Eric Martin has some further context for the 2007 SCIRI rebranding, observing that the point of changing the name to ISCI wasn’t just to “de-revolutionize” the brand but specifically to re-Iranianize the party’s image. Of course, the same Iran-backed leadership who spent the Saddam years in exile in Teheran is still running the party. And, yes, this is the horse we’ve backed in Iraq and for some reason it’s considered very important that this particular gang of goons beat Muqtada al-Sadr’s rival goon squad.
Here is the short version:
- We are at or near the peak of cheap conventional oil production.
- There is no realistic prospect that the conventional oil supply can keep up with current projected demand for much longer — if the industrialized countries don’t take strong action to sharply reduce consumption, and if China and India don’t take strong action to sharply reduce consumption growth.
- Many people are expecting unconventional oil — such as the tar sands and liquid coal — to make up the supply shortage. That would be a climate catastrophe, and I (optimistically) believe humanity is wise enough not to let that happen. More supply is not the answer to either our oil or climate problem.
- Nonetheless, contrary to popular belief, the peak oil problem will not “destroy suburbia” or the American way of life. Only unrestrained emissions of greenhouse gases can do that.
- We have the two primary solutions to peak oil at hand: fuel efficiency and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles run on zero-carbon electricity. The only question is whether conservatives will let progressives accelerate those solutions into the marketplace before it is too late to prevent a devastating oil shock or, for that matter, devastating climate change.
That last sentence has been a major focus of this blog. I discuss it briefly in the article, but let me elaborate on it here. For more than two decades, conservatives have put up almost every conceivable roadblock to a sane energy policy. They have essentially said to peak oil — and catastrophic global warming, for that matter — “Bring it on!”
No one should be surprised we are now mired in a tar pit of growing dependence on oil imported from unstable or undemocratic regions, oil prices over $100 a barrel, a trade deficit in oil alone approaching $500 billion a year, and, of course, the very serious threat of catastrophic climate change from burning an ever-increasing amount of fossil fuels.
Many of us have predicted for a very long time that a quarter century of ignoring or underfunding the key solutions to our addiction to oil would have consequences. For instance, an April 1996 article I coauthored warned about what the Gingrich Congress was trying to do:
Eric Alterman and George Zornick document the evidence of the media’s declining coverage of the Iraq war. They note:
– A study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that in all of 2007, the topic of the Iraq war occupied an average of 15.5 percent of the “newshole” in the media; in the last quarter it fell to nine percent, and then to 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2008.
– The broadcast networks’ nightly shows devoted more than 4,100 minutes to Iraq in 2003 and 3,000 in 2004, before going down to 2,000 a year, according to Andrew Tyndall, who monitors the broadcasts and posts.
– Only two newspapers noted [on the front-page] the 4,000th combat death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq
The State Department has instructed all personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad not to leave reinforced structures due to incoming insurgent rocket fire that has killed two American government workers this week.
In a memo sent Thursday to embassy staff and obtained by The Associated Press, the department says employees are required to wear helmets, body armor and other protective gear if they must venture outside and strongly advises them to sleep in blast-resistant locations instead of the less secure trailers that most occupy.
“Due to the continuing threat of indirect fire in the International Zone, all personnel are advised to remain under hard cover at all times,” it says. “Personnel should only move outside of hard cover for essential reasons.”
Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D), who went to jail in June 2007 on federal corruption charges, “will be released from prison, after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals granted him an appeal bond.” Yesterday, TPMmuckraker reported that the House Judiciary Committee is seeking to hold a hearing where Siegelman will testify about the controversial prosecution that led to his incarceration.
Our guest blogger is James Kvaal, Domestic Policy Advisor at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Later today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will visit the Petroleum Club of Denver to pick up a stack of cash for his presidential campaign. He should get a warm welcome from the oil and gas executives who show up.
The centerpiece of Sen. McCain’s plan to stimulate the economy — actually, the whole plan — is large tax cuts for corporations. It would deliver $3.8 billion in tax cuts to the five largest American oil companies, according to an analysis released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
The analysis only looked at one of the McCain corporate tax breaks: the proposal to cut the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Read the whole analysis here.
Apparently much of John McCain’s language about how much he hates war was lifted from a 1996 speech by Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer. Interestingly, back in 1996 McCain didn’t love war nearly so much as he has for the past ten or so years. Since that time, though, no matter how much McCain may say he hates war, he also keeps advocating for things like a land invasion of Serbia, war with North Korea, war with Iraq, war with Iran, more troops for Iraq, a ratcheting-up of hostilities with Russia, etc.
UPDATE: And now it seems that perhaps Ziemer was plagiarizing from McCain, and McCain’s just been using this sort of language since 1995.
Uh-oh: “Some 220 square miles of ice has collapsed in Antarctica and an ice shelf about seven times the size of Manhattan is ‘hanging by a thread,’ the British Antarctic Survey said Tuesday, blaming global warming.” Just remember — we can afford to pay any price for endless war in Iraq, but serious action to forestall catastrophic climate change is too expensive.
Last week, Vice President Cheney made notorious comments exemplifying his distance from the situation on the ground in both Iraq and the U.S. When asked about the sour public opinion on the war, he replied “So?” And when asked about 4,000 dead U.S. troops, he said, “The President carries the biggest burden, obviously.”
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is having none of it. In two interviews this week on NPR, Hagel ripped Cheney’s callousness towards the public and the troops on the ground.
Hagel told Dianne Rehm on Tuesday that the “So?” comment was not surprising considering Cheney’s “character”:
Well, I don’t think it was out of character for the Vice President. I have always believed that leaders should not be governed by polls, and obviously the vice president does and this president has noted that.
Yesterday, on NPR’s On Point, Hagel again went after Cheney, saying that his sense of Bush’s “burden” in the war is ironic coming from a Vietnam draft dodger:
There is a credibility gap here, at least a little bit, with the Vice President, as far as I’m concerned. Here’s a guy who got five deferments during the Vietnam War, said publicly that didn’t work into his plans.
Listen to audio of both interviews here:
The public agrees with Hagel. A recent World Public Opinion poll found that 81 percent of Americans believe that “when making ‘an important decision,’ government leaders ’should pay attention to public opinion polls; 94 percent want this done “in between elections.”
Cheney’s comments have met Hagel’s ire before. When Cheney said in January 2007 that “the biggest threat” in the Iraq war is the American public not having the “stomach for the fight,” Hagel said Cheney “underestimates the people of this country” and suggested that he tell families of the soldiers “that they don’t have the stomach.”
According to Dana Goldstein, “a study from Harvard University last year found that of 168 nations worldwide, the United States is one of only four whose government doesn’t require employers to provide paid maternity leave.” That’s shocking stuff, especially considering the way the country spent 2003-2006 under the unrestrained rule of the country’s pro-family political party. It’s almost as if all that talk about religion and children is just a mask for an agenda of ruthless corporate exploitation leavened by the occasional dose of anti-gay hysteria and they don’t really care about American families at all!
One hopes Democrats could get on this case. One disappointment of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign thus far has been that I would have expected someone with Karen Kornbluh on his team to have something exciting to say about work-family balance issues, but he hasn’t really distinguished himself on that front at all.