New Year’s Eve ReadsPosted: December 31, 2010
Today we begin to say good bye to 2010 and the first decade of the millennium and century! What a decade and what a year it has been! I don’t know about you, but just the last five years alone have turned my life upside down. (Think Hurricane Katrina, BP Oil Tsunami, and the financial crisis that has empowered thugs like Governexorcist Jindal to enforce absolute budget austerity on Louisiana and higher education.) Despite all that, we’re going to have an Airing of the Gratitude thread as part of the-Little-Blog-That-Could’s New Year’s Celebration. I’ve bought my black eyed peas and cabbage. Now, I’m making my list of things that I resolve to appreciate for the thread. I’d like to invite you to think about yours too and join in. A lot of my gratitude comes under the heading of my daughters, dad and sister, and my friends. That includes you ! We’re a blogging community that was forged from some really tough political times.
Meanwhile, here are some headlines to gear you up for the coming year and decade. May things improve for the better!! May peace and sanity prevail!! May every one’s health and circumstances improve tremendously! Many, many blessings to each and every one of you!
Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the coming year? A CNN poll shows a lot of people are optimistic about the the world outlook, but less so about their personal situation. Men are much more optimistic than women. Where do you fit in?
The Senate appears to have reached its limit on perpetually trying to find 60 votes for cloture and taking every ‘threat’ of a filibuster seriously. Brian Beutler at TPM is following the reform movement and the possible hurdles it faces.
The consensus package will aim to put an end to “secret holds” (anonymous filibuster threats) and disallow the minority from blocking debate on an issue altogether. Those two reforms are fairly straightforward. The third is a bit more complex. Udall, along with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), say there’s broad agreement on the idea to force old-school filibusters. If members want to keep debating a bill, they’ll have to actually talk. No more lazy filibusters.
But how would that actually work? In an interview Wednesday, Udall explained the ins and outs of that particular proposal.
“What we seem to have the most consensus on, is what I would call… a talking filibuster,” Udall told me. “Rather than a filibuster which is about obstruction.”
As things currently stand, the onus is on the majority to put together 60 votes to break a filibuster. Until that happens, it’s a “filibuster,” but it’s little more than a series of quorum calls, votes on procedural motions, and floor speeches. The people who oppose the underlying issue don’t have to do much of anything if they don’t want to.
Here’s how they propose to change that. Under this plan, if 41 or more senators voted against the cloture motion to end debate, “then you would go into a period of extended debate, and dilatory motions would not be allowed,” Udall explained.
As long as a member is on hand to keep talking, that period of debate continues. But if they lapse, it’s over — cloture is invoked and, eventually, the issue gets an up-or-down majority vote.
DDay at FDL has a thread up that offers a more detailed explanation. This includes a bit on what is being called ‘continuous debate’ which sounds a lot like that Jimmy Stewart movie “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” or what every one was hoping for when Bernie Sanders started talking a few weeks ago.
After 41 Senators or more successfully maintain a filibuster by voting against cloture, they would have to hold the floor and go into a period of extended debate. Without someone filibustering holding the floor, cloture is automatically invoked, and the legislation moves to an eventual up-or-down vote, under this rule change.
This would institute the actual filibuster. The Majority Leader would have the capacity, which Harry Reid says he doesn’t have now, to force the minority to keep talking to block legislation. It becomes a test of wills at this point – whether the minority wants to hold out for days, or whether the majority wants to move to other legislation.
Here’s hoping we can fix our broken government that is driven by corporate cash and interests and railroaded by imperious Senators. I’m not very hopeful that congress can actually fix itself, but I guess we’ll see. I will say that I do think Tom Udall is a good man. He’s one of the people that is fighting for an improved process.
I still have Louisiana and New Orleans on my mind right now. We have a new headline in our ongoing BP Oil Gusher Saga. This is from Raw Story. It appears the company that owns the rig–Transocean–is refusing to co-operate with the federal oil spill probe. I just want to find out what went wrong so we don’t ever repeat it. I’m sure all they are thinking about is the upcoming lawsuits.
Transocean said the U.S. Chemical Safety Board does not have jurisdiction in the probe, so it doesn’t have a right to the documents and other items it seeks. The board told The Associated Press late Wednesday that it does have jurisdiction and it has asked the Justice Department to intervene to enforce the subpoenas.
Last week, the board demanded that the testing of the failed blowout preventer stop until Transocean and Cameron International are removed from any hands-on role in the examination. It said it’s a conflict of interest. The request is pending.
Our economy is in sad shape down here and a good part of it is due to Transocean’s role in destroying livelihoods and life around the Gulf of Mexico. Human lives aren’t the only thing still struggling from the gulf gusher. Here’s some local news on that.
Scientists at the institute of Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport are studying why two endangered manatees died near the Gulf Coast in the past two weeks.
According to the Institute’s Executive Director Dr. Moby Solangi, cold water killed the manatees, but they should have migrated to warmer water.
Scientists are finding an unusually large number of Gulf of Mexico animals out of place since the BP oil spill began.
