“to try to win American hearts and minds to the urgent cause of cutting carbon emissions.”
This is really just too much. As you’ll recall, after the 2004 election we were greeted to an endless series of articles about the how the problem with the Democrats was that, stuck in the iron clutches of out-of-touch left-wing interest groups, they refused to nominate candidates who veered from the liberal orthodoxy on cultural issues, even in culturally conservative districts. This wasn’t especially accurate, but never mind. Certainly, in the 2006 cycle, Democrats have tended to nominate candidates who are relatively culturally conservative in constituencies that are culturally conservative. That’s how the game is played. But along comes The New York Times with the dire warning that “if candidates like Mr. Shuler do help the Democrats gain majority control of Congress, it could come at a political price, which may include tensions in the party between its new centrists and its more liberal political base.”
A few things to note. One is that while this trend certainly is present — ironically, much more pronouncedly so in Senate races than in the House ones that are the focus of the article — a countertrend is also under way. Lots and lots of the endangered Republican seats involve center-left districts in the Northeast where voters are getting sick of the fraud caucus sham. Ask Chris Shays, or any umber of other endangered Republicans in Connecticut, New York, or Pennsylvania how they’re feeling. The other point is that agenda control matters, especially in the House. A Hastert-run House gets to try and gin up votes on issues that are going to be awkward for marginal Democrats. A Pelosi-run House won’t do that — issues that are going to create problems for the Democrats just won’t go to the floor. Instead, issues where Democrats are united but that put Republicans in awkward spots are going to be highlighted. That’s a big part of the reason why control of the House matters.
What happens when pundits stop being polite and start getting dressed up for Julian Sanchez‘s “Party of Death?” Photographic evidence here. For Wonkette’s sake, Adrienne and I restaged the shot from the 2005 edition he found so fascinating.
For an interpretation of current GOP political problems that is, I think, completely wrong take a look at Dick Armey’s argument that insufficient fealty to low-spending dogma is responsible for the situation. The thing you’ll notice is that there’s not much of an argument here as such. Instead, it’s a simple correlation observation — the Bush Republicans have spent a lot of money, and now they’re poised to lose seats. But all of the key policy steps that Armey’s citing actually came before the 2004 election, which went fine for the GOP. What’s changed between now and then isn’t domestic policy (indeed, the economy, though still soft in many respects, is almost unquestionably better than it was two years ago) but the war in Iraq.
A major new report warns that the cost of failing to take action on climate change could devastate the economy. As one British newspaper put it:
Sir Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist with the World Bank, will warn that governments need to tackle the problem head-on by cutting emissions or face economic ruin. The findings … will turn economic argument about global warming on its head by insisting that fighting global warming will save industrial nations money. The US refused to join the Kyoto protocol, the international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions, because George Bush said it would harm the economy.
The Stern report was commissioned by the British government. Sir David King, the government’s chief scientific adviser, called the 700-page report “the most detailed economic analysis that I think has yet been conducted.” Stern added:
“If no action is taken we will be faced with the kind of downturn that has not been seen since the great depression and the two world wars.”
The report notes that avoiding catastrophic climate change might cost countries 1% of gross domestic product (spent largely on clean energy technologies that have many other benefits such as reductions in urban smog), but failing to act could cost up to 20% of GDP as the world must deal with impacts such as massive flooding and hundreds of millions of environmental refugees.
“Sir Nicholas believes a window of 10 to 15 years exists to save the global economy from severe damage – but after that it will be too late.” Since America is both the biggest polluter and the biggest roadblock to international action, and since our President steadfastly refuses to take serious action, that means we really have a window of 7 to 12 years, and that means the fate of the planet will be in the hands the next president.
Let’s hope he or she understands the central lesson of the Stern report: The cost of an inaction on climate far, far exceeds the cost of action.
