once a fracking job is finished, drilling companies have 60 days to disclose what chemicals they used to the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees drilling and fracking operations in Ohio.  

What if they are harmful? They've already been used; no backsees! 
Ohio law says that companies have to disclose the contents of proprietary fracking mixes only to firefighters or Natural Resources if there is an emergency, such as fires or spills.
Like, Halliburton waits til after a spill, then discloses the mix?
In this case, both were given the full list but did not share the details with other agencies. 

Trade secrets, right? 
Halliburton has yet to finish fracking the Monroe County well that caught fire.

What's the rush?
Chris Abbruzzese, an Ohio EPA spokesman, said that on the day of the fire and spill, a representative from a group that represents the federal and state EPA offices, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Monroe County emergency management and fire workers asked Statoil and Halliburton for a list of the chemicals.
“Once they realized that the proprietary information wasn’t included, there were additional (requests) made,” Abbruzzese said. 

Natural Resources, which regulates drilling in Ohio, has authority under state law to see the entire list and asked on its own two days after the fire.
Halliburton, the company hired by Statoil to frack the well, gave the list to the single agency. 

But Natural Resources did not share that information with either EPA office.
“Internal communication is something we’re going to work on,” said Bethany McCorkle, a Natural Resources spokeswoman.

Kirsten Henriksen, a spokeswoman for Statoil, said the company hired an outside toxicology firm to test both the creek and the Ohio River for toxic chemicals.

None was found in the Ohio River, she said. 

The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, a multi-state agency that tests the river, also found no contaminants. 

“Based on the chemicals that we were aware of, if there had been any other chemicals that would have been there, they all would have showed up (in tests),” Abbruzzese said.
Kelly Scribner, a toxicologist with the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, which was hired by Statoil to perform the tests, said she wasn’t given a full list of chemicals either.

But, she said, the tests would have shown abnormalities in the water either way. 

Fracking chemicals include ethylene glycol, which can damage kidneys; formaldehyde, a known cancer risk; and naphthalene, considered a possible carcinogen. 

The water tests showed elevated levels of chlorides, salt and acetone in the creek near the well pad.

By the time federal and state EPA officials were given the full list, those chemicals likely flowed past towns along the Ohio River that draw in drinking water. 

That worries some state lawmakers and environmental advocacy groups.
“We’ve got 70,000 or so fish that died,” said Nathan Johnson, an attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council.

 “Clearly, something was wrong with the water.”

Ya think?
The group has been lobbying the Ohio legislature to pass laws that would force companies during emergencies to immediately disclose the full list of chemicals to all state agencies. 

Oil and gas industry officials and regulators have pushed back against additional regulations, saying Ohio’s laws are more than adequate to protect people. 

In a speech on Tuesday outside Mansfield, Gov. John Kasich said Ohio has “very tough regulations” concerning fracking.

Yeah, really tough!
“If the accidents happen, and we’re not minding the store, or we’re looking the other way, that would be a disaster for us,” he said. 

Kasich told The Dispatch it would be unacceptable for emergency responders, including federal and Ohio EPA officials, not to know the full list of chemicals that might have spilled into the river.“

We want people to know what the fracking fluid contains,” he said. 

Other states, including Pennsylvania and Texas, make companies disclose the full list of chemicals within 30 days of wrapping up a fracking operation.
In Oklahoma, they must disclose the chemicals to state regulators before a well is drilled. 

The Statoil fire started on the morning of June 28 when, according to preliminary reports, a hydraulic line used during the fracking prpcrss broke.
The broken line sprayed fracking fluid onto hot equipment, igniting it.
The fire spread to 20 trucks, which went up in flames.
No workers were hurt, but one firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation.

 About 25 people who live near the wells were evacuated. 

The fire continued to smolder for six days.
As it burned, firefighters doused it with water and foam, washing chemicals from the site into the tributary, which flows for five miles before reaching the Ohio River.
That does not sound good. 
Legislators and environmental groups say the Statoil fire illustrates a gap in the law that allows fracking companies to determine when they release information and to whom.
Hmm...sounds like they're in the driver's seat. Wonder what that cost them.
“It is a huge problem,” said Johnson, the Ohio Environmental Council attorney.
How huge is it on a scale of 1 to 10?
“We’re essentially at the behest of the company with the chemical information.”

That sux!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

How Does Congress Override
A Presidential Veto?

When the president of the United States (POTUS) uses a presidential veto, it doesn't necessarily mean that the bill won't become a law.

The US Constitution gives Congress a means to sign a bill into law after a presidential veto has occurred.

In order to overturn a presidential veto, both houses in Congress must vote to approve the bill by a two-thirds majority.

In cases where a majority votes does not occur, bipartisanship—the act of finding common ground via compromise—can help override the veto by gaining a majority vote.

Other alternatives include declaring a law as unconstitutional or ruling against same party affiliation.

Why Vetoes Occur

One of the deep concerns of the founders of the US was that any one branch of the government would seize power and take the country in any direction desired.

This is why the presidential veto, and the ability to overturn it, exists.

The presidential veto in the US is a means by which the POTUS can reject a proposed bill that has received a majority vote in both houses of the legislative branch of the government, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate.

