Thursday, June 18, 2015

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and GOP climate change deniers face off against Pope Francis: "things are going to get interesting, right about now" ... by gimleteye

Why is this day like no other day?

This is the day a Catholic pope unequivocally states that climate change denial is a moral offense against humanity, and in so doing, puts the principals in the Republican Party on the wrong side of the equation.

Climate change deniers in the Republican Party are like strict Constitutionalists: they pick and choose what they want by divine right entwined with American exceptionalism.

The conservative standard bearer, William Kristol, hit this trigger point in a New York Times report of a recent meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Kristol, said, “the conservative belief in American exceptionalism is akin to Zionism.” (NY Times, "For GOP, Support for Israel Becomes New Litmus Test", March 27 2015)

Kristol is wrong. American exceptionalism is tied to faith. Zionism was, at first, entirely secular. American exceptionalism is wedded to religious certainty that a Christian God bestowed both human talent and ingenuity unconditionally on man. Furthermore, to the radical right American exceptionalism is rooted to patriarchal faith in natural resource exploitation by private corporations and shareholders-- on public lands as the case may be.

"We know what is best for you," dovetails with how Jeb Bush governed Florida for eight years. During his two terms, whether shaming the husband of Terry Schiavo or plowing subdivisions into Everglades wetlands, Jeb Bush's mind had been decided before the facts were in just like it has been decided on global warming: the Pope is wrong.

The Republican message machinery is churning, trying to come up with the most palatable response to Pope Francis. Here is what Jeb Bush said, "I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope,” the former Florida governor said. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.”

So in other words, the "political realm" doesn't make us better as people, that's the role of religion? The convoluted logic makes no sense.

If there ever was an economic force in the Western world, it has been the Catholic Church. And for Jeb Bush to even hint that the Church should not be "political" is to whistle past the history, in the past thirty years, of the influence of evangelical Christians in American politics.

Put simply, faith has been the animating core of American politics -- particularly Republican politics -- since Ronald Reagan.

Now, Jeb Bush and his Republican colleagues seeking the presidential nomination want to blow off a Catholic pope who has done more, in a short period of time, to put the teachings of Jesus back in the forefront of economic fairness and equity for all the world's people, not just "exceptional" Americans? Read the UK Guardian on the money machine driving US exceptionalism and climate change denial, below.

"Things are going to get very interesting", in the words of Bob Dylan, "right about now".

Secretive donors gave US climate denial groups $125m over three years
UK Guardian

Funds allocated to organisations lobbying against Obama’s climate bill and working to undermine rules to reduce carbon pollution, tax records show

The secretive funders behind America’s conservative movement directed around $125m (£82m) over three years to groups spreading disinformation about climate science and committed to wrecking Barack Obama’s climate change plan, according to an analysis of tax records.

The amount is close to half of the anonymous funding disbursed to rightwing groups, underlining the importance of the climate issue to US conservatives.

The anonymous cash flow came from two secretive organisations – the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund – that have been called the “Dark Money ATM” of the conservative movement.

The funds, which when channelled through the two organisations cannot be traced to individual donors, helped build a network of thinktanks and activist groups. These worked to defeat climate bills in Congress and are mobilising against Environmental Protection Agency rules to reduce carbon pollution from power plants which are due to be finalised this summer. In many cases, the anonymous cash makes up the vast majority of funding received by beneficiaries – more than comes openly from the fossil fuel industry.

“The conservative thinktanks are really the spearhead of the conservative assault on climate change,” said Riley Dunlap, a sociologist at Oklahoma State University who studies environmental politics. “They write books, put out briefings and open editorials, bring in contrarian scientists ... They are an immense megaphone that amplifies very, very minority voices.”

Organisations funded through the secretive donors operations are also working to roll back measures promoting wind and solar power and block planning for future sea-level rise in state capitals.

To trace how the money was spent, the Guardian obtained annual tax filings made to the US Internal Revenue Service by the Donor’s Trust and Donor’s Capital Fund and cross-checked grantees with organisations associated with the climate change counter-movement.

In 2011, 42% of funding, or $35.7m, went to groups promoting climate denial and opposed to environmental regulations, according to the tax filings.

In the last presidential elections in 2012, when Obama fended off a challenge from Mitt Romney, that figure jumped to 51% of the funds directed through Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund – a total of just over $49m.

In 2013, the last year for which tax records are available, 46% of anonymous funding to conservative groups through the two Donors channels, or just over $41 million was spent that way.

Robert Brulle, a professor at Drexel University who first exposed the conservative network of think tanks and activist groups of the climate change counter-movement, said those funds helped hone opposition to regulations.

“It is a well-oiled, complicated, cultural and political machine of the right wing of the conservative movement,” he said.

In 2013, the two organisations took in just over $152m, distributing $90m to a constellation of groups. However, the ultimate sources of those funds were untraceable, an important consideration for companies or individuals wanting to avoid bad publicity for rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change.

“All these corporations that were getting bad press realised they can still fund conservative thinktanks,” Dunlap said. “Exxon or BP can still fund one of these things while doing all these great things on climate change to reduce emissions etc.”

Whitney Ball, the chief executive of Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, said the funds were set up to “promote liberty and help like-minded donors preserve their charitable intent”. She said that grants were made at the request of account holders, not the Donors Trust or Donors Capital Fund. “Our role is to ensure that recommended grants are to IRS-approved public charities, and we require that the charities do not rely on significant amounts of revenue from government sources,” she said.

