Since Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), conservatives have grown increasingly hysterical in their opposition to clean energy and green jobs. Rep. "Smokey" Joe Barton (R-TX) -- a prominent global warming denier and top recipient of dirty coal funding -- renamed the bill. "They like to call it ACES but I call it C.R.A.P. -- continue ruining America's prosperity," he snickered. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) declared that a cap-and-trade system like the one proposed by Waxman and Markey "promises to cap our incomes, our livelihoods, and our standard of living" and will therefore "hurt American agriculture." Though Republicans have long falsely claimed that a cap-and-trade program will cost every American family $3,000, a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found "that the net annual economywide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion -- or about $175 per household." This amounts to 48 cents per day -- a little more than the cost of a postage stamp. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and former Secretary of State Richard Armitage have argued recently that climate change is also "the biggest long term threat" to America's national security. Unwilling to wait any longer for much-needed action, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced Monday that she plans to bring ACES for a House vote on Friday. Center for American Progress (CAP) CEO John Podesta acknowledged that ACES is "imperfect in its means" but ultimately "deserves the support of progressives." Though the bill may not be everything environmentalists and progressives want, Podesta, alluding to the Rolling Stones's Mick Jagger, said, "They must try this time to pass it through the House so that we can ultimately get what we need: a clean energy law that creates jobs, reduces oil use, and cuts global warming pollution."
A POSTAGE STAMP A DAY: For months, congressional Republicans have claimed that addressing climate change and transitioning to a clean energy economy would cost every American household thousands of dollars. As the Wonk Room's Brad Johnson argued in March, the claim "is a deliberate lie." "Conservatives that cite horrendous dollar figures are engaging in statistical demagoguery in an attempt to scare enough representatives to defeat the American Clean Energy and Security Act," wrote CAP Director of Climate Strategy Daniel J. Weiss. The latest CBO analysis should end this once and for all. Indeed, the CBO found that, for "households in the lowest income quintile would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020." As Weiss points out, the analysis did not even include other aspects of the bill, like energy efficiency promotion, that would further mitigate costs. In fact, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy "estimates that the efficiency provisions alone could save businesses and consumers $22 billion annually by 2020. The savings would be $170 per household in 2020 -- roughly equal to CBO's cost per household estimate for ACES in 2020," Weiss writes.
1.7 MILLION NEW JOBS: The day before the CBO's new analysis was released, two complementary reports -- prepared by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (PERI), CAP, Green For All, and the Natural Resources Defense Council -- determined that addressing climate change would create millions of new jobs. The PERI/CAP report found that a $150 billion annual investment in clean energy over 10 years -- an investment supported by ACES and the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act -- could create a net increase of 1.7 million American jobs. The second study found that "clean-energy investments create more job opportunities than spending on fossil fuels, across all levels of skill and education. The largest benefits will accrue to workers with relatively low educational credentials." Investing in clean, renewable energy creates up to four times as many jobs as an equivalent investment in oil and natural gas. Most of these green jobs will be created by retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient and by building new clean-energy projects, like wind farms. "In other words, investing in clean energy means more work for machinists, truck drivers, builders, roofers, insulators, electricians, engineers, and dispatchers." Indeed, the addition of 1.7 million jobs this year would have translated into a full point drop in national unemployment, from 9.4 to 8.4 percent.
THE RIGHT WING RAMPS UP: As Congress inches closer to ushering in a clean energy economy that creates jobs, enhances national security and protects our planet, the far right is ramping up efforts to block the necessary legislation. The oil industry has spent $44.5 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2009 alone, and last year spent 73 percent more on lobbying than it did the year before. In fact, last week a Republican group circulated a document attacking ACES as an economic burden. The Powerpoint document turned out to be drawn almost verbatim from documents by the coal lobby and Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company. And conservatives are also using new web and TV ads to fearmonger. Yesterday, Newt Gingrich's group American Solutions for Winning the Future released a grainy, black-and-white ad comparing the national economy to the infamous wobbling Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The bridge collapses as the narrator warns about the effects of a "national energy tax." "We'll lose more jobs, pay more for gas and electricity -- pushing our economy to its breaking point," the narrator intones. An RNC ad declares that cap-and-trade legislation will make "power unaffordable for all of us." These are intellectually dishonest arguments. "The point is that we need to be clear about who are the realists and who are the fantasists here," New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote. "The realists are actually the climate activists, who understand that if you give people in a market economy the right incentives they will make big changes in their energy use and environmental impact. The fantasists are the burn-baby-burn crowd who hate the idea of using government for good, and therefore insist that doing the right thing is economically impossible."
The stars of Iran’s soccer team wore green wristbands in support of the anti-government protesters, during a game broadcast live on Iranian state TV yesterday. “State television, which has been broadcasting Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s competing rallies, has steered clear of images of Mr Moussavi’s protests,” the Financial Times notes. “But given the popularity of football in Iran, keeping the match off the air would not have been an option.” Twitter user mehdi115 posted this photo:
After half-time, only one player kept his green wristband on. Iranian bloggers speculated that “Ali Abadi, chairman of the Iranian Football Federation (FFI), who is close to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had telephoned Seoul during half time and instructed the players to remove the green wristbands immediately.”
Fox News' Sean Hannity has long been a torture enthusiast. "I want to torture them to the limit," he once said of terrorists suspects. President Obama's recent decision to release Bush administration memos outlining how torture was approved at the highest levels has spurred Hannity to promote torture even more wildly. "People are going to die because of what Barack Obama is doing right now. People are going to die," he said last week, before slamming a football into his desk and declaring, "Imagine this is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's head. Dunk it in water so we can save American lives! You bet."
