Isaiah J. Poole

Debate, But Not Obstruction

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has lately been taking a tough line on ending the Iraq war. That comes in the face of weeks of stubborn Republican opposition to any attempt to bring the troops home or to even curb President Bush’s imperial use of power to keep the war going. Reid should know that if he stands up to that Republican minority, he’s got public support—not just in a new USA Today-Gallup poll that shows that seven out of 10 voters want U.S. troops out of Iraq by April 2008, but in the thousands who have already signed the Campaign for America’s Future petition encouraging Reid to force a filibuster if he has to rather than back down on the basic demands the American public elected Democrats to meet. That petition, though, needs more signatures as the Senate begins debate today on a 2008 defense authorization bill (H.R.

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Bill Scher

Dingell Playing Troublemaker?

As I’ve reported twice before, Rep. John Dingell, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and longtime ally of automakers, has been sending mixed messages about his intentions on global warming. It’s been unclear if that’s because his views were evolving in a positive direction, or he’s trying to keep enviromental critics off-balance. His latest gambit indicates the latter.

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Bill Scher

Presidential Pack Pushes Clean Energy Economy

As MoveOn.org’s Eli Pariser predicted Friday, Saturday’s Virtual Town Hall Meeting on the Climate Crisis was highlighted by the leading presidential candidates embracing a “cap-and-auction” approach to slash global warming pollution. And pretty much across the board, candidates linked the need to regulate pollution with the need to invest in a clean energy economy (as urged here last week) which some explicitly calling for an “Apollo” program.

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Roger Hickey

‘SiCKO’ Builds A Movement

Americans want big changes in our heath care system. And now Michael Moore's great new film, “SiCKO,” is helping to turn a desire for change into a crusade for change. Now breaking box office records in its second week in theaters, “SiCKO” conveys powerfully emotional stories of Americans trapped in a system controlled by insurance and drug companies that deny care and destroy lives in order to maintain their profits. We walk into the movie house as individuals with our particular gripes about the health care system. And we walk out wanting to be part of a national movement for health care for all. For example, read this great account of how spontaneous organizing literally occurred in the theater lobby—at a Dallas, Texas suburban cineplex.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up

For the third week in a row, the Sunday shows go 0-for-3 for the Watchdog. None of the shows raised the possibility that the commutation of Scooter Libby’s jail sentence is an act of obstruction of justice, even though the Founders did not believe the pardon power gives the President the right to “stop inquiry and prevent detection” of crimes associated with himself. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos said, “the constitution basically says the president can do whatever he wants,” and Fox News Sunday guest host Brit Hume said Bush was “exercising authority that no one seems to dispute that he fully has”. CBS’ Face The Nation guest host Jim Axelrod at least asked Sen. Orrin Hatch, “Are you disputing that this was special treatment given to a top administration official?” Also, NBC’s Meet The Press failed to ask Sen.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog

Every Friday in our Weekend Watchdog feature, we post suggested questions for scheduled Sunday guests. You can add your own questions in the comment thread. We’ll also include contact information for the shows, so we can let them know what their viewers want asked. And on Sunday at 4 PM ET, tune in to Air America Radio’s “Seder on Sundays” program, where I’ll offer the Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up. 1. Several politicians are booked to discuss the virtual pardon of Scooter Libby: Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah on CBS’ Face The Nation; Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. on ABC’s This Week and Reps. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Chris Cannon, R-Utah on Fox News Sunday.

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Bill Scher

Apollo, MoveOn & Boxer Lay Out Climate Solutions

Earlier today, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Apollo Alliance President Jerome Ringo and MoveOn.org’s Eli Pariser addressed the media, offered their support for tomorrow’s global event Live Earth, and turned the spotlight towards solutions to the climate crisis. Ringo emphasized the points he made in his TomPaine.com essay, “For A Live Earth, U.S. Must Lead”: The federal government must again lead the charge by making the investments that will create the tools for change. In every case, that upfront investment has led to increased prosperity. While we may have to sacrifice now, we will benefit many times over in the future… …The work of saving the environment will be the work of business and the people who work for business, and that is an opportunity, not a danger.

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Bill Scher

The Role for Biofuels

One of the many contentious issues in crafting clean energy policies is the role of biofuels — particularly ethanol, which now primarily comes from corn. They help reduce the need for fossil fuels and foreign oil, but the process to create the fuel potentially contributes to global warming, damage to the land and increased food costs. But as Al Gore noted in an appearance promoting Live Earth yesterday on CNN’s Larry King Live, if executed carefully as part of a comprehensive energy strategy, they can be beneficial.

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Bill Scher

Framing The Climate Crisis Solution

Saturday’s Live Earth global event will hopefully take the global warming issue beyond raising awareness and towards rallying support around a comprehensive solution. As Eric Alterman and I said in our recent bloggingheads.tv segment, the film “An Inconvenient Truth” has already accomplished the goal of solidifying consensus that there’s a human-created climate crisis. Global warming deniers have been effectively marginalized. The remaining challenge is the solution. Two recent essays point us in the right direction. One is by Al Gore, the driving force behind Live Earth, from Sunday’s New York Times. The other is from Peter Teague and Jeff Navin in The American Prospect. The two pieces may seem at first blush to be at odds, but in fact they both offer critical counsel and complement each other well.

