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Toward a Candidate Consensus on Climate

All the candidates (even the Republicans) should support a basic consensus on climate policy.

The climate is a foundational issue. Beto O’Rourke deserves praise for putting a policy out there. Jay Inslee deserves credit for making it the central issue of his campaign.

The basic problem isn’t hard to understand. We burn carbon fuels, and that releases CO₂. The carbon accumulates in the atmosphere, warming the planet. It accumulates in the oceans, making them more acidic. We have to burn less carbon.

Given we still want to have stuff from far away, and that transportation is one of the largest sources of pollution, transportation is a big target to change. Electrification of transport, coupled with renewable generation of electricity, is the logical step toward carbon neutrality.

But we also know that humans are stubborn, particularly wealthy humans that make a lot of money selling carbon. Economists recognized that getting them to go along is difficult because they can simply lie about the science, buy politicians (or even the whole Republican Party), and stall any real change. So, economists propose a variety of pricing systems, whereby carbon emissions are priced.

Think of it like a gold rush. Someone shouts, “There’s gold in them-thar hills,” everyone goes for it. Already there’s some gold in decarbonizing, but there’s less than there would be if the actual costs of carbon were recognized as part of the economy. By adopting some form of carbon pricing, the greed of man is leveraged to turn gas guzzlers into sippers or even into electrics or hydrogen fuelcells.

Think of it like a tower-building contest. Right now, the contestants are paid per foot, so if you have a tower that’s barely over one foot-mark, it would take more effort to get to the next one. By pricing carbon, it’s like changing it to being paid by the inch. If you can add six inches, it doesn’t make another foot, but it’s still worth it. And you add up all the six-inch additions that all the tower-builders can add, and it’s a lot more than if just a few of them could add a whole foot.

But the main thing is focus. We need leaders, both in the White House and in the congress, who will speak often about the need to address the issue. It’s time for legislation. It’s time to reject anyone who calls it a Chinese hoax.

The consensus is to make carbon more expensive, and in doing so to make alternatives, including reductions in use, clean energy, and carbon sequestration more attractive.

Everybody 2020, part 5

A look at the 2016 Democratic presidential candidates, following the first four parts that covered the Republicans.

With the Republicans out of the way, it’s time to tackle the Democrats.

Joseph Biden

The current Vice President of the United States, current President of the Senate of the United States, etc. He hasn’t announced, but I’m listing him here, just because. Will he run? He’s already outpolling three of the five who are, so it might be worth a shot.

Lincoln Chafee

Former Governor of the State Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, former US Senator of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Chafee only became a Democrat in 2013, following a time as an Independent, which was preceded by his time as a Republican. In other words, Chafee is a political insect, a holometabolite that began as a pupa and, following cocoonment as an Independent, has emerged a Democrat, eager to flutter around and help pollinate flowering plants, stuff like that. So far, Chafee has not gained much traction in the polls, but maybe he’s counting on the so-called butterfly effect to help create a political tsunami to his advantage. He surely needs it if he’s going to become the nominee.

Hillary Clinton

Miss Teen USA 2007 from Colorado… whoops, clicked the wrong name in Wikipedia: “Hillary (name)”. Awkward.

Ahem. A former Secretary of State, Senator from New York, First Lady of the United States, Clinton is one of the best-known political figures of our modern age, only slightly less-so than Elsa the ice princess or whatever that movie Frozen was about (I haven’t seen it, so no spoilers!). She previously ran for the nomination in 2008, only to be bested by the Current, Two-time, Heavyweight President of the World: Barack Obama! She was the presumptive nominee in 2008, but you know what they say: when you presume, you make a pre-school out of you and me! Ahem. Also, she was First Lady of Arkansas. And she was a visionary, trying to work out health care reform back in 1993, before anyone cared. The nomination is once again Clinton’s to lose, but it’s still early. So far, she appears to only have one major challenger, so there’s that.

Martin O’Malley

Former Governor of Maryland, former Mayor of Baltimore, O’Malley’s rapsheet reads about like a Democrats would. Helped same-sex marriage happen in Maryland in 2012, despite his Catholicism. Opposed capital punishment, repealing it in Maryland in 2013. Pushed and passed gun control. His positions and aspirations don’t surprise, either. But with names like Clinton… With a name like Clinton in the race, it’s not clear if an O’Malley can differentiate himself, can grab the public attention enough to make much hay of himself. Even if he can, it’s a steep hill to climb.

Bernie Sanders

Current US Senator from Vermont, past Congressman from the same, past Mayor of Burlington, VT, Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, currently holds the second spot in polls behind Clinton. And that’s all him, far as I can tell. It’s him getting his foot in the door. At 75, he’s got a lot of fight in him, and there’s no sign of him relenting. If Clinton has anything to fear so far from this campaign, it’s not her own e-mail. It’s Bernie Sanders. He still has a lot of ground to cover to catch up to Clinton, but if it’s her race to lose, it’s his to win.

