Monday, January 28, 2013

Catnip 1/28/13: Soon to be Dawn

Ferry Building Sunrise

Special focus on Congressional Republicans today...

Paul Ryan Embraces Spending Cuts He Said Would Devastate The Country
During an interview on Meet The Press on Sunday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) predicted that the sequester cuts are “going to happen” and made no concrete proposals for how to avoid the reductions. The tone represents a sharp rhetorical and policy shift for the onetime GOP vice presidential nominee, who warned during the 2012 presidential campaign that the cuts would “devastate” the country and undermine job growth.

Ryan: GOP Won’t Shut Down Government Over Budget Goals 
Ryan, the House Budget chairman, signaled that even though Republicans will push hard for spending cuts, they are “more than happy” to continue spending at levels written into law if the alternative is a government shutdown.... The budget chair said Republicans have no interest in raising revenues, either via higher tax rates or reforming deductions and loopholes, insisting that spending is the problem.

The GOP Searches for a New Strategy — in All the Wrong Places
In 2012, the Republican Party was hurt by its positions on immigration, abortion, gay rights, contraception, climate change and social-spending programs. Fidelity to these positions will only cripple it further over time, as the U.S. becomes more socially liberal and less white. Moneyed conservative outside groups and a GOP base that has lurched to the right lately are prepared to punish dissidents. Which is why it is no surprise that even now, in this period of reflection on the party’s failures, the GOP is letting its policies go largely unexamined.

Republicans think the sequester gives them leverage. They’re wrong. Now that Republicans have delayed the debt ceiling for three months, their next point of attack, they say, are the deep spending cuts in the so-called “sequester.” House Speaker John Boehner told the Wall Street Journal editorial board that the sequester is “as much leverage as we’re going to get.” He meant that to sound reassuring to conservatives. But I can’t figure out why they’re reassured... Having lost an election, and having tied themselves to a no-tax pledge, they’re so desperate for leverage, so desperate for a hostage they can actually shoot, that they’re willing to point the gun at their own head and threaten to pull the trigger.

Threat of automatic cuts costly to federal agencies 
The drastic $85 billion in automatic spending cuts Congress approved in hopes of heading off another deficit showdown may or may not occur, but federal agencies say the threat has been disrupting government for months as officials take costly and inefficient steps to prepare. A National Weather Service official is planning to shut down radars on sunny days in the South — and crossing his fingers that no unexpected storms pass through. New federal grants for medical research are being postponed, resulting in layoffs now and costly paperwork later. And military leaders, who are delaying training for active and reserve forces, are trying to negotiate millions of dollars in penalties that the Defense Department is incurring from canceled contracts.

Paul Krugman: U.S. has ‘running room’
Paul Krugman on Monday said the deficit isn’t his top concern and called for President Barack Obama to stay focused on job creation. “We still have substantial running room,” Krugman, the economist and New York Times columnist, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Advanced countries with stable governments — which I think we have, though I’m not entirely sure —that borrow in their own currency have a lot of running room. On my list of things to worry about, the long-term deficit is probably number five, number six.”

More Krugman: Makers, Takers, Fakers
Like the new acknowledgment that the perception of being the party of the rich is a problem, this represents a departure for the G.O.P. — but in the opposite direction. In the past, Republicans would justify tax cuts for the rich either by claiming that they would pay for themselves or by claiming that they could make up for lost revenue by cutting wasteful spending. But what we’re seeing now is open, explicit reverse Robin Hoodism: taking from ordinary families and giving to the rich. That is, even as Republicans look for a way to sound more sympathetic and less extreme, their actual policies are taking another sharp right turn.

E.J. Dionne Jr: The urgency of growth
The moment’s highest priority should be speeding economic growth and ending the waste, human and economic, left by the Great Recession. But you would never know this because the conversation in our nation’s capital is being held hostage by a ludicrous cycle of phony fiscal deadlines driven by a misplaced belief that the only thing we have to fear is the budget deficit.

Why President Obama is right about the GOP 
“Until Republicans feel that there’s a real price to pay for them just saying no and being obstructionist, you’ll probably see at least a number of them arguing that we should keep on doing it,” the president said. “It worked for them in the 2010 election cycle, and I think there are those who believe that it can work again.”... While GOP strategists might dismiss Obama’s analysis of the way forward for their side as overly simplistic, there is considerable truth in what he says. And the direction the party decides to head on that very question will be a telling indicator of the nature of both the 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 Republican primary fight.

