Boccieri Vs Renacci Debate 10/18/10

19 10 2010

Last night my little guy and I went to the final Ohio 16th Congressional debate.

This late in the campaign there really isn’t much new…

Boccieri voted FOR healthcare reform and as a result my son, who has autism, has insurance– Renacci would get rid of it– “Repeal and Replace”– however in a new twist; Renacci says he would keep the provision that gets rid of deniable pre-existing conditions. His website does not reflect this position change:

Boccieri cites specific ways that the Stimulus has benefited NE Ohio (  while Renacci just stomps his foot and follows Boehner’s lead… NO! NO! NO! (course when the  asked what he likes to do in his spare time he said golf…)

On Energy: Boccieri knows that green energy will provide jobs, clean the air and keep money at home. Renacci on the other hand (and the energy companies who fund his campaign) think that global warming is fiction so, he didn’t answer the question and the panel didn’t call him on it.

There was only one real stunner in this debate– when asked about their approval/disapproval of the Supreme Court’s “corporations as people” ruling– Boccieri said resoundingly that he disagreed with the ruling while Renacci did a little dance about how the Supreme Court knows about these things and he trusts them– so finally– he said he does agree with the ruling. (WHOA!!)

The truth is that he does not agree with all Supreme Court rulings… he disagrees for example with Roe vs. Wade… So… apparently he only trusts the Court when their rulings benefit him. (Renacci’s positions per Project Vote Smart : )

My main take-away (since I already thought Renacci is pretty out of touch and self-serving) was that Renacci followers are rude.  When J and I arrived, we saw a man putting a Renacci sign on each side of EVERY Boccieri sign along the road into the high school… during the debate, they were out-of-bounds– rude! And, towards the end, when Congressman Boccieri cited my son as an example of someone who directly benefits from healthcare reform, the Renacci supporter behind us said– “Who Cares that it helps that kid?!” Well, Rude Renacci lady, I CARE!

Don’t take my word for it… here is the debate:

My Modern Victory Garden

20 05 2008

Victory Gardens were promoted by the US government during WWII as a way for families to deal with the rising cost of food– and, food shortages. It was patriotic to have a garden producing food for the family. Communities sometimes used vacant lots and those with property planted gardens.

I’ve planted my first Victory Garden.  Unlike the Victory Gardens from the WWII era, my garden is designed to be beautiful as well as functional. Companion plants are also taken into consideration although they didn’t mandate the layout. (I’ll get more into companion plants in another post but they are plants that use different nutritional parts of soil and therefore grow well together– that’s really simplistic but you get the drift.)

The most important goals of this garden are to provide food for my family and my parents (who live in a condo) therefore saving money and reducing our footprint on the earth.  It’s organic. I’m learning about composting. While I doubt that this year I’ll be able to, my goal is to be able to set up a booth at the local farmer’s market– so, I’m growing a lot of unique vegetables– like five varieties of carrots from Seed Savers International and Heritage tomatoes.  Things that most people won’t have in their gardens and I hope will be attractive to gourmet cooks.

This is a learning process and I’m documenting my failures and successes.  Much of the ground I have taken for this was grass– a nice ground cover but, how much of it do you really need? A little room for the kid and the dogs, right? (I digress.)  Anyway, I’ve already missed the boat with the carrots… you’re supposed to put them in as soon as the ground is thawed but, I just got them in yesterday so it’ll be mid August before we get our first taste. Learning curve, right?

I’ve done three beds with weed-matted and mulched walks between them which are modeled after German kitchen gardens although this is much larger than the typical kitchen garden. There will be a row of berry bushes dividing it from the rest of the back yard and a fence separates it from the front yard. I’m experimenting with herbs between vegetables– like rosemary next to carrots and basil next to lettuce and spinach. My hope is that it will affect the flavor. We’ll see since there isn’t any pollination I don’t know if it will matter.

My next project is to get water barrels set up to water this garden and greater decrease our family’s footprint and decrease the cost of growing this garden.

There is something good about a garden. Watching things grow from a tiny seed, getting down on my knees to pull weeds and watering in the evening. It somehow cleanses the grit of real life.

Viva La Gardening Revolution!!

Rain Barrels

15 03 2008

I have just figured out how easy it is to make a rain barrel.  First I did my on-line search and found that they range (with shipping) between $100 and $450… what’s the incentive?! Ok… I’m all for earth conservation– recycle, reduce, reuse and all that but come on! Gotta be able to save some money on the water bill within a year or two, right?

So– what you need is a plastic barrel (wood works too but unless you luck into a great yard sale that’s more expense than it’s worth), a rain chain (can be made out of copper wire for only a couple of bucks) or gutter extender, a piece of hose for over flow, faucet and a screen to keep leaves out.  Also, recommended are mosquito rings– go organic so it’s ok to use in the garden and around pets. Total cost with no shipping–$50-60. Now, that is reasonable. Run an on line search and you’ll find the “how to” guide pretty easily.

I’m going to make three rain barrels in the next few weeks. I’m guessing I’ll be able to make my investment back inside of two seasons. It’s a responsible use of a free resource and can be used to shame my neighbors into a little Eco friendliness!

Energy Efficiency as a way of Recession Proofing

14 03 2008

We are looking at what can be done in our home to decrease our energy use and as a nice bonus decrease our monthly bills. 

