Energy Policy Talking

Friday, 29 April 2005, 14:12 | Category : Politics
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Steve Verdon posts a rather balanced analysis of Bush’s energy policy at Outside The Beltway .

“President Bush has been talking up the idea of a national energy strategy again. Personally I always find these claims that “we need a national strategy” rather disappointing. Disappointing in that I don’t think the government is all that good at doing things (generally speaking).”

I’ve often talked about the need for a real national energy policy, but his opening statement made me stop and think. Perhaps a libertarian, laissez-faire would work better, if the playing field were leveled. For example, if you’re not going to have a tax credit for fuel-efficient vehicles, you sure shouldn’t have one for gas-guzzlers like Hummers. For that matter, why have tax credits or deductions for transportation at all? (This is a not-fully-formed thought, so don’t take me to task for it).

Go read the entire post and the comments that are building off of it. It’s a good discussion.

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On Misread Tea, Flightless Fowl, And Distant Gleams

Friday, 29 April 2005, 12:38 | Category : Politics
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One of the surprising aspects of this second term of the Bush Administration and Reign Of The Republicans is how quickly the momentum has been lost. Not just by the President, but by Congressional Republicans. It has been at least partly self-inflicted – by equal parts of trying to manipulate the House ethics rules to cover for Tom Delay and by having Tom Delay as their leader to begin with. Despite how the Stepford Gun Owners of the NRA reacted to Delay at their recent convention, most people look at Delay and think “slime”. And the Republicans hold him up as Mr. Republican. Not exactly a poster boy for family values and morals they have there. And then the shameless (until very recently) rewriting of the ethics rules to try and insulate Delay from the consequences of his actions turned into a sort of communion where each House Republican dipped his own small portion of slime from the communal bowl held by the Majority Leader.

So the House of Representatives has it’s very own momentum killer. Not to be outdone, Senate Republicans devised their own, by talking about changing the filibuster rules so they could ram through all of Bush’s federal court nominees. Unfortunately, it appears that people “out there” began to listen when Democrats pointed out that they had given Bush more of his judicial nominees than the Republicans ever gave President Clinton. And the more Senate Republicans tried to bind themselves to the “Religious Right”, the more uncomfortable their constituents became. I had expected the Republicans to over-reach, seeing a mandate where there was really only a narrow election victory and a set of lukewarm approval ratings for Bush. But I didn’t expect them to do it so soon.


Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Friday, 29 April 2005, 10:12 | Category : Environment
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With the news about a reliable sighting of an Ivory Billed Woodpecker, I thought back to a bird I saw in 1994 or 1995 while driving home one day from my job in Vicksburg, MS. I had a 60-mile drive home, and rather than drive the interstate, I usually took a fairly lonely road that cut through northern Hinds County. One afternoon, I rounded a curve in time to see a large bird fly across the road ahead of me. It was obviously a woodpecker, and a large one at that. It had a prominent red crest, long bill, black and white on the wings and body. And very large – 20″ or better I would estimate, easily larger than a large crow. I wish I had thought at the time to notice the color of the bill. I called my father when I got home, and he said it was probably a pileated woodpecker. But I’ve often wondered since then, and especially the past couple of days, if I had actually seen an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. The range and habitat would be right, hardwood forest and bottomland (this was very near the Big Black River) in west-central Mississippi. The two birds are very similar.
I’m not an avid birder, more of a hobbyist, and if I’d seen it now instead of 10 years ago, I would have paid more attention to the details.

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Thursday, 28 April 2005, 14:24 | Category : Geek Stuff
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I am nerdier than 99% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

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Social Insincerity

Thursday, 28 April 2005, 9:52 | Category : Politics
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It amazes me how conservatives will spin things – it’s a freakish throwback to “1984”. I listened to a right-wing talk show host last night hold forth about how Bush’s social security plan would not cause increased debt. The reason: we’re already owed our benefits. His logic went like this – since those approaching retirement age have earned a certain level of benefits, then that debt has already been incurred. Since Bush’s plan does not increase these benefits, then there is no additional debt being added. Now, this man seems like a reasonably intelligent man, so I think we can probably dispense with the possibility that he just didn’t know what he was talking about, and move straight to his being disingenuous at best, and possibly deliberately dishonest. Because surely he understood that his benefits would no longer be paid by current system contributions, and so would have to be paid for with additional borrowing (“debt”). But some among his adoring sycophants will go away thinking that the Bush plan really doesn’t add to the Bush deficit (but since they probably don’t believe Bush and the Republicans have rolled up a huge deficit, this would be only a trifle).

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