L.A. Times: Obama is throwing “the environment and public health under a bus” to get reelected

Editorial board warns “It’s possible for a president to so alienate his base that it fails to show up on election day”

In the 2012 campaign, environmentalists don’t matter

That’s the message President Obama is sending as the administration caters to smokestack and other industries

Ouch.  The L.A. Times editorial board has delivered a blistering editorial that everybody in the White House should read.  Here’s the whole thing:

Shortly after his party’s “shellacking” in the midterm election, President Obama ordered government agencies to ensure that new regulations took economic growth into consideration and that old ones be revoked if they “stifle job creation or make our economy less competitive.” Five months later, it’s becoming pretty clear what he meant: The environment and public health will be thrown under a bus for the sake of his reelection in 2012.

The latest victim of the administration’s new political direction is a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule to limit emissions from industrial boilers, which power oil refineries, chemical plants and other factories. The EPA indefinitely rescinded the proposal this week, citing Obama’s January executive order on regulations and claiming that the agency hadn’t had time to properly address industry concerns about the rule since a draft was released in September. The EPA first proposed a version of the boiler rules in 2004, and it has had ample time and input to get it right by now.

Also put on a slow track by the administration are new rules on storing toxic coal ash, an issue EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said she’d address in the wake of a disastrous Tennessee spill in 2008; earlier this month, EPA officials said they wouldn’t get around to finishing the rules, which were expected by the end of last year, until at least 2012. The powerful coal industry scored another victory when the administration delayed an EPA guideline on mountaintop-removal mining last month.

In the calculus of presidential politics, environmentalists don’t much matter in 2012. The economy is the top subject on Americans’ minds, and Obama no doubt figures he can blunt criticism of his regulatory record and maybe corral some independent voters by cutting smokestack industries a little slack. Never mind that the economic calculus doesn’t pencil out; according to EPA estimates, the rule on industrial boilers would cost polluters $1.4 billion a year, but the value of its health benefits would range from $22 billion to $54 billion. And never mind that the rule would prevent up to 6,500 premature deaths each year.

But those are moral and financial reasons to regulate, not political ones. Here’s an argument Obama and his political advisors might grasp: It’s possible for a president to so alienate his base that it fails to show up on election day. Something to keep in mind before November 2012 rolls around.

Hear!  Hear!

NOTE:  I don’t view this finally paragraph as a “threat” from the L.A. Times, but rather a warning that Obama’s political calculations are beginning to border on the counterproductive (even from a narrow political perspective and separate from his dreadful messaging which has been counterproductive for two years now).  He is alienating environmental voters — and pointlessly so (see “Is Obama’s call for more drilling bad messaging masquerading as cynical policy “” or vice versa?“)

That said, I am quite certain that the reality of the actual GOP nominee will make the contrast evident enough, so I’m not certain what the specific impact on 2012 will be.  That said, until enviros figure out how to inflict a cost for those who oppose them — as the NRA, Chamber, and AARP do, for instance — how will they ever become a genuine political force?

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69 Responses to L.A. Times: Obama is throwing “the environment and public health under a bus” to get reelected

  1. What’s up with the “Obama throwing ____ under a bus” meme this week? I get the metaphor and all but come on …

  2. madcity smitty says:

    That’s absurd. As angry as I get with Obama about these cave-ins, what are we supposed to do? Sit out the next election? Are they crazy?
    Or, vote for a third-party candidate? Nader, in Florida in 2000…that worked out well, didn’t it! Or, writing in McCarthy in 1968 instead of voting for Humphrey–which I actually did–and was the dumbest vote I ever made.

    These hollow threats that the base will sit it out, leave me cold.

    [JR: I don’t see this as a threat, but a warning that one can triangulate oneself into political oblivion.]

  3. Sunshine says:

    “I’ve got an ingrown toe-nail. Gonna get my pistol and shoot it off. I’ll show that toe. ”

    The corollary is obvious if dems/enviros don’t show up on election day.

  4. Sunshine says:

    Shooting off a toe to spite the foot is an old saying I’ve heard since I was a kid about someone doing something out of spite/remorse. Regardless of how discontented we are with bureaucratic environmental progress, or the lack thereof, staying home and pouting on election day will assure us one thing – a GOP candidate who couldn’t give a flip about the environment.

  5. John L. McCormick says:

    Yes, lets throw President Obama under that bus.

    And, lets see who is standing there at the curb clapping.

    John McCormick

  6. Susan Anderson says:

    This is so sad on so many levels. Yes, Obama should pay more close attention to what is happening and use his undoubted communication skills to point out the costs of dealing with continuous weather emergencies, not matter the statistical hedging that scientists must do.

    But no, absolutely no, a Republican would be MUCH much much much worse.

    We too need spines. Remember how we elected Bush (hint: Nader)? What a catastrophe!

  7. BR says:

    Sure, while this editorial might be cathartic, threats of the base not showing up to vote has done nothing other than, say, cause outcomes like 2010. (Yes, I know that it wasn’t only due to that factor, but there’s plenty of data showing that liberal voters didn’t show up as much as they had in the past, leading to the election of the most radical conservative congress in history.)

    We don’t want to repeat 2010, so let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  8. prokaryotes says:

    Hypothetical, couldn’t Al Gore rerun for election?

    [JR: Hypothetically, I could. Not gonna happen.]

  9. Jay Alt says:

    It is up to “we the people” to convince President Obama that the Environment Matters. Look what the T Baggers accomplishes with only ~20% of the population. With the “Rapture” coming up we should get even better odds.

    Posted by Leif

  10. David Fox says:

    He may be alienating his environmental voters, and I count myself among them, but many other things concern me as well. Such as; Guantanamo, the war in Afghanistan, and especially the most lawless war ever started by a president, Libya.

    There are many more items for which I am disappointed in Obama, so he lost my vote long time ago.

  11. Daniel Ives says:

    I certainly don’t think we should stay home on election day. Everyone should vote, no matter how upset or disappointed you are.

    But that doesn’t mean we should fall in line behind Obama just because we fear a GOP victory. Read Joe’s last sentence: “Until enviros figure out how to inflict a cost for those who oppose them — as the NRA, Chamber, and AARP do, for instance — how will they ever become a genuine political force?”

    Republicans who don’t support certain policies are basically guaranteed a primary challenge these days, thanks to the tea party. We need to do the same thing with Obama and the Democrats. And when there isn’t a primary (Obama will certainly not face one) we need to vote for a third party, not just threaten to. Obama knows that such threats are largely empty and come November we will all fall in line. For once, we need to prove that sentiment wrong, not by staying home, but by voting elsewhere.

    That’s my opinion at least.

  12. llewelly says:

    BR | May 20, 2011 at 10:32 am:

    … but there’s plenty of data showing that liberal voters didn’t show up as much as they had in the past …

    The PEW political typology of America showed that solid liberals supported Democrats more strongly than any other group in 2010. (See page 108 of the detailed tables.) The PEW political typology also showed that it was the strongest. And it was liberals who were most likely to have participated in a political event (again, pg 108 of the detailed tables).

