The right-wing has decided that they want to make Eric Holder the Obama nominee that they give a hard time to since, apparently, they think that talking about Marc Rich will do something other than make people nostalgic for an earlier, more innocent era in the politicization of justice. Meanwhile, James Comey, who was Bush’s Deputy Attorney General for a while and who tried to prevent his colleagues in the administration from entirely shredding the constitution is endorsing Holder’s confirmation. But of course Comey and his radical rule of law views will swiftly lead to the destruction of the country.
Back in November, the EPA Environmental Appeals Board voted to stop new coal plants cold (see “No new coal plants without “Best Available Control Technology” for CO2“).
But as the NYT reported Friday, “Officials weighing federal applications by utilities to build new coal-fired power plants cannot consider their greenhouse gas output, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency ruled late Thursday.” [Note to self: Keep repeating, "January 20, January 20, January 20."]
Now E&ENews PM (subs. req’d) reports,
The chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee asked the Justice Department to force U.S. EPA to withdraw a “blatantly illegal memo” by its administrator saying the agency need not consider greenhouse gas emissions when permitting new coal-fired power plants.
And people say I’m a (technology) optimist! Boxer’s letter is here. The article continues:
Recently, conservatives have been rallying behind Karl Rove’s call to obstruct Attorney General nominee Eric Holder’s confirmation hearings, citing the 2001 pardon of Marc Rich. Today, former deputy attorney general Jim Comey, who famously clashed with the Bush administration on illegal wiretapping, endorsed Holder, saying he will ensure that the DOJ is free from political influence:
I know a lot of good people who have made significant mistakes. I think Mr. Holder’s may actually make him a better steward of the Department of Justice because he has learned a hard lesson about protecting the integrity of that great institution from political fixers. I’m not suggesting errors of judgment are qualification for high office, but in this case, where the nominee is a smart, decent, humble man, who knows and loves the Department and has demonstrated his commitment to the rule of law across an entire career, the error should not disqualify him. Eric Holder should be confirmed as Attorney General.
On Friday, AmericaBlog’s John Aravosis pointed out that the website for Rev. Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church explicitly said that “someone unwilling to repent for their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted as a member at Saddleback”:
Sara Mead has a post up at Early Ed Watch scrutinizing different organizations’ proposals for taking action to ameliorate the growing child care funding crisis as the recession builds. Third Way makes a special appearance — turns out that their big idea is a regressive tax cut!
In a new CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll, 23 percent of respondents said that Vice President Cheney is the worst VP in history. Another 41 percent said that Cheney is a poor vice president. Only 1 percent think he is the best VP in U.S. history. According to CNN Polling Director Keating Holland, Cheney is considered a good VP by most Republicans, but “six in ten independents and eight in tem Democrats gave Cheney a rating of ‘poor’ or ‘worst ever.’”
John Tierney, a libertarian columnist whose work graces the New York Times science pages, slammed President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of John Holdren as chief science adviser this weekend. Tierney attacks Holdren for being “spectacularly wrong about a major issue in [his] field of expertise,” for having “resistance to dissenting views,” and for “his tendency to conflate the science of climate change with prescriptions to cut greenhouse emissions.” Tierney quotes at length from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Reason Foundation, both right-wing libertarian think tanks.
Tierney takes special umbrage at Holdren’s critique of Bjorn Lomborg’s 2001 book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, even though it’s a hodge-podge of ideological pseudo-science and dishonest rhetorical fallacies. Actually, Tierney’s defense makes sense, because John Tierney’s own stock in trade is a hodge-podge of ideological pseudo-science and dishonest rhetorical fallacies.
Tierney does appear to go off the deep end with this bizarre paragraph:
Even if most climate scientists agree on the anthropogenic causes of global warming, that doesn’t imply that the best way to deal with the problem is through drastic cuts in greenhouse emissions. There are other ways to cope, and there’s no “scientific consensus” on which path looks best.
It’s not a complex fact that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere won’t stabilize until we stop adding new emissions. Natural processes to sequester atmospheric CO2 in the deep ocean and rocks take hundreds of thousands to millions of years. If the climate is to stabilize at any level in the meantime, net anthropogenic emissions will have to approach zero — requiring “drastic cuts.” Considering that the climate system is rapidly destabilizing, those drastic cuts are going to have to happen fast.
To be fair to Tierney, this assessment is failing to consider “other ways to cope,” which fall into three categories:
1. Magic technology to suck up emissions
2. Magic technology to block out the sun
3. A medium-scale nuclear war
(By “magic” I mean “undeveloped, unresearched, untested, and needed to be deployed on a global scale.”) Perhaps Tierney is arguing that the kind of science advice Obama truly needs is plans for seeding the ocean with vast amounts of iron, a fleet of orbital mirrors or an Arctic Christo-wrap to reflect insolation, or heightening tensions in Kashmir.
