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Flip Flopping on Obama: Democrats are Wimps

Posted by: BuellBoy

Written by Dr. Jeff Schweitzer


We fully expect rats to abandon a sinking ship, but even those readily disloyal rodents wait for a leak to spring before contemplating a swim. In contrast, Democrats scramble frantically to jump overboard at the first whiff of a moist towel.

Nowhere was this unpleasant characteristic more glaringly evident than during the health care debate. Because Obama did not deliver the perfect bill instantly, the punditry immediately labeled the president “ineffective” and “passive” and “drifting” and “lost” and horror-of-horrors, “another Jimmy Carter.” Obama was criticized repeatedly because he “leads more from the head than the heart” and “relies more on listening than preaching,” as if those qualities were actually somehow negative. And those were the liberal talking heads. Obama was written off as a loser by his own team simply because he could not change 50 years of social inertia in his first year in office.

George Packer of The New Yorker loudly proclaimed “Obama’s Lost Year.” Robert Parry of The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel lamented “How Obama Lost His Way.” Piling on were House Democrats who snidely disparaged the health care bill in February, but who now bask in the glory of its passage. These House members quickly toweled off after a premature dunk then tried to pretend they never panicked.

To place this cowardly behavior in context, remember that Republicans stuck stubbornly and loyally to George Bush for eight years in the face of illegal wire taps, disastrous wars, huge deficits, torture, economic collapse, environmental calamity and a terrible butchering of the English language. Democrats did not last eight months before whipping out the chains of self-flagellation because the president did not perform miracles or give us the public option (yet). That easy disloyalty is even more discouraging given that Democrats held the largest majority that either party has held in the Senate since Watergate and a 40-seat majority in the House.

Tackling legislation that has eluded every president for the last five decades is a delicate, tricky, complicated dance of nuance, strategy and hard-ball politics. The best analogy for what Obama has done, and how he achieved victory, is Dwight Eisenhower’s civil rights battle. In fact the recently-passed health care reform bill will likely prove to be similar to early civil rights legislation in many ways — breaking old barriers, creating significant social change, remapping political alliances and creating a better world with legislation that was initially deeply flawed or ineffective. Old Ike fired the first shot of civil rights legislation across the bow of a nation largely hostile to the idea. He faced fierce, nasty and sometimes violent opposition from southern Senators who wielded power far greater than anything we see today.

Consequently the resulting Civil Rights Act of 1957 was weak, flawed and largely impotent but miraculous in its passage nevertheless. The bill became law only after enduring the longest single-senator filibuster in our history. That paragon of racial intolerance, Strom Thurmond, read non-stop for more than 24 hours in a final but ultimately futile attempt to thwart passage. Ironically he read from the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, desecrating both in doing so. As with Obama and health care, what Ike did was important beyond the specific bill that passed; he breached a barrier that seemed impenetrable; he set the stage for progress.

He laid the foundation on which Lyndon Johnson built the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without Eisenhower’s pioneering legislation, no matter how weak, Johnson would have never passed his landmark bill. Likewise, the public option, which is the end-game of true reform, will eventually become law because of the foundation created with this first attempt at health care reform.

In this light, and with this history, we should be embarrassed by our impatience with Obama as he marshaled health care legislation through a reluctant legislature and a populace confused by a vitriolic misinformation campaign. We lost temporal perspective, focusing on the moment to the exclusion of the future. Obama deserved our support and instead we bickered and told tales of woe because the bill was imperfect and not implemented quickly enough for our taste for the immediate. And the opposition nearly slaughtered us because we were unable to unite.

We argued passionately about the minutiae of specific language while the GOP was plotting a grand strategy of our destruction. Our impatience and immaturity aided and abetted that effort. Many Democrats I know and respect simply gave up on the president because he did not produce fast enough or give them everything they wanted. In the euphoria of electing one of our own, we forgot that ideological purity is not a recipe for pragmatic governance. We once again almost let the perfect become the enemy of the good, and were only saved from ourselves by strong leadership which ignored our plaintive and pathetic cries. Thankfully Obama was playing chess while we were trying to figuring out how to go from one to square to another in checkers.

Well, now that the first health care bill has passed we at least learned our lesson, right? One would think, but one would be wrong. The cycle begins anew with Obama’s announcement that he will allow off-shore oil drilling. Oh the humanity!

As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “There you go again.” And we’re off and running, so predictably. Here is a typical response to Obama’s announcement, this from Frank Tursi from the North Carolina Coastal Federation: “To garner support for a bill that is intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the administration is willing to expand the very substance that causes those emissions in the first place. Pandering for votes that rely on a polluting fuel of the past is not the kind of change many of us expected.”

