Two Losers

I wasn’t able to follow the lame duck session closely, because the weeks prior to the holidays in this office are ordinarily filled with crisis and drama and last-minute filings, plus, I had to decorate two Christmas trees and talk a lot about possibly baking cookies.

I was catching up, and read this on START:

Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who led the floor fight for the treaty, said the vote will move the world away from the risk of nuclear disaster. “The winners are not defined by party or ideology,” he said. “The winners are the American people, who are safer with fewer Russian missiles aimed at them.”

Which got me thinking about John McCain and John Kerry, and how the two men were and are portrayed, and how things have turned out, in real life.

McCain and Kerry have quite a bit in common. Both long-term Senators, both lifetime “government employees”, both veterans, hell, they both married wealthy women (the second time around), so there’s some similarity even in their personal lives.

They’re also members of a very exclusive club. They both lost Presidential elections.

And that’s where the similarities end.

After John Kerry lost to George W. Bush, he returned to the Senate and simply did his job there, and he’s continued to do his job there.

Kerry lost, big, on climate change this year and he still rallied and led on START, rather than booking time on cable shows to bitch.

Kerry didn’t subject the country to two years of bitter griping, temper tantrums and petulant demands. Kerry didn’t pursue purely personal vendettas against whole groups of voters who (allegedly) “betrayed” him. Kerry didn’t flip-flop on each and every policy position he has ever held. He voted and votes the same way he always did. John McCain, remarkably, considering what we were told about him, has done all those awful things since his loss in 2008.

In the 2004 Presidential election, political media and pundits portrayed John Kerry as an elitist, foppish, slightly silly “flip-flopper” who lacked character and core convictions. The same political media and pundits lovingly and carefully nurtured the fairy tale that John McCain is a rock-ribbed, Country First, straight-shooter. Events since tell a radically different story.

How can this be? Wasn’t this script supposed to run the other way? Could they have been more wrong?

Every Day is a Bad Day

Bill Gates:

Energy innovation is not a nationalistic game. If tomorrow some other country invented cheap energy with no CO2 output, would that be a bad day or a good day? For anybody who’s reasonable, that would be, like, the best day ever. If all you care about is America’s relative position, every day since the end of World War II has really been bad for you. So when somebody says to me, “Oh, the Chinese are helping to lower the cost of it, or creating something that emits less CO2,” I say, “Great.” The Chinese are also working on new drugs. When your children get sick, they might be able to take those drugs. [emphasis mine]

I always assumed Gates wasn’t a Real American, and his denial of our true, exceptional position as Number One country forever and ever, Amen, thank you Jesus, is just another example.

That whole interview is worth reading. Gates doesn’t have any special insight into climate change or energy policy, but he clearly and unemotionally articulates a set of facts about energy and climate change that would cause the average conservative to have an apoplectic fit. I was struck reading it how much of conservative politics are based on denial and its kissing cousin, exceptionalism.


BP BS on Stilts

The Washington Post dutifully stenographs a sterling example of political three-card monte in the service of the Plutonomy:

Money concerns didn’t drive Deepwater Horizon decisions, panel counsel says
The chief counsel for the president’s oil spill commission said Monday that concerns about money didn’t drive key decisions made on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig before the April 20 blowout that caused a massive oil spill and killed 11 people.
The conclusion is good news for BP, which has been widely criticized for letting concerns about the roughly $1.5 million a day cost of the drilling rig affect choices that might have prevented the blowout.
“To date, we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety,” said Fred Bartlit, general counsel for the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.
He added that he didn’t believe that rig workers “want to risk their lives or the lives of their buddies.” He said: “I’ve been on a lot of rigs, and I don’t believe people sit there and say, ‘This is really dangerous, but the guys in London will make more money.’ We don’t see a concrete situation where people made a trade-off of safety for dollars.”
BP made the operation riskier with a number of decisions, said Sean Grimsley, one of the commission investigators…
“We think they introduced a certain amount of risk into the situation that may not have been necessary,” Grimsley said…
“The question is, why these experienced men out on that rig talked themselves into believing that this was a good test that established well integrity,” he said. “None of these men out of that rig wanted to die.”

Notice the deft and expert misdirection! The story is no longer: BP corporate policy was to cut corners wherever possible in order to improve the profits available to the executives in the corner office, a policy that eventually led to the deaths of 19 workers and an enormous environmental disaster.

The new, improved, plutonomy-friendly story is: It would be cruel and unproductive to blame well-intentioned middle managers and hard-working rig employees of deliberately making decisions that would kill their fellows and negatively affect the company’s bottom line.

This is why the ‘Kaplan Daily‘ is still publishing. In the days of a dying empire, the strategic skills — and strong stomach — required to re-write current events to better serve the Narrative preferred by the ruling class are a very, very valuable asset.

Global warming vs. healthcare reform ctd.

Joe Romm responds at great length to my post on global warming vs. healthcare reform. I think we’re running into a simple disagreement of priority here. Romm is obviously very concerned with climate change. It is his specialty and his focus on the subject makes him more concerned with climate change legislation than with healthcare reform. That’s fine, we’re all entitled to our priorities.

I’m not going to go into great length countering each and every one of Romm’s points. Suffice to say, he – like many commenters here – sees the risk of not tackling climate change as a very real, clear and present danger. He has a great deal of scientific data which shows the possible effects of climate change now and in the future and it’s pretty scary stuff. I completely agree that something should be done, must be done. He also says that he never said healthcare reform shouldn’t be done at all. Likewise, I never said climate change legislation should never be done at all. We both were arguing over which should take priority. Romm seems to have twisted my argument in such a way as to imply that I don’t favor any action at all on climate change. On the contrary, I favor a carbon tax.

However, I don’t think climate change legislation was possible as the first priority and I think tackling it would have almost certainly killed healthcare reform as well. I think it can be done as a second-term, hopefully post-recession piece of legislation and it can be done through the reconciliation process, but not until there’s enough Democrats on board to get 51 votes in the Senate, and I don’t think there are in an election year.

Read more


Bill McKibben and his co-conspirators attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of American History’s Greatest Monster and “Bring solar power back to the White House“:

A few of us have spent the past week carefully transporting a relic of American history down the East Coast, trying to return it to the White House, where it belongs.
It’s not a painting spirited from the Lincoln Bedroom or an antique sideboard stolen from the Roosevelt Room by some long-ago servant. No, this relic comes from the somewhat more prosaic Carter roof. It’s a solar panel, one of a large array installed on top of the White House in June 1979.
When he dedicated the panels, President Jimmy Carter made a prophecy that, like many oracles, came true in unexpected fashion — in fact, nothing better illustrates both why the world is heating and why the American economy is falling behind its competitors.
“In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy,” he said. “A generation from now this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.” …

Anybody here can tell us more about McKibben’s 10-10-10 Global Work Party?