Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

As you are well aware, the Republicans are in a tizzy over Ebola.  They are putting the blame on the President, naturally, and if you watch or read anything from Fox News, the country is facing doom and gloom.  I even have to admit that when the President told the country that it was “unlikely” that the Ebola Virus would reach America, I was flabbergasted.  With a world economy, easy transportation from one continent to another, it was only a matter of time before it reached our shores, just like other infectious diseases before.

One man has died in Texas from the disease.  There is some controversy over how he was treated when he went to the hospital with symptoms.  Thomas Eric Duncan was the first person to develop Ebola in America.  Four other people are also being treated in American Hospitals.  Duncan is the one man in Texas who died from the disease.  He’s also the only patient who was uninsured. He turned up in a Dallas emergency room, informed the staff he was from Liberia, and was sent home with antibiotics.

Now being uninsured in Texas is nothing new.  Over 1.5 million Texans do not have any insurance since the wonderful governor, Rick Perry, refused to accept “free” Medicaid money to expand coverage in his state.  When he returned to the hospital Duncan was admitted.  He was even given an experimental drug, even though it was late.  But, he never received a blood transfusion from someone who had recovered from Ebola.  A very necessary part of the Ebola treatment.  See, the transfusion helps build immunity to the disease and helps fight it.  Duncan is the only patient who did not receive the transfusion.

“The real elephant in the room is, the man was black, he had no insurance, and therefore he was basically turned away,” Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is African-American, told the Los Angeles Times. The hospital, for its part, denies it treated Duncan differently than insured patients.

Then there is Youngor Jallah, the woman who got Duncan to the hospital when his symptoms worsened.   She says she doesn’t have Medicaid or any health insurance either.  Presumably she’s being monitored by health officials and will be treated if she becomes symptomatic, but she’s not certain. “It’s my worry … that I will be treated the same way” as Duncan, Jallah told the Los Angeles Times.

So how is Texas prepared to handle public health emergencies?  “We don’t really have a unifying construct for public health in Texas that’s comprehensive,” Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, the former commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, told the Texas Tribune.  Between 2008 and 2013, 36 percent of local health departments in Texas had to lay off staff due to budget cuts between 2008 and 2013.  It would appear they are not ready to handle public health emergencies.

But this problem goes way beyond Texas.  The two agencies who do the most work on public health and fighting infectious diseases are the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  They have had their budgets cut severely in the last few years.  The sequester cuts brought on by the Republicans, cut $1.55 billion from the budget of the National Institutes of Health, took another $300 million from the Center for Disease Control, slashed global health programs by $411 million and USAID by $289 million. The budgets drawn up by Rep. Paul Ryan and passed by the House GOP would have deepened those cuts significantly. The CDC’s budget has been cut $600 million since 2010.

“I have to tell you honestly it’s been a significant impact on us,” the NIH’s Anthony Fauci told a Senate subcommittee last week. “It has both in an acute and a chronic, insidious way eroded our ability to respond in the way that I and my colleagues would like to see us be able to respond to these emerging threats.”

This little fact isn’t being talked about in the Republican Hysteria Machine.  The agencies who do the most to protect America from infectious diseases have had their budgets cut drastically.  I don’t know how this will affect the overall containment of Ebola in America, but it certainly won’t help.

As usual, the Republicans have caused problems in protecting the public health of Americans.  Now that there is a real potential threat to that public health, they are crying about not being ready to fight it.  It is very typical of their strategy.  Cut everything that affects real people like public health.  Then when something goes wrong, blame everyone but yourselves.

The President is asking for $1 billion dollars in reprogramming money to help fight the disease in Africa, the place of origin.  He plans to build health centers and train people on the ground.  The natural theory is that if you stop it in the place of origin, it won’t spread much farther.  But, of course that isn’t good enough for Republicans.  As a matter of fact, Senator Vitter from Louisiana is violently opposed to the plan.  Why?  Because it focuses on “Africa.”

Writing to the members of the Senate Appropriations and Armed Services Committees, Vitter urged, “I ask you to oppose fully allowing the additional $1 billion in reprogramming requests until previously requested additional information is available for members of Congress to be fully briefed.” Vitter went on to assail the White House plan because, he wrote, it “focuses on Africa, and largely ignores our own borders.”

Most of the people reporting on Vitter’s letter have not focused on the wording.  Notice that he says “largely ignores our own borders.”  He doesn’t say it largely ignores our own country or our own people!  Sorry, maybe I do have a warped view of the Republicans right now, but that seems significant to me.  Nor does he ask that that money be instead transferred back to the CDC and NIH.  I wonder why.

