Thursday, December 06, 2007

interesting quote

This is a quote from a column written about the Gillian Gibbons fiasco in the Sudan, but for me it called to mind the Phil Burress "Christian Conservatives" in the U.S.:

Every faith has rigid doctrinaires who would sacrifice their very humanity for the fool's gold of theological purity. These people are so eager to live the literal law of their holy books that they miss the point of those holy books, shedding compassion, kindness and plain common sense along the way.

Worse, they are always literal about the wrong things, always literal about passages in holy writ that they feel empower them to punish, judge, ostracize and condemn. Never literal about the passages that require them to give, forgive, serve and stand humble.

Who's fearmongering now? McKinsey report says U.S. can halve CO2 emissions by 2030 with "minimal" cost

One of the favorite tactics of those on the right who are bought, sold, and paid for by the fossil-fuel industry is to label those who express concern over global warming as alarmists overreacting to the threat. Tom Blumer of Cincinnati's BizzyBlog has even developed a trademark phrase to describe global warming activists as "globalarmists."

But a new study done by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. should go a long way towards turning the tables on Tom and other fossil-fuel industry apologists. This report, funded in part by Pacific Gas & Electric, Detroit Edison, and Royal Dutch Shell, concludes that the United States could halve its CO2 output by 2030 at minimal cost.

That's because 40% of the steps needed to make it happen would actually save money. And, according to their report, 80% of this reduction could be achieved using only existing technologies. The 20% remainder is from technologies that are well on their way to commercialization, such as the use of cellulostic ethanol, and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

This contrasts sharply with the alarmists on the right who warn that we can't stop global warming without crippling our economy. For example, when Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Sen. John Warner of Virginia proposed a bill creating a cap-and-trade scheme for CO2 emissions in the U.S., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated that it would cost 3.4 million Americans their jobs, as well as force consumers to pay as much as $6 trillion more in higher prices for oil, gas, and other goods. All this begs the question: Who's fear mongering now?

Read the BusinessWeek article detailing the McKinsey report by clicking here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sen. George Voinovich says "No" to the jobs of tomorrow

I'm posting this in an effort to "bring home" all the bits of wisdom I've spread out to other blogs - Nick D

U.S. Sen George Voinovich (R-Ohio) announced that he will oppose efforts in Congress to hold SUV's and light trucks to the same fuel mileage standards as cars. A bill which passed the Senate 65-27 but is now headed to a House-Senate conference committee would require a combined fleet fuel economy of 35 MPG by 2020. In requiring this, the bill promises to spur further investment in fuel-saving technology that could create thousands of new jobs right here in Ohio, jobs that won't be tied to the inevitable decline in the use of fossil fuels. Voinovich instead backs an alternative bill that would call for a 35 MPG standard for cars, and a 32 MPG standard for trucks & SUV's, by 2022, but includes a loophole allowing regulators to delay fuel economy mandates if they are found impossible to meet. Read the full story in this Pee Dee article.

Reducing our dependence on petroleum is not just a win-win, it is, by my calculations, a win-win-win-win.

Win #1 - Reduce CO2 emissions - Anyone notice how warm it's been into October? How dry it is down in the South? Yeahh....that global warming thing is not only not a hoax, its happening right now. This is a great first step towards reducing our carbon emissions

Win #2 - Prevent Terrorism - Let's see if we can grasp this one kiddies, we buy oil from Middle Eastern countries for dollars. Some of those dollars get spent for good stuff, but some get provided to terrorists. So the less dollars we send over there, the less ends up in the hands of al-Qaeda. The less oil we buy, the more it drives down the price of oil, which means that al-Qaeda gets less money no matter who is buying oil. If we really want to win the "war on terror," we must reduce our reliance on oil. Was that simple enough?

Win #3 - Reduce our trade deficit - Anyone been paying attention to all those stories talking about how cheap the dollar is these days?? Five years ago, it cost 90 cents to buy a euro. Today it costs $1.40. That's because we've been sending oodles of cash overseas to purchase increasingly expensive oil, (Five years ago, the price of oil was $20/barrel. Today its $80/barrel) and it turns out the rest of the world isn't buying more of our stuff to compensate. So, there are piles of greenbacks overseas, and that makes them easily available and therefore....less valuable. Less oil use = less greenbacks sent overseas = smaller trade deficit.

