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Headlines for 24 Mar 2013
Ross Douthat thinks he knows who, and what, to blame for those darn Democrats in the White House, and the Senate, and for, well, you.
History is too contingent to say that had there been no Iraq invasion in 2003, there would be no Democratic majority in 2012. (It’s easy enough to imagine counterfactuals that might have put Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.) But the Democratic majority that we do have is a majority that the Iraq war created: its energy and strategies, its leadership and policy goals, and even its cultural advantages were forged in the backlash against George W. Bush’s Middle East policies.

All those now-apologetic liberals who supported the war in 2003 are a big part of this story, because without their hawkishness there would have been no antiwar rebellion on the left — no Michael Moore and Howard Dean, no Daily Kos and all its “netroots” imitators.

So, according to Douthat, if Bush hadn't decided to kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis -- and thousands of American servicemen and women -- you wouldn't be here and President Obama would still be in the Illinois Senate.

You'll excuse me if I don't send Bush a thank you note.

More punditry after the break...

Elisabeth Rosenthal looks at the difference between the potential of renewables and the path we're on.

We will need fossil fuels like oil and gas for the foreseeable future. So there’s really little choice (sigh). We have to press ahead with fracking for natural gas. We must approve the Keystone XL pipeline to get Canadian oil.

This mantra, repeated on TV ads and in political debates, is punctuated with a tinge of inevitability and regret. But, increasingly, scientific research and the experience of other countries should prompt us to ask: To what extent will we really “need” fossil fuel in the years to come? To what extent is it a choice? ...

“It’s absolutely not true that we need natural gas, coal or oil — we think it’s a myth,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and the main author of the study, published in the journal Energy Policy. “You could power America with renewables from a technical and economic standpoint. The biggest obstacles are social and political — what you need is the will to do it.”

Kathleen Parker is apparently fixated on Hillary 2016, and thinks that you are, too.
President Obama visits the Middle East, makes history as he speaks war to Syria and Iran and peace to Israelis and Palestinians, and the talk back home circles The Big Question: Will Hillary run?
Um, maybe in your home, Kathleen, but the rest of America kind of cares about what the current president is doing. Still, Parker does admit something that has to be tough for her to acknowledge.
Not incidentally, the women’s vote is hers. Even Republican women would find it hard not to cast a ballot for Hillary. If not her, then who?
Carl Hiaasen looks at a portion of government that's miraculously dodged the budget cuts.
Head Start education programs for low-income students are being slashed. So are medical services for 2 million native Americans living on Indian reservations and in Alaska.

The Army is suspending tuition assistance for soldiers hoping to enroll in classes, while scholarship funds have been curtailed for children of troops who were killed in combat. ...

Still, not everyone who depends on the federal government is suffering in these austere times.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the USDA is on the verge of purchasing 400,000 tons of sugar in a massive bailout of domestic sugar processors. The move would cost taxpayers about $80 million.

Maybe they're just too sweet to fail. Or maybe...
The major beneficiaries of this bailout would be cane growers in Florida and beet operations in Minnesota, Michigan and North Dakota. Big Sugar has outsized political clout in Washington, as evidenced by the silence of so-called fiscal conservatives.

Heavy campaign contributions are spread among Democrats and Republicans alike. Barack Obama took money from the sugar industry, as did Mitt Romney. Hefty donations went to both of Florida’s senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio.

Every time somebody in Congress tries to kill the sugar subsidy, the measure gets voted down — by some of the same lawmakers who love to rail against public spending on welfare benefits, health care and education.

Doyle McManus says that the sequester is showing up in more than just programs that help kids and soldiers.
Judging from the squeals we're hearing from members of Congress whose districts are threatened by cuts, the effects are intolerable.

The complaints from Democrats, who never wanted the sequester to go into effect, were predictable. But some of the complaining comes from Republicans who welcomed the sequester as an overdue act of belt-tightening.

Tea Party Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) has decried cuts to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which he called "one of the few legitimate functions of government." (The Johnson Space Center, with about 3,000 civilian employees, happens to be in his Houston-area district.) The sequester, Stockman warned, could put all Americans in danger — by hampering NASA's work to protect the Earth from asteroids.

But who really "wins" on the sequester is still an open question. Consider this your "read it all" political article of the morning.

Paul Krugman examines another small instance of the Rand-ification of the right.

On today’s right, not only is civic virtue, nay patriotism, associated with narrow defense of your own self-interest, any deviation from that standard — like being an affluent person who nonetheless supports aid to the poor paid for by progressive taxation — is considered prima facie hypocritical. …

All through the 2012 campaign we were lectured about the evils of “attacking success“, which was defined as any criticism of how a wealthy individual got that way. But as soon as they think they spot an opening, right-wingers go ahead and … attack success.

Sarah Huntzinger deserves an award for her piece in the Denver Post. Maybe two awards. After all, it's not every day you see someone combine a staggering persecution complex with writing worthy of Bulwer-Lytton.
A perfect storm has gathered over Colorado. The prevailing winds of value-free politics, the decline of authentic debate, and the increasing global warming of relativism will collide with the upslope of secularism and the denial of religious liberties to converge with individualistic notions of freedom absent responsibility, producing powerful thunderstorms of hypocrisy, and the rain of radical liberalism.
Admit it. You know you're going to read the rest of it just to see if she can keep up this level of indignent insanity. She can. Good lord, she can.

But remember, while a little ranting can be good for you, a lot is not.

Two studies were conducted to explore how people experience and express their anger on a particular type of Web site, known as a rant-site. Study 1 surveyed rant-site visitors to better understand the perceived value of the Web sites and found that while they become relaxed immediately after posting, they also experience more anger than most and express their anger in maladaptive ways. Study 2 explored the emotional impact of reading and writing rants and found that for most participants, reading and writing rants were associated with negative shifts in mood.
So, in all things moderation. Including being immoderate.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 11:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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