What happened to cap and trade?

CC photo by Flickr user riptheskull

David Roberts at Grist places the blame on the Senate’s failure to pass climate legislation not on environmentalists, but on the insane political situation in the Senate itself:

But step back for a moment and think about it. Climate and clean energy are incredibly difficult issues for any number of reasons. Yet environmentalists pulled together a huge coalition of businesses, religious groups, military groups, unions, and social justice groups. They got a majority of U.S. citizens on their side, as polls repeatedly showed. And — here’s the kicker — on the back of all that work, they got a majority of legislators in both houses of Congress on their side.

In a sane world — and in other developed democracies — that’s what success looks like. Environmentalists did what they were supposed to do, and they did it well! They should be proud of themselves. It’s not their fault Republicans are abusing idiosyncratic features of Senate governance to make reform prohibitively difficult.

The fact is, on a consequential, far-reaching, forward-looking, regionally charged set of issues like climate and energy, getting 60 percent of the country on your side is difficult enough. But getting 60 votes in the already-unrepresentative Senate is just an absurdly high bar. Theoretically, 40 senators representing under 10 percent of the population can block the will of the other 90 percent!

Not to mention the House passed a cap-and-trade bill last summer by a 219-212 vote. No wonder House members are getting annoyed by the Senate.

Continue reading What happened to cap and trade?


New York Times Columnist Line of the Day

If you’re one of the four-or-so frequent readers of this here blog, chances are you also occasionally check out the New York Times op-ed page. You may even know the names: Thomas “Friedman’s Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose” Friedman, Gail “The Colander” Collins, Nicholas “The Dark Crystal” Kristof, &c. Well, I’ve decided to devote a daily feature to these folks, by daily pointing out one line that is either awesome, funny, insightful, intelligent, ridiculous, or utterly divorced from reality. I hope you enjoy.

Today’s from Paul “The Little Professor” Krugman, who in his column, “Curbing Your Enthusiasm,” writes:

Just to be clear, progressives would be foolish to sit out this election: Mr. Obama may not be the politician of their dreams, but his enemies are definitely the stuff of their nightmares. But Mr. Obama has a responsibility, too. He can’t expect strong support from people his administration keeps ignoring and insulting.

Morning Constitutional – Friday, 30 July 2010

Good morning, everybody. Ellen’s leaving American Idol, and Diddy wants in. Now, your morning constitutional:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia are meeting in Beirut to work together to help stabilize Lebanon if a UN tribunal indicts members of the Hezbollah movement for the killing of Rafik Hariri.

Republicans succeeded in filibustering a Senate bill that would create a $30B fund for small business lending.

July has been the deadliest month for American troops since the beginning of the war nine years ago.

Economic growth in the U.S. slowed to 2.4% in the second quarter, an ominous sign that the recovery is slowing down.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that allows those who declare bankruptcy to keep their guns.

As Democrats pick up some momentum in generic polling, has the Republican wave hit its peak?

Could just controlling soot, as opposed to the much larger task of controlling all greenhouse gasses, stop climate change?

The case for $320,000 kindergarten teachers.

Why there’s no need for “safe departure” border checkpoints for illegal immigrants.

How LEGO revitalized its brand.

Finally, a mother bear rescues her cub from a fishing net in Alaska, with video.

Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning), or Welcome to the "No-Spin Zone"

Filed under “Science is freaking crazy.” Witold Fraczek from Esri ran some models using ArcGIS on an interesting—but unlikely—question: What would happen if the world actually stopped turning? The answer is actually rather fascinating:

If earth ceased rotating about its axis but continued revolving around the sun and its axis of rotation maintained the same inclination, the length of a year would remain the same, but a day would last as long as a year. In this fictitious scenario, the sequential disappearance of centrifugal force would cause a catastrophic change in climate and disastrous geologic adjustments (expressed as devastating earthquakes) to the transforming equipotential gravitational state.

The lack of the centrifugal effect would result in the gravity of the earth being the only significant force controlling the extent of the oceans. Prominent celestial bodies such as the moon and sun would also play a role, but because of their distance from the earth, their impact on the extent of global oceans would be negligible.

If the earth stood still, the oceans would gradually migrate toward the poles and cause land in the equatorial region to emerge. This would eventually result in a huge equatorial megacontinent and two large polar oceans.

Via Boing Boing.

Poem of the Week

Have you ever before encountered a poem with a camel in it?  I hadn’t.

Man and Camel

by Mark Strand

On the eve of my fortieth birthday
I sat on the porch having a smoke
when out of the blue a man and a camel
happened by. Neither uttered a sound
at first, but as they drifted up the street
and out of town the two of them began to sing.
Yet what they sang is still a mystery to me—
the words were indistinct and the tune
too ornamental to recall. Into the desert
they went and as they went their voices
rose as one above the sifting sound
of windblown sand. The wonder of their singing,
its elusive blend of man and camel, seemed
an ideal image for all uncommon couples.
Was this the night that I had waited for
so long? I wanted to believe it was,
but just as they were vanishing, the man
and camel ceased to sing, and galloped
back to town. They stood before my porch,
staring up at me with beady eyes, and said:
“You ruined it. You ruined it forever.”

Connecticut Senate candidate Rob Simmons wants to remind you he's still in the race

Today’s Hartford Courant, the largest newspaper in Connecticut, makes an interesting endorsement today:

Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons has a gold-plated public-service resume. His votes over time have been in line with the mostly moderate traditions of the Republican Party in Connecticut.

It is for those reasons that The Courant’s editorial board, with hesitation, recommends that Republican voters in the Aug. 10 primary choose Mr. Simmons to be their standard-bearer in the fall election for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Christopher J. Dodd.

Interesting because, well, it’d be a surprise to many in Connecticut that Rob Simmons will even be on the ballot.

It’d be easy to forget that he’s actually still in the race. Simmons was the front-runner for the Republican nomination before World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon decided to run (and self-fund, at that). After McMahon won the party’s endorsement (different than the upcoming primary, which actually determines the nominee), Simmons basically all but dropped out of the race months ago, and hasn’t kept more than a deputy scheduler and a bookkeeper on staff since.

But, Simmons is still on the ballot, and last weekend, he started running a series of ads to remind people of that: “In the Republican primary on Aug. 10th, you do have a choice. I’m Rob Simmons, I’m still on the ballot, and I approved this message.”

So, why is Simmons so suddenly back in the race? Well, for starters, the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, made a recent gaffe in claiming to have served in Vietnam; Simmons actually did serve in Vietnam. McMahon is also having trouble capturing the enthusiasm of grassroots party activists:

“We didn’t stand outside in the rain and cold so someone could come along with $30 million and buy herself a Senate seat,” says Bob MacGuffie, a local activist who played a role in stoking last year’s nation-wide town hall protests. “Over the past thirty years, she’s focused her mind on an industry that peddles soft-core pornography.”

On Tuesday, Simmons appeared at a candidates forum with another Republican candidate Peter Schiff (McMahon didn’t attend), and made it clear that he’s still running:

“I am running for the U.S. Senate,” adding that he is still an active candidate and that he chose to restart his campaign “because I love my country and I don’t like where it’s going.”

Despite only having a couple of weeks left to make his case and, maybe, try and catch up with McMahon, with the endorsement, at least he is getting some momentum. He’s got some serious catching-up to do, though: according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll of the race, he trails McMahon 52%-25%. And, regardless of who eventually wins the nomination, though, Blumenthal’s going to be tough to catch, as he leads both by at least 17%.