Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

Protect the Climate, Protect Consumers

To follow up on my last post I wanted to clarify what I wrote a bit.

Firstly, and I can’t say this enough, carbon auctions and income protection is everybody’s issue. Unless you’re living on a self sustaining farm completely disconnected from the national production and transportation systems your economic interests are at stake.

Secondly, the argument that we should target 2020 for 100% carbon auctions is basically saying the Waxman strategy of buying votes by handing dirty energy allocations is half right. In the short term the consumer impact will be low enough that the compromise is worthwhile. But in the long term you’ll undermine the entire political coalition for climate action by needlessly making raising the cost of a transition to a green economy.



My Issue Can Wait, But Not Forever

On Wednesday I was doing an interview with a energy policy expert to explain what is Carrots and Sticks and what our climate policy goals. I realized I hadn’t written about or even talked about our climate policy goals in a while, so I figured I’d go over them.

Our principles for climate action are:

Action to Address Climate Change Should:
1) Begin without delay
2) Burden polluting industries, not American families
3) Grant no exemption or exception based on political consideration

In terms of particular policies and applications of these principles we’ve asked offices to vote for Waxman-Markey, or a similar Senate version, restore EPA authority to regulate carbon dioxide, support citizen monitoring of carbon dioxide, and transition to 100% carbon auctions by 2020.

Our primary and I believe unique goal is the 100% carbon auctions by 2020. The idea is that while we’d like 100% carbon auctions and a cap dividend system to be put in place immediately, it’s become a poison pill as evidenced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans that voted for such a policy during the Committee amendments phase. So looking for a rational compromise we decided on 2020 as a target date.

Until we have 100% carbon auctions we won’t have comprehensive income protection*, which is vitally important to sustain long term support for climate action. Since the cost of transition will gradually increase having comprehensive income protection in the earliest years is less important then in later years.

The 100% by 2020 is a functional compromise which gives activists a way to fight for American families pocketbooks, without asking their representatives in Congress for something that will torpedo legislative action.

We hope you agree with our strategy and hope you’ll join us in fighting for a future where American families don’t get stuck with the bill for climate action!


* I’d characterize the current income protection scheme in Waxman-Markey as about half of what we could be doing. There is protection for home heating and electricity bills, and lower income tax protections as well. It’s much better then nothing, but there are still billions of dollars going to polluting industries which could distributed to American households.

Violence in American Civil Discourse

So does anyone really doubt there is a serious possibility of escalated violence at these town hall events?

Randall Terry is pretty clearly in the business of winking at violent extremism and I don’t believe for a second that anybody brings an assault rifle to a rally for self defense.

Once the recess stops you’ll see both sides organize rallies and events. Where there are protesters there are often counter protesters. You’ve got anger, weapons and accusations of plots to kill America’s grandmothers, could get ugly.


I Was Punched by a Teabagger Today – UPDATED

Tuesday evening, I went to the widely attended Rep. Moran town hall in Reston to show support for meaningful health care reform and help fight back against the insidious and unruly protests of the teabagger crowd, which was also out in full force. I was unable to get into the event, but did stand right outside holding a sign and helping ensure the enemies of the American people’s business didn’t have complete control of the scene.

To be fair, most of the folks in the crowd were rather raucous and disrespectful, but still not intent on engaging in violence. Unfortunately, that did not go for everyone. Myself and a handful of other health reform supporters were basically surrounded by a group of perhaps 50 loud protesters in that immediate area, and we had some extra signs to hold for others who might join us to even the numbers out.

Then, a very large man with a Cato Institute shirt attempted to steal our extra signs and run away. Now I am generally a peaceful person, but I’m also a New Yorker at heart and not about to be steamrolled by any bullying types. So I ran after him as he was trying to escape with our signs and grabbed him by the shirt sleeve to slow him down. The corporate-funded neanderthal then turned around and socked me square in the face, just below my right eye, as hard as he could. Not cool. I tried to fight back, but the crowd quickly broke it up, followed by the cops. Ultimately, we were both forced to leave the premises for security precautions. The fat man was quite resistant to that order, but eventually he acquiesced.