Democrats, tea party unite vs. Mitch McConnell 
Tea party activists looking to oust Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a GOP primary may get some help from an unlikely source: Democrats. Big Democratic donors, local liberal activists and a left-leaning super PAC in Kentucky are telling tea partiers that they are poised to throw financial and organizational support behind a right-wing candidate should one try to defeat the powerful GOP leader in a 2014 primary fight.

Boehner pledge to committee chairmen may cause logistical problems
Boehner recently told his colleagues he will no longer negotiate one-on-one with President Obama on high-stakes fiscal issues. Instead, he will return to “regular order,” meaning House GOP policymaking will start at the committee level. Returning power to committee chairmen on the debt-limit extension, sequester and funding the government has been praised by Republicans. But the workability of the strategy will be tested, given fast-approaching deadlines on those thorny matters. Boehner’s promise to allow the House to “work its will” has different meanings to different Republican lawmakers.

Beyond Selma-to-Stonewall 
Now that Mr. Obama has declared that he believes denying gay people the right to wed is not only unfair and morally wrong but also legally unsupportable, the urgent question is how he will translate his words into action. To start, he should have his solicitor general file a brief in the Proposition 8 case being argued before the Supreme Courtin March, saying that California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Why Old Age Could Kill American Unions 
And yet, things stand to get much worse in the coming years, whether or not red state politicians keep passing right-to-work laws or factories go on another spree of layoffs. You see, unions aren't just shrinking: They're getting older. Significantly older. The graph below looks at the composition of union members by age over the past decade. Today, almost a quarter of union members are older than 55, up from around 15 percent in 2002.

The Time for a Polite Green Revolution Has Passed 
Whatever policy approach is next embraced, the path to meaningful action will require a fundamental paradigm shift. Climate is the defining issue of our generation. Yet it has not been dealt with directly in the United States because solving this problem will require confronting market capitalist forces that are considered fundamental to the American way of life. As Naomi Klein has noted, lowering global carbon emissions to the level that scientists advise will be achieved "only by radically reordering our economic and political systems." History teaches us that such dramatic change requires a visionary president unafraid to use the power of the executive office to take on deeply entrenched interests.

Shale gas boom now visible from space 
Oil companies at the heart of the US shale oil boom are burning off enough gas to power all the homes in Chicago and Washington combined in a practice causing growing concern about the waste of resources and damage to the environment. The rapid increase has made the US one of the world’s worst countries for gas flaring. The volume of gas flared in the US has tripled in just five years, according to World Bank estimates and is now fifth highest in the world, behind Russia, Nigeria, Iran and Iraq.

Drought is killing trees across the Midwest 
Hundreds of thousands of trees died in the historic drought of 2012, and many more will succumb in the next few years, scientists say... Indiana's white cedar and Florida cypress trees began dying in late summer, she says, and Alberta and Colorado blue spruce are succumbing now... A drought outlook released Jan. 17 by the federal Climate Prediction Center projected that drought conditions are likely to remain entrenched through April and could get worse in the Plains, Rockies and Southwest.

UC Berkeley: Students campaign for fossil fuel divestment 
UC Berkeley students are calling for the university to divest from fossil fuel companies as part of a nationwide environmental campaign to stop climate change. Environmental student groups have partnered with organizations such as in asking the campus administration to freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies and to divest within five years from direct ownership of funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Catnip 1/26/13: Half Moon Bay


Just south of Half Moon Bay. 1000 px.

Surprise! Exclusive: Billionaires secretly fund attacks on climate science 
The Donors Trust, along with its sister group Donors Capital Fund, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is funneling millions of dollars into the effort to cast doubt on climate change without revealing the identities of its wealthy backers or that they have links to the fossil fuel industry. However, an audit trail reveals that Donors is being indirectly supported by the American billionaire Charles Koch who, with his brother David, jointly owns a majority stake in Koch Industries, a large oil, gas and chemicals conglomerate based in Kansas.

