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For years now the Republican Party has denied that climate change is real.  They have called it a left-wing hoax.  They have said that the “jury is still out” on climate change.  They have argued that making changes to our energy sources would hamper the economy.  They have said that “scientists” have it out for capitalism.

Over 97% of scientists in the world have said that climate change is real.  They all agree that man is having a major effect on our climate and that the change occurring is more man-made than anything else.  Humbug say Republicans.  There is no “real” evidence that man is impacting the climate, even though scientists say we are.

Then suddenly Pope Francis put out an Encyclical that basically says that climate change is real.  That man is responsible for that change.  That man must do more to protect the planet.  He even put a religious spin on it saying it is our moral obligation to care for the planet “God has given us.”

All of the so-called Christian candidates on the Republican side went bonkers.  People like Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum, both Catholics, said the Pope should stay out of the issue.  They said, “the Pope should leave science to the scientists.”

Now that, some may say, is advice that they should follow themselves.  Yet, they still deny that climate change is real.  Even after our own Department of Defense has said that climate change is a major threat to our national security, these people still refuse to believe in climate change.  They still are waging their war on science because it does not fit with their political and economic game plan.

Every year the earth is warmer than the year before.  We see weather patterns changing.  We see drought around the world, even in states that have more than their share of climate change deniers.  Ted Cruz says NASA should not spend any money on climate research.  He says it should stick with exploring space.  He is the chair of a committee that funds NASA.

You may think that this is hypocrisy.  That is not necessarily the point.  Rather than looking at this as some form of hypocrisy, you need to remember what the real issue is.  The real issue is that their major donors are the very people and corporations that rely on fossil fuels for their income.  If we were to turn away from fossil fuels, that would mean capital expenditures for places like electric companies, and a real slash to the profits of the fossil fuel energy companies.

That is the real issue.  It is very important for the climate deniers to continue to deny reality in the name of profits for their donors.  It is very important for climate deniers to keep their office so they can continue to feel important.  Some call this protecting profits for the few.  I call it simple greed.  Greed is very anti-Christian.  But then, that is what their form of Capitalism is really about.

Yes, it is time for Republicans to “leave science to the scientists.”  But don’t hold your breath.  As long as science threatens their purse strings, they will never accept reality.  Yet, as we have seen with the Pope, they will be quick to tell him to leave science to the scientists.  That way, they can keep science political and not part of their delusional reality.

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We are about half way through the year.  The Presidential election process for 2016 is underway with a myriad of candidates.  The budget is supposedly being worked out and there are a lot of questions which the budget could answer, but probably won’t.

A few years ago, sequester became a reality.  Mitch McConnell has claimed that was a major victory for the Republican Party.  But, as always, things have changed since then.  We have seen the rise if ISIS in the middle-east.  We have seen the Ukraine problems and Russia’s annexation of the Crimea.

These have all sent the war hawks into a tizzy.  They ask: “How are we expected to fight all these things with the Defense Department hampered by sequester?”  So, the new budget being proposed by Republicans in Congress will increase the Department of Defense budget by about 9 percent.

Unfortunately, that increase isn’t really going into the Defense Budget.  It is a gimmick where the money is going into a special fund used to “fight wars.”  That is a whopping $38 Billion dollars.  In the meantime, non-defense spending is supposed to remain under sequester.

We have seen a tragic accident on Amtrak.  Yet, under a bill just passed by the House, Amtrak’s budget is going to be cut by $242 million.  TSA has made the headlines because of failed tests of the screening they do at airports.  Yet, under sequestration, the TSA budget has been regularly cut.

Since the report of the tests became public, Republicans, the very party that insisted on TSA in the first place, now say it would be more efficient to turn it back over to the same private security that failed on 9/11.  By the way, when a Republican says something would be more “efficient” what they are really saying is “cheaper.”

In the past few years, we have seen bigotry raise its ugly head again.  It isn’t just about black and white anymore either.  It is about sexual orientation, it is about immigration, it is about women’s rights.  The same Republican Party that claims to defend the Constitution is working tirelessly to void rights to these groups of people simply because they are different.

If you just look at immigration, you can see the total hypocrisy in their arguments.  People like Ann Coulter say immigration, of any kind, should be stopped.  She doesn’t just hate undocumented immigrants, she hates legal immigrants, too.  Yet she is more than happy to show up on an immigrants news network to spew forth her hatred for immigrants.  Yes, I am talking about Fox News which is owned by an immigrant.

