Lee Fang at The Intercept describes how “Years Before East Palestine Disaster, Congressional Allies of the Rail Industry Intervened to Block Safety Regulations,” and boy you will not be pleased with anything he reports. Sen. Thune’s successful efforts to block ECP braking systems are so odious they make Sen. Manchin look good in opposition, and then former President Trump – who made sure his visit to East Palestine last week was all about him like he does with all human suffering – scuttled the rule mandating them. You’ll be even happier to learn that the railroad industry liked ECP, until the North Dakota fracking boom made it more expensive, though I’d bet President Obama’s embrace of the system also soured them on it, since Mr. Obama was The Hated One. Then came the frivolous corporate lawsuits, and now, years later, the accident that will threaten the health of good Ohioans for many years.
However: David Sirota at The Lever reminds us that it wasn’t just Donald Trump who helped caused this train wreck, but Barack Obama. While the Obama Administration did create the ECP braking rule that the Trump Administration repealed, the Obama Administration also narrowed the definition of a “high-hazard flammable train,” so that the Norfolk train that derailed would have been exempt from the braking rule anyway! That’s even though that train had five cars full of flammable carcinogens that will pollute the air and water of good Ohioans for years to come. Hey, maybe this is how Republicans have been winning Ohio lately – by taking advantage of weak Democrats who cave to corporate power (in this case, the chemical industry)? And our current President was the Vice President during the Obama Administration, so don’t expect change unless we make that his only option. Which we will be working on shortly!
From the “Articles That Completely Waste Our Time” file: The Hill reports that Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime show generated a little over 100 FCC complaints, though of course that wasn’t the headline – the headline was that it generated more complaints than Sam Smith’s presumably ersatz Satanic mass during the Grammys. But you have to wait until paragraph 13 to learn that it didn’t get that many more complaints (102-87) than Mr. Smith did, and you have to wait until paragraph 11 to learn that these numbers pale next to the 540,000 complaints Janet Jackson’s 2004 Super Bowl halftime show got. You also have to wait until paragraph 18 to learn that Rihanna’s show had almost 10 times the audience the Grammys did! So, there’s no story here, except that some Americans love yelling about crotch-grabbing and devil worship, and the article sure gives those complaints a lot of space! This kind of “reporting” cripples our ability to think, and I don’t care that it’s “just celebrity reporting,” because it’s bad celebrity reporting, and all of bad celebrity reporting’s nefarious methods have surely infected hard news.