Surprise Two! Senators backing Keystone XL pipeline got lots of campaign cash from fossil fuel donors 
In a letter to President Obama Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 53 senators, nine of them Democrats, urged approval for the new route of the Keystone XL pipeline. The controversial conduit would carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands of Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast where it would be refined into oil and its derivatives. During their political careers as far back as 1999, those senators have taken an average of $551,000 from fossil fuel companies in campaign contributions, a total of $27 billion.

Kerry Pledges To Confront Climate Change: ‘I Will Be A Passionate Advocate’ Of Action
Kerry’s likely confirmation is good news for confronting climate change. He has a long career as a climate hawk, taking to the Senate floor to call for action on our “biggest long-term threat” to national security. With the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline in the next Secretary of State’s hands, his remarks may mean some hope for the administration’s decision on the tar sands project. He urged senators to consider the cost of climate inaction, saying “I will spend a lot of time trying to persuade you and other colleagues of this.”

Waxman: Keystone XL 'small' piece of climate puzzle
A top Democratic global warming advocate said Thursday that President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline is a “small” part of battling climate change. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said he hopes Obama nixes the project to bring Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast. But he stressed that Keystone is just one piece of the whole climate picture.

The EPA will soon have to face austerity
Several EPA employee union leaders say the agency is stonewalling on the agency’s plans to handle a sequestration-squeezed budget. EPA officials, after repeated prodding, held a phone conference Thursday with about two dozen union leaders in order to share their plans about how the agency would handle a severely slashed budget. But EPA didn’t have a lot to offer, according to AFGE 238 Treasurer John O’Grady and Vice President Tom Link.

GE sets a record in thin-film solar cell efficiency
GE has emerged, at least technologically, as the top challenger to First Solar Inc., the largest maker of thin-film solar cells, said Keith Emory, head of the NREL lab that verifies solar-cell efficiency... In Emory's lab, GE's solar cell reached an efficiency rate of 18.3 percent — a more than 40 percent improvement in performance in the past three years. Efficiency is a measure of how much solar energy a cell turns into electricity. First Solar had held the efficiency record at 17.1 percent.

McDonald's Filet-O-Fish, Fish McBites going all-sustainable
McDonald’s, one of the largest single buyers of fish in the country, said all of its Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and Fish McBites snacks will be made of Alaskan Pollack sustainably fished in the wild. And the company is willing to pay to prove it. The fast-food giant will pay annual fees and royalties to the Marine Stewardship Council for the right to slap the group’s so-called ecolabel on its product packaging in its 14,000 stores nationwide.

What are Fish McBites and where can I get them? The only bad part about that is we probably won't see Filet-O-Fish on the Value Menu anytime soon.

Oh well, it's the thought that counts.

Now He Tells Me


Dissolve shot of the TV the night of the DNC convention. Special cause the Michigan delegation is behind him.

This was rather amusing...
"I think that the influence of television over the last half century has been harmful to the operations of our democracy," said Gore. "In the age of our founding, and for much of the history of the republic, crucial. Individuals could gain easy access to information and could express their own views. They can't do that on television."
Actually they can, if they want to put the work in to learn the craft - and television is not an easy medium to master when it comes the art of expression, mostly due to the constraints of time and the number of people it takes to make it run. But it's doable, especially now that you can take high quality video with something as simple as your phone. Get good enough at it or be at the right place at the right time, and television will be happy to slap it on the air because television has a voracious appetite for content.

And I would quibble about the phrase "easy access to information"; that only became possible for the masses after the start of the Industrial Age, a relatively short while ago. In our early history, collections of information came in the form of academic and social libraries which were a privilege of the wealthy.

Go on...
"They get plenty of information from it, but they can't participate in a dialogue or engage in collaborative decision-making," he went on. "But the internet is now growing in importance and pervasiveness, to the point where soon it may offer an alternative to the TV media environment that reinvigorates democracy. I'm hoping that's the case."
Um, yeah, it has been for more than a decade now. Some of us had these great things called "blogs" where we expressed the hell out of ourselves about democracy. Who is going to tell Al what "collaborative decision making" about democracy on the internet looks like?

But thanks for the heads up sir. Will take your words under advisement.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Catnip 1/24/13: Highway One


See pretty planet in 1000 px. It may be underwater soon.

