2009 - %3, June

Has Obama Done Enough?

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 2:49 PM EDT

Despite that cat blog posting you see below this one, Kevin is on vacation. At least, he's suposed to be on vacation. Expect him back with non-cat blogs on Tuesday. I'm subbing until then.

Okay, I know that Michael Jackson died, but there's a bill heading to a vote in the House this afternoon that's billed by President Barack Obama as a "historic first step" toward dealing with the threat of climate change. As I type, it looks like a nail-biter.

At the daily White House press briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked what Obama was doing today to help pass this legislation. Gibbs said that the president had made "a few" calls to House members. A few? Does that sound like a big push? We weren't given many more details. But it certainly didn't seem as if Obama is pulling an all-out LBJ. Was the White House trying not to attach Obama's prestige to a cap and trade bill that might crash and burn? Hard to know what's going on behind the scenes. But I certainly wouldn't mind being a fly on the wall in Rahm Emanuel's office—unless, of course, Obama is there. (Smack!)

I wonder if Obama and his team have made efficient use of Obama Nation—that is, those millions of people who supported his campaign. Yesterday Organizing for America—the offshoot of the Obama presidentical campaign, which is housed within the Democratic National Committee—sent out an email to its list (of presumably millions), asking followers to visit a website page that shows how to call your representatives and what to say in support of the energy bill. It's a pretty spiffy and sophisticated web operation. Was it kicked into gear too late? Obama's millions were not fully mobilized prior to this late stage.

But you can't call this an error until the votes are counted. If the bill passes, the White House played it right. If not....

Meanwhile, Al Gore stayed away from the House today—there was some talk in Washington that he would parachute in—and posted a blog item explaining his support of the bill:

There is no back-up plan.  There is not a stronger bill waiting to pass the House of Representatives.  It’s time to get started on a plan that will create jobs, increase our national security, and build the clean energy economy that will Repower America.

Please contact your Member of Congress today.

Gore has not been a major presence in the debate on this bill. Democratic strategists must assume that he doesn't help much with those Ds or Rs on the fence. That's probably an accurate assessment. But if the bill flops, media commentators will be consumed with second-guessing how the White House and Speaker Pelosi handled it—if they're not busy pondering the Michael Jackson autopsy results.

You can follow David Corn's postings and media appearances via Twitter.

 

 

 

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GOP: "The Pain in Spain Falls Mainly on US"

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 2:00 PM EDT

As House GOP opponents of Waxman-Markey continue trash-talking the climate bill, listen carefully for the name Gabriel Calzada, aka "the Spanish professor," as George Will called el gran profesor in a flim-flam of a column yesterday.

 (Calzada should not be confused with The Spanish Prisoner, a venerable con-game that...on second thought, the two Spaniards are pretty much interchangeable.)

You'll have to listen carefully, though, because key Republicans (Marsha Blackburn, TN, for example) are likely to use code, dropping oblique references to "the report from Spain." (See p. 434 in that report.)

As an indignantly redundant Ed Whitefield (R-KY) described Calzada's work, the "empirical study" uses "empirical data" to prove that for every "so-called green job" created in Spain under a cap-and-trade regime identical to Waxman-Markey, 2.2 good jobs were lost.

And that's the good news.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) says that the Spanish Prisoner Professor's study found we could lose 20 "regular" jobs (see pp. 442-3) for every green one created by the climate bill.

Scary stuff. In fact, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) says that after talking with Calzada, the climate bill now scares him more than the 9/11 terror attacks:

"[Calzada] said, America, are you crazy? We have got 17.5 percent unemployment in Spain, and you want to model your aspects [sic] after us? You have got to be kidding me...this debate is so crazy!"

The GOP fearmongers would have me scared, too, if I didn't know how this con game worked.

Let's start with el profesor Calzada himself, who according to a recent piece in the Washington Times, hails from "one of Spain's leading universities."

Is it:

  1. The University of Salamanca, established in 1218;
  2. The University of Navarra, regarded as the best private university in Spain; or,
  3. The University of Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid campus, now celebrating its 10th anniversary.

If you guessed number 3, you're right! (Although, URJC has yet to make it on any top 10, 100, or 250 lists of Spanish universities.)

OK, it may not be the most prestigious University in the world (or Spain or Madrid), but Calzada has a wonderful record that stretches back, um, a decade, when he earned his PhD. in economics from URJC, where he is now an Associate Professor of Economics.

Perhaps Calzada has been widely published? Strong but wrong. His school website lists only two obscure and fringy journals, "The Journal of Libertarian Studies" and something called "Economic Affairs y Procesos de Mercado," for which Calzada may also serve as "assistant manager (subdirector)."

