Archive for February 13th, 2007|Daily archive page

Quicky: Dino Farts=Global Warming

Just to save the planet, the Republican Rep(rehensible) Dana Rohrbacher seems to be suggesting that we just need to make sure that the modern day dinosaurs don’t have digestive problems…

ROHRBACHER: So, whether or not how dramatic this change will be, or is, what it’s caused by, are things that honest people, I think, can disagree with, and I really personally, having been a journalist, the first thing I was always cautioned by when someone was claiming, well, everybody is on my side, or everybody says this, or there is a total consensus, almost always when people said that to me over my years as a journalist, it wasn’t true. It was that there were honest people who disagreed and significant disagreement on such issues. We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows? We do know the CO2 in the past had its time when it was greater as well. And what happened when the CO2 was greater since then and now? There have been many cycles of up and down warming. So with that said, I think that we’ve had a great discussion today. [my emphasis]

On the other hand anthropogenic methane, not due to dinosaur flautlance but livestock and bacteria in rice paddies, does make up a significant percentage of the greenhouse gas effect. (Nitrous oxides and methane produced are far ‘better’ greenhouse gases than CO2)

Just an idea, let’s start giving cattle not just antibiotics but Pepto-Bismol. Good for the climate, cows and Procter & Gamble stockholders. Or not?

(Hat Tip: Think Progress and Spiegel Online (German)

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Have a Drink Kim

In what can only be considered a diplomatic coup, the Bush administration is announcing a major breakthrough in negotiations with North Korea. Headlined in both the New York Times and the Washington Post this looks like a real step forward. From the WP coverage,

Envoys from six nations reached a tentative agreement early Tuesday on the first steps toward North Korea’s nuclear disarmament, a potential breakthrough in talks that have faltered repeatedly since 2003.
[…]
The tentative agreement lays out the first concrete steps that would put into practice an accord reached in September 2005, in which the Pyongyang government pledged to dismantle its entire nuclear program. According to diplomats involved in five days of arduous talks here, the opening move would be for North Korea to close down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and readmit international nuclear inspectors in exchange for energy aid.

In that regard, Tuesday’s accord is expected to resemble an earlier bargain with North Korea, the Agreed Framework reached in 1994 during the Clinton administration but renounced eight years later during the Bush administration. Under that deal, North Korea pledged to freeze and eventually dismantle its reactor in return for 500,000 tons a year of heavy fuel oil.

Wait. It isn’t a breakthrough, more of a status quo ante? Like taking great steps backwards to President Surrender Monkey Bill Clinton? That’s what five years of Axis of Evil brought?

No you say? And what’s different Ms Smartypants?

North Korea was able to refine the material for several bombs from the reactor Clinton had managed to get padlocked? They have enough plutonium to make 8 to 10 bombs? And the US doesn’t have to build the light water reactors that Donald Rumsfeld’s former company was contracted to deliver but never actually built?

And Kim has been on cognac withdrawal for – like – months now?

Oh. Much Better.

But remember. The inks not dry on the treaty yet. I’m sure the Administration will find a way to accuse North Korea of invading Iraq or ties to al-Quaeda or the Contras or someone. (Maybe the canucks?)

So we almost have a deal. Maybe. If nothing goes wrong.

And Kim finally gets some cognac.

A Last Stand

E. J. Dionne Jr. has an excellent op-ed about how abortion is a Litmus Test for Hypocrisy.

It is well worth the read.

It deals less with abortion per say. And while Dionne looks at the positions or rather the evolving positions of various politicians, he only uses that as the point of his foil.

He looks at the deeper issue. Abortion, as with many other issues, is a test of whether a politician can tow the party line. To be accepted to the upper echelons of leadership, one must adapt to the parties ideas. Abortion happens to be one of the first and foremost of those ideas.

This has two effects.

First, politicians are forced to represent positions they don’t necessarily hold, thus they use talking points memos and pundits to push issues. That waters down the political debate and disillusions voters. Do you really believe the politician or is that just another plank in the party line?

But second, the public crucifies politicians who don’t actually have positions on some issues. Simply because the issue is, in the opinion of the lawmaker less then central, the public and the pundits have room to attack and destroy the opposition. According to Dionne,

But there is something systematic about the willingness of politicians to adapt their views on abortion to suit the preferences of whatever electorate they are facing at any given time. The reason: Our political system has created strong incentives for candidates to be less than candid about what they really think.

To begin with, candidates are rarely willing to say outright what’s true for so many of them: that they do not consider abortion the most important issue in politics and that it is not the reason they entered public life.
[…]
Yet politicians who acknowledged that abortion was not one of their driving concerns would be denounced, oddly enough, as unprincipled. [my emphasis]

I feel that the party system, while necessary in a less connected past, it has out lived it’s usefulness. Perhaps it is time to find a way to bring the vote closer to those who are effected. To stop forcing politicians to take a stand on every issue, only on those that they believe in.

And remember, taking a stand isn’t always a good idea. Look what happened to Custer.