Laboratories Of Democracy

If the states are, as Justice Louis Brandeis famously once said, “laboratories of democracy,” then Kansas has just proven that “trickle down economics” doesn’t work. Like other forms of snake oil and quackery, it should be banished from any serious discussion about the economic remedies we need to fix whatever ails us.

In case you missed it, Kansas’ Republican-dominated legislature has just handed Gov. Sam Brownnback a huge defeat, overriding his veto of a bill that would finally raise taxes after years of starvation budgets that resulted in Kansas schools running on shortened schedules and crumbling infrastructure going unfixed. (Let me add: Tennessee just did a similar thing with the official passage of Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act, our first gas tax increase in almost 30 years. It appears Republicans have finally gotten the message that stuff needs to be paid for, and cutting taxes isn’t the way to raise money. I know, weird, right?)

Unlike Tennessee, however, Kansas’ governor remained stubbornly attached to the idea that cutting taxes has some miraculous stimulus effect on a state’s economy. Kansas citizens were willing to give Brownback the benefit of the doubt until they had finally had enough, and let their frustrations be known in the last election. Now, moderate Republicans could join forces with their Democratic colleagues to make a veto override happen:

The legislation undoes the essential components of Brownback’s reforms, which he famously described as part of a “real-live experiment” in conservative governance.

Brownback had reduced the number of brackets for the state’s marginal rates on income from three to two. The legislature will restore the third bracket, increasing taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents from 4.6 percent to 5.2 percent this year and 5.7 percent next year.

Marginal rates on less affluent Kansan households will increase as well, from 4.6 percent to 5.25 percent by next year for married taxpayers making between $30,000 and $60,000 a year and from 2.7 percent to 3.1 percent for those earning less than that.

The legislation also scraps a plan to bring those rates down even further in future years, one of Brownback’s promises to conservative supporters.

Finally, the legislature eliminated a cut Brownback had put in place to help small businesses. Analysts said that the provision had become a loophole, as many Kansans were able to avoid paying taxes entirely by pretending to be small businesses.

Initially, the state forecast that about 200,000 small businesses would take advantage of the break. As it turned out, about 330,000 entities would use Kansas’s new rule. That discrepancy suggests that tens of thousands of workers claimed that their incomes were from businesses they owned rather than from salaries.

“What we were able to do in the last 24 hours can allow us to start down that road, to begin repairing all the damage done after living with Gov. Brownback’s failed tax experiment for five years,” said Annie McKay, who is the president of Kansas Action for Children, an advocacy group in Topeka.

Tuesday’s vote was a rebuke not only for Brownback, but also for Republicans in Washington who have advocated similar cuts in taxes at the national level — including President Trump.

This should forever end the discussion about tax cuts being some magical tonic to lure businesses and increase revenue. Trickle down economics is a fairy tale. Or, for people like our president who prefer a visual representation, let me offer this:

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Filed under budget, economy, taxes

Corker Advised Trump To Exit Paris Because “Lawsuits”

Speaking to the Greeneville, Tenn., Kiwanis Club last week, Sen. Bob Corker appears to be taking credit for pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement — or at least, having a significant role:

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman said he first approached the accords as as an understanding between countries that had no binding obligations — financial or otherwise — to the U.S.

“With all the complex issues we’ve got to deal with around the world, wouldn’t it be better to stay in concert with our allies — and some of our adversaries — because we’ve got other issues … we’ve got to work out?” Corker theorized.

What he said he did not consider at the time but has come to weigh is the legal snarl the accords could create.

If environmental groups chose to sue power plants coming online in the U.S. on the grounds that they would impede the country’s progress in meeting the accords, it could result in a years-long legal battle up to the Supreme Court, Corker said.

And although he said environmentalists probably wouldn’t win in court, he said it could delay or deter jobs.

“It could be very detrimental to employment here in the United States of America,” he said. “The best outcome would be some way … to say, ‘Hey, look. The goals that we’ve taken on are far more penalizing to our citizens than what other countries have done. Probably the best outcome would be to figure out a way to signal that you want to change the declarations that we’ve made, because they’re overly aggressive.”