Obama Climate Vow Could Make EPA a Political Target 
As Obama's second term begins, the EPA might become an even bigger target as Republicans brace for the likelihood that Obama will use the agency's powers to pursue his climate agenda. Environmental groups have urged the administration to use EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act to limit the carbon emissions power plants are allowed to produce and to implement stricter standards on leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas, both of which can be achieved without any further congressional approval.

The 120-year old Sierra Club will lead a group of environmental activists in an act of invitation-only civil disobedience against the development of oil sands, the first such action in the group’s history. “For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director. “We are watching a global crisis unfold before our eyes, and to stand aside and let it happen — even though we know how to stop it — would be unconscionable.”

How Much Will Tar Sands Oil Add to Global Warming?
NASA climatologist James Hansen's acts of civil disobedience started in 2009, and he was first arrested in 2011 for protesting the development of Canada's tar sands and, especially, the Keystone XL pipeline proposal that would serve to open the spigot for such oil even wider. "To avoid passing tipping points, such as initiation of the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, we need to limit the climate forcing severely. It's still possible to do that, if we phase down carbon emissions rapidly, but that means moving expeditiously to clean energies of the future," he explains. "Moving to tar sands, one of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fuels on the planet, is a step in exactly the opposite direction, indicating either that governments don't understand the situation or that they just don't give a damn."

These 14 fossil-fuel projects could make our climate goals impossible
If we want to avoid severe global warming, we’ll have to stay within a strict carbon budget in the decades ahead. That won’t be easy. There are already 14 major fossil-fuel projects being planned worldwide with the potential to blow past that budget, a new report argues. The key word here, however, is “potential.” The report (pdf), from Greenpeace and Ecofys, identifies 14 of the largest fossil-fuel projects in development. That includes China’s big coal-mining plans for its western provinces; proposed oil and gas drilling in the Arctic; the revival of Iraq’s oil industry; and the current tar-sands boom in Canada. It also includes slated increases in coal exports from Indonesia, Australia and the United States.

Keystone XL Pipeline Decision Still Months Away
Boehner said all six states along the proposed route now support the project, which also is backed by a bipartisan coalition in Congress. Polls show a majority of Americans also back the pipeline. Boehner said he recognizes the political pressure Obama faces from environmental groups and others who oppose the project, but said "with our energy security at stake and many jobs in limbo, he should find a way to say yes." White House spokesman Jay Carney said the State Department was reviewing the project and he did not want to "get ahead of that process."

Obama's Inaugural Speech Rallies Campus Climate Campaign 
President Barack Obama's surprising new focus on climate change is galvanizing a nascent student movement that is trying to turn a university-based assault on oil companies into this generation's version of the 1980s campaign against apartheid in South Africa.

Ikea to Double Renewable Energy Investment by 2020 
Ikea Group, the world’s biggest furniture retailer, will double its investment in renewable energy to $4 billion by 2020 as part of a drive to reduce costs as cash-strapped consumers become more price sensitive. The additional spending on projects such as wind farms and solar parks will be needed to keep expenses down as the company maintains its pace of expansion, Chief Executive Officer and President Mikael Ohlsson said in an interview in Malmo, Sweden.

Sting operations reveal Mafia involvement in renewable energy 
The still-emerging links of the mafia to the once-booming wind and solar sector here are raising fresh questions about the use of government subsidies to fuel a shift toward cleaner energies, with critics claiming huge state incentives created excessive profits for companies and a market bubble ripe for fraud. China-based Suntech, the world’s largest solar panel maker, last month said it would need to restate more than two years of financial results because of allegedly fake capital put up to finance new plants in Italy. The discoveries here also follow so-called “eco-corruption” cases in Spain, where a number of companies stand accused of illegally tapping state aid.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Catnip 1/22/13: Better Late Than Never


Bit of a green focus, these are from this morning. 

Speech Gives Climate Goals Center Stage 
Mr. Obama is heading into the effort having extensively studied the lessons from his first term, when he failed to win passage of comprehensive legislation to reduce emissions of the gases that cause global warming. This time, the White House plans to avoid such a fight and instead focus on what it can do administratively to reduce emissions from power plants, increase the efficiency of home appliances and have the federal government itself produce less carbon pollution.

