Tag Archives: republican party

Jeb Bush speaks to us about climate change. Is he a denier?

Summary:  American political campaigns are the longest and most expensive in the world, but consist largely of both sides kicking sand into our eyes. The result leaves us less informed and more divided, and gives the victor no mandate. Campaign 2016 has begun. The reaction to Jeb Bush’s remarks about climate shows that we’ve learned nothing from the spectacle of past campaigns.

Jeb Bush logo

Contents

  1. Jeb Bush talks about the climate. The Left smears.
  2. What do climate scientists say?
  3. What does the American public say?
  4. Do we need more innovation?
  5. For More Information.

See tomorrow’s post, where eminent climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr. answering your questions about climate models.

(1) Jeb Bush talks about the climate. The Left smears.

The Left warms up for the 2016 election with smears to arouse the dwindling faithful…

Two stories are the most often cited to support these statements. Neither remotely justifies them. First there is this…

“It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view.” {Fox News, August 2011}

And this, more recently…

“The climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you. … It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

Bush said that climate change should be just “part of, a small part of prioritization of our foreign policy.” He suggested that the United States should encourage countries that have higher carbon emissions rates to reduce them. “We’ve had a pretty significant decrease and we’ll continue on, not because of Barack Obama, but because of the energy revolution.” He credited hydraulic fracking, horizontal drilling and an increased use of natural gas for helping cut American carbon emissions.

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Who believes that the Federal government seeks to take over Texas?

Summary:  The Jade Helm military exercise has sparked an urban legend. Polls showing who believes fringe theories act as x-rays illuminating the American polity. Some of the results are expected if alarming. Some are unexpected and hence even more valuable.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Jade Helm

Contents

  1. A funny question.
  2. Answer by ideology.
  3. The Evangelicals speak.
  4. The Tea Party speaks.
  5. Answers by age.
  6. Answers by gender.
  7. Answers by preferred candidate.
  8. Conclusions.
  9. For More Information.

(1)  A funny question

The multi-state military exercise known as Jade Helm has aroused an unusually strong reaction among elements of the public. For details see the Wikipedia entry, the Snopes page, and the Washington Post story. These went ballistic when Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas State Guard to monitor it “to ensure that Texans’ safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed during the eight-week training period …”

In response Public Policy Polling® creatively asked an interesting question in a survey done last week. The results are amazing, and become more so when examined more closely.

Public Policy Polling, May 2014

(2) Answer by ideology

A breakdown of the answers by ideology gives a more interesting perspective. This weird theory has believers on both extremes, another example of commonality of thinking among the far Left and Right. The political spectrum is a circle, not a line.

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America slides to the right, faster. Why? What you can do about it!

Summary: Today’s post gives excerpts from some of the best political analysis of the year, concluding with suggestions for those people who care to do something about it.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

El Reagan: viva revolucion

Contents

  1. The best political analysis of the year.
  2. Excerpt #1: The Problem.
  3. Excerpt #2: The real problem, part one.
  4. Excerpt #3: The real problem, part two.
  5. What you can do about all this.
  6. For More Information.

 

(1)  The best political analysis you’ll read this year

A slow-mo revolution has been running in America since 1980. We have entered the steep part of the “S” curve, when laboriously built political machinery of the Right reaches maturity and exerts its full power.

There have been hundreds of articles about this. Pulling all this together is “No Cost for Extremism” in The American Prospect — “Why the GOP hasn’t (yet) paid for its march to the right.” The authors are professors of political science: Jacob Hacker at Yale, Paul Pierson at Berkeley. If not stopped it will shape a new America for the 21st century. I recommend that you read it in full.

On the other hand, why bother unless you’ll do something about it? See the last section for some ideas.

(2)  Excerpt #1: The Problem

According to the news media, 2014 was the year that the GOP “Establishment” finally pulled Republicans back from the right-wing brink. Pragmatism, it seemed, had finally triumphed over extremism in primary and general election contests that The New York Times called “proxy wars for the overall direction of the Republican Party.”

