“And now the time of tide has come; the ship casts off her cables; and from the deserted wharf the uncheered ship for Tarshish, all careening, glides to sea. That ship, my friends, was the first of recorded smugglers! the contraband was Jonah. But the sea rebels; he will not bare the wicked burden. A dreadful storm comes on, the ship is like to break. But now when the boatswain calls all hands to lighten her; when boxes, bales, and jars are clattering overboard; when the wind is shrieking, and the men are yelling, and every plank thunders with trampling feet right over Jonah’s head; in all this raging tumult, Jonah sleeps his hideous sleep. He sees no black sky and raging sea, feels not the reeling timbers, and little hears he or heeds he the far rush of the mighty whale, which even now with open mouth is cleaving the seas after him. Aye, shipmates, Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship- a berth in the cabin as I have taken it, and was fast asleep. But the frightened master comes to him, and shrieks in his dead ear, ‘What meanest thou, O, sleeper! arise!'”
-Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Perhaps it would be nice to open with a song; take it away Mr. Flowers!
Come on! If that does not make you smile, then you don’t know how to say “Nevada.”1)about 5 min in to the President’s speech, he passes the “Nevada” test. Also, no, that is not me playing guitar there on the right, though I do like the cut of his jib.
President Obama touts clean energy
If you happened to, you know, be driving at some point on 24 August in the Las Vegas Valley, you may have noticed that traffic was not moving in any direction. That can only mean one thing; President Obama came to see us2)I want to congratulate us residents of the Las Vegas Valley for not throwing a collective temper tantrum over the traffic jams unlike some other, more touchy cities *cough* New York *cough*!
At the risk of offending most everyone3)We have become so polarized that saying something kind about our President is controversial, I must compliment the President on his commitment in his 2nd term to conservation. With little political upside, the President has made reducing the nation’s carbon footprint a priority4)compared to the 2nd term priorities of the previous two Presidents, it should impress you even more. Although there is much valid debate on either side of the argument over how we should institute a conservation initiative, you will have a difficult time persuading me, given that we have only one earth, that we should not do our best to protect it. There are many different opinions of the best way conserve, and we should carefully deliberate before setting a course of action5)the opposite of how we handled the education savings accounts in Nevada. President Obama’s speech is best seen as a contribution to our national conservation conversation. I will provide a few excerpts of the speech in case you missed it.
As well as we’re doing in wind, we’re making even more progress on solar. (Applause.) I notice you got a lot of sun around here. (Laughter.) America generates 20 times as much solar power as we did in 2008 — 20 times. Last year was solar’s biggest year ever. Prices fell by 10 percent; installations climbed by 30 percent. Every three minutes, another home or business in America goes solar. Every three weeks, we install as much solar capacity as we did in all of 2008. And the world’s largest solar installation came online last year, with 9 million solar panels generating enough electricity to power more than 100,000 homes with clean, renewable energy — not in Germany, not in China, not in Saudi Arabia — right here in the United States of America…And one of the reasons we’ve done this is not just because it’s good for the environment and good for the overall economy — it takes workers to install all this new capacity. And that’s why, last year, the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. Solar has helped a lot of construction workers find work while Congress was dragging its feet on funding infrastructure projects. In fact, the solar industry now employs twice as many Americans as mining coal. (Applause.) We’re helping more veterans find work with our Solar Ready Vets Program, with a goal of training 75,000 solar workers who have been veterans by 2020. That is a goal we can achieve. (emphasis added)
It seems that we are right on the brink of serious technological breakthrough here. Like where we were with the internet in 1995. A little more from President Obama:
Now, what’s interesting is that their actions have conjured up some pretty strange bedfellows. In some states, we got Green Party and Tea Party teaming up to protect our freedom to choose clean energy. It is rare that the Tea Party leaders and I are on the same side of an issue. (Laughter.) I agree with them here. (Applause.) And just because I agree with them, I don’t want them to change their minds now. (Laughter.) I promise there are all kinds of other things you can whoop me. (Laughter.)
