Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

EPA in Danger from Unwarranted Criticism

[Photo from The Huffington Post]

[The following is a guest post by Nick Scott.]

The recent budget cuts have provided plenty of debate about a number of different issues.  While the debate has involved programs geared to help the poor and elderly, much of it has focused on the Environmental Protection Agency and EPA regulations.

The federal budget compromise a few weeks back may have kept the government afloat, but it damaged some governmental agencies, including the EPA, by significantly cutting their budgets.

In the case of the EPA, $1.6 billion or about 16 percent of its 2010 budget was slashed!  As 2010 drew to a close and through the first months of 2011 Congressional Republicans have worked hard to destroy the ability of the EPA to do its job of protecting our environment.

Specifically, GOP representatives have been highly critical of the Clean Air Act and the EPA's sanction to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  These Republicans base their criticism on the notion that the EPA is exerting too much power and thereby has a negative effect on revenue, gas prices and employment growth.

The Republicans are blowing smoke.  Not only do EPA officials strongly deny such charges, they call them inaccurate and misleading.  In fact, EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, responded by saying "The standards that we set to protect our health are so often and so inaccurately blamed for increasing prices and economic challenges."

Because the Reublicans have had some success in their mission to gut the EPA by slicing the EPA's budget, it's likely they will explore further cuts into the 2012 year.  Because the 16 percent cuts have little effect on the regulations they claim are "causing a loss of revenue" the GOP will likely carry on their criticism of the EPA until their goal is reached.

Unfortunately, if they are successful, the health of the American people is put at risk!  If the EPA is subjected to additional budgetary cuts it will be unable to do its job which will certainly lead to dangerous repercussions in the future.  Human ailments related to environmental toxins, for example, are likely to increase dramatically!

Increased health problems caused by dismantling the Clean Air Act are also likely to occur.  If our corporate polluters are given the green light in terms of emitting greenhouse gases, that will impact not only global warming but air pollution will grow exponentially throughout the United States.  Childhood asthma is already a huge and growing problem, and many of our cities are inimical to health because of dangerous levels of toxins in the air.  To allow corporations the privilege of blowing their deadly smoke into the air is monumentally stupid and respiratory problems are likely to skyrocket!

The EPA is also very much involved in dealing with health problems related to asbestos removal.  By so doing, the EPA has helped to reduce the rate of mesothelioma cases in this country.  The EPA works on an ongoing basis to clear older buildings and structures of asbestos!  This effort has produced tremendous benefits for our citizens.  Because the disease is so deadly (mesothelioma life expectancy is usually only eight to 14 months) asbestos removal becomes a major factor in reducing the number of cases.  And asbestos removal is just one example of the many programs in the EPA portfolio aimed at cutting the number of environmentally-related health problems.  To further slice the EPA's budget is simply irresponsible and foolhardy and puts the American people in jeopardy.

Looking to the future and considering the Republican penchant to destroy the EPA by cutting its budget to the bone, we have a serious problem.  The continuing, unwarranted attacks by Congressional Republicans and business leaders on the EPA and the work of the EPA are taking a toll.  Because the EPA is vital to the well-being of our nation and our people, we need to fight back against these attacks by creating greater awareness among our citizens as to the role the EPA plays with regard to our national well-being.  We also need to vote out those representatives who would destroy the EPA to increase corporate profits; those who care little for the health and welfare of the people of the United States!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The wheels on the bus go round and around...

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Jesus says he does not know Franklin Graham

[Photo from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association]

I talked to Jesus today and he told me he'd never heard of Franklin Graham!

Well, that's what the legendary Jesus would say if there really had been a Jesus or a Christ or a son of a god who was also his father and  his holy spirit all rolled into one like a piece of salt water taffy.

The Jesus figure who walked the earth for a few years 2,000 years ago neglected to write down what he really believed or didn't believe and whether he was really the bastard son of a teenage Jewess named Mary.  In fact, he didn't write anything whatsoever, which means he also failed to instruct his disciples about what to do when he died, rose again and went whoosh up to heaven.  The whooshing is understandable, of course, but because there isn't any "up" he couldn't have whooshed "up."  He must have whooshed "out" which would have to be considered a miracle as that is very hard to do unless you're on jet skis.