Four months ago I quit my job to be at home with our 8 year old autistic son. Since then I have learned to shop smarter and cheaper while increasing the quality of food we eat. I have also become consumption conscience and am working toward getting rid of the clutter– things we don’t use anymore like old software and “pretties” that have been in boxes for the last three years. A bonus is that selling this stuff on Ebay has paid the mortgage two out of the last four months. Ebay bought all  (yes– all) of our Christmas presents and paid for a lot of our groceries. I’ve begun a recycling program at home and am planning a big garden– the tomato plants are already starting to sprout in the sunroom! My bicycle is going in for a tune up and I’m looking for a big basket to attach to it for running errands. So, it’s only natural that the next step in my transformation is energy efficiency.

Our house was built in the 1930s. It has a lot of charm but doesn’t have a lot of the things that would make it efficient.  When we moved in three years ago we planned to replace windows and update the heating/cooling system (which right now is a 15 year old furnace with radiators and window AC units). So these are things that have needed to be done for a while… we just haven’t made it a priority… (Shame on us!)

Replacing windows and insulating the attic are no brainers– that must be done. What about the dinosaur gas furnace and water heater? I’ve been reading up on tank-less water heaters– they are electric, hard-wired and just heat what water you need when you need to use it so there isn’t any electrical waste. These units run about $200 a piece and require someone who knows what they are doing to install. They are small enough to fit under the kitchen sink. As far as the heating/cooling options– there are minimally invasive installation split unit air conditioner/heaters that run between $500 and $1,000 depending on the size (BTUs) you need. These also have to be professionally installed.

In a rough estimate we’d be able to replace windows, insulate the attic, replace the water heater with three tank-less heaters, and swap out our furnace/ACs for under $10,000. Ok. That’s a lot of money. But the timing is right to pull some money out of the market– I have to do something with the retirement fund from my last job. So, I can reinvest it in a market that is kinda iffy right now or we can use it to decrease our footprint and our monthly bills. I think we’ll probably divided it between the two…

It looks like by making these changes we would recover (in monthly savings) our investment in two and a half to two years. It increases the value of our home– or will when the housing market recovers.

I still have some research to do but we believe that decreasing our monthly bills without incurring debt is a pretty smart move. If we are, in fact, in a recession or heading towards one decreasing our monthly expenses is smart.

Financial pundits are making investment and debt reduction suggestions for recession proofing. Our investments need to stay put. Our debt is limited to our house. So apart from aggressive savings (only where do you put it? Watch CNBC for an hour and you’ll need to take a handful of pain pills…) decreasing our monthly bills seems to make the most sense.

I Haven’t Been To Walmart in a Month

10 03 2008

Ok… let me be honest- my husband has been to Walmart for batteries and dog food. I drive 40 minutes into the countryside to an Amish Bulk Food Store and, even with the price of gas at three times what it was when Bush took office, I’ve cut our weekly grocery bill down to only $80– and we are eating better than we have in our entire married life!

It took a little cash to get my pantry set up– three boxes of canning jars and a roll of labeling tape but it’s all set to go– looks great!

One nice thing about being a stay at home mom is that I have time to cook from scratch– that also saves money and the food is healthier! Tastes pretty good too!

I know that not everyone has a Bulk Food Store close by but there are lots of ways to improve the quality of your family’s meals as well as reduce the cost. Making food from scratch is actually kind of fun! I’m enjoying being creative– it works out well about 2/3 of the time… the peaches with pork wasn’t all that– edible but not (by any stretch) tasty!

Anyway, I do believe that Walmart is bad for our communities and I’m really proud that my family isn’t shopping there much anymore.  Also I believe that when it’s important– really important– it is possible to have a stay at home parent…

I can’t wait to get started on my organic vegetable garden!

The Remaining Four Candidates on Energy and Environment

20 02 2008

Here’s part three– we’ve covered Autism and Economy. So here’s the last of the three things that matter the most to me in this Presidential Election.  Since I live in Ohio and have the luxury of an open primary all candidates– regardless of Party are in the running for my vote. Ok– Here we go: Energy (which really goes with environment…) 


10.25.2007 12:00 AM
Sen. Barack Obama
Green The Vote 2008
By Dan Shapley
Barack Obama
The Plan: Obama would enact a $150 billion, 10-year plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80% and invest in renewable and alternative energy technology, including biofuels and clean coal.
How He’d Pay for It: An auction of carbon credits from a cap-and-trade greenhouse gas pollution regulation.
What Sets Him Apart: Creation of an independent, private Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund, funded with $10 billion for five years, to invest in technology development.
“The truth is, our energy problem has become an energy crisis because no matter how well-intentioned the promise — no matter how bold the proposal — they all fall victim to the same Washington politics that has only become more divided and dishonest; more timid and calculating; more beholden to the powerful interests that have the biggest stake in the status quo…. We cannot afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake. Global warming is not a someday problem, it is now.”—Barack Obama, Oct. 8, 2007
Sen. Barack Obama has made an aggressive carbon cap-and-trade program the centerpiece of his energy and environmental agenda. He intends to raise $150 billion over 10 years from the auctioning of carbon pollution credits, and using the money to fund a variety of initiatives to boost energy efficiency, new alternative energy sources and fuels, and the revolutionizing of the American auto industry.

Obama earned the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters in his bid for the Senate.

Between 1995 and 1996, his scores on the LCV Scorecard was 95. The Scorecard rates politicians on a scale of 0 to 100 based on their votes on environmental issues on which LCV has taken a position. He scored 95 and 100 in his two terms in the Senate.

