mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“A Threat To Human Existence”: Perils Of Warming Planet Are Ignored By GOP Hopefuls

Amazingly, tellingly, the last Republican debate included not a single question about one of the most ambitious international agreements in civilized history — the recently concluded Paris accord on climate change. Signed by nearly 200 countries, including the United States, the agreement attempts to moderate a threat to human existence: the warming of the planet.

But there was barely a mention of climate change on that debate stage. Not only didn’t the moderators consider it worthy of a question, but neither did the candidates believe it important enough for sustained comment. Global warming came up only in a couple of asides intended as criticisms of President Obama’s agenda.

The debate was about national security, you say? Well, they contrasted a promised muscular approach to what they described as the weakness of the president, who is too cowardly or politically correct, in their telling, to even use the right words to describe Islamic jihadists.

Yet, the Pentagon has concluded that climate change represents “immediate risks” to national security. Last year, the nation’s military leaders issued a report — “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap” — that says that global warming will “affect the Department of Defense’s ability to defend the nation.”

Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, was widely derided after a November Democratic debate in which he said that “climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.” No military analyst or climate scientist has gone so far as to draw a straight line between global warming and the savagery of ISIS.

However, the Pentagon’s report does make clear that climate change will lead to greater instability worldwide: droughts, food shortages, mass migrations, failed states. And those are just the sorts of conditions that breed terrorists.

According to the Department of Defense, the U.S. armed forces will also find their resources strained at home as their troops are likely to be called upon more often for civilian assistance in the wake of natural disasters. There will be more extreme events — more violent storms, more fires, more flooding. And as if that were not enough, some of the military’s combat activities will be compromised; amphibious landings, for example, are likely to be more challenging because of rising oceans, according to the report.

Not that you’d know any of that from listening to the GOP candidates. Most leading Republicans are loath even to acknowledge that climate change is occurring — much less acknowledge that it has any connection to national security. Earlier this month, in fact, presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who heads the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, declared at a hearing on climate change that “for the past 18 years … there has been no significant warming whatsoever.”

Au contraire. According to scientists at NASA and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, 2014 was the warmest year since records were first kept in 1880. “The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record,” NASA said, “with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000.”

The refusal of the modern Republican Party to come to terms with climate change leaves it as the only major political party that doubts the science, the only modern body of flat-Earthers. Conservatives in Great Britain, Germany, Australia, Israel and everywhere else in the democratic world have accepted the scientific consensus.

So, for that matter, has ExxonMobil, which spent decades trying to muddy the waters around climate research. The oil giant may have been forced to acknowledge the facts by increasing legal and economic pressures, but it finally stated the obvious: “We believe the risks of climate change are real, and those risks warrant constructive action by both policymakers and the business community,” ExxonMobil Vice President Ken Cohen said recently. Other major oil companies have also embraced the scientific consensus.

It’s strange that Republicans are peddling fear at every turn, but they refuse to acknowledge an existential threat. Islamic jihadists are troubling, but they don’t come close to the peril represented by a warming planet.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker Haynes, Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, December 19, 2015

December 22, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, GOP Primary Debates, Paris Climate Accord | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“One Of The More Painful Exchanges Of 2015”: Team Trump’s Unhealthy Approach To Nuclear Weapons

One of the more cringe-worthy moments of last week’s Republican debate came towards the end of the evening and dealt with, of all things, nuclear weapons. Hugh Hewitt asked Donald Trump, “What’s your priority among our nuclear triad?” To make things really easy for the GOP frontrunner, the conservative co-moderator went to the trouble of explaining what the “nuclear triad” is (bombers, missiles, and submarines).

Trump gave a long, meandering answer, which touched on a variety of issues unrelated to the nuclear triad. Hewitt, to his credit, tried again, asking, “Of the three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority?”

The Republican candidate – who’d just been reminded of what the “triad” refers to – responded, “I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.”

In a year filled with countless examples of GOP White House hopefuls saying things that don’t make a lick of sense, it was one of the more painful exchanges of 2015.

But as bad as Trump’s debate answer was, ThinkProgress flagged a quote from the candidate’s campaign spokesperson that may be even scarier.

Appearing on Fox News on Friday, a spokesperson for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump threatened that the business mogul would be willing to use nuclear weapons if he were elected to serve as commander in chief.

 “What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?” campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson asked on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor.

I looked up the transcript on Nexis, and the context actually makes it worse. As part of the segment, conservative pundit Kurt Schlichter, reflecting on the debate, said, “[I]s it too much that he knows what the nuclear triad is? I mean, Katrina, the point of the nuclear triad is to be afraid to use the damn thing. You want to scare the hell out of the other side.”

It was in response to this that Trump’s spokesperson said, “What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?”

In case it’s not obvious, using nuclear weapons is … how do I put this gently … not good. That the Trump campaign has a rather cavalier attitude on the subject is a little terrifying.

