YDATL Blog
NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

No nukes is good nukes?
Today's bloggerWhat do you think -- red or white wine? I know summer's cranking up the heat and a nice chilled pinot grigio is probably the better choice, but I've been told shiraz is a better match for the rich, spicy flavors of crow pie. Lucky me, I've got a double helping of crow pie right here.

Last week, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, in partnership with Atlanta WAND, hosted a book lecture by Drs. Brice Smith and Arjun Makhijani, who discussed "Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Warming." Readers of this blog already know that I'm much more worried about waking up in Waterworld than I am about radiation (when you work in a toxic lab and hang out in smoky bars, what's a little cesium and iodine between friends?), so I headed down to the bookstore with a healthy degree of skepticism about the anti-nuclear pro-wind la-dee-da I was going to hear. I walked out back on the fence and back to the drawing board, and dagnabbit, I hate that.

Far from being a hysterical knee-jerk reaction against all things fissile, the physicist/nuclear engineer tag-team laid out their case against more nuclear power based on something we can all agree on: cost. Their new book -- drawing in part on (and rather more skeptically than my reading of) the major 2003 study by MIT, "The Future of Nuclear Power, and another major U of Chicago study I can't find right now* -- supposedly concludes that even under optimistic assumptions about downward trends in reactor construction costs, increasing fossil fuel prices, and reasonable carbon emissions taxes on fossil burning plants, the numbers simply aren't there for nuclear energy to be an "obvious" choice. Current arguments against things like wind power and "clean coal" are based on their generation cost of approximately 6 cents/kWh, which can't compete with coal and the reported cost of nuclear electricity around 3 cents/kWh. However, they assert that when you include the entire life cycle cost in an honest analysis, nuke starts pushing up toward the 6 c/kWh level, at which point the other concerns kick in to make more nuclear energy a really bad idea. On top of all that, there's the fact that in order to make a serious dent on carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels -- and to keep up with increasing energy demand at the same time -- we'll have to immediately kick off a building spree on power plants that's just historically unprecedented, and given the fact that the power companies are still dragging their feet**, preposterous.

Those concerns are based on less quantifiable things, like the increased risk of nuclear proliferation: both direct, as in the potential diversion of enriched uranium or extracted plutonium, depending on your fuel cycle selection; and indirect, as in the way any addition to the nuclear technology treasure chest makes it very hard to dissuade other countries from wanting the new gadgetry under the current hole-riddle hypocrisy of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. And there is also, of course, the Three Mile Island factor, and despite all of the simulations and probabilistic modeling undertaken by the nuclear industry on a constant basis, the authors fall again on the side of skepticism, and after my brief foray into probabilistic life assessment myself, I can't say I blame them: there are just too many variables that interact in a nonlinear fashion for a risk assessment of something that complex over a time period that long to be anything better than a "good guess."

Even when I asked them if they felt any warmer and fuzzier about potential new reactor designs like the pebble bed modular reactor or the high temperature gas cooled reactor -- helium and graphite moderated cores that are presented as "meltdown-proof" -- Dr. Makhijani pointed out that nobody talks about the other failure mode of graphite reactors: at high enough temperatures (e.g., in the event of cooling failure), the graphite-encased fuel elements can burn. Apparently many of the non-spectacular but still quite messy (and costly) whoopsiedasies of nuclear material release has been the fault of graphite moderated reactors, not light water reactors. Who knew?

Like I said, this wasn't a flowers-in-your-hair love-in against the evil atom, and the good Drs. did not wrap it up with the fiat that nuclear energy must be rejected absolutely and forever; they just think that it makes good business and environmental sense to pursue instead a few other alternatives:
  • Major increases in efficiency of use

  • Wind energy (pipe down there, Kennedy)

  • Coal gasification and carbon sequestration


  • Being the level-headed guys they are, Drs. Brice and Makhijani conceded that, much like the problem of burying all the nuclear waste in a hole in the ground, carbon sequestration -- or "burying" all the carbon dioxide emissions from a gasified coal plant in a hole in the ground, such as those left by sucking out all that delicious oil -- is going to take some doing. And if you're anything like me, your first instinct upon seeing all these warm-fuzzy TV advertisements in which rosy-faced children tell you to check out some industry website to learn about how coal is going to make their future so bright is to turn around, bend over, and grab your ankles. If it's so awesome, why are you selling it so hard? Well, apparently there might be something to the integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant; read for yourself if you're technically inclined.

    At this point, I really don't know what the best answer is, but I'm certainly less smug about my transuranics. Anyone want to tilt at windmills?

    * At least I don't think I've found it, because the most relevant site brought up by Googling U of Chicago and nuclear power is this one, which actually paints a rather optimistic picture of the cost of nuclear energy. Hmmm.