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Bill Scher

SiCKO Sparks Local Health Care Activism

Michael Moore’s SiCKO is not only impacting the box office — earning the 2nd-highest opening in history for a documentary — it’s also sparking health care activism at the local level. Moore generated much attention last month when joined the California Nurses Assocation and called for a single-payer system for the Golden State. But the filmmaker himself doesn’t need to drop in to every town for citizens to step up the fight for affordable, quality, universal health care.

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Isaiah J. Poole

“Sicko” Vs. A Sick Show

“Sicko” is required viewing, not because it’s a contender for the Oscar for Best Picture—though given this year’s paltry offerings, anything is possible—but because it is far better than the play now being staged by the White House. Two days before Michael Moore’s documentary on the health care crisis went into wide release Friday, President Bush huddled in the White House with a group of people he later described as “distinguished health care experts.” He called it “a really interesting and good discussion,” but it’s not hard to imagine, once you realize who was in the room, the monotone that passed for robust health care debate in the Oval Office that day.

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Bill Scher

Bloggingheads on the Obstructionists

I had the pleasure of doing a BloggingHeads.tv segment with Eric Alterman, where we had a lively discussion about how to handle the obstructionist conservative minority, how SiCKO will impact the health care debate, and more. To watch our entire diavlog, click here. And click here to sign our petition calling on Sen. Harry Reid to stand up to the obstructionists.

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Bill Scher

Bloggers Put The Heat On The Obstructionists

Over the weekend, bloggers responded to Robert Borosage’s call to “Expose The Obstructionists” and sign our petition, urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to force conservatives to filibuster popular legislation in broad daylight. Digby deemed the petition smart strategy: This is important for setting the terms of the debate as well as actually getting some of these initiatives off the ground. The congress is suffering in the polls because the Republicans are blocking any progress on issues that people care about. Now is the time to begin educating people about who is really responsible for this and it’s going to take some drama.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up

For the second week in a row, the Sunday shows go 0-for-3 for the Watchdog. ABC’s This Week allowed Sen. Joe Lieberman to go on-and-on about bipartisanship, yet failed to ask him what he would do to stop the litany of conservative obstruction. On CBS’ Face The Nation, Sen. Richard Lugar said “American forces” should “stay relatively indefinitely in Iraq,” yet the host failed to ask him if his disgreement with the House is merely over the size of the occupation, not about the occupation itself. On NBC’s Meet The Press, Sen. Pat Leahy was asked if he would take White House Counsel Fred Fielding’s “offer” of private interviews with Bush’s aides without a public transcript, or opportunities for follow-up. But Fielding’s recent dishonesty about Bush’s involvement in the prosecutor purge was not mentioned.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog

Every Friday in our Weekend Watchdog feature, we post suggested questions for scheduled Sunday guests. You can add your own questions in the comment thread. We’ll also include contact information for the shows, so we can let them know what their viewers want asked. And on Sunday at 4 PM ET, tune in to Air America Radio’s “Seder on Sundays” program, where I’ll offer the Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up. For Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn. (ABC’s This Week): Unlike Senate conservatives in your party, you have not voted to obstruct key reforms for items such as renewable energy, lower drug prices and easier unionization. Are you concerned that your party’s political fortunes will suffer if your colleagues continue blocking popular legislation? (UPDATE: Looks like ABC had a schedule change and Specter will not be on.

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Bill Scher

Outlook Good for “Green-Collar” Job Training

In my update on energy legislation in the House, I neglected to mention that included in the energy package is funding for training in high-skill, clean energy jobs. That’s a similar initiative to what already cleared the Senate, making it very likely to be part of the final legislation.

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Robert Borosage

Expose The Obstructionists

Americans elected a new Congress to get things done. But the conservative minority has chosen a strategy of obstruction in the Senate. They have used the threat of a filibuster to delay or block virtually every major initiative. Bills with majority support—raising the minimum wage, ethics reform, a date to remove troops from Iraq, revoking oil subsidies and putting the money into renewable energy, fulfilling the 9/11 commission recommendations on homeland security—get blocked because they can’t garner 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

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Bill Scher

House Energy Moves

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several House committee chairman held a press conference earlier today to announce their initial energy independence package. Depending on how things play out, it could make the Senate energy bill stronger, or it could make it weaker.

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Bill Scher

How We Can Retire Ann Coulter

How to deal with a noxious but prominent commentator like Ann Coulter? Confront her bigoted remarks and outright falsehoods? Or ignore her in hopes of dimming her spotlight? It would seem to be a lose-lose proposition. Getting a rise out of her political opponents is her job, so challenging her on the merits only helps her sell books, which keeps her on TV. But unless you buy out Rupert Murdoch and control your own media empire, dimming her spotlight is seemingly impossible, no matter how tightly you shut your eyes and close your ears.

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Bill Scher

Failure of Compromise: (2nd) Immigration Edition

When the mess of an immigration compromise collapsed earlier this month in the Senate, I wrote: One can only hope Congress’ leaders finally absorb the lesson. The conservative minority will aim to obstruct legislation no matter how hard you try to accommodate them — short of full-blown capitulation (see Supplemental, Iraq). Instead of more mushy compromises that impress no one (but the punditocracy) and go nowhere, it’s time for bold, principled proposals that have the potential to spark strong public support, and face down the failed conservative minority. Otherwise, by futilely trying to make nice with obstructionist conservatives, their failure will become yours too. They didn’t listen, instead trying to accommodate the conservative minority even more.

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