Archive for January 2012
Things have officially gotten crazy in Florida. From a robocall making the rounds in Florida, on behalf of Newt Gingrich:
Holocaust survivors, who for the first time, were forced to eat non-kosher, because Romney thought $5 was too much to pay for our grandparents to eat kosher. Where is Mitt Romney’s compassion for our seniors?
I’m not sure what this is symptomatic of: The stupidity of robocalling as a campaign tool or the willingness of Gingrich supporters to do anything (ANYTHING!) to defeat Mitt Romney. Either way.
I don’t live in Tennessee and their local politics is there own. But back in April, I posted about a piece of legislation that is being called “Don’t Say Gay.” I couldn’t help it. It is the kind of ignorant homophobic legislation that riles up the blood here at TRC. But then I pretty much forgot about it.
Until this week. When the author of that legislation, Mr. Stacey Campfield, gave an interview that is so ignorant, so homophobic, so racist, that I have to come back to it. For my own sanity.
So here is Sen. Campfield. He looks like a regular guy. And by his definition of regular, well, I guess he is. Here are some of the gems from his Sirius radio interview:
Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community. It was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall.
My understanding is that it is virtually — not completely, but virtually — impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex.
“A lot of people trying to gloss over and say it’s an every-person disease but really it’s just those high-risk people that are most likely to contract or spread that disease. The odds of a regular man getting it from a regular woman are very low,” he said.
We asked, “What do you mean by ‘regular?’”
He said, “someone who is not from Africa, someone who is not a homosexual, someone who is not an IV drug user, someone who is not sleeping with someone who is one of those things.”
What’s the average lifespan of a homosexual? it’s very short. Google it yourself.
So just to be clear, because clarity matters, according to Stacey Campfield, a regular person is not: African, gay, a drug user, or having sex with an African person, a gay person, or a drug user.
In an attempt to educate out of this nastiness, the wonderful bloger Abbie Smith at ERV, who is not a state Senator but a scientist studying molecular and biochemical evolution of HIV, actually gives some history and reality to the statements above. One note from Ms. Smith I wanted to highlight:
The virus was originally introduced into the homosexual community in the US via an unlucky founder event. However in the areas where HIV is an epidemic, and in the US present day, heterosexual women are the group hardest hit.
And because I’m worked up about this asshole, here are some other gems of ignorant hate, from the Huffington Post:
That bullying thing is the biggest lark out there.
[Homosexuality] has not been proven that it is nature. It happens in nature, but so does beastiality That does not make it right or something we should be teaching in school.
Homosexuals represent about 2 to 3 percent of the population yet you look at television and plays and theaters, it’s 50 percent of the theaters, probably more than that, 50 percent of the theaters based on something about homosexuality.
This is the first time I have heard a straight guy decry the involvement of gays and lesbians in theater.
It’s not hard to see why the son of a bitch was refused service at a restaurant.
Sorry about that.
I’m not quite sure what possessed me to open the pages of TRC to the opposition argument on climate change presented by the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page. The editorial, signed by 16 scientists, makes a terrible argument against climate change. I guess I was just feeling that day like that was a reasonable thing to do.
Of course it isn’t. I stated in that post that there is nothing new in their argument, and nothing that has not been thoroughly discredited. But still. If you want more proof, Bad Astronomy takes down the boldest of the mis-information pieces.
Needless to say, the Wall Street Journal op-ed page won’t be represented here as an open and fairly treated source. Because they are unwilling to do the same. It is no surprise that they posted a global warming denialist editorial. It is actually a surprise that they won’t publish science-based reality in the same pages.
An editorial page that does not open its arms to the opposition makes them hacks. We all know that the WSJ op-ed page is an obvious supporter of Republican and Conservative politics, which is fine. We all have our biases. But I actually did not think that the WSJ was willing to stoop to such embarrassment for the purpose of political absurdity. Shit. If the NY Times will publish Robert Bryce-the fossil fuel funded “expert” on a mission to oppose any environmentally friendly energy development, you can find a place for reality.
So, when I heard that the WSJ accepted an op-ed piece signed by 16 scientists (4 of whom are climate-related) that based itself on claims that have been scientifically refuted over and over, and then turned around and rejected an op-ed signed by 255 scientists from the field in support of the accepted science of climate change, I regretted my decision to post fairly about their published ‘scientific’ editorial. WSJ, I tried to give you the benefit. What a terrible decision.
