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“Walker Eyes Border Wall … For The Other Border”: A Nutty Idea, Even By The Standards Of GOP Presidential Candidates

When far-right politicians endorse the construction of a massive border wall, they rarely specify which border, because it’s simply assumed they’re not overly concerned about Canadians.

When it comes to border security, it’s only natural to wonder why Republicans seem vastly more energized about our neighbors to the south than those to the north. I was delighted to see NBC’s Chuck Todd ask Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) about this yesterday.

One issue he plans to fix if elected is the terrorist threat posed by the nation’s porous borders, and he said while he’s most concerned about the southern U.S. border, he’d be open to building a wall to secure the northern border as well.

 “Some people have asked us about that in New Hampshire. They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at,” he said.

And I’ll be eager to hear what the far-right candidate comes up with after he “looks at” building a northern border wall – because the idea is a little nutty, even by the standards of GOP presidential candidates.

For now, let’s put aside the issues – the costs, the needs, etc. – related to a building a giant wall along the U.S/Mexico border. Let’s instead consider Walker’s apparent concerns about Canada.

As the Republican governor may know – his home state is roughly along the northern border – the United States and Canada don’t simply share a lengthy land mass. There are these things known as the “Great Lakes,” which the two countries share. Even trying to build a giant wall through them would be … how do I put this gently … impractical.

The alternative, of course, is building a water-front wall along U.S. states that border the lakes. Some folks might not like the view, but we’re either going to take border security seriously or we’re not, right?

There’s also the not-so-small matter of Alaska. Even if a Walker administration takes up a plan to build a wall from Seattle to Maine, let’s not forget that the United States actually has two borders with Canada: one along Canada’s southern border, and then another along Canada’s northwestern border. Indeed, the border Alaska shares with British Columbia and Yukon Territory (about 1,500 miles) is almost as long as the border the continental United States shares with Mexico (about 1,900 miles).

Depending on how serious the Wisconsinite is about this, we’ll probably have to talk about some maritime borders, too, since we run the risks of terrorists and undocumented immigrants showing up along American shorelines in boats.

Given the Republican Party’s general hostility towards investing in American infrastructure, it’s important to note that these border walls would likely carry an enormous price tag. Nevertheless, Scott Walker considers this “a legitimate issue for us to look at,” so let the debate begin.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 1, 2015

September 1, 2015 Posted by | Border Security, Canada, GOP Presidential Candidates, Scott Walker | , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Responsibility We Cannot Escape”: Keystone Stalemate; Fix Decaying Pipelines First For Jobs, Health, And Safety

With the Keystone XL pipeline stalled again, now perhaps we can look ahead and consider more promising ways to rebuild our energy system, creating many more jobs than that controversial project ever would. No matter where we look, the far larger issue that still confronts Americans is decaying infrastructure — which emphatically includes the enormous web of oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing the continental United States in every direction.

When TransCanada CEO Russ Girling touted Keystone as an engine of employment on ABC News’ This Week last Sunday, he insisted that its construction would create 42,000 jobs. Not only would his venture create those 42,000 “direct and indirect” jobs, boasted Girling, but those positions would be “ongoing and enduring” rather than temporary, like most construction jobs — citing a State Department study that drew no such conclusions. A company spokesman later tempered Girling’s pronouncements, more or less acknowledging that they were grossly exaggerated. The number of permanent jobs when construction is completed would top out at around 50. With or without Keystone, the national economy already produces about 42,000 jobs every week, so it just doesn’t matter much.

Yet even if Keystone would actually result in tens of thousands of permanent jobs, its expected impact on the environment, health and safety raised grave questions about whether it should be permitted to proceed. But there are pipeline projects of unquestioned value that could create far more jobs for many more years that any of Keystone’s promoters ever contemplated.

Rather than a new pipeline for the dirtiest tar-sands fuel, what America needs is a commitment to repair the “leaks and seeps” that have made the old network of pipelines into a continuing danger to health and safety, air and water – as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka noted in a 2013 interview with The National Memo. The labor chief estimates that a serious program of repair to degraded oil and gas facilities would mean at least 125,000 jobs a year – three times as many as Keystone – and they would continue for decades.

