Bill Scher

Step Away From The Privatization

Yesterday, the House Armed Services Committee unanimously passed reforms, in the wake of the Walter Reed scandal, to improve the ability of wounded soldiers to get needed health care. CQ Today notes that the bill recognizes that the privatization of key functions has contributed to the problems, and includes a “one-year moratorium on hiring private contractors to perform ‘Department of Defense functions’ at medical facilities”. Hopefully that will stop the bleeding, and give time to restore a system with quality service and accountability.

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Bill Scher

Gore’s 10-Point Plan

David Roberts, over at Gristmill, is liveblogging the Gore hearings, and has a colorful summation of Gore’s 10-point plan to stop global warming. No. 1: immediate carbon freeze! Then a program of reductions — 90% reductions by 2050! Wow, that’s ballsy. Second: reduce taxes on employment and production, and make up the difference with pollution taxes, mainly CO2. … It would make us more competitive. Discourage pollution while encouraging work. But carbon pollution is not priced into the marketplace… Third: a portion of the revenues must be earmarked for low-income people who will have a difficult time making this transition.

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Bill Scher

516,000 Signatures To Stop Global Warming

Al Gore’s congressional testimony has just begun, and he announced he’s delivering 516,000 petition signatures calling for immediate action to stop global warming. More than 200,000 of those have come in since Thursday. A forceful beginning to historic testimony.

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Bill Scher

Distorting The Discourse

The preview to tomorrow’s congressional testimony from Al Gore happened yesterday, a House committee hearing spotlighting the Bush Administration’s attempts to prevent our government climate scientists from telling the truth about global warming. As Environment & Energy Daily reports, the hearing found a connection to Vice-President Dick Cheney’s office: At issue is an April 23, 2003, memo between former [Council on Environmental Quality] chief of staff Philip Cooney and Kevin O’Donovan, an aide in Cheney’s office. The document discusses a 2003 study by two industry-affiliated astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, that concluded there was no convincing evidence of global warming.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Edwards’ ‘Aggressive’ Energy Plan

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards today is putting forth what he is calling an “aggressive but achievable” energy plan, elements of which mirror the kind of bold energy initiative that the Apollo Alliance has been urging presidential candidates to adopt. Edwards introduced the broad outlines of his plan on CNN this morning and was scheduled to unveil the details  in an afternoon address at the Biomass Energy Conversion Center in Nevada, Iowa. His proposal combines clean energy production and conservation, with a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Specifically, Edwards proposes: Capping greenhouse gas pollution starting in 2010 with a cap-and-trade system.

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Bill Scher

Gore’s Global Warming Petition Overflows

While the political lowlight of the week looks to be the ongoing fallout of the Prosecutor Purge, the political highlight is sure to come tomorrow with Al Gore’s historic testimony to the House and Senate on climate change. Leading up to the hearing, Gore has been collecting signatures for a petition simply calling for Congress to “take real action now to stop global warming.” Last Thursday, Gore blogged that he had received nearly 300,000 signatures and was pushing for 350,000. But yesterday, Gore announced they broke 400,000 and now he’s hoping for 500,000 before the hearing. You can make it happen. Click here to sign the petition.

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Bill Scher

High Prescription Drug Prices? It’s Your Fault!

Today’s LA Times offers a seemingly well-intentioned article telling seniors ways they can obtain cheaper prescription drugs. But in doing so, it puffs up Big Pharma — making it seem like pharmaceutical companies are already doing all they can for seniors. At the same time, it puts the onus on seniors to do more “research, compromise and [asking of] aggressive questions” to get the medications they need at affordable prices. In particular, the LA Times writes: …millions of patients qualify for programs that could provide them with free drugs — but are unaware of such assistance. Through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers give free or low-cost drugs to the uninsured who make less than $41,300 for a family of four.