Got that? Corker advised Trump to pull out of the Paris Accords because he was afraid the Sierra Club and Greenpeace would sue.

That has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. In essence, Corker told the Greeneville, Tennessee Kiwanis that a handful of jobs in a dying industry are more important than maintaining our role as a technology leader and keeping from blowing up the planet.

Again: that is dumbest thing I have ever heard.

I’m curious how many U.S. power plants “coming online” in the next few months violate the Paris terms in the first place? Can anyone tell me? I don’t know, so I’m asking. Just from my cursory Google search it appears there are more natural gas and renewable power plants coming online than dirty coal-fired plants. But I’m just a dumb housewife with a search engine so what do I know.

Someone in the “real journalism” business should find out. And sorry, Greeneville Sun, but as this was the lead story of the week you really should have asked that question. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that Corker has no fucking clue.

8 Comments

Filed under climate change, Sen. Bob Corker

Marching Orders

Is Trump even trying to look like he’s not a Putin puppet? Not that I can tell.

This was published on May 23 in Sputnik News, a Russian propaganda outlet:

Moscow has called on Washington to settle the issue of the “illegal” seizure of Russian diplomatic property in the United States in the latter days of the Obama administration in a constructive way, adding that if the problem isn’t resolved, the countermeasures by Russia will follow.

In December President Obama had seized the two diplomatic compounds, saying they were used for intelligence gathering purposes. The move was retaliation for Russia’s hacking the U.S. election.

And now, six months later, we have this:

The Trump administration is moving toward handing back to Russia two diplomatic compounds, near New York City and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, that its officials were ejected from in late December as punishment for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Just one week after Sputnik said Putin wants his Russian spy houses back, Trump is following his marching orders. But, no puppet, no puppet.

Got it.

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Filed under Donald Trump, Russia

Tin Soldiers

Is there anything more pathetic than chest-thumping, Law & Order, rah-rah conservatives like Sheriff David Clarke? They always end up being big, fat phonies, don’t they?

In case you missed it, check out Charles Clymer’s awesome Twitter rant questioning Clarke’s “service medals” and other pins (known as “flair”) which he parades around in. It was something I’d long questioned myself, and I’m glad Clymer’s rant called some attention to it.

Here’s Sheriff Clarke in his “dress uniform,” like he’s some goddamn general:

As Clymer pointed out,

Thanks to Clymer, some folks have tried to identify what exactly these pins are. What they’ve found is absolutely hilarious:

2. This is a pin that reads “Sheriff” made and branded by the Harley-Davidson motorcycle company. (Thanks to Charlie Deck for spotting it.)

A pin from the Harley Davidson motorcycle company? You have got to be kidding me.

21. A pin depicting a baby’s feet (“the precious feet”), signifying support for the antiabortion movement.

Dude. WTF.

There’s also an Israeli traffic police pin, which Haaretz questioned the legitimacy of:

Clarke may have received the pin when he toured Israel and Russia in 2015, in what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported was a trip funded by the National Rifle Association.

Okay, it’s possible. But it makes one wonder: Did he earn the pin? If so, how? Did he head off a battle royale on the notoriously clogged road straddling Jerusalem’s Old City and Sultan’s Pool? Did he avert a crisis on the LaGuardia ramp into Tel Aviv? Did he bring peace, love and understanding to the hot, messy hell that is the Checkpost road, connecting Haifa with its northern suburbs?

We asked Clarke for background on the pin. He has yet to reply.

Until I see him perfect this gesture — signaling “rak rega,” a common expression meaning “hold on” — I, for one, won’t believe it he earned it.

Maybe Sheriff isn’t the job for David Clarke. Since he likes “flair” so much, might I suggest a new career?

7 Comments

Filed under Law & Order

TN Had 5 Accidental Shootings This Week

Hello, America. There were five accidental shootings during a 7-day period in Tennessee this month. Most involved “responsible” gun owners who should have known better. So let’s dispense with the bullshit that gun owners are the “safest, most responsible citizens EVAH” who should be allowed to carry everywhere and anywhere to keep us all safe because calling 911 is useless.

