Politics

More Dingell

Is he losing his influence?

Glenn Hurowitz writes that Dingell may finally be losing his influence: Part of the reason for Dingell’s decreasing power is that he’s become rather unpopular within a Democratic caucus that’s willing to tolerate internal policy differences, but increasingly unwilling to accept his barely veiled attacks on Pelosi and his open war with the environmental movement, which is providing more and more ground troops to Democratic field operations on Election Day. The guy isn’t built for parliamentary party unity, that’s for sure! Glenn makes a good case, but I continue to think that the "open war" thing is a bit reductive. …

Iraq and electricity again

Micropower is smarter military strategy

This post from Tom Grant at his excellent blog Arms & Influence reinforces the point I (channeling Amory Lovins) made in this post, namely: The centralized power grid in Iraq is intrinsically vulnerable to terrorist attack, thereby crippling our efforts to create some measure of security and civil society. Our determination to rebuild it, rather than assisting the development of a decentralized micropower grid, is driven by corporatism rather than clear-eyed strategy. Grant also makes another favorite point of mine, which is that the centralized grid serves as a mechanism of political control. That’s why Saddam built it that way. …

I'm from the government and I'm here to help

Reversing Reagan’s joke

This phrase was the punchline to Ronald Reagan's cruel joke about the nine most dangerous words in the English language. Well, maybe it's getting to the point that those words can be used in a positive way. Paul Waldman, in an online article at The American Prospect, writes: As hard as it may be for many progressives to accept it, scarred as they are by years of GOP abuse and the tepid, apologetic stance of their own allies, the time has finally come for them to defend, without reservation, the idea of a vigorous, engaged government. They can finally say, without fear of disastrous political consequences, that sometimes government is not the problem, it's the solution. On the other hand, Roger Cohen of the International Herald Tribune, writing in the New York Times op-ed page on August 6, seems to want us to not think about solutions: Economic power lies with central bankers, global corporations and high-rolling masters of the universe. Military power is constrained by mutually assured destruction and the 24-hour news cycle. What remains are image, perception and identity. That is, just watch the political fun and games, and strutting, and symbolism; don't worry about global warming, the end of cheap oil, mass extinction, the dying oceans, rivers, and lakes, and the deforested landscapes. The "central bankers, global corporations and high-rolling masters of the universe" will be sure to keep business-as-usual going, and there's nothing we can do about it.

Romm on the policy and politics of global warming

Watch him on ‘OnPoint’

Very good piece here from E&ETV ($ub req'd). Worth the time to watch. Description:

Irony alert

Honk if you think I’m a giant asshole

New specialty license plate option being offered in Oklahoma: “For Sooners looking to show their terror-fighting pride while tearing up the asphalt,” writes one USA Today blogger. (h/t: TP)

BPA: Here to Stay?

Controversial panel will decide whether bisphenol A poses a health risk Last week, several dozen scientists issued a consensus statement that ubiquitous chemical compound bisphenol A likely poses health and reproductive risks to humans. This week, an expert panel will finalize a report for the U.S. National Toxicology Program on whether humans should indeed try to stay away from BPA; if they say yea, it could be the first step toward federal regulation of the chemical. But some scientists say the report is biased toward the chemical industry and downplays risks. An early draft was written by an outside consultant …

An interview with Mike Gravel about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Mike Gravel switched from the Democratic Party to the Libertarian Party in March 2008; after failing to secure the Libertarian nomination, he ended his presidential campaign in May 2008. Mike Gravel. In his “Rock” campaign ad, Mike Gravel silently stares into the camera, throws a stone into a lake, and walks off into the distance. It’s disconcerting, off-the-wall, and low-budget — just like his presidential campaign. As a senator from Alaska during the ’70s, Gravel was best-known for fighting nuclear weapons, nuclear …

Gravel on the Issues

A look at Mike Gravel’s environmental platform and record

Update: Mike Gravel switched from the Democratic Party to the Libertarian Party in March 2008; after failing to secure the Libertarian nomination, he ended his presidential campaign in May 2008. Mike Gravel, the darkest of the dark-horse candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1981. He then largely faded from public view until April 2006, when he became the first Democrat to officially jump into the 2008 presidential race. He has articulated some big green goals — a hydrogen-powered economy, a nationwide system of maglev trains — but has yet to flesh …

Biofuels fueling conflict

The need for good research

The rush to put biofuels in our gas tanks has given people analyzing natural resources and conflict some work to do. How are European and American policy mandates to dramatically increase the use of biofuels affecting the places that grow biofuel inputs? It seems fair to say that little consideration has been given to the potential conflict and equity impacts of this surge in demand for palm oil, sugarcane, and corn. After President Bush's 2007 State of the Union address, which called for massive increases in biofuels, we heard stories of skyrocketing corn tortilla prices and resulting social disruptions. Now we have stories coming from places like West Kalimantan, a remote region of Indonesia where the rush to plant palm-oil plantations is generating conflict with Indonesians who grow rubber trees and other crops on their small plots of land. The NGO Friends of the Earth Netherlands has a new report calling out the unethical practices of some palm-oil companies that clear existing crops first and make payouts (maybe) to the farmers who own the land later. It strikes me that this particular link between natural resource management and conflict offers an avenue for addressing one of the traditional shortcomings of environment and conflict research.

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