Win #4 - Creates the jobs of tomorrow
- Hate to break it to the UAW, but hanging on tighter than hell to the jobs of the past is a slow-death strategy. Instead, how about an infusion of some young blood. How about having confidence that Ohioans will be manufacturing fuel cells, electric motors, lithium-ion batteries and other advanced technologies. Ohio has manufacturing know-how that few areas in the world can match. Why don't we provide incentives to invest in this emerging technology, by, for instance, requiring higher gas mileage!! Gosh I crack myself up.

Go tell Georgie to shape up and support the gas mileage bill without the loopholes.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Politics Matter

Car And Driver magazine is a publication targeted at red-blooded, meat-eating, gasoline-fueled American men. It’s a magazine for those (like me) who believe that there are two kinds of people: Those whose cars have a manual transmission (a.k.a stick-shift), and those who are wimps. If you’ve ever wondered whether its better to spend your $100,000 on an Aston Martin V-8 Vantage, an Audi R8, or a Porsche 911 Turbo, Car And Driver has an answer for you. This is a magazine for people interested in nothing more than driving a very, very fast car.

And yet, in one of those demonstrations of how politics affects each and every American, whether they choose to be active in the political process or not, the lead editorials from this month’s issue of C&D are both related to political issues. The lead editorial, by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Csaba Csere, bemoans Virginia’s extremely unpopular “civil restitution fees.”

This plan, hatched by a Republican lawyer in the Republican-led House of Delegates, tacks on hefty fees to normal tickets in an attempt to turn the criminal justice system into a revenue generator for Virginia. In an example cited in the editorial, driving 20 or more MPH over the speed limit is now defined as wreckless driving. So not only will that 75 in a 55 get you the normal $200 ticket, but it also now gets you a $900 “civil restitution fee” on top of it. In one of the more controversial aspects of the plan, these “civil restitution fees” only apply to Virginia residents. Apparently, the lawyer who hatched this plan feared that the cost of tracking down out-of-state residents would eat into the profits to be earned from the fines.

Like other bald-face cash grabs, such as red-light cameras, this plan was supposed to provide revenue in lieu of increasing gas taxes. Because even in the face of runaway inflation of the cost of highway construction materials such as steel and concrete, Republicans have been reluctant to increase the nominal gas tax rate, even if the real (inflation-adjusted) gas tax rate would not change.

Someday, Republicans will learn that the people don’t like it when they attempt to turn the criminal-justice system into a revenue generator. Especially the readers of C&D, who view speeding tickets as “just a tax on getting there.” In Virginia, they might even learn this year, where this plan has the Republicans in danger of losing control of the House of Delegates.

Flipping to another editorial, this time by editor Patrick Bedard, you will read about how a “bankrupt” government is “selling our highways out from under us.” He is referring, of course, to Indiana’s leasing of the Indiana East-West Toll Road to a Spanish-Australian consortium for 75 years in exchange for $3.8 billion, and the flurry of proposed similar deals that have followed. Captain 36 percent, Ken Blackwell, proposed a similar deal for the Ohio Turnpike as part of his gubernatorial campaign last year.

My own opinion of this practice is that it is undemocratic for these governments to engage in long-term leases of public assets, because they are making policy decisions that cannot be undone for generations to come. And if the political leaders who receive this lump sum of cash spend it poorly (not an unlikely scenario, I'm afraid) then it's future users of the Toll Road 50, 60, 75 years down the line who will pay the price, because they will be paying a double tax that they won't be benefiting from.

Thomas Jefferson wrote that every law, and indeed the Constitution itself, should expire once every 20 years, which he calculated to be a “generation.” This, he argued, was the only way to prevent one generation from imposing its will on the next, which, in his opinion, was not actually democracy at all. Thus you can see my point that long-term leases of public assets are incompatible with democracy itself.

What I find most interesting about these editorials is that they are both criticizing policies promoted primarily by Republicans. I find this funny because I can’t think of a bastion of red-blooded conservative Republicanism more pure than the NASCAR fans and car guys who would read such a magazine. But at the end of the day, it illustrates that politics touches every aspect of our lives. And that’s why participation in the political process by each and every American is so vital.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dispatch Editorial page honcho says global warming is not such a big deal

Columbus Dispatch editorial page head-honcho Glenn Sheller shows his conservative colors in a column in the Sept 30th Dispatch. Paraphrasing, he says that global warming isn't really such a big deal, and that "alarmists" such as Al Gore should step aside and allow "reasonable people" to debate the "trade-offs" of global climate change.