The 2008 Obama campaign has taken $94,278 from the oil and gas industry, ranking him 6th of 15 candidates and 3rd of seven Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Barack Obama’s Energy and Environmental Platform at a Glance

These points are derived from Barack Obama’s speeches, public comments and the energy and environmental policies outlined on his campaign Website.


Cut carbon dioxide emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Employ a cap-and-trade system whereby companies would have to restrict pollution to within a national cap, and those that pollute less could sell credits to those who pollute more. Auction all credits.

  • Create the Global Energy Forum — modeled on the G8+5, which included all G-8 members plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa — to focus on global energy and environmental issues, including first global warming. Ultimately merge efforts with the United Nations on climate change.
  • Develop domestic and international incentives for forest conservation.


  • Spend $150 billion over 10 years on biofuels and biofuel infrastructure, plug-in hybrid, renewable energy, low-emission coal plants and a digital electric grid.
  • Create an independent, private Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund, with $10 billion for five years, to fund technology development. This fund will partner with existing investment funds and our national laboratories to finance new energy technologies.
  • Double, to $6 billion, clean energy research and development.
  • Expand the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program’s weatherization grants, and establish a new dedicated fund to assist low-income Americans afford the higher energy bills that will come with a transition to new energy sources.
  • Invest unspecified amount in workforce training and transition to jobs in the renewable and alternative energy sector, including a program directed at low-income youth.
  • Use nuclear after looking into future solutions to “four key issues: public right-to-know, security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation.”
  • 25% renewable energy portfolio by 2025, and 30% of federal government by 2020.
  • Order Department of Energy to update appliance efficiency standards.
  • Mandate that all new federal buildings built after 2025 will be zero emission buildings. Make all new federal buildings 40% more efficient in five years, and make existing building 25% more efficient in five years.
  • Set goal that all new buildings — federal or not — are zero emissions by 2030, and that the efficiency of existing buildings be boosted by 25%, and new buildings by 50%, in 10 years.
  • Create a competitive grant program to fund local energy efficiency projects.
  • Provide grants and other incentives to encourage states to change the way energy companies earn profits, so that reducing energy demand has as much economic value as supplying increased demand.
  • End the use of incandescent bulbs by 2014.


  • Increase use of corn ethanol to 60 billion gallons by 2030, invest in cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, and support the building of locally owned ethanol refineries.
  • Buy all flex-fuel federal vehicles that can run on E85, a blend of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol, and mandate that all new cars made in America be flex-fuel by 2013.
  • Double fuel economy of U.S. vehicles in 18 years by raising mileage requirements 4%, or about 1 mpg, per year. Offer “generous” tax incentives to automakers to modernize plants, and make standards vary by vehicle class.
  • Establish a low-carbon fuel standard to reduce carbon 1% a year from 2010 to 2020.
  • Expand tax incentives for car buyers who want to buy hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles by lifting the 60,000-per-manufacturer cap on buyer tax credits.


  • Reform transportation funding and to make states consider energy efficiency in all transportation decisions, to encourage so-called “smart growth” transit-oriented developments that discourage suburban sprawl by building in existing cities and town centers, where there is less need to drive a car because home, work, recreation and school are nearby.
  • Reform employer tax credits to “level playing field” for mass transit, which currently gets half the credit as a parking space.
  • Reverse many Bush Administration executive orders and regulations related to the environment, including “$2 billion in cuts to conservation programs.”
  • Increase conservation measures for the Great Lakes
  • Renew industry tax that had paid for toxic waste site cleanups when the polluter can not be identified or cannot afford the cleanup.
  • Increase funding for National Parks and Wildlife Refuges
  • Tighten regulations on factory farms
  • Oppose energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.



10.25.2007 12:00 AM
Sen. Hillary Clinton
Green The Vote 2008 Dan Shapley
Sen. Hillary Clinton
The Plan: A $50 Billion Strategic Energy Fund, modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, that would pay for research, development and deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean coal technology, ethanol and other ‘homegrown biofuels,’ with the goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% and creating 5 million ‘clean energy’ jobs in a decade.
How She’d Pay for It: Royalties from drilling on public land ($10 billion), elimination of oil company subsidies ($20 billion) and the enactment of a requirement that energy companies either pay into the fund or finance their own research and development projects ($20 billion).
What Sets Her Apart: A ‘Connie Mae’ program to help low-income and middle-income families make investments in energy efficiency at home.

She was endorsed by several environmental groups in her campaigns to represent New York in the U.S. Senate.

Between 2001 and present, her scores on the LCV Scorecard, which rates politicians on a scale of 0 to 100 based on their votes on environmental issues on which LCV has taken a position, was 90. Her score each session ranged from 71 to 100.

The 2008 Clinton campaign has taken $211,043 from the oil and gas industry, ranking her 3rd of 15 candidates and first of seven Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Hillary Clinton’s Energy and Environmental Platform at a Glance

Hillary Clinton released her energy plan Nov. 6, and had previously discussed energy and environmental policies in several speeches and interviews.


  • Cut carbon dioxide emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Employ a cap-and-trade system whereby companies would have to restrict pollution to within a national cap, and those that pollute less could sell credits to those who pollute more. Auction all credits.
  • Pledge to “personally act to restore American leadership in international discussions about global warming.”
  • Require all publicly traded companies to disclose financial risks due to climate change.


