Another op-ed by Bjorn Lomborg, another Gish Gallup of non-stop disinformation. The good news is that the task of debunking the Septical Environmentalist (sic), has been made easier by the publication of whole book dedicated to that tedious task, The Lomborg Deception.
And yes, “Septical Environmentalist” is not a typo. Sure, it may seem like a mistake to use the word “environmentalist” to describe Lomborg. But it’s the very fact that he calls himself an environmentalist while dedicating his life to spreading disinformation and delaying serious action on the seminal environmental issue of our time that makes him septical. What else would you call the Typhoid Mary of anti-science syndrome (ASS)?
Giving this week’s GOP address, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) bashed Democratic efforts to reform health care as a “bitter, destructive, and endless drive to completely transform America’s healthcare system.” Saying Democrats should scrap their plan and start over, Brown said, “This, above all, was the message that the people of my state sent to the president and the Congress in the election over a month ago.”
Senior White House adviser David Axelrod responded to Brown’s comments on ABC’s This Week, noting that that Brown’s state has a health care plan that is very similar “to the one we’re trying to enact here,” and Brown “voted for it”:
AXELROD: Let me note that Senator Brown comes from a state that has a health care format in his state that is similar to the one we’re trying to enact here. People in his state are overwhelmingly in support of it. He voted for it and said he wouldn’t repeal it. So we’re just trying to give the people in america the same opportunities that the people in Massachusetts have. To get health insurance at a price they can afford. This bill is important for the American people.
Appearing after him, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Axelrod’s comments “complete spin” and said, “no way in the world is what they did in Massachusetts like what we’re about to do in Washington:”
GRAHAM: And the interview I just heard is spin, campaigning. I thought the campaign was over. Are you trying to tell me and the American people that Scott Brown got elected campaigning against a Washington bill that really is just like the Massachusetts bill? The American people are getting tired of this crap. No way in the world is what they did in Massachusetts like what we’re about to do in Washington. We didn’t cut Medicare — they didn’t cut Medicare when they passed the bill in Massachusetts. They didn’t raise $500 billion on the American people when they passed the bill in Massachusetts. To suggest that Scott Brown is basically campaigning against the bill in Washington that is like the one in Massachusetts is complete spin.
Watch a compilation:
In fact, the plan implemented by former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts is very similar to the Democratic proposal. Both plans require people to purchase coverage and both provide affordability credits to those who can’t afford insurance. Both create insurance exchanges, both establish minimum creditable coverage standards for insurers, and both require employers to contribute towards reform. The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky created a chart outlining the similarities between Romney’s plan and the Senate bill that passed in December and will become the foundation of national health care reform.
Graham cites only two issues to support his claim: Medicare cuts and tax raises “on the American people.” But of course, no state has the authority to either change Medicare or raises taxes on all Americans.
Even conservatives see the similarities between the two plans. “[T]he public option has now vanished from the Obama plan. Which means that the federal plan bears a closer family resemblance than ever to Romney’s idea,” former Bush speech writer David Frum observed. American Spectator’s Philip Klein said there “ain’t” any substantial differences between the plans. The key parts of the Democratic proposal are the same as “those elements [that] formed the core of Romneycare,” Klein adds.
Note to all: the filibuster as we currently know it is going to fall–it almost fell under Cheney, and only the fact that a few Democratic senators decided that it was worth “preserving” and so knuckled under to Republican policy priorities with which they did not substantively agree has kept it in being.
The Democratic Party has a choice: it can either break the filibuster when it has the majority, or it can let Republicans stall and then let them break the filibuster when they have the majority.
If anything this understates the likelihood of GOP-led filibuster reform the next time there’s a Republican trifecta (2017 seems plausible) since it really took more than “a few” Democratic Senators deciding it was important to save countermajoritarian principles. It seems to me that if just a handful of Democrats had taken my advice and proposed eliminating all filibusters (instead of the goofy conservative proposal to filibuster everything except judicial nominations) then the odds of a left-right pro-majoritarianism coalition emerging would have been quite high. And after the experience of the 110th and 111th Senate, I think more people on the progressive side appreciate the problems with the current system than did back in the 109th, and some folks will still remember that 8-10 years from now.
