Obama's "five worst nominees"

Over at the Mother Jones blog, Kate Sheppard, David Corn and Daniel Schulman compiled a list of "Obama’s Five Worst Nominees." Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner doesn’t make the cut, which surprised me until I read the short bios of appointees who are likely to put corporate interests ahead of the public interest. In alphabetical order:

William Lynn, for whom the president made an exception to his policy on lobbyists in government. Lynn was the chief lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon before becoming deputy secretary of defense in the Obama administration.

William Magwood, a “cheerleader for nuclear power” who has “worked for reactor maker Westinghouse and has run two firms that advise companies on nuclear projects.” Obama nominated him for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Scott O’Malia, who was apparently suggested by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. O’Malia “was a lobbyist for Mirant, an Enron-like energy-trading firm” and lobbied for weakening the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to which Obama appointed him.

Joseph Pizarchik, who helped form policies in Pennsylvania to allow disposal of toxic coal ash in unlined pits. Obama named him director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

Islam Siddiqui, whom Obama appointed to be the chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. trade representative. Jill Richardson has been on this case at La Vida Locavore; see here and here on why Siddiqui is the wrong person for this job.

I wouldn’t suggest that this rogue’s gallery is representative of Obama appointees, but it’s depressing to see any of them in this administration.

In the good news column, Obama has decided to renominate Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, along with five other nominees who didn’t receive a confirmation vote in the Senate last year.

Nuclear power not the answer to global warming

Environment Iowa posted an important statement here today, and I encourage you to click over and read the whole thing. I want to highlight a few passages:

   *       To avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global warming, the U.S. needs to cut power plant emissions roughly in half over the next 10 years.

   *       Nuclear power is too slow to contribute to this effort. No new reactors are now under construction and building a single reactor could take 10 years or longer, while costing billions of dollars.

   *       Even if the nuclear industry somehow managed to build 100 new nuclear reactors by 2030, nuclear power could reduce total U.S. emissions over the next 20 years by only 12 percent. […]

In contrast to building new nuclear plants, efficiency and renewable energy can immediately and significantly reduce electricity consumption and carbon emissions. The report found that:

   *       Efficiency programs are already cutting electricity consumption by 1-2 percent annually in leading states, and the wind industry is already building the equivalent of three nuclear reactors per year in wind farms, many of which are in Iowa.

   *       Building 100 new reactors would require an up-front investment on the order of $600 billion dollars – money which could cut at least twice as much carbon pollution by 2030 if invested in clean energy. Taking into account the ongoing costs of running the nuclear plants, clean energy could deliver 5 times more pollution-cutting progress per dollar.

   *       Nuclear power is not necessary to provide carbon-free electricity for the long haul. The need for base-load power is exaggerated and small-scale, local energy solutions can actually enhance the reliability of the electric grid.

Click here to download “Generating Failure: How Building Nuclear Power Plants Would Set America Back in the Race Against Global Warming.” Other excerpts from the executive summary:

Nuclear power is expensive and will divert resources from more cost-effective energy strategies.

   * Building 100 new nuclear reactors would require an up-front capital investment on the order of $600 billion (with a possible range of $250 billion to $1 trillion), diverting money away from cleaner and cheaper solutions. Any up-front investment in nuclear power would lock in additional expenditures over time.

   * Over the life of a new reactor, the electricity it produces could cost in the range of 12 to 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, or more. In contrast, a capital investment in energy efficiency actually pays us back several times over with ongoing savings on electricity bills, and an investment in renewable power can deliver electricity for much less cost.

   * Per dollar spent over the lifetime of the technology, energy efficiency and biomass co-firing are five times more effective at preventing carbon dioxide pollution, and combined heat and power (in which a power plant generates both electricity and heat for a building or industrial application) is greater than three times more effective. In 2018, biomass and land-based wind energy will be more than twice as effective, and offshore wind power will be on the order of 30 percent more effective per dollar of investment, even without the benefit of the renewable energy production tax credit. (See Figure ES-2.)

   * By 2018, and possibly sooner, solar photovoltaic power should be comparable to a new nuclear reactor in terms of its per-dollar ability to prevent global warming pollution. Some analyses imply that thin film solar photovoltaic power is already more cost-effective than a new reactor. And solar power is rapidly growing cheaper, while nuclear costs are not likely to decline.

Please send this link to friends who believe we must expand nuclear power in order to meet our electricity needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has also concluded that “the U.S. does not need to significantly expand its reliance on nuclear power to make dramatic cuts in power plant carbon emissions through 2030-and that doing so would be uneconomical.”

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Events coming up this weekend and next week

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I should add to this post.

