The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new high in 2010 since pre-industrial time and the rate of increase has accelerated, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin….Between 1990 and 2010, according to the report, there was a 29% increase in radiative forcing — the warming effect on our climate system — from greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide accounted for 80% of this increase.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t said much about Libya on the presidential campaign trail but he did call Muammar Qaddafi’s death last month “good news for the people of Libya.” Earlier this evening on Fox News, Perry said he’d “absolutely” support instituting a Libya-style no-fly zone in Syria and do so without a United Nations blessing:
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Would you do what we did in Libya which is institute a no-fly zone over Syria? If you were the president would you advocate that we do that in Syria?
PERRY: Absolutely. Absolutely. …
BILL KRISTOL: And you’d do that I suppose unilaterally without waiting for the U.N. to approve it?
PERRY: I would not spend a lot of time waiting for the U.N. I will tell you that my position on the U.N. is if they continue to go around as the Palestinian state tried to do. We need to sit down as a country and have a conversation about, is the continued funding of the United Nations in the best interest of America.
Watch the clip:
This marks the first time a Republican candidate for president has called for a no-fly zone in Syria. But given that Perry wants to end civilian control of the military, the decision to implement that policy wouldn’t be his in a Perry administration.
2012 GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich today released his latest big idea: a return to Bush-style Social Security privatization. Gingrich has been quite vocal in his support for privatized Social Security accounts, but today marked the first time that he laid out specifics as to how he would gut one of the most successful programs in American history.
First, Gingrich explains that he would let workers opt into private accounts, just like Bush’s suggested system. Gingrich points to two models that inspired him to suggest this approach: privatized retirement accounts in both Chile and Galveston, Texas. He added the caveat that, should private accounts fail to deliver the same return as minimum Social Security benefits, the government would step in and make investors whole again:
The government guarantees that all workers with personal accounts will receive at least as much in retirement as they would under the current Social Security system. If someone with a personal account retires with benefits lower than those offered by the current system, the Treasury will send them a check to make up the difference. Thus, there is a legal government obligation that in a worst case scenario a retiree will be able to enjoy benefits at least as good as they would under th e traditional Social Security system.
Watch him explain the idea at a campaign event today:
As we pointed out when Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) suggested a similar idea, promising to make investors whole again sets up a huge moral hazard problem. If investors know full well that the government is going to provide them with a minimum benefit, no matter what they do, then the incentive is to make risky investments and hope for a big payoff. After all, why not take the risk if the government has guaranteed that you can’t lose money? Investors have every incentive to bet big in the hopes of a large payout, because if they go bust, the government will bail them out.
Add to this the fact that the privatized systems in Chile and Galveston aren’t as wonderful as Gingrich makes out. In fact, while they work quite well for the wealthy, middle- and lower-income participants wind up worse off. Regarding the Galveston system, Eric Kingson, a professor of social work at Syracuse University, explained that “for most people, it’s somewhere between ‘very bad’ and ‘not very good.’ ” Chile’s system, meanwhile, has “left millions without savings for their retirement.” According to estimates by Chile’s undersecretary for pensions, “in 2007, only 60 percent of Chilean workers had some kind of pension coverage, down from 86 percent in the 1970s.”
Gingrich’s plan would also cause the deficit to explode, as money meant for Social Security would have to be diverted into the creation and administration of private accounts. Social Security kept 14 million seniors out of poverty last year, but Gingrich would enact a scheme to privatize the system, while hoisting the costs of failure onto the federal government.
Across the country, groups pushing for living wage legislation are finding powerful allies in religious leaders and faith groups that are flocking to join the fight. Case in point, a rally in New York City urging the City Council to raise wages at city-subsidized projects got a big boost today from the support of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York:
Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities, is scheduled to speak at a rally on Monday organized by a coalition of religious, labor and community leaders to urge the passage of the bill, originally introduced last year by two City Council members from the Bronx.[...]
[H]e added that the rally on Monday, at Riverside Church, would provide an appropriate setting for the archdiocese to address economic hardship and unemployment, matters of utmost concern to the church.[...]
“We’re going to speak about how this economic crisis continues to hurt everybody in society, particularly the poor,” the monsignor said. “We need to make sure there are decent jobs with decent wages.”
The City Council will hold a hearing tomorrow on the bill, which would would mandate a wage of $10 per hour with benefits, or $11.50 without benefits, for employees of projects that receive at least $1 million in government subsidies. Small businesses and manufacturers are exempt, but the bill has still faced strong opposition from business leaders and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the New York archdiocese has recently been pushing the church to focus more on the economic hardship millions are facing and the importance of living wages. He wrote in a letter to all bishops in the U.S. that “the best way out of poverty is to work at a living wage.” According to a 2009 report, more than one million workers in low-wage industries in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City lose more than $56.4 million each week as a result of employment and labor law violations.
The Florida Independent reports that faith groups are planning a series of actions to protest wage theft. This week also marks the first anniversary of the Day Against Wage Theft in Miami-Dade County. Florida Republicans are pushing a bill that would bar municipalities from “adopting or maintaining” local ordinances like Miami-Dade’s that crack down on wage theft.
