Archive for March, 2008


Cities leave US behind on climate accord

Monday, March 31st, 2008

With the Bush Administration continuing to keep its head in the proverbial sand when it comes to global warming, many states are taking action and leaving the US as a whole in the dust, and are inviting key European allies here to talk about new strategies, according to a new report in Bloomberg.

States are moving toward mandatory, rather than voluntary action, the news report said, citing officials from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. More than a dozen states are working on everything from cap-and-trade regulations to tightening up standards on vehicle tailpipe emissions.

Bloomberg’s report comes just days after Pres. George W. Bush delivered his final State of the Union address.

Here is a quick read of the story:

“The clear message from the states is that we need mandatory action,” said Elliot Diringer, director of international strategies at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “There appears to be consensus within the U.S. and abroad that we need to move beyond the voluntary approach.”

(…)

In his State of the Union address Monday, Bush committed $2 billion to deploy clean-energy technologies in developing countries. He failed to endorse climate change legislation under debate in Congress that would cap emissions.

“American business and the American public are calling for mandatory federal action,” Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center, said in a statement. “The White House must go much further if it wants to be seen as a leader on climate action.”

Clinton vs. Clinton

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Since we’ve put up the rather moving speech by Sen. Barack Obama, I wanted to put up a couple of items related to the other Democratic candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Former Vermont Governor and Ambassador to Switzerland Madeleine Kunin makes the argument in a leading Vermont Sunday news magazine recently that Sen. Hillary Clinton is the right candidate to bring about the change many in this country seek.

She does raise some themes that you’ll find in her forthcoming book, Pearls, Politics, and Power, but this is a great overview of the choices facing Democrats now and in November.

Here is the opening salvo of her column:

We are living in revolutionary times. For the first time in our history a woman and an African American are the top choices for the democratic nomination for president. Back in 2006 no one predicted this would happen in 2008.

This does not mean that either sexism or racism has disappeared, but it does mean that they are no longer impenetrable barriers to the presidency.

With two such strong, qualified candidates, how can we choose?

The media has framed the choice as one between change and experience.

Those words fit neatly into a headline; the facts are more interesting and complex. Both Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama represent change. Foremost, they represent change from the domestic and foreign policies of George W. Bush. Both represent change if we envision their portraits hanging in the White House next to the white men who have preceded them.

Read more of it here.

She’s working on an even stronger piece right now taking a look at gender in politics, and recently got into a nice little dust-up with Sen. Patrick Leahy, a leading Obama supporter, and his call for Sen. Clinton to step aside for the good of the party.

For those who don’t buy this argument, not to fret.

In preparation of the launch of our new website, we had some cleaning up of our old blog archives. While going over hundreds of blog posts, we found this gem: Markos Moulitsas in The Washington Post saying Hillary Clinton’s biggest problem was, well, she’s a Clinton Democrat.

Hillary Clinton: Too Much of a Clinton Democrat?

By Markos Moulitsas
Washington Post; Sunday, May 7, 2006; B01

Hillary Clinton has a few problems if she wants to secure the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. She is a leader who fails to lead. She does not appear “electable.” But most of all, Hillary has a Bill Clinton problem. (And no, it’s not about that. )

Moving into 2008, Republicans will be fighting to shake off the legacy of the Bush years: the jobless recovery, the foreign misadventures, the nightmarish fiscal mismanagement, the Katrina mess, unimaginable corruption and an imperial presidency with little regard for the Constitution or the rule of law. Every Democratic contender will be offering change, but activists will be demanding the sort of change that can come only from outside the Beltway.

Hillary Clinton leads her Democratic rivals in the polls and in fundraising. Unfortunately, however, the New York senator is part of a failed Democratic Party establishment—led by her husband—that enabled the George W. Bush presidency and the Republican majorities, and all the havoc they have wreaked at home and abroad.

[...]