Put it this way: the United States is not alone in the nuclear club. Would we want officials in other counties to wonder aloud what good it does to have a nuclear arsenal if they’re afraid to use it?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 21, 2015

December 22, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates, Nuclear Weapons | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Questions About Why Rubio Is So Soft On Immigrants”: The Irony In Marco Rubio And Ted Cruz’s Argument Over “Amnesty”

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are for now the only real candidates with a chance to become the Republican nominee for president (granting that Donald Trump, whatever his chances, is an utterly unreal candidate), and to Rubio’s chagrin, they are engaged in a dispute over immigration that grows progressively more venomous.

This complex policy challenge has been reduced to the question of which of them is more fervently opposed to “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, but the debate obscures an odd fact. Though Cruz is getting the better of the argument, the substance of Rubio’s position on the issue—which he is now desperately trying to justify—is actually more popular with Republican voters. But in this atmosphere, when fear and resentment are the order of the day, even that isn’t enough to help him.

A brief bit of background. In 2013, Rubio joined with a bipartisan group of senators called the Gang of Eight to write a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which passed the Senate but died in the House. Along with increasing border security and beefing up the E-Verify system through which employers check their employees’ immigration status, it provided for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But it was an extremely lengthy path. They would have to register, pay a fine, pass a background check, and at that point they would be granted provisional legal status. After waiting ten years, paying another fine, and showing that they had learned English, they could apply for a green card. Then if they got the green card, they could apply for citizenship three years after that. So it could be fifteen years or more before someone who is currently an undocumented immigrant became a citizen.

As for Ted Cruz’s part, he offered an amendment at the time stripping out the path to citizenship but allowing undocumented immigrants to get work permits. Rubio charges that this means Cruz supported legal status for the undocumented (horrors!), while Cruz says that his amendment was just a poison pill meant to sabotage the bill.

While Rubio has backed away from the bill—he now says he learned that comprehensive reform is impossible, and the answer is to do it piece by piece, with the enforcement pieces coming first—he still says he supports an eventual path to citizenship. But he’s always careful to stress how long it would be before that would even be discussed, much less implemented.

So right now, Rubio is defensively answering all kinds of questions about why he’s so soft on immigrants, while Cruz is the one attacking (and Rubio’s counter that Cruz is kind of an amnesty supporter too has fallen short). Yet Rubio’s position on the path to citizenship question—yes, but after a lengthy process—is quite popular within the party.

It matters a lot how you ask the question, but polling shows that, as a group, Republican voters are perfectly open to letting undocumented immigrants stay in the United States. When Pew asked recently if undocumented immigrants who “meet certain requirements” should be allowed to say, 66 percent of Republicans say yes, with 37 percent supporting citizenship and 28 percent supporting permanent residency.

But the more specific you make the question, the more open Republicans are to citizenship. When pollsters have asked whether undocumented immigrants should be able to apply for citizenship if they pay fines and learn English, clear majorities of Republicans say yes: 72 percent in a January 2014 CNN poll; 69 percent in an October 2013 CBS poll; 63 percent in a February 2013 Fox poll (those and others are collected here).

Those results demonstrate that if you can assure people—even Republicans—that undocumented immigrants will pay a price and assimilate, they have no problem with a path to citizenship. And that’s exactly what the Gang of Eight bill did.

So why isn’t Rubio winning on this issue? One reason is that his position is complex, while Cruz’s position is a rather simpler “He loves amnesty!”—and simpler messages usually prevail. Another reason is that the candidates aren’t actually appealing to all Republican voters, but the somewhat smaller and more conservative group that will actually vote in primaries. And finally, Donald Trump’s campaign, not to mention the general atmosphere of fear stirred up by the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, has made anything resembling rational discussion on this issue all but impossible. Ted Cruz is capitalizing on that atmosphere with an enthusiasm bordering on the gleeful; he’s now airing an ad claiming that the Gang of Eight bill “would have given Obama the authority to admit Syrian refugees, including ISIS terrorists. That’s just wrong.” It should go without saying that his claim is absolutely ludicrous.

It’s possible that each passing day in which Donald Trump is on TV talking about border walls and excluding Muslims has the effect of nudging the Republican electorate to the right on anything that has to do with foreigners. But the polling results of the last few years show that Republicans are not a monolith, and there should be a market for a position like Rubio’s.

There’s another truth we should acknowledge in this debate. What a President Cruz would actually do on immigration is almost identical to what a President Rubio would do: not much. The last few years have proven that the Republican House has no appetite for comprehensive reform, no matter what the circumstances. And today’s GOP caucus is even more conservative than it was in 2013, after the sweep of 2014 brought in a whole new class of ultra-right members. Most Republicans hail from safe Republican districts, where they fear only a challenge from the right, so there’s no reason why they’d embrace comprehensive reform. The Republican Party itself may want to reach out to Hispanic voters, but your average Republican member of Congress has little reason to; indeed, all his interests run toward vehement opposition.

And if a Republican does somehow win the presidency, the urgency in demonstrating any goodwill toward Hispanics will be gone. So what will happen? The Republican Congress will pass a bill or two hiring more Border Patrol and ICE agents and building some more fences, the Republican president will sign those bills, and they’ll all call it a day—whether the public, including even Republican voters, would favor a path to citizenship or not.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, December 21, 2015

December 22, 2015 Posted by | Amnesty, Immigration Reform, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Its Not Just About Bombing ISIS”: Organizing Global Action Related To Financing Of Terrorism

I’ve written previously about the strategy behind President Obama’s containment policy with regards to ISIS.

