President Obama’s climate speech Saturday got plenty of press for its lengthy assault on global-warming denial. But what excited an aggressive wing of the climate movement were just a few cryptic words elsewhere in the commencement address at the University of California (Irvine):
“You need to invest in what helps, and divest from what harms.”
Activists pushing universities and other institutions to dump their financial holdings in coal and oil-and-gas companies believe they heard an unmistakable White House endorsement. “People are thrilled about it,” Jamie Henn of 350.org, one of the groups leading the divestment movement, said of Obama’s comments Saturday.
“Students will be taking the president’s message to their college presidents and boards of trustees,” he said of the fossil-fuel-divestment campaign, which also includes the Energy Action Coalition, the Responsible Endowments Coalition, the Sierra Student Coalition, and groups on specific campuses. The founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, a high-profile climate activist, has been a major divestment advocate.
It’s Obama’s second apparent nod to the idea. During a Georgetown University speech rolling out his second-term climate plan last June, Obama was even briefer, saying “Invest. Divest.”
The “invest” part of Obama’s speeches is unremarkable. Obama’s climate and energy speeches are often loaded with advocacy of federal support for green-energy development.
If Obama’s endorsing the fossil-fuel-divestment movement, however, it’s a noteworthy stance from a White House that has applauded booming U.S. oil-and-gas production that’s undertaken by some of the very same companies that activists target in their campaign.
Endorsing the campaign, which draws inspiration from the 1970s and 1980s movement urging divestment from apartheid South Africa, would also be a return to Obama’s earliest political roots.
In remarks in South Africa last year when the now-deceased Nelson Mandela was gravely ill, Obama recalled that his first speech, in 1981, was as an Occidental College student at a rally demanding the school’s divestment from the apartheid regime.
But were Obama’s brief “divest” comments Saturday really a dog whistle for the fossil-fuel-divestment crowd? The White House won’t say what, exactly, Obama meant on Saturday.
In an email exchange Monday morning, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich declined to elaborate on the comment. “I don’t have a parsing of the statement for you,” he said.
Obama’s latest comment drew attack from the right Monday afternoon, when Stanley Kurtz wrote on the conservative National Review magazine’s website that Obama had “declared war” on the nation’s conventional energy industry.
Kurtz urged the press to “force Obama into the open” by pushing the White House to expand on the remarks, and he similarly called on Capitol Hill Republicans to press for clarification.
Activists, however, already see a clear signal of support for their campaign, which generally targets investment by pension funds, universities, foundations, and others in the 200 largest fossil-fuel companies.
The divestment campaign in recent years has won various levels of divestment commitments — or at least recommendations to investment managers — from about two-dozen cities, roughy a dozen higher-education institutions, and others.
The highest-profile university has been Stanford, which in May said it would no longer invest in coal-mining companies.
Henn said Obama’s remarks will provide the movement with momentum to pressure other institutions.
“I think students will see that as a clear sign that the [Obama] administration is on their side in terms of challenging their universities to take this step,” said Henn, one of the cofounders of 350.org.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”