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The FCC ruled on its net neutrality decision.  The new regulations bar companies such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from blocking or slowing online traffic, or offering faster service in return for payment.  The idea is to ensure that the internet remains open to everyone.

The FCC vote seeks to settle more than a decade of debate about whether the Internet should be a highway offered to all users on equal terms, or whether broadband providers can levy fees and restrict access.

Of course, Republicans are against net neutrality.  Or, at least the type where companies can’t slow down or charge extra for faster service.  House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said lawmakers would try to stop what he called the FCC’s “misguided scheme.”

The vote also brought wireless service under net neutrality rules as well.  That didn’t sit well with Meredith Attwell Baker, president of CTIA-The Wireless Association, a Washington-based trade group with members including AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc., who said the ruling was  “disappointing and unnecessary.”

Under this ruling, the agency has taken authority to judge whether Internet service providers offer fair terms for accepting Web traffic from the likes of video streamer Netflix Inc. and data shippers such as Cogent Communications Holdings Inc. and Level 3 Communications Inc.

It also allows the agency to judge mobile deals that exempt services such as music streaming from counting against subscribers’ data caps. The agency can accept complaints and might ban an anti-competitive plan.  Venture capitalists had told the FCC that these deals violate the concept that all Web traffic should receive equal treatment.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said:  “The action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the Internet.”  Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak was one of the people in the spectator gallery and said that this action is “an indication that the people can sometimes win.”  He went on to say “This is a victory for the people, the consumers, the average Joes.”

You may wonder why the Republicans are so against this ruling?  Well it is very simple.  They only see dollars and cents for their contributors.  If internet providers are allowed to decide which sites will be in their infamous “fast lane” and which will be slowed down, the internet providers will essentially be allowed to control what you see or get on the internet.

You will hear the Republicans complain that all of this is “government overreach” and that is why they are against it.  They are lying.  They want companies to control the highway known as the internet.  They want to be able to bully certain providers to say what can be seen and what cannot.

Republican legislatures all across the country are slashing education funding including university funding.  They have been attacking education like it is a cancer that is making our citizens too smart.  The internet offers open access to sites that help us learn more about today’s world.  With an intelligent constituency, Republicans fear their “fear mongering” won’t work anymore.  So, they want to put the clamp down on the internet as well as public education.

Since the internet and wireless are both monopolies, it would be easy to bully them into doing just that.  This isn’t just about streaming like Netflix, it is about education as well.  As a result, they want internet providers and wireless providers to be able to charge extra for internet users to get into their “fast lane” so their streaming will not be hindered.

How long do you think it would be before special interest groups started bullying internet providers to “slow down” or deny access through their services to users who do not comply with their ideals?  The AP History curriculum is under attack in several states.  What would stop them from bullying or passing a law that denies access to the very parts of the curriculum they don’t like over the internet?

We will see various lawsuits over this ruling.  We will see Republicans introduce legislation trying to overturn this ruling.  As David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, said the FCC action portends “inevitable litigation and years of regulatory uncertainty.”

The real problem for Republicans in this ruling is that these rules are designed to preserve the Internet as an open medium.  Open mediums are not what the Republicans want.  They want control.  They are even willing to let internet providers be their arm for control over what’s on the internet.

This fight isn’t over.  We still have too many conservative judges , even a conservative Supreme Court, that can overturn these rulings.  Only time will tell if they stand or not.  If they do, then the people have finally won one over the oligarchs and Republicans.

 

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There has been an awful lot written about Brian Williams and his fall from grace at NBC News.  When it first came out that he “exaggerated” his helicopter flight in 2003 when he said they had been fired on, I thought: What was he thinking?”  This was the nightly anchor for a major network’s news reporting.  He needn’t exaggerate anything.  He wasn’t there to show how brave he was.  He was there to report the news.

But you see, that is what is wrong with the nightly news today.  Rather than simply reporting what happened, news reporters believe they should become part of the story.  Worse, if there isn’t anything “sexy” to report, then something needs to be made up.

The real issue in all of this is integrity.  If news reporters have no integrity, they have no right to be on the air.  I don’t care who they are either.  If Williams is guilty of exaggerating other stories, he deserves to be fired, not just suspended.  But, Williams is just a symptom of the problem, not the cause.

