Saturday, December 13, 2008

Recommended Reading

Here are some articles I recommend reading, particularly the first one-

Vanity Fair: Capitalist Fools--
Behind the debate over remaking U.S. financial policy will be a debate over who’s to blame. It’s crucial to get the history right, writes a Nobel-laureate economist, identifying five key mistakes—under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II—and one national delusion.

TreeHugger (MSN): Cheap Gas: Blessing or Curse?--
Recent drops in prices at the pumps have many questioning whether Americans will continue on their path to efficiency or go back to their old, wasteful ways.

Time: The Aimless War: Why Are We in Afghanistan?

Rolling Stone: Requiem for a Maverick--
John McCain ran one of the most incompetent, schizo campaigns in history — and for that we owe him big-time

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Serious U.S. Energy Policy... Coming Soon?

For understandable reasons, President-elect Obama unveiled his economic team first, and then his foreign policy team shortly after. But climate-mongers such as myself have been patiently waiting to see what his energy team would look like. After all, we've had eight years of an energy policy run basically by lobbyists and industry insiders, and I don't know if you've been paying attention, but that's lead to all sort of horrible problems. So how'd we do?

Obviously it'll be years before we render a true verdict, but the picks are encouraging-
President-elect Barack Obama intends to round out his environmental and natural resources team with a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and three former Environmental Protection Agency officials from the Clinton administration.

The president-elect has selected Steven Chu for energy secretary, Lisa Jackson for EPA administrator, Carol Browner as his energy "czar" and Nancy Sutley to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Democratic officials said Wednesday.

Still unclear is whom Obama will tap for interior secretary...

No former Exxon-Mobil lobbyists? Crazysauce!

Let's look at the team one-by-one. First, the Energy Secretary-
Chu was one of three scientists who shared the Nobel Prize for physics in 1997 for work in cooling and trapping atoms with laser light. He's a professor of physics and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and has been the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 2004, where he has pushed for research into alternative energy as a way to combat global warming.

It is the oldest of the Energy Department's national laboratories, doing only unclassified work, and in recent years under Chu has been at the center of research into biofuels and solar technologies.

Next, the EPA administrator-
Jackson, who will be the first black person to lead the EPA, is a former New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection commissioner who worked at the federal agency for 16 years, including under Browner when she was Clinton's EPA chief. Jackson is a co-chairman of Obama's EPA transition team, and currently serves as chief of staff to New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

A New Orleans native, she grew up in the Lower Ninth Ward, the area stricken by Hurricane Katrina. She holds chemical engineering degrees from Tulane University and Princeton University.

Then, the energy czar-
Browner, who served as EPA chief for eight years under Clinton, will become Obama's go-to person in the White House overseeing energy issues, an area expected to include the environment and climate matters.

Now chair of the National Audubon Society and on the boards of several other environmental groups, Browner has been leading the Obama transition's working group on energy and environment.

Finally, the future head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality-
Sutley, the deputy mayor for energy and environment in Los Angeles and the mayor's representative on the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, is the first prominent member of the gay and lesbian community to earn a senior role in Obama's new administration.

She was an EPA official during the Clinton administration, including being a special assistant to the EPA administrator in Washington. She also previously served on the California State Water Resources Control Board and was an energy adviser to former Gov. Gray Davis.

Now, I'm still not sure we'll ever have the political/national will to do all that is necessarily to tackle the climate change issue, but this is a step in the right direction, and that is certainly better than the alternative. Let's remember that 30 years ago we were at this moment and let it pass us by. Let's not make that mistake again.

[Related reading: Obama Embraces ‘Green Path’ in Economic Stimulus Plan (Bloomberg)]

Auto Bailout Dead, News at 11.

Senate Republicans have killed the auto bailout (for now?) because of a dispute over... surprise, union wages. As expected, those wacky markets didn't take the news well. And it's still not January 20 yet.

[UPDATE: White House plan B is to to use the $700B fund to do this without Congress.

UPDATE #2: All of this talk-- not just now, but in general-- of conservatives/Republicans supporting the 'free market' is BS. Like Bush and every other major GOP leader before him, they support the 'free market' a) in good times only, and b) as a justification for denying people health care and benefits and job protections, etc. As soon as real shit starts to go down-- ie. your ideology and policies have succeeded in tanking the global economy-- you start getting realistic awfully quick.

