Will the GOP’s untenably calamitous position on clean energy and climate make them a permanent minority party?

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"Will the GOP’s untenably calamitous position on clean energy and climate make them a permanent minority party?"

The Republican conservative party is engaged in a murder-suicide pact.  They will commit climaticide followed closely by political suicide.

With the departure of moderate Sen. Arlen Specter from the GOP and the circling of the wagons by the remaining right-wing idealogues — a pre-20th century metaphor seemed most apt — I thought it worth pointing out the dead end path the entire party is on.

The conservative movement stagnation has staked its entire political future on an uber-short-term anti-scientific quest for political gain at the expense of humanity’s self-destruction (see also House GOP pledge to fight all action on climate. “Why do conservatives hate your children?” and “Hill conservatives reject all 3 climate strategies and embrace Rush Limbaugh“).

Yet, while their united effort to demagogue any effort to make global warming polluters pay may well succeed in blocking strong enough domestic and international action to preserve a livable climate — conservatives can’t stop the scientific reality of catastrophic climate change caused by the human emissions they seek to accelerate.  And so their calamitous climate position will become increasingly untenable, increasingly divorced from reality.

Right now they are filling up YouTube with videos of the most insane statements (see House GOP leader Boehner on ABC: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.” and Rep. Shimkus: Cutting CO2 emissions is “Taking away plant food from the atmosphere” and Rep. Barton: Climate change is ‘natural,’ humans should just ‘get shade’ “” invites ‘expert’ TVMOB (!) to testify).  And they have stacked their “House GOP American Energy Solutions Group” with global warming deniers like Michele Bachmann.

Over the next decade, the painful reality of human caused global warming will really start to hit home (see “Climate Forecast: Hot “” and then Very Hot” and “Nature article on ‘cooling’ confuses media, deniers: Next decade may see rapid warming“).  We are likely to see an increasing number of “near-term climate Pearl Harbors.”  By the 2020s, we may well be approaching the collapse of the entire Ponzi scheme (see “When the global Ponzi scheme collapses (circa 2030), the only jobs left will be green“)

Ultimately, if we don’t avert Hell and High Water, the public will ask “Who lost the climate?”  And the answer to that question will be painfully clear.

E&E Daily (subs. req’d) had a piece out yesterday, “GOP on offense in fight against Dems’ global warming bill.”  I will just excerpt it at length below because it is a defining picture of the state of the GOP today, with just a tiny minority standing up against the tidal wave of denial and delay.

Although framed here in strictly political terms, which is typical, this decision by the GOP is in fact the single most important story happening anywhere in the world in recent memory.  After all, if the GOP took the responsible path, then the country could easily adopt legislation that would put this country on track to help avert catastrophic warming.  But they won’t.

When it comes to climate change, Republicans are all over the map. Some are skeptics about the science and causes of global warming, while others worry about the potential economic costs of a cap-and-trade program.

What brings them together? Democrats.

From demanding more hearings on the House Democrats’ climate change and energy bill to asking Al Gore about potential financial gains from renewable energy investments, the GOP is on the offensive and dialing up the rhetoric.

“This is the largest assault on democracy and freedom in this country that I have ever experienced,” Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said at an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last week, adding that he feared the cap-and-trade proposal more than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and former President Clinton’s impeachment trial.

Earlier this month, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on national television boldly questioned U.S. EPA’s decision to propose regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, saying “the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”

And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who is flirting with his own 2012 presidential run, made the ultimate threat, saying President Obama could lose the White House over global warming. “If he signs a trillion-dollar tax increase, I suspect it’ll make it much harder for him to get re-elected because I think the economy would react to the tax increase,” Gingrich said last week.

Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans won a small victory yesterday, as Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) punted a markup to next week and agreed to an extra hearing Friday on their draft bill.

Meanwhile, Republicans are criticizing Democrats for not being more transparent. Waxman and Markey left blank the section on emission allowances, prompting the GOP to throw the kitchen sink at the majority for failing to disclose the full details of the bill and accusing Waxman of arm-twisting and using back-room secret deals to buy votes.

When the markups do come, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), ranking member of the full committee, is promising “mass chaos.”

