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This Modern World: GOP Dream Debate


U.S. Says No to Keystone XL Pipeline

President_Barack_ObamaHere’s President Obama’s statement:

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 6, 2015


Roosevelt Room

11:58 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Several years ago, the State Department began a review process for the proposed construction of a pipeline that would carry Canadian crude oil through our heartland to ports in the Gulf of Mexico and out into the world market.

This morning, Secretary Kerry informed me that, after extensive public outreach and consultation with other Cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision.

This morning, I also had the opportunity to speak with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada. And while he expressed his disappointment, given Canada’s position on this issue, we both agreed that our close friendship on a whole range of issues, including energy and climate change, should provide the basis for even closer coordination between our countries going forward. And in the coming weeks, senior members of my team will be engaging with theirs in order to help deepen that cooperation.

Now, for years, the Keystone Pipeline has occupied what I, frankly, consider an overinflated role in our political discourse. It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter. And all of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.

To illustrate this, let me briefly comment on some of the reasons why the State Department rejected this pipeline.

First: The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy. So if Congress is serious about wanting to create jobs, this was not the way to do it. If they want to do it, what we should be doing is passing a bipartisan infrastructure plan that, in the short term, could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year as the pipeline would, and in the long run would benefit our economy and our workers for decades to come.

Our businesses created 268,000 new jobs last month. They’ve created 13.5 million new jobs over the past 68 straight months — the longest streak on record. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent. This Congress should pass a serious infrastructure plan, and keep those jobs coming. That would make a difference. The pipeline would not have made a serious impact on those numbers and on the American people’s prospects for the future.

Second: The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers. In fact, gas prices have already been falling — steadily. The national average gas price is down about 77 cents over a year ago. It’s down a dollar over two years ago. It’s down $1.27 over three years ago. Today, in 41 states, drivers can find at least one gas station selling gas for less than two bucks a gallon. So while our politics have been consumed by a debate over whether or not this pipeline would create jobs and lower gas prices, we’ve gone ahead and created jobs and lowered gas prices.

Third: Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security. What has increased America’s energy security is our strategy over the past several years to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world. Three years ago, I set a goal to cut our oil imports in half by 2020. Between producing more oil here at home, and using less oil throughout our economy, we met that goal last year — five years early. In fact, for the first time in two decades, the United States of America now produces more oil than we buy from other countries.

Now, the truth is, the United States will continue to rely on oil and gas as we transition — as we must transition — to a clean energy economy. That transition will take some time. But it’s also going more quickly than many anticipated. Think about it. Since I took office, we’ve doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas by 2025; tripled the power we generate from the wind; multiplied the power we generate from the sun 20 times over. Our biggest and most successful businesses are going all-in on clean energy. And thanks in part to the investments we’ve made, there are already parts of America where clean power from the wind or the sun is finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.

The point is the old rules said we couldn’t promote economic growth and protect our environment at the same time. The old rules said we couldn’t transition to clean energy without squeezing businesses and consumers. But this is America, and we have come up with new ways and new technologies to break down the old rules, so that today, homegrown American energy is booming, energy prices are falling, and over the past decade, even as our economy has continued to grow, America has cut our total carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.

Today, the United States of America is leading on climate change with our investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. America is leading on climate change with new rules on power plants that will protect our air so that our kids can breathe. America is leading on climate change by working with other big emitters like China to encourage and announce new commitments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. In part because of that American leadership, more than 150 nations representing nearly 90 percent of global emissions have put forward plans to cut pollution.

America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership. And that’s the biggest risk we face — not acting.

Today, we’re continuing to lead by example. Because ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.

As long as I’m President of the United States, America is going to hold ourselves to the same high standards to which we hold the rest of the world. And three weeks from now, I look forward to joining my fellow world leaders in Paris, where we’ve got to come together around an ambitious framework to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can.

If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now. Not later. Not someday. Right here, right now. And I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish together. I’m optimistic because our own country proves, every day — one step at a time — that not only do we have the power to combat this threat, we can do it while creating new jobs, while growing our economy, while saving money, while helping consumers, and most of all, leaving our kids a cleaner, safer planet at the same time.

That’s what our own ingenuity and action can do. That’s what we can accomplish. And America is prepared to show the rest of the world the way forward.

Thank you very much.

END 12:08 P.M. EST

Why Not Pay Politicians to Do What You Want Them to Do?

Filed under: National Politics

The National Review, among others chimed in on President Obama’s call to politicize the gun control debate following the recent shooting spree in Oregon. From the article:

But ultimately Obama was just paying lip service to an ideal he does not live by. He’s not about to try building consensus on gun policy among people of good faith. He’ll take the same approach he’s taken throughout his presidency: He’ll delegitimize opponents of his sweeping agenda as irrational, self-interested enemies of decency and progress.

This kind of back and forth is good for political pundits of every stripe because it guarantees the debate will continue with nothing really changing.

But as we learn in this MapLight report, the most reliable way to influence a politician’s vote on an amendment concerning gun control is simply to pay them to vote a certain way.
A quick glance at this table shows that legislators received no money from groups that supported Senate Amendment 715—To Protect Second Amendment Rights, Ensure That All Individuals Who should Be Prohibited from Buying a Firearm Are Listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and Provide a Responsible and Consistent Background Check Process.
In all but a very few exceptions, politicians who accepted money from the gun lobby voted against the Amendment.
Presidential candidate Ted “Machine Gun Bacon” Cruz received $89,329 and voted “no.” Presidential candidate Marco “No Show” Rubio received $76,089 and voted “no.” Senate majority leader Mitch “The Rifleman” McConnell received $72,300 and voted “no.”
Mitch McConnell, Rifleman

Mitch McConnell, Rifleman

The takeaway is that money talks and bullshit walks. Gun control advocates should not get bogged down in ideological arguments with people whose opinions are bought and paid for. Why not just raise the money and pay these politicians whatever it takes to vote for gun control laws?