Sound eerily familiar to the dialogue on health care before the bill passed? Once again we fail to see the big picture and instead focus narrowly on our immediate interests and concerns. Passing meaningful climate change legislation will be every bit as difficult as health care reform, and will require the same type of unpleasant and disconcerting compromise. We must again choose between the easy comfort of ideological purity and the pragmatic necessity of governing if we actually want to do something about global warming. Saving the planet is probably the better option, even if less satisfying emotionally.

Obama did not choose drilling in a vacuum; the decision is part of his broader energy strategy. Yes, we must emphasize conservation and efficiency, and we must do everything possible to promote renewable and clean energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal. We must cut greenhouse gas emissions. But as we transition to a green economy, we have to keep the lights on and refrigerator running. That is the reality. The energy must come from somewhere, and even as we promote renewables many conservation groups are opposing wind energy, one of the most viable alternatives. Wind turbines disrupt migratory patterns, kill birds and bats and threaten certain species like the sage grouse. So should we support or oppose wind energy?

Something has to give, some compromise must be reached; we live in an imperfect world. Demanding perfection leads to paralysis — and victory for the opposition. Withdrawing support from Obama because he proposes a solution that does not meet our every wish makes little sense, particularly in light of what the other Party has to offer.

By no means do I propose that we blindly accept Obama’s proposed solutions or draft legislation. Debate, modify, argue, disagree: all of that is healthy. But do so knowing that ugly compromise is necessary, and that in a messy democracy no result will be perfectly satisfactory. Democrats need to learn from their Republican colleagues, who seem to know when to argue among themselves and when to coalesce into a unified bloc.

Whenever you feel disappointed or angry at Obama, just close your eyes and think of George W. Bush. Then, rally around, because no matter how imperfect Obama is, he’s better than the alternative.

Dr. Jeff Schweitzer served at the White House during the Clinton Administration as Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Dr. Schweitzer was responsible for providing scientific and technological policy advice and analysis for Al Gore, President Clinton and President Clinton’s Science Advisor, and to coordinate the U.S. government’s international science and technology cooperation. He worked with the president’s cabinet and 22 U.S. Government technical agencies, and with countries throughout the world, in a broad range of fields including biology, physics, chemistry, geophysics, agriculture, oceanography and marine sciences. He was instrumental in establishing the permanent Global Forum on Science and Technology at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to promote greater international scientific collaboration.

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Obama Announces $3.4 Billion in Electric ‘Smart-Grid’ Grants

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posted by GeoT

Oct. 27– President Barack Obama today will announce $3.4 billion in government grants for equipment to improve the efficiency of the nation’s electrical transmission network.

Smart Grid Layout

The grants, ranging in size from $400,000 to $200 million, will be used to develop and install “smart-grid” technology to make electricity transmission more reliable and aid the transmission of energy generated from sources like wind and solar power.
“The current system is outdated and dilapidated,” Carol Browner, the White House’s top energy adviser, said in a conference call with reporters late yesterday. “Today’s grants “will give us a transformational impact on how electricity is generated, delivered and consumed,” she said.
The money comes from the $787 billion economic stimulus legislation approved by Congress in February. Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, said during the conference call the grants will “save or create tens of thousands” of jobs.
Bernstein said Oct. 15 the stimulus legislation has created or saved about 1 million jobs since it was enacted. The nation’s unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent last month, and the president has said he expects it to exceed 10 percent before it starts coming down.

Solar Power Plant
Obama will announce the grants today in Arcadia, Florida, at one of the nation’s largest solar power generating facilities. Florida Power & Light Co.’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will generate enough power for 3,000 homes when it is completed

See: Largest Solar Power Plant In U.S. Rises in Sunshine State


Resources:

DOE: “The Smart Grid: An Introduction”

Enhancing the Smart Grid: Integrating Clean Distributed and Renewable Generation (PDF 1.14 MB)

Vice President Biden Outlines Funding for Smart Grid Initiatives

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Largest Solar Power Plant In U.S. Rises in Sunshine State

posted by GeoT
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Testing will soon be complete, and the facility will begin directly converting sunlight into energy, giving Florida a spot in the solar energy limelight


ARCADIA, Fla. – Greg Bove steps into his pickup truck and drives down a sandy path to where the future of Florida’s renewable energy plans begin:

DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Ardacia, Fla

DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Ardacia, Fla

Acres of open land filled with solar panels that will soon power thousands of homes and business.

