2011 was a big year for ThinkProgress’ video output. Between catching the Republican presidential candidates flying off into various forms of extremism, filming Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) being booed at his own town hall, exposing a sitting Senator imploring the Koch brothers for campaign funds, unearthing a clip of Ronald Reagan making the same tax policy arguments as Obama, and skewering Mitt Romney for editing Obama out of context, ThinkProgress was able to drive both the news cycle and the course of national debate with the unique video content we found. So here, in honor of the year’s end and measured in both traffic and political impact, are ThinkProgress’ ten biggest video moments from 2011:
Newt says there’s insufficient evidence for climate change, citing his expertise as ‘an amateur paleontologist’ | At a town hall in Atlantic, Iowa, Saturday afternoon, Gingrich gave an unusual reason for his present denial of man-made global warming. “I’m an amateur paleontologist,” Gingrich said. “I spend a lot of time looking at the Earth’s temperature for a very long time. I’m a lot harder to convince than just looking at a computer model.” Professional paleontologists, who have spent a lot more time than Gingrich looking at the Earth’s temperature, are convinced. “Few credible scientists now doubt that humans have influenced the documented rise in global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution,” the American Quaternary Society wrote in 2006.
The headlines of 2011 were driven by global warming disasters and the popular uprising against the powers-that-be who have accumulated profit at the expense of the future of humanity. The United States faced the most billion-dollar climate disasters ever, with 14 distinct disasters costing at least $53 billion to the U.S. economy. Stymied by the election of the science-denying Tea Party Congress, the Obama administration failed to pass climate pollution or oil and coal safety legislation in response to the disasters of 2010. The administration fought back attacks on investment in renewable energy and stopped the rush to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, spurred by mass protests.
A torn American flag stands in the wreckage of a church in Joplin May 24. (Robert Ray/Associated Press)
A monstrous dust storm (Haboob) roared through Phoenix, Arizona in July. (danbryant.com)
Cars are abandoned on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive during the “Snowpocalypse” in February. (chicagotribune.com)
BREAKING: Mitt Romney Promises To Veto DREAM Act If Elected | Matt Viser of the Boston Globe reports that during a campaign stop in Le Mars, Iowa this afternoon, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney promised to veto the DREAM Act if it ever passed while he was president. Romney’s promise to veto the legislation is merely the latest escalation in a campaign that has already been marked by extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric from Romney and his fellow Republican candidates. A Pew Hispanic Center poll released earlier this week showed Romney losing Hispanic voters to President Obama by a 3:1 margin, far worse than John McCain did in 2008.
Sioux City’s ABC affiliate covered Romney’s remarks about the DREAM Act. Watch it:
This afternoon, Obama signed the controversial Defense authorization bill, despite his reservations about provisions related to the treatment of terrorism suspects. The National Journal reports:
President Obama signed on Saturday the defense authorization bill, formally ending weeks of heated debate in Congress and intense lobbying by the administration to strip controversial provisions requiring the transfer of some terror suspects to military custody.
“I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists,” Obama said in a statement accompanying his signature.
The AP has more from the signing statement: “My administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.”
Full text of the signing statement below:
Social conservatives are lauding Rick Santorum’s “surge” to third place in the Iowa polls, but his new forthrightness about his positions may backfire. In a recent interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Santorum explained that not only would he support a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, he supports invalidating all currently legal same-sex unions:
SANTORUM: I think marriage has to be one thing for everybody. We can’t have 50 different marriage laws in this country, you have to have one marriage law…
TODD: What would you do with same-sex couples who got married? Would you make them get divorced?
SANTORUM: Well, their marriage would be invalid. I think if the constitution says “marriage is this,” then people whose marriage is not consistent with the constitution… I’d love to think there’s another way of doing it.
He went on to claim that “same-sex couples can contract for everything” except government benefits and compared the loving marriages of many gay and lesbian couples to having a friend or an aunt.
With Over 500K Signatures Already Collected, Recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Appears Inevitable
A recall of controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker now appear inevitable. In just 28 days, activists collected 507,533 signatures. Organizers have until January 17 to collect 540,208 signatures, which is equal to 25% of the state’s 2010 general election turnout. To be safe, recall advocates have set a new goal of 720,277 signatures by the deadline.
