Faiz Shakir

Can a New Bill on Climate Legislation Get Things Back on Track and Counter Rising Attacks Against Science?

This story was written by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Brad Johnson, Zaid Jilani, and Alex Seitz-Wald.

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Dodd Headed to Treasury?

This morning, The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder reported that retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) may be offered a job in the Obama administration. “Privately, senior White House officials have communicated to Dodd their belief that his position was untenable. A sinecure or administration position is likely,” he wrote. Roll Call further speculates that Treasury Secretary could be a possibility:

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Harlem Gospel Choir Pulls Out of Glenn Beck Event

The renowned Harlem Gospel Choir was scheduled to perform the opening act for the simulcast film of Glenn Beck’s novel “The Christmas Sweater — A Return to Redemption,” which premiers Thursday in theaters nationwide. But the choir has pulled out of the event, citing financial reasons. However, the New York Daily News reports that the likely motivation for the choir’s decision has more to do with Beck’s hateful statements:

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Inhofe Trashes Military Generals Who Advocate For Clean Energy Legislation

In testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn articulated a national security argument for passing clean energy legislation. “Continued over reliance on fossil fuels, or small, incremental steps, simply will not create the kind of future security and prosperity that the American people and our great Nation deserve,” McGinn warned.

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Fox Issues On-Air Apology for Misleading Footage of Palin Crowds

Following ThinkProgress’ report yesterday that Fox News had recycled old file footage of Sarah Palin rallies to assert that she is currently getting huge turnouts on her book tour, the network issued an on-air apology this afternoon. Fox’s Happening Now co-host Jane Skinner said it was mistake, but didn’t explain how it happened:

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Steele Agrees That GOP Should Cease To Exist In New Jersey If Corzine Wins

During an interview on MSNBC this morning, RNC Chairman Michael Steele oddly agreed that if the Republican Party cannot pull out a victory against incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine in the upcoming New Jersey gubernatorial race, it should just give up and cease to exist.

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Rush Limbaugh Claims He Spawned Glenn Beck

There have been indications that Rush Limbaugh is growing jealous of Glenn Beck’s success. Limbaugh recently suggested to Politico that Beck’s promotion of the 9/12 march was “cheap and disingenuous.” In the second part of her interview with Limbaugh, NBC’s Jamie Gangel asked the hate radio host what he thinks of Glenn Beck. Limbaugh responded somewhat defensively:

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Tough Progressive House Member Alan Grayson Gives GOPers a Taste of Their Own Medicine

Yesterday, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) said the Republican health care plan is “don’t get sick,” and if you do get sick, “die quickly.” After offering those facetious and sadly accurate remarks, Grayson came under criticism from Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who demanded that Grayson apologize on the House floor. Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Grayson said, “Yes, it was tongue-in-cheek. I’m surprised I have to explain that, but that’s the way it goes these days.” He added that he’s “not taking any of it back” and will “stand by what I said.” When asked if he would apologize, Grayson offered this response:

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Romney Touts Fox Nation Website as Ticket to GOP Political Success

Earlier this year, the so-called “fair and balanced” network launched its Fox Nation website, an opinionated online forum. Fox VP Bill Shine said, “We’re calling it a mix between the Huffington Post and Drudge,” and asserted that the network’s reporting is “aggressive but not ideological.” Promotional materials for the site claim: “It’s time to say NO to biased media.” Apparently, leading Republican officials didn’t get the talking points.

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Tennessee Mayor Defends Sending Out Anti-Muslim E-mail

Johnny Piper, the mayor of Clarksville, TN, recently forwarded an anti-Muslim email urging all "patriotic Americans" to protest a U.S. Postal Service stamp that commemorates an Islamic holiday. Piper’s email falsely claims that the creation of the Eid stamp was ordered by President Obama. In fact, the stamp was first issued in 2001, during the Bush administration. It was reissued in 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Nevertheless, Piper is defending his email:

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Kansas School District Bans T-Shirts Depicting Evolution

T-shirts worn by members of the Smith-Cotton High School band have been recalled by the (Kansas) school district because they contained images of evolution. The t-shirts featured an image of a monkey holding a brass instrument and progressing through various stages of evolution until eventually becoming a human. "I was disappointed with the image on the shirt," said Sherry Melby, a band parent who teaches in the district. "I don't think evolution should be associated with our school." Assistant superintendent Brad Pollitt explained that the t-shirts were banned because they were imposing on religious views:

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South Carolina Republicans to Discuss Impeaching Mark Sanford

 South Carolina state house Republicans are meeting this weekend to discuss “what it would take to force the Republican governor out and how the process would work.” Ever since acknowledging his extramarital affair with an Argentine woman, Gov. Mark Sanford has been under fire for possibly violating state law by flying in expensive business-class seats. Sanford has thus far refused to resign from office, forcing state Republicans to consider alternative means:

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Missouri Car Dealer Offers Free AK-47 With Purchase of New Truck

Mark Muller, the president of Max Motors in Missouri, is offering a gift certificate for a Kalashnikov AK-47 rifle to anyone who purchases a pick-up truck. Muller, whose business slogan is "God, Guns, Guts, and American Pick-Up Trucks," said the response to the offer has been very strong. "There is a lot of worry about crime, we have a methamphetamine problem around here and people just want to protect themselves," said Muller. The UK Telegraph notes that there may be other dynamics at play:

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Will the Right Succeed in Butchering the American Clean Energy and Security Act?

