As Arlington National Cemetary’s director of public affairs, Gina Gray “pushed vigorously” to give journalists increased access to the funerals of U.S. soldiers, defying Pentagon efforts to keep the media out of earshot and photo range. A few weeks after the Washington Post first noted efforts, she was demoted and eventually fired. Today, the Post reports that Army Secretary Pete Geren has asked his staff to review Gray’s case. Gray responded that she is “definitely encouraged by any investigation into the mismanagement at Arlington Cemetery.” (HT: Karen Tumulty)
Remember when the rule of law was a hot topic among conservatives? Obviously, 9/11 changed everything so in the name of national security we should ignore laws against torture and laws against warrantless wiretapping, but what many fail to realize is that 9/11 made environmental regulations obsolete as well:
The Supreme Court, in a decision 15 months ago that startled the government, ordered the EPA to decide whether human health and welfare are being harmed by greenhouse gas pollution from cars, power plants and other sources, or to provide a good explanation for not doing so.
The administration, naturally,
decided to comply with the court order “opted to postpone action instead, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Post.” Ah, opted to postpone. And how does that work?
To defer compliance with the Supreme Court’s demand, the White House has walked a tortured policy path, editing its officials’ congressional testimony, refusing to read documents prepared by career employees and approved by top appointees, requesting changes in computer models to lower estimates of the benefits of curbing carbon dioxide, and pushing narrowly drafted legislation on fuel-economy standards that officials said was meant to sap public interest in wider regulatory action.
The decision to solicit further comment overrides the EPA’s written recommendation from December. Officials said a few senior White House officials were unwilling to allow the EPA to state officially that global warming harms human welfare. Doing so would legally trigger sweeping regulatory requirements under the 45-year-old Clean Air Act, one of the pillars of U.S. environmental protection, and would cost utilities, automakers and others billions of dollars while also bringing economic benefits, EPA’s analyses found.
Or maybe it wasn’t 9/11 after all. Maybe they’re just whoring for the coal and oil companies who fund them. Crazy notion, yes. Since we all know that John McCain (a) is a maverick (b) is in no sense running for Bush’s third term and (c) has heroically broken with the GOP on climate change no doubt he’ll be issuing a call for impeachment or something.
Amity Shlaes mounts a stirring defense of Phil Gramm’s “mental recession . . . nation of whiners” argument. I think it’s telling that some strain of conservatism thinks that the debater’s point that the economy’s not technically in a recession until we see two consecutive quarters of GDP shrinkage should be at the center of how we understand this. The relevant point, it seems to me, is that the economic suffering is quite real, recession or otherwise.
[Among other things, if we experienced eighty straight years of 0.1 percent GDP growth, that would be an unprecedented recession-free span but also a large drop in per capita living standards]
“Women of the future will make the Moon a cleaner place to live.”
Via Jessica Valenti.
Yesterday, during a campaign conference call discussion of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) new ad on immigration, Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) praised McCain for “standing tall” on comprehensive immigration reform throughout the primary. He also declared Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) criticism — pointing out that McCain has since disavowed his former position — as “false,” “shameless,” and “unfair”:
And I think the ad wonderfully highlights what is really the straight story on Senator McCain and immigration. Far from him running away from the issue during the primary, as it is falsely and shamelessly claimed, in fact, [McCain] stood tall during that time. … In the meantime, what I think is terribly unfair, and I will not stand idly by and let happen, is for [Obama] to trash Senator McCain’s record on comprehensive immigration reform. Senator McCain was for it during the primary. He was for it now. And he will be for it when he is president.
In fact, McCain himself has admitted to the “shift” in his position, calling it “a lesson learned.” What’s more, during the Jan. 30 primary debate, McCain admitted that he would no longer vote for the very immigration bill Martinez today insists he “stood tall” for “during the primary.” Watch it:
Strangely, Martinez also used the call as an opportunity to bash Obama, who he declared “was AWOL” during the immigration debate. Yet as Politico’s Ben Smith notes, Martinez praised Obama for “standing firm” in support of the bill in a June 2007 letter:
“While it failed, your backing of this important legislation meant a lot to me personally,” Martinez wrote. “I know that standing firm in the face of extreme pressure has not been easy, and again, I thank you.”
Not surprisingly, none of the three questions posed to Martinez asked him about his reversal.
The Stanley Foundation has put together a totally awesome-looking web tool called “Rising Powers: The New Global Reality” aimed at helping people understand the newly influential nations and non-state actors that increasingly shape our world.
It seems that John “Straight Talk” McCain has ads up claiming that Barack Obama has voted to raise taxes on individuals earning “as little as $32,000 per year.” This claim is indisputably false. Beyond that, Doug Holtz-Eakin’s defense of the claim, namely that Obama voted for a budget resolution that would raise the tax rate for people currently in the 25 percent bracket, and that bracket “begins at an income level of $31,850″ is positively risible. Holtz-Eakin is referring to the level of taxable income not current income at which the bracket begins, the correct figure is $32,500 for 2008, and Obama’s vote was for 2009 at which point the cutoff would be higher. But that would be a taxable income level translating to something over $41,500 for an individual with no dependents or over $83,000 for a married couple.
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has been garnering loads of attention lately, from her confrontation with coal to speculation over her becoming Barack Obama’s running mate for Vice President.
Climate Progress has been closely tracking the coal debacle [thanks to our own intrepid Kansan, Kari]. This week Gov. Sebelius sat down with Grist to talk about her state’s energy crossroads, and our entire nation’s should she one day stand by Obama’s side on the campaign.
As is easily observed by the coal plant bills’ tenure in the Kansas legislature, Sebelius is not working with a progressive set of politicians whose sights are set toward the future. Attempts to use the legislature to make political advances for renewable energy would fall dead in seconds. One of the highlights of Grist’s interview with Sebelius is her describing how she’s gotten her state to work toward renewable electricity goals, with no official policy in place:
Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow died early this morning at the age of 53, following a long battle with colon cancer. In 2005, Snow had his colon removed and underwent six months of chemotherapy. In March 2007, Snow announced his malignant cancer had returned and spread to his liver and elsewhere in his body. He returned to work in the White House five weeks later. Snow is survived by his wife and three children under the age of 15.
UPDATE: Snow started his television career at Fox News. This morning, the network paid homage to its former colleague and employee. Watch this segment narrated by Brit Hume:
UPDATE II: Read President Bush’s statement here.
I’m quite a bit too young to remember the last time we had major banks failing in this country and I’ll admit that it’s pretty unsettling. Brad DeLong gives me some confidence that the appropriate people have the tools and judgment necessary to prevent things from getting too bad. But who knows — I’m kind of an optimist by nature, and optimism hasn’t been paying off well lately.