Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the Miss America, Hungry People, Flooded Wells and First Amendment Edition

This one is gonna catch me some hell. I know that ahead of time, but I'm doing this anyway because I was basically triple dog dared yesterday by someone who pulled the you have to do this because you're a writer card, then promised me whiskey if I did it.

I don't turn down free whiskey.

You should know this about me.

Off we go. Gulp.

Miss America is a terrorist, but we aren't racist
Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America Sunday night. She was born outside of Syracuse, New York, studied brain behavior and cognitive science at the University of Michigan and hopes to be a doctor like her father. She danced for her talent and looks amazing in an evening gown.

She's also of Indian descent.

Michael Loccisano, Getty Images
Twitter blew up almost immediately. About how she is a terrorist. About how you should have to be American to win Miss America. About how this is somehow akin to her holding a weapon. Ignorant assholes online are one thing, but then Fox News had to jump on the bandwagon too, when commentator Todd Starnes tweeted "The liberal Miss America judges won't say this — but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values. #missamerica".

Never mind that Miss Kansas started drama all her own because she became the first contestant to open display tattoos during the competition. The traditional pageant community isn't totally a huge fan of hers. 

Nothing like a non-white winner of a beauty pageant to bring out the worst racists in the country. Just don't call them racist, because they totally aren't. 'Murica.

Hunger in the name of fraud protection
Tomorrow, the House will vote on The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act. Bill proponents want to cut $40 billion dollars from the program, which would strip somewhere between 4-6 million people of their benefits. House conservatives claim that the bill will only affect able-bodied adults, but the actual text of the bill has not been released, so no one knows for sure.

The SNAP program historically has been tied to the Farm Bill, until that connected was severed earlier this year. The logic historically went a little like this...if we are going to help the farmers make food, we'll help the people who can't eat at the same time...helping both ends of the spectrum. Until now. SNAP is left to defend itself in a hostile environment where people believe that the system is filled with fraud and waste.

Is there fraud in the use of food stamps? Sure. There is fraud in anything, but that isn't a reason to force millions of people to starve.

My challenge to you all is this.

Go to the grocery store. Watch. See the woman who has to pay with the paper slips at the register. The one that the checker has to call over a manager to help. The one who fidgets in place, who fights back tears of anger and frustration at a system that resents the fact she is hungry in the first place, then accuses her of gaming it. She just wants to eat. She just wants to feed her kids.

This month is also Childhood Hunger Awareness month. I happen to think that awareness is great and all, but people are hungry all year. Kids are hungry all year. There are kids in your area right now who don't have enough to eat. Maybe their parents get help, maybe they don't qualify as it is, maybe they are too damned ashamed to ask.

There is something fundamentally wrong with a country that has the means to wage billion dollar wars overseas, that doesn't tax some of it's largest corporations at all, but willingly lets hungry people starve. Just feed the people.

Flooded Wells, Ruptured Pipelines, and it's all okay
I live in Northern Colorado. In a city that banned fracking. Surrounded by counties that want to secede from the state because they don't want oil and gas drilling restrictions. You don't have to look hard to find drill sites around here, just outside the city boundaries. New ones pop up all the time, almost overnight it seems. They get in, they frack the area, pull the natural gas out of the ground, and leave. In many ways, it's the strip mining of this decade, it just happens underground where we can't see it. It's a fast way to extract natural resources, and oil and gas companies are pushing pretty hard in the area.

The commercials run on television here all the time.

They claim it's safe, but won't tell anyone what chemicals they are using. They tell us that the wells are sufficiently walled so that there won't be contamination of ground water, but most of them are so new that no one really knows what will happen down the road.

In addition to fracking, this is a fairly heavily drilled area using more traditional methods as well.

I also live in an area that is experiencing a tremendous amount of flooding right now. Many of those drilling sites are underwater. There are retention tanks on their sides. Wells are inundated with water.

And no one is talking about it.

No one is talking about it because everyone is scared to death of the oil and gas folks. They have a lot of money, and a lot of money buys a lot of influence. The elected officials aren't saying much, even when pressed, and honestly it's hard to blame them. Two elected officials were just recalled last week for passing gun control legislation.




After a few days of people taking pictures like these ones, some of the local news media is picking up the story. I shook my head though when they said last night that all the industry officials are certain that the wells are safe and that there is no contamination. Of course the industry officials are going to say that. I'm sure that they are hoping everything is contained. Maybe it is (doubtful), but what if it isn't? 

The images sure seems to suggest otherwise, and many people near wells say that there is fluid leaking into the flood waters. At least one pipeline has ruptured already.

We're all supposed to believe that everything will be okay, when the truth is that no one really has any idea how much damage has been done.

No one here was prepared for a flood of this magnitude. Including the industry.  The main concern for contamination is the leaks into the floodwaters themselves, as well as the silt being left behind. It will likely be a very long time before we have a full picture of the environmental impact, if we ever actually get a full picture.

