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Posted on on September 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

We had by now 4 Panel interviews/discussions with at least 15 Candidates for representing the Republican Party in the 2016 US Presidential elections. Of a total of 9 hours – only last night we heard finally the first question on Climate Change. The discussion of this very important subject went on for just three minutes.

The question, though, was framed mentioning a Republican Holy Cow: Ronald Reagan’s own secretary of state, George Shultz, has advocated for some kind of action on climate change, just as an “insurance policy.”

Tapper, the moderator, asked, why not follow Reagan’s example, and take out an insurance policy to respond to what scientists overwhelmingly believe will be devastating impacts of climate change?

Three candidates responded: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

All three argued that nothing should be done by the American government to combat the problem, and Christie even said that he “respectfully disagrees” with Reagan’s secretary of state (gasp!). But all three also backed up their argument using a factually murky claim: that government efforts to combat climate change won’t do anything to solve the problem.

Rubio said that the EPA’s regulations on carbon emissions from coal plants “will do absolutely nothing to change our climate.”

Christie said he agreed, that regulations “will not do a thing to lower the rise of the sea … [or] solve the drought here in California.”

Walker was more measured, saying “the Obama administration has said will have marginal impact on climate change.”

Republicans have loved this argument lately, seemingly because it’s moderate — it falls between denying climate change is happening, and admitting that anything should be done about the problem. The idea is that regulations to limit carbon emissions won’t help solve climate change on their own, but they will cost coal jobs and raise Americans’ electricity bills. So why do it?

The argument fails for a few reasons. As Vox’s David Roberts points out, it’s just untrue — carbon regulations will make a difference in fighting climate change, albeit a small one. In addition, unilaterally solving global warming was never the intention of carbon regulations. The intention was to do our part, thereby motivating other countries to do theirs. And our part is especially important — Rubio tried to deflect blame to China during the debate, saying they are the number one emitter of carbon in the world. But the U.S. has contributed more to global warming than any other country — even China.

But the candidates on Wednesday’s debate stage did not acknowledge this, nor did they acknowledge the devastating personal and economic effects that climate change is expected to have, and is already having. Nor did they mention the numerous studies that have shown that the EPA’s climate regulations will also have net economic benefits, due to jobs created in the renewable energy and technology industries and a healthier population.

Republicans seemingly never consider suffering, concentrated in but not confined to the world’s poorer countries. Unless we’re willing to accept that suffering — we have to do our part unrelated to the effect on the US proper – but do these Republicans ever think of the Other?

Then there was Senator Rand Paul who was the greatest UNREPORTED surprise to us in this Wednesday’s debate. ?
The Kentucky senator cut through the “childish, silly back-and-forth” to present reasonable alternatives on foreign policy, drug reform, and mass incarceration declares John Nichols of “THE NATION” while Republican Washington Times declares he should not even have been on the panel – Ha Ha!

Paul did not get involved in the Climate question directly but had a lot to say on National Policy that leads to the Climate issue.

? “I’ve made my career as an opponent of the Iraq War,” declared the senator, who reminded the crowd that “The Iraq War backfired and did not help us.”
Really – all others seemed not to have heard of the GW Bush Iraq for oil adventure.

“I’m not sending our sons and our daughters back to Iraq.” —Rand Paul

Those lines did not earn Paul a lot of applause Wednesday night. This Grand Old Party does not well remember—nor respect—the wisdom of Dwight Eisenhower’s warnings about a military-industrial complex or the example of “old-right” Republicans who opposed military adventurism.

But Paul displayed a steady awareness of that history. His great contribution to the debate was to offer an alternative to the bombast and bluster that came Wednesday night from many of the other contenders—and that, frankly, comes on a regular basis from prominent figures who position themselves across the political spectrum.

The senator warned, “”If you want boots on the ground, and you want them to be our sons and daughters, you’ve got 14 other choices. There will always be a Bush or Clinton for you if you want to go back to war in Iraq.”

While others spoke of putting boots back on the ground in the Middle East, he dissented, saying, “The first war was a mistake and I am not sending our sons and daughters back to Iraq.”

Paul’s dissents extended beyond objections regarding the Iraq imbroglio—as was appropriate during the course of a debate that produced plenty of objectionable statements from the crowd of Republican front runners and pretenders.

Early in the evening, several of the contenders were stumbling over one another in express their readiness to rip up the Iran nuclear agreement, with Senator Ted Cruz trumping them all by promising, “If I am elected president, on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.”

A few minutes later, in a break from what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie referred to as “this childish back-and-forth” with Trump and Fiorina over who was the worse CEO, Fiorina said there would be no back-and-forth with the president of Russia. “Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t talk to him at all,” she announced. “We’ve talked way too much to him.”

This is where Paul really stepped up.

Noting the location—the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California—Paul said with regard to the “wouldn’t talk to him” line: “Well, think if Reagan had said that during the Cold War? We continued to talk with the Russians throughout the Cold War which [was a] much more significant [challenge than] where we are now.”