What’s more, the more I think about it something like the eliminate the filibuster with 51 votes in January move sounds too ballsy for process-obsessed Democrats, but something the GOP will realize you can easily get away with. If Senators embarked on some process reform in one of those January weeks when the papers are filled with cabinet nomination speculation and beat-sweetener profiles, barely anyone would notice the filibuster story.
Today on NBC’s Meet the Press, Rove continued with his Iraq war history revision campaign. Noting that the Bush administration had mishandled the management of the war, host Tom Brokaw mentioned that “the cost of the war skyrocketed almost from the beginning. There was not a sharing of the oil revenue that a lot of people had promised.” But Rove flatly denied that the Bush administration said Iraqi oil revenues would help pay for the war:
ROVE: No, no. Tom with all due respect that was not the policy of our government that we were going to go into Iraq and take their resources in order to pay for the cost of the war. … [T]he suggestion that somehow or another the administration had as its policy, “We’re going to go in to Iraq and take their resource and pay for the war” is not accurate.
Rove’s claim is simply not true. In fact, days after the U.S. invasion, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told a congressional panel that Iraqi oil revenues would help pay for reconstructing the country, i.e. a cost of the war. “The oil revenue of that country could bring between 50 and 100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years. We’re dealing with a country that could really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon,” he said.
One month before the war, then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Iraq “is a rather wealthy country. … And so there are a variety of means that Iraq has to be able to shoulder much of the burden for their own reconstruction.”
Via Matthew Schmitz, the Ponnuru & Lowry response to critics of their assertion that mass transit is a foreign and socialistic infringement of liberty:
Many, many blog posts have been written about two words in this passage: “The Left’s search for a foreign template to graft onto America grew more desperate. Why couldn’t we be more like them — like the French, like the Swedes, like the Danes? Like any people with a larger and busier government overawing the private sector and civil society? You can see it in Sicko, wherein Michael Moore extols the British national health-care system, the French way of life, and even the munificence of Cuba; you can hear it in all the admonitions from left-wing commentators that every other advanced society has government child care, or gun control, or mass transit, or whatever socialistic program or other infringement on our liberty we have had the wisdom to reject for decades.” The two words are “mass transit.” Contrary to our least literate critics, nothing in that passage suggests that we consider subways an infringement on our liberty. Nor does it mean that we are skeptical of mass-transit subsidies because the policy strikes us as European. It means something closer to the opposite: that we suspect that much of the enthusiasm for these subsidies among liberals is based on mass transit’s association with Europe.
What on earth could they mean when they say that “nothing in that passage suggests that we consider subways an infringement on our liberty”? Of course something in that passage suggests that they consider subways an infringement on our liberty. Subways are a form of mass transit. And “mass transit” appears on a list of items that are said to be “socialistic program[s] or other infringement[s] on our liberty.” It’s quite a bit more than a suggestion!
Meanwhile, I note that mass transit unquestionably is a socialistic program, as are highways and bridges and tunnels generally. In principle you could have road or rail infrastructure funded entirely by the private sector, but in practice no country operates in this manner. A problem for Ponnuru & Lowry, I take is, is that not only did they write that mass transit is a socialistic infringement on liberty but they, like most conservatives, seem to want to use “socialistic program” in such a way that for a program to be socialistic it’s necessarily an infringement on liberty. No sensible person, however, regards the provision of transportation infrastructure as a infringement on liberty.
We modern liberals appreciate the virtues of a mixed economy in which most goods and services are provided by the private sector but also the wisdom of a certain amount of socialism—with transportation infrastructure being an excellent candidate for public sector provision, though I think more use of market rate pricing for congested roads and scarce parking spaces would be an improvement over the status quo.
