Friday, December 14, 2007

CAN WE EXPECT DEMOCRATS TO REDEEM OUR COUNTRY'S ENVIRONMENTAL DISGRACE? DON'T BET ON IT

>

After completely alienating public opinion in every country in the world and after threats from America's closest allies in Europe, the Bush Regime-- blaming, of all things, election year sentiment in the U.S.-- has forced the international community to drastically tamp down cooperative efforts to make greenhouse gas emissions/global warming a top international priority. The conference that just ended in Bali a couple of hours ago-- the #1 story everywhere in the world except in the U.S., where corporate media has drastically downplayed its importance-- was merely a baby-step, a road map to move from "discussions to negotiations," but the Bush Regime dug in its reactionary heels and adamantly refused to allow specific targets into the draft agreement that just lays out future negotiations.

At the last minute, with barely an hour to go before the end of the conference, a compromise, of sorts, was reached, one that serves the best interests of no one except GOP big corporate campaign contributors. Pure Beltway obfuscation and old fashioned sabotage is how the Bush Regime approached the world community; the draft agreement doesn't mention specific targets but includes a footnote referring to a separate paper which does include the target numbers Bush so opposes.

Every interview I've seen on Asian and European TV mentions that in a year Bush will be out of office and it will be possible for mankind to move forward in a serious manner against the greatest threat to our well-being. A Bush Regime apologist actually claimed on the BBC today that it's impossible to move forward aggressively this year because it's an election year, implying, falsely, that American voters don't want serious movement in the area of global warming. American voters do want action-- but Republican corporate campaign contributors don't. They won.

But let's look forward-- as the whole world does-- to the end of Bush's reactionary tyranny and even to across the board defeats for Republicans running not just for the presidency-- and let's face it, Huckabee, once voters get to see what he's really all about, will not find him to be a viable alternative to None of the Above-- but for the Senate and House as well. The Democratic candidates are, by and large, supporters, at least on paper, of many of the issues involved in climate change. But there is a wide gap between theory and solid action and when it comes to making the painful decisions, the ones that will make corporations (and even some labor unions) scream, Democrats may well prove to be nearly as reactionary and problematic as Republicans.

Yesterday I got into an argument with my friend Jamil, a huge Obama enthusiast, about Obama's fitness to lead America. Jamil and I both agree that Hillary would be scant improvement over any of the pathetic pygmies seeking to personify a third Bush term. But before getting to Obama, let me quote Glenn Hurowitz's book, Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party, about Hillary and environmentalism and what happens when push really comes to shove in the mind of an Inside the Beltway hack.
You could see the deadly consequences of Clinton's Politics of Fear at work on November 15, 2006, when workers at the Ticonderoga, New York plant of International Paper started feeding old shredded tires into their massive incinerator-- sending an acrid cloud loaded with deadly chemicals and heavy metals like mercury and cadmium into the air. It was the culmination of a three year battle between timber executive and Vermonters downwind from the plant worried about the health and environmental impacts of the toxic brew (the International Paper facility lies just a few miles across Lake Champlain from Burlington, Vermont), a battle in which Clinton weighed in decisively for the timber company. Tires are just about the most poisonous fuel known to man. They're particularly dangerous for children whose developing brains and immune systems are hypersensitive to pollutants like mercury and benzene. Exposure to burning tires can cut years off a child's life, according to the American Lung Association. But IP wanted to cut costs for running its mill (which already produced more pollution than the entire state of Vermont-- including Vermonters vehicles) and came up with the idea of saving money by cutting up old tires and burning them for energy.

Of course it was immediately controversial-- more than 5 million people would be downwind of the burning tires. Even Vermont's Republican governor was working to stop the tire burn. But IP had an ace up its sleeve with Hillary Clinton. Although Clinton had been chairman of the Children's Defense Fund and had made a huge issue out of the Bush administration falsely claiming that the Ground Zero site was safe enough for workers, she wanted to do anything she could to boost her margin of victory in upstate New York. The facts that she was pretty much guaranteed a landslide, outspending her opponent $41 million to $5 million in the most expensive Senate race in the country, and that burning tires would seriously jeopardize children's health, were secondary to the few hundred votes she might pick up from factory workers and others willing to do anything to keep IP's profits high. And so she lobbied to allow the tire burning. Given the choice between a few hundred additional votes and children's health, Clinton chose the votes... In the event, the burning tires turned out to be so polluting that the emissions exceeded even IP's extremely lax permit. IP was forced to suspend its test just three days after it had started the burning. They didn't go out of business, but Hillary Clinton had racked up another example of the Politics of Fear-- putting political expedience ahead of what was supposed to be her most cherished value-- children's welfare.

Sounds horrible, right? It should; it is. Instead of contemplating voting Hillary into the presidency, New York voters should be working to remove her from office. But Obama isn't much better. A consistent and craven compromiser on almost every progressive value or principle he's had to confront since being elected to the Senate (from Republican "tort reform" to legalizing credit card usury), Obama's environmental record has clearly been "one of accommodation to big corporate interests" and "his 'new kind of politics'" is nothing more than a charismatically delivered sham: "the old kind of influence peddling, caution, and smallness that most Democrats [at the grassroots level] reject." His environmental record is nothing Bush Republicans need to fear.
He is the Senate's leading Democratic supporter of "coal to liquid," a technology that can make gasoline out of coal. Only problem: it produces double the global warming pollution that regular old dirty oil does. As if that wasn't bad enough, Obama actually voted for George Bush's energy bill despite more than $27 billion in subsidies for the oil, nuclear and coal industries, its weakening of clean air and water laws, and the fact that it gave electric companies the power to charge consumers high rates while doing almost nothing to tackle global warming or increase consumer protections.

Why is Obama so willing to "trim his sails" so often-- despite the consequences to working and middle class Americans and the environment? It's not just that he apparently believes accommodation-- even of right-wing extremists-- can be both right and politically useful. It's something deeper. In his autobiography, The Audacity of Hope, Obama admits he has a hard time feeling a truly pressing sense of urgency about the great issues of the day.

He's not the leader America so desperately needs to clean up after the worst presidential regime in history, no more than Hillary Clinton is. It's not enough to drive Republicans out of government, even if that is a well-deserved and worthwhile first step. It's just as important to find BETTER Democrats. Substituting horrible, compromised Republicans with horrible compromised Democrats, symbolised by Insider hacks like Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer, who control the Democratic House caucus, will solve little if anything. Electing courageous and independent fighters like John Laesch, Andrew Rice, Darcy Burner, Donna Edwards, Ron Shepston and Dennis Shulman is worth the time, effort and resources. We need real leaders, not just hacks who aren't as bad as Bush and Cheney.

Labels: , , , ,

3 Comments:

At 10:28 PM, Blogger Jimmy the Saint said...

I wish at every campaign stop that people would ask Obama and Clinton why they are Democrats. I heard someone the other day on TV say something very interesting. We know why Edwards wants to be President. He wants to help the less fortunate. They mentioned why Obama wants to be President. They didn't have an answer for why Hillary wants to be President. It was telling.

 
At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Bil said...

Great idea jts!

 
At 10:25 AM, Anonymous UPYOURS said...

YOU REALLY WANT A MUSILM FOR PRESIDENT.WHO DO YOU SUPPOSE HE WOULD PUT IN POSITIONS OF POWER ,WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES
LR

 

Post a Comment

<< Home