Category Archives: Politics

TransCanada Quietly Reapplies, Keystone XL Pipeline Planned On Original Schedule

We live in an age of zombie environmental nightmares, and the Keystone XL pipeline, slated to transport tar sands, the dirtiest of fossil fuels, from Canada to Texas, has just risen from the dead to resume its glazed-eyed walk across our landscape, defying tradition by crossing and endangering an estimated 101 bodies of water. Here are a few details from MarketWatch:

TORONTO -(MarketWatch)- TransCanada Corp. TRP -1.29% said Friday that it resubmitted an application for a U.S. permit for its controversial Keystone XL oil-pipeline expansion, rejected by the White House earlier this year after it became a political flashpoint ahead of this year’s presidential election.

The Calgary-based pipeline company said it will supplement its application, which was submitted to the U.S. Department of State, with a proposed, alternative route in Nebraska as soon as that route is selected. Nebraska became the focal point of some of the most vocal opposition to the line.

TransCanada has long maintained it planned to resubmit its application. U.S. President Barack Obama rejected the line after Republican lawmakers imposed an early deadline on the decision, part of a broader tax compromise with the president.

The reapplication doesn’t likely change the timing of an ultimate decision on the project. The White House said it would welcome a resubmission, but because of the time required to process and review a new application, a decision isn’t expected until after the November presidential elections.

Read the rest, if you have the stomach. Remember, this is from an investment web site; don’t expect much in the way of politics, either pro‑environment or pro‑fossil‑fuels. I chose it specifically for that reason.

Whatever Obama’s virtues… the primary one being that he is not Mitt Romney, and one of the two of them will be president next year… he’s always been a lover of fossil fuels. Remember how easily BP got off from the Deepwater Horizon disaster that effectively wrecked the Gulf Coast… Obama seems ready to let drilling companies go at it again. (There are a few conspiracy theories on the web that I do not believe: Obama, not a creature of malice, is simply a pro-business Republican-style president who isn’t going to let a massive Gulf-destroying oil spill get in the way of further drilling. Back in the day, his biggest sin was regulatory negligence.)

But Obama has another flaw… or virtue, depending on how you look at it: like most other politicians, he loves to look good to the public. Our task is to keep the pressure on him to do what he’s disinclined to do… reject Keystone XL’s permit application… especially after the election if Obama wins. (I consider the matter hopeless if Rmoney wins… there’s no pro-environment Richard Nixon in that man!)

What can you do? Try writing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (email: jackson.lisap@epa.gov). Find a petition and sign it; e.g., CREDO has one going here. Lather Reince; repeat… um, I mean, lather, rinse, repeat, several times between now and elections… and again, louder, after elections, if Obama wins.

CISPA: Your Privacy At Severe Risk Of Government‑Corporate Surveillance

Following up on the earlier CISPA post, Anjali Dalal of AlterNet has a concentrated summary of CISPA and all the last-minute amendments applied last Thursday evening before the bill was passed unexpectedly by the House. Many of the amendments appear to have been inserted (and others deleted) in defiance of reservations expressed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Democracy and Technology, all of whom were at least in theory invited to “participate” in amending the bill. Here’s Dalal:

Learning their lesson from SOPA, the House decided to invite civil liberties constituencies to the table so as to avoid having to witness another implosion of a major legislative goal. As a result, a number of amendments were introduced that began to address some of the most egregious parts of the bill, and, in response, some members of the civil liberties community decided to withhold further, vocal opposition. Then, on Thursday evening, it all fell apart. As Josh Smith at the National Journal described, the CISPA that was passed by the House on Thursday didn’t reflect this negotiation: …

Ah, the grand Republican tradition, let everyone have their say and then pass whatever they damned well please. “We listened to you!” they will doubtless protest. Yes, fuck them dead, they did. An overwhelming number of the amendments ultimately incorporated were Republican, while most Democratic amendments were omitted by the Republican-dominated House Rules Committee.

The linked AlterNet article discusses quite a few amendments. All I can say on a quick reading is that the words “warrantless” and “immunity” appear often, allowing warrantless searches by corporations (!) to be reported to government agencies with immunity for the corporations involved. These GOP guys ‘n’ gals really, really don’t like the “no search without a warrant” principle, and they really, really do like subcontracting legitimately government-only activities to private corporations.

Do you get the feeling that that pompous, ritualistic reading of the Constitution at the opening of the last House session was totally lost on the members of one party, and maybe some of the other party’s members as well?

Does anybody know the status of Obama’s original threat to veto this bill if it crosses his desk? Has he caved yet?

