Tag Archives: obama

We are not on edge. We are not afraid, of the dildo bomber

News outlets breathlessly report that “America is on edge” that mailed bombs “cause fear” or that we are experiencing the “politics of the apocalypse” (not sure what that means exactly).

I have yet to see an expression of fear or edginess on the part of any of the recipients of these bombs, or their surrogates. Democrats are concerned about civilization, the future, our children, our planet, education, the environment. Attacks on these key elements of society cause concern, and Democrats fight those attacks. Democratic values don’t include being afraid. Nobody is afraid.

To be clear, over the last three years, Donald Trump has publicly compiled an enemies list, that includes President Obama, Secretary Clinton, Vice President Obama, George Soros, Maxine Waters, Director Brennan, AG Holden, and several others. This enemies list has been converted into a hit list, and a fake bomber, or an utterly incompetent bomber (not sure which is better), has taken on the obvious task of attempting to terrorize those individuals. For now, I’ll assume that the lack of a bomb in Elizabeth Warren’s mailbox is the slowness of the postal system around Boston this time of year.

There is an attack going on, but not one that will do anything but elevate paragraphs about Trump’s hatred and his enemies list to an earlier position in the eventual Wikipedia page on his regime.

The Truth About Syria and Obama

In case you were wondering, Trump is telling you lies.

Syria is run by a horrible dictator. He is the kind of dictator that makes you want to bring back assassination of foreign leaders. The idea of putting him down is hardly an extreme one, once you know what he does and has done.

There was a moment in time, in 2013, when Obama tried to stand up to Assad, but failed to push back when Assad pushed him. Assad read the US system better than most foreign dictators do, it seems. You see, in the United States, a president can’t just go to war. Congress authorizes war. Once that authorization is done, it is quite possible for a president to abuse the authorization, sure. A president can send all sorts of troops around the world for purposes of security, sure. But you can’t go and kick Assad’s ass for using chemical weapons without an authorization form Congress.

So, Obama asked Congress to authorize going to Syria to kick Assad’s ass. They declined to do so.

Meanwhile, at that time, Donald Trump made the following statements:

  • Obama wants to unilaterally put a no-fly zone in Syria to protect Al Qaeda Islamists Syria is NOT our problem.
  • We should stay the hell out of Syria, the “rebels” are just as bad as the current regime. WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS?ZERO
  • What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.
  • If Obama attacks Syria and innocent civilians are hurt and killed, he and the U.S. will look very bad!
  • How bad has our “leader” made us look on Syria. Stay out of Syria, we don’t have the leadership to win wars or even strategize.
  • If the U.S. attacks Syria and hits the wrong targets, killing civilians, there will be worldwide hell to pay. Stay away and fix broken U.S.
  • “…mr trump would attack Syria or no?” No, lets make our country great again as they fight their war!
  • What I am saying is stay out of Syria.
  • Russia is sending a fleet of ships to the Mediterranean. Obama’s war in Syria has the potential to widen into a worldwide conflict.
  • President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your “powder” for another (and more important) day!
  • Don’t attack Syria – an attack that will bring nothing but trouble for the U.S. Focus on making our country strong and great again!
  • Obama must now start focusing on OUR COUNTRY, jobs, healthcare and all of our many problems. Forget Syria and make America great again!
  • We should stop talking, stay out of Syria and other countries that hate us, rebuild our own country and make it strong and great again-USA!
  • Those were tweets, so we know it is what he really meant.

    Trump does this thing that no president has ever done before. He obsesses on the fact that he won, as though it was the only thing he ever won in his entire life, and he blatantly and frequently blames things on President Obama, his predecessor. And, as far as I can tell, none of those accusations has been close to accurate. None of those accusations has even been in the general ballpark of reality. (Plus, of course, he takes credit for things his predecessor did, but that’s a whole nuther story.)

    Now that Trump is president he is blaming President Obama for not invading Syria, but he should really be blaming Congress because it is Congress that made that decision, not President Obama.

