First, Jonathan Finer on why you should trust BS from politicians just back from a weeklong guided tour of Iraq. Second, Marisa Taylor and Kevin G. Hall on the Commerce and Treasury Departments being misused for partisan ends.
Brad Plumer mentions an underappreciated point:
The War on Drugs, which has contributed more to our mass-incarceration orgy than anything else, strikes me as more than just Jim Crow for the 21st century. After all, as Lazare notes, in 1989 even Jesse Jackson was talking about applying “antiterrorist policies” on drug users and traffickers. Charlie Rangel was attacking Reagan for being soft on the drug menace.
Indeed, when I read Randall Kennedy’s Race, Crime, and the Law a few years ago, I was surprised to learn that Rangel was one of the movers behind creating the powder-crack sentencing gap. Not that he specifically wanted to create a gap, as such, but in the 1980s he was head of a Select Committee on narcotics and favored super-harsh sentences for crack as a way to try to protect inner city neighborhoods.
The Swamp reports that former FEMA director Michael Brown, who mismanaged the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, is now consulting and “offering disaster relief” for businesses that work with the federal government:
Michael Brown, the former federal official who bore the brunt of criticism for the government’s handling of Hurricane Katrina, has moved on to a new career — offering disaster relief and data-mining for government agencies and other customers.
One company he represents, InferX, has found work with the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, Brown says, and is attempting to sell its services to airlines and agencies that monitor passengers for potential terrorist threats. [...]
“There is life after government,” Brown says, with a caustic assessment of how the administration treated him — “even after you have been run through the wringer, even after you have been thrown under the bus by the leader of the free world.”
If you want a good primer on the dos and don’ts of designing good climate legislation, watch the Senate hearing, “Economic and International Issues in Global Warming Policy.” This was a hearing last month in front of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection, which is chaired by Joseph Lieberman (I/D, CT) and John Warner (R-VA), who have been working together on a climate bill.
All of the witnesses were good, but I thought the presentation by aptly named Blythe Masters, Managing Director, JP Morgan Securities, was especially cogent. She makes a compelling case against the safety valve:
The perennially underrated Foo Fighters cover Arcade Fire’s “Keep the Car Running” and the results are pretty solid.
Today, Karl Rove gave a media interview at an IHOP in Waco, Texas. During that interview, he says that now is not the “time for regrets.” The one instance he concedes was a mistake was when he said “something unkind” to a co-worker:
He was alternately emotional and nostalgic, clinical and unbowed, but rarely introspective, saying, “There will be time for regrets; there will be things that I didn’t do as well as I should have, there will be things that I’ve left undone.”
He only described one regret in particular: “I remember having a conversation with a colleague — I want to say not only a colleague, but a very close friend — and responding out of frustration at the end of a seemingly long, continuing dialogue that turned into an argument, and saying something unkind, and it was the worst I ever felt at the White House. I later apologized to him for it.”
Rove expressed a similar lack of introspection in a recent Wall Street Journal interview. When asked about his mistakes, he said, “I’ll put my feet up in September and think about that.”
According to the New York Times write-up of the interview, Rove never once mentions the Iraq war, which he promoted as a member of the White House Iraq Group. Nor does he address his role in leaking the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. Regarding the U.S. attorney scandal — in which he helped draw up the list of fired prosecutors — he simply states, “Everything was handled appropriately.”
Disappointingly, the closest he comes to actually revealing any differences with President Bush is admitting that he thinks that Barney, the President’s Scottish terrier, “is a lump.”
Thursday night, three rescue workers died while trying to rescue six men trapped in the Crandall Canyon mine since a massive cave-in on Aug. 6. This second cave-in injured six other rescue workers. Many experts are now questioning why the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) allowed “anyone, including rescuers, into the still-dangerous mine.”
Yesterday, Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), the Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, signaled that they will conduct hearings into the administration’s response to this recent mine tragedy:
The unfolding tragedy at the Crandall Canyon Mine has once again raised serious questions about mine safety and what we must do to improve it. The Education and Labor Committee intends to answer those questions by investigating and convening hearings at the appropriate time. Obviously, right now the only job that matters is the job of reaching the six trapped miners while limiting, as much as possible, the risk to rescuers.
At the center of this tragic recovery process is the head of MSHA, Richard Stickler. In 2006, President Bush recess-appointed Stickler, a former
Murray Beth Energy executive, whom the Senate had twice rejected because the mines he managed “incurred injury rates double the national average.” Stickler has also stated that he believes no new laws or regulations are needed for mine safety.
By law, MSHA is supposed to be in charge of managing the Utah mine tragedy. But Stickler has largely stepped aside and allowed the mine’s owner, Bob Murray, to control the disaster. It took MSHA at least two days to gain public control of the situation. On Aug. 7 press briefing, Murray used a media appearance to criticize global warming proponents, and only later “emphasized that his heart and his priorities are with the trapped miners and their families.”
