This just in! Polar bears threatened

•November 27, 2007 • Leave a Comment

This hasn’t hit the news yet but you heard it here first: the US Fish and Wildlife Service has officially decided to list the polar bear as a threatened, but not endangered, species under the Endangered Species Act.

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Leg updates: Energy Bill and Climate Change bills

•November 1, 2007 • Leave a Comment

The energy bill is still held up in closed negotiations within the Democratic leadership, the auto industry is still hoping to gut the increased fuel economy standards, and Senator Domenici’s overwhelming love for nuclear power transcends all political divides, reason, space, and time.

Dems drafting energy bill in secret, too [Politico]

Joe Lieberman’s crappy version of a climate change bill has made it out of his subcommittee, over the objections of Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders and two Republicans (for very different reasons, of course).

Global warming bill advances in Senate [Yahoo News]

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: What’s Next? [Gristmill] 

I’d much prefer to see Democrats and the environmental community wait until 2009 and pass a much stronger climate change bill, than wheel and deal their way to a much weaker one in the current Congress.

Why Mike Huckabee scares me; Why I’d like to go get a beer with Mike Huckabee

•November 1, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Of the Republican Presidential hopefuls with any reasonable chance of the nomination (Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, McCain, Huckabee, and what the hell let’s say Ron Paul too), the one I think would be hardest for any Democratic nominee to beat is Mike Huckabee. Yes, the other man from Hope, Governor of Arkansas, Baptist minister, and former fat man.

Why is this? Primarily, it’s because he is just a likable guy. Down-home Southern likability was a big part of how the media played up Bush in 2000. Huckabee tells jokes, he plays bass, and he even played ping-pong with the folks at NPR! He also refuses to engage in fear-mongering on foreign policy or play the 9/11 card ad nauseum. He may not believe in evolution, and may be an extreme social conservative, but he’s an economic populist much in the same way as John Edwards. He might lose the vote of the most libertarian or free-market Republicans who call him a “nanny-stater” (he advocates a nationwide smoking ban, and talks up the obesity epidemic often), but he would keep the Christian evangelical vote to a far, far greater degree than any other Republican front runner.

So basically, Huckabee keeps the entire social conservative/values voter base, steals the Democrat’s thunder on economic populism, and wins over any independents or undecideds who pay more attention to personality than anything else. He is by far the hardest opponent for the Democratic attack. It’s just hard to get someone to dislike Mike Huckabee! I disagree with him on almost everything and yet I’d still like to go get a beer with him! Too bad he doesn’t drink.

Second toughest opponent would be Romney, because he would keep at least some of the Christian evangelical vote on board, firmly keep the free-market wing of his party, probably win over the more business-minded of the independents and maybe even the Democrats, and have the press go all ga-ga over his dashing good looks and creepy tan.

This, of course, is all in contrast to Rudy Giuliani, who would lose almost all of the Christian evangelical and values vote, possibly to a third party candidate, doesn’t seem even remotely likable to anyone, and basically scares the shit out of everybody to the left of Condoleezza Rice.

Code Pink plants fake Blackwater press release, dupes Politico!

•October 30, 2007 • Leave a Comment

The anti-war group Code Pink put out a press release in Blackwater’s name, saying they were creating a new “Department of Corporate Integrity” in an attempt to “put the mercy back in mercenary.” Hilarious! Political news site Politico fell for it, running a story ripped right out of the release, as most news is these days. When asked, a Blackwater spokesperson said “We do some silly things, but we didn’t do that.”

Yes, silly silly things like, you know, shooting children for fun!

 Politico Falls for Hoax Blackwater Press Release [Wonkette]

Scare Bears: The Rising Tide of Human-Bear Violence

•October 17, 2007 • Leave a Comment

While shark attacks get nationwide, or even worldwide news coverage, our ursine friends are marginalized by what I like to call the “soft bear-gotry of low expectations.” It’s time for that to change.

Just in the past week:

  • Wisconsin bow-hunter suffers treetop mauling

    Schultz says he met the bears while bow hunting a few miles outside Tony, Wisconsin. He says he began hearing noises, then saw four bears under his tree stand. One of them, a cub, began to climb up towards him and the mother followed.