    Those are the facts.

    What to do with Syria? I don’t know. My immediate inclination is to go in there, blow Assad off the map, take over the country and install solar energy systems so that Syria can be a major supplier of electricity to nearby countries and SE Europe, make improvements to the agriculture, cut off a big chunk in the general vicinity of Israel and join that with part of Lebanon, part of Jordan, and part of Egypt, to make a large backwards C-shaped country into a weapons-free peaceful Palestinian state. Then, take another bit if Syria, a bit of Turkey and a bit of Iraq and make a peaceful weapon’s free Kurdistan. Then world peace. But that’s just me.

    By the way, the Trump administration is sending more and more troops into Syria. But, of course, the other guys in Syria are the Russians, and they support Assad. So, how is this going to work out, with a Putin puppet in the White House, and a killer madman in charge of Syria?

    Here is some interesting reporting and commentary from Rachel Maddow on this issue:

    Brexit, Climate Change, No Drama Obama

    Two related, but contrasting, items on Brexit.

    The climate change connection to Brexit is unclear and mostly negative. It is simply true that we benefit from international unity when addressing a global problem, and the EU is a powerful forward looking entity that could address climate change more effectively than the collection of individual nations in the EU otherwise might. With the UK out of the EU, AGW may be somewhat harder to address.

    Or, maybe not so much. The EU is still only one entity among several dozen, so having this small shift may not be that big of a deal.

    But the Brexit-Climate Change link with respect to intergenerational politics is important and interesting. Dana Nuccitelli nails this down writing in The Guardian. See the graph above.

    Dana talks about the similarity of difference across generations in attitudes about Brexit as well as climate change, and shows how these patterns, similar in both cases, are tied to the phenomenon of “intergenerational theft.” The ascending generation prefers expansion, ballooning of economic systems, putting off dealing with long and even medium term consequences. The younger generation takes it in the neck.

    The problem is of course that younger generations will have to live with the consequences of the decisions we make today for much longer than older generations. Older generations in developed countries prospered as a result of the burning of fossil fuels for seemingly cheap energy.

    That’s all true and important.

    But I was also interested to hear President “No Drama” Obama’s remarks on Brexit. He sees this a more of the pressing of a pause button on a process that is not going to be stopped, and less of a cataclysm.

    Is he right? Or is he just trying to put off panic?

    Here are his remarks:

    What do you think?

    The reason Hillary Clinton has cinched the nomination

    This is an excellent moment to revel in the complexity of life, and argument, and to appreciate the value of the honest conversation.

    A candidate is the presumed nominee when she or he obtains the required number of pledged delegates to be at 50% plus a fraction in the total pledged delegate count. This is because a candidate must have a true majority to win the nomination when the delegates are all counted up at the convention, and the pledged delegates are required to cast their lot with the candidate they are pledged to, assuming that candidate exists at the time of the convention.

    Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have not reached that bar. Therefore, neither is the presumed nominee for their party.

    But then there are the unpledged delegates. Unpledged delegates can vote for whomever they like at the convention, and therefore, anything can happen. However, it is the practice among unpledged delegates to “endorse” or otherwise show support for a particular candidate. News agencies may use that statement of support to place that unpledged delegate in the column for a particular candidate.

    Using this form of math, Trump did not reach a true majority of delegates a couple of weeks ago for two reasons. First, the Republicans have very few truly unpledged delegates. (The Republican and Democratic systems are not parallel or comparable, but the Republicans do have a certain number of delegates who can do what they want when the convention rolls around.) But then, one day, a bunch of unpledged delegates from one of the Dakotas made a statement. They said that they would definitely cast their ballot for Trump in the Convention. This was just enough to put Trump over the top, by adding together the pledged delegates that were pledged to him, and this small number of “unpledged” but now “pledged-ish” delegates.

    That is still not clenching the nomination, because even though those Dakota delegates went beyond support or endorsement, to the level of actually promising to vote for Trump, they really still don’t have to vote for him.

