Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 25, 2010

'WE WILL REGRET IT'.... One of the more dramatic disappointments of the year is the apparent failure of comprehensive energy/climate reform*, which seemed to fail with a whimper this week. The Senate Democratic leadership felt like it had no choice but to scrap the effort, at least for now, in the face of an unyielding Republican filibuster.

Thomas Friedman spreads the blame around today, before concluding, "We will regret it." But instead of a traditional column, Friedman publishes a variety of items -- round-up style -- a couple of which stood out for me.

For example, our global competitors are thinking ahead while we're not:

Just as the U.S. Senate was abandoning plans for a U.S. cap-and-trade system, this article ran in The China Daily: "BEIJING — The country is set to begin domestic carbon trading programs during its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) to help it meet its 2020 carbon intensity target. The decision was made at a closed-door meeting chaired by Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission ... Putting a price on carbon is a crucial step for the country to employ the market to reduce its carbon emissions and genuinely shift to a low-carbon economy, industry analysts said."

Domestic industries are ready to expand, but they can't because our Senate is broken:

A day before the climate bill went down, Lew Hay, the C.E.O. of NextEra Energy, which owns Florida Power & Light, one of the nation's biggest utilities, e-mailed to say that if the Senate would set a price on carbon and requirements for renewal energy, utilities like his would have the price certainty they need to make the big next-generation investments, including nuclear. "If we invest an additional $3 billion a year or so on clean energy, that's roughly 50,000 jobs over the next five years," said Hay. (Say goodbye to that.)

And hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham wrote some wise words in a letter to investors:

"Conspiracy theorists claim to believe that global warming is a carefully constructed hoax driven by scientists desperate for ... what? Being needled by nonscientific newspaper reports, by blogs and by right-wing politicians and think tanks? I have a much simpler but plausible 'conspiracy theory': the fossil energy companies, driven by the need to protect hundreds of billions of dollars of profits, encourage obfuscation of the inconvenient scientific results. I, for one, admire them for their P.R. skills, while wondering, as always: "Have they no grandchildren?"

* fixed

Steve Benen 9:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (13)

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Comments

When Steve wrote "...failure of compressive immigration reform..." he apparently meant "comprehensive energy reform." Big difference!

Posted by: Liberal@MediaElite.com on July 25, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Compressive? Immigration reform? Friedman's article is, obviously, about energy policy and climate change.

Posted by: Misplaced Patriot on July 25, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

If taxpayer subsidies (welfare) to agriculture, energy, and defense went away we would see the true cost of being the 'greatest nation on earth'.

.

Posted by: DAY on July 25, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Domestic industries are ready to expand, but they can't because our Senate is broken:

This is the clincher. The Senate is broken. Why? Because there are still not enough Democrats - progressive Democrats one has to say. So, a nation that is paralyzed in the face of urgent problems cannot cope because the electorate fails to discern the truth. If they did which, granted, is not easy given the immense throttling of truth by corporate interests, they would surely exercise their suffrage to once and for all fix the paralysis.

If this isn't indeed a Catch 22, then what is the solution?

Posted by: Goldilocks on July 25, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

The Senate is a mess. It fails as a democratic institution. Having those who represent few to have the same voice as those who represent many is one of the sad compromises of the Constitutional Convention.
However, this filibuster nonsense is not in the Constitution. It must be changed.
Quoting a hedge fund mgr. on global warming is really a stretch. One does not have to be in the pocket of the oil companies to think it is exagerated. I do have grandchildren.

Posted by: hornblower on July 25, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Harry Reid Pledges Action to Change Filibuster Rules

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/07/24/harry-reid-pledges-action-to-change-filibuster-rules/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wsj%2Fwashwire%2Ffeed+%28WSJ.com%3A+Washington+Wire%29

Posted by: cr on July 25, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

So over and over and over we ask:

Can Senator Reid force a REAL filibuster?

Then you can show it on TV, over and over and over.

The Senate Republicans have been acting like assholes for two years now, when are you DC Dem idiots going to start calling them on it? Because it's working, and they are going to eat your meal ticket this November unless you start treating them like the assholes they already are.

Posted by: Glen on July 25, 2010 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Can Senator Reid force a REAL filibuster?

Effectively, no.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 25, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

There is no reason besides republican obstructionism preventing Americans from having solar panels on every roof and windmills in every community. Germany asked the major utility providers,rather than spend billions building nuclear power plants, just to buy back the energy provided to individual houses with solar panels. This defrayed energy costs for everyone AND provided individuals with enough money to pay for the solar roofs, The loans for solar roofs were guaranteed by the German government at very low interests rates so the whole project ended up paying for itself.

It also created thousands of jobs. So what's the problem with America refusing to deal with its energy needs and the very real life threatening climate changes?...Republicans... and a few corporate dems who are only in congress to protect these multinational corporation's and their wealthy owner's profits.

Dems are at lest trying to do something about it. Dems are willing to recognize and address the problems. All republicans do is criticize, condemn, obstruct and ignore. They have no workable policies, no solutions, just rhetoric. So what possible justification or motivation could anyone have to vote these obstructionists into office???

The wealthy don't five a damn about abortion or gun control or gays because they have enough wealth to be completely unaffected by any regulations in these matters. They care about tax cuts, Ins. and banking monopolies and deregulation. They care about profits above the needs of the nation. Republicans use these single issues to get elected but their real job after elected is to protect the interests of the wealthy...period. They will manipulate anyone and anything to get into power...even the crazies, even the racists. It's not big government we need to fear, it is corporate government. But you already know this so spread the word and don't get complacent. Just remember the horror of the alternative.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 25, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

"...Can Senator Reid force a REAL filibuster?

Then you can show it on TV, over and over and over..."-Glenn

Sorry Glenn, it's corporate owned TV and they will not run a republican filibuster. It would only shut down the government so nothing could get done, no appointments, no funds, a republican dream come true. The senate needs to be fixed. The filibuster must be eliminated or its use limited. Corporate owned republicans have the megaphone, not the dems. 50 Tea baggers gather and it's on TV 24/7. 5000 progressives gather and it's not even mentioned. Every time a republican says something it's all over the news but dems rhetoric is seldom covered.

It's a shameful reality but when repubs were in the majority they shut the cameras off and broke multiple rules to get what they wanted and the MSM ignored it.

Fix the broken senate so government can operate again as it was intended. Get rid of the filibuster or limit its use and end the "holds" nonsense.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 25, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

“The most important question we must ask ourselves is, ‘Are we being good ancestors?’”
- Jonas Salk

Posted by: cld on July 25, 2010 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

"BEIJING — The country is set to begin domestic carbon trading programs during its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) to help it meet its 2020 carbon intensity target. The decision was made at a closed-door meeting chaired by Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission ... Putting a price on carbon is a crucial step for the country to employ the market to reduce its carbon emissions and genuinely shift to a low-carbon economy, industry analysts said."

That is good news, if it actually happens. The US is also, in a manner of speaking, "set to begin" etc. China imports a great deal of its coal and oil, so this is also, for them, a protective tariff. Not many people, if any, will lose jobs in consequence.

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