Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich lambasted President Barack Obama today for rejecting a rush approval of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Appearing at a town hall in Warrenville, South Carolina, Gingrich departed from his prepared remarks to respond to the Keystone XL decision. It was a “stunningly stupid thing to do,” Gingrich said, to raucous applause. “These people are so out of touch with reality, it’s as if they were governing Mars!”
Gingrich then scornfully accused the president, whom he addressed as “this guy,” of “get[ting] away with things that are destructive to the United States”:
What Obama will have done is kill jobs, weakened American energy security, and driven Canada into the hands of China out of just sheer, utter, stupidity. Now, you know, I think the Congress frankly should just take him head on on this. This is such an inexcusably destructive decision that there ought to be a major effort in Congress to put into a bill requiring his signature. We need to quit letting this guy get away with things that are destructive to the United States.
The arguments Gingrich made in support of the Keystone XL pipeline — which put America’s future at risk for the sake of foreign oil profits — were out of touch with reality.
He falsely claimed the project would create “twenty to fifty thousand construction jobs.” Even TransCanada admits there would be no more than 6,000 temporary construction jobs. Expert analyses have found that increased Canadian tar sands development for foreign export will do nothing to reduce U.S. dependence on Middle East oil. Keystone XL has nothing to do with Canada’s drive to build a pipeline to export tar sands to China. In fact, the conservative Canadian government is pursuing both routes aggressively, trying to steamroll intense domestic opposition to the expansion of risky tar sands development.
Gingrich also denies the utterly destructive threat of global warming pollution that would be the result of burning Canada’s tar sands.
by David Roberts, cross-posted from Grist
In 2007, Newt Gingrich and Terry L. Maple wrote a book called A Contract with the Earth, outlining a ?green conservatism? that takes problems like climate change seriously. Gingrich and Maple have been working on a follow-up, a collection of essays called Environmental Entrepreneurs, that tells the stories of private businesses innovating solutions.
The Los Angeles Times tells the tale: Maple reached out to atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech researcher who also happens to be an evangelical Christian (and wife to an evangelical minister). In an email he told her the book ?
? requires a good opening chapter that lays out the facts on global climate change, but I would like this chapter to be framed with optimism, not gloom and doom. ? All that is needed from you is to provide a sense of what needs to happen. What is the window of opportunity and what does the science tell us about our chances for remediation?
Hayhoe wrote and submitted the chapter in 2009, then was told by Maple last year that it was accepted. The next she heard about it was through this video:
Media Matters chronicled what happened next:
Following the December 8 L.A. Times article identifying Hayhoe as a contributor to Gingrich?s book, Marc Morano, former spokesman for Senator Inhofe, spent the past month attacking her on his blog, Climate Depot. Morano also encouraged his readers to contact Hayhoe directly by repeatedly posting her email address.
Morano got a boost from his former boss Rush Limbaugh on December 19, when Limbaugh told his radio audience that ?Newt?s new book has a chapter written by a babe named Hayhoe,? who ?believes in man-made global warming.?
Needless to say, this attention unleashed the usual torrent of bile toward Hayhoe. (Kate Sheppard has more.)
I called to talk with Hayhoe earlier this month:
Q. There?s a ton of pressure on politicians like Newt Gingrich, but Newt probably knows what?s what in terms of climate change. He wrote a book about it not long ago. He sat on that couch with Nancy Pelosi. And he?s throwing it overboard, out of what can be fairly characterized as political necessity. What do you make of that calculation? What do you expect from politicians?
A. We all have standards we would like people to live up to. Having lived through what I?ve lived through, I?m certainly much more sympathetic to people. I understand a bit more than I used to how being relentlessly and rigorously attacked can make you ask yourself, is this worthwhile?
What I?ve gotten is nothing compared to what Phil Jones or Mike Mann has gotten. [Jones and Mann are climate scientists who've come under extreme attack from conservatives.] What they?ve gotten is nothing compared to what political candidates get. And what I?ve gotten is certainly enough to make me say, look, what I?m doing doesn?t help me in my academic career. It attracts all sorts of unpleasant attention, some of which, frankly, makes me feel unsafe. When you get emails mentioning your kids and guillotines in the same sentence, it makes you want to pull the blanket over your head and keep your mouth shut for about 10 years.
There was a piece in Nature a few days ago exhorting scientists to ?stick their heads up above the parapet? and talk about climate. So I commented on that piece, and I said, it?s fine for you to tell them to stick their heads out, but you have to tell them what they?re going to get. Like Mike Mann said, climate scientists are like Boy Scouts trying to fight the Marines. The level of attack you get if you stick your head out is so great at this point that everybody should have the right to decide if it?s worth the price for them or not.
Q. Have you seen climate scientists who have said, screw it, I?m just going to do my research in my lab?
A. Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, look at how many climate scientists there are, and look at how many you see talking about this issue.
Scientists are traditionally not outreach-minded people. They tend to be more introverted. They?re really good at writing papers; they?re not very good at looking people in the eye and talking in simple language. We need help from people who know how to do this. We need help in terms of learning how to communicate outside our ivory tower and how to respond appropriately to the kinds of attacks we?re going to receive.