    But, the press took this as an event, and decided to go with it, and Trump became the actual nominee.

    That may seem like a digression in a post about the Democratic primary, but it is relevant because the press has this thing they do where they balance or equalize. Therefore, even though the systems are not truly comparable or parallel, and the event in the Dakotas was actually meaningless, the press did in fact go with the “Trump is the presumed nominee” thing, and therefore, one should expect, even in the absence of a logical underpinning to the argument, the press to do the same in the Democratic party. That is only a small part of the story, but it is part of the story.

    I should reiterate that unpledged delegates (in the Democratic party, unofficially called “Super Delegates”) are unpledged even when they pledge. That is a simple fact. But, there are nuances. For example, I know one Super Delegate that on principle will not declare for a candidate until the convention. But I also know that this individual liked Bernie Sanders. I suspect that this means that under some conditions, this delegate would vote for Sanders, but maybe not. I know another Super Delegate who has endorsed Clinton, and another who has endorsed Sanders, publicly. However, I do not assume that either one of them will absolutely vote for that candidate. An endorsement is not a pledge. If Bernie Sanders is found sitting in a hot tub full of fruit jello with the leader of North Korea on a yacht owned by the Koch Brothers, making a deal to trade nuclear warheads, that the delegate that endorsed Sanders will not cast a ballot for Sanders at the convention. But the pledged delegates from the same state will be forced to by the rules. (This is why we have Super Delegates. This is also why we can expect the Republicans to add a higher percentage of unpledged delegates when they rewrite the rules for the next primary season.)

    The Dakota delegates, however, did something different. They did not endorse, or show support, but they pledged. However, their pledged is, in fact, legally irrelevant.

    And now, we come to 2008. It could be said not too inaccurately that a point in time came during the 2008 nomination battle between now President Obama and Hillary Clinton, when it became apparent that Obama was going to win, the press said so, and Clinton took two days or so off and came back into the ring no longer fighting Obama, but now as part of his tag team.

    And, it could be said not too inaccurately that this same moment came in the present election about now. Staring a few days ago, various members of the press began to note that this moment was upon us, and to imply that it would be unfair to Hillary to have given this moment to Obama in 2008, but not give it to Clinton now. I think the belief 48 hours ago might have been that this moment would definitely be on us by the end of the voting process in today’s primaries, but then another thing about the press came into play. The press has to treat everybody and every event like they are all identical blue Smurfs but they also have to do things first, to beat out their rivals, to scoop. In fact, this “moment of clinch” could have been after the Puerto Rico primary, or even earlier. And it was absolutely going to happen after Tuesday. So, AP jumped out of the gate and made it happen Monday, and this is now the True Reality.

    So, let us review.

    Hillary Clinton is the presumed nominee because she has almost enough pledged delegates plus a gazillion unpledged delegates.

    However, part of the impetus for declaring this is that Trump got that courtesy two weeks ago.

    But, Trump was the only person running in that race, and Clinton still has an opponent.

    Still, numerically, Clinton can’t not get the nomination because she has many hundreds of Super Delegates and Sanders has only a few dozen.

    On the other hand, Super Delegates are unpledged. UNpledged. We argue all along that they should not be counted. Then suddenly we count them. Is that fair?

    One could say, however, that it is fair. At some point it becomes fair because the numbers become so tilted. If the hundreds of Super Delegates that have endorsed Hillary decided to randomize their preference using a coin biased in favor of Sanders, there would still be more than enough to put Clinton over the top.

    It is only fair to Clinton that she gets the same treatment as Obama.

    It is only fair to Sanders that she not.

    And on and on it goes.

    So, is there a good reason that Hillary Clinton is now regarded as the Democratic Party nominee for the office of the President?


    And no.

