Friday, February 9, 2007

Democrats sit on their hands

THE WAR: Lots of wrangling this week over the NONBINDING resolution against continuing or escalating the war. It's NONBINDING-- but that's a first step, a way to build consensus and support.

Congress has the Constituional authority through legislation or the "power of the purse" to end or limit this war.

Good testimony by former soldiers. The opposition of returning soldiers was a turning point in ending the Vietnam war.

After the big peace march on January 27 (seems like a lifetime ago) went with some Code Pink folks to "occupy" Sen. Clinton's office and urge her to end the war. It was fun and theatrical, though I don't think Hillary is listening.

She should listen though. If she led the fight to end the war, she'd have proved her leadership and be in a very strong position to win both the nomination and the presidency. (Sen. Hagel seems to be positioning himself very well as the only visible Republican blasting Bush on the war...) If Hillary dithers like all the rest, well, again, why bother? She's in a quandry. Many of her downstate New York (City) constituents are war supporters because of a desire for US military presence in the Middle East to protect Israel from the neighbors that it has occupied and attacked. But the broader national electorate is increasingly fed up with this war. So far, she's acting like the Senator from Israel (oh, sorry Joe Lieberman's got that title) and not the next President of the United States.

The Libby trial. Fascinating. But probably inconsequential. Bet Bush will pardon him. The trial does reveal Cheney's paranoid machinations. Why does Nixon keep coming to mind? Will Dick testify? Hard for me to imagine, but the defense says they're going to call him.


On climate change, Pelosi and Dingell "made nice." She gets her special committee that has no legislative power, just information gathering (and the committee expires a few days before the 2008 elections), and he gets to continue his decades of obstrution of anything that might inconvenience the auto industry.

So we're going to wait at least two more years for Congress to do anything substantial about climate change. The fossil fuel industry wins another round without even a fight.

Check out . Both former Fed chair Paul Volcker and lead NASA-Goddard climate scientist, James Hansen have endorsed carbon taxes to tilt the economic table away from fossil fuel and towards energy conservation and renewables and thus to soften the blow of climate change. Volcker said we have to act now, or there won't be much left of our economy in 30 years. How about that?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

CARBON TAXES: Powerful Incentives to Steer Us Away From Climate Catastrophe

The weather outside is frightening... Time to transfer fear into, well, how about prices?

Dr. James Hansen, NASA-Goddard's lead climate scientist calculates that we need to reduce carbon emissions by 80% to avoid pushing Earth's climate past a cataclysmic tipping point. Everything we do must shift dramatically, starting yesterday!

The good news: We could vastly reduce emissions by cutting waste and implementing known technologies. The bad news: We're being bribed not to do it.

Present fossil fuel prices don't reflect the global and future costs of burning them. We're not paying for the devastation of the polar regions, the loss of crop land and inundation of cities and even entire countries as sea level rises and storms become more destructive. In fact, fuel prices don't even reflect the costs of obtaining fuel, especially the military and human toll. So we use far too much fuel because it falsely appears less costly than conservation or renewables.

Dr. Hansen and many economists advocate a gradually-increasing carbon tax to shift our entire economy towards energy conservation and renewables. Taxes sound repellant to most of us, but carbon taxes don't have to mean a higher total tax burden. They could replace other taxes, fund new infrastructure (e.g., high-speed trains) or their revenue could be refunded per capita so everyone would get an equal "allowance" and could decide how much to spend on fuel while reaping rewards for using less. The newly-formed Carbon Tax Center provides many resources including a concise slide show explaining the advantages of carbon taxes. They point to the advantages of a carbon tax over "cap and trade" systems that lack transparency (allowing manipulation and profiteering) and don't provide incentives to the entire economy.

Carbon taxes now!