Interior cancels decades-old protections for migratory birds — High Country News

“The Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks have sparked a lot of outrage. But one recent action by the Interior Department drew unprecedented protest from a bipartisan group of top officials who go all the way back to the Nixon administration: a new legal opinion that attempts to legalize the unintentional killing of most migratory birds.Under the new interpretation, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act forbids only intentional killing – such as hunting or killing birds to get their feathers – without a permit. The administration will no longer apply the act to industries that inadvertently kill a lot of birds through oil drilling, wind power and communications towers. Critics fear that these industries might now end the bird-friendly practices that save large numbers of birds.”

Source: Interior cancels decades-old protections for migratory birds — High Country News

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On Climate- Gov. Murphy Brings a New Voice to New Jersey – The New York Times

“Given the Trump administration’s indifference to climate change, the task of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas, has fallen largely to city and state governments. It is thus greatly encouraging that New Jersey, under its new governor, Phil Murphy, a Democrat, will join — more precisely, rejoin — the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a consortium of nine Eastern and New England states that has achieved substantial emissions reductions from large power plants since its start in 2009.”

The Republicans’ Real Fake Scandal – Outing Devin Nunes – The New York Times

“In nearly every crime-caper movie there’s a shifty guy on the street corner who, seeing the cops in hot pursuit, flips over a fruit cart to slow them down and give the culprits a chance to get away.In Trump-era Washington, that role is being played with impressive conviction by Devin Nunes, the eight-term Republican representative from California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Nunes, supported by a rotating coterie of conspiracists in Congress and the usual suspects on right-wing cable news, has labored to divert attention from the expanding Russia investigation by tossing out sinister-sounding allegations of wrongdoing by federal law enforcement officials.

Mr. Nunes’s act has kept alive the prospect of impeding or ending the investigation even as President Trump has backed off his efforts to fire the man in charge, the special counsel, Robert Mueller.Last year he accused top Obama administration officials of improperly “unmasking” Trump associates in intelligence reports — a charge that turned out to be baseless. No matter: The whole point of this game is to make the job of the actual investigators harder while confusing the public about where the true scandal lies.”

DL; Is this the end of democracy as we know it, or the beginning of another renaissanace?

Immigration’s Border-Enforcement Myth – by Mae Ngai – NYT

“If we are to have restrictions on immigration, they ought to be reasonable, allow for family unification, operate in sync with the labor market and give refuge to those fleeing disaster and persecution. We can enact statutes of limitations on unauthorized presence (say five years, or even 10), which would recognize not just the inevitability of migrants’ entry but also their incorporation into society. The United States itself had such a policy once — before the National Origins Act of 1924.

But today, the mainstream of both political parties clings to the false logic of the 1980s, which yoked legalization to enforcement. This time around the Democrats are in an especially weak position, not least because extremists in both Congress and the White House are holding the Dreamers hostage to a radical nativist agenda.”

What the Economic Data Don’t Tell Us – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“It’s a sure thing that Donald Trump will spend much of his State of the Union boasting about the economy. So this seems like a good time for a refresher on some basic macroeconomics – and the reasons why the expansion of 2017, which continued the long expansion that began in 2010, is in no sense a justification for wildly optimistic growth projections looking forward.

As a reminder, the Trump Treasury department claims that tax cuts will pay for themselves because the economy will grow at almost 3 percent a year for the next decade. This growth projection didn’t come from any model; it was just pulled out of … well, you fill in the rest. But every time there’s a good quarter of growth, the usual suspects take time off from talking about deep state conspiracies to claim that the forecast is coming true. Why is this nonsense?First, you need to know that quarter-to-quarter and even year-to-year growth rates are very variable. The economy grew at a 5 percent annual rate during much of the Carter administration (how many people know that?); it grew around 4 percent during the second Clinton administration:”

An Article of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump – by David Leonhardt – NYT

There are good reasons to be wary of impeachment talk. Congressional Republicans show zero interest, and they’re the ones in charge. Democrats, for their part, need to focus on retaking Congress, and railing about impeachment probably won’t help them win votes.But let’s set aside realpolitik for a few minutes and ask a different question: Is serious consideration of impeachment fair? I think the answer is yes. The evidence is now quite strong that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice. Many legal scholars believe a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime. So the proper remedy for a president credibly accused of obstructing justice is impeachment.The first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon argued that he had “prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice.” One of the two impeachment articles that the House passed against Bill Clinton used that identical phrase. In both cases, the article then laid out the evidence with a numbered list. Nixon’s version had nine items. Clinton’s had seven. Each list was meant to show that the president had intentionally tried to subvert a federal investigation.Given last week’s news — that Trump has already tried to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign — it’s time to put together the same sort of list for Trump. Of course, this list is based only on publicly available information. Mueller, no doubt, knows more.

