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Mr. Get-over-it Does It Again

(I’ve been out with swine flu. It was so peaceful, not knowing the news, I kept floating in blissful ignorance as long as I could. As far as I can tell, the Copenhagen climate summit hasn’t been discussed much in US blogs. Or maybe I’ve just been too out of it?)

First, a bit of backstory. For years, most of the world’s countries have been preparing for the UN summit on climate change at Copenhagen. They see climate change coming, they know they’ll suffer from it, and a majority of countries wanted a more inclusive and more binding agreement than Kyoto 1997. So far, not good enough, but better than nothing.

The summit itself was five days of meetings with all the usual wrangling of “You first” “No, you first” and negotiations going far into the night.

Okay, so you have the picture. The whole world, pretty much, has been working on this thing, and as the meeting goes on, the delegates are getting less and less sleep.

Enter the US. Obama decided that he’d come and give a speech at the close, but would eschew dealing with the sweaty, red-eyed delegates before that. High-handed, but par for the course.

And then what actually happened raised US arrogance to a whole new degree. He parachuted in on the last day. There was no agreement to his liking. So he acted as if the UN didn’t exist, and as if 183 countries hadn’t been talking since forever. He had his own private meeting with China, pulled in Brazil, India, and South Africa to make it a bit more multilateral, and announced that an agreement had been reached and the UN could now sign off on it:

The Obama White House mounted a surgical strike of astounding effectiveness (and astounding cynicism) that saw the president announcing a deal live on [US] TV before anyone – even most of the governments involved in the talks – knew a deal had been done.

Then he hopped on his plane and flew home so the snow wouldn’t mess up his schedule.

The “agreement” did not commit to anything binding and expressed a hope (now where have I heard that word before?) for minimal greenhouse gas reductions. The reductions are so minor that even if those targets were met, the data indicate that they would not keep average temperature from rising less than 2C, would not prevent drastic warming, droughts, migration, famine, disease, and, generally, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

It does, however, allow China, the US, India, and so on, to keep polluting while making polite noises to places like Bangladesh and Florida when they drown.

The “agreement” has too little in it to stimulate green industries, so we won’t be getting that benefit either. It has a promise of $100 billion from a consortium of nations over ten years to help developing countries cope with climate change, but similar promises in the past haven’t led to much in the way of actual cash.

And the “agreement” was such a slap in the face to everyone who’d been negotiating that even reporters for the BBC, who’d rather die than lose their professional detachment, say things like:

The concept that global environmental issues can and should be tackled on a co-operative international basis has taken a massive, massive blow.

The UN climate convention is the flagship agreement, and its outcomes are supposed to be negotiated. This deal was presented to the greater body of countries on a take-it-or-leave-it basis by small group of powerful players.

It is now debatable whether the UN climate convention has a meaningful future, or whether powerful countries will just decide by themselves, or in a small group, by how much they are prepared to cut emissions.

That makes optional the established schemes for helping the poorest countries towards a clean energy and climate-protected future.

The implications for other global treaties that are not meeting their goals, such as the UN biodiversity convention, can only be guessed at.

The Europeans, like all good progressives thrown under the Obama bus, swallowed hard and went along with this thing. Half a loaf is supposed to be better than none. But at what point is that no longer true? How about when it’s down to a couple of dirty crumbs?

The delegates generally were mad enough that they came to no decision. They “took note” of the US agreement and went home. It’ll be a cold day in a globally warmed world before they slog for years so the US can step on them again.

Obama, meanwhile, is back and working the same magic on what’s left of health insurance reform. And the progressives here are also staring at a couple of dirty crumbs, swallowing hard, and preparing to go along with it.

What else can they do? They couldn’t possibly walk out on him. They just have to do what he says. Get over it.

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The healthcare reform bill’s true name: The American Womens’ Catholic Conversion Bill

It’s worse than we thought.  Stateofdisbelief unpacks it for us on the Conscience Rule.

In the Chairman’s recent amendment (read: bribe for Nelson’s vote) here is what it says:

(A) IN GENERAL.–Nothing in this Act shall be construed to have any effect on Federal laws regarding– ‘(i) conscience protection; ‘(ii) willingness or refusal to provide abortion; and ‘(iii) discrimination on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.

The current status of the conscience rules themselves are that in March of 2009 HHS posted a proposed rule change to withdraw all of the Bush changes.  Comments were due in April 09 (30 day period) but to date, no action is showing on the docket.  It’s as if they just put out the proposal and then dropped it.  Here is the register link.  You can click on the docket # to get the actions taken on the proposal.  http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=090000648090229f

Didja get that?  The Bush Conscience Rule is still in effect and Reid’s manager’s amendment keeps it safe.

That’s right.  At any point in time when you feel you might like to exercise your own conscience regarding birth control and other health care related to reproduction, a Catholic or religious fundamentalist can override your decision and substitute their own consciences.  And there won’t be a bloody thing you can do about it.

You will become an automatic Catholic or fundamentalist convert right there on the spot.

Obama did NOTHING to remove the Bush Conscience Rule.  In fact, he’s probably hoping no one would notice that he is appeasing the evangelicals and Catholics while eliminating the rights of other believers and non-believers to follow their own consciences.

And this is OK for Kirsten Gillibrand, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Barbara Mikulski and others?  THAT is what they are voting for: involuntary conversion of American women to fundamentalist religious doctrine.

I haven’t heard these senators calling on Obama to rescind the Bush Conscience Rule right this very minute, have you?

Meanwhile, Protestants apparently only have the right to consult their own consciences in places ike Old Europe:

Live blogging the healthcare reform bill: What about the Conscience Rule? (or “All women are Catholic now”)

John Ensign just got done flapping his jaw right now on C-Span about the individual mandate.  It’s unconstitutional, he says, to make people buy insurance.  I don’t know about the constitutionality of it but it certainly is callous and stupid to make them buy insurance they can’t afford and for which there will be no anti-trust regulations or competition among the insurance companies to keep premiums low and affordable.

But, what about the Bush Conscience Rule?  Remember that gift that the Bushies left us before they grabbed the loot and left the White House?  You know, the one where some nosy pharmacist out in East Bumfuck can deny women access to her birth control or some other medical procedure if they feel it violates his/her conscience?  Like, you go to get your Yaz prescription filled for that weekend you planned with your SO and the lady behind the counter says, “Sorry, no.  I’m Catholic and this weekend, you’re going to be Catholic too.”?  Where did I read that Bob Casey was thrilled that Harry Reid’s manager’s compromise would strengthen that?

And where is the female US senator who will stand up and threaten a filibuster if it  isn’t removed from the final bill?  And if she does, will it all be planned theater to make the health care bill go down easier? Will there be a scurrying of last minute negotiations to appease one of our female senators or will all of them decide to forego their own consciences to achieve a pyrrhic victory for the party?

I noticed that they plan to pass this on Christmas Eve.  Will they all light their little candles, join hands afterwards and sing Silent Night?

Round yon virgin, mother and child, Holy infant so tender and mild

And now part of every childbearing woman’s health care policy!

Remember, once you enshrine it into law, you’re going to have to live with the consequences.

Aw, jeez, now Orrin Hatch is blathering.  Shoot me now.