2009 - %3, June

Cap and Trade in the Dark?

| Wed Jun. 24, 2009 12:01 PM EDT

Here's some disturbing info on the climate change bill moving through Congress. From a press release put out by the Sunlight Foundation:

Washington, DC - This Friday, Congress plans to vote on a bill that could fundamentally alter the American economy, dramatically affect the climate, and have huge implications for our national security. But, right now no one knows what's in the bill or how it came to be.

Last week, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (the "Cap and Trade Energy Bill"), or H.R. 2454, was 946 pages long. Over the weekend, it ballooned to 1,201 pages with no explanation for how or why. It is currently only available online at the House Rules Committee, and is reported as "text of the bill to be introduced." This legislative maneuvering reminds us of the failure of Congress to make bills properly available before consideration.

In a statement today, Sunlight Foundation Engagement Director Jake Brewer said, "The fastest speed-readers and the most intelligent minds can't make informed decisions with that much time. How can Congress?" He continued, "The problem here is the bill wasn't developed in the open in a committee, so no one--including those members of Congress not on the Energy Committee-knows how this latest version was created."

It's very likely that even many of those advocating for or against this legislation won't know what was inserted or what the final bill will be, since changes will be accepted right up until 9:30am on Thursday morning before an intended vote on Friday....

Without proper public and journalistic oversight, it may be too late for the cap and trade energy bill. It will likely become another case study in Sunlight's hall of shamefully rushed bills.

Earlier today, I noted that Reps. Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, the two lead authors of the bill, are honorable legislators and passionate about redressing the negative consequences of climate change. Still, folks on and off the Hill ought to know--and understand--what's in the bill before it reaches a vote.

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Spinning Health Care Reform

| Wed Jun. 24, 2009 10:14 AM EDT

How does the health care industry spin the media to protect its turf? Columbia Journalism Review's Trudy Lieberman interviews Wendell Potter, a former head of corporate communications for CIGNA, the country’s fourth-largest insurer (and the insurer of the Corn household). And Potter tells all. He shares an insider's perspective we rarely get:

Trudy Lieberman: Why did you leave CIGNA?

Wendell Potter: I didn’t want to be part of another health insurance industry effort to shape reform that would benefit the industry at the expense of the public.

TL: Was there anything in particular that turned you against the industry?

WP: A couple of years ago I was in Tennessee and saw an ad for a health expedition in the nearby town of Wise, Virginia. Out of curiosity I went and was overwhelmed by what I saw. Hundreds of people were standing in line to get free medical care in animal stalls. Some had camped out the night before in the rain. It was like being in a different country. It moved me to tears. Shortly afterward I was flying in a corporate jet and realized someone’s insurance premiums were paying for me to fly that way. I knew it wasn’t long before I had to leave the industry. It was like my road to Damascus.

Mick Jagger and the Climate Change Bill

| Wed Jun. 24, 2009 9:31 AM EDT

It's not a big surprise that John Podesta, who heads the Center for American Progress and who ran President Barack Obama's transition, has endorsed the imperfect Waxman-Markey climate change legislation. Podesta, who has long worked on climate change, writes

Once again, Mick Jagger is right: “You can’t always get what you want/ But if you try, sometimes you just might find/ You get what you need.” The House of Representatives is poised for its first ever floor debate on legislation to reduce global warming pollution. This landmark bill is revolutionary in its intent and, while imperfect in its means, deserves the support of progressives.

Podesta is a smart fellow, but he has this Rolling Stones reference backward. If you believe the scientists—and I believe them—then we need a greater and faster reduction in greenhouse gas emissions than we would get from this bill. Unlike, say, the public health plan option, this is not a matter of obtaining merely what progressives want.

Hypocrite of the Day

| Wed Jun. 24, 2009 8:39 AM EDT

Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, addressing a group of lawmakers Wednesday:

[N]either the system nor the people will submit to bullying.

At first I thought it was incredibly brazen and ironic to say something like this, but then I realized something much more repugnant: Khamenei actually believes beating and murdering protesters is a just response to their (Western-orchestrated) dissent. This is the danger of madness ascending to power.

Top 10 Reasons Why Gov. Mark Sanford Went Missing

| Wed Jun. 24, 2009 8:37 AM EDT

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've already heard that Mark Sanford, the stimulus-money-refusing Republican governor of South Carolina, was missing for the past five days. Even his wife didn't know where he was. His office said--or rather, lied--that he was hiking on the Appalachian trail, but when the governor turned up this morning at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, he said he'd actually been in Beunos Aires. Here's a list of the top 10 theories on why the 2012 presidential hopeful went MIA:

10. He's "private." He wanted some alone time. (He says he was driving along the Argentinian coast.)

9. He "wanted to do something exotic."

8. He was trying to figure out how to lead the GOP out of the wilderness.

7. Isn't being the subject of over 2,000 articles in such a short time span a good way to increase your name recognition before running for President?

