Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

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Looking For That Enthusiasm Gap?

Dear Uber-Smart Pundits and Obama Administration Adivsors,

If you’re still looking for why there is an enthusiasm gap between Democrats and the Republican Teabagging Party this year, look no further.  I’ve found it for you:

Congress punts tough choices until after election.

It took a lot of time and hard looking, but I think this may be what the whole ‘gap thing’ might just be about.  It is, after all, largely what the Senate, and by extension, Congress, has done for the better part of the past two years.  But maybe you’d like to discuss that with your Beltway cocktail buddies and form some advisory panels and think about it for another 18-24 months before jumping to any conclusions.  You wouldn’t want to be judged as being too hasty or partisan or anything else, after all…



Jan-Aug 2010 Hottest On Record: NASA & NOAA

You have likely heard or read by now that the first 8 months of global temperature in 2010 were the warmest of any such period in recorded history.  Unlike earlier months this year, I’ve started to see more coverage of this in the corporate media.  Unfortunately, the coverage I have seen has been short and lacking in critical context.  Most of the coverage has actually been of anecdotal situations, like the record-shattering 2010 Russian heat wave.  Stories about the above-average Atlantic hurricane season and the Pakistani floods leaving tens of millions displaced have typically not included much, if any, notation that record heat has been recorded across the globe.

NOAA recorded the 3rd warmest August on record; the 2nd warmest Jun-Aug on record; and Jan-Aug 2010 tied the same time period from 1998 as the warmest on record.  The most intense El Nino in recorded history occurred in 1997-1998, which helped push global temperatures to record levels.  The El Nino of 2009-2010 wasn’t nearly as strong, but added to the background warming brought about by global warming to match the warmest Jan-Aug in modern history.

August 2010

NASA’s global analysis reported a +0.67°C (+1.206°F) surface temperature anomaly for August 2010 (over the 1951-1980 base period).  August 2010 had the 7th highest anomaly of Augusts in the NASA dataset, according to NASA’s GISS dataset.

NOAA’s global analysis reported a +0.6°C (+1.08°F) surface temperature anomaly for August 2010.  According to the NOAA methodology, the two warmer Augusts observed were in 1998 (+1.3°F) and 2009 (+0.62°C  or +1.12°F).

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Following on the heels of what will likely be the hottest summer in Washington D.C. recorded history, the heat is on again in the American Southwest.  Los Angeles recorded an all-time high temperature record of 113F, beating the old record of 122F.  On September 27th.

These kinds of protracted and all-time high temperature events will become more common in the future.  We’ve guaranteed it by refusing to take responsibility for our greenhouse pollution leading to global warming.  When people truly get tired of these events, then we’ll change our habits.  Of course, decades and centuries of additional global warming will still occur.  We decide how bad it gets.

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Joe Biden Needs To Stop Whining

I heartily recommend the Vice President take his own advice to the Democratic base: Stop Whining.  I have a lot of respect for Joe Biden.  He’s not perfect, but he’s done some good things in his time as a public servant.  But on this issue, he needs to refocus his message.  He needs to be angry at the Republican Tea Party (love his framing on that, btw) and channel his bases’ anger toward the extremists who would destroy our democracy.

Vice President Biden, President Obama, Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Reid, among others, promised the Democratic base real and substantive change in the 2008 election.  I raised my tiny voice at the time pointing out that in the face of Con promises to wreck Obama’s presidency by fighting him for every 1/4″ the President wanted, the President simply couldn’t deliver on what he was saying.  Obama was elected and the country largely expected that real and substantive change to start taking effect.  We all knew it wouldn’t be done in 3 months, or 6 or 21.  But we wanted solid steps on the way toward the change we were told to expect.

What we got instead was largely pre-emptive capitulation by Democrats, behind the lead of President Obama, that led to months and months and months and months of false negotiations between Democrats and the Republican Teabaggers.  One party kept their campaign promise: the Republicans.  They have abused rules in the Senate to bring work in the people’s government nearly to a halt.  What repurcussions have they faced for this abuse?  None, they wear their obstructionist credentials like honor badges.

Of all the Democratic leadership, only one segment of government under Democratic control kept their promises: the House.  Nancy Pelosi has done a stunning job keeping her diverse members together when it counted most, passing literally hundreds of bills that the cowardly Sen. Reid refuses to take up, because he can’t find 1 or 2 Republican Teabaggers to cross the aisle and pass legislation that enjoys majority support from every American demographic.  Unfortunately, it is the more progressive House that will suffer for Reid’s gross mismanagement.  The House is liklier to switch control to the Republican Teabaggers than is the Senate.  The result of which, I’m afraid, will be no change in how Senate Democrats approach governance in the next session.