    “That’s when I started getting nervous. She got about to where my feet were and after that it was all big commotion I’m not sure exactly what happened in what order but I tried to fight her off with my bow and I tried to kick her, then she really started grabbing me, trying to pull me out of tree stand.”

    Schultz says his stand safety belt kept him from falling 14 feet to the ground. But it didn’t help him stop the clawing, biting bears.

    “I’ve got puncture wounds in my leg, but my arm right here is the worst. There’s a big kind of a hole and I can feel all the stuff inside, but wasn’t even able to see it back then.”

  • Grizzly mauls Montana bird hunter
  • Boy scout escapes bear attack by playing dead

    The commission has been trapping and relocating bears out of the park when possible, but the bear population in Pennsylvania has been on the rise. It is estimated to be about 15,000, the highest in 150 years.

    A black bear has never killed anyone in Pennsylvania.

  • Hunter killed in bear attack on Swedish-Norwegian border, other hunters exact revenge
  • Bear attacks 71-year old man in his own garage

    “The bear slashed through the back of his jacket,” she said, noting that it was a particularly heavy jacket that likely prevented the bear’s claws from doing greater damage. The bear latched its jaws on Clark’s arm at one point, and “he actually punched the bear.”

And bears aren’t always the instigators: Three Marsican bears, a subspecies with only 30-50 remaining in the world, were poisoned and found dead in the mountains of central Italy.

“One death could have been by natural causes, but with three dead bears in the same area at roughly the same time it’s clear that there has been foul play,” forestry official Luciano Sammarone said.

You may have read about our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, but in addition to gross neglect and the grim prospect of terrorism, bridges also now have BEARS to contend with. Is This Bear a Terrorist?

bridge bear

All attempts at humor aside, such interspecies violence is what happens when we encroach too far into vulnerable habitats in our demand for more housing, food, resources, or recreation. It’s not just bears. Human-elephant conflict in Africa is actually a very serious topic of academic research.

Finally, even when bears prove fertile subjects for interstate cooperation, the law of unintended consequences can still reign. A U.S.-Russia conservation agreement on polar bears whose ranges are shared between the two countries (“shared bears”), may actually force Russia to reintroduce hunting of the bears. Polar bears, of course, rightfully receive much more press than their sub-polar brethren (bear-thren?), both for their pending endangered status and association with global warming.

Indeed, if melting Arctic Sea ice drives the polar bear to extinction, do we not all deserve maulings for our inaction?

Liveblogging the Matt Lauer Larry Craig interview!!!

•October 16, 2007 • 1 Comment

This may not go so well…

8:00 IT BEGINS!!! “It’s all on the line- his career, his HONOR”

8:01 Lauer: “You walked into that bathroom, Senator. Six minutes later you were under arrest.”

8:02 Craig: I became the hurricane that everyone wanted to talk about.

8:05 whoa Larry looked even OLDER in 1982 than today. timewarp? stealing the vitality of young children?

Mrs. Craig is grimacing already. Her name is Susanne?

8:06 Susanne says marrying someone to cover up their repressed sexuality is like “selling your soul”

8:08 oh sweet later on Matt’s going to re-enact the foottapping sequence of events!

8:09: PHEW commercial break. liveblogging is hard!

Continue reading ‘Liveblogging the Matt Lauer Larry Craig interview!!!’

Energy Bill updates

•October 15, 2007 • Leave a Comment

from the Gristmill blog, and from CQ.com

The Senate passed their version of the 2007 energy bill in June, the House passed theirs at the beginning of August, and since then…? Nothing. Still no conference, to reconciliation of the two or any movement forward of any kind. Pelosi and Reid put energy on the back burner first for the Iraq funding fights, then for SCHIP, and seemingly anything else that came along. Now the most important provisions – increased fuel economy requirements (along with closing the loophole for SUVs), a nationwide renewable electricity standard, and reallocating millions in oil company subsidies to be incentives for renewable energy – may well be left out of the final bill to avoid pissing off Blue Dog Democrats and the auto industry. And Bush may veto it anyway.

It seems like the biggest fight is over increasing CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards, which could very well mean the renewable electricity standard has been abandoned altogether as too politically infeasible. Many southern Democrats are against it because they say solar and wind power are not feasible for their states.