The recall efforts success has propted the Scott Walker’s campaign to take aggressive action to invalidate signatures. Walker sued his own Government Accountability Board, arguing the proceedures adopted by the board to review signatures aren’t agressive enough. Without citing any concrete evidence, Walker alleged to Fox News that there was massive fraud in the signature gathering effort. The case is still pending.
Nevertheless, Walker has changed his tone in recent days and acknowleged making mistakes in pursuing his an anti-union effort in his first few days in office. Walker told the LaCross Tribune that “that he’s made mistakes in how he’s gone about achieving his agenda” and “he regretted not having done a better job of selling his changes to state government.” Walker also said he regretted his statements on a phone call with a man pretending to be billionaire David Koch. He said his comments on the call, where he referred to his plan to undermine collective bargaining as “dropping a bomb” and admitted he considered planting troublemakers among the protesters, were “stupid.”
Assuming the final signatures are collected and verified, a recall election is expected in the late-Spring or Summer.
by Miles Grant, cross-posted from the National Wildlife Federation
How bad was 2011 for America’s wildlife, air, water, land and public health? After taking 191 anti-conservation votes, even the House of Representatives’ own members called it ”the most anti-environment House in the history of Congress.”
That’s not to say the last year hasn’t been without progress in Washington. The Environmental Protection Agency set long-overdue limits on mercury pollution that will prevent 11,000 premature deaths a year. The EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration set new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks that will cut our oil addiction by billions of barrels. And the EPA is ready to establish landmark global warming pollution limits on power plants.
But those actions represent the Obama administration implementing past acts of Congress, often in the face of opposition from one or both parties in the current Congress. Inside the Capitol, many members of Congress spent 2011 attacking wildlife, trying to roll back public health protections, and doing the bidding of its Big Oil donors.
10. The Dirty Water Act
Yes, 2011 will be remembered as the year Congress decided America’s water was just too darn clean, attacking the Clean Water Act and investment in clean water programs. The Dirty Water Act passed the House and now Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and John Barasso (R-WY) have been working to sneak it through the Senate by trying to attach it as a political rider to must-pass budget legislation. Get Smart: Tell Congress to protect river otters’ streams from pollution.
9. Banning Imaginary Regulations
The Environmental Protection Agency has no plans to regulate farm dust, but that didn’t stop a bipartisan majority in the House from passing the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act. “Since I am sure that many little girls all over America care about this deeply, can you commit to me that EPA will never try to regulate fairy dust?” Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) jokingly asked EPA assistant administrator Gina McCarthy. The Senate has no plans to take up the bill and President Obama has promised to veto it. Get Smart: Learn what pollutants are real threats to America’s wildlife and public health.
Global Markets Lost $6.3 Trillion in 2011 | Amid slowdowns in emerging markets, a debt crisis in Europe, a slow recovery here in the United States, and various other turbulent events, the Financial Times reports that global stock markets lost $6.3 trillion in value this year — a 12 percent slide. After some wild swings reminiscent of the 2008 financial crisis, U.S. markets were mixed with the Dow ending the year up 5.53 percent. Remarkably, the S&P 500 ended the year at 1257.60, just .04 points changed from its 2010 close of 1257.64.
Confronted by a Limbaugh listener, Gingrich blamed an anonymous third party for requesting the chapter, and said “we told them to kill it,” CBS News reports:
The climate-change issue arose Thursday night at a Gingrich campaign stop in Carroll, when a woman expressed concern to Gingrich about the chapter. She said she had heard about it on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program. As she began to tell Gingrich who the author of the piece would be, Gingrich interrupted. “That’s not going to be in the book,” he told her. “We didn’t know that they were doing that and we told them to kill it.”
“Good,” the climate denier responded. “That sounds a good idea because why would you want to have somebody like that in there?”
Gingrich and his co-author Terry Maple never told Hayhoe — a professor at Texas Tech University, mother, and evangelical Christian — that her chapter would be junked. Hayhoe was dismayed by the “ungracious” way she found out that her work was being discarded.
“Nice to hear that Gingrich is tossing my #climate chapter in the trash,” Hayhoe tweeted in response to the news. “100+ unpaid hours I could’ve spent playing w my baby.”