Our crashing of Washington’s gates wasn’t about ideology, it was about pragmatism. Democrats haven’t won more than 50 percent of the vote in a presidential election since 1976. Heck, we haven’t won more than 50.1 percent since 1964. And complicit in that failure was the only Democrat to occupy the White House since 1980: Bill Clinton.

Despite all his successes—and eight years of peace and prosperity is nothing to sneeze at—he never broke the 50-percent mark in his two elections. Regardless of the president’s personal popularity, Democrats held fewer congressional seats at the end of his presidency than before it. The Democratic Party atrophied during his two terms, partly because of his fealty to his “third way” of politics, which neglected key parts of the progressive movement and reserved its outreach efforts for corporate and moneyed interests.

While Republicans spent the past four decades building a vast network of small-dollar donors to fund their operations, Democrats tossed aside their base and fed off million-dollar-plus donations. The disconnect was stark, and ultimately destructive. Clinton’s third way failed miserably. It killed off the Jesse Jackson wing of the Democratic Party and, despite its undivided control of the party apparatus, delivered nothing. Nothing, that is, except the loss of Congress, the perpetuation of the muddled Democratic “message,” a demoralized and moribund party base, and electoral defeats in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

Those failures led the netroots to support Dean in the last presidential race. We didn’t back him because he was the most “liberal” candidate. In fact, we supported him despite his moderate, pro-gun, pro-balanced-budget record, because he offered the two things we craved most: outsider credentials and leadership.

And therein lie Hillary Clinton’s biggest problems. She epitomizes the “insider” label of the early crowd of 2008 Democratic contenders. She’s part of the Clinton machine that decimated the national Democratic Party. And she remains surrounded by many of the old consultants who counsel meekness and caution.

[...]

Afraid to offend, she has limited her policy proposals to minor, symbolic issues—such as co-sponsoring legislation to ban flag burning. She doesn’t have a single memorable policy or legislative accomplishment to her name. Meanwhile, she remains behind the curve or downright incoherent on pressing issues such as the war in Iraq.

On the war, Clinton’s recent “I disagree with those who believe we should pull out, and I disagree with those who believe we should stay without end” seems little different from Kerry’s famous “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” line. The last thing we need is yet another Democrat afraid to stand on principle.

In person, Clinton is one of the warmest politicians I’ve ever met, but her advisers have stripped what personality she has, hiding it from the public. Some of that may be a product of her team’s legendary paranoia, somewhat understandable given the knives out for her. But what remains is a heartless, passionless machine, surrounded by the very people who ground down the activist base in the 1990s and have continued to hold the party’s grassroots in utter contempt. The operation is rudderless, without any sign of significant leadership. And to top it off, a sizable number of Democrats don’t think she could win a general election, anyway.

Can Hillary Clinton overcome those impediments? Money and star power go a long way, but the netroots is now many times larger than it was only three years ago, and we have attractive alternatives to back (and fund), such as former governor Mark W. Warner and Sen. Russell Feingold.

Just as we crazy political junkies glimpsed the viability of the candidacy of an obscure governor from a small New England state three years ago, today we regard Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as anything but inevitable. Her obstacles are big, and from this vantage point, possibly insurmountable.

Markos Moulitsas is founder of the political blog Daily Kos and coauthor of Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics

How it could have been done if the preachers of the free market had stuck to their principles instead of launching a moronic war

Friday, March 28th, 2008

In my post a moment ago I mentioned how I’d once heard that, for the money the US spent on the war in Vietnam, we could have paid for the installation of an in-ground swimming pool for each and every Vietnamese family instead. What a great way to win the hearts and minds of our enemies, eh? So I decided to try out the math for this stupid, awful, and infuriating Iraq war. What if we had tried to bribe the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam Hussein and install a working democracy instead of imposing these things (rather: trying futilely to do so) by force?

Cost of war to US taxpayers as of March 28, 2008: a bit over $506,359,000,000. Source.

