Keystone Pipeline

As part of the two-month exten­sion of the pay­roll tax cut, GOP offi­cials demand­ed an expe­dit­ed deci­sion on the project.

And Oba­ma did the only thing he could do giv­en that lim­i­ta­tion. He stopped the project.

Steve Benen at The Wash­ing­ton Month­ly, at the end of his post on the sub­ject, includes this claim that Oba­ma’s deci­sion was an act of courage:

Bill McK­ibben, founder and Key­stone XL protest leader,issued a state­ment this after­noon, laud­ing Pres­i­dent Oba­ma. “[T]his isn’t just the right call, it’s the brave call,” McK­ibben said. “The knock on Barack Oba­ma from many quar­ters has been that he’s too con­cil­ia­to­ry. But here, in the face of a naked polit­i­cal threat from Big Oil to exact ‘huge polit­i­cal con­se­quences,’ he’s stood up strong.”

Ann Alt­house thinks the deci­sion was pure politics:

It was­n’t so much a ques­tion of whether he should make the right deci­sion or do what would help him get re-elect­ed. It was which way to decide would bet­ter help him get re-elected.

Alt­house is prob­a­bly clos­er to the truth.

I may be mis­tak­en, but I detect a hint of snark in Alt­house­’s com­ment. Since Oba­ma has stopped try­ing to com­pro­mise with the Repub­li­cans and start­ed being more con­fronta­tion­al, I have come across many com­plaints from the right about how Oba­ma is now in “cam­paign” mode.

Of course they com­plain of it. Oba­ma is very good at cam­paign­ing, too good from the GOP per­spec­tive. If they did not want him in cam­paign mode, they should have been more coop­er­a­tive when he was in “gov­ern­ing” mode.

Also from Benen’s post:

I’d argue that this is the out­come Repub­li­cans want­ed all along. The GOP didn’t real­ly want the pipeline; they want­ed the abil­i­ty to whine about the absence of the pipeline. This wasn’t, in oth­er words, about ener­gy pro­duc­tion; this was about cre­at­ing an issue for the 2012 campaign.

I agree with that. But I think this back­fires on the GOP (though in the end it won’t mean much either way). Oba­ma now gets cred­it from the lib­er­als for stop­ping the project and can per­sua­sive­ly argue to mod­er­ates that the GOP tied his hands.

Which One Is Right? I Know This! Why Don’t You?

I heard this on the radio yes­ter­day morn­ing, but by the time I got home I could not remem­ber what it was I had heard and want­ed to blog about. Well, I fig­ured some­one else would men­tion it to jog my mem­o­ry. And some­one else did!

Steve Benen at the Wash­ing­ton Month­ly post­ed today with the same thought (but bet­ter expressed) as I blogged yes­ter­day. At the end, he postscripts

Just as an aside, Per­ry also believes pub­lic-school sci­ence class­es should present stu­dents with both sci­ence and reli­gion, assum­ing young peo­ple are “smart enough to fig­ure out which one is right.” Here’s a rad­i­cal idea: maybe Per­ry should con­sid­er a sim­i­lar approach to sex-ed?

Well, yes, maybe he should con­sid­er a sim­i­lar approach to sex-ed. That would be refresh­ing. But my thought is that Per­ry assumes young peo­ple are smart enough to fig­ure out which one is right despite the fact that he him­self is not smart enough to do so. But of course, he is smart enough. He “knows” that cre­ation­ism is right! So he fig­ures kids are smart enough to always choose cre­ation­ism? He fig­ures that some kids will choose cre­ation­ism and some sci­ence and he’s OK with that?

Of course, it is not a mat­ter of choice. Too bad Per­ry isn’t smart enough to fig­ure that out.

Indoctrination Camps

Steve Benen at the Wash­ing­ton Month­ly has a post up about the Repub­li­cans who want to do away with pub­lic schools. He quotes Rick San­to­rum talk­ing about Mussolini’s Fas­cist Italy. His uncle

used to get up in a brown shirt and march and be told how to be a good lit­tle fascist.…I don’t know, maybe they called it ear­ly pre‑K or some­thing like that, that the gov­ern­ment spon­sored to get your chil­dren in there so they can indoc­tri­nate them.

