Robert Borosage

New Energy for America

Confronted with the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, rising gas prices and the “inconvenient truth” of global warming, Americans are looking for leadership on energy independence and the threat posed by catastrophic climate change. Even George Bush, Big Oil’s pocketed president, now pays lip service to the need to end our “addiction to oil.” But with his policies making us more, not less, dependent on foreign oil, energy will be at the center of the 2008 campaign. The question is whether the presidential candidates have caught up with the voters. Energy independence now rivals health care as the top domestic concern. In an April Center for American Progress poll, 60 percent of Americans supported bold action on global warming. A staggering 79 percent believe shifting to alternative energy sources will help the economy and create, not cost, jobs.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The $21 question

Do you know how you could eat on just $21 a week? This week, you may have heard about the four members of Congress who have decided to try living on the amount of food they could buy with $21, the average weekly Food Stamp program allotment. One of the members, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and his wife, Lisa, have maintained a blog about their experience. It’s a sobering read—not just the experiences of the normally well-fed politicians who are doing this for a week, but the comments  of ordinary people who have had to do this, and worse, for weeks or months at a time. It makes you wonder how on earth a nation’s leaders can be so casual when spending public money on instruments of war, power and political advantage, and yet be so stingy when it comes to that most basic form of human compassion, making sure your neighbor has enough to eat.

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Bill Scher

Speaking of Bad Compromises…

…Congressional leaders tried to cut a deal with the White House on the Iraq bill, offering President Bush the ability to waive — effectively, ignore — timetables to redeploy combat troops out of Iraq. The White House rejected the deal as not being a big enough cave-in. By moving away from the principles in Congress’ original bill and offering a bad deal, congressional leaders set themselves up for a lose-lose scenario: Have the White House accept, and get a bad deal that won’t end the occupation, as the public wants. Or have the White House reject, and be placed in a weakened political position. Political strength comes from fighting for principles embraced by the public, not from abandoning principles in the name of compromise and nonexistent middle ground.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Moyers’ Postal Protest

Veteran journalist Bill Moyers is using his PBS show, Bill Moyers’ Journal, to raise the public profile of a postal rate change that has been stirring anger in the progressive press for weeks. Earlier this month, the price of a first-class stamp went up two cents, to 41 cents. What most people do not know is that another postal rate increase is proposed to go into effect July 15, this one affecting magazines. Robert W. McChesney, a professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and founder of the progressive media organization Free Press, writes in In These Times that smaller magazines could see their postal costs increase by as much as 25 percent, while those of large, mass-market magazines would see a much smaller increase.

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Bill Scher

False Choices

Blue Climate flags this New York Times article about a study from the economic research arm of management consultant giant McKinsey & Company, backing strong government standards on energy efficiency.

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Bill Scher

$1 Billion For Green Buildings

Speakers at the Apollo Summitin Washington earlier this year emphasized the importance of making our buildings energy efficient, slashing carbon emissions and creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs. The Los Angeles chapter of the Apollo Alliance talked about raising $100 million to retrofit 100 municipal buildings and create 2,000 union jobs. Now, former President Bill Clinton announced his William J. Clinton Foundation has securing $1 billion in financing to retrofit municipal buildings in 15 cities across the globe. Former Vice President Al Gore recently summed up the source of global warming as “cars, coal and buildings.” “Buildings” tend to be talked about the least of the three. Hopefully, this initiative will call more attention to what can be done at the state and local level while inertia reigns in the White House.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Why You’re Needed At ‘Take Back America’

Our blog posts show how too many in power either ignore, misunderstand or underestimate what we the people told Washington in November. That’s why we’re looking to have more than 3,000 progressives rock the nation’s capital June 18-20 at Take Back America 2007. Register now and get involved through our special conference website.

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Bill Scher

Subpoenas For Rove & Co.?

Throughout the short history of “Weekend Watchdog”, I keep asking why doesn’t Senate Judiciary Chair Pat Leahy actually issue subpoenas for Karl Rove and other White House officials to testify about the Prosecutor Purge. The committee has authorized Leahy to issue them, but so far, he’s only used the authorization as a bargaining tool. Today, TPMmuckraker reports that Leahy has just about had it: Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT), following up an angry letter last night to Alberto Gonzales, wrote White House counsel Fred Fielding today to warn that if the White House did not stop stonewalling the committee’s U.S. attorney firings investigation, then “I will have no choice but to issue subpoenas to try to get to the truth in this matter.” Stay tuned.

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Bill Scher

A Billion For Green Buildings

At our Apollo Summit, speakers emphasized the importance of making our buildings energy efficient, slashing carbon emissions and creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs. The Los Angeles chapter of the Apollo Alliance talked about raising $100 million to retrofit 100 municipal buildings and create 2,000 union jobs. Now, former President Bill Clinton announced his William J. Clinton Foundation has securing $1 billion in financing to retrofit municipal buildings in 15 cities across the globe. Former Vice-President Al Gore recently summed up the source of global warming as “cars, coal and buildings.” “Buildings” tends to be talked about the least of the three. Hopefully, this initiative will call more attention to what can be done at the state and local level while inertia reigns in the White House.