This is not a new tactic by those on the right. As I stated in this post on my personal Blue Ohio Blog back in February, since the righties and their allies in the fossil fuel industry have failed in their attempt to convince the American public that global climate change is a myth, they have happened upon a new strategy of turning the entire issue into a giant cost/benefit analysis and concluding that its not worth fixing. That's what Sheller means by "trade-offs."

The problem with this strategy is twofold. One, we don't know what the costs and benefits will be, because every day scientists are discovering more and more effects of climate change. Two, it is extremely difficult to assign a "cost" or a "benefit" to some of the effects of global climate change. If you happened to pick up a copy of this months' National Geographic, then you know that the additional CO2 in our atmosphere is being sucked into the oceans, changing their pH, making it more acidic. Pretty soon it will be too acidic to support marine life. Guess what, kids, those things called fish we used to catch out of our waterways? Eh, their gone. What "cost" do you put on that when you do your cost/benefit analysis? National Geographic also interviews scientists (presumably not paid by the fossil fuel industry) who estimate that if left unchecked, global climate change could easily kill off 40% of the species that exist on planet Earth today. What "cost" do you assign to that? How about the human deaths caused this summer by a brain-eating amoeba that grows in warm fresh water lakes? (No, not making this up, see CNN story here) What happens if Lake Erie gets warm enough that the amoeba grows in the Lake? Sorry, Cleveland, you need a new water supply. How's that factor in to that good ol' cost-benefit analysis, there, Glenn?

What "reasonable people" would be doing, instead of performing cost/benefit analyses, is recognizing that since we're going to run out of fossil fuels anyway, and since acquiring these fuels involves either giving oodles of cash to Middle Eastern dictators (who then give it to terrorists like Osama bin Laden) or literally removing mountains from places like West Virginia to get at coal, that's time for us to move away from them. Every day, scientists are working to develop green energy. Perhaps the Dispatch editorial page should use its ink to encourage Ohio's government to invest in green energy in the upcoming energy bill, instead of suggesting we allow "reasonable people" to debate the "trade-offs" of something we don't know nearly enough about to even be discussing what to trade for what.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Police Brutality at the University of Florida

While this young man may be an idiot, the police had absolutely no cause to use the Taser on him. Tasers are only supposed to be used when there is a threat of deadly force. This is police brutality at its worst, and the University of Florida should fire the officers in question.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fact-checking Petraus

Cross posted from the Baltimore Sun's political blog "The Swamp"

National Security Network Fact Check: Petraeus Quotes

Petraeus: Iraq-wide, as shown by the top line on this chart, the number of ethno-sectarian deaths has come down by over 55%.

The Pentagon and Administration’s definition of “Ethno sectarian violence” excludes many types of violence that would indicate that the security situation in Iraq is not improving. Shi’a on Shi’a violence in the South is not included. Sunni on Sunni violence in the central part of the country is not included. “According to one senior intelligence official in Washington. ‘If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian,’ the official said. ‘If it went through the front, it's criminal.’" [Washington Post, 9/6/07]

According to figures compiled by the Associated Press, Iraq is suffering approximately double the number of war-related deaths throughout the country compared with last year. The average daily toll has risen from 33 in 2006, to 62 so far this year. Nearly 1,000 more people have been killed in violence across Iraq in the first eight months of this year than in all of 2006. The AP tracking includes Iraqi civilians, government officials, police and security forces killed in attacks such as gunfights and bombings, which are frequently blamed on Sunni suicide strikes. It also includes execution-style killings — largely the work of Shi’a death squads. Insurgent deaths are not a part of the Iraqi count. These figures are considered a minimum and only based on AP reporting. The actual numbers are likely higher, as many killings go unreported or uncounted. That said, the AP notes that UN figures for 2006 are higher than the AP’s. [AP, 8/25/07]

According to numbers released by the Iraqi government, since July civilian casualties have risen 20% across Iraq. The numbers fell significantly in Baghdad. The figures, provided by Iraqi Interior Ministry officials on Saturday, mirrored the geographic pattern of the troop increase, which is focused on Baghdad. The national rise in mortality is partly a result of more than 500 deaths, in an August truck bomb attack on a Yazidi community in August north of the capital, outside the areas directly affected by the additional troops. [NY Times, 9/2/07]

Various numbers from the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior show no drop in violence. According to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, 984 people were killed across Iraq in February, and 1,011 died in violence in August. No July numbers were released because the ministry said the numbers weren't clear. But an official in the ministry who spoke anonymously because he wasn't authorized to release numbers said those numbers were heavily manipulated. The official said 1,980 Iraqis had been killed in July and that violent deaths soared in August, to 2,890. [McClatchy, 9/10/07]

Petraeus: "Though the improvements have been uneven across Iraq, the overall number of security incidents in Iraq has declined in 8 of the past 12 weeks, with the numbers of incidents in the last two weeks at the lowest levels seen since June 2006."

