Read all about the Obama team’s contacts with Governor Blagojevic. The news that they haven’t done anything wrong shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who heard Patrick “I Have Wirtaps of All of This” Fitzgerald say that they didn’t do anything wrong.
If you were fooled by the multimillion dollar “clean coal” PR marketing campaign take a look at this video footage of a massive flood of toxic coal sludge from a dam that burst at a local coal company’s processing plant in Tennessee yesterday.
The spill covered as many as 400 acres of land with toxic ash as high as six feet deep.
You can go here to see some local TV news coverage. Here’s some raw footage of the spill zone:
In a recent interview, Joe Biden recalled how he told President-elect Obama that as vice president, he would like to be involved “in every important decision you’ll make, every critical decision, economic and political as well as foreign policy.”
Yesterday, on Fox News, Karl Rove attacked Biden for asking to be involved in executive decisions, insinuating that Biden was requesting a far greater executive role than even Vice President Cheney. “That’s a pretty expansive view…and a pretty large demand,” he said. “I know for a fact” that “Dick Cheney never asked that of George W. Bush,” Rove added.
ROVE: You know what’s amazing to me? I would never believe that Vice President Cheney, I know for fact certain he never asked President Bush, Governor Bush at the time in 2000 for the kind of commitment that Senator Biden apparently asked of Senator Obama, that you know, I, the vice president, have to be in the room at every major decision you make and you have to consult with me.
“And I’m confident that it’s pretty extraordinary if Biden asked that of Obama,” Rove said. Watch it:
Once again, Rove has his “facts” wrong. The truth is that Cheney did discuss with Bush early on his ideas for expanding the VP’s role — and dabbling in any area of his choosing. As Cheney biographer Barton Gellman noted in his book (p. 51):
Word came back that Cheney would engage in “whatever area the vide president feels he wants to be active in,” [Josh] Bolten said. And Bush backed him up. “The president made it clear from the outset that the vice president is welcome at every table and at every meeting,” said Bolten, speaking in 2006. … But it’s been true as a practical matter and as a real matter of atmosphere here in the White House.”
Former vice president Dan Quayle also recalled a deal between Cheney and Bush (p.58). Cheney “had the understanding with President Bush that he would be — I’m just going to use the word ‘surrogate chief of staff.’ … He wanted to be there all the time. And this was the deal he had.”
Rove later said it was a just a “myth” that Cheney amassed “enormous power” as Vice President. But as Gellman noted last night, Cheney’s view of executive power is “more radical” than Richard Nixon’s. Biden has is already breaking with the Cheney model, stating this month that he will limit his involvement in congressional affairs.
Transcript: Read more
Today Pandora told me I might like “Ego” by The Sounds. And I did! Apparently this came out in 2006, but it was the first I’d heard of it. Here’s a video:
My half-formed ability to make aesthetic judgments is telling me that this song has certain qualities that most people actually hate, but that I like.
For the past few weeks, the media and the right wing have been speculating whether President-elect Obama or chief of staff-designate Rahm Emanuel were hiding their involvement in Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s pay-to-play scandal.
Today, the Obama transition team released a report on its involvement, the release of which was delayed “at the request of” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. “[T]he accounts contain no indication of inappropriate discussions with the Governor or anyone from his office about a ‘deal’ or a quid pro quo arrangement,” White House Counsel nominee Greg Craig notes. Other highlights:
– Barack Obama: Had “no contact or communication” about the Senate seat with Blagojevich or his office and did talk to Axelrod and Emanuel about “other qualified candidates. Obama never heard “that the Governor expected a personal benefit” for the seat.
– Rahm Emanuel: “Had one or two telephone calls with Governor Blagojevich” and “about four telephone conversations with John Harris,” Chief of Staff to Blagojevich about other candidates but never discussed “a cabinet position, 501c(4), a private sector position for the Governor or any other personal benefit for the Governor.”
– David Axelrod: Had “no conversations with anyone outside the President-Elect’s immediate circle” about the seat, and nothing came up in any conversation about any “quid pro quo.”
– Valerie Jarret: Had “no contact or communication with Governor Blagojevich” or anyone in his office about the seat.
Obama reportedly was considering “Dan Hynes, Tammy Duckworth, Congresswoman Schakowsky and Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr” for the seat after Jarrett declined it in November. Read the full report here.
