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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:20 pm 
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By "today" I meant "today", as opposed to "yesterday".

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wo ... inspector/

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 6:27 pm 
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You know - Obama said during the debates that he would negotiate with Iran. And he did.

Kudos!

And the first sitting president to visit a prison, and acknowledge the problems? Kudos!

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 6:33 pm 
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Yes, his efforts to reform the criminal justice system are much needed, and definitely deserve kudos.

He certainly would not have visited a prison if he was still up for reelection. He certainly seems to be freed to pursue actions that he considers right, regardless of political pressures, from either side (I include his pushing of fast track trade authority, which is wildly unpopular with progressives).

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 6:55 pm 
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I was thrilled at the pardoning of those non-violent criminals. A read a long, detailed report about the thousands of non-violent criminals given Life Without Parole and it was sincerely one of the most appalling things I've ever read. People getting hopelessly locked up in maximum security prisons for life because they were caught with a little bit of LSD or had a few counts of petty theft amounting to a couple hundred bucks. These cases are disgusting perversions of justice and it made me ashamed for our country to learn about it. I hope that Obama, and our government in general, can do a lot more because there's a lot more where those few dozens came from.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 7:32 pm 
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Also wanted to say, don't recall if it came up before, but I'm a big fan of lifting the Cuba embargo.

Yeah, Obama's been doing lots of stuff I like of late...

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 9:20 pm 
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I agree, Yov. Let's not forget lifting the Cuba embargo.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:03 pm 
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Cuba went from idle bucket list to "hmmm, I wonder if I could organize my writers' group to do a cultural visit."

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:26 pm 
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I had mentioned my excitement at seeing the recent pardons from Obama, and I am also excited to see John Oliver putting a spotlight on what I honestly believe could be the greatest bit of injustice in our country right now, mandatory minimums:


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:28 pm 
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What's next is apparently a rejection of the Keystone Pipeline, as the president continues his second term "the heck with what my critics say" approach.

Good for him!

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:32 pm 
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Good for him, bad for everyone else! Hooray for ideology! Down with common sense! Down with infrastructure!

You know who else doesn't care about what their critics say? I mean even less than Obama does? The Freedom Caucus.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:40 pm 
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There are many rational reasons for not wanting that pipeline built. And if the increase in the use of non-carbon energy sources continues to accelerate, and the price of oil to sag, it may never make economic sense again (if it ever did). It may not just be granola-eating hippies who will be glad in the future that we're not stuck with it.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:54 pm 
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But I don't think Obama really cared about those rational reasons for or against in the end. I think Voronwë was right on in what he said, though the interpretation I'm giving is not at all what Voronwë meant, of course.

Good for *him.* Good for *his legacy* as an environmental liberal. I think Obama cares deeply about what liberal historians will say about him, so I don't think he really takes a "heck with my critics" approach. Only the critics he decides don't matter.

In that way I think he is very similar to his immediate predecessor in office.

And of course I know most of you will disagree with this assessment, but -- to heck with my critics? ;)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:57 pm 
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Well, of course. It was a political decision; Obama makes a lot of them. It's just that the politics have shifted for the moment, so it's not those of us on the left who are ticked off. It's those of us who are on the right.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 12:39 am 
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Yes, it was a political decision, but not in the way that either of you mean. As he correctly pointed out, the issue has been tremendously blown out of proportion by both sides; both the economic and environmental impact of this one project is fairly small. However, it has become a symbol of something that transcends not just this issue, but this country as well. The reason why he made this decision at this time was a political calculation in anticipation of the Paris conference on climate change next month. In order for there to be any hope of significant worldwide movement on climate change, the U.S. needs to be able to be seen as a leader of that movement. That was the political calculation that Obama had in mind when he went ahead and made this announcement at this time. Whether that will be "good for him" in the way that Faramond suggests only time will tell. Frankly, I don't really care. I do care about significant progress being made in combating climate change however, and if this symbolic political move ends up helping even in a small way, than it was a good thing.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 12:46 am 
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I think it will help in more than a small way if has the effect of slowing down the environmental disaster around the tar sands in Alberta and possibly leaving more of that oil in the ground. That's a problem for Canada, but so is the environmental disaster.

