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Hot Air: Tracing the Roots of Global Warming Denial

| Thu Apr. 19, 2007 7:11 PM EDT

If you're reading this, chances are you're well-versed in global warming, maybe even "eco-anxious." But to get inside the heads of those still in denial, there's a helpful piece by John Lanchester in the London Review of Books. Since it's an 8,000-word essay, here are some of the most provocative passages:

"It is strange and striking that climate change activists have not committed any acts of terrorism. After all, terrorism is for the individual by far the modern world's most effective form of political action, and climate change is an issue about which people feel just as strongly as about, say, animal rights."

"Unfortunately, the climate debate came along at a time when the Republican Party was wilfully embracing anti-scientific irrationalism. One way of telling this story – adopted by Kim Stanley Robinson in his novel Forty Signs of Rain – begins with the Scientists for Johnson Campaign, run by a group of eminent scientists who were worried about Barry Goldwater's apparent eagerness to wage nuclear war. Their campaign had a considerable impact, and when Richard Nixon got to the White House four years later he was convinced that scientists were a dangerously anti-Republican political lobby. Nixon shut down the Office of Science and Technology, and kicked the presidential science adviser out of the cabinet – an effective and still unreversed removal of science from the policy-making arena in the US."

"I suspect we're reluctant to think about it because we're worried that if we start we will have no choice but to think about nothing else."

He quotes James Lovelock: "I am old enough to notice a marked similarity between attitudes over sixty years ago towards the threat of war and those now towards the threat of global heating. Most of us think that something unpleasant may soon happen, but we are as confused as we were in 1938 over what form it will take and what to do about it. Our response so far is just like that before the Second World War, an attempt to appease. The Kyoto agreement was uncannily like that of Munich, with politicians out to show that they do respond but in reality playing for time."

He very briefly touches on the energy-industry's war on science: "The techniques in play were learned by the tobacco lobby in the course of the fights over smoking and health."

For Mother Jones coverage of global warming denial, read here, here, here, and here.

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Carnage in Iraq? Bush Miffed at Criticism; Gates in Israel.

| Thu Apr. 19, 2007 3:54 PM EDT

Is this a farce?

Yesterday was the deadliest day in Iraq since the security surge began. Despite the military's attempts to barricade the Sadriya market, a car bomb there killed 135 people. The total death toll for the day was 230. Defense Secretary Gates was in Israel, and promised that troops would "persist." Meanwhile, back at the White House, President Bush became "visibly angered" when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told him, in the Washington Post's paraphrase, that he was pursuing a lost cause at the cost of American troops in order to protect his legacy. The truth hurts, doesn't it?

Young Hawks

| Thu Apr. 19, 2007 3:44 PM EDT

If young people are supposedly more idealistic, then idealism has nothing to do with pacifism. People in their twenties, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll, approve of the Iraq War more than their grandparents. And more youth approve of the invasion than disapprove. Janet Elder writes:

Forty-eight percent of Americans 18 to 29 years old said the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, while 45 percent said the United States should have stayed out. That is in sharp contrast to the opinions of those 65 and older, who have lived through many other wars. Twenty eight percent of that age group said the United States did the right thing, while 67 percent said the United States should have stayed out."....
"I think old people tend to want to solve things more diplomatically than younger, more gung ho types," said Mary Jackson, 28, a homemaker from Brewton, Alabama. "Younger people are more combative."
Younger people are also more optimistic. Forty-nine percent of them said the United States was either very likely or somewhat likely to succeed in Iraq, while only 34 percent of older people said the same thing.

For a more realistic young idealist, meet Ava Lowery, the Southern homeschooler whose antiwar videos get 30,000 hits a day.

New Hampshire to OK Civil Unions

| Thu Apr. 19, 2007 2:56 PM EDT

Earlier today, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch said he will sign legislation legalizing civil unions in the state. Lynch explained, ''I believe it is a matter of conscience, fairness and preventing discrimination.'' The measure hasn't yet cleared the Senate, but is expected to do so with ease. Even so—surprise!—state Republicans were outraged. Fergus Cullen, the state Republican Party chairman, told the AP, "The Democrats are going too far, too fast, and Governor Lynch is going along with them. These are not the actions of a moderate governor." The Dems had a pretty handy comeback: ''It's never going too far when you give people their rights," said Democratic state Rep. Bette Lasky.

New Hampshire will make a New England trifecta, joining Connecticut, Vermont and New Jersey among states with legal civil unions. Massachusetts, of course, has legalized gay marriage.

For an economic defense of gay marriage, click here. For an explanation of why the religious right is hellbent on opposing it, click here.

