Ohio Voters Reject Republican-Backed Measure to Make Constitutional Changes More Difficult, Setting Up Fall Referendum on Abortion Rights

Dennis Willard, spokesperson for One Person One Vote, celebrates the results of the election during a watch party on Aug. 8, 2023, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio voters have resoundingly rejected a Republican-backed measure that would have made it more difficult to pass abortion protections.
| Photo Credit: AP

Ohio voters on August 8 resoundingly rejected a Republican-backed measure that would have made it more difficult to change the State’s constitution, setting up a fall campaign that will become the nation’s latest referendum on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned nationwide protections last year.

The defeat of Issue 1 keeps in place a simple majority threshold for passing future constitutional amendments. It would have raised that to a 60% supermajority, which supporters said would protect the State’s foundational document from outside interest groups.

Opposition to the proposal was widespread, even spreading into Republican territory. In fact, in early returns, support for the measure fell far short of former President Donald Trump’s performance during the 2020 election in nearly every county.

Dennis Willard, a spokesperson for the opposition campaign One Person One Vote, called Issue 1 a “deceptive power grab” that was intended to diminish the influence of the State’s voters.

“Tonight is a major victory for democracy in Ohio,” Mr. Willard told a jubilant crowd at the opposition campaign’s watch party. “The majority still rules in Ohio.”

President Joe Biden hailed August 8th’s result, releasing a statement saying: “This measure was a blatant attempt to weaken voters’ voices and further erode the freedom of women to make their own health care decisions. Ohioans spoke loud and clear, and tonight democracy won.”

A major national group that opposes abortion rights, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, called the result “a sad day for Ohio” while criticizing the outside money that helped the opposition— even though both sides relied on national groups and individuals in their campaigns.

Republican lawmakers who had pushed the measure— and put it before voters during the height of summer vacation season— explained away the defeat as a result of too little time to adequately explain it to voters. A main backer, Republican Senate President Matt Huffman, predicted lawmakers would try again, though probably not as soon as next year.

“Obviously, there are a lot of folks that did not want this to happen — not just because of the November issues, but for all of the other ones that are coming,” he said.

While abortion was not directly on the special election ballot, the result marks the latest setback for Republicans in a conservative-leaning state who favour imposing tough restrictions on the procedure. Ohio Republicans placed the question on the summer ballot in hopes of undercutting a citizen initiative that voters will decide in November that seeks to enshrine abortion rights in the State.

Other States where voters have considered abortion rights since last year’s Supreme Court ruling have protected them, including in red States such as Kansas and Kentucky.

In trying to explain the defeat on the August 8 evening, State Rep. Jim Hoops, the House GOP whip, said the debate over Issue 1 became overly politicized because of the looming abortion rights question: “It’s just unfortunate that it became political.”

Interest in Ohio’s special election was intense, even after Republicans ignored their own law that took effect earlier this year to place the question before voters in August. Voters cast nearly 700,000 early in-person and mail ballots ahead of Tuesday’s final day of voting, more than double the number of advance votes in a typical primary election. Early turnout was especially heavy in the Democratic-leaning counties surrounding Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

One Person One Vote represented a broad, bipartisan coalition of voting rights, labour, faith and community groups. The group also had as allies four living ex-Governors of the State and five former State attorneys general of both parties, who called the proposed change bad public policy.

In place since 1912, the simple majority standard is a much more surmountable hurdle for Ohioans for Reproductive Rights, the group advancing November’s abortion rights amendment. It would establish “a fundamental right to reproductive freedom” with “reasonable limits.”

Eric Chon, a Columbus resident who voted against the measure, said there was a clear anti-abortion agenda to the election. Noting that the GOP voted just last year to get rid of August elections entirely due to low turnout for hyperlocal issues, Chon said, “Every time something doesn’t go their way, they change the rules.”

Voters in several States have approved ballot questions protecting access to abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but typically have done so with less than 60% of the vote. AP VoteCast polling last year found that 59% of Ohio voters say abortion should generally be legal.

The result came in the very type of August special election that Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a candidate for U.S. Senate, had previously testified against as undemocratic because of historically low turnout. Republican lawmakers just last year had voted to mostly eliminate such elections, a law they ignored for this year’s election.

Al Daum, of Hilliard, just west of Columbus, said he didn’t feel the rules were being changed to undermine the power of his vote and said he was in favor of the special election measure. Along with increasing the threshold to 60%, it would mandate that any signatures for a constitutional amendment be gathered from all of Ohio’s 88 counties, not just 44.

It’s a change that Mr. Daum said would give more Ohio residents a chance to make their voices heard.

GOP lawmakers had cited possible future amendments related to gun control or minimum wage increases as reasons a higher threshold should be required.

Voters’ rejection of the proposal marked a rare rebuke for Ohio Republicans, who have held power across every branch of state government for 12 years.

Ohio Right to Life, the State’s oldest and largest anti-abortion group and a key force behind the special election measure, vowed to continue fighting into the fall.

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Ohio Higher Ed Bill Requires Equal Time For Climate Change Deniers, Racists

The Ohio state Legislature is taking its own shot at eliminating all the liberal indoctrination Republicans are certain is running amok in universities, with a bill that not only prohibits most diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and “implicit bias” training, but also requires that instructors not promote any particular view on any “controversial topic” like climate change, diversity, abortion, or foreign policy, among others. The bill has already passed in the state Senate, and is now being considered in the state House, which has a Republican supermajority. The official title of Senate Bill 83 is the “Higher Education Enhancement Act,” but I’m just going to call it the Flat Earth Equal Time Act if you don’t mind.

For all “controversial “topics, instructors would be required to “allow and encourage students to reach their own conclusions” and “shall not seek to inculcate any social, political, or religious point of view.” Should be fun when a student sues to have openly white supremacist materials included in a syllabus. Or an oil company sues over climate science being taught accurately.

When he introduced SB 83 in March, state Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Did We Have To Say?) explained that

it was his idea to include climate change as a “controversial” belief or policy, and that he “didn’t actually consult with climate people.”.

“My agenda was not to use this bill to impact energy policy,” Cirino said. However, he also said, “What I think is controversial is different views that exist out there about the extent of the climate change and the solutions to try to alter climate change.”

So yeah, that translates to “let’s not actually limit greenhouse emissions, because as the copyrighted 2009 cartoon by Joel Pett in USA Today asked, ‘What if it’s a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?'”

Naturally enough, actual scientists are aghast at the bill, pointing out that there really is no “other side” to the fact that humans have caused global warming by burning fossil fuels, which add carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, causing dangerous heating of the planet. There also isn’t any actual controversy over what’s needed: We need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions — and eliminate them altogether — as quickly as possible.

