By Doug Porter
The logjam on Capital Hill has gotten to the point where even the Daily Fishwrap editorial board has noticed.
“It doesn’t seem to matter much which party controls Congress or whether a single party controls both houses or just one. Either way, there is still unacceptable impasse on key issues.”
The Republican strategy to stop President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration is failing. The clock is ticking on what would be a largely symbolic (but politically damaging) shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security.
House and Senate GOP leaders are pointing the finger at one another. Senate leader Mitch McConnell says the ball is back in the House’s court. House Majority leader John Boehner trotted out his bi-annual warning to Democrats to “get off their ass.”
From Talking Points Memo:
“The House has passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, and block the President’s unilateral executive action on immigration,” Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, said in an email. “Now, the pressure is on Senate Democrats who claim to oppose the President’s action, but are filibustering a bill to stop it. Until there is some signal from those Senate Democrats what would break their filibuster, there’s little point in additional House action.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), whose demands led to the standoff, said it’s only failing because GOP leaders aren’t fighting hard enough. He said he warned from the start that this particular strategy was “designed to lose,” arguing that they should have withheld funding for the entire government and brought nominations to a halt in order to make Obama back down.
“My objections were overruled,” Cruz told reporters Tuesday. “Leadership proceeded nonetheless down this path and now it’s incumbent on leadership to explain what their path is to what they stated the end goal would be.”
Republican Ed Rogers, writing in the Washington Post Post Partisan section, vainly tries to inject a dose of reality on the situation:
To state the obvious, McConnell needs to convince Senate Republicans that they are not going to get everything they want in a bill. President Obama’s executive actions are a reason to pass immigration reform, not a reason not to. And the last thing we need is for all funding for the Department of Homeland Security to be cut off because Congress can’t reach a compromise. Allowing DHS funding to expire would have the equivalent effect of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) shutting down the government over Obamacare in 2013. And, as my friend, the former governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour says, “You don’t learn much from the second kick of a mule.” If DHS funding expires, it will hurt Republicans and help the Democrats. Period.
Republicans may be saying that the latest standoff is about the constitution, but the reality is reflected in polling about the party’s base (which is reflected in Congress) from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) reported on by Robert Jones at The Atlantic:
When there is no mention of Obama, two-thirds (67 percent) of Republicans favor allowing illegal immigrants who are parents of those with legal status to avoid deportation if they meet certain requirements. But when Obama is linked to the policy, support among Republicans drops 16 points to 51 percent. Support among independents also falls 13 points when Obama is linked to the policy, from 77 percent to 64 percent. Among Democrats, there is no statistically significant effect in support.
Assemblywoman Gonzalez Meets the Anti-Vaxxers
A Wednesday phone by actor/comedian Rob Schneider to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is getting some attention.
“He left a very disturbing message with one of my staff people, saying he was going to spend money against me in my next election,” said Gonzalez, who is co-sponsoring a bill that will eliminate the personal belief exemption.
Gonzalez added, “Unlike most of the United States, parents can say, ‘I just personally don’t want to vaccinate my children’ and mark off a box.”
Gonzalez wants to get rid of the exemption and make vaccinations mandatory. She cited a number of reasons, including a recent measles outbreak.
Schneider’s statements and videos in opposition to modern day vaccination regimens got him booted as a TV ad spokesman last year, following a social media campaign urging State Farm to end their affiliation with the actor.
The assemblywoman did return the call to Schneider, telling him she’d be “more than happy to look at any study that’s a peer-review study, that’s scientific, to suggest the things that he was talking about. The problem is they don’t exist.”
Then Gonzalez took to Facebook: “That is 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back arguing that vaccines don’t cause autism with Deuce Bigalow, male gigolo.”
In turn, the anti-vaxxers retaliated with a flurry of nasty messages, leading her to post a second statement (since taken down), saying in part:
I represent South San Diego…and I will always do what’s in the best interest of my district and our state, not a small group of vocal, threatening folks with money and stature. A year ago when the gun lobby said they’d recall me for my position on guns, I said bring it. If anti-vaxxers think they can come to my district (which is largely immigrant and almost fully vaccinated) and explain to voters that I am voting to eliminate the threat of measles and other serious diseases and should be replaced, then bring it. I don’t react well to threats, sorry.
Memo to anti-vaxxers: You don’t stand a chance.
The Los Angeles Times has an article posted pointing out the age breakdown of who’s getting infected with measles:
The measles outbreak first spread among Disneyland visitors and workers between Dec. 17 and 20, and quickly spread throughout California, seven other states and Mexico as tourists returned home. Thirty-nine people were infected in the first wave of cases. As of Wednesday, there were at least 136 confirmed cases linked to California, including 10 reported in Canada’s Quebec province.