  • Start a $50 Billion Strategic Energy Fund, modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, that would pay for research, development and deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean coal technology, ethanol and other “homegrown biofuels.” The money would come from royalties from drilling on public land ($10 billion) eliminating oil company subsidies ($20 billion) and requiring energy companies to either pay into the fund or finance their own research and development projects ($20 billion).
  • Enact a renewable energy portfolio requiring utilities to produce 25% of energy from renewable sources like wind, solar and hydro power by 2025 or 2030.
  • Make all new federal buildings designed after January 2009 carbon neutral.
  • Funnel $1 billion annually into a Green Building Fund to help states and local governments and schools improve the energy efficiency of public buildings.
  • Set goal of creating 5 million jobs in a new “clean energy” sector in a decade.
  • Start 10 “Smart Grid City” partnerships to “prove the advanced capabilities of smart grid and other advanced demand-reduction technologies.”
  • Create program to renovate 20 million low-income homes with energy efficiency improvements.
  • Develop a new “Connie Mae” program to help low-income and middle-income families make investments in energy efficiency at home.
  • Is “agnostic” about nuclear power, given that it meets local opposition and that there’s no solid plan to deal with radioactive waste.


  • Expand use of biofuels to 60 billion gallons by 2030.
  • Extend tax credits for biofuel production
  • Require that 50% of U.S. gas stations stock E85 ethanol fuel by 2012.
  • Require automakers to make all vehicles flex-fuel by 2015.
  • Invest in freight rail for transporting biofuels.
  • Invest $2 billion in research and development of cellulosic ethanol, and provide loan guarantees.
  • Create new incentives for farmers that grow biofuel crops.
  • Set goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions of new biofuels to 20% of current fuel supply.
  • Develop new research incentives for improving agricultural production related to biofuels.
  • Enact new tax credits for energy-efficient vehicles and other vehicle research and development via the Strategic Energy Fund.
  • Would increase fuel economy to 55 mpg by 2030.
  • Would create $20 billion in “Green Vehicle Bonds” to help U.S. automakers finance the transition to cleaner vehicles.
  • Supports liquid coal development only if it the fuel emits 20% less carbon dioxide than traditional fuels.
  • Set a goal of cutting oil imports in 66%.


  • Ensure scientific advice is unfiltered by politics by increasing whistle blower protections, elevating scientific advisers in the administration and taking other steps to prevent political operatives from altering scientific conclusions.
  • Invest “dramatically” in basic and applied research at the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, universities and elsewhere.
  • Pursue an “ambitious agenda” in space exploration and earth sciences, including a fully funded NASA earth sciences program and new climate science satellites.
  • Invest unspecified amounts in math and science education, expanding fellowships for graduate study and scientific research, creating new National Science Foundation fellowships to encourage high-level teaching in under-privileged high schools and encouraging more women and minorities to choose careers in science and engineering.


  • Require chemical companies to prove the safety of chemicals before putting them on the market, set more stringent exposure standards for children, create a “priority list” of existing chemicals that need more testing to prove safety, and create an “environmental health tracking network” that ties together information about pollution and chronic diseases.
  • Include environmental protections in international trade agreements
  • Reverse many Bush Administration executive orders and regulations related to the environment.
  • Oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Update 1872 mining laws so companies pay more royalties for mining public lands and do more to restore the land after completing projects.
  • Restore or increase funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and National Parks.
  • Renew industry tax that had paid for toxic waste site cleanups when the polluter can not be identified or cannot afford the cleanup.



10.25.2007 12:00 AM
Gov. Mike Huckabee
Green Your Vote 2008
By Dan Shapley
 Gov. Mike Huckabee
The Plan: Like most of his fellow Republican candidates, Huckabee has not outlined a detailed energy plan.
What He Supports: Nuclear power, fossil fuel exploration, renewable energy like biofuels and wind power, new coal technology and hydrogen.
What Sets Him Apart: He and Sen. John McCain are the only Republican candidates to endorse the idea of a cap-and-trade regulation to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. He also wants to abolish the income tax, which he says would cut down on consumption by taxing sales instead.
“We have to explore, we have to conserve, and we have to pursue all avenues of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass. Some will come from our farms and some will come from our laboratories…. None of us would write a check to Osama bin Laden, slip it in a Hallmark card and send it off to him. But that’s what we’re doing every time we pull into a gas station.” —Mike Huckabee, 2007
Mike Huckabee has pledged to make the nation energy independent by the end of his second term as president, and has said the question of whether or not global warming is caused by humans is irrelevant since “It’s the old boy scout rule: you leave your campsite in as good or better shape than how you found it.”

Huckabee’s voting record hasn’t been scored by the League of Conservation voters because the group doesn’t rate governors.

The 2008 Huckabee campaign has taken $16,950 from the oil and gas industry, ranking him 11th of 15 candidates and 6th of eight Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Mike Huckabee’s Energy and Environmental Platform at a Glance

Mike Huckabee talks about energy policy primarily in economic and national security terms, discussing renewable energy, for instance, as a way to increase the market for farm products. He has not published a detailed energy plan, but has some priorities outlined on his Website, and he has discussed some of his positions publicly.


  • Has been quoted as saying he supports a cap-and-trade system for controlling greenhouse gas emissions, but has not spelled out specific goals and regulations, or made it a prominent part of his campaign’s energy policy.


