Longtime friend of LGM Jamie Mayerfeld has an excellent piece about Gitmo. I share some of Adam’s concerns about the remedy of immediately releasing anybody who can’t be charged with a crime, but keeping people indefinitely detained without charges isn’t an acceptable outcome and given Congress’s irresponsibility I can’t say I have a better alternative.
This being the House it’s hard to be too optimistic, but the House Judiciary Committee has formed a task force, and at least some of its members will use it to focus on the mass incarceration crisis.
This morning, Korman repeatedly slammed his hand down on the table for emphasis, interrupting the government counsel’s every other sentence with assertions like, “You’re just playing games here,” “You’re making an intellectually dishonest argument,” “You’re basically lying,” “This whole thing is a charade,” “I’m entitled to say this is a lot of nonsense, am I not?” and “Contrary to the baloney you were giving me …” He also accused the administration of hypocrisy for opposing voter ID laws but being engaged in the “suppression of the rights of women” with the ID requirement for the drug.
Frank Amanat, arguing on behalf of the administration, said that the court had overreached by ordering a particular policy rather than remanding to the agency for further review. But he could not say, in response to repeated demands from Korman, that the result would be any different if it were returned to the agency. Nor did he specify any harm that would come from making the drug more available.
“The irony is that I would be allowing what the FDA wanted. This has got to be one of the most unusual administrative law cases I have ever seen,” Korman said, adding, “I would have thought that on the day I handed down my decision, they would be drinking champagne at the FDA.”
Thanks to djw for sending this my way.
In a way, I admire the rationality of the voters in SC-1 (although their political goals are wrong.) And the thing is, I don’t think anybody really believes that being a good spouse has anything to do with being a good public official. Do you think George W. Bush was a better president than FDR? Would you vote for Goldwater over Lyndon Johnson? Me neither, so I don’t think this vote is all that odd either.
I was really impressed by this comment I found under one of my entries:
I hate pink too, but it’s probably a bad idea to encourage her to think that it’s inherently good to like masculine-coded things and bad to like feminine-coded things (and I may be wildly overinterpreting your comment here).
There are too many women like (and including) me (gender non-conforming women, women in male-dominated fields) who spend years working through their own internalized sexism because, in a reaction against the crap that they were getting from the world for being different, they picked up the idea that masculinity was something to take pride in and femininity was something to stamp out in oneself. Compulsory non-femininity is not any better than compulsory femininity.
I cannot “this” this enough.
I wrote an entry at my old joint about what I call “novelty girls,” that is girls/women who luxuriate in the idea that they are snowflakes, that they are not like “those other girls.” They attain novelty girl status because they are misogynists like Sarah Palin or by engaging in an activity (like, say hunting or gaming) that is typically not thought of as feminine. When confronted with the idea that a woman is doing something masculine the impulse is often to think of it is cool…because stuff guys do is inherently cool, right? And all too often when we decide these activities are inherently cool, we simultaneously decide that anything that is “girly” is inherently uncool. I can’t express to you how unfortunate I think that is.
[I am now going to pause and say how much I loath having to put things in terms as simplistic as "girly" and "masculine." People are people and have far-flung interests, regardless of gender. But for the purposes of shorthanding this conversation I'm going to use these qualifiers, even though they kind of make me want to vomit. ]
As I said in my original entry touching on this topic, it’s silly to think of any woman as novelty. If there’s a hobby or sport or art form or geeky pursuit, there’s a woman getting into it right now. So there’s that. But there’s also the fact that lot of girly stuff is just dead cool.
So what’s a girly pursuit? I suppose it could be anything from pinning things on Pinterest (which I think is a neat way to assemble things that aesthetically pleasing or to visually organize your thoughts) to sewing to crafting to scrapbooking. Things like crafting and scrapbooking are the most egalitarian form of art. That is, they give everyone a chance to dive right in, be creative, have fun and maybe even make something beautiful. It’s play. I think that is AWESOME. This world would be a better place if people played more often.
So rather than turning our noses up at girly stuff, I say we freaking embrace it, and make it as cool as any masculine endeavor. Because it is, dammit.
You may remember Niall Ferguson from such incidents as “making isolated spontaneous homophobic comments that he’s also been committing to print for decades.” Now that he’s been criticized for his attacks on Keynes — which were not merely gay-baiting but involved egregious misreadings of his work– he wishes to note that even when he’s acting as a buffoonish sixth-rate reactionary pundit he’s also a Serious Scholar, so you filthy unnamed “bloggers” should show some respect.