  13. jcwinnie says:

    Sit back. Enjoy the show.

    BTW: The Maui Meter probably will hit 400 before the next puppet presidential election.

  14. MADurstewitz says:

    The enviro movement needs a good PR firm. It has a product: life as we know it. Now, it needs to learn how to market it. It needs to learn the lessons of the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, of Gandhi’s success against the British. Bike rides cannot do it. Small demonstrations cannot do it. It needs to be loud, very, very large and intimidating (I DO NOT ADVOCATE VIOLENCE). It needs to create fear amongst our congress critters. NOT fear for their safety, but fear for their careers as our “elected” officials. Kind of like the recent “Arab Spring.”

    Unfortunately, this will probably not come to pass until there’s a really big disaster that affects everyone’s sense of security. The localized ones haven’t worked. Katrina, Andrew, Ivan, Fukushima, southern tornados. The channel can be changed, the news cycle can kick it out.

    It’ll probably require famine here in the US.

  15. Sunshine says:

    Re David Fox @ 10: Saw a tshirt this week that fits this situation. It features a smurky W. face captioned:
    “I screwed all of you, but thanks for blaming the black guy.”

  16. John L. McCormick says:

    RE #6

    Susan, thnks for that reminder.

    “We too need spines. Remember how we elected Bush (hint: Nader)? What a catastrophe!”

    Those who ignore history get to relive it, sometimes.

    And AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is threatening to throw Dems under the bus if they do not stand up for middle class families.

    More cheering at curbside?

    John McCormick

  17. Jay Alt says:

    Still Leif here.
    I suppose that the corollary to Obama throwing the environmental concerns after promising us campaign action is that he has shown that like most politicians he is capable of saying one thing and doing another. After the next election, should he win, hopefully he will throw big money under the bus as at that point he would have nothing to lose.

  18. llewelly says:

    Jay Alt
    May 20, 2011 at 11:05 am:

    It is up to “we the people” to convince President Obama that the Environment Matters. Look what the T Baggers accomplishes with only ~20% of the population. With the “Rapture” coming up we should get even better odds.

    The PEW political typology of America (linked to in a comment of mine being held for moderation) showed that liberals are (a) a larger portion of the population than any other group, (b) more likely to have participated in a political event, (c) supported environmental regulations overwhelmingly, (d) supported Democrats and Obama overwhelmingly.

    Yes, blogs are full of vocal environmentalists who claim to be willing and able to ruin an election for the Democrats. But the data shows that either they don’t throw elections, or they can’t throw elections. Speaking as someone who has been consistently voting for the lesser evil for all my 19 years of adulthood, and has been seeing evil increase apace throughout my life, I have developed a certain amount of sympathy for those who wish that not supporting the lesser evil could throw an election and teach the Democrats a lesson. But I don’t see it happening.

    Add http:// for links:

  19. BR says:

    @llewelly: sure, but it’s about turnout, not support levels.

    I think this comes down to the dichotomy that Nate Silver elegantly wrote about a couple of years ago:

    Some folks are on the rational progressive side, others on the radical progressive side, but some are a mix. I’m a mix: I see things in radical terms, but know that with the system the way it is, the rational progressive approach is the one that will yield the most benefits. Nate Silver (and I’d say President Obama) are rational progressives. The difficulty I find with many radical progressives is that they tend to like to claim themselves as somehow pure (when they are so often not leading by example) and tend to let their emotions carry them rather than facts.

  20. Michael Tucker says:

    What about the new EPA CO2 regulations? What about the Republican attack on Existing (not new) clean air and water regulations? What about the Republican attempt to gut EPA in the name of deficit reduction? But delays or cancelations of these new rules are the last straws for the Times. So terrible that maybe we don’t show up to vote. Or maybe we try to split the Democratic vote to ensure a Republican victory. REALLY?!

    For me it is clear. Republicans HATE jobs for Americans, good health, the unemployed and the environment while third parties are just a way to siphon off votes.

  21. Jeff Huggins says:

    Two Final Paragraphs?

    What? Joe, I couldn’t quite follow the two final paragraphs in your post.

    First, I’ll say ‘Bravo’ to the L.A. Times. I’m glad to see that somebody is telling it like it is.

    Now for your paragraphs. You write, ‘NOTE: I don’t view this final paragraph as a “threat” from the L.A. Times, but rather a warning that Obama’s political calculations are beginning to border on the counterproductive.’

    My response is this: In my view, I think that a “threat” (although I’d use a different word) is just what’s needed, in this sense: At this point people should tell President Obama that a vote for him in the upcoming election (which in the case of most of those people would be a second vote for him, having voted for him last time) will DEPEND ON whether he gets his act together NOW and in the coming months — well before the election — regarding the climate change and energy issues. If he gets his act together NOW, and persistently over the coming twelve months, then he’ll have earned our votes for the upcoming election. If not, he won’t. That is my stance. So the L.A. Times, as it talks about the risk that President Obama may alienate his base, is talking about a “place” I already am. The President still has time (very little) to repair the relationship IF (and only IF) he gets his act together, starting NOW. This IS the message, in my view, that we should all be delivering to him.

    Joe, you write, “Obama’s political calculations are beginning to border on the counterproductive.” Is that what you really mean? “Beginning” to border on the counterproductive? “Border” on the counterproductive?

    [JR: Politically, yes. His dreadful messaging has been counterproductive for a long time. I’ve written tens of thousands of words on the subject so I wouldn’t think I would be misread by a regular reader.]

    They began to border on the counterproductive many, many months ago, then they became distinctly counterproductive, and now they are downright ineffective, deeply counterproductive, and I’d even call them bizarre. And to be clear: It’s NOT just because they AREN’T working and ARE, in themselves, counterproductive. It’s ALSO that they don’t match what he said he’d do and who he said he was! That is, of course, the bigger issue. I feel I voted for a person I didn’t know, a person who (it seems at this point) had me fooled. My trust in his straightforwardness, real intent, and competence is at an all-time low. So we aren’t merely talking about his “tactics” here: we’re talking about his integrity and coherence.

    In my view, he has to “find” and DEMONSTRATE (beginning now) integrity, verve, coherence, passion, competence, commitment, and etc. regarding climate change. Now. Period. If he expects to get my vote. Otherwise he won’t.

    Then you write, “I am quite certain that the reality of the actual GOP nominee will make the contrast evident enough.” But we simply can’t afford to sit back and vote based on such contrasts — based on the lesser of two evils, so to speak. Instead, we need to prompt effective action. And in the case of President Obama, it seems to me that he won’t be motivated enough to actually re-think his approach, change it, and DELIVER effective action unless we literally demand it of him, with conditions that involve his ability to get reelected.

