Saturday, March 06, 2010
Stupidest Republican of the Day: Judd Gregg
Why did they choose that bill called reconciliation to do this? Or why will they? Because under the Senate rules, anything that comes across the floor of the Senate requires 60 votes to pass. It's called the filibuster. That's the way the Senate was structured. The Senate was structured to be the place where bills which rushed through the House because they have a lot of rules that limit debate and allow people to pass bills quickly, but they don't have any rule in the House called the filibuster which allows people to slow things down.
The Founding Fathers realized when they structured this they wanted checks and balances. They didn't want things rushed through. They saw the parliamentary system. They knew it didn't work. So they set up the place, as George Washington described it, where you take the hot coffee out of the cup and you pour it into the saucer and you let it cool a little bit and you let people look at it and make sure it's done correctly. That's why we have the 60-vote situation over here in the Senate to require that things get full consideration.
It's true that the Founding Fathers wanted checks and balances, but this is why we have bicameralism and presidential veto power. Those are the checks. The filibuster rule is not in the constitution. But since the Founding Fathers did specify supermajorities to override a Presidential veto and to ratify a treaty, presumably there would have written a supermajority rule into the ordinary legislative process if that’s what they'd wanted to do. I don't think "the Founders wanted it this way" should carry a ton of weight in our arguments, but it's very clear that the Founders didn't intend the Senate to vote by supermajority; if they'd wanted that, they would have written the constitution that way.
Meanwhile, just to point out that Gregg is an idiot, where on earth has he gotten the idea that the Founding Fathers "saw the parliamentary system" and "knew it didn't work?" There were no countries operating on a modern parliamentary system when the constitution was written. And why doesn't it work? It seems to work in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Korea, etc.
Arguably what history has shown is that the "strong president" system used in the United States doesn't work. It's worked out okay for us (despite that Civil War business) so far, but the vast majority of enduring stable democracies go parliamentary or semi-presidential systems.
Gregg clearly has little to no understanding of the Consitution and the intent of the Founding Fathers, little to no understanding of comparative politics, and little to no understanding of how the Senate works -- after all, Republicans were happy to use reconciliation when they were in the majority (and when they wanted just a simple majority to get things done), including when Bush was president (and so not so very long ago -- how convenient that Gregg doesn't seem to remember).
Friday, March 05, 2010
Quote of the Day
"After all these years, the same cast of right wing lunatics can type something up in the morning and have it on CNN in the afternoon." -- Atrios, on yesterday's ugly CNN pander to our modern-day McCarthyites.
Labels: media criticism
IEDs and oil prices: Iran and the terrorist threat to the U.S. military
In a spot set to air in eight key states, the group, VoteVets.org (with assistance from the energy independence group Operation Free) splices footage of highly developed improvised explosive devices being used against U.S. soldiers alongside Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Narrated by Iraq War veteran Christopher Miller, who earned a Purple Heart as the result of an IED explosion six years ago, the ad makes the case that passing energy legislation is a national security imperative.
"That's the type of IED that earned me a purple heart in Iraq six years ago," Miller says, as footage of a U.S. convoy being blown off a dirt road runs in the backdrop.
"This is what our troops are up against today: EFPs [Explosively Formed Projectile] specially designed to pierce American military armor. It is a devastating weapon and it was created in oil-rich Iran. They are ending up in the hands of our enemies. And every time oil goes up a dollar, Iran gets another $1.5 billion to use against us."
"Connection between oil and the enemy couldn't be clearer," Miller adds. "We need to break that connection by breaking our addiction. And we can by passing a clean energy climate plan. It would cut our dependence on foreign oil in half."
"Some in Congress say it is a tough vote. Not as tough as what our troops are up against."
It's the methane, stupid
The research results, published in the March 5 edition of the journal Science, show that the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is leaking large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.
Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It is released from previously frozen soils in two ways. When the organic material -- which contains carbon -- stored in permafrost thaws, it begins to decompose and, under oxygen-free conditions, gradually release methane. Methane can also be stored in the seabed as methane gas or methane hydrates and then released as subsea permafrost thaws.