Today’s David Brooks column makes a good point. While Rick Santorum is one of the very most odious Senators on “culture war” issues, he’s also — for a Republican — something of a creative thinker and semi-serious thinker on questions related to the wretched of the earth, both at home and in the third world. Mark Schmitt actually did a fantastic column on this a ways back reviewing Santorum’s book and came to this conclusion:
These innovative solutions may have caused liberals some discomfort decades ago, but a dozen years after the passage of federal empowerment zones and Bill Clinton’s legislation to support community banks, “empowerment” is now very much the core strategy of modern liberalism. One might be tempted to say, as Santorum does of Senator Clinton, that behind Santorum’s rhetoric is a “left agenda,” but that wouldn’t be fair.
That’s because Santorum is prepared for this challenge. In his conclusion, he warns that “some will dismiss my ideas as an extended version of ‘compassionate conservatism.’” But it is not, he insists, because of his insistence on “moral capital,” at least as defined by him. In other words, even if liberals advocate some of the same policy solutions, they are doomed simply because they are associated with the moral tolerance of liberals. And so, in the end, it is not as easy as I had hoped it would be to separate Santorum’s interesting and laudable ideas on poverty and work-family balance from his mean-spirited and intolerant social views; they are wholly interdependent. Rather than compassionate conservatism, Santorum has fashioned something new: a mean-spirited, intolerant liberalism.
I think that’s probably right. At any rate, Santorum will almost certainly lose his seat and that will almost certainly be a change for the better. I do think, however, that Santorum was gesturing in the direction of the future of the Republican Party. These days, most of the cool kids seem to be writing books (accurately) accusing Bush of abandonning much of what’s traditionally been understood as “conservatism” and then arguing (much less persuasively) that this abandonmnet of small government orthodoxy has been the problem with Bush. Much more plausible, I think, is that Bush had the idea roughly correct — the GOP needs something like “compassionate conservatism,” an American Christian Democracy — but ran a policy shop that was far too inept and corrupt to put much meat on the bones. Someday, though, someone will figure it out.
On Friday, Lynne Cheney repeatedly attacked CNN for having a liberal bias during a combative appearance on the Situation Room. At one point, she criticized CNN for “running terrorist tapes, terrorists shooting Americans” and asked Wolf Blitzer, “Do you want us to win?” She also repeatedly asked Blitzer to end his line of questioning and focus on her new children’s book.
Today on CNN’s Late Edition, Blitzer said he was “surprised” at Cheney’s “sniping at my patriotism,” and pointed out that CNN had specifically labeled the tape of a U.S. soldier under fire as terrorist “propaganda.” He also said that CNN had made clear to Cheney’s staff “only hours before the interview” that she would be asked questions about politics during her appearance, not just about her children’s book. Watch it:
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Last week, Rush Limbaugh called Michael J. Fox “cruel” for giving people “false hope” that stem cell research will lead to medical breakthroughs:
When you start telling them there’s a cure around the corner if only somebody gets elected, you are misleading them. You are creating a false hope scenario and that is cruel.
Today on ABC, Fox responded, “What is crueler? To not have hope or to have hope?” He pointed out that “it’s not false hope, it’s a very informed hope. I mean, it’s hope that’s informed by the opinion of our leading scientists, almost to the point of unanimity” that embryonic stem cell research offers tremendous potential for treating and and even curing a wide range of diseases and injuries. (Read a list HERE.) Watch it:
Full transcript: Read more
Today on CBS’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer said, “We keep hearing from people who say the American military is turning against the war.” Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) responded, “There is no question about it.” Watch it:
– 63 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans believe the Army and Marine Corps are overextended at this time. 67 percent of Army and Marine veterans believe their forces are overextended.
– 53 percent of respondents said they “did not always know who the enemy was” when they were engaged in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
– 42 percent of the veterans said their equipment was below the military standard of being 90 percent operational. 35 percent said their Humvees and trucks were not up-armored when they arrived in-country.
Full transcript: Read more