13 to Go: The Importance of Common Sense in Democracy

One thing too many “political junkies” don’t seem to have in their repertoire is perspective. They think because they have all the time in the world to obsess over politics and read, watch and listen to everything that tickles their “political” sensibilities, every voter has the same luxury. They immerse themselves in the opinions of people who think as they do, and they show scorn to those people who don’t “know” things they claim to “know.” (Note the quotes; most political junkies don’t know as much as they think they do.) They cannot even begin to understand that the vast majority of voters – especially those they claim to care about most, like the poor and minorities – have neither the time nor the inclination to follow the news and the politics as closely as the “political junkie. They can’t even conceive of the notion that most average voters may ask about the candidates running perhaps a week or two before the primary they’re expected to vote in, and they may engage with a general election a few weeks before. All the rest of the time, while the political junkie is engrossed in opinions of “journalists” who don’t know much more than they do,  but who know exactly how to attract attention, the non-junkie voters are working and paying bills and living life.

This is important. We have one job to do this election, and that is to put the adult Democratic Party in charge and stop handing elections to the Republicans. That only requires common sense. 

Most voters also don’t care about your favorite catch-phrases, political junkies. They hear phrases like “income inequality,” “Wall Street” and the “Koch Brothers,” and they yawn. However, the reason they even care about most “issues” the way you do is a good one; they are LIVING most of it. In other words, while the “political junkies” are immersing themselves in the “news” and absorbing so many opinions that match their own, a large number of voters are actually living this shit and they know more than you. Another thing; they’re smarter than most “political junkies.”  Yet, most “political junkies” are dazzled by their own brilliance, to the point that it’s embarrassing. Whereas the (mostly white) “junkies” believe government is the solution to everything under the sun, they also act like the government can never get anything right, unless it’s filled by people exactly like them.

And they can’t accept that such a thing will never happen.

That shouldn’t be surprising; “political junkies” don’t know shit about many things. The problem is, they tend to be very loud and very strident, and they make the rest of us white liberals look bad. They use phrases like “low information voter,” even though they seem to be projecting. Most voters understand the importance of climate change, but they expect the government to do something about it and they have no desire to run around like Chicken Little, shouting, “The sky is falling.” In what way does that make them “low information”? Because they don’t panic constantly and think the best way to fight climate change is to panic and scare the shit out of people? If you think about it, the com approach is rational; running around like Chicken Little does absolutely nothing about climate change.

The average voter’s view of the electoral process is pedestrian; they don’t go onto Google and research every candidate’s view on the issues; they listen through the grapevine and they get their impressions of the candidates from what they hear. And no, that does not mean “the media.” It means they listen to people they come in contact with and they listen to the enthusiasm about candidates and parties. And like most rational people, they won’t listen to anyone shouting to or at them.

Again, most people are inclined to vote for Democrats, and the reason is obvious. Democrats are serious and Republicans are running a clown show. That said, although Democrats are the only party that isn’t batshit crazy, and isn’t trying to tear apart the social fabric of the country, who do you expect them to vote for when they think Republicans are nuts, but the rhetoric from is constantly reiterating that Democrats and Republicans are largely the same, or that Democrats are just as corrupt and incompetent?

It would be one thing if such rhetoric was true, but it’s not even close. In fact, such rhetoric reached Trump level bullshit. At this point in history, there are absolutely no similarities between the two major parties right now.

And when I say none, I mean none. You can whine and cry about Blue Dogs all you want (by the way, that’s another meaningless identifier thrown out there by “political junkies;” most voters just hear “Democrat”), but the fact of the matter is, at its peak, the Blue Dog Caucus never worked in unison to prevent any Democratic legislation from getting to the floor of the House, which is what the “Freedom Caucus” is doing right now. In fact, with the Blue Dog caucus at its peak, in 2009-2010, House Democrats were able to pass 375 bills that were defeated by a Republican minority in the Senate. They also passed the Affordable Care Act. Ironically (?), their staunchest opposition was white liberal “political junkies.”

During Barack Obama’s first two years as president, these white liberal “political junkies” inexplicably trashed Democrats and Obama for two solid years. And FYI, of the 40 current members of the Freedom Caucus, 35 got there by defeating Blue Dogs. In 2010 and 2014, every single defeated member of the Blue Dog caucus was replaced by a teabagger.  So, whenever I hear or read “Progressives” brag about defeating Blue Dogs, I wonder how progressive they really are. Every member of the Blue Dog Caucus voted with Democrats 80% of the time, save one, and he voted with them two-thirds of the time. Voting in teabaggers is not an improvement, it really isn’t. Hell, just TODAY, I listened to a “political junkie” trash Joe Manchin, in a year when Democrats absolutely must take the House and the Senate, where the margin for error is very narrow, since only eight Republican seats are available. Their complaint about Manchin? “He votes with Republicans 33% of the time.”

How stupid is that? The answer is VERY. Here is a guy whose seat we really need to keep, if Democrats are to take back the Senate, and he’s in one of the reddest states in the country. He’s up for reelection, and his best chance to win would be to be a Trump lover; yet, he OPPOSES Republicans two-thirds of the time and he hasn’t changed parties, which would have guaranteed reelection.

The truth of the matter is, “political junkies,” Manchin shows more principles than any of you. If he loses, that makes it more difficult to take the Senate back for Democrats. That means a hell of a lot more than making some sort of idiotic point about 33% of votes with the GOP. A majority means progressives will head every Senate Committee and we can force Lord Donny to veto shitloads of bills and/or reveal that he’s not really a Republican, which will doom him in the long run. And besides, if Manchin is replaced, the teabagger who will replace him will likely vote with the GOP 100% of the time. Of course, the GOP won’t be the majority, so fewer GOP bills will even come to the floor. Nothing about working against Joe Manchin is in any way “progressive.”

The current incarnation of the GOP is the craziest and most dangerous political organization in the history of this nation. They keep engineering the near-destruction of our economy, they block any and all attempts to create jobs and bring the economy all the way back. Worse, it’s practically “rinse and repeat” every time they get a majority.     They want to kill everything that costs money and they don’t think deficits are a big deal. They are destructive. Their “defense” posture seems to be to bomb anyone who looks at us funny or who says bad things about us. They want us to have the biggest baddest weapons available, and when I say “us,” I don’t just mean the military. They do nothing about guns out of fealty to the NRA, even though even most gun owners know gun laws have to be stricter.

The current incarnation of the Republican Party is crazy, and they need to be stopped. But we can’t stop them if we don’t increase voter turnout in every election. Hear that, “political junkies”? Republicans win because of you because you and your “superior political skills” keep making Democrats seem just as stupid and pointless as Republicans. Democrats lose because these “political junkies” keep pushing a false equivalence between the two parties. Going against Democrats now is nothing short of madness. Common sense says we should be putting the best politicians available into office everywhere. The key word is “available,” and there is no Republican right now who is the “best available.” Stop equivocating and use the sense you’re supposed to have. Right now, it’s all hands on deck; even the worst “political junkies” have to be pro-Democrat for a while. I know it sucks for many of you, but it’s the only way to save this country.

