Well, the extremist Christianists are still at it. While our military is off fighting against religioust extremism in the middle east, we need to start fighting it at home. Once again, religious hysteria overtakes reason, reality, and women’s and medicine’s ability to make decisions.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announced today that he will not veto an anti-abortion bill that restricts doctors and hospitals from performing an abortion on a “viable fetus.” The new law eliminates Missouri’s “general health exception” that allowed abortions to preserve the life or health of the woman. Come Aug. 28 when the law goes into effect, abortions will only be allowed “to save the woman’s life or when the pregnancy poses a serious risk of permanent physical harm to a major bodily function.” This narrow exception effectively eliminates a woman’s mental health as a justifiable reason and runs headlong into the Supreme Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey which only permits such bans “provided the life or health of the mother is not at stake,” a much more comprehensive definition of a woman’s health. Doctors who violate this new law “could face prison sentences of up to seven years, fines up to $50,000 and the loss of their medical licenses.”
This week the NRC has released a report outlining the problems with the nation’s aging nuclear plants that could give us a Fukushima-style meltdown.
Last month, we reported on the widespread deficiencies found in the procedures and equipment the country’s 104 commercial nuclear reactors are supposed to rely on in the event of a catastrophe like the one that hit the Fukushima-Daiichi power plant in Japan.
This week, a special task force of Nuclear Regulatory Commission experts proposed to do something about those problems and other safety issues raised by the Fukushima disaster, where the fuel in three reactors melted down and an unknown amount of radioactive materials escaped into the surroundings.
The NRC’s Japan Task Force said that U.S. nuclear plants are safe but called for potentially sweeping and costly changes to protect against catastrophic events like earthquakes and long-term blackouts.
The panel’s 83-page report calls for upgrades at many plants and broad revisions to what it called a “patchwork” of NRC regulations governing catastrophic events that need to be streamlined.
Groups ranging from nuclear industry representatives to nuclear power critics and regulators cautioned that the NRC report is only the first step in what will almost certainly be a long process of adopting lessons from the Fukushima disaster, where three reactors partially melted down.
That’s not very high on the list of priorities for GOP rep Sandy Adams from the backwoods of Florida. She’s shocked and upset that the DOE teaches children about energy efficiency and those damned light bulbs. Out! OUT! Damned light bulbs!
Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.) has introduced an amendment to the Energy and Water spending bill that would limit funds for any DOE website “which disseminates information regarding energy efficiency and educational programs to children or adolescents.”
The “Energy Kids!” site has a potpourri of energy-related information for kids, parents and teachers, ranging from science fair project suggestions to puzzles, an activity book and scavenger hunt. Kids can even earn a certificate for completing an expedition with “Energy Ant.”
In introducing her amendment Thursday night, Adams flipped through blown-up charts of cartoons and jokes from various DOE websites, including the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s “Kids Saving Energy.”
“How did Benjamin Franklin feel when he discovered electricity? He was shocked,” she said, reading from a poster.
It’s unclear how much money taxpayers would save from removing the sites, and Adams said she was frustrated with Energy Secretary Steven Chu for not providing her with those details.
The House is set to vote on the amendment Friday.
The House is adding this important issue to it’s agenda that includes passing a Dirty Water Act and evidently those damned lightbulbs that Republicans like Adams and Bachmann have become obsessed with have to go too!! I guess caring about the environment is an act of Satan.
On Wednesday, the House approved the cynically named “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act,” a bill that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to oversee state water quality standards and to take action when the states fail to measure up. This bill is not about protecting states’ powers. It is about allowing industries, farmers and municipalities to pollute.
Among its chief sponsors are John Mica, Republican of Florida, who is angry at the E.P.A.’s recent crackdown on the agricultural pollutants that are destroying the Everglades, and Nick Rahall, Democrat of West Virginia, who is furious at the agency’s effort to stop mountaintop mining from poisoning his state’s rivers and streams.
President Obama has rightly threatened to veto the bill if it survives the Senate. Absent federal oversight, states are likely to engage in a race to the bottom, weakening environmental rules to attract business.
