Monday, March 9, 2015

Last Call For Some Good News In Maryland

Last week I bemoaned the fact that former DCCC chair and Blue Dog one-man disaster area Chris Van Hollen was running for the Senate seat of retiring Democrat Barbara Mikulski (and Tweety's wife was running for Van Hollen's House seat.)  This week we find out that Van Hollen isn't the only Democrat to get into the race, and thank God for that.

U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) plans to announce on Tuesday that she will run for the Senate seat being vacated by Barbara A. Mikulski (D), according to two Democrats familiar with her plans, setting up a potentially bruising primary fight with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). 
Van Hollen — who had been considered a possible successor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — declared his intention to run for Senate last week and has already secured the endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). 
Edwards, 56, has drawn early support from national progressive organizations, who helped her oust incumbent Albert Wynn in the 2008 Democratic primary and last week announced a movement to get her to run for Senate. But it remains to be seen whether efforts by groups such as Emily’s List and the Feminist Majority will be enough to offset an early funding advantage held by Van Hollen, a proven fundraiser who has $1.7 million in his campaign account. 
Edwards’s decision to run was confirmed by two Maryland Democrats with whom she has spoken about her plans. They asked for anonymity in order to speak candidly about what she had told them. Edwards spokesman Benjamin Gerdes said Edwards “is seriously considering a run for the United States Senate and will make a decision in the coming days.”

Edwards is infinitely preferable to Van Hollen in the Senate just based on her voting record.  She's a strong liberal candidate who will continue Mikulski's work and improve on it.  Van Hollen is a corporate New Democrat who would be a terrible Senator and about as reliable a blue vote as the current Heitkamp/Manchin/Donnelly Blue Dog wing of the Senate.

So yes, this is a perfect opportunity to get a better Dem in the seat.  I'd love to see Van Hollen sent home with Kathleen Mathews in his House seat and with Van Hollen out of Congress period, but I'm thinking that won't happen, and there's the issue of who would replace Edwards in the House.

We'll see how it all shakes out.

The Miseducation Of Juan Williams

Former FOX News contributor Juan Williams is shocked -- shocked, I tell you! -- to discover that Republicans are trying to completely destroy the nation's public education system.

The House had planned a vote on the “Student Success Act” on the last Friday in February.

After years of difficult debate, Republicans seemed to be on their way to passing a bill that at least provided a basis for future negotiations with the Senate.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) enthused that it was a “good conservative bill that empowers America and does not empower the bureaucracy here in Washington.”

But with the largest GOP majority in memory, the Speaker still could not get the votes to pass the bill and Republicans cancelled the vote. The Associated Press described it as a “political embarrassment for Republicans.” 
It was a national embarrassment. 
Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, managed to say only that he hoped to “finish this important work soon.”

But House Republican leaders have not scheduled another vote.

What was the "Student Success Act" anyway?  You'd be forgiven for not hearing anything about it.  It got zero coverage in the wake of the failures of No Child Left Behind and the dismantling of Race To The Top and the war over Common Core standards.  It was the latest batch of snake oil from the GOP on education, and it effectively dismantled the Department of Education.

That means years of work on school reform have gone up in smoke. Why? The answer is a purely ideological grandstand play in which Republicans demanded the bill completely eliminate the federal hand in dealing with failing schools.

That was never going to happen. The bill already included more discretion for local and state government when it came to dealing with failing schools. The idea of eliminating the federal role while federal dollars continue flowing is absurd.

Too many states have a history of ignoring disadvantaged or disabled students for the federal government to relinquish all control. Total removal of federal oversight is, at best, a talking point for outside groups, including Heritage Action and Club for Growth. 
But GOP hardliners abandoned the entire bill over this issue. They walked away from a decade of impassioned debate over fear of too much testing for students and too much pressure on teachers. There was too much political barking and too little focus on young Americans trapped in bad schools. 
To make the death of efforts to help school children even more certain, the House Republicans weighed down the already-controversial bill with requirements that no federal dollars go to any school district with a health program that offers information on abortion
That action betrayed the true priorities of several Republicans — to engage in political showboating while injecting a poisonous issue sure to kill the bill.

The GOP bill would have effectively allowed states to take federal education money with zero oversight, but no money would have gone to any school that taught sex education.  It's ridiculous, and the bill imploded under its own asinine contradictions.

But that of course was always the plan.  An uneducated population is much easier to control.

Killing The Climate Change Messenger

If there's any state that should be worried about rising oceans, it's Florida with its 1,350 miles of coastline.  Instead, Florida Republicans have apparently decided that if they simply prohibit people talking about climate change, then the problem will magically cease to exist.

The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years.

But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes. 
DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. 
The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department that has about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget. 
We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’ ” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.” 
Kristina Trotta, another former DEP employee who worked in Miami, said her supervisor told her not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in a 2014 staff meeting. 
We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” she said.

Can't have anyone thinking climate change is real.  Next thing you know they'll want states and the federal government to start trying to do something about it, and we can't have corporations pay for something that would affect people 50 or 100 years from now.  Why, that would affect profits.

And we can't have fascism like that in America, you know.

The fascism where people aren't allowed to mention climate change, well, that's different.


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