Get over your damn selves.

The Tennessee Gun Report used to be a regular feature over here but it fell victim to my work schedule, along with everything else on this blog. However, five accidental shootings in one week is just too obvious to let pass.

All of this comes as Middle Tennessee cities like Murfreesboro and Nashville attempt to tackle gun violence.

It’s like saving a sinking ship with a bucket, guys. The problem is a culture that glorifies guns, views guns as the solution to every problems, and people who mindlessly repeat NRA propaganda without stopping to think what they’re even saying. “Ah have a raaaght to protect mah self and mah fambileee.” Yes, and of course a gun is the only way to do it, too. Meanwhile, these 2nd Amendment heroes are leaving their guns lying around for kids to find, shooting themselves and others while at the Walmart, or else their weapons become easy targets for thieves, who sell them to gangs.

Yesterday I had an argument with a friend who is an NRA supporter. He got so angry with me that he said he was going straight to the shooting range to let off some steam. Just as the Founders intended, amiright? I mean, that tells you everything you need to know about gun culture and the guys who love it. Saying you’re going to the gun range to let off some steam pretty much negates every single pro-NRA argument we’ve heard, but he was too stupid to see it.

As for those 5 accidental shootings in one week? Here they are:

• May 22, 2017:

18 year old Murfreesboro teenager accidentally shot himself in the foot.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Police now say an 18-year-old who suffered a gunshot injury to his foot accidentally shot himself in Murfreesboro not too far from Middle Tennessee State University.

It happened at University Gables on South Rutherford Boulevard just after midnight.

According to a police report, the victim initially said he was at a party at the apartment complex when shots were fired while he was by the basketball court and that he was struck in the foot when he began to run.

He was taken to St. Thomas Rutherford with minor injuries and police later determined it was an accidental shooting.

They always initially blame it on some drive-by or non-existent assailant. Of course it was an accidental shooting. They usually are.

• May 19, 2017:

2 injured in reported accidental shooting at gun store

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Two people were shot in what appears to have been an accident at a Madison gun store.

The incident happened just after 11 a.m. at nRange on Gallatin Pike North.

One person was shot in the ankle. The other was shot in the finger.

Police are continuing to investigate the situation.

At a gun store. You’d think people who handle firearms for their goddamn job would know what they were doing. You would be wrong.

• May 18, 2017:

Man’s gun goes off while shopping at Clinton Walmart

An off-duty employee of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department accidentally caused quite a bit of a scene inside an East Tennessee Walmart when his gun discharged during a shopping trip. 

According to an incident report from the Clinton Police Department, on May 18 Brian Ball told authorities he had just made his purchase at the Clinton Walmart and was walking past the restrooms when he heard a loud bang. Ball then realized his gun had gone off.

He told responding officers that the bullet blew a hole through his shorts and grazed off the inside of his foot, but he wasn’t severely injured. 

According to Chief Deputy Mark Lucas, Ball is an employee of the jail.

Ball explained to officers that the firearm wasn’t holstered and was loose in his right shorts pocket when it went off, according to the report.

Another customer standing across from the bathrooms reported hearing a loud bang and then “a small sting on her foot.” She then noticed a small scratch bleeding from one of her toes “that possibly came from the bullet fragments,” the incident report noted.

Ball said that right after the incident he checked to make sure he wasn’t hurt, then sat down on a bench inside the store and cleared the firearm and took out the magazine.

Investigators found that the gun that discharged was not his service weapon, but was one he had registered with a Tennessee handgun carrying permit.

Ah, a CCW holder, one of our “safest, most responsible NEVER” citizens. I’m so glad our state legislature elevated CCW holders to near holy status, making sure they can carry everywhere and anywhere, as if they’ve got some kind of damn superpowers, even though this dufus had a gun loose in his shorts pocket.

Let us dispense with the assumption that these idiots are any safer or more responsible than your average Walmart redneck.

• May 16, 2017:

Police report: 10-year-old in Bradley Co. accidentally shot himself with his parents’ gun

BRADLEY COUNTY, Tenn. — A ten year old boy accidentally shoots himself in Bradley County, and according to an incident report he used his parent’s gun.

