Unintentional irony in the cult of the lost cause?
Kingsville, Missouri: “Move over, slow down.”
Jake Wagman reports on Stephen Brauer hosting a big fundraiser for Ed Martin, who is challenging Russ Carnahan in Missouri’s Third Congressional District.
The Congressional hopeful will be feted tonight at a fundraiser at Hunter Farms, the west St. Louis County Estate of Stephen and Kimmy Brauer, a pair of the region’s most generous Republican benefactors.
Stephen Brauer is the chairman of Hunter Engineering, and a part owner of the Cardinals.
He is close enough with George W. Bush that the former president would stay at Brauer’s home when he was in town for a fundraiser, probably thrown by Brauer or others in his elite Republican circle.[…]
The event honoring Martin tonight, a cocktail reception and roundtable discussion at the estate’s “main house,” will also feature former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent and former Gov. Matt Blunt, Martin’s previous boss.
This also stood out to me:
Thanks to an appointment from Bush, Brauer served as ambassador to Belgium from 2001 to 2003.
I wonder if Brauer knows the management at InBev.
For me, the most impressive part of visiting the Tyson Research Center near Eureka is being surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of acres of trees. About a dozen Franklin Countians joined a bunch of St. Louis folks for a talk and tour of the Living Learning Center on a gorgeously cool evening. The oxygen-rich environment lifts the spirits and calms the soul.
Coincidentally, that’s also part of what is being accomplished within the learning center building itself. As explained by architect Dan Hellmuth, to meet the requirements of the Living Building Challenge (the next step beyond LEED platinum,) the design should change a visitor’s mindset and create a sense of participating with nature and other living things. Several of us noticed that feeling right away and wanted to break into camp songs. What a gift Washington University has given us with this wonderful hideaway.
Background: Wash U got the 2,000 acres just north of I-44 in the Antire Hill area in 1963 for a good price from the U.S. Dept of Defense. There are still ammo storage bunkers scattered around the property, but Mother Nature hides them as she would her naughty children.
As explained by Kevin G. Smith, associate director of the center, the mission of the research center is larger than sustainable building practices. Faculty and students from Wash U and other colleges study infectious diseases transmitted by insects and other critters. They are experimenting with ecosystems to see how pollution affects them. They study and remediate the problem of invasive species and are trying to figure out ways to save species that are becoming extinct.
Our tour was set up by Carl Walz of RePower Missouri and the Alliance for Climate Protection. The Center is available by appointment to school groups and others interested in learning about any of the research topics.
Smith explained that our part of the U.S. has lost native prairie and glade ecosystems due to human destruction of forest and fields, so that is one of the projects the scientists at the center are working on. They’ve built 12 experimental ponds that they can study and manipulate to see the effects of introducing different species to each other. Glades used to be abundant on southwestern slopes of hills where the soil is dry. They were like mini-deserts and can still be discovered under the new vegetation that has taken over. The research goal is to see if they can be restored and survive.
Hellmuth began his portion of the program by asking the 40 or so attendees if they believe climate change is a serious issue. Since we were all there at the invitation of RePower Missouri, the answer was simple. But Hellmuth said that when he asks that question of most groups of visitors, the answer divides into thirds – yes, no and don’t know. That’s shocking in and of itself but a testament to the power of the language being used by climate change deniers. Hellmuth’s excellent suggestion: “Whether you think it’s a problem or not, you should be doing things to save energy and make your homes more efficient.” I agree.
The goal of the Learning Center building which is just a few months old is to become carbon and energy neutral. Gone are the yukky compost toilets of the 1970’s. The new system is made up of some kind of natural processing in a big tank under the building. Also, rainwater is captured and recycled into potable water through a series of filters. Hellmuth said Ameren was very cooperative and helpful in setting up the electrical system. The Center uses power from Ameren’s grid when it can’t produce its own power from the solar panels. On really sunny days, when the Center produces more power than it needs, it goes back to the Ameren grid.
One of the requirements of the Living Building Challenge is that construction materials not contain toxic substances and that materials not be transported more than a certain number of miles. During the discussion period, several people brought up the need for new jobs in our area and how we could be building the materials right here for energy efficient homes. Even the “sidewalks” around the building are eco-friendly in that water flows right through them rather than creating runoff. The red cedar used for construction came from Eastern Red Cedars considered an invasive species and harvested right there on the property. (Question: How long does a tree have to be common to an area before it’s no longer considered “invasive”? Is it kind of like a Yankee moving to Missouri?)
