Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

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Health Insurance Legislation: $250 Million To Failed Abstinence-Only Education

Thank goodness Obama is playing 11-dimensional chess while the rest of us scoot around in the mud with our sticks.  Thank goodness real health care legislation was passed and the health insurance industries will have real competition.  Thank goodness funding abstinence-only education stopped after the Bush Regime finally left.

All of the above are false.  Thanks to the Master Rhetorician Obama and our fearless “leaders” in the Senate, the health insurance legislation included a $50 million line for five years to abstinence-only education programs that have been proven to fail.

Thanks to Bush’s idiotic pandering to the religious right-wing, the number of teen pregnancies rose and STDs spread faster than they did in the 1990s.

Thanks to Obama’s idiotic pre-negotiating Democratic principles in health care, those trends will continue.


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Obama Opens Up Off-Shore Areas For Dirty Energy Exploration

President Barack Obama announced his off-shore oil drilling plan today.  Count me among the folks who are pretty frustrated with the announcement and its details.  I’ll start with what the announcement included, then get into why I think it’s a bad set of proposals.

Atlantic coast drilling would be open for exploration from Delaware to mid-Florida.  Gulf of Mexico exploration would be open off the south and west coasts of Florida.  The Chukchi and Beaufort Sea areas off the north coast of Alaska would be opened.  For now, the West Coast remains off-limits.  Additionally, the Department of Agriculture will work with the Pentagon to use more biofuels in military vehicles.  Thousands of hybrid vehicles will also be purchased for the federal motor pool.

This decision marks a reversal of off-shore drilling policies that Obama campaigned on in 2008.  To secure the Democratic Party nomination and win the general election, Obama distinguished himself from the Bush Regime and Sen. McCain.  Now, “compromise” and “bipartisanship” appear to demand something else entirely.

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Mark Udall Frustrated At Con Obstructionisn? Join The Club.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) temporarily joined reality and called out Senate Cons for their obstructionism.  At issue was the cancellation of a hearing on the bark beetle epidemic plaguing the Western U.S.  The hearing was canceled because the Cons found another rule they could play with to get even less done in the Senate – the Senate rules say no hearings can take place after 2PM each day unless the Senate otherwise consents.  Up until now, the Senate has consented.  The Cons, in apparent retaliation over losing two general elections in a row, voted against the consent motion.  So this hearing, and others, were canceled.

Sen. Udall has been one of the leading proponents of working with the Cons, citing his desire for “bipartisanship” as an attribute.  This has continued despite overwhelming evidence that the Cons had and have absolutely no interest in doing their jobs and governing this country.  Their failures haven’t been enough for them – they want the country to fail along with them.  Democrats have stupidly negotiated on issue after issue with the Cons in the past 14 months – and received no votes for the watered down bills in return.

Now Sen. Udall wants to moan and complain about obstructionism?  Where have you been these 14 months, Sen. Udall?  What observations or experiences did you have when you were a House member that would have indicated the the Cons would work with you and your Democratic colleagues?  Because many activists outside of D.C. figured out the Cons wouldn’t work with Democrats prior to this Congress being seated.  Moreover, a majority of voters, most of whom don’t follow politics very much at all, elected Democrats to historical majorities because they figured out the Cons refused to govern when they had the majority.

Finally, is this a one-time event?  Will you make a small wave just once in the corporate press and expect things to straighten themselves out or are you willing to keep hammering away at this issue?  More than that, are you willing to change the rules at the beginning of the next Senate so that a super-majority isn’t required to do anything more difficult than pick your noses or will you give the Cons yet another two years to halt all activity in the Senate and allow our government to become more permanently dysfunctional?  If you want anything done on the bark beetle problem, Sen. Udall, you need to recognize what your political opponents are doing and then work to fix the problem.

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Rep. Grayson’s “Medicare You Can Buy Into Act”

Activists are disappointed (to put it lightly) that health insurance legislation, and not health care reform, passed after a year of intense debate and discussion at the highest levels of government.  A few solidly progressive items made it through the process; many more did not.  Among those that did not is a public option, to say nothing of single-payer.