At the University of Alabama this week, Chief Justice John Roberts called the scene at the State of the Union “very troubling.” “To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I’m not sure why we’re there,” said Roberts. On Fox News Sunday today, Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta said Roberts’ complaint was “a little disingenuous” and suggested that the Supreme Court open its hearings to television cameras:
PODESTA: Well, look, I think it’s a little disingenuous. I don’t think Justice Roberts, Chief Justice Roberts, felt too bad when he was at President Bush’s pep rallies. But I would actually offer him a compromise, which is the Supreme Court stop going to the State of the Union and in exchange they start broadcasting, on C-SPAN or otherwise, their decisions. So that when they issue a decision reversing a hundred years of precedent, let all this corporate money flow into the political system, do it on television so the American people can see it.
Host Chris Wallace appeared to agree with Podesta’s call for greater transparency at the Supreme Court, telling guest Dana Perino that she’s “a Fox News contributor” and the network wants the Supreme Court on television. “I know that you do, but I’m more of a traditionalist,” responded Perino, who was shaking her head as Podesta spoke.
Speaking of being “disingenuous,” at the beginning of the discussion on Roberts’ comment, Weekly Standard editor and Keep America Safe board member Bill Kristol said he had “mixed feelings” on the dust up because while he thought the State of the Union venue wasn’t “quite appropriate,” he thinks “judges and lawyers are awfully hyper-sensitive to any criticism.” “I do think the whole legal profession has gotten a little bit full of itself,” said Kristol, acknowledging that he has “a slight self interest” in the making that point. Recently, Keep America Safe was strongly criticized by lawyers across the political spectrum for questioning the loyalties of lawyers in the Justice Department.
Bill Donohue, head of the right-wing Catholic League, has tried to calm some intra-coalition tensions by saying that when Glenn Beck said people should leave any church that talks about “social justice” he wasn’t say all Catholics need to abandon their faith, he was just talking about parish shopping to find a more conservative priest.
This really seems untenable to me. To return to Beck’s exhortation:
I beg you, look for the words “social justice” or “economic justice” on your church website. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice –they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes — if I am going to Jeremiah Wright’s church. Yes! Leave your church!
And note that just as Beck was saying, social justice isn’t merely church charitable work. It’s related to charitable work in that both aim at the relief of suffering, but justice ministry aims specifically at justice at improving the political order. Beck seems to me to be on perfectly fair grounds to note that this is a contestable political idea and one that’s incompatible with Beck’s own ideology in which everything to the left of Ayn Rand is creeping fascism. But the exhortation to leave churches that preach social justice is clearly an exhortation to leave the Catholic Church in general and not just to abandon some particular lefty outpost somewhere.
“I think Neil was determined to get moving on his gubernatorial race,” DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen told me yesterday.
House Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson placed some blame on the Senate for dragging the health care fight on as long as it has, but he also says the decision was Abercrombie’s to make.
“The Senate could have acted a lot earlier,” Larson told me after a Dem caucus meeting today. “If there’s any quarterbacking done, it’s generally about the Senate.”
I pressed, asking whether leadership could’ve taken any steps to keep Abercrombie around until after the health care vote. “Once a person makes up their mind to do something, this is America, they’re free to do it.”
This seems really wrong to me. The Democratic Party leadership, though not necessarily John Larson personally, had a lot of leverage over Rep Abercrombie as he looked to start up his gubernatorial campaign. Specifically folks in the White House and the Senators from Hawaii could have spoken to leaders of national and state-based interest groups and communicated that they wanted to see Abercrombie’s campaign receive strong financial support if and only if he chose to do the right thing and stick around for a few more weeks. Threats like that should be perfectly credible, since it’s extremely credible that federal elected officials care more about getting the health care bill done than about who becomes the next governor of Hawaii.
The most disturbing thing about this is that Van Hollen and Larson and other House leaders don’t seem to have seriously tried or explored any options. Instead, House-Senate bitterness has gotten so intense that everything—even this—is seen through the lens of “it’s really the Senate’s fault.” And in a big-picture sense, the whole rottenness of American politics is largely the Senate’s fault. But the House is far from perfect! You’ve got committee chairs voting against a key leadership priority, you’ve got members going AWOL at key moments, it’s a problem.