    Finally, you write, “.. until enviros figure out how to inflict a cost for those who oppose them — as the NRA, Chamber, and AARP do, for instance — how will they ever become a genuine political force?”

    Regarding this sentence, first of all, I’d like to know if I am an “enviro”? Are you an “enviro”? Or are we just smart citizens — and parents as well — who are deeply concerned about climate change, the energy problems, future generations, other species, and a whole host of interrelated problems that any and all humans should be concerned with? Here, of course, I’m reacting to a categorization that (by the way it’s often used) sidelines groups of people and seems to diminish the valid concerns they have. Forgive the “tough love”, please, but I get tired of being categorized.

    However, IF I understand your point in this last sentence, I agree. We have to have a way to “inflict a cost on” — and certainly not reward — politicians who don’t do what they said they’d do and who don’t commit — with courage and verve — to accomplish our nearest and dearest goals. And the only cost we can inflict (so to speak) is at the ballot box. We have to be willing to say, credibly, “no performance, no vote!” And we have to make that message clear. (It does no good to leave it ambiguous, allowing the would-be candidate to assume he has votes when he really doesn’t, and thus allowing him to stick with an ineffective strategy without realizing the cost. Deterrents only work if you make them clear: Have you ever seen ‘Dr. Strangelove?’)

    I applaud the L.A. Times piece.

    Also, that message is no small thing, nor is it a feeling among only a small group of people. Although I don’t know the person or the details, so I can’t judge the matter one way or another, did you see the interview of Cornel West on TruthDig recently? Apparently there is more than one person who is doubting President Obama’s verve, integrity (between person and promise and policy), commitment to causes, courage, and coherence. These are signs that President Obama should take very seriously, and we should cause him to take very seriously. I for one am not going to vote (a second time) for him merely on the basis that the opposition would be worse. I’d rather vote for a third party in order to send a signal that will hopefully help “wake us up” for the next go-around. My vote, this time around, will have to be earned AHEAD OF TIME. I have to be re-convinced, and mere words and the promise of “hope” won’t do it. If we want ACTUAL PROGRESS, rather than “mere hope”, this is the stance that voters should take, I believe, and we should let President Obama know ASAP so he has time to “wake up” and change course, if he has it in him to do so.

    Cheers for now,


  22. llewelly says:

    Susan Anderson |
    May 20, 2011 at 10:21 am:

    Remember how we elected Bush (hint: Nader)?

    In 2000, there was a vocal campaign of Democrat/Green vote-trading, in which Democrats in uncontested states promised to vote for Nader, in return for promises that Naderites in close states would vote for Gore. Since Nader got 5% or more of the vote even in freako-conservative states like Utah, and less than 2% in Florida and other tightly contested states, it seems likely that this plan was more effective at shifting votes in contested states from Nader to Gore, than Nader was at shifting votes from Gore to Nader. (Among other items, Nader got more votes in Texas than in Florida.)

    But, in any case, it was not ballots that decided the 2000 election. It was the US Supreme Court that halted the recounts and chose Bush. When independent recounts of the ballots were completed, after the election, they favored Gore.

    Nader, as always, was merely a distraction.

    [JR: Nader worked hard to make sure Gore lost. He had promised not to campaign in swing states. But he did. He spent all of his time trying to convince voters that there was no difference between Gore and Bush. He bears some culpability for the outcome.]

  23. Mike Roddy says:

    We’d all like to hope that Obama does the right thing after he gets reelected- if he does, of course- but there’s not much evidence in that direction.

    It might be incorrect to assume that he has done so much to support oil drilling and the coal industry out of political expediency. These companies and their rapacious activities are not popular at all. It’s more plausible that Obama has relationships with them.

    The Salazar appointment is a good indicator here. Interior is supposed to be led by an actual environmentalist, not one who talks the talk while going after fossil fuels on public lands.

    It might be time for Democrats to get creative in the primaries. Strategies would include crossing over to support loony tune Tea Partiers in Republican primaries, or mounting concerted primary attacks to defeat and discredit Blue Dogs like Nelson, Becich, Tester, and Shuler. Obama is going to win the nomination anyway, so there is no point in wasting energy here.

    The Democratic Committee is sclerotic, just like RNC and corporations. Time to show everybody what “democracy” is supposed to mean.

  24. Theodore says:

    It is better to vote. Things could get worse. If the Republicans are left to run the government without adult supervision, all that separates America’s economic future from Haiti’s economic present is time.

  25. Jay Alt says:

    Theodore @ 23: And just how is that different than our present course?


  26. Barry says:

    Obama has shown over and over that he isn’t going to use the bully pulpit to try to persuade the American people to take more seriously the threats of climate destabilization. He has consistently punted on this, often on third down. It isn’t something he cares enough about to risk the voters not agreeing with him.

    Absolutely nobody in GOP is going to do better at this point, and most openly say they will do worse. Maybe there is a Nixon-to-China hope but that is sort of the political version of the breakthrough crowds argument about energy R&D.

    As Joe points out, the American people are not punishing climate inaction or denial at the ballot box. In fact they are often rewarding denial.

    We have no national leadership on climate from either party or from the voters themselves.

    At this point the only “spokesman” for climate destabilization threats is the increasingly freaky and damaging weather. The climate isn’t going to be lobbied or distracted or push-polled. That freight train is just coming bigger and more out-of-control everyday.

    Politico has a good article about several freshman t-party reps seeing tornadoes and floods pwn their districts and getting a little more nuanced about the role of federal spending.

  27. llewelly says:

    Mike Roddy | May 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm:

    Strategies would include crossing over to support loony tune Tea Partiers in Republican primaries

    Obama is already acting to prevent that. He’s knocked Trump out of the primaries.

  28. Mimikatz says:

    A large part of the problem is that the Tea Baggers were if not a creature of, then certainly promoted by Fox News and much of the rest of the media and the GOP and its allied groups like Americans for Prosperity (Koch funded). The Tea Baggers get coverage all out of proportion to their numbers (compare with the huge demonstrations in Wisconsin and other states on behalf of public workers and theri rights that received much less coverage). This is because the Tea Baggers support less gov’t and lower taxes, which align with the interests of the above powerful groups.

    Enviros are interpreted as wanting higher taxes (at least on carbon and the wealthy), more gov’t regulation (at least environmental) and changes in people’s lifestyles. The current interests of elites are in preserving and growing their share of the pie, so they are focused on “debt reduction” by which they mean no tax increases and smaller domestic non-security related government. Climate change is of concern only to insurance companies, and even there it is limited to offloading their risk. Power companies care too to some extent. Many companies see a way to lower costs by r3educing energyu usage and recycling, but that is as far as it goes.

    More people have to see themselves as losing something that really matters before we see a real push for change. That probably means another 9 years of dithering until it is too late for much of the Earth’s people and species.