Paul continued:

Should we continue to talk with Iran? Yes. Should we cut up the [Iran nuclear] agreement immediately? That’s absurd. Wouldn’t you want to know if they complied? Now, I’m going to vote against the agreement because I don’t think there’s significant leverage, but it doesn’t mean that I would immediately not look at the agreement, and cut it up without looking to see if whether or not Iran has complied.

The same goes with China. I don’t think we need to be rash, I don’t think we need to be reckless, and I think we need to leave lines of communication open. Often we talk about whether we should be engaged in the world, or disengaged in the world, and I think this is an example of some who want to isolate us, actually, and not be engaged.

We do need to be engaged with Russia. It doesn’t mean we give them a free pass, or China a free pass, but, to be engaged, to continue to talk. We did throughout the Cold War, and it would be a big mistake not to do it here.

There was a similar moment when the question of intervention in Syria arose.

The Kentuckian said:

I think this gets to the point of wisdom on when to intervene and when we shouldn’t. Had we bombed Assad at the time, like President Obama wanted, and like Hillary Clinton wanted and many Republicans wanted, I think ISIS would be in Damascus today. I think ISIS would be in charge of Syria had we bombed Assad.

Sometimes both sides of the civil war are evil, and sometimes intervention sometimes makes us less safe. This is real the debate we have to have in the Middle East.

Every time we have toppled a secular dictator, we have gotten chaos, the rise of radical Islam, and we’re more at risk. So, I think we need to think before we act, and know most interventions, if not a lot of them in the Middle East, have actually backfired on us.

There are plenty of issues on which Rand Paul is wrong. He is not so steadily anti-war as his father, former congressman and 2012 presidential contender Ron Paul, or as “old-right” Republicans like North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones Jr.

But I also heard him comment that making the US independent of Mideast Oil would have helped avoid the need for those interventions. Even The Nation did not pick up that comment that in effect leads as well to independence of oil in the economy and thus to help on the Climate issue. Let us hope, that if Rand Paul stays in this race he might develop further his policy points – the only ray of sanity we picked up from these Republican Contenders.



Climate: These House Republicans Are Joining The Pope And Calling For Climate Action

by Samantha Page,…
Sep 16, 2015 2:52pm

Ten Republican representatives have reportedly signed on to a call for action on climate change, a move that’s a dramatic departure from their caucus, but broadly in line with the views of the American public.

Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) will sponsor the resolution,
which is expected to be released Thursday, ahead of Pope Francis’ Congressional speech next week. The pope is expected to specifically address climate change while in Washington.

“This is a call for ac­tion to study how hu­mans are impacting our environment and to look for consensus on areas where we can take ac­tion to mit­ig­ate the risks and bal­ance our im­pacts,” Gib­son told Na­tion­al Journ­al. ClimateWire first reported on the resolution.

Gibson has said the resolution will have three key elements: recognizing that human activity contributes to global warming, acknowledging future impacts, and committing to address greenhouse gas emissions in “economically viable ways,” ClimateWire reported.

Like 31 percent of Congress and 22 percent of the general public, Gibson is Catholic. More than half of the resolution’s confirmed co-sponsors are also Catholic. The pope has been an outspoken advocate for addressing climate change and environmental protection.

As a Catholic and a former military officer with 24 years of service, Gibson is particularly well-suited to be a Republican speaking out on climate change. The military has repeatedly identified climate change as a national security issue and has itself begun broadly transitioning to renewable energy.

Nearly all the Republican presidential candidates have downplayed the ramifications or outright denied the existence of anthropogenic climate change, but polls suggest the caucus is out of step with the American public and its constituents.

In a recent poll in New Hampshire — one of the first primary states — half of the likely Republican primary voters said they support the EPA’s current plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants. Swing state voters came down roughly 2-1 in favor of acting on climate change in a July Quinnipiac poll.

A co-sponsor of the resolution, freshman House member Chris Curbelo (R-FL), has been outspoken in the need to address climate change. Curbelo has noted that being on the right side of the issue will be critical in attracting young voters to the Grand Ol’ Party. Curbelo is also Catholic, along with four other representatives that reportedly signed the call to action: Pat Mee­han and Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Richard Hanna and Elise Stefanik of New York. Ileana Ros-Le­htin­en of Florida, Robert Dold of Illinois, Dave Reich­ert of Wash­ing­ton, and Ry­an Cos­tello of Pennslyvania will also co-sponsor.

It is only in recent years that climate change has become a mostly partisan issue in Congress. In 2008, Republican candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sought to address anthropogenic climate change in his campaign. More recently, though, Congressional Republicans have made stopping the Clean Power Plan and undermining international climate treaties a priority.

UPDATE SEP 17, 2015 9:56 AM

Gibson introduced the Environmental Stewardship Resolution on Thursday morning. “All too often, the conversation about appropriate and balanced environmental stewardship gets caught up in partisan politics. Yet, this conversation is key to the preservation of our great country for generations to come, as important as ensuring we have fiscally responsible policies to secure our future,” Gibson said in a statement. “For that reason, I believe the most important first step forward is recognizing that this is also a fundamentally conservative issue, and finding common ground on how to address it.”

The resolution calls for more scientific studies, modernizing energy transmission and expanding renewable energy sources, and promoting investment in new technologies.

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) also cosponsored the resolution, bringing the total to 11.

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