Q. I?ve been hearing for years about stirrings of climate concern among the religious, particularly evangelicals. I did a whole package of stories on it. What?s your sense of how climate change is received inside the evangelical community?
A. Environmental issues and climate change carry a lot of baggage in evangelical circles. If you can dissociate the issue from Al Gore, if you can dissociate the issue from the Democratic Party, if you can dissociate it from hugging trees, from pro-choice, from evolution vs. creation, if you can strip away all of those ties and only talk about the issue of taking care of the planet God gave us and loving our neighbor as ourself, then there is hardly anyone who will not accept that message. It?s not about theology, it?s about baggage.
Q. You?ve seen that work? You?ve seen the light come on?
A. Again and again and again, yes, to the point where I feel really encouraged. Over the last five years, I?ve been speaking regularly to all kinds of groups ? seniors homes, grade schools, women?s book clubs, Christian colleges. I?ve noticed a difference. I feel like there is a shift happening in that people now are more open and more accepting. Part of that is, I already know what their questions are.
Q. Do people bring those things up to you? Someone out in the audience says, This is Al Gore?s thing?
A. Depending on the audience, the best thing to do is to tackle it head on yourself. These things are the elephant in the room. You know that?s what everybody?s thinking. So the best thing to do is just go for it right off the bat, get a laugh out of people. Talk about what you have in common and move on from there.
Q. I see how climate change can be dissociated from Al Gore and woolly headed hippies, but how you can dissociate it from the need for active robust government intervention in the economy? Insofar as evangelicals are also fiscal conservatives, do you run into that as a problem?
A. Yes, absolutely. This is a tragedy of the commons ? by definition, individual actions will not solve it. A lot of it is not so much government regulation as economic harm and hardship to me and my family. If somebody proposed government regulations that, without one shred of a doubt, you knew would bring a better quality of life and a healthier local economy, I don?t think you?d have too many people objecting to it. I?m not talking about libertarians here, I?m talking about the average person.
The average person hears ?taxes? and ?regulation? and automatically translates that into: it?s gonna hurt. What they don?t understand is how much it?s already hurting, because of the subsidies to fossil fuels, because of the externalities associated with fossil-fuel use. We are paying for that. The companies are not. So it?s important to talk about opportunities related to climate change. That brings us full circle back to the book. That?s what the book is about: the opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Here at Texas Tech, we have one of the biggest and best wind engineering programs in the country. I teach a class on the science and policy of climate change and we had somebody come in to talk to us about wind energy; what he had to say on what China is doing with wind energy was just incredible. They are blowing us out of the water. And this is in west Texas, where every time you drive two hours south of here there?s 300 new wind turbines being put up. We are no slouches when it comes to wind turbines.
There?s a lot of healthy economic investment and entrepreneurship that could come out of this. That message really needs to get out there, because that is what?s going to diffuse a lot of people?s fear.
Q. When you do a briefing with Republican officeholders, do you ever get past the ideological thing and have reasonable discussions? Or is it denial all the way down?
A. I have never had an unreasonable discussion with anyone who was willing to sit down and talk with me. The only unreasonable discussions I?ve had are with people who are shouting at me after I?ve given a presentation. So I think the way forward is more sitting down and talking.
Q. I don?t think anybody in 2007, when we had a brief surge of climate concern, would have predicted that in 2011 we?d have gone backward. Do you see this changing?
A. I would have never predicted it because it?s completely illogical. Look at the further evidence for climate change that has emerged over the past five years! Logic is not dictating public opinion.
But here in west Texas, which is one of the most conservative places in the world, people know about this issue. They know that driving a bigger car or truck produces a lot more carbon dioxide than driving a smaller car. Even if they don?t think there?s anything to climate change, they know that it?s just inherently wasteful to be doing this. They say, I wish they had a pickup in a hybrid, ?cause I?d buy that.
Just from talking to people, I think there is a slow, subtle, and as yet mostly unnoticed shift in people?s attitudes. You know: ?things are a little different than they used to be when my parents or my grandparents were living here. We have had things happening lately that have been difficult for us to deal with. I don?t know if it?s people causing this global climate change thing, I don?t know if it?s just natural cycles, but it certainly makes sense to reduce our vulnerability, to conserve the energy we have, to invest in our local economy.? These are the things people are saying and thinking these days, and it?s encouraging to hear.
Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk (D)
A longtime Democratic office-holder and former candidate for governor and attorney general in Wisconsin announced Wednesday that she would run against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election.
Kathleen Falk is the first Democrat to officially get in the race, but state Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville has been quietly seeking support and money and said Wednesday he is committed to running. A number of other Democrats are still mulling a run, but as long as Falk and Cullen remain in the race there will have to be a Democratic primary to decide who would face Walker. [...]
Falk?s official campaign launch didn?t come as a surprise, as she?s been one of Walker?s most vocal critics since the recall campaign began two months ago. She was there the day that paperwork was filed to start the petition campaign in mid-November and has widely been viewed as the choice of public sector unions, which have been at the forefront to oust Walker.
