Franklin County Democrats

The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

Browsing Posts published in January, 2011

Ayn Rand, heroine of the Tea Party set for her writings on rugged individualism, personal responsibility, and her fierce belief in self-reliance over government aid programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, was, as it turns out, a bit of a “welfare queen” too.

… it was revealed in the recent “Oral History of Ayn Rand” by Scott McConnell (founder of the media department at the Ayn Rand Institute) that in the end Ayn was a vip-dipper [Venerated in Public, Disdained in Private] as well. An interview with Evva Pryror, a social worker and consultant to Miss Rand’s law firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick verified that on Miss Rand’s behalf she secured Rand’s Social Security and Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O’Connor (husband Frank O’Connor).

As Pryor said, “Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out” without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn “despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently… She didn’t feel that an individual should take help.”

But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so. Apart from the strong implication that those who take the help are morally weak, it is also a philosophic point that such help dulls the will to work, to save and government assistance is said to dull the entrepreneurial spirit.

In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest.

I’ve always found it curious how teabaggers could embrace Rand so fully for her belief in laissez faire self-interests while simultaneously ignoring the fact that she was an atheist who saw religious faith as “extremely detrimental to human life” and “the negation of reason.” That’s always struck me as problematic for conservatives. But now we find that the part of Rand’s philosophy the right did adopt, Rand herself did not have the conviction to practice in her own life.

All hat and no cattle. Typical Republican.

One of the “Teaparty Sweethearts”, Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) recently announced her plan to cut billions from the Federal budget.  $4.5 billion of this would come from freezing Veterans Affairs Department health care spending and cutting veterans’ disability benefits. Why is it that every time someone in the Senate or House proposes cuts to Veterans’ benefits it’s  someone who has no military service whatsoever?

A host of veterans groups have taken her to task on this terribly misguided proposal:

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China is pushing ahead of the U.S. and Europe in developing clean-and low-carbon energy as a way to spur the nation’s economy, the diplomat leading United Nations Climate talks said.

“China is going to leave all of us in the dust,” Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said at a panel discussion today at the World Economic Forum today in Davos, Switzerland. “They’re committed to winning the green economy race.

China last year boosted spending on low-carbon energy by 30 percent to $51.1 billion, ‘‘by far the largest figure for any country,’’ Bloomberg New Energy Finance said Jan. 11. Global accounting firm Ernst & Young said in September that China for the first time overtook the U.S. in its quarterly index of the most attractive countries for renewable energy projects.

Naturally, this will all be dismissed by the paranoid right as a vast liberal conspiracy because someone at the United Nations was quoted. Meanwhile, America falls further behind the rest of the industrialized world with each passing year because our nation remains hamstrung by irrational right-wing thinking.

And I’m not talking about radical conservative fringe elements who meet in Internet chat rooms. I’m talking about leaders within the Republican Party who hold positions of great power.

Look at some of the recent positions taken by ranking members on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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I would like to share this transcript of comments made at the “Man of  the Year” award dinner by my friend Jeff Aboussie, former President and current Vice-President of the Rockwood Labor Club and the recently elected Secretary/Treasurer of the St. Louis Labor Council.  Jeff is a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 513 and one of the most capable voices in the St. Louis labor community.  I believe his comments will be very informative for all residents of this area but especially the thousands of construction tradesmen in Franklin County. 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

 Before we get underway, I would like to take a minute to discuss the changing environment of the St. Louis Building Trades. continue reading…

Just when the Toyota apologists were starting to lift their heads, here’s 1.7 million more recalls!

·        From Automotive News:  Toyota Motor Co. struggling to restore its reputation for top quality, today recalled nearly 1.7 million vehicles globally for a variety of fuel system related problems, including 245,000 Lexus IS and Lexus GS sedans in the United States.  The North American vehicles are being called back to inspect for possibly faulty installation of fuel pressure sensors. In cases where the sensor is not fastened tightly enough, fuel can leak between the gasket that connects the sensor to the fuel delivery pipes, Toyota said.  Today’s actions bring the total number of Toyota recalls since fall of 2009 to 18 million vehicles.