There’s just one problem with this dominant narrative. It’s wrong. The GOP isn’t moving back to the center. … based on voting records, the current Republican majority in the Senate is far more conservative than the last Republican majority in the 2000s. Meanwhile, the incoming House majority is unquestionably the most conservative in modern history, continuing the virtually uninterrupted 40-year march of the House Republican caucus to the hard right.

The GOP’s great right migration is the biggest story in American politics of the past 40 years. And it’s not just limited to Congress: GOP presidents have gotten steadily more conservative, too; conservative Republicans increasingly dominate state politics; and the current Republican appointees on the Supreme Court are among the most conservative in the Court’s modern history.

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Why Libertarians will win (& liberals should fear Rand Paul)

Summary: Liberals have entered the second phase of their struggle with Libertarians. First they mocked them; now they dismiss them as irrelevant. Soon they’ll fear them. Rightly so, for Libertarianism is the interests of the 1% set to music. This is a follow-up to my previous post about Libertarians.   (2nd of 2 posts today.)

This is 2013. I believe the orange Libertarian circle will grow much larger.

Contents

  1. There are few real libertarians (& no true Scotsman).
  2. Libertarians in the Right’s revolution.
  3. The big picture: the third attempt by the Right to rule.
  4. Conclusions.
  5. For More Information.

(1)  There are few real libertarians (& no true Scotsman)

Liberals have no need to worry as they’ve discovered that there are few “real Libertarians”! This week the New York Times ran two high-profile articles so debunking the Libertarian uprising: “Rand Paul’s Challenge: Libertarians Are Still a Small Minority” by journalist Nate Cohn and “Rand Paul and the Empty Box” by economist Paul Krugman. The New Republic ran a similar article about a porn star libertarian. The Week proved that libertarian star Rand Paul’s views are incoherent (another article said, correctly, that this was an asset).

None of these were written by political scientists, who know better. A philosopher might say there are few “true libertarians”, but that’s politically irrelevant. It’s the “no true Scotsman” fallacy in action. One could just as easily prove there are few “real Christians” — and there have never been many. But Christianity has had a massive impact on history, and that’s so with Libertarianism as well. Liberals gave a similarly dismissive analysis of the Tea Party in its early days, before the demonstration of its great power as conservative shock troops.

One does not measure the effectiveness of a political movement by its fidelity to some theoretical schema, but by the numbers and passion of the people who follow its banner. There are many self-identified Libertarians, and they’re disproportionately in the politically active upper middle class — in rapidly growing regions like Texas and California (e.g., Silicon Valley), and among the 1%.

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The GOP budget shows us the New America that lies ahead

Summary: The first budget by the new Republican majority in Congress shows what lies ahead for America. It’s another tale of the New America rising on the ruins of the old, as the 1% begins the pursuit phase of the battle against us. These tales are entertainment for the outer party, just exhilaration as they boo the other tribe unless they motivate people to political action. {2nd of 2 posts today.}

“There’s class warfare, all right. But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
— Warren Buffet, quoted in the New York Times Magazine, 26 November 2006.Was Marx right?

 

Brick by brick the New America slowly rises on the ruins of the Second Republic. As we see in this week’s headline “Senate passes Republican budget with deep safety net cuts“. It’s a full-court press to reconfigure the US government to benefit the 1%. Excerpt:

The Senate passed a Republican-authored budget plan early on Friday that seeks $5.1 trillion in domestic spending cuts over 10 years while boosting military funding. … which is similar to one passed by House Republicans on Wednesday. … They also showcase the fiscal vision for Republicans, who now control both Houses of Congress for the first time since 2006 and are eager to demonstrate their ability to govern.

… The Senate budget seeks to eliminate U.S. deficits by 2025 without raising taxes through deep cuts to social safety net programs, investments in transportation and education and other domestic programs. At the same time, it proposes to boost defense spending by adding about $38 billion to an off-budget war funding account, and offers core Pentagon budget increases in subsequent years.

This is just the first step. We can expect more drastic measures in the future, shifting taxes from the 1% to us and cutting government benefits. The Hill explains (Note: block grants are a means to shift spending to the States, for easier slashing):

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Scary lessons for America from pre-revolutionary France.

Summary: Today we look at 18thC France, and speculate about our future. They too had their 1%, hungry for wealth and power. In a time of troubles, they refused to compromise and so plunged France into a long bloody transition to a new regime. Our situation is very different, but there are a few ominous similarities.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

“It’s all about power and the unassailable might of money.”
— E. P. Arnold Royalton, the great 21st century industrialist in “Speed Racer” (2008).

"Liberty Leading the People", Eugène Delacroix (1830).

“Liberty Leading the People”, Eugène Delacroix (1830).

Contents

  1. Pre-revolutionary France.
  2. America today.
  3. Differences and similarities.
  4. Books by GOP candidates.
  5. For More Information.

(1)  Pre-revolutionary France

There was desperate need for financial reform of the French government in the late 18thC, but deep institutional failure prevented reform. King Louis XVI wanted reform, especially the nobility and clergy to pay taxes, but the nobility and clergy blocked change through the parlements (high courts) and Assembly of Notables (1787) — an opposite outcome to that of the previous great crisis in 1626.

Out of easy options, the King called the Estates General in 1789. The 3 Estates each had one vote: the nobility, the clergy, the commons. This might have been the last opportunity to save France from revolution. Each Estate prepared a list of grievances (Cahiers de doléances).

The nobility desired a weaker King: limitations on royal absolutism, guarantee of individual liberties, and taxes only with approval of the Esates General. For this they were prepared to give almost nothing, and had little interest in lightening the burden on the commons. They wanted compensation for abolishing the corvée (forced unpaid labor) and capitaineries (game preserves of the King and nobility). Their opening offer to the commons: nothing.

With no room for negotiation, the Estates General immediately deadlocked. On June 17 the Third Estate, plus defectors from the other two, declared themselves the National Assembly. On June 20 the King locked them from the Salle des États. They relocated to the Royal Tennis Courts, and swore the Tennis Court Oath. The revolution had begun.

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Is America a Christian nation?

Summary: The dream of Western civilization is the ascent from the darkness into the light, of improvement by each generation. For two centuries America has overcome (slowly) the ugly parts of our inheritance from the Founders. Civil rights for Blacks, women, gays. Shifting from imperialism to building a new world order after WWII based on our ideals. Creating a large middle class and a society with high social mobility. The Boomers have reversed this process in America. The new Conservative coalition of evangelicals, libertarians, and the Tea Party promises to accelerate this change. Here we benchmark the New America with the values of the Christian part of its ruling coalition.

Looking at the news, perhaps the question should be “how many Christians live in America?” Perhaps not many.

American Flag and the Bible, together

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Contents

  1. War
  2. Torture
  3. Boosting the fortunes of the 1%
  4. Making our prisons a Hell on Earth
  5. How the faithful voted
  6. For More Information

(1)  War

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Our increasing military presence — now expanding into Africa — both results from and drives our involvement in local wars, usually insurgencies against governments of some combination of corrupt, brutal, and tyrannical (that doesn’t imply the insurgents are better, of course).  We justify these by pointing to 9-11, an attack by a transnational terrorist group (unlike the local insurgencies we fight), who staged the attack in order to involve us in these foreign wars.

So we have killed tens of thousands, and the resulting destruction (in which we played a part) has killed hundreds of thousands and plunged nations into ruin. We’ve brought down secular regimes with strong women’s rights in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya (Syria in progress), catapulting their women back centuries in time.

I doubt the Prince of Peace would approve.

(2)  Torture

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It’s quite popular in America (so we’ll be doing more of it), making a mockery of our claim to be a “government of laws, not men“. It’s probably been of little use (no, we’ve not used it to defuse a “ticking time bomb”). Even if torture had “worked”, I doubt Jesus would approve.

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