The first part of the argument is a definitive use of the tu quoque fallacy — Keynes also made some objectionable remarks, neener neener! Since nobody is saying that Keynes should be beyond any criticism (as opposed to criticism that botches his work or attacks him based on his sexuality), this is just an irrelevant diversion. Then, the Great Scholar engages in some classic whining:
What the self-appointed speech police of the blogosphere forget is that to err occasionally is an integral part of the learning process. And one of the things I learnt from my stupidity last week is that those who seek to demonize error, rather than forgive it, are among the most insidious enemies of academic freedom.
This is absolutely pathetic stuff. Arguing that somebody should be fired for expressing political views you disagree with is a threat to academic freedom. Criticizing academics when they say foolish things, or calling gay-baiting what it is, does not make one an enemy of academic freedom. Given how remarkably shoddy Ferguson’s work in pundit mode is I can understand why he wants to invent a right to be exempt from any criticism he doesn’t like, but academic freedom means pretty much the opposite of what he’s pretending to think it means.
Jonathan Chait makes an interesting argument for Obama as “the environmental president,” but I think it is the wrong question to ask.
Chait’s argument is that despite the failure of the 2010 cap and trade bill, the almost certain approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and other disappointments to environmentalists, Obama has actually done a great deal behind the scenes to fight climate change. That includes increasing mileage standards for automobiles, energy efficiency in appliances, and emissions standards for power plants. These are all good things.
In some ways, Chait is right, but I think the article also reflects a larger problem of focusing too much on the legacy of presdients. First, Obama may well apply the Clean Air Act aggressively. I hope he does. It might create massive changes. But executive authority without legislative backing and court appointments to uphold challenges is a very tenuous and perhaps temporary way to create change. I think the auto industry is just waiting for the next Republican to take the Oval Office to challenge those mileage standards. I think Republican-dominated federal courts will overturn much that Obama can do.
In other words, the issue is not Obama’s legacy. It’s the national response to the greatest environmental crisis in world history. Obama is a major player here, but the nation as a whole has done so little to fight climate change and what has happened on the executive level can be reversed by another executive. At the same time, Obama should not be blamed too much for the failure of climate change legislation to pass because he can’t just wish it to be true. The real problem with the nation making the necessary improvements on climate change issues is the intransigence of the Republican Party with assists from coal state Democrats. Obama can do what he wants, but without a broad legislative commitment, I am skeptical about how much real change he or any other president can really create long term.
Similarly, there’s no question that the Keystone pipeline is a symbol since it alone is not going to make or break the climate, but it’s also a very important symbol. Here is an opportunity for the president to stand up and say that his administration will fight climate change, even at political cost. It’s clear he won’t do that, even though mining oil sands are about the worst thing we can do to the climate.
It is also worth noting that environmentalists themselves are devastated by the failure of cap and trade. Chait cites a Nicholas Lemann New Yorker piece on the bill’s failure. I haven’t read that. But I was a guest at an event at Harvard in February that Lemann moderated. Organized by Theda Skocpol, it was a general discussion about the bill’s failure that included some of the nation’s leading environmentalists. They were despondent. I felt like I was in a meeting of the labor movement about how no one listens to the AFL-CIO anymore. The entire environmentalist structure of creating legislative change–marshaling scientific expertise, professional testimony, lobbying, and funding politicians–completely failed. Environmentalists are becoming the next labor movement–easy for Democrats to ignore because they know that enviros will still write checks in the end.
So I don’t think Chait can so easily say that environmentalists are off base in their criticism of the Obama Administration to do enough on climate change, given how universal and deeply held their feelings are about the failure of that bill.
There’s also the more minor issue that Obama has been downright disappointing to those who prioritize public land management, energy production, and other environmental issues. Although he has created a few wilderness areas, his administration has also approved a lot of new oil and gas drilling on public lands. His selection of Ken Salazar as his first Secretary of Interior was predictably bad. Basically, I just don’t think Obama much cares about public lands. Of course, presidents do tend to cement their public lands legacies in the last years of their administration. So while we might say that Obama has been good on climate change, he hasn’t been particularly good on most other environmental issues.
In the end, as Chait points out, the nation may have seen greenhouse gas emission reductions since Obama took power, but they are almost all for reasons outside of his climate agenda–the bad economy, low natural gas prices as a result of the fracking boom, young people driving less and living in cities. This might tell us more about how change is created than focusing on presidential power.
Remember the West, Texas factory explosion. It’s been 2 weeks and the story has almost completely disappeared from the media while CNN continued its 24-hour coverage of the latest details in the Boston Marathon bombings at least until late last week. The lack of follow-up coverage is a huge boon to capitalists who prefer that nothing change in the lax regulatory culture that plagues this nation and especially Texas.