There is a side benefit; the only way the GOP will become less batshit is if they keep losing. If they lose for a while, the rational Republicans who are left will wrest control of the party from the crazy “base” and a lot of conservative Democrats will go back to their natural party. That will move Democrats left, which is what white liberal “political junkies” claim they want. The question is, do they have the principle to actually see it happen?

Cutting the Crap on Immigration Nonsense

There is a reason this blog is called “Please Cut the Crap.” There is just so much bullshit floating around out there, someone has to cut through it and tell you the truth.

For example, there’s the hysteria – for the second year in a row! – surrounding the massive “caravans”of migrants who are making their way through Mexico and are supposedly heading straight for our border. The “conventional wisdom” is that they’re all going to come straight for the United States and bully their way across our southern border and live off our massive social safety net, which means we the people will go broke taking care of them.

There is almost too much bullshit in that scenario to cut through. Let’s start with the fact that the “caravan” is an annual event. It is planned ahead of time, and it’s essentially a protest of conditions in Central American countries – the conditions that force thousands to flee in our direction. Another words, it’s not a spontaneous thing at all.

It’s also not the case that they swarm over our borders. In fact, very few of them come over our border at all, and the few that do legally ask for asylum. People see to have really short memories for this sort of thing. Earlier THIS YEAR, the same thing happened, and Lord Donny made a huge deal about it for months, until most of the “caravan” dispersed. Then, he dropped it. He and others seem to forget that perhaps dozens of refugees tried to come over our border to ask for asylum.

Here is a history of the “caravans” and their motivation. As you can see, the destination for most of them is MEXICO, not the United States. Only, you won’t be afraid if they told you the truth and the GOP wants you scared to death. (Source)

Those in the last “caravan” who did come all the way to the United States did so over a legal border crossing and presented themselves for asylum. None of them tried to force their way into the country at gunpoint.

The image I am constantly presented with is that they “illegally” come here and make us “take care of them.” It’s a constant refrain by people who don’t want to seem racist, but who really don’t want more “brown people” here. Well, let me disabuse you of that, too. The people who come here for asylum face massive oppression in their homeland, and they are coming here for the same goddamn reason our grandparents and great-grandparents came here, my fellow white people; to make a better life for themselves and their families. They work their asses off and they pay taxes. They’re not like immigrant Donald Trumps, who scam people and then scam the government to get out of paying taxes. They work and they pay taxes and they produce more than they take, just like most of the rest of us.

The fact of the matter is, everyone, immigrants pay a lot more in taxes than they cost taxpayers. Here is a study showing just that. (Source) Not only that but you can save your bullshit about how much they get in “free healthcare,” too. (Source) Yes, that’s right; immigrants also pay insurance premiums, yet rarely use it, sometimes out of fear of being caught.

What did you think; that the undocumented immigrant working in your workplace had nothing taken out of their paycheck?

And what about those who think we “take care of them” once they get here? For chrissakes, people, our system doesn’t take care of anyone, let alone people who just come here from another country. Perhaps you haven’t heard, but there is no “welfare,” any longer; the Republican Party made that extinct back in 1996. Right now, states get to do whatever they want with their welfare block grant and most states don’t use it to provide subsistence for families. As a result, in most states, especially red states, have no cash assistance available for anyone. More than three-quarters of those living below the poverty line get ZERO cash assistance from the government, and they have slashed SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) so much, the average family gets about $1.60 per meal to make due. (Source)

So, if we don’t provide basic food and housing to poor people who have been citizens all their lives, how do you imagine we’re “caring for” immigrants. I know some of you imagine there’s a huge social safety net and that poor people are buying porterhouse steaks with their Food Stamps, but you don’t get out much if you think so. The GOP has been ripping the social safety net to pieces for a generation now.

Immigrants to not come here and suckle off the government teat because that teat shriveled up and died many years ago. What we are doing with our immigration policy is unimaginably cruel and heartless. We are denying people who want to come here to have a better life – the same reason my white grandparents came here from Ireland, Germany and Poland – the opportunity to do so. We are violating our sacred oath to the rest of the world; that anyone who was suffering from oppression could come here and find safety and security here. Trump has dropped the number of refugees allowed to come here from the already-pathetic 110,000 per year to 30,000 per year, even though refugees go through a daunting vetting process and even though no refugee has ver come here and hurt or killed anyone here.

And please shut up about the money. We’re BY FAR the richest country in the world. (Source) Just because we’re cheapskates when it comes to paying taxes doesn’t mean we don’t have the money to pay for immigrants to come here and be granted asylum. We have plenty of wealth. We have the wealth we need to become the nation we once were – the nation that allowed our white grandparents to come here with every few restrictions.

Yes, that’s the other line of bullshit I hear all too often. “My grandparents came here legally” is a load of crap. Our grandparents generally hopped on a large ship that docked somewhere on the east coast and they were run through a process that included registration and health screening. That’s it. Now, when someone comes here legally, the process to stay here costs thousands of dollars. Where is that money supposed to come from? Our grandparents didn’t have it, and people escaping oppression right now don’t have it.

Last thing; immigrants are not scary. Immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than citizens. (Source) Most immigrants come here legally and simply overstay their visas. The image of Mexicans “swimming over the Rip Grande” or “sneaking over the desert border fences’ is the exception, not the rule. (Source) I live less than an hour from the border and I know very few people who are scared to death of immigrants coming here because most of them just want to be left alone. The fear seems to grow the farther people get from the border, which is why the admonitions I get from people in North Dakota that their new voter laws, which disenfranchise people who live in rural areas, will “keep non-citizens” from voting is so laughable.

No one wants an open border, but we also don’t want to be cruel. Is that too much to ask?

Journalists: You Need to Do Your Job!

It’s really past time for the American press to do their goddamn job, at least when it comes to politics. The American electorate needs a press that informs us properly, so we can know the things we need to know.

What do we need to know? A lot of things, but before I start with that list, let me tell you what we do NOT need…

  • We do not need you to feed us the “news” the readers and viewers tell you we want to know about. You are the journalists. YOU are supposed to report on things that happen, not feed us full of gossip and rumors.
  • We do not need elections and politics covered the same way announcers call the play-by-play in a football or basketball game.
  • We do not need to hear a constant rehash of the past, unless it is directly relevant to today. For instance, the current rehash of the Clinton-Lewinsky matter is completely unnecessary in today’s world. And seriously; no one gives a rat’s ass about Hillary’s goddamn emails. They shouldn’t have gotten so much press two years ago; now, it’s especially insane.
  • We do not need “all sides” of every issue. We don’t need an array of opinions, we just need facts. If your idea of “fairness” includes every side of every issue, you miss two concepts here. Number one, your job is not “fairness.” Also, you increase the likelihood that your story will be more fact-free.
  • We do not need journalism that reports what someone important said, unless that journalism also includes context and seeks to correct the record, where necessary.

