Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Have a Bird


A Black-crowned Night Heron, from Lake Merritt's bird sanctuary.

Sorry no pics of the Bay Lights (yet) - last night was rainy, and crowded, so I decided to wait for the weekend to go get some shots. CBS did a very nice story on the light show, you can see that here.

Short news this morning, comments in italics...

Kornacki nails my thoughts. "It’s almost like the Tea Party won."
"Given all of this, it’s hard to see how Obama and Democrats will get their wish of a cancelled sequester anytime soon. Already, they’ve essentially decided not to pick a fight over the CR, with Obama signaling early that he won’t veto anything that reaches his desk and with House Democratic leaders indicating Tuesday that they won’t try to derail the House GOP’s plan. That GOP plan would reorder cuts in a way that protects some Defense programs but leaves the overall cuts of the sequester in place."

If Democrats continue to be perceived as not fighting for their base or their agenda, it's going to be that much harder to motivate people for 2014. Just sayin'.

And on cue, here's Paul Ryan to legislate the Tea Party fiscal agenda, going forward. "The GOP’s moving even further right on spending"
"If you look beyond the rhetoric and focus on the policy, House Republicans are proposing much harsher spending cuts this year than they did last year. On fiscal issues, the party has moved far to the right since the election... Soon enough, however, the Republican budget will reflect the newer, even harder-line House GOP. Their last budget didn’t balance until almost 2040. But in order to secure conservative votes to delay the debt ceiling for three months, House Speaker John Boehner and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan promised that the next budget would balance within 10 years."

It won't be pretty when released. Question is how the Dems and the country react to voucherizing Medicare, and massive cuts to everything else. If they continue to agree to this path... again, don't expect the voters to show. We've seen this movie before.

To Mr. Benen, who wonders about Republican priorities, perhaps tongue in cheek. "Canceled White House tours, not projected job losses, cause uproar."
"The Congressional Budget Office tells lawmakers sequestration would cost the U.S. economy 750,000 jobs, and it doesn't stop Republicans from calling the sequester a "victory." Congress is told the policy will hurt military readiness, and most of the GOP shrugs its shoulders. Republicans are told the sequester will hurt low income families who rely on WIC and Head Start, and GOP officials look the other way. But told that President Obama is halting White House tours, Republican lawmakers respond, "He did what?"

The latest Manufactured Outrage. As I said to a co-worker yesterday, they are pissed because they have to personally call these tour groups, and it's hard to believe that is such a horrible thing for them anyway. After all, it's another chance to bash Obama. They don't have to face the woman whose baby formula is cut off, or the people who are going to lose their jobs. It's another absurd distraction to keep you from thinking about the real damage this is going to do. The media, of course, eats it up, because it's a real easy target.

Watch the CR. Senate Dems talk of "flexibility" for areas other than defense, but will they get it? "Mikulski looks to build on GOP continuing resolution."
"Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, has scaled back her plans to substitute a government-wide omnibus package and is focused instead on writing a hybrid bill that will include full-year budgets for at least several major Cabinet departments beyond Defense and Veterans Affairs. The House is slated to vote Wednesday on its bill and, assuming passage, Mikulski’s plan is to build on that continuing resolution, or CR, once it arrives in the Senate."

Democrats should demand the debt ceiling be extended in the CR. Now. "Are we heading for another debt ceiling fight?"
"The question remains, though, whether conservatives will pressure the House GOP leadership to provoke another standoff around the debt ceiling and to demand more spending cuts — such as to entitlements, which are mostly exempt from the sequester — in exchange for any hike. And here, you have to hope that John Boehner will be able to tamp down any desire for further confrontation by pointing out that Republicans are already getting deep spending cuts with the sequester. But this is hardly assured."

What's new in energy? Nothing that can include Congress. "EPA, Energy Department can tackle climate change on several fronts."
"Now that President Obama has selected his top climate and energy policymakers, having nominated Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Ernest Moniz as energy secretary and Environmental Protection Agency air and radiation administrator Gina McCarthy to head EPA, the question still looms: how much can they get done using executive authority alone? The answer: quite a lot, but it will involve taking some political risks. So here’s a list of some of the options McCarthy and Moniz will take, assuming both of them win confirmation."

Real world sequester consequences. "Budget cuts threaten work at leaking nuke tanks"
South-central Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation is home to 177 underground tanks, which hold toxic and radioactive waste left from decades of plutonium production for the country's nuclear weapons arsenal. The Energy Department recently found that six tanks at the site are leaking... In a letter to Inslee, the Department of Energy estimated it will have to eliminate $92 million for its Office of River Protection, which oversees efforts to empty the tanks and build a plant to treat the waste. The cuts will result in furloughs or layoffs impacting about 2,800 contract workers, the agency said."

The Columbia River is a mere five miles away. There is concern about the groundwater. But hey, DC tourism is FAR more important that this, right?

And we're off on the day...