Re yesterday’s ETF comments from Less Antman . . . Kirk Elliot: “I think Less Antman offers great advice. I go to the ‘Ask Less’ link [at left] all the time and also subscribe to his free newsletter ‘Simply Rich.’ I have a Target Date Fund in my 401(k) account that includes a slice of a commodities fund, which is a good inflation hedge I think (one of the ‘four prongs’ as you say). Please tell Less thanks for his free advice, it is much appreciated by us commoners.”


Joe Devney: “I saw the interviews you linked to in Tuesday’s column, and I’m not surprised that someone is calling for Judge Walker’s impeachment. Tony Perkins seemed to believe that a judge had no right to strike down Prop 8 because millions of people voted for it. How can he have so little understanding of how things work? A couple of months ago I read an article on a conservative website about President Obama being a criminal because he is using a Social Security number issued in Connecticut. (No indication of how the people making the accusation know the president’s SSN.) Some of the commenters thought he should be impeached, but didn’t seem to know a thing about the process. ‘Maybe I’ll write to Hillary and see if she will start the process.’ Doesn’t he know that Hillary Clinton is no longer in Congress, and Barack Obama is now her boss? ‘Let’s write to the Supreme Court and tell them to impeach him.’ What? Impeachment is done by Congress, and the Supreme Court doesn’t initiate the cases that come before it. ‘He should have been impeached on day one.’ How could he be impeached within hours of being sworn in? He wouldn’t have had time to commit any high crimes or misdemeanors in office, so there could be no grounds for impeachment.”


How I miss William F. Buckley, Jr. Even Ronald Reagan, I think, would be horrified by what’s happened to “conservatism.” Here, in Mother Jones, is the totally absorbing story of a Congressman with a 93% lifetime approval rating from the American Conservative Union who was massacred 71% to 29% in his primary by a Tea Party candidate for, basically, being too honest and thoughtful. Too responsible.

Most of the more colorful socialist / racist / conspiracy stuff is near the beginning of the piece. It would be funny if it weren’t so scary.

This more substantive part comes near the end:

. . . As an example of both the GOP pandering to right-wing voters and conservative talk show hosts undercutting sensible policymaking, Inglis points to climate change. Fossil fuels, he notes, get a free ride because they’re “negative externalities”—that is, pollution and the effects of climate change—”are not recognized” in the market. Sitting in front of a wall-sized poster touting clean technology centers in South Carolina, Inglis says that conservatives “should be the ones screaming. This is a conservative concept: accountability. This is biblical law: you cannot do on your property what harms your neighbor’s property.” Which is why he supports placing a price on carbon—and forcing polluters to cover it.

Asked why conservatives and Republicans have demonized the issue of climate change and clean energy, Inglis replies, “I wish I knew; then maybe I wouldn’t have lost my election.” He points out that some conservatives believe that any issue affecting the Earth is “the province of God and will not be affected by human activity. If you talk about the challenge of sustainability of the Earth’s systems, it’s an affront to that theological view.”

Inglis voted against the cap-and-trade climate legislation, believing it would create a new tax, lead to a “hopelessly complicated” trading scheme for carbon, and harm American manufacturing by handing China and India a competitive edge on energy costs. Instead, he proposed a revenue-neutral tax swap: Payroll taxes would be reduced, and the amount of that reduction would be applied as a tax on carbon dioxide emissions—mainly hitting coal plants and natural gas facilities. (This tax would be removed from exported goods and imposed on imported products—thus neutralizing any competitive advantage for China, India, and other manufacturing nations.)

Here was a conservative market-based plan. Did it receive any interest from House GOP leaders? Inglis shakes his head: “It’s the t-word.” Tax. He adds, “It’s so contrary to the rhetoric we’ve got out there, to what Beck, Limbaugh, and others are saying.”

For Inglis, this is the crux of the dilemma: Republican members of Congress know “deep down” that they need to deliver conservative solutions like his tax swap. Yet, he adds, “We’re being driven as herd by these hot microphones—which are like flame throwers—that are causing people to run with fear and panic, and Republican members of Congress are afraid of being run over by that stampeding crowd.” Inglis says that it’s hard for Republicans in Congress to “summon the courage” to say no to Beck, Limbaugh, and the tea party wing. “When we start just delivering rhetoric and more misinformation…we’re failing the conservative movement,” he says. “We’re failing the country.” Yet, he notes, Boehner and House minority whip Eric Cantor have one primary strategic calculation: Play to the tea party crowd. “It’s a dangerous strategy,” he contends, “to build conservatism on information and policies that are not credible.”

☞ I’ve written about Bob Inglis before – you can watch him on C-SPAN. But this profile in the current Mother Jones is worth the read. (Thanks, Kevin.)


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