Monday, December 14, 2009

Last Call

So, if I'm reading this right, Al Gore says the polar ice caps could be gone by 2017.  Five to seven years, is what he's saying.
"2008 had a smaller minimum, probably, than 2007," Gore said, alluding to work led by California-based researcher Wieslaw Maslowski.

"Some of the models suggest to Dr. Maslowski that there is a 75 percent chance that the entire polar ice cap during some summer months could be completely ice free within five to seven years," Gore said.
Gore's immediately being attacked over this.
However, the climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast.

“It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr Maslowski said. “I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”

Mr Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.
Here's my question.  Shouldn't a 75% chance of ice-free summer months in the Arctic in seven years, even as a ballpark figure, still scare the bejesus out of people?  Even 15 years or 20 would still be horrific news.

Why I Don't Take Rasmussen Seriously

Rasmussen's new poll has the GOP leading on 8 of its "top ten issues" this month, with the Dems having a 2 point lead on education and tied on Social Security.

But according to the Rasmussen boys, the GOP is leading by 12 points on the economy.  Obama's average on the economy is -5.  But the real killer is that the GOP is also leading by 3 points on ethics.  Really?  After the most corrupt administration to ever walk the Earth?

That's ridiculous enough for me to dismiss the poll out of hand.

The Resource Wars Scenario

Digby discusses the real problem with global warming over the next few decades:
It's not about the planet, which is quite able to deal with climate change. It's about the humans that live on the planet. The problems caused by climate change will cause huge dislocations of populations.

If they've ever thought about it, which is doubtful, Palin and her buddies would probably find that stimulating. She and her bloodthirsty brethren would love to have an excuse to "protect what's theirs" in the event of massive shifts in population. (After all, Palin couldn't even stand to live in Hawaii because of all those icky minorities.) But regardless of GI Joe and Jane seige fantasies, the fact is that climate change is going to affect large numbers of people in a fairly short period of time. And those people are going to move somewhere and cause dislocations and wrenching social change all across the planet. It's not just about driving a Chevy Tahoe or the price of gasoline. It's about starvation, migration and war.
Oh you're damn right, Digby.  And frankly, the Wingers plan to win that war, just like Iraq and Afghanistan.  Get the oil first, then the water, then the arable land...and shoot anybody who comes over from the border to try to get them.  There are finite resources on the Earth, period.  The more competition for those resources, the nastier things will get.  The Pentagon keeps gaming out these resource war scenarios because it damn well believes in global warming and the chaos it will cause.

The neo-cons know it's coming too, but the first law of economics in a market is scarcity of supply and increase in demand means you can charge more.  They're counting on selling everything to us to keep us safe.  There's a reason big companies want to privatize your water supply, your emergency services, your police force, your infrastructure in addition to your food and energy.  They know that's where the money's going to be in the 21st century.

Hell, they're not trying to stop global warming.  They want it to come as fast as they can so they can take over.  Naomi Klein was rightDisaster Capitalism is the business model of the present and the future.

Looks Like It's Option Three

Earlier today, I went over Sam Stein's options for where Obamacare was going:
  1. Make Lieberman play ball.
  2. Get a Republican instead.
  3. Dump the Medicare/public option to appease Lieberman.
  4. Budget reconciliation.
Of course, option three is the least favorable option for the Dems.  So guess which one Obama's going for?
The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which would mean eliminating the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill, according to an official close to the negotiations.

But Reid is described as so frustrated with Lieberman that he is not ready to sacrifice a key element of the health care bill, and first wants to see the Congressional Budget Office cost analysis of the Medicare buy-in. The analysis is expected early this week.
And Democrats continue to play directly into the Republican dream scenario:  either progressives kill the public-option free bill from the left and they take the blame, or the Republicans get the plan they wanted that precisely none of them will vote for and they will ride that right back into power to finish America's middle-class off for good.

Keep it up, guys.  You're doing a hell of a job.  Now granted, this is Politico reporting this, so it has to be taken with a metric ton of salt.  But the White House goes down option three on this, they're goners in 2010 and 2012.

[UPDATE 3:30 PM] White House is denying the Politico story outright.  Clock's ticking however:  the deal has to be struck before the end of this week or it's on to the next deadline:  the State of the Union address.

[UPDATE 2 4:15 PM] Lieberman was for the Medicare buy-in just three months ago.

Democrats are idiots for dealing with this man.

