BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White
One would think that in a hearing over a merger with one of the largest energy producers in the entire world that Congress would be concerned about market consolidation and monopolies.
Instead, in the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment's hearing titled, "The Exxon Mobil-XTO Merger: Impacts on U.S. Energy Markets," Wednesday, lawmakers were much more interested in an little-known technique called fracking.
Short for hydraulic fracturing, the process is a way to extract natural gas (and sometimes oil) from underground shale by injecting a combination of water, air and chemicals below the surface to break the rock formations holding in the energy source. Though the process has been in use for decades, the technique has come under increasing scrutiny for the possible pollution of underground aquifers.
In the paperwork for the proposed merger, Exxon Mobil stipulated that if Congress were to outlaw fracking or make it commercially nonviable, it can back out of the deal with XTO, a west Texas company that has been in the natural gas business for decades. This small piece of the contract drew the most attention in questioning today, with Republicans insisting that Democrats want to outlaw the practice. Democrats vigorously denied the charge, though many in the environmental community are pushing for an all-out ban.
"This administration and those running Congress will stop at nothing to pursue this radical agenda," said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), adding that the attempt to "hijack our country's energy sector" will "destroy the fabric of our country."
"Does anyone have any knowledge of anyone in Congress or in the Obama Administration calling for the outlawing of hydraulic fracturing?" Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) asked.
Afternoon Edition is an Open ThreadFrom Yahoo News Top Stories1 New quake triggers panic in Haitiby Sophie Nicholson and Stephane Jourdain, AFP46 mins agoPORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - A powerful new earthquake rumbled across the ruins of Haiti Wednesday,[...]
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I don't blame Lanny for staying up all night to try to spin Coakley's loss as a call to move to the center. The more logical lesson to draw from it is that Americans are sick of corporatists like Lanny Davis (he rather amusingly adopted the label[...]
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I want to recommend that everyone read the email we just got from a Senate staffer who will have to remain anonymous. Here's one part of the email that stood out to me. The whole thing is after the jump ...The worst is that I can't help but feel like[...]
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Glenn Beck was in top form yesterday, anticipating Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts by launching into yet another tirade about the Monstrous Evil Known As Progressivism. This one was flat-out eliminationist, describing progressives variously as objects fit only for extermination, including diseases and monsters:
Beck: Progressives were lurking like a virus, waiting for their chance to suck all of the blood out of the Democratic neck. They were looking for the opening to infect the system. And once they were inside that system, I warned in 2004, the Democrats -- it will be a battle to the end of your party to get them out.
... What we are talking about is an ideological movement that has set its sights on the destruction of the Constitution and the fundamental transformation of our Republic. It is called the progressive movement, and it has been using both parties for a long, long time.
But mainly, it's the Democratic Party that has played host to it. And this parasite has been feeding on that host.
If Obama does the smart thing and re-energize his base, however, Beck will consider that confirmation of his running theory that Obama is a closet black Marxist/fascist radical bent on destroying America:
Beck: America, if these people are only politicians, they will do what they did in 1994, and they will migrate, starting tomorrow, right to the center.
But if we're right, that these are Marxist revolutionaries, that these are progressives who follow Mao, they are gonna put the foot on the gas -- it's not gonna be pretty. And they will eat their own, the Democrats, first.
Beck is obviously reading the Massachusetts results as proof that voters are buying into the Tea Party movement's right-wing panaceas and are repudiating health-care reform. That may not be the case: Media Matters notes that Massachusetts voters already have universal health care, and the issue wasn't of much importance to Brown supporters.
But watch in the coming weeks for calls to Democrats to expel the evil progressives from their midst.
And Republicans, too, no doubt. Which will mean, according to Beck, driving out evil "progressives" like John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
If there is a single reason American politics is so irrational and dysfunctional it may be that we continue to have these ferocious fights over who gets to control a government we are never supposed to use.
Look at health care. Despite the torrent of words, just two have stopped reform in its tracks: "government takeover." Two others say all you need to know about the substance of the GOP's brief against Democrats: "Big Government."
As President Obama struggles to govern this polarized nation, his biggest worry isn't the enfeebled Republican Party or even powerful industry lobbies. It's the idea embedded deep in the public's cognitive unconscious by 30 years of relentless right wing pounding that America's great handiwork, the democratic state, is malevolent and malign.
It wasn't always this way.
Three years before President Reagan declared government the cause of the nation's problems not their solution, a young George F. Will scolded fellow conservatives for embracing a "radical anti-political ideology characterized by a frivolous hostility toward the state."