There are plenty of discussions about the best way to achieve that goal, which we suppose may fit Cirino’s suggestion that there’s “controversy” over “the solutions to try to alter climate change,” but not a single one of the options includes “keep burning coal and oil.” Really!

Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, warned that if the law is enacted, it’s “going to have a chilling effect” on science education, since many instructors might decide it’s safer to not say much about climate change at all if they think they have to include climate denial nonsense and “alternative” views. Jeez, you scientists, isn’t some chilling exactly what we need to counteract all this warming?

The bill’s language is particularly vague and circular when it comes to even defining what topics are “controversial” and in need of both-sidesing in classes. It specifies some, but the language is very open-ended:

“Controversial belief or policy” means any belief or policy that is the subject of political controversy, including issues such as climate policies, electoral politics, foreign policy, diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, immigration policy, marriage, or abortion.

Got it? A controversial topic is any topic that “is the subject of political controversy,” so tread carefully and include all sides. Including, we guess, advocacy of plural marriage and mandatory abortion? And of course, many evangelicals consider evolution controversial, so Ohio biology curricula could be in for a surprise.

Hilariously, though, another provision of the bill makes clear that some “foreign policy” matters should have only one side, since it limits a wide range of cooperative agreements with China, and specifies that Ohio universities “may endorse the congress of the United States when it establishes a state of armed hostility against a foreign power.”

Another section of the bill shoehorns in the now-familiar cookie-cutter prohibitions on “divisive concepts” that must not be taught, like the very ideas of inherent bias, white privilege, or systemic racism.

Previously In The Syllabus:

Georgia Schoolchildren Will Just Have To Learn All History From Confederate Statues

David Duke Thanks Tucker Carlson For Spreading ‘Great Replacement’ Lie

Federal Judge Stops DeSantis’s ‘Stop WOKE’ Law, Because ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING HIM

The bill’s multi-pronged attack on diversity, equity, equity, and inclusion also led to widespread condemnation, obviously, because most university faculty, students, and officials aren’t consumers of rightwing media who are worried about the Great Replacement conspiracy theory.

That said, Dayton TV station WKRC did manage to scrape up one professor at the University of Cincinnati, criminologist John Paul Wright, who fretted about the school’s diversity and inclusion webpage, and who claimed he heard a colleague say they “will never hire another white male.” Dude is a proponent of some seriously racist “science,” and has called for more research on “the role biology plays in criminal behavior.” I’d say that this guy and his calipers account for all the “intellectual diversity” Ohio universities can stand, honestly.

Shortly before the Ohio Senate passed it, The Board of Trustees of The Ohio State University officially opposed SB 83, stating that it raised First Amendment issues and warning that it could harm the university’s ability to “attract the best students, faculty, and researchers.” It further said the bill could affect “the quality of higher education at all Ohio public universities,” even the ones that don’t insist on having a capitalized definite article in their names.

During debate on the bill, however, Cirino insisted Ohio wouldn’t experience any such brain drain, and would actually make Ohio schools more gooder by attracting … well, people with calipers, basically:

“When all is said and done here, our universities are going to be better,” he said. “We are going to attract more people who have been turned away because of the liberal bias that is incontrovertible in our institutions in Ohio.”

In addition to the gross limitations on academic freedom, which are lawsuit bait if we ever saw it, just like Ron DeSantis’s “Stop WOKE” law, SB 83 would ban strikes by academic workers, require all students to take a course in American history of government — presumably, only the GOOD parts — cut the terms of university and college boards of trustees so they can be replaced by patriots, and would weaken tenure protections.

And if it passes in the state House, will GOP Governor Mike DeWine sign it? How’s this for some impressive waffling? Earlier this month, before it passed in the Senate, DeWine simply said it was still “a work in progress” and that “I have not seen the latest version.” Sounds to us like he wants to follow the spirit of the bill and not take any particular position at all. We’d like to hope the near-universal condemnation of the bill, which will dumb down another great university system, might put his feet to the fire — as long as it’s burning green hydrogen, of course.

[Ohio Senate Bill 83 / Ohio Capitol Journal / USA Today / Ohio Capitol Journal]

Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month so we can keep you up to date on the vast wave of stupid in this country. And remember, the Wonkette Book Club is reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2020 climate novel The Ministry for the Future,so join us Friday to chat about Chapters 2 through 30 (they’re short chapters!) More details and Part One of our book club discussion here!

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One month later, people living near a toxic train derailment wonder if their lives will ever be back on track | CNN

East Palestine, Ohio

This had been a quiet little town of about 4,700 people nestled in the rolling hills of Northeast Ohio. A sign posted on State Road 14 welcomes visitors to East Palestine, “the place to be.”

But for the past month, ever since a freight train derailed and caught fire, the town has been bustling with responders and reporters. Residents say they’re grateful for the help, but the attention and uncertainty have begun to strain the town’s hospitality.

Town halls and news conferences have taken over the school auditoriums and municipal buildings and shut down its main street. A clinic opened to address worrisome health questions and symptoms, and government workers have been going door-to-door to survey residents about health impacts.

Gov. Mike DeWine has traveled to East Palestine four times since the derailment and US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan three times, each with entourages of aides and press wranglers. Some business owners near the downtown area are so tired of answering questions, they posted signs asking reporters to stay out.

The streets are busy with utility trucks for environmental clean-up companies TetraTech, Arcadis and AEComm. Plastic hoses snake into Leslie Run and Sulphur Run, two creeks that run through town that were contaminated by the accident. Large pieces of equipment that look like showerheads churn and bubble the water in these streams, hoping to speed the breakdown of chemicals in them.

Still, the floral, fruity odor of the chemical butyl acrylate still wafts up from the streams.

Many residents say they are angry.

Donna Reidy, 62, lives about a mile and a half away from the site in a white house on a hill that overlooks Leslie Run, one of the area waterways contaminated by the spill. On Thursday, she answered questions for a government health study that’s being conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reidy said that neither she or her husband – who has lung problems and requires supplemental oxygen – experienced any new or worsening physical symptoms since the derailment. However, her daughter, who also lives in East Palestine, had, she told investigators.

Reidy said her daughter had to gone to the hospital after vomiting and developing a rash. Donna said the stress of trying to protect her husband and worry for her daughter had worsened some anxiety she already struggled with, and she’s afraid of health problems that could arise later on.

“I’ve already had cancer, I don’t want to get it again,” she told Dr. Dallas Shi, an officer in the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, as they stood in the front yard outside her home.