    ** Last Thursday, Georgia Power went before the Public Services Commission asking for permission to pass along a $50M cost to the consumer for a "study" on possibly building two new reactors at Plant Vogtle. This is no guarantee that they'll actually build the plants, and they're still trying to get the ratepayers to foot the bill despite the big tax incentives in the president's energy bill to encourage utilities to build new reactors as part of the Nuclear Power 2010 initiative. For decades the government incentives for utilities to go nuclear have been ridiculous examples of corporate welfare -- welfare that I often thought justified, inasmuch as it should be an investment in the common good, but it's never enough for the utilities; every time they say they just need a little help to make the big leap, they ask for more before they put the last handout in their pocket. SACE has more about Georgia Power's latest move in this press release.
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    posted by Aerodad at 5/31/2006 10:20:00 AM 3 comments links to this post

    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    What is Right with the Party?
    Today's bloggerBefore I get to the heart of my blog this morning I wanted to share something with everyone. I rarely have perfect moments in my life. Sure I have a lot of good moments or great moments but rarely do I have perfect ones and last night while coming home from a friend's house I had a perfect moment. It happend while I was driving on 85/75 south taking a friend home from the party. There is a spot on that stretch of Hwy that if you look up at the right moment you can get a great look at our incredible skyline. It was in that moment that I looked up and saw our skyline that felt like the luckest woman in the world to living in Atlanta. It was that moment that I felt pride in where I live despite all of its flaws Atlanta is really a great place to live and work. I consider myself someone very rich indeed to be living here and making a life.

    Now, to the heart of my blog today. Yesterday, I was in the car with my very good friend Nikema and she and I were talking about why does everyone always want to write and talk about what is wrong with the Democratic Party? I said to her why doesn't anyone ever write about what is going right with Democratic Party? Last night at the party I was at I posed the question to some of those who were still hanging around. What is right with the Democratic Party? Believe it or not there are a lot of things right with the Democratic Party. Howard Dean our DNC chairman has mapped out a 50 state plan to win elections. He has realized that it shouldn't be about just those swing states. We need to be in play in every state. He has actually hired operatives to help make this happen. We have President Al Gore working very hard on the environmental issues that are facing this country and the rest of world. He has worked for 20 years in order to put environmental issues at the fore front of every country's agenda. There is a lot right with the Democratic Party. All one has to do is look at some of the candidates that are running in our home state to see what is right with the Democratic Party. If we take closer look to some of the house races that are surronding us right now I think the media would be hard press to find what is wrong with the Democratic Party. If someone out there right now wants to know what is right with the Democratic Party. Well, look no farther then TJ Copeland's campaign, Jan Hackney's, Kathy Ashe's, Nan Orrock's and Melanie Erye's campaigns. These five people's campaigns are what stick out in my mind as to what is right with the Democratic Party. They stand up for what they know to be is right and just in our world. One I know would go as so far as to say I don't care if I lose my election there are some things that are far more important to fight for. These candidates are the ones that help make being in the Democratic Pary worth it here in the state of Georgia for me anyway. Why can't the media take a closer look into the heart of our party and see what is right with it instead of always looking at what is wrong with it or what is broken with it? Is just me or something else because rarely do I hear about what is wrong with the Republican Party? Is it because we are the minority party that everyone wants to gain up on us? I just don't seem to grasp why is it people can't ever talk about what we are doing right. Aren't we getting back to what brought us into power between 1992-2000? We are doing a lot of grass roots campaigning. We are taking to the streets to get the word out about the Democratic Party and our values. There is a lot going right for the Democratic Party these days. We have leaders even among the Young Democrats of Atlanta and Georgia that help the Democratic Party and what is right with it. We as Democrats need to keep together as a family and not get distracted by how the media paints us. We can't lose focus on what makes our party the best party. We also need to embrace what makes us different from the other guys. They are not without problems as well. Let the media say what they want about the Democratic Party as long as we know that we are moving in the right direction then all is good. We are going to have ups and downs things we will happen within our Party that we may not agree with, but as long as we keep on keeping on we will get back on top and it will the Republican Party that people will gain up on once again. I'm looking forward to the day when all you read and hear about is what is wrong with the Republican Party. Won't that be a happy day?

    Melissa
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    posted by Melissa at 5/30/2006 12:11:00 PM 3 comments links to this post

    Monday, May 29, 2006

    For the honor of our dead
    Today's bloggerPlease, take a moment this Memorial Day to remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion for America. 1,053 Georgians died for the cause of freedom in World War II, and 75 more have given their lives in Iraq. When the time comes for you to sacrifice this campaign season, remember our dear brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. To give up the fight for Georgia is to dishonor our dead.

    Let we here today fight on. For them, and for their memory.
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    posted by Ataru Atlanta at 5/29/2006 09:49:00 AM 0 comments links to this post

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    Endless Succession of Surprises
    Today's bloggerRemember the four-part framework:

    • Prioritize
    • Network
    • Celebrate
    • Leapfrog

    Today, I celebrate!!

    Last night I was reading from my favorite bedside book, The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear. The book is exactly what it purports to be – a shot in the arm for those of us who see much danger and disappointment in our current political realities. It is ballast and balm for the soul, and always leaves me refreshed when I put it down after reading or re-reading one of the collected essays. I love Howard Zinn’s contribution, The Optimism of Uncertainty, which reminds us that “the bad things that happen are repetitions of bad things that have always happened….” But that even in our current times, we have been awesomely surprised again and again when the power structures come crashing down. He writes,

    When we forget the fragility of that power at the top we become astounded when it crumbles in the face of rebellion. We have had many such surprises in our time, both in the United States and in other countries.

    Looking at this catalog of huge surprises, it’s clear that the struggle for justice should never be abandoned because of the apparent overwhelming power of those who have the guns and the money and who seem invincible in their determination to hold on to it. That apparent power has, again and again, proved vulnerable to human qualities less measurable than bombs and dollars: moral fervor, determination, unity, organization, sacrifice, wit, ingenuity, courage, patience – whether by blacks in Alabama and South Africa, peasants in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Vietnam, or workers and intellectuals in Poland, Hungary, and the Soviet Union itself. No cold calculation of the balance of power need deter people who are persuaded that their cause is just.


