A Court Bully & The Presidents, Colltalers
Up to now, the Republican presidential race has been an expensive, shallow, and embarrassing public display of the worst of American politics, with as much interest to anyone who doesn’t stand to profit from it as a street brawl. This may change now.
The sudden death of Supreme Justice Antonin Scalia, and a slur all but lost in the blur of one too many, during the latest candidate debate, may alter the campaign from its current sheer madness to an actual point where the stakes may be too high to ignore.
That is because Justice Scalia, in three misguided decades of supporting deeply anti-social causes, and bullying his court mates to try to derail some basic achievements of civil rights era, was also a rabid opponent to any effort to address climate change.
Scalia was, of course, instrumental in the Supreme Court 5-4 ruling last week that temporarily prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing President Obama’s policy on cutting carbon pollution from power plants by 32% by 2030. His vote gave a chance for coal producers and GOP states, to frivolously challenge the law, a tenet of U.S. climate policy.
After the Paris Conference, the U.S. has effectively seized the lead on initiatives to reverse climate change, and that leadership has already had a positive impact on other nations. Flawed as it may be, pressure on coal producers to comply are still vital.
But as recent as 2012, in a exchange with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson, he was still absurdly justifying his 2007 vote denying EPA the authority to regulate carbon
dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
That rule had wide implications in the government agency’s ability to go after notorious corporate polluters, besides muddling the debate over the human role in saturating the atmosphere with toxic gases. But he wasn’t having any scientific argument.
‘The issue was simply whether carbon was an environmental pollutant or not,’ he explained. ‘I did not think it was ever regarded as that,’ he added undeterred. That view was also consistent with a statement, made during a 2006 court argument, that as a Justice, ‘I don’t want to have to deal with global warming.’ Well, now, no disrespect to the dead, but everyone will be better off that he won’t.
Despite all historical revisionist, already at full pace, about his positions, Scalia was never shy from chastising the only agency with teeth sharp enough to bite, albeit with little consequence, big oil interests in what hurts them most: the wallet. Now that profits are down (relatively) and solar and wind energy sources are becoming a reality, they will badly miss his handouts.
The other component of the Republicans’ campaign that suddenly acquired a more transcendent meaning, came out of what’s been a bloody cockfight between lout demagogue Donald Trump and a particularly mediocre field of contenders, including Jeb Bush.
During the Saturday debate, hold on to your seats, folks, he said that George W. Bush not just did not keep the U.S. safe, having 911 happening, but also, shocking, shocking, lied to the American people in order to get into the ‘big mistake’ of invading Iraq.
Isn’t amazing that no one has said that before? Seriously, though, coming from the frontrunner’s loud month, it has to cause a schism within the entire party. Which, from top to bottom, past and present, has yet to even acknowledge the facts.
By now it’s common sense that the Bush administration ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden, and then artificially engendered a monster of its own creation, in the figure of Saddam Hussein, in order to pursue a prefab Middle East agenda.
For all the decade-long slurs and name calling fest that GOP debates have become, that’s one sticking point that may extrapolate the confines of the campaign and provoke yet another round the public debates over the Iraq war. Because, well, Daesh.
The ascendancy of a murderous Islamic gang, bent on topping what even during al-Qaeda’s reign of terror in the years leading to the new millennium, and a decade into it, was exceedingly cruel and despicable, can be directly traced to the disbandment of the Iraqi armed forces, and the chaos of carnage, missing billions, and sacrificed lives that greet the U.S. ‘liberators’ in 2003.
After almost 5,000 troops dead, half a million maimed to life, and an inestimable multiple of that in combatants and civilians, no one from the previous administration, or those who took the Republican bastion from them, has publicly taken any responsibility. It’s unlike that they ever will, given that Jeb and most of the others love to aggrandize Bush’s legacy. Despite following it up with promptly debunked half truths about his own role during the invasion, Trump may have done us all a favor.
There are unresolved issues that still trace us back to 911, and the facts that led to it. From the still on Afghanistan war, which killed more civilians than ever in 2015, according to a United Nations report, to the nightmare of security and surveillance states preying on citizens, apart the periodic explosion of bodies in terror attacks, not even Orwell could’ve envisioned it being so bad.
Now if only Democrats would seize the moment and turn that into a progressive discussion over public accountability and transparency, it’d make a huge difference. For what their own campaign may lack in grandstanding, it has plenty of hot air too.
President Obama may have an opportunity to advance the climate change agenda that benefits us all, and the American people, another chance to meditate on the arguably greatest mistake of this generation, the Iraq war and what it meant to the world.
That, however, is for another time, lest not bore to death our overseas readers with American politics. Even that at some point, we’re bound to pay attention, just as with the current glacial temperatures in the Northeast, for now, stay safe and have a great week. WC