Anyway, there were lots of wandering, itinerant preachers, healers, magicians, philosophers and other assorted crackpots traveling the highways and byways of the Roman Empire back in those days and some 30-40 years after Saul/Paul had his vision of a Christ figure who lived in the 7th heaven, a few believers decided they needed to put together something of a background for the guy.  So, a fellow we know as Mark picked up a copy of some material another author had written, and along with a lot of common fables put it all together in a "gospel."  Some years later folks we know as Matthew and Luke came along and used Mark as the basis for their own story.  Unfortunately, they had a hard time getting things straight and then they made up  stuff like the birth stories, and that was confusing to the Christ followers.  Some other Christ followers wrote their own "gospels," creating more entertaining tales of a Jesus figure.  In fact, we know of over 200 different gospels.

Sometime in the 2nd century, long after Jesus was supposed to have hustled around Palestine in his sandals, a guy who was given the name of John wrote another gospel which was nothing like the others.  In John's gospel, the Jesus figure has now actually become god and lives in "heaven," wherever that is and is a spiritual being who saves people who believe in him.  In the other three gospels of our modern bibles, Jesus was quite concerned about behavior.  People who failed to behave properly toward other people who have a tough time being accepted into paradise.  And rich people?  Forget it.  They had literally no chance at all!  John's Jesus doesn't care about how you behave.  Just believe!

We've got a lot of christianist fruitcakes wandering our highways and byways today who actually believe that all this mythical nonsense is literally true.  The biggest group of fanatics comprise the Roman Catholic Church but the so-called fundamentalist Christians are right behind the Catholics in nuttery.

Franklin Graham is one of the latter, a fundy christianist who typically believes he can tell big, bold lies if he does it for a good reason.  The notion that the end justifies the means is in the marching orders of fundy christianists.  That's why such weirdos as Graham and the Baptist preacher, Huckabee, and the rotten papiest, Gingrich, can cast aspersions on President Obama by pretending he has not produced his birth certificate!

Franklin Graham, being very ignorant of the bible he pretends to revere, believes not only that this Jesus actually lived on earth but that he rose again in bodily form after he died and, as we have seen, was whooshed up into heaven, and will somehow "return" to earth to swoop up all true believers and take them all with him to heaven and send all the rest of us to a terrible fiery eternal punishment.

Graham, being a really nasty person, claims on the one hand, that his make-believe Jesus said no one knew, knows or will know anything about the end of time or the coming of the son of man which Graham thinks is the 2nd coming of his Jesus.  But this Jesus warned about wars and rumors of wars, blah, blah, blah and we've certainly got those and so Graham thinks that probably means the 2nd coming is going to happen any minute or not.

In other words, Graham is full of crap!

What is really beyond belief is that Christiane Amanpour of ABC felt the need to interview this clown!  What's the point?  Who cares what Franklin Graham thinks about anything?

It is a funny interview, though.  Graham says the Bible says that everyone on earth will see the 2nd Coming.  So, how will that happen?  Well, it may be through our social media.  "How is the whole world going to see him all at one time?" asked Graham.  Then he answers his own question:  "I don't know unless all of a sudden everybody is taking pictures and it's on the media worldwide.  Social media could have a big part in that."

And Jesus wept!  That's in one of the gospels.

Good god, Graham is a goofball!  His god and his Jesus are so inept and powerless they have to rely on our means of communication to ensure that everyone sees the 2nd coming at the same time!  Whoa!  That may be why it's been so long coming, this 2nd coming.  God, being very dumb, had to wait until some smart young Jewish guy invented Facebook!

Is this great, or what?

But Graham wasn't done with his plaintive prognostications so he decided he'd take a swipe at our Constitution and form of government.  Graham, being a christiainst, doesn't like democracy partly because it includes freedom of religion.  He thinks our government should be a christianist government and christianists should rule!

And the damn government shouldn't be involved in helping people.  Graham says it's the government's fault that the churches don't do more to help the poor and needy.  The churches quit taking care of people because the government took over the job!