The most amazing and telling evidence of the bias of the Wall Street Journal in this field is the fact that 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences wrote a comparable (but scientifically accurate) essay on the realities of climate change and on the need for improved and serious public debate around the issue, offered it to the Wall Street Journal, and were turned down. The National Academy of Sciences is the nation’s pre-eminent independent scientific organizations. Its members are among the most respected in the world in their fields. Yet the Journal wouldn’t publish this letter, from more than 15 times as many top scientists. Instead they chose to publish an error-filled and misleading piece on climate because some so-called experts aligned with their bias signed it. This may be good politics for them, but it is bad science and it is bad for the nation.
WE ARE DEEPLY DISTURBED BY THE RECENT ESCALATION OF POLITICAL ASSAULTS ON SCIENTISTS in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientiﬁc facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientiﬁc conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.
I hope that Rep. Allen West, the outspoken Florida Tea Party darling, does not win reelection to the United States House of Representatives. It’s not so much because he is a Tea Party darling who imbues almost everything about politics that I find, well, gross. I can live with that.
No the reason I hope that he is removed from his position as elected representative in the US Congress is because he said this to our President:
Take your message of equality of achievement, take your message of economic dependency, take your message of enslaving the entrepreneurial will and spirit of the American people somewhere else. You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America.
This may not be that bad. I don’t know. I’m sure this kind of thing is a winning political statement. It is probably market-tested to annoy people like me, who value equality and fairness. It is probably work-shopped to drive us fucking insane. Well, it worked. And I don’t care if you meant it to drive me crazy. I hope voters remove you from Congress.
After which, you are more than welcome to stay in the US.
TRC works daily on behalf of and cares greatly about the future of this planet and its human and non-human inhabitants. As a result, TRC take seriously the dangers inherent in pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in volumes that we do. We believe the scientific community when it says: climate change is real, and we are causing it. The results stand over and over. This is our position.
But not everyone agrees. In fairness to the science of climate change, TRC feels it is worthwhile to post this editorial from the WSJ, signed by 16 scientists, arguing against the need to take drastic action on climate change.
Titled No Need to Panic on Global Warming, the op-ed is a cool and considerate argument that there is no evidence in the science that points towards a need to decarbonize our global economy. There are many problems in the argument presented here, in my opinion, but I will note that the main reasons this group of scientists do not want to take action boils down to very familiar arguments: CO2 is good for the planet, scientists are strong-armed by the alarmists into submission, and the benefits of carbon-free investment are not worth the costs.
Here’s some excerpts.
- The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere’s life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.
- Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted—or worse. They have good reason to worry. In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years. The international warming establishment quickly mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas removed from his editorial job and fired from his university position. Fortunately, Dr. de Freitas was able to keep his university job.
- There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to “decarbonize” the world’s economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically.
- A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls. This would be especially beneficial to the less-developed parts of the world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material well-being, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the world enjoy now. Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.
Erik Erickson, from Red State, on the ugliness of the Newt v. Romney Primary Battle for Destruction:
The fight has gotten so bitter and acrimonious with only three states chosen because neither side thinks the other side can win. Gingrich supporters understand that the secularists in the media — not the Democrats, but the media to the extent it can be separated from the Obama Machine — will spend six months creeping out independent suburban voters about Mormons, holy underwear, Kolob, postmortem baptism, and views on black people and then, as the coup de grace, Barack Obama will fire up millions of dollars of ads on Bain Capital raiding pension funds forcing the government to cover the debt so Mitt Romney could make millions whether he won or lost a deal.
Romney supporters understand Newt Gingrich will open his mouth.
Mitt Romney will find it very hard to beat Barack Obama because of what Barack Obama will do to him. Newt Gingrich will find it very hard to beat Barack Obama because of what Newt Gingrich will do to himself. That’s the simple truth.
Sounds okay to me.
Erickson is getting pretty pessimistic about the chances of beating Barack Obama this year, it would seem to me, and it’s not hard to understand why. Both Gingrich and Romney have their own special set of problems, and those problem sets are huge. Not to mention that President Obama is pretty good on the campaign trail, will have a lot of money to spend, and will also, for better or worse, have Super PACs of his own that will attack at will. And despite it all, don’t forget, Obama is still pretty well liked.
For what it’s worth.
