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Archive for August, 2012

Will there be blood?

August 31st, 2012

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This piece was originally featured in Politico.

Will there be blood?

The question sounds far-fetched. But consider the extreme hatred that seems to be driving American politics right now. Case in point: A judge in Texas warned that a “civil war” was possible if President Barack Obama is reelected.

Partisan hatred is nothing new. We had plenty of Bill Clinton-haters in the 1990s and George W. Bush-haters in the 2000s. Clinton-haters resented Clinton because of his values. Obama-haters, however, go one step beyond. They assert Obama’s not a real American. That’s what the birther movement is all about.

Some delegates here at the Republican National Convention are wearing T-shirts saying, “I am pro-American, anti-Obama.” That defines Obama as … anti-American. Read the rest of this entry »

Flywheels over Failure

August 29th, 2012

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Over the past year, American clean energy companies have found themselves in the often-unwanted spotlight of Congress. If you only paid attention to what was being said in Washington, you’d think that the entire clean energy sector was going belly up. Fortunately, that’s not the case. The solar sector is booming, with rooftop installers raising capital and growing sales exponentially. New electric vehicles from Toyota, Ford, and BMW will soon join Tesla, Chevrolet, and Nissan in showrooms across the US. Wind power accounted for 1/3 of new electricity generation added in the US in the past year. And even an energy storage company cited by Congressional critics as an example of the failure of federal clean energy policy is on the comeback.

The return of Beacon Power from bankruptcy is important to understand for people interested in the clean energy sector. Beacon Power provides energy storage by spinning massive flywheels, a technology that’s been proven for centuries. In our modern grid, though, flywheel energy storage provides the ability to quickly provide power, stabilizing the grid during peak demand while more generation, like natural gas plants, is brought on line. While flywheels weren’t generally used for grid scale storage before Beacon Power, the company was offering what the grid needed as more wind and solar were added to our energy mix. The Department of Energy agreed, giving it a $43 million loan guarantee. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Todd Akin hurts Mitt Romney

August 27th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on Politico.

Rep. Todd Akin doesn’t look like he’s going away. And that’s a problem for Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican nominee. Akin’s open defiance makes Romney look like a figurehead.

After Romney joined other Republican Party leaders urging Akin to step down as the Republican Senate candidate in Missouri, Akin told the nominee to mind his own business. “Don’t you think he may have built this thing up and made a bigger deal about it than he needed to?” Akin said on Sean Hannity’s radio show. “Why couldn’t he run his race and I’ll run mine?” Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Smaller Government, Stupid.

August 22nd, 2012

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This piece was originally featured on the Huffington Post.

Smaller government. That’s the big theme Mitt Romney has chosen to run on. It’s why he chose Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate. Ryan makes the strongest case for smaller government since Ronald Reagan. But will it sell?

Election campaigns are driven by market research. The party out of power has to figure out what voters want that they are not getting from the incumbent. If the opposition campaign gets it right, they win. Examples: “Order” in 1968 (LBJ couldn’t provide it, Richard Nixon ran on it). “Morality” in 1976 (Nixon couldn’t provide it, Carter ran on it). “Empathy” in 1992 (George H.W. Bush didn’t seem to have any, Bill Clinton felt your pain). Read the rest of this entry »

China Laughs, New England Cries, Over Attacks on Clean Energy

August 20th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

Last week, two next-generation battery manufacturers in the Boston area announced major investments from Chinese firms.

Good news?

Yes, if your goal is to grow the Chinese economy. The deals for A123 Systems and Boston-Power will result in major technology transfers to China and likely lost American jobs. The deals are the result of a campaign by Tea Party Republicans to kill the U.S. clean energy industry in its cradle. That’s because the GOP Congressional leadership appears more interested in turning clean energy into a wedge issue than in having America win what energy market analysts see as a $2.3 trillion dollar global market within the next decade. Read the rest of this entry »

Can Paul Ryan sell austerity?

August 13th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on Politico.

Can Republicans sell austerity? That’s the message Mitt Romney is sending by naming Paul Ryan as his running mate.

The Ryan move signals a major redefinition of the Romney campaign. It’s no longer about creating jobs and turning around the economy. It’s about fiscal discipline and turning around the budget. That’s Ryan’s calling. He is, after all, chairman of the House Budget Committee. Read the rest of this entry »