“It is no different than having a forest fire,” Dr. Solangi said Thursday. “The oil spill expanded, it went thousands of square miles and as their habitat shrunk, these animals moved to areas that were not affected.”
The problem, according to Dr. Solangi, is those unaffected areas were also unfamiliar to the animals.
Too many turtles, for instance, wound up in waters off the Mississippi coast, where they didn’t understand the food supply.
300 turtles died in Mississippi.
Many more were caught by fishermen.
“In the past years, we would get one or two or maybe three animals, this year we had 57,” Dr. Solangi said.
He and his staff at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies are now caring for dozens of sea turtles.
Of course, turtles in distress have to be swimming through some pretty nasty stuff in their environment. The shores along the Gulf are still oiled. Here’s a story about 168 miles of coast in Louisiana alone. This is from New Orleans own Times Picayune. Yes, folks, every single story I’m linking to on this is no more than a day old. We’re still living this nightmare down here.
Louisiana’s coastline continues to be smeared with significant amounts of oil and oiled material from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, with cleanup teams struggling to remove as much as possible of the toxic material by the time migratory birds arrive at the end of February, said the program manager of the Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Teams, which are working for BP and the federal government.
There are 113 miles of Louisiana coastline under active cleanup, with another 55 miles awaiting approval to start the cleanup process, according to SCAT statistics. Teams have finished cleaning almost 72 miles to levels where oil is no longer observable or where no further treatment is necessary.
But that’s not the whole story for the state’s coastline. According to SCAT statistics, there’s another 2,846 miles of beach and wetland areas where oil was once found but is no longer observable or is not treatable.
Gary Hayward, the Newfields Environmental Planning and Compliance contractor who oversees the SCAT program, said that large area will be placed into a new “monitor and maintenance” category, once Louisiana state and local officials agree to the procedures to be used for that category.
“With rare exceptions, most of the marshes still have a bathtub ring that we have all collectively decided we aren’t going to clean any more than we already have because we’d be doing more harm to the marshes than the oil is going to be doing to them,” Hayward said.
Raise your hand if you heard any thing about any of this on your local newspaper or the national TV stations. We’re so out of sight and out of mind down here that some times I wonder if we’re even considered part of the country. You do realize that a majority of water-related commerce and a majority of oil comes through our state, don’t you?
The South American country of Brazil is looking forward to incoming-President Dilma Rousseff. The Nation has an article that spotlights the country’s first female elected head of state. I only hope to see a day like that for our country. I’d also like to end the Reagan legacy and get a real Democrat back in the White House. Yes, I’m clapping for Tinkerbelle.
When the confetti was still falling after her victory at the polls on October 31, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president-elect, said, “I want to state my first commitment after the elections: to honor Brazil’s women so that today’s unprecedented result becomes a normal event and may be repeated and enlarged in companies, civil institutions and representative entities of our entire society.”
In a country where women have typically played a limited role in politics, the election of a woman to Brazil’s highest office signals a major break from the past. But Rousseff’s term will likely be marked by continuity with her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula, a member of the Workers’ Party (PT), is leaving office with 87 percent support in the polls. An economist, PT bureaucrat, chief of staff under Lula and former guerrilla in the anti-dictatorship movements of the 1960s and ’70s, Rousseff was handpicked by Lula to follow his lead as president. When she is sworn in on January 1, she will inherit Lula’s popular legacy and will be further empowered by the fact that her party and allied parties won a majority of seats in the Senate and Congress. Not even Lula counted on this much support.
Well, at least somewhere, women are getting their due. I’m getting tired of living through stories where women in the U.S. watch jobs they should have go to less qualified people. Then, they get to do all the work without the title. What’s worse is when the boyz club in power make you participate in the charade of celebration and finding the royal heir. Like that legitimizes their malfeasance! Here’s yet another example in a WSJ story about Elizabeth Warren searching for a person for the job she would hold if the world weren’t so upside down. It seems less and less about qualifications and knowledge these days and more and more about appearances and appeasing the old boyz. Money screams!
White House adviser Elizabeth Warren and a top lieutenant are quietly asking business and consumer groups for names of people who might run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, people familiar with the matter said.
The hunt suggests that Ms. Warren, a lightning rod for some bankers, might not be selected to lead the bureau, a centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill that passed this summer. Still, many liberal groups will push to get her in the post.
President Barack Obama’s choice could signal how he intends to deal with resurgent Republicans in Congress. The feelers to business groups serve as a reminder that any nominee would likely need support from at least seven Republicans in the Senate to win confirmation.
Among the names being discussed are Iowa’s attorney general, Tom Miller; New York state bank regulator Richard Neiman; and former Office of Thrift Supervision director Ellen Seidman.
The reality is Obama fights for nothing but Obama. I know there are other Obama appointments coming up shortly and I’m trying to get a grasp on what I want to discuss with you on the proposed replacements for Larry Summers. Well, I know what I want to discuss but it’s more like trying to figure out how to describe what I see as the problem. As some one who rides both sides of the finance and economics line, I have some insight that many don’t have. Finance is where you make the money and it’s really based on chimera. I know the details and the proofs behind asset pricing models and it’s simply smoke and mirrors. Economics is where the brains and the real insight exists. There is going to most likely be a bland, uninspired replacement for Larry Summers. A finance person will undoubtedly win that appointment. Hence, we will get smoke and mirrors and meaningless numbers.