Some health officials are surprised that so many of the patients are adults.
“We’re seeing more adults than we have seen in a typical outbreak,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “It’s not just young children that need to be up-to-date on their vaccines, and we are starting to see more adults get measles and spread it.”
Here’s the breakdown:
- — Younger than 1 year: 9%
- — 1-4 years: 14%
- — 5-19 years: 18%
- –a 20 years or older: 59%
Latest News on the Stadium
The Los Angeles Times says plans to build a stadium in Inglewood could be approved as soon as next week and may not even have to be approved by voters:
Election officials confirmed Thursday there are more than enough valid signatures to put the project on the June ballot, but the Inglewood City Council also has the option to approve the plan for an 80,000-seat venue outright, a course that appears likely.
Approval is required to amend existing plans for the 238-acre Hollywood Park site to include the football stadium. Skipping a public vote could save the city money — about $110,000 for an election, officials said — as well as time.
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. said he’s waiting to hear the results of economic and environmental reports before making a decision. Those reports are expected to be presented at the council meeting.
“I’m leaning toward whatever would get us down the road the fastest,” Butts said.
Hollywood Park Land Co. — the development company that includes St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke — said it hoped to break ground on the project by the end of the year. Officials close to the project have expressed hope that the stadium plan is a first step toward bringing back an NFL team to the Los Angeles area.
Here in San Diego, the mayor’s stadium task force announced they’ll be meeting with representatives of the Chargers on Monday. Mayor Kevin Faulconer released copies of city documents relating to the stadium search.
On KPBS Midday Edition, San Diego County Supervisor Chairman Bill Horn dropped a broad hint that the county might be able to play a role in stadium financing.
“I believe if the county could get involved, we might be able to put in some revenue bonds, something like that,” he told KPBS Midday Edition. “But I would have to say to my taxpayers, ‘you’re not going to have to pay for this.’ These are gunna have to be from bonds that will pay for themselves.”
At a county ceremony last month, Supervisor Ron Roberts indicated he also would support partnering with the city on a new stadium.
“Try to imagine a new stadium befitting our region of San Diego,” Roberts said at the January event. “As a team, and with the partnership of the city of San Diego…as a team we can do this.”
How Dry We Will Be: Western Megadrought Predicted
A study published in the journal Science Advance points to a very, very dry second half of the 21st century for the Southwest.
From the Washington Post:
The long and severe drought in the U.S. Southwest pales in comparison with what’s coming: a “megadrought” that will grip that region and the central Plains later this century and probably stay there for decades, a new study says.
Thirty-five years from now, if the current pace of climate change continues unabated, those areas of the country will experience a weather shift that will linger for as long as three decades, according to the study, released Thursday.
Researchers from NASA and Cornell and Columbia universities warned of major water shortages and conditions that dry out vegetation, which can lead to monster wildfires in southern Arizona and parts of California.
An article at Quartz.com quotes Benjamin I. Cook, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, who used a network of 835 tree ring chronologies collected throughout much of North America as part of the study:
But just how likely is very likely? The study puts the chances of a megadrought in the central plains and southwest sometime between 2050-2099 at above 80%. That’s compared with just a 5-10% risk from 1950-2000. Even the milder emissions scenario predicts drying comparable to a Medieval-style megadrought in many locations. “This really represents a fundamental shift in the climate in western North America forced by these greenhouse gases—it’s a shift towards a much drier baseline than anything that anyone alive today has experienced,” said Cook.
“I believe that the results are quite robust,” said James Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and professor at the University of California at Irvine, who was not involved in the research. “My real concerns are for the implications of the results, which are staggering,” he told Quartz by email.
When asked how a megadrought, if it started today, would affect in the West, Famiglietti said that public water, aquifers, agriculture, rangelands, wildlife and forests would all be at risk. He added: “In California, we’re already in deep trouble. Imagine what the water situation will look like in 2075? Depleted groundwater, decimated agriculture, irreparable damage to ecological habitat. Think apocalypse.”
On This Day: 1865 – A national eight-month strike by the Sons of Vulcan (that would be a great name for a band!), a union of iron forgers, ended in victory when employers agreed to a wage scale based on the price of iron bars—the first time employers recognized the union, the first union contract in the iron and steel industry, and what may be the first union contract of any kind in the United States. 1920 – The National Negro Baseball League was organized. 1972 – Led Zeppelin was forced to cancel a concert in Singapore when officials wouldn’t let them off the plane because of their long hair.
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