Family says the boy is ok and now out of the hospital.

[…]

According to a police report, the 10-year-old was in his bedroom when he accidentally shot himself in the arm.
His parents told officers that he was talking to his friend on the computer when they heard a gunshot.

His parents also told police they didn’t know he had gotten a hold of the gun they’d “put up in a safe place.” The police report doesn’t specify if it was locked up.

Warren Duncan owns a gun shop.

Dad owns a gun shop. You’d think people who handle firearms for their goddamn job would know what safe gun storage is all about. But I repeat myself.

• May 16, 2017:

Teen accidentally shot after home burglary

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) – Video helped Memphis police chase down a 15-year-old, who they say accidentally shot a 14-year-old right after a burglary.

Using video from a camera inside the home, police instantly recognized the two teens. They knew where they hung out and quickly left to find them.

An alert of an intruder on Rhonnie Brewer’s phone Saturday afternoon warned she and her daughter about the two teens inside their home.

Brewer called police as her daughter watched the teens rummage through their East Memphis home looking for valuables.

“They had pretty much pulled out every drawer, every (sic) clothes from out of the closet, I mean just deeply looking at things,” Brewer said.

An alarm triggered by Brewer’s phone scared away the two boys before police arrived.

Two iPads, about $500, her daughter’s backpack with a library book inside, and Brewer’s hand gun were all taken that afternoon from her Leatherwood home.

“I wasn’t so much worried about myself and my own safety as much, as it was what he would do while he was afraid with a loaded weapon,” Brewer said.

That loaded weapon was fired accidentally not long after the burglary, hitting a 14-year-old boy.

I love that Rhonnie Brewer has a sophisticated in-home security system with video cameras and cell-phone alerts but doesn’t have a goddamn gun safe in her house. Lock your fucking weapons up, lady. What the hell is wrong with you?

People are just too stupid to own guns.

16 Comments

Filed under Guns, Tennessee

Institutions

Hey, anyone remember “Travelgate,” the nothingburger Clinton-era “controversy” over Bill Clinton’s firing of seven people in the White House travel office? There was a special prosecutor assigned to the case and a House investigation. Travel Office Director Billy Dale was indicted for embezzlement but acquitted. The Clintons were cleared of wrongdoing, but it was the first big smear against the Clinton Administration and Hillary Clinton.

This was about firing people in the travel office. The fucking travel office. Fast forward to today and we have Donald Trump firing FBI Director James Comey who is investigating his campaign’s ties to Russia and all we hear from Republicans is that they are “concerned.”

Oh.

“Concerned.”

I wonder what that means:

I wonder which definition of “concerned” applies to Congressional Republicans? I’m starting to think it’s #3.

Look, I keep hearing from people that our institutions are strong enough to survive a Trump regime. With each day unleashing a fresh new hell on our democratic institutions — Twitter threats, cancelling press briefings, a new voter suppression scheme — it seems I must remind Republicans in Congress that you are the institution!

If you are an elected member of Congress, YOU’RE THE DANG INSTITUTION. Stop acting like our “institutions” are some building somewhere that you have no connection to. The U.S. Senate is an institution. The House of Representatives is an institution.

Stop sitting around with your finger in the air waiting to see which way the wind will blow. The wind is going to blow your ass out of office if you don’t step up and do something.

31 Comments

Filed under Congress, Donald Trump

Those Oppressed Christians

Trump used the National Day of Prayer yesterday to suck up to the Fundiegelicals, issuing a meaningless proclamation and saying,

“We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore,” Trump proclaimed, which were marking the National Day of Prayer. “And we will never, ever stand for religious discrimination. Never, ever.”

And by “people of fath” he of course means Christians. Certainly not the Muslims he’s trying to ban from entering the country, or the Jews he can’t remember to mention on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The idea that Christians have been “targeted, bullied or silenced” is bullshit: have they been denied marriage licenses or the right to adopt? Have their spouses of 40+ years been refused funeral cremation services, as recently happened in Mississippi?

