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BREAKING: Thousands in Gulf Suffer from Misdiagnosed Skin Lesions

In Politics on July 30, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Image: ProjectGulfImpact.com

Our friends at Project Gulf Impact have just released this photo and story:

Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana—Area residents have begun to show up at clinics and hospitals with mysterious scabs and pustules covering their extremities, as reported from residents to non-profit relief organizations in the Gulf.

One thirty-three year-old woman, who wished to remain anonymous, has disclosed to Project Gulf Impact that upon seeking medical advice at a clinic, she was told she had scabies. Hours later, she was told by an area hospital that she had a staph infection. The woman was treated with a shot of penicillin and Elimite cream, a topical agent for the treatment of scabies mite infestations, and an oral antibiotic. In addition to the lesions, the woman reported aching bones, weight loss, stomach pains, inflammation in her leg and sties developing in her eyes.

Other residents have shown up at local doctors and area hospitals reporting similar symptoms. According to area residents suffering from the mysterious rash, patients feel like they are not being given the proper medical treatment. Doctors have told area patients they are suffering from scabies with no clear diagnosis and from Staphylococcus infections with no underlying cause.

Exposure to chemicals, such as those being used to break down oil in the region, like the dispersant, Corexit, may be the cause of such infections. Corexit is an agent that has been proven to break down lipid membranes, which cover and protect human skin. Human skin is composed of a thin layer of lipids and Corexit, by nature, breaks down these organized barriers into smaller individual molecules allowing the barrier to become permeable to pathogens. The skin irritation could be caused by prolonged exposure to these chemicals and could break down the ability of the body to fight off infection.

Economic conditions in the Gulf have left many people without health insurance, leaving them with little recourse in terms of medical care. Noted Marine toxicologist and Exxon Valdez survivor Riki Ott first reported the effects of dispersants on July 7, 2010 in The Huffington Post.

For more information, follow Project Gulf Impact on Twitter @PrjGulfImpact or visit http://www.projectgulfimpact.org.

Read our post about Corexit here and keep up with our Gulf updates here. We’re 100% behind our friends at Project Gulf Impact. Donate to get them back to the gulf to continue to tell the story of the people of the region here.

– SH

Note: Our other posts on the dispersant, Corexit, and the impact of the oil spill on the people of the gulf region are here, here, here and here.

Weiner Watch

In 2010 Midterm Elections, Message/Framing, Politics on July 30, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Democratic Hero Rep. Anthony Weiner

We at The Donkey Edge are starting yet another feature we like to call Weiner Watch.  We have been huge fans of Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), especially since the health care reform debate of last year.

Never one to mince words, Weiner was a solid advocate for not only the public option but also for the fact that single payer was the most cost-effective and efficient health care system.

Sadly, the Democratic leadership did not listen.

But Congressman Weiner is never one to back down from a fight and continually stands up to Republicans, calling them out for their lies and their bullying tactics.  He never adopts right-wing frames and never gives in to conservative dogma.

To wit, Weiner has said:

On health care reform

“Make no mistake about it, every single Republican I have ever met in my entire life is a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.”

To Bill O’Reilly

I don’t know how else to say this, Bill, I have a very big burden debunking every one of the mistakes your making…

On gay marriage

Sooner or later they are going to live in a New York City where gay marriage is not only legal, but it’s common and they don’t even notice.

And he has targeted Goldline (which uses Glenn Beck as its shill) for its allegedly fraudulent activities, calling it an “unholy alliance” between the two.

But last night, Rep. Weiner saved his harshest criticism to date for the Republicans, most of whom voted against the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would have given much-needed health care to those 9/11 first responders and clean-up volunteers who are now sickened by the toxins they were exposed to at Ground Zero.

The Democrats called for a two-thirds majority vote on this issue in order to prevent the Republicans from attaching overly partisan amendments to what should have been a slam-dunk passage of a popular bill.  But the Republicans stood behind procedure and voted against the bill, denying these 9-11 heroes the health care they need and so richly deserve.

Here’s Rep. Weiner’s fiery speech on the floor of Congress:

He even went on Faux News later to defend his outrage and to debate his colleague, Peter King (R-NY), who allowed all but 12 members of his caucus to vote against the bill, hiding behind procedure (starts at 7:28 mark).

To those Democrats who think he may have gone too far or ended up showing weakness or ineffectiveness in the face of Republican bullying tactics, I will use Congressman Weiner’s own words against them.

Don’t be one of those Democrats who “bring a library book to a knife fight.”

People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake every day, and we need more people like Rep. Anthony Weiner to defend us.

-SF

More Updates on the Royal Mess in the Gulf

In BP Oil Spill, Donkey Activism, Environment, Politics on July 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm

This is a continuation of our original post “Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water”. We needed a bigger boat:

NOTE: Our other articles on Corexit and the impact of the oil spill on the people of the gulf are here, here and here.

8/2 10AM UPDATE: Note: Here’s a new post on proof that Corexit is in the gulf food chain.

8/1 4:00PM UPDATE: We may never know how much Corexit was dumped into the Gulf. Today from the Christian Science Monitor:

BP has said that it used 1.8 million gallons of dispersant before the well was capped on July 15. But Rep. Edward Markey (D) of Massachusetts said that with the new documents: “The validity of those numbers are now in question.”

Because:

On June 16, Markey notes, BP told the Coast Guard that its use of Corexit had never exceeded 3,365 gallons in any recent day. Yet e-mails to Congress told a different story. In fighting the Gulf oil spill on June 12 and 13, the e-mails noted, BP used 14,305 gallons 36,000 gallons respectively.

But there were safer alternatives to Corexit:

Markey has been Congress’s fiercest critic of the use of dispersants. His agitation on the issue in part led to the EPA’s May 25 directive.

The directive was in response to the EPA’s failed attempt to force BP to stop using Corexit altogether. By the EPA’s own tests, Corexit is more toxic and less effective than 12 other products on the market.

BP, however, refused to comply with the EPA demand, saying no other manufacturers could meet its overwhelming needs. The Obama administration ultimately agreed, though at least one manufacturer challenged BP’s assertion.

The rest of the article is here.

7/31 10:00PM UPDATE: Everything’s back to normal: the Alabama beaches are open, Florida has lifted the ban on fishing, and after a slight delay shrimping season has begun! I’m so glad that’s over. As the LA Times reports:

Federal forecasters said Friday significantly less oil was being observed in aerial views of the gulf. The size of the oil slick has been reduced dramatically ever since a snug-fitting cap was installed atop the failed oil well 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.