    He also exalts not only the Dr. Martin Luther Kings and the Nelson Mandelas among us, but the Cindy Sheehans, and yes, the Bensons, the Shelbys, and the Melissas among us,

    Understand that the major media will not tell you of all the acts of resistance taking place every day in the society – the strikes, protests, individual acts of courage in the face of authority. Look around (and you will certainly find it) for the evidence of these unreported acts. And for the little you find, extrapolate from that and assume there must be a thousand times as much as you’ve found.


    This passage reminded me of another recent event not much covered in the major media. But perhaps you, blog reader, will have heard by now of Jean Sara Rohe. She is the recent graduate of the New School University in New York who stood up to Senator John McCain. McCain had been selected as the New School commencement speaker, sparking disappointment, anger, and protest from many students and faculty. Jean Rohe was one of two student speakers and she discarded her original remarks when she learned that McCain would deliver the same speech he had given at Liberty and at Columbia. Rohe said in her speech,

    Right now, I'm going to…digress from my previously prepared remarks. I am disappointed that I have to abandon the things I had wanted to speak about, but I feel that it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge the fact that this ceremony has become something other than the celebratory gathering that it was intended to be due to all the media attention surrounding John Mc Cain's presence here today, and the student and faculty outrage generated by his invitation to speak here. The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded. Not only this, but his invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all, and to commemorate our achievements.


    If ever we needed “evidence of an individual act of courage,” here is this young woman! Let’s celebrate! She goes on,

    What is interesting and bizarre about this whole situation is that Senator Mc Cain has stated that he will be giving the same speech at all three universities where he has been invited to speak recently, of which ours is the last; those being Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Columbia University, and finally here at the New School. For this reason I have unusual foresight concerning the themes of his address today. Based on the speech he gave at the other institutions, Senator Mc Cain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our "civic and moral obligation" in times of crisis. I consider this a time of crisis and I feel obligated to speak. Senator Mc Cain will also tell us about his cocky self-assuredness in his youth, which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others. In so doing, he will imply that those of us who are young are too naïve to have valid opinions and open ears. I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous and wrong, that George Bush's agenda in Iraq is not worth the many lives lost. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction.


    Picture this young woman, 21 or 22 years old, on a stage in a theatre in Madison Square Garden with Senator McCain sitting mere feet away from her. Word by word, she is proving Zinn’s assertion that ultimately moral fervor and courage are effective against even the most entrenched power structure. I wish there were video of this speech on YouTube, as there was of Stephen Colbert’s remarkable act of courage. We have to do our best to piece together a mental movie of this drama with the excerpts we have on Huffington Post. These are the real moments of history that lead little by little, action by action, to real change. As we watch our mental movie of Jean Rohe, a cheer goes up!! Our hero wins this battle. Let’s take a pause and celebrate this victory, celebrate Jean Rohe. As Zinn writes,

    Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society.


    Jean Rohe is one of our endless succession of surprises (thank you, thank you, thank you!). Here’s how she closed her speech,

    Finally, Senator Mc Cain will tell us that we, those of us who are Americans, "have nothing to fear from each other." I agree strongly with this, but I take it one step further. We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet. Fear is the greatest impediment to the achievement of peace. We have nothing to fear from people who are different from us, from people who live in other countries, even from the people who run our government--and this we should have learned from our educations here. We can speak truth to power, we can allow our humanity always to come before our nationality, we can refuse to let fear invade our lives and to goad us on to destroy the lives of others. These words I speak do not reflect the arrogance of a young strong-headed woman, but belong to a line of great progressive thought, a history in which the founders of this institution play an important part. I speak today, even through my nervousness, out of a need to honor those voices that came before me, and I hope that we graduates can all strive to do the same.


    I am so thankful to Jean Rohe for her stirring words. They lift me up. I am also thankful to her for being a symbol, a hero, for all of us. To remind us of what is possible, what we can be, what we are striving for. Zinn finishes his essay,

    To be hopeful in bad times is not foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.


    Cheers!
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    posted by Emily at 5/24/2006 11:54:00 AM 0 comments links to this post

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    What to do about Cathy?
    Today's bloggerAt the expense of beating a dead horse I'm keeping on the theme that Benson started over the weekend. Its because I'm really confused about what to do? Who do I vote in the primary now? Up until last Wednesday or Thursday I was strong Cathy supporter, but now not so much. Its been really hard trying to figure out what do about a lot things surrounding this particular issue. A whole range of things have been going through my mind as of late trying to get a grasp of what is going on and how will all this shake out come November. Things like how do we stop Perdue from calling a special session, like Melanie Erye said on her blog post on Blog For Democracy its not like this is a crisis that has to be settled right now. Why do we need a special session on this issue? Its not like the LGBT community can now marry. Can we even stop Sonny from calling a special session? Why are people so gun ho about having an Amendment to our constitution anyway? To make gay marriage even more illegal? Does that make sense to anyone? It doesn't to me. Then is where gets really confusing for me. I feel like I'm being pulled in two very different directions here. My brain is telling me to keep plugging away for Cathy Cox and her campaign because to me she is the most logical choice for Governor, but heart feels like its betraying my friends in LGBT community. I'm not sure how many of you out there watched the West Wing but there is scene in the second season that I have been thinking about since this all went down. Its the first episode from that season and Leo is talking to Jed about how sick and tired he is about getting excited over a candidate then being seriously disappointed in the end or picking between the lesser of the who cares or the bar being set so low that you can't even see it anymore. This is now how I feel. I was really excited about Cathy Cox and now not so much. Does that mean that I should now vote for Mark Taylor because he has always been for the Gay Marriage Amendment and at least he doesn't say one thing and do another? What is the point in voting for him if can't win the general election against Sonny? Isn't that a wasted vote? Why do we always shoot ourselves in the foot? Why can't we say one thing and do the same thing? For some reason or another I expected more out of my leaders. Maybe I'm just naive still about how our political leaders should be or maybe its just the product of to much West Wing.
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    posted by Melissa at 5/23/2006 03:54:00 PM 2 comments links to this post