Brian Williams is not alone in this either.  When Ronald Reagan got the part about, equal time, dropped from the airways, the real problems in reporting began in earnest.  As you my remember, if a news organization, or TV station said something political, then the other side was given the right, by law, to respond to those comments.  Reagan got that little law erased.

With that erasure, people like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, and others started hitting the airways.  It was simple.  Since they did not have to offer air time to their opponents, they could simply say whatever they wanted and get a way with it.  The unfortunate side effect of this was that it began to bleed into “regular” news outlets as well.

With the success of those “talk radio” hosts, Fox News was invented.  It claimed to be “fair and balanced” but we all know that isn’t true.  Unless you believe that “fair and balanced” means you attack anything that isn’t male, white and rich.  As a result of all of this, we have seen our nightly news on the major networks become something other than news.  It has fallen into the trap of “entertainment” which is what the conservative media really is.

When you become entertainment, you lose sight of what your real purpose is.  You lose tract that you are supposed to “report the news” and not become a part of it.  It really doesn’t matter if you lean left or right as a person.  You are supposed to simply report the news without a bias.  Yes, that is hard to do, but it has been done in the past.

We remember news anchors like Cronkite, Smith, Brinkley, and Huntley.  These people understood their jobs.  They didn’t need to overly dramatize what was happening.  But, as with all things, times change and people change.  As a result, the news has changed, too.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of seeing news people on-screen showing “deep emotions” whenever a tragedy occurs.  I am tired of news reporters standing in front of some scene of tragedy with tears in their eyes blubbering about “how terrible this was.”  We already know how terrible it was.  But that is what happens when news becomes entertainment.

The news is supposed to let us know what is happening in our world.  It is supposed to give us information so we can make up our own minds when it comes to politics or issues.  It is not supposed to be our decision maker.  It is not supposed to “entertain” us.

I can remember only two times when the past news anchors showed emotion on air.  Once when JFK was killed, and the other was when we landed on the moon.  Unfortunately, showing emotion and becoming part of the story is common-place today.

I am not trying to pile on the Brian Williams bashing bandwagon.  I don’t know what his motivation was, and frankly I don’t care.  Rather, I am simply saying that Brian Williams is a product of today’s news organizations trying to be entertaining instead of informative.  That is no more evident than Bill O’Reilly defending him on the Kimmel Show the other day.  But then, when you make a living fabricating the news for your living, it is easy to defend someone else who fabricated a story.

The Brian Williams issue simply shows a light on how bad the nightly news has become.  It places a spotlight on everything that is wrong with today’s news.  News is news, it is not entertainment!  When the networks and other news organizations come back to that simple reality, maybe we will get nightly news that is worth watching again.

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It is time to wake up, the cows have finally come home!  With unbelievable timing, the Republicans suddenly have shown us a “replacement” to the Affordable Care Act.  Well, “replacement” is about all I could call it.  It is not very pretty.

The proposal was devised by Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the chairman of the Finance Committee; Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee; and Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, a member of the Finance and Health committees.

One of the biggest reasons they decided to put their proposal forward is that they anticipate, as many people do, that the Roberts Court will gut the subsidies from the Affordable Care Act later this year.  Since almost everyone who will lose their subsidies, and therefore their insurance, are in Republican controlled states, they figured they better come up with something.  Plus they want to be able to argue against Democrats who say they haven’t got a plan.

I am sure you are all anxiously waiting to hear what is inside their “plan.”  So, here are some of the key points:

It will eliminate the mandate that individuals must have insurance and employers must offer it to employees or pay a penalty.  “If consumers do not want to buy coverage, they don’t have to,” according to a document describing the Republican plan.  That means we go back to hospitals losing money because people without insurance coverage will still have to be treated without paying for it.

The plan repeals the new taxes placed on insurance companies and manufacturers of prescription drugs and medical devices.  The very taxes that pay for the subsidies many people need to afford health insurance.  Yet, the government would offer subsidies, in the form of tax credits, for the purchase of “health care coverage or services,” according to the proposal.

