(Ben Sargent via GoComics.com)
So, I’ve been off the news grid for the last couple days… anything worth paying attention to happening?
Tuesday Morning Open Thread
(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
The Conventional-Wisdom momentum may finally be shifting, however slowly, in favor of the Sane People’s Party. Eugene Robinson, at the Washington Post, thinks President Obama has called the GOP’s bluff:
… Obama’s in-your-face attitude seems to have thrown Republicans off their stride. They thought all they had to do was convince everyone they were crazy enough to force an unthinkable default on the nation’s financial obligations. Now they have to wonder if Obama is crazy enough to let them.
He probably isn’t. But the White House has kept up the pressure…
My view, for what it’s worth, is that now is the wrong time for spending cuts or tax increases — that it’s ridiculous to do anything that might slow the lumbering economic recovery, even marginally. But if there have to be cuts, then Republicans must be forced to move off the no-new-revenue line they have drawn in the sand.
Even if they move just an inch, the nation’s prospects become much brighter. This fight is that important…
Maybe that’s why, in this stare-down, the president doesn’t seem inclined to blink.
Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly, on the other hand, points out that the GOPers are doubling down:
… I’m also fascinated by the notion that McCain suddenly believes mandates matter. Barack Obama sought the presidency promising to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year. If memory serves, he did pretty well when voters had their say. By McCain’s reasoning, doesn’t that mean the president should have his way, too?
But it’s the “they don’t want compromise” line that really stands out. From McCain’s bizarre perspective, Americans simply want Democrats to accept the Republicans’ unpopular agenda — all of it — and see no need for compromise between the parties.
It’s a reminder about the extent to which the parties are approaching this process very differently. Democrats believe it’s a negotiation, and both sides will make concessions to reach an equitable agreement. Republicans believe it’s a transaction, and Democrats must simply give the GOP what it demands.
And yet the most significant indicator of a change in the political winds are the latest columns from two of the Media Village’s most notorious hacks: Richard “Caligula’s Horse” Cohen titles his “A Grand Old Cult“.
… This intellectual rigidity has produced a GOP presidential field that’s a virtual political Jonestown. The Grand Old Party, so named when it really did evoke America, has so narrowed its base that it has become a political cult. It is a redoubt of certainty over reason and in itself significantly responsible for the government deficit that matters most: leadership. That we can’t borrow from China.
And David “BoBo” Brooks, the man who never met a bankster to whom he wouldn’t bow, lavishes several paragraphs of slavering praise on the “Republican leaders [who] have changed American politics“ and “proven to be effective negotiators… tough & inflexible and forced the Democrats to come to them” before turning in a different direction:
If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred million dollars of revenue increases…
But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative…
The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency. A nation makes a sacred pledge to pay the money back when it borrows money. But the members of this movement talk blandly of default and are willing to stain their nation’s honor…
The struggles of the next few weeks are about what sort of party the G.O.P. is — a normal conservative party or an odd protest movement that has separated itself from normal governance, the normal rules of evidence and the ancient habits of our nation.
If the debt ceiling talks fail, independents voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.
And they will be right.
Racing to the bottom of the lake
I’m at Lake Michigan. I saw the sign pictured when I visited a public beach today. I’m at that beach maybe every three months, and it’s the first I’ve seen the sign.
This is Great Lakes Restoration:
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. This action plan covers fiscal years 2010 through 2014 and addresses five urgent focus areas:
Cleaning up toxics and areas of concern;
Combating invasive species;
Promoting nearshore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off;
Restoring wetlands and other habitats; and
Working with partners on outreach.
I was really glad to see the sign, because I was reading about Ohio conservatives and their plans for Lake Erie last week, and got sick to my stomach.
First, some background. This is the 2008 interstate compact on the Great Lakes:
A decade in-the-making, a historic pact is now in place to safeguard the health of the world’s largest surface freshwater resource for generations to come. President Bush signed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact into law in October 2008, days after it won approval in the U.S. House of Representatives and a month after passing the U.S. Senate.Now begins the implementation phase for the eight-state water management pact, a first-of-its kind model for a consensus-based, basin-wide approach to decisions about how much and how far away Great Lakes water can be used.
