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NYT’s Friedman discusses solutions to world’s climate, energy, and population problems
(video & transcript)
Thomas Friedman, E&E TV
How can the next administration lead the way in offering solutions to the climate, energy and population problems facing our world?

During today’s E&ETV Event Coverage, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman discusses his new book, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution — and How It Can Renew America.” Friedman explains how and why the United States should be the leader in an energy technology revolution and discusses the positive economic impacts that could come as a result.
(1 October 2008)

Politics of drilling, financial bailout heading into elections
(video & transcript)
Monica Trauzzi, E&E TV
Have Republicans gained political traction after making ground on offshore drilling? Will the lifting of the drilling moratorium affect the outcome of congressional races? What impacts do the financial crisis and bailout have on the presence of energy issues in congressional races?

During today’s OnPoint, E&E political reporter Alex Kaplun takes a look at some of the key Senate and House races in which energy issues are playing a major role. Kaplun also discusses the GOP’s new energy message and previews tonight’s vice presidential debate.
(2 October 2008)

Fukuyama: The Fall of America, Inc.

Francis Fukuyama, Newsweek
Along with some of Wall Street’s most storied firms, a certain vision of capitalism has collapsed. How we restore faith in our brand.

… Ideas are one of our most important exports, and two fundamentally American ideas have dominated global thinking since the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was elected president. The first was a certain vision of capitalism—one that argued low taxes, light regulation and a pared-back government would be the engine for economic growth. Reaganism reversed a century-long trend toward ever-larger government. Deregulation became the order of the day not just in the United States but around the world.

The second big idea was America as a promoter of liberal democracy around the world, which was seen as the best path to a more prosperous and open international order. America’s power and influence rested not just on our tanks and dollars, but on the fact that most people found the American form of self-government attractive and wanted to reshape their societies along the same lines—what political scientist Joseph Nye has labeled our “soft power.”

It’s hard to fathom just how badly these signature features of the American brand have been discredited.

And while fewer non-Americans are likely to listen to our advice, many would still benefit from emulating certain aspects of the Reagan model. Not, certainly, financial-market deregulation. But in continental Europe, workers are still treated to long vacations, short working weeks, job guarantees and a host of other benefits that weaken their productivity and will not be financially sustainable.

The unedifying response to the Wall Street crisis shows that the biggest change we need to make is in our politics. The Reagan revolution broke the 50-year dominance of liberals and Democrats in American politics and opened up room for different approaches to the problems of the time. But as the years have passed, what were once fresh ideas have hardened into hoary dogmas. The quality of political debate has been coarsened by partisans who question not just the ideas but the motives of their opponents. All this makes it harder to adjust to the new and difficult reality we face. So the ultimate test for the American model will be its capacity to reinvent itself once again. Good branding is not, to quote a presidential candidate, a matter of putting lipstick on a pig. It’s about having the right product to sell in the first place. American democracy has its work cut out for it.

Fukuyama is professor of International Political Economy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
(4 October 2008)
Long essay by the author of “The End of History.” Francis Fukuyama is one of the more interesting U.S. triumphalists.

The second-to-the-last paragraph (in bold above) is a jaw-dropping example of how out of touch Fukuyama is from the popular mood. Not only will working people have their retirement funds hit by the Wall Street debacle, they have to bail out the people and institutions that caused the problem. And to hear Fukayama talk with pride about Americans’s lack of job security and long working hours! Thanks but no thanks, Dr. Fukuyama. -BA

Ok, Now What?

Sharon Astyk, Casaubon’s Book
There are certain things in my life that fall in the category of “hideously unpleasant things I am pretty certain I can’t do jack about.” Among them are drilling in ANWR and the fact that everyone on earth wants to talk about the unbelievably boring Sarah Palin. I know many of you devote a lot of passion to protesting these things, and I’m sorry I just can’t do it – that is, I don’t think that people who are cold and without energy are ever going to turn down oil from environmentally sensitive places – in fact, I think they’d be willing to power their cars with baby harp seals (and not in a nice way) if that would work.

I recognize that most people simply have to say what they think about Sarah Palin, and her hominess/titillating family gossip/experience holding off Russia with her bare hands and I might as well just listen to the 9,000 description of Tina Fay’s impression. And I knew we were going to pass a bailout bill, no matter how much it made my stomach clench up with horror. All of these things are bad, bad things that it is good to protest – but protest so that you can say you tried, not with the expectation that the laws of nature will somehow be refuted.

… What can we do about it? Protest – because it came closer to working here than I think anyone expected it to, and it may well work sooner or later. Call and fight and be angry – don’t let them wear your anger out. Clarify – make sure that the message gets out whose fault this really is. Vote, of course, because even the lesser of two evils can be quite lesser.

But more importantly, to the extent it is possible, we need to build redundancies into the systems we depend on that don’t depend on wall street, or the stuff we shortly won’t have any money for anyway. That means everyone out there needs to look around them and ask what small piece of the infrastructure of their lives (and the lives of their community members) they can take some responsibility for. We need to all look and ask “what is my job in this new world we’re awakening to?” What the heck can I do to help mitigate this disaster?
(5 October 2008)

Atlanta Q&A: Why gasoline supplies went south

Alan Judd, Jeremy Redmon and Stacy Shelton; Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The frustration of finding and queuing up for gasoline left metro Atlantans with a lot of questions in the past few weeks. Here are some answers:

Q. Why is it taking so long to return to normal supplies?

A. A one-two hurricane punch of Gustav, which hit the central Louisiana coast Sept. 1, and Ike, which struck Galveston, Texas, Sept. 13, flooded and shut down refineries that supply virtually all of Atlanta’s gas.

“A lot of people don’t understand that refineries aren’t like light switches,” said Jeffrey Pillon of the National Association of State Energy Officials. “Once they go cold, you have to go through a whole start-up process as you work through the refinery. And that could take a week to 10 days under normal circumstances.”

On top of that, it can take 10 days to move gas by pipeline to Atlanta. Meanwhile, panic buying exhausted some local supplies.

Supplies began returning to normal last week. The U.S. Energy Department announced early in the week that 13 of 15 closed refineries have resumed production; one of two pipelines serving Atlanta was pumping at pre-hurricane levels by Tuesday.

Q. How much less gasoline was delivered or pumped in metro Atlanta this September, compared with last year?

A. No one seems to know for sure. Even if they did, it might not settle the argument over whether the shortage was hurricane-induced or panic-driven or both.
(5 October 2008)