WH considering military trials for 9/11 suspects
If this comes to pass, and that's a big if, AG Holder should resign in protest. Someone needs to take a stand. It's a shame that that someone doesn't seem to be Barack Obama.
Perhaps it will be less of a surprise to hear that Angelo Balducci, a "Gentleman of His Holiness," was caught on a police wiretap negotiating for the services of male prostitutes with a Vatican chorister. No official comments have yet been published.
The pattern emerged a long time ago, even before Wide Stance Larry tapped his toes in Minneapolis and whether you do or don't agree with me, I'm going to bet that more often than not, the biggest and most assertive opponents of gay rights and fantasy fabricators are dealing with difficult inner longings. Perhaps after all, if you'll forgive my radical libertarianism, the best way to hide them and to avoid suspicion is to simply leave gay people alone?
(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)
Genocide is genocide: Exposing the truth about the Turkish massacre of Armenians
What happened to Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917 was genocide -- an estimated 1.5 million killed, a brutal and systematic process of deportation and slaughter aimed at wiping out the Armenian population -- but you wouldn't know it if you got your history from the Turks, who committed the genocide (now known as the Armenian Genocide, or Holocaust), or from their present-day apologists in the Bush Administration, from Bush and Rice and Gates, the Holocaust deniers who sit at the top of the U.S. government. The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution last week, calling what happened to the Armenians what it was, genocide, but the deniers wanted none of it.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
BREAKING NEWS: Chief Justice Roberts will not be retiring
A race to the bottom
CNN takes the lead. The level of stupid in this country astounds me.
Labels: media criticism
You know, I don't think it's a coincidence that the states that pay the least amount of unemployment benefits over time have the lowest unemployment and when we keep subsidizing the behavior, the behavior continues.
Michigan - $362 14.6% 16
Nevada - $362 13.0% 42
Rhode Island - $641 12.9% 2
South Carolina - $326 12.6% 21
California - $450 12.4% 11
Florida - $275 11.8% 8
North Carolina - $476 11.2% 15
Illinois - $511 11.1% 12
Alabama - $235 11.0% 27
Oregon - $463 11.0% 39
Alaska - $320 8.8% 50
Wyoming - $387 7.5% 49
Montana - $386 6.7% 48
North Dakota - $385 4.4% 47
South Dakota - $285 4.7% 46
New Mexico - $455 8.3% 45
Idaho - $364 9.1% 44
Nebraska - $298 4.7% 43
Nevada - $362 13.0% 42
Utah - $427 6.7% 41
Rhode Island - $641 2
Massachusetts - $628 3
Connecticut - $576 4
New Jersey - $560 1
Pennsylvania - $547 10
Minnesota - $538 31
Hawaii - $523 13
Washington - $515 25
Illinois - $511 12
Maine - $496 38
South Carolina 4
South Dakota 50
Conservadem Blanche Lincoln's new campaign ad
And this is the person establishment Dems (yes, White House, I'm talking to you) are supporting. Amazing. It's time to give Bill Halter some more cash.
Labels: Blanche Lincoln
Stoning the Orca
"Chalk another death up to animal rights insanity and to the ongoing failure of the West to take counsel on practical matters from the Scripture," wrote Bryan Fischer, at the AFA's official blog. "When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable."
For I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man,
Yes, there's a huge enthusiasm gap on the left for HCR and I'm part if it. While I do want HCR to pass (even if it's the crappy Senate bill), I have no intention to cheer-lead for it. I've made my calls and donated my money when the public option was on the line, but that's it. The president has my support, but my enthusiasm has been deadened. This is the price the administration paid for leaving the left behind to appease conservadems and, sorry, but now it's up to conservadems to push HCR over the line.
Obama, Democrats ready to move forward on health-care reform
Sen. Tom Harkin told POLITICO that Senate Democratic leaders have decided to go the reconciliation route. The House, he said, will first pass the Senate bill after Senate leaders demonstrate to House leaders that they have the votes to pass reconciliation in the Senate.
