Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Good news for gays and their allies: Obama is officially supporting the "Respect for Marriage Act" that bitch-slaps the "Defense of Marriage Act," which in reality wasn't defending a damn thing. One, I love that they're using the word "respect" in the title. The bill's short and sweet objective is "to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State regulation of marriage." Fancy that. Democrats trying to give power to the States! ROMA respects the rights of consenting adults to decide with whom they will share their lives and marriage benefits. ROMA respects States' rights. There is much to like about this situation. I think that so many of the supporters of DOMA are looking at the situation illogically and think that they need to deny gays the right to marry in order to protect their own marriage or family. Or perhaps it is a religious issue, but I also find that silly because ROMA obviously does not compel churches to perform gay marriages. I'm so glad I was born liberal.

So...what are they really trying to accomplish? The Institute of Medicine is recommending that among other preventative health services, birth control should be mandatory on all health insurance plans. Without a co-pay. Which would increase access and therefore decrease unwanted pregnancies or unplanned pregnancies in which the mother was less than conscientious in her prenatal planning (i.e. boozing while the fetus was developing). Of course, someone has a problem with this. Jeanne Monahan, director of the Center for Human Dignity (seriously?) at the conservative Family Research Council lists two reasons to be against this: one, that requiring insurers to cover contraceptives violates the rights of people who don't believe in artificial contraception. Since insurance pools money as well as risk for all the policy holders, everyone would be paying for the "free" birth control, whether they believe in it or not. Two, abortion opponents argue that some emergency contraceptives (morning-after pills) can cause "very early abortions" by preventing the implantation of fertilized eggs into a woman's uterus. So these people would rather not increase access to birth control, which would prevent abortions, because the morning-after pill is kind of like an abortion? Because in some cases a sperm and an egg joined together but then had no where to go? Great plan. Something about this leads me to believe that the Family Research Council (another completely lame name for an organization) is not completely focused on reducing the number of actual abortions performed. I don't know what they are focused on, but it doesn't appear that the FRC is concerned with that.

Last night at the Denver Young Democrats Inauguration After Party I was chatting with some of the attendees when I mentioned that I live in the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver. Immediately several people jokingly called me out on living in a fancy neighborhood and implied my Democrat card might get taken away. I love this mentality. Being a Democrat means appreciating what you've been given and also what you've been able to earn for yourself in this country. It means go ahead and live in a fancy house or drive a fancy car - just remember you have nice things because you live in the United States of America. Sure, I got decent grades and I earn my salary by working hard. But I am in my current situation because of my public school education and my federal college loans, to name just two big things that immediately come to mind. The government is so far from perfection, but if you think you got to where you are without the help of the government, you are not looking hard enough. (Note: I live in Cherry Creek because I work in Cherry Creek, and my dog demands that I come home for lunch every day. Had to shorten the commute. Democrat guilt compelled me to write this note.)

A few years ago, to widen my perspective I subscribed to the Republican National Committee email list. I started getting sassy with them immediately. They really irked me because one of the first emails I received was addressed "Dear Fellow Patriot." OMG. I started replying to the emails with full educated Democrat sass. And it occurred to me recently that I had not received an email from Reince lately...I got kicked off the list!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Inauguration Day!

Today it is great to be a Denvercrat. We are inaugurating our new Democrat Mayor, Michael Hancock, who is replacing our former Democrat Mayor John Hickenlooper, who recently became the new Democrat Governor of Colorado. I guess I've been too hard on Colorado. There are many conservatives here, but I should really stop trying to throw a pity party for us liberals. We are fairly well represented.  

I voted in the election and the subsequent runoff for Democrat Chris Romer, but honestly if you count the number of times I've already used the word "Democrat" in this post, how could I be anything but excited for our current situation?

Today's Events:
11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Municipal Swearing In Ceremony at Buell Theatre
6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Mayor's Community Concert at the Denver Botanic Gardens
9:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. DYD Inauguration After Party at 3014

I'll be at the concert and after party. Let's take a moment to enjoy this time...before we have to start hitting the pavement for 2012.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dig in

Climate change is a complicated issue, primarily because of the enormous amount of scientific fact collecting and analysis from every corner of the globe. Add in politics and hidden agendas, and we have a serious mess.

The fact that we originally labeled this problem "global warming" was a huge marketing mistake. Yes, the average global temperature is increasing, but this gives deniers the opportunity to artificially dispute "global warming" every time we experience cold temperatures and a Snowmageddon. If they were actually familiar with the predictions associated with climate change, they would realize that such Snowmageddon was actually probably evidence for climate change. (Though please do me a favor and NEVER use one Snowmageddon, one data point, as proof of anything. You don't want to shame your science teachers and statistics professors.)

Recently NPR posted "Global Warming: A Guide for the Perplexed" as a "simple" explanation of the facts. Honestly, I don't find this to be a very simple guide at all, but perhaps this is as basic as it gets while staying true to the subject matter.

