Sunday, March 25, 2007

Al Gore Rocks II!!!

From Thursday's (3/22/07) Progress Report ... Barbara Boxer also ROCKS!!!:

CLIMATE CHANGE -- GORE SMACKS DOWN GLOBAL WARMING DENIERS AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS: Yesterday, former Vice President Al Gore testified about climate change before the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. At the House hearing, Gore slammed climate change deniers, saying, "The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don’t say, well I read a science fiction novel that tells me it’s not a problem. If the crib’s on fire, you don’t speculate that the baby is flame-retardant. You take action." (Watch his full introductory statement here, as well as other highlights from his testimony here.) Gore's appearance before Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) committee was a lively one, with infamous climate "skeptic" Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) trying to cut off Gore's testimony. Boxer would have none of it, telling Inhofe, "You’re not making the rules. You used to when you did this. Elections have consequences. So I make the rules." Inhofe also tried to repeat the right-wing smear against Gore for not signing a "Personal Energy Ethics Pledge" to "consume no more energy than the average American household." Joe Romm of Climate Progress explained why Inhofe's attack is nonsense: "[W]hy should Gore take such a pledge? Gore is a champion of greenhouse gas reductions, not energy reductions. Gore explained he buys 100 percent renewable power and is planning to build a solar power system. Thus the electricity Gore consumes in his Tennessee home does not contribute to global warming."

Al Gore ROCKS!!!

This is from last Wednesday's (3/21/07) Progress Report (you can see how far behind I am in reading my e-mail) ... I am just fed up with conservatives ... Al Gore is right ... they're wrong:

A Hero And A Target

House and Senate committee hearings on global warming today expect "huge turnouts," as they play host to the testimony of Vice President Al Gore, who will be sending Congress a message "demanding immediate action to solve the climate crisis." Carrying with him as many as 500,000 postcards from individuals seeking "real action on global warming," Gore returns to Capitol Hill "as a celebrated Academy Award winner, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and a man on a mission to save the planet." Gore's efforts to raise the public consciousness of looming environmental and economic disasters have made him the subject of right-wing attacks. Long-time critics of global warming science have refocused their criticisms of late on the leading spokesman of the climate crisis awakening. Conservatives have hurled personal attacks on Gore, calling him an "alarmist," an "extremist," and a "high-profile hypocrite." The intensity of the right-wing rage is a reflection of Gore's incredible success in winning over public attention and goodwill for his work on the environment. Two years ago, global warming was still considered a fringe issue to many. Today, the debate is over -- Americans overwhelmingly agree that the climate crisis exists and that we must act now to reverse it. Gore's documentary (and companion book) An Inconvenient Truth had a profound impact on how Americans view the issue of global warming, and the public stage that Gore now commands is a deserved recognition of his work.

PATHETIC ATTEMPTS TO STUMP GORE: Earlier this week, the Drudge Report -- a leading global warming denier -- posted questions that were “circulating behind-the-scenes” and would supposedly leave “Gore scrambling for answers.” The list recycled long-running efforts by conservatives to play down the extent of human contribution to global warming. One question said: "Wouldn't it make more sense that the sun is responsible for warming since it is the common denominator?" Media Matters reports that theory has been debunked by the scientific community, noting that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- in a report it released in February -- "concluded that both greenhouse gases and solar radiation are contributing to global warming." Moreover, "solar activity has not increased since the 1950s" and is therefore unlikely to be able to singularly explain the recent warming. Another question for Gore read: "Joseph Romm, the executive director for the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, has said we must build 700 large nuclear plants to stave off climate change. Where do you stand on the need for nuclear energy?" Romm, a former assistant energy secretary in the Clinton administration, noted that he sides with Gore and is in favor of "mandatory carbon dioxide controls" before making calculated and safe investments into nuclear power.

SMEARS AND LIES: There is no meaningful debate within the scientific community about the human contribution to global warming, so the right wing has instead busied itself with propagating information to smear the leading spokesman of the climate crisis awakening movement. Recently, Fox News's Sean Hannity lashed out at Gore for supposedly flying on private jets, despite having no evidence Gore had done so since Jan. 2000. Gore's office told The Progress Report that the Vice President reduces his emissions as much as he can, drives a hybrid, flies commercially whenever possible, and purchases green power. Fox News's Brit Hume chose to smear Gore by claiming he was a hypocrite for accepting royalties from a zinc mine located on his Tennessee property. But as the Tennessean reported, "[T]here is no evidence the mine has caused serious damage to the environment in the area or threatened the health of his neighbors." Conservatives were also overjoyed to highlight a recent New York Times article claiming that scientists have disputed Gore's environmental work. At least four of the sources cited in the story have records of misinformation on the issue. Also, Media Matters notes the Times last year printed a story explaining that scientists "tended to agree" with Gore's main points.

MORE WORK TO DO: While the scientific consensus is in (global warming is "unequivocal" and human activity is its main driver), a well-heeled and carefully-orchestrated movement on the right is trying to doctor it. Funded with money from oil and gas firms, conservative think tanks continue to pour money into efforts to push back on the science. The American Enterprise Institute offered $10,000 only to scientists whose views were critical of the scientific consensus. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is funded with donations from Exxon Mobil, ran television ads downplaying the impact of increasing levels of carbon dioxide, stating "they call it pollution; we call it life." A hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee demonstrated the pervasive influence this ideology has had inside the White House. Philip Cooney, a former environmental adviser to President Bush, acknowledged changing scientific statements to "align" them with "the administration's stated policy" that there is no consensus that global warming is caused by man. Gore's mission to increase awareness is thus challenged by those wanting to bury their heads in the sands. Exemplifying this mentality, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) said of Gore's testimony today, "Those who believe all his garbage are going to be excited to death and the rest of us are going to ignore it."