[UPDATE 3 6:45 PM] HuffPo's Sam Stein says the guy behind the White House push to get Reid to cut a deal with Lieberman is...surprise!  Rahmbo!
His direct message to Reid (D-Nev.), according to a source close to the negotiations: "Get it done. Just get it done."
And it keeps getting better.

[UPDATE 4 10:55 PM]  CNN is backing up Stein's information.
Senate Democrats are preparing to drop a compromise health-care plan that would allow 55- to 64-year-olds to buy into Medicare because of opposition from Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, two senior Democratic sources said Monday.

"It's what the White House wants, and there aren't many other options that allow us to finish by Christmas," said one source.
The Hill is backing it tooAll indications are Harry Reid will drop everything to appease Lieberman.

Keep walking into that jet engine, boys.  Senate King Poobah Lieberman owns your asses because you're letting him do so.

Dr. Feelgood

I feel like crap, I'm sick, at work, and Joe F'ckin Lieberman makes my soul hurt.

...OK, I feel better now.

Quote Of The Week

Jon Chait on Joe F'ckin Lieberman:
I think one answer here is that Lieberman isn't actually all that smart. He speaks, and seems to think, exclusively in terms of generalities and broad statements of principle. But there's little evidence that he's a sharp or clear thinker, and certainly no evidence that he knows or cares about the details of health care reform.
Stupid and petty is a bad, bad combination.  And it's about to cost the Dems and Americans dearly.

Epic Our Water Filter Goes Up To Eleven Fail

A luxury hotel in Miami has a problem after one guest died of Legionnaire's Disease.  It was traced to the hotel's water supply, and the reason behind the outbreak:
An investigation this week by county and state officials revealed that the hotel had installed a water filter powerful enough to remove chlorine from its city-supplied water, a move that encouraged bacterial growth.

"What's ironic is the hotel installed a special filtration system to enhance the quality of their drinking water,'' said Dr. Vincent Conte, the county's top epidemiologist.
Nice.  It de-chlorinated the water and failed to get rid of the bacteria.  That's a hell of a filter.

That's also a hell of an EPIC FAIL.

Four Starts To Be A Bit Of A Trend

Chalk up another Blue Dog Dem calling it quits, making it four as the Nashville Post reports Rep. Bart Gordon is retiring.
“I feel honored that the people of Middle Tennessee have allowed me to serve them for the past 25 years,” said Gordon. “Every decision I have made in Congress has been with their best interests in mind. I hope the people here at home feel that I have served them as well as their good advice and views have served me.
“When I was elected, I was the youngest member of the Tennessee congressional delegation; now, I’m one of the oldest. In fact, I have members of my staff who weren’t even born when I took office. That tells me it’s time for a new chapter.”
As the paper reports, this means the 2010 Census redistricting will be hairy for the Dems in Tennessee.  Blue Dogs are packing it in.  Who will replace them, Dems or Teabaggers?

Granted, this saves the Dems the trouble of primaries for Blue Dogs.  But they still have to win. And in Tennessee, that's going to be difficult.  The Dems will lose seats of course...but not as many as the GOP seems to think.

The New Stupidity

Via Atrios, Charles Lane at the WaPo gives us the new Already Failed Obama Presidency meme of the week:
-- Reduce the federal minimum wage. In 2007, Congress enacted a three-step increase in the minimum wage, which was then $5.15 per hour. The final installment took effect in July, raising the rate to $7.25 per hour. In the meantime, unemployment climbed from 4.7 percent to 9.5 percent.

I am not saying that the minimum wage increase caused this; far from it. But study after study has shown that this supposed benefit to the poor prices low-skilled workers out of entry-level jobs. It was unwise to keep raising the cost of hiring them in a recession.

Economist David Neumark, co-author of a definitive book on minimum wages, said in a June Wall Street Journal op-ed that the July increase probably killed 300,000 jobs that would have otherwise gone to teenagers and young adults.
Really. It's never a good time to raise the minimum wage according to these guys.  The problem is low-skilled workers don't get hired because they lack job skills.  The answer isn't to train them, the answer is to cut back on social programs and hope they pull themselves up in a free market, of course.  That's capitalism!

Wages have largely stagnated for decades.  Raising the minimum wage isn't the problem, banks crapping out at the gambling table was the problem.

[UPDATE 4:10 PM]


God we're screwed in this country. It makes me weep.

The Kroog Versus The Galties

Paul Krugman arrives at the Randian truth of today's GOP:
Given this history, you might have expected the emergence of a national consensus in favor of restoring more-effective financial regulation, so as to avoid a repeat performance. But you would have been wrong.