·        Here’s a recap of Toyota’s recalls for 2010 courtesy of Wards Auto:

o        Jan. 2010 – Toyota issues a series of recalls covering 5.6 million vehicles in the United States due to sudden acceleration in some vehicles. It is the largest ever recall for Toyota and among the biggest for an automaker in U.S. history.

o        Feb. 2010 – Toyota recalls a total of 437,000 units of its 2010 Prius, Sai, Prius PHV (plug-in hybrid) and Lexus HS250h hybrids globally, including 155,000 in North America, 223,000 in Japan and 53,000 in Europe.

o        April 16 – Toyota will recall 870,000 Sienna minivans sold in the United States and Canada because the rear-mounted spare tire could drop into the road. Models years involved are 1998 to 2010.

o        April 19, 2010 – Toyota also announces a recall for nearly 10,000 Lexus GX 460 vehicles sold in the U.S. and Canada to fix software in the electronic stability control system. The GX 460 is new for 2010 and has only been on sale for a few months.

o        July 29 – Toyota recalls 412,000 passenger cars and SUVs in the U.S. to fix potential problems with steering. The recall involves older-model Toyota Avalon sedans and Lexus LX470 sport utility vehicles.

o        Aug. 26 – Toyota recalls 1.3 million Corolla and Matrix cars, from 2005-2008 model years, in the United States and Canada carrying defective engine control modules.

o        Oct. 21 – Toyota will recall a total of about 1.66 million vehicles, mostly in Japan, the United States and China, for problems involving brakes and fuel pumps. 

Chapter 11, In the Shadow of the Dragon from Thom Hartmanns, Rebooting the American Dream.   This is a mind-bending look at a new economic model currently in use.  For those of us accustomed to an American perspective this may require a couple of reads to fully understand.  A thought-provoking presentation.

In 2010, Rep. Scott Dieckhaus (R-Washington) surveyed his constituents and asked the question: “Should Ameren be permitted to proceed with its plans to develop a landfill to store coal ash on its property near the Labadie power plant if done in accordance with federal, state, and county regulations?”

Weighted as that question is, by a margin of 48/40, respondents still answered “no.” And yet, Dieckhaus has remained publicly silent on this issue, one of the most important facing his district.

In fact, so many people are opposed to Ameren’s plans to store its toxic coal ash waste in the Labadie Bottoms floodplain that the Planning and Zoning Board (and now the County Commissioners) have been forced to relocate their normally sparsely attended hearings to East Central College because the commissioner’s chamber can’t handle the capacity.
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Amid more discoveries of continuing problems concerning improperly marked graves and overall mis-management at Arlington National Cemetery, a Senate oversight committee chaired by Senator Claire McCaskill revealed that there were possibly thousands of unmarked or improperly marked gravesites at Arlington. As a result of these hearings, in December of last year, legislation introduced by Senator McCaskill was passed by the Senate. This legislation will codify the new organizational structure and ensure that management at Arlington is accountable to Congress.  In a recent statement released by Senator McCaskill she states:

I am outraged at the problems that continue to surface at Arlington National Cemetery. Families who have loved ones buried there deserve so much better than this. These are our heroes. This is the most sacred ground we have in the United States. We’ve got to make sure we get this right.

Watch video of McCaskill speaking on the Senate floor about the legislation

Check out this video of what is required to work on a cell/satellite tower.  To make it even more interesting put yourself in the shoes of the workers that built this tower originally. 

The video starts after the animated commercial, strap yourself in and here we go!

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board makes an interesting observation:

Some six years ago, after lawyers for AmerenUE had written a bill making it easier for Missouri utilities to pass on costs to consumers, the company needed a state senator to sponsor it. It turned to Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington.

Mr. Griesheimer got the job done. Senate Bill 179 became law.

Last fall, as term limits closed in, Mr. Griesheimer ran for presiding commissioner of Franklin County and was elected in November. Because his predecessor, Republican Ed Hillhouse, had resigned to take over the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Mr. Griesheimer took office right away.

And before Mr. Griesheimer could even get his chair warm, who does he see before him with a controversial piece of business for the Franklin County Commission but his old friends at AmerenUE?

The “controversial piece of business” the Post’s editorial refers to is the pending land use regulation that could allow Ameren to build its soon-to-be proposed toxic coal ash landfill in the Labadie Bottoms floodplain. So yeah, Griesheimer’s cozy relationship with Ameren is a problem. It seems pretty clear where his allegiance lie. But as the Post’s editorial rightly points out, thanks to the bill he sponsored, Senate Bill 179, the utility can now pass the costs of finding a safer way to store its waste on to ratepayers.

Nice job, John.

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