Thursday, April 1, 2010

Getting Warm

Climate change denial, brought to you by Koch Maddow - March 31: Jim Hoggan, Co-Founder of the DeSmog Blog, discusses how the oil and gas industry's massive efforts to direct the climate change debate have "poisoned" public discussion of the issue.

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John Cole: Sadly, Al Gore is Still Fat, So I’m Not Sure Anyone Will Care

I’m sure the media and right wing blogs will give this the same amount of attention they gave the climate change denialists will ignore this completely:

The UK scientist at the center of the “Climategate” controversy over leaked e-mails has been cleared of hiding or manipulating data by a parliamentary committee.

But lawmakers who had been investigating the row over global warming science said in a report published Wednesday that climate scientists must publish all their raw data and methods to ensure the research is “irreproachable.”


The Commons report said the leaked emails suggested a “blunt refusal” by Jones to share scientific data but its chairman Phil Willis said there was no evidence that Jones hid or manipulated data to back up his own science.

If the NY Times behavior in the ACORN case is any example, I’m pretty sure they will get around to clarifying their part in the climate change denialist binge around the time Manhattan is submerged by ten feet of sea water. And, in fairness, if they continue to employ Douthat, Brooks, and Friedman, I’m ok with that outcome.

GOP not taking yes for an answer Maddow -March 31: President Obama adopted yet another Republican idea on Wednesday, clearing the way for more offshore drilling, raising the question of whether his policy concessions will produce any Republican votes for his energy bill. Chris Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation, weighs in on President Obama's decision to open the door on offshore drilling.

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We talked earlier about the Obama administration's apparent intention to allow new oil and natural gas drilling along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the north coast of Alaska. Given that this move could be used as a bargaining chip with Republicans during negotiations on energy policy, I questioned what the White House would get in exchange for the president's concession. If the president has already effectively given Republicans what they wanted on energy, what will he get in return?

A Hill staffer I know emails with an alternative look at the same dynamic, suggesting President Obama is playing a game we've seen before. I'm republishing the staffer's email with permission.

Obama preempts the other side's most resonant arguments, which forces them to come up with more and more extreme claims in order to differentiate themselves. In the end, he occupies the reasonable middle ground and his opponents are Palinized. It doesn't always work -- on the national security/gitmo/Miranda stuff, for example, it turns out the utter extreme positions the right is left with given the centrist ground Obama has staked out turns out to be fairly popular. But even there, the Administration has had reasonable success pushing back on the Miranda nonsense and, because they effectively occupy the tough, pragmatic middle ground, they routinely get cover from non-crazy Republican national security voices, which has helped blunt the force of these issues. (I understand that the term "middle ground" is very slippery and dangerous here, but I basically use it to mean policies that, before the great crazy of 2009 had broad consensus support from large portions of both parties and the Broder/Friedman/Brooks axis.)

At the same time, the policy is a tailored, measured version of what the Republicans have urged -- so, yes, the headline is, 'Obama Allows New Offshore Drilling/Presses For Energy Independence,' but at the same time, California/Oregon/Washington where opposition is strongest isn't included, and there are environmentally-friendly changes to Alaska leasing policy announced at the same time. And again, as we've seen before, Republicans are sort of forced to twist and parse, and even to oppose things they have long supported, just because the Administration hasn't gone far enough.

Finally, by announcing the drilling policy without seeking to extract concessions, the Administration makes clear that it is their policy and they are the centrist/flexible/pragmatic ones -- making it harder for Republicans to argue that they accomplished this or that they forced Obama to do it. [...]

[O]f course, if there was any reason to believe that Republicans would engage in normal negotiation/compromise, then I see why holding this back and trading it for support of a broader package would make sense. But does anyone really think there are Republicans to negotiate with on this stuff? And if Republicans do come to the table, Obama still has plenty of room to give, including by simply agreeing to sign a law that makes proposals like this a matter of statute, not executive discretion.

That's an interesting take. Something to keep in mind.

And by the way, right on cue, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) denounced the administration's drilling plan, despite its similarity to GOP demands, with Boehner expressing his outrage that the president didn't go further. What a shock.

