Newt Gingrich Secures All Important “Barrens Chat” Vote with Key Chuck Norris Endorsement

Was he this much of a clown in the 70’s (Chuck, not Newt):

For my wife, Gena, and I, we sincerely believe former Speaker Newt Gingrich is the answer to most of those questions and deserves our endorsement and vote.

We agree with our friend and governor of the great state of Texas, Rick Perry, when he suspended his campaign and endorsed Gingrich, that Newt “has the heart of a conservative reformer.” We believe Newt’s experience, leadership, knowledge, wisdom, faith and even humility to learn from his failures (personal and public) can return America to her glory days. And he is the best man left on the battlefield who is able to outwit, outplay and outlast Obama and his campaign machine.

I may have let my nerd show in the title, so my apologies.








Pipeline Execution

When President Obama makes his February decision on the Keystone XL pipeline deal, which Republicans forced as part of the last hostage crisis, he might want to note that a similar pipeline is getting some bad press up in America’s Hat:

Environmentalists accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government of taking the side of big oil over ordinary citizens after the Conservatives said foreign-funded “radicals” were distorting a pipeline approval process.

Blaming “outside agitators” is usually a sign of weakness, so I wonder if the Harper government is going to have trouble pushing through a pipeline that goes across the Rockies and the BC coast to transport crude oil to supertankers. Canadians can tolerate abominations like dollar coins and socialist medicine, so if they can’t put up with a pipeline, why should God-fearing real Americans?

(Thanks to beaver-tail-eating reader Bob for the link.)








Elected conservatives outsource all their work to corporations, leaving me wondering what they do all day

Excellent all-in-one-place piece on ALEC in ProPublica:

This week, both the Los Angeles Times and The Nation put the spotlight on a little-known but influential conservative nonprofit that creates “model” state legislation that often make its way into law. The organization has helped craft some of the most controversial—and industry-friendly—legislation of recent years.
The American Legislative Exchange Council,ALEC, crafted a model resolution for states calling the EPA’s attempts to regulate greenhouse gasses a “trainwreck” and asking Congress to slow or stop the regulations, the Times reported. A press release on ALEC’s site says that at least 13 other states have passed resolutions

It calls itself a “policy making program that unites members of the public and private sectors in a dynamic partnership” based on “Jeffersonian principles.” Critics say it has devolved into a pay-for-play operation, where state legislators and their families get to go on industry-funded junkets and major corporations get to ghostwrite model laws and pass them on to receptive politicians.

I know the information on ALEC has been floating around for months on liberal sites, so it’s heartening to see that news outlets (LA Times, NPR) are now picking it up.

Here’s where you can find the ALEC-drafted bill your state legislator is introducing as his or her own work, “word for word”, in the case of the recent Arizona immigration law:

The Center for Media and Democracy has obtained copies of more than 800 model bills approved by corporations through ALEC meetings, after one of the thousands of people with access shared them, and a whistleblower provided a copy to the Center. We have analyzed and marked-up those bills and made them available at ALEC Exposed.

Looking at the categories, it’s easy to understand why monied interests are drafting this legislation and introducing it in state legislatures all over the country. The profit incentives are clear when they are privatizing public schools and destroying unions, or limiting the right of individual citizens to hold a wrongdoer responsible for money damages suffered, or gutting environmental regulations, or rewriting a state tax code. Those are obvious. What’s interesting is the voter ID bill. That really sticks out. No profit incentive there, so what’s that all about, I wonder?



Kicking our fossil fuel addiction

I had no idea this was happening. Good news for us treehuggers:

Plunging prices and booming investments are beginning to reshape the energy market, according to a couple of reports that were released this week. A report produced on behalf of Bloomberg says that investments in renewable energy have gone up by roughly a third over the last year, to $211 billion. Led by China’s renewable push, the world is now on a trajectory that will see its investments in renewable electricity surpass those in fossil fuels within a year or two. As a result of these investments, the US is now producing more renewable energy than nuclear power. …

Part of the reason is cost. Although wind turbines are very mature technology now, their cost per MW still fell by 18 percent over the last two years; photovoltaics have dropped a staggering 60 percent in that time. “Further improvements in the levelised cost of energy for solar, wind and other technologies lie ahead, posing a bigger and bigger threat to the dominance of fossil-fuel generation sources in the next few years,” according to the report’s authors.

This is worldwide. The US is lagging a bit behind but if expenditures on expanded renewable energy capacity stays on the same trajectory, “we’ll be investing more in renewables either this year or next,” than is being spent on fossil fuel power plants. Also, too, no more justification for building new nuke facilities. Win-win. [Via the Great Orange Satan.]








Because, Because…Soshalism, That’s Why!

Not much blogging to come (will anyone be able to tell the difference?–ed.) this week, as I’m writing this from Doha, Qatar, where the biennial World Conference of Science Journalists is about to begin.

But as my body adjusts to the eight hour time difference, I chanced across this piece in The New York Times, which captures in the story of one small household appliance why American Exceptionalism may kill us all yet:

One high-definition DVR and one high-definition cable box use an average of 446 kilowatt hours a year, about 10 percent more than a 21-cubic-foot energy-efficient refrigerator, a recent study found.

These set-top boxes are energy hogs mostly because their drives, tuners and other components are generally running full tilt, or nearly so, 24 hours a day, even when not in active use. The recent study, by the Natural Resources Defense Council, concluded that the boxes consumed $3 billion in electricity per year in the United States — and that 66 percent of that power is wasted when no one is watching and shows are not being recorded. That is more power than the state of Maryland uses over 12 months.

That set-up:  the HD box and recorder, can add ten bucks or more per month to a household electricity bill, but the drain isn’t obvious, because the damn things are always on.

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It was said of Pythagoras that he was the only man who could hear the music of the spheres; the rest of us were so accustomed to it, having been cradled in such harmony from womb to grave…and so it is with that 60 cycle hum, or its metaphoric equivalent.  We can’t monitor that whose absence we’ve never known.

What’s truly galling, though, is that there is no technical reason either to spend that money, or to burn the fuel — much of it coal — to make the power required: Read more