Ask anyone : methane stinks. I grew up in Jamaica and we sometimes raised a pig or two. So I was surprised when I read that Jamaican pig farmers were trapping the waste from their pens and using the methane it generated to fuel their homes. How could they cook their food with that smelly stuff?
But that just shows what I know – or don’t know. I looked it up on the web and found that methane gas is odorless. The smell that we associate with it (from rock stars setting their flatulence aflame, for example) comes from bacteria in it – not from the gas itself.
So it’s certainly not offensive to use methane for cooking – or anything else.
And now I’ve learned that Japan may be on the verge of unlocking “the world’s next major energy source.” Methane.
According to a recent article in the International Science Times:
A Japanese study estimates that there is at least 1.1 trillion cubic meters (40 trillion cubic feet) of methane hydrate, or “fire ice” in the Eastern Nankai Trough, a submarine trough off Japan’s Pacific coast, just south of the country’s main island of Honshu.
It’s hard for me to resist making bad jokes about all the methane Washington generates – you know, from political hot air. But this is no laughing matter. For reasons too numerous to list, the industrialized world cannot continue to rely on oil.
And the Third World has little hope of achieving industrial independence through oil importation. Especially now that Chavez is dead, Jamaica for one, could be in danger of losing its favorable deal for Venezuelan oil. And even if the new regime continues Venezuela’s policy of subsidizing the oil exported to the Caribbean islands, that is no long-term solution to the problem.
Of course, the islands are drenched in sunshine and swept by sea breezes but development of cheap energy from those natural sources has been frustratingly slow.
Energy is a matter of life and death. It literally makes the world go round. It’s obscene for a few grotesquely rich sheiks to control so much of the oil on which the global energy system is currently based.
I won’t even discuss the environment. If you don’t know what carbon-based fossil fuels like oil and coal do to the environment by now, you haven’t been paying attention.
Even the pragmatic Chinese realize they cannot continue to pollute the air as they do now. China’s bosses are busy trying to develop “clean energy ” while America’s politicians (mostly Republicans, of course) do their best to keep the oil and coal industry booming without regard for the poison it spews into the atmosphere.
Burning methane is not environmentally blameless. It adds carbon dioxide to the air, contributing to global warming. Still, I doubt it presents the dangers that coal and oil do. And it seems to be a lot easier (and safer?) to get at than the natural gas trapped in the earth’s rock formations. There’s no need for “fracking,” for one thing.
Anyway, this blog is about economics. not the environment. And it looks as if methane could be the economically feasible energy source that we need until we figure out how to use the sun, wind and tides efficiently enough to compete with fossil fuels.
Methane is obviously abundant and new discoveries indicate there’s a lot more where that came from.
Live Science.com reports that explorers are discovering vast amounts of methane seeping from the ocean floor off America’s east coast. Apparently, the gas is released by the same kind of “fire ice” the Japanese are finding.
And if the natural supply isn’t enough to meet the needs of an exploding global population, more methane would be easy to produce. Rotting garbage… animal waste… even rock stars … are – well – “full of it.”
June 19, 2013 No Comments
You might be feeling optimistic about America’s chance of immigration reform. After all, there seems to be bipartisan support for a bill to bring the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows into mainstream society – and the mainstream economy. It makes sense not only for the immigrants but also for the country.
Who would want to deny a path to legitimacy for families who have lived and worked here for decades? Who would refuse the taxes they would pay? Who would want to sustain the current supply of illegal workers, knowing how their exploitation undermines wages for the rest of the workforce?
Republicans, that’s who.
It’s not just because corporations that contribute so much to the Republican Party profit mightily from the exploitation of undocumented workers. There’s an even more cynical thought process at work here.
It came out in the open at the Republican Study Committee’s immigration summit, when Rep. Michael Burgess (photo above) blurted it out – under the pretext of a joke. Why would a Republican want to give the vote to “11 million Democrats,” he wanted to know.
Reporting on the Congressman’s candor in today’s National Journal, Tim Alberta observed:
With all the noise surrounding the debate over policy specifics — security measures, enforcement triggers, future flow, interior oversight — there is still an underlying political argument whispered among some of Congress’s most conservative members: After 71 percent of Hispanics voted for President Obama in 2012, why should Republicans add millions more to the voting rolls?
