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Trump’s Promise to be America’s Most Dangerous, Divisive President

Today, both President Obama and President-Elect Trump have urged America to keep calm and united. But despite these overtures, many Americans are experiencing a sensation akin to shock following one of the nastiest, most vitriolic elections in American history. One in which Trump repeatedly scape-goated women and minorities in a bald attempt to pander to some of the most harmful social undercurrents existing in our country.

Given the ugly tone of Trump’s campaign and his loss in the popular vote by 200,000 and growing despite apparent wins in the electoral college, Americans and people abroad alike now feel a very valid sense of deep concern for the future of a fractured Nation and an increasingly threatened world. For what Trump has pledged and promised to do during his Presidential campaign represents a very real risk of severe political, climatalogical, physical, and economic harm for this country, her people, and to the people and living creatures of this world.

(Berkley students chant ‘not my President!’ in protest walk out on November 9th. Across America and the world, similar protests were underway. Michael Moore, meanwhile, was urging continuous acts of civil disobedience in opposition to Trump’s election. Currently, over 100,000 people are protesting in New York City alone.)

Disturbing Threats to Jail Political Opponents

Threatened with incarceration for presumed crimes no-one has convicted her of, Hillary Clinton must be among those feeling the shock. Trump threatened to jail her if he was elected President. And many of his followers took up the cry — posting ‘jail Hillary’ signs on the sides of roads or demanding unjust incarceration of a political opponent loudly on twitter.

Unfortunately, if Trump’s current diplomatic demeanor spoils, these election campaign threats could very easily turn real. Trump has the power to appoint a special prosecutor. The power to appoint an Attorney General who agrees with his views. The power to, in effect, ‘rig’ the judicial and prosecutorial system to favor his opinion that Hillary should be jailed.

Trump’s uttering of these words during the campaign has already been deeply damaging. Never before in modern memory has one U.S. Presidential opponent publicly threatened to jail another. But carrying out such an action would be as unprecedented as it would have a terribly chilling effect on U.S. democracy.

An Angry Finger on the Nuclear Button

As Clinton reflects on Trump’s threats to haul her off to trial, others around the world are looking fearfully back at the rage-filled rhetoric of a man who is soon to be equipped with the full might of America’s considerable arsenal. During the campaign, Trump claimed to ‘love war,’ asked, multiple times, during security briefings why the U.S. doesn’t use nuclear weapons, and pledged to ‘bomb the shit’ out of Isis and steal their oil. He’s expressed a desire to turn NATO into a protection racket meant to extort fees from allies. And he’s shown a disturbing affinity toward other aggressive leaders like Vladimir Putin.

If Trump’s belligerence and seeming lack of sense continues post-campaign, there’s a valid concern that he might order a nuclear strike with little in the way of provocation. The President does hold the nuclear codes. And though aides, advisers and a substantial military chain of command provide a buffer between a bad decision and disaster, the fact that a hot-headed Trump ignorant to the devastating consequences of the use of such weapons is the final say in the matter is a serious worry.

Killing Climate Treaties, Promoting Fossil Fuels

As nations around the world look to the U.S. with fear and concern, a number of climate bad actors stand to be empowered by a Trump Presidency. Trump has effectively pledged to cut all funding to climate science and renewable energy research and development. In one fell swoop, this action would remove NASA and NOAA’s ability to track climate change even as the main competitors to fossil fuels — wind, solar, and vehicle battery technology — are effectively stymied. It’s a 1-2 punch that would dramatically harm this nation’s already flagging resilience to a rapidly worsening global climate crisis.

Meanwhile, his board of energy advisers are hand-picked from these bad actor fossil fuel companies and include a long list of climate change deniers. Trump has pledged to bring back coal while heightening U.S. oil and gas production and consumption. He has also promised to kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan, de-fund the EPA, and back out of the Paris Climate Treaty.

earth-under-fire

(Trump, according to Joe Romm over at Climate Progress, appears likely to go down in history as the man who single-handedly pulled the plug on the potential for a livable climate. I agree with Joe’s lucid but stark assessment — without some kind of significant outside action, we are in a very tough spot now due to this set-back by Trump. We really have been given no rational cause to hope otherwise. Image source: Ring of Fire Network.)

Combined, these actions would have a devastating effect on the currently building but still not sufficient global response to climate change. Backsliding by the U.S. will likely also cost reduced commitments by such varied states as India and China even as other countries like the UK, Australia, and Canada are likely to take U.S. climate inaction as their own excuse to renege on past emissions reduction goals.

Overall, a Trump Presidency that follows through on its anti-stable-climate agenda could cost the world as much as 1-2 C in additional warming this Century (on top of what’s already locked in) by keeping the U.S. and other nations on a business as usual emissions path longer and essentially dismantling much of the progress that was achieved under the Obama Administration. To be very clear, current bad climate outcomes are occurring under just 1 C above 1880s level warming. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas reduction commitments under Paris are setting the world on a path to about 3 C warming by the end of this Century. Trump’s policies, when all is said and done, could easily push that to 4 C or more — which would be utterly devastating.

Prospects for escalating climate policies to achieve a less than 2 C warming this Century are now also pretty bleak as Trump rolls in. In my opinion, it would take a wholesale rebellion by energy investors through the necessary act of divestment in fossil fuel industries and reinvestment in renewables to achieve this goal — first by sapping the political power of the agencies that keep putting people like Trump into office and also by removing capital for current and future projects.