Last Wednesday, Hannity took his torture enthusiasm to a new level. After promoting torture during his entire program, he agreed to guest Charles Grodin's challenge to subject himself to waterboarding, volunteering to do it for charity:
GRODIN: You're for torture.
HANNITY: I am for enhanced interrogation.
GRODIN: You don't believe it's torture. Have you ever been waterboarded?
HANNITY: No, but Ollie North has and talked to me about it.
GRODIN: Would you consent to be waterboarded so we can get the truth out of you? We can waterboard you?
HANNITY: Sure. ... I'll do it for charity. I'll let you do it. ... I'll do it for the troops' families.
The next night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann declared that he would give $1,000 to charity for every second Hannity withstood waterboarding.
Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) was one of the dozens of Republican lawmakers who are addressing the anti-Obama tea parties today. He told the crowd he didn’t believe they were all “right-wing extremists,” as others had sought to portray them. “But if you are, I’m with you!” he shouted. After, he told reporters that Texas might have to secede from the union:
Perry told reporters following his speech that Texans might get so frustrated with the government they would want to secede from the union.
“There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.”
Earlier this week, Perry signed onto a nonbinding resolution claiming the federal government had overstepped its Constitutional authority. “I believe the federal government has become oppressive. I believe it’s become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of its citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,” Perry declared.
Unemployment in South Carolina reached 11 percent in February, a “dramatic increase from January’s 10.3 percent.” Five counties in the state face more than 20 percent unemployment, with the highest, Allendale County, at 23.4 percent. Even as he is being warned about enusing “chaos,” Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) continues his efforts to block $700 million in federal stimulus aid to the state, a move that could result in at least 4,700 teachers and prison guards being laid off.
Within 24 hours of calling Rush Limbaugh Ã¢â‚¬Å“"ncendiary" and "ugly," RNC Chairman Michael Steele had bowed down before the radio host, declaring, "There was no attempt on my part to diminish [LimbaughÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s] voice or his leadership." When Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about the episode today, Gibbs suggested Steele's reply proved that Limbaugh is in fact the head of the Republican Party:
GIBBS: I was a little surprised at the speed in which Mr. Steele, the head of the RNC, apologized to the head of the Republican Party.
In a new article about how the Obama administration will confront the legal challenges of Bush's war on terror, former Attorney General John Ashcroft defends the continued detention of a terror suspect, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, on a naval brig in South Carolina. Al-Marri has been held as an "enemy combatant" for more than seven years, though the government has yet to charge him with a crime. Ashcroft told the New Yorker's Jane Mayer that the only difference between Obama and Bush on detainee policy will likely be how they spell their names:
John Ashcroft, who was Attorney General when Marri was designated an enemy combatant, makes no...apologies. Interviewed just before the Inauguration, he defended what he described as a "sound decision" to "maximize the national interest," and predicted that, in the end, President Obama's approach to handling terror suspects would closely mirror his own: "How will he be different? The main difference is going to be that he spells his name 'O-b-a-m-a,' not 'B-u-s-h.'"
In December, Dick Cheney predicted that Obama would keep the Guantanamo detention facility open. When Rush Limbaugh asked whether Gitmo is something the Obama administration is "going to be appreciative of once they get there and see it," Cheney replied, "I think so."
A few days ago ThinkProgress noted that President Obama was stalling in overturning Bush's rule that allowed religious groups to discriminate -- usually against gay people -- in their hiring. Yesterday, Obama made an important gesture in naming Fred Davie, the openly gay president of Public/Private Ventures, to serve on on the policy council of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Speaking about his hopes for the Office yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama emphasized the importance of reaching out to "foster a more productive and peaceful dialogue on faith":
I don't expect divisions to disappear overnight, nor do I believe that long-held views and conflicts will suddenly vanish. But I do believe that if we can talk to one another openly and honestly, then perhaps old rifts will start to mend and new partnerships will begin to emerge. In a world that grows smaller by the day, perhaps we can begin to crowd out the destructive forces of zealotry and make room for the healing power of understanding.
(HT: Huffington Post)
During his final press conference this morning, Bush defended his response to Katrina. He said he has “thought long and hard about Katrina” and admitted that “things [could] have been done better” but denied any problem with the federal response to the disaster, insisting, “Don’t tell me the federal response was slow!”:
BUSH: You know, people said that the federal response was slow. Don’t tell me the federal response was slow when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed. … 30,000 people were pulled off roofs right after the storm moved through. That’s a pretty quick response. Could things have been done better? Absolutely, absolutely. But when I hear people say the federal response was slow, then what are they gonna say to those chopper drivers? Or to the 30,000 that got pulled off the roofs?
The federal response to Katrina was nothing short of a disaster. A 2006 report compiled by House Republicans slammed what it called “a failure of leadership,” saying that the federal government’s “blinding lack of situational awareness and disjointed decision making needlessly compounded and prolonged Katrina’s horror.” The report specifically blamed Bush, noting that “earlier presidential involvement could have speeded the response” because the president alone could have cut through bureaucratic resistance.
After a unanimous vote by a special impeachment panel yesterday, the full Illinois state House of Representative voted 114-1 to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D). The impeachment trial will be held by the state Senate.
As MSNBC pointed out, "You don't have to be guilty of committing a crime to be impeached. You just accused to be guilty of abusing your power or unable or unfit to serve."
Update: The Chicago Tribune political blog notes that Blagojevich was jogging at the time of the impeachment vote: "A Tribune photographer took pictures of Blagojevich going jogging in his Ravenswood Manor neighborhood at about 10 a.m."