Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bro, do you even frack?

As the reasons not to support Clinton and the Democratic party dwindle in the Naderite pockets of the Left, one issue continues to be raised, and will continue to be raised, because it's a motherfucker.

Fracking.  No one except energy companies like it, and yet Obama, and now Clinton, won't support a ban.  What gives?  I mean, it's safe to assume that at least Clinton's reticence is purely the product of her being purchased, via campaign donations, by the oil and gas industry, right?


I encounter this argument all the time, and kittens, it's like those people have never even stopped to consider that energy is sort of a zero sum game.   I mean, yes, our need for it increases constantly, but given the totality of our need, what we take from one place necessarily reduces what we take from another.  And what we take in the fracking fields reduces what we buy from other countries, and specifically reduces coal consumption overall.

By reducing what we import from other countries, we increase domestic employment, and we reduce our own prices.  The natural gas boom in the US has meant a 47% decrease in the price of natural gas, which saved the average US household $200 a year.  That's not nothing.  To poor families in the winter, that's a lot.  Over the entirety of energy consumers, including electricity consumers, fracking has meant a total savings of 74 billion.   To say nothing of the considerable savings we've experienced at the pump.  Again, to the middle class and below, these savings are extremely important to a family's ability to make ends meet.

And the switch from coal to natural gas has reduced nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions drastically.  Our air quality has actually improved because of fracking, with generators emitting 25-45% less nasty stuff.

Something else, too.  You know those giant supertankers that bring imported oil to our shores?  Did you know that, because of the kind of fuel that they burn, just 16 of those ships create as much filthy, sulfurous, people-killing pollution as all the automobiles in the world?  To say nothing of oil spills at sea.

So, wanting to reduce their use for oil imports is, again, not nothing.  It's important.  And fracking has done that.

And of course there are also the somewhat more difficult-to-quantify benefits of not having to spend quite so much time defending our oil interests in foreign countries.  That's a whole can of worms, huh?

Okay, so I imagine I'm well past the point where you're all either gone, or have written me off entirely because AM I DEFENDING FRACKING FOR FUCK'S SAKE??

Not exactly.  But not exactly not.  What I'm in favor of, is understanding the consequences of our actions, and so if you insist on a complete and total ban on fracking, you should also understand not just the bad effects that you want to eliminate, which, yes, are considerable - but also the benefits that you would also eliminate.

I know.  Shit's complicated.

But of course ultimately the goal is to eliminate fossil fuels altogether, and thrive on a diet of sunshine and warm breezes, and maybe recycled unicorn manure.  Some would say that by lowering our oil and gas costs, fracking offers us complacency, thereby delaying our essential ventures into alternative forms of energy.

And they may be right.  But if they're right, then that means that what WILL motivate us into giving up fossil fuels, is the rest of the world suffering from the effects of oil and gas extraction, while we protect ourselves from those same effects.

I think anyone who knows anything about the US, knows that we are seldom motivated by the suffering of those outside our own borders.  Not that we don't feel bad about the suffering of foreigners, because, hey, je suis Charlie, n'est pas?  But does that empathy actually motivate us to do anything about their suffering?  I mean, of course, you can always feel free to assume the best about us.  Who could that hurt, that really matters?

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Tick tock

I think that among Democrats, the most oft-repeated phrase I've heard this primary season has been, "I still think that Bernie should stay in the race..."

Because ideas.  Because moving Left.  Because, oh, I don't know....Yosemite?

Once it was clear that Clinton was going to win, which was always clear, but let's just say it was indisputable after South Carolina.  Or Super Tuesday, if that makes you feel better.  Once, it was clear that she was going to win, Sanders should have bugged the fuck out.

Not just because he could not win, but because he kept saying that he could.  As late as the weekend before the California* primary, when Clinton was within spitting distance of the goal, Sanders said that it was "extremely unlikely" that Clinton would have the "requisite number of pledged delegates" after that Tuesday's voting.  He then inexplicably claimed that "At the end of the nominating process, no candidate will have enough pledged delegates to call the campaign a victory."

Um, what?

 That goes way beyond "We can still do this!" -type cheerleading.  That's what we call a lie.  Why would Sanders tell his supporters that Clinton could not achieve the delegate total as she was on the very cusp of reliably and predictably doing exactly that?  

I cannot say.  But I do know, that many of his supporters believed it.  They believed it.  And so when Clinton did do what was inevitable, many of them were angry.  Angry that they had been lied to.  Except they apparently could not bear to be angry at their beloved leader, you know, the one who was so unlike a politician that he could never lie?  So they instead become angry at Clinton, her supporters, her surrogates, and even the press, instead of facing the truth that their candidate, a politician, had told them a political lie in a politically expedient way, to gain political advantage.

It has been thus throughout the primary, with Sanders supporters blaming the DNC and the Clinton campaign for every loss.  Every lost registration, every line at the polling place, every expired deadline, every poor dumbfounded poll worker who was clueless about crossover ballots vs. provisional ballots, it was all the machinations of the great DNC machine and its scheming harpie leader, even in places, like Maricopa County, Arizona, where Democrats are as rare in the halls of government as a good idea.

Politics and social policy are fucked up enough, and we surely do not need to be encouraging another generation of conspiracy-minded youth.  They've got climate change to deal with, and global trade to figure out, and how the fuck are they going to solve problems with facts and science when the guy they believe in tells them that he's "pretty good at arithmetic" while also implying that 2178 is not greater than 2026?   How are they going to navigate the legislative branch when their role model tells them that tantrums are an acceptable alternative to preparation?  Or that if someone disagrees with you, you can always scream the word "cunt" at her until she goes away?