Moderates wait and see

But not all Republicans are taking such a hard line.

“It’s up to the individual member,” said Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), a potential Senate candidate next year. “I’ve been here for 17 years. Half the time, I’m at odds with leadership and in trouble with leadership. It doesn’t bother me. From a political point of view, sometimes it’s even helpful. But I don’t do it for that reason. I believe in the science. I’m not on the side who says it doesn’t exist.”

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), an Energy and Commerce Committee member, insists she has not made up her mind on the issue, and she will be pushing Waxman and Markey to improve the legislation. “My concern truly is the cost,” Bono Mack said.

Former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) voted for Boehner in the 2006 leadership race. But the lobbyist was not thrilled when he heard Boehner’s comments on ABC’s “This Week.” Boehlert said he brought a copy of a National Academy of Sciences report on climate to Boehner’s office.

“That was not one of his better performances, and he’s exceptionally good,” Boehlert said. “I have to admit I winced a little bit at what he had to say. … I’d suggest he’s got a little more homework to do.”

Other moderates are content to oppose the climate bill on partisan principle, saying Democrats have not reached out to them. “At this point, the speaker is leading the legislation to a very partisan dead end,” said Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who is considering his own 2010 run for the Senate seat vacated by Obama.

Kirk said he looks to the 2008 Republican presidential nominee’s climate position. “For those of us who are pro-environment, we all follow John McCain and his view,” he said.

McCain, who previously sponsored cap-and-trade legislation, has hammered the Obama administration for linking its cap-and-trade proposal to middle-class tax cuts.

Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former top presidential campaign aide to McCain, said the GOP is well aware that climate change is a serious issue. But there is no support for the current House Democratic approach, which links a cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide emissions with other mandates for renewable energy and other initiatives. “You get a funny picture as a result,” he said.

Democrats have put out several olive branches to the Republicans. Waxman and Markey hosted a closed-door briefing with GOP members just before the April recess. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), known for his bipartisan ways, also has had the door open for several years.

“My sense is for the moment, the Republicans have decided to opt out of the legislative drafting process,” Boucher said. “I’m sure they’re developing amendments they’ll offer at the markup. I’m hoping at some future point in the process, we’ll have bipartisan participation in the process. I think it’s important to have that.”

Some Republicans can make “constructive contributions,” Boucher said. “The question is when that might happen.”

Potential benefits for GOP?

GOP leaders see political red meat in the climate debate, especially for vulnerable Democrats who represent districts with a heavy industrial base.

“I think a lot of people at the NRCC hope it passes by just one vote,” said Energy and Environment Subcommittee ranking member Fred Upton (R-Mich.), referring to the National Republican Congressional Committee. “It’s a pretty heavy burden.”

Senate Republican Campaign Committee Chairman John Ensign of Nevada sent out a fundraising e-mail last week to supporters about Obama’s climate plan with the subject line: “Dead on Arrival.”

Some Republicans are taking aim at the climate bill with an eye on how it plays with their conservative base and its fears of an expanding federal government.

“In the blizzard of analysis, it’s pretty clear there will be a lot of money coming in, a lot of spending going out with significant economic consequences,” said Eric Ueland, one-time chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). “And you don’t need to look at every snowflake to know you’re in a whiteout.”

The GOP leadership’s branding tactics have started to work, according to Bono Mack. “The cap-and-tax logo, slogan, is effective for a lot of people,” she said. “Cap and tax is sticking a little bit.”

Republicans are also trying to rebound after losing Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008. They are also fighting Democratic claims the GOP is bereft of ideas and is content to simply serve as a roadblock to Obama.

Barton’s plan is to offer an alternative climate bill focusing on emission standards for new power plants, as well as broader “all of the above” domestic energy production amendments. Other Republicans are focusing on efforts to jump-start new nuclear power plant construction.

“I’d underscore the Republicans on the committee are not unifying around doing nothing,” Ueland said. “That’s a false canard tossed out from the White House briefing room, but bares little relation to reality. Barton has said there a lot of responsible ways to go. You can’t simply conclude the Republicans are in a situation of being a ‘Party of No.’”

Boehlert said the multiple messages reflects the wide tent for the party.

