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."
For over seven minutes last night, Jon Stewart grilled former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on his opposition to gay marriage. Huckabee is touring the country to promote his new book, "Do The Right Thing." When Stewart compared gay marriage bans to interracial marriage bans, Huckabee restated his view that homosexuality is simply a behavior choice:
STEWART: Segregation used to be the law until the courts intervened.
HUCK: There's a big difference between a person being black and a person practicing a lifestyle and engaging in a marital relationship.
STEWART: Okay, actually this is helpful because it gets to the crux of it. ... And I'll tell you this: Religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality. And the protections that we have for religion -- we protect religion. And talk about a lifestyle choice -- that is absolutely a choice. Gay people don't choose to be gay. At what age did you choose to not be gay?
Huckabee tried to insist that "60 percent of the American population" opposes gay marriage. Stewart interrupted him, calling it a "travesty" that gay Americans have to plead for their civil rights:
Politico reports today that the Republican National Committee spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup for Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) in September -- in addition to the more than $150,000 the RNC has spent on clothing and accessories for Palin. AMERICAblog points out the amount is just half of what the RNC spends on makeup for Sen. John McCain: The RNC shelled out $8,672.55 for McCain's makeup in September, employing celebrity makeup artist Tifanie White.
Last night on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow hosted David Frum, former speechwriter to President Bush, to discuss the increasingly nasty -- and sometimes racist -- tone among some of the attendees at McCain-Palin rallies. Frum has been openly critical of the McCain campaign, and Maddow intended to discuss his concerns about the campaign’s turn toward negativity.
From his first answer, however, it was clear Frum had a very different agenda: to attack Rachel Maddow. Discussing the “ugliness of tone” in American politics, he said that Maddow’s show, “unfortunately, is itself an example of that problem.” He then compared her tone to the hateful outbursts of some McCain-Palin supporters:
MADDOW: Do you think that my tone on this show is equivalent to people calling Barack Obama somebody who pals around with terrorists, people yelling from the audience at McCain-Palin rallies, Bomb Obama. Kill him. Off with his head. Traitor. Are you accusing me of an equivalence in tone?
FRUM: I don’t think that’s an important question. I think the question is, given the small plate of responsibility that you personally have, how do you manage that responsibility? The fact that other people fail in other ways is not an excuse for you failing in your way.
MADDOW: But you did just say it’s the same thing, that you’re seeing the same thing on this show in a lot -
FRUM: I worry about that.
After repeatedly rejecting MSNBC's Rachel Maddow's invitations to appear on her show, the campaign for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) finally sent aide Nancy Pfotenhauer to appear as a guest on Friday night. Maddow opened by saying she "could not be happier" to welcome Pfotenhauer:
Since this show started, we have been talking a lot about what's been going wrong with he McCain campaign and what they or he the candidate could do about it. But we have yet to have the benefit of hearing directly from anyone from the McCain campaign to share with us their view of the state of the race. That all changed tonight, and I could not be happier about it.
Maddow asked Pfotenhauer about Friday's Washington Post article detailing McCain's Senate chief of staff's close and lucrative ties to Freddie Mac -- coupled with McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis, who earned millions lobbying for Fannie and Freddie. Pfotenhauer brushed off the question, claiming "everybody has plenty of associations to point to." Watch it:
A new Pew poll surveying 24 countries finds that there is “a widespread belief that U.S. foreign policy ‘will change for the better‘ after the inauguration of a new American president next year”:
Today, however, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said that he has a “personal preference” for McCain because he “would no longer be the oldest person at the upcoming (Group of Eight summits).” McCain is a month older than the 71-year-old Berlusconi.
People around the world who have been paying attention to the American election express more confidence in Barack Obama than in John McCain to do the right thing regarding world affairs. McCain is rated lower than Obama in every country surveyed, except for the United States where his rating matches Obama’s, as well as in Jordan and Pakistan where few people have confidence in either candidate.
