Is America Moving to the Left? The Republicans own Congress and the state houses and the “center” of the party has moved far to the right. But is the country moving to the left? Steve Bell writes that the Atlantic makes a persuasive case that this is really what is going on.
And what about Orange County? We will hear more about that at our Feb. 9 meeting. Republican registration peaked in 1990 but is now down to below 40%. Chapman University professor Fred Smoller predicts that Hillary will be not only the first woman President but she will also be the first Democratic candidate to sweep Orange County since FDR in 1936.
The US Navy says that Edison has contaminated 135 acres of San Onofre. Without much public mention, Camp Pendleton and the US Navy have been clashing with Edison for several years over what the Navy claims is radioactively contaminated soil, asphalt, and concrete. Apparently Edison shipped off 390 drums of contaminated waste but there is no disclosure on where they were dumped. The NRC has done nothing and Edison hides behind the claim that the waste is within “allowable limits.” This does not mean safe limits but rather levels that the NRC allows. It is also claimed that Edison follows the nuclear industry practice of mixing in unexposed dirt with contaminated waste in order to get an average reading that is “allowable.” It this has been going on for years on a small scale, what will happen when they demo the domes and bulldoze acres of rubble?
Violence in the Military. Everyone has been reading a lot about violence among police officers but recently a scandal emerged at West Point. The long tradition of pillow fighting has now been banned by superintendent Lt. Gen Robert L. Caslen, Jr. Apparently they put hard objects in the pillow cases which causes a rash of broken bones. A more serious story was reported recently on the front page of the NYT about Navy Seals torturing and killing Afghan prisoners
Consistent eye witness accounts confirmed what happened but the Navy brass badgered the witnesses into changing their testimony. Navy Captain Robert Smith overruled the accusations and exonerated those who were guilty. Who disciplines Robert Smith? Apparently nobody.
Rights of women around the world. Did you know that the U.S. ranks 75th out of 189 countries for the percentage of women in government? Want to know more about income and education gaps, where there is property rights discrimination against women, or where rape is legal? These data and graphs are an eye-opener.
Equal Justice for all. Just as the recent tax and spending bill was about to be voted upon, lobbyists swooped in and added 54 words that preserved a loophole sought by hotel, restaurant, gambling, and Wall Street interests. Just like that, a billion dollars vanished from tax revenues, money that the rest of us will end up paying. Meanwhile, the richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes from taxes. The “Income Defense Industry” employs a phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists, and anti-tax activists who devise huge tax breaks unavailable to anyone else. Here is another way of stacking the decks of justice: Lawyers for corporations have orchestrated language into consumer credit and employment contracts which bar people from joining class action lawsuits, probably the only means ordinary citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful practices. The purpose is to circumvent the courts and force complainers into private arbitration. They know that private arbitration heavily favors big business against consumers. They have effectively privatized the justice system in their favor.
Toxic contaminants in everyday use. Two major medical organizations recently issued warnings about widespread exposure to toxic but unregulated chemicals. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics warned that every pregnant woman in America has at least 43 chemical contaminants in her body and that many babies are born “pre-polluted.” Many of these are endocrine disrupters which are found in all kinds of consumer products ranging from shampoos to cash register receipts. Of the 80,000 chemicals in global commerce today, only a tiny fraction has been screened for safety. The powerful chemical lobby has adopted the play book from the tobacco industry: attack science and oppose government regulation. Last year they spent $120,000 per member of Congress to advance their agenda at the expense of the health of everyone.