Talk to conservatives about the financial crisis and you enter an alternative, bizarro universe in which government bureaucrats, not greedy bankers, caused the meltdown. It’s a universe in which government-sponsored lending agencies triggered the crisis, even though private lenders actually made the vast majority of subprime loans. It’s a universe in which regulators coerced bankers into making loans to unqualified borrowers, even though only one of the top 25 subprime lenders was subject to the regulations in question.

Oh, and conservatives simply ignore the catastrophe in commercial real estate: in their universe the only bad loans were those made to poor people and members of minority groups, because bad loans to developers of shopping malls and office towers don’t fit the narrative.
As John Cole points out, this is basically the description of John Galt's utopian paradise in Atlas Shrugged, "Galt's Gulch."
It is a magical place where global warming solves itself, the only thing health care reform needs is more deregulation, if the government would just get out of the way, Wall Street would self correct, and you get to eat Freedom Fries with every meal and never gain weight.
 Republicans aren't serious about anything, other than duping people into believing that only denial and ignorance can save them. It's applied elitism on a global scale.  "I got mine, screw you" is the new motto of the GOP.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

81% of Dems want to see Lieberman lose his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security committee should Lieberman follow through on his threat.  Really.  That would seem bad for Joe on the surface.

Well, 86% of Dems want the public option, and we see what's happened there.

I wouldn't hold your breath for either happening.  As such, here's a third and final poll: 33% of Dems and 21% of independents are less likely to vote at all in 2010 if there's no public option.

I wasn't worried about 2010 before for the Dems.  I am now.

Hoffman Effect, Cali Style

The Republican Party no longer accepts moderates in any way shape or form.  Total and complete political obliteration awaits any who step out of line...just ask Dede Scozzafava, or California state legislator Anthony Adams.
When he cast an aye vote for Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2009-2010 state budget, which included about $12.5 billion in tax increases, Adams instantly became a pariah in conservative GOP circles -- targeted for political extinction.

Criticism and threats of doom came from unusual sources. His irate mother-in-law, a devout conservative named Bonnie Ebright, called him to say he was betraying his party and country. A hugely popular Los Angeles radio show, hosted by a pair of commentators beloved by the right, responded to news of his vote by demanding his swift ouster. Conservative Rep. Tom McClintock called for Adams's immediate removal from office via California's recall process.

Schwarzenegger rallied to the assemblyman's side at an Adams fundraiser, which merely threw gasoline on the conservatives' fire. The recall effort moved forward. Adams could not quite believe what was happening -- particularly that he had been spurned by the very people to whom, he said, he had devoted his career. He saw the turmoil as symptomatic of a drive coming from "Taliban purist elements" of his party, he said.

"It hurts, but there is a new push by the purists out there," he observed. "This recall [effort] isn't helping Republicans, if you ask me. And we as a party already have problems enough in this state without this."
Oh, but it gets worse.
 What happened next was the political equivalent of an unchecked California wildfire. Adams received anonymous death threats, prompting the state Highway Patrol to provide him and his wife with around-the-clock protection for three days. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher joined fellow California conservative McClintock in announcing support for the recall effort, which soon included signature gatherers lining up at supermarkets and malls.
Death threats.  Political extinction.  Being told by his mother-in-law that he failed "party and country".  The Democrats may have a Joe Lieberman problem, but the GOP has a mass hysteria problem.  How long, I wonder, before one of their own gets hurt for voting for a tax increase?

These people are not fit to run around the block, much less a state or a country.

Going Forward

Sam Stein goes over the Obamacare options from here:
The first is to convince the senator to support Democrats in breaking a Republican filibuster before casting a vote against the bill. This would allow for the legislation to pass with Lieberman still registering his opposition. Lieberman, however, has said he considers the procedural vote to cut off debate to be of the same significance as a vote on the bill itself.

The second path is to try and pick up a Republican moderate. But this too seems unlikely, as Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Reid's best bet, has also expressed opposition to the Medicare buy-in provision.

The third path would be to appease Lieberman and wipe the provisions that he deems controversial from the bill. This, however, would likely lose Reid several progressive votes -- advancing the cause no further.

The final path would be to try reconciliation, the parliamentary procedure that would allow Democrats to pass chunks of health care reform by a simple up or down vote. There are a host of hurdles that come with going down this route, including questions over what, exactly, could be passed. And both the White House and Reid's office seem hesitant to use the procedural tool, even after Lieberman's latest round of opposition.
"It is not on the table at this point," the source said. "We are still trying to go through regular order."
Options one and two are not happening, and anyone who thinks they are, allow me to sell you some oceanfront property in Montana (previously owned by Max Baucus.) We're long past this nonsense now.