    Saturday, May 20, 2006

    Dear Cathy: Apology not accepted
    Today's blogger

    So I've read Cathy's letter to Chuck Bowen of Georgia Equality. I suppose she intended it as a conciliatory gesture, one of those non-apologies that common politicians specialize in - “I'm sorry you missed the implied subtext of my statement, which demonstrates, depending on your definition of 'demonstrate', that I am in fact not a duplicitous pandering swine like your average politician." We, the loyal Georgia Democrats who put our confidence in Cathy, deserved a lot more after the two-faced betrayal we got slapped in the face with on Wednesday. Cathy, if that's your apology, if that's your pathetic attempt to “clarify" your vicious comments from Wednesday, we are through.

    There's been considerable discussion on Atlanta Public Affairs and BfD about the supposed narrowness of the focus on this one issue as a reason for severing ties with a beloved campaign. I maintain that it is one issue, and it's a lot more important than gay marriage. It's trust, and frankly I don't trust Cathy any more. It's one thing to be opposed to gay marriage, and even to support the constitutional amendment banning it. It's quite another to issue a statement that both directly contradicted a statement only two years ago, for no discernible reason other than naked political pandering, and gratuitously used words like “sacred" directly out of the rabid right's political playbook. That's the most vile kind of flip flop – I didn't tolerate it from John Kerry, and I sure as hell am not going to tolerate it from Cathy Cox. All those words in her apology sounded fine enough, except for the fact that in no way were those sentiments implied or even permitted by the language of her public statement. That's not a clarification, that's a frantic, desperate, and utterly transparent backpedal attempt. That bullshit won't wash with this former Cathy supporter.

    I'm feeling particularly angry at this juncture, so allow me to annotate Cathy's letter to Chuck. My comments are interspersed in red.


    Dear Chuck: What, is this just another business letter for you?

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me I bet that was a fun conversation on the recent court decision that struck down Georgia's constitutional amendment defining marriage. Please know that I understand how emotional and personal an issue this is for gays and lesbians throughout our state. Your recent actions tell a different story. I don't believe you.

    I have always believed that marriage should be defined as the union of one man and one woman. Fine. As you know, the leaders at the Capitol engaged in a campaign two years ago to write this definition into our state constitution, a process I thought unnecessary because Georgia law already set forth this definition. Yeah, that's what you said two years ago. Too bad you said something TOTALLY DIFFERENT on Wednesday. The tenor of that debate was, in many instances, divisive and counterproductive. Way to fan the flames! Just as with so many of the important challenges facing our state in recent years, rhetoric took the place of a reasonable and respectful discussion.

    Now that this debate over a constitutional amendment has resurfaced, I felt it best to have the debate confined to this year – and this year alone. Yeah, and the fact that you apparently thought it would be politically expedient to shamelessly pander to the bigots in this state rather than remembering who your friends are (or used to be) is just an added side benefit, right? For that reason and God knows what others, I support Attorney General Baker's expedited appeal. And, if the state Supreme Court upholds Judge Russell's decision like it matters anyway, I would prefer that the legislature deal immediately with the issue in a special session thereby dooming you and all your Democratic colleagues who matter in Georgia to the same humiliating defeat we suffered in 2004 – smart! rather than have this matter overshadow all other important issues for the next two-and-one-half years which might not happen if you gave us a chance to take back the House or the Senate, which you seem not to be interested in, which is the next time a constitutional amendment could be voted upon.

    I know we don't agree on the legal definition of marriage Really!, but I am committed to achieving equality for every Georgian Psst – You already contradicted yourself. Maybe that political claptrap would have flown before you opened your mouth, but that time is passed., regardless of where they're from or what they believe as long as they aren't gay. During this campaign, I will not tolerate rhetoric that divides us. Apparently unless you use the divisive rhetoric yourself... As Governor, not likely, I will work every day in months beginning with 'R' to change the tone and tune of government So is that why you issued a statement that could have come directly from the mouth of Sonny Perdue, or even Ralph Reed? Please. so that the interests of all Georgians are considered and dismissed in the process of writing, debating, and passing our laws.

    I hope you still support changing the way government does business here in Georgia. I do. That's why I won't vote for you in the primary, not anymore. Together no, we will lead Georgia forward. We may not always agree on the issues, but I hope we can all agree that we must face the challenges of this state together Sounds great, so why did you turn Benedict Arnold on us?, with humility, mutual respect, and in a spirit that is reflective of our shared purpose.

