* There are more noble people in the world than me – The Washington Post reports that the white supremacist responsible for murdering Holocaust Museum security guard Stephen T. Johns was being treated at George Washington University Hospital by a staff that includes Blacks, Jews and Middle Easterners. I would have a difficult time working to keep this poor excuse for a human being alive. If I had been driving the ambulance carrying the wounded shooter James W. von Brunn to the hospital I would have stopped at Five Guys for burgers and fries – not to go.
* Heavens to Betsy ~ a hell of a story - Texan Leonso Canales Jr. has convinced the Kleberg County commissioners to unanimously designate "heaven-o" as the county's official greeting. The reason: "hello" contains the word "hell." Who says that Texans are not a thinking breed? I believe that Mr. Canales, with an apparent DNA connection to the Italian pastry cannoli, has come upon something. Using cannoli logic; deviled eggs should be removed from American menus; Green Goddess is the only dressing allowed at salad bars; everyone living in Wisconsin should be excommunicated; Lady Godiva should be nominated for sainthood (if she puts on some clothes); and as an alternative to heaven-o we can use the word “goodbye” when coming and going. If we really want to be closer to the Almighty perhaps we should all sneeze more often.
* Calling a spade a spade – Watching Pat Buchanan on MSNBC one sees an articulate and irascible spokesman for the conservative point of view. When on cable news Buchanan takes relative care to mask his racism. Off camera he is the promoter of the Great White Hope mentality that yearns for the days when white folk dominated America’s culture. Buchanan’s true colors can be seen when observing the activities of his group American Cause (you have to love such patriotic sobriquets). At the upcoming American Cause conference the guest speaker will be white nationalist and anti-immigration website editor Peter Brimelow. According to Think Progress Buchanan has appeared at least twice on a Neo-Nazi radio show. This link provides a photo of Buchanan appearing with fellow hate mongers Filip DeWinter and Frank Vanhecke. Perhaps it is time for MSNBC and Chris Matthews to stop back patting Pat and allow him to ooze to the fringe of society where he is most compatible. To supplement any lost income Mr. Buchanan can make appearances at white supremacist rallies as the Pillsbury doughboy.
* Calling a predator a bank – Former loan officers for Wells Fargo Bank are signing affidavits that for a decade, Wells Fargo systematically singled out blacks in Baltimore and suburban Maryland for high-interest subprime mortgages. Loan officers pushed customers who could have qualified for prime loans into subprime mortgages. The affidavits provide the first detailed accusations of deliberate racial steering into subprimes by one of the nation’s top banks. The attorney generals for both Illinois and New York have raised similar questions about lending practices at Wells Fargo. “Loan officers received cash incentives to aggressively market subprime loans in minority communities.” Such practices have taken a “great toll on customers” by adding three points to such mortgages and adding $100,000 to the repayment of a $165,000 loan. When will “esteemed” financial executives begin going to jail for their deceit, dishonesty and criminal behavior and the havoc they caused to the American economy and American citizens. Smoke a joint and get three years in jail. Stink up the joint and get another parking spot at the country club. Welcome to the American Dream constructed on nightmares.
* Take 2 aspirin because healthcare reform will be a bruising battle – The American Medical Association (AMA) has made statements that it opposes a public option for health insurance. There has been the perception that this iconic organization speaks for a broad base of physicians in this country. According to Healthcare.Change.org the AMA represents only about 20% of medical doctors and only about half of its members are practicing physicians. I have heard it stated in an interview on NPR that the AMA does not even poll its members. So when the AMA makes a policy statement who is it speaking for and to what end? How many private health insurers and pharmaceutical companies are influencing the policy stances of the AMA?
A more representative group of physicians is Doctors for America, an organization representing doctors in all fifty states. They recently issued a statement in support of a public health insurance option. This link offers a summary of the state of healthcare in America today and the group’s position on a number of issues important to all of us.
* The myth of “clean” coal – Producers and users of coal are spending millions of dollars to convince Americans that coal is a clean energy source. It reminds one of the attempt by credit card companies to convince Americans that they are looking out for the welfare of consumers. Putting aside the fact that the burning of coal is a major contributor to greenhouse gases, the coal ash resulting from the burning of coal creates a major environmental hazard as well. In January I commented on the mythology of clean coal following the sludge spill of coal ash in Tennessee: “In 2007 the plant’s byproducts included: “45,000 pounds of arsenic, 49,000 pounds of lead, 1.4 million pounds of barium, 91,000 pounds of chromium and 140,000 pounds of manganese. Those metals can cause cancer, liver damage and neurological complications, among other health problems.”
This week the Department of Homeland Security reported to a Senate committee that the coal ash situation is so bad “the committee can't publicly disclose the location of coal ash dumps across the country… The pollution is so toxic, so dangerous, that an enemy of the United States -- or a storm or some other disrupting event -- could easily cause them to spill out and lay waste to any area nearby.” There are now 44 sites across America (out of several hundred) deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency to be high hazard.” Between domestic right-wing extremists and malfeasant environmental oversight al Qaeda can retire. Clean coal my ash!
And if the burning of coal were not sufficiently destructive there is the matter of mountaintop removal coal mining, a practice that allows the coal industry to dynamite the tops off of mountains to get at the thin coal seams underneath and bulldoze the remaining rubble into the valleys below. According to the organization Earth Justice the real price we pay for this type of coal mining is, “ … the hundreds of flattened mountaintops ... poisoned drinking water ... thousands of miles of buried streams, and American landscapes that now more closely resemble desolate moonscapes than the lush wilderness they were just a generation ago.” The next time you see one of the bucolic ads on television promoting “clean coal” it would be good to remember that there is no such thing.
* “Politicians fascinate because they constitute such a paradox; they are an elite that accomplishes mediocrity for the public good.”
George F. Will, columnist for the Washington Post