What the Democratic base wanted all along, V.P. Biden, is at a minimum votes on bills in the Senate.  If elected Democrats had at least shown the base they were trying to pass legislation, but couldn’t because of Con abuse of Senate rules, the Democratic base would by now be extremely motivated to crush the Republican Teabaggers at the polls in November.  If President Obama had decided to use his oversized bully pulpit to extoll the virtues of his agenda, the base would be far more motivated than is the case.  But as usual, Democratic politicians decided to run away from the Cons on issue after issue, pass a pittance of the change we were told was coming and the President chose to show Americans how much more he wanted a label of “bipartisanship” on his legacy than progressive legislative success.  And now we’re being told to “Stop Whining.”

If the Democratic base doesn’t show up this November, I honestly think the unbelievably crappy Democratic “leadership” deserves most of the blame.  The base didn’t convince politicians to run away from the issues in the face of extremist tactics and messaging.  The current crop of top-level Democratic politicians and advisers aren’t that much different than they were during the Clinton years.  Unfortunately for the Democratic base, we’re not getting results that are much different than they were during the Clinton years.  You would have thought that these numb-skulls would have learned their lesson after the debacle of the 1994 election.  They haven’t, and as such are destined to repeat 1994.  Redirect your anger toward your colleagues, V.P. Biden.  Get them to do the work they were hired and are being paid to do.  If you don’t want to do that, keep your unwanted advice on your D.C. cocktail circuit.  You risk frustrating your “base” even further and giving away needed Congressional seats to the Republican Teabaggers you say are extremists.

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Will Work To Clean Up Everglades Matter?

Back in 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades  Restoration Plan was initiated by the Army Corps of Engineers.   Consisting of over 50 major projects to bring the Everglades back from the brink, the program has thus far mostly been a success.  It’s cost more than originally planned, but measurable progress has been made.

My question is, how much is the multi-billion dollar project worth to Floridians and Americans?  What I mean by that is, within a few decades, the Everglades will be sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean if nothing is done to slow down global warming.  Will those billions be wasted in trying to save the Everglades from fresh water flow problems while sea levels continue to rise?  How many more billions would Americans be willing to spend to build and maintain infrastructure to keep the sea water out of the Everglades?

We can continue rumbling down the dangerous path we’re on and refuse to take the threat of global warming seriously or we can choose to acknowledge the reality we’re facing and do something about it now, while we still can.

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DC Pundits Misread The Cons’ “Pledge”

I don’t believe the Cons’ would hold true to their recently announced “Pledge”.  You shouldn’t either.  Most analysts are correctly identifying it as a non-announcement of typical Con P.R.  How many of the points did the Cons’ adhere to when they controlled every branch of government?  Not many; nothing would be different if they regain control of either legislative chamber.  Cons lie to get into power, then do everything they can to maintain that power.  Truth be told, not many “Democrats” are very different.  That’s the reason for the “enthusiasm gap” that the corporate stenographers are chattering so much about these days.

But this post is in response to NBC’s write-up of the “Pledge”.  In contrast to most of these daily posts, this one comes pretty close to reality.  All except for this:

So you can already see the conflict and tension within the conservative movement if Republicans take back Congress. In fact, it isn’t too dissimilar between what President Obama and Democrats have faced from the left. In short, the liberal and conservative bases want to go farther than politics actually allows.

What a huge mis-read of what’s happened in the past 10 years.  The policies that then candidate-Obama ran on were and continue to be incredibly popular among all Americans.  Take a look at polling done over the past 30 years with almost any policy topic and you’ll find a majority of Americans (that’s Democrats, Unaffiliateds and Cons) supporting what these NBC pundits would characterize as “progressive policies” by ever increasing numbers.  Much of the legislation that made tortuous routes through the 111th Congress garner unbelievable support across all demographics.  The promises that candidate Obama made to the country in the fall of 2008 were based off of popular positions on those same policy topics.  The reason Democrats are frustrated with their elected politicians heading into fall 2010 is those politicians ran away from those promises once in power.

The missing piece in this NBC pundit analysis is that the liberal and Con bases want to go further than entrenched, moneyed interests actually allows.  President Obama, Sen. Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi don’t control as many levers as the public believes.  Industries that continued to post record profits throughout the Great Recession exert much more control on the political than the liberal and conservative bases.

I think those bases are trying to figure out how to get industry’s clenched fist to loosen up so they can put the changes they want in place.  I think we’ll continue to see see-sawing episodes of who controls which portion of government as long as the bases continue to be shut out by those in office.

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Democrat’s Piss Poor Job

Kos nails it.

In addition to doing a piss poor job of passing the best legislation possible the last 20 months, Democrats have done a piss poor job of communicating the successes they have had. And, they’ve certainly blown properly branding Republicans with their unpopular agenda, because when polled specifically about Republican priorities, the public recoils in horror.

Exactly.  I think it’s too late for Dems this cycle to garner the support they’ll need to get re-elected.  Democratic voters are rightfully pissed that the agenda they were promised Obama and others would work on wasn’t worked on.  Instead, they got preemptive capitulation and Quests for the Holy Bipartisanship Grail.  If Democrats seriously wanted to be reelected, they had 20 months to prove it.  They didn’t and they’re facing the consequences now.