In an interview with CNN’s The Situation Room, conservative televangelist Pat Robertson ripped the Bush administration for its failures in mishandling and mismanaging the economic bailout, adding that it’s the last in a long line of “serious goofs” under Bush. After giving Bush a C- for his presidency, Robertson said he’s “remarkably pleased with Obama.” Despite having “grave misgivings about him” earlier, Robertson said he now lauds Obama for picking a “middle-of-the road Cabinet.” “I’m very pleased so far,” he concluded. Watch it:
The coal industry is attempting to organize bloggers to promote their false “clean coal” propaganda. The Reality Coalition, a group of national environmental organizations, have begun airing the message that “There’s no such thing as clean coal,” to counter the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by coal-powered corporations to pretend that coal is a “clean” fuel. So the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) and Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC), essentially one coal propaganda group with two different faces, is fighting back with an email blast asking people to join their “Blogger Brigade”:
You can get into the debate. If you are interested in becoming an active member of ABEC’s Blogger Brigade just send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you’re interested. One of our team members will give you a call and walk you through the process. It’s really easy – and for those of you who don’t already Blog, it is fun! You can join the online debate that’s already going on and you and others can remain anonymous (if you want to) at the same time! We’ll even set up a little competition to see how many Blog entries each person can make.
Notwithstanding the strange capitalization of “Blog,” this is the latest in a series of netcentric efforts from the coal public relations people. They’ve launched a Facebook page, Twitter feed, and have littered blogs with comments defending coal.
No matter how large ABEC’s “Blogger Brigade” gets, they still won’t be able to hide the toxic and dirty reality of coal. Yesterday morning, a dike at the Kingston coal-fired power plant in Harriman, Tennessee broke, letting loose a deluge of about 500 million gallons of coal slurry into tributaries of the Tennessee River, destroying twelve homes and derailing a train.
Watch the startling news footage:
Full email: Read more
As we shift into a very slow news cycle moment, it occurs to me that it might be useful to bring back the tradition of requests threads — an opportunity for readers to ask questions and/or suggest topics that you might be interested in. I thought it was a useful thing to do, but I let it drop amidst the madness of the election season. At any rate, what are you interested in?
Over at the main site, Faiz Shakir says this morning’s catastrophic water main break in Bethesda illustrates the need for a nationwide infrastructure upgrade.
There’s something to that, but I think the editor of ThinkProgress should know as well as anyone that it’s exceedingly difficult to maintain a blog during this December 22 – January 2 period. Under the circumstances, I think we ought to be welcoming any kind of news cycle stimulus. If a few people need to be inconvenienced by massive flooding and/or water shortages, I think that’s a small price to pay for the greater good of creating content.
I was watching a Tivoed episode of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” yesterday and, before talking about how to cook crown roast of lamb he offered some general thoughts on the lamb. In the course of doing so, he mentioned that man had shifted to ranching and farming as an alternative to hunting for food because hunting was time-consuming and labor-intensive. This is commonly believed and seems to be common sense, but it’s actually mistaken. The transition to agriculture was, to the best of our knowledge, associated with a catastrophic drop in living standards — longer hours of work, worse health, and less happiness.
Even modern-day hunter-gatherers, who in the nature of things don’t inhabit the most promising land, work shorter hours and enjoy happier lifestyles than do the poorest of modern-day subsistence farmers. The problem with the hunter-gatherer lifestyle wasn’t — and isn’t — that it’s too labor intensive, it’s that it was too land-intensive. A hunter-gatherer lifestyle can only support a small number of people on a given parcel of land. If people somewhere start engaging in a more settled lifestyle, what happens is that population density can go way up. That facilitates the division of labor and the creation of specialized warrior castes and so forth. Consequently, a settled society will probably be able to conquer a hunter-gatherer population and/or drive them off their land. Thus, once this quality-of-life-destroying innovation comes into being it tends to spread inexorably. The higher level of inequality agriculture permits allows some people to be better-off than any hunter-gatherer, but average living standards plummet even as pure quantity of people alive goes way up, a la Derek Parfit’s repugnant conclusion. It’s only with the coming of the industrial revolution that societies with higher average quality-of-life than those enjoyed by hunter-gatherers come into existence. And over time, that circle of beneficiaries of industrialization has tended to spread.