Al Gore is set to launch a series of concerts “bigger than Live Aid” planned for July “in a bid to put the subject of climate change before an audience of a global audience of 2bn. The event, scheduled for July 7, will feature co-ordinated film, music and television events in seven cities including London, Washington DC, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and Kyoto, with major broadcasters and media owners aiming to extend the reach of public awareness of global warming.”
Yesterday, the White House released an “Open Letter” on President Bush’s views on climate change. A portion of the letter argued Bush has “consistenly” acknowledged “humans are contributing” to global warming:
Yet on three occasions last year, Bush claimed there was still a “debate” among scientists over whether global warming is manmade or natural:
– “I think we have a problem on global warming. I think there is a debate about whether it’s caused by mankind or whether it’s caused naturally, but it’s a worthy debate. It’s a debate, actually, that I’m in the process of solving…” [7/6/06]
– “There is a debate over whether it’s manmade or naturally caused.” [6/26/06]
– “First of all, the globe is warming. The fundamental debate — is it manmade or natural?” [3/29/06]
The “fundamental debate” ended long ago among climate scientists. Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — a group consisting of the world’s foremost climatologists — issued a report that represents “history’s most definitive statement of scientific consensus on climate change.” Its main findings: global warming is “unequivocal” and human activity is the main driver, “very likely” causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) is considering replacing the “state’s climatologist,” George Taylor, who has suggested that “natural variations” — not human-induced greenhouse gases — are to blame for the Earth’s recent warming. Taylor’s view is not in line with the state policy of Oregon to reduce greenhouse gases, nor is it in line with the consensus of the scientific community.
Conservatives have been up in the arms over the Taylor replacement. Yesterday, Drudge breathlessly reported “Governor plans to fire Oregon climatologist for skeptical view of warming…” And last night, Tucker Carlson blasted Oregon’s Governor for considering replacing Taylor. Watch it:
The right wing has resorted to distorting the facts and spreading misinformation in order to attract attention to the issue. Here are the facts:
1) Taylor is not the “state climatologist.” Oregon abolished the position in 1989. He was bestowed the title by Oregon State University, not by Gov. Kulongoski or the state of Oregon.
3) He will not be fired. Taylor will not lose his job or income, which comes from Oregon State University. He will merely be stripped of his title, which he never earned but claims to retain. Gov. Kulongoski has the right to appoint a climatologist who is an expert in the field and adheres to the state’s climate policies.
UPDATE: News Hounds has more.
UPDATE II: Blue Oregon has more on Tucker’s “hot air.”
Transcript: Read more
Via Jason Zengerle, a Christopher Beam Explainer in Slate gets to the first thing I thought of when I heard the crazy astronaut story — do people have sex on the space shuttle? The truth appears to be a somewhat disappointing “no.” But if it did happen, it’d be super-awesome, right? Slate says no:
Which raises the question: Would space sex be any good? Recent research suggests it would not. For one thing, zero gravity can induce nausea—a less-than-promising sign for would-be lovers. Astronauts also perspire a lot in flight, meaning sex without gravity would likely be hot, wet, and surrounded by small droplets of sweat. In addition, people normally experience lower blood pressure in space, which means reduced blood flow, which means … well, you know what that means.
Frankly, I find some of this unconvincing. Does “hot, wet, and surrounded by small droplets of sweat” really sound all that terrible?
according to Colorado state Sen. David Schultheis (R): How do doctors “determine that a person actually did incur that sexual assault. Are they going to take the word of that individual? You could see individuals coming in that just wanted to make sure that last night’s stand didn’t result in a pregnancy and basically say that they had been a sexual assault” to get the contraceptive.
I was in a cab earlier today and I heard a news report about the Pelosi jet story. It was a weird report. It went on for a while, making this out to be a big deal. Then at the very end, they brought some additional relevant information into play that made it clear this was much ado about nothing and then quoted Tony Snow pointing out that the whole thing was unfair. Then, in conclusion, was some crack about how it’s amazing what kind of nonsense can get people talking in Washington these days.
Well, yes it is amazing, but they missed the whole story. This stuff doesn’t just happen to get in the media because, well, DC is like that some weeks. These stories are ginned up in the conservative press in utter bad faith and then they bang away at them until the MSM starts reporting on them. Even if the reports finally conclude that there’s nothing there, net harm is done to the Democratic Party and to the cause of progressive politics in America. Even worse, the reports never note that this whole much ado but nothing was not, in fact, about nothing but rather about the repeated and successful efforts of the conservative media to control the debate and engage in character assassination against their political adversaries.