In a recorded conversation during a Friday campaign stop in Iowa, former Republican senator Rick Santorum offered a surprisingly hawkish set of foreign policy views (even for Santorum) on both Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After telling a questioner that the U.S. should target Iranian nuclear scientists for assassination, the GOP presidential hopeful went on to say that “all the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they’re not Palestinians” and offered his endorsement of Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.
Santorum even went so far as to compare Israeli annexation of the West Bank to the acquisition of Texas during the Mexican-American war:
QUESTIONER: Do you think Israel should dismantle its settlements?
SANTORUM: No. The West Bank, is this part of Israel?
QUESTIONER: [inaudible] According to 48? [inaudible]
SANTORUM: How did we get New Mexico and Texas?
QUESTIONER: Through war.
SANTORUM: How did they get the West Bank? [inaudible] Through a war. Should we give Texas back to Mexico?
QUESTIONER: Well I don’t think you should recognize recent annexations.
SANTORUM: Oh, so it depends whether it’s recent or not? So we should have given New Mexico and Texas back 150 years go?
The bottom line is that that is legitimately Israeli country. And they have a right to do within their country just like we have a right to do within our country. If they want to negotiate with Israelis, and all the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they’re not Palestinians. This is Israeli land.
Santorum’s position that “all the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis,” an apparent denial of the U.S. interest in creating a two-state solution along 1967 borders, poses a serious departure from the stated U.S. policy of the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
If Santorum is endorsing a one-state solution, and there is no other way to interpret his comments, he should elaborate on whether the current Arab residents of the West Bank — a people he refuses to call Palestinians — should receive the full voting rights and freedom of movement afforded to Israeli citizens.
Bachmann Staffer: Marriage Equality Will Lead To Object Marriage |
Michele Bachmann’s new Iowa Campaign Co-Chair Tamara Scott has an extensive history of spreading anti-gay propaganda as head of Iowa’s Concerned Women for America chapter. She has previously spread the fear that marriage inequality will prevent people from entering Heaven. In a conversation with the FAMiLY LEADER’s Bob Vander Plaats this past June, she even suggested that at the end of the fallacial slippery slope is “object marriage,” which is when people marry inanimate objects like the Eiffel Tower. Watch it:
This afternoon in New Hampshire, Newt Gingrich referred to the Congressional Budget Office — the body responsible for scoring the affect of congressional legislation on the deficit — as “a reactionary socialist institution.” As Political Correction’s Jamison Foser points out, Gingrich has been accusing the CBO of socialism since at least 1994, even though he has relied on the budget office repeatedly to produce nonpartisan scores of critical legislation. Here he is talking about the importance of the CBO in 1995:
Let me say, first of all, that we knew the President would veto the Balanced Budget Act. We’re still very proud of the fact that — as a team — House and Senate Republican passed the first balanced budget in a generation. And we did it working together, solving tremendous number of problems. We did it honestly, using the Congressional Budget Office which was tough. [...]
And yet, I have to say that I have mixed emotions today. On the one hand the President said yesterday he’s going to send up a seven-year balanced budget. It won’t yet be scored by the Congressional Budget Office. But they’ve agreed the Congressional Budget Office would do the scoring.
Now, just to make clear why that’s important. The so-called “balanced budget” of the President over here, when scored by the Congressional Budget Office, suddenly became a $200 billion a year deficit. So, we can’t rely on some phony White House score. And we want to just make clear that our first principle is that whatever the President sends up, we’re going to insist on honest scoring to get honest numbers, which were the ground rules that we wrote the Balanced Budget Act by.
This kind of animosity — or some degree of it — is prevalent in both parties, with Democrats demonstrating a good deal of frustration during the health reform effort about the CBO’s refusal to score prevention and delivery reform provisions as savings. In fact as Paul Starr has pointed out, “Obama agreed to delay implementation of the major provisions of the [health] law until January 2014,” as a way to ensure a good deficit reduction score from the agency. “CBO is God around here,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) likes to say, “because policy lives and dies by CBO’s word. Like the Bible, a CBO document can mean different things to different people and it’s easy to pull things out in isolation to justify a position.”
But molding legislation to CBO rules and whims certainly doesn’t make for the very best policy. The office follows budgetary rules that Congress “originally established in the conference report on the Balanced Budget Act of 1997″ and Gingrich personally voted for, and so if lawmakers aren’t happy with the CBO’s assumption, they have a means of changing them. (That is, if they can ever stop cherry picking favorable scores while complaining about unfavorable numbers.)
Global Greenhouse Pollution Surge Continues |
The United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports that greenhouse pollution continues to build in the global atmosphere at a terrifying rate. Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide “reached new highs in 2010,” “greater than those in pre-industrial times (before 1750) by 39%, 158% and 20%, respectively.” From 1990 to 2010, radiative forcing by long-lived greenhouse gases increased by 29 percent. That is to say, since the global convention in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 at which the nations of the world pledged to prevent dangerous global warming, the intensity of global warming has increased by nearly a third. Most of the increase in pollution has come from the burning of fossil fuels, reaping untold profits for oil and coal magnates at the expense of civilization’s future. More than a quarter of all of the carbon pollution produced by the United States has come since then.