All in all, it was a very educational evening and I would recommend taking advantage of a tour when one comes your way.
Yesterday, President Obama met with Senators at the White House and pushed them to pass comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation. Still, the skeptics are spinning a monotonous web of negativity regarding what is achievable on this front. And, not surprisingly, the “mainstream media” once again has been asleep at the wheel in setting the record straight. Fortunately, we know that when this President rolls up his sleeves, he gets stuff done and delivers on his promises. One thing’s for sure; President Obama is anything but an underachiever!
Along these lines, President Obama held a press conference following the G-20 summit in Toronto. In response to a reporter’s question regarding how he would achieve his deficit reduction goals, the president responded:
For some reason people keep being surprised when I do what I said I was going to do. So, I say I’m going to reform our [health care system], and people say well gosh that’s not smart politics maybe we should hold off. Or I say we’re going to move forward on [Don’t Ask Don’t Tell] and somehow people say well why are you doing that, I’m not sure that’s good politics. I’m doing it because I said I was going to do it, and I think it’s the right thing to do. And people should learn that lesson about me, because next year when I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficit and debt step up cause I’m calling their bluff.
To that list of accomplishments, we could also add:
We could go on and on, but you get the point: anyone who continues, at this point, to be “surprised” when President Obama gets things done when he puts his mind to it is deep in denial. Or, as a previous president might have put it, they are wildly “misunderestimating” our 44th president.
Clearly, as we’ve seen over the past two years, underachieving is not a problem Barack Obama suffers from. Of course, even a superachiever like Barack Obama has an awful lot on his plate to deal with. And right now, one of the most important things on Obama’s plate is figuring out how to push comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation through the U.S. Senate. Along those lines, yesterday, Obama met with a group of Senators on this issue, reportedly holding firm in his call for putting a price on carbon emissions.
The question at this point is, will President Obama roll up his sleeves and deliver on another of his major campaign promise (as well as a major challenge facing our nation)? Given the long list of accomplishments mentioned above, it certainly wouldn’t be smart to bet against him. The fact is, Barack Obama usually succeeds in whatever he puts his mind to.
Given the nation’s increased focus on energy and climate issues – and the increased support by the American people for taking strong action as a result of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster – now is clearly the time for boldness and for bluff calling by our nation’s leaders. Today, President Obama has the opportunity to demonstrate once more that, when he rolls up his sleeves, he accomplishes what he says he’s going to do. In sum, today is clearly the moment for President Obama to prove the doubters and naysayers wrong – to call their bluff – yet again!
A big ad buy is going up around the country thanking or admonishing senators for their votes against or for the Murkoswki “Dirty Air” amendment, respectively.
Here’s the ad thanking McCaskill for her vote against the Murkowski amendment, which would have stripped the EPA of its ability to regulate carbon emissions:
For what it’s worth, McCaskill did the right thing in this case, but she’s often been in both word and deed a force against doing anything noteworthy to help shift to a clean energy economy. Still, it’s worth encouraging people to call McCaskill to thank her for her vote so that she might hear from people other than those who shriek that “cap and tax” is nothing more than a scheme to take over the economy and give the profits to BP.
As the struggle over Senate energy legislation, the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act, is getting ready to heat up, the Environmental Defense Action Fund has prepared ads targeting, among others, Missouri’s Kit Bond:
However, even if everyone who sees the ad contacts Bond and implores him to support the legislation, I doubt that it would have much effect. Bond has already made it clear that he’s glad that he’s had his chance to dance, and he’s just as willing as ever to pay the Big Oil and King Coal pipers (who have supported him to the tune of $446,000 over his career).
In fact, Bond has already stepped up and taken a leadership role in the Republican fight against clean energy legislation. He and his partner in crime, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), dusted off and reissued as new last October’s widely disputed “report” in which they attempted to present clean energy legislation as a “$3.6 trillion gas tax.” Needless to say, this new iteration of the same ole, same ole was just as quickly and easily discredited as it was last fall. A spokesperson for Senator John Kerry responded to Bond’s and Hutchison’s latest effort to cast clean energy legislation as an “energy tax” with the following comment:
The only thing Senator Bond and Senator Hutchison have to worry about today is if we start taxing bad math and misinformation, because it could cost them billions.
