After hard-line conservatives and tea party activists forced moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava to drop out of the race in New York's 23rd congressional district, they announced that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist would likely be their next target in the GOP civil war. Politico's Ben Smith reports that some Florida Republicans recently registered an official "Tea Party" to challenge both Republicans and Democrats:
In May, the Wonk Room’s Matt Duss noted that, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — citing a fictional novel — told the 2009 American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference that the threat of an Electromagnetic Pulse attack against the United States was why he was in “favor” of “taking out Iranian and North Korean missiles on their sites.” The next month, the New Republic’s Michael Crowley reported that the “scientifically valid,” but “not strategically realistic” scenario was being used by “a cadre of conservative hawks” to argue for “familiar hobbyhorses” like missile defense and preemptive military strikes. Now, Dave Weigel reports that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is set to headline an upcoming conference on the threat of an Electromagnetic Pulse attack against the United States, titled “EMPACT America”:
At a town hall in North Carolina yesterday, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) told a constituent that he did not know if President Obama was a United States citizen. “I haven’t seen evidence one way or the other,” said McHenry, adding that the issue is being addressed “in the courts.” In a statement today, McHenry walked back from the “birther” ledge:
Recently, the birther movement has gained greater notoriety, with CNN's Lou Dobbs promoting the discredited myth and right-wing activists confronting members of Congress. Though the conspiracy theory has been thoroughly-debunked, some Republicans continue to feed "the wacko wing" of the party. For instance, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) recently told Politico that he thinks the birthers "have a point":
Yesterday, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the body of openly gay Seaman August Provost was discovered in a guard shack at Camp Pendelton. A “person of interest” in connection to the suspected homicide is now being held in the Navy brig at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. According to Provost’s sister, he had recently complained to his family that “someone was harassing and bothering him.” According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Provost likely didn’t report the harassment because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”:
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."
At Dover Air Force Base in Delaware last night, the Pentagon granted the news media access to the arrival of a fallen soldier from overseas for the first time in 18 years. In February, the Obama administration lifted the ban on news coverage of returning war dead, which had been in place since the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Following the new policy, the media were allowed to cover the return after the military received consent from family members of the soldier. Below is the return of 30-year old Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on April 4:
When he was running for President, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) freely admitted that he was computer “illiterate” and that he relied on his aides to use a BlackBerry. But McCain recently increased his use of technology, using Twitter to mock what he thinks are the “the TOP TEN PORKIEST PROJECTS in the Omnibus Spending bill.”
In early January, when President Obama first proposed his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin balked at the proposal’s name, writing that it should be called “The Generational Theft Act of 2009.” Malkin has been pushing her attempted re-branding ever since, repeating it over and over and over again.
In a meeting with congressional leaders from both parties last week, President Obama told the GOP members that "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." As expected, Limbaugh responded to the presidential mention of his name with his usual bluster, stating, "I think Obama wants me to fail."