Because we can’t see the oil, the oil simply isn’t there. Duh. All we needed was a “snug fitting” cap. Now, what about the fish?

“We are confident all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that seafood harvested from waters being opened … is safe, and that gulf-seafood lovers everywhere can be confident eating and enjoying the fish and shrimp that will be coming out of this area,” said FDA chief Margaret Hamburg, who has been leading extensive testing of gulf seafood by chemical analysis and human sniffing.

(“Gulf seafood lovers everywhere…” is this copy from a Red Lobster commercial?) And the human nose is the science behind opening the gulf waters to fishing? You can’t be serious. Oh, you ARE serious?

Robert Downs leads the scientists who sniff at fish. Each day, his team of seven sensory experts dip their noses into large Pyrex bowls of snapper, tuna and other raw seafood to test for even a whiff of the pungent oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

So all it needs to do is pass the smell test.

“We use specific terms for the aroma,” said Downs, who supervises the seafood smellers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine lab here. “Diesel oil. Bunker oil. Asphalt. Rubber-band-like. Tar.”

The fish smellers are part of a major effort by NOAA, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and state governments to ensure that the still-leaking oil doesn’t pollute the nation’s food supply. Partially because of the sniffers, NOAA has banned fishing in more than a third of the Gulf of Mexico, 81,181 square miles in all. State officials also have barred fishing along more than 550 miles of beaches and bayous from Louisiana to northern Florida.

“We have found tainted fish,” said John Stein, who runs the BP oil spill seafood safety testing program for NOAA. “It’s not uncommon.”

What exactly does Corexit smell like?

7/31 5:00PM UPDATE: From the Washington Post today:

While the BP well was still gushing, the Obama administration issued an order that limited the spreading of controversial dispersant chemicals on the Gulf of Mexico’s surface. Their use, they said, should be restricted to “rare cases.”

But in reality, federal documents show, it wasn’t rare at all.

Despite the order — and concerns about the environmental effects of the dispersants– the Coast Guard granted requests to use them 74 times over 59 days, and to use them on the surface and deep underwater at the well site. The Coast Guard approved every request sent in by BP or local Coast Guard commanders in Houma, La., although in some cases it reduced the amount of the chemicals they could use, according to a analysis of the documents prepared by the office of Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).

The documents indicate that “these exemptions are in no way a ‘rare’ occurrence, and have allowed surface application of the dispersant to occur virtually every day since the directive was issued,” Markey wrote in a letter dated Aug. 1 to retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen, the government’s point man on the spill. Markey chairs the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Some of them dealt with separate dispersant applications on the same day. Markey said it appeared that the order “has become more of a meaningless paperwork exercise” than a real attempt to curb use of the dispersants.

It’s all about perception, right?

Aaron Viles, at the Louisiana-based Gulf Restoration Network, said the Obama administration gave the impression of controlling the controversial dispersants while allowing their use to continue. The result, he said, was that more oil sank out of sight and out of reach of the cleanup operation.

“Clearly, you know, there was a bit of a show here,” Viles said. “Whether EPA wasn’t serious, or the Coast Guard didn’t care, they kept cranking, and kept exposing the Gulf of Mexico to this giant science experiment.”

Yes, a giant science experiment. Didn’t I read that somewhere earlier this week? The rest of the article is here.

7/31 2:00PM UPDATE: This is distressing:

As of July 15, more than 39,448 tons of BP oil spill waste was disposed in nine approved landfills in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Five of the nine the landfills receiving BP oil-spill solid waste are located in communities where people of color comprise a majority of residents living within a one-mile radius of the waste facilities.

A significantly large share of the BP oil-spill waste, 24,071 tons out of 39,448 tons (61 percent),was dumped in people of color communities. This is not a small point since African Americans make up just 22 percent of the coastal counties in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana, while people of color comprise about 26 percent of the population in coastal counties.These numbers present significant environmental justice implications that have not been addressed by government, including the U.S. EPA.

It is clear that theflow of BP oil-spill waste to Gulf Coast communities is not random. A disproportionately large share of the oil waste is headed to African American and other people of color communities. Dumping BP disaster waste on communities of color is not “green” nor is it a pathway to recovery and long-term sustainability,

Allowing BP, Gulf Coast states, and the private disposal industry to select where the oil-spill waste is dumped only adds to the legacy of environmental racism and unequal protection. Environmental justice communities and their allies are demanding that BP end the unfair waste dumping practice. They also want to see EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard engage in a more rigorous oversight of BP’s waste plan to ensure that no single community or population in the Gulf Coast states becomes the oil-spill waste dumping grounds.

H/T to OpEdNews for the story which you can find here.

7/31 9:00AM UPDATE: Perhaps BP is scaling back their cleanup operations a little early:

Marcus Little, of Semmes, Alabama, is a cleanup worker who was told by BP that Friday would be his last day. Little told the Press-Register that tar balls and “a layer of a cola-colored substance an inch or so below the surface,” are being left behind. “The latter, he said, makes the sand look like ‘vanilla ice cream with chocolate swirls,’” the newspaper reports.

“If you bring a shovel, you’ll see that the top of the sand is littered with what looks like chocolate chips, but they’re actually tiny tarballs,” Little said. “I clean the beaches, supposedly, and I find it very disturbing.”

Louisiana fishermen Mike Frenette, who is now employed in BP’s “Vessels of Opportunity” cleanup program, said that on Tuesday the spill was the worst he had seen it. Observing the catastrophe, he questioned whether or not the mainstream media lives in a “parallel universe,” according to the Times-Picayune.

“There was more oil at South Pass Tuesday than I’ve seen since this whole thing started; it was really discouraging,” Frenette told the New Orleans newspaper. “I don’t know where everyone else is looking, but if they think there’s no more oil out there, they should take a ride with me. I wish this thing was over so I could get back to fishing. But that’s just not the case. We’re a long way from finished with the oil.”

“I followed a line that stretched from South Pass to Southwest Pass probably two to three miles off the shore,” said Don Sutton, another fisherman employed in the cleanup. “And that wasn’t all we saw. There were patches of oil in that chocolate mousse stuff, slicks, and patches of grass with oil on them. The Gulf might look clear, but we’re still seeing oil coming ashore.”

I echo Mr. Frenette’s assessment: the mainstream media does live in a parallel universe. More from the wsws.org article here.

7/30 10:00PM UPDATE: Tonight WVUE-TV Fox 8 News in New Orleans has a report on the oil dispersant found in the crab larvae:

Preliminary findings that reveal that orange droplets found in tens of thousands of tiny blue crab larvae are characteristic of the controversial oil dispersants.