This assault on the Clean Water Act reminded us, briefly, of 1995, when a Republican-controlled House under Newt Gingrich tried to undermine the same law. That effort enraged independent voters and energized moderate Republicans.
One of the most interesting stories is the seemingly inevitable fall of the media empire built by Murdoch. The FBI has opened an inquiry on wiretapping if 9-11 families similar to ones that plague Murdoch’s holdings in the UK. Murdoch is using the Wall Street Journal as his mouthpiece at the moment.
While it is unclear if the review will expand into a full investigation, the FBI’s involvement heightens the scrutiny faced by the media giant, which is under intense fire in Britain over allegations that its journalists hacked into the phones of thousands of people.
The FBI probe also raises the politically delicate possibility that the Obama administration— which has questioned the objectivity of News Corp.’s Fox News — could bring criminal charges against employees of the network’s parent company. Murdoch is a political conservative, and last year he directed a $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association on behalf of News Corp.
U.S. officials cautioned that it is too soon to tell if charges will be filed, and they indicated that the probe could face a range of complexities, including jurisdictional issues and statutes of limitation that may have expired. Federal investigators also are expected to consult with their counterparts in Britain, which could slow their pace.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is unfolding.
Here’s hoping we lose enough Murdoch franchises in the world to bring back some truth and honesty in media. If Roger Ailes goes down in all of this, that will just be frosting on the triple chocolate brownies. Speaking of Fox and egos from the fascist right, Bill O’Reilly has offered to broker the debt talks. What’s next? Rush Limbaugh painting smoke messages across the skies of Tripoli stating surrender Ghadafi?
“So now I am offering to broker the debt compromise. I’ll go down there. I’m ready to answer the call. Because I’m looking out for you. Not some crazed ideology or political party,” O’Reilly said.
Earlier in the segment, O’Reilly bashed the president and congressional Democrats’ “spending madness” as well as Michele Bachmann and other tea party-affiliated Republicans, whose current stance is against raising the U.S. debt limit no matter the deal.
O’Reilly’s debt plan would eliminate tax loopholes — with no increase in income taxes — as well as at least $2 trillion in immediate spending cuts. He believes discussion on entitlement spending must wait until after the 2012 election.
On Wednesday, Carney name-dropped the influential commentator as a constructive voice during the discussions.
“There is a growing chorus out there, of Republicans and Conservatives who acknowledge that we need to do this in a balanced way,” Carney said. “Bill O’Reilly on Fox News expressed that sentiment last night.”
Okay, with that, I’ll ask what’s on your blogging and reading list today?
It seems as though our nation’s “leaders” are looking to bring down our country. It’s the only explanation that I have. Also, I’m at the point where I think Joe Biden is the only sane one in the room. Pinch me! Please!
Headlines of note to prove my case:
Speaker of the House John Boehner introduced a new argument to the debt ceiling and deficit reduction talks Tuesday, saying raising the borrowing limit is Republicans’ concession in the negotiations.”This debt limit increase is [Obama’s] problem,” he said.
Boehner is trying to force a deficit reduction package entirely based on spending cuts, saying Obama’s demands for new revenues would only be considered if Obama accepted deep cuts to entitlements.
My guess is that Boehner has absolutely no control over the Republicans in the House. Some one from Wall Street needs to take a few of them to the wood shed. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell appears to be interested in nothing but political play. Some senate Republicans would obviously join the president but it appears that will happen over McConnell’s dead mind and conscious. McConnell still refuses to admit the Republicans lost the White House 3 years ago. He’s become some kind of Captain Queeg who gets in front of the press then rattles ball bearings in his fist while muttering “one term president, strawberries, one term president, it’s the strawberries, I tell you …” repeatedly.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Tuesday said a comprehensive deficit-reduction deal is not attainable as long as Barack Obama is president.
McConnell declared that deficit-reduction talks have come to an unsolvable deadlock.
“After years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable,” he said.McConnell has called for reforms to curb the future growth of Social Security and Medicare since taking over as Republican leader at the end of 2006.
So, what’s the response of the leader of the free world? Would you call this riling up or scaring seniors?