The Gathering Threat to Abortion Rights – The New York Times

“People who care about basic American freedoms should be grateful to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, for one thing: He has given liberals another good reason to flock to the polls in November.

Mr. McConnell is set to hold a procedural vote this week on a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy. The so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is part of a long-term legislative effort by the anti-abortion movement to gut Roe v. Wade and severely curtail abortion access nationwide.Twenty-week abortion bans, enacted in more than a dozen states and struck down in two, violate the Supreme Court’s standard that abortion can be restricted only when a fetus is viable outside the womb. Many, including the one being considered by the Senate, are based on claims not supported by most scientists about when a fetus feels pain.”

The G.O.P.’s Doomsday-Machine Politics – by Paul Krugman – NYT

Krugman has a great piece until the end when he writes,
“Yet G.O.P. leaders seem to believe that they can bully Democrats by threatening to hurt millions of children — because Democrats care more about those children than they do. They also believe that if this tactic fails they can frame it as an exhibition of callousness by Democrats.

Democrats should just say no. These tactics cannot be allowed to succeed.

For once doomsday-machine politics becomes the norm, anything is fair game. Give us what we want, or we’ll cut off Medicare. Give us what we want, or we’ll destroy Social Security.

This has to stop. And now is the time to draw the line.”

David Lindsay: Paul Krugman, my favorite economist, has made an error. In his piece “The G.O.P.’s Doomsday-Machine Politics,” 1/19/18 NYT, he is suggesting that the Dems should have continuted to shut down the government, over DACA, and not accepted CHIP instead. How can Paul Krugman not see that that switches roles. Now it is the Democrates using Doomsday Machine politics, not the Republicans.

Guns — When Trump Can’t Even Tweet – by Gail Collins – NYT

“I don’t know if you heard, but this week a boy with a handgun killed two of his fellow students at a high school in Kentucky.“It is unbelievable that this would happen in a small, close-knit community like Marshall County,” said the governor, Matt Bevin.Actually, that part is completely believable. Given that another school shooting this week was in Italy, Tex., population under 2,000. And that two months ago, 25 people were shot to death while attending church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., population 362.

It’s about guns, not population density. And it is a huge story. But I know, people, you have been beating your heads against the wall about this issue forever, and a certain numbness creeps in. “You had the worst mass shooting in the country in Las Vegas, followed by a really horrific event in a church. People just get worn out,” said Mark Kelly, who co-founded a gun-safety organization with his wife, then-Representative Gabby Giffords, after she was shot in the head while meeting with her constituents.

Donald Trump — who yelled about “carnage” in big cities during his inauguration speech — has said not a word about the Kentucky shooting except to tweet his “thoughts and prayers.” (Even that, commenters noted, came nearly 24 hours after the prime minister of Canada sent his sympathies.) It is highly unlikely this lack of focus was due to weariness. “You’ve got to wonder,” Kelly said in a phone interview, whether the president would have had a more intense reaction if the news reports suggested “the shooter was of a different ethnicity.”

Thank you Gail. There are many excellent, heart feld comments in the NYT Comments section. Here is the top comment, which I recommended:

Linda

is a trusted commenter Oklahoma 15 hours ago

In the first 23 days of 2018 there were already 11 school shootings. There was also an anti-abortion march in Washington, DC, which Trump attended. Why not make buying guns as difficult as having an abortion? Each buyer should have to look at x-rays and MRIs of gunshot wounds and have to talk to someone whose loved one died of gunshot wounds. A doctor would have to explain gunshot wounds to the buyer and the buyer would have to wait 48 hours after talking to the doctor to buy a gun. There would only be one or two gun shops in each state making most gun buyers have to drive hundreds of miles for a purchase. And each buyer would have to walk through a screaming throng of people shouting and swearing at him or her.
Yes, 60,000 Americans a year die from gunshots. Make it as hard to buy a gun as it is to get an abortion.

 

Deep Breath: The Democrats Did Just Fine – David Leonhardt – NYT

“A lot of progressives are angry or disappointed this morning. They’re upset that “spineless” Democrats in Congress didn’t take a stand — by keeping the federal government closed until Republicans agreed to protect the young immigrants known as Dreamers.

I fully understand their anxiety on behalf of those immigrants, the Dreamers. The future of the Dreamers remains unclear. But it’s worth taking a minute to understand the very large assumption that unhappy progressives are making. When you examine that assumption — and recent congressional history — I think you end up seeing that Democrats made a smart move to reopen the government. Unfortunately, their choice wasn’t, as the critics claim, between protecting or abandoning the Dreamers.The critics’ big assumption is that the Republicans would have eventually folded if the government had remained shut down.”