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Isaiah J. Poole

American Health Care Flunked Again

There’s more proof today that America’s health care system, far from being what presidential candidate and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson last week called “the absolute best in the world,” lags far behind those of other major countries and fails to pass some basic tests of what a proper health care system should be. Alec Dubro at TomPaine.com reports on a study by The Commonwealth Fund that says “what everyone who cares to look knows”: that there are two health care systems in America—one for those with money and for those without—and that both haves and have-nots suffer as a result of the system’s shortcomings.

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Bill Scher

Days Are Numbered for Ineffective Abstinence Ed

The key to building trust in government is to show deep understanding of the difference between effective and ineffective government — putting our tax dollars into what works, scrapping or revamping programs that don’t work. Thankfully, some ineffective government may soon be kicked to the curb. According to CQ Today, House leaders plan to let expire the $50 million in annual federal funds supporting abstinence-only education. Putting aside philosophical arguments about sex ed, the simple fact is abstinence-only education has been proven a failure at getting teenagers to abstain, by a Bush administration-funded study no less. (The release of study was delayed for years.) Earlier, a report from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chronicled the dangerous misinformation these programs are giving teens.

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Bill Scher

An End To Abstinence Boondoggle?

The key to building trust in government is to show deep understanding of the difference between effective and ineffective government—putting our tax dollars into what works, scrapping or revamping programs that don’t work. Thankfully, some ineffective government may soon be kicked to the curb. According to CQ Today, House leaders plan to let expire the $50 million in annual federal funds supporting abstinence-only education. Putting aside philosophical arguments about sex education, the simple fact is abstinence-only education has been proven a failure at getting teenagers to abstain, by a Bush administration-funded study no less. (The release of study was delayed for years.) Earlier, a report from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chronicled the dangerous misinformation these programs are giving teens.

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Bill Scher

More Momentum for Carbon Caps

As noted here before, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who chairs a key environmental committee, is close to the auto industry and may be an obstacle to strong global warming legislation. But yesterday at the Detroit Economic Club, Dingell said his committee is “working to fashion an economy-wide cap-and-trade policy,” putting him on the same page as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., his Senate counterpart Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and of course, the American people — raising the likelihood that both houses of Congress can pass a cap. As always with environmental issues, the devils in the details. Any carbon cap bill can be weakened with loopholes or structured ineffectively. And it’s not at all clear yet that Dingell will help craft a strong bill in the end.

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Bill Scher

Punditocracy: Hearing What They Want To Hear

The Hotline’s Marc Ambinder wins the coveted “Wanker of the Day” honor from Atrios today, after Ezra Klein called him out for “pat[ting Sen. Barack] Obama on the back for becoming ‘the first top-tier Democratic presidential candidate to acknowledge that Social Security deficits could not, and would not, be solved without pain.'” — when in fact, Social Security’s finances are actually in decent shape. Both Atrios and Klein properly whack Ambinder and his fellow pundits for ignoring the facts about Social Security in the name of touting “independence” and “causing pain for middle class voters.” But Ambinder deserves an extra whack for mischaracterizing Obama’s comments.

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Bill Scher

White House Greenwash

To “greenwash” is to spin something as good for the environment, when it really amounts to direct harm or damaging inaction. Like Monday, when President Bush addressed the nation in the Rose Garden, and called for Congress to pass his “20 in 10” plan, cutting our gas usage 20 percent in 10 years. As David Roberts noted in January after Bush first announced this plan, “the vaunted 20 percent is a reduction in projected gas use, not current gas use. So it’s slower growth, not really a ‘reduction’ at all.” Classic greenwash. More happy rhetoric, masking more inaction, keeping us energy dependent, doing nothing about global warming.

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Bill Scher

Bush Undermines Global Warming Ruling

When the Supreme Court last month told the Bush administration to follow the law and treat greenhouse gases as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, environmental groups noted that the ruling should end the administration’s efforts to prevent states from adopting their own vehicle emissions standards.

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Bill Scher

Greenwash Watch: “20 in 10”

To “greenwash” is to spin something as good for the environment, when it’s really amounts to direct harm or damaging inaction. Like today, when President Bush addressed the nation in the Rose Garden, and called for Congress to pass his “20 in 10” plan, cutting our gas usage 20 percent in 10 years. As David Roberts noted in January after Bush first announced this plan, “the vaunted 20% is a reduction in projected gas use, not current gas use. So it’s slower growth, not really a ‘reduction’ at all.” Classic greenwash. More happy rhetoric, masking more inaction, keeping us energy dependent, doing nothing about global warming.

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Bill Scher

Drug Prices: What The White House Won’t Tell Us

A few months ago, Bush’s Medicare officials claimed private insurers were getting pharmaceutical companies to lower prices, but when Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif, and Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., asked for the proof, the administration wouldn’t cough up the data. So, Waxman’s committee did its own study.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog:Can You Trust Rudy?

Here’s how the Sunday news shows did with our Weekend Watchdog questions. In a word, not well. For former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (Fox News Sunday): One of the first things you did after leaving the mayor’s office was become a PR flack for the makers of Oxycontin, which was under fire for downplaying addiction risks. Your meeting with the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency helped slow the agency’s investigation. You claimed the company, Purdue Pharma, was committed to fighting addiction, but now company officials have pled guilty for misleading the public.

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