Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

by lizard

The post-mortems keep coming, and one of the big rifts is the failure of Montana Democratic candidates to distinguish themselves from Republicans with regards to the environment. At Cowgirl it’s all Pick Your Heads Up, Democrats, where the failure to take a stand on the environment is explained with one simple word: polls.

The second point is that I would caution people to be careful about simply accepting all of the theories being pushed out there about why Democrats lost. Because the main and most simple theory is most certainly the correct one: Montana will not send a Democrat to Washington in a year in which we have a democratic (not to mention black) president at 28% in the polls, in a midterm year, who is fairly inept at articulating what he stands for or believes.

For those who believe that the Democrats should unabashedly come out against the Keystone pipeline, or unabashedly for a pro-immigration position, I have news for you: such positions are extremely unpopular in states like Montana, and very polarizing too. The greenlighting of the Keystone pipeline, for example, is supported by 85% of Montana voters. Coming out strongly against it, and shouting it from the mountaintop, provides no electoral benefit.

So Democrats want tarsand gunk flowing to Texas (for export), coal being dug up for China, and government-mandated logging because polls define their positions? How did that work out this year?

Leadership is not looking to polls before taking a position. Leadership means looking hard at dire issues, like climate change, and clearly articulating why taking a principled stand is important. If Montana Democrats had done that, would they have done worse? It’s hard to imagine Democrats doing much worse by taking a tough position on an issue that will negatively impact all our lives if our “leaders” continue ignoring the threat.

Ochenski has his post-mortem up at the Missoulian today. From the link:

Here in Montana – and as pointed out in this column months ago – there were very minor differences between Republican candidates and the stances top-level Democrats took on far too many issues. While there certainly were differences between the political parties and their candidates on certain issues, such as a woman’s right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy, serious policy differences were few and far between.

Take the environment, for instance, which is an issue near and dear to many who consider themselves the Democrat base. Climate change is arguably the single greatest challenge now facing this state and nation. Yet, one would think the “climate change deniers,” generally pegged to be Republicans, had somehow mesmerized Montana’s Democratic candidates into supporting their non-recognition of the science and on-the-land effects of climate change now ravaging the globe.

How is it possible that all of Montana’s top tier Democratic candidates could support “all of the above” energy policies and claim to be anything but climate change deniers? If you ask the Demo’s so-called strategists, they’ll blithely tell you that “we have to take that position to get elected.” Really? Since they lost in record numbers, one might viably deduce that taking that position did just the opposite.

There are lessons to be learned when one fails. Will Democrats in Montana ditch the strategy of Republican-lite poll appeasement? Or will they double down on positions that didn’t help them this year, and won’t help the environmental devastation we humans are doing to this planet?

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by lizard

After Democrats experienced an electoral smack-down Tuesday, will there be any soul-searching? Or is it time to play the blame game? If it’s the latter, millennials are clearly the first scapegoat being pointed at. Here is one article, titled The Young And The Useless: How Millennials Left Democrats Hanging On Election Day. From the link:

Young voters in particular declined to show up for Democrats. The exit poll shows that voters between the ages of 18 and 29 supported Democrats by a strong 54 to 43 percent margin. But they made up just 12 percent of the electorate — down 7 percent from 2012, and equal to their dismal turnout from 2010.

By contrast, 37 percent of midterm voters were 60 or older — and these voters backed the Republicans by more than 15 percent.

While Millennial turn out was low, voters across the nation did support a wide variety of progressive ballot measures, like increasing minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, paid sick time, and expanding background checks for gun sales. In contrast, two personhood ballot initiatives were defeated by large margins.

It’s a confounding disconnect.

A better scapegoat could be the baggage of the Obama presidency. Six years of broken promises and capitulation to the destructive tendencies of America’s imperial ambitions have rendered an electorate disgusted with both parties. Dave Lindorff explains that Tuesday wasn’t a GOP victory, it was a Democratic rout:

The blame is being placed on President Obama for this drubbing, and he richly deserves it. Basically, his presidency has been one long string of disappointments to and outright betrayal of those who voted for him “hoping for change,” as Obama has caved on or compromised away virtually every progressive promise he made during his two campaigns.