On that note, I may lose some of my First Amendment protection soon...
I've been told more than once that some of my fans only hear about things that happen because I write about them. I cover many issues that the main stream media won't touch, but I'm not employed by any newspaper or magazine or news site.

I'm just a blogger.

Which is great, in many ways, to be honest. I'm not beholden to anyone. I can write whatever stories I want. I can be objective. I don't have to worry about getting fired for writing things that are controversial.

That's also exactly what is wrong with being a blogger. That's exactly why it is perceived as a threat.

The Senate is working on legislation to protect journalists....or so they say. The bill would shield reporters from having to divulge their sources (and supposedly would prevent intrusions like occurred with the AP phone records being infiltrated), but only if they are "real" journalists.

Bloggers aren't in that category unless employed by some type of news gathering organization.

The bill only exists because the current administration overreached with the AP, and now it's being used to draw a line in the sand about who is protected and who isn't.  They say that bloggers will still retain the freedom of speech, but not the freedom of the press....not that the press has even retained that as of late.

I guess exposing stories that aren't getting enough coverage isn't legitimate enough for me to deserve protection.

Whatever.

I'll keep doing what I'm doing if you keep reading.

16 comments:

  1. You're awesome for speaking truth, I've been pretty appalled by all subjects noted. I'm a new fan. Have a great day. : )

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  2. I love everything you write, you bring issues into the open that I may never otherwise hear about. But I'm not proud to live here, I'm not convinced we're protected or safe or the government has our interests at heart. I have a get out of jail free card. I can go 'home' anytime but I worry about those who can never leave, those who need the government assistance this country so inadequately provides, like food stamps and healthcare and the basic right of living in a society safe from lunatics with high power guns and not enough mental health services to stop them from rampaging across the country daily. Some days it's all too much, some days I just want to leave.
    Please always fight to tell us what you know, you do it so very well. Thank you.

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  3. Oh that's a challenge I'm sure the ACLU will take on for the first blogger screwed. I hope.

    And fracking scares the frack out of me. The ex's family has mineral rights and gets fracking royalties in the northeast. Where in some areas drinking water can catch fire ...

    And sadly, the problem with the Miss America pageant is the pageant and beauty part. Defining what is and isn't beautiful. Good lord, what would've happened 30 years ago if the internet existed when Vanessa Williams was the first non-white Miss America?

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  4. I got your back babe!

    Yay! Miss New York!

    As a blogger, I am a bit nervous about that too.

    The food thing: too many hands in a cookie jar make for crappy cookies. Something needs to be done to improve THAT system. I've seen people in line trying to purchase food: It IS processed crap! I have even seen them have to put back a healthy choice because it wasn't covered.

    I wish more media would honestly explain fracking. Because I live in an oil town and am friends with geological engineering folks, I understand some of it and the chemicals flushing out the oil, and I still have some concerns. There just seems to be a bit of a logic flaw in it all.
    The hamster wheel problem that pisses me off is: we are all dependant on oil. That oil has to come from somewhere. If we-as consumers-would stop purchasing oil products, then naturally the market would dry up. That would mean walking away from plastic, mineral-oil, many fertilizers, polyester, etc.

    There's my two cents.

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  5. The sheer number of comments I could make right now is wanting to make my head explode, so I'm just going to leave it all alone. And go meditate.

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    Replies
    1. I've been sticking my fingers in my ears a lot. lalalalalalalalala can't hear you...

      doesn't work.

      sigh.

      Delete
  6. My daughter gets benefits for herself and her 2 children. She doesn't get the crap only because I cover her for the rest of the month after her benefits run out. She is a student 12 hours of class a week plus works 25 hours a week and is a single mother. I don't want my grandchildren raised on food that will make them fat and unhealthy. The thing that bothers me sometimes is the candy and soda is covered but some healthy options aren't.

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  7. I found it most interesting about 2 nights ago I was watching Denver local news (I live south of you, north of Denver) and there was different reports about leaks in the oil / fracking areas. The first one I was watching reported on how bogus claims like and article I posted with so many others on FB about leaky wells was false and that valves at each site were sealed and left uncompromised. And further more how that "articles of falsehood" compromises real news and how damaging the info is to those newscasters who always report on the truth. At that I changed to another channel who ran quite the opposite. That they are leaking and they had shots from their copter of overturned tanks and visible leaks down stream. Some one is paying off people. No one is telling the whole story. The only ones who seem to have it right are those independent people with no obligations. So please everyone keep blogging the truth. Give first hand accounts from people who are there. No matter the laws.

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    Replies
    1. My biggest issue with it all is that the only things I ever see on the news is "industry execs say that it's safe...". They have no incentive to say otherwise, and we need someone who is truly objective to tell us the truth.

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  8. I do believe we have had winners and top placements of various ethnicities for quite some time now. That is absolutely nothing new. I am surprised this even got anyones attention. I love twitter but I generally ignore the stupid opinions of the twitterverse, many make hateful comments only because they know that is how they get attention and retweets. They need to be ignored or banned and be done with it.

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