Posts Tagged ‘United States Congress’

Game Over for the Planet

November 19, 2014

Here is another message I just received from Moveon.org.

Dear MoveOn member,

In just hours, the Senate will vote on whether to push forward the Keystone XL pipeline—a disastrous and dangerous proposal that would, in the words of leading climate scientists and environmentalists, be “game over for the planet.”1

Either the Senate will send President Obama a Keystone pipeline bill TODAY—and we will need him to promise to veto it; or the Democrats will defeat the measure by one vote, which means that in just seven weeks, a new Republican majority will send him the pipeline—and we’ll need him to veto it in January.

Either way, President Obama is our last line of defense. So we’re joining with allies to mobilize grassroots support demanding that the president commit to vetoing the pipeline bill—today or early next year.

Will you chip in $3 to help stop the Keystone XL pipeline—and to push Democrats and President Obama to be bold in the fights ahead?

Yes, I’ll chip in.

We’ve already begun fighting back. We’re helping organize rallies outside wavering senators’ offices. We’re mobilizing calls to senators. And we’re providing organizers on the ground with access to MoveOn tools and connections to MoveOn members.  

We’re mobilizing because this is a hugely important fight on its own—and it’ll set the stage for the next two years.

When the Republicans take control of the Senate in January, we can expect a rush of right-wing, anti-climate, anti-science bills: a rollback of President Obama’s efforts to regulate carbon, bills to undermine his climate change agreement with China, and bills that give rein to the extractive practices of frackers, Big Coal, and Big Oil.

Following the midterms, some Democrats are feeling nervous—and they are hearing from the usual chorus of consultants and pundits who advise them that the way to win is to be more like Republicans. This is the kind of horrible advice that lost many Democrats their election—yet conservative Democrats continue to listen! And they won’t stop unless they feel sustained, passionate pressure from their grassroots base—the folks who they need to inspire in order to win future elections.

Will you chip in $3 to help us make sure Democrats stop the Keystone XL pipeline, stop listening to big oil and bad consultants, and fight for progressive values?

Yes, I’ll chip in to help stop Keystone XL and fight for progressive values.

This fight isn’t just a preamble to other environmental attacks—it foreshadows the large range of issues that the right-wing Republican leadership intends to tackle. We’ll face similar assaults on health care, women’s rights, equality, decent wages, Social Security, and civil rights.

In fight after fight, Republicans will push forward a radical agenda and then attempt to pick off a few Democrats to give them the supermajority they need, as well as the veneer of “bipartisanship.”

The only way to preserve affordable health care, see humane reforms in our immigration policy, ensure women make their own decisions about their health, and fully invest in Social Security is to make sure Democrats stand strong. And when the Democrats in the Senate falter, it will come to President Obama to be bold in the use of his veto pen.

Following the midterms, many Democrats are nervous. It’s our job to make them realize that the path to a stronger America, and to future electoral victories, isn’t through caving in—it’s through standing up for our shared values.

Whatever happens in the Senate today, we know one thing for sure: We’re going to need to be stubborn, strong, and stiff-spined for the next two years.

Can you chip in $3 to help us defeat the Keystone pipeline—and prepare for the fights ahead?

Yes, I’ll chip in.

Thanks for all you do.

Anna, Jo, Brian, Corinne, and the rest of the team

Are they serious? According to the geologists, this planet has been in existence for 4.57 billion years. In that time it has survived collision with an object the size of Mars, creating the Moon many other asteroid strikes including the one that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, whatever caused the extinction of ninety-five percent of all life at the end of the Permian Era, ice ages, climate changes, and who knows what else; only to be finally destroyed by a single pipeline.

