Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Good Day for Progressives

Today is a good day for progressives:

(1)  Websites such as Wikipedia, Reddit, and others imposed a self blackout to bring widespread attention to the bills SOPA and PIPA.  Before the blackout, it seemed that these two bills were destined to be ignored by the media and fast tracked to be passed into law.  But tonight, the lead story on NPR is about SOPA and PIPA.  The lead story on Yahoo! news is about these two bills.  I don't watch the mainstream media news, but I am wondering if they are finally talking about it as well.  Even on AccuWeather's website, the lead story is about SOPA and PIPA.  Whoduthunkit?

Meanwhile, an update on the bill from CNN:

SOPA was once expected to sail quickly through committee approval in the House. But after a massive pushback from tech companies and their supporters, it's being extensively reworked. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said SOPA won't come up for a committee vote as-is. 
That means the bill could change a lot from day to day -- and one major tenet of the original legislation has already been removed. As originally written, SOPA would have required Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to sites that law enforcement officials deemed pirate sites. 
A markeup process once expected to take days is now likely to last for months. As the outcry around SOPA grows louder, the bill's momentum in Congress appears to be fading.

This only happened because of massive push back from all levels, but mostly from grassroots users of the internet as well as push back from tech companies who would risk losing much from these risky bills.

(2)  In a victory for environmentalists, the Keystone XL Pipeline application was denied by the White House.  While this itself is a huge victory for environmentalists (who almost never have victories these days), it is a small victory because they can still reapply for the permits to construct the pipeline.

However, in a fascinating statement released by the President to explain the decision, Obama says:

Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment.  As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied.  And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree. 

This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people.  I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil.  Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down.  In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security –including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico – even as we set higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and invest in alternatives like biofuels and natural gas.  And we will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.

Wow... THIS is the President Obama I voted for.  I thrills me to see him going after Republicans for being the corporate whores that they are.  It also thrills me to see him talking about jobs and workers in a long term context of the health of our environment.  Who would have thought that the two of them were tied together?  Crazy!

We'll see if Democrats, Progressives, and Obama can maintain this opposition to the Keystone project.  Surely they will maintain their pressure to get this pipeline built and the union of progressives needs to maintain our strong opposition.


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