By listing everything the public does NOT need from journalists, it’s easy to come up with a list of things we DO need from our press. Unfortunately, we are largely not getting most of that. It’s time for that to change.

  • We need a lot more news programming and a lot less opinion. Right now, all cable news channels inundate us with almost 24 hours of opinions, which can sometimes include facts, but which are not factual in and of themselves.
  • We need editors to do their damn jobs. Again, we need more news and information and we need a lot less of editors telling us what they think we want to know. Last weekend, USA Today ran an op-ed written by the lying asshole sitting in the White House right now and, as usual, the piece was virtually devoid of facts and crammed full of lies, according to a Washington Post fact check. No news organization should publish anything that cannot pass a fact check, no matter who writes it.
  • Along the same lines, we need more journalists to correct the record on the fly. When they are interviewing a newsmaker, especially a politician, and that newsmaker says something that is provably false, it should be the journalist’s job to correct the record. If the interview is live, the corrections should be made as soon as possible after, if not in real time. If it’s taped or printed, the corrections should be included.
  • We need journalists to start using the word “lie” when appropriate. No more euphemisms, just to show us how erudite you are.
  • We need journalists who tell the story and leave themselves out of it. It doesn’t matter what you think. Just report the facts.
  • We need more investigative reporting and we need journalists to get the whole story, without worrying about the “scoop.” In this day and age, no one remembers who came up with the story first, but we do remember who got it wrong.
  • We need less lazy journalism. We need journalists who will go after the story and the details and provide actual context. Context is the key to all journalism. This is the problem with Wikileaks. Journalists dropping documents on them and guessing their meaning is not actually journalism. Showing us a document from an NSA computer is only useful if the journalist consults experts to tell us what the document means.
  • We need more news in our news. We need journalists to follow corrupt practices and not be distracted by the shiny keys politicians and their followers always throw out there for that purpose.

That means sticking to facts. What a politician has to say about something is only news if it’s based on fact. The Orange Toddler’s Twitter feed is not news. The fact that Mitch McConnell finds the deficit “troublesome” is only news if you point out that his party passed the law that caused it and if you mention that he also wants to cut Social Security and Medicare. And their intention to cut those is only news if you also mention the fact that neither of those programs has added a single penny to the deficit.

People need to know that everything they see on the news is true and verified because we all need to know everything we need to know to make an informed decision regarding voting. It’s not just about how a candidate stands on issues, either; these days, it’s about knowing which politicians and parties are putting the country ahead of their party or their ideology.

You Have One Job This Election (And the Next 4-5)

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed a parade of “progressives” touting the website for “Project VoteSmart,” in all sorts of media. I’ve heard them on the radio, I’ve seen them on TV, and I have been personally contacted on Twitter and Facebook about it, as if I hadn’t already used their data extensively on my blog(s) for many years. Hell; they even paid to advertise on my old blog, “The Daily Weasel.”

The fact that these “progressives” are coming out of the woodwork to remind everyone of this fascinating “new” website is strange for several reasons. First of all, the implication is that no one knows about “VoteSmart,” which is absurd. Sure, some young millennial types may not know about it, but most liberals and others who care about voting know to go straight to VoteSmart, when a candidate’s voting record matters.

And that leads to the second reading this latest push is bizarre. In this election, in the current political climate, we’re finally at a point where it really doesn’t matter what anyone’s voting record is on any issue. We know what the Democratic Party stands for and we know that the Republican Party stands for nothing good at all. At this point in time, if you are liberal or progressive at all, you have no choice but to vote for Democrats in this election and for at least the next 4-5 elections.

In the best of times, evaluating voting records is only a minor factor in a voting decision, anyway. I mean, how do you evaluate a Democrat’s voting record when Congress has been ruled by the current version of the GOP for the last eight years, anyway? I mean, Boehner, Ryan and McConnell had as a major platform plank stopping everything Democrats and Obama wanted to do. So, what would an examination of their voting record tell you? The answer, of course, is nothing. Oh, sure, you can point and scream about how they voted according to your personal belief system, but since you will probably be against everything the GOP does, your evaluation of their “voting record” really isn’t valid, is it?

Again, unless the Democrat voting for a certain bill you don’t like actually made a difference in whether or not the bill was passed, any evaluation as part of their “voting record” is completely and utterly pointless. In other words, if 230 Republicans and four Democrats voted for a bill, your whining about the four Democrats is completely ineffective and shows you to be remarkably clueless. Yes, I said “clueless.”

This year’s election is a critical one for the future of democracy in the United States. If you think I’m exaggerating that, you haven’t been paying attention. The Republican Party has been cheating for years, and they have spent the last half century trying to encourage people to not vote. And they have largely been successful because of the professional left and the unicorn left in general. Every time you whine about “Blue Dogs,” you show yourself to be ignorant of how politics works, and you also encourage people to stay home from the polls. Every time you scream at the top of your lungs that the “system is broken,” you encourage more people to stay home and not vote. Every time you declare the system is rigged, more people stay home.

The current version of the Republican Party is a menace. They are destroying the country and they are destroying the world. It is only possible to change the direction of this country’s politics through a majority, and at some point, ALL liberals, including the white ones, have to figure out that we don’t have the numbers to get shit done without aligning with moderates who can at least listen to us and who are willing to help us get part of our agenda done. But more importantly, the GOP has put the United States into the position of being a “can’t do” nation. They are turning us from a superpower into an “also ran.”

In this election, and for at least the next 5-6 election cycles, we have ONE GOAL with our vote, and that is to oust the current version of the Republican Party out of government. Screw voting records, screw who’s “progressive enough. We need Democrats to win everything. That will force the GOP to either reconstitute into something that isn’t anti-American values or force another political party to take its place. I’m not advocating for a one-party system forever, just until there is a second political party that puts the country ahead of party.

It’s Not About the Kavanaugh and the GOP, It’s About Democracy and Standards

There is absolutely no way Brett Kavanaugh should be on the Supreme Court. In fact, if this was the Republican Party of even the George W. Bush era, he wouldn’t be. He neither competent or qualified. 

I can hear the right wing Trumpers screaming now. They’re screaming at their computer screens and saying, “Every president has the right to nominate anyone to the Supreme Court!” And in a way, they’re right. However, the U.S. Senate has a solemn duty to reject someone like Kavanaugh; that’s the reason they have the power to “advise and consent,” and not the power to “rubber stamp” whomever the “president” wants. Their ability to approve whomever passes muster is equal to their ability to reject the unfit candidates put up there by the “president.”