Actually, the American Power Act proposes relief and refund programs that would mitigate the impact of nearly 69 percent of the carbon fees it would impose. Numerous studies show that the legislation would cost relatively little – for instance, according to EPA modeling results, it would add between $80 to $150 a year to the average household budget. As Senator Lieberman put it:
“There’ll be some people who will want to demagogue that politically, but that’s less than $1 a day,” Lieberman told reporters. “Is the American household willing to pay less than $1 so we don’t have to buy oil from foreign countries, so we can create millions of new jobs, so we can clean up our environment? I think the answer is going to be yes.”
Ah yes, demagoguery. And, of course, Senator Lieberman ought to remember that “yes” has little currency with members of the Party of No – who, oddly enough, used to really like the idea of cap-and-trade – back when they thought Democrats would never go for it.
A week ago, Robin Carnahan kicked off her “Stop the bull” tour at a donut shop in North St. Louis County by letting Norma Linke describe how a brokerage house committed fraud on her and how Carnahan stood up to the bankers and got Linke’s money back for her. Once Carnahan got behind the podium, she laid out a message that’s bound to have heads nodding everywhere she goes. Okay, my head wasn’t nodding approval that the bailouts should never have happened. Our economy might well have frozen into permanent gridlock without them. But still, I recognize how outraged people are that the miscreants who created the Great Recession have been rewarded and are making more money than ever.
You know, as Secretary of State, as Norma said, I’ve always worked hard to put middle class families first, to cut costs and red tape for businesses, saved over $12 million for them just in five years. And we stood up for consumers, like Norma, against those big financial institutions. In three years, just three years, we’ve gotten over $10 billion back for them at a time when in Washington people were asleep at the switch, when they were supposed to be doing this job.
So I’m proud of that, I’m pleased that we could help Norma and her family get the money back. She’s not the only one. You know, a guy named Tom in Chesterfield had his money frozen in a similar way, and we stood up for him and his wife. They got their money back. We’ve worked across party lines to get things done and pass the Senior Investor Protection Act that’s one of the toughest laws in the whole country when it comes to protecting seniors against financial fraud. So standing on the side of Missouri families, whether on Wall Street or in Washington is something I have done and I’ll continue to do if I go to the United States Senate. But unfortunately, unfortunately, all too often there are people in Washington that have just been there too long. They forget who they work for. They forget that they don’t work for theses powerful lobbyists and special interests. They forget that they work for us. And forgetting that to me is what represents the very worst of what’s going on in Washington these days. That’s what’s gotta change.
So here’s the plan I want to talk about today, boiled down into three, three simple things that stop putting the powerful ahead of middle class families.
The first thing I think we’ve gotta do, I think we’ve gotta stop these bailouts so that we start protecting taxpayers and taxpayers’ dollars. Now ending bailouts for big businesses, they’re the ones that … this reckless behavior caused these problems in the first place and affected every single middle class family and every business. And whether that’s a bailout on Wall Street or a bailout of big oil, we gotta have it stop. We can’t let these corporate interests just run hog wild, just make mistakes, cause a mess, fail to keep us safe and then expect us to clean it up. It’s gotta stop. It’s wrong. (applause)
It also to me means we’ve gotta enact tough Wall Street reforms, tough Wall Street reforms. Because to me, while Missouri families are continuing to suffer an economic crisis, you have Wall Street, they have just gone back to business as usual, you know. They are doling out millions of dollars in bonuses, they’re engaging in the same risky behavior, and they’re making record profits. Still. And all of this is because the folks in Washington have not yet fixed what’s a broken system. I’m happy that we’re finally talking about it, but it shouldn’t have taken two years to get around to fixing this problem.
We’ve gotta fix this too big to fail mentality. We have to ban the risky behavior that got us into this in the first place. And we need to put real consumer protections in place so that it doesn’t happen again. (applause) And to me protecting taxpayers means we gotta not have any more of these giveaways, particularly to big oil companies at the expense of taxpayers. (applause) For way too long, these big oil companies have benefited from tens of billions–you may not know this–from tens of billions of dollars in government subsidies–that’s our money–and giveaways. And you know, we’re the ones who’re paying for this. We need to understand what this money is and where it’s coming from. It’s our money that’s going to subsidize these big oil companies. They continue to reap these benefits, and middle class families continue to struggle and be gouged at the pump. So I think it’s time we stopped these tax breaks and the giveaways to big oil companies, and, AND, held them fully accountable for the messes they create–the environmental messes and the economic messes.