For the study, called an assessment of chemical exposure, or ACE, Shi is working with a mapping specialist Ian Dunn, a geospatial health scientist and CDC contractor, to interview residents in some of the areas believed to be most impacted by the contamination.

After Reidy answered pages of required questions, Shi and Dunn ask her if there was anything else she wanted them to know.

“Yeah,” she said. “This stuff sucks.”

“We got roots here,” she told them. Five generations of her family lived in East Palestine. Her husband’s father saved money during World War II and sent it home to his wife so they could buy the home they live in today. Her children and grandchildren have gone to the local schools.

“They just ruined everything,” Reidy says, speaking of Norfolk Southern.

“My kids are moving, my grandkids are moving away. They just ruined everything,” she said as she started to cry.

“I’m so sorry,” Shi said, “Can I give you a hug?”

Shi, who was dressed in her dark blue public health service uniform and black work boots, put her arms around Reidy. “I can’t imagine,” she said.

“I’m so mad at them because they’re so cheap and all they cared about was money for themselves,” Reidy went on, speaking through tears. “They should have huge fines against them.”

Then Reidy apologized for getting upset.

On Thursday night, some area residents came to the local high school auditorium for a town hall meeting – their first chance to confront Norfolk Southern since the spill – and expressed similar anger and frustration.

The company was ordered to appear at the town hall by the EPA after declining to participate in earlier events.

“One thing I would like to say … is that we are sorry. We’re very sorry. We feel horrible about it,” said Darrell Wilson, who was representing the company.

The room erupted with shouts of “Buy us out!”

“Do the right thing,” one man shouted. “Tell Alan to buy us out,” referring to Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw.

Several people said they believed staying in their homes was making them ill, but they couldn’t afford to go anywhere else. They want the railroad to buy their homes, which they feel have lost value since the spill.

“Get us out!” some yelled.

“We are going to do the right thing,” Wilson said, responding to the shouts.

Wilson said the company had leased office space in town and “and we signed a long lease. So we’re gonna be here for a long time,” he said..

But when asked whether there had been talk of the company relocating residents, he said there had not.

Some said they had experienced health problems since returning to their homes after the derailment. Others said they had lost their jobs or stopped going to work at jobs they felt were too close to the site. They are worried about their children or grandchildren potentially being exposed to toxins and having health problems down the road.

Some people say they continue to experience symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, dizziness and persistent coughs, and they feel puzzled by ongoing tests of the town’s air and water that have not detected chemicals at levels that are known to pose health risks.

“Why are people getting sick if there are no toxins?” East Palestine resident Jamie Cozza asked the panel answering questions at Thursday’s town hall.

“We do have a team here that is trying to collect health information so that we have a better understanding of the potential exposures and health effects,” said Capt. Jill Shugart, who is an associate director of emergency management at CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR.

The agency is conducting a total of three Assessment of Chemical Exposure, or ACE, investigations – one for Ohio residents, one for people in Pennsylvania, and another for first responders to the accident scene.

Shugart said it would take about three weeks to collect enough information to get an understanding of the full picture, then the agency has to work with Pennsylvania and Ohio to present their findings to residents.

Data from some surveys are starting to come available. On Friday, the Ohio Department of Health released preliminary data from its ACE survey, and out of 168 completed, 74% of people said they experienced headaches, 64% reported anxiety, 61% reported coughing, 58% listed fatigue, and 52% said they had irritation, pain or burning of their skin. The health department is still collecting surveys through its health assessment clinic, which will be open again next week.

Many at the town hall said they felt that the evacuation order had been lifted too soon – less than a week after the derailment – and may have put them in harm’s way, before any potential dangers were fully assessed.

On Thursday, the EPA capitulated to demands from residents and said it would require Norfolk Southern to test for dioxins, cancer-causing chemicals that form during combustion. The EPA had previously declined to require testing for dioxins, saying that these chemicals are already present in the environment, so it’s hard to interpret what their levels mean. The EPA said it would require the railroad company to study background levels of dioxins in comparable areas in order to give some context to the test results.

Authorities have focused much of their concern on a 2-mile radius around the spill, but residents that live farther away, including some farmers in nearby Pennsylvania, say they’ve been impacted, too.

Dave Anderson raises grass fed beef 4 miles downwind of East Palestine, in nearby Darlington Township, Pennsylvania. After the derailment, fire and controlled burn of toxic chemicals, the thick black smoke drifted over his Echo Valley Farm.

“As far as the smoke, you could probably see 100 yards,” Anderson told CNN’s Miguel Marquez.

Anderson said his eyes, throat and mouth burned.

The cloud from the spill settled on his pastures and ponds. Anderson said now he’s not sure whether the grassfed cattle he’s raised for years are safe for human consumption.

So far, there’s been no testing of his water, soil or air on his farm.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environment Protection, or DEP, just visited Anderson’s farm for the first time this week, nearly four weeks after the event.

In a written statement provided to CNN, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said it launched a hotline encouraging those impacted to reach out if they have concerns about livestock or crops.

Also this week, Pennsylvania opened a community resource center in Darlington to help people who want to get their soil or wells tested. The center is also conducting medical exams for residents with health concerns. Adam Ortiz, regional administrator for EPA’s region 3 office, which includes Pennsylvania, said the center has seen about 100 people a day since it opened.

The crash occurred just feet from the Pennsylvania border. The winds typically blow east, toward Pennsylvania. The state is going house to house, testing soil and water in areas closest to the derailment. Anderson said officials are still trying to figure out if they should extend that testing to other areas.

Samuel Wenger and his wife Joyce had their fourth child, Jackson Hayes, a week ago. Wenger said the state’s response has been too slow and lacking in information to know whether Darlington is still a safe place to raise a family.

They only recently were able to get their well tested, and they were told it would take another three weeks to get the results of that testing. They said it was agonizing to bring their newborn son back to their house when they don’t have answers about contamination.

“I feel like I possibly regret the decision every day but here we live paycheck to paycheck, we live within our means, and we don’t have the financial luxury to pack up and move,” Samuel said. “It’s scary.”

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Ohio, Pennsylvania offer health services following train derailment, but some residents feel skeptical | CNN

Darlington Township, Pennsylvania

The municipal building in tiny Darlington Township, Pennsylvania, was buzzing with activity on Wednesday afternoon as a stream of locals arrived seeking information on health screenings, chemical exposures and well testing.

Darlington, home to about 1,800 people, sits just over the border from East Palestine, Ohio, the site of a catastrophic train derailment and controlled burn of toxic chemicals that sent black smoke billowing over the area for days in early February. Residents here say the wind blew acrid smoke into their homes and coated their cars with a fine ash. State and federal officials gave East Palestine residents the all-clear to return to their homes days later.