Big second-term test: Meeting Obama's climate vows
Some environmental advocates, including a couple former Obama aides, have also called for a reorganization within the White House to push climate and energy issues closer to the top of the agenda. One such approach — backed by former Obama transition team co-chair John Podesta and a coalition of activists and former senators — would create a White House energy council similar to those that oversee economic and national security policy.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee will press Democratic senators up for reelection next year in red states to distance themselves from President Obama's promise to tackle climate change. Votes for cap-and-trade sunk a bunch of House Democrats from coal country in 2010, and GOP leaders think this remains a winning issue in states with major domestic energy industries - including Louisiana, Alaska, Colorado and Montana. .... 'We hope that 2014 Democrats like Mary Landrieu and Max Baucus enjoyed the party circuit in Washington last night," NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh tells Score, "but given President Obama's vow to pursue a left-wing environmental agenda that will kill jobs in their states and others, voters deserve to know exactly where their Senators stand."

Koch Brothers vow to fight environmental policy
Arlington, VA- Americans for Prosperity, the nation’s foremost advocate for economic freedom, responded to President Obama’s inaugural address with a statement from AFP President, Tim Phillips. "President Obama chose to deliver a harshly ideological, aggressively partisan speech more appropriate for the campaign trail than for the solemn occasion of his inaugural ceremony. His address read like a liberal laundry list with global warming at the top. Americans have rejected environmental extremism in the past and they will again. Americans for Prosperity will certainly be in the vanguard of the effort to oppose the President’s big government policies that spend too much and regulate too much and as a consequence are failing to get our economy moving again.”

Obama’s green team: He really meant it
Zichal, asked after her remarks when Obama would provide specifics on his second-term climate plans, declined to tip the White House’s hand. “I am not going to get in front of my boss on this one,” Zichal told The Hill Monday night. “I think you will, in due time, see a really aggressive agenda on the energy and climate initiative in line with what the president talked about today. “I think you will hear more detail about what [Obama] wants to do in the State of the Union [speech],” Salazar told reporters.

President Obama's Climate Change Pledge In Second Inauguration Speech Tested By Keystone XL Pipeline
Environmental groups say the pipeline would transport "dirty oil" from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, and produce heat-trapping gases that contribute to global warming. They also worry about a possible spill. "Starting with rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, the president must make fighting global warming a central priority," Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America, said Monday.

House GOPers are making the most of their retreat on debt ceiling by hitting Senate Dems on budget. Boehner's office puts out a list of things you could have done in four years since the Senate has passed a budget, mostly trivial nonsense like driving from Key West to Seattle 684 times. In a very telling indication of Republican priorities though, leading the list is the oil industry's first wish: a mention of the Keystone pipeline.

Senate Democrats promise to pass a budget
In the next few months, Senate Democrats will take steps to ensure that they’ll pass a full budget resolution: Schumer’s spokesman tweeted that Democrats will use the budget reconciliation process to fast-track the reach a deficit deal, which allows the Senate to pass it with 51 votes and avoid a potential filibuster. But that also means that the bill will be strictlylimited to provisions that have a major fiscal impact, limiting outside horse-trading as well.

Nominee to lead Treasury values social safety net
When Jack Lew became President Obama’s budget director, he removed from his new office a portrait of Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first Treasury secretary and the father of American finance, and put up paintings of New York City by jobless artists who had been hired into the New Deal’s public works program. That small gesture, say people who know Lew, speaks volumes about the mind-set of the man Obama has nominated to serve as the 76th Treasury secretary — a sustained focus on protecting the nation’s social safety net over three decades of budget battles in which programs that support the poor and jobless have been targets for cuts.

Republican Teddy Turner, running in the special election to succeed Tim Scott, went up over the weekend with a bio spot on broadcast and cable TV. ...Strategy Group for Media produced. "After Mark Sanford, polling shows this is a completely wide open race for the second spot in the runoff, and the special primary is only 55 days away," a GOP operative says. Stephen Colbert's sister, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, will formally file today as a Democratic candidate for the seat.