At any other time in the history of this country, Kavanaugh would have been tossed aside a long time ago. Rejected Supreme Court nominees like Harriet Mires and Robert Bork had a lot of political disqualifiers, but neither one was accused to sexual misconduct or sexual harassment and neither one yelled at the Senate and took political shots at Democrats. Kavanaugh did both.

This isn’t just about Kavanaugh’s likely ruling on Roe v. Wade. I mean, it is about that, and I don’t want to minimize that, but it’s more than that. It’s about the beginning of a return to standards we used to hold dear in this country, before we let the whackos have their own major political party.

There is only one reason the Trumpian faithful want Kavanaugh to be seated, and that is, they want to “win.” It’s all they care about. They want to “win” and “own the libs.” That’s what all of this is about. It has nothing to do with banning abortion or making sure Trump’s agenda is carried out, it’s about “owning the libtards.”

Screw that, people. We have to begin the return to actual American standards. If Republicans unanimously approve Brett Kavanaugh and seat him on the Supreme Court, it has to be the last goddamn thing that party ever does. Only TWP Republicans have to vote “no” tomorrow, and if 0-1 vote against Kavanaugh, that has to be the nail that seals their proverbial coffin. I’m still hopeful, because that’s my nature, but dammit, if I’m wrong and all 51 Republican Senators vote for that asshole, there is only one valid commitment the progressive movement can make, and that is to get every non-Republican out there to vote against the GOP once and for all.

In 32 days, there is an election, and we all have to be united in only one thing; our determination to get rid of the current incarnation of the Republican Party for good. Our grandparents made that commitment in 1932, when the GOP caused the Great Depression and were ousted from government for not fixing things, and actually making it worse. Now, the current Republican Party is ten times worse; they are working against the American people, they support a veritable dimwit as “president,” even though he’s by far the most corrupt politician in the history of American politics, and they do nothing about his excesses. The entire party is corrupt, they draw their support from racists, bigots and misogynists, they look the other way when the “president” suggests Nazis are good people and when he throws brown kids in cages after stealing them away from their parents, just because they’re brown and not from here.

Our grandparents banished the GOP from government for 20 years, which was a long time back then, and when they let them back in during the 1950s, the Republican Party stopped our economic progress for four years, and they were banished again for another quarter-century.

This time, they’ve had an inordinate amount of power since 1980, which is almost 40 years. They pushed us to the brink of another depression, and were only saved by Democrats, who bailed out the economy for them. Now, ten years after sinking the economy again, they want to implement the same types of deregulatory “reforms” and they want to dismantle the safeguards Democrats put in place to prevent another meltdown, even as they dismantle the rest of the New Deal reforms.

Whether Kavanaugh’s is seated on the Supreme Court or not, we have to make it clear that we need a return to a basic set of standards for those who represent us in the government. The Republican Party has forgotten who’s in charge. It’s “we, the people.” We need to take it all back.

One last thing. Even if we can create a “Blue Tsunami” this year – and we can, for sure – this is only the beginning of the process. It will take two more elections to take back a supermajority in the Senate and to clean out as many state houses as we possibly can. No more whining about “Blue Dogs” and no more attempts to perfect the Democratic Party and make it pure. Our ONLY order of business for the next decade at least is to get rid of the major political party that sides with Russia and China over our own people. It’s time the Republican Party is gone from the picture until they can prove they care about the United States of America.

It’s not about Kavanaugh, it’s about our country and our democracy. Take it all back and then learn how to keep it.

With Kavanaugh, the GOP May Be Killing Itself Off. Make Sure We Help

The first question everyone should have regarding Brett Kavanaugh is, why is the entire Republican Party risking their viability as a major party on this lying asshole. Of course, Kavanaugh is a judicial clone of Lord Donny; rich, entitled and a psychopath who thinks everyone should believe everything he says because he’s “Brett Fucking Kavanaugh, bitch.”

In other words, there seems to be no real reason the Republican Party would put all their eggs in the Kavanaugh basket. Let’s real here; the Federalist Society could easily find dozens of qualified judges with ideologically reprehensible records who have not been credibly charged with attempted rape and who aren’t blackout alcoholics. Hell; as disgusted as we were with Gorsuch and the circumstances surrounding his nomination, he went to the same prep school as Kavanaugh and no accusations of sexual assault or even lying were made. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, has done nothing but lie and, as part of the process of getting the job of Supreme Court Justice, he has personally insulted most of the people charged with making the decision. Imagine you’re in a job interview and you call the HR person conducting the interview an idiot and tell them they are conspiring to keep you out of the job because of some paranoid conspiracy you came up with in your own little mind. What is the likelihood you’ll get that job, do you think?

Now, imagine that your former employer is putting all of their support behind you getting this new job. They support everything you say to the HR person at your new company, and they back up your conspiracy theory wholeheartedly. What do you think will happen to that company’s reputation?

Yet, this is the situation the Republican Party finds itself in. Why? As noted, they have the option of finding any number of ideologically committed and qualified men who have never been accused of a potential crime. The GOP has had far too much power for far too long and they now represent the worst elements of our society and it’s past time for them to go the way of the dodo bird. But this almost seems as if they are trying to do themselves in this time.

Think about it. Over the past 40 years, since they have had an outsized level of power, they have cemented their status as a whites-only party. They have gone out of their way to alienate every minority group in existence. It started after the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act, when they adopted the “Southern Strategy,” where they focused their recruitment efforts on states who objected to Black people getting equal rights. There went the Black people, who had once been a significant demographic in the “Party of Lincoln,” as one can understand. In the 1980s, when they won back the presidency and the Senate for the first time in 30 years or more, they worked hard to alienate Hispanics and Latinos, by perpetuating stereotypes and demonizing those who come here from south of the border.

That was roughly the same period in which they also started to alienate gay folks, by equating them with pedophiles and other predators and speaking about them as if they were indulging in some sort of perversion. Consider the AIDS crisis, which St. Reagan and the rest of the Republican Party ignored until tens of thousands had already died and then referred to the epidemic as the “gay plague,” because gays just happened to be the first victims in the United States. Worldwide, the devastating disease primarily spread among heterosexual populations, but Republicans “blamed the gays” for spreading it, thus excising the considerable gay demographic in the party.

Now, they seem hell-bent on making women run away from the GOP, as well. That’s essentially what the insistence on Kavanaugh is destined to do. Not only do they want Kavanaugh to legally ruin women’s lives by overturning Roe vs. Wade, but by insisting on elevating a misogynist predator to the Supreme Court, after they elevated one to “president” less than two years ago, but they seem destined to write off women voters for a generation.

In fact, there has only been one segment of the electorate the current incarnation of the Republican Party hasn’t alienated, and that is angry white men. And while they have most of the financial power in the country currently, their numbers are shrinking as a proportion of the electorate and they are outnumbered by white women, anyway.