Of course not. But they have been witness to the secularization of American society, something they have been powerless to stop. This is the real “oppression” they decry, and yet there’s a very good reason they can’t stop it: they are part of it. They want the benefits of secularism but not the costs. They want to attend football games on Sunday but don’t want their influence on American society to wane. They want to participate in secular culture while holding themselves above it.

American Christians long ago adopted the secular value set of popular culture. As someone whose brief tenure in Christian music coincided with the genre’s 1990’s “crossover” era, I saw first-hand how the faithful coveted acceptance by mainstream culture. It was kind of gross, to be honest. Every artist’s position on the Billboard charts — not the Christian charts, mind you, but the real ones, the Billboard Top 200 and Hot 100 — was shouted from the rooftops as if it were all the proof one needed that God isn’t dead. Every one of them had to beat their chests over how Bono was a Christian, as if  U2’s success validated their faith. It was a weird time. Did listening to a Jars of Clay album make anyone a Christian? Doubtful. But plenty of people confused platinum album sales with successful evangelism.

This is part of a larger flaw in white Southern evangelical Christianity. There’s this belief that material success is the outward manifestation of spiritual worthiness. It’s proof that one has been “chosen” by God. It has to be that, right? To concede that it might more accurately be the result of privilege and decades of the cards being stacked in your favor at the expense of others would be to concede complicity in an unjust system. Few have the moral courage to admit that. Better to believe that the system is fair and success a sign of righteousness.

But consumerism and secularism go hand in hand. You can’t value material success and be part of consumer culture while professing to be apart from it. The Christian entertainment business is just the most obvious example of this; there are plenty of others.

Last week I talked to a refugee from Congo who’s working as a dishwasher at The Cheesecake Factory. He’s a Christian and he told me it upset him that he was forced to work on Sundays. “People should be at church on Sunday,” he said. That’s actually how it used to be in the U.S., back when we had Blue Laws and Sunday beer sales were banned and people were supposed to spend the Sabbath in Sunday school and Christianity really was the dominant force in American society.

Those days are long gone — good riddance, I certainly don’t miss them — but it shows how far we’ve come from the time when we really were a “Christian nation.” So enough with the hissy fits over a store clerk wishing you “Happy  Holidays.” You can go to a Walmart or Cracker Barrel on any Sunday morning and see the place packed with the faithful, who are worshipping at the altar of the cash register instead of sitting in a church pew where my Congolese friend wishes he could be.

Here’s another example, the latest entry in the Nashville retail market. Altar’d States sells stylish women’s fashions in one of Nashville’s hippest, most upscale neighborhoods. What makes it a Christian business? Well, there are Bible verses on the wall and the company donates money to charity. Weak tea, if you ask me, but I’m sure that will be good enough to bring the faithful through their doors to load up on the latest high-end fashions. Apparently that’s all it takes to be a “Christian” business these days, and nobody seems disturbed that a company is using faith as a branding mechanism.

People want to know how evangelicals could support a man like Donald Trump, who is the antithesis of all they claim to value. Easy. Consumerism and secularism go hand in hand, and once American Christianity embraced consumer culture, it devalued and cheapened its spiritual faith. American Christianity is by and large a secular religion today, in that it has embraced consumerism. This makes it easy to overlook Trump’s ickier aspects — the vulgarity, the allegations of sexual assault, the lack of humility– and lift Trump up as a member of the Christian club. As long as Trump hates all the right people — liberals, Obama, etc. — they are cool with whatever he does.

Christians aren’t oppressed, they’re corrupted. They forgot they’re supposed to be in the world, not of it. They want cultural influence but have only themselves to blame for their lack of it.

31 Comments

Filed under Christianity, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

Signs of the Times

I don’t know what to say about the fact that Kentucky’s Coal Museum is powered by solar panels but …. here it is, folks:

Tre’ Sexton said he was surprised when his company, Bluegrass Solar, was approached about the project. If there was one building in eastern Kentucky that wouldn’t have a solar-power system, you’d think it would be the coal museum, he said.