But residents in both places are now wondering whether their water is safe to drink and their air safe to breathe. The characteristic floral, fruity odor of butyl acrylate still permeates some homes and wafts up from some of the impacted streams that run through the town. Some say they’re experiencing symptoms – cough, headaches, rashes, watering eyes and dripping noses – that might be related to a chemical exposure.

Government-run community resource centers and health clinics have opened in East Palestine and Darlington to answer residents’ questions and connect them to any care they might need. More than 140 people have come to the clinic in East Palestine since it first opened on February 21, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The Darlington center opened February 28, and more than 200 people visited in its first two days, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Still, some residents are skeptical of the clinics, and the response overall. While many residents who live near the derailment site are following the testing for chemicals in the air and water, what they really want to know is whether they’ve had chemicals from the accident in their bodies, and whether those chemicals have impacted their health.

They’re swapping information online, and seeking out blood tests they hope will identify potential problems. Some are seeking out medical care so there’s a record of their symptoms.

On the advice of a lawyer, Ron Book and his wife came to the East Palestine Health Assessment Clinic on Wednesday afternoon to have their illnesses documented. Book says since the derailment, his nose has been running constantly. He has a sore throat, and he feels stuffy.

“It’s like I have a cold, but I don’t have a cold,” he said.

Book said he saw a doctor who took his vitals and advised him to keep up with the regular blood work that he needs for his ongoing treatment for prostate cancer. He was inside for about 45 minutes, and said the experience was helpful, and about what he expected.

“They can’t heal you,” Book says, “because nobody knows about this chemical.”

At the Darlington center, tables were staffed with experts to answer questions about the chemicals involved in the train derailment, free well and air testing for residents, and potential impacts to area farms.

There were pamphlets on how to manage stress following a disaster and mental health counselors, as well as Zuko, a 3-year-old Great Dane therapy dog.

Residents are also invited to take a nine-page questionnaire to contribute data to a newly launched Assessment of Chemical Exposure, or ACE, study, which is being conducted by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health investigators can use their data to inform a study into the health effects associated with the chemical exposures after the derailment.

People could see a doctor, or get referrals for a primary care physician.

“I think approximately 40% of people sought some sort of clinical evaluation,” said Nate Wardle, who is the special response project manager for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Wardle said when they opened the clinic, they weren’t sure what to expect – whether residents would be angry that it took more than three weeks to get them these services. So far, he said, people have been grateful and eager to get the help.

Jim Denes, who is 71, came to the health clinic in Darlington Township on Wednesday. He said he lives less than 2 miles from the accident site. On Friday of last week, Denes said he felt awful.

“I was just miserable. I was trying to cough up stuff, I couldn’t,” Denes said. “My eyes were all runny and watery.”

He said he took a Covid-19 test, but it was negative.

Denes said he’s extremely tired and had to drag himself to the clinic, but he’s glad he did. The doctor he saw diagnosed him with bronchitis and prescribed an antibiotic. The clinic was a lot closer than his regular doctor in Ellwood City, and he was able to walk in and be seen without a wait.

Denes said the doctor told him he couldn’t say whether it was related to the chemicals that were spilled or not.

Some residents said they have no interest in going to government-run health clinics.

“I honestly, at this point, don’t know who’s working with who and I really just don’t trust anything that has to do with the government right now,” said Giovanni Irizarry, whose family lives within a mile of the train derailment site.

In the evening hours of February 3, his wife Ashley Irizarry was driving to work when she noticed she could see thick black smoke hanging in the air, even though it was dark. Eventually, she saw the raging fire along the railroad tracks.

That night, Ashley had a red rash on her cheeks, her eyes were burning and red and a metallic chemical smell had burned her nose and throat. On Saturday, Giovanni said, his lips burned like he’d had scalding hot soup. Giovanni’s mother, who was living with them, developed a cough so severe she couldn’t catch her breath. The Irizarrys evacuated on Sunday to Boardman, Ohio, about 15 miles away.

They returned home on Saturday, February 11, in anticipation of school restarting on Monday.

As soon as they got close to town, Giovanni said, “I immediately felt my lips like start that burning sensation.”

He and his mom started coughing. His wife and kids developed debilitating and unrelenting headaches. After the kids came home from school on Monday, both started vomiting.

Ashley says she has taken the family to their primary care doctor, an urgent care and the hospital.

“It was not getting better,” she said.

Medical records reviewed by CNN show Ashley was prescribed a steroid and given a chest X-ray due to “toxic effects of gas exposure.” Her son was also diagnosed with chemical exposure.

When the doctors looked into her nose and throat they told her ” ‘Your mucous membranes are all pale. Like they were burned,’ but they didn’t know what to do at this time,” Ashley said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

On public Facebook groups, residents are sharing names of providers who will order blood testing for chemical exposures, which isn’t something either of the government-run clinics is doing currently. Some have even tried to do their own research to try to identify the medical codes needed to order tests for specific chemicals in the blood from large labs.

Instead of going to the government health clinic, on Wednesday, Ashley went to see their chiropractor, Richard Tsai, who has been ordering certain blood tests for existing patients who think they have having health problems connected to chemical exposures from the derailment.

Tsai’s practice, Blackhawk Chiropractic, is right next door to the Darlington Township community resource center and clinic that was opened by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and other state agencies this week.

The tests Tsai orders are general and standard in medical care – a test called a complete blood count, which measures levels of red cells, white cells, and clotting factors in the blood; and a test called a basic metabolic panel, which measures blood sugar, electrolytes, and kidney function. If his patients ask for it, he also orders a more specialized test that measure exposure to the chemical benzene. In the past two days, he estimates about 15 patients have asked him for blood testing.

Tsai, who lives in East Palestine, says he’s been frustrated by the government’s response.

“We shouldn’t be having to do this,” Tsai said, in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

“Why are people having to figure this out on Facebook? These people need to know where to go and what’s available.”

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health, pushed back against the idea that the government wasn’t giving people enough information. He said that during the course of the medical assessment at the health clinic, the clinic physician might make recommendations for further testing, but that would be done by the person’s regular doctor.

If people don’t have a doctor that they see regularly, Vanderhoff said they are trying to help residents find one.

Vanderhoff said it would be important for the primary care providers to continue to monitor changes in a patient’s overall health.

“Because when we look at the chemicals involved, especially the primary chemical vinyl chloride, there is simply not a blood test that we can do or a urine test that we can do that would say ‘Aha! You had an exposure,’ ” Vanderhoff said. “That would be great, but that’s just not the case.”

Tsai, who lives in East Palestine, said that he’s legally able to order medical tests, so he does, within limits. “Why wouldn’t you do that?” he said.