It's no wonder then why so many people, educated or not, shy away from this. It is complicated. It is outside of their realm of knowledge. And worst of all, the solution to such a problem is so enormous that to many the best solution is...denial. In Rolling Stone issue 1134/1135, Al Gore put it best:

"Since this new reality is painful to contemplate, and requires big changes in policy and behavior that are at the outer limit of our ability, it is all too easy to fall into the psychological state of denial. As with financial issues like subprime mortgages and credit default swaps, the climate crisis can seem too complex to worry about, especially when the shills for the polluters constantly claim it's all a hoax anyway. And since the early impacts of climatic disruption are distributed globally, they masquerade as an abstraction that is safe to ignore."

As liberals, we get the satisfaction of digging in deeper, taking in all the information (except perhaps Fox News programming) in an attempt to understand the issue. It is OK to not understand every detail of climate change. It is not OK to deny that climate change is happening simply because it is complicated.

The extra challenge we face is spreading the message. I am as guilty as anyone in shying away from this conversation when I am in mixed political company. The whole point of the Rolling Stone article mentioned above is that while Republicans may be spreading untruths, many Democrats are acting as accomplices by not defending the science behind climate change. So, we're letting people who are partially funded by the "polluters" stomp all over scientific evidence (and our environment, and new technology, and small businesses promoting this new technology...)? What is wrong with us?

From the same Rolling Stone article "Climate of Denial," a quote from Yeats: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."  Let's all dig in a little more.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Life. I mean, "THINGS THAT LIVE."

I'm really riled up today. I'm in a very good mood, but ready for action. This morning I took the LEED AP: Building Design and Construction exam and passed. I've been studying for over a month, which meant I was reading leisurely for four weeks and then cramming and completely freaking out for the past few days.

So I'm reading and cramming and learning all these quantifiable things that have been proven to reduce buildings' impact on the environment, our resources and human health. And it burns me up that people want to trash this, to say climate change and our collective negative impact on the world is fabricated. Fabricated by...I don't know who, thousands of the world's leading (yet obviously evil) scientists? Al Gore? Oprah?

Did you know that buildings in the United States accounted for 8% of global primary energy consumption, per the 2008 data? We as a country gorge ourselves on energy:

"More energy was consumed in the United States than in any other country in 2008...approximately 20% of total global demand." - Buildings Energy Data Book, U.S. Department of Energy. In the words of Joe Biden, "this is a big !@#$%& deal."

Energy is expensive, especially when so much of our traditional source has a finite limit and has to be dug up in the deserts of the Middle East and peddled by OPEC. We get approximately 45 percent of our oil from the Middle East and North Africa, which together hold over two thirds of the oil reserves worldwide and make up a politically volatile region. Well, $#!@. Even Canada (17%) and Mexico (15%) have us over a barrel. 

Logically, shouldn't we search for alternatives to this predicament? There are a couple of main routes. We can "drill, baby, drill," right here in the United States, and stock up on a few barrels while the getting is good. In the process, we might spill oil in the Gulf of Mexico, ruin a national park, and in the case of coal we can just blow the tops off of mountains and let the ash settle in the air and water sources for millions of Americans  (the Americans who dig up that coal for us, coincidentally) and deforms their babies. Or we can explore low-impact, renewable sources that are declining in cost and increasing in efficiency and availability each day. Geothermal heating, wind energy, wave/tidal power, biofuel-based electrical, hydro electric and photovoltaic systems are all being used right now.

We let BP, Don Blankenship, ExxonMobil and their peers off the hook for serious environmental and public health offenses. We hand them subsidies, even though economic rules dictate that government subsidies should show a clear benefit to the public that pays for them. If oil was our only source of energy, subsidies would make sense. But oil is not by any means our only source of energy! And the oil companies post huge profits. Why are taxpayers donating money to an industry that already charges us an arm and a few legs?

Being "business-friendly," the Republicans don't want to hurt the economy by hurting Big Oil. They want to prop them up, old dead trees in a forest blocking tons of new undergrowth waiting to spring up. Big Oil sells oil. But more fundamentally, they sell energy. Why don't we demand that these companies evolve with the market and become energy companies? Why, as a Democrat, do I get called a "communist" when I am saying let the old dinosaur industries die out and allow new sustainable businesses to thrive? That is capitalism, and that is the America I know and love.

And the Republicans want to discredit and make fun of Al Gore? For pointing out that nine of the hottest years ever occurred in the last 13 years? The past decade was the hottest on record, despite experiencing a "solar minimum" for half of the decade. This is actual data. But according to Fox News, it's not concrete evidence.

How did the environment and our public health become political?

There will be many, many more posts on the environment and climate change. Now, go hug a tree.


"You know who's never touched a vegetable in his entire life? Dick Cheney. There's no way!" - Bret Saunders, 'BCO Morning Show