Back when the battle raged over the ACA, many Republicans cried about what they called “death panels” being introduced into the bill.  Obviously it was a lie.  But, at the time I sarcastically wrote that the bill didn’t need a “death panel” since the Republican Party already had taken on that mantra.  Once you look at all of the facts, and listen to all of the hysteria being produced by the Republicans and their right-wing nuts, you can draw your own conclusions about the real “death panels.”

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If you are planning to drive somewhere over the 4th of July weekend, you will probably hit road construction on your drive.  Back in Chicago when I was younger, we had a saying that there were only two seasons.  Winter and Construction.  It seemed everytime you wanted to get on a major highway, there was some road construction that snarled traffic.

Bur, we also know that road construction is necessary.  In order to keep our infrastructure running, we need to repair and/or replace outdated roads and bridges.  Currently there are over 100,000 jobs going on where workers are paving roads and rebuilding bridges and modernizing our transit systems.  These projects translate to about 700,000 jobs across the country.

However, if you are also planning to drive somewhere over the Labor Day weekend, you will probably see the exact same road construction you see this weekend.  As a matter of fact, if Congress doesn’t do something soon, all road construction could come to a halt by the end of September.  The Federal Funds for these projects are running out.  Congress knows they are running out.  But, as usual, they took a vacation instead of doing something about it.

All of this work is a combination of the Federal Government and the States teaming up to pay for the construction.  The Federal Government gives States a very large chunk of the money needed to repair our transportation systems.  The Federal Fund is paid for by the 18.7 cents per gallon tax we all pay at the pump.  The problem is that with the poor condition of our roads, these costs are rising while the fund remains static.  Money is still coming in, but not fast enough.  The gas tax hasn’t been raised for over 20 years but the costs for construction have kept going up.

There is a current projected shortfall of about $8 Billion this year.  The Administration says that if nothing is done by August 1, an approximate 28% cut of all Federal Funding for these projects will have to be made.  If nothing is done by September 1, more and deeper cuts will have to be made.  At the end of September, if nothing is done, all money will stop because the government’s authority to spend money on transportation will expire.

As a result, up to 700,000 jobs are in the hands of Congress.  With the track record of the House of Representatives, that is a very frightening idea to me.

In fairness, there have been a number of proposals to help fix this problem.  The obvious one is to raise the gas tax at the pump.  That would ensure more money going into the fund.  But, in an election year, that hardly seems to be a likely solution.  Especially with the Republicans arguing against every possible rise in taxes of any kind.

The President has offered a solution that would close loopholes in the tax code, and use that money for the transportation fund.  The Republicans naturally rejected that idea.  I wonder if they had to throw up in the bathroom before taking to the mikes.  The Republican solution is, naturally, to cut spending in other programs, like the social safety net, to pay for the road construction.  As usual, they want the poor to pay for everything.

One plan even proposed to pay for the increases in transportation by shutting down the mail service on Saturdays.  Something Rep. Issa has wanted to do for a long time.  Actually he wants the Post Office to go away totally.  Republican Senators rejected this idea and it died quickly.  A real problem I see with this proposal is that the Post Office doesn’t get any money from the government.  It is run like a private company.

There was a plan to raise the tax on large trucks.  The thinking goes that large trucks cause a lot of the road damage, so they could pay a bit more.  However, because it used the word “tax”, Republicans killed it very quickly.

So, here we sit.  30 days away from the first necessary cuts to Federal Grants to States to make our roads and bridges safer, and Congress is in recess, again!  Some claim that this will get solved in time.  I am not so sure.  I don’t believe it will get solved because the Republicans are adamant against any form of tax increase.  They want to cut from social safety nets in order to pay for it.  Another reason I don’t think it will get done is because Republicans have proven time-and-again that they don’t care about the jobs of us “little people”.  They seem perfectly willing to let 700,000 people lose their jobs.  Jobs by the way, that are good paying middle-class jobs.

Both sides of the aisle have to work on this issue.  The Democrats have floated several solutions to the problem just to be shut down by the Republicans.  Republicans haven’t really offered anything except the shut down Saturday mail service plan.  From what I could find in my research on this, not one idea has come from the House Republicans.  All of the problem solving is taking place in the Senate.

But then, what is the harm in shutting down transportation construction?  It isn’t like we need those 700,000 jobs.  It isn’t like we need good roads to get our products to market.  It isn’t like we need safe bridges for our citizens to drive across.  The worse we allow our infrastructure to get, the more jobs we will lose.  Thereby allowing employers to offer $3.00 per hour for labor in order to “attract foreign investment”.  Or, as the mantra of the super rich goes, “screw the people, I got mine!”

