Department of the Interior

Up in the Air

LATE ON THE MORNING of July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart climbed into the cockpit of her Lockheed Electra airplane on a small grass runway in Lae, New Guinea. She was 22,000 flight miles into her daring attempt to fly around the world, a journey that had captivated Americans since she lifted off from Miami a month earlier. Now Earhart was facing the most dangerous leg of the trip: a 19-hour, 2,556-mile flight to a tiny speck in the Pacific Ocean known as Howland Island. Earhart’s celebrity had grown formidable in the decade since her transatlantic flight, the first ever by a female pilot.

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Man Versus Wild

The earthquake and potential nuclear catastrophe in Japan have brought home a set of questions that have haunted philosophers for hundreds of years—and have played an important role in American politics for over a century. They have to do with the relationship between humanity and nature—not nature as “the outdoors,” but as the obdurate bio-geo-physiochemical reality in which human beings and other animals dwell. To what extent does nature set limits on human possibilities?

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Paul Krugman: he managed (with a lot of help from Nancy Pelosi) to enact a health reform that, imperfect as it is, will greatly improve Americans’ lives — unless a Republican Congress manages to sabotage its implementation. But progressive disillusionment isn’t just a matter of sky-high expectations meeting prosaic reality. Threatened filibusters didn’t force Mr. Obama to waffle on torture; to escalate in Afghanistan; to choose, with exquisitely bad timing, to loosen the rules on offshore drilling early this year. Then there are the appointments.

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Andrew Restuccia passes along an update on the ever-elusive energy bill.

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In any case, the nations with which Barack Obama seems to think he clicks are not especially respected (or liked) by the people he represents. And these presidentially favored nations don't really seem to respect either him or us. Basta with the Muslim orbit. Obama wants to run after Recip Tayyit Erdogan let him.   Frankly, I believe that the Anglophobia of the administration is a much over-estimated quantum. By the time you read this, moreover, the president and David Cameron will have had whatever set-to they were destined to have, or not to have.

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How many times in the past year have journalists written some variant of, "Hey, we should be getting an energy bill sometime in the next week"? Too many to count, right? So it's probably unwise to make any bold predictions this time around. But Senate Democrats do seem to be getting closer to unveiling a brand-new energy bill, with the aim of getting it passed before the August recess. What's going to be in it? Well, that's the tricky part. No one knows for sure. Harry Reid's office is trying to cobble something together this week, and there's a lot of guessing.

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In the summer of 2008, Democrats had a serious oil problem. Just as the presidential primaries were winding down, gas prices were soaring toward $4 per gallon. Anxious voters were watching their budgets gobbled up by fuel costs, while truck drivers were protesting across the country—at one point circling the Capitol in hornhonking caravans. Republicans were dominating the message war: Newt Gingrich had just launched his “Drill Here, Drill Now” campaign, gathering more than 1.3 million signatures.

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My hunch is that the hemorrhaging of oil in the Gulf of Mexico won't end until...well, until it ends. By which I mean until the last drop rises to the surface and there is no more below. No, I don't know when that will be, and neither apparently do the hot shot execs at what President Obama (in another swipe at London) called British Petroleum or. for that matter, the president himself. Of course, no one really does.

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Take your pick on what's most infuriating about the oil crisis in the Gulf. There's the growing evidence that the platform blowout that caused all that crude to erupt out of the ocean floor was entirely preventable and should never have happened in the first place. BP cut corners on safety to save money, and regulators barely seemed to care.

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At the Rose Garden on Friday, President Obama finally showed some "anger and frustration" over the ballooning oil disaster in the Gulf. To wit: “For too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill. It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies.

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