I am not surprised. And I don’t believe for a moment that Burgess was joking. I know that today’s Republicans consistently put their party’s welfare ahead of their country’s. That’s one of the things that make them so dangerous politically. They keep their eyes on the prize, and let the chips fall where they may. But it’s refreshing to hear them admit it.
Refreshing but not that uncommon. As Alberta notes:
Not everyone feels the need to whisper. At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Iowa Rep. Steve King – the leading immigration hardliner in the House GOP – earned laughter and applause during an immigration panel when he quipped: “Even Republicans seem to think that these undocumented Democrats could be made voters and somehow we’re going to win in that equation. And what happens is that two out of every three that would be legalized become Democrats.”
You would think that such a bare-faced exposure of the Republican agenda would make Latinos even more inclined to support the Democratic Party. But not all Latinos. Cuban immigrants and their descendants tend to vote Republican. They have no fear of being deported. A special immigration rule gives Cubans the right to stay once their feet touch the American shore.
A few other Latin Americans countries have been treated similarly because the US government regarded their ruling regimes as “communist.” Nicaraguans fleeing the pro-Soviet Sandinista government were given asylum, for example. But generally speaking, mainland Latin Americans don’t get the same free pass that Cubans get. (Puerto Ricans, of course, are already US citizens.)
It’s a fact that pundits and politicians tend to ignore. Latinos are not all of one mind. The politicians also seem to forget that not all immigrants – and not all undocumented immigrants – are Latinos. Jamaica is well represented, I’m sure. So is Europe. And what about the flood of Asians to the West Coast? Are they all “documented”?
You don’t hear much about non-Latino immigrants. It’s the Hispanic population that carries the banner of immigration reform. But I’m sure the non-Latino immigrants are listening to the immigration debate. And what they’re hearing is sure to influence their votes – if they ever get to vote.
In the meantime, their friends and relatives already have the vote. That might be something Republicans should consider as they scheme to improve their party’s fortunes in future elections.
June 18, 2013 2 Comments
I am dead certain that none of the old men who run golf could have broken 100 on the tricked up Merion course that the world’s best golfers were obliged to play over the weekend. They presented competitors in the US Open with an impossible task.
Take that par-four 18th hole, for example. I’m sure Ben Hogan could not have hit a 1-iron stiff to the pin on that hole the way it was set up in this year’s Open (Hogan’s photo above).
I can’t find its exact length back in 1950, but I’ll bet the 18th hole that Hogan parred to get into a playoff that he won the next day was not the 511-yard monster it was on Sunday. Limping and staggering from the after-effects of a collision with a Greyhound bus 16 months earlier, Hogan could never have reached that green with two shots as Justin Rose did to win the tournament.
Probably impressed by the marketing malarkey that golf equipment manufacturers inflict on us, USGA officials added more than 300 yards to the course that Hogan played. They argued that with today’s clubs and balls, the original course just wasn’t long enough. I don’t know about you, but I can hit the ball – any old ball from the bulging cartons in my garage – with one of my clubs from a generation ago with about the same result as I get with the expensive new equipment.
Yes, today’s pros hit the ball much farther than they did in 1950. But I contend that much of this yardage is due to their increased size, improved athleticism and refined technique. With video cameras and physics gurus to guide them, they have just about perfected the golf swing. So we should penalize them for that?
Even accepting the argument that golfers today enjoy some kind of scientific advantage from rearranged ball dimples, lighter shafts and livelier club faces, I am not sure it necessarily takes strokes off their scorecards. The longer a ball flies, the greater dispersion you get. If your club face is 2 degrees off line and you hit a 250-yard drive, you could be in a lot less trouble than if you hit a 350-yard drive. The farther an errant ball flies, the more astray it goes.
Even if the pros kept their booming drives laser straight, the fairway was extraordinarily elusive during this year’s Open. Merion’s fairways are scarily narrow to begin with, and the USGA officials had them mowed so they wound back and forth like the Mississippi. Hitting a straight ball was often a sure way to find the rough.
So it was exceptionally vindictive for them to reinforce the rough with special grasses and feed it with fertilizer until it was almost impossible to hit out of.
