This is a great column from David Broder on Rahm Emanuel. It offers a combination of DC insider knowledge about what’s going on, with a veteran’s perspective on what’s wrong with the way DC insiders are thinking about the situation.
The co-chairs of the Pentagon’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Working Group reassured Congress today that they would consider the opinions of gay soldiers while conducting their review of the policy but admitted that they had yet to develop a system of consulting with gay members without inadvertently outing them. “We envision outreach through social media so that a wide variety of individuals both within the Department of Defense and without who will have views on this matter have an opportunity for their voice to be heard,” General Carter Ham, one of the working group’s co-chairs, said during testimony before the House’ Military Personnel Subcommittee. Ham and Jeh Johnson, the other chairman of the study group, refrained from offering their personal feelings about the policy and deferred all procedural questions to Congress.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) tried to discredit the study group for following the orders of the President and exploring ways to repeal the law. “I’m concerned the direction given to you by the Secretary of Defense will not result in your study group examining two fundamental questions — whether current law threatens or undermines readiness in any significant way and, two, whether appeal of current law would improve readiness in measurable ways,” Wilson asked, but was assured that the study group would in fact examine how a repeal would affect the military. At another point, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) dismissed the 13,000 DADT-related discharges and suggested that the policy was working. “You would agree that the primary purpose [of the military] is not to invoke social change, but to be ready for war, which we do frequently around here, as you know,” Fleming quipped without allowing the witnesses to respond.
The co-chairs said that they had consulted with their foreign counterparts about their efforts in integrating the services, but stressed that foreign experiences may not apply to the American military. “I think we have a good way ahead to look at foreign militaries. Having said that, we must understand that our military is our military and we have our uniquely American culture in the approach to how we do things, but I think this working group’s effort will be informed about it experience of others,” Ham said.
Health care reform may not have enough votes to pass Congress, but state lawmakers are pushing ahead with constitutional challenges to the individual health insurance mandate. Yesterday, a committee in the Kansas House of Representatives approved, a “ballot measure that would invalidate any laws that mandate individuals “to participate in any health care system or purchase health insurance.”
“A person or employer may pay directly for lawful health care services and shall not be required to pay penalties or fines for paying directly for lawful health care services,” the legislation says:
‘Explanatory statement. The purpose of this health care freedom amendment is to preserve constitutionally the right and freedom of Kansans to provide for their health care.…Nothing in this amendment is meant to discourage anyone from purchasing health insurance
The measure will now go to the full House. “It would need two-thirds approval there and in the Senate before being added to a statewide ballot to be decided by voters. An identical measure was passed without recommendation earlier this session by the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee but remains lodged in the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
Legislatures in approximately 30 states have introduced similar initiatives and Congressional Republicans have pledged to support their efforts, promising to “spend the rest of the year in the campaign to try to repeal.” But these campaigns to repeal reform are more about energizing the base and raising campaign funds than registering a serious policy disagreement. Republicans had supported the individual health insurance mandate as recently as August 2009, and any successful state measure to repeal the mandate will be superceded by federal legislation.
On a policy note, the reason for including an individual mandate is fairly straight forward. The individual mandate creates incentives for otherwise healthy Americans to purchase insurance and may be the the only way to achieve affordable universal coverage. Without a mandate, only the sick who need health care would be motivated to purchase it. The pool of insured would be weighted with sick individuals, forcing the costs of the premium to escalate.
The Chicago Tribune Online has a helpful Q&A that summarizes where climate science stands today. It also addresses the IPCC, emails, and temperature stations issues.
Its “just the facts” approach is superior to more than 90% of what has been written by the media these days (see Boykoff on “Exaggerating Denialism: Media Representations of Outlier Views on Climate Change” and here):
Yesterday, the anti-immigrant group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC sent out an email blast urging its members to comment on a video clip of a 2007 speech by FreedomWorks chairman and tea party operative Dick Armey. The group chides Armey for supporting “AMNESTY for illegal aliens” and accuses him of fighting to “keep the illegal immigration issue out of the Tea Party movement.” In the taped remarks ALIPAC forwarded, Armey sympathizes with undocumented immigrants:
I’ll tell you something — I don’t run stop lights. But you put me on the road at 2am on the way to the all-night drugstore to get medicine for my babies and give me a stop light that is stuck on red and no traffic in sight, and I’m going to go through that red light. Cause feeding my babies and taking care of them is more important than obeying the law.
