The Washington Post breaks down the differences between “McCain the reformer” and “McCain the candidate.” The Post notes: “Just about a year and a half ago, Sen. John McCain went to court to try to curtail the influence of a group to which A. Jerrold Perenchio gave $9 million. … As McCain launches his own presidential campaign, however, he is counting on Perenchio, the founder of the Univision Spanish-language media empire, to raise millions of dollars [for his exploratory committee].”
We have a serious problem. America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.–President Bush, 2006
In the absence of revolutionary changes in energy policy, we are risking multiple disasters for our country that will constrain living standards, undermine our foreign- policy goals, and leave us highly vulnerable to the machinations of rogue states.–Senator Richard Lugar, 2006
Our ever- worsening addiction to oil makes America less secure. Since 1990, we have fought two wars in the Persian Gulf. We suffered a major terrorist attack funded largely by Persian Gulf oil money. Every year we send more than $250 billion overseas because we import most of our oil. Oil prices keep spiking above $70 a barrel, and gasoline above $3 a gallon. The economic lifeblood of our country is held hostage to countries that are antidemocratic and politically unstable–and to terrorists who keep targeting the world’s oil infrastructure. Price spikes above $100 a barrel (and $4 a gallon) are all but inevitable in the coming years. And many fear we may be close to seeing worldwide oil production peak and then decline, which will bring an era of steadily rising oil and gasoline prices.
It’s no wonder that politicians–even those who don’t worry about global warming–keep talking about oil. So why haven’t we taken any serious action on oil for decades? The answer is simple– reducing U.S. oil consumption requires a major government-led effort, such as much tougher mileage standards, and our political leaders have rejected such efforts (except for ones that are merely cosmetic).
The astonishing January 2006 statement by President Bush’s EPA administrator, Stephen Johnson, bears repeating: “Are we going to tell people to stop driving their cars, or do we start investing in technology? That’s the answer, investing in those technologies.” This false choice leaves the nation with no oil policy except strong, empty rhetoric suggesting that the cure for our addiction to oil can be found in happy talk about future technology.
Let’s be the generation that ends poverty in America. Every single person willing to work should be able to get job training that leads to a job, and earn a living wage that can pay the bills, and afford child care so their kids have a safe place to go when they work. Let’s do this.
That’s the way to go, isn’t? To be frank, nobody can be quite sure precisely what combination of policies can get this done. The thing to do, even in the absence of political constraints, would be to try some stuff. You’d need to make some existing things more generous, you’d need to try some reforms here and there, you’d need to start some new initiatives and . . . you’d need to be prepared for the fact that some of it probably wouldn’t work and you’d need to try something else. Goals are good.
Also note: “But all of this cannot come to pass until we bring an end to this war in Iraq. Most of you know I opposed this war from the start. I thought it was a tragic mistake.” My instinct is that this is going to be a powerful point.
This week, Congress held its first hearing on the landmark IPCC report on climate change. That report concluded that global warming is “unequivocal” and human activity is the main driver, “very likely” causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950.
During the hearing, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) — one of the 87 percent of congressional Republicans who do not believe in man-made global warming — questioned the authors of the report about a period of dramatic climate change that occured 55 million years ago. “We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?’
Presumably, Rohrabacher was referencing a period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Then, as in now, “sharp rises in temperature were initiated and driven by large spikes in greenhouse gases. … It took over 100K years for the ocean, atmosphere, and temperatures to return to their previous state. The result was a mass extinction event that took millions of years to recover from.” But scientists believe that massive methane releases from the ocean floors — not dinosaur farts — were the cause.
In sharp contrast to Rohrabacher, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) delivered an opening statement recommending mandatory caps on global warming pollution and calling out conservatives for rejecting science. “For twelve years, the leadership in the House of Representatives stifled all discussion and debate of global warming. That long rejection of reality is over, to the relief of Members on both sides of the aisle.”