And tournament officials didn’t stop there. Citing the threat of flooding as their excuse, they placed the holes on bumps and slopes so that even dead-eye putters like Luke Donald and Brandt Snedeker were stumped. (Not to mention poor Tiger!)
Time after time, Phil Mickelson’s ball would find the hole on those weird greens, only to lip out. Putting at Merion during the Open was like playing pinball.
The USGA officials even angled some fairways to point the golfers out of bounds from the tee.
When was the last time you saw Steve Stricker hit a drive out of bounds? When was the last time you saw Sergio Garcia make a 10 on a hole? Or reigning Masters champion, Adam Scott, come in 14 strokes over par?
What do you make of Tiger’s 13 over?
It’s completely legitimate to set up the course as a challenging test of golf. It is not fair to trick it up so that luck counts more than skill.
Justin Rose met the challenge – sort of. He just missed shooting par. But his performance was the best of the worst, not the stuff of legend. And that’s disappointing to fans like me.
The way I see it, the old grumps that control the game of golf – the fossils in the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the US Golf Association – are doing their best to drive away its fans. They come up with the silliest rules and as soon as anyone finds a better way to play, they do their best to ban it. Why should anyone care how a golfer putts as long as the ball goes in the hole, for example? But the codgers have decided to outlaw “anchoring” the putter against any part of your body.
And they do their best to embarrass the world’s best golfers whenever they get the chance.
Can you imagine how fans would react if officials added lumps and bumps to the basketball court’s surface because today’s players are too good? Or if they lengthened the football field and narrowed the space between the goal posts to make the game more challenging?
We golf fans should demand better. We watch tournaments to marvel at the skill of the participants , not to see them humiliated.
June 17, 2013 2 Comments
As you might expect, I am transfixed by TV this weekend, exulting and agonizing along with my favorite golfers as they take on the annual trial-by-fire that is the US Open. At the same time, one part of my brain is wondering what on earth is wrong with me. Why should I be mesmerized by a bunch of strangers swatting a little ball about or trying to poke it into a hole in the ground?
It makes no sense. These guys have nothing in common with folks like me. They belt their drives 300 yards and more. They make the ball dance on the green like a kitten on catnip. They scoop the ball out of the deepest sand traps with effortless precision.
The golf I play is nothing like that, of course. But at least I play a version of the sport. Not their version. But a version.
I don’t play ice hockey – can’t even skate. When I lived in Canada, I strapped on a pair of skates once and took to the rink, but my ankles turned over and I ended up sliding into the boards with the insides of my feet scraping along the ice. Two tots skated up to me and each took one of my hands, guiding me about the rink so I wouldn’t do harm to myself or others.
Yet I can be as mesmerized by hockey as anyone. Or even figure skating.
And baseball… I never saw a baseball game in my life until I came to North America. Yet I am glued to the TV screen when the World Series comes on.
I can even get caught up in football – American football! And that’s as alien to my experience as anything you could imagine. Soccer I’m fairly familiar with. But American football? Why should I care about two squads of over-sized millioniares trying to squash each other?
But I do.
Crazy, isn’t it?
What is it that makes me – and so many others – entranced by professional sports? Why do these guys make millions to play while the rest of us get pennies to work?
It’s not as if I had some personal “skin in the game” (as we sports fans might put it). I don’t bet.
And it’s not as if pro players really represent my community. They get traded back and forth so much that today’s hometown hero could be tomorrow’s alien invader, wearing the uniform of a different team, trying to keep “our” team from winning.
Is it the drama that captivates us? Are our lives so bland that we must turn to make-believe conflict to get our adrenaline flowing? Are we such a bunch of losers in real life that pro sports offer us our only chance of being winners? Is it simply the momentary escape from reality?
In ancient Rome, the masses watched gladiators hacking each other to death. Today we watch sports.
Of course there’s the skill factor. Sometimes those pros do things that are quite magical. But those are just moments. Much of a professional sports contest is routine. Someone throws a ball. Someone tries to hit it. Or catch it. Or whatever.
Some people lose themselves in the theater. Some are transfixed by the virtuosity of a violinist. Some soar with a singer’s magnificent voice.
Me, I watch sports. Go figure.