  • Supports nuclear power, and creating economic incentives for communities that store radioactive waste.
  • Supports fossil fuel exploration and extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Supports various renewable energies, including wind, solar and biofuels like ethanol made from corn and other crops and waste products.
  • Supports government research and development into new energy sources, if matched by private companies.
  • Sees an end to property and income taxes, in favor of a consumption tax, as a way to boost ingenuity in the development of new energy sources.
  • Supports coal when used with new “clean coal” technology.
  • Supports development of hydrogen as a fuel source.


  • Favors increasing fuel economy standards but has not set goals for how fast or how much he would increase them.


  • Discusses domestic food availability as a component of national security.
  • Supports farm subsidies.
  • Supports a national crop insurance program


Why The Republicans for Environmental Protection Endorsed McCain
By Jim DiPeso

The political wise guys say that John McCain has little chance of securing the Republican nomination for president. Too old, too little money, too much yesterday’s man, etc., etc.

So, why did my organization, Republicans for Environmental Protection, endorse McCain for president?

Why not Rudy Giuliani, who’s ahead in the polls and promises no-nonsense leadership?

What about Mitt Romney, whose business success, chiseled visage, and family pedigree are the stuff of Republican dreams?

Or Fred Thompson, who has a baritone voice and … and … a baritone voice.

The simple truth, as we see it, is that no other Republican candidate understands as well as McCain that energy is a convergence of security, economic, and climate risks requiring action today. No other GOP candidate has given the interrelated web of energy and climate issues the kind of thoughtful consideration or offered the legislative solutions that he has.

McCain championed greenhouse gas emissions reductions before it was cool and well before it was popular.

The Pack Catches Up to McCain

Let’s focus on climate for a minute. Today, climate change is the topic of the hour. Republicans are climbing aboard the bandwagon. Even Fred Thompson, who last April ridiculed the issue with allusions to global warming on Pluto, is now saying that climate change is real.

Just last week, a bipartisan group of senators, led by John Warner (R-VA), a GOP stalwart, and Joe Lieberman (Kinda Sorta D-CT), introduced a cap-and-trade bill, America’s Climate Security Act, to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly two-thirds by 2050.

One of the co-sponsors is Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), not the first name that the green set would list as a congressional environmental champion.

The same day that Warner and Lieberman dropped their bill, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) put out a press release calling for a sector-by-sector approach, rather than an economy-wide cap.

That’s a good sign. Congress is debating how, not whether. Let the reactionary bloggers, radio gasbags, and self-important TV pundits blather on that climate change is a leftwing plot to bring down capitalism. Business leaders, states, cities, conservationists, academics, and ordinary citizens have accepted the science, moved on, and are ready to discuss practical solutions.

But it wasn’t so long ago that McCain’s was a lonely voice in the GOP calling on his colleagues to take climate change seriously.

A Republican Answer to Global Warming

His evolution as a climate change leader dates to the 2000 presidential campaign. In February of that year, a few of our REP leaders managed to wangle a meeting with McCain at the Phoenix airport. As McCain and his entourage entered the Sky Harbor conference room, the very first words out of his mouth were, “What do I tell them about global warming? Everywhere I go, people are asking me about global warming. I need a good Republican answer! Can you help me?”

The REP leaders looked at each other, gulped, and said, Senator, we’ll write you a policy paper on the topic. So we did.

Shortly thereafter, the McCain campaign ended in the bottomlands of South Carolina.

Now, we can’t take all the credit for what happened after McCain returned to the Senate, but we like to think that we helped plant an idea in his head. Beginning in 2001, he started looking into the climate issue. He held hearings, questioned scientists, and turned the topic over in his mind.

He led expeditions to the ends of the earth — Alaska, Antarctica, and Greenland — to educate his Senate colleagues. He and Lieberman sponsored legislation, the Climate Stewardship Act, similar to the bill introduced last week.

And, most importantly for Republicans, he has framed the issue in conservative terms. In an energy policy speech last April, he dismissed critics who say the effects of climate change are too uncertain or too distant in time to warrant action.

“I’m a proud conservative, and I reject that kind of live-for-today, ‘me-generation’ attitude,” he said. “It is unworthy of us and incompatible with our reputation as visionaries and problem-solvers. Americans have never feared change. We make change work for us.”

Nearly a century ago, Theodore Roosevelt said, “Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of ensuring the safety and continuance of the nation.” TR’s insight about stewardship is as timely today as it was then. REP is convinced that John McCain gets that, and that’s why we endorsed him for president.

From His Website:

John McCain’s Speech On Energy Policy

April 23, 2007

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you. I appreciate the invitation to talk with you about a great and urgent challenge – breaking our nation’s critical dependence on foreign sources of oil, and making America safer, stronger and more prosperous by modernizing the way we generate and employ energy.

Oil is often called the lifeblood of our economy-the indispensable commodity that keeps commerce humming and America on the move. But, in today’s world, our dependency on foreign oil and the way we use hydrocarbons is a major strategic vulnerability, a serious threat to our security, our economy and the well being of our planet.

Fortunately, there are times in a nation’s history when great challenges coalesce with great moments of opportunity. We are at such a moment today. We have the urgent need and the opportunity to build a safer and thriving future with more diverse, reliable, and cleaner energy. But it will take another indispensable commodity to make it happen -American leadership. I’m running for President to help provide that leadership. And I want to talk a little today about the direction I want to lead us and why.

Oil is a vital resource and we will always need it. But we account for 25% of global demand and possess less than 3% of proven reserves. Most of the world’s known reserves are in the Persian Gulf, in the hands of dictators or nationalized oil companies. Its availability and price are manipulated by a cartel of countries where our values aren’t typically shared and our interests aren’t their first priority.

