Saturday, February 13, 2010

Last Call

Hell of a finish in the Men's 1500m Speed Skating event.  Won't blow it for you west coasters, but watch it.  Trust me. Apolo Anton Ohno is an all-star.

Heather McPhie and Hannah Kearney go for the gold here in Women's Freestyle Skiing Moguls, but the big story is Jennifer Heil looking to win Canada's first Olympic home soil winter gold.

Gonna be a good one.

Do It Right

Shorter TPM reader:

There are things the Republicans are doing that Democrats do need to emulate from the perspective of playing the political game.  Emulate them and them beat them at that game.

My point is this: Democrats can talk until they are blue in the face about how "unprecedented" this wave of Republican filibusters in historical terms, and most Americans won't have any idea what they are talking about. If Democrats demanded an "up or down vote" on individual issues because "elections have consequences", however, Dems would be appealing to Americans' basic sense of fairness while breaking through the beltway spin about needing a "super majority" to pass bills in the Senate. (After all, the notion that Democrats need a "super majority" fundamentally confuses what actually happens with a filibuster, during which a small number of senators prevents the full senate from even voting on a bill that would otherwise pass.)
When the concept of a filibuster is properly framed as a procedural roadblock employed by a small number of malcontent senators to prevent their colleagues - who won the last election - from voting, the public strongly disapproves. Why? Because even partisans agree that our democratic system should not permit a minority from grinding the government to a halt.
If I had to guess, senate Democrats (whose cowardice knows no bounds) are afraid to adopt the "up or down vote" attack is because they worry they will be called hypocrites when they are back in the minority and try to filibuster something. But the answer to this is simple: just look at the Republicans. Last I checked, the Republican senators who demanded an "up or down vote" on Roberts and Alito seem to be avoiding the "hypocrisy" label. Moreover, no matter how much Obama struggles, it's hard to imagine the Republicans fielding a decent presidential candidate in 2012. In other words, even if the Democrats do find themselves in the minority some time in the next six years, the need to filibuster will be greatly reduced as long as a Democrat holds the White House, where the more socially accepted form of obstructionism - the veto pen - will protect cowardly Dems from having to filibuster most Republican bills. 
Amen. It worked for them because it was simple.  It was a sound bite.  There's worthiness to that in the political world.  It's a valid tool in the toolbox, so use it, Dems.

It's All Fun And Olympic Games Until Somebody Gets Hurt

Anti-Olympic protests in Vancouver turned violent today and are still going on in downtown.
Police officers donning riot gear have constructed a barrier on Jarvis Street in downtown Vancouver in an attempt to quell an anti-Olympic protest that erupted into violence on Saturday morning.

Authorities say more than 200 protesters, many of them dressed in black and wearing masks, took to the streets at Granville and Georgia Streets before 10 a.m. and began causing damage to private property.

Cars were spray painted and street corner newspaper boxes were tossed into the windows of the Hudson's Bay and TD Bank buildings.

Simon Fraser University student Nekita Garcias said she and a friend watched as the protest turn ugly.

"We were right there when the violence started," Garcias said. "There were a lot of parents with kids around, they rushed them away."

The crowd was larger before the violence started, Garcias said, but many participants broke away once the property damage began.

"Some people just walked away once it got violent, they didn't want any part of it." 
I'd say this sort of thing didn't happen in America, but then again Atlanta 96 wasn't exactly peaceful now, was it?  Still, there are a lot of calls in Vancouver to bring attention to the economic, homelessness, and ethnic issues in British Columbia especially with First Nations citizens.  The money should have been spent on improving those issues, not hosting an Olympics.

Funny, we have the same problems here.

Only far worse.

Take That, Science!

Utah tells science to suck the big one.
Carbon dioxide is "essentially harmless" to human beings and good for plants. So now will you stop worrying about global warming?

Utah's House of Representatives apparently has at least. Officially the most Republican state in America, its political masters have adopted a resolution condemning "climate alarmists", and disputing any scientific basis for global warming.

The measure, which passed by 56-17, has no legal force, though it was predictably claimed by climate change sceptics as a great victory in the wake of the controversy caused by a mistake over Himalayan glaciers in the UN's landmark report on global warming.

But it does offer a view of state politicians' concerns in Utah which is a major oil and coal producing state.
The original version of the bill dismissed climate science as a "well organised and ongoing effort to manipulate and incorporate "tricks" related to global temperature data in order to produce a global warming outcome". It accused those seeking action on climate change of riding a "gravy train" and their efforts would "ultimately lock billions of human beings into long-term poverty".