David Roberts over at Vox is rather less sanguine:

The truth is, hitting the 2-degree target (much less 1.5 degrees) was always a long shot. It would require all the world’s countries to effectively turn on a dime and send their emissions plunging at never-before-seen rates.

It was implausible, but at least there was a story to tell. That story began with strong US leadership, which brought China to the table, which in turn cleared the way for Paris. The election of Hillary Clinton would have signaled to the world a determination to meet or exceed the targets the US promised in Paris, along with four years of efforts to create bilateral or multilateral partnerships that pushed progress faster…

 That story is gone now. Dead. The US will not provide leadership — it will be an active, and very powerful, impediment. Under unified Republican leadership, progress on lowering emissions in the US will halt and reverse and US participation in international efforts to combat climate change will cease.

Deregulation + Trickle-Down Isolationism is Bad Economic Policy

Following the Great Recession, Obama and a number of effective economic leaders managed to save the world from complete financial disaster. Helpful polices by Obama and the democrats, including the maintenance of Wall Street oversight, now serve as a thin veil protecting the U.S. and the world from another financial collapse. However, Trump’s pledges to bring back pretty much all of the failed republican economic policies promoted by the Bush Administration that were so destructive while adding still more of his own trouble to the brew risks severe economic consequences.

Trump has pledged to deregulate Wall Street — enabling economic bad actors to have the same free reign that set up conditions for the financial crash back during 2008. He has threatened trade wars with China and other partners — a policy that would have a chilling impact on global markets. He and his republican allies have promoted policies that would hobble the Federal Reserve in ways that would deeply undermine the national economy. And he has promised to produce a massive tax cut for the wealthy while slashing supports for the faltering middle class and poor in this country — further worsening the systemic inequality that has already so deeply harmed and divided our nation.

Economist Paul Krugman is not optimistic — warning of a global recession arising from a Trump Presidency:

Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news. What makes it especially bad right now, however, is the fundamentally fragile state much of the world is still in, eight years after the great financial crisis… So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing has just happened.

While the threat of a new global recession may not be immediately imminent, Trump’s overall economic stance doesn’t provide much in the way of benefit to anyone but the super-rich while adding to the risk that bad actor financial agencies will again crash the markets at some near or long term future date.

Building the Wall

Related to this likely damaging set of economic views is Trump’s continued pledge to deport millions of Hispanics while erecting a physical barrier between the U.S. and Mexico. Following through with the promise would turn the U.S. into a closed society for the first time in its history as a nation even as it risks the economic collapse of a country along our southern border. And just the expectation of fallout after Trump’s election today has already sent the Peso into free-fall.

Historically welcoming to immigrants, U.S. innovation and competitiveness has been driven by a constant influx of new people, new cultures, new ideas. Trump, like the rest of us, hails from immigrant roots. Following through with such a walling off of our neighbors and the creation of a ‘fortress America’ would steer away from a policy of openness to neighbors that has lasted for the better part of two Centuries. And while trade agreements with Mexico should certainly be managed to keep the needs of the American people (and not international corporations) firmly in mind, a wholesale shutting off of our relationship with that large and developing neighbor would ultimately be harmful to U.S. interests.

No Electoral Mandate

In the spirit of unity, I’ve done my best to strike a conciliatory tone. But this is difficult when there is so much at stake and when so many greedy corporate hands are now ready to manipulate majority republican congressmen, senators, and the President. To be very clear, Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary. So this country didn’t elect Trump. As with Bush in 2000, the electoral college did the deed. This means that more people in this country wanted Hillary’s presidency and policies than those who wanted Trump’s agenda. As a result, Trump can claim no solid electoral mandate.

Overall, despite a pause in the hostilities coming from Trump, severe underlying policy dangers present themselves from a Trump Presidency. An enabling majority in Congress amplifies the risk that these dangerous policies will emerge and that an electorate that has been at least somewhat disenfranchised by Gerrymandering, voter suppression on the part of republicans, and overall intimidation and abuse, will continue to generate harmful and worsening fractures in American society. As with everything else, a worsening climate crisis further threatens to exacerbate these problems even as it generates serious issues all on its own. And the ushering in of yet one more climate change denier into office only serves to create more of a disconnect with public desires for renewable energy access and climate change related action.

Overall, this is a tragic day for America and the world. One with ever-more threatening clouds on the horizon.

Links:

Donald Trump Could Jail Hillary Clinton

Exxon Concedes it May Need to Declare Lower Value for Oil in the Ground

Economic Fallout From a Trump Presidency

Trump Lost the Popular Vote

Trump Already Having a Damaging Effect on Mexico

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to Climate Hawk

(Note this is RS post #1000. One that will live in infamy.)

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Republican Climate Change Denial is Blinding Our Ability to Observe the Arctic

Denial.

It’s all-too-often what happens to the powerful when they are confronted with the consequences of their own bad actions. It can best be said that denial is blindness — the willful inability to open one’s eyes to the tough reality of the world. In literature, we can see denial in the tragic sin of hubris and in the metaphor of Oedipus the King gouging his own eyes out as a result of his failure to come to terms with the warnings of prophecy.