So, when September and October rolls around and you are still driving on that stripped pavement on the highway, just drop a little thank you note to John Boehner and the Republicans.  You will probably have to send it to their district office address.  They will probably be on break again.

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The practice of the use of fracking is continuing to move along.  However, the practice is so new, we don’t know all of the side effects of the practice.  The oil and gas companies use high pressure water mixed with various chemicals, not all of which are even known by the public, to break-up shale and release the gas and/or oil trapped inside.

There have been a few law suites filed over the practice with some large compensation awarded.  Unfortunately, for the purpose of researching the practice and its effects on the environment, most come with a court mandated “gag order” so the winner cannot talk about the case.  The oil and gas companies say fracking is necessary to release more energy for the U.S.  However, as I wrote a couple of months ago, when fracking was planned on a property adjacent to the property owned by the CEO of Exxon, that was a totally different story.  He actually joined a law suite trying to stop the process.

It is important that the public be given all of the facts about fracking and its effects.  We cannot make a real determination if the practice is necessary enough to risk health and pollution issues.  But, if every state that allows fracking to take place follows Pennsylvania’s example, we may never get to the bottom of any problems.  You see, two retired members of the Pennsylvania Department of Health claim that they were forbidden to talk the drilling.

According to a damning report from NPR State Impact, the state has dealt with that lack of information about the health risks of fracking not by studying the health risks of fracking, but by ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away.  The two retired workers with the state Health Department, said employees who received phone calls from residents concerned about health risks were ordered to ignore them:

“There was a list of buzzwords we had gotten,” [Tammi Stuck, who retired from the Department of Health two years ago] said. “There were some obvious ones like fracking, gas, soil contamination. There were probably 15 to 20 words and short phrases that were on this list. If anybody from the public called in and that was part of the conversation, we were not allowed to talk to them.”

Normally, when fielding calls, Stuck would discuss the caller’s problem, ask about symptoms, and explain what services the department or other agencies could offer.

However, for drilling-related calls, Stuck said she and her fellow employees were told just to take the caller’s name and number and forward the information to a supervisor.

“And somebody was supposed to call them back and address their concerns,” she said, adding that she never knew whether these callbacks occurred.

Sometimes, Stuck said, people would call again, angry they had not heard back from anyone from the department.

…“People were saying: Where’s the Department of Health on all this?” Stuck said. “The bottom line was we weren’t allowed to say anything. It’s not that we weren’t interested.”

Marshall Deasy, who retired last June after putting in 20 years of service at the Bureau of Epidemiology in Harrisburg, said that in his office, talking about natural gas development was considered “taboo.”

reviewed research linking  air and water pollution from oil and gas drilling to a bevy of health concerns.

Of course the department spokesman denies that these call are being ignored,  and said that all complaints related to fracking are sent to the Bureau of Epidemiology. Only 51 cases have been logged, she added, and the agency has yet to find a link between drilling and illness.

This is an emerging field and requires more study to be done about health concerns.  But, since the oil and gas companies need this to be kept quiet, it seems to be working for them perfectly well.  if no health impacts have been documented in Pennsylvania, that could be because the state has yet to conduct even one study dedicated to this purpose. Of the over $630 million the state has raised through its impact fee, which is distributed among agencies involved in regulating drilling, one expert interviewed said that “not one penny” has been allocated to the Department of Health.

I even know of a situation where secrecy is so rampant, residents aren’t being told the whole truth.  A friend of mine lives in another state where fracking is taking place.  He lives in an area where drilling is ongoing.  He told me that if his neighbor’s well gets contaminated from the drilling, neither the neighbor nor the company involved in the drilling are allowed to tell him so he can test his well water.  As a result, he is forced to pay for water quality testing out-of-pocket to ensure his family is safe.

The secrecy surrounding fracking needs to stop.  Yes, it is a new practice.  Yes, the oil and gas companies call it “safe”.  Yet they are paying out millions of dollars in claims against them.  For example, in Dallas, a jury recently awarded a family $3 million for damage caused by drilling near their property, including “physical pain and suffering.”  So, like everything else, there are consequences and harmful effects caused by fracking.  Shouldn’t we have the full story on this?

The Republican Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Corbett likes to talk about transparency.  Shouldn’t that transparency include the practice of fracking?  Apparently, in his state the answer is no.  People’s health should never be a political football to be punted.

