New Gallup poll shows sharp partisan divide in understanding of climate change
The partisan divide on climate science has been growing for a while, as I discussed in a 2008 review of the Gallup polling. No surprise, really, since the anti-science disinformation campaign uses “experts” that are more credible to conservatives, and that disinformation is repeated to death on conservative media outlets.
Last night, Rachel Maddow observed that the number of Democratic lawmakers who have joined Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-MI) crusade to bring down health care reform unless Congress amends the Senate bill’s abortion language, keeps shrinking. Stupak began the debate with that 15 to 20 supporters, then that number fell to “at least 12,” and as of yesterday, it’s dwindled even lower. A senior House aide told Maddow, “We do not see more than four or five members standing with Bart when this bill is actually brought to the floor.”
Indeed, it seems like a shrinking number of moderate Democrats are willing to take part in Stupak’s effort to lie about the provisions in the Senate bill in order to strip abortion coverage from private health insurance. On Tuesday, Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), “a ‘yes’ vote on reform who backed the Stupak language,” told reporters that “the Senate language will restrict the federal funding of abortions and that he’ll probably vote for the final bill” and today, Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), who also supported the Stupak language, said that the Senate bill does not spend federal dollars on abortion:
ALTMIRE: I am pro-lifer. I voted for the Stupak amendment and I’m not going to support a final bill that allows one penny of tax payer funding to be used for abortion. There is no question, the Stupak amendment was air tight. It was much cleaner and it was something that you could not dispute at all. The Senate bill is worded awkwardly, it is not written in a good way. But I am not convinced that it allows taxpayer funding of abortions. It doesn’t go as far as Stupak clearly it’s not as air tight as Stupak….I still haven’t seen good evidence that the Senate language, as is, allows a taxpayer funding for abortion. It could be worded better and less awkwardly, but I don’t know if there is even an indirect abortion funding in it.
Altmire’s tone is important. He’s admitting that the Senate bill is in fact a compromise that doesn’t go as far as the Stupak amendment, but still maintains current law. Meanwhile, pro-choice groups are arguing that the Senate bill goes too far in restricting women’s access to abortion coverage. On Tuesday, “a coalition of more than 50 women’s rights groups wrote Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Obama to ask for major revisions to the Senate bill because the current restrictions impose “unacceptable obstacles for women who wish to purchase insurance that includes abortion coverage and for plans that wish to offer it.’” “We are calling on you to make improvements that would ensure that under reform, women will not lose the private health insurance coverage for abortion that they now have,” the groups wrote.
With both sides objecting to the Senate bill, it’s become difficult for Stupak and his gang of four (or five) to perpetuate the fundamentally dishonest claim that the Senate bill spends federal dollars to fund abortions. As a result, honest pro life advocates have begun to admit the truth.
Despite the backlash from prominent conservative lawyers against Liz Cheney and Keep America Safe’s “al Qaeda 7″ ad that questions the loyalty of Justice Department lawyers who worked on behalf of detainees, some on the right have risen to Cheney’s defense. On Monday, torture advocate Marc Thiessen dedicated his new Washington Post column to defending the ad, saying that Cheney asked “legitimate questions about Obama administration lawyers who defended America’s terrorist enemies.” Keep America Safe subsequently referred reporters to Thiessen’s column when asked to comment on the conservative criticism.
Defenders of the habeas lawyers representing al-Qaeda terrorists have invoked the iconic name of John Adams to justify their actions, claiming these lawyers are only doing the same thing Adams did when he defended British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre. The analogy is clever, but wholly inaccurate.
For starters, Adams was a British subject at the time he took up their representation. The Declaration of Independence had not yet been signed, and there was no United States of America. The British soldiers were Adams’ fellow countrymen — not foreign enemies of the state at war with his country.
Thiessen’s argument that Adams was defending “fellow countrymen” and “not foreign enemies” is clever, but it’s undermined by the fact that some of the lawyers Thiessen and the ad impugn did work on behalf of American citizens. In a National Review blog post promoting his PostPartisan column, Thiessen directly attacks a lawyer who advocated on behalf of a detained American citizen:
Eric Holder vs. John Adams [Marc Thiessen]
I have a piece up for the Washington Post explaining why the al-Qaeda lawyers are wrong to wrap themselves in the mantle of John Adams. Thanks to the spade work of Bill Burck and Dana Perino, we now know why Holder was stonewalling on the identities of the “Al Qaeda 7” — he was one of them! If Holder and co. are simply carrying on the traditions of John Adams, why were they hiding their roles in seeking the release of enemy combatants? If they are proud of their work, why don’t they stand up and say so?
Yesterday, Perino and Burck published an article on National Review Online detailing how Holder contributed to, but neglected to tell the Senate about, an amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting Jose Padilla, an American citizen who was held as an enemy combatant. Another one of the lawyers smeared by the ad, Joseph Guerra, now Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General, worked on a brief urging that the Supreme Court hear Padilla’s case. Another DoJ lawyer, Assistant Attorney General Tony West, worked on the case of “American Taliban” Johh Walker Lindh, an American citizen.
