I was pleasantly surprised to see this story on the BBC's site today:
Seven Hong Kong policemen have been arrested in connection with the beating of a pro-democracy protester.
A police statement said the officers, who had already been suspended, were detained on suspicion of "assault resulting in grievous body harm".
Can you imagine this happening in the United States? Ever? Hong Kong protesters have protections that Americans don't have. Imagine that. Impunity for American police offers needs to end, or we should just stop pretending that we are a free country.
Or, rather, over the light downhill slope.
Minutes ago, Boehner called off the vote on 'Plan B'. What this means is that a Republican fantasy proposal, far to the right of anything that the most conservative Democrat might accept, couldn't get a majority of the House, because too many Republicans are still unwilling to vote for any tax increase at all, ever ever ever. Even preserving the tax cuts on the first $1 million is not enough for them.
What this means is that a deal before Jan. 1 is now impossible. If Boehner couldn't get a majority for that, he can't get a majority for anything.
So what happens now?
Update: title changed to be more specific.
Folks, we are supposed to be the reality-based people. Yet, once again, the #1 recommended diary on this site is a complete fantasy.
There is no evidence that Paul Krugman has been offered a job in the Obama administration, other than the claims of a diarist who says "reports surfaced" but is unable to point to such reports, and who has a track record of false claims. Such an offer would represent a huge shift in Obama's economic policy, but we've seen no evidence of such a shift.
Please, when a diary makes an extraordinary claim, let's apply a bit of skepticism before promoting it to the top of the rec list. We damage the reputation of the site when we recommend false information.
In 1996, Bill Clinton succeeded in enacting a key Republican priority, fulfilling a campaign promise to "end welfare as we know it". In the boom times of the late 1990s this seemed like a winner, though those of us who didn't believe the hype about the "long boom" had no trouble predicting the consequences of placing a lifetime limit of five years on benefits paid by federal funds.
As the New York Times reports, the consequences have come due:
About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by The New York Times.
When a Democrat, seeking political advantage, enacts a Republican priority, the result is that the American landscape has been permanently altered. And welfare reform is only one example; my purpose isn't to pick on Bill Clinton in particular.
Since yesterday was the end of a quarter, I've been receiving several DCCC mailings a day, talking about how terrible it is that the Republicans are blocking health care reform. And now we're also supposed to cheer for Alan Grayson because he pointed out with strong language that the Republicans are blocking health care reform and people are dying as a result.
The problem is that the DCCC, and Rep. Grayson, are not telling the truth. Grayson's done a service in pointing out that every day we delay, hundreds more die from lack of coverage, but just like the DCCC, he's choosing the wrong target. Republicans are not blocking health care reform. They'd like to, but they are utterly powerless.
Democrats are blocking health care reform. Grayson either needs to face up to that fact, or else admit that he's just playing a partisan game.
Today I received a letter from Jon Vogel, director of the DCCC.
The Republican strategy to defeat health insurance reform is simple: poison the debate with lies and then drown us out by yelling and screaming as loud as they can.
Fair enough. But the remedy Mr. Vogel suggests is that I contribute money to the DCCC. My response is on the flip.
The Senate Democrats now find themselves in a dangerous position: now that they theoretically have a 60-seat supermajority, the public will expect action. If the Republicans continue to be able to block legislation by allying with conservative Democrats, the resulting demoralization is likely to turn off the public, discourage the base, and result in Republican gains in future years.
The solution is for the leadership of the party to start playing hardball. The filibuster is an anti-democratic measure that used to be used on in exceptional circumstances. It was never the intent of the rules to require 60 votes for every measure. Yet we currently treat the most moderate Republicans and the most conservative Democrats as the most powerful members of the Senate: the filibuster threat means that they get to shape legislation, against the will of the majority of the country. So what to do?
It turns out that Big Coal and their Blue Dog allies attached provisions to the energy bill that repeal a key part of the Clean Air Act and removes the EPA's authority to fight global warming. From the LA Times:
Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of heat-trapping gases that cause global warming, but President Obama's plan to fight climate change would result in the nation burning more coal a decade from now than it does today.
With the retirement of David Souter, we'll hear all kinds of noises from the right about how Obama must choose a moderate (read: conservative) nominee or else there will be a filibuster. President Obama should head them off at the pass. Enough current Republican senators have stated, on the record, that a judicial filibuster is constitutional to prevent a filibuster from occurring. For example, Obama could point out that Sen. Hatch is an honorable man, who has taken an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, and that he wrote that judicial filibusters are unconstitutional. Ditto for Sen. McConnell.
Just imagine if Democrats actually had message discipline, and they all consistently said, every time anyone mentioned "filibuster", that it can't happen, and saying that it will happen is insulting to their Republican colleagues. They could just play all innocent, and say "Are you accusing the Republicans of hypocrisy here? Because I certainly am not! We're going to have up-or-down votes, just they way they like it."
UPDATE: Prof. Cole's blog is called "Informed Comment", you need to know that. :-)
Juan Cole is being beaten for Best Middle East or Africa blog (in the 2008 Weblog Awards) by a neocon by the name of Michael J. Totten (the kind of guy the Wall Street Journal happily publishes on its op-ed page).
We need to turn this around, and it would also benefit the public greatly if a Weblog Award got more people to read Prof. Cole and actually learn a thing or two about the Muslim world.
Please vote now for Informed Comment. Thanks.
Because of Barack Obama's large lead, he's in a position to agree to a generous settlement of the matter of Michigan and Florida: delegations that represent the will of those states' voters can be seated, with the same penalty that was assessed by the Republicans.
If this is done, Obama would retain an insurmountable pledged delegate lead, and a major talking point for both Clinton and for McCain is off the table.
Details after the jump.
Yesterday Rachel Maddow said this on Countdown:
I feel like I‘ve become kind of a semi-pro listener to the news, where I‘m always listening for Democratic candidates and even their surrogates to say John McCain. Every time I hear them say it, a little bell goes off in my mind, because that‘s what I think Democrats—anybody who has an interest in John McCain not becoming president, whether or not you support Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Ralph Nader or anybody else in the race, Mike Gravel as the Libertarian, if you want John McCain to not win, you have to start hitting him now, because the default position of the press toward John McCain is so positive that unless other candidates are actively and specifically going after him all the time, his free ride takes him right to the White House.
But too many Kossacks spend all their energy attacking Hillary Clinton instead, even though she's already lost. Vastly more recommended diaries attack Clinton than attack McCain. And surrogates for both campaigns are fighting each other in destructive terms (mostly from the Clinton side, since they are desperate).