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How green will the 110th Congress be?
Amanda Griscom Little, Grist
"You'd have to go back to the Enlightenment to see such a big change in worldviews." That's how Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook characterized the environmental shift coming to Congress after the Democrats' triumph over the GOP last week.
But, hyperbole aside, what victories can enviros realistically expect on Capitol Hill over the next two years, considering that Congress is still narrowly divided and Dubya still wields a veto pen?
Some key leadership shifts do point toward a dramatic about-face, none more so than Tuesday's announcement that California Democrat Barbara Boxer will replace Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
(17 Nov 2006)
Why the next Congress will be 'greener,' but only by a few shades
Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor
Fiscal restraints and newly elected moderates make radical changes in environmental policy unlikely, activists predict.
..."We have cause for good cheer and optimism," says Betsy Loyless, senior vice president of the National Audubon Society. "But even with significant congressional changes, there will likely be limits to what's achievable."
Among other things, she says, Congress faces tight fiscal constraints, industry interests continue to hold sway with the Bush administration, most incoming Democrats are moderate rather than liberal, and pro-environment interests will have fewer middle-of-the-road GOP allies (such as defeated Sen. Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island) on Capitol Hill.
...In the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, Barbara Boxer (D) of California will assume the chairmanship from James Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma, who has called the Environmental Protection Agency "a Gestapo bureaucracy" and who once called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will be chaired by Democrat Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, another advocate of dealing directly with climate change.
(15 Nov 2006)
Ed Pilkington writes in The Guardian on the significance of the handing over of the chair of the Environment and Public Works Committe to Democrat Boxer: The gas guzzlers muzzled
Robert Gates at the Pentagon Gate
Former CIA director Robert Gates is nominated for the post of Secretary of Defense. So far it seems that all corporate media report this as a positive move.
However, there are several others who try to show the real face of Gates and believe that there is no significant difference between Gates and Rumsfeld.
...On 25 June 2005 Washington Post reported the event like this “The exercise, called "Oil Shockwave" and played out in a Washington hotel ballroom, had real-life former top U.S. officials taking on the role of members of the president's Cabinet convening to respond to escalating energy crises, culminating in $5.32-a-gallon gasoline and a world wobbling into recession.”
"The American people are going to pay a terrible price for not having had an energy strategy," said former CIA director Robert M. Gates, who took on the role of national security adviser. Stepping out of character, he added that "the scenarios portrayed were absolutely not alarmist; they're realistic."
(14 Nov 2006)
Pissing in the Liberal Punchbowl -- Again:
The Democratic Conga Line in the American House of Lords
Joe Bageant, Dissident Voice
...I rooted for the Democrats just like everybody else. How could anyone in their right mind and possessing a smidgen of morals not have been pulling for the Democratic Westchester Country Club Pussy Mafia, sheerly out of revulsion for the other choice -- a real mafia. It’s the old American political pendulum thing, back and forth between parties.
...Democrats like being THE liberal party. They like being the only game in town for anyone who thinks that maybe, just maybe, a police state might not be the best idea we can come up with, or that the Bible may not have been written as a physics or biological treatise. For anything to change at all, Democrats are going to have to actually lead the liberal tribes, make liberal Americans understand that there is too much as stake to let the divisiveness of gender, identity, and single issue politics keep us so divided. Otherwise, when the cheap oil fiesta is over, which will be within most people’s lifetimes, if not my own, when real economic collapse is on the horizon, Americans will switch on the same reptilian survival brain they did when they elected Bush. Assuming they ever turn it off.
(14 Nov 2006)
Brutal essay with a thoughtful conclusion. Joe Bageant is the author of a forthcoming book, Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War. He's 60 years old, for the record. -AF