Thursday, December 23, 2010

Streams of Consciousness, Dec. 23


A couple days ago we reported on the smoldering controversy over hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, seeping into most cities' drinking water in serious enough quantities to make the water carcinogenic. Yesterday California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein asked the EPA to set national safety standards for chromium-6.

Meanwhile, concern is mounting across the country that drinking tap water regularly will increase the chances of getting stomach cancer and leukemia, while also increasing the risk of potentially fatal liver and kidney damage. The chemical industry and their Republican allies have vowed to fight any attempts to pass legislation taking away the freedom to pollute and the liberty of water consumers to poison themselves and their families if they decide to. That kind of Freedom and Liberty is very important to Republicans. In their universe, it's the heart and soul of the free market. You see, in GOP-land, those who can't afford bottled water deserve to die anyway-- and if enough people do die from drinking tap water, the survivors will drink something else instead... like Coca-Cola, beer... even urine is less toxic. Industries say it would be too expensive for them to keep chromium-6 out of the drinking water and they need it for tanning leather and making some stainless-steel products. You know what they say about the bottom line!

Let's take rubber-stamp Republican Congressman Lee Terry of Omaha, for example. Terry almost never varies from John Boehner. Their voting records are nearly indistinguishable, and both are committed to defending the freedom of chemical companies to poison the population. Omaha, alas, is one of the cities badly hit by the chromium-6 disaster. While the proposed limit in the state of California is .06 parts per billion, Omaha's water tested at 1.07 ppb-- not nearly as bad as Norman, Oklahoma's 12.90 ppb, but enough to kill plenty of Omaha's poor people in a variety of very unpleasant ways.

The chemical industry has given Rep. Terry $36,000 in thinly veiled bribes to keep him on the reservation and not have him do anything crazy-- like look out for his constituents back in Nebraska. In 2008, his constituents nearly threw him out of office; he beat Democrat Jim Esch by a mere 10,000 votes out of over 273,000 cast-- 52-48%. This year he did much better against Tom White, whom he beat 61-39%. Terry isn't doing anything about safe drinking water standards at all. Perhaps he thinks his seat will be safer if more working people just die.

Arsonists Prosecuting Firefighters

Krugman was talking about the fact that the the rating agencies, in sucking up to the pooh-bahs of finance, brought the current financial crisis on the world. He makes a great point, but I jumped right to Tom Coburn and his crazy right-wing Republican allies, particularly Mike Enzi (R-WY), selfishly and obstinately blocking health care for 9-11 first responders. Most of the Senate just stared at Coburn like the freak he is and then voted to pass the widely popular legislation. In fact, by the end of the day support was so overwhelming that Coburn was pressured by relatively saner Republicans to just back down and let it pass by unanimous consent.

The increasingly deranged and stubborn Coburn insisted the reimbursements for the firefighters and other first responders are "an entitlement," a bad word, not related in his mind to the fact that they actually are entitled to this help from society for the job they did on the front lines after the 9-11 disaster that Coburn did nothing to prevent. Coburn is also pissed off that the costs of the bill are being covered by closing foreign corporate tax loopholes, loopholes that Coburn favors.

And The Senate Ratifies START By A Landslide

After all that sturm und drang from Kyl and his cronies looking for another Waterloo for Obama, the Senate overwhelmingly ignored the dominant obstructionist faction of the Senate GOP caucus and approved the nonpartisan treaty between the U.S. and Russia that mandates new reductions in both nations' deployed strategic nuclear weapons. The final vote was 71-26, with 13 Republicans ignoring McConnell, McCain and DeMint and their hysterical politicization of national security. All the adult types among the Republicans voted for ratification.

And that was the end of the 111th Congress. Both houses adjourned. Here's a video montage of some of what was accomplished, although that Obama bullshit about Afghanistan and his and McConnell's tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires kind of spoils the whole thing:

GOP Front Groups Still Hope To Milk Homophobia For Donations

Yesterday President Obama signed the repeal of DADT, which passed by a wider margin in the Senate than anyone expected, even far right Republicans like Richard Burr (NC) and John Ensign (NV) abandoning Miss McConnell and the Mean Sisters, McCain and Graham-- two closet queens and a bitter, nasty old man-- to be party to history instead of getting run over by it.

But as Right Wing Watch pointed out, the Family Research Council, a Republican Party hate group, is already threatening to sue to prevent repeal from being enacted. They're in cahoots with McCain in trying to undermine implementation of the new law. And then there's this:

President Obama, after signing the bill yesterday, had something very different to say, something that will probably resonate more forcefully with normal Americans:
Sixty-six years ago, in the dense, snow-covered forests of Western Europe, Allied Forces were beating back a massive assault in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. And in the final days of fighting, a regiment in the 80th Division of Patton’s Third Army came under fire. The men were traveling along a narrow trail. They were exposed and they were vulnerable. Hundreds of soldiers were cut down by the enemy.

And during the firefight, a private named Lloyd Corwin tumbled 40 feet down the deep side of a ravine. And dazed and trapped, he was as good as dead. But one soldier, a friend, turned back. And with shells landing around him, amid smoke and chaos and the screams of wounded men, this soldier, this friend, scaled down the icy slope, risking his own life to bring Private Corwin to safer ground.

For the rest of his years, Lloyd credited this soldier, this friend, named Andy Lee, with saving his life, knowing he would never have made it out alone. It was a full four decades after the war, when the two friends reunited in their golden years, that Lloyd learned that the man who saved his life, his friend Andy, was gay. He had no idea. And he didn’t much care. Lloyd knew what mattered. He knew what had kept him alive; what made it possible for him to come home and start a family and live the rest of his life. It was his friend.

And Lloyd’s son is with us today. And he knew that valor and sacrifice are no more limited by sexual orientation than they are by race or by gender or by religion or by creed; that what made it possible for him to survive the battlefields of Europe is the reason that we are here today. That's the reason we are here today.

So this morning, I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It is a law-- this law I’m about to sign will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.

No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military-- regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance-- because they happen to be gay. No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder, in order to serve the country that they love.

As Admiral Mike Mullen has said, “Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.”

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At 6:39 AM, Blogger Jack Jodell said...

A remarkable week. Full of Republican bluster, but in the end, sanity prevailed. Now if those idiots could only work with the President and his party the way they finally did this past week!

By the way, my new year's wish for all the big business-protecting Republicans whose indifference on pollution issues endangers their constituents: get stomach cancer and die!


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