The Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee boycotted today’s hearing on Gina McCarthy, President Obama‘s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lacking the votes to defeat approval of McCarthy’s nomination, they decided to deprive the committee of a quorum. Apparently Republicans are worried that the EPA might enforce the Clean Air Act, thus helping to reduce the effects of climate change.
Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was not happy.
“Their opposition, even to allowing us to vote, shows how outside the mainstream they are, it shows how obstructionist they are,” the senator continued. “It shows how their pledge to do better with women voters is false. How could you have a more qualified woman than Gina McCarthy? This is outrageous.”
“They’re fringe, they’re out of the mainstream,” she reiterated — and trying to impose their “pro-pollution stance” on the Obama administration. Boxer further noted that they’d be examining their parliamentary options, which would include potentially changing committee rules.
To the opposition, Boxer offered some advice: Take a page out of the mainstream Republicans’ playbook and “get out of the fringe lane.”
McCarthy has already answered over 1,000 written questions from GOP committee members, more than any other Obama nominee.
This is how the tail wags the dog in the U.S. Senate. Nice work, GOP
UPDATE: An instrument near the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawaii has recorded a long-awaited climate milestone: the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere there has exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 55 years of measurement—and probably more than 3 million years of Earth history.
350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments consider to be the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.
Via Jon Walker on FDL (emphasis added):
A new study in Health Affairs appears to disprove the commonly cited myth that public insurance programs “cost-shift” onto private insurance.
…In reality, the study found lower Medicare payment rates actually reduce what private insurance companies pay.
…This study reinforces that the real issue at play is market power, not cost shifting. Compared to other countries with single-payer or all-payer systems, providers in the United States have more power to demand higher prices.
Something to think about before attempting to voucher-ize Medicare.
Map of former USA from NBC’s “Revolution”
The most recent national survey of registered voters from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind finds that attitudes regarding the perceived likelihood of an armed revolution to protect liberties are influencing the debate over gun safety legislation.
Supporters and opponents of gun control have very different fundamental beliefs about the role of guns in American society. Overall, the poll finds that 29 percent of Americans think that an armed revolution in order to protect liberties might be necessary in the next few years, with another five percent unsure. However, these beliefs are conditional on party. Just 18 percent of Democrats think an armed revolution may be necessary, as opposed to 44 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of independents.
Only 38 percent of Americans who believe a revolution might be necessary support additional gun control legislation, compared with 62 percent of those who don’t think an armed revolt will be needed. “The differences in views of gun legislation are really a function of differences in what people believe guns are for,” said Cassino. “If you truly believe an armed revolution is possible in the near future, you need weapons and you’re going to be wary about government efforts to take them away.”
This is one poll that I hope is wrong. Almost a third of Americans believe a bloody revolution is coming soon to our country? Nearly half of Republicans believe it?
It happened on May 1st, 2013.
Did you get “law day” off with pay? I’m thinking no, but I’m also thinking we’re not a nation of laws anymore.
From Ralph Nader
Unless we fight back against the 1 or 2 percent: We suck!
Update: Oops; I misread the first of Nader’s article and thought Eisenhower had established “Law Day”. He established the ABA which created the holiday. I had to get rid of most of my original post. I’m glad nobody has commented yet. Is there an embarrassment emoticon?
On Wednesday night, CNN’s Erin Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between Katherine Russell, the 24-year-old American widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and her husband. He quite clearly insisted that they could:
BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It’s not a voice mail. It’s just a conversation. There’s no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: “No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.
BURNETT: “So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”
On Thursday night, Clemente again appeared on CNN, this time with host Carol Costello, and she asked him about those remarks. He reiterated what he said the night before but added expressly that “all digital communications in the past” are recorded and stored. “No digital communication is secure,” said Clemente.
Despite the extreme secrecy behind which these surveillance programs operate, occasionally somebody in a position to know tells us the U.S. Constitution is being violated on an unprecedented scale. So what can we do about it?
Many adults don’t understand that guns are not toys. They are deadly weapons. Until this week, I was blissfully unaware that the Gun Lobby is peddling .22 caliber rifles for kids as young as 4 and 5. These weapons were prominently featured at the NRA annual convention just after another accidental shooting tragedy.
On Tuesday, a five-year-old Kentucky boy accidentally shot and killed his two-year-old sister with a gun he’d been given as a birthday present. The weapon, a small rifle, was manufactured specifically for children’s use.