The trouble I have with the Greens, besides their bullying and obvious lust for power, is that they seem to have some idea that the Earth has existed in a delicate, stable equilibrium from the beginning and that now Man has arrived to upset the balance. I think they get their ideas about nature from Bambi. The truth is that the Earth has changed drastically over the eons, in terms of climate, atmospheric content and even geography. For instance, during the Mesozoic Era (the Age of Dinosaurs), the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may have been as much as five times present levels, even without the nefarious activities of carbon polluters, causing a warmer Earth. Somehow life on the planet survived and even flourished. We have had ice ages over the last several millennia in which the glaciers extended not far north from where I am sitting, but the worst ice age, the glaciers extended almost to the equator. The only thing constant in the history of the Earth is that it is a dynamic, ever changing system. Even if everything the worst alarmists say about climate change were true, it would not mean the end for the planet. We might make ourselves very uncomfortable, perhaps even extinct, but the Earth will survive anything we could possibly do to it.

I should add that Canada is going to develop the tar sands regardless  of what we decide. If we don’t want the Keystone pipeline extended, they can just as easily sell the crude oil to China. I wonder which is a safer method of transporting oil, a pipeline or tankers. I should also add that if there is one thing needed to accomplish the goals Moveon.org says it wants, it would be a robust American economy powered by the recent surge in the energy industry. Rich countries with growing economies can afford to worry about decent wages and equal rights. Poorer countries mired in economic stagnation have to worry about surviving.

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Obama Being Bold

November 18, 2014

I got an e-mail from Moveon.org praising Obama for going ahead with his progressive policies, even though the majority of the voters indicated that they do not like such policies. Remember, the voters did not give the Republicans a historic victory because they have developed a great love for Mitch McConnell or John Boehner. They hated what Obama and the Democrats have been doing. Anyway, here is the message.

Dear MoveOn member,

After the midterm election, many of us wondered: How would President Obama respond?

So far, we’ve been happily surprised. As The New York Times reports, “Mr. Obama has flexed his muscles on immigration, climate change and the Internet, demonstrating that he still aspires to enact sweeping policies that could help define his legacy.”1

These are welcome moves. It appears the President is setting his own course instead of listening to corporate lobbyists and consultants. As I told the Times, “The president has seen what happens when he doesn’t step forward and Democrats don’t inspire the public or their base—we win on the issues, but lose at the polls—so we can’t do worse. Let’s try being bold.2

Click here to sign a thank-you card to the president for his actions and rhetoric since the midterms—and urge him to keep being bold.

There have been other promising signs from national Democrats this past week. Most excitingly: Senator Elizabeth Warren gained a leadership position in the Senate Democratic Caucus. From championing student loan reform to reining in Wall Street, Warren is one of the most passionate and effective voices for the little guy (and gal). Having her in leadership is a huge deal.

But there’s no getting around it: The president will be the last line of defense in the next two years, as the Republican-controlled Senate and House muscle through bad bills on a range of fronts. He’ll be under tremendous pressure to make bad deals with obstructionists and extremists like Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz.

For the next two years, President Obama will have the power to deliver real change—if he has the confidence to follow through with executive actions on issues like immigration reform and climate change, and to stand up to the radical right.

So we need to show support when the president does the right thing—and then push hard to make sure he follows through.

Click here to add your name to the card we’ll send the president. The card reads:

Dear Mr. President,Thank you.

Since the midterm election, you’ve indicated that you’re willing to show real leadership on tackling climate change, protecting a free and open Internet, and reforming immigration—pushing for bold steps in areas where Congress has failed to act.

You’re not alone: Americans from all walks of life want and need you to follow through, and do even more. We need you to use the power of the presidency to make meaningful change on these and other critical issues—like expanding access to health care, pushing for a diplomatic solution to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, raising wages, and building an economy that works for all of us, to name a few.

We urge you to act boldly, and promise to stand with you when you fight for all of us in the months ahead. (And yes, we’ll let you know when we disagree, too!) 

We’ll send President Obama this card, with the names of all the MoveOn members who have signed it—and a personal comment if you want to add one—so he knows that when he stands up for progressive values, we’ve got his back.

Add your name to the card—thank President Obama, urge him to be bold, and be a part of the movement to propel our shared agenda.

The president is showing the grit that inspired us to elect him. We need to get his back when he stands strong—and keep the heat on through the fights ahead.