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The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety focused on new EPA standards for reducing emissions from power plants.  During the hearing four Republican former EPA Chiefs testified at the hearing.  These four all served under Republican Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and both Bush’s.

“We believe there is legitimate scientific debate over the pace and effects of climate change, but no legitimate debate over the facts of the earth’s warming or over man’s contribution,” said William Ruckelshaus, who served as the EPA administrator under both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

When it came to discussing the issue as to whether or not the EPA has the authority to act on greenhouse gas emissions, Christine Todd Whitman said “The issue has been settled. EPA does have the authority.  The law says so, and the Supreme Court has said so twice. The matter should be put to rest. … My hope is the primary focus will be on the substance of the proposed rule and not EPA’s broad authority to promulgate it.”

Lee Thomas, who served as administrator during Reagan’s second term, and William Reilly, who served under George H.W. Bush, also testified at Wednesday’s hearing.  All four former Directors expressed support for the action taken by the EPA.  “They’ve been as creative as I’ve ever seen them be,” Whitman said in a meeting with reporters just before the hearing. “They’ve really made an effort. They’ve really gone out of their way to try to make it a workable rule.”  “My sense is they’ve built in as much flexibility as possible,” Thomas said in the meeting.

But, of course the testimony of these four former Directors of the EPA fell on the deaf ears of the Republicans on the sub-committee.  It even brought out the usual denials and claims of economic doom if the rules hold.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) argued that the rules would have “serious economic consequences” while providing “no measurable impact on climate change.” He also said he’s “frustrated” by the “cartoonish” and “outlandish” claims that proponents of climate action make to dismiss critics of the science. Vitter has previously called evidence cited to support climate change “ridiculous pseudo-science garbage.”

Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) criticized “expensive, big-government, left-wing climate policies.” Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) accused the EPA of trying to “force Americans to live out the president’s green dream.”   But Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) topped them all when he declared that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.  “I would say CO2 is a different kettle of fish,” said Sessions. “It’s plant food. It’s not a pollutant in any normal definition.”  Well, when there is too much of it, plants can’t eat it all, so what does the rest do?  It becomes a greenhouse gas and warms the planet.

So, who did the Republicans listen to during the hearing?  Their witnesses of course.  The Republicans called three witnesses for the hearing: a biologist who argues that climate change is not significantly affected by human activity; the attorney general of Alabama, who has fought other EPA actions in court; and an economist who criticized cap-and-trade (a policy previously debated in Congress to address climate change, but not, in fact, the policy that the EPA has put in place).

Following the hearing, Reilly appeared to have expected the Republican response.

“I wasn’t surprised by their positions. I am surprised at the continued refusal to believe that the science is as it is claimed to be by 11 national academies of science,” said Reilly. “If you don’t like the IPCC, there are many other choices for authoritative science. … When I was in office I made it a rule to follow the science. Well, the science is pretty clear.”

And, just to be clear, they also broke their own complaint about using people as a “back-drop” against the President.  The room was filled with coal miners from Alpha Natural Resources and Murray Energy, who had been bussed into town overnight from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania for the hearing.

We have four former Republican Directors of the EPA who are arguing that climate change is real.  They all say that man is contributing to it.  And, that something needs to be done before it is too late.  They also agree that the EPA, under current laws and two previous Supreme Court Rulings, does have the authority to impose restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.  And, finally, who actually brought the EPA into existence?  Richard Nixon!

Yet the EPA has been a favorite punching bag for the Republican Party.  The major difference now is that they are ignoring all of the scientific facts to fight what the EPA is doing.  They ignore the facts, because they don’t fit the Republican’s brand of reality.  To the Republicans reality is something that the “little people” have to deal with.  If anything might affect the Republican pocketbook, then it isn’t reality to them.

The American people have spoken again.  The majority of the American people, in recent polls, say something needs to be done about climate change.  The majority of Americans are willing, again according to recent polls, to pay a little more for electricity in order to reduce carbon dioxide and pollution emissions.

Rather than using the situation for real good, the Republicans are stuck supporting their big donors, namely the fossil fuel industries.  Rather than taking the matter seriously and looking to create more renewable, clean energy which could create possibly millions of new, non-outsourceable jobs, they stick to their fantasy world.  Why bother about climate change that will make the planet extremely tough to live on in the future?  These Republicans will be dead.  They are not responsible for our children or grandchildren.  They are only responsible to the fossil fuel industries who fund their coffers.