But this is important, and they are absolutely right on this fight. This is not, and should not be, a Republican-versus-Democratic issue. (Applause.) This should be an issue that can bring everybody together. (Applause.) If you’re a progressive, you should care about this. If you’re a libertarian, you should care about this. If you just want to save some money, you should care about it. And if you care about the future of our children and grandchildren, you should care about it. (Applause.)
So here, and across the country, this is about whether big polluters control the system, or whether consumers have freedom to choose cleaner, cheaper, more efficient energy; whether we protect old ways of doing business even when they’re not efficient, or we dream up new business models that bring new technologies into our homes and businesses, and new jobs into our communities. This is about the past versus the future. And America believes in the future.
And to make that future a reality, we got to have everybody — utilities, entrepreneurs, workers, businesses, consumers, energy regulators, tree huggers, Tea Partiers — everybody has got to seize the opportunities before us.
Mr. President, let us not forget your favorite constituency: the tea partying, tree-huggers. By the way, I did not go back and check the speech transcript against the actual laughs/applause; is it fair to assume the “official scorer” of the speech probably interprets6)like one of those official scorers in baseball that adjudicate the 50/50, hit/error plays in favor of the home team the terms “speech” and “laughter” more broadly than usual? How could s/he not? Would you want to argue with the President as to if he got a sufficient number of chuckles to justify the transcript saying “(Laugher.)”?
More seriously7)ok, fine, for a couple sentences I will make a semi-serious point but then return back to the usual sophomoric antics, anytime I hear a politician say something in the vain of “this issue is of such importance that it rises above the usual partisan politics” my politi-speak antennae begin to a flutter. I compare this language to when a good friend of yours begins a sentence “with all do respect..”. A qualifier is usually a good indication that the opposite is about to occur in the subsequent language.
All do respect to the President8)I kid, there are very few, if any, political issues that are non-partisan. If you do not agree with the President that conservation should be a national priority, then this point is obvious. For the rest of us, even if cannot fathom why we should not love and protect the earth, we at least can concede that opinion is not uniform on the issue. Pretending otherwise is not constructive, and frankly, greatly upsets those whom do not share your views.
Here are a few pictures from the event:
— KSNV News 3 (@News3LV) August 25, 2015
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) August 25, 2015
— Jeff Gillan (@jgillanNews3LV) August 25, 2015
“But Brian, don’t you have a way to consume the speech through a medium that I will not have to read at all and can just fiddle around on the facebook while its playing so that it is more like I am facebooking to the docile tones of President Obama than consuming political thought?”
As as matter of fact, yes, I do. Enjoy:
The crowd just eats of of his hand, right? With a little practice and hard work, President Obama could match verbal eloquence of Mr. Trump. I just wish the President would bring his “anger translator” with him to more speaking engagements.
Las Vegas was not the only city talking clean energy
Up north9)contrary to popular belief in the Valley, the state boundary does not end at the Clark County line, state leaders of Nevada and California demonstrated how teamwork and good faith can lead to positive change. Senators Heller and Feinstein10)of California hosted the Lake Tahoe Summit.
In particular, the speakers of the summit focused on the depressed levels of Lake Tahoe, how to reduce greenhouse gases in the Tahoe, and how to reduce the risk of wildfire in the Tahoe basin. Although all three areas of concern are important, I will focus on the last.
Wildfires are a significant issue for us Westerners. From Southern California to Washington and the greater Northwest, fires are causing irreparable harm. The fire in Washington is so bad that they have brought in dozens of firefighters from Australia and New Zealand because they do not have enough qualified professionals to assist in containing the blaze. Some estimates have the Washington fire burning until November. Hopefully the rainy season comes early this year.
Our beautiful landscape of Northern Nevada is reportedly dry and at serious risk of wildfire as well. You can tell the risk is serious given how well California and Nevada politicians are working together to address the issue11)reading a couple of the summaries of the Tahoe Summit [see below] will make you smile. Even if the media only covers Donald Trump’s abrasiveness from a day-to-day basis does not mean that there are not politicians out here doing right by their constituents, both in terms of actions and carriage. Perhaps what I see is not all there is . Unfortunately12)from my limited perspective, the wildfires are in the class of natural disasters that we just are not technologically advanced enough to prevent13)With the sudden influx of ‘smart’ technology, this concept is not as apparent as it once was. If I can turn off the lights in my home with my ithing, is there anything we cannot do?.