Obama Is A Tyrant And A Killer… Please Vote For Him – UPDATED

Yes, you read the hed correctly. Yes, it is a significant change in my position.

Yesterday I posted a comment on the site of a friend which was apparently so strongly worded in opposition to voting for Obama that it prompted the friend to remove the post and the entire comment thread. At least I cannot find it today.

Of course I regret any offense given, especially to people I admire, but these are parlous times, and we discuss things that evoke strong feelings even among people of good will. My hope in posting that comment was that it would provoke a lively discussion about the limits to the obligations of liberals to the candidates of the Democratic Party, especially their candidate for president. We will all have to do without that discussion now, but the whole affair had one salutary effect:

I have changed my mind about voting for Mr. Obama. I shall now hold my nose and do so.

Look: the United States is on a steep road to the bottom. It is probably too late to prevent the ultimate collapse, maybe five years from now, maybe 20 years from now. (A lot depends on the rapidity of global climate change and the tenacity with which America clings to fossil fuels for everything.)

I have no love for Mr. Obama and his policies: his frequent cave-ins to Republican pressures, his propensity to unitary executive actions against individuals who oppose him, and his willingness to bend the Constitution, including legal due process, well past the breaking point. He is not an admirable person.

But I believe that a President Romney, a man with a level of fundamental human sympathy inferior to that of a drunken wealthy frat boy, especially if he were to end up with a Republican Congress, would bring about at least America’s economic collapse almost immediately, while the re-election of President Obama would leave us not much worse off than we are at present… still nothing to dance about, but at least there may be some chance of a recovery in a few years. And perhaps a few radical social-conservative bills in Congress, of which we’re seeing a lot lately, will draw an actual veto from Obama.

I know… “maybe he won’t be unbearably bad” is not the strongest endorsement of the man, but it’s the best I can offer under the circumstances. Let me phrase it slightly differently: with Obama, perhaps the US will not immediately turn into Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale.

If your outlook on Mr. Obama is similar to mine, you have a decision to make of far greater consequence than mine, because you probably live in a state that is not so red that Obama would never win it anyway… that describes Texas, of course. My vote means nothing. My lack of a vote would have meant nothing, too. So it’s up to you… not me… to see to it that Romney is swept into the dumpster of history. Help me out here!

(Click the graphic above to be taken to a place from which you can buy a bumper sticker. For the sticker in context, please click (link deleted… web site is registered to a web designer for the Republican Caucus of the legislature in a state out West). Something seemed fishy about the wording and by-and-large anonymity of the site. Worse, its list of links to major liberal/progressive sites was not labeled… are they participants? endorsers? just a blogroll? a fake-out to make you think it’s a progressive outfit? I don’t know why a Republican web designer would be tweaking liberals/progressives in that way, but it’s not the first such spoof I’ve encountered.)

A: ‘Hispanics, Women, And Young People’

According to Robert Reich, that’s the answer. So what is the question? Well, actually, there are two:

Q: “What are the three demographic groups whose electoral impact is growing fastest?”

and

Q: “Who are Republicans pissing off the most?”

Reich details his answers in a bit of election-year analysis that leaves me not quite so despairing about the likely outcome of this year’s elections.

Now all we have to do is somehow dodge the voter suppression bullet…

 

Don’t You Love It When Your Political Adversaries Squabble Among Themselves?

In this corner, we have the over-the-edge budget-slasher (social programs, of course) and self-proclaimed “good Catholic” Paul Ryan. And in the opposite corner, we have the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who despite their overwhelmingly politically conservative leanings… just ask Planned Parenthood, or most women in America… perceive Ryan’s budget as contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ (more like those of Ayn Rand, they say) regarding assistance to the poor, and aren’t afraid to say so. (Indeed, as far as I can tell, the USCCB aren’t afraid to say anything: they must somehow be judicially assured of retaining their tax exemption as they actively engage in politics. Could their ace in the hole be those six (6) Justices on the Supreme Court who are Catholic?) Tonight, Ryan and the USCCB will go far more than 15 rounds, battling over the classic contradiction built into religious conservatism: call it “budget‑busting vs. Bible‑thumping.”

Here to narrate the fight for our “radio” audience are John Nichols of The Nation and Sahil Kapur of TPM.

Come out fighting and beat each other to a pulp, “gentlemen”!

Oh, and Nichols provides us with the Malapropism of the Week, attributed to Paul Ryan: “Ryan says: ‘The preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenants of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, …’ ” Would those Catholic tenants be in Catholic tenements? I don’t doubt for a moment that “tenants” is the word Ryan said.

