In all the hoopla following the election, this story kind of slipped under a lot of radars. Rachel Maddow picked up on it yesterday. On November 7 the New York Times wrote:
The Bureau of Land Management has expanded its oil and gas lease program in eastern Utah to include tens of thousands of acres on or near the boundaries of three national parks, according to revised maps published this week. National Park Service officials say that the decision to open lands close to Arches National Park and Dinosaur National Monument and within eyeshot of Canyonlands National Park was made without the kind of consultation that had previously been routine.
The inclusion of the new lease tracts angered environmental groups, which were already critical of the bureau’s original lease proposal, made public this fall, because they said it could lead to industrial activity in empty areas of the state, some prized for their sweeping vistas, like Desolation Canyon, and others for their ancient petroglyphs, like Nine Mile Canyon.
The bureau’s new maps, made public on Election Day, show not just those empty areas but 40 to 45 new areas where leasing will also be allowed.
The tracts will be sold at auction on Dec. 19, the last lease sale before President Bush leaves office a month later. The new leases were added after a map of the proposed tracts was given to the National Park Service for comment this fall. The proximity of industrial activity concerns park managers, who worry about the impact on the air, water and wildlife within the park, as well as the potential for noise, said Michael D. Snyder, a regional director of the Park Service who is based in Denver.
As they said, the leases are scheduled to be sold at auction on December 19. As the Times articles notes, if the leases are sold and delivered to the buyers before the inauguration there will little, if anything, the new administration can do about it. The Bush administration’s calloused end around of the National Park Service in this decision pretty much sums up the “Drill, drill, drill” mantra of the (not so) Grand Old Party these days.
Obama rolled out his economic team yesterday, and I thought, “Meh.” I don’t have no steenking PhD in economics from an elitist university and was in fact an English major at a state school with a top-tier football team, but I could do better in the “bold ideas” department. Even if I did have to Google “number zeros trillion” to determine the basis of my plan.
According to Bloomberg, the total tab for the government bailout is approaching the neighborhood of $7 trillion, which is a pretty goddamn swank neighborhood if you ask me. The population of the US is right around 300 million. So what if we told Citigroup, AIG, GM, Ford, et al, to fuck off and instead divided that $7 trillion amongst the citizenry? If I’ve got my zeros right, every man, woman and child would receive upwards of $23K.
I watched A Colbert Christmas last night and it was really, really good. Definitely try to catch it this week because Comedy Central is re-airing it a bunch of times (check your local listings—I know it’s on at 10PM ET tonight). The musical guests included Willie Nelson (pot jokes!), Feist (as a not-so-sweet angel), Elvis Costello (in a variety of costumes), John Legend (soulful and surprisingly funny), and Toby Keith, who after supporting Obama and taking part in this hilarious, fuck-my-base music video (below), I will never, ever make fun of again…
The two things I expect from Obama are getting us out of Iraq and getting the economy moving in the right direction. He will have a successful administration if he can do those two things. I don’t mind that he is going to former Clintonites for his appointees, because Clinton’s team had a reputation for being policy wonks, that’s what we need now. No more incompetent partisan political cronies.
I would like to see more people of color though, you gotta dance with the one who brung ya. Less than 50% of white people voted for Obama, he’s president because of the overwhelming support of black, latino, asian, and other POC voters. If he wants us to show up for the mid-term elections and to re-elect him then he better not take us for granted. This isn’t about having a tantrum, it’s just reality. Many of the newly registered voters this election were apathetic POC who saw the system rigged against them and saw no point to voting. They will go back to being apathetic and not bothering if they think Obama is all about catering to white people and more of the same - Democratic politicians who want to use them when there’s an election and ignore them the rest of the time. Besides it would be pretty damned pathetic if Bush (and Clinton before him) had a more diverse cabinet than Obama. He needs his administration to look like the convention and the coalition of people who came together to vote for him on Nov 4.
An unexpected pre-holiday treat has been the freak out amongst the ObamaPod faithful about how moderate Obama’s cabinet picks have been so far. Though, I hold many views that are called “progressive” by The Nation and their ilk (I prefer “liberal”) I am happy and relieved to see so many Clinton hands on the deck of the good ship Barack. And watching the Kos Kidz head’s pop has leapfrogged seeing conservative sexual hypocrites implode for pure delight in my book.
One subzero night in 1998 during my first semester of college I could not escape Maine’s winter bite. While watching Late Night with Conan O’Brien I decided I needed to tear a hole in my sleeping bag so I could keep my upper body warm as I channel surfed during the commercial breaks.
Something tells me it wasn’t Conan O’Brien he was watching when he decided he needed to tear a hole in his sleeping bag…
Once again Focus on the Family, always a reasonable and sensible group, has announced their annual defense against the (imaginary) War on Christmas. Categorizing retail stores as either naughty (says “Happy Holidays” BOOOO) or nice (says “Merry Christmas” Heart, Heart, Heart) a “Christmas Friendly Shopping Guide” has been issued so all good little fundies will know who to take their Christmas bizness too. Can someone give these people lives for Christmas?
Like cute cat videos? (Of course you do. Doesn’t everybody?) Check out this vid of cats conversing then check out the translation. Funny stuff! H/T to kcindenver (yes the daughter has logged on and is now leaving me comments.)
[Obama’s] office also announced he has chosen Ellen Moran, executive director of EMILY’s List, as director of communications. EMILY’s List raises money for Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights.
It goes without saying that there will be Obama policies, both in the foreign policy and domestic realms, that are vastly superior to what we’ve seen the last eight years and to what we would have seen had McCain/Palin won. And as the second-tier positions begin to fill out, there will probably be appointees whom progressives consider to be one of their own. And as Digby points out, the magnitude of the financial crisis may compel him to embrace policies that are deemed to be quite progressive (from massive stimulus packages and government intervention in the economy to a diminution of our foreign adventurism).
But Barack Obama is a centrist, establishment politician. That is what he has been since he’s been in the Senate, and more importantly, it’s what he made clear—both explicitly and through his actions—that he intended to be as President. Even in the primary, he paid no price whatsoever for that in terms of progressive support. As is true for the national Democratic Party generally, he has no good reason to believe he needs to accommodate liberal objections to what he is doing. The Joe Lieberman fiasco should have made that as conclusively clear as it gets.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Since November days in Colorado are usually mild and fine, the marindenver household roasts the turkey in the backyard on our big covered charcoal grill. This year I’m trying a dry brine with sea salt and fresh herbs. (Takes about the same time as a regular brine but less mess in the fridge so why not?) While cooking, we add a few coals to the fire about every half hour along with a branch from my sage bush for a nice herbal smokiness. Baste it at the same time with chicken stock and white wine. Also new on the table this year is an artichoke gratin. (Some of you will now know I read Martha Stewart.) Last year we tried miniature pumpkin baked alaskas for dessert but, although delicious, they were a little too rich after that big meal. So we’re going back to pies - apple and pumpkin. Rounding out the menu will be traditional bread stuffing, garlic mashers with pan gravy, homemade cranberry relish and I’m still thinking over the veggies. Open thread follows the jump.
Obama’s vetting could chase away candidates
David Gergen, a CNN senior political analyst and adviser to four past presidents: “I’ve never seen anything like this at the presidential level before.”
The Obama team is requiring prospective candidates to complete a seven-page questionnaire that requires the disclosure of nearly every last private detail. In addition to the obvious questions ... candidates are asked about ... past blog posts ...