In the heat of the debate, the representative Mike Noel said environmentalists were part of a vast conspiracy to destroy the American way of life and control world population through forced sterilisation and abortion.
By the time the final version of the bill came to a vote, cooler heats apparently prevailed. The bill dropped the word "conspiracy", and described climate science as "questionable" rather than "flawed".
So you see, it was a moderate bill only saying that climate science was completely wrong and that carbon dioxide is awesome, instead of saying climate science is a massive international conspiracy by vegan eco-terrorists to impoverish the planet and to destroy America.

Utah Republicans are totally reasonable thinking guys.

He Can Be Taught, Ladies And Gents

Senate majority leader Harry Reid is an old dog who actually is capable of learning new tricks.
A key Democratic senator on Friday said that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) scrapped the bipartisan jobs bill presented Thursday because he thought Republicans would not support it.

Senate Finance Committee member Tom Carper (D-Del.), whose panel crafted the original bill, said that Reid questioned the GOP's willingess to support the $80 billion package in a closed meeting even though it was supported by the panel's ranking Republican Chuck Grassley (Iowa).

"Senator Reid met with Max Baucus, he met with Senator Chuck Grassley, he met with Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, our leader came out of the meeting he just didn't feel encouraged that Republican colleagues would, in the end, play fair and square," Carper said on Fox Business Network.

Reid announced Thursday that he would pare down the jobs bills crafted by Grassley and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) 

After the Republicans have spent years blocking Democratic legislation?  After they have repeatedly negotiated in bad faith with the intent only to destroy the country and blame you?  After they have reneged on basically every deal you have tried to reach?  After they have repeatedly said they only way forward is to acquiescence to every one of their demands of find legislation blocked permanently?

Gee, I'm glad it only took you three years to figure this out, Harry.  You're pretty goddamn sharp for an old guy.

Draining The Energy From The Green Debate

NY Times columnist Bob Herbert takes America to task for losing the green energy race to the Chinese.
That we are allowing this to happen is beyond stupid. China is a poor country with nothing comparable to the tremendous research, industrial and economic resources that the U.S. has been blessed with. Yet they’re blowing us away — at least for the moment — in the race to the future.

Our esteemed leaders in Washington can’t figure out how to do anything more difficult than line up for a group photo. Put Americans back to work? You must be kidding. Health care? We’ve been working on it for three-quarters of a century. Infrastructure? Don’t ask.

But, as Mr. Bradsher tells us, “China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world’s largest maker of wind turbines and is poised to expand even further this year.”

China also has become the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels and is pushing hard on other clean energy advances. As Mr. Bradsher wrote: “These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.”

We’re in the throes of an awful and seemingly endless employment crisis, and China is the country moving full speed ahead on the development of the world’s most important new industries. I’d like one of the Washington suits to step away from the photo-op and explain the logic of that to me.

The truth, of course, is that there is no reason at all for this to be happening. The United States, in many ways, is very well prepared to move ahead on clean energy. It could and should be the world’s leader. Many, if not most, of the innovations in this area were developed right here. But much of that know-how, as we are seeing in China (and have been seeing in Germany and other places), is being implemented overseas.
Ahh, but Herbert is wrong.  Dead wrong.  Oh, he's not wrong about the race for renewable energy and the Chinese killing us in this respect, he's wrong when he says there's "no reason at all for this to be happening."  That's simply frightening naivete' on Herbert's part.  He knows damn why why this is happening, because America's energy giants, the largest and most powerful corporations on Earth, the ExxonMobils and the ChevronTexacos of the world, will never allow America to do this.

There's far more profit to be made in controlling a dwindling supply of fossil fuels and the resource wars that exerting that control results in than investing those trillions in creating solar plant and wind turbine factories.  The energy giants want to dominate renewable technology too, but not until it become more profitable than holding the world hostage for hydrocarbons.

You would think that the Teabaggers would hate giving jobs to Red China.  China is employing millions building high-speed rail and renewable energy resources.  Those are jobs we could use here.  But that would be freedom-destroying Communism, which is cause for an armed revolution to overthrow the horrible fascist Obama.  Infrastructure is Socialism, you see.  Jobs that might affect the bottom lines of our corporate masters cannot be allowed.

So the Village continues to tell the Teabaggers that only free-market businesses can create jobs, and they will only create jobs if they aren't taxed, causing services to be cut through lost revenue and the people to hate the government for not fixing everything.

And we continue to destroy ourselves in the name of our precious corporate citizens who rule us.

Murder By Numbers

Yesterday's triple murder at the University of Alabama - Huntsville was frightening.  Suspect Dr. Amy Bishop most likely committed just that: a pre-meditated murder spree where finding out she was to be denied academic tenure, she allegedly shot and killed three members of the biology department.