    Very Truly Yours, Spare us.

    Cathy Cox
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    posted by Ataru Atlanta at 5/20/2006 07:52:00 PM 16 comments links to this post

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Ask for directions, get arrested
    (Disclaimer: This blog is mainly a rant about how ridiculous the world is.)

    If you've ever wondered just what N.W.A. were talking about they said "F*** the police", here is the real-world example of "protect and serve" you've been waiting for. Apparently asking the Baltimore cops for directions is a bad idea; it can get you arrested and thrown in jail for 8 hours. No joke. Presumably major crime in Baltimore has ceased, since officer Natalie Preston, a six-year "veteran" of the farce (er, "force"), saw fit to haul in two kids who had the audacity to be unable to find their way home from Camden Yards instead of protecting the city from murderers, rapists, and theives. Baltimore police are "looking into the incident", which I imagine will include scrounging some cash from the city coffers to settle the lawsuit that is surely coming, and will hopefully also involve years of desk duty for this woman who clearly has a thing or two to learn about "protect and serve".

    On the bright side, Ms. Preston has the singular distinction of taking home a little bit of Guantanamo and putting it in the middle of a major American city. George Orwell would be so proud.
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    posted by Ataru Atlanta at 5/18/2006 11:57:00 PM 1 comments links to this post

    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    It's gettin hot in here (so hot)
    Today's bloggerSince everybody's still all warm and fuzzy (or cold and bitter, depending) about Al Gore's recent pop-by, I thought we'd spend today's science & technology minute on the obvious subject at hand. So take off all yo' clothes.

    Enter the Wayback Machine: In July of 1992, I caused a major tectonic shift in my family by registering to vote as a Democrat, the first to do so in my extended family in anyone's memory. Even my gay cousin is a registered Republican; go explain that one. For days, if not weeks, my folks tried various sales pitches to bring me back from the Dark Side, and one of those tactics, aimed at my imminent matriculation to an Aerospace Engineering program (a career move I already recognized would bring a cyclical vulnerability to unemployment), was this: "You know [the Democrats] will kill the space program." Right off the bat I had no idea what the hell they were talking about, inasmuch as when you think of landing on the moon, you think of (anyone? anyone?) Kennedy. So I wasn't too worried about Bill Clinton sending me to the poor house.

    Of course, it has taken a Republican administration to really drive research into the ground. Nick Anthis calls our attention to the Democratic efforts to stop GWB's research budget slashes:
    NASA’s FY 2007 budget request makes unacceptable cuts to NASA’s science and aeronautics programs, and it is inconsistent with the stated goals of the Administration’s American Competitiveness Initiative. We believe that if those cuts are not reversed, long-term damage will be done to important national R&D capabilities. Moreover, an exploration initiative that is premised on the curtailment or diminution of other core NASA missions is not likely to prove politically sustainable over the long run.

    Basic science is suffering at the hands of real pie-in-the-sky adventurism, and you care because a lot of what we know about global warming was brought to you by NASA climate researchers -- the ones who weren't silenced by a communications censor whose only qualification (lacking a complete college degree) was working on the president's 2004 campaign.

    Along those same lines, the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) has been given less and less money to do the research we need to prevent a global catastrophe, falling from a $1,975M total effort in 2004 to $1,917M in '05 and finally a $1,891M request in '06. NASA's portion of that budget has received one of the biggest hits, down at least 10% from '04. The White House gives somewhat more confusing (and conflicting) numbers, but still show a drop in the administration's budget request for the combined CCSP and Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) from $4,672M in FY05 to $4,482M for FY06; the FY07 request brings it back up to $4,695M, but that's a drop in constant FY05 dollars. Unsurprisingly, the big "budget uptick" in climate change efforts is a massive 50% increase in energy tax provisions, from a steady $1,084M for 3 years to $1,607M for FY07, because you know we can always count on businesses to do the right thing. And sadly, international efforts get slashed 8% to a paltry $220M next year, even though it is the developing world that could use the most help in setting up more environmentally friendly infrastructure so they don't follow in our carbon footsteps. With the exception of a brief election year spike in FY04, the GOP has consistently waged war on good science in my political lifetime, getting its real surge from Newt Gingrich's Republican Revolution -- and for no good reason other than partisan vendetta.

    My favorite part of the Bush administration's take on climate change policy is its creation of the new emissions metric, the "emissions intensity." Anytime you hear Faux News or the White House itself talking about reducing greenhouse gas emissions 18% by 2012, as promised by the president in 2002, they're lying, and if you're told this by a Republican in person you should sock 'em in the mouth. They always leave out the word "intensity," which is the difference between night and day. You see, emissions intensity equals the absolute quantity of emissions divided by the polluter's economic output, or, for a nation, our GDP, basically. So when the president promises to reduce emissions intensity, he fully intends to keep on polluting; he just plans to grow the GDP faster than the amount of emissions. That's like saying you're going to "cut back on smoking" by in fact smoking the same number of cigarettes per day while running a few extra miles per week and eating more of your vegetables. Say, that sounds like an idea....

    So, yeah. That's really all I have to say about that. My vote in 1992 certainly didn't kill the space program; my parents' votes in 2000 and 2004 may just kill their grandkids.
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    posted by Aerodad at 5/17/2006 10:43:00 AM 4 comments links to this post

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    An Inconvenient Truth
    Today's bloggerSo, I didn’t blog last night because I was watching “An Inconvenient Truth” with Sean. (Sean who? Sean Penn, of course – I always go to the movies with Sean Penn. Who do you go to the movies with?)

