A new study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research “finds that right-wing think tanks got 51 percent of C-SPAN’s total coverage in 2006, while left-of-center think tanks only got 18 percent of their coverage (a mere 5 percent of which were ‘progressive’ think tanks). The other 31 percent of coverage went to centrist groups.” As TAPPED’s Kate Sheppard points out, this is at odds with C-SPAN’s stated aspiration of “a balanced presentation of points of view.”
The Department of Justice today has issued a new policy governing the communications of DoJ staffers with the White House in an effort to restore safeguards against political interference. Recall, the Alberto Gonzales-led DoJ tore down the firewalls that existed between the DoJ and the White House, leading to increased politicization at Justice. Michael Mukasey said communications about criminal and civil investigations “must be limited.” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) issued the following statement:
“Today’s new policy is a clear, unmistakable and welcome repudiation of the Gonzales era, and this change takes a significant step towards restoring Americans’ confidence in the integrity of our justice system,” Whitehouse said. “I’m encouraged that Attorney General Mukasey has honored his commitment to begin restoring the firewall against White House politicization at the Department.”
“U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson today denied California’s long-standing request for a waiver from federal law to be able to implement its own landmark regulations to slash greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.” At issue were “tailpipe standards California adopted in 2004 that would force automakers to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks by 2016.” The EPA said it did not find that separate California standards are needed to “meet compelling and extraordinary conditions.” Grist has more on the decision.
UPDATE: Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) issued the following statement: “EPA’s decision ignores the law, science, and commonsense. This is a policy dictated by politics and ideology, not facts. The Committee will be investigating how and why this decision was made.”
After Senate conservatives “filibustered an omnibus budget bill” yesterday, they set “a modern-day record for blocking the most legislation during a congressional session,” according to a new report by the Campaign for America’s Future. In just the first year of the 110th Congress, conservatives have used the filibuster 62 times, topping the record set by the entire 107th Congress. Bill Scher notes some of the legislation conservatives have worked to block.
After Attorney General Mike Mukasey blocked CIA officials from appearing at a closed hearing before Congress last week, the House Intelligence Committee “said Wednesday it has prepared subpoenas to force CIA officials to testify about the agency’s secret destruction of interrogation videotapes.” The Committee’s threat marks “the second challenge to a White House attempt to shut down independent investigations,” after “a federal judge rejected an administration effort to keep the courts out of the investigation.”
The opening line of the Detroit News story says all you need to know:
The House approved a stripped-down energy bill Tuesday and sent it to President George Bush.
Bush signed it today.
The headline is a 35-mpg CAFE standard for cars produced 13 years from now. Big whoop.
The best stuff in the bill is energy efficiency standards, including phasing out the incandescent light bulb.
The reality, however, is no removal of tax breaks for Big Oil; no 15% renewables standard for utilities; no plug-in hybrid incentives. Incentives for wind and solar were stripped out, as well, according to Sen. Boxer. “We’re pretty disappointed,” said Rhone A. Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, which sought an extension of the investment tax credit that expires at the end of next year.
But yes, there is a requirement for five times more ethanol than we now produce. “Clean tech” will have a place to throw some money, even if the environmental benefit is nil, the impact on petroleum usage minor, the impact on food prices unknown. As stated in the Washington Post story today, “For farmers and agribusiness, it is a windfall, providing more support than perhaps even the farm bill.” ‘Nuf said.
Why Nancy Pelosi calls the bill “a moment of change, of real change” is not yet clear. Most elements that would constitute a progressive energy bill seem to have been dropped out.
I can’t help thinking if carmakers are still producing masses of 20-something mpg cars and pickups and SUVs in 2020, something envisioned with a 35mpg average, we’re in big trouble.
Honestly, though, I think this standard will be overtaken by reality. Once a few plug-in hybrids and electric cars hit the market, and they will long before 2020, the relevance of these standards will disappear in the rearview mirror of reality.
– Marc G. – Plugs and Cars blog
I’d recommend A.J. Rosmiller’s remarks on Vladimir Putin. For my own two cents, I think it’s always instructive to compare attitudes toward Putin’s illiberalism to attitudes toward friendlier petro-states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, etc. It’s totally understandable that the United States government would take a different attitude toward governments who try to challenge US international hegemony than the one it takes toward those governments who help re-enforce it.
But to a striking extent, the press just follows along on this path. Gulf states that are far less democratic than contemporary Russia are typically portrayed as “moderate” or “reforming” whereas Putin’s Russia is painted as a dark totalitarian nightmare. Even though though most people acknowledge, when pressed, that Putin is a broadly popular leaders whereas the sundry Sheikhs of the Gulf are mostly detested by their subjects.
The result of the media’s decision to adhere to a double-standard is to substantially obscure from the American public some salient facts about the role our country plays in the world. It’s widely understood, for example, that insofar as Vladimir Putin backs unpopular undemocratic pro-Russian leaders in the “near abroad” this is likely to make Russia even less popular in Russia-skeptical elements of the population of those countries. The analog of this, that staunch American support for unpopular undemocratic pro-American leaders in the Gulf and in Egypt is a significant source of anti-American sentiment is, by contrast, completely absent from the national conversation.
Alex Gibney’s new critically-acclaimed documentary Taxi to the Dark Side follows the path of Afghan taxi driver Dilawar, who was innocent of any terrorist ties but still “tortured to death by interrogators in the U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base.” It also examines the Bush administration’s torture practices at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has rejected Taxi’s poster, displayed to the right, as being “not suitable for all audiences.” The poster for the film simply shows two soldiers walking away from the camera, holding a hooded detainee between them. Variety notes that the military has also tried to censor the photo on the poster:
The “Taxi” ad art is actually an amalgam of two pictures. The first, taken by Corbis photographer Shaun Schwarz, features the hooded prisoner and one soldier. Another military figure was added on the left. Ironically, the original Schwarz photo was censored by the military, which erased his camera’s memory. The photographer eventually retrieved the image from his hard drive.
According to ThinkFilm, which produced the documentary, the MPAA objected to the “image of the hood.” Last year, the MPAA also censored the poster for the documentary The Road to Guantanamo, because it showed a detainee “hanging by his handcuffed wrists, with a burlap sack over his head and a blindfold tied around the hood.”
As Gibney notes, Taxi is “not a horror film.” It is “a documentary and that image is a documentary image.” ThinkFilm plans to appeal the MPAA’s ruling.
A look at some of the posters the MPAA has approved as “suitable for all audiences”:
You may not be checking Jim Fallows’ low-quantity/high-quality blog all that regularly, so don’t miss this post on “art factories” in China — and especially the accompanying photos.
This leads me to a probably crazy thought. The phenomenon of artsy types moving to somewhat sketchy neighborhoods in search of affordable rent is well-known. But do you know what’s a lot cheaper than Brooklyn? China. Then we could start reading breathless reports from the US-China Commission about China’s menacing efforts to corner the world’s hipster reserves.
I support our troops, and I support what our troops are doing. I also support our president. I believe that the president has acted in good faith and out of a desire to protect this country to do everything in his power to keep America safe. [...]
The president is a person who is deeply devoted to this country and doing what’s right for this country, and protecting American lives.
Romney also recently called on former governor Mike Huckabee to apologize for criticizing the administration’s foreign policy, and he delivered a major speech on religion at the library of former president George H.W. Bush.