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David Leonhardt knows that it may be snowing outside, but that's not the big problem.
The stronger argument for a major government response to climate change is the more obvious argument: climate change. The continental United States endured its hottest year on record in 2012, and the planet’s 13 hottest years have all occurred since 1998. Major storms and wildfires are increasing in many regions. The air in much of China resembles soup. The seas are rising faster than forecast only a few years ago, and the costs of extreme weather are rising, too.

In Washington, the economic case for responding to climate change has made little progress, with Democrats failing to pass a sweeping bill when they controlled Congress and Republicans remaining strongly opposed. And President Obama has subtly shifted his approach, talking less about green jobs and more about extreme weather.

As he prepares to deliver the first State of the Union address of his second term, on Tuesday night, he and his advisers face some big decisions on climate policy.

We've just come through an election in which climate change got close to zero attention, but we can't stay there. It's the planet, stupid. Everything, every issue, needs to be considered against its effect on the climate.

Timothy Egan thinks Sally Jewel is a fine choice for Interior, and a welcome change.

Don’t expect to see Sally Jewell, who is President Obama’s nominee for Interior secretary, in a showy Stetson. Running shoes, yes. Climbing helmet, of course. Cycling tights, no doubt. If confirmed, Jewell would be one of the few directors of that vast department to actually share the passions of the majority of people who use the 500 million acres of public land under Interior’s control. ...

Obama, following down the ravaged path of George W. Bush, has made it easy for oil and gas drillers to industrialize huge swaths of land that are owned by every citizen. About six million acres have been leased to drillers in the last four years; a total of 44 million acres are under lease now.

Bush made oil and gas drilling his number-one priority for Interior’s lands. Obama has not significantly altered that course.

“We are drilling all over the place,” Obama said in defense of his policies during the presidential campaign. At the same time, less public land has been permanently protected under Obama than by any of the prior four presidents. ...

Sally Jewell would be the first woman chosen to join a second-term cabinet dominated by white males. But she also represents a different kind of diversity inside the Beltway: someone who can tell you which way the wind is blowing without having to fake it.

More punditry behind the curtain...

Maureen Dowd is happy to see that Bush 43 has found a hobby, but less happy about invasion of privacy, and other technological terrors.

Images of W.’s tasteful nude self-portraits went viral after being published on the Smoking Gun Web site on Thursday; they were stolen from his sister Doro’s e-mail account by a hacker called Guccifer, who is now being investigated by the Secret Service for pillaging three years of Bush family e-mail. ...

The rule of thumb in Washington used to be: Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want to see printed on the front page of The New York Times. The new rule is: Don’t send an e-mail you wouldn’t want to see printed on the front page of The New York Times.

David Cole got the memo, but that doesn't mean he has to like it.
There are plenty of problems with President Obama’s targeted killings in the war against terrorism: The policy remains secret in most aspects, involves no judicial review, has resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians, has been employed far from any battlefield and has sparked deep anti-American resentment in countries where we can ill afford it.

But when it comes to the particular legal issue raised in a recently leaked “white paper” from the Justice Department — namely, whether it is legal to kill Americans with drones — one problem looms largest: The policy permits the government to kill its citizens in secret while refusing to acknowledge, even after the fact, that it has done so.

Executing citizens without trial in advance or even acknowledgement afterwards. There just might be a problem here.
When Argentina’s military junta secretly abducted and killed its citizens during that country’s “dirty war” in the 1970s, the world labeled these acts “disappearances” and condemned them as violations of human rights. A disappearance is not just an abduction or killing, but an unacknowledged abduction or killing. To “disappear” citizens not only deprives them of their liberty or life without fair process but is deeply corrosive of democratic politics, casting a shadow of fear over all.
Drones are going to get a lot of attention on this page today. Consider reading all this article as your warm up exercise.

Dana Millbank also writes on the subject of drones, but being Dana Millbank, is more interested in tossing rhetoric than being accurate. Consider this one optional.

Leonard Pitts wonders if its possible to take the crazy out of the GOP.

So obvious has this devolution become that even Republican stalwarts have been heard to decry the parody of a party the GOP has become. ...  Karl Rove has started a super PAC whose mission is to keep the more, colorful candidates from winning Republican primaries. Politico also quotes what it calls a high-profile strategist who said party leaders are now trying to “marginalize the cranks, haters and bigots” they until recently portrayed as courageous truth tellers.

There’s more. Fox “News,” for many years the communications arm of the GOP, just ditched two of its fieriest firebrands: Dick Morris and Sarah Palin, who, like Linus in the pumpkin patch, kept assuring true believers of the Great Pumpkin of a Mitt Romney victory.

But of course, Republican leaders don't actually plan to implement sensible policies. If that was their aim, they'd be Democrats. And if you actually kicked all the nuts out of the current GOP, they could hold their next convention in a phone booth.

Brian Doherty wonders what the racist... um gold standard whack jobs... er, libertarian wing of the Republican Party might do when deprived if Ron Paul. The answer? They'll ask Rand Paul.

Donald Yoeman warns that what was bad for the dinosaurs could also be bad for us.

On Feb. 15, an asteroid designated 2012 DA14 will pass safely within about 17,200 miles of Earth’s surface — closer than the communication satellites that will be broadcasting the news of its arrival. The asteroid is about 150 feet in diameter and has a mass estimated at about 143,000 tons.

Should an object of that size hit Earth, it would cause a blast with the energy equivalent of about 2.4 million tons — or 2.4 megatons — of TNT explosives, more than 180 times the power of the atomic blast that leveled Hiroshima.

if that doesn't sound scary enough, near Earth asteroids come in larger sizes. Much larger. But we're learning more about these objects and if all goes as planned, we'll get to some of them before they ever get close to Earth.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:07 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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