Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'm Just Glad the Ringleader was Caught & Charged

From over at Backfence ...

Two rare Royal Paulownia Trees chopped down in Potomac Overlook Park

The two Royal Paulownia trees, also known as Princess trees or Empress trees, are rare. A single tree’s lumber can bring up to $30,000.

Arlington County Police say that a Northern Virginia Park Authority official discovered the men cutting down the trees.
Police arrested three men including Woodrow Fincham, Jr. of Boston, VA. Fincham has been charged with felony destruction of property. The other two men had been hired for the day by Fincham and were not charged.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Climate Change Goes to the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court takes up a major global warming case today, as the Bush administration makes a bizarre argument. Despite its reliance on the unitary executive theory, that Congress and the Supreme Court cannot restrict the unlimited power of the presidency, from torturing terror suspects to ignoring the intent of law through signing statements, the White House is arguing it is powerless to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

I'll leave some of the heavy lifting to links from Mother Jones ...

* Koshlan Mayer-Blackwell takes an in-depth look at the legal and policy issues at stake.

* According to the Washington Post, even energy executives have stopped fighting the scientific consensus on climate change.

* Clara Jeffrey says the Bush administration's position on climate change is much like its position on Iraq -- spin and denial over substance and reality.

* The San Francisco Chronicle strangely offers up the climate change argument for dummies, treating it like readers may not have heard of global warming before.

Generally speaking, I wouldn't expect to hear the Supreme Court's decision on the case for several months -- maybe not until this session adjourns, which I think is in June.

Side note -- the Supreme Court's inscription is probably my favorite on any building in DC, "Equal justice under law." Here's a closer picture. I feel like it's not coincidental that it faces some other key buildings in DC, as though it's a reminder just in case the knuckleheads across the street or the decider down the block get any bright ideas about screwing stuff up.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Green Buildings, A Slam from John McCain, and An Eco-Thug

* Extraordinary news from DC, where city officials are moving towards requiring green building practices. The city has already done some neat things, like putting in recycled rubber sidewalks. I know Virginia communities are restricted by the state's status as a commonwealth, with local governments only granted the specific powers given to them by the state. But again, I have to ask, if DC can do it, why can't Arlington?

* More election analysis: An eco-thug's demise.

* As I covered back in July, even though not many green candidates were directly elected this year, the shift to Democratic control of Congress could mean big things for environmentalists.

* 30 months after it was due, environmentalists sue the Bush administration for failing to produce a required report analyzing global warming's impact on America. Great quote by Sen. John McCain to an administration official: "You know, you are really one of the more astonishing witnesses that I have [faced] -- in the 19 years I've been a member of this [Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation] Committee."

* How did the Bush administration end hunger in the blink of an eye? It stopped calling it hunger.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Election Results: Bye-Bye, Bipartisanship

After yet another bitter, divisive election, it would be nice to think that the two major political parties in this country would have an interest in coming together to tackle some of the major problems facing this country -- the national debt, the entitlement crisis, the decrepit health care system.

But the incoming House Speaker has already put loyalty ahead of ideals. And White House allies are saying in no uncertain terms that they have no interest in bipartisanship. "When we want to go up and they want to go down, we want to go right and they want to go left, there's no compromise," said anti-tax activist, White House adviser, and good buddy to Jack Abramoff Grover Norquist.

Harold Meyerson explained it brilliantly in a recent Washington Post column. There's no middle ground anymore. Candidates have to run hard right or hard left to win in the primaries and raise enough money to run in the general elections.

My solution? Proportional representation. If the Democrats get 50% of the vote, the Republicans get 40%, and the Green Party gets 10%, the Congressional seats are divideded up proportionately. Candidates run towards the middle trying to get the most votes, yet the people with fringe views (like, say, environmentalists) are also represented. But it will never happen because it makes too much sense. And because of the dreaded inertia against change.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Don't Forget to Vote!

Don't forget to vote on Tuesday! As I've mentioned, control of the House & Senate have major environmental implications.

There are two critical votes right here in Virginia, the Senate race pitting George Allen vs. Jim Webb, and a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Nationwide, it looks like control of the Senate will be decided by the races in Missouri, Montana, Rhode Island, and Tennesee. If you have friends in any of those key states, please email them and make sure they get out and vote!

Friday, November 3, 2006

Why Voting in Arlington Matters

I've always been amazed at how many people my age live in Arlington, work in Arlington, pay taxes in Arlington, spend their money in Arlington ... but when it comes to voting, say they're still registered to vote back home, because they're "from Ohio" (or whereever).

Even worse, usually when I ask them if they're voting in Arlington on Tuesday, they say, "Crap, I forgot to get my absentee ballot!"

They don't know who's running back home, or what the big issues are, but somehow they think they're still supposed to vote not where they live, but where they grew up. Do you still sleep in the bed you grew up sleeping in? Still go to the pizza place you hung out at with your high school friends? No. So why do you think you're supposed to vote there?

The Arlington County Board regularly makes decisions that directly affect you, from big decisions like property taxes (and even if you don't pay those directly, they're reflected in your rent) to relatively minor decisions like whether Dr. Dremo's will remain in its current location.

And it's not like people are voting in overwhelming numbers anyway. In the last presidential election, only 58.3 percent of citizens of voting age cast ballots. In 2002—the last mid-term election—only 48 percent voted. The percentages for people under 40 are even lower.

So register to vote in Arlington now! You can print out the form online. You won't be able to vote Tuesday, but you'll be all set for next November.

Oh, and why can't you register and vote on the same day? Good question.

Other notes ...

* Check out this interview with the producer of An Inconvenient Truth.

* ACE's website updated with three November events and a December cleanup.

* Capitals Iceplex to open soon in Ballston.

* Hope to see you at the next Community Role Models event, the AFAC Food Drive on Saturday November 11th!