Posts Tagged: Biggest

Dec 10

The Biggest Battles In This Year’s War On Christmas

Every year, there is a war that rages throughout the nation. The 76 percent of Americans who call themselves Christian face a nearly existential threat from the myriad forces that come together to conspire against them. This year, the battles raged on, and TPM was there to document them.

This, friends, is the story of the War on Christmas 2010.

The Frontlines: Capitol Hill

The 2010 War on Christmas found its epicenter, perhaps inexorably, in the nation’s capitol and the opening salvo was lobbed, unsurprisingly, by the Senate’s most powerful liberal.

Here’s what happened: The Congressional session was scheduled to end Dec. 17, giving senators and congressmen the two-week Christmas vacation that’s customary for all working Americans. But Senate Majority Leader Harry “The Grinch” Reid announced that he would keep the Senate in session as long as necessary to finish its lame duck business, including the week before and after Christmas.

Immediately, senators on the right-ly pious side of the aisle fought back. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) spat at the idea, calling it “disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians.” Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) called the idea of holding a vote on the START treaty near Christmas “sacrilegious.” “What’s going on here is just wrong,” he said. “This is the most sacred holiday for Christians.” It was a poignant, if incorrect, attack — as all good Christians (and quite a few Jews) know that Easter is the most sacred holiday for the Christians.

It wasn’t over though. Reid, who is Mormon, shot back from the Senate floor, “I don’t need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Sen. Kyl and DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means.” Vice President Joe Biden, Catholic, played tough: “Don’t tell me about Christmas. I understand Christmas.”

In the end, the START treaty passed and Congress went home Dec. 22, three days before Christmas.

The Home Front

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is a big fan of Christmas, and a big believer in the need to celebrate it as a commemoration of the birth of his savior, full stop. (He also believes that Jesus is protecting us from global warming.) So when his hometown of Tulsa announced it would hold a “holiday parade” instead of a Christmas parade, he put his foot down.

“I am hopeful that the good people of Tulsa and the city’s leadership will demand a correction to this shameful attempt to take Christ, the true reason for our celebration, out of the parade’s title,” he told the local paper. “Until the parade is again named the Christmas Parade of Lights, I will not participate.”

“You know, I would expect it some other places, but not here in Oklahoma,” he later told Fox News. “Last time I checked, Gretchen, Christmas meant the birth of Jesus Christ, and that’s what we’re celebrating, that’s what I’m celebrating, that’s what my 20 kids and grandkids are celebrating.”

The Holiday Parade of Lights was held just the same. As Tulsa World reported the next day: “Holiday parade is full of Christmas.”

The First Lady’s Stealth Campaign

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), who ran for governor this year, told TPM in September that his distrust of the Obamas comes from “little things:”

“I remember a little thing, like Ms. Obama saying she didn’t want any Christian artifacts in the White House during Christmas time,” Tancredo said. Another problem, Tancredo said, is “hosting Ramadan events there.”

The Obamas did host an iftar, a Ramadan dinner, at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama also decorated the residence with 19 Christmas trees, a 350-pound gingerbread house and thousands of Christmas decorations, many made with reusable materials to fit with the theme, “Simple Gifts.”

Outside Politics

We mustn’t forget that the Christmas battles also take place outside the spotlight, in the small towns and hamlets of the suburban countryside Take, for example, the events of Haymarket, Va., where a group of young men donned their grandmas’ best knits and started the Christmas Sweater Club.

They walked through the halls of Battlefield High School in their finery, singing Christmas carols and spreading Christmas cheer. And then it all fell apart.

As WUSA9 reported, the administration shut them down for, as one of the students put it, trying to “maliciously maim students with the intent to injure.” Their crime? Passing out miniature candy canes.

“They said the candy canes are weapons because you can sharpen them with your mouth and stab people with them,” another club member said, denying that the CSC would ever participate in such yuletide violence.

Although the boys were disciplined, their candy canes taken away, this story ends on a happy note. To paraphrase WUSA9, the boys, like the Whos down in Whoville, kept singing.


Dec 10

Clean air standards coming for America’s biggest carbon polluters

In a big step forward to protect Americans’ health and well-being, EPA announced today a two-year plan to set clean air standards for power plants and oil refineries, the two largest industrial sources of the dangerous pollution that drives global warming.

NRDC’s David Doniger has the story in this re-post:

Following on the heels of the Obama administration’s breakthrough clean car standards, EPA is now taking the next logical steps under the Clean Air Act and the Supreme Court’s landmark global warming decision in 2007.

EPA is doing precisely what is needed to protect our health and welfare at a time when some would prefer just to roll back the clock.  Clear pollution control standards based on available and affordable technology will also help these two industries plan future investments, fuel the economic recovery, and create jobs.