Booman: Humoring Armando
I guess Armando is desperate for attention. He doesn't have an opinion on the president's announcement today on Energy Security, but he's pretty sure that the "progressive position" on off-shore drilling is to oppose it. I, and certainly Steven, am willing to grant that. I'd also agree that the "progressive position" is to oppose clean-coal technology as a farce and nuclear energy because of the problem with waste. Increasing production of coal, nuclear, and offshore oil is not part of the progressive vision for America. And it's not part of Obama's agenda, either.

The president wants to pass a bill that addresses climate change. The House Cap & Trade bill is dead-on-arrival in the Senate. The Kerry/Boxer bill (pdf) forms the template for passing something in the upper chamber. The question before us is not whether or not we should be for offshore drilling. It is whether we are willing to make a compromise on offshore drilling to get most of the positive elements of the House and Senate bills enacted into law.

I can say that I am open to the idea without endorsing such a tradeoff. Without seeing the deal on the table, I can't say whether I agree with it. What I do know is that no climate change bill worth shit is going to pass thru this Congress without making some major concessions to the energy industries and the states and politicians who protect those industries. Obama's announcment begins to give a clear picture of what those concessions will be. But his announcement isn't triangulation. His agenda is passing the climate change elements of the bill, not the carbon producing elements. This isn't school uniforms, and Armando knows it.

Think Progress: Bush Official Dan Bartlett Admits Authorizing Offshore Oil Drilling Will Be Unlikely To Win Over Any GOP Votes

The Obama administration announced today that it will be approving “significant oil and gas exploration off America’s coasts.” One possible reason for the administration’s policy shift may be that it is seeking Republican votes for comprehensive energy reform. In the summer of 2008, then-candidate Obama explained that he saw allowing offshore oil drilling as a compromise necessary to “get something done“:

“The Republicans and the oil companies have been really beating the drums on drilling,” Obama said in the Post interview. “And so we don’t want gridlock. We want to get something done.” The freshman Illinois senator and presidential nominee-to-be added: “If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.”

During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, former Bush official Dan Bartlett said that the move is unlikely to get any Republican votes for an energy bill. While saying that he thinks it is a “shrewd move” that will “demonstrate…that the Democratic Party doesn’t just cater to the extreme aspects of their base,” Bartlett conceded that it will likely not win any Republican votes because “Republicans have made a calculation that cooperating with this administration at this time is not necessary for them to pick up seats“:

BARTLETT: This is a shrewd move by the White House this announcment they’re doing on energy and offshore oil drilling. … These are the things they need to demonstrate to their constituents that the Democratic Party does not just cater to the extreme aspects of their base … Now, do I think that this measure here will help grease the path for a climate change bill and bring Republicans on board? No. Republicans in the Congress have made a calculation that cooperating with this administration at this time is not necessary for them to pick up seats. So if this is more of a legislative maneuever in order to get a broader bill on climate change, unfortunately this is going to come up short.

Watch it:

Indeed, Republicans have thus far indicated that they are unwilling to compromise in exchange for the administration’s lifting of offshore oil drilling bans. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) immediately “dismissed the president’s plan as not going far enough in opening up U.S. waters for exploration,” even going so far as to accuse Obama of defying “the will of the American people” because he didn’t open up even more territory for offshore drilling. Meanwhile, Chairman of the House Republican Conference and the American Energy Solutions Group Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) derided the plan as a “smokescreen” and a “feeble attempt to gain votes” for comprehensive energy legislation.

Update Matt Yglesias writes, "I don’t understand this at all. Increased coastal drilling would be a small price to pay in exchange for actual congressional votes for an overall energy package that shifts us to a low-carbon economy over time. But any price is too high a price to pay in exchange for nothing at all. This isn’t the greatest environmental crime in human history, but it sure does seem like poor legislative strategy."
Update Sarah Palin responds with a pair of tweets. In the first, she writes, "Drill, baby, drill." In the second, she praises Boehner's response and admonishes Obama for trying to win over conservative votes for an energy overhaul:
Update Newt Gingrich told the St. Petersburg Times that while he likes the idea of drilling, he thinks Obama is doing it too late. "If he's going to announce he's for drilling, he should announce that we're drilling now. I don't think the people want a party of manana," Gingrich said.

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