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“No Expert In Election Law Either”: Florida Governor Rick Scott Is Also ‘Not A Scientist’

Florida governor Rick Scott (R) ripped a page from Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) science-denying playbook on Tuesday, when he dodged a question on climate change by insisting “I’m not a scientist.”

As Marc Caputo reports in The Miami Herald, the latest example of Scott’s climate-change trutherism came during a question-and-answer session in Miami:

Q: Do you believe man-made climate change is significantly affecting the weather, the climate?

Scott: “Well, I’m not a scientist. But let’s talk about what we’ve done. Through our Division of Emergency Management — the last few years, three years – we put about, I think, $120 million to deal with flooding around our coast. We also put a lot of money into our natural treasures, the Everglades, trying to make sure all the water flows south. So we’re dealing with all the issues we can. But I’m not a scientist.”

Q: In 2011 or 2010, you were much more doubtful about climate change. Now you’re sounding less doubtful about man-made climate change because now you’re not saying ‘Look, I doubt the science.’ Now you’re saying: ‘I’m not a scientist.’ Am I right in guessing that?

Scott: “Well, I’m not a scientist. But I can tell you what we’ve accomplished. We put a lot of effort into making sure that we take care of our natural treasures – the Everglades, making sure water flows south, any flooding around our coast. So we’re doing the right thing.”

Question (asked by citizen-activist): So do you believe in the man-made influence on climate change?

Scott: “Nice seeing you guys.”

The governor’s dodge is a rather weak case for refusing to fully confront Florida’s looming environmental crisis. After all, Scott is also not an expert in election law, but that didn’t stop him from illegally attempting to purge Florida’s voter rolls.

If Scott is interested in the opinion of actual scientists on the matter, however, they have been very clear that the climate is warming, likely due to human activities.

Scott’s response is nearly a carbon copy of the one offered by Senator Rubio in 2012, when he infamously responded to a question on the age of the Earth by telling GQ reporter Michael Hainey “I’m not a scientist, man.” Rubio has since devolved on the issue, going from refusing to engage with science to flatly denying it.

Scott’s has moved in the opposite direction. Although he now refuses to discuss science, during his first gubernatorial campaign in 2010 Scott proudly stated that he does not believe in climate change.

The governor’s attempt to sidestep questions on the topic will likely resurface during his re-election campaign. Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer has named Scott as one of the top targets of his $100 million campaign to boot climate-change truthers from office in November, and Scott’s awkward answer seems tailor-made for an attack ad.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, May 28, 2014

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Climate Change, Global Warming, Rick Scott | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Wars Not Fought”: The Doors Into Hell Are Many, The Exits However Are Fewer

We owe Mother Jones, the magazine, a public service nod for a graphic tour last year of all the countries that John McCain has wanted to attack. Spanning the globe, the fist-first senator has called for violent regime change in more than half a dozen nations, ranging from all-out ground invasions to airstrikes to arming sides in endless sectarian conflicts.

The map of McCain’s wars is worth considering as a what-if had the would-be vice president Sarah Palin and her running mate in 2008 prevailed. McCain continues to play quick-draw commander in chief to this day. He said he’d send troops into Nigeria “in a New York minute,” to rescue the girls kidnapped by Islamic terrorists, even without permission of the sovereign country. And just after President Obama’s speech Wednesday at West Point, McCain lamented that America’s young men and women were not still in the Iraqi city of Falluja.

Yes, Falluja — where tribal militias loyal to one warped religious tenet or another continue to slaughter each other with abandon. It’s a hard truth for a country as prideful as the United States to accept, but most Americans have now concluded that the Iraq War was a catastrophic mistake. Obama, at least, has tried to learn something from it.

Al Qaeda was never in Falluja before the American invasion. They have a stronghold in Falluja now, for which McCain blames the withdrawal of United States troops. Think about that: it’s not our fault because we opened the doors to the factions of hell; it’s our fault because we withdrew from hell.

As Obama tries to pivot from foreign policy by bumper sticker, McCain and an intellectually bankrupt clutch of neocons are trying to present themselves as the alternative. Dick Cheney, the warrior with five draft deferments, is in this diminishing camp, calling Obama “certainly the weakest” president in his lifetime. But both McCain and Cheney are outliers, blustery relics with little backing in either party. Only seven percent of Americans expressed support for even considering a military option after Russia forced Crimea into its fold. That’s a sea change in sentiment from 2001, or even 2008.