As a final accolade, the site boasts that Calzada "has been economic advisor to several companies in the tourism industry."

What's left out is Calzada's links to several right-wing groups that claim global warming is a hoax. This is the man Republican leaders cite most frequently to support their bogus claim that Waxman-Markey will lead to the destruction of millions of jobs in the United States.

Want to hear more about Calzada's sketchy background -- and why Republicans give the appearance of believing his research? Check back later. For now, I want to catch the rest of the con game as it plays out on Capitol Hill.

------------

Osha Gray Davidson covers solar energy for The Phoenix Sun, and is a contributing blogger for Mother Jones.

Friday Cat Blogging - 26 June 2009

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 2:00 PM EDT

Sure, I might be on vacation, but that doesn't mean there's no Friday Catblogging this week.  What kind of monster do you think I am?

But if I'm on vacation, then Inkblot and Domino get a vacation too.  So this week, courtesy of reader Randy G., we have some guest catblogging.  The pile of furballs on the right are Lennie and Louie, and as you can guess, they're littermates.  Sigh.  I want a pair of littermates some day.  They'll be 14 years old next month, but if you'd like to see pictures of them as kittens, along with their mentors Ralph and Alice, just click here.  It's bonus historical kitten blogging!

Elsewhere at the Washington Post...

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 1:31 PM EDT

Reading Nick's quote of the day below, I was struck by the, um, incredibly jarring contrast in tone between Dan Froomkin's sober final column about the harrowing legacy of Bush and Cheney's tenure in office, and a competition the Post launched yesterday challenging readers to write the first paragraph for Cheney's forthcoming book. When I saw the contest I was thinking of a parody in the vein of, say, The Trial, or 1984, but the Post appears to be aiming more for a PG Wodehouse kind of thing, perhaps—it's hard to tell. Here's their sample opener:

"Undisclosed Location, Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2009: Well, the baton is passed. Our work is finally done. Eight years, one devastating terrorist attack, two wars and one recession later, it's finally time to relax. It's been an amazing ride. George and I can certainly say, 'We did it our way!' Or really, if you want to get technical about it, my way. Well, best of luck to this new crew. They're going to need all the help they can get. Or as I was saying to Lynne the other night, it's going to take an 'extraordinary rendition' to get us out of this mess. And with this bunch coming into office, you can bet it's going to be torture. Ha-ha!"

Torture: so droll. Let's hope the Post's readers can do a little better.

Climate Debate Begins: Republicans Lie, NYT Yawns, TV Jackos Off

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 12:43 PM EDT

Nobody in the mainstream media seems to care that debate has begun in the House this afternoon on the single most important piece of environmental legislation ever. As of 1 p.m. Eastern, there's still no mention of the Waxman-Markey climate bill on the front page of the Times' website; the paper's Caucus blog deems it worthy of a mention but changes the subject halfway through to talk about immigration reform. Climate Progress rues the Reuters headline: "Michael Jackson overshaddows Farrah Fawcett on a sad day."

Meanwhile, Republicans are not being called out for spewing lies on the House floor about the bill's scientific mandate and price tag. Many of them are repeating the bogus claim that the Congressional Budget Office found that the bill would add $.77 a gallon to the price of gasoline in the next decade. That number actually comes from the American Petroleum Institute, which decided to ignore the CBO's real analysis and produce its own. In reality, the CBO found that gas prices in 2019 would be about $.20 higher than they are today. More important, it found that the climate bill will cost the average American the equivalent of a postage stamp per day--and before you count the benefit of energy efficiency savings.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post released a poll showing that 75 percent of Americans believe that the government should "regulate the release of greenhouse gases" from cars and other sources. So presumably, many people would actually care to know that a climate bill is up for debate, and that Republicans are doing everything they can--truth and future generations be damned--to kill it. These guys are the true kings of Neverland. We're missing the one freak show that matters.

 

 

 

Friday Cat Blogging - 26 June 2009

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 11:59 AM EDT

I'm subbing for Kevin until Tuesday. He's probably not leaving his room, so he can watch all the Michael Jackson coverage.

Okay, I don't like cats. I'm allergic to cats. They make me sneeze. Once, a tabby clawed me and my arm swelled up. I looked like The Hulk. Or, part of The Hulk. Two years back, I did rescue a cat, and now it lives in the house across the street and visits our yard regularly. I named it Miles. Why? Just seemed to fit. But that was an exception. Whatcha gonna do when a living creature gets caught in brush behind a fence? Just listen it to it yelp while you're lying in a hammock swatting mosquitos? Nah, you gotta do something, right? So I did. But don't get the wrong impression. I don't like cats. Dogs are jake with me--but some make me wheeze. Which is why my kids want a Portuguese Water Dog. Hypo-allergenic, they say. Yeah, right. It sure doesn't hurt that Sasha and Malia got one--which, I'm betting, raised the price of a PWD pup by a factor of twelve. Can't wait to go shopping for one of those.