The subsidies would be available to people with incomes up to three times the poverty level, compared with four times the poverty level under the Affordable Care Act.  That is real nice.  But, with the taxes that pay for subsidies eliminated, how are the Republicans going to “pay for” these subsidies?  Also, it means that millions of low-income earners will lose their subsidies, and probably their insurance as well.

Under this proposal, states would be provided a “capped allotment” to finance coverage for certain Medicaid beneficiaries. Money would be allocated according to the number of poor people in each state.  Increases in future years would be tied to the CPI  plus one percentage point and would “reflect demographic and population changes.”

The proposal says “no one can be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition.”  But there are “conditions” for this coverage.  It mostly goes to people who have had continuous coverage.  They don’t define how long “continuous coverage” is.  If you have not had “continuous coverage,” you may get a one-time chance during an open-enrollment period to get coverage.  If you don’t enroll then, you are out of luck of getting that protection.

You will be able to keep your children on your insurance plan up to age 26.  That is of course if the state you live in doesn’t “opt out” of this provision.  Republicans seem to love that “opt-out” phrase.

Only the states will be able to tell insurance companies what must be covered.  In other words, things like the maternity coverage that the Federal Government says must be included in health coverage, can be eliminated if your state doesn’t want it in there.

I saved the best part for last.  I really think you are going to LOVE this part.  Or, maybe not.

Workers would have to pay federal income tax on the value of employer-provided health benefits that exceed certain annual thresholds — $12,000 for individuals and $30,000 for families. Health benefits above those levels would be treated and taxed as regular income for the employee. The thresholds would increase over time.

Employers could still take tax deductions for the cost of employee health benefits as an incentive to continue providing coverage, Republicans said. Moreover, a summary of the proposal says that “economists across the political spectrum largely agree” that the current tax break for employer-provided insurance is fueling the growth of health costs.

How about that!  Bet you didn’t know that you getting a tax break on your health insurance is fueling the growth of health costs, but the tax break your employer gets isn’t affecting the health costs.

There are the usual Republican talking points in the proposal as well.  Like tort reform, deregulating insurance companies, abortion restrictions, you know their usual laundry list.

So, there you have it.  With one fell swoop, the Republicans have a “replacement” to the Affordable Care Act.  And as expected it favors the health insurance companies and employers.  But, as usual, it punishes the people who need health coverage, mainly the American People.

This proposal is even worse than the status quo that we had before the ACA.  This plan is reportedly being backed by the Republican leadership.  I must give the conservatives some credit here.  They truly live up to the conservative credo:  “Backwards, ever backwards!!”

 

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Last week the Senate passed the Keystone XL Pipeline after the House had already passed it.  Conservatives around the country are cheering this destructive piece of legislation.  Some have even gone so far as to say “we have finally broken away from the middle east oil tit.”  TransCanada spoke up and said that the pipeline will have 42,000 “enduring” jobs.  Of course that is a flat-out lie.

It is estimated that approximately 42,000 construction jobs will be used to build the pipeline.  I like the sound of that number.  However, those 42,000 construction jobs will be gone in less than two years after the start of construction.  After the pipeline has been built, it will keep a whopping 35 jobs.

Imagine that!  If the President came up with a plan that would create 35 long-lasting jobs, the conservatives would be having a fit.  But, since creating those 35 long-lasting jobs is their idea, they are overjoyed with the prospect.  It is even dubious, from TransCanada’s own statements in the past, that 42,000 construction jobs would be created with the pipeline.  Some estimates have it at less than 30,000.

I know I have written about this project quite a bit in the past, but it is time to bring up some points again.  Some of the points we discussed in the past even go against conservative “land ownership rights” stances.

First.  The Keystone XL Pipeline WILL NOT break us from the Middle East Oil Tit!  All of the oil that is scheduled to be sent through this pipeline is destined for Europe and/or China.  We will not be “Importing Oil From A Friend” we will simply be the roadway that gets it shipped overseas.  Therefore, THERE WILL BE NO BENEFIT to American gas and oil supplies!

