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Extreme Ithaca Liberals

My congressman, Tom Reed of NY-23, has once again started his biennial smear campaign against any candidate who dares run against him. Those of you who follow Mr Reed may remember his previous campaigns in which he simply outright lied about the political positions of his opponents. Or maybe you are familiar his lockstep support of Mr Trump. With most of his financing coming from out of the district organizations and PACs , and corporate organizations like ALEC, he is very successful in flooding the mailboxes with lies and half-truths. (97% of Reed’s money comes from PACs and large donors, 2.5% from small donors). It works.

This year one of his managers  has started a website devoted to the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals”, which is supposed to be an insult to his mostly  moderate, mainstream and slightly liberal opponent, Tracy Mitrano. Some of his supporters even show up at rallies with “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” banners.

I guess when you can’t run on your accomplishments all you can do is try to smear the other guy. To his credit, Tom Reed does have a couple accomplishments. He has voted to end the ACA a number of times, taking away health care from his constituents. He voted for the billionaire tax giveaway, to the tune of $1.5 trillion which I suppose does benefit a couple of his constituents here in the economically depressed western NY. And he wants to pay for that tax giveaway by cutting Social Security and Medicare. Fair enough.

But enough about Tom. Let’s investigate the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals“. Those of you not familiar with this part of the country may wonder why he uses the word “Ithaca“. After all, his opponent, Tracy Mitrano lives in Penn Yan, not Ithaca.

Well, “Ithaca” is a dog whistle for “highly educated”. Home of Cornell University. On that account Mitrano stands guilty as charged. She does have a BA, MA and Ph.D. from different institutions. As well as a JD from Cornell, (hence the “Ithaca” connection.)  While many would consider being educated a plus, I suppose to Reed and his supporters that may be a disqualifying if not terrifying quality in a lawmaker. Who knows?

But, I digress. Back to the “Extreme Liberal” part of the equation. Let’s look back over the years and see what “extreme liberals” have done for America. Or, as Tom would say, how have they destroyed America?

I offer a partial list of “extreme liberal” programs, all of which were opposed at the time by conservatives as being either “socialist” or “communist” or an infringement on “states’ rights”. I would like to see Tom respond to these extreme liberal programs and tell his constituents which ones he wants to do away with. Which ones made America a worse place to live? Here they are:

Social Security. Before the Social Security program was out in place over 50% of elderly Americans lived below the poverty level. And many more were just on the cusp.  FDR and the extreme liberals passed the program. At the time the opponents called it “communist” and predicted it would quickly lead to the downfall of America. Today, that number of elderly below the poverty level is 8%. Is that a bad thing?

Medicare. Before Medicare many elderly could not afford to purchase health insurance of any kind. The emergency room was their only option. Now all older Americans get preventative and necessary health care through Medicare. The extreme liberals made it happen.  Is that a bad thing?

Medicaid. Before Medicaid millions of poor Americans could not afford health care. Including millions of children. Now, the poorest of the poor can at least get basic preventative care and treatments. The extreme liberals passed this law. Is that a bad thing?

The ACA, (Obamacare). Before the ACA was enacted over 40,000,000 still had no heath insurance. They would get their health care at emergency rooms.. People with pre-existing conditions could not get insurance. Basic preventative care was denied to millions. Now, Mr Reed WAS able to get health care. Because of his obesity problem he and his doctor agreed to an operation.  He and his doctor thought that was the best treatment for him. Extreme liberals support that. Extreme liberals are happy that Mr Reed and his doctor were able to make that decision. Extreme liberals believe that all Americans should have access to the same quality of care. Is that a bad thing?

Social Security Disability. Before this program the disabled and children who lost a parent simply had to fend for themselves. When Tom was a little boy his father died. Luckily the extreme liberals had provided that his mother could get extra money for baby Tommy to help with the bills through the Social Security survivors program. Is that bad? Oh…by the way.. In 2015 Tom Reed  proposed a rule to stop funding the Social Security Disability program when it gets low. This has always been done by reallocating funds from Social Security. A fix that had been done under both GOP and Democratic administrations.  This rule would mandate the disability program  to cut benefits instead.

The Voting Rights Act. Many states, especially in the south, had laws designed specifically to keep African-Americans from voting. Poll taxes. Literacy tests. Grandfather clauses. Simply refusing to register blacks. The voting Rights Act changed that, trying to make sure all citizens can vote. The extreme liberals made that happen. Was that bad?  (Evidently so, since many states have re-instituted voter suppression laws now that the Supreme Court has overturned parts of the Act.)

