Posts Tagged 'politics'

McCain Not Serious About Capping Emissions? Whatevs.

During an interview on CNN last week (with Glenn Beck, a conservative commentator who “disbelieves” in global warming), one of McCain’s economic advisors said he doubts McCain will follow through on his promise to implement a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases.  Because limiting greenhouse gases is silly and pointless, and of course McCain knows better, no matter what he says to fool those crunchy independents.  There’s a video and transcript, along with reference to another incident this month when McCain’s campaign undermined itself on the topic.  Well, undermine might be too strong, as it would indicate an actual foundation to upset.  His campaign has been having plenty of problems with advisors (and McCain himself) talking against and around his alleged platform, so this kind of contradiction is neither new nor surprising- nor that disruptive to his “message”.

I disagree with the guy on plenty of issues, but I tried to give him credit for at least talking up the environment.   ‘Course, Bush said the same stuff (including praise for cap-and-trade) in 2000, and every SOTU since, and look where that got us.  I should probably cut out the benefit-of-the-doubt stuff, it’s wasting my time.

Looks like after Nov. 4th, we won’t need to worry about what his plan might have been anyway.

McCain: Kudos, With Some Big Fat Caveats

Last week, John McCain said a lot of stuff about how, if he becomes president, he will actually do something about climate change. The video of McCain’s speech is at youtube. The nice thing is, when John McCain says something about this issue, we can still believe him- unlike Bush, what with his laughable lip service to the problem last month.  *heavy sigh*.  But McCain’s sponsored climate bills in the Senate before, he’s got cred. His resounding break from the shilly-shallying of the current administration:

I will not shirk the mantle of leadership that the United States bears. I will not permit eight long years to pass without serious action on serious challenges. I will not accept the same dead-end of failed diplomacy that claimed Kyoto. The United States will lead and will lead with a different approach — an approach that speaks to the interests and obligations of every nation.

First caveat: as much as McCain is trying on this issue, his proposals don’t go far enough. He wants mandatory limits on emissions, free-market trade of emissions vouchers, and lots and lots of nuclear plants. And that’s all he’s got now. Which is odd, because he gave the big speech at a wind farm, so you’d think he would have serious plans for wind. But no, he wants nuclear. Given that it’ll take years for any new nuclear plants to even get on the grid, plus we’ll still have to import nuclear fuel, that’s not going to work so well- how are we moving away from a carbon-based economy if we’re just trading carbon credits around and using the same old carbon-based energy?- plus the mandatory reductions don’t go far enough. Climate progress has a full analysis, in several parts, for the wonks out there.

But at least McCain is talking lots about this issue. So the kudos are for the talking, and making it an important part of the race- even if it hurts him with his own party.

Unfortunately for him, the second caveat is that McCain’s positions aren’t anywhere close to to the Republican consensus on climate change. As of April, Pew Research found that less than half of Republicans even believe that global warming exists– and less than a third of them think humans have anything to do with it. For Democrats, that jumps to 84% and 58% (Pew link via climateprogress). Republican belief in global warming has dropped dramatically in the past few months. McCain sure is going out on that Maverick limb again, claiming that it not only exists, but that something ought to be done about it. As indication of conservative dissent, FoxNews Junk Science section (look, they picked the title, I just cite it and giggle) opines on how dangerous McCain’s “embarrassing” speech could be to um, something. America, the economy, humanity, everything. Doooooom! I mean, I guess republicans will have to vote for him anyway given the alternative, but he’s not making them happy about it.

And the third caveat- the alternative. I sure hope that junk science expert (again, his words, not mine) doesn’t get ahold of Obama’s climate proposals, because he’d probably have a heart attack. Obama’s already outlined a much more specific and broad-based energy and climate change plan in his position papers, and gave a big speech on climate change back in October- text and video here. Back in October, he was already an also-ran, so that’s why we forgot. He’s got alternative energy, he’s got mandatory caps, he’s got renewable energy, he’s got research and commercialization funding, he’s got job programs- it’s almost climate policy paradise! Or at least it will be, when he starts talking about it again.

Barack Obama has had his hands full with the final stages of the nomination process, and he will for a few more weeks- so I’ll let him off the hook right now for not engaging McCain on climate.  But when he begins his national campaign, he needs to make a lot more noise about his energy and environment policies.

Party On, Potomac Primary People

Hey, Virginia, Maryland, and denizens of DC! Somebody wants to hear what you’ve got to say. Go vote today. It counts.

UPDATE: I voted today, and it was totally awesome. You should try it.