From the lab:

Now, researchers say it appears they’ve detected a Corexit sort of fingerprint in these orange blobs found lodged in the bodies of tiny blue crab larvae collected from marshes from Texas to Florida.

Corexit is much bigger problem than the oil:

Most components of oil won’t bio-accumulate meaning oil likely won’t reach the food chain… With Corexit no one really knows. If you’re a small fish and you eat a thousand of these larvae and all of them have oil or Corexit drops in them they could get into the fish and that little fish can be eaten and so-on and so-on.

On the unprecedented amount of dispersant used in the Gulf:

A toxicologist found out that some of these chemicals are in great excess of established and risk-based lethal levels.

H/T to WVUE-TV New Orleans on their report. The entire segment that aired tonight can be found here.

7/30 5:00PM UPDATE: I just received this comment from “Damnadamzama” on a post that I left on a Raw Story article about “Spillionaires” here:

I never get sinus headaches. I am in the Gulf Region. I have been getting earaches and splitting, raging sinus headaches in the last two weeks. Good thing I’m moving back to the Midwest. Eff this.

Wise decision.

7/30 3:30PM UPDATE: Here comes the new boss… same as the old boss:

BP’s incoming CEO said Friday that it’s time for a “scaleback” of the massive effort to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but stressed the commitment to make things right is the same as ever.

Tens of thousands of people — many of them idled fishermen — have been involved in the cleanup, but more than two weeks after the leak was stopped there is relatively little oil on the surface, leaving less work for oil skimmers to do.

And:

Bob Dudley, who heads BP’s oil spill recovery and will take over as CEO in October, said it’s “not too soon for a scaleback” in the cleanup, and in areas where there is no oil, “you probably don’t need to see people in hazmat suits on the beach.”

And by “you” he really means “stockholders”. More from Raw Story here.

7/30 2:40PM UPDATE: Toxicologist Susan Shaw on her personal experience with Corexit and fishermen who were splashed with the poisonous chemical:

Of the impact of Corexit on the Gulf.

A Susan Shaw primer on Corexit and it’s harmful effects at TED:

7/30 2:20PM UPDATE: What Digby said.

7/30 12:00PM UPDATE: BREAKING: Thousands in Gulf suffer from misdiagnosed skin lesions.

7/30 11:30AM UPDATE: Has Corexit already entered our food chain? There’s a good chance it has. From Huffington Post:

Scientists have found signs of an oil-and-dispersant mix under the shells of tiny blue crab larvae in the Gulf of Mexico, the first clear indication that the unprecedented use of dispersants in the BP oil spill has broken up the oil into toxic droplets so tiny that they can easily enter the foodchain.

Marine biologists started finding orange blobs under the translucent shells of crab larvae in May, and have continued to find them “in almost all” of the larvae they collect, all the way from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Pensacola, Fla. — more than 300 miles of coastline — said Harriet Perry, a biologist with the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

And now, a team of researchers from Tulane University using infrared spectrometry to determine the chemical makeup of the blobs has detected the signature for Corexit, the dispersant BP used so widely in the Deepwater Horizon

“It does appear that there is a Corexit sort of fingerprint in the blob samples that we ran,” Erin Gray, a Tulane biologist, told the Huffington Post Thursday. Two independent tests are being run to confirm those findings, “so don’t say that we’re 100 percent sure yet,” Gray said.

The rest of the article is here. And more from NewsInferno:

Scientists have raised yet another alarm about the dispersants BP has used in unprecedented amounts to break up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. According to GulfLive.com, researchers have found an oil and dispersant mix beneath the shells of post-larval blue crabs. The discovery is one of the first signs that the BP disaster is impacting the Gulf of Mexico food chain.

More evidence:

Now it appears that dispersants have broken the oil up into droplets tiny enough to easily enter the food chain. According to GulfLive.com, scientists fro the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory’s Center for Fisheries Research and Development said tiny droplets are visible under the transparent shells of 2-millimeter-sized post-larval blue crabs collected in Mississippi’s Davis Bayou.

To confirm their findings, the scientists sent some crabs to a testing firm in Pensacola, Florida, which also found evidence of hydrocarbons.

In addition to blue crabs, the droplets were also seen in fiddler crab larvae.

The post-larval blue crabs are vital to Gulf Coast fisheries, GulfLive said, as they serve as food for all types of fish and shore birds.

So where’s the Corexit?

According to a report on Huffington Post, other scientists involved in the study from Louisiana’s Tulane University used infrared spectrometry to determine the chemical makeup of the droplets. In doing so, they discovered the chemical marker for Corexit. Two independent tests are being run to confirm those findings.

More from the NewsInferno story here.

7/30 8:00AM UPDATE: Is Enbridge the new BP?

A Canadian company at the center of a huge oil spill in southern Michigan has a history of pipeline problems, including leaks, an explosion and dozens of regulatory violations.

Enbridge Inc. or its affiliates have been cited for 30 enforcement actions since 2002 by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s regulatory arm.

In a warning letter sent Jan. 21, the agency told the company it may have violated safety codes by improperly monitoring corrosion in the pipeline responsible for the massive spill Monday in Talmadge Creek. The creek feeds into the Kalamazoo River, which eventually flows into Lake Michigan.

Our regulatory agencies have gotten really good at writing letters that the companies have become really good at ignoring. Dear Obama Administration: More teeth, please. More here.

7/29 11:00PM UPDATE: Mental health claims probably won’t be paid by BP:

BP’s $20 billion fund to compensate those hurt by the Gulf oil spill will probably turn down one controversial class of claims: those for mental health problems.

In little-noted testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on July 21, Kenneth Feinberg, the independent “claims czar” who will decide who gets compensated, said the fund was not likely to pay damages for mental illness and distress alleged to be caused by the spill.

“If you start compensating purely mental anguish without a physical injury — anxiety, stress — we’ll be getting millions of claims from people watching television,” Feinberg said. “You have to draw the line somewhere. I think it would be highly unlikely that we would compensate mental damage, alleged damage, without a signature physical injury as well.”

Indeed: People watching “The View” are right out. More TLC here.

7/29 7:00PM UPDATE: This video freaks me out. Kubrick lives:

H/T to Human Rights Examiner who have a ton of articles on this mess. We found this video here.