When the president exercises his or her right to reject the bill and use the presidential veto, the bill is returned to the House or Senate, wherever the bill first started, with remarks from the president on why the bill is being rejected.

Often, when the bill originates from a majority congress that is in opposition to the POTUS’ political party, vetoes are a means of defeating bills that the president feels are in opposition to his or her political aims as head of a political party.

Majority Vote and Bipartisanship

While the House of Representatives and the US Senate work together for the good of the country, they do not always agree with one another.

In the case of a veto from the president, an agreement is necessary to overturn it.

The House and Senate must have a majority vote of two-thirds from both parties to override the president's decision.

Realistically, it is difficult to overturn a presidential veto because there is seldom a two-thirds majority of a political party in both congressional houses.

Though occasionally members of the minority party will vote with the majority party, this still may not amount to enough votes to represent a two-thirds majority.

On the other hand, when the president appears to be acting against the interest of most members of Congress, regardless of party, bipartisanship to overturn a veto can occur to severely limit presidential powers. 

Alternative Options

Another alternative besides a majority vote may occur when Congress passes a law that is declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

This action by the Supreme Court may ultimately influence whether or not Congress will attempt to overturn a veto; if the Supreme Court appears to be in agreement with the president’s veto, the time it takes to try to create a law after veto has occurred may not be worth the effort for Congress.

For example, when the majority of Justices of the Supreme Court belong to the same political party as the president, they may do all they can to uphold the veto, making it nearly impossible for Congress to win a majority vote.

On the other hand, when concern exists in both the Supreme Court and Congress that the president is abusing his or her authority through vetoing, the Supreme Court may rule against party affiliation, no matter how conservative or liberal their politics are.

This may be done to uphold the right of Congress to pass laws that conform to the US Constitution and are perceived as being in the best interest of the country.

Normally when one sees a headline about the chair of the Federal Reserve one would expect to learn that she is considering some change in monetary policy that is perceived as potentially unfavorable for financial markets.

This time Dr. Yellen has done something far more serious than that.

She has committed an act of heresy against the neoliberal creed by suggesting that (gasp) economic inequality might be creating economic problems.

Who does she think she is, an economist or something?

Janet Yellen Mentions Inequality; Conservatives Scandalized
Earlier this month, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen delivered a careful, fact-laden speech about rising economic inequality.
This proved so sufficiently alarming to conservatives that even the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Strain, a moderate, wrote that Yellen is now “in danger of becoming a partisan hack.”
Strain has kicked off a debate, hosted in the New York Times today, over Yellen’s apparently shocking breach of decorum.
The most striking thing about Yellen’s remarks is how cautiously she waded into the subject of inequality.
Rather than actually state that rising inequality is a problem in American life, she merely conceded that it is “appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation's history.”
Strain concedes that Yellen withheld a personal opinion about whether the rising gap between rich and poor is good or bad—“even by focusing on income inequality,” he argues, “she has waded into politically choppy waters.”  
There are a bunch of hair on fire pieces about this outrage on various right wing financial sites.

The indignation is generally dripping with patronizing expressions of CONCERN.

I'm not going to bother to put any of them here. 

When the good old boys of the financial establishment were all lining up to get Bernanke replaced by that well known sexist neoliberal Larry Summers, I was pretty much of the almost anybody but him persuasion.

A woman in the job seemed like a good thing as well.

However, I was dubious that a financial insider like Yellen was going to do anything to rock the neoliberal boat.

I am now reevaluating that view.

I am entertaining a pleasant fantasy of Janet Yellen at the Fed and Elizabeth Warren at the White House.

That could bring about the kind of change that you can actually put in your pocket.




Wednesday, November 05, 2014


"We will take back the White House on Tuesday!" 
--Sarah Palin

Oh Yay!
Party at the Palins!
Shoes, Underwear Optional!
Be Sure To Bring Your Fist-a-Cuffs!
And Money for Bail!
It's Gonna Be A
Hootin', Shootin' Helluva Party!
Your Shot Thru The Living Room Window
Is Your R.S.V.P.!
Be There or Be Shunned
By the Elites of Anchorage...
Remember, She Can See You
From Out Her Ass!

 Republicans are gonna party like its 1929.
Photo: No words...
The doors to the asylum have swung wide open....
Photo: The answer to this question, is that not enough people express their displeasure at the ballot box!
David Letterman on Obama:

“Take a look at this: gas under $3 a gallon – under $3 a gallon. Unemployment under 6%, whoever thought? Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular.”
Photo: The Koch Brothers have awaken a sleeping giant.

In 2016, we are going to hit them with a Democratic tidal wave unlike anything they've ever seen before. Let's start organizing NOW!
"We will take back the White House on Tuesday!" --Sarah Palin
Photo: Wow, Colorado say goodbye to your weed lol
Brownback re-elected?
Apparently, Kansans LIKE being poor, unemployed, and shat upon by the uber-rich.
Marilynn Shea Stalnaker's photo.
Heaven help Obama, and heaven help US!!!!!

Tyler Berndt's photo.

Photo: Cartoon Monday.

Photo: Cartoon Monday!