Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Johnny Got His Gun

From the speech:

In this time of testing, our troops can know: The American people are behind you. Next week, our nation has an opportunity to make sure that support is felt by every soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guardsman, and Marine at every outpost across the world. This Fourth of July, I ask you to find a way to thank the men and women defending our freedom -- by flying the flag, sending a letter to our troops in the field, or helping the military family down the street. The Department of Defense has set up a website -- You can go there to learn about private efforts in your own community. At this time when we celebrate our freedom, let us stand with the men and women who defend us all.

Flag flying? Check.
Yellow ribbon magnet on the SUV? Check
Providing troops with the body protection they need? Um….maybe not.

Armor issued despite warnings

The Marine Corps issued to nearly 10,000 troops body armor that military ballistic experts had urged the Marines to reject after tests revealed life-threatening flaws in the vests, an eight-month investigation by Marine Corps Times has found.

Take care of the veterans once they come home? Uh-oh.

Bush Budget Raises Prescription Prices For Many Veterans

Pres Bush's budget would more than double co-payment charged to many veterans for prescription drugs, and would require some to pay new fee of $250 a year to use government health care; administration officials say those proposals are in $2.5 trillion budget Bush will unveil on Feb 7 in effort to cut deficit; fierce debate is expected on Capitol Hill, where Democrats have already pledged to oppose any Bush administration effort to stint on veterans' benefits; government has no immediate estimate of how many veterans would be affected if user fee and co-payment proposals are adopted; veterans' groups, which quickly attacked proposals, claim hundreds of thousands of people would end up paying more, and that many would be affected by both changes; overall, Bush is seeking 2.7 percent increase in Dept of Veterans Affairs discretionary spending, which is subject to annual appropriation by Congress, to $33.4 billion; remainder of $70.8 billion for agency is for entitlements which are authorized under prior laws

But you just keep flying that flag. No sacrifice is too great.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Don't let the revolving door hit you on the way out.


Former Bush Aide Who Edited Reports Is Hired by Exxon

Philip A. Cooney, the former White House staff member who repeatedly revised government scientific reports on global warming, will go to work for Exxon Mobil this fall, the oil company said yesterday.

Mr. Cooney resigned as chief of staff for President Bush's environmental policy council on Friday, two days after documents obtained by The New York Times revealed that he had edited the reports in ways that cast doubt on the link between the emission of greenhouse gases and rising temperatures.

A former lawyer and lobbyist with the American Petroleum Institute, the main lobbying group for the oil industry, Mr. Cooney has no scientific training. The White House, which said on Friday that there was no connection between last week's disclosure and Mr. Cooney's resignation, repeated yesterday that his actions were part of the normal review process for documents on environmental issues involving many government agencies.

"Phil Cooney did a great job," said Dana Perino, a deputy spokeswoman for the White House, "and we appreciate his public service and the work that he did, and we wish him well in the private sector."

An Exxon spokesman, Tom Cirigliano, declined to describe Mr. Cooney's new job.

However, his office is ready:

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

Howard Dean speaks truth to power, and power isn’t thrilled.

Howard Dean said Saturday that positive responses from supporters have reinforced his determination to keep talking tough despite suggestions from some congressional Democrats that the party chairman should tone down his rhetoric.
"People want us to fight," Dean told the national party's executive committee. "We are here to fight."

Over the past week, Dean described Republicans as "pretty much a white, Christian party" and said many in the GOP "never made an honest living."

Several Democratic lawmakers distanced themselves from their chairman. Republican officials called on him to apologize. After weathering the criticism, Dean forged ahead with the GOP scolding at the meeting of Democratic National Committee leaders.

“Privately, people have said they don't want Howard Dean to become the story because we have more important issues to talk about," said Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2004.

(This is the same Donna Brazile who was handed the ball on the two-yard line in Gore’s campaign and couldn’t get it into the endzone.)

Let’s look at who’s criticizing Dean. There’s Biden, Edwards, Pelosi, Richardson – the usual inside-the-beltway (or aspiring-to-be-inside-the-beltway) crowd. Apparently, Howard isn’t visiting their sandbox enough:
Many prominent Democrats in Washington had publicly opposed his selection as DNC chairman in February. Lawmakers have complained that he does not consult them enough, and major donors have asserted that he does not schmooze them as his predecessor, Terence R. McAuliffe, did.

This is the same group of Democrats who have rolled over and played dead while Bush has pushed through his agenda in Congress. Their strategy has worked so well. They still don’t get it – playing nice with these thugs gets you nowhere. That filibuster compromise? Just wait and see how the Republicans spin THAT when it’s time to vote on a new Supreme Court Chief Justice.