Unfortunately, the compact left implementation up to the individual Great Lakes states, leaving a gaping hole that the grifters, clowns and thieves in the GOP in (first) Indiana and (last week) Ohio rushed in to fill:
It’s a pact that either balances Ohio’s environment and economy or sacrifices Lake Erie in the name of big business profits. Regardless, Ohio’s attempt to write between the lines of the international Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Compact is flowing at a flood’s pace toward Gov. John Kasich’s desk.With a single Columbus Democrat joining Republicans in support, the House voted 60-37 to approve a bill allowing heavy manufacturers, mining operations, power plants, and other businesses to draw up to 5 million gallons of water a day directly from Lake Erie before facing regulation.
Any regulatory compliance is voluntary. Yeah. That’ll work.
“We can do both,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon), owner of a water-bottling company that draws from the watershed . “We can protect the environment, and we can also make sure that jobs are protected, that economic growth is protected, and that’s what [this bill] does,” he said.
The bill implements the regulatory side of the Great Lakes compact that was crafted to unite the region in protecting the freshwater source from poaching by thirsty states and nations. The compact was approved in 2008 by eight states, two Canadian provinces, and Congress. But the compact left it up to the states to develop standards for “reasonable use” of Great Lakes water. Ohio’s proposed thresholds exceed those of all other states. Only Indiana has thresholds for Lake Michigan and its watershed that rival Ohio’s. Michigan has set its limit at 2 million for direct lake withdrawals.
So media favorite Moderate Mitch Daniels went racing to the absolute bottom on environmental protections for Lake Michigan, and the dupes and clowns in the Ohio legislature followed him and did the same for Lake Erie.
“We don’t want to be the state with the highest taxes,” said Rep. Terry Boose (R., Norwalk). “We don’t want to be the state with the lowest thresholds of whether you can use water out of the lake”.
He’s lying, of course. It’s difficult to tell because he’s incapable of forming a coherent sentence, but with the Governor’s signature on this law Ohio will be the state with the highest thresholds of “whether you can use water out of the lake”.
Here’s wild-eyed Leftist environmentalist and former GOP governor Bob Taft:
Former Gov. Bob Taft today joined Democrats and environmentalists in opposing a plan by his fellow Republicans to allow large amounts of water to be drained from Lake Erie without a permit. In his first appearance before a legislative committee since leaving office in 2007, Taft told an Ohio Senate committee that provisions of legislation being considered “directly conflict” with the Great Lakes Compact signed during his administration. He said House Bill 231 would “weaken the protections to the waters of the Great Lakes” and “invite litigation against the state of Ohio.”
The GOP ignored Taft and the scientists, and the bill is now speeding to Governor Kasich’s desk. It is absolutely terrifying that the survival of Lake Erie is wholly dependent on a former Fox News personality who has absolutely no interest in governing, conservation, water use, or anything else having to do with the state of Ohio. We can all just hope former Governor Taft is right, and the conservative brain trust in the legislature have somehow managed to write law that violates the treaty they promised to honor just two years ago.
Bernie Sanders Is My Hero
Yes, yes, of course: Reasonable people differ… shrill… not helpful to attack natural allies… coalition of one… changing government is haaaard, etc. But I’m glad there’s still one brave person standing up and yelling at the clouds floating between his fellow Congresscritters’ ears:
As the debate over deficits ramped up in Washington on Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders laid out the compelling case not to slash programs for working families. Any deficit reduction package must rely on new revenue for at least half the reduction in red ink, he added in a major address in the Senate. Sanders spoke at length about what caused deficits (wars, Wall Street bailouts, tax breaks for the rich) and how to shrink them (more revenue from the wealthiest Americans to match spending cuts). He urged fellow senators not to yield to Republican congressional leaders who “acted like schoolyard bullies” when they walked out of budget negotiations. He summed up the situation in a letter to the president that had been signed by more than 16,000 people by the time he completed his speech.
Sign the letter »
Transcript of Sanders’ full 90-minute speech is up at his website. (I’m imagining John Quincy Adams, another Congressional pest with a penchant for unpopular opinions, applauding from his seat in Valhalla.) Signature count stands at 60,508 as I type this, and there are Facebook / Tweet link buttons, too.