“Really the first time that I sat down and was talking about it with everybody, I was like…are you for real? They’re really going to go for this?” Sexton said. “I mean, that would be like showing up at a bank and they ask you if you’d mind taking some of this money out of the vault.”

But putting solar panels on top of the coal museum makes sense economically, Sexton said. Public attractions like this one can’t be profitable if they’re dealing with expensive electric bills every month. And people in eastern Kentucky are becoming more interested in alternative energy options.

There’s been a lot of discussion about coal and coal jobs lately, mostly because everyone always panders to coal states like West Virginia and Pennsylvania during election season. Both sides do it, and both sides are wrong. I mean, Republicans are the worst — Trump is famously making promises he can’t deliver, while Republicans are hanging sick retired miners out to dry. Democrats can be just as bad, though. Remember Alison Grimes, running for Kentucky Senate, criticizing President Obama on the loss of coal jobs? Her “concern” was such obvious bullshit, everyone knew it, and of course she got called on it.

Democrats and Republicans need to just stop this nonsense. These are not stupid people. They know their industry is dying. Stop promising to pull a Lazarus on a dying industry. It’s like it’s 1910 and politicians are promising to bring back wagons and farriers. I wonder how a politician of either party would fare if they came into coal country and said, “look, market forces have changed, coal has been replaced, let’s transition your economies to other industries with aggressive economic development and education programs.”

Would that get respect or a barrage of lying SuperPac ads? Probably the latter. That was basically Hillary Clinton’s message, and we all know how well that went over. Thing is, people just want to dream the impossible dream. Lie to me, please. Tell me that you can save my local coal mine, even if that one in Pennsylvania is shutting down. No, these people aren’t stupid, they’re desperate. Desperation is a hard emotion to address during a campaign.

But here we are. That the fucking Kentucky Coal Museum is being powered by solar panels because it’s more economical just says it all, doesn’t it? Coal has been dying for decades, and it’s not because of Obama or the EPA, it’s because of “market forces” and the damn numbers, folks. They don’t add up:

Coal mining jobs, meanwhile, have also fallen 70% since 1985, a loss of 120,000 jobs.

The coal industry has lost much of its customer base not because of regulations but because natural gas production has soared, pushing down the price of that cleaner source of electrical power.

In addition, falling costs for green energy, such as solar and wind power, have cut the demand for coal. So has a move by overseas markets, like China, to shift away from coal in an attempt to clean up badly polluted air.

Lots of people wonder why every election we pander to an industry that accounts for around the same number of employees as Whole Foods Markets:

It’s a good question. I have to say, this is an issue where both sides get it way wrong. I love the anti-fracking people on the left, you know, the ones who just couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s “pro-fracking” and that’s a dealbreaker. Well then, are you in favor of climate change? Are you pro-mountaintop removal mining? Because those are the choices right now. Coal is dying — has been dying, for decades — because natural gas is ascending, and we get natural gas from fracking. So pick your poison.

And yes, solar and wind are good options but we do not have the infrastructure to transition our entire economy to these sources overnight. Our grid can’t accommodate it right now. We need that “Apollo program for energy” that we’ve been promised, but it’s not happening yet. So it has to happen in bits and pieces. Like the Kentucky Coal Museum putting solar panels on its roof, or this coal operation in eastern Kentucky planning a solar farm on a reclaimed strip mine.

We pander to an industry that supplies fewer than 100,000 jobs because there’s a lot of history attached to it and it’s a cultural touchstone. Much of “coal country” is in a culturally rich part of the nation which has supplied America with its most beloved artists, music and literature.

I’m shocked that as much as we pander to this region, we haven’t offered any realistic plan to bail it out this time around. You know, like we did in the 1930s with the creation of TVA, or Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Maybe it’s a sign of our dysfunctional government that we just can’t do big things anymore.

Donald Trump can’t save the coal industry. Neither can Republicans. Nor can Democrats. Coal communities are going to have to find the answer within:

The old mind-set that the region needs a big jobs provider – like coal – is hard to break. Younger generations watch their parents endure unsteady employment and worry about their own prospects. Older generations can’t visualize a different way forward.

