In a 50 to 45 vote, the Senate today “voted against cutting off debate on an immigration compromise bill and advancing the bill. Sixty votes were needed for approval of the motion.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said. “I, even though disappointed, look forward to passing this bill. I have every desire to complete this legislation, and we all have to work — the president included — to figure out a way to get this bill passed.”
Okay, now I’ve seen it. It’s great just like they say. If it’s playing near you, you should go. Really extraordinary. Plus, it’s short enough that catching the 7:30 show was totally compatible with watching the Spurs-Cavs game. My friends and I spent most of the fourth quarter rooting for San Antonio to hold Cleveland under 70 (rooting on the outcome of the game was a moot point), but the Spurs lost intensity there and wound up giving up 76.
You know you’ve published a dubious article when Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) cites you in a global warming hearing. Today’s Post piece on the impact of global warming on Greenland exemplifies missing the forest for the trees.
The piece shows that warming would have winners and losers in Greenland, as you would expect. In classic Inhofe fashion, of course, the Senator claimed the piece said, “they are rejoicing up in Greenland” over global warming. He probably didn’t read past the misleading headline: “Icy Island Warms to Climate Change.”
The article was actually more balanced, in a narrow sense. It notes that “The Arctic is feeling the globe’s fastest warming,” some 11°F from 1991 to 2003. It has stories of Greenlanders who thought they would benefit and those who thought they would lose from the fast thaw. But the article goes far astray here:
The Surgeon General of the United States is supposed to be “America’s chief health educator.” But President Bush’s nominee, James W. Holsinger, has repeatedly espoused medically-inaccurate homophobic positions that undermine his credibility to be the next Surgeon General.
The Bush administration has tried to brush aside Holsinger’s 1991 paper in which he concluded that homosexual relations were “intuitively” unnatural, blaming mainstream scientific opinion: “That was not his belief. It was not his opinion. It was a compilation of studies that were available at that time.”
But even a decade later, Holsinger remained out of the mainstream. In 2000, he helped found the Hope Springs Community Church, which takes the scientifically-rejected position that sexual orientation is a “lifestyle” choice. According to the church’s pastor, Rev. David Calhoun, the church helps people “walk out” of homosexuality through conversion therapy. By 2000, major medical associations had already denounced such “treatment”:
American Psychiatric Association: [T]he American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as “reparative” or “conversion” therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon a prior assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation. 
American Psychological Association: In 1990, the American Psychological Association stated that scientific evidence does not show that conversion therapy works and that it can do more harm than good. 
American Medical Association: [A]version therapy (a behavioral or medical intervention which pairs unwanted behavior, in this case, homosexual behavior, with unpleasant sensations or aversive consequences) is no longer recommended for gay men and lesbians. 
Rev. Troy Plummer, Executive Director of Reconciling Ministries Network of United Methodists, called the reparative therapy promoted by Holsinger “nothing short of torture of gay and lesbian people.”
Conservatives claim they are against human cloning. But yesterday, House conservatives blocked passage of a bill to ban reproductive cloning. The Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2007 would have made it illegal to clone a human being. The AP reports:
House Republicans united Wednesday to reject a Democratic-backed bill to ban human reproductive cloning, a prelude to the larger battle this week over the federal funding of stem cell research. [...]
Only 14 of 196 voting Republicans supported it. Among Democrats, 190 of the 221 voting were for it.
The bill, hastily added to the House agenda Wednesday, makes it illegal to use cloning technology to initiate a pregnancy and create a cloned human being. Violators would be subject to up to 10 years in prison and face fines of up to $10 million.
Human cloning is overwhelmingly opposed by the American people. A Gallup poll last week found that 86 percent of the public opposes it. Human cloning is also banned in several other countries, including Britain and Australia.
Conservatives torpedoed the bill because it does not ban the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to create embryonic stem cells, which is often called therapeutic cloning. They argue that SCNT, which is legal, constitutes human cloning, because they consider the embryo-like entity it produces to be a human being.
Strong support for embryonic stem cell research continues to show, however, that the majority of Americans do not consider embryos to be human beings. SCNT would allow scientists to create patient-specific stem cells, which would greatly aid disease study and drug development, and also vastly reduce the risk of transplant rejection for clinic use of embryonic stem cells. Conservatives have been actively opposing SCNT at the state level, including Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa.
The public support for this research has been strong when the distinction is properly made between reproductive cloning and SCNT. A Republican pollster found that 69 percent of Kansas voters and 66 percent of Missouri voters support SCNT, and a 2005 poll found that 69 percent of Americans support SCNT.
Right-wing opposition to this popular and useful research has prevented Congress from banning human cloning.