7/29 6:30PM UPDATE: Newsweek reports on the mental toll the spill and it’s aftermath is taking on the residents:

Despite recent reports that the oil spill is clearing up faster than expected, anxiety and depression still linger among residents of the gulf coast. A survey of 406 Gulf coast residents indicated the far-reaching emotional toll of the spill, with younger residents and low income citizens showing the most distress.

18 percent of respondants in Louisiana showed signs of “probable serious mental illness”  — double the rate of 2007, two years after Katrina hit. The other gulf states showed a lesser amount, but still all higher than 2007 levels: 14 percent of Florida respondents, 12 percent of Mississippi respondents, and 10 percent of Alabama respondents showed signs of probable serious mental illness. Those surveyed in the lowest income category had a 32 percent chance of suffering from serious mental illness, compared to only 2 percent of those who made over $100,000.

More here.

7/29 6:00PM UPDATE: The NYT on the history of the Gulf of Mexico being the United States’ “Sink of Pollution”:

Even the coast itself — overdeveloped, strip-mined and battered by storms — is falling apart. The wildlife-rich coastal wetlands of Louisiana, sliced up and drastically engineered for oil and gas exploration, shipping and flood control, have lost an area larger than Delaware since 1930.

“This has been the nation’s sacrifice zone, and has been for 50-plus years,” said Aaron Viles, campaign director for the Gulf Restoration Network, a nonprofit group. “What we’re seeing right now with BP’s crude is just a very photogenic representation of that.”

More on this sad history here.

7/29 3:30PM UPDATE: Immediate Health Concerns from Helium:

Human health concerns:

Immediate physical health concerns for Gulf residents…

Coastal areas that have suffered oil and chemical contamination from the roving oil slicks should avoid breathing the toxic fumes which may be present. Anyone with compromised breathing conditions such as asthma, emphysema, or any other type of lung disorder might suffer serious consequences. Healthy individuals should realize the potential risk that toxic fumes can represent. Damage might include lungs, kidney, liver, eyes, and skin problems from exposure.

Some of the oil dispersant chemicals used on the oil slicks have unknown effects on human beings. Anyone who has direct contact with the oily chemical slime associated with the oil spill should wear protective gloves and clothing. It is important to avoid direct contact with the skin to avoid contamination with unknown side-effects.

Mental health concerns with the oil spill…

The human psyche is normally quite strong even under stress, but not everyone shares the same ability to handle the emotional stress that a catastrophe of this magnitude can produce. Those who have been most affected by the oil spill should consider professional help for themselves or family members who may be unable to deal with the emotional stress existing for some.

One suicide has already been attributed to the oil spill, and more will potentially follow. Post traumatic shock syndrome is a real possibility for some Gulf coast residents as this may represent a calamity that they cannot handle emotionally. Mental health is a risk factor that accompanies most disaster type conditions.

On the “new normal” of the Gulf as a “dead zone”:

Ecological consequences…

There are obvious short-term ecological consequences relating to bird and sea life habitats in coastal areas that have been contaminated by the oil slicks. Oyster beds, nesting areas for birds and turtles, and the habitats of crabs and other sea creatures are destroyed by exposure to the oil residue. Marshlands that are part of the barrier islands that rim the Gulf coast cannot survive oil contamination. It will likely take years for some of these areas to recover, if ever.

In a larger view of the situation, it is difficult to know to what extent the Gulf of Mexico may be able to renew itself. There is no question that there have been massive “kill zones” created by the massive oil slicks. Sea life is dead in some areas, but as a percentage of the size of the entire Gulf of Mexico it is actually a statistically small area by comparison.

More here.

7/29 3:00PM UPDATE: From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this afternoon:

…reports that oil has been disappearing from the surface have been exaggerated. “Yesterday there was a flight where no oil was seen. I don’t know how they took that flight, but they must have bobbed and weaved around the oil because in Plaquemines Parish there is oil all over…”

Evidence of plumes:

Little of the oil remains on the water, but that doesn’t mean it has all vanished. Scientists are worried that much of it has been trapped below the surface after more than 770,000 gallons of chemical dispersant were used to break up the oil a mile deep. They have found evidence of massive clouds of oil suspended in the water.In Orange Beach, Ala., Jack Raborn said he didn’t see any tar balls when he went to the shore Wednesday with friends and family. But when they entered the ocean, he said, the water was tainted. “It feels like you’ve got diesel fuel on you. It’s sticky,” said Raborn, 49. “I was optimistic before today. I’m really disturbed by what I found once we got in the water.”

More:

Oysterman Ronnie Kennair… is hoping for more work, especially given the prospects for his normal job. “I went and checked my oysters, actually, yesterday, and they’re 100 percent dead,” he said.

That’s good, because if someone would have eaten them they might be too. The rest is here.

7/29 2:30PM UPDATE: Some very early health impact reports From NewsInferno:

Meanwhile, we recently wrote that two Louisiana State University (LSU) sociology professors released a survey detailing some of the health impacts the BP oil spill is having on people living in Louisiana’s coastal communities. According to Professors Blanchard and Lee, those impacts are “real and substantial.”

The two are not among the first to raise serious concerns about the health consequences of the BP oil spill for people living and working near it. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has now reported 324 cases of oil-related ills. Two hundred and forty-one of those cases involved workers on oil rigs or workers involved in the oil spill clean-up efforts, while 83 were reported by the general public. Common complaints include headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness or fatigue, and throat irritation. It is thought that at least some of those symptoms are the result of dispersant exposure.

I think that’s an understatement. But it’s a start. Read the rest here.

– SH

Beck U. 4: Deconstruct This!

In First Amendment, Idiocracy, Politics, Propaganda on July 29, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Bobo's Clown School Is Back In Session

During the latest “lesson” at Beck U, David Barton was up to his old tricks – cherry-picking historical details and isolated quotes to make his case that the Founding Fathers were devout Christians who really wanted to establish a fundamentalist theocracy.

And like most snake oil salesmen, he also talked really, really fast so no one would notice his bullshit.  He has a bright future as the next spokesperson for Goldline.

Barton beat his drum that most of the Founding Fathers held degrees from seminaries, conveniently forgetting that most colleges in those days were seminaries, regardless of discipline.

And he got really upset at the fact that all we’ve been taught about American history for the past 234 years is just nothing but a deconstructionist fantasy dreamed up by dirty liberal feminist hippies to thrust their communist agenda on the innocent youth of America.

I think someone’s still upset at “Granola” Grace for standing him up at the 1972 Aledo High School prom.

