Friday, September 2, 2011

Tighten Your Bronchioles: You're in the O-Zone

As expected, President Obama has caved to his CEO buddies, and big business "job creators", and his boss John Boehner, and canned the EPA's new clean air standards.  Demanding respiratory health in an economic recession is just asking too much of the corporation persons, said the president in a Friday news dump.

In his usual biparti-speak style, Obama said he is committed to clean air, just not at this time, and certainly not at the expense of the peace of mind of the business community.  Just hold on, try to breathe the ozone until 2013, and he'll look at reducing pollution levels then.  After the campaign, after those same businesses have donated about a billion into his war chest.

I guess Malia and Sasha don't have asthma.  They don't live in inner cities, where substandard housing, mold and pollution are major contributors in raising the childhood asthma rate to historic levels.  The EPA estimates that without the tough new pollution standards that are now shelved, thousands more people will die of asthma attacks and exacerbation of respiratory diseases every year.  Emergency room visits will skyrocket. American morbidity and mortality rates will rise even further up the list of most unhealthy third world countries. Global warming is making pollution worse.

Way to go, Barry.  Have a cigarette with your pal Boehner and maybe you'll feel better.  And don't forget to ignore the hundreds of Tar Sands pipeline protesters getting arrested in your front yard either.

What a Drag


Kate Madison (yawn) said...

OUCH! Barry seems to be begging us to be even angrier and more disillusioned with him. As Ann Landers used to say: When is he going to "wake up and smell the coffee?"

I am still wondering why Russ Feingold has become a big Obama supporter and plans to go out on the campaign trail for him. Gotta be that he has been promised a plum. As I have said before, maybe even a seat on the Supremes!

This is all too crazy for me. I am going to take a nap.

Denis Neville said...

In 2009 Greenpeace USA protestors rappelled down Mount Rushmore, unfurling a banner "America honors leaders, not politicians. Stop global warming."

President Obama (all hat and no cattle with empty campaign rhetoric on global warming) had already betrayed his environmental supporters with too many compromises on the environment. Much like today’s tar sands pipeline protesters, they were trying to alert the public to the threat to the environment by our government and their corporate bosses.

What a contrast…Mount Rushmore with four great presidents who, faced with some of the greatest challenges to the nation, led…and Obama, the craven political panderer, and his climate-change hypocrisy. Read the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables about how the government’s tactics defeated a meaningful climate agreement at Copenhagen and ensured the outcome that was favorable to China and the USA.

It’s not only respiratory health. Infectious diseases are now occurring in areas where they have never been seen before. Not to mention the extreme global weather catastrophes, hurricanes, tornados, floods, droughts.

Environmental protection? Laws to protect our environment would threaten our disaster capitalistic economy. Do not let reality or facts be an impediment to our folly. There is no fierce urgency of now to protect our environment and human life. Disaster capitalism comes at the expense of human life and nature. One need only remember Obama’s lack of response to the ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico to understand this. Ecological devastation of our planet earth by disaster capitalism will soon match the economic devastation of disaster capitalism.

Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said that George Bush's ozone standards were not legally defensible. These are the very same standards President Obama decided to let remain in place.

The question is not, when is Obama going to “wake up and smell the coffee?” The question is, when are WE going to “wake up and smell the coffee?”

Read Ken Silverstein’s Barack Obama Inc. Birth of a Washington Machine:

“After a quarter century when the Democratic Party to which he belongs has moved steadily to the right, and the political system in general has become thoroughly dominated by the corporate perspective, the first requirement of electoral success is now the ability to raise staggering sums of money. For Barack Obama, this means that mounting a successful career, especially one that may include a run for the presidency, cannot even be attempted without the kind of compromising and horse trading that may, in fact, render him impotent…

“How quickly Obama’s senatorship has been woven into the web of institutionalized influence-trading that afflicts official Washington. He quickly established a political machine funded and run by a standard Beltway group of lobbyists, P.R. consultants, and hangers-on. Obama’s top contributors are corporate law and lobbying firms, Wall Street financial houses (Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase), and big Chicago interests. Obama immediately established a “leadership PAC,” a vehicle through which a member of Congress can contribute to other politicians’ campaigns—and one that political reform groups generally view as a slush fund through which congressional leaders can evade campaign-finance rules while raising their own political profiles…

“In the unstinting and unanimous adulation of Barack Obama today…[there is]the obvious: that big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn’t see him as a ‘player.’ The lobbyist added: ‘What’s the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?’

Karen Garcia said...

How anyone can continue defending Obama after today is beyond me. Great comments, and thanks for all your invaluable research. Would you consider becoming an occasional guest poster as well as commenter?

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Karen Garcia: great post by you, as usual. I haven't been commenting much anywhere lately, but your witty criticism here and elsewhere, day in and day out, of the wide range of things that aren't right in this country is much appreciated.