By mid-century there will be three-and-a-half billion cars worldwide-over four times the number today. Most of the growth will take place in the developing world, in India and China, but the increase in fuel prices, pollution, and climate impacts will be felt worldwide. As world demand for oil soars, higher prices, severe economic volatility, and heightened international tensions follow. These unpredictable forces could seriously circumscribe our future if we let them. Great nations don’t leave the “lifeblood” of their economy in the hands of foreign cartels or bet their future on a commodity located in countries where authoritarians repress their people and terrorists find their main support. Terrorists understand the seriousness of our vulnerability. Al Qaeda plans for attacks on oil facilities in the Middle East to destroy the American economy. A little over a year ago, a suicide attack at a major Saudi Arabian oil refinery came close to disabling its target. Had it succeeded, it would have driven the world price of oil above $150 dollars a barrel -and kept it there for a year.

We’re one successful attack away from an economic crisis. The flow of oil has many chokepoints – pipelines, refineries, transit routes, and terminals; most of them outside our jurisdiction and control. Our enemies understand the effects on America of a significant disruption in supply – a crippled transportation system, gasoline too expensive for many Americans to purchase, businesses closed.

Al Qaeda must revel in the irony that America is effectively helping to fund both sides of the war they caused. As we sacrifice blood and treasure, some of our gas dollars flow to the fanatics who build the bombs, hatch the plots, and carry out attacks on our soldiers and citizens. Iran made over $45 billion from oil sales in 2005, and it is the number one state sponsor of terrorism.

The transfer of American wealth to the Middle East helps sustain the conditions on which terrorists prey. Some of the most oil-rich nations are the most stagnant societies on earth. As long as petro-dollars flow freely to them those regimes have little incentive to open their politics and economies so that all their people may benefit from their countries’ natural wealth. The Middle East’s example is spreading to our own hemisphere. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is using his country’s oil revenues to establish a dictatorship, bully his neighbors and succeed Castro as Latin America’s leading antagonist of the United States. The politics of oil impede the global progress of our values, and restrains governments from acting on the most basic impulses of human decency. There is only one reason China has opposed sanctions to pressure Sudan to stop the killing in Darfur: China needs Sudan’s oil.

The burning of oil and other fossil fuels is contributing to the dangerous accumulation of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere, altering our climate with the potential for major social, economic and political upheaval. The world is already feeling the powerful effects of global warming, and far more dire consequences are predicted if we let the growing deluge of greenhouse gas emissions continue, and wreak havoc with God’s creation. A group of senior retired military officers recently warned about the potential upheaval caused by conflicts over water, arable land and other natural resources under strain from a warming planet. The problem isn’t a Hollywood invention nor is doing something about it a vanity of Cassandra like hysterics. It is a serious and urgent economic, environmental and national security challenge.

National security depends on energy security, which we cannot achieve if we remain dependent on imported oil from Middle Eastern governments who support or foment by their own inattention and inequities the rise of terrorists or on swaggering demagogues and would be dictators in our hemisphere.

There’s no doubt it’s an enormous challenge. But is it too big a challenge for America to tackle; this great country that has never before confronted a problem it couldn’t solve? No, it is not. No people have ever been better innovators and problem solvers than Americans. It is in our national DNA to see challenges as opportunities; to conquer problems beyond the expectation of an admiring world. America, relying as always on the industry and imagination of a free people, and the power and innovation of free markets, is capable of overcoming any challenge from within and without our borders. Our enemies believe we’re too weak to overcome our dependence on foreign oil. Even some of our allies think we’re no longer the world’s most visionary, most capable country or committed to the advancement of mankind. I think we know better than that. I think we know who we are and what we can do. Now, let’s remind the world.

George Gershwin wrote that good music reflects its people and times. “My people are Americans,” he said. “My time is today.” That’s what made his music memorable. That’s what made all America’s best accomplishments memorable. We were capable and confident, we aspired to greatness and we understood our times. Our time is today, my friends, and the achievements of our storied past will shine no brighter than those we accomplish right now, in our time, if we meet our problems confidently and honestly; if we trust in the strength and ideals of free people; if we aspire to greatness.

As President, I’ll propose a national energy strategy that will amount to a declaration of independence from the fear bred by our reliance on oil sheiks and our vulnerability to the troubled politics of the lands they rule. When we reach the limits of military power and diplomacy to contain the dangers of that cauldron of burning resentments and extremism, energy security is our best defense. We won’t achieve it tomorrow, but we must achieve it in our time.

The strategy I propose won’t be another grab bag of handouts to this or that industry and a full employment act for lobbyists. It will promote the diversification and conservation of our energy sources that will in sufficient time break the dominance of oil in our transportation sector just as we diversified away from oil use in electric power generation thirty years ago; and substantially reduce the impact of our energy consumption on the planet. It will rely on the genius and technological prowess of American industry and science. Government must set achievable goals, but the markets should be free to produce the means. And those means are within our reach.

Energy efficiency by using improved technology and practicing sensible habits in our homes, businesses and automobiles is a big part of the answer, and is something we can achieve right now. And new advances will make conservation an ever more important part of the solution. Improved light bulbs can use much less energy; smart grid technology can help homeowners and businesses lower their energy use, and breakthroughs in high tech materials can greatly improve fuel efficiency in the transportation sector. We need to dispel the image of conservation that entails shivering in cold rooms, reading by candlelight, and lower productivity. Americans have it in their power today to contribute to our national security, prosperity and a cleaner environment. They understand the dangers we face, and are prepared to respond to appeals to patriotism that explain how we can free ourselves from them.