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Bill Scher

Coal-State Lawmakers Struggle With Global Warming

Today’s CQ Weekly has a big piece on how coal-state lawmakers are “well-positioned” in Congress to shape global warming legislation. And they risk falling into the trap of thinking strong legislation will be bad for jobs in their districts. The article focuses on western Virginia’s Rep. Rick Boucher, a key subcommittee chairman. It reports that the “National Mining Association and several of the biggest corporate coal producers have organized a $1,000-a-plate breakfast fundraiser for Rep. Rick Boucher this week,” but also notes that Boucher recently said “Understandably, to date I have been a skeptic about the need for a mandatory U.S. program for greenhouse gas control.

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Robert Borosage

Alberto Gonzales: Why Conservatives Can’t Govern

Donald Rumsfeld has been axed. Tom DeLay cut and ran. “Scooter” Libby stands convicted. Michael “you’re doing a heck of a job” Brown was tossed. Newt Gingrich disgraced himself. And now, the clueless attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, is surely the next to go. Why this confederacy of dunces? The conservative National Review cover asks plaintively, “Can’t Anyone Here Play this Game?” Time Magazine puts conservative icon Ronald Reagan on its cover, a tear rolling down his face, reporting on “How the Right Went Wrong.” But it’s not incompetence or corruption-although both abound-that fostered the misrule of this conservative administration. And Reagan would feel not dismayed, but right at home with the follies and crimes. Remember, Reagan’s attorney general, Edwin Meese, was disgraced.

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Bill Scher

Dems Go Lukewarm on Global Warming

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is lowering expectations regarding planned global warming legislation, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog reported Friday. Pelosi, D-Calif., prompted concerns last week when an aide said a climate-change and energy-independence bill might not be ready by Pelosi’s June 1 deadline. Pelosi later explained: “We have two years in this Congress; we do not expect to achieve complete solutions … by June 1.” To push for a “complete” solution would mean enacting a long-overdue, urgently needed cap on greenhouse gas emissions. But that’s sure to be vetoed by President Bush or filibustered by Senate conservatives. So it would appear Pelosi is angling for a baby step with no cap, which won’t do much to reverse global warming but has a shot of being signed into law.

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Bill Scher

Dems Go Lukewarm on Global Warming

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is lowering expectations regarding planned global warming legislation, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog reported Friday. Pelosi, D-Calif., prompted concerns last week when an aide said a climate-change and energy-independence bill might not be ready by Pelosi’s June 1 deadline. Pelosi later explained: “We have two years in this Congress; we do not expect to achieve complete solutions … by June 1.” To push for a “complete” solution would mean enacting a long-overdue, urgently needed cap on greenhouse gas emissions. But that’s sure to be vetoed by President Bush or filibustered by Senate conservatives. So it would appear Pelosi is angling for a baby step with no cap, which won’t do much to reverse global warming but has a shot of being signed into law.

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Bill Scher

Strength of Global Warming Legislation in Doubt

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is lowering expectations regarding planned global warming legislation: Speaker Pelosi prompted concerns this week when an aide said a climate-change and energy-independence bill might not be ready by Pelosi’s June 1 deadline. Pelosi later explained: “We have two years in this Congress; we do not expect to achieve complete solutions … by June 1.” To push for a “complete” solution would mean enacting a long-overdue, urgently needed cap on greenhouse gas emissions. But that’s sure to be vetoed by President Bush or filibustered by Senate conservatives. So it would appear Pelosi is angling for a baby step with not cap, which won’t do much to reverse global warming, but has a shot of being signed into law.

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Bill Scher

Bush Delcares: No Health Care For All On My Watch

In 2003, President Bush signed a law creating a Citizens’ Health Care Working Group to offer health care reform solutions. This week, he dismissed their work. The working group was a bipartisan effort, originating from GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch and Dem Sen. Ron Wyden. The group’s members included Bush’s Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt. The group’s first recommendation was “Establish public policy that all Americans have affordable health care.” It concluded: A clear majority of participants in community meetings, as well as those who responded to a variety of national polls conducted over the past few years, are in favor of a national system that provides universal coverage. However, “universal coverage” means different things to different people.

