September 6, 2019

CNN Town Hall

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

On Wednesday, CNN hosted a seven-hour climate change town hall featuring ten Democratic candidates in succession. CNN

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From the Left

The left is encouraged that candidates are taking climate change seriously.

“There were reportedly concerns within the DNC that ‘a debate that incentivized the eventual nominee to declare war on the fossil fuel industry risked ceding gas-producing states like Pennsylvania to Trump in 2020’… CNN showed that the DNC had little to fear with a climate crisis debate. Most of the candidates avoided direct attacks on each other, let alone proclamations that could scare off crucial blocks of swing voters. As Bernie Sanders made clear: ‘The coal miners in this country, the men and women who work on the oil rigs, they are not my enemy. My enemy is climate change.’”
Sophia Tesfaye, Salon

Organizing works. Earlier this year, activists with the Sunrise Movement began agitating for the Democratic National Committee to hold a climate debate. While they didn’t get an official debate, they did get a prime-time, science-based, and mostly substantive discussion of climate change. Years of work by activists to elevate climate change to the top of the political agenda resulted in every candidate agreeing on a certain floor for action, including reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the very latest, ending federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, and restricting oil and gas leasing on public lands—something the Obama administration resisted.”
Zoë Carpenter, The Nation

“The conversation… stood in stark contrast to an administration for which the question is not how but whether to address the climate crisis — and the answer is no… Trump has…  moved to protect methane leaks, open protected lands and waters to fossil fuel extraction, and help cars and trucks consume gasoline. Why do fossil fuel purveyors keep having their way with administration officials? Partly because they are often one and the same. Take Joe Balash, who resigned as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management last week to become an executive at an oil company with operations near Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an area where Balash and other administration officials have championed fossil fuel extraction… Balash follows other ranking administration officials who have jumped to the energy industry, among them former Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt.”
Editorial Board, San Francisco Chronicle

“The voter passionately motivated by climate change was once something of an anomaly. But that is changing as President Donald Trump has systematically unraveled the nation's environmental regulations at the same time that Americans have witnessed a series of climate-related crises: fires in the Amazon, hurricanes that churn with increasing fury and record-shattering temperatures and weather events across the US… A Quinnipiac University poll in late August found that 56% of registered voters nationwide believe climate change is an emergency…  In a new high since Quinnipiac began asking the question in 2015, 67% of voters said the US is not doing enough to address climate change.”
Maeve Reston, CNN

Many note that “Biden’s appearance at the town hall was less than impressive. He repeatedly interrupted himself to jump from one thought to another. When he was asked whether he would ban fossil fuel exports—an issue on which other candidates had disparate but relatively clear views—Biden instantly pivoted to a long account of his efforts on behalf of high-speed rail. Even the shallow matter of what we now call ‘optics’ went badly for Biden.”
Jeff Greenfield, Politico

Regarding Bernie’s comment about abortion, “It’s important to note that even reversing the Mexico City policy doesn’t mean U.S. funds can go to funding abortions. Congress in 1974 banned the use of U.S. funds for abortion and abortion-related services, and that law remains on the books. The Mexico City policy simply expanded on that to prevent the funding of groups that provide such services — even if the money doesn’t go directly to abortion services…

“Sanders’s 2016 campaign said he opposes that 1974 law, known as the Helms amendment. So it’s fair to say that he supports federal funding for foreign abortion services. (Hillary Clinton did, too.) But saying he supports that policy in order to ‘abort poor babies for population control’ is taking things to another level. One can support federal funding for abortions domestically, for instance, without believing it should be used specifically to stop population growth… when describing specifically how he would support combating global population growth, Sanders only mentioned birth control. People may infer things from the fact that he invoked ‘reproductive decisions’ in his answer, but he never said he thinks the United States should support abortion as a means of population control.”
Aaron Blake, Washington Post

Some suggest that Congress “remove Trump from office, so that he cannot abuse incumbency to subvert the electoral process, but let the American people make the judgment on whether or not he gets a second term… Removing Trump from office for the remainder of his term would disable him from abusing presidential power again and protect the integrity of the electoral process from inappropriate interference. At the same time, letting him run for a second term would permit the American electorate to decide whether Trump, despite his attempt to subvert the system, should have another chance… Decoupling removal from disqualification lowers the stakes and changes the constitutional calculus. As long as Trump can run again, Republicans cannot hide behind a claim that they are [the] ones protecting voter choice by opposing impeachment.”
Edward B. Foley, Politico

From the Right

The right is critical of the solutions offered and in particular Bernie Sanders’s remarks about abortion.

