They always say that a budget is a political document. Well, the Republicans who run Congress have been putting out their budgets, and you'll be shocked to learn that their politics is helping rich people. Or polluters. Or rich people who pollute.
After decrying these abstract costs, the GOP then makes clear what they're really upset about: Obamacare, the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law and Environmental Protection Agency rules on carbon emissions from burning coal. No other legislation or regulatory initiative is mentioned. While the Republican budget bill decries "unnecessary red tape," the only examples it can find of such inefficiency just happen to be the signature domestic policy achievements of the Obama administration.
Surely congressional Democrats will stop this nonsense:
UPDATED 2x: This journalist (who's braver than me...aren't they all?) walks into Starbucks and tries to talk about race. You'll never believe what happened next!
UPDATE: This is better -- why wasn't it announced at the same time?
ORIGINAL POST: "It's worth a little discomfort."
A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise.
Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity.
Late last week, I noted one of the most interesting developments in a not-as-interesting-as-Philadelphia-deserves mayor's race: The possible entry of Sam Katz, the former GOP candidate, into the 2015 election as an independent on the fall ballot. Katz -- whose political evolution seems a tacit acknowledgment that it's impossible to get elected in Philadelphia as a Republican these days -- upped the ante by launching a website called "Citizen Sam" and posting a fairly bold and progressive plan for education funding.
I also noted the elephant in the room (that's not a Republican joke) which is: What position will Katz take on the hot-button issue of the role of charter schools in city education. The question of whether these publicly funded but independently run schools are a) destroying the city's conventional public schools by sapping their students and their funds or b) giving kids in failing schools and their parents a real choice, is just one of dozens of questions before the 2015 candidates and the voters. Arguably, the role of charters isn't even the No. 1 education issue -- the broader funding issue comes first.
But politics has raised the charters question to the top of the heap. State Sen. Tony Williams, a perceived front runner, is the most outspoken "school choice" advocate and has the backing of three wealthy Montgomery County investment executives who donated more than $6 million to his failed bid for governor in 2010 and have launched an independent committee to back Williams for mayor. Today, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers endorsed former council member Jim Kenney, who's criticized the senator's stance. Most pundits believe Katz wants to run if Williams is the Democratic nominee. In his earlier campaigns, Katz backed charters as well as school vouchers. Is his position that much different from Williams?
I made a promise last week to blog readers, that I'd revisit the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson if there was a major development in the case, and now there is. Earlier today, St. Louis County officials came back with some good news, that a 20-year-man has been arrested. The authorities say they're checking out the initial story told by Jeffrey Williams -- on probation for receiving stolen property -- which is that he wasn't shooting at police officers but at someone in a crowd of demonstrators Wednesday night that he had a beef with. Officials aren't sure they buy that explanation. Me neither. The demonstrators had already been separated from the line of police officers at the time, which would make Williams the world's worst shot.
The citizens of Ferguson were just as disgusted at a man who was firing at police officers as the rest of America, and St. Louis district attorney Robert McCulloch -- whose handling of last August's Mike Brown shooting and the ensuing protests has been, um, controversial -- couldn't stress enough that Williams couldn't have been captured without the help of the people. "The case was developed with information that was provided by the public," McCulloch told a news conference.
Also, the overwhelming initial evidence -- and this is a developing story, so things could certainly change -- is that shooter Williams is certainly not a regular in the protests that have been going on, with various levels of intensity, in the streets of Ferguson for more than 200 days. That's been backed up throughout the day by activists and journalists alike. Here's one summary:
Signs point to 'yes'...with an 'IF' in 72-point type. Katz came within a percentage point (and maybe a torrential rainstorm on Election Day) from doing the unthinkable in 1999, winning the mayor's race as a Republican. How'd he do it? By positioning himself mostly to the left of the Democratic nominee (and eventual winner) John Street. That would be the strategy again...IF the current Dem frontrunner, state Sen. Tony Williams, emerges in May. If Williams loses to the more progressive Jim Kenney, the newly independent Katz probably sits it out.
That's an informed guess.
UPDATE: Not very long after I posted this, a sad excuse of a warped individual bent the moral arc in the wrong direction, firing shots from a hillside that wounded two police officers. Violence never solves anything -- it sets back all society and it undermined the work of the many who've protested peacefully and supported the principles of non-violence all these months. I pray for a speedy recovery for the officers, peace of mind for their loved one, and that the perpetrator of this violence is brought to justice swiftly.
I'm sure there were many nights why they wondered why they were out there -- the die-hards who've protested outside City Hall and the police department in Ferguson, Mo., over the seven months since unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown was shot and killed by a police officer. On the first night, the protesters were met with police dogs in a scene that, were it not in living color, looked like a Bull Connor newsreel outtake from 1963. Then came the arrests, the curfews, the stinging tear gas, and the men atop armed vehicles pointing weapons in the direction of those who chanted for justice.
The solid core of Ferguson citizens and their hardiest supporters seeking social change were denigrated on the right as "thugs" and "hoodlums" -- much as their ancestors in the civil rights movement were a half-century ago -- but also dragged down by a small minority, many from outside the town limits, who used the protests as an excuse to commit arson and to loot stores. Eventually, the bright lights of the TV cameras were turned off, but the movement kept coming. The hot endless nights of summer gave way to snow and sub-freezing temperatures, and they kept at it. A kangaroo-court investigation by a district attorney who admittedly put a lying witness before the grand jury only hardened their resolve.
What a day for the numbers -- 7.3 million (bucks) for Marvin Gaye's heirs, zero Nick Foles for the 2015 Eagles, ????? emails about yoga routines and what not deleted by Hillary Clinton.
Oh yeah, and #47traitors serving in the U.S. Senate. I don't have a lot more to say about this than my "hot take" (not really) from yesterday, other than the magnitude of this foreign policy treachery (and blunder) by the majority of Senate Republicans continues to boggle my mind. Most critics are focusing on the principle of senators undermining the executive branch, and that's definitely a huge problem.
But I think the policy implications, though not as sexy as headlines screaming "Treason," are arguably worse. First with their clumsy invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and now with their meddling in the Iranian peace talks, the Republican "leaders" of our legislative branch have shown the world that they prefer war over peace, as well as bluster over negotiation, and that the geopolitical interests of the United States are secondary to that of their billionaire campaign donors.