NBC/WSJ poll: Majority, for first time, want abortion to be legal 
As the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision takes place on Tuesday, a majority of Americans – for the first time – believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. What’s more, seven in 10 respondents oppose Roe v. Wade being overturned, which is the highest percentage on this question since 1989.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Catnip 1/21/13: Dawn of a New Day


Some good inaugural reads.

Obama: Inauguration a chance to celebrate ‘this incredible nation’
The president said looking around the room he could see people from “every walk of life” who had “invested so much of their heart, soul, time, money and energy.” “One of the things that made this campaign unique was the degree of investment and ownership people had in this common project of ours, because you understood this was not just about a candidate,” Obama added. “It was not just about Joe Biden or Barack Obama. It was about us and who we are as a nation, what values we cherish, how hard we are willing to fight to make those values live for future generations.”

CNN Inauguration Poll 
 Four years ago, nearly seven in ten Americans questioned in a CNN survey said they were thrilled or happy that Barack Obama was about to be inaugurated. Now, according to CNN's latest poll, that number is down 18 points, to 50%. Four years ago, six in ten saw Obama's inauguration as a celebration by all Americans of democracy in action, with just 39% saying it was a political celebration by the supporters of the winning candidate. Now, the numbers are nearly reversed, with 62% saying the second inauguration is a celebration by those backing the president, and 35% saying it's a celebration of democracy.

Obama's Deficit Demons Can Be Vanquished In Second Term Thanks To Political, Economic Momentum 
The underpinnings of the current manufactured crises give him a chance. Despite the ubiquitous deficit hyperventilation in and around the Capitol, the fiscal situation Obama faces is not dire or insurmountable. Deficit woes are and always have been more political than economic. The consensus of mainstream experts is that there is little risk of catastrophe in running large deficits over the next few years, and that the budget gap can be narrowed dramatically without attacking programs that benefit the elderly or the disadvantaged, as long as the economy continues its slow but steady recovery.

AP Analysis: With optimism for all, Obama has tough 2nd term to-do list and big battles ahead 
First up is certain battle with Congress in the next few months over deadlines on automatic budget cuts, expiring government spending authority and raising the debt limit. House Republicans last week agreed to bump up the debt limit slightly, but that just puts off that part of the fight for a few months. Obama’s goal is to get through that trifecta and still have the political capital left for the things he’d rather focus on: reducing gun violence, overhauling immigration policy, revamping tax laws, addressing climate change and more.

NBC Analysis: A more confident Obama emerges for second term
Go big or play it safe? It’s a calculus all second-term presidents make when they’re fresh off a re-election, emboldened by the satisfaction that a majority of voters approved enough of their first term to send them back to the White House, yet experienced enough to understand the pitfalls of the legislative fights ahead. Like many of his predecessors, Obama looks poised to pursue the former course.

Tomasky: Why Obama Needs to Deliver a Tough Inaugural
He needs to send a signal in his address that he means business and that he’s figured out who’s boss. A first-term president with very little Washington and world experience in the middle of the worst economic crisis in 80 years was bound to be a little tentative. But now he’s a second-termer with plenty of experience, knowledge of the sort that only the president has, and a recovering economy (for which he’s bound to get the credit). He’s pretty popular again. The Republicans contrive new ways every day to get less popular. He’s got the upper hand, and he needs to act like it.

NYT: Krugman: The Big Deal 
F.D.R. had his New Deal; well, Mr. Obama has his Big Deal. He hasn’t delivered everything his supporters wanted, and at times the survival of his achievements seemed very much in doubt. But if progressives look at where we are as the second term begins, they’ll find grounds for a lot of (qualified) satisfaction.

After the Cliff, Another Mountain to Climb: The Twin Peaks of Climate Change and Energy
Though Washington's leadership vacuum hasn't changed much in the past four years, plenty about climate and energy has. Climate scientists say that the planet is warming faster than earlier computer models had predicted. Arctic sea ice and glaciers around the world are melting at alarming rates. The first 10 months of 2012 were the warmest on record...On the energy front things have changed, too. America has hit pay dirt with shale oil and gas. These emerging energy sources are producing new jobs and bringing manufacturing back to America.