Once again, it’s the vision thing. All these appointments seem to reek of employing micromanaging corporate bureaucrats that are part of the problem. They can crank through the data but they can’t put it into perspective. As old President Bush used to say, no one seems to be good at the “vision thing”. No one is crafting a blue print that incorporates a better big picture based on what we already know. The Great Depression and the inflationary 70s–and definitely the failures of Reagan’s voodoo economics–are full of lessons that every one seems to be ignoring. We’re seeing the appointment of types that just muck around in the already mucked up bureaucracy decimated by Dubya Bush whose only inspiration appeared to be blowing things up like a psychopathic third grade with a bunch of firecrackers and a pond full of frogs.
Finance people have tons of numbers in search of a theory. They crunch that data until they come up with a hypothesis that fits their storyline. Macroeconomists have a broader sense of what the system needs to look like in order to really change things. Economics has theory proved endlessly by empiricists. Finance people have run amok since the 1980s and really, it’s time to end overt data mining and look to bigger principles.
This White House seems really short on values, vision, and a blueprint to carry our country forward into this new decade. We need an economic strategy that includes real job creation; not imaginary ‘saved’ jobs. We need to unwind any thing that’s too big too fail and empower small, facile, and agile companies. Our money needs to be concentrated on developing strategies and resources that we can nurture and renew. (No, corn ethanol is not the answer. Making higher education more expensive and less accessible to all is not the answer either.) We need to find a way to fulfill our promises to the weakest among us. Current income inequality is not only immoral but it’s at levels approaching the powder keg of revolutions. (Have you listened to a Teabot recently?) We can no longer be railroaded by the interests of the few just because they can afford to fund political campaigns. No government law should incent a business to leave its community in need to search out obscene profits elsewhere because government policy encourages it. We should not accommodate any country that buggers growth from us by proffering trinkets on credit. Vision is not a difficult thing. Fighting for what’s right should not be a difficult thing either unless you’re in the fight with the wrong motivation.
Compromise seems to come so easy these days because there’s nothing proffered but compromise. The original positions are badly compromised from the get-go. Law making is based on political victory and not victory for the country. No one is shifting real strategies due to midterm elections because there’s never been an overarching plan to begin with. Moving pieces around a chess board is not playing chess. Government at the highest levels has just gotten to be a muddled process with no guiding principles. The White House is intently putting mid-level bureaucrats from corporations and the Clinton administration in charge of making tasteless sausage. It’s just making things even more muddled and more muddled is not the type of change people want. No bold vision could ever include the likes Timothy Geithner, Joe Biden, or Bill Richardson in positions that require vision. Instead, we have people of vision–like Elizabeth Warren–hunting for acceptable seat warmers.
I would just like to say that the last two months of being more than a file cabinet has brought a lot of intriguing things to Sky Dancing. We have a growing number of readers and front pagers and I find that all very exciting. So, must other parts of the blogosphere. WonktheVote’ s excellent piece ‘What if this is as good as the Obama administration gets? ‘ made Mike’s Blog Round up at Crooks and Liars. Another surprise showed up last night from Pew Research Center and the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. This time a reference and quote come from BostonBoomer on Julian Assange and the Wikileaks. Here’s their story and how we fit in.
Espousing a unique mix of politics, technology, free speech and transparency, WikiLeaks has captured the attention from bloggers in a way few stories ever do. It has been a focus of social media conversation for three weeks this month alone, with a discussion that moved from one dimension to the next. After centering on political blame, the value of exposing government secrets, and the importance of a free press, the debate took on yet a new angle last week.For the week of December 20-24, more than a third (35%) of the news links on blogs were about the controversy, making it the No. 1 subject, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
“It should go without saying that I do not approve of Assange’s behavior if the allegations against him are true. Nevertheless, I still believe the allegations are very convenient for the powers that be,” declared Sky Dancing.
The Center produces something that’s called the New Media Report. Here’s the description.
The New Media Index is a weekly report that captures the leading commentary of blogs and social media sites focused on news and compares those subjects to that of the mainstream press.
PEJ’s New Media Index is a companion to its weekly News Coverage Index. Blogs and other new media are an important part of creating today’s news information narrative and in shaping the way Americans interact with the news. The expansion of online blogs and other social media sites has allowed news-consumers and others outside the mainstream press to have more of a role in agenda setting, dissemination and interpretation. PEJ aims to find out what subjects in the national news the online sites focus on, and how that compared with the narrative in the traditional press.
In similar news, Technorati just gave us a new badge early this morning. It’s a nice little green rectangle that says TOP 100 US POLITICS. We’re currently 95. Not so bad for a blog that was just a file cabinet 2 months ago.
Our goals here include becoming part of the bigger conversation as well as providing more links and information to news items than we get via traditional main stream media outlets dominated by the concerns of advertisers and sources. We complement that with our commentary and explanations and yours. Yes. They hear us now.