“Amid questions of reckless behavior by U.S contractors, the FBI is sending a team to Iraq to investigate the role of Blackwater USA in last month’s shoot-out in Baghdad that killed 11 Iraqis,” the AP reports. The agency is “making the move at the request of the State Department…to pursue possible criminal charges in light of allegations that guards working for Blackwater might have shot innocent Iraqi citizens.”
Today, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gave a speech on the Senate floor condemning Rush Limbaugh for calling troops who support American withdrawal from Iraq “phony soldiers.” He urged his colleagues — both Democratic and Republican — to sign a letter of disapproval to the CEO of Clear Channel.
Instead, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) — who voted to criticize MoveOn.org — has decided to commend Limbaugh. Today at 3:16 PM, Kingston introduced a resolution “[c]ommending Rush Hudson Limbaugh III for his ongoing public support of American troops serving both here and abroad.”
From the resolution:
Whereas Mr. Limbaugh’s commitment to American troops serving both here and abroad remains as strong as ever: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives–
(1) recognizes Rush Hudson Limbaugh III for his support of the Marine Corp Law Enforcement Foundation and for providing free subscriptions for active-duty servicemembers;
(2) recognizes Mr Limbaugh’s desire to see American troops achieve a successful outcome in Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever soldiers are stationed; and
(3) commends Mr. Limbaugh’s tireless public support for American troops and their families through radio broadcasts, fundraising and other public support.
Kingston appeared as a guest on Limbaugh’s show as recently as July 3.
Reid also called on Limbaugh to apologize to U.S. troops. On his radio show today, Limbaugh did apologize — not for his own actions but for those of Media Matters and Reid for allegedly disrespecting the soldiers:
I want to apologize to all of the members of the United States Military, both in uniform and out, active duty and retired, for Media Matters for America. They will not apologize to you, and they will not apologize to me. I want to apologize to you on behalf of them. [...]
But since you will never get an apology from Jack Murtha for mischaracterizing you as murderers, since you’ll never get an apology from John Kerry, since you won’t get an apology from Media Matters for America or anybody that works there, to all of you in the US Military, I want to apologize to you for them for the, again, firestorm over something that did not happen regarding your valor and your commitment to freedom and democracy last week on this program.
Limbaugh also challenged Reid to “come on this program” and “tell me to my face that I said what I did not say.”
UPDATE: Jane Hamsher calls on Armed Forces Radio to take Rush off the air.
UPDATE II: Army of Dude, a blog by a soldier serving in Iraq, responds to Rush with pictures of a few of his fellow troops, so-called “phony soldiers.”
UPDATE III: The Corner’s Kathryn Jean Lopez approves of Kingston’s resolution.
UPDATE IV: A new poll of “right-of-center” bloggers finds that Limbaugh is their “favorite” person on the right.
Those greenwashing ads are really starting to bug me. “It took us 125 years to use the first trillion barrels of oil. We’ll use the next trillion in 30.” And you’re proud of this fact — proud of your role in bringing about the wholesale destruction of this planet’s climate?
Will you join us? No, I won’t. I’m trying to figure out a way to get people to use a lot less of your polluting product.
And now, “Chevron Announces New Global ‘Human Energy’ Advertising Campaign.” I suppose it’s better than the ad campaign for “inhuman energy” that they have been running for decades — though it strikes me as a lame ripoff of Dow’s “Human Element” campaign.
Chevron has taken the equivalent of three full-page ads in today’s Washington Post. One of the ads says, “We’ve increased the energy efficiency of our own operations by 27% since 1992.” To quote Clarence Thomas, “Whoop-Dee-Damn-Doo.”
I have worked on energy efficiency with a lot of companies over the years, and a below-2% per year gain in efficiency is nothing to brag about. Johnson & Johnson achieved a 3% annual efficiency gain over a 20 year period. And IBM achieved 4% per year.
The achievement is doubly meaningless because the vast majority of Chevron’s emissions come from the products they make — like gasoline — NOT the energy used to make the products. Indeed, the total greenhouse gas emissions from burning gasoline are typically 4 to 5 times that of making it. So who cares if Chevron’s “Human Energy” figured out how to produce its fuel more efficiently — it’s burning the next trillion barrels that is the killer, not producing it.