Population of Iraq in July 2008, according to the CIA World Factbook: 27,499,638.

I threw in 2,000,000 extra people to account for the dead and refugees, so the numbers below are based on an estimated population 29.5 million people.

Cost per Iraqi (each man, woman, and child) paid so far by US taxpayers on the war: $17,767.21.

First of all, what if we’d just offered Saddam Hussein and his top leadership only, say, half the total that we’ve spent–roughly $253 billion–to leave Iraq and go live in the Bahamas? Well, if he’d refused but the so-called free market loving leadership in the US had pursued this market line of thinking, we could have had Hussein overthrown–without the loss of a single American life–by offering each man, woman, and child in Iraq any of the following.

There you have it. The Iraqi people could have had a Saddam Hussein-free Iraq and eaten their apple pie, too. But that’s not the way we did it, because, as usual, the American government tried to do it on the cheap. Haven’t any of these people heard “penny wise, pound foolish” before? And now Bush/Cheney and McCain have got their sights set on going double-or-nothing broke in Iran as well. Will you buy that?

An inspired idea for impeachment: buy it

Friday, March 28th, 2008

A fellow Chelsea Greener has emailed me the following flash of genius.

In honor of the JP Morgan/Bear Stearns bailout I suggest that we couch impeachment in similar terms; since money is the true master of the United States Congress this proposal has as good a chance of succeeding as anything currently on or off the table.

We the people of the United States of America, recognizing the bankruptcy of the current administration of Bush Cheney, authorize payment in an amount not to exceed $30 billion dollars from the United States Treasury via The Federal Reserve, to be provided to the members of the United States Congress, in order to induce Congress to assume the liabilities and assets of Bush Cheney and remove Bush Cheney from the White House, effective immediately.

To which I replied

You might be giving them too much money, though. What always shocks me is just how damn cheap the politicos are. It seems that you can buy the vote of a Senator for a mere $5,000 to their reelection campaign. It’s like the world’s super power is run by a bunch of crack whores. (No disrespect intended to crack whores, who, Lord knows, make a more honest living than half of Congress.)

This all also reminds me of something I heard about the Vietnam War—that for all the money the US spent (in direct expenditures, mind you, not including any of the interest on debt stuff) we could have had an in-ground swimming pool built for every Vietnamese family. For the blog I should probably do a similar calculation for Iraq.* If we’d promised a cash payment to every man, woman, and child in Iraq of, say, $5,000 once Hussein was overthrown and five years of functioning democracy had taken place (with maybe $1,000 paid upon the overthrow), don’t you think we’d be sitting pretty?

* Stay tuned.

[UPDATE: tune in here.]

Random number of the day

Friday, March 28th, 2008

771

Random number of the day

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

101 .

Random number of the day

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

525 . .

Thinking about business responsibility, and a good cartoon

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Dave Pollard is working on a book that we’ll be publishing this September (The Natural Entrepreneur). His blog, howtosavetheworld.ca, is a good spot for thoughtful missives on living and working and hoping in the current era. His latest entry, “Does (or Should) Business Have Social and Environmental Responsibility?,” also includes a great cartoon from the great Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig. Oh how I love Michael Leunig! Meanwhile, if I get some spare time, I’ll be back with some comments in response to Dave’s notions.

Random number of the day

Friday, March 21st, 2008

147 .

Investigative look at toxic toys

Friday, March 21st, 2008

The PBS show NOW is turning its news magazine prowess toward a topic near and dear to author Mark Schapiro’s own journalistic prodding—phtalates. What are those you ask? Nasty, for sure, and while they make toys and other fun little plastic gizmos fun and pliable, they also do a number on the chemistry of your own body (including causing infertility in males).

Get a preview of the show here.

And, NOW is also running a short excerpt from Mark’s book, Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power, by clicking here.

Be sure to check your local PBS listings for when NOW will air in your town.


Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com