For now, I’d rather stick with cutting energy waste, shifting away from fossil fuels, and promoting reforestation and sustainable agriculture. Not quite the stuff one reads about in science-fiction novels or Gregg Easterbrook columns, but it’s a good deal less stupid.
At Climate Progress, Joe Romm writes, “Tierney is easily the worst science writer at any major media outlet in the country.”
I’ve spent a huge amount of time trying and failing to compose a long, detailed counterargument to Will Marshall’s case for expanding NATO membership, but I can’t quite get the job done. Instead, here’s a brief issue that Marshall left remarkably unaddressed. First the proposal:
This alliance would be stronger still if expanded to include free nations in other, more volatile parts of the world. Likely candidates include Japan and South Korea, which have entrenched market democracy in East Asia; India, which is modernizing rapidly and dominates South Asia; Australia and New Zealand, liberal bastions in the South Pacific; and Chile and Brazil, which have stood against a rising tide of authoritarianism in South America. More controversially, some Italian leaders have even broached the idea of offering NATO membership to Israel.
Anyone putting this forward really ought to think about the consequences for the NATO mission in Afghanistan. If I were a Pakistani official, I would look on India joining NATO — or even any vague took thereof — as indicating that NATO success in Afghanistan constitutes an existential threat to Pakistan. And if I were a soldier serving in Afghanistan, I really wouldn’t want Pakistan to view me succeeding in Afghanistan as posing an existential threat to Pakistan. In general, the consequences of a move like this for stability on the sub-continent strike me as incredibly frightening.
A Politico story today begins:
A major coal industry group has spent an estimated $45 million on an ongoing advertising campaign promoting the clean energy potential of coal, but its members are spending relatively little on the research that would make the technology a viable solution, a report by the Center for American Progress [CAP] finds.
The only hope for the coal industry (at least in a world that is itself not suicidal) is a very well-funded effort to demonstrate and deploy carbon capture and storage. This will take at least 10-years from the time the industry (and government) gets serious — and probably much longer (see “Is coal with carbon capture and storage a core climate solution?“). That was true ten years ago when the coal industry — and car companies — lobbied against Kyoto saying they needed time to develop new technology. But those complaints turned out to just be an excuse for inaction, as many warned.
Detroit suicidally squandered that time, with the support of their conservative allies (see “The car companies bailed out on us“). The equally self-destructive behavior of the coal companies were also enabled by conservatives (see “In seeming flipflop, Bush drops mismanaged ‘NeverGen’ clean coal project“).
Now CAP has a new report that details just how unseriously the industry has taken the pursuit of its only hope for long-term survival:
Today, the New York Times had an article about how right-wing talk radio is gearing up to aggressively go after President-elect Obama over the next four years. Rush Limbaugh demonstrated his commitment to this crusade today on his radio show by blaming Democrats — especially Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — for starting the current economic crisis.
Here’s how Limbaugh’s conspiracy theory goes: Schumer caused on run on IndyMac bank in California this summer, in order to create a feeling of financial panic amongst the public. Democrats then capitalized on this panic with electoral wins in the White House and Congress. The purpose of gaining this power, according to Limbaugh, was to nationalize U.S. industries:
LIMBAUGH: Who’s benefiting? Aside from the people being bailed out. The Democrat party and Barack Obama are benefiting.
They got elected, they increased their numbers in the House, they increased their numbers in the Senate, they got the White House now, and they’ve got a crisis that people think can only be fixed with the all-mighty and powerful government interceding to save this or to save that, when in fact, the government is going to nationalize the automobile industry. It’s going to nationalize some banks. It’s going to nationalize the mortgage industry, and may end up nationalizing the automobile industry.
This theory is quickly becoming a right-wing favorite. Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly also recently claimed that the economic crisis was deliberately manufactured — not by Democrats but by journalists who wanted to help elect Obama.
The economic crisis certainly wasn’t created within a five-month period, as these conservatives are claiming. As the New York Times wrote yesterday, the current situation was, in fact, long fueled by President Bush’s economic policies:
From his earliest days in office, Mr. Bush paired his belief that Americans do best when they own their own home with his conviction that markets do best when let alone. [...]
As early as 2006, top advisers to Mr. Bush dismissed warnings from people inside and outside the White House that housing prices were inflated and that a foreclosure crisis was looming. And when the economy deteriorated, Mr. Bush and his team misdiagnosed the reasons and scope of the downturn; as recently as February, for example, Mr. Bush was still calling it a “rough patch.”
CAP’s Tim Westrich has more on how the “root cause of the financial mess is the hands-off approach towards mortgage and finance markets by the Bush administration, and its lack of action when a disaster was imminent.” (HT: TP reader DK)
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