The current Republican Party seems to know their days are numbered, and they are trying to do themselves in. Perhaps they finally realize how disgusting their ideology is and they are giving themselves a pretext for disintegrating the party and starting over. Whatever it is, they certainly need our help, so let’s make them go away and reconstitute. That means more people than ever showing up to vote for at least the next five or more election cycles and making it so they have no choice but to change.

Why We Lose

Unlike many other white liberals, like the unicorn progressive types, I am prone to ask the question, why do we fail so often?

I mean, it doesn’t make sense, does it? We know somewhat instinctively, that most voters are, or should be on our side, politically. We want everyone to have a great life. We want them to have clear air to breathe and clean water to drink. We want people to get healthcare when they get sick or injured and we don’t want to force them into bankruptcy court if some guy who walks by on the street coughs on them and makes them sick. What we know instinctively we are for is exactly what the average American wants to see happen. Like us, most Americans want children to have a better education. They want the workplace to be more egalitarian. They want the markets to be open and free and they want everyone to have the opportunity to do something great for themselves and their families. We all want every family that works to be paid fairly, at a wage that allows them to live without stressing over such things as how they’ll pay for food or a place to live.

And yet, we lose most of the time. How could anyone be against us? Unfortunately, the answer is too simple. There are two viable political parties in this country and the loudest and most visible component of the progressive movement – led by white liberals – is always facing off against the wrong one. The Democratic Party is the only entity capable of bringing progressive values to government. Yet, those who claim to speak for us spend all their time trashing Democrats and insinuating that both major parties are the same.

The same? If you look at every major progressive achievement in the last 130 years or so, and they have all been put forth and turned into reality by Democrats. Though the professional left likes to whine that the Democratic Party is “no longer the party of the people,” the actual record shows just the opposite. Look over the generalized Democratic platform for 2018 (Source) and compare it to the usual Republican “God, Guns, Gays and Abortion” platform they’ve perpetuated for years and it’s clear why we lose elections. Between the two parties, only the Democrats subscribe to most of the above, and yet, they have only controlled the government for two two-year periods since 1980. How is that possible? Why isn’t the progressive message catching on? 

It’s because there is no progressive message. We actually believe that mentioned above, but we really don’t talk about it. The liberal blogs; most of the time, they are engaged in expressing their disgust over the Outrage of the Day™; right now, all we’re hearing is Kavanaugh and women’s rights, when that isn’t what most voters are concerned about at all. Most voters are against Kavanaugh, but it’s because he’s a childish dick. The professional left and unicorn progressives in general don’t care about that, however; they only care about abortion rights. Those are important, of course, but more important is our loss of standards and the possibility that Kavanaugh could prevent any sort of Trump accountability for bringing our democracy to the brink of oblivion. 

Unicorn progressives, who are virtually all white liberals with means require everyone to show outrage over the Outrage of the Day™, or they are not a Real Progressive™. If any liberal or progressive demonstrates indifference at the Outrage of the Day™ or suggests that the blogs perpetuating said Outrage of the Day™, they are branded Centrists™ and banished from progressive-land forever.  As if the 5-10% of the population who qualify as a Real Progressive™constitute enough votes to push progressive programs forward. We focus on a version of issues that have no basis in reality and dismiss everything else.

In what way is the far left not just like the far right again? 

We also have to have more to sell than not being right wing. What kind of message do we really send when someone on the right says something profoundly stupid, and we react to it and focus on that message? I’m not saying you don’t mention it, but unless you mention it within the context of the Republicans’ overarching ideology, mentioning it only amplifies it. And unless we spend a sufficient amount of time propagating a progressive alternative message, we’re wasting our time even mentioning it. When someone says something stupid, “no, it’s not” is not a cogent message that people can hang their hopes on.

It’s important and necessary to remember the concept, nature abhors a vacuum. When there is an informational vacuum, especially one created by Republicans for their own nefarious purposes, we should be the ones to fill it, not the GOP Media Machine. In order to do that, however, we have to understand something very basic…

Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Sara Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and any of 1,000 other people I could name (and bore you to tears) are not the problem. They are symptoms of a much larger ideological construct that has to change if we are ever to make political progress and create a progressive country.  When are we going to get this, my fellow liberals? How many of these people do we have to get rid of before you realize that getting rid of a series of individual right wingers doesn’t actually fix anything? Remember Newt Gingrich, Jerry Falwell, Dick Armey, Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Tom Delay and countless others like them? How about Dennis Hastert, who raped young boys and had his Republican colleagues cover it up for years. When we only get rid of bad apples and replace them with more bad apples, especially when the new bad apples are worse than the old ones, we have gained exactly dick. Know how did got the Tea Party? Because white liberals attacked Blue Dogs for not being “progressive enough” and purged them. Teabaggers filled the vacancies. Was that somehow progressive? Over two elections, 2010 and 2014, we purged about 45 Democrats from Congress, solely because a few far left white liberals targeted them for not being “progressive enough.” There was no consideration of the makeup of their districts and states, and the purge essentially replaced Democrats who voted with their own party 70+ percent of the time with teabaggers, whose entire ideology is about “owning libs” and voting against Democrats. I’m sorry, but how is that progressive? 

We have to change what’s acceptable for everyone to say and do, and we do that by changing hearts and minds. Ironically, we’re doing exactly that with the concept of gay rights and marriage equality. The rules of debate have changed on that subject because we are making people see that they already know gay people, and that the law is unfair to people they know and love. It’s no longer acceptable to be anti-gay, precisely because we changed the parameters of the debate. It’s also now happening with the #metoo movement. 

We need to change the debate on energy to “where’s the downside to switching to solar and wind power and electric cars?” instead of constantly screaming about massive budget cuts on social programs every goddamn day, why don’t we tolerate the Blue Dogs of this world and work to change the debate to something we can win, like, “Why should people be working 60-80 hours a week and making too little to pay the bills?” or “Why are any working people on welfare?” Instead of constantly getting into it with morons who want to kill Obamacare, transform the debate to “Why should anyone lose everything they’ve worked for all their lives because someone at the supermarket sneezed on them and got them sick?”

Again, the overall question that should infuse everything we discuss (and I mean discuss, not scream about) is,

What do we want our country to be?

Stop obsessing over individual politicians, events and issues, and spend more time trying to change the mindset of the American people. And the only way to do that is to present an alternative that is more acceptable and to let that fill the vacuum. The problem isn’t Donald Trump; the problem is what Donald Trump and the GOP Congress that’s enabling him stand for. The problem isn’t right-wingers, it’s the right wing’s basic philosophy, which is morally and ethically bankrupt. They have far too much influence on the electorate. They get to make policy and laws, and we cede ground to them by focusing too much on whatever gets other liberals outraged enough to click on an article. What we need to oppose isn’t them, but what they represent. It does absolutely no good at all to obsess over Caribou Barbie (Sarah Palin) and her Facebook page, unless we are also promoting our own agenda and message and going after why what she says is bad news.