The nation’s future military leaders embody this shift. The biggest response from the cadets at West Point came when Obama said, “you are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.” They cheered.

But all of that is not to let Obama off the hook. His big foreign policy speech was flat and passionless, with no central vision. The fault may lie with this particular moment in world history. The Cold War was easy to frame. The War on Terror was as well, at least at first. Now, things are more muddled. How do we help the newly elected government of Ukraine? If we aggressively arm one side in Syria, what happens if they turn out to be religious extremists who want to put women back in the 9th century?

Obama didn’t specifically say so, but the guiding principle for this era of nuance and shadows may be no more complex than this: Stay out of wars of unintended consequence.

“Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint,” said Obama, “but from our willingness to rush into military adventure — without thinking through the consequences; without building international support and legitimacy for our action, or leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required. Tough talk draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans.”

Is that weakness, or wisdom? Well, neither. But it’s a realistic reaction to the hard fact that the last 50 years have produced the three longest wars in American history. And it’s a pitch-perfect reflection of where most Americans are today.

Afghanistan was supposed to be a swift move to crush a regime that allowed terrorists to flourish — not 13 years, and counting, of nation-building. Vietnam was billed as a blow for freedom against global communism — not a 10-year military muddle in a civil war posing no threat to the United States. Iraq was going to be clean and quick — we’ll be greeted as liberators! — not eight years in one of the most ghastly places on earth, at a cost of more than $2 trillion and a loss of at least 190,000 lives on all sides.

Obama’s foreign policy is a lot like his economic policy. Give him credit for preventing something awful from happening. The financial collapse could have been truly catastrophic, save for the action the president and the Federal Reserve took in the first year following the meltdown. For that, history will be kind. The wars not fought by Obama are the alternative to John McCain’s map. For that, the verdict of the ages is less certain. After 50 years, what a war-weary nation does know is this: the doors into hell are many; the exits, fewer.

 

By: Timothy Egan, Contributing Op-Ed Writer, The New York Times, May 29, 2014

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, Iraq War | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“NRA Finally Meets Its Match”: Why Richard Martinez Should Have Them Shaking

Richard Martinez’s son Christopher was among the six college students murdered this weekend in Isla Vista, California. It’s impossible to fathom the grief that Martinez must be experiencing right now, and the simple fact that he is upright and mobile is an act of tremendous courage. Which is precisely what makes everything else that he has done in the days since he lost his son all the more astounding.

From his first public statement — a blistering and emotional indictment of “craven” politicians who refuse to act on even moderate gun reform — to the tribute to Christopher he delivered Tuesday before a crowd of thousands, Martinez has been willing to show his raw and devastating grief to the world. He has made himself the gnarled and anguished face of our broken system — the lives that it takes and the lives that it ruins. His vulnerability and righteous, focused anger is unlike anything we’ve seen in response to a mass shooting.

And it should scare the shit out of the National Rifle Association, the gun lobby and the cowardly politicians who use these deadly weapons as literal and figurative political props.

It isn’t just the force of Martinez’s emotions or political conviction that make him powerful. He is currently shouldering the unimaginable grief of being yet another parent who has lost yet another child in yet another mass shooting. He has seen this happen before, he knows the political script that’s already playing out. He has listened as gun apologists — time and again — urge the nation not to “politicize” a national tragedy out of respect for the families, and then watched them turn on these same families in order to protect our deadly — and immensely profitable — culture of guns. And he’s using it. All of it.

Days after 26 people were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut, Wayne LaPierre denounced gun reform advocates for “exploit[ing] the tragedy for political gain.” Months later, Sarah Palin echoed the sentiment. ”Leaders are in it for themselves, not for the American people,” she told a crowd that summer, before effectively declaring how proud she was that her son Trig would grow up in a country where men like Elliot Rodger and Adam Lanza can buy guns and hoard ammunition without authorities batting an eyelash.

Martinez may be the single most powerful force we have against this kind of slithering political cowardice. He’s already familiar with the political dirty tricks and knows where the conversation will eventually turn — that the pro-gun crowd is going to come out hard against him, just as they have turned on other parents and survivors. “Right now, there hasn’t been much blowback from the other side,” Martinez noted during a Tuesday interview with MSNBC. “But I anticipate that once my grieving period is over, the gloves will come off. I don’t think it’s going to be easy. They are going to try to do to me the same thing that they’ve done to all of these people. But I have a message for them: My son is dead. There is nothing you could do to me that is worse than that.”

