The other political hostage crisis in Washington:
"The government is likely to lose more than $1 billion in airline ticket taxes because lawmakers have left town for a month without resolving a partisan standoff over a bill to end the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration." The standoff has resulted in a partial shutdown of FAA operations
, leaving 4,000 airport safety workers out of work and forcing airport safety inspectors to work without pay
. The dispute hinges on Republican legislative proposals designed to make it more difficult for FAA workers to organize into labor unions
"Ocean Life on the Brink of Mass Extinctions,"
warns a new comprehensive study from "a 2011 workshop of ocean experts staged by [International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO)] and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at Oxford University." The most likely culprits in the unfolding, large-scale disaster? Pollution and climate change
, say the experts. What else is new, you say? Well, the schedule's been changed up: "Marine life facing mass extinction 'within one human generation,'... says global panel of scientists." [more inside]
"When a Nobel Prize Isn't Enough."
With a sharply-worded rebuke of the congressional GOP, Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond has announced he is withdrawing
as a candidate for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors due to GOP obstructionism. Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, a leading critic of Diamond's appointment, welcomes the announcement
and raises a predictable call for a candidate "capable of garnering bipartisan support in the Senate."
Obama Justice Department Finds DOMA Unconstitutional, Will Not Defend in Court
The Justice Department just today sent a letter
to John Boehner and other house leaders informing them of the decision. Here is the DOJ's official statement
on the decision.
Breitbart strikes again.
Conservative media activist and propagandist Andrew Breitbart made news again this week, bringing to light apparent video evidence of racism among the NAACP's ranks, in the form of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, who was allegedly caught on tape in a speech to the NAACP, admitting that race had influenced her decisions not to provide assistance to white farm workers
. But despite the fact that Sherrod was summarily dismissed from her USDA post as a result of Breitbart's accusations, the complete, unedited footage of the speech reportedly confirms Sherrod's claims that "her comments were taken out of context... that the anecdote was part of a larger story, one in which she explains how she overcame her initial prejudice"
and that in fact, the reported incidents took place before Sherrod worked for the USDA, when she worked for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund. The white farmers described in the story have since confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that, in fact, Sherrod saved them from bankruptcy
] [more inside]
BP agrees to set aside $20 billion for spill claims.
In a much anticipated deal brokered with the heads of the disgraced oil industry giant following on the heels of last night's speech from the Oval Office
, President Obama has received a commitment from BP to establish a $20 billion dollar escrow account to pay for economic damages related to the Deepwater Horizon's now estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrel a day oil gusher
in the Gulf of Mexico (also previously here
, and here
on the blue). Does this development render moot the politically perilous issue of retroactively lifting the $75 million dollar cap on oil company liabilities, which the DOJ recently declared legal
? Some are asking for more details
. NY Times asks: How much will BP really pay?
Darling of the far-right fringe Michelle Balkin cautions BP: "Don't be chumps! This is redistribution of wealth
." And fellow right-of-centrist Sarah Palin wants to call in the Dutch
Remember all the enthusiastic press coverage
about the all-important role Twitter played in helping to organize Iranian activists on the ground during the protests that sparked the Green Movement
after the last Iranian elections? (Discussed previously here
on the blue.) Some in the press even dubbed this period "Iran's Twitter Revolution"
. Think again, Golnaz Esfandiari argues in Foreign Policy's latest installment in its "Misreading Tehran" series, because "Simply put: There was no Twitter Revolution inside Iran.
Supreme Court Blocks Arizona Campaign Finance System.
After it's recent highly controversial
ruling in Citizens United Vs. Federal Election Commission
, which struck down longstanding Federal limits on corporate political spending (discussed previously here
on the blue), the court now seems poised to strike the last nail in the coffin of the possibility of public campaign finance reform by considering arguments over the constitutionality of public financing of political campaigns. [more inside]
For serious Poli Sci junkies only: the Swing State Project
is holding a contest
for best redistricting of New York, using the nerdtastic Dave's Redistricting App
. (Requires Silverlight, reading instructions highly recommended.) [more inside]
Landmark health care reform legislation passes senate on a Christmas-eve party line vote.
So after a turbulent and contentious legislative process with many sudden reversals
and last minute surprises
, what's actually in the bill? NPR offers a "Consumer's Guide"
to the form the final, reconciled legislation now seems likeliest to take. [more inside]
US News reports that in a new tell-all book, Tom Ridge admits manipulating terror threat levels for political motives.
In the forthcoming book, Ridge reportedly acknowledges for the first time that he was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he "saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over." But as The Atlantic
points out, Ridge apparently gave in to the White House demands anyway, resigning only after the election. Huffington Post
also provides additional discussion on this developing story.
In his latest national security speech, President Obama unequivocally reaffirms his commitment to closing GITMO.
President Obama's strong statements reaffirming his administration's commitment to cleaning up the legal and ethical mess the Bush administration left behind comes just after congressional Democrats recently saw fit to capitulate to the Republican minority by defunding President Obama's efforts to close GITMO
, ostensibly to ensure that President Obama proceeds prudently and avoids setting the terrorists loose on America's strip malls. But others interpret these latest maneuvers from the "weak-kneed"
congressional Dems as reflecting a sudden acute case of the political jitters, pointing out that, despite all the fearful talk of the imminent dangers of possible terrorists being held and tried on American soil, it's not as though we haven't done it before
. [more inside]
New Allegations Have Surfaced
that the US Is Effectively Holding Iraq's Oil Revenues
Hostage to Force through a Proposed Long-Term Strategic Alliance, Raising New
Questions about the US' Committment to an Independent, Self-Governing Iraq. The Deal,
Which in its Current Form is Said to Provide for an Indefinite American Military Presence and Blanket Immunity from Iraqi Law for All American Troops and Civilian Contractors, Is Understandably Not All That Popular with Many Iraqi Citizens
. Iraqi Lawmakers Have Also Expressed Doubts
about the Deal. (IRAQ WAR/POLITICS FILTER.)
"People are talking, but no one is really listening. For all the fun and fantasy that can be had following this election on the internet, the overriding impression it gives after a while is of tuning into thousands of people as they sit in their cars and complain about the traffic." David Runciman on "The Cattle-Prod Election."
Harry Reid accepted free boxing tickets
from the Nevada Athletic Commission says John Solomon of the AP. Solomon implies that Reid might have gotten himself into an ethical dilemma as the NAC
opposes the creation of a federal boxing commission, something the Senate was considering at the time
. The article also tosses in some digs at Reid by repeating the claim that Reid is involved in the Abramoff scandal
However, Media Matters points out
that Reid did not act in the NAC's favor and instead allowed the passage of legislation that would create a federal commission, in opposition to the giftgiver's wishes. This is not
the first time
Solomon has attacked Reid. Politics/News-filter