    A good part of the reason that both answers are valid is because the press has painted themselves into a corner located between a rock and a hard spot and have only a Hobbson’s choice. That is a bad reason. Another reason is fairness. That is a good but not overwhelmingly good reason. There is no reason that the process one year needs to be the same as other years, since presidential election years are so different in so many ways. Another reason is math. While we wish to keep the Super Delegate count separate and let the pledged delegates do their job, at some point the Super Delegates should probably be considered as a factor, if not counted precisely. (See this, “Fixing The Super Delegate Problem,” for an alternative way of doing this whole thing.) That is probably reasonable and fair. If the numbers are big enough. But there is no objective criterion for when the numbers are big enough. So maybe not so fair.

    So here is where the honest conversation part comes in. There really is no considered, informed, honest position on this that ignores the complexity and dismisses other opinions out of hand.

    I hope you read this post on Tuesday, June 7th, because starting the next day it is not going to matter too much.

    The Clinton-Sanders Race in Historical Context UPDATED

    I’m going to make this simple. The primary season has not started yet. It starts in a few weeks. Everything we are doing now is pre-Primary. Not one person has put pen to checkmark in a voting booth.

    Once that process starts, everything changes. Suddenly there is more polling in downstream states. Starting before the first primaries, but then ramping up as we head towards states that matter (and no, Iowa and New Hampshire don’t matter despite what you may have been told). Same with campaigning. We’ve seen a few debates, there’s been a lot of speeches, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. And other things (fund raising, more endorsements, etc.)

    I thought I’d start out a discussion on the historic context by producing the simple graphic above. This is the course of polling (from Real Clear Politics) for the Clinton-Obama race in 2008 up to about now in the process, along side the Clinton-Sanders race this year. The graphic is rough, I just threw it together, but it kind of speaks for itself.

    But in case the meaning is not clear, it means this: The primary season has not started yet. It starts in a few weeks.

    I made a new graphic to underscore the meaning of the graphic above. Here, I took the 2008 primary season and the 2016 primary season RCP polling data for the two main candidates and ROUGHLY scaled them together. That moment when everything changes for 2008 is about now, or about the beginning of the actual primaries. Will that be what happens this year?

    Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 2.28.11 PM

    President Obama Scores Victory in US House 2014 Election

    Yes, I know, that headline sounds wrong. But I worded it carefully and I assure you it is far more correct than many other headlines we are seeing, about the “historic loss in Congress” with the 2014 election.

    The truth is, the party in the White House tends to lose house seats with every midterm election. Over the last half century there have been only two exceptions to that. Also, the second midterm for an 8 year presidency tends to do a bit worse than the first.

    In addition to that for the most part, a president’s popularity rating drops from the first day of the first term through the subsequent years in office. George Bush’s popularity rating probably had the largest and steepest drop. Bill Clinton managed to increase is popularity rating (and his 1998 midterm was one of the only exceptions to the rule of loss as well).

    The following graph shows the relationship between presidential approval rating and House loss (data from Gallup). There are two things to note.

    First, despite the misleading headlines, President Obama’s approval rating was not abysmal compared to the spread across presidents. On the low side, yes, but not the lowest by any stretch of the imagination. Second, and even more interesting, the number of House seats lost during this midterm is far less than predicted using all the other races as a guide.


    By political standards, that’s actually a victory.

    What about the Senate? See this.

    Obama’s climate change plan: Some reactions

    Here is a small selection of responses and reactions to President Obama’s climate change speech.

    Michael Mann: ‘The most aggressive and promising climate plan’ from ‘executive branch in years’

    Michael Mann is director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center, and a genuine hero, who has been attacked by the climate denial nexus, which has tried to destroy his career. And he is fighting back. His brief statement on President Obama’s climate speech needs to be read in its entirety, but here are some key points…

    President Obama acts on climate change by enforcing the law

    The centerpiece of the plan is the announcement that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, in addition to the rules already in draft form that are set to regulate emissions from new power plants. The White House released a video to explain the importance of these steps in addressing climate change by decarbonizing the economy.

    Climate change: time for action, at last?

