In his Washington Post column today, Charles Krauthammer bitterly attacked President Obama for referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “Supreme Leader” of Iran. “‘Supreme Leader’? Note the abject solicitousness with which the American president confers this honorific on a clerical dictator,” wrote Krauthammer. But on Fox News later in the day, one of Krauthammer’s most admired politicians also referred to Khamenei as “Supreme Leader.” “There may be those indications since the Supreme Leader said that they were not going to tolerate further demonstrations in the street,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Watch it:
Will Krauthammer lash into McCain next for his “abject solicitousness?”
This post was co-written by Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and Alexandra Kougentakis, a Center for American Progress Action Fund Fellows Assistant.
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity — a front group of big utilities and coal companies — has long professed “support for a mandatory federal plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” But now that the House of Representatives is poised to vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454, ACCCE’s true colors are showing — coal black
In a new ad in Politico (see right), that was published yesterday, ACCCE describes the greenhouse gas pollution reductions in H.R. 2454 as a “high risk proposition.”
America’s Power Army, ACCCE’s grassroots arm, sent an email to its members urging that they “e-mail your Member of Congress today and tell him or her to add consumer protections to the climate change bill.” Never mind that the bill DOES safeguard consumers and broad sectors of the economy from higher prices. Potential increases in energy costs are mitigated through the distribution of allowances, as well as through an Energy Refund Program for low-income ratepayers.
A top priority for ACCCE is money for research for clean coal technology – carbon capture and storage. H.R. 2454 has $60 billion for CCS. The EPA estimates that this funding would make CCS commercially viable by 2015. Yet ACCCE still opposes the bill.
In addition to the vast amount of CCS money, H.R. 2454 has a number of provisions consistent with ACCCE’s “Climate Principles.” Four of the principles demand federal support for carbon capture and sequestration technology, which H.R. 2454 strongly meets through both funding and public-private sector partnerships.
The table after the jump indicates each of the climate principles with the degree of its fulfillment by H.R. 2454. Read more
All of this overheated grandstanding over to the Iranian protests has exposed a deeply silly strain of contemporary conservativism. Stunts like comparing their vacuous Twittering to the use of technology to organize demonstrations by Iranian protesters or calling President Obama a “cream puff” are juvenile to most observers.
But the height of conservative inanity during the protests has been the almost narcissistic focus on American action -– in particular being “steadfast” (in what?) and assuming that Iranian protesters “await just a word that America is on their side.” Because obviously people can’t act unless they know where the United States stands in bright, screaming neon letters. This particular silliness is tied in with the previously mentioned misreading of the end of the Cold War, in which conservatives believe that Reagan’s speechifying caused the end of communism.
What the particular silliness that is the conservative response to the Iranian protests reveals is the more fundamental moral and intellectual bankruptcy of conservative foreign policy thinking. There is apparently little more to it than sloganeering, where somehow the utterance of words by the United States magically transforms their sentiments into action. Rather than thinking through what the United States’ interests, ideals, and objectives are and how best to obtain them, conservatives have decided that it’s enough to simply shout what we want at the top of our lungs and demand the world bend to our wishes. It’s as though conservative foreign policy thinking amounts to nothing more than the applied power of positive thinking. Read more
I think it’s safe to say that RNC Chairman Michael Steele doesn’t have a great grasp of the health care system. In his guise as guest host of Bill Bennett radio show, Steele repeatedly denounced government involvement in health care and then suggested that an alternative approach to the problems of cost and access is to wave a magic wand and say “do the deal” a lot. Check it out:
STEELE: So if it’s a cost problem, it’s easy: Get the people in a room who have the most and the most direct impact on cost, and do the deal. Do the deal. It’s not that complicated.
If it’s an access question, people don’t have access to health care, then figure out who they are, and give them access! Hello?! Am I missing something here? If my friend Trevor has access to health care, and I don’t, why do I need to overhaul the entire system so I can get access he already has? why don’t you just focus on me and get me access?
In the real world, it’s hard to broaden access without reducing costs and it’s hard to reduce costs without some kind of systemic change. A publicly-run plan, for example, would cut costs and set the stage to broaden access. But that would involve the dread government.