    How interesting! My dire predictions of tears and wailing did not come to pass. I did not huddle under my seat in the fetal position. (I did snuggle a little bit with Sean during the part about the polar bears.) Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic way to spend 90 minutes, but Michael Moore was positively, definitely, not in the house. There’s no dramatics, no gimmicks, no histrionics. This is merely Al Gore giving us information on global warming with simplicity, with intelligence, with wit. And, with enormous patience and tenderness. What a patriot!! “An Inconvenient Truth” is graceful and subtle – don’t go expecting a real life Armageddon. We are so accustomed to being scared out of our minds before we are alarmed enough to act, this movie is a refreshing surprise.

    “An Inconvenient Truth” very well may change your life. You may (like I already have) go online and calculate your own share of carbon emissions and make steps to reduce or eliminate them. But it won’t be because you got hit over the head, terrified, or guilted into action. President Gore appeals to our intelligence, our morality, and our love for our country and for all of creation. If this movie changes your life, it will not be because you learned much more than you knew already. Those of you reading this blog already know what you need to know about global warming. No, if this movie changes your life it will be because he made a compelling case to put this issue at the top of your list of many critical issues and finally take actions you already know about, if vaguely. Now you will have a directive from this great patriot and clear marching orders about what to do first. So, you should go see this movie.

    There is also a good chance that this movie will in fact change the way that someone you know thinks about global warming. You might know someone who still believes there is controversy or uncertainty about whether global warming exists or whether we are causing it or whether we can or should do anything about it (there is no controversy nor uncertainty). These are people you should take with you to the movie. You don’t have to take them kicking and screaming. Remember – it’s patient and tender. There may be an a-ha moment – a compact fluorescent light bulb moment – for them. So, take them.

    After the movie, President Gore explained how important opening weekend will be. He asked us all to attend and take five friends. This is an easy way to save the world – please log on to Climate Crisis and pledge to see the movie. He wants a million people to see it opening weekend and right now the counter is in the 60,000 range. Please pledge to see the movie and tell everyone you know. The movie opens in many cities May 24th, but it won’t be in Atlanta until June 9th. Ask your friends in other states to go over the holiday weekend. Make plans to go to Tara here in Atlanta June 9th, 10th, or 11th.

    The website is also the definitive collection of resources to help you educate yourself and become carbon neutral. Start exploring now, but expect to come back after you see the movie and read every page and every link.

    In the end, if this movie is going to change the world (and it must) it will be because we all go to see it and we take people we know. Last night, Al Gore told us about the Chinese symbol for “crisis.” (You may have read this in Vanity Fair already, but bear with me…) The symbol is made from two other symbols side by side: one, the symbol for “danger” and the other the symbol for “opportunity.” President Gore suggests that perhaps this is our opportunity to shine as a generation - as a global generation. This is our moment to rise above our own selfish interests, our own fears, our own greed, our own stubbornness and do something truly great. We must seize this opportunity. The first step is easy. Go see Al’s movie.
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    posted by Emily at 5/16/2006 01:31:00 PM 8 comments links to this post

    A Late Mother's Day Special
    Last Sunday was Mother's Day and it has been a difficult day for me in the last six years because of my Mom passing away. It never really occured to me to celebrate Mother's Day before because I always felt like I showed her that I loved her and appreciated everything that she did for the three of us kids. My mom was a single parent. We lost our father in 1981. Mom never remarried. She did it all by herself on a golf teacher's salary. She provided for the three of us on what basically a seasonal job. From the months of March to October she was out there on the golf course teaching. I remember during those months she was never at home. She got up early and came home late, but amazingly enough she never missed anything that me, my sister or brother participated in. She was always there for the three of us. This past Mother's Day like the last six Mother's Day that I have had without her it has made me very reflective on the way I grew up in a single parent home vs what children today who are growing up in that same single parent home.

    How is it today that single parents aren't making it? It shouldn't be that hard for them should it? Why is it that single parents today are having to work more than one job in order make it? Is it because of Bush's tax cuts for the upper class? Is it because the rise in health care? Is it the rise in gas prices? Why does the Republican Party want to make it so hard for those single families out there? Is it because the Republican Party puts less of a value on those families then those that have two parents? I really just don't get it. How come we couldn't get that working families bill out of committee? Why did Sharon Beasly Teague not even go to that committee meeting to at least hear what working familes have to say? They were only asking for 8 hours out of the year is that so much to ask companies? I would like to point out those 8 hours were optional to those employees that wanted it. I would think this would really benefit those single parents out there that just do not have the time to take off of work to see what their kids are up to in school because they are working mulitple jobs. The Republican Party wants parents to raise their children and not schools or whoever else. Well that's really hard to do I would think if there is not help for them to do just that. My Mom would never wanted a hand out from anybody and I would think the majority of the single parents out there would feel the same way, but shouldn't it be just a little easier for them. Coming from a single parent home myself I would say the answer is yes! We are not asking for the moon here. We are just asking for a little help to make life a little easier.
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    posted by Melissa at 5/16/2006 09:58:00 AM 1 comments links to this post

    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Sheila Jones, standing up for Georgia Democrats
    Today's blogger

    There's been a lot of discussion on Blog for Democracy recently about Representative Sheila Jones in House 44. It seems that challenging the incumbent is becoming a tradition of sorts in House 44, but I can't help but feel Sheila's opponents just haven't paid attention to her record of commitment to the Democratic cause in Georgia.