    Ultimately, we need a comprehensive energy and climate policy that prices carbon pollution and levels the playing field for renewable sources of energy that are not degrading our climate and planet. But given that we have an intransigent congress (the current House Science committee leadership continues to deny even the existence of human-caused climate change), the president has been forced to turn to executive actions. His call for carbon emission limits on *all* coal-fired power plants, not just newly built plants, is a bold step forward. It will go some way to stemming our growing carbon emissions, and the impact they are having on our climate.

    Artful and Delphic: Obama on Keystone Pipeline Is All Things at Once

    As media tries to make sense of Obama’s obscure remarks on Keystone, the president becomes both an opponent and supporter of the project.

    The photo, from NOAA, is a human settlement in/on a marsh in Florida. How much sea level rise, and what kind of storm, will it take to make those houses into nice fishing grounds?

    Obama’s Climate Change Speech FTW

    No time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.
    No time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.

    “I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it is not going to protect you from the coming storm. Ultimately we will be judges as a people and as a society and as a country on where we go from here … push back on misinformation, speak up for the facts, broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future, convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution … invest, divest … remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote.”

    This particular speech by President Barack Obama could be used as an example of how to give a policy speech that includes specific initiatives, will rile the opposition, must inspire the base, and makes great use of the bully pulpit.

    President Obama started his speech by underscoring the extra heat caused by global warming: he took off his jacket and invited everyone else to do the same. He noted, rightly, that what we do now about climate will have profound impacts on the younger generation and beyond. He then made reference to the famous Apollo photograph of the Earth, which reminded us that we live on a tiny blue dot. He noted that the basic idea of greenhouse gasses as a thing was not new back when that photograph was taken, and that the idea that our planet’s climate is changing is good science, reviewed and developed over decades. He spent a fair amount of time discussing the effects of climate change on life, livelihood, health and economy, and made a strong statement on indirect costs of climate change.

    He discussed what has been done so far by his administration regarding climate and energy policy, but acknowledged that there was more to do. He noted that he had already asked Congress to come up with a plan, and reiterated this request. Which they have not done.

    The President said we should use less dirty energy, use more clean energy, waste less energy. He made the specific proposal that we make use of the Clean Air Act, which as he noted passed the Senate unanimously and the house with only one dissenting vote, and signed into law by a Republican president; we will incorporate regulation on “Carbon Pollution” (That’s what we will be calling it from now on) in the existing regulation. New and existing power plants will now be regulated vis-a-vis CO2 output.

    He noted that naysayers would claim that all sorts of bad things would happen with these new regulatory applications, but noted that this had been said before whenever major pollution-stemming actions were proposed, and these doomsday scenarios never happened. President Obama made specific reference to earlier uses of the clean air act, removing lead from gasoline, cancer-causing compounds in plastics, and automobile fuel standards. In short, he said we should not bet against American industry or workers, or falsely believe that we must choose between the health of future generations and business.

    On the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, Obama quickly reviewed the current process and noted that in order to build it it would have to be “in our national interest” and our national interest would only be served if the project’s net effects did not increase carbon pollution. This seems a good indicator that the pipeline won’t be built, because it would have such effects. We shall see.

    President Obama wants to use Natural Gas as a “Transition fuel.” That’s OK, but it may increase the use of Fracking, so again, we’ll see. President Obama noted that over the last four years we’ve doubled the amount of energy we produce with solar and wind power, and that costs have reduced for these technology and that this has created jobs. He noted that 75% of the jobs created by these industries are in Republican districts despite national-level Republican opposition to creating these jobs. The President proposed greenlighting the development of renewable energy technology on public lands sufficient to power 60 million homes by 2020. That seems like a lot, which is good.

    He note that he has directed the Department of Defense to install major renewable energy production technology.

    One of the most interesting aspects of the new policy is President Obama’s call for Congress to end tax breaks for carbon-polluting industries and invest instead in clean energy. This will require changing the composition of Congress, which can happen during the next midterm election.