In the psychological sense, denial involves the inability to cope with reality such that a person will act in an irrational fashion to the point of generating fantasies that the object of said denial does not exist. Behaviorally, this results in an increasing degradation of a person’s ability to confront or cope with the object of denial — to the point of ardent, irrational, and possibly destructive outbursts when faced with it.

Arctic sea ice loss.

Ever since 1979 an array of satellite sensors has allowed our scientists to directly observe the sea ice in the Arctic. Since that time, and as a human-forced warming of the world ramped up, the area which that ice covers has dramatically shrunken. So much so that by this year, 2016, there’s a risk that not only will a new all-time record low be reached, but that by the end of this summer almost all the ice in the Arctic Ocean will be melted out entirely. A risk that a new climate change related event will start to take shape in the Arctic. The blue ocean events.

Arctic Sea Ice Area

(Arctic sea ice area as measured by observational satellites and most recently by  F17. The bottom line of the graph measures days of the year. The left side of the graph measures sea ice area. The corresponding intersections determine sea ice area on any given day of a year in the record. The up and downward swoop of each line on the graph shows the seasonal variation of sea ice area for that given year. The blue line on the graph represents 1980 sea ice area. The dark gray line represents the 1979 to 2000 average. The red line represents the 2012 record low year. 2016, in black, shows a squiggle as F17 begins to fail in early March of this year — a year that could significantly beat 2012 as the worst melt year on record. The sensor is failing because it is old and needs replacement. A replacement that is now sitting in a warehouse due to republican-led satellite research funding cuts. Data source: NSIDC. Image source: Pogoda i Klimat.)

We will know whether or not such an event took place because there are satellites giving us an accurate picture of this critical and sensitive part of our world in real-time. In effect, these satellites grant us the gifts of sight, of foresight, and of forewarning too. They give us the ability to catch a glimpse of what waits over the horizon and affords us with the opportunity to act to avoid an ever-worsening catastrophe — should we have the wisdom to choose to do so.

Willful Blindness

Where does denial meet with Arctic sea ice loss? In the form of climate change denying republicans attempting again and again to cut and with-hold funding to NASA and NSIDC instruments that track what is an unprecedented and historic melt now ongoing. For ever since their coming to power in Congress in 2010, republicans have done everything they can to remove funding for the devices that provide a direct observation of the changes coming as a result of a human-forced warming of our world.

You can read about the recent history of republican attempts to blind the satellite eyes of science here in this comprehensive article by The Atlantic. Attempts that have finally played out in the increasing degradation of the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s ability to track sea ice area and extent during this crucial year. For as the critical Arctic sea ice observation sensor called F 17 begins to fail, a sensor that could replace it sits grounded — lacking funding to operate or launch it during a year in which the Arctic is likely to experience historic and wrenching changes. A year that has already experienced both record Arctic heat and record low sea ice coverage throughout both Winter and Spring with more records likely on the way.

What’s happened now, due to republican ties to fossil fuel industry and a related push to obliviate climate science that observes changes in the Earth, the atmosphere, the world’s ice and the oceans, is a degradation of climate and weather disaster preparedness. For the fossil fuel industry — which has come to completely dominate republican policy-making since at least the years of the Bush administration and which is the cause of pretty much all the harmful changes we now see in the world due to human-forced warming — the degradation of these sensors may help confuse the science and perhaps allow these dirty and dangerous interests to dump carbon into the atmosphere for a few more years or decades. Extending dirty industry profits and what has been a deleterious and corrupting political influence for a little while longer.

Beaufort Sea Ice Early Melt

(Beaufort sea ice in the Arctic is now melting and breaking up at least one month faster than it does during a typical year. Republicans and their fossil fuel allies may not want to hear or see this happening as it’s direct observational proof that the policies they’ve been pushing — drilling, fracking, coal burning, and suppression of renewable energy — are resulting in increasingly dramatic and dangerous changes to the Earth system and environment. So much so that they want to shut off the satellites that provide us with such critical observational data of what’s happening to our Earth and oceans in real time. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

For the rest of us, the loss of these sensors means the loss of a key piece of infrastructure — one that is critical to our climate resiliency. For if we cannot observe and predict trends in the Arctic, then we will come to be more and more at the mercy of dangerous changes now going on there. We will be increasingly caught by surprise by the changes that are now almost certainly bound to happen. And a growing number of us will fall into risk of being caught off guard. Of suffering from loss of property and, perhaps, injury or loss of life.

Willful and destructive blindness. That’s what happens when hubris rules in Washington. And for too long now we’ve suffered this republican climate change denial and its all-too-related fossil fuel based hubris. A plague that is now not only wrecking the world’s climate, but is degrading our ability to observe and respond to the dangerous and Earth-altering changes that are now taking place.

Links:

NOAA Says GOP Funding Cuts Would Halve The Performance of Severe Weather Forecasts

The Republican Push to Cut Climate Change Observational Research

The Arctic is Melting and Scientists Just Lost a Key Tool to Observe it

Republicans Slash Climate Funds

Satellite Data in Support of Climate Resilience

NSIDC

Pogoda i Klimat

Expanding Exxon Mobile Climate Change Denial Investigation

Hat Tip to Redsky

Toxic Interests: In Lead-up to Paris Summit, Conservative Politicians Around the World are Fighting to Kill Renewable Energy

We have seen the enemy and he is us.

