Good news from the MPCA?

July 29th, 2014

MPCA Web logo

Credit where credit is due!  MPCA, keep at it!  You all know I love to slap up the MPCA, well, any agency, when they’re missing the boat.  Well, I also am a big believer in letting them know when they’re doing something right, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re seeing the beginning of something important!

For most of this year, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been holding meetings about Environmental Justice, and it looks to me like the MPCA is working to shift active identification and recognition of environmental justice issues and impacted parties/resources to the agency.  Agency initiative.   Can this be?

Yesterday’s agenda (and GREAT food!):

28 July Agenda Final_MPCA

Check out the MPCA Environmental Justice Page!

I’m a grizzled old fart, and have been around agencies for entirely too long, but what is apparent is that this agency is taking the initiative to address environmental justice issues, and to be proactive, not just reactive.  And it’s not just me, there are a few other grizzled old farts who are encouraged, excited, and looking forward to progress.  It feels like something may be happening.

What I’ve also noticed is that the “usual suspect” organizations are absent.  There’s a big long list on the MPCA Environmental Justice Page and with one exception, they’re no shows.  Karen Monahan, Sierra Club, has done a lot to get this moving.  Is it that these other groups don’t care?  Is it a coincidence that things are happening in their absence?

The “Framework Elements” are:

  • Core Regulatory Services (Permitting, Compliance and Enforcement, etc.)
  • EJ Area Analysis
  • Enhanced Ouutreach
  • Consideration of Cumulative Impacts
  • Stakeholder Engagement

Hey, MPCA — can you post the handouts from yesterday and contact info and meeting notices?

If you are interested in what they’re doing, contact Ned Brooks, the MPCA’s Environmental Justice Coordinator: Ned.Brooks@state.mn.us

 

 

Hobby Lobby decision

June 30th, 2014

Here’s the full decision.  … sigh… read the Dissent:

Hobby Lobby_U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 13-354

A short version of this decision, with some implications, taken from the Ginsberg dissent:

In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ.

This decision mirrors the track of academic “free speech” which follows the institution, not the teachers or students.  This decision follows the corporation, not employees, allowing the corporation to impose its opinions and beliefs on individual workers.  Gee, thanks.

Read the decision, read the dissent…

 

The hate continues…

June 3rd, 2014

There are things that I find really offensive about Obama’s policies, most notably that he’s been a corporate toady, toadying for transmission lines, toadying for coal (IGCC and otherwise), his energy policies are a big yawn, much ado about nothing.  But to find him offensive in an offensive way, i.e., based on his actions, ???  I just don’t get it.  And to do this anonymously.  That is a line for me, rather than to publicly own or substantiate opinions or beliefs, rather than to publicly object and act, instead to act out secretly in this way… and given our history of lynching of Indians and African Americans in this country, as volatile as drowning of women deemed witches.  This gives me the creeps.

Dummy with Obama mask found hanging from bridge

And it’s happened before, many times:

Why is a Hangin’ Truck Driving Around NYC With President Obama on a Noose

Bush (a different bush) Arrested For Hanging Obama in Effigy

Obama Effigy Hung in Georgia Town

Neighbors Question Hanging Barak Obama Display

I couldn’t remember, much as Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes were vilified, much more than protests, I do remember dummies of Nixon, and of course comments on the order of Shawn in the bathroom saying he was “making pictures of Richard Nixon.”  So I did some looking, and I’d forgotten a few:

Pants on Fire Bush effigy tours the US

GW Bush Burns in Effigy

Protesters Hang Nixon in Effigy

And there’s a longstanding history of hanging in effigy:

(and now I can’t find it)   … still looking for a choice article that disappeared…

Bundy

Last post on this, Paul Krugman says it all.  Really…. well… probably…

In yesterday’s New York Times, Paul Krugman says very clearly what I’ve been trying to wrap my head around.  Cliven Bundy is a moocher, no doubt, I’ve called him a “welfare queen” too, but the hatred Bundy spews is… is… well, read what Krugman has to say, he puts it all together.

The anti-government mindset is indeed a problem.  Just Friday, I ran into it when a friend repeated the mantra, “You know what’s wrong, it’s the government, the government is too powerful,” when we were attending a hearing focused on utility power (“why do you think they call them power companies”), where it was a utility trying to take someone’s land.  HUH?  How is that an example of problem with “government?”  The landowner in the middle of the fray clearly stated her take, “It’s the utilities, the corporations have too much power.”  Yup, my take too.  How does it become an issue of “too much government?”  This highlights the failure of our individuals and schools to foster critical thinking compounded by the acceptance of the non-stop media regurgitation of false and twisted information.  But hey, that’s just another display of corporate power.

The only thing I’d change?  Where Krugman says it’s a perversion regarding “freedom of the wealthy,” I think it’s more freedom of ANYONE, and so I’d make this edit:

For at the heart of the standoff was a perversion of the concept of freedom, which for too much of the right has come to mean the freedom of the wealthy to do whatever they want, without regard to the consequences for others.

Paul-Krugman

Here are Krugman’s thoughts:

High Plains Moochers

It is, in a way, too bad that Cliven Bundy — the rancher who became a right-wing hero after refusing to pay fees for grazing his animals on federal land, and bringing in armed men to support his defiance — has turned out to be a crude racist. Why? Because his ranting has given conservatives an easy out, a way to dissociate themselves from his actions without facing up to the terrible wrong turn their movement has taken.

For at the heart of the standoff was a perversion of the concept of freedom, which for too much of the right has come to mean the freedom of the wealthy to do whatever they want, without regard to the consequences for others.

Start with the narrow issue of land use. For historical reasons, the federal government owns a lot of land in the West; some of that land is open to ranching, mining and so on. Like any landowner, the Bureau of Land Management charges fees for the use of its property. The only difference from private ownership is that by all accounts the government charges too little — that is, it doesn’t collect as much money as it could, and in many cases doesn’t even charge enough to cover the costs that these private activities impose. In effect, the government is using its ownership of land to subsidize ranchers and mining companies at taxpayers’ expense.

It’s true that some of the people profiting from implicit taxpayer subsidies manage, all the same, to convince themselves and others that they are rugged individualists. But they’re actually welfare queens of the purple sage.

And this in turn means that treating Mr. Bundy as some kind of libertarian hero is, not to put too fine a point on it, crazy. Suppose he had been grazing his cattle on land belonging to one of his neighbors, and had refused to pay for the privilege. That would clearly have been theft — and brandishing guns when someone tried to stop the theft would have turned it into armed robbery. The fact that in this case the public owns the land shouldn’t make any difference.

So what were people like Sean Hannity of Fox News, who went all in on Mr. Bundy’s behalf, thinking? Partly, no doubt, it was the general demonization of government — if someone looks as if he is defying Washington, he’s a hero, never mind the details. Partly, one suspects, it was also about race — not Mr. Bundy’s blatant racism, but the general notion that government takes money from hard-working Americans and gives it to Those People. White people who wear cowboy hats while profiting from government subsidies just don’t fit the stereotype.

Most of all, however — or at least that’s how it seems to me — the Bundy fiasco was a byproduct of the dumbing down that seems ever more central to the way America’s right operates.

Read the rest of this entry »

Can someone explain what this meme means???  It’s popping up lately, and when I ask what it means… oh my, that seems to be a bit problematic.

There are some facts floating around that, when combined with this, leave me scratching my head…

1) Bush lied to start a war.

2) Obama had Osama bin Laden killed.

3) Syria’s Assad is gassing his people.

So … anyone care to explain?

Meme