June 15, 2013 3 Comments
This is not your grandfather’s – or great-grandfather’s – military. This is the United States military in 2013. American soldiers are equipped with weapons that just a short while ago belonged in science fiction – night-vision goggles, killer drones, heat-seeking missiles… Congress has poured billions – make that trillions – into modernizing America’s fighting force, and some of the cash has filtered through the corrupt and wasteful military-industrial bureaucracy to produce dramatic results.
But it seems some American politicians are still living in a bygone era when it comes to the military. You might recall that President Obama felt constrained to remind Mitt Romney (in one of those presidential election debates) that the United States armed forces no longer rely on horses and bayonets. Or big, bad battleships for that matter.
Of course Mitt is a Republican, and I expect Republicans to be stuck in a time warp. They keep yelling that they want their America back. And if that America ever existed outside of TV and the movies, it was a long, long time ago. Before my time, even.
When Republicans in Congress nod-nod, wink-wink at the epidemic of rape being reported in the military, it doesn’t surprise me. I expect them to subscribe to boys-will-be-boys folklore. After all, didn’t that “conservative” billionaire take Andrea Mitchell’s breath away by suggesting “gals” should practice birth control by keeping an aspirin tightly wedged between their knees?
Men, you know, “have needs.” That’s why such phenomena as camp followers emerged, right? I mean when you collect a whole army of men and send them off to war, with no access to their wives or the other “little ladies” that God put on earth to meet their “needs,” something’s gotta give, right? It’s no wonder that a Japanese mayor suggested US servicemen stationed in Japan should seek relief from that country’s sex workers. Didn’t the Japanese rely on sex slaves back in World War II to give their fighting men “relief”?
But this is America. This is 2013. This is not the place or time for primitive notions about male “needs.” When somebody’s daughter, somebody’s wife, some kid’s mother, enlists in today’s armed forces, she is certainly not signing up as a camp follower or sex slave. She is volunteering to put her life on the line for her country. Just like any male GI Joe.
That might be a difficult concept for some Republicans – especially male Republicans – to grasp. But I expect Democrats to be more enlightened.
Especially a Democrat with the stature of Senator Carl Levin (photo above). He is among the longest serving members of the senate, and one of the most distinguished. It was not just disappointing to read that he shot down Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposal to reform antiquated rape investigation procedures in the military, it was shocking and disillusioning.
As head of the senate’s Armed Services Committee, Levin should have backed Gillibrand’s initiative to remove sex assault cases from the military chain of command. Evidence emerging from senate hearings have made it clear the existing procedure simply doesn’t work. Twenty-seven of Levin’s fellow-senators were for reform, including four Republicans. But Levin balked at this breach with tradition.
Levin will be 79 this month, and he is calling it quits when his current senate term ends. That might help to explain his antiquated perspective. But, hey, I’m even older… I was 79 in March. And even a codger like me, a male codger at that, can see how outrageous it is to allow our daughters, wives and mothers to be exposed to rape when they join the armed forces.
Shame on you, Senator Levin! It’s high time for America to protect its women from sexual battery – even when they join their country’s armed forces.
Especially when they join their country’s armed forces!
June 13, 2013 3 Comments
The phrase “genetically modified” sounds ominous, doesn’t it? It conjures up visions of two-headed lambs and six-legged calves. After all, if there’s one thing mankind should’ve learned by now, it’s the danger of messing with Mother Nature. And yet mankind has messed with Mother Nature for generations, and it’s because of this practice that we enjoy many of the foods we now take for granted.
Mother Nature obviously didn’t come up with seedless fruit, for example. The whole purpose of fruit – as far as she is concerned – is to get seeds spread about. Birds and animals eat the fruit and the seeds pass through them to take root far and wide.
Yet, as far back as the 1940s, I recall my father budding and grafting seedless citrus varieties onto more “natural” trees in the backwoods of Jamaica. It was part of his job as an Agricultural Instructor. The British colonial government hired instructors like my dad to demonstrate the latest farming and soil preservation techniques. And I don’t recall any panic over the “unnatural” products he promoted – from “improved” livestock breeds and feed to “modified” varieties of tomatoes and lettuce.