Dr. Erin Haynes, the chairperson of the department of epidemiology and environmental health at the University of Kentucky, says she thinks it’s sound for residents to seek out common blood tests.

In an email to CNN, Haynes said in addition to a complete blood count and basic metabolic panel she would add a liver function test, since vinyl chloride, one chemical that was on the train, can damage the liver.

But Haynes says trying to test for specific chemicals may be a step too far.

“Testing for chemical exposure at this point is a difficult,” says Haynes, who has helped impacted communities investigate environmental exposures. “The high levels are now gone, and we aren’t exactly sure what to measure in blood or urine since we don’t know what chemicals formed during the fire. There are suspects, but not clear answers yet.”

Haynes said it would be ideal to collect blood and urine samples now, but store them for later testing, but this would be difficult for a local clinic to do.

Overall, Haynes says the government’s response to chemical spills like this one leaves something to be desired.

“The community is in dire need of an organized and coordinated health monitoring study that includes exposure assessment,” said Haynes, who hopes to bring such a study to the area soon.

Down the road, she says, there’s still a lot to learn about the health impacts of environmental exposures to toxins.

“We also need more research on what these chemicals do and methods for rapid testing,” Haynes said. “Communities with railroad must know what is moving through their community, when and how much. They also must receive training on how to safely respond when a disaster occurs.”

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Woke NTSB Says ‘Overheated Wheel Bearing’ Derailed Train, Doesn’t Even Call Secretary Mayor Pete Gay

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a preliminary report yesterday on its investigation into the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. The report says the train’s crew knew one car on the train had a badly overheated wheel bearing, and had already begun slowing the train just before the derailment.

Weirdly, the NTSB didn’t place any of the blame for the February 3 crash or the subsequent toxic chemical spill on President Joe Biden, Transportation Secretary Mayor Pete Buttigieg, or on transgender kids in American schools forcing others to acknowledge their preferred pronouns. That’s sure to come up on Newsmax.

Buttigieg was in East Palestine himself yesterday, where he didn’t buy McDonald’s hamburgers for anyone, unlike Donald Trump, who was there the day before and personally fixed everything. While Buttigieg was there, he acknowledged the rightwing media complaints that he hadn’t personally visited the site sooner, saying he’d “do some thinking” on whether he should have gone sooner. Oh for your sake, Pete! You really do over-intellectualize things a bit, but that’s how you do:

“What I tried to do was balance two things — my desire to be involved and engaged in on the ground, which is how I am generally wired to act and my desire to follow the norm of transportation secretaries allowing NTSB to really lead the initial stages of the public facing work,” he told reporters. “I’ll do some thinking about whether I got that balance right. But I think the most important thing is, first of all, making sure that the residents here have what they need.”

For all his introspection, Buttigieg got a Fox News story headlining how he’d gone on MSNBC last night and cruelly pointed out Donald Trump’s rollback of safety regulations, what a monster. Fox News also ran a fun story rounding up rightwingers on Twiitter mocking the “leather dress shoes” Buttigieg had worn, because what real man goes to a muddy disaster site in anything but steel-toed work boots?

So there’s your payback for the liberal media making fun of Ron DeSantis’s weird white hurricane boots, haw haw. Maybe Pete left his high heels in the car, replied one wag, because you know he is an effete gay homosexual who never wore boots, certainly not during his combat tour in Afghanistan. That’s him, second on the left, in a campaign photo. Those look like boots!

Jesus, you see how easy it is to get sucked into this stupid performative macho shit? Anyway, if Buttigieg had worn gnarly steel-toed work boots, wingnut media would have accused him of fakery because does he really wear Thorogood American Heritage steel-toed work boots around his soft office job? He does not, and how dare he spend $250 on boots just for a photo op? Damn him to hell!

So yes, the NTSB report.

Among the top findings were that the train crew appears to have acted appropriately; the train was traveling 47 miles per hour, a bit below the maximum speed for that area of 50 miles per hour. It was already slowing a bit when automated trackside monitoring equipment detected that a wheel bearing on the twenty-third car of the train was dangerously hot, 253°F above the ambient temperature of 10°F. (When car 23 passed two earlier detectors, they picked up temperatures that were rising, but well below the temperature threshold that would trigger an alarm.)

The detection equipment “transmitted a critical audible alarm message instructing the crew to slow and stop the train to inspect a hot axle,” and the engineer began slowing the train down, but then “an automatic emergency brake application initiated,” which Axios explains may have resulted from train cars separating from each other.

Once the train stopped, the crew “observed fire and smoke and notified the Cleveland East dispatcher of a possible derailment,” and with permission from the dispatcher, set the hand brakes on the first two cars and uncoupled the locomotives to move them a mile away for safety. The report does not note whether the train crew said “Whew!”

Thirty-eight cars of the 149-car train derailed; among them were 11 tank cars carrying hazardous chemicals. Fire broke out and also damaged 12 cars on the train that hadn’t derailed.

Axios notes that first responders who arrived on the scene got the initial fire under control, but Ohio authorities were concerned about five derailed tank cars carrying vinyl chloride, a carcinogenic chemical used in making PVC plastic. Temperatures inside one of the cars kept rising, “suggesting the chemical was undergoing a polymerization reaction and could explode.”

That prompted local responders on February 6 to evacuate a larger area around the crash site, then vent the five cars and burn off the chemicals, which took several hours. The NTSB report is careful to point out that the agency wasn’t involved in that decision, or in testing air and water quality following the crash. Please take your questions to the EPA and to Ohio GOP Governor Mike DeWine, who authorized the chemical burnoff after advisers warned him of the high risk of an explosion. (OK, fine, the NTSB didn’t specify DeWine, just that it wasn’t the feds’ decision.)

The NTSB will focus its ongoing investigation on:

[T]he wheelset and bearing; tank car design and derailment damage; a review of the accident response, including the venting and burning of the vinyl chloride; railcar design and maintenance procedures and practices; NS [Norfolk Southern] use of wayside defect detectors; and NS railcar inspection practices.

We should also point out that nowhere in the report does the NTSB examine the crucial railroad safety thoughts of Donald Trump Jr., who on Wednesday night went on Newsmax to explain that nobody in the Biden administration knows what they’re doing because Pete Buttiieg is gay and that was his only job qualification.

The son of the former president, who has never held a real job outside his daddy’s business/crime organization (or gigs in rightwing media resulting from that nepo baby status), claimed Joe Biden “doesn’t give a crap” and “couldn’t care less” about the people of East Palestine. You know, unlike his father, master of empathy Donald “have a good time” Trump.

