Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 5, 2010

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS.... A couple of weeks ago, an item from Bill McKibben caused a stir, as he relayed his difficulties in getting the Obama White House to install solar panels on its roof. McKibben, who took a road trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to urge this simple step, had brought students with him from Maine, who were reduced to tears after an unsatisfying meeting with administration officials.

McKibben, noting his first-hand experience with the "enthusiasm gap" and blasting the president for having "stiffed" him and his efforts, added some speculation: "the White House political team has decided that if they put solar panels up on the roof, Fox News will use that as one more line of attack; that they somehow believe the association with Jimmy Carter is the electoral equivalent of cooties; and that, in the junior high school lunchroom that now comprises our political life, they didn't want to catch any."

That was 18 days ago. Today, the White House that seemed to let environmentalists down took a far more encouraging step forward -- and showed no regard for electoral cooties.

President Barack Obama has agreed to put solar panels back on the White House roof for the first time since former President Ronald Reagan had them taken off in 1986.

"By the end of this spring, there will be solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House," Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a clean energy conference at George Washington University on Tuesday. [...]

"Around the world the White House is a symbol of freedom and democracy," Chu said. "It should also be a symbol of American commitment to a clean energy future."

In a statement, McKibben said he was thrilled with the news. "The White House did the right thing, and for the right reasons: they listened to the Americans who asked for solar on their roof, and they listened to the scientists and engineers who told them this is the path to the future," Mr. McKibben said in a statement. "If it has anything like the effect of the White House garden, it could be a trigger for a wave of solar installations across the country and around the world."

I've noticed that the White House doesn't always do the right thing immediately, and may not move as quickly as some would like, but more often than not, it lands where it should on issues that matter.

Steve Benen 11:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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"...they somehow believe the association with Jimmy Carter is the electoral equivalent of cooties..."

Not taxpayer funded, but didn't Bush's ranch in Crawford have solar panels?

Posted by: Chris on October 5, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

'I've noticed that the White House doesn't always do the right thing immediately, and may not move as quickly as some would like, but more often than not, it lands where it should on issues that matter.'

Really Steve? REALLY? This is the problem with this party...OMIGOD the President didn't do what I WANTED for 18 days. He isn't a LEADER. He's COWARDLY, yada yada. This isn't like putting panels on YOUR house. Not only the political implications (which you totally SPECULATE about) but the logistics of the people WORKING at the WH, vetting installers so they can DO the work, checking the building to make sure it can DO solar and COLLECT it...but no. The President is too SLOW. God almighty you guys REALLY need to take a chill pill...

Posted by: SYSPROG on October 5, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

This is on the same day the NY Times reports the Pentagon wants research into solar and other alternative energy sources because our troops in Afghanistan are being denied fossil fuel supplies by insurgent attacks.
Guess the folks with suburban versions of the Hummer don't have to deal with these "issues."

Posted by: Art Hackett on October 5, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Bushit's "ranch" in Crawford has geo-thermal heating/cooling which is as green as it gets. Bush never seemed (or for that matter the Liberal Press) to broadcast the little known facts that he was not using fossil fuel to cool and heat his "ranch". Nope, that would have sent the wrong signal to low information voters that conservation and "green" is better than Cheney Oil...Nauseating

Posted by: stevio on October 5, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Since September 2002, a grid of 167 solar panels on the roof of a maintenance shed has been delivering electricity to the White House grounds. Another solar installation has been helping to provide hot water. Yet another has been heating the water in the presidential pool."

http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/solarwhitehouse.htm


Posted by: karen marie on October 5, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Obama is the best president in decades!

Posted by: Alki on October 5, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Bill McKibben pleased! My gosh, next thing you'll tell me is that he stopped washing his clothes by the river and is using a washing machine.

Posted by: hornblower on October 5, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody remember why Reagan took the panels off? Maybe because it sent the "wrong signals" to a nation dependent on purchased oil, instead of 'free' sunlight?

Posted by: DAY on October 5, 2010 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Another reason Reagan just not that admirable.

Posted by: anon on October 5, 2010 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see, and that "more often than not" would include, or NOT, the closing of Gitmo, the reversal of DADT, the appointment/employ of pro-middle class economists, the appointment of economists to the Catfood Commission, the single payer system in health care reform, the end of extraraordinary rendition, the end of government military contracts with crooked contractors, the appointment of an FCC commissioner who acts in support of net neutrality, the withdrawal not increase of troops in Afghanistan, the realization that a GOP minority has crippled the judiciary and blocked climate rescue and the decision to take action to rectify the GOP's lack of patriotism and responsibility, the determination to rally his base (not lecturing or insulting it and whining that he's not appreciated for what he's done), and reading the paper himself everyday to combat the looming White House bubble effect?

