3.29.2007

Live Earth & Inhofe’s Petty Revenge

by Rick Rockwell

Rock 'n’ roll is still a political threat, apparently.

Consider the political hurdles faced by the Live Earth concert series in getting permission to play a free concert on the National Mall in D.C. this summer.

Live Earth applied for a permit from the National Park Service. After some delays, the Park Service told the Live Earth organizers the Mall was already booked by the Smithsonian’s annual folklife festival and for a religious group. The Park Service refused to disclose which religious group had reserved the Mall, fueling criticism that the decision to deny the concert was politically motivated.

Now, for those who aren’t plugged into the Live Earth concerts, this is a project of Al Gore, the former vice president. So indeed there may be political reasons behind such decisions. But Gore also has his own political ties, and he decided to go for an end-run. He took it to his friends in Congress: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME). This bi-partisan group is backing a resolution that would allow Gore and Live Earth permission to use the Capitol’s lawn for the concert. As its own branch of government, Congress doesn’t need permission from the Park Service or the Department of the Interior to sanction a concert.

But some in Congress are tired of being upstaged by Gore, his environmental views, and his Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth. Enter Senator James Inhofe (R-OK).

Some know Inhofe as Senator Denial. He is one of the greatest proponents on the Hill of the idea that global warming is a myth. Of course, the top five contributors to Inhofe in 2006 (according to the Center for Media & Democracy) were energy firms. Inhofe also represents a state that depends on the petrochemical industry.

Inhofe is leading a group of Republicans who have stalled the resolution that would approve the concert. They say Live Earth is a partisan event, not worthy of being sanctioned by Congress. Never mind that the Capitol lawn has hosted Earth Day events in the past, and other activities that some would see as only mildly political.

Despite Inhofe’s opinions, Live Earth will still hold events at seven other locations on all the world’s continents.

Not coincidentally, Inhofe announced his views on Live Earth this week after getting upstaged by Gore and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) at a Senate hearing on global warming. Inhofe, the former chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, wanted to hijack Gore’s committee testimony for his own political theater instead of allowing the former vice president to answer questions. The new panel chair, Boxer, cut off Inhofe and held up her gavel to make her point that he no longer controlled the committee.

So now Inhofe wants to keep D.C. from seeing a part of Live Earth because of his own petty need for revenge.

Isn’t a right to assemble in the Constitution? Sure, there’s no guarantee that anyone gets to listen to rock 'n’ roll or rock with a political message. But certainly, shutting down this event and trying to tune out Gore and his message speaks to how Republicans see freedom of speech and how they do not value a diversity of opinions in a democracy. Apparently, if you don’t get with the pro-business, pro-oil party line, you should just be quiet. So much for the idea that in a free country you have the right to dissent. But really, isn’t Gore’s cause something that should transcend politics? The bipartisan group backing the Live Earth effort certainly thinks so.

Consider the shrinking snows on Kilimanjaro. Consider the receding ice cap on Greenland. Consider the melting glaciers on Antarctica. Is there any doubt that global warming should be one of the very top issues for the U.S. and the world? Thwarting Live Earth is just the deniers’ way of preserving their own closed-minded world view.

(The photo of the earth was taken by NASA from the Terra Satellite; the photo is in the public domain. To see an excerpt of the Senate hearing with Gore, Inhofe and Boxer, please check below.)









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3 comments:

theBhc said...

I believe Inhofe has been quoted as saying that he believes in the "market based approach" to environmentalism and he looked forward to rolling back emissions regulations so as "not to impede clean air progress."

Nope. Not making that up.

theBhc said...

Oh, and he was also behind the push to roll back environmental regulations in the gulf after Katrina. Of course, there was likely a guy behind this guy doing the real pushing.

Rick Rockwell said...

Good to see your return here "thebhc."

Sorry to say, I am not surprised by what you say. (But thanks for the links nevertheless.) The real problem is folks like Inhofe stand in the way of us making any changes at a time when we need to react.

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