‘He,’ in this case, is those among us now fighting an all-out war against government programs aimed at reducing the damage caused by human-forced climate change. And in this present time of ramping climate catastrophe, there is no excuse at all for this morally reprehensible activity. Yet, excuse or no, the foul actions of these shameless ignoramuses continue. For all around the world conservatives (called [neo] liberals in Australia) with ties to fossil fuel based industry continue to scuttle programs that would result in the more rapid adoption of renewable energy systems even as they undermine related initiatives to increase energy efficiency.

At a time when the world faces down a growing climate crisis — one that will have dramatically worsening impacts as the decades progress — these failed and corruption-born policies represent the most abhorrent of political activities. And as the world convenes to consider how best to lessen the danger posed by an unfolding global tragedy, there are many in power who are now actively working to increase that danger.

More than anything else, this corrupt group is fighting to enforce ramping dangers, an ever-broadening harm, and untold future tragedy.

Shutting Down Coal to Build Natural Gas in The UK

This week, the conservative government of the United Kingdom made what seemed to be an optimistic announcement. It now plans to phase out all coal generation by 2025. Because coal power generation is the worst of the worst among carbon polluters, this news was rather good. Good, that is, when one doesn’t take a look at the broader context of current UK energy policy. And taking that look, we find what could best be described as an utterly abysmal state of affairs.

wind_power

(Wind power, produced by these and many other majestic towers turning over the UK countryside, is a critical solution to human-based fossil fuel emissions and a target of conservative energy policies. Image source: British Wind Energy Association.)

Ever since coming to power this summer, the conservative government has consistently cut subsidies for renewable energy while providing subsidies for some of the worst polluting facilities imaginable. Recently, UK Energy Secretary Rudd received stark criticism for this move along with pointed words over related backward policies like the provision of subsidies for expensive and polluting diesel-electric generators. Pointed words that came from both politicians and scientists alike. One such scientist was chief of the UN’s environmental programme Jacqueline McGlade who recently stated in the Financial Times:

“What’s disappointing is when we see countries such as the United Kingdom that have really been in the lead in terms of getting their renewable energy up and going — we see subsidies being withdrawn and the fossil fuel industry being enhanced.”

So even as conservatives in the UK are phasing out coal, they are replacing it with oil and natural gas. Fossil fuel replacements for fossil fuels at the expense of both zero-carbon renewables and a climate capable of supporting human civilization. For both oil and gas are still major carbon emitters. Especially when one considers the UK conservatives’ intention of fracking the countryside in search of these dangerous fuels. A method of extraction that has proven to increase emissions of volatile methane gas. And each new gas or oil plant built will continue to pump carbon into the atmosphere for decades even as it risks having its production lifespan cut short as the damages caused by carbon pollution become ever more obvious.

From the Financial Times:

Ms Rudd told the Today programme she wanted to rewrite the rules of the scheme to encourage gas instead. She said: “We have a capacity market auction coming up. We are going to review it carefully afterwards and ensure we do get the new gas we need.”

Conservatives, in this case, who have ideologically (and ludicrously) campaigned against all subsidies have instead decided to subsidize the bad climate outcomes all while cutting funding for solutions.

Fighting Renewable Energy Subsidies, Clean Power Plan in the US

In the US, the situation is only slightly better. Slightly better in that conservatives do not currently hold the Presidency. That said, conservatives are still doing their damnedest to kill off practically every renewable energy program the United States has to offer.

In May, House Republicans presented a bill (HR 1901) that would completely kill off the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy in the US. This in contrast to a permanent wind Production Tax Credit proposed by Obama. Meanwhile, the same Republican clowns who bring snowballs into the halls of Congress as supposed proof that global warming isn’t happening repeatedly try to de-fund the PTC for both wind and solar at each and every new budget session.

And it’s primarily due these efforts on behalf of fossil fuel backers by Republicans that the PTC is set to expire again by 2017. A move that will inject volatility into the renewable energy markets and bite into what has been an amazing period of growth by both Wind and Solar energy across the US. Growth that has happened despite Republicans’ apparent best efforts to halt it (see Paul Krugman’s Enemies of the Sun).

US Solar Energy Adoption rate

(US Solar energy adoption rates continued to soar in 2015, jumping to 40 percent of all new installed energy capacity for the first half of the year. These great gains have occurred despite broad based assaults on public policies supporting the rapid adoption of this critical renewable energy source. Image source: US Solar Market Summary.)

Though the PTC represents the Federal Government’s big support program for wind and solar energy development, any program that would reduce carbon emissions falls under attack. Republicans, who have hypocritically spoken in favor of US energy independence, mount repeated attacks on increases in Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency Standards. Republicans incessantly assault the EPA and its underlying Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. But more recently, Republican attacks against EPA have focused on the underpinnings of Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The plan, which sets modest goals to reduce US carbon emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels through 2030, would also greatly increase the rate of US renewable energy adoption, force the early retirement of the worst polluting power plants, and push for further increases in energy efficiency. Exactly the kind of progress against human forced climate change and toward US energy independence that Republicans apparently abhor.