Monday, March 19, 2007

I'm So Disgusted By It All!!!

From today's Progress Report:

Four Years of Chaos

On March 19, 2003, President Bush spoke to the nation from the Oval Office and announced that the United States was invading Iraq. "Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose is sure. ... [O]ur forces will be coming home as soon as their work is done." Four years later, the American public is no longer sure what the President's "purpose" was for invading Iraq, nor do we know when our troops will be coming home. Instead of "reluctantly" going to war, "the president and his administration exaggerated, cherry-picked and simplified" intelligence that it then used to tell the American public, wrongly, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. As a result, approximately 3,200 American troops have died, the military is overextended, and the world is less safe. Violence in Iraq continues to skyrocket, and Bush's escalation seems to be driving the United States into "a much deeper and longer-term role in policing Iraq than since the earliest days of the U.S. occupation." The White House has indicated that Bush's plans for today include "going about business as usual," including "playing host to the 2006 NCAA football champions, the University of Florida 'Gators.'" The Progress Report has put together a timeline looking back over the past 48 months HERE.

IRAQIS ARE LESS SECURE: On March 17, 2003, Bush declared to Iraqis, "The day of your liberation is near." Yet at least 150,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in violence since the beginning of the war. Car bombings reached an all-time high in January and February, and for the first time, the Pentagon last week acknowledged that "some of the violence in Iraq can be described as a civil war." It was the Pentagon's "bleakest assessment of the war to date." The report also found that two-thirds of the Iraqi people "believe that conditions are worsening, and as many as 9,000 are fleeing the country each month." A new BBC/ABC News poll finds that fewer than 40 percent of Iraqis "said things were good in their lives," compared to 71 percent two years ago. One Jan. 10, Bush announced his plan to send 21,500 more combat troops to Baghdad, promising it would "help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad." On March 6, Bush declared his plan to be working. "Yet even at this early hour, there are some encouraging signs," he stated. But as the Washington Post reported, "Sectarian attacks in Baghdad are down at the moment, but the deaths of Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops have increased outside the capital." Bush also claimed that "Iraqi and U.S. forces have rounded up more than 700 people affiliated with Shia extremists." But according to a military official, Bush's numbers appear "to have little to do with the new strategy. The number is 'based on captures...since July 2006.' ... Bush first reported the same roundup -- citing 600 captures -- last fall." Iraqi officials are also falling behind on the benchmarks of progress it promised to meet. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced that will miss his "self-imposed deadline for reshuffling the Cabinet," and just two Iraqi brigades and one battalion of a third have arrived in Baghdad, despite the Iraqi government's promise to employ three brigades.

TROOPS ARE LESS PREPARED: In 2000, Bush stated, "To point out that our military has been overextended, taken for granted and neglected, that's no criticism of the military. That is criticism of a president and vice president and their record of neglect." Yet now, as all signs point to a military that is overextended, the Bush administration is trying to deflect criticism and claim that the military's readiness is "unprecedented." In reality, the U.S. Army's preparedness for war "has eroded to levels not witnessed by our country in decades." Virtually all of the U.S.-based Army combat brigades are "rated as unready to deploy," Army officials say, and a recent Pentagon survey found that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from chronic shortages of armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and communications equipment. Army and Marine Corps officials say it will take years for their forces to recover from a "death spiral," in which rapid war rotations have "consumed 40 percent of their total gear, wearied troops, and left no time to train to fight anything other than the insurgencies now at hand." "We have a strategy right now that is outstripping the means to execute it," Army chief of staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Similarly, troops coming back from war -- with unprecedented levels of mental health disorders -- are facing a bureaucracy unprepared to deal with them, as the Walter Reed scandal highlighted. Seventy-six percent of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, believe the Bush administration hasn't "done enough to care for [Iraq war] veterans." Bush plans to "cut funding for veterans' health care two years from now," even though "the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly -- by more than 10 percent in many years."

WORLD IS LESS SAFE: The Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy magazine recently released their second "Terrorism Index," a bipartisan survey of America's top national security experts. The consensus: the world is growing more dangerous, and America is losing the war on terror. Eighty-one percent of Terrorism Index respondents "see a world that is growing more dangerous for the American people, while 75 percent say the United States is losing the war on terror." Among the 81 percent of experts who believe the world is becoming "more dangerous" to the United States, a large plurality identified the Iraq war as the primary cause. These results are supported by the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate released last fall, which stated that "the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives," and that Iraq "has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists." Nearly six in 10 experts of all political stripes say the Bush administration is doing the "worst possible job" in Iraq and fully 88 percent of the experts believe the war in Iraq is undermining U.S. national security.

TIME TO REDEPLOY: "For the first time since the Iraq war began, less than half of Americans believe the United States can win in Iraq, a CNN poll said Tuesday. Just 46 percent think the United States will win." Fifty-eight percent of Americans "want to see U.S. troops leave Iraq either immediately or within a year." Forty-nine countries joined Bush's Coalition of the Willing at the start of the Iraq war. By mid-2007, just 20 countries will remain after Britain, Denmark, and South Korea reduce their forces. Even National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley recently acknowledged that some Iraqis want the U.S. military presence to be, "over." The Center for American Progress has a plan called "Strategic Redeployment" that calls for a gradual drawdown of American troops coupled with increased engagement with Iraq's political leaders. The plan goes beyond the debate between "cutting and running" and "staying the course" to show how we can more effectively achieve success in Iraq. The House Appropriations Committee also recently approved legislation to calling for troops to "leave Iraq before Sept. 2008, and possibly sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet certain