Posted by: SF on October 5, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Yet another has been heating the water in the presidential pool.

Obama can swim?

Posted by: Myke K on October 5, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Murdoch is in the saddle and rides mankind

Given the previous post showing Lindsey Graham cowering from Fox fear...
And now McKibben taunting:

"...the White House political team has decided that if they put solar panels up on the roof, Fox News will..."

When will this culture have had enough?
When will Fox and Murdoch get their comeuppance?

Posted by: koreyel on October 5, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

"I've noticed that the White House doesn't always do the right thing immediately, and may not move as quickly as some would like, but more often than not, it lands where it should on issues that matter."

Uh, no. The VAST majority of the time he ends up squarely on the wrong side. Torture, rendition, unitary executive, wallstreet, banks, guns, environment, and on and on AND ON.

Unfortunately even when he does land ont he right side (as here and the NY "ground zero" mosque and a few other issue) he pretty much always takes something that could be a clear political winner and so uderplays it that it comes out as a useless half hearted gesture.

I posted an off the cuff speach in a previous thread imagning Obama accepting the original Carter solar panels and using the opportunity to crucify the republicans. That's the right thing to do because putting solar panels on the whitehouse is an insignificant gesture unless it is used to raise awareness that we should be using a hell of a lot of renewable energy to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.

I don;t give a shit if the president has solar panels on his house ultimately. What I care about is he helps move us to the point where millions of americans do.

Posted by: Tlaloc on October 5, 2010 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

"They refused to accept the Carter panel as a historic relic, or even to pose for a picture with the students and the petition they’d brought with them. Asked to do something easy and symbolic to rekindle a little of the joy that had turned out so many of us as volunteers for Obama in 2008, they point blank said no."

THIS is the problem with the Obama administration. It isn't the fact that Obama took 18 days to finally agree to the panels, it's their initial response in rejecting the Carter panel outright and to even pose with the students (a potentially "damaging" piece of evidence that Faux News might use against them - shudder).

It's fucking cowardice, pure and simple, and it makes you wonder whether Obama would have had a change of heart if McKibbon and the students had gone quietly into the night.

Until Democrats start embracing what's RIGHT about their party, they're never going to put the GOP back on its heels. What Carter did WAS RIGHT, and acting ashamed of it is bullshit.

Posted by: bdop4 on October 5, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Obama -and the D's as a whole- care way too much about the crap the Repugs say. So our side ends up caving in order to prevent the Right from bad-mouthing us even more.

Are all the D's in Washington to dense to realize that the right will talk trash about them NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO?

I think they are. I think that my dear beloved Democrats are paralyzed by fear of the spin machine. The only reason the White House changed their minds this time around is because they were called out on it.

I'm voting D but I lack faith in the party. I just wish they would realize that they have to fight to win.

Posted by: Mitch on October 5, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see, and that "more often than not" would include, or NOT, the closing of Gitmo, the reversal of DADT, the appointment/employ of pro-middle class economists, the appointment of economists to the Catfood Commission, the single payer system in health care reform, the end of extraraordinary rendition, the end of government military contracts with crooked contractors, the appointment of an FCC commissioner who acts in support of net neutrality, the withdrawal not increase of troops in Afghanistan, the realization that a GOP minority has crippled the judiciary and blocked climate rescue and the decision to take action to rectify the GOP's lack of patriotism and responsibility, the determination to rally his base (not lecturing or insulting it and whining that he's not appreciated for what he's done), and reading the paper himself everyday to combat the looming White House bubble effect

Its goddamn whining like this which has helped convince democrats to vote republicans, and you idiots see nothing wrong with it.You spineless pussies are pushing in the republican majorities, think about your precious freedoms then.They are going to tear them all apart.

Posted by: Michael on October 5, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Michael, if the Democrats won't stand up for the right thing, then why the hell shouldn't we hold them accountable? I'm sorry, but the argument, "The GOP is worse" isn't a winner. And demanding accountability from our elected officials isn't whining. It's called citizenship. Mindlessly voting for someone because they have a "D" after their name on the ballot isn't the solution.