Since the 1970s we have seen our infrastructure start falling apart.  Our roads are overcrowded and dangerous.  Our bridges are collapsing underneath us.  Our dams are in danger of collapse.  Our electrical grid is antiquated and just waiting for the next trigger to cause a major blackout.

For example, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower wanted, and got passed the Interstate Highway System.  He used public money and said it was for Defense purposes.  Having such a highway system, he argued would make it easier to transport troops in times of need.  Yet, that very highway structure supposed to make it easier to transport troops is so overburdened that it almost useless.

Additionally, our railroad system is suspect as well.  Look at all of the train derailments we have had just in the last couple of years.  This country lags the rest of the developed world in high-speed rail systems.  As a matter of fact, we DON’T HAVE a high-speed rail system.  These all hurt our economy as well.  We don’t transport our goods as fast as we should.

To make matters worse the only export business being conducted by our corporations, supported by Republican policies, is to export our jobs to China and other foreign countries.  All the while taking advantage of tax loopholes in the tax code so they don’t have to pay any taxes in this country.  Over half of the Fortune 500 companies in this country pay nothing in taxes!

We lead the developed world in the number of uninsured people, even with the Affordable Care act.  We are at the bottom of the developed world in terms of pensions and care for our retired people.  And, we are forced to work longer, because of our poor pensions, than anyone in the developed world.

The EPA is, as usual, under fire because it wants to do its job and protect our drinking water and the air we breath.  It wants to protect our planet’s climate.  Republicans claim climate change is a hoax.  Yet, the one department’s budget they want to defend the most, the Defense Department, has said that climate change is a severe threat to our national security!

Yet, all of these things are being sacrificed in the name of the Defense Budget.  We must remember, as Republicans tell us, we live in very dangerous times.  We must be prepared to defend ourselves from those evil people in the world.  That may all be true.  But, as a veteran, I am compelled to ask a simple question.  What exactly are we defending?

Why should anyone be willing to put their lives on the line for a country that treats its own people like they are the enemy?  Why should anyone be willing to put their lives on the line for a country that is willing to throw away any injured veteran?

We always hear Republicans talk about “American Exceptionalism.”  What is so exceptional about a country that says it costs too much to ensure everyone has health coverage?  What is so exceptional about a country that treats minorities like they are second-class citizens with no civil rights?  What is so exceptional about a country that treats its elders like they should just die off and make things cheaper for the survivors?

What is so exceptional about a country that asks its young to defend it, and then treats them like some leper when they need the physical and psychological help after fighting in wars?  What is so exceptional about a country that allows its infrastructure to collapse possibly killing people when a bridge falls down or a dam breaks?  What is so exceptional about a country that had an education system that was the envy of the world only to let it fall off the charts reducing the opportunities for those who graduate from that failing school system?

What is so exceptional about a country whose policies are driving good paying jobs overseas instead of fighting to keep them home?  What is so exceptional about a country that allows its working class to fall behind the cost of living while giving tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations and arguing that the minimum wage isn’t necessary?

There is nothing exceptional about any of those things.  Yet, that is our reality today.  I served my country for 20 years.  I have never looked for praise or thanks.  I served because I believed I was doing the right thing.  I enjoyed my years in the Coast Guard.  I help save countless lives which was what I wanted to do.  It was a pleasure to serve my country… then.

But, things are a little different now.  When I was in the Coast Guard,  I served a country that was in favor of better living standards for the poor and elderly.  I served a country that was proud of its educational system.  I served a country where working class people had bargaining rights that ensured them fair pay for fair work.

I served a country that was fighting against bigotry at home.  I served a country where immigrants were welcomed and not spat upon and called names.  I served a country that was far closer to that fairy tale of “American Exceptionalism” than the one we live in today.  The country I served was not perfect.  We had a lot of problems.  But, it was different in that it was trying to solve our problems, not just blame someone for those problems.

Yes, all of these items I have mentioned costs money.  Yes, taxes may have to go up, especially for the wealthy, if we are to face reality and fix our problems.  Yes, civil rights must be more than a slogan or catch phrase.  They must be defended for ALL of our citizens.

Immigration policies must be reformed.  We must make it more costly for a company to “outsource” our jobs and cheaper for them to keep those jobs here in America.  We must ensure our poor and elderly are helped and not criticized for “being takers.”  We must protect our environment and our planet’s climate.