Second.  TransCanada has a history of leaks in their pipelines.  Their pipes leak all of the time.  The biggest concern in this area is that the Pipeline will traverse over the largest fresh water aquifer in the U.S.  This aquifer is under several states in the Midwest.  This is where millions of people get their drinking water.  It is also where farmers get their irrigation water for their fields.

If a leak occurs, and TransCanada’s record indicates it will, and it seeps into the aquifer, millions of people will have to drink contaminated water.  There is no way to clean up an oil spill in an underground aquifer.  Not only that, but farmers will not be able to use the aquifer to irrigate their crops because that would contaminate our food supply.

Third.  In order to make the pipeline happen, a foreign company is being allowed to use “Eminent Domain” laws to force land owners to give up their land for the pipeline.  Eminent Domain is supposed to be used only when there is a great public need or for safety purposes.  This pipeline does not meet either of these criteria.

On top of that, the land owner is the only people that is at risk should something happen.  TransCanada has written the agreements in such a way that the land owner will be held responsible completely if there is a leak in TransCanada’s pipeline.  If a leak occurs, TransCanada will find some lame excuse to blame the land owner.  Like they shouldn’t have driven their harvester so close to the pipeline.  There are even cases where the pipeline will be less and 250 feet from the owner’s primary residence!

Even if, after years of legal haggling, the land owner is found faultless, it will be too late and they will have gone bankrupt.  The land owners who are affected by the pipeline have filed suit against the use of Eminent Domain in this case.  They claim that Eminent Domain cannot be used to forcefully make them give up their land for the pipeline.  These legal cases should tie up the pipeline for years.

There are a lot of other reasons for this pipeline NOT to be built.  There is one big reason that conservatives, and especially the Tea Party want it to be built.  The name of that reason is the Koch Brothers!  The Koch Brothers through their Koch Industries, own a substantial part of the Tar Sands Oil from which this oil is coming.  Since they are the largest contributors to conservatives and the Tea Party, this boondoggle is extremely important to them, and therefore must be made real.

Of course none of the pipeline will traverse any of the Koch Brothers property.  How convenient.  It reminds me of the Exxon Oil executive who briefly joined an anti-fracking lawsuit in Texas saying that fracking was hurting his property’s value.  Of course when his participation in the suit became public, he backed away.

Maybe we should reroute the pipeline so it crossed the Koch Brothers property!  If they are certain that it won’t cause any harm to the land or environment, they should be proud to have it cross their land.  Wouldn’t you call that leadership through example?  Don’t hold your breath!

Everyone who is touting the benefits of the Keystone XL Pipeline are simple “snake oil” salesmen.  The pipeline holds no value to the U.S. only risks.  It will NOT affect our oil supply since it is all earmarked to be exported.  It will NOT create thousands of permanent jobs, only 35.  It takes away land from farmers and others, not for the public good, but to enrich a foreign corporation.

That is why the President must veto this lousy piece of legislation!

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Well, the 2016 campaign, at least on the Republican side, is officially on.  Many of the people who think they would make an excellent President went to Iowa last weekend for Rep. Steve King and Citizens United “Freedom Summit.”  This is the Tea Party’s dog-and-pony show for the most Conservative Candidates.  But the party was very limited in scope since Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Bobby Jindal, et al were not present.  As a matter of fact, King called the non-attendees “second stringers.”

One thing that all of the candidates railed against was Common Core.  Yes, they all went on about the “exceptionalism” of America, but they all seem to think that education is not part of that “exceptionalism.”  They are wrong.  Among the candidates were people like Scott Walker who is trying to kill unions in Wisconsin, especially the teacher’s unions.  Then there was Chris Christie who gutted $1 Billion from New Jersey’s education budget and laid-off thousands of teachers.

I believe there is an extreme weakness in the American Education Process.  It is what the right calls “local control” of our schools.  There was a time when I can see that “local control” of the schools was important.  But, as times have changed, local control of schools has actually hurt education more than it has helped.  In fact it my opinion that “local control” is killing education in America.

When America was young, people did not travel around much.  It was an agrarian society.  People went to school for fundamentals, but were expected to work the fields after they graduated.  As we moved into the twentieth century and urban centers more evolved, manufacturing became another place where people were expected to work.  As a result, global economics and even intra-state commerce were never considered in educating children.