Then it was time for the full-on gay-hatin’.

Newsmax host Carl Higbie started Junior off with the sage observation that “You know, Pete has no business in that position,” and the failson was off and running:

But, you know, he’s the guy who had no business running for president but they let him do that cause he was gay and they check off a box and then he didn’t win, so “he’s the gay guy, so we gotta give him something, let’s make him transportation secretary,” what does he know about it? NOTHING! His failure, after failure, after failure are truly affecting the American people.

Just to make clear that Buttigieg is a feminine not-man, Junior also came back to the rightwing meme about Buttigieg’s paternity leave after adopting twin babies, mocking “the time he spent chest-feeding while we were in the midst of a supply chain crisis.” Haha, can you just imagine that little unmanly wimp trying to feed a baby?!

MORE: How Donald Trump’s Sociopathic Parenting Made Donald Trump Jr. The Winner He Is Today

As we all know, real men subject their children to emotional abuse so they’ll learn how to be manly, and that’s why the train crashed, the end.

[NTSB / Axios / NYDN / Insider]

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Donald Trump Tosses Hamberders, Lies At East Palestine Residents’ Heads, Crisis Over

Donald Trump made a campaign stop in East Palestine, Ohio, yesterday so he could pretend to make everything better there, bringing along a couple pallets of bottled water from his cheesy resorts and lying that his visit was the only reason the Biden administration is “finally” helping the community.

In mere reality, federal agencies have been in the small town on the border between Pennsylvania and Ohio since right after the February 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train resulted in a huge spill of toxic chemicals. President Joe Biden has been in regular contact with Gov. Mike DeWine, and EPA Administrator Michael Regan visited East Palestine last week.

During a 10-minute speech in the town’s firehouse, Trump lied to the small crowd, claiming, “They were intending to do absolutely nothing for you.” Trump also

bragged about having a strong working relationship with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, noting that it initially had not planned to assist relief efforts. Trump claimed, without evidence, that the Biden administration only directed more resources because he announced that he would visit East Palestine.

“They changed their tune,” Trump said. “It was an amazing phenomenon.”

DeWine said last Friday that FEMA turned down his request for assistance because the agency is “most typically involved with disasters where there is tremendous home or property damage” following natural disasters. A few hours later, however, FEMA announced it would send a Regional Incident Management Assistance Team to the area, which arrived on Saturday. The team will “support ongoing operations, including incident coordination and ongoing assessments of potential long-term recovery needs,” according to FEMA’s announcement.

The agency probably didn’t mention that it was all Donald Trump’s doing because it’s jealous of how much better he is at throwing paper towels to disaster victims than it is.

On Monday, the EPA ordered Norfolk Southern to take full responsibility for cleaning up the toxic mess, warning that if the railroad slacks off, the EPA will do the cleanup and charge the company triple the cost.

Trump also made a few other brief stops in the town, accompanied by Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) and East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway. He drove around in a motorcade so he could pretend to be president still, and during his visit, he posed for a photo next to a pallet of Trump-labeled water that’s normally sold at his trash resorts. He claimed he was “bringing thousands of bottles of water—Trump Water, actually. Most of it. Some of it, we had to go to a much lesser quality water. You want to get those Trump bottles, I think, more than anybody else.”

He also rolled up to the town’s McDonald’s, where he made a show of ordering food for first responders and everyone in the restaurant, so his idiot sycophants could post fawning tweets about how Trump had done far more for the people of East Palestine than Joe Biden, who didn’t buy anyone any fast food at all. Professional rightwing trolls Brigitte Gabriel and Nick Adams both enthused that Trump water is in fact the very best water known to humanity, because even if it’s bottled by some generic company that slaps a Trump label on it, that makes it the best. We’re absolutely sure the McDonald’s food in East Palestine also tasted better than at any other franchise in America, at least for the five minutes Trump was there.

In a pathetic attempt to diminish the miracle of water and fast food, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates pointed out that, at the urging of railroad lobbyists, Trump had rolled back Obama-era regulations requiring faster electronic braking systems on some trains carrying hazardous liquids. Bates said in a statement, “Congressional Republicans laid the groundwork for the Trump administration to tear up requirements for more effective train brakes, and last year most House Republicans wanted to defund our ability to protect drinking water.”

The New York Times, not worrying too much about technical matters, notes that a “person close to Mr. Trump countered that federal officials said the cause appeared to be an axle, not a brake issue, and the repealed brake-related regulation had no bearing on the crash.”

This is where we point out, again, that if the train that crashed had had an electronic braking system, it may not have derailed at all, because the train’s old-fashioned air braking system applies brakes from one car to another as the air pressure changes, which causes cars at the end of the train to bump into those slowing ahead of them. Electronic brakes apply evenly to all cars at the same time, so that even if a car derails due to an axle or wheel bearing problem, there’s less likelihood of a pile-up of multiple cars following the derailment.

That said, the Obama regulation had been watered down by lobbying so that it didn’t apply to all trains, so it is indeed possible the Norfolk Southern freight might not have had electronic brakes. (Or maybe it would have, since the regulation might have led to wider adoption of the systems industry-wide.)

In any case, now that Trump has graced East Palestine with his presence, everything will just naturally be fine. Transportation Secretary Mayor Pete Buttigieg will visit the town today, no doubt because Trump made him do it, and the cleanup is continuing. But we bet Buttigieg won’t be anywhere near as wonderful as Trump, who, in typical bizarre fashion, told folks in East Palestine to “have a good time.”

You know, just like he did to the Puerto Rico hurricane victims. And after Hurricane Florence.And Hurricane Harvey. It’s just one of those mangled ways he speaks.

[NBC News / AP / Newsweek / NYT]

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After a train derailment, Ohio residents are living the plot of a movie they helped make | CNN


When Ben Ratner’s family signed up in 2021 to be extras in the movie “White Noise,” they thought it would be a fun distraction from their day-to-day life in blue-collar East Palestine, Ohio.

Ratner, 37, is in a traffic jam scene, sitting in a line of cars trying to evacuate after a freight train collided with a tanker truck, triggering an explosion that fills the air with dangerous toxins. In another scene, his father wears a trench coat and hat while people walk across an overpass to get out of town. Directors told the group they wanted them to look “forlorn and downtrodden” as they escape the environmental disaster.

The 2022 movie was shot around Ohio and is based on a novel by Don DeLillo. The book was published in 1985, shortly after a chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, that killed nearly 4,000 people. The book and film follow the fictional Gladney family – a couple and their four kids – as they flee an “airborne toxic event” and then return home and try to resume their normal lives.

Ratner tried to rewatch the movie a few days ago and found that he couldn’t finish it.

