On his radio show today, right-wing radio host Neal Boortz — who has a long record of disparaging immigrants and minority groups — claimed, “I would make a lousy Mexican.” Asked why by his engineer, Boortz responded, “Well, because I wanted to scrub the hangar floor the other day, so I went and rented one of these big buffers,” later adding: “I turned on that buffer, and it damn near killed me! It was dragging me across the hangar floor, throwing me around like I — it was like a dog shaking a cat or something like that. You know, that’s skilled labor.” Media Matters has the audio here.
Another message from the nation’s top climate scientist is out (here). I’ll let Hansen explain the baseball analogy. His bottom line is:
Basic fossil fuel facts (about reserves) must be combined with basic climate facts described in the paper “Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?”. That paper has been submitted to Science and is available in arXiv, the permanent archive for physics preprints. The main paper is here and the Supporting Material is here.
Our conclusion is that, if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, CO2 must be reduced from its present 385 ppm to, at most, 350 ppm. We find that peak CO2 can be kept to ~425 ppm, even with generous (large) estimates for oil and gas reserves, if coal use is phased out by 2030 (except where CO2 is captured and sequestered) and unconventional fossil fuels are not tapped substantially. Peak CO2 can be kept close to 400 ppm, if actual reserves are closer to those estimated by “peakists” (people who believe that we are already at peak global oil production, having extracted about half of readily extractable oil resources)….
A near-term moratorium on coal-fired power plants and constraints on oil extraction in extreme environments are important, because once CO2 is emitted to the air much of it will remain there for centuries.
HANSEN ISSUES A CALL TO ARMS
It’s no shock that John McCain’s statements about economics are clueless, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that his uninformed views are also quite radical.
In a burst of Reagan-style policy making, McCain has offered to balance the budget by decreasing federal expenditures. In a campaign event in Connecticut this week, McCain responded to a question by stating:
“When Ronald Reagan came to office,’’ he said, noting that few in the audience were old enough to remember, “we had 10 percent unemployment, 20 percent interest rates, and 10 percent inflation, if I’ve got those numbers right. That was when Ronald Reagan came to office in 1980. And so what did we do? We didn’t raise taxes, and we didn’t cut entitlements. What we did was we cut taxes and we put in a stimulus to the economy, and by the way, Jack Kennedy also did that as well – and so my answer to it is a growing economy. And I think you best grow the economy by the most efficient use of the tax dollar.’’
As The Huffington Post has rightly noted, though, “the deficit nearly tripled during the Reagan presidency, partly due to tax cuts and increases in military spending.”
McCain’s supply-side economic plan doesn’t just end with decreased spending — he parrots the failed 1980′s era Reagan policies of huge tax cuts and prolonged military spending, with no plan on how to balance the budget. Newsweek’s Daniel Gross says it all: “McCain’s fiscal program is either a joke or a fantasy.”
Perhaps McCain believes that “Reagan really did show that deficits don’t matter.“
WILLIAMS: General, will you ever hold political office in this country?
PETRAEUS: Never. And I’ve tried to say that on a number of occasions. Some folks have reminded me of a country western song that says “what part of no, don’t you understand?”
Hear that? It’s the sound of K-Lo and Bill Kristol’s hearts breaking.
Daniel J. Weiss and Robin Pam of Center for American progress has a new article on the health impacts of global warming (here). As they explain, “Some of the most severe health effects linked to global warming include the following:”
- More illness and death resulting from heat waves.
- Worsening air pollution causes more respiratory and cardiovascular disease.
- Vector-borne disease infections will rise.
- Changing food production and security may cause hunger.
- More severe and frequent wildfires will threaten more people.
- Flooding linked to rising sea levels will displace millions.
Already, “WHO now says that 150,000 deaths annually are attributable to the effects of climate change.” And we’ve only warmed about 1.5°F in the past century. We might warm 10°F century!
The time to act is now.
Last September, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that it was his “hope” that there would be “about 100,000” U.S troops in Iraq by the time the next president takes office. During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today Gates said — with somewhat of a smirk — that hoping is “one of the benefits of being Secretary of Defense.” Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) said to Gates, “talking about hope…you hoped that we could get down to 100,000 troops in Iraq by January of ’09. Do you still have that hope?” “No, sir,” Gates replied. Watch it:
In his Senate Environment and Public Works nomination hearing today, David Hill, the Bush nominee for the General Counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was asked by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) what the EPA Administrator should do “if the President of the United States tells him to do something illegal”:
I believe that the courts have held, Senator, that within the unitary executive the administrator and the EPA, just as with all executive agencies, work for the President and are responsible to the President of the United States.
The “unitary executive” theory is a formerly obscure, right-wing legal argument that asserts “all executive authority must be in the President’s hands, without exception.” In other words, the president has practically unlimited executive power, and no actions of the courts nor the Congress can override it. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is a champion of the doctrine.
Bush has used the theory to justify at least 145 signing statements — including those that assert his right to ignore laws restricting on torture, open mail without a warrant, and block Congressional oversight of military spending.
Boxer’s question was not purely hypothetical. The current administrator of the EPA, Stephen L. Johnson, has overruled his staff’s scientific recommendations on global warming regulations and ozone limits — both apparently at the behest of the White House. Yesterday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) issued a subpoena to compel the EPA to turn over documents involving communications with the White House.
If Hill’s nomination is confirmed, the transformation of the Environmental Protection Agency to the Bush Protection Agency will be complete.
Transcript: Read more
A new study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute finds that the “percentage of workers who said they were very confident about having enough money for retirement decreased from 27 percent last year to 18 percent this year, the sharpest one-year drop” since the group began the survey 18 years ago. Just 34 percent of all workers now “expect to have access to employer-paid health insurance in retirement, down 8 percentage points from last year (42 percent in 2007).”
I think Peter Beinart overstates the case that a well-run presidential campaign augurs a well-run presidency but there’s probably something to the idea. Certainly Jason Zengerle’s account of John McCain’s campaign and how it’s divided into two warring factions makes you wonder a bit.
He seems to be someone who’s so into the love of his groupies that he doesn’t want to make any decisions that might alienate either faction even a little, even if that means creating all kinds of chaos and problems.
Incidentally, anyone persuaded that the NBA game is insufficiently wide open and exciting should definitely check out tonight’s Denver vs. Golden State matchup. The teams are basically tied for the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs, both are quite good, and the play at the fastest and second-fastest paces in the league. Should be a very exciting game.
I think the Warriors are sentimental favorite for basketball fans everywhere, so I’ll definitely be hoping they win. The Nuggets are, however, are perennially interesting team for anyone interested in basketball statistics. Conventional commentators are constantly overlooking Denver’s defensive prowess because the team plays at a high pace.