Fosdick Field Plans Announced Today; Meanwhile, BMHA Already Trying to Sell the Land

photoAbove is a photo taken this morning of the big, grassy field in front of City Honors School—currently owned by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. BMHA bought the land from the city for $15,000 in 1977 and constructed the long-dilapidated and recently demolished Woodson Gardens housing complex there.

Looking good, BMHA!

Looking good, BMHA!

With the land now cleared again, there has been a movement afoot to return it to its original use as an athletic field for both the school and the neighborhood—which is starved for green space. Adjacent to the medical campus, the real estate is now appraised at $2.1 million, despite containing human remains from when it was used as a potter’s field in the 1800s.

Construction of the field is estimated at $2.9 million. According to speakers at today’s press conference, the money would need to come from a combination of public and private investment. Visit to learn more about the plans and view a virtual tour of the restored green space.

You can also click here to sign a petition calling for the restoration of historic Fosdick Field.

Here’s the catch: The BMHA has already put the land on the market, asking for $2,137,000. Although BMHA officials did not return calls and emails requesting comment, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spokesman Charles McNally was quick to confirm that the real estate is currently for sale.

“Once they receive an offer, they will submit an application to HUD for formal approval to dispose of the land,” McNally said.



The restoration of the field is endorsed by:

Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Fruitbelt Neighborhood Coalition

UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Buffalo-Niagara Partnership

Orchard Community Initiative

City of Buffalo Preservation Board

Cornerstone Manor/Buffalo City Mission

UB School of Clinical and Translational Research Center

City Honors Parent, Teacher, Student Community Organization (PTSCO)

Macedonia Chruch

Preservation Buffalo-Niagara

PUSH Buffalo

Fosdick-Masten Park High School Alumni Association

WNY Land Conservancy

Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Buffalo Olmsted Parks

Kaleida Health

Hauptman-Woodward Institute

Kiwanis Buffalo

City Honors School Alumni Association



Stonewall Democrats of WNY Issue Open Call for Rally

Pride-FlagThis just in…

Stonewall Democrats of Western New York and the greater WNY LGBTQ and allied community will hold a rally at 5pm the day the Supreme Court of the United States releases their decision on Obergefell v. Hodges, which will decide whether states must constitutionally issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

We will be rallying—regardless of the decision—in front of El Museo Gallery, 91 Allen Street, Buffalo at 5pm the day of the decision. Please bring any signs, flags, family and friends—but most importantly your pride to rally with us and celebrate our community.

We hope to see you there!

Congratulations Adam Zyglis!

Upon hearing that Buffalo News editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis won the Pulitzer Prize, we dug up a few examples of the work he did here for Artvoice in the summer of 2004—before stepping into the big shoes of Tom Toles at the daily paper in August of that year. (Click on the images for a larger view.)






Congratulations, kid! Ya done good.

Elizabeth Warren Tells The Truth About Washington


United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) Massachusetts recently asked on the floor of the Senate:

“Who does Congress work for? Does it work for the millionaires, the billionaires, the giant companies with their armies of lobbyists and lawyers, or does it work for all the people”?

Warren made this statement while discussing the $1.1 trillion federal spending bill that funds the government through September of next year. The 1603 page legislation caused an interesting group of conservative/ tea party and liberal Senators to complain about corporate welfare.

One of the items contained in the bill was language drafted by Wall Street lobbyists that deleted part of the Dodd Frank legislation passed in 2010 to address the fiscal crisis that occurred back in 2007.

The removal of a key part of the Dodd Frank legislation was moving along quietly with Democratic and Republican support until Senator Elizabeth Warren drew attention to the issue. Elizabeth Warren represents a new populist politics challenging the power of corporate special interests. Warren is the first major national politician in decades who is willing to openly challenge the power of Wall Street. Her speeches advocating for average Americans are inspiring and long overdue.

Americans know that government is rigged against them and that politicians are bought and paid for by wealthy special interests. As jobs and incomes decline for average Americans, Wall Street is able to get legislation passed to bailout their risky investments with taxpayer dollars. Americans want someone to stand up for them and to champion their interests.

Elizabeth Warren is telling the truth about Washington and it is about time that someone had the courage to do so.

To read more about the Dodd Frank legislation and Wall Street’s attack on it, check out the article in Artvoice below:

New York State Bans Fracking

526767373Over two years in the making, the New York State Department of Health document A Public Health Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Development was released today.

Click here to read the 184-page report.

Undaunted by the health department study, Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) has this to say.

He was recently quoted in the Buffalo News: “I’m going to do what I can on Oversight to make sure we have testimony that is factual and data-driven to say that there is no reason not to hydrofrack in New York.”

Looks like he won’t be able to use the new review from the health commissioner of his home state to bolster his foregone conclusion.

Meanwhile, Chip Northrup, whose No Fracking Way blog has been laying bare the public health and economic reasons NOT to frack New York has this to say about today’s developments, via email:

Frankly, if there was anything worth fracking in New York, they would have come to a different conclusion. So we went out of our way to demonstrate that there’s nothing worth fracking. And Martens said as much in the announcement—if you take the likely productive area and net out the bans and the DECs regulations, there’s simply not much left to fool with it. So they are going to fool with it, politically, environmentally and economically. The surprise is that they said as much at the meeting.

Everybody in the industry knows this. The PR flaks will just spin it the other way.

Read his recent post here.

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