And if you take a look at these very good people here, they’re trying to feed their babies. And if you got an agency in the federal government that’s dysfunctional, then they’re going to go across that border illegally because they’re gonna feed their babies — bless their heart...My general attitude is if you love liberty, and you’re willing to obey the law, and you’re trying to feed you’re babies, then you should be welcome in this country. That is not always a popular view…there’s a meanness about this border discussion that is very unsettling to me — it’s unkind, it’s disrespectful.
Armey’s message doesn’t go over well with a group that has extensively documented nativist ties. The Center for New Community describes ALIPAC as being “characterized by hysterical fear-mongering and xenophobic, anti-Latino conspiracy theories.” The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports that ALIPAC “is supported by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, recently designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, and allied with various Minuteman factions.” ADL accuses ALIPAC of promoting “virulent anti- Hispanic and anti-immigrant rhetoric” and “adopting the tactics and rhetoric of racist groups and moving it into the mainstream.”
However, ALIPAC may be right that Armey and others are going out of their way to prevent anti-immigrant forces from co-opting to the tea party movement. Recently, conservatives have been grappling with an internal debate on how to approach the immigration issue. While many remain hostile towards immigrants, Armey likely belongs to the camp of conservatives who are urging their members to adopt a more inclusive immigration approach that will likely score much-needed political points with the indispensable Latino electorate. However, Armey can’t control the fact that groups like ALIPAC associate themselves with tea baggers. And as long as Armey takes credit for organizing tea parties, he must also be held responsible for the nativist extremists who SPLC warned would begin exploiting the tea party anger that Armey helped foster in an effort to recruit more supporters to join their hateful cause.
American Family Association Pins SeaWorld Death On Lack Of Christianity: ‘Bible Ignored, Trainer Died’
Last week, a 12,000-pound SeaWorld Orlando orca killed trainer Dawn Brancheau while she swam in the tank. The orca, named Tilikum, had been involved in violent episodes in the past, including an incident in 1991 when “Tilikum and two female killer whales dragged trainer Keltie Byrne underwater, drowning her in front of spectators at Sealand of the Pacific, a defunct aquarium in Victoria, British Columbia.” Tilikum also seemed to be involved in the death of a man who snuck into the orca’s pool in 1999.
The American Family Association, the powerful right-wing Christian political organization, blogged that, “If the counsel of the Judeo-Christian tradition had been followed,” Beancheau would have never died. AFA blogger Bryan Fischer reasoned that according to Exodus, an animal like Tilikum should have been stoned back in 1991, and if biblical law were to be followed, the owners of Tilikum should be put to death:
Chalk another death up to animal rights insanity and to the ongoing failure of the West to take counsel on practical matters from the Scripture. [...] Says the ancient civil code of Israel, “When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable.” (Exodus 21:28) So, your animal kills somebody, your moral responsibility is to put that animal to death. You have no moral culpability in the death, because you didn’t know the animal was going to go postal on somebody. But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn’t kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, “the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:29)
The AFA is known for its annual “War on Christmas” campaign against retailers who refuse to appropriately celebrate the Christmas holiday. For the rest of the year, AFA pushes a vitriolic social agenda campaign, including advocacy that all homosexual activity should be outlawed.
But despite its constant promotion of theological government and hate rhetoric, the AFA is not fringe in terms of influence. There are many powerful GOP lawmakers and leaders who regularly frequent the AFA radio program and AFA events, such as Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Steve King (R-IA), Trenk Franks (R-AZ), Tom Price (R-GA), as well as Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mike Johanns (R-NE), and Sam Brownback (R-KS). (HT: Gawker)
Mike Gonzalez, Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation, a once-influential conservative think tank, has lost its grip on reality. Mike Gonzalez, Vice President of Communications for Heritage, believes that the scientific consensus on global warming is a massive hoax, perpetrated because of “politicians putting pressure on scientists to come up with theories that would vastly add to their regulatory and taxing powers.” Gonzalez — who abandoned print journalism to become a mid-level speechwriter for the Bush administration — argues that the “whole edifice of global warming is now falling apart” because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is like a birthday-party magician:
The whole edifice of global warming is now falling apart. It is collapsing with such rapidity that it is worth pausing from time to time to take stock. The foundations of such edifice rest on a single assumption. This hypothesis—one that drove many people, even some reasonable ones, to contemplate upending the world as we know it — is that that traditional fuels will have cataclysmic consequences on the environment because they emit gases that make the world too hot.
The authority to turn this assumption into fact rested largely on a U.N. document – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report – which declared climate change “unequivocal” and its man-made origin “very likely.” The purpose of the IPCC report was to turn hypothesis into fact.