But there are, thankfully, some people who DO get it.

Democratic National Committee leaders embraced feisty party boss Howard Dean on Saturday and urged him to keep fighting despite a flap over his blunt comments on Republicans.

After a meeting of the DNC's 40-member executive committee at a downtown hotel, members said Dean was doing exactly what they elected him to do -- build the party in all states and aggressively challenge Republicans.

"I hope Governor Dean will remember that he didn't get elected to be a wimp," said DNC member Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a South Carolina state representative. "We have been waiting a long time for someone to stand up for Democrats."

"Howard Dean is going to be much more aggressive, much more outspoken and much more of a risk-taker outside the Beltway than any chairman has been. We knew that," said Alvaro Cifuentes, chairman of the DNC Hispanic caucus.

"We have to get our politics out of Washington. We cannot continue to be held captive by party leaders who I respect but who have to play their own local politics," Cifuentes said, calling congressional Democrats "timid" and the flap over his comments "mostly a Beltway play."

Karen Marchioro, a DNC member from Washington state, said she was stunned to see so many congressional Democrats back away from Dean.

"We always defend them, why won't they defend us? And they want us to support them for president?" she asked. "I have no desire to lose, I just think this is the way you win -- you let people know where you stand and you fight."

Cobb-Hunter said Dean "should consider the source -- congressional Democrats. What's their track record? He's doing what a lot of us wanted him to do and expected him to do."

Several DNC members said Dean had done what he promised -- shift the party's focus to local races rather than concentrate solely on the White House, and pump money into "red" states dominated in recent years by Republicans.

Western Democrats said they were thrilled Dean attended a regional meeting in Helena, Montana, last weekend. "How many Democratic chairmen have gone out to Montana?" asked Steven Alari of California.

"When we elected Dean we knew we were getting a leader who would be good at organizing the base and getting the message out to the American people, and that's what he's doing," Alari said. "He's our guy."

Howard Dean gets it. The DNC gets it. The state chairmen get it. And because, finally, someone is standing up for Democratic values and the Democratic vision using Democratic language, these folks are going to get it, too. At least from me. Feel free to do likewise.

UPDATE: Whatever you were going to contribute, double it, just because of this

Howard Dean is "over the top," Vice President
Dick Cheney says, calling the Democrats' chairman "not the kind of individual you want to have representing your political party."

"I've never been able to understand his appeal. Maybe his mother loved him, but I've never met anybody who does. He's never won anything, as best I can tell," Cheney said in an interview to be aired Monday on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes."

Dean was elected governor of Vermont five times between 1992 and 2000.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

It's not hot in here, it's just you.

From the Joint Science Academies’ Statement: Global Response to Climate Change

The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. Itis vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions.

Action taken now to reduce significantly the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lessen the magnitude and rate of climate change. As the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognises, a lack of full scientific certainty about some aspects of climate change is not a reason for delaying an immediate response that will, at a reasonable cost, prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

Well now, who ya gonna believe? A buncha scientists or this guy?
A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved.

Mr. Cooney is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues. Before coming to the White House in 2001, he was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training.(emphasis added)

Ohhhhh…he used to work for the American Petroleum Institute. So maybe it was one of those retraining programs. Lose your job at the institute, take a few classes at the community college, make yourself more “marketable.” Apparently he shied away from those chemisty and physics courses and gravitated to creative writing.

In one instance in an October 2002 draft of a regularly published summary of government climate research, "Our Changing Planet," Mr. Cooney amplified the sense of uncertainty by adding the word "extremely" to this sentence: "The attribution of the causes of biological and ecological changes to climate change or variability is extremely difficult."

In a section on the need for research into how warming might change water availability and flooding, he crossed out a paragraph describing the projected reduction of mountain glaciers and snowpack. His note in the margins explained that this was "straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings."

The alterations are sometimes as subtle as the insertion of an adjective, but cause a clear shift in the meaning of the documents. For example, a sentence in an October 2002 draft of a regularly published summary of government climate research, "Our Changing Planet," originally read: "Many scientific observations indicate that the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change...."

Mr. Cooney's neat, compact notes modified the sentence to read: "Many scientific observations point to the conclusion that the Earth may be undergoing a period of relatively rapid change...."

In places where uncertainties in climate research were described, Mr. Cooney added qualifiers like "significant" and "fundamental."

Tony Blair may speak the language of Shakespeare as he tries to persuade the President to curb greenhouse gasses, but he’s got nuthin’ on ol’ Phil “The-Pen-Is-Mightier-Than-The-Facts” Cooney.