That’s why I don’t like to see these kind of fake controversies dismissed a “silly season”. The allegations are silly, but their existence is deadly serious. We’re seeing it with the Amanda Marcotte pseudo-controversy and now again with the Pelosi plane pseudo-controversy and we’re going to keep on seeing it until people demand that would-be serious reporters stop taking their cues from wingnut headquarters.
Yesterday, during hearings on the State Department’s 2008 budget, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) slammed the U.S. military’s ban on gay servicemembers, saying the Pentagon “seems more afraid of gay people than they are [of] terrorists,” and that if the terrorists were smart, “they’d get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad.” Watch it:
Ackerman’s tongue-in-cheek remarks to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came after noting that Rice had “repeatedly emphasized the importance of recruiting qualified language experts to work in the agency.” Ackerman pointed out that at least 322 language specialists with “some skills in an important foreign language such as Arabic, Farsi and Korean” had been discharged from the military since the ban’s inception in 1993.
Ackerman suggested that Rice hire the linguists who were kicked out of the military for being gay. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network praised the idea: “Faced with the shortage of language experts, the military would do well to consider Congressman Ackerman’s point. We cannot afford to lose critical personnel because of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
UPDATE: Carpetbagger Report has more.
Transcript: Read more
In a letter to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), the Congressional Budget Office reports that the war in Iraq has so far cost U.S. taxpayers $351 billion. The total amount, approved and requested, by the Bush administration is $532 billion.
The letter attempts to answer how much more Iraq will cost over the next decade (read it here). To answer that question, the CBO laid out two possible scenarios, and the costs of the respective plans:
First, under a “stay the course” scenario with a gradual drawdown that leaves 75,000 soldiers overseas in 2013 and each year thereafter, the cost would be $919 billion for the next ten years.
The second scenario proposes a faster drawdown, leaving only 30,000 military personnel overseas over the 2010–2017 period, although not necessarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost of that plan would be $472 billion for the next ten years.
In other words, phased withdrawal from Iraq would save $447 billion over the next decade.
The CBO acknowledges a great amount of uncertainty in its calculations. “The President has announced a plan to increase the number of military personnel deployed to Iraq, but it is not clear how many troops will be involved, how long the size of deployed forces will remain elevated, or what the nature of the United States’ long-term military commitment in Iraq and elsewhere will be.”
As the letter makes clear, hundreds of billions of dollars hang in the balance depending on the answers to those questions.
The media continues to pound a false Washington Times report accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of wasting government resources by “demanding permanent access to a large military jet for herself, her staff, other Members and supporters.”
In fact, Pelosi’s office has stated repeatedly, from the beginning, that “it is up to the Air Force to decide what type and size of plane will be required,” and that she “will not use the plane for political travel.”
Conservatives have tried to bolster their attack by claiming that former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) only used his military aircraft for official business. The Washington Times quoted an unnamed “former Hastert aide” saying Hastert “did not use military planes for political trips or regularly transport his family.” But Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynne Sweet says that isn’t true:
On Sunday, Oct. 1, Hastert’s team was scrambling to contain the escalating fallout from the Foley page scandal.
That day, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), then the chairman of the page board, had gotten an urgent phone call from Stokke. The Hastert team wanted Shimkus to return to Washington immediately from his home in southern Illinois in order to appear at a press conference on Monday with the Speaker, and they did not want to deal with commercial flight schedules.
So at 8 p.m. that day, Shimkus arrived at the military side of the Scott Air Force Base near Belleville to board the Speaker’s jet that had been dispatched for him.
The plane then headed to an airport near Aurora, Ill., to pick up Hastert, who had been weekending at his home in Plano, before flying on to Washington.
That Monday, Hastert and Shimkus headlined a press conference in the Capitol to talk about the Foley resignation.
For those who don’t remember, Shimkus is the former House Page Board chair who learned of Foley’s inappropriate emails and then refused to inform the Democrat on the board, Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI).
Pelosi said today she will fly commercial rather than use the aircraft offered by the Pentagon, which cannot reach her home district in California without stopping to refuel.