President Obama on Tuesday said he cannot guarantee that retirees will receive their Social Security checks August 3 if Democrats and Republicans in Washington do not reach an agreement on reducing the deficit in the coming weeks.
“I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, according to excerpts released by CBS News.
The Obama administration and many economists have warned of economic catastrophe if the United States does not raise the amount it is legally allowed to borrow by August 2.
This is insane. No one’s made any sense in this discussion since Joe Biden told his gang of six to get real. Meanwhile, we’re beginning to see financial economists question this game of chicken.This extremely good analysis is written by Jeffrey Frankel the James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
In the 1955 movie Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean and a teenage rival race two cars to the edge of a cliff in a game of chicken. Both intend to jump out at the last moment. But the other guy miscalculates, and goes over the cliff with the car.
This is the game that is being played out in Washington this month over the debt ceiling. The chance is at least 1/4 that the result will be similarly disastrous.
It is amazing that the financial markets continue to view the standoff with equanimity. Interest rates on US treasury bonds remain very low, barely above 3% at the ten-year maturity. Evidently it is still considered a sign of sophistication to say “This is just politics as usual. They will come to an agreement in the end.” Probably they will. But maybe not. (I’d put a ½ probability on an agreement that raises the debt limit, but just muddles through in terms of the genuine long term fiscal problem. That leaves at most a ¼ probability of a genuine long-term solution of the sort that President Obama apparently proposed last week – described as worth $4 trillion over ten years.)
My advice to investors is to shift immediately out of US treasuries and into high-rated corporate bonds. If the worst happens, you will probably save yourself from a big capital loss within the next month. If not, there is no harm done.
The game is not symmetric. The Republicans are the ones who are miscalculating. Evidently they are confident of prevailing: they rejected the President’s offer, even though he was willing to cut entitlement programs.
The situation is complicated because there are a number of different people crammed into the Republican car. There is one guy who is obsessed with the theory that, come August 3, the federal government could retain its top credit rating if it continued to service its debt by ceasing payment on its other bills. But this would mean failing to honor legal obligations that have already been incurred (paying suppliers for paper clips that have already been bought, paying soldiers their wages for last month’s service, sending social security recipients their checks, etc.). This is like observing that the cliff is not a 90 degree drop-off, but only 110 degrees. It doesn’t matter: the car would still go crashing into the ocean far below. The government’s credit would still be downgraded and global investors would still demand higher interest rates to hold US treasuries, probably on a long-term basis.
There are other guys (and gals) in the car who are even more delusional. They are dead set on a policy of immediately eliminating the budget deficit (e.g., those opposed to raising the debt ceiling no matter what, or those campaigning for a balanced budget amendment), and doing it primarily by cutting nondefense discretionary spending. This is literally impossible, arithmetically. But they honestly don’t know this. It is as if they were insisting that the car can fly. Sometimes it can be a good bargaining position to adopt a very extreme position. But if you are demanding that the car flies, you are not going to get your way no matter how determined you are.
What we have here are a group of rebels with self-serving causes. Again, the President should just invoke the 14th amendment,pay the bills, and send the DOJ after the many folks here that appear to be willing to tank our country for their personal political gain. Threatening seniors’ social security is not leadership. It’s just a matter of time before the financial markets start noticing these folks are not acting in the best interest of our country, our economy, or our ability to deal with our economic challenges. We’re lucky that they still think this is the chicken dance right now instead of a chicken race. It’s going to be a lot harder to pay off the debt with the interest rates that go along with junk bonds. This is not the place for political grandstanding.
update: Okay, this is weird … what’s McConnell up to now?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has proposed a sort of escape hatch for Congressional Republicans, who have threatened not to raise the national debt limit — and trigger a default — if Democrats don’t agree to trillions of dollars in cuts to popular social programs.
The plan is designed to give President Obama the power to raise the debt limit through the end of his first term on his own, but to force Democrats to take a series of votes on the debt limit vote in the months leading up to the election.
This still leaves me wondering if Boehner can deliver enough Republican votes to actually head off a purposeful debt default.