LAST MINUTE BUSH IDEAS

As The Tall Twin says, Bush and his thugs are pulling so much last minute atrocities that it’s hard to keep up. But Tall Twin is trying to hit some of the ones that hit her the hardest.  Hit all of us, really, since his attempt to do in the Clean Air Act (and a national park or two) is pretty hard to choke down.  Now, without further ado, here’s the Tall One:
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If you’re planning on visiting a national park or wilderness area you’d better do it now. It looks like a new rule that will relax air quality standards and weaken the Clean Air Act is on the way. The Environmental Protection Agency plans to make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and more near “Class 1 areas.” If the new rule is enacted it could ease the way for the construction of at least two dozen coal-fired utilities within 186 miles of 10 national parks.

Here’s how the rules work now. Pollution levels near national parks are measured over 3-hour and 24-hour periods so they can isolate emission spikes during peak energy demand. Those spikes are what might violate current law and they are what really need to be monitored. The new idea is to average emissions annually. This will mask those dreaded spikes. The EPA could issue the final rule as early as this week.

Many national parks already struggle with poor visibility shrouding otherwise spectacular vistas. For example, in the 1930s the view from Skyline Drive in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park was up to 70 miles. Now on some days it’s as little as one mile. Another issue is acid rain, which can pollute water and destroy trees (and even rock formations.)

Mark Wenzler, who directs clean-air programs for the National Parks Conservation Association said, “The administration’s staunch commitment to coal is so deep that they’re willing to sacrifice our national parks on the way out the door.”

It’s true that, as a nation, we need to make the best of our energy resources. Nonetheless, our national parks and wilderness areas are fragile. Decisions that concern their long term health and well being should not be made as a parting shot as the current administration leaves.

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Neuter Your Children, er. . .

It’s the perfect PSA!

Hey, Red AND Blue States, Listen Up!

This is a response to the internet letters from the Blue States to the Red States, and vice versa. The letters, meant to be humorous, are raising hackles and petty arguments in the current political atmosphere.

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Hey Red States and Blue States,

Hold it right there. I have something to say before you start breaking up this country. My name is Unknown and my remains are in a marble tomb near the center of Arlington National Cemetery. There are four of us in this tomb. We died in two World Wars, in Korea, and in Vietnam. We gave our lives for the land we loved and we each came home in a casket draped with the flag of this nation.

Our tomb is in Virginia. The marble for our memorial comes from Colorado, from the same mine that produced the marble for the Lincoln Memorial. We’re in good company here. This is the final resting place for more than 300,000 Americans including soldiers from the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the Civil War and just about every war since.  An eternal flame marks the final resting place of our 35th president John F. Kennedy.  Two astronauts who perished aboard the space shuttle Challenger, Richard Scobee (Washington) and Michael Smith (North Carolina), were laid to rest here. You’ll find the grave of Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, the American writer and activist who was born on a Yankton Sioux reservation. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes is buried here. He was born in Boston and he taught at Harvard. We share this place with innocents who died at the Pentagon and on American Flight 77 on 9/11. You’ll also find a memorial to the 259 American men, women and children from many states who died aboard PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

If you guys split up…who gets Arlington?

Blue States, are you really so ready to give up Ole Miss? That’s a 160 year-old institution. It was one of the South’s first universities to admit women, and the first to hire a female faculty member. James Meredith, a native of Mississippi, courageously endured a great deal of hateful treatment to become the university’s first black student. And what’s wrong with Alabama? It’s the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Harper Lee, Hank Aaron, Mia Hamm and Hank Williams. The folks down in Huntsville built the first rocket that put humans on the Moon.

Red States, what have you got against Rhode Island? If it wasn’t for that tiny state you might be having tea and crumpets every afternoon. It was the first of the thirteen original American colonies to declare independence from British rule. Providence is home to the First Baptist Church in America and the first NFL night game! It’s also the home state of George M. Cohan, H. P. Lovecraft, Eileen Farrell and Nelson Eddy.