Changing hearts and minds is very doable. Beginning with the 1932 elections and going for nearly a half-century, we did exactly that, by working with Democrats and not against them. During that period of time, we changed this country for the better. Then, suddenly, beginning with the 1972 election, progressives seemed to forget everything we once knew and we started focusing on individual people and issues, and the country has suffered as a result. And since 1980, when we allowed Ronald Reagan to be elected, look at what’s happened to us. We have descended into the Hellmouth and it will be a long climb out. But our future depends on us making it. 

Here’s a Clue for White Liberal “Political Junkies”

What is it about so-called “political junkies” that makes them watch “the news” and “follow politics” constantly, and yet get nothing out of it? How is it possible to be a “political activist” for upwards of 40-50 years and not even notice that the two major parties have changed drastically and are practically polar opposites from where they were back in the 1960s?

Seriously, folks…

If you think you can sit in front of your computer at this point in time and rail about “Blue Dogs” and “DINOs” as if this was 1968, you need to give up your drug of choice (politics) and look around for perspective. If you think “Medicare For All” is an absolute political winner, your head is so far in the political bubble, you have lost contact with the real world. And if you think the only solution to students graduating from college with too much debt is tuition-free college, you really need to get out more.

Not only that, but there are TWO viable major parties out there right now, and one of them reflexively blocks everything they see as even remotely “liberal.” One political party nominated, elected and continues to support a fat orange narcissist for president, and they do nothing to hold him accountable for anything. The idea that we have the absolute luxury of cleaning our own house while the other party runs the government into the ground is just seriously twisted. Once Democrats have permanent majorities in Congress and most state legislatures and governor’s mansions, then we can start picking off the worst players. You know, like 2-3 of the worst Senators (once Democrats have at least 75 seats) and maybe a dozen or so of the worst congressional representatives (once Democrats have at least 350 seats), but not everyone who doesn’t share your pure vision of an America where the rich pay for everything and the poor pay for nothing.

Come on, people. Politics is a process. There are no shortcuts and wishes do not equal votes. You can want “free college” and “free healthcare” all you want, but unless you elect a majority who are at least willing to listen to us about things we care about, all you’re doing is talking. You’re not an “activist,” you’re a blowhard.

And please stop with the “unity” bullshit. I mean this sincerely, primarily because of the way the unicorn progressives see the term “unity.” Democrats are fully and strongly united on the only issue that actually matters at this point in time, and that is getting rid of the current incarnation of the GOP. If you expect total unanimity on every issue, that will never happen, but it doesn’t have to. Republicans are in lockstep on everything; if you think that’s a good thing, you’re kinda dumb. If you think that would work for those of us on the left, again, you’ve been in the bubble too long. The far right controls about 20-24% of the electorate; we have the potential to control the other three quarters, but only if we don’t dismiss people who aren’t “exactly like us.”

There seems to be a sense among the unicorn types that “Democrat” and “progressive” are synonyms. That has never been the case. The vast majority of progressives are Democrats, but it has never been true that the majority of Democrats are progressive. There are moderate Democrats and there are conservative Democrats. There used to be right wing Democrats, but they all left the Democratic Party almost a half century ago and became Republicans. I’m sure there may be a few strays still registered Democratic because they’re too lazy to head to the registrar to change it, but they always vote Republican because that’s what a lockstep party does.

The strength of the Democratic Party is its diversity and I don’t just mean ethnic diversity. I’m also talking about diversity of thought and political diversity. And as a lifelong liberal, I embrace that. Let’s be real here; in politics, the only way we can get to where we need to go is by winning elections, and the only way to win elections is by voting with a majority. While a lot of “political junkies” don’t seem to grasp this, there are not enough liberals out there to win anything without help. And if we’re talking about white liberals, the number is even more grim. Most liberals in this country are people of color. The number of white liberals probably represents 5-8% of the electorate, which means, we’re not winning anything at all without help.

And now you know why it’s so distressing to see so many white liberals act as if they should be in charge of the Democratic Party. We are not in charge of the Democratic Party. White liberals used to own the Democratic Party, but they largely abandoned the Party about 50 years ago, when they had their first hissy fit and helped elect Nixon and declare themselves “progressive independents.”

It’s even more distressing to see otherwise well-meaning white liberals try to take over the party as if they have a birthright to it. “Your Revolution” is not the Democratic Party’s base. The Party’s base consists of Blacks. Latinos, LGBTQ people, and immigrants, and the heart and soul of the current Democratic Party is Black women. Therefore, when a group of white liberals forms a group (many of whom aren’t even registered Democrats) and makes demands of the Democratic Party and declares themselves the “base,” the level of insult to the actual base of the party is incalculable. “The Democratic Party” doesn’t take minorities and women for granted, the white liberal pseudo-base does.

When white liberal “political junkies” try to take over a party whose heart and soul is represented by Black women and Latinas, I am personally embarrassed. Get a clue, unicorn progressives. Please.

Vote Blue to Make this a “Can-Do Nation” Again

This is one of the most famous video clips in liberal history. And it’s popular for one reason. It’s true. 

The thing is, while everything Will McAvoy says in this video is true, it still makes everyone uncomfortable. Unfortunately, it hasn’t made them uncomfortable enough to actually start a movement, even though we can point the finger of blame at one single, solitary political movement and one single political party. The GOP. 

That’s right; if you truly want to make this country great again, everyone who cares about this country will make sure the current version of the Republican Party never wins another election. Face it; the current version of the Republican Party has turned this country into a “can’t-do” nation. 

And no, Bernie Stans; that does not mean we should be embracing your fantasies in which everyone in the country gets what they want for free. That’s a different discussion. Period. 

Let’s go back in time for a minute. Imagine it’s the America of 1952 or 1962 and the Soviet Union has sent people into polling locations to flip switches and rig voting machines. Imagine Russian operatives had gone into city after city to steal the rolls of paper where people recorded their votes and took them out to open spaces to burn them. There is no way the government, which was run by Democrats at the time, would let that slide. They would be imposing sanctions and they would be threatening the Soviets in every way possible because that’s the only thing Russians listen to. 

Now, in 2017-2018, however, we have a president in the Oval Office who is obviously doing the bidding of the Russian President and who is avoiding saying anything negative about Russia following incidents in which they messed with our democracy to a greater degree than burning our votes. And they continue to try to hack the democracy to this day, and the political party in charge of most of the government, the Republican Party, seems to be fearful of saying anything about it. 

Constider climate change for a minute. We all know that, if the Russians and many other countries declared climate change to be real in 1952 and 1962, and they were investing heavily in solar panels and wind turbines to fight it, the Democrats and most Republicans would have jumped on the alternative fuels bandwagon and kicked major ass to make sure we ceded no ground. Yet here we are, in 2018, and climate change is proven, yet, we have a major political party – the one in charge, no less – who has killed a comprehensive agreement on fighting climate change and ceding the entire market to the rest of the world, even as they are led by Lord Donny, who whines and cries about getting back manufacturing jobs in industries that are outdated and damn near dead. What sense does it make to reject the alternative energy industry, which is the future and embrace the 18th Century technology of the internal combustion engine? Yet, that’s what the Republican Party is doing, while stating that we just “CAN’T” move forward with technology in that area. You know, we can all have a watch that tracks our health and can do an ECG on the spot, but we can’t possibly generate most of our power using the sun, the wind, geothermal energy and/or the tides. 