Friday, February 13:

As part of the “POWERLINES to the Future” conference of the Midwest Regional Physicians for Social Responsibility, there will be a free film and discussion of “Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives” at 7:30 pm in the International Center, Old Capitol Town Center Mall, downtown Iowa City.

Get full information at:


One Iowa urges supporters to “write a note on Facebook or Myspace with the 25 Reasons you support marriage equality. Then tag 25 of your closest friends on the note and add your 25 reasons as a comment to the One Iowa Facebook or Myspace page.” Also, One Iowa is hosting a Happy Hour from 5-7 PM at Azalea Restaurant, 400 Walnut St., Des Moines.

Friends of Iowa Midwives is having a “Red Envelope Party” (where people can write letters to policy-makers advocating for expanding birth options in Iowa) in Davenport from 3 pm to 5 pm at the Harrison Hilltop Theatre. Click here for more information:


Saturday, February 14:

Physicians for Social Responsibility is holding a “POWERLINES to the Future” conference at the International Center, Old Capitol Town Center Mall, Iowa City. PSR hopes to encourage Iowans, especially those involved in the health professions, to become more informed and actively engaged in confronting the gravest health challenges of our time:

Conference 9:00 AM — 4:00 PM

Check-in and breakfast at 8:00 AM

The Saturday program addresses health, environmental, and economic consequences of:

Nuclear weapons

Nuclear power

Coal fired power generation

View full program at:  www.iowa-psr.org/pl/pl_home.html/#program

Intended audience: physicians, allied health professionals, public health officials, general public, and students.

Registration includes breakfast and lunch on Saturday.

Pre-registration by Wednesday February 11, 2009 is required to be ensured food!

Sliding-scale conference registration fee.

Register online or download a printable registration form at:


Friends of Iowa Midwives is having a “Red Envelope Party” at the Urbandale Public Library from 10 am to 12 pm, and at the Iowa City Public Library from 1 pm to 3 pm. For more information:


Monday, February 16:

Big event on climate change co-sponsored by lots of good organizations:

The University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research and a variety of co-sponsoring organizations invite you to a climate change briefing and discussion to highlight the recent report of the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council.

The briefing and discussion will take place on Monday, February 16, 6:00-7:30 pm at the Iowa State Historical Building Auditorium, 600 East Locust in Des Moines.

The meeting will be an opportunity to learn more about climate change science its potential impacts on Iowa, as well as learn about the recent options detailed in the work of the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council report and participate in an informal discussion about climate change and next steps.

Iowa Climate Change Briefing and Discussion

Monday, February 16, 6:00-7:30 pm

Iowa State Historical Building, Auditorium


Welcome – Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie

Richard Leopold, Director, Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Climate Science and Assessment of Climate Change for Iowa- Eugene S. Takle, Director, Climate Change Initiative, Professor of Atmospheric Science, Professor of Agricultural Meteorology, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University

Brief overview of the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council’s Report –  Jerry Schnoor – Co-director, University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research and Chairman, Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council

What are our next steps? Interactive discussion with key legislators, ICCAC members and the audience

Adjourn for light refreshments

Climate Change Briefing and Discussion Co-Sponsors

Iowa State University Climate Science Initiative

UNI Center for Energy and Environmental Education

Iowa State University Extension

Iowa Department of Economic Development

Iowa Office of Energy Independence

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Iowa Department of Public Health

Iowa Office of Consumer Advocate

Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities

Iowa State Association of Counties

Iowa League of Cities

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Iowa Environmental Council

Iowa Interfaith Power & Light

Iowa Policy Project

Trees Forever

For more information or questions contact Joe Bolkcom, Outreach and Community Education Director, UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at joe-bolkcom@uiowa.edu or 319-353-2681.

One Iowa is organizing this event:

February 16, 5:30 PM

“Transgender Medicine 101”

featuring Dr. Christine McGinn

FREE and open to the public

Dinner at 5:30, lecture at 6:00

Des Moines University Student Education Center Auditorium

3200 Grand Avenue, Des Moines

Go to www.oneiow.org for more information

Tuesday, February 17:

It’s the registration deadline for the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa’s Crossroads lunch on February 20 (see below for more information). Call 515-279-8715 to make a reservation.

The Women Food and Agriculture Network is holding “Women Caring for the Land” meetings on February 17, 18 and 19, for women landowners in Johnson, Jones and Linn Counties. These are free educational programs on conservation programming for women who are farm partners, owner-operators, or inheritors who own farmland. Laura Krouse will hold meetings in each county, followed by spring field days and a follow-up meeting. Please call her at 319-895-6924 to find out where and when the meeting will be held in each county.