I wish that Sen. Sessions would be around when Mobile, Al. disappears because of rising seas.  I would love to hear him explain to the people of Mobile how that was all an illusion caused by false science.  The seas really didn’t flood out their homes and businesses, fake science did.  But, then when you consider that parts of Miami, Fl. already floods during times of a full moon and high tide together because of rising sea levels you see that it doesn’t matter to the Republicans.  They still argue that isn’t happening.

As I watch Republican lawmakers try to make science the real enemy, I keep being reminded of the three monkeys.  You see, to the Republicans, science is evil.  It flies in the face of their fantasies and money donors.  As a result, whenever they need to talk about science they simply sit and put their hands over their eyes, ears, and mouths and mumble, “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”  All the while their puppet masters are pulling their strings.

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Sometimes I have joked that it seems like the whole world has taken a “stupid pill”.  I know, it is probably wrong of me to criticize people for their beliefs, which I try not to do.  However, when people start acting “stupid”, I think it is fair to point out their mistakes.  That isn’t criticizing their beliefs, it is calling them out for their errors.

We have a myriad of problems facing our country today.  Yet, there are some people who simply want to whitewash them.  They seem to long for the “good ole days” or “glory days”.  They seem to not want to face reality.  That is “stupid” no matter what your political slant may be.  If we do not face our problems, we are doomed to live in mediocrity at best.  Maybe that is what these people want.

Yes, I am referring to the “conservative movement” on the other side of the political spectrum.  It isn’t hard to see why they refuse to look reality in the eye and make changes that are needed.  By definition, conservatism is stuck in the past.  That is what conservatism is all about, and what is wrong with it.  It wants to return to the “glory days” they remember.  Problem is when you look back on the “glory days”, they weren’t always so glorious.

I realize that I have a slanted view of the world.  In my youth, I was actually called a “radical”.  My son now calls me slightly left of center.  It just goes to show how much the scale can move over time.  Or, rather how much the definitions of words can change over time.  And, that is the real problem today.  That is what is at the heart of the stagnation in Washington and all across the country.  That and the fact that conservatives live in a fantasy world that can be called “stupid”.

The real irony in all of this is that the “glory days” these conservatives claim they want to return to were actually anything but conservative.  They were times when America was reaching for the stars both figuratively and literally.  They were times of innovation.  They were times of creative thought.  They were times of change for the better.

In those days, the labor movement was strong.  Approximately 40% of the workforce belonged to a union.  The middle-class was thriving and most people were happy, more or less.  It was also the times of the Civil Rights Movement and the start of the Woman’s Movement.  It was when President Kennedy said we should put a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth before the end of the decade.  And, we did.

They were also very troubling times.  We were suffering through the Vietnam war.  Young people were rebelling against the establishment.  African-Americans gained most civil rights but at a dear price.  There was a lot of backlash against the Woman’s Movement.  There were protests in the streets.  A President was assassinated.  Another President resigned from office in disgrace.

We went through very rough economic times starting with the oil embargo.  We witnessed long lines at the gas station.  People began to think that the future could not possibly be better than the past.  Yes, those were the so-called “glory days” that conservatives claim they want to return to.

The problem they face is that they don’t want to return to the good aspects of those times.  They don’t want to return to the times of innovation and creative thought.  They don’t want to return to the times when we fought for civil rights of everyone.  They don’t want to return to a thriving middle-class or to unions.  They, apparently want to return to their “good ole days” of Jim Crowe.  They would rather see corporations hiring thugs to bust unions than allow the working class a fair wage for their labor.

They claim that they want to return to the Reagan Years.  They are still hawking the discredited theory that lowing taxes on the rich “trickles down” to the masses.  They are still hawking the theory that unions are the root cause of economic problems.  They are still hawking the old ideas that whites are superior to other races but with much “softer” language.  They are still hawking the adage that a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

Their “base”, led by the Conservative Christian Cult, denies climate change, or at least that man is contributing to it.  They deny evolution. Hell, they deny science.  They deny creative thought.  They prefer to raise a generation that “listens to what they are told” instead of formulating their own ideas.  They are against civil rights.  They are against women’s rights.  They are against gay rights.  They want to live in a world where everyone does exactly what they “tell” them to do.  If you go against their ideals, you are un-American.

Yes, the far right thinks that we should not be able to think for ourselves.  They are led by the Canadian Senator Ted Cruz, the faux Libertarian Rand Paul, and the Xenophobic Congresswoman Michelle Bachman and the Heritage Foundation.  These are their heroes.  These are the people who want to fundamentally take away civil rights.  Who want to stop education in its tracks and raise a “stupid” generation.  Why else would they defund public education as they have if that was not their goal?