At the beginning of the century, the federal government provided funding to help protect the Tahoe habitat. Now that funding has dried up, so Sens. Heller and Feinstein teamed up in co-sponsoring a bill to increase funding to protect Northern Nevada/Eastern California:
The event occurred as two bills are being considered to provide the federal government’s share of funds for future restoration projects. One, introduced by Nevada’s and California’s senators, would authorize up to $415 million over 10 years to fund a broad array of projects. The other, introduced in the House by McClintock and Republican Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada, would authorize up to $60 million over a decade, with the money focused on wildfire danger and invading plants and animals that threaten the lake.14)Source
I, for one, am surprised that Rep. Amodei is willing to sponsor a bill for any funding. There is only a difference of $350 million between the senate/house bills; (assuming they pass) should be a fun time in conference committee15)[not-so]Small civics footnote: when the house and senate pass bills that are not exactly alike, members of each chamber meet to find a compromise between the two bills in what is called the “conference committee.” After the committee members agree to common terms, each chamber must vote again on the bill. If it passes, then it is sent to the President’s desk for a signature or veto (or the dreaded pocket veto). If you want to learn more about how powerful the conference committee is, see Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men. If an Obama Administration official asks, you did not hear about that book from me.
A couple pictures from the event:
— Cathy Reheis-Boyd (@WSPAPrez) August 24, 2015
— Dean Heller (@SenDeanHeller) August 24, 2015
Governor Sandoval skipped the Tahoe Summit to discuss…the greater sage grouse?
We will start with Governor Sandoval’s statement regarding his meeting with President Obama:16)I look around the country at some of the silliness of other governors, and it makes me appreciate Mr. Sandoval even more
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) August 25, 2015
You can put your hands down, I already know your questions: “Isn’t the greater sage grouse a kind of chicken? Moreover, why would the Governor and President need to discuss fowl?”
To your first inquiry, yes, the greater sage grouse is a large, wild, chicken-esq bird17)Cute too. As to why the greater sage grouse is subject of a testy political issue, well, that is a much, much more complicated question than you would ever think. For brevity’s sake, I will not provide you will a full history of the issue18)leave a comment for us on the facebook if you demand a more in-depth discussion of the greater sage grouse, and we will bring it to you. Anything for our readers..
Governor Sandoval’s press office exhibited politi-speak quite well there; I do not care how many times you read that statement, you will not find the crux of the issue. This may shock you, but the controversy comes down to the all mighty dollar. I will provide an outline of events so far this year. In early Spring, the federal government announced that, although the population of the greater sage grouse has decreased from the millions to a few hundred-thousand, that working with the state governments, it had a plan to protect the habitat of our bird friends without adding the greater sage grouse to the endangered species list. However, a few environmental lobbyists sued the federal government saying that in accordance with the Endangered Species Act, the government has no choice but to declare the greater sage grouse endangered under the act. Now the feds are saying that they are evaluating the concerns and will issue a ruling before the 30 September date set in the judgment of the lawsuit.
Why would folks care if the federal government declares the greater sage grouse endangered? Because under federal law, exploration and extraction of natural resources19)oil, gas, coal, etc. is severely limited in the habitats of endangered animals. That’s right folks, always comes back to money. And in this case, a significant amount. Do the resource extractors20)#great moments in euphemisms need to worry? Perhaps:
According to CBD, the Obama administration has listed an average of 41 species per year. While that’s more than five times the rate of the previous administration, it falls short of the administrations of Presidents Clinton (65) and George H.W. Bush (58), according to CBD. The Carter administration listed 38 species per year, and the Reagan administration listed 32 per year. The Obama administration is also slated to remove more species from the threatened and endangered lists than every other administration combined (Greenwire, May 29).21)Source
Is there some sort of middle ground where the fowl can form their habitat on a pretty oil derrick? No? I am curious how President Obama will form a grand compromise for this problem.
