Body Politic

Solar power gets hot, hot, hot and hotter

With so many homeowners and businesses making greener energy choices, private utilities — along with big oil, gas, coal, and nuclear companies — see the writing on the wall.

Unlike some other denizens of the fossil-fueled set, this gang isn’t beating oil wells into solar panels, retiring nuclear reactors, or embracing wind and geothermal power. Instead, these guys are trying to coax lawmakers into rigging the rules against increasingly competitive new energy alternatives.

Don’t fence me in: the problems with isolation

No job now,

Provides the pay,

To let me find,

A place to stay.

The prosperous are further isolating themselves physically, as well as economically, from the rest of us.

Wall Street v. jobs: The class war goes retail

For the first time since 1997, the U.S. economy just added at least 200,000 jobs per month for six months running. GDP grew at a 4 percent annual clip between April and June. The percentage of Americans who describe the economy as “good” has climbed to the highest level of President Barack Obama’s presidency.

Who wouldn’t rejoice over these happy milestones on the bumpy road to a real recovery?

Cleaning up our portfolios

Climate change may one day cause us to run low on food. Scientists don’t like to talk about it, but there’s a chance that the disruption we’ve caused by burning fossil fuels may even render life on Earth no longerviable for the human race.

Sure, that sounds grim. To cheer up think about this: No matter how hot it gets, this planet will never run low on clean energy.

The relentless sun will shine long after we’re all gone, the wind will always sweep across the plain, and the planet’s molten core seems good for at least a few more million years.

The end of pot prohibition as we know it

How much longer will it take before the United States declares a truce in the Drug War? This latter-day prohibition is taking an immense toll. And most Americans don’t want to jail those caught with small amounts of pot.

But it takes some courage to speak up. So thank you, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, for joining the swelling chorus that wants to see marijuana legalized. “The distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction,” Stevens said during an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon in April.

We need a better grip on climate change

Earth to climate change deniers: The vast majority of Americans are worried enough about global warming to want our government to help stop this scourge.

This good news for people who believe science should drive our climate policy comes from a series of surveys conducted by Stanford University. Even in so-called “red states,” a clear majority of Americans said government action was needed to stop man-made climate change — regardless of what other countries might do about it.

Washington gives peace a chance

It’s hard to get your mind wrapped around Russia’s annexation of Crimea and seizure of Ukrainian military bases there. It was — and many Ukrainians say still is — part of a neighboring sovereign country until mid-March.

And it seemed like Europe had transcended that kind of old-school warmongering.

Just two years back, the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to the European Union for ending such conflict on its own turf and “for over six decades (contributing) to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”

Easy come, easy go.

Every step you take, under scrutiny

You may have noticed that a number of countries are angry at the United States. It’s that Edward Snowden thing. Spying has suddenly provided a convenient horse for foreign leaders to ride in venting their simmering frustration at being constantly pushed around by Washington.

Our “exceptionalism” has long stuck in their craw, but the thick web of entanglements that binds the world together until now has kept them from grousing too much about Washington’s heedless actions.

The Medical-Industrial Complex

Getting well

Takes lots of pluck,

With health guys out

To make a buck.

As the Obama administration struggles to keep rolling out its landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amid partisan squabbling, the shortcomings of American health care are more evident than ever.

Our system is very different from other countries: It’s worse.