Look at what we did when it came to the space race back in the day. We did what was necessary to meet a goal that was largely no more than a point of pride. We got a whole lot out of the space program, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to do it first and brag to everyone else how great we were. And there is nothing wrong with that. But I don’t believe it’s a stretch at all to say that, had the current version of the GOP been around back then,   we’d never have gone to the moon. Look at what has happened to the space program with Republicans in charge. We went to the moon a few more times, and then we stopped. These days, space has largely been privatized and while once in a while, a Republican will talk about grandly heading to Mars, nothing is actually done about it. Most of the high points of the last 40 years of space exploration have come from ideas and technology that originated in the 1960s and 1970s. Hell; under the Republicans, we have come to depend on the Russians to send our astronauts to the International Space Station. 

Why the hell did we let Republicans do this to us? Why can’t we seem to do anything worthwhile about any of our most pressing problems? We used to address problems we saw and search for solutions, but now, we seem to see problems and try to avoid addressing them. Prior to 1981, when Ronald Reagan became president and we started going down the unfortunate path we are on, we were well on our way to weaning ourselves from our fossil fuel addiction. By the time he took office, we had been through two oil supply crises, both the fact that oil was no longer a market-based commodity, but a tightly controlled product that was dirty and which had the potential to ruin our economy. The federal government had instituted a number of conservation methods and they were investing heavily in alternative energy production, including solar, wind, geothermal, and other resources. As of 1981, it was projected that we would reduce oil production by between 3-5% every year for decades. which would have put us in excellent shape heading into new century. It would also have prevented the price volatility we experience now, in which the price of gas is either too much or too little. 

Most modern-day Republicans are pure cynics, which means they understand the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Here in Arizona, they are fighting tooth and nail over a proposition on our ballot in November, which would mandate that utilities use more solar and wind power. Now, I know most of you have never lived here, but I have and I can tell you, the one resource we have in plentiful supply is sun. There’s also a lot of wind year round, but there are maybe 25-30 days every year where we don’t see the sun. Most of us steep our tea in big glass jars by sitting them outside in the sunshine. And yet. with most sunshine than most other places in the country, this state’s most prolific utility gets SIX PERCENT of its power from the sun. 

This is not a new thing. In 1981, the first thing Saint Reagan did was to roll back almost all of the energy initiatives Democrats had passed previously, and which were working. They sent us backwards on conservation and renewables and we ended up with a government that was encouraging us to drive gas guzzlers and treat gas consumption as if it is our god-given right. Republicans essentially crashed the oil economy, causing record low gas prices, and insinuated there was so much oil, we’d never pay over $1 per gallon again. They actually sought to perpetuate the precarious situation we were in and then lied their asses off to protect oil company profits. Our situation with regard to energy continues to be precarious, primarily because we can’t do anything about it.

Add to that the specter of climate change and the dangers that brings to our coastlines, our farms and a great number of other industries, not to mention human life in general. Recently, China became the largest producer of solar power in the world, and the response by the Republican leader in the White House was to add tariffs to steel and aluminum, thus forcing China to reciprocate by adding tariffs to nearly everything we buy from them. At the same time, Lord Donny is trying to promote coal, and lying to the people in coal-producing states, telling them coal jobs are returning, which is the opposite of true.There was a time when the mere mention of China as the king of solar power would have moved this country to act to snatch many trillions in profits away from them and invest like hell in solar power.

Of course, that was back when Democrats ran things. Under Republicans, that just won’t happen. They shrug their shoulders and tell us there is nothing that can be done. They swear to us that climate change is a hoax and use that as a pretext for doing nothing about the overuse of fossil fuels.

Since 1981, the GOP has transformed this nation, and not in a good way. we’ve been told by Republicans that we can’t do anything about any of the problems we face. We can’t afford to wean ourselves from oil because doing so is too expensive and impractical. We can’t afford to do much of anything except to waste hundreds of billions of dollars to build out a war machine we will never use. Think about all of the things we’ve been told we can’t do by Republicans, that other countries are doing as a matter of course. Every other industrialized nation in the world has a universal health insurance system, and we finally have the beginnings of one, but the Republican Party would rather kill that than improve it and make it more efficient. Consider that piece of shit bill they tried to push on us last month. Their primary goal is to erase anything good Democrats have done; they don’t even seem to care about doing great things for America and outperforming the Democrats.

With Republicans in charge, we have become a “cant-do” nation.

The vast majority of industrialized nations have built or are building robust transportation infrastructures, including better highways, but also including other modern public transportation projects, including high tech energy efficient rail projects. Yet, despite the fact that we have more wealth than any of those nations, Republican will always kill such projects here, while claiming we can’t afford such “extravagance.” While nations with far less wealth are happily investing public money to build out and then support a manufacturing base that is preparing them for a future that features more technology and fewer fossil fuels, our Republican Party tells us we can’t do such things. They tell us we’re broke, when we’re anything but. Our national household wealth recently topped $100 trillion for the first time, and we were, by far, the first nation to do this. We still the richest country in the world, by far, but it’s in spite of Republicans telling us we “can’t do” anything.

Why would anyone believe anything the GOP said, anyway, especially regarding economy? Their economic ideology caused the Great Depression. Their attempts to undo everything in the New Deal is why our economy crashed in 2008. They believe wholeheartedly in deregulation, no matter how many times it has led to disaster in the past. They loved the $29 trillion in fake money their unregulated mortgage market produced so much, they really want to do it again. 

We can wean ourselves off fossil fuels and eliminate our dependence on countries we cannot safely depend on and we have to stop allowing Republicans to tell us we can’t. And we can make sure everyone in this country has access to food shelter and healthcare. We can afford to build out our infrastructure, including a working electrical grid and a national public transportation infrastructure that is the greatest on Earth. 

However, we can’t do it with Republicans in charge. Let’s get them the hell out of government, so we can do stuff again. As a nation, we have proven that we can do anything, but with Republicans in charge, we have become a “can’t do” nation. That has to stop. 

The Future of Energy is NOW: Vote Blue

Once upon a time, when I was in elementary and junior high, we took a lot of field trips, mostly to Washington, DC and Philadelphia, although there were a couple of trips that could only be accurately described as “indoctrination” into the wonderful world of nuclear power. The first, when I was about 11, was to Calvert Cliffs, ostensibly to hunt for fossils. But in addition to the fossil hunt, we were taken to a “visitors center” for a nuclear power plant that was under construction. Nuclear power was sold to us as “clean” and “cheap.” Two to three years later, we were taken to Peach Bottom, in southern Pennsylvania. that plant was already open, and they had a really elaborate visitors area, complete with cartoons and colorful brochures explaining to us kids that nuclear power would save us from all of that smoke pollution emanating from coal and oil-fired plants (they had a point at the time, frankly).