(Which, as we've known for a long time now, isn't coming. Which begs the question, why reach out to obstructionist Republicans and skeptical Democratic centrists instead of to enthusiastic liberals and progressives with, say, a robust public option and broad Medicare expansion? Well, because the votes wouldn't have been there in the Senate and perhaps wouldn't be there in either house now. But that was then, before initial passage, when 60 Senate votes were needed. Now that we've passed that point, and now that reconciliation is on the table, it's not clear how making the bill even less progressive makes it more likely to pass the House, unless there really are too many centrists to appease. Couldn't a union of 51+ reconciliation-bound Senate Democrats and 216+ House Democrats have been formed in support of a more progressive bill (including patches)? Well, I've said before that Obama's strategy seems to make a lot of sense, and I'll stick to that now. Let's just hope that Reid and Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic bean-counters on Capitol Hill know what they're doing.)
Anyway, as Jonathan Cohn notes:
[I]f Obama on Wednesday was implicitly giving up on his hopes for constructive, bipartisan governing, he wasn't giving up on his hopes for what governing would achieve. He ran for president on a promise to tackle the nation's most challenging problems -- and, since winning election, he's gleefully defied those who warned him he was trying to do too much. Nowhere has that been more true than on the issue of health care. At any point in the last few months but particularly in the wake of the Massachusetts election, it would have been easy to back away from comprehensive reform -- to cut a deal, be done with it, and move on. Instead, Obama on Wednesday committed himself more fully to comprehensive reform than he has at any time since this effort started. There's no backing off now.
Obama has made his mistakes and the plan he's put forward has its flaws. But I don't think he gets enough credit for the determination he's showing now. Americans always say they want leaders who lead rather than follow -- who do what they think is right rather than what they think is popular. And liberals, in particular, say they want politicians who will think big and pursue far-reaching reforms, rather than triangulate their way with incremental measures. Say what you will about Obama, but he's living up to both ideals--as much as any president in my lifetime.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
We used to call it "trust busting"
"I think the disagreeable but sound thing to do regarding institutions that are TBTF [ed. note. Too Big To Fail] is to dismantle them over time into institutions that can be prudently managed and regulated across borders," he said. "And this should be done before the next financial crisis, because it surely cannot be done in the middle of a crisis."
The death of a blogger: Jon Swift passes away
Godspeed Jon Swift
What the Vancouver Olympics meant to Canada
It's been a wonderful two-plus weeks, with some wonderful moments. When we won the hockey gold today, I jumped off the couch and celebrated like I rarely do for anything. I can't remember ever being that excited for a sporting event. Maybe when the Steelers won the Super Bowl last year, but not even that matched today. That win was the highlight, along with the men's curling win, but I found myself cheering on my fellow Canadians -- and genuinely appreciating the athletes from all the countries -- frequently. Whatever it was -- short-track speedskating or skeleton, even figure staking -- I was there, and I was united with the rest of Canada, urging our men and women on.
It's hard to believe, actually, that the Olympics could mean this much to me, or to Canadians generally, but they did, and now they're over, and hopefully some of that togetherness will persist.
There's a reason this is the greatest country in the world. And it was on full display these past couple of weeks.
Quote of the Day: Mark Pryor on reconciliation and health-care reform
I haven't seen all the details of what the president's trying to do with reconciliation, and it's not my first choice. But under the circumstances, it may be the only way to pass legislation around here... It's not my preference. But we have reconciliation. It's in the rules. We can do it if we want to. My preference would be to have a big, bipartisan agreement, but in today's environment it's hard to do that.
The same cannot be said of thankfully-soon-to-be-retiring Evan Bayh of Indiana, a fellow centrist Democrat, who said yesterday, presumably with a straight face, that reconciliation would take the Senate into "uncharted waters," as if it's never been used before. Is he really that stupid, and that ignorant? Does he not remember what Republicans did when Bush was president, not so very many years ago? Does he have absolutely no grasp of even recent Senate history? It's like he's intentionally trying to subvert Democratic efforts, that is, the efforts of the majority party, his party, to pass meaningful health-care reform.
But what else is new?
Your moment of Rachel
Orrin Hatch is a lying McLiar (and the Washington Post is his shameless enabler).
Stuff to Read (3/3/10)
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
One of the more idiotic things about conservatives is this crying need to privatize everything, as if somehow private companies could do a far better job than the government in everything.