David Barton's Cassandra

Of course, the term deconstruction was coined in 1967 by French philosopher Jacques Derrida. But he was French, and everyone knows that the only good Frenchman was Alexis de Tocqueville and only because he talked about American exceptionalism. The rest of those Frogs can go suck it.

I suppose Barton is too stupid to realize that he’s actually the one who is deconstructing history through his unfounded premise that every Founding Father – all 250 of them by his count – were Christians and that they all intended for America to be based on religious teachings rather than common law.

He also got really torqued by the fact that most historians dismiss all 250 Founding Fathers by “only focusing on one or two.”

And then he proceeded to focus on two.

For twenty minutes, Barton railed that the most “secular” of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, also wanted a Christian nation.  To his credit, Barton uses historical facts to bolster his case: he just doesn’t give you all the facts.

It is true that Benjamin Franklin proposed the country’s first motto be “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God,” but it was soundly rejected by Congress, who ordered the design to “lie on the table.”

It is also true that Franklin asked the assembled members of the Constitutional Convention to have a prayer service every morning to guide them, but this suggestion was also soundly rejected.

And while Jefferson attended church service held at the Capitol building as President, he also sought “a wall of separation between church and state” and that religion should neither be persecuted nor given special status.

Here’s Jefferson himself (from the book “The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia: A Comprehensive Collection of the Views of Thomas Jefferson” edited by John P. Foley):

If anything pass in a religious meeting seditiously and contrary to the public peace, let it be punished in the same manner and no otherwise as it had happened in a fair or market…

Here’s where Barton begins to stamp his feet and throw a tantrum.  He whines that we’ve been told that Franklin and Jefferson were agnostics and deists.  But he insists that these actions prove they were true Christians who believed in a theocracy, dammit! Don’t believe those dirty librels and their deconstructionist ways.

I guess Barton’s using the Transitive Property of Christian Fundamentalism. Let me explain. If A = C and C = D, then A = B, which proves everyone is a secret Christian and that the Founding Fathers wanted us to separate church and state so that Christians were free to worship wherever they wanted and however they wanted so long as they were the right type of Christians.

Okay, everyone, pop quiz.  Let’s put this transitive theory into practice.  Who said the following?

Before the throne of the Almighty, man will be judged not by his acts but by his intentions. For God alone reads our hearts.

That’s right, it was Mohandas Gandhi.  Forget what you heard about the fact that Gandhi was a Hindu.  It is clear from this quote that he invokes God, which means that he is a Christian man.  He even fasted for Jesus, right?

A true Christian in David Barton's world

Here’s another interesting case.  Who said this?

“Against stupidity; God Himself is helpless.”

Well, nobody is really credited with this one, but we’ve been told all these years that it is a Jewish proverb. But it really sounds Christian to me. And besides, all the Jews are Christians anyway.

They just don’t know it yet.

-SF

All installments of our Beck U series are here: Beck U, Beck U2, Beck 3D, and Beck 5.

BREAKING: Parts Of AZ S.B. 1070 Blocked

In Civil Liberties, Police State, Politics on July 28, 2010 at 5:14 pm

In our inaugural edition of “Profiles In Bed-wetting,” I took Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) to task for her cynical political opportunism in criticizing the Justice Department’s decision to sue Arizona for the unconstitutionality of the newly passed S.B. 1070. I was appalled at Giffords’ decision to put her political needs over the constitutional rights of many of her constituents who were being unfairly targeted simply because of the color of their skin.

It looks like I wasn’t the only one.

In an important (but by no means final) victory for the forces of good, federal district court Judge Susan Bolton ruled on the DOJ’s motion for preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of this heinous law.  Judge Bolton struck down four of the law’s most disgusting provisions, citing the unconstitutionality of the state law’s encroachment on what has perennially been a federal issue – the regulation of immigration.

According to AZCentral.com, the portions of the law that will not go into effect are:

•  The portion of the law that requires an officer make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there’s reasonable suspicion they’re in the country illegally.

•  The portion that creates a crime of failure to apply for or carry “alien-registration papers.”

•  The portion that makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to solicit, apply for or perform work. (This does not include the section on day laborers.)

•  The portion that allows for a warrantless arrest of a person where there is probable cause to believe they have committed a public offense that makes them removable from the United States.

Some take-aways from Judge Bolton’s legal opinion (h/t to Adam B of Daily Kos):

Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully-present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked. Given the large number of people who are technically “arrested” but never booked into jail or perhaps even transported to a law enforcement facility, detention time for this category of arrestee will certainly be extended during an immigration status verification.  [The Court is also cognizant of the potentially serious Fourth Amendment problems with the inevitable increase in length of detention while immigration status is determined.]…

And…

If Arizona were to enforce the portions of S.B. 1070 for which the Court has found a likelihood of preemption, such enforcement would likely burden legal resident aliens and interfere with federal policy. A preliminary injunction would allow the federal government to continue to pursue federal priorities, which is inherently in the public interest, until a final judgment is reached in this case.

The state of Arizona will inevitably appeal this decision to the 9th Circuit, but this ruling is a great first step in stopping this racist, unconstitutional law. And in case you’re so inclined, here’s the ruling in its entirety.

– SF

If I Had A Hammer…

In BP Oil Spill, Idiocracy, Obstructionism, Politics on July 28, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Exactly one hundred days ago, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana.  The devastation has been well-chronicled, although our friends at ProjectGulfImpact.org have uncovered even more harrowing facts that the mainstream media has not even touched (no surprise). The Donkey Edge highlighted some of their work here.

Now comes word that the sweethearts at BP will be adding insult to injury, writing a cool $9.9 billion off their taxes this year due to losses directly related to the spill. And how did they get that sweet perk? By claiming the IRS tax codes will let them.

Russ Britt of MarketWatch broke the story yesterday:

The oil giant [BP] said Tuesday that it is incurring a charge of $32.2 billion from the Deepwater Horizon disaster response, and as such, it is claiming a $9.9 billion taxation credit.

Asked in a conference call Tuesday about whether it has discussed the tax credit with President Barack Obama’s administration, BP’s outgoing chief executive, Tony Hayward said: “We have followed the IRS regulations as they’re currently written.”

And how did they arrive at the $9.9 billion figure? Well, my guess is that $9.9 billion sure sounds a lot better than $10 billion. BP is in the wrong business. They should be in retail.

I can destroy the Gulf Coast for only $99.95.

It is also half of the amount BP pledged to put in escrow to help pay for the mess it created. Coincidence? I think not. And why would BP do this? Michael Corkery of The Wall Street Journal has a guess:

For BP, the roughly $10 billion deduction is part of its strategy to keep the company’s cash flowing.