Let me ask you this, would an entire Democratic majority made up of Ben Nelson clones be preferable to a GOP majority? Why? If fear prevents the Dems from standing up for their platform, for pushing back against the GOP, from actually doing the only morally acceptable thing with regard to, for example, torture, then what the hell use are they? Do you think they'll magically get better if we just keep saying, "Well, at least they're not Republicans?"

Our country is only as strong as the people are vigilant. When we decide to just root for a team, rather than vote for our beliefs, then we may as well close up and go home, because we're not citizens any more at that point; we're thralls.

Posted by: Sisyphus on October 5, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Well , that's pretty stupid. All of the advances, which this administration has made, and has NEVER been able to happen before, will be repealed and NEVER brought back again, because we wont have the ability or congress to do it. What is passed, can be improved, what isn't there, can never be. YOu lunkheads do not understand what shmeils you are.

Posted by: Michael on October 5, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Here's an idea: How about if Obama has a small nuclear reactor, of the type they use on all our aircraft carriers, installed on the White House grounds? Use it to power the White House, the Capitol, all the government office buildings, and string lights up and down the Washington monument and the other memorial buildings. Light up the whole government grounds like it's Christmas with a little bitty reactor like that to demonstrate to the American people that nuclear power is safe and that it produces a HUGE amount of energy cleanly from something a fraction the size of a solar array that can't even power the White House.

Or am I being politically incorrect here?

Posted by: President Lindsay on October 5, 2010 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Or am I being politically incorrect here?

No. Just a troll. Possibly a buffoon, too, but definitely a troll.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on October 5, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Sisyphus? No you do not have to rubberstamp the Dems but what you DO have to do is decide if what YOU want is so important that you want to vote for the CHANCE of it, or you want to vote to punish those who you believe didn't get the job done. Because if you DON'T vote or vote for the other party you will NEVER get your issues passed. The GOP is NOT going to 'see the light'...they don't even believe there IS a light. So stand on your principles, out there in the wilderness.

Posted by: SYSPROG on October 5, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Troll my ass. I've been here since the early Carpetbagger days. The fact that you reacted that way answers my question about being politically incorrect, and also reveals your own ideological bias and ignorance of the science of nuclear power.

Posted by: President Lindsay on October 5, 2010 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Troll my ass. I've been here since the early Carpetbagger days. The fact that you reacted that way answers my question about being politically incorrect, and also reveals your own ideological bias and ignorance of the science of nuclear power.

I agree lindsay , and it deserves it's time in the sun to be talked about, but to suggest to make the white house a terrorist target even more than it already possibly is, is not a good idea to prove a point. There is a reason nuclear plants are located in specific, usually remote areas to produce energy.
I'm thinking even the small one found on a nuclear sub would not be wise to place in the white house.Nuclear energy might be part of the solution, but green energy is where we will find the jobs, as well as infrastructure.His small business loans he was able to get passed also will help trememdously, tho not for the elections. We just need democrats to not stray too far out of the lines, so that all future progress doesn't stop there.

Posted by: Michael on October 5, 2010 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

I tend to agree with the teacher about the state of American politics. It is a bit like junior high, with the Repubs being bullies and FOX News being the asshole that hides behind him, throwing food at the American people and cheering on the bullies.

FOX News is gonna whine and crap to keep the base riled up and buying GOLDLINE, so it doesn't matter what the president does/doesn't do. They're racist, sexist, homophobic republicans. So kudos to the White House for putting solar on the roof again. Slow is better than no any day of the week.

Posted by: agentX on October 5, 2010 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Just a few questions:
WHO did Mr. McKibben speak to at the White House? Did he arrange this beforehand or just show up? As his Senators are Republicans, and presumably would rather freeze than use solar anything, who is his Representative?

Sisyphus, that use of Sen. Nelson was an excellent strawman. How hard is it to understand that the ONLY way we are going to increase the TOTAL number of progressives in Congress, is to increase the TOTAL number of Democrats (with no guarantee that they'll all be clones of Kuchinich)?
By the way, there is NO Statute of Limitations on war crimes. Time heals many things, but not those...

Posted by: Doug on October 5, 2010 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Easy enough to avoid the risk of making a naval-sized reactor a target: Just install it far enough underground to prevent any reasonable threat from reaching it. Not a problem, really. That, too, would be a great demonstration of how they can be safely built and located, in fact.

McKibben was at that protest last year at the coal plant that powers the capitol. Too bad he doesn't have a better idea.

Posted by: President Lindsay on October 6, 2010 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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