Back in the 50s and 60s when I attended school, most people who graduated either went into the fields, factories, fishing boats, or other such occupations.  Yet, most children in those days could point to a map and tell you where Portugal was on it.  We all learned about reading, writing, and arithmetic, but we also learned about science, geography and history.  Everyone received an education that would make them eligible for college if that was their choice.

Many high schools also offered career oriented classes like shop.  If you were disinclined to attend college, you could learn a trade that would pay you a living wage.  Whether people want to believe it or not, there were national standards that had to be mastered.

With today’s global economy, it is not proper to let local communities determine the curricula for the schools anymore.  There are still areas in the country where people who graduate from school are still expected to work the fields, factory, or fishing boats, etc.  They have no concern about the global economy their children will be expected to live and survive in.

“American Exceptionalism” as the right likes to talk about is based on the ability of our citizens to be more productive and, basically, smarter than our competition.  Innovation, research, invention are all items necessary to continue to outpace the competition in the world.  With “local control” of our elementary and high school education, we are losing those competitive advantages.

The primary purpose of education is to prepare our children for the real world.  We must educate them in things like literature, science, math, history, and even geography.  Without these skills, they are at a disadvantage in the real world.  Besides, without these skills, they will never be able to critically think.  Critical thinking is what fosters innovation, research and invention.

It is time we stop the stupidity of “local control” of our education.  It is time that real standards be set so every student, wherever they live, get the same education as everyone else.  Common Core is not a federal government standard.  It is something that was put together by states.  Many states have adopted Common Core.  Many are fighting it tooth and nail.

The real reason this fight is going on is because of the “local control” aspect.  Local communities still believe they know what is best for their children.  But, they use education as a political football instead of something that is necessary.  They use “local control” to change science classes so things like evolution are not taught, but creationism is.  They go further to not teach climate change is real and that it is man-made even though all of the evidence proves them wrong.

But, if you live in an area that relies on coal mining, that is not something that you want your children to learn.  After they graduate, most are expected to work in the mines.  So, you have to teach that there is nothing wrong with coal.  Economically, it is a sound point since the whole economy of the region relies on the mines.  Educationally, it hampers those who decide to go on to college where they will be competing against students who were not hampered in science classes because of ideology.

Of course the biggest argument against Common Core is that the “feds” are running education.  That is always a fear for anyone who really doesn’t like the idea of a federal government.  But, as I mentioned above, Common Core is NOT run by the federal government, nor was it created by the federal government.

The paranoia the right-wing has created in this country is killing the very thing they like to crow about, “American Exceptionalism.”  You don’t have to look far to see I am right.  America used to lead the world in educating our children.  It has slipped to about 26th in the world.  If we don’t stop the attack on education by the right, we can see that standing slip even further.

Teachers are not the problem.  Teacher unions are not the problem.  Children are not the problem.  The real problem is “local control” of elementary and high school education.  Look at reality.  How many people on your local school board that determines the curriculum for your child’s education even have a college degree?  I believe that you will be amazed how many school board members never went to college.

Whether we keep Common Core, which I believe we should, or go with another version that is even more strict about standards, something must be done to remove “local control” from our education system.  If not, the only thing that will be “exceptional” about America is that we will be an industrialized nation with a third world education of our children.

Unfortunately, the attack on our education system by the right makes me think that is their true definition of “American Exeptionalism.”  As usual with their agenda, our country and our children are the true losers.

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Yesterday the Senate began their ridiculous debate on the Keystone XL Pipeline.  We heard lie after lie about why this pipeline is so necessary for the U.S.  One Senator said that it would ensure North American Energy Independence.  Another said the usual stupid things about job creation.  None of the Republican Senators said anything about using “Eminent Domain” for private company gain.  Which this pipeline is doing.  I thought that using “Eminent Domain” for private company gain was something that Republicans hated.

