Saturday, June 12, 2010

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Does anyone believe the Republicans won't open up a full assault of the Democrats over this in November, despite the fact that nearly all the Republicans will vote against it too?

After passing health care legislation to make health care more affordable, deficit hawk Democrats have let COBRA subsidies lapse for millions of Americans, who will lose their health insurance as a result.
Some conservative Democrats, however, say they don't understand why the government should subsidize workers who lose jobs with employer coverage and not others who are equally deserving — for example self-employed people priced out of the private market.

"You're paying 65 percent of (one) family's health care costs, but the neighbor next door, there's no help for," said Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif. "So we're picking and choosing. There's an inequality there between our constituents." Not to mention that Congress has treated the program as emergency spending, adding its cost to the deficit.

In Marietta, Ohio, boiler operator Neil Davis is facing the loss of his job as the coal-burning power plant he works at prepares to shut down for good. Davis, 33, has marketable skills but he's unsure how quickly he'll be able to find comparable work. His wife is a stay-at-home mom raising two elementary-age children.

"Being able to have coverage at an affordable rate, we wouldn't be afraid to take the kids to the doctor if they get sick," said Davis. "The economy might be getting better some place, but I don't know where at."
Those folks aren't exactly going to be inclined to think the Dems are any better than the Republicans come November. They're going to not vote at all, or worse, vote for the Republicans just to make a point of firebagging the Dems.

I'm sure the Republicans have the best interests of the Democrats in Congress when they advise conservative Dems to vote against health insurance subsidies, too.  The problem is plenty of Democrats believe it...or are believing in it as a way to justify being deficit hawks when doing so now will knock the blocks out from what little recovery there is going on.

Oil's Well That Doesn't End Well For This Oil Well, Part 17

The Coast Guard has given BP until the end of the weekend to come up with a plan to contain the rest of the spilling oil as Alabama beaches are now under assault by wave after wave of tarballs.
The Coast Guard initially sent a letter to BP on Wednesday asking for more details on its plans to contain the oil. BP responded, saying a new system to trap oil spewing from the well should be complete by mid-July.

That system's new design is meant to better withstand the force of hurricanes and could capture about 2 million gallons of oil daily when fully built, the oil giant said.

But Watson said he was concerned that BP's plans didn't maximize resources or "go far enough to mobilize redundant resources" in the event of an equipment failure or another problem.

"BP must identify in the next 48 hours additional leak containment capacity that could be operationalized and expedited to avoid the continued discharge of oil," Watson wrote.

BP spokesman Jon Pack said the company received Watson's letter and would respond to it as soon as possible.
Mid-July isn't going to be good enough.  But what can the Coast Guard actually do if BP doesn't go faster?  I'm thinking "not much of anything."  The reality is hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil are still escaping BP's cap, and unless another measure is put in place, the damage will spread to Florida next.

We're well past the point of simply threatening BP.

World Cupdate

In Group B action, South Korea put on a clinic for the Greeks as the Reds sink the Pirate Ship (hey, nicknames are universal, folks) winning 2-0, and and early goal by Gabriel Ivan Heinze gives the Gauchos the 1-0 win over Nigeria.

But the big news is after England went up in the 4th minute after Steven Gerard dashed past the keeper Howard, an even sloppier bit of keeping from England's Rob Green allowed Clint Dempsey to equalize at the 40th.  Neither team played very well in the second half, just banging it out.  Landon Donovan however does get serious credit for the USA as he was the bright spot in an otherwise middling contest.

Tim Howard kept the USA in this game.  In all seriousness it should have been 1-0 England, but the USA played well above their usual level and England below, especially keeper Green and James Milner, who played like a rookie and got yanked after 31.

Still, a point is a point, and both teams are lucky to be walking away with that much from the draw.

The Newest Winger Outrage

Orange Julius doubles down on the Republican "fiscal responsibility" record by saying Obama has shown a "stunning failure of leadership".

You know, unlike the last time we had Republicans in charge.
In this week's Republican internet and radio address, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, takes on President Obama and congressional Democrats over federal spending.

Among other things, Boehner notes that the Democratically-led Congress is yet to produce a budget more than two months after the historical deadline for doing so.

“This is a stunning failure of leadership – the kind of leadership President Obama promised to provide," Boehner says in the address.
I like how the Republicans have abdicated any responsibility for America right now.  On one hand they vow that things like the filibuster are necessary for the Republicans to "protect Democracy" and on the other hand they use it so often that nothing gets accomplished in Washington and then they complain that it's the Democrats' fault.  Verbatim stupid from Orange Julius:
"“Real economic growth requires creating jobs in the private sector, and to do that we need to start reining in Washington’s out-of-control spending spree. Less spending, more jobs – it’s that simple."
If it was that simple, why haven't you magically done it yet?