By contrast, there hasn’t been a bit of legislation supporting fossil fuels that Republicans haven’t loved. Republicans constantly call for ending the oil export ban — a move that would greatly benefit US-based oil corporations. They wholeheartedly support the polluting and groundwater destroying process that is fracking. They’ve repeatedly called for increased drilling of all kinds everywhere including offshore drilling, Alaska National Wildlife Refuge Drilling, and Arctic Ocean Drilling. And they continuously support the dirtiest, highest carbon emitting fuel sources imaginable such as Canada’s Tar Sands and Coal. In fact, Republicans support for coal extends to the point that they frequently pass bills like this one which would allow toxic fly ash the enter groundwater supplies.

At the State level conservative republicans have repeatedly attempted to ram through ALEC and Koch funded bills to roll back net metering laws and renewable energy targets (see Koch Brothers, Big Utilities Attack Solar Energy). All while attempting to open public lands and waters to every variety of drilling and coal mining.

But despite these broad based attacks, renewable energy in the United States continues to make major gains even as energy efficiency measures advance. Sadly, the pace of carbon emission reduction and related renewable energy adoption has been greatly slowed by these continuous attacks by conservative Republicans.

Australia — From Terrible to Not Much Better

In the Southern Hemisphere, recent years have seen a wholesale gutting of renewable energy based policies by the Tony Abbott government in Australia. Time and time again, Abbott (which like northern conservatives foists laizzez faire markets and supports destructive industries like fossil fuels) pushed for a roll back in Australia’s previously aggressive renewable energy adoption rate all while trying to breathe new life into a zombie coal mining, export and power industry.

By Summer of 2015 the situation had gotten so dire that solar energy industry leaders were calling Abbott’s actions a ‘vindictive crusade’ against the renewable energy industry. John Grimes, head of the Australian Solar Council, this July launched an attack on the Abbott government after Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation decided to stop funding new wind projects.

In a statement to the Saturday Paper, Grimes asserted:

“If Abbott continues this way, we’re [the solar industry] finished. We know that solar and other renewables are competing with coal, and Abbott is intent upon protecting that industry. So, this is our WorkChoices moment. We will be mobilising, and we’ll be campaigning in marginal seats. We’re starting to plan this now.”

RET cut

(During June of 2015, the Tony Abbott government cut Australia’s Renewable Energy Target [RET] from 41 gigawatts by 2020 to 33 gigawatts. Unfortunately, the new Prime Minister — Malcolm Turnbull — hasn’t moved to support previous, more aggressive targets. As such, Tony Abbott’s legacy of cutting renewable energy in favor of coal lives on. Image source: Renew Economy.)

By Fall, the Abbott government had fractured. This development likely in no small part due to campaigning by renewable energy supporters and those concerned about human caused climate change. The new head of the Australian Liberal Party (don’t let the name fool you, they’re just like conservatives everywhere else) Malcolm Turnbull, when considering past performance, might want to support cutting edge solar technology for Australia. However, in his first months as Prime Minister he appears to have done little but cowtow to his numerous coal industry supporting party colleagues.

As an example, Turnbull’s appointed Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel recently stated:

“My vision is for a country, a society, or world, where we don’t use any coal, oil, or natural gas, because we have zero-emissions electricity in huge abundance”.

But Turnbull, who is now being pushed by his political colleagues to make it illegal for environmentalists to sue coal companies if they open up new land to mining, felt the need to defend coal on the same stage by making the following and highly fallacious statement:

“If Australia were to stop all of its coal exports … it would not reduce global emissions one iota.”

Due to renewable energy’s popularity in Australia, due to Turnbull’s own likely affinity for the development of cutting edge wind and solar ventures, but also due to the terrible and intransigent institutional legacy of coal support in his party, the Turnbull government has come across as schizophrenic on the issues of renewable energy and climate change. On the one hand, some within Turnbull’s administration make statements like that of Dr. Finkel above. But when it comes to actual policy, Turnbull has continued to support many of the disastrous initiatives set forward by Tony Abbott. Which makes the Turnbull government look like it’s attempting to greenwash a facade over a rather ugly coal-ash face.

If Leaders Can’t Support Renewable Energy and Work to Halt Fossil Fuel Burning, Then They Need To Go

Though the UK, the US and Australia do not make up the entirety of the western world, the conservative anti-renewable energy and pro-fossil fuel sentiment represented in these three countries is wide-ranging. Such sentiment is common to conservative governing groups around the world — from Canada to Europe to New Zealand and beyond. In the western democracies of the world this crippling ideology is preventing a necessarily rapid push to adopt non-carbon energy and prevent the worst impacts of global climate change.

As we approach the Paris Climate Summit, we should be very clear on this one political issue of key importance. If these people continue to hold political power, we will not act rapidly or decisively enough. We will find ourselves overwhelmed by consequences as their delaying actions stymie any effective response. It is therefore crucial that the supporters of the fossil fuel industries of the world are removed from office. They have shown themselves for their true colors — they’ll continue to support these harmful and wretched fuels regardless of consequences, regardless of any, even the most extreme, risks to their own nations and to the nations of the world.

Links:

Top UN Scientist Criticizes UK Cuts To Renewable Subsidy

UK Coal Fired Plants to be Phased Out

Ministers Accused of Trying to Sneak Through New Fracking Rules

Methane Leaks Wipe Out any Benefit of Fracking

Republicans Fight to Repeal PTC for Wind

House Panel Passes Extenders Package Without PTC

Enemies of the Sun

The GOP Assault on Environmental Laws

The Clean Power Plan

GOP Attacks on Clean Power Plan Going Nowhere

163 Republicans Push for More Offshore Drilling

Republicans Push for Renewed Drilling in Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge

Republican House Passes Bill Forcing Keystone XL Approval for the 9th Time

Republican House Passes Bill That Would Allow Toxic Coal Ash to Enter Groundwater

Koch Brothers, Big Utilities Attack Solar Energy

US Solar Market Summary

Abbott’s Campaign to Kill the Renewable Energy Sector

Renew Economy

Australia Slashes its Renewable Energy Target by 20 Percent

 

 

How Job-Killing Republican Economic Philosophy Took Down the Twinkie

Let’s get this straight. Hostess was in trouble long before vulture capitalist hedge funds and equity firms came to roost over the carcass of one of America’s signature brands. The shift, by much of the American public, away from junk foods to more healthy nutrition, combined with Hostesses’ failure to diversify and leverage its brand put Hostess in a tough situation. But that didn’t kill Hostess. And it wasn’t the workers, whom hedge funds controlling Hostess blamed for the company’s downturn. It was the hedge funds and equity firms who decided their own enrichment was more important than responsibly transforming this iconic American corporation.

By 2009, Hostess had declared bankruptcy and was seeking a way to re-establish itself through changing and challenging market conditions. It was then acquired by the private equity firm Ripple Holdings and hedge funds Silver Point Capital and Monarch Capital. These firms then took company capital and credit that could have been used to diversify the brand and expand into new territory to instead enrich management through stock shares buybacks and through cuts in workforce benefits. In total, Hostesses’ 18,500 workers suffered through layoffs and three phases of pay and benefits reductions while executive compensation doubled and company development and competitiveness stagnated.

The equity firms holding Hostess were trying to force workers to endure another 8% cut in pay and a crippling 17% cut in benefits when, on November 9th, workers held a strike in an attempt to compel management to behave responsibly. Instead, equity and hedge fund holders of the company decided to break the company up and sell off its parts for even more profit. In the end, the vulture capitalist holders of Hostess blamed those they victimized — Hostesses’ workers.

But it seems that the equity firms and hedge funds now controlling Hostess can’t even play fair with the bankruptcy. Today the US Department of Justice filed suit against Hostesses’ vulture capitalist owners for increasing executive pay by another 75% — in essence, rewarding executives for taking the company into bankruptcy.

These executives and hedge fund managers are the very people Republicans are fighting to keep taxes low for. The so-called ‘job creators.’ These ‘paragons of industry’ who got rich wrecking an American icon and socking it to American families all at the same time. Likely, many of them feel entitled to pay no taxes for their looted spoils to the federal government who might actually do something useful with the money — like hire a scientist or a teacher. Just let these people do what they please, let them keep all the money they took, and everything will be great, republicans say.

See how well that worked out for the company that was Hostess and the people who worked there?

Links:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-hostess-seeks-bonuses-for-key-manager-in-liquidation-filing-20121119,0,22735.story

http://themoderatevoice.com/168438/twinkynomics-a-case-study-in-romneynomics/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/hostess-moves-to-liquidate-as-us-seeks-trustee-control/2012/11/19/46e98922-326d-11e2-92f0-496af208bf23_story.html

Democrats Win Popular Vote in Races for President, Senate and, yes, House

After repeating lies and misinformation throughout the 2012 election, Republicans didn’t miss a beat following their substantial loss on Tuesday. Again and again we are hearing Republican politicians chattering about how Democrats, especially President Obama, have no mandate.

Before we deconstruct this most recent Republican mangling of reality, let’s first take a look at the meaning of the word mandate. Mandate, according to dictionary definitions, means ‘to give someone authority to act in a certain manner.’ In general, winning an election is, by definition, a mandate. The elected person is the one given authority or mandate.

But, in a broader sense, political mandate is a definition of what a majority of Americans want. And in every case, Democrats won more popular vote totals than Republicans. Obama won the popular Presidential vote by nearly 3 million. The Democrats in the Senate won the popular vote too, expanding their majority by 2 seats. And, though they were unable to re-gain control of the House, Democrats in that branch of government received 500,000 more votes than Republicans, also winning the popular vote.

In short, Democrats, in all branches of government have the American people’s mandate to pursue the policies they’ve run on. And no Republican mangling of language is going to change that fact. Sadly, the Republicans have simply reverted to attempts to diminish their political opposition in every way and at every time. They have, instead of reverting to the role of governing after waging a punishing, untruthful, and vicious campaign, and losing, decided to just continue campaigning. This decision is a decision to put their own political goals, ones rejected repeatedly by the American people, ahead of the good of country.

Should it be any surprise that the republican party of obstructionism, hostage taking, and voter suppression would make this choice?

Republicans had a chance to lose graciously and retain their role as legitimate members of US government. But, as the viciousness continues, the clock is ticking. In another day or so, it will become obvious that Republicans have continued to wage their selfish little war on US interests. The interests of a majority of Americans. And, if this happens, the campaign to unseat every obstructionist in 2014 will have already begun. And it will begin from the same group the drubbing Republicans’ received on Tuesday originated. It will begin with the real American people. The ones Republicans continue to ignore.

Republican Congress Cut Diplomatic Security Funding Before Benghazi Attacks; Mitt Romney Attempts to Profit Politically From Death Of Navy Seal

After creating the strawman that is Solyndra and using it repeatedly as a platform from which to assault America’s solar energy industry, it should be no surprise that Republican Darrell Issa is at it again. This time, he is calling a hearing on ‘security failures’ during the Benghazi attacks on the US-Libyan diplomatic mission. Darrell’s current witch hunt draws conclusions before collecting evidence and operates under the presumptuous title ‘Security Failures of Benghazi.’

As ever, the Issa committee seems less interested in identifying actual problems that, if removed, may help make future diplomatic missions in the Middle East safer. Instead, it continues to myopically dig for any shred of evidence it can use  to politically damn the Obama Administration during a time leading up to a presidential election. Security officer, Eric Nordstrom, when repeatedly asked the question ‘was security at the site adequate?’ has responded by noting that no additional level of security for a usual diplomatic mission would have prevented an attack of this kind.

“Having an extra foot of wall, or an extra half-dozen guards or agents would not have enabled us to respond to that kind of assault,” said Nordstrom.

During the hearing, Republicans were quick to add their own assertions. “I believe, personally, with more assets, more resources, just meeting the minimum standards, we could have and should have saved the life of Ambassador Stevens and the other people who were there,” asserted Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

But what Rep Chaffetz conveniently overlooked was that the Republican Congress failed to honor President Barack Obama’s request for additional security funds both this year and last year. According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel:

House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. (Negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate restored about $88 million of the administration’s request.) Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security” — a charge Republicans rejected.

So this conjecture raises a few questions. First, was security inadequate at Benghazi? And if so, how much did Republican efforts to hamstring Obama by de-funding critical programs contribute to lack of security at the US embassy in Libya? And was Hillary Clinton correct in her assertion that Republican de-funding of security for diplomatic missions was ‘detrimental to America’s national security?’

It would seem the conclusions are quite obvious. As with the Republican wreckage of the US economy, it appears Republicans have again created a problem for which they are now attempting to blame the Obama Administration. This political profiteering is even more heinous due to the fact that they were warned that their cuts to diplomatic security may be harmful. But they decided to ignore those warnings. Now, after numerous incidents at US diplomatic missions where additional security may have helped, Republicans attempt to blame the Obama administration for a situation they helped make worse. Not only is this disingenuous. It is rank underhandedness and betrayal. The Republicans should both be ashamed of their witch hunt and of their past efforts to cut US diplomatic security during a time of danger.

In a related instance of political profiteering, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney attempted to use his brief acquaintance with Navy Seal Glen Doherty, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks in Libya, as a prop for advancing his political agenda. Romney repeatedly told a ‘teary eyed story’ about his meeting the young Glen, comparing his own political efforts to Glen’s heroism. But Glen’s mother has asked Romney to stop using her son’s name in speeches:

“I don’t trust Romney. He shouldn’t make my son’s death part of his political agenda,” Barbara Doherty said in a statement broadcast Wednesday on WHDH-TV in Boston. “It’s wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama.”

In another interview with a Seattle radio station Doherty’s friend, Elf Ellefsen, recalled hearing Doherty talk about his encounter with Romney.

“He said it was very comical,” Ellefsen said in an interview with radio station KIRO. “Mitt Romney approached him ultimately four times, using this private gathering as a political venture to further his image. He kept introducing himself as Mitt Romney, a political figure. The same introduction, the same opening line. Glen believed it to be very insincere and stale.”

“Honestly it does make me sick,” Ellefsen  said in the interview with KIRO’s Libby Denkmann. “Glen would definitely not approve of it. He probably wouldn’t do much about it. He probably wouldn’t say a whole lot about it. I think Glen would feel, more than anything, almost embarrassed for Romney. I think he would feel pity for him.”

So on the one hand you have Republicans in Congress trying to profit politically from a ‘security failure’ they abetted and on the other you have the Republican Presidential candidate transparently using this brave Seal’s death at the consulate whose security was de-funded by Republicans as a means to advance his political fortunes. In microcosm, this is a perfect illustration of why Republican policies fail. They are short-sighted, self-serving, and profit from harm caused to the American people. People like Glen who served selflessly, at great personal risk, and at little prospect for personal profit. One of the very public servants that Republicans demonize in euphemism at every turn, but who serve as nice ornaments now and then once election time crops up.

I agree with Ellefsen. It’s pitiful. Gollum-esque even.

Links:

7.8% Unemployment and Falling: So Why are Republicans Selling Another Economic Decline?

Confidence. It’s a funny game, isn’t it? And the most prominent con-game going on right now is this endless selling of economic decline.

‘The economy is bad,’ we hear. ‘The recovery wasn’t fast enough,’ they say. ‘Obama failed’ — and that’s the real message they want you to believe. They want you to believe that you’re miserable, things are terrible, and that the person to blame is Obama. They want you to believe that things are as bad as … well… as bad as four years ago.

Perhaps the clearest illustration of this illusory sales pitch was when its very premise was threatened by a drop to 7.8 percent unemployment, putting a cherry on top of the strongest sustained jobs growth since 1984.

These rosey facts led GOP magnates like Rick Satelli and Jack Welch to assert there was a ‘government conspiracy’ to fudge the numbers. And since employment figures are as closely guarded as US nuclear weapons codes, these assertions were quickly proven to be what they were: preposterous.

