Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Well, Ya Gotta Laugh

Yesterday’s L.A. Times story on Republican Senate candidate Tom Campbell said it all: “Three outside groups are stepping into the GOP race to try to drive home the message that the former congressman’s view on same-sex marriage and abortion rights – he favors both – and on gun rights, where he favors some restrictions, are at odds with the voters who will decide the party’s nominee June 8.

“Campbell’s argument has been that as a fiscal conservative and social moderate he is more in line with California voters than his two opponents, former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fioina and Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. His positions make him the stronger candidate against Sen. Barbara Boxer, he argues.

“Conservative groups disagree, saying that the strongest candidate for Republicans will be one who can mobilize the party’s rank and file.”

In other words, for Republicans extreme batshit crazy trumps views that are “more in line with California voters.” that is “mainstream, middle of road, majority.” Which, of course, explains a lot of what’s all going wrong with our system – batshit crazy extreme is taking the place of a more traditional middle way of pragmatism and compromise and actually fixing things.

And so we have a candidate like Rand Paul, named after his daddy’s God, Ayn Rand, who can be fairly called a Randian but in his case, he’s a Randian who obviously hasn’t read or understood Rand’s opus magnum, “Atlas Shrugged,” since it is singularly un-Galtian to stand for an office that is based on “service to others.” That’s so anti-Galtian that Ayn must be rolling over in her grave in a Russian fury! Anti-Galtian, anti-Randian and totally oxymoronic.

If you think this country’s going to hell in a hand basket (again, something it keeps doing every generation or so) then Rand Paul would be the poster child of political disconnect. Ditto Tom Campbell. An oxymoron running for elected office and a middle of the roader deemed to be unelectable. Nuts. We’ve all gone nuts.

Oh, Shut Up!

Today we may know whether the “top kill” on the gulf oil blow-out will work or not. In the meantime, will any and all Americans wringing their hands and pounding the table in outrage, please, please shut up. This blow-out is simply the natural, physical manifestation of The Reagan Revolution – government is the problem, we don’t need regulations, the market will take care of all things and tax breaks for the rich (corporate and private) will cause money and benefits to trickle down over us all.

And so, often in the dead of night, oil lobbyists and vast sums of money trickled – flooded – into Washington resulting in back-room-written laws and softened rules, lax oversight, and federal support and tax breaks and subsidies and exceptions from royalty payments, and waivers and more subsidies that encouraged deep-water drilling that otherwise would have been economically prohibitive. Translation: If the oil companies had to take on the deep-water risk all on their own, they wouldn’t have done it. But they were being supported by all those dead of night sweet deals made in Congress that was constantly prodded by an electorate that demanded cheap gas, no matter what the price to the environment.

And so, according to the L.A. Times story, “If it wasn’t profitable for them to do it, then that’s a good argument for leaving the oil in the ground,” said Robert Gramling, who studies the history of the oil industry at the University of Lousiana, Lafayette. The government-subsidized rush to deep-water exploration led to a situation where the industry was doing ‘things that were technically possible but were beyond our ability to undo them if we find out we have a problem.’”

And this, “At the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute, policy advisor Allison Nyhold disputes Gramling’s conclusions and points out that the incentives yielded an enormous jump in energy resources. In addition, she said, the expansion of drilling in the gulf created tens of thousands of jobs.”

The result is what we’re seeing now. Instead of waking up years ago, removing all the subsidies from oil, thereby keeping the price nearer to the “real” price for that form of energy, we allowed (demanded!) the back room deals, swallowed whole the free-market mantra (privatize profits, put the liabilities onto the public) and now we’re seeing the logical outcome and we’ll pay for it all.

But in the meantime, please hold all the whining. We can change all this, shift gears on our whole energy program, remove the price-distorting subsidies on “dirty” energy, make sure the price of our energy actually reflects its real cost, but we won’t do that. We like cheap, subsidized gas and we don’t want to know how much we’re actually paying for that gallon. Appearance trumps reality.

Plus, in order to shift energy gears, we’ll have to change our election laws so as to remove the money that’s absolutely turning Washington into a wholly owned corporate subsidiary. And we don’t want to do that, either. Too much work.

So we’ll continue to see oil spills, our energy policy will continue to be a pastiche of special interests that will make sure that any tweaks only be minor ones so that the quo will remain status. And we’ll continue to pay through the nose for a system that’s dooming us and the environment. But that’s the way we like it, so no whining.

But That’s O.K. Because The World May End In A Few Days

Which is when Congress is supposed to vote (or not) to change the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law which will go into effect after the military finishes their “study” on the matter sometime next year, maybe. If the vote passes, then gays, like their straight bretheren and sisteren, can legally serve and die for their country, which they have been doing (illegally) all along, but we don’t want to talk about that.

So, when that comes to pass, if it does – I’m not counting out the Party of NO blocking it so as to pander to their truly base base – that will mean the world will end.

So, we won’t have to worry about oil spills.

And Anyway, It’s Much Easier To Holler About Mexicans

Yes, it’s the American Way. Instead of rolling up our sleeves when times get tough and getting to work first taking a hard look up-line at the structures we’ve allowed to go into place, ask whether they’re still working or have been corrupted and are now corrupting us, then doing the heavy lifting of actually fixing our broken system, it’s much easier and much more fun to look down-line and just holler about Mexicans.


Anne R. Allen said...

You are so right that we'd rather "holler about the Mexicans" than deal with the oil spill (and its perpetrators.)

It's amazing how humans use racism to solve any knotty problem. Look how well it worked for the Germans when they suffered runaway inflation during the Weimar Republic. Jews! Blame the Jews!

As you say, appearance always trumps reality and ignorance always trumps rational thought. Can we possibly survive our own stupidity?

Mike said... is amazing how you have all the answers... and of course you know how to pay for your simplistic "correct" solutions... now disconnect your electric service and stop driving your cars... ...oh, and do try to remember your computer was manufactured in a factory, so was your bike, car or walker...and I suspect those nasty factories use lot's of oil to draw the steel and grow the memory chips... you like wearing clothes made out of cloth instead of animal skins...??? Try growing your own food without electricty to pump the water...can't even manufacture pumps and motors without electricity AND oil... far, I haven't seen a solution one to anything on this blog...just a lot of smoke and hand wringing... get real some day, we live in a much more complex world that you would try convincing you and your friends...

...but then this blog wasn't intended to talk solutions, only a way for the author to vent... never had to be correct, just a vehicle to agitate...

Churadogs said...

Mike, I find it fascinating to see how your mind always seems to run into extreme black/white, either/or, all or nothing mode.When I comment that we've got a serious SYSTEM problem you jump to "disconnect your electric service and stop driving your cars." Hmmm, wonder if this extremist mind set likely accounts for your agitated and constant use of the double exclamation points. Plus, failure to actually read carefully so many of my postings before jumping to incorrect conclusions. What is it I'm constantly harping about? Right. The middle way, the pragmatic way, the problem-solving way. The win-win way, the balanced way between The Commons and Individualism. And what is it I'm constantly smacking upside the head? Right, the extremest way, the double explanation point way, the my-way-or-the-highway way, the false mental construct that conflates a person who wants a sewer but doesn't want the sewer plant in the middle of town with an "anti-sewer obstructionist!!" Clearly, in your leap to the extreme way you keep missing those critical points.