Talking It Over

President Obama is set to have a discussion about BP with new British Prime Minister David Cameron today.  While a lot of focus has been on Obama's response to the massive oil geyser, this is Cameron's first big international test and so far he's been playing the protectionist card publicly.
With tensions simmering on both sides of the Atlantic, BP's handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is set to top the agenda of talks Saturday between US and British leaders.

The White House said that President Barack Obama is to call British Prime Minister David Cameron from the Oval Office.

The two men will likely seek to ease tensions after Obama stepped up his criticism of BP over the spill, the biggest man-made environmental disaster in the United States, and Cameron threw his support behind a "financially strong" BP.

Obama has summoned BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg to meet with him in Washington next Wednesday, criticized chief executive Tony Hayward, and fired a warning over shareholder payouts.

British newspapers in turn have demanded that Cameron stand up to Obama in the phone call.
I fail to see how this should really some sort of international pissing contest (unlike today's England/USA World Cup matchup later today.)  Cameron should of course defend his country's interests, but the bottom line here is that BP literally blew it and will have to pay for it whether Cameron likes it or not.  Rallying around BP here is as much a loser internationally as it is here in the states.

Secondly, how does Cameron "stand up" here?  Surely the corporate community in the UK doesn't want him to threaten trade sanctions or something lunatic like that, right?  Cameron's got enough problems on his plate with his whole crazy Neo-Hoover cutback scheme.  If anything he's going to have to tread lightly here, because BP is clearly in the wrong.

We'll see.

Birth Of A Nation

As I said yesterday, the demographics are grim for the Republicans.  America is growing less and less white and the GOP sees that as a direct threat to their power base.  The "cultural protectionist" card that they have been playing for the last couple of decades is now starting to backfire tremendously as antipathy towards African-Americans, Latinos, and gays (and hey let's not forget Republicans attacking their own either over race) are driving more and more minorities away from the GOP for good.

The Republicans see the key to this not changing their own ingrained bigotry, but by denying citizenship to children of illegal immigrants in violation of the 14th Amerndment (and hoping for the Roberts Court to approve of it.)  Once again, the laboratory of democracy bigotry is the state of Arizona.
Buoyed by recent public opinion polls suggesting they're on the right track with illegal immigration, Arizona Republicans will likely introduce legislation this fall that would deny birth certificates to children born in Arizona — and thus American citizens according to the U.S. Constitution — to parents who are not legal U.S. citizens. The law largely is the brainchild of state Sen. Russell Pearce, a Republican whose suburban district, Mesa, is considered the conservative bastion of the Phoenix political scene. He is a leading architect of the Arizona law that sparked outrage throughout the country: Senate Bill 1070, which allows law enforcement officers to ask about someone's immigration status during a traffic stop, detainment or arrest if reasonable suspicion exists — things like poor English skills, acting nervous or avoiding eye contact during a traffic stop.
If you have any doubts that Arizona is the vanguard of a coordinated, national effort by Republicans to rid the country of "undesirables" who will not vote GOP, I'm sure the actions of the Arizona GOP has put that to rest.  This should bury it for good:
The question is whether that would violate the U.S. Constitution. The 14th Amendment states that "all persons, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." It was intended to provide citizenship for freed slaves and served as a final answer to the Dred Scott case, cementing the federal government's control over citizenship.
But that was 1868. Today, Pearce says the 14th Amendment has been "hijacked" by illegal immigrants. "They use it as a wedge," Pearce says. "This is an orchestrated effort by them to come here and have children to gain access to the great welfare state we've created." Pearce says he is aware of the constitutional issues involved with the bill and vows to introduce it nevertheless. "We will write it right." He and other Republicans in the red state Arizona point to popular sympathy: 58% of Americans polled by Rasmussen think illegal immigrants whose children are born here should not receive citizenship; support for that stance is 76% among Republicans
Republicans complained bitterly about Obama's creeping fascism and the dangers of his coming police state tha would bend America to his will, screaming about dark fantasies involving concentration camps and the coming armed rebellion...and these are the same people who see no problem subverting the Constitution to get rid of Latinos whose children may grow up one day to really, really not like the Republican Party.

The larger question is that all this will be going before the Roberts Court for certainty.  The fact that would almost certainly be four of the five votes in favor of making Arizona's discriminatory laws the new national standard on day one is exactly what the Republicans are counting on here.  For all their complaining of activist judges, Republicans are looking to recreate Jim Crow laws for the 21st century, and are expecting the Supreme Court to find a way to make it legal.

If your citizenship under the Constitution can be denied you under the laws of states, then America is in deep, deep trouble.  And you can bet Republicans are eager to define who qualifies as a "real American".

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