The indoctrination didn’t really take, but I didn’t really think about nuclear power until 1978, when I was living in Los Angeles and I started protesting the profoundly stupid concept of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, which was located within a few miles of two fault lines. Yes, I said TWO. Between 1978 and 1983, I was involved in a number of protests with the Abalone Alliance, and I was even arrested twice. In 1979, the Three Mile Island disaster woke a lot of people up, and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which rendered a large portion of Russia (then the Soviet Union) uninhabitable, made it clear that nuclear power was too risky. Unfortunately, it took the Fukushima disaster in Japan two and a half years ago to quite possibly kill the concept of nuclear power once and for all, although it will take a long time – and a Congress and state houses with as few Republicans as possible, since the entire party has always been beholden to the nuclear lobby as possible.

Over the past few years, a number of plants nationwide have gone offline, even though closing a nuclear plant isn’t the same as junking a car. The San Onofre plant in California is one of those decommissioned, in part because of its population and because former Senator Barbara Boxer took the lead. Around 8 million people lived within a 50-mile radius of the plant.  Unit 1 was decommissioned in 1992. Now, Units 2 and 3 will go down, a process which will take years. However, there is another dilemma; where to put the waste. Yes, folks. This industry has a nearly 70-year history, and for almost 40 years, we kept building plants, without a plan for the nuclear waste that would be generated; waste that will continue to emit deadly radiation for thousands of years.

This post is not about nuclear power. It’s about this country’s penchant for doing things before we have managed to think things through.  It’s also about suppressing good technology that could conceivably be used to replace bad technology. Worse, it’s about continuing to do those things long after we realize how bad they are, especially when we don’t have to.

There has never been a good reason to build nuclear power plants in this country. In fact, the only reason they even exist in the first place is because of the Cold War. Eisenhower wanted to build a bunch of nuclear bombs as a “deterrent” to the nuclear Soviet Union, and saw building a bunch of nuclear plants as a way to reduce costs to the government. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (another Republican “triumph”) basically turned nuclear power into a consumer product, and encouraged the building of plants, without even testing a few first. over a period of just over 20 years, we built 65 nuclear power plants in 31 states. And again, almost 65 years after the passage of the Atomic Energy Act, we still have no idea where to put the radioactive waste.

Do you know what else happened in 1954? The invention of the first silicon solar cell, which is the basis for solar power so many years later. Here’s a copy of the original patent. In other words, at the same time the government was encouraging the development of nuclear power as a way to make cheaper bombs we would hopefully never use, Bell Labs had made the first major foray into modern solar power. In other words, way back then, we had a choice; we could pursue a technology that could potentially lay waste to huge sections of the country if something went wrong, or we could promote solar power, using the most plentiful energy source on the planet, as well as one of the safest. 

Imagine we had started to invest in renewable energy, beginning with solar, from the very beginning of the modern era. With small investment from the government (almost none during the 1980s), amazing progress has been made. By 1992, with almost no real public investment, except a little during the late 1970s (still think Carter sucked?), solar cell efficiency had risen from 6% to about 16%. Two years later, with a little more investment, the first 30% efficient solar cells were developed, and the first 40% efficient solar cells were developed in 2006. The 40% threshold was crucial to making solar energy viable, and now, the costs of solar power are competitive with fossil fuels. In fact, the cost of what is euphemistically referred to as “clean coal” is so high, it is virtually even with solar power. And that’s without a massive investment and adoption of solar power.

Here’s a report to examine, which came out in 2011. In particular, check out the charts on pages 18 and 29. The government’s investment in solar (and wind and hydro) has been dwarfed by investment in oil and gas power, which is the largest investment, and nuclear power, which is second. Oil and gas and nuclear combined receive an average of more than $8.3 billion per year in subsidies, while biofuels and renewables have averaged $1.4 billion per year, and only in the last 20 years. And let’s get real; most of the biofuels money goes to ethanol production, because large companies like ADM tend to “invest” heavily in Republicans. Biofuels are NOT the future. They’re only marginally better than fossil fuels for the environment, and we really have to get away from burning things for fuel. Also, do we really want our food supply to be integrated into our energy supply? Look at what’s been happening with corn and grain prices over the past decade or so.

Think about it; what are we really investing in when we subsidize oil and gas, or nuclear, which are mature technologies? Why would we not invest heavily to develop solar, wind and geothermal power? Oil is running out. Natural gas will eventually run out. If we ever run out of solar or wind power, we’ll have bigger problems than electricity to worry about. Screw the oil and natural gas companies; we should be plowing our money into building factories to build millions of solar panels, and more into constructing solar farms all over this country. If solar power is competitive now, imagine how cheap it will be after that. We should also be investing in development and deployment of wind turbines. Every new home and/or housing development should be as self-sufficient as possible, equipped with solar panels and/or wind turbines, and our emphasis should move away from humongous power plants, except in large cities. where individual energy plants are less practical. And we should be moving to replace oil, coal and gas-powered plants with solar, wind and geothermal power generation. We should also be conservation junkies. If we can figure out how to run an iPhone for 47 cents per year, and to get the same light from a 20-watt bulb that we used to get from a 100-watt bulb, then we can figure out how to use even less in the future. Imagine a future where we use half the energy, and we’re selling excess power back to the utilities, instead of paying them $300 per month.

We have been investing in the wrong technologies under Republican rule and in the process, we’re making ourselves obsolete. China and most of Europe are already way ahead of us with regard to renewable energy technologies, while we continue to waste our time and money protecting a 19th Century technology that is running out fast, and a 20th Century technology with the potential to destroy us. These are not smart choices. We need to make smart choices. Many Democrats are leading the way on the development of future energy sources, and even those who are not are open to the possibilities. On the other hand, we can’t get Republicans to even discuss this. They are so beholden to the oil and gas industries, they seem completely unable to even consider moving this country forward.

Coal, oil and natural gas will always have a place in the energy landscape, but we cannot continue to depend on them to the degree we do. Yet, with Republicans in charge, we are allowing other countries to lead the world in the use of renewable energy, which is the future. In other words, not only are we killing our air and water and quite possibly our climate without our overuse of fossil fuels, but we are ceding a huge market to countries like China, Russia and Europe, among others, which means we are giving away more of our economic leadership, as well. At a time when Republicans have taken a $900 billion national debt and in 38 years have increased that by 2200%, can we afford to cede economic ground to our largest competitors? 

This is another reason to vote Democratic on November 6 and beyond. It’s time we moved into the future, and the current GOP simply cannot do that.