The only true 'free market' absolutists are the libertarians... and they have no real say in the GOP because of their socially liberal and tolerant views. The GOP is the party of Big Business to the larger extent (and of religious hucksters to the smaller extent), and they don't want the markets to be free, but rather tilted to their advantage.]

Alan Colmes, We Hardly Knew Ye.

Hall and Oates reunite on The Daily Show to say goodbye to Fox's oft-abused token liberal.

The Bush Legacy, Pt. 4: Going Out With a Whimper...

The other night, the Daily Show had a good report comparing and contrasting the actions of by the Bush administration during the economic crisis and those of his successor-

But the Bush administration does have his Cabinet hard at work... regurgitating legacy talking points. Elsewhere, the majority of Americans are trying to pretend that they never, ever supported this awful man, including obviously millions who twice voted for him. Finally, a look at the Bush administration... by the numbers.

Ohhhh Presidente Arbusto, we're all going to miss you too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Odds and Ends

This is a roundup of news that is important, even if it's not very sexy...

Reports on inauguration plans indicate "a four-day affair, replete with the traditional balls but also featuring service projects to honor Martin Luther King's holiday," though some have called for a leaner celebration.

Elsewhere, VP-elect Biden reassures America that he will be no Dick Cheney.

Here's change I can't believe in... key Democrats urging Obama to continue the interrogation, intelligence policies of the Bush administration "to ensure continuity". That's like yelling at a firefighter for messing with the "continuity" of the flames.

Here's a NY Times story that reiterates why that is such a bad idea.

So Matt Drudge took two separate news stories yesterday-- one about Obama planning a diplomatic trip to an Islamic capital after taking office and one about him being sworn in with his full name as customary-- and came up with this classy juxtaposition-

Speaking of classy, Bill'O and Karl Rove found the real culprit of the economic crisis... the darn liberal media!

This just in! Newspapers are totally fucked! First there was the news about the Tribune company possibly going into bankruptcy, then reports of the NY Times taking out a mortgage on its Manhattan headquarters. The NY Post, however, will always be fine, so long as Jennifer Aniston still has titties.

This is an interesting month for learning new things about former Presidents. First, a look at once-secret Reagan documents on our relationship with Iraq. Also, more fun with Richard Nixon.

Mother Jones debunks the right-wing's Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac talking points.

Finally "clean coal" is like Santa Claus... spoiler alert... neither one actually exists.

Did We Bail Out The Cars Yet?

Here's the the latest news on the most exciting bailout ever-
The House of Representatives approved bailout legislation on Wednesday that would force U.S. automakers to restructure or fail, sending the measure to the Senate where prospects for passage appeared grim...

Democrats advocated passage based on the belief that government inaction could lead to an industry collapse that would cost taxpayers far more than the loans intended to see them through March and help them restructure...

Here's my understanding of what is happening now... Democrats want something done right now-- even if they know they may be just postponing the inevitable-- to buy time until January/February when they can work on a real plan with a better President and a more progressive congress. Republicans, on the other hand, are ready to block this because a) they want to remind people they still exist, b) their constituents are super-pissed at all this bailout bullshit, and c) fuck the unions, and fuck the Democrats, yo!

In short, this is a very complicated matter.

Meanwhile, the world waits with baited breath for Washington to make a choice-
The dollar fell against the euro and yen on Thursday as traders waited to see whether a US bill on a bailout of the stricken American auto industry will clear the US Senate...

So. Is it January yet?

Economy Finally Shitty Enough To Make People Consume Less

Top headline on "For first time on record, Americans reduce their debt levels, government reports."

Ummm... yay?

[*Subject title parody of this post-election Onion article.]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Marriage is between a man and the woman he traded a goat for.

I'll be back blogging tomorrow-- including some more 'Reader's Choice' topics-- but in the meantime, here is the second part of Jon Stewart's interview with Mike Huckabee last night, debating gay marriage. I felt Stewart's best punch was when he pointed out that Huckabee, and other gay marriage opponents, seem to have an entirely different idea of what gay people even are than those who actually know some do. We're people, not a "lifestyle".

[First part of the interview-- on the role of government-- available here.]

"I've got this thing and it's [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing."

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is the world's biggest fucking idiot. That is all.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Barack Obama Meets The Press

Obama sits down with Tom Brokaw to discuss the economy, bailouts, foreign policy, etc.