Now with the wisdom of hindsight, I know some of the most widely touted pest control techniques of that time were misguided. My dad swore by products containing DDT, for example. And we now know how dangerous DDT turned out to be.
That’s one of the dangers mankind faces when we tamper with nature; the consequences of our actions can take years to show up. And by then, it’s too late to do anything about the resulting horrors. The Thalidomide tragedy comes to mind, for example.
But the benefits of agricultural experimentation far outweigh the dangers.
Fly over Haiti, for example, and you will see a brown terrain, stripped of protective vegetation and topsoil, scarred by centuries of neglect. Fly over Jamaica and the land below you will be green, the vegetation protected from primitive slash-and-burn practices, the mountainsides terraced to preserve the topsoil from the ravages of torrential rain.
This is one result of the land contouring and relentless lecturing provided by public servants like my father, dedicated to passing on the lessons of science. The Jamaica Hope cattle breed, which has proved remarkably well suited to the island’s terrain and climate is another. Surely, I don’t need to try and list all of the benefits of agricultural experimentation?
You enjoy them every day. Without them, it would be impossible to feed the world’s exploding population.
It might sound appealing to rely entirely on “organic” cultivation, for example. Who could possibly want “chemicals” in their food? But without fertilizers, there would be little chance of producing the volume of food the world consumes. And, by the way, I encountered some kinds of “organic” plant nutrition back in Jamaica that – believe me – would make you sick to your stomach.
I hesitate to dismiss opponents of genetically modified plant varieties as latter-day Luddites. After all, what do I know of DNA mixing and gene splicing? This kind of science is relatively new, and its implications are shrouded in uncertainty. Of course it’s better to be safe than sorry, as the old saying goes.
And I am wary of the scientists of today, who often seem to modify their research findings to comply with the demands of deep-pocketed sponsors. But I have to rely on acknowledged “experts” for guidance. Experts like Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Prize winning scientist from Texas. He helped develop a variety of high-yield dwarf wheat and followed up with rice. Experiments such as Borlaug’s have created a Green Revolution that is helping to avert a threatened global famine. In India, for example wheat production soared from 12.3 million tons in 1965 to 73.5 million tons in 1999.
Berlaug scoffs at the notion that genetically modified grain is some kind of monster food with unknowable and terrifying side effects. He points out that everyday products like pasta and bread are made with wheat created by crossbreeding varieties of wild grass. Indeed, he observes that Mother Nature herself is not averse to genetic modification, often producing hybrid varieties to adapt to changing conditions.
With scientists like Borlaug and even the World Health Organization assuring us that genetically modified foods are safe, I hesitate to join the trendy hue and cry against these products. But I have to wonder why US politicians are reluctant to make labeling of such products mandatory.
I might not necessarily fear “Frankenfoods” but I would like a choice to eat them or avoid them.
June 12, 2013 5 Comments
I’m sure you’ve heard about the Second Amendment to the Unites States Constitution. It prohibits laws that would prevent Americans from legally owning “arms.” Back in the days of the Founding Fathers, of course, “arms” were quite different from today’s “arms.” But that doesn’t matter to gun nuts. An amendment is an amendment and that’s all that matters.
Except when it’s an amendment protecting a woman’s right to determine her own reproductive destiny. Or an amendment shielding Americans from “unreasonable searches and seizures” – secretly seizing your phone and internet records, for example. In these cases, well, amendments aren’t so sacrosanct. Indeed, to some Americans, they’re downright subversive.
Obviously, all amendments are not created equal.
With such shaky logic to support their cause, how on earth did America’s gun owners become politically invincible?
You might say that guns have played a unique role in American history – the squirrel gun that mowed down the Redcoats … the Colt .44 revolver and the Winchester repeating rifle that colonized the West… and so on.
But even so, historical weapons belong in museums, not on the streets.
And modern weapons, semi-automatic rifles, for example, belong in the hands of military and law enforcement personnel, not some madman in Santa Monica (photo above).
Yet the grisly Santa Monica story has become so commonplace that it hardly made the news. Six dead, including the shooter – a young man with “mental health issues.” The murder weapon was a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle and the killer had more than a thousand rounds of ammunition draped about his person. Sound familiar?
Think Newtown. Think Aurora.
