Monday, June 14, 2010

The Week Ahead

President Obama returns to the Gulf Monday, for meetings and observations in several states, staying overnight in Florida and returning to Washington Tuesday evening, where he will give his first Oval Office address to the nation of his presidency at 8 pm. That gives instant pundits way too much time to advise him on what he must say. But since I'm on record here advising that he make such an address, let me state the obvious. He needs to talk about four things: (1)what the government is doing and will do to stop the oil gusher, (2) what the government is doing and will do to deal with the effects of the oil and chemicals (preventing further damage as much as possible to the Gulf, the wetlands and beaches, as well as compensation and restoration); (3) what the government is doing and will do to prevent such disasters in the future by real federal scrutiny and enforcement, and (4) how this catastrophe relates to the need for getting serious about transitioning to a clean energy economy and efforts to address the Climate Crisis, specifically in the climate and energy legislation now in Congress. That's a tall order for the rumored length of fifteen minutes, so I hope he speaks at greater length.

Meanwhile, next week may see the first storm of the hurricane season, now developing (and designated 92L.). Jeff Masters of Wunder Blog doesn't expect it to become a full hurricane nor get close to the Gulf, but it is unusually early, in waters that are unusually warm: "However, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) underneath 92L are an extremely high 28 - 30°C, which is warmer than the temperatures reached during the peak of hurricane season last year, in August - September. In fact, with summer not even here, and three more months of heating remaining until we reach peak SSTs in the Atlantic, ocean temperatures across the entire Caribbean and waters between Africa and the Lesser Antilles are about the same as they were during the peak week for water temperatures in 2009 (mid-September.)"

Another story that began last week and is likely to continue this week involves Alvin Greene, the complete unknown who won the Democratic primary for U. S. Senator in South Carolina, despite being an accused felon and without having done any noticeable campaigning. Questions of who sponsored his candidacy and whether he is a GOPer plant are likely to get more pointed, but the most interesting question so far is: why didn't anybody notice this guy before he won? One convincing answer is that nobody was being paid by a newspaper or a news network to watch that campaign. The major South Carolina newspaper has specifically cut back its on the ground political campaign reporting, and this (notes Walter Shapiro) is a general trend. The lack of actual reporting is also why there is so much opinion and punditry, because it's apparently only cost effective to guess, and otherwise bloviate. Bloggers don't seem to be picking up the slack either. It seems that there's no substitute for paid reporters and experienced editors who report, not because it makes them feel good, but because it's their job.

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