But don’t cry yourselves to sleep at night worrying about BP. They also assured investors that their 2nd quarter cash-flow rose 31% over last year to $8.9 billion. That’s if you forget about those pesky oil spill costs, which I’m sure we all have.

The Earl Scheib of oil men

Of course, this entire ecological, economic, and human tragedy will have a silver lining, right? Perhaps a usually sclerotic Senate will leap into action, passing tough climate legislation, curbing corporate influence, and eliminating billions in subsidies for the oil industry.

Here’s the scorecard.

In June, the Senate voted down a proposal by Bernie Sanders that would have eliminated $35 billion in government subsidies to Big Oil and funneled that money into deficit reduction and fund state energy efficiency programs. The vote was 35-61, with 21 Democrats siding with the Republicans.

Last week, the cap and trade bill that would have helped curb greenhouse emissions was set aside by the Senate.

And yesterday, the Republicans voted to filibuster the Disclose Act, which would been the first step in undoing the horrible Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.

Like you, I am growing increasingly tired of a Senate that rends their garments, gnashes their teeth, and flagellates themselves…

And does absolutely nothing about anything.

Especially when we have Very Serious People like Olympia Snowe (a so-called moderate) who constantly calls for caution in the face of every looming crisis. The New York Times quotes her thoughts on the recently defeated Disclose Act:

“I know that the new routine for legislating these days is to ram and jam, but these issues deserve time,” said Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine, who Democrats had hoped would support the bill.

She also said the same thing about health care reform:

“We shouldn’t be restrained by an artificially compressed timeline,” said the Maine moderate, pointing out that with estimated costs of $2.4 trillion, health care comprises 17% of the US gross domestic product, so reforming health care is a “Herculean challenge.”

“It’s important to us to take time to work through these issues,” Snowe said.

Perhaps she only reads at a third-grade level and needs more time to digest the complexities of the law or maybe she’s just another Republican obstructionist who can’t pull herself away from the money trough. It’s a tough call.

Sen. Olympia Snowe rends her garments to prove how serious she is

But sadly, she’s not alone. I know that the Senate is supposed to be “the cooling saucer of democracy.” But to that I say:

Get me hammer.

-SF

UPDATE: Jerry Markon of The Washington Post is reporting that federal investigators, known as the “BP squad,” have opened up a wide-ranging criminal probe of BP, Transocean, and Halliburton for potential violations of environmental laws, obstruction of justice, falsified test results, as well as bribery, insider trading, and other “securities matters.” Here’s an excerpt:

One emerging line of inquiry, sources said, is whether inspectors for the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency charged with regulating the oil industry — which is itself investigating the disaster — went easy on the companies in exchange for money or other inducements.

[…]

In an additional avenue of inquiry, BP disclosed in a regulatory filing Tuesday that the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into “securities matters” relating to the spill, although no more details were included.

[…]

One law enforcement official said criminal investigators will look for evidence that MMS inspectors were bribed or promised industry jobs in exchange for lenient treatment. “Every instinct I have tells me there ought to be numerous indictable cases in that connection between MMS and the industry,” said this official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is unfolding.

It’s good to see someone in the government bringing the hammer down on corporate malfeasance, even while the Senate continues to sit idly by and wet the bed.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In the Water…

In BP Oil Spill, Donkey Activism, Environment, Politics on July 27, 2010 at 11:35 am

Pensacola, Florida - The Fun Goes On!

I was in a somewhat better frame-of-mind about the gulf oil disaster before I attended Netroots Nation. The new cap was kinda-sorta holding, NOAA re-opened parts of the gulf to commercial and recreational fishing, even cute little endangered sea turtles were released into the waters off Galveston.

Then my friend from ProjectGulfImpact.org sent me the new ad that VisitPensacola.com started running last week. This is not a spoof.

Which is when I realized Pensacola is fucked. Because if you’re a town which has a new tourist ad partially-funded by BP featuring the antics of the Tom & Jerry of cleanup workers partying in Pensacola it means you’ve been had. Big time.

Turns out it gets worse. Much worse. While the release of over a hundred million gallons of crude into the gulf is an unmitigated ecological and economic disaster, the use of almost 2 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit makes it quite possibly the largest human and environmental experiment on record. EPA whistle-blower, Hugh Kaufman, explains:

Corexit is one of a number of dispersants, that are toxic, that are used to atomize the oil and force it down the water column so that it’s invisible to the eye. In this case, these dispersants were used in massive quantities, almost two million gallons so far, to hide the magnitude of the spill and save BP money. And the government—both EPA, NOAA, etc.—have been sock puppets for BP in this cover-up. Now, by hiding the amount of spill, BP is saving hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in fines, and so, from day one, there was tremendous economic incentive to use these dispersants to hide the magnitude of the gusher that’s been going on for almost three months.

He continues:

Consequently, we have people, wildlife—we have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do. EPA now is taking the position that they really don’t know how dangerous it is, even though if you read the label, it tells you how dangerous it is. And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around fifty. It’s very dangerous, and it’s an economic—it’s an economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public.

And it’s not only used on the surface:

Well, not only do you have airplanes flying and dropping them on the Gulf region, like Agent Orange in Vietnam, but a large amount of it is being shot into the water column at 5,000 feet to disperse the oil as it gushers out. And so, you have spread, according to the Associated Press, over perhaps over 44,000 square miles, an oil and dispersant mix. And what’s happened is, that makes it impossible to skim the oil out of the water. One of the things that happened is they brought this big boat, Whale, in from Japan to get rid of the oil, and it didn’t work because the majority of the oil is spread throughout the water column over thousands of square miles in the Gulf.

The rest of his DemocracyNow! interview can be found here.

According to my friend, Gavin Garrison, of ProjectGulfImpact.org, “the clear and present danger is in the corexit.” He should know as he spent most of July with Matt Smith and Heather Rally investigating and filming the real-time devastation and imminent danger to the lives of people on the ground in the gulf. Here’s a sobering interview of marine biologist/toxicologist Dr. Chris Pincetich on how Corexit actually works on cells and more on the incredibly lame EPA tests (hint: it’s a pass-fail) that are being conducted:

As thanks for this type of coverage, which the mainstream media mostly ignores, the ProjectGulfImpact.org team received death threats. Going further down the rabbit hole of a clusterfuck that is the gulf oil spill disaster, it’s cover-up and aftermath, I listened on.