Equal Accommodation Laws. After World War 2 men who fought and were injured fighting totalitarian governments came home. Some of them were told they could not eat in restaurants. Could not use the bathroom. Could not drink from the water fountain. Could not sit at the lunch counter. Had to ride in the back of the bus. Could not buy a house in this neighborhood. Could not send their children to the good school. Could not enter the university. The extreme liberals thought that was wrong and changed the law to prevent discrimination based on skin color. Was that bad?

I could go on and on and on, Food Stamps, Environmental Protection laws, minimum wage laws, worker safety laws, etc.  The bottom line is that most of the progress we take for granted in our daily lives was due to the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals” types.

So when Mr Reed’s supporters show up with signs and post websites about those “Extreme Ithaca Liberals” we might take a moment to ponder what our society would look like today without Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Minimum Wage Laws, the EPA, The ACA, Voting rights and a host of other programs we take for granted as normal.

Tom Reed would take those programs away if you give him the chance to do so. He is not an “Extreme Ithaca Liberal“.

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New Year Predictions 2018

This is the time of year when we think about the new year and what it will bring.  My new year predictions for 2018. While a couple might be a little off, I remain confident that my overall predictions will hold true.

The Cleveland Browns football team will be allowed to leave the NFL and play against selected college teams. While they do not fair well against Southeastern Virginia Disability Institute and the Outer Waco Texas Girls Ballet School the season is not a total loss. They will end up with a 1-11 record, having eked out a 3-0 victory over the Northern Idaho School for the Blind.

Robert Mueller’s third cousin on his mother’s side, 12 year old Cynthia Woggles,  will be investigated by a Congressional Committee headed by Trent Gowdy. The investigation, which will cost $ 7,000,000 and the calling of 98 witnesses, all of whom are commentators on Fox and Friends, will discover that Woggles  voted for Hillary Clinton in her 6th grade mock election in 2016.  (Not to be confused with the national mock election held the same year) Mr Trump will use this evidence of bias to fire the Republican Mueller. In  his place Mr Trump will appoint Roy Moore to take over the investigation. Moore immediatley calls Woggles for a play date.

Major League baseball will announce that after a study of fan injuries at 6 ballparks they have discovers 14 fans who had died during the game. At first the cause of the deaths was a mystery, since none of these fans were hit by foul balls or bats. Medical examiners confirm that these deaths can be attributed to a cerebral shutdown of the inner brain, caused by intense boredom.

The US will recognize the following new capitals. Scotland. Former capital: Edinburgh. New capital: Trump International Golf Links.  China. Former capital: Beijing, Forbidden City. New capital: Shanghai, Ivanka Shoe Factory.  Iran. Former capital: Tehran. New capital: Jersusalem.  USA. Former capital: Washington, DC. New capital: Mar-A-Lago, Florida. Congress passes a law concuring.

FEMA will announce, sometime in June, that they have devised a plan to bring power back to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has not had full electric power resumed since Hurricane Maria in September, 2017. Despite the fact that the FEMA response was the “best response ever” to a catastrophe (a close second being the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) . The new plan calls for running an extension cord from Merida, Mexico to the island to bring power back on line to the millions of foreigners living in Puerto Rico.  As long as Mexico agrees to pay for the cord.

The 1st Annual Scott Pruitt “Global Warming is a Hoax” seminar takes place in a yacht named “The Golden Dollar” off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina in July. Guest speakers include climate experts Sean Hannity, Clint Eastwood’s empty chair and the entire Duck Dynasty family. The conference is cut short when a family of polar bears swims past searching for ice.

In the Vatican, Pope Francis is caught on mike saying that he thinks “this god stuff is a bunch of BS”. Nevertheless,  he speaks out against war, violence, disease, global warming and hatred. He calls on all government leaders of the world to join in peace and harmony. No one calls back.When asked what common people should do to solve these problems he answers: “I tell you, I’m all outta ideas. Reality sucks so you might as well pray to a fantasy. Gets ME through the day.”