  29. George Almond says:

    The only reasonable punishment for Obama’s poor performance that I can see is for him to be challenged in the primary. We can’t afford to lose the White House but we can afford to lose Obama. If he just barely eked out a primary win, that *might* get his attention. It *might* get him to change his tune.

    Sadly, I just don’t see a viable progressive challenger on the horizon within the ranks of the Democratic party.

  30. Solar Jim says:

    RE: Cornell West interview about the president (please see elsewhere)

    Isn’t it great in “the land of the free” that we get to “vote” between the party of oligarchic plutocracy and globalized corporate fascism.

    Of course, notes from the Federal Reserve (traded symbols of political power) have nothing to do with actual policy in our “democracy,” do they?

    In a time of consequences we live with illusions and delusions.

    An “Enviro” is a whole cost economist who is focused on true national and international security. It is a marginalizing term from fossil corporate/finance/gov/war-economy media. Howdy Orwell, welcome to the future.

  31. Joan Savage says:

    Joe’s closing line: “That said, until enviros figure out how to inflict a cost for those who oppose them — as the NRA, Chamber, and AARP do, for instance — how will they ever become a genuine political force?”

    The methods of those special interest groups provide some lessons. An organization that puts out a single voice call for a single next step is far more likely to succeed than a diffuse collection of voices with multiple priorities.
    And, add up how many votes are on the line for that next step.
    This successful approach shows up time and again across a range of issues.

  32. Lisa Boucher says:

    Mr. Romm acts exactly the right question:

    “Until enviros figure out how to inflict a cost for those who oppose them … how will they ever become a genuine political force?”

    And I agree with what Jeff Huggins wrote about President Obama having already alienated environmental voters.

    Many years ago I realized that no president could satisfy ecologically-aware voters as long as the national political game is so incredibly rigged by the systemic imperative for continual growth, and by the ability of corporations to purchase the candidates (made even worse by the Citizens United ruling).

    I did not vote for Obama, because I predicted the scenario that is now unfolding.  Neither did I stay home on election day.  I simply cast another protest vote, and I continue to speak out.  As many others have noted in the past, “When you vote for the lesser of two evils, you still choose evil.”

    It’s good to see criticism of Obama coming from more powerful institutions like the L.A. Times.  Perhaps the President will not dismiss this editorial so easily, as he did to others, such as the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party last year:

    “When we see you capitulate in advance of negotiations by submitting far less than the public needs and deserves (health care, financial regulation, public education, women’s reproductive rights) or affirmatively go in the other direction (civil liberties, the war in Afghanistan, to name a few instances), we are deeply offended.  Then, to add insult to injury, your Press Secretary, Mr. Gibbs, publicly castigates and belittles us as the ‘professional left’, whatever that means, and suggests that we need to be ‘drug tested’.”

  33. Richard Miller says:

    This is a crucial discussion.

    Joe’s comment at the end is important – ” until enviros figure out how to inflict a cost for those who oppose them — as the NRA, Chamber, and AARP do, for instance — how will they ever become a genuine political force?”

    In his paper on the US Environmental Movement, Robert Brulle, who Joe has had as a guest on CP, of Drexel writes the following:

    “The U.S. environmental movement is perhaps the single largest social movement in the United States. With over 6,500 national and 20,000 local environmental organizations, along with an estimated 20-30 million members, this movement dwarfs other modern social movements such as the civil rights or peace movements. It is also the longest running social movement. The first local environmental organizations were founded before the Civil War and several still existing national environmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society, and American Forests, were founded in the late 19th century.”


    If the various environmental groups could come together they could be a huge political force. The central issue then is how to bring these various environmental groups together such that they can approach Obama with a set of demands. If these demands are not met, these groups will ask their members to stay home come election day. Such a strategy would require that the Environmental Groups communicate to their members the scale of the carbon reduction challenge and how unimaginably bad it will be if we miss nature’s deadlines. It would also require that the environmental groups come to terms with the fact that irreversible catastrophic climate change will wipe out nearly all their previous efforts.

    Joe, it would be worth asking Robert Brulle to post on this issue.

  34. Zetetic says:

    As much as I wish that there was a viable political candidate that would treat the environment and financial reform as seriously as it needs to be taken, there isn’t one that has a snowball’s chance. It looks like at best the USA is going to be stuck with Obama as the lesser of two evils, if he wins. I hope I’m wrong about him, and that he does “the right thing” far more often in his 2nd term, but I doubt it based on his track record so far. At best Obama seems to be a compromise junky suffering from an advanced case of “Dem Disease”.

    At this point I think that USA’s best hope lies in major election reform. Perhaps by overhauling the corrupt election system the USA can finally get some politicians will to do what it takes to save society, may be even make it easier for other parties to win. With the Repubs trying to systematically undermine democracy maybe the Dems might make some progress on that front if they win a majority in 2012. Unfortunately, I think that most of the high ranking Dems are far too corrupted already to make enough of a change there either. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong though.

  35. Ethan Von Braun says:

    Obama sold us out. He could have passed cap and trade in 2009. He is in big oil’s pocket.

    [JR: Oh, I don’t know if he could have. But I think he probably could have gotten a major bill passed and he could have tried much, much harder.]

  36. Mark says:

    To all you Nader-2000 haters out there…..

    If you want climate deniers to get all their facts and then reality- check the climate claims they find so comforting, please look deeper:

    Question: would you like a little cancer instead of a lot?

    If you answer YES then a reasonable thing to do is to vote for any democrat over a 3rd party progressive candidate, because you believe doing otherwise is to throw your vote away and risk getting a LOT of cancer instead of just a little.

    If you instead answered “I refuse to believe those are the ONLY two choices!” then IMO it can be an extremely patriotic act to vote your conscious. The lesser of two evils is still evil, and capitalist we-must-continue-growing corporate America is unlikely to get off the fatal bullet train, even if they paint it in pastels and plays classical muisak. If enough people vote for RIGHT instead of lesser evil, then it might cost some dems some elections, its true. On the other hand, it will also drive the left-side-of-rightwing (read: Democratic Party) back toward its origins. After all, that’s what the Tea Party is doing for the GOP… dragging the entire political spectrum farther and farther right, and therefore the “middle” to which Obama is playing is also being dragged to the right. Who’s going to drag it back? Right-of-center democrats who don’t want to alienate the even more right of center swing vote?

    Bash the Greens if you like, but IMO they play a vital and necessary (read: essential) part of the solution.


  37. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #19: BR, I’m curious how a regular reader of this blog can use the term “rational” to refer to Obama’s present behavior on climate policy.

  38. Buzz Belleville says:

    I will say this, as a hard core environmentalist and a life-long blue-collar Dem, if there is a GOP candidate (Huntsman?) who takes climate change seriously, I would actually consider crossing over.

