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Open Thread: Obama in Cambridge

President Obama was in town yesterday, and I didn’t even know he was coming. I didn’t see anything about it when I was writing my news post yesterday, so I was surprised when one of my students told me about it. Obama was at MIT to visit labs that are working on green energy.

In a visit to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s energy labs, Mr. Obama said the nation that wins the global competition for scientific and engineering breakthroughs will lead the global economy.

“I want America to be that nation. It’s as simple as that,” Mr. Obama said to loud applause inside MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, where about 800 people, including some of the region’s top energy scientists and engineers, listened.

Before his address, Mr. Obama toured a research lab at MIT to see ongoing experiments on solar, battery, wind and LED lighting that included an experimental rooftop solar collector that concentrates sunlight on solar electric cells to increase their output.The president pointed to $80 billion in clean energy grants and investments distributed as part of the federal economic recovery program as helping fuel what he said will be a transformation to cleaner energy. That shift will increase national security, create jobs and combat global warming, he said.

I guess it pays to have a governor who is pals with the President, even if we here in Massachusetts aren’t that thrilled with him (Gov. Deval Patrick). Obama announced that the feds are building a new facility in Charlestown that will design and test new wind turbines to be used all over the U.S. It sounds like that could mean jobs. If Obama really creates green energy jobs, I’ll be the first to applaud his efforts. Although I’m wary of his promises, I’d like to believe that he really means to do this.

You can watch part of Obama’s MIT speech here.

WBUR public radio interviewed MIT students about the visit. They weren’t all that enthused about what Obama’s performance on energy so far.

After his whirlwind trip to the Boston area, Obama moved on to Connecticut to help embattled Senator Chris Dodd. You can watch video of that here.

This is an open thread.

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52 Responses

  1. Sounds like he did what he is ‘best’ (all relative) at: talk. When is this man ever going to do some ‘real’ work?

    • Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen!

    • He also did a whirlwind through NJ on Wednesday that didn’t get much advance coverage. But he tied up the GWB real good for a while making it hell for folks who live in NJ but work in NYC.

  2. Those MIT students are pretty perceptive!

    • I spoke with two college students at a dinner who seem to have Obama’s number this week. After the guest speaker, sitting at our table, mentioned that she supported Obama and was still “waiting,” the students spoke up. One said that she didn’t think it appropriate for Obama to be on every TV program i.e. Letterman…. She thought he should be a little more serious. Antother student spoke up saying that she had voted for him, but what she didn’t like was all of the adulation – like the Obama chia pet. She said that he was being treated like an idol. In my mind, “Bingo!” Not so much Kool-aid from the students at my table.

      • I spoke recently out against O at a dinner in London/UK- still makes you a bit of a pariah – well, you cant be loved by everyone!

        • I salute your courage! I generally just remain silent and suppress my anger and disgust.

          • The frustrating thing is that most people in Europe have no detailed knowledge abt US politics but regardless they have very strong opinions abt it based on hear-say (ie press – kool aid).

          • I usually say something like, “I just don’t get it. I don’t see the brilliance, it just all seems like hype to me.”… like I’m the dim one. Again, usually, people just shut up and move on to some other topic of conversation. I have yet to have anyone try to “show” me what I’m missing.

      • Hi Purplefinn! That’s really good to know. I’m glad the entire younger generation isn’t still drinking the Koolaid. It makes me feel so sad when I think of how all this financial stuff is going to affect my students.

  3. Have not followed closely what he does on climate…but it was slammed by the FT as way too tame….obviously Europe is massively further having already a carb emission trading program, quite a bit of windfarms (ultimately you must have sufficient windy spots), high taxes on gasoline, we recycle as a raison d’ etre…

    • I’m reading that the Obama administration is considering NOT going to Copenhagen, given that India has already said it will not sign anything that limits their economy’s growth. Paraphrased, they’re thinking that if it’s not a done deal, he won’t risk making an appearance at all.

      He WILL, however, make an environmental speech when he attends, and receives, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, cuz he CARES.

      I’m speechless, but not surprised.

      Wouldn’t wanna damage his “brand,” would we?

      • Would it be called the Copenhagen-Syndrome?

        • That’s a good one. I’m going to file that one in my memory banks.

          • O offers so much good material – problem is to decide if you want to use it for stand-up comedy, tragedy, or just to explain the behavior of a psychopath!

  4. I read in one of the papers back there that he also did a fundraiser for Gov. Patrick and they were having a hard time filling the place. Also, there were protesters–gay rights, Code Pink. They will never be en article said there were unions that weren’t happy with POTUS but decided not to protest.