Power plants account for more than 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, more than any other industry.  Oil refineries clock in as the second largest source, with emissions equivalent to more than 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (mainly a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane).

The timetables announced today are contained in two settlement agreements that resolve lawsuits brought against EPA by NRDC and a coalition of states and other environmental organizations — the cases are called New York v. EPA (No. 06-1322) and American Petroleum Institute v. EPA (No. 08-1277), both pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.  In both cases, we sued the Bush-era EPA for refusing to set limits on these industries’ massive emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under a part of the Clean Air Act (Section 111) that requires EPA to set performance standards for new and existing industrial facilities.  Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA that the Clean Air Act covers carbon pollution from cars, we have pressed for EPA to acknowledge that it is also required to curb carbon pollution from industrial sources, and to say when it will take action on these two industries.

Under today’s settlements, standards for fossil-fueled power plants will be proposed by July 26, 2011, and issued in final form by May 26, 2012.  Standards for oil refineries will be proposed by December 10, 2011, and issued in final form by November 10, 2012.  (The settlements are here and here.)

Section 111 of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to set, and every eight years revise, performance standards for various categories of industries. These standards apply to both new and existing sources. EPA sets the new source standards, while EPA and the states share the job for existing sources.  Section 111 requires consideration of cost and technical feasibility when determining the standards.  It also requires EPA and the states to take into account existing sources’ remaining useful life.

EPA plans to coordinate each industry’s carbon emission standards with other upcoming pollution control requirements in a sectoral, multi-pollutant approach that facilitates sound planning and investment strategies for each industry.  These standards will also assist industries and states in the case-by-case assessment of “best available control technology” for the largest new sources, a process that begins this January.

Big polluters and their allies in Congress plan to take aim at these and other common sense standards that save thousands of lives and avoid tens of thousands of asthma attacks and other life-threatening illness each year. But the Clean Air Act is a tough target.  It has the support of millions of Americans, built on 40 years saving lives and protecting communities across the country, while promoting economic growth.  Congress should celebrate, not delay or block, Clean Air Act standards that protect our health and well-being.  Congress should let EPA do its job.

David Doniger is the policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate Center and their chief global warming lawyer. This is re-post from NRDC’s Switchboard blog.

Climate Progress

Dec 10

Der Spiegel … ‘Barack Obama Was the Biggest Loser of 2010′

As stated at Der Spiegel, President Barack Obama was one of the “Biggest Losers” of 2010. Barack Obama came to power promising a new era of bipartisan cooperation but he turned out to be one of the most partisan Presidents ever, which a Democrat run Congress with Pelosi and Reid that passed legislation and rammed it down the throats of Americans. Their actions enabled the 111th Congress to be deemed one of the worst ever. The end result was a GOP take over and the birth of the Tea Party. Barack Obama has gone from “The One” to what appears to be a one term president, aka a One Term “One”der. 2012 is right around the corner, will Obama be apart of it?

SPIEGEL’s Washington correspondent Marc Hujer writes on SPIEGEL ONLINE:

“Barack Obama was the biggest loser of 2010. He allowed the angry Tea Party movement to grow powerful, he did not pass any decent laws despite his majority in Congress and he was aloof, elitist and indecisive. He had to accept a formidable, yet entirely understandable, defeat in the midterm elections as a result. No one expected much from Obama, at least not during the rest of this year.”

“Now, just days before Christmas, Congress has ratified the New START disarmament treaty with Russia. … Will Obama build on this victory? Is it Obama’s breakthrough as a president? Will it mark his comeback as a reformer? … Is a new era of cooperation beginning?”

My how the Obamamessiah has fallen.

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Scared Monkeys

Dec 10

Barack Obama Was the Biggest Loser of 2010-The View From Germany

Gee, I thought Europe loved President Obama. The summer before the election Obama took a European tour where the heads of State fawned over the future President. The future President promised that was that he was going to “repair” our relationship with Europe “damaged” after eight years of that “cowboy” George “W” Bush.

In Germany, tens of thousands of Germans turned out to listen to candidate Obama speak in front of Adolf Hitler’s favorite monument, the Victory Column. And his campaign assured us the Rock concert that preceded his speech had nothing to do with the speech, in Germany Barack Obama was as big a star as David Hasselhoff.

Apparently David Hasselhoff has nothing to worry about.  In today’s Der Spiegel online they asked German Pundits to comment on Obama’s START Treaty victory in the Senate, while they gave the  POTUS a tiny pat on the back, at least two of the major media sources in Germany used it as an opportunity to bash the Obama Presidency.

