“Standing ground”

“…calls to Idaho’s congressional delegation are running two to one or more for continuing the shutdown until President Barack Obama defunds or delays his health program. That’s why all four of Idaho’s Republican congressmen have steadfastly – up to now – stood their ground opposing reopening the government,” Rocky Barker reported in a Sunday, Oct. 13, Idaho Statesman story, which has gone nationwide.

In that loaded phrasing, Rocky telegraphs the subliminal tea-party message that, like George Zimmerman in Florida, the guys who have shut down the US government are just standing their ground to protect the neighborhood from the likes o’ that uppity, hoodie-wearing black kid from the white house down the road who don’t belong in this neighborhood anyhow!

“I believe we should stand our ground,” said Ted Cruz, the tea-party senator from Texas, pledging to derail Obamacare over the president’s guaranteed veto a few weeks ago, the Associated Press reported. Cruz was working up to his one-man fauxlibuster on the Senate floor, where he stood his ground for 21:19 hours to stop a House bill, which would do what he wants, from coming to a Senate vote, where it was amended after the senator’s tirade was over.

In recent weeks, such ground-standing has elevated Cruz to be the congressional face of the tea party—and it’s apparent shutdown strategist and visionary. While it is Congress that holds and has tied the government’s purse-strings largely through their efforts, Cruz and his ilk blame Obama and the Democrats for the government shutdown. Yesterday, Cruz co-opted a rally of veterans shut out of the World War II Memorial by the government closure when more than 300 Park Service workers who staff and maintain the National Mall, where the memorial is located, were furloughed.

Sunday’s protesters removed the barriers at the WWII memorial and stacked them outside the White House gates several blocks away. Park police, who are working without pay during the shutdown, secured the memorial again following the protest. Seems like Mr. Cruz wants federal employees to support his tea-party shenanigans by working overtime without pay.

Supposedly, Cruz and other tea-party Republicans want to keep the government closed until the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is defunded or delayed, as Rocky Barker has relayed. However, there’s something else going on.

While polling shows that less than a third of the country (28percent) supports the shutdown, it hasn’t mattered. House Speaker John Boehner could end the charade at any moment, by allowing a vote on a “clean” continuing resolution to loosen the government purse-strings. Boehner, too, has adopted the “stand your ground” motto and stance. He has concerns such as keeping both his seat representing his Ohio district and his seat as speaker, in control of the House of Representatives.

Idaho’s second congressional district is an excellent example of what’s at stake in the push to move the Grand Old Party even further to the radical right. Second district congressman Mike Simpson is a very conservative Republican, but he’s been in Washington long enough to understand, respect and master the process. He is on record saying that a shutdown is not an effective tactic for attacking Obamacare, which he has voted to repeal scores of times along with other House Republicans.

With sentiment for continuing the shutdown running two-to-one at home, Simpson would be foolhardy to sign a discharge petition to force a House vote and courageous to help pass a clean continuing resolution. According to Rocky Barker, Simpson hoped the situation would force an agreement to reopen affected parts of the federal government. Simpson has proposed piecemeal authorizations that would reopen the National Parks, for example. He said he could support a continuing resolution to end the shutdown without linking it to the Affordable Care Act for a short time, possibly two weeks.

If the shutdown continues through the end of the week, the Idaho National Lab, a mainstay of the Eastern Idaho economy (and Simpson’s wife’s employer) begins furloughs. Then, perhaps Simpson will hear the other side of the story. He may have a real race on his hands because of the shutdown. Unseating what passes these days as “moderate” Republicans like Simpson, and replacing them with more reactionary, tea-party leaning opponents, is another, key objective of the current congressional brinkmanship.

In districts like Simpson’s across the country, where Republicans are guaranteed the seat and where many of the 28 percent of Americans who support hijacking the government to stop Obamacare reside and vote, tea-party patriots are standing their ground and they’re not gonna let folks like Mike Simpson trample it.