Despite the Bush administration’s promises to improve mine safety after the Sago mine disaster in Jan. 2006, 40 miners were killed on the job last year, more than any year since 2001. Many of the reforms passed after Sago will not go into effect until 2009.
Alternet’s Joshua Holland reported recently, “If passed, the Bush administration’s long-sought ‘hydrocarbons framework’ law would give Big Oil access to Iraq’s vast energy reserves on the most advantageous terms and with virtually no regulation.” The framework law proposes to hand over effective control of as much as 80 percent of the country’s oil wealth.
A recent poll showed that all Iraqi ethnic and sectarian groups across the political spectrum oppose the principles enshrined in the oil law, and 419 Iraqi oil experts, economists and intellectuals recently signed their names to a statement expressing grave concern over the bill. The head of the Iraqi Federation of Union Councils said recently, “If the Iraqi Parliament approves this law, we will resort to mutiny.”
While the Bush administration has prodded the Iraqi government to pass the oil-sharing agreement, few members of Congress have voiced alarms over the details in the current bill. Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) recently told ThinkProgress that more attention needs to be paid to the oil legislation. “Who knows what’s in that,” he said. Sestak continued:
The indications from a draft of several months ago that the Kurds were using, is that…there is an undue ability of our oil companies to control the Iraqi profits by controlling the infrastructure and the wells that are there.
I mean they [U.S. oil companies] are going to get much more, if the draft is correct, of profits than we would under a normal oil sharing agreement, of these oil companies to a country like Saudi Arabia or others. Heaven forbid that at the end of this time, after all this, if we find out that there’s undue advantage given to our oil companies.
In the interview, Sestak also distanced himself from the opinions of Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack. “Even though I have great respect for Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack and their article in the New York Times, I disagree,” said Sestak. He said the security improvements that are being made in Anbar actually pre-date the escalation. Moreover, he argued these improvements in one part of the country don’t mean much if political success can’t follow:
The political situation is the absolute end game. Because even though you might be able to have an improvement in the military security, how long do we have to be there to change the minds, to the change the hearts of the Iraqis?
Transcript: Read more
Barack Obama’s campaign is prepared to announce that he won’t be participating in any more debates or “candidates’ forums” except for the handful with Democratic National Committee sponsorship. I hope (but doubt) that others follow in his lead, since I feel a vague compulsion to watch these things and form opinions about what transpired, but they’re excruciatingly boring to watch after you’ve seen a few of them.
My post on the NASA data revision and Hansen’s emails resulted in a tremendous amount of new visitors who provided thoughtful comments on both sides.
Many expressed doubts about the threat posed by global warming because: 1) the warming won’t be very severe, and/or 2) the planet is just going through a “natural” warming cycle, and/or 3) humans can’t do much to change things (because either we aren’t the main cause or the kind of emissions reductions needed are beyond the world’s capability). I won’t rebut those views here — that is the goal of this blog and my book.
These doubters don’t like being called names, especialy Denier/Denyer — and who can blame them? I am trying in this post to be clear about my terms. [Note, I use Denyer with a 'y' because that's what my publisher recommended for my book.]
I do not consider the vast majority of those doubters to be Denyers, and I doubt Hansen considers them “court jesters.” The Denyers are people who actively spread misinformation or disinformation, sometimes with funding from fossil fuel companies, but who in any case do so for a living and/or who do know better — or should.
Obviously, that latter point is a judgment call, but as my many posts about, say, the Denyers at Planet Gore demonstrate, these folks just make stuff up or willfully misinterpret the facts or the research. Michael Crichton, as a professional writer of persuasive fiction(s), is perhaps the archetypal Denyer. Indeed, I would say the defining characteristic of Denyers is that they repeat arguments/fictions that have long been debunked. For them, no amount of scientific evidence is persuasive.
For me, you are a definitely a professional Denyer if you work to obfuscate the climate change issue for an organization that has taken money from ExxonMobil. Another clue is if you follow the detailed rhetorical strategy laid out by conservative message guru Frank Luntz in his infamous memo on the environment.
Most people — including most doubters — are not in a position to render scientific judgments on climate change. They must decide whom they trust. In general, Denyers are conservatives or libertarians from places like the Competitive Enterprise Institute. So it is no surprise that doubters, who are also typically conservatives or libertarians, are more willing to put their trust in the Denyers.
Also, a point I make in my book is that because the solution to global warming requires strong government-led efforts — to put in place a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade system and efficiency standards — people who don’t believe in strong government are much less predisposed to believe in a problem that requires such a solution.