“All of a sudden, it hit too close to home,” he said.

Ratner and his family – his wife, Lindsay, and their kids, Lilly, Izzy, Simon and Brodie – are living the fiction they helped bring to the screen.

Officials ordered them to evacuate their home last week, a day after a Norfolk Southern train carrying 20 cars of hazardous materials slid off the rails and caught fire, threatening to explode. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the incident.

“The first half of the movie is all almost exactly what’s going on here,” Ratner said Wednesday, four days into their evacuation.

In a way, the movie has provided a point of grim humor about the situation facing the residents of East Palestine – the joke no one wanted to make.

“Everybody’s been talking about that,” Ratner said of his friends and neighbors who are keeping in close touch through the crisis. “I actually made a meme where I superimposed my face on the poster and sent it to my friends.”

In the 2022 film

Scholars who study DeLillo’s work say they are not surprised by the collision of life and art. His work is often described as prescient, said Jesse Kavadlo, an English professor at Maryville University in St. Louis and president of the Don DeLillo Society.

“The terrible spill now is, of course, a coincidence. But it plays in our minds like life imitating art, which was imitating life, and on and on, because, as DeLillo suggests in ‘White Noise’ as well, we have unfortunately become too acquainted with the mediated language and enactment of disaster,” Kavadlo said.

The night of February 3, Ratner was watching his daughter’s basketball game at the local high school when the crash happened. He didn’t hear it over the noise of the game, but when they walked out of the building, he could see the massive blaze. He shot a few seconds of video on his cell phone.

His family returned to their house, which sits less than a mile from the crash site. Throughout the night, he said, they heard sirens but got little information. “We weren’t sure exactly what the danger was.”

While his family slept, he stayed up, nervously watching the fire and the news.

The next morning, activity around the site had picked up. “There was a lot of commotion, helicopters and people hightailing it out of town, and it was it was a little intense,” he said.

His wife and kids headed to stay with his wife’s parents, who live about 2 miles from the crash site. Ratner went to work running the coffee shop he and his wife own, LiB’s Market, in nearby Salem.

By that afternoon, an official alert warned that people needed to move even farther, beyond a 2-mile radius. Roughly half of the town’s 4,800 residents had to evacuate.

A friend offered to let them stay in their pool house. They later moved to another friend’s house next to their café.

School was canceled for the week. They got their dog out of the house, but they had to leave the pet turtle behind.

For now, they’re keeping their distance. But even after they go back, they have to decide whether they’ll stay.

East Palestine is in an economically depressed area, Ratner said, but it had been on a rebound. He and his wife had been considering opening another café there, but now they’re worried that plan is in jeopardy.

“That’s where we’ve been raising our kids, finishing college, buying a business, and that’s been our place,” he said. “In the future, are we going to have to sell the house? Is it worth any money at this point?”

Five of the tankers on the train that overturned last week were carrying liquid vinyl chloride, which is extremely combustible. Last Sunday, they became unstable and threatened to explode. First responders and emergency workers had to vent the tankers, spill the vinyl chloride into a trench, and then burn it off before it turned the train into a bomb. Authorities feared that an explosion could send shrapnel up to a mile away.

But that didn’t happen. The controlled burn worked and the evacuation order for East Palestine residents was officially lifted Wednesday after real-time air and water monitoring did not find any contaminant levels above screening limits.

“All of the readings we’ve been recording in the community have been at normal concentrations, normal backgrounds, which you find in almost any community,” James Justice, a representative of the US Environmental Protection Agency, said at a briefing Wednesday.

Support team members prepared to assess remaining hazards in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 7.

Although authorities have assured the residents that any immediate danger has passed, some residents have yet to return home. Ratner said they’re worried about longer-term risks that environmental officials are only beginning to assess.

Real-time air readings, which use handheld instruments to broadly screen for classes of contaminants like volatile organic compounds, showed that the air quality near the site was within normal limits.

The decision to lift the evacuation order was based on analysis of air monitoring data, according to Charles Rodriguez, community involvement coordinator for the EPA’s Region 5 office.

Up to this point, officials have been looking for large immediate threats: explosions or chemical levels that could make someone acutely ill.

“Under this phase, it’s been the emergency response,” Kurt Kohler of the Ohio EPA’s Office of Emergency Response said Wednesday. “As you see the emergency services go back home, off-site, Ohio EPA is going to remain involved through our other divisions that oversee the long-term cleanup of these kinds of spills.”

The cleanup and monitoring of the site, he said, could take years.

Although the explosion risk is past, Ratner said, people who live in East Palestine want to know about the chemical threats that might linger.

Fish and frogs have died in local streams. People have reported dead chickens and shared photos of dead dogs and foxes on social media. They say they smell chemical odors around town.

When asked at Wednesday’s briefing about exactly what spilled, representatives from Norfolk Southern listed butyl acrylate, vinyl chloride and a small amount of non-hazardous lube oil.

“Butyl acrylate is a lot of what we’re gathering information on,” said Scott Deutsch, a regional manager of hazardous materials at Norfolk Southern.

Butyl acrylate is a clear, colorless liquid with a strong, fruity odor that’s used to make plastics and paint. It’s possible to inhale it, ingest it or absorb it through the skin. It irritates the eyes, skin and lungs and may cause shortness of breath, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Repeated exposure can lead to lung damage.

Vinyl chloride, which is used to make PVC pipes, can cause dizziness, sleepiness and headaches. It has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer in the liver, brain, lungs and blood.

Although butyl acrylate easily mixes with water and will move quickly through the environment, it isn’t especially toxic to humans, said Richard Peltier, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

“Vinyl chloride, however, has a specific and important risk in that is contains a bunch of chlorine molecules, which can form some really awful combustion byproducts,” Peltier said. “These are often very toxic and often very persistent in the environment.”

Portions of a Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed February 3 were still on fire the next day.

A spokesperson for Norfolk Southern acknowledged but did not respond to CNN’s request for more information on how much of these chemicals spilled into the soil and water.

The Ohio EPA says it’s not sure yet, either.

“Initially, with most environmental spills, it is difficult to determine the exact amount of material that has been released into the air, water, and soil. The assessment phase that will occur after the emergency is over will help to determine that information,” James Lee, media relations manager for the Ohio EPA, wrote in an email to CNN.

Lee said that after his agency has assessed the site, it will work on a remediation plan.

Vinyl chloride is unstable and boils and evaporates at room temperature, giving it a very short lifespan in the environment, said Dana Barr, a professor of environmental health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

“If you had a very small amount of vinyl chloride that was present in an area, it would evaporate within minutes to hours at the longest,” she said.