They are the people who say they are fighting for “liberty” and then vote to take away those “liberties” from anyone who is different from them.  They are the ones who say they want a “bigger tent” and accept minorities yet continue to stall immigration reform and pass voter suppression laws.  These “small government” people want to dictate what a woman can choose or not choose when it comes to their health decisions.  Instead of relying on the woman’s decision after consultation with her doctor, they want the state to determine the course of action she is allowed.  Of course they justify all of this by claiming they are doing “god’s will”.

They claim to be “fighting for what the American People want”, yet they continuously vote against bills that the vast majority of the American People want passed.  Their solution to fair pay is not to raise the Federal Minimum Wage, but to eliminate it.  They want to deny millions of Americans proper health insurance.  They are quick to blame the victim in cases of rape and incest.

In essence, what these people are doing is taking their daily dose of “stupid pills”.  In and by itself, that doesn’t bother me too much.  What does bother me is that they want the rest of America to take “stupid pills” with them.  Unfortunately, the far right and their allies the Conservative Christian Cult have renewed their prescriptions.  Maybe it is time to see them for what they really are.  Stupid!

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We have heard it time-after-time.  John Boehner standing in front of the cameras stating very emphatically, “we are trying to do what the American People want!”  It doesn’t matter what the topic of the day is either.  He insists that his party is only trying to do what the people want them to do.

We have seen just how much he is willing to do what the people want.  First, there are the many polls that show up to 80% of the American People want universal background checks when purchasing a firearm.  So, do we have it?  Nope.  John Boehner won’t bring it up on the floor for a vote.  Then poll-after-poll show that the over 70% of the American People want Immigration Reform.  Again, we don’t have it.  Why?  Because John Boehner won’t bring up the Senate passed “Gang of Eight” legislation for a vote.  Other bills that the American People “want” according to the polls are things like the Transportation and Infrastructure Bill, Raising the Federal Minimum Wage, and Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

His latest “we are only trying to do what the American People want” is the new EPA Rules that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal powered power plants.  He called them “a sucker punch to the American People.”  Mitch McConnell called them “a stab into the chest of the middle-class”.  Well, John, since 2008 the polls indicate that 70% of the American People favor such regulations.  It seems that the American People want a reduction in greenhouse gasses.

So with such a track record of “doing what the American People want”, just who is Mr. Boehner speaking about when he says “the American People?”  I believe it is obvious that he is not speaking about the “average” American.  They support all of these measures but he still won’t bring them to the floor for a vote.

He is not alone in this either.  The right-wing is in a total tizzy about the new regulations.  The Republicans have dusted off the old “war on coal” slogan.  They have dusted of the “fascist EPA” brand again.  So, if 70% of the American People want a reduction in greenhouse gasses, why is John Boehner and the Republican Party so upset by these new regulations?

All you have to do is look at the donor lists of the Republican Party and the Conservative PACs to find the answer.  The “American People” Mr. Boehner keeps wanting to please is the top 1%.  More specifically in the EPA Rules, billionaire owners of fossil fuel corporations like the Koch Brothers.  These people make their fortunes in fossil fuels.  Anything that affects their profits is a bad thing, and Mr. Boehner is willing to risk the entire climate of the globe in order to make them happy.

Republicans keep saying that Climate Change is a myth.  They continue to deny that burning fossil fuels increases CO2 emissions which is causing the climate to warm up.  Even though there are streets in Miami that suffer flooding every time there is a full moon at the same time of a high tide.  See, the sea levels are already rising, and when there is a full moon and high tide at the same time, some streets in Miami flood so bad people can’t get out of their houses.  But, that is all part of the environmentalists “agenda”, not something real that affects real people.

They even have come up with a new twist to their denials.  First they talk very pointedly about how climate change is a myth, then when questioned about their claims, they simply respond by saying “I am not a scientist”.  Well, if you are not a scientist, wouldn’t it be a good idea to listen to the people who are?  Despite their claims otherwise, over 97% of scientists believe and state emphatically that burning fossil fuels is changing our climate!  If these Republicans are not scientists, shouldn’t they listen to the 97% of “scientists” who are giving them the facts?

But then, if they did listen to the experts or the American People, they might have to change their mind.  They might have to actually support limiting greenhouse gasses and help save our planet.  They can’t do that.  That would mean the Kochs would be very angry with them.  That means they may not get the millions of dollars in contributions from fossil fuel supporters.  That means they might actually stand for something real.  Since they aren’t throwing snowballs in hell yet, I don’t see that happening anytime soon!