Ta-Nehisi Coates has a three part series at his Atlantic blog on the Civil War and comments Ron Paul made about whether the Civil War was necessary. If it seems I am coming back to this often, it is because I think this is important work, and it is worth your time to read it. I’ve been particularly interested in Lincoln in the past 12 months or so since reading Team of Rivals, and Coates has much to offer those interested in the history. But beyond the importance of understanding history, Ron Paul is a candidate for the Presidency, and represents a growing movement in American Conservatism. To have such a figure claim that the Civil War was unnecessary and should not have been fought should not go unquestioned. Having an honest and sober response to such interpretations is invaluable.
For context, here is the relevant quote from Ron Paul, during a 2007 interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press:
Thus spawned three posts from Coates looking at the history and making his case against Paul’s asserstion that the Civil War was unnecessary loss of American lives rather than a necessary war to end the evils of slavery.
I have come to a fairly recent regard for Lincoln. He rose from utter frontier poverty, through self-education and hard work, to the presidency and the upper reaches of American letters. His path was harsh. His wife was mentally ill. His son died in office. He was derided in newspapers as ugly, stupid, a gorilla and white trash. For his patience, endurance, temperance and industry in the face of so many troubles, Lincoln was awarded a shot to the head.
When slaves were worth only a cool $300 million, property in man was an “unhappy influence.” When that number skyrocketed in excess of $3 billion, suddenly it was a “positive good.” Perhaps this is to (sic)deterministic. I leave it to my fellow commenters to color in the portrait. At any rate the notion that such an interest–by far the greatest collective asset in the country at the time–could be merely incidental to the war is creationist quackery.
If you are faced with a system which was–at its core–rooted in horrific torture. (sic) murder, and human trafficking, and then told that it was all made to go away via faerie dust, you should be skeptical. If someone then generalizes and says that this system was ended everywhere by such means, you should be double so. Ron Paul’s rendition of history depends on a lack of that skepticism among his audience, and a faithful belief that they know nothing of Nanny, Toussaint, or Zumbi and have no sincere interest in finding out. Ron Paul is banking on your incuriosity.
It is often said that Americans aren’t interested in history, but I think it’s more accurate to say that people–in general–aren’t interested in history that makes them feel bad. We surely are interested in those points of history from which we are able to extract an easy national glory–our achievement of independence from the British, the battle of Gettysburg, our fight against Hitler, and even the campaign of nonviolence waged by Martin Luther King. For different reasons, each of these episodes can be fitted for digestibility. More importantly that can be easily deployed in service our various national uses.
There should be a new law that states,
Pursuant to TRC rule no 1: a law relating to public self-justification following self-inflicted character damage, effective immediately upon passage January 25, 2012.
No politician or public figure in the United States, be they elected representative, hired employee, appointed official, or formerly held any such position, may use the term “gotcha” to reference a question posed or reference made when speaking publicly, before cameras, or before a crowd of citizens, media figures, or when responding via written format. Any use of “gotcha” or “gotcha question” to attempt to justify one’s own racism, sexism, stupidity, irrationality, douche-baggery or any other shortcoming, will be immediately recognized as an omission of one’s fault in this matter, and an acknowledgement that you are in fact a racist, sexist, irrational idiot, bigot, douche-bag, etc.
This law excepts any reference to the 1985 film Gotcha!, the classic story of student paintball games turned all too serious, starring Anthony Edwards. References to Gotcha! are in fact encouraged.
If you don’t read Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones, you should. Or at least follow here on twitter. She’s very good at her job. So, that’s a plug for Ms. Sheppard.
In Mother Jones today, Sheppard hits on a favorite topic of TRC. The piece is called The Other Love Newt Spurned: Science, and it details in brief his history as a pro-science, pro-environment, pro-space travel, pro-cap-and-trade Republican. Frankly, Newt has always been a science guy. So what happened?
But that was then. Now, Gingrich is much less enthusiastic about science and the environment. And the explanation seems is fairly simple: Gingrich-the-professor likes grandiose ideas like earth-orbiting climate monitors, space honeymoons, a $40 billion investment in laptops for poor people, or bringing back the dinosaurs. But Gingrich-the-presidential hopeful is campaigning in an age where not just denying climate change but actively disdaining scientific research is the standard in the Republican Party.
Gingrich somehow still inhabits the role of Ideas Man for many in the Republican Party. But the Ideas Man is gone. All that is left is a politician running away from his past to help him run for president. Hopefully after he loses this race he will go back to adding value to the GOP by thinking big and looking forward.
Example: If I didn’t know better, this website that Sheppard highlights, and is paid for by Romney’s friends, would give a liberal like me a reason to like Gingrich. Instead, its only point is to mock the man who once challenged the status quo of his party.