Carnahan lays out a simple message that appeals to people’s righteous anger. She avoids sounding like a policy wonk, delivering instead the down home goods. And considering her record of opposing bank fraud since she’s been Secretary of State, she’s got some street cred on these issues.
On the other hand–and I guess I’m too persnickety–I can’t resist pointing out that the oil companies have never gotten “bailouts”. I’d rather she used that word correctly. But Carnahan would have every right to be exasperated by such a prissy lecture, because she’s absolutely right to rant about the subsidies Exxon, Chevron, and Conoco have gotten. I want any legislator of mine to get into high dudgeon about those giveaways.
Carnahan also proposed ideas about helping small business and about forcing more transparency in campaigns as well as in Congress. Those will be the subject of my next posting.
Uh, oh, this isn’t good.
Kos, at the Great Orange Satan:
I have just published a report by three statistics wizards showing, quite convincingly, that the weekly Research 2000 State of the Nation poll we ran the past year and a half was likely bunk….
Much to his credit Kos is being very open about the situation stating, “…I hereby renounce any post we’ve written based exclusively on Research 2000 polling…”
From 1997 to 2002 I helped run a mom and pop operation that did relatively small sample legislative district polling in Missouri. We were held together with spit, baling wire, and duct tape. Large amounts of caffeine helped, too. The opinion research game is brutal. I’ve always said that the mechanics are straightforward, it’s the logistics that are a nightmare.
I cannot imagine the nightmares and pressure of doing weekly national polls.
Maybe the lesson in this is that if you’re going to commission a lot of polling (and spend a lot of money) do a lot of digging before, during, and after.
This is not good.
In the aftermath of 9/11, we saw thousands of workers develop devastating respiratory conditions and other illnesses as a result of exposure to toxic dust that filled the air in the days and weeks after the twin towers fell. To this day, these peoples’ plight continues to add misery to the ongoing tragedy of 9/11. What makes it even worse is that these people were assured the air was safe. As we all know now, it wasn’t.
Today, sadly, history may be repeating itself in the Gulf of Mexico.
(Thank you to Ligia Ercius-Dipaola, who posted this video on the NRDC Action Fund Facebook Page)
Amazingly, despite reports like this one, BP “continues to pretend that – just like an oil spill of this magnitude could never happen – there also could not possibly be a worker health concern.” While the potential health hazards posed by chemical dispersants and oil itself are debatable, it is clear that significant risks existed.
Already, we’ve seen evidence of the impact that spilled oil can have on human health. For starters, an increasing number of workers and residents in Gulf Coast areas have reported “suffering from nausea, vomiting, headaches and difficulty breathing.” Considering that oil contains “petroleum hydrocarbons, which are toxic and irritating to the skin and airways”, as well as volatile chemicals “which can cause acute health effects such as headaches, dizziness and nausea” it’s no surprise that these symptoms are appearing.
(Thank you to Gary Chattem, who posted this on the NRDC Action Fund Facebook Wall)
So now, with the “60 exposure-related complaints filed with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals”, not to mention the “overwhelming evidence that many of the compounds found in crude oil are dangerous,” shouldn’t BP be protecting the people who are cleaning up this mess? If they aren’t doing so, why aren’t they?
The bottom line is this: people along the Gulf Coast deserve to know the facts regarding the dangers they are facing and how to protect themselves. It’s bad enough that their economic livelihoods are in danger of destruction in part due to BP’s greed and recklessness. But if their lungs and other organs are damaged by oil and dispersant particles in the air, more than their economic livelihoods could be damaged.
None of us should ever forget that this disaster was brought on, at least in part, by BP cutting corners to save a few (million) bucks, and by the government’s failure to prevent the company from doing so. As a result, the unthinkable has happened. We must learn from those grave mistakes, not repeat them. That means, in the long term, ridding ourselves of our dangerous, destructive addition to oil. But what must happen now – right now – is for BP to stop cutting corners with the health of the people cleaning up the Gulf.
At the minimum, BP must switch its philosophy from “hope for the best” to “do whatever it takes, whatever the cost, to make sure people are safe.” If BP won’t “make it right,” as the company’s ads like to say, then the government should force BP to do so. In the words of one Venice, LA mother: “I’ve got the two most beautiful children in the world. If something were to happen to them, how could I look in those baby blues and say, Mommy didn’t know?” It’s a great question. What’s the answer, BP?