Posted by: mutantpoodle | August 5, 2007

Newsbits: Dems stray; Global Warming doubters pay; Pushing Reporters? OK!

dog-on-newspapers_smNote to Democrats: you didn’t just make this country safer.

You just made yourselves weaker.

In a cave-in that Federal Mine officials should investigate, enough Democrats in the House and Senate voted with the lockstep GOP to further weaken the existing FISA laws. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Bush needed to change the law because he and his minions have been breaking it, and not because they couldn’t do certain surveillance they want to do (related to communications between foreign based and domestic suspects), but because they don’t want anyone else to have to approve it. Oh, and if Congress didn’t act, WE WERE ALL GOING TO DIE. Seriously.

I am proud to say that not one California Congressman – including my Representative, Howard Berman – voted with the fearful. Sadly, Dianne Feinstein did. It wasn’t a good week for DiFi, who also voted to move Leslie Southwick out of the Judiciary committee to be considered by the full Senate for a seat – that’s lifetime seat, folks – on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court. As Dover Bitch over at Hullabaloo pointed out, Southwick isn’t exactly a middle-of-the-road nominee:

At the confirmation hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin asked Southwick for an example of when he stepped up to defend the powerless and he couldn’t think of a single example. Today, Durbin revealed that he, in fairness, asked Southwick for an answer in writing, to give the nominee time to think of a good example. Again, Southwick was unable to think of a single episode. The “Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Magnolia Bar Association, Mississippi NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, AFL-CIO, SEIU, Society of American Law Teachers, Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Alliance for Justice and People for the American Way among others” have all expressed their opposition to Southwick’s nomination.

But Sen. Feinstein had a meeting with Southwick and he assured her that he is “not outside the mainstream.” Despite her promise to be “very, very cautious” with Bush’s nominees, Feinstein voted with the unanimous GOP to send Southwick’s nomination to the Senate for a vote. When she announced her vote, she conceded that she “could be wrong” and that “maybe” she’s been wrong before.

Gee, ya think?

Early on in the first Bush Administration, I was part of a group that met with Feinstein’s staff through the auspices of Moveon.org. All of us argued strenuously and passionately that the Senator should hold firm against the worst of Bush’s judicial nominations, who, it was apparent at that early date, were a dangerous combination of incompetence, ideological rigidity, and constitutional unfamiliarity.

This was when the Dems were in the minority, so opposing those judges was a bit harder.

Dianne, listen to me: your party controls the Senate. You don’t have to filibuster – you can just vote no.

So all in all, it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week for the country, because the Congress seems content to put sections of the constitution in the paper shredder without regret, which is only slightly better than the administration’s apparent unbridled glee in doing so.

Moving from those who bully for fun to those who do so for profit, Newsweek’s cover story details the well-funded (if intellectually bankrupt) global warming denial community.

It’s no surprise that it exists, but it’s nice to see it pulled out from under the rocks:

Sen. Barbara Boxer had been chair of the Senate’s Environment Committee for less than a month when the verdict landed last February. “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” concluded a report by 600 scientists from governments, academia, green groups and businesses in 40 countries. Worse, there was now at least a 90 percent likelihood that the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels is causing longer droughts, more flood-causing downpours and worse heat waves, way up from earlier studies. Those who doubt the reality of human-caused climate change have spent decades disputing that.

But Boxer figured that with “the overwhelming science out there, the deniers’ days were numbered.” As she left a meeting with the head of the international climate panel, however, a staffer had some news for her. A conservative think tank long funded by ExxonMobil, she told Boxer, had offered scientists $10,000 to write articles undercutting the new report and the computer-based climate models it is based on. “I realized,” says Boxer, “there was a movement behind this that just wasn’t giving up.”

And they’re still not. It’s worth reading in all its infuriating detail. And look for the well-funded letters of outrage to Newsweek in their next issue.

And here in LA, there was a little dust-up when a port of Los Angeles policeman shoved a female reporter into a metal shipping container. (Video here.)

It happened when a group of port cops cut off access to the mayor, who had walked into a “restricted” section of the port complex. The cops stood there silently as they were asked why they were being held back. When one reporter went toward the mayor, she was shoved – hard – and banged into the metal wall of the container.

To which I have three reactions.

First, a restricted area of the port? I mean, it was just the far end of a truck and more shipping containers – they weren’t splitting the atom or anything.

Second, someone should have been around to say what was happening and why, and when it would be over. We do pay the guy, after all, and just because he might be sick of answering questions about his girlfriend doesn’t mean he should use muscle to keep the press away.

Third, when you weigh 200+ pounds, you’re never going to look good shoving an unarmed 125-lb woman around. You’ll look worse if she’s surrounded by cameras.

The viewer comments almost all supported the cop, who I think was caught in the middle of terrible orders and a lack of authority to explain them. Maybe that just shows how much people hate the press these days.

And maybe he was acting within policy. But almost any alternative would have been better – starting with that whole talking thing. I hear it works, sometimes.

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