John Kerry Responds To Sarah Palin

John Kerry has responded to Sarah Palin’s op-ed on cap-and-trade at Huffington Post. Here is just a portion:

Around the world, the effects are already being felt. The Himalayan glaciers, source for almost all the major rivers of India and China, are shrinking, putting the future water resources of billions of people in doubt. Shifting weather patterns may turn the American “breadbasket” into a dustbowl. And stronger storms and rising sea levels can devastate coastal communities across our country and around the world.

All of these effects (and many, many more) will have a devastating effect on our economy and threaten our national security. For example, just imagine the situation in India and Pakistan if the rivers on which the region depends for agriculture dry up. Imagine how much worse the problems of poverty, terrorism, and instability would become in that situation.

Reading Gov Palin’s op-ed too often it sounds like the only threats America faces are solely economic. But that’s not what our intelligence experts and military leaders tell us. General Anthony Zinni, a rock-jawed military man and former commander of our forces in the Middle East who is tough to peg as any sort of climate alarmist warned that without action — and I quote — “we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll.”

We can’t afford to ignore this reality — in an op-ed column or in our public debate over an entire piece on legislation designed to meet these challenges. An op-ed on Guantanamo policy that fails to acknowledge the existence of terrorists would not be taken seriously. Neither should an op-ed on energy reform that fails to mention the irrefutable reality of climate change.

The Palin Energy Policy Controversy

Sarah Palin has an op-ed in The Washington Post on cap-and-trade which, as many other bloggers have already noted, manages to avoid any actual discussion of global warming and climate change. It is hardly worth commenting on the weakness of her argument (especially as it is pretty much the standard line from the right). There is additional controversy here with regards to guessing who actually wrote it. Ezra Klein believes she had a ghost writer:

It’s probably a bit kind to say that Sarah Palin “wrote” this. There are no words in all capital letters. There are no sports metaphors. There is nothing at all like “*((Gotta put First Things First))*.” The stylistic and grammatical tics on display in last week’s speech are totally absent. Sarah Palin signed her name to this. Or at least let someone else do so.

Jonathan Chait sees this as true Palin:

The op-ed was clearly written by Palin herself. It has that 9th grade, five paragraph essay style along with random bits of right-wing jargon sprinkled throughout in appropriate contexts. It is best read if you imagine that some of the lines were written to be delivered with winks…

You betcha!

Seymour Hersh Was Right–Dick Cheney Really Was Setting Up Assasination Ring

Back in March Seymour Hersh was quoted as accusing Dick Cheney of operating a secret assassination ring. There was some skepticism from the right as to the validity of this charge but it turns out that Hersh was correct. The New York Times reports:

Since 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency has developed plans to dispatch small teams overseas to kill senior Qaeda terrorists, according to current and former government officials.

The plans remained vague and were never carried out, the officials said, and Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, canceled the program last month.

Officials at the spy agency over the years ran into myriad logistical, legal and diplomatic obstacles. How could the role of the United States be masked? Should allies be informed and might they block the access of the C.I.A. teams to their targets? What if American officers or their foreign surrogates were caught in the midst of an operation? Would such activities violate international law or American restrictions on assassinations overseas?

Yet year after year, according to officials briefed on the program, the plans were never completely shelved because the Bush administration sought an alternative to killing terror suspects with missiles fired from drone aircraft or seizing them overseas and imprisoning them in secret C.I.A. jails.

Mr. Panetta scuttled the program, which would have relied on paramilitary teams, shortly after the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center recently informed him of its existence. The next day, June 24, he told the two Congressional Intelligence Committees that the plan had been hidden from lawmakers, initially at the instruction of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The program was designed in the frantic weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks when President George W. Bush signed a secret order authorizing the C.I.A. to capture or kill operatives of Al Qaeda around the world. To be able to kill Osama bin Laden or his top deputies wherever they might be — even in cities or countries far from a war zone — struck top agency officials as an urgent goal, according to people involved in the discussions.

But in practice, creating and training the teams proved difficult.

“It sounds great in the movies, but when you try to do it, it’s not that easy,” a former intelligence official said. “Where do you base them? What do they look like? Are they going to be sitting around at headquarters on 24-hour alert waiting to be called?”

In theory I might be willing to accept assassination of top al Qaeda leaders considering the unconventional war we are engaged in. In reality, as we find out more about the conduct of the Bush administration, we cannot trust them with such a program. Even if we could justify the use of assassination under these circumstances, there is no excuse from keeping such a program secret from Congress.

It would be interesting to see the extent of their hit list, as well as the locations they were operating. I can’t imagine conservative (or other Americans) tolerating it if a European country was sending operatives into the United States to assassinate suspected enemies.

Americans Want Free Lunch on Health Care

While some news reports suggests that health reform might be stalled, a new Gallup poll shows Americans support enacting health care reform by 56 percent to 33 percent. The catch is that they are more reluctant to pay for it.

The Obama administration often states that health care reform will serve two goals–improving access and reducing cost. I have been skeptical of the claims of cutting costs, with some of the measures likely to increase costs initially. The poll shows that when choosing these priorities 52 percent consider reducing costs more important while 42% prefer improving access.

I would suggest a third goal to promote health care reform–improving security. Besides the approximately 100 million who are now uninsured or under-insured, others who currently do have health care are at risk of losing coverage if they either lose their job or if they develop an expensive medical problem which the insurance companies would prefer not to pay for.

Soldier Tries To Avoid Deployment to Afghanistan Claiming Obama Not Legally Commander-in-Chief

I can’t blame the guy for not wanting to go to Afghanistan, but this is a poor argument:

U.S. Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, set to deploy to Afghanistan, says he shouldn’t have to go.

His reason?

Barack Obama was never eligible to be president because he wasn’t born in the United States.

Cook further states he “would be acting in violation of international law by engaging in military actions outside the United States under this President’s command. … simultaneously subjecting himself to possible prosecution as a war criminal by the faithful execution of these duties.”

In the 20-page document — filed July 8 with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia — the California-based Taitz asks the court to consider granting his client’s request based upon Cook’s belief that Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and is therefore ineligible to serve as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Cook’s lawyer, Orly Taitz, who has also challenged the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency in other courts, filed a request last week in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order and status as a conscientious objector for his client.

Actually, Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961, two years after it became a state.

Orly Taitz has been one of the driving forces behind the “Birther” movement which claims that Obama is not an American citizen.  Considering that several attempts at legal action to block Obama from taking the presidency failed, it seems pretty foolish to use such a claim in another court case.