SPIEGEL’s Washington correspondent Marc Hujer writes on SPIEGEL ONLINE:

Barack Obama was the biggest loser of 2010. He allowed the angry Tea Party movement to grow powerful, he did not pass any decent laws despite his majority in Congress and he was aloof, elitist and indecisive. He had to accept a formidable, yet entirely understandable, defeat in the midterm elections as a result. No one expected much from Obama, at least not during the rest of this year.”
“Now, just days before Christmas, Congress has ratified the New START disarmament treaty with Russia.

… Will Obama build on this victory? Is it Obama’s breakthrough as a president? Will it mark his comeback as a reformer? … Is a new era of cooperation beginning?”

“The opposite is much more probable, namely that the disarmament treaty will be Obama’s last significant achievement for a long time. In January, the new Congress will convene. The new representatives who won in the midterm elections will come to Washington, including those Tea Party activists who have little interest in making compromises with Obama. With them, Congress will move to the right …. Possibly the only reason why so many Republicans voted for Obama’s law was because they themselves fear the new era and see few chances of passing sensible, bipartisan laws in the new Congress.”

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: “The ratification of the New START treaty is extremely
 important. The treaty guarantees that the number of nuclear weapons continues to fall, by an equal number on both sides, so that a dangerous imbalance does not arise. … It also refutes the accusation that the nuclear powers always demand that non-nuclear states do without atomic weapons, without disarming themselves. Even with the treaty, the idea of a world free of nuclear weapons remains just a hope. But a small step is better than nothing.”

“Barack Obama, who negotiated the treaty with Moscow, is justified in celebrating a major personal victory. Despite his serious defeat in the midterm elections, the US president invested a lot of political capital in order to get the treaty through the Senate. US voters are unlikely to thank him for it — they have other worries. But they should, at least for one day, feel a little proud of their president.”


Dec 10

The 111th’s biggest loser: Tax policy

The real loser of the 111th Congress has been tax policy. Most other issues the Congress took on, for all the compromises and inadequacies and delays, were moved forward. Tax policy was moved backwards.

The most egregious thing about the tax-cut compromise — which, as I’ve said before, I supported given the options on the table — was that it meant the Democratic Party was saying that the Clinton-era tax rates on the country were too high. But the real damage wasn’t done during the deal-making. It was done in the 2008 campaign, when then-candidate Obama committed himself to holding taxes down for all income below $ 250,000. The tax cuts for the rich might’ve been more offensive, but from a fiscal standpoint, they were less consequential.

Then came the fiscal commission, which recommended that taxes get capped at 21 percent of GDP. Capping tax revenues is not something you generally do when you’re trying to balance the budget, but they thought it might win them some Republican votes. It’s not at all clear that it did.

Nevertheless, a Congressional Budget Office report on taxation shows how absurd that cap was: “We project that under current law, federal revenues will reach 21 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2020.” That is to say, if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire, tax revenue would reach 21 percent of GDP.

So not only did Democrats agree that the Clinton-era tax rates were too high, but they created a commission that said they were so high that there should literally be a law passed making sure they can’t go higher. Way to go, guys.

Ezra Klein

Dec 10

The biggest fifty cash donors to the Conservative Party over the last ten years


Dec 10

The Year’s Biggest Lie

If truth is the first casualty of war, the GOP assault on Obama has produced what a Pulitzer-Prize-winning fact check site calls “The Lie of the Year“-that the President’s reform law is “a government takeover” of health care.

The Oscar goes to Frank Luntz, who deserves permanent possession of the truth-twisting trophy. Whenever John Boehner or Mitch McConnell says “job-killing” about any Democratic proposal, you can be sure that Luntz is the ventriloquist behind them providing lethal language, just as he persuaded Republicans earlier to keep calling the estate tax a “death tax.”

We are in the era of government-by-slogans, as an academic study finds that, during the election campaign this year, voters received “substantial levels of misinformation” from TV, with Fox in the lead and MSNBC not far behind, most of it from reporting what politicians say. And more and more of what they say is intended to push emotional buttons rather than clarify issues. (Sarah Palin “death panels,” anyone?)

Although Republicans specialize in the practice, the trend is bipartisan.


The Moderate Voice

Dec 10

Energy and Global Warming News for December 17th: World’s biggest wind farm advances; CEC approves ninth California solar project in four months; What does the future hold for concentrating PV?

