Guest: Climate/energy reporter David Roberts of Vox; Also: Witless Whitaker's remarkable House Judiciary testimony...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2019, 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast, thanks in no small part to a new progressive class of Congress members, general calls for a "Green News Deal" are finally beginning to take some shape, as an official proposal was introduced in Congress on Thursday. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

But, first up today, some of the remarkable testimony this afternoon from the nation's wildly unqualified top law enforcement official. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker answered and/or evaded questions in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Friday, as the new Democratic majority sought to learn whether he discussed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe with the President before or after being appointed to temporarily replace former AG Jeff Sessions, and whether he has interfered in any way with the investigation he currently oversees as Acting AG. Whitaker's remarkably evasive and, at times, arrogantly obnoxious testimony included remarks that lit up the hearing room with laughter as he attempted to inform the Committee's Chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), that his five minutes of questioning had expired!

Then, we're joined by one of the nation's smartest climate and energy journalists, DAVID ROBERTS of Vox.com, to discuss Thursday's unveiling of a non-binding Green New Deal resolution [PDF] in Congress, as introduced by progressive freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and veteran Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), along with a host of Democratic co-sponsors.

Roberts breaks down the broad proposal for a "10-year national mobilization" to grow thousands, if not millions of jobs by transitioning the nation toward 100% "clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources". (That language, he notes, allows the debate between climate hawks on the left over nuclear energy to put off for a while.)

The measure --- modeled in scope after FDR's New Deal, LBJ's Great Society and even JFK's successful effort to send a man to the moon and back in less than a decade --- also includes a number of aspirational goals to help ensure "frontline and vulnerable communities" who face the worst impacts of climate change are also among the first beneficiaries of a national effort to tackle our increasingly dire global climate crisis.

Roberts details what the resolution --- the first to begin defining what a Green New Deal should actually look like --- calls for now and puts off until later (for example, how it will be paid for); how it places its focus on solving the problem while growing the economy, rather than on specific "markets and technologies" at the center of previous efforts to combat global warming; and how the introduction of the landmark resolution itself serves to force the issue to the top of matters to be litigated during the 2020 campaign. Already at least 6 current or potential Democratic Presidential candidates (Booker, Gillibrand, Harris, Warren, Sanders and Klobuchar) have indicated their support for the proposal.

"If you can solve the greatest challenge that's ever faced the species with a program that creates prosperity and creates jobs, and puts people to work, and gets the US back toward good-paying jobs, union-protected jobs, and does the same sort of middle-class creation that the original New Deal did, why wouldn't you do those together? Why wouldn't you do it all at once?," Roberts observes.

Rather than focus on schemes that might somehow bring so-called "conservatives" on board --- a tactic which has utterly failed in the past --- this new effort, he explains, appeals to voters to put pressure on their elected officials to support programs that a majority of Americans are behind.

"Dems, up until really recently, would have said, yes, you have to have some bipartisan support, there's no other way to get stuff passed," Roberts explains. But, he says, Trump has "stripped away all remaining pretense and made very clear [that] there just is no bipartisan cooperation to be had. It's getting farther away. Environmentalists have been begging, watering down policies, watering down their rhetoric, tiptoeing around, echoing this fiscal responsibility BS that they hear on the Washington Post editorial page, trying so hard to lure a few conservatives over. And it just isn't happening."

"So, the other take is, stop watering down your policies. Be up front and clear about the scale and severity of the problem, and the scale of the solutions, and offer a solution that engages people and that people can play a role in --- get a job from, make money from, be excited about --- then you give it political momentum. So instead of persuading Republicans into going on, you frighten them into coming along. You show that this is a giant political snowball that's rolling downhill, gathering weight, gathering momentum, and if you get in the way and push the other way, you'll get crushed. That's how you persuade a politician. Not through the sweet light of reason. It's fear. A movement that is strong enough that you will be scared to buck it."

Of course, this is about both policy and politics. So, we also discuss the amusing, over-the-top freak-out now on display from the Right, with Fox "News" and other fossil-fuel industry propagandists and apologists falling over themselves to both slam and completely misrepresent what is otherwise a series of very popular, populist, progressive and long-overdue ideas to help lift the economy, wages, the middle class and, yes, help save the world in the bargain.

"The full-on, 100% ranting, 'It's socialism!', red-faced BS --- that response is automatic to anything. So what Dems should take from this is not 'Oh no! There's going to be rightwing backlash!' Of course there is! There's rightwing backlash to literally anything you try. And it's always maximal. It's always pegged in the red. So why not, given that, be as ambitious as you want to be? You're going to get the same reaction no matter what you do, so just go for it."

There is, of course, lots more where that came from on today's program. Enjoy!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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