Politics

Spitting out the Kool-Aid

Condi Rice goes out on limbs

First she rides in an electric car, now she says disagreeing with your government is not unpatriotic? Condi better watch her back.

One Step Backward, Two Steps Back

U.S. government continues to turn a blind eye to climate change Happy World Environment Day! Let’s celebrate this auspicious holiday by taking a look at the latest climate news from the U.S. government. First, a draft energy bill circulating among the House Energy and Commerce Committee contains a provision that would bar the U.S. EPA from allowing states to adopt strict vehicle emissions rules aimed at lowering greenhouse gases. Did you stay with us on that one? Basically, says Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), the wording would “pre-empt the rights of states to set strong standards to save energy and reduce …

Sen. Sanders' energy legislation

On the cutting edge

The Burlington Free Press has a story on some energy legislation Sen. Bernie Sanders is about to introduce: Sanders' proposed energy grants could be used by Vermont towns and counties to update building codes to require construction of energy-efficient homes and businesses, retrofit old buildings with newer technology, experiment with alternative energy, create incentives for residents to car pool or ride the bus, and organize voluntary efforts to encourage people to save energy by turning down their thermostats or replacing traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting. The Senate also will vote on a Sanders amendment that would create a program to train workers to install solar panels, retrofit older homes and offices, and perform energy audits to educate people about how to save money. The article also contains the bizarre reasoning of the folks at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank, about how Sanders' legislation will destroy the economy. On Thom Hartmann's Friday (June 1st) podcast, Sanders made the following remarks:

My god

How many times will this exact … same … story get written?

Democracy, food, and the Farm Bill

Threatening local control in our food system

When the Democrats took control of Congress, a colleague of mine looked at me with a sigh of relief and said, "Isn't it great that we won't have to be playing defense against bad policy anymore?" If only that first impression were the case. In a democracy, we shouldn't have to be constantly vigilant for bad legislative ideas that could hurt the public good. Our legislators are supposed to be the filter that guards against schemes that would strip rights and take choices away from people. Unfortunately, it seems to be the same politics, with the same money trails. JMG's post yesterday touches on a topic I have been thinking a lot about, and I want to address it in more detail. On the House Agriculture Committee website, summaries of all of the parts of the legislation being offered are posted. Under the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry there is a Title I Section-by-Section analysis. Section 123 is particularly problematic: SEC. 123. EFFECT OF USDA INSPECTION AND DETERMINATION OF NON-REGULATED STATUS. * Prevents a State or locality from prohibiting an article the Secretary of Agriculture has inspected and passed, or an article the Secretary has determined to be of nonregulated status. What does this mean? Also known as "preemption language," this broad statement basically says that if the USDA says something is safe, a state or local government is not allowed to regulate it. For example, there have been a number of counties around the country that have banned genetically modified organisms from being produced within their borders. This preemption-style language, if it's passed in the Farm Bill, would void those local laws.

Spotlight on Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman of The New York Times has been rolling in green editorials. In mid-April he wrote a major piece called "The Power of Green," in which he made the case for his generation to follow the footsteps of the Greatest Generation to become the Greenest Generation. He writes: We in America talk like we're already "the greenest generation," as the business writer Dan Pink once called it. But here's the really inconvenient truth: We have not even begun to be serious about the costs, the effort and the scale of change that will be required to shift our country, and eventually the world, to a largely emissions-free energy infrastructure over the next 50 years. More recently, Friedman has weighed in on how to begin to change the environmental decisions our political leaders make -- it starts with the upcoming election. In "Turning the Election Green" Friedman proposes a presidential debate on the environment and energy. According to a poll Friedman cites, done for the Center for American Progress, a substantial percentage of Americans want policies to address global warming and redirect our energy policy. Yesterday, Friedman had another piece, "Our Green Bubble." He writes:

Bush gets it from all sides

Poor guy

Poor Bush, he just can’t get a break. He announces a shiny new climate-change strategy, and what does he get? Nothing but grief. Nancy Pelosi called it "the same stale proposals he has repeatedly put forward to the international community." Al Gore called it "purely and simply smoke and mirrors [that] has the transparent purpose of delaying the efforts that could start now." Dan Froomkin called it an "attempt to muddy the debate about the issue and derail European and U.N. plans for strict caps on emissions." Britain and Germany are not amused: Britain and Germany yesterday joined forces to …

The new conservatism: Like the old totalitarianism

Whatever happened to local control is good?

From Organic Consumers: Failing to suppress grassroots control over food safety laws and labels in the last session of Congress, industry has now called on their friends in the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry to slip a similar poison pill into an obscure section of the voluminous 2007-2012 Farm Bill. The provision would give the White House appointed Secretary of Agriculture the power to eliminate local or state food and farming laws, such as those in four California counties banning genetically engineered crops, and set an ominous precedent undermining states' rights.

Brooks and Shields act out the bankruptcy of elite Beltway opinion

Watch at your own risk

I was going to wrap this into a previous post, but this kind of spectacular cluelessness deserves its time in the spotlight. Watch two mandarins of Beltway "moderation," Mark Shields and David Brooks, discuss Bush’s "new" climate strategy: Astounding. You really could not ask for a more crystalline example of the intellectual tics that have come to substitute for thought among the D.C. media chattering class. A couple of things to note. The first and most glaring is that throughout the entire discussion, neither Shields nor Brooks analyzes or even so much as mentions the merits of the new strategy. …

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