That takes us to option three, stripping out the public option to appease Lieberman.  The bill will then be blocked by Roland Burris and Bernie Sanders at the minimum on the left, and probably Russ Feingold as well.  No dice there.

That leaves by default option four, reconciliation, which is "off the table" at this point.

That leaves....nothing.  I'm not seeing the way out of this mess.  Yes, this leaves us right back where we were six months ago:  no public option other than reconciliation, which the Republicans will try to sunset in five years.

As I said earlier today, now's the time for Obama to step in and break some heads.  He does understand that his Presidency is at stake here, yes?  It's up to him at this point.  What will Obama do?  What can he do?  I'm not sure at this point there's anything he can do.  But one thing's clear:  Joe F'ckin Lieberman sure as hell doesn't think there's anything Obama can or will do at this point.

And doing nothing at this point will cost the Dems dearly in 2010.

Copenhagen Calamity

News this morning from the Copenhagen climate talks is that a large group of African nations has simply walked out of the talks, leaving them in limbo at this hour.
The Australian news site, reports more on the walkout:
The G77, a group which represents 130 developing countries, walked out because it is concerned the existing Kyoto protocol will be abandoned.
Australia's Climate Change Minister Penny Wong confirmed that organisers were trying to fix the problem and coax back the developing world.
Many countries at the UN climate summit want a brand new treaty to tackle climate change, but the developing world wants the Kyoto protocol to continue as well.
The bottom line is the world's developing nations are demanding that Kyoto continues as a minimum, and the US and China are going to cut a deal at Copenhagen that represents a reduction for those two countries, but a backslide from Kyoto compared to the rest of the world.

We'll see how this turns out, but this is pretty bad news.

Making The Rounds

Reaction this morning to news that Joe F'ckin Lieberman has torpedoed Obamacare has been greeted with anger, depression (and undisguised glee from the Wingers), but not a single person is surprised.  Clearly, that's the lesson here.  What motivated Joe?  A combination of revenge against liberals for being primaried out of the party in 2006, and Obama and Harry Reid enabling Lieberman to screw the party over at will.

Chris Bowers, Open Left:
Nothing Lieberman is doing would be possible without the ongoing support of the majority of the Democratic caucus.  If Democratic Senators wanted to punish Lieberman for his consistent transgressions against the party, they could.   If Democrats wanted to use reconciliation, and just circumvent him altogether, they could do that to.  But they are not going to do either.
Digby, Hullabaloo:
When Reid said "Joe Lieberman is the least of my problems" he was waving a red flag in his face. It's all about him. And he will not be ignored. And he will not vote for anything that liberals want, period. I don't know why they thought it would be any different. He's a sanctimonious, petty, vindictive egomaniac. But then, he always has been.
Ezra Klein, WaPo:
To put this in context, Lieberman was invited to participate in the process that led to the Medicare buy-in. His opposition would have killed it before liberals invested in the idea. Instead, he skipped the meetings and is forcing liberals to give up yet another compromise. Each time he does that, he increases the chances of the bill's failure that much more. And if there's a policy rationale here, it's not apparent to me, or to others who've interviewed him. At this point, Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals. That is to say, he seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score. 
Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight:
Indeed, I think you can make a plausible case with Lieberman -- not so much Nelson -- that his objective really is to make liberals suffer, especially the (online) progressives who supported the Ned Lamont campaign. The br'er rabbit compromise didn't really accomplish that objective -- it didn't force liberals to suffer much, if at all.
Josh Marshall, TPM:
What's most telling about Lieberman isn't his positions, which are not that much different from Sen. Nelson's and perhaps Sen. Lincoln's. It's more that he seems to keep upping the ante just when the rest of the caucus thinks they've got a deal.
It's painfully clear that Lieberman has now fully exacted his revenge, having basically scuttled the compromise and declaring that no bill will pass -- indeed, no bill will even get a vote -- with anything resembling a public option, period.  He felt like the Dems screwed him with Ned Lamont.  Now he's screwed the Dems, Obama, the Senate, and most importantly the liberals who tried to get rid of him in one stroke.

And he will not suffer a single consequence for it.  What's Obama going to do to the guy who has singlehandedly destroyed his entire domestic agenda and all but assured the failure of Obamacare?  Nothing, of course.

And we lose again.  Millions of Americans will continue to lose their insurance and die when they become ill, bankrupt their families, or both.  All to serve one man's bruised ego.

Your move, 11-dimensional chess grandmaster Obama.  Your move.


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