FDA May Legalize Chocolate Fraud

| Thu Apr. 19, 2007 2:23 PM EDT

chocolate.jpg

This is so wrong. The FDA is entertaining a "citizen's petition" to allow chocolate manufacturers to substitute cheap vegetable oil for cocoa butter, and pass it off as chocolate. Citizens petition my ass. It's straight from the Chocolate Manufacturers Assn., the Grocery Manufacturers Assn., the Snack Food Assn. and the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. Straight from K Street.

Gonzales: I Didn't View Job Performance Before Firing US Attorneys

| Thu Apr. 19, 2007 2:13 PM EDT

Wanted to point out an important moment from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' ongoing testimony on the Hill. After telling multiple irate senators that he was not intimately involved in the firing of the eight U.S. Attorneys (he claims he relied on the judgment of his senior staff), Gonzales admits that he was so out of touch that when it came to actually approve the recommendation of those senior staffers to fire the eight USAs, he didn't bother to examine the USAs performance on the job.

The factors he used in lieu of something as inconsequential as "job performance" go unstated.

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Two U.S. Attorneys Fired for Not Prosecuting Cases on... Porn?

| Thu Apr. 19, 2007 10:18 AM EDT

For real. And the cases were "woefully deficient" to boot. Check it out.

Is There a Breach of Nat'l Security Protocol in the Wolfowitz Girlfriend Scandal?

| Thu Apr. 19, 2007 9:57 AM EDT

Sidney Blumenthal has an excellent article in Salon today about the Wolfowitz girlfriend scandal. The outrage this far has focused on these facts:

In 2006 Wolfowitz made a series of calls to his friends that landed [his girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza] a job at a new think tank called Foundation for the Future that is funded by the State Department. She was the sole employee, at least in the beginning. The World Bank continued to pay her salary, which was raised by $60,000 to $193,590 annually, more than the $183,500 paid to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and all of it tax-free. Moreover, Wolfowitz got the State Department to agree that the ratings of her performance would automatically be "outstanding." Wolfowitz insisted on these terms himself and then misled the World Bank board about what he had done.

Okay, old hat, right? Well, not exactly. In order to get the job Riza got at the State Department, she'd need a security clearance. And those aren't given to foreign nationals who formerly worked for international aid organizations. Riza is "a Libyan, raised in Saudi Arabia, educated at Oxford, who now has British citizenship" and according to Blumenthal, "Granting a foreign national who is detailed from an international organization a security clearance, however, is extraordinary, even unprecedented." Did Paul Wolfowitz compromise national security just to get his lover a job?

Blumenthal is calling for an investigation. It would be downright Al Capone-esque if the disgrace that finally rid us of Paul Wolfowitz's nefarious influence came about NOT because of the ill-advised and disastrously-executed war he schemed up, but because he gave away a few too many perks on the way to the bedroom.

Hour 150 of the Stanford Hunger Strike - Now With Video

| Thu Apr. 19, 2007 9:37 AM EDT

Stanford students fasting for a real living wage for workers on their campus have been providing us with regular updates on their progress -- both the progress of their health and the progress of their negotiations with the university administration. You can find all of that here.

As the students try to survive day six without food, we've added video. You can see one such video below, visit their collection on YouTube, or visit the regularly updated page linked to above.

Gonzales to Testify Today on U.S. Attorney Firings

| Thu Apr. 19, 2007 9:07 AM EDT

Alberto Gonzales will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, where he can expect harsh questions from Chuck Schumer and others about the U.S. Attorney firings. Even though Gonzales is expected to be extremely apologetic, he will continue to insist, "I know that I did not, and would not, ask for a resignation of any individual in order to interfere with or influence a particular prosecution for partisan political gain. I also have no basis to believe that anyone involved in this process sought the removal of a U.S. attorney for an improper reason." The quote is from an advance copy of the prepared text of his opening statement.

Frankly, I don't know what administration gains from dragging America through this any longer. Gonzales certainly isn't a superstar worth paying a heavy price to save, and have no doubt about it, the administration pays a heavy price by prolonging the USA scandal and the speculation about whether or not Gonzales will resign. In keeping the scandal alive, they are giving Democrats an open-ended opportunity to dig for more dirt, and they are crippling their own ability to make law enforcement policy. Gonzales has been prepping for this testimony for days, if not weeks -- he certainly isn't getting anything done in respect to his real duties as AG. That's obviously not in America's interest. I'm wondering how it's in the Administration's.

Update: The American Prospect has 14 questions the Senate Judiciary Committee should ask Gonzo. Read them in you need to bring the scandal into focus.