That said, the Texas legislature did hold hearings last week on the explosion in West, showing the utter lack of regulation that not only would allow a fertilizer plant to be next to a middle school and nursing home in West, but also a lack of knowledge about where fertilizer plants are actually located. This shoddy regulation says so much about the United States in 2013:
But since ammonium nitrate isn’t considered an “extremely hazardous” chemical by state and federal agencies, plants only have to report to authorities if they have more than 10,000 pounds of it on hand. The state could have stricter reporting requirements if it chose to, according to David Lakey, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The maximum amount the West Fertilizer plant reported to the state was 270 tons.
And the burden for communities to know where these chemicals are stored, and how to respond to emergencies at facilities that store them, falls on local officials. There are over 14,000 facilities in Texas that self-report having “extremely hazardous substances” on site, according to Lakey of DSHS. Representatives from that agency testified that chlorine and battery acid are the most common hazardous substances near communities, but that they only oversee reporting, not safety.
“Have we done anything to survey the 41 [fertilizer plants] because of what happened in West?” Pickett asked.
W. Nim Kidd, Assistant Director of DPS and Chief of Emergency Management, answered that his agency doesn’t do surveys, but local fire chiefs have the authority to go in and inspect those facilities.
“Could you suggest that to them?” Pickett asked, wondering if the agency could do more to encourage local fire officials to conduct inspections and prepare emergency response plans.
Last week, I talked to Patrik Jonsson of the Christian Science Monitor about how industry and pro-industry politicians use terrorist threats as an excuse to hide the location of hazardous materials from the public. (Part of my interview with Jonsson was also used in this piece). The Dallas Morning News tried to find out where fertilizer plants are located in Texas:
After the state, in response to media requests for more information about other fertilizer plant sites, invoked a little-known “confidential information” law that gives wide secrecy discretion to government officials, the Dallas Morning News’ editorial board wrote that avoiding tipping off potential terrorists is understandable, “[b]ut in the process of keeping terrorists guessing, [the state] denied the right [of West residents] to make informed choices and protect themselves from imminent danger.”
Industry uses terrorism as a bogeyman. Corporations have opposed right-to-know laws for decades. Terrorism is just a convenient excuse. If terrorists want to attack a chemical facility, there are thousands of poorly secured plants in the open they can target. Moreover, I am going to say this really slow and in bold letters to make this extra easy to understand,
If fertilizer plants are too dangerous to let people know where they are located, they are too dangerous to place next to middle schools and nursing homes.
If there is a real terrorist threat against fertilizer plants, then we need to regulate them like nuclear power plants. Place them away from neighborhoods and under the highest level of security with maximum regulation.
But of course, that’s not what corporations want and it’s extremely unlikely to happen because the terrorism threat is just fear-mongering and excuse-making.
One source of good Texas workers news at least–the United Auto Workers has won an election to represent workers at an Arlington auto parts factory.
A humble public servant is finally able to trade up from one of his modest vacation homes:
It’s good to be a wildly successful head coach of athletes who don’t get paid. Nick Saban will make $5.6 million in base salary this year, so it’s time to trade up from his North Georgia vacation home. Because sometimes, an $11 million house with a freaking lighthouse isn’t swank enough.
Via the Atlanta Business Chronicle, “The Pointe on Lake Burton” is up for auction next month, originally listed at $10.95 million, but selling without reserve. It’s a lovely little waterfront property in Clayton, Ga., nestled on a peninsula jutting out into Lake Burton, “the queen of the southern lakes,” as the listing puts it.
In conclusion, if one of Saban’s players received a free pair of shoes or an extra Big Mac on a recruiting visit, the Noble Ideals of Amateurism would be destroyed forever.
This is relevant to very few people outside of the 1st Congressional District in the state of South Carolina. The district has a PVI of R+11 (I’m surprised that it’s that low), has been represented by Republicans since January 1981, and voted +18 for Romney. That the word “competitive” ever enters the discourse on this race speaks volumes about the quality of the Republican’s Appalachian Trail candidate (due in court two days following the election) who must “rise from the ashes” in order to win. Most of the analysis really goes out on a limb in a) predicting a low turnout election, and b) the candidate who mobilizes their support best is more likely to win. In anything other than a Presidential election, that usually can be interpreted as “not the Democrat”.
Regardless of the idiosyncrasies of the candidates, the structural conditions favor a Republican blowout. The best electoral context for Democrats in this district in recent times was in November, and Democrats got hammered. Any decline in turnout will impact the two parties asymmetrically; a May election in an odd year is the worst possible case for Democratic turnout. However, even though the polling has been all over the map on this one, it’s currently (according to PPP) a one point Sanford lead. That Colbert Busch might win is remarkable, but I’m not betting on it. Even if she does win, she’d likely be one of the first Democrats to fall in 2014.