2009 - %3, September

Shutting Down Guantanamo

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 12:21 PM EDT

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert is obviously a starry-eyed liberal appeaser who wants to weaken America:

In late 2001, when the Pentagon decided to put detainees at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the task of setting up a camp and establishing its rules went to Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert.

....On Thursday, as the 58-year-old officer prepared to retire after 36 years in the Marine Corps, he expressed his deep disappointment about what happened at Guantanamo after he left. "I think we lost the moral high ground," Lehnert said. "For those who do not think much of the moral high ground, that is not that significant.

"But for those who think our standing in the international community is important, we need to stand for American values. You have to walk the walk, talk the talk."

Lehnert says he's fully in favor of shutting down Guantanamo.  "I think the information we're getting is not worth the international beating we're taking," he says.  Semper fi.

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The Public Option Revisited

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 11:50 AM EDT

Ezra Klein quotes Congress Daily on the cost of healthcare reform that includes a public option.  The estimates are from the CBO:

The original House bill required the public plan to pay providers 5 percent more than Medicare reimbursement rates. But as part of a package of concessions to Blue Dogs, the House Energy and Commerce Committee accepted an amendment that requires the HHS Secretary to negotiate rates with providers. That version of the plan will save only $25 billion.

In total, a public plan based on Medicare rates would save $110 billion over 10 years. That is $20 billion more than earlier estimates, a spokesman for House Speaker Pelosi said.

So a public option would save anywhere between $2 billion and $11 billion per year depending on whether or not it's based on Medicare rates.  That's savings to the government, and it's based on the fact that the public option would lower the cost of insurance and the feds would therefore have to pay lower subsidies to low-income households buying coverage under the individual mandate.  However, if the private plans lower their prices to compete with the public option, then everyone buying insurance would save money, not just low-income families, and the total cost savings to consumers would be much higher.

It's hard to say how significant this would be without seeing the actual CBO report, but in any case the point is clear: the public option saves money.  Supposed "fiscal conservatives" who oppose the public option are either poorly informed or simply hypocritical.  It's not only good for the public, it's something that's more fiscally responsible than a healthcare plan that's purely private.  That's why we need it.

Another Company Quits Chamber of Commerce Over Climate Position

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 11:21 AM EDT

Thursday was another bad day for the US Chamber of Commerce, as New Mexico utility holding company PNM Resources resigned from the group over its stance against climate change legislation. PNM spokesperson Don Brown said the company sees climate change as "the most pressing environmental and economic issue of our time," and thus won't be renewing its membership in an organization that has raised doubts about whether global warming is man-made.

Their announcement comes less than a week after Pacific Gas & Electric, a major California utility, pulled out of the Chamber over concerns about the group's climate change policies.

The group which represents 3 million US businesses, has been waging a campaign against Congressional action and has threated to sue the Environmental Protection Agency if they move forward on regulating carbon dioxide. They also recently filed suit against the EPA for granting California the right to set higher automobile emission standards.

PG&E and PNM are thus far the only two groups to formally resign over the Chamber's climate stance. Here's the statement from PNM:

Given that view, and a natural limit on both company time and resources, we have decided that we can be most productive by working with organizations that share our view on the need for thoughtful, reasonable climate change legislation and want to push that agenda forward in Congress. These organizations include the Edison Electric Institute, the association of shareholder-owned electric companies, and the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a group of businesses and environmental organizations of which we are a founding member.

The Nigerians Have Kidnapped Harry Potter?

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 11:05 AM EDT

I just received this email:

Dear Selected personality.

We the harry potter foundation wishes to anounce to you that,sequel to your email profile, you have been selected in your state by this honorable foundation to disburse a reasonable amount of (£1,000.000.00) (one Million GBP) to the less privellege.This project is been sponsored by philanthropist and ably supported by united nation (U N).we are indeed overwhelmed with this laudable project and we do sincerely hope that you will discharge your duties faithfully on reciept of this funds.this following are request for final clearance and proper identification to avoid posible identity theft.

1. full names as appeared in national identity card......

