THE $16 MUFFIN MYTH

They say climate change is a myth – that 7 billion people spewing pollutants into the atmosphere couldn’t possibly have an effect on the atmosphere. We say the $16 muffin is a myth. There are two differences here. First, what they deny is really important. Second, they’re wrong. The $16 muffin is a myth. The Department of Justice held a conference and spent $14.74 per day per attendee on food and beverages. Whoopdedoo.

And Gore never said he invented the Internet, did not exaggerate his and Tipper’s inclusion in Love Story, did nothing wrong at the Buddhist temple – and yet, from these muffin-like allegations, sprang the Bush presidency, the Iraq War, and our wrecked economy. Muffins matter.

JUSTICE KAGAN

I loved this profile of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. It even made me feel (a little) better about Justice Roberts. Those of us who supported President Obama tend to take all the good things for granted – and there are tons of them – but it’s worth noting that this is one of them.

BULLYING 94-YEAR OLD WOMEN

James Hickel: “It seems that the state of Tennessee actually makes it very easy and convenient for elderly voters like State Senator Herron’s mother to vote. They can vote absentee, from the comfort of their own homes, without bothering to get a government-issued photo ID. So what exactly is Herron complaining about? The new law requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote applies only to those voting at polling places. It does not apply to those casting absentee ballots under state law, including those age 65 or older who wish to vote absentee or those voting at licensed nursing homes.”

Roy Herron: “Yes: If you act soon enough, if you jump correctly through absentee hoops, and if you are 65, then voting absentee is an option. If, however, you’re not 65, but one of the hundreds of thousands without photo ID, or don’t get weeks ahead of the curve, or don’t do the paperwork right, you are outta luck. As I said in the essay, we’ll take care of Mom. But thousands and thousands of others will not be permitted to vote.”

SIX DEGREES OF JOHN TYLER

Robert Merrill: “My great uncle was Lion Gardiner Mason so the similarity of the name Lyon Gardiner Tyler (linked from your column yesterday) prompted some research on my part. Turns out Lyon and Harrison would be third cousins with my great uncle. (I think I have that right: my Lion’s great-grandfather Nathaniel Gardiner was brother to Lyon and Harrison’s great-grandfather Daniel who fathered their grandmother Julia Gardiner Tyler, wife of John Tyler). So I guess I’m third cousin twice removed to those guys. I would say small world but given John Tyler’s progeny [15 children], half your readership may be distant cousins to him.”

SOLYNDRA

As reported here, the FBI is on the case. If there was fraud, it should be prosecuted. Still, the overall notion remains unchanged: We’re wise to seed investment in cutting-edge technologies – as China has done to the tune of $30 billion in solar. It’s in the national interest. Not all our efforts will succeed. We’d be fools not to try.

The New York Times nails it:

The United States, which three years ago led the world in investments in clean energy, has now fallen behind China and Germany, which provide far more generous subsidies. The failure of a single company — and anyone who knows anything about transformative technologies knows there will be failures — is no reason to stop our efforts to catch up.

. . . It is also important to note where some of the loudest criticism is coming from: House Republicans who want to undermine the president, belittle global warming and discredit clean fuels. Their agenda was on full display Thursday at a hearing led by Darrell Issa called “How Obama’s Green Energy Agenda Is Killing Jobs.”

The truth of the matter is that when judged by its diverse portfolio, the loan program appears, at least so far, to have performed well. The Solyndra investment represents less than 2 percent of nearly $40 billion in loan guarantees for about three dozen innovative projects. Some of them — advanced automobile battery projects, for instance — have provided thousands of much-needed jobs in Michigan and other recession-battered states.

. . . Mr. Issa to the contrary, jobs in the solar industry have doubled to roughly 100,000 since 2003.

Recent studies suggest that, globally, renewable energy will grow faster than any other energy source in the coming decades. The surest way to guarantee that America gets its fair share of that business and those jobs would be to enact a comprehensive energy strategy that raises the price of older, dirtier fuels. Failing that, continued government support is absolutely essential.

 

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