If we do all of these things, we will have something to defend.

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We are in the middle of the budget process.  The Republican Controlled Congress has their blueprint for where the budget should grow and where it should be cut.  As I wrote yesterday, Congress, or at least House Republicans, want to cut the Amtrak budget by one-fifth.

As usual, I heard from some conservatives that all I want to do is spend money.  That is not true.  But, I do want to spend money on things that will actually help the economy, our safety, and our people.  So, let our conservative friends digest these ideas for budget cuts, and/or laws that will make it all happen.

First on the list is subsidies for gas and oil companies.  I have never understood why a company like Exxon/Mobile who makes about $20 Billion per year in Profits needs subsidies.  But I will allow that maybe they do.  However, I propose that all subsidies to gas and oil companies be cut by 60%.  I don’t know the exact figures of what the government allows for these subsidies, but I do know it is in the billions of dollars.  The saved subsidy monies could be put into the Transportation Maintenance fund which is about to run out.

Second on the list is farm subsidies.  I am not talking about taking away subsidies for family farms.  We would need to put a maximum on the amount of acreage to determine who gets and who doesn’t get farm subsidies.  For example, we could limit farm subsidies to about 100 acres.  I don’t know, but I believe it would protect all of the family farms.  Yet, it would eliminate all of the “corporate farms.”  Family farmers need the subsidies in order to survive against gigantic corporate farm operations.  But, I don’t see  a need for corporate farm operations receiving subsidies.

Third on the list is Transportation and Corporate Taxes.  Today, every person who spends money at the pump pays a transportation tax.  There is also a large cry from the right to cut Corporate Taxes.  The tax we pay at the pump is where the government gets its money for repairing our road infrastructure.  However, by driving more fuel-efficient vehicles, that fund isn’t doing as well as before.

The Corporate Tax is said to be too high.  There has been many calls to reduce the Corporate Tax to 25%.  I could go along with that as long as there is something that includes corporations paying their fair share of the Transportation Tax.  Most companies do not have their own truck fleet.  They use contractors.  Yet, it is their products that are being shipped by truck thus causing damage to our roadways.

So, I propose that maybe the Corporate Tax be cut.  We can then add a 3% Transportation Tax on corporations who use contract trucking companies to ship their products.  Again, that money should be put into the Transportation maintenance pool.  If a corporation does not ship products, they wouldn’t have to pay this tax.  In order to protect small businesses, we could also put a limit on either tonnage that is shipped, or on the profits of the company.  Since the government pays for our roadways, it is only fair that corporations pay a fair share in maintaining this portion of our infrastructure.

Fourth on the list is government subsidies to large retailer and food chains.  We would need a secondary law to enforce this part, but it would save the government billions of dollars.  It comes in two parts.  The first part is to require all large chains like Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Burger King, Big Lots, etc. to provide health insurance to all of their employees regardless of whether or not they are full-time or part-time.  This health insurance would not cost the employee anything in terms of premiums.

Again, in order to protect small businesses, we could place a limit on the number of employees or on their annual income.  For example, we could limit the free insurance to anyone who is paid less than $30,000 per year.  That way only the needy actually gets these free benefits.  By forcing these companies to provide health insurance, we would reduce the Medicaid rolls by millions of people.  It is estimated that each of these companies receives approximately $1.5 Billion per year in profit subsidies by forcing their employees to apply for Medicaid.

These profit subsidies also hurt these companies competition.  So, it is obvious that allowing companies to “dump” their employees into Medicaid, we are providing profit subsidies to them and allowing unfair business practices against their competition.

The second part of this is to require these companies to pay back the government up to 60% of all social safety net expenditures like SNAP and WIC.  Again, these companies receive up to $1 Billion per year, according to reports, in profit subsidies by allowing their employees to get needed assistance from the government for food and living expenses due to their low wages.

This alone would cut over $40 Billion from the SNAP program, which seems to be the Republican’s favorite number for cuts to SNAP.  Again, this policy would only affect companies who are using government programs to subsidize their profits.  If a company paid their employees a livable wage, they wouldn’t have to worry about paying the government back.

The fifth item helps the electric grid.  Homeowners should be allowed to deduct the entire cost of converting their homes to “green energy.”  For example, if a homeowner desires to install solar panels on their house and thus take their home off of the electric grid, the entire cost for this conversation should be deducted from their taxes on year one.