Thanks for all you do.

–Anna, Alejandro, Nick, Justin K., and the rest of the team

They want him to go full Bourbon and double down on the very policies that lost him control of Congress. If I were more cynical, I would sign that card and do everything I could to encourage President Obama to pursue unpopular policies sure to be a millstone around the necks of every Democrat in 2016, Maybe we can have another tsunami. But, I am not that cynical. The country would be far better off if President Obama worked within the confines of the constitution and tried to meet the opposition halfway than if he tried to rule by decree. Trying to shove unwanted policies down the throats of the voters,, breaking the system in the meantime will only make things difficult for all of us.

king-Obama-2

He might lose his head.

 

 

Thankfully Dictatorial

June 9, 2014

In her article in the National Journal, Lucia Graves is thankful that Barack Obama has taken “dictatorial” action with the new regulations restriction carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, and in so doing has managed to solve the greatest problem in political theory.

In college classes, climate change is taught as a textbook example of where democracy fails. And there are a whole host of reasons to think America will fail on climate change: We’ve waited too long; the consequences aren’t as tangible as in other areas of policy; we’re bad at sacrificing in the short term to achieve in the long term.

President Obama, who on Monday rolled out landmark regulations for coal-fired power plants, has found a way around that age-old political problem posed by climate change and democracies, in part by acting a little bit more like a dictator. This is something he’s been skewered for on the right, with Rush Limbaugh accusing the White House of focusing on global warming just because “it offers the president opportunities to be dictatorial.”

Limbaugh is onto something, but he has it precisely backward: The decision to use executive authority is the means, not the ends. It also makes a lot of sense when it comes to global warming given Congress’s failure to pass the Waxman-Markey energy bill in 2009, and, for decades before that, to pass any sort of comprehensive climate legislation whatsoever.

Considering that a fairly large number of Americans do not place global warming high on the list of problems they want solved, it seems that democracy in America is working just fine, on this issue. Congress has not acted because there has not been much public pressure to act. What Lucia Graves really means, of course, is that democracy has failed on this issue because the public has the wrong opinion on this issue, so the problem cannot be resolved democratically. A little but of dictatorship is in order.

If a little bit of dictatorship is necessary to deal with climate change, why not with other issues? There must be quite a few problems facing this country that are difficult to resolve democratically. Consider the federal deficit. Almost everyone agrees that the federal budget ought to be balanced, yet the government continues to run a deficit every year. Most people want the government to cut spending, except for the government spending they happen to be in favor of. So, spending increases. I wonder if Lucia Graves would approve of a president who decided that since Congress cannot act to balance the budget, he will make out the budget himself without consulting with Congress. For that matter, I wonder if she would approve if President Obama’s successor simply reversed the emissions regulations with a stroke of his pen.

Progressives have been impatient with the whole concept of checks and balances at least since the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, if not before. In this view, checks and balances, rather than being a safeguard against tyranny, just get in the way of the wise and benevolent Tribunes of the People from doing good for everyone. If it so happens that the people don’t really know what is good for them, all the more reason for them to be ruled by those who know better. Unfortunately, people who wield power are seldom wise and benevolent and are usually most interested in what is good for themselves, which is why the framers of the constitution put in so many checks and balances. I wish that the people who write admiringly of President Obama’s “dictatorial” actions would think about what a president they thoroughly disapprove of could do if allowed to act as a dictator. Perhaps they would be less thankful of the example he is setting.

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My Friend Barack Obama

March 16, 2014

I got an e-mail from the president himself yesterday. He is a friend of mine.

 

Friend —

The top Republican in the House said Americans should judge them not on how many laws they pass, but on how many they repeal.

The top Republican in the Senate said his top priority wasn’t to create jobs or expand opportunity, but to beat me.

I want to work with Congress wherever I can to do the job the American people sent us here to do — but it turns out Republicans and Democrats have some very different ideas about what that means.

Let me level with you: The only way we’re going to achieve our goals is by electing more Democrats in 2014.