We need not wait for another age, in which science fiction becomes every day reality. Flexible-fuel vehicles aren’t futuristic pie in the sky. We can easily deploy such technology today for less than $100 per vehicle; and we must develop the infrastructure necessary to take full advantage. We were able to overcome the challenges of putting seatbelts, airbags, and computer technology in practically every car. We can provide fuel options and improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicle fleet by making them out of high tech materials that improve their strength and safety. We are doing that very thing right now to beat our foreign competitors in the aerospace industry.

Alcohol fuels made from corn, sugar, switch grass and many other sources, fuel cells, biodiesel derived from waste products, natural gas, and other technologies are all promising and available alternatives to oil. I won’t support subsidizing every alternative or tariffs that restrict the healthy competition that stimulates innovation and lower costs. But I’ll encourage the development of infrastructure and market growth necessary for these products to compete, and let consumers choose the winners. I’ve never known an American entrepreneur worthy of the name who wouldn’t rather compete for sales than subsidies.

America’s electricity production is for the most part petroleum free, and the existing electric power grid has the capacity to handle the added demand imposed by plug-in hybrid vehicles. We can add more capacity and improve its reliability in the years ahead. Nuclear energy, renewable power, and other emission free forms of power production can expand capacity, improve local air quality and address climate change. I’ll work to promote real partnerships between utilities and automakers to accelerate the deployment of plug-in hybrids.

With some of the savings from cutting subsidies for industries that can stand on their own, we can establish a national challenge to improve the cost, range, size, and weight of electric batteries for automobiles. Fifty percent of cars on the road are driven 25 miles a day or less. Affordable battery-powered vehicles that can meet average commuter needs could help us cut oil imports in half. The reward will be earned through merit by whomever accomplishes the task, whether a laboratory in the Department of Energy, a university, a corporation or an enterprising young inventor who works out of his family’s garage.

There is much we can do to increase our own oil production in ways that protect the environment using advanced technologies, including those that use and bury carbon dioxide, to recover the oil below the wells we have already drilled, and tap oil, natural gas, and shale economically with minimal environmental impact.

The United States has coal reserves more abundant than Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves. We found a way to cut down acid rain pollutants from burning coal, and we can find a way to use our coal resources without emitting excessive greenhouse gases.

We have in use today a zero emission energy that could provide electricity for millions more homes and businesses than it currently does. Yet it has been over twenty-five years since a nuclear power plant has been constructed. The barriers to nuclear energy are political not technological. We’ve let the fears of thirty years ago, and an endless political squabble over the storage of nuclear spent fuel make it virtually impossible to build a single new plant that produces a form of energy that is safe and non-polluting. If France can produce 80% of its electricity with nuclear power, why can’t we? Is France a more secure, advanced and innovative country than we are? Are France’s scientists and entrepreneurs more capable than we are? I need no answer to that rhetorical question. I know my country well enough to know otherwise.

Let’s provide for safe storage of spent nuclear fuel, and give host states or localities a proprietary interest so when advanced recycling technologies turn used fuel into a valuable commodity, the public will share in its economic benefits.

I want to improve and make permanent the research and development tax credit. I want to spend less money on government bureaucracies, and, where the private sector isn’t moving out of regulatory fear, to form the partnerships necessary to build demonstration models of promising new technologies such as advanced nuclear power plants, coal gasification, carbon capture and storage, and renewable power so we can take maximum advantage of our most abundant resources. And I’ll make it a national mission to develop a catalyst capable of breaking down carbon dioxide into useful chemical building blocks, and rendering it a new source of revenue and opportunity.

America competes in a global economy where innovation and entrepreneurship are the pillars of prosperity. The competition is stiff and the stakes are high. We have the opportunity to apply America’s technological supremacy to capture the export markets for advanced energy technologies, reaping the capital investment and good jobs it will provide. Our innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs and workers have the knowledge, resources, and drive to lead the way on energy security, as we have in so many other world-changing advancements. The race has always been to the swift, and America must be first to market with innovations that meet mankind’s growing energy and environmental needs. Again, government should set the standards, and leave it to the marketplace to win the race.