    I like Obama. I think he’s the smartest man in most rooms. I support most of his policies. I even think he has positioned (by way of a dozen small-ball policies) the infrastructure to respond when (and if) the country eventually comes around to a comprehensive energy and climate bill. BUT, I think we’ve learned that we need a GOP statesman before we can break the climate deadlock on Capitol Hill. Obama will be brushed off by the one-half of the country we need to make something happen.

    Do you think McCain would have abandoned his principles as Pres as he has as rejected Senator?

  39. robert says:

    Strongly agree with those above who suggest Obama needs a Primary challenger.

    I really see no other way to pressure him to move in the needed direction. Because the reality is there is no chance I will vote for a Republican in 2010, and there is no chance I will vote for a 3rd party candidate (unless I’m in a state that is firmly not competitive). Obama may have made what he feels is a safe political calculation, but it is a disastrous in the big picture.

    Without a primary challenger, there will be no movement.

  40. john atcheson says:

    To all those who say we have no place else to go, consider this — this morning, Trumpka — the head of the largest labor union in the country — said Democrats should no longer count on labor if administration and Democratic Congressmen/women continue to compromise away the rights and welfare of labor.

    We may argue that it is counterproductive to withhold our votes from Obama (and it is) but it is also human nature to punish those who claim to be our friend but continue to do us grave injury.

    The LA Times is right: Obama is skirting that dangerous territory. But I have a bigger beef with him.

    The current economic meltdown was CAUSED by deregulation. The country desperately needs to understand that, else it will happen again. But rather than educating people about why the Republican agenda of deregulation destroyed the economy (for the 3rd time, by the way — laisseze faire policies preceded the depression of 1893, the Great Depression and the recent Great Recession) he essentially endorsed their deregulation narrative.

    This is dangerous, immoral, and just plain cheap political chicanery.

    The fact that it may also be stupid politics as well, makes it all the more pathetic.

    I am within a whisker of staying home myself.

  41. Jeff Huggins says:

    To Many People Above

    It seems to me that there is a growing group of people who want real PROGRESS and who can put two and two together: The point is not that we should decide this second not to vote for Obama. Nor is the point that we should (fatalistically) decide TO vote for Obama, unconditionally, merely because “think of the alternative”. Neither of those stances is productive, at least at this point. Instead, the point is to let Obama know that a vote for him will be DEPENDENT UPON a demonstrated change in his commitment, approach, and strategy beginning NOW and continuing up to and through the election. In other words, “Dear President Obama, IF (and only if) you do X, you will have our vote in the next election. If not, you won’t. We hope that you will believe us and make the right choice. If you like sitting in the White House, you’ll need to. Thank you. Period.”

    Now THAT is an active, productive, honest, and necessary strategy. President Obama himself has said, more than once, that we need to “make him” do things. Well, he’s also shown that asking, writing, marching, blogging, pleading, and saying “PLEEASSEE!” is simply not enough to “make him” do what he said he’d do. So, telling him that our votes (in the upcoming election) will be CONDITIONAL on his doing X, NOW and in the next twelve months, is perhaps the only way to gain his attention enough to “make him” do something.

    Now, please let me know where this logic is flawed, if it is, because I can’t see any flaws. For those who are fatalistic and who would rather “Be” Democrats, not matter what, even as the climate crashes and nothing gets done, they will undoubtedly throw reason into contortions and find some reason to reject the idea, goodness knows what? But how is it that telling someone “I’m with you no matter what the heck you do!” will get that person to CHANGE his approach, especially if the person you’re dealing with has almost constantly shown that he’s willing to say things and then actually DO much less? What I’m saying is this: Don’t plan your votes on the basis of spoken promises for performance to come later, or on the basis of shallow “hope”. Instead, decide now, and make it known, that your votes will be conditional on a change in focus, approach, and performance NOW. He should EARN votes. He’s a big guy, he gets the big bucks, and he’s already made promises to us (last time around) that he flatly has not kept and has not even tried very hard to keep.



  42. Mark says:

    @40, John, capitalism requires economic growth like fish need water. For the power and money brokers, deregulation is a tool and the end is economic growth which for them is synonymous with profit. When times are sluggish they see deregulation as one way to bring on the growth machine (ie profits) again. The only problem is that like so many other issues of exponential growth that appear in these pages, economic growth forever is impossible. Either we reach a steady state economy or it all comes down, whether that’s from climate change or some other problem. The conservative wing of the GOP wants deregulated economic growth. The dems want kinder gentler (ie regulated) economic growth. But they ALL farsically campaign on how they will bring about nonstop growth forever.

    Is it counterproductive to withhold a vote from Obama? No! If you believe in ecology, and believe we have exceeded longterm human carrying capacity (whether thru climate change or otherwise), then the ONLY logical move is to vote for a radical progressive platform of a steady-state economy, and not just the kinder gentler collapse of civilization’s ecological foundation currently promulgated by the democrats.


  43. espiritwater says:

    Joe, there’s this wonderful little cartoon from the Seattle Times a few days ago… this guy is coming out from a well marked, “Deniers” and says, “throw me another sandbag!” He’s standing on a ladder and looking up from the well. Meantime, all around him is this enormous flood water with tops of telephone poles sticking out of the water, cows stranded on roof tops, etc. Cool! You should check it out! (I feel like I have to type fast or my comments will get errased!)

  44. malcreado says:

    >Without a primary challenger, there will be no movement.

    yes, yes, yes. The tea party took hold before the general election so in November they were ready to move their agenda forward.

  45. Mike Roddy says:

    I’m not persuaded that challenging Obama in the primaries will accomplish our goals. People are assuming that he would have to move to the Left in order to keep from losing- but in this case, it is unlikely that any challenger would get many votes. That means that Obama has no motivation to alter policy in order to defeat his challenger. The Republicans have a bigger problem here, since Tea Party candidates can win, and are holding them hostage.

    The we’ll stay home threat should be much more compelling, since obviously none of us is going to vote with the GOOILP party. If this threat is presented with commitment, he might listen.

  46. malcreado says:

    >but in this case, it is unlikely that any challenger would get many votes.

    Yeah if you want him to change you have to hold him accountable, which means “you have to vote against him”, better the primaries than the general election.

  47. Zetetic says:

    I’ve been pondering this depressing subject for a while and I’ve come to a few conclusions, and possibly a reason for some guarded optimism (maybe) about J.R’s statement about trying to “inflict a cost for those who oppose them”. Sorry about the length of the post, please bear with me on the more obvious points…

    1) Not voting for a third party is ultimately the same as not voting at all unless that 3rd party has an actual chance to succeed, which is highly unlikely. I wish that wasn’t the case, but it is and is likely to remain so for at least the near future. This is of course likely to increase the odds of somebody even worse in control. It’s the classic “The Chicken or the Egg?” problem.

    2) Obama and the rest of the Dems will not care enough to stop BAU for energy, climate, or the economy unless they are made to see it as in their immediate self-interest for their careers. Currently many of them obviously see BAU as what is in their best interest.