It's a workplace shooting.  We have those in the United States because people have ready access to weapons to be used in illegal manner and we as a country refuse to crack down on those who would use them illegally instead of responsibly.  Guns are designed to kill things.  They are not difficult to use or difficult to obtain to kill things with.  That's a problem.  They are a hell of an equalizer.  More responsible gun owners should realize this.  The Second Amendment does not mean you can kill people.

But that's not the frightening part. 

The Winger reaction to this story is.  Vox Day:
Since we've been informed so many times that scientists are trained to be rational and objective, and that science is what scientists do, it is clear that Prof. Bishop's actions should be considered an experiment in natural selection rather than a crime. For as we know from the regrettable slanders stemming from Hackergate, no scientist would ever do something terrible like invent data, much less shoot anyone, in the tawdry, unscientific pursuit of filthy lucre.
Got that?  Science is the root of all evil.  Scientists are horrible killers.  Scientists cannot be trusted.  Science cannot be trusted.

Join the ignorance culture.  Knowledge and science is dangerous.  It's particularly dangerous to the Winger viewpoint.

[UPDATE 6:45 PM] The Boston Globe is reporting that Dr. Bishop was involved in the accidental fatal shooting of her brother nearly 25 years ago.  The DA in that case was William Delahunt...who is now a current Democratic Congressman.

The Wingers are now having a field day going after Delahunt.  The Village will follow suit.

Dear America:

"If Obama had just kept his campaign promise to put Congress on C-SPAN so that we could shout 'AHAAAAAAAA!' at our TV screens like the Junior Matlocks we are, why the Teabaggers would totally stop demonizing him as the Kenyan Negro Socialist Witch Doctor Usurper Antichrist.  I don't understand why nobody believes me on this, because these good men and women only want to see transparency of the government they want to destroy completely and replace with post-apocalyptic armed militia tribunal councils that run their Galtian utopia city-states.  Is that really too much to ask, Libtards?"

--Glenn Reynolds, WSJ

Bonus Verbatim Stupid: "A year ago, many told me, they were depressed about the future of America. Watching television pundits talk about President Obama's transformative plans for big government, they felt alone, isolated and helpless."

Also, Eric Boehlert microwaves Instatwit by pointing out that Reynolds call for transparency neatly covers up the rampant Birtherism, racism, and anti-government rhetoric that was actually at the convention.

McClatchy Gets The GOP Plan

Somebody in the Village is actually paying attention to the GOP Plan to shut down the government and blame the Democrats, and for once it's not just Stewart and Colbert.  McClatchy's David Lightman:
Senate Republicans are using the filibuster to limit and often derail Democrats' initiatives, paralyzing the Senate and making it nearly impossible to accomplish even the most routine matters.

The filibuster strategy "makes the Senate dysfunctional," said Mark Strand, the president of the Congressional Institute, a nonpartisan research group. That, in turn, blocks the Obama administration's agenda, but it also sours public opinion on Washington, with polls showing clear public disdain for Congress in particular. Republicans think voters will reward them for that in November.

However disruptive it is to governance, their extensive use of the filibuster — extended debate to block a decisive vote — could prove to be a valuable campaign asset this fall. Democrats used similar tactics in 2006 and won enough seats to gain a Senate majority. Now Republicans hope it's their turn.

Since Barack Obama became president nearly 13 months ago, Republicans have made it clear that 60 votes — the number needed to cut off debate in the 100-member Senate — are required to pass not only major Democratic programs, but also many routine proposals. (Democrats controlled 60 Senate seats from July until last week, when Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., was sworn in.)

"Republicans have ratcheted use of the filibuster up to completely unheard of levels. Look at the things that the House (of Representatives) has passed that can't make it through the Senate. The list just keeps growing," said Norman Ornstein, an expert on Congress at the American Enterprise Institute, a center-right policy organization.
The GOP Plan is working because the American people don't know how a filibuster works.  They don't know how a filibuster works because the Village refuses to tell them that Republicans are blocking the bill.  This allows the GOP to stop the Democrats from being able to pass legislation while at the same time complaining that the Democrats can't get anything done, even though they are in charge.

Some Village outlets will mention that the "measure needs 60 votes to pass", but not why.  For once, we finally see a news organization not only telling us why (the Republicans can and still block everything in an unprecedented move to do so) but the full reasons behind it: that the GOP believes by neutering the Democrats' ability to govern and preventing them from being able to repair the damage that the Republicans did to our country, they can get power back.

The GOP Plan always had the component of a compliant press that would explain things from the GOP angle and allow them to continue to block legislation through ignorance and apathy.  Finally somebody's making a dent in that.

It will not be enough however unless the Democrats attack on this at every turn.


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