I said it was a political decision because the indications for a long time, or so I saw them, were that he was going to approve it. The winds have shifted, and he made a different decision. Perhaps the one he really wanted to make; I wouldn't be surprised. But a lot of people watching the process were expecting approval, including many environmentalists.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:42 pm 
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President Obama had a choice in his first term -- he could use his political capitol and congressional majorities to go after health care reform or he could go after some kind of climate change legislation. He chose the former.

If you believe that both of these are serious issues that had to be addressed, I think you could also argue that he chose the wrong one to go after *first*.

I've always been puzzled that he chose the way he did.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:25 pm 
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I'm not. Health care was an immediate crisis, climate change a more removed one (though it's getting more immediate every day). Both would be almost impossible for Obama to do anything meaningful about. Health care won. Obamacare did not "fix" it, but it improved it greatly for people at the margins and, it can be argued, is starting to reduce the growth in health care costs. In terms of reducing human misery and needless death in our country, which is Obama's responsibility, health care was the right call.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:26 pm 
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This past weekend I spent some time out in the desert, looking at tapped out dreams of mineral riches.

Joshua Tree National Park has many mining claims in it and most of them never produced much - certainly never made anybody rich except maybe those who supplied the iron and tools with which these unrealized mining dreams were built.

Among modest stone cabins and rusted 1800's cans you can sometimes find pipes to dried-up springs, carefully laid for miles, or ore cart tracks, or roads laboriously carved out of the steep, sandy mountain sides now being claimed back by the desert. A lot of infrastructure investment went into some of these mines yet most of them never produced enough to match the value of the infrastructure around them.

How do I know that? Well, history books tell us that much but you can see it just by looking, too. Many of these mines have a single, tiny tailings pile, barely more than an audit - a sure sign that the tunnel yielded no ore - and yet it had water laid on in preparation for grinding value from the stone.

When I look at these ruins I am reminded that reality will always trump optimism if the optimism was unfounded.

That is one of my concerns with Keystone XL. To my knowledge tar sands are expensive to produce oil from and the sour oil that does get produced requires refinery modifications. From what I've read taxpayer subsidies was planned to help cover the refinery modifications so the people that stand to make money off of the refining of tar sand oil are probably nicely covered. I just wonder whether that tax money wouldn't be better spent shoring up infrastructure such as roads and dams, as opposed to helping with infrastructure for the oil industry.

The oil industry cuts my pay check every two weeks so I do not have a vendetta against them, but I do wonder whether the investment in Keystone XL would provide a real return to the tax payers helping out with it, or whether that pipeline, if built, would just rust away like those dreams in the desert.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 2:55 am 
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I actually hadn't even thought of it that way, Griff, and I too live in a state that is littered with the relics of mining booms. We've also got Rocky Flats. Talk about infrastructure. That infrastructure made a mess that ain't fit for human habitation anytime soon. It's all wildlife preserve now...and some parts people aren't allowed to enter.

My biggest concern with Keystone XL was the potential for a major environmental disaster. That thing was set to cross the Oglalla aquifer. If the pipeline leaked, you could more or less kiss agriculture in a huge swath of the Midwest goodbye.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 6:53 am 
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And the company that would build it has a bad, bad, bad record for leaks. So. . . .

So, there's the eminent domain issue, across an enormous swath of our country's most valuable farmland. I remember pictures of a similar pipeline in North Dakota, leaking huge puddles of oil over open farmland *in production* that might not produce again for decades if ever.

The aquifer issue is, of course, enormously worse. How much worse should we let it get before somebody yells stop? Fortunately, somebody did.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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