Its [U.S.] containment policy, Watts explained, is designed to wall ISIS into increasingly restricted territory and letting it fail due to its own mismanagement, economic problems, and internal discord, rather than because of the actions of a foreign oppressor.

If you want to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East and engage in an apocalyptic battle with the West, you need financial resources to do so. Hence, the United States has been pursuing a financial as well as military containment policy.

But those efforts won’t succeed unless the countries of the world join us in both abandoning any financial transactions with ISIS and policing private entities within their own borders who might attempt to do so. That’s why, as U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power wrote, last week Treasury Secretary Jack Lew took on the role of foreign diplomat.

…to defeat these terrorist groups — as we must and will do — the United Nations must reach beyond the expertise of foreign ministries, and our traditional means of countering State aggression.

Instead, we must look to the policymakers who are developing innovative tactics to fight these groups, from strengthening border security and countering violent extremism in communities to choking off various sources of ISIL’s financing.

On Thursday, Secretary Lew is chairing the first-ever meeting of U.N. Security Council finance ministers to intensify international efforts on combating terrorist financing. We recognize that if we want to cut off ISIL’s access to the international financial system and prevent it from raising, transferring and using funds, we need other countries on board.

That is an innovative approach to how the U.N. might function in a world of asymmetrical threats. The idea that it is not simply a place for foreign ministers to discuss state-on-state military matters, but is also a place to organize global action related to terrorism financing means that it can be a vehicle for strategies that address 21st century challenges.

I am reminded of the approach a lot of Republicans have taken to the United Nations – from former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton’s casual reference to “losing 10 stories” of their building in NYC to continuous efforts by Congressional Republicans to defund it.

What we have seen from the Obama administration is a strengthening of the United Nations (and other coalitions like NATO) as a way to establish the kinds of partnerships that are necessary to accomplish everything from a global climate accord to a plan to end the Syrian civil war to cutting off the flow of financial resources to ISIS.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 21, 2015

December 22, 2015 Posted by | ISIS, Republicans, Terrorism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Your Family Has Delighted Us Long Enough”: Bush League; Jeb Has Become A 2016 Nonentity, For Good Reason

It’s universally acknowledged that Jeb Bush has fallen the furthest and fastest of any Republican in the primary race for president. It’s sad the former frontrunner has come to this: calling frontrunner Donald Trump “a jerk.”

How pedestrian.

Then again, the Bush men – Jeb, his brother George W. and their father George H.W. – can be famously inept with words. That is not the least of their sins and one reason Jeb is a room-emptier of a candidate. (He says he will “campaign my heart out.”) He has not made news in a good way – I mean, with something original, witty, smart or sparkling. Not one laugh has crossed state lines. Perhaps his best riposte came in the last debate, stating Trump can’t “insult his way to the presidency.” We’ll see.

The petulant preppie’s charm deficit has thrust his harsh substance into sharper relief for critics like me. As we know by now, Jeb Bush strongly opposes women’s reproductive rights; that as governor of Florida he dismissed large swathes of state employees; and that he has almost the same list of foreign policy “experts” as his brother, President George W. Bush. He rashly declared early on, “My brother kept us safe,” which gave Trump his first stinging salvo.

The fact is, 9/11 happened on his brother’s watch and defined his stay in the White House as a “war president.” America is still trying to awaken from the nightmare of Bush’s misbegotten wars, especially the Iraq invasion which took a serpentine trail to the birth of the Islamic State group. But Bushes are loyal team players and Jeb would never undermine George’s judgment. That cuts to the core of the Bushes: Winning is in the end about them, not us. It’s like a giant game of horseshoes in Kennebunkport, Maine, site of the waterfront family compound.

Jeb did one surprising thing, though. He made me freshly appreciate his brother George’s political talent, a long time coming. Suddenly, I saw the twinkle in his eye, his carriage, his presence, his range of expression. He is much more compelling as a leader than his brother, never mind (for a moment) his ruinous war record abroad. and on the Katrina front at home.

Ironically, the younger George’s time in office did much the same. I appreciated his father “Poppy’s” presidency so much more than I ever did during the son’s presidency. The elder George, who I thought of as a tonedeaf elitist with a mean streak, suddenly appeared as a wise statesman with the so-called “vision thing.” He had the vision not to start a “kill Saddam in Iraq” campaign after winning the war in Kuwait with a truly multinational coalition. How great was that? He did not cross that line in the sand.

The older Bush also handled German reunification and the end of the Cold War like an old foreign policy hand, which he actually was. Not a shot was fired in anger. The recession happening at home was his undoing in running for re-election in 1992, as he sensed it would be. The governor of Arkansas with the golden tongue, young enough to be his son, proved the man of the people.

But two Bush presidents are plenty, thanks, Jeb. As Jane Austen would say, your family has delighted us long enough.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, December 21, 2015

December 22, 2015 Posted by | George H. W. Bush, George W Bush, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , | 1 Comment

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: