The folks over at Big Think have just posted a recent interview with President Jimmy Carter. (Watch an excerpt below.) They offered MoJo a chance to ask a question of the man from Plains, and we passed the opportunity on to our readers. MoJo Facebook friend Aaron Parr suggested asking Carter about his July 1979 "crisis of confidence" speech, in which he urged Americans to embrace energy conservation and alternative energy sources as a means to kick start the economy and their flagging sense of civic pride. "The solution of our energy crisis," he concluded, "can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country."
It's often called the "malaise" speech, though Carter never uttered that word. For better and for worse, Carter's decision to use his bully pulpit to deliver a sober reality check became one of the definining episodes of his single term. Reading the speech today, it's remarkably—and depressingly—relevant. Which prompted Parr to ask the 39th president, "Has America failed to adequately address the problems you laid out in your 1979 'crisis of confidence' speech?"
Watch Carter's full response to Parr's question below the jump. Here's an excerpt, in which he discusses China's ascendency in the alternative energy market and his iPad (!):
We’ve become increasingly addicted to consumption of goods that we don’t produce ourselves, and a lot of the manufacturing has gone overseas…When I was in office, we had the pre-eminent position in the production of alternative sources of energy—windmills, and photovoltaic cells, things of that kind. Now that ascendancy has moved to China. China's the number one producer of new kinds of advanced photovoltaic cells, for instanced. And they are the number one producers of advanced windmills to utilize the power from the sun and directed through the wind. So we’ve lost that edge that we used to have in scientific innovation applications to goods to be sold. In many ways, that is also changing in the electronic field. Almost all of the materials that we use now are of advanced technology, I have an iPad and also an iPod, both of which are made in China. Although we have designed them here with Apple, for instance, they are manufactured overseas.
The new class of congressional Republicans may be the most right-wing ever. But they've already got lots of conservative company on the Hill. A sampling of vote ratings from a handful of groups—nonpartisan, liberal, and conservative—from the past decade shows that GOP lawmakers have been shifting away from the center more dramatically than Democrats or Congress as a whole.
Though gerrymandering is nearly as old as the Republic—its namesake was early 19th century Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry (pronounced "Gary," if you please)—it's never really been a hot-button issue for voters. Gerrymandering seeks to change that with an entertaining yet outraged look at the odd practice of letting politicians pick their voters. Just consider the case of Barack Obama, who got a major career boost when he helped redraw the boundaries of his mostly black Illinois state Senate district so it represented white liberals.
A bipartisan cast of talking heads, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Howard Dean, make the case for reform. But Gerrymandering walks the boundary between documentary and political ad: Just as I received a review DVD at work, I also received a copy at home—mailed to me and other Golden State voters by the backers of a redistricting reform proposition.—Dave Gilson
One night in August 2006, a tanker chartered by Trafigura, a British oil trader, anchored off the Ivory Coast and illegally unloaded 500 tons of toxic waste into Abidjan's landfills. The pungent, blistering sludge killed 16 and hospitalized more than 100,000. Director Bagassi Koura's short documentary skillfully chronicles how Trafigura dodged environmental regulations to save a mere $300,000, only to spend millions trying to cover up its responsibility.
What makes The Stinking Ship so heartbreaking are the stories of the people still living with the effects of the "Ivorian Chernobyl," which has yet to be fully cleaned up. A community leader laments, "When it rains or it's windy, frankly we can't live in the village. The stench reaches far beyond it. We are walking dead." —Titania Kumeh
California's "green rush" has inspired a slew of above-ground businesses that cater to marijuana growers. Here's where budding hempreneurs can...
LEARN HOW TO GROW. With campuses in Oakland and L.A., Oaksterdam University ("America's first cannabis college") teaches everything from Horticulture 101 to Patient Relations (formerly called "Budtending").
SET UP A GROW HOUSE.Good Green Builders, "the first licensed, commercial grow room contractor in the Bay Area," assures clients that "the whole process will be completed with the utmost discretion." If your indoor harvest fails to thrive, get advice from pros like Green Thumb Consulting and See Your Green.
GET INSURED. What if your crop burns down or gets ripped off by the competition? Statewide Insurance Services sells policies for "medical marijuana crop coverage" and "mobile grow operations."
STAY VIGILANT. Monitor your grow with temperature sensors and motion detectors sold by Ecoview Systems; in the event of a fire or a break-in, you'll get an email alert.
MAINTAIN QUALITY CONTROL. Labs like Oakland's CW Analytical Laboratories will sample your product for harmful biological or chemical agents. And while the USDA won't go there, Clean Green will certify your crop as organic.
FOLLOW THE SHOP TALK. Check out Rosebud, "your one source for everything hydroponics from wickedly effective growing info to the lifestyle and freedom that surrounds it," a glossy dedicated to indoor "crop" cultivation. If you want a magazine that's not afraid to mention pot, there's West Coast Cannabis.
COULD THE RECESSION KILL THE WAR ON POT? That's the theory put forward by Euan Wilson in a 2009 paper (PDF) in The Socionomist, which suggests a connection between America's economic climate and our attitudes toward marijuana: When we're flush, we can "afford" to focus on "black and white moral issues"; in tough times, we're more tolerant of pot. Wilson predicts that the sluggish economy will cause a critical mass of support for legalization, just as the Great Depression soured Americans on Prohibition. More fodder for his hypothesis: In November, a ballot measure to legalize pot in cash-strapped California did surprisingly well, getting 46 percent of the vote.