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Call them back

Appearing yesterday on MSNB’s Dylan Ratigan show, The Nation’s Ari Melber reminds us how Republican obstructionism has crippled administration appointments — and suggests what Obama and Harry Reid should do:

ARI MELBER: Most of you know Congress just left for vacation. Normally when Congress is on recess, the president can make recess appointments to advance nominees that have been obstructed, but it turns out Congress is not really on recess. Republicans are holding symbolic sessions during their entire vacation in order to prevent recess appointments. This is just the latest ploy in a long obstruction campaign by the GOP.

Since Obama came into office, Republicans have blocked an unprecedented number of nominees from ever getting a vote. Take judicial nominees. Republicans have blocked almost half of the nominees for judicial nominations, the worst obstruction rate in U.S. history. ANd The targets aren’t random, either. GOP obstruction has hindered female and minority nominees the most.

Here’s a disturbing statistic from the People for the American Way, and I’m quoting now: “Every district court nominee with unanimous opposition from the Senate Judiciary committee Republicans has been a woman or a person of color.” You know, people forget that Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was first nominated to an appeals court back in the day by President Clinton, but Republicans wouldn’t allow her a vote on that nomination. Then, when President Obama nominated her to be the third woman to ever serve on our high court, the same Republicans complained she didn’t have the experience as a judge — even though they were the ones who kept her off the bench.

And meanwhile, nominees for jobs shaping economic policy – obviously the No. 1 issue in this country – have been totally shut down. Obama nominated Nobel economist Peter Diamond to the Federal Reserve Board over a year ago. Republicans filibustered, he was renominated two more times, and he ultimately withdrew in disgust.

The top spot at the famous Consumer Protection Bureau remains empty. Republicans even brazenly blocked votes on nominees for the Board of Protection commissioner at the Homeland Security department and the head of Industry and Security at the Commerce department. Both of those posts were finally filled through recess appointments last year, but it’s only gotten worse.

This week, White House officials openly said they need Tim Geithner to extend his term as Treasury Secretary, in part because Republicans would filibuster a vote on his replacement.

Look, you don’t fight unemployment by trying to shut down one of the most important jobs on the president’s economic team. The solution is pretty simple — Senator Reid and President Obama should call the Senate back in session now, in this hot August summer. They should refuse to adjourn until there are votes on all these nominees. They can use quorum calls, break the silent filibuster that most Americans don’t even know is happening, and they can keep every member working seven days a week and refuse to adjourn unless it’s for a real old-school recess – you know, when recess appointments are on the table.

Just imagine the president speaking to the nation about making government work again instead of just pleading for compromise with his tormentors. Imagine him seizing the initiative on a concrete action plan, and imagine him making a case for an American government based on the people who want to serve our government, to run our schools, protect our borders and put our people back to work. It says a lot about this Congress that they found a way to hinder government and recovery even while they’re on vacation. Well look, let’s bring these guys back to Washington.

MATT MILLER: Ari Melber, great point. And also, what it does is echo the fact for those who say there’s an equivalence between Republican and Democratic responsibility aren’t looking hard enough at what the GOP is doing to block progress in a number of these areas. We’ll have to pick that conversation up another time. Ari, terrific rant.

Fox, meet henhouse

The Energy Department-appointed task force also recommends that drillers disclose the mix of chemicals they’re injecting into the shale to free up gas. In fact, it’s a laundry list of recommendations for voluntary compliance, and since the task force was dominated by the very industry it’s examining, it’s very unlikely to any regulations or legislation will come out of this. Well, we all know how well regulatory capture worked in the Japanese nuclear power industry, so why wouldn’t it work for this?

Natural-gas companies risk causing serious environmental damage from hydraulic fracturing unless they commit to the best engineering practices, a task force named by Energy Secretary Steven Chu concluded.

Regulations to protect public health will work best when drillers embrace techniques that avoid “undesirable consequences,” according to a draft report today by a subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. The increased use of fracturing, or fracking, which forces water and chemicals into rock, raises the potential for a “serious problem,” the panel found.

The report offered recommendations for companies such as Chesapeake Energy Inc. and Southwestern Energy Co. (SWN) to follow, and guidelines for state regulators that oversee drilling.

“While many states and several federal agencies regulate aspects of these operations, the efficacy of the regulations is far from clear,” according to the report. “Effective action requires both strong regulation and a shale-gas industry in which all participating companies are committed to continuous improvement.”

The Washington-based Environmental Working Group, which advocates for clean air and water, questioned the findings of a panel it said was dominated by the gas industry.

[…] To resolve the concerns, the panel recommended creating an industry organization “dedicated to continuous improvement” of practices, such as measuring and reporting air pollution, minimizing water use and improving well casing and cementing. The subcommittee urged reducing emissions of ozone precursors and called for a national database at a start-up cost of $20 million to link sources of public information on fracking.

Yes, because industry organizations have done such a bang-up job to date in protecting the public in virtually every market. Oh wait, I think I was still dreaming…

Sorry, Rachel

This is a really stupid idea, for all the reasons pointed out by Main Street Liberal.

Steve Forbes is a lying moron

So what else is new?

The road I must travel

Tom Morello:

Killing in the name

Rage Against The Machine, 1993:

Sure, the SugarHouse Casino next to the Delaware River is an eyesore and a sordid solution to the scarcity of good jobs in Philadelphia. But casino workers deserve job security and a fairer share of the loot that’s not being sucked out of Philly by billionaire Neil Bluhm and his allies.

Barry Ritzhold

On Ratigan yesterday:

Sexist-crazed NOW prez scolds Newsweek

It’s “sexist,” says National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill, in high dudgeon concerning Newsweek’s cover photo of crazy-eyed Michele Bachmann looking crazy-eyed.

The noble eight-fold path

Here. I figure we can all use this right about now. Me, I’m gonna go meditate.

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