Thursday, May 10, 2012

Catnip 5/10/12


The amphitheatre in Golden Gate Park.

News? Some news:

The Obama campaign is promoting the President's historical stance on gay marriage, asking supporters to sign onto a petition and join the e-mail list, as well as releasing a new video that highlights the fact the Obama is moving us forward while Mitt Romney is moving "Backwards on Equality." What does this mean for the election? Not all that much, according to the pundits and pollsters. While it may cost a few votes in the rural areas and southern areas, the President gains enthusiasm with younger voters and other progressives who were on the fence about even voting at all this year.

The downside on this announcement may be Mitt Romney's problem, according to Norm Scheiber at The New Republic in this astute point: "While swing voters may be ambivalent about gay marriage itself, they’re much less comfortable with displays of intolerance." With the conservative organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage now frothing at the mouth and vowing to make this an issue, Romney will be forced to keep his intolerance on display. That's can't be good in the long run. For Mitt, anyway.

Beyond electoral consequences, Ezra Klein eloquently sums up the most important aspect of the President's announcement: "But there are, of course, many Americans for whom this will matter quite a lot. Many of them are young Americans who perhaps have only recently realized that they're gay, and who live in places, or with families, they know will have trouble accepting that fact. To these Americans, the president's words are a signal that they can look forward to a future in which they will be accepted, and in which they can live in a way that makes them happy. They're evidence in other words, that it gets better. And that's a big deal."

For a real life example of why the President's leadership is so important, we only need to turn to the case of Mitt Romney, prep school bully. The Washington Post recounts a tale today from Romney's Cranbrook school days in 1965, where he first taunted another male student for having long hair - and then he gathered a gang of boys together, and forcibly held the long-haired student down, and cut his hair. And here we thought George W. was a problem child.

Tea Party extremism in some races and "lackluster" candidates in others may cost the Republicans their chance at winning the Senate, according to the experts at Cook and Rothenberg. "The professional handicappers say that although they still expect GOP gains, Democrats are slightly favored to retain their majority, and the majority party is likely to hold just 51 seats — or 50, with the vice president serving as the tiebreaker."

Quinnipiac surveys swing-state Ohio today, and finds that Cook and Rothenberg may be on to something. While President Obama holds only a one-point lead over Romney at 45-44 percent, the Senate race there shows incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown up on challenger Josh Mandel by six points, 46-40. Brown has a strong lead with independents and women, which could be the deciding factor in such a divided state.

James Hansen at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies sends a very scary warning about Canada's tar sands oil reserves. It doesn't get any clearer than this: "Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk."

How about some lovely solar panels instead? The New York Times reports a boom in installation these days: "Installers, often working through big-box chains like Home Depot or Lowe’s, are taking advantage of hefty tax breaks, creative financing techniques and a glut of cheap, Chinese-made panels to make solar power accessible to the mass market for the first time. The number of residential and commercial installations more than doubled over the last two years to 213,957, according to Greentech Media, a research firm."

That's it for now, gotta run....