A police report has been filed, and although I will probably not press charges, I do want to find out who that man is and whether he has any formal connection to the Cato Institute. Thankfully, I am a former rugby player and can deal with a punch, even a hard one thrown by a strong guy, but it’s highly unfortunate that people like him feel the need to resort to violence to get their way. After all, if you are associated with an institution as powerful as Cato, shouldn’t you be able to get your voice heard without punching people in the face? That is exactly what is wrong with the American political discourse; when one side feels okay using tactics of intimidation and physical aggression just to advance an agenda, it poisons the whole debate and good policy takes a backseat to who can yell the loudest. We can do better than that.


UPDATE: Campaign for America’s Future has picked up the story. Somebody did get a picture of the man who hit me, and here it is:

Cato Clad Man. Do you know this teabagger?

If anyone has any idea who this man is, I would love to know. Noticing the collared shirt beneath his t-shirt, the chances of his being some sort of professional conservative operative are substantial. To make clear, I am not at all interested in pursuing personal retribution, but I do want to help expose the nature of the movement standing in opposition to health care reform.

Job Creation and the Green Economy

Craig Morris does great job burrowing into the issue of green jobs and the net-effect argument. It’s pretty clear that the net-effect argument, that green job programs don’t create jobs when you look at the net-effect of the policies, will be the issue holding back support for green jobs programs.

Which is unfortunate because Morris compelling lays out the case that the critics of green jobs have been pushing questionable research. Nonetheless proponents of green jobs still need to demonstrate the potential of green jobs and promotion of energy efficiency compared to other job programs and alternative policies generally. Lots of policies create jobs. Are green job programs an especially effective way to create jobs?

The clearly beneficial economic aspect of a green jobs approach is that these jobs that can’t be outsourced. Unions have clearly gotten behind green jobs for that reason. Where you’ll see problems:
1) Regional differences will create disparate green job opportunities and;
2) Raised expectations will be hard to meet.

Green projects, like the stimulus, are going to be placed according political and policy considerations. Both of these things could cause regional imbalances.

Most troubling is the problem of expectations. Green jobs are the centerpiece of many advocacy campaigns, but it’s hard to believe we’re going to see anything resembling FDR-like spending to achieve a green economy. ACES would start a slow transition of the American economy to a more sustainable footing, but we shouldn’t be expect to be a green new deal for American workers.


Kennedy has died

On behalf of Carrots and Sticks, I would like to pay tribute to a politician who fought hard for things we believe in, including health care, fair pay, and the rights of working people.

I will miss his leadership more than I can say.

“Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,–
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”


Panetta and the Justice Department

I understand why Leon Panetta is worried about Attorney General Eric Holder’s investigation in CIA interrogation techniques, but was he seriously expecting the White House to exert pressure on the Justice Department to not enforce the law?

In general it’s perfectly acceptable for the White House to pressure agencies and departments, but when the Attorney General says he thinks the law might have been broken it’s not OK for the White House to call in and offer their opinion.

Also if Penetta or any member of the Obama National Security team is planning to quit because they don’t want to deal with these torture probes then they really have no place in public service or the national dialogue. If they think their should be prosecutions they should stay and advocate for that position. If they think Obama should shield CIA officials then they should stay and advocate that position.

Everybody knew the interrogation techniques approved by the Bush Administration were a legal minefield when Obama came in, if they accepted a job in the National Security team it’s their responsibility to deal with it.


The British Are Sick of Being a GOP Talking Point

Apparently, even conservatives from Britain are sick and tired of being used as an example of the horrors of a public health care system. After one conservative member of parliament went on Fox News to rip on his own healthcare system, and, by implication, warn the U.S. of ever creating a public plan, the leader of the Tory party, David Cameron, went on British TV in strong support of the NHS.

The MSM in the U.S. appears to be essentially blacking out any coverage of the conservative leader’s response, which is why I’m posting here on something that was covered well on DailyKos (by Democrats Ramshield, to whom a major hat-tip!). When we face a MSM blackout, it serves us all to disseminate information widely. As one of my favorite sci-fi authors says “You can’t stop the signal.”

Here’s another video, which includes some comments from the Twitter campaign Brits have set up in support of their health care plan:


Bottom line: rumors of Britons hating their health care system are greatly exaggerated