World’s Biggest Wind Farm One Step Closer to Reality
Somewhere out there in Oregon, green job seekers are cheering. The world’s largest wind farm has just cleared another hurdle, with yesterday’s announcement by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu that a partial guarantee for a $ 1.3 billion (yes, billion) loan has been finalized. The 845-megawatt behemoth, [...]
Climate Progress

Dec 10

PolitiFact’s biggest lie

Hot Air » Top Picks

Dec 10

Video: World’s biggest rock star not in the mood for questions about sex charges

“Tabloid schmuck.”
Hot Air » Top Picks

Dec 10

Video: World’s biggest rock star greets adoring media public

Remember, though: It’s not about him.
Hot Air » Top Picks

Dec 10 What’s the Biggest Threat to Free Speech? – Gutfeld, Breitbart, Gov. Gary Johnson, Stagliano and More Sound Off

What’s the biggest threat to free speech? asks a cavalcade of politicians, journalists, filmmakers and content creators ranging from former Gov. Gary Johnson (R-N.M.) to Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld to The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle to adult filmmaker John Stagliano to new media magnate Andrew Breitbart to call their shot.
Featured (in order of appearance):
Andy Levy, [...]
Big Government

Dec 10

Insiders: Pelosi Biggest Loser of 2010; Obama Strengthened by Tax Cut Deal

Which political figure had the best year in 2010?
213 votes

(Democrats, 107;

Republicans, 106)

John Boehner 41%
Sarah Palin 13%
Harry Reid 10%
Haley Barbour 5%
Marco Rubio 5%
Which political figure had the worst year in 2010?
213 votes

(Democrats, 107; Republicans, 106)

Nancy Pelosi 46%
Barack Obama 25%
Charlie Crist 4%
Charlie Rangel 4%
Michael Steele 3%
Meg Whitman 3%

It doesn’t take long to fall off the pedestal. Nine months ago, with the passage of health care reform, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was being hailed as the most powerful House Speaker of the past century. But according to the latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll she was the political figure who had the worst year in 2010. Pres. Obama was the runner-up. Conversely, the pol who had the best year was John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Speaker-in-waiting who will take power when the GOP House majority is sworn in next year.

Political Insiders in both parties had little sympathy for the outgoing Speaker. One Democratic Insider said, “She lost the majority and then made herself look worse by desperately holding on to a leadership position.” Another Democrat observed that Pelosi “went from third in line to the presidency to powerless with shrunken caucus and remains in denial.” The target of scores of Republican ads across the country, a Republican noted that, “It was her face on the front of that GOP bulldozer. Whether the loss [of the House] was her fault or not, she has taken the biggest hit.”

Overall, former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was runner-up to Boehner for having the best year in 2010, but her ranking was due to the votes of Democrats, not Republicans: 17 percent of the 107 Democratic Insiders who responded to the poll this week said Palin had the best year in 2010, but only 8 percent of 106 Republican Insiders felt that way. Marco Rubio, the incoming Republican Florida Senator and the party’s “great Latino hope,” edged Palin among Republican Insiders with 9 percent of their votes. Democratic Insiders believe that as the face of the Tea Party who can command media attention Palin will be force in the GOP 2012 nominating contest.

Insiders felt Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had a pretty good year, especially since many had written off his re-election prospects. Not only did his party keep their majority in the Senate, he hung onto his job as the chief. Former Pres. Bill Clinton, reputation burnished as the surrogate most in demand by Democrats in the midterms, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), who roped in millions of dollars for the Republican Governors Association, were also winners in 2010.

Will President Obama’s tax deal put him in a stronger or a weaker position when he’s dealing with congressional Republicans next year?


(106 votes)


(106 votes)

Stronger 51% 56%
Weaker 21% 13%
Doesn’t matter 28% 31%

Meanwhile, Insiders in both parties felt that Obama’s tax deal will put him a stronger position when he’s dealing with congressional Republicans. Less than a quarter of the Insiders in both parties thought he would be weaker. But that may not help the president bring his party together. Said one Democrat, Obama “needed to show Republicans he is willing to work with them and needed to show Democrats he will work around them if they are intransigent.” Another one averred, “He’s going to cave on a lot of issues in order to be ‘bipartisan.’”

Hotline On Call

Dec 10

Carter’s Biggest Failure

Big Think asks Jimmy Carter about his biggest failure as president.

“I guess my biggest failure was not getting re-elected. And I learned two things; one is that you ought not to ever let American hostages be held for 444 days in a foreign country without extracting them. I did the best I could, but I failed.”

“And I think another lesson I learned is, I should have paid more attention to the organization of the Democratic Party. I was not only the leader of our nation, but I was also the leader of the Democratic Party. And I think I failed in that respect to keep the party united. It was divided in my reelection campaign between me and the people who were loyal to Ted Kennedy and then that cost me a lot of votes. So those were the two things that I believe could have been done better.”

Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Dec 10

Rangel’s biggest mistake

CNN Political Ticker