Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Heads Up


Random picture from Art Prize.

Ferguson violence broke the mold in three ways — one of which is just unfolding now
Wes Lowery from the WaPo has been a part of Ferguson from August on; first getting arrested for being a journalist who didn't move fast enough, into covering the entire story. He and Marc Fisher take a look at what is unfolding now.

Finally, what distinguishes Ferguson from the crowded historical catalogue of racially-motivated street violence is what has happened in recent weeks: The unseemly buildup to the announcement of the grand jury’s conclusion that no crime was committed in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown has produced an expectation of ugliness. What occurred Monday night — and may continue in the days ahead — is rioting as planned event, so pervasively predicted, so extensively prepared for as to obscure the power and meaning of the protests.

As of this writing, I think he's (and Dylan Scott at TPM, echoing some of the same feeling) wrong about the power being obscured - the sheer size and number across the country has been astounding. Themes from the remnants of Occupy appear, messages about jobs and economic inequality are out there on signs and in interviews with protesters. Will Thanksgiving dampen the protests, or will it pick up again with WalMart strikers on Black Friday?

Sometimes I feel this is rolling into one big on-going movement with a message about power in America, which leads to this...

This Is What Power Looks Like
Rebecca Traister at the New Republic hits on an important underlying theme to the latest news stories - the powerful as victim. Gun-toting Police Officer Wilson, Wealthy Celebrity Cosby, the Revered Institution University of Virginia, have all managed to portray their victims as the problem. There's something to this that needs to be explored further.

They have offered us a clear and chilly view of how power works: How it is communicated to the public and how it is carefully manipulated by those who have it. How the powerful manage to play the victim and turn power into a slippery force that slides right off of them and briefly appears to stick to the very bodies that grievously lack it. This month’s stories have made this transfer of power obvious. Mighty figures and institutions have been described as vulnerable, while those they have harmed are made to seem monstrously huge and threatening.

Poll: Obama's immigration policy popular, but approach isn't
Boom. While people are somewhat uncomfortable with the executive approach, overall the approve of the policy and wish the GOP would stop being jerks about it. (Jon Chait has a very nice piece on how the R "obstruct everything" strategy fails on immigration)

Only 26% of Americans think Obama's plan for those immigrants goes too far, while 50% called it about right and 22% said it doesn't go far enough... when asked for their stance on Obama using an executive order to make those changes, just 41% said they favor the move, while 56% said they oppose it... 76% said the GOP should spend more time passing immigration reform legislation -- something Obama repeatedly prodded his Republican critics, especially in the House, to do -- while just 21% said the party should focus on overturning Obama's policies.

E.P.A. to Introduce Sweeping New Controls on Smog-Causing Ozone Emissions
Will always wonder if it might have been better to take all these actions before the election rather than after.

The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama’s administration.

Gina McCarty has a nice op-ed on the rule at CNN, National Journal has a detailed look and the coming Republican fight. Let the clean air begin.

Supreme Court to review EPA mercury emission rules
This case may have an effect on the rules above, not to mention other EPA mandates. One to watch.

The justices on Tuesday agreed to hear complaints from 21 states and industry groups that regulations first imposed in 2000 on coal- and oil-fired utilities are too expansive and expensive. It was the latest twist in an on-again, off-again effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to cut down on emissions that can pose a health threat, particularly to children and pregnant women who consume fish from polluted waters. The EPA first imposed regulations in 2000 under President Bill Clinton, reversed field in 2005 under President George W. Bush, and reversed itself again in 2012 under President Obama.

Obama Threatens To Veto Corporate Tax Cut Deal For Locking Out Middle Class
Apparently Harry Reid was going to sell us all out on the now-yearly "tax extenders" battle and the WH said "no." Cool beans. Read the link for details.

The administration quickly cried foul over providing billions of dollars in permanent corporate aid without including aid for the middle class. Both Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House press secretary Josh Earnest delivered clear rebukes of the talks on Monday. "An extender package that makes permanent expiring business provisions without addressing tax credits for working families is the wrong approach, at the expense of middle class families," said Lew in a press statement. "Any deal on tax extenders must ensure that the economic benefits are broadly shared."

Why congressional Republicans are losing the battle against themselves
Having the Republicans in the majority just might shine the spotlight on how fractious they really are. With the racist Tea Party now going full guns on immigration, the R "base" just might implode in a ball of unsatisfied rage and take the whole shebang down with 'em.

But it’s unlikely that they’ll be particularly effective at that last goal if they’re constantly looking within. Today we also learned that Jonathan Gruber will be testifying before the House, which I guarantee is something that will have lots of members excited. In some ways it’s the perfect microcosm of the GOP’s current status. Republicans will go in sure that they’re really going to stick it to Obama this time, do a lot of gavel-pounding, and find that they accomplished little but giving conservative media something to talk about for another day.

Check out my fav Charlie Pierce for more on this. You won't be sorry.

Congressional Oversight Doesn’t Have to Be a Benghazi-Style Joke
David Dayden shows how Carl Levin's Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations brought the big banksters to heel on consumer protections, derivatives, commodities, the list goes on, most of this stuff way too technical for mass media consumption. Carl called them out, let's hope Warren can fill the very big void when he leaves.

Carl Levin’s career includes plenty of legislative accomplishments. But these investigative accomplishments almost overshadow them. Politicians should not be judged merely by the laws they pass, but the difference they make. Late in his career, Levin showed that aggressive investigation and oversight can drive real policy improvements. Not only will he be sorely missed, but so will that spirit of following the evidence, questioning power and exposing the truth.

Chuck Schumer Is Trash Talking Obamacare Again—And He's Still Not Making Any Sense
Actually, Chuck's bungling of the message points to the biggest problem for Democrats overall - and that is, bungling the message. So, no more Schumer, please. Or, get him a better speechwriter. Beutler is right though (and so is Weigel); Schumer is indulging in a bit of rose-colored glasses revisionist history when he implies that economic stimulus measures could have been bigger. In the end, what could have been a gentle critique that pointed to a better future strategy turned into a bunch of headlines that implied more infighting in the party.

This is an appealing theory, but it's fantastical. The health care reform process didn’t begin in earnest until after the Recovery Act had already passed, at which point Congress' willingness and ability to pass another big deficit-financed stimulus bill had been maxed out. Maybe Schumer has other ideas in mind—labor rights? Housing policy? A different entitlement?—but he’s never laid out what the achievable alternative was, and how the middle-class and Democratic Party would've been better off as a result.

Nancy Pelosi gives 14 million reasons why Chuck Schumer is wrong
Nancy has a point that shouldn't be overlooked: The House passed a bigger economic stimulus and jobs bill, the Senate couldn't manage to boost the measures Chuck is now complaining about. But, keep in mind that the window was very small with the health of both Byrd and Kennedy creating absence, and the seating of Franken delayed. They didn't really have the time that people think they did.

They also took issue with the notion that the House, under Pelosi's speakership, wasn't focused on the economy after Obama was elected. An aide noted that the House passed a jobs bill the Democratic-led Senate did not take up, and the original version of the stimulus bill the House passed was larger than the final version the Senate approved.