However, in his column, Gingrich said they posed a “paramount threat and “have been allied with and trained by al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups.” In an interview with Fox News, Gingrich added that the United States should just send them back to China.
One of Gingrich’s Republican colleagues is now calling out his ignorance. At a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Human Rights on Tuesday, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said that Gingrich belongs in the “hall of shame” for fear-mongering about the Uighurs. He also said that the Bush administration unjustly detained these men at the bidding of the Chinese government in a “pathetic” attempt to gain the country’s support for the Iraq war:
The Bush administration…held Uighurs in Guantanamo as terrorists, and they did this, I believe, to appease the Chinese government in a pathetic attempt to gain its support at the beginning of the war against Iraq, and also to ensure China’s continued purchase of U.S. treasuries. Many, if not all, the negative allegations against the Uighurs, can be traced by to Communist Chinese intelligence, whose purpose is to snuff out a legitimate independence movement that challenges the Communist party bosses in Beijing. [...]
In the hall of shame, of course, is our former speaker, Newt Gingrich. His positioning on this should be of no surprise — and is of no surprise — to those of who, during Newt’s leadership, were dismayed by his active support for Clinton-era trade policies with Communist China.
Through their translator, the Uighurs have expressed dismay at Gingrich’s ignorant remarks. “How could he speak in such major media with nothing based in fact?” related the translator. As many human rights experts noted, the Uighurs would likely have been tortured if returned to China, as Gingrich had hoped.
One of the planks in the Obama administration’s plan for financial regulation is ensuring that states are allowed to strengthen mortgage standards if they feel that the federal standards are not tough enough or if they notice a problem unique to their state that needs addressing. Yesterday, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers to complain about this idea:
The Mortgage Bankers Association has weighed in against an Obama White House proposal to allow states to write tougher lending rules than the federal government. “Anything short of federal preemption risks perpetuating one of the problems of today’s regulatory structure for mortgages and would seem to be inconsistent with key objectives of the administration’s plan,” MBA Chief Executive John A. Courson wrote Thursday.
But we’ve been down that road before, and it’s one of the reasons that we’ve wound up with the mortgage mess that we have on our hands today.
At the time, Diana Taylor, the New York superintendent of banks, said “I am concerned because this is an unelected official in Washington who is overruling state legislators by regulatory fiat. The state legislature has a better idea of the consumer situation in the state than an unelected official in Washington.” Of course, we now know the havoc that subprime lending wreaked on the economy.
Obama has already directed executive branch officials “to review every regulation adopted in the past ten years to scrub them of inappropriate preemption language.” His goal of not preempting state lending regulations is simply consistent with this approach. But the MBA would rather the banks stay under the same sort of regulatory regime that missed the subprime mess in the first place.
We now have three major congressional health reform proposals on the table, one developed by the Senate Finance Committe, one by the Senate Health Committee, and one by a tri-committee combo panel in the House of Representatives. Igor Volsky offers a convenient table through which you can compare the options:
Senate Finance Draft
Tri House Bill
Yes (currently blank)
No, but employers with workers at or below 300% FPL have to pay
150% FPL, but still unclear
133% FPL for pregnant women/children; 100% FPL for parents, childless adults
Guarantee issue, modified community rating (2:1), no rescissions
Guarantee issue, modified community rating (7.5:1), no rescissions
Guarantee issue, modified community rating (2:1), no rescissions
There’s been a certain amount of panic this week about the politics of health reform, but we can see here that the process continues to move forward. Even the relatively timid Finance bill would do a lot to improve the lives of tens of millions of Americans.
A NBC/WSJ poll released this week showed that Vice President Cheney now has a 26 percent approval rating, “up eight points from April.” However, Greg Sargent today points out that the “overall popularity of the Republican Party has now dropped” below Cheney’s “abysmal level.” In fact, the party is now at only 25 percent, down four points from April. “Okay, the difference is within the margin of error, making this a statistical tie,” said Sargent. “But still, this is pretty awful for the GOP, given that for a long time Cheney’s historic unpopularity seemed to define a kind of low-water mark among Republicans.”