In that brief remark, Trumka alluded to an important point: With more than 2.5 million miles of corroding underground pipes, often made of steel or cast iron laid decades ago, the likelihood of deadly and potentially catastrophic accidents increases every year. Fuel and fumes that escape old pipelines every day, along with occasional large spills of petroleum products, pour carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as well.

Using pipelines to transport natural gas and hazardous liquid fuels is generally safer than the alternatives of road and rail, but when pipeline accidents happen, they can be devastating – as we have learned in recent years from the tragic explosions in San Bruno, CA, which killed eight people and razed dozens of homes, and in Allentown, PA, which killed five people and destroyed 50 buildings.

Officials in Michigan are concerned about the condition of 61 year-old pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet – and where, if the pipelines failed, a ruinous oil spill could conceivably leave the Great Lakes in the same ruinous condition as the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. And New York officials worry every day about the perilous state of the city’s gas mains, aging and decrepit, which exploded in East Harlem last March, killing and injuring dozens of people and causing millions in property damage.

An investigation by reporters at Pro Publica, the nonprofit news service, revealed that over the past three decades, pipeline accidents accounted for more than 500 deaths, over 4,000 injuries, and almost $7 billion in property damage – numbers that will swell in the years ahead unless repairs and inspections are stepped up drastically. At the moment, replacing only the most dangerously corroded pipes in New York’s Con Edison system is estimated to require $10 billion and 30 years of construction.

The upside of this looming threat is that confronting it would create hundreds of thousands of permanent, well-paid jobs while preserving the environment and improving public safety and health. Like so much of the incredible infrastructure left to us by previous generations, the pipelines need to be maintained, modernized, or mothballed for the sake of the future. Politicians and their paymasters may prefer to look the other way, but it is a responsibility we cannot escape.


By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, The National Memo, November 19, 2014

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Big Oil, Jobs, Keystone XL | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Everyday Mitt”: A Few Of Mitt Romney’s Favorite Things

Mitt Romney Visits Michigan
“I love this state. It seems right here. The trees are the right height. I like seeing the lakes. I love the lakes. There’s something very special here. The Great Lakes, but also all the little inland lakes that dot the parts of Michigan. I love cars. I dunno, I mean, I grew up totally in love with cars.”
—Mitt Romney, February 16, 2012

Mitt Romney Visits Arizona
“I love this state, too. It seems right here. Even more right than Michigan. The heat is the right temperature. The spines on the cacti are just the right sharpness. I like drought. I enjoy canyons. I grew up totally in love with canyons. There were pictures of canyons on my bedroom wall. I also love mountains.”

Mitt Romney Visits the Dentist
“I love this place. I love drills and fillings. I love plaque, and also the removal of plaque. I like teeth that are inside the mouth, but I also like teeth that are outside the mouth. I grew up totally in love with novocaine. I’m addicted to novocaine. I wish I could go to the dentist every day, and get a shot of novocaine. My dentist is just the right height. He’s also approximately the right width.”

Mitt Romney Visits the Bathroom in the Coach Section of a Commercial Airplane
“I am absolutely in love with this place. The toilet is just the right size. I love cramped spaces that smell like human waste. I’m totally in love with used paper towels. I like it when other passengers flush the toilet, but I also like it when they don’t.”

Mitt Romney Visits a Department of Motor Vehicles
“I love this place, so much. The lines are just the right length. Not too short. I hate short lines. I love how this place hearkens back to a simpler time in our history, before we knew how to efficiently process people through a system that could very easily be automated. I grew up in love with civil servants struggling to perform simple tasks. There’s something very special in here. The eye charts. I love eye charts.”

Mitt Romney Visits Rick Santorum’s House
“I really love this place. I love tiny houses that only cost one or two million dollars. I grew up in a bedroom about the size of three of these houses. I love the domestic staff that works inside a house, but also the staff that works outside a house. Where is all the staff? I don’t see them. I think this house is terrific, especially given the size of Rick Santorum. I think he is the perfect depth.”


By: Jeremy Blackman, The New Republic, February 24, 2012

February 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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