"Dignity of the political vocation" and "grandeur" of government's responsibilities are not phrases you expect to hear from one of the nation's leading conservatives, and if Will wrote those words today he'd likely be called a "pinhead" by Bill O'Reilly and rudely cashiered from the conservative movement.
Arguments about the proper role of government are as old as the republic. Yet, ever since Reagan's famous aphorism, legitimate concern about government's size and scope has metastasized into blanket indictments against the very idea of government, with serious consequences for the nation.
Conservatives are right to warn that public dependence on government can become a debilitating addiction. Yet, conservatives do not appear equally disturbed that promiscuous disparagement of government can also mutate into scorn for collecctive and community action of any kind, or even rule of law.
The free market is a prodigy of productivity precisely because an intricate and specialized division of labor makes every citizen dependent on every other citizen. So, it is imperative that we have a democratic state with the authority and credibility to articulate uniform and impartial rules to which all classes, interests and parties must conform. When government responds to this productive interdependence with laws preventing the strong from exploiting the weak, this is not socialism but justice.
Government is more than buildings or bureaucrats. It is an expression of common values. And the greatest of these is the freedom from arbitrary and unjust treatment that we possess as the lucky inhabitants of a republic that has made law superior to capricious whim.
Liberty and freedom are the fruits of good government, not their antagonist, and only the lawless, the anarchist or the fool thinks they are. So, when a nation believes its government is the source of all problems and not their solution, that in itself is the problem.
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Yesterday we took a look at the power dynamics in the showdown between Google and China, concluding that Google doesn't have a particularly strong bargaining position here.
Today, more than a week after Google's announcement that it would shut down Google.cn unless China allows it to stop censoring results, we thought it was a good time to take a look at where things stand.
Keep in mind that David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, said in the blog post announcing the move that the company would "review the feasibility of our business operations in China," floating the possibility of shutting down Google.cn as well as the company's offices in the country.
Here's the latest:
Search results on Google.cn remain censored, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday. The newspaper reports Google has said removing content filters on Google.cn could take weeks.
Google's offices in China are still carrying on normal business operations, MarketWatch reported Tuesday.
Google announced Tuesday that it and a Chinese partner are delaying the release of cellphones that feature Google Android software. "A person briefed on the situation" told the New York Times that Google felt it was "irresponsible" to release the phones because of the current uncertainty.
Experts told TPMmuckraker that they will not be surprised if Google has to pack up and leave China.
But Google may be aiming to jettison its Chinese search engine, while retaining most of its business in China, including a sales force that sells ads that run in the U.S. to Chinese firms, the New York Times reported Tuesday. "Google would be able to claim a principled stand on free speech and human rights while suffering only marginal damage to its business in China," the paper says.
In public statements, Chinese officials have not shown any movement in response to Google's ultimatum. "Foreign companies in China should respect the laws and regulations, respect the public interest of Chinese people and China's culture and customs and shoulder due social responsibilities. There is no exception for Google," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu on Tuesday.
In a sign that Google sees the China showdown as a boon to its image, the company bought ads on its own and other search engines linking to the official blog postlaying out the China ultimatum, the Wall Street Journal reported today.
Google is investigating whether any of its employees in China were involved in the alleged cyber attack on Google that prompted the showdown, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing "people familiar with the matter." The Journal says some employees in China had network access cut off.
A software engineer at an Atlanta firm says he has found telltale code in the software purportedly used to attack Google's systems showing that it originated in China, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
In what's being interpreted by some as a salvo in the Google-China showdown, the Chinese search giant Baidu today sued American Web hosting company Register.com, alleging negligence during a cyber attack on Baidu.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Jan. 12, the day of Google's blog post: "We have been briefed by Google on these allegations, which raise very serious concerns and questions. We look to the Chinese government for an explanation."
White House spokesman Nick Schapiro said last week: "We have read Google's statement and are strongly opposed to the practices it describes, particularly the illicit targeting of private e-mail accounts for political reasons. We applaud Google's decision to discontinue censorship of search results on google.cn."
The State Department said over the weekend that it would in the coming days issue a "formal demarche" requesting a response from China to Google's charges and expressing concern. State has not said since then whether such a demarche has been issued.
Clinton is giving a speech on "Internet freedom" Thursday, and an aide says that it will touch on the China-Google showdown, CNN reports. She will deliver the speech at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Earlier today, I pointed out that the Massachusetts swung 18% against Martha Coakley during a time[...]
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BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT
by Jeffrey Joseph
Democrats have seen this coming for quite some time now. Personally, I thought some of the fears they voiced in the press were designed to light a fire under their own people so they would turn out on Election Day. So what happened in Massachusetts? What are the implications for Barack Obama?Right now as usual [...]
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