Happy Super Fat Tuesday

This is the first time in years that I’ve been excited in a good way about politics, so let’s ride this wave.  Now, even though we’ve all got pet issues (guess what mine is!), hopefully we’re all making voting decisions based on an array of candidate stances.  The candidates’ plans and views on energy and/or the environment are highly indicative of how they’ll handle issues like national security and the economy, so they deserve a second look, no matter your pet issue.

First off, quick overviews are available at the League of Conservation Voters and at Grist (LCV advocates certain specific environmental stances, and Grist is just full of lots of hippies, so their rubrics differ some).  Grist also has a more detailed review of each candidate still in the race, and an article specifically on the differences between Clinton and Obama’s plans.  I imagine they’d have compared Republican plans directly, but none of the Republicans have specific plans- they have some interesting talking points, but no numbers or enumerated ways to reach their goals.  This is not a swipe at Republicans, it’s just the truth.

Beyond the quick reviews by hippies, though, check out the candidates at their own websites- it’s more revealing to see the way they talk about their plans/visions (I’ll use visions for Republicans- again, no plans).  As a quick rundown, Environment/Energy (labelled as such) make the top 3 or 4 issues on the lists for Obama and ClintonMcCain lists an Environment issue toward the bottom of his issue list, Romney lists “Ending Energy Dependence” toward the middle (after “Latin American Allies” and way before “Education”), and Huckabee lists “Energy Independence” toward the middle (after “Faith and Politics”, “Marriage”, and before “National Security”).

The plan that makes me personally the happiest is, well, Clinton and Obama’s- specifically, the part where they both want to invest $150 billion dollars over 10 years in clean technology, which would build robust American infrastructure, create jobs, reduce energy dependence, inspire investment by private businesses…you know, my dreamworld.  If you feel like that’s too much, remember, we spend $500 billion a year buying oil.  Also, Bush just found $150 billion he wants to mail to us over the next couple months, so.  $150 billion over 10 years to generate real economic growth?  Ahhhhh, back in my happy place.

Romney and Huckabee both say a lot about how renewables are a good idea, and say they have plans to make it happen, but don’t get as far as saying what the plans are.  McCain features a video and a short blurb on conservation and Teddy Roosevelt, even though he’s sponsored energy bills and gets the best ratings from Grist and LCV in the Republican field.  I am aware that Ron Paul is also still a candidate, and I’m not purposefully leaving him out- but his plan is, he has no plan.  That’s hardcore libertarians for you.

But Huckabee’s issue brief also ranks on my personal happiness factor.  He sounds so excited about his plan!  A section:

The first thing I will do as President is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence. I’ll use the bully pulpit to inform you about the plan and ask for your support. I’ll use the bully conference table to meet with members of Congress until I have the votes. The plan will get underway during my first term, and we will achieve energy independence by the end of my second term…

We think of globalization as primarily an economic issue and the war on terror as primarily a military issue. Yet the same key unlocks the door to success in both, and that key is energy independence.

None of us would write a check to Osama bin Laden, slip it in a Hallmark card and send it off to him. But that’s what we’re doing every time we pull into a gas station. We’re paying for both sides in the war on terror – our side with our tax dollars, the terrorists’ side with our gas dollars.

Our dependence on foreign oil has forced us to support repressive regimes, to conduct our foreign policy with one hand tied behind our back. It’s time, it’s past time, to untie that hand and reach out to moderate Muslims with both hands. Oil has not just shaped our foreign policy, it has deformed it. When I make foreign policy, I want to treat Saudi Arabia the same way I treat Sweden, and that requires us to be energy independent. These folks have had us over a barrel – literally – for way too long.

Energy independence will ease the effects of globalization because the future energy demands of countries like India and China, as their middle class grows, are going to be tremendous. Even if Middle East supplies remain stable – a huge if – that increased demand will drive prices up dramatically, which will hurt our economy by making everything more expensive here. But if we are energy independent, we will be able not just to take care of our own needs and protect our economy, we will also create jobs and grow our economy by developing technologies that we can sell to the rest of the world to meet their needs.

Huck’s thought it through, and he’s dead on- it’s the best summation on any website of how the energy problem ties in with all of our other issues, and Republicans and Democrats can appreciate it (can’t you?).  But goodness, I wish he’d tell me what his plan was, and that it turned out to be a good plan, and that he didn’t espouse other positions such that I would never, ever, vote for him.  But hey, as long as he’s got the gist of it, more power (though not necessarily more delegates) to him.

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