Oily liars

Charlie Pierce on the 84,000 gallons of tar sands oil that spilled in Arkansas last week:

The Arkansas spill was the second accident of the week and, regarding the first of them, a train wreck in northern Minnesota, the people running the railroad refused to say whether what spilled was tar-sands oil at all, and put out a statement on which local Minnesota environmental officials called bullpucky almost immediately.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, the country’s second-largest railroad, said the company was investigating the incident. CP Spokesman Ed Greenberg said only one 26,000-gallon tank car had ruptured, adding it was a mixed freight train carrying crude and other materials. The company did not comment as to what kind of crude the train was carrying. But Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Dan Olson said up to three tank cars were ruptured and an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 gallons – or 475 to 715 barrels – leaked out.

I’m sure Canadian Pacific is not trying to bury the words “tar sands” in regards to this spill so that TransCanada, the company that’s waiting to build the Keystone XL pipeline, wouldn’t find itself with some inconvenient headlines to which it might have to respond. I also believe in the practical benefits of sunbathing in Nunavit in the middle of February.

TransCanada is no different from Exxon, which is no different from Shell — which, as kindly Doc Maddow has been pointing out, is having the devil’s own time keeping track of its wandering oil rigs in the Chukchi Sea. It lied. It lies. It will lie again. (Also, as we always point out on this issue, there’s already one Keystone pipeline, and it’s already leaked all over the landscape.) That is what the president is being asked to invite into the country. Just so we’re all still clear — which, apparently, cannot be said any more of several rivers in Arkansas.


Flowers on a grave

I like cemeteries, I always have. They’re peaceful. But I don’t visit them to talk to dead people, and I’ve never in my life gone to one to commemorate a holiday.

I used to have this frazzled neighbor, Irene, who always had to take flowers to her grandmother’s grave: “I gotta get over to the cemetery tomorrow. Mom-Mom would miss me.” I’d think to myself, “Would Mom-Mom really miss you? If dead people still live on in some form, why would it matter where you remembered them?”

A lot of people believe this. My sister sends cell-phone photos from the cemetery to the rest of us, texting, “Mom and Dad wanted to know where the rest of you were.” (I think she thinks this will make us feel guilty. Nope. I seem to be missing the Catholic guilt gene.) I miss my parents, but I don’t need to drive to the western suburbs to look at where their bodies are buried. That seems sort of… morbid, especially when I can always talk to them right here.

Long ago, I decided that the Grave People (as I called them to myself) weren’t really Catholics who believed in the resurrection of life after death — they were members of an Etruscan burial cult. And all weekend, I watched from my kitchen window as people came with flowers to the small cemetery next to my house.

It seems strange to me. But it’s harmless, and brings people comfort, so what the hell.


If only this man wearing the red satin dress with gold brocade understood how absurd he is, considering that even his middle managers and staff don’t follow his advice:

America’s most high-profile Catholic official, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has warned that the church needs to “do better” to ensure its “defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people”. But he added that gay people were only entitled to “friendship” not “sexual love”.

Asked about gay marriage in a week when the US supreme court heard two cases regarding same sex marriage, the archbishop of New York told ABC’s This Week: “We want your happiness. You are entitled to friendship. But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally.”

Speaking on Easter Sunday, Dolan cautioned that the church had not done a good job of defending its views on marriage. “I admit, we haven’t been too good at that. We try our darndest to make sure we’re not anti-anybody. We’re in the defense of what God has taught us about – about marriage. And it’s one man, one woman, forever, to bring about new life,” he said. “We’ve got to better… to try to take that away from being anti-anybody.”

Dolan told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that sometime “by nature, the church has got to be out of touch with concerns, because we’re always supposed to be thinking of the beyond, the eternal, the changeless.” He added: “Our major challenge is to continue in a credible way to present the eternal concerns to people in a timeless attractive way. And sometimes there is a disconnect – between what they’re going through and what Jesus and his church is teaching. And that’s a challenge for us.”

Typical authoritarian bullshit. The Church has certainly changed. (Ask Galileo.) They’ve even written books about how much it’s changed.

Senate Kabuki

I wouldn’t be anywhere near as thrilled about this as some people are. (Remember the public option?) It was a voice vote, and that also means the Senators who allegedly oppose the chained CPI are just as likely to turn around and vote for the cut when it counts. Don’t assume.

That’s why it’s important that you continue to contact your senators and tell them you vehemently oppose any changes to the funding formula for Social Security, and any increase in co-pays or deductibles for Medicare.

This is what happens

When you rip a giant hole in the safety net. Read the whole thing and weep:

America’s social safety net, such as it is, has recently come under some scrutiny. Chana Joffe-Walt’s in-depth exploration of the increase in people getting Social Security Disability benefits at NPR got many listeners buzzing. Then in The Wall Street Journal, Damian Paletta and Caroline Porter looked at the increase in the use of food stamps, called SNAP. All three journalists look at the increasing dependence on these programs and come away puzzled: Why are so many people now getting disability and food stamp payments?

The answer is twofold. Recent trends give us the first part of the explanation. Yes, as Paletta and Porter note, the economy is recovering and the unemployment rate is falling. But, as they recognize, the poverty rate is also rising. And therein lies the rub: people are getting jobs but staying poor. The available jobs are increasingly low-wage and don’t pay enough to live off of. And the big profits in the private sector haven’t led to an increase in wages.
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Your librul media

I remember covering a Klan rally two decades ago, and it was a very scary thing — especially when people started heaving bricks at their cars as they drove away. But this? Just astounding:

Is this an early April Fool’s prank, or has everyone at the Scripps Howard News Service been hit with the stupid stick — hard?

I read the piece with ever-increasing slack-jawed amazement, my eyebrows raised so high they nearly met my hairline. Clearly an attempt to portray the kinder, gentler side of the Klan, it is an epic journalistic fail. Here’s the first line: “There’s a lot to be angry about if you’re in the KKK.” Well, that’s one way of putting it! It goes on from there:

As local leader of the Loyal White Knights, Edward the Exalted Cyclops organized a barbecue last month to make plans for Saturday’s demonstration to show that white people still have rights.

Edward curses sparingly, drinks rarely, and keeps his hair clipped short — his tribute to his old-fashioned Christian values.

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