“They’re not going to score many points with their conference, or chart a path to majority status if they spend all their time complimenting the new president, the administration and the enhanced majority,” Boehlert said. “Their task is to be responsible opponents, to focus on areas where they can pinpoint their differences and hopefully appeal to the broader electorate to find acceptance to that message.”

But Boehlert warned that it won’t work for the GOP to just fight the Democrats’ climate bill without offering a credible alternative. “I’d suggest if they hope to do it on climate change, and focus a great deal on all their eggs in that basket, a yet to be clearly defined climate change response measure, that’d not be the wisest move they make. That’s not a clear path to majority status.”

Apparently, conservatives not only don’t care about the health and well-being of your children, they don’t even care about the health and well-being of their “movement,” as the Washington Post reports today in “Will GOP Sleep Through Wake-Up Call?“:

Weighing in on one side yesterday was Rush Limbaugh. “He’s not a moderate,” Limbaugh said of Specter. “He is a liberal Republican, and this is a natural winnowing process that is taking place. . . . Within the Republican Party, people who are not really Republicans are now leaving. People who are not really conservatives are now really leaving. So it’s going to be not much smaller, but it’s going to be a little bit more focused a party and a base.”

Good riddance, big tent!

Let’s just hope the party irreversibly self-destructs before civilization does.

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19 Responses to Will the GOP’s untenably calamitous position on clean energy and climate make them a permanent minority party?

  1. charlie says:

    Joe, you’re over reaching. Economy is down 6% in Q1, that will remain the biggest issue for two years. However stupid the GOP is on the climate issue, the climate issue is not the #1 priority for voters.

    [JR: Huh? How can you read my post and think I'm talking about two years? Try reading it again and then post commentary that might be relevant to what I actually said.]

  2. Jim says:

    The Republican leadership should take heed of Feynman’s warning, “Nature cannot be fooled.”

  3. Bullwinkle says:

    AGW far from the biggest problem they have. It’s not what’s driving their death spiral. It’s their self-reinforced collective denial of reality.

    They lynch anyone in their party who tries to work within the world as it really is. I can’t think of a single non-evangelical christian issue that the public agrees with them on. They are a religious party that better fits the definition of a church. The GOP requires blind, unthinking, unquestioning faith in their dogma.

    IMHO, they are not far from becoming the American Taliban. Yes, I think they ARE (Oklahoma City) that dangerous.

  4. Phillip Huggan says:

    Whereas Al-Qaeda has controlled maybe tens of $billions$ in opium and oil revenue, Republicans had hundreds of $trillions$.
    With it they’ve withdrawn from nuclear inspection regimes, I haven’t heard the employ Soviet nuclear scientists meme since 2003, ignored Pakistan’s loose nuclear fuel, and increased by about 10x the # of zealot who want to nuke America.
    They’ve fought against flu pandemic Obama funding and blocked the appointment of a DHHS.
    The AGW link is obvious.
    In short, made all major human extinction threats worse. I can just imagine their influence over 22nd century robotics, AI and nanotechnologies.

    The only question for the world of the future is whether it is Republicans who are an Axis of Evil, or Americans (who tend to elect Republicans regularly). On the Canadian end of the AGW fight, I consider our Government and two MSM CEOs very womanly. Cheerleading for our extinction and not fighting for civilization is a feminine character trait. If there is a god I don’t think he would look to kindly upon causing so much future suffering to Muslims, Christians, atheists, Buddhists, and Rastafarians of the future world. Neocons live a bling bling rap video without the rhymes. There is nothing righteous about a future Holocaust.

  5. Lou Grinzo says:

    The right wing has no choice but to push the anti-science line ever harder.

    They’re in the minority, they don’t have the WH, and Obama is looking like a pragmatist who can move remarkably fast in fixing the results of the eight-year train wreck of the previous administration. If Obama and the Dems succeed, the Republicans have nothing to stand on–their guy drove us into the ditch, and the other camp’s guys saved the day.

    All they have left is to go Rovian and push these absurd lines of argument (with more than a little help from the usual suspects in the media) in an effort to hold onto and invigorate their base. It’s a lousy bet, but it’s all they have left.