No, John Boehner and the Republican Party do not believe that the average American is part of the “American People”.  If they did, we would have passed bills like Universal Background Checks, Transportation and Infrastructure, ENDA, Raising the Federal Minimum Wage, and even support for the new EPA Regulations.  But, since only the people from the top 1% who contribute to their campaigns are “the American People” these bills have no chance of coming up for a vote.

No, the Republican Party has proven over the last six years that they do not care what “the American People want.”  They only care about what the 1% want.  I really feel sorry for anyone who still believes their hype about “just trying to do what the American People want.”  For a major American Political Party to fall so low into hypocrisy and falsehoods is truly tragic.  But, that is what happens when money is allowed to openly “buy elections”.  And, the Republicans have been “for sale” for quite a while now.


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So, yesterday, Mr. Boehner returned from his most recent “recess” from his duties in Congress. He stepped up to the microphone and stated that all around Ohio people asked him the same question. “Where are the Jobs?” That is a good question. Well, most people who have watched politics for some time already know where the jobs are. They are in China, Vietnam, Korea, Mexico, etc.

Why are the jobs in these places? Well, there are several reasons. One reason is that the governments of these countries subsidize their major exporting companies to keep prices artificially low. They are there because American Owned companies shut down factories in America and ship the jobs overseas. They do this in the name of higher profits because wages are much lower in these countries.

Since Bill Clinton pushed through NAFTA, America has been loosing jobs hand-over-fist. Both parties are guilty of these “free trade agreements” getting passed. But whereas most Democrats have voted against them, none of the current sitting Republicans have.  They are the driving force behind these “free trade agreements”.

First there was NAFTA. Then there was one with Korea. Now, there is the Tran Pacific Protocol (TPP). This is another “free trade agreement” that will open up most of Asia to “free trade”. Meaning more American jobs will be lost.

There is also a law on the books that doesn’t get much ink in the press. It is called the Fair Trade Act. Under this act, American industry is supposed to be protected against illegal and unfair “dumping” of products on the American market. Problem is, it is rarely used to stop such dumping.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has a report out detailing the threat the American Steel Industry is under due to illegal dumping of cheap steel into the American market. There is nothing short of 583,000 middle-class jobs at stake. That is how many jobs the American Steel Industry supports.

The top 10 states—ranked by total number of jobs at risk from displaced domestic steel production—are Texas (59,800 jobs supported), California (52,300 jobs), Pennsylvania (35,300 jobs), Ohio (33,900 jobs), Illinois (28,400 jobs), Indiana (26,000 jobs), New York (25,100 jobs), Florida (23,200 jobs), Michigan (20,100 jobs), and Wisconsin (15,700 jobs).

Do you see that Mr. Boehner? Ohio is about to lose 33,900 jobs in the Steel Industry because of unfair trade practices! What are you going to do about it?

According to the EPI, American Steel Industry is under attack by countries using excess steel production to “dump” in America. The report states:

Global excess steel capacity is now over half a billion metric tons, more than twice the volume of excess capacity in the last steel import crisis that followed the Asian financial crisis more than a decade ago. While China accounts for more than a third of global excess capacity, there is also significant overcapacity in South Korea, India, and elsewhere. With more additions planned overseas and a continued slow recovery in demand, the excess capacity problem is not projected to be resolved any time soon.

Excess capacity means that steel production facilities have the capacity to produce much more steel than the market demands. High fixed costs, capital intensity, and the large scale of steelmaking encourages state-backed producers with excess capacity to maintain production in excess of domestic demand, and export the surplus at below-market rates.

The glut of exports from global excess steel supply is targeted in particular at the U.S. market. U.S. steel imports increased from 28.5 million net tons in 2011 to 32.0 million net tons in 2013, an increase of 12.3 percent. Imports have increased not only in absolute terms, but also relative to domestic production and consumption, seizing more of the U.S. market and thwarting the domestic industry’s efforts to recover from the Great Recession.

U.S. steel imports surged even more sharply in the first two months of 2014, hitting 6.4 million net tons, an increase of 24.5 percent over the same period in 2013. Domestic shipments declined 0.9 percent over the same period. Consequently, the import share of the domestic market increased 4.5 percentage points in January–February 2014 (an increase of 18.5 percent over the same period in 2013).

Evidence that imported steel prices are falling, and falling unfairly, can be found in the declining sales price of imports (now underselling comparable domestic products) and the rapid growth in the number of unfair trade complaints filed in the past year. The average unit value of imported steel declined $259 per ton (23.1 percent) between 2011 and January–February 2014. U.S. steel producers filed 40 antidumping and countervailing duty petitions in 2013 and the first two months of 2014, the largest volume of trade cases in steel since 2001.