Let’s be fair about big cities. They have some tough issues, but they are also famous for museums and parks, music, the arts and great sports teams. Miami is home to the Adrienne Arsht Center (the second-largest performing arts center in the nation) and Dolphin Stadium. Atlanta boasts Zoo Atlanta (which is helping to save some of the world’s most endangered species). Don’t forget that St Louis is the home of Anheuser-Busch Breweries (for that frosty mug of brew you talked about Red States). You’ll also find one of those elitist universities in St. Louis. The Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital operate the Siteman Cancer Center and the Genome Sequencing Center. In fact, universities in cities around the nation do cutting edge research in cancer, diabetes, heart disease, birth defects, nerve disorders and much more. And yes, stem cell research is incredibly promising in many of these areas. Think of how you might feel if your doctor were to say, “It’s malignant…but don’t worry. There’s an excellent new treatment from Stanford that can triple your chances of survival.” And for Blue Staters with rheumatoid arthritis…it was a guy from Alabama who first synthesized cortisone.

Why the rush to divvy up this land that includes Big Sur, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Everglades, the Channel Islands, the Grand Canyon and so much more? Why can’t we all share and enjoy the country that gave us B. B. King, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Marian Anderson, Motown, Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry, Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Bowl, and yes, Streisand? Who wouldn’t want a Philly cheese steak, a Maryland boiled crab dinner, Tex-Mex, gumbo or a slice of Boston cream pie?

In dark times we have always come through as a nation. Remember that after 9/11 Americans gathered from every corner of this land to help New York City. Firefighters from as far away as Montana trekked to California to fight huge blazes that threatened lives and property there. Rescue dog teams from California have mobilized in hours to help Midwestern victims of tornadoes and floods. After Katrina, as the government dropped the ball, trucks loaded with emergency supplies, and cars loaded with volunteers rolled out of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and yes, Detroit. We are a nation of heroes ready to help our neighbors. We are a nation of liberal, conservative, and moderate soccer moms, doctors and chefs. Dedicated teachers, caring police officers, honest city officials and schools that achieve academic miracles are not unique to small towns or to big cities. And that volunteer military? The men and women who march into harm’s way to defend this country are from every corner of every state.

So before you start carving up these United States, remember that the spoils will have to include Arlington, and Lexington, Yorktown, Gettysburg, Wounded Knee, Pearl Harbor and every other inch of soil upon which American blood has been shed in our shared history. You’ll have to explain to the spirits of those who died why we can’t seem to muster the courage, the commitment and the respect for our fellow citizens to make this nation work.

Or can we?

Sincerely,

Unknown

The original  internet letters:

Dear Red States

Dear Blue States

Exclusive/original to Political Bunko

Please pass along or repost.

Dissecting Health Plans

Editorial – Oct. 27, 2008 New York Times

The Candidates’ Health Plans

The nation’s health care system is desperately in need of reform — as far too many Americans know from grim, personal experience. In this election, Barack Obama and John McCain are offering starkly different ideas for how to fix that system.

There is no shortage of problems:

¶ Some 45 million Americans lack health insurance, limiting their ability to get timely care.

¶ The costs of medical care and health insurance are rising much faster than household incomes, making it increasingly difficult for people to afford either.

¶ People can’t carry their insurance from one job to another, limiting their mobility. Outside the workplace, it is hard to find affordable insurance.

¶ Despite the wealth and technological prowess of this country, the quality of medical care often lags behind that available in other industrialized nations.

Both candidates have largely accepted the prevailing expert wisdom on ways to improve quality and lower health care costs over the long run, such as relying more on electronic medical records and better management of the chronically ill. But they have very different ideas on the best way to make insurance available and affordable for all Americans.

Read the in-depth look at both candidates’ health-plans here.

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RELATED TOPIC: COVER YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU SNEEZE

This is an amazing photo. It is a cough captured by schlieren photography. You can read more about it in the NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/science/28cough.html?th&emc=th