The more homes that are “off the grid” helps the electric grid by reducing demand.  Thus ensuring more energy for those companies and homes that decide to stay on the grid.  It would also make it less strenuous during peak times, especially in the summer when air conditioners are running full blast.

These are just five ideas that would help reduce the deficit, ensure infrastructure safety, and most likely grow the economy.  All things the Republicans claim to stand for.   They are also things that will help protect small businesses, like Republicans claim they want to do.

So Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell, I eagerly anticipate seeing you introduce these measures in your next budget process.  It is good for the country.  It is good for Americans.  It is good for your party.  Unless of course you are more worried about campaign contributions than the American people.  Needless to say, I won’t be holding my breath until you do.

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It is very easy for people on the left to poke fun at our conservative brothers.  It seems that almost every day some conservative says something that most rational people would consider inappropriate.  It also is true that almost every day a conservative controlled state passes another law that infringes on the rights of its citizens, all in the name of “liberty.”

There has been a lot of talk about these so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, anti-abortion bills, one state even passed a law that allows for carrying concealed guns without a license!”  Conservatives are continually railing about the “red menace” still threatening our way of life.  They argue the Iran Nuclear Deal is “giving in” to Iran.  They continue to harp that the ACA is bad for your health, although they don’t have any alternative to offer.

Conservatives deny that climate change is real.  There are states like Florida that actually ban public workers from using the words “climate change.”  They claim that man has had no influence on the weather.  Texas conservatives are hugely against doing anything about “climate change” all the while the western end of their state is getting hotter and drier by the day.

But, rather than poking fun at these conservatives, I think it would be better to try to understand them, just a little.  That is the only way to really fight back and gain the support of the American People.  See, conservatives are really living in the past.  Conservatism by definition favors the status-quo and hates progress.

Face facts, do you really think that all of the crying about evolution and not teaching the bible in school has anything to do with religion?  No!  It has to do with the fact that conservatives want to remain in a time when bad things that happen like drought, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes could all be handled by saying it was “God’s will.”  If you allow science to teach something other than “God’s will” you don’t have any basis for your fantasies.

As I said once before, the phrase “it’s God’s Will” is a convenient excuse to believe that nothing is really anyone’s fault.  That explains their consistent denial about climate change.  They want you to believe that man is not helping the climate to get warmer, it is “God’s Will.”  Therefore we just have to put up with it.

Conservatives use the abortion battle to say “life begins at conception.”  But what they are really saying is that they want to be able to tell women what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do.  The last thing a conservative wants is for women to decide for themselves or for that matter even think for themselves.  In our days of yore, women were subjugated to the will of men.  That is how they want it to be in the future.

As a result of their backwards thinking, they have nothing to offer America except fear.  The Red Menace is still a threat.  ISIS is coming to America to kill us all in our sleep.  Gay couples are destroying the American family and the institution of marriage.  None of this is true, but they do make for great headlines.  Especially aimed towards other conservatives who are afraid that tomorrow will be different from today.

So, how do we fight against such backwards thinking?  We need to call them out for their stupidity, yes, but we also need to educate the populace on how this kind of backward thinking is ruining our economy, defense, and country.  Let’s look at climate change as an example something the DOD even says is a threat to national security.  See, everyone who is fighting the conservatives on climate change are making the wrong arguments.  If you really want to see a change in our energy policies, you need to hit them where it will hurt the most.  People’s pocketbooks!

Those who are arguing that fossil fuels are hurting the planet are correct.  But, they don’t take the argument far enough.  They only talk about how climate change is changing our planet.  That is serious enough, but if you want to get everyone on board, you need to show that changing our energy policies to renewable energy will actually create a boom to our economy.  You need to show that these conservatives are really stopping the creation of millions of jobs that cannot be outsourced.

Using renewable energy, like wind and solar power, helps reduce the costs of energy for every single American.  It reduces energy costs for manufacturing and other businesses.  It creates jobs that cannot be outsourced.  It creates education opportunities so people who currently work in the fossil fuel industry, like coal miners, can learn a new trade and secure economic stability in the future.

I don’t know a single business owner who would not like to see their electric bill cut.  I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t like to see their heating and air conditioning bill cut.  This can happen if we stop using fossil fuels whose costs are subject to the whims of Wall Street.