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."

Colbert Report Visits Iraq

The U.S. Army confirms that Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” has arrived in Iraq to tape a week of shows. Colbert’s trip is dubbed “Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando.” The visit was organized by United Service Organisations (USO), which arranges entertainment and support for American troops overseas. “The USO counts this as military service, right?” Colbert said in a press release. “I might want to run for office some day.”

Right-Wing Hate Machine Launches Vicious Campaign of Racist and Sexist Attacks on Sotomayor

This piece was written by by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Ali Frick, Ryan Powers, and Brad Johnson.

The radical right wing has launched a vicious campaign of racist and sexist attacks against Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's selection to replace the retiring Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court. Sotomayor's "compelling life story" involves a brilliant legal career after being raised in a South Bronx public housing project by parents who moved from Puerto Rico. Sotomayor graduated from Princeton University summa cum laude, edited the Yale Law Journal, then served as a "fearless and effective" New York City prosecutor and corporate lawyer before being appointed to the bench by President George H. W. Bush in 1992. "Since joining the Second Circuit in 1998, Sotomayor has authored over 150 opinions," only three of which have been overturned by the Supreme Court's conservative majority. During her time as an appeals judge, "her influence has grown significantly." Public reaction to the nomination of the first Latina and third woman to the nation's highest court is "decidedly more positive than negative." Former Bush adviser Mark McKinnon remarked, "If Republicans make a big deal of opposing Sotomayor, we will be hurling ourselves off a cliff." However, "the same right-wing extremists who drove the country into the ground," Salon's Glenn Greenwald writes, "continue to attack Sonia Sotomayor with blatant and ugly stereotypes." Right-wing pundit Pat Buchanan called Sotomayor an "affirmative action candidate," and Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes claimed she "has benefited from affirmative action over the years tremendously." As hate-radio extremist Glenn Beck described the nomination: "Hey, Hispanic chick lady! You're empathetic ... you're in!"

'Wise Latina Woman'

"[L]ess than 24 hours after President Obama's nomination of Sotomayor," right-wing hate merchants seized on a 2001 speech about her Latina heritage and the courts, calling her "a racist" and a "bigot." In a 2001 speech before the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal's annual symposium, Sotomayor argued that judges' gender and race can influence their decisions on gender and race discrimination cases, saying she "would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

However, she cautioned she owes the parties who appear before her "constant and complete vigilance in checking [her] assumptions, presumptions and perspectives." Pulling out the "wise Latina woman" phrase, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich attacked Sotomayor on his Twitter feed as a "Latina woman racist." "Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist," hate-radio host Rush Limbaugh complained, "and now he's appointed one...to the U.S. Supreme Court." Former Republican House member and anti-immigration extremist Tom Tancredo agreed that Sotomayor "appears to be a racist" and called La Raza the "Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses."

Curt Levey, executive director of Committee for Justice, "a conservative legal group active in judicial nominations," said that "I wonder whether she knows the difference" between being a Puerto Rican advocate -- Sotomayor served on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund in the 1980s -- and being a judge. Some of the racist attacks on Sotomayor are simply absurd. Mark Krikorian of the right-wing Center for Immigration Studies blogged on the National Review's Corner about his outrage over people "[d]eferring" to Sotomayor over the "unnatural pronunciation" of her own name.

'Sort of a Schoolmarm'

Right-wing extremists have also launched vicious attacks on her intelligence, temperament, and demeanor.  Karl Rove, President Bush's "political brain," has led the sexist slurs, claiming that Sotomayor is "not necessarily" smart and has acted "like sort of a schoolmarm" on the Second Circuit. "I'm not really certain how intellectually strong she would be," he opined on Fox News. In the Wall Street Journal, Rove argued she is one of those judges selected "for their readiness to discard the rule of law whenever emotion moves them."

Citing anonymous attacks promoted by the New Republic, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes said that Sotomayor was "not the smartest." The New York Times writes that "to detractors, Judge Sotomayor's sharp-tongued and occasionally combative manner -- some lawyers have described her as 'difficult' and 'nasty' -- raises questions about her judicial temperament and willingness to listen." But a fellow Second Circuit judge, Guido Calabresi, "kept track of the questions posed by Judge Sotomayor and other members of the 12-member court" and found that her "behavior was identical." "Some lawyers just don't like to be questioned by a woman," Judge Calabresi added. "It was sexist, plain and simple."