The New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, 17-14, on February 4 in a thriller over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have 7 TDs called back by the replay officials in NY, who are nowhere near the actual location of the game in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Days later it is discovered that the league officials in NY had mistakenly been watching the replays of the Bournemouth vs. Stoke City English Premier League soccer match of February 3, in which no one scored. As usual.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announces the closing of all National Parks, except for Mount Rushmore. All parks will be sold to the Koch Brothers at a deep discount and the proceeds, which are tax deductible, will be spent renovating Mount Rushmore. The faces of Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington , Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln will be sandblasted away to make room for giant head of Donald Trump, surrounded by his three wives. The monument will be renamed: Best Monument Ever. Congress concurs.

On a strict liberal vs. conservative vote the Supreme Court approves Executive Order 5,678 on the topic of voting rights. Since the court had previously ruled , under Citizens United, that money equals speech, they extend that ruling to include voting. Under the new ruling “money equals voting”, as well. Based on the principle of “one dollar equals one vote” the 2018 election will be determined by a new voting method. Every citizen must bring in their tax returns to show their gross income from wages and investments. Each dollar will count as one vote.

North Korean leader, professional golfer and all around bozo Kim Jung Un  announces a new building plan. He has signed an agreement with Trump University to open up a “Kim-Donald School For Learning Stuff” in Pyongyang. The school will focus on business related seminars including: How to Get Stuff  For Free; 12 Ways to Evict “Those People”; Tax Evasion 101: Avoiding Those Nasty Import Fees; and, Bankruptcy, The Real Estate Developers Best Friend. Eric Trump attends the ribbon cutting ceremony which is a disaster as none of the Korean made scissors are sharp enough to cut the paper ribbon. Eric calls the “Kim-Donald “school  the “best university ever” and announces at the same time that the US will begin selling nuclear technology to Kim as a gesture of good will.

Finally. Congress votes itself a 50% pay raise for a “job well done”. The legislative branch passed a total of three bills. They were: 1. “The Amazing Trump is the Best President Ever” bill awarding the Trump Medal of MAGA to the best person in America. This year’s recipient? Donald Trump. 2. “The FBI Traitor” law. Which labels all members of the FBI, former and current, official “enemies of the people” and subject to immediate permanent detention and prosecution for doing “bad stuff”. Mueller is the first to be perp walked. 3. “Congressional Vacation Act” which allows Congress to take a vacation for a period including January 2 through December 30, with pay and expenses for fact finding travel.  Mr Trump signed all three bills and praised Congress for their services… which will no longer be necessary.

 

 

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Frack You

I saw a news story today about a very wealthy man. A mean REAL rich. He made over 40 million dollars last year. He must be working his butt off. I am presuming he takes no vacations, so that comes out to $770,000 per week. $154,000 each DAY. Let’s say this guy works 10 hours a day. That’s $15,400 an HOUR.  Just give this some perspective. A minimum wage worker (at $ 7.25 per hour) would gross $15, 080 per YEAR. $15,400 per hour vs. $15,080 per year. That is one hard working dude.

His job ? CEO of Exxon Mobil, the number one fracking company in the world. For those asleep during the Bush years. First, you were lucky. Next, during the Bush years the Cheney-Bush administration convinced Congress, in 2005,  to EXEMPT fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act . That’s right. If they want to frack your drinking water, there is nothing the EPA can do about it.  (Although recently the EPA did find a loophole that will enable them to have some control over the issue).

Which brings us to lawsuits. Citizens groups are suing all over the country to try to limit or end this very questionable practice. Why ? In some cases their water spigots emit methane instead of water. Fracking is loud and detrimental to property values. Their kids have gotten sick. An odd phenomenon recently has been increased earthquake activity near fracking sites. Hmmmm…Take something out the ground and it moves ? Who would have thought? Usually these citizens groups are overwhelmed by corporate legal teams and simply can’t afford the legal expenses. So, they give up.

But not in Texas. One wealthy area is fighting against fracking. It is destroying their multi-millon dollar estates. It threatens to disrupt their bucolic existence. It is loud. And the water towers associated with it are ugly.  They want it stopped. And they have the money to fight it out in court.

Which brings us full circle. You see, the $ 40,000,000 a year hard worker I was talking about lives in that area. He and his wife have a homestead and an 83 acre ranch. They don’t like the water towers. They don’t like the possibility of noise and disruption and escaping methane gas. And who is this wealthy guy ? In case you forgot.  The CEO of ExxonMobil, the biggest fracking company on earth.

The very same  CEO who has consistently defended fracking as safe, quiet and wholesome, when done next to YOUR house . When the methane leaks in YOUR neighborhood. When the property values plummet on YOUR street. For this CEO I have two words. Frack you.