One mistake outsiders make, many here say, is thinking all this is actually about coal. It’s not. It’s more about the life coal provided. Where else could you earn $80,000 a year with a high school education or less?

“Embrace the change or be left behind,” says Jeff Combs of Hazard, Ky., standing outside a bed-and-breakfast on a hill overlooking the community’s nearly vacant downtown. “Be open-minded. Be open-minded to more.” Mr. Combs’s father, a former coal miner, implored him to avoid the mines. It was tough work, dangerous and unhealthy in the long term. Combs’s father was on disability in his 50s.

Is there a politician out there with the guts and fortitude to offer a little tough love? Who can say, point blank, times have changed and you have to change with them? Today’s jobs require education and skills, that’s just the reality. Gone are the days when you could drop out of high school and earn a good living in the mines. That’s over. Blaming treehuggers or liberals isn’t going to change that. But blaming others for things we feel powerless to change just feels so much better, doesn’t it?

24 Comments

Filed under energy conservation, energy future, environment, solar energy

Farewell, Bill O’Reilly

Twenty years too late, Bill O’Reilly was finally fired from Fox News.

Herewith, from deep in the memory hole, that infamous dance remix of his “fuckit, we’ll do it live” meltdown.

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Filed under Bill O'Reilly, FOX NEWS

Elections Have Consequences, An UPDATE

Sorry for the long absence, I’ve been working like crazy.

Updating this post from last month about the poor citizens of Camden, Tennessee. To recap: a landfill in Camden, TN, started accepting hazardous waste under a loophole our Republican governor helped push through allowing landfill operators to privately petition the state’s Underground Storage Tank and Solid Waste Disposal Control Board. This means a landfill that Camden citizens thought was accepting just regular old household waste was, without any public notice or public disclosure, suddenly taking in dangerous chemicals, and the reason nobody knew about it is because Gov. Haslam removed all consumer representatives from that Board, so now it’s a bunch of industry cronies gladhanding each other and doing the ol’ wink-wink-nod-nod as their buddies pollute your drinking water.

Hilariously, the Camden residents decided to ask the EPA to help out, you know, the same EPA the man they overwhelmingly voted to be president wants to eliminate and the woman they overwhelmingly support as their Congressmonster wants to defund and fold into the Dept. of Energy. It’s hilarious that everyone keeps voting for Republicans and then they end up with a toxic waste dump in their backyards and they still haven’t connected the dots.

So anyhoo, about that landfill:

CAMDEN — Operators of a controversial landfill generating hazardous waste have padlocked the gates and left the site. Two former workers said the company abandoned two tanker trucks full of potentially explosive ammonia, dozens of 250-pound plastic containers containing cadmium sludge and thousands of gallons of potentially toxic runoff near a residential neighborhood.

The company, Environmental Waste Solutions, filed for bankruptcy Tuesday.

That’s certainly not good. The citizens of Camden have every right to be pissed off, and they are:

“What if you lived next door to that?” Charles Hubbs asked Flood. “I smelled that thing this afternoon. I’m mad. I mean, I don’t care who knows….We’ve been told from the get-go that there’s no problem with hazardous waste. TDEC has for the last 10 years told us there is no problem. Everything is taken care of.”

“There was an opportunity to keep it from being the monster that it has become,” said Elizabeth Murphy, an attorney representing residents who live next door to the landfill in a long-running legal dispute with EWS. “That is at (TDEC Commissioner) Martineau’s feet…The failure has been abysmal. TDEC has failed. I have never seen anyone at TDEC really give a damn.

The landfill is home to a mound of waste that is the city’s tallest structure. It is covered partially by black tarp held down by tires, and an Astroturf-like material covers another area. Nothing will grow on the mound, nicknamed “Black Mountain” by state officials.

TDEC has failed because the state government is in Republican hands and modern Republicans don’t view environmental regulations as a benefit to peoples’ health and welfare, they view them as an obstruction to private profits. That is an absolute, 100%, incontrovertible fact. Remember Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s “TN Red Tape” tours?

Stop voting for Republicans, people. They don’t care about your water and air. C’mon, everybody knows that.

13 Comments

Filed under environment, EPA, Tennessee