From the Right

The right is critical of the solutions offered and in particular Bernie Sanders’s remarks about abortion.

“Yes, climate change is real… But too often, liberal Democrats assume socialist command and control approaches – mixed with federal jobs guarantees and universal health care – are the only solutions… We could debate the merits of a socialist ‘Green New Deal’ takeover of the entire U.S. economy – a debate destined to go nowhere. Or we could have a serious debate on climate solutions [such as increased use of natural gas, nuclear energy, and hydropower], informed by political and technical realism and economic competitiveness – and get somewhere.”
Rich Powell, Fox News

“Democratic presidential candidates argued on Wednesday evening, during a seven-hour event broadcast on CNN, that they would stop at nothing to stop climate change… Harris would change dietary guidelines to reduce red-meat consumption. She would ban fracking. She would ban offshore drilling. She’d even ban plastic straws. What about increasing production of nuclear power, which doesn’t produce carbon dioxide emissions?… In short, 2020 Democrats argued that there is an existential environmental crisis, but we can’t be bothered to find the appropriate dirt heap under which we would dump the waste of a carbon-free energy source already in existence that actually works.”
John McCormack, National Review

“It’s really one of the tragedies of our age that so many anxious young people have been brainwashed into believing they live on the cusp of dystopia when, in fact, they’re in the middle of a golden age — an era with less war, sickness, poverty, and suffering than any in history… And though the most effective way to lower carbon emissions — the one that allows us to outpace signees of the vaunted Paris Accord — has been fracking, most Democrats, it seems, now oppose that as well… Americans use about 19.96 million barrels of petroleum products per day. To replace it, we’d have to create millions of unproductive taxpayer-funded jobs, layer every inch of available land with solar panels and windmills, and then pray to Gaia that every day is simultaneously sunny and windy. All for the low cost of $93 trillion.”
David Harsanyi, The Federalist

"Assuming mainstream climate science modeling, eliminating all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions tomorrow would avert only 0.034°C—0.062°C of global warming in 2050. Such a tiny change, which is too small to be reliably detected, would have no discernible effect on weather patterns, crop yields, or polar bear populations… How do such vanishingly small climate benefits justify the enormous costs?"
Marlo Lewis, Fox News

Regarding Sanders, “To say that overpopulation is a problem, and then to immediately call for more funding of abortion in, say, Africa, is a rather startling position to take — maybe even ‘courageous,’ in the sense that it is risky to appear so callous [and] cruel. Sanders may have meant something else. He seemed to believe the Mexico City policy curtailed access to contraceptives. (It does not.) He spoke the language of autonomy. So maybe Sanders sees himself as just wanting to empower poor women to control their fertility. Even so, Western enthusiasm for reducing the number of African babies has always had racist and colonialist undertones.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

Sanders isn’t alone in linking abortion rights to concerns about the climate. Some of the most ardent abortion-rights activists routinely lament the choice to have children, on the grounds that doing so is bad for the environment… Pushing birth control and abortion as a means of lowering population growth, and specifically of eliminating ‘undesirable’ populations, is not a new tactic on the part of progressives. Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, for instance, was a pioneer in the eugenics movement’s effort to provide contraception to minority communities, largely to limit the continued growth of what she deemed unwanted populations. Sanger put a fine point on this in her writings: ‘The feebleminded are notoriously prolific in reproduction.’”
Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review

“We’ve been hearing the same dire warnings about the catastrophe of population growth for 50 years now, with the crash always just ten years away. Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb in 1968 and predicted massive wars and famine by the early 1980s… China imposed a brutal and corrupt one-child policy for decades, forcing mothers to have abortions and encouraging a sex-selection process that has left the country with far too many single men of reproductive age. It has warped their social structure while covering up the real problems China faces — government oppression rather than population control.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

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