I sometimes wonder if Obama isn't secretly working for the pharmaceutical and alcoholic beverage industries --- with his policies and principles, or lack thereof, we'll all need more asthma inhalers, aspirin, blood pressure medications, and drink.


@Denis Neville:

And great comment by you too (also, as usual). Your extremely wide-ranging, well-researched comments nearly always inform me of something I didn't know, or remind me of something I'd forgotten.


@Kate Madison:

You wrote "Barry seems to be begging us to be even angrier and more disillusioned with him".

Perhaps. Or perhaps with the latest employment numbers, he realizes that there's no way he can win re-election, so he needs to more thoroughly pay back his corporate sponsors during this term.

You also wrote "This is all too crazy for me. I am going to take a nap."

That made me laugh --- for a minute, until I realized the political implications. While I presume your statement was tongue-in-cheek with regard to yourself, it probably is substantially true for many people. In a time when active opposition is warranted, the plutocracy wants us all to go "take a nap" --- and it seems that much of the U.S. populace has obliged.


@anonymous (re your comment yesterday, Sept. 1, under Karen's "Barack the Bizarre" post):

James Singer gave you a succinct answer, actually all the answer you should need, but I'll add my two cents worth. If you and others self-censor in matters of political comment for fear that the government will put you on some sort of monitoring list, then the American experiment in democracy either has already failed, or soon will fail; self-censorship out of worry regarding government reach becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy guaranteeing that government's reach will grow and exceed that tolerable in a free nation. Realize that intimidation is usually the basic means by which political oppression becomes established and persists. Intimidation can magnify an oppressive government's reach a thousand-fold.

Some governments intimidate the populace through unimaginable brutality. But if tyranny becomes established in the U.S., it will most likely be a "softer and gentler" type that cements its hold via more sophisticated means such as subtle but extensive propaganda, mobilization against exaggerated threats external and internal, widespread though imprecisely-known surveillance --- but most of all, by managing to make the populace feel intimidated with regard to the expression of fundamental freedoms such as speech and association.

To anonymous, and anyone else who feels intimidated by the fears of "ending up on a government list", I can only suggest that you watch news clips from the Arab spring and summer. Those people had much more to fear from their government than you or I do, but they behaved with courage, and that courageous refusal to be intimidated is precisely what freed them from oppression.

Marie Burns said...

@ Denis Neville: "Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said that George Bush's ozone standards were not legally defensible. These are the very same standards President Obama decided to let remain in place." -- Denis Neville

Oh, it's even worse than that. They're going back to the 1997 standards that are even lower than Bush's.

Several environmental groups sued the Bush Administration to improve the standards it imposed in 2008, and while the suit was ongoing, the EPA didn't require states & other governmental entities to follow the 2008 standards. The Obama Administration talked the environmentalists into dropping their suits because it was going to impose even stricter standards by 2010. But it didn't.

According to Brad Plumer of the Washington Post, "The EPA had earlier directed states not to follow the (somewhat stricter) 2008 Bush standards, because it was working on even tighter rules. But now those tighter rules aren’t happening.... The EPA now has the option of directing states to follow the Bush-era rules, but that seems unlikely...."

So we're stuck in 1997 till 2013, when we might have a Perry Administration, a gang that will try to abolish all pollution standards, the Clean Air Act and the EPA itself.

"Cat" will do said...

Great post, Karen. See link below re what my kid had to say to the wimpass prez on Friday .. she worked hard to get him elected. Gotta love it when the younguns really get it! Thanks for being so good at what you do.

Karen Garcia said...

Let the lawsuits against President 0 (as in Zero) begin. The American Lung Association is going to court.
Thanks! Readers, the Road Blues site is on the blogroll.
Obama loves us. When we get sick with lung cancer and heart disease, his courage will have forced the private insurance to accept our hefty premiums so we can get partial coverage for all our pre-existing smog related maladies.

dean said...


So sorry to see the terrible toll asthma has taken on you and your family. Relaxing environmental standards makes no sense on all counts. As Krugman points out the standards not only create jobs but force companies sitting on mounds of cash to put some of it back into circulation.

As you point out, Obama is not smart. He is not smart enough to realize that he needs sound economic advice. Instead all he gets is reelection advice from his team who are looking back and 2008 and thinking it will work in 2012.

Like you, I can no longer support this president who has disappointed and outraged me time after time. My only hope is to focus on individual congressional races. Perhaps the E. Wayne Powells out will bring change we can believe in.

Karen Garcia said...

@dean,thank you for your sentiments. Readers -- dean is referring to my response to Frank Bruni's column in the 9/4 NY Times, where I write about how personally I take Obama's scrapping of the EPA ozone/smog guidelines.

Anonymous said...

After seeing your many remarkably good NY Times posts and correctives, and your blogs of uniformly high quality, I've concluded there's not much better on the internet. I'm looking forward to hearing more from you and about you.

--new fan

Valerie said...