Of course changing our energy policies costs money.  We need to rebuild our energy infrastructure.  We need to upgrade our electric producing plants.  We need to reeducate our workers so they can benefit from the changes.  However, in terms of return on investment, we would probably recover these costs in less than 20 years.

It doesn’t matter to me if the rest of the world is going to follow us or not.  In my opinion, they will be forced to follow us because using renewable, cheaper energy will make America more competitive in the global market.  It will allow us to restore our manufacturing base at a lower cost, thus creating even more jobs.  More people working at livable wages means more tax dollars coming into the Federal coffers.  More money in the treasury will help pay off our debt.

The conservatives want to eliminate things like SNAP, WIC, and welfare.  What better way to eliminate the need for these programs than to create an environment where people can actually get a real job that cannot be given to someone in China?  What better way to help the poor than teaching them a trade that they can earn a livable wage with?

But no, conservatives would rather fall back on their tried and true method of claiming that climate change is “God’s Will.”  They are not interested in creating a better future for our country.  They are not interested in creating a better future for our children.  They are only interested in living in the past.  That is where they feel safe.  That is where they feel in control.

It isn’t hard to show the economic benefits that the average American can acquire if we change our policies.  Just look at what we gained from NASA and the space program?  Hell, we never had Tang before the space program.  We didn’t have personal computers either.

The benefits of changing energy policies would have just as much benefit to the average American as the space program had.  Maybe even more because these policy changes would put money into people’s pockets.  It would create job security.  It would return our manufacturing base.  It would create more research into things like cars that don’t need to burn gasoline or be limited to a few hundred miles on a battery charge.

It is time we show the American people that conservatism is holding back our economic growth.  It is holding us back from a future that would be far better than the present.  Be honest, you are not going to win the argument by telling people that New York City will be underwater in 100 years.  The people today won’t be around then, and frankly don’t care.

But, if you tell them they will gain economically by a shift in energy policies, if you show them that their children will have a more secure lifestyle, they will listen.  It doesn’t matter if you earn $1 Billion per year or $10,000 per year.  It is all about personal economics.  That is where we need to take the battle.

Naturally the conservatives will use the argument that it will “cost too much.”  But, the American people have shown in that past that if they benefit from changes, they won’t care how much it costs.  They will want it.  That is how you beat conservatives and take our country into a better future for our citizens.

 

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The junior Senator from Arkansas is at it again.  The other day, he claimed that we don’t have to go to war with Iran, we simply have to drop a few bombs on Iran.  He seems to think that if the U.S. decides to bomb another country, that isn’t war.  That is a remarkably stupid thing to say.

According to Cotton:

Even if military action were required – and we certainly should have kept the credible threat of military force on the table, it always improves diplomacy – the president is trying to make you think it would be 150,000 heavy mechanized troops on the ground in the Middle East again as we saw in Iraq. That’s simply not the case.

It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days of air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior, for interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions. All we’re asking is that the president simply be as tough in the protection of America’s national security interests as Bill Clinton was.

There is a major difference between what Bill Clinton did and what we are talking about right now.  Bill Clinton had military forces in the area because the Kuwaiti War made sure we kept troops in the area.  Then there is the fact that we told the Iraqis that they would face more military involvement if they did not comply with the treaty signed.  It included a “no fly” zone in southern Iraq.

But, in Iran, we have no real reason to bomb them.  We have not fought a way with Iran.  We have no legal standing to “drop a few bombs” on Iran.  And, as we already know from Bill Clinton’s bombings, they didn’t achieve anything.

The right-wing isn’t interested in bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities.  They are interested in a “regime change” in Iran.  They want to overthrow the current government.  We did that once in Iran back in the 1950s.  The CIA masterminded a plot to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran because the right-wing thought it was leaning too much towards the Soviet Union than to us.

After the government was overthrown, the Shah was placed back on the throne by Eisenhower’s administration.  That set up a right-wing dictatorship that terrorized its own people.  As all dictatorships do.  The result was the eventual overthrow of the Shah of Iran.  How well did that work out?  Why not ask one of the couple of hundred embassy workers who were taken hostage for over a year.

We already know that at least some of Iran’s nuclear program is underground.  It would be very hard to destroy those facilities.  Additionally, if we begin to bomb Iran, it will only result in Iran being more stealthy in their pursuit for a nuclear weapon.  If what they are currently saying is true that they are only interested in peaceful nuclear energy, bombing them will certainly make them want a bomb.