    The President is calling for new efficiency standards in vehicles, homes, business, and industry. He also called for the federal government to expand its use of renewable energy to 20% over the next seven years. I wonder if this will mean putting solar panels back on the White House!

    He then spoke about mitigation. This is what we do because we’ve already messed up the planet too much to avoid severe negative effects. He talked about building better storm-proofing for homes, power grids, coastlines, etc. His proposals include both executive action and budget items that will require Congressional action. So again, the composition of Congress is important.

    Internationally, the President discussed various aspects of development that will have strong impacts on climate in the near and medium future, and the increased vulnerably of developing nations to climate change effects. He called for an end to public financing of inefficient or polluting coal plants in developing countries, and global free trade in clean energy technologies.

    It is notable that the leader of the free world frequently referred to the basic habitability of the planet a number of times.

    He talked about international agreements and the importance of developing an ambitious and inclusive, yet flexible, international plan.

    When he completed announcing his plan there was spontaneous extensive and thunderous applause.

    President Obama then took up the bully pulpit, encouraging businesses, engineers, etc. to get on board. He then said that those in power (like himself) need to be “…less concerned with the judgement of special interests and well connected donors and more concerned with the judgement of prosperity” because future generations will have to live with the consequences of our decisions. He noted (for the second or third time in the speech) that climate change and related concerns were not always, in the past, a partisan issue. He put in a strong plug for his EPA head nominee, Gina McCarthy, whose appointment is being held up by Senate Republicans for no good reason. This also elicited thunderous applause.

    The coolest part of his speech was when he said this:

    I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. [spontaneous thunderous applause, laughter, hooting] Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it is not going to protect you from the coming storm. Ultimately we will be judges as a people and as a society and as a country on where we go from here.

    He also encouraged people to bring this issue to their own social and professional circles as a matter of discussion. He said “…push back on misinformation, speak up for the facts, broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future, convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution … invest, divest … remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote.”

    The speech was substantive, effective, impressive, and inspiring. It may have been the best speech President Obama has ever given, and he’s given some darn good ones.

    Now, let’s get to work.

    If you saw the speech on TV you should know that, depending on which network you watched, various parts were cut out or interrupted. Here is the uncut version:

    The President and his people produced the Largest Infographic Ever Seen, so large that it can be seen from the International Space Station when it flies over, on the new climate change policies. Here it is.

    The White House has produced a number of infographics that outline the plan, which you can see here

    Addressing Climate Change is Legacy Building Stuff. YOUR Legacy.

    On Tuesday, President Obama will make a speech outlining his administration’s plans to address climate change. The Right Wing has already responded by calling those concerned with climate change “Terrorists.” How have the progressive and left wings responded? Badly. Very badly. Here is a selection, some paraphrased to ensure anonymity (though these are all public), of comments by people that I know are well meaning climate change activists or otherwise concerned about global warming and such.

    • Obama’s speeches and verbal plans make no difference. It’s what he DOES that counts.

    • He’ll say: “I will see to it that the State Dept. will approve the XL Pipeline so nothing else I’ve said means shit”

    • If his past proclamations are indicative don’t expect much action.

    • Don’t hold your breath. He wont do a thing that would make the Oil guys uphappy

    • Or these strong words and some targeted actions in the near term will allow him to OK Keystone XL

    • NOTHING will happen under Wbama’s “leadership”. He IS a shill for the CorpoRats.

    • politicians. They are parasites

    Some of these statements, maybe all of them, express perfectly legitimate concerns. The thing is, of all the statements I’ve seen on public media in response to this announcement, almost all of them are of this type. Hardly anyone has said:

    “Great, let’s find out what President Obama is going to push for, and make sure he understands that we activists will strongly support this, and work towards those goals.”

    In fact, we need to do more than that. I assure you of the following: President Obama and his people both in the White House and in the political machine are watching. If they see strong and effective support for initiatives announced on Tuesday, this will give them a clue that if the administration ends up nixing Keystone XL, that they will get support for that as well.