Jobs versus the environment is an old ploy. We are going through the same thing in Australia right now. Julia Gillard is being raked over the coals for a Carbon Tax and the loudest objection (after no one wants to foot the bill for a new tax) is it is going to cost jobs. It really is corporate ace card. Coinciding with the carbon tax announcement, the steel corporations showed they meant business by laying off 1500 steel workers. They just “can't compete" with slave labour and non-existent environmental standards in third world countries.

I maintain the elephant in the room from which so many of our economic and environmental woes stem - is Free Trade. Those corporations that are corrupting and capturing our politicians and regulatory agencies are the same ones making a killing on off-shoring factory work and bringing in back into our markets at minimal costs. The sooner we free ourselves of “Free” Trade, the sooner we can have a level playing field and demand corporations with access to our markets create jobs here at home, pay their employees a liveable wage and put some reasonable environmental standards back into play. Otherwise, it will continue to be a race to the bottom.

DaveInJamaica said...

I disagree, new regulations may really have incurred business cost. If the business aren't hiring now, increased costs may have encouraged them to start firing workers. I think that is the last thing anyone needs right now.

Also new regulations would be tough to enforce, the states would have to hire new inspectors, judges and lawyers would have to learn these new regulations as well. That may mean that the states would have to hire new people, but thanks to the Tea Party GOP, no new monies will be coming down the pipe anytime soon.

So a state will either have to make cuts, ie fire people, in order to be able to afford to be compliant with the new regulations, or they will just have to ignore the regulations.

I'm not sure but wouldn't ignoring federal regulations states to legal action by the Justice Department?

It's not a good time,right now, to be introducing new regulations. It's better to do that when the economy is better and the fed govt is not so stretched.

Valerie said...


There is NEVER a "good time" to introduce new regulations raising environmental standards. During the good times, Conservatives (the corporations) tell us it is unnecessary or we are told environmental regulations will throw the economy into a recession. In bad times we are told businesses can't afford it - which translates into the American economy can't afford it. And always there is the threat of jobs.

Right now the Western Countries don't want to join together and do something really significant about global warming and pollution (by the way, America is the only First World Country where the science around global warming isn't taken seriously) because in China, factories are allowed to pollute at will, making it cheaper to manufacture. Instead of the Western World getting together and pressuring China to raise its pollution standards (it is hardly a poor country) or agreeing to put a levelling tariff on all good manufactured without environmental regulation to offset the REAL cost of these goods (which includes cleaning up after their pollution and all pollution related health costs) the corporations are asking for the West to lower its standards to those of China and other Third World Countries.

This “now isn’t a good time for new regulations” mentality is never ending. There comes a point where America needs to get on board with the Western Countries doing the right thing and start doing the right thing too.

Neil Gillespie said...

Re Valerie

"I maintain the elephant in the room from which so many of our economic and environmental woes stem - is Free Trade."

Yes Valerie, you hit the nail on the head.

Joseph Wharton, founder of America’s first business school, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was not a free-trader either. Wharton lobbied congress for tariffs to protect his nickel business, a company later known as Bethlehem Steel Company.

Today Steve Jobs and Apple Computer are an example of free trade gone wrong.

Zero Hedge recently reported that Apple overtook Exxon as the biggest company in America.

Apple’s enormous profitability on high-price goods negates the argument that trade deals like NAFTA would preserve higher paid American jobs at the expense of low skilled jobs on cheap products. Truth is, any American job is at risk. Ross Perot has warned America since 1992 about the giant sucking sound of jobs leaving America. The sucking sound is gone, replaced now by the cries of the long-term unemployed.

According to Wikipedia, Apple’s revenue was $65 billion in 2010, with $14 billion in profit. After resuming control of Apple in 1997, Steve Jobs eliminated all corporate philanthropy programs.

The tale of Apple Computer should outrage every American. Apple has 250,000 Foxconn employees in China to produce its products. In America Apple has about 30,000 employees. That means for every Apple worker in the U.S. there are almost 10 people in China working on iMacs, iPods, and iPhones. Foxconn has been in the news recently for employee suicides over working conditions. How is that cost factored into the pretty Apple iProduct?

Valerie said...


Very interesting about Wharton. I have also heard that Noam Chomsky had the Free Trade scheme (scam) figured out from the very beginning. I find it really interesting how few people, even liberals who can see how devastated the Middle Class has been by the fall out of Free Trade, are interested in engaging in any kind of conversation about it. It is like everyone - liberals and conservatives alike - have been brainwashed into believing that the pros outweigh the cons, when the opposite is true. Glad to find you are another anti-freetrader.

The more I read about Steve Jobs, the more I dislike the man. Sad that a person like this who feels not responsibility to give back to a country that has been so good to him and to a Middle Class that is buying his products and making him a gazillionaire is seen as admirable.

I used to really like Apple because they produced a quality product. My opinion is changing fast the more I know about the company.