Greg Mitchell’s account of Bill Clinton’s appearance on Charlie Rose:
Repeatedly dismissive of Obama — which could come back to haunt the Clinton campaign — the former president at one point said that voters were, of course, free to pick someone with little experience, even “a gifted television commentator” who would have just “one year less” experience in national service than Obama. He had earlier pointed out that Obama had started to run for president just one year into his first term in the U.S. Senate. [...]
[Clinton] also hit back at the charge that experienced politicians had helped get us into the Iraq war, saying that this was “like saying that because 100 percent of the malpractice cases are committed by doctors, the next time I need surgery I’ll get a chef or a plumber to do it.”
This is pretty aggravating. Hillary Clinton was elected to the United States Senate in 2000, before which she’d never held elective office. Barack Obama was elected to Illinois Senate in 1996, and to the United States Senate in 2004. It’s true that Obama doesn’t have a ton of experience in elective office compared to Bill Richardson or Chris Dodd or Joe Biden, but there’s a perfectly reasonable case to be made that he has more experience than Hillary Clinton does.
Meanwhile, this line on the war seems like a pretty pathetic dodge. Nobody’s actually suggesting that because many members of congress voted the wrong way on the war we should elect a television commentator instead. Indeed, almost no television commentators were right about the war. By contrast, a lot of politicians were right about the war. Nancy Pelosi was right. Russ Feingold was right. Carl Levin was right. Howard Dean was right. And Barack Obama was right. If Clinton’s going to run on her alleged greater experience, surely it’s fair to point to the content of that experience and ask whether or not it’s all good experience.
As evidence mounts that abstinence-only sex ed programs are ineffective, the number of states refusing federal money for these programs has “jumped sharply in the past year.” The Washington Post reports:
At least 14 states have either notified the federal government that they will no longer be requesting the funds or are not expected to apply, forgoing more than $15 million of the $50 million available, officials said. [...]
Until this year, only four states had passed up the funding.
“We’re concerned about this,” said Stan Koutstaal of the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the program. “My greatest concern about states dropping out is that these are valuable services and programs. It’s the youths in these states who are missing out.“
I recommend that you read the entirety of John Quiggin’s post on achieving emissions reductions in the tourism sector. Also this post. But for the short term, I’d like to draw attention to one of its more trivial aspects: “BTW, what is the plural of Prius?” Inquiriting minds want to know.
Photo by Flickr user Mstorz used under a Creative Commons license
The increase in incomes of the top 1 percent of Americans from 2003 to 2005 ($524.8 billion) exceeded the total income of the poorest 20 percent of Americans ($383.4 billion), according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office. “On average, incomes for the top 1 percent of households rose by $465,700 each, or 42.6 percent after adjusting for inflation. The incomes of the poorest fifth rose by $200, or 1.3 percent, and the middle fifth increased by $2,400 or 4.3 percent.”
It seems obvious enough to me that liberals have no real reason to feel warmly about either Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee. Neither man is someone who would make a good President of the United States and neither man is someone who shares my values in any serious way.
That said, I do think liberals have pretty good reason to at least cheer them on a bit from the sidelines as their success represents the flying apart of the conservative coalition that’s been dominating American politics for decades. Ronald Reagan wielded a truly formidable political coalition that reached from the Deep South all across the West and into the suburbs of New Jersey and Illinois. George Bush has presided over a much-diminished version of that coalition — a political bloc that left little margin for error. And then he proceeded to presided over a great deal of error — massive, enormous errors — that’s left the Republican Party looking adrift and meandering and has evidently sent large segments of the conservative base to start taking a rose-colored view of these two kookie political figures and their fringy opinions.
The conservative establishment is now flailing wildly to regain control and I’m almost certain they’ll ultimately succeed in delivering the nomination to an establishment-approved figure. But the movement as a whole is clearly sputtering and sick and the better the outsider candidates do the more it frays.
The delegates at the UN climate conference on Bali managed to agree on a roadmap for fighting climate change. The roadmap — which lacks concrete carbon reduction targets — came after the U.S. was forced to change its position:
The last-minute deal came on Saturday after the US delegation made a U-turn in a final negotiating session, where Paula Dobriansky, leader of the US delegation, and her colleague James Connaughton were the target of naked animosity. When Dobriansky announced that the US would not sign up for the Bali roadmap, boos echoed through the room. Afterward the Americans were sharply attacked by several delegations. “If you’re not willing to lead, please get out of the way,” said a US environmental activist representing Papua New Guinea.
The US was opposing a proposal by the G77 bloc, which represents developing countries, for rich nations to do more to help developing countries combat increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
However opponents of binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions, such as Japan or Russia, did not come to the defense of the US, and the Americans gave in. “We will go forward and join consensus,” said Dobriansky. This time the delegation was rewarded with a standing ovation from some participants.
Andrew Revkin has more.
Now that Michael Mukasey’s fully outed himself as another pro-torture, anti-rule of law Attorney-General, Scott Lemieux reminds us of Ben Wittes’ classic argument that Senators shouldn’t care that Mukasey won’t call illegal torture “illegal” or “torture” because “The Democrats have a big club to wield over Mukasey’s head to make sure they don’t get snookered: Without a strong working relationship with them, he won’t be able to get anything done.”
The main thing an Attorney-General is supposed to get done these days, however, is to help members of the Bush administration avoid legal accountability for criminal actions undertaken in years passed. He doesn’t need any cooperation to do that job.
Lane Kenworthy, a scholar of inequality issues, has started a new blog called consider the evidence. This post considers some of the evidence on the alleged link between high levels of inequality and economic growth: not much evidence for it.
Recently, former Vice President Al Gore — to “rapturous” applause — slammed the Bush administration for being “principally responsible for obstructing progress in Bali” by opposing mandatory greenhouse gas caps.
Yesterday on Fox News, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton criticized Gore, claiming that he is “wrong” on the climate change issue. Bolton claimed that the U.S. was pursuing the right path by refusing to support mandatory limits on climate change, since Canada, Japan, Russia, and China also oppose them:
Well, not unusual for Vice President Gore to be wrong, either, as he is in this case. Of the G8 industralized democracies, four — the United States, Japan, Canada, and Russia — share our view. .. If you look at the developing countries, Brazil, India, and China all oppose these targets as well. So, the notion that this is the fault of the U.S. is wrong.
If anybody’s isolated here, I think it’s the Europeans and Al Gore. … This is a U.N. conference after all, and that’s principally what people like to do — blame us for all the problems.
I don’t think the world has a correct temperature. It goes up and it goes down.
In 2005, he “recommended scrapping” over 400 passages from a 38-page U.S. draft prepared for a U.N. climate change summit, even requesting that “respect for nature” be cut from the document.
Bolton’s environmental cluelessness is underscored by his belief that India and China, two of the heaviest greenhouse gas emitters, are a model for the U.S. to follow at Bali. Furthermore, as “the only major industrialized nation to reject the Kyoto treaty, [the U.S.] is widely seen as the outcast of Bali,” noted the LA Times.
Bolton seems to think his ideological penchant for U.S. unilateralism can be used for war in the Middle East as well as climate change.