In one week alone last month, four people were shot by toddlers.
There’s a major discussion happening right now about sexual assault on college campuses (i.e. it’s made the NY Times; some other posts and articles here, here, here and here). The basic shape of the conversation can be described fairly simply:
Rape and sexual assault are already underreported crimes. Students on college campuses are victims of rape and sexual assault on a regular basis; college campuses nationwide engage in efforts to minimize reporting of sexual assault on campus and take minimal actions against perpetrators. New regulations are shining a light on the situation.
The consensus seems to be that colleges aren’t doing enough to protect students from sexual assault and aren’t doing enough with regard to punishing perpetrators; it seems to me the worst a college can do is expel a perpetrator and even then they run risks they may prefer to avoid. As I think about this issue, it seems that colleges are trying to thread the needle with regard to legal liability – in the absence of specific knowledge about specific threats to a student from/by another student, they can’t take any action; they can’t expel a student because he might rape someone. Without evidence, they can’t punish a student. In many cases, victims can’t identify the perpetrators. Read the rest of this entry »
A middle school in Red Hook, NY, conducted an anti-bullying workshop, working on questions of gender, gender identity and sexual orientation. The workshop was co-led by students from Bard College who are peer counselors at Bard.
So far, so non controversial.
What happened is that a student went home and complained to her mother – the story is now that the school forced girls to engage in lesbian kissing. A massive controversial discussion ensues on Facebook. Right wing media picks up the story that the school forced female students to kiss one another, that male students were taught how to identify which girls were sluts and were told to carry condoms at all times. Hysteria – not hysteria as in laughter but more in the nature of a moral panic – ensues.
Of course, none of those things actually happened and most parents are happy with the outcomes as well as the actual workshop. A few conservative parents are upset and the story with all its wrong details is being distributed around the right wing echo chamber.
The right wing picked up the mother’s complaint and ran with it – it appeared on Fox News. The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage has picked it up and used it in fundraising appeals. The false stories have made the rounds on the right (including a sensationalized account on WorldNetDaily). Expect to hear/read comments from conservatives about “that school in New York that forced girls to engage in “lesbian kisses” on comment boards and in discussion. What’s going on here is the right wing noise machine in full bore, blowing an entirely non-controversial incident out of proportion, creating a scandal where there is no scandal, feeding it into the right wing culture war community where it will become accepted as fact, and repeated ad nauseum.
The story in right wing media is not credible. Think about the details – does anyone seriuosly believe that an anti-bullying workshop would involve middle schools girls kissing each other? That an anti-bullying workshop would teach boys how to determine which of their classmates are sluts? It doesn’t pass the straight face test. Conservatives seem to have accepted accounts of the workshop without question at face value.
The dynamic at work here is deeper than simple gullibility or extremely credulity. Conservatives accepted the story on face value because it confirmed their existing biases about the general gone to hellness of the world. To put it another way, it’s not that the people believing this story are unusually gullible or credulous, it’s that they embrace a view of the world that tells them that school teachers and diversity programs and anti-bullying training are forms of indoctrination; these conservative parents expect to be outraged by what they hear about public schools, so they are primed to see scandal and depravity where none exists. The outraged conservatives hearing and sharing the story, expect public schools to try to indoctrinate their children in homosexuality, they’ve been told for years now that anti-bullying and diversity initiatives in public schools are nothing more than codewords for indoctrination. It’s a tiny step from believing that to believing students are being forced to kiss each other. Even if it didn’t happen in this case, conservatives will tell themselves it’s surely happening someplace else because that’s the sort of depraved thing that liberals will do if they think they can get away with it. To take one example, look at this comment from the WingNutDaily article:
If the liberals have it their way the law will destroy the meaning of family and the authority of parents completely. Remember what certain people were promoting on MSNBC? Your kids are not going to be your kids anymore so the government can brainwash them all they want and there won’t be a thing that you or anyone can do about it. Yeah, this is the culture that the lunatic liberals are creating. In certain European countries the kids are basically property of the state and not children of the parents. The kids in those countries are indoctrinated into anything and everything so long as it has nothing to do with God. This is powerful evidence of the type of utopian society and world that the lunatic liberals in the world are dreaming up and working towards making come true. The truth of the matter is that their dreams will, in fact, become nightmares. Their efforts will lead to catastrophe. No person should put up with the liberal lunatic agenda. It’s time for the anger of good citizens to be on full display and put the lunatic liberals in their place.