The reason Sens. Kerry, Graham and Lieberman had to turn away from cap-and-trade, and target industries individually, is that the idea of an iron-clad scientific consensus is now being revealed to be a bit, shall we say, exaggerated. The IPCC’s turning of hypothesis into fact now looks less like the scientific process and more like the magician you paid $50 an hour to pull flowers out of hats at your daughter’s birthday.
The IPCC report was a summary of existing scientific literature — its conclusions are those of the world’s scientists. The threat of manmade global warming is, quite simply, a fact. As democracy derives much of its strength from the rational debate of ideas, it’s sad to see that the Heritage Foundation has fallen into the swamp of conspiracy theories.
The “edifice of global warming” is the edifice of modern civilization, the edifice of free enterprise, the edifice of Western thought. The great scientific endeavor to understand the world around us — not through superstition and demagoguery but through tedious observation and critical examination — has granted us the modern world, with the promise of previously unimaginable wealth and prosperity for billions. Much of the success of the scientific edifice is its ability to clarify inconvenient truths — to allow society to face difficult decisions and recognize unintended consequences. Treating science like a buffet, picking only the facts that fit his reality and ascribing the rest to an inchoate conspiracy, is a threat to the edifice upon which modern man depends.
You’re putting me on:
— The BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.
— How to create construction jobs.
— Intelligence and religiosity.
— Is Mitt Romney really an idiot or is he just playing the part? Hard to believe there’s anything authentic about his persona.
— Michael Bennet’s reform package seems good.
Dressy Bessy, “Electrified”.
Alec MacGillis profiles the International Labor Comparisons office of the Bureau of Labor Standards, which the Obama administration is proposing to shutter to save $2 million:
Like a scorekeeper for the world, a tiny unit within the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks globalization’s winners and losers, and the results are not always pretty for the United States. Manufacturing jobs here, for example, have fallen faster since 1979 than in Canada, Germany or Japan. Compensation for those jobs dropped here in 2008 but jumped in South Korea and Australia.
Soon, however, Americans may be spared the demoralization in these numbers: The White House wants to shutter the unit that produces them.
Their 2009 chartbook (PDF) is full of interesting charts. One that certainly makes the United States look good is this one, showing staggering rates of long-term unemployment in EU countries (especially Germany) back pre-crisis in 2007. Meet “Persons unemployed one year or longer as a percent of total unemployment, 2007.”
Sweden and Denmark, as ever, look to be in good shape.
Explaining the alarming rise in extremist group activity in 2009, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) pinned some blame on former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, Fox News host Glenn Beck, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK). Dobbs hit back at the group by referring to Potok as “paranoid.” ABC News reports:
Potok cited talk-show host Glenn Beck for stoking fears that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is running concentration camps, former CNN host Lou Dobbs for incurring fears about supposed Mexican plots to take over the southwestern U.S., Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., for making statements about secret political reeducation camps, and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for referring to Obama “death panels” during the health care debate. Bachmann and Beck are also cited by name in the SPLC’s report, but Dobbs and Palin are not.
“These people help to bring completely groundless conspiracy theories from the margins into the mainstream,” said Potok. In a phone interview, Dobbs scoffed at the report. “It’s sad that Mr. Potok insists upon maintaining his paranoia, and I hope that he recovers.” “Beyond that, I have nothing to say about the man,” said Dobbs.
SPLC isn’t the only group that has accused Dobbs of fueling a rise in anti-immigrant hate. Last June, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund released a report that revealed a close correlation between the increasingly volatile immigration debate and a growing number of hate crimes against Latinos and “perceived immigrants.” The report specifically cited Dobbs’ “shrill anti-immigration reform commentaries.” When Dobbs was still on air, Media Matters wrote that Dobbs, along with Beck and Bill O’Reilly, served a “steady diet of fear, anger, and resentment on the topic of illegal immigration.” Dobbs was described as “the one most obsessed with the topic” and was accused of having “hosted some of the most radical immigration opponents, offering them a national platform to disseminate extremist views.” While campaigning in 2008, Obama himself accused Dobbs of “ginning things up” to such an extent that hate crimes against Latinos soared.
Dobbs’ fiery rhetoric has also been directed at opposing the Obama administration. Soon after his departure from CNN, Dobbs announced on his radio show that if health care reform comes close to passing, “we’re going to have to do something quite different” and advised his listeners to “protest physically and visibly in the streets.” Last year, Dobbs also dismissed a report released by the Department of Homeland Security warning about a rise in right-wing extremism as a document similar to those produced in China under Mao Zedong’s oppressive rule.