    3) Most of the “mainstream media” doesn’t care about the distant future. They do not care about energy policy as long as most people’s lights still turn on. Rather they care about this season’s ratings and are therefore drawn to drama and conflict, it’s what pays the bills.

    4) The money and support of major corporations is helpful to both parties, but none of it matters to the individual politicians if they don’t get the votes to win office.

    5) Most high ranking politicians are usually fairly isolated from the public most of the time. They instead get most of their feedback from lobbyists, the internal politics of their party , and the “Beltway Press” which skews very heavily to the right and BAU.

    6) Points #4 and #5 have created an interesting situation where the Republicans believing their own hype machine have been returning to their districts to be yelled at by their own (usually Republican) constituents. This has caused the Republicans to suddenly pull an about-face on their support for the Ryan plan and has completely upset their game plan for the 2012 election, even though their corporate masters want them to go through with it.

    7) If the Republicans can be made to fear for their jobs by an angry public and forced to go against the wishes of their party’s corporate backers, then the same can be done for the Democrats as well. Especially since the Dems tend to get much less money from the Corporations dedicated to BAU.

    8 ) Much of the “main stream media” especially those in the “Beltway Press” was recalcitrant to report on the Republican’s being challenged by their constituents, but they apparently love to report on Democrats being yelled at in public venues.

    Therefore I see a potential for hope in the possibility of the public confronting Democrats on a large scale (especially Obama) on their positions regarding speculators and the environment. To do so though will require a similar public pressure as was created by the Republicans trying to gut Medicare, at one public appearance after another wherever they go.

    Questions will also need to be addressed in a manner that speaks to the self-interest of others in the public. For example asking “Why Senator Sherrod Brown did you vote to limit the Clean Air Act?” leaves the question as too impersonal and gives him room to rationalize the vote as fighting for job creation. Instead we need to be asking “Why Senator Sherrod Brown did you support legislation that will deliberately result in our children and grandchildren being exposed to higher levels of mercury, a known poison that causes brain damage?”. The latter makes it more personal to the public and cuts to the heart of the issue, any attempt to justify it in economic terms will make him look bad to much of the public.

    When challenging them about CO2 it shouldn’t be “Why didn’t you support Cap-And-Trade?”
    Rather it should be something more like “Why are you ignoring the 97% of the scientific community that has shown that climate change will cost us far more in the future in both dollars and the public’s standard of living than if we act now to lessen it’s impact?”.

    Will enough people stand up and do so in large enough numbers? I don’t know, but it’s possible. Perhaps organizations such as, Greenpeace, etc can help to organize such a response a public appearances? As Richard Miller pointed out in post #33, such groups do have the people-power and it wouldn’t require much funding. Perhaps further consolidation of the environmental groups would also be helpful there, as recently did. An app distributed to the public might be a helpful tool for both organizing such responses (as a flash mob or planned) as well as proving talking-points based on the individual politicians voting history and specific bills to catch them when they lie.


  48. Jay Alt says:

    Good points Zetetic @ 47. A list of straight forward questions that a person pick from would be a big help at political Rallies. We all know that climatic disruption is a difficult subject to condense to sound bites. When confronted with a large audience and media, questions often ramble and serve no redeeming purpose. A prepared focused question can make all the difference.

    Leif here. I hope I do not put you on the “moderation list” with all my postings, Jay.

  49. Lisa Boucher says:

    Once again, Tom Toles summed up our dilemma with Obama in one of his recent cartoons.

  50. Wonhyo says:

    I would like to point out that there is, in fact, a worse situation than a Republican being elected. If a Democrat gets elected and implements Republican policies, Democrats get the blame.

    That said, I am looking for a genuinely progress Democratic party alternative to Obama for the primary election.

  51. adelady says:

    I think some of you may be overlooking one soft spot for getting the message through to Obama. Pretty soon the internet will be buzzing with soliciting for campaign donations.

    Responding with messages that a donation is likely only if you see a better policy commitment on climate, clean air and the rest will get through to the campaign managers if there are enough of them.

  52. Jeff Huggins says:

    Zetetic (Comment 47) has a very interesting idea when you get down to it: showing well-worded displeasure, via well-worded questions and appropriate passion, at upcoming Democratic gatherings and meetings with candidates and election folks. The idea doesn’t displace the idea of making our votes DEPENDENT ON an immediate improvement in Obama’s own strategy regarding climate change, a condition that should be voiced clearly and soon. Indeed, the two ideas are very complementary. I also think — as Zetetic has mentioned — that perhaps some or all of the climate organizations could organize such activism and messages. Indeed, that would be a great TEST of their own verve and seriousness. After all, the climate organizations are not really organizations whose primary charge is to “BE” Democrats or to necessarily support other traditional Democratic policies that have very little to do with climate change. The point of the climate change organizations is to get climate change addressed, effectively. So climate change organizations really OUGHT to send loud, clear, passionate messages TO Democratic politicians, Democratic party leaders, Democratic election officials and campaign volunteers, and so forth to “get your act together” regarding climate change, NOW; and they ought to be willing to make their votes in the upcoming election DEPENDENT UPON that condition being met, NOW. Perhaps instead of planning a bike ride, or in addition to planning a bike ride, the folks ought to plan on solid, well-attended, vocal, smart demonstrations at all Democratic party election events from the smallest and earliest to the largest and last, making clear that serious members of simply will not vote Democrat UNLESS President Obama gets his act together beginning NOW. It’s an interesting idea. It’s also an idea that, just in the process of considering it, would allow us all to better understand the thinking, the seriousness, and the verve of some of the climate change organizations. For example, would Bill McKibben and agree that their policy should be to make votes (in the upcoming election) CONTINGENT ON a dramatically improved focus and performance on Obama’s part beginning NOW (or at least beginning right after the policy is clearly stated and the message is clearly delivered)? If not, why not? Does agree that President Obama should be “made to” take climate change seriously in actions as well as in words? Or instead, is it’s policy that members should all vote for Obama unconditionally because (as we often hear) “just think about how bad the alternative would be”? Put another way, does have real guts, or will it fatalistically defer to whatever President Obama feels like doing, or not doing, with respect to climate change, at his whim and convenience?

    These are questions that we should put to ourselves, to the leaders of the climate movement (after all, will they be leaders or followers?), and to each other. Or instead, will we decide that such a strategy is too pushy or “unrealistic” — just as we seem to have decided with respect to just about every strategy other than saying “please”, writing letters, placing comments in blogs, and attending once-a-year fun events?

    In fact, we seem to have a habit of dismissing every “difficult” strategy, including every strategy that has a chance of actually being effective. Perhaps we need some “assertiveness training”?