According to General Petraeus attacks are only down in one of the last three weeks, but at the same time we have hit an all time low? In the National Intelligence Estimate released three weeks ago said that overall attacks had fallen in 7 out of 9 weeks. “The steep escalation of rates of violence has been checked for now, and overall attack levels across Iraq have fallen during seven of the last nine weeks.” [National Intelligence Estimate]

The DIA’s statistics show that attacks on civilians were at the same level in July that they were in, back in January. The defense intelligence chart makes the point, with figures from Petraeus' command in Baghdad, the Multinational Force-Iraq. Congressional auditors used the same numbers to conclude that Iraqis are as unsafe now as they were six months ago; the Bush administration and military officials also using those figures say that finding is flawed. [AP, 9/9/07]

Petraeus: We endeavor to ensure our analysis of that data is conducted with rigor and consistency, as our ability to achieve a nuanced understanding of the security environment is dependent on collecting and analyzing data in a consistent way over time.

There were significant revisions to the way the Pentagon’s reports measure sectarian violence between its March 2007 report and its June 2007 report. The original data for the five months before the surge began (September 2006 through January 2007) indicated approximately 5,500 sectarian killings. In the revised data in the June 2007 report, those numbers had been adjusted to roughly 7,400 killings – a 35% increase. These discrepancies have the impact of making the sectarian violence appear significantly worse during the fall and winter of 2006 before the President’s “surge” began. [DOD, 11/2006. 3/2007. 6/2007]


Petraeus claimed that the surge helped transform Anbar Province from one of the most dangerous areas to one of the safest.

The “Anbar Awakening” began long before the “surge” and occurred because local Sunni tribes did not agree with Al Qaeda. The Anbar Salvation Council, which was formed by tribal sheikhs to fight the more extreme elements, was established in September 2006 and was showing significant results by early March of 2007 when the “surge” was just beginning. [NY Times, 3/3/2007]

The Sunni tribes attribute the change to a political agreement not to increased forces. The sheik who forged the alliance with the Americans, Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, traced the decision to fight al-Qaeda to Sept. 14, 2006, long before the new Bush strategy, but the president's plan dispatched another 4,000 U.S. troops to Anbar to exploit the situation. As security improved, the White House eagerly took credit. [Washington Post, 9/9/07]

The “surge” has only added 4,000 troops to Anbar. The main focus was Baghdad. “Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists. So I have given orders to increase American forces in Anbar Province by 4,000 troops.” [White House, 1/10/07]

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Watch this video and you won't know whether to laugh or cry:

Imitation really is the most sincere form of flattery

Much press coverage has been focused on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's surprising 2nd place showing in the Iowa GOP "straw poll." Most of the coverage has been focused on Gov. Huckabee's shoestring budget, and the fact that he received more votes than the number of tickets his campaign purchased, meaning that either Huckabee supports paid the $35 a person fee to get into the straw poll on their own, or that participants who received other campaign's tickets to get in the poll ended up choosing Gov. Huckabee.

However, there's been very little coverage (except from some bloggers) on just how Gov. Huckabee achieved this remarkable showing. So how did he do it?

In short, by becoming the Republican version of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Last year, the Ohio GOP establishment insisted that Sherrod Brown's constant harping on trade issues, health care, and the disappearing middle class was "out of the mainstream" and showed just how liberal he was. Sherrod Brown took this so-called out of the mainstream message to every corner of our state, conceding nothing, and walked away with a 12-point trouncing of two-term Republican incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine.

Now Senator Brown is being looked at by the 2008 presidential candidates as a model for how to carry the Mother of All Swing States, Ohio, as stated in this Cleveland Plain Dealer article. In the spotlight of this attention, Sen. Brown has dismissed the DLC as a "special interest, corporate influence on the Democratic Party."