Is nobody going to do anything about this epidemic of gun violence?
You might argue that gun laws are worthless because some people won’t abide by them, as the NRA keeps saying. “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns.”
And there’s some truth to that. Outlaws have access to guns beyond the control of lawmakers or law enforcement agencies.
But the Santa Monica shooter was no outlaw. Nor was the killer at Newtown. Nor was the Aurora assassin.
They were well within the law’s control. If there were a law. And if the law were enforced efficiently.
But there is no such law, and it looks as if there will be no such law any time soon.
It’s doubtful that Americans will ever enjoy effective protection from random massacres because, in America, the Almighty Dollar rules.
The arms industry is hugely profitable. Americans spend about $2 billion a year on guns. Consequently, the industry is extremely popular with American investors. Just one of the top arms manufacturers, Cerberus, manages more than $20 billion for investors, including government and private sector pension and retirement funds, charitable foundations, university endowments, insurance companies, and family funds.
As long as America’s most powerful families own a major stake in arms manufacturing … as long as pension funds and other large investors have shares in these companies .. as long as guns make money – so much money for so many people … and as long as money buys politicians… the Second Amendment will remain sacred in America.
It’s as simple as that.
June 11, 2013 2 Comments
The Chinese were writing poems long before Columbus set foot on American soil, long before the British barons forced Bad King John to sign the Magna Carta, and long before the Founding Fathers embarked on a brave, new adventure in democracy.
But China’s path has been different from that of the Western World. While we in the West have focused on individual freedom and social justice, the vastness and diversity of the Orient have made other concerns paramount, concerns such as discipline and order – often at the expense of personal freedom.
With such basic differences to contend with, China and the United States are necessarily uncomfortable bedfellows. But bedfellows they are. And while common ground may be hard to find, common interests are all too obvious.
It takes uncommon wisdom to recognize the implications of this push-you-pull-you relationship.
And I am comforted by the uncommon wisdom displayed by President Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who is on a historic visit to the United States.
Less sophisticated leaders might have exploited the occasion to “play to their base,” to incite xenophobia and tribalism among their more primitive political supporters. But, mercifully, that is not China’s way. And that is not President Obama’s way.
Obama lives in a political world that is not of his own making. The financial and commercial ties that bind the economies of America and China together were not forged by his administration. Those ties are the legacy of previous presidents – George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and as far back as Richard Nixon.
To rail against the policies of the past would be pointless. As Omar Khayyam, the Persian poet, so aptly observed:
The moving finger writes; and having writ moves on. Nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.
The Chinese people are frustratingly unlikely to enjoy democracy, as we know it, in our lifetime. And their trade tactics and currency manipulation can be infuriatingly unfair – from our perspective.
There is much for Americans and Chinese politicians to squabble over – if they choose to focus on their differences.
But that would be counterproductive.
At this time in history, the wise path is toward cooperation and mutual respect, even if complete agreement is beyond our reach. And that seems to be where the two mighty nations are heading. As Xi’s senior foreign policy adviser, Yang Jiechi, told the Associated Press:
The two presidents agreed to build a new model of major country relationship between China and the United States based on mutual respect and win-win cooperation. We have to stay each other’s partners, not rivals.
In an age of swagger and bluster, where right-wing hawks so often hog center stage, such eminently reasonable words are sweet music – to my ears anyway.
June 10, 2013 2 Comments
Whenever some pundit mentions the obvious racism underlying American politics, you hear reproachful cries about “playing the race card.” It’s as if there’s some gentleman’s agreement not to mention the ugly truth, to pretend the nation has evolved beyond such barbarism. After all, didn’t Americans elect – and re-elect – the country’s first black president?
And then you see a video on TV of a couple of cops in Jasper, Texas beating the bejezus out of a defenseless black woman or that Neighborhood Watch guy appearing in a Florida court to claim he shot an unarmed black teenager to death “in self defense.”
You might argue that these are isolated occurrences, that no society can be perfect all the time, that racist incidents in America are mere aberrations.
But if that were the case, explain the Republican Party’s deliberate - and grotesquely successful – strategy of courting the “white vote.”