Not only so, but the antichrist is everywhere.  Secularism is the antichrist.  "I look at the world in which we live today and the secularism is antichrist.  It's every bit antichrist.  We can't talk about Jesus in our schools.  God has been kicked out of our government."

All of that is plain and simple bullshit, of course.  I wish god had been kicked out of our government.  Unfortunately, we've got so many christianist nutcases in Congress trying to impose their god's law on the rest of us Congress is beginning to resemble the Afghanistan Taliban!  And one can talk about Jesus at length in our public schools.  One cannot, however, say that you have to believe in Jesus in order to avoid an eternity of hell.  That's what Graham is really bitching about.  He wants our public schools to be outlets for evangelical christianity!

Finally, this strange freak of a christianist again implied that Obama may not be legitimate as he might not have been born in this country and has not produced his birth certificate.  Now, for anyone who claims to be a christian to say that is just despicable!  Obama's birth certificate has been produced, verified and authenticated.

Graham should be ashamed of himself and get out of the god business.  We have way too many of these goofy, lying, amoral christianist evangelicals in our country the way it is!

Oh, one final thing:  Frankie thinks that Donald Trump might just be the right guy for the presidency of these United States!  Ugh!

You can watch the aforementioned interview here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Supply-Siders' Debt - How "Voodoo Economics" Cost Us $9.2 Trillion

h/t to my old friend, Bob Poris

Wasting time at work

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

The Republican Party and the Destruction of the World

(Psst...Hey, George, we're finally gonna do it.  We're gonna destroy the world!)

The Republican Party is trying to destroy the world.

Why would they do that?  It's all about money.  It's always about money with the Republicans.  It's about short-term profits, the bottom line!  Republicans are, by and large, lobbyists for the corporatists.  In fact, if the corporations were smarter, they would fire their current crop of lobbyists.  The lobbyists are no longer needed for the Republicans are bought and paid for by the corporations; there is no differentiation between the corporations and the Republicans.  They live and breathe the same air and have the same goals.  When the checks are passed out the corporations include instructions to their surrogates in our legislative houses (said surrogates being overwhelmingly Republican) and voila!, the dirty deeds get done.

During the last election cycle the Republicans said they were going to destroy the world.  They were very clear about that.  They also said they would destroy the world in order to bless their corporate benefactors with even greater profits at the expense of the rest of us.  They would do this by destroying our environment - the air we breathe and the water we drink.  They said they intended to destroy whatever consumer protections were in place in this country.  Consumer protections, you understand, from the corporate point of view are unnecessary and make it more difficult to increase the bottom line.  The Republicans further said they were going to destroy our health care, our social security, our wetlands and our parklands.  Anything that stood in the way of the rich becoming richer was fair game.

The Republicans told us exactly what they were going to do!

The sad part is that the people believed them.  When the Republicans said Social Security was broke (which was a big lie), the people panicked and said it must be fixed and the Republicans smiled and set about to destroy the system and replace it with another system geared, not to help the people, but the rich get richer!  When the Republicans said business regulations were bad because the poor corporations couldn't create jobs with all these restrictions, the people believed them.  Soon, however, the people will discover they cannot trust the drugs they take, the food they eat, the water they drink, the cars they drive, the gas they put into their cars, the insulation in their houses, the pesticides on their lawns, or the air they breathe!  And because the Republicans have officially denied modern science, some Americans are going to find their homes underwater within their lifetime.

The Republicans told us exactly what they were going to do and now they're doing it!

When the Republicans said that our budget deficit was destroying our country, the people believed them, not realizing that the deficit was doing no such thing, and that the Republicans said that in order to destroy so-called "entitlement" programs such as Social Security and Medicare.  The people never did understand that if the Republicans were really concerned about the deficit they would get our military the hell out of the Middle East, and cut the most bloated part of the budget - defense spending - and increase taxes on the rich.  So the people voted in those who would destroy their world!