At least one Republican candidate is also looking to Sen. Brown for inspiration on how to win. Don't believe me? Here's some of Gov. Huckabee's comments from the campaign trail in Iowa:

"The most important thing a president needs to do is to make it clear that we’re not going to continue to see jobs shipped overseas, jobs that are lost by American workers, many in their 50s who for 20 and 30 years have worked to make a company rich, and then watch as a CEO takes a $100 million bonus to jettison those American jobs somewhere else. And the worker not only loses his job, but he loses his pension. That’s criminal. It’s wrong."

"I am not interested in being the candidate of Wall Street but of Main Street. Wealthy CEOs get paid 500 times what the average worker does, but they are not necessarily 500 times smarter or harder working and that is wrong."

"If somebody in the presidency doesn’t begin to understand that we can’t have free trade if it’s not fair trade, we’re going to continually see people who have worked for 20 and 30 years for companies one day walk in and get the pink slip and told ‘I’m sorry but everything you spent your life working for is no longer here.’...I’d like to prove that this presidency is not going to be just up for sale. If that’s the case, let’s just put it on eBay and be done with it. I’d like to think it’s going to be more about our principles, not just our pockets."

"If you want to know how to fix it [Health Care], I've got a solution," Huckabee said at the Republican debate. "Either give every American the same kind of health care that Congress has or make Congress have the same kind of health care that every American has."

As the Rocky Mountain News notes in this article, Gov. Huckabee has taken to telling audiences that he is "not a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street." and the Republican party risks being kept out of power if the People think that they work for the interests of big corporations and not ordinary Americans. What a concept!!

The above comments look like they could have come directly from Sen. Brown's campaign last year. That they are playing so well in front of Republican primary voters is surprising, but maybe it just goes to show how out of touch the supply-siders and free-traders in the Washington think tanks are with the Republican base. In any case, Sen. Brown should be flattered that a Republican presidential candidate rose to a surprising 2nd place showing in the Iowa GOP straw poll by copying his campaign themes from last year. Imitation remains the most sincere form of flattery.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Are you kidding me?

This quote absolutely floored me:

"There's a war going on against energy from fossil fuels. I can't understand the pure venom felt against the oil and gas industry."

-U.S. Rep Ralph Hall (R-Texas)

You can't understand it, Ralph? Quick! Get outside the beltway!! You don't need to go back to the Texas 4th, the district you represent, you just need to go as far as say, Richmond, VA. Once you get there, ask the people you meet what they think about the fact that the price of gas has DOUBLED since George W. Bush took office. Ask them how they feel about the fact that the oil and gas industry has raked in truly outrageous profits from the increased price of gas. Ask them how they feel about the fact that the oil and gas industry is not using their massive profits to expand the capacity of America's oil refinery's, or drill for new oil and gas reserves, but are simply handing the money directly to their shareholders by buying back stock. And then, ask them how they feel about that same oil and gas industry getting massive tax breaks from the Republican 109th Congress!!!! Then maybe you can understand the pure venom, Ralph.

Is there a war going on against fossil fuels? No, not really. We all know that we can't survive today without them. However, there is a war to build a future for America that doesn't involve fossil fuels, Ralph. Because fossil fuels emit greenhouse gas, and a buildup of greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere is causing our planet to warm. Now, that won't be devastating to the planet, not really. But it will be devastating for humankind, and that's why we must win this war, Ralph. I invite you to join those of us fighting it.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Two Proposals I Support

Democrats have no ideas? Huey. Here are two proposals by promient Democrats that I think everyone should get behind:

  • U.S. Senator, and Presidental candidate, Chris Dodd (D-CT) has produced a very well thought out national service plan. I urge you to read it here:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Happy Father's "Pay"? What about Wal-Mart?

Strolling down W. Adams St., in the shadow of the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago on a hot, sunny Monday June 18th, I happened to see a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times in a paper machine for sale, and saw its screaming headline: OPERATION FATHER'S PAY. A quick glance at the sub-title made it clear that Illinois law enforcement had chosen Father's Day as the day to make almost 150 arrests of fathers who were behind on their child support payments. These fathers collectively owe in excess of $1.5 million to their childern. (For the complete story, click here)

I have a few comments on this story. First of all, what good does it do to throw people in jail if they are in debt? It's kinda hard for them to earn money when they are in the pokey. And it only damages their careers so they have trouble getting that next job. While doubtless some of these men are scofflaws who simply refuse to pay knowing the money is going to their ex, I'd be willing to wager a substantial portion of my next paycheck that the majority of these men are relatively poor to begin with, and trying to get the sums of money they are talking about from them is like trying to get blood from a stone.