    To start with, Sheila Jones is and has long been a strong voice for workers in Georgia. She's spent more than 26 years working for Lockheed and been an active member of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers. And as a state rep, she voted against HB 59 that strips Atlanta of the right to promote living wages. Why, then, does Steve Lee feel safe claiming on his website that he will be “the only candidate who will fight to achieve a livable wage in District 44”? I don't know anything about Steve Lee, but I see no reason to impugn Sheila's record on fighting for decent wages in Georgia.

    Sheila has also fought back against the Republican disenfranchisement strategy known affectionately as HB 244. Not only did she vote against the Republican strategic agenda, she went on the offensive after the bill passed, speaking to the Young Democrats among many groups about what the bill's effects would be and how to combat them. Sheila went to bat for us in a big way when the chips were down on voter ID – why on earth should we want to replace her?

    Not least of the reasons I have no interest in Sheila's opponents is their conspicuous absence at recent Cobb and Fulton party events. Sheila was a very welcome presence at the Cobb J&J dinner two weekends ago, and she worked hard to be at both the CCDC and FCDP breakfast/brunch events yesterday. Her opponents have thus far been nowhere to be found, at least not where I've been able to see them. I hate to break it to you, Steve and Ashley Harris, but you've got to show you care about us, the loyal hardworking Democrats, before we'll think about caring about you. We're your volunteers, your contributors, and your primary voters. Snub us at your peril.

    The bottom line is that Steve and Ashley have mighty thin resumes compared to Sheila when it comes to fighting for us regular folks, which is part of the reason Sheila was presented with the Joe Mack Wilson People's Champion Award at the Cobb J&J dinner. Sheila's fought for her people in House 44 and all of us in Georgia – why would we want to reward such hard work with a pink slip?
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    posted by Ataru Atlanta at 5/14/2006 10:21:00 PM 9 comments links to this post

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Google ads suck
    Is it me, or are the "Ads By Goooooogle" in the corner of LeftyBlog hilariously pathetic? I mean, the ad that was just there was for GOP.com. C'mon Google, show some ability to intelligently choose the ads we see! Next thing you know we'll be asked to donate to "Tricky" Rick Santorum's campaign.
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    posted by Ataru Atlanta at 5/12/2006 06:08:00 PM 3 comments links to this post

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    KIDS
    Does everyone know what day it is? You guessed it its Tuesday and do you know what means? It means it must be your weekly dose of guilt from yours truly. What I have in store for my blog this week though is something a little different I think? Instead of doing a traditional blog, I'm going to tell of incident that happened yesterday to one of my best friends Nikema.

    For those of you who do not know Nikema is a teacher and special needs teacher at that. She teaches fifth graders at Dunwoody Charter School. Anyway, she is also teaches an after school program and the after school programs that she works for she teaches second graders. I'm not sure how they got on the subject of TJ's campaign, but they did and her kids wanted to make TJ a book to help him keep up his campaign spirit. Its the one little girl's picture that was the most moving to me. Now keep in mind that this child seven years old. Her drawing for TJ was an American Flag, but the stripes on the Flag were all different colors instead of the standard red and white. Nikema asked her why her stripes were all different colors and Ashley the little girl all but seven said was when TJ is the President he should make a new Flag with the different colors so that everyone can fit under the American Flag so no one will feel left out. Isn't interesting that this little girl Ashley all but seven gets it? If she can get it why can't the Republicans get it? We are all under one big tent and each of us under that tent have a place. That is what someone else told me on Sunday. We are one big tent and everyone can fit under it.

    Lookie there I can write a blog without guilt tripping anyone! Good for me!

    Melissa
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    posted by Melissa at 5/09/2006 02:01:00 PM 3 comments links to this post

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    You can't make this up
    Today's bloggerIs everyone hearing this? None of the Sunday shows covered this at all (in fact - sidebar - what the heck was a W impersonator doing as one of the major guests on Meet the Press? Is anyone paying attention?) but all of "our" media (Air America and the blogs) is covering this Porter Goss thing like white on rice.

    No one is buying the official story that Negroponte just wanted to "shake things up." So what are they trying tho hide?

    Start pulling the thread and this is some crazy crazy shit. Here are the ingredients: The Director of the CIA. Drunken poker parties. Hookers. A sidekick named "Dusty Foggo." Another sidekick named "Nine Fingers." (no kidding!!) A limo company whose CEO has a 62 page rap sheet. Said limo company served the whoring poker players and also happens to be a contractor with the Department of Homeland Security to the tune of $21 million. (Really? Really.) And all at the Watergate Hotel? Seriously - if they made the movie, no one would believe it as FICTION.

    Allright - never mind that we are talking about potentially serious consequences to national security. Other than that terrifying prospect, this is good fun. It is so gratifying to watch these sanctimonious jerks self-destruct, but - BUT - can we capitalize on it in November? What do we need to do to turn this to our advantage? Is this so crazy that it won't even register with voters?