Chip in $3 or more to help elect Democrats to a Congress we can all be proud of:

https://my.democrats.org/Elect-Democrats-in-2014

Thanks,

Barack Obama

 

All right, it is just a fund raising form e-mail, but I still feel special.

 

Personally, I think that the best thing Congress could do would be to take a year or two off from passing laws and working on repealing a lot of the obsolete, stupid, redundant, or useless laws we already have. They should then use the following year to go through every single federal agency, department and bureau and get rid of the ones that are no longer needed, not doing any work, or are redundant. They could start with an audit of the IRS, followed by a determination whether or not the surveillance done by the NSA has actually prevented  any terrorist attacks. As far as I am concerned, the fewer new laws, the better.

Official photographic portrait of US President...

 

I also think that the best way to create jobs or expand opportunity would be for Barack Obama to get out of the way. The best way to keep him from doing any more damage would be to make sure a lot of Republicans get elected to Congress so we can have more gridlock. For this reason, even though Barack Obama is my friend, I cannot, in good conscience, contribute $3 to help get more Democrats in Congress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quality or Quantity

July 28, 2013

I was thinking about the e-mail I received from Organizing for Action the other day; the one criticizing Speaker Boehner for claiming that Congress should be judged by the number of laws that are repealed. It occurs to me that the standard they are using to judge Congress is based on the number of bills passed rather than whether the bills are actually good ideas. Surely it is better to pass one good law than ten bad ones, and surely it is better to repeal ten laws known to be bad than to pass one law which may be good. I really wish we could somehow get away from the mentality that the solution to any problem is pass legislation quickly without thinking too much about whether it might have any unintended consequences.

It is not too hard to imagine why politicians of every party prefer to be judged by quantity rather than quality and why they would rather not be judged by results. If people ever realized that they would be better off trying to solve their problems on their own, rather than expecting the government to do something, and that the sort of person who runs for office is the last one you should depend on,  then most politicians would be out of a job.

Do Nothing Congress

July 23, 2013

I got another email from Organizing for Action.

David —

Think about this:

Yesterday, the speaker of the House went on national TV and said that Congress “should not be judged on how many new laws we create,” but rather on “how many laws … we repeal.”

It’s just embarrassing. Within hours of his interview, Boehner’s remarks were making headlines across the country — and even overseas.

We elected our members of Congress to work on the issues we care about: creating jobs, fixing our immigration system, fighting climate change, and passing laws to reduce gun violence.

We didn’t put them in office to sit there and wind back the clock.

All next month, while our members of Congress are home on recess, we’ll be holding Action August events and making our voices heard. I’m asking you to help make sure they go back to Washington with a message for John Boehner.

Chip in $5 or more to support our grassroots organization today:

Thanks,

Jon

Jon Carson
Executive Director
Organizing for Action

P.S. — Last week, the House voted to kill or delay Obamacare for the 39th time. That’s the kind of obstructionism we’re up against. Donate today.

I am not ashamed at all. Considering that the Code of Laws of the United States of America runs to over 200,000 pages, I don’t think we have a shortage of laws.

I think that the best thing that Congress could possibly do for America would be to take a break from any new legislation for the next couple of years. Instead, they should go through the entire body of federal law and eliminate every law, regulation, statute that is unnecessary, burdensome, superfluous, or has an effect contrary to the intent of the legislators. First on the list would be Obamacare. After all this is done and the federal law code is streamlined and efficient, we can start passing new laws. It would probably be a good idea to include an expiration date for any new laws so that Congress can be forced to go back and investigate how effective the laws actually were.

This is not likely to happen, though. Until it does, I’ll settle for obstructionism.

 

Unicorns

May 8, 2013

I got another e-mail from Organizing for Action.

David —

If I said to you: “Unicorns exist, I totally just saw one galloping down the street,” most likely you’d give me a sad look and get on with your day.

But what if House Speaker Boehner and the chairman of the House Science Committee said they didn’t know if the science behind climate change was real. (Yeah. That actually happened.)