Republican Senators Step Back

Although Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said that Sotomayor may be subject to the "undue influence" of her race and gender, Republican senators have attempted to distance themselves from the hatred. Even Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who announced he would vote against Sotomayor's nomination, said, "I think that we should be judging people not on race and gender, or background or ethnicity or a very compelling story."

Some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will conduct hearings on Sotomayor's nomination this summer, have directly denounced the worst invective. Responding to the attacks on Sotomayor calling her "racist," Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told NPR's "All Things Considered," "I think it's terrible. This is not the kind of tone that any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advice and consent." 

"I don't agree with" the "racist" smear, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said recently. "If there are no otherwise disqualifying matters here it appears to me she will probably be confirmed," Hatch told CNN Radio yesterday.

Olbermann Rescinds Charity Offer for Cowardly Hannity

Last month on his Fox News show, torture enthusiast Sean Hannity claimed he would agree to be waterboarded “for charity…for the troops’s families.” MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann immediately took up Hannity’s pledge, offering $1,000 to charity for every second Hannity withstood waterboarding.

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MoveOn Calls for Bybee Impeachment

MoveOn released a video today calling for the impeachment of Jay Bybee. Watch it:

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Secessionist Texas Governor Asks for Federal Help to Deal with Swine Flu

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who was last making headlines for suggesting that Texas may consider seceding from the Union, is requesting help from the federal government to deal with a possible swine flu pandemic:

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Iraqis Execute Six Gay Men in Past 10 Days

An Iraqi defense ministry official reports that at least six gay men have been shot dead in two separate incidents during the past 10 days in a Shia-controlled part of Baghdad. The official said today that three bullet-riddled bodies of gay individuals have been identified in Sadr City:

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Howard Dean as Surgeon General?

Earlier last week, The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky first floated the idea of nominating Howard Dean to fill the vacant Surgeon General post. Over the past few days, many media outlets have written articles exploring the possibility that the former Vermont Governor, doctor, and DNC Chairman might be picked. Now, CNN is reporting that the White House is giving consideration to Dean:

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Is Jeb Bush Criticizing Rush Limbaugh?

In an interview with Fred Barnes for the Wall Street Journal, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) advised Republicans to “avoid personal, partisan attacks� on President Obama:

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Uncompromising Conservatives Attack Obama for His Bipartisan Actions

For the past two months, President Obama has bent over backwards to act in a bipartisan manner to solicit Republican support for an economic recovery package. "The monopoly on good ideas does not belong to a single party," Obama told Republican and Democratic leaders in a closed-door meeting before his inaugration. "If it's a good idea, we will consider it."

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Obama to Introduce Executive Pay Limits for Bailed Out Companies

The Obama administration plans to mandate new executive pay limits for financial companies that are receiving any help from the $700 billion bailout fund. "If the taxpayers are helping you, then you've got certain responsibilities to not be living high on the hog," President Obama said in an interview. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has proposed that no employee of a bailed-out company can receive more than $400,000 in total compensation until it pays the money back.

Israel Prepares Post-War Battle for Public Opinion

Earlier this month, NBC's war correspondent Richard Engel reported that Israel was waiting until Barack Obama's inauguration to let reporters into Gaza, when viewers "simply won't care." Yesterday, Israel declared its war with Gaza over, meaning reporters may now be allowed to enter the strip:

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Obama Breaks Bread With a Host of Right-Wing Propagandists?

Last night around 6:30 pm ET, Barack Obama arrived at the home of conservative columnist George Will to dine with a host of right-wing luminaries. Brimming with giddiness, pool reporter Kenneth Bazinet of the New York Daily News reported:

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White House Press Corps Sends Off Bush with a Very Awkward Goodbye

At the conclusion of President Bush's final White House press conference earlier this morning, he addressed reporters, telling them: "It has been an honor to work with you. ... I wish you all the very best." And with that, Bush concluded the briefing and walked off the podium, leaving the press corps unsure of how to react. Some hesitated to stand, while most stayed seated. One said "thank you Mr. President," and a small number offered half-hearted applause. Watch it:

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Reporter Suggests Rahm Emanuel May Have Tipped Off Feds about Blagojevich

Marcy Wheeler catches local Chicago press reporting that Rahm Emanuel may have tipped off federal investigators that Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was engaging in corrupt acts. Jack Conaty, a Chicago reporter for the local Fox affiliate, said on-air that Rahm Emanuel might have been responsible for causing federal investigators to act quickly to apprehend Blagojevich this morning:

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Bill Kristol Thinks America Should Reward Torturers

In his new Weekly Standard column, right-wing pundit Bill Kristol lays out a to-do list for President Bush before he leaves office. He urges Bush to deliver speeches "reminding Americans of our successes fighting the war on terror." Kristol dreams, "Over time, Bush might even get deserved credit for effective conduct of the war on terror."

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GOP Remains Indecisive About Ted Stevens

In their GOP conference meeting today, Senate Republicans punted “on the thorniest question -- whether to formally expel Sen. Ted Stevens from their ranks.” Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) had planned to offer a resolution that read:

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