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."
A British video game development firm is in the process of creating a video game based on the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Entitled “Gitmo: Rendition,” the game “depicts the prison in the near future — after its anticipated closing by the U.S. government — as a camp run by mercenaries who detain innocents sold off to their captors to serve as ‘lab rats’ in scientific experiments.” The game’s developer hired Moazzam Begg — a “British Muslim who was detained at the American military base at Guantanamo Bay for three years” before being released uncharged — as an adviser to help make the game “more realistic.” Begg and seven other Britons detained by the U.S. recently sued the British government, “claiming U.K. authorities were complicit in their abductions, detention and interrogations.” Watch the game trailer:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/beo6xJNr1GY&hl=en&fs=1 expand=1]
On Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said that he believed the Republican party is in Ã¢â‚¬Å“deep trouble,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“getting smaller,Ã¢â‚¬Â and being led by polarizing figures like Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) and Rush Limbaugh. Powell said further that the party must realize that Ã¢â‚¬Å“Americans do want to pay taxes for services.Ã¢â‚¬Â Of Limbaugh specifically, Powell said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Today on his radio show, Limbaugh responded by calling Powell Ã¢â‚¬Å“just another liberal.Ã¢â‚¬Â Limbaugh said Powell should Ã¢â‚¬Å“close the loopÃ¢â‚¬Â and leave the Republican party instead of Ã¢â‚¬Å“claimingÃ¢â‚¬Â to be interested in reforming it. Additionally, Limbaugh reiterated his previous claim that Powell endorsed Obama only because of his race:
LIMBAUGH: [Powell] is out there saying I am killing the republican party while he endorsed and voted for Obama. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just mad at me because IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m the one person in the country who had the guts to explain his endorsement of Obama. It was purely and solely based on race! There can be no other explanation for it. What Colin Powell needs to do is close the loop and become a Democrat instead of claiming to be a Republican interested in reforming the Republican party.
Limbaugh concluded, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The only reason to endorse Obama is race. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think Powell thought he could get away without with not endorsing Obama. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ So I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In February, Washington Post columnist George Will wrote a column calling global warming a “hypothetical” calamity. Among the various uninformed claims he made in his column, Will argued that because global sea ice remained near its 1979 levels, that global warming was not occurring. Despite Will’s widely documented errors, Washington Post’s editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt, did not believe Will’s column merited any corrections. Today, however, in an article regarding new Arctic sea ice data released yesterday by NASA, Washington Post reporters Juliet Eilperin and Mary Beth Sheridan attempted to correct the record:
The Arctic sea ice cover continues to shrink and become thinner, according to satellite measurements and other data released yesterday, providing further evidence that the region is warming more rapidly than scientists had expected. […]
The new evidence — including satellite data showing that the average multiyear wintertime sea ice cover in the Arctic in 2005 and 2006 was nine feet thick, a significant decline from the 1980s — contradicts data cited in widely circulated reports by Washington Post columnist George F. Will that sea ice in the Arctic has not significantly declined since 1979.
Last night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Maddow asked former Sen. Chuck Hagel about former Vice President Cheney’s recent claims that President Obama is making the American people “less safe” by raising the “risk to the American people of another [terrorist] attack.” Hagel called Cheney’s comments “ridiculous” and “folly,” concluding “I’m sorry the Vice President said that“:
HAGEL: That’s ridiculous! It has no merit on fact or by any measurement. I mean come on, this guy hasn’t even been in office two months. The mess that the Bush administration left the Obama administration. I’m a Republican…we got America into two wars, we’ve done great damage to our economy, to our force structure, to our standing in the world. For a Vice President who participated in that, who led in that, to come on and say that this new administration has really put America in danger is just folly.
Unemployment figures released by the Labor Department this morning show that 667,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, while the number of people "remaining on the benefits roll after drawing an initial week of assistance increased by 114,000 to 5.112 million." The Washington Post explains that the "new claims are the most since October 1982, although the labor force has grown by about half since then." Additionally, last week's figures were revised upward by 4,000 to 631,000.
Yesterday, Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, complained to Politico about how Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talkers are able to "stand back and throw bricks" instead of offering "real leadership" in the middle of high-profile public policy battles. Gingrey’s brave remarks got him in hot water.
This morning -- because of what he called "high volume of phone calls and correspondence" in response to his comments -- Gingrey issued a retraction, declaring his loyalty to hate radio. "I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh," he said, later adding that he, Sean Hannity, and Newt Gingrich were "the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience."
The new season of Fox's popular terrorism drama '24' debuted Sunday night with a special two-hour episode. The season opened with the show's main character, Jack Bauer, testifying before a Senate committee. Asked by the committee if he had engaged in torture while interrogating suspected terrorists, Bauer delivered a dramatic defense of torture:
BAUER: When I am activated, when I am brought into a situation, there is a reason and that reason is to complete the objectives of my mission at all costs. [Ã¢â‚¬Â¦]
For a combat soldier the difference between success and failure is your ability to adapt to your enemy. The people that I deal with, they don't care about your rules. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ In answer to your question, am I above the law? No, sir. I am more than willing to be judged by the people you claim to represent. I will let them decide what price I should pay. Now please do not sit there with that smug look on your face and expect me to regret the decisions that I have made because, sir, the truth is I don't.
Bauer's fictional defense of torture and his fictional claims of its effectiveness are having very real consequences. Over the last two days, right-wing commentators have cheered Bauer's belligerent Senate testimony, wondering how Congress could be so ungrateful to a torture advocate like Bauer. Often their commentary has been directed at critics of the Bush administration's torture policies and suggests that the "average person" would approve of Bauer's conduct. Watch a compilation:
The right wing's love affair with Bauer's use of torture is rooted in fantasy. The so-called "ticking time bomb" scenarios that Bauer often finds himself in and that conservatives cite as instances where torture should be allowed rarely, if ever, occur. Further, where torture has been used, it almost certainly results in the extraction of unreliable or inaccurate information. The "average person" is decidedly against the use of such techniques.
The Associated Press reported yesterday that, as part of its long-fought campaign to gut the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Bush administration is pushing a last-minute regulatory change that would significantly weaken the ESA:
The rules would eliminate the input of federal wildlife scientists in some endangered species cases, [by allowing] the federal agency in charge of building, authorizing or funding a project to determine for itself whether a project would be likely to harm endangered wildlife and plants.
At today's White House press conference, a reporter asked if the Associated Press had accurately described the proposed regulatory change. Perino responded first by saying she didn't have the documentation with her, but suggested that the rule change would have little effect because the ESA doesn't help protect "any species, including ours" anyway:
PERINO: I don't have [the documentation] with me. I know conceptually what we support. And I know that the Endangered Species Act is a tangled web that doesn't actually help support any species, including our own. ...
Q: (Laughter) So you're proposing eliminating it?
A resident of Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) hometown of Wasilla filed a new ethics complaint against the governor, arguing that her recent media blitz broke state ethics rules because portions of the interviews took place in the governor’s office. The Anchorage Daily News reports:
Jane Henning, a North Slope worker from Wasilla, said he filed the complaint with the attorney general. He says Palin is promoting her future political career on state property, pointing in particular to the governor’s Nov. 10 interview with Fox News Channel host Greta Van Susteren. […]
“The governor is using her official position and office in an attempt to repair her damaged political image on the national scene,” Henning wrote.
The state executive branch ethics rules say officials can’t use state resources to help or hurt a political candidate. Or a potential candidate.