Flying somewhat below the back-and-forth arguments of whether or not a public option should have been a part of the legislation and what form it might or might not take is an effort that should be lauded.  Rep. Alan Grayson (D,FL-08) has a piece of legislation that accomplishes many progressive goals: H.R. 4789, the “Medicare You Can Buy Into Act”.  Rep. Grayson has done what many activists wish our elected officials would do: show some leadership.

H.R. 4789 has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.  It has already garnered 80 co-sponsors.  In answer to complaints in the Colorado blogosphere, I would point out that both Rep. Jared Polis (D,CO-02) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D,CO-01) are among those co-sponsors.  Notably, Rep. Polis was an original co-sponsor, another sign of progressive leadership.

This likely isn’t going to be the sole effort to keep the public option discussion going as we move forward.  However, it is concrete and it is available to us right now.  The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has a tool up so people can ask their Representatives to join as a co-sponsor to the bill.  While CO-01 and CO-02 have been taken care of, there are plenty of other representatives who could sign on and I’m sure we all have friends and family in other states to point this to.  I am unaware of similar action coming out from the Senate.  It would be refreshing to see a Senator present something fashioned closely to H.R. 4789.

Cross-posted at SquareState.

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Energy News Tidbits: EVs & Oil

European countries made a decision following the 1970s when OPEC held the world hostage for oil.  They decided they were going to diversify their energy portfolios and reduce the impacts that OPEC would have on their economies.  Renewable energy has found quite the secure home across Europe.  Their problems aren’t completely solved today, but they’re far closer than we in the U.S. are.

In the past few years, a push for electric vehicles has taken root in Europe.  Spain wants 1 million hybrid or electric cars on its roads by 2014.  25,000 charging stations could be in England by 2015.  France is building a national network of charging stations.  Europe is in the growing stages of a race to deploy electric carsThe U.S. continues to lag far behind European countries in fuel economy standards because our domestic auto manufacturers’ executives stuck their fingers in their ears and made fun reality as it passed them by.

Overall, investing in electric cars is up.  Charging stations, regardless of country, will have to be built.  Standards will have to be decided upon.  Our past decisions will heavily and negatively impact our ability to lead the world in future decisions.

Back to OPEC – one of the deciding factors on the acceptance of electric vehicles will be the availability and thus the cost of oil.  World oil reserves are likely only 2/3 that reported by the oil cartel.  With that much of a discrepancy, even $2.80 gas is underpriced.  When shortages appear in the upcoming years, price shocks will result because of OPECs unwillingness to tell the truth.

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55% of Tea Partiers Are Women

13% of voters say they identify as being part of the so-called Tea Party.

55% of them are women, which is somewhat surprising.

74% of them are Republicans, which is not surprising at all.

88% of them are white, which is not surprising either.

Left unpolled is what the Tea Party stands for.  They’re anti lots of things, we know that already.  But what are they for?  What solutions are they pursuing?

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Rising Sea Levels: Disappearing Islands & Underestimation

Word came yesterday of an island in the Bay of Bengal that has quietly slipped beneath rising seas.  New Moore Island was a rocky island that was 2 miles long and 1.5 miles wide.  This isn’t the first island to succumb to rising sea levels, nor will it be the last, especially since we continue to belch greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere.  Indeed, 10 additional islands in the same area continue to face submersion in the near future.  This news isn’t a surprise to any reputable scientist who has studied climate change, nor to any activist who has followed the state of the science.

Also unsurprisingly, Sen. James Inhofe’s family was not photographed on New Moore Island constructing a building in further efforts to misinform the fringe anti-science crowd.  I’m sure the lunatic Senator would cite his favorite conspiracy of global economic domination as the real topic to be discussed.  It wasn’t his island that disappeared, after all.  You’ll also note that the disappearing islands don’t garner much corporate media attention.  Since the stenographers look for controversy, there must be a lack of dimwits who are willing to go record disputing these events.

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