As we know, if allowed to go ahead, the pipeline will create about 45,000 temporary jobs to construct it.  After one to two years, those jobs will end and there will be whopping 35 permanent jobs remaining.  Now that is what I call job creation.  On top of all of that, this oil will have no impact on the price of gasoline at the pump.  That is because after it is refined, it is going to be shipped overseas, mostly to China.  How is that “ensuring North American energy independence?”

Being lost in all of this is something that could produce up to 297,000 permanent jobs for American Workers.  It is called “Clean Energy” and it has already created 80,000 American jobs in 2013 alone.  Besides that, these jobs cannot be outsourced to India or China.  But there is a problem.  If we just look at wind power, we can see the political football game that Republicans are playing.

In order to build the wind power system, there is something called Federal Protection Tax Credit (PTC) that allows wind generating companies to take a 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour tax credit to help get the project off the ground.  That is peanuts compared to the billions that oil companies get in tax credits and other subsidies.  Yet, the Republicans won’t make the PTC a permanent tax credit.  They keep letting it expire and then add it back in.  When the PTC is allowed to be given, like in 2013, 80,000 jobs were created.  On the other hand, when it is allowed to lapse, like in 2014, only about 5,000 new jobs were created.

If the PTC were a permanent tax credit for the wind power companies giving them certainity, we would see many more wind generating plants go online, and hundreds of thousands of jobs created.  Of course, that would cut into the oil companies profits.  By having more “clean energy” available to consumers, the need for oil, gas, and coal in the electricity business would be lowered.  Republicans cannot let their big donors like the Koch Brothers lose any profits to clean energy.  As a result, they continue to play political football with the PTC.

As a matter of fact, Koch-affiliated groups like the American Energy Alliance, last November wrote a letter to congressional Republicans urging them to allow the wind PTC to expire.  In their letter they wrote:

“Rejecting efforts to extend the PTC is a meaningful way for this Congress to oppose the president’s climate plan. A vote for extending the PTC is a vote for the president and the majority leader’s agenda.”

So, you can see it is not about creating jobs, but protecting oil company’s profits and subsidies!

In 2009 Congress was talking about a plan that would require utilities to generate a certain percentage of their power from renewables.  Since then, 28 states and the District of Columbia has successfully implemented this plan.  At the time of the talk, a group called the Union of Concerned Scientists said it estimated that a mandate calling for just 25 percent renewables by 2025 could create 297,000 new jobs in manufacturing, construction, operations, maintenance, agriculture, forestry and other industries.  Even so, Republicans in Congress aren’t too interested in making that mandate a law.

Therefore, one can only surmise that the Republican talk about creating jobs is just that, talk.  Renewable, clean energy will create hundreds of thousands of permanent, U.S. jobs in just a few short years.  Yet, all the Republicans in Congress are looking to do is create 35 permanent jobs on the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Why not take action on the PTC instead?  Why not create a new electric grid that relies on clean energy?  Because Big Oil Companies and the Koch Brothers are against it.

Finally, if Republicans are really interested in “North American energy independence” clean energy is the best way to go.  We would be able to create an American Industry, well-paying American Jobs, and true American Energy Independence.  Look, I don’t really care if you believe in climate change or not.  I don’t care if you believe in reducing carbon emissions.  What I do care about is creating jobs that American Workers can earn a livable wage at and cannot be outsourced, and real American Energy Independence.  Clean energy is one way to make all of that happen.  So, why are Republicans blocking it?

The Republicans have been talking for six very long, tiresome years about creating jobs.  But they have voted down every single jobs bill that has come up.  They continue to play political football with the PTC so the wind power industry cannot grow as fast as we need it, and then claim that the Keystone XL pipeline is “good for America.”

As I said, all we hear from Republicans about creating jobs is lie, after lie, after lie, after lie…..

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Mitch McConnell has announced that the very first thing he wants to do in the new congress is to pass the Keystone XL pipeline.  He is claiming that over 40,000 new jobs will be created by this action.  After the first year or so, the total number of new jobs that are permanent has been totaled at about 35.  Once construction ends, all of the rest of these jobs will be lost.