Now obviously, it doesn’t matter if I just make stuff up about unicorns. But it matters, and it matters a whole lot, that so many of our elected officials in Washington who represent us are denying science and using that denial to refuse to take action on climate change.

It’s actually dangerous — and it matters how we react.

Each and every day that congressional leaders hold on to their bizarre fantasy world, OFA is going to be there, not letting them get away with it.

Add your name and say you’re ready to hold climate deniers accountable.

We’re going to make them say it out loud — either double-down on their claims, or come to their senses. The National Academy of Sciences and more than 13,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers all confirm that the carbon pollution in our atmosphere today is causing dangerous climate change.

The sticky thing about the truth is that it’s the truth whether Congress likes it or not.

Unicorns don’t exist, climate change is real, and we said we weren’t going to let this go.

Sign here and help Congress get real:

http://my.barackobama.com/Hold-Climate-Deniers-Accountable

Thanks,

Ivan

Ivan Frishberg
Climate Campaign Manager
Organizing for Action

I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss out of hand an account of a unicorn viewing out. Although I have never seen a unicorn, that does not mean they don’t exist, although I have to admit the evidence that unicorns are real is slim. If a person who I know to be honest and not subject to hallucinations were to tell me that he saw a unicorn, I would believe that he either saw a real unicorn or something that resembled a unicorn until I found evidence to the contrary. On the other hand, if a person who has had a history of not being very honest or who has often made doomsday predictions that have never come to pass, than I would be more skeptical.

I do not believe that climate change is settled science. I am not a climate scientist, so it is not likely that I possess the information and training to determine that on my own. Nevertheless, I have observed that the people who have been pushing the climate change hypothesis have not acted in an honest or honorable fashion. There is the use of the word “denier” with the implied resemblance to Holocaust denial. This is not a scientific or logical argument. This is name calling. There is the rebranding of the name of the crisis. You never hear “global warming” any more. The expression now is “climate change”. Why is that? Could it be that the Earth has not warmed significantly in the past few decades? There are scientists who are apparently communicating with each other on the best means of manipulating data to obtain the desired results. Shouldn’t science be in the business of following where the data leads, even if it disproves a cherished hypothesis? What is carbon pollution? Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring component of the Earth’s atmosphere. Every animal exhales carbon dioxide as a waste product of respiration.

Then there is the fact that for most of my life I have been told that an environmental catastrophe is just around the corner unless drastic action, which somehow always seems to involve an expansion of government into everyone’s personal lives, is begun right now! There is no time to debate! We have to act! And yet, the catastrophe never comes. How many times do we have to listen to the boy who cried “Wolf!” before we stop listening to him?

It would be better if Ivan Frishberg stuck to believing in unicorns. Believing in unicorns would do a lot less damage.

 

Climate Deniers in Congress

April 30, 2013

It seems that Organizing for Action is going to shift to global warming/climate change/ climate chaos/ etc. after their embarrassing defeat on gun control.

David —

Right now, way too many lawmakers in Washington flat-out refuse to face the facts when it comes to climate change.

We’re never going to make real progress on this issue unless members of Congress get serious. Instead, some of them have made a habit of publicly mocking it.

We thought it was time to call them out for denying what’s basic science.

Watch this embarrassing video of climate deniers in Congress — and say you’re ready to help hold them accountable:

The science matters in this.

That’s the message way too many people in Washington need to hear right now.

In 2011, there were 240 members of Congress who voted to say that climate change is a hoax.

Most of them are still around today, and they’re getting away with it — some of them are actually proud of it. They think the whole debate is pretty funny.

If we want to make progress on climate change, we need everyone in Congress on board for a solution. It’s our job to show them there’s a price to pay for being a climate denier.

Take a look at this video and join the fight:

http://my.barackobama.com/Climate-Change

Get ready — more on this coming soon.