Joe Biden to climate activists: 'Keep the faith' 
Vice President Joe Biden reassured environmentalists Sunday night that the Obama administration would not let climate change fall by the wayside in the president's second term. "I'll tell you what my green dream is: that we finally face up to climate change," Biden said during a surprise appearance at the "Green Ball," an inaugural weekend event for environmental groups....While the green groups credit President Barack Obama with making significant progress on environmental issues, including with new regulations on power plant emissions and a dramatic jump in vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, many complain that he has done too little to address what scientists call an increasing threat of catastrophic climate change. The major strategy for dealing with that problem, through cap and trade, died in the Senate during Obama's first term.

Foreign Policy: Pursuing Ambitious Global Goals, but With a More Modest Strategy
Bitter experience — from getting the most modest arms control agreement through the Senate his first year, trying and failing to engage leaders in Iran and North Korea, discovering his lack of leverage over Egypt, Pakistan and Israel, and finding Afghanistan to be a costly waste of American lives and resources — is driving him to a strategy reminiscent of one of his Republican predecessors, President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It is a strategy in which Mr. Obama will try to redirect world events subtly, rather than turning to big treaties, big military interventions and big aid packages.

First lady to help promote presidential agenda 
But beyond the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural festivities, the first lady will play a role in helping to try and advance her husband's policy goals over the next four years through a fractured Congress in a divided nation. The first sign of this came on Friday when she appeared in a video broadly explaining how the Obama for America campaign will transform into an issues advocacy organization... It is unclear what specific fights the first lady will engage. But it is likely her role will be to rally support for her husband's legislative priorities, at the same time continuing to help shape her husband's legacy that many people think has largely been written.

Change Comes: After 4 Years, Friends See Shifts in the Obamas 
The Obamas have gained and lost in their four years in the White House, becoming seasoned professionals instead of newcomers, more conventional, with a contracted sense of possibility. They are steady characters, not given to serial self-reinvention. Yet in interviews, current and former White House and campaign aides, donors and friends from Chicago said they could see how the president and the first lady had been affected by their roles.

Have a great day everyone...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013



I was wrong Pop - I want a '59, not a '63. 
Sure, the new Corvette will be green with GPS and computers and all the bells and whistles, but this style was just so darn cute...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Keep off the grass

The National Mall in DC recently underwent $16 million in renovation to a major portion of the turf, which had been battered by years of resident, tourist, and protester feet. Just as it gets to the finish, here come the inaugural crowds to stomp on it all over again.

What to do? Well, so goes the endless budget battle, so goes the grass...
For the inauguration, the section of the Mall with new turf has been placed under the control of two different committees — a presidential committee and a congressional committee. 
The National Park Service said the presidential committee plans to pay for the turf protection in its sector, which runs from Fourth Street to Seventh Street NW. 
But the congressional committee says it can’t pay for its portion, the area from Third Street to Fourth Street. It was told about the turf protection too late and has no money budgeted for it.

So, Congress apparently will stick the Park Service with the work of repairing any damage, claiming that since they weren't told until December, and that they are woefully deficient in the foresight and common sense department, they can't possibly cough up the $115,000 out of a budget of $1.23 million for their section of turf. Naming names: Boehner, Cantor, Alexander, Schumer, Pelosi and Reid. Given the fiscal irresponsibility of the first three, I'm guessing the last three didn't have much say in the matter.

Somehow the presidential committee can come up with $800,000 though. Interesting how one branch can find the will to pay the bills, isn't it?

Saturday, January 05, 2013

(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay


From the WSJ:
On Jan. 8, 1968,Otis Redding's "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay" was released on Stax's Volt label. Co-written by Redding and guitarist Steve Cropper, the single reached No. 1 on Billboard's pop chart in March 1968, where it remained for four weeks. Two Grammys followed, along with the song's induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. 
Redding never heard the single. On Dec. 10, 1967—just 18 days after the recording session—the 26-year-old singer died in a plane crash in Wisconsin, killing everyone on board except Ben Cauley, the trumpeter in his band.

I did not know the history behind this song; certainly makes it all the more melancholy and poignant.
Want to thank everyone for their well wishes of the past few days. It's been a tumultuous 48 hours, to say the least, and right now I don't have any answers for your questions. So be patient, and time will sort out what happens next. 

Until then, I need to go watch the ships for a bit...