A little, tangentially, clean energy fun
Mr. Greenspun, publisher of The Las Vegas Sun, hosted a fundraiser for former attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto as she prepares to run for Harry Reid’s senate seat22)By the way she is Sen. Reid’s anointed successor. President Obama and Senator Reid spoke at the fundraiser23)Anyone else notice the conspicuous timing of Sen. Reid endorsing the Iran deal the day before President Obama arrived to speak at Sen. Reid’s clean energy summit?, which you may have heard about in the news because the President referred to some of his political opponents as “crazies.” As to whom are the “crazies”, media accounts are inconsistent. When you carry yourself with the grace of President Obama, even one word out of the ordinary gives the politi-media a conniption24)I can hear Gov. Romney saying, “haven’t you learned how risky it is to speak frankly at fundraisers??”.
Ever wonder what folks eat at a fancy-pants fundraiser like this? Sen. Ford was nice enough to post the menu on the facebook:
@RalstonReports the chicken was fantastic! Lol
— Sen. Aaron D. Ford (@AaronDFordNV) August 25, 2015
I am not completely sure what free-range Jidori chicken breast is, but I trust Sen. Ford’s review.
Before we go, did Senator Reid leak his retirement plans on twitter? Super group anyone?
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) August 24, 2015
More reading, in particular I liked the op-ed penned by Senators Heller and Feinstein:
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↑||about 5 min in to the President’s speech, he passes the “Nevada” test. Also, no, that is not me playing guitar there on the right, though I do like the cut of his jib.|
|2.||↑||I want to congratulate us residents of the Las Vegas Valley for not throwing a collective temper tantrum over the traffic jams unlike some other, more touchy cities *cough* New York *cough*|
|3.||↑||We have become so polarized that saying something kind about our President is controversial|
|4.||↑||compared to the 2nd term priorities of the previous two Presidents, it should impress you even more|
|5.||↑||the opposite of how we handled the education savings accounts in Nevada|
|6.||↑||like one of those official scorers in baseball that adjudicate the 50/50, hit/error plays in favor of the home team|
|7.||↑||ok, fine, for a couple sentences I will make a semi-serious point but then return back to the usual sophomoric antics|
|9.||↑||contrary to popular belief in the Valley, the state boundary does not end at the Clark County line|
|11.||↑||reading a couple of the summaries of the Tahoe Summit [see below] will make you smile. Even if the media only covers Donald Trump’s abrasiveness from a day-to-day basis does not mean that there are not politicians out here doing right by their constituents, both in terms of actions and carriage. Perhaps what I see is not all there is|
|12.||↑||from my limited perspective|
|13.||↑||With the sudden influx of ‘smart’ technology, this concept is not as apparent as it once was. If I can turn off the lights in my home with my ithing, is there anything we cannot do?|
|15.||↑||[not-so]Small civics footnote: when the house and senate pass bills that are not exactly alike, members of each chamber meet to find a compromise between the two bills in what is called the “conference committee.” After the committee members agree to common terms, each chamber must vote again on the bill. If it passes, then it is sent to the President’s desk for a signature or veto (or the dreaded pocket veto). If you want to learn more about how powerful the conference committee is, see Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men. If an Obama Administration official asks, you did not hear about that book from me.|
|16.||↑||I look around the country at some of the silliness of other governors, and it makes me appreciate Mr. Sandoval even more|
|18.||↑||leave a comment for us on the facebook if you demand a more in-depth discussion of the greater sage grouse, and we will bring it to you. Anything for our readers.|
|19.||↑||oil, gas, coal, etc.|
|20.||↑||#great moments in euphemisms|
|22.||↑||By the way she is Sen. Reid’s anointed successor|
|23.||↑||Anyone else notice the conspicuous timing of Sen. Reid endorsing the Iran deal the day before President Obama arrived to speak at Sen. Reid’s clean energy summit?|
|24.||↑||I can hear Gov. Romney saying, “haven’t you learned how risky it is to speak frankly at fundraisers??”|