    Or, they could see a lot of belly aching and whining like we are seeing so far, and not gain the resolve they would need to have in order to do the right thing on Keystone.

    Having said that, I don’t want to give you the impression that this is all about Keystone. It is about whatever it is that is announced. Regardless of Keystone, we want better and more effective regulations on coal burning plants, even if Ben Stein sees fit to call those of us who want that “terrorists.” Regardless of Keystone, we want far more effort put into developing alternatives and renewables. Regardless of Keystone, we want new efficiency standards. And so on.

    It might be true that the Obama administration has done much less than we would like about climate change. I say “might” because I’m thinking that you’re thinking that the Obama administration has done nothing at all, and you’d be wrong. They’ve actually done things, and perhaps you just don’t know about them. It is also true (no qualification here) that we are concerned that the Obama administration will not nix Keystone XL. But, again (OK, so there is a qualification) you might be thinking that the delay in addressing Keystone means that they are just putting off the bad news, and Obama fully intends to support it. In that case, you would be wrong again; we simply do not know what is going to happen with Keystone, and the delay is not (necessarily) a political strategy, but rather, more or less, process. You can pretend there is no process but there is one.

    Here’s the thing: In a couple of days from now, President Obama is going to announce some things. These will be good things. You might not think they are good enough, you might think they mean nothing if Keystone is not addressed, you might think all sorts of other things. But, if you are actually, truly, interested in addressing climate change and concerned about global warming and our planet’s future, not to mention our species’ future, then you will need to get over yourself.

    This is not about you and your dissatisfaction with the government, politicians, Washington, or a particular president. So, please stop making this about you. Make this about the planet, and the future, and our children’s future. In order to prepare yourself for this, I offer the following evaluative quiz:

    TODAY’S QUIZ. (Fill in the blank/multiple choice)

    People interested in serious, effective climate change activism will take what happens on Tuesday and _________

    Select only one answer to complete this statement:

    • a) whine and moan about Obama
    • b) carry out the most effective possible actions to increase the likelihood that pro-environment and pro-energy efficiency and anti-global warming initiatives come to fruition, which might involve fighting congress, will involve fighting the deniers, and will involve fighting the oil companies.

    Correct answer: b

    Listen: The right wing is already off the mark. They are running full steam down the field intent on intercepting this particular pass. Meanwhile, the progressives are sitting on the bench crying in their beers and feeling sorry for themselves. This is not good, and frankly, it is more than a little embarrassing.

    Time to put on the big boy pants, people! When opportunity knocks, that is not a cue to complain about the door knocker.

    You might consider signing this petition.

    Breaking: Former Obama Campaign Staff’s Letter on Keystone XL

    A letter signed by (so far) 145 former Obama campaign staff calls on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. There is no doubt that President Obama’s action on climate change will be a large part of his legacy, and at this point, President Obama’s position on Keystone XL is unclear. It is true that the Obama administration is doing some good things (like this) but building the Keystone Pipeline is one of the worst things he could allow to happen.

    Frustrated with this situation, the people who helped put President Obama in the White House, twice, are speaking out. Here is the letter:

    President Barack Obama
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear President Obama,

    On November 7th, the day after Election Day, we took a break from entering last-minute data or cleaning our OFA field offices and crowded around iPhones and laptops to listen to you talk.From strip malls, grungy basements, and non-descript headquarters in our adoptedcommunities of Petersburg, VA or Manchester, NH or Aurora, CO, we paused for five minutes tohear from the man who inspired us to leave our homes and give every last ounce of energy tore-elect our President, a leader so awe-inspiring that we’d tear up just knowing he’d be in our zip code. You told us on the phone that day, “When I was your age, I had this vague inklingabout making a difference, but I didn’t know how to do it…I ended up becoming a communityorganizer.” So did we.

