Politics

Slime barrier

Politicians behaving badly

I'm thinking of marketing a politician handshaking kit that would consist of one rubber glove that can be carried in a wallet or purse to protect potential politician handshaking partners from slime. This started out as a comment on Kate's post, but got so long I decided to put it up front. As Kate points out, the Democratically controlled House just approved continued funding of abstinence-only education to the tune of $50 million. What really makes this unbelievable is that the results of a decade-long study (PDF) funded by Congress, released just two months ago, showed conclusively that abstinence-only education has no effect whatsoever on the sexual antics of teenagers. The bar graphs starting on page 45 sum it up.

No Rush Hour

New York hems and haws over Manhattan congestion fees Today is a make-or-break, do-or-die, fish-or-cut-bait, poo-or-get-off-the-pot, we-wish-we-could-think-of-more-hyphenated-clichés day for New York, as state legislators, Governor Eliot Spitzer, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrestle over Bloomberg’s proposal to enact traffic congestion fees. Following the lead of cities like London and Singapore, the Big Apple would charge a fee for vehicles entering or exiting Manhattan below 86th Street at peak hours. Supporters say the plan will reduce air pollution and associated health problems while boosting public transportation; opponents fear it will increase parking and pollution in the outer boroughs. While …

Helpful energy legislation guides

Three handy guides to the flurry of climate and energy legislation in Congress right now: First, there’s a breakdown of the July 4 "Energy Independence Day Initiative" out of the House, which details all the elements by bill and by committee. Handy. Then there’s this graphic in the WaPo, which focuses on five bills that have been introduced in the Senate. Then there’s this piece in the Economist, detailing what has and hasn’t passed, and what likely will and won’t. It finishes with this dispiriting ‘graph: One measure that definitely will not be included in any bill is a cap …

Restoring rural roots

How legislators can help the rural

In a recent trip through the small town of Walthill, Nebraska, the phrase "rural revitalization" took on a whole new meaning. In this case, it was the lack of any kind of prosperity that made it obvious to me why rural communities are in need of revitalization. Main Street looked painfully deserted, with two recent arsons adding fresh scars to the once-active storefronts. As we drove around the residential area, most houses looked to be in some state of disrepair -- so much so that it was difficult to really tell which were homes and which had already been abandoned. If ever there was a town that needed some life breathed back into it, this was it.

Summer property rights update

A smorgasbord of campaigns in various states

There's something energizing about midsummer. If it's not the camping trips, or the afternoon concerts in the park, it must be the flurry of property rights campaigns gearing up for the fall election. Here's the latest:

Dingell channels Cartman

Takes potshots at Markey

In the much-discussed Dingell interview, he said a few other things that were, at least from an inside-baseball perspective, just as interesting as the carbon tax stuff. Especially notable was his scathing comments toward Rep. Markey’s climate change committee. Get a load of this: HITT: The speaker created, or moved to create, at the beginning of the year, a special Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Climate Change. And that caused some heartburn in some quarters of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and I think you had some concerns about it. I wondered, six months after that committee has …

The Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007

It’s weak

I really don't think we have time to waste on safety valves. That said, the new bill by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) is worth understanding because it is garnering a lot of support -- at a cost: But to secure labor and corporate support, the measure also places a limit on the price industry would have to pay for such permits. And to win the endorsement of Alaska's two Republican senators, the bill contains billions of dollars in new money to help their state cope with the effects of climate change on roads, bridges and coastal areas. And even with this bribe for climate adaptation, Ted Stevens (R-AK) would not concede that the drastic effects of climate change ravaging his state are caused primarily by human emissions: Regardless of whether these changes are caused solely by human activity, we must take steps to protect people in the Arctic. Everything you could possibly want to know about the bill is available here. What is the bill's safety valve, which they euphemistically call the "Technology Accelerator Payment"? Additional emissions permits could be bought at $12 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions in the first year, rising by 5 percent above the rate of inflation each year after that. The money from the permits would be widely spread to finance research into clean energy, mitigate the effects of global warming, compensate farmers for higher fuel costs and help low-income families pay their heating and gasoline bills. I'm with the Sierra Club's Dan Becker: It's too weak ... It would be better to wait until more members of Congress understand that the heat is on them to act, and that may have to wait until the next Congress and the next president. I'm also with NWF's Symons, quoted in Greenwire (sub. req'd): "I've not heard anything to suggest this bill is achieving what the NWF has asked for," said Jeremy Symons, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation's climate program. Symons said he did not support the bill's expected "safety valve" provision, which would set a limit of $12 per ton of carbon dioxide in the first year for how much industry must pay for reducing their pollution. The price ceiling, Symons said, would crimp the overall integrity of the emerging U.S. carbon market and halt innovation in new energy technologies. Here is the email that Bingaman's office sent around:

Let's not talk about sex, baby

Congess extends abstinence-only funding

Perhaps I can mention this without this post devolving into a population pissing match, but FYI, on Wednesday the House approved continued funding of abstinence-only education as part of Section 510 of Title V of the Social Security Act. The Dems had indicated that they were going to cut the $50 million grant program, but it was reattached to the bill pretty late in the game, despite the fact that Rep. John Dingell (chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees Title V funding) noted that it “seems to be a colossal failure.” So, really Dems, wtf? I hope …

Bowled Over

Mayors of 29 Great Lakes cities vow to cut water consumption What’s a Friday without some toilet talk? The mayors of 29 Canadian and U.S. cities in the Great Lakes region have agreed to cut water consumption 15 percent from 2000 levels by 2015, and one of their solutions is banning inefficient potties. “We need provincial legislation about low-flow toilets,” said Toronto Mayor David Miller yesterday at a meeting of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. “They need to be mandatory in home renovations.” The cities — including other big guns like Montreal, Chicago, Hamilton, Ont., and Buffalo, …

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