Michael Hastings’ 2012 Rolling Stone piece on the last U.S. prisoner in Afghanistan, Bowe Bergdahl, is worth looking back on, given that the Obama administration has made a successful if predictably politically controversial swap for his release. As CNN puts it: “Some fear the deal will encourage hostage-taking and open a new era in which the United States has to negotiate with terrorists. Others say the administration may have broken the law by failing to notify Congress that it was letting terror detainees free from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Still others — many of them Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers — are queasy about the whole thing because of the questions that continue to swirl around his disappearance and claims that he may have deserted his post.”
On the proposed EPA rules unveiled Monday: The National Republican Senatorial Committee said it would use them to launch political attacks in swing-seat states. Part of the strategy, of course: Automated calls hitting voice-mail boxes in Colorado, Virginia, Louisiana and Alaska. The regulations are “all part of [Obama’s] radical energy plan, which he said would make electricity rates ‘skyrocket,’ ” an already prepared call will say. “Tell [name of senator here] that higher gas prices and new EPA regulations just don’t make sense for [name of state here].” But the EPA’s new rules will have little effect on gas prices across the nation. And Colorado, which already has high renewable energy standards, is on course to easily meet the bar set by the EPA. Utility rates have not “skyrocketed here and they will likely grow lower as more renewable energy is added to the state’s portfolio. Via WashPo.
Washington Post ABC News poll: “70 percent of Americans back federal carbon limits on existing power plants, and 63 percent — including 51 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 71 percent of Democrats — said they would be willing to pay $20 a month in order to do so.”
John Cassidy at the New Yorker: “The ultimate fate of Obama’s plan will hinge on the 2016 Presidential election. For now, though, he has taken the initiative and put the onus on other countries that have used the lack of U.S. action as an excuse for doing nothing, or very little, to reduce their carbon emissions. China and India, for instance, are both building coal-fired power plants. If the new policy goes into effect, the United States, at long last, will be able to tell them “Do as I do” rather than just “Do as I say.” Since climate change is a global problem that can only be solved at the global level, that is an important step forward.”
The Republican battle to win a majority in the U.S. Senate is hobbled by the party brand, especially in swing states, reports the Washington Post. “The problem for [Oregon GOP candidate] Monica Wehby may be the GOP brand itself. She is campaigning as a different kind of Republican, with softer edges and a libertarian streak. But she has had difficulty distinguishing her candidacy from her party’s more strident national agenda.” In Colorado, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, Cory Gardner, has a long voting record that tracks with all the strident positions of his party. “Unless we conservatives learn how to compete and start winning in swing and blue states, we will never govern America,” Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican strategist, told the Post.
At Vox, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks to Ezra Klein about racism and reparations for black Americans and about journalism. He says journalists — people with the public ear — too often think of themselves like Senate aids. They talk about policy that can be passed by lawmakers. But, look, Frederick Douglas wrote about abolition long before anyone dreamed it was possible. We have to write about the country we live in, yes, but also about the country we want to live in, he says. At the 46-minute mark in the video at the link above, Klein, who has been playing it cool, legs crossed crisply and unmoving the whole time, turns cynical. Coates asked him about climate change. “Do you really want me to answer?” says Klein. “Yes.” So, Klein says he thinks addressing climate change is beyond us. It’s a sort of “weaponized problem,” he says: It hits on major weaknesses particular to the level of development we have reached as a species right now, which also happens to be the moment in which we have to act but can’t in order to save ourselves.
On this day in 1989, the Chinese government imposed martial law after the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests. A New Yorker slideshow of photos from on the ground in the square brings the standoff back to life.