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Bill Scher

Now The Global Warming Debate Is Really Over

The conservative global warming denial community may still be kicking, but it is getting smaller. Last year, conservative evangelical Pat Robertson dropped out. This week, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith joins him: Global warming. We know the cause. It’s all the cars and power plants spewing dangerous greenhouse gases in the air. The scientists are just as sure as they can be … Those who would doubt global warming need to read up. The Gristmill has the video, including an interview with Joseph Romm on becoming carbon-neutral.

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Bill Scher

Mistakes Were Made … In Defending My Glorious Purge

At today’s Mexico press conference, President Bush further carried Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ messages from yesterday, in blunt fashion: [Gonzales was] right. Mistakes were made. And I’m, frankly, not happy about it, because there is a lot of confusion over what really has been a customary practice by the Presidents. U.S. attorneys and others serve at the pleasure of the President. Past administrations have removed U.S. attorneys; they’re right to do so. The Justice Department recommended a list of U.S. attorneys. I believe the reasons why were entirely appropriate. And yet this issue was mishandled to the point now where you’re asking me questions about it in Mexico… In other words, the mistake wasn’t that prosecutors were purged for partisan reasons.

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Bill Scher

White House Runs Scandal Script

Recognizing that its political purge of eight U.S. attorneys was about to reach critical mass—particularly because of the appearance that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to Congress about it—the White House is now running its script to beat back the media interest. That effort climaxed Wednesday with President Bush’s comments on the firings, which combined a rhetorical slap on Gonzales’ wrist for misleading Congress with a no-big-deal dismissal of the underlying controversy. The bottom line, he said, was that the attorney firings were “entirely appropriate” and that “past administrations have removed U.S. attorneys.

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Bill Scher

Bush Threatens Veto of 9/11 Bill to Stop Unions

Yesterday, the Senate passed a bill implementing many homeland security recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. But President Bush is threatening to veto it because — horrors — it allows Transportation Security Administration workers to join unions, like most of our civil servants. The Washington Post reports: White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said that [the labor provision] would endanger American travelers by eliminating the Transportation Security Administration’s authority to deploy workers to meet changing threats. Hmm. The executive branch can’t fight terrorism without more unchecked power. That argument sounds familiar… …the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act last year [lets the White House] appoint interim federal prosecutors indefinitely, without Senate confirmation.

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Bill Scher

White House Runs Scandal Script

Recognizing that its political purge of eight U.S. Attorneys was about to reach critical mass — particularly because of the appearance that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to Congress about it — the White House is now running its script to beat back the media interest. Yesterday, it selectively leaked info to the New York Times and Washington Post, both which ran articles this morning. The articles shed some light on the White House involvement in the purge, and the attempt to circumvent the Senate’s traditional confirmation process. Nevertheless the creative leaks, by design, set-up Gonzales for his press conference today. At the conference, Gonzales’ main messages were: 1. I Didn’t Do It: Kyle Sampson, who was my chief of staff until yesterday, didn’t tell me he tried to install new attorneys without Senate confirmation.

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Bill Scher

NYT Attempted Hit on Gore Fails

The “liberal” New York Times (with the help of the Drudge Report) carried conservative water today, paradoxically attacking Al Gore for global warming “hype.” In fact, it’s NYT reporter William Broad that’s trafficking in hype.

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Bill Scher

Kiley Ousted From Walter Reed

Amry Surgeon General Kevin Kiley, the guy recently bumped up to head Walter Reed even though he was directly implicated in the scandal, was belatedly forced to resign today. On one hand, good. On the other, doesn’t do much lasting good if the names change and the policies stay the same. Little has been said about the conservative policies of underfunding and privatization that contributed to the shocking poor conditions at Walter Reed. That’s where our attention should turn. UPDATE: Think Progress reports that Kiley’s replacement “seems to be cut from the same cloth”.

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