Transcript: Read more
Hillary Clinton tells the New Hampshire Union-Leader, “When I set forth my reasons for giving the President that authority, I said that it was not a vote for pre-emptive war.” Obviously, though, the authority she did give the president was the authority to launch a pre-emptive war. More to the point, however, whatever Clinton thought she was doing in October 2002, if she disapproved of what Bush decided to do in March 2003 she could have spoken up. All I can find in a critical vein from Senator Clinton on Iraq in that period is this press release in which she criticized the president’s homeland security funding and asks that additional monies by appropriated for this purpose when the inevitable Iraq supplemental comes down. She doesn’t actually criticize the president’s Iraq policy at all. On March 17, meanwhile, she issued a clear and unambiguous statement of support for Bush’s position:
When the President of the United States addresses the nation about possible military action, it is a solemn occasion for every American. Tonight, the President gave Saddam Hussein one last chance to avoid war, and the world hopes that Saddam Hussein will finally hear this ultimatum, understand the severity of those words, and act accordingly. While we wish there were more international support for the effort to disarm Saddam Hussein, at this critical juncture it is important for all of us to come together in support of our troops and pray that, if war does occur, this mission is accomplished swiftly and decisively with minimum loss of life and civilian casualties. I have had the honor of meeting and speaking with many of our brave men and women in uniform. They are the best trained, equipped, and motivated military in the entire world, we support them fully and we are grateful for their courageous service in these difficult times.
This should all come as no surprise as Clinton was happy for years to be identified as a war supporter. Like millions of Americans, myself included, her views on the merits of the war have changed as we watched events unfold on the ground and as we gave the matter further thought. She might as well just say so, since pretending otherwise is pretty silly — she’s not an obscure figure, everybody knows she was for the war.
“Iraqi commanders are urging the Americans to go after Sunni targets as the first focus of the military push to secure Baghdad, displaying a sectarian tilt that is delaying full implementation of the plan to drive gunmen from the streets,” the AP reports. “American officers, interviewed at the sprawling Camp Victory base at the western edge of the capital, also acknowledge they are finding little in their initial searches of Baghdad neighborhoods — suggesting either they received faulty intelligence or that the massive publicity that preceded the operation gave militants time to slip away.”
Read this, and then read a few points on top of it. More later.
There are various theories about how front-loading will affect the 2008 contest. One is that it will actually magnify the importance of Iowa, where all indications are that there will be a close four-way race among Clinton, Edwards, Obama and Vilsack. Another is that the candidates with the most money and national support will “go long” and husband resources for delegate-rich post-SC states like CA and FL.
I would only observe that to a surprising extent there’s no real “answer” to this question. A whole bunch of influential reporters (the mythic “gang of 500″) could just decide they don’t really want to spend winter in Des Moines, proclaim that under the new schedule Iowa doesn’t really matter, and then all head down to Florida and California to cover the newly important warm-weather primaries. The whole process unfolds according to a series of more-or-less arbitrary pseudo-rules than the media (and to some extent big dollar donors) are just kind of making up as they go along.
Mike Allen begins the attacks on Barack Obama while pretending to be reporting on the attacks others will be beginning shortly. Allen’s first gotcha? “Why has he sometimes said his first name is Arabic, and other times Swahili?” As Brad DeLong points out, he’s sometimes said “Barack” is an Arabic word because it is an Arabic word. At other times, he’s described “Barack” as a Swahili word because . . . it’s also a Swahili word. Yes, yes. Some words are words in more than one language. Shocking stuff. I also enjoyed Allen’s account of why Obama is too liberal:
“Audacity of Hope” advocates civil unions for gay people (a position held by most national democratics), declaring tartly that Obama is not “willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount.” He says he doesn’t “believe we strengthen the family by bullying or coercing people into the relationships we think are best for them – or by punishing those who fail to meet our standards of sexual propriety.”
He writes that Bill Clinton and conservatives turned out to be “right about welfare as it was previously structured.” He adds, “But we also need to admit that work alone does not ensure that people can rise out of poverty.”
So he has one stand that all Democrats adhere to, but has an unusually compelling, Bible-based rationale for it. That won’t fly! Then he says Bill Clinton was right about welfare reform (so very liberal!) but also that “work alone does not ensure that people can rise out of poverty.” But does anyone deny this? It’s a matter of math. The minimum wage is so many dollars per hour, those dollars per hour times a forty hour workweek equals sub-poverty living for many families. To avoid being objectionably liberal these days we need to pretend all full-time work pays a non-poverty wage even when it doesn’t?
UPDATE: Michael Crowley: “if this is the best people have got (which I doubt: the really saucy stuff will spill in more dramatic fashion) then Barack shouldn’t sweat.” Agreed.
After 371 years and 27 white men, Harvard University will this weekend appoint its first woman president, Drew Gilpin Faust. “With Faust’s selection, half of the eight Ivy League schools will be run by women: Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Brown University.”