    I’m all for green jobs. But they will never be enough to bring unemployment down.

    His mojo is wearing off.

    • Heard from friends in summer that people well pulling out of a gay fundraiser in NYC – well, spending your money on a cashmere sweater rather then O seems def a better investment into your future!

    • Obama was never all that popular in MA. Hillary beat him by 15% here in the primary, despite all the support he got from pols like Kennedy, Kerry, and Patrick. Apparently there were anti-war protests at his appearances here.

      • Hillary beat him by 10 points in California.

        She beat him in every big state except Illinois.

      • Except he was very popular in the Cambridge area, before the election. The town-by-town results showed that he did extremely well in all the latte-liberal towns (and smattering of DFH towns) that surround Boston, esp. to the immediate North and West. It was the rest of the state that gave Clinton her big margin.

        So it actually may be significant that he was in OFB central (MIT!) and taking some flack. I think the DFH have started to wake up that isn’t at all what they imagined he’d be.

        It’s also interesting that he tried to sabotage Paterson in NY but he’s gracing Patrick with his fundraising, who’s polls are sinking down towards late Bush-term levels. But then, Patrick didn’t buck his royalness’ choice for interim senator, either.

        • I heard his fundraiser for Deval Patrick wasn’t that successful, there were still tons of tix available.

          • I read that he raised 600K. I don’t know if that’s good or barely avarge

          • Yep, they’ve been sending out desperate emails “Tickets still available! Tickets still available! Errr, we mean…not that many. A few. Going like hotcakes. Please come!!!!” lol

        • Obama did well in the isolated pockets of latte liberals in the red states too.

          Hillary won the big states and swing states, Obama won the red states and small states.

          WTF?

          • Hillary won the primary in my big red state but Obama stole it in the ridiculous caucus portion of the TX 2-step.

            The Texas Observer is bemoaning that Hispanics didn’t come out and vote in the general election. They should be glad they didn’t vote cause their 2nd choice was McCain over Obama. The only reason they didn’t vote for McCain is because Hillary made a personal pitch for them not to do it.

            Sometimes the Observer liberals are really stupid.

  5. Fat chance he can do Dodd any good. In very civilized Connecticut I am seeing people with signs against Dodd along major highways. I’ve never seen that kind of activism around here before.
    Dodd is a dead duck.

  6. Funny how the anti-Fox warrior claims “bipartisanship” when interfering in the healthcare reform
    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/obama-vs-the-public-option-phony-bipartisanship/

    • Black Agenda Report has a good article calling the “fight” between Obama and the insurance companies/Wall Street/Chamber of Commerce (pick your corporate contributor) complete kabuki to protect Obama’s image.

      BAR says the real deals were made long ago through Obama’s staff/surrogates, and that everything now is just the agrred-to political dance.

      It’s quite spot on.

  7. Different topic – yesterday the distribution of cabinet posts in the new German gov’t were announced. A mixed bag . As expected the leader of the liberal party, Westerwelle, becomes new foreign minister, worthwhile to note – he is openly gay, re how good he will be in this position, opinions are divided.

  8. “Bay state liberals shun Obama” @ Boston Herald . com.

  9. Funny – Dead Economist Adam Smith Rants About Obama’s Energy Speech at MIT

    http://02e56fa.netsolhost.com/blog1/index.php/2009/10/24/adam-smith-rants-about-obama-s-energy-sp

    • http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=does-economics-violate-th

      The United States is held as the prime example. Though the United States is still the world’s third-largest producer of oil, its oil production stopped growing more than a decade ago and has flatlined or steadily fallen ever since. Other once-robust oil-producing countries have experienced similar production curves.

      But the more important indicator, biophysical economists say, is the fact that the U.S. oil industry’s energy return on investment has been steadily sliding since the beginning of the century.

      Through analyzing historical production data, experts say the petroleum sector’s EROI in this country was about 100-to-1 in 1930, meaning one had to burn approximately 1 barrel of oil’s worth of energy to get 100 barrels out of the ground. By the 1990s, it is thought, that number slid to less than 36-to-1, and further down to 19-to-1 by 2006.

      “If you go from using a 20-to-1 energy return fuel down to a 3-to-1 fuel, economic collapse is guaranteed,” as nothing is left for other economic activity, said Nate Hagens, editor of the popular peak oil blog “The Oil Drum.”

      “The main problem with neoclassical economics is that it treats energy as the same as any other commodity input into the production function,” Hagens said. “They parse it into dollar terms and treat it the same as they would mittens or earmuffs or eggs … but without energy, you can’t have any of that other stuff.”

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