The discrepancy between Thiessen’s PostPartisan argument and the facts is indicative of his arguments in general. In discussing another one of Thiessen’s inconsistent arguments, Time’s Michael Scherer — who considers Thiessen’s vocal crusade to defend the Bush administration’s torture policies “a good thing” — remarked that he was “disappointed with the quality of Thiessen’s arguments, which seem to be designed more for cable news soundbites than for serious discussion.”
Thiessen builds much of the rest of his argument on claims by National Review’s Andy McCarthy. Orin Kerr dissects the flaws in McCarthy’s argument here.
Today, the Senate is debating a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that had earlier been subjected to a hold by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). The FAA reauthoritzation passed by the House last year includes a change in labor law that would remove barriers to unionization for truck drivers at Memphis-based FedEx, and Corker wanted an assurance from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that the change would not be included in the final bill (since it is already not included in the Senate language).
Currently, FedEx is governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which does not allow for the formation of local unions, while the change would pull FedEx under the National Labor Relation Act (NLRA) along with other shipping companies like UPS. Reid reportedly promised to keep the language out of the Senate bill, which was enough for Corker to release his hold.
Smith warned that if the measure becomes law, the Memphis, Tenn.-based company would slow its growth — in part by immediately canceling an order of 15 Boeing jets valued in the billions of dollars. It would also cut back significantly in its $2 billion in annual capital expenditures, he said…Smith said FedEx Express depends on the Railway Labor Act for reliability and security. Because the act requires federal government permission for strikes, it allows FedEx Express to avoid local work stoppages — strikes that Smith said could delay shipments of urgent goods such as medical equipment.
These are some classic threats that Smith is throwing out: canceled work orders and delayed medical shipments! How terrible! But back in reality, it’s pretty clear that Smith is using exaggerated rhetoric to protect his company’s ability to deny its workers collective bargaining rights.
For starters, I’m not sure who Smith thinks he’s threatening when he says his company will stop trying to grow. That seems like cutting off his nose to spite his face, and presumably it would give his competitors a chance to seize market share. As for the charge about medical supplies, Smith doesn’t seem to have the same concern about his 4,500 already-unionized pilots shutting down everything.
A standard conservative argument made against efforts to cut the US nuclear arsenal is that doing so would sell out our allies who would be placed in danger and would lose confidence in the United States. This argument, however, is a relic of the Cold War and is reflective of outdated nuclear thinking. Our allies today, despite these claims, are strong supporters of reducing nuclear stockpiles and of Obama’s global zero vision more broadly.
This month five European foreign ministers from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, and Luxembourg called on NATO to take steps to remove US tactical nuclear weapons from European soil. The US has between 150 and 225 nuclear gravity bombs – which are essentially old-school dumb bombs – that are simply dropped on their targets. These nuclear weapons are relics from the Cold War when the NATO alliance feared they would need to use nuclear weapons to stop advancing Soviet forces on the battlefield.
Fortunately those days are long gone, but the irrelevance of these weapons has led to new security dangers. This year there was a shocking security breach at a base in Belgium where some of these weapons are stored. Peace activists were able to jump a chain link fence and walk up to a storage depot that held US tactical nuclear weapons. They also video taped the whole thing. Watch it:
As nuclear weapons expert Jeffrey Lewis put it, “holy crap.” The fact that a large group of people was able to just walk up to nuclear weapons storage facilities and basically had to seek out security personnel is incredibly unnerving.
Last week a delegation of European political leaders came to Washington to echo the calls for the removal of tactical nuclear weapons. These leaders included Des Browne, the former UK defense minister, Jan Kavan the former Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, and former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell-Magne Bondevik. Browne told Julian Borger of the Guardian that, “senior European politicians are moving to the view that we can reduce the salience of these weapons and still retain our security.” This also is not just a Western European effort. Eastern European leaders like Kavan and former Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski are supportive, as well as the Turkish government. NATO is currently developing a new strategic concept and as Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association argued, NATO “should seize the opportunity to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons by declaring that NATO nuclear sharing no longer is necessary for alliance defense.”
These European efforts also come on the heels of bold calls from two of our key allies in the Pacific – Japan and Australia – for nuclear disarmament. Prime Ministers of both Australia and Japan jointly released a report from the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament that laid out a bold and comprehensive plan to slash nuclear weapons.
Despite these growing international calls, conservatives continue to insist that nuclear arms reductions cannot be made because of “our allies.” They are living in denial. Our allies know that the possession of nuclear weapons makes the world less safe and that America’s conventional military might is a fully sufficient deterrent against potential adversaries.
Glaad reports that sponsors have “refused to allow” American figure skater Johnny Weir to join the Stars on Ice Tour because they deemed him “not family friendly.” While Weir — a three-time national champion — has never “officially announced his sexual orientation, he has garnered a significant amount of LGBT fans” and is also known for his flashy costumes. Weir won an online poll that asked fans who they wanted to see in the tour, but Stars on Ice seems to have barred him because of his “perceived sexual orientation”:
To say that Weir is “not family friendly” would be a clear jab at his perceived sexual orientation. Weir is extremely involved with his family. He is putting his younger brother through college, and supports the family financially because his father’s disability prohibits him from working. Weir’s dedication to his family can be clearly documented in the Sundance series, Be Good Johnny Weir, which follows him and his family and friends through his life and career as a championship skater.