  6. Gary says:

    Clearly not your day with the leftie brain cell.

    Your should really wait untill it is your turn with it before attempting to write about anything other than socialism.

    The real world is far too complicated for your empty head.

    [JR: Well argued. I'm convinced!]

  7. Bullwinkle says:

    Indeed Gary! You post is an excellent example of why the GOP is in the ditch. Keep playing that hand. God bless you!

  8. Dirk says:

    The GOP went off the rails when they joined the Dems as the party of big government. Now they’re on the right track fighting the scam of the century, “global warming”. Al Gore said the Arctic Ice will melt in five years- so we don’t have to wait too long to see you guys are out of touch with reality as this solar cycle (which is what drives climate) moves us further and further away from the IPCC predictions.

    Hopefully the GOP can save state’s rights so that there will be some states left pursuing American ideals instead of creating a welfare state to support the 40% of babies currently being born to unwed mothers while the public worries about your climate change bogeyman. Because if America didn’t exist- would we have known how bad Soviet living standards were?

  9. Rick Covert says:

    Dirk,

    You’re a self parody. The IPCC predictions are already on the low side of likely increase in global average temperature.

    You’re not serious about the GOP and states rights are you? The Bush administration hamstrung California’s attempt to reign in green house gas emssions in the state by hamstringing the California Air Resources Board’s regulations that would curb CO2 emissions.

  10. Bullwinkle says:

    Dirk, I realize you are a denier, but when the arctic is does melt, what excuse will you use then? Mother nature isn’t listening to you!

  11. gofer says:

    Rasmussen generic Congressional ballot:

    Republicans 41%
    Democrats 38%

    The democrats have lost 10 points since the election. Who’s on the decline?? Considering even 51% of democrats don’t buy into “climate change”, while it’s at the bottom of people’s concerns, it’s the dems on the ropes and not just for this reason only.

  12. Rick Covert says:

    gofer,

    maybe you should have read an article on the Rasmussen website titled, “Is The Beltway GOP Irrelevant?” written by Scott Rasmussen before you draw any conclusions. He writes about the ever widening divide between the beltway Republicans and their base. Tea parties aside, he concludes with this statement, “Look for the Republican Party to sink further into irrelevancy as long as its key players insist on hanging around Congress or K Street for their ideas. The future for the GOP is beyond the Beltway.”

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_scott_rasmussen/is_the_beltway_gop_irrelevant

  13. David B. Benson says:

    Dirk — The solar cycle helps drive decadal weather patterns, not the longer time, at least 30 years, climate.

  14. Jim Eager says:

    Joe, please leave Gary’s, Dirk’s, and Gofer’s comments as an example of what the crud left at the bottom of the GOP’s base sounds like.

  15. Gary says:

    Jim;
    I am not a GOP member. I am not even American.
    I have simply seen way too much of this alarmist nonsense to remain serious about it.
    With the absolute mass of evidence and good science that refutes the AGW “THEORY” it is really difficult to keep a streight face and serious attitude.
    Its just such a joke.
    Except for the part where we willingly waist precious resources fighting a ficticius enemy.
    Sorry but AGW is just wrong.
    Just like the last three Global warming scares and the last two Global cooling scares.

    Study history and you too can laugh at this farce.

  16. Stuart says:

    “absolute mass of evidence and good science”?

    Please post a link to your research – you should also send it to the Nobel committee.

    This should be good…

  17. Jim Eager says:

    Notice that Gary types many assertions, but not one shred of substantiation.

  18. GAry says:

    Stuart and Jim;
    I have neither the time or the iclination to educate you.
    The information is so abundant that you simply have to want to avoid it to not find it everywhere these days.
    The AGW movement is literally wabbling on it last legs and I really don’t need to waste my time any more pointing it out.
    AGW is a dead man walking. It will colapse on its own without my help before the year ends.

    do keep finghting for real causes however. After this farce ends there will be a lot of work to do to repair the damage done to Science and Environmentalism.

    there are real problems that need solving.

  19. Jim Eager says:

    Gary writes: yada…., yada…., yada…..

    Nothing but more delusional keyboard diarrhea.