Newton Succumbs To Warped Spacetime

… but it’s not clear whether or when Newtie will endorse Eins… er… Rmoney [sic]. Actually, to hear Benjy Sarlin of TPM tell it, Newt Gingrich is more like Schrödinger’s cat:

His candidacy neither dead nor quite alive (but mostly dead), the former speaker at least conceded he’d “reassess” his options after a loss in Delaware. On Wednesday morning, he came about as close as he could to conceding without going all the way, saying it was “very clear” at this point Romney would be the nominee and that he’d campaign this week as a “citizen,” per Fox News. “We’re working out the details of our transition, and we’ll have information for the press in the next couple days,” Gingrich said, according to ABC. Aides went even further, telling CNN that he’d officially drop out next week.

Bye-bye, Newt. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt…

Thune’s Threat

I don’t have time at the moment to do justice to this story, but the essence is this: Sen. John Thune (R-SD) has raised the threat that Senate Republicans might back House Republicans’ plan to scuttle the bargain they made a few months ago with Democrats and Obama regarding the budget, insisting on deeper cuts… in essence, reneging on the deal they made. “Oops, we didn’t really mean it,” say the GOPers.

For the moment, I’ll simply refer you to TPM’s Brian Beutler and Sahil Kapur. I’ll have more to say later.

LATER THOUGHTS: This comes down to our form of government, whether it is a representative (republican) democracy or something else. Consider two scenarios:

Scenario I: A hotly contested issue such as a budget is fought over in Congress by two parties (call them D and R) for a month. Questionable tactics of either party aside, eventually an agreement is reached under which each party gets some of what it wants and gives up some of what it wants. The deal is inked; some months later, the budget is submitted to the president for signature.

Scenario II: Same as Scenario I, except that for every item that party R wanted that they did not get in the agreement, they demand a do-over, and so on ad infinitum or until they get everything they want.

I maintain that Scenario I is a kind of representative democracy, and Scenario II is a kind of dictatorship by party R. I am unwilling to live under such a dictatorship, or indeed any sort of dictatorship, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to prevent any sort of dictatorship.

Where does that leave us?

He’s Booooork!!!

Baaaaack, I mean. No, Booooork… Robert Bork. People for the American Way have put up a web site explaining to us that Mitt Romney has picked an adviser to help him choose Supreme Court nominees over the next four years, and that person is… Robert Bork. You remember that Bork was a nightmare when he was nominated… and turned down… for the Supreme Court himself, but you don’t remember the particulars? Fortunately, PFAW has made a video:

In the lifetime of our country, there have been quite a few deeply destructive Supreme Court justices. One could argue that some on the Court at this moment are among the destructive ones; I, for example, deplore what Antonin Scalia has done, and Chief Justice Roberts has much to disrecommend him as well. But neither is anything compared to the evil that is Bork. And Romney says of Bork, “I wish he were already on the Supreme Court.”

We must pull out all the stops to prevent Romney from taking… word chosen advisedly… the presidency. The consequences would exceed those of a GeeDubya Bush presidency by as much as a nuclear weapon exceeds the destructiveness of a conventional weapon of comparable size. Stop Romney… if for no other reason than to stop Bork.

What, And Who, Killed The Economy?

Paul Krugman and Robin Wells, writing for Salon, sum it up: it’s the dramatically widening inequality of incomes… and plain and simple GOP ignorance, “failing Econ 101,” as they put it. Here’s a sample:

So how did we end up in this state? How did America become a nation that could not rise to the biggest economic challenge in three generations, a nation in which scorched-earth politics and politicized economics created policy paralysis?

We suggest it was the inequality that did it. Soaring inequality is at the root of our polarized politics, which made us unable to act together in the face of crisis. And because rising incomes at the top have also brought rising power to the wealthiest, our nation’s intellectual life has been warped, with too many economists co-opted into defending economic doctrines that were convenient for the wealthy despite being indefensible on logical and empirical grounds.

We can keep on pursuing this course until the nation’s… and the world’s… economies collapse. Or we can “suddenly” remember that we’ve been here before, in the second half of the 1930s, and that we know how we got out of the Great Depression. I could say “the choice is ours,” but hey, it’s not as if we had a democracy or anything… [/snark]

Is Newt Snake-Bit? No, But Will A Penguin Do?

MSNBC’s First Read:

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The day after Newt Gingrich was bit by a penguin at a zoo, he acknowledged he is “the underdog” and said his campaign began renting their donor list because they needed money.

No word on whether Gingrich named the penguin, or has plans to develop an operating system

(H/T upyernoz.)