Meanwhile, Washington Post columnist Matt Miller interviewed Canadian capitalists who wonder what all the fuss is about:

Canadians don’t understand Ted Cruz’s health-care battle

My take-away is that American businesses are crazy not to support a single-payer system, which would relieve them of any responsibility for employee health care, a huge and complex part of many companies’ costs.

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Response to Congressman Simpson’s Support for Keystone XL Pipeline

In this morning last week’s email was my weekly newsletter from my US Representative, Mike Simpson: http://simpson.house.gov/news/email/show.aspx?ID=7X4XRG3CWNYTHDJNOCY5JW3C24
In it, he explained his support for HR 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, which circumvents the need for a presidential permit, “addresses all other necessary federal permits and limits legal challenges that could serve as further delays to the advancement of the project.”

keystoneYellow: existing pipeline that spilled into Kalamazoo River.

I was moved to respond:

I am concerned about a number of factual misstatements in the Keystone XL Pipeline-HR 3 article in the newsletter I just received. You might want to have whoever drafted the Keystone article do a little more fact checking.

The substance being mined in Alberta has no resemblance to crude oil. It is more properly referred to as “tar sands” because it must be heavily processed before it can even flow in a pipeline. After that dirty, carbon-emitting process that wastes lots of other fossil fuel , what is then seeping through the pipeline is a caustic, water-fouling goo that doesn’t even float like oil. When a pipeline carrying tar oil ruptured in Michigan recently, it badly fouled the Kalamazoo River; so far, that clean-up has cost taxpayers $1 billion.

According to the State Dept., Keystone XL construction would provide 3,900 direct jobs, not 20,000. And if the pipeline were finished, it would provide only 35 US jobs.

Most misleading, however, is the claim that sending this pipe-eating goo across several major watersheds, the largest aquifer in North America and the heart of American farmland would have any effect on US energy independence. This stuff is destined for China. It’s just not worth the risk.

There is no benefit for Idahoans from the Keystone pipeline. It is so disappointing to see my congressman continually trying to undermine our environmental protections while taking campaign money from the very industries most threatening to our health and safety.

The following addendum is from a friend who grew up in Bakersfield, CA. His mother and sister still live there. He visits often and knows whereof he writes:

The Canadians are looking for some idiots to refine it. This is why they won’t refine it:
http://www.eco.on.ca/uploads/Reports-GHG/2013/2013GHG.pdf

Ten years ago some Canadian groups were pushing pretty hard to get a nuclear reactor to produce the heat required to separate the tarry shit from the sands. Talk about value for your dollar!

Because tar sands oil is a heavy, low-quality form of crude, it requires extensive “upgrading” to be transformed into fuel. Refining tar sands crude creates far more air pollution in American communities that are already burdened with cancer and poor air quality as a result of oil industry activities. Tar sands oil contains, among other toxic metals, 11 times more sulfur and nickel, six times more nitrogen, and five times more lead than conventional crude oil. Heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons released in tar sands refining have been linked to pre-natal brain damage. Nitrogen oxides, along with volatile organic compounds released in tar sands refining are the principal causes of smog and ground-level ozone. Exposure to nitrogen oxides is a direct cause of asthma, emphysema and other lung diseases. With plans to triple refining and transportation of tar sands by 2015, there is no question that air pollution and health problems in communities from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast will increase. — Sierra Club
http://www.sierraclub.org/dirtyfuels/tar-sands/faces/intro.aspx

Canadian tar sands crude heads to Bay Area refineries
By Matthias Gafni Contra Costa Times
Posted:   06/01/2013 04:00:00 PM PDT
Updated:   06/03/2013 09:01:29 AM PDT
http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_23366257/canadian-tar-sands-crude-heads-bay-area-refineries

All the crap in the air settles over Bakersfield where it gets stuck after drifting south from the Bay Area. We already have the worst air in the entire US!

“State of the Air”
American Lung Association
Page 13
http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/assets/ala-sota-2013.pdf