    Cheers for now,


  53. Hegbad says:

    However disappointing Obama may be, the Republicans are so very appalling that nothing, nothing whatsoever, should be done to endanger his chances of reelection. We all need to remember the daily horror stories of venal Republican politicians, funded by oil money, and working for the benefit of oil companies even against their own electorate’s interests.

    This overriding necessity for reelecting Obama might just be the political calculation that he has himself made.

  54. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Amazing to find that the LA Times agrees entirely with Mulga’s patented paranoid prognostication, that Obama is and has always been a Trojan Horse, designed to sell out his ‘base’ and drive them into withdrawal from politics, in the short-term of 2010 and 2012 certainly, and hopefully for good. I’ll say no more on that, lest I piss good people off, but that’s been my belief for a long while.
    Which makes the only remedy so blindingly obvious. Someone must be found to run against Obama in the Democratic primaries, and win. No more ‘triangulation’ to the Clintonite Right. No more selling out when human destiny is at stake. No more running from the fight, no more taking a bunch of flowers to a pub brawl. No more refusing to ‘sink to the Right’s level’. This is a life and death struggle, and we are right and they are wrong. It’s time to gird those loins (carefully does it!). Running with Obama means four more wasted years, or a Republican in the White House. Odds are, a Tea Party ‘know-nothing’ candidate, but, as I say, even that prospect seems to me, at least, only equivalent in horror to four more years of Obama.

  55. Peter M says:

    The question is this; when does the American Ponzi scheme aka Laissez Faire Capitalism economy finally implode? When FDR did saved it 75 years ago from total collapse, it now needs a major tuneup. Indeed, FDR, was not satisfied with the limited accomplishments of the New Deal, feeling it should have gone much further to regulate big business.

    Last Autumn I had lunch with a constituent Aid to the former Secretary of State of Connecticut.He told me the reforms made by Obama thus far will not be able to stop a broader economic collapse a few years down the road. I added my additional concerns about the huge threats we face with AGW. This fascinated him, since like most in Government they have a profound lack of details and understanding of climate science (and this guy is a Grad from Yale Public policy).

    Its hard for me to say this- but let the GOP take over the Government. It will hasten the fall all the more quicker. Let the republicans be responsible for the mess they have created in the economy and the disastrous future we face from global warming.- it will make reform all the more easier when they are voted out in large numbers.

  56. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Ah Mulga, yes it’s nice to see that you have become some sort of self replicating organism and it’s also nice to read about right and wrong instead of right and left for a change. Almost reminds me of something Julia G said today in her first speech to the labour heartland today.

    Yeah, gird those loins well because I think the real fight is only just about to begin and black and white political thinking may be one of the first casualities, ME

  57. Brooks Bridges says:

    Am I that far out in left field to think that 2 million people converging on the Washington Mall demanding action on climate change would force the MSM, Obama, whoever to take major notice?

    Further, is it not abundantly clear that no matter what your cause (world hunger, pollution, ocean fisheries, women’s rights) climate change is the 900 trillion lb gorilla in the room that will directly affect the possibility of lasting progress in your area of concern?

    So why aren’t environmental, progressive, whatever organizations banding together to produce such an event?

    Achievable? In 1995 The Million Man March achieved crowds estimated 500,000 to 800,000 by a coordinated effort between many civil rights organizations.

  58. Mark says:

    You said: “voting for a third party is ultimately the same as not voting at all unless that 3rd party has an actual chance to succeed…”

    Let me substitute a few words in ALL CAPS to shed light on this logic:

    “RESEARCHING AND PUBLISHING ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING is ultimately the same as BLOWING BUBBLES unless that RESEARCH has an actual chance to CHANGE POLICY.” Suppose you had said this to Jim Hansen in 1980. Would he have become a mortgage broker instead?

    Or try this one:

    Buying an old fashioned manual lawnmower, solar panels, or a hybrid is just throwing away your money unless a majority of others decide to reduce their emissions that way too.

    A vote for either the DEMS or the GOP is a vote for corporate-funded politics and the guarantee of a continuing economic global ponzi scheme.

    Since there really isn’t a meaningful choice in that, your opening thesis is false. The only way you can throw your vote away is to (1) not vote, or (2) limit your options to the 2 major parties.

  59. Leif says:

    Peter M @55 states: “Its hard for me to say this- but let the GOP take over the Government. It will hasten the fall all the more quicker.”

    The fatal flaw in your thinking Peter, IMO, is that you assume that humanity can in fact pick up the pieces and put it all back together. We are flirting with numerous tipping points as we speak. Step across the “door step of doom” and the door closes.

  60. Zetetic says:

    @ Jeff Huggins #52:
    Thank you, and you bring up some additional interesting points too about using such actions as a litmus test (so to speak) of the seriousness of the various environmental groups to take action.

    I for one agree that environmental groups need more assertiveness training, especially when dealing with politicians.


    @ Brooks Bridges #57:
    While a 2 million person march would probably get attention, I’m not so sure that it will get as much as it deserves, and will soon be forgotten by the next issue of the day. Not to mention that it’s hard for many people to just go to another part of the country for a while. Typically it’s hard to get most of the “mainstream media” (especially among the beltway press) to notice environmental marches. They tend to ignore them for much smaller Teaparty rallies, etc. Look at how little coverage the Power Shift march got, they deserved much more.

    That is why I’m suggesting that environmental groups need to start standing up at town hall meetings and everywhere else their local politicians show up and start asking carefully worded questions that confront their choices without leaving them much wiggle room, and sends the public the message that “yes, this effects you too.”. This pressure should be kept up by individuals coordinated by enviro groups wherever the politicians appear in public, day after day. The MSM loves drama and conflict, so we need to start giving them that drama everyday. We should do so not just to let politicians know that we are serious but to give the issue more attention from the press and in causing them to apply additional pressure on all of the other politicos as well. This would require very little funding and wouldn’t need for anyone to travel across the country.

    When we can turn on our TVs and see both parties getting boos and catcalls at town-hall meetings from the public for their environmental polices that’s when we’ll know that we are starting to have an effect. That is when polices will start to change, when they are afraid for their jobs everyday.

  61. WeatherDem says:

    I agree with the L.A. time editorial’s last paragraph. Time and time again, politicians with a D after their name blatantly ignore the constituencies that helped elect them. Time and time again, those constituencies come up with nonsense like, “Well, it’s the lesser of two evils, so we have to….” Really? How’s that working out for us? We’ve started passing climate tipping points. Extreme weather events are growing increasingly extreme, the result of which is millions of people being displaced. To say nothing of the dreadful economy the U.S. has saddled itself with or the continuation and growth of income disparity between the super-rich and everybody else.

    Keep voting for the lesser of two evils. You’ll just get to the same place a little more slowly. Politicians are our employees. If they’re not doing the job we hired them to do, they need to be fired – regardless of which party they belong to.

  62. Mark says:

    @Lief (59),

    Remember the videos of Japanese earthquake survivors picking through debris to find useful things for their immediate survival needs? Hold that image….