Case in point: The U.S. Postal Service. The USPS is mandated to deliver mail to every single household in America, and to do it for a flat rate. A letter costs 44 cents, whether it travels one mile, ten, or three thousand.
Conservatives would have us privatize that service, somehow ensuring that the statutory service provisions would survive privatization. They wouldn't, as anyone who's waited for the UPS man to come can tell you.
Now, however, we've reached a point where we may have to make changes to the Postal Service:
WASHINGTON—U.S. Postmaster General John Potter expects to deliver more bad news Tuesday to postal customers, employees and Congress, revealing forecasts for continued losses that can be stanched only with higher prices and reduced service.
Faced with mounting red ink, the Postal Service will seek to cut back mail delivery to five days a week starting next year, to raise rates on some postal services beyond what it's currently allowed to charge, and to impose emergency rate increases.
A plan the Postal Service will file with the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission later this month aims to scale back delivery in 2011 from the current six-days-a-week schedule. Discussions with postal regulators over rate increases are under way as well; increases being sought could result in sharp increases in some postal rates, including for newspapers and magazines.
The USPS operates as a not-for-profit agency. This is a good thing. It keeps our mailing costs down.
The problem, to me, seems to come in the form of the admixture of a not-for-profit agency saddled with the burden of providing service to for-profit companies. Now, toss in the Internet, meaning e-mail, online bill payment, and online reading materials that used to be delivered by the USPS, and you begin to understand the problem.
There's enormous waste in the system that needs to be accounted for before we talk about cutting back services to five days a week. This wouldn't be the first service cuts imposed. Believe it or not, when I was a lad, the postman dropped off mail twice a day!
I know! Astounding, isn't it?
First thing we need to do is to reduce the volume of junk mail that clogs our mailboxes. Direct marketers, catalog operations, and other "snail spammers" ought to pay for the luxury of jamming my mailbox so full that sometimes I don't get urgent mail because it's been crushed into the bottom of my box.
A dual service, then, would be served by upping the bulk mail rate on non-periodicals. It would slow the tide of junk while providing a needed boost of cash. Trust me, catalog providers won't stop sending catalogs if we doubled the rate. Too, so many catalogs are now online that a smart marketer would send out fliers instead with a representative sample, directing people to a website.
Second, the USPS ought to get into tighter competition with the private carriers like Fedex. Fedex funnels their package services through central hubs like Memphis, TN, even if you're shipping across town. Crosstown packages could get a guarantee of overnight deliveries at prices deeply discounted from Fedex's. Hell, match Fedex pricing and promise same-day service, and the volume will jump (courier services charge a lot more, so the USPS would find itself in a mid-price point).
Third, encourage people to visit the post office more often. Open non-mail related kiosks, for one thing. How about a selection of greeting cards? Or newspapers, the same ones people get delivered? Give people a reason to go to the post office, and then give them a reason to buy there.
Those are just off the top of my head. Do you guys have any other ideas?
(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)
The definition of is
doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work,
Paterson sought to influence domestic abuse case in support of aide
Gov. David A. Paterson personally directed two state employees to contact the woman who had accused his close aide of assaulting her, according to two people with direct knowledge of the governor's actions.
Mr. Paterson instructed his press secretary, Marissa Shorenstein, to ask the woman to publicly describe the episode as nonviolent, according to a third person, who was briefed on the matter. That description would contradict the woman’s accounts to the police and in court.
Mr. Paterson also enlisted another state employee, Deneane Brown, a friend of both the governor and the accuser, to make contact with the woman before she was due in court to finalize an order of protection against the aide, David W. Johnson, the two people with direct knowledge said. Ms. Brown, an employee of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, reached out to the woman on more than one occasion over a period of several days and arranged a phone call between the governor and the woman, Mr. Johnson's companion.
After the calls from Ms. Brown and the conversation with the governor, the woman failed to appear for the court hearing on Feb. 8, and the case was dropped.
These accounts provide the first evidence that Mr. Paterson helped direct an effort to influence the accuser.
