Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Political Post

I keep tellimg myself that this blog shouldn't go political, but sometimes the news just gets too good to pass up:

PIERRE, S.D. - A woman who died two months ago won a county commissioner's race in Jerauld County on Tuesday.

But no, not that news, but this - the day after the Democrats have regained control of the House after 12 years, and seem assured of having a majority in the Senate as well (barring any Katharine Harris-style highjinks), Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld finally resigns!

I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A dead woman won re-election to a school board in rural Alaska after her opponent lost a coin flip meant to break an electoral tie.

HOUSTON - A slick new campaign mailer shows a smiling Republican state Rep. Glenda Dawson meeting with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. It reminds voters of Dawson's many notable achievements in education, economics and politics. What the ad doesn't say is that Dawson has been dead since September.

Ah, Texas. . . with dead Republicans running for office, you have to wonder how Kinky Friedman came in third in the Governor's race.

Not that things are much better other places. I live in Georgia, so I ought not to point a finger too much, but New York's new statewide database of registered voters contains as many as 77,000 dead people on its rolls, and as many as 2,600 of them have cast votes from the grave, according to an analysis by the Poughkeepsie Journal.

But, I'm already off-message. I didn't come here to talk about Rummy or dead Republicans. I came here to talk about the effects of yesterday's midterm election on environmental policy. See how easily I get distracted on politics?

Many enviros have cited yesterday's Democratic victories as a possible indicator of change to the country's environmental and global-warming policies. After all, eco-enemies like Richard Pombo were defeated, and green-leaning governors like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jennifer Granholm (Michigan) got reseated, and incoming speaker Nancy Pelosi has a long record of environmental activism, including very vocal support on getting the Maximum Contaminant Level for arsenic in drinking water reduced.

However, there is very little chance the power shift will alter Bush's opposition to binding caps on greenhouse gas emissions per the Kyoto Protocol, which he rejected in 2001 incurring the wrath of environmentalists everywhere.

Delegates and observers gathered in Nairobi for a UN climate-change conference aimed at finding a replacement for Kyoto, which expires in 2012, said Republican losses should help the environment. "This is good news for climate," said World Wildlife Federation climate-change director Hans Verolme, optimistic that Democratic control of Congress could lead to pressure on the administration to boost efforts to combat climate change. "You will see a lot of pressure on the administration to work on domestic policies that will have a positive impact on the environment as a result of the US midterm elections," he said.

"The main message from the results. . . is that the U.S. is moving substantially in the right direction, and climate is very much front and center on the political agenda in the U.S.," said Steve Sawyer, a spokesman for Greenpeace. "(But) it still doesn't mean that we're going to have national binding emissions caps in the U.S."

John Coequyt, a Greenpeace energy policy advisor, agreed that the elections may have showed greater environmental awareness among U.S. voters, but warned against exuberance, noting the polls were largely a referendum on the Iraq war, scandals and the economy. "For delegates here, it's not going to have an impact on negotiations," he said, referring to the talks in Nairobi. Still, he said, some U.S. races showed promise, particularly the re-election of Schwarzenegger, a Republican who is at deep odd with the administration over global warming. "There are a number of elections that were decided by environmental issues. You can make the argument that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger won his re-election based on climate change," Coequyt said.

However, voters in California also rejected a renewable-energy oil tax endorsed by both Bill Clinton and Julia Roberts.

Also in California, seven-term Rep. Richard Pombo was defeated by a last-minute onslaught of campaigning by well-financed environmental groups supporting Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney, a left-leaning energy consultant who heads a company that manufactures wind turbines. National politicians on both sides of the aisle considered the race to be a high-stakes battle, with Bill Clinton stumping for McNerney and both the President and the First Lady rallying on Pombo's behalf in the campaign's final stretch.

Pombo, 45, chair of the House Resources Committee, was targeted by environmental groups riled over his support for offshore and Alaskan oil drilling and making the Endangered Species Act more palatable to land owners. McNerney, 55, has advocated devoting more government money to alternative energy sources.

As recently as three months ago, McNerney was an underdog not even supported by his own party. But more recent polls showed McNerney gaining as Pombo faced anger from voters over his stay-the-course stance on Iraq and links to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The race was an expensive one, with campaign contributions of more than $2.5 million pouring in on both sides. McNerney, largely funded by environmentalists, received a last-minute infusion of cash from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which had previously considered the district unwinnable. The GOP devoted more than $1 million to shore up Pombo's campaign.

McNerney won.

Meanwhile, Missouri passed the Stem Cell bill. The rabid, insane Christian right are screaming that the bill will allow human cloning, although it expressly forbids human cloning. My greatest fear following this election, however, was planted in my mind by idrmrsr, namely that Nancy Pelosi will take me to a camp and milk me of my semen even while I sleep to fertlize eggs and produce embryos to cure Michael J. Fox.

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