Just over an hour ago, the Senate voted overwhelmingly — a veto-proof 75-22 — to approve Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) 21st Century GI Bill, which would expand educational benefits for veterans who joined the service after Sept. 11, 2001.
Before the vote, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who introduced his own watered-down, paltry version of the GI bill, exhorted President Bush to veto the measure, as he has indicated he will. Graham also insisted that his Republican colleagues would “get rewarded in the next election” if they vote against GI benefits:
This is a defining moment for the Senate, for the Republicans, and this war. I can tell you if we leave the generals alone and support our troops, they will win this war. And to my Republican colleagues, if we’ll stand firm for a fair procedure and a sensible solution to the veterans’ problems, we will get rewarded in the next election, not punished. If we give into this, we don’t deserve to be here.
It’s an odd proposition. A recent poll documented Americans’ overwhelming support for dramatically increased educational benefits of the kind Webb’s bill provides:
Blasting Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in a speech Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said negotiating with Iran would make President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “unlikely to abandon the dangerous ambitions that will have given him a prominent role on the world stage.” When Time’s Joe Klein pointed out that Ayatollah Kahmenei and the National Security Council — not Ahmadinejad — set Iranian foreign policy, McCain dismissed the important distinction, arguing that “any average American” thought of Ahmadinejad as the Iranian leader, and so he would, too.
Speaking with ThinkProgress yesterday afternoon, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) blasted McCain for his “overwhelming lack of sophistication” when it comes to foreign policy, and said McCain, as a presidential candidate, should know more than “average Americans” when it comes to Iran:
I just think that it’s a reflection. I don’t want an average American as president. I have great respect for average — average Americans don’t want an average American president of the United States of America. I want someone above average. I want someone who knows what they’re dealing with. And it surprises me that John didn’t understand the complexities of the power struggle going on in Iran right now.
Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Max Boot is one of the most vocal supporters of a neocon foreign policy. He says those who favor withdrawal from Iraq engage in wishful thinking and claims there is copious evidence that Iran is training al Qaeda. He said former CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon's hesitation to bomb Iran embolden[ed] the mullahs, and claimed that the recently-revealed Pentagon propaganda program is simply part and parcel of the daily grind of Washington journalism.
He has also been a vociferous defender of the Iraq troop surge. Today, in an online debate on the surge, Boot points to the overall decrease in troop deaths as evidence of its success:
I could cite statistics to show how the Ã¢â‚¬Å“surgeÃ¢â‚¬Â�Ã¢â‚¬â€�not only an increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq but also a change in their strategy to emphasis classic counterinsurgencyÃ¢â‚¬â€�has been paying off: Civilian deaths were down more than 80 percent and U.S. deaths down more than 60 percent between December 2006 and March 2008.Just two days ago, however, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Boot argued that the recent increase in U.S. troop casualties showed the surge was working. Acknowledging that April was the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq since August (Boot says 52 soldiers died; in fact 54 did), Boot says the U.S. is approaching Ã¢â‚¬Å“the enemyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defeatÃ¢â‚¬Å“:
Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh returned to the airwaves after his holiday break. Rather than endorsing a candidate for president -- something his followers have long speculated about -- Limbaugh promoted himself for the top job, saying that his "experience" criticizing the Clinton administration through the 1990s made him the most qualified candidate:
I want to discuss with you my qualifications, the qualifications that I possess that suggest that it is I, El Rushbo, who can lead you through this difficult period. [...]
For eight years folks, from 1993 through the end of the year 2000, I was there, with Bill Clinton, every day. I advised Clinton on every key issue. I was working behind the scenes to run the country and add to his legacy. I'm not saying he listened to me, but I was there, as were you. [...]
The influence this program exerted on Bill Clinton, should I have chosen to run for president would qualify me more than his wife, ladies and gentlemen. But when those records are released you will see how much of a factor I was in the Clinton White House and how successful I was as the real co-president.Limbaugh's self-important, self-endorsement is clearly tongue-in-cheek. Even so, Limbaugh's history of outrageous statements and claims is anything but presidential:
- Limbaugh has called American service men and women who criticize the Iraq war "phony soldiers."