For nearly a year, construction workers and engineers in this sleepy Florida town of citrus trees and cattle farms have been building the nation’s largest solar panel energy plant. Testing will soon be complete, and the facility will begin directly converting sunlight into energy, giving Florida a momentary spot in the solar energy limelight.
The Desoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will power a small fraction of Florida Power & Light’s 4-million plus customer base; nevertheless, at 25 megawatts, it will generate nearly twice as much energy as the second-largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.

The White House said President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the facility Tuesday, when it officially goes online and begins producing power for the electric grid.

As demand grows and more states create mandates requiring a certain percentage of their energy come from renewable sources, the size of the plants is increasing. The southwest Florida facility will soon be eclipsed by larger projects announced in Nevada and California.

“We took a chance at it and it worked out,” said Bove, construction manager at the project, set on about 180 acres of land 80 miles southeast of Tampa. “There’s a lot of backyard projects, there’s a lot of rooftop projects, post offices and stores. Really this is one of the first times where we’ve taken a technology and upsized it.”

Despite its nickname, the Sunshine State hasn’t been at the forefront of solar power. Less than 4 percent of Florida’s energy has come from renewable sources in recent years. And unlike California and many other states, Florida lawmakers haven’t agreed to setting clean energy quotas for electric companies to reach in the years ahead. California, New Jersey and Colorado have led the country in installing photovoltaic systems; now Florida is set to jump closer to the top with the nation’s largest plant yet.

The Desoto facility and two other solar projects Florida Power & Light is spearheading will generate 110 megawatts of power, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than 3.5 million tons. Combined, that’s the equivalent of taking 25,000 cars off the road each year, according to figures cited by the company.

Complete Story Here:

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Over 1,000 GreenGov Ideas and Counting!

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Message from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu

Earlier this week, we launched the GreenGov Challenge – a new way for federal employees and military personnel to help green our government. The response thus far has been tremendous, but I know there are many more of you that we still need to hear from.

Energy efficiency is an issue I’m passionate about, and it is a major focus for the Department of Energy. For the next few decades, energy efficiency will be our most effective tool for reducing our carbon emissions, and the best way to reduce energy bills for America’s families. Specific ideas on how to save money and energy are especially welcome.

chu-and-obamaI know many federal employees share my passion and have great ideas for how to help the government become greener. Many have shared great ideas already on my Facebook page.

The GreenGov Challenge is a way for you to have your ideas heard. Ideas can be submitted through October 31st. We recognize that some of the best ideas on how to save energy may not be new, but they are simply not widely adopted. I want to hear from you what you think are the most cost-effective ways to save energy and money as well as new ideas. The top ideas will be evaluated and put into action shortly thereafter.

I hope you will take a moment to think about the energy saving opportunities around you, to dream up new ways to solve them, and to be a part of making this effort a success. I look forward to reviewing your ideas and tackling this challenge with you.

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Vice-President Biden Unveils Report Focused on Expanding Green Jobs And Energy Savings For Middle Class Families

Posted by Buellboy

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WhiteHouse.gov—Vice President Biden today unveiled Recovery Through Retrofit, a report that builds on the foundation laid in the Recovery Act to expand green job opportunities and boost energy savings by making homes more energy efficient. Joining the Vice President today were Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy; Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor; Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and Karen Mills, Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

At a Middle Class Task Force meeting earlier this year, the Vice President asked the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to develop a proposal for Federal action to lay the groundwork for a self-sustaining home energy efficiency retrofit industry. In response, CEQ facilitated a broad interagency process with the Office of the Vice President, eleven Departments and Agencies and six White House Offices to develop recommendations for how to use existing authority and funding to accomplish this goal. These recommendations are described in detail in the Recovery Through Retrofit Report.

Recovery Through Retrofit is a blueprint that will create good green jobs – jobs that can’t be outsourced, and jobs that will be the cornerstones of a 21st-Century economy,” said Vice President Biden. “And, thanks to the Recovery Act’s unprecedented investments in energy efficiency, we are making it easier for American families to retrofit their homes – helping them save money while reducing carbon emissions and creating a healthier environment for our families.”

Vice-President Joe Biden

Vice-President Joe Biden

This report builds on the foundation laid in the Recovery Act to expand green job and business opportunities for the middle class while ensuring that the energy efficiency market will thrive for years to come,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “An aggressive program to retrofit American homes and businesses will create more work, more savings, and better health for middle class Americans.”

Existing techniques and technologies in energy efficiency retrofitting can reduce energy use by up to 40 percent per home and lower total associated greenhouse gas emissions by up to 160 million metric tons annually. Retrofitting existing homes also has the potential to cut home energy bills by $21 billion annually. Yet, despite the real energy cost savings and environmental benefits associated with improving home energy efficiency, a series of barriers have prevented a self-sustaining retrofit market from forming. These barriers include a lack of access to information, financing and skilled workers.

