If you—like Reps Joe Barton (R-TX) and John Boehner (R-OH)—are having problems locating a full text version of the Waxman-Markey climate bill, HR 2454, complete with amendments, we've linked to them here.

While the GOP made a fetish out of secrecy when they were in charge, there is still a lot of work to be done to increase goverment transparency. Part of that effort is to allow everyone to have access to pending legislation in a timely manner, including but not limited to the honorable gentlemen from Texas and Ohio.

Transparency is a good idea; it ought to be the law. And, guess what? There's an organization trying to make that a reality. Read the Bill supports House Resolution 554, which would require that all legislation be available online for public review for a minimum of three days before it could be voted on.

Check them out. Happy reading.

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Osha Gray Davidson is a contributing blogger for Mother Jones.

 

The Waxman-Markey climate bill narrowly passed the House today. The vote was  219 to 212.

As we've noted, the bill's cap and trade approach is promising in many respects but might create a dangerous market in carbon derivatives (or not). Even before it was watered down and porked-up with gifts to biofuels industry, it never achieved the kind of emissions cuts that scientists and European governments say are needed to avert catastrophic climate change. Recent polls had shown that most people believe in the need to regulate emissions, yet the Obama administration framed the issue as a jobs bill, apparently believing the environmental message wouldn't stand up to attack. Environmental groups were deeply divided over the bill, and Greenpeace ultimately opposed it.

It now heads to the Senate, where it is likely to find more support from moderate Republicans than in the polarized House. Even so, I've been told by some environmental campaigners that the Senate isn't any more likely to strengthen the bill.

It's not a question one tosses off idly. There's no comparison between the U.S. and places like Afghanistan and Iraq, which have lost, as Max Weber put it, "the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force." Yet when it comes to America's ability to protect itself from the vicissitudes of a changing climate, many people are wondering if some kind of third-world putdown might be accurate.

"Why do we allow the U.S. to act like a failed state on climate change?" asks George Monbiot in the Guardian, lamenting the failure of the Waxman-Markey climate bill, which passed in the House today, to achieve anywhere close to the emissions cuts that scientists and European countries say are needed to avert catastrophe. "A combination of corporate money and an unregulated corporate media keeps America in the dark ages."

Over at the Thin Green Line blog, Cameron Scott expands on the idea, construing Weber a bit more broadly. "A failed state is one in which the government can no longer control destructive social forces," he writes. "The forces in question here are the powers of lobbyists to write mistruths into law." One of those mistruths being that we need not feel a sense or urgency about climate change.

Personally, I prefer the definition of a failed state offered by the experts at the Crisis States Research Center, who say, "A failed state is one that can no longer reproduce the conditions for its own existence."  A climate that can sustain us is certainly one of those conditions. Even if the U.S. survives the loss of its coastal cities and the Sierra snowpack that feeds California, it probably won't endure the ensuing global resource wars, at least not in its current form.

You can quibble over whether the U.S. is a failed state or a failing state--it really depends on when you think the world has passed the global tipping point and how much we're to blame. Perhaps we're more accurately described as a rogue state. Like Iran, but more advanced. Instead of forcibly preventing the media from covering inconvenient truths, all our ruling elite needs is the death of a pop star. Voila! The debate on climate change disappears, replaced with obeisances to the God of Pop.

Kevin is off for a few days--and not in Argentina. He'll be back and ready to blog on Tuesday. In the meantime, I will be your pilot.

Under usual circumstances, the withdrawal of US troops from a theater of war would be considered a big deal.

Not these days.

The United States has begun to pull troops out of Iraq, and there's not much attention being paid--even with the explosion of violence in Iraq this week. (Insert gratuitous Michael Jackson reference here.) And there are other milestones to look ahead to within Iraq. Reuters notes:

Many observers see Iraq's most crucial milestone being the parliamentary election next January, rather than the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from town and cities by the end of this month.

That vote will be a defining test of whether the country's feuding factions can live together after the years of sectarian bloodshed unleashed by the 2003 U.S. invasion.

"Security gains in a narrow sense will be of limited value unless the ... election is turned into a thoroughly inclusive affair where Iraqis get the opportunity to discuss fundamental issues of national reconciliation in an open atmosphere," said Reidar Visser of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and editor of Iraq-focused website www.historiae.org

This is something else to look forward to being insufficiently covered within the American media.

Just like the Afghanistan presidential election campaign now in process. From Politico:

Without strong preemptive action by the Obama administration and the international community, Afghanistan’s impending elections could be just as suspect — and have just as dire consequences — as Iran’s, a top opponent to Afghan President Hamid Karzai claimed on Tuesday.

“The possibility of a Kenya or a Zimbabwe or an Iran looms large,” said Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former World Bank official and Karzai adviser now challenging him for president in the Aug. 20 election.

Well, what would you expect a Karzai challenger to say? But what if he's right? A bad election in Afghanistan would truly undermine the US operation there. The International Crisis Group, a savvy NGO, has put out a report outlining the election challenges in Afghanistan. The group's South Asia project director, Samina Ahmed, notes: 

Ultimately, it is the perception of the Afghan population that will measure electoral success. If they are to be encouraged to vote, they must be confident that their ballots will count. But if perceived to be unfairly conducted, elections could provide a potential flashpoint.

Isn't Afghanistan already a flashpoint? Ugh.

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

 

To pay tribute to Michael Jackson, this week's frog blog is a photo essay dedicated to frogs with unusual skin tones:
 

7657118_28d73d5699 22556558_dc172140af    401141532_0eeb9c7f7a 1077493861_ea529a66b2 1376843326_76f9f58356

All photos are from Flickr and used under a Creative Commons License. In order, the photos come from the following Flickr users: Paul Robinson,  headexplodie,  sara j s, K<3money, and calico 13.

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.

 

 

 

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.

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

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!

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.

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.