As a constitutional scholar, he had promised to restore respect for the law to the presidency, and instead has made end runs around every law imaginable, refusing to prosecute the war criminals of the Bush/Cheney presidency, the CIA, and the military, refusing to prosecute the FBI for violating the Patriot Act, refusing to prosecute the bankers whose crimes brought the US and the global economy to a grinding halt and left the US crippled going on six years now.

He has run the most secretive administration in history, even employing the 1917 Espionage Act against leakers and whistleblowers, and threatening journalists with jail for publishing those leaks. Under his watch, too, the Homeland Security Department secretly orchestrated the nationwide crushing of the Occupy movement by local police departments, while the White House, all the while, offered homilies about the sanctity of the right to protest. (His HSD’s Office of Threat Assessment actually labelled this publication a “threat” for publishing an article exposing that role — a discovery which we now proudly display on our masthead above.)

Claiming to have been a “community organizer,” Obama hung the labor movement that had backed his campaign for president out to dry, declining to push for a promised and desperately needed reform of the National Labor Relations Act that would have ended the interminable and easily delayed process of requiring a secret ballot election to form a union, by reverting to the old system of obtaining a majority of signed cards from workers.

On climate change, which he had once called the issue of our time, his administration actually actively worked behind the scenes, with the help of the National Security Agency, to subvert efforts by international leaders to reach an international consensus on action in 2009 in Denmark. This Obama treachery allowed the world to lurch on towards a climate-change armageddon.

After promising to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama first drew out the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, leading to further chaos there and ultimately to the current disaster where the country is being torn apart by an invasion by the former Baathist military leaders who were earlier turned out by the Bush/Cheney invasion and occupation. Then he expanded the war in Afghanistan, dragging out that conflict to make it, at 13 years and running, the longest war in US history. And after spending hundreds of billions of dollars on pointless war and killing thousands of more Afghans and American soldiers too, he has left a nation in tatters which will revert to Taliban control again probably within months of the last US soldier leaving on the last troop transport.

No wonder the public was pissed this Election Day.

Climate change is one of the issues I think Democrats will have the most problems with going forward because it pits environmentalists against labor interests. Ochenski had a good piece on Monday about the tangible impacts of climate change on Montana’s hunting tradition and the failure of Lewis and Curtis to distinguish themselves from Daines and Zinke. From the link:

While many lament the falling number of hunters in recent years, it’s quite possible they are failing to connect the dots between our warming climate and fewer hunters. Not too tough to figure out, though, that if you go hunting and return without having seen or shot an elk year after year, one might just decide to hang up the elk rifle after a while.

A stunning affirmation of the current conditions was made plain when a good friend, who is a backcountry cook for an outfitter, said out of the nearly two months of wilderness rifle season so far, they had only taken one elk out of their Bob Marshall Wilderness camp. One elk.

Considering the cost for a week’s outfitted hunt runs about $5,000-$6,000 per individual, it’s not hard to predict that those who paid so much for a treasured Montana elk hunt only to find no tracking snow and no elk will be far less likely to do so in the future.

Yet, Montana’s politicians continue to embrace “all of the above” energy policies that only exacerbate global climate change. Keystone XL pipeline? They all support it. Mining more coal to ship to China? You bet. Cutting down more forests that actually take carbon dioxide out of the air? Oh yeah, let’s congressionally mandate even higher harvest levels. And of course more drilling and fracking garners universal applause from Republicans and Democrats.

But none of this happens in a vacuum. So how much of Montana’s hunting tradition – and economy – are our politicians willing to sacrifice to ever more energy production and consumption?

The Keystone XL pipeline will probably be one of the first showdowns between a Congress that hasn’t been this Republican since 1929 and Democrats. This won’t be an easy issue for Democrats, considering many support the pipeline and the ones who don’t haven’t been all that vocal in opposition because of labor’s advocacy and the fear of being tar and feathered as anti-jobs.