Jim Webb

Former Senator from Virginia, former Secretary of the Navy, long-serving Marine, the media considered Webb a possibility for the second seat to Obama in 2008. That didn’t happen, but he’s finally running for president. Webb is something of a moderate, but like Chafee and O’Malley he’s got to prove himself if he’s going to gain much ground. With Clinton the de facto frontrunner, and Sanders positioning himself as the feisty underdog, Webb has a lot of branding to do if he’s going to have a cliche to call his own.

There it is. That’s all the major candidates from the major parties. But that’s not all of the candidates, by any means. Did you know there are something like 200 other, minor Republican and Democratic candidates? And then you get into the minor parties like the Green Party and Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party… A plethora of independent candidates. Some of them even have websites.

But I won’t be writing about all of them. At least not in the 2016 cycle, maybe in 2020…

Everybody 2020, part 4

The last of the Republican candidates… unless a few more decide to join the race.

Marco Rubio

The junior senator from Florida, Rubio is 44, making him the youngest office-seeker of the bunch except for Bobby Jindal (Rubio is 13 days older). But he is younger than Jeb Bush (62), making him the youngest candidate from Florida. Rubio is part of the 2016 wave seeking to latch onto the Hispanic vote, along with Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump. But will his youth hurt him in the party that elected Ronald Reagan in his late 60s? It’s too soon to say. Will he bifurcate Florida with Bush? Plausibly. Will he win the nomination?
That question may just come down to whether he breaks out his affection for rap music and drops some beats on the electorate.

Rick Santorum

This guy is running again. Err, he’s a former senator from Pennsylvania, returning for his second attempt at the nomination. He’s from the Jesus wing of the party, but his 2012 results put him as the runner-up to the nomination. But Santorum is no understudy. He’s putting a fresh spin on his 2016 run, breaking out of the sure-thing mold and running a feisty underdog campaign. If Santorum can outlast his opponents, as they implode like the sulfur and fire raining down from the heavens to destroy whatever biblical city God was pissed at for not wearing enough dead animal skins, or whatever, he might just be the last Republican standing.

Donald Trump

A business tycoon from New York City, weighing in at 210 pounds (estimated; Wikipedia didn’t bring the goods for this one), Trump has never run for office before. But don’t let his inexperience fool you. He’s well-versed in sloganese, choosing for his campaign the cry: “Make America Great Again!” Since then, Trump has been running his mouth in an attempt to tarnish the national reputation enough for the slogan to make sense. But, strategy aside, let’s not fool ourselves here, Donnie. Arguably the richest candidate in the race, can your money alone deliver you the nomination? That’s a question for the historians, of course. Donald Trump has never come in second place in his life, and he’s not going to give up this fight easily. He may have the asshole vote sewn up, which is a big deal for 2016. If he can hang on long enough for the other candidates to realize they actually have to compete with his chutzpah, they may drop off like so many Wile E. Coyotes realizing gravity still obtains.

Scott Walker

Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, is placing himself to be the Goldylocks candidate for 2016. Not too old, not too sane, not too compassionate, Walker has gained national renowned for stomping on the ants nest of public unions in Wisconsin, winning a recall election in 2012 and reelection in 2014. The question Walker must be asking himself as he looks to the nomination for 2016, is whether he can replicate that same heady mix of budgetary voodoo and scapegoating that got him this far. If he can, he might just be able to convince the primary voters that the rest of the candidates are public workers and they must go.

John Kasich

Okay, Kasich. Governor from Ohio, former representative for Ohio’s 12th District (outskirts of Columbus, Ohio), Kasich is a late comer to the roster of candidates. I mean, he really just barely made it. I think he’s still hoping someone else will throw their hat in, just so he doesn’t seem as late. He might even risk a snide remark about someone else being late, if that happened. Reports that he felt he was being “fashionably late” have not calmed the waters, and the ongoing scandal over a candidate having the audacity to announce for president as late as one and a half years before the election continues unabated. A former innocent bystander for Lehman Brothers that witnessed first-hand the collapse of the global economy in 2008, Kasich has moved easily between public and private sectors in the past, and may only be running for president to throw the dogs off his scent as he plans another daring switcheroo to the private sector. But assuming he’s serious, will Kasich get the nod? Dunno, but if he does, maybe he will have the grace to not wait months to accept the nomination.

Sixteen. That’s how many of these rascals there are. At an average war chest of something like $20 million (combined) for each candidate, and this is just so far, that’s already around a third of a billion dollars. And this is just the Republicans.