Once that happens, how do we know what activities they are involved in, and how do we stop it?  We have to invade just like we did in Iraq.  I guess then Cotton will say we will really be at war.  It doesn’t take ground troops to be at war.  When you start bombing a sovereign nation, you are committing an act of war.

The other real danger in Cotton’s use of bombing is where does it end?  If America bombs Iran, what will their response be?  Will they bomb Israel?  Will they bomb Saudi Arabia?  Iran’s military is quite formidable.  They are within reach of many countries in the Mideast.  If they are bombed, what is stopping them from doing the same thing to someone else?

If they do bomb another country, like Israel, that would mean war across the board.  What will stop Russia and China from backing Iran?  If they do, would Russia invade the Ukraine?  Would Russia invade western Europe?  Would China invade Japan?  What about North Korea?  We know they have nuclear weapons, will they turn them on South Korea once we are engaged elsewhere?

The “Letter to Iran” that Tom Cotton authored and was signed by 47 Republican senators was bad enough.  But his comment about bombing Iran has rightly taken him out of the right to take part in any discussion on the Iran deal or anything else for that mater.  Being so reckless as to not consider the reactions of others in this matter, which could lead to another global war, is so irresponsible that he needs to be censored.

The deal being worked on may still fall apart.  It may become necessary for other drastic measures.  But, unfortunately, there are too many other idiots in Congress who think the same way as Cotton.  They are actively trying to sabotage the deal before it is even struck.  That says more about their willingness to go to war than their claim to be defending our national security.

Sorry, but these are very dangerous times, and too many of our elected officials are actually fanning the flames of war.  For the sake of our children, and the world, let us hope that calmer heads prevail.

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Climate change is something that can rile up almost anyone on both sides of the issue.  We have seen the peak winter arctic ice at its lowest levels in history this past winter.  The planet has just suffered through its warmest winter in history.  The GOP is still arguing that climate change is a hoax, and are looking to defang the EPA from doing its job in protecting our air and water.

Maybe it is time to stop talking about pollution being the cause of climate change, and refocus it back to pollution being a health hazard instead.  Maybe, if politicians are bombarded with complaints from constituents that pollution from coal-burning electric plants, or other manufacturing is affecting their health, they might listen.  But then again, I doubt that will happen either.

There are two cases pending in two different courts that exemplify this to a tee.  Two lawyers Brendan and Nessa Coppinger apparently live in a row house in Washington, D.C.  They have sued their neighbor for smoking in his own house.  That is right, they have sued their neighbor for smoking in his own house.

“This is a health concern,” Nessa Coppinger, who is 38 and pregnant with her second child, told the Washington Post. “We don’t smoke. We don’t allow smoking in our home. We have smoke in our house all the time.”.  In the law suit they are seeking damages in the amount of $500,000

D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna Lee Beck ordered that all smoking, of all substances, be banned in the neighbor’s home until the lawsuit is resolved.  Of course, this whole mess raises intriguing questions about a person’s right to smoke in his own house.  Or, for that matter what rights a homeowner really has when it comes to his own property.

Now, this may all seem like something reasonable.  Except for one thing.  Records indicate that Nessa Coppinger, an “environmental lawyer” — often litigates against the environment, including cases in which she’s defended industry clients against people besieged by pollution.

Suncoke Energy, Inc. is being sued by four Ohioans.  The plaintiffs claim that a local metallurgical coke plant, operated by a subsidiary of the billion dollar corporation, “emitted and released blue/gray Noxious and Hazardous Substances-containing clouds or haze,” which poisoned their water, soil and, yes, air, with just about everything one might consider to be a health concern: “sludge-like deposits, strong odors, particulates, lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium, creosote, coal-tar pitch, coal-tar pitch volatiles, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., benzo(a) pyrene and chrysene) (“PAHs”), sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, dioxins, volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”), hydrochloric acid (“HCL”), volatiles, carbon monoxide, benzene, flue gas, chemical clouds and haze, other solid and hazardous wastes, other hazardous substances and pollutants, and mixtures containing such substances.”

The lawyer defending the billion dollar giant is none other than Nessa Coppinger.  The plaintiffs reported experiencing unpleasant odors infiltrating their properties, claimed to suffer respiratory symptoms from the smoke and said they “are concerned and apprehensive about risks to their and their family members’ health from their past and ongoing exposure to said substances.”  No court order has prohibited the plant from spewing the pollutants, as alleged, onto its neighbors’ property.  This lawsuit has been ongoing for five years.