IT ISN’T EASY BEING GREEN
If you go to Chevron’s website as the ads suggest, you’ll see this press release on the front page: Chevron Announces $15 Billion Share Repurchase Program. Delightful. The company’s idea of being green is to launch a $15 million ad campaign touting its greenness while spending a stunning $15 billion buying back its own stock, rather than, say, investing the money in developing new sources of clean energy.
If you google “greenwashing Chevron” you’ll find a lot of great information about just how “green” and “socially responsible” this company is. My new favorite is oilwatchdog.org. That site has a great story on Chevron’s scorched-earth denial tactic against foreign environmental and human rights lawsuits, which begins: Read more
It bears mentioning that things seem to have gone entirely to hell in Burma, with reports now coming out that the death toll in the crackdown has been higher than it initially appeared.
Justin Wolfers sets the record straight. Basically the news is good, divorce rates are declining, and the institution of marriage is in good shape.
It seems to me that Kevin Drum is missing the obvious as he puzzles over what Barack Obama could be claiming to represent when he says he represents “real change.” The implication of the claim, obviously, is that while Republicans offer stasis and he offers “real change” his opponent, Hillary Clinton, must offer “fake change.”
I think the relevant idea here isn’t “an end to polarization” nearly so much as it is an end to what Obama has referred to as “the smallness of our politics.” In this frame, partisanship isn’t being contrasted to finer-grained efforts to find compromise nearly so much as it’s being contrasted to the pursuit of broad thematic goals rather than politics as trench warfare in which the fighting is fierce but nothing ever happens.
On a symbolic level, this is clear enough. It would be fairly ridiculous for George H.W. Bush to be elected president in 1988, beaten by Bill Clinton in 1992, Clinton succeeded by Bush’s son in 2000, and Bush the Younger succeeded by Clinton’s wife in 2008. And yet this seems like a very probably outcome. It’s as if the two rival claimants to the throne could just settle their feud by having Hillary Clinton marry George P. Bush and unite the warring clans.
What does the difference mean in practice? Obama’s people speak of a distinction between transactional and transformational politics, with their guy in the latter camp. But, again, what’s the upshot? Sometimes, it may mean that Clinton would be to Obama’s left insofar as she seems more eager to uncritically embrace public sector unions as a vital element of her minimum winning coalition. Other times, it may mean that Clinton is to Obama’s right insofar as she also seems more eager to uncritically court groups like AIPAC and CANF when framing her foreign policy. Less partisan in this sense doesn’t necessarily mean more “centrist” it means bigger and broader. The incompetence dodge critique of the Bush foreign policy is a perfect example of a position that’s partisan to the exclusion of ideology or substance, just a bare assertion that Democrats could make all the same ideas turn out to be good ideas.
The problem for Obama is that the Democratic nomination process — and especially the Iowa Caucus — is a very transactional endeavor. And Obama doesn’t want to be the high-minded candidate who earns praise and then loses. And to his people, that means he needs to win Iowa, which means putting this message forth so quietly that one begins to wonder if one isn’t simply imagining things.
The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday that former U.N. ambassador John Bolton advised Tory delegates in Britain this weekend that they should press for “pre-emptive strike on suspected nuclear facilities” in Iran.
“Because life is about choices, I think we have to consider the use of military force,” Bolton said. He added that any strike “should be followed by an attempt to remove” the “source of the problem,” Iranian President Ahmadinejad.
Fleshing out his hawkish dreams on British television, Bolton suggested that the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq was a model for the “policy of regime change” he would like to see done in Iran:
Q: It’s not of the course the policy that worked in Iraq though, did it? I mean, that was the policy of regime change.
BOLTON: No, but I think it did work in Iraq. … Knowing everything we know today, I think it’s unquestionably the case that we were right to overthrow Saddam. We achieved our strategic objective. I think the world is better off for it. [...]
I don’t think you should conflate what happened in the post-Saddam period. And whatever happened and however bad it’s been, doesn’t change the fundamental analytical point that we’re better off without Saddam.
There is no “strategic objective” that has been gained through the Iraq war. Rather, it has fueled the spread of terrorism, overstretched our ground forces, caused the unnecessary death of thousands of soldiers and Iraqi civilians, and fundamentally made the world a more dangerous place for the United States.