    Meanwhile...tune in tomorrow folks... this is getting really good.
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    posted by Emily at 5/08/2006 12:53:00 PM 0 comments links to this post

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    Ring ring! It's Sonny PerDidn't!
    Today's blogger

    Thursday's Political Insider reported that Sonny Perdue has crafted his very own campaign ringtone. Apparently Uncle Sonny has decided to accentuate his lousy record with outright annoying the living heck out of his potential voters.

    "Sonny did!", the ringtone proclaims. Yes, he's done a "heckuva job" for Georgia, dazzling us with his Michael Brown-esque fumbling and his own unique brand of fashion statements ("I'm an idiot!"). He's turned the Gold Dome into another episode of the Keystone Kops, frantically dashing here and there trying vainly to convince Georgia that really, truly, he does care about the HOPE scholarship, even though Smiling Sonny voted against the program in 1993 and was the architect of numerous cuts and attempted cuts to the program as governor. Sonny did, all right.

    We all know about another thing Sonny did - he said no to the PeachCare our children deserve, and he said no to the health care the rest of us deserve. Georgia's health care system cries out for firm, compassionate action, but Sonny was too busy protecting HMO's from lawsuits and disenfranchising our elderly voters to notice.

    Remember what happened to the last guy who did a "heckuva job"? He was unceremoniously whacked. Let's whack Sonny and elect a governor who will do things we can be proud of.
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    posted by Ataru Atlanta at 5/06/2006 11:01:00 AM 0 comments links to this post

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Hank for Congress? Maybe not yet.
    So I was at the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper River Revival tonight - a fine event, if you missed it - and I saw something that disturbed me. That something was a Ford Excursion wearing a Hank Johnson logo (on the door) parked in the lot. Let me repeat that: An Excursion, destroyer of worlds, parked at one of the year's larger gatherings of environmental activists, sporting the logo of someone who claims to support "clean air, clean water, and green space protection". This is a congressional campaign, not the irony olympics, all right? Morton Brilliant has already won that gold medal anyway.

    I'll say this plainly: Hank, you're a Democrat. You support (?) environmental causes. Why did you think having a genuine AEV (Anti Evnironment Vehicle) would be the right way to sell your campaign?

    I've said it before: I'm glad I don't live in the 4th district. Hank, why don't you just lose the Excursion and quit forking American dollars into foreign oil?

    P.S. Both Hank and Cynthia's websites leave a bit to be desired...
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    posted by Ataru Atlanta at 5/03/2006 11:24:00 PM 4 comments links to this post

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    In the Trenches
    On early Saturday morning as I'm driving back to Atlanta from a week long all girls beach trip to Tybee Island I was thinking to myself I hope we have a big crowd for this Inman Park thing because if I can make it from all the way to Tybee Island surely others can make it there as well. I get there after picking Will up from his corner we make way over to Inman Park to meet up with the rest our group. Will and I get there and I'm slightly disappointed that there aren't the 30 or so people that I was hoping for, but oh well we were small group with a lot of energy and spirit for this event, but I can't help but to think where is the rest of us that should be here. Sunday afternoon rolls around I get in my car pick up Will again from his corner and we go down to the South Fulton County library to meet up with TJ Copeland and his Campaign manager Nikema Williams to do some phoning banking and it ends up being the four of us trying to reach everyone in District 65 to tell them about him and his Kick Off Picnic on May 13th at 2:30 pm at Welcome All Park and as I'm sitting there listening to what seems to be the hundredth answering machine I'm thinking to myself where is everyone? Why is there only four of us? Its not like his banner isn't on the front page of our web site for nothing. Its a big banner to let every Young Democrat know that TJ needs our help to win his Primary. Last night I was Cox's Campaign educators phone banking for her and I'm thinking to myself where is everyone else? Why aren't there more of us here helping out? This is a sprint for her as well. Of coarse the same could be said for the Taylor Campaign as well I'm sure.

    I know we are all very busy people with our own lives to lead, but if we are going to win this November we have to busy and win in July in some cases. We have roll up our sleeves and dig down in the trenches of some these campaigns that really need us and help get the job done for them. Now, I get that some of us work all day because I'm one of those people. I understand some of have school and have to study finish up dissertation and stuff. I get all of that I really do. I'm just thinking now is the time to get down to work. The heat is on and we need to prove that we rise to the challenge of it. What good does it really do us if all we have are meetings about the action that needs to be taken, but no one really does the action that has been discussed. Then the meeting was a waste of everyone's time. We need to get down in the trenches where the fight is taking place and win. I have found out that winning Campaigns is not pretty work. There are times when I want to throw in the towel and walk away, but its that feeling that if I can just knock one more door or make one more phone that might make a difference for the candidate that I'm working so hard for. This is why I join the Young Democrats of Atlanta to make a difference so that I no longer have that feeling of I should I have done something more than I did which was nothing.

    Melissa
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    posted by Melissa at 5/02/2006 11:43:00 AM 9 comments links to this post

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Muchos Huevos Grandes
    Today's bloggerHOLY M O G. Oh no he didn't!!!

    Have you guys seen this? Don't sit around reading my blog - go watch the video of Stephen Colbert addressing the White House Correspondents Dinner. Words cannot do this justice. WATCH WATCH WATCH. If the page won't load, keep trying.

    Comment with your favorite line. Mine's the glacier.

    Seriously, people, we might just be OK after all.

    Thank you, Stephen Colbert.
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    posted by Emily at 5/01/2006 09:15:00 AM 2 comments links to this post

     

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