Global warming, about which there is conclusive scientific consensus, is officially denied by Republicans.  That denial notwithstanding, people are already feeling its effect in terms of colder winters, hotter summers and weird weather patterns around the world.  Seas are rising as polar ice caps melt.  According to Sierra magazine, arctic summer sea ice may disappear completely by 2030 which will mean the end of the polar bear, yet because of Republican pressure the Obama administration has decided polar bears do not deserve endangered species status.

The U.S. House of Representatives, controlled by the Republicans, has voted to take away the EPA's authority to regulate carbon dioxide which is the major cause of global warming.  Newt Gingrich, one of the nastiest Republicans and perhaps one of the nastiest politicians in history, wants to abolish the EPA!

Again, from Sierra magazine:  "A study in the journal NATURE suggests that global warming could tip the U.S. SOUTHWEST INTO A 'MEGA DROUGHT,' lasting as long as 1,000 years."

Some Republicans, claiming to be christians or some such, decry such studies, insisting there is a god somewhere in the sky who promised a mythological person living in the middle east thousands of years ago that the earth would never be destroyed.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, has penned an article, "Deadly Nostalgia," in the latest issue of Sierra magazine.  He takes us back to the "good old days" to which the Republicans want to return.  The Republican leadership, says Brune, misses "the America without a Clean Water Act, the one where Ohio's Cuyahoga River caught fire.  The one without a Clean Air Act, where choking smog made it impossible for New Yorkers to see 400 yards across the Hudson River."

Even though air pollution remains a huge problem in this country, "Congressional Republicans want to prevent the EPA from updating Clean Air Act standards."  And although "millions of Americans are sickened by contaminated water every year ... the GOP wants to slash this year's budget for state clean-water projects by $947 million."

Brune notes that "Asthma is epidemic among our kids.  The list of potentially cancer-causing chemicals in our drinking water keeps getting longer.  Lead, mercury, arsenic, and other toxic heavy metals are building up in our bodies...

"But guess what?  Commonsense citizens are not the ones calling the shots in Congress.  Instead, polluter-funded politicians are doing their paymasters' bidding.  For example, the largest donors to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are oil billionaires David and Charles Koch, whose many polluting businesses are regulated by the EPA.  Accordingly, a top goal of the committee is to restrict the EPA's power; 9 out of 12 Republicans on the committee have signed a Koch-sponsored pledge to prevent the EPA from limiting greenhouse-gas pollution."

A recent article by the New York Times describes how the Republicans are continuing to destroy the world on the state level.

1.  Paul LePage, governor of Maine, has a 63-point plan to gut environmental regulations.  This "great" plan would open up 3 million acres of woods for development and suspend a law that monitors toxic chemicals that might potentially show up in children's products.

That's not really a people plan.  It's a corporatists wet dream!

2.  North Carolina's Republicans put together a budget with a provision to cut by 22 % the state's environmental and natural resource department.

Not really a people plan.  A corporatists wet dream!

3.  New Jersey's Gov. Christie, "has said that the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, which preserves more than 800,000 acres of open land that supplies drinking water to more than half of New Jersey's residents, is an infringement on property rights.  Mr. Christie has moved to shift power from planning boards and government agencies to administrative judges, political appointees who, environmentalists says, tend to rule more often in favor of developers' interests."

Not really a people plan.  A corporatists wet dream!

4.  And then there's Florida, where the people elected a criminal, a modern-day fraud of monumental proportions to be governor.  The Department of Community Affairs in Florida is in charge of regulating the use of land.  It was established "to be a control on unchecked urban sprawl."  Gov. Scott wants to fire 40 of the 358 people who work there.

Also in what has become known as the weirdest state in the nation, Florida Republicans under the leadership of their criminal governor are in process of deregulating a variety of consumer protection laws.  Scott, the criminal, thinks such regulations are stifling job creation.  The people believed such nonsense and voted for him.  Actually, such regulations stifle the ability of the corporatists to increase their bottom line at the expense of the people!

Not really a people plan, but a corporatists wet dream!

The Republican Party's goal is to destroy our worlds - our physical world, the earth, and the safety nets which protect our own private worlds and allow us to live and move and have our being.  

Will the people ever wake up and realize that voting Republican is to vote for their own demise?