Some kind of savior
Pray for America: do all you can to block Obama's agenda says a letter from a local reader in yesterday's paper. The online edition has 165 comments, mostly favorable. I can't bear to read things like this any more -- and it's everywhere.
The agenda, of course is a hysterically hypothetical fabrication and without much resembling factual support from anything the administration has done, said aloud or published: "grabbing" our guns, raising taxes on working people and the middle class, giving massive handouts to the indigent, encouraging terrorist attacks, putting privilege in peril and deliberately raising the debt -- and of course sabotaging the messianic mission of Saint Sarah D'Arc in a most egregiously unfair way. Most of all, his agenda is dangerous to the divine right to make huge and ever increasing profits through collusion and dubious restraints of trade with no regard for the suffering of Americans who have to watch their children die so that some corporation can make 40% profits year after year.
"Americans need to stop sleeping and stand up before this becomes a third world nation" said the voice at the other end of the table this past weekend. "They saw this guy as some kind of savior and someone who would give them something for nothing."The table, of course was in a room full of millionaires observing the change of watch at our yacht club, which as one expects, has a policy against discussing politics at club functions. Such angry lapses are more frequent of late however, as the propaganda and lies percolates up from the sewers of Fox, the Corporate funded think tanks and policy centers with deceptive, patriotic names.
Of course this voter remembers the posters, the paintings, the rhetoric announcing George W. Bush as being part of the second coming, sitting at the feet of and being anointed by Christ, and this writer certainly doesn't see either man in a religious context. Obama was the lesser risk of more of the same and vastly more intelligent of the two candidates but never mind, the meme is abroad and pandemic and there seems to be no way to stop it. With all indications that this administration and the current court has no interest in additional gun control legislation much less in disarming the country, the rage against Obama, the gun grabber grows. Obama, the clownish, dishonest watermelon-eating political devil from Birth of a Nation. Although over 90% of America has got a tax break, the conviction that Obama is going to squeeze them persists, driving otherwise sane people into public displays of ignorant rage.
Extending jobless benefits is now "communism" and it costs too much. The unemployed are going to have to suffer because the millionaires at yacht clubs all over America need the lowest tax rates in the civilized world to stave off Communism and can't be expected to pay down that debt incurred by Bush and Obama in order to bail them out.
Yes, America needs to stand up and continue howling as though Count Barackula had risen from the grave to suck us all dry and bark the louder so that nothing true, reasonable, factual or sane can intrude on the festival of tea soaked madness.
Obama's agenda, if you believe your eyes, seems to be about pacifying corporate (Republican) interests. It seems to be more of the same as concerns our two forever wars, the "Patriot Act" and weakness about standing up to the health care and drug cartel. His supporters weren't looking for someone who heard God's voice, but to get rid of a President who heard voices but not American voices. They were looking for a fixer and not a savior and if fixing the mess Republicans created takes more than an eighth of the time it took to ruin the economy, some are still willing to wait, just as we're still waiting for the "surge" to "win" the war we were called traitors for opposing. ( Remember when we were America-haters for suggesting it might take longer than 6 weeks?)
Third world country? Isn't that one where all the wealth is owned by a tiny percentage of the people? Is that Obama's fault or is that the result of the deliberate and consistent tax policies of the Republicans? Isn't that one where the police and military answer to the rulers and not the people and have a frightening amount of power? Who wrote the patriot act, ended Posse Comitatus and Habeas Corpus, built secret prisons off-shore so as to bypass not only the constitution but the fundamental and natural rights of man upon which it is based?
No, have another martini, go sleep it off on your yacht and tomorrow get up all refreshed and cry about Obama's agenda all over again because you'll never really get over that sense of entitlement, you'll never be as free of responsibility to your country as you'd like or as wealthy as you deserve to be.
(Cross posted from Human Voices)
Labels: Obama Derangement Syndrome
Ford's out, won't challenge Gillibrand in New York
I've examined this race in every possible way, and I keep returning to the same fundamental conclusion: If I run, the likely result would be a brutal and highly negative Democratic primary -- a primary where the winner emerges weakened and the Republican strengthened.
I refuse to do anything that would help Republicans win a Senate seat in New York, and give the Senate majority to the Republican.