I have proposed a bipartisan plan to address the problem of climate change and stimulate the development and use of advanced technologies. It is a market-based approach that would set reasonable caps on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, and provide industries with tradable credits. By reducing its emissions, a utility or industrial plant can generate credits it may trade on the open market for a profit, offering a powerful incentive to drive the deployment of new and better energy sources and technologies; for automakers to develop new ways to lower pollution and increase mileage; for utilities to generate cleaner electricity and capture carbon; for appliance manufacturers to make more efficient products, and for the nation to use energy with maximum efficiency-building conservation into the economy in a manner that produces financial and environmental benefits. Dupont Corporation has reaped $2 billion dollars in energy savings and reduced its carbon emissions by 72% since 1990.As it always does, the profit motive will attract the transformational power of venture capital, and unleash the market to move clean alternative fuels and advanced energy technologies from the margins into the mainstream.Some urge we do nothing because we can’t be certain how bad the problem might become or they presume the worst effects are most likely to occur in our grandchildren’s lifetime. I’m a proud conservative, and I reject that kind of live-for-today, “me generation,” attitude. It is unworthy of us and incompatible with our reputation as visionaries and problem solvers. Americans have never feared change. We make change work for us.In the coming months, other proposals will be offered to establish a national climate policy. I welcome this. But let’s not let urgency breed rashness and irresponsibility. I claim no monopoly on the best answers. Let the marketplace of ideas flourish. But as there is great reward in the responsible policy, there’s also enormous risk in the wrong way forward. The policy must include mechanisms to control costs and protect the economy. Just as there is danger in doing too little, there is peril in going too far, too fast, in a way that imposes unsustainable costs on the economy. I believe “cap and trade” is the best way to manage cost and maximize benefits, but we must look at other market-based means to give added assurance that our policies are an instrument of job creation, economic progress, and environmental problem solving.Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. But we know America has both an obligation and a compelling national interest in fulfilling our historic leadership role. China’s carbon emissions will soon exceed ours. As President, I will invite a collaborative relationship with China to make coal use cleaner and climate friendly. But, we should address the problem on our terms, and bring others into the fold of a common sense effort to solve it, while we sell to the world the technologies needed to do it.Answering great challenges is nothing new to America. It’s what we do. We built the rockets that took us to the moon not because it was easy but because it was hard. We’ve sent space probes into the distant reaches of the universe. We harnessed nuclear energy, mapped the human genome, created the Internet and pioneered integrated circuits that possess the computing power of Apollo spacecraft on a single silicon chip you can barely see. In twenty years we’ve gone from using this cell phone, a $4000 toy for the wealthy, to this cell phone, an inexpensive and virtually universal means of communication. We can solve our oil dependence. You can’t sell me on hopelessness. You can’t convince me the problem is insurmountable. I know my country. I know what we’re capable of. We’re capable of unimaginable progress, unmatched prosperity, and vision that sees around the corner of history. We’ve always understood our times, accepted our challenges and made from our opportunities, another better world. My people are Americans. Our time is today. That is the country I ask to lead. My evaluation: Well, Clinton and Obama, again aren’t that different from eachother. The big difference is how they would pay for the programs. Obama; Carbon Credits– while Clinton would use royalties from drilling on public land. Yikes… I thought we were supposed to be heading towards energy independence– green fuel… humm. So, I guess Obama wins out in this round. I do have some concerns about the increased use of corn. Making fuel from corn really does take a lot of energy– it causes issues with farm-land and forest being devoted to growing corn for fuel and not for food– Ask Brasil how this is working out for their environment.As far as the Republicans: Huckabee is saying that we can be energy independent by the end of his second term in the Oval Office but, I don’t see specifics.  I like Huckabee– wouldn’t it be fun to have our President stopping by Colbert on a regular basis…?! I’d really like to like his policies but I’m not seeing the detail I need to go his direction. And, McCain… well… he didn’t do so poorly in this round but, doesn’t WAR really hurt the environment and waste fossil fuel? So, I’m thinkin’ that what he’s talking about is a lot of lip service and I couldn’t vote for him even if her were the best in all three of my categories.

The Scores:
Obama 1 (.5 Autism, 1.5 Economy) Total: 3
Clinton 1 (1.5 Autism, 1.5 Economy) Total: 4
Huckabee .25 (0 Autism, 1 Economy) Total: 1.25
McCain .50 (.25 Autism, 0 Economy) Total: .75

So, I guess now I need to weigh the less objective– do I trust the candidate? Do I trust the Party the candidate belongs to? Do other things they have said negate what they are promising on these issues that matter the most to me? What is their record and is it consistent with what they are saying now? Have they managed to do their jobs while campaigning– we are paying their salaries afterall… And, sadly, how do thier spouses rate? ( I know that we are electing the candidate but does the Bill factor matter or not?)
I doubt I’ll disclose where I end up.

Life Simplified

17 02 2008

It all started by cleaning out a couple of closets… selling a few things on Ebay… taking a few more to Goodwill… recycling a few others.  Now it’s about making life easier.

Consumption for the sake of having stuff is so wasteful… How many “Pretties” does a person really need? “Pretties” are things you can’t play with, you can’t do anything with… they don’t evoke memories better than photos and certainly take up more space.

I like “Pretties” but, how much do I need? And, really do I need to own that book or is borrowing it from the Library just as good?

I’m not a stereotypical tree hugger. I wear make-up and don’t like gypsy skirts. I’m not going to chain myself to anything.  But, the idea of a simpler life, consuming conscientiously and really just being a good steward of the earth is becoming more important to me.  I want J to learn that it’s not all about “stuff”.

One of my nephews is horribly spoiled. He has everything.  Plastic seeps out of his pores. He is an ugly child– I don’t mean physically I mean his demeanor: Give me all your attention, all your money, all my whims. None of the cousins like playing with him… he picks fights and makes false accusations (although, if J really did slug him last summer I’m sure he deserved it!) J will not be like him. J will grow up respecting his environment, appreciating what he has and taking care of himself, his possessions and his world.

We, Americans have too much. We live in a consumer culture and we are wasteful. Consuming consciously does improve life– from hauling stuff in to the house when grocery shopping; one trip from the car is so much nicer in the rain! To the chore of dusting– moving three items is better than moving ten…

Question consumption. Do you need it? Will you still want it next week? Next month? Do I have to buy it new or is a hand me down or yard sale/eBay buy just as good?

My mother– who is a child of the great depression– pointed out that reducing consumption reduces sales and therefore jobs.  I guess my nephew’s parents will have to make up for my reduction in consumption…