The League of Conservation Voters’ newly released National Environmental Scorecard underscores what’s become practical wisdom in Washington: Environmental leadership in Congress is divided starkly along partisan lines.
In a year President Obama has taken sweeping executive actions on the environment, House Republicans had the lowest average score since LCV began putting out the scorecard in 1970. Scores are based on a scale of 0 to 100 and calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes cast by the total number of votes tallied (for more on this, see LCV’s methodology). Average House Republican scores have dropped steadily in recent years, from an average of 17 percent in 2008, to 10 percent in 2012, down to the low average of 5 percent for 2013.
It’s considerably lower even than what congressional Republicans averaged during the Gingrich revolution in the 1990s. In the four years Newt Gingrich was House speaker, the average Republican score was 21.93 percent, according to LCV’s records.
This year’s scorecard looked at 13 Senate votes and 28 House votes, selected by leaders of 20 different green organizations as the major environmental votes in the first session of the 113th Congress. Overall, neither party came out looking particularly green. House members averaged 57 percent approving on environmental votes, while senators averaged 43 percent — both failing marks, by grade-school standards.
The cleavage between the parties is especially visible within Senate party leadership, where Democrats earned an average score of 98 percent to Republicans’ 9 percent. In the House, Democratic leaders earned an average of 86 percent to Republicans’ 6 percent.
“This scorecard is a disturbing reflection of the extent to which the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives continues to be controlled by tea-party climate-change deniers with an insatiable appetite for attacks on the environment and public health,” wrote the report’s authors.
A recent Pew Poll underscores that sentiment. The national survey conducted in October found just 25 percent of tea-party Republicans say there is solid evidence of global warming, compared with 61 percent of non-tea-party Republicans who say the same.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."