I can’t imagine a more direct rebuttal to the LaPierres and the Palins in this country. To the ridiculous rifle-holding Mitch McConnells and every other ludicrous coward currently walking the halls of Congress and state legislatures across the country. These are the people who — as Martinez has made explicit — are responsible for these terribly predictable and preventable tragedies. Because they have the power to implement sensible reform, but instead stand by and do nothing while more people die every single day.

Martinez also knows that while it’s the public’s job to hold our leadership’s feet to the fire, he’s not the one responsible for having all the answers. “Where’s the leadership on this? We elect these people and we give them power, and it’s just outrageous,” he said during the same interview. “My son just died a few days ago, and you expect me to have the answers to these questions? There are people out there who have the answers. Why isn’t our leadership rounding these people up?”

But Martinez’s grasp of the issue puts most of our elected officials to shame. “When you asked me about solutions, here’s what I’ve learned,” he explained. “This is a complicated issue, but there’s a certain commonality between these events. Typically, all of these incidents involved […] mental health issues, gun violence and violence against women. These three problems are almost always combined.”

Like other parents whose lives have been upturned by gun violence —  women like Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin — Martinez recognizes and is naming the pattern of violence in the most public way imaginable. But while Congress has so far been wildly successful at shutting down gun reform efforts, parents like Martinez, McBath and Fulton — who are electrifying the national conversation and building solidarity among other families forever changed by rampant access to deadly weapons — may be impossible for them to ignore. They are the most powerful messengers we could ask for.

Martinez is brave, destroyed, weeping, loud, furious and unpredictable in his grief. He is channeling all of that with a singular focus: Change. Or as he said that first day, introducing himself to the world as the grieving but determined father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez: “Not one more.”

“For me to live with this and honor his memory, I will continue to go anywhere and talk to anybody for as long as they want and are willing to listen to me about this problem. I’m not going to shut up,” he said Tuesday. He really seems to mean it.

 

By: Katie McDonough, Assistant Editor, Salon, May 29, 2014

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Gun Control, Mass Shootings, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Big Dis-Kynect “: Mitch McConnell’s Big Obamacare-Kynect Lie

Here’s why all the super-smart insidery people privately say they think that in the end, Alison Lundergan Grimes will not beat Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Her strategy, they say, is to keep it close, keep her distance from Obama, hold her own in debates, try to match him attack ad for attack ad, and just hope McConnell makes a mistake. And the super-smart people agree: You may admire or loathe McConnell, but if he’s proven one thing in umpteen elections, it’s that he doesn’t make mistakes.

That’s what the insiders say. There’s just one problem with it. McConnell has made about a mistake a week so far! He’s run an awful campaign. And he’s given anybody no reason at all to think he won’t just keep making them.

The latest is maybe the biggest howler yet, bigger than even the ad that mistook Duke basketball players for UK Wildcats. He said last week that while he will certainly still pursue repeal of Obamacare, he thinks Kentucky should be able to and will keep its celebrated Kynect health-care exchange, set up by Democratic Governor Steve Beshear under the Affordable Care Act. Here’s how LEO Weekly, out of Louisville, reported the moment:

McConnell took three questions on the Affordable Care Act and how its repeal would affect the 413,000 Kentuckians who now have insurance through the state exchange, Kynect. The first question asked how he would respond to those who say repeal would take away the health care of 413,000 Kentuckians, to which McConnell launched into his standard answer that Obamacare was raising premiums, raising deductibles, and killing jobs, concluding, “It was a big mistake, we ought to pull it out root and branch and start over.”

WHAS’ Joe Arnold followed up that answer by asking, “But if you repeal it, won’t all of the state exchanges be dismantled? How does that work?” McConnell then launched into his standard “solution” of sorts, calling for an “international market” of insurance companies that aren’t limited by state lines, in addition to “malpractice reform.”

The LEO writer, Joe Sonka, whom McConnell’s muscle men once threw out of a press conference because he has the temerity to write, like, facts and stuff, went on to slice and dice McConnell’s argument: “Kynect could not have existed without the Affordable Care Act, and it would cease to exist if the Affordable Care Act ceased to exist. There would be no people eligible for the expanded Medicaid—the large majority of those who signed up through Kynect—and there would be no exchange for people to sign up for affordable private insurance with federal subsidies. Saying that Kynect is unconnected with the ACA or its repeal is just mind-numbingly false. The ACA and Kynect are one in the same.”