It’s a chancy game, this selling of recession. Because the sales pitch itself creates a certain amount of damage. If people believe it, it suppresses economic confidence. It prevents people from buying. It may prevent some from seeking a job they would otherwise qualify for. It creates a kind of sense of malaise so poisonous to a post-recession expansion.

Yet this selling of recession hasn’t only been verbal. It has been legislative. Every bill that would have actually resulted in jobs creation has been blocked by republicans in Congress for the past two years.

Benjamin Feinblum summed up how these blockages keep happening in his recent report after the Republicans blocked a jobs bill aimed at helping veterans coming home from war find work:

The method Republicans have used to block all jobs legislation in the past two years is the same. A jobs bill comes up, it is filled with positive things for the economy, Republicans filibuster debate, this shields them from having to make floor speeches on why they don’t want tax breaks for small businesses… etc.

Why? Well, if the economy recovers too strongly before an election, Republicans will lose power.

Futhermore, republicans have engaged in a direct assault on America’s best hope for a new growth industry — alternative energy. At every turn we hear attacks on solar, wind, renewables and, most of all on the Chevy Volt. This has even caused some defections in the ranks of republicans. For example, Bob Lutz has been deriding republican-led attacks on the Volt ever since the vehicle launched in December of 2010:

Yesterday Forbes published an op-ed piece from GM’s former CEO, Bob Lutz defending the Chevy Volt and calling on certain right wing media outlets to focus on telling the truth, rather than concocting lies. One wonders after reading his piece whether the Republican Party believes in that Communist strategy that the ends justify the means? — Torque News

We know republicans would have preferred to let GM go bankrupt, as Romney once advised. Now they attack an American innovation marvel. One that is leading an electric vehicle charge that could break the back of fossil fuel dependence and spur the American economy to new growth all in one go. Just last month, nearly 6000 electric vehicles sold in the US. Given these numbers, it appears that EVs are taking off even faster than their predecessor, the hybrid. Meanwhile, US alternative energy production has doubled since Obama took office.

Sadly, the sales pitch of ‘recession’ continues. In just this past week’s debate Mitt Romney chided Obama for investing 90 Billion in green energy. That 90 billion included the stunning success the Volt is now becoming, in spite of a right-wing media assault. That 90 billion included a doubling of US renewable energy production. That 90 billion helped to support hundreds of thousands of jobs in places like Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Texas and New Jersey. That 90 billion helped to indirectly support 8.5 million jobs that result from alternative energy — a number three times higher than that supported by fossil fuels for each dollar spent (Business Week).

Yet all Romney could say for this emerging American revolution? Solyndra. The cherry picking of one failed company in a wave of overall success. I suppose Romney could have thought of better use for that 90 Billion? Funneling it into a 5 trillion dollar tax cut for the rich, perhaps? Or, maybe investing it in ‘nation building’ overseas, as he mentioned recently in a foreign policy speech at VMI. But, under Obama, that money, instead has been invested in nation building at home.

7.8 percent unemployment and falling… Stock market doubles. It looks like a little nation building is making things better. Far better than when Bush left office at 7.8 percent unemployment and rising at the rate of 750,000 jobs lost each and every month.

So what’s Romney’s big beef with building up America for once? Why keep bashing her?

I don’t know if republicans, overall, are good or bad people. I suspect that they are good, just misled by misinformation and succumbing to that all-too-human failure of believing that the ends justify the means. But, just like Mitt Romney, they seem to be decent folk employed in the bad work of short-selling America. And it is this bad work that is so very unhelpful and destructive. The defending of tax cuts that aid in the shipping of jobs overseas. The defending of the dominance of the oil, gas and coal industry, which staunches future energy development, jobs growth, and prevents the tackling of the farmland-destroying menace that is climate change.

What this reveals is that republicans have taken the cynical approach of hurting America in the hopes that it will aid them in the regaining of power. This ‘conquer America’ strategy through a systematic damage to America’s prospects would be something expected from a foreign power seeking to undermine America’s status for the advancement of its own. But it is a terrible betrayal for such a policy to be leveled against America by one of its own political parties. One that prides itself on its patriotism.

For republicans, it is best to learn that, sometimes, it is better to lose for the right reasons than to win for the wrong ones. For winning the wrong way often results in a short term gain at the expense of a later consignment to the dust-bin of history — not to mention the terrible damage that occurs along the way.

Message to Romney and republicans: stop doing bad work. Stop selling America short. Stop selling recession in the midst of recovery. Stop assaulting the new industries that will create the new jobs. Stop attacking American innovations like the Volt. Stop holding back legislation that helps people find work and helps build jobs. Stop making it harder on farmers and the people who tend to the engines of democracy — the hard-working people of America. Stop hurting us. Stop hurting America.

And to Americans tired of this endless selling of recession, the sandbagging of US jobs progress, the destruction of emerging US industries, and the failed policies that caused our terrible recession in the first place: you have both the ability and the opportunity to remove these republicans in Congress and to prevent them from holding the White House again this November. Who knows, perhaps the time is right for a voter revolution against a harmful party, that acts so much like a foreign power, occupying our golden shores.

Links:

http://www.torquenews.com/1075/bob-lutz-defends-volt-calls-republicans-be-truthful

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/business/2012/10/unemployment-plummets-78/57640/

http://www.policymic.com/articles/11510/senate-republicans-block-another-jobs-bill-face-backlash-from-american-public

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