So, as you can see, other countries are using government backed steel production companies to make an excess of cheap steel.  Then they are dumping that cheap steel into the U.S. Market at unfair prices.  The only result of this will be the total elimination of the American Steel Industry and the loss of 583,000 jobs!

It goes on to say:

The excess capacity plaguing the steel industry stems largely from massive government support for, and direct government involvement in, the steel industry in other countries. In 2011, half of the world’s 46 top steel companies were state-owned, and these state-owned companies accounted for 38 percent of global production. These governments view their steel industries as strategic (i.e., important to grow regardless of profit), and thus governments provide a wide array of subsidies to their steel industries, including grants, tax breaks, subsidized loans and debt forgiveness, the provision of inputs at below market rates, direct equity infusions, and more. These factors lead to “uneconomic additions to capacity”—increases in capacity that don’t make economic sense because they are not driven by demand.

U.S. imports of unfairly traded steel products are increasing as countries such as China and others sell dumped and subsidized “upstream” (basic) steel products to other countries, which use these inputs in the “downstream” (finished) products, like pipes, that they sell to the U.S. China and Korea accounted for more than three-fourths (77.9 percent) of the growth in global steel exports between 2003 and 2012. Imports of Chinese steel by South Korea and Japan rose sharply between 2009 and 2012; Korea and Japan, in turn, are themselves major exporters to the U.S.

Aggressive government support, coupled with the industry’s capital-intensive nature (i.e., its difficulty ramping down production to handle drops in demand) leads to the kinds of trade distortions (overcapacity, export surges) now threatening the U.S. market. The last time this happened, in the early 2000s following the 1998 Asian financial crisis, trade remedies served as a vital line of defense. Trade remedies have provided significant benefits for the domestic industry and its workers, including resurgent shipments and sales revenue, improved operating performance, retained jobs, and the ability to make needed capital investments. In cases where relief is denied, the costs have been just as great, in some cases forcing the industry to endure additional years of injury before finally obtaining needed relief, or, worse, going out of business.

Trade remedies are once again critical to the industry’s survival. U.S. steel producers filed 40 antidumping and countervailing duty petitions in 2013 and the first two months of 2014, covering nine products from 18 different countries. Determinations in these cases will be made later this year and in early 2015. Over 14,000 workers, producing the affected steel products in 92 locations across 29 states, depend on effective relief in these cases alone.

I am not stupid.  I know that American Companies need to have access to other markets.  But, I also understand that we cannot afford to let these “free trade agreements” trump our Fair Trade Act.  We need to protect our companies from illegal dumping whenever we can.  This happened in the early 2000s.  In 2006, under the Fair Trade Act, we were able to stem the tide.  Then came the Great Recession.  The Steel Industry is just beginning to crawl back.  Now, they are losing money again due to this “illegal dumping” of steel into the market.

This is just one example of how the American Worker is facing unfair competition from the outside world.  Congress is doing nothing about it either.  As a matter of fact, Mr. Boehner wants “fast track” authority for the TPP.  Most Americans don’t even know what the TPP is.  They don’t understand what is in it because all of the negotiations have been done in secret.  Hell, even members of Congress admit they don’t know what is in it.

One thing is almost certain.  If TPP passes, we will lose more American Jobs.  We will see more factories shut down and move to countries like China and Vietnam.  By the way, the average pay for a worker in Vietnam is about 25 cents per hour.  Maybe that is what Mr. Boehner wants for America.

The next time your representative holds a “town meeting” go and attend.  Ask them why nothing is being done to stop the “illegal dumping” of steel imports into the U.S.  Ask them if they support another “free trade agreement” that will cost Americans their jobs.  Ask them why they support adding jobs in China and Vietnam and not in the U.S.

I am willing to bet they will talk about the “free market”.  They will tell you that these agreements will open up export markets for American companies.  They won’t tell you that these same companies will ship your job overseas, too.

So, Mr. Boehner, to answer your question, the jobs are overseas because you refuse to protect American Jobs.  They are overseas because you and your party seem to think that the “free market” means that American Jobs can be lost due to unfair trade practices by other countries.  They are overseas simply because you and your party do not care about the American Worker.  If you did, you would at least take steps to save our Steel Industry and the 583,000 jobs, 33,000 of which are in your state!

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of China, Korea, Vietnam, and the Republican Party shitting on the American Worker!

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