This is obvious to anyone with a brain. The category of humans with a brain includes McConnell. He’s not that stupid. That leaves only one other choice: hypocritical. Well, two other choices: hypocritical and lying. That is, he knows Kynect can’t exist without the ACA, but he just said it anyway, without any concern for the truth. And the hypocrisy part comes in, of course, because, well, how can he have stood up there for years saying that, no, Americans should not be permitted to get health care the Obama way, and he’s going to strike it down the second he can—but Kentuckians, they’re different?

This gives Grimes an opening she didn’t have. More than 430,000 Kentuckians have health care now through Kynect. Mitch wants to take it away. No, wait, he doesn’t! Well, he wants to take Obamacare away, and Kynect came through Obamacare, but somehow he’s going to keep Kynect. And he’s going to go buy a new Oldsmobile, even though Olds is out of business, and he’s gonna campaign with Colonel Sanders, even though he’s been dead since 1980, and once he’s reelected he’s going to privatize Medicare—except in Kentucky, because Kentucky is different. Grimes’s media team, a talented bunch in my experience, should be able to have quite a lot of fun with this.

The Lexington Herald-Leader sure did, raking McConnell over the coals Wednesday. It wrote:

Asked specifically if Kynect should be dismantled, McConnell said: “I think that’s unconnected to my comments about the overall question.”

Huh?

That’s a quote that should live forever, or at least until Election Day. The super-smart insiders may be right, though, about one thing. McConnell won’t make “a mistake.” He’ll make several.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, May 29, 2014

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Mitch Mc Connell, Obamacare | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Feeling A Bit Of Anxiety”: Cantor’s Cause For Concern In The Commonwealth

The idea that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) would worry at all about his re-election seems hard to believe. The conservative Republican has fared quite well in all of his campaigns; he’s already quite powerful by Capitol Hill standards; and in the not-too-distant future, Cantor might even be well positioned to be Speaker of the House.

And yet, the Majority Leader appears to be feeling quite a bit of anxiety about his future.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is boasting in a new campaign mailer of shutting down a plan to give “amnesty” to “illegal aliens,” a strongly worded statement from a Republican leader who’s spoken favorably about acting on immigration.

The flier sent by his re-election campaign comes as Cantor is under pressure ahead of his June 10 GOP primary in Virginia – and as the narrow window for action on immigration legislation in the House is closing fast. Cantor’s flier underscores how vexing the issue is for the GOP.

In the larger context, it’s not helpful for Republicans when the Majority Leader brags about killing a bill that gives “amnesty” to “illegal aliens,” while his party tries to maintain a half-hearted pretense that blames President Obama for the demise of immigration reform.

But at this point, Cantor doesn’t appear to care too much about the larger context or message coherence. He’s worried about losing – the rest can be worked out later.

In fact, the degree of Cantor’s anxiety is pretty remarkable. The Majority Leader is up against David Brat, a conservative economist at Randolph-Macon College, who’s eagerly telling primary voters that Cantor isn’t right-wing enough. What was once seen as token opposition, however, has clearly gotten the incumbent’s attention.

Cantor was concerned enough last month to launch a television attack ad, which was followed by Cantor’s anti-immigrant mailing, which culminated in yet another television attack ad that the congressman’s campaign unveiled yesterday.

These are not the actions of a confident incumbent.

As best as I can tell, there are no publicly available polls out of this Virginia district (though it’s safe to say Cantor has invested in some surveys of his own). With that in mind, it’s hard to say with any confidence whether the Majority Leader is overreacting to a pesky annoyance or a credible challenger.

But Jenna Portnoy and Robert Costa reported recently that it’s probably the former, not the latter.

Most Republicans continue to believe Cantor is safe; he won a primary challenge two years ago with nearly 80 percent of the vote. But the prospect of a competitive and bruising challenge to the second-ranking Republican in Congress is embarrassing to Cantor – and is rattling GOP leaders at a time when the party is trying to unify its divided ranks.

We’ll know soon enough just how serious the threat is – the primary is in 13 days – but as the election draws closer, let’s not forget that Cantor was booed and heckled by Republican activists in his own district just two weeks ago.

No wonder he seems so nervous.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 28, 2014

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Eric Cantor, Immigration Reform | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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