All in all, we are in for a frustrating two years of gridlock, shutdown and polarization over the wedge issues that dominate our political conversation in this country while the consensus of perpetual war keeps pushing us to the brink of WWIII.

And so it goes.

by lizard

My second to last article from the Missoulian I can access on my phone this month without paying to subscribe is a really interesting article about a UM professor deemed a “super forecaster” by the CIA:

Karen Ruth Adams stood before a Model United Nations class at the University of Montana on Tuesday, preparing students for careers in public policy, international affairs and high school teaching.

While far away from Washington, D.C., this academic environment is fitting for Adams, a professor of political science and scholar who has earned a reputation for predicting world events before they happen.

Given her skills, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and its Good Judgment Project recognized Adams as a “super forecaster.” It’s a lighthearted term with serious implications, capable of changing how the U.S. intelligence community tracks crises around the world.

“The project is a think tank that’s affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency,” Adams said Tuesday before class. “IARPA is a think tank known for doing innovative research that gets weeded out through competition and analysis, and different agencies of the U.S. government can pick it up if they’re interested.”

This seems like a more passive version of the Human Terrain System—an attempt to use social sciences to improve the poorly-defined military campaign in Afghanistan. From Wiki:

The Human Terrain System (HTS) is a United States Army, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) support program employing personnel from the social science disciplines – such as anthropology, sociology, political science, regional studies and linguistics – to provide military commanders and staff with an understanding of the local population (i.e. the “human terrain”) in the regions in which they are deployed.

I wonder what Karen Ruth Adams thinks about the “threat multiplier” of climate change. We already know what the Pentagon thinks. Here is an article from Fox news for the conservative regulars here:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday described climate change as a national security threat — at a time when the U.S. military is battling the Islamic State in the Mideast, responding to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and monitoring tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

The Defense secretary addressed the issue during a speech in Peru, as the Pentagon released a comprehensive report on the “national security” challenges posed by rising global temperatures and “extreme weather events.”

Hagel described climate change as a “threat multiplier,” saying it “has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we already confront today — from infectious disease to armed insurgencies — and to produce new challenges in the future.”

It’s hard to tell if this actually Chuck Hagel’s views being represented in this article. It’s entirely possible Al Gore kidnapped Chuck Hagel, then used CGI technology to sucker even Fox News into reporting on climate change like it’s a real thing.

Climate change actually is a totally real thing guaranteed to significantly exacerbate global conflicts. The Pentagon knows this, and is preparing accordingly.

Naomi Klein also knows this and she was even nice enough to write a book about how this changes everything:

If global warming is a worldwide wake-up call, we’re all pretty heavy sleepers. It’s telling that 20 years after the United Nations acknowledged the threat of human-driven climate change, we’re still basically at a loss for how to get going on the solution. In fact, we’re spewing more greenhouse gases than ever. Why is that? Ask 10 people — 10 self-identified environmentalists, even — and you’re likely to get 10 different answers.

The real reason, argues journalist Naomi Klein in her new book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” is the one thing that the political right has right: Transitioning quickly to a low-carbon society is going to hurt. Contrary to the mission statements of win-win industry partnerships championed by some green groups, Klein writes, wrangling greenhouse gas emissions to within a scientifically recommended level will not be painless. The issue unearths no less than “a much broader battle of worldviews,” she says — “a process of rebuilding and reinventing the very idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil, and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect.”

In other words, the root of the carbon problem is capitalism, says Klein. Or at least the kind of unfettered, absolutist “disaster capitalism” that was the target of her previous effort, “The Shock Doctrine.” In that sense, the aptly titled “This Changes Everything” might be seen as the third volume in Klein’s controversial and thoroughly researched challenge to neoliberal ideology.

The essence of her argument is that taking on climate change is a fleeting opportunity to right structural wrongs in political and socioeconomic systems that have stood largely unchallenged for decades. Given the problem’s size, Klein says, the only way forward is radical change. So the political right’s willingness to sow doubt about long-settled science and denounce climate moderates as nefarious communists belies not a willful ignorance so much as a recognition of the issue’s real scope.

Klein, as usual, hits the mark.




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