But here is the most galling thing of all. The whole conservative justification for child support is that taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay the welfare benefits for these single parents trying to raise their family, that the fathers should be forced to pay. And yet when the world's largest corporation routinely pays its employees so little that they end up on welfare, costing taxpayers an estimated $1.5 billion per year, nothing is done.

So its okay to throw predominately poor dads in jail because their children are costing taxpayers money, but no action is taken against the management of the world's largest corporation when its employees end up also costing taxpayers money?

Wal-Mart is the worst deadbeat dad of all. Before throwing another father in jail, let's force Wal-Mart, McDonald's, and all other employers who do so to stop paying poverty wages.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

No Surprise Dems had to compromise with Bush

While I'm sure there are those on the anti-war left who are furious right now -- Keith Olbermann's special comment on tonight's Countdown was nothing short of a temper tantrum that I'm sure is being repeated in lots of quarters tonight -- the fact of the matter is that this outcome, of the Democrats having to compromise with Bush on funding the Iraq war, was pre-determined on November 7, 2006 when Republican Bob Corker defeated Democrat Harold Ford Jr. in the race for the Tennessee U.S. Senate seat left open when Bill Frist retired; while Independent Joe Liebermann prevailed in retaining his Senate seat from Connecticut.

If either Ned Lamont or Ford were in the Senate right now, this compromise doesn't happen. Harry Reid doesn't have to worry that Liebermann might caucus with the Republicans if he, Reid, presses too hard to de-fund the war. If Ford is there, then Reid retains a majority even if Liebermann betrays the Democrats. If Lamont is there, then the Democrats have a true solid 51 seat majority instead of this 50 + Liebermann situation that is proving to be so unworkable. If both Lamont and Ford are there, then the Democrats have a 52-seat majority and can really raise some hell about Iraq.

So instead of venting his anger at Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, Keith Olbermann should instead vent at the voters in the states of Connecticut and Tennessee for creating the situation that allowed this to occur.

At the end of the day though, Olbermann should also place the blame on the more than 60 million Americans who voted for George W. Bush on November 2, 2004. Because in truth, what do we know now about George W. Bush and this war that we didn't know then? Nothing. If the American people didn't pick up on it fast enough, that's because they weren't paying attention to those of us who were trying to tell them to look beyond God, Gays and Guns and pay attention to an ill-advised and poorly executed war in Iraq, with our troops refereeing a Civil War that had no end in sight.

Elections have consequences. The American people, by putting the Democrats in the majority in Congress in 2006, attempted to have a "do-over" on the 2004 election. But it doesn't work that way. George W. Bush still has a veto pen and the bully pulpit of the Presidency and Karl Rove the spinmeister at his side because sixty million people voted to give them to him for four more years. The American people made their choice on November 2, 2004. Now they have to live with it until January 20, 2009. The best the Democratic majority can do, especially in the Senate where they do not have a true majority, is limit the damage that George W. Bush can do between now and then.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sick and Tired!!!

I couldn't begin to tell you how sick and tired I am of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney accusing the Democratic congress of "meddling" in the planning for the Iraq war. Have they not read the U.S. Constitution? Article I, Section 8 clearly gives the U.S. Congress the power to declare war. Certainly, the fact that the founding fathers gave this power to Congress also implies that they gave them the power to un-declare a war, thus ending it!!!

President Bush, you are not king! You are accountable to the American people, and their elected representatives in the U.S. Congress!!!!

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Tactical Shift

For years, members of the Republican Party and their campaign donors and supporters in the fossil fuel industry have insisted that global warming was a myth, somehow trumped up and based on faulty science. They supported this position with studies funded by the fossil fuel industry which called into question things accepted as fact by mainstream scientists years ago. For a long time this charade succeeded in confusing and dividing the American public, exactly as intended. Polls showed Americans roughly divided along party lines as to whether the threat of global warming was to be taken seriously.

But since the 2004 election, public opinion on this matter has begun to shift. Ordinary Americans have seen the extraordinary weather events of the past few years, such as the rash of hurricanes in '04 and '05 as well as the extraordinarly warm winters in much of the country. Ice is disappearing. Temperature sensitivite species are migrating northward. Amidst all of this evidence that global climate change is not just bound to happen but actually happening, public opinion has shifted so dramatically that President Bush was forced to acknowledge the matter in his 2007 State of the Union address.