The upshot here is that there are sev­er­al Repub­li­cans who are increas­ing­ly will­ing to talk about doing away with pub­lic schools alto­geth­er. This amounts to a will­ing­ness to do away with uni­ver­sal edu­ca­tion (since they would even­tu­al­ly want to cut the vouch­ers to less than what schools charge).

What’s fun­ny here is when have the schools not been about indoc­tri­na­tion as well as edu­ca­tion? When I was in school, we said the Pledge of Alle­giance (“under God”) every day. What is that if not indoctrination?

Con­ser­v­a­tives have lost the bat­tle over con­trol of the indoc­tri­na­tion mes­sage and their final last ditch effort is to do away with pub­lic edu­ca­tion alto­geth­er in hopes that the vast major­i­ty of pri­vate schools will indoc­tri­nate the way the Con­ser­v­a­tives want.

To recap: when the com­plaint is that the schools are indoc­tri­nat­ing, they mean the schools are indoc­tri­nat­ing the wrong thing.

When they want to do away with pub­lic schools, they want to do away with uni­ver­sal education.

Maybe It Is Infectious

Sen­a­tor Ron John­son has an op-ed in the Wall Street Jour­nal and tells the touch­ing sto­ry of the med­ical care that saved his daugh­ter’s life and goes on to claim that under the Afford­able Care Act this med­ical care might not have been there for his daugh­ter. He offers no evi­dence of this, but what need is there of evi­dence when one has a touch­ing anec­dote regard­less of how rel­e­vant it is. He also man­ages to cher­ry pick a bunch of sta­tis­tics to show the US is good and Europe is bad

So, of course, lib­er­al blog­gers are jump­ing all over his absurd claims.

One such blog­ger is Igor Vlosky writ­ing in the Wonkroom blog at Think Progress. Mr. Vlosky makes the case for why Sen­a­tor John­son’s op ed most­ly dis­plays Sen­a­tor John­son’s lack of under­stand­ing of heath care and the Afford­able Care Act. He fin­ish­es up with some com­par­isons of the US to Europe, end­ing with

The Unit­ed States is also “ranked 29th in the world in infant mor­tal­i­ty, tied with Poland and Slo­va­kia.” And so, John­son gets it wrong. The ACA wouldn’t have killed Johnson’s daugh­ter, but thou­sands of oth­er unin­sured babies would have died with­out it.

I did a quick Google and I am pret­ty sure the infant mor­tal­i­ty stats for 2010 are not yet avail­able, though the rate did go down in Milwaukee.

Giv­en that the US has been expe­ri­enc­ing over four mil­lion births a year and that the mor­tal­i­ty rate has been over six per 1000, there are cer­tain­ly thou­sands of babies to be saved. But I do not believe there is as yet any evi­dence that the Afford­able Care Act has in fact done so.

Sen­a­tor John­son makes claims based on no evi­dence and Mr. Vlosky does the same after read­ing John­son’s claims.* Is it infectious?

I can tell you that the Afford­able Care Act has not just saved tens of thou­sands of lives already, but is large­ly respon­si­ble for the eco­nom­ic recov­ery as well as the free­dom move­ments in north­ern Africa and the mid-east.

*and Steve Benen at the Wash­ing­ton Mon­thy blithe­ly quotes Mr. Vlosky’s absurd claim.

Political Battles Never End

I was just read­ing Steve Benen’s blog at The Wash­ing­ton Month­lyHe has an entry com­plain­ing about those Repub­li­cans who are work­ing on how they might rein­state Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I dis­agree with his com­plaint on two counts.

First, his­to­ry, espe­cial­ly recent his­to­ry, teach­es us that polit­i­cal bat­tles nev­er end. Wis­con­sin has passed the law strip­ping pub­lic ser­vice work­ers of almost all their col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights, but the oppo­nents of that law are still work­ing hard to over­turn it. I do not believe I have seen any com­plaints from Steve about that.

Sec­ond, polls have shown that the major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans want­ed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed. So I say let the Repub­li­cans go on record as want­i­ng to repeal it. As Amer­i­cans want jobs, the Repub­li­cans con­tin­ue to pur­sue agen­das that either have no effect on jobs or would cost jobs. If the Democ­rats come up with any decent mes­sag­ing at all, they should storm back to large majori­ties in 2012.