“A Glimpse of a Better America Ahead”
Greg Sargent, in the Washington Post, shares some personal history:
… I grew up in the far West Village in the 1970s, about seven or eight blocks west of Stonewall Inn, where joyful crowds celebrated the news on Friday night. At the time, even though the Village was supposed to be a leading refuge for gays, the discrimination, hostility and abuse directed at them were everywhere. Even in this neighborhood, gays and lesbians took steps to conceal their sexual orientation… Even on these streets, gay couples who openly displayed affection for each other in public were regularly abused in full public view.
It was not uncommon to see vans full of thugs who had driven in from other neighborhoods — for no other reason than to taunt and even beat up gays — screaming “faggots” at groups of young men who congregated along West Street, along the Hudson River. To reveal your sexual orientation in public through even the most basic gestures of affection was to put yourself at risk of mockery, abuse and even violence…
One thing that’s been obvious throughout this debate is that many people have never really been exposed to the ugliness of anti-gay bigotry with anything approaching their awareness of other forms of discrimination, many of which have received a far fuller airing in popular culture. As a result, the debate over gay rights is saddled with endless discussions over whether the push for gay equality is a “real” civil rights struggle on a par with that waged by African Americans or other groups. Anyone who has witnessed anti-gay hostility up close can tell you it is very real indeed.
That’s what makes the New York breakthough so important. It is a major blow to the idea that the gay rights fight is somehow different, that the anti-gay discrimination and bigotry on display in the marriage debate somehow don’t really count as discrimination and bigotry…
Pelosi: Strong Women Don’t Quit
Good piece on “Nancy Pelosi’s Big Comeback” in the Washington Post:
… In the corridor where the House minority leader greets visitors hangs but one decoration: a photo of her at the front of the House chamber, lifting the gavel in triumph, on Jan. 5, 2007. That was the day she was sworn in as the nation’s first female speaker, arguably the most powerful post any woman has held in the nation’s history.
The fact that the pale-yellow walls remain bare suggests that Pelosi has no intention of getting settled in her new offices. What drives her these days is the realization that, with the party’s upset victory in last month’s special election in a heavily Republican Upstate New York district, Democrats need just two dozen seats to take back their majority.
“I feel comfortable about our ability to win it back,” Pelosi said in an interview, as she approached the six-month mark of being in the minority again. “I have a sense of responsibility to win it back, a plan to do so, and a confidence that it is very much possible to do so.” […] __
The speakership used to be a post with job security. But that is no longer true in an era in which voters are more restive and the political culture is rougher on those who hold power. In the past 21 years, five speakers have been forced out, either by scandal or by political upheaval.
What makes Pelosi different is not that she lost that cherished gavel — but that she didn’t head for the exit when she did. Pelosi is the first former speaker since Sam Rayburn, more than half a century ago, to remain in the House as the head of her party and to fight to get her majority back.
She calls it her “faith-based initiative,” and it is indeed an endeavor to make her fellow Democrats believe again. […]
Because, Because…Soshalism, That’s Why!
Not much blogging to come (will anyone be able to tell the difference?–ed.) this week, as I’m writing this from Doha, Qatar, where the biennial World Conference of Science Journalists is about to begin.
But as my body adjusts to the eight hour time difference, I chanced across this piece in The New York Times, which captures in the story of one small household appliance why American Exceptionalism may kill us all yet:
One high-definition DVR and one high-definition cable box use an average of 446 kilowatt hours a year, about 10 percent more than a 21-cubic-foot energy-efficient refrigerator, a recent study found.
These set-top boxes are energy hogs mostly because their drives, tuners and other components are generally running full tilt, or nearly so, 24 hours a day, even when not in active use. The recent study, by the Natural Resources Defense Council, concluded that the boxes consumed $3 billion in electricity per year in the United States — and that 66 percent of that power is wasted when no one is watching and shows are not being recorded. That is more power than the state of Maryland uses over 12 months.
That set-up: the HD box and recorder, can add ten bucks or more per month to a household electricity bill, but the drain isn’t obvious, because the damn things are always on.
It was said of Pythagoras that he was the only man who could hear the music of the spheres; the rest of us were so accustomed to it, having been cradled in such harmony from womb to grave…and so it is with that 60 cycle hum, or its metaphoric equivalent. We can’t monitor that whose absence we’ve never known.
What’s truly galling, though, is that there is no technical reason either to spend that money, or to burn the fuel — much of it coal — to make the power required:
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