So now, what are those on the right, who continue to cash the checks of the fossil fuel industry, to do to continue to divide the American people? Trying to convince them that they cannot believe their own eyes won't work. Two of the right's torch-bearers, in recent columns, have pointed the way for the new strategy. George Will and Jonah Goldberg have, instead of following the same old path, turned the whole question of global climate change into a giant cost/benefit analysis. They argue that while global climate change is happening, it would be so expensive to do what is necessary to stop it that we might as well just throw our hands up into the air and do nothing. Continue driving SUVs to and from massive suburban mansions on crowded highways, they say, because there's nothing that can be done.

The problem with trying to perform a cost/benefit analysis on global climate change is that the problem is so enormous and with so many possible effects that its very hard to put a true price tag on it. How can you perform a cost/benefit analysis when you don't know what the benefits are? What is the benefit of saving coastal cities from inundation by rising seas? What is the benefit to preventing killer hurricanes from lashing coastlines on a regular basis? What is the benefit to maintaining the Atlantic current (known as the Gulf Stream) which is responsible for keeping Northern Europe at an arable temperature?

Moreover, as the world pushes ahead with their efforts to reign in the emission of CO2 from fossil fuels, America will be in a unique position to manufacture the equipment necessary to allow societies to function as they normally do with less pollution. America can manufacture wind turbines, solar panels, and fuel cells. We can manufacture cars that run on biofuels such as soybean-based diesel fuel, or switch grass-based ethanol. We can manufacture railroad locomotives that run on fuel cells, and home generation equipment that will eliminate the need for a costly and inefficient power grid. As we develop and perfect this technology, the "costs" of reducing our CO2 emissions will drop considerably.

In short, there are so many unknowns in this equation that, given the devastating possible effects, it is irresponsible in the extreme to perform a quickie analysis and conclude that this problem is not worth solving. Having rejected the argument that climate change is not happening, hopefully the American people can see through this one, too.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Who didn't get the memo?

Sitting down to watch President Bush's 7th State of the Union address to members of the 110th U.S. Congress and other assorted guests, the change in atmosphere was palpable. It began when President Bush began by shaking the hand of new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). It continued when the President finally acknowledged the reality of global warming, and put forth his initative to reduce U.S. gasoline consumption by 20% in the next ten years. It continued further when the President awoke to the danger posed by our continuing reliance on debt to finance our government's operations, when he proposed balancing the federal budget by 2012.

But then President Bush began to discuss the situation in Iraq, and it was almost as though he had missed a memo and gone back to the old G.W. Bush. He voiced the same old tired justifications about the war on terror and 9/11. And in the end, he persuaded no one, absolutely no one, to support his new policy of escalating the situation in Iraq. Call it a "surge," call it the "McCain Doctrine" as dailykos has done, whatever sounds good, but in the battle between James Baker and Dick Cheney for the President's ear, its clear that Cheney won. The Baker-Hamilton report has clearly been discarded.

But then, in the Democratic response, we saw Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) throw down the gauntlet. A Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat, I was skeptical of Tim Russert's assertion that Webb was a Democrat "to his bones," until I heard him speak. Sen. Webb was articulate, intelligent, and, in a speech he wrote himself, managed to overshadow in nine minutes President Bush's hour-long oratory.

And, just in case President Bush didn't get the memo, he was a stark reminder of how much things have changed in Washington D.C.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Welcome to the New World Order

My apologies for a lack of bloggage over the holidays. I'd just like to welcome all my readers to the New World Order. One week ago, our newly elected Democratic leaders were sworn into office. Congratulations to Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, Treasurer of State Richard Cordray, and Attorney General Marc Dann. Also sworn into office were the members of the 127th Ohio General Assembly, which includes 7 Democrats in previously Republican held state house seats. This narrows the Republican advantage to 53-46 (previously, it has been 60-39) in that body. The State Senate, meanwhile, still has an overwhelming (21-12) Republican advantage.

Gov. Strickland served notice that a new sheriff was in town when he vetoed Senate Bill 117, which was, in the words of Plain Dealer columnist Thomas Suddes, a "sloppy GOP kiss bestowed on clients of Ohio's big-business law firms." Outgoing Gov. Taft could have prevented this by signing or vetoing the bill, instead he did neither, leaving the door open for Gov. Strickland to veto the bill on his first day in office. A new sheriff is in town, and its going to be fun to watch him clean house.