Caitlin Flanagan’s article about cyber-stalking in the new Atlantic contains this description of Club Penguin, a social networking opportunity I’d never heard of:
What fun they had! Club Penguin is a cute, happy virtual world in which you create an adorable little penguin in whose guise you can travel to all sorts of fun spots and play video games (making pizzas against the clock, playing ice hockey, going inner-tubing), for which you win coins. With the coins you can buy clothes and furniture and cool stuff for your virtual igloo. The boys loved it. Everyone loved it. Club Penguin was the most happening event of the second grade; to be denied it was to be denied not just a pleasure but an essential mode of schoolyard discussion and inclusion, a way of being a second-grader.
But I never let them play again, be-cause something about it scared me: The penguins could chat with each other. True, the chatting is monitored by paid professionals and a citizens’ army of tattlers, children who’ve been members for more than 30 days and who’ve been commissioned as “Secret Agents” to loiter in the public spaces and report on inappropriate chat, including the exchange of telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. But these protocols only highlight the paradox at Club Penguin’s core: It’s certainly the safest way for unsupervised children to talk to potentially malevolent strangers—but why would you want them to do that in the first place?
Maybe this is the difference between being a parent and being a callow youth, but to me the salient point here is that I’m not sure I’m thrilled with the idea that today’s youth are hanging out in a cutesy, virtual East Germany. Who wants their kids playing a game where they get commissioned as “Secret Agents” charged with informing on their fellow avatars to the authorities? It’s creepy and weird.
Lynne Cheney, the wife of Vice President Cheney, is “being floated in Senate GOP leadership circles as a possible replacement for the late Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY), who died Monday night.”
Wyoming law ensures that the Thomas’ “seat will remain in Republican control, and the balance of power in the Senate will remain unchanged.” Should Cheney be nominated, however, her record indicates that Wyoming’s Senate representation would shift to the far-right of the political spectrum:
– In December 2006, Cheney argued that putting Scooter Libby on trial “does not reflect well on our judicial system.” [Link]
– In October 2006, Cheney called the media’s portrayal of the NSA’s domestic spying program a “terrible distortion of both the president and the vice president’s position on many issues,” in part because CNN used the phrase “domestic surveillance” to describe the so-called “Terrorist Surveillance Program.” [Link]
– In October 2004, when Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) referred to Cheney’s lesbian daughter, Mary, as an “an example of a healthy gay person loved by her family.” Cheney said of Kerry, “This is a bad man.” [Link]
– In December 2005, Cheney falsely suggested that her husband Vice President Cheney had not attempted to link Saddam Hussein and 9/11. As ThinkProgress noted, her husband had done so on multiple occasions. [Link]
– Cheney criticized then-Senate candidate Jim Webb for including sexually explicit material in his novels, despite writing a novel that contains multiple scenes describing a lesbian love affair. [Link]
Cheney’s role in the country’s political discourse throughout the Bush presidency has been primarily that of an uncritical advocate of failed administration policy. Her nomination to the U.S. Senate would focus on her distracting, inaccurate rhetoric and do little to ensure the people of Wyoming were fairly represented.
Questions from the Fox poll released today:
Do you happen to know which presidential candidate has been in the news recently for paying four hundred dollars for a haircut?
If Hillary Clinton were elected president, do you think Bill Clinton is likely to personally behave in ways that will get him into trouble, or do you think he will avoid those situations?
Incidentally, President Bush’s approval rating is 34 percent.
Number of career prosecutors who have left the Justice Department’s voting section, according to a new report from the New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice and the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. The study also found that the Bush administration “engaged in a three-year effort to suppress likely Democratic votes.”
My colleague Marc Ambinder has the story of Hillary Clinton’s campaigning pretending to bow to Mark Penn-related pressure, as Penn agrees to “recuse himself” from his company’s union-busting work. Penn also insists that he never did any of the union-busting work personally. So, in short, Penn and Clinton are promising that in response to labor’s complaints they’re going to . . . keep doing all the same things. He’ll still be profiting from his firm’s union-busting work. Ari Berman has more:
“The logic of the question has considerable merit,” says Harold Ickes, a longtime Clinton advisor and ambassador to organized labor. “Mark has told us that he is taking extra steps to assure people on the outside that he does not engage with clients that may be involved in controversial issues. The phrase ‘Chinese wall’ has been used.”
Ickes predicts rival campaigns will use the anti-labor connection against Clinton. “You don’t want to have attention deflected from the candidate,” he says. [...]
Penn’s “recusal” must thus be seen as a classic case of PR spin; a phony gesture that fails to address the underlying problems or the reasons prominent labor leaders are upset with Clinton’s campaign.
Now I assume that if the unions keep up the heat, they’ll eventually get Clinton and Penn to go further on this front. That said, I think it says something that she found herself in this position in the first place. A Clinton administration, like the Clinton campaign, would doubtless be pro-union in a whole variety of ways. Clearly, though, she doesn’t really have her heart in it. She also clearly seems to value her relationship with Mark Penn (who’s really a problematic figure for all sorts of broader reasons) over her relationship with one of the central pillars of the progressive coalition.