The Keystone XL pipeline has been under scrutiny for years now.  Most of Americans do not want the pipeline built.  So in keeping with their lie to only do what the American People want, Republicans want it built.  There are a number of people across the Midwest who stand firmly against the pipeline.  There are Nebraska farmers who do not want the pipeline on their property.  The Native Americans don’t want it anywhere near their reservations.  Environmentalists don’t want it built because of two factors.  First, it threatens the largest fresh water aquifer in the country, and the second is that the oil that will be piped through it is the dirtiest possible oil around.

I do not intend to argue about the effects such oil will have on the climate change that is currently underway around the world.  That argument will have no effect on Republicans anyway since they refuse to even talk about it reasonably.  But, there are other questions that should be brought up about the pipeline.

Republicans say that it will “help ensure America’s energy independence” even though the oil is already targeted to be shipped overseas.  Not one drop of this oil will find its way into our infrastructure.  Since oil refineries are already at capacity, if we add this oil to the refinement process, we must ask if that will actually reduce the amount of gas that will be available here at home.  Are we simply going to replace domestic refinement in lieu of shipping gas overseas?  No one has answered that question.

There are some things that really need to be looked at before rushing this pipeline through.  First of all, according to the farmers in Nebraska who are fighting this pipeline tooth-and-nail, the so-called “agreement” they are being forced to sign places almost all of the liability for an oil spill on them!  They claim that TransCanada is placing all of the liability on them if something goes wrong.

For example, a farmer is driving his combine across his fields and crosses the pipeline.  While doing so, a sinkhole opens up over the pipeline which can happen due to loose soil around the pipeline.  As a result the harvester crashes down on the pipe and causes a leak.  According to the “agreement” the farmer is responsible because the “agreement” says the farmer was negligent and caused the spill not TransCanada.  As you can guess, the farmer will be out of business almost immediately since he won’t be able to afford the cleanup.

Another thing to consider.  Republicans are always talking about “property rights” in their speeches.  They claim that the government shouldn’t be allowed to “take away” a person’s property.  Yet, they are willing to allow a foreign company to take away people’s property using eminent domain laws.  Would someone please explain to me how they justify letting a foreign company use eminent domain laws to seize property from individual citizens when they argue the government shouldn’t have the same authority?

What about the argument of the Native Americans?  Remember, the reservations were set up and established by Treaty! In order for these treaties to be changed, the government must enter negotiations with the Native Tribes to get their agreement on the changes.  Yet, no negotiations have taken place with any of the Native Tribes.  The Native Americans are fighting the pipeline over water.  If there is a leak, the water on the reservations will be contaminated.  It will take years, if ever, to clean up the mess.  Yet, the law and order party, the Republicans, are not interested in negotiating with the Native Tribes.

Water is a major reason Nebraska farmers are fighting the pipeline as well.  All pipelines leak!  That is a simple fact!  This pipeline is supposed to run over the largest underground aquifer in the U.S.  This aquifer is under about seven states.  Communities use the aquifer for drinking water.  Farmers use it for irrigating their crops.  If oil from the pipeline leeches into the aquifer, it will pollute it for the foreseeable future.  There is no way, as least that I can find, to clean up an underground aquifer.  That means drinking water for millions of people will be useless, and the price of food will rise drastically because farmers won’t be able to use the water for irrigation.

Finally, it is expensive to refine oil from “tar sands” which is where this oil is coming from and makes it so dirty.  With oil prices falling, how can it be economically viable to refine this oil?  It may have been viable when prices were over $100 per barrel, but at current prices, how can it be viable now?

As I mentioned earlier, American refineries are running at capacity right now.  There hasn’t been a new refinery built in the U.S. in over 40 years!  Since the oil that will come from this pipeline is already earmarked for exportation, how can the refineries justify taking “domestic refinement” away and use it for exports?  Are they trying to raise the price of gasoline in America?

The only people who really want the Keystone XL Pipeline to be built are plutocrats.  Naturally, TransCanada wants it built so they can get it refined.  American Oil Companies want it built so they can make more money exporting it to China.  Maybe, even causing an artificial shortage of gasoline in the U.S. to artificially raise prices at home.  And, the Republicans want it built simply because the President has shown a resistance to it, and the American People don’t want it either.

Anyway you look at it, the plutocrats win again, and the American People lose, again!

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