Tell me what to make of this matter-of-fact statement in the National Journal by a writer named Alex Roarty:
The GOP’s midterm strategy will rely heavily on whites, especially those without a college education, and particularly in rural states where its presidential candidates win easily.
You think perhaps that this writer is expressing a minority opinion, that Republican leaders would never stoop to such blatant racism?
But what are we to make, then, of the party’s “Southern Strategy”?
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about this long-standing Republican policy:
In American politics, the Southern strategy is the Republican Party’s strategy of gaining political support or winning elections in the Southern section of the country by appealing to racism against African Americans.
The Wikipedia entry goes on to explain that:
The strategy … first adopted under future Republican President Richard Nixon and Republican Senator Barry Goldwater in the late 1960s… was successful in many regards. It contributed to the electoral realignment of Southern states to the Republican Party, but at the expense of losing more than 90 percent of black voters to the Democratic Party.
I know, I know, Republican leaders have been uttering declarations of a drastic new approach that is supposed to re-energize their party. No longer will they appeal just to white folks; now they will seek the support of minority voters – especially Hispanics, who are becoming an ever-more influential segment of the electorate.
And then you read that the Republican House of Representatives voted to cancel President Obama’s order to stay the deportation of children of illegal immigrants brought to America by their parents while they were too young to do anything about it. Of course the vote is just symbolic; it has no chance of passing the Democrat-dominated Senate. But it shows what the Republicans – the “new” Republican Party – stand for, doesn’t it?
As the National Journal analysis observes:
The party has pursued an agenda largely aimed at its base. The GOP’s primary messages to date have been to repeal President Obama’s health care law, assail the president for the scandals that have gripped the White House, and oppose any gun-control expansion—issues that rouse the conservative base but fail to attract most minority voters.
Roarty concludes that this strategy could very well win the Senate for Republicans next year, even though it spells defeat in later elections (as the Hispanic minority grows stronger).
Does this prospect fill you with dread? It sure makes me cower in despair. Can you imagine the havoc the Republicans will weak if they get control of both houses of Congress? Pray that does not happen. Pray hard.
June 8, 2013 5 Comments
I never, ever agree with Lindsey Graham. If the South Carolina senator is for something, you can bet the farm that I will loathe and abhor it. And if he’s against something, you can bet it’s one of my favorite things. So you can imagine how creepy I feel having to admit the guy is right for once!
Surprisingly, shockingly, Senator Graham expressed my opinion when he threw cold water on the latest flaming “scandal” engulfing American politics – the government’s using its subpoena powers to check out the numbers Americans have been calling on their phones. He shrugged off the noise and tumult by wondering why anyone would care about this invasion of their “privacy.” He doesn’t care, he said, because he doesn’t phone terrorists.
I don’t phone terrorists, either. Do you?
If you don’t, what’s all the fuss about?
The way I see it, if checking out my phone calls – not their content, mind you, just the numbers I call – will help law enforcement officers track down a gang of thugs that’s about to detonate a dirty bomb in my neighborhood, why, be my guest.
I don’t call phone-sex numbers but even if I did, I would still be OK with law enforcement having that information if it meant catching some punk of a terrorist.
And if I don’t care why should some foreign newspaper?
But the UK Guardian seems to care – a lot.
“Progressive” film maker and reporter Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story in the Guardian, is outraged by this invasion of the people’s privacy. He declared on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show last night (photo above) that anyone who dismisses this government abuse the way Lindsey Graham did belongs to the political far-right.
So I guess, for the first time in my life, I am “far right.” On this issue, anyway.
(So how come “far right” bloggers are heaping scorn on Lindsey Graham this morning?)
Greenwald followed up the Verizon story with another “scoop” revealing that National Security spooks are also spying on our Internet activity.
Really? Uncle Sam is looking over my shoulder while I browse?
Actually, that’s not quite accurate.
Turns out that what the spooks are looking for is international communication that might shed some light on terrorists’ plans. And I wish them luck. If they happen to see that photo of our cat, Zoey, that I just posted on Facebook while they seek information that might avert another Nine Eleven, that’s fine with me.
My “privacy” is not so important that it should get in the way of potentially life-saving investigations.
It’s a dangerous world we live in, and – as Hippocrates observed so long ago – desperate times require desperate measures.
June 7, 2013 4 Comments