Falk also posted a welcome video on her website:
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) has become the third House Republican discovered to have received a sweetheart loan as part of Countrywide's "VIP" program. The program became notorious when conservatives jumped on the revelations that Democrats Chris Dodd and[...]
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Brian Beutler points out that, based on his own statement, quarter-billionaire Mitt Romney pays federal taxes at an effective rate of 15 percent.
As noted here in December, the reason he gets to do this is because his earnings don't come from teaching, or building cars or fighting fires:
The rate derives from something called "carried interest." It's a perfectly legal loophole that ought not to be. It gives partners at private equity firms and hedge funds a tax break from higher rates on income they collect from their part in hammering out corporate buy-outs and other deals. Instead of the top 35 percent the wealthiest Americans pay on income from their salaries and, say, on interest from their money market accounts, the carried interest rate is 15 percent.
Romney co-founded such an equity group in 1984, Bain Capital. Its business? Find struggling companies, break them up and sell the parts. The damage? Thousands of laid-off employees. The human toll, and toll to communities can be large, and the profits to the principals in these enterprises immense. When Romney left Bain in 1999, he got a 10-year deal by which he continued to draw income from previous deals, income taxed at 15 percent.
Such a deal. The kind of deal you could get if you had an army of lobbyists and a vault full of campaign money to contribute.
If you would like to get an idea of how much you might save if you paid at the rate Romney does, check out this feature set up by the Democratic National Committee.
Key issue: Mitt Romney is saying he'll "probably" release his tax returns in April 2012. But the key is he's saying he'll only release his 2011 returns, in other words, the ones his tax preparers are preparing now. And that will help Romney because[...]
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Is your tax rate higher or lower than Mitt Romney's? This chart will tell you. [...]
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When you look at the problems in Europe plus the slowing economy in China, it does look likely that this year will be a struggle. If this happens, will the political class finally wake up and make real adjustments or will it be more window dressing as we saw after the 2008 crisis? Until they feel the pressure from voters, few changes should be expected.
In its half-yearly health check on the global economy the Washington-based institution said the world had "entered a very difficult phase characterised by significant downside risks and fragility". The bank lowered its forecast for global growth in 2012 from 3.4% to 2.5% but said governments should be preparing for a downturn as bad as that which followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. "An escalation of the crisis would spare no one," said Andrew Burns, manager of global macroeconomics at the World bank and the report's author. "Developed and developing country growth rates could fall by as much or more than in 2008-09. The importance of contingency planning cannot be stressed enough. It is clear that whatever probability is attached to this downside scenario, it has increased since June last year. "Developing countries should hope for the best and plan for the worst. If these downside risks materialised there is not much developing countries can do to prevent it. But they can prepare for it." He added that such countries should be drawing up list of public spending priorities and stress testing their banks.
We'll start posting again at midnight (ET).
Meanwhile, please, take a look at the Wikipedia page that explains why so many websites and blogs are having a down day.
These are the House cosponsors of this toxic legislation by Texas fascist Lamar Smith that would end the Internet as we know it:
Mark Amodei (R) NV-2
Joe Baca (Blue Dog) CA-43
John Barrow (Blue Dog) GA-12
Karen Bass (D) CA-33
Howard Berman (D) CA-28
Marsha Blackburn (R) TN-7
Mary Bono Mack (R) CA-45
John Carter (R) TX-31
Steve Chabot (R) OH-1
Judy Chu (D) CA-32
John Conyers (D) MI-14
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog) TN-5
Ted Deutch (D) FL-19
Elton Gallegly (R) CA-24
Bob Goodlatte (R) VA-6
Tim Griffin (R) AR-2
Tim Holden (Blue Dog) PA-17
Peter King (R) NY-3
John Larson (D) CT-1
Ben Ray Lujan (D) NM-3
Tom Marino (R) PA-10
Alan Nunnelee (R) MS-1
William Owens (quasi-Blue Dog) NY-23
Ben Quayle (R) AZ-3
Dennis Ross (R) FL-12
Steve Scalise (R) LA-1
Adam Schiff (Blue Dog) CA-29
Brad Sherman (D) CA-27
Lee Terry (R) NE-2
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) FL-20
Mel Watt (D) NC-12
Matt Cartwright, the progressive Democrat challenging corrupt corporate Blue Dog Tim Holden, one of the cosponsors, had this to say about the proposed legislation:
"In my opinion, SOPA is a bill so riddled with unconstitutional infringements on free speech and unconstitutionally vague criminalization of conduct that it is hard to believe its authors ever even read the one document that they swore to protect and defend."
Rick Santorum continued to rail against Medicare during a stop in South Carolina this afternoon, pledging to reform the program by turning it over to private health insurers and “free markets.” “We have to look at how we’re spending our money,” Santorum explained, before awkwardly comparing the health care program to Mitt Romney’s signature law in Massachusetts. “In the area of Medicare, it is incredibly inefficient. The Medicare system is simply like Romneycare in Massachusetts…It will eventually mean that a lot of seniors aren’t going to get the care that they need.” Watch it: