As a Progressive whose often critical of conservative extremists and corporate special interests, I thought it might be a change to show that I am aware that there are those in these two camps who deserve recognition when they rate it. Here are a recent few.
Cancer patient Crystal Kim
Congrats to Delta Airlines for stepping up and transporting a stage 4 cancer patient from Seattle to Korea where the patient wanted to live out her life. Her own homeland airline, Korean Air denied Crystal Kim air passage even when she presented them with a doctor’s clearance to make the flight.
Korean Air said their reason for denying Ms. Kim transport was strictly for her own health based on their own in-house medical team comprised of licensed medical doctors. These are the people “who make the final decision on who can and cannot board our flights,” said Penny Pfaelzer, Korean Air spokesperson. But thanks to Delta Airlines, Ms Kim arrived in her ancestral homeland shortly before succumbing to her illness and “died peacefully in her sleep”.
Based on a story by King5 News in Seattle, Korean Airlines was within their legal rights to deny Ms. Kim passage for fear she “would die during the flight, potentially traumatizing other passengers.” This seems legitimate enough but it also reeks of typical corporate self-interests. Clearly Delta didn’t see this as a major concern and now they are the heroes while KA is the zero. KA did agree to reimburse Ms. Kim’s daughter the money they originally paid them for their tickets back in May. Sorry. That earns very little credibility with those of us who don’t have ice water flowing through our veins.
TCEQ and Republican State Legislators Get a Gold Star
As of late the legislation and the process in the state of Texas have not favored most of its citizens. There has been little kindness shown them also from the state regulatory agency responsible for monitoring potential hazards to our air and water quality, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). But a Houston Chronicle editorial recently pointed out that both have reflected changes that buff up their images some and score a mild victory for grassroots efforts in the state.
Concerns expressed by many citizens who live in close proximity to refineries around the Gulf coast worried about the toxic emissions that seemed apparent at emission stacks that flamed for days and days on end. The concerns are legitimate because as the Houston Chronicle editorial points out “those orange-yellow flares indicate an emergency, a last-ditch attempt to deal with escaping gases, sometimes toxic.
But the TCEQ-sponsored study, done by the University of Texas at Austin, found that actually, those scary-looking flares can be a good thing. Plants often use steam systems to make everyday, non-emergency flares invisible. But that steam can reduce the flares’ ability to destroy harmful gases. In the study, an orange-yellow flame obliterated 99.9 percent of smog-forming gases. The invisible steam-system flare burned away less than half.”
This will now force refinery owners to make changes that this study says benefits the air we all breathe. If they don’t, we will see if the TCEQ remains committed enough to make them do the right thing. If they do they will be our heroes and the refineries will be the zeros.
On the legislative end is a great victory for people who suffer the ill-effects of natural gas well drilling built near them, especially from the “fracking” process. Fracturing, or fracking as its known, forces tons of water through underground shale rock along with some known carcinogen chemicals that releases the gas trapped there. Those chemicals and the tainted waste water however may find their way into underground water systems that serve as drinking water for the community near them.
The editorial gives a shout-out to State Senators Joan Huffman and Glen Hegar, both Republicans, for their efforts to revise rules allowing TCEQ to punish polluters with “fines [that] will have more bite”. Huffman and Hegar are our heroes here and Rep. Warren Chisum, who I have vilified before on this blog, is our zero. Chisum’s efforts to force ordinary citizens to show proof that there are toxic threats emanating from nearby natural gas wells rather than making the owner responsible to prove there isn’t, failed.
Letter to the editor writer and right-wing sympathizer Lee Nahrgang, in today’s Denton Record-Chronicle is to be praised for his comments that challenge those who would stifle public debate, despite the different views people hold. He quotes the veritable statement by Yale law professor Stephen Carter:
“Democracy, at its best, rests on a foundation of mutual respect among co-equal citizens willing to take the time for serious debate. After all, even on the momentous issues that divide us, there is usually the possibility that the other side has a good argument. Yet if we paint our opponents as monsters, we owe them no obligation to pay attention to what they have to say.”?
Mr. Nahrgang then expounds on this by saying “Can we agree that our political opponents, except for the few true extremists, are not monsters, that they support the policies they do because they sincerely believe those policies are for the best?”
But it appears that this writer thinks only liberals and Democrats are in violation of these upright positions as he ends his letter thusly:
“ ...be very leery of the Howard Deans, nationally and locally, who demagogue and demonize for political gain. [I]f you disagree with Carter and find those ‘debate’ tactics of the left logical and reasonable, then, by all means, side with the Howard Deans.”
Nahrgang goes from hero to zero by simply implying that those in one political camp are the only ones capable of “demagoguing” the issues.