    The question is Peter M brings up for me is, from what height will the fall occur, and to what despairing depths will we plunge? One could argue that the Dems just keep building the house of cards higher and higher. If the GOP takes over the “really really bad stuff” happens sooner instead of later, it is possible that we’ll have more useful debris to build the new society, and conversely, by letting the Dems build the house of cards higher and higher to delay (but not avoid) the fall, we’ll end up having less useful debris.

    Using economic terms, Peter M seems to suggest we let the GOP quicklyu overdraw our ecological bank account by a thousand dollars, and you seem to favor letting the Dems slowly overdraw that account by a million. QUESTION: When we finally face reality, which hole would be easier to climb out of?

  63. MikeB says:

    Obama will ignore environmentalists for the same reasons that he will largely ignore the ‘left’ – he knows that they basically they have no where else to go, and are not organised or ruthless enough to act as the sort of force that means he has to take notice.

    If you add to that the reality that Obama is a raging centrist devoted to bipartisanism (no matter how mistaken) and the delusion that triangulation impresses ‘independents’, its not surprising that the White House is more interested in pleasing polluters than its base.

    However, all is not lost. Environmentalists are a pretty organised group, and if the Democrat base actually starts saying ‘no’ once in a while to fundraising letters and stops the more shameless appeasers in its ranks by primarying them, things could change.

    The first nightmare for the White House is that Dem voters stay home in 2012. Thats not going to happen emasse, but even a small loss of turn out in some states could make the race much more uncertain. The second is that the people who worked like hell in 2008 dont do the same in 2012. Phone banking, door knocking, voter drives, etc dont do themselves. In 2008 the GOP was demoralized, low on volunteer turnout and disorganised. If the first two happen to the Dems in 2012 they have a problem. The third is money. Obama is out to raise a Billion dollars. He probably will. But if enough people say ignore those fundraising letters, and enough question high priced fundraising dinners on Wall Street (which wont play well in this climate), then the WH will worry.

    If greens, etc want attention, then they either have to give something or withhold it. Use fear, and withhold things, because politicians tend to understand that well. Hopefully the WH will figure out that what we are asking for is both good policy and good politics.

  64. Gary says:

    My Presidential nominee is Senator Amy Klobuchar and or House
    Representative Jan Schakowsky…..this ticket could beat Obama/Biden.

  65. Jonathan Koomey says:

    Hegbad #53 has it right. We have to create a real movement for change, but voting against President Obama is a very bad idea given what the republicans have become.

  66. Leif says:

    Mark @62: No, you put words in my mouth. What I want is President Obama and the Democratic administration to make a serious effort to educate the population about the perils of Global Warming. I want President Obama to take the CEOs of Wall Street and Fossil Fuel out to the wood shed and give them the facts of life. I want Capitalism to respect Earth’s “life support systems” and make significant contributions to re-establishing Natures needs. It is only fair seeing that most of their wealth is derived from hundreds of years of rape a pillage and wanton pollution of the commons. Besides they HAVE all the money as is. And I want it NOW!

  67. Richard Brenne says:

    Mark (#62) – I’ve thought about what you’re saying a fair bit, and since we don’t know how things will turn out exactly (although the general trajectory is probably the one you suggest), we each and all need to do the best we can always.

    Just compare the Bush and Obama administrations and imagine something bigger than has happened so far, say terrorists explode a nuclear bomb in an American city. Obama’s reaction would probably be imperfect, as anyone’s would be, but all evidence points to Bush (or Cheney, or Palin) going ape and creating or embracing an ideology that allows for the complete destruction of civil liberties domestically while quite possibly ordering a pointless and horrific nuclear attack of our own. World War III could result.

    One thing about Obama is that despite all his faults he could keep his head on straight better than anyone in that scenario I can think of going back a long ways.

    If something big happens on his watch I think he could rise to greatness as Lincoln, FDR, Churchill and others have. If something big happened on the watch of most of the Republican candidates, an ideology could develop and take hold – such ideologies are already incubated at Fox and by Limbaugh, Beck, Palin and others – that destroys millions or even billions of lives long before they would be destroyed otherwise.

    The idea of rebuilding is not a given at all by the best thinkers about this, including Jim Hansen (who thinks Anthro-Earth could experience a runaway greenhouse and become more like that of Venus, creating a dead planet) and James Lovelock (who thinks the few breeding pairs remaining might only be able to live north of the Arctic Circle).

    Since we don’t know what will happen and can’t guarantee any rebuilding at all, we have to do the best we can by everyone. Ideally that would mean at most a steady state economy and finding true sustainability before nature finds it for us, which is what I think will probably happen to our unrelenting horror.

    We have to do the best we can by everyone, especially the poorest and most vulnerable of every species.

  68. Mark says:

    @Lief (66) and @Richard (67)

    Lief, those are lots of nice things to want, but I’m dealing with reality here. The man’s record (so far) is that of small nice things in the face of future horror, and an utter failure in eco messaging. I fail to see how I put any words in your mouth. Your desire for Obama to prevent that future horror is nice, but is not backed up by his actions. So, I stick to my guns…. the Obama path is a gentler slope toward oblivion. Unless, of course, he does something before the election to demonstrate otherwise…. besides more empty promises, that is. So I agree with your closing about wanting action NOW! If we see it, I’ll be glad to admit I was wrong about him. News at 11. (Twenty bucks says we see nothing between now and then, and so I’ll proudly and patriotically vote Green Party next time).

    Richard, I agree that rebuilding at all is not a given, and I agree with this:

    “Ideally that would mean at most a steady state economy and finding true sustainability before nature finds it for us, which is what I think will probably happen to our unrelenting horror.”

    I think that’s the way it will unfold, too. Assuming there will still be campfire stories, what stories will they be? “And so the wisest embraced evil, just not the worst evil?” Or instead, will the stories be, “And so many of our ancestors learned the wisdom of limits, just not in time?” Personally, I think mayhem and catharsis are inevitable, because the species is essentially a 15-year old who has to learn by natural consequences. Nothing else will work. For me, its all about what stories are told at those campfires, assuming there will be campfires. If Obama were to actually demonstrate that he gets any of this before the next election he could probably win my 2nd vote for him. But right now, I’m thinking Green Party.


  69. Larry Chamblin says:

    I will doubtless vote for Obama as I see no other alternative. Sadly, he has moved closer to my congressman in my very conservative district. Rep. Miller wrote me in a letter a few years ago that he believed in protecting the environment but not at the expense of his constituents’ best interests. One is not surprised at such short-sighted thinking from a conservative Republican. One has good reason to be deeply disappointed when Obama exhibits the same thinking. I have a dream that he will ignore climate change and the environment entirely during the 2012 campaign and then, after winning reelection, become the leader we have needed for years. But in the meantime, Obama will get less support from me than he got in 2008.