For this person it’s all part of a grand conspiracy. The breathless recounting of the event on right wing blogs and websites comes complete with denunciations of the evils of liberalism and public schools and gay people and fervid theorizing about the nefarious machinations of homosekshuls intent on destroying the family. The CBN (that is Christian Broadcasting Network) report ends with the warning that “school officials are planning more of these workshops!” The report – word for word – crops up on dozens of websites, propagated throughout a network of right wing blogs, bloggers, opinionators and semi-real news websites, to be forwarded, linked and discussed on other sites.
The story of the lesbian kisses is admittedly a minor one, but it’s a valuable case study in how the right wing works to spread misinformation throughout its network of activists, voters, bloggers and communities. Even if Fox were to retract the story today, it has spread far and wide, believed by who knows how many people. Like other right wing atrocity narratives, it will be reported again and again and no matter how many times its refuted, it will keep coming back. It will become the justification for right wing groups attempting to hold their own workshops at which people witness for Jesus and talk about becoming “ex-gay” and spread misinformation about gay people. When pushed on it, they’ll defend themselves with the story about the forced lesbian kisses in middle school.
With the opening of George W. Bush’s presidential library, the right wing and mainstream media have swung into action with the full scale George W. Bush Rehabilitation Project.
The goal of the project is relatively modest – convince the real world that Dubya wasn’t such a terrible president, that he made bold and enduring decisions that will shape the world for the better for generations to come.
It’s crap. Bush’s presidency was eight years of disasters compounded by his blind ideological governance. Charles Krauthammer this morning at the D-News which begins with a massive lie:
The most common “one sentence” for George W. Bush (whose legacy is being reassessed as his presidential library opens) is: “He kept us safe.”
Except of course for that one time. In September of 2001. You remember that one right?
Bush’s presidency was eight years of disaster, corruption, scandal and failure. I agree with Paul Waldman’s assessment:
Nobody could argue he didnothing good; for instance, he put resources toward addressing the AIDS crisis in Africa, knowing that there was little domestic benefit to be had. And from what one can tell, in person Bush was usually a nice guy. But we shouldn’t let the mists of time make us forget all the awful things he did, too. Presidents have to be judged by their actions and the effects those actions have on the country and the world. Bush’s eight years in office were a string of disasters, and not little ones either. His disasters were grand and far-reaching, from the hundreds of thousands who died in Iraq to the squandering of trillions of dollars to the abandonment of New Orleans during Katrina. A few years later those things may no longer make us boil with rage. But we shouldn’t forget them.
The argument was never he was a bad man (although that is debatable) – a rich entitled jerk, yes, intellectually incurious, self confident in his own judgement to the point idiocy, but he was also a bad president. An honest assessment of his administration has to include the fact that in its ruins were the seeds of the tea party and its attendant lunacies. The Obama administration has failed to clean up all of Bush’s messes, but don’t forget they were Bush’s messes.
Saw this great post at Mano Singham’s place – the video of Chris Hayes is worth the time. Singham’s title may win for most understated condemnation in a while: Thatcher and Bush were just as bad as you remembered them
I like Chris Hayes’ point that some of the “praise” for Bush amounts to “Yeah! He made decisions!” as if making decisions itself is a victory and the consequences are entirely secondary. Bush’s administration was every bit as bad as you thought.
What’s the problem with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, other than being a sociopath? He’s running ads advocating the Keystone XL pipeline and more drilling and oil spills in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.
Mark Zuckerberg’s new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, has spent considerable resources on ads advocating a host of anti-environmental causes — including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The umbrella group, co-founded by Facebook’s Zuckerberg, NationBuilder’s co-founder Joe Green, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, Dropbox’s Drew Houston, and others in the tech industry, is called FWD.US.
Mark Zuckerberg group launches TV blitz
In addition to being a total moron, Lindsey Graham is also a complete asshat.
Witness his latest pronouncement:
“Here’s what we’re suggesting, that the surviving suspect — due to the ties that these two have to radical Islamic thought and the ties to Chechnya, one of most radical countries in the world — that the president declare preliminarily that the evidence suggests that this man should be treated as an enemy combatant,” Graham said on the Senate floor.
Just cause he’s a citizen doesn’t mean he’s got, you know, rights. Graham in an imbecile and it’s depressing to think he has any say in writing our nation’s laws.