Corexit is so harmful that on May 19, 2010 the EPA gave BP 24 hours to choose less toxic alternatives to Corexit. They didn’t and continue to use Corexit anyway. Charlie Crist said he won’t allow the use of dispersants in Florida, but it’s already in the water and air of the gulf. As a bonus, the chemical stew of oil, water and Corexit is creating a “corexit rain” which has been reported in Tennessee, North Carolina and as far north as Canada. It’s no wonder that BP is trying like hell to buy the silence of every gulf coast university scientist and hide data.

"If it weren't for those meddling kids and their dumb camera..."

ProjectGulfImpact is out raising the $10,000 they need to get back to the gulf next week to continue their important investigative work. They will raise it. And The Donkey Edge is going to support them every step of the way. Find out more about their group and donate to help get them back to the gulf coast here.

Stay tuned.

– SH

Note: Our other posts on the dispersant, Corexit, and the impact of the oil spill on the people of the gulf region are here, here, here and here.

7/29 UPDATE:

This post is getting too long so we started a new post with More Updates on the Royal Mess in the Gulf here.

7/29 10:30AM UPDATE: From Law.com this morning:

The first personal injury lawsuit involving the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500 has surfaced in Alabama, where two Gulf Coast residents and property owners allege that BP PLC’s use of the product is causing people to get sick.

In Wright v. BP, filed July 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, the plaintiffs claim BP has dumped millions of gallons of toxic chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico to disperse and sink crude oil to the bottom of the ocean. The plaintiffs allege that one method by which the company has applied Corexit 9500 — spraying it from airplanes in the middle of the night — has caused Gulf Coast residents to suffer breathing and gastrointestinal problems, as well as property damage.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that BP has used Corexit “to lessen the public reaction to the oil spill by forcing the oil to the bottom of the Gulf … and to hide the massive amounts of oil at the bottom of the Gulf.”

Corexit manufacturer, NALCO, is also named in the suit. More here.

7/29 9:00AM UPDATE: At least someone is profiting from this disaster. Corexit manufacturer, NALCO, had outstanding 2nd Quarter year-over-year earnings thanks to the 2 million gallons of Corexit they sold to BP. From Bloomberg Business Week:

Water treatment company Nalco Holding Co. said its role in efforts to control the Gulf of Mexico oil spill boosted its second-quarter results. Nalco, which makes the chemicals being used to disperse oil in the Gulf, reported Wednesday that it earned $57 million, or 41 cents per share, for the quarter. That’s compared with a loss of $29.2 million, or 21 cents per share, in the prior year.

Their shareholders must be proud. The Wall Street Journal sure seems to be. I love this ditty from the article:

Nalco’s oil dispersants act like dishwashing soap to generate and break apart oil so it will be more readily digested by oil-consuming microorganisms.

If by “be more readily digested by” they mean “atomize” then they’re absolutely correct.

7/29 8:00AM UPDATE: “BE THE BP SHILL”: Following up on what Digby said, Think Progress has an exclusive this morning. Sandra Bullock has severed her involvement with the organization that is fronting for a BP-backed “greenwashing” campaign which she and numerous other celebrities are featured in:

Academy Award-winning actress and New Orleans resident Sandra Bullock has severed her involvement in a campaign to call attention to the BP spill, after learning from ThinkProgress that it was a greenwashing effort by the oil industry. Bullock is prominently featured in the Restore the Gulf campaign, run by Women of the Storm and sponsored by America’s Wetland Foundation.

In an online video with other major celebrities, Bullock called for American people to “speak up” and “sign the petition” for Congress and President Obama at the campaign website, which demands that “a plan to restore America’s Gulf be fully funded and implemented for me and future generations.” The YouTube video makes her the face of the campaign:

Here’s the ad entitled “Be the One”. Who’s going to jump off the “Be the BP Shill” bandwagon next?

The entire article is here.

7/28 10:00PM UPDATE: The wheels of mainstream media move slowly: this article was just posted on CNN Health. Just as the Senate is the “cooling saucer” of democracy, CNN is the “cooling saucer” of news… but at least it’s out there.

7/28 9:00PM UPDATE: EPA whistleblower, Hugh Kaufman, on Countdown tonight:

7/28 8:20PM UPDATE: Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel: “The Dying and Birth Defects Have Only Just Begun” is here.

7/28 8:00PM UPDATE: What Digby Said

7/28 3:20 PM UPDATE: I just found these. “The Gulf Spill, Corexit, and Profits” here. And “Spray, Baby, Spray” from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation here. From this article:

Corexit disperses oil by breaking it up into bite-sized globules, which then hang suspended underwater. The theory is that this makes the oil more easily edible for oil-eating microbes. However, because the dispersant is being sprayed at the source of the leak (more than a kilometre underwater) the dispersed oil has formed thick plumes, one more than 16 kilometres long. These plumes are enveloping and killing microbes and small shrimp and fish, says Dr Shaw. And because it’s now congealed underwater, there’s no way to collect it.

“It’s a strategy without precedent, which is admitted by our officials,” she says, “and no-one knows what the impacts will be,” she says.

In June, the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, admitted as much to the Louisiana Seafood and Marketing Promotion Board.

“They (dispersants) have never been used at this volume,” she said. “What I say to folks is that we are in unchartered waters. We have no data. None. If I had it, I would show it to you.”

7/28 PM UPDATE: The fun never stops. The EPA lies under oath… again:

It might come as some big shock but there is increasing evidence to show that the EPA has lied … yet again.  Without mincing words, Federal Government agencies have literally allowed tens of thousands of Americans to be poisoned during the Exxon Valdez disaster, during 9/11, and now, history is once again repeating itself in the Gulf of Mexico, except for one change:  we now have a top EPA official warning us that the Government is allowing us to be poisoned.

More on BP/NOAA/EPA Cover-Up here.

7/28 PM UPDATE: Another post of interest. “For Response Workers, Health Problems Could Persist Long After Spill is Contained” is here.

7/28 AM UPDATE: RP Seigel has a post up this morning entitled “BP Gulf Disaster Two: The Corexit Calamity” here. In May he posted on the long-term effects of Corexit on the environment:

In 1978, the oil tanker Amoco-Cadiz broke up off the coast of France, dumping 220,000 tons of heavy crude oil into the Atlantic. The spill was so large that the entire Brittany coast was impacted. Because of the tremendous costs involved, only selected sections were treated with detergents and dispersants. Ecological studies five years later showed that the untreated areas had fully recovered. But, the areas that were treated have still not recovered  32 years later.