Wednesday, February 18:

One Iowa and Lambda Legal are holding a “Let My Parents Marry” forum at 6:30 pm in the Coralville Public Library, Meeting Room A, 1401 5th St., Coralville.

Friends of Iowa Midwives is holding its third Annual Conscious Birth Summit from 3 pm to 8 pm in the Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A, Featuring screenings of The Business of Being Born and Orgasmic Birth.

Thursday, February 19:

From the Iowa Environmental Council newsletter:

Growing Sustainable Communities Conference

Join us Thursday, February 19, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., at the Grand River Center, 500 Bell Street in Dubuque. Cost is $20 per person, which includes a lunch. Limited number of student scholarships available. Our conference theme is “Promoting Historic Preservation as Part of the Climate Solution.” Insights will be offered on creating local and regional policies to promote sustainability through historic preservation. Keynote speakers for the event are Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Roya Stanley, director of the Iowa Office for Energy Independence. Deadline for registration is Feb 11 [from desmoinesdem: I know it’s late, but if you’re interested try calling anyway]. A limited number of student scholarships are available. Online registration and payment, as well as additional information, are available at www.sustainabledubuque.org or by calling 563.589.4110 during business hours. The mission of the conference is to educate the public on the issues that impact the long-term health and sustainability of our region and to create an opportunity for policy decision-makers from the tri-state area to come together to discuss ways in which they can enact the most effective change at the local level.

Also from the IEC bulletin:

Iowa Whitewater Coalition Annual Dinner Meeting

February 19, Des Moines

The IWC ‘Reconnecting the Rivers’ Annual Dinner Meeting will take place on Thursday, February 19th, with a social hour beginning at 6 pm and dinner at 7 pm. Following the meal special guest Adam Brooks, who has paddled the entire Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, will be sharing stories from his adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail and his plans for paddling 2300 miles of the Yukon River in Alaska starting in June. The meeting will be held at the House of Thai, located at 3017 100th Street in Des Moines. There will be a wonderful selection of dishes served banquet style, beverages and a cash bar for those interested. Tickets may be purchased for $25 per individual or $45 per couple. Proceeds from the event directly benefit the non-profit activities of the IWC and its Reconnecting the Rivers Campaign. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to: http://www.iowawhitewater.org/…

One Iowa and Lambda Legal are holding a “Let My Parents Marry” forum at 6:30 pm in the Des Moines Public Library, Meeting Room 1, 1000 Grand Ave. in Des Moines.

Friday, February 20:

The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa is holding a Crossroads luncheon:

Guest Speaker:    Nate Monson

Project Coordinator, Iowa Safe Schools

Subject:                Safe Schools for All

Sexual orientation and gender identity are two controversial topics in our communities and in our schools. Are our schools safe for LGBT youth? Learn about, discuss, and experience the effects of bias and harassment on students who identify and students who are perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender and learn about laws dealing with the GLBT community.

Date:                    Friday, February 20

o       Time:        11:45 – 1 p.m.

o       Location: Plymouth Congregational Church, Des Moines (42nd Street & Ingersoll Avenue )

o       Cost:         $9.00

Reservations are required for Crossroads.  Please call or email TIA Iowa by Tuesday, February 17.

Office: 515-279-8715

Friends of Iowa Midwives is having a Red Envelope Party from noon to 1 pm at the Marion Public Library.

Saturday, February 21:

From the IEC bulletin:

Hunter Angler Summit

Please join other outdoor enthusiasts on Feb 21, at Johnson County Conservation Education Center at F.W. Kent Park, just west of Tiffin, for a one-day summit to learn about threats to Iowa wetlands, rivers and streams, and help the National and Iowa Wildlife Federation to launch a state campaign to fight back after the rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and administrative fiats that have left over half of Iowa streams and over 70 percent of Iowa’s prairie pothole wetlands vulnerable to losing Clean Water Act protections. Whether you are an angler who enjoys casting in your favorite stream or a hunter who counts on mallards and northern pintails, these decisions threaten the places you love. Policy experts and scientists will share the current efforts to eliminate protections in Iowa and the serious impacts they have for Iowa fish and wildlife. We will work together to design a statewide plan for hunters and anglers to stop the rollback of clean water protections for Iowa waters.  Hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts who care about clean water and wildlife should attend. Please RSVP: Email Pam Goddard, goddardp@nwf.org or call at 301-741-6606.

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Bleeding Heartland Year in Review: Iowa politics in 2008

Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.

After the jump I’ve linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.

I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I’ll do a review of Bleeding Heartland’s 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.

You can use the search engine on the left side of the screen to look for past Bleeding Heartland diaries about any person or issue.

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