After a sixth place finish at the Vancouver Olympics, Weir announced he would take a break from competitive skating, but Glaad notes that “does not release the Stars on Ice sponsors from asking him to participate.”
Yglesias argues that illegal immigration helps America’s economy. But maintaining lax borders isn’t really a god solution to immigration policy. If we want more immigration than the law allows — and I think we should — then we should raise the legal amount of immigration. Letting people in on the basis of their willingness and ability to evade border guards is not a rational approach.
I agree with all of that. Maintaining lax borders isn’t a good solution to immigration policy problems, and letting people in on the basis of their willingness and ability to evade border guards isn’t a rational approach. What we ought to do, as Chait says, is have a comprehensive reform of the system that includes higher levels of legal immigration.
All that said, the policy issue I was discussing wasn’t the desirability of higher levels of legal immigration (I’m for it) or comprehensive reform (I’m for it) but of spending a few billion dollars a year on building a wall across the Mexican border. Building such a wall would be, in my view, economically harmful to the United States and therefore ill-advised. Chait doesn’t really seem to disagree.
Then he says “If we are going to have some limits on immigration, though, you’re going to have to enforce them in some way.” This is, of course, true. But we have lots of laws in this country and we put various amounts of resources into enforcing them. And of course none of our laws are perfectly enforced. For very good reasons, it’s illegal to steal other people’s cars. And the law against car theft needs to be enforced. But if a proposed anti-car-theft measure were to be economically harmful (say we mandated that all cars install locks that can only be opened after a retina scan) we would consider that a good reason to oppose the measure. I think it would be highly beneficial for the federal government to put more resources into preventing violent crime in high-poverty neighborhoods by hiring more police officers. But I think that for the federal government to spend more resources on building a wall on the Mexican border would likely be economically harmful, so I oppose it.
Last, Chait says “I could imagine some kind of deal that involved the construction of serious barrier to stop illegal immigration along with an increase in legal immigration and some amnesty for illegal immigrants.” Me too! Just because building a wall is a bad idea doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be worth doing in order to gain support for an overall beneficial package of changes to immigration law. That said, even though I’d be happy to strike a bargain that includes a wall, I think it’s crucial for advocates of immigration to be clear on the fact that the wall is not, on its own terms, a desirable policy.
Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) became the latest Democrat to support repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell yesterday, telling local Alaskan television that “it’s time to move on and change the policy.” “When you look at the militaries of Canada, and Great Britain and Australia, thy don’t have any policies like this. We serve arm-in-arm with them. Right on the front lines, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. It has not caused any disruption of how we perform our duties“:
BEGICH: It’s clear that they are going to look at this issue, they’re going to look at it over a short period of time, but it’s clear that it’s kind of done it’s time. It’s beyond it’s time. It has a lot of ways, people are now re-looking at it because it is time to make the change and so depending on how it’s laid out, and the military leadership has been supportive, in general — there are some who are not supportive at this point, I think it’s done it’s time. It’s time to move on.
Last week, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and 12 other Democrats — including Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) — introduced legislation that would halt the discharges of gay and lesbian service members and replace DADT with a new nondiscrimination policy that “prohibits discrimination against service members on the basis of their sexual orientation.” Begich did not endorse Lieberman’s bill, however, and his office told me that he “supports the current course of reviewing how DADT will be repealed and taking part in the actions of Congress,” but “has not signed on to Lieberman’s bill.”
Democrats hope to include the repeal legislation in this year’s defense authorization act, but the Pentagon’s year-long review of the policy could push back this goal. During his interview, for instance, Begich predicated his support for repeal on the military’s recommendations. “I think the military brass is going through a proper procedure to make sure that they can do it in a way that doesn’t disrupt the process of what they’re doing today,” he said.
Next Thursday, retired Marine general John J. Sheehan, former Air Force major Michael D. Almy, and former Navy lieutenant Jenny Kopfstein will testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Sheehan will testify in favor of maintaining the policy, Almy and Kopfstein in favor of repealing it.” Kopfstein, a lesbian and former Navy surface warfare officer separated under the law, and Almy, who’s gay and served as an Air Force communications officer for 13 years, will discuss their discharges under the policy.
So, I really do love Big Boi. And I think “Fo Yo Sorrows,” an ode to getting high, oral sex and drawing strength from the haters, is a strong track: I like the contrasting tempos a lot, the song is funny and occasionally nasty. But man, does the guy need someone to work on some video concepts for him. First, he records this dull (visual) mess with Gucci Mane. And then, I don’t mean to hate, but you get Big Boi, George Clinton, and Too Short on a set together and all you can come up with is straight-on shots of each guy rhyming, and a little girl popping her hips?