    It’s in that spirit that we write to ask you to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. We trust you tomake the right decision after you weigh all arguments, but one thing you taught us as organizersis that nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change. Mr. President, weare just a few of the millions of young people across the country who are frightened at theprospect of runaway climate change. One of the reasons we came to work for you in the firstplace is because we trust you understand how big this challenge is.

    You can help cement your legacy as a climate champion by rejecting this pipeline. You alreadyknow all the reasons we can’t afford this pipeline — that it will lock in gigatons of carbon pollutionover the next four decades and that it could spill into our nation’s most valuable water sources –we’re just asking you to think of us when you make up your mind. Dozens of supporters acrossthe country told us they were casting their ballot for someone they could count on to make thetough calls when it came to our security and our health care and our climate. They voted for you,Mr. President, because we told them you’d be on the right side of history when you had to makethese calls. Because we knew you’d do the right thing and stop this pipeline.

    You closed out our call on November 7th by saying to us, “Over the last four years when peopleask me how do you put up with the frustrations of Washington, I just look to you. I think aboutwhat you guys are going to do. That’s the source of my hope and my inspiration, and I know thatyou guys won’t disappoint me.” For so long you have been the source of our hope andinspiration. Please don’t disappoint us. Reject Keystone XL.


    Then there are 145 signatures (see this document)

    If you are a former Obama campaign staffer, you can click here to add your name.

    HERE is the press release from We Are Power Shift

    This could be HUGE: Obama Will Use Nixon-Era Law to Fight Climate Change

    From Bloomberg

    President Barack Obama is preparing to tell all federal agencies for the first time that they have to consider the impact on global warming before approving major projects, from pipelines to highways.
    The result could be significant delays for natural gas- export facilities, ports for coal sales to Asia, and even new forest roads, industry lobbyists warn.

    “It’s got us very freaked out,” said Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington-based group that represents 11,000 companies such as Exxon-Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Southern Co. (SO) The standards, which constitute guidance for agencies and not new regulations, are set to be issued in the coming weeks, according to lawyers briefed by administration officials.

    This takes Congress out of the picture and allows the administration to act independently. There will be law suits, and high courts will have to decide if ruining the planet by releases a particular gas is the same as, well, ruining the planet by releasing a different gas under a law that says that you can’t do any of that.

    In fact, some Environmental Impact work already considers climate change effects, but this would make the practice widespread and uniform across all Federal agencies.

    While the scope of the old NEPA law is broad, it’s bite is rather shallow. Using the law may serve to give more voice to opponents to projects, and delay project, but not require them to change their design an may hardly stop a project. But in some cases this may be what is needed. For example, in the case of Fracking, the length of time required for regulatory effects to take place is longer than the rapidity with which projects can slip under the radar, so much of the fracking we are ever going to do in some regions will be done before Regulators finish their first cup of coffee. Where NEPA applies, it would serve as a net trapping this sort of para-regulatory behavior on the part of industry.

    On the other hand, if NEPA is interpreted and implemented with more bite, there could be straight forward, direct effects, causing the long term favoring of low Carbon emission projects over the worst polluters.

    Is this a salve to be applied to a large gaping wound in Obama’s environmental policy caused by approving Keystone, or is it one of several steps towards developing an impressive legacy in environmental affairs, to come along side NOT approving Keystone?

    We’ll see. Soon.

    Final ABC-WaPo Poll Is Out

    Bottom line: In the popular vote, Obama will win over Romney by a surprisingly small margin, if he wins.

    People generally think Obama is going to win, as per this graphic:

    But the actual “I’m voting for X” numbers are 50% Obama, 47% Romney. That is within the margin of error.

    The poll, which is here, indicates that while the numbers are close, Obama’s support is slightly (but only slightly) more enthusiastic than Romney’s. Obama has a good approval number compared to Romney’s but for some reason people, who are apparently all idiots, think that Romney will do a better job than Obama at handling the economy, even though a strong majority accredit Obama with understanding the economic problems the country is having.