6. He was leaving to "spend some time away from his family."

5. He's "just a weird guy."

4. He wanted to refute Stephen Colbert's assertion that he is "incredibly boring... a manila envelope just glued to a beige wall... walking, talking Ambien."

3. He was worried that Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), another potential 2012 contender, was getting too much attention

2. He really was hiking in the woods...because it was Naked Hiking Day.

1. He's running for president...of Argentina.

 

Best in Blog: 24 June 2009

| Wed Jun. 24, 2009 8:00 AM EDT

Today's three MoJo picks:

1) Can Michelle Obama Save Health Care Reform?

David Corn: On a day when the politerati focused on President Obama's press conference (Iran, health care, Iran, health care, the economy, smoking, Iran), Chris Matthews, Richard Wolffe, and I went off-topic to discuss whether Michelle Obama can help her husband sell the health care bill now under construction in Congress. Watch the video.

 

2) Barney Frank to F-22: Drop Dead

Rachel Morris: Rep. Barney Frank has authored an amendment that would remove funding for the extra F-22s that the House Armed Services committee slipped into the defense budget authorization bill last week. Here's the story so far.

 

3) Will Europe Out-Whale Japan?

Jen Phillips: The International Whaling Commmission is meeting in Portugal this week, and there's a small Japanese fishing town that gives dead whales Buddhist names. Really! Read more.

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Jake Tapper, Mensch

| Wed Jun. 24, 2009 6:25 AM EDT

Kevin's gone for a few days. He says he's in NYC, but I wonder if he's off hiking with South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford. During this brief sabbatical, I will be filling in. Feel free to let me know how you think I'm doing in the comments section. By the way, I should let you know this: I'm allergic to cats. -- David Corn

An event happened yesterday at the White House that warrants notice and a hat tip to Jake Tapper of ABC News.

I know, bloggers are usually supposed to hold MSMers in disdain—especially White House correspondents. But during the presidential press conference, Tapper did what few White House reporters do: when President Barack Obama didn't answer another reporter's question, Tapper held him accountable.

Eco-News Roundup: Wednesday, June 24

Wed Jun. 24, 2009 6:00 AM EDT

Environment, science, and health news tidbits for today:

Michelle's soft sell: While President Obama touts the cost-saving benefits of healthcare reform, the first lady talks wellness, nutrition, and prevention. Why isn't she getting into the political nitty gritty? Watch David Corn debate the issue on Hardball.

Waxman-Markey or bust: Looks like the big vote's back on for Friday. The League of Conservation Voters gave members of the House an ultimatum: Support the American Clean Energy and Security Act, or kiss any 2010 endorsement from us goodbye.

Why whales shouldn't summer in Europe: Since the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling, Japan has done most of the world's whale killing, often with the transparent excuse of "doing research." But this season, Europe might actually out-whale Japan.

Best in Blog: 24 June 2009

| Wed Jun. 24, 2009 5:00 AM EDT

Today's three MoJo picks:

1) Can Michelle Obama Save Health Care Reform?

David Corn: On a day when the politerati focused on President Obama's press conference (Iran, health care, Iran, health care, the economy, smoking, Iran), Chris Matthews, Richard Wolffe, and I went off-topic to discuss whether Michelle Obama can help her husband sell the health care bill now under construction in Congress. Watch the video.

 

2) Barney Frank to F-22: Drop Dead

Rachel Morris: Rep. Barney Frank has authored an amendment that would remove funding for the extra F-22s that the House Armed Services committee slipped into the defense budget authorization bill last week. Here's the story so far.

 

3) Will Europe Out-Whale Japan?

Jen Phillips: The International Whaling Commmission is meeting in Portugal this week, and there's a small Japanese fishing town that gives dead whales Buddhist names. Really! Read more.

Vacation Time

| Wed Jun. 24, 2009 12:01 AM EDT

Remember I said a few weeks ago that I'd be taking a short vacation in New York City in a few weeks?  Well, the future is now, and that means I'm officially on vacation.  David Corn will be guest blogging here during my absence, and other folks from our DC bureau may chime in from time to time as well.  Be nice to 'em.  I'll be back next Tuesday.