“But the problem they’re facing here is that it’s not just a small amount, and so if they can’t contain what gets into the water or what gets into the soil, they may have this continuous off-gassing of vinyl chloride that has gotten into these areas,” Barr said.

“I probably would be more concerned about the chemicals in the air over the course of the next month.”

State officials said they would continue to monitor the site for exactly that reason. They are also continuing to try to dig and remove contaminated soil.

“Right now, we have a system set up. As the data comes, it is distributed to a network of people to look at both on an immediate-phase – ‘Hey, is there anything really alarming to look at’ – and those smaller numbers that really matter to long-term health,” Kohler said at Wednesday’s briefing.

He said the local health department would test residents’ wells to make sure their drinking water is safe. Officials are also offering to test the air in residents’ homes before they come back.

Norfolk Southern is funding a phone line for residents to speak to a toxicologist with the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, an environmental consulting firm.

No one is quite sure whether to trust the help, though, since it’s coming mostly from the company behind the spill. Some residents have already filed a class-action lawsuit against Norfolk Southern.

“We’re definitely signing up for the air testing of the home before we get in there,” Ratner said.

The first trains to pass since the accident started rolling through again midweek, Ratner said. The roar of the trains, a sound he used to tune out, is now jarring.

Even the sounds of loud trucks are “off-putting,” he said.

Don Cheadle, left, and Adam Driver star in

Ratner said it was fun to be part of a disaster movie – a stylized, darkly comedic Netflix streamer starring Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle.

In real life, the situation has been gutting.

“Those are great actors, but it was hard to see it as a put-on,” Ratner said.

He shares the sentiments of Lenny Glavan, a local tattoo artist, who wrote a letter to Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw on Tuesday to express the town’s anger and frustration over the accident.

“You just ripped from us our small-town motto ‘A place you want to be,’ ” Glavan wrote.

“It may not be beach-front property, it may not even have the highest paying jobs, or much else to offer, but in my experiences in life, the place I and most people want to be is when you need a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, a friend to pray with, or a place to call home East Palestine has always been that place to want to be,” he said in his note, which was publicly posted on Facebook.

“With the events in which have occurred, the railroad that gave this small town life has now taken the life, the heartbeat, the unity and that security that families or individuals long for in this wild world away … possibly indefinitely.”

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Joe Manchin: ‘The Most Popular Republican In The Senate’

Fresh from his high five-ing trip with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to meet with their real constituents in Davos, Sen. Joe Manchin returned to the Sunday shows to assure all of us that HE is the one who will ruin the Democratic Party’s attempts to make a better tomorrow. So let’s check out Joe Manchin and his amazing terrible friends.

Let’s Negotiate With Economic Terrorists

Appearing on CNN’s “State Of The Union,” Manchin is asked about the White House request for a clean debt ceiling bill. Manchin, ever the helpful stooge, took the “we won’t negotiate with Republicans on the debt ceiling” out of context to talk about a need to negotiate in governing. This accidental or willful misunderstanding did not go unnoticed by the side of the aisle all too willing to remove context so they can extort cuts to programs that help people.

But just in case we thought Manchin is only misguided and truly is a part of the solution, the senator from West Virginia quickly disabused us of that notion. When Dana Bash asked if he would support Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego’s Senate run in Arizona, Manchin made it clear that he would instead support his Senate partner-in-obstruction.

MANCHIN: […] I have been voting for 40 years fairly conservative all the way through, and I think people know I’m in the middle and a centrist. […] I would think that she needs to be supported again, yes, because she brings that independent spirit. […]

Two things:

1) If you have been doing something for 40 years (or as a senator for 12 years) and nothing has drastically improved in your state, you have failed miserably.

2) Contrarianism, in and of itself, is not independence. It’s as dangerous a thing as mistaking speaking without thought, for speaking the truth. Don’t you think?

Speaking of…

Here Comes the “Both Sides” Express!!

Manchin then moved over to NBC’s “Meet The Press” where he proceeded to say stupid things with zero pushback from host Chuck Todd. When commenting on the investigation regarding how Joe Biden handled classifed documents, Manchin expressed what he presumably considered profound insight instead of a lazy false equivalence.

MANCHIN: It’s just hard to believe that in the United States of America we have a former president and current president basically in the same situation.

No, Manchin, they are not in the same situation as it’s been made clear numerous times already.

Manchin is in such a bubble, he made the following statement without seemingly realizing how deluded it is.

Hahahahahahaha! Jesus, Manchin would get crushed in a Democratic (or Republican) primary well before a general election.

Even Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, in the effort to compliment Manchin, basically narrows down why he’s never gonna be President. (Roll Credits)

Mace, herself also tried to “both sides” the classified documents drama, but her effort was so asinine it momentarily woke up the journalist trapped in Chuck Todd’s sunken place.

MACE: Well, I think that’s because there’s no – there’s very little information about Biden. I mean, these documents were hidden for five years. We have very little information, whereas with the former president, everybody knows that those documents existed. They knew where they were. They knew where they were located. […] There was information that was presented to the public about —

TODD: Let me stop you there. We didn’t know where they were located.

MACE: – the number of documents, for example.

TODD: They defied a subpoena, it took a search warrant.

MACE: Well, the FBI and the DOJ —

TODD: In fairness, they didn’t know.

Mace also tried to downplay the possibility of a government shutdown and an economic default if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.

MACE: […] But, you know, this happened under the previous administration. The government was shut down for 35 days. There was a stalemate. But people still got paid. Accounts still got filled up. And the sky didn’t fall. […]

Nothing too bad happened except a threatened downgrade on our credit and an increase in the debt. Totally great, Mace.

On CBS’s “Face The Nation,” Republican Rep. Mike Turner from Ohio tried to “both sides” an insurrection when asked why Republicans seated 19 election deniers on the Oversight Committee.

Remind us again, when was the Democratic insurrection? We must have memory-holed and lost all the footage of liberals marching through the Capitol with coexist flags and screaming in the Senate chambers in Kitara Ravache garb to make John Kerry president.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Republican Rep. Michael McCaul from Texas also tried to assure us like a common Susan Collins that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene had learned her lesson and would grow into her office.

Who among us has not radically matured from a childlike 44-year-old to a fully grown 49-year-old adult?

But … But … Chicago!

Appearing on CNN’s “State Of The Union,” McCaul tried to downplay the need for gun reforms in the wake of another mass shooting by once again invoking Chicago gun violence. Thankfully, Bash pointed out the patchwork of gun laws in the US and that most of the guns in Chicago come from neighboring states with lax gun laws like Mike Pence’s Indiana.

Some dog whistles will never die.

Have a week.

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