Almost all of the thinktanks and activist groups on the Donors rolls work on a broad range of topics – and in most cases there was no way of tracking what portion of funding went to climate change related work.

But all of the groups have a record of rejecting climate science and fighting environmental regulations.

“You don’t have to be an outright science denier to try to prevent action on climate change,” Brulle said.

“You’ve got gradation – it’s not real; it’s real but we are not sure how much humans are contributing to it; I am not a scientist. There are all sorts of strategies.”

Funds sent through Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund were allocated to 92 organisations that deny climate change or oppose environmental regulations – but only 24 organisations got donations of $1m or more over the past three years.

By far, the biggest overall beneficiary was the Franklin Centre for Government and Public Integrity, which received $22m over the three years. According to its website, the centre “trains and supports journalists working to detect and expose corruption and incompetence in government at the state and local levels”. It runs a network of online conservative websites in state capitals which are generally hostile to clean energy and pro-coal.

In 2011, the anonymous funding through Donors Trust amounted to 95% of Franklin’s budget, according to an investigation by the Centre for Public integrity.

Erik Telford, the president, denied that there was a conflict between the Franklin Centre’s watchdog mission, and its failure to disclose the ultimate source of its funds.

“As is the case with almost any news outlet in America, we have an editorial perspective, with a mission to expose government misdeeds, advance liberty, and look out for the taxpayers’ interest,” he said. “We welcome the support of citizens who believe in our mission, and afford them the right to privacy as established in the supreme court’s 1958 NAACP v Alabama decision.”

The Federalist Society, a networking group for conservative lawyers and justices which calls on states to reject the EPA authority to regulate carbon pollution, received $8.7m over the past three years.

Another top recipient, the State Policy Network, a network of ultra-conservative thinktanks, received a total of $8.2m over the last three years.

Thinktanks allied with the State Policy Network have worked with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a pro-business lobby, which has sought legislation to penalise homeowners who install solar panels.

The Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank whose climate expert opposes cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, took in $7.9m over three years. The Heartland Institute, which sent a delegation to Rome in April to try to upstage meetings between the Pope and the United Nations chief Ban Ki Moon on climate change, received $3.8m.

Another big beneficiary of the anonymous funds, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has received $4.3m over three years, claims on its website that climate change is its biggest programme.

“CEI questions global warming alarmism,” the website reads. Last year, CEI sued the White House over a video linking the chill Arctic blasts of the polar vortex to climate change. The CEI has also tried – unsuccessfully – to sue climate scientists.

The thinktank would not respond to requests for comment.

The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, whose communications director is Marc Morano, took $3.7m from donors in 2012 – its most ever. A year later, however, the organisation received $325,000.


Anonymous said...

Wondering if Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio will change course on climate change denial now that the pressure is on from the pope himself.

Anonymous said...

The Pope did NOT state it "unequivocally". It is merely his opinion.
The Pope only speaks Ex Cathedra on matters of faith and dogma.
This is his opinion and Catholics are not bound in any way to obey his comments.

Anonymous said...

Marco Rubio is not Catholic. He is now Evangelical. His children attend Catholic school as do others of diverse faiths
Because of the dismal state of our public high schools. He attends an evangelical church.

Anonymous said...

The last time a Pope spoke "Ex Cathedra" and Catholics must obey, was in 1950. Before that it was in 1854. On climate change,
as well as as in any other matter, he can say whatever he wishes and it is not binding on Catholics.

Anonymous said...

The Anon who referenced "the dismal state of our public schools" is taking a cheap shot. The stats bear out that Superintendent Carvalho has achieved great success in improving educational outcomes. Our public schools should no longer be considered anyone's whipping boy.

Anonymous said...

Our public high schools offer more AP courses than any private school could even dream about. My daughter was raised in Dade County Public Schools and she scored an 800 on the verbal section of the SAT. Many of her friends went onto Ivy League schools. My husband, also a grad from public high school in Miami, has many friends that are great successes in life. You can even take courses in Theology, but from a world perspective, not from a "I'm Christian, so I'm the best" perspective. I feel bad for Rubio's kids. He limits their minds.

Geniusofdespair said...


Anonymous said...

I love the excuses being made by and for the right wing, climate-change deniers. Excommunication would be too kind a fate.

Anonymous said...

If these deniers were as smart as they think they are, they would be creating companies that help the environment and make money that way instead of spending so much time fighting against what seems to be obvious to so many people.

Where do these deniers think that the brown haze that sits over most big cities is coming from if not from emissions of cars and factories, ergo man.

Anonymous said...

Marco Rubio Catholic? Mormon? Evangelical? Baptist? and possibly Hebrew? now that he is shaking down Norman. Marco make up your mind. Stop pimping religion and make a decision on which God's Camp you want to belong or is it Jesus Camp. Whatever! Even I am confuse.

Anonymous said...

FPL is straddling the gap: making money on pollution while hedging its bets with demonstration projects for solar and wind. These guys hate government regulations, but as soon as the government regulates, they find ways to make just as much money as they ever did. There should be Nuremberg type trials for the big polluters and money bags and political shills like Mitch McConnell.

Heike said...

Climate Change is serves theimplementation of Sustainable Development/UN Agenda 21 and with it the t removal of land ownership.Geo-Engineering had been illegally applied for decades to influence and change weather patterns.Is there a connection? I think so.