First and foremost: ”Women should earn equal pay for equal work.” It is amazing that is an applause line at the 2012 State of the Union.
Here is the strongest impression that the 2012 State of the Union left TRC: President Obama is, in his very core, devoted to bridging the differences and not being inflammatory and divisive. I know that will be disputed. But despite the scolding of Congress, the overarching themes are that we have to be one, not two. He was fairly moderate and did not go for any real bold liberal policies. Even tax fairness is not terrible lefty anymore, at least not in the public. His strongest language was that politics today is a campaign for mutual assured destruction. But that is mutual.
Here is a running series of TRC thoughts.
A remarkable amount of jeering and booing, or something like it. Did you hear that?
I think the President is doing a nice job of marrying policy and politics.
Then there was good but not terribly specific talk on taxes and middle class. Good campaign stuff. Fair share is the word, and I want to hear it more. And America is on your side on this one, at this time. Even if the Republicans in Washington are not. And yet, Obama was clear, as he needed to be, that obstruction will not be met with compliance. Then he just listed a bunch of tax cuts.
He said climate change. And that, my friends, is a victory itself. He acknowledged that now, in D.C., the attitude may make work on the topic impossible. But at least he said the words (how sad a celebration).
Why brag about how many acres have been opened for oil drilling? That’s nothing to celebrate. True, we are using less foreign oil than any time in the past 16 years. But we really do NOT need an all of the above energy strategy. That is not a clean strategy, Obama. That is a dirty, greenhouse gas based energy policy. So you know.
However, Obama is correct to point out the necessity of government involvement in renewable energy. New energy technologies do not surface and become profitable without government support. Energy does not operate on a free market like too many think it does. So that’s a good point.
End the tax payer giveaways to a industry that has never been more profitable and give that money to an industry that has never been more promising. Yes. Do this, Mr. President.
One of the difficulties facing renewable energy is that the utilities operate in regulated monopolies. It requires market creation. Thus, a clean energy standard to create a market for clean energy is an absolute necessity.
Refinance your underwater mortgage at low rates. Banks need to repay a deficit of trust. That’s a pretty good line.
I am quite happy to hear a defense of sound regulation. Regulation is a good in itself. Of course, there are complicated, unnecessary, and stupid regulations that need to be eliminated or reformed. (Side note: Obama deserved his skeptical response on his crying over spilled milk line. But point taken on the oil spill connection). We need to regulate Mercury, clean water, financial institutions. Obviously.
CSI: Financial Crimes Unit. I’d watch that. (Not really).
They keep showing Eric Cantor. He looks so mean. Even when he’s clapping he looks dickish. But not even close to Mitch McConnell.
“But in return.” That is one of the themes President Obama hits over and over. But why would he suspect he can get anything in return from the party who has made his failure their only priority?
Excellent debunk of the misuse of the “Class Warfare” attack. What Obama is talking about is not class warfare, it’s reasonable tax policy, encouraging people to maintain responsibility and meeting their needs. It’s simple.
Yes, President, we are all thinking nothing will get done in Washington this year. And you’re right, you’re performance in Washington last year was the biggest problem of last year’s economy. I wish you could do something about it. But this year, you can’t. “Both parties should put an end to it.” But they won’t.
It’s an interesting request: Grant the President authority to redesign the Executive Branch. More authority to hold less authority.
Politics as a campaign of mutual assured destruction. Too true. Highlighting your point by quoting Lincoln: always a good idea. And in principle, we all agree.
It’s interesting that any time Obama mentions working together, or passing a bill, the camera hits Mitch McConnel. Because we all know what McConnell famously said: Making Obama a 1 term president is the number 1 priority. Rub that in his face. That is the problem, and needs to be resolved. Which I think it will in November.
I also find President Obama’s militant desire for peace quite fascinating. But that is a fight I got scolded for once, so I will leave that aside. Suffice it to say, moving the world toward Peace should be everyone’s goal. Rattling the saber at Iran, and stating our Iron Clad Commitment (and he means Iron Clad Commitment) to Israel, might make peace a more distant goal.
Disappointed the achievements for gay and lesbian equality were not mentioned, as well as the task that remains, but it would not have really jived with the nature of this speech.
The President opened and closed with a salute to the military, and the example our military sets for all of us. It’s a lovely tribute and a strong reminder of what is important, and what all Americans can do to remember that political difference is…just…politics.