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Neocon Papers 5:Toxic Deregulation

West Virginia. North Carolina. Texas. Deregulation.

If there is anything close to a mantra for the neoconservatives it is the idea of “deregulation”.

The argument for deregulation goes something like this. The government, most especially the federal government, over regulates our lives. Not our lives,  really. It over regulates big business. And because the government over regulates big business that does a number of things. First, it drives big business into massive debt. Second, it depresses the economy because it reduces employment. Third, it makes the cost of doing business more expensive, thereby passing on the cost of goods and services to the consumer. So, if government would stop regulating business all three of those areas would be improved. More businesses. More jobs. More profits. Sounds logical.

Except. We have tried it. It failed. The philosophy attributed to Reagan,  called Reaganomics was an attempt to limit regulations so businesses could thrive.  That philosophy has been the mainstay of Republican “thinking” and to a great extent has been embraced by many Dems as well. Since the 1980s we have seen the federal government loosen rules on lumbering, mining, oil drilling and gas drilling. We have seen the EPA gutted and reduced to a weak organization unable to enforce the laws. The same EPA created by Richard Nixon and the GOP in the knowledge that unfettered business has made a cesspool of much of America.

But big business pushed  back. And won. And as the GOP took state houses they have consistently sought to turn back or ignore reasonable environmental safeguards. Those in favor of safeguarding the air and water were labeled as “tree huggers” and “eco-terrorists” or “communists” who opposed “free enterprise”. Job killers. Of course, the near depression of 2007-2009 demonstrated that Reaganonomics was a colossal failure. Where is that booming,  deregulated economy we we promised?

So, today we can see just a few of the results of that GOP success. Texas. A deregulator’s dream state. Fracking goes on unregulated (except by a weak state agency). People in parts of Texas are exposed not only to water pollution but air pollution as massive quantities of methane emerge from the ground. Studies show methane contamination in Weatherford , Texas. No one knows the long term effects of this so the Texas response has been to do nothing to protect the citizens. And the EPA has had the same response. We’ll have to wait and see. But keep fracking. Deregualtion.

In West Virginia this year we saw the pollution of the largest city’s water supply (Charleston). An uninspected tank leaked toxic materials into the river. Then, in a display of incompetence that rivaled the Keystone Kops we had the governor telling folks to drink the water. Others in the department of health saying don’t drink the water. The company (Freedom Industries) admitting, after about a week, that SECOND toxic chemical had been emitted. The government of West Virginia telling folks finally. …(Well, it’s your call. Drink the water or don’t…unless your pregnant…then you shouldn’t…..) Schools closed , then reopened because tests showed the water was safe. Then closed again because these chemicals showed up  again.  Deregulation.

Another GOP state. North Carolina. This story keeps getting better and better. When Duke Energy (company with close ties to the governor) was sued by consumer groups for  dumping COAL ASH in rivers the state stepped in and took over the lawsuit. It then guaranteed that Duke Energy could not be sued by any public entity, only the state. But…but…but…What about the EPA? Evidently the EPA rules allow STATES to determine the validity of lawsuits and remove the original litigants. That’s right. The GOP “deregulators” will determine how to enforce the EPA rules. The fact that the new governor worked for Duke Energy for over 20 years and has at least $10,000 worth of stock (that is the maximum he is required to report) had nothing to do with the decision. So, Duke Energy can dump coal ash into the water supply. Pay a small fine. (But they “promised” to clean up the mess. They “promised”) And  continue to do business. Deregulation.

It is no  accident that these are GOP lead states. Business can be  good if you can dump your waste into the public water ways. Or pollute the air. And pay no meaningful fines. Good for business. Creates jobs. No downside.

Of course someone will have to pay. Pay for the massive coal sludge clean ups of North Carolina’s waterways. Pay for the clean up of the river continuing to flow into the Charleston water supply. Possibly even install new water pipes. And pay the medical costs in the future for damaged children and adults in Texas,  North Carolina and West Virginia. Because these are real disasters. Man made. Someone will be shelling out billions of dollars over the next 20 years for these and countless other disasters. It won’t be “Freedom Industries”. It won’t be” Duke Energy”. It won’t be the natural gas industry in Texas.  It won’t be the “deregulators”. Can you guess who ?

The neocon mantra continues: Deregulation. Deregulation. Deregulation. Let the next generation pay for it.

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