Thanks,

Jon

Jon Carson
Executive Director
Organizing for Action
@JonCarsonOFA

The use of the word “denier” is meant to suggest that questioning the hypothesis that the Earth is warmer due to man made carbon dioxide emissions and that drastic action involving increased government control of individual lives is necessary to combat this warming is equivalent to denying the historical fact of the Holocaust. It is a intellectually dishonest and despicable choice of wording and the use of “denier” is sufficient to indicate that the user does not have the facts on their side.

Here is the video. On the whole, I think it is only embarrassing for the people who made it. The politicians who are showcased actually seem to know what they are talking about, which is very odd.

Comments are disabled for the video on YouTube. I wonder why.

No the science is not overwhelming nor have the models that climate scientists have used turned out to be particularly accurate. The Earth is not currently warming to the extent they predicted. The Earth’s axial tilt does oscillate over time which does affect the climate, though what relation, if any, that long-term process has on recent shifts in climate, I do not know. The reference to the Vikings that the makers of this video found so humorous was probably a reference to the Medieval Warm Period, in which temperatures were probably somewhat higher than they are presently, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. During this period, the Vikings were able to colonize Greenland and even North America. When the climate became cooler in the thirteenth century, the Vikings were forced to abandon these colonies.

Mars’ ice caps seem to be melting. This is most likely a periodic phenomenon with no relation to events on Earth. Still, it would be very interesting and beneficial of we could get some idea how the temperatures have changed on other planets, especially Mars. It is certain that even insignificant changes in solar luminosity would have a far greater effect on the Earth’s climate than anything human beings could possibly do.

No, Mr. President. Hurricane Sandy, while devastating, was not unprecedented in size. There have been worse droughts in North America and droughts are a periodic phenomena, influenced by El Nino/La Nina more than our carbon emissions. When even the mainstream media is finally starting to admit that the world is not going to end, why does Organizing for Action feel they need to take action on this issue?

 

Barney Frank not Running in 2012

November 28, 2011
Representative Barney Frank, co-architect of t...

Image via Wikipedia

Here is a bit of good news. The most disgusting man in Congress, and I’m NOT saying that because he is gay, has decided not to run for reelection next year.

Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, a gay pioneer in Congress and a Massachusetts liberal whose name as well and fingerprints are on last year’s sweeping bill regulating Wall Street, announced plans Monday to retire at the end of his current term, his 16th in Congress.

“There are other things I would like to do with my life,” the 71-year-old lawmaker said at a news conference. He added that his retirement plans were hastened by two years by reapportionment, which moved 325,000 new constituents into his district.

My guess is that he has looked at the polls and decided he might have a chance of actually losing, though why his constituents didn’t throw him out years ago, after the gay prostitution scandal, I’ll never know.

Maybe he thinks he has done enough damage.

As a longtime member of the House committee that oversaw the banking and housing industries, he often worked to expand affordable housing and end redlining, a practice in which banks are accused of imposing onerous lending conditions on residents of inner cities and other poor neighborhoods.

Onerous lending conditions like actually being able to pay back the loans. This kind of legislation is, of course, why the housing market has collapsed.

I wish Mr. Frank well in whatever work he chooses to do in the future, as long as it has nothing to do with public affairs. He’s done enough there.

Update: I found this article on Drudge. Barney Frank is the seventeenth Democrat from the House of Representatives to decide not to run for reelection, as opposed to only seven Republicans. I wonder what is going on. They must fear big losses next year.

The Fall of the Republic

October 13, 2011

Here is what started me on such gloomy reflections.

Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that congressional opposition to the American Jobs Act is akin to the Confederate “states in rebellion.”

Jackson called for full government employment of the 15 million unemployed and said that Obama should “declare a national emergency” and take “extra-constitutional” action “administratively” — without the approval of Congress — to tackle unemployment.

“I hope the president continues to exercise extraordinary constitutional means, based on the history of Congresses that have been in rebellion in the past,” Jackson said. “He’s looking administratively for ways to advance the causes of the American people, because this Congress is completely dysfunctional.”

The Republic no longer functions. Hail Caesar Obama!!


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