2. last two places of residence...........

3. current phone number...........

4. language spoken..........

Inlight of the above please contact the the foundation co-ordinator

Names:mr. Andy Alec

Phone Number:+447024043608

E-mail:harrypotterfoundation@whangamata.net

Do you think it's real?

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G20 Expected to Move Forward on Cutting Fossil Fuel Subsidies

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 11:00 AM EDT

The Group of 20 will agree to phase out fossil fuel subsidies in the "medium term," according to the most recent leaked draft of their communique. Leaders will also agree to "intensify our efforts" to reach a deal in Copenhagen at the end of the year, but, as expected, won't offer any more specific commitments on climate.

The draft cites recent data from the International Energy Agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that finds that cutting these subsidies alone would likely reduce greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2050. It directs the energy and finance ministers of the G20 nations to develop timelines and strategies for phasing out those subsidies:

Best Idea From the UN Summit: A Green WTO

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 10:06 AM EDT

With the Copenhagen climate conference just around the corner, China's commitment to cap its carbon intensity and Obama's lack of firm commitments dominated most of the environmental headlines from the UN summit this week. So most observers missed a promising idea floated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy: an environmental counterweight to the World Trade Organization.

"Let us create a single World Environment Organization in Copenhagen," Sarkozy said during his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. The French president used his turn at the podium to champion an idea he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had laid out for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the days leading up to the summit. A letter from the duo explained that after a climate agreement emerges from Copenhagen "a new institutional architecture will need to be set up to foster the development of international environmental law. Environmental governance must be overhauled." The letter concludes: "We must make use of the momentum provided by Copenhagen to make further progress towards the creation of a World Environmental Organization."

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 25, 2009

Fri Sep. 25, 2009 8:26 AM EDT

U.S. Army Spc. Olen Bailey stands post in a guard tower on Forward Operating Base Mizan in Zabul province, Afghanistan, Sept. 10, 2009. Bailey is assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kris Eglin.)

Need To Read: September 25, 2009

Fri Sep. 25, 2009 7:57 AM EDT

Today's must-reads:

Follow me! David Corn, Mother Jones' DC bureau chief, also tweets, as does awesome new MoJo blogger Kate Sheppard. So do my colleagues Daniel Schulman and Rachel Morris and our editors-in-chief, Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein. Follow them, too! (The magazine's main account is @motherjones.)

Eco-News Roundup: Friday September 25

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 6:40 AM EDT

News from Mother Jones and elsewhere you might have missed.

Earth to Conrad: Kent Conrad just figured out other countries have good, universal healthcare.

No Nukes: UN supports US resolution to reduce nuclear arms. [Al Jazeera]

Obama v. Fossil: Obama will go after fossil fuel subsidies at G20.

Better Beets: Beets modified to resist Monsanto pesticide blocked from market. [MSNBC]

The New Guy: The pharma ties of Sen. Kennedy's replacement, Paul Kirk, may hurt healthcare reform.

EPA Win: Sen. Murkowski's attempt to keep EPA from regulating GHGs falls flat.

Ante Up: Providing climate financing to poorer countries may headline at G20.

Bitter on Twitter: Sen. Vitter is against the Climate czar, and he's not afraid to Tweet it.

 

Clinton on Gore

| Fri Sep. 25, 2009 5:00 AM EDT

It's Laura, back with a few frog-free potboilers from the rest of the crew:

1) The new Black Panthers and me: Obama's DOJ is under fire for dropping a controversial voter intimidation case. Our reporter caught the whole incident on camera.

2) Did Clinton compare Gore to Mussolini? David Corn's favorite excerpts from the Clinton bio you can't read yet.

3) Meet the spy who loved Hamas. And Hezbollah. And Iran. Just who is ex-MI6 superstar Alastair Crooke working for, anyway?

4) Rare photos from inside a (completely macrame-free) Hamas summer camp for young Palestinian boys.

Laura McClure hosts weekly podcasts and is a writer and editor for Mother Jones. Read her recent investigative feature on lifehacking gurus here.