The recommendations and actions in this Report have been carefully designed to help overcome these barriers and to leverage Recovery Act funding to help ensure that the energy efficiency market will thrive long after the Recovery Act money is fully spent.

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A Bottom-Up Approach to Greening Government: Take the Greengov Challenge

Posted by TheLCster

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On Monday, October 5th, 2009, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order on Federal Sustainability – and in doing so, committed the Federal government to lead by example, practice what we preach and help build a clean energy economy through how we operate.

To harness the collective wisdom of the more than 1.8 million civilian employees and our men and women in uniform, we’re launching the GreenGov Challenge, an online participatory way for Federal employees to suggest clean energy ideas and vote on others.

Some of the top ideas will be presented to the Steering Committee on Federal Sustainability – a group comprised of a senior official from each agency who is responsible for delivering among other things, each agency’s sustainability plan.

Though anyone can see your ideas, only Federal employees can participate – so this is your chance to positively impact how your agency will meet its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

Be part of the GreenGov Challenge and help green our government!

The GreenGov challenge runs from Oct. 19th — 31st

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Will E-Bikes Be the New ‘Commuter Cool‘?

Posted by TheLCstergoinggreen

Keith and Mary Felch have cut their driving in half by using e-bikes.

Keith and Mary Felch have cut their driving in half by using e-bikes.

CNN —Keith Felch is admittedly a big guy, but more than a few super-fit cyclists in Southern California have been left wondering how that dude just went flying by. And then his wife, Mary, comes motoring past.

They stare, like how can a girl go past me,” she says, laughing. It takes the other riders a few seconds but then they figure it out.

They have electric motors.

The Felches, who live in Aliso Viejo, California, used to drive everywhere, except when they used their bikes for recreation.

That changed when they got their new e-bikes, made by a company called Optibike. Now, they ride to go shopping and to go to breakfast — but mostly they ride to work.

Keith Felch says the couple has cut 50 percent of their car-use since they started electric biking.

And there are other benefits. Keith Felch dropped 30 pounds and his blood pressure fell 10 points in the first six months he owned the bike, he says.

The Felches don’t exactly classify themselves as “environmentalists,” although Mary said it is important to have a positive effect on the planet.

I learned that the worst amount of smog that you put out [in an automobile] is in the first mile, so if we can make even some of those shorter trips on our bicycles, it makes a big difference,” she says.

What’s an ‘e-bike’?

E-bikes run on 1 horsepower motors, or good old-fashioned pedal-power.

E-bikes run on 1 horsepower motors, or good old-fashioned pedal-power.

By law, electric bikes must have no more than 1 horsepower and go no faster than 20 mph (on motor power alone).

Basically they are much like traditional bicycles with small motors that power the bike or assist a rider with pedaling. Many have gears like a regular bike.

It’s just adding the throttle aspect, other than that it handles like a regular bicycle,” Keith Felch said. He says he uses the throttle all the time, choosing one of two modes — eco [half power] or fast [full power].

He says he once tried a regular bike for his 4 ½-mile ride to one of his music studios where he teaches jazz improvisation.

But the hills nearly got him. He calls his electric bike a “hill eraser.”

It also makes the ride to his farthest studio — 22 miles away — seem much closer. He says he gets about 35 miles on his primary battery and has an additional one for long rides.

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Watsonville solar project to power thousands of homes

WATSONVILLE — A plan to install solar panels at the city dump to provide enough power for 4,700 homes (10% of the city population) is moving forward with the blessing of the City Council.

Solar Panels in Watsonville, CA

Solar Panels in Watsonville, CA

Construction of more than 6,500 panels could start at the end of March and be generating 2.3 megawatts of power before the end of 2010, according to Steve Schumer of San Jose-based Cupertino Electric Inc.

The city would lease the land to Cupertino Electric at a price yet to be negotiated. The council, which approved the project Tuesday in a 6-0 vote with Councilman Greg Caput absent, must still approve the lease agreement.

Schumer said a third party, whose name he declined to disclose, has signed a letter of intent to buy the electricity if the price is right.

“We’re close,” Schumer said.

The city also is working with Cupertino Electric to install solar panels at the Watsonville Municipal Airport to produce another megawatt of power. Don French, general manager of the airport, said the deal will go before the City Council after engineering studies are completed. He supports the project.

“I like the idea of solar panels, and if the airport can make a few bucks, I’m all for it,” French said.

A third project in the works would put solar panels on rooftops of city buildings.

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