But I'm off-topic. Cats. Cat blogging. Just. Don't. Get. It. But tradition--that I understand. Keeping customers satisfied--that I really understand. Don't want to lose no eyeballs. So if the cables can go wacko over Jacko, I can go bats over cats. That is, with the help of longtime Kevin Drum reader BH, who foreseeing my dilemma emailed me pics of his kitties. At least, he says they're his cats. On the Internet, who knows? Names: Walter and Milo. And I don't know nothing else about them. So here's your cat blog.

Milo sitting in an IKEA chair. I hope he didn't have to assemble it.

Walter and Milo after a fight. If only Angelina and Megan could make up so easily

 

 

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Merkel Plays Hard

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 11:25 AM EDT

Kevin has hit the road for a few days. He'll be back on Tuesday. I'm sitting in his cyber-chair until then.

After President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a sit-down at the White House this morning, the two held a joint press conference at the White House. There were a few questions about Iran, and Merkel talked tough on the subject without causing ruptures. She declared, "we will not forget" what has happened to participants in the Iranian oppoosition who have been suppressed, beaten, and killed. "We will do everything to identify the exact number of victims," she said, and who they were. "Iran cannot count on the world community turning a blind eye," she said. Merkel noted that it's "so important" for dissidents "to know that people somewhere else in the world" are watching what they are doing. By speaking in such terms, she went--for good or bad--further than Obama, who did again condemn the Iranian crackdown on the opposition. Merkel referred to concrete steps that can be taken, at least in retrospect. And I wonder if Obama will feel compelled at some point to do likewise. Then again, that will probably depend on what happens with the opposition in Iran. If things quiet down, such pressure will ease.

At the same time, Merkel said, she "completely agreed" with Obama that the United States and Germany had to work with Russia and China to find productive ways of engaging with Iran regarding the Iranian nuclear program.

Now, Germany ain't the United States, and it certainly doesn't have the same bad history with Iran. Merkel has far more latitude to express outrage and to propose responses. Obama is probably still getting the balance right. Sometimes it just doesn't look pretty.

You can follow David Corn's postings and media appearances via Twitter.

Quote of the Day: The Lies of George W. Bush

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 11:07 AM EDT

"When I look back on the Bush years, I think of the lies. There were so many. Lies about the war and lies to cover up the lies about the war. Lies about torture and surveillance. Lies about Valerie Plame. Vice President Dick Cheney's lies, criminally prosecutable but for his chief of staff Scooter Libby's lies. I also think about the extraordinary and fundamentally cancerous expansion of executive power that led to violations of our laws and our principles."

—Dan Froomkin, in his final column for the Washington Post.

Best in Blog: 26 June 2009

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 10:28 AM EDT

Sure, Michael Jackson's brilliance changed music, as everyone who's ever moonwalked, breakdanced, or lugged a boom box to school to play "Thriller" during recess knows. But now the recently departed King of Pop is also changing the weekend news arc. Will this be the last we hear of Iran from the MSM?

Our Friday faves:

1) Guess Who's Selling Wall Street's Bull?

Hint: He was a Bush aide who cooked up a phony pitch for the Iraq War. Read more.

 

2) The Biofuel Boondoogle

Midwestern Congressman Collin Peterson introduces the week's worst amendment to the Waxman-Markey climate bill. Read more.

 

3) BK's New BJ Ad, Now With More Ick Factor

Have you seen the burger-as-blow-job Burger King ad just that burst onto the scene? Here it is.

Best in Blog: 26 June 2009

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 10:19 AM EDT

Sure, Michael Jackson's brilliance changed music, as everyone who's ever moonwalked, breakdanced, or lugged a boom box to school to play "Thriller" during recess knows. But now the recently departed King of Pop is also changing the weekend news arc. Will this be the last we hear of Iran from the MSM?

Our Friday faves:

1) Guess Who's Selling Wall Street's Bull?

Hint: He was a Bush aide who cooked up a phony pitch for the Iraq War. Read more.

 

2) The Biofuel Boondoogle

Midwestern Congressman Collin Peterson introduces the week's worst amendment to the Waxman-Markey climate bill. Read more.

 

3) BK's New BJ Ad, Now With More Ick Factor

Have you seen the burger-as-blow-job Burger King ad just that burst onto the scene? Here it is.