The rest of his post “How to Clean Up the Oil: Lessons that Amoco and Exxon Didn’t Learn” is here.

7/27 PM UPDATE: Christina Mendoza explores the ecological and health consequences of the oil spill and the chemical dispersants being used here.

The Warren Commission

In Economics, Great Recession, Politics on July 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm

The Donkey Edge was poised to make Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner the subject of its latest “Profiles In Bedwetting” series, but a funny thing happened on the way to the computer. Geithner put on his Depends, made the rounds of the Sunday morning political talk shows, and supported rolling back the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich. While that has been the official administration position since Obama was a candidate, it was still welcome news.

But the biggest shock was his tacit endorsement of Elizabeth Warren to run the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Geithner praised Warren as “probably the most effective advocate for consumer protection.” After the bombshell reported by The Huffington Post last week that he was actively campaigning behind-the-scenes against her nomination, this turnaround may sound strangely fishy.

Geithner does right thing, escapes mockery

Interestingly enough, the White House seems to be closing ranks around her as of late.  Just today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that Warren was a “terrific candidate” to lead the CFPB and is “very confirmable” for the job. As Ryan Grim from The Huffington Post mentions in his article on Gibbs:

Establishing that Warren is confirmable is a crucial step toward her nomination.

So why is the White House suddenly laying the pipe for a possible Warren nomination?  Perhaps it may have something to do with the fact that progressive activists and labor unions have gathered over 170,000 signatures on petitions in support of Warren’s nomination over the past week.

And it’s not hard to see why. Warren spoke at Netroots, proving why she would make an excellent choice. She has been and will be a fierce advocate for the middle class, will fight for tougher consumer regulations, and will work tirelessly to end the current cycle of boom-bust economics that 30 years of failed conservative, supply-side theory has wrought.

Putting People First

Simply put, one can learn a lot about a person by the enemies they keep, and Elizabeth Warren has some very formidable enemies. She is opposed by Republicans in both the House and the Senate, as well as by Wall Street and financial lobbyists who rightly fear tighter regulations and more accountability.

CNN’S Political Ticker has more…

Warren, a Harvard professor and chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), is an outspoken consumer advocate who originally proposed the idea for such a bureau.

[…]

Over the last two years, Warren has been a loud critic of the financial industry and the big banks, blasting what she calls their “tricks and traps” in obscuring the details of financial products.

Whoever gets the job will have enormous power shaping the future path of the agency and what it will regulate. That’s why Republicans who say they’d like to see a more “balanced” candidate are warning against “naming an activist to this position,” as Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee has said.

Trust me, if Bob Corker is against her, then she must be doing something right.

And if there was one thing we learned at the Netroots Nation conference last week, it is that our movement is growing in numbers and influence. Even the right-wing sewer, Politico, has taken notice, publishing a piece this morning about the Netroots’ growing influence in Democratic politics. Here is an excerpt from Charles Mahtesian’s article:

In five years, the annual convention of progressive bloggers known as Netroots Nation has grown to become one of the premier events on the Democratic calendar.

It’s also turned into a leading event on the Democratic candidate circuit, a showcase of political talent and a prerequisite for aspiring politicians who are looking to catch the attention of some of the most important and influential voices on the left — and hopefully tap into the vein of Internet fundraising.

The halls of the Rio Hotel here in Sin City aren’t exactly choked with pols running for office. But it’s not uncommon to find candidates from some of the top races in the nation quietly huddling with bloggers and activists over coffee, holding small fundraisers or showing up at after-hours events where they can get acquainted with online activists who stand to have a powerful effect on their races by virtue of their blogging platforms and broad, politically-inclined readerships.

But the two thousand activists who met in Las Vegas last week can’t do it alone. It takes all of us to fight the good fight. Although not a politician, Elizabeth Warren must be confirmed as the first head of CFPB because she will put her stamp on the agency, setting the tone for years to come. And we want someone in there who will fight for us for a change.

It will take enormous and sustained grassroots pressure to do it, but signing this petition from our friends at the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) is a good first step.

-SF

Doubling Down On The Crazy

In 2010 Midterm Elections, Politics on July 24, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Speaker Nancy Pelosi inspired Netroots Nation this morning with her passionate defense of liberal values and the remarkable amount of legislation that has been passed this session of Congress (at least in the House). But the most important take-away from her town hall meeting was her warning to Republicans that “the leverage has changed in Washington to favor the middle class” and that “we will NOT be going backwards.”

Recent remarks made by the Tea Party’s Mad Hatter, Michele Bachmann, underscore our need to prevent the Republicans from regaining any majority in Congress.

All Kinds Of Crazy

Usually, Bachmann is all kinds of crazy. She has accused Obama and the Democrats of trying to set up secret re-education camps for America‘s youth; using census information to round people up in internment camps; abandoning the dollar and creating a “One-World” currency; and even called for a media witch hunt to ferret out the “anti-American” members of Congress.  Sadly, there are many other examples.

But Thursday, she showed a rare instance of lucidity when she told a gathering at the GOP Youth Convention about her ideal plans for the legislative calendar if Republicans were to gain control of the House this fall (shudder).

Oh, I think that’s all we should do. I think that all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another.

[…]

This is the year – this is it. All of our chips are on November. If we don’t get it back and then starve the beast – the House, we have the power of the purse – so we can starve ObamaCare. We don’t have to fund any of these programs and that’s exactly what we need to do – defund all of this nonsense and then unwind it.

Here’s the audio:

So instead of solving the multitude of problems our nation faces and make lives better for the middle and working class, Bachman wants the government to focus exclusively on modern-day witch-hunts that have no basis in fact; paper Constitution Avenue with a blizzard of subpoenas; and completely shut down the government in order to bring down Obama at any cost.

Party like it’s 1999.

Despite our frustration with Obama and the Democrats, there really is a huge difference between the parties.  This rare moment of naked Republican truth illustrates exactly why.  That’s why we must work hard to keep a Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress, despite our occasional frustration.

Here’s Bachmann’s opponent this fall – Tarryl Clark. She’s a well-respected, progressive MN state senator who is running an aggressive campaign against “the crazy.” The Washington Post even called her a “serious challenger.” Check out Clark’s campaign’s web site here.

-SF

Donkey Ad Watch: July Ad of the Month

In BP Oil Spill, Donkey Ad Watch on July 23, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Even though there’s still a week left in July, we at The Donkey Edge are confidently giving our first “Ad of the Month” award to VoteVets “Clean Up”. We’re certain there won’t be a better political ad this month. Enjoy!