It's Sanders's fault they're so angry, and no one else's.**  And the longer he sticks around, telling them lies about how this is all going to shake out in his favor, the worse it is for them, and for us.  All of us.
So, no, his presence is not making the Democratic Party "better." It's not improving the conversation.  It's not doing one good thing.  And so I know it's hard to go from thousands of faces at a rally, adoring you and screaming your name, to your desk in a DC office looking at this guy, but dude, come on.  Time to go.

*Yes, I know other states voted too.  Shut up, we're enjoying being relevant.

**Maybe his campaign manager a little bit.  That guy is a dick.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Submitted to a candid world

OMG you guys, THANK GOD that Bernie Sanders will have representatives on the committee that drafts the 2016 Democratic Party Platform, because otherwise how will Democrats express our newly found disdain for Wall Street excesses and the havoc they wreak upon our society?

Oh wait.
From the 2012 Democratic Party Platform:
"Wall Street Reform - A strong middle class can only exist in an economy where everyone plays by the same rules, from Wall Street to Main Street. That's why President Obama and Democrats in Congress overcame fierce opposition from the financial industry to pass the most far-reaching Wall Street reform in generations…"
Well, sure in 2012 because Dodd Frank, but before that…

Oh wait.

From the 2008 Democratic Party Platform: 
“Reforming Financial Regulation and Corporate Governance - We have failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practices. We have let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales…”
Okay well maybe President Obama has emphasized it somewhat, but before that, I’m sure it was crickets from the Democrats on corporate malfeasance.

Oh wait.
From the 2004 Democratic Party Platform: 
“Free Markets and Honest Competition - …Competition and free markets depend on trust, transparency, and integrity. We are committed to requiring honesty in corporate accounting effective corporate governance, a fair shake for small investors and worker pension funds, a level playing field and competitive bidding practices for those who wish to transact business with the government, and vigorous prosecution of criminal conduct in executive suites.

Well shit.  But come on, for sure Democrats never said anything in the past about election finance reform:

Aw, goddamn it!
2012: “Lobbying Reform and Campaign Finance Reform - Our political system is under assault by those who believe that special interests should be able to buy whatever they want in our society, including our government. Our opponents have applauded the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United and welcomed the new flow of special interest money with open arms. In stark contrast, we believe we must take immediate action to curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests on our political institutions…We support legislation to close loopholes and require greater disclosure of campaign spending.” 
2008: “We support campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests, including public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time. We will have the wisdom to put the public interest above special interests.” 
2000: “Renewing Our Democracy and Campaign Finance Reform - In the year 2000, along with all the other big choices they have to make, Americans will be making a choice about who's running their country: the people or the special interests, the voters or the lobbyists, the many or the few. We must restore American's faith in their own democracy by providing real and comprehensive campaign finance reform, creating fairer and more open elections, and breaking the link between special interests and political influence.”

Hey, so what’s going on here?  Why is everyone talking about the Democrats embracing issues, via their platform, that they have in fact always embraced?  Could it be that the Democratic Party has, collectively, identified and prioritized these issues for many, many years now?  Could it be that the problem is NOT the intentions of the Democratic Party?

Maybe the problem is that the Democratic Party is opposed by fully one half of this country, and that Democratic representatives are hampered from implementing reform by…the other party.  You know, the party that screams about immigrants and gays every time there’s an election? 

Maybe the issue is not the fucking platform.

Kittens, it baffles me to the core that anyone could believe that the Democratic Party Platform will be significantly different this year due to the inclusion of Sanders appointees to the Platform Committee.  I suspect that anyone who believes that it WILL be significantly different this year, does so because THEY’VE NEVER READ THE PARTY PLATFORM and have not fucking clue one what has EVER been in it.

The Democratic Party is made up of a bunch of imperfect people, and we will never be an immaculate monolith, but we are the party who is trying to fix what is wrong, and we have to drag the other half of the country, kicking and screaming and firing automatic weapons, along with us every time we try to do one good goddamn thing.  And yeah, we are the party that sometimes has to give up A, in order to get B and C.  And we are also the party that loses more of the Congress in every midterm, loses more seats to those fucking morons and contemptible assholes in every election, because all you people who are bitching about the Democratic Party right now have never even tried to support us.  Never even fucking tried.  Because if you did vote for Democrats?  In every election?  Not once every four years or when it’s someone cool but every time?  You know what would happen?  The party would move further Left. 

That’s right.  It would move further Left.  Maybe, eventually, even into GLORIOUS REVOLUTION territory.  And how do I know this?  How do I know that the Democrats would give up trying to win the political Center?  Because the Republicans already did it.  They gave up trying to win the Center, and they did it because they could.  They didn’t need the Center anymore because their supporters on the Right FUCKING SHOW UP TO VOTE FOR THEM.

I don’t know, maybe one day voters on the Left will figure out that the only way to win, the only way to achieve a party that truly represents the progressive Left is to show up to support our great ideas, imperfect as our messengers may be, just like those crazy fucking GOP idiots show up to support their terrible fucking ideas.

So, fuck yes, fight over those great ideas, fight over the fucking platform, Democrats, including all you party crashers who’ve been here for five minutes and are pretty sure you know everything about us.  Fight over that platform, and then you know, when we’re done doing that, there’s something that we could all do that would be really helpful, and that is, to read the damn thing.  Read it.  Just to make sure you understand what exactly it is that we’ve been on about for all these fucking years.

And then go vote.