A military conflict in Iran is likely to produce the same effects as the Iraq war. Moreover, a military attack on Iran “would not, as is often said, delay the Iranian program. It would almost certainly speed it up.”
Bolton’s unquenchable appetite for war is easy to espouse given that he seems to care little about the disastrous consequences that follow.
Today on the Senate floor, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) condemned Rush Limbaugh’s “phony soldiers” comment, saying that the radio host makes these “provocative things to make more money.” He then offered another possible explanation for Limbaugh’s “over-the-line” remarks:
Well, I don’t know. Maybe he was just high on his drugs again. I don’t know whether he was or not. If so, he ought to let us know. But that shouldn’t be an excuse.
(HT: TP commenter Candyce)
Transcript: Read more
Whatever Chris Bowers’ state-by-state polling may show, can’t we all agree that Rudy Giuliani is not going to beat Barack Obama in Massachusetts? Bush got 37 percent of the vote in Massachusetts in 2004 and, believe it or not, that was a huge improvement over the 33 percent he got in 2000, or the 28 percent Bob Dole got in 1996. What we’re learning with that post of Chris’ are two things: (1) is that Hillary Clinton is plenty electable, and (2) Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani are better known than Barack Obama and John Edwards. Nothing else.
I’ve been away for a week working as a table facilitator at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative. Sadly, we sign a non-disclosure agreement as a condition of participation, so I can’t blog about it. Instead, I’m going to recommend a few books and presentations from the most impressive speakers I heard — all focused around poverty alleviation, the track I worked in. Think of it as your chance to get the CGI experience in your own home, without the risk of running into Richard Branson in the men’s room.
This seems to me to have been part-and-parcel of one of the most oddly executed PR strategies I’ve ever seen. The CGI managed to segregate the journalists out away from the action, essentially guaranteeing that we’d get bored and start thinking of things to complain about since they’d made it really hard to get any interesting stories. Meanwhile, why would you make participants sign non-disclosure agreements? Nothing secret was happening — the working group stuff was all shown on TV constantly in the press room. Meanwhile, all the journalists there seemed perpetually confused by what the event was all about, since lots of the “commitments” names at the meeting didn’t really seem to be charitable in nature. I, of course, had read Jonathan Rauch’s Atlantic cover story whose headlilne is “This is Not Charity” taken from something Ira Magaziner told him for the piece:
The climate initiative, in typical Magaziner style, has many moving parts, including technical assistance to cities, networks for sharing best practices, software to measure progress, financial support, and a full-time foundation staff member assigned to each city. But the make-or-break component is a plan to re-equilibrate the market for energy conservation. “What we’re doing is jump-starting— accelerating—market forces,” Magaziner told me.
Cities own public buildings: offices, schools, police stations, hospitals, fire stations. They set codes for private buildings. They buy and run fleets of vehicles: buses, garbage trucks, police cars, ambulances. They handle water and waste. No city by itself can make a deep dent in carbon emissions or reorganize a global market, but together cities can pool their demand for leading-edge conservation technologies, such as LEDs for traffic lights, systems that capture and burn garbage dumps’ waste methane (a potent greenhouse gas), and alternative-fuel engines for city vehicles. Predictable demand would let suppliers scale up their operations, bringing prices down and creating footholds for technologies on the cusp of commercialization.
That would be step one. Step two, in Magaziner’s vision, is to channel a Niagara of private capital into the effort. Energy-saving technologies typically cost more up front but less over time. “So what we’re going to be doing is setting up a financing mechanism,” he told me. The foundation would help cities borrow in the securities markets against future energy savings. “The whole thing is bankable,” Magaziner said. “It’s a commercial proposition. This is not charity. The whole concept of this is that the market itself over some period of time is going to deploy all these energy-saving things. The problem is it will happen slowly and gradually.” The foundation hopes to reduce decades to years, and years to months.
In short, some of the stuff there didn’t seem like charity because it’s not supposed to be charity, but I didn’t see that explained anywhere. It was puzzling because everything about the operation seemed really slick and media-savvy. They just couldn’t seem to communicate what it was they were actually doing.