So we have a lawyer who is seeking $500,000 from a neighbor because his smoking in his own house is seeping into her house causing “second-hand smoke” issues defending a company who is polluting its neighbors with even more toxic pollutants.  The biggest difference is that the “smoker” is smoking within his own house.  The company polluting its neighbors are not polluting inside their own facility.  Rather they are openly polluting the entire area.

If this sounds rather familiar, remember the Exxon CEO who, last year, joined an anti-fracking lawsuit after nearby drilling activity threatened to lower his own property values.  The same Exxon CEO who claims that fracking is perfectly safe and won’t cause harm to the environment or property values.

I firmly believe that these cases point out the simple fact that the fight to protect polluters has nothing to do with climate change or anything like it.  It is to defend the billion dollar companies that are killing our planet and us.  But, as long as it happens to someone else, it is okay.  Just keep it from our neighborhood.

That is why the GOP will continue its stupidity on climate change and its attack on science and the EPA.

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It is time I said something about the latest controversy – emails.  Since it came out that Hillary Clinton used a personal email address while Secretary of State, you would think that the entire world was set upside down.  There are some questions that do need to be answered that I believe are valid.  The major one is if the email server Clinton used is really secure.

Look, I know about maintaining classified material and secure communications.  If she used her personal email account and personal server for official business, then it must be made certain that the server has the proper security level necessary.  If not, it is possible that something may have been compromised, and that is not good.

On the other hand, the rest of this new controversy is total bullshit!  This is not defending Clinton.  It is merely making a point.  With the possible exception of Lindsey Graham who claims to never have sent an email, everyone in government uses private emails.  This includes Trey Gowdy who is demanding that Clinton turn over every single email she ever sent or received while Secretary of State.

He isn’t alone either.  The business card for Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who succeeded Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to be head of the House’s Government Oversight committee lists a Gmail address.  Why not his official email address?  It also came out that Secretary of State Colin Powell used a personal email account while in office.

What makes Clinton’s use of personal email such a controversy is the never-ending Benghazi Investigations.  I lost count of how many there have been, but so far none of them came up with anything.  Now the email “scandal” is supposed to be the smoking gun.  Gowdy claims she must be hiding something in her personal email account.

Clinton has already released over 55,000 printed pages of emails.  Gowdy wants every single personal email she sent while Secretary of State in the name of transparency.  There is that word again.  Transparency.  We have seen that word used way too much to justify any witch-hunt someone wants to conduct on both sides of the aisle.

I am all for transparency.  But, everyone doesn’t seem to think like I do, not even Gowdy.  For example, AlterNet asked Gowdy’s press secretary how he segregates work he conducts through his personal domain vs congressional work. They also inquired about where his personal email server is stored and how it is secured.  They even tried to contact Gowdy’s campaign manager George Ramsey but he did not return the phone calls.  As of yet, no response was received to these questions.

I don’t know what the “law” everyone talks about actually says about email accounts.  But, if we are going to constantly talk about transparency, then it is wrong to criticize anyone without following your own words about transparency.

I know that a lot of trolls out there would love to peer into the personal email accounts of public officials.  I find that disgusting and an invasion of privacy.  However, if you are going to make a scandal over emails about one person, you must follow through and release your own personal emails so we can judge if you are as pure as you say you are.  Or, is this another case of Congress exempting themselves from laws they pass about other branches of government?

Hillary Clinton wants to be president.  We know that there are a lot of people who are completely against her even running for the office.  That means anything is fair game as far as they are concerned.  The problem I have with all of this is more about judgment.

You know I ask some questions that others won’t, so I will ask this one.  What the f**k was she thinking?  She should have known that anything that even appeared to be wrong would come back to haunt her.  She was slow in her response to the “scandal” too.

In the meantime, this email scandal will go on forever.  The news media loves covering stories about the Clintons.  Either good stories or bad stories.  But, remember, she is not alone in combining personal emails with business.  Only we won’t know who is and who isn’t doing the same until all personal emails are made public for every elected or appointed official